Wednesday, July 20, 2011

J.O. Vaughn


I told Oskar that when I had been younger a group of my friends and I had gone to the Village Tavern one night for dinner and it’s when I had my first grand mal seizure. I’ve been afraid to return all these years and now I’m standing in front of the restaurant. My heart is pounding and I tell myself it’s just a mild panic attack, not a seizure, I’ll be fine. I must look completely petrified because Oskar has his hand on the small of my back rubbing it gently. His voice tickles my ear as his whispers, “I just figure it’d be one last fear to have to face. Only thing left is marriage and that should be a walk in the park after tonight.”
He has no idea how many fears I have to conquer, points in my life I have to face, so that marriage isn’t frightening to me at all, at the present. It’s strange, I understand his logic and pushing the visions of my past away, agree with his sound advice and take the initiative to walk inside. The waitress seats us together and I nearly burst out laughing when she asks Oskar if his wife was coming to join us.
“This is my wife,” he takes my hand and pulls me to sit beside him. The woman is stunned but I’m not surprised, I may be twenty-nine but I am constantly mistaken for a teenager or a college freshman. In all my years there has only been one stranger to guess my age correctly and when I asked how he’d done it he said it was because I’d told him I’d been in Winston ten years and he assumed that’s when I came for college.
“Our menus,” Oskar motions the waitress who is still staring blankly before apologizing as she gives us the menus. Before she starts to walk away, she returns realizing she never asked for our drink orders.
“Ice tea for me and water without ice for her,” he catches her before she has gotten out of sound range, “and a small bowl of lemon slices please.”
I’m smiling. I am being continually amazed by Oskar, “Your wife?”
He shrugs, “I was your fiancée the other night. Why not my wife now?” He pauses before asking if I’m feeling alright and I nod. I don’t want to mention that where I am sitting right now is the exact some space I was in the night of my seizure but then he asks, “What was it like?”
“What was what like? My seizure?”
He nods.
I’m flabbergasted, I don’t know how to explain something like that, “It was just, ‘gone’, I can imagine everyone being frantic, ‘Is there a doctor in the house!’ and all that, but I was just gone. No day dreaming or whatever, I’m just giving the waiter my order, freeze – the girls said in like a Michael Jackson’s Thriller monster pose - and then waking in an ambulance strapped to a table.”
“I’d been on a stretcher before. Had a minor heart attack – if there is such a thing – didn’t seem minor to me. I really hate those damned things, make me feel like I was already in a coffin except decorated like a UFO or something, all these wires and gizmos, alien looking people sticking things in me, interrogating me,” he sees my concern and pulls me close, “Ah, don’t worry, I was a stupid kid, wasn’t taking care of myself. Got a dietician, physical trainer – sad to say I think this belly is going to be with me for some time but I’m a lot better off than I was a few years ago.”
His arms are so secure, I feel sheltered and feel myself melting into him, I want to fall asleep and probably would have if the waitress hadn’t returned with our drinks. She asks if we’re ready yet and Oskar orders for the both of us: 8 oz steaks, both medium rare, but with different side dishes so – he explains later – we can share and have a wider variety. He says we can order more if we’re still hungry but after I’d had their double layer cheesecake he doubts I’ll be able to stomach anything else.
I wish there were more men who listened to their dates. Everything he’s done tonight he remembered either from my profile – where I mentioned my love of mandarin oranges and steak (the side dishes he ordered for my plate were on the list too) or from our first night together at Borders when I mentioned Village Tavern and why I only drink water on a typical outing. I’d only sipped at the smoothie he’d bought me because too much sugar makes me ill and I wanted our date to last all night.
I stand and move over to the other side of the table. He looks at me curiously and I explain how stunned I am at the moment, not just by what he’d done but by the fact we are in the same exact both and for a moment I was in the same exact seat as when I had had my seizure. He gets out of the booth and I think he’s going to ask the waitress for another table but instead he pulls me out of my seat and forces me into his, “I think it’ll be better for you if you sit here tonight. It’ll give you some confidence when you see that nothing happens and it’s not because you were sitting in a different seat.”
I can feel the adrenaline rushing through my body, it’s a fight-or-flight instinct and if I hadn’t noticed people looking at us I might have resisted but instead I just go sit where I was told like a good little girl and spend the rest of the night holding myself together. It takes a lot out of me to control myself and I spend most of the night reminding myself that this isn’t the start of a seizure, the Lamictal I have coursing through my body will continue to keep me strong, this is just nerves, panic, and it’ll be over soon.
God, I think to myself, just don’t make me throw up tonight.

   JULIET (22:43:10): Fyodor!
   ROMEO (22:24:17): What’s wrong?
   JULIET (22:24:28): I think I blew it. Me and Oskar.
   ROMEO (22:24:32): Why?
   JULIET (22:24:40): He hasn’t answered my email. Hasn’t called me.
   JULIET (22:25:30): Well.
   ROMEO (22:25:34): Well what?
   JULIET (22:25:41): What should I do?
   ROMEO (22:25:43): Wait.
   ROMEO (22:27:39): You always jump to conclusions when you think someone doesn’t like you or is stopping likeing you. Just chill and I’m sure he’ll call. When did you send the email?
   JULIET (22:28:01): About twenty minutes ago.
   JULIET(22:28:13): I guess you’re right.
   ROMEO (22:28:13): Twenty minutes, give him time.
   JULIET (22:29:41): He probably isn’t even home yet.
   ROMEO (22:30:07): He just dropped you off?
   JULIET (22:30:09): Yes.
   ROMEO (22:30:22): Darlin’, you really need to take a breath. Breathe with me now. In...
   ROMEO (22:30:24): Out…
   ROMEO (22:30:26): In…
   ROMEO (22:30:29): Out…
   ROMEO (22:30:35): Release the tension.
   ROMEO (22:30:38): Out…
   ROMEO (22:30:46): Release the fear.
   ROMEO (22:30:50): In…
   ROMEO (22:31:10): Feel better?
   JULIET (22:31:15): I guess
   ROMEO (22:34:07): Honey, I’m happy for you, just relax and if he wants to be with you as much as you say, he’ll write. Hell, I don’t know what you said but I’m sure it’s nothing bad. You have a very poetic nature. It’ll be beautiful and … just don’t worry.
   JULIET (22:34:15): Ok. You’re right. I just – I’m tired, I’ll guess I should just go to bed so I don’t dwell on it.

I want to hit the monitor. I stomp my foot like a little child who isn’t getting what he wanted from Wal-Mart. She gets obsessive, her desire for the love and support she’s never gotten. She stays with me but she has never been the same since our night together in her dorm room. I’m the one to heal her body and apparently Oskar has been chosen to heal her soul. I really want to hurt this man, whomever he is.

© J.O. Vaughn 2011

J.O. Vaughn lives in Winston-Salem, NC where she spends most of her time researching, having a passion for knowledge, which she uses for her writing. She appreciates constructive criticism.


  1. Each of the three sections read well and was engaging. It was clear that they related and depended on one another. What I had trouble with was determining the exact relationships.

  2. It's my NaNoWriMo for 2010. It's about a third of the way into the story. I created my own website for it and by the end of this week you can read this part in order.

    Oskar and Julianna are on their first date and Fyodor is a friend of hers of about 6 years -- he becomes the antagonist.


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