Thursday, May 27, 2010

Gemma's Mom

Gemma’s Mom:  Gemma is a thirteen year old who has just sprouted fairy wings because her mother was an addicted to fairy Dust.  When she burned out and her wings stopped working, Gemma’s Mom ran, leaving Gemma when she was only six.  Gemma first appeared in a short story, “Wings”, then in OGW 9/24/09, 10/29/09, 2/4/10, and now she’s the narrator of a novel I’m working on.  The following is a letter Gemma’s mother wrote to Gemma when she was eight.

My darling girl, my little fairy, my precious Gem,

Remember when I used to fly?

Remember that poem I used to read to you?   “Come away, human chyld/ to the waters and the wyld/ With a fairy hand in hand/ From a world more full of weeping than you can understand.”  I saw it framed on the wall of a friend’s bedroom yesterday, and I began to cry.  I’d tried not to think of you for so long.  My feelings for you came rushing back in that instant, breaking the wall I’d built up around my heart.

Do you still love me?  I used to be your whole world.  Are you very angry with me?  Have you tried to forget me?  Please believe me when I say I love you very much.  I’ve been scared and lonely and trying to heal.  But yesterday, the Goddess showed me that Yeats poem, and I knew it was a sign that I needed you back in my life.  I’ve missed you soooo much. 

You must wonder why it took me two years to write to you.  Maybe you’re wondering why I never came home.

Remember when you couldn’t wait to be like me?  When I left, I didn’t want you to see me so broken.  I didn’t want you to want to be like me any more.  I left to spare you.

Honey, I couldn’t bring you with me, or come back, not the way I was. 

It’s taken me two years, but I’m learning to fly again.  I have friends, I have the Goddess in my life, I’m painting beautiful pictures (like we used to, together.  Remember when we used to paint together?  Is that mural still on the wall in the upstairs hall?  Or did your father paint over it?  He probably did paint over it.  I don’t want to place blame, but in order for you to understand why I left, you should know that your father never understood me.

I should’ve taken you with me.  Every day I’ve thought of you.  Every day.  I have a picture of us from the day you were born, you’re a little doll, porcelein-white, sucking on the long sleeve of a onesy that covers your hand.  Your head is against my neck, and you are at peace.  As am I.
I was afraid to write to you.  I was afraid your father had turned you against me.  Do you understand, I loved him so much, but he stopped caring about me.  In the end, he wasn’t even talking to me!  He never understood me.  How devastated I was after Jacob was born, when I stopped being able to fly.

I’m not blaming Jacob -- he was such a sweet boy!  How is he? 

You were tooo young to understand, but when Jacob was born, something inside me snapped.  I think it was what’s called post-partum depression, which you’re too young to understand.  I was just so sad.  I felt like I was in a horror movie, only it was real and it was never going to end.

I felt trapped.  I was dying inside.  My wings had stopped working and were worn out and dull and I couldn’t understand why, but I know now it was because of my heavy heart.  I’d always used flying to lighten my spirit, but it wasn’t working anymore.  Even your sweet, heart-shaped face and contagious laughter couldn’t lift me up.  My wings were heavy weights.  Jacob was another weight I couldn’t carry.  Your father didn’t want to help me.

You used to say, “It’s all right Mommy,” and pat my hand.  But it wasn’t.

Anyway, enough sad talk.  I love you Gemma, I always have and always will.  I am getting better, and when I am fully healed, I will bring you to New York City to live with me.  We were meant to be together.  Goddess willing, we will be.

Please forgive me.  I love you, baby.


Thursday, May 20, 2010


Cherish returns to OGW, still struggling with her son when she's still a child herself.

Cherish:  Maypole still leaning against the wall, kid-sized, ribbon-wrapped.

Cd's in stacks of various sizes -- two, six, four, eighteen -- no shit, I counted.

Computer desktop repeating images of havanese puppy, documents and folders all over the desktop, too many, a mess.  Like everything else.

Three separate mugs of broken pencils, dried-out felt-tips, a child-sized scissor, a laundry marker for writing "JONAH Johnson" in his underwear for school.

His clay handprint, one finger broken off missing, uneven red paint splotchy, cracked.

