Not knowing how to begin was the problem. It was not the if or the why or the what for. She has tried it many times before. As with all stories, the logic of it all said start at the beginning. The thing was it just never worked. She didn’t know how to begin.
Then there was the punctuation and the quotation marks. Conversations ran through her mind and she knew they were good but the marks and slashes did not look or feel right.
It was then that she realized that she not only wanted it to read right but she also needed for it to look right. That was somehow very important. Looking right had always been important. Whether it was her shoes or the drapes that hung at the window, the look of it all had to ring true.
As she strolled back from the beach the reality of the book occurred to her, it could look anyway it wanted. Like the multi-colored curtains in the living room, if it look right to her that was all that mattered. She would be it’s first and best reader and if she were content with it all then so be it. This one last time she would really listen to her inner voice. The important conversation would be the one she carried on within. If others criticized or damned her with faint praise, she would learn to disregard the voices but answer as though she had taken note. She would dance one more time with the truth. It would be the best dancing she had ever done.
She had been raised in a canyon. The hills were burnt and gray green most of the year. The spring though…the spring of the year made up for it all.
It was that year that she fell in love with love. Thirteen years old was the perfect time. Her new skirt had sequins in the middle of every flower on it. It was full circle, skimmed just above her bobby socks and saddle oxfords. Her cardigan was yellow and the little pearls at her neck has been a gift the Christmas before. She some how knew that the magic skirt would make her wish come true. Someone would like her back. She would wear a huge class ring on her finger and dance at the prom…some day. If she could just wait it would all happen. And what other choice did she have?
Being in love was the most wonderful thing that had ever happened to her. Her heart sang with joy and a glimpse of him through the classroom door made her heart skip a beat. He might be the one.
That spring the flowers bloomed on the hill sides in yellow and pink and white. The skirt sparkled in the sun light as she picked an armful of blooms and the sun was warm and light on her skin. She knew that she would need to hold the memory in her heart because soon summer would bring unbearable heat. Those same hills would embrace the summer keeping it close night and day.
The skirt was replaced by shorts. Windows were flung open, gardens planted, the bicycle carried her where ever she wanted to go.
Her friend had huge cottonwood tree in the front yard. J. had a dad that was gone most of the time. The local bar was his home and his house was his home away from home. Her mom sat a great deal of the time in front of the radio in the corner doing cross word puzzles and listening to the local disc jockey, a boy from close by. The house they lived in lilted to the back and the kitchen was nothing more than a sink, a table and a small refrigerator. There was not money for furniture so boxes served as dressers. They could feel the ground when they walked on the floor.
She loved to ride her bike there. When she was invited to stay all night, they slept on the porch. The sound of the rustling tree singing in the breeze lulled them to sleep. And they had a wonderful piano that had been converted to a honky-tonk somehow. When the older sister played Blue Berry Hill the whole house swayed to the music. The little house was like pretend living. Not really there at all.
J.’s mother did not see the harm in things like her mother did. That summer she let the daughters go to country dances in cars with boys. They came home a little tipsy sometimes but the mother was not there to check so who knew. At thirteen she knew that her mom would not tolerate her tagging along but still, she kind of wanted to go.
But, what her mother did not know was that she had learned to say no when she needed to. She would not come home tipsy. She had learned the hard way. She had learned, even in her protected world, that no meant she would survive. It had become the most important word in her language. No!
No! came softly from her lips and her husband looked up from the paper…he had become accustomed to her talking to herself. This time, though, it sounded different. Afraid somehow and he worried. The trip was more difficult this year. She found it hard to walk and when she returned from the beach there were tears in her eyes. How are you? he asked. Oh, it’s only the sun, she answered. I don’t like it when it goes down. As though by saying it she could somehow alter the order of things. She knew every sunset drew them a little closer to…. He held her tight, just like he had done so many years before and she knew that she still loved him…even when it was not spring.