Either we will find a path around, or God will teach us how to fly.
–Anne Isaacs, in Torn Thread
“The leap of faith always means loving without expecting to be loved in return, giving without wanting to receive, inviting without hoping to be invited, holds without asking to be held. And every time I make a little leap, I catch a glimpse of the one who runs out to me and invites me into his joy, the joy in which I can find not only myself, but also my brothers and sisters. Thus the disciplines of trust and gratitude reveal the God who searches for me, burning with desire to take away all my resentments and complaints and to let me sit at his side at the heavenly banquet.” — Henri Nouwen, The Return of the Prodigal Son
“must contain: 2 characters, writing instrument, musical instrument, the color purple” | a collaborative project
Written in Fiction Writing with my fabulous small group consisting of myself, Marika Kossian, and Jessica Martini (two writers who still intimidate and leave me in awe.) We wrote for a set amount of time and then sent the paper onto the next group member. I thought it was kind of cute and CRAZY, so here we are.
Oh, this pen. It’s the one I held in my hand as I stretched my arm through the bars of the Golden Gate Bridge. Then I let go and the pen fell to its measly death in the churning waters below. I watched it falling, falling, falling.
And then I woke up. Lame.
Super lame. Only weak writers make unimaginable situations into dreams.
“Hey, Joe!” my coworker, Dan, yelled down the hallway. “Your pizza pocket’s burning the freaking microwave!”
Dang it. Sigh.
“Alright, dude. Settle.”
As I swiveled my chair around to exit the cubicle, I ran into an instrument case, the one that held the oboe. Sarah’s oboe. I had to find her a new reed, the “special kind” in the purple packaging, by tonight’s practice. Great. Good thing she was too busy to pick it up herself.
I went to the microwave to find that my pizza pocket was literally burning the microwave. I could see the flames through the tinted screen. “Oh my gosh, Dan!!”
The microwave plastic was melting down the sides of the counter. The first thing I thought to do was pour something on it so I opened the fridge and took out a jug of milk. I reached to unplug the microwave and it exploded — a piece of melted plastic flew to my neck. It sizzled and I screamed.
I looked up to see my boss standing still and staring at me.
Then Susan ran in. “What’s going on here?!” she said, as she grabbed the fire extinguisher and sprayed the hot plastic.
She took some ice and soothed my neck.
My boss just chuckled, a real throaty sound. He sort of hustled to the fridge and pushed some crap around until he found his tuna sandwich.
The fire was out. Susan was still really close to my neck.
She smelled like filet mignon.
I looked at my boss. Why is he smiling at us?
“You did this,” I said suddenly, sicking my eyes on him. “He sabotaged my pizza pocket,” I whispered to Susan, without taking my eyes off of him. Susan sucked in air, and also turned her eyes on my boss.
She held the last remnant of ice on my neck until it was gone.
It was just her hand on my neck.
“You did this,” I said again, not as strong this time. “I saw in your file, Susan, that you used to be an EMT. Rode in a fire truck.”
“That’s right,” she said.
“And you,” said my boss. He looked at me. “You didn’t even pass home economics.” He looked at me like I was slime. “I always wanted you two to get together.”
Susan suddenly realized her hand was on my neck and jerked it away. She was blushing. I definitely couldn’t feel my neck anymore.
Scenes started running through my mind with orchestral music. Susan and me…Riding bikes down by the city canal. Flying to Atlantic City. Having picnics after work. Eating hot pockets to commemorate the day we first fell in love. Her fingers were soft. I wish her hand was still on my neck. I looked over at Susan. She was washing her hands in the break room sink. She has such sexy fingers. Why have I never noticed her before? My thoughts turned to Sarah. Sarah’s fingernails are too long. They were always too long. Maybe Susan could actually make a good note out of the clarinet.
I had an idea. It was now or never. do or die. You’ve got this, Dan, I encouraged myself.
“Uh…I’ll be right back,” I said.
Susan was noticeably ticked, but my boss just laughed. Sometimes I think he only hired me for the perk of being constantly entertained by my awkwardness. Such is life.
I bolted out of the room, propelled by visions of biking by the canal and eating hot pockets forever.
I got to my cubicle and my eyes were arrested by that God-awful oboe. I bet Susan plays an instrument that is much sexier than the oboe. Like the tambourine. Oh, baby.
My fingers dialed, like so many times before. 743-2280.
“Hello?” Sarah answered.
“Hey, Sarah. It’s me. Look, I was at work and my pizza pocket obliterated the microwave, and she put ice on my neck and she has sexy fingers, and you’re going to have to buy you’re own reed. I’m sorry. I guess it’s over.”
