Monday, August 23, 2010

A curtain.

I can't say how long I stood there, with Mrs. Linden looking up at me. Eventually, she stood, and walked to the door. She left and I found myself taking deep, gulping breaths, which only made me wonder why I was still breathing.

The door opened again and she re-entered, carrying a small glass of water, which she handed to me. I realized that my hands and knees were shaking, and I sat.

There were so many things that made no sense. My mind felt crowded and jostling, like an airline counter when a flight is cancelled at the last minute, leaving all the passengers stranded and wanting answers. I clutched the glass and looked at the water. Mrs. Linden took a deep breath and began to speak.

"When I was 68 years old, I celebrated my 45th wedding anniversary by going on a cruise to Alaska. We had a spectacular time, my husband and I. I had retired from teaching. He had sold his business. I was looking forward to visiting my children and two grandchildren. But, toward the end of the trip, I didn't feel well. A very short three months later, I found myself here, in a room very much like this."

I felt a flash of annoyance, shifting in my chair, wondering why we were talking about her life, when it was MINE that had just ended. MY life that had just been stolen.

Calmly, she continued, "Like you, I was confused in the beginning. Bewildered and, eventually, angry. I was so young--not as young as you, obviously--but, still..." she caught my eye "I felt much like you do."

"You were expecting a baby, your first, I believe. I can imagine that you had dreams of raising that baby, and others perhaps."

Mrs. Linden said the last sentence kindly; carefully. Her tone brought my dry eyes to her face, which was set intently towards mine. "You suffered a fatal embolism, Anna. Instant and painless. There was nothing you could do--there was no way you could fight it or see it coming."

I could feel my emotions at the edges--like a tsunami, the numbness was temporary and fragile, the tide of my emotion being pulled out so that it could come crashing down on me with greater force and intensity.

Again, I whispered hoarsely "What is this place?"
"This" she answered, "is your waiting room. It is the place for you to mourn your own death. It is the place for you to ask your questions. You can remain here, as long as you need. If there is anyone you would like to see, I can bring them to you. It is the place for you to say goodbye. When you are ready--you can just open the door and leave."

She stood, smoothing her corduroy jumper with her hands, and in a more business like tone said, motioning to the heavy brocade drapery "Behind that curtain is a window to your old life. The people that you love and left behind are there. Sometimes we need that--we need to see that they're alright. I would advise you to watch with caution... but that is up to you."

Turning to me, she grasped my arms in her hands, and looked into my eyes for a moment. She nodded slightly and said "I'll be back to check on you. Let me know if there is anyone you need to see." With that, she slipped out the door, letting it click quietly behind her.

With two long, desperate strides I crossed the room and wrenched back the curtain.

Friday, August 20, 2010

A small room.

The room was small and square. Sparsely furnished, the main piece was a set of two simple, blue wingback chairs that reminded me of something my mother would've chosen for the living room. In between the chairs was a slender cherry wood table and a silver lamp, which was turned on, casting a warm glow on the room. Next to the lamp was a short, round bud vase holding a single white peony. It's fragrance tinged the air only slightly--more like the scent of a memory than anything else. A curtain hung over one end of the room, made of a heavy dove gray brocade, and on the opposite wall was a door. Looking around, I took all of these details in quickly, rubbing my hands on my arms. The room was pleasantly warm, but I felt slightly chilled--like I'd come in after being out in the cold for a long time.

I moved over to one of the chairs and sat in it, watching the door. I wasn't sure where I was, or quite how I'd gotten there. But I didn't feel anxious. That surprised me, slightly. It occurred to me that, not knowing where I was should have made me worry. But it simply didn't.

I closed my eyes and sunk deeper into the chair. For all their simplicity--it was very comfortable. For the first time in months, I felt like I could fall asleep and sleep for hours and hours, uninterrupted. As I sat, waiting, time seemed to move quickly around me.

