september 1k

sept 1k

Brook is thirty-three, and everything in her world looks upside down – the opposite of what it used to be.  Door handles are on the left now instead of right.  The doors open in instead of out.  Stairs give her vertigo.  The steering wheel feels square and slippery under her fingers.  Water falls dry into her mouth and is hard to swallow.  Words catch like bones in her throat.

Brook seldom leaves the house, because people tend to ask if she needs help.

Brook helps her daughter into bed and turns out the light.  As Brook closes the door, her daughter says, “I hate you.”  She’s five-years-old and doesn’t completely mean it, but Brook understands why she said it.

Brook slides into her own bed, and just like every night, her husband rolls over and faces the wall.  She stares at his back and imagines him thinking that he hates her too.

Tomorrow is Labor Day, and she wonders if he’ll ever kiss her again.  Labor Day will make twenty-seven days since she decided to stop kissing him because it doesn’t mean anything and wait for him to kiss her, because then it might.

Summer is over, and it’s time for a new season – the season of falling.  The leaves falling.  The spirits falling.  The darkness.  The colors of summer.

Brook sits on the couch and watches television with her husband, and she feels like her legs are dangling off the edge of a thousand-foot cliff.  She only sees static on the screen, and the sound is so loud in her ears it makes her dizzy.

Brook is a poor communicator.  A basket case.  The loneliest soul amongst a thousand friends.  She cries in the shower and afterwards laughs at her image in the mirror.  Sometimes she stares in the mirror so long she doesn’t recognize her face anymore.  Her body could be someone else’s or one that doesn’t really exist, except inside her imagination.

One of a thousand friends from her old life calls, but she can’t bear to answer.  She watches the machine, wishing it would pick up on the third ring instead of the fifth.  It picks up.  The message is the click of a connection severing.  The dial tone drones a few seconds, and Brook’s head spins.  She fantasizes about taking her thousand friends out to dinner and picking up the tab before it reaches the table.

*

Six months ago, something unspeakable happened to Brook that she can never, and will never, talk about with anyone.  It happened, and everything became the opposite.

Shortly after, Brook was asked to resign from her job for buying everyone in her department lunch, with petty cash.  Twice.

*

Brook stays at home and takes care of her daughter who plays alone and asks questions somewhere in the background with the static blowing from the television.  Brook fantasizes about spending the afternoon cutting out paper dolls and dressing them with her daughter, but when she gets out the scissors, she finds herself fringing her husband’s ties.  He never brings it up.

Brook works miracles in the kitchen.  The only words her husband says to her most days is, “This tastes wonderful, darling.”  She fantasizes about taking that word “darling” and making a new version of herself who spends afternoons cutting out paper dolls with her daughter, and who sees the world right-side-up.

*

Brook saw a professional for eight weeks and had to stop because she could only see words and gestures that stand for Love and Trust, but she couldn’t use those words or feel those things anymore.

*

Today is Labor Day, the beginning of the season of change.

Brook puts the final touches on a whole chicken in a bed of coined potatoes  and slides it into the oven for roasting.  It is hot in the kitchen, so she steps onto the deck, into the back yard.

Summer is over.  The color from the grass is falling into the sky.  The only green left is the clover under the big tree.  Brook goes back into the house and gets a blue notepad her husband gave her to write down her feelings.  It has been blank for almost six months.  There is a yellow pencil pushed inside that is still sharp.  The lead smells like her old life.

Brook passes through the hot, garlicky kitchen and out the back door.  She eases down the steps from the deck, crosses the yard to the tree, and lays down in the clover.  It’s cool under the tree, and the yellowing leaves remind her that her napping daughter has blonde hair.

Brook is not sad but feels like she’s going to cry.  Her chest swells, and she fantasizes about her heart opening up and swallowing the world.  She takes the word “darling” into her mind and lays it like a heavy quilt over that unspeakable thing that happened.  Brook opens the notebook and writes the word and closes it.  She lays it in the clover above her head and falls asleep.

Brook sits at dinner and is glad her daughter inherited her husband’s blonde hair.  She listens to them discuss their day.  Everyone eats.

