777 a palindrome

 

A Palindrome in 777 words-

A STORY OF IDOL WORSHIP AND MURDER

BY Salie Davis

 

Revoke, ‘tis I, time’s eye.  Finish sin if eyes emit… six a.m.  … Max is noon… 11, 02, 2011… 12, 02, 2021?

REVILED, EVA’S DOG SWEPT PEWS!

God!

Dias: “Ah!!”

Satan said: “Star-Di, Asa, Dennis, Natasha, Ron, Maori, Ida, Ed, Hannah,

One Dragon, Eva, Sharon, Naomi, Isa, Emos, Deborah, Royal, Rats, Eros,

Tenet, Dogma, Id, Nacina, Paris, Devil …Sinned.”

Tenet: “God…Too far away…Murmur, murmur…”

Rats: “‘Y no mere clay or wonder… Murmur murmur…

Yes! Orders red rum, redder Eh? ‘Twas I? Dog!… Tonsured rum pots!”

Said: “Murder… Red Rose of Sharon!”…. He murders red rose… Y?

Dennis said “sinned?  Did I? Now I won top spot.  Ah… Natasha Dias sees dog star…put it up…” (Sinned)

“…as a god. Fool… A! Wow…, ‘Ave, ‘Ave some red rum too.

Fall apart, Natasha.”

Tenet: “Lives evil!”…

Dennis: “‘Ave some lager?”

Natasha Dias: “Doggy! Dash sin if I deliver Hannah?”

Star-Di: “Did I as I? Was I? I was raw Dog, as a devil, I am god deified.”

Dennis said: “Ha! Ron? He lived as a rat’s god.

Wow, I Liven a mood. I roamed under it…

Revolt, AHA, Live! He said “as a foeman” as I live.”

Natasha said: “Did Nacina play or did moody Ida? So. Ida? Adios!

Hey Dad, are we not drawn onward? ”

Dias said: “Ah…Satan. Rats deliver goddesses, so pay.

Flesh saw a sin, mad, dastard, Hannah, raw as a widened dam.”

Hannah: “I madam, I made fool a poor Dog.”

Natasha Dias:  “I (Moan) go deliver Eh? I saw thee mad!”

Dennis Dias: “Sir appalls Dog…” (stops)

“…sleep repel, Eros eye saw Hannah.”

Said Hannah: “Eva! Can I live on?”

“Hannah, O’ No…  Ah…”

Satan: “Live dirt up!”

Mom said: “Ha, Robed!”

God: “Live not on evil, Madam Natasha, Madam Hannah Dias!

Murder Regal Red Rose of Sharon? I name no Devil-Dog as selfless.

A Devil! One Dragon! Pupils pull up! No Garden, O!

Norah, regal red rose… Y? Naomi…? (Moan)… ‘Y doom?”

Sharon Dias: “Mom, Ei! Reverie! Live O’ Devil, never odd or even.

No, it is opposition. ‘Y a period won? Oh! Who was it I saw, Oh Who? Ha!”

Ron: “I”

Eva: “Revolt lover!”

Id: “Rats gnash teeth!”

Sang Star-Di: “Do… Do Good’s deeds. Live on? Reviled did I live! God saw!

I, deified, I was Dog. Evil I did deliver.

No! Evil’s deeds do, O God! O! Did Rats gnash teeth?”

Sang Star-Di: “Revolt! Love! Rave I?”

Norah: “Oh who was it I saw, Oh who? Now do I repay? No, it is opposition.

Never odd or even…Live? Do evil? Ei!!, reverie!”

Mom said: “Norah’s moody.”

Naomi: “(Moan…) Yes, order lager… Ha! Ron.”

One Dragon: “Pull up? Slip up! No Garden? O’, lived as selfless? A god lived one man! I.”

Norah’s foes order lager, red rum.

Said Hannah: “Madam, Ah!!! Satan! Madam, live not on evil. Dog!”

Deborah Dias (Mom): “Putrid evil, Natasha!  O’ No! Hannah, No evil in a cave…”

Hannah Dias? Hannah was eye sore leper, (peels spots)

God: (SLLap!)

Paris said: “Sinned dame… Eh? ‘Twas I, here vile Dog!”

Naomi said: “Ah!!! Satan! Go droop aloof. Ed, am I mad? Am I, Hannah? Madden…”

Ed  “I was… A war.”

Hannah: “Drat, sad… Damn!”

Isa: “Wash self, Ya, possessed Dog, reviled Star!”

Natasha Dias said: “…Drawn onward, to new era…

Dad yeh… So…

Ida “ Adios A! Di, ‘Y doom, Did Royal panic and Id?”

Dias: “Ah,”

Satan: “Evil is a name of Asa”

Dias: “Eh?, Evil!, a hat lover, tired nude.”

Maori: “Doom an evil I wow Dog Star as a Devil, eh?”

Norah Dias Sinned.

Deified Dogma: “I lived as a god. War saw I. I saw! I said I did… Rats!”

Hannah: “Reviled, I finish sad. ‘Y “G” God?”

Said: “Ah!! Satan regal?!”

Emos: “Eva… Sinned… lives Evil!”

Tenet: “Ah…”

Satan: “Trap all afoot, murder!”

Emos:  “Eva!”

Eva: “Wow, Aloof Dog as a…!”

Dennis: “Put it up! Rats! God sees.”

Said: “Ah!!!”

Satan: “Ha, top spot. Now I won, I did!  Dennis Dias sinned. Yes! Orders red rum, eh!”

Norah’s foes order red rum.

Dias: “Stop, Murder us not!

God: “I saw the redder murders.”

Red Rose: “Y? Rum, rum, rum, rum red now.”

Royal: “ceremony Star! Rum, rum, rum, rum, Ya! War a foot. Dog! Tenet!”

Dennis: “Lived Sir? A panic… and I am god, tenet? Sore Star lay or…

Ha! robed some, as I… I moan.”

Norah: “Save! No Garden, O!”

Hannah: “Dead, I… I roam.”

Norah: “Satan! Sinned!A!”

said “ Rats-Dias?”

Natasha said: “Dog!”

SWEPT PEWS… GOD SAVE! DELIVER!

12, 02, 2021… 11, 02, 2011?  Noon… six a.m. max. Is time’s eye finish’ sin? If eyes emit is it, ek… over?

 

Brandy (part of the series “InTo SIN, The Story Is Not Over”)

 

“So what, you think you’re better than the rest of us? Don’t want to break those designer nails of yours.” The big girl sneers.  She wasn’t just big, she was big and square.  Her body was built like a soggy card board box.  I am so glad she’s not talking to me. The pretty girl looks scared.

“No, I just don’t like sports,” She stammers. “My brother was killed playing football. He took a hit so hard that his rib went through his lung. He screamed in pain until he drowned in his own blood.” The big girls face goes blank. She walks away.

Ms. Sweetsir, looks at the new girl for a minute-long-second then says, “You don’t have a brother.” The girl shrugs and looks the other way… I wonder if she’s crazy.

My knee brace gives me a good excuse not to do this stupid morning exercise group. I just wish it didn’t hurt so much. A little pain is good. It makes me stronger, like cutting. The pain makes me feel alive.  I like seeing the blood. My pain, the stuff I can’t see, it makes it go away. I can control the pain. I glance at my arms and wrists. There are only faint lines left from the last time I cut but I can concentrate on the pain of my leg. I just wish it didn’t hurt so much.

When I first got here from the hospital, a guy offered me pain meds but I refused. He is such a jerk, Mr. Drumard… what a stupid name. Mr. Dumb, that’s better. Last night was really bad though and I asked for my meds and he wouldn’t give them to me. He said I refused three times so I couldn’t have them anymore. My leg is pounding so hard I have to keep holding my breath so I don’t cry.

“It’s time to go, Miss Summers, Miss Bates.” Ms. Sweetsir says to the new girl and me. “Miss Summers, you will be joining us in group therapy.”

As we walk the pretty girl looks at me. “What happened to your leg?” She asks.  Ms. Sweetsir is far enough ahead of us so I can talk freely without that stupid, “War stories” rule where we can’t talk about all the cool stuff we’ve done.

“I broke it jumping from my boyfriend’s car in a police chase.” I say, watching to see her reaction.

“Huh,” she replies, “and I thought I was good with the stories.”

“It’s not “A Story” “I snap back. “Me and my boyfriend got drunk. He’s on probation, couldn’t get caught by the cops so he sped off when the lights came on. I told him to stop but he wouldn’t. He almost lost control of the car and spun out.  Before he got going too fast again I jumped out. I wrenched my leg really bad when I landed. I heard he took out someone’s garage. I haven’t heard anything about him since.”

“Oh. Sorry.”  The girl says. She picks up her pace until she’s walking next to Ms. Sweetsir. It figures, another but kisser.

“Nice wiggle,” Rocky says from behind.

“What do you want?” I growl at him, as I try to cover up my smile by wrinkling my face. Rocky is hot. His muscles are all ripply under his faded Tee shirt, not just blocky like my boyfriend.

“I just wanted to make sure you didn’t get lost on the way to group.” He says. “You know, I’m a pro at this place. I can show you around, this being your first week and all.”

“Yeah,” I snap back at him. “I heard your making this place your life long goal of habitation.”

“I just thought you might want to benefit from my experience, not to mention, if you’re not nice to me you might end up with a nick name liiike,… Pumpkin Butt. Of course I’d just call you Pum so the staff wouldn’t qualm about it.”

“You wouldn’t dare!” I say, my face turning red.

“Well, “He beams. “Since I have seniority, I get to pick the names of new kids. I call dibs on you.”

I play along with the game, wondering where he’s heading with it. “So what do I have to do to get a good name around here?” I ask.

“Just stick with me.” Rocky says, “and be real nice.”

Rocky, the new girl; what was her name again? Oh yeah, Miss Summers, a spindly kid named Little Dickey; A name Rocky said came from the boys shower room and Peach; a short little girl with orange-red hair, all gather in room 213. I’ve seen this same crew, except for the new girl, for the past three days. It will be nice not to be the new kid any more. I wonder if I looked that scared on my first day. Her eyes look like big blue saucers. They do go nice with her blond hair though.

“We have a new person in group. I want everyone to introduce themselves and state the goal we’re working on this month.  Mr. Dunn, since you have seniority, why don’t you start.

“Hi, my name is Mr. Dunn, I’m working on getting a date with Ms .Sweetsir.” Rocky says. Everyone chuckles.

“Let’s keep it serious Mr. Dunn.” Ms. Sweetsir warns. “Keep going around the circle” She says.

“Um, my name is Mr. Nielson” Little Dickey stammers.  He adjusts his glasses before he continues. “I am, Uh, working on not lying about stuff.”

“That is very good Mr. Nielson.”  Ms. Sweetsir says warmly. “Next.”

“My name is Miss Bligh and I’m working on not fibbing too.” Says Peach in almost a whisper.

Now it’s my turn. “My name is Miss Bates. People say I don’t tell the truth but that’s only when I’m drunk or I’m trying to get drunk.”  I say.

“That’s a little better Miss Bates but you need to let go of the excuse part.” Ms. Sweetsir says.

Finally all eyes are on the new girl. She looks like she’s going to barf. “I don’t lie!” She blurts out.

Ms. Sweetsir raises her eyebrows and tips her head. She always does that before she nails someone. “What about your brother?” She asks.

“Hey that was just creative damage control.” The new girl replies. “That mountain was going to flatten me.”

“Actually we call her Wally.” Rocky interrupts.

“Let’s stay focused.” Ms. Sweetsir warns. “Just introduce yourself, last name only.” She says.

“Miss Summers.” The girl says flatly.

“Thank you.” Ms. Sweetsir says. “Today we are going to work on communication and social skills. I would like each of you to share a story about something you brought from home and have here at the facility. Who wants to go first? Miss Summers, how about you.”

“If everyone here is a liar then how are we supposed to believe what we’re told by anyone?” Miss Summers asks.

“Good point, “Ms. Sweetsir says. “Miss Bates, how would you respond to that?”… I hate when she does that!

“We only lie when we have to.” I say. Boy what a stupid thing to say. I hate being put on the spot.

“Like your police chase?” the new girl says. “I knew you were lying.”

“I was not!” I yell.

“Now let’s stay calm.” Ms. Sweetsir interrupts. “Miss Bates, How does it feel to tell the truth and not be believed?”

“It sucks, how do you think it feels? This group is so lame! My Dad wouldn’t believe me if I said the house was on fire and it was burning down around him!” I continue to yell. “What do I care if you believe me?” I glare at the new girl. “For all I know my boyfriend could be dead and my Dad won’t even call to let me know.”

“Do you think your Dad not believing you might have to do with the lies you’ve told him in the past?” Ms. Sweetsir asks.

“Maybe” I say, slouching in my seat with my arms crossed. If I just say what she wants to hear then she’ll leave me alone. Why do I always fall for her stupid questions?

“That’s a start” Ms. Sweetsir smiles. “Miss Summers, tell us about something you brought from home.”

“I don’t have anything from home, my mom drove me here straight from school.” The girl says as she squirms in her seat. It is so good to see someone else being asked the questions.

