Published on April 6th, 2020 | by TLV News0
Oxford Comma’s COVID-19 Writing Challenge Week 2: Submission by Karen K. Johnson
Week 2: The feeling when a person lets you down
Memoir submission by Karen K. Johnson
There. The piercing words I did not expect, did not want to hear. He said them. He actually said them. Stunned, I watched the words fall from his lips like bruising stones. My first thought was “How could he do this to me?” I didn’t plan this relationship with him . . . didn’t want it, the dependency, the hope, the promises. I should have known better, I scolded myself. I should have taken my chances and sheltered my hope, kept it close, not shared it with anyone, including him.
As I think about it now—the crooked pathway the relationship took- in my heart, I don’t know if he really is to blame. Perhaps, after everything is said and done, I’m the one who is to blame. Or is blame even to be assigned?
At the beginning of the relationship, I was like a school girl, giddy with anticipation. He encouraged that feeling with a smile that signaled to me I was special, and he was including me in his strange, perplexing, very private world, a world I didn’t belong to and didn’t fully understand. But the tingling of the unknown, the unexplored, and that two edged question of what would lie around the next corner was too much to resist. Despite obvious warnings, I somehow found myself broaching his world nearly every day. There was always a need, an errand that might take me across his path. I reached a point where I would often camouflage myself when I might see him, and I masked my emotions lest he think I was too invested in the relationship.
In that silvery time between wakefulness and sleep, I allowed myself to think about what might be. The musings were precious things to be unwrapped, examined, and wrapped up again. A little longer. Just a little longer and he would offer me what I most desired. Anyone who has ever yearned for something knows the longings for culmination, the fears of not achieving, the aching loneliness of unfilled wishes, and the jealousy of someone else who might achieve what you could not. All of these tumultuous thoughts I experienced each night as foggy consciousness teetered into dreams.
Now my fears were forefront, indeed they had been realized. I had been foolish to put my hopes in him. Unwanted thoughts slithered through my mind, “How many other women had he made promises to? How many other women would feel the stinging scorpion lash of unfulfilled dreams?” Slowly I pulled down the mask to reveal to him see the crushing effect and disappointment his words had caused. I mourned aloud, “You didn’t receive the shipment of toilet paper?”
Poetry submission by Karen K. Johnson
Happiness flees to shelter,
A shadow behind a rocky colony
Of coral that cuts but does not bloom.
Hurt, canyon deep, replaces trust and
Questions like seaweed undulate in waves
Of unanswered echoes.
About The Oxford Comma
The Oxford Comma is a creative writing group for the Oxford, Lafayette, and University communities that meets bi-weekly to workshop creative writing and offer critique. The Oxford Comma also joins forces with other entities to bring quality programming and community opportunities, such as with Mississippi Writer’s Guild, Yoknapatawpha Arts Council, Quasar, Glitterary Festival, Art-er Limits Fringe Festival, A Literary Bit of Faulkner, Ole Miss Housing and Residence Life Department, Ole Miss English Department, Sarah Isom Center, and The Local Voice.
Visit The Oxford Comma online at their website and Facebook or through email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
About The COVID-19 Writing Challenge
During the COVID-19 crisis, The Oxford Comma has partnered with Yoknapatawpha Arts Council to offer a four-week writing contest with changing weekly prompts. “Favorite selections” will be featured in The Local Voice and possible future anthology of COVID-19 era writings.
Submit to the Week 3 writing prompt challenge here: