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  • Part I: "Slop" ("The Ugly, the Bad, and the very, very Good")

    I met my husband, Keith, in 2002. We married in 2006, but I didn't move in with him until 2007. I lived in upstate NY, 400 miles away. My mother was sick. Then she died. My aunt died too. This was a sad time for me and in addition to my grief over those losses, I had to deal with three houses. Sorting possessions, emptying and selling the houses. It was a big job.

    Meanwhile, Keith and I drove back and forth to visit each other for five years. At each end of the journey, bridges were under construction. The bridge construction seemed symbolic, as we were building, strut by strut, bridges between us.

    I became obsessed with bridges. I took hundreds of pictures of Keith standing on bridges. I had nightmares of bridges under construction that stopped high over cliffs, rocks and water, with missing barricades. I was always hurtling toward the absent segment of bridge, about to fall, or falling, into the depths below. Wires and cables were strewn around. Barrels of big bolts, I-beams and other obstacles. I had to dodge these on my way to the edge. The dreams were terrifying.
  • Keith's bridge, one where Moross crosses I94, was completed first. The real bridge and the figurative one. Keith was ready to receive me before I was ready to move.

    Finally, workers finished the Belgium Bridge, the one near my house, but I felt unready. I was still sorting possessions at my Mom's house. It seemed an endless task. Finally, I decided to abandon it and move in with my husband. It was time. (I have to admit, I still worry about what might have been in that huge pile of boxes I never opened. Was it more junk purloined from other people's recycling bins or something of actual value, either sentimental or financial? I'll never know.)

    I moved in with Keith, but our longed-for cohabitation was not entirely smooth sailing. Each of us had been living alone for years, and at our ages, learning to live again with someone else isn't all sweetness and light, especially if one is a person, like me, with serious issues with men after past abuse.
  • I was afraid of all men, including and now particularly, Keith, since he was there. It was that simple. When he'd get angry, I would wilt. When he was critical, I would shrink. I'd remain mute until I could not stop myself from exploding, and then there'd be shrapnel embedded in flesh, pieces to pick up and apologies to make. I didn't trust him to not turn into a monster. A Jekyll-Hyde-Frankenstein with talons and teeth filed to points. (I was desperately worried he'd become abusive.)
  • He didn't.

    He never did.

    The other day, I asked Keith to stand on a bridge for a photo. It was the first bridge photo in a long time. I realized, I'm no longer having unfinished bridge nightmares. I'm not obsessed with taking pictures of bridges. Keith and I are on the same shore together. Holding hands.

    I'm still afraid of him when he becomes angry. But I know now that that fear is not danger outside myself. It's not Keith. It's me. The terror resides within—within me and my history. Inch-by-inch, row-by-row Keith is helping me to mend and heal, by being human, loving, accepting and forgiving. All along, the monster was me. I was the Jekyll-Hyde-Frankenstein with the filed teeth. I probably still am, but a little less so.

    I've finally come home, and it feels fabulous.
  • Part II: “The Slop Bucket”

    The preceding story is true. Except I may have the dates wrong. In our family, and we are a family, now, I'm the one who forgets dates, not Keith. The story resonates deeply in my heart, because the evidence of our closeness and the success of our marriage is all around us, in spite of our many failings and difficulties.

    And, I'm also excited because the story fits hand and glove into one of my back-burner novels, Uncertain Weather. I intend to save this story into the "slop bucket" that contains my ideas for that novel. I think the image and symbolism of the bridges will help tie that novel together and integrate its disparate bits.

    I am glad to have this string of related puzzle pieces for the novel. Now I hope to follow through and get the slop into the slop bucket and live long enough to put it to use there. To actually finish that novel, as well as the ones I am working on on the front burners. I wonder if I can live to 110? 120? 130? And still be lucid and vital enough to write? Because it might take that long to get all my novels written.

    * * * *
  • I wrote this story while walking Wednesday, 8/26/15 and revised it while walking Thursday, 8/27/15. I wrote it on a Psion palmtop computer that requires another special computer to download it so that I can read and edit it on my regular computer. My life has been so busy lately that I do not have time to download, process and post the many stories that I write.

    My mother-in-law is in rehab, my son is having difficulties, my husband is working 58-hour weeks, and things are piling up. The doctor wants me to stay off my computer at night. I have very little time on the computer that gets online, so I apologize for all the wonderful stories I am missing.

    * * * *

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