“Well how about something you brought from school then, I noticed an embroidered 4-H zipper tag on your back pack.” Ms. Sweetsir prompts.

“Yeah, I used to be in 4-H. A friend of mine made it for me.” She replied.

“Miss Bligh, how about you?” Ms. Sweetsir continued.

“I have a nice blue sweater. It’s my favorite sweater. It keeps me warm.” She says.

“A sweater;” Rocky laughs. “The best thing you got is a sweater?”

“That’s enough Mr. Dunn. Let’s hear what you have to share.” Ms Sweetsir says.

Rocky takes center stage like the star of the show responding to an encore.  “I brought Mr. Stewards car but they wouldn’t let me drive it down the hall way.” He says. Everyone laughs-Everyone except Ms. Sweetsir. “Well ,it is the truth.” Rocky responds to her stern glare. Rocky is so cool. One of the other kids told me he stole Mr. Steward’s car after sneaking away from exercise group. Which is kind of a bummer ‘cause Mr. Steward is really nice. Rocky drove it right through the front gate but he damaged it too much to make a clean get away. Now they have to park outside the gate, the new gate that is.

“Mr. Neilson.” Ms. Sweetsir continues.

“Um, I have a retainer I wear at night time to help my teeth.” He says.

“Lame.” Rocky says.

“One more rude interruption Rocky and I will be forced to take disciplinary action.” Ms. Sweetsir warns… Now it’s my turn again. With that warning maybe Rocky won’t have a come back to what I say but I don’t have anything. Just cloths, which is just like Peaches’ sweater, my knee brace, no different than Little Dickey’s retainer… I have my prayer bear…

“Miss Bates.” Ms Sweetsir says.

“I have a bear. It’s made out of real Alpaca skin. I’ve had it since I was born.” I say, and hold my breath.

“Cool a dead animal,” Rocky says. He looks at Ms. Sweetsir, “What?” He asks in response to her pursed lip. “ It was a supportive comment.” He defends.  She just sighs.

After group we have a break before lunch. My leg is still pounding and my head hurts really bad now. I know Mr. Dumb won’t give me any pain meds but I need something. I walk up to the med counter. Instead I see Mr. Steward there.

“Hi Miss Bates, How can I help you?” He asks with a smile.

“I know I wouldn’t take my meds before but my leg really hurts and I have a headache.” I say. “Can I please have something for pain.”

“Well, let me look in the chart.” He says. After about a minute he gets out a bottle of pills. “You have a prescription here for pain. It’s a PRN so you can take it or refuse it whenever you want.” He says.

“But I was told ‘cause I refused it I couldn’t have it any more.” I questioned.

“That rule only applies to certain medications, not PRNs.” He explains. He gives me two tablets. “Those should help you feel better.”

“Thanks” I say.

“So you brought a teddy bear.” Rocky whispers in my ear. “How cute.”

“Not just any bear.” I defend. Then I lower my voice to a whisper as well. “It happens to have a flask of brandy inside it.”

“You’re kidding me?” He says, his eyes twinkling. “Why haven’t you had any then?”

“Because I sewed it back up real fine so my Dad wouldn’t find it. There’s nothing around here to cut the stitching with.” I explain.

“I have something.” He smiles.

“What?” I ask. He gets really close so his arm is resting against my breast.  I can feel his heart beating. He shows me a piece of metal .

“I stole this from one of the staff and I’ve been sharpening it.  It cuts really well. When you free up the flask we’ll have to get together and have a party.” He says. His face is just inches from mine as he places the piece of metal in my hand. “Don’t let the staff see it, Brandy” He winks. “It’s considered a weapon.” I put the piece into my pocket as he walks away.

“Miss Bates,” Ms. Sweetsir says as she walks up to me with the new girl tagging behind like a dog, “Miss Summers is being assigned to your room. Will you please show her where it is?” Oh great, a roommate. I knew my luck couldn’t last.

“Sure” I say “this way.” As we enter the room. I point to the plastic bed and wall desk directly opposite my plastic bed and wall desk.  “That’s yours. We share a bathroom with the room adjacent to ours so never open the door without knocking first.” I warn her. “The sheets are in the draws under the desk.”

“I’m sorry about what I said in group.” The girl says “I know I haven’t made a very good first impression. My Mom always says the first impression is the most important.”

“Don’t sweat it.” I say “It’s not like we’re building a lifelong friendship here. Here today gone tomorrow.”

“So how long does someone usually stay here?” She asks.

“The minimum stay is six months.” I say.

“Six months??” Her eyes get wide and fill with tears. “I was told I would only be here a week!”

“Don’t freak about it, they tell a lot of first timers that, then wonder why us kids lie so much, we’ve got great role models. ”

It’s time for lunch and we all get in line, like cattle lining up at the feeding trough.  I feel great to have a sharp object in my possession again. Now that the pain meds are working I wonder if I’ll be able to feel the blade across my arm and of course the brandy. I haven’t had anything to drink in three days. I feel high just thinking about it.

“Hey,” says a soft voice from behind me in line. “Can I sit with you today?” It’s Peach.

“Sure why not.” I say. Lunch blows by, I am too excited about the brandy to eat. Peach talks the whole time. I ignore her.

“So can I hang out with you during break after we have individual sessions?” Peach asks.

“No I’m busy.” I say.

“Well I’ll stop by any way in case you change your mind.” She persists.

“Don’t bother.” I say.  I didn’t realize she could be so annoying.

“Can I see your teddy bear?” Peach asks.

“No.”I say.

“You can wear my sweater.” She says.

“You’re half my size, it wouldn’t fit.” I scowl at her.

“But you can wear it any way that’s what friends do, share stuff. You’re my friend right.” She looks up at me, kind of stupid like.

“No.” I say.  “I’m not your friend.”

“Oh you don’t mean that. I’ll see you later, after session. Bye.” She says as she gets up to leave. Man she is annoying like a little rat chewing on your head board at night.

My therapist is a push over. All she does is sit there behind her desk watching me till I say something but today I am going to play her like these people always play me.

“So how are you doing today?” She asks. I don’t give her the usual silent treatment.

“Horrible” I say. “I am in a lot of pain. My leg really hurts and my head is pounding. I just want to go back to my room. It really hurts.” Tears swell in my eyes and my voice cracks. I am such a good actor, especially since those pills before lunch worked great. They were those fancy pills only the hospital can give you. I was hoping to get more.

The tears were really coming now. “I’m sorry I refused the meds earlier, I was just mad but it’s been hurting so bad and I just can’t stand it anymore, Can I please have something for the Pain? Mr. Drumard wouldn’t give me any ‘cause he said I refused but Mr. Steward said I could have them whenever I needed them and I really hurt.” I sob. She really looks concerned.

“Of course you can. We can cut session short and after you take your medication you can go rest in your room for awhile.” She helps me get up and I limp to the door and down the hall. She helps support me the whole way.

Mr. Drumard is at the med counter again. “Miss Bates needs her prescription.” She says forcefully.

Mr. Drumard takes note of her tone and the tears streaming down my face. He gets the med book out.  “She’s already had some meds before lunch.” He says. I let out a stifled whimper.

“Isn’t her prescription PRN?” my therapist asks.

“Well yeah but these are pretty powerful meds, she can wait awhile.” He tries to say but his voice trails off as her back stiffens.

“Mr. Drumard. You may be certified to hand out the meds but you’re not a Doctor. I already know that you’ve refused this girl her medication in the past and unless you want me to fill out a written complaint, I suggest you follow the PRN prescription.” With that I got my extra meds and time alone in my room while all the other kids were still in session. The new girl would probably be late getting back as well since she had to go through care planning. This was perfect.

I lay on my bed for a few minutes to avoid suspicion. The second batch of meds is working and I’m starting to feel like I’m floating. I pull the sharpened piece of metal out of my pocket. It has writing on it. Some Bible verses. I know who he stole this from; It used to be Mr. Stewards Bracelet.  The verse is John 3:16. Yeah, Mr. Steward is a great guy. It’s a shame about his bracelet but hey it does make a handy knife. I slice open the back of my bear, stitch by stitch. My Mom gave me this bear. She called it my prayer bear. She said that all her hopes and dreams for me were inside of it. Some dream she turned out to be. I barely remember her anymore. Dad didn’t believe me when I said she went to sleep in the pool with her clothes on. I was too young to know to get help when she tripped and fell in. I didn’t know she hit her head. I thought she went for a swim and feel a sleep. I was only five. It wasn’t my fault.

I feel for the flask and pull it out. An envelope falls out with it. I use the bracelet to open it.

My baby,

An angel sent from heaven.  Today is your birth day, your first day in the sunshine but God knew you and loved you before you were conceived and I have loved you from the moment of your conception. You have been a part of me, growing, breathing, our hearts, beating as one. I thank God for your miracle. I pray he keeps you safe in all your days and that you come to know his love just as I have come to know him. His love is even greater than mine is for I am only here for a moment. God is here always.

If I were to die tomorrow I would still be the happiest woman in the entire world for being blessed with you. I pray you will be patient with your father and I as we grow together. We will do our best but we all make mistakes along the way. I pray you find in your heart the unconditional love and forgiveness that only God can give. I pray he keep you and guides you all your days.

Love,

Your Mother.

I crumple the letter up and throw it against the wall. I’m not waiting for Rocky, this is my Brandy. Yeah, that’s what they can call me, Brandy! I drink it down all at once. The burning feels good but it’s not enough. I look at the faded scars on my wrists. I need pain.

“Whatcha doin?…” that annoying voice. Peaches!

“Nothing, get out of here!” I snarl at her.

“But session is over; I want to see your bear… Is that alcohol?” She asks stepping closer.

“No, it’s empty!” I say. The brandy is really hitting me now, not like it ever has done before. It must be the pills and I am getting really angry at this annoying little brat.

“You know that’s not allowed.” She continues. “I’m telling.” She says and turns to leave.

What do I care, it’s empty so what can they do anyway. The knife however is a different story. I quickly stash it in the other girls back pack then I lunge at Peaches. I can’t help but laugh, creamed peaches. She is so small I pick her up without a problem. I feel great, my blood is racing and this little rat deserves it. I throw her into the bathroom and she hits her head hard on the toilet as she goes down. She screams like a rat too but she stops screaming before she hits the floor…

They take her out in a stretcher, that’s all I know.

They take me out in cuffs.

The lights on the police car look like a color war between hell and heaven, red, blue, red, blue, red, blue.

My mind goes black then white, I’m at the hospital and a light is in my eye.

Black then white like red-blue, everything goes black. It’s white again; I’m in a padded cell, Detox? It is black, night, it is white, day.  Breakfast? No way. I’m being read my rights.  I think about mom’s letter. Does God really forgive? Does he really love me?… The door closes behind me.

The Newbie (part of the series “InTo SIN, The Story Is Not Over”)

I stare at the note on the refrigerator door. The penmanship is so curly cute on pink floral paper, it makes me want to puke; even worse, it smells of “Red”. When Dee Dee puts her “signature scent” to her little notes, I always know she’s feeling guilty about something.

“Hey girl!” it says with artificial hearts replacing all the dots and extra swirls on all the lines. “The lasagna is defrosting in the fridge. I am off to my photo shoot! John and I will be home late, connections, connections!” (Smiley face) “Kiss, Kiss” signed “Dee Dee”

This makes the third day this week, not bad really except that it’s only Tuesday. Not that I care, so they come home late and tipsy. It just means no nagging questions over dinner, then they sleep-in… less hassle around the breakfast table. I have enough worries with a new school anyway. I don’t need their song and dance of parenthood.

The lasagna weighs heavy in my hands. I put it down and pick up the empty box. I scan it for cooking directions. Instead I find the ingredients list. It takes up half the box and sounds more like my science book than food.

“Ingredients: Lasagna with Meat Sauce variety: Cooled mini lasagna noodles (water, semolina flour (enriched flour, niacin, iron, thiamine mononitrate, riboflavin, folic acid)), water, tomato paste, Hala beef, mozzarella cheese (part skim milk, cheese cultures, salt, enzymes), onions, cottage cheese, (milk ingredients, bacterial culture, microbial enzyme), beef base (hydrolyzed corn protein, monosodium glutamate, disodium inosinate, disodium guanylate), sugar, granulated garlic, salt, basil, fennel, oregano, onion powder, pepper”…

Like I’m going to put all that in my body!

I find the directions and pop it into the oven anyway. I carefully place the box on the counter for later, “Let the ritual begin.”  I laugh to myself, just as the phone rings.

“Hi yah, Pip” the voice on the other end of the line chirps.

“Hi.” I reply flatly.

“I’ve been waiting to hear what it’s like at Kennedy High but you haven’t called.” Bunny continues. My mouth begins to go dry. It’s not that I don’t like Bunny, but she’s bad for my image.

Dee Dee always says, “You can’t make connections with the disconnected.” I can’t be seen with an eighth grader, especially one that calls me “Pip”.

