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Journal

Day #1           


           My therapist said I should write stories about my feelings/experiences as part of a cognitive behavioral therapy. So here goes. I’ll try anything.

One of my favorite activities when I was young was dragging my old things out to the curb for someone to haul away as one of their new possessions. I’d find a piece of cardboard in the garage and use black spray paint to carefully spell the word “FREE,” and prop it against each item. Then I’d sit on the front steps, eating a Popsicle, waiting for my one time treasures to be picked up and reassigned to a new home. I’d make up stories in my mind about what kind of new life they would have. My Radio Flyer bike, my old tent, my box of my Babysitter Club books, etc… Everything that was once important to me made it to that curb sooner or later. Losing my old things meant more room for new things. It meant a new chapter was about to begin.


           I’m all grown now but I still enjoy watching my things waiting on the curb to be repurposed by another. To be made new again. Today it is my old rocking chair. I pull my robe tight around my waist with one hand and open the curtain with the other. An older man in a pick up truck has stopped. He gets out of the truck, hunched forward with a bad back, probably from years of manual labor, his sun stained skin nearly purple. I already know he won’t take it. He sits and glides back and forth, wrapping his hands around the armrests, his crooked fingers practically asking for arthritis. And then he drives away, the chair still there. It’s a good chair though. It’s only 2 years old and barely used. We bought it the day we learned I was pregnant.


           I still remember the day we bought it 2 years ago. We stopped at one of those surplus baby goods stores on the way home from my doctor’s appointment. They had just confirmed I was 13 weeks pregnant. We sat in one chair after another moving down the line, I felt like Goldilocks. We were overwhelmed by all the baby stuff. But I said the most important thing we’ll buy is the rocker. It’s where the baby and I will spend the most time. Rocking him to sleep, rocking him while I read to him, rocking him to take his bottle etc. We were so excited. Especially since we had given up hope on getting pregnant. We had been trying for over year with no luck. We made a deal with each other that after one year of trying we would go about our lives as normal and if it happened, it happened. And then it happened. We were blessed.

           I had a “complicated” pregnancy. “Complicated” was the doctors word, not mine. I had been on bed rest the last several months because of my elevated blood pressure. I had a clean bill of health before getting pregnant. I was very active with pilates, yoga, and running up until then. I had to stop working much earlier than planned also. I had worked, by choice, since I was 14 years old. “You’ll wish you had all this free time once the baby comes,” people would say with a smile. “I wish I could just lay in bed all day,” my sister with three kids snorted. “Let your body rest,” the doctor said “enjoy this time.”

I had a “complicated” labor as well. After 36 hours in labor the baby got stuck and I needed an emergency c-section. (Cesareans have been carried out since ancient times, but they usually only occurred after the mothers were dead.) I still remember the long nights at the hospital trying to get out of bed, splinting my incision, to care for my crying newborn. They had a nursery on the floor where you could send your new baby so you could get a few hours of uninterrupted sleep. The nurses encouraged me to use it. “You won’t have this chance at home,“ they’d say as they closed the door behind them, “enjoy this time.”

           Three days later we were sent home from the hospital. Sitting at a traffic light on the way home I saw a rundown building that was once a favorite boutique owned by our neighbor. She had gone out of business a few months earlier. It now looked like a dumping site for construction material, piles of wood and scrap materials scattered in the front lawn, windows boarded up with plywood. Someone had sprayed in black graffiti across one of the boards “It only gets worse.” I wondered about the person who wrote it. It reminded me of the old spray-painted cardboard signs I had made when I was young, the wet paint dripping down each of the letters.


           I stick my hand in my robe and rub my belly. The scar is still rough and tight across my abdomen, slightly curled up on the edges like a barbed wire smile. I never regained feeling below my belly button.

           After the baby came people came to visit and first two weeks or so. It was great to have the help. Our families flew up, my husband and I are both from New York, but then they left a week later. And it was just the three of us again. I never really had many friends, I’m more of a loner. I have my husband’s friends’ wives now. My therapist told me that villages that had the closest network of people always had the best overall health, as if to say good health is sort of a team effort. I think it was his way of telling me I need to make some friends.

           The baby was awake most of the night, like most babies I suppose. My husband did his best to help but he runs his own company so he works a lot. I can’t complain though because that’s the reason I have the chance to stay home with my baby. I know many women don’t have that luxury.

           I called my sisters often. They said the same thing. “Aww, I know it is hard when they are this little. But it’s only for a short time and they grow up so quick,” they explained. “Enjoy this time.”



           I take a sip of coffee and look out the curtains again. A pregnant woman and her husband have stopped to inspect my chair. Bingo. She sits down and puts her feet up on the ottoman, smiling, so hopeful and excited. They pull the ’Free’ sign off and throw it onto the grass. He loads the chair into the bed of his truck. She watches him smiling, patting her belly. “Enjoy this time,” I say to them from behind the curtain as they drive away.


