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Not me, her

In 1987, I found myself trying to write about a high school girlfriend that had been molested by her father when she was a child. I was 19 years old, struggling to find my way through a screenwriting assignment about delivering character. The idea was to describe messy young love between two Sid and Nancy want-to-be's. But that failed, as I could not stomach oversimplifying her complicated past, events that shaped her life as a 16 year old with a mohawk, a smart mouth, a lingering stare. I understood that I had to start at the very beginning.

No one wanted to hear the story. When it was my turn to read in class, it even came to be that some of the other students asked to stand in the hallway before they heard another description of what happened in that lonely little house in the middle of nowhere. I was trying, and failing, and trying again to get things right, to explain how this happened, how it could happen to this girl, how this man found his way to acts of selfishness and d…

the piano's dream

The two butterflies came back for three more days, flitting through the balcony and circling around the bedroom just after lunch. On the fifth day, only one came and then not at all. Every afternoon after this, I would stand looking out at the busy street, the green water of the river, the stray dogs sleeping in the grass. No black orange wings. No sudden surprises. Just the city churning out smoke, the clouds hanging low, and a strange wind.

There is an odd luck that surfaces sometimes, when life bursts into the unexpected. The methodical waltz is suddenly a dizzy sock hop. Routine is replaced by interruption. The air electrified and we are no longer hungry or tired or thirsty. We are a private version of Richard Dreyfuss in Close Encounters, building mountains from mashed potatoes. The possibilities fan out in countless directions, and we grow drunk on them. And then, it all slides back. The snail in his shell. The socks in the drawers. The dishes are washed. Children are tucked into bed. Someone realizes we need toilet paper. The rent is due in a week. The waking sleep returns.

Being surrounded by waste, and what seems pointless is overwhelming. I pass a school for the deaf. The lawn is cut, even in the middle of summer. Maybe the deaf never stop learning here. On the side of the building, a series of pianos sweat under sheets of plastic. They are all broken, sagging into the soft earth, keys dangling, lids ripped off, stinking of mold and rotting wood. I have passed them hundreds of times since I noticed them last winter. Why are they still here ? Who broke all of them? What will happen to them? Will they just be gone one day when I expect to see them?

I am often accused of fixating on the worst here, of magnifying the bleak and ignoring the beauty. I want to defend myself, but my stomach slips into my throat and like it does in many dreams, my voice shrinks to the size of a pinhole.



Comments

My God! What an absolutely mesmerizing piece, M. Beautiful.
liv said…
You focus on what IS, what really IS and that reveals it's beauty.

I am drawn back here again and again because of your authenticity, an overused word, yes, but still applicable. You remain you, you don't try to groom yourself to fit or blend and the result is you are able to write a post like this about the bleaker and darker view and make it radiant.

What currently passes for individualism is often nothing more than chic conformity. It may feel sometimes like you're swimming upstream, Marco, but it works!

Like Brenda said - it was mesmerizing and beautiful. Thank you.
Omgrrrl said…
Even broken pianos have the potential of song.
city said…
thanks for sharing.

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