“Pip” is my Grammies nickname, just as “Bunny” is the name of her Grandma, along with “Cubby”, my other ex-friend, given the same fate by her Granny. We were the hope for the next generation of “The sewing circle”. Even Cubby, as a seventh grader, has enough sense to know that Fresh man year is a one shot deal. She stopped calling after I snubbed her by quitting 4-H. It was Dee Dee’s idea. “Popular kids don’t do 4-H.” Even though John was a 4-Her when he was a kid, he didn’t protest when Dee Dee said it was time for me to move on. He didn’t protest even when I said I didn’t want to “Move on”.

Bunny persisted in her enthusiastic tone as if the lengthy silence, a sign of my reluctance to talk to her, didn’t exist, “Sooo, what’s it like being the newbie?”

I caved. “It’s O.K.” I said. A part of me wanted to return to my preteen days and break out in exited chatter to say… “It’s great! There’s this cute guy in my science class. His name is Chris. He plays football and his sister, Cassandra, is captain of the cheer leading squad! He hooked me up and I got accepted to try outs tomorrow!” Instead I bit my lip.

“Look,” I said, “I’d love to talk but my Mom went to the spa this morning to have a fish pedicure where Gara rufa, which are carp fish, eat your dead skin, but the spa’s delivery got mixed up with the exotic fish store’s order of Paranha, and the new attendant didn’t know the difference, so she put the Paranha in the foot bath and they bit Dee Dee’s little toe off.  Don’t worry though; they cut the fish open before it digested it. The Doctors say they can sew it back on. I have to go to the hospital to visit her so I’ll have to talk to you later. Bye.”

“Oh, O.K.” came the short reply. I am relieved at the sound of “click” and silence.

As I sit at the table, the smell of lasagna fills the room. My stomach makes a rumbling sound. I look over at the empty box on the counter and return to my task. The trash can is half full. Luckily Dee Dee is a perfectionist when it comes to notes. Several pink floral sheets of paper lie crumpled up on top of John’s morning news. I carefully remove these items, brushing off the scrambled eggs and coffee grounds from breakfast. Luckily Dee Dee and John have stopped inviting me to breakfast after my numerous complaints about the fat in egg yolks, cruelty to chickens, preservatives and colorants, grease, oil and sugar. Now however, she cooks too much and I am left scraping them off the much needed resources for my supper exploits. I place these co-conspirators on top of the box for later.

Thirty more minutes tick by. I pull the lasagna out of the oven and my mouth waters. I cut an extra large piece and put it on a plate. I sit down at the table with fork and knife in hand, staring at the huge heap of pasta, oozing with red meat sauce and dripping with layers of cheese. I put the knife and fork down, turn the plate a quarter ways around, and then proceed to cut the entrée into smaller than bite size pieces. The procedure takes another fifteen minutes. It now looks like a pile of regurgitated road kill. I get up and scrape the whole nasty mess into the bottom of the trash can. Success! I didn’t take a bite. On top of this I toss the newspaper and pink floral notes. With a great sense of accomplishment, I perch the empty lasagna box on top like a trophy. I put the left over’s in the fridge for John and Dee Dee’s late night nibbling.

Free from these dinner time hassles, I whip through my home work. Tomorrow can’t come soon enough. I head downstairs to Dee Dee’s exorcise room. She always has the latest equipment and fad accessories.  It’s the one benefit of having a model for a mom. 700 calories on the cross trainer, then weights, the exercise bike for my whale thighs… I don’t even remember going upstairs to bed.

I get up extra early. This is the big day, my one chance to make a good impression. The squad only has one space open for a fresh man this year. I have to be the best and the lightest. I take the midriff flex, form-fit uniform with matching skirt out of my closet. It is made of red and black glimmer fabric with “wildcats” displayed across the breast, size 4. Dee Dee had bought it two sizes too small last spring, saying if I really wanted to make the team it would fit me by try outs. They must have made a mistake in sizing because it seemed to big now… I might have small hips but my belly bulges out like a cancerous tumor. My fat arms don’t help either. I take it off and pack it in my bag.

I am surprised when I go down stairs and Dee Dee is sitting at the breakfast table.

“Hey sugar!” She says with a beaming smile followed by a stifled yawn. “My shooting star! Going far! Today is the big day huh? Oh, you look great. I am so glad you took my advice and cut down on all that junk food. Chocolate just ruins your complexion you know.”

I don’t bother to tell her that they rebutted that myth years ago.

“How about some breakfast? We have all natural low fat goat cheese on Melba toast, 100% juice, fresh from the press with no added sugar, and a free range hard-boiled egg, minus the yolk.”

“No thanks.” I say. “I promised Cassandra I would have breakfast at school with her to go over the routine.”

“Go over the routine!” Dee Dee shrieks.

She is so temperamental when she’s tired.

“Haven’t I always told you that being unprepared is like being under privileged, success is nothing more than a dream for both. Is that all your going to do with your life, dream? The least you could have done is told me before I went out and spent money at that natural foods market to get this stuff. You’ve been harping so much lately about the ingredients in this and the chemicals in that. I try to do one nice thing for you, spend a little quality mother daughter time, and this is how it turns out? Why bother!” with that she turns and storms upstairs to her room. I just roll my eyes. Oh the melodrama!

Just then Dad comes down stairs, dripping from the shower. “What have you done now?” He asks. “Don’t you know Dee Dee has an important interview this afternoon? Why are you always stressing her?”

“Me?” I protest, “What about her? She’s stressing me and I have tryouts today. I don’t need her guilt trip. Maybe she should go into acting instead of modeling; she certainly has you tricked into this pity party.”

“Do not talk about your mother that way. She planned this breakfast especially for you. We had to go out of our way yesterday to find that hippy marketplace. Why can’t you go on a normal diet like most people anyway?”

I didn’t wait around for the rest of John’s lecture. The last I heard was something about “this isn’t over…” and “when you get home…” as a grabbed for my book bag and headed out the door.

When I got to school I went straight to the locker room to weigh in. 98 pounds. I was hoping to get down to at least 95. I’ll have to continue my fast until after tryouts and ditch my vitamin drinks, maybe I can lose some water weight before this afternoon. My stomach feels really tight but it stopped hurting awhile ago.

My first class is music appreciation-the Italian opera. Luckily all we have to do is watch an opera in class as a backdrop for a paper next week. It’s an opera that was written in the 1600’s. I laugh as I think to myself, “Hey, I wonder if they recorded this way back then.” Yeah it’s a lame joke but it still makes me giggle. Or maybe I just need a nap. As the opera singers move across the stage, all I can think about is flips and cheers. I imagine the fat tenor doing a cart wheel and have to cover my mouth to hold back a chuckle.

When the lights come on the teacher comments, “I didn’t realize that Orfeo, as an Italian version of a Greek tragedy could evoke a comic response. Maybe the individual who found such humor can use their unique perception in next week’s paper.” I duck out hoping no one inadvertently glances my way and exposes me.”

Next is Science-the physical properties of flight. Yesterday I was paired with Amber for team projects. She’s actually really nice but I’ve held back on getting to know her ‘till I find out where she fits socially. Dee Dee always says you have to pick your contacts carefully.

Amber is cheerful as usual as she says, “I was thinking we could do a visual project showing the flight pattern and wing structure of the swan. I found this great resource at the library on the mute swan. I have already read it so you can borrow it tonight.”

“Yeah, that sounds great.” I say. “I like swans.”

As we flip through the book together for rough ideas, I can’t help but warm up to her small talk. Every day she makes a point to say hello, even though I ignored her for the first week of school. Someone said she wasn’t cool and I didn’t want to take a chance.

On the third day of school she came up to me in the hall and said, “I notice you get to school early every morning, I run a prayer group before school, would you like to join us tomorrow?” Although I never went, it felt good to be invited. She kept inviting me every day since. Today was no different.

“I have a flyer I printed up for prayer group that explains it better.” She smiles as she hands me a piece of paper with a picture of a man on his knees. His hands are raised and tears run down his face. The picture makes me feel awkward but at the same time, I wish I was that man. Something about him seems…happy.

“Maybe I will.” I smile as the bell rings. Maybe I will.

As I jump up to leave I run right into Chris in the doorway-Literally. The impact almost knocks me over. My heart stops. He is so cute.

“You’ll need better coordination than that if you’re gonna win at tryouts this afternoon.” He says “You look good in those jeans though, I can’t wait to see you in the midriff flex.” He smiles with a wink. I shove the flyer deep into the pocket of my skin tight jeans. I hope he doesn’t notice my big butt. I swear I am going to faint. “See you this afternoon.” He says and strolls out of the classroom.

In social studies class we study about the Ozark Mountains. My mind seems a bit to fuzzy to really concentrate. I feel like I’m floating on a cloud. I imagine the Ozarks drifting underneath me. The ticking from the clock on the wall seems louder than the teachers lecture. To keep from dozing off I keep watching it as the hands get closer and closer to third lunch. I don’t know why I’m so tired.

Instead of going to lunch, I sneak into the library without a pass. Usually the librarian just assumes I’m from study hall. So she doesn’t get suspicious, I always check out a book that looks interesting. Today I find, The Interpretation of Dreams, by some guy named Freud. What’s so wrong with dreams anyway? Dee Dee is always saying she doesn’t believe in dreams, only realities. “Dreams are for people to lazy to work to get what they want.” She says. I try to listen to my Mom but sometimes I just don’t agree.

Physical education is my last class. Finally! The after school tryouts are just 80 minutes away. My locker is covered in pictures of models. Not middle age Sunday flyer models like Dee Dee but skimpily clad teen models, real motivators. This is my last chance before I have to weigh in for the squad. ‘Time to work up a sweat. As always Mrs. Prada uses me as a class example of enthusiasm. I ignore her as I pass the slowest guy in class for the fifth time to take another extra lap. Then everything goes black.

I wake up in the nurse’s office. “Your Mother’s on her way.” She says just as I black out a second time.

I don’t know how much time passes. Then I hear Dee Dee’s stressed voice in the outer office. “She does not have a weight problem! She happens to be physically fit.” She says. “I can’t believe you pulled me away from an important interview for this!” Her voice is growing higher and louder, but the Nurse keeps rattling off numbers and statistics. When the nurse says the “A” word, Dee Dee goes silent. Then the Nurse mentions the “B” word, like gross. Dee Dee freaks at the word vomit.

“If you are not going to take action then as the school nurse I will have to refer her myself.” I hear the Nurse say.

“No, I’ll take care of it. I’ll have to call my Agent. I expect discretion from the school. I don’t need this kind of publicity.” Dee Dee grumbles.

“Of course.” The nurse replies curtly.

After 30 minutes of Cell phone conversation Dee Dee walks into the nurse’s office with my book bag and cloths. “Let’s go.” She says with a stern face.

“This is no big deal Mom,” I try to reason. Her sharp eyes remind me not to call her Mom. “”Mom” is for housewives not models.” She would always say. She didn’t have to actually say it now, the words echoed in my head without her making a sound. Oh, how I hated some of her “Hundred rules to live by” quotes. They seem to have grown into a thousand over the years.

“I was only dieting for the try outs.” I continue to protest. “We can’t leave now.”

“You have no choice.” She explains. The school nurse is going to call the department if I don’t take you to see someone. I don’t have time for this! I had to leave in the middle of my interview! It took my agent months to book this opportunity. Do you know what you have cost me?” By the bright red complexion on her perfectly powdered face, I knew my protests were futile.

We get in her car and drive away…away from my one shot at high school success.

After about thirty endless minutes of silence I ask. “Where are we going?”

“My agent made a few phone calls and found a place out of town. In a week this will all blow over and we can say you came down with a severe case of walking pneumonia.”

“A week, I can’t go away for a week! What will happen to my grades? I won’t get high honors. I’ve already missed my chance at the cheer-leading team. How am I supposed to make a good impression in my fresh man year if I’m in a hospital for a week? I’m not even sick!” I shriek.

“Oh get over it! You think you’re the center of everything don’t you? It’s not a hospital anyway. It’s called “The Youth Foster” or something like that. They help kids with lots of different problems… which jogs my memory me… I got a call from Bunny’s Mom who said she has her whole church praying for my quick recovery and how thankful I should be it wasn’t a facial.”

We drive for another hour. My face is hot from whipping away tears. Mom never listens to me any way, why do I even bother and I can forget about Dad, he always takes her side. According to him she’s the next best thing to Madonna. If I could I’d tell him, “Hey Madonna isn’t a sex goddess any more, she’s just old and so is Mom. Stop treating her like a princess. I’m your Daughter. I’m supposed to be the princess. Mom is more like a wicked step mother than a Mom anyway. I hate them both. I wish I had been adopted or better yet, never born…

The car pulls up to a big brick building. It looks like an orphanage from and old English movie. As we approach the entrance the “old” perception wears off quick. We stand in front of a camera, state our name and are buzzed in through big steel doors.

