I got an invite to Bluebell Books’ Short Story Slam and all I could come up with looking at this picture was a description of a field and a girl. I figured if worst came to worst, I’d write this description and see where it took me, then slap it with the label of “flash fiction” if I run out of air. Short story writing is not my strong suit and I fear being all melodramatic, and as my writing teacher in college said, “archetypal.”
I wrote this in one sitting, yay! It does draw some from my
grandmother’s childhood, but I use it loosely. Anyway, tell me what you think and I decided to put it on this blog because my last few posts on the other blog were all creative writing. Tell me what you think for real, OK?
At a certain point mid-field, you can’t see anything anymore, just the wheat and the sky. In this endless sameness, you begin to believe you are the only person on earth. The dilapidated house and its occupants are gone, Your overworked mother, your teasing brothers, and your crying little sister are nowhere. Your father isn’t dying anymore of consumption, he just no longer exists.
The preacher man shouts about being raptured most Sundays. Being left behind, the person beside you literally goes to meet his maker and you’re about to be meted out eternal judgement by Jesus Christ on a white pony. You don’t know about the hell-fire, a fire made from a lake, or when Jesus Christ will come along and make you jump in, but you do wonder about being left. Here you are standing in the endless wheat field and you do feel as though the world’s been raptured and you’re still here. Left behind. Forgotten. And it feels like paradise to be alone, your personal heaven.
You aren’t in heaven or left behind. You have to go back home before dark.
Your father dies a few days later. Around 3am you wake up to a scream. It’s your mother in the room you aren’t allowed in, the sick room. You can’t remember a time when he wasn’t sick. You can’t remember a time you were allowed to be near him.
It’s odd your father used to be married before, but indeed he was, and divorced! Everyone knew, but it wasn’t to be talked about, until the first Mrs. Harnett and her two grown daughters come for a visit.
The house and property are sold and divided between the two Mrs. Harnetts. Your family’s possessions are loaded onto the back of a truck. Before you leave for the last time, an old lady of the neighborhood takes you and your sister aside.
“Y’all girls got to be good for your Mama, you hear? If y’all don’t, she won’t be able to take care of you and’ll have to put y’all in the orphanage.” You’re 12 years-old, but you, like your 7 year-old sister, believe her because old ladies you’ve known your entire life don’t lie.
You leave the home you and your siblings were born in and the wheat field. No matter where you go or how long you live you’ll never quite have the peace you found in that field surrounded by the unencumbered sky.
Since I want to continue writing here too, here are my thoughts on the weekend.
I am a jumpy sort of lass. I humiliate myself with a screech when my friend suddenly falls against me when sitting next to me. My friend tells me I suffer from “hyper vigilance.” And?
The same day, my mother runs the leftovers home so that the pizza won’t spoil, but she seems to take a while returning to the book store where she deposited my friend and me (Hey, fun quiz! Is the word ‘me’ correct or is it ‘I’? Not like I don’t know or anything, just seeing if y’all are alert!). I begin to assume my mom’s met an unfortunate end, of course, so I call home. Mom’s alive! Yay! Apparently, Philippe had jumped onto the counter and began begging for more canned cat food as he does several times a day, so that helped delay my mom. My friend lectures me about being independent. Hey, my mom’s more or less my only family member and after she actually gives up the ghost I’ll be alone. Which means I’ll die a cat lady or a bag lady or something.
Now that I know my mom is still among the living, I grab up the 800 page WordPress for Dummies monstrosity I’d been trying to absorb in 10 minutes or less, plus a dollar bin book on writing fiction and head for the counter. I know my mom wouldn’t approve me buying the $35.00 Wordpress book, on our credit card to boot, better to buy it and ‘fess up later in the evening (I have to confess stuff to my mom, a compulsion). I feel safe buying it now that my mom wasn’t dead, because in the back of my semi-sane mind, I think that had I not known my mom was alive and I bought the book, it would somehow kill off my mom as punishment. Where are the men in white coats, right?
My friend continues on the “independence” talk and my mom returns.
The next day my friend and I play Rummy at her house and I win. We watch Real Stories of the ER as we play and some guy has a cockroach stuck in his ear and the little f****r was biting the mans eardrum. This results in me going into labor and giving birth to a new phobia.
