Thursday, May 6, 2010
I was awakened by my mother since I pressed the snooze button on the alarm clock at least six times this morning. I did that because I was really sleepy and my pillow top mattress was not helping at all. Even though I was not excited to run some errands, I was up with a Garfield-like smile from ear to ear knowing that I had another pleasant dream. It was the same dream again; a dream about a man which is now making me impatient. It was the kind of dream that takes place in a beautiful field full of sun flowers surrounded by a large forest and it always seemed to have two people chasing each other playfully. Well that is the exact same dream that I had. The man that was in my dream was as close to perfection as possible. This ideal person is considered in the beholder's eyes as a person to spend an eternity with. His eyes were very deep, dark, and had long eye lashes, which provided the eyes with meaning and character. He had a dark-brown complexion, a pleasant smile, and full luscious lips. Regardless of his physical features, he had characteristics in a man's personality that are significant as well. He would be able to see that I am thinking and was very charming with his words. He would also laugh at my silly jokes like no other. “Hmm, I hope this is telling me something! Parhaps, this dream is fortelling something very interesting about the future. I like I like,” I said to myself with a smile on my face. I can’t seem to understand why a dream this mysterious hunts me in my sleep everynight. That is something I need to find out before I lose my mind.
Days pass by and I still haven’t heard or seen such a man. There is a possibility that this man could be living here with me. So anyway, I got ready for a beautiful summer day and rushed through the door. While I was grocery shopping I saw a man that looks like the one in my dreams. There he was standing miraculously, looking and mesmerized by my beauty. He wore a very bright yellow shirt. As he walked towards me, I acted as if I didn’t see him and continued to shop.
“I know I’m not a grocery item but I can tell when you are checking me out.” He said with a confident smile.
Confused yet amazed, we talked for a little while and then exchanged numbers.
“What are you up to today?” He asked.
“My schedule doesn’t look so good but would love to grab a bite for lunch tomorrow, what do you think?”
“Sure, sounds good! I guess I will come by tomorrow at noon then?”
It felt so weird for thinking that I had found the one in a day; the one man I have been looking for. I thought I was insane and I must have been going crazy or something. Finally, I went back to my house, took a shower, got ready to watch T.V. and all I had been thinking about was him the whole time. I kept telling myself how perfect we would be together. It was during the next day; both of us were sitting in a small quiet restaurant with candles flickering that he, surprisingly, told me the dreams he had of me every night; just like the ones I had of him. We instantly fell in love with each other and became the most desired couple in town. Every night, we would name and claim our stars as we hold each other. It feels so comforting to be with someone who is wonderful. As we got to know each other, I noticed that we are different as night and day. Nevertheless, I wanted him in my life, very much.
Summer break runs from the beginning of June until the middle of August. It might have been the summer of 95’ but I lived on a blue, two story house on Forrest Street. I was six and was friends with most of the other six year olds on my block. Across the street from my house lived my best friends, Josh and Justine. Josh was in my grade, his sister, Justine, was a couple years older than us. Josh and I played almost every day in the summertime. He had brown hair; he was much taller than me and talked with a stutter. The kids on our block all made fun of him because of it but I didn’t mind it. He was my best friend after all. We had lots of adventures, from building an igloo in his driveway, to riding our bikes out in the alley way behind my house. One day that summer Josh and I had nothing to do, we sat on my front porch steps watching the rest of the neighborhood. We got on the topic of the elderly couple that lived next to Josh’s house.
“Hey, you know Mr. & Mrs. Bentsen?” asked Josh.
My parents were good friends with them and I had been over inside their house before but I had hardly talked to them. So I responded with,
“Yeah my mom talks to Mrs. Bentsen all the time, why?”
“Well, I was just thinking that we could go check out their backyard, it’s awesome! Have you ever seen it before?”
“No, what’s back there?” I asked
“I go back there all the time. They have a beautiful garden and a pond with gold fish in it. They let me play in it whenever I want. Do you wanna go see it?”
I thought to myself for a minute, that there was really nothing else to do, and Josh said he goes back there all the time so why not?