Mom talks to the reception staff as one person sits me down and asks me a bunch of questions off a clip board. “Have you ever been arrested? Convicted of a felony? Do you smoke? Have you ever taken drugs? Do you drink alcohol? Have you ever been hospitalized for mental illness? Have you ever had thoughts about suicide? Are you sexually active? Do you have any communicable diseases? …”

I sit, stunned, looking like an idiot in my tea shirt and gym shorts and I stink. I’ll never complain about taking a shower after gym again…

Finally Mom comes over. “I called John,” She says. “You’ve really disappointed your Father. Maybe this will give you an opportunity to think about how you treat us.”

“You’re leaving me here?” I ask. I can’t believe it. What did I do wrong?

“Just for a routine evaluation, we’ll see you in a couple of days.”  She says. She acts so casual I want to slap her face and scream at her “A couple of days! Why don’t you just ship me to a third world country, sell me into slavery, make a profit while your ruining my life?” instead I just stare at her. I can’t speak. She walks away without even saying goodbye.

“Turn your pockets inside out and lift your hands above your head.” A woman says sternly. I do so as if in a dream. She pats at my sides like I’ve seen in cop shows on T.V.

“This way.” The guy with the clipboard says.

“What about my things?” I ask.

“You’ll get them after they’re searched and cleared.” He says back. We walk towards another set of steel doors. A buzzer sounds and the door opens. I glance back at my back pack on the table. A man is going through the pocket of my jeans. He pulls out a crumpled piece of paper, reads it and tosses it into a trash can. The flier Amber gave me earlier. “I guess I won’t be going to prayer group.” I think as the door closes behind me.

 

 

 

 

The Man (Part of the series “InTo SIN, The Story Is Not Over”)

The Man.

Brandy… makes my heart race, my body warm, and my mind numb. I could really party with brandy…

“Hidee ho Mr. Dunn.” Mr. Stifleman says cheerfully as I walk into session. What a goof ball. He looks goofy too. Mr. Stifleman is my therapist. He is tall and lanky with a long face and bushy eyebrows. He lets his mustache grow down off his chin and curl up at the edges. He even pulls at it when he thinks. Every kingdom needs a jester. This is my kingdom.

“How is ADITLO.” He says as he leans back in his leather chair. The legs are worn down and rounded as he lifts them off the floor in his makeshift rocker. “ADITLO” is his saying for “a day in the life of”. I’m supposed to spill my guts.

“Good.” I say. Good to keep it brief, make him work for my words, then I’ll feed him a few lines and sit back to watch the show…“I met a cute girl today.” I bait him.

“Is this the same one as the other day?” He asks, taking the bait.

“No, I said I met her today. For a guy who is supposed to listen, you don’t do a very good job.” I slam.

“That is a hurtful thing to say.” He replies. “How might you express yourself in a more positive manner?”  Mr. Stifleman asks but I know the damage’s been done. I can tell ‘cause he shifts his seat and comes unbalanced.  He leans forward now, all four feet on the floor, with his arms on his desk.

“When I have to repeat myself I feel like I am not being heard.” I say on cue. Mr. Stifleman smiles, he looks proud of himself and of his pupil.

“You’re Dad,” He asks. “does he hear you?” Crap. I knew this was coming especially with my visit tomorrow.

“Yah he hears. My Dad’s great. He’s the only person who’s ever heard Me.” …My Dad used to let me smoke and we’d get drunk. He talked to me like a man. I was The Man. Just thinking about how great it used to be makes me wish session was over.

“Do you have any plans for tomorrow?” Mr. Stifleman continues to press.

“I’m not planning on stealing any cars, if that’s what you mean.” I accuse.

“No, that’s not what I meant. I mean, do you know what you are planning on saying to him?” He asks. Mr. Stifleman is so easy to shake up. If I keep him on the defensive then there’s less of a chance of him hitting any sore spots.

“I plan on saying hi.” I say.

Mr. Stifleman looks at me. There is that stupid mustache twist he does. He leans back in his chair again. “Tell me about this new girl.” He says finally.

“She’s a hotty, couldn’t keep her eyes off me this morning. I could really get into her…Pants that is.” I smile smugly. Mr. Stifleman continues to pull at his mustache. I get away with saying more in session then in other groups. I keep waiting for lectures but all he does is twist the mustache. If I had my knife with me now, I’d grab it and cut it off.

“What happened to your interest in the other girl?” He asks.

“Oh, she’s still a hotty. I had her drooling over me after exercise, real wet. Her pants will fit nice too.” I smirk.

“Have you talked to either of these girls?” Mr. Stifleman continues.

“Of course, they’re in my group this month.” I say.

“Do you even know their names?” He asks.

“What’s in a name? Babes like men who treat them like they are, chicks, I like my chicks southern style, hot and spicy with fat drumsticks and smothered in oil.” I say.

He stops twisting his mustache and leans forward. “That sounds like something your Dad would say.” Mr. Stifleman says. “How do you really feel about these girls?”

“They’re o.k..” I say. I ignore his comment about Dad. He’s just trying to get a rise out of me. The new girl with blue eyes and blond hair is even kinda sweet but she’s way too lean for my tastes. I like the other one. She’s got just enough cushions for comfort. “I was even supportive of them in group this morning. “ I say. I don’t tell him how one of them smuggled in some brandy or our plans of getting together later and partying with it.

“This reminds me,“ Mr.stifleman says,“ the monthly group rotation starts next week. I am signing you up for Anger management again, seeing that you were suspended from the last one for fighting… So how have you been getting along with Mr. Frost?” He asks.

“Fine.” I say. “The Jack ass is leaving tomorrow any way.  He’s only been here six months. I’ve been here for eleven, ever since me and my Dad got busted. It’s not fair.” I say. The conversation is starting to piss me off. “Jack off” got busted for the same thing as me. So what if he stole food. What’s the difference between stealing some bread and fencing goods? Me and Dad used the money to buy food. If anything me and Dad worked like real businessmen, not like that petty theft bum, we were pro’s. Dad said we were part of a righteous system.   What we stole had to be replaced which made the economy better and then when we sold it, we kept the pawn guy employed…  regular business men and I heard that “Jack shit” ran off.  When the heat came down on me and Dad I gave up quick and easy. I’ll never admit I was too scared to move.  Dad though, he moved, left me in the dust and they were heavy on him for that. They didn’t get him though ‘til three weeks later. Mr. Stifleman once asked me how I felt about my Dad leaving me behind like that. Hell, it’s not like we were at a baseball game together. Dad always says you have to cover your own ass, run – don’t look back. That’s the only way to stay ahead. My Dad really knows the circuit. He’s the man.

“It’s good to see you expressing your feelings.” Mr. Stifleman says. “You’ve made a lot of progress. In another month you’ll have your care plan meeting. Have you been thinking about your options for placement?”

“I don’t need no frigin placement.” I say. Some choices I have anyway. With Dad in the pen I can either stay with my bible thumpin Aunt and Uncle or foster homes. “I can take care of myself.”

“That’s not an option. If you haven’t made a decision by this Friday, then the decision will be made for you. Is that what you want?” is Mr. Stifleman’s reply.

“No.” I say.

Finally session is over. I have some time before supper to find Brandy. I check out the common room but she’s not there. Neither is the new girl.

“Hi Rocky” says Peaches in her fruity little voice.  Peaches reminds me of my cousin. Not her annoying habit of clinging to any one that smiles at her but her size. She’s the youngest kid here and small for her age so she looks even younger. I wonder if she’ll ever grow any bigger. My cousin has reddish hair like hers. I guess that’s why I made the mistake of sticking up for her once when Wally, the girl version of me but twice as big, decided to pick on her. I never hit a girl before but she swung first. We came to a mutual understanding. Now Peaches thinks she’s my friend no matter how mean I am to her.  She’s kinda like a little puppy.

“Hey squirt, don’t bug me I’m looking for someone.” I say.

“Who ya looking for?” She asks.

“The new girl.” I say.

“Well if you’re looking for Miss Summers, she’s gonna be late, I saw her with her mom and dad. They looked real fancy. Not like my mom and dad. I wonder if they’re rich. Do you think they would want to adopt me?” she asks.

“You have to be an orphan before you’re adopted.” I say.

“What if my parents died? Would they adopt me then?” She continued. I decided to change the subject.

“I’m not looking for that new girl.” I say. “I’m looking for the other one. Is she in the girls ward?” The boys and girls rooms were on separate wings with the common area in the middle and the meeting rooms down a third hall kinda like a big T. The girls ward was off limits to boys and vice versa.

“I was gonna stop by her room to say hi so I’ll go check for ya.” Peaches says. She’s off down the hall in a half skip.

I hear Mr. Drumards booming voice from behind the med counter. “Don’t run in the hallways!”

I can’t help but see my little cousin in Peaches. The last time I saw her was… the week after the Christmas before last. We made the trip ‘cross town ‘cause they said they had some gifts for us and we needed some cash. Me and Dad had made five huge scores before Christmas but the media made such a fuss, calling us the grinches that stole Christmas… my Dad loved the publicity. All those kids that we stole from got new stuff from the t.v. station and donations. We actually did them a favor but the stuff we stole was so hot that our connections wouldn’t take it until it cooled off a bit. My niece was so excited she kept skipping around the house. She gave me a really cool Jacket that she bought herself with her own money.  It was really nice and must have cost over fifty bucks. We got ten bucks for it at pawn. It bought us some cigarettes. The other stuff, toys and junk, a skate board, a portable c.d. player and a few sets of nice cloths all went for under twenty. We blew through that in a week on booze. The real money came from my Aunts Jewelry box. My job was to keep them distracted while Dad was “Napping” from all the “overtime” he had been working. My Dad’s great at lying. The next day my Uncle came to visit my Dad and my Dad started yelling at him. Then my Dad started accusing me. I knew it was an act but he grabbed me hard and threatened to beat the shit out of me if I had stolen anything. He did such a good job, I was really scared. After that they never asked about the stuff again.  I saw my Uncle again at my hearing. He stood up for me. I was surprised. He said all I needed was a chance to be around some good role models… I wonder what’s taking Peaches so long when I hear the seclusion bell. When that happens, unless we’re in session, group or a meeting we have to go to our rooms. I guess my party’s gonna wait.

My room is boring. There’s nothing in it but a bed attached to the wall with a rubber mattress on it. A desk was built into the wall too with some drawers under them. I’ve a room by myself ‘cause they caught me stealing from the adjoining room one time. They never found the loot I had gathered before they caught me. I got a retainer from this one kid. He cried for a whole week before they got a replacement. That one was easy ‘cause he left it on his desk during the day. I knew they would get him another so I never felt bad. I stole a bracelet from Mr. Steward. That was tricky ‘cause he only took it off to help us kids do dishes if we were on restriction and so I had to take it real quick and slick with everyone milling around after meals. I actually got on restriction on purpose so I could grab it. It looked kind of like a dog tag and had a bible verse on it. When I sharpened the metal edge it made a great knife. I gave it to the Brandy to borrow though. That’s what I’ve decided to name her, ‘cause she smuggled in the brandy. I hope I get it back tonight ‘cause I’m planning on giving Jack a little going away present. The last little treasure I have belonged to him. I didn’t really steal it. When Jack first arrived he had this Black book that some other kid tried to tear up. I saw Mr. Drumard throw the cover away but Jack made such a fuss about it, the rest of the book got put into his locker in the office. I grabbed the cover out of the trash when the staff wasn’t looking.  It was the cover to a bible. On the back side of it is part of a letter written by Grandpa Frost, the first few lines had been ripped so I couldn’t read them but whenever I get to missing my Dad I read what I can.  I pull it out and read it now.

…..  life is not always easy.  It will have its ups and downs as you know too well.  When you think about your Mom and Dad, bear in mind, I lost them too. With Gods’ help we will get through this together. It’s not what life takes from you but how you take what life gives you and use it to make life better. In this book you’ll find what you’re looking for. You just have to open your eyes. I pray God will fill the hole in your heart. He can if you just let him in. Remember I am here for you and I love you. God loves you too and when you’re ready you’ll find him here.

Love Grandpa Frost.

I didn’t know any bible verses so I wrote the one that I found on Mr. Stewards Bracelet at the bottom of the page, John 3:16. I don’t know why but it makes me feel strange whenever I read it.

I wonder what caused the alarm. Usually it’s a fight but I didn’t see one when I came onto the boys ward. Maybe Wally on the girls’ side got in a fight. It seems to be taking an awfully long time to clear. I am so bored I fall asleep.

When I wake it’s time for supper. I get in line behind Little Dicky. “How’s your new retainer working out?” I ask him, a private joke just for me.

“O.K.” he says. “They readjusted it so it’s not rubbing my mouth raw anymore.”

When we get to the serving counter it’s burnt Lasagna and runny pudding.  “What happened?” I ask. “Did the cook go on strike?”

“We had an emergency.” Mr. Drumard growls back. “Just be thankful it’s not cold oatmeal.”

“Some Emergency, ” Wally says from behind me. “They took three girls out of here, two in ambulances and one in a police car. It was cool.”

“Who?” I ask.

“Those two new girls and Peaches.” She replies.

“What happened?” I ask, “Not that I care but it sounds like it was fun to watch.”

“Well, I didn’t really see what happened. All I know is they took Peaches out in an ambulance, and the other one that came in last week, out in cuffs then later the ambulance had to come back and take the newest girl out, you know the goody two shoes with the blond hair.”

