Saturday, September 7, 2013

#106 He Helps Me Brainstorm

My life has been crazy the last two weeks.

I know, I know, it sounds like the same old story, right?  Just another excuse for why I haven't blogged recently.  But I swear, it isn't.

Two days before I went back to work (you'll recall my feelings about that event from my post on The Orange Strainer) I received a call from my principal asking if I would be interested in being the Kindergarten teacher.

What I was greeted with from my Kindergarten mentor on my first day.
Well, of course I would!  Kindergarten has only been the grade I've loved the most ever since....forever!

Then I realized, 'Wow....I have only one week to get my classroom ready.  No, make that four days because Kindergarten orientation is on Friday!!".  Then I had a nervous breakdown and had to do some shopping therapy.

Just kidding.

Or maybe not...

So, there you go.  I have a real excuse this year for putting my blog to the side for a few weeks.

I'm sorry.  Truly, I am.

I thought today I would share some creative writing I have done.  I wanted to post it a few weeks ago, then I decided not to (thinking, perhaps, that I would have plenty of time to write more on my blog?).  But now that I feel bad that I haven't been  posting, I wanted to start back up with something good.

Well, hopefully you find it to be good.

Ultimately, I'd love to post a chapter of my special project that I have been working on forever....but I feel a little strange doing that.  Here's hoping that this short story will satisfy that desire.


A Mother's Burden

She looked upon her daughter and wept.  In this moment, she could do no wrong.  She was saintly, never a sinner, cleansed of any imperfection, a being of porcelain proportions. 

She thought it wouldn’t impact her so.  That it wouldn’t affect her so deeply.  This would simply be another day, going forward with life.  It would be a transformation into a new realm.  Maybe even a celebration of a life.

Yet at first glimpse, a massive weight instantly pressed down upon her with such a stronghold she thought she might not bear it.  It was gripping, into her very being.  A cloak of depression encompassed every pore of her body.  In mere seconds it began to slowly tear her apart.

She needed to sit down.

She thought she would always be part of her life.  That she would never want to leave her mother’s side.  Now if only she could go with her.  But such a thing is absurd; impossible even.

The pain spreading within the walls of her chest was so much more torturous than the day she walked into the kitchen and found her daughter blue in the face, with a grape stuck in her throat.  If her father hadn't rushed into the room, she certainly would have suffocated to death.  Some mother she had been.  Her feet had become frozen to the red and white checked tile, her legs grew stiff as building columns, and all she could do was gaze with distress at her helpless child.  It was months before she could believe herself to be a good mother. 

The sadness draining her soul was so much more than when she sat in the audience and watched as she walked forward to give her valedictorian speech in front of one thousand high school graduates and the room overflowing with each graduates’ three ticketed guests.   

Not even one of those graduates was here today. 

The pain was unreal.  Incomparable to any pain she had ever experienced.  A pain she would never possibly know again.

There had been so many, many hopes and dreams built up for her.  As soon as words found her lips and steps found her feet she was enrolled in gymnastics, dance, and music lessons.  The success of her toddler years was only a precursor to the successes she would have as an adolescent.  She became a shining star in the high school dramatic club and debate team.  She traveled to Italy and Germany to compete in one area or another.  Yet there were so many, many places she had still dreamed of going.  She had achieved so much, yet all for naught.  Her dreams, the places she wanted to go, the realms she wanted to encounter could not possibly be achieved now. 

She must be to blame.  She must have failed her as a mother.  Was there something she missed?  Something she could have done differently?  She had provided every opportunity she herself did not have as a child.  Taken her places she had never been.  Given her experiences she never had.  She held her hand through every step of the way; set her up with the right contacts and connections.

Yet all of that was shattered on that unordinary yet fateful July night.  It was all taken away, never to be returned to.

As she found her way to the front pew, she realized her hands were glued onto an usher’s arm.  He must have been a friend of somebody, yet she certainly couldn’t place who.  Was it Jackie’s brother?  He looked much too old.  She spread out her fingers releasing him.  Dark grey sweat stains colored into his powdered grey suit where her hands had just been.

