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October 23, 2007

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dct

My desire to hear your voice was like a person’s desire for water after days, weeks, in the desert. You called when I was not in and left a message. The timbre of your voice resonated within me. I’d never heard your telephone voice. I imagine it’s very like your bedroom voice, which I’ve also never heard although I would like to hear it. Just as I would like to fulfill all the promises I saw in your eyes, once, and heard in the sound of your voice. But the suggested promises are belied by the words you left for me to hear which hold no hope.
I want to have more moments with you. Your voice still echoes in my ears and I feel it somewhere around my heart, in the pit of the stomach, in my knees, pulsing on my neck where the breath of a kiss not given lingers. I want to hear your voice whispering softly in my ear words you will never say as your hand caresses me, your arms embrace me, as softly, gently as the dream in which they occur. I want to feel the sweet pressure of your body next to me as your eyes find me in the dark and look within me and see what I feel. But you won’t, I won’t and we won’t and that’s as it should be.
Yet, could I but once hear your voice whispering words of love, I would count myself amongst the truly living. Just once, feel your embrace in a moment of love and passion, and I would watch the days of my life pass knowing I had loved and been loved; that happiness had been mine, once. But that would not make you happy. Indeed, I feel your despair upon my soul, heavy and black, and I am glad that heaven smiles upon you and keeps you from me.
I hunger for the sound of your voice, my love that wasn’t and will never be, and hear only the hollow echo of your silence.

Jennifer Carol

Yay!, I figured out how to post here. I think this is a great site. This is my first entry. So, here goes...

“Mom! Get her out of my room!” “But I need my headphones!” “You can’t go in my room without asking me first! Mom!” “Mom, I need my headphones and Taylor won’t give them to me!” I never thought I’d miss those words and I guess it’s not the words that I miss as much as the activity that goes along with it. Fighting is part of the dynamic way that siblings communicate and my girls communicate loudly. “That’s enough, both of you! Taylor, give Victoria her headphones. Victoria, you need to ask before going into her room!”

It’s been one month and three weeks since our household split became a permanent situation. Victoria chose to stay with her dad and I must admit I had a lot of trouble accepting her decision. After all, she should be so connected to her mother that she never wants to be separated from me. Unfortunately, that’s not the reality of our situation. Instead the conversation whet something like this…

(Victoria sobs uncontrollably.) “Victoria, honey, what’s wrong. Your dad said that you missed school today and when he came to check on you, you were crying. Is everything alright?”, I asked. Between sobs Victoria responds with, “I just didn’t want to hurt your feelings. I can’t tell you. Oh, mom, I just can’t tell you.” “It’s okay honey.” I said. “ I know that you love me and that I love you and no matter what you say you will still love me.” “I’ve been where you are and I won’t be offended if you decide to stay here instead of going back home with me.” “No, I cant’t talk about it.” She sobs. “You don’t want to go back with me to Orlando?” I ask. “Can you tell me why this upsets you so much?”

“I don’t know. I don’t want to hurt your feelings. I love you!” she cries. My Victoria is the sweetest and most compassionate person I know. She would give anything not to hurt someone’s feelings. “Victoria,” I say. “Please don’t worry about hurting my feelings. I need to know how you feel in order to do what’s best for you.” “ I hated Glenridge,” she said. This was news to me, especially since she spent so much time trying to make me feel guilty for leaving her old school and friends. “My friends turned against me and they were talking about me. They were so mean.”she said. “My friend Kristen said that I stole money from her when I went over to her house but I didn’t. None of my friends believed me and they all started talking about me behind my back. I don’t want to go back there, Mom.”she cried. Wow. This one came out of nowhere.

What am I supposed to do with this. I can’t live my life without her there everyday. Victoria’s the one who listens to me. She’s well behaved and a good student. I spent my life protecting her and going to every ball game and band concert. Why wouldn’t she come to me for protection? Why can’t she need me the way I need her? I’ve lived a life of chaos for 13 years. Ever since I had my second child it seemed to be a little more than I could handle gracefully but I live for that chaos. I love having that sibling rivalry in my house and I love teaching them how to work around it and coexist somewhat peacefully. Dammit! What am I supposed to do now?

Jessica (aka. Rose)

She leaned over the balcony and looked down the street. No line at the Boulangerie. Score. She jumped back into the tiny studio apartment and found her shoes under the bed. She slipped them on as she hopped towards the door. She could almost taste the buttery flakes melting in her mouth.

