Living the Past

The slow alarm’s light begins to fade up at 4 am. I like waking this way. The phone rings, but it isn’t B. or the kids, so I don’t take it. I may be awake, but my waking is intentional, and this time sacred. I’m not sure sacred is the right word, but it is dedicated, and protected. Protective.

Leonard has already laid his head on the edge of the bed, and is breathing into my face.

There is still snow on the ground. It mimics – just a little – the morning’s fade up. It reflects the streetlights, the car lights, the tiny beam of light from my headlamp. My body is stiff from yesterday’s housework. I’m wearing my winter shoes with the ice grips, but I still walk carefully. I brace for sudden tugs on the leash. Leonard loves the snow like he loves food. Digging his nose under the crust. It must trigger some instinct to track foxes, and hare.

I think he must not remember the accident – the barbed wire – that ripped his chest open. I wonder if he’s forgotten so much that he could hunt again. I wonder where the trauma sits in his brain, or his body. At what point would he twist inside and stop up. Nope: not gonna.

Is a memory nothing more than a habit of the body? This color, this flavor, this “emotion” perceived but unclassified intellectually. Just a chain reaction of chemicals, hormones, neurons, muscles twitching and tensing.

How the smell of old carpet in an air-conditioned room turns my stomach. There is a memory there. No matter what color the carpet is, it is green. It is synthetic, with a miniature landscape of valleys and hills. And that is all. That is everything.

There is a radio play where the aliens report back that there is no intelligent life: “They are meat all the way through.”

Mornings are soft. And there is a white noise in my head as my ears warm-up after the walk. Coffee, keyboard.

I try to return the call, but there’s no answer. I have the feeling it is difficult news.

So I just breathe.


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  1. “I have the feeling it is difficult news” is open ended – with no answer wrapping this story up in a bow of blue ribbon. Realistic. You’re slices of life vignettes rivet me. Every. Single. Time.