“What? A microwave? Don’t tell me you’re going to have to pay for –”
My eyes glazed over with tambourines and the air smelled like pizza pockets.
She looked into the faces of her students and knew she was a fraud. She would discuss Steinbeck and Fitzgerald and then go home and cry over a glass of $9.95 red win. Red — like a fraud.
“Could I go to the bathroom?”
“Yes, just be sure to take a pass. You don’t want Principal Quinn to give you another detention.”
“Yes, ma’am.” He left.
The rest of the day passed by quickly. Her was dazed. It would be nice to get home.
She drove home and when she arrived she couldn’t recall her journey.
She entered the house and let out a quick sob that she quickly stifled with her right hand. His sweater was still on the back of the kitchen chair. She should have put it away. She had gone back to work too soon. She would call in sick tomorrow.
Standing became difficult, so she sat down in the middle of the kitchen floor. It was cold, but she liked it. She was feeling something.
Death is a sick, torturing monster. It sneaks into your life, bites you and doesn’t let go. It makes you numb so that you can’t even feel the pain it’s caused, and you beg for the pain because pain means you’re alive.
She wasn’t even old. Things like this weren’t supposed to happen to her yet.
Her chest puffed up as she took a deep breath and picked herself up off of the floor. She decided not to eat tonight. She wasn’t hungry.
She journeyed into the family room and sat down on the sofa. She reached her right hand out for the remote control that sat on the coffee table.
The television turned on with a burst of cathode ray energy.
She flipped from news to sitcom to public broadcasting to his favorite show: Western Frontier. It was atrocious.
God, she missed him.
He would whisper to her belly, to the little life inside. He would talk baby talk. He would relay baseball statistics to the future Yankees fan. He took headphones, spread them lovingly over her abdomen, and exposed little Jackson (he was convinced it was a boy) to Led Zeppelin.
“Well, I guess I best be goin’,” said the Western Frontier cowboy that looked like all the others.
She turned off the television, leaned her head back, and closed her eyes. She was glad her mother had finally left yesterday. She need to learn to be alone.
She looked out of the sliding glass door to her left and saw the raindrops she hadn’t noticed before. It rained at his funeral. Something greater than herself cried that day.
The wet beads hit the shiny surface and slid off. Each bead took its own path. Sometimes they went straight, sometimes crooked; some joined, some stayed alone. He would have pointed out the poetry of this to her.
She was pragmatic, he poetic.
His proposal had even been poetic. They were at the grocery store, where they had met. She had knocked over a towering display of stringed beets and he had helped her pick them up. He took her back to that spot, got down on one knee, and proposed. she said yes, they both cried like lovers and left the store with a can of stringed beets. It was still in the cupboard.
She wondered what to do next. How does life still happen? Do people live with holes in their hearts?
Death is a sick, torturing machine. It cuts and splices and severs and expects the pieces to find their way back to each other. It makes Frankensteins out of us all.
It made one out of her. Her other half was gone, spliced away by the machine.
She met him first. She loved him first. This didn’t happen to firsts.
Something inside her burst and she cried. It hurt, all of it — the tears, the hole, the reality.
She cried and thought of E.E. Cummings. I carry your heart. I carry it in my heart.
She would. She would carry it — however heavy, however long, however far or deep. She would carry it, in her heart.
life has beaten me down/non-negotiable sucker punches/to the face
i am a root exposed/left to face the wind on my own/but it’s cold
a deflated, puckered balloon/that cannot die/even if it wanted to
i just want to pet my cat/and kiss his head/and have nothing matter again
like when nothing mattered/in a fall afternoon full of/pine smoke and cold noses
oh, to be young again./sometimes, i think ignorance really is/bliss.
Death is a sick, torturing monster. It sneaks into your life, bites you and injects its poison. It makes you numb so that you can’t even feel the pain its causing, and you beg for the pain because pain means you’re alive.
i carry your heart with me(i carry it in
my heart)i am never without it(anywhere
i go you go,my dear; and whatever is done
by only me is your doing,my darling)
no fate(for you are my fate, my sweet)i want
no world(for beautiful you are my world,my true)
and it’s you are whatever a moon has always meant
and whatever a sun will always sing is you
here is the deepest secret nobody knows
(here is the root of the root and the bud of the bud
and the sky of the sky of a tree called life;which grows
higher than the soul can hope or mind can hide)
and this is the wonder that’s keeping the stars apart
i carry your heart(i carry it in my heart)