My heart is without a beat. Still like a frozen pond, lifeless it sits in my tired body. Without even the strength to stir anger within me, I sit hopelessly broken not wanting, not crying, not even… anything.
Inside my mind screams for me to wake, snap out of it, move forward. It tells my legs to move, my mouth to smile, my eyes to twinkle. But the pit feels heavy, slowing me to a standstill of nothingness.
If I could feel rage, sadness, I would scream or cry- but this? This non-feeling…the inability to express…I would rather die than carry on much longer.
Closing my eyes, I pray that when I open them, it will be to a different reality. But even closing them feels desperate. Will nothing shake me of this darkness? Is there no light that exists between me, and the world in which I dwell? If only I could fear this darkness, perhaps I could find the strength to run from it before it swallows me whole.
How did I end up like this? It seems like only yesterday I was doing so well. I had a great job, a house, and a nice car. But it wasn’t yesterday; it was ten years ago. Over all those years I’ve managed to lose everything, a little at a time- my house, my job, my car, and even my furniture. Little by little, my apartment got smaller, my used car got older, and the bills became more difficult to pay.
I immediately downsized to keep from drowning and managed to stay afloat financially. But my spirit…my spirit has suffered. It’s not about the money. Money doesn’t buy happiness, this I know. Having less doesn’t mean you become less; but something inside of me died anyway. As if somehow I failed because I didn’t have anything physical to show for it.
Peeking through the curtains I notice the mailman didn’t come today. He usually comes everyday at noon. But it’s way past noon and he hasn’t come. Not that I expect anything special, but it would be nice to know if there’s a deal on meat this week. I live for circulars…how pathetic.
Leaning closer to the crack between the curtains, I see someone walking up my driveway. He’s dressed like a mailman but it isn’t MY mailman. I try and get a better look. Something is familiar about his face. I hear him knocking. Why is he knocking? If there was a package, he could just leave it. There it is again, why would he knock?
Opening the door with just the slightest crack, the chain still attached, I peer out at the man on my stoop.
“Can I help you?”
“Betty Travers…is that you?”
Obviously, my name is on the mail. What kind of fool did he take me for? Grabbing the mail from his hands, about to slam the door, I hear him start singing.
“Empty bottles, broken hearts, twisted dreams tear us apart.”
My head spins around fast as the mail flies out of my hands.
I can’t believe my eyes. My childhood friend is standing on my front steps.
Speechless, I stand there, staring at him. His face more familiar now, memories flood back of our childhood days of playing music in my father’s garage. He would jam on his guitar while I played the drums. Both of us singing and writing lyrics together through endless summer days…until he moved away one day, never to be seen again.
“C’mon Betty, don’t tell me you forget our song?”
I felt breathy and anxious, as if someone had clear knocked the wind right out of me. The universe was picking me up and shaking the cobwebs right out of my head and demanding that I respond.
“But we won’t bend, no we won’t break, life is ours, its ours to take,” I reply singing.
“That’s my Betty!”
I open the door a bit wider now, hoping to get a better look.
“When did you move back?” I ask.
“Just got into town last month. My brother hooked me up with a gig at the post office. I’m staying with him right now until I get my own place.” He said.
His smile was so big. He had one of those smiles that force you to smile even when you refuse to. It stirs a giggle in my belly that branches out through my limbs like water to a tree. He always made me feel like I could walk on air, just from the sound of his voice.
“I was hoping you still lived around here.”
My mouth wants to reply, but no words will come out. Eddie smiles, leans forward and kisses me on my cheek.
“Sorry to be so forward, I just really missed you Betty. I’m almost done with my route; will you be home later? I’ve been hoping we could get together and jam out some of our old tunes.”
My face is smiling so much it hurt, possibly because it forgot how to smile.
I try hard to contain my large grin, but manage to just blush.
“Sure, that would be great.” I reply.
Waving goodbye, Eddie hops in his postal truck and continues through the neighborhood. I’m not even sure what to feel right now, everything is happening so fast. Walking towards the kitchen, I pass a mirror and look at my reflection. My face is tired, my hair plopped onto my head in a scary bun, and I’m still in my pajamas!
Crap! I can’t believe Eddie is here and he saw me like THIS! A tornado builds inside me and my feet take flight up the stairs, hurling myself into the shower. Time to snap out of it Betty, I say to myself. Fate is knocking and for the first time, in a long time, I was happy to answer.
This short story is an entry for the January contest for Writers 750.
I’m happy to announce that last month’s entry, “Growing Hope” won first place!