Close Enough to Touch
by Colleen Oakley
I didn’t wake up one morning and think: ‘I’m going to become a recluse.’ I don’t even like the word ‘recluse.’ It reminds me of that deadly spider just lying in wait to sink its venom into the next creature that crosses its path.
I hate when people self-diagnose. I watched my mom do it for years – she had everything from rabies (even though she’d never been bitten by an animal) to Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease to syphilis (although, in retrospect, that diagnosis wouldn’t have been exactly surprising).
I don’t know why I’m so drawn to her. She’s beautiful, yes, but it’s more than that. There’s something different about her – how she’s guarded yet completely vulnerable at the same time. She’s like a Rubik’s Cube that I find myself eager to sort into a pattern that makes sense. Or maybe I’m eager to sort out why I keep thinking of her. I don’t know. I’ve never met anyone quite like her. And I was never good at Rubik’s Cubes.
Is there a proper way to grieve? Step-by-step instructions? I thought you just cried a bit and got on with it. My mind flashes to the day I came home from school as a kid and my gerbil Alvin was lying in his cage, unmoving. ‘Chin up,’ my mom said. ‘Life goes on.’ I just remember thinking: Not for Alvin.
Close Enough To Touch provided a highly intriguing premise and the most vividly peculiar cast of characters (primary, secondary and tertiary) that I can ever recall. I was fascinated and reveled in the introduction of each and every one of them and the levity their cleverly described attributes, mannerisms, and nicknames provided. Each quirky character was every kind of odd, but Jubilee and Aja were the most eccentric. Jubilee was emotionally stunted and immature, as well as medically challenged; and to my consternation, she was often a shrew towards the precious yet clueless Eric – whom I adored above all others. The storyline was intriguing, ingenious, entertaining and full of feels. Ms. Oakley’s writing was highly amusing, engaging, and loaded with ironic inner musings, keen insights, heart-squeezes, wry observations, and witty banter that kept me smirking and easily annoyed if interrupted. It was superb.