Thursday, April 19, 2012


I'd been past that street so many times, aware of the house where I'd lived as a teenager, that last house  I'd lived in with my parents before we all went our separate ways. I'd looked for the shape of it, suspecting after all this time somebody might have painted it a different color. Pink, maybe.

That doesn't make sense. Pink would clash with the red brick pillars on either side of the front porch. But maybe they had painted those too, or torn them down altogether. I'm sure they weren't holding anything together anyway. That is the place where everything seemed to finally fall apart. Maybe the house had fallen apart as well.

Nonetheless, I was still searching for it. I'm not sure why. Something in my subconscious thinks there is something left there, so every time I passed that street, I would turn my head ever so slightly to see if I could spot it.

Nothing doing.

Just a row of boring white houses with manicured lawns and children playing football in the street. Smile. Wave. Move on.

But it's there! It had been trying to hide from me, but I finally saw it! From the periphery, I witnessed it folding into itself. The dilapidated front porch flipped over into the door, pillars and all. Out flipped the newly poured cement porch with the pink ballasts. The dull, dirty facing of the house brightened into the whitest, most cheerful wooden planks. I swear it smiled. It was so much better than it had ever been when I was there.

But not really. You can change the way a house looks from the outside. You can make people believe everything is wonderful, but it's what's going on inside that makes a house what it really is.

I skirted the perimeter with my cat-like ninja skills. The front lawn was a beautiful, lush, welcoming green, but the back yard was a treacherous pit that seemed to want to suck me down, burn me up. I avoided the edge of the pit completely. My fear of falling overpowered my fear of burning alive. You fall, you wake up. I had searched for this place far too long to wake up now.

On the far side of the house, I found the rusty, old baker's rack with all of my mother's plastic containers. Each one had been clearly labelled. Each one had been placed neatly in its designated spot for all eternity. The overgrowth had all but consumed the entire presentation. Nobody had ever bothered to open these containers to see what was so all-fired important about them. My mother's worst fear; to be neglected and unremembered. Poor Mom.

I could hear Banks through the window. He was talking in that annoyingly loud voice of his, and not saying anything of consequence, as he often does. He is young, and he still thinks that just because he is louder than everybody else, everybody else must be listening. Usually, if he starts talking we try to find the nearest exit. Every man for himself.

He also has anger issues. He likes to slam things around and make unreasonable demands. He is better than I am in every aspect of life. He is a harder worker. He is smarter. He is better looking, and surely, once he has children, he will be a much better parent than I.

I know this about him because he told me. It's a good thing he did. If he hadn't told me, I might have never known. He's the next Big Thing.

He is nonchalantly chucking several, bloody severed heads into the open top of the meat grinder. I can see the faces of the heads, and I am horrified. It's like a a bomb going off in my heart when I recognize the faces of our co-workers, my friends. He is smiling and going about his work as if this is no big deal. It's cool guys. Just trying out new ideas.

He starts the rotator before it's time, but it's okay, because Banks, as we all know, is indestructible and immortal.

But not really.

He can boast all he wants, but we all know he's just a punk kid with a loud mouth and no concern for anybody but himself.

His arm is caught in the spokes. The grinder pulls him in. He struggles and emerges with a bloody stump. Blood is pouring and he is staring disbelievingly at the thin air where his arm once was.

I am on the inside now. I am the only person here with my body completely intact. I can help him, and now I only have to decide whether or not I will.

Note: Names have been changed simply because people from work often read my blog. But realistically, they'll most likely know exactly who I'm talking about anyway.

Monday, April 2, 2012

Sticks, not Stones

I missed you since you had the baby. We hadn't spent much one on one time since your world began to revolve around feeding schedules and diaper changes. I also wanted to come over and spent some time admiring the little stinker, so I did. We sat in the back yard, just like always. I cherished the heavy weight of his warm, sleeping body in the crook of my arm. I could have stared at him all evening. His tiny mouth drew into a circle and he yawned with a little squeak. What talent.

We spent our time gossiping about the drama going on at my job. The weather was perfect. The moonlight bounced off the giant oak, creating a purplish grey hue on the bark. Lightning bugs flitted around like angry pixies. Leaves scampered across the lawn, chasing grasshoppers through the fence cracks.
Your husband kept swatting at those pixies with a stick he'd found on the ground. He was going on and on about some mountain he'd climbed one year. It seems to me there's always something fascinating that he needs to tell us about. His redneck drawl resonates in my mind. I don't know why he threw that stick into the next yard, but he had great aim. A shout from the other side let us know he had landed it right on some poor guy's head.

Why was that funny?

And why did he do it again?

"Watch this," he whispered to us. He scooped up another good sized stick and lobbed it over the fence. Another angry shout got the two of you laughing.

"Stop that," I told him, but he did it again, with an even bigger stick. One right after the other, he kept tossing, and the shouts kept coming.

You raised your face to the moon and howled your laughter skyward. The blues and purples of the moonlight cascaded against your forehead and cheeks. Somehow, it didn't seem real at all. I'd fallen into some surreal dimension where you were okay with this, and I was the only one horrified.

You'd become strange. and I'd become a stranger.

I looked down at the baby to whisper to him a secret. I wasn't going to leave him there with you freaks. But he'd disappeared and I was only holding your long-haired black and white cat.