A very soft knock at the door opened my eyes as the handle turned with a click.
I stood as it opened and I found myself face to face with a kind, familiar face.
My second grade teacher, Mrs. Linden.
Her face, just as I remembered it, smiled at the surprise she saw play across my features. Her gray hair, plaited into a braid. Smile lines around her mouth and eyes. I even glanced down to notice her hands, which had always been dusted with chalk as she waved them around energetically. They were clean now, but still looked just as wrinkly and soft.

Stepping forward into the room, she put her arms around me briefly and reached up to touch her cheek to mine. I was surprised to find that I was taller than her. When I'd seen her last, that had been different. Some things had changed.

"It's good to see you, Anna" she said, cheerfully, "I have to say I wasn't expecting to see you yet, but I'm glad just the same."
"You too" I responded automatically, pausing briefly to wonder what she meant by "yet." I hadn't really expected to see her again, ever.
She gestured to the chairs, "Please, sit! Let's catch up and chat for a few minutes. I'm sure you have questions."
I took my seat again and she went and sat opposite me. I looked at her and was aware that her hazel eyes were looking at me very intently, if kindly. Searching for something. I was the first to look away and down at the peony.
"I love peonies. But they're out of season right now."
"Yes, I would've imagined you'd like them. They're some of my favorites as well."
After a pause, I looked at her again. She sat back in her chair. She had on a forest green corduroy jumper with a peach turtleneck under it. Just like I remembered her.
Finally, I took a breath and said "I don't know where I am."
She nodded, but said nothing.
"I don't even really know how I got here" I laughed, embarrassed.
"Don't worry about that. I think you'll find if you think hard enough, you'll remember. But it's really not important" was her easy reply.
"Oh, well. I guess if it doesn't matter... can you tell me where I am, though?"

And as suddenly as I had uttered it, I felt a tremble of unexplicable sadness that took me by surprise. My eyes sought hers and suddenly there was a flash of remembering. I realized that tears were springing to the corner of my eyes and my hand flew to my mouth. Mrs. Linden knelt quietly by my chair, her hand on my knee.

I was shaking my head, trying to decipher the memories that were suddenly spreading out before me. Memories that didn't seem to be my own, because I wasn't in them.

Placing her hand on my cheek, Mrs Linden lifted my head and said "Yes, Anna. What you're remembering? Yes."
I stood suddenly, and she knelt back--looking up at me.
"I'm dead." I whispered.
"Yes." was her soft, sympathetic reply.

Friday, March 12, 2010

Poke it with a stick...

I haven't written on this blog in forever. Maybe you've noticed.

But I have been writing! If you stumble across this sleeping blog, and want to come get to know me better, then come on over. I would love to have you.

Would you be mine, could you be mine, won't you be my neighbor? :)


Tuesday, January 19, 2010

I am in love...

Dear Dave,
I am sorry. I used your Marshall's gift card.

It just couldn't be helped.

Love you,
I love you

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Biographical Sketches... Rose Standish

Feet slipping over the rocks and mud, Rose picked her way down the hill. Her head was bent against a vicious wind that whipped her skirts against her legs and stung her face. She withdrew even deeper into her rough cloak and a shiver passed through her. Pausing, she glanced up at the pale sky.

"How long?" she wondered "How long until spring finds us?" Placing the wooden pails on the ground, she rubbed her hands together, then picked them up again and, once again, slid downward toward the fort wall at the edge of the water.

Reaching the well, she joined other women filling their buckets with fresh water. Few of them spoke. It had been a long winter. Unkind, even brutal. The fact that the cold continued now even into May taxed even the most patient of them. Not wishing to complain, they said little. They all knew that they were tired of fish. They were tired of ground meal cakes that had no flavor. Most of all, they were tired of the constant cold, and the incessant wind. They wished for warm breezes. They wished for things, green and growing. Too often, unbidden, their thoughts turned to the tulip fields and meadows of daffodils at home.

