Posts Tagged ‘302prose’

Unexpected Phone Calls

Monday, February 25th, 2013

            Journal 5

I jumped at the sound of buzzing and rattling across the wooden desk. I picked up the phone. The insistent noise ceased with the press of a button. The caller id announced that Home was calling.

“Hello?” I answer with a glance at my clock. It glowed with the numbers 2:30 PM. It was odd for anyone to be home at that time. My brother’s voice answered me.

“Sam?”

“Yeah. What’s up Nicky?” I grinned at the nickname. Nick hated when I called him that.

“Mom wanted me to call you.” He coughed as his voice shook.

I waited for him to go on. I knew something was wrong. My brother and I have a love-hate relationship. We loved each other because we were family, but that didn’t mean we got along. Any conversation where he wasn’t making fun of me automatically took on a serious tone. And why wasn’t mom calling me herself? My mind quickly searched for any harmless reasons my brother would deign to call me by my mother’s request. None came to mind.

“Sam. It’s, it’s about Grandpa.” He paused breathing heavily into the receiver. “He’s in the hospital again. He, well mom said it didn’t look good. She said he–” He coughed again trying to cover up the fact that he was crying.

My panic built throughout his speech, but I couldn’t contain myself at the sound of my brother’s tears. My breath came in quick gasps as I collapsed in my desk chair. The staccato sound of my breathing echoed through the receiver.

“Sam. You need to come home. Mom says he’s not gonna make it this time.”

I tried to level out my breathing, but the tears and the early grief were choking me. I could feel my lungs banging against my rib cage, protesting the rhythm at which they were forced to operate.

“How, how long?” I filled my mouth with air and slowly exhaled. He understood my meaning.

“We uh… we don’t know. Mom said she would call me when she got more information. But Sam he’s pretty bad. You just need to hurry.”

“Ok. I, I’ll be there as soon as I can.” I choked out.

“Ok.” He sighed. The beep signaling the end of the call sounded so loud in my ear. Placing the phone back on the desk I put my head between my legs.

I had hyperventilated before. I just needed control. I took another deep breath, letting it out. Breathe in, breathe out. I concentrated on the process of filling my lungs with air as I mentally reviewed all I would need to do before I left. Pack a bag, email teachers, text my roommates-an unwelcome image of my Grandpa from last spring passed across my eyes.

He hadn’t been well all year. A year of tests, and hospital visits, restrictive guidelines and diets. All the man did was complain and ignore them, much to the distress of my Grandma. Stubborn, stupid, old man. Look what you did to yourself.

I tried to see past the picture of him in a hospital bed, tubes and wires sticking out every which way. Banishing it to the back of my mind I got up, going through the necessary steps to begin my journey.

Fifteen minutes later I was speeding down I-95 praying I wouldn’t be caught going twenty miles over the speed limit. I blasted the local pop station hoping it would distract me from the horrible movie forming in my head. Tears threatened to drown out my vision the entire hour I was on the road. The white rectangles blurred into a single line, easing my mind. It was better to focus on nothing than to be trapped inside my gruesome imagination.

I pulled into the hospital parking lot and laid my head on the steering wheel. I can do this. I repeated it like a mantra. With a sudden determination I pushed the door open and strode to the entrance.

The automatic doors welcomed me with an efficient whooshing. Scanning the plastic chairs and sick faces I found my family crowded in a corner.  I rushed into my mom’s arms and lost all the control I had promised myself earlier.

 

My mom led me through a maze of doors and curtains. The hospital staff drifted around me while the sterile smell of antiseptic stung my nose. I could hear the incongruent beeping of various monitors mixing with the sounds of forcefully calm voices delivering bad news. The symphony of a hospital delivered with a crescendo of hacking coughs and the squeak, squeak of sneakers shuffling on linoleum.