“Cool.” I say but my insides feel like they’re shaking. I feel sick to my stomach. All I can think about is the knife I Gave Brandy. What happened? I don’t bother with supper. I ask Mr. Steward to be excused. I say I’m sick. He walks with me back to my room.

“One of the girls from your morning group was found with a sharp piece of metal this afternoon.” He says to me when we reach my door. “It was a bracelet that I lost a little while ago.” He continues. I don’t make eye contact. “It had been sharpened by someone into a knife. Would you happen to know anything about it?” He asks.

“No.” I lie. “and if I did I wouldn’t tell. I’m not a rat.” I say.

“A rat is someone who lets a friend get hurt just to save their own skin.” Mr. Steward says. “I know you’re not a rat. If you want to talk, about anything, I’m here.” He says.

I decide to go to bed early but it doesn’t help. I keep dreaming about Peaches being put into an ambulance, cut up by my knife, or Brandy, was she drunk? The new girl…?

I wake up to the breakfast bell. We have thirty minutes from the first bell to be in the cafeteria. I get there late. Breakfast is getting over. When I walk in I see Jack. I hear him asking a group of girls about the new girl. He calls her Swan. The Jerk thinks he’s a big shot giving out knick names just ‘cause he’s getting out today.

“Swan?” I say. “You mean dead duck. That new girl she did herself yesterday, from her wrist to elbow. They should have done a strip search when they let her in. Boy that girl knew her stuff.”Jack looked at me with a horrified expression. I can lie better than my dad and it feels good to cut him deep.  I didn’t even need my knife.

“Mr. Frost. Your case worker is here.” Mr. Steward says. One less Jack in the box.

Morning exercise goes by in a haze. Ms. Sweetsir calls me in for group. It’s just me and Little Dicky.

“I can’t go into detail about what happened last night,” Ms. Sweetsir says. “However, if you know anything about the sharpened piece of metal or the brandy that was found you need to tell us. Our number one priority here is to keep everyone safe.” She says.

“Is Miss Bligh dead?” Little Dicky asks. “Was the piece of metal my retainer?” he continues.

“Don’t be stupid!” I yell. “I have your retainer you weasely piece of shit.” I confess; anything to change the subject.

“Why did you take my retainer?” He whines.

“”cause you have a little dick that’s why.” I yell at him.

“Mr. Dunn that is enough!” Ms. Sweetsir says.

“Why? Isn’t this group all about telling the truth? Don’t the ground rules say no one gets in trouble as long as it’s the truth? The kids nicknamed him Little Dicky ‘cause he has a little penis and no matter how much he pulls on it in the shower it’s not going to get bigger!” I say. Little Dicky breaks out in tears. What a pansy.

Ms. Sweetsir grabs me by the arm. She walks me out into the hall where Mr. Drumard’s stationed as support staff. “Mr. Dunn needs a time out.” She says to Mr. Drumard.  He points to a hard metal chair in an open area of the hall. I sit down with a flop. Ms. Sweetsir goes back into the room to baby Little Dicky.

My free time before lunch is spent watching staff search my room for any other stolen goods.  Mr. Steward finds the bible cover. “What’s this?” He asks.

“I found it in the trash can.” I say.

“It has Mr. Frost’s name on it.” He says.

“I found it in the trash.” I say.

“and your hand writing at the bottom?” He asks. I stare at the wall.

“Am I going to be able to visit my Dad today?” I ask.

“You came clean.” Mr. Steward says. “That takes a lot of courage. You won’t be getting any consequence and even if you were, you would still be able to see your dad.” He reassures me. “Now get ready for lunch. You have a busy day ahead of you.” He smiles.

“What about the cover?” I ask.

“I think Mr. Frost might like this back.” He says. “I have a bible in my car you can have. Why read the cover when you can read the book.”

“Sure” I shrug. I’m not in the mood for lunch. Anyway last time I went to visit my Dad Mr. Steward bought me food at McDonalds. My Dad never took me out to eat anywhere before, not even through the drive through. I want to save my appetite.  I felt bad about what I did, not just the bracelet but his car. I couldn’t help but notice he left the keys in it when we got in. I told my Dad about it and he said it was the perfect opportunity to blow the joint. I heard Mr. Steward got in trouble for leaving the keys there but he didn’t press charges even though I totaled his car. That’s what kept me out of jail. I just got more time here. My Dad would never stick his neck out like that for me. “You got to watch your own ass” that’s what he would say.

‘”You ready to go.” Mr. Drumard said.

“You’re driving me?” I ask.

“Not if you’re going to waste my time talking about it.” He says. “I just want to warn you not to try anything stupid with me or you’ll see yourself in a prison cell right next to your old man.” He growls. “You’ll be there soon enough anyway.”

I don’t bother saying anything back to him. He’s not like Mr. Steward.  Mr. Drumard is more like my Dad.When we get to the prison we check in and Mr. Drumard gets ready to leave.“You’re not walking in with me?” I ask. “Mr. Steward stayed with me until I was able to meet with dad.”

“I’m not a baby sitter.” He says. “You act out here and they have guards that’ll give you a real shake down.  Mr. Steward will be in to pick you up when your visit is over.”  He walks out without another word. I go through the rest of check in alone.

As I follow the guard down the corridor I stop. “Where are we going?” I ask. “My Dad is in general population.”

“Not anymore.” He says and keeps walking.

When I reach Dads new cell area, instead of being led to a visitor’s room I sit at a table with glass between us.“Dad, what’s going on?” I ask.

“Hey there’s the man!” he says. “Did you bring me any cigarettes?”

“No.” I say, “I’m still at that Youth Foster.”

“Yah? You still there? Well when you get out send me a carton of cigarettes.” He says.

“Why aren’t you in general population?” I ask.

“Oh hell, I got in a fight and the guy pulled a shaft but I got him with it instead. It was self defense, nothing to worry about. So did you get more time for that car deal we talked about?” he asks.

“Yeah Dad, I did. I crashed it.” I said.

“ohwhoya! You’re the man! You show the jerk hippies who’s the boss! You keeping up with them finger light skills of yours.” He asks.

“A few things.” I say. “There’s not a lot to pick from.”

“Well, when I get out we’ll get back to business. Nothing can keep pro’s like us down, Not me and the man!” he chuckles.

“When you getting out?” I ask.

“Oh, I got to go to trial about this murder thing first, but I’m not sweating it. I’m covering my ass. You know how it is.” He says.

“Yeah, I know.” I say.

“Next time you come to visit bring me a carton o.k.”

“Yeah.” I say. I get up to leave.

I hear Dad say to the man in the next booth, “That’s my boy, he’s a chip off the old block, just like me. He’s The Man.”

No. I am not The Man. I don’t want to be like you dad, I think to myself. I want to be like Mr. Steward, like Grandpa Frost, like my Uncle. I approach the outer doors. I am not “The Man”. The door closes behind me.

The Swan (part of the series “InTo SIN, The Story Is Not Over”)

THE SWAN

“Where were you last night in your slumbering? Were you snoring through an Opera in Italy in the year 1658, or like me, flying over the Ozarks on the back of a swan?” Her words come fast and excitedly as if she is afraid she will forget what she had planned on saying.

“What are you talking about?” I ask with a twisted expression on my face.

“Dreams” She says. “Don’t you have dreams? The Opera first started in Italy in the 1600’s, haven’t you ever dreamed of going to the Opera, and the Ozarks from way up high, wouldn’t it be beautiful to see the mountains from up so high? Do you believe in God?”

“All I want to do is eat my cereal, do you mind.” With that I get up and move across the room. The blond haired girl is left sitting alone with a single staff member at the cafeteria table. She stares at her eggs as they rubberized before her big blue eyes.

“So who’s your new girlfriend Jack?” Rocky cracks with a wry smile.

“She’s not my girlfriend dufas, and quit calling me Jack.” I reply angrily.

“Mr. Frost, remove yourself to the restriction table, instigating will not be tolerated.” Mr. Drumard states harshly.

“He started it.” I protest.

“Now.” is the cold reply.

“So long Jack” Rocky jabs one last time.

This last day is going to be a long one. Why is the staff always so hard on me? Rocky is the real trouble maker but his dad is made of money, according to Rocky, which makes him exempt from certain rules. When I complained once the staff only said that “each person had individualized care plans and the treatment procedure of others was not a focus of discussion.”

Dunn is Rocky’s real name. The Staff call him Mr. Dunn. First names are never used, it is supposed to prevent unhealthy friendships from forming, protect confidentiality and all that crock. As if the kids are going to form an underground crime syndicate or commit mass suicide when they got out.

Rocky had got his name from a kid who was on his way out of the facility. Kids with seniority always chose the nicknames of new kids. He got it because of his impressions of Rocky Balboa. It wasn’t even a good impression; he just punched some other kid in the nose. Then he raised both hands in the air making cheering crowd impressions till the staff tackled him.

People just assume Rocky started calling me Jack because of my last name, Frost, but Rocky let it be known otherwise by following the term “Jack” with several various swear words out of staff hearing. This happened enough times that just saying “Jack” was enough to get the derogative point across. He would have been gone by now but got more time when he got out and stole a staff member’s car for a joy ride. His rich dad kept him out of jail; Rocky said this was his “country club” option.

“You can’t keep yourself out of trouble for even a day, can you Mr. Frost?” Mr. Steward says while handing me an orange vest to put on. Before I can eat my soggy cereal, breakfast is over. Normally I would have had 30 minutes to eat but now, on restriction I have only 15 and that time was wasted moving from table to table. My stomach growls.

“Times up, clear the table.” Mr. Steward announces. Clean up is always the job of the restriction table.

“Since you’ll be leaving us tomorrow Mr. Frost, I’ll give you the choice, Wash, dry or put away?” Mr. Steward says with a friendly wink.

“I’ll put away.” I say. I know Mr. Steward is trying to cheer me up. He is the only staff member that has treated me half descent this past six months. I also know that if I took my time the rest of the kids will be done washing the tables and the floors before I come out of the kitchen.

At the 30 minute bell all the other kids in the cafeteria line up in their assigned groups for out door exercise. I look over the kitchen serving counter to the blond haired girl staring at the moving crowd with her big blue eyes. She looks like she wants to fly away. Yeah, She looks like a startled bird; maybe a swan.

I see her again at lunch time from across the room. She still sits alone with one staff member at her table. I am sitting, still adorned in an orange plastic vest, at the restriction table. One stupid infraction earns a day of restriction, but “each day starts off with a clean slate.” was the coined phrase of the facility. “Big deal,” I think. I am out tomorrow anyway. Lunch time for those on restriction is 30 minutes, while the other kids have longer but I never understood why. All three meals are the same while on restriction, plain oat meal, no sugar, no salt, just white globs of gruel and usually cold. Before lunch I had been excused from my anger management group to go to discharge planning. I have been assigned a new home in a new school in a new town and am introduced to my new foster parents. The old man is a farmer who promises to build my character with honest work. All I have to do is keep my grades in school above a D average and I can get a job in the fields in the summer and after graduation. Maybe someday I can even be field supervisor. I imagine the stocky woman in the farm house kitchen cooking chicken and mashed potatoes with carrots, peas and apple pie. With that in mind I lose my appetite for lumpy oatmeal. I spend the last 20 minutes staring at the blond haired girl with blue eyes. Suddenly she stares back.

“Times up, clear the table. Mr. Frost, you’ll be washing the dishes this after noon.” Mr. Drumard growls.

“Great,” I think. “Nothing like scraping burnt lasagna off baking pans and runny pudding out of bowls to develop moral fiber.” I keep glancing up at the sink hoping to catch a glimpse of the new girl when she brings her tray to the counter. Every time I strain my neck the staff member who is righting down the meal percentages gives me a sour look. Just as the meal bell rings after a 30 minute wait, the blond haired girl comes to the window with her tray.

“A swan’s egg for you.” I tease when the staff notes that the plate is full.

“Mind your own task.” The staff member warns. The girl quickly averts her big blue eyes, turning abruptly away as she is lead to her assigned group by her orientation staff.

“That was a stupid thing to say.” I thought. I plan on apologizing when I see her at supper. I spend the afternoon packing my scant possessions, three faded blue jeans, two tee shirts and a bible my grandfather had given me. The cover was torn off by some kid who tried to rip it apart when I first arrived. The kid said he was a Satanist and sharing a room with a bible thumper was against his religious freedom. I have never even read it but it is the only thing I own. The staff had put the bible in storage for safe keeping these past months. Now it fits nicely at the bottom of a paper bag with the rest of my stuff.

I look for the blond haired girl at supper but don’t see her. I have decided to give her the nickname swan. I just couldn’t get her words out of my head from breakfast. “Well, tomorrow I’ll be off restriction and I’ll sit at her table.” I thought. Sometimes new kids missed meals, especially if they had to be put into isolation. I had been their a few times for fighting with Rocky. It was a room a little bigger than a closet with padding on the walls and a slot in the door so you could be stared at.

