If you don’t know me, you’re going to think I’m a really dark person. But, really, this is an idea that came to me a long time ago. I had started to write it, but it had never really gotten to that “done” point (or as “done” as you can get in writing, anyway).

Here is the short story,

Dark Daysdark-days

I can’t remember the exact day that it happened. One day he was crawling around on the floor like any other ordinary baby. The next instant, he was looking at me and explaining the coming end of the world.

I mean, talking to me, like a highly intelligent, sophisticated adult.

I almost cried and screamed in terror to hear the voice, but it was unmistakably still a baby’s – high and giddy, pleasant, and animated. But the words… it didn’t seem possible that what he was saying could really be coming from his pouty little mouth.

I wanted to laugh at first, like it was a joke. You have to imagine what it’s like to see a baby standing upright, talking to you in full sentences. I wanted to faint, or pray, cry, or simply stand in awe at seeing such a rapid change from his baby gurgles to full fledged words. But then it wasn’t the fact that he was talking; it was what he was saying.  That’s really where I went full circle to nearly crying and screaming at the same time.

He had been born a healthy 8 lbs 4 ounces at birth and had been beautiful, free of that reddened ruddy complexion or intolerable conehead that sometimes developed after the trauma of a natural childbirth. His birth had been simple, peaceful, and he had scarcely cried since he had been brought home, unless he was annoyed by a dirty diaper or felt the beginnings of hunger pangs. He slept through the night almost immediately.

I used to watch him from the doorway, the slow rise and fall of his chest, his arm arching over his head so that his little fingers curled against his forehead, his eyelashes fluttering with unknown dreams while I listened to his quiet breathy slumber. I admired the translucent moonlight arching its way toward him, the white light through the gap in the curtains resting against his forehead, a natural halo.

There was no one else in our little cocoon of security. I did not know who his father was; it was not because I was under some alcoholic or narcotic influence, nor because there were too many prospective suitors, but rather because there were none, nor had there ever been any.

To this day, I had never been with a man. I couldn’t recall any night of possible conception, nor did I remember any man who might have taken advantage of me. It was simply as if the stars had been aligned to cure my loneliness and I had been miraculously gifted with a perfect, beautiful, baby boy.

At the time, I hadn’t really cared whether it was through a miracle or a forgotten & mysterious drugged encounter with a stranger – I did not have to share this beloved child with anyone. He was mine, and mine alone.

From there, he had advanced just as any normal child would have, walking at age one, talking in sporadic bouts and syllables, always smiling, cooing, and laughing. He seemed to be such a happy child.

Then, one day, right before his second birthday, he stood up and began to talk to me about the coming end of the world. I had been dusting the coffee table in the living room, as on any other morning, while he played with blocks sitting next to me on the plush, red carpet.

I heard his voice before I saw him, so I turned, frightened, looking for an intruder. But there was no mistaking that it was his voice. I faced him, in denial even as I watched his eyes shine, his lips open and close, his hands begin to gesture to emphasize his words. I marveled at him, a child barely able to stand on his wobbly legs a moment before, a child who had lovingly cooed “mama ewa” when his fingers had opened and closed, a familiar request for water, who now was doing anything but coo.

Mesmerized, I listened to his giddy, high-pitched, childlike voice as he animatedly told me about how he was destined to rule the world. He told me that I had no reason to worry when the world seemed to fall apart, because I was his mother, and he would take care of me.  He began to prophesize, with an advanced vocabulary that at times even baffled me, to a point where I began to look up words just to make sure I was really understanding what he was telling me.

He explained that the world would end exactly 30 years from that day – or at least, the world as I knew it. His voice grew louder, bolder, more impassioned, as he told me how he would influence the political leaders, how he would rise to power, and with vengeance, smite those who did not follow his instruction.

At first, I wondered in awe at this child. It was with a sense of wonder and pride that I watched him that night, considering that my miracle son would one day become such a powerful figure.  It was not until later, did I fully understand.

I remembered hearing stories of something similar, about a powerful figure rising to take over the world. But surely he couldn’t be referring to himself as…

It seemed impossible, silly even, to imagine. I had trouble thinking it, much less speaking it aloud. I didn’t even believe in the bible, much less God, but the memories of the stories from my childhood kept floating back to me. I remembered being dragged by my parents to a bible study class to discuss the impossibly frightening section deemed “Revelations.”

I compared what I knew deep in my subconscious to my toddler’s ramblings of the future, and could not deny there were similarities. I began to read the bible daily and with renewed frenzy, terrified that it would already be too late to do anything about any piece of information I might find. I now knew that his birth had not been the miracle I had let myself believe.

