You wake up and it's spring again. The kids have all grown up and moved out. Your neighbor needs to mow her lawn but she is too seasoned for long exposure to the southern sun. It dawns on you one night when you're grilling steaks for your family. Your daughter calls you over to the table. She's on her third glass of wine. She met a man in graduate school. He doesn't drink. They clear their throats in unison and announce that they are engaged and plan to be married next January. You're happy for them but that is getting further and further from your mind. Your eyes shift over to the tall weeds growing only feet away from your wife's roses. You think about the fact that your neighbor never mentioned grandchildren. She never mentioned anyone. You think about the boy down the street who died in that car accident this winter. He always took care of her yard for a price. Now, there is crab grass growing so close to your Tall Fescue. The last thing you think about for awhile is that you can't remember how long it's been since you have seen her. Not since spring began. You hug your daughter and shake her fiancés hand and walk over to the neighbor's front door. You ring the bell and continuously knock. You don't think about why she isn't answering because you already know.
My childhood home, a gray, old farm house, sat nestled near the small town of McKean Pennsylvania. My father moved us there from Pittsburgh in 1954 when I was no taller than a limp potato sack. I was their only child at the time. He said the city was no place to raise a family. We needed room to run and explore and my mother needed a quiet place to work on her writing. However, in three years of living there she gave birth to four of my brothers. So much for peace and quiet. There must have been something in the water.
Folks in town liked to whisper about that house like it was some kind of architectural Jezebel. By the time I could spell my own name I had heard dozens of rumors and stories surrounding our home. There were certainly enough to keep my young mind racing through many sleepless nights. Some of the more elaborate stories suggest a mass murder of the previous occupants by their deranged mother. My classmates claimed that this woman then buried the corpses of her husband and three children in the walls and that they walked around at night looking for revenge. I made sure to always keep my door locked.
Another urban legend told that this house was a Union hospital during the Civil War. Although I could see the possibility of truth in this yarn, I never believed the part about the secret chest of gold that a defecting soldier buried somewhere on our property. My rolling eyes and smart remarks never stopped my younger brothers from searching for it though. God bless them. Occasionally, when I didn't have a book to read or chores to do, I would humor the little pirates and go hunting with them.
One afternoon, I believe it was in late summer, my brothers and I were out by the old barn just snooping. My eldest brother, Earl, came across a nest of milk snakes hidden underneath a patch of tall weeds. The snakes scattered, slithering everywhere as we tried to catch them. Their low, hissing sounds perfectly complimented the summer heat. It sounded like the world was cooking in a skillet. Earl raced inside to grab two glass jars from the kitchen cabinet. He hurried back and we spent the next hour or so catching the foot long critters. I lost track after about thirty. We were so proud of our find. I poked a few holes in the top of the jars so that they could breath and we ran inside to show mother.
My brothers trailed after me as I presented mother with our spoils. Always seeking her approval, I crept up to her as she was mending an old quilt. My grin was met only with her disgusted frown. She didn't laugh like I hoped she would. She didn't marvel at our cleverness and fascination with nature. She just scowled at me and made a noise very similar to the sound of the hissing snakes. She stood up and proceeded to drag me into the kitchen where I was sat down at our large, oak, dinner table.
Mother sat across from me. Whether it was because I was the oldest and should have known better or just because she didn't like me I have never figured out, but I was the only child punished for the serpent concentration camp we had created. I remember almost every word of that lecture. It was the sternest tongue lashing I had ever received. Mother raved about how disgusting and inappropriate it was for a young lady to play with such filthy creatures and how my father would be so ashamed if he found out that his little girl was handling snakes. She fumed about pride and manners: "What would people think if they saw my daughter rolling around in the yard like a hog in shit?"
According to her, it was time to start acting like a young woman. At thirteen I was now expected to spend less time adventuring with my brothers and more time domestically educating myself. If I ever wanted to find a suitable husband I would have to forgo these childish experiments and keep my hands away from those slimy, diseased creatures. However, of all the reasons she found my actions unacceptable, it was the soiling of her glass mason jars that sent her over the top.
It was the most my mother had ever said to me in one sitting and half the conversation was about jars. She never talked to me again as much as she did that sunny afternoon. I often theorize about my mother's secretive reasoning behind her anger. I knew it was wasteful and slightly disgusting but the jars were only a quarter each. I knew it was wrong to keep God's creatures locked up in such poor conditions, even if they were snakes. I knew it was unhygienic. Yes. I knew all these things. There was just something I wasn't seeing and still to this day don't understand. I could only keep apologizing and asking why what I had done was so horrible and why my brothers weren't getting the same lecture. I could tell when she had grown impatient and fed up with my cluelessness and saw the defeat in her eyes. She stopped talking and sat quietly for a minute, only looking at me.
