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seftiri [userpic]
A little bit of writing...
by seftiri (seftiri)
at May 6th, 2007 (12:36 pm)
Playing on the Mood Swings:: creative


Saturday morning.  The sky, gray as wet concrete and low over the horizon, had been holding the muzzle of a migraine to her temple for three days now, making her weepy and exhausted, a hostage to a high pressure system.  She prayed for rain and got a pathetic spitting sprinkle that did nothing to relieve the near-pain hovering--always hovering--like a spider in steel-toed boots over her left eye.  She prayed for wind and the sky snorted, as if to say "Be careful what you wish for, puny one!"  Tight ribbons of corkscrew wind were devastating Kansas at that very moment but she didn't know that. 

She was driving on a highway in North Carolina, heading from one quirky campus center to another to spend money she didn't really have to spare on books she really didn't need.  Except she did need them.  In the very same way that the addict needs his next fix or the religious zealot needs her time with the rattlers.  Several were gifts.  One was for her.  It would be her seventh copy of the book; others having been lost or given away to those who had needed it more.  She wondered how long she would keep this copy. 

Traffic at 10:30am this gray, damp Saturday was a bitch.  A howling, slat-ribbed, half-feral bitch with a sore tooth and the possibility of rabies.  She often wondered if the people in her state were as mesmerized by rain as was the common turkey.  She'd heard that turkeys in a rainstorm would drown looking upwards at a strange, wet sky.  She imagined the general populace of her state had a similar complement of cognitive ability and that it accounted for the lurching start-and-stop, speed-then-screech approach they had to driving in the rain. 

She was cursing them now, her unknown neighbors and fellow residents.  Coming up on a particularly unruly knot of interchanges that even on the best days was a nightmare, she had had to slam on her breaks four times just to avoid finding her front seat in the back seat of the car in front of her.  She wanted to vent the full venom of the past three sleepless, medicated, teeth-grinding days upon the mouthbreathing idiots who had obviously found their driver's licenses in the bottoms of boxes of Cracker Jacks and she opened her mouth to begin a tirade that would have blistered paint.  But the words died in her mouth.

Ahead of her, a riot of baby blue and princess pink exploded across the gray sky.  It took her a second to realize that the blobs of floating color were helium balloons, at least 50 of them, rising inexorably upward.  She saw the ribbons, then.  Like the tentacles of jellyfish, streaming in the ocean current.  All the venom inside her turned instantly to joy--sharp and fresh, like the scent of a just-cut lemon.  She was at a stop light and so had the chance to watch to balloons on their haphazard journey for a moment.  She wondered if one of the local businesses was having a sale or announcing a grand opening and she turned her eyes to search for the origin of the colorful display. 

She found it.  A brown SUV had come to a stop on the crossroad.  Its hatchback was open and a man stood in the road behind it, gaping upward at hundreds of dollars escaping to the sky.  He turned suddenly and violently slammed the hatchback down, stomping to the driver's seat and peeling away from his oh-so-public humiliation.  The car managed to get 20 feet before the hatchback sprung up again, as inappropriate as a child doing 'the wave' in the middle of a sermon.  The driver didn't stop again.

Her hand flew to her mouth, now a perfect O of empathic agony.  The time it had taken her to deduce what had happened was the amount of time it had taken for the joy inside her to deflate and become a sad, empty shell; the remnants of a burst balloon.  She could feel with utter clarity and surety the anger of the driver of the SUV, the sense of the unfairness of it all, the shock and despair similar to that of a child who has taken one lick of the ice cream in the cone before the scoop has committed suicide over the edge and has splattered on the hot pavement below.

The light was green now and she continued on her way to the bookstore, making doddering little sounds of commiseration the man would never hear.  Before she had gone a hundred feet, she imagined surrounding the SUV and the driver in a brilliant blue light, something she did when she prayed for people.  She sent a plea to the Universe that the man would someday be able to tell the story with a voice laced with humor and that the lost money would come back to him unexpectedly.  She thanked the Universe and the man both for the riotous beauty of the balloons against a seal gray sky and for the joy that had risen with them for a few brief moments.  She considered that she should do that sort of thing more often, should imagine people around her bathed in electric blue light, should thank the Universe for other things, too.

The angry bark of a nearby car horn interrupted her thoughts and she drove on. 

Erin M. Hoagland
05/06/07