It was a day of bad – jangled nerves and threatened tears. Too much hurry and what’s the rush? Short, hot tempers. And nothing went right. And the wrong sunk down to my bones and into my blood.
And when the message came I was alone. In a dark night that wept rain, leaving everything slick and oily with grief. And before she answered the phone I knew he was dead. I only called to ask why?
I was wearing a flower in my hair the night I fell in love for the first time. I, in my Audrey Hepburn yellow dress and brand new shoes. He, tall and blue-eyed – and oh-so-handsome. Everyone said I looked older than my fourteen years. And maybe I did with my french twisted hair, tucked with a yellow rose – my rouged lips and mascara’d lashes.
The big hall echoed with country songs, mumbles and shuffling feet. And I didn’t know where to put my eyes or rest my hands. What to say or how to act. So shy was I that I was there to watch as everyone else had fun. My hormones wouldn’t let me smile or feel at ease.
But there he was, hand outstretched. Smiling. “Me?” He took my hand and I floated to my feet. My lock-kneed legs followed his lead and I didn’t dare look at him or else I might die on the spot. I kept my flushed face poised to the floor. He talked and I listened. And then the dance ended.
I used to laugh at the losers hovering outside the dollar store begging for change. “Get a job,” I muttered and never saw the person.
I used to complain when the shopping cart bridgade made early morning raids on the recyle bins—rummaging for dented cans and plastic bottles.
I used to think it could never happen to me – I was too smart, too talented and too connected.
I used to blow money on things I didn’t need or even want. But because I could – I deserved them – I could always get more money next week…
I used to throw away food because it didn’t look good, wasn’t the right color or cooked the way I liked it.
I used to go out with friends for drinks, cover charges and food we didn’t eat so some guy might ask for my phone number.
I used to be rude because I didn’t need help – I could take care of myself and I wasn’t a slacker or a moocher.
it all fell to shit
I had nothing and no one
Pride stopped deciding
what work I would do
what food I would eat
It was the worst thing that ever happened to me and and yet somehow the best.
Christine is kicking her can
Clancy’s can is rolling…
The computer hums and snickers a nag like clanging spoons upon my beloved soup pot. And it cries, “Pay attention to me!”
But I refuse my electro-taskMaster and languish over recycled morning coffee. At the window, the last vestige of daylight offers itself and chittering birds, fluff for sleep.
The ice cream truck chirps its incongrous tune then fades fast into the still of nightfall. Spaghetti sauce simmers on the stove and my ‘thank-God-it’s-the-end-of-the-work-day’ cigarette plumes with more grace than I can muster. (Oh, my aching back and throbbing feet.) Tells my brain: Relax – Stop thinking – Give it a rest.
Emails and obligations await. Dust bunnies conspire to ambush. And that laundry is not going to put itself away. (Damn it.)
Still, I stick. Watch the final light fade and fold into the night sky.
Home. It’s good to bE.
What’s clanging Christine’s spoon?
Welcome to my world. It’s rather sparse, actually and perhaps surprisingly. I’m not sure what inspired me to come up with this prompt – maybe because I’d recently heard the song by the same title. A pretty song, one I always liked. Or maybe it was just a brain fart because you see, I’ve been thinking about this for days and I honestly don’t know what it would be like if I ruled the world.
In fact, I’m not at all sure that I would want to rule the world. I’m not that power hungry or ambitious or motivated or whatever it is you need to be to want to rule the world. To want to determine the fate of every man, woman and child that inhabit this dusty, sorry excuse for a planet that we have here.
Maybe I should have said my hope for the world, because I have many. I hope that we can learn to live together. So much so that we don’t need someone to rule the world. So much so that there aren’t ambitious, power-hungry meglamaniacs who want to fill that need around every corner. That we can evolve as sentient beings who can live together through cooperation, empathy and understanding.
That we can get to a place where we don’t have to perpetrate hatred on another in order to feel good. That we don’t have to win so another can lose. That we don’t have to force others to see it our way so we can have our own way. That we can find a way to love our fellows despite any reasons we shouldn’t. That we answer adversity with understanding and use might sparingly and rarely.
That we could find new, better games to play in the playing field of life. Ones that reap amazing art, wonderous music and incredible advances that lift us all up. That we could not all be one, like a bunch of robots dancing to the same tune, but be ourselves and discover all the wonderful things about ourselves that we can offer to the world and ourselves.
So…if I ruled the world I would want to rule a world that didn’t need me to rule it. And then I would go play and leave the throne to the dust bunnies and spider webs.
What kind of world does Christine rule?
Sally dug in her garden and reveled in the scent that filled her nostrils. She felt the pulse of the earth as the loamy soil sifted through her fingers. The heat of the sun sunk deep into Sally’s bones and rested there like the arm of an old friend. Her old straw hat cast a floppy shadow as the still nimble hands worked their magic – it would be her best garden yet.
A flutter to her left drew Sally’s eyes up. A bluebird, a jay, perched on the garden wall and pretended not to be there. Birds often perched on that wall and ignored her while being intensely interested in her activities but this bird was different.
Its brilliant blue feathers sparkled in bright morning shine and a memory from Sally’s long ago lilted by. “Blue eyes…the brightest blue eyes,” she said aloud and the Jay cocked its head as though to listen harder.
Sally hadn’t thought of Will for a long while – it had been forever since her life had included him. But now he was there and palpable. His laugh. His crooked grin and the blonde hair that always fell in his eyes. Her heart fluttered like a young girl on her way to a first school dance. How she had loved him and the old sycamore that brought them together. They laughed about everything. They danced under the moon and wished upon stars that shone only for them. At times, they were one soul, one heart, one mind. Sally sat in the memory for a long moment and listened to the music that was their life and she smiled.
