BY GLORIA HANSEN
Gloria Hansen is a nurse/bluegrass musician/published author from Northern Ontario. Copyright rests with the author.
SINCE I JOINED up with a local writers’ group, my life has changed drastically. I open a pocket book to read, to kill time in a waiting room, and I am reviewing the thing. Like it hasn’t been reviewed by a plethora of editors already? Sometimes I do wonder.
I once craved my solitude. I have only one left to push from the nest, but I see I won’t be alone even then. Since I have dredged up a whole childhood of stories and made them public, the participating characters wait around my home, hoping to be in the next story.
My mom and dad, grandparents both sides, relatives and friends who have gone on before me? They’re back. Sitting in the kitchen, sleeping in my bed, using my bathroom. I can’t move in my house without bumping into one of them, begging me to “do this story, Glor—remember that time…” And that’s just the real people who used to dwell in my memory.
What has me worried are the ones I created. Some of them are not going to receive humanitarian awards. I mean, one gutted her husband on Christmas Eve, another one can’t wait to get out and cheat. One guy drives over an embankment to save a bunch of school kids. He’s not in the best of shape to be meeting me in a dark hallway, nor is the guy that went through the ice.
I got dead dogs, cows and chickens making one hellish racket in the garage, and I don’t even dare to see why the pig is squealing. Our old horse is whinnying in the backyard, and I can just bet it isn’t a pretty sight. Monty died back in the 60s. Be a bit of a stench out there. Now I know what Noah must have gone through with his menagerie. At least his were alive. What exactly do you feed a hungry animal zombie? I hope not living people.
I wasn’t alone this Christmas. The house was bursting with company. I know I said I wouldn’t mind seeing my mom for just one more day, but she has now overstayed her welcome. She watches everything I do, and although she makes no real comments, I know what she is thinking. Her disapproval is tangible.
And my brothers? They’re still snickering about what I drive. I wish they would quit teasing me. I tell Mom, and she just laughs. Tells me to quit making stuff up or someone’s going to sue me.
The church ladies are the worst. They have taken over my bed. Mom’s idea, I am sure. I’ll never have a decent relationship again. The church ladies break out in screams as soon as they so much as smell a man in the house. They call in all the angels I wrote about, and it’s Hail Marys for two weeks around here.
The only solution I can see is to start writing for travel magazines, or business publications. I will not need to use my imagination, just the facts. Perhaps then these demons of my mind will leave for good. I can only hope.
“Mom, mom—wake up. The hospital is on the phone. Aren’t you supposed to be at work?” My son looks worried. Am I covered? Is there someone in the bed with me? Am I drunk? Nope, don’t drink.
“Where’s Grandma? She was in here a minute ago.”
My son now panics and runs out of the room with the phone.
“My mom is very sick. She won’t be in to work today. I have to call an ambulance. You can send one? Okay. Yes, she’s awake, but not really, if you know what I mean. She looks weird. No, weirder than usual. She’s hallucinating right now, says her mom is here, but Grandma’s been dead for a couple of years. Okay, thank you. I’ll watch for them.”
I have to stop this.
“I am quite all right, son. A bloody nightmare doesn’t make me senile.” Does it?
I call the hospital to tell them I will be there within the next half hour, that I slept in for the first time in my working life. Pretty good for a 40-year career.
“Mom. Where are you going? The paramedics will be here soon.” My son tries to block my path to the bathroom.
“Good. Tell them to meet me in the shower. Bet they haven’t had a good laugh today. Hope it’s Al and Jennie—they can give me a ride to work.” I grin at him to ease his mind. He really thought I had tipped over the edge. Frankly, so did I.
“Now, Mother, get out of here. I have to get ready for work. And for goodness sake, put some clean clothes on. I have a story idea for you when I get in tonight…”
Jingle bells, jingle bells, la la la la la!