I watch the landscape fly before me as the sun dips down below lighting its way. The hills rise and fall as my train remain the same, steadfast. Trees by the tracks fly by in a blur creating a moving picture of the background behind it, like an old film movie that crackles in its yellow hue. Hay bails line the yellow fields like pulleys from a worn wool blanket dotting the ground. I hear just the humming of the train, a rhythmic whoosh, and the subtle scratching on the rail keeping cadence. Perhaps a rattle breaks now and then breaks the mostly silent routine. The others don’t speak a word until we reach a station.
I watch as the houses pass by too. Little towns with houses that all look the same from a distance but yet, Continue reading “On the Train”
My back was facing her. She didn’t deserve to see my face and the effect her news had on it. The helpless look of defeat. The smile shattered and the fallen cheeks. Her pointed words were carved between my shoulder blades and left a jagged scar that would take all too long to heal. Never before had I understood the phrase “stabbed in the back” like I did now.
The wind lapped the side of the house and the shutters rattled in response. A long whistle followed as the wind pleaded with the shutters, with the house, for a way in. Anything to escape the harsh world. But the house would not help. It was only an illusion of safety like childhood. A little boy had just drowned. A young girl was abducted and raped. But the wind still persisted and blew across the earth in search of a brighter horizon.
Home (noun)- the place where one lives permanently, especially as a member of a family or household.
Where is Home?
They say “Home is where the heart is.” Growing up, the concept of home never required a second thought. I lived in the same house all of my life. It was 18 years of stability in a quaint, small town in Pennsylvania. As someone who has done her fair share of traveling since then, home has become a fickle thing. In my life so far, home has been Pennsylvania; Tampa, Florida; Florence, Italy; and Melbourne, Australia.
College & “Home”
When college came around, it all changed. I was leaving for USF, and my concept of home was about to get a whole lot blurrier. Although I spent 75% of my time at school, Pennsylvania was still a lingering presence in my life, at least at first. As time passed and my visits became more sparse, Pennsylvania still qualified as “home” but lost all of its emotional fervor. Tampa was becoming my new home, but there was a catch. Continue reading “What is Home?”
It happened about a month ago. A day when the hot sun was beating down on the macadam, and you could see the heat rising from the surface. I didn’t think much of it at the time, but now I knew better. Now I knew how much one day could change everything. How one moment could crack your life wide open like an egg. The contents spilling out as you struggled to put the pieces back together. Secretly you knew it was useless. You knew it would never be the same, but still you had to try. It was the day I found out I was 18 and pregnant. Another teenage pregnancy statistic.
It wasn’t supposed to be this way. I had finally left home and gotten away from the wasteland that is Pennington, South Carolina. I had moved to Florida for college, but of course I was just trying to get out of that dreadful town.
One frat party gone wrong and now here I was. I don’t even remember that night, Continue reading “Another Statistic”
Her personality colorful like autumn
leaves. Her hug had the warmth of
a family Christmas morning. Her laugh left
you dizzy like spinning, before tumbling
into the grass. Days with her you were a bike
no longer needing training wheels zooming cautiously
but triumphantly. Her smile shined like a full moon
on a clear summer night. The news hit
like gasping for air after falling from a barren tree
onto packed snow. Her suffering like the first Christmas
Santa was a lie and the
magical merriment dissipated. The last days
like standing too quickly, eyes
struggling to fight the black haze. She withered away
like blistered hands slipping from monkey bars before
hitting unforgiving ground. Her absence left me locked
in a dark room, fumbling for a light
switch that cannot be found.
I have a photo of a man I don’t know. Something about his short dark hair and perfectly messy stubbly mesmerized me. He was tall and thin. Fit but not too built. And he wore a simple gray v-neck with well-trimmed jeans to match. There was a glint in his eye and a small smile to go along with it. Something about his expression just said, “I am a successful business man with a wife, two kids, and a golden retriever.”
I had studied that picture numerous times. Although someone else may only give him a passing glance, I found something new about him each time I revisited that frame. It was like peeling away a new layer and getting closer and closer to the truth.
I had first seen that charming smile about a year ago. It was Christmas morning and the Overhill Orphanage and Ms. May passed out small presents that community members had donated to all of us. Nothing special to a regular kid, but nice enough for us. One year I was even lucky enough to get a small stuffed bear. Last year there were lots of toys for the babies, but nothing really for us older kids. We got the scraps, as usual.
And then I saw it. One of the other kids simply tossed the frame to the side but it reflected light from the window and I felt drawn to it. I flipped it over and saw this perfectly charming, nice man. It felt silly, but I wanted it. I’ve had it in-between my mattress layers ever since.
I’d like to think this is what my father looks like. That he just never knew about me, but the day he does, he will come running to find me. He will take me far away from this place, and I will never have to come back. I will have a little brother and sister, but we won’t even have to fight over things because there will always be plenty.
It’s childish I know. But at least I can pretend to have a family.
Perhaps it was a blind date or just an eventual connection growing from a mutual friend. I remember going to a farm when I was younger, about seven or eight. It was a family that owned it, a couple with their three boys. The couple was about my parents’ age, but the boys were older than me. The middle one was the same age as my oldest sister. They had cows, chickens, ducks, and a new litter of puppies that even temporarily escaped while we were there. I wore the overalls my mom picked out and let my knees get all muddy. I ran outside and played; it didn’t matter how dirty I got. There was a small pond I believe and the grass was so green. The boys used to nicely tease me and call me names. It was all in good fun since I was so “young and cute.” Mostly importantly, I remember it being a happy place.
We haven’t gone back since my parents’ divorce. I recall one time my mother telling me about how my dad and her met. “Judy and Doug from the farm” were mentioned although the details aren’t clear. I guess they don’t have to be. It really doesn’t matter anymore.
I remember the first time I saw him hit my mother. I was six. It was late at night and I had snuck down the wooden steps for comfort from a bad dream that had involved the snake from The Jungle Book. I could hear him yelling. I knew he had a bad temper; I just never paid much attention to it. Perhaps I should have turned around, but something told me not to. Maybe it was curiosity or maybe I was just being naive.
I tiptoed down the long hallway; the soft flower rug running beneath my toes. I don’t remember what my father was yelling about. Maybe it was about the house. Maybe he was in a bad mood from work. Maybe it was even about me. But as I peered around the corner into our retro style kitchen, nothing in my six-year-old heart could justify what I saw next and nothing ever would. I froze like a coward. I should have done something. Anything really. Maybe just seeing his broken-hearted son would have been enough to make it stop.
The next day I saw the first of many black and blue marks on my mother. She brushed it off as having fallen. But I knew. I always knew.
John hailed for a cab frantically as Mary shouted disorganized insults. She was bitter from what John had mentioned just moments before. He felt bad for the cab driver. He was clearly annoyed when the door flung open, and above the bustling noise that was Times Square, a woman’s angry cries were most audible.
John held the door open for Mary. Her yelling was now accompanied by her wagging finger as she slid into the cab. Slamming the door was enough to keep John biting his lip for most of the cab ride to the hotel. As if the traffic wasn’t bad enough, the continuous stream of insults that came pouring out of his wife’s mouth made the twenty minute cab ride feel even longer.
Once they got back to the hotel, Mary’s bickering still didn’t stop until the wine from dinner caught up with her and she was still on the bed. Calmer now, John crawled into the tiny bed alongside his now sleeping wife.
Turns out everyone was right. Getting married after just 3 months didn’t end in a lifetime of bliss he had be hoping for.