"Not home." Rose reminded herself, firmly. She hoisted the filled buckets and steadied her footing as she turned her back toward the wind. England would never be home again. This was her home--the place she had chosen. She had agreed to come with her Myles. She had promised herself that she would never look back. It shamed her to admit that there were times when she let her fingers dip into the frigid waters of the Atlantic, just to touch the same ocean that touched the shores of her native land. This was something she told no one.

With the wind at her back and the weight of the filled buckets to steady her, the climb back up the hill was easier than the way down. "Let the wind carry me home" she thought, and then smiled to herself.

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Biographical Sketches... Helen Keller

I've decided to try a few short biography sketches of real people that I admire. Just an attempt to get into their heads. To try on that character, and that voice. My first one is Helen Keller. The first chapter book I ever read was one on Helen Keller, and to this day, she remains one of my favorite people. I've chosen to do a sketch on the day she met Ann Sullivan in March 1887. Helen was 7 years old, and had been blind and deaf for just over 5 years...

It was spring.

Sitting on the front porch, resting her hand on the smooth wood pillar, Helen took in a deep, hungry breath. She could tell it was spring. There were so many new smells--some of them strong, and assaulting. Some of them she had to really concentrate on. And there were smells missing; she couldn't smell as much smoke from the fires as before. The air was warm, and there was a spice to it.

Groping down off the porch, she felt towards the leaves of a bush, and then sunk down on the ground next to it. Helen dug her fingers into the dirt, and smelled the wet earth. Rubbing her fingers together, she felt the clay crumble. She dug some more, and then her finger bumped something... cool and wet. Carefully, with one finger she stroked the creature and felt it recoil and squirm. With two fingers, she lifted it up and put it on her hand. She felt it move. Then she laid it back into the dirt, careful not to smash it. She wondered what it would feel like, to be down in the dirt, where it was cool.

Scootching backward on her rear end until she felt the grass, she lay down. The grass was stiff and prickly. Not soft. It scratched through her tights. She lifted her legs off the grass and held them for as long as she could. She brought them down to the ground, hard, and was startled to feel something big and furry under them that darted away. She laughed. It must be the cat. She got up on all fours and crawled slowly toward to house, searching with her hands for the cat.

She knew that the cat hated her. It ran from her, and she had to find it. Sometimes, when she caught it, she would tug at it's fur. It would scratch at her. Then her mother would try to take the cat away. But she wouldn't let her. The cat was hers.

Suddenly, she felt soft vibrations through the ground and sat back on her heels. Someone tapped roughly on her shoulder. Martha. Only Martha would poke her like that. She made a sign to Martha that meant "WHAT?" and Martha replied by pulling on one of her hands. That meant she was to come inside. She signed again "WHAT?" and Martha rubbed her face. She needed to get clean. Her mother was always wanting her to get clean. To meet new people.

She sighed and got up, allowing Martha to lead her inside the house. She dragged her feet whistfully, and took another deep breath. But it was such a beautiful day.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Merry Christmas.

As we sprinkled reindeer food on the lawn tonight, I got impatient and dumped the rest of the baggie out in a pile on the lawn.

My husband snorted and said "Who's that for? Fatzen?"

Then he chuckled and continued "On Dasher! On Dancer! On Prancer! On Fatzen!!! FATZEN! GET UP! GOOOOOO!!!"


I feel a story in the works. Tailored especially for obese childrens. ;)

Merry Christmas!

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Revised Christmas List...

I made up my Christmas list weeks ago.

But I've changed my mind.

