Don't Look Forward
Rose Lamatt married her childhood sweetheart at age twenty, thinking it would cure her fears of insecurity and panic attacks. Instead, her panic attacks became agoraphobia.
Afraid to leave the house Rose Lamatt became a recluse, alone, encapsulated in a bubble of fear, while her husband’s business grew and her children went to school. She led a life unconnected, alone, until someone entered her small world and taught her to live. What happened next was something she never expected. Changes were thrust upon her, whether she wanted them or not. They came, having a life all their own, driven by a force other than hers. Whether they made her happy or not, was not the question. She had to live them, even though she might lose her self. Years later she became a spectator writing this book, watching her life unfold on paper.
Mom’s asked me to go to the store for spaghetti and as I close the door behind me, I feel the cool fresh air. I feel wonderful walking down Marguerite Avenue. It’s so good to be outside. Ready to cross Pelhem Avenue, I look at the hill I went sledding on when I was younger. I see myself lying on my Champion sled, feet in the sled behind me, and ten other kids joined in the train that weaved down the hill. Farther down, always in the same spot, a large puddle has formed from last nights rain. I remember skipping flat rocks across it, and another memory when I threw a rock that hit my best friend in the head. ‘You’ll be all right,’ I told Betty, even though I couldn’t stop the blood running down her face. She ran home. I ran the other way, to Bernie’s candy store. I sat at the counter thinking, what do I do now? I’ll run away, that’s it, when brother Marc came in shaking his finger at me, “Dad’s going to kill you. You better get home now!” He looked at me, “well, aren’t you coming?”
He shook his head, walked out, and hopped on his bike. I sat at the counter thinking where I’d run to. Montana. Cowboy country. Like in the movies, I’d ride my horse into the sunset, be a cowgirl. Time passed, don’t remember how much, but later I walked slowly home, scared. If I’d had a tail, it would have been between my legs.
Dad met me at the door, yelling. Before I could say anything, we were running around the coffee table, me keeping out of his reach. It was summer and windows were open. Betty’s mother came to my rescue. She told my father it wasn’t my fault, that it had been an accident and her daughter was fine after five stitches. Dad looked at me, not saying, ‘You’re off the hook for now’.
Turning onto Hempstead Turnpike, I pass the butcher shop, remembering when Mom sent me for soups bones. The butcher gave me large chunks of bologna to snack on for my walks back home. I pass Bernie’s candy store, where everyone gathered after a day at Elmont Road elementary school. Sitting at the counter I’d watch Bernie make chocolate egg cream sodas for me. He was a nice Jewish man, always asked how I was doing in school and I’d say, good. On the same side of the street is the Drug Store, where Paul and Marc work. The grocer is last on the block, right before Belmont Racetrack, where I peeked through the fence to watch horses exercise. Across the street stands the movie theater where I spent Saturday afternoons, two shows for $.25. On this street I took the bus and subway to New York City for ice skating or go to a museum. I have good memories of Elmont, Long Island.
Entering the grocery store, I’m tired and go straight to the spaghetti isle. Reaching up for a box of number 9, I feel a thump in my chest.
The thump comes again and then again, hard to breathe. What’s wrong? I hold my chest along with the blue box. Why is my heart beating so fast, like running a race. It’s skipping beats, everything’s blurry.
Heading to the check out counter, two women in front of me are chatting with the clerk. One saying how much she likes the new brand of coffee, the other agrees.
Why can’t they hurry up. I’m in trouble. I’m going to pass out. Everything’s spinning. The pounding won’t stop. Am I having a heart attack? Perspiration drips from my head onto my neck.
“Miss? Miss, Is that it?”
The register bell brings me back.
Staring at the clerk, dazed, I answer, “Uh…yes, that’s it.”
I pay him, then stick the change in the pocket of my jeans. I’m suffocating. I hurry outside, breaking into a run—not taking notice of the stores along the way.
Rounding the corner, I see the house. It’s so far. Pounding is in my ears. An image of me sick, back in bed, dying, comes.