The new girl’s thoughts keep coming back to me. I have dreams; I would love to see an Opera; go to Italy; learn what it was like in the 1600’s, and the Ozarks; to see the mountains from way up high; I don’t know about God, maybe I’ll read my grandfathers bible… I can’t eat a thing for supper, especially not oatmeal that I know they cooked at breakfast. I spend the rest of the night planning what I will say when I see the girl tomorrow.

“Where were you last night in your slumbering? Were you snoring through an Opera in Italy in the year 1658, or like me, flying over the Ozarks on the back of a swan? Have you ever read the bible? My grandfather gave me one…”

The next morning I am up early. My case worker will be in to pick me up after breakfast. I walk into the cafeteria and look around. I don’t see the blond haired girl with blue eyes anywhere. I don’t feel like eating anything, Maypo is to much like oatmeal anyway, so I walk around until I recognize someone from the girls group.

“Where’s Swan?” I ask a girl with brown curls, “The new girl with blond hair?” Before she can answer Rocky butts in as he walks past,

“Swan, you mean dead duck, that new girl she did herself yesterday, from her wrist to elbow. They should have done a strip search when they let her in. Boy that girl knew her stuff.”

“Mr. Frost. Your case worker is here.” Mr. Steward says. I followed him out of the cafeteria to the front desk. I pick up my paper bag and walk toward the locked doors. Just as the door opens the bag rips and my grandfather’s bible falls to the floor.

Mr. Steward picks it up and hands it to me. “Your free flying kid, head for sky.” He says. I managed half a smile with my grandfather’s bible in my hand, maybe I’ll read it. I walk past him slowly as the door closes behind me.

 

 

 

 

“The Tigress and the Kite” the inspiration and meaning behind the story. A dream research essay

I dream I am a Tigress, alone in the wilderness I stride with confidence and the strength of youth in my bones. I am fully content in the comfort of my wilds. As the morning rises, ripples of light intermix with lines of shadow to mark my ginger hide. To my right is a forest of greenery in every shade, and hue. It is a wonderful place for play. So I play as the sun rises. The umbrella canopy of dark foliage, glossy like jade, is suitable shelter from the rays of the high sun. To my left is the light drenched solace of the grasslands that bow in the winds. Sprawled out, I sleep in the fields of long grass, hidden from view, but I sense danger.

I remove myself from the intense heat as the sun sits high in the sky, and skirt the edges of the dappled forest. As the afternoon wanes, I casually wander towards the cool of the deciduous forest. I pause, and smell the air, for the first time unsure of my senses… the smoke of a bush fire? I see a Black Kite hovering mid sky with little effort, and striking skill. It peers intently down, then glides this way, then that way, to hover minutes more elsewhere…but I find no reassurance in this familiar sight. Something is not right.

With a sudden wailing cry, the Black Kite circles in the wind, startling me as it frightfully flutters past in shallow flight. With a bizarre shifting of its character it transforms into a black “V”, free flying, blown by the wind, string tail flailing, until it becomes entangled in the arms of a tree.  I look upon this sight with disturbed concern, and continue my journey around the curve of the forest.

There the wood abruptly ends. The scent of fresh cut grasses, and overturned earth prick at my nose, as a flood of other unfamiliar scents confuse my mind; the hot smell of wet tar. I slow my pace, hairs bristle, muscles twitch, and suddenly there is an eruption from the ground before me. The dirt is flung up, turned over, revealing black, running thick, and slow like a molten river; black that burns, and sticks to my pads, smelling of death. A wall of concrete breaks the ground and pushes upward. Another erupts from out of the earth to join the first, then a third, and a fourth like a volcanic explosion of solidified magma; grey, hard, unnatural rock. All is dark around me darker than the forest at night. The noise assaults my ears, deafening my senses. Thunder shakes the terrain as I run to seek solace in the grasslands, but find none.

I am pursued by monstrous beasts, machines that rip away the field as jaws devour, and long necks swing wildly about, under bright construction lights. These lights blind me, all the while casting darker shadows, as the machines continue their motions. They consume and discard all things loved by me. With quickening bites they leave behind only the rancid stench of black tar. Out of this black erupts, still more square walls of brick and concrete. Higher and higher they climb, blocking out the sky. I dart in and around the commotion. Running through the scene, my paws becoming burnt by the fire; the blistering hot black. I would bolt in the opposite direction yet in all four directions, similar scenes. I narrowly escape the jaws of the metallic beasts who roar at me from unseen faces.

In the panic and fray a shrill sound fills the air. I jump backwards, twisting and turning as if convulsing. It is the sound of laughing children. I feel anger as if these are intrusive prey to my world. A thunderous roar spills out from deep within me. The sound shocks even me, and seems to resonate, permeating the city-scape. The children are momentarily paralyzed. Their laughter turns to high pitched screams. They jump from their places, and flee into the buildings. I pounce on the only thing moving on the landscape, instantly tearing to shreds a small red ball, which was the attention of play moments before. I turn my attention again to this bizarre unknown.

The city seems to continually rise before me. I enter through an open door. I see woman standing at the kitchen sink washing dishes. She screams, and the dishes shatter as they strike against the floor. I bolt out through the open door, back into the darkness of night.

In desperation, I set my eyes on the forest, now a few trees where once uncountable stood, with hopes to soothe the searing hurt. I only find remnants, all greenery quickly withering from view, leaving only the maze of walls. The buzz and chatter of voices surround me like a thick host of insects on a muggy day. They pick at, and pester me, my senses weakened, and my courage lost; I am the hunted. Quivering from shock, darting in, and out between the walls; the grey and black, the walls themselves seem to be in pursuit of me, trying with all cruelty to trap, to crush, closing in.

Faster and faster I flee, sounds making me deaf, smells sickening me, senses dizzying my mind, sights making me blind. I run the opposite way, and the opposite way again, confronted by more; I am trapped. Then everything goes black.

In my dream I awaken inside a room, empty except for a steel mirror… I hear a woman’s voice. I stand on uneasy feet. My paws have become hands. The woman is watching me. I turn, and see a reflection in the mirror. It is of a girl. I look around at the grey; no greenery, no earth, no natural light, no wind, no wilds. An eerie awareness fills me. My sense of smell is fouled by the astringent stench of the sterile, the lifeless. My image in the reflection wavers as if a pebble was tossed into the water; full awareness overcomes. My body trembles as I remember metallic monsters devouring forests and fields. The smell of hot black, wet grey, cold unnatural stone causes fear to swell. I am trapped. My mind spins, staring at the sickly form that is me, yet is not me. I cry out, throwing my body against the mirrored image, again and again as my screams become a roar. I lunge from wall to wall, seeking any weakness, my claws scratching, but I find no escape from this confinement. I collapse in exhaustion, my fur wet with perspiration, as the echoes in my mind slowly fade. A man’s voice disturbs the momentary silence of my thoughts.

“You don’t belong here!”

I see the barrel of the gun raise. I hear the thunder. I smell the pungent smoke and hot metal; I feel the flash of fiery pain in my skull. Then all is darkness…

Awakened from my nightmare I sit upright and I write my dream down. I keep it for years and years. Eventually it becomes a fictional story but originally it was not fiction. It was a dream, a real dream. I still feel its emotion; I see the images like it was yesterday. It was a dream I had over 25 years ago, I wrote it down at the time because it was real, because I wanted to know, what did it mean?

Throughout history many philosophies, based on religious beliefs, popular beliefs and scientific beliefs exists concerning the purpose of, or meaning of dreams. “In Greek poetry of the classical period from Homer onward, as in popular belief, dreams are real if immaterial things” (Redfield p. 6). Throughout history people have believed that dreams where messages from the spiritual realm, or communications from a higher power. In ACTS 2:17 king James version “And it shall come to pass in the last days, saith God, I will pour out of my Spirit upon all flesh: and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, and your young men shall see visions, and your old men shall dream dreams” Studies support that even in Western cultures dreams as a form of divine guidance is a strongly held belief. (Nell p. 128).

Many westernized beliefs also hold that dreams are a result of external rather than internal factors. The character of Ebenezer Scrooge believed himself to be dreaming as a result of undigested food for example. This belief seems one designed more to negate the importance of the dream and limit the understanding of self and society that can be discovered in the interpretations of dreams. The analysis of dreams even found its way into the therapeutic fields, though according to a research paper by Miguel Montenegro that popularity has declined in current day. Scientists of current day studies believe dreams are merely the processing of the days or weeks events and memories to assist the brain in classification and learned responses. I can see the logic in this on many levels however in understanding our lives and how we cope with daily events, it would seem that dream interpretation would hold its value in this.

Yet popularity of interpreting dreams continues to wax and wane throughout history. The nineteen sixties through the eighties for example saw a number of dream interpretation publications. The Dreamer’s Dictionary by Stearn Robinson and Tom Corbett was first published in 1974. It was republished through 1986 and we have the oldest copy that we keep as a novelty behind the books on our bookshelf. This reflects my personal beliefs in using popular symbolism for the interpretation of dreams. It belonged to my husband’s father who read it devoutly for guidance and for deciding future prospects. Its cover is torn half way up the spine, the pages are aged to a dark yellow. It smells the musty smell you would expect in a box or 25 cent yard sale books that were just discovered on the top back shelf of someone’s basement or garage. Even turning its pages leave my fingers feeling dry and icky. However for the sake of exploration I will use this resource to interpret the above dream.

I am immediately faced with a challenge. Looking up “tiger” refers me to “animals” which describes dreaming about animals, not dreaming you are an animal… Strike one. O.K. so how about a kite, first let’s look at the bird. Well it says that flying birds are good omens, but this was not a “brightly colored bird” and though it was not injured per-say it did transform into an actual kite, so this rather negates what the book says since it doesn’t really apply. Now for the kite, the book states this is symbolic of an obstacle dream if it is damaged or it’s string breaks, it will turn out not to be in my favor. Well the bird becomes the kite and it is does become entangled in a tree so maybe that counts as an obstacle dream that will lead to “disappointment due to the careless management of your affairs” (Robinson p. 227). In my dream the forest was also significant. It was very green so that symbolizes a “release from worry”. However the forest is destroyed by the violent transformation of a city scape which I would also consider to be a negating factor. Strike two.

The eruption of the city out of the ground is also hard to interpret using this reference. The book covers eruptions of natural phenomena but doesn’t talk about eruptions of buildings and concrete and tar… Strike three. However for the sake of completion, let’s continue and just call that one a foul. The children in the dream are supposed to symbolize coming happiness in domestic affairs…the ball is also supposed to be a good omen of happy news… but the children are seen by me as foreign, they don’t belong and the ball I attack and destroy in anger. I would count that as another foul. The washing of the dishes, the book says if the washing is done by hand “you should refrain from getting involved in the personal affairs of others” (Robinson p. 372). However I wasn’t the one washing the dishes, but we will let that one slide. The chase aspect is another interpretive option. According to the book, if I participated in the chase it means I will be comfortable in my old age; then again I was the one being chased. Being trapped is a ‘warning to steer clear of gossip and/or intrigue” (Robinson p. 360). Well that sounds simple enough. A gun in the dream forecasts injustice. O.K… Finally, since most of the other symbols in the dream were not found in the book, death. Being dead in a dream is supposed to indicate being worry free or recovering from illness. Wow. Now I am more confused than ever. I am definitely declaring this an out.

I do not negate the predictive ability of some dreams, given as they have been throughout history, gifts from God through a means of communication. I have always felt the stronger impression a dream leaves the more likely the significance of that dream, however I do not believe that all are warnings or messages from God. Scientifically speaking, dreams are a natural process of the brains ability to process. The mind has to interpret what has happened in the waking day in order to determine learned responses and categorize said emotions. Some scientists call this predictive coding, meaning that the dream state helps the brain process waking events to better deal with and make real time, often unconscious predictions in problem solving everyday conflicts. I agree in part, however when scientific theory goes as far to say that, “The bizarre occurrences in dreams never characterize everyday life” (Llewellyn p. 1), I draw a line of caution.  According to Wei Zhang, it is merely a biological process of self-organization and memory consolidation. ( Wei ) I have to disagree. I believe the interpretation of dreams are symbolic, but on a highly personal level. I believe it is also on a highly emotional level as well. Prior to this dream I had suffered trauma in my life. I was taken from a rural environment in which I loved the nature of, the forests and the fields and rarely the sound of civilization. I was, at this youthful and impressionable age, taken through cities that I had never seen the likes of before, towering buildings that intimidated me. I was placed in a locked institution. As a new arrival, I was not even given a room to sleep in. I was given a plastic mat on the floor of the common living area so that I could be viewed at all times by the overnight staff at the facility and stripped of all personal objects, freedom and dignity. This was my experience preceding this dream. To this day I feel the emotional impact of the dream. It can easily be concluded that it reflected the actual events of my life at that time. It was so vivid and its impact on me so strong I felt I had to write it down, so I did.