I help shampoo her computer room’s carpet, a new experience for me. I think a mixture of being tired and the Fabuloso we used on the carpet gave me a headache. We watch some of Gremlins. The channel the movie is on suggests the film may not be suitable for kids under 7. That movie scared me to death when I was the mature age of 7. I think they edited a bit of the splatter in the blender and microwave as the mother killed a couple of the gremlins in household appliances. I couldn’t bear killing something in a microwave, even a murderous Gremlin. Funny though, I have had terrible visuals of putting a cat in the microwave. I have no desire to do such a thing, but the thought of it happening is enough to make me worried. When you have OCD, it’s vital to learn that harm obsessions are just thoughts that pass through the minds of kind people. Luckily for me I worry more about causing emotional harm to people than physical harm. At any given moment I’m afraid someone is mad or have hurt feelings because of me.
I go to bed on my friend’s futon, the one you have to sit on carefully or one of the armrests falls off. I have a dream that may inspire a poem.
When I get home, Casey Anthony has already gone into hiding. My mom thinks wherever she is now, her attorney is boinking her. I hope not for his sleazy ass’ sake. There’s a part of me that feels bad for Casey simply because so many people want her to die a horrible death. I believe God will make her pay on this earth. Being so hated will be a prison in itself because she won’t be partying much. I doubt her sociopathic mind can fathom all the consequences of being notorious. I can’t believe Jesus would want people shouting “Kill her!” or even denying her a table at a restaurant. I smell a Casey Anthony post coming one day to my new site.
Okay, I will try not to write more ‘kill a buzz’ poetry next time, though y’all were awesome about the last one. It even got published on http://katemclaughlin.net, a successful author’s mental health blog. Coolest. Thing. Ever. Y’all won’t hold it against me if I break out into a stirring rendition of “Fame! I’m gonna live forever!” Shoot, I even feel as though I’ve got “Bette Davis Eyes” and that “I’m Walking on Sunshine, baby, yeah.”
I’m feeling so magnanimous today that I’m going to share one of the things that OCD does to virtually everyone who has it: Rabid perfectionism. Cujo-trying-to-attack-style. Just when my mind thinks I’ve figured out a way to do something, that I’ve planned it out perfectly, Nervous Nelly will interject, “Nah girl, you ain’t doing that right. Try harder, loserrr.” If it ain’t Nervous Nelly in my head saying such, my mother is apt to say something that I will misconstrue as a criticism, which will turn me all ‘Sybilish’ and my mom and I end up having words. I want to be perfect and as good as everyone else, but my standards for myself are wayyyyyyyy too high. The really fun part is therapy and antidepressants just dampen it a tad. I can’t seem to stop. Irksome! But anyway, here I drop a rhyme about it for this week’s Poetry Pot Luck at http://jinglepoetry.blogspot.com . Tell me the truth if you don’t like it , in a nice way, of course!
Some people ask me why do you do such a thing?
Can it really be a comfort, or are you just not listening?
Are you just being difficult?
Are you just trying to make us mad?
No, I’m not. Yes, I am.
No. Yes. Maybe.
I’m not sure? I hope not.
I don’t think so…
I am difficult and I am crazy
in my own convoluted way.
Well, you should stop, they say.
I don’t think you understand.
All people are driven forward by their minds.
I move forward but I’m three steps behind.
You go your way, but I must stay and listen to my mind.
It is a truth universally acknowledged that a lady who wishes to send off an item bartered on eBay must be in want of packaging tape. Ah, this lamentably was the state of affairs and such a deprivation could not be borne.
Our lady, a Rubenesque spinster of three-and-thirty years, suggested to her mother a scheme of going to the shop down the way post-haste, for it was a week until Christmas and the best of couriers could not always send the required article in time. Fearing the wrath of an angry gentleman who had placed his custom and faith upon her, the lady commenced in her carriage, her good lady mother as chaperone. The mother, sullen, melancholy, and hinting her disapprobation at her, said, ” Make certain, daughter, that you buy something sweet for the time we feel peckish.”
The establishment frequented by all the ton of the neighbourhood and surrounding villages was called the Family Dollar and carried sundry items for sale. This mainly consisted of treasures imported from the orient, a plethora of genuine plastics molded into dishes and playthings for children, plus toiletries designed to cover smallpox scars and other maladies of ladies in need of the refinery.
