Last week I completed a piece that was not for the intention of this blog, which was both weird and different, since this here is really the only writing that I do. (Well, the only writing fit for public consumption, to be exact.)
But I enjoyed it, and it went well enough that I am excited to participate in the project again. And I thought maybe you would like to take a glance at what I have been doing.
The piece that I wrote for Open Mic is pasted below for all matters of convenience. However, I have included the link that will connect you directly to the website, which, if you have a few moments, I would really recommend that you do. In doing this, you will have access to all the other local, talented writers who also worked very hard in submitted pieces to the Open Mic project. You will also be able to search the entire site and learn more about all the other awesome things that are going on in addition to Open Mic. And, if nothing else, if you read what I write below and are confused about exactly what is going on, you can read the comments that other writers posted that will reinforce you are not alone. Because this was a work in progress. It needs revisions, and rewording, and just some old-fashioned cutting out. Not everything in it will make sense to you initially. And that’s okay. Sometimes it doesn’t to me, either.
And it should also be of note that, while an embarrassing oversharer on this site more often than not, the stories that I share on here, the ammunition for this blog, are my own and are only told at the risk of my own demise. When I write actual stories, like this one below and any others that I might post from future Open Mics or simply other pieces in general, they are not my stories. And, most importantly, they are not your stories either. Because I would still like a family to visit on Christmas, and invites to girls nights extended, and to continue to be known socially as an iron trap when it comes to knowing secrets. Because I almost always do know them. And this faith that people trust me with, and, as a result, getting to know nearly everything, is too much fun to give it all up for a character or a short story.
So these are stories that I have thought up from unknown places. I save pictures and phrases I like in a book that I often pull out for inspiration. Sometimes my mind wonders in traffic, and sometimes I overhear a tone in a voice. Sometimes I smell a familiar scent, and sometimes I can’t help but stare at people and situations. In lines for the bathroom. In selecting dish soap at Target. In ordering a meal.
And I might even be staring at these people when I am supposed to be talking with you, and in doing this I mean no disrespect. But humans, animals, nature, situations, are full of stories-words just waiting– in various forms of creation and death. We simply have to decide how much of it we want to see. Which parts of it we are willing to focus on. Which aspects of it we can breathe life into again.
That is where these stories will come from.
Eggs. Bacon. Orange marmalade toast.
That was the breakfast my mother served me the August morning I saw her deep in the bushes.
All because of a shortcut to Maple Lake. All because it was too goddamn hot to do anything else but float dead in the water.
I didn’t recognize the man she was with. I just knew he wasn’t my father. And I knew that, in my thirteen years, my mother had never looked this happy at home.
I knew that she had never packed for a picnic in her life, other than on the Fourth of July, which we always spent at the creek with the Nicholsons. Who I can assume we are really only friends with because they own a boat, seeing as we never see them between September and May.
I knew I have never seen her play coy on a blanket, or waltz around aimlessly on grass to music, or enter a car so willingly. My mother couldn’t make it 20 miles out of town without tapping her fingers incessantly on the dash.
I noticed the color of the car my mother was easing into. And I wondered if the man had taken this under consideration at the dealership. The fact that, along with probably decent gas mileage and an obviously roomy backseat, that the pine green exterior would damn near disappear through the underbrush of the cul-de-sac on Sycamore Street.
I saw her shoes, the buttercream colored ones my little sister Sadie and I have disastrously paraded around the house in, with heels too high and slippery soles. Heels that, despite our prayers otherwise, cannot propel us into adulthood any faster. It’s shoes like these I imagine I will wear the day I walk out of Coppersfield for good, while looking down on everyone else who had decided to stay behind.
Those buttercream atrocities suddenly smashed against the window. Allowing me to easily envision how it has left her toes, stomach and eyes facing the sky. And because this is how Sadie sleeps, I have learned this to be a vulnerable position. One that leaves her defenseless against my attacks. It’s all a matter of how much is left exposed.
But Sadie didn’t see any of this. I somehow hid her from it all, because I don’t like her seeing things that I can’t even explain to myself. We cut a block out of our way; she didn’t even seem to notice. But that afternoon, when I floated dead in Maple Lake, I felt more pulled under than I was comfortable to admit.
Eggs. Bacon. Orange marmalade toast.
That was breakfast my mother served me the morning after I saw her deep in the bushes.
Like she was hoping all of our childhood mornings would just blur together.
Like she really believed that today was no different from yesterday at all.