The Day had overstayed ITs welcome. With its myriad of twists, challenges, dynamic monotony, and insults at long last fading from present to past, and having attained my one saving grace in the form of supper with the family, my soul heaved the sigh of one far older than I. Can a person grow so weary from life's grind that the cumulative fatigue becomes a debt so heavy, so complete, that the ledger may never be balanced through rest in this lifetime?
I shuddered at that, then deftly drove Discouragement, terror stricken, back into the dank cell located in the deepest recesses of my mind from whence she had plotted her escape. Slammed the heavy door, locked the deadbolt, stopped up my ears to retreat hastily back into the relative light of logic, and rationalization. (Stupid Discouragement. She's like a present-day Houdini.)
I do this so others don't have to. They need not understand the daunting price. In fact, I hope they never do.
Besides, I am not even the most tired person in the room. My wife almost didn't even make it to the table this night. She nearly dragged herself past us in favour of her bed, or perhaps even the hard floor beside the bed. She's different that way. I looked at her, and heard Guilt subtly project his voice from his cell way back next to Discouragement's. Though his words did not carry distinctly enough through the gray fog, I knew what he would say if I let him out and removed that gag to loose his forked, critical tongue. Something about my supposed sacrifices not being enough to protect her from this fate, that my weakness is the reason she is even more overextended than I am. And yet, this is the lot we'd chosen. Together. No, I am not completely alone. (Not yet, anyway)
I glanced over my shoulder at The Day and its devious designs for me, my dulled eyes showing just a hint of the stubborn gleam of triumph. I, still breathing... IT, now quickly running out of air. IT'd had its chances, and had made full use of the opportunities. And yet here I was, in one piece. “Next time!”, IT seemed to growl. “I nearly had you.”
I relaxed. Partly out of fatigue, and partly out of confidence that IT had given up. The Day was beaten and was slinking toward the exit. I had survived, if only barely. I finally gave this admission permission to fully form in my mind ... It was a mistake.
My wife put down the worship book and pushed herself away from the supper table. “Ok, you all get to help me tonight.” What? “We have 50 pounds of cabbage heads to chop. Let's make sauerkraut!!”
I was a cabbage head! The Day whipped around and slapped me upside my leafy cranium, then leered at my shock. IT laughed with unmitigated glee, both at the look on my face and at IT's own clever playing of the Opposum card. I had finally let my guard down, and with one sentence, I was defeated.
What had suddenly possessed this crippled and frail wife of mine? Was she controlled by IT, or was she doing this of her own accord just to taunt me? In any event, she had revived miraculously, and I was left to ponder one of the great mysteries of the universe. I'll never understand women.
But help we did. We chopped, we sliced, we willed those heads into near infinitesimal oblivion. We experimented to discover the ultimate way to effectively shred the unending legion of cabbage heads that, it turns out, were hiding in every dark and cool recess of the house. Hacking with a cleaver, slicing with a serrated bread knife, they all worked. But not nearly quickly enough.
One of our number, who tried slicing the cabbage in half-inch cubes, was asked if he knew what sauerkraut looked like, and if so, how he expected his behemoth chunks to miraculously form themselves into the German mayo-less coleslaw. He did not know and admitted as much. Though, to be fair, I do not believe he knew what sauerkraut actually looked like. How could he? Sauerkraut was supposed to be something never actually seen, something to make jokes about. Yet on this night, no one was laughing.
Counter space and cutting board time was at a premium, but eventually we packed two 5-gallon buckets with the stuff. I was instructed to rinse out one of those buckets before adding cabbage, as it had most recently hosted home-made laundry detergent (or some such substance). “Great!” I thought wryly to myself. “At least this batch will taste extra clean.” I was instructed not to be ridiculous, which I made an honest, half hearted effort to do. (or was that 'not do'? I can't not dislike double negatives) We'll see.
The rest of the evening was a blur. In truth, it made for good family bonding time so long as we restrained ourselves from cursing randomly or muttering incoherently. I should have taken some pictures as it was something of a spectacle. In any event, it was with some satisfaction that, as my head finally hit the pillow, I noted that my dear wife was already fast asleep. I wonder what unexpected curve-balls The Day will throw at me when next I open my eyes.