Scientific studies have found that “brain connectivity during REM to be consistent with the extraction of patterns from past events. REM sleep selectively processes personally-significant material (Llewellyn p. 3). In saying this I am aware that the bio-physiological interpretations of dreams could result in an “inhibitive effect on the role of the dreamer, as it effectively undermines any attempts on the part of the dreamer to pay attention to or interpret their dreams” (Nell p. 8). This would be sad indeed. Dreams to me resemble our personal ability to create, to understand, to process, to feel, and to grow. This is similar to the beliefs of Synesius, a Greek philosopher and bishop, who believed that dreams were an …““enquiry into the whole imaginative soul” which has not yet been treated by any Greek philosopher… dreams were the product of the imagination, a faculty of the soul that was divinely implanted in the gulf or vacuum at the point where the body and the soul merged in the spirit” (Neil p. 23-24). In this, dream interpretation is not a waste of time. It is a culmination of body, spirit and soul. It is also not based simply on popular symbolism to interpret future events. I would be just as likely to rely on the fortunes printed and placed inside sugary confections than to rely on dictionaries of dream symbolism. Dreams are personal, based on personality, perception and potential and this was my dream.

 

Works Cited

Llewellyn, Sue. “Dream To Predict? REM Dreaming As Prospective Coding.” Frontiers In Psychology (2016): 1-16. Web. Mar. 2016.

Nell, Werner. “Contemporary Dream Beliefs And Practices: A Qualitative, Sociological Study.” South African Review Of Sociology 45.1 (2014): 122-139. Web. Mar. 2016.

Montenegro, Miguel. “A Comparison Of Freudian And Bossian Approaches To Dreams.” Existential Analysis 2 (2015): 313. Web.  Mar. 2016.

Wei, Zhang. “A Supplement To Self-Organization Theory Of Dreaming.” Frontiers In Psychology (2016): 1-4. Web. Mar. 2016.

Neil, Bronwen. “Synesius Of Cyrene On Dreams As A Pathway To The Divine.” Phronema 30.2 (2015): 19-36. Web. Mar. 2016.

Redfield, James. “Dreams From Homer To Plato.” Archiv Für Religionsgeschichte 15.1 (2014): 5-16. Web. Mar. 2016.

Seeing Failure as future opportunity

Life is about failures, frustrations, and yet, through self-reflection we can come to understand where we have been in our struggle to grasp our own personal goals, that goal just out of reach, where we are now and were we are going.

I would like to start by letting you know something very important about myself. I Fail. I have such a long record of failures that each one could be a drop in the sea and fill all seven seas… Now that is something to relate to isn’t it? Not necessarily the failure part, but the sea.  I live by the sea. I love the sea. I love sea stories. I love the romance of the sea.

I respect the sea. It is a fearsome and dangerous place after all. We as a culture, see equivalence of the sea to our emotions, a sea of emotions, like the emotions failure often brings, frustration, anxiety, anger… and we are a ship on that ocean, tossed by our emotions and yet we set a course for the winds of fortune… hmm sounds like a song I once heard… (Kansas)

However, though I love the ocean, I am not a sailor. I once tried to be a sailor. I failed. I almost killed my husband in the process too. When I and my husband first met we bought a sailboat. A twenty seven foot Catalina named Blue Moon. I barely knew how to swim, but sailing “builds character” and the best way to learn is just get on board and sail right? Isn’t that what we always tell ourselves when we are faced by a new challenge? We set ourselves a goal and think; the way to get this accomplished is to just do it. Eventually we will succeed.

Wrong.

Even the simple act of holding the rudder straight,  headlong into the wind while my  husband put on the jib sail was a task too much for me to handle. Actually it was a task to  much for my husband to handle the resulting head injuries. As the boom continually swayed back and forth it caused him to repeatedly duck its turns in the wind, not always  successfully. We went out on that boat almost every day for weeks that first summer. I never learned how to keep that boat headlong into the wind. To this day I cannot sail, but I did come up  with a few boat jokes.  What is a sailor’s favorite game?… Duck, Duck, Boom, and… what was  written on the sailor’s tomb?… He went out with a boom.  Alright , I am not a successful comedian either.

Luckily I didn’t kill my husband that  summer. He still loves me even though I failed at sailing. It is important that we understand that instead of seeing  failure as not acceptable we can reframe failure as “…a natural byproduct of a healthy process of experimentation  and learning” (Cannon et el p. 18) I guess having a ship on the ocean just wasn’t in the winds for us. After all failure “leads individuals to question their taken-for-granted beliefs and assumptions and reframe their appreciation of the situation (Argyris & Schön, 1978; Ellis & Davidi, 2005)” (Fang He et el 16).  From that experience I have an even greater treasure than that of being a sailor, I have a story, and

I still Love  the ocean.

Cannon, Mark D., and Amy C. Edmondson. “Failing To Learn And Learning To Fail (Intelligently). How Great Organizations Put Failure To Work To Innovate And Improve.” Long Range Planning 38.Organizational Failure (2005): 299-319. ScienceDirect.

Fang, He, et al. “Why Do Some Entrepreneurs Fail Forward (While Others Do Not?).” International Council For Small Business. World Conference Proceedings (2012): 1-49. Entrepreneurial Studies Source.

Kansas. “Carry on my wayward son.” Sony Music Entertainment. 1976.

Country Life: a lyrical non-fiction essay

As a child in a furrowed field of yellow grass, in an out of breath hurry, I ran past, what was in yesteryear gone by a home, now three walls of crumbling stone, and one wall a bank of burnt wood and grass, red bricks tumbled and broken glass.

I ran four miles to see my friend, to play and dream in the summer’s end. In the muddy fields that the farmer plowed, I lost my shoe, and my sock somehow. I found my shoe but my sock stayed stuck somewhere deep in the earthy muck. I cried to think of my mother’s glance when I came home with a one sock stance, but I ran on to tell my friend of the stray dog I had encountered then, and how I had followed it to the knoll where the shrubs and bushes hid the hole that I knew was meant for us to be the foundation of friendship, a secret country. The hidden walls were to be our fortress, she and I, both Queen and Princess. We were sovereign, to care for shrubs and flowers, the subjects there.

Then the butterfly came like a fairy’s wing to bless our kingdom… then the insect sting, or was it the panic run up the castle wall that caused my friend to slip and fall, or the loose earth, burnt wood and yellowed grass, the crumbling stone, tumbled brick or broken glass, that hurt her leg and made her hurry home, leaving me there to dream alone, and her mother said not to go back again. Good bye Careforsythia and then; the summers end.

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There are no apple trees on our little acre but Mumma needs apples red and gold. She’s gonna make, jams, and jellies, and crumble like Quaker’s, apple butter, and apple pie when winter is cold. She’ll need apples to fill the freezer for when we’re craving that sort of thing. I like apples and I want to please her.

“Go find a wild apple tree” Mumma says to me, “One that’s got no claim, or no one to care. I saw one two miles up – apples falling on the ground. It’s a sin when you’re hungry to let them pile there higher than even the wild can eat down.”

So I’ll go and get the basket as big as I am tall, and strap it to my back.

Mumma says “fill it high as much as you can carry, till over the top they fall.” I find what I’m seeking, every apple not half eaten. Bruises cook away, no matter how hard they land. To reach the good fruit I climb as best I can while beaten’ and shaken the limbs with a branch in hand. The fruit is wild and sour, even the ripest prize, good for baking, freezing, and rhubarb apple pies. I’ll pick until I can hardly lift the basket to my back, and hurry home to hear my Mumma’s praise.

“Aren’t there any better? Too many of these are bruised and black. With sorting and cutting this won’t last the winter days. Find another tree to pick apples that are sweet.” So off I went a mile or more, and I found what I was looking for just as it started to pour. Now me with wet feet, but I’m a good child. I can’t disappoint, so I started picking, sweeter than the others wild.

Then I heard from a house across the field a shout “What are you doing there?” An elder lady was questioning my yield. If the tree was hers, or if she didn’t care, I didn’t think to ask. My face turned ripe and apologies fell out as she chided me in my task.

After lengthy talk of thievery, manners, and disrespect of youth, “Take what you have and be on your way!” she said without a smile.

Off I went saying “Thank you, thank you” her back turned all the while. However, my basket being not as much as I could carry, not yet piled high, I found a few lesser trees and hurried home, my back aching. Hoping my mother would be proud although I wanted to run home and cry. Mumma was busy cutting, sorting, peeling, freezing, and baking. I didn’t mean, the elder ladie’s apples to be taking, but there is too much to be done, no time for tears or praise.

Mumma says “Better known for next time, now to sorting and peeling.” All that’s left are the memories of apple picking days.

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I searched all summer long for not house, but home. I knew what I wanted. I wrote a list. All the things from childhood that I dreamed of having or that I had and I missed.

  1. A place for animals.
  2. A horse someday.
  3. Chickens
  4. Ducks
  5. Maybe geese.
  6. A goat for milk.
  7. Maybe a donkey.
  8. Fruit trees.
  9. Berries
  10. Gardens of flowers and herbs, and vegetables, to can and freeze.
  11. A home in land to walk out of doors for hours.
  12. With a yard to sleep under the stars.
  13. A home in house of comfort and character.
  14. With at least three bedrooms so no one must share.
  15. A den to be office and library, to write and play music, to sculpt and paint.
  16. A room to gather
  17. One to spare.
  18. Oil to heat the cold.
  19. A wood stove to warm the cool.
  20. If I could afford to dream, a fire place for fancy.
  21. A home in community
  22. A small or private school.
  23. One fitting for the feeling of country with neighbors not to close and not too far away, to walk the mile house to house in day, and at night a drive into the city to shop and play.

This I thought I found, the old farm, and a price I could afford. Praise the Lord! One hundred years and maybe twenty five more, but good for the wear. With little over one hundred thousand to spend, I had twenty five thousand to spare.

Now I won’t have to go the store ‘Cause it has fruit trees, three apple, and berries, razz and blue, and if I could haul in some loam I’ll have a veggie garden too. It has lilies and rhubarb, St. Johns, and lilacs, milkweed and more.

With three bedrooms upstairs and a full bathroom as well, and another downstairs with two more rooms to spare, a den and one for gathering, why would they sell? Oil to heat and wood to burn when the weather is chill, and not one but three fire places, and an Elle; whose structure is solid. It could be of some use, if I spent some money, and I have extra to spend. It has a barn and a building out back and one in between and one on the side and one built-on, on the end, with running springs, and acres of land to walk.

It has a country store with the city near and a school still small, and neighbors that are far enough away to have to call, and near enough to talk. Out of breath, the best house yet, someone made an offer, I’ll buy! Three showings just today, on the market just one week, a present for me, I’ll close on my birthday; the end of July.

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So much is a man to challenge fate, to set a fire just to watch it burn, to feed the flame, an enemy, create, to fight a battle, a war for him alone.

No one will notice or think to say, or show gratitude for the labor done to provide fire to cook and comfort each day, and heat the night when day is done.

A reward for himself for all the trees felled, split and piled to age, providing for winters warmth, the yield, and now the field out back, a stage, to gather the brush and pile it higher, even more than one should, to light a fire, fight the fire, feel the burn, control the wild, to see the flame hot and glowing, dancing yellow, orange, black, feeding, breathing, breeding, growing. Hades cannot turn him back.

It is his reward to know neighbors across the way contemplate his level of negligence that fills the sky with sparks. As night becomes day, neighbors envy his arrogance, to see his children dancing about, unwilling to come to supper.

His lady carries the water bucket out to bring her own fear comfort. As if preparedness could put out this fire that sparks would not stray to take the barn, the house in ire; if the field is not far enough away. He does not care to notice, with shovel in hand. Only he can win this self-inflicted war. The fire’s passions to destroy only he can understand as his children laugh and remember his reward.

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I worked all summer long to make a house a home. I knew what I needed, I wrote a list, a place for people, safe and warm, and all the repairs that I shouldn’t have missed; one hundred years and maybe twenty five more. I shouldn’t have missed.

Most every door is ajar with a buckle or swell. No wonder they kept every one wide open as a yawn. I’ve found a crack in nearly every window that I could tell. No wonder why the blinds and curtains were drawn. The old care taker had the antique man come in and stole all the old furnishings. Even the brass cover plates are taken. Not worth the complaint I’ll replace and buy used. The electrician wants to rewire more than one outlet per room, and raise them up off the floors.  Being safe as they are I’ll make due, and shave a little off the bottoms of the doors, and I’ll cut some old glass to make the windows like new… Next the water can’t run pressure upstairs. The well was said to be recently dug, and its pump as having no wear, but the plumbers say all the pipes need repairs. I should’ve known there would be things worth hiding.

They boasted of the new roof, wiring, and new siding. However, the furnace can be dated fifty years or more.  What is that smell of smoke and soil, the care taker that lived here did not know to keep house. A summer month of heat took two hundred in oil. So many holes and crevices I’m sure I saw a mouse.

The day I moved in the drunken caretaker slurred while moving out “Close down the upstairs when winter falls, the downs only fit to stay warm.” So bold! We looked, no doubt, not a stitch of warmth inside the second floor walls, and not a blanket to keep the attic from cold. The roof is sagging, the part that’s not new, and who would put plastic siding on a barn ‘cause now that it’s mine off it blew. I spent what I had on what I had to fix, and with some help from the Lord. If I had the money I had before I could fix all that I wasn’t told. Since now I have no more I’ll make due what I can’t afford.

