Unless otherwise attributed, all content, text or image, on this site is © TaunaLen 2005-2011.
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Monday, October 5, 2009


They sit in a circle, in the middle of my living room, a motley crew of people, all smiling at me with strained looks on their faces. It isn’t my birthday, and nobody yells “Surprise,” so I’m not really sure what to make of it. I stand there in the doorway for a second, while nobody speaks. They just stare at each other, waiting for someone to say something.

There is an empty spot on the loveseat, so I make my way to it, silence as thick as mud around me. My footsteps shuffle on the parquet floor, and as I sit, the cushion makes that strange whooshing sound that only happens when there is no other noise in the room to drown it out.

I turn toward my husband, and arch an eyebrow at him; but it is my youngest daughter sitting on my left side, who speaks up. “So, you’re probably wondering why we’re all here, Mom.” She laughs, a little too loudly and busses me on the cheek. “It’s just that we love you, Mom… and we’re worried about you… all of us.” I glance around the room, at the faces staring back at me, wondering what in the world she is talking about.

My mother sits in a straight-backed dining chair, near the fireplace. She isn’t frowning, but she isn’t smiling. She has that look like she has an opinion, but it isn’t her place to speak up… yet. I recognize it from times past, when one of us kids would argue with our spouse in her kitchen, or at the dinner table. I know she’s thinking something, but she’s holding her peace.

My dad is here, looking uncomfortable, and probably wishing he were at home, in his recliner. Across the room from them sit my two girlfriends… the longest standing, still active members of my writer’s group, and next to them is my high-school English teacher, Mrs. Lea. What? I thought she died years ago, but here she is, sitting in my living room. She just smiles at me, and says nothing.

My older daughter and son are looking expectantly at the younger one, waiting for her to finish, so, I turn back to her, and nod. “Um… yeah, I have no idea what you’re talking about. Can you enlighten me, please?” She opens her mouth to respond then abruptly closes it, tears springing to her eyes. With a pleading look, she begs her father to come to her rescue. He does, taking my hand and starting to speak.

“I’ve been concerned since you ordered your sixth dictionary or thesaurus or whatever in the past year and had it delivered by UPS. I mean… how many reference books do you need? Your choices are starting to wreak havoc in our bank account and honestly, between the letter magnets on the fridge, the white boards covered in multi-colored post-it notes and the magnetic poetry word stones… I’m seeing a pattern emerge, and I think you’re addicted, Honey.”

My youngest daughter chimes in, picking up the thread again. “I used to love playing Scrabble and doing crosswords with you, but now it’s just…. impossible.” It’s the quietest I ever remember her voice being.

My mouth falls open, I am speechless, and in shock. Looking around at the circle of faces, I can see that nobody is surprised; in fact, everyone looks as though my family is accusing me of stashing methamphetamines in my underwear drawer---and they believe it.

Beside my husband, my oldest daughter takes her turn. “You’ve been posting a word of the day on Facebook for more than six months. Six months, Mom! Day in and day out… doesn’t that sound like a problem to you? Every time I login, I have to see that, and worry about you.”

Across the room, Mrs. Lea clears her throat and speaks up in her quiet voice. “I feel responsible, in part. Though you know, my dear, you should really face this like an adult and take responsibility for yourself. I realize I encouraged you back in high school. You showed such promise, and I was sure your curiosity was healthy---indicated that you had a future. I just didn’t ever expect it to go this far.” She purses her lips and nods to herself while I sit here feeling like I’ve lost my mind.

My quiet, soft-spoken son speaks next, and his eyes glittered with tears. “I found a stack of notebooks in your closet, Mom, all of them full of pages and pages of words… so many words… I just can’t believe it.” His voice cracks and he looks away, overcome with emotion.

Next, it’s Mama’s turn. Her commanding voice carries across the room and I feel it deep down in the pit of my stomach, like when she used to call me in from the playroom, using first, middle and last name. I knew she was serious then. Now she coughs and begins with “Well.” I turn my eyes toward her, a look of incredulity on my face. “Perhaps I should have made you play outside more… not given you books so soon,” she says. “I was just so thrilled when you began reading at such an early age; but didn’t I always teach you to respect words, TaunaLen? Didn’t I model balance and moderation?” She shakes her head sadly and sighs, while a little part of me wilts inside.

I glance across the room at my girlfriends Lynn and Lisa, hoping that they, if no others, will help me out. After all, they’ve been meeting with me every Monday night for nearly two years… writing, discussing words, stories, the aspirations and dreams of writers. If anyone gets it, they do. Lynn keeps her head down, her mouth closed. Lisa looks at me, sheepishly. “I know; but I’m getting help, too… we both are. She looks to Lynn, then back to me. “…and this is about you… this is your intervention; but we’ll be there with you, to get you through. We’ll do this together.”
Finally, my eyes fall on my father’s face, searching for something, anything to get me out of this nightmare. He has the same, uncomfortable expression, and I just can’t bring myself to draw him into the insanity. Instead, I sit staring at all of them like they’ve been replaced by alien life forms. The clock on the mantle ticks in the silence, and after what seems like an eternity, I look up at it. The face reads, 11:11 a.m. I giggle and repeat to myself a phrase my kids used to say on just such occasions. “It’s eleven-eleven, make a wish.”

I squeeze my eyes closed, breathe deeply, and whisper. “Please, get me out of this rabbit hole, and back to reality.” Counting to ten, I open my eyes, and I’m alone in my library, sitting in front of a blank page on the computer screen. Sunlight streams through the window, and steam rises from my cup of tea. The reality of a thousand words, waiting to spill out on the page has never looked so good.


prompted writing from www.writingfix.com. A cup of Words Writer's Group, 10/5/09

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