She broke the silence and asked me to bring her the two jars. I obliged and went into the other room where my brothers were on the ground, staring at our scaly pets. To their dismay I snatched the two jars from the floor and ran into the kitchen. When I handed her the jars she took them in her hands and smiled at the tangled mass slithering around in their glass prison. It may have been my childhood imagination adding drama to an already dramatic scene but I swear I saw her tongue fork out of her mouth real quick, almost as if mocking the poor critters.
"Burry them." Cheerfully, she stood up and grabbed a small flower basket off of the window sill, placing the jars inside. She walked outside and I hesitantly followed her. Mother handed me a shovel that was leaning against the tool shed and we marched out into the middle of our corn field. Her finger shook as she pointed at the ground. She was still smiling though. "Bury them."
I begged her to let me release them but she would only shake her head and repeat the same thing over and over again.
I pleaded that they were just harmless snakes and I would be killing them if I buried them under the ground.
"Burry them or I'll give you such a beating your father will feel it." I reluctantly took the shovel to the dry earth and dug a hole about three feet deep. She handed me the two jars and I cried as I put them in their grave. She pulled the shovel out of hands and began filling it in, burying them alive. After she was done, she walked over to me and slapped me hard across the face. Through the shock and the pain I think I heard the words whore and idiot. It's hard to remember everything after all these years but I can still feel the sting of her hand and hear the sound of dozens of snakes hissing in my ears.
When father came home I begged him to go save the snakes but he only shook his head apologetically and said they were surely dead by now. They would have suffocated. I remember my parents arguing that night and many nights after. Through the walls I could hear their screams. If there were dead bodies walking around at night they probably would have found somewhere else to live. I knew my father was enraged by what my mother had said and what she had done to me. My cheek was bruised for a week and my brothers cried all night long when they learned of what had become of their pets.
I met my husband at sixteen and we married two years later. I loved him and I loved the idea of leaving that small town even more. I left that town and all those memories behind, only visiting a handful of times. My parent's passed away a few years ago within a month of one another. We inherited the old farm house and my brothers had to beg me not to have it torn down. Occasionally, I go up there for a picnic with the kids and sometimes go looking for those glass jars. I was certain I had marked the grave and etched the location into my memory but it appears that I forgot the exact location. Every time I go digging I never seem to find them. Perhaps mother dug them up and hid them in the walls; more bodies to roam the house at night.
This is a story inspired by a story my grandmother told me. It was well received by my creative writing prof and I'm considering entering it into a contest. I would love some feed back on it. What you like or don't like?
The war began when a bunch of people in the lower hemisphere of Americaland were ticked off at the ones above them because they ate all the pizza. What really used a straw to break a camel’s back though was when Lincoln was voted to be the president. South Carolina was all “AW HELL NAW,” and separated from the Union. Then, all the other states down there were all “Hey, let’s jump on the bandwagon too!” And so they did. However, the Union was going “OH NO YOU DI’INT”, so they started the war. This made people generally upset.
The first major battle of the war was when Lincoln was trying to open a jar of pickles. Then, the SECOND major battle of the war was called “The Battle of Bull” or something along the lines of that. This battle was important because a lot of people lost and it made the North and South realize that THIS IS A FREAKIN’ WAR AND OF COURSE IT’S NOT GOING TO END RIGHT AWAY. THEY NEVER DO. Unless it’s the Seven Day’s War, in which Sadako fought an army of little tiny Pyramid Heads because they critiqued her video too much. But that’s beside the point, because even then it took seven days. Seriously.
The battles went on for quite a while. There was espionage, guerilla warfare, warfare in general, and many vicious Halo and Dance Dance Revolution matches between the two sides. It was all so tiring that the two sides’ girlfriends got bored of watching the men play video games all the time and left them for the party life. Both the North and South were heavily inflicted with depression because of this, and wrote bad poetry about the darkness of their souls and how their teachers kept them in during recess. Alas, it was dark times.
The South was hit the hardest, however, when many men no longer had shoes to protect their little toesies. Because of this, they could no longer play DDR and were now on the defensive, until one fateful night. They preformed a summoning ritual that summoned the magical rainbow vintage Barbie doll, never removed from box! (NRFB! NRFB!) She granted them all plastic high-heels for which they could continue to fight in. The men rejoiced, for not only did they have shoes again, but they made their legs look sexy.
