Stuck out here, in the ass-end of nowhere. A little, shacky hideaway tucked into a hidden lane simmering in a steaming South Carolina swamp. The sun broils everything not shielded by the tangled vegetation. My friends–which ones I couldn’t tell you–have driven off somewhere, abandoning me to a vicious hangover that I can’t explain. I never heard them leave. I can’t tell if the droning insects are inside or outside of my aching head.
The sheets stick to my damp skin. My feet find their way to the splintered, creaking floorboards, and are immediately coated with sand and God knows what else.
Everything hurts. I am slightly surprised to see my dusty reflection in a corroded mirror. I’m wearing someone else’s stupid T-shirt with a goofy, wall-eyed parrot saying “It’s Five O’Clock Somewhere.” The only thing I recognize as being mine in this whole shack is the pair of blue panties I’m still wearing. I’ll take that as a good sign.
I teeter out to the porch and settle my throbbing body into a bony, wobbling Adirondack chair that is surprisingly comfortable. Aaahhhh! A cup of coffee would be sooo nice right now!
A big, reedy, whirring grasshopper lands on my arm. My gaze locks onto his huge, green eyes. The background droning of buggy monotony siphons the air out of my lungs, making me exhale my last shreds of consciousness, pulling my eyelids down for the ride.
My eyes spring open and the sparkling green eyes of my friend, Susanna, are the first thing I see. She is ten feet tall, laughing, and running beside me. I’m riding a very little bicycle and I’m laughing breathlessly, trying to keep up with her, as I pedal furiously, negotiating the rocky, rutted dirt road. Clutched in my right hand is the book I’ve written. I drop it! Oh, no! It bounces and then skips almost merrily down a long, steep, rock-studded hill. I steer my bike sharply to the right to chase after the run-away book. Susanna continues her gazelle-like lope without me, blowing kisses into the growing void between us.
My front wheel hits something hard. I am catapulted from the bike, and just like the book, I roll almost merrily down the hill. Gravity knows exactly where it wants me and choreographs a splendidly executed dance between the hill and me. Percussion plays itself out on every surface of my body. I can almost hear the melody suggested by the syncopation as it is transmuted into starbursts of light. The serendipitous sensations tickle me so that I laugh and laugh. The dance ends and I’m lying face up at the bottom of the hill. The grass feels cool against the back of my neck. I drink in the lemon sun and the melting glacier-blue sky, as if I’m experiencing them for the first time. It tastes so good that I laugh with utter delight. I am so happy and so profoundly relaxed. If I can manage to take one more breath, I must remember to use it up laughing just once more.
A beautiful man with crystalline green eyes kneels beside me. I see his fingertips close my eyes with a gentleness that coaxes the most peaceful sigh from somewhere deep in my soul.
“Jesus, Bubba” says the young EMS tech, climbing into the passenger seat of the ambulance. “I don’t think I can take too many more of these fatal crashes. That girl thrown from the green VW? Still smiling! Jesus! And you’re not going to believe this, but as I was wheeling her into the van while you were talking to the cops, I swear I heard her laugh!”
“Nah! Impossible! You’re just stressed out—This was a rough first week for you—You’ll get used to it. Tell you what, Green Eyes—Let’s get this rig back to the hospital. We’ll sneak out for an early lunch and we’ll have ourselves a few drinks—it’s on me.”
“Jesus, Bubba! It’s not even 10:30 in the morning! It’s a little early to start hitting the sauce—Don’t you think?”
Bubba turns on the radio, and as if on cue, the tequila-soaked voice of Jimmy Buffet sings, “But there’s booze in the blender, and soon it will render, that frozen concoction that helps me hang on.” Bubba lets the irony sink in before he drawls, “Well, It’s five o’clock somewhere.”
Photo Credit: http://www.debscountrygifts.com