She rocked in her armchair, her fingers wrapped around her throbbing skull. The creaking of the old springs was only making the pain worsen–or was it? She paused, and realized that the rocking was the only thing keeping her conscious. Through the dark haze she returned to motion, and it eased the slightest bit. Enough for her to keep her sanity.
Hours later, days later, she woke on the floor in front of her chair. The clock told her that hours had passed, but the soreness in her knee told her it had to have been at least a day. She fumbled for her phone on the table nearby. Hours. Only hours. A sigh of relief escaped her lips. At least she wouldn’t have to find another job again for not showing up.
Her stomach grumbled its discontent, and she thought back to the apple she ate the day before, the last food she’d had. The corner of her mouth drifted upward, and she took a moment to appreciate the little things in life: a pain-free head and Pink Lady apples. She rubbed her knee another moment longer before rising, slowly but surely, and heading for the kitchen.
The apple bowl contained one shiny but lonely specimen, and she picked it up and took a bite, chewing thoughtfully as she rummaged through the pantry, then the fridge. Juice dripped down her chin, and she absentmindedly wiped it with the back of her hand. She paused. Something was wrong.
The silence struck her like a bolt of lightning. The silence. She checked her phone again for the time, praying that she was muddled and confused and didn’t know when it was.
She was neither muddled nor confused. He was over two hours late. She dropped the apple in the sink and rushed down the hall to check the bedroom, hoping against hope that he had somehow slipped by, not noticing her lying on the living room floor.
The bed lay empty, sheets unmussed and pillows perfectly aligned. She checked her phone again. No missed calls. No texts. Thumb shaking, she called the pizza place twice before correcting her sim enough to call him.
Straight to voicemail. She sank to the bed, mussing the sheets and misaligning the pillows. He never let his phone die. Why would it go straight to voicemail? Hope leapt in her chest. Because he was calling her, of course! She kicked herself for choosing just the wrong moment to call.
Her migraine returned like a gunshot, and she dropped her phone to the floor. Tears fell from her eyes, and she collapsed to the bed, never hearing his Berlioz ringtone as he called her back.
He crawled through the mud and the filth, pausing every now and then to catch his breath and take his bearings. So far, so good: he was staying on course. The jungle and rattle of his pursuers’ equipment had long since faded, and he felt the first dim stirrings of relief deep in his gut. He was going to make it. He was going to be safe. The positivity sustained him for another hour or so, but finally, exhaustion conquered his will.
In the shelter of the next large tree he found, on the firmer ground beneath it, he stopped to pull himself up to a gently reclining position. He listened to the faint rustle of the leaves above him and to the louder chirping and croaking of crickets and frogs. Before he realized it, he was asleep where he lay.
I have been at work for approximately 28 years so far today, and this is all I’ve written. Not even a full sheet of scratch paper.
I don’t even feel the need to finish it or establish anything. Oh, well.
Tomorrow’s another day.
Another day to piss people off by pointing out that they have no right to dictate how someone unrelated lives her life. Even that hasn’t helped how long and draggy this day has been.
Maybe this final hour will be slightly less than six subjective years.
I can’t tell yet if I’m dreaming or just waking up. The feeling of comfortably floating is the most prominent sensory input I can process right now.
I feel the footprints of awareness pacing through my head, slow and muddled like a tortoise in quicksand now, but they’ll catch up.
They’ll catch up.
I”m still floating, but in my bed now, my big comfortable bed. I’m floating among the big fluffy comforter and the heavy feather pillows and the soft cotton sheets. I snuggle in a bit deeper and cross my fingers that I’ll simply fall back asleep so I won’t have to make any decisions today.
I open my eyes.
My dream of dreaming was not meant to come true today. It’s time to get up, get dressed, get ready. I’m not sure what I have on my schedule for today. Maybe a lot, maybe a little.
I roll out of bed.
I groan slightly with the effort; standing is a much a shock to my relaxed muscles as the blinding sunlight was to my sleep-adjusted eyes, but once I’m up, I’m up and at ’em. A few quick tosses and corner twitches, and my bed is made.
