Saturday morning I woke up late. I had spent the entire day yesterday working on my journal. That was a lot. And most of that dealt with a difficult time for me. Well, here and now, I would start back into work at the Diner in two days. I really did hope it would get better from here.

Today I would work on the next journal entry, about my amazing weekend with Delores and her family during christmas. Well, I was not sure what christmas even was, and maybe I still don’t know. But… That weekend at Delores’ house, with her family, that was so much better than the nothing I had planned. And Kacey got me going on my own journal. I had been working on that most of this week. I still had my sanity as a result maybe.  Again, that was sort of bittersweet to me. I was writing, recording, reflecting about some very difficult times for me. But, overall, I enjoyed the process of thinking everything through. At least I think I did, maybe some…

About that thing called christmas… I started typing, and soon couldn’t stop. There was just so much to add. And I laughed quietly at one point, because I realized I was staring at my computer thing, deep in thought, just like Kacey spent a lot of time doing, just like that picture on her shirt! Well, she is the one that got me started on this. But as I remembered, well it was only last weekend. I would think of one thing, get it typed in, then I would remember something else. Unlike my bland living space, Delores’ home… She had so much…

I stopped typing to eat a burger because I was hungry. It was early in the afternoon. As I ate, I just thought about that weekend, what all had happened during those 2 days… I decided to make it into two journal entries. There was plenty there, I think. So, that is what I did. After I finished eating, I brought the entry about the first day to a close, then started another entry for christmas morning. And again, I just kept remembering so much, one thing, then another, for both days. For the first time since I could remember, I really enjoyed those two days at Delores’ for the most part. Well, being at Edna’s church again was just hard for all of us. She died just a month ago still. But I typed most of that afternoon, almost non-stop. My hands hurt a lot when I was done. And I even thought of Kasey and her journal, as I went back and did some touch-up on these last two entries, then smiled when I thought I was done. Maybe I needed one of those shirts with my picture on it…

The sun was shining through at a slight angle; I knew it would be dark soon. I had been typing all day again. Maybe I was caught up! That thought made me laugh for some reason, but that hurt. Then I tried to get up, and fell, and my legs hurt, well I felt a lot of stinging. I was pretty sure I needed to avoid sitting like that for hours. I had not been outside at all the last two days, so I pulled my warm coat on, unlocked the door, and sat on the porch. I was tolerably not freezing until the sun dipped below the horizon. Then I had to get up and go inside. While I was out on my porch though, I just reflected on my journal, which really drew me into thinking about the last 6 months or so. I still didn’t know why I was here, or why I couldn’t remember anything before last summer. And, I still felt so empty inside. And I was still scared to death that some salesmoron would find a way to take away what I could never get back. And I still really missed Edna, which reminded me again I was so alone… And life at the Diner was… just… hard for me, but Edna wanted that. Besides, I really didn’t have anything else I could do, or even wanted to do. After I came back inside, I took my coat off and locked the door, and used the restroom. Then I flopped down on the couch and still felt these same thoughts swirling around inside. I realized that I needed to start pushing stuff away again. I would be back at the Diner day after tomorrow. I was soon crying very softly as I worked to get everything back at arm’s length…

As it got darker and darker in my… house, I tried to clear my mind and think about nothing. That seemed to hurt the least inside. Maybe I was just getting my zombie food service worker self ready… For hours, I dozed on and off, never falling asleep. With what had been swirling around in my head all evening, maybe I was afraid to. I finally rolled over on my side, curled up into a ball, and tried to sleep…

“BOOM… bang… bang… WHAM…”

That horrible sound woke me up immediately. I… had no clue what it even was. It sounded very close though. Then I thought I heard… I got quickly up, unlocked my door, and opened it, which let a bunch of freezing air in… But there was a fire blazing brightly… I knew… I needed to call the Sheriff… I ran and found the cell phone thing he had given me, it was still resting comfortably on the charger. I needed it to come on, but I had no clue how to do that… I just started pushing buttons… For minutes nothing worked, so I started holding them down longer, and pushing as many as I could… Finally… Well, it was doing something wierd at first… But… What did the Sheriff say? I pressed 9…1…1… maybe a few times…

“This is the emergency operator, please state your emergency” the lady said calmly.

Well, I wasn’t calm. “There is a huge fire near my house, and I just heard the most terrible, loud sounds…”

“Ma’am, please try to remain calm. Can I have your street address please? the lady replied.

Honestly I had no clue. I never found out from Edna; all our mail went to the Diner. I tried “Ma’am, I don’t know. The Sheriff gave me this cell phone, and told me to call 911 if I needed him. Can you let me talk to him?”

The lady sighed. “Ma’am, what city are you calling from?”

