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by Peter Koronakos

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Helene Simkin Jara

Difficult Life

"Self-care takes a lot of time," June said to her massage therapist. She was lying face down on his table. She couldn't see his eyes roll.

"Yes, it does."

"I mean first I went to Pilates because you know I can't live without that class.”

"No, and you shouldn't," he forced out.

He was working on her shoulders.

"Can you feel that tension?"


"I tried to make an appointment today for a facial, but that woman was leaving town for the holidays. Now, I don't know when I can get one."


“And tomorrow, did I tell you about tomorrow?"

He was working on her neck now.


"Oh, sorry. Was that too hard? "

"Yes… a bit."

He continued more gently, grinding his teeth.

"Well, tomorrow I'm going to this new place on Main Street to get a mani and a pedi. I hope to God those women speak English. Mmm… that feels good.”

"I am…glad.”

"So after that I've got to rush over and get my hair cut and colored because my hairdresser… ouch!"

"Oh… sorry."

"As I was saying… Yes, that's better…Like I was saying, my hairdresser is going to Hawaii.  Can you believe that? Just right when I need her the most!  I mean, I’m going to look simply dreadful for the Wooster’s dinner party!”

“Your hair looks good to me.”

“Do you really think so?”

“Yes.  It looks like it always does.”

“What does that mean?.....ouch!”

“Sorry, I didn’t mean anything by that.”

“Well, you do seem a bit rough today.”

“Do I?”

“Yes.  Are you in a bad mood or something?”

“Well, as a matter of fact….”

“I like it when you use that lavender oil.  It's so relaxing."

"I'll go get it. Would you like some music?"

"Hmm? Oh… Do put on some of that Indian music… You know some of that new- agey stuff. I simply adore that."

"Coming right up…"

“I’m sure one of my chakras is acting up.  Can you hear me?”

“Yes.  I can hear you.”

“Yesterday I went to a chakra cleansing and they told me that I would need to come back a few more times because they couldn’t get them all done in just one hour.”

“Oh.  Good idea.”

“You don’t sound like you mean it.”

“I do mean it.  I just hadn’t heard about Chakra cleansing is all.”

“You haven’t?  I should think someone in your field would have heard of it.  It’s been around for ages.  Ouch!  What is with you?”

“Oh, sorry.”

"My therapist told me what I really need is some physical touch, you know? She said everyone needs that. So I came in twice this week for a massage and scheduled a mani and a pedi and of course I tried to get a haircut and color. I figured that's lots of hands on my body… Should be good for… Ouch!"

“Did that hurt?"

"Why yes, it did.  You really must be in a bad mood or something.”

"Sorry…I have been having..."

"That lavender oil smells so good."

“Is this music okay?"

"Music? Oh… Yes, it's lovely… But what was I telling you before?”


"Yes before… When I asked you to get the lavender oil and you went to put on the music. You did leave me, you know.  I guess it didn't take that long, but I did feel a slight twinge of abandonment.  Deeply rooted.  Not your fault."

"Sorry. Would you like me to heat something up to warm the soles of your feet?"

“Oh, that sounds yummy.  Did I tell you about the new nail salon?”

“No, I don’t think so.”

“Are you sure?”

“Yes…I’m pretty sure…”

“Well, they give you a massage too.  Isn’t that nice?  Ouch!  Are you mad at me?”

“No, of course not.”

“Well I hope you’re not jealous about the nail salon.  I mean it’s nothing like your massage of course.  And then you speak English at least.”

“At least.”

“Are you making fun of me?”

“No, of course not.”

“You don’t sound like you mean it!  Why did you stop?  Are we done?  You usually do that kind of rubdown thingy and tell me to gently roll over to my right side and sit up slowly…..and then you bring me that marvelous tea…..hello?  Are you even listening to me?”

The massage therapist slides to the floor, weeping in strangled sobs.

June sits up and looks down at him, shocked.

“What’s wrong with you?”


He can’t speak, his head in his hands.

June gets off the massage table and gets her Gucci bag off the sofa nearby.
Digging around for her wallet, she takes out a pen, sits at his kitchen table and writes him a check.  He continues to sob on the floor.

“Here,” she says shoving the check into his hands which are covering his wet brown eyes. 

Feeling the check, he takes his hands off his eyes which widen considerably as he sees the amount.

“Thank you.  You’re too kind.”

“Whatever.  Just don’t beat me up so much next time, okay? You really seemed like you were in a terrible mood.  Not like you really.”

“Well, I..”

He looks over at her and sees that she is on her iPhone texting someone. He waits until she finishes texting.
“June,” he says as he gets back off the floor. “You were unusually tense this time.  I could feel it especially in your neck and upper back…”

“Really?” Her grey eyes enlarge and peer up at him through her recently applied lashes.

“Yes.  I think your therapist is right.  I think instead of coming in twice like you did this week, you should at least come in 4 times next week and for the next 3 weeks after that.”

“Well, if you think so.”

“I think you should do all you can to ease your tension.  And even though as you said self-care takes a lot time, you’re worth it, don’t you think?”

“Yes!  You’re so right!  I most certainly am!”




Helene Simkin Jara is an actor, director, writer and teacher. She has been published in The Porter Gulch Review, Mindprints, Nerve Cowboy, La Revista. In 2003 she won best prose in the Porter Gulch Review for her story, Josefina , again in 2009 for her play FUBMC , and again in 2007 for her monologue, Vat Means Rad? She has twice been a finalist for Glimmertrain and was nominated for a Pushcart Prize in 2007 for her poem, The Difference. She has recently self-published her first book called Because I Had To, a collection of prose, poetry, monologues and plays.

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