Tuesday, February 13, 2007:
I awaken to the offensively chipper chatter of morning show hosts from the clock radio at my husband’s bedside. Pulling up my knees, I withdraw deeper into the dark, warm covers and lift them over the back of my head, relieved when he hits “snooze” and heads to the bathroom. A ten-minute reprieve.
Visions of flame and smoke creep into my consciousness. My heartbeat quickens. I writhe, throw back the covers, and sit up abruptly, shaking the memory from my mind. No rest for the wicked. My feet search out their slippers and I drag myself to standing, only to feel a burning pain in my foot. Falling back onto the bed, lifting my left foot up onto my right thigh, I find the sole of my left foot blackened and my other foot similarly smudged. Good grief, I’ve got to wash my floors. (Although, in March, my feet have been perpetually covered in layers of socks and slippers.) I examine a puffy watery pocket on the ball of my left foot before pulling a sock over it. I’m incapable of analysis before 8am. I head for the kitchen, coffee my soul focus. Phoenix limping.
The day transpires much the same as usual, one distraction to the next. After lunch, I succeed in lulling my daughter into a nap (small victory) and head to my computer. My in-box reveals a letter from the “Institute of Children’s Writing” through which I have been failing miserably at completing a basic children’s story writing course. They state: “We regret that, despite our best efforts to help you, you have been unable to complete the requested assignments. We are hereby closing your course account. Should you wish to re-initiate the course in the future, we will be happy to accommodate your request based on the fee structure provided below….” I leave my office and slouch onto the livingroom couch, the last vestiges of perseverance draining from my core. A new low.
I pick up my latest self-help book from the table beside me and randomly read: “You’re not meant to be perfect, you’re meant to be whole. So, what is there to fear?”. What is there to fear?! This is what I fear: to break open and spill into a million tiny fragments onto the floor of the universe. Frozen shards that I alone must gather up again one-by-one—the never-ending tediousness of stooping, scrounging to pick up little, gorey bits of myself and put them back together, imperfectly. “Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold….” But, my daughter awakens from her slumber and I pick myself up off the couch to get her. After all, life goes on; there’s only so much room for melodrama.
Then, suddenly, the clock reads five and I survey my current state through the eyes of my husband, who will soon arrive home to witness it. Me, unshowered, wearing the same sweatpants as yesterday; my daughter unbathed with lunch on her shirt; the day’s and perhaps yesterday’s dirty dishes unwashed; toys scattered. Adrenalin sets in. William Tell’s finale plays in my head as I race through the house in an attempt to accomplish the tasks of a day in twenty minutes. Phoenix galloping.
- Did you notice the “typo” in this section? “Coffee my soul focus” should be “coffee my sole focus”. “Sole” referring to the sole of a foot or “only”. But, in this case, the character’s soul yearns for coffee as much as her physical body so it applies.
- For me, the word “slouching” took on a more devious connotation after reading the poem “The Second Coming” by William Butler Yeats. In this section, the quote “Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold….” is also a reference from this poem. Read The Second Coming.
- This post introduces the novel’s first reference to an extraordinary event, occurring in an otherwise mundane existence. The novel belongs within the genre of Magic Realism. Find out more about the genre of Magic Realism in the related post below.