Tears of a Grounded Bird

I can still smell that classroom…

RemembeRED

For this week’s RemembeRED prompt, we’re asking you to remember kindergarten. If, after thinking about it for a while, you can’t recall anything, move on to first grade.

Mine your memories and write about the earliest grade you can recall. What was special? What was ordinary? What did you feel? Hear? See? Smell?

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Tears of a Grounded Bird

I was weightless.

The wind blew hair into my face as the plastic swing cradled me – precarious and safe all at once, it was the vehicle that could take me into the sky. Maybe even to the sun. I was sure if I let go, I’d fly away, soaring over the curly, yellow playground slide, over the cinderblock building, over the trees tall as giants.

The other children ran around me, but they were little more than background noise. I wasn’t like them – boring people. I didn’t belong on the ground. I was a bird.

And like a bird, I sang as I flew, with all the enthusiasm of a five-year-old who hadn’t yet let learned about inhibition or shame. At the top of my lungs, I sang out lyrics that told stories too old for my little lips.

They will bury me where you have wandered
Near the hills where the daffodils grow
When you’re gone from the Red River Valley
For I can’t live without you I know

In childhood’s happy ignorance, I sang only because I could. Because when I soared on my swing, I was free.

Until that day.

The teachers sat in a line on the wooden bench in front of the swings. There was the sweet first grade teacher, who rescued me from naptime each day, when I would leave my kindergarten class in the mildew-scented basement room to take advanced reading and math. Beside her, the assistants, and beside them… that’s where she sat.

My teacher, with her blonde hair pulled into a severe ponytail, had none of the sunshine that a kindergarten teacher should. She wielded her power with a little too much joy, denying unscheduled visits to the bathroom and making Tristan cry when she wouldn’t let him bring his stuffed dog outside. Because big boys don’t need stuffed animals, she told him.

I didn’t like her. Not since she told me I’d painted my leaves wrong in art. Of course they were all clumped together at the bottom of the page. They were in piles. Didn’t she know that’s what happened to leaves in the fall, after granddaddy raked them up? Didn’t somebody put the leaves into piles at her house? I knew I hadn’t painted them wrong.

No, I didn’t like her. Not one little bit. But at recess, I knew she wasn’t there for me. She and the other teachers were there for the bad kids. For the ones who tackled each other and got into fights. For scraped knees and bruises and that time that Jessica threw up. When I was swinging, she couldn’t touch me.

“Katie!”

Her voice, calling my name, stopped me mid-song. My name? I hadn’t done anything. I dragged my feet on the ground, kicking up a cloud of white-brown swingset sand, my untied shoes drawing lines in the dirt.

I looked at her, defiant and wary.

“Yes ma’am?” I asked, because daddy told me I always had to say yes ma’am to my teacher.

“Could you give it a rest?” She said.

I didn’t understand. A rest?

“What?”

“Could you stop singing?”

“Oh.” I looked down, hot tears already filling my eyes. “Yes ma’am.”

I left my swing there – my magical vehicle to the sky still swaying back and forth – and became one of the ground people. Running as hard as I could, I dove into the shaded gravel under the curvy yellow slide, where I could cry the tears of a grounded bird until the playground whistle blew.

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Circa 1995

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Thanks for reading! Concrit welcome and appreciated!

*Bobs (Formerly known as Katie. Before she got old enough to start using her first name.)

The Lure of Virtual Donuts

This was a hard one… then I went to Krispy Kreme for research. Six donuts later…

The Lure of Virtual Donuts

It was founded by The Troll and MacBraveheart – that much I know. The Brekkie Club existed long before I came into the picture, at the ripe old age of 13. I was just a kid then, attracted by the idea of all-day breakfast buffets laden with coffee and donuts. But how the Brekkie Club came to be, I’m not exactly sure. I simply wandered in one day and became a member. That was the way of it then.

We were a group of gamers and writers, who found a corner of the internet to call our own. Every morning, the post would go up:

Thread Title: Brekkie Time! Coffee and Donuts!

We came together to talk over a virtual breakfast spread – of games and stories, of fantasy and make-believe, and of the details that made up our “real” lives. As if who we were on our forum was any less real.

McB once said that we were all a little broken. That we had to be, to spend so much time in a world of our own creation. Maybe she was right. We were a mismatched group, like a pile of socks that had lost their partners in the wash. We were the ones left over.

A German-born woman, raised in India, Stefanie lived with her Scottish husband and designed tartan fabrics. Complications during the birth of her daughter left her with chronic pain.

Bob watched as his children moved away from him, one by one, leaving him alone with deteriorating health. Still, he got great joy every fall, when his daughter sent him tulip bulbs from the Netherlands.

Catherine battled cancer. Leonard anxiously awaited the birth of his second daughter by his soon-to-be-second ex-wife. Wanda was a pagan social worker. Michelle was afraid to leave her house.

Is it any wonder I ended up there? I was a thirteen-year-old homeschooler with obsessive-compulsive disorder and an overdeveloped geek gene.

If not broken, we were certainly different – straight off Rudolph’s Island of Misfit Toys. But that was reality; it wasn’t our world. In The Brekkie Club we transformed. Into Lady MacBraveheart and King Trollie; Lenrod, The Duke of Suave; BloodRunner, and Hortensis, and Trops, The Lady of Breakfast Charm. I was Lairdess Bobbi.

These were our true identities.

