Bear with me

highlightingSometimes the ordinariness of one’s life is like the opening scene in a horror movie, the peace of the family room before the zombie graveyard erupts beneath the toy strewn carpet or ectoplasm drips down the walls, the school portraits, the framed baby footprints.

Standing in the doorway, peering into the grainy dark of 5:30 AM, hearing but not seeing the dog, I think that this could be the opening shot of an awful discovery. I hear the neighbor’s windchimes and then, at last, the jingle of tags. This is when the dog returns with a severed arm or when the murderer tosses the dog’s empty collar out of the window of his truck. But instead the dog trots into the house. I close the door. It is this, the routine and relative safety of our lives, that begs for the thrill of cinematic disruption. For some people. Not for me.

My husband is reading a history book that he bought online, used. The former owner’s name is written along the outside edge of the pages and he, Mike, has underlined entire passages in red felt tip and then in pencil. Sometimes a whole page is marked.

“I think he will lose stamina,” my husband says with the certainty of hope.

A little further on: “I think there’s a mental issue. Seriously, yeah, look at this.” One name is underlined in pencil, then some other phrases that don’t seem to have any particular significance.

I agree, initially. This could be the beginning of a cryptic clue, I A(gree)… Mike, I agree initially, is nowhere to be found (3). M.I. A.

“Maybe Mike is an older person,” I suggest. This is a hardback history book by an author better known for another book, it’s not a standard text. He could be in a wood paneled family room, in an easy chair with an afghan throw, brow furrowed.

Sometimes a library book will be marked by the spidery hand of a grammar fanatic or a furious ideologue. Their anger and convictions seldom carry them through the text. Move on, someone has told them.

Radio: I wanted to be a bear, but people kept trying to put me off it.

Husband: Did she say she wanted to be a cosmetic therapist?

Me: I thought she said she wanted to be a bear!

Husband: Don’t do it, love. Harder than it looks.

“Hmm,” I say, re. the book, “he could be either.”

“Yeah,” my husband laughs, sticking with his initial impression, “that’s right.” Me with the ambiguity. Mike has been decided, demoted, solved.

Back to normal then. The wind sighs round the house. The dog snorts blissfully on the bed. Mike slings his hatchet over his shoulder and trudges home, whistling.


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