Saturday, October 19, 2013

Saturday Musings, 19 October 2013

Good morning,

I don't dare venture onto the porch in the sharp cold winter morning.  I huddle in the dining room, tablet perched on the five dollar wooden folding table which, with its mate, I scored at an estate sale years ago.  The furnace whirrs; the dog pants, lying on her bed; and periodically my son tells me something clever that he sees on The Onion.  Morning, late fall, Brookside.

My brain clenches and my son's voice melds into that of his long-ago uncle.  I've played this scene before; Stephen hugging a coffee cup, me slouching around in velour pajamas; my mother long gone for work, my father in the basement.  "You don't look much better..."  Steve mumbles as I smirk.  Expletive deleted.  My poison of choice doesn't give me hangovers like his does.  1977, both of us stuck in the family home at the same time, me back from Boston licking my wounds; him between high school and college, before his wild ride into his last two decades.

I take my coffee cup out onto that porch, the porch in Jennings, wide and brick, fronting a street that I know so well.  Tall oaks provide a canopy for the yard.  Wind whistles through their branches; golden leaves flutter to the ground.  I sit on a slightly damp metal chair and settle my feet onto the porch's low wall.  I take another sip of coffee, acrid and strong.  I try to bring myself to full consciousness but the coffee hasn't hit my veins yet.

The door opens and my brother comes out.  He settles into the chair beside mine and sets his coffee cup on the brick pillar.  "Welcome to winter," he says, and we share a short, rueful laugh.  We sit in a silence broken only by the sound of rain  and the occasional rush of a passing car.  We sip our cooling coffee and set the cups onto the brick in unison, glancing towards each other.  No doubt, we are Corleys.  He lights a cigarette.

"So, Boston didn't do it for you," he remarks.  If anybody else had raised this subject, I would have tensed. My little brother accepts my imperfections because they mirror his own.  I tell him no, it didn't do it for me.  "You were going to grad school," he adds.  I shrug.  I was.  I got accepted.  I panicked.  But he knows that, so I remain silent.

"Now what," he asks.  I turn and meet his eyes.  I don't know what happens next, I tell him.  St. Louis U had put my entrance on hold and would take me in January, might even refrain from snickering in the direction of Boston College, which I had planned to attend.  He nods.  Grad School.

"I thought you wanted to be a writer?"  Now he's treading close to rocky waters and neither of us know where the iceberg lies.  He finishes his cigarette and lights another.  I toss my coffee dregs over the south wall onto the neighbor's driveway and don't speak.  The weight of a half-dozen years of stupid choices settles on my shoulders:  The AP classes down the drain because I did not complete the paperwork; the college years swirling round in gallons of Scotch; the seven months in Boston lost in a haze of partying with folks who sobered up faster than I did and excelled at their day jobs.

"Yeah," I tell him. "I wanted to be a writer."  The rain quickens; the sky darkens; and my brother and I sit on the porch with the smoke from his Marlboro rising around our heads.

"It seems to me," he says.  "It seems to me that if you want to be a writer, you should just write."  He finishes his cigarette and stands.  He juggles both our cups by their handles and looks down at me.  His strong jaw juts out from under his pale blue gaze.  "Just write," he  repeats, and goes into the house.

Last night, I got notice that I lost I trial.  I didn't expect to win; the facts turned against my client.  But the decision had been delayed so long that a flicker of hope rose from the ashes of the three-day trial.  Earlier that day, I had learned that I have to try a case on Monday that all the lawyers involved thought would be continued.  We kicked into high gear, and I expect that I will be ready.  My bones ache; I've had a long week, my second funeral this month and the periodic bleating of my heart monitor all soured my faith in the angels.  But here I am, nonetheless, just writing.  And I think the sun has come out.

Mugwumpishly tendered,

Corinne Corley

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The Missouri Mugwump™

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I've been many things in my life: A child, a daughter, a friend; a wife, a mother, a lawyer and a pet-owner. I've given my best to many things and my worst to a few. I live in Brookside, in an airplane bungalow. I'm an eternal optimist and a sometime-poet. If I ever got a poem published in The New Yorker, I would die a happy woman. I'm a proud supporter of the Arts in Kansas City. I vote Democrat, fly the American flag, cry at Hallmark commercials, and recycle.