Writing Project

What happens when life pauses?

It had been a long, hard day. The kids were finally fed, bathed, asleep. She was tired. The kids wore her out; she prayed for patience. Prayed all day and night. When the kids cried, she prayed. When the bills couldn’t get paid, she prayed. When his raise still had not come though, she prayed. Every time she grew weary of praying, grew tired of seemingly unanswered prayers, she prayed. For faith. For strength. For comfort.
She lay there like she did ever night after reading too long. Tonight was Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck. The green library book was aged, binding loose with several pages taped back together. She held the book with affection, read each work with tenderness, turned each page with care. Her eyes soaked in every word. Too soon was it midnight, and she tore herself away. No tooth-brushing tonight.
She lay on top of the blanket and sheets. It was another humid summer night. The fan hummed lazily on medium, moving hot air over her body. She wore a thin tank top and no bottoms. She lay on her bed, her heavy eyes closing quickly. She dreamed of him. Him coming home. Him holding her. His touch.
Her eyes opened; she heard something. She lay still. It sounded like footsteps. Sandals sliding on the carpet. Rounding the corner from the living room (her heart pounded) coming in her room. Stopping. Probably her young daughter; she opened her eyes. The door was still closed. Maybe she was just hearing things.
Slipping into a doze she felt it. Her sixth sense awakened her. A strange presence close by. Peaceful. Someone standing beside the bed, leaning over to look at her. The heaviness was almost palpable. She dared not open her eyes.
"Lord? Is that you?"

Cheap motel on a forgotten street. Dingy, dirty rooms. Threadbare greenish carpet surrounding one twin bed. Blanket thin, no sheets, distorted mattress. One window, with a peeling sill and cloudy view of the load street outside. Plaid curtains she quickly pulls together. The room stinks of mold, urine and neglect. The walls are yellowish with years of smoky air. One tattered night stand holding one rotary beige phone. Probably doesn’t work. She doesn’t belong here, but she sits. She has no choice. No chance.
She lays still. Turning, she looks at the gray door with it’s two locks. Dirty doorknob, dirt-encrusted peephole. Dirty life. She doesn’t hear the commotion outside, who knows what that could be. She hears her pleas to get up, get out, go back. Just open the door. Just walk. Just go. No consequences, nothing said.
She imagines her hand on the doorknob, turning it slowly. Imagines the foggy city air as she steps outside and peers around. Imagines the dirty people sitting on dirty steps, talking about dirty things while their dirty children play. She imagines walking, step after step. Just one at a time. Back to where she came from. Before.... this.
He moves her, and that is her only movement. Her face pressed into the pillow, she coughs into the moldiness. It smells like dying. She turns her head to the side, her eyes watering. She stays still, now facing a yellowish wall. Flat, ugly, unimportant. Unseen but not overlooked. She is still.
Done. Irreparable. Yelling, slapping. Stinging pain. The door slams shut. Alone. She opens her eyes and curls her naked body into itself. She cries silently. Through her tears she sees two crumpled twenties sitting on the dirty night stand. Dirty money. Dirty deed. Dirty new beginning.

***Notes From Self***
Back when I was applying for scholarships and stuff one sponsor wanted me to write a short essay about something, only it couldn't be more than 300 words. Well, a 300 word limit is hard for me. I was like, that's just kind of pausing in the middle of a story! So then I thought, what if you could pause time and then go from person to person and see what they are doing at that moment? That was kind of the theme. Crazy I know.

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