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22 comments

Kathleen March
05:34 Jun 18, 2020

The story wanders a bit, but it needed to in order to reach the end. Do keep an eye on editing details. Oh, I should add that happy endings aren’t a bad thing at all!

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Sarah Greenwood
11:24 Jun 18, 2020

Thank you so much Kathleen for taking the time to read and respond to both of my stories. I will be more careful with editing. And its interesting to me you found this dark. Because everyone else thought it was a “sweet story”. But I did intend for it to be dark.

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Kathleen March
03:26 Jun 19, 2020

I guess I don’t believe in sweet stories. Dark is good, in fact.

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Batool Hussain
13:19 Jun 17, 2020

A sweet story! Keep it up:) Would you mind checking my stories out as I'm new? Thanks.

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Sarah Greenwood
11:31 Jun 18, 2020

Of course. Thank you for your reading 👍🏼

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Batool Hussain
11:39 Jun 18, 2020

You're welcome:)

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Meg L
10:36 Jun 25, 2020

I was really gripped by this, because it definitely felt really dark to me -- at every point that something good happened I was thinking "oooh but how's it going to twist?!" I liked the repetition of "enjoy this time" which felt really ominous despite always being said in a friendly way, so the sweet ending almost felt like a cliffhanger by itself (like I was left thinking that something horrible's about to happen just after the end of the story, if that makes sense!)

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Sarah Greenwood
11:33 Jun 25, 2020

Hi meg ! Thanks for taking the time to read and your thoughtful reply. Nothing really terrible happens in the story, it’s just life, but life told by someone with postpartum depression. She was once so hopeful, like the gal getting the chair, until the grips of depression. That’s what I was going for anyway 👋🏼👍🏼😊

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Arya Preston
07:07 Jun 24, 2020

After reading some of the comments, I can definitely see the dark undertones though that wasn't my initial reaction. I really love your descriptions especially "crooked fingers practically asking for arthritis", I thought that was a really clever line that always reveals a little bit of his character. Great story!

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Sarah Greenwood
11:31 Jun 24, 2020

Thank you Arya for reading and taking the time to comment. I so appreciate it

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Steve Stigler
20:35 Jun 20, 2020

I liked your use of the spray-painted cardboard signs as a controlling image, but my favorite image was the "barb wired smile" - very powerful.

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Sarah Greenwood
20:53 Jun 20, 2020

Thank you so much for reading and taking the time to reply! I appreciate it 👍🏼

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Ranya Navarez
00:52 Jun 19, 2020

That was so sweet! I loved it!

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12:01 Jun 17, 2020

I've read your replies to some of the comments, and I think that you can tell that there's a dark background, but maybe not overall it's dark. The first thing I thought to comment was just, 'Such a sweet story!'. I think that if you wanted to turn it dark it would still be good, but I think that it's great still being sweet! :) Keep writing and stay healthy! -Brooke

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Sarah Greenwood
12:25 Jun 17, 2020

Thank your for your reading Brooke. I really appreciate your comments as well! I just joined Reedsy so to have people read and comment on my stories means so much. Thanks!

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12:38 Jun 17, 2020

I joined Reedsy for the same reason. I just wanted feedback. You're welcome!

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05:28 Jun 17, 2020

Such a sweet story Sarah! Loved it! Keep writing! :)))

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Praveen Jagwani
01:07 Jun 17, 2020

This is a classic Feel-good story. Thank you for Sharing Sarah. When you started with Day 1, I was hoping to read Day 2 or perhaps Day 14 too. Even though your story doesn't have too much dialogue it does not get heavy. First person narrative can be a difficult genre and many authors employ complex gut wrenching psychological stuff. I was pleased yours was a simple story one could identify with. Thank you for reading mine. Good luck with yours :)

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Sarah Greenwood
04:51 Jun 17, 2020

Thank you for reading and taking the time to provide feedback. You’re comments are so interesting because I actually meant it as a dark piece. Maybe I need to reread and do some editing. Thanks again 👍🏼

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Rose Bingely
00:24 Jun 17, 2020

This is a really sweet story!! I love it! It really shares the love and over all journey of motherhood.

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Sarah Greenwood
04:54 Jun 17, 2020

Thank you for reading and taking the time for feedback Rose. It’s so interesting to me because I actually meant this as a dark piece and related to postpartum depression. I may go through and do some editing. Thanks again 🌹

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Rose Bingely
15:31 Jun 17, 2020

Oh, wow! I actually didn’t see that! If I re-read it I’ll definitely see that aspect. Thanks for letting me know! No matter what kind of story it is-I’d say it’s good!

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