We survived! I hope the past few weeks were enough of a whirlwind that our house can now settle into some fair weather. What happened? We did that 3-day garage sale and then my better half went back to work, but had a staggered start due to training, testing and orientation during the week of prep for the garage sale (it's normal work stuff for what he does, but it messes with the kid schedules having him in and out at irregular times). He went on nights once he did start fully... the day after the garage sale ended and on the same day both kids had dental surgery. They didn't have anything major, but bad teeth run in the family so they both needed a bunch of small cavity work done and both chose to each have one appointment under anesthetic rather than many appointments while awake.
My oldest recovered per the text book predictions, but my littlest did not. She'd picked up something from school which hadn't been in her system long enough to cause symptoms, but it was really happy to jump into the intubation scrapes in her throat and flare up horribly in only 24 hours. (As a note, the breathing tubes scrape everyone; she was just unlucky enough to have what turned out to be a virus poised to take advantage of the quick blood-stream access.)
So fast-forward over the hospital visit and missed school to one sick kid just starting to feel better, one kid who was sore for a couple of days but now feeling fine, and then it was dance recital time. We had rehearsal the afternoon and evening (yup, my oldest and I were there for five hours) of the same day the littlest and I spent the morning in the hospital getting testing for why she had open sores in her throat. Then we had the recital on the weekend. Plus other regular life appointments and school stuff.
Needless to say, I'm so happy my sister was able to come up for the recital weekend to help out and visit! And my mom-in-law broke out the hero cape and boots required for multiple grandma-rescues (for my girls, and then for my four-footed fur-nephews who are only a few months old and had cranky tummies).
This week things have settled down a bit (yes, I'm knocking on wood for good luck as I say that), and I was able to clean up the house. Weird how no elves popped in to magic away the day-to-day tidying for me lol. The cleaning was easier with a lot of the clutter sold off in the garage sale, so I've got lofty hopes of actually being able to get back to work on Tuesday and do some writing. In a mostly clean house. With mostly healthy kids. I might even see my hubby for more than a half hour due to the long weekend!
If you also have three days off, please keep yourself safe and as happy as you can. Hope you have a good weekend!
7. Living on Pause
“Well, that was humiliating,” she finally said after tucking the used tissue into the opposite pocket that she’d gotten it out of as clean. Liam tucked one hand into her hair and cradled the back of her head into his palm.
“You’re allowed to have emotions, Matilde. The bad ones are just as valid as the good ones,” he said quietly. She twisted her head to look at him, but kept her ear pressed into his palm. Clouded confusion filled her eyes and her brows pinched together slightly.
“Why do you put yourself through this?”
“All of… this,” she gestured widely at the full expanse of the grey. “The messes that people make and the terrible things they do to themselves and each other. Why do that to yourself on endless repeat?”
“Because it feels important to me,” he answered honestly. “This is something important and good in the big ways that I never felt about anything while I was alive.”
She watched him for a moment, her eyes still confused. Suddenly she tipped toward him and kissed him. Her lips were soft and the pressure they presented was questioning, so he answered with returning the kiss and then breaking it off as she started to lean closer.
“I shouldn’t have done that,” she reprimanded herself, taking his lack of action as a sign of rejection.
“I’m not complaining about it,” he said. “But you’re not really in a great emotional state, and I’m not a rubber stamp of approval that you’re okay. Especially when I honestly think that you’re not.”
“So I’m too screwed up to screw. Cool. Thanks.” She shoved away from him and positioned her legs so that she could stand up without using her hands.
“You’d prefer pity sex?” he asked.
The flatness of the question startled her into falling back onto her ass from the half standing position she’d been in. She squared off to yell at him purely out of wounded pride while she was still fighting to stop using her hands to catch herself because they kept dropping through the nothing of the catwalk. Liam arrested her struggles by wrapping one arm around her back, holding her up as if he’d just dipped her while they’d been dancing.
“You’ve said you don’t like me, and you’ve shown you don’t trust me,” he said, interrupting anything she might’ve tried to say. “You’ve just had a full blown meltdown and you feel vulnerable and embarrassed and so far out of control that you’re terrified you’ll never get back to your own normal. I can tell you’ve used this recovery route before, so it’s an easy confession that I have too. We both know the sex doesn’t help. It’s just a temporary control that’ll make you feel cheap after. You’re already valid, Matilde. I don’t have to screw you to prove it.”
