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Living Fiction - Chapter 38 (unedited)
Writing Fiction was always my working title, but a few weeks ago I realized I want to change it to 'Living Fiction'. It's still the continuation of the same story, but I will start using the new title from this point forward. I've made quite a few minor changes to earlier chapters to accomodate this shift in title. Thus the unedited version of this chapter...since I'm working from the beginning and moving the changes forward
Here's where Chapter 37 left you.
Jessie and Jay stared at me with the same look of confusion on their face. Spedgar just rolled around on his back by their feet. It took me a few seconds to remember my tall tale. It took me about 1.2 seconds after that to start praying for the floor to swallow me. It didn’t. I figured the way my life had been going lately there would be a knock at the door any second giving me time to figure out how to wriggle out of this mess. There wasn’t. Where in the heck was a good interruption or leg cramp when you needed it?
I took a deep breath, “Okay, calm down everybody. I can explain.”
In unison, just like they’d practice the sarcasm for months Jessie and Jay replied, “Yeah, I just bet you can.”
I opened my mouth to start talking but instead of words, wails came out instead.
AND NOW, CHAPTER 38 CONTINUES...
In addition to my loud crying, the little foyer in my house suddenly became filled with more loud confusion. Spedgar started barking loudly, upset at my outburst. Jay started sputtering and Jessie began repeating, “What the heck? What the heck?” over and over again. Even if I had started the whole mess, it was too much for me, so I quickly stepped into the living room and sank onto the couch. I buried my face in my hands and began to cry more quietly.
It took the three of them about 30 blessed seconds before they realized they were carrying on all by themselves. It took them only one additional second to find me in the living room. Spedgar jumped up on the couch and began trying to lick me. Jessie sat down on one side of me and began asking for an explanation. Jay sat down on the other side of me and began quizzing me on whether he could go ahead and leave.
Sniffling and snuffling for a few seconds more, I realized they weren’t going to stop until I responded.
“Jay… sniff, sniff…Please take Spedgar out to…ummm… do his thing…and then...sniff, sniff… you can go. Jessie, could you get me some Kleenex and some water. After Jay’s gone, we’ll talk.”
Jay’s ex-wife must have trained him well, because he hopped up right away and the worried little dog followed him obediently out the front door. Jessie, unfortunately, was not nearly as deferential.
“Mom, what the heck is going on here? Who’s this guy, Jay, anyway, and why does he have Spot and what happened to the little boy and…”
“Jessie,” I begged, “Please, can you just get me some water? I’ll explain everything, but I really need a second here.” Thank Heavens, the begging worked.
As soon as she left the room, I racked my brain trying to figure out what to say. I couldn’t. I really couldn’t. Not only could I not remember all the things I had made up, I couldn’t even remember who I had told all the fiction to.
My mother’s voice, God rest her soul, spoke clearly inside my head reminding me of the Junior High quote I had always hated, “Oh, what a tangled web we weave, when first we practice to deceive.” There was no mistaking her critical tone, “Pearl, you’ve been tangling and tangling and weaving and weaving, and now…”
“Oh shut up, Ma,” I said loudly, “I don’t need your nagging right now!”
Jessie looked up, startled, from the glass of water and the box of Kleenex she was balancing carefully, “Huh? Mom? Who are you talking to?”
I didn’t have to answer, though, because right after she handed me the water and the Kleenex, Jay returned. We went back to the kitchen, and I set both things on the counter and quickly started reviewing the typed list of instructions Jay had left on the table earlier. Jessie just leaned against the wall beside the kitchen door, listening to our exchange. When Jay inquired again if my husband would be okay with me watching the dog, I glossed over the question, distracted him with some sniffling and jabbering, and deftly began leading him toward the kitchen door. “Jay, seriously, just go. You need this time. I can totally manage Spedgar. Don’t worry about a thing. I mean it. I have everything under control. Let me do this for you. I insist you go right away. Get started on this time for yourself. Two weeks is just going to whiz by. I have everything under control here.” By the time I was done babbling, we had arrived at the door. I opened it and semi-shoved him out onto the little porch, all the while patting his arm in reassurance. I did NOT look at his confused face. I did NOT look at Jessie’s confused face. I just kept talking, and finally he admitted defeat, gave a short wave and turned to walk toward his SUV.
Since I’d been so successful with that diversionary tactic, I decided to continue it with Jessie. “Jessie, look, can you haul this big bag of dog food to the pantry and then…”
“…see if you can find one of the vinyl placemats in the buffet in the dining room and then…”
“…fill Edgar’s water bowl…I’m going to call him just Edgar while he’s here with me, don’tcha think? I only called him Spedgar because Jay calls him Spot and…”
“Mom!!! Stop talking. That isn’t going to work on me.”
I opened my eyes wide, feigning total innocence. “Work? What’s not going to work? What are you talking about?”
“Mom, seriously. Stop it. Really. You are really, really ticking me off here. What the hell is wrong with you? Why are you acting like a total psycho? Just stop talking. Stop!”
I debated acting offended for a moment. I debated pretending I was having a heart attack. I debated grabbing Edgar and my car keys and running out the door.
Unfortunately, Jessie was standing between me and my escape.
Unfortunately, I had run out of things to babble about.
Unfortunately, Jessie was crying.
I handed her a Kleenex.
I asked her if she’d like to take Edgar for a walk with me.
She started to protest, but I told her it would be easier for me if I talked while we walked. She grabbed a giant handful of Kleenex and stuffed them in her coat pocket. She handed me the coat I’d thrown over a kitchen chair. I stuffed a giant handful of Kleenex in my pocket. Edgar danced around our feet, excited to see his leash emerge from the box on the kitchen table.
As we stepped outside I was surprised to see it had become dusk. Where had this day gone? How could so many awful things make the time disappear so quickly? Wasn’t the saying, “Time flies when you’re having fun”? Yeah. Maybe not so much. Or maybe time just flies, period. Good times, bad times…that clock just keeps ticking away even when you want it to slow way down, so you can pay close attention to moments you want to treasure forever. It just keeps ticking away and the seconds turn into minutes, and the minutes turn into days, and all the sudden your husband is gone, you’re fighting with your daughter, your son is in prison, you have an almost total stranger’s dog staying at your house for a few weeks.
I realized I was still standing on the bottom step, frozen in thought while Jessie and Edgar had already walked up to the sidewalk.
“Mom? Are you ready? Did you forget something?”
“Nope, didn’t forget a thing, Jessie. I was just remembering sitting here watching you and your brother chase fireflies. I was just wondering how we ever got from glowing bugs in a jar to this?”
And before I could start crying again, I squared up my shoulders and stepped with false assurance toward my waiting daughter.
To be continued on Tuesday, June 7.
(c) 2010 Jennifer R. Matlock
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