From the February 2013 magazine.

February 2013: My Bathroom Floor

It was May 1, 1974. I was lying crosswise on my bed, still fully clothed in my parka, boots and jeans. My attention was drawn to the curtains moving in the breeze in the open window over my bed. I stared at the tall pine trees that nested our new home in the Sierra Nevada Mountains, so graceful and dignified as they yielded to the wind. I moved my head slightly and realized that my face was stuck to the bedspread. I saw that I had been sick on myself and immediately the thoughts began: Oh my God, not again.

I peeled my face from the bedspread, slid onto the floor and crawled to the bathroom. I stood up, and as I looked in the mirror I stared at an image I did not recognize. Both eyes were bruised black and blue, my hair was matted in the sickness, and the eyelash I had so carefully glued to my left eyelid the night before was now hanging from my left cheek. Momentarily shocked into reality, thoughts of my life began to run like a black and white movie. I wondered what had happened to that young woman in her cheerleading outfit, her Doris Day life with her white eyelet lampshades, her wagon wheel on the front lawn and her children’s freshly polished white shoes. The blood drained from my head, and I fell to my knees by the toilet. “God, help me,” I cried.

-- Jean J.

Santa Barbara, California

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