Creative Nonfiction

Hometown Memory Series

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This series of personal sketches was drawn from the ‘hometown memories’ of students in response to watching Lowell Blues, a short film by Henry Ferrini based on readings from Jack Kerouac’s written recollections of growing up in Lowell, MA.

– Fred Bouchard, Associate Professor of Liberal Arts

 

 

Road Trip

by Ian Deutsch

It was just before Valentine’s Day, sun rising up over the San Bernardino Mountains, begging to reach the Pacific Shore.  Weather was steady, nothing new, static, boring, nothing to look back on, look forward to, seventy degrees at dawn, dusk, everywhere in between.  California gave me life, but I never wanted it, it wanted me.  I was moving on to Boston, where every day was new with possibilities, not lonely like the west coast pleading with human souls to dig their toes into the sand, to cover up with blue blankets, wear diamonds like shoes, toast to the sexy, hip, drooling models that bleed for attention.  I was free, free to follow my love to the rocky side of the island, change the weather when we want to, change our fate faster than the tide rushing in, leave the old place behind, ebb and flow, flow as far as we can go, go gently in that haunted dream that is leaving home, home is where we are going.  Not where we are from, from dirty hills and muddy skies, to clean eastern moons and white mornings fresh with dew.

We were passing the southern coast, headed to Texas for a fancy time with Frankie and Annie Morris, two of the finest people we ever met.  They knew the drill, we can’t stay long, but Houston will be just the place to have a rest and maybe a night of drinks and dreams.  Frankie was the son of a hard-nosed old man with the best of intentions and selfish motives.  He never did get to make his own decisions, even though he believed he could think for himself, the inception of his freethinking was really implanted in his brain by his father at birth.  His mother a tiny woman, Tinkerbelle-sized beauty, never had her say in the matter, couldn’t save her boy from unwanted happiness.  Sad, really.  Annie, his sweetheart, the opposite of his father, his true savior.  One thousand, three hundred miles in 25 hours, through Nevada, Arizona, where some crazy old Navajo tried to drive us off the road for no reason, something about those California plates.  On through New Mexico and Oklahoma, into Texas for the first time, a long time it would be though.  Three days of Houston drinks, pool halls, and late winter nights, and we were off for the second leg, and straight to Boston.

You will never know a drive like a drive across that great big state, never ending, drive all day, ten hours, still here, like driving on a treadmill, seen that sign before, already passed that hitchhiker, saw that train a while back.  Still here, still in Texas, stuck, stuck forever.  We reached for New Orleans, we knew it was out there but where, who knows, swallowed up by Texas no doubt.

Finally, the south had come at last, the real south, the deep south, we stopped at a small little bar, re-tied the supplies on the roof, had a few drinks, heaven only knew what time it was, our concept of time had left us days ago, 45 hours of driving now.  She was my home, I was her home, and we made it this far.  It was a sad state, the day after Fat Tuesday, streets hung-over, lonely, like a love affair ended before it was over.  On through Jacksonville and up the old coast, the Atlantic guiding our way now, a few stops in the night, we couldn’t hold our eyes open, slept in a rest stop, too tight to fit, with our whole lives packed in the backseat and tied to the roof, wasn’t much of a rest, but at least the sun would keep us company when it woke up again.

Blink our eyes.  Blink again. Tears.

We had arrived, slept in a Wal-Mart parking lot until we could move in to our new apartment up on Centre St., but we didn’t care, no more cares, we made it.  In one piece, starving, tired, scared, happy, rested, full.  It was our time now, let’s make this our city, dig our toes into the sand, give birth to ourselves wrapped in a blue blanket with diamonds in the sand, waiting for us.

 

…there’s no place like…

by Margaret McCracken

I walk the same way home from kindergarten every single day. Left, walk straight. Left, right, straight, curve left, then straight on home to my goldfish and sprite. Home. Running free and wild. This is the world. The big world. Mommy will help us make beautiful pieces of art. I will draw, paint, glue, create. This is fun, but I can’t sit still. This is a big world and I’m a little girl. I want to run, jump, play, sing, scream, dance, explore. Mommy wants me to finish my drawing, but I am done – I don’t want to finish. I run to my garden. Ivy on the ground, trees in the air, me on the lone cinderblock, my dog on the other side of the fence. Mommy knows where I am, but she lets me be. She doesn’t like the garden, she thinks it’s too cluttered, but I’m happy here, I like the mess. It’s comforting.

