I was seventeen years old when my mother told me that she was leaving my father, that she was moving away because she needed to discover herself. She said that twenty had been too young to have a daughter and she hadn't gotten to do any of the things(more) she really wanted. So, she was leaving and couldn't I understand that?
I wish that I could say that I took it hard, that I had spent days crying in my room, listening to sad music and writing in my journal, but I didn't. Mom had never really been there for me. She spent most days flexing through yoga class and then catching up on town gossip at Pinkberry.
Dad took it hard though. Every time I went into the kitchen I would catch him standing in front of the cabinets, doors pushed wide open, just staring, sometimes running his hands over the pots and mom never used by insisted that he buy for her.
"I miss her, Kels." He said once, his fingers splayed across a steel strainer in a cabinet above the sink. "I can't remember life without her."
I didn't know what to say. I never do. I just backed out of the kitchen and walked back up to my bedroom. That night I sneaked downstairs and threw away ever single pot and pan we had. I threw away glasses and spatulas and silver forks. I tossed it all.
She gave up on us, but I wasn't giving up on my dad. If throwing away two thousand dollars worth of Wolfgang Puck cookware was what it took to make him whole again. Well, I was going to do it.(less)
I started writing this prompt, and then it fell apart.
First it was a story about an older brother who accidentally crushes his little sister's dollhouse, and then tries in vain to rebuild it; the rubber cement that bonds the shattered plastic panels acting as a thinly-veiled metaphor(more) for the noble, if ultimately vain, gesture that cements their friendship.
Then I thought it could be some kind of catholic allegory, about a church that burns down because its negligent pastor spends tithing money on a new set of golf clubs instead of using it to test and replace the 30-year-old fire extinguishers; he is dismissed, at which point it falls on the shoulders of a new pastor, young and righteous, to restore the church as well as the faith of his parishioners.
I thought that something about Hurricane Sandy might fit the bill. Discussing the complicated relationship between emotional, material, and constitutional resources; whether a life once washed away is worth rebuilding, or if it's easier to start anew.
Or perhaps a McAvoyesque diatribe against the absence of American grit in the face of adversity; a stinging condemnation of our complacency given a floundering economy, shrinking middle class, and a fast-fading reminiscence called the American dream.
After coming up with a number of half-baked ideas, I thought a better response might be an existential vignette about how our lives are like accidental mosaics, built from the remnants of a lifetime's worth of failed artistic endeavors that shattered on their way to the kiln.
But none of these ideas really seems good enough.
Oh well. There will always be other prompts.
I came to you with wood and nails, glue and a pile of dreams. You said we should start with a sand castle. I responded with joy -- jumping rope wildly.
After the sand castle came the cruise ship; after the cruise ship came the sea. We were(more) ambitious. We put our lips to the lava, blew on it. Islands formed. Then came the mountains, dug out canoes and stands selling gelato and ice cream.
One night, I took you to a cove. You dipped your finger in the water. Lights like little stars flashing under dark waves. The tiny organisms mirrored the studs on Orion's belt. We felt happy. I whispered in your ear: sand castle.
After a kiss came the Mississippi. After the Mississippi came Minneapolis. We are now happening upon a revelation: that of stars falling slowly, slowly.
We have taken it upon ourselves to understand, to construct and trigger wonder. We lie awake under constellations, our mouths full of snow. (less)
He carefully focused on the crunchy feeling of the old carpet beneath his legs, on the pinkness of his thumb against the blue Lego block grasped tightly in his hand - on anything but the muffled sobbing coming from the living room. His mother had told him to stop,(more) walked in with teary eyes and said quietly "Pick that shit up, please," as she stumbled over the multi-hued tower stacked in front of him, but he couldn't stop what he was doing.
He didn't want to be done, and have to think about what was going on or ask Mom for a solution to the aching hunger in the pit of his stomach. He was afraid he would have to see the wetness in her eyes, to look up and acknowledge that they had reversed roles and he was somehow expected to comfort her.
Most of all, he was afraid she would tell him why she was crying.
He tried not to think about the way Dad had yelled, followed by a roaring engine noise that faded from the driveway.