The jay squawked and took flight and Sally came back to her garden – the blue of the sky was all that remained.
The beach house was Tanya’s dream and her escape. Whenever life got to be too much Tanya traveled there in her mind and sat in the sun, digging her feet into the warm sand. She reveled in the heat that soaked into her bones and made her glow with serenity.
But then a gunshot sounded and fear returned again. Sometimes Tanya sat on the floor, so she could duck in a hurry if she had to. Sometimes she had to. “When I grow up, I’m gonna to live at the beach. I’m gonna to live where it’s always summer,” she told herself and anyone who would listen.
“Oh hush, child,” her mama would say. “Ain’t no way you can afford to live at the beach.”
Tanya was not daunted by her mama’s doubts but rather emboldened by them. “Am too!” She stamped her little foot and crossed her arms tightly across her bony chest. “I’m gonna get a job and get lots of money and buy me a beach house.” Tanya pulled out one of her hundreds of drawings of the beach house that dwelled in her mind and waved it at her mama. “See here? This is my house.”
But her mama was too busy making dinner and worrying about grown up things. Too busy making that crease in her forehead deeper than it was the day before. Too busy sewing on buttons and patches to clothes that should have been sent to the ragbag long ago. Too busy to duck when the shot sounded.
Tanya waited a long minute before she stuck her head out to see if it was safe. “Mama?” But the house was too quiet for voices to intrude. “Mama?” Tanya’s own voice scared her a little and she felt a tremble start up her foot then race to her chest. She still held the crayon drawing in her hand and the fist she made destroyed it without Tanya’s notice. “Mama?”
A ragged sigh cut through the air like a scissors through construction paper and Tanya saw her mama then. On the floor. Her chest barely raised as she struggled to take in breath. “Ttttanyaaaa…” was all that came out. The blood that oozed was like a cardinal halo that circled her mama’s head and fanned out in surprising and beautiful patterns.
Tanya went to her mama and sat down on the floor beside her. She smoothed out the drawing that had crumpled in her clenched fist and showed it to her mama. “See here, this is the beach house. Our beach house. We live here, Mama. And the sun always shines and keeps you warm and safe. You go there now and rest, Mama. I made it for you. I made it for you so you could always be warm.”
Mama reached for the drawing and pulled it to her chest. She nodded to Tanya and smiled but tears were running down her face like rain on a window glass.
“Ssshhh,” Tanya whispered to her mama, ‘you sleep now. Can you hear the waves telling you to sleep?” Tanya pulled a blanket from the old brown couch and dragged it over to her mama and covered her with it. “Sssshhh,” she cooed.
Then a shot sounded and Tanya didn’t duck. Instead she slept too with her mama and together they went to their beach house and reveled in the eternal summer.
At last, I sent my final breath into the atmosphere and I was free. The smell of antiseptic and the squeak of rubber-soled shoes couldn’t touch me anymore. And the colors of the stars were foreign sparklings in the sky that loved me.
I was a child again, teeming with energy and bright ideas. The world a playground and no longer a prison of tubes and pain killers, lethargy and waiting.
All the thoughts and concerns I’d not been able to voice at the end vanished and I couldn’t remember what the worry was in the first place.
Did you know that the moon does look like swiss cheese, close up?
Giddy with freedom and panoramic vision, I turned sommersaults in rarefied air. Giggling so much that if I’d still been stuck in that meatball of a body another drug for hysteria would have been prescribed.
But something pulled me back like flowers to the sun and I found myself hovering once again, in that familiar chamber of death. My lifeless body a curiosity – how shriveled and pale it had become. I felt no longing to return to it. Oh, but a longing I did feel. She was there. My bright girl, a huddle of tears and regrets. “Oh Daddy!”
“It’s okay, Kate,” I whispered in her ear but she could not hear me.
“What will I do without you?” she clutched the white, cold hand that was once mine.
“You’ll go on. You’ll get out of this hell-hole and see that life is out there, waiting for you, my darling girl.”
The nurse tried to pry Kate loose from the hospital bed and that sad room that tried to be happy with flowers and crayon drawings from the grand kids, family photographs, cards and boxes of chocolates dressed in gold lacy bows but never eaten. “Get away from me! I won’t leave him,” Kate threw off the woman’s hands.
Kate always had a fearsome streak that could wilt the steeliest of wills. The squeaky shoes hightailed it out of the room and enclosed Kate in my living tomb and I ached to release her from her chains. “You have to let go, dear,” I whispered again. “It’s time to let me go.”
Kate lasered a sharp look at my still body.
“That’s right, I’m here,” I said a little louder.
Alert mahogany eyes scanned the room. “Who is that?” she rasped.
She could hear me but would she listen? “It’s me, honey.”
More darting eyes, tears rose and threatened to spill over. “Daddy? Where are you?”
“I am in the ether and next to you. I am free. I’m in the air that you breathe, the sun that comes through the open window, the clouds in the sky. I am everywhere.”
And then Kate smiled and let go of my hand. She drew the sheets up to my chin and tucked me in and then planted a sweet kiss on my forehead. “Good bye, Daddy. I love you. I will always love you.”
And I saw the color rise again to her cheeks and her spine straighten as she stepped to the door, then paused. Kate turned back and looked at the shell that was once me and smiled. “You’re free, at last.”