WordBowl Word-of-the-Day “calla lily” suggested by J. Vitkus. Writer. Producer. And as of last week, Mom.
The living room resembles a funeral parlor, but she is not dead, merely maimed, stranded in a city without friends or family. She knows no one willing to drop their life to come care for her, or perhaps she does but rebuffs the overtures, too accustomed to handling things on her own.
Floral arrangements — oversized displays from friends, tasteful ones from the company for which she relocated — perched on every available surface. Allergen-prone, she senses a sneeze swelling her nostrils, cheeks, pressing her eyes, but she is on so many opiates — Valium, Flexeril, Oxycodone — it seems not worth the effort, the sneeze, too many body parts involved.
And an affront to the gift-givers.
Family members sent shiny packages brimming with foods to which she is allergic; they await re-gifting to her staff in thanks for their heroic overtime efforts in her recovery-enforced absence.
Earlier, one of her colleagues brought fresh food — a practical, thoughtful thought — along with contracts and marketing plans to review in her daily windows of clarity. Perhaps a bite to eat is in order. After. After the current, comforting episode of Law & Order, crimes neatly resolved within the hour.
Unlike her present circumstances.
She shuffles to the refrigerator, contemplates a drumstick, settles for an asparagus stalk. Delicious, this lack of want, desire. This pillow-y pill-topia. She recognizes the danger lurking, the slippery slope-slide into addiction, how one might want to continue this feeling-less feeling. So pleasant, this suspended animation, free of her cornucopia of usual cravings.
She alone but not lonely. Much.
In the dead zone between waxing of one pill and waning of the next, questions float to the surface, the full-throttle career orientation, the wisdom of relocating to a place devoid of any personal allegiances for a Dream Job. But then the next wave washes over, the tide carries her to the couch, lulls her into some facsimile of rest, television programs bleeding harmlessly into one another.
A friend calls in the throes of another breakup — for real this time — and she slips, she cracks. She cries. Afterwards, sleeps the listless sleep of the induced. Wakes emotion-embarrassed, texts she is fine, fine, fine. No need for action. The outburst, anomaly.
He arrives, having hopped the earliest train. He thrusts a vase forward, a single sinewy flower, a spray of leaves snaking through its narrow neck.
They go out for brunch. He holds her good arm as they cross the street, cracks awful jokes, leans in and cuts her food into bite-pieces without her having to ask. They return to her place, she pills up, they watch a movie both have seen. He hugs a hug to comfort her for the duration, departs.
She recovers, week by week, a new normal emerges. She tosses the dead flowers, the molding foliage. Returns to work.
His hand-blown vase remains, the single stem sprouts new leaves, having somehow taken root without soil, sustained by water and air.
WordBowl Word-of-the-Day “calla lily” handwritten at Nomad (Crowned “Best Hotel Bar” at this year’s Tales of the Cocktail) and The Beagle (Yes, again. When a place has good writing vibes and great people, you go with it).
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