We sit opposite one another, each wrapped up in our own silence – yours hot, mine cold – juggling problems that refuse to be solved without the aid of phone calls, lawyers and threats. You are angry and your breath is red.
I’m angry too, but the weather has twisted my emotions so that my words are like water, hard to understand. Inside, bad things grow: a tree without roots, a plant with black leaves, strange-shaped flowers.
I listen to my body and it tells me it hurts, but with everything that is happening, I haven’t the will to care or the energy to do anything about it if I did.
Time extends. Days repeat. Hours drag. Mornings are difficult.
I get up. I go out. I walk until my feet ache and my legs collapse. If I’m lucky, I find somewhere to stop, but the closer it gets to Christmas, the harder it gets.
I break and I mend, over and over; and somewhere in amongst it all, I grow strong. Not physically, like Helen of Troy or Boudicca, but mentally like Sylvia Path and Anne Frank. And as my body bends – accommodating each trial, each tribulation, each trauma; each difficulty, burden and disaster; misfortune, misery and curse: climbing mountain and crossing ocean, traversing path and scaling tree – my mind repairs, reinforcing my character.
With this newfound strength, I begin to explore – finding comfort in strange places; only it’s fragile and cannot be relied upon. Monday’s bolt-hole rejects me on Wednesday. Tuesday’s womb is Friday’s cell. There are people everywhere, always, in festive jumpers and hats. Men parade as reindeer, women as elves. I can’t move for Santa’s and snowmen. They eat and drink, talk and shout.
Meanwhile, in the background there is a list: a house that needs repairing, a mortgage that needs paying, tenants to be sought and secured. And that’s on top of a contract that needs reversing, money reimbursing and a new apartment found. Plus, the few items of furniture we bought last weekend – in excitement, in hope, in anticipation… need returning to whence they came, if indeed they can go back; and our suitcases – half-full, half-empty; half-broken (one) – need to be repacked. After that: clients, courses, workshops, groups, jobs, opportunities, friends, etc. It’s a lot, so I try not to think about it.
by Rebecca L. Atherton
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