Michele Hempel

Fall 2022


The screen door slammed and then slammed again, and she knew it was time…

To make dinner – again. She gets up slowly from the  wooden kitchen chair and begins to wonder – when did her life become a series of ‘agains’? Making kids’ lunches, again, grocery shopping, again, making beds, again, dishes, again, and laundry, again and again  and…

As she pulls the ground beef from the fridge and begins forcing it into patties, she almost remembers a time of ‘new.’ A new diploma, a new job, a new cute coworker, a new (at least to her) car, a new apartment and finally, just when she began to think it would never happen, a new boyfriend. She seasons the meat before placing it in the broiler, trying and  failing to reconnect with any other kind of spice in her existence. Vaguely she recalls that wedding planning and pregnancy had been new – and exciting. That’s right, she muses, new often prerequisites exciting.

But when was the last time something new reared its head in her life? Socks and underwear don’t count she reminds herself snatching off the crowded buds from the cauliflower and tossing them into the air fryer’s basket. No wonder exciting never comes to call.

“If someone were to call you tonight, who would you want it to be?” a random line from last night’s TV show echoes abruptly in her mind. Her hands slow in their ripping open of the salad bag. As its contents spill into the bowl, possibilities present themselves. Her mom? Sister? Best friend who had the audacity to move away – to Maui, no less? Mentally she deletes each of these options. The twin’s good looking t- ball coach? She shakes her head and swipes hard left. She needs more than distraction and drama. She needs…. ? Now there’s something new – someone asking her what she needs? When was the last time that ever happened?

She searches her mind for an answer – or even a clue. When the only thing that appears are the burger buns, it occurs to her that maybe the one asking that question is the one she wants to talk to tonight. Hastily, she plates each dinner, except hers, and then announces as she grabs her purse, “Dinner’s ready. I’m going out.”

“What?” a confused voice calls from the family room. But its only response is the door slamming. And as a bewildered face pops into the kitchen doorway it witnesses,  just for good measure, it slamming again.

Writer’s Statement: We are all mysteries. In a quiet moment of self-reflection, a mystery turns into a direction and the beginning of a new mystery.

Bio: Michele is a mature woman, a mom of three and a grandma of six who has recently retired from her private practice as a Licensed Clinical Social Worker. As a journaler for over five decades she knows its power to unearth our own inner wisdom and to help us to heal. Out of her experience and passion for journaling she has created and presented many workshops on the subject as well as a college accredited class. Having participated in, hosted and birthed many women’s journaling groups, she’s witnessed and enjoyed the many gifts journaling has to offer as a way of connecting with oneself and, potentially, with others.

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