Scribbles

A Child’s Life

A Child’s Life


(A Hejinian poem I wrote about childhood while at university.)

I was at the table. High, dangling legs, looking at biscuits. The sun colored the room yellow. Her smile was wrinkled and bent. That was happiness. We went onto the swing. Back and forth, back and forth. The sky turned dark blue, and the stars swam. We ran over the fields. The roof was falling in, and the sides were no longer red. We jumped the hay then over the fence. My cousin laughed when he fell. I carried a stick because coyotes and kicking cows. We swayed at the creek then jumped. It was brown and red because the stones weren’t blue, and the water was clear. We climbed the fallen tree. Dangling legs. The grass below danced. It felt like Christmas. 

There were eyes always watching. We held our ears to the wall then ran outside. We always ducked or froze when a car whizzed by. Statues and mannequins made me think of sadness. We were always very still when we went to a funeral. I touched my great aunt’s cold, bloodless hand. We ran and ran, and I loved to swing. The sky was my friend. I loved when he was blue. My mother angrily shouted for me to get out of the tree. My father never bought us toys because we could die. I never got my bow and arrows or pocket knife. We traveled the world through pictures and the porch swing. We’d put our legs up, and my cousin pulled the lever. We would arrive in a different world where the roses had souls and dogs could speak but chose not to. 

I always mixed the buttermilk with the flour too quickly, but she would give me her wrinkled smile. Clocks confused me, and I watched clouds form castles and animals from my bed of leaves. My sister loved to sing and put on blue makeup. We secretly climbed the mountain until we craved chocolate drizzled ice cream. We threw the cow rib across the road into the ditch. The limbs caught our hair as we ran up the steps. My biscuits always turned out too brown, but we colored them in honey. Molasses made my jaws hurt. 

My father always came home late. I used to chase my cat then put her in a cage then let her go and feed her. The sun would turn pink. We could never swim because it rained enough to fill a swimming pool. I watched raindrops race and imagined tracing them, but my fingers were too greasy. Windows were a portal, and I saw myself riding a horse down the sidewalk with wind blowing through our hair. Then we arrived at school, and every smile hid a frown. 

Photo by Senjuti Kundu  

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Scribbles

Memories

Memories


(Prologue from a story I hope to soon publish.)

It was the same memory that popped up in his head over and over again, sometimes without warning. It was a memory he could not allow himself to forget. His father, eyes pale like melted silver and stature as tall and big as a tree, knelt way down to his height and put his hands on his shoulders. 

“Son, I’m going to go.” His voice was low and gruff, always sounding like storms in the distance. “You don’t need a coward for a father.” 

He hadn’t known what that meant. His father stood upright, now as tall as the sky, and stepped away, his white-hot eyes still staring, burning their place into his memory. 

Those had been the last words his father had ever said to him. 

This memory was all he had left. 

It was a memory she thought would long fade away through the years, but it was still here, fresh and tender as the moment it happened, even though the rest of her mind and body were beginning to fail. 

The mother had been beautiful, a gleaming light in a part of the world that was quickly growing darker. She had warned the mother to be careful, that two were enough, that these two had nearly killed her, but here they were for the third time. 

The mother, still beautiful even as her soul was in departing, reached up to touch the small, shrieking pink thing the maid now clasped in her arms. A smile emerged on the mother’s pretty lips. Tears emerged in her emerald eyes when she touched her baby’s head. 

She did not have to live. This daughter would take all of her vitality, beauty and kindness. The child would grow up to live a full life in her place, and so, the life left the mother’s body though her face remained content. 

The father, eyes wide in horror and pain, turned his gaze to the baby. He did not feel the same. 


Photo by Josipa Juras  

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Scribbles

The Good Sister

The Good Sister


The first time Seth Johnson invited himself over to my house, I could feel the butterflies racing between my chest and stomach, but I told him I would be out of town.  

He’d been wearing that look. A partial smile. Soft eyes moving from my gaze to my lips. Head slightly tilted.  

The second time he asked, I told him I would leave the door unlocked.  

Only my sister would be home.  

