The other day my husband came home from work to find me curled up in my favourite chair, still wearing shabby track pants and a pyjama top, sucking my thumb. My uncombed hair poked up like a rooster’s comb, and my complexion was blotchy from weeping.
“What’s wrong?” he asked, almost like he was really concerned.
“Ah, I’m sorry to hear that. Did she suffer long?” He loosened his tie with one hand while he reached into the ’fridge for a beer with the other.
“She had a fatal disease and the doctors couldn’t cure her. She even went to a clinic in the Himalayas, but there was nothing they could do for her.” My eyes started to bubble for the umpteenth time that day. “Thank God, she went peacefully in her drug-induced coma.”
“Oh, that’s good,” he said, nodding in commiseration. He savoured his beer for a moment while he regarded me warily. “Who’s Phoebe again?”
I glared at him. “My best friend! How can you not know that?!”
“I don’t even know who you are! Who are you?” “Lisa.”
“Ah yes, Lisa! The woman scorned. I remember you. Hmm, wasn’t it just last week you were so mad at Phoebe you were plotting her murder?”
“We made up.”
He pondered for a moment. “I thought Phoebe was volunteering at a missionary school in Peru.”
“The woman was a saint!”
“Ahh,” he said again, and handed me a glass of wine.
“And then she had to go and die!” I dabbed at my eyes with a tissue. “How could I let that happen?!”
“Trust me, everything will look better in the morning.”
“You’re awfully cavalier about this,” I cried. “Don’t you care at all?”
“I care a lot!” he protested. “What’s for dinner?”
“We have to order in. I’ve been too depressed to cook.”
He bent over to gently kiss the top of my head.. “Life has to go on, honey. Phoebe would have wanted it that way.”
“I know.” I sighed heavily and sipped the Chardonnay. “Everyone loved Phoebe, even my editor. And she doesn’t like anyone.” I snuffled up tears. “I’m sure going to miss her.”
“Yeah, me too. But don’t worry,” my husband assured me, “you’ll make another best friend.”
He was right. I could make another best friend, and my new friend could be even better than Phoebe.
That’s the joy, or the millstone, of being a writer. I can create anyone I want.
And my husband understands this. He handle my forays into the consciousness of imaginary people with humour and style. He has been known to call out to me by several different names, sometimes even my own, and wait until I to respond to one so he knows whom he’s dealing with.
“Besides,” he continued, “didn’t you tell me that Lisa was secretly in love with Phoebe’s husband ... what’s-his-name?”
I could feel the cloud start to lift, and I brightened. Ah, the possibilities! Reality began to shift into focus. I hopped out of my chair and began to pace the floor.
“Tomorrow I’m going to put Phoebe in a plot at Holy Name Cemetery and let’s just see where the philandering Marcus and that trollop Lisa end up!”
My husband grinned at me. “You’re back..”
“Thanks, babe,” I said, raising my glass in a toast, “you’re my hero.”