On a Clear Day (or daydream?), You Can See Clarissa

It’s probably the prettiest day we’ve had all year. The sun is streaming through my patio doors and the sky is wearing light blue, dotted with really diaphanous cloud diamonds. But I sit in a dark fog inside. I had shamefully confessed to my professor earlier this morning that I was “catching it” with my book report on Leah Price’s The Anthology and the Rise of the Novel. I had been struggling with the book for days, without a break through. I complained that the book is dense and the sentence structure difficult. To add insult to injury, some of the terms are not even in the dictionary, especially the French ones. “Whine, whine, whine.”  I’m still sighing, as I look up. I see her, clear as day. It has to be, Clarissa.

She just floats into the room through the patio doors wearing a bright yellow silk gown and a bright smile. She settles serenely into a seat next to me like the sunlight. Startled, I say, “Where did you come from? I thought I was done with your author, Richardson. I finished Pamela.”

“Yes, but you didn’t even think about me. I am his best heroine. Leah writes about me,” She says.

“Yeah…. Like Leah writes about a gazzillion characters and a gazzillion authors and a gazzillion forms of writing. That’s my problem. What am I supposed to do with all of this? I only have so much time and I have many more deadlines,” I still whine.

“Look,” Clarissa, says. “It’s a beautiful day. It’s a clear day. Let’s go for a ride.”

“Are you crazy?” I answer (not realizing that I should be asking myself that question – talking to ghosts and all). “Can’t you see how hard I’m struggling away here, and you want to take off on a ride? Where are we going?” I demand.

Clarissa flips a dangling curl to the side, “To the library, Silly.”

“OK…I guess I do need a break right now and I know I really need a friend right now, even an imaginary one,” I comply.

On the way, we chat quite a bit about Leah’s work. Clarissa quips, “You know, just because Leah won her doctorate based on that dissertation turned book, and just because she teaches at Harvard, doesn’t mean you have to be intimidated into reporting on everything she wrote, Silly. Haven’t you been reading about anthologizing, abridging and editing?”

“Oh, yeah, I’m an ‘anthologist,’ too,” I realize.

“Duhhhh….” Clarissa teases and teaches me.

At the circulation desk, I turn in a batch of books. I figure that, just in case Clarissa is leading me down a blind alley, at least the trip will count for something. Then Clarissa leads me to the stacks of Richardson books. We see theory, criticism, indexes, biographies, correspondence and of course, her novel. We leave the library with bags of books in hand, including her novel. Even though the sun is still shinning, the day is still glowing, we are still eager to get back to my home…to my desk….to a shock…

“Clarissa, where did I put my copy of Leah’s Anthology?” I ask.

“Silly, Silly, Silly…You threw that book in with the rest at the circulation desk!” Clarissa says, and makes a most confident exit, as if her work is done.

Oh, no!!!….The very real danger of my over-active imagination on a dream day like today…..


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