Apologies to Zelda
My therapist mentions dissociative episodes, and I think immediately of the moments just after I found out about my ex’s affair.
—–I watched from outside myself as I screamed at him, shoving stacks of previously important documents onto the floor. I saw myself as a creature of anger, a furious golem of flame instead of clay. I wanted to hurt him the way my pride—even then, I knew it was just my pride—had been hurt, and I threw a paperweight at his head. It flew wide, the heavy glass ball cracking the drywall three feet away from his left elbow.
—–The watching part of myself recoiled in dread as I picked up our long-haired dachshund mix, Zelda. I held her out at my husband, crying, “You’re breaking her heart!” She didn’t struggle, just tucked her feather-tail under her legs and turned to gaze at me with baleful eyes—and that look brought me back to myself. I managed to swallow my rage long enough to set her gently back down, to feel shame creeping in to douse the flames.
—–Cancer claimed Zelda not long after, before my ex found out I had planned to leave him all along. I will never stop wishing I could take that moment back. “I know, Zelda,” I want to tell her. “I don’t know why I did that, either.”
Nora E. Derrington holds degrees from Boston University and the University of New Mexico, and she currently teaches English at Washburn University in Topeka, Kansas. Her stories have appeared in Pilgrimage, The Future Fire, and elsewhere, and she reviews fantasy, horror, romance, and science fiction titles for Publishers Weekly.