The lady’s mother had her filial daughter go inside without her guiding hand, confident that she would find no disgrace within its doors. Nay, no disgrace indeed as our lady meandered the aisles of the store plucking up the tape, chocolate mint patties, and some sort of Christmas mint that once dissolved took on a consistency like gum. Looking at the cookies without her mother to advise which to procure, as her mother’s dark mood seemingly prevented her from issuing any hint of preference, she selected a large package of vanilla sandwich cookies with cream.
Taking these items to the cash register, our lady was assailed by the sounds of the music peculiar to certain sects of religion. This genre, aptly titled “Christian Pop,” seldom reached the tender regions of her soul as the lyrics and music intended. Instead of invoking all the comforts of religion, she oft, when not spared , chose to dissect the lyrics of such songs as though they were written by lovestruck poets for their would-be paramours. This song, however, was in a somewhat different strain, invoking the Lord thus:
Jesus is just all right with me, Jesus is just all right…
La! But an older lady, finding such a ditty insufferable, called attention to the young man attending the till. “I say, boy, this music you play upon yonder radio device, is that your personal preference?”
“Nay, madame,” said the young man. “Rather ’tis the preference of the lady proprietors.”
“I see,” spoke the lady with consternation. “You should play something soothing.”
“Ah, the ladies grew weary of the station that plays the Christmas music for the entirety of the season.”
“But that’s what the customers wish to hear whilst shopping, and they should think of the customers!” punctuated that lady.
You’d think they were playing the unexpurgated works of Eminem to hear her speak. A pretty thing this, thought our lady as she rushed from the edifice. She could not help, aversion to such music notwithstanding, how unpleasant were the manners of that lady.
Later, our lady and her mother arrived at the post office, and once more the spinster was left to her own devices as her mother waited. Soon our lady was amid a bustle of humanity all converging in a final frantic bid to send parcels for arrival by Yuletide.
She was waited upon by a lady who could be surly to some, but never to the spinster. “Is there anything fragile, liquid, perishable , or potentially hazardous inside, Madame?”
“Well…” said our lady, thinking back to a most helpful posting upon the wall sometime ago listing items that were foolhardy to send via courier, “the ___ has batteries inside.”
“No, ’tis fine and proper. What sort of ___is it?”
A ___ from the 80s, Madame,” said our lady.
“Oh, those I do recollect and my child possessed one that___.”
“Ah, indeed! I mark those, though many a year has passed betwixt then and now.”
“Please tell your mother Merry Christmas from me,” said the lady post office attendant.
Our lady counted out the change from a purse and thought uncharitably, Nay, not I, not now as my mother has declared she hates Christmas, which makes me hold the hold the holiday with similar malevolence, The spinster, acting like a hussy, could maintain a strong petulance at times, a nasty flaw to her being a genteel lady.
She was so immersed in thought that our lady almost forgot to return appropriate holiday greetings herself. “Thank you, I shall tell her…Oh dear! And Merry Christmas to you, Madame. I fear that my mind is a soupcon addled today.”
It is perhaps diverting to look at our spinster and note that despite a peculiar air hinting at wishing to sink into the floor beneath her rather than look another in the eye, she twice or thrice was complimented on her exceeding good manners in the past. It seems that some ladies and gentleman are taciturn when services were rendered inside the office. This compliment pleased our spinster in no uncertain terms.
The end of the day’s activities was nigh, but alas, the mother had lost her reading spectacles a couple of days previous and there seemed no way of finding the lost article. Despite her mother’s seasonal surliness, her most dutiful daughter did not wish to see that grand dame deprived of such creature comforts. Our lady bade the carriage to go to the shop where excellently crafted spectacles could be had, The Dollar General. As her good lady mother sought a perfect pair to match the strength of her weakened eyes, our lady perused the aisles, passing a gentleman in the stationary and place where books grace store shelves the final time.
Soon a young lady from that more southern clime came before them with a brood of children. The young lady spoke in the rapid tongue impossible to learn in finishing school book or by her dear teacher originally from Philadelphia town. Suddenly the gentleman in the aisle with her growled in a low voice, “Speak English goddamnit.”
