Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Snow Forts and Slushballs

Every day she wakes up with a dull, thudding pain behind her eyes. She always did before, but now she feels a slight emptiness accompanying it in tow. This emptiness isn't necessarily a tragic thing for her; it's not even that disheartening. It is an emptiness she can now fill with all the possibilities available to her now; she has the freedom to fill it as she chooses.

"Maybe you should see someone," friends say to her.

"I don't think I need to."

"This isn't healthy," they insist.

"I didn't realize you were a licensed psychologist."

And so this conversations and variations of it go, ad nauseum, day in, day out for the first month or two.

She doesn't want to see a therapist even though she's suffered the worst kind of loss, as most say. She wonders, ultimately, is it really that bad? Have things really lost meaning? Has the world really stopped turning? It does feel like it, and yet it doesn't. A life that ripped her life away was ripped away from her. Torn out and crushed in the form of an out-of-control motor vehicle hitting a patch of black ice.

It was late spring. She cried on that day. She wouldn't stop crying. She clung to his clothes as a halo of blood slowly appeared behind his head lying on the street, shrieking as people tentatively began to gather around her. The only word that she managed to form amongst the screams was a choked "No" on repeat.

She doesn't cry anymore. She looks sad but usually it feels like a show. She wants to smile. She wants to express the slight relief she sometimes finds herself feeling. But it always doubles back onto the question:

What would people say?

She tries to move past it by going out to clubs and parties with friends, just like she used to in high school. She'd never been to a bar before so she decided to go with some friends. At one point when it's about 1 AM, one of her friends makes the mistake of asking her if she left him with anyone before an awkward silence falls over the table. Part of her wants to laugh at the awkwardness but she knows it's probably not a good idea so keeps her mouth pursed and lets herself look sad. The night is pretty much ruined at that point.

Summer ends and fall comes around. She uses the money she was saving and starts taking courses at a local community college, even though she's not sure what she wants to study. This doesn't bother her since she figures she now has time to figure that out.

The holidays come around. She's trapped in somber conversations with her sister and her mother after dinner at one point and when her father says they'll say a prayer for her at Mass the next morning she feigns sickness and goes home where she tries to sleep but can't for hours.

It's the new year. There's fresh-fallen snow on the ground but it's melting since it's above freezing. She stares out the window of her still-cramped apartment as she finishes her breakfast and sees a group of young people, about her age, crowded around an impressively-sized snow fort, built by some neighborhood kids the week before, some of them crawling through the small tunnel, laughing amongst themselves. She watches with muted fascination as one of the boys forms a slushball and throws it at one of the girls in the group and slightly smiles to herself as it quickly becomes an all-out battle, chaos in the form of slushballs flying through the air. The more passive youths of the group begin to back off but are continually battered by the frozen ice thrown by their companions and they try to tell the others to stop with very little result. Those retreating begin running away, pursued by their attackers until she can't see them anymore. She watches as one of the youths emerges from the snow fort, unscathed, and brushes himself off. She half-expects him to look up at her watching him, but he doesn't and leaves, following the others. She sits at her window, staring through the window at the empty street, before a slight pang of sadness hits her and she takes her dishes to the sink to rinse them off.