Tuesday, March 31, 2009
I had written many things before: stories, journal entries, anecdotes, long letters to my friends and family. I just never realized how much I enjoyed it. This class taught me the love of literature and of conveying my ideas to someone else. I fell in love with Kate Chopin in this class. Edith Wharton, Jane Austen, Virginia Wolfe. And eventually, Ernest Hemingway.
We were assigned to read Hills Like White Elephants.
God, that story completely turned everything around for me. I loved it. Hemingway had such a way of writing. You saw glimpses of a life, a person, that gave you their entire persona. When I finished this short story, I shivered. It was almost an out of body experience for me.
I was there at that train station, it was hot, and I was drinking my licorice drink. I was convincing Jig she had to have that abortion. I was Jig resigning to someone else's will so they would still love me.
I wanted to write like that. I wanted people to read my words and completely fall into my stories, wanting more as they read the last word to themselves.
One day. One day. I write. I write constantly. One day, I will see my work in print.
Monday, March 30, 2009
Jesse shivered in her bed. For hours now, she had been lying awake, listening to the sounds of the dying night, streaks of sunlight peaking over the horizon and into her window. Sleep was an elusive creature that she never managed to capture for very long. It danced just outside her grasp, taunting her heavy head and eyelids. Another night gone by now with only a moment or two of peaceful slumber. Her heart fluttered with the thought of facing another day.
Slowly she rose from the indention her body made in the soft covers and placed her feet upon the cold floorboards. Reality reigned once again. In the bed, even without sleep, she could pretend that life hadn’t changed. That her parents were not always crying and sad. That her father still had his job. That her brother still played in the backyard, his scabby knees covered in dirt and grass stains. He was always filthy when he came in for supper at the end of the day. Jesse’s mother had called him a street urchin, making him soak in the tub and hot water before they sat down to eat.
“There’s enough dirt on that boy for me to plant a garden! Jamie, do you crawl around underground to get that dirty, son?” He’d smile up at their mother, giggle, shaking his head.
Jesse closed her eyes to the memories, pushing them from her mind. There was enough remembering in the house, enough tributes to the dead and gone without reminding herself of them now. Time now for a shower to get ready for the day.
The mornings were the hardest part. Starting over each day, preparing for more heartache, more memories. More moments she wished she could fall through the cracks in the floor and disappear forever. She had developed a phrase, her own personal mantra, that she repeated throughout the day, over and over, until it was only a jumble of sounds that meant nothing at all.
“Smile. Just do it. Doesn’t matter if you believe it. Convincing everyone else that you do is the key. Play happy; everything’s ok. You are the strong one, the backbone. You can’t fall apart.”
She said it now as she made her way to the bathroom, leaving her pajamas in a heap on the floor. Jesse feared the consequences if she did stop saying it. The world would come crashing down around her and her family. She truly understood the momentous weight that Atlas must have born on his shoulders.
The smoking gun. The killer always held the smoking gun in the movies, literally or figuratively. Now it was my turn; the gunpowder singeing my skin slightly when I shot at the approaching figure. When he or she attempted to grab wildly at the wounds, and fell heavily to the ground. As they dropped, I immediately hit my knees and crawled clumsily to my victim’s side. Oh God, what was I doing? The chunk of metal in my hands seemed to grow heavier and heavier and reaching the body was the hardest thing I had ever done.
A warm, thick liquid flowed over my hand in the darkness. I could not make out its color, but the strong metallic scent told me what I needed to know. My heart thudded as my eyes rose to meet the face of the prone figure before me. It appeared to be a woman. I held my breath, waiting, watching in vain for a sign of any kind that would prove to me that I wasn’t a murderer.
What do you do after you take a person’s life? Was there some requirement I needed to fulfill? Surely it cannot be this simple. Pull the trigger, and they are gone. I did not know her, her name, her occupation, whether she had a family, or an apartment full of cats. But the life I never knew, her life, quickly escaped from between her lips with a final breath as my bullets entered through her chest and stomach. Watching in agony, I slowly stood, waiting for my eyes to adjust to the night to truly see her face. And suddenly, I was remembering a history lesson from my school days about one of the Indian tribes in the old west. When one of their arrows or spears hit their deadly mark, the young brave paused over the fallen prey; knew it, thanked it, and asked for its peace and forgiveness. I needed forgiveness.
My hands still shook, clenching the gun, at my sides. I felt the blood drip from the end of my fingertips, more of her life force hitting the ground like raindrops. Wasted just like water from a leaky tap.
And I decided to do what I had grown so talented doing in my 20 odd years, the only talent that I had ever truly cultivated and perfected. I ran.
On the drive home she rolled down her windows in the car. The wind whipped her hair about her face, and she could smell the crisp beginnings of spring taking hold. The radio blasted a familiar tune, one that took her back to a happy past, and she sang along with the melody. Slightly off key, but no one else was there to hear her and to comment and critique. She let the wind carry her voice and muffle out the sounds of the traffic.
Soon she was pulling into her complex, neighbors bustling around, preparing for the coming spring, ready to throw away the cumbersome clothes and attitude of winter. So was she. It was time for peace and rest.
Her dog was barking as she made her way inside.
"You look about to burst! Let's go for a walk, doll." Once again outside, her dog fighting the leash to run after a squirrel every now and again, she smiled up at the sky with her eyes closed. Yes, peace and rest. It was time.
The walk was long. Much longer than usual. She left the apartment complex and did not return until the sun was starting to sink below the tree tops.
Inside, she fed her dog in the kitchen, scooping her up in her arms for a slobbery kiss and furry hug.
Walking to her bedroom, she closed the door and sat on her bed. Here it was - peace and rest.
She laid back, closing her eyes. It was heavy in her hands.
The gun blast was inaudible to everyone around her. Her mother and father could not hear it. Her friends could not hear it. Her room mates could not hear it. She did not even hear it. She just felt the crushing pressure for a moment then... nothing.
Peace. At last.
Tuesday, March 10, 2009
I am vulnerable and open.
My manuscripts are currently in the hands of various judges, editors, publishers, and literary magazine owners. Nerve wracking does not even begin to pinpoint the emotion I am feeling.
I just hope that all of my return letters are not entirely REJECTION.
Monday, March 2, 2009
The psychologist I am seeing has insisted I keep a food, exercise, and purging journal. Anytime I do any one of those three things I have to record it in my little notebook. I hate showing this to people. I hate people seeing what I eat and when I eat. What if they think I am eating too much? I always assume other people are judging me and my habits. Yes, paranoid crazy. But I cannot control it. Yet.
I like this new girl though. My past therapists would talk about the journal. But it was just food and exercise. This girl was smart enough to tell me to record my purging habits. And when I started to balk against her suggestion, she said she would keep her own journal with me. Which is slightly helpful. I can look through her journal as she looks through mine.
I am not sure how or if I will ever get past this eating disorder. But I hope so. I am really trying. Its slow going and tedious. And painful. And embarrassing.