Monday, February 18, 2008

OCTOBER by RoseMarie Navarra

I pull out of the Barnes and Noble parking lot on to Route 9 North — cars weaving in and out of lanes, people cutting me off, traffic lights every few yards. I’m trying to have a day without complaining — something I heard from the TV in the other room while I was putting on makeup in the bathroom this morning. Somebody had written a book about the incredible benefits derived when one stops complaining. They said to try it for one day and see what happens.

I get to the ramp to the bridge and of course I’m surrounded by people driving for the first time, people who find it impossible to exit one ramp and enter another without numerous sudden stops and starts; people who had someone else take their driving tests, people who apparently need medication, people who couldn’t pass an IQ test (obviously not required for a driving license)… people who make it necessary for me to give them looks of pure hatred while I curse their mothers, their sexual practices, their body parts. Would this be complaining, I wonder?

I begin to hate myself for these thoughts, but I’m fed up…and I guess I failed the stupid day without complaining thing. The heater in my car is broken; I have two bad tires and a splitting headache from the two espressos I had in Barnes & Noble, not to mention Jack, my late husband’s second cousin, who pretended not to see me in the Barnes & Noble CafĂ©. He wouldn’t want to have to express his sympathies for my loss – what would be in it for him? Who would there be to admire his charm and wit and marvel at his intellect? Okay, I have to admit I pretended not to see him too – I didn’t want to have to pretend he isn’t a pompous idiot and that his posing and preening doesn’t curdle my guts. I hate people who make me act like that.

So finally on the ramp that took twelve minutes to get on, I am about to cross the river to the other county – the one I have moved to now that Jerry is gone.… ( I can’t explain why.) It is late afternoon in early October and as I turn and enter the bridge – there they are – the mountains –glorious this fall. I think of our walks along the river, through woods and mountain trails—how we would walk and talk so quietly, not to disturb the day, not to tempt the fates. The beauty of the mountains takes away my breath, while at the same time I can’t bear to look at them. I don’t know why I have to live another October without you. Oh winter come…freeze me over.

BESSIE by Bob Brader

Bessie is the lady that lives with Memmy, my great grandmother. They are about the same age and I have known her since I was born. Memmy and Bessie lived right next door to each other; there is a small walkway between the two houses. Memmy slept on Bessie’s couch downstairs and Bessie slept upstairs. I would go over to their house before school, from kindergarten to fourth grade. I would get to Bessie’s house and knock on the door. As soon as Memmy would answer it, I would run upstairs to sleep with Bessie in her room. It was warm and comforting. I would get to sleep for another two hours until I had to go to school. Bessie was my angel. She would even put cream on my rear end if my father had woken me up with his belt that morning.

One day I was jumping on the couch, a favorite pastime of mine at that age, to the total dismay of Bessie.

“Will you please stop jumping?”



“Where’s my puzzle?”

“It’s next door, your cousin Tracey was playing with it.”

“I want my puzzle.”

“It’s icy out there, I’m not going to get it.”

I stopped jumping.
“Fine, I just have to get my boots on.”

I turned on the TV and started watching “Underdog”. After the show Bessie still had not returned from next door. I looked out the door window and could see Bessie lying on the walkway; my puzzle was thrown all over the place, why was Bessie sleeping? Then I saw her rise and a streak of fear ran through my body, the white frost hair on the back of her head had now turned red, droplets of blood on her face, her arm has blood on it.

What happened to Bessie and why does she scare me? I was petrified that she was coming to get me to hurt me just like my dad does, she doesn’t love me anymore. I locked the door and hid behind the couch, I didn’t want her to find me. She must have had a key in her pocket because she got in the door. I held my breath behind the couch. I didn’t make a sound. Bessie went upstairs, and I ran out of the house as fast as I could. I went over to a friend’s place and waited.

When I came back, Memmy had come home and Bessie had been taken to the doctor. I went upstairs to Bessie’s room and saw the blood on her pillow and all of the fear came back. From that day on, I was scared to be with Bessie, even scared to be around her at times. I have no idea why this scared me so much or why I was so paralyzed by it, but I will always feel the guilt of my inaction.