Even though the couple wasn’t home I didn’t think anything of it. I didn’t feel any guilt as we lifted the latch and broke into their backyard. I mean Josh did say that he goes back there all the time. The first step I took was onto a stone-paved walkway. In my six young years of life, their garden was so big and so lush that it was the prettiest thing that I had ever seen. There were so many colors that it looked like a rainbow of flowers. Josh took me on a tour of it, like he had been there time and time before. He elaborated on all sorts of stories about how he went swimming in the pond, about the number of birds he saw in the birdbath, and playing in their flowers. We were back there for the whole summer afternoon. We got into a sort of game where we made a little garden of our own. We had picked off almost all of the big, red roses, and the yellow tulips to make our garden. A cardinal perched on the birdbath inspired us to make our little garden a place for the birds. We even gathered twigs nest-like, so the birds could have a place to stay and visit. It began to get dark out so Josh and I went back to our homes laughing about the fun day we had.
After dinner the phone rang. My mom answered and trouble began.
“Oh, I don’t know who could have done that, I’m really sorry that happened… Well I’ll let you know if I hear anything Mrs. Bentsen.”
My mom came into the living room and asked me what I did that day.
“Well, Josh and I played outside all day.”
I was hesitant to tell her what we really did but she gave me that look like she already knew. So I finally gave in and told her about our adventure and how we had made a pretty place for the birds to visit. My mom asked me why I did that and she told me that it was wrong of me to trespass. I tried to justify my reasoning to her telling her that I didn’t know I was trespassing because Josh had been back there so many times before. She called Mrs. Bentsen back and explained that she knew who the trespassers were.
The next day I had to go clean up the garden by myself because Josh had denied the whole story.
We run off, backs to the wind, the chasing of cottonwood wasps down the sidewalk, snatching them as they glide and swoop, destroying their autonomous course of flight, laughing while we do such.
We have one more week together. Though, we’re not together, these are the moments we will remember.
“What do you want to do?” she said with an uprise in her voice. Feeling the unsettling humidity of the car she wiped the sweat from the back of her neck and pulled her hair into a ponytail.
“Well, we could go the park”
I followed behind you through the woods. Inspecting the glistening canopy above us, sun speckling itself onto the ground laid out in front me. We exited the woods to find that where the park once was, was now a barren brown landscape.
A warm wind against our backs tossed soil and sediment about in the distance. Dirt dusted the entire sky of dazzling indigo. We could feel the wind begin to move from the brown plain outstretched in front of us to the green and orange aspen trees behind us, causing them to sway lightly. Their force then began to growing with each movement, growing more violent, gaining intensity the way an orchestra tuning up does. Then, suddenly, as if performing a concerto, the wind billowed a sound similar to a yelp. The resonance of this sound completely astounded us.
Her hair danced delicately behind her head, the gorgeous sun reflected itself out of the corner of her eye, I wondered if the feeling which consumed me was a product of the environment, or rather I imagined that the environment was acting in perfect accordance to this feeling of complete spiritual harmony.
“This is it.” I remember thinking. Fifteen years as a fishermen and I was about to become fish food. I had been fishing off shore of Mexico with my buddy Jose for sailfish when we encountered a terrible storm. Out of nowhere the sky got black and the wind kicked up. Waves over 20 feet were rocking our tiny ship as we huddled inside the cabin. I could hear the hull creaking and groaning.
“Hey Jose!” I shouted over the wind.
“What up Pancho?”
“Remember on Friday when we got paid for our last catch? When I wanted to use the money to hole up the leaks and get a new mast? But you just had to go to the bar. ”
“Oh yeah my bad man. If it makes you feel any better I was having a really bad day.”
As Jose proceeded to tell me about his terrible day I heard a large crash right above us. The mast had splintered but was still attached to the boat by a few ropes and was beginning to drag us down.
“Hey man I have to get those ropes!” Jose patted me on the back and crawled onto the deck. He managed to cut the ropes but as he turned to crawl back a huge wave, maybe 30 feet, hit our ship. Jose was thrown into the water and it was a miracle the ship didn’t capsize. I would learn later, while inspecting the ship that Jose had cut his leg on a lose board as he fell, attractting a large pack of bullsharks. I immediately ran out onto the slippery deck and tried to toss him a rope but those sharks made quick work of poor old Jose.
As the storm began to break up and the sun started to come out again I peered into the water. My heart dropped when I saw that the bullsharks, probably ten of them were still circling around my boat. They were snapping their jaws and the only thing I could look at were their rows of razor sharp teeth. To make matters worse the storm had washed the boat way off shore. I had no idea what I was going to do when I noticed a small speck on the horizon. I could tell right away that it was a large ship.
“I have to make sure that ship sees me,” I thought, “otherwise ill never see my family again!”
I was in the process of trying to produce a paddle when I noticed several coils of rope sitting on the deck of the boat. I had heard of the cowboys from the American west and how they would use lassos to rope up cows. I figured if they could lasso a cow from horseback, I might be able to lasso a shark or two and have them drag me over to that ship!
