“I am going to do this.”
She’d said that to herself a thousand times, making secret promises while she lay awake in bed at night, in the morning’s vacant space of teeth brushing and lunch packing, in the car quiet of the commute. She knew it would only take a moment’s firm decision, and then it would be done. But still the clock ticked and the days passed one after another, piling up into a heap of years.
A promise is a promise. Lacy’s mother had sworn she would go back to that place of fairy tales, the one they always talked about. She had sworn she would make the trip, with or without her, for both their sakes, to confront the memories and make them real again, make them whole. She said she would bring them back in a box that she could open if she wanted, or could slide under the bed and forget until the time was right.
It turned out that her mother’s journey didn’t include travel. It never opened up enough for her to carry out her careful plan, no matter how many times she had called Lacy and said, “Honey, I am going this year: I am. You’ll see. I am going to manage to get away. I’ve got all the money saved up right here.”
Her voice, like honey; her idea, like a sweet hidden comb in both their hearts. But she never did manage. Time and life were the bee keepers that smoked them into somnolence and acquiescence. Reality put their dreams in a back bedroom to sleep in forgotten darkness.
Two years ago, Lacy had found the box of money under her mother’s bed while she was cleaning out the house. It still smelled of new shoes. Wads of bills and handfuls of coins crushed and rattled, tied together with a piece of red yarn. For two years, it had stared at her from the windowsill. She heard its dry voice whispering all the things that could never be said, telling all the stories that were still waiting to be told.
It was a Tuesday, and she was already late for work. The kettle was screaming at her from the stove when the phone rang, and while she walked to answer it she heard her mother’s voice, clear as if she was right there in the kitchen.
Always everything was impatience, a refusal to wait, the grinding machine that she allowed to make decisions for her. Lacy had been putting everything she used to hope for on the back burner for so long that she hardly even noticed the overcooked, burning smell anymore. Her dreams had caramelized into a solid, blackened crust. Now, when she stood listening to her boss on the other end of the phone, the acrid smoke of neglect filled her nostrils. She felt her mother’s eyes on her; she heard the rattle of all those saved coins in the box.
Lacy turned off the stove. Her boss paused, and she replied, “Yes, I realize all this, and I realize that I am late. I am going to need more time, at least a week. After that, I will be back and set it all right.”
She absorbed the stunned silence, and said her words to end the call. Lacy picked up her keys, her purse, turned out the light and locked the front door. The car dinged a welcome to her and revved with confident obedience. She saw the shoebox there in the front window, safe for some other rainy day. She picked up her phone and sent a text to a number she still knew by heart. “I am on my way.” She put on her seatbelt, slipped the gears into reverse, and backed out onto her own private highway.
I am considering doing NaNoWriMo again this year, so I am playing around with prose a little in preparation for what I might write. The other day, they shared a 31 day prep challenge thing on their instagram; this is my beginning. I don’t know if this is what they intended, and also it’s supposed to be posted on instagram, but whatev’s. Some rules are meant to be broken, right? “More of a guideline. . . . ” as Jack Sparrow would say. . . .
Thank you for reading! Comments are welcome!!!!