This morning as I was getting ready for work I hear moaning from beyond my front door. Immediately I think it’s my across the hall neighbor, who frankly kicking the can like she used to. The moaning is low and it’s pained and I only have a moment to panic and think, “dear god, she’s doing to die in front of my door” before I refocus. Of course, I can’t find my phone, which I would have surgically attached to my hand if only the doctors would drop the whole “ethics” thing. I haven’t had a land line in about ten years, and now I realize this is what AT&T was planning all along, when they seemed so eager to be rid of me. Well played, AT&T, well played.
There is a clatter. My neighbor keeps an end table by her door for packages, the newspaper, and little garden gnomes that used to be impaled by sticks in the front flowerbeds until the kids down the street ran them over. Her little decorative sentries have hit the floor because she’s stumbled from her apartment in an effort to get my attention. I search for my phone in the three places I knew it might be, the moaning outside my door getting louder and more pained. The phone isn’t on the couch or in the bathroom or even in the freezer – I found it there once, and I really don’t want to talk about it anymore. It’s hiding behind my laptop as they like to keep each other company, my little phone thoroughly impressed by my laptop’s massive hard drive and fast operating speed. I cannot blame it and I bless the union, but the tryst will have to wait.
Phone in hand I’m already composing what I’ll say to the 911 operator. I’ll be cool and calm. Steely-eyed under pressure, that’s me. They’ll play it on the evening news, it’ll be so steady, a paradigm of grace under pressure. Tomorrow morning’s headlines will read LOCAL WRITER SAVES NEIGHBOR, NATION GRATEFUL.
My hand on the front door, finger poised to pressed send the moaning comes again – and I halt. Is that rhythm? Cadence? Is that a melody?
I listen harder, pushing aside thoughts of my neighbor clutching her chest and turning purple and I really listen.
I brush back the paisley neckerchief covering my tiny front door window and I see my mail carrier, setting the little sentries on top of a package. She’s rifling through her stack of letters and flyers to separate my mail from the rest of the neighborhood’s, large waterproof headphones covering her ears.
She is butchering Mariah Carey’s Vanishing. I think, I honestly don’t know, but that’s what my mind was trying to piece together, trying to make sense of the wounded animal noises. I stifle a giggle and let the makeshift curtain fall over the window. I knit up a few rows of front neck decreases for a vest to release some of the adrenaline and I giggle some more. I’d let my imagination get the best of me.
And it was fun.
Without perception, writers wouldn’t be able to see the mundane as extraordinary and we wouldn’t be able to craft the tales that draw you into our world. When you see antenna on the tops of homes, you might link Luddites clinging to the 20th Century. I see a plot by the Devil to reclaim rural America. You see a pile of broken discarded doll babies missing arms and eyes, and see trash. I see broken discarded souls. You see a plate of spaghetti and think lunch. I think Atropos has been busy today Atē will be thrilled.
This is why I write. I want you to have as much fun as I do.