I crawled my way over to the ropes and began to knot a lasso in the end of one of the ropes. As I balanced myself against my broken mast I swung the lasso high overhead.
“Splash!” I missed my target.
After two more tries I was finally able to snare one of the deadly fish. I quickly tied the end of the rope around the splintered mast at the front of the boat. After the first one I managed to snag two more sharks and got them tied up.
At this point I was starting to feel like my chances of survival were looking up, but I still wasn’t sure how I was going to control the sharks. While mulling my situation over I realized that I still had several pounds of baitfish stored below deck. Slowly I lowered myself down into the hold and retrieved the fish.
I began throwing the fish in a straight line out in front of the boat. As I threw the fish out in front of the boat the sharks would swim so powerfully that I prayed the mast would hold. After what seemed like an eternity I finally began to close in on the ship.
I began jumping up and down, waving my arms desperately trying to get someone to notice me. When the men on the ship finally did see me they sent out a huge rowboat, much bigger than my tiny vessel. As they made their way up to me they were surprised to see my lassoed sharks snapping about in the water. I was thankful for their service and decided to untie the ropes and set them free.
Once onboard the ship the sailors were astounded to hear my story. They regarded me as a god for being able to control such wild beasts and were happy to drop me off back at my home port. Once there everyone was astounded to see such a huge ship. I rowed into shore and waved goodbye to my new friends. As I walked up the shore I decided right there that I would never fish again. Luckily I had taken out a new insurance policy on the boat this year and received a pretty nice chunk of change for the boat. With the money I opened a bar in town. Sharkfin soup is our specialty.
Thursday, April 29, 2010
It was the middle of the summer in the year 1999 on a Friday afternoon, and everyone was home. It was about 89 degrees outside that day. So my mother kicked my brother and I out of the house for the day and told us to go play with our friends. I was standing in the garage trying to come up with things to do because it was so hot outside. I thought and thought for about 5 minutes, and decided to ride my bike down to my friend Courtney’s house, to see if she wanted to go the pond, which was our favorite place to go on hot days like this. When I got to her house her mother was outside in the garden planting flowers and putting up little fences to keep the rabbets away. I walked inside without even asking because I was pretty much family. I walked up to Courtney’s room and asked her if she wanted to ride her bike and go to the pond with me.
“We just went to the pond yesterday” Courtney cried.
“Yeah, yeah so what? There’s nothing else to do” I said.
“Umm, how about we go EXPLORING!” As she jumped up from the floor.
“Sweet, where are we going to explore? ” I said with a confused look on my face.
“lets go to the woods behind my house” Courtney said as she was running to but her shoes on.
“Okay” Even though I agreed. I was still scared of what would happen if we went into the woods.
Except Courtney did not give me any time to think or even say that it was a bad idea. She grabbed my arm and we were off. we ran down stairs to the back door, and jumped off the deck and landed in the soft just cut grass. We both ran as fast as we could through the yard till we got to the edge of where the yard was no longer a yard but a black hole of trees. We asked Courtney’s mom if it was okay to go into the wood’s. She wasn’t really paying attention and said yes anyway. Courtney and I pretended that we were on an important mission. We traveled through huge ditches and thought we were getting eaten by ground hogs and walked along a tiny stream that we thought was the ocean.
As our journey continued, we came across an abandon house. From what we could see no one lived their. All the windows had holes in them from where someone had thrown a base ball or a rock through it to get inside. As we were exploring we could hear little creaking noises coming from behind us. Courtney and I really didn’t think of anything because it could have been some birds in the trees or some animals walking through the brush so we kept exploring. Until we heard some people talking, and then they started screaming. Courtney and I looked at each other, and slowly turned around, to see what was going on. When we got all the way turned around we saw two men standing in front of us with there two Doberman pinschers. After seeing them Courtney and I started freaking out. I was scared because I knew that something was going to go wrong and Courtney was freaking out because she didn’t like big dogs. Even though the men were a good distance away they started to talk to us.
“Do you know where you are?” one of the men said to us.
“Um were in her backyard” I said.
“I don’t think your in her back yard, girls, what you are on is privet property and if you don’t leave now were going to let our dogs go” the man said.
