Every morning I have the same routine. I wake up at six and step outside to collect the daily newspaper. My dog Mochi runs out to chase the neighbor’s cat and it takes me a while to get him back inside. After I retrieve Mochi, I boil water for my daily cup of coffee. If it’s sunny I’ll sit outside on the patio chair where I’m surrounded by potted Gardenia and Pikake plants. I read the paper and sip coffee from my favorite mug.
I always read through the entire paper, but all the terrible things that happen in the world have never really fazed me. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve felt sadness about the suffering of others, but on my safe little haven of an island I’ve never really felt the full effect of these disasters.
Today everything has changed. I will not wake up at six because I’ve been awake through the night. I will not collect the morning paper because in my small town I already know what will be featured on the front page. I will not have the energy to make a cup of coffee, nor the desire to drink one. I will not sit outside on the patio because the aroma of Gardenia and Pikake flowers will only remind me of better days.
This is my disaster. This is my day to feel the full emotional turmoil of loss. This is my nightmare that everyone will read about in the paper while sipping their coffee. For a moment, they will feel a hinge of sadness before turning the page to read the comics. They will continue on with their day and forget about the front page of the newspaper.
I already know what the news will say. I know what picture will be printed on the cover because it’s imprinted in my memory. I know they will call it a fatality, a death that will just be another number to them. A statistic to add to the annual report.
People will forget the inconvenience of the main road being closed the morning before. They will forget that a man was killed on his way to work. They will forget that a young teenage girl was too busy texting a smiley face to her friend to notice she was crossing the middle line on the road. They probably won’t wonder if the man she killed suffered or think about what his last thoughts might have been.
They won’t even know the full story. They won’t know that the man kissed his wife before leaving that morning. They won’t know that he promised to bring home a new potted plant for the patio. Some of them will be so unfazed by the incident that they will get in their car and become impatient, driving faster than they should. They will send meaningless messages on their phones while glancing up at the road. The wheels of their cars will pass over the scarred marks where the man had died and they will think nothing of it.
I’m not sure where life will take me now, but I do know one thing. Today I will forever be changed. I will never look at a newspaper the same way again. I will never read the stories with careless detachment. My eyes have been opened to the disasters of this world and a new understanding of sadness has sunk deep into my heart. Today I have joined the sorrow of the daily news.
*I wrote this for a creative writing class when I was asked to pull inspiration from a newspaper. Where do you find your inspiration for your stories?
Aloha ~ Cassie