When he texted me that he was here, I went downstairs to where he had already slipped in through the glass sliding door, and I led him up to my room. Along the way, we passed the living room where my sister was sitting on the couch. She gave us a passing glace, her gaze lingering a moment on Seth.  

“Hey Cassie, this is Seth. He’s my project partner.”  

He gave her an awkward wave.  

“Hey,” was all she said in reply, then she turned back to the TV.  

We went to my room, and Seth shut the door behind us. I sat on my bed and opened the book. Seth sat close to me, way closer than necessary. When I began reading the prompt, his fingertips brushed over my leg and my hand as he pointed at the words to follow along, even though his gaze predominantly remained on me. The touch sent chills up my arms.  

There was a slight knock, and Seth moved away, half panicked.  

“Hey is my charger in here?” Cassie stepped in and moved around the room, looking behind bags and under papers.  

“Yeah. Sorry, I borrowed it.” I unplugged it from behind my dresser and tossed it to her.  

When she left, the door didn’t quite close.  

Seth stared at me, that soft look in his brown eyes gone, but I stayed looking at the pages.  

“Where was I?” I mumbled before reading again.  

Seth moved closer, but not as close as before.  

The second time Cassie came in, it was for her migraine glasses.  

“Getting a headache?” I asked.  

“Yeah, I’ve been staring at the TV too long.  

This time, she left the door halfway opened.  

A frown was firmly planted on Seth’s face. His features were so sharp, each one like they’d been carved in stone.   

The doorbell rang, and Cassie announced that her boyfriend Tyler was here.  

Seth seemed to breathe a sigh of relief. He glanced at me with a sideways smile as he got up to close the door. He’d no sooner shut it when Ty gently knocked and opened it to invite us to watch a movie with them.  

Seth almost spoke up, but not before I slammed the book shut and said, “Sure!”  

Seth looked at me.  

“I thought we were going to study?”  

“We can study during our free period tomorrow.”  

In the living room, I sat in the armchair on the left side, leaving Seth to sit on the couch next to Cassie and Ty. He seemed to pout at first when Ty tried to make conversation, but he eventually warmed up and even smiled a bit.  

When the movie ended, I walked him back downstairs to the sliding door he’d come in. We made small talk, and he gave the suggestion that next time he come over when no one else was home.  

I smiled, keeping my lips closed.  

“I’m not allowed to have boys over when I’m alone.”  

He shrugged, still smiling, and said, “That’s too bad.”  

Later that night, as I washed my face, Cassie came in to return the charger that she agreed to continue loaning me.  

“That Seth boy seems nice.”  

“Mmm.” I shrugged.  

“He likes you.” She leaned against the wall of the bathroom and crossed her arms. Her eyes were slightly narrowed. “You know how dangerous that is.”  

“Cassie, nothing is going to happen.” I laughed, and seeing a spot on my teeth, I wet my toothbrush and began to scrub it.  

“Not if I’m here,” she mumbled, leaving. “I just know what happened last time. You lose control sometimes”  

“I won’t kill him, I promise. But, did you see how cute he was?” I grinned.   

Cassie laughed, revealing her own teeth.  

“He’s not as cute as Ty.”  

I’ll never understand how she manages to have a human boyfriend. Then again, she was always the better sister. 


Photo by Marlon Alves 

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Scribbles

Breakfast

Breakfast

(Portion of a novel I’ve yet to write.)

I thought he was my fiancé, but as I curl my body to press against him, I realize he’s not wearing a shirt. 

Where’s his shirt? It’s freezing. 

The frightening thought creeps into my brain that this is not the man I thought it was. Something is wrong, he seems much larger, there’s no shirt, very little chest hair, and the muscles over his stomach are very defined and tight, as opposed to partially defined with a loose layer of skin over them. 

My body goes rigid, but just for a moment, then he wraps his arm around my back and inhales deeply once against head. Then, all is quiet. He returns to a steady breathing, a steady rise and fall of the chest, except this time I’m pressed against him.  

His hold with that single arm is strong, and I know that there would be no way for me to get away if he decides not to let me. Still, I don’t panic. There’s something familiar about his smell. It isn’t like me to get in bed with a random stranger. 

Is this a bed? 

