This is an assignment I had to write for my Creative Writing class. It’s in “stream of consciousness”. For those who don’t know what that means: A literary technique for recording the thoughts and feelings of a character without regard to their logical association or narrative sequence. The writer attempts to reflect all the forces affecting the psychology of a character at a single moment.
I sip my hot tea at the local cafe` below my apartment as I finish reading a memoir of Mark Twain. I look around the shop and notice a young couple holding hands, entranced in each other’s eyes. They slowly move towards each other and kiss softly. I smile to myself as I see Peter slip through my mind.
(He moves slowly towards me. Inch by inch. I feel his cool breath on my lips. They feel like ice.)
Is it snowing out yet? I look out the cafe` window. It’s already December and there’s no snow. Or even ice. Though it is cold.
(Finally his lips touch mine and that’s when I know it. He’d be the one for me.)
(The music starts and I get butterflies all over again. I hold my father’s hand and smile weakly at him. He smiles back, bright.)
(My father had always been the strong one in our family. He was what held us together like glue. His smile would always make everything right.)
(I take my first step and release the deep breath I didn’t notice I was holding in. The doors open in front of us as we start to walk down the red-carpeted aisle. Everyone stands up and looks at me as I walk towards the end. The whole time, my eyes on Peter, smiling bright with my father.)
I subconsciously twirl my wedding ring around my finger and take another sip of tea.
(I’m screaming. My legs wide open as Peter holds my hand. I squeeze it as hard as I can, until finally I hear that cry. That’s when my tears of pain turn into tears of joy. The doctor tells us that we have a beautiful baby boy, Zachary. He hands Zachary to me; he looks so fragile and petite in my arms.)
(We hug goodbye one last time. As we drive away, I turn to look at Zachary. Peter reassures me he’ll be home for Thanksgiving after his midterms.)
I ask the cafe` waitress for another tea and some crumpets.
(The music starts again and once again I get butterflies. But this time they’re not for me. They’re for Zachary, who’s looking dashing in his black tuxedo. Just like Peter did thirty-three years ago.)
(I kiss my father’s cheek as he turns to sit down next to my smiling mother. The Priest starts the ceremony and I stare into Peter’s mesmerizing blue eyes. Once it’s over, we say, “I do”, both of our voices shaking but strong. Then we kiss for the first time, as husband and wife.)
The waitress comes over and gives me my order. I take a sip of the boiling tea and burn my tongue.
(I hiss and Elena, my daughter-in-law, asks what’s wrong. “I burnt my tongue on the tea I’m drinking,” I tell her. Zachary comes in, out-of-breath, shock stricken on his face. “Dad is in the hospital. He got in a car accident on the way home.” I feel dizzy, light-headed. Like my whole world is going to collapse. Zachary holds onto me as we get inside the car. Elena comes with us, Lily, my granddaughter, in her arms.)
(Peter and I rush to the hospital. We finally make it to Elena’s room, Zachary waiting outside. He smiles big as he greets us. I give him a big hug as Peter congratulates him. We go into the room and see Elena holding a little pink pig-in-a-blanket. I get there before Zachary or Peter do and hug Elena with tears in my eyes. I look down at my first grandchild, Lily.)
(We go into the room where Peter is. Elena and Lily wait outside. I let out a yelp as I see my husband like this. Tubes connected all over his body, a mask to help him breathe, machines plugged into him everywhere. I rush to his side and grab a hold of his hand; tears flowing freely down my cheeks.)
I wipe my eyes as I take another sip of tea. I stare out the cafe` window at nothing.
(That night, Peter died in his sleep. The doctor said he felt nothing. It was like going to sleep and just never waking up again.)
(The day of his funeral it rained. Of course. I was holding up a black umbrella to mourn. Even the heavens were mourning Peter’s death, and that I took to the heart. He was a good man, my Peter. Perfect in almost every way. Except for the fact that he’s left me alone now.)
I’m all alone in this world. Sure, I have Zachary, Elena, and Lily who’s five now. But this life I live is nothing without Peter. I finish my tea and pay. I leave the cafe` and head upstairs to my home. My empty home that was once filled with love. Sweet, precious love, just like that young couple downstairs.
2010 (c) Jennifer Gioia