"The Middle of Her Life," by Meredy Amyx





The Middle of Her Life

Ilana in the doctor's waiting room.
     I knew that would happen. Eight, no, nine empty seats in this waiting room and she has to take the one right next to me. It's bad enough that he's called me in to talk about the test results, it's bad enough sitting here just waiting and not being able to stop thinking about it, all the horrible things they could have found, and me only forty-four, the middle of my life, bad enough without being crowded by someone who smells of garlic and wearing that revolting shade of puce that I can't even look down at the magazine in my lap without seeing.

Ilana in the kitchen.
     Those damn fools have redesigned the cranberry jelly can. What's the matter with them? Before, you just opened both ends and the jelly slid right out. Now the bottom is rounded and the can opener won't work. Look, you can't even poke a hole in it to break the vacuum. You have to run a knife around the inside, and still it doesn't come. The turkey's done, I've got potatoes to mash, gravy to make, and everybody else just sitting around snacking and drinking, spoiling their appetites, and I've been standing here for ten minutes shaking this damn can and I can't get the jelly out. Those cheap corporate bastards have figured out how to save an extra fraction of a cent with a different can, and they don't care what it does to my life. I swear to God sometimes I feel like the universe saves up all its torments for me.

Ilana on the freeway ramp.
     Idiot. He's not going to let me in. I don't believe it. I can't go straight more than another few seconds. The lanes merge. He's just blocking me. He's doing it on purpose. When I speed up, he speeds up. I should slow down. Why should I let him make me? There's someone right behind him. I have to get ahead of him. What the fuck did he pick on me for? He's nobody I know. Fucking idiot. What the hell, who cares, I'm just going to step on it and run right ahead of him and cut him off, and
Ilana in the middle of her life.
     Turns out the middle of Ilana's life was when she was twenty-two. She didn't know it then. Now she does.

Copyright © 2007 Meredy Amyx.
"The Middle of Her Life" was completed on April 26, 2007. This story appeared in the online literary journal Word Slaw on March 20, 2008.