She swings. The bills are piling up the bills are piling up the creditors are calling but she can’t stop swinging. This club. That club. She doesn’t have to pay. She cannot pay. She has no money no money no money none. None. Work? She works. She works. She does. Hear me. She does. Day job. Night job. The money doesn’t go far enough. It stops here. There. There. Here. Never far enough. Never.
She prays. Always. In the pantry on her knees. Door shut. On the treadmill in her sneakers in her sweats one foot in front of the other. In the car at the red light at the stop sign at the green light impatient drivers honk behind her. Loud. Rude. Insistent. Go. Go. Get on with it.
She prays. For forgiveness. For her mother. For her father. For her husband. For the phone calls to stop please stop please please please stop. She prays for money more money enough money enough money money money to pay the medical bills the house note the water bill the light bill this bill that bill all the bills please. She puts them on the altar. Take the bills. Pay the bills. Take them. Please.
She accuses. Herself. She lambastes. Herself. She hates. Herself. Her worrying hand-wringing penny-pinching money-spending brow-beating bad choice-making self.
She attacks. Herself. Why this why that why here why now. Why now? She’s nice. Now. She’s not that girl. Now. She’s someone else. Now. She’s a woman. Now. Isn’t she? A beneficent woman. A faithful woman. An honest woman. Now. She is.
She doubts. Herself. Her choices. Her husband. God. Sometimes God. Sometimes.
She rhymes. When she’s fretting, she cannot stop. I want my bank account to be in the black. If it’s not there soon, then I will have to pack. Are there enough groceries in the sack? No, there aren’t, there aren’t, will I always lack? Sam I Am, Sam I Am, get back, get back! Stop! she cries. Stop, but she cannot, she is on the rack.
She prays. She does. Bulldozes over her omniscient doubts. Please God please God please God. Please. Show me what I’m doing wrong I must be doing something wrong this must be all my fault it must be. It must be. Show me tell me make me understand. So I can fix it. I can fix it? Please. Are you there? You must be there. Show me. Show me. Eradicate my lingering doubts.
She wonders. She ponders. Is this karma? Bad karma coming back like a boomerang like a guest she can’t get rid of like the scarf she gave to Mary who passed it to Tonya who passed it to Lucia who gave it to Elena who gave it back to her? She must have done something to deserve this. Something. Something bad. Really bad. Extremely bad. Horrid.
She gives thanks. Because. Because there are good things. Great things. Grand things. Some things she is thankful for grateful for appreciates like coffee like M&Ms like blue skies like butterflies like health like the sunset like the wind. Like her lover.
It will get better. It must get better. It must.
She swings. As the bills pile up. As the doorbell dings. As the stoplight blinks. As the drivers shout. As the telephone rings. As the fat lady sings. As the drumbeat pings. She swings. This club. That club. She cannot pay. She does not pay. She is in her bed. She is in her head.
Denise Calhoun lives in Albuquerque – where wisteria hangs like Rapunzel’s hair and more than 2,500 nuclear weapons lurk underground. Calhoun, who was a journalist at the Houston Chronicle for fourteen years, is working on a novel and stops occasionally to write a short story when instant gratification is required. Look forward to her fiction in Fourteen Hills and Rose Red Review soon.