What a fine gentleman! our lady thought as she disembarked for home. Mayhap he is a lord or an earl. Such command that can even instruct mothers and innocent babes the correct dispensation of the queen’s English. No doubt a man of the best of stock whose kind manners condescended to make foreigners feel so at home in ours, the most welcoming of lands. Such a portly stature and the pungent scent of smoke from the best of cigarettes. La! This is the sort of man I should wish to marry!
Combining http://magpietales.blogspot.com and http://thursdaypoetsrallypoetry.wordpress.com/ this week. The first poem is right depressing, so if you’re already in a depressed mode you might wish to skip it because it’s pretty dark. The second poem deals with the so-called “War on Christmas,” and I don’t mean to be sacrilegious. The third is my favorite poem, a slice of that tasty ghetto/trailer park-style pie some of y’all seem to like…Anywho, enjoy and comment, trash it, or ask questions about it as you may.
A Very Depressing Christmas Poem: Nola Leigh’s Christmas
Nola Leigh, age 43, virtuous virginity.
It is Christmas Eve and she is alone,
She can’t bear to go home.
All of her relatives are dead,
So she goes to the church instead.
Open door but no one here,
She looks to the window and sits at the rear,
Thin stain glass, the virgin and her baby as before in the past.
Mary is benevolent, Jesus is sad in his innocence, looking even then for divine penitence.
Nola Leigh, 43, virtuous virginity.
Mother Mary, where were you 40 years ago,
When Nola Leigh needed you so?
Sweet Jesus, did you not see your young servant in desperate need?
While you were in the glass, Nola Leigh just had no chance.
But that’s all in the past.
Nola Leigh, 43, virtuous virginity.
A Very Controversial Christmas Poem: Merry Holidays, Jesus!
I think you should know, some of your Father’s creations are a little slow.
Or is it me who’s a bit dense? I’m not sure, but all this to me makes little sense.
It all has to do with a little word called ‘Christmas.’
Apparently there is a war on the word. Have you in heaven heard?
Being a mortal, this I can’t understand,
Did you actually make the demand
to nick-pick on a word not even invented when you walked this earth?
When you were old enough to say it, did you cry out “Merry Christmas!”in Aramaic?
Do you spend time between listening to prayers despairing, perhaps even swearing, that ‘Xmas’ does not bear your last name?
Or are you in on the joke that the Greeks often use the ‘X’ as the abbreviation of Christ?
Is it really a vice to say “Happy Holidays!” a couple of times a year?
Or do you say, “Your inclusiveness should fry with you in the lake of hell?”
Is it bad for me to say “Merry Christmas” too?
Truthfully, Jesus, I’m all in a stew,
so I guess I’ll leave it up to you.
A Semi-Festive Christmas Poem: Our Christmas Tree
Oh Christmas tree, lovely Christmas tree!
Chopped down in a forest of plastic at a Chinese factory.
That year, 1987, was the first year your blessed bough hung before us,
Joy to the World and the rest of the chorus.
That first year, do you recall?
We broke your stand and had to nail you to the wall,
tied with festive utilitarian string,
A live tree stand for a metal trunk is an interesting thing.
We Wish You a Merry Christmas and colored lights
Trying to put you up is liable to yoke a fight.
Complicated, lopsided, daring you to fall,
Well, we said, at least you’re tall.
Jingle Bells, dust, and left over tree icing,
Damn I wish it were spring and gifts weren’t so high in the pricing.
But I love your ornaments, indeed I do,
Even if you look like you were decorated by monkeys in the zoo.
Martha Stewart would cry if she saw this tree where ‘Taste’ goes to die,
But two ornaments per limb here means pleasures double,
Memories good and bad, triumph over trouble.
Gold garland and silver star, thoughts happy do not tacky mar.
I’ve been blogging now since March, and since my very first post mentioned 9-11, I’m going to excerpt it, but also give you a link to the whole post should you not have read it. Here is the link to the whole post:
For those of you who would rather not read my whole post, here is the part pertaining to 9-11, plus some background from my childhood:
Example Two – Lisa in “Well, At Least the World Isn’t Ending”
When I was little I was afraid of the world ending, and particularly that either my mom or I would be roasting in hell-fire for eternity. I went to a Christian school, mainly because the school had afterschool care, and Mom figured I would mainly be saying my prayers and learning about Jesus. Um wrong.
