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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 broken egg


See a picture of a crying infant in rags, with tears on their tiny red face and try to feel nothing. Describe the weapons used, report what kind of gas it was breathing. Condemnations come quickly, without hesitation. Could this be a picture from a few years ago? There is no way of knowing. Could this child have died somewhere else? There is no answer to that question. There is just the news, and faith in a system. I find it maddening, to be caught questioning anything in such moments but the answers are not easy ones. We have all been fooled, over and again. I say none of this to suggest there was no attack. I say all of this because I do not trust much of anything these days. If there is a cracked egg in the box, it feels about he same as reading the news. Something is always broken, hidden, then found much later, far after the emotions have welled up, far after nights spent going to sleep imagining the horror, the sound of people dying, the smell of poison, the sense of things slipping  away into a black nothing. That dream is inescapable.

An explosion, another truck driving into crowds of people, another explosion, another city, another city, and one more city. Trains carrying bombs, men carrying bombs. The wheel turns and turns around the same center, the same unflinching eye. Maybe I am just wishing for once it is a lie, a careful fabrication. And then I understand that a lie like this is worse than the truth.

I know that E got a bad grade last week in math, and we are working to fix it. I know that the outdoor market has returned, and a lady there with missing teeth will bring some spinach for us next week. I know that the neighbors are still renovating, the buzz and rumble of drills does not cease. I know there are little green dots at the ends of branches and that the birds are flipping around a gray sky as they sing.

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