Instead, he sat there very calmly and focused on rebuilding. He carefully locked each Lego on top of the last, carefully following a pattern. Red. Blue. Green. Yellow. Repeat.
He listened to the clicking of the interlocking blocks, but not the sad weeping drifting through the door. He felt his breathing stretching his chest, calm and relaxed, but made sure not to feel the shake in the floor as the door slammed open again.
When the yelling resumed, there was nothing but rebuilding. He said the pattern out loud and listened carefully to clicks and breathing.
"Red, blue, green, yellow. Redbluegreen..."
And then there was silence. He knocked down his tower so he didn't hear that, either, and began again.(less)
there's something to be said for the beauty in broken things.
of course, things can also be said for things that aren't broken - that's how the world goes, you can say things about all kinds of stuff.
but many find that the greatest type of thing is the(more) one shaped by your own hands
don't be afraid to break things
because you can always rebuild them.(less)
I sat among the dew, my back pressed firm and cold to a slab of concrete. I told myself that I'd be done with this by the time the grass grew back, but here I was. Digging a rut in grave dirt, watching the night sky refuse to move.(more) She was gone now and I couldn't help but think that maybe I should leave too. Go somewhere else. Find a new home, some new people. Maybe someone to love. Build something for myself.
I thought about that first concert we went to, the one that was called on account of the weather. But not everyone left. There were hundreds of us - hell, maybe even a couple thousand - sitting around in that storm. Lightning arced from cloud to cloud and the rain fell like gravel.
We took off our shirts and slid down the hill on our bellies. Hid from the wind under wet blankets. Smiled and kissed and held each others' hands until the thunder stopped rolling. The guy came out and played for those of us that bothered to stick around. He came out and he yelled with us, about how fucking beautiful that moon looked between black smoke clouds.
Afterward we trudged back across the half mile to the car. Stuffed our mud covered blankets into the trunk of her old Camry. Went back home where we folded into bed, too tired to make love. Too tired to make promises. We had to have slept about ten hours that night.
We ruined that hill. We left nothing but mud and water and Budweiser bottles. Foot prints five or six inches deep. But that grass grew back just fine, I bet. Thick and strong and full as it ever was. Sure as it grows on her grave. (less)
There is a lot that can be said about a woman who cuts her hair short. Not Meg Ryan, You’ve Got Mail short—not even Molly Ringwald in, well, everything short. I cut my hair Michelle Williams short. And despite my thick, heavy hair that often had a mind of it’s own, I(more) went for it.
Well it just so happened that on the very morning 5 inches of my luscious locks fell to the unkempt floor of my favorite mom-and-pop hair salon, outside, rain had the same idea. I suppose it never occurred to me that as difficult as thick hair was long, short was somehow more difficult. Newly styled (and about 2lbs lighter) I took a step outside. Not so much to my surprise but to much dismay, wind and rain swirled and engulfed my head. The safety of the flatiron was all but a distant memory from that moment on. So, instead of the angular pixie cut I was so desperately hoping for, I accidentally and vehemently pulled off a P!nk.
Arriving to campus, there I was outside my ECON 330 class kicking myself to grow up, walk inside and take my seat. Struggling with the right motivational words to calm my nerves (but unfortunately not my hair) I asked myself, “What would P!nk do?” It was only in this very moment that I realized I know only one song by the notoriously bad girl—Big Girls Don’t Cry. Oh wait no, that’s Fergie isn’t it?
Wah, wah, wah went this big girl all the way home. Home to: rebuild my spirits, rebuild my hair and most importantly my shallow depth of musical knowledge.
I'll rebuild my body from the bottom. Titanium can replace bone. Rubber over skin. Aqueous oxidant; synthetic blood. Processor brain and mechanical heart can replace the meat that causes the pain. Everything can change except the hand. Our hand. I'll programme out the hurt, replace with code and emulate(more) happiness forever.(less)
The thing about fire is, you can't hate it. Fire isn't something people despise or want to destroy, or even fear, really, it just is what it is. When fire takes away everything from you, you don't hate it, you learn from it. You learn about what you should(more) do and what you should have done, and like a phoenix rising from the ashes something new and better emerges. The farm was in ashes, our home was nothing but a few crisp, blackened walls in a landscape of grass and corn. We had to sleep in the barn like animals, but each day we would rise early and get to work, get to work on building us a new home. Day after day, week after week we toiled over that new home we were creating, but when it was finally finished we realized that the fire had been a blessing and in rebuilding our home we had built something new in all of us, like a callus on your fingertips, we covered our weakness, and we became strong.(less)
"You've gotta be kidding me," he yelled at the pasta bridge. "Dammit."
