It was a strange and disarming truce she, Montana Mattingly, entered into, not really knowing with whom. Her sister was dying and liked to hint that their mother owed them some unspoken debt from a vague and never fully defined childhood memory.

That was her sister’s perspective. Life rules modeled by the family:

  • People are for a “step up” to increase one’s quality of life.
  • There is no God.
  • Most people are stupid.
  • True grace is nonexistent.
  • The world owes her more than a few miracles.

Marriage had disappointed Montana intensely and memories of it left her as though choking on dry chalky saliva. Many of her life moments were spent sucking anything positive from anyone, anywhere.

And yet, Montana held a spark. The spark one finds floating out of reach, flickering only slightly and even then without much animation. She had reached her fiftieth birthday while still physically stunning and interesting to observe — albeit without experiencing motherhood. Her cloud of self-covering was a darkness so perverse that even she shrank from it as though darting out from under a clothesline of sour wet laundry, startled to find herself alive.

She had come home to help. Yet everywhere she turned, the squirming reminder that she did not belong here mirrored the voices inside her. Home. Why did she bother to try when family “Kodak Moments” slid up and down her throat as the drunkard’s bile of last night’s foray? She was as uneasy as melted ice.

Just today, her sister’s illness in remission for the third time, victorious well-intended speeches slammed into her brain. “Fill your cup,” they said. “Enjoy these moments.” “Love your sister, your mother.” “Seize the day.” “Look for the positive.”

Her heart went on beating without expecting to. Stumbling stuttering, remote, and without a steady sound. She longed for a sign from the Universe announcing that all would be well. It will be okay. This is as good as it gets. Stop waiting for something else.

Taste, savor, hesitate, taste again, fall, fail and start again. Breathe, engage lift off, soar, fly, swoon, dive and relax. Yes, that’s right.


January 3, 1995 8:32pm Crystal Lake Florida USA
by fawnrising wordcount 365