We stopped at one of the orange and blue checked curtains. Drawing it back with the halting ring of metal on metal she revealed my grandpa. I stepped inside

My mom squeezed my shoulder, “I’ll give you some time to say goodbye, sweet pea.”

She pulled the curtain back and closed me in. The beige walls were crowded with blinking, grey contraptions and smiling outlets. Screens with rapidly weaving lines announced that I was not too late. The room was silent, punctuated only by the short, high-pitched signal of his heart monitor.

He was a pile of tubes. They coiled around his arms and across his stomach like vines. They encompassed him. All I could see was clear plastic and a mass of blue fabric. The standard hospital gown overwhelmed his skeleton frame.

Grandpa opened his eyes at the sound of the curtain moving. He squinted at me, as I hesitantly moved forward.

“Grandpa?” I asked, as I took one of his hands.

He applied the slightest pressure to my fingers as if confirming his identity. The blue patch holding the tube in his mouth obscured his face. He turned his head to the side watching me as I sat in the hard plastic chair.

“Hi.” I whispered. “I… don’t know how to do this. Mom told me that you’re not going to get better and I should say goodbye. But I uh, I’m not sure how to. I don’t, I don’t want to say, goodbye. I, Grandpa. I umm….” I laid my head on his arm and let the tears fall.

“I love you.” I mumbled into his arm. How was I supposed to say goodbye. They were such awful words.

“I love you so much. And I don’t want you to go, but I guess it’s ok if you do. I’ll be alright. And they said you’re in a lot of pain and I don’t want you to suffer so…” My voice was thick with emotion and I couldn’t seem to say that necessary word.

I was supposed to say it, had to, but goodbye wouldn’t come out. It was too final. I couldn’t look at my grandpa and say goodbye for the last time.

“I can’t do this.” I confessed to him. “I can’t tell you goodbye. I’m not good with death. Please, I’m so sorry.” My voice breathed out the last sentence.

He squeezed my hand again. I suppose he was trying to tell me that it was ok. I watched his distant blue eyes close.

“Please don’t do that.” I begged, but the somnolent drone of the heart monitor drowned me out. I started shouting. “I’m not done. I have to say goodbye–” The words tripped out of my mouth.

“Grandpa?” I yelled, disbelieving. I heard the screeching of shoes running toward me as the curtain flew back. I shook his arm, but he was limp.

“Grandpa!”

I gave his hand one last squeeze, the only goodbye I could manage, before I was shoved back. Shouting orders and moving equipment the doctors swarmed his body. One nurse looked back at me.

“Sweetie, you should go back to the waiting room. You don’t want to see this.” She told me as she yanked the curtain closed.

My back hit the wall and I let myself fall to the cold ground. The panic overwhelmed me again, like a wave that will always come back to the shore. I hugged my knees to my chest and let my head rest in the space between my chest and my legs. My face contracted as I began sobbing.

The flurry of activity in my grandpa’s room stopped.

“Time of death. 4:46 PM.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

Looking Up

Monday, February 18th, 2013

A woman sits on the floor of her flat, surrounded by dusty, unopened, moving cartons packed seventeen months ago. Moonbeams, the only source of light, spill in the window…

I used to walk home late at night and look up at the stars. I had always found the night sky fascinating. In the summers of my childhood I would lie in the grass staring up at the swirl of constellations. The moon never failed to make me smile. My left side bears the mark of my growing obsession. The small tattoo of a crescent moon was my statement of personality. On clear nights it was not unusual to see me looking up instead of forward.

My stargazing activities wouldn’t normally be classified as dangerous. Except I never stopped walking when I tilted my head back. That was how thirteen months ago I walked straight into the path of a car.

The memory came back to me as I laid on the dusty carpet. The dark was punctuated by shards of moonlight through the windowpanes. Cardboard boxes covered every other inch of the floor. I stretched my arms above my head brushing my fingers across the rough lines.

