Saturday, July 19, 2008

Sunday Scribbling: Ghosts

Like my last Sunday Scribbling, this is in the voice of a fictional character whose story I am currently writing. This is background info that probably won't even make it into my story, but which I know will help me understand my character.

I don't believe in ghosts, but that doesn't mean I don't feel the presence of my parents--my mother in particular. They died in a car accident when I was 32--bad weather, an inexperienced driver going too fast on the highway.

I had been living in Manhattan at the time, enjoying my life despite a recent bad break up. That's how I ended up moving back to upstate N.Y. I needed to tend to their house, which I assumed I'd sell. But I just couldn't. I felt my parents there in a way I didn't anywhere else. I'd occasionally smell my mom's floral scent on a towel I hadn't yet used and washed. I'd hear the oldie's station echo through my parents' bedroom with the same acoustics as it did every morning when their alarm rang. Sometimes I would have to do a double take because I'd swear I'd seen my dad leaning against the kitchen counter, coffee in one hand, newspaper in the other.

So I got a job as a paralegal at a small firm near Albany. I took an absurd cut in pay, which was fine since I didn't have to pay absurdly high city rents-or any rent for that matter, since my parents had paid off their mortgage.

It was hard to be there without my mom, who was really more like a sister to me in her last years. If she had been there, we would've been going to the farmers markets together, stopping for lunch at the dinner on the way home and planning what we'd make for supper over our greasy grilled cheese sandwiches. Instead I was doing those things alone. Which was fine, just not the same.

Years passed. I made some friends through work, connected with a friend from high school, Lea, who I hadn't seen since we graduated. She and I got very close, but she had a family--a husband and two little girls. So there were still plenty of weekends where I went about my shopping and cooking and relaxing alone.

I was happy, though a bit lonely. And time was a ticking. I wasn't baby-crazy in a serious way, but like any woman who has crested the hill of 35 will tell you, it's pretty impossible to avoid thinking about the topic of fertility and motherhood when you're starting to realize that you might not have a choice as to whether or not you join that particular sorority.

So maybe that's why I was so grateful to find Bob when he came into my life. Maybe that's why I was so willing to overlook some things I didn't like in how he treated me, namely what Lea calls looking at me without seeing me, listening to me without hearing.

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Granny Smith said...

I'm looking forward to reading that novel someday! This is vivid writing. This fictional character seems very real. And this expresses the same idea of ghosts that I feel.

Lucy said...

excellent story... I can't wait to read more!
I also feel the presence of the people I've lost.
this was so enjoyable!

Anonymous said...

Your writing is so graphic, and I feel as if I'm reading a real life experience rather than fition. Excellent

smallworld reads said...

Can't wait to read more!

WriterBug said...

Thanks everyone for your kind, encouraging words!

Crafty Green Poet said...

I enjoyed reading this, I like the way you use little details such as scent to trace the parent's continuing presence

danni said...

a most enjoyable read - the recurrent mention of feeling lonely really resonates with me and makes me feel a bit sad --- i really look forward to reading more of this!!!

Jennifer Hicks said...

this is a very nice insight into your character. keep on writing!

Tammy said...

I like how you write about her life to learn more about her. Good luck and let us know when it's done. :)

Tammie Lee said...

this is the kind of story that draws one in.

Thank you for sharing.

Tanya Gwen Minnick said...

Yes, I cannot wait to read more as well. It reminded me of how I would sleep with my brothers t-shirt after he passed away, as it still smelled of his colonge.
Great read!