I want new stuff:
  • I want the germs that are plaguing my house to cease and desist. No more vomiting. Please. And if my 15 month old could stop emitting farts that smell like a Port-a-Potty on a July afternoon at the fair, that would be AWESOME.
  • I want to be able to find a pair of tweezers. I know. It sounds like an odd request. But, somewhere in this house, I own FOUR PAIRS of tweezers. And yet my eyebrows are starting to look more and more Old Saint Nick-ish by the day because I.can't.find. a single pair. All four of them would make a great stocking stuffer.
  • Somehow in the past week, the name ABBY has appeared on my darling, perfect, red mama chair. I love this mama chair. It's my favorite Craigslist find ever. But the big, black ABBY is really kind of killing the appeal. When I asked my kids, glaring at the 5 year old, WHO wrote it, they responded "Um... Abby?" I would like "Abby" remover.
  • I would like my kids to decide that wearing pants is a good idea. Especially if they insist on dancing in front of the front window to "Run, Run, Rudolph", as is their habit.
  • I would like "The Drummer Boy" to I'll bet his mother hated the drum every bit as much as I do.
  • My cheekbones. (Okay, it's a repeat request. I asked for them back in 2005, 2006, 2008, as well. But, hey, at least 2007 was a good year.)

That's all for now, but stay tuned. It may change again.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Year 2: In which I never post because of "stuff."

I am currently not wearing a bra.

This is unthinkable for me.

But the Childrens have just been so darn needy this morning. They're always wanting something. Some of them are understandable. Like breakfast. Cereal. Not that cereal. That one. Without milk. No. With milk in a cup. Not that cup. That's a boy cup.


And now the Wee One, henceforth known as the GREMLIN, wants her thumb sucked, but she doesn't want to do the sucking herself. She wants ME to do it. And if I don't? Then she's going to sit there ON my bosoms (because they are hanging THAT LOW thanks to her and her siblings) and cry/whine/act like a teenager denied her prom date.

Fine. I'll even suck your thumb for you. Lazy child.

But can I at least get a bra on???

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Day 172: Date

Sitting at a table for two. Or six. There are no quiet tables at Chili's. They are all built for groups.

Or just two.

The air is filled with chatter and laughter. Waiters and waitresses skim past each other as they bring food to the table. Sizzling, steaming plates and skillets. Over and over, "Careful, that plate is hot." From the other corner of the restaurant, a group of waiters with an enormous sombrero converge on a birthday table and sing their rendition of happy birthday. I wonder to myself, amidst the clapping, when a new employee learns the song--is it part of their training? And is the whole restaurant expected to join in?

Sitting on opposite sides of the varnished table, my husband and I. Between us, a bowl of chips and a bowl of salsa. He is talking.

I realize how rarely he gets a word in edgewise. How the only time that I really hear him talk like this, about his work, his calling, what he heard on the radio, is on these dates. I feel guilty about that.

I reach out and take a chip and dip it into the salsa, and I watch him...

This restaurant is trendy and small. The settings are eclectic. The wine list is long. We had to get a reservation for our tiny table by the window, a candle in the middle.

Conversation rises and falls, like a wave. The tables are full of couples, although a few have the tables pushed together. Our waiter is wearing black, his arms lined with tattoos. All the waiters and waitresses are wearing black, their shirts expensive. Cashmere, maybe, for the women. Extra starch for the men.

My husband smiles at me across the table, holding the single page menu displayed on brushed leather in his hands. The waiter appears and whisks our wine glasses away, slightly disappointed, when we request only water. With lemon. He runs through the specials of the day, which leave us staring at each other in confusion--did he just say bone marrow with a blueberry sauce?

"We'll need just a few more minutes." my husband says, raising one eyebrow at me. His foot taps mine under the table, and I look down, smiling.

In the end, I order the squash filled ravioli. He orders the bone marrow, making a face at me when it's delivered actually in the bone, with a sprig of sage sticking out of the top. And I watch him...

"This is really good." my husband says, dipping his spoon into his Frosty dessert.
"What do you think these are made of?" I ask, twirling my spoon.
"You probably don't want to know" he laughs.

Back and forth. Back and forth. We're quiet, as we eat our Frosties, and swing on the swings at the local park. I am watching the small group of teenagers, sulking in the corner by the tennis courts. I glance over at my husband, who is gazing at the sunset.

He loves sunsets. Sometimes I forget that.

I scoop out the last spoonful and eat it, then look over at him. I find that he is watching me. And I smile.