I learned that I was A SINNER and God spared only those who were true Christians and had the Lord in their hearts.
But I was a SINNER, EVIL, EVIL SINNER and off to Hell I would go where I would suffer eternal agony. Forever and ever. This is a tad much to swallow at the age of 6. Especially when our teacher would say such comforting things like, “If you think you see or hear things in the dark it’s just the devil trying to scare you, but if you’re a Christian he can’t hurt you.” Well joy to the world. It would have been a comfort to me IF I was sure I was really a Christian. BUT WHAT IF I WASN’T REALLY A CHRISTIAN??? What if I wasn’t saved? Maybe I didn’t say the prayer right? Maybe I might not love Jesus as much as I am supposed to love Him?
And so I prayed. And then I prayed, and when I got done with that pretty soon I prayed some more. Same thing every time. ”Please come into my heart, please forgive me of my sins.” I didn’t feel Him inside my heart literally or figuratively.
One day, when I was safely delivered from the good teacher and her views of the devil, etc., the end of the world occurred. We had a new teacher because thankfully our first teacher got mad and walked out in the middle of class when her best friend got fired. I was so happy. God was in His heaven and all was right with the world. This woman actually liked me, where as the previous teacher despised me. In fact, this teacher almost worshipped me. Never before and never since has anyone liked me that much (I don’t think she could have children and me being the odd one out, I sparked an overwhelming desire to have a child , and my mom worried she would kidnap me -but all that’s another story for another time). Yes, she loved me and it was wonderful, so I doubt it was artifice and she really did think the world had ended.
One day the sky seemed thick and cloudy, and an orange haze filled the air. In fact, there was even big ashes snowing down at intervals. Everyone speculated that the world was ending in our little school, and if the teachers believed it, then it was true, right? I remember being very afraid. What if I never saw my mom again?
Yes, the world was ending…..That is until the principal’s husband showed up and told how there was a bad forest fire in the next county and the wind was blowing ashes and smoke all the way over here. Jeez, I was a stupid kid, but at least the adults were dumbasses too.
Well enough of this childhood trauma stuff and fast forward to being 24. By that time I had made my peace with Jesus. I now believed that Hell didn’t exist, that a loving God would not condemn the world to being rotisseried for eternity. I had no interest in judging others when I was such a flawed person myself and believed (and believe now too) that Jesus was a bleeding heart liberal like me though he was cool with the Republicans too. We’re all people, right? (Except Ann Coulter maybe, heh). So this is my mindset on that awful day of September 11, 2001, though I still prayed to excess on my simple goal of being perfect, the world ending got filed in the back of my mental filing cabinet of fears.
We hadn’t had the TV on all morning. It was now around 1:30pm and my mom was driving me to class, so I turned on the radio to listen to some music. I had it on an R&B station, but instead of the usual waiting to hear a half-way decent song, the announcers were talking about praying for the nation and how Washington was under full alert. No planes in the air, they told, and they don’t know if we’re being invaded or how many thousands might be dead.
Now may it never be said that I claim to be the sharpest nail in the toolbox. What did I think was happening? I had no idea, but it was awful. The sky was finally falling, Chicken Little, like you always knew it would. It flashed in my mind that the world was ending. I felt like that 6 year-old I once was, waiting to be left to hell in the final judgement. So when I heard what had actually happened, that the world had not ended, Lord help me at the relief I felt. It was like “Oh, thank God the world isn’t ending. It’s just a terrorist attack!” And in this way. my OCD once again spared me from reality by expecting the worst of the worst and numbing me to the thing that was almost the worst of the worst. I stayed home from school for a couple days since the state port and federal courthouse are near the community college, but I remember no real panic on my part for myself, but I also could have been in shock. I didn’t have to think the horror until it was a little easier to take. Numbed by my joy that the world was not ending I didn’t have to think about the things that would later become vivid and terrible in my mind. The terror of the passengers on those planes. The picture I would see of the priest being carried out lifeless when he had been there giving the last rites to the dying. Not knowing whether your family and friends were alive. Would I have followed orders and stayed in the second tower like bosses had told their employees? And the worst one…..having to decide between death by falling out of a window or being burned alive. So I’m grateful for the OCD and/or stupidity that spared me a bit on that awful day.