Submitted Date 09/11/2018

Last week I was ready for a tussle. I put up my dukes but not a soul stepped into the ring. 

My mood was foul.

My body hurtled through the world giving off the vibe: I am a rebel without a cause. Most forms of communication shut down, including AT&T, Verizon, Gmail, and Yahoo. Social media pretended that I was dead, including FaceBook, Tumblr, and Twitter. My phone calls, emails, texts, and messages went undelivered. Friends avoided me. Students left in the middle of my yoga classes. Clients missed appointments.

The universe had picked up on my pugilistic attitude and bad intentions.

After being clobbered with the eerie quiet of disconnection, I started thinking about similar times in my life. Then an idea popped into my adrenalin-tweaked brain – I needed to BEAT TREES.

Yes, beat trees, not live trees but a grove of dead trees. Wear eye protection, a long-sleeved plaid shirt and thick men’s jeans.

Now where was my bat? Usually the bat was propped beside my bed. A few calls to friends secured a Louisville Slugger.

With borrowed bat, my car propelled me out of town towards the more rural areas west of Raleigh. Behold, my brain seized on the endless line of dead trees on my left. Swerving my car in a rough left turn across oncoming trucks and farm vehicles, I slammed to a stop. Close enough to walk to the trees. Far enough away for my car to escape the flying debris. Breathing fast and shallow with anticipation, trotting to the trunk, I got out my gear. 

Bat, check. 

Eye goggles, check. 

Leather gloves, check. 

I must have looked like The Texas Chainsaw Massacre meets Paul Bunyan’s Alaskan mistress in the Field of Dreams.

Swearing and crying, the bat swung, demolished, devastated the line of trees for a good thirty minutes before some brave soul stopped their car. Slowly he climbed out of his truck. Palms turned forward signaling, “Behold I don’t have weapons.” Eyes wide signaling, “But I think you’re nuts.”

“Can I help you little lady?” said the brave Southern laddie.

“No.” I kept swinging.

“Are you okay?”

“Do I look okay to you?” I stopped mid swing.

“Can I call someone for you?” he said.

I collapsed on top of the debris. All my strength fleeing my body.

“No, you can’t. It’s me. I finished my book. What if it’s crap? What if no one buys it? What if they buy it and it’s crap?”

He started to back slowly towards his truck.

“I am so screwed.” I cried. Plentiful body fluids making my words unintelligible. My head dropped down. “I am out of money paying for this publication, website, publicity, whatever. How am I going to eat, pay my mortgage, health insurance, get my toenails done?” The bat dropped out of my hands. “Can I eat the book’s paper? Are the pages tasty? Was it printed with soy-based ink?”

When I looked up, he was long gone – no signs of his car or car tracks on the muddy side of the road.

Trying to breathe through clogged nasal passages, I stumbled back to my car for tissues, eye drops, and my sanity. Sitting half in, half out, with the car door ajar, becoming one with the mosquitoes, it took a while to notice the sun dropping below the horizon. The lake replayed the beauty of the reds, purples and blues wrenching me out of my self-involvement. The situation grew less hysterical, not exactly calm but below hospitalization point.

I was post-partum. LITERARY POST-PARTUM. People had warned me about this place – the dip, the depression, the pitiful time after the book is done and before the money starts pouring in (hopefully). It’s good to have a name for this process. The sun had set. The world was blue-tinged.

Swinging my legs covered in quarter-sized pink bug bites, my world resumed its hullabaloo. Cicadas made weird noises. A flurry of bats screeched as they blackened the sky. Leaves crackled in a slight breeze.

So, what was so bad? The universe had protectively pulled important relationships out of my path. No one had been hurt. I had an identifiable cause for my distress. My reaction was normal. I had beaten the demons. I had beat dead trees. Hold on, dead trees make paper. Paper is a dead tree. I had beaten the paper demons of the trees. My mind sputtered into life again, slower but working. My breathing was returning to normal.

Searching for my bat in the grass, I had a funny feeling that things could work out. Then the cop drove up …



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