“This tastes wonderful, darling,” Brook’s husband says.

Brook turns to him.  “I’m glad. I thought I smelled too much garlic,” she replies, and the affect it has on her husband is evident in the tears welling. He eats, and she can tell he’s trying not to overreact.

Brook’s daughter rounds the table and hugs Brook around the waist and playfully says, “You’re wonderful, darling,” and laughs.  Brook’s husband laughs too and wipes his eyes with a napkin.

Brook slides into bed next to her husband.  He doesn’t roll over.  He looks into her eyes.

“You haven’t kissed me in 27 days,” he says.

She shifts over and kisses him, and she knows it means something, because when it’s done, and the room is dark, she wears a smile that feels like a new shirt you love even though it doesn’t fit.

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24 Responses to “september 1k”


  1. 1 Tara Thayer 09/10/2009 at 8:21 am

    so good. and although it’s not my life at all, it seems perfectly familiar to me this morning, like you two made this one just for me. i know that’s corny, but there it is. thanks.

  2. 3 Brian 09/10/2009 at 9:16 am

    david, i can’t get over this line, especially: “The color from the grass is falling into the sky.” this is surely my favorite so far.

  3. 4 Stephanie 09/10/2009 at 9:38 am

    Good god. You just killed me a thousand times over. I agree…best one yet. Thank you for this.

  4. 5 melissa f. 09/10/2009 at 10:04 am

    good thing you didn’t try to pawn the words off on someone else, mr. smarty pants.

  5. 6 beth 09/10/2009 at 11:01 am

    my favourite thus far, too. wow. this is poetry – the line brian mentioned i had to read a few times before i could continue on it was so good. but there were so many evocative images — her heart swallowing the world, the word “darling” becoming a blanket.

  6. 7 smoothpebble 09/10/2009 at 11:05 am

    transported for a few moments this morning to a piece of lawn under a tree and hoping against hope that it’s all going to be okay….

  7. 8 jodi 09/10/2009 at 11:22 am

    wow. just . . . wow.

  8. 9 claire 09/10/2009 at 12:18 pm

    she wears a smile that feels like a new shirt you love even though it doesn’t fit.

    …incredible. i just love this one.

  9. 11 Cynthia 09/10/2009 at 1:06 pm

    This story is like therapy for the soul. Reminding you to be optimistic in that the worst of things can be healed by the simplest things. Beautifully written once again and ties to the gorgeous picture perfectly. Thank you!!

  10. 12 jmac 09/10/2009 at 2:36 pm

    I ditto Brian’s ‘best line ever’ comment

  11. 13 erin 09/10/2009 at 3:21 pm

    my favorite, too. thank you.

  12. 14 Emily G 09/10/2009 at 3:27 pm

    This is so beautiful. I also agree with Brian, and claire too. Thank you thank you.

  13. 15 molly 09/10/2009 at 6:25 pm

    wow. this is my first visit. i’m definitely coming back.

  14. 16 rachel 09/10/2009 at 8:26 pm

    I had to read this one a couple of times, it’s just so good.

  15. 17 Kristina - no penny for them & mostly berlin 09/11/2009 at 3:09 am

    my first visit too. very, very beautiful writing indeed.

  16. 18 shanna 09/11/2009 at 5:17 am

    me too. best yet. thanks for a great start to the day. i’m going to carry this one with me, for sure.

  17. 19 denise (chez danisse) 09/11/2009 at 6:29 pm

    I like that he never brings up the ties.

  18. 20 Ramona 09/11/2009 at 11:10 pm

    I left a comment for Hannah
    but this piece made my heart ache.

  19. 21 erin 09/12/2009 at 4:40 pm

    so beautiful.

  20. 23 heather 10/07/2009 at 7:10 pm

    i love brook. i wish more people saw the world upside down.

    this was awesome. i read the whole thing, never once feeling the desire to stop. you guys have something special going on….

  21. 24 Al Herrmann 10/12/2009 at 12:09 am

    I just found this, and I’m gonna save the rest for tomorrow. It’s too good to devour in one selfish sitting.


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