Word Count 500
Her epiphany came slowly—not in a thunder of fireworks, like that sort of thing is portrayed, but creeping and curling around her like whispers of mist off the creek on a cold morning. She almost ignored it nudging into her periphery.
Part of her had suspected. Part of her did not want it to be true. But there it was—what other explanation could there be?
Busying herself in the kitchen—dabbing at the coffee ring on the counter, rinsing her cup, washing and drying her hands—she did all the things she did habitually. But today, she began to think about each step, from pushing herself up from the table, to turning on the water, dampening the sponge, jabbing at the partially dried spot. She could almost see the realization seeping into her brain, like water soaking into the sponge. Every day. Every. Day. Call it what you will—routine, habit. Doing what needs to be done. The rut had been of her own making. Useless to blame someone else. And now she knew.
It is only my own inability to move forward that holds me back.
The force of this realization nearly knocked her to the floor. Staggering back to her chair, dish towel still in hand, she lowered herself and sat. Inhaling shakily, she held her breath for a count of nineteen before she needed to exhale. Counting helped balance her thoughts, allowing her to breathe normally. Allowing her to think.
So much time wasted. No, don’t think about that. Don’t think about the hours spent—the years spent pursuing, clinging to, someone else’s dream. Long after the dreamer was gone.
Once upon a time, she had interests. A dream of her own. Now, she barely remembered it. Was certain it had been faulty or unrealistic or unworthy of pursuit. Otherwise, why hadn’t she pursued her dream? A vague recollection worked its way past her reverie: Someone ridiculing her vision, demeaning her ideas, dismissing her abilities.
Humiliation. Was that why she had given up? Given in to the status quo, allowed her future to be chained to someone else’s whim? Expectation drove her. Was driving her still. Whose? A place for everything, everything in its place—that hadn’t been her. But it was now. Why? Didn’t need to anymore. No one was left to prevent her from doing, or not doing, whatever she wanted. I hold myself back.
Not going to make the Impressionists show at the gallery. Really wanted to see it. Too many things needed doing. She began to tuck her longing into her pocket, but stopped. ‘Inability to move forward,’ she mouthed, the words tangling on her tongue. Inability.
And then, another epiphany. She could erase ‘inability’ if she tried. “Move forward.” The thought was nearly crippling. With effort, she tossed the dish towel onto the counter. “Paintings.” She reached for the cookie jar, removed a fistful of cash. “A café luncheon.” Nausea twisted her stomach. “Maybe not. Maybe next time. Baby steps.”