12.10.2013 Journal Prompt

0x30syxscsdvxyc3December 10, 2013: An ordinary life.

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One thought on “12.10.2013 Journal Prompt

  1. Lindsay

    ‘I didn’t sign up for this,’ she’d tell you if you asked. ‘When did I sign up for this? Where does it say that I wanted ordinary?’ She wouldn’t raise her voice or stamp her feet, but there’d be tears hidden in her words and a hurt that ran deep.

    Her name is June and his name is Ken. Ten years married they are and everything in their lives is ordinary. He has a job at the power station, watching dials and keeping records and pressing buttons at precise moments. It’s an important enough job and he brings home an ordinary wage. They have a two up, two down clapperboard house up on Washington Parkway. And the lawn out front is green and neat and kept cut short, and there’s a clean car parked in the drive and it is almost three years old. And that’s the same as Bob next door and the same as Will across the street. In fact, it’s not so different from any other house on Washington Parkway – all just ordinary.

    June remembers the day they took their vows. They had to sign the book like everyone else, but they did not wed in a church. They made their promises to each other in the municipal park. They got special permission to walk on the grass. Birds were singing in the trees and children playing down by the boat pond and a dog barking in joy somewhere near. That was different, she thought, and that was what she’d signed up for.

    Two kids they’ve got now, and there’s a boy and a girl and that’s just perfectly ordinary. And they spend Christmas with her folks and summer with his. And they holiday at the coast for the same two weeks every year; there’s a cottage there it’s all booked, and they know the town as though they live there, and they wave to the postman and to the pool guy and the pizza delivery girl.

    But June didn’t sign up for this and she’d tell you straight out if you asked her.

    ‘Sure, I put my name to bank loans and a mortgage on the house and such. But it’s all a grand trick, a conspiracy to make life dull. A trick worked by the state is what it is and all they want is for everyone to be nice and quiet and to do what’s ordinary.’

    June talks about how she’s feeling with Ken. He says he doesn’t understand. He runs his fingers through his thinning hair and he sucks in air and lets it out again in a slow blown-to-whistle sigh. He’s given her everything an ordinary woman could want. It’s what he has worked for all these years, what he works for still. And all he wants is to come home at the end of the day and just to be. And he says life is peachy, no matter the weather, and he swigs on his beer and he thinks about cutting the front lawn or cleaning the car.

    June thought he was different, once she did. She thought they could be different together, her and Ken, and they laughed at the start of their journey. She said she loved him back then and he said he loved her, and so she was ambushed and, without her realizing it, her life took the road to ordinary.

    There’s an old yearbook from school that she’s kept and there’s a picture of Ken in the pages and she looks at it sometimes; he looks different in the picture – different from all the others in the book and different from how he is now. And she sees herself there, too, caught in colours that look old, and she almost doesn’t recognize herself. And on the inside blank covers there are scribbled messages from friends she has lost or forgotten, and from teachers and the school principal. Mr Caldwell wishes her well in her future and he says for her to be ‘extraordinary’ and to do good things. June feels the weight of disappointment whenever she reads that, and she feels she has let Mr Caldwell down and herself down, and she cries real tears, hot and stinging.

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