She feels old this morning.
It is not a new feeling. She often wakes feeling older than she has a right to – and it is not that her bones are aching or that her muscles are slow – but she feels as if all the years of man press on her in the few minutes of peace she feels should belong to her before she has to join the battle of the world.
She dreamed this morning. It is not unusual for characters and plots to invade her mind. In the half hour she drifted between sleep and waking, in a dreamlike state of otherworldly consciousness, she was not a part of this world, but theirs.
At ten of seven she finally forces herself from the cocoon of blankets and sheets and away from the book that spent the night at her side. She stumbles across a room strewn with papers and books and trips over a pen left carelessly on the floor – as if the piles of notebooks are not a poor reflection of her desires to keep a house clean – and makes her way to the bathroom where she bypasses the mirror and heads straight for the shower. She opts to bathe in the ethereal light that comes in through the ground level windows above her bathtub. For a fleeting moment she contemplates how pleasant it would be to have a candle lit, but that would mean going back into the living room to find the matches and she needs to leave by seven thirty, so every second counts. On most mornings like this, she would choose to not shower, but recently there have been too many mornings like this.
As the hot water washes away the lingering dream, sending half-formed ideas down the drain along with the run off of her rosemary scented body wash, her thoughts turn to the newest who dance in her head. She wonders about the dead Englishman; his soft, highland accent is one of a writer. She still isn’t sure how he died, he hasn’t talked enough to her about his place in the world, so she can only assume. She knows that he was good in bed while he lived, and that he had no children. She knows he has found love with a ghost – dare she tackle the idea of love after life?
The conditioner slides through her thin hair and she sighs, remembering the treatment she spent good money on but it is out on the kitchen table, forgotten in her unloading of the groceries last night. Her hair will have to wait another day or two for the volume she dreams of. She needs to remember to take her vitamins; it will help her hair. Her nails are breaking too. And she needs lotion. But she has paper cuts on her hands and the lotion will only aggravate them and her fingers hurt enough as it is.
A car accident, she realizes, as she reaches out of the shower curtain for her maroon towel. The lavender one she uses on her hair is in the bedroom, forgotten in her stumbling efforts this morning, so she does her best to dry off and steps out of the shower, past a pair of old pajamas that were sitting on the bathroom floor. Cold, she goes in search of her robe to wrap in while she makes breakfast. Eggs and potatoes and she should have some salsa left.
He was driving. Drunk perhaps. Tired. Crashed into someone, ending both their lives early. A classic tragedy. It is all she seems to write, and she prefers it that way. Happy endings only happen in Disney fairytales. Don’t they know that the Little Mermaid turned to sea foam?
Eggs crack into the pan and as she listens to them sizzle, she ponders ways to end a life. Drunk drivers are cliché. He could have been high, perhaps. The ghost will not talk to her, will not tell her, and she wonders if in that accident he lost the lady love with whom he now can be seen? Does it matter, then, if she even talks about how? If she is talking about love after life, does the path really matter? Isn’t it only the destination?
Medication taunts her from the table and she ignores it. In a few hours she will follow the directions and take it on an empty stomach – while she is at work – and she will sit at her desk with her eyes closed and pray that she will not see her breakfast again. She wants to know why this happened to her, why she was given the gift of a skin condition that makes little children ask what is wrong with her face and makes men and women look past her when she is out with others.
The ghost says she is beautiful, but she ignores him. He is supposed to say that, he lives inside her head and she can turn his story however she wishes. But she will not distort the truth – just as long as he tells it to her. At times she craves silence but the cacophony of voices has always been with her and if they left, she would not feel peace. She thinks that is the reason so many are diagnosed as crazy; shrinks shouldn’t try to get rid of the voices – not when they are so much a part of the flesh and blood person they are inhabiting. Cutting off the hat lifeline would be like cutting off her hands and if she cannot hear them, she cannot write. She is proud of her insanity.
She turns on the radio.
The news is the same as always, and she wonders what it was like in and era not just of passionate stories but passion for the world. Yet, people are still fighting for equal rights, and a war is still being fought that the country does not approve of.
Breakfast is scarfed down; seconds are ticking, and she goes to dress – old jeans and a nice shirt. She feels fat today, so black will help her self image. Or so she hopes. Her thin, bottle-red hair gets pulled back into a ponytail, and she feels an overwhelming desire to wear the old yin-yang earrings that she found a couple of years ago at a thrift store. Perhaps it is the darkness she fights with this story that will not come versus the light she is about to face to head to work. Teeth are brushed, and the dog is taken to the corner for a short pee – the old animal senses that time is of the essence and races back into the apartment without any argument.
A car accident, yes. Early morning, perhaps, as he was driving home from a shift at the hospital? No, this ghost was a poet. But could he have been both a poet and a doctor? Why not? A shift at the hospital, and he is driving and he is blinded by the sun and hits something, something that sends him careening into a tree. He never knows what the something is – he is killed by the impact. Yes, that is how he dies. But what about the love after? Maybe that is where she will find hers, in a place where she is beautiful. She wonders if the redness on her face will follow her there? She could never have been a queen in Ireland centuries ago, she is not perfect. What if the gods will grant her a reprieve and erase this blemish that keeps her from looking people in the face?
A car accident, early in the morning, a chilly morning where breath freezes and hangs in the air before falling to the warmer ground. And the sun catches in his eyes and he crashes into something and it causes him to spin out of control and even as he stands next to the car and what is now his corpse, he will never know what he hit. A patch of ice, perhaps? But it is that question that will keep him tied to this world, at least until his story is told.
A car accident, yes. A fiery way into the next life.
She shrugs into her ski jacket and grabs her bag, big, yellow, covered in pins from each cause she supports. Environmental, political, economical, causes she’s worked on, ideals she believes in. She wonders what her ghost believed? Did he want troops out of Vietnam? Did England even have a position on the war? She needs to research. She will do that at work, perhaps, at lunch. She will take a few minutes. What were the leading causes of car accidents then? Was it the same in England as in the states? She has questions to answer, questions that she knows her ghost has put into her head, questions he will refuse to answer for her. It is not his place to give her information, but to tell her his story, and she needs questions of life and he only provides answers in death.
A car accident, yes. A small car. Did they import then?
She starts her car.
The sun crests.