After hearing that Courtney and I were screaming and running all at the same time trying to get away from what was going on. We were running so fast it felt like we were flying through the woods and that our feet weren’t even on the ground. Courtney and I ran through the stream and the ditch that we were just playing in. As we got closer to the edge of the woods you could see the sun light gleaming through the trees and the hole that we came in from. When we finally reached the hole that we made to get into the woods. We jumped out of the woods and we were so happy to be in Courtney’s real back yard. Courtney and I were so excited to be back, that we ran to her mom and told her everything that happened. She listened and laughed, but then told us that she had no idea that we were gone.
Wednesday, April 28, 2010
As the sun hid behind the the horizon for the night, there was a hair-raising chill about the air that was rather uncommon for the month of July. It didn’t help that the top floor of the parking garage where we had camped out to watch Red, White, and Boom was acting more as a wind tunnel than a shelter. I wish I had worn something warmer under the jacket that was now placed upon my girlfriend’s shoulders. Her shivers became mine, but I knew that the cold sensation I was feeling was nothing compared to the trouble that would have come from my family had I not shared the jacket. Just in time to distract me from my discomfort, the fireworks began to boom above our heads. This Independence Day, the sky did not wear its traditional explosions of red, white, and blue, but instead I saw Tommy, Tery, and Greg, and I saw Hopewell Court.
Despite Greg’s inability to effectively use words – one of the many burdens placed upon him by his autism- it was simple to see that he was the most eager of everyone in our neighborhood for the firework display that we had all been planning for nearly two months now.
“Aaaayeeeeahhhhhhh” Greg sang and danced as Tommy brought out what seemed to be every roman candle and m80 ever made.
“What do you guys want to start with?” Tommy asked the group.
“We have to start out small and build up to a Grand Finale, you know, like the real shows” I said. I knew it would hardly mimic the grandiose displays we had become accustomed to, but there was an understood protocol to fireworks that we just could not stray from.
Tommy grabbed the roman candle and lit it, almost already on the run as he did so. Fireballs began to shoot up into the sky and we all watched, fascinated. Greg began to dance again, flailing his limbs more powerfully with each colorful ball. Disregarding our warnings, Greg was now on a mission to catch one of the fireballs. We knew that we should not be letting this happen, but who were we to ruin Greg’s fun? There was something almost beautiful about the mess of arms and legs flying every which way and the soundtrack of squeals, giggles, and animated noises that accompanied his dancing. And if it wasn’t beautiful, it definitely was hilarious. A red ball went flying and Greg lunged for it. He missed the fire, but we weren’t lucky enough for him to miss the firework. In the span of 4 seconds we had gone from 1776, celebrating our independence with our forefathers to 1966 in the middle of Vietnam with our actual fathers.
Instinctively I had jumped behind the nearest tree, unaware if I was fleeing from the fireballs raining down upon us or the spine-tingling scream and smell coming from Tery. What was that smell? To this day I can still smell that smell; a smell generally reserved for firefighters, doctors, and those most unfortunate. It was the smell of burning flesh. Man down, Man down! One of the balls had struck Tery in the neck and we all watched, paralyzed by both fear and confusion, as he rolled around in anguish.
“Ahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh,” Terry could not stop yelling, “Somebody get my mom. Go get my mom, please. Get my mommmmmm. Ahhh,” His screams made me want to run for help, even in the midst of Armageddon, and I may have sat there frozen in awe if it weren't for that smell.
“Hold on, Tery, just stay down,“ I said as I ran for help. What a shame, that may have been the best roman candle we’d ever get to see – that thing wouldn’t go out even now that we wanted it to. This remarkable firework had been lost, hidden and tarnished by excitement and bad luck. That was our last Fourth of July on Hopewell Court. We began celebrating Halloween together instead. Candy and costumes were much safer than fireworks – or so we thought.
Tuesday, April 27, 2010
“Well, Charles, we have been together for three years. Don’t you think its time to start considering it? What do you have against it?"
“Julia, let’s just drop it and try to enjoy the rest of the evening. Things are fine the way they are, aren’t they, honey? Come on… let’s head over to the diner for a late dinner.”
As they sat at the counter at Phillies and placed their orders, Julia pretended quiet indifference, yet her insides were in torment. Why was Charles so against marriage? It was as though he wanted to keep things the same forever. The weekly Saturday night movie and diner date, the occasional Sunday dinner after church, the lunches in the park once or twice weekly. Although she enjoyed all of the time she spent with Charles, Julia would return home after each meeting to the apartment she and her mother shared in the northern part of Chicago, feeling empty and alone.
