“Possibility Days” by Counting Crows from Somewhere Under Wonderland
Wendy was predisposed to count the seconds past far more important than the seconds not yet arrived. If you asked, she could probably acknowledge the truth of that, but she’d never offer it on her own.
It was why her prom—an epic disaster of an event that saw their limo getting lost on the way to the hall and nearly being locked out as a result, her boyfriend Bill staying up all night, in another room, to protect her from a prank planned by her friend Glen, and a next day event at an amusement park wherein she couldn’t get Bill to even look at her because he was so angry at her for not spending the night with him and for choosing friends that would treat her like Glen consistently did—generated warmer feelings in her than her upcoming date with Kent, the handsome new hire in accounting.
For her there was simply more beauty in the known over the unknown, the already passed over the now and certainly over the not yet here. Those moments being in the past increased their value, the impossibility of never living them again making them all the sweeter.
Some part of her knew it was not healthy, but she couldn’t help herself. In her mind she catalogued the moments past, the things never to be experienced again, the desires unrealized. She had a strict plan for life and she held herself to it pitilessly. She never got drunk with a stranger one night on an extended layover and since she was no longer in her 20’s, she never would. She never tried to karaoke and once she left college, that window had closed. Again, what some view as sad or a chance to redefine what they thought they’d be doing when, she embraced as a moment passed, an opportunity lost, and they held bittersweet resonance to her.
People had tried to shake her loose from it. There was her roommate Crystal and her second boyfriend Darius and even her cousins Phil and Bonnie. They all tried, they all failed. The past, be it great or ugly, just glowed that much brighter for her.
That is why she was upstairs that morning, flipping through photo albums, dozens images triggering the memory of hundreds of smells, thousands of tastes, millions of noises. Washing over her. Blanketing her. Clutching her just as she clutched them. And in her reverie, she never heard it. The shattering of glass, the thumping of feet, the forced whispers of those convinced they are alone but still being cautious.
She did not realize they were there until they were upstairs, their noises too loud for even nostalgia to buffer against. But they saw her before she could act. And they were screaming at her. Cajoling. Demanding. Threatening.
But she should still. Immovable. That photo album clutched in her hands like a talisman. And with a voice like steel she replied, “No.”
“This is my house. Everything here belongs to me. Belongs to my memories. You can’t have them. You can’t have any of it. You want money? Fine. But try to walk out of here with anything, I will end you before your feet hit the sidewalk at the end of my lawn.”
They laughed then. Career criminals who thought they had seen it all. Laughing at Wendy, this petite woman who stood as though she had an army at her back. They laughed and they rushed her.
And there laughs became struggled cries, whimpers, pleadings for mercy.
When the police arrived, alerted by a jogger who heard men’s voices screeching, Wendy was sitting on the front steps looking annoyed but otherwise ok. Inside eight burglars, eight bodies of people who once were burglars, lay broken and twisted all over the house.
The cops and EMTs carted them away, shaking their heads and refusing to contemplate how this could have happened. The investigation was perfunctory. Self-defense against home invasion. Open and shut. No one looked deeper than that. No one wanted to.
A few years later, on her way to brunch with her fiancé’s parents, on the anniversary of that near home invasion, Wendy would briefly find that memory and smirk slightly to herself, preferring it to the meal to come. Because the past was always just that much sweeter.