E has suddenly begun writing in our shared document. It feels new to me –– warm and homey.
She apologizes for forgetting the Anniversary. She completely lost track. And she seems to have no idea how much pain I went through during Thanksgiving and apologizes for this as well.
I feel as if I’ve overreacted and am ashamed for it. But also relieved.
As if she’s just newly arrived, she seems fresh and wants to talk, discuss what is happening. She ponders her role in the Sandbox and asks why she is needed.
I tell her that the Sandbox is not a novel written solo in a musty basement or dusty attic. It is not a meditation in silence but rather one that roars and shouts. The Sandbox has always been meant to be shared, and it could not have begun without her presence in its creation.
I do not want to go it alone. I can’t go it alone. If I could have done it without her, I would have.
I am a volcano erupting, forming a new world, I say. And I need all the help I can get.
As our session tonight is wrapping up, the last one before she leaves for her Christmas vacation, Eileen leans in and clasps her hands together in front of her.
She says she wants to be paid more for reading the Sandbox. Perhaps, she suggests, a certain dollar amount per page.
Of course, I say. I will come up with something.
I calculate the amount of time spent reading transcripts, apply her hourly rate and multiply.
I come up with a weekly reading fee that I will pay moving forward, and I will pay her three months retroactively, as well, for all the work she’s done.
I email Eileen my proposal, and she is beyond thrilled. She praises my level head, generosity and fair mindedness. She gushes about how adorable Monkey is when he’s not slicing her, which feels odd and out of context. Her happiness also feels foreign to me, a side I’ve never seen before, and one I’m uncertain I should be seeing.
With near immediacy she begins commenting enthusiastically in our shared space.
A faucet, I feel, has been turned on.
It is another December in the Sandbox, another lap around the track. And just like last year Eileen is gone once again on Christmas vacation but is reading the Sandbox.