There’s One Thing I Know for Sure

One of our newest writer’s group members has volunteered to share a piece from Thursday’s session. It’s been a while since I’ve posted more than one story, by more than one writer. So here you are, I hope you enjoy both her piece and my own.

By Diane Elizabeth Hill

There’s one thing I know for sure,” Oprah said, leaning forward on her white couch in the centre of the enormous stage.

She paused for effect then said, her voice rising with each word: “You all MATTER!”

In response, ten thousand women leap to their feet, screaming and clapping. The roar was deafening in the huge auditorium.

“Christ, it’s like some kind of religious cult,” Julia thought, still planted grimly in her seat.

Her sister Sheila was ecstatic, waving her arms and yelling along with the rest of them. She was actually jumping up and down. Sheila was an accountant; Julia didn’t think she’d ever seen her jump up and down, even as a kid.

Sheila had always been the serious one, the one who obeyed their parents and did her homework on time. Julia had hung out behind the high school at night, drinking lemon gin, smoking drugs, and having sex in the parking lot.

So you’d think Julia would now be the one looking to heal, looking for enlightenment, trying to “open to the now” like Oprah said they should. Instead, she had become brisk and practical in middle age, settling into a career in retail management and trying to pay off her mortgage before she hit fifty. Meanwhile, Sheila was meditating regularly and going on vision quests with “spiritual leaders” who Julia suspected of being untrustworthy frauds.

The event was over. Women started gathering their things, packing away their water bottles, wiping away final tears of joy. “She is a GODDESS!” someone yelled from a few rows over; several women whooped in response. Someone else shouted: “Oprah for President!” and a self-conscious cheer arose but quickly died out, quashed by the belated realization that it wasn’t okay to presume what Oprah might want.

“So what did you think?” asked Sheila. “Aren’t you glad you came? Wasn’t that amazing? I feel so powerful!” She pumped her arms in the air again.

“Yeah, that was really something,” Julia said, trying to sound enthusiastic. She knew Sheila meant well and it really had been a generous birthday gift—the tickets must have cost her a fortune.

“It’s just amazing to think how she started compared to where she is now,” Sheila went on, not even listening. “The TV network, the house in Hawaii. It’s all about INTENTION. I just need to get clearer on my INTENTION.”

Julia’s only intention was to get out of this crowd, find her car in that godawful 5-storey parking garage, get out of downtown, get back home to her quiet house by the park, open a beer, and then sit in her garden with the dog, listening to the crickets.

Instead, she turned to her sister: “Why, don’t you feel clear?” she asked Sheila. “Don’t you know what you want?”

Sheila looked at her like she was mad.

“Don’t tell me you’re satisfied with your life because I don’t believe it. Working in that office? In retail?” She made a face. “You must want more than that, surely. You must want to feel some kind of purpose. You have to have meaning in life otherwise it’s all just unbearable.”

Julia thought this conversation was unbearable, but just pressed her lips together.

She looked at the mass of bodies in front of her: they’d only moved about ten feet. She sighed, judging that her beer and the crickets were still at least an hour away.

They shuffled forward, headed slowly towards the exit and the last of the evening light.


By Genevieve Clovis

“I just can’t seem to get myself together.” Amelia said resting her head in her hand and staring despondently at the table. “I want to feel better, I want to be happy and energized, but I just can’t get there. I’ve tried everything.” She paused and rubbed her face, then stared across the table at Beth. Amelia’s eyes were wide as if she was over tired but trying hard to stay awake.

Beth drew in a long breath through her nose. As she let it out, her shoulders straightened and she leaned forward slightly. “There’s one thing I know for sure,” she said softly.

“Oh yeah?” Amelia asked scooting her chair so close to the table that it pressed into her ribs.

Beth nodded her face solemn. “You definitely have not tried everything. In fact the only thing you have tried is complaining for months on end, and apparently it’s not working. You should try something new.”

The light that had briefly shone in Amelia’s eyes went out and she slumped back. Her expression shifted from hurt and helpless to angry and back again. “You don’t know,” she pouted but didn’t manage to put any feeling behind the words.

“I do know,” Beth said so matter-of-factly that Amelia believed her.

Amelia scowled as if mustering her anger from somewhere deep inside. She opened her mouth to refute Beth’s claim, but Beth held up a hand and silenced her.

“This is a tired conversation and I will not have it again. I can’t fix your porblems for you, and if you won’t get off your ass even to help yourself I don’t much see the point of continuing this friendship.”

Amelia’s mouth dropped and struggled to find something to say. But then Beth cracked a grin and started laughing.