The southern men’s sexy legs angered the men from the North, for they became jealous. Angrily they gnashed their teeth and smoke poured out of their ears as they charged into the South. They crashed over mountains, deserts, and forests, but then many sank into the Bayou. It was a tragic event. Some smart ones dug a hole through the Bayou though and ended up in China. They ordered some takeout, then swam across the Altantic Ocean from New York to London like MapQuest told them to.
Some people may argue that the Civil War was over slavery. This was actually a cover-up by the CIA. It was actually over oil, ‘cause that’s usually what causes wars. Some say that the cover-up never happened though, and it was only a misinterpretation of “black gold” in old journals recovered from Civil War veterans. Either way, the CIA refused to comment when I followed them around all day, trying to ask stuff. Buncha jerks.
Anyway, after the Bayou incident was when the most horrendous assault happened. That’s right; Jefferson Davis released the ninjas on Lincoln. For a long time, Davis had ninja traps set throughout Japan. The traps were ingenious; disguised as pirates or helpless babies with candy, and soon many ninjas were hanging upside-down from nooses, and man were they pissed. In fact, they were so pissed that anyone who came within a 50-mile radius got their heads exploded from the pure ninja fury going on there. After the ninjas were caught, they were shipped to Americaland, directly to Lincoln’s house.
It was Christmas when he opened the package marked “This is totally not a box full of ninjas”. Suddenly a whole horde of them sprung out of the box, killed everyone in the building including all the bugs that were there, and then left. Fortunately for Lincoln, a phoenix down fell off the table from a gust of wind, landed on him, and revived him. He only had one, though, so in his grief, he built a robot that would replicate his wife, transplanting her brain into it. Meanwhile, the ninjas searched for the one who took them from their homeland, planning to avenge themselves. They found Davis in a supermarket, and ended up killing him with loaves of French bread. Then they teleported back home, to go tell their ninja friends of their excellent adventure.
And so, with their leader gone, the Confederacy lost the war, and the Union was preserved. People flopped about on the streets with happiness, and that’s how breakdancing was invented. Lincoln was shot afterwards.
the skysick sun, fading woozy, throwing up. dripping on the backs of conveying camels. bodies of water, yes, every touch moves through. grassland often. skinny belly atop the garden hill's slope. train-track thap-thapping. smile, God's tap dancing on a saturday sundown.
you're watching the show frontrow. i'm watching you. i say, "those mistakes on your arm look nice in this light." but i don't. not aloud. instead i say, "do they hurt when it's cold?" and you say, "it's not cold right now." so i say, "i didn't notice." but we don't. not aloud. not allowed. so i say, "you look hurt." no. i say, "you look pretty." yeah. i said that.
then you looked at me. then you cried. because i'm a liar. only to you. i mean, to you only, i am a liar. i mean you see me as a liar. but you know what? everything's alright in my mind. and that's good for me for now.
"hey, V?" that's what you said. "yeah?" i said. "where are we?" "we're here, dear. we're right here." tell me i'm lying. tell me there's a me and you, no 'we'. tell me winter's coming and the mistakes you didn't feel weeks ago are going to push your mattress into the atlantic and you're going to paddle as far as you can away from me through the pain to the rain that makes everything burn and spills it on an island.
look at me. cry. because i am a liar. none of this happened. this is all fake, like us but there is no 'us', just a you and me. not really, i'm a liar. none of this is real.
last night, I glimpsed a great white egg, in the dark behind my eyelids. it was being broken open by a dull, green beer bottle. out poked the snout of a drunk, under-age Tyrannosaurus Rex. he spoke in a spray of tiny bubbles.
"I've decided that 'The Kensington Landlord' is a hilarious title for a fake, black & white, British, horror film. at first, I didn't know if it was hilarious or if it was only funny to me. then, I realized they meant exactly the same thing."
"back in the 1940s, Webby was a tough, bright yellow, baby duckling who wore a faded brown cabbie hat. he took no nonsense. he ruffled a lot of feathers ...things are different now."
"it is unusual for a panda and a lion to go out on a blind date. however, it is more unusual for them to hit it off over a few drinks - only to discover they share a close family relation, make identical flimsy excuses for sudden departure, and leave the bar, awkward & ashamed."
"in a fight between a giant squid & an angry cow, location is everything."
"don't be fooled; while most bears dislike fire, they prefer being naked."
he closed his act with an impression of a praying mantis wearing a miniature leather biker cap with matching chaps & jacket. balloons & silvery confetti tumbled down from the shadow-strewn ceiling. he was a accompanied by a tiny insect choir shouting a throaty rendition of a Village People tune.
Because it was a dream, it didn't seem quite real. The dreamer slept lightly under an equally light quilt. When the dream was over, the dreamer woke *snap* wide awake, and sat up to think about that dream.