The first summer there, the warm summer air hit 101; and that was in the shade not in the sun. So we put the tarp in the bed of the truck and filled it up for some cool summer fun. Then the fleas came into the farm house, and hid in the cracks of the pumpkin pine floors. We dusted and sprayed. We itched and we prayed, and considered moving outdoors. We didn’t though ‘cause outside we had ants, swarms all over the sand, and black flies and mosquitoes that darkened the air and evaded every hand. Then the hired hand of the blueberry man took the bee hives away midday. To beat the swarm, and save from harm we could not stay that day. At night time the skunks came about, and the bobcat too. So no sleeping out under the stars; our discontentment grew.

When the cold came it was colder than hot. I kept water boiling on the range. We sealed the side doors with foam on the spot. and it formed yellow mounds round the frame. The school that was small taught nothing at all, and tried to say my son was slow. Well I had him tested, and then they were bested ‘cause he came back above average; in the know! My daughter ran track but they tried to hold her back because her grades were too high, and she was too fast, the principal’s daughter was the favored; as the long standing neighbor, so I knew my young girl couldn’t last. Finally another summer came with too little rain, and the neighbor burned my fields by mistake. The apples were sour and small and even the raspberries by nature were ate. We were starting to be the subjects of pity. The country store shut down for lack of business in the town and we couldn’t afford to play in the city.

Our time on the farm lasted two summers; that’s all, and we decided to sell the farm before the next fall. We had bought chickens and ducks, and kept them alive with some luck, and were even given a goose. We bought two hares at the county fair, and caught the pet rabbit someone had set loose. The stray cat my son claimed became mother to three, and each became a mother till we were able to spay them. The chickens gave eggs, and we ate more than our fill but the ducks wouldn’t lay them. The goose chased my son, and the rosters chased us all, and we hadn’t the heart to kill any come fall, so away we gave them.

The farm; chickens and ducks, a goose and some hares; and we almost bought a horse. I would have called it nightmare. Now we were fixing to leave. Since we were not here long enough for the neighbors to care no one in the community would grieve. With all the work done we came so close to a dream, but that’s what dreaming is all about. Maybe somewhere else the grass will be green, but for now we just want out.

 

The Tigress and the Kite (part of the series “In TO SIN, The Story Is Not Over”)

I am a Tigress, alone in the wilderness I stride with confidence and the strength of youth in my bones. I am fully content in the comfort of my wilds. As the morning rises, ripples of light intermix with lines of shadow to mark my ginger hide. To my right is a forest of greenery in every shade and hue. It is a wonderful place for play. So I play. The silver cross and chain makes a soft chinking sound around my neck as I run and jump and play. As the red ball rises… time ends for play. The umbrella canopy of dark foliage, glossy like jade, is suitable shelter from the rays of the high sun, even from the constant wind, and occasional rains. To my left is the light drenched solace of the grasslands. Cat tails, water lilies and pampas reeds bow in the winds. Sprawled out, I sleep in the fields of long grass, hidden from view but not from danger.

I dream of past days and childhood games. I dream of chasing red butterflies. I chuff in my contentment until sleep becomes a bore. I shake away the laziness that blankets me; feeling the discomfort of the red ball, playtime is over. I remove myself from the intense heat and skirt the edges of the dappled forest. There I see my favorite Omba tree, tempted, with a running start; I climb its soft and spongy branches. The crimson berries prevail over the greenish-white flowers that hang in droopy clusters from its boughs. With satisfaction I stretch out on its lower branches for yet another cat nap. The bough bends under my adolescent weight. Nightmarish visions startle me in my dreams. I am not safe here. The backwards descent from my perch does not appeal to me but the head first decline is too difficult an angle for my claws. The branches display deep scars from my prior days of leisure in their embrace.

As the afternoon wanes, I casually wander towards the cool of the deciduous forest, trying to forget the torment of my imagination; games of the mind. My last meal is a memory I feel in my gut. I would eat the red butterflies now, if I were to see them fluttering about. I pause and smell the air, for the first time unsure of my senses… the smoke of a bush fire? A regular occurrence on these grassy plains…I see a Black Kite. Is it watching the fire for escaping rodents to snatch as prey? No. Something else is in the air. The Kite hovering mid sky with little effort and striking skill, peers intently down, then glides this way, then that way, to hover minutes more elsewhere…but I find no reassurance in this familiar site. Something is not right.

With a sudden wailing cry, the Black Kite circles in the wind, startling me as it frightfully flutters past in shallow flight, its forked tail twisting all the while whistling, what sounds to me like “Pseudo err, see, see, see, see, see,!” With a bizarre shifting of its character it transforms into a black “V”, free flying, blown by the wind, string tail flailing, until it becomes entangled in the arms of the Ombu tree.  I look upon this sight with disturbed concern, unaware of its meaning. I continue my journey around the curve of the forest.

There, unlike the numerous times I have traveled this same route, the wood abruptly ends. The scent of fresh cut grasses and overturned earth prick at my nose as a flood of other unfamiliar scents confuse my mind; hot smells of black and wet smells of grey. I slow my pace, hairs bristle, muscles twitch, and suddenly there is an eruption from the ground before me. The dirt is flung up, turned over, revealing black, running thick and slow like a molten river; black that burns and sticks to my pads, smelling of death. An unnatural stone breaks the ground and pushes upward towards the red ball. Another erupts from out of the earth to join the first, then a third, and a fourth like a volcanic explosion of solidified magma; grey, hard, unnatural rock. I jump backwards, twisting and turning as if convulsing as a shrill sound fills the air; far more insidious, but likened to the laughter of monkeys at play.

Before me are small forms, unlike monkeys; intruding upon my world. My empty belly fills with anger, and a thunderous roar spills out from deep within me. The sound shocks even me, and seems to resonate, permeating the squared stones and cutting through the dense forest behind me. I hear it echo from the hills beyond the Ombu tree and grassy plains. The unlike monkeys are momentarily paralyzed. Their laughter turns to high pitched screams, like the cry of prey at the time of kill. They jump from their places, and flee into caverns that appear and disappear in the towering unnatural stone. I pounce on the only thing moving on the landscape, instantly tearing to shreds a small red ball, unlike the one in the sky, that was the attention of play moments before. Retracting my claws into their protective sheaths, I leave the object; its innocence deflated. I turn my attention again to this bizarre unknown.

The cold unnatural stone seems to continually rise before me. I enter through an open cavern, entering discord. I see a tall form like the small ones before, with her hands in water, washing flat stones. Around her neck is a silver cross and chain, in every way like my own. A larger form of her kind stands beside her, enraged. She screams, as the stones, unlike stones, break apart with a shattering pitch, as they strike against wall and floor. I watch their movements with focus unwavering. The larger form holds a dark, long, thick, object, unlike a stick. My instincts sharp, my fearful heart tells me to slowly back away, but I resist my desire to run. Instead I growl as fiercely as I am afraid. The form lifts the object as I lunge forward, knocking him to the ground in reckless abandon. As I struggle against this menace, the air shatters. A smell of pungent smoke fills my nostrils. The female form falls to the floor. I turn and am upon her. Again the air explodes. I can not keep myself from cowering as a searing pain enters my side. I resist the desire to bolt as the smell of heat, unlike fire, fills the air; my courage maintained, I leap, biting and clawing at the male form.

My adversary strikes hard at my head and momentary darkness overcomes me. The air shatters once more. When my sight is regained I see the blood, the lifeless forms. Out into the moonlight I flee, back beyond the forest edge and the Ombu tree. Into the field I dash, side burning as it is whipped by reeds.

Noises unfamiliar, assault my ears, deafening my senses. Thunder shakes the terrain and once more the smell of hot black and wet grey. The smell sickens my stomach as I seek solace in the grasslands of my youth.

I find no solace there. I am pursued by monstrous beasts, unlike stone or wood, metallic in smell, beasts that rip away the field as jaws devour and long necks swing wildly about. Under lights, unlike the light of the day sky these lights blind me, all the while casting darker shadows, as the beasts continue their motions. They consume and discard all things loved by me. With quickening bites they leave behind only the rancid stench of black. Out of this black erupts, still more square walls of grey unnatural stone. Higher and higher they climb, blocking out the sky. The wind howls its complaint against this alteration as I dart in and around the commotion, running through the scene, my paws becoming burnt by the fire of the blistering hot black. I would bolt in the opposing direction yet in all four directions, similar scenes. I narrowly escape the jaws of the metallic beasts who roar at me from unseen faces.

In desperation, I set my eyes on the forest, now a few trees where once uncountable stood, with hopes to soothe the searing hurt. I only find remnants, all greenery quickly withering from view, leaving only the maze of walls. The buzz and chatter of voices, likened to the foreign forms, surround me like a thick host of insects on a muggy day. They pick at and pester me, my senses weakened, and my courage lost; I am the hunted. Quivering from shock, darting in and out between the walls, the grey and black, the walls themselves seem to be in pursuit of me, trying with all cruelty to trap, to crush, closing in.

These foreign forms pursue as faster and faster I flee, sounds making me deaf, smells sickening me, senses dizzying my mind, sights making me blind. I run the opposite way, and the opposite way again, confronted by more; I am trapped. A sharp pain, the sting of an insect, my mind continues to run, but my body does not respond. My sight blurs as my limbs give up their strength. Despite my horror I cannot prevent the sleep that overcomes me.

I awaken inside a room, empty except for a bed, sink, toilet, mirror… I hear a woman’s voice. “It’s alright Tiagra, you’re safe here.” The woman tries to reassure me. I stand on uneasy feet. My paws have become hands. The woman is watching me. “Don’t be afraid. We are here to help you.” She says. I turn and see a reflection in the mirror. It is of a girl, like the unlike monkeys. Ginger hair, slender arms and legs, unevenly tanned skin. “Who am I?” I hear myself say aloud, startled by my own voice. The woman says, “Try to remember, don’t be afraid.”

I remember. I took my shoes off in the park to walk in the grass and climb my climbing tree, happy in my imagination; but the city crews were tearing away at the grass, laying down blacktop that burned my feet. I was angry and afraid. I remember the other children laughing. Where they laughing at me? I remember feeling alienation, anger, and then the knife slashing through the playground ball. I remember being afraid, running bare foot on hot tar, running through the buildings of cold concrete, running home to the anger of my father, my fear and anger, my mother fighting with my father, the gun. He shot her. The struggle; he shot me. The butt of the gun against my temple, what happened? I saw them both; dead. I remember running barefoot till my feet bled, running, through the construction site. They were tearing up the park to build skyscrapers, working into the night. I remember running; they came after. I remember the doctor, the needle…

“I am trapped.” I think aloud.

“We are here to keep you safe for the night. Arrangements have been made for tomorrow.” says the woman. I look around at the grey; unlike stone, unlike wood, no greenery, no earth, no red ball of light, no wind, no wilds. An eerie awareness fills me. My sense of smell is fouled by the astringent stench of the sterile, the lifeless. My image in the reflection wavers as if a pebble was tossed into the water; full awareness overcomes. My body trembles as I remember metallic monsters devouring forests and fields. The smell of hot black, wet grey, cold unnatural stone causes fear to swell. I am trapped. My mind spins, staring at the sickly form that is me yet is not me. I cry out, throwing my body against the mirrored image, again and again as my screams become a roar. I lunge from wall to wall, seeking any weakness, my claws scratching, but I find no escape from this confinement. I collapse in exhaustion, my fur wet with perspiration, as the echoes in my mind slowly fade. A man’s voice disturbs the momentary silence of my thoughts. “There is no place for you here!” I see the barrel of the gun raise. I hear the thunder. I smell the pungent smoke and hot metal; I feel the flash of fiery pain in my skull. Then all is darkness…

Awakened from my nightmare I sit upright in bed. The room is bare with grey cold walls. Everything is sterile and clean. I get up and walk to the sink in the corner of the room and looking at the twisted reflection in the steel mirror, I brush back my ginger hair with slender fingers. I touch the scar upon my side where the bullet grazed me, but the one before it shot my mother dead. She tried to help me. I touch my head; the mark where the butt of the gun struck me unconscious, while my father turned the gun upon himself. I shake my head to shake away the memories. A woman comes to the ward room door; my grandmother. About her neck is a silver cross and chain, in every way like my own.  “Tiagra, it is time to go.” She says. I walk with her, towards the open door, and the cold morning air. Beyond the confinement of the doorway, I pause. The city seems to suffocate the sky and crowd in around me. I see a black kite, shaped like a “V”, destined to be blown by the wind, string tail flailing, and entangled in the arms of the cityscape…But I am mistaken. The kite becomes a free flying bird, circling in the wind, hovering in mid air above the buildings with little effort and striking skill, peering intently down. Somehow I find reassurance in this familiar site as the Black Kite, with a sudden wailing cry, flutters past me in shallow flight, its forked tail twisting all the while whistling what sounds to me like “pseudo err, see, see, see, see, see!”…I walk out into the day, as the door closes behind me.