Not Me

It looked like a wolf had bounded across the road. I blinked and thought, “Mind’s playing tricks on me.” Everything looks like a wolf at 3AM. That hour’s reddish-black darkness had bewitched me, and I wobbled on the road for a bare instant, wondering if I should go back and check. Maybe it was a dog, and the owner would wonder where it was, or vice versa. In my rearview mirror, I watched it criss cross the highway again and kept on, relieved, then not, as I wondered if it’d be lucky to escape the car’s wheels next time. But my conviction drove me onward, and I had miles to go.


Truth? The middle of the night rips me open, and I often wake with a start, thinking I’m about to fade away.
Frozen, heart slowing until each beat may be its last, and I wait, lying there, to see if I might die any minute. Other times, I get up and shake off the cloak of sleep to remind myself that I’m still here, I’m not immobile, not dying.


This night, I needed to move. Something was wrong, I knew it. I wrote a letter, patted the paper onto the kitchen counter, and made my way to the car. A few minutes later, I saw the wolf. But like I said, I kept on. We couldn’t both die. What would be the sense in that? And so when I entered the hospital, I thought maybe things would be OK, I’d get checked out, be on my way in an hour’s time. They shuffled me in fast enough, and I waited in the ER’s exam room, dry heaving at the fog of someone else’s blood that’d descended over everything. I’m not always sure that I believe in ghosts, but something happened in that room, and sure enough, the forgotten smears of blood and matted hair on the floor made it real. The stains screamed at me to remember, to witness, to record the imprint of the person who’d made them.


Do you know when you make a realization or are about to, but hold yourself back, because you’re afraid where it may lead? Like if you acknowledge what you need to learn, then A won’t equal B anymore and you have to come up with a C or an L, and that doesn’t compute and you don’t think you’ll know what to do next?


There’s comfort in doing things as you always have, because at least you know what comes after. And you think you have too much at stake to strike out anew in any way, because it’s not a guaranteed outcome? Not that anything ever is, but do you know what I mean?


Mental pathways are tricky things. To untrench them is scary and like death. You’re killing a bit of yourself and your only hope is that something good grows in its rancid soil.


Death hovered around me that night. Death, and sickness, and all the things in my head come to life. It walked next to me, yelled in my ear, barreled into my nose, seeped into my eyes, it touched everywhere, anywhere. I sat through the assault, knowing that as long as I saw it, endured its obvious blows, it wouldn’t creep up on me.


Three hours later, I folded my release form, and stuck it somewhere, I don’t know. It’s not important because it was over, once again, over, until it would happen again. By this time, the black outside had softened, ending the night. For now. I drove home to the note, the approaching light, the realization. And somewhere in the canyons that whizzed by, a wolf waited.


17 Responses to “Not Me”

  1. I don’t want to make light of a serious situation but have you been watching the Paranormal again? Ok, I hope that everything is okay with you this really sounds like a frightening experience.

  2. Steph says:

    Deb, if you ever need to talk, I’m here. I’ll e-mail you my number, in fact.

  3. Is this your fiction? If so, very scary stuff. If it’s real life, also very scary stuff and I hope it was a long time ago.

  4. San Diego Momma says:

    Guess I should’ve considered how this post would sound before I hit “publish.”

    This post is a fictionalized rendering of an ER visit. The bare bones facts are true, but I pumped up the creative writing here.

    Anyway, I should post a humorous depiction of this night (and there is one) to cleanse your palate.

    But Steph, I still want your number! :)

  5. vodkamom says:

    wow. that was mesmerizing, and haunting, and chilling, and fascinating. Can we have drinks sometime? Come on over…

  6. manager mom says:

    Yikes…I was glad to read your answer to Steph’s comment because that freaked me out…

  7. Midlife Mama says:

    Whew, I am so glad to learn this is just fiction! And it was very good. You should do more! When I first read it, I thought perhaps you had migraines. Often migraines make you see things that aren’t there, not that people see wolves; its usually flashes of light and haloes and stuff.

    Nice job! :-)

  8. this is such an accurate depiction of free-floating anxiety.

  9. Da Goddess says:

    The way you describe that tenuous hold on reality/sanity: “Do you know when you make a realization or are about to, but hold yourself back, because you’re afraid where it may lead? Like if you acknowledge what you need to learn, then A won’t equal B anymore and you have to come up with a C or an L, and that doesn’t compute and you don’t think you’ll know what to do next?” — Deb, it’s like you’re in my head. How do you do that? How do you create such a vivid recreation of what I’m thinking sometimes?

    You’re totally brilliant and I want to be a great writer like you someday.

    For reals.

    And we definitely need to have lunch soon.

  10. Wow sounds like you had quite the experience. I hate going to the ER. You are a very talented writer. I can’t wait to read your humorous version of this story! By the way, you received an award from me. Visit Healthy Moms for all the details. Congratulations!

  11. deborah says:

    That was so compelling, Deb. When are you going to accept that you are a truly talented, gifted writer? A little wacky maybe, but isn’t that the resonating sign of a true artist, the ability to spellbind us by transcending the mundane in freakish flights of fancy?

    Write that book…write that book…write that book…

  12. tinsenpup says:

    Oh, that was superb. You blow me away. So perfectly dark and under-stated.

  13. Auds says:

    ER visits always seem so surreal to me. I could NEVER in a million years however, articulate them in the manner you did. Spellbinding and mezmorizing.

  14. mami Jen says:

    That was so real. The feelings and thoughts that go through ones head during crisis, life and death.

    I would definatly like to hear this story retold with humor. The contrasts will bring it more to life.

  15. […] me tell you: the dark post about the ER? It happened, yes. Much the way I described it, except I upped the atmosphere ante because I could. […]

  16. I’m relieved to read and discovered this was an ‘enhanced’ version of events, but still!

  17. mommypie says:


    You are just so FREAKIN’ GOOD.

    You’ve inspired me to do another smooky post. Which will, of course, not come anywhere NEAR the awesomeness of this.

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