She slammed the door behind her and looked down the elevator shaft. Urg. All the way at the bottom. Fine; stairs it is. Maybe running down eight flights of steep stairs would help her work off what she was about to devour.

The heavy wooden front door of the building clanged shut behind her. The sky was bright blue and the sun high up above her, but the air had that crisp cold smell that tells you that fall has officially started. Soon she’d have to find her winter coat and some more sensible shoes. But right now, none of that mattered. It was warm and sunny and nothing stood in between her and the warm flaky pastries waiting for her down the street.

Her footfalls echoed as she walked past the brightly lit store fronts. A chef leaning out his kitchen window, catching a quick cigarette break before starting dinner prep.

“Bonjour!” she called as she passed him, waving from the other side of the street.
“Bonne journee!” He replied with a smile.

The Laundromat was mostly empty, just one person sitting in a corner reading while his laundry dried. Seeing him there reminded her that they had to come wash their clothes tomorrow or they would both be out of socks. But not today, it was just too nice an afternoon to spend it inside that dark musty place.

And finally she was in front of the little white boulangerie. A quick glance inside showed the baker’s wife putting fresh croissants into the display window. Perfect timing! Nothing, absolutely nothing in the world tastes as good as a croissant fresh from the oven. The hot pastry is so soft that it can barely hold its shape and the heat makes it hard to hold in your hand. You find yourself taking bigger and bigger bites so that you don’t burn yourself, but at the same time you want to savor the experience; the warm butter between each flaky layer, the crunchy crusty top, the soft, almost chewy middle…. Perfection in a croissant.

She stands behind a tall school girl and tries to hide her impatience as the girl takes her time choosing her afternoon snack. The baker’s wife finally hands the girl her croissant and demi-baguette and they both watch in horror as she shoves both unceremoniously into her oversized school bag. They glance at each other as the girl turns to go, pastry lovers united in shock over the desecration. That poor girl doesn’t know what she just did.

She orders her own croissant and takes it outside holding it loosely by the corner of its thin paper wrapper. The smell accompanies her as she searches for the right spot to enjoy her snack. She finds an empty park bench and sits down. She unwraps her warm pastry and gazes at it for a moment before taking a first bite…

Her alarm clock chirps, pulling her off the warm sunny bench. Instantly the croissant is nothing but a hazy memory, a flashback to a different time in her life. She sighs and stretches. Nothing she makes herself for breakfast could match what she just dreams and she wishes that once, just once, she could take that first bite before her alarms sounds. Just one bite; that’s all she wants.

MJ

I miss my brain - the one that used to work. The one that gave me the "smart girl" reputation that I would have exchanged for "pretty girl" in a New York minute for the better part of my youth. I miss feeling smart and being perceived as such by the supporting cast in my life. I cringe as I write my student loan check out each month...so much hard work, so much time. Where I once knew objectively that I was intelligent based on grades or work performance there is now the often excruciating uncertainty of motherhood. As questions of "am I doing this right" swirl frantically in my head, I see that the small people I spend the day with value me more for the number of Laurie Berkner song lyrics I can sing verbatim or for remembering my daughter's purple tote bag before we leave to catch the bus. I like to think that my husband remembers that I was smart when he met me, but wonder if he forgets when he sees me through the domestic haze. I know that if I am to resurrect this part of myself I have to make the time; so difficult when there are birthday cakes to be baked and diaper rashes to tend to. I must continue to write if I am to find my voice, my brain, once again. I know that it's in there somewhere, and I hope that it is looking forward to seeing me again.

Milaka

Okay, I'm taking the plunge! Here's my first posting! Thank you so much for this opportunity!

There’s a line that Janis sings in Me and Bobby McGee – “I’d trade all of my tomorrows for one single yesterday.” I never really understood that line until my grandfather sold his lake cabin. A part of me died when the money changed hands. Sometimes I want to go back there so badly that I ache. I feel a tightening behind my eyes. My chest feels empty. The Cabin was where I was most myself. It was also a safe place full of family, love, wildflower bouquets, fishing for perch, comfort food, innocence and discovery.

I remember the feeling of anticipation every Friday afternoon when we’d pile in the car for the two hour drive. We ticked off landmarks like a stopwatch – there’s the lone oil-pumper, we’re only an hour away! We’ve gotten to the Caprock, thirty more minutes! I see the Lake! I see the Lake!

