Freedom Candy – Part 2 of 2

Big Rock Candy MountainThe trek to the man’s store was less about the candy for her, and more about the limited freedom it afforded.  A sheltered, smothered little girl, she felt like fine China that never came off the shelf.  While her parents tried to protect her from bullying and the less savory aspects life, the result of their loving efforts was a much too shiny innocence that attracted the attention of the most insecure brats, both on the block and in the halls at school.  She often felt helpless and brittle, caged and uncertain of herself.  The walk into the little town was practice for the walk she longed to take into a world she could own and dominate, away from the rules and control of her over-bearing parents.

Past the bank, past the bakery, the phone company and the library, past the church where her parents took her for exposure, they walked.  No one questioned a gaggle of children in those days, in the small little towns, making their way down the center of everything.  They stopped here and there for sidewalk treasures:  rocks that fit their youthful hands, uniquely bent nails, bugs and frogs.  Rounded stones and undamaged bottle caps clicked against each other in their pockets.  Broken glass they weren’t supposed to touch was defiantly scooped up and tossed into trash cans, proving to each other they weren’t concerned with the dangers.

In time, as the only girl along for the trip, she became one of the boys.  She spit and cussed along with the others in a show of solidarity, and because it made her feel empowered.  In time, the brittleness shattered from her core, and what she found there was an angry but strong, confused but determined individual.  She didn’t want to wear dresses or jewelry like the other girls because it reminded her of that frail little China doll that she wasn’t allowed to play with, for fear of breaking it.  She didn’t care what kind of candy stick the man sold her, as long as it wasn’t green apple.

The candy store, with all it’s choices, was the world in vivid splashes of truth and facades, twists of choices and obligations.  She wasn’t yet ready to map out her future, but she knew she could not let anyone draw that landscape for her.

In high school, years later, Al put a pistol to his head and pulled the trigger.  It had nothing to do with her.  Anyway, that’s what she told herself.  He had proposed to her the year before, much to his brother’s dismay.  She had been kind but firm, but suddenly, it was as if the last six years disappeared and they were right back at that bus stop.  She was a “dyke,” and much worse, he’d said, and he would let everyone know.  The bully of her childhood had fallen in love, and then betrayed that sentiment when she declined another prison of protection and sheltering.  With his putrid words of anger and a faulty, broken heart – he’d voiced her worst fear.

She’d hugged Benny when the news of Al’s suicide made the rounds.  She remembered his gift of courage on the school bus, and would later cherish his brother’s gift of self-discovery.

(Read Part 1, edited)

 


I cannot get this story “just so.”  I can’t figure out how to tie all the ends.  As is, it gets out the points fine – but I cannot help but think there must be a better, more lyrical way to transmit the story.  Please – I would great appreciate any feedback fellow writers or avid readers provide.

Advertisements

Freedom Candy – Part 1 of 2

Candy sticksThere was a man who sold candy.  Thirty years past its prime, his store held rows and rows of jars with different flavors of stick candy for ten cents a piece.  I’m sure there were other things for sale, but a dime was something a kid could come by easier than a dollar.

Weeks were full of restless drama with the neighborhood kids, crowded buses with seats, sticky from dirty hands and snot, bustling hallways separating the sanctuaries of classrooms, and the after school, latch-key scenario – she wasn’t allowed to go out and play until one of her working parents came home.  Such weeks had this one thing, this occasional adventure, to look forward to.  If the rain let up long enough, she could convince her folks the ground wouldn’t be muddy.  If the sun was glowing and their spirits less taxed, she’d get to go with some friends into to town, and buy a candy stick or two.

The field between the newly developing housing complex and the road into town was flat and low.  She and her friends would walk, skip, or run across its mowed green carpet, and then climb the embankment to the fortified road four feet up.

Cal, her next door neighbor, awkward and lanky with little muscle on his growing frame, was always along for the trip.  They were in fourth grade together and yet, strangely they rarely spoke at school despite their “best friend” status in the neighborhood.  Her parents probably wouldn’t have allowed her to go if he hadn’t been present.

A tiny skeleton of a child with a big head misnamed Mike usually wanted to go.  He was only in the first grade, and lived across from her in the biggest house on the block.  Although he was an annoyance in their daily play adventures, he was always welcome when they went to the candy store, because he always had enough to buy extra for everyone.  Little Mike was either too generous to consider what other candy he could have purchased with his two or three dollars, or else they maneuvered him away from the possibilities to protect their sugar striped interests.

Al and Benny, usually her tormentors at the isolated morning bus stop, were also allowed to go.  Such enemies in the desolate frontiers where parents were typically absent, were not recognized for their evil in the presence of adults.  Not if you wanted to live to tell the story.  Adults clouded the dynamics of power when it came to bullies, and while Al and Benny might cease their abuse for a time (when her father visited their house and spoke with their parents), eventually their anger over being “ratted out” would come to a head.  They brought an actual rope as their threat one morning after.

A year later, Benny would walk off the school bus with a bloody nose.  Confused at his childhood crush on her, he would express himself with fists that bounced harmlessly off her bulky snowsuit.  Realizing her worst fears were coming true, no one was coming to her aid as he pummeled her with this assault, she pulled back and straightened her arm – right into his face.  The motion of the bus may have helped the outcome, and the bus driver was relieved to watch the age of tormenting the girl come to an end.  On that day, Benny gave her the best gift any boy (aside from his brother) would ever offer – his actions opened her eyes to her capacity for courage.

(Read Part 2)

Eight Seconds

The incessant engine humming, no – more of a roaring moan, will probably echo in my head for hours after I land.  That guy looks as nervous as I feel.  “We can do this, Joe!”  Yeah, that smile looks totally forced, but thumbs up buddy.

