Coming Clean

by Nannette Crane-Post

I go real mad at night. As if my brain’s just had it with the dirty dishes or Robert watching TV loud enough to startle the crawdads down in their holes, or little Bob and his videos. Or all three. I go mad about eight.

When it starts it’s like a stifled sneeze. It’s like how you feel right before you rear end that expensive car in front of you. Dread mixed with excitement. Who will I meet?

One night after I went mad I threw all the dinner dishes outside. The plates like frisbees and the utensils like darts. It was loud, but nobody noticed except for the cicadas. Just opened the back door and chunked them out over the porch railing. Then I got the water hose, the laundry soap, and the mop and washed them out there in the dark. The white plates looked like little moons lying there at my feet and I was so glad to be mad. On a Southern night there is little difference between what’s right and what’s wrong.

They say you see the clearest when you are mad.

On another night I stole little Bob’s microphone and went out to the vegetable garden where I stood between the summer squash hills and okra trees I’d planted on an early spring night with my dead grandmother’s tarnished silver serving spoon and fork set, held the microphone tight around its slender little neck and sang Janice Joplin while the cat loved my legs and bare feet. Oh Lord, won’t you buy me, a Mercedes Benz. And if the car dealership had been open, I would have gone and done it myself. And the chorus in the trumpet vine that smothered the back fence line struck up a melody that would make the choir in the Baptist church down the road close their hymnals real quick and listen.

It’s always gone by daylight. Always I wake up as if I didn’t help my cat stalk night creatures under the giant hostas out of my grandma’s garden. As if I hadn’t held the moon between my fingers and taken pictures while leaning far, far back, or slid my feet through the forming dew or linked my arms around tree trunks and kissed bumpy bark or shuffled the compost pile with Robert’s new golf clubs. As if I’d never had a moon lily propped up on my head like a hat. A big-boned, middle-aged Thumbelina-with-a-drawl. I would sit still while the humidity settled lightly on my skin like the thin cotton sheet my grandma would keep on the sleeping porch.

I wake up with dirty feet and hands or a raw voice or scratches on my face and lie in bed for a moment to delight in them. Then I get up to what’s left of me.

Nannette has published stories in upstreet and the Arkansas Literary Forum. She teaches literature and writing at a community college and lives with her husband and ten pets near the childhood home of Bill Clinton.

What would you like to come clean about regarding this piece? As the author, I want to come clean regarding the fact that this was once an eight page short story, until I realized that the ending had come much, much sooner than I initially realized.

Speaking for the narrator, she is hoping—one day—to come clean regarding what she REALLY wants in life. Perhaps then she won’t have to resort to madness to see herself clearly.

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