We gathered in MacApple Hall, where we had our adventures battling monsters and watching great romances unfold. On Shrove Tuesday, we brought our pet dragons to a virtual pancake party. We fought doughnut thieves and chose sides when MacBraveheart and King Trollie waged the war between the breakfasts. Haggis or donuts – the choice was ours. They were called The Donut Wars and they were epic.

So were we.

Eight years later, our lives have changed. Stefanie went back to college to study film. Catherine beat her cancer, and got a tattoo of a zipper over her surgery scar. Bob’s other daughter had a daughter, and now she is the joy of his life. Michelle left her house. I grew up. Through it all, we’ve remained friends, both online and off.

No one on the outside understood our games. To them, they were just words typed on a screen about dragons and donuts. The adventures we wove for ourselves seemed trivial, but they saved us, in a way. We connected to one another there. In the land of MacApple Hall, we found laughter and support in one another when we couldn’t find it in the “real world.” Loners, outcasts and oddballs, misfit toys, and partnerless socks – brought together by the internet – and the lure of virtual donuts.

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And just for your viewing pleasure – I did these back in 2004 and posted them to The Brekkie Club group. I decided our stories needed promotional artwork. When you’ve stopped laughing, remember that I was only 14 at the time.

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This week’s prompt was simple: write a piece, fiction or non-fiction, inspired by the delicious shot of the donut seen above. Word  limit is 600.

Concrit welcomed and appreciated!

 

 

 

 

 

Flashes of Blinding Technicolor

I didn’t initially start writing this piece for this prompt. But by the time I got halfway through, I realized that it was, in fact, about forgiveness.

Blogging for The Red Dress Club.

RemembeRED

This week’s prompt is about forgiveness. Forgiving others, forgiving yourself. Write about a time of forgiveness.

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Flashes of Blinding Technicolor

It starts again, when I least expect it, springing from a thought I didn’t ask for – from memories that I can’t keep away.

Slowly, one tear slides down my cheek and over my lips, leaving a trace of saltiness before it drips off my chin. Then another and another, until they come in cascades – wet, sticky, and uncontrollable.

The swell of pain in my chest expands like a balloon attached to helium. My heart. Soon it will pop. Soon… My lungs hurt. My blood aches. A heaviness extends through my fingertips — all of the hurt, the craving, the desire rising into my throat until it finally escapes and my body heaves sobs. I gasp for air, and hold myself, wishing away the memories that explode in flashes of blinding technicolor.

Our first kiss, outside in the cold. It sent shockwaves through my body, tingling my toes and making me high.

Protective arms around me on our first date. Feeling completely safe in the midst of chaos with my body against his.

Valentine’s Day. Him fanning the smoke out of my apartment as I stood paralyzed in the kitchen, staring at the catastrophe. He ate the steak.

The heat that flushed my cheeks as he announced publicly that I was his friend, his partner, and his girlfriend.

His words. Mine.

“You know,” I said, “I kind of like you. I think I’ll keep you. You okay with that?”

And in that moment, he looked at me and I saw something in his eyes change, as he walked to the bed and leaned over me. Close enough for me to feel his breath forming the words just before they left his lips.

“I love you.”

“I want to have children with you,” he said. My stomach did backflips as the yearning for motherhood enveloped me.

Him holding me up as my knees buckled. Gasping for air, telling him I couldn’t breathe, couldn’t walk, couldn’t keep living. Panic attack. The wild fear I felt as my body tried to turn itself inside out melting away as he helped me breathe again.

Me, in a hotel room in downtown Dallas, tracing his tears with my thumb. Wiping them away. Feeling the dampness of his face against my chest before I took it in my hands and said to him, “Listen to me. Believe this. You aren’t alone anymore.” Feeling helpless to take away the pain of his past and trying to hurt for him so that he wouldn’t have to.

After the fight, the letter I wrote to him. His hand on my shoulder as I sobbed, and hearing his words whispered in my ear. “I love you, Bobbi. That’s a constant.”

Standing on the edge of the Grand Canyon, surrounded by colors. He kissed me there and even with the wall between us, it still electrified me.

“Is this going to work?” He asked.

I looked away.

“I don’t know.” I answered. But in my mind, I heard a quiet “no,” echoing as if I’d said it aloud into the canyon.

The tears eventually stop, but the guilt of broken promises, whispered when I was sure he was the one, still sits heavy in my chest.

Only two words are left.

I’m sorry.

In the stretches of time between the tears, I survive. But sooner or later, the tears always come back. Sticky hot reminders that I haven’t yet forgiven myself for breaking his heart. For breaking my own. For choosing self-preservation over his love.

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Constructive criticism welcome. Thanks for reading!

*Bobs

Reasons Why…

This site is here…

  • Because I love to write.
  • Because not everything I write should be seen by everyone I know.
  • Because I don’t have an awesome web designer at my disposal who can integrate the different portions of my mind into one cohesive blog.

I picked Alice in Wonderland…

  • Because Lewis Carroll was a linguistic genius.
  • Because I love Alice in Wonderland.
  • Because I think there is a lot to learn from the stories Carroll wrote.

I write…

  • Because it helps me heal.
  • Because I’m better at writing than I am at speaking.
  • Because I’m a language geek, an aspiring linguist, and as far as I’m concerned, writing is play.

I play…

  • Because it helps me heal.
  • Because I don’t want to forget how.
  • Because it’s fun.

And really…

  • That’s enough.

*Bobs