“Is he taking good care of my Ruby?” she asks over lunch. I smile big, blush. Tell her about my support network. How I’ve started to reach out. How people have been asking me how I’m doing lately and I’ve been telling them.
Spent the week selling myself at job interviews and to potential roommates. Threw my hands in the air when I landed the apartment in Green Lake. Sent a text to notify my partner and best friends when my first job offer came in.
My feet finally under me. I’m coming home again.
We decide what we want to sculpt. Take a step back and examine it all. What is it that we want from each other? From ourselves. Start building a life with all the pieces we selected carefully. Leave nothing to just fall into place. This is all intentional.
While we walk down the street he reaches over and grabs my hand. Laces fingers. Pulls me closer to him and kisses my cheek. Partners. Support. We stare off in the same direction. We lean hard on each other and we take turns being the weaker one. Know when it’s our time to be strong. Give and take. We’re a team.
Mark tells me I don’t need to come to therapy anymore. That we don’t have much to talk about. We’re just hanging out. And I start to sink into the idea that this isn’t just an upswing. This is sustainable. I’ve learned how to be okay.
Back at lunch we reminisce about last year. When I had to leave my job. The city. When everything started to crumble, fall down. And we smile big and shake our heads. It feels so long ago now. So far away. It’s the quiet shadow of a memory. Alive only because we talk about it every now and then. And I’m never going back there. Wouldn’t even remember my way. This is normal. This is me. I am safe.
You heard it before you knew what was happening, before you were even fully conscious, opening your eyes to the dark and to the sound. A ghostly sob behind hypnopompic curtains, fuzzing into your dream like an alarm clock. And maybe it was an alarm, in a way. Not the ring-ring-ring kind, but an alarm of another variety. An alert, a Mayday signal from your subconscious, saying wake up and feel this.
You woke after the crying had already started, the pillow wet beneath your cheek. You tried to keep the noise down, so as not to wake him. Because you wanted to be polite in your grief, because you didn’t want him to ask. Because you didn’t know the answer.
But you also needed to get it out. Out of your body as if it were something you could retch up from your stomach and out your throat. It would come out heavy and hard because that’s how long it’s been sitting there. Shoved down, stuffed down, pressed harder and harder into a ball. Your own personal diamond.
What happened to you? What is going on in those delta waves? When did this start? You never used to do this, did you?
No. I didn’t.
Shannon Noel Brady is a multi-genre author of novels and short stories. Her blog muses on the craft of writing with pieces of fiction interspersed.
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“You have a really strong core. Great muscles in your lower back and shoulders. It’s just that a lot of them are holding things kinda, you know, in the wrong place.”
He spent thirty minutes trying to get parts of my anatomy I never learned the name of to release my left shoulder. Let it fall down, shift back. Slide into the place it used to reside. Before the motorcycle crash. Before I started leaning on it while studying, reading, writing. Before I forgot how to relax. Continue reading →