Spinning, spinning. Up up, down down. “I want the prettiest horse!” my friend cries. I really don’t care, as long as I’m not in those silly seats. The seats don’t go up up, down down. It starts. We pass the capitol, Smithsonian castle, the pencil, the mall, and the museums on our majestic, paint chipped, fading horses. Faster. Capitol, Castle, Pencil, Mall. Capitolcastlepencilmall. So fast! Up up, down down! Up down! Up…and it stops. Again?! Mommy says no. We go to history museum, there’s an ice cream parlor there – a fancy one, with glass bowls, pretty booths, and the man behind the counter wears a funny diamond shaped hat. we get to pick out whatever we want! Yum! That’s not all though. We run through the museum. I’ve seen it before, but that doesn’t matter. Wait! The dollhouse! The big, beautiful dollhouse with a teeny tiny family. I wonder what it would be like to be that small. My little mind remembers the goal. My tiny feet scurrying as fast as they can, bumping through the hoards of tourists. I see them! The ruby slippers. I ask if they are the real ones, I always do, as if something might have changed from the last time I saw them. Mommy tells me they are real. I look down at my feet, and examine my ruby slippers. They aren’t the real ones though, I know because the red glitter gets everywhere – Mommy doesn’t really like that about them. I look up, then down. I know what to do. I click my heels three times, and whisper so quietly that I’m not even sure I’m actually talking. “There’s no place like home, there’s no place like home, there’s no place like home.”

Water. Lots of water. Hurricane Isabel. The neighborhood has found refuge at the neighbor’s house. I’m in the basement with the rest of the kids. The power hasn’t gone out yet, but we stole the solar lanterns from everyone’s yards, so we’re prepared. Madden is brought out. They go for the touchdown and they – the power goes out. Controllers go flying. We don’t stop though. My friend grabs a football. We run. The parent’s have migrated to the porch across the street. No one can stop us now. The game is continued in the middle of the road. Wind is everywhere, we can hardly stand. Running, running, throw! The football flies backwards. Interception! Touchdown!

Grandma drives me home from school every day. Up and down the GW parkway. We start in Arlandria, then past DC, then home. We follow the edge of the Potomac River, zooming past the monuments. Seeing all of DC from a Prius. I’ve seen it all before though, I don’t really care. Grandma talks a lot, but I don’t mind. Some days I zone out. I’m a middle schooler – I’m too cool for this. Some days I realize she won’t be here forever – Those are the good days, the days I ask questions.

Water. Lots of water. Three feet of it in the basement. The couches float. The TV is still on. Everything is gone. Home videos, gone. Pictures, gone. My toys, gone. Not everything is ruined, but it’s pretty bad. The summer of growing up fast.

I can’t breathe. The smoke from the fire manages to find me, no matter where I sit. It’s okay though. We reminisce. All seventy of us, crammed around a fire.  “You all are such beautiful people!” we cry together. End of high school. End of piggyback races to class, naps in the hallway, classes at Starbucks, and painting on the wall. I realize that I went to one of the few schools that encouraged the defacing of school property. Everyone else has realized this too –High school is going to be so hard to explain to all the new people we will soon meet. We laugh.

Next week I go to college. Mom has been helping me pack since June though, so I’m all ready. It’s my last day of work. Nanning. Three boys. Six, eight, ten. They love to run and jump and scream and play. I take them to DC. We walk up to the capitol. “you’re right, it is big!” we sit, eat lunch, and I take in sights. Won’t see this for four, maybe five months. We walk back to the museums. I freeze. The carousel  is being taken down. Reasons run through my head. Maybe they take it down in the winter…no, they’ve never done that. Maybe restoration…I hope. I force myself to keep walking. I’ve promised the boys a treat. They love military history, so I’m taking them the museum. We go in the exhibit, pouring over everything. We have some spare time, so we go to the cars. We finish that. I look at the clock. Twenty minutes until we have to leave. We have time. We go upstairs, scurrying past the tourists. There they are. The ruby slippers. “are they real?” I smile and nod yes. I look down at my feet. I’ve outgrown my ruby slippers, so my sneakers will have to do. I click my heels three times, and whisper so quietly that I’m not even sure I’m talking. “There’s no place like home, there’s no place like home, there’s no place like home.”

 

Hometown Belgrade

by Katerina Pejak

The Belgrade of my childhood was a little street and a backyard, apricot trees and a big tall pine. A shabby staircase led to my house and I had scabs on my knees from falling on them again and again. Home smelled like roast peppers, crepes, and old humid walls.

Then we moved away from the quiet little street to the center, The Green Circuit Street, where buses roar day and night people are like ants, always going, going. The Gypsies selling socks and umbrellas yell and grey skies frown down on the whole sight. The smell of home changed into warm concrete and fuel from a million cars, but it’s still home.

Stole the Piper blows his pipe on the station just like he’s been doing for the past twenty years, and he tells jokes with his brandy smothered voice… When I was little and my dad took me walking downtown, I was afraid of him. Now his pipe puts me to sleep. On weekends he disappears and he comes back with a clean shirt and a clean hat. By the end of the week, he has no shirt, no hat, just his Rashomon-like coat hanging off his back in rags.

Stole never sleeps, he is the engine of the city, he’s on duty, always there, no matter what goes on in the streets. He walks through riots like he’s taking a stroll contributing by always blowing his old pipe. He salutes women in skirts, he salutes church processions. The only music he knows is the tune playing in his head, God knows why, nobody knows what’s wrong with him, and no one even cares to ask anymore. He walks with the rich and the poor; he can go anywhere. He’s the symbol of miserable freedom you can only have when you don’t have anyone or anything.

