Monica Bielanko
That's What She Said
Just A Junk Drawer Dream
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A Hard Day Of Nothin' Much At All

She wakes up slowly. Gliding upward toward consciousness like a scuba diver rising to the surface. She breaks through the slumber barrier, acknowledges the bright sunlight crawling noisily through the blinds, scrubs the sleep from her eyes and sits up.

Instantly it snaps into her brain like a sharp slap to the face. She physically winces as if actually struck and falls back onto the bed, deadweight. She doesn't want to be awake. Craves the safe cocoon of snug bed covers, the dog's gentle snores that puff his gray lips with air and leave them flapping ever so slightly.. pffft pffft pffft pffft. And there are her dreams of a better reality.

But this is reality. This is life now.

It's not so bad, she tells herself. She's got her dog and her health. Allegedly. That's what folks always say when they're trying to make you feel better, she thinks. They serve you a steaming helping of cliche. "At least you have your health."

She suppposes those tired words of wisdom may gain meaning as she stumbles further into the future. Really she knows the cliche won't mean anything until she doesn't have her health anymore. And then, when it's too late to be thankful for her health, when her fingers have curled into arthritic claws and her brittle bones creak with the slightest maneuver, it will finally mean something.

Maybe she'll turn into one of the very people who have offered her words of encouragement these past few months. Benevolently pressing unsolicited advice onto her, like a Christmas gift. "There, there dearest, at least you have your health." Off you go.

He was killed six months ago. It feels like six days ago. Might as well have been six hours ago. She remains broken with grief. As often happens nowdays, her thoughts dance through a kaleidescope of memories, struggling to trap the events behind shiny glass, like pictures and then hang them in her mind's eye for safekeeping.

That's the thing about memories though, she thinks. You can't store them anywhere safe. You remember moments, wrinkles in time, good-bye kisses, rabid love-making, passionate fights.. but eventually you begin to wonder if you remember the actual events or you're just remembering the memory.

Memory isn't a tangible thing like a photograph. You'd like to think it is, but it's not. It's like when somebody tells the same story for years and years.. little by little the words change, exaggerations give birth to new details until finally, the story hardly resembles what actually happened.

That's why it's hard to trust her own memories now. Is that what really happened, she asks herself. Or am I romanticizing it because he's dead, because that's what I wish would've happened, what could've happened had I paid more attention when life was good. At least with a photograph I can look at it, can trace the lines of his face and know that it's authentic. That is what his sandy colored hair looked like that day. That's just how his green eyes always sparkled.

She absently strokes the dog's rump and rubs her feet together underneath the comforters. She stares at the ceiling. She turns on her side and stares at the wall. After a couple hours tick by she shifts onto her back and stares at the ceiling again. Soon darkness will fall. The sun will rise after that. And still, she stares at the ceiling.

Reader Comments (6)

Wow, that's good. Unlike my compliments.
June 2, 2006 | Unregistered Commentercunning linguist
Monica, yes! It's great to click on here and find something like this.
June 2, 2006 | Unregistered CommenterEDW
I know you hear this all the time but I think that you are a great writer.
June 2, 2006 | Unregistered Commenterdesiree
Life and genuine feeling's get away when you're in your daily groove. The workaday allows that.

That's the rat race for you.

You're allowed to gloss over everything because you're BUSY.

You don't realize this until everybody's off to their daily thing and you just roll back over in bed and there is nowhere to go except back into your own fucked-up head.

When you're left to your own devices...and time moves too fast AND too slow, and panic and worthlessness overcome you...You think back to that thing that barely phased you...when you were busy.

Dunno 'bout you Monica, but not working is making me insane.

In "word-play" is something I don't really understand. Maybe this happened? Maybe not?

I felt the need to respond, thusly.

BTW: Nice use of Westerberg in article title'ing.
Monica, just love your writing. You have a gift for taking tangled thoughts and emotions and making a beautiful, winding statement.
June 3, 2006 | Unregistered CommenterKaren
Absolutely brilliantly written. Your writing is so powerful Monica. You are a real talent.
June 3, 2006 | Unregistered CommenterNiedlchen

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