My child, who was sweet & innocent no longer, was destined to become the next antichrist.

Watching him sleep that night, the night I truly discovered him, I noticed with dismay that the moonlight no longer made him seem angelic, but haunting, ghost-like, with his pale, almost translucent skin and dismally dark hair. The rise and fall of his chest now seemed a burden on me, a burden I yearned to end.

As the days went by, he grew increasingly impatient with me in my refusal to drop him off at an orphanage, as he instructed. For all his infinite knowledge, he still relied on me to feed him, drive him, and take care of him. His voice became a growl as he told me, yet again, how I would need to give him up so that he could broaden his circle of influence.

“Manipulation emulates…” he crooned. He could manipulate anyone he came in contact with & his plan was to be placed in an orphanage, where he could influence other young minds and start to build his followers, as was prophesized by the dark one.

He promised that in his days of triumph and reign, he would seek me out, and hold up his end of the bargain to keep me safe from the evil that would soon be coming, as a token of appreciation for birthing him and following through on his instructions.

I couldn’t imagine giving him up.

Not because my love for him was too strong, but because I knew I could not un-shoulder the terrible burden I had placed upon myself by bringing him into the world. If knowing he had to be sent to an orphanage was a necessary step in his plot to bring about the end of my world, how could I knowingly allow such an event to take place? I vowed I would never let him out of my sight, and in doing so, I had aligned myself against him.

I began to fear him.

In his quiet way, with the dark, immobile depth of his eyes, he displayed an arrogance and confidence that made me forget he was still only a two-year old, and instead see in him his future as the prophetic dark leader.

As I grew more distant, he stopped talking to me and began to write in spiral notebooks instead, leaving them all over the house. I would flip through, seeing the words of a mad man written in the elementary scrawls of a hand that had just begun to learn the motor control of writing. Large letters, slanted, with backwards e’s and mixed up “b” and “d” letters, yet writing about death, darkness, and despair. Though it hurt & terrified me to read through them, I felt it was my duty to know his plans.

My eyes glazed in horror at the detail in which he prophesized how he would torment people, manipulate them into believing he was good, and then turn on them when they least expected it. I felt he had done the same with me, and could see how he could revert back to a charming child in the space of an instant, so that I fully believed he was capable of fooling the rest of the world.

He told me the day I needed to give him up could be delayed no longer & that it would happen by the end of the week. I rebuked him and told him I would never do such a thing. “My endeavors…” he crowed. With a wicked smile, he laughed through my attempts to deny his birthright and informed me that there was already an unstoppable plan in motion that would ensure his future.

Panicked, I went to the church. I cried to a priest I had never met before in my life, sinking down on my knees and burying my face into the soft, red cloth of his robe. He patted my head and bid me to calm down and tell him the whole story and so I did, trying not to ramble, despite the fact that I probably sounded crazy. I firmly believed that if there was anyone who could help me, it would be the church.

I was wrong.

Forced to contact the authorities for fear than an innocent child was living with an unstable mother, my son’s plan was had been set in motion. Unbeknownst to me, papers were drawn up to take him from me.

I sat at home, staring at the wall, listening to him scribbling in his notebooks, and awaiting the call from the priest, who had promised to find a solution and let me know within 24 hours. When the phone finally rang, I raced to it excitedly, anxious to have the problem taken off my hands and placed into theirs.

By the time I hung up the phone, however, I realized that he had won. I had heard the wary resignation in the priest’s voice and knew that they were already on their way to pick us both up, sending us our separate ways: him to an orphanage and me for a special “evaluation,” in which I was sure I would be “well cared for.”

I tried not to panic, tried to tell myself that my worries were unfounded, but I watched the driveway for hours, until my greatest fear came true, and they were driving towards my home, down the long street. Two police cars and one sedan, probably with a social worker or two, would be pulling into my driveway in a matter of minutes. I knew I didn’t have much time.

I did what I had to do.

When I walked out to greet them, their faces became contorted in shock and disbelief at the bright splotches of crimson color that now adorned my arms, my clothing, my hair. I was told to get down on the ground with my hands behind my back.  I didn’t mind. I knew that I had saved the world.

I was quickly convicted and placed in a cell, where I was fed and clothed. I didn’t mind. I had saved the world. That mantra, the mantra of my victory over him, repeated in my head to calm and soothe me. They did not know the terrible sacrifice I had made for the rest of the world, but I knew, and that was all that mattered.

I still remembered those last fateful moments, seeing the fear in his eyes finally, as I walked towards him with the knife. Oh how he had tried to coax me into believing he was a baby again with his cries “Mama, no! Mama, I be good! Mama, I sorry!”

