Carolyn Ziel
3 min readJun 25, 2022

This morning, I woke up at 4:22. Too early. At least I stuck to my news diet. Instead of tuning into Mika & Joe on my Sirius XM app, I listened to an Insight Timer meditation. I closed my eyes and I breathed. But by 5:30am I lost my willpower and broke my diet.

I’ve been broken and lost for a while now. I went missing November 8th 2016. It was election night and Bill’s birthday. We were eating dinner at Shade in Redondo Beach. We were seated on the patio, facing the harbor, but we kept looking over at the television in the bar. I lost all hope during the oysters. After dinner we went home, turned on the TV and watched until we couldn’t watch any longer.

That year was the first time in 11 years we didn’t host Thanksgiving. Only because the next day we left on a cruise through the Panama Canal with Bill’s aunt, uncle and father, Ed. We weren’t thrilled with the way Ed had voted, but back then, although curious and even a little resentful, we could agree to disagree.

One night on the cruise the subject came up. We were walking around deck 7 with Ed. We did that every night, walk around deck 7. Bill’s aunt and uncle were a lap behind, so we stopped at the stern to wait.

“Who knows,” Bill said, “he may do good things.”

“He’ll be fine,” Ed said. “He can run a business, he’ll run the country just fine.”

I wanted him to be right. I wanted the president to succeed. I wanted all the thoughts screeching around in my head to be wrong.

“What about health care?” I said. “And education and the environment and women’s rights?”

“I don’t care,” he said.

The scene was illuminated by the stern light’s white glow, the American flag flapping and snapping in the wind on the deck below. The ocean wake roiling thick foam up from under the ship, disappearing into the black-night ocean. Ed was standing to my right, leaning on the thick wooden railing, Bill was on my left. I was struggling with my pony tail tie, trying to pull my hair back from flying and flicking in my face. My white skirt was flapping and wrapping around my thighs. I didn’t understand and I was angry that my father-in-law didn’t care. That he thought nothing would change. Things had already changed. My fear was pushing up from under my anger, jagged and sour, pulling up spiky tears with it, up and up, and I was fighting them off. Trying not to cry was exhausting.

I looked out past the American flag and the white churn searching the horizon for something other than dark.

“Stop worrying,” Ed said. “You’ll be fine.”

Bill and I stopped talking about the president with Ed a long time ago. So did the rest of the family. And yeah, Ed was right, I am fine. Like that year, this year we’re not hosting Thanksgiving either. So yeah, I guess my life hasn’t changed that much.

Previously Published in Side-Eye On The Apocalypse An Anthology of Prose and Poetry from 2020; Los Angeles Poets & Writers Collective

Carolyn Ziel

Writer, Teacher, Coach. I can guarantee that after working with me you WILL BE a better writer. Join 1 of my classes—Adventures in Writing.