Tuesday, May 2, 2023

 The Potter’s Wheel 

Hannah might as well have been hit in the face with a brick. The feeling jarred her. It hurt. But it knocked some sense into her. About time! Get your ass in gear, Hannah. Rebuild your life.

At the ripe old age of fifty-seven, she finally realized that love sucked. She had adored her husband, Roger, who seemingly, just to spite her, had kicked the bucket a year prior. He had been fishing down by the bay with his buddy, Earl, the two side by side in the hot sun, butts planted on rocks that had been smoothed slick by relentless waves that had lapped the shoreline for. . . for forever. While the water glistened in the bright sunlight, while an unrelenting wind buffed them, while silence between the two lent an odd comfort, Roger up and died. One second he was breathing in the salt air; the next he wasn’t breathing at all. He had fallen backward, his bald head crashing hard into packed sand that took his breath away . . . literally. Earl had been unable to revive Roger, and he had lain like a beached whale for hours until paramedics were notified and could haul him away. 

Hannah had been informed of her husband’s demise on her front porch by a young police officer who had spit out the news with forced certainty – with not an ounce of kindness – all business. Though her heart had cracked in half at that moment, Hannah had simply said, “Thank you.” Of all things to say, for heaven’s sake, Hannah. Absurd though it was, that’s what she had managed to articulate however, before reality set it. The moment the oak door had closed behind her, she had slipped to her knees and sobbed. 

For the better part of the year, Hannah had cried at some point every day, She had cried for Roger, of course, but she also had cried for herself . . .  for the part of her that in the years she had doted on Roger, she had forgotten existed. 

She had been a potter years before, happiest with her hands slick and wet with clay as she formed bowls and vases, seldom mishandling the mass that a few times, with inanimate spite, had rebelled against her touch and spindled into a sodden blob. Even with those mishaps, though, she had carried on, becoming lost in the warmth of her creativity. What happened there? Why did I give up what I loved?

It had taken a year since Roger’s death for Hannah to realize what had been missing. With no children and no pets, she had wandered from room to room in the sprawling two-story clapboard she and Roger had called home. Every corner of the place had their imprint – a painting, a portrait, a vase, a knickknack they had brought home from their trips . . . for they had traveled, not far, not across oceans, but throughout the country, coast to coast, searching for utopia. At least that is what she felt Roger had been looking to find. Eventually, the two always came home though where daily routines formed their lifestyle – he always fishing, hiking, or tinkering in the garage; she reading, gardening, or house cleaning – chasing dust that settled and resettled almost as soon as she wiped it away. And she cooked; he barbequed. They ate, probably more than they should have; they read voraciously, never enough time; they fiddled with their iPhones, and then they slept. They never had owned a television. Thank goodness for that. Now, however, with Roger gone and the routine decimated, Hannah actually considered buying one. Only for the company. She bargained with her conscience for she never had been a fan.

On the anniversary of Roger’s passing, a blunt marker that colored her mood to gray, she wandered into the garage. In the far corner she spied her potter’s wheel, the contraption covered with a tarpaulin and a hefty layer of dirt and dust. When she pulled the tarp away, powdery debris billowed into the air. It settled where it landed, including on Hannah who waved her hands in the air – as if that would do any damned good – and coughed. It was a beginning though, a tiny step toward the rebuilding of a life left empty by the loss of a love.


Author’s note: I write pieces like the one above for practice. Perhaps this will become a longer story or even a novel. Where will Hannah take this moment? What will she make of the rest of her life?









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