Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Here and Now

Carrie was never very good at being ‘in the moment.’  In fact, she was nearly always stuck in another time, another conversation, another place.  She wished very much for one of the birds from Aldous Huxley’s novel that would constantly remind her to pay attention to the “here and now, here and now.”

The train whistle transported her.  Carrie had been watching the wild grasses switch in the stiff breeze and reliving the joyfulness of watching her young children play with the dog in the pasture.  The whistle took her back to a place and time she had never experienced, but that felt no less real. 

The heat of a still summer afternoon was oppressive and the household chores would have to wait.  Snapping green beans in the shade of the front porch and listening to Mood Indigo crackle over the radio from the parlor, Carrie heard the whistle as the train approached her backwater town.  The children always ran past her house on their way to meet it at the station – they imagined that one day someone famous might step off that train and they didn’t want to miss it.  The farrier down the street could be heard cursing the horse he was working on – the fool never got a horse to cooperate with him, he was such an unpleasant person the horses could smell his ill humor a mile away.

The cat jumped in Carrie’s lap and startled her out of the reverie.  The suddenness left her slightly disoriented, as if peering out of someone else’s eyeglasses.  What was it that made that particular daydream so real?  She was imagining a time long before she was even born, but it felt like it might have been last week.  Was it just because times are hard for so many these days, as it was then?  Was it that her grandmother’s stories had been so skillfully woven that she envisioned the era as her own memory, rather than someone else’s?  Or perhaps Carrie longed for a time in which (she believed) people had a better sense of community and camaraderie, and spent less time arguing politics and religion, and posting trollish comments on the internet.

It doesn’t matter.   What matters is that there is a cat in Carrie’s lap, and its head needs petting.  Here and now, here and now.

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Friday, February 17, 2012

An impotent justice

There is something therapeutic about the breaking of glass.  Not just the action of it, but the sound of it.  The tinkling of glass raining down on a tile floor sounds like a gentle, cleansing rain. 

The baseball entered the kitchen with barely enough speed to make it through the window.  Six year-olds can’t put enough chutzpah behind a baseball to make a statement.  Not that the intent isn’t there, it’s just that a six year-old’s anger makes promises their arm can’t keep.

Phillip had never wanted anything as much as he wanted to destroy the home his grandfather lived in.  Fortunately, he was too young to have discovered the inflammatory properties of gasoline.  At only six, he had already suffered three years of sexual abuse, without any sense of understanding about what was happening to him.  His nightmares centered around an old man with burning eyes that chased him through the hallways, always waking just before the bony hands clasped him while he crouched in a corner.  Had Phillip known, or rather understood, what his life had become after his parents were killed in the car accident three years ago, he would have become an avenging angel, set to slowly destroy the man responsible for his descent into Hell. 

Instead, his six year old mind could only conceive of heaving a baseball through a glass window, for which he was sure to be punished.  But for the moment, the sound of the glass slivers bouncing on the tile floor was cathartic, and all was right with the world.


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