Making Things Bearable

by Carol Smallwood

While waiting to get my car fixed, I thought about how I’d accused Doctor of not having a soul. I now wondered if what I’d found lacking in him—he’d grown up in Germany in the middle of World War II–was the emptiness in myself.

When I’d told Doctor, “I’m tired of trying to change things because it just makes you alien to your environment,” he just looked at her until I added, “And Cal says there’s friction between you.”

I wasn’t surprised when he folded his arms and replied, “I wasn’t aware of any.”

Through the window I saw cars streaming back and forth beyond a spruce standing with its top leaning from an ice storm–I hoped it’d right itself but if it didn’t or broke, it’d soon be replaced.

On the drive back, I turned off Roberta Flack’s Killing Me Softly with His Song, wondering what I’d do if I left Cal. Uncle Walt had sent me to college emphasizing my need to find a professional husband, and when I married Cal I felt I was repaying him. Doctor said if I stopped coming, “You’d be copping out and I’ll bring up our relationship the next time,” but I wondered if he knew what he was doing–and if loving him was a short cut to finding out.

I woke up thinking how long two weeks seemed until I’d see Doctor, then got angry because I felt like a child made aware of a spot on the floor (the physical in our relationship) that mustn’t be stepped on. Why had he brought it up? A real relationship (marriage) between us was only a slim possibility but I remembered the movie, “They Might Be Lions,” in which George C. Scott pretended he was Sherlock Holmes because it made life bearable.

Excerpt from Lily’s Odyssey (print novel 2010) published with permission by All Things That Matter Press. Its first chapter was a finalist for the Eric Hoffer Award in Best New Writing.

Carol Smallwood received a MLS from Western Michigan University, MA in History from Eastern Michigan University. Bringing the Arts into the Library is a recent anthology. Women on Poetry: Writing, Revising, Publishing and Teaching; Lily’s OdysseyWomen Writing on Family: Tips on Writing, Teaching and Publishing; Compartments: Poems on Nature, Femininity, and Other Realms (Pushcart nominee) are some releases outside librarianship.

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