Fiction Reader/Writer – Derek Maine
July 30, 2021
Two Sunday mornings ago I sat on the beach watching the children play in the water. I will write it this way or some other way for the rest of my life. I was made of lighter stuff back then; I was excellent at parties. The news vans arrived after the ambulance, thankfully never catching our name. Two Monday mornings ago the paper lied about the extent of my daughter’s injuries to quell the tourists before an important fourth of July weekend. No one could understand why I was not angry about this.
Why is the truth important? The truth is I am a lover of fiction on that Monday or any other. A fiction on my family, unnamed and unknowable. The truth is much worse and I already have to live it each day, and the moment I thought I’d lost her I have to relive each night and the raining of screams and the faces of onlookers, pretty beachgoers oiled up and bronzed, and the amount of blood filling up the ocean and painting the sand coming from my seven year old daughter is physically unfathomable and who, do you suppose, from Good Morning America will come to my home and change her dressing, photograph the wound each day even while her insides are still outside to monitor for infection and will the Mayor teach her how to walk again?
It cannot be written yet. There is no ending in sight. It is all horror, waiting, and the random cruelty which, one day, comes for us all. The scenes are minor, petty details. I was reading Dhalgren on the beach. “Surgery underway” highlighted in vomit green on the board we stare at for the entire five hours not knowing if her leg can, or will, be reattached to her body. They said it could take two hours, but no one told me how long two hours is. A parade of presents and a son who also needs me. It takes literature a long time to catch up to right now. The first day of second grade just last Thursday when the rains come hard and her entire body and now new wheelchair are soaked, humiliation piles up like the constant clattering of questions from strangers and stares. In my arms up and down stairs, once again.
Two Sunday mornings ago the Hydra of Lerna broke easily through time and tides to taste and take flesh from my daughter on the shores of the Atlantic, disturbing an otherwise peaceful tableau. The truth is I am afraid. The truth is out there but I am most comfortable here, where nothing is real and everything hurts. I cannot end something that is just beginning. We still have something to do, lives to lead, hurt to process, pain to mete, love to give, entryways and exits to navigate, memories to bury, words to find to tell stories to fictionalize a life so real; surreal. Manny, would you mind? I cannot go back and read it. I’m living it all over all the time, I have no idea where the commas and pauses go, my daughter is calling for me.