The pile of boxes scattered around the room were signs of my life interrupted. My first memory was the blinding light and the plastic tubes wrapped around my arms. I woke up in the hospital with gauze wrapped around my head and bruises all over my body. My name didn’t sound familiar, my friends were strangers, and my life revolved around head scans and medical charts. The memories slowly came back to me in flashes as my wound scarred over. The doctors assured me that it would take time. I wouldn’t get my life back all at once. A month in the hospital, a year in my parents house, and a week ignoring the boxes that symbolized my life before the accident. And I still couldn’t catch the pictures of the last five years of my life.

I had moved into this apartment two days before my accident. All I had unpacked was the coffeemaker and the sheets. I turned my head to look at the mess. Still, the only thing out of boxes was the coffeemaker and my sheets. I told myself that I would get to it tomorrow, but I didn’t believe it. My fingers traced the scar hidden beneath my hair. Each box held a part of my life. It was a cruel game I played with myself trying to see if I could remember anything about their contents. My eyes were tired and puffy from the latest round. Crying seemed to be the only thing I was capable of doing lately. Those five years of my life were stripped from me.

The shadows created by the moon were unknown to me. I missed the familiarity of my parent’s home. I couldn’t remember the last time I was away from them. Apparently this was home, but it didn’t feel like it.

I sat up and looked out the window. It was a crescent moon tonight. I smiled at the sky. I remembered how much I loved the night sky. That, at least was not taken from me. I got up and padded to the nearest box. Picking up the scissors I let out a sigh as I slashed through the tape.

Bonkers

Monday, February 11th, 2013

Burroway Try This 6.5 page 180

 

It all began on my parent’s cedar chest. I sat Indian style with the flowery comforter wrapped around me creating a swirl of pink and green and yellow. The wood was hard and uncomfortable underneath me. My foot had fallen asleep and my back was protesting its prolonged curving. The chest lay on the foot of my parent’s gigantic bed. I could have easily crawled into the bed behind me, but I had to sit on the edge. Being eight I was enthralled by the talking cartoon bobcat bouncing around the screen. I didn’t notice the discomfort of sitting on a wooden chest for an hour.

It was Sunday, which meant football in my house. We liked the Redskins. The Redskins haven’t had a good season since 1991. This made my parents and my brothers angry. I usually ran up to my room when football came on.

I remember the yelling. It was faint at first, but it didn’t sound good. I thought the Redskins were losing. I was eight, but I grew up knowing the Redskins would never make you happy.

It got worse. I hoped they weren’t doing too badly. The bobcat stopped talking then. I slid off the chest scraping the backs of my legs on the rough edges. I wanted to see what all the noise was about. I crept down the stairs squishing my toes into the green carpet. When I reached the first landing I grabbed the wooden railing so I could thrust my head forward. I couldn’t see anyone on the couch. The wood of the railing was smooth compared to the chest. My fingers tapped each pole as I walked down the stairs

It didn’t sound like yelling anymore. There was screaming and tears. My mom was kneeling on the floor next to the bathroom door. My younger brother was crying in that messy way five year olds do.  His face red and shiny from the tears and dripping nose, mouth open. I walked past him.

The last five steps led me to my parents. I sat on the top looking down at them.

My dad was lying on the floor. He used to point at his flushed skin and brag that he was a true Redskins fan. I know now that the rust color of his skin was the product of working outside and high blood pressure. His skin was an awful ash gray that day. His body was cut in two by the doorway of the bathroom so I could only see his torso. He looked like he was sleeping. He wasn’t moving even though my mom was shaking him and yelling at him. There was vomit on the floor beside his head. I scooted down two steps to get a better look.

Suddenly my mom turned on me. She thrust the clunky phone into my hand and told me to call 911. I didn’t think I should. I was scared that I would get in trouble because you’re only supposed to call in an emergency. She pushed the phone further into my hand poking me with the plastic antennae. I clumsily pressed down on the buttons and listened to the ring.

