Wednesday, February 14, 2007

A room all to oneself.

That's what every writer needs. With a door that locks.

I'm having issues with being a loving, supportive wife and a dedicated writer.

Well, not issues, really.

Just one bad instance.

I was working on a story and I was in that zone. That wonderful place where disjointed scenes are starting to smoothly transition, where natural dialogue is flowing like water and I can finally see the end! Huzzah! One last ghost haunting my head!

Then my husband comes in. He's upset about a work thing and he needs someone to listen. Well, that's what I'm here for, right? So I stop writing mid-zone. Thinking that it is only for a minute.

I tried to help him, phrased it badly and hurt his feelings. He got mad at me for sounding just like everyone at work, made some "how come it's always my fault?" statements, I said that he was too sensitive and told him to "man up" (which is mean and sexist), apologized, was forgiven, listened, discussed solutions, phrased my suggestions in diplomatic ways. He felt better.

This took an hour. When I tried to go back to writing I couldn't because I was too upset!
Tearing my hair out
Now all I could think about were his problems at work and I was getting pretty pissed off at him for throwing of my groove.

Afterwards he said "Man, I feel so much better now. I just needed to vent, now things don't seem so bad."

Good for him.


Monday, February 05, 2007

After lunch

Heather is outside, stretched on a blanket with a book. She looks happy. The Aunts watch her as they clear the dishes. She offered to do them, but they told her she was on vacation. No chores allowed. Iris fills the sink with soapy water and rinses three plates, three cups, and a blue platter that held chicken sandwiches half an hour ago.

The little pink cell phone next to Heather begins to sing. It is a song the Aunts don't know, and even if they did, they wouldn't acknowledge it as music. Heather's face is yanked from its contentment. She picks up the phone quickly, as if it will explode if she answers after more than two rings. Althea and Iris cannot hear what she is saying, but they know to whom she is talking. The tautness in her mouth and lines in her forehead tell them. Her husband.

They have not talked to Heather about her husband since she married him. They told her not to. They told her he wouldn't make her happy, that he was no good.

She declared that it wasn't true. He was never unfaithful, never abusive. He didn't steal, he had a decent job...

"I didn't say he was a bad man." Iris had snapped "but he is no good."

She married him anyway. What could they do? She was nearly thirty, old enough.

In the three years that they have been married, he has given her nothing. He has never given her a bruise, and he has never given her a kiss that lifted her from the ground. He has never verbally abused her, and he has never told her the creativity and intelligence she possesses are capable of great things. He has never cheated on her, but he has never given her the assurance that he never would. He has a job that requires the barest minimum of work, that barely pays bills and offers nothing to the greater good of society. He never thinks of anything outside himself, his immediate and superficial wants.

Yet he takes all of the love, devotion, energy, time and money that Heather brings, and he takes it with no word of gratitude. He is Mediocrity, and he does not desire to change. He pulls Heather down so he does not feel lonely.

Now he is whining about all the things he has to do in her absence (clean, cook, shop for groceries). Every year he calls her after she has been gone a few days, acting as if it's been a tour in Afghanistan for him. She used to stay a month. Last year he got her to go back after three weeks. This year it will be two. Less if he can tire her enough from the other end of the little pink phone.

"What a waste." Althea sighs.

Iris grumbles. "I almost wish he'd smack her once, just so she'd have to leave."

"She would. He knows that. He never will."

Althea pulls a cookie from the jar...a bell rings when the lid is lifted, and Iris automatically dries her hand and holds it out.

They chew oatmeal and chocolate chips. Althea watches her beloved niece close the phone, with an irritated and guilty face. The sun has gone behind a cloud, and Heather looks up, silently begging for it to come back.

The Old Sisters' eyes meet and Iris says "She's never going to leave him."

Althea looks at her sister in silence and says nothing.

But she thinks.


Your book is upside down.

Your little brow forrows as you realize something is amiss.

Turn the pages left to right.

You know how pages turn.

Slowly, slowly turn the book around so it is rightside up.

You smile.

I wonder if it’s a fluke.

You pick up another book. Upside down.

You turn pages.

Left to right.

This time, you realize right away and turn the book around.

You know how books are read, even though you can’t read yet.

You abandon the books and go to your squishy stacker.

The bear is impaled. You hate this.

You want your animals with the holey middles off the stick
so you can drag them around with your teeth
and put your hands through them.

Frustrated, you tug, tug, tug at the bear.

Then, a dawning. You slide the bear off.

Squawk of glee. You have it figured out.
Smile, you're one!