We’d pull up in the dirt driveway and barely wait for Dad to stop the car. The smell of mesquite and hot, red dirt hit us as we ran into the Cabin. Bigmama and Bigdaddy were already there settling in. Quick hugs and then into the swimsuits and down to the dock for the first dip of the weekend. Our lake friends joined us within minutes and we were playing “King of the Dock” or “Marco Polo”. Slowly the other cousins and aunts and uncles arrived and joined us in the water. The sounds of laughter and redwing blackbirds rang through the cattails. Some time later the dinner bell rang and we all filed back up to the Cabin for re-heated Kentucky Fried Chicken.

The weekends were always predictable, but never the same. We’d swim, fish, go walking, explore where we weren’t supposed to, play tag and hide-and-seek, water ski and sunbathe. But we never knew what new twist the weekend would give us. There was the weekend when my brother put minnows in my water ski boot. There was the weekend when Dad wound up in the ER with a fish fin through his knuckle. There was the time that Pam-dog took the head off a rattlesnake. And there were endless July 4th holidays with fire crackers, sparklers and Roman candles.

The nights were the best, though. That’s when the whole family would gather on the screened-in porch and talk and listen. Bigdaddy would tell stories about when he was a cowboy, an Indian, and a gladiator. (It was years before I realized that every story was made up.) Dad and his cousins would tell of fishing trips and ski stunts from their youth. We’d listen to the bullfrogs and Bigdaddy would answer whenever they called. Sometimes Bigdaddy took the kids outside to look at the stars. I’ve never seen such a brilliant display of stars. Slowly the moms would gather the kids and start putting them to bed. Then the men would get out their dominoes. The best sleep in the world starts by drifting off to the sounds of soft conversation and clicking dominoes.

I’d trade all of my tomorrows for one single yesterday. Yeah, I get it now.

Emily

Miss is such a lame word for such a huge feeling. I miss my sister. I miss her so much, even after nearly 9 years, that whenever I smell rose oil I look around for her. I still catch myself dialing her phone number to talk to her about my daughter, my day, the trials of being a mother, wife, friend, daughter and employee. I especially miss her during this season of the year. Fall. When the trees turn and people start burning in their fireplaces and my house smells like quince pie and home made bread. This was her season. She'd break out her cool hippie sweaters and scarves and wrap up like a burrito or a flower bulb preparing for the winter to come. She'd love a day like today - sunny and cool with the colors of the fall leaves all around her.

I miss her laugh. The way she used to tell a story with her whole body - not just her face. I miss smoking with her. I miss hugging her and having to move her vast quantities of hair out of my face. I miss the quilt she made me the Christmas before she died that isn't on the bed anymore because I quite literally loved it to pieces.

I wish my daughter still had her aunt. I wish my parents weren't forever changed by the death of their eldest child. My mother is so scared and protective now. I miss the way she used to be - a little less worried and a little more fun to be around. I wish I didn't have nightmares of my sister lying in that hospital bed, hooked up to machines. Breathing with help, still warm, but not there at all.

I miss you, Janie. I miss you so much.

Michelle

I miss my dad. I miss his laugh and his smile. I miss the way he would cheat when we played cards, knowing we would catch him... He would smile, grin, and look up at the ceiling with his best "Who me?" My boys miss my dad. Barely a day goes by without one of them remembering something. I asked my oldest son (11) to get the sweeper out of the closet today. He asked me if I remembered how Papaw used to give him five dollars to run the sweeper, "and his house was never even dirty!" I asked my son how he felt when he remembered Papaw... Did he feel warm inside? He said he felt sad, but warm. I wish I felt warm. I just feel sad and mad and rejected and not good enough and remorseful and confused and... It's been over a year since that 4 a.m. phone call that forever changed who I am. "Your dad just shot himself."

Gwendolen Gross

OH MY. Either you're all getting very warmed up, or this topic is a rich one for you. Or both. Amazing stuff this week! (not that other weeks weren't amazing).

dct: There's something real (and truthful) in here, something good to explore--I'm ready for a meeting scene and more of the one-sided love story. It yells out, WRITE ME!

wonderwoman: Yay indeed! This is complicated, rich, fascinating stuff--the question you as at the end is a big (as in novelistic) one. Great job showin the power of parenting and relative powerlessness of the situation--so glad you've joined us!

