Posted on November 27, 2013 by Patricia Ann McNair11.27.2013 Journal Prompt November 27, 2013: He always carried it with him. Share this:ShareClick to email a link to a friend (Opens in new window)Click to print (Opens in new window)Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)Like this:Like Loading... Related
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There’s something not right. In his head. Something to do with how things work or don’t. If Cliff tries to explain it, he says it is like a knitted pullover snagged on a nail and the wool broken and unraveling in all directions. He’s talking about his thoughts.
There’s a man who sits stiff in a chair someplace that Cliff tells these things to. Every week, the man nods and writes things down in a book and says few words nor ever smiles. Cliff never can remember the doctor’s name and only knows the address from a card that he carries in his shirt pocket. Sometimes he loses the card, though it is always there, in the same place, tucked into the space where pens should go.
It has been this way for years. There’d been an accident way back. A collision of sorts that Cliff knows from reading newspaper clippings his mother kept in an album. Cliff does not see himself in the things the reporters wrote, or the photographs that they took. He does not recall the day or the days after. All his thoughts were shook up then, like coke in a bottle and such a fizz-full explosion in his head. And some things poured out and were lost and never could be found again. And men in clean gowns and latex gloves, wearing facemasks and caps so all that could be seen was their eyes, they stitched him back together and called it a miracle when he could walk. And they gave him tests when he was well enough, but there were no more miracles after that – just short words on page that was a discharge letter.
They got him a job at last, arranging books in a library for he is now good with numbers where he hadn’t been before. There’s a lady there at the library called Anna or Annie and she keeps him right and her words are never shout-words and she holds his hand some days soft as stroking and she kisses his cheek. That’s what Cliff says if you ask. But that’s all in his jumbled head, too.
And on the drive to and from the library, he takes the bus. It is the number 33. He must not take the 42 which goes to a different part of the city. Cliff has the number 33 written on a laminated card so he will always get it right. And they know him on the bus and they tell him good mroning or good afternoon, even the day is not good. And he sits on the bus with an open book in his hand. It’s been the same book for years and the book is not of itself important. Inside the book is a picture of a girl, a yellowing photograph of another time. Sometimes, when Cliff looks at Anna or Annie in the library, and the light is small and he half closes his eyes so she is not quite in focus, then he thinks the picture is of her; but the truth is that the girl in the picture is something else he lost in that years-back collision. And the hand-holding and cheek-kissing that he thinks is Anna or Annie at work, that is a tight-held memory of that lost girl; and if that was known in any place other than his own head, it would be called a wonder, for it is something of a miracle that he has it at all.