No, we’re on a couch. We’d fallen asleep watching a movie or something. I’m in some type of dress. My bare legs move against each other slightly, and the heat rises to my face. It fades just as quickly. I close my eyes.

I was dreaming. It was late at night, like when you wake up while your brain and memories are still sleeping, and you don’t even know who you are. 

My fiancé died three years ago. 

I remember that now that I’m awake.

I’m alone on the couch now. Wrapped in a blanket. It’s folded over me several times and tucked underneath me so tightly that I feel like a burrito. 

Mickey is in the kitchen, and he’s wearing a shirt now. I recognize his dark red hair.  

We’re in some type of hotel, and we’d slept on the couch, just as I’d suspected. I glance towards the windows, the massive windows that take up nearly an entire wall and drown the room in light. We’re in France. 

“Scrambled?” he asks, already scrambling my eggs. I get up and am actually wearing a men’s shirt. Not a dress. It’s still long enough to cover half my thighs. 

I go to the kitchen, and he already has the eggs, sausage, and toast set on the plates. He has fried eggs.

“You know, when I was a little girl, I was so amazed how an egg could be cooked but still have the warm, liquid yolk inside.”

“You’re weird,” Mickey mumbles and grabs both plates. His eyes are honey-colored in this light. 

He sets them on the coffee table next to our drinks. Mine is a water and his is coffee. I hadn’t even noticed them. 

Everyone talks like Mickey, Jason, and I are siblings, even though everyone knows we’re not. Some people act like Mickey and I are dating – or worse, that we’re married. That’s not true either.

We’re just the adopted heirs of our adopted uncles whose business was shady, if not devilish, but I had yet to figure out how they had so much money. I knew it couldn’t be good if everyone called them the Devil’s Dealers, and traffickers and government agents alike would turn pale at the sound of their names. 

Mickey and I eat in silence. I have my book of Proverbs open on the table, and my food in my lap. He has his food on one knee and a Russian version of a Shakespeare work on the other. 

He’d told me that’s how he learned other languages. 

“I have Shakespeare memorized in English, so it isn’t hard to draw connections between the words and their meanings.” 

I’d wrinkled my nose and said, “You have Shakespeare memorized?” not because I thought it was stupid, but because I didn’t believe it. 

“Yeah, it’s a play, so it’s not actually that hard to memorize. Most everything rhymes.” 

“Oh. Yeah I guess you’re right.” 

“Mind if I record that? You saying I’m right?” 

Mickey was dangerous. He loved nothing but himself, but his eyes, and his half-smile, and his devilish charm made people desperate to please him. To hold themselves in his attention and do anything to keep him from losing interest. 

If Uncle Ron and Uncle Ralph were the Devil’s Dealers, most assumed Mickey was the devil himself. 

Jason even said once that Mickey resembled Alexandre Cabanel’s Fallen Angel. We just came from Montpellier yesterday, and we had looked at the painting.  

All Mickey had to say was, “My eyes aren’t blue.” 

Now we are going to the Louvre. 

“Hey, I thought we were going to grab breakfast at a café on the way.” 

“Me too. Till you slept in.” He takes a sip of his coffee and peers over at me from behind the cup.

“Why didn’t you wake me up?”

He shrugs. “Jason will be late too. He left at like five this morning because he wanted to go buy ingredients or taste-test stuff.”

Jason was the culinary genius of the three. Mickey was just a genius in his own right, and I was a jack-of-all trades, master of none, type person whose only real talent was being able to survive just about anything.

“Death just doesn’t like you. I don’t know,” had been Mickey’s comment after my appendix burst, and sepsis set in, and I had only been in the hospital for four days. “Don’t ask me to make sense of it.”

I happen to glance at my phone and see where Jason has called twice.

“Hey,” I say standing. “I think Jason’s ready.”

“Alright, I’ll wait on you to get dressed.” He takes another sip of coffee.

He said he’s at some shop just two blocks away if you want to go on. He sent the address, so I can find it.”

“Yeah,” he scoffs. “Not only would you still get lost, but you’d probably get hit by another car too. Just hurry and get ready.”


Photo by Ben Kolde 

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