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a peaceful protest

I was 16, and the thought of being forced to mention God as part of the pledge of allegiance was too hypocritical an act for me to play along with. Each day of high school began with this mundane recitation, as most people just stood with their hand jutting from a hip, the other dangling across their chest as they counted out the seconds until they could sit back down. They leaned against desks, and talked through it about what party and where it would be, if there would be a keg or a bonfire in the woods. I recited the words, omitting the "under God" part as a sort of half-baked protest. I was raised to flaunt my family's ramshackle atheism, as a choice of smug pride. We knew better, was the prevailing logic.

But one day, I could not stand and say any of it. It felt so rote, so hollow, so devoid of choice. There was no law that said I was required to say it. I knew this was my right, a form of free speech. My homeroom teacher was a legendary drinker, a trash-talking re…

the arc of avoidance / grasshoppers (the good dream)

She has questions about her mother. She sees the bedroom door closed, the depression, the woman behind it obsessed with money and the skin on her face and nothing else. 

She wants to know why this woman lies to her about almost everything. She wants to know why the refrigerator is near-empty in that house. She tells me about the memories she has of the three of us living together, and a specific fight one summer day. E remembers holding my neck and hanging off of me as that woman was screaming and how I took her outside and we had a long walk down by the river until the sun went down. E knows I told her some important things that day, but remembers none of them, just the look on my face, and the hoarse, embarrassed whisper of my voice after the argument.


The hot water has returned and we breathe relief. It is the time for putting things behind us. I make sure she takes a good long bath. She has a black ring around her neck even after the skin on her fingers has pruned up. I put the red plastic bucket behind the sink.  The arc of avoidance swings hard today.  This is the cleansing breath.

She wanders through the house on tiptoes, the towel wrapped tight around her.

The next morning she tells me she had a good dream.
"What was in it?" I ask.
"Well, it was you and me and we were in a house." She says.
"This house?" I ask.
"No, a house we never went to." She replies. "And there was a swing from the roof and I was on the swing and you were pushing me."
I nod and sip some coffee.
"And there were some grasshoppers in the street, and they were all walking in a line." She says, smiling. "They were all carrying a piece of corn."
"Really!" I say.
She nods.
"They were smiling." She says. "All of them."

Comments

liv said…
Exquisite photo!

She is so worth - everything.
Incognita said…
She has such a magical aura.

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