So I was at the gym reading, my nose down in my kindle as my legs moved around and around on some machine as an afterthought. I’m reading “City of Women” by David R. Gillham and it’s so good and engrossing. I find myself forcing my eyes to stay open at night so I can keep reading, more, so I can find out what happens, is Egon to be trusted? What will happen to Ericha!, though what happens is so tough to comprehend.
It’s a story of wartime Germany. World War II. The Holocaust.
It would be one thing if it’s a tough tale to swallow because it is just that, a terrible story some imaginative creature thought up to take the reader on an emotional ride, but the thing is here, a fictional story was woven around history, so it’s not just a story. It happened. The heart of is awful and real.
I have to take breaks when reading.
At the gym, I looked up.
The person on the elliptical before me must have had CNN on, because CNN was on my little flat screen (you: well done, Columbo!).
With no sound and the closed captioning jumbled, I caught pieces of a story on atheism in the United States. Some young guy was seemingly ranting about Newtown, about how God didn’t come help those kids, and flashes of Jesus and Santa Claus flashed side by side, I guess to compare the two. And I caught other half sentences mixed with “amps” and &’s, something about science and teaching kids lies…
So there I was, legs going around and around, feeling very heavy. Feeling like I don’t want to think about these things. Feeling like I don’t know how to explain these things. Feeling like there is so much about this world of ours that just doesn’t make sense.
…A little while ago the house went quiet. You guys went missing. I called out my favorite, “you guys?” then heard the giggling from the dining room. I entered and saw you two sitting properly in high back chairs.
“APPY APP-TAY!” you cried in unison, your words for “happy birthday.” I realized you were sitting in the exact same spot you’d sat in for your birthday, which explained why seconds later you exclaimed “CAKE!”
I took a seat at the table across from you and told you that it wasn’t your birthday, but that my birthday was coming up.
“Mama?” you questioned, as in how could this be so?
“Yes, even Mama has birthdays.” You seemed to ponder this, trying to picture my party with daddy at a Pump it Up. “What should we do for mama’s birthday?” I asked.
“Yes, we can have cake. Should we go to dinner? Maybe get pizza?”
I mimicked your high-pitch, “YEAH! Okay cool. We can get pizza.”
“Mmmm, yeah, pizza is good.”
“Sure, we can wear hats…”
“And they can be purple…”
“And Dada can come…”
And I sat at the table across from your smiling faces, imagining us going out to get pizza on my birthday, the four of us marching in in a row like four ducks in purple our hats, and I couldn’t think of anything more perfect.