Pepsi Max I'm drinking.

Pepsi Max -- three empty cans.

Ashtray, full.  Shaking hands.  Stack of bills too high, checkbook balance staring up at me, too low.

"Mommy, wanna play a game?" Jonah asks, coming out of our shared bedroom, a room which hasn't seen a date for four years.
     "Mommy can't.  Go back to bed.  I hafta do this."  Mommy -- I mean, Cherish, I mean, me -- I drag on a cigarette, blows out with pursed lips, in a direction away from Jonah.
     My son runs into the hanging cloud of smoke however, trying to catch it in his little brown fists.
     "Jonah!  Don't!"
     "I'm catching the smoke, Mommy."
     "Don't I said!  It's bad for you!"
     "I hafta 'tect you Mommy.  From the bad smoke."  His pajamas are worn-out, and the Hulk top doesn't match the Batman bottoms. 
     I gasp, almost break-down, but stop myself.  "Jonah, please, Jonah!  Go back to bed now.  Mommy has to finish--"
     "Whatcha' doin'?"  There's a hole in the armpit of Jonah's sleeve that I see when he holds his arms up to reach my neck, which he grabs as he tries to climb on my lap.  He gets bigger everyday, and when he pulls on my neck with all his weight, it hurts, a lot.
     "Jonah!"  Too loud.
     His mouth opens in an "O", and then he bursts into tears.  Between gulps of air he chastises me --  "We... s'pposed to... 'tect each udder... Mommy."
     "I know."  I sigh.  I kiss his head.  "You're a good boy."  I pull him onto my lap, fucking annoyed as hell but what can I do?  We have to protect each other.

Thursday, May 13, 2010


Lara's parents say everything's fine, but if everything's fine, why does she feel like there's a fist in her stomach? 

Lara:  Here’s what I think.  If he wasn't doing anything wrong, he wouldn’t have been doing it at one in the morning.  If he wasn't doing anything wrong, my Mom wouldn’t have burst into tears when I told her I didn’t eat my lunch because I don’t like peanut butter anymore.
     Mom:  I just thought (waaa) I just (sniffle waa) thought (sniffle sniffle waaa bu blaa bla-waaaa) you would like to try it again (waaa bwaa ba baaa blaaa).
     Me:  It’s okay Mommy.  I’ll make my own lunch from now on.
     Mom:  I can’t even make (sniffle) my own daughter’s lunch right anymore!  Blaaaaa!

     If my father wasn’t doing anything wrong, why do I have this queasy feeling, why am I so tired, why does it feel like my legs are going to give out and I’m going to puke? 
     If I tell my mother about last night, what if she leaves?  What if he leaves?  What if there’s another fight they won’t confirm or deny?
     I lie on my bed and hold my stomach.

     One am (last night):  I can’t sleep.  I go downstairs, and my father’s at the computer.  His dewlap is ruffled like a rooster’s comb on top of his head.  He’s drinking a beer.  He looks like he’s had several.
     Me:  What are you doing?  It’s late.
     Dad:  What?  Huh?  Nothing.  Nothing, honey.  Go back to bed.  Just playing around at the computer.
     Me:  Don’t you have work tomorrow?  It’s late.
     Dad:  I’m just finishing up.
     Me:  Is that for work?  (This is when the pit of my stomach starts to yaw.  Acid starts sloshing around inside of me.  I know he’s not working.  I persist.)  Did we do too many great things for Father’s Day so you couldn’t get your work done?  Maybe you shouldn’t have gone out after dinner?
     Dad:  I’m done now.  Go back to bed.  I’m on my way up.
     Me:  Is that a CD you’re making? 
     Dad:  I’m just fiddling around, I couldn’t sleep.  School tomorrow, go back to bed.
     Me:  Who’s it for, Daddy?  Are you making Mom a CD?
     Dad:  It’s for someone at work.
     Me:  It’s for Amy, isn’t it.
     Dad:  It’s for her kids.
     Me:  You’re making Amy’s kids a CD at one in the morning?  (I raise an eyebrow.)
     Dad:  Yes.  Go to bed.
     Me:  Where’s Mom?
     Dad:  She’s asleep.  Go to bed.
     Me:  (halfway up the stairs, calling back down, not loud enough to wake my mother, but enough to give him a scare.  I like that he jumps and starts hitting keys in a fluster.)…  I think it’s totally inappropriate.  I think it’s wrong, Daddy.
     Dad:  Just forget about it.  I’m going to bed.  Go to bed now.