There wasn't much to it.
There was a hand holding a white rose. There was another hand reaching for the rose. There was a voice like a narrator.
The voice said this... Consider this flower. No, not the half-bloom of the rose, though it is a single flower and is to be noted. No, consider the leaf on the stem of the flower. It is also single, just one deep green leaf. There is only one leaf. Why is that? Leaves are usually surrounded by others. It is the single leaf you must see, not the single rose.
The dreamer, awake now, knew the rose bushes outside were healthy and would soon be trimmed back for winter. The dreamer looked out a window at the one deciduous tree in the yard, and saw that a few leaves among a great many were turning. That tree would be its usual riot of colored leaves by the end of October, then it would be bare.
There wasn't much else to look at except pine trees. No wonder was felt. Not until the dreamer looked in a mirror. Then wonder fell as heavily as a forest of deciduous trees, every tree with a single leaf.
The dreamer seemed to hear a faint echo of the dream-narrator's voice... Consider yourself. Wonder. Keep wondering. Take a long walk and find people to talk with all the day long, perhaps to talk with all the night. Make sure you help both them and yourself be happier. 'A rose is a rose' by itself, but many leaves are needed to make a rose display the best way. Join others now.
1. Are the images clear to you? 2. Is realization about what the dream is and what's thought by the dreamer once awake divided enough? 3. If THAT didn't make sense, can you suggest ways this piece might reflect both a dream and a person awake, pondering the dream? 4. From the first sentence to last, do you see a good progression of action/imagery? 5. Do you have any favorite/least favorite parts? (This one doesn't need to be answered.)
you stood in the doorway, damp orange light falling across your skin, black hoodie falling from your shoulders gently, hair a mess - and you were all but perfect. you stood, leaning against the door frame a little too drunk, and smiled at me. it was that kind of smile that i knew meant more than it should have, the one i have seen too many times since - the kind of smile that meant something. i'd like to tell myself it meant the world - that when, for the first time in a year, our eyes met and you told me something that wasn't a lie - the stars had aligned or the universe corrected itself - but i know that's not true.
we kissed that night, the alley way beside your house. you ran your hand along my legs, along my ripped tights, and i could feel your heartbeat under the sleeve of the shirt i had always loved. you stared at me, face relaxed, and told me that you had wanted that for a year. sometimes, i think i have too.
my heart didn't explode though, and my knees didn't shudder underneath me - because it's not the same as last time, is it? i spent years convincing myself to hate you - and now you're begging me to love you. this is acceptance in love, absence of loneliness, and shudder of known imperfection down my spine. this is me more afraid than i have ever been, me doing things i have told myself i never would again, me letting you in, me enabling you to hurt me. again. and this, after all these months - all the tears and the lonely nights, grief and depression, all of the horrible words and the other boys, after all of the pain and the regret and the release - this is me, preparing for it again.
but you know what? maybe i'm okay with that. because you make me happier than anyone in the world, and the warmth of your skin against mine in the middle of the night sometimes feels like it justifies everything we've ever done.
the air is always cold this time of year, you once told me as we lay in bed, warm, watching the last few seconds of christmas eve fall away. you whispered merry christmas in my ear, ran your hand along the the valley of my waist and told me that you had the best christmas present ever. i didn't need to ask what it was, because i already knew. 'this time of year, miracles come true,' i could tell you were murmuring through a smile into my shoulder 'if you just close your eyes and wish upon a star hard enough.' giggling, i closed my eyes and wished that i would wake up next to you. when you asked me what i wished for, i turned to face you, and through a succession of small kisses i whispered that i couldn't tell you, or it wouldn't come true. god, we always thought we were so young.
you know, i have closed my eyes every year since then, and wished for the same thing. this year though, i lay in my double bed alone, sheets littered with cigarette burns and little pieces of wrapping paper. blood red numbers glare at me from the bedside table, and again, i watch the seconds fade like clouds dissipate. i rest my head against the wall behind me, and sigh. you told me, as you were packing your things into bags, calling me all the names you've ever heard, reminding me of everything that was wrong, that wishes never come true. 'you wish upon a star, a million miles away,' you sighed, holding the door frame as you walked out for the last time, 'but that star is dead rachel. all that is left of that shiny, pretty thing, is empty space.'
Hair danced into the wind, wishing desperately to be free but unable to free itself from its bondage. Blinding emerald eyes rose, merely gems cut into the cool porcelain face. He was like a doll, a tiny, frail doll: black hair framing his face, the deathly white skin, the overall perfection of his layout. It made his knees go weak with desire, just thinking about him. And he hated it.
