Week 16- Heather Ouellette-Cygan

Posted: July 18, 2011 in Heather Ouellette-Cygan, Week 16

Unfinished Business

A somehow familiar, female voice whispers, “Don’t be afraid.”

I am. Who’s in my room?

“I know you’re awake. You’ve stopped snoring. So, listen.”

I do.

“Why didn’t you go to California?” she asks from the darkness.

I twist uncomfortably in my sheets. It’s summer. The fan blasts the warm and humid air around the room. I’m too afraid to even stir enough to wake up Doug.

“I’ve been waiting for 20 years, and you’ve never left. Everybody else went as planned. Why not you?”

I realize why the voice is familiar yet strange.

“I was afraid,” I finally speak.

“Of what?”

“Of what would happen, or not happen, I guess.

Now, I’m no longer afraid, but annoyed. Why is regret in my room at four a.m.? I have to get up for school in just one hour.

“Well, you know what happened when you didn’t go?”

“No. What?”

“You’ll never know. Will you?”

“No. I suppose that’s true-“

Regret interrupts, “Of course it’s true. A missed opportunity is missed forever. Why did you listen to fear?”

“I listened to fear more often, too often, back then.”


“I didn’t know about the ‘rocking chair test’ yet.”


“The rocking chair test. You know when you imagine yourself as an old woman, sitting on your front porch, rocking and looking back on your life. What you did and did not do because of fear.”

“Oh. How has this helped you not be afraid?”

“I’m still afraid. At first. But now I try to stop that voice that reminds me of what could go wrong. Shut her up, but I didn’t know how to do that – or that it was even possible when I was 18. Why would I have?”

“So, experience has helped you to shut it up?”

“Yes, that’s right.”

“So, where are you going now?”



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