But as convincing as his pleas and his tears, and his eyes might have been, I knew the immovable, unchangeable truth.

As time passed, they eventually allowed me to have a few books and a notebook with which to write my own thoughts down. I sat with the empty notebook in front of me, and allowed myself to fade away for a moment, thinking over the past year. When I was drawn back into the reality of the cell, I glanced down at my notebook.

There I saw the familiar sketches of childlike letters I had read through countless times before, drawn in slanted angles, too large for the lines, a mish mash of backwards “e” and mixed “b” and “d” letters staring back at me with their undeniable message, and their dark prophesy.

The world spun around me, though it seems it had been spinning the whole time, and that I had just been unaware of the ride. I grew dizzy, faint, and reached out for support, but there was no one there.

I was alone in the dark room, cold, and shivering. I had always thought that what made a person sane was knowing the difference between crazy and normal, if that has ever existed.

Maybe there is no normal, maybe there is no light, maybe I or he or both of us were right. The end of the world is still coming – I know it, and now I can finally feel it. I know they don’t believe me. They’ll see. I feel a strange, unfamiliar, yet somehow recognizable urge bubbling up inside of me.

I feel like writing.

Advertisements
Posted in Short Stories | Leave a comment

Broken Girl

Today, I found out that a student of mine committed suicide.  I have been so busy with school & STAAR, there has been no time for writing. Our priorities are so so wrong.

Girl broken
long sleeves weren’t enough
to hide your scars
your skin
our hearts
broken bleeding together.
 
Heavy dreams
so burdened
like your thoughts
Why was your hand so light?
your fingers
your will
careless
heavy breaths that scratch this soul aside
 
Selfish tears
they fell
like you
Why was no one there to wipe them away?
What a lighter task to bear
to make
but you chose deeper
and we chose to believe
the yellow sun could heal you
all these wanton thoughts selfish
 
we piece you
mosaic of moments
we mourn you
dirt & glass
too dingy to shine
we beg you
but your ears are full of
hateful whsipers
born of your own lips, your thoughts
your own pieces betray you
 
and you betrayed us
by breaking
so far
too far
to reach
 
Posted in Poetry | Leave a comment

Pruny Fingers Turning Pages

I love to write poetry, but I also love to read it. My hubby & I were sharing a quiet moment reading & enjoying (or so I thought) but perhaps he is not always as moved as I…

Anyway, reading poetry begets written poetry, so it was only natural that I was moved to write after spending hours reading. Here’s what I got:

I sat in a hot bath
and read poetry
with soggy bubbles
and my husband’s legs
intercrossed with mine
 
Hot steam of water
condensed like a ripple
on my forehead
as the mirror
bathed us both
 
My voice echoes
in corners of the room
as the poet’s words
ring my heart
crystal clear
 
My damp eyes
fade into the lines
 
I am jarred
by voices
by memories
by someone else’s beautiful words
 
My vision blurs
tears that cleanse
 
I glance at my husband
who is snoring
peacefully
his fingers pruny with time.

 

Posted in Poetry | 2 Comments

Fragments of a Mind

I was thinking about the way the joints of my mind are connected, how I can’t seem to find peace because its so full of ideas, thoughts, wonderings, and desires, and they seemed to organize themselves into this poem:

A scattered thought
flipflops across the mind
pinwheels
eyes searching
lost amidst the chaos of an
overburdened circuit
quick jettisons of
wonderings like
spurts of…
trails of…
disjointed, discombobulated dreams
 
these memories
moments I replay
imaginings
have formed lost
crowded visions
tumbling, free falling
unyielding
these fragments drift
broken, uncaught, unspun
a swirl of dust & matter
senseless
to my whim
unbridled, nomadic
frighteningly free.
Posted in Poetry | Leave a comment

Wearing her nightgown

Some days are so much harder than others. Today, I miss my grandmother. This was a hard poem for me to write – maybe you will relate to it for someone you have lost. That is what this blog is for. Not to point fingers at anyone, not to hurt anyone, just as a cathartic release for myself, and this poem was exactly what I needed today.

7/13/2012

I keep my grandmother’s nightgown
in my drawer.
I’ve never washed it.
Two years after she died,
her smell faded quietly away
like her voice
      and her laugh
                and her face
but there were still moments I could call out to
when her smile was all mine
when the feel of her hand was steady & solid
where I could talk to her, replaying conversations
and pretend they were still going strong
 
Four years
after she died
I gave all but one gown away
I wear it
only as often as I can bear it
I try to see her through watery eyes
wavering & misty, woefully unclear
but her face is no longer within my reach
and neither are her hands
 
I wish I could hear her
call her
I wish she could answer
 
I wish I could take out her nightgown
and still smell her.
Maybe her face would come back
maybe I’d hear her again
[“What are you doing?”]
          head cocked to the side
                             her eyes bright
                                          inquisitive, full of
                                                    life.