Frank, the doll whispered, a hand trailing forward into the air. Please dont be angry with me.
A shudder wracked his body as he held tightly onto his sweat jacket. Im not angry with you, he murmured softly, looking down at his shoes. They were the canvas style, in which he had painted all over them; designs were laced onto them, things he had thought of off the top of his head. Lyrics from songs he enjoyed or he had made up, but they were there, beauty and all.
The crystal-like eyes sparkled with tears that were too frightened to be released from their hiding place. You keep acting like you are, though. His voice trembled with emotion, so thick wit hit that he looked up into his face. Frank bit his full lip, staring into those eyes he adored so much and fought hard not to run into his overly welcoming arms. The arms he wanted to wrap around his frame so badly
Im not angry with you, Gerard. Im angry with myself. He said the words without meaning to and flinched as they spilled forward, but it was too late to take them back. The one called Gerard cocked his head to the side and a bemused expression crossed his face, making Franks heart melt slightly.
Youre angry with yourself? Why? His voice was small and worried.
Lowering his head again, Frank studied his finger nails as if they were the most fascinating thing he had ever seen. Well , he said slowly. He looked up at Gerard and couldnt help himself from fidgeting. Not sure if you really want the truth, Gee.
He stomped his foot on the ground and put his hands on his hips, the gesture making Frank laugh a bit. Frankie Iero, you will tell me the reasons youre mad at yourself, dammit! Now, spill.
Frank rolled his eyes and stared up at his friend. I told myself I wouldnt like you as anything more than a friend. Voice so low and dangerous, it could kill, he muttered the words under his breath. But Gerard heard, and his whole body tensed forward. Here was the topic again. He had asked about it two days prior, after accidentally kissing Frank full on the lips. He hadnt meant to, but in the heat of the moment, he had just leaned down and kissed him. He gulped and crossed his arms over his chest, beginning to shudder from things other than the cold.
But I think I broke that promise , he whispered. A tear rolled down his cheek as he stared up at his friend, who stared back at him with a slack expression. And, dammit, Gerard, the things I think ! The things I feel, they scare me. Guys arent supposed to feel that way about other guys, and damn, Gerard, it scares me that I do feel that way about you!
Feet stumbling forward, Gerard reached out towards his friend again. Frankie, he said softly. But Frank jumped backwards slightly, afraid that if Gerard touched him, things he didnt want to happen between the two friends would occur. Such as kissing and other intimate things that guys shouldnt share between one another. Gerard looked taken aback momentarily before lowering his hand and letting his lips pull into a deeper frown.
Im sorry Ive upset you so badly, he sighed. I remember when I found out I was gay I wanted to kill myself. So kudos to you for not being quite so irrational, at least, not yet. He chuckled humorlessly.
Scuffing his shoe into the concrete, he looked down before looking up. Nyeh, he said. I dont want to be gay. He bit his lip and stared at his friend. I just want to be normal! All my life Ive been abnormal, cant I just be normal for once?
Gerard had a pitying look on his face, honestly feeling sorry for his friend. The wind had died down as he shambled forward slightly, and this time, Frank didnt back up. He just stared at his friend with watery eyes, gulping. Youre fine the way you are. Gerard moved forward again, now so close their noses were nearly touching. They swayed on the spot, longing gripping the two with its iron fist.
Then, to Gerards surprise, Frank stood on his tiptoes, leaned into Gerard, and pressed his lips against his.
It was a simple yet painstakingly sweet kiss. Frank sank into Gerards well toned chest, fingers running across his sides and finally gripping to his waist. Gerards hands wrapped around his body, pulling him closer, embracing him and relishing the moment more than he could have ever imagined.
Heads tilting back for air, they hardly noticed it when their lips met once again. But soon Gerards tongue was gently asking for entrance into Franks mouth, and Frank granted him his wish. His tongue roamed his mouth, pressing against the roof of his mouth. After a moment of being submissive, Frank slowly slid his tongue into his mouth.
Pulling away, gasping for breath, Frank laid his head on Gerards chest. His hands gripped tightly to Gerards waist, never wanting to let go. Gerard pressed his face into Franks sweet smelling hair, sighing happily.
Groaning a bit, Frank looked up at his friend. I guess I really am in love with you, he said a bit nervously. A smile spread sweetly across Gerards cherry lips and he leaned down to gain dominance over Franks mouth momentarily. But he backed away quickly, still smiling broadly.
I love you too, Gerard said softly.
Ya know what? Frank asked after a few silent moments. Gerard shook his head, raising a questioning eyebrow. If I had to be gay Im really happy Im at least gay towards you, Frank giggled as he leaned forward for another passionate kiss.