Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Revised Joy Formidable

I took my professor's advice and made some changes to the story. Let me know if you like the changes. Also, I changed the font because I was told that the old font was difficult to read. Is the new font better?

Joy Formidable

The walk through the park held all the signs of spring. The birds called to one another. Tiny mammals scurried here and there. The sun shone bright and warm. Insects creeped and crawled amongst the vegetation. Flowers occupied every bit of space and even spilled over onto the cement path. I noted these things but took no delight in them.

I had given up all feelings of joy so that I wouldn’t feel sorrow. Emotions are a package deal that I could no longer stomach. My life dealt in logic, reason, and whatever my senses received. I was numb to everything else.

The last time I felt acute emotion was the night my sister told me that her cancer had returned. Emily’s voice sounded fragile through the phone as she asked me over to her house. We curled up in opposite corners of her stained, scuffed up couch. Emily hugged a pillow as she affirmed all the conclusions I had been trying to avoid in my mind. She was trying to be strong for me and I wanted to be strong for her but the ragged, rusty pain kept impaling my stomach again and again and the fear filled my lungs so I couldn’t breathe. I couldn’t stop the liquid grief from pouring out of me and Emily began to cry, too. We held each other and let our sobs echo through the empty house until my nephew and brother-in-law came home.

After that night, my emotions began to deaden. By the time we gathered around Emily’s coffin, they had ebbed to a slow drip that leaked from my eyes. It was a few days after the funeral when I realized that apathy had taken over completely. I had never made a conscious decision to pursue this numbness but once I realized it had swallowed me up, I snuggled deeper into the cotton cocoon.

My apathy forced me to distance myself from my love ones, especially my nephew. My emotions for him had always been profound. My last moment of pure happiness was felt in Benjamin’s presence. It was the summer before everything went to hell and Benjamin’s first trip to the beach. He had made a game of tag with the lapping water. I hadn’t been able to help myself from laughing every time Benjamin squealed as the water caught his ankles. When he ran to me for protection, I had felt as though my joy was out growing my body and would surely destroy me.

I knew seeing Benjamin again would destroy the numbness. I pretended to be busy every time my mom mentioned how much Benjamin missed me. I accepted that this made me a shitty person.

I had finally run out of excuses so I approached the playground where my mom and Benjamin waited for me. I saw him before he saw me. He looked so much like his mother and, since Emily and I had always favored each other, I was proud that he looked like me. He let out a high pitched giggle as he flew down the slide and I knew I was in trouble. Then he turned my way. His smile broke me. As brilliant as his emotions were, my joy overshadow his. I laughed and wept as we raced toward each other. Then, as I caught him in my arms, he called me “Mama” and my legs gave out.

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