Why did things seem so complicated now, Jeanie asked herself. When she was younger and couldn’t sleep at night she used to dream of living in a different time. She would imagine growing up in the 1940’s, when her parents were her age. She’d imagine herself blowing kisses to her soldier husband, and then join the work force at the factory making bullets for her husband’s machine gun.
Other days she’d slip back farther, to the frontier days. She’d imagine herself living as a captive among Indians, and finding that they weren’t so savage after all. She’d try to explain this to the white men, but no one would listen and she would valiantly die trying to explain that the savage people who had become her people really weren’t so savage. But the savage white men wouldn’t listen, and Jeanie would fall in the midst of the battle.
Once when her fifth grade class was studying the era Jeanie imagined she was a religious refugee, escaping intolerant Europe for a new life or religious freedom in the colonies. She imagined herself enduring harsh winters and going with half portions so her children wouldn’t starve.
When Jeanie entered high school her late night imaginings came less and less often, but every now and then she’d let herself drift away to a distant time when she could be someone else. In that other time she always found a way to persevere, like the heroine of a Hollywood movie.
As she sat in the rocking chair her mother once rocked her to sleep in, Jeanie wished she could imagine herself a solution to her current dilemma. Somehow her life hadn’t been as valiant as she was in those distant times. She wasn’t the hero. She didn’t even have the chance to be the hero. If the opportunity arose she didn’t even know if she could be the hero.
For now she was just the victim. The victim of a million apathetic actions, the victim of too many people too concerned with themselves. And the victim rocked quietly, wishing someone would be her hero.