     My mother knocks on my door.  I’m lying on my bed, remembering last night, and not so cocky anymore.  I feel goose-pimply and nauseated and sweaty and weepy.  I want to tell on Dad so I can feel better.
     “Lara,” my Mom says, coming in.  “Are you okay?” 
     “You’re not crying.  Why were you crying?” I ask.  Obviously it wasn’t over a peanut butter sandwich.
     “Nothing.  It was nothing,” Mom says.
     “Then I’m fine,” I say.
     “Um, Lara?”  Mom asks, sitting on my bed, rubbing my back.
     “What’s up Mom?”
     “Um, have you noticed your father…”
     “I haven’t noticed anything.”
     (Sniffle)  “That’s what I thought,” she says.  When she leaves, I don’t hear her walking away, so I know she’s out in the hall, pressing her forehead against the wall, trying to breathe.

     If my father wasn’t doing anything wrong, making Amy’s kids a mixed CD at one am… my mother wouldn’t have made me a peanut butter sandwich for lunch.  That’s all I’m sayin’.

Thursday, May 6, 2010


Angie is feeling "crabby," which really means, “like a spiny monster with two rows of serrated teeth is going to jump out of my throat and bite your face off and then turn on me and swallow me whole”.  Why?  Stepmother, or rather, stepbitch, Kate.

Angie:  I feel crabby.  A little crabby.  Kate would like that.  She would say, “Now honey, that’s what you ought to say instead of, for instance, ‘I feel like shit.’” 

I do understand what she means about not cursing, because I don’t want my mouth washed out with soap, which I know her mother ("who was a saint, bless her soul") used to do to Kate when she was a kid cause she told me – and I know she’ll do it to me if I push her. What I don’t really get is, what’s wrong with saying, “I feel like a spiny monster with two rows of serrated teeth is going to jump out of my throat and bite your face off and then turn on me and swallow me whole”.

     Because that’s how I feel, and I know Kate says it’s wrong to “harbor ill will,” and if she finds out she will beat my naked behind with my father’s belt or worse, her rhinestoned one -- until I don’t have any will left in me.  I get that.  But what I don’t get is how I’m supposed to feel when I was just chillin by the pool listening to some music, and she came up behind me, grabed my iPod and threw it into the pool.  She was laughing when I gave up on it, leaving it where it had floated down to the bottom.  She shook her head and laughed almost until she cried when I crawled out of the pool coughing and sputtering, shrunken and almost drowned from diving in after my music, the earbuds still hanging off my head.  Kate said “See, I told your father I could teach you to swim.”
     What you may be wondering now is not why I feel crabby, but how I didn’t push dark-bronze, highlighted Kate into the pool.  Well, let’s rewind and see what actually happened.  First I pretended my eyes were burning red from the chlorine, and I let her dab them with a towel.  I was shivering, and naturally she assumed that was because it is still fucking May and the water is not warm enough to swim – or drown – in yet.  She did not see the half-moons my nails dug into the center of my fists.  Kate did not see anything until I’d used all the brawn I’ve developed from four years of.  Used it to lift her, growl, “Eat shit and die bitch!” and dump her in the deep end.  Maybe I could’ve fished her out sooner, but see, Kate, I still can’t swim.

     Of course she washed my mouth out with soap.  Duh, a given.

     Whipped me with the belt, called my father, sent me to my room, the works.  I don’t care about that, and it’s not what’s making me crabby.  A little crabby.

     I’m crabby because it’s what my mom used to say whenever she got her period. I’m a little crabby because I just found the first red dot in my underwear, and I don’t know what to do.  My back thuds with a dull ache and I’m afraid to go to the downstairs and ask Kate for something, you know—

     I know Kate’s right, there is a monster inside me, and I know it’s also capable of turning on me, but can it swallow me whole?  I wish.