Archives for July 2012

Blink

Today is my son’s eighth birthday. Call me dramatic, but I’m reposting a piece I wrote a few years ago. This is in honor of Joe and his daddy and eight magical, terrifying, and joyous years together. I banged this story out very quickly and now that I’ve been in grad school for a year, it does make me cringe a bit. As I recall, the meme had a limit of 350 words or something.

 

She lay there completely drained, unable to speak, but also not feeling the need to.

Exhaustion had stolen the strength necessary to keep her eyes open. She fought hard throughout the night but, by the third time the staff rushed in, summoned by blaring alarms, she felt herself slipping. Wearily, she turned her face in his direction. In the rush of doctors, he had been driven to the far corner of the hospital room. Tears shimmered in his blue eyes. He rubbed his hand over the top of his head then pulled it down his face, wiping the moisture to the floor. He blinked and pressed his mouth into a hard white line. She’d never seen him this way before. He looks so sad, she thought.

Through her new calm, she felt only briefly sorry for him. She grew detached and he grew dim as she began the exquisite surrender. The hands of the people working on her body became weightless, their voices distant…tinny.

There was no fear and that surprised her. How many times had she begged for death but backed off, fearful of what lies beyond? With a growing sense of disengagement, she thought, how ironichow peculiar that my prayers would be answered now, when I’m not begging for escape anymore. Be careful what you wish for.

She vaguely felt her body moving, lifting from the bed. Her eyes blinked open to her doctor’s hovering face, asking questions she couldn’t respond to. They blinked open to lights flashing past overhead, then open again when a mask was placed over her face. Finally, they opened to him, his forehead resting against hers, his eyes full of worry. He squeezed her hand and she felt that.

On the verge of surrender, the first cry of their son touched her ears. She thanked God for his life, grateful for that piece of her that would remain with her husband.

Then she closed her eyes.

This week The Red Dress Club’s Red Writing Hood prompt was for a flash fiction piece inspired by the word LIFE. The story needed to be told in 300 words or less. Mine is precisely 300 words and based on the birth of my son. Every single word is true, except for the part where I died, of course.

Freakin’ June Cleaver…

There’s this game we play in the car. Well, not really a game, I suppose. It’s more like this thing where my daughters ask me to be completely obnoxious and I comply.

“Hey, Mom, do that New York talk again,” Gwen calls from the back seat. “You know, the one when you tell us you’re going to flush our head down the toilet?”

It all started innocently enough. You see, I’ve tried very hard to rid myself of that tell-tale New York accent. I’ve stopped saying cawfee and dawg and mawl. I’ve tried really, really hard to remember the “g” at the end of any word ending in “ing” but I’ve failed miserably. I say things like, “Hey Hon, we’re goin’ to the mawl later” then stop and repeat the sentence, “Excuse me, Darling, but I am planning an outing to the mall this afternoon.”

As I repeat my properly enunciated sentence, I think I sound like a robot. Slightly more Niles the Butler than Fran the Nanny. No, that’s not right… I sound like some kind of weird Stepford Wife, but one who actually chose to remove the evidence of my prior existence. Dave would never dream of turning me into some sort of June Cleaver-ish robot clone of my former self.

Anyway, let’s face it. June Cleaver, I am not. Most definitely not.

I still drop my g’s and I have a hard time not swearing.

Sometimes it feels good to be New York and sometimes, as much as I don’t miss it, I just can’t help myself. I want to hop on 95 and head south. I want to walk into a deli and order pastrami on rye. I want a bagel. A real bagel. I’d kill for a hard roll. I want a mani/pedi from the Korean ladies on the corner and I’d happily pay $30 plus tip for the pleasure. I want to block to the box and flip someone the bird while I do it. I want to slide my freshly painted toes into a sweet pair of Choos and hail a taxi cab because there’s no way I’d walk more than four blocks and risk mangling my heels.

But I can’t.

So instead, I entertain my children with the “New York Deli Guy” on random drives.

I’m a cross between Robert DeNiro and Marisa Tomei in My Cousin Vinny. Joe Pesci on 10.

And Gwen freakin’ loves it.

“Hey, kid,” I say, “Why don’t you shut your pie hole n’ give me a break, huh?”

So she goes, “Oh, yeah? Well I’ll punch you in the nose!”

“Yeah?” I ask. “Well how ‘bout I flush your head down the toilet two, tree times, huh?”

What’s the point, you ask? None really, except for the raucous giggles New York Deli Guy elicits from the back seats. Also, there’s that whole socially unacceptable method of stress relief thing. Because I’ve discovered that, at least half of the time, I actually mean it.