 

Posted in Poetry | 2 Comments

Reading Saves

We were asked in a training to think of our memories with reading and after sorting through the moments of Nancy Drew page-turning, Meemaw buying me a new Archie comic every week at HEB, and the many (many) times I got “in trouble” for reading during class (I was bored, and got A’s! C’mon!), I settled on one of many times that reading “saved” me.

7/11/12

Maybe because reading was and still is an escape, I used a book in that moment to do just that. Maybe because the memory of reading it, finding it, and finding solace within it are so powerful to me, this  memory floated up from the surface strong & clear.

I was alone & afraid, 9 years old on an airplane traveling from Erlangen, Germany to Corpus Christi, Texas. The flight was long & not direct. Though my mother had bribed a stewardess to watch out for me, she forgot about me in New York. The plane landed and I ambled out, looking for the next gate, lost in a sea of faces all wiser & quicker moving than I. Not surprisingly, I missed it and was late arriving in Corpus, for my waiting grandmother to pick me up, at a time when cell phones were not readily available to call her. She probably fretted as much about me, in those hours waiting, as I did watching the world pass me by while I waited for the next flight.

I remember crying, sitting in a chair with my knees held up near my body, my feet pulled as far away from the cold, white floor as possible, while I tried to sink into the seat of the chair, my bag tightly wound around & through my interlocked arms. My tears were silent, watchful, too scared too fall, so they stilled around my eyes as they looked up, hopeful that someone would save me, take care of me.

I had already told someone at some gate that I was hopelessly lost & had missed my flight, so they knew to tell me when the next one came, and they knew I was sitting in a chair with my knees drawn up across the lobby, but they didn’t know they had to pat me on the back, or sit near me, or tell me everything would be okay, and those are certainly more important for them to know than what time my next flight was scheduled.

It was in that moment that I saw it. There was a gift shop that had racks of books, and a few cozy chairs that looked warmer than I felt. I grabbed my bag and tentatively made my way across the abyss, wondering briefly if I would lose my chair, and then just as quickly deciding I didn’t care about that chair, when the other chair was right there, waiting for me. I saw the lady at the gate, her eyes monitoring me, following me, and she gave a nod as I arrived at the chair, as if to give permission for me to sit there. I was thankful that she had noticed, but more grateful that she had given me that nod.

I looked through the books, thumbing their familiar spines,  indulging in their new scent, feeling the silky smoothness of their covers, until I found one that looked promising. I hugged it to my chest and sat in the comfy chair, my legs criss crossed, my body leaned back, relaxed into the pages of the book. I folded my body into it, disappearing, letting the prose cover me, a warm blanket of typeface, that made time stop.

Until it started again.

I was awakened from my quasi-state of peace by a tap on my shoulder, telling me it was time to board the plane.

My fingers turned the pages, feeling them, leaving them, thanking them as I placed the book carefully back on the shelf. If you asked me now what the title of the book was, I wouldn’t be able to answer. What it was doesn’t matter. What  matters is that it was reading that saved me.

I depended on the beauty & simplicity of words on a page, the safety, security, and escape they promised me, the act of reading as honest & loving as spoken words never were, never became.

Posted in Memoir | 2 Comments

Surfing is Inspiring

I just came back from vacation, after spending a week in Tyler & a 2nd week in Galveston. Erick, the girls, & I all had individual surfing lessons, and I absolutely fell in love with it! I actually did quite well (though Erick didn’t take any pictures as proof – bah!) and my surfing instructor, Justin, was impressed by how quickly I seemed to pick it up. I WILL be returning soon.

Anyway, I wrote 6 poems about it but I’ll share 2 below.  If anyone is considering it, PLEASE do it – you won’t regret it!

7/3/2012

I met the water today
with green waves
         and green eyes
the pool of water
       lapped at my toes
as I breathed in its sultry,
     salty scent
I closed my eyes
     to feel the sun
rising & falling
     with my chest
cascades of white
     caress the underside
of me, of the board
     pushing me
as my legs
     shakily
found their future
     my body leaned
begged for more
      despite burning eyes
and tired muscles
      my soul
             was alive
I saw a promise
            a note of belonging
                              nourishing
                                        a shriveled soul
                              I am in chaos
                                           even now
                                    as my brain lulls
                                            and rocks
                              a mirror of the waves
                                     too soon
                                    broken across the surface
 
Posted in Poetry | Leave a comment