He told me his gifts were irrevocable
Why couldn’t I believe?
Ideas clutter my mind like books clutter my desk
Soft voices whisper through speakers
eyes shut, just focusing on the one gift
the one wrapped in an old newspaper
tied with twine
Always sitting right in front of me.
The print leaves a black trail on my fingers
I turn the package in my hands
a bestowed gift, the moment we’re sharing now
I tear it open like a child
black and white text fluttering like snow and floating down to the floor
here it is
His voices comes clear through the speaker
“enjoy it, it was made for you…
hushed voices take over, in song
I sway, eyes closed
falling in love with the moment
painting by day
and dreaming by night
thinking about lost shoes
and writing drafts that just get ripped out and torn up
change has been trying to meet my gaze
I just advert my eyes
and examine my feet
the walls were painted an institutional gray, lighting dim and florescent
The center room was set up like a class.
What could they teach me here?
It had no windows, only chairs and mirrors
mirrors with inscriptions about beauty and loving yourself
I smiled at the effort
A woman spoke at the front of the room, slides flashed behind her
an assist for those who can’t pay attention
I doodled on my hand-out, hardly looking up
I had been so afraid of this day
of this moment
but here I was, coloured pen posed in fingers
and something about the room warmed me on the inside
it wasn’t the walls
or the encouraging inscriptions on the mirror
or the sympathetic smiles from the therapists stationed around the room
It was the girls
Beside me and around me
it was that they were there
That they had the courage to come
to lay their dirty laundry for all to see and assume
to pull out their hearts from hiding
to turn them in the dim lighting
showing off the scuffs and knotches
the fingerprints and the dents
not compare the sizes or the wear but just expose them
I was amazed at their confidence
and although I was there too, I felt below them
like I was still hiding
beneath my fringe of hair
They were handing over their hearts to be refined and molded and I was keeping my in the deep pocket of my sweater
Right here and now I reach my worn fingers in the soft pocket and feel the rough edges of my heart
I am not ready to pull it out
but soon I will be
maybe I already did a little
I sit at a white desk
it has paint smears and pencil marks
my chair is black aluminum frame.
I make fiction from real life
trade in a document for a grade
here it is
The carnival is brightly lit with different coloured lights. Stuffed toys dangle from tents, hosting games for a dollar.
Toss a pingpong in a can, throw a baseball at some bottles.
Guessing games and fishing games.
Money into pockets.
Trailers selling food, kettle corn and caramel corn. Hot dogs on a stick and coloured ice in a cone.
Many of her classmates have candy floss and glossy apples. Sugar rotting at teeth, like maggots eating flesh.
and the rides, Oh the rides.
The ferris wheel is the king. Towering over children and teens.
It keeps the music going, faded out by screams and laughter.
The ground is decorated with red tickets and littered wrappers.
A clown dances around, crunching dropped kernels under foot.
She avoids him, his goofy smile sends a chill up her spine.
She comes here alone, with hopes of riding the teacups.
She had seem a film, where girls sat in them and spun around. The girls were beautiful and they wore fancy dresses. They laughed and smiled. She wanted that.
So she waits until her parents have grown tired of fighting and fall into a drunk slumber. She puts on her favorite dress. The one she wears on Sunday. The hem has come undone and pocket hangs on by a few stitches, but it is a soft blue and the closet thing to what the pretty girls wore in the film.
She creeps out of the house on tip toes and runs down the street towards bright lights and whizmical sounds. At the entrance they are taking money. So she slips under the coloured flags, behind the big trailers and gets lost in the crowd.
The toothy woman checking seat belts asks for a ticket. Pockets empty she is asked to leave. She bashfully gets up from her seat in the pink cup, but she can’t go home yet. The carnival is like nothing she’s ever seen in real life.
Children from her class are here with mums and dads. Parents carry prizes. Children whine and point at the next best thing.
They don’t notice her.
That she is there alone.
That her dress is tattered and her shoes scuffed.
She wanders around taking it all in.
Then she sees it.
A white porcelain face, brown ringlets tumbling out of bonnet, and set in glass eyes. They glitter in the lights. Her dress is perfect, soft silk or satin with lace edging. And the daintiest black shoes. Mary-Janes in miniature.
