The Waking Hour (Excerpt)

Richard G. Henry

Copyright 1999 Richard G. Henry

She sits and waits, alone CLICK FOR LARGER IMAGE


Kathy awoke quietly to the soft patter of rain on the

window. In the few moments before gaining full consciousness

Kathy wondered what the sound was that she was hearing. Kathy

quickly realized it was the rain, again. Again it was raining.

Kathy could not believe it was still raining. It had rained for

three weeks straight without so much as a day with sunshine. She

normally enjoyed the rain, its cool cleanliness washing away

some of the grime. She liked the way it muted all the colors and

sounds of the normally garish city. Kathy lay in bed longer

than normal. She felt a sense of deep loss but she did not know

why. It was less a premonition than a subtle feeling of being

out of balance. Being slightly out of tune, like a piano. Kathy

felt wrong but she did not know why. She stared blankly up at

the ceiling, listening the quiet patter of rain against her

window. Slowly she looked around the room. She was looking for

something to hold onto, something she recognized. Everything was

there as usual, everything was normal. She turned her head over

the other direction and looked at the picture of her boyfriend

Scott. She sighed. She could hear the sounds of the outside

world as it rumbled to life. Horns, diesel busses grinding up

the steep hills of the city. Her body felt heavy under the

covers. She felt like jumping into a cold shower, anything to

shake off this weird feeling that kept her lying in bed.

Suddenly Kathy felt nauseous. Not the sickness that comes

with flu but an unsettling that comes when life asks you a

question you r not prepared to answer. The question had rumbled

within her for almost two to three months. Kathy could never put

a finger on it before. She had not brought it up with her

closest friend. She never mentioned it to her sister or to

Scott. It was one of those things that only bothered her when

she was alone. It had come to a had this morning for no real

reason. The night before she had spent with Scott. They went

out to dinner and watched a movie, As they had done hundreds of

times before. The movie had not inspired anything within her.

In fact, it caused the opposite reaction-repulsion.

"That's it!" Kathy said bolting up in bed. "What is it?"

she asked herself falling back into bed. She stared up at the

ceiling again, studying the dry wall patterns. Her head felt

heavy. Her heavy heart weighed down inside her. She felt like

crying but could not find exactly what to cry about.

Kathy was not much of a crier. Her friend Susan was. Cry

at the drop of a hat. They made a good team, her and Susan.

Often she wished she could cry more, to exorcise the ghosts that

recently lurked inside her.

"This is not how I wanted my life to turn out. This is not

where I want to be and I'm not doing what I want!" Kathy mouthed

the words.

They stung inside her, burned.

She knew this what had bothered her for the last few months.

It was a terrible realization. She had been out of college for

almost six years. She had been working in her present job for

four years and had been dating Scott for three. Most, in fact

all had gotten married. Her first college roommate had already

had two children.

Her parents would put down her anxiety to jealousy, but

Kathy knew it was not. It was more the loss of direction. The

loss of center. What really stung was the fact that she had let

it gets so out of control. She had allowed events to take over

her life. Promotions at work, falling in love, moving to

better apartments, friend's weddings, and grandparents passing away.

The moment one milestone passed the next one popped up on the


Kathy was a shy woman but her job as a retail buyer really

let her blossom. They gave her all kinds of free clothes, so she

could dress like a fashion model. She loved the work, mostly

because everyone depended on her. Every three months they gave

her a raise. It was almost obscene. She made lots of friends

and got a lot of attention from guys. Of course they were all

gay but she still enjoyed their company, and their attention.

The problem was that she never intended to become a buyer

for a department store. She had taken the job during the

Christmas rush because she walked out of her last job. She leapt

over her eighteen year old supervisor and got into the buying

department. She had no experience but the one thing she did do

was listen to all of her co-workers groan about their

relationships. She was intrigued by people and the way they

carried on and on about their boyfriends or lack thereof.

Everyone loved her. She was the company therapist. She just did

it to be polite.

Kathy felt like running home and hiding in her bed at home.

Her mother would understand? No. She could explain that life

was not fair and that everyone had to work. Kathy could not take

that today. This was a deeper fear, something that would

involve a life change, she knew it, it scared her to death.

Like awaiting results from a doctor; she already knew the answer.

The covers, the room, the job, her parents, her boyfriend,

suddenly everything was constricting, choking the life out of


Kathy was only able to take short breaths. Her chest felt

shallow, almost a void. Her joints were tight her hands were

like claws. She felt like she had just drunk a pot of coffee.

Her nerves were on the edge. She turned her head back and forth,

anything to relieve the despair that racked her bones.


Kathy felt alone like she had never felt alone before. She

could not describe it because she had not been so scared before.

It was like her existence was rejecting her life. Her mind was

geared for a completely different life had she found herself in

this one, one she did not understand or want. the sense of

desperation overtook her. She felt like scratching her eyes out.

She felt like burning her skin, jabbing herself with a needle.

She needed something to prove she was alive. That she was not

dead. Kathy was repulsed at the terrible ideas that screamed at

her through veils of grayness that surrounded her.

It was a confusing mixture of emotions, restless and tired,

angry and confused. unsure of what she was angry at. Kathy did

not know quite what to do. She could call Susan, who would

probably cry. Crying always shifted the burden to Susan. Kathy

did not feeling like being told everything was great. Scott

would listen and say a few kind words but would most likely only

put up with it for a few days. This was part of his charm but

often it left her feeling empty. Not in the sense he did not

value her views, but more that he felt they had dealt with them

and did not want to dwell on things, to make a mountain out of a

molehill, so to speak.

Kathy was alone in this. There was no way out. She could

not change things, they were coming at her to fast. How simple

her life seemed before. Working part time in an art gallery.

Her rent was one hundred and fifty dollars. She had time to read

and hang out. Nothing was taken too seriously. Now suddenly,

every idea seemed different and subversive. Straying from the

norm was suicide. Who were these people she knew now? Who was

this guy Scott? He was not the kind of guy she fell for in

college. Was it too late now? Could she change events? Just

changing jobs could take months. She could quit but the money,

always the money. She was living large now.


Spacious apartment.

Lots stuff.

Nice clothes.

She needed out.

Out of the apartment, out of the job, out of her life. It seemed so

radical but some how, some way, it seemed safe. It would be

moving back towards her center.

The place where she was now was not right.

Kathy pulled the curtains up a little and stared out at the

gray rain. The gray sky against the gray buildings. It was so

depressing. From now on everything was different. How could she

face these people whom she had surrounded herself with? They

weren't bad people per say, but just not the people Kathy had

imagined herself with. She imagined literary and artistic types.

discussions of artistic trends and literary movements, instead

she was surrounded by the day to day. parking, weather, rent,

relationships, restaurants, and anything trivial in the news.

How did I get here? Like waking up from a dream Kathy found

herself in a bed of her own making. She allowed events to happen

to her. She had given up the fight. Now she waited for divine

intervention. She dreamed of life but did nothing to change it.

All Works, Paintings, Images, Novels and Stage/Screen Plays & Text. Copyright 1995-2002 Rich Henry. May not be reproduced in any form, mechanical or electronic. All rights reserved. Any use in advertising or commerce is strictly prohibited.
(C) 2002 The Rich N' Famous Group