Says Laura Boggess:
I started this little story as I waited for Maureen Doallas’s Neruda’s Memoirs: Poems. I had been so looking forward to the release of the book, had ordered it the second I heard it was available–and then was frustrated by what seemed like a terribly long delivery (it was only a few days, but felt much longer). It was very windy that week–I watched religiously for the mailman each day amidst flying little bits of this world–leaves, papers, my neighbor’s flag. As I waited, I entertained myself with the story of Amy Pinkleberry–a young divorcee who struggles with depression. Amy’s depression is characterized by auditory hallucinations–destructive voices that prevent her from finding the happiness she so longs for. Only one thing stops the voices and that is…well, you’ll just have to read on to find out…
Waiting on Neruda’s Memoirs
Amy sank her teeth into the airy white bread and the tangy sweetness of grape jelly melted into her tongue. She swung her legs back and forth under the table. The old lady was talking and she was trying to listen but that purple goodness was gooping out the sides of its spongy confines, forcing her to tilt head and drink its drippings.
She had cried a lot at first—so much she hadn’t wanted to eat. The missing of her momma was more than she could stand. And her daddy too. And when her grandma came to stay with her, she thought it only temporary. That they would be coming home soon. She thought that all the way through the funerals and up until the grandmother told her that her mommy and daddy were in heaven now.
What was she saying now?
The silver head was bending close. Those slender fingers with the bunchy skin were wrapping around hers. Milk-blue eyes sought her own.
“You’re going to be okay, Amelia. We’re going to take care of each other. It’s just you and me now.”
Just you and me now.
Steven had once told her that too.
They always go away.
The Watchers hissed in her ear.
Amy awoke with a start. She slapped the alarm into submission and stared at the ceiling. She resisted the urge to turn to the empty side of the bed. She must face these things alone now.
But her Gran’s face seemed so real. And for a minute she was four years old again…waiting for momma and daddy. She closed her eyes and tried to remember their faces. All she could conjure was the snapshot taken on their wedding day that she had tucked away in the safe in the closet in the second bedroom.
But Gran’s face? That was another story. She closed her eyes and brought the dream to mind—she knew every curve of that woman’s mouth…every wrinkle on her brow. And her eyes–how they could speak the mischief of her mind.
The sobs that wracked her small frame took her by surprise. Blindly, she fumbled for it on the table. Drew it like air to parched lungs. It fell open to page ninety-five.
Pain isn’t a wound
we can stitch
to a close…
She let her eyes linger over the rest of the poem until her heart slowed and her breathing smoothed. This one said so much. Heartfelt, it was called.
Amy had read it over and over last night before giving in to sleep. Somehow, Maureen Doallas’s words had become her lullaby.
She looked at the clock. Only an hour before time to read to Justine. As she put feet to floor, she carried the last lines of the poem with her.
Measure pain slowly,
wait for it to dull,
offer it time and memory.
To be continued…
Story by Laura Boggess. Reprinted with permission.
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