Dirt-Caked Feet

I’ve been in a Creative Nonfiction Writing class for a few weeks now. This piece, as titled above, required us to write about a quintessential childhood memory with over-the-top detail. Enjoy!

 

“I CALL THE MIDDLE SWING!” Nathan’s teensy brown bangs fluttered in the breeze while his red athletic shorts careened down the chipped, rust-colored paint. His porch had the kind of paint kids adore peeling off until their parents notice.

Nathan’s little sister, Kate, and I darted for the swing set in his wake. Slowly, the summer sun climbed the sky, adding dancing leaf shadows to the yard. Below our bony, breathless bodies, grass soothingly greeted the dirt-caked plains of happy feet, covered in bleeding or tender scrapes and scratches, which resulted from unforgiveable sticky, sharp pine needles, hot, gravelly asphalt, and deathly, six-pegged Legos. Our toes wiggled gleefully, knowing over 24 hours had passed since dog poop squelched and coated the smooth skin. Slightly slippery with the remnants of morning dew, the grass blades also echoed of tacky green-and-yellow Slip-n’-Slides covered in water and sprinklers with water claws. Running full speed and jumping through, we hit the jets, which almost stung, but tickled too, leaving grass and leaves clinging to chicken legs with scabbed knees. However, the number of times we laughed and screamed in delight totaled more than the amount of boo-boos on our bodies.

I hit the rubber swing fast, slamming my belly onto the seat and pushing off in the direction of our gunky pond. Coated in algae and likely filled with diseased, mutated fish, the pond glimmered with the memory of my sister’s old shovel stuck at the bottom under miles of thick black, gooey muck. Then I swung backwards on the swing, in the direction of Nathan and Kate’s family room, where a freshly-painted bar sat with brown, leftover stains from concocted drinks. Every pop imaginable fused together into the see-through shot glasses, often overflowing with bubbly fizz. Alongside the bar counter sat shelves upon shelves of CD albums and vinyl. Some glinted with the names of famous musicians and others glimmered with the neon pink, blue, and yellow color combinations only deemed recognizable by children who attended raucous, rowdy Vacation Bible Schools.

Just now the sun similarly glinted through the shivering, shaking trees above our heads, as we sat normally on our swings to pump our legs farther into the sky. Writhing, moon-colored maggots used to lie where I now sat. An old, rusting, purple and white, two-person swing set used to sit where the new, wooden, three-person set now sat. While Nathan and I flew higher, synchronizing our pumping rhythm and yelling, “We’re married!” I recalled chirping laughter between Mr. and Mrs. Scott upon asking Nathan who he wanted to marry. “Annah!” rang out with every ounce of certainty spread across the two syllables. A wiggly-toothed smile had appeared upon the baby-faced boy who often peered through my front window and shouted, “Hello?”

Kate, who had pumped higher than either of us through sheer determination and lunging backward and forward with her whole body, now flexed her legs upward. Her knees disappeared as the legs extended almost unnaturally and the toes lunged to graze the tree branches. Her tiny toes spread apart to grab hold of the wilting, weather-beaten, leaves and pull them away from their woody host. Bending downward until unable to fight anymore, the attacked branch snapped back with a rushing, fluttering, whooshing sound. Each leaf stubbornly clung to Kate’s toes before drifting single-file to the ground. When I tried for the leaves, I cupped the clump of tree appendages between my feet like a toy monkey, clanging its cymbals together abruptly. Unwillingly, the leaves admitted to the capture, while Kate cackled and screeched.

~Annah

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Yellow Birthday

I wrote this yesterday, 8/15/17.
Button up and button on

Today is yellow birthday

Did you hear the tears last night

Dripping into a yellow pool

That juxtaposes sass and smiles

With tired, aching, dry eyes

Yellow, sallow skin

Help

Yourself to a piece of cake

Smile and reminisce into the lens

Then drive through yellow-lit fields

A color grim and grateful

A color faint yet strong

On this dear yellow birthday

I’m reminded where I belong
~Annah

Inquiring After a Word

Sometimes putting words to paper is really difficult. Sometimes I find old words that comfort me, because they were not difficult at all. Here is one such work, as titled above.