He looked around the room to see if anyone else was having the same trouble. They weren't. They had a plan, they stuck to that plan, and their bridge resembled their plan. Some were even s(more)miling.
Maybe it was the Shop Rite lasagna sheets. Maybe it was the Elmer's Wood Glue. Maybe it was the half-hearted design.
But, most likely, it was the fact that everybody else in class was working with a partner.(less)
I've been in Chicago for a week and I'm already looking into mental health facilities, seeing what my insurance will cover. Of course, the problem with counseling is that I'm too anxious to even go. So I spend my time wanting help and living in fear of the person(more) who is supposed to do the helping.
It started in 2004, in middle school. I wasn't bullied or anything, I just kind of started becoming reclusive.
I need to start a new life here. How can I possibly manage that if I'm busy rebuilding myself?(less)
I pleaded with him, but no matter what I said, that was the only word that escaped his mouth.
"It probably won't take as long a second time."
I laid back, biting my lip at him in an innocent kind of way.
After what seemed(more) like hours I finally managed to pry sentences from his mouth, but they were not at all what I wanted to hear.
"I think we should take a break."
"That's fine, as much as I want a family I am okay with just us for now."
But then he returned to his standby.
Tears began to well in my eyes as he made for the door. He grabbed only his coat and didn't even look back. I waited until I heard his car pull away until I broke down.(less)
Choke-able knickknacks from the 25cent machines - crank the handle and a plastic egg rolls into your hand. Pop the lid off with your teeth. Don't let your mom see! She lives in dread of you chipping a tooth.
Cereal box prizes. (Turn your wrist that way/turn it this way to see a winking hologram making mock of time.)
Sally-Ann Barbies in dollar-store outfits. Can't afford the namebrand Mattell stuff (the way you'll never afford the really luxe stuff even as a grown woman just as beautiful as the next (better-off) girl). Those Dollarama Made-In-China rayon outfits, unraveling as soon as touched, making your Barbie more of a cheap mama with her flossy blonde hair now welfare-depraved and not a dream of luxury limned in platinum. Stilettos with a camisole and boxer shorts. Plush toque with bear ears - a pink hootchie skirt. What the fuck? You make Barbie just submit weakly to sex or rape from a Ken-Doll or Transformer because you hate her.
Felt pens. Used to render 2-D cityscapes that you'd push Matchbox cars through, making squealing sounds through your teeth. You drew toxic waste dumps in the city centre; candy stores the size of fish processing plants.
Here was another toy: a roll of kraft paper, scratchy cheap, with brown flecks. It weighed about 15 pounds. You roll out a length the same size as your friend's body. Trace around them in crayon. Then embellish: draw on clothes - wild loops of hair - gauche renditions of an adult face with bluescrawls meaning eyeshadow or bruises, and pressing-down-hard-red meant to indicate lips. Pursed and hopeful lips, waiting for a kiss.(less)
The fecund density of treerot heaved with the heat of life. New shoots of branches and corollary branches tensed underneath the dead stump's mass. Wetly, it hunched downhill towards him. He reached up and plunged his hands into the mush of dead redwood. The bloody warmth of the thing(more) in his hands was exhilarating. It nearly pulsed and quaked at his touch. (less)
You rebuild the castle by picking up the cards. You throw away the hearts, diamonds, and spades and keep the clubs and are surprised when they club themselves down. You pick up the cards that fall and put them back in the same place. Your pale blue hands are(more) shaking. Shut your door. Crawl into bed. Someone is playing Bach from a crackly stereo in the courtyard. Watch the castle from your bed. Watch the wind blow it into the gravel pit where you rest your bed. You can rebuild or sleep. You feel so tired, your head is so heavy. Rebuild. Sleep. Sleep. Sleep.(less)