Thursday, June 17, 2010

Jessica


Jessica first appeared in a short story I wrote, called “The Book”, for the anthology “Lost and Found”.  The story is a memory of Jesse and her best friend Anne… first love, and of the events leading up to a tragic accident.

Jessica:
When I isolate, I go all the way, I mean no contact with the outside world, I mean if you’re not an anxiety or nasty phrase in my head, you’re just not in my space, know what I mean?  I’ve been in that head space for weeks.  Not everyday since the accident, but most.
But today, in spite of the pain in my leg, I slid on a pair of sweats and asked my Mom to drive me to the gym. 
When I woke up this morning, I couldn’t even muster the energy to put on my iPod and listen to angry alternative music and cry.  I felt too badly even for that.  Honestly? I wanted to die today.  I usually keep up a good face, and I exercise my bad leg faithfully, but not lately.  Not since a week ago last Tuesday.  Yep, that was the last day I felt like living.  
But this morning I thought, if I spent another day in bed, or dragging my leg uselessly behind me in mental and physical agony -- I might as well be dead.  I deserved to be dead.
Yet I knew, or had myself partly convinced, that I also deserved a chance to feel better, go figure.  Am I forgiving myself for Anne’s death?  I hope not.  Still….
“How are you today?” my Mom wants to know.
I see the For Sale sign on Anne’s old house next door as we pull out of the driveway, and I say, “Dunno,” which is true.  I dunno anything. 
At the gym I lifted three pounders:  biceps, triceps, delts front, middle, back, pecs, lats, rhomboids.  I sucked in my gut and pulsed up and sideways.  I stretched – feeling, if not actually hearing -- my bad leg creak as I pulled it straight and leaned for all my might.
I felt better.  Like one baby step outta my head.
Not happy enough to shower at the gym with all those women, friendly and loud, but well enough to stop in the coffee shop for a cappuccino before my Mom came to get me. 
OhmiGod!   There, in the coffee shop, was Lark, my dearest friend from rehab., Lark with her fused spine and only one complete arm.  Lark, who reminded me how much worse pain could be.  Call it the Power of the Universe, God or Goddess, the Tao, or just Dumb Luck – Lark!  Here, now! I seriously almost cried. 
I said I’d been meaning to call her, but… and she said, “I know.  Me too.”  Then we hugged, my crutches hanging from my wrists and clanging behind her back, she supporting me with her one arm, a couple of crips no longer alone… God!  Good!  Smiles on broken lives like bandages on our hearts!
And I was out!  Out of my self-imposed isolation.  Free of my meanie self, my head-jail.  Never free of guilt, but walking in the world. 
I dunno, but it seems like it’s good enough for today.  Freakin a miracle, if you ask me.

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