Nothing special ever happened. There was never a specific event or family trauma that occurred to me when I was younger. Nothing that affected me in any unique way to shape the way I am. I can’t say that my father died rescuing fellow soldiers in the Vietnam War or that my mother drank her weight in red wine and, on occasion, found herself in the thralls of a neighborhood man or that my siblings boasted a variety of narcotics that they took and shared and made me ingest against my will. My family was quiet, a proper household. My mother served the church. My father paid the bills. My grandparents lived normal, God loving lives, surviving the Great Depression, President Nixon, and the hippie movement. They served their country, obeyed the law, and loved their children. Nothing special ever happened.
Two people sit at a bench in the park. It’s half past ten in the morning. winter time. The sun just finished shaking off the sleep. It’s brisk, chilly, but comfortable. The two talk about this and that. a family of ducks play on the shore of the lake.
"So, God, has it really been that long?" The man asks of the woman, trying to find his memories.
"Yeah, three years. Three and a half if you count the months I spent in Glasgow," she replies in a warm tone.
"Well, I don’t, but I suppose it does help put things in perspective."
They share a quiet moment as the ducks begin crossing the pond.
"I should get going," the woman begins, "I really can’t be away from the office too long."
"Oh, um, yeah okay. Well…so will I see you around?" He asks.
"Sure. I’m always around."
this is you in your winter overcoat, huddled in a bus station corner under the bright lights and muffled sounds of passing travelers. the soft strands of your blond hair cover your eyes as you try to remain hidden in the little world of you. no one knows you, but all that are see you. there is no fear in your face, no worry in your brow. you are exactly where you want to be.
this is your polaroid camera, underused and rarely moved, sitting on a chair by the foot of your bed. its pictures are warm and filled with everyone. they collect in a drawer, on a pinboard near a lamp, across your desk and in a secret place under the mattress. they keep well enough and you dream of them when asleep.
this is a document not being written. its letters are fake and more like a cliche, massaged and poorly fashioned for the benefit of us. this is a love letter to those who will never know. this is fleeting thought, bereft of anything original or pure, stymied by the dreary hands that create it.
in the old days, on the hot days, on the days like today, we would go down to the river by springfield road, down next to the river bank just beyond jacob’s house, just the three of us: me, jacob, and sam. the heat back then, to the three of us, was unbearable. we’d imagine being in a volcano, or a desert, or hell itself, and we’d pretend to be battling the sun as if it were some kind of cosmic enemy. we’d splash and play in the water like it was some kind of mystical thing that could heal all the things that were wrong with our lives. jacob would pretend he was purified in the cooling stream, that his family thought he were something special, something worth keeping, and the three of them - jacob and his parents - lived happily ever after. me and sam, we imagined that the water took us to another world, a world where the two of us never had to be apart. we’d secretly be together. she would sneak out every day and i would be there at the end of the street waiting. the two of us would keep this to ourselves until our parents would find out. they would be angry and confused and we would plead our cases and say, let us be friends. they would agree, after a spell, and we would all be together for the rest of time. the river would give us this, a release from what we had, a few moments of fantasy where the three of us spent our days. we were all together and happy on the hot days, on the days like today. and we never wanted to leave.
Fran was good with plans. Plans and plans. Notes made with fountain pens, pop-up reminders of moons and Fests and woodland adventures. Plans, they scared me. Mostly, I think, because I was afraid of breaking them, forgetting them, forgetting and letting people down. I wasn’t keen on making them. Ever. But she liked plans, thrived on them and, after a spell, so did I. I could count on her to keep our aim straight away. It was nice, refreshing. But it was intimidating, too. She had her shit together. She had plans. What did I have?
“Camping on Friday, yeah?”
“You get the wood, beer, ice. I’ve got the rest.”
We spent a weekend hopping around breweries in the southern parts, drinking up the sun. It was early on in our time and I remember thinking how crazy it all was, how smooth and wonderful and simply easy such a new thing could be. It was scary. It wasn’t planned.
And so now it’s months later and I’m wondering if I should have made those plans just as well. Plans for hotels and plans for Golden Gate. Maybe I wouldn’t be doing those things alone. Maybe I should have planned for the longer things, not been afraid. I don’t know. I should have. I wanted to. I was never good with plans. Fran was. I miss her plans. Plans and plans and plans.
Alli, a sculptor, small and smart, who is my younger sister, loved a man from Halifax once.
I thought to myself, What kind of fucked up sentence is that? No one writes like that. No one. I could have just as easily wrote,
Alli, my younger sister, is a sculptor. She is small and smart and once loved a man from Halifax.
See how much better that reads? How much better it sounds? It rolls of the tongue as they say. The first sentence is short and strong and states the point of it all. The subject. Alli. She is my sister, my younger sister obviously, and she is a sculptor. A fantastic sculptor. She had made me this amazing miniature statue for my 25th birthday. But you know what, we’ll come back to that.
She is small and smart and once loved a man from Halifax.
This is not entirely true. I mean, to her maybe she thought she loved him. Maybe she even had this perfect idea of loving him. But most of us knew that it wasn’t real. I knew. Marilyn, her best friend, knew as well. There were little hints when we first met him, hints that set us off to his beguiling ways. For one, he didn’t open the door for her. Any door. Car door. House door. Building door. I suppose for some maybe that’s not the biggest deal. We seemed to think so, me and Marilyn. He’s bad news, she’d say, bad news bears. Actually, I didn’t even know that was the name of a movie until 5 months later when Gail, this girl I’d only recently met, mentioned it to me in the video store. Bad news bears, she said. But I reacted, unknowingly, drawing myself to the first thing I thought her to be talking about - two large, black men who had just walked through the motion sensor slide doors. Jesus, I said to her, that’s kind of fucked up.