Look Apast

Oh, don’t worry, you just have to look apast some things, my mother said, it’s the way it is for all of us.

This was my mother’s take on love. You just accept some things that are not so nice in order to enjoy all the nice things you like in a person. She might have done that with Dad but I don’t think so. I think she and Dad were perfect for each other, building a life in the country side together and raising us four kids. For all her country lingo, Mom was a wise woman but she wasn’t marrying George. I was.

George with his already Curly of the Three Stooges hair ring boasting a shiny top suitable, in my opinion, only for smacking when he did his burping and farting routines. How can a man who became a millionaire in business command so much public respect and still be so crass at home in private? I think I forget sometimes that manners are not necessarily synonymous with wealth.

Look, Mom said, you will never want for anything and you’ll always be able to do things none of us could ever afford to do like go to Hawaii. 

It was my mother’s dream to go to Hawaii but she never did make it there, her life was snuffed out by that evil cancer that is all too prevalent in a modern world where you can fly to the moon but not cure people of that rotten C word.  Of course, her death came much later, decades after we sat in what used to be my bedroom at home where we were preparing me for my wedding. The room was filled with a heady fragrance from the huge bouquet George had sent that morning. It was almost cloying and I considered dumping them out the window but I knew I had to sit still for Mom to finish my hair. I could have gone to a salon but I wanted my wedding day to be filled with fond memories of the people I love and I liked the simplicity of plaits and a few flowers in my hair.

I do love him in some way, I said,  but I just don’t know if it’s the kind of love that means I  can do “life” with this guy, Mom. He’s grown twice as wide just in the three years we’ve been together and the way he talks sometimes I get so embarrassed I want to crawl under something and hide or run out of wherever we are as if I am not even with him.

Mom’s age freckled hands continued patiently braiding my long hair and plaiting it around my head just the same way she did for me when I was little getting ready for school. It tore at me to be here now in this comforting space sitting on my floral comforter with such a highly publicized wedding in front of me. In just two hours I would be Mrs. George Hanson.  No, Mrs. Loretta Hanson. Or would I?

Loretta, Mom said, as she pinned the plaits in place, Nobody gets everything they want in this world. Nobody. You just weigh up the good and as your own Granny said to me when I had the wedding night jitters, some of us just learn to “make do.” That’s how life is. You just learn to make do. 

She finished my hair and then looked in the mirror to pat her salon do she’d had done that morning. People always said Mom was Shirley Maclaine’s twin and that might be true but all I could see in the mirror as I looked over her shoulder was my loving Mom trying to do her best to support me and guide me.

I told her I was driving myself to the seaside instead of taking the limousine to the church. Mom accepted what I was doing and gave me a hug as I grabbed my keys and left my childhood home. She even said she admired my pluck and wished she’d had some of it herself sometimes. Even Mom understood there are some things in life you simply cannot make do with or “look apast.”

I phoned the church and told them to go ahead and have the party anyway but to celebrate freedom, not “making do.” George would find a new wife no trouble with all that money I couldn’t sell myself out for. I took my sandals off and walked out into the shimmering ocean under the stars with my wedding gown floating up all around me like a cloud that held up my dreams and my dreams of how I wanted my life to be began drifting back to me one by one.

Short story excerpt by (c) Janni Styles

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YIELDINGS

"Sometimes it is better in life to walk alone than walk the path of life with someone... and still feel all alone." (c) 2011

In the beginning you are grateful for the little things, the toothpaste uncapped, oozing out for you to scrub out of the grooves of the laminate counter but you don’t care…you are even happy for it, along with the nightly socks on the floor.

You even find it cute when you open the fridge and the juice pitcher sits there with a thin glaze over the bottom, not so much as a swallow left for you but that‘s okay, you just make a fresh pitcher and all is well again.

Just like the many times you were home alone with no one to help when all that was left was the tissue dispenser was the cardboard centre of the toilet roll. That never happens anymore either because you have trained yourself now to automatically check before sitting down to relieve yourself.

All those cute little, endearing things, clear evidence that you are no longer alone, no longer seeking a partner in love, give you a boost that carries you all day long from home to work and back again where you clear it all up, happily making everything shiny clean before you start fixing a nice dinner for the two of you.

Like driving on a curving country road nothing prepares you for what you might encounter on the other side of the hill. You have no way of knowing because you are not yet there.

In that very same way, nothing warns you, nothing prepares you for the time when you will look at the whiskers in the sink and utter a slight sigh. A sigh so slight you won’t even notice it, it just becomes part of your daily routine like cleaning up the whiskers you are still glad to see.

Then one day you grab the full tube of toothpaste and throw it in the waste bin along with his facecloth that you wiped up the counter with. You stare at the toothpaste and the facecloth, still among the soap wrapper, used floss and paper covering from a Band Aid.

You are shocked at yourself, yet you have a flash of something, something you are trying to understand but you don’t yet know fully what it is. Shame heats your face and that’s good, you tell yourself, these are all such small things, it’s really crazy to get bent out of shape over such trivialities.

You extract the toothpaste and face cloth from the garbage and clean the toothpaste tube with alcohol before placing it back on the counter. You carry the facecloth, along with his socks and underwear from the floor, to the laundry room where you put the machine on and feel good that you can just wash it all away.

Later, it is not so easy to wash the sins away. Sins may be all relative and not my place to judge but there is one thing I know for sure. It is impossible to forget the pain of broken trust. You accept the excuses. At first. Because, after all, it’s not that bad, you tell yourself, it’s just a couple of little misunderstandings.

But the “misunderstandings” keep happening even though you’ve discussed everything to death and he says there’ll be no more broken trust. He really does sound like he means it. This time.

Then in his absence, your daily sighs escalate into full-blown curse words that you don’t even realize you are uttering with such venomous energy until the dog skitters away from you, scared he is the one being called the Goddamn Bastard.

Single life wasn’t so bad, you think, then: Single life was so bad. Life was easier before him. Life was harder before him. Things weren’t so complicated before him. Things weren’t so complicated after him.

It was so lonely before him. It is even lonelier now.

Still, you don’t want it or him to go away. You will clean the whiskers, make the juice, whatever it takes, because you finally realize what has happened. Even though it feels like you are slowly suffocating to death, you think you cannot breathe without his help, his presence in your daily life.

That’s why it comes as such a shock to you when you suddenly move out one day while he is away and discover that breathing is so incredibly easy.

© 2006