Book of Regrets, Platform for Prose, March 2020
This morning I realized I couldn’t read my book of regrets any longer. I’d had enough. There’s only so much guilt a person can take.
I called my neighbor and asked if she was reading hers. “Last night I did.” A long pause. “Though I can’t say I like it much these days.” She was whispering. Guilt again.
“Why don’t you and I have a book burning party?”
“Can we do that? My mother can’t put hers down –”
“I don’t know about you, but my book’s leading me south.”
“I know what you mean.” She wasn’t whispering any more: a good sign.
We agreed to meet that afternoon at my house. She arrived, clutching her book, wearing lipstick and a blue silk scarf. She looked different, and I said so.
“I feel different,” she said. “Are we really going to do this?”
“Let’s burn them in the front yard. Out in the open.”
“Aren’t we breaking the rules?”
“They’re someone else’s rules.” I was already moving toward the door. “I’ve got everything ready. Come on.”
She hurried after me. “What made you change your mind, disagree with everyone?”
My doctor would say it was menopause; my husband would call it a mood, my minister, defiance, my teenaged son, rebellion (at least he’d be smiling). “As I said, I was going south. Had to turn the car around.”
She grabbed the metal garden tub, and I grabbed the kindling. She sprinkled kerosene; I drew the lighter. Then she said–just as we threw our regrets inside the tub, whumph!-- ”My mother’s going to have a fit.”
“I’m scared too. Now light.”
The fire blazed with such force that she and I jumped. Laughing, she raised her hands to the heat. The smoke blossomed and sighed, stretching itself into the sky, and eventually vanished.