27 January 2009
Here's a short story I wrote for creative writing (sorry, it's in early stages and doesn't really have to do with anything, but thought I'd share it since I don't really have time to post something with more substance, or else I'll miss the train and be late for class -- which I already feel I'm starting to fall behind on).
"I would remember that morning as though it was the backdrop for a movie scene – fuzzy, and kind of beautiful, but without specifics. The focus was on the actors, the plot, the dialogue. Only the one obsessive compulsive kid with a fetish for detail (whose mother had named him Simon, after the character in and the Chipmunks) would notice the activity in the background, like the sunlight shimmering in rainbows on the oil that had leaked out onto the street in the spot where the car just pulled away. And Simon would push his glasses up on his nose - as if his eyeballs had to be touching the lenses in order for him to really see – and he would squint one eye shut and peer intently at the scene.
So there we were, John and I, two main characters stuck in our roles: he wore an orange bandana around his head and dressed like he’d time-traveled from the ‘80s; I stood barefoot in a bathrobe, with water dripping from my long hair onto the heart-shaped leaves that littered the sidewalk.
“I’m standing out here for you because I love you. My toes are numb and I’m going to get a head cold from the wind. Imagine what the neighbors are going to say. But I love you!” My voice hit a note of desperation. Pause for dramatic effect. Breathe deep.
“Don’t go; I am afraid of forgetting.”
There, I said it out loud. But John had already squealed off in our Dodge Viper, which was purple with black racing stripes, and had been our first purchase together. There was some truth to my scripted soliloquy – I was afraid of forgetting the simple things, like the sound of my father’s voice or the way my brother used to pull the blanket over my head in the mornings. Or the good luck charm I’d hung from the Viper’s rear view mirror that I’d gotten from my best friend, who moved to Alvin and never called again.
I was afraid of forgetting the simple things, like who I really was.
The tears came, then. Later, I would recount the story with heartache. I would remember the way my eyes burned in the chill autumn wind, the shivers that crawled up my spinal cord and straight into my wisdom teeth. Only the onlooker, Simon, would observe the squirrel, standing in a bare branch directly above my weeping, wallowing, wasting self. The squirrel flattened its tail against its back, spiking up into the air. Its tiny eyes looked up at the sky and it made a sound - halfway between a choke and a cry - that was supposed to be a bird-call. It looked up expectantly, and then clicked its teeth together twice in impatience. It tried again, and again; its birdsong shrieked in symphony with my sniffles.
“Oh little squirrel,” Simon said in his squeaky voice, almost chanting, almost praying, “You are not a bird. The birds do not try half as hard as you do.”
With the sun falling in stripes across his pug-nosed face as he peeped out of his bedroom window, Simon, too, pretended to be a squirrel. He pretended to be a squirrel pretending to be a bird, in the same way that I pretended to be a wife pretending to be in love. I cried, not for loss of John, but for loss of my own freedom. I cried, a little, out of relief that for the two weeks John would be away, I could retire to my dressing room to finally rest and memorize the lines to the rest of my life, because I was afraid of slipping out of the role just as much as I was afraid of losing myself in it.
And only Simon, my son, hiding behind that bedroom window, would count the mistakes in the movie of our lives: my hands did not shake, my tears reflected rainbows like spilled oil on the street, and my sobs sounded more like squirrel shrieks."