Story A Day May #17 – Answers

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Geri was the only one who was scared but she was determined to stick it out.

The rest of us thought the Ouija board was a lark, no different than making those paper fortune-tellers, or twisting the stem of an apple to find out your true love’s initial.

Missy had brought it to the cabin, figuring that after a few glasses of wine we’d be back to our junior high selves and giggle our way through a few minutes with the board.

Dina is always ready to go along with anyone’s suggestion, as long as it seems like it might be fun.

I’m usually a bit slower to join in but I was so tired after my week that my first glass of wine hit me hard. I was giddy right away and Ouija suddenly seemed like the best thing I could ever do.

We lit candles and pulled up a classical playlist, then in the faux-seriousness of very drunk people, we spoke with great respect for the power of the Ouija. I don’t remember what Missy said exactly but I know it had something to do with a connection to the unknowable and with the mystic powers of the forces we were channeling.

We started with easy questions, things we already knew the answers to. Then we got a bit trickier, I think we were testing each other with questions about girlfriends and about husbands. It was still funny though, three of us were definitely having a great time.

Geri, though, she was shifting in her seat, the candlelight making her look even paler. Her breathing kept speeding up, and I swear I could hear her blinking.

The rest of us ran out of questions, distracted by how oddly she was behaving, and finally she spoke, not to us, but to the board.

“Has someone found him yet?”

The planchette dragged our hands to ‘No.’

She spoke again, “Am I safe, then?”

This time it dragged us to ‘Yes.’

In one fluid motion, Missy stood up and threw the board into the fire.

Dina poured us all another glass of wine.

I opened another bag of chips.

Geri melted back into her chair.

She said nothing else about it, and the rest of us didn’t ask.

Story A Day May #16 – A sort of charm

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I couldn’t figure out how things went awry.

I had done everything right – the full moon, the fresh blood, the black candles. The incantation was simple so I didn’t mess that up.

I was patient.  I sat on that mound of dirt for hours, feeling the chill seep into me but staying perfectly still.

Eventually, I gave up and came back home to re-read the spells and find my error.

Even in the warmth of the house, I was shivering, so I put on the kettle and went upstairs to put on my pajamas.

I washed off my make-up.

I took off my jewelry, hanging my necklace with the silver cross on the bathroom doorknob so I wouldn’t lose it.

As my tea was steeping, I heard the first shuffling step on my porch.

Story A Day 15: Oranges

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At first I loved the way he peeled oranges. So careful, so deliberate.

He would cut the peel with a knife, scoring the lines of each quarter. Next, he would pull back each section, one at a time and pile the pieces of orange peel on top of one another.

Then he would draw the orange closer to his nose and inhale the scent.

I admired him for it. The mindfulness, the sinking into the moment, the full awareness that he brought to eating that orange.

Every orange. Every day.

I admired him for his dedication to the process, at first.

But then, I began to notice that he took that same approach with everything.

He took his time getting into the car, he savoured the moment, the experience of driving.

He eased his way into reading, he luxuriated in the feel of the paper, the smell of the book.

He focused on every kiss, gently touching his lips off mine, my chin in his hand.

Not just sometimes, not occasionally.

Every single time. Every single act.

We fought about it (slowly and deliberately, honouring our anger).

I talked to my therapist (quickly and heatedly, no honouring, no savouring).

He told me that I needed become more enlightened, more patient.

At first, I believed him. I felt badly about it, about being so caught up in the world’s impatience that I made him suffer my anger.

Gradually though, I realized that I did not care to have every experience drawn out. I did not care to become enlightened.

I didn’t savour our break-up. I probably didn’t honour his feelings. He can take his time with everything, but I no longer have to.

That next morning, I pushed my thumbs into an orange and pulled it apart with ease. I ate each half and then tossed the peel into the sink from where I sat at the table.  Then I had another.

It tasted just as good as the ones he had served me.

Story A Day #13: Power

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Renate lay in bed and watched the raindrops crawl down the window, willing herself to fall asleep for just a moment. Without rest, there was no way she could keep going.

There might be a secret to mothering, but she sure as hell didn’t know it.

She had been expecting a kind of superpower to kick in once Sammy was born. She thought it would be like a switch coming on – the baby would arrive and then she would *know* what to do.

Every mother she knew had it down to a science. Their competence shone while she fumbled.

She could tell by looking at them that they would be able to lift a car to save their babies but she couldn’t even remember whether she had put the blankets in the dryer.  She had given up trying to line-dry them like a good mother would.

She had no superpowers. There had been no switch.

Sammy whimpered in the other room, and Renate found herself reaching into the bassinet without any memory of having left her own bed.

“It’s okay, little one,” she whispered, her hand on his back, “I’m here.”

Story A Day #12: Alone

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I know that I am supposed to move toward the light but my boy was always the light of my life and I guess that, even now, he’s the only light I can move toward.

 

He’s been sad since it happened. That’s only natural, I suppose.

 

He and his father were never good at conversation, I was always in the middle, like a translator or something. They have their pain in common, but, now that I’m not there,there’s no one to help them speak the same language.

 

My boy has taken to going out after his father falls asleep. He’s not getting up to any trouble, he’s just walking. He still wears those earphones all the time, the white strings hanging down the front of his sweatshirt into the phone in his pocket. His hair flops down in his eyes, and my fingers ache to smooth it back out of his way.

 

He trudges along sidewalks and paths in our little town, I guess he’s wearing himself out so he, too, can sleep.

 

His loneliness pulls me along with his every step.

 

I wish I could tell him that he doesn’t walk alone.

Story a Day 11: Exact

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Some people are just really fussy, you know?

 

My boss is like that but she calls it being precise.

 

She is always on my case about one thing or another – an e that is imperfectly formed on a handwritten note, a computer cord folded ‘backward’, the juice returned to the fridge in the ‘wrong’ spot, and let’s not even talk about how she corrects my pronunciation of my own name.

 

I am imprecise, or even sloppy, apparently.

 

But I *can* be precise.

 

For instance, for weeks now, I have been melting the precise amount of laxative into her daily hot chocolate. Enough to make her very uncomfortable, but not quite enough for her to suspect that anything untoward is happening.

 

Hmm, maybe I am not precise. Perhaps, when it is really important, I am meticulous.

Story A Day 10 – Chilly

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It was a lot warmer this morning, I swear it was. I left the house in a sundress, I didn’t even bring a cardigan.

It’s mid-afternoon and I’m sitting across from your empty mug in ‘our’ Starbucks. The tears haven’t started yet, but I can feel them gathering.

I have my arms folded, and I’m trying to smooth out the goosebumps with my hands.

It has really gotten cold, hasn’t it?

Story A Day 9: Key

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Even after it all went wrong, I still kept his key.

I guess he thought it would be awkward to ask for it back and I didn’t offer.

It’s funny to think of him worrying that I am going to let myself in at just the wrong time. Frankly, I couldn’t be bothered to open that door again.

I prefer to imagine that the key lets me keep him locked away.

Keys work both ways, you know.

Story A Day #8: Manners

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Apparently, I am getting quite a reputation in town.

Rumour has it that I am angry and unapproachable. That I am just not friendly enough. That I need to smile more.

They say that if I don’t adjust my attitude that I am never going to get a man.

Well, if just one of those assholes had said “Rapunzel, Rapunzel, PLEASE let down your hair.”, things might be different.

But, for now, let me tell you, this tower is looking pretty damn good.