The woman on the other end sounded bored as she answered with the standard, “911. What is your emergency?” I forgot my address. My mom got so frustrated with me she snatched the phone back. She was mad at me. Turning her back to me she told me to get out of here.

The bobcat was still on TV. Bonkers was his name. I crawled back on the chest into my flowered cocoon and stared at the picture on the screen. My dad had never been sick before. The doctors would come and fix him. I would apologize to my mom and she wouldn’t be mad at me anymore. My brother would stop crying. I would memorize my address.

My brother’s screams followed me up the stairs. I slipped out of my nest and padded across the carpet to the door. I found him on his hands and knees a few steps below the floor. I couldn’t understand him. I didn’t want to go near him. He seemed almost animalistic on all fours. The panic and fear was choking his words.

The ambulance announced its arrival with the screeching of sirens. My brother and I were sent next door while my parents rode off in the wake of flashing lights and chattering neighbors.

 

 

I was playing Barbies with Ansleigh, the neighbor’s daughter, when I started shrieking that my dad was dead. They told me I was being silly. They told me he would be fine. They were wrong.

How to Survive Being Trapped in an Elevator

Monday, February 4th, 2013

Prompt #1: Trapped in the Elevator, alone, with a person you would walk across the street to avoid. Write a narrative dialogue.

 

Oh fuck…

“Oh hey!”

The doors slid back to reveal the most annoying person I have ever met. Whenever I saw her she trapped me into listening another installment of what I liked to call The Most Boring Life Story You Never Wanted to Hear.

“How are you?” she squeaked.

“Fine. You?”

“Oh I’m just great. It has been a super awesome week so far!”

“It’s Monday…” I stared straight ahead hoping she would take my monotone answers as a clue that she should stop talking to me.

“I know! That’s what makes it so great!”

How is she so damn chipper all the time? I’m on my third cup of coffee and can’t stop yawning. Even her ponytail seems perky.

“Well that’s great,” I said wondering why elevators didn’t move faster.

“How has your semester been?”

“Busy.”

“Oh yeah me too! I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been holed up in the library and we’re only four weeks in! I think I’m there like every day,” she giggled. “I’m always reading or something. It’s ridiculous! Like last Thursday I was there all day. It was so sad!”

“That does sound sad,” I said as the doors opened to let in another passenger.

Why didn’t I take the stairs? This is my punishment for being lazy.

“Oh! Oh! Guess what?!?”

Her news excited her so much she started waving her hands and bouncing around. I raised my eyebrow at her cheerleader impression, which seemed to encourage her to go on.

“You know, you know that really weird guy in our math class last semester? Well I totally ran into him yesterday. And guess what? I like got back home and guess who had friend requested me?”

“Dr. Suess?”

“You’re so funny! No! He totally likes me. I mean it’s so obvious. I was like eww! Can you imagine me and Jason? God that would be so funny!”

“Wait, Jason is the really weird guy you were talking about?”

“Umm duh,” she laughed as she twisted her hair around her finger. “Who did you think I was talking about?”

“I actually had no idea. Why do you think Jason’s weird?” This should be interesting.

“You know… he’s just so strange!”

I smiled. She just looked so uncomfortable. Maybe it was petty of me, but I figured I would try to entertain myself on this torturous ride upstairs.

“I don’t know I thought he was a really cool guy.”

She peered up at me. “Really?”

“Oh yeah. We talked a few times after class. He’s cute in a really unexpected way. I mean that smile is so adorable. I would definitely date him if I had the chance.”

“You would?”

“Yeah. That’s probably really dumb. I mean he’s obviously interested in you.”

She started tapping her finger on her lip. “He’s really interesting. Like to talk to and stuff. I hadn’t noticed his smile before, but now that you mention it he is pretty cute. Maybe I’ll give him a shot…”

Just then the cage dinged announcing my release. I smiled and turned to her as I walked out.

“Oh I’m so jealous! Well have fun.”

“Ok Bye,” she chirped.