I rise on my toes.
Reaching my arms to the ceiling and rolling my shoulders provides a satisfyingly deep stretch, and I lower myself to my heels slowly. I glance left, and the key on my dresser reminds me of the mission I set for myself today. Time to get a move on.
The clock chimes seven.
I’m not sure how early the locksmith opens. I google it while brushing my teeth. He opens for business at eight. I brush a little bit slower. No point in loitering in the parking lot when I can loiter at home.
I’m out of sugar.
This does not bode well. My morning was going along swimmingly until the extremely light heft of the sugar bowl let me know that something is very wrong.
I squeeze my eyes shut.
I tip up my mug and power through the dark bitterness of black coffee. Not my favorite thing to do, but it’s nearing time to get the heck out of Dodge.
My shoes wait next to the front door.
I jingle my keys in my fingers as I slip into ballet flats for the short trip to town. I trot down the front porch steps and hop in my car, and try to crank it.
I try to crank it.
But the damn thing’s dead. Too bad I couldn’t get back to sleep this morning. I guess I’ll get a spare key made tomorrow. Or the next day.
Cubing the Stories at TBP
See, I told you those ‘rules’ were optional. Rules schmules.
Tonight, I got nothing. So I set a timer for ten minutes, and we’ll see what we get.
We went to a philosophy group meeting earlier tonight. I wasn’t up for writing about it because it’s late and I have to get up early, but I will tomorrow. And it will be entertaining.
I did warn them, when we were going around the room introducing ourselves. I’m a writer, I’m just here for fodder.
I meant it, but I had no idea what I was getting into.
In other news, I have to figure out what I’m going to do for my brother’s graduation next month. Someone, either my brother or my mother, initially gave us the wrong date, and now that we know the right date, it’s too late for Ian to get someone to work for him, so he can’t go.
I’m not looking forward to going to work tomorrow. No special reason, just don’t wanna. You know? Bleh.
What else? I’m going to make jello shots this weekend with some chocolate covered pretzel vodka. Surprise, Ian! He didn’t know about this. I have to figure out what to mix it with, though. Any suggestions? Maybe chocolate soda. I don’t know if I can still find that at the store.
Here’s some news. I’m ghostwriting a book. It’ll be coming out in installments, and the first one will be out next month, in time for some kind of convention. It’s a fair gig. I was recruited for editing, but I don’t think he was aware that what he was really asking for was a ghostwriter, not a copy editor.
Seriously. No inspiration right now.
Nothing. Nada. Zip.
Little known fact about me: my best friend and I practiced saying the alphabet backwards as fast as we could just in case that was ever a sobriety test. When we were twelve-ish, so well before we were drinking and driving. Not that we planned to drink and drive. This was just something to do that we could stump a cop with one day. Anybody else have a story like that?
Anybody else able to say the alphabet backwards in less than four seconds?
I spent far too much time not typing.
This is not an impressive post.
I probably should have opened the nearest book and put my finger on a word and written about that for ten minutes. I think I’ll do that tomorrow. It could be entertaining. Or I could rewrite my story. But don’t worry, I’m definitely writing about our philosophy group meeting.
The NaBloPoMo prompt for today is a timed writing exercise about the best present we’ve ever received. It specifically instructs us not to overthink; I have spent possibly an hour weighing the values of presents against each other. Hiking stuff? First computer? Books? Movies? Limited edition cosmetics? Kindle? That adorable musical racing pink turtle toy?
But those were items. Physical. Tangible. And none of them really measured up to the simple word best.
Because the best present is always time. Not twenty minutes of writing, although that has its merits, but time with someone you love.
The best gift of time I’ve ever received was our anniversary trip this year. We spent a night at a hotel in Hot Springs, Arkansas, before spending three days and nights on Mount Magazine, the highest point in Arkansas.
It was a great trip, y’all.
But now I have to go spend some time. Enjoy yours!