Approaching the bench for a closer look, the man running the booth takes note of the lost girl. He sees that she has come alone. Then he looks her over. Her skin looks so soft, and her shoulder delicate, shown bare where hand-me-down dress falls off her frame. Her sweet innocent frame. His gaze ventures to her face, her eyes look playful and dreamy, he follows them to the doll hanging in his booth.
She sees him looking at her and smiles. His face is furry and his clothes look gruff. But something about him reminds her of her grandfather. She walks confidently up to the man and asks how much to play.
He crouches down to her level, her breath is sweet like milk and cookies, and her hair smells like flowers. She speaks so soft. She wants to play for the doll, but has no money.
Then without anyone noticing, both man and girl are heading towards the trailer behind the booth.
And the carnival carries on. The lights, the music, the laughter.
The clown is now handing out balloons to kids with sticky fingers. His eyes are crazy and wild. The teacups stop spinning. All the patrons exit to the left. A teenage boy is sick in a garbage pail.
From the top of the ferris wheel the little girl can be seen on a dim lit street . She carries the beautiful doll by its arm. Her clothes are ruffled and she drags her feet. Her hair is a mess and her cheeks are streaked with tears. The doll’s glass eyes no longer sparkle, they just stare at her. They look ashamed. She stuffs a sleeve in her mouth to muffle her sobs and trudges on back home.
my stomach turns when I think that this came from my mind
that my imagination goes to places that don’t impress
places of sadness
where endings are not happy
where people don’t come away with a smile
but this is what I wrote.
(linking up with emily’s imperfect prose)
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Today they shared a picnic under the ever changing sun
dolls at their side
a bowl of grapes and milk in mason jars
gooey muffins and bottle for baby dolls
an onlooker would think nothing of it
but the one with deepset eyes was just entering adulthood
while the brunette with a sunny smile was leaving childhood
they were in different places
but here everything was perfect
Tonight they went to the fair
Lights flashed and children screamed
the younger one clung to the eldest
and tightly squeezed her hand
she hopped and flapped like a new bird learning to fly
as they waiting in line
the eldest saw the boy she knew
he would never understand
he looked on in confusion
I am the elder sister, with deep set eyes
I sit next my beloved brunette on carnival rides
feeling helpless that this is too much for her
the screams like jet planes taking off in her ears
the children like missiles shooting, spinning around her
She notices the lanky man running our ride
how he dances and cackles baring a toothless smile
I see the boy I know looking at me
He will never understand
Not many do, and that is alright
The eldest sister will wait
she’ll wait patiently for the right one to come along
like she waits patiently now for the ride to end
for the teenagers to exit the gates
so she can hold sisters hand tight and run for the parking lot
Because once the two girls reach the orange lit parking lot they can breath fresh air
unpolluted with kettle corn and chili-dogs
They’ll return home to baby dolls and dance in their pink slippers
It was the best day.
I wrote letters on the train and picked through buttons and other vintages pieces in the market.
Pumpkin Chai tea left a trail of stain down my white top
but I smiled and wore the stain proud
We laugh and engaged eachother in dreamy conversation
The uncertain future, so fresh on our minds
She wore cowboy boots
I wore blue cords
and he wore a goofy smile, that made both us laugh
The street was full of strangers
but we were the only three there
I finished my book on the ride home
the clickedy clack of the train, just a soft hum in my ears
Waited at the station until I saw a little red car pull in and I collapsed next to sister in the backseat of family car
I showed off new belongings
We ran inside, getting sprinkled with raindrops and soaking feet in dark puddles
At home I felt something good
something I had not felt for so long
I cannot say what it was, but
I did not rush to my room to hide my face away
I did not have to blink eyelids, constant.
Keeping salty tears at bay
resting sore legs, I snuggled under quilt
sleeping with a smile, the outside sounds mixed with the ones inside singing a light lullabye
It was the best day.
The leaves are starting to show their sun marks
sporting yellow, amber, gold and orange
as they start to piece together like a puzzle on the grass.
I thought we’d be gone from here by now
watching the summer sun duck below the horizon line in a different room from a different window
but here we are
I know the people are out there
the ones he has chosen
but oh Lord, why are they not here
please send them soon
send them to buy our house