———————————————————————————————————————————————-

Next week the elevator door opened to reveal the happy couple. I laughed as I walked past the metal doors to the stairwell. My roommate stared at them as we made our way to our floor.

“Wasn’t that Olivia?” she asked.

“Yep.”

“Who was that weird guy she was hanging all over?”

“His name is Jason.”

“He looks like a troll.”

“Well that’s just rude.” I said with a laugh.

“It’s true! God they make the weirdest couple!”

“I know. Poor Jason.”

She laughed as we climbed the last set of stairs.

Maybe taking the elevator wasn’t such a bad idea after all.

Cheaters Never Win… or So I Hope

Wednesday, January 30th, 2013

#2 Time to rant, rave, and foam at the mouth: the piece of mind you would like to give that old so and so. This is about anger.

 

C,

I fell for you. I fell for every line and every story. I believed you when you told me that I was different. Somehow I was the special one, the one that made all the other girls look like mistakes, the one that was worth your time and energy. I suppose you would know how different I was since you had some many other girls to compare me too. Was it all a lie? It makes me cringe to look back and see how wrong I was. I hate myself for liking you and I hate you for making me.

I don’t deserve you. Isn’t that what you told me so many times? I think that’s the only true thing you’ve ever told me. I know that now. I look at that picture we took together and I can tell that I’m ridiculously happy. I don’t usually smile for pictures like that. Normally camera’s can produce a polite smile, not a genuine one. But that smile was for you. Now the only thing I feel looking at that picture is hurt and anger and frustration, mixed with a little bit of self-loathing.

It’s hard to realize that you’ve wasted part of your life on someone who only pretended to care. I mean how could you care when you treated me like you did? You used me and then when you thought you were gonna get caught you threw me back without a single good excuse. What was it you said when you broke up with me? I’m actually not sure what your reason was there was so much bullshit to wade through. And what’s worse you expected everything to go on like normal. Even though you broke up with me, even though you made me cry you had no idea why anything had to change between us. I wish I had kicked you out sooner.

On top of being the most delusional person I’ve ever met you’re also extremely cruel. When I asked you to leave me alone, when I begged you to stop calling so I could move on you told me you missed me. You miss me? Maybe you shouldn’t have broken up with me then? I also find it hard to believe you missed me so much when you had another girlfriend to deal with. When I finally decided that we could be friends you tried to come visit me, even though I asked for a little distance. I often wonder what would have happened if you had. Maybe I could have been the one to yell and scream at you instead of your other girlfriend. How I would have loved to slap you in the face when I found out I wasn’t the only one. I certainly thought about kicking you in your favorite appendage enough times.

I didn’t deserve this and you should have known that. Now I can’t trust myself because I trusted you… completely, no questions asked, without a moment of doubt. I was so wrong about you and it makes me question everything. I hate you for turning me into this paranoid, self-doubting person. I was never that girl before all of this.

I hate you for building me up just to send me crashing back down. I was fine without you. I liked being single. I didn’t want or need you, at first, but you were so likeable. Even though I told everyone I didn’t care my heart jumped into my throat every time I saw you. I couldn’t keep the stupid grin off my face. But you knew that too, didn’t you?

I hate you for never telling me the truth and then accusing me of lying. I’m causing problems in your life? Oh I’m so sorry. Perhaps you shouldn’t have fucked every girl you could while making promises to two others. So when you ask me if I did this or if I said that I would just like to say go ask your other girlfriend and thank you for never apologizing.

I will continue to ignore your phone calls. No we will never be friends on Facebook. For your own safety and my dignity please do not try to talk to me on campus. I don’t want to see you smile or laugh or have a happy life. I do not wish you well. In the end I hope that I’m the biggest mistake of your life because you were certainly the biggest mistake of mine.

Hoping I’ll never see you again,

S

P.S. I’m glad I have seen you. The extra 30 pounds you’ve gained makes me smile.

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