Jessica/Rose great active opening. I'm right in, right away. Taste! Mmm! I'm hungry! O, glory, such desire for food! Exquisite sensory writing, sense of place, the details--tantalus!
Must be honest, don't take it personally: you could write this just as well (better?) without encapsulating it in a dream. It seems like there's much to draw on here, more about the place than just not having the croissant (man, and I just had my toast, but now I'm hungry again) and dreaming about it. Maybe something written out chronologically--it's strong enough!
MJ--Yup, and yup. This is the entry we all can relate to, I think, Laurie Berkner and all. But here you are, giving it (fiction or non, we're assuming fiction) a frame. Here's to (your character) getting back some sense of self as she writes. She has a lot to say!

Second half of comments to come..

GG

Gwendolen Gross

Welcome, Milaka!! Fine physical description of missing (check feels empty, tightening behind eyes). Great list, too! Smells of mequite and hot red dirt--great stuff. You've got a whole book worth of stories in here!
I like the frame of the Janis song, too. I'm so happy you've joined up!
And kinkajous in common--that's something. I did my live animal/physical science demonstrations at the Boston Museum of Science. I've never met anyone else (with the exception of the staff there) who's done just that. We must be sisters, in a way...

Emily--what a whammy of a first sentence. And TRUE. Making people tear up so quickly is powerful stuff. Even though we assume fiction, I want to reach out and comfort the narrator (good example of how first-person can do that). This is clearly a rich and truthful place for you to write. Wonderful.

Oh my, Michelle. All of you--I think I needed more than coffee before I read these (and for full disclosure, I must say that some of these posts I read during the ice/stim part of physical therapy, where I'm sitting still. It's a perfect time to read and take notes, but when I gasp from the writing, the PT asks if I've turned up the electrostim too high!)
You've hit the marrow, the real stuff--you're in, and now you can keep going...

AMAZING STUFF, FOLKS!
GG

JB/Go-Go Mommy

Here goes, my first try:

Warm brown eyes, velvety and welcoming follow me as I walk in the door. Only two steps up the white and gray flecked linolium floor while the silver screen door creeks behind me as it works to close and a finally finishes with a metallic "clang" as it clicks into place. And here I am - instantly transported to my safe place.

My nose is immediately assailed with the pungent odor of "oldness". The stale smell of a musty home inhabited by an old bent lady who frequently wipes all surfaces with harsh anticeptics to keep up with her intense desire to be the shining example that "cleanliness is next to godliness." And at the same time desparately trying to mask the fact that bodily functions are no longer as controlable as they once were.

As I bound up the two simple stairs I land in the kitchen - the soul of her home; her soul so warm and enveloping. She knows I don't drink coffee but she is already on her second pot so I watch her as she expertly opens the top of the shiny, stainless steel, 4-cup percolator, adds water and drops in her scoop of Maxwell House. I inhale deeply through my nose to get my "coffee high" and bask in the rich aroma of an open can of coffee grounds.

Her hands are so knotted that the joints of her knuckles are like varying sizes of superballs that refuse to completely bend or release her once long, straight fingers. My eyes are glued to her disfigured hands with their papery-thin skin and I watch in awe as she swiftly places the top back on the percolator, adjusts so it's straight and then finishes with a big "BANG" where she moves with a lightening-fast motion as she raises and then lets the heel of her right hand fall on the lid, securely closing it.

She plugs it in and turns to me. Even though I am of less than average height for a 16 year old girl, I have to bend down to embrace her. She smells of medicine, soap, and freshly shampooed hair with the essence of Head and Shoulders. I begin to give a quick squeeze to show my enthusiasm but quickly feel frail bones poking at me despite her layers of cotten shirts and cardigan sweater, so instead I give a quick rub and let go.

We sit down at the table that has been there at least as long, and from the style most-likely longer, than I remember. It's perfectly square with a scratched yet impecably clean, bleached linolium-like surface that would blend into the floor except it has a decorative basket of flowers permanently imbedded in the middle with steel legs that jut out from each corner and four matching vinyl chairs.

Gabrielle

I wrote a note to say hello
That I miss hearing your voice
Across the line.

I wrote a note to let you know
That I need you, but
Heard you’re doing fine.

I wrote a note to wish you well
That I’m happy for you
But I knew I would be lying.

I wrote a note to say goodbye
I’d send it too
If I could just stop crying.

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