Monday, February 7, 2011

Share & Tell

I wrote this piece for a creative writing class.  I'm in love with it but definitely think some areas need improvement.  I had a really inspired beginning and ending but not so much in the middle.  Let me know what you think!  As a caution...there are adult themes and words so if you're sensitive to that stuff, please DO NOT READ!!


She was a magician, making something unbelievable appear out of thin air.  He was the white bunny, ignorant, dutifully jumping upon request.  Every August, every December, every Thursday - pay day.  Sometimes only for an hour, sometimes for months.  They say children need routine.  I bet they didn’t mean it like this.  I could call it out as it went along.
It could start over money maybe even sex, or the lack thereof.  She’d sit and brew all day preparing for his arrival.  Finally, the familiar squeak of the door, keys jangling, seventeen steps to the kitchen where she always waited.  He’d set down his stuff on the counter and loosen up his tie as if consciously knowing what’s to come.  Harsh hushed tones.  I counted the time.  Twenty-eight Mississippi, twenty-nine Mississippi, thirty Mississippi.  Their voices no longer attempting to not be heard by our innocent ears, eight and two years old. 
My little brother was still new to all of this.  Shut inside my bedroom, he would whimper and cry.  I would become the magician’s assistant – entertaining and distracting the audience while the magician completed her trick.  We would read books, play games, sing songs.  Anything to drown out the noise and worries about how it was going to end this time.
While the endings were usually the same, I still carried the fear that maybe this time would be different.  Because sometimes, to spice it up I guess, they’d throw in a hole in the wall, an iron, somebody would leave, somebody would have a black eye.  You would think that the best of these possibilities would be somebody just leaving.  No harm, no foul.  But those were the worst.
            With one gone, usually dad, mom had no one on whom to release her frustrations.  Thankfully that meant she was going to lock herself in her bedroom for the rest of the night.  But it also meant that my brother and I were on our own for dinner, baths, and bedtime.  I think they would plan for these nights because the freezer was always packed with microwave dinners.  The morning after was always awkward.  I wanted to ask a million questions.  I wanted to ask why they always fought.  I wanted to ask why they left us on our own, why they thought I was responsible enough to care for myself and my brother, did they hate us, did they regret having us but mostly I wanted to ask when dad would be home.
            The last time he left he never came back.  He would pick us up every other weekend and we would spend two days in his dingy, humid apartment.  There was never anything in his fridge except beer.  Although there was a park about five blocks away.  I’m not sure if he ever noticed when we left.  I made sure to get us back before it got dark.  When it was time to drop us off at mom’s I always prayed that he wouldn’t come inside.  If he came in they would automatically fall right back into their roles of magician and bunny.  I became an expert at packing our stuff into one bag so that when dad would drop us off we could quickly jump out of the truck in hopes that he wouldn’t have a chance to walk us in.
            After about six months of being separated, mom introduced us to Larry.  I didn’t like Larry.  I knew he wasn’t a good person.  He always smelled like pee and he acted really funny.  When he was over, mom would make us go to bed extra early.  Sometimes, after I was sure he had left, I would get up to check on her.  She was usually asleep on the sofa in an uncomfortable looking position.  I would clean up the empty beer cans and pill bottles so that she wouldn’t be angry at the mess when she woke up.  A few times I found her with a rubber band tied around her arm.
            Dad didn’t know about Larry.  Mom never told us not to tell, I just knew better than to mention it.  Dad always grilled us about what mom was doing with herself now that they weren’t together.  My little brother never said a word.  I think he knew better too.  Not only would dad not like some other man being in mom’s life, he would want to know all the details – where they met, how often he was over, what they did together.  I just couldn’t bring myself to answer any of those questions out loud.
            As time went along, Larry came over more often and mom started sending us over to grandma’s house for the night.  I’m pretty sure grandma knew what was going on because I heard her give mom a few lectures about being a better parent to us.  Eventually she would leave us there for days.   And sometimes dad picked us up and dropped us off there instead of at home with mom. 
            Five years ago was the last time anyone would drop us off at grandma’s house only for the night.  When my brother and I woke up the next morning, what seemed like all of our relatives were gathered in grandma’s kitchen.  Everyone looked at us when we walked into the room but no one smiled or said a word.  Their expressions sucked the air from my lungs and made my heart beat louder.  As I stumbled my way to an empty chair, grandma shooed everyone out of the kitchen.  She sat down across from my brother and I and grabbed our hands.  I’m not sure of the exact words she said because my ears buzzed louder with each one.  But what I heard was this.
“The amazing magician gave her last performance.  She was entirely astounding and her final trick was astonishing!  Not only did she make the white bunny disappear, but she also made herself disappear as well!  Isn’t that just grand?”
And after a moment, it was indeed.  I looked over at my little brother.  He looked confused and pleadingly searched my eyes for some sort of explanation.  All I could do was simply smile happily and put my arm around him.  I was happy for him.  I was happy that he was so young.  He wouldn’t remember, he hadn’t suffered through their irresponsibility – in the loneliness of their actions, and he didn’t understand that everything had a finale.
No one ever talked about my parents and no one ever told me just how it all happened.  Instead, when I was 13, I overheard my uncle and his friends talking about it.  They were sitting out front on grandma’s porch drinking beer.  The front door was open and as I passed by, I heard my dad’s name.  I immediately froze in place.  I held my breath as I snuck closer to the door.
“William was a smart son of a bitch.  He just knew Stacy was fucking that guy.  He dropped them kids off at Stacy’s house and went in to use the toilet.  When he was in there he found some of that guy Larry’s stuff.  Well he went back to Stacy’s after she dropped the kids off here at ma’s cuz he knew Larry would be there.  And sure ‘nough.  That’s when he walked in, saw Stacy blowing Larry while dude was shooting up and William blew Larry’s brains out.”
“No way!”, his friend responded.  “Then what happened?”
“Then I guess Stacy had been shooting up too so she was just gone.  She got all freaked out and ran into the kitchen.  When William followed her she grabbed a knife and went psycho on his ass.  Cops said she stabbed him 14 times”, he said with amazement.  “Apparently she must have walked back into the living room and shot up a lot more because that’s where they found her, on the sofa dead from an overdose.”
“Dude, that’s pretty fucked up”, replied his friend.
I couldn’t feel my legs but I forced myself out on to the porch.  The boys stood up immediately in shock.  I glared at them.  I wanted to yell.  I wanted to say how unfair it was of my parents to be so selfish their entire lives.  How I was the only one who truly suffered throughout their binges and temper tantrums.  I was the one who had to play mommy to my brother, forced to mature way before my time.  And how could they just take the easy way out of all this mess?  Especially when they had made it themselves.  But I just stood there.  My body pulsed with anger so fiercely that I’m almost positive it squeezed out the only words I said.
“Pretty fucked up indeed.”