It was Memories of Laughy Taffy Daffy God and Country Day and Mrs. Seidelbraun had a major issue: She could not manage to extricate herself from the bed. Soon Taffy Day participants would be flooding the streets, floating good spirits balloons, spewing fireworks from their mouths, doing midair acrobatics with the aid of their combat-sadness-anti-gravity-boots.
On days like this, the air turned butter it was so smooth, the sun was a creamy smear in the sky, neighbors greeted each other with kindly salutations, even those who on non Taffy Days dreamed secretly of administering unnoticeable but painful papercuts over slights, grudges, micro aggressions. People baked for their neighborhoods, the smells of sugar and pastries filled the air. There was hugging and laughing and handing out candy. And of course there was taffy pulling, greased pole climbing, pig calling. Years ago, there had been a brief memorial for The Town of Daffy Day residents who had given their lives so that everyone could be Happy, but really, that part of the day started to become both boring and super triggering. And so they made do with laying flowers on the one memorial in the town: A water feature of an upright gun holding a helmet.
Every year had become worse and worse for Mrs. Seidelbraun. The first year she recognized painful gravitations on Memories of Laughy Taffy Daffy God and Country Days, she managed to make it down the elevator of her high rise apartment, down to the street of festivals, parades, and bacchanalian frivolities. She didn’t laugh exactly but she didn’t exactly frown either. She played it off and no one was none the wiser, including Flora who managed to be offended at every affront to festivity. They had decorated a float together, full of paper flowers and young girls from a local ballet company pirouetting on tippy toe as the truck pulled them through a street raining with confetti. She even managed to eat a Happy Hot Dog beside which Mr. Happy was administering his annual contest of Happy Hot Dog Stuff Yourself Silly. She put mustard and ketchup and relish on it, a sign to Mr. Happy she was still A OK. A Good Girl though she was 40.
That was a couple of years ago. Last year, she made significantly less progress. She pushed herself up to standing in her studio apartment and slid her feet into her dilapidated old slippers and shuffled over to the window overlooking the street. Sshh shh sshh went her feet, the only noise in the apartment though the marching bands down below were beginning to warm up and people wearing the combat-sadness-anti-gravity-boots were whirring by, practicing their maneuvers in the air. Prayers were being sent up to heaven on balloons with strings of flowers attached. Prayers that said “Only happiness,” “only peace,” “no triggers,” “trigger warnings please.” “please be happy always and keep us all happy.” She knew what the slips of prayers said. She helped copy them from the Community Suggestion Book for Wellbeing. Flora would be upset with her for staying inside. She hadn’t pulled it off, getting to the street. And she was right, Flora had called the next day, upset and angry.
In a way she had been glad she wasn’t even going to have to face Flora this year, at least not on the day of the event. She would simply have to admit the truth: Her bed held her fast as mud in a deep bog. It would not release her, it had sucked her energy, her strength. When she closed her eyes she saw terrible things, she heard terrible and agonizing cries and explosions and pops. She tasted blood, dirt, gun powder, fear. And yet, she couldn’t open her eyes for long, she kept falling asleep again, or falling into visions, into nightmares or waking nightmares. She saw friends she knew bloodied and missing half of their faces, their eyes and limbs torn away, children running in the streets crying and naked. The sky was exploding and there was fire, as if this place were a very deep hell. Buildings had crumbled and were splitting, tumbling like large giants laid low, groaning in agony. She cried out but no one heard her. She had not discovered a way out. All day, she had dreamed of the past, or maybe some distant time in the future, maybe sometime soon.