Algae

Algae at Marston Lake: Photo by Noelle

It seeps and bubbles with oxygen and fermenting life from last season and rot… oh there is definitely rot. Dead leaves, sticks, bugs, old fish. It is a soup of color and life that smells earthy and pungent. I watch a water bug crawl across its surface. I cannot tell if it searches for food or is its food. Mosquitos swarm above me, but I tell them I’m busy. They’ll have to dine elsewhere. Most listen, anyway. I love ponds, streams and strange pools of water that life springs out of; moist, hot and teaming with all manner of crawling and swimming things. Sometimes they’re creepy and beautiful, other times decayed and rich.

I grew up on a lake in a neighborhood of mostly boys. I had five brothers. I caught toads and snatched up frogs with a stealth a stork would envy. Salamanders and crawfish were my favorite, but they’re tricky. Not easy to find in fresh water streams and under rocks. I never killed anything. I just liked to catch them and look at their beauty. Flying crickets, Daddy Long Legs, praying mantises, rolly pollies and aphids. Furry night moths, lightning bugs, and long earth worms. Tadpoles, sunnies and catfish. Pike, sometimes, snappers often and boxed turtles on occasion. Once a copperhead snake swam alongside me on the lake and scared me half to death. Their bite is most unpleasant. Smores by the campfire invited a troupe of ants to visit my sleeping bag one night. I have never screamed so loud in all my life.

I spent a lot of time alone as a child. I was often lonely, but never bored. My capacity for make-believe had me in trouble for daydreaming, over the course of my school years, more often than I can count. I enticed a chipmunk into my lap with nothing but my hands, once, and then spun a story of a monk village guarded by dragon and damselflies. I regaled my furry friend with my story, but it only slept. Little heartbeat beating like wild horses in its breast. I couldn’t understand why I never quite fit in anywhere and in my early years thought of my younger self always the odd man out. Or, in this case, odd girl out.

I stare into the percolating algae that festers with life and imagine the gnats and mosquitos are angels that follow me everywhere I go. I am the princess of a swamp and they are my guardians. What is there to do? Bugs and birds may swarm, but never princesses. They always seem to travel alone.

Rain House

Free Bing Photos

Free Bing Photos

The dark water, the sky splitting open. Lightening spiking the blood. Such drama to no witness, but myself. All such storms are spent alone anyway. Hugs are offered. Drinks at the pub, but in the end you are alone and the wind whips up your thoughts into gale forces. A fever’s pitch, knocking shuttered eyes that seems to accent the steady ticking of the wall clock in this silent house of darkness. A mourner’s tomb. A sarcophagus of dried up memories.

I’m as dead as the blind mole brought in by the cat, and yet rage percolates below the surface waiting on my sorrow to sleep. The numbness in between feels like an isolated island in a forgotten river. I hunger for my anger, but I am as a thirsty man who sees the oasis, but worries it’s a mirage, thus his legs will not carry him closer.

Is not fire the sign of life still pulsating in the very veins of my loss? The still standing tree left intact after the path of the tornado. The longing to climb into the grave is held back by the very racking sobs that make me want to climb in. The pulse beats to the tree limb banging the gutter. Death haunts the eaves, while life pumps the generator that flicks on the light in the empty kitchen. Dark windows streaked with rain that hide the streams of my face nicely. One cup, not two, but the coffee tastes the same. Oddly, that is what comforts. The familiarity that still lives, waiting on you, as if the dirge never played.

Wuthering Heights 1989: Flash Non-Fiction

Re-posted from Art For Ever's Facebook page

Re-posted from Art For Ever’s Facebook page

The receiver is held tight to my ear. I hear him breathing. He’s likely said all he’s going to say, but I haven’t been listening for some moments now. I hang up and stand in the bedroom. I hear the cars moving along Whitman Avenue and the refrigerator shakes it’s cubes into the tray. Mrs Knapps’s dog yaps at a passing bus. I stroke the bedspread as if a cat and become consumed with a bit of lint on the rust-colored, seventies style, shag carpet. I stare at it, as a lost eighteenth century mariner might gape at seeing the Rock of Gibraltar upon the horizon. Unfortunately for me, there is little salvation in the lint.

The crying starts unnoticed until I am in motion and wailing. The pacing is as comforting as a rocker. Back and forth, a lioness stuck in her cage. It goes on like this for sometime, until the sun has set and the furniture have become fat ghosts sharing my miserable company. Whoever I think I am is now gone. I wring my hands, gnash my teeth and Where the Wild Things Are comes alive in my living room. An entire life planned out, suddenly gone from under my feet. I drift in the apartment completely lost at sea and consumed by a sickening, emotional scurvy. My inner map has stretched as far as it’ll go. I am in uncharted waters and it’s depths are pulling at my skin leaving me nearly transparent in the bathroom mirror. A creepy jellyfish woman with mascara streaked cheeks.

A rage is brewing strong and at any moment I will brake the cell of this room and run wild into the street, I think. That’s when I hear the knock. Stopping to listen, the crying held back with Herculean effort it comes again. A small voice.

“You left your lights on”.

What? It makes no sense. A five year old’s shuttering sob racks my limbs. Who the fuck is interrupting my death wail?

“Miss, you left your car lights on”.

Air drifts out of my lungs on the simple reality. My car lights are on. My world is crashing, but in the end it’s a Tuesday night and you’ve got work in the morning. Wiping my nose on my sleeve, I grab the keys. A dead battery would be like insult to injury, and here you are in a curious moment. Opening the door to thank Mrs. Knapp as if for a basket of biscuits on Sunday and pretending you don’t look a horror show. She smiles, and I hope she’s blind and not offering me pity. Jogging down the apartment steps, heart torn out, but remarkably mobile. Spry even. The wind feels cool on my skin. She’s telling me about that time she had a dead battery and I’ve gone from crushed heroine to benign neighbor. Instead of Wuthering Heights your trying to keep her dog from humping your leg.

Sometimes life turns on a dime. No interruption and you spend an evening slipping into depression and misery. A bottle of wine spent, snot-filled tissues littering the floor, maybe a box of Oreos diminished to crumbs. Or get interrupted and lose that momentum to be completely self-absorbed. A lost chance to be fully lost. She wants to talk about why the rose beds aren’t being kept up. “It’s a tragedy,” she says. I realize I’ve got nothing to give the miserable rosebuds, but I suddenly find I’ve never been fonder of them. She pats my hand, but says nothing. Shit, she’s not blind.

The wailing has gone and I am left with ordinary “You’ve been betrayed and dumped” crying. Not nearly as dramatic as the wailing. And in that I feel the most bereft of all. Not even my grieving feels potent. That’s when the mind turns off and you go make your lunch for the next day and lay your clothes out. You put on a rerun of Seinfeld and pretend you’ve never seen this one. It’s odd how quickly being alone again sinks into the bones.

A work in progress from Writer’s Church, hosted by Marj Hahne. Inspired by “This is the Beginning of Time” by Sherrie Flick