 

Our mouths carry words with so many meanings

‘God’ is someone I look up to dearly

At his wife the bold man screams ‘god’ clearly

Each of us are delicate, angry beings

 

A dizzy girl lies staring at ceilings

He almost saved her dad—not, but nearly

Musty pews could it really be merely

Wishful thinking through dumb, ‘god’damn feelings

 

Search, but don’t let your heart be too far-gone

Do we praise the god with capital ‘G?’

Opinions are where inner fights will spawn

Left, right, fragments of color only see

A pattern of misery will be drawn

Instead of lenses that will break us free

 

~Annah

Mended

Whether silently resigned

Or curtly unkind

I knew you had something to hide

And softly creaked open your heart’s door

 

I tentatively stepped inside

A timid whisper drew me across the threshold

A nervous flame began to grow in a dark corner

Overlooking a musty muddled mess

 

To the untrained eye

It held a chaotic quality

But my calm palm felt

The quaking pile of thread

And sensed the unraveled beauty

 

Weave convenient needle

Through weather-beaten thread

To pull ravishing features

Back together again

 

Words flesh out in blue

But held in caring hands

Begin to change and evolve

Color after color bursts forth

 

Uncertain but steady streams

Of an identity you used to be

Before sun rose over horizon

And you fell below the tide

 

I gaze at the sewn color wheel

Of letters I am blessed to hear

You mutter rapidly

Into my empathetic ear

Before withdrawing to your hushed corner

So easy to cling in the winter

 

I lovingly carry the new creation

With me to the doorway

Look back adoringly at your

Dark cavern

Outlined in silver

 

Every edge is visible from the doorway

Where you would grimace

But I simply beam

 

The door snaps closed in fright

I determinedly place the message

On the wood that

Inevitably absorbs the label

You let me delicately mend:

“Not fargone nor forgotten.”

 

~Annah

Remodeled – An Excerpt

As some of you may or may not know I want to be an author. However, I always feel hesitant telling people that because so many people say the same thing and never get anywhere. It’s just an ideal dream. But it has become kind of a mission of mine to come through with it. I have a lot of things to say, I guess. Mainly I’m just super quiet and observant. I have things I want the world to know. And I don’t just want to write, but I want to make people think, whether that’s through different lifestyles or viewpoints. My goal is to get people outside of themselves, but also write realistic, relatable characters.

This past semester I had my introduction to creative writing class, where I probably wrote more in a few months than I ever have before. My favorite piece was the one fiction story I was able to write, Remodeled. After over a month of poetry I was pretty relieved to write some fiction. Short stories are a challenge though, because I become way too attached to my characters.

Anyway here’s the beginning of my story! I’ve never shared any fiction on here before so I thought I’d give it a try. Maybe you’ll like it. Maybe you’ll think I’m a terrible writer. I’m always game for feedback, so fire away.

 

“There’s an elderly woman outside who can’t lift the grocery bags into her car,” I heard my boss say from the supermarket entryway. “Will someone help her out?”

I stared transfixed at the plastic bag turntable in front of me. It was no more than twenty degrees outside and snow was falling thick and fast. Please, for the love of god, don’t pi—

            “Adrienne, you don’t look like you’re doing much. Why don’t you go help?”

“Sure,” I replied, mustering the weakest smile possible. “I would just love to help.” Ugh, why do I always have such a crass attitude?

On the plus side, at least I could cover up my atrocious yellow work vest with a coat. Stiffly, I jerked the black cotton over my sore body and pulled a wool hat over my tightly pinned black bun. Yeah, I’m really starting to feel the repercussions of my workout yesterday. It had been the first time in a month I’d forced myself to do something worthwhile, like caring for my body.

Lane, my boss, made me hate my job even more than I already did. He was short and squat, with dark-rimmed glasses he always stared over the top of, probably because he thought that made him more menacing. To him, he was better than all of us lowly minimum wage workers who had to cater to customers in this tiny town in the middle of nowhere. When I walked past him towards the door, he grabbed my arm.

