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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…

birds and sparkles

There are explosions, deep booms that rattle the windows. The sounds are thumping around the apartment, as E is about to fall asleep. I go to the kitchen window then the balcony and see no fireworks. E is in her bare feet, looking up at me.
"What is it?" She asks.
"Maybe for men's day." I tell her.
"But there are no lights." She says. "I mean no sparkles, no fireworks."
 I look out the window again, hearing the car alarms and see nothing but a low fog over the river.
She goes back to bed and we talk in low voices as the windows rattle, as the booming rolls across the houses.
"Maybe it is a war." She says, her eyes closed.
My stomach bunches up.
"I don't think so." I tell her.
The windows are jumping around. I press the worst thoughts out, the idea that these are bombs, and how they could easily be the sounds of revolution but aren't. No, they cannot be.
I go to the balcony one more time, craning my head out of the open window. I take my phone and hold it way outside, clicking a picture. There are fireworks, far in the distance on Lenin's Hill.
I show E the picture and she smiles a little, patting my hand once and closing her eyes.
"Stay here until I fall asleep, ok?" She asks me.
Her hands drape across her chest like tiny birds.







Comments

liv said…
Celebration and revolution - so easily confused there.

Loved the last line.

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