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Micro Essays

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2010 :: Issue 6/Spring :: Micro Essays

Waking Up

Helen Ruggieri

I was ten. Our phone number was 707-W and we lived at 717 Main Street. We’d just moved to Mayfield, PA and I didn’t know anybody. We lived in an upstairs apartment that was at the same height as the railroad embankment and I could look out my window and see the Delaware Lackawanna diesel speeding along the tracks, passing every hour dragging coal cars, blowing two blasts for the crossing on the corner.

I had trouble falling asleep. I always did. I’d gotten two books for Christmas—Tom Sawyer and Robinson Crusoe. I would read them over and over until exhaustion finally grabbed me and subdued me; that nightly struggle.

One August morning I woke up and looked around at my little room with the pine cone wallpaper and knew with a felt knowledge so overpowering it defied what had been my reality. I knew that my whole life until that moment had been a dream and I was awakening for the first time.

Afraid, confused, puzzled…but empowered, curious, questing. I am here and alive. If that is so there must be a reason for the awakening. There must be purpose. What is this all about? How could I find out, who would know the answer to my questions?

No sense asking my mother, who would dismiss it as she did the motion of heat shimmering on August asphalt. She would just deny the existence. No, she was not to be trusted with something this important.

I began, like Crusoe assembling a list of things to take to the island, that small piece of awareness in the huge dark sea. I would keep this to myself and find the explanation ahead somewhere in that cave of the future.

Time dragged, school started, a more intensified boredom with occasional moments of terror, new friends. I read every story in the Prose and Poetry reader for fifth grade. No one mentioned this constellation of thought. In church I only heard about shalt-nots, things I hadn’t even thought about doing. No one said thou shalt wake up on a ten-year-old’s morning and understand that you are alive and can reach out into the unknown for whatever you can find. No one asked about the clarity of memory that followed, how a “me” began to form.

Drowsing through a sermon I heard the words “through a glass darkly” and held the sound of them as if they were silk.

the sound
of one mosquito


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