Category Archives: Snippets and Soundbites

Bits of words, unconnected.

10:37 AM: Will This Day Ever End?

CHARACTERS

G-mom: a woman, four days from her 41st birthday, who is just finishing her work week and her week on as a single-parent of her 15-year-old twins she shares custody of. It’s been stressful, which is normal, but the amount of stress she faced in the last 7 days was extensive. Her period is imminent. She’s tired and has cleared all of her previously scheduled plans for the weekend, with the exception of the sleepover with her two oldest grandsons, the seven-year-old and the four-year-old. Today is the seven-year-old’s birthday, which is the primary reason she’s gone ahead with the sleepover. Her adrenals are pretty much fried, which she’s pretty sure is not an actual thing actually proven by evidence-based science, but she uses it anyway.

The seven-year-old: G-mom’s oldest of her three grandsons, who was born to his mom, G-mom’s daughter, when she was 17. The seven-year-old is a red-haired, blue-eyed, smart, headstrong first grader who lives with his dad, his dad’s girlfriend, his four-year-old brother, his dad’s girlfriend’s two school-age children, and two small dogs, Zelda and Marcy, in a two bedroom apartment. The seven-year-old has been struggling for quite sometime with toileting, and he often has a stomach ache. Today is his 7th birthday.

The four-year-old: G-mom’s middle grandson, but the youngest of the two born to G-mom’s daughter and the dad of the seven- and four-year-old. He’s also the youngest child in the household. He’ll be five in June, and so will start kindergarten in the fall. The four-year-old is a red-haired, blue-eyed, slight boy, who G-mom used to think was the cutest child to ever be born on the planet. Then he started whining – about everything – and crying when he doesn’t get his way. Now G-mom thinks he’s the cutest child on the planet only when he is sleeping. Continue reading

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Coloring in the Lines

I’m at my kitchen table, my washing machine on the wash cycle in a nearby room the only sound. My house smells of dinner – roasted vegetables and garlic, mostly. I take out a coloring book I bought this weekend. The page I choose is an intricate knotwork of vines and flowers, with a detailed lion’s head in the middle. I select the colored pencils I want to start with – all the greens, yellows, and oranges in my stuffed zippered bag – and I sharpen them one by one with my electric pencil sharpener. I can’t believe how excited I am to color in a coloring book.

I’m sitting for the first time since I got home from work, thankful the house is cooling down and appreciating the dusk breeze that’s flowing in from all the open doors and windows. I can feel it playing on my neck and the back of my hair. I relax. I select the green I’ll use for all the vines in the picture and carefully begin to fill in the tiny spaces between lines. I realize my tongue is out, like when I was a kid. And, suddenly, I’m four again. Continue reading

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Corona

Beside you in the truck, I almost forget you’re there. I’ve pressed my body so close to the door next to me – as far from you as I can be – that I hope it doesn’t accidentally fling open. My face is smashed against the window and I am staring up at a moon unlike any I’ve ever seen before. It’s a bright, white, full moon high up in the cloudless black sky. Around it is a white circle of light. And around that – filling up the vast desert sky – is another circle, silver and perfect. I meditate on the moon and try to forget you’re next to me. The Smashing Pumpkins are playing on the radio. I barely notice that I’m mumbling the words. Despite all my rage, I am still just a rat in a cage. I don’t think about the fact that I am now homeless. And pregnant. You let me live with you out of the kindness, so I thought, until I began to guess you wanted my body. Then I realized you wanted my baby. As soon as you realized I’d offered it to someone else, we fought.

“You’re acting like a crazy person,” you said.

And, with my most theatrical crazy-eyed look and Bette Davis tone of voice, I said, “You haven’t even seen crazy yet.” I was playing, you see. Mimicking. I didn’t know how to feel or what to think, but I knew to be indignant. I knew not to go down without a fight. Never without a fight.

To my delight, you looked frightened. I scared you – you a grown man, a home-owner, a bona fide professional adult who’d found me and taken me in. I was like an actor who’d stuck her lines, and was glad you bought the narrative. I wasn’t crazy, but alone, pregnant, and terrified. I just wanted to pull off any emotion that made me seem so much stronger than I felt. Plus, I thought you were gross.

Still, your eyes got wide. You went white. “Don’t even think about it,” you said slowly while I packed up my meager belongings so I could be carted off to God knew where. I had no idea what you were threatening me to avoid thinking about, and I didn’t want to think anyway, so I cried and screamed at you while you carefully watched my every move, worried I might steal from you. You thought I’d do it covertly, in the low class way – not in the more sinister, subtle way  you’d hoped to take my baby: by convincing me the classic Barracuda in your garage was a fair exchange.

And now, here I sit in your truck in the middle of the night – not in a cage any longer, but tossed into the whole, wide world with a baby I won’t keep growing inside me, now-homeless, still-penniless, and meditating on the moon.

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Listening to the Sound of Silence

They went to school in the morning that Friday and wouldn’t be returning until the morning of the following Friday; my parenting week had come to an end. The moment I saw their backpacks disappear out the front door, I frenetically began organizing the crap on the tables in the living room. The pens, papers, books, remote controls, and graded school papers could all be tucked away for seven days. The empty glass that was kept in the refrigerator could be put in the sink and cleaned. The tiny, little spots of dried Ramen noodles could be plucked from the living room carpet. (How does dried Ramen even get into the carpet? And how come I was left to clean it?)

I sipped coffee and thought several times of putting on music, but each time I got distracted by another item, also out of place. “I haven’t been alone with my thoughts in days,” I thought. After two hours, four cigarettes and half a pot of coffee, I was satisfied.

The beds were made. The dishes were washed and drying on the side of the sink. The floors had all been vacuumed; the vacuum cleaner had been emptied of lint and dirt. The house was quiet and I, alone for the first time in a week, sat on my couch staring off into the middle distance.

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Roy, the Drunken Cabbie

Roy was my best friend the summer I lived in Dallas, when I was 19. He was a drunk, in his sixties, a cabby, and an Ayn Rand fanatic. I had bad insomnia and lived alone in an old truckers dormitory in the back lot of a radiator repair shop in the industrial area, not far from Deep Ellum. I was only two years out from the accident and had just left a six month meth addiction. And I got very lonely. I cried a lot in those days. It’s the summer I discovered masturbating (I’d already had a baby and 12 lovers). And I could call Roy anytime I wanted and he would come and pick me up and I could drive around with him, him drunk, me lonely, and he would regale me with stories of his life and hard-sell me on Ayn Rand while he collected his fares. He was quite into The Fountainhead. I didn’t know anything about anything and so didn’t know that this should be a red flag. He was my best friend. I miss Roy sometimes, oddly. Randomly.

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