J. B. Mulligan

Most of her life was imagined.  Her brawls and passions with real men, with men from books and movies, going to and from work on the bus, broke into the books she was reading, so that she would find herself going back to a paragraph, then going back to Charles, then back to the paragraph, until she wound up in court, thinking that the judge was right, but there was no way back to where they had been, and her stop was coming up anyway.  

Her job was drably satisfying, her husband kind to her when they spoke, her children respectful and well-behaved – and they played often, so she didn't worry.  She'd always lived in many places, many worlds, and each world was vivid while she was there.  She should be doing something, she thought, but she was always too busy.  Something important but not too grand, something that served a large purpose, but in the background.  Once she “adopted” an orphan from a far exotic country, a starving boy who sent Julia pictures of himself as he grew slowly into a dark boy with disordered hair who wanted to visit her, perhaps she could help him get a job and stay there, where he lived was dangerous and exciting, with cruel rulers to resist and plot against, from whom he wished only to escape.  

Their letters became infrequent, then stopped.  She hoped he was doing well, and imagined him struggling for freedom, working in the shadows, sometimes being caught, tortured and shot.  She hoped that whatever he was doing, he stopped occasionally to savor life, how sweet it was, whatever bad things might be happening elsewhere.

First published: February, 2010
comments to the writer: doorknobsandbodypaint@gmail.com