Honestly, I didn’t know that either… “Ma’am, I’m sorry… I work at the Diner, here in town, and my name is Maude. The Sheriff should know who I am…” I was about to cry… I didn’t know what else to say…

“Ma’am, please hold the line a minute, Don’t hang up.” the lady said.

Maybe a minute later “Maude, what is it?” It was the Sheriff.

I was desperate. “Sheriff, I heard loud noises, and now there is a fire near my house… Can you come check it for me?” And I know I was sort of whining after I said that…

The Sheriff answered right away. “Maude, stay inside. I am coming–”

The phone cut out right then… It went completely dark. I put it back on the charger. Then I wandered over to my couch, crying, sat down and worked on calming down. Well, those noises did not sound good. And I knew the road veered slowly to the right past my long driveway, then headed down past my neighbor’s house… Well, it wasn’t long, I heard sirens. Then more sirens… Five minutes later, I heard even more sirens… All I could do was wait… Somehow, I laid on my side again, and started falling asleep.

There was a knock at the door. Maybe a few of them. I got slowly up, and almost fell, but turned the porch light on, unlocked my front door and… It was the Sheriff. He looked very sad, near tears maybe.

“I hate new year’s eve… Two more kids who won’t finish this…” He was quiet for a minute. Then he said “Edna was right about alcohol. It does far more harm than…” He was quiet a little longer. “Thanks for letting us know, Maude. There was just nothing anyone could do about it, though… They were going way too fast…” Maybe he couldn’t talk any more. Then he left. The fire was gone, and it was quiet.

But I think two high school kids died in that wreck. I cried a while. I wouldn’t wish that on anyone… Not even salesmorons… I don’t think… A new year? What a terrible way to start… Well, I cried myself to sleep that night.

And I slept pretty late the next morning. I think my house was, well, the smouldering wreckage, my house smelled burnt, it smelled burnt inside my house. I cried some more. I got up, put my coat on and opened my front door. Aside from being cold, it didn’t smell outside, so I opened the back door too, and let some fresh but freezing air flow through my house. It smelled the worst in Edna’s room, so I opened one of her windows. Well, she was gone… That made me want to cry more. I opened one window in the guestroom, too. Maybe an hour later, I closed all the windows, the doors, and hoped my heater would warm everything back up.

But the sun was high, and it wasn’t absolutely freezing outside. I decided to do what Edna and I had often done on sundays during the summer; we would go for a walk in the back pasture, Edna called it. I made sure I had my keys, locked the front door, then stepped off the porch and headed around back. I could have gone out the back door, I guess, I don’t know. I just started walking, out behind the house. Edna had made it clear there would be no snakes during the winter. They all find a nice hole in the ground together and sleep for months. I didn’t even need to watch for them. I did almost brush up agains a cactus though. I still had to be careful about that.

I stopped in about the middle of that huge field behind the house. I tried to envision what it looked like on Ed and Edna’s farm when things were going so well for them. I tried to imagine the chicken pens on wheels, the ranch hands feeding the chickens, tending to the grass, even scouting for the stray rattler… I was not sure how or where they killed the chickens, but I knew in some room they put the chicken meat into nice, tidy packages. Then I tried to imagine Ed and Edna walking around in the middle of all of that, giving orders, talking about the operation (Edna’s word)… And I couldn’t remember if Edna said anything about how, what they did differently during the winter. So it was blistering hot (but dry heat?), as the sun was high overhead. I also had no idea what sounds chickens make, so I didn’t even try about that. Still, for a while, I just tried to visualize Ed and Edna in the midst of their amazing chicken farm. It looked like fun. Ed and Edna doing what they loved. And it dawned on me that maybe Edna did this every time we walked back here…  I was smiling for a while, and not really sure why. Maybe I was smiling for them…

…for Ed and Edna. They were together. I heard a bunch say they were together now too. I had to stop at that thought. I started to weep softly, because anything else hurt. I had no clue, absolutely could not remember if I ever had a clue about what together was really like. I knew it had absolutely nothing to do with what the salesmorons were after. And I knew I wanted… that… together… As I turned and walked quickly back to the farm house, I realized… I don’t think zombie food service workers were allowed to have that together thing…

I knew I had to work tomorrow, to open the Diner up again after over a week… I didn’t care. I threw myself into my couch bed and just cried. That is how I spent the rest of that day. And I told myself a number of times. I needed to get ready for going back to work. That was why I was crying. That was my lot in life. Fighting constantly for breath it seemed, all the while feeling so hopelessly abandoned.

Well, it was a new year. Maybe it would change.

That thought made me cry more…

I like the title, bittersweet. It was mostly bitter for me I think…


1. Maude: Beginnings is copyright 2017 by Shysage.




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