This was the story that started it all. While I was in a creative writing class at BYU, I had my mom proofread "Security" (since she's an English teacher, and I trust her opinion), and she read it, gave me a few suggestions on how to make it better, and then told me I should write a book filled with short stories about the first year of marriage. I thought it was a really good idea, and so this is my first chapter--the story that inspired this project (5,837 drafts later).
My husband and I got married on August 20th, 2011. Josh was working at Shopko at the time, and he sometimes had to work freight. He had to be there at 5 am on those mornings, which means he left me, all alone, in our small little apartment. I have a problem with anxiety, so I just knew that someone would be watching our apartment, see him leave, know I was home alone, and then break in and kill me (or worse). My paranoia is particularly bad in the morning before I've fully had a chance to wake up, and I struggled with his absense. One morning, I had a very vivid dream that a man broke in and pulled me out of bed by my feet. I legitimately thought it was real.
This experience inspired "Security," though my various outbursts of paranoia, in all their varieties, soon took the back seat. Now, it is primarily a story about financial stability and differences in opinion, but it's also a story about feeling secure in your marriage: You have to know that the other person isn't going to leave you, no matter the disagreement, because you two love each other deeply. It's also about being secure enough in your relationship to be yourself, because there is no room for you, your husband, AND your alter-ego in a marriage.
These were just a few of the lessons I had to learn my first year of being married to Josh, and I hope you join me as I share with you all the nuggets of wisdom I was able to glean from my own personal experience. In the meantime, please enjoy the first 700 or so words of "Security," the first chapter of The First Year, by Jillian Torassa.
I felt like one of those people in the Claritin commercials, you know, before they take the miracle allergy drug that magically brings their world back into focus. My world wouldn’t come back in to focus until after the sun came up, and that occurrence was still several hours away. I lay with my eyes closed, listening to Charlie rummaging around in the closet. But that soon got old, and my focus shifted to the sounds outside. It sounded wet. My brain may have felt foggy, but I could always tell when it had been raining because the cars sounded different. Yes, there were always a few cars zipping down the Avenue, even in the dead of night. I don’t understand it either.
Charlie opened the door to the walk-in closet, which was as big as our entire bedroom, and the warm, yellow light assaulted my eyelids. I slowly opened my eyes, squinting up at him.
“Hey, babe. Sorry to wake you.”
I shrugged my shoulders, closing my eyes again. I still wasn’t all there.
“I’m going now. I’ll see you when I get off.”
I dreaded this time of year. Every summer, for the last five years, Charlie worked construction to earn money for our future. He refused to marry me until he reached some magic number in his savings account, so I thought it might stop after we got married. Ha. I really hated being left alone in the middle of the night, and I especially hated waking up without my husband by my side. It was horrible. I always heard noises.
“I love you,” I said. My throat was dry, but I couldn’t drink water before I was truly awake. It always had a horrible taste as it washed around the germs that had been accumulating in my mouth during sleep.
“I love you too.” He leaned down and kissed me on the forehead.
I heard him in the living room, pulling his bulky jacket from the coat closet. Then he was in the kitchen, taking a swig of orange juice and grabbing a handful of cereal as he rushed out the door. The door to the apartment slammed, the deadbolt slid into place, and I listened to his heavy footsteps as he hurried down the stairs. But then that faded away too, and he was gone.
The cars still sloshed around outside. Where people had to go at four thirty in the morning, I would never know. That kind of stuff always interested me. I just couldn’t imagine where people had to go all day and all night. Why were the freeways always packed with people? Why was the Avenue never deserted? I really wished they would all just go home to their wives and leave me to have a silent, peaceful night’s sleep for once.
I pulled the comforter to my chin, snuggling a little deeper into the warmth. With Charlie gone, it was sometimes a struggle for me to keep warm. I squeezed my eyes shut, held, and released, trying to relax the muscles behind them. This was the part I loathed the most: Trying to fall back asleep, with nothing but the cars outside to protect me.
Then it started happening, like it did every morning after Charlie left. I heard noises. Strange noises. And we didn’t even have an animal that I could blame it on. I kept telling Charlie that we should get a cat, or a puppy. It would really help my paranoia, I told him. But he just laughed, and tossed the suggestion over his shoulder. You don’t need a puppy, he would tell me.
This morning, I heard sirens. My eyes flew open in horror, and my hands gripped the comforter. I just knew Charlie had been killed. He had been run over by one of the cars, speeding down the Avenue, and I would never see him again. Soon, a policeman would come up to our door, hammer on it with his fists until I was able to throw on a bathrobe and talk to him, and then he would tell me that my husband had been killed in a horrible accident. I threw the comforter over my head, trying to stay calm. I would just wait here for the cop . . . I wouldn’t panic until I heard the knock at my door. Praying never helped me in these situations. In my state of half-awakedness, not even a heavenly presence could console me. All I could do was focus on my breathing.