by Dr. Margaret Aranda
I remember that it was December of 2015, because I can still see the piece of paper with the date on it. My photographic memory still does work at times, she smiled. Even after two traumatic brain injuries (TBIs). Hey, people could steal from me, they could do things behind my back, they could lie to me and about me, but there is one thing that they can not do: they can not take "me" out of myself. I am a child of God, and His Shield protects me, as well as His angels, even His legions of angels, if necessary.
Oh, another day in bed with exercises rolling around in my head, leading me away from all the dread....and then I checked my email. Well what do you know? An email from Monkey Star Press? Wow, that sounds familiar, although I can't really place it. So I open it with just a tinge of curiosity...and find that a short story I wrote about Moms at the Holidays was actually accepted!
Slowly and deliberately, so as not to mix up the 5 pages of signed contract, I scan and email each page back to the publisher, fully intact. I can't be interrupted or else I'll lose count. I can't be side-tracked, or I'll 'derail.' I have to focus on such a simple task, to complete it, and to complete it right the first time, so I don't have to go back and remember where and how I did it, re-acclimating myself to the whole project all over again. No, just Shhh! Let me do this! Ah! Ah~ Wait! I''m almost done and I don't want to get mixed up! Uhmm. .. Uhmm.... OK! It is done. Now we can talk.
What was my story about? The setting that was given to all the writers was the Holidays. The person of interest was the Mom. That's it. So, I took myself back to a place and time when I went through six extra years of post-doctoral training to become both an anesthesiologist and a critical care intensivist.
And since I never really had a family waiting for me at home, I made one up. But everything else in the middle, everything else I spoke of in the entire body of the story....it was all true. I reminisced like a child who knows the smell of chocolate chip cookies in the oven, or like a dog who hears the food being poured out and already begins to salivate from across the room. Pavlovian, yes. Automatic. It pervaded my being. My goal was to trick myself into thinking that I could have had it all.
Image 1. Thinking I Could Have it All.
I still yearn for the same dream. It never left.
So I painted the best picture of the most memorable times, and I filled in the blanks, the missing parts, with my imagination of what I would have liked to come home to. The effervescence of a house that was 'just messy enough,' 'just filled with the right amount of laughter,' and in the background was the dog chasing the cat, and someone with a lost shoe, and romantic, symphonic hard rock speaking in whisps of whispers...and my husband who I adored like no other.
He would take me in his arms and without so much as one single word, he would make the rest of the work-day disappear, just like a magician pulling a bunny out of a hat. He seemed to live to make me smile and laugh, to be distracted away from the regular and mundane things of this world, and onward to the higher spiritual calling that we both shared. And together, we would get lost in this world, and our children would see us laughing and playing, fully clothed, on our bed. And they would think to themselves, "They're at it again. Let's leave them alone for a time." And they would giggle!
And as the children walked away, they had no idea that we were imprinting their future families inside their own brains, their future spouses and their future children, and yes.....even their future pets.
And I would smile and beam and laugh with glee, for there was surely nothing better than being a mother and a wife, for the entirety of my life.
I was grateful for this day, for today, I had everything.
Dr Aranda's Short Stories