I started writing this many years ago when I joned an online writing group. I thought I'd share it here.
Thick black crust coated the inside of the chimney up to, and past the open damper. A pile of newspapers made a sloppy mess in the near corner. Dust layered across the entire surface from lack of cleaning. The house had been neglected for over a year, as my body hid from the world; swallowed up with loneliness. Crackling wood heated this piteous woman,who was afraid to look people in the eye. Fear of judgement had scared away the courage that once made people smile and admire. Wrinkled smoke-stained curtains and chipped white paint on the wall mocked me. All the time in the world can't make a sad dwelling happy. And all the hiding behind locked doors won't ever get a story written that needs to be told.
The poker, now in my strongest arm, emptied the mantle in one full swing. All that remained were various shapes on the dusty surface. Glass shattered as trinkets kissed the room in fury. On the floor, in pieces, was the Eskimo doll from Alaska. He had handled it so gently when he brought it home; not smothering it, like he did when he held me.How wonderful it must have felt to be touched with such delicate care, and left alone to enjoy the surroundings without having to worry about doing the wrong thing and being judged.
"Bitch!" The single word echoed through the empty house, only to be replaced by more silence and tears. Two feet in front of me lie grandpas' picture. Quickly, I ran to it and cuddled it in my arms. "Grandpa! I am so sorry! " The broken frame cradled against my chest, and splinters of glass drove their way into shaking hands that wanted so desperately to tell their story. It was time for mourning lost people, and failing relationships.
After wiping away the tears with my bleeding hand, the photo was replaced on the mantle, all alone, like a symbol. The eyes that looked back at me were now holders of secrets that wanted out. Now they had also become colorless windows set in dark shallow pockets to the soul. His eyes became my eyes without the rage. His smile became a lifting power that brought me slowly back to reality at which I was trying so hard to avoid. Hands needed bandages now, and class was starting.
I had been attending writing class for only a few days now, and still felt a little uncomfortable when we convened. The teacher, reached far into my mind and read hidden thoughts. They were so true,his words, sometimes causing me to wince in embarrassment. For thirty years evil dreams had been pushed away, and sinister ones were twisted to seem more appealing. I remembered watching cartoons at an early age. In one particular one, when all of the little piggies were strapped to the conveyor belt I wanted to be confined right along side of them. A yearning for the return of that feeling became a drive for my search of passion and control.
A deep ache had aroused me back then, and it had stayed with me all these years. It was like a thorn in the middle of my back unreachable, and unable to ask for help. Time was beginning to gingerly unweave my cluttered mind without my permission and it scared me and stimulated me at the same time. In class fingers twirled in blonde hair while deciphering words on the screen. Scribbling ideas on tablets. He would smile gently, as he always did, and rise from his chair to signal the end of class. "Next week we'll talk more about anger," he said as he left. My poorly bandaged hands ached at that moment.
In my small bathroom, hidden behind the locked door, wounds were freed and stared at. These were the same hands that had zealously gathered blackberries with my grandpa and had been toughened by the hard labor. My "giftly tools". Nightly baths would soften my tender tips so that the morning sun could take me back to my grandpa’s side in the garden. Helping on the farm had prepared me early for disappointment, as well as the importance of patience.
"But grandpa, you said it would grow! You promised!" I stammered with shaking lips and wrinkled brows. Blonde curls stuck to my forehead from my sweaty attempt to be a tree grower. Eyes searched the two foot tree that had been watched daily for weeks, then up at my grandpa's face to wait for his answer. His callused hand rested on my shoulder and he was close enough for me to smell his hard working body.
"Listen,Little One." And he stayed quiet like he always did when he wanted to be sure that he was being heard. "You have the seed, right?" Eyes stayed focused on the ground. My head nodded in agreement. "And I gave you the tools, correct?" A sigh and another nod. "The rest is up to you. It won't be 'your' tree unless you do the work. And it won't grow overnight."My young body slumped in realization that even if my grandpa did have a secret tree growing method, he wasn't sharing it with me. He didn't hear my final words that day because I had whispered them just low enough so that he couldn't.
We all have secrets, grandpa."
Soaking in the bathtub gave me the opportunity to consider how to explain the broken Eskimo doll and other tokens of love that had been so selfishly ruined. My husband mustn't know of these occasional bursts of anger. Impulsive behavior can be such a troublesome characteristic sometimes. It can make you do things that aren't wise. Submerged under water, surrounded by lilac scented bubbles, the buzzing sound of the exhaust fan dared me to think back in time. It seemed to lie in wait, the revisiting memory, hovering until the moment seemed just weak enough to do the most damage.
The summer of 72' was very hot. Air conditioners ran nonstop. Children slept in thin underclothes and seldom used blankets. There was one young blonde haired girl who always covered up and probably always would, because it kept her a tad bit more protected. Late at night somebody entered the room, closed the door, and inched towards her bed .Childhood dreams rolled smoothly through an innocent smart mind until they were roughly intruded by the presence of another person. A smell of Oreo cookies and Kool-Aid was strong enough to kill any appetite that may have been there. Eyes shut tight with hope of erasing what was happening, and fingers clenched the sheet around the frail outline of a virgin. Sadly, this only made the target easier to reach. Tears slowly slid down youthful cheeks and legs became rigid with fear. I was on the outside looking in.
