Raw, But Not Bleeding

This morning, five miles. Along the way there were several sprinklers (Miss B likes to avoid those, energetically, whenever possible), five dogs (four off-leash, when will they learn, it’s a leash LAW, not a guideline or suggestion, for the safety of the pets unlucky enough to have YOU as a goddamn owner), a multiplicity of squirrels we were going too quickly to chase (though Miss B tried, gamely), several bunnies (pets escaped and gone feral, long story, cute and fluffy until you see the TEETH), the hawk in the park crouched over something bloody before it took wing, carrying the unfortunate rag of bone and meat and breakfast, late-summer heatstressed leaves falling and crunching underfoot.

The season is turning. You can smell it–the mornings are crisper, without the asphalt-and-dust scent of high summer. It’s not harvest season yet, but everything’s preparing, and the nights are turning cooler. The sky is not the endless blue of summer. It is paling, still infinite, but it has the washed-and-dried-outside quality of late summer, after the worst heat but before the rains sweep in. Things are ripening, yawning, enjoying the slow afternoons.

I come home to a Little Prince who has grounded himself from the Wii for two days because his legs hurt–when he plays, he jumps up and down from sheer excitement, and he’s sore this morning. “I better take a break,” he informs me solemnly over his cereal, and I try not to smile as I nod and seriously agree, and compliment him for being so mature and responsible. And the Princess, buried under her covers until late, comes blinking out into the morning light and informs me a scene in the fanfic she’s working on has broken loose; as soon as she has breakfast she’s going to dive into it. Their days are long and timeless in summer. When school starts at the end of the month I’m going to miss them–they’ll miss me too, but they’re excited to go back to their friends.

The house is quiet. Miss B is tranquil–the first three miles are to calm her down, the last two are to wear her out. The sneezing cat doesn’t protest when I dose her with antibiotics, though it must taste nasty. She takes the eyedropper gracefully, and there are pets and praise for everyone afterward.

I open the fridge to get the cream for my morning coffee. Stuck, fluttering, on the fridge are cards someone sent me during the dark difficult time not so long ago. You’ll feel better soon, one says, and the other, Keep going. The world needs your light. For a moment, I am arrested by the thought that little by little, things did get better. I put my head down and just went one step at a time, and now I can look back and see the hole I climbed out of. The edges are raw, but not bleeding. I am on the other side. I never have to endure that particular hell again. (I like to make an entirely new set of fuckups each time, thank you very much.)

It’s a funny thing, to realize you don’t have to stare at your feet anymore. That the weight dragging all over you has lessened, that you can take a deep breath and look forward. That you have endured, and now you can begin to glance ahead. Shyly at first, carefully, in case there is a sudden tilt back toward the hole. Later, more confidently, settling the straps of your pack, your steps becoming long swinging strides instead of a spiritless trudge. There is light now, stray gleams strengthening through breaking clouds, the storm has spent itself. A little older, a little wiser around the eyes, scars to tell stories about instead of wounds to triage.

I begin to roll my eyes and see the funny parts now. I get my coffee, and I go back to work. There’s just one thing left, and that is to say…

…Thank you. Thank you very much.

Over and out.

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