This was not a time to look weak; so many were looking at her that very moment with only one of two thoughts in mind.  Some were scrutinizing her, sizing her up, judging her.  Others were looking to her hoping to see a symbol of strength and perseverance. 

Strength and perseverance were the farthest qualities from her right now.  She felt that if someone merely looked at her wrong she might crumble down from an illusion of a mountain of strength to the very real ant hill of weakness that she was; vulnerable to be squashed by any passerby.  Yet she straightened her shoulders out, held her head high, and then sat down with elegance.

She had gotten her hair done that day, against her will.  She would have preferred to wear it as usual, to not give herself fancy embellishments for such a day.  She had refused to buy something new to wear, but rather, pulled out her basic black suit.  It was the same one she had been proposed in and worn to a variety of family gatherings.  It was timeless.  It guaranteed to bring her compliments and satisfaction from all around.  It made her ageless. 

The windows stained with purple, red, and yellow hues were propped open and fans were scattered in front of them.  The Virgin Mary was painted on the window to her left.  She held a dying Jesus in her arms and stared blankly out at the pew eerily gazing straight through her.  The wood of her pew was swollen and stuck to her pantyhose, sure to get a run started.

Family from quite a distance filled in the empty seats.  Although she had sent the notices, some of them she couldn't find, even in the depths of her mind, a name to go along with the face.  Soon they all grew to look the same and this then confused her completely.  There were nieces and nephews of various ages and sizes, great something or others she couldn't find reason for why they had even bothered to come.  It must be for one of two possibilities: good gossip or the meal.
Men who never came to church, walked in shyly.  Couples who usually threw on jeans and a t-shirt for their usual Sunday morning rituals came in sparkling.  They all looked mighty unusual, so done up that even in church they looked out of place.

Her husband sat down beside her.  He was a strong man, his skin dark and brown from countless hours laboring in the sun.  His large, rough, and calloused hands poked out from a dark suit.  They were usually steady enough to cut a perfect line through wood or metal, yet now they trembled and he grabbed her hand and tightly held it for relief.  Even all his strength and might could not hide the tears he was holding back.

His mother, a week shy of ninety, squinted her eyes shut.  Sun rays of wrinkles shot out around them.  Her nose and lips tightly scrunched together as she shook her head back and forth.  She firmly whispered, “Too young, much, much too young,”

The air was so thick that she was sure if Grammie didn't pass out, she certainly would.  What a time for this to happen.  Before she regained her focus, the ceremony had begun and the priest was reciting scripture.  His robes and somber voice put her back to his message on the nature of sins hiding within the church.  Her mind wandered to what sins her daughter might be leaving unrepentant for at the altar.

The priest’s voice continued to boom,

“….a time to weep and a time to laugh,
    a time to mourn and a time to dance,
     a time to scatter stones and a time to gather them,
    a time to embrace and a time to refrain from embracing,”

The words became muffled.  The sniffles from the women who loved her slowly joined in a ragged crescendo.  Perhaps it was all the flowers in the room.  Arrangements in her favorite color decorated the altar and aisles of the room. 

She thought about the meal.  Had they selected three meat choices for the buffet or just two?  There was the broiled salmon, the chicken Marsala, but what had been the third?  She made the choice in such a hurry, there hadn't been much thought committed to it.  What if they ran out of food?  She looked around the packed room.  That would certainly be a disaster.

What about Aunt Bernice and Aunt Carolyn?  Who would keep the two of them away from having a run in?  Despite their repugnance and disdain for one another, they couldn't possibly manage to keep their distance or remain civil.  They would manage to spoil any family function, regardless of the tone set by others.

Her eyes searched the front of the room for answers.  One of the candles at the altar that was meant to stay lit had been snuffed out.  Who would relight it?  Might the priest notice it and be able to nonchalantly light it?  Should she go up and light it?  It shouldn't stay unlit.  Should it?

Questions and thoughts stacked in her mind like building blocks.  Just as she thought they would overcome her completely, the priest’s final words echoed throughout the church, “Whom God has joined together, let no man dare separate.”

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