Her Widow excerpt 19Published October 14, 2018
Note to readers: I apologize for the mistake on the last excerpt. I don’t know in what moment of confusion I hit the “password protected” key, the result being some of you were locked out of the last post. I hope I have unlocked that door and you are able to read Excerpt 18.
Also, you might have been surprised by the new look to the blog. I was also. It is a work in progress and may require more changes.
My plan is to offer two more excerpts of Her Widow.
If any of you are interested in a free electronic version of Her Widow for writing a short reader’s review (a couple sentences) on Amazon’s listing page of my book on November 15, the release date, let me know and I will see you get the book. You can reach me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
And now for excerpt 19:
It has been days since we had any wind and today the sky is as white as chalk.
In this morning’s dream, I was back working in the theatre. When I woke, I lay in bed recalling that time in my life, remembering how lost I was until I got the job at the Curran Theatre as the Stage Doorman.
Though it wasn’t yet light out, I went down to the kitchen to make coffee and sitting at the kitchen table with my cup of coffee in hand and the small light on, it was easy to fall back into the dream and imagine I was sitting backstage between shows.
The soundman and I were the only ones in the theatre. Cast and crew had departed after the matinee for an early dinner before the evening show.
I was listening to the sound check when I drifted into a trance-like state, the sort of state I discovered years later could be reached through meditation.
Behind my closed eye lids, I saw the pages of a book turn, the way a calendar’s pages turn in the old movies to indicate the passage of time.
As the pages turned, a familiar story, the secret in my relationship with Allyson, unfolded. Coming out of that trance-like state that day, I felt I had glimpsed my future, and a year later I had written my first novel, Daresay.
I don’t know if my dream this morning is telling me to get back to writing or reminding me that I have been lost before and found my way.
These are the dog days of summer.
Alone at Nancy’s pool today, I floated for hours like I lie on the couch for hours, caught up in the past, not planning a future and not feeling good about myself for spending my days this way. I can’t go on indefinitely using up the little savings I have. I will have to make some kind of living soon. But not today. And not tomorrow.
The law of inertia is at play now as it was for us the year your cancer seemed to go into remission. We never talked about the paradox of that time, and we talked about everything.
We put our working lives on hold when you were diagnosed, and for a year we lived simply for each other in the moment, our only concern your well-being. And rough as that time was, it was like a second falling in love. Nothing and no one else mattered. We didn’t worry about our future because we were pretty sure all we had was the present.
Then, after 14 weeks of chemotherapy, you started to gain back your weight and your energy, but we didn’t pick up our pace. Inertia had set in. We could have been inspired by the signs that you were recovering. We were not. We didn’t speak of our strange disappointment as your hair grew back and the color returned to your cheeks. We pretended to be glad. We pretended for each other and for our friends that we were thrilled that you could go back to work designing book jackets, and I could start a new novel.
The dark truth is we were sorry to see our holiday come to an end. I can’t speak for you, but for me your recovery in a strange way felt like a loss. We had found joy in our freedom to do as we pleased with our time and we were reluctant to give that up, and perhaps we didn’t want to let go of the drama that had made our ordinary lives feel exceptional.
Even more shocking and unspoken was the grief I felt over my lost dream—yes, I had secretly dreamed of a single life. That is the hardest to admit. I can’t speak for you, but we talked often about the wondrous life in spirit you were going to have. And, in secret, I was looking forward to a single life in which I would have only me to take care of and answer to.
Or was my interest in returning to single life, dreaming up a good outcome of your dying so I could live with the horrible inevitable?
For that brief period when you seemed cured, I reluctantly returned to my writing and you took the train down to the city to show your portfolio. I have the letter you wrote to me on the train back to work, our first day apart after more than a year.
Monday, January 31, 1994
My dear Sweetheart,
This train ride along the Hudson is mystical in its icy forms.
I knew I’d be missing you even this early on my journey and thought a few lines would ease me.
By the time you read this I’ll have talked to you on the phone and told you that the early train was cancelled and I waited in the station for the next, warm in that place with the New York Times at hand. Also, for 50 cents I bought a copy of a 1986 National Geographic which has an article about fresh water turtles, plus wonderful photographs and schematic drawings which that publication is famous for. So, my thoughts are in the depths of the Hudson River as I look out my window and think of those dear creatures sheltered in the muddy bottom, like the huge snapping turtle we rescued and you held with gardening gloves. Brave you!
It doesn’t seem like over a year since I last made this trip. It’s so familiar, and at the same time surprising, as its beauty is a constant startle. I’ve taken several dozen mental photos.
You must be home by now after your errands. I like to think that you’re nestled back in the place you love so much, warm and safe. And those little crackerjacks as well. I think you won’t have any house troubles this week.
The café car supplied me with a hearty treat: egg, cheese, and ham on a biscuit. You wouldn’t believe the mess I literally had on my hands (well, actually, you would). The dough stuck to my fingertips like spackle, but most of the mess is now cleared off, T.G.!
You mean so much to me. I tell you this so often that the words must sound feeble. So, I’m writing them! You are the best thing that’s ever happened to me. I just love you so much. You are truly dear and wonderful.
Now I will go back to my turtle article and find out about the respiratory system, etc. I will give you a full verbal report soon, so know it’s coming!