I am not writing about cheese.
The thought invades my consciousness before I’m even aware of being awake. They’ve chosen it to mess with my head, I’m positive of it. They know how much I hate cheese. I’m not even sure I want to do the challenge at all, and a cheese prompt on the very first day hasn’t done much to inspire me.
I sigh as I get out of bed and greet the day. Black thoughts lie heavy on my mind as I walk through the empty house. M’s away in Brussels or Paris or Rome or some other beautiful European city, and I’m talking to my cats again. Life has become complicated, and I feel it in my bones. I made plans, and they’re not working out. An endless series of anti-climaxes.
I am not writing about cheese.
I stare at the computer screen, see the cheese posts appear one after the other, and I know there’s no way I can do this challenge. The writing, the reading, the commenting, it will wear me out, bring me down. By the end of the month, there will be nothing left of me.
I close the laptop and go outside. Last night’s blizzard has gifted us with several inches of heavy snow, and as the plows came by this morning they left a knee-deep wall of snow five feet wide between my house and the world. It seems symbolic, and I contemplate leaving it as it is, but I know M won’t make it past the wall and into the driveway when he finally comes home.
I grab the big snow shovel and start working. Back and forth I push the thing.
I am not writing about cheese.
“You have a lot of snow.”
The little voice comes from behind me somewhere and I turn around. The little girl next door stands there, and she’s inspecting my driveway with an expert eye.
“I do, don’t I?”
“Yep,” she says, “we’re all done with ours.”
“Yeah, I saw that.”
She walks off, and I continue with my shoveling. Back and forth, back and forth.
“I’ll help you if you want.”
She’s back, and she’s carrying a child-sized red shovel.
“You know, that would be great. Thank you,” I say, and she gets started.
Together we work, side by side. She tells me she’s 4 years old and has an older brother who’s 6. She has little brother, too, but he’s just a few weeks old, so she’s not sure he counts yet. I tell her about my cats, and about my work.
She makes narrow paths in the snow. Happy and carefree, a swirling pattern in the snow next to my perfect straight lines. Lines executed with the military precision of someone who’s forgotten all about fun and is irrevocably stuck in the tangle of expectation and predictability.
She asks me if I’ll be her friend, and I tell her I would like that very much. She can’t stay very long; she has to go home for dinner. She yells a happy goodbye to me from her front porch, and I abandon my straight lines in favor of soft curves around the driveway. I dig out the car from under the snow and carry more firewood into the house.
When I sit down in front of my laptop again, I’m tired and hungry and my entire body aches from the hard work, but I feel rejuvenated. Maybe I’ll write a post after all.
But I’m still not writing about cheese.
This quickly thrown together post was, to my great surprise, written for Nicky and Mike's 30 Minus 2 Days of Writing III. To see the other posts, please visit We Work For Cheese. *
But does your snow resemble cottage cheese?ReplyDelete
Sorry, couldn't resist.
Glad you sort of joined the madness.
Lovely. Very nicely done. And I'm very glad you didn't write about cheese. Not even once.ReplyDelete
Glad you managed to keep cheese out of it. Sorry about the snow, though. Hope M makes it back safely.ReplyDelete
This is so good, so bittersweet and brilliant, that it makes me feel like giving up writing and taking up something I can handle. Jigsaw puzzles or paper airplanes, perhaps.ReplyDelete
Somehow you managed to turn something very ordinary into something special. To the careful reader, something deeply personal and revealing. Perhaps it was the sweet wood fairy who befriended you while you shoveled. Maybe it was the bitter cold and backbreaking labor. Or something else entirely.
Whatever it was, I'm glad for it.
After reading your post I did a hard shutdown of my laptop and then stared out the window. For a long time.ReplyDelete
Then I turned my laptop back on so that I could comment and tell you how much I enjoyed what you wrote. Damn you.
But why did you write a blog post. If I were you I would have just poured myself a good stiff drink…or two.ReplyDelete
Our snow looks nothing like cottage cheese, but now I'll probably have nightmares about a driveway full of the stuff...ReplyDelete
Yeah, me too, Frank, cheese is just not my thing.ReplyDelete
Thanks, Boom Boom. I'm sure M will be home soon, and with my luck, he'll come bearing gifts of Belgian cheese.ReplyDelete
Thank you for being a careful reader, Michael.. It means a lot to me.ReplyDelete
Ah Ziva! I have missed your prose! I loved reading this. Welcome aboard the voyage of the damned - or this challenge - whatever you prefer to call it!ReplyDelete
Damn you back for this prompt, Smick. ;)ReplyDelete
Ah, but that's what I did right after I wrote it.ReplyDelete
Thank you, LM, it's good to be here with the gang all gathered again.ReplyDelete
I bet vodka goes with cheese. You should have just drank vodka and surfed the Internet for cheese. Why the cheese hatred?ReplyDelete
I can't even begin to tell you how much I love this. Don't ever write about cheese. Just write more of this. Or anything else. Or nothing else, although that would make me profoundly sad.ReplyDelete
Wow. Your words evoked all sorts of emotions. I can only imagine the snow you are confronted with, but I totally recognize the loneliness you encounter. You had choices floating all around you, but you chose the shovel to open the pathway. I'm glad you did.ReplyDelete
Yeah, Uh,,,,You know I'm not writing about cheese or anything else. Wait,,,I just wrote that I'm not writing. Oh No! I'm a living oxymoron! Cheeeesssee!ReplyDelete
That was wonderful. I loved the repetition "But I'm not writing about cheese." It worked so well.ReplyDelete
Gotta love kids and their need to state the obvious.
I'm so proud of you for avoiding cheese, Ziva. Except that you mentioned cheese at least 3 times. So does that mean you actually wrote about it by mentioning that you weren't going to write about it? Don't answer that. My head hurts too much.ReplyDelete
Great story Ziva. Or should I say, it was a gouda story.ReplyDelete
HA HA HA STUBBORN!!! That is hysterical! I really loved the snow descriptions... I could picture it all. So glad to be back on your page!ReplyDelete
This was awesome, Ziva! Thank goodness you didn't write about cheese!ReplyDelete
I'm actually glad you didn't write about cheese, because this was brilliant. You really captured the feeling of loneliness, and then you subverted it with a small amount of joy. Good stuff, Ziva. The final line gave me a good laugh.ReplyDelete
Cheese does not taste good, that's why the cheese hatred. ;)ReplyDelete
Oh baby, I will never ever write about cheese.ReplyDelete
Thank you, Malisa, I'm glad, too. It feels like a good decision. :)ReplyDelete
Be careful, you might hurt yourself thinking too hard.ReplyDelete
Thanks, Lauren. Kids, eh? Can't live with them, can't bury them in the snow without going to prison.ReplyDelete
I pseudo-wrote about it. I'm clever like that.ReplyDelete
You take that back right now, mister!ReplyDelete
Thanks, Katherine, it's good to be back. At least for a day or two. :DReplyDelete
I know, right? It was a close call, too, but I managed to avoid it. Sorta.ReplyDelete
Thank you, KZ, I'm glad you liked it. :)ReplyDelete
What a cute story, Ziva. Maybe she was seeing if you'd offer her some cheese in exchange for her hard work?ReplyDelete
Yeah, I doubt it. ;)ReplyDelete