Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Story Time Tuesday - Writing Fiction - Chapter Four

Jenny Matlock
If you missed where this story started just click here to read it or click on the Story-Time Tuesday link at the top of my blog to take you to previous chapters.

Writing Fiction - Chapter 4

My plan started in a pretty non-dramatic way. I took a shower, shaved my legs, washed my hair with shampoo, twice, and conditioned it. I put lotion on. Not the lotion my ‘M.I.A.’ husband had liked. If he didn’t want me to wear that lotion, he should never have left me for the ‘great bakery in the sky,’ right? I defiantly applied the vanilla scented one he’d said made me smell like a cookie. Cookies are good. I don’t know why he never liked it, anyway.

I brushed my teeth three times. They looked pretty good, but nowhere near the dazzling white I would eventually need for interview and photos ops. My skin looked passable, well, except for the bags under my eyes. Judging from the size of them, it looked as if I’d packed them to go on a three month European tour. I couldn’t even begin to deal with the amount of gray that had propagated overnight on my head. I turned away from the evil mirror to get dressed.

I encountered one little snag while putting something on other than my flannel nightgown: somehow the waistbands on all my pants had shrunk. Isn’t that just the oddest thing? I knew my butt had been getting bigger, but I thought that had been the extent of my carbs-for-comfort damage. My Bermuda shorts may have been uncomfortably snug in the rear, but I couldn’t even fasten them around my middle. Eventually, I stretched out flat on the bed, sucked in my gut as much as possible, and managed to get my favorite jeans zipped up. When I wiggled up from the prone position, I noticed that everything below the waistband looked pretty good. I waddled over to the mirror to look and realized that above the waistband, I had a monstrous muffin top. Gasping for air as I struggled to get the button undone, I realized how much I’d learned yesterday doing my blog research. Two days ago, I would have told you it was just fat bulging out the top of my waistband. Now I knew it was a muffin top. That does sound a lot more charming, doesn’t it?

Eventually, I resorted to putting on a pair of sweat pants. I figured that would put me ahead in the whole blogging game. Yesterday I’d learned a lot of bloggers just wear their pj’s all day. I wanted to be a bit more formal than that, though. When I eventually did my ‘world’s most famous blogger interview’, I wanted to be able to say I’d walked into the endeavor fully prepared and suitably dressed.

I started to leave the chaos of the bedroom and realized that would be a horrible way to start my new blogging life. It took me only a short time to hang up all the too tight pants and make the bed. While I was at it, I dusted the dressers and stuffed the mountain of crumpled up Kleenex into the overflowing trash can. Then I actually opened the drapes for the first time in months and tried, unsuccessfully, to push the windows up to let in some fresh air. Neither window would budge. I tried hitting them with the palm of my hand. Nothing happened. I tried using the side of my fist. Nothing happened. For some reason, this really annoyed me. I’d asked my husband over and over again to fix those windows. Instead of getting them repaired, though, he’d always just smiled at me with an ‘I am the MAN in this house!’ mischievious look and a smirk in his storm-blue eyes before pushing the windows up easily.

I never thought of it before, but that was really kind of a jerky thing to do, don’t you think? Just leaving me all alone to cope with windows that won’t open and treasure hunts for light bulbs. Just abandoning me for a ‘road trip to the great beyond’ and leaving me to cope with blogs and hiccuping daughters and, and, and…

I sat down on the bed. I took deep breaths. I tried to control my anger but somehow it just grabbed me by the throat and galvanized me into action.

“Darn, darn, darn!” I said as I stomped around the room slamming drawers and throwing towels into the hamper. “Darn, darn, darn!” I yelled after I stubbed my toe on the overflowing trash can. The Kleenex scattered across the carpet like mutant snowflakes and rolled under the bed into the dust-bunny storage area. “Darn, darn, darn!” I screamed as I shoved as hard as I could on the stupid! Irritating! Dumb! Obnoxious! Horrible! Ridiculous! Freakin’ window frames! I pounded. I pushed. Nothing happened.

Panting now, I raged across the room and yanked open my stupid husbands stupid top drawer. It clattered to the carpet and the contents exploded into the bedroom. Great! Just great! I threw coins and old watches and expired credit cards and screwdrivers every which way until I finally found the item I needed.

The dull silver blade glinted in the morning light. My anger had gotten so out of control, I didn’t pause for a second in my intent.

I grabbed the paint spattered black plastic handle and jammed the putty knife into the window frame and pushed with all my strength. Nothing happened. Darn! Freakin’, stupid, idiotic, piece of crap window! I wiggled the putty knife. Hard! Harder! Darn! And then, before the window frame could budge at all, even a tiny bit, the putty knife broke into two pieces.

I threw it across the room as hard as I could. I stood there. Red face flushed with anger. Fists knotted into tight balls by my side to keep myself from slamming them through the glass.

And then, just like that, my anger left me. It was exactly like someone had pulled the plug and all the red hot emotion drained out of me into a boiling puddle of fury on the floor.

I looked around the now wrecked room. I sank to the floor and leaned against the wall. And somehow, for me anyway, boiling puddles of fury always seem to be followed by copious amounts of tears. I added a lot to the puddle right then. By the time I was through, my face was soggy, my sweatshirt was soggy. The crumpled up Kleenex within my reach were sodden piles of soggy, shredded sadness.

What was I thinking? How was I supposed to go make a stupid blog when I couldn’t even open a stupid window? What was I going to even call this blog? ‘Blog of a Zillion Tears’? ‘Tales of a Dark and Depressing Life’? ‘Pathetic Pearl’? I sat there for a while longer. I had that hollow, cried out, empty feeling. You know what I mean? You’ve shed so many tears your body feels like a void. A negative space, unable to feel anything at all. It almost feels like your entire being is suffering from a hunger pang.

Hunger pangs, real or imagined, I can usually deal with. But in that exact moment I realized I had something that even a wheelbarrow full of cupcakes wouldn’t heal. I had a broken heart.

I began picking up the room for the second time, exhausted. It felt like a week had elapsed since my hopeful awakening, and it hadn’t been a good seven days. Starting to cry again, I shoved all my husband's stuff back into the re-inserted drawer. I asked him, for the hundredth time, how he could’ve up and left me like that to go to the ‘great hardware store in the sky’. The empty room offered no answer. I gently closed the top drawer, trapping the memories inside. I needed to be careful with those memories now. After all, I wouldn’t be making any more with him. All I had now was the stockpile accrued over the years of our marriage...and there weren’t enough. There weren’t nearly enough.

How do you make peace with the fact you never treasured all the little things that didn’t seem worth a memory? How do you reconcile your heart to the truth that every silly story, every irritating toilet lid being left up, every time he came home from the barbershop looking freshly sheared and handsome has vanished. “Darn, darn, darn,” I whispered now from the doorway of the silent space.

I rapped my head gently against the doorframe, hoping to knock some purpose into myself, and headed downstairs.

I had a plan to implement. I just hoped I had enough energy to do what needed to get done.

To be continued, Tuesday, October 5.

(c) 2010 Jennifer R. Matlock
This publication is the exclusive property of Jennifer R. Matlock and is protected
under the US Copyright Act of 1976 and all other applicable international, federal, state and local laws. The contents of this post/story may not be reproduced as a whole or in part, by any means whatsoever, without consent of the author, Jennifer R. Matlock. All rights reserved.

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Julie Kwiatkowski Schuler said...

Another great chapter! Also, reminds me I should get Dave to put that doorknob back on that came off, 'cause you never know...

noexcuses said...

I love this! I will be reading the past chapters later today!

I saw a bit of myself in there!


Viki said...

This was good. A woman in the throes of grief, still figuring it out. I hope the blog helps her.

Jeanie said...

Sounds to me like Pearl is starting to move on....getting to anger is a big step.

Susan Anderson said...

If this were already a book, I'd be reading it all day until I was finished. In my pajamas.


Amy said...

And just last night I was thinking about poor Pearl and wanting so much to read more of her story. Thank you for obliging my craving. And the poor girl! I love the bags under her eyes packed and ready for a three month trip to Europe. So great!

Nancy C said...

I really like you this isn't "clean"---by that I mean, she's angry, she's sad, she's depressed. In short, she's grieving. It's a fallacy that each stage of grief lines up neatly, and I think you capture that so well.

Love this. Will be there every Tuesday.

Mrs. M said...

I love what Pearl is learning from the blogging world, and I am sure there is more learning to come. Great chapter.

Dee said...

Loveing Pearl. Hope it works out for her.

H said...

So many powerful emotions all jumbled up and taking her by surprise. Very real. Nicely captured.

Anonymous said...

I finally made it here without interruption to read another wonderful chapter of your story. You capture emotions beautifully with words. Waiting anxiously for the next chapter. Hugs

Lourie said...

All right! That was an awesome chapter. I could feel her anger as I read and her sorrow as well.

People Who Know Me Would Say: said...

You know how people will say, "You're magic" and it's really only a "How are ya?"

Well, you really are magic and I mean it in the honest-to-goodness, presto change-o way.

This gets better and better.

Terra said...

Oh Pearl you are not pathetic, you are perfect, right where you are supposed to be in this pathetic world. I do hope you continue to keep going, it is so hard...so hard.

The Words Crafter said...

Oh, I can relate to these days....grief, depression, melancholy...

You did an awesome job depicting the process. I hope she is able to get it together enough to begin. Then she can rant and cry and worry out some of her emotions-and see the progress.

I wish I'd known about blogger years ago!