The receiver is held tight to my ear. I hear him breathing. He’s likely said all he’s going to say, but I haven’t been listening for some moments now. I hang up and stand in the bedroom. I hear the cars moving along Whitman Avenue and the refrigerator shakes it’s cubes into the tray. Mrs Knapps’s dog yaps at a passing bus. I stroke the bedspread as if a cat and become consumed with a bit of lint on the rust-colored, seventies style, shag carpet. I stare at it, as a lost eighteenth century mariner might gape at seeing the Rock of Gibraltar upon the horizon. Unfortunately for me, there is little salvation in the lint.
The crying starts unnoticed until I am in motion and wailing. The pacing is as comforting as a rocker. Back and forth, a lioness stuck in her cage. It goes on like this for sometime, until the sun has set and the furniture have become fat ghosts sharing my miserable company. Whoever I think I am is now gone. I wring my hands, gnash my teeth and Where the Wild Things Are comes alive in my living room. An entire life planned out, suddenly gone from under my feet. I drift in the apartment completely lost at sea and consumed by a sickening, emotional scurvy. My inner map has stretched as far as it’ll go. I am in uncharted waters and it’s depths are pulling at my skin leaving me nearly transparent in the bathroom mirror. A creepy jellyfish woman with mascara streaked cheeks.
A rage is brewing strong and at any moment I will brake the cell of this room and run wild into the street, I think. That’s when I hear the knock. Stopping to listen, the crying held back with Herculean effort it comes again. A small voice.
“You left your lights on”.
What? It makes no sense. A five year old’s shuttering sob racks my limbs. Who the fuck is interrupting my death wail?
“Miss, you left your car lights on”.
Air drifts out of my lungs on the simple reality. My car lights are on. My world is crashing, but in the end it’s a Tuesday night and you’ve got work in the morning. Wiping my nose on my sleeve, I grab the keys. A dead battery would be like insult to injury, and here you are in a curious moment. Opening the door to thank Mrs. Knapp as if for a basket of biscuits on Sunday and pretending you don’t look a horror show. She smiles, and I hope she’s blind and not offering me pity. Jogging down the apartment steps, heart torn out, but remarkably mobile. Spry even. The wind feels cool on my skin. She’s telling me about that time she had a dead battery and I’ve gone from crushed heroine to benign neighbor. Instead of Wuthering Heights your trying to keep her dog from humping your leg.
Sometimes life turns on a dime. No interruption and you spend an evening slipping into depression and misery. A bottle of wine spent, snot-filled tissues littering the floor, maybe a box of Oreos diminished to crumbs. Or get interrupted and lose that momentum to be completely self-absorbed. A lost chance to be fully lost. She wants to talk about why the rose beds aren’t being kept up. “It’s a tragedy,” she says. I realize I’ve got nothing to give the miserable rosebuds, but I suddenly find I’ve never been fonder of them. She pats my hand, but says nothing. Shit, she’s not blind.
The wailing has gone and I am left with ordinary “You’ve been betrayed and dumped” crying. Not nearly as dramatic as the wailing. And in that I feel the most bereft of all. Not even my grieving feels potent. That’s when the mind turns off and you go make your lunch for the next day and lay your clothes out. You put on a rerun of Seinfeld and pretend you’ve never seen this one. It’s odd how quickly being alone again sinks into the bones.
A work in progress from Writer’s Church, hosted by Marj Hahne. Inspired by “This is the Beginning of Time” by Sherrie Flick