I’m hoping that by now everyone understands that I am writing a story whose main character is Ani Black and that I am writing it as Sarah. Ani and Sarah are both me. I wrote in this manner because I was afraid that The Beater would find out and find me. I also did so because of the furor over any author that claimed they were writing truth. It seemed that if you did not get a sentence exactly correct – then it wasn’t truth. James Frey comes to mind here. He created quite a controversy with his writing and it caused an attack on all autobiographies etc. I wanted to avoid that. I carry on here with something I sat down and wrote shortly after we got the news. It sits in a special folder waiting for its place in The Wailings. I hope this helps to tie in my posting the first chapter of The Wailings – my book in progress.
The insistent sound of the operator’s request finally captured her attention.
“Please hang up! Please, hang up now! If you are having difficulty, please hang up, and then dial ‘0’ for operator assistance. Please hang up now and try your call again!”
With unfocused eyes, Sarah replaced the receiver in the cradle and remained sitting on the edge of the bed. The plaintive cry for attention from the silky Persian that wrapped and re-wrapped itself around her legs went unnoticed in the eerie stillness of the room. Sarah tried to think about the conversation she had just heard but her mind refused to focus on it, and instead drifted up against the flotsam of her life as it replayed itself in her brain. A small frown crossed the stillness of her face as the hum from the computer broke into her reverie and finally drew her attention.
Without even glancing at the fluorescent green words that glowed across a black background, she saved her work and shut down the machine, the distinct absence of its humming registering somewhere in her brain as she turned away. She undressed in the soft glow of the bedside lamp, then slipped into the soothing comfort of her bed and stared at the ceiling. The insistent bump of the Persian’s nose brought a small smile to her lips as she raised the covers so the small animal could curl up against her knees. The small glow from her telephone screen replaced the soft white light of her bedside lamp as she turned the switch off. The last caller showing on the screen abruptly brought the conversation back to her.
“It’s your Dad, Sarah. The doctor just called about his last test and he says it’s not good. Your father has five days to get his life in order, and then he has to report for surgery. He has cancer of the esophagus.” There was a long pause. “Are you there Sarah?”
“Of course I am,” she replied, but her eyes had automatically strayed to the computer and the black disks neatly stacked beside it. She had half listened to the sketchy details that followed about the need for a lawyer and wills, of the day he was to report to the hospital, and of the scheduled date of the surgery.
“The doctor wants to talk to all of us before the operation. That includes you Sarah. Will you be there?”
“Of course I will Mom,” she had replied as she continued to stare at the disks.
Now as she lay in the dark, she let herself think about the reality of what lay ahead, and the guilt that had immediately washed over her as she registered the fright and sorrow in her mother’s voice. Was there a link between what she had recorded on those disks and what was now happening to her father? Were the written words soon to become a reality?
Wave after wave of guilt washed over her as she struggled with the absolute absurdity of assuming responsibility for her father’s cancer. She knew deep inside that there was no such possibility and just as she drifted off to sleep, her mind asked a simple question. What has happened in my life that I would automatically assume that anything I have done would be the cause for this illness?
Sarah stood in the hospital room with the rest of the family, trying not to stare at Jerome in the hospital bed. The doctor had just arrived and was telling the family of the seriousness of the operation that Jerome would be going through. He explained slowly that because of the type of cancer that Jerome had, that he would be removing the esophagus and pulling his stomach up to attach it directly to his throat. He said the operation was very risky and that Jerome’s chances of survival and a life afterwards were slim. Her mother and her sister were wiping tears away as her brother unconsciously picked away at his fingernails.
She stood off to the side listening to the doctor and thinking of the anguish this man had put her through during her life. With renewed pain she thought of his refusal to talk to her these last four years, and now he lay with his life in the balance. Her stomach wrenched with the flood of memories that overtook her and then just as suddenly left. A wave of pity washed over her for the man in the bed and she hung her head to hide her surprise.