In the Shadow of Days

Judy tried to frown. Standing in front of her mirror, she tried to maker her lips curve down naturally. It didn’t work – her whole mouth would sort of shift into a strange diagonal line and the lips would almost disappear. She pulled the corners of her lips down with the forefinger of each hand and looked at the result. It was ridiculous. Walking back to her typewriter, she pressed the newfangled “delete” button that automatically whited out the previous words she’d written, which had been “I frowned.” She had just realized that there wasn’t really such a thing as frowning, or that at least she herself didn’t know how to do it.

Over the little white squares that hid the falsity, she tapped out a more accurate description, slowly speaking the words aloud and pulling them through her mouth like a piece of gum. “I furr-r-r-rowed my bro-o-ow.” With a loud CLICK, the page juttered up and sideways, the typewriter moving it mechanically so that she could type out the next line.

It was the seventy-second day of her experiment, and a big stack of papers already stood beside the machine. She had another eighteen before she needed to start sending the manuscript out. After that, she’d have another sixty – and not a day more than that – before she had to return to her day-job. Her heart sometimes pounded with adrenaline as she pounded the keys with her two forefingers, the same ones that pulled down her lips in order to check the authenticity of a frown. They were her trusty sidekicks and she often had nightmares about them getting slammed in doors or drawers, or being chopped off by knives. She’d wake up with them stuffed into her mouth, awkwardly, with drool sticking her cheek to the cheap pillow-case.

The light was fading but Judy didn’t turn the light on yet. She tried to save electricity so that her bills wouldn’t give her a heart attack. She kept typing as the sounds of the evening news rose and fell in the apartments around her.

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One thought on “In the Shadow of Days

  1. Erin M says:

    Apparently I started commenting on this and then closed the window or something? I distinctly remember . . . oh well. Anyway.

    I love the whole fact-checking of the frown. ^_^

    I’m curious about the self-imposed five-month(?) experiment to get published. Was it an arbitrary length of time? Did someone challenge her? Did she read somewhere that it was a reasonable length of time to be published in? Was that as long as her work would allow her to take on leave?

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