She opened her mouth a couple of times to attempt a reply, but both times nothing came out and she simply closed her mouth without saying anything. Instead she slapped him, rolled out of his arms, and started crying again. After a few moments alone, she leaned into the hug he offered and cried on his shoulder one more time.
Matilde told him about her chain of exes once the tears stopped. How things had spiraled for her since her mom had passed away and the way that work and finances just kept piling up to the negative until she’d started needing sleeping pills and anti-anxiety medication just to get through the week. Mixing up her prescriptions and overdosing by accident was what had brought her into the grey. He recounted his own incident with the truck while he’d been skipping classes, and then about his failed attempts at relationships. They commiserated over the strains of university when all the years of school were stacking up under mounds of loans and debts that the offered wages in the job market just didn’t meet at the point of a livable situation. Her happy childhood was a stark contrast to his broken one, but they were both able to laugh at the good stories they each had. Somewhere along the flow of the conversation, they ended up lying down together and staring up at the grey overhead as if there were stars in it. Matilde marveled at Liam’s ability to interact with the catwalk and structures, and he made her giggle by dropping a coin to the catwalk above where her palm was sunken below the surface of it.
“How long do you think we’ve been lying here?” she asked, the back of her head resting on his stomach so that she didn’t have to hold it up.
“Anywhere from an hour to a lifetime,” Liam shrugged. “Time isn’t linear here.”
“I’m just trying to figure out how it’s possible that I’m not aching after lying on something as hard as concrete for this long.”
Liam laughed at her comment. “This isn’t your physical body, remember?”
“Ouch,” she said after pinching herself. “Feels real, though, doesn’t it?”
“It’s still real. It’s just not physically happening,” he explained. She sighed and shook her head and then rolled over to rest on her elbows and look at his face.
“You see something up there, don’t you?”
“There’s another catwalk,” he answered, his eyes tracing the thin line until he saw the wavering dot that meant his companion was on the move. “It’s almost too far away to see, but it’s there.”
“Does it look the same at this one?”
“It’s transparent like this one, because I can see the visitors up there through it, but that one seems to have rounded corners for the catwalk and square catches. This one has squared corners and round catches. There’s someone else like me up there, too. Sometimes we can wave to each other.”
“Are there more catwalks?” she asked, twisting to be able to squint up and try to see what he was looking at.
“I figure there must be. I haven’t seen any others yet, though.”
“Huh.” She squinted up for a long time, then shook her head and looked back at Liam. “I don’t see anything.”
“You also can’t touch the catwalk with bare skin or you fall through,” he reminded her.
“That’s true,” she agreed, shrugging.
She kissed him again, shifting close, her inner dialogue running negative the moment he broke off the kiss and she scoffed angrily at herself. “I told you: you’re already valid. You don’t have to prove it. Besides,” he stole a kiss as he copped a feel, the teenager-level obviousness making her giggle hard enough to break the kiss. “I’ll stick around until you start to feel better if you just want to stay here. We don’t have to look for your door unless you decide you want to.”
“I’d like that,” she said.
“I have lots of hugs if you want them?” he offered. She laughed and then snuggled against his chest.
They talked about everything and anything they knew about until all those words were exhausted, and then they theorized about whatever came to mind at the time. Along the way, Liam noticed that he was starting to sound like some of his counselors and then Matilde was crying again because she was having either another meltdown or maybe a breakthrough. She threw away her jacket at some point, just to watch it fall until the fluttering dusted away. Lifetimes spun away into the grey and after a long and comfortable silence, she put her hand down on her lap as she thought of something else to talk about and realized she was leaning weight on her other hand on the catwalk.
“I can see it!” she exclaimed. Liam laughed at her, the sound familiar from the life they’d had together while lounging in this one spot.
“I was wondering when you’d notice,” he chided. He laced his fingers into hers and pulled her down for a kiss. She broke the kiss and smiled at him, then scooted away and – biting her bottom lip out of anticipated excitement – lay down and rolled onto her back. She whooped out a laugh that her head and bare arms stayed comfortably resting on the surface, and then sighed contentedly at the perfectly peaceful way her mind felt here in the grey.
“I’m going to die if I find my door and go back,” she said.
Why are Authors crazy? I can't answer that, but I can provide bits of my own thoughts so that you can piece together why I may be.