I’ve done a lot of random things on this blog over the years. Here’s to another!
I have decided to channel wasted time into productivity. One-hour chapters that will make up a complete story by the end.
Brain exercise for a writer.
I sit and type for one hour. No pre-conceived paths or scripts. I use one hour and let my mind take me on a journey. No idea where it will end. No idea what will become of the characters. I don’t even know some of their names yet.
I simply continue the story where it left off each time, at a random one hour’s pace.
Wherever my thoughts lead me in that hour is where we shall go.
The destination is a surprise even to me. It’s like rebel fiction with a cause.
She gasped for air like it was elusive western gold.
It’s amazing how crying seemed as easy as smiling any more, she thought.
When she was around others, her soul danced and she was full of light and joy. A carefree woman who seemed to have the answer to everyone else’s struggles.
So they thought.
Yet, there she was, in a dark room alone, thinking about all the things she has made a mess of and all the things that have made a mess of her.
She does that often; she refers to it as her abyss. It’s the place she finds between the blank spaces and the storeroom of her brain where all the thoughts that overwhelm her soul are kept.
“Hanna? You in there?” a voice made its way down the hall and toward the extra bedroom Hanna made into an office.
“Hey, where are you? Are you OK?”
Hanna turned her back to the door, slid down the back of the couch and pretended to be asleep.
Now just wasn’t the time. Actually, in Hanna’s utopia, it never would be time to talk about her brokenness.
No matter what anyone says, brokenness is better when it is contained, because it is contagious. She lived her whole life keeping that compartmentalized and she had no plans to change.
“Seriously,” Natalie said. “How can I lose you in a two-bedroom apartment?”
Natalie was her friend from college. Eighteen years ago, they became instant friends on the third day of freshmen year. Hanna was the only other girl in English Lit who wasn’t wearing a sorority sweatshirt, so Nat joked they were soul sisters. They may be heading toward 40 at 400 mph, but nothing has slowed their friendship.
“We don’t need a candlelight ceremony and a string of pearls to be able to call each other sister,” she told Hanna back then. “All we need is mutual love for Def Leppard and a pact to have Cheetos at every study group.”
They became quick friends, mostly because they accepted each other, no questions asked. Hanna didn’t lecture Natalie for the fact that she couldn’t be alone. Natalie didn’t hound Hanna for being stubbornly independent.
Sometimes, Hanna almost talked about it. She was thinking about letting it all out tonight, but she pulled back again when she heard Natalie calling for her.
Nat only was in town for a couple of days, and Hanna couldn’t turn the visit into a means for her to dump out all her problems, even though she felt her vault cracking open slightly. They had many plans for the weekend, and it was going to be centered around happy things. Brunch was the launching pad — and just like every time they got together, they were going to gorge themselves on the fluffy champagne waffles at Della’s Diner.
Talking about life’s drama and disappointments only ruined the champagne waffle mojo. You must be in a happy place to savor Della’s grub.
Even savoring the thought of brunch taught her to breathe again. She went from gasping for air to exhaling the pain as the tear tracks trailed down her cheeks like little roads to her heart.
Champagne waffles. Waffles. Waffles. Della’s waffles.
Her lungs began to fill again, and a calmness came over her.
“I think I just invented food yoga,” she whispered to herself.
At that moment, the floor creaked and Natalie reappeared out of nowhere, it seemed.
“Did you just say food yoga?” Nat said as she swung her leg over the side of the couch, dangling her foot. “I mean, I don’t know what that is, but it definitely sounds like something we should incorporate as a warm-up before Della’s.”
Hanna let a little smile creep across her face for the first time in hours.
So many plans. So many waffles. So many ways to avoid her problems.
“Set your alarm, Nat,” Hanna said. “You know Della’s will have a line around the corner if we aren’t there by 9.”
Natalie’s foot abruptly stopped dangling.
“Just a reminder, tomorrow is Saturday,” Natalie said. “You know, the day of the week I like to refer to as ‘the day of the week when I don’t have to wake up early, or ever again, if I don’t want to.'”
She took off down the hallway.
“Saturday,” she said over her shoulder. “You know, the day that allows all the other days to rest in peace?”
Hanna was familiar. Sometimes she felt like Saturday personified, sheltering everything and everyone under the shadows of her wings. Except life had left its mark and those wings had been clipped a few times too many. There were holes and hard edges where once there were regal, soft feathers.
She set the alarm, pulled up the afghan her aunt knitted her long ago, and she let herself melt into the leather couch.
Then she went back to staring those restless, mossy green eyes into the dark.
Where it is dark enough to forget him, but just enough moonlight peeking through the window to foster hope in the shape of champagne waffles.
Until next time.