On What Matters

Entry by: odgemob

12th January 2017
She should have written her nephew on the list of things that brought her joy.
The motorway. 5 o'clock but its already getting dark.
The windscreen wipers squeaking like children.
The rain coughing it down. The heating huffing.
She's got a CD on full blast. She's trying very hard to like it because it was her nephew who gave it to her. That's what made her think of him now. Too late though. Too late for him to make the list of things that bring her joy.
Not that it matters.
She's trying hard to like the music, because he likes it and she likes that he still trusts her with his music taste. Even though she's forty-eight years old and has to have her hair dyed to hide the grey and he's 20 and barely communicates with his own Mum anymore.
She's trying to like it but she doesn't . It's 'Grime' apparently. It makes her feel all clanged up in the head.

The list of things that bring you joy was one of the last things that they'd had to do at the retreat. Written it on pieces of recycled paper and then hidden them around the forest to merge with the healing power of the earth. A bit hippie of course but she didn't mind that kind of thing. She was used to it by now. She'd been on her fair share of retreats. It wasn't even the first one this year. And it probably wouldn't be the last.

This one had been a present from her perfect friend Anna, at whose house she had sobbed embarrassingly on New Years Eve. She had cried not only because she had drunk too much but because life was running away from her, because she hated her job and she was alone and her mother was losing her memory and one of her university friends had died from a heart attack and her hair was going grey all over the place.

'You know what you need?' her friend Anna had said as she mopped her ugly mascara tears like a teenager. (How embarrassing. God.)
'To go away and think about what really matters to you... To get your life in control'

So she had gone. She had gone and now she was driving home. It had been as expected. A circle of other passively desperate faces. Vegan breakfasts and dog eared books on Buddhism. They taught you to breathe. To sit for hours in the middle of the countryside and let your own life wash over you. And you weren't meant to get frustrated. Even if your mind wandered. You were meant to guide it back, like a lost sheep, like a tired child.

All she kept seeing was herself stuck somewhere. Her feet suspended just off the ground. Treading air.

Instead of her nephew on the list of things that brought her joy she'd written that sometimes her work brought her joy. Which was a lie. The most that her work ever brought her was something like relief. At the end of the day rolling in the darkness of her sheets, skimming her hands over her feet. Something that could be mistaken for satisfaction. Or for survival.

She reaches over to the donut in the passenger seat, cushions it into her mouth. It tastes like grease and over priced service stations. Shouldn't have bought it. Never mind. Too late. Just enjoy.

Just enjoy.
Suddenly she wants to cry.

'I can't take this shit no more'
Says the man on the clattering CD.

She switches it off. The silence smells like the fatty bubbles of the doughnuts. She wonders if her nephew only shared the CD with her to keep her feeling relevant. Wonders if he laughed about it with his friends. Not in a cruel way. Just in a 'oh that's my crazy old aunt' way. It's possible. Highly possible.

The windscreen wipers squeak like children: 'Are we nearly there yet?'