I hear the crickets outside, scads of them from the sounds of it. The cats used to care, always wanting out so they could catch them, but now they just sleep right through it, as if they can’t hear them at all. Just two weeks ago there weren’t any crickets at all, at least not that I could hear, but time isn’t standing still, even when it feels like it is, and before long the crickets will fade away too, like everything does, and I’ll still be here, with the cats, listening.
Or maybe it’s frogs I hear. Frogs, crickets, things that make noises in the night when the rest of the world is asleep. I used to think it was peaceful out here, miles from the nearest town, but now I just think it’s dead out here, with nothing alive for miles in any direction, nothing but me and the cats and the crickets and the frogs.
During the day it’s even quieter, not so much as an airplane overhead or the mail truck passing by on the road. There used to be all kinds of traffic on this road, everyone in a hurry to get from one place to another, and it bothered me, all the noise, and I wished for peace.
Now I have it and I don’t like it, not one bit. I’m not sure when the traffic stopped. Maybe it was when the bypass was built, a better smoother road that takes the people away from this area, as if we’ve ceased to exist. Maybe we have. I can’t really tell anymore.
I used to keep in touch with people out there, people out in the world, but that was when the telephone was still working. Somewhere along the line, perhaps a couple of years ago, the phone stopped working. Maybe I stopped paying the bill, I’m not really sure. I picked it up one day, after months of not picking it up at all, and there wasn’t so much as a dial tone on it. Nothing at all. I would have called to find out, but I had no phone.
Inertia took over from there.
I stopped driving after I had the accident, the one that banged me up pretty bad last year. It was so bad for awhile there I didn’t want to keep going on, especially when they had me in the rehab place. But eventually they sent me back home with my crutches, had a taxi drop me off right at my house, and I just stayed here after that. I had nowhere to go, after all, and no one to see.
It wasn’t always like this, just me and the cats. Used to be we had ourselves a regular life, but that was when Alan was still here, before he run off on me. He said he was tired of me just moping around, never trying to get better, but I did try, I know I did.
Just seemed like no matter what I did things wouldn’t get better, and I never could get myself back into a rhythm.
He left on a Tuesday morning in the middle of April. Things were starting to bloom, spring was coming, and usually that helped, usually I could rouse myself into caring just a little bit, but before that could happen Alan said he’d had enough, that no one should have to live like this forever. I didn’t understand what he meant, though I knew I hadn’t been myself for quite awhile.
“You have to get over it,” he’d tell me, and I’d wonder how he could expect that. How could I get over it as if I didn’t even care? Are men that different that they can just move on so quickly?
And then, “I can’t live like this, Magda, I just can’t.” I didn’t even try to stop him. I didn’t say anything. What was there to say? If he really loved me he’d stay, he’d understand, he’d make me better, but I guess he just didn’t love me enough.
I’m not sure anyone has ever loved me enough, not for me anyway. Not even the cats. They only care for me because I feed them, and I feed them because I love them. But they don’t love me back, not like I want them to.
It’s lonely out here, that’s the truth, but what am I to do? I don’t know anyone out there in the world anymore. All that ignoring people and hiding out got me the exact result I thought I wanted, and now no one knows of me at all. Knowing of me is the most basic of knowing, and what I really want is for someone to know me. But no one knows of me anymore, much less knows me.
I was never the most sociable of women anyway, always waiting for others to come to me. But I made myself agreeable. I laughed at their jokes, I listened to their stories, I put on a face that I thought said to them, “please be my friend.” And it worked, for a while, or at least it seemed to.
Until I turned them all away when they came out, all so concerned and sympathetic. I hated the sympathy, I hated the way they looked at me as if they pitied me. And so I hid, and I sent them away, and they went away and forgot all about me. Just like I wanted. And then there was only Alan, and now there’s no Alan either.
There’s nothing but me and the cats, and the frogs and the crickets. I can’t even remember how long ago it was that Alan left, how long I’ve been here alone. I’ve got my garden, but over the winter I finished off all the canned goods. Not sure how long I can go on like this, but I can’t go back out to the world now. I don’t know how anymore. I lost my way.
I sleep a lot now. It’s something to do, and when I sleep I dream of the beach, and the boardwalk where Alan and I used to go in the summer, sometimes in the winter too, when no one else was there and the sky was dark and the wind would put a chill right through us. We didn’t care, we loved it when we were together. I don’t even know if the beach is still there, if the boardwalk is right where we left it, but in my dreams it’s all the same, so I’ll keep that. I wouldn’t like to go there and find out it was gone, or that it had changed. I want it just like it was, and so I’ll keep it in my dreams where it won’t ever change.
That’s why I like the past. It doesn’t change, it just is. There’s nothing scary there, for I’ve already been there. I’d live there all the time, if I could, but sometimes I have to wake up and feed the cats, feed myself, take care of what little life I have left.
It’s not so bad, I tell myself. At least the worst has already happened, and nothing can ever be that bad again.
It helps me sleep, that little bit of knowing that nothing else can ever hurt like that again. If it weren’t for that, I think I might go insane.