"Shhhh", he whispered hoarsely while sending more disturbing smells into the spinning room. His undeveloped body awkwardly rocked on top of the sheer material repeatedly, confusing the concept between right and wrong. When the grinding ended, a small wet spot marked the area of invasion, and became a haunting stain. It wasn't ok what he was doing, but begging words never seemed to matter. All of the squeaking noises and small pleas whimpered into the night air went unanswered. Unsure of why this happened, but so fearful that it was her fault, she remained quiet. It continued. My mind played age old games with itself. What is the difference between a secret and a lie? There is such a fine line to skip back and forth over.
The constant sound of the dripping faucet soothed my thoughts and I found myself back in the comfort of my home. While reaching for a towel, a stream of light slipped through the pale apple green curtains and down on my wedding ring. It glimmered hope and assured me that love can turn my ragged notes into a story.
For years writing had pacified me, letting me venture to the depths of my inner most self. Crawling inside of my computer gave me satisfaction. My reflection stared back at me. Described in one syllable, plain; that's what I saw. A vessel of unexplored passion standing alone. If only my body could write. What a remarkable book that would be. Outside my house, where the birds flew frantically and the dirt claimed my driveway, there had to be somebody waiting to read my words.
White body, draped by a maroon beach size towel, on a bed, pretending it was the purple flowered canopy saved mostly for special dreams. Soft satin comforter pressed perfectly under bent knees, in the crevice of cradling arms, and against the dangerously tender edge of the neck, just below the right ear and back an inch. If there were one particular area to torture, whether teasingly or otherwise, this would surely be the spot. A manuscript is to be written from toes that curl over instead of under like everybody else's. Scribbles of desire, always knowing the right curves and swirls to create edible words for the mind to devour. Ankles strong enough to carry life stories, compacted as tight as possible. Legs of power. Wrestling on the living room floor with brothers had given strength to limbs so weak at birth. Hips, circling Gods gifts to this woman, that allowed children to be brought into this world. A torso that moves like warm syrup on a Sunday morning brunch. A book in itself how it speaks with courage. So proud to be female. Smiles from past endeavors,present accomplishments, and the many chimerical untold tales that cavort through the mind of a dreamer.
Summers with my grandparents were full of precious moments. Watching hummingbirds and black squirrels with grandma while hanging out the clothes she whispered into my ear. "He won't ask ya. You gotta hitch a ride on his back pocket or you'll never get there." Walking away, with a sly shadow on his tail, grandpa shuffled. The superannuated gray tackle box in his left hand had to be held tightly against him and was actually more in his arm then in his hand. It should have been discarded, and in fact was replaced many times over; each new one now sitting its it own place on the shelf above his bed, waiting like children had done for years, to go fishing with a wise man. The soft skin on my grandmas face when I kissed her made me almost want to stay back and keep her company. Her nudge convinced me that it was now time to take this walk past the watering hole, over barbed wire fences, farther then the Weeping Willow tree, to the pond.
"Wait for me grandpa," The squeaky voice of a child slowed his walk. A man of few words, he spoke volumes with his blue eyes and his crooked smile. His mustache seemed to always show a hint of Copenhagen. You must be careful where you step sometimes. The way his face danced when he snored told a story. Watching his movements was learning. Soaking in the ways of an old man. Catharsis, even for a young girl.He taught me how to stay quiet when the fish were biting just by the arch of his right eyebrow. We caught Catfish; dark gray, oval shaped mouth, sharp spines that will sting you, with a tough skin that you have to peel back with pliers. Carried home in a green bucket with a broken lid.
He kicked a gray pebble across the road so that it scooted right up against my uncovered toes. Five steps later there came another at my tender foot. The stone game. With his booted foot he cast the perfect returnable rock morsel. So eager to play, precaution was set aside, and a piece of glass darted into the child's soft skin.
"Grandpa, I'm bleeding." He stepped away as if he hadn't heard, delegating yet another gray one. His great strides caused a gap to separate us. " You know I don't have shoes on." A sad pause entered the air as my sounds became more like whispers. " I'm really bleeding here grandpa."
With a quick judgement look over his shoulder he spoke. "A good soldier is always prepared." Water sloshed inside of bucket and the stringer slapped an annoying sound up against the tackle box while he moved further and further away. I called out to him.
"But grandpa, I'm only a little girl!" The more distant he became, the louder the words. "I'm not a soldier! I'll never be a soldier!" His abrupt turn made a little body seem even smaller. The space between us narrowed as the old man returned and knelt down on the winding road, and lifted his granddaughter's chin.
"You can be anything that you want to be,Little One. Anything at all." He smiled like his wife had just served him his favorite meal, reached inside his pocket to pull out a Band-Aid, and kissed where the dirt had not yet covered on my forehead.
"I have an idea. How about if you give me one of your boots?" The stone game would always be special to me all because of the look that he gave me just then.
He grinned and walked away, talking out loud. " Yup, you can be anything. Maybe you'll write a story someday, Little One." He had convinced me of it back then, and wandered into my thoughts once again to remind me. "You can even write about me ," he said, and he had chuckled for sixty seconds straight. His laugh told me that he didn't want me to tell about his red pajamas that he wore and his fluffy slippers, but the twinkle in his eye told me that he also hoped that I would.