Good Narrative Principles

Shrinking August


It’s the last week in July. Finally, after eleven months of listening, coaxing, coaching, cheerleading and counseling, Joelle has earned a solid thirty days to herself. If she feels like swimming, she’ll swim. If she wants to spend the whole day on the hammock plowing through a whodunit, a useless romance or an Oprah book of the month selection that’s OK too. She is hungry for a month that’s free and clear of “should” as in we should do this or that. Naturally, however this injunction doesn’t extend to her kids and now her grandkids. There are traditions to uphold. Silly ones like trolling for blueberries along the shore and then the attendant obligations of making blueberry pies and pancakes and this year we really should put up preserves. There is the kindly widow down the road who is struggling to express her grief in a socially acceptable manner. Little by little, Joelle’s month of being free and clear of obligations erodes to a few stray hours a week to herself. Somehow she always pictures August differently then the reality of how it actually unfolds. She can’t decide if she’s OK with it or if she actually wishes her life were that of a single woman, unattached, alone. Blissfully alone. Four solid weeks of not one word or conversation save for the hello from the sweet guy at the checkout at Price Chopper’s Mondays and Wednesday.

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