I can’t imagine this would be very comfortable without these packs on our backs.  Makes a good spot for resting my head while we wait to reach altitude over the jump zone.  Oh, wow.  Stomach isn’t having that right now.  Better sit up and think happy thoughts.  This helmet feels tighter all of a sudden.  Let’s do an equipment check again to get my mind right.  Yep … check, check.  This harness itches right here.  Heck, I’d wear a suit of armor if they guaranteed me nothing bad would happen.

Oh, Lord.  They’re moving around up there.  Okay.  Okay.  It’s happening.  Stand up.  Shuffle forward.  Here we go.  Please, God, I know the doc said six to eight months.  But I really think I want all of it I can get.  Let me make this jump okay, please?

“What? … Oh, yes.  Yes, have it right here.  Okay.  Yes, I count the seconds and then pull this.  Right.  This one for back up.  Got it.  Yep.  … Where? … Oh God … yep … okay.”

That wind is not at strong as it was last time.  I could practically fall out here.  My finger tips are probably going to be bruised as tight as I’m gripping this door.  Not looking down yet.  Not looking down.  I wish he’d just push me out.  Oh man, he’s saying it.  Here I go.

“YEAAAAAAAAAAAAAHHHHHHHHHHH!  AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAHHHHHHHH!”  Be a starfish and count you dumbass!  Shit.  I’m falling.  This is great!  I’m probably at ten seconds.  Okay.  11-one thousand … 12-one thousand … 13-one thousand … 14-one thousand … I can’t wait to tell everyone I’ve been doing this.  17-one thousand … 18-one thousand … 19-one thousand … I wonder how many people are out of the plane so far.   24-one thousand … 25-one thousand … feels so freeing, not like the first few jumps.  28-one thousand … 29-one thousand … 30-one thousand … all I could think about was whether my chute would open, how tight the harness felt, and how much my eyes were watering (even with the goggles on).  All that in just three seconds.

Wow … 35-one thousand …36-one thousand … it’s like google earth in person.  Zooming in people!  Zooming in!  40-one thousand … 41-one thousand … screw cancer … 42-one thousand … 43-one thousand … I’ll buy Katherine a huge diamond ring before I tell her so she doesn’t argue about saving the money for the medical bills … 46-one thousand … 47-one thousand … I’ll write that book I’ve been messing around about for all these years, and … 50-one thousand … I’ll tell my brother I’m sorry … 52-one thousand … and as it turns out she’ll be available again in 6 – 8 months, dude … 54-one thousand … ouch, that chuckle hurt with all this air flow slapping into me under this pack.  57-one thousand … almost … 58-one thousand … reaching …59-one thousand … here goes, brace for whiplash.

No.  What is this?  Some kind of test?  No, no, no!  Steps!  Follow the steps!  There’s time.  There’s time.  Look – you’re still above 1000.  Do the steps.  What the … I don’t think it’s supposed to look like that.  The line is too messed up.  Stop panicking; I can’t believe this is happening.  Not fixable … right … okay.  Next.

Reach to the right – there it is.  Got it.  Now find the left – got it.  Arching back, pulling … damn this thing is hard … pull that thing.  Okay there it went.  Main chute cut.  There it goes.  Damn.  Pull left!  Pull!  C’mon dammit.  This is NOT happening!  God please!  Is anyone coming to help me.  Do they see me?  Wait – where is everyone?  Flatten … stretch … fall slower.  What was I thinking?  What was this supposed to do for me when I had this idea?  Confidence.  I was supposed to get some strength to face the cancer.

SkydiveroverEslovSweden

By Degrer (Own work) [CC0], via Wikimedia Commons


I’m gonna’ die.  No one can help me.  The reserve won’t open.  I’m almost at 1000 feet.  What was it they said then?  About 7 or 8 seconds.  Far cry from 6 – 8 months.  Maybe I should have told Katherine.  Will Doc Peters tell her now?  Oh no – will the insurance cover this?  Glad we have the supplemental and the savings.  She can always sell the other house too.   God, thanks for giving me Katherine before this.

Dave will figure it out.  Maybe he’ll read my papers and get the apology he’s been needing.  Katherine’s strong, she and the kids will be okay.  Oh, please Lord, don’t let this hurt.   Let it be quick when I hit.  Maybe even finish me before I hit?  Please don’t let it hurt.

Maybe that’s the best thing.  No weeks or months wasting away in front of everyone.  No long term pain deadened by the drugs.  Guess I’ll never know what smoking pot feels like now.  Focus – 1000 feet.  Close your eyes.

The smell of grandma’s house.  Mom’s lasagna.  The look Jesse gave me, smiling eyes and tongue hanging out with joy, whenever I’d play ball with her.  The waves crashing in rhythm on the beach.  Sun shining.  Our first kiss.  She knows me.  Katherine holding Jamal.  Lunch together in the tree-house, spying on Ayesha and Tim next door until they spotted us.  All of us giggling so hard it made tree-house shake.  Katherine’s face when I pulled up on Tom’s motorcycle.  Jamal scraping his knee the first time, I was his hero.  I love you guys.  That time whe


 

I needed to post content hurriedly this morning and didn’t have time to edit this.  I will touch up any grammar/spelling issues in the coming days.  This started as a response to a writing exercise called “Epiphany” in Brian Kiteley’s The 3 A.M. Epiphany.  I cheated a little and then went rogue.  I also got the idea for the ending from John Green’s The Fault in Our Stars where the main character talks about how her favorite book ends.  I recommend both books.