12.21.2013 Journal Prompt

Image from In Treatment
Image from In Treatment

December 21, 2013: Sometimes he got like this. 

2 Replies to “12.21.2013 Journal Prompt”

  1. Sometimes he was quiet and into his own thoughts. For days sometimes, not really connecting with the world around him and the world not connecting with him. Not answering my questions, however insistent, and not responding to my kisses in spite of their urgency. It was if he was not really here.

    We got used to it in time. He sat in the one chair, dressed as if he was going somewhere, and the fire was cold in the hearth, and we left him alone. He adopted a pose that said he was deep in thought and not to be disturbed. And the family kept to another room and we counted the time he was away from us.

    He’d come to table if he was hungry, creeping and slow, and he spoke few words. The children looked at him from behind their hands and they did not speak of school or of how they had spent that day or of books they had read or new birds they had seen in the garden.

    Maybe there was a word that he’d lost and he was searching for it in his head; or a song that he’d forgotten and he knew it must be somewhere; or the next line of a story he was writing and it must be the perfect line and so he was thinking.

    We all looked for his coming back to us. There’d be a softening of his features and his steps were almost dancing, and then, and always a surprise, he’d be singing, or a word he’d exclaim, shouting it as though it was a new discovery, like that man in the bath and he cried ‘Eureka’. Or he’d lean over his desk, his pen slipping easy across the page, words spilling in black ink, and the whole of the story finished in one sitting.

    Then there was a celebration, as though he had indeed been on a journey to some far off place and was only now returned. And he wanted to know what was different in the world and all that had happened to each of the children and to me. And when we were alone he was all kisses and touching and saying my name over and over, as though it was something wonderful and strange. And he said how much he had missed me, though he never said where he’d been.

    Once, he called me by another name and he never knew what he’d said. I made no comment on the Natalie he’d called me, pretended I had not heard, though my heart broke a little. And when, later, he was asleep and in our bed, I put on my slippers and crept downstairs to his desk. There lay four full pages, words creeping even into the margins, and a story about a man who lost his keys or his money or even his way. And a girl called Natalie in the story, and I thought I saw myself in the description he made of her, and it said he lost her too, and he went from room to room in a great house calling her name and she was ever beyond his reach, or he sat in a chair dressed as if he might be going somewhere and he was silent.

    The doctors said it was the same with his mother, that her mind wandered, and one day she stopped speaking altogether and after that she did not know her own children or herself when she looked in the mirror; or the words to her favourite songs or the names of people she’d loved. Or anything at all. I was scared then.

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