Water and Blood

Living on the Prairies can be a challenge, not only for people but also for trees.  

The extreme cold, blistering heat, withering droughts, and overpowering winds can be detrimental to life in general.  Luckily most Conifers can manage to survive even such extremes.  Nancy’s Farmhouse is nestled in a forest populated with Firs, Spruces, Pines and Larches which drop walnut sized cones. On windy days the air is permeated with the fragrant citrusy scent, which distinguishes conifers from other trees.

Nancy relocated to the prairies, in Canada, as a young woman with her husband who has since passed away. She has been living a life of solitude, in a place that had fallen between the cracks.  In a sense, Nancy has also fallen between the cracks.  The nearest neighbors are 65 km away, the closest town 120 km and Nancy never learnt to drive, not even a bicycle. Gary had taken care of everything. There had been no need for Nancy to drive. Over 20  years have passed since her husband died of cardiac arrest.

Nancy gets up out of bed and inserts her fleshy arms in the sleeves of her sad faded pink flannel robe, as she does every morning.  For a woman her age she is sprite and moves with vigor and determination.  Her posture suggests she is on a mission, with her double chin jutting, and her neck bent forward as she walks. 

She heads down the stairs, into the kitchen, where she turns on the radio, already tuned to her favorite Country music station. Listening to country music, with a hot cup of coffee, is Nancy’s morning ritual. She enjoys the hot sun, spilling through the windows, the steam rising from the hot cup she holds between her palms.   

Little Richard called country  music ‘White Man’s Blues’. Nancy has her reasons to feel blue. She also feels as misunderstood as country music is. Willie Nelson is the last man standing from Nancy’s favorite stars of Country musicians. 

Soon her favorite talk show would be on air. The commercial for an early retirement plan always played right before the show was about to start.

“Welcome to today’s show on CML radio where we play country music you love. Our guest today, Doctor of Psychology Wellesley will be answering your questions but first let’s hear from the Doctor.”

Doctor Wellesley, please tell us about stress and how it makes people’s lives more complicated and can lead to illness.”

“Many turn of events can lead to stress, such as losing a spouse or a your job. Much of this stress is self-imposed and is the direct result of confusing your wants with your needs. Many people believe they need things when in reality these things are merely wants. 

“Another major contributor to stress, is that some people tend to be controlling or perfectionists. It’s tempting for some to fill in every waking second, checking off tasks from their to do list.  It isn’t simple to sum up in so many words, since there are various contributing factors, for example disclosure and addressing uncomfortable topics is also very important in avoiding complications in one’s life, that will otherwise lead to stress.”

“Well you heard it from the Doctor, our lines are open so please call us  at 5551212 with your questions and comments for Dr. Wellesley.”

“ We have our first caller, hello what is your name and your question for the doctor?”

“Hello, I’m Michelle, single mother of 3 and I am totally stressed.  I’d like to ask Doctor Wellesley what is wrong with wanting things, why would that complicate my life, I mean sure the kids need new shoes this year, again, but I want a weekend at the spa even though I can’t afford it. So now you tell me Doctor, what exactly is complicating my life, the fact I want it or that I can’t afford it? “

“Hell of a question for the Doctor, Michele .”

“Oh and another thing, wouldn’t a weekend at a spa be what the doctor would order for stress reduction?” 

 “Sounds like you want it and need it as well Michelle, now let’s hear the Doctor.”

“Okay, you have a point Michelle, nothing is ever 100% proof, not even the birth control pill.”

Nancy decides she’s heard enough nonsense about wanting and needing. She’d had to take care of her own wants and needs for as long as she can remember. Even her husband had never cared to understand her needs, let alone her wants. Her young girls dreams of romance and glowing love, had a short lifespan. These were extinguished on the day she walked down the aisle with a man old enough to be her father.

Nancy heads out into her yard, it’s cooler in the mornings, before the sun reaches around to the back yard, the best for watering plants. She grabs the hose and as she waters the Clematis and the Peonies she thinks how in just a little over three months they would all be under a blanket of icy snow again. Come spring they would be back, exploding with life and color. If only people could do the same.

Once she’s done watering the plants, she moves over to a white plastic table, with matching white plastic chairs. She grabs a pail and cleaners nearby, then begins to meticulously scrub the surface of the table. She is very thorough, exaggeratedly so.  The furniture had not been in need of washing. Nancy had given it a good scrub the previous day and she remembers perfectly well.  Her favorite part is pointing the water jet, set for maximum pressure, watching as the soapy foam slides off the surface, leaving a glossy white finish. A thin layer of water reflecting the cumulus clouds that are gathering in the sky, promising relief from the heat.

Life is but a disappointment for Nancy.  She married exceedingly young to her father’s wishes. Her family was poor, and the best they could do was marry her off while she was still very young to a man 22 years older than her.  

Her husband Fred, had been a second father to her, except for her wifely duties.  When he would lay on top of her in the dark, panting and sweating from his brow, she became disconnected from her body. Her husband was not an accomplished lover, not that Nancy would have known what one looked like or cared for one. For Nancy, those 90 seconds lasted an eternity, until her husband rolled off her and promptly fell asleep, as he did every time. She would then make her way to the washroom where she would bathe herself scrupulously, sucking in all the pain while removing any trace of her husband from her body. 

Luckily, her wifely duties had stopped with the onset of premature menopause at barely 32 years of age. Nancy had welcomed the change.  

On her honeymoon night, once her husband had fallen fast asleep, Nancy had almost burnt her skin off, submerged in a tub with running boiling water. It had been an act of violence, not remotely close to any story she had read. No one could have prepared her for what awaited her on her wedding night. The passion which flowed in her husband’s veins was tainted with irritation and antagonism.  Submerged in the hot boiling water she watched the blood that flowed from her loins blend with the water in swirls.  

Published by Maddalena Di Gregorio

“I kept always two books in my pocket, one to read, one to write in” Robert L. Stevenson

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