In the beginning, it had been wonderful. She had met Charles at the department store where she worked as a clerk. He came in looking for a gift for his niece’s birthday. They had hit off immediately, talking and laughing as she showed him items from beneath the counter. When she went to wrap up the necklace he had chosen, he asked if he might call her sometime. Smiling shyly, she wrote her number down and handed it to him with the package.
Two days later, after Julia had finally convinced herself he wasn’t going to call, Charles called. He asked her to a movie for the following Saturday. When Charles came to pick her up, he complimented her on her new dress and told her that she looked very lovely. He opened the car door for her and waited until she was safely in. As he walked around the front of the car, he looked at her through the windshield and gave her a smile. A warm feeling came over her. After the movie that night, they continued laughing and talking and decided to head over to the diner for a late night milkshake. As they sat at Phillies, just as they were tonight, Julia found herself falling for Charles. His quick wit, handsome features, and his honest nature instinctively told her that he was a wonderful man.
For the next few months, they enjoyed a variety of outings. Julia introduced him to her mother, and there were nights where the three of them gathered for dinner and a game of cards. When a year had passed, friends and family began to whisper that surely an engagement announcement would be forthcoming in the year. At the close of their second year together, Julia began to anticipate that moment with all of her heart. She watched Charles closely for any signs of the impending question, yet he never varied in his manner or activities.
Now, here they were, well into their third year together, and nothing had changed. Julia noticed Charles looking at her and turned to face him. “You have been pretty quiet. What are you thinking about?” he asked her with a smile. Julia took a deep breath and decided to broach the subject of marriage again. “Charles, what is it that you have against marriage? Don’t you want to marry me?” Julia asked with a pleading note in her voice. Charles heaved an irritated sigh and dropped his forehead into his hand. “Look, Julia, why is this so important to you? Don’t you think we have fun? Don’t you enjoy just being together? I do. Why isn’t this enough for you? Why do you girls all want to get married?” he said quietly, yet impatiently. Julia looked at him and suddenly felt like crying. “Well Charles,” she said, mustering a smile, “you know that it’s every girl’s dream to have the wedding, the husband, and the picket fence!” Charles looked at her steadily. “Yeah, I know, but I thought you were different from those girls. That’s one of the reasons I liked you so much!” he said. Julia’s face reddened in humiliation and rage. When did she ever tell him that she wanted something different? What gave him the idea that she would want to be different from any other girl out there? She stood up stiffly and gathered up her purse. “What are you doing? Come on, Julia, sit down. You are overreacting to this and causing a scene!” Charles hissed at her. Julia hurried toward the door and out into the dark night, tears gathering in her eyes. Charles hurriedly laid some bills on the counter, gathered his coat, and went after her. Julia was walking quickly up the street, desperate to get away and hide in the safety of her room at home. Charles long legs caught up to her, however, and he tried to take her arm. “Just leave me alone, Charles!” she said as tears threatened to spill onto her cheeks. “Julia, what is going on with you? Why are you suddenly so struck on the idea of marriage? You never said anything before!” he questioned her impatiently. “WHY should I have to say anything, Charles? Why, I ask you? Isn’t this supposed to be how it all goes? I thought we were in love! Why haven’t you asked me already? Isn’t us being together hint enough for you?” Julia was crying freely now. She swiped angrily at her eyes and continued walking briskly. “Julia, it’s just not something I want to do right now-“ he began. “Then just forget it! I don’t want to see you anymore. Please leave me alone!” Julia wailed. She broke into a run when she saw her house was nearby. Charles threw his arms in the air and yelled to her. “Julia! Please wait…there is a reason. But it’s not you!” She stopped and turned to look at him. The streetlamp illuminated his face. It looked agonized and pleading. Julia walked slowly back towards him and faced him squarely. “Alright, Charles.” Charles took a deep breath and plunged into an explanation “Julia, this won’t make any sense to you, but I need you to understand and just listen to me. Several years ago, I was married.” Julia’s face registered shock. “I know we have never talked about this, but the marriage wasn’t going well. We decided to separate, for just awhile, then see how things went. Apparently, she fell for another man during that time. She ran off with him and I haven’t seen her since. I, well, I didn’t know how to tell you about this,” he said quietly. Julia felt as though she were unable to grasp his meaning. “Charles, how long have you been divorced?” she asked breathlessly. Charles looked at her and took both of her hands in his. “Julia, I am not actually divorced. Lily ran off before-“ Charles stopped in mid-sentence when Julia’s angry cry broke through. She snatched her hands from his and ran up the street towards her apartment. Charles was left on the sidewalk, alone.