“Hey, watch that attitude. We are here to serve customers. If you won’t do that, you’re always welcome to quit.”

I glanced down at him, thinking of all the things I wanted to say in retort. How I would definitely leave if I could. How his attitude wasn’t that much better than mine. I considered taking out an earring and stabbing his cornea. But instead I just barely nodded, saying monotonously, “Please let go of my arm.”

The biting wind grazed my face as I stepped into the flurry of winter. A small lady stood hunched over her grocery cart, while another younger woman lifted a bag into the trunk of her small, red bug. I approached reluctantly. When the younger woman saw me, she smiled.

“Hey, you don’t have to do that, I was just about to help,” I said weakly, grabbing a bag myself. “I’m the one working here after all, this isn’t your job.” I laughed a little. Why would you waste energy on work you don’t have to do?

“Oh, that’s perfectly all right, you go back inside!” she exclaimed, warmly. “I’m sure you’ve been working hard all day! You deserve a little break.”

I opened my mouth to disagree, but closed it abruptly. Well I mean if she insists, I can’t argue with that. Who would want help from a rude person like me anyway?

            With an awkward nod at the old lady, who had been staring and giving me a toothless smile this whole time, I returned to the warm embrace of the store. Luckily, Lane had gone off to attend to other duties, so I returned my coat and stood at my assigned place on the end of a checkout lane.

As another customer entered our lane to purchase groceries, I delicately pried open the bags, so they sat ready for the incoming items. It was nice to be the bagger, because I hardly had to converse with the customers. Reaching into my pocket, I pulled out earphones and placed one in each ear. Music processed my inexpressible emotions for me and I liked that. Emotional rock music was my favorite; profound lyrics mashed with electric guitar solos. It brought out emotions I didn’t even know I had. Mostly, it kept me calm when I had to talk to customers, because I’ve never been a people person.

“Have a nice day,” I said, blinking in response to the customer’s smile. More groceries began to pour in from the next customer and I started over. One of my favorite songs drifted through my earphones and I let the words consume me, as I continued my mundane work in autopilot mode. I was so absorbed in the song that it wasn’t until the customer had tapped me on the shoulder that I jerked out of my reverie. The young woman from earlier was back.

“Adrienne… that’s what your nametag says, right?” the young woman asked, while I unplugged my ears and let the unnecessarily loud music flood the vicinity.

“Yeah…” I said, trying not to let my annoyance become too obvious. “…And yours?”

“My name is Brielle,” she said simply. She held out her hand to shake mine.

“Cool name,” I replied with hardly any enthusiasm. Her hand remained facing me and without any other way out, I shook it.

“Thank you, I think so too! But you’ll have to thank my mother for that,” Brielle said, moving a strand of auburn hair behind her ear. “Anyway, I just recently moved here with my family so I thought I would get to know everyone in town! Adrienne… I will remember that for sure. It was lovely to meet you!”

“Yeah… you too,” I said, hesitantly. With another smile, Brielle walked away, her cart squeaking along in front of her. She’s a little too chipper for my taste. I gazed after her, my eyebrows furrowed. I wonder if she’s like that around everyone.

~Annah

While I Weep

I sit here crying
Because they don’t know any better.

A ten year old girl
Standing on the brink of a full life
Never saw it coming
That her mother would trade her
For a few pieces of silver

She is used
Abused
And broken

And she knows nothing else.

A thirteen year old boy
Playing star on the basketball team
Was unaware that when he missed
The winning shot
His dad would make sure he never saw victory again

He is beaten
Ashamed
And blamed

And he knows nothing else.

A twenty year old woman
Walking through her campus
Had never imagined
That others would comment “too skinny”
And it would break her

She is stressed
Depressed
And self-harms

And she knows nothing else.

A thirty year old man
Radiating passion in his work
Could not have predicted
That his business would fail
And he had no means to regain composure

He is lost
Powerless
And homeless

And he knows nothing else.

All the while
I sit here crying
For my children
Deserve
But don’t know
Any better.