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Drama Fiction Sad

Doreen Shea

3/2022

Milk Money

The day seemed perfect, but we all know perfect can’t last forever.  It was a skin-sticking-to-skin type of hot summer day, but we didn’t mind.  Bugs hovered overhead but respectfully stayed away on this perfectly planned afternoon.  We basked like iguanas soaking in the needed warmth of the sun.  The rays that filtered through the leaves of the weeping willow tree, gave us the exact amount of heat to shade ratio.  We lingered over our picnic of juicy watermelon, sandwiches of something or another, and perfectly balanced no too sweet or not so tart lemonade.  Did I mention it was all so perfect?

The blanket beneath our stomachs felt like “home”, as we propped on our elbows, heads touching and feet swinging in the air like pendulums keeping time with our chatter.  We shared plans, hopes, and dreams that day.  Our minds buzzed louder than the cicadas nearby as we made our plans, a  seashore weekend trip, check, dinner at our favorite Mexican restaurant, check, hiking, biking, swimming, and treasure hunting for heart-shaped rocks, check, check, check and check.

Our biggest problem of the day was deciding what type of pizza we should order later tonight.  Once the banter started, it was like a horse race to the finish.  “Cheese” was in the lead until “peppers and mushrooms” pulled up ahead and won by a nose.  

That perfect day was yesterday.  I can still hear the soothing voice of Natalie Merchant lulling us on the blanket as we played her Tiger Lily album, and we talked and laughed through her notes.  She didn’t mind.  You talked about what you wanted to do next week, next year, next life.  I listened, committing to memory.  Thank God I did.  

I lied. That day was really not yesterday, but quite a while ago.  My thoughts are now keeping tempo with my rocking, forward, back, forward, back.  It soothes me and does not ask for anything in return.

Suddenly, I need to have paper and a pen.  I search. I must write this thought before it leaves as quickly as it arrived.  Finally, I see my journal. My hand scribbles for a while.  When I look back to see what I wrote, confusion seeps into my face.  The writing looks like it belongs to another.  It is loopy, sloppy, and messy.  That is not the way I write.  I put it down on the table in front of me, carefully avoiding an old glob of food of something on it, that I don’t want to even guess what it once was.  Someone is slacking in their cleaning duties. I mustn’t get distracted through with smears, life, or anything else.  I need to put down my ideas before they aren’t mine anymore. 

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I stop rocking suddenly when it occurs to me, that day under the tree can never come back.  One wrinkled hand wants to snap the pen it grasps, the other goes to my head, wanting to punch the hell out of it for its betrayal. Then after that, it would wipe that stupid smear that should have been cleaned long ago if people would only do their job.

I want to fold in on myself, tuck me somewhere, go back and wake up on that day, just to live it all over again, but I can”t.  My mind has mastered this ability, however, and returns over and over.  It takes me to mornings of lunches, milk money, and homeworks packed.  It returns to anticipated Fridays with their well-meaning weekends, full of cozy times and plans.  It conjures grand vacation trips and smaller ones from libraries that live inside books and take you away to all sorts of lands, climates, and dangers. It chases dreams and settles on making memories.

Now, I look around and notice someone staring at me.  Was I talking to myself, perhaps even arguing with my worthy “id” opponent, stalling long before reaching stage “super-ego”?  Immediate gratification always appealed to me anyway.

I think back past the Fridays, ugly smears on the counter, sunny weekends cut short, loopy handwriting, milk money and try to shake it all out of my head.  My goal for today is lucidity.  The only problem is it has a price I am unwilling to pay.  I would have to trade her in and that perfect day.  So, I rock and think, and rock some more.  

My wrinkly hand extends past the boundary of the blasted rocking chair, to the picnic, to the sunshine.  It gropes through fog, through reality, long years, even death.  It brings her back to me.  I reach a little further, just a little more and I will be able to hold her.  I reach, see the smeared table in front of me and shove it the hell over.  That felt wonderful.  

My mind can’t quite comprehend how it can be at a picnic one moment and then in this place so quickly. “Fluorescent”  shouts all over me as I smell smells I’d rather not.  God, I really hope they’re not from me.  How did I get here?  I haven’t seen anyone for hours, yet I hear noises, and ‘lots of them, even a desperate plea every now and again. 

Some snippets of uninvited memory invade my mind.  I cower like a fist went into my non-existent abdominal muscles. A breath escapes my lips as I recoil from disgust at what I am forced to recall. Death, her death. Why can’t I bask in selective memory, and not have this forced on me?  

Goats enter randomly into my mind in a desperate way to divert my attention and self-inflicted morbidity. They’re doing their job and stomping on firing synapsis that is meant to bring only sadness. Perhaps I saw a picture recently of one, perhaps someone walked by and whispered it, in an attempt to give me paranoid ideas. However, I came about frolicking goats. It 

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worked for now.  I rock some more. I can see her by the goats, running, laughing, waiting for me.  I reach out once more.  I am even closer to her now.  Just a little more and I will be able to

touch her. I reach right out of my rocking chair prison.  I am crumpled on the floor and now someone finally comes by.  Somehow, I am above her as she speaks.  I hear her say, well at least she has a smile on her face now.  

March 25, 2022 00:09

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