When I lay in my bed listening to his rusty voice, I can’t help but think that Belgrade itself is a bit like this old underground character. Mad, completely isolated, but free. And all of us are in it, like dancers without music, living our strange little lives in this little madhouse called Serbia.

When you look at Belgrade from one of its bridges, you’ll recognize its tired smile, wrinkled and gray, but still a smile. It awaits you with its arms wide open, like an old worn-out hooker who knows her customers and is always up for it. It’s a smile soaked in memories — you’ll see it, or is it just me? Maybe that’s the smile all people see when they come home.

 

Cornfield Sonata

by Morgan Williams

When I am young and naïve and careless, and stupid; when I am awkward, and nerdy and innocent and dreaming of the day when I’ll finally leave the Illinois cornfields behind; when I am just beginning to realize the difference between what I’ve been given and the things I truly want instead—at this age I actually happen to be the smart one. At this age, when my mind is teetering back and forth between boys and popularity and boys and popularity and boys but never actually landing on either, much less getting close enough to one in order to taste what I assume would be exhilarating, fascinating and perfect; failing to meet the blonde-haired, blue-eyed expectation of Midwestern beauty which I then wanted so badly to encompass—yes, this is when I am told I can be anything I want to be.

I was “gifted” then. I had the pleasure-curse of being the token black girl all my years in school district 186 because I could count and add and subtract and multiply and divide and isolate and solve and graph and find the limit. Because I loved to learn! Because my parents showed me School House Rock and Cyberchase and Arthur and told me that no, we weren’t going to the movies—we were going H to the O to the M to the E, and that I needed to eat three-fourths of the Brussels sprouts on my plate, or I would be getting four-fourths of a spanking. Because later on I truly “fell in like” with Calculus and the way the numbers always lined up and how there was always a clear-cut answer for everything, just like the answer to whether or not SHG would cream us in football again or whether or not I would attend community theater auditions with all the other Springfieldians who had nothing better to do. People knew I would excel because I surprised them all. People treated me differently once they heard me sing or play because I had the gift of musical healing, too; they actually wanted to talk to me, hear my opinion. Back then people actually encouraged me to follow my heart.

Then I did. The response was a little different than I expected. I think most people assumed I was going to pursue Music Education, or Psychology with a minor in Music, or even just Musical Theater like every other Springfield choir kid. My parents actually knew my heart and their own hearts and how easy and secure and reasonable and unfulfilling that Math degree would be for me and how foreign and illogical and humbling and perfect that Music degree would be. How much I just really needed to leave. In the end they loved me the same. Secretly, sometimes I almost (almost) wished that Berklee said no so that I could go on wallowing in my pride and waving around that giant U. I could put the bumper sticker on my guitar case, so people knew which music school I was going to but also knew that I could go back to Math at any point if I wanted and bathe in the warm Miami sun, knowing that I had finally escaped the prison that is corn. I knew where my heart truly lied, though, so I packed up my room and changed my Facebook location to Boston (and to my shame probably also wrote some prideful status about “leaving the patch”), suppressed my excitement for 20 short hours and drove with my parents to the east coast.

Maybe it’s a relatable memory, maybe not. I guess I don’t really care whether or not someone else’s experience fits my own, though, because this is a Hometown memory. And my hometown was a true hometown where people know who you are and you know all the people and choices matter and friends change when exposed to the true city, the type of town where people look down on the community college and people look down on the trade school and people worship the out-of-state. In my hometown, the folly of children is romanticized and coddled while the dreams of men and women are hushed and unimportant. Because ironically enough, money is everything in Cornland and fulfillment is nothing.

 

Jazz Musician for a Weekend

by Magnus Bakken

The tenor player flew elegantly through the changes. A short melodic phrase. Then a long run, down the bop scale. It was late October and the jazz festival had changed my hometown into a totally different place. Usually I would do the same stuff every week; saxophone lesson, marching band, and maybe some sports from time to time, but once a year the festival happened. Me and my friend Andreas had signed up for a seminar; young musicians would get to study with jazz students, and play together in combos.  And now our mentors were playing a short concert for us. The saxophonist left me speechless. He went outside the chords, all the way up in altissimo, then back inside the changes, leaving me with an eager to get my own horn out and figure out what he just played.

When the first day of lessons came to an end, Andreas and me were ready to hit up the jazz clubs and hear some live music. We decided we should try and make all the important shows, beginning with Dave Liebman. I could hear him warming up from outside as we approached the club. The quiet tones of his saxophone could barely be heard from the doorway, but as we walked closer to the stage they filled me up with joy. We occupied a table all the way in the front, only inches from the bell of his saxophone. I was caught in Liebman’s mellow tones on the soprano. With no introduction they started blowing on a tune I’d never heard before. The melody was over before I could even wrap my head around what was going on, and they went into the solo section and beyond. As the concert progressed they went places I never tough to be possible, changes were no longer present, and everything was about the moment. The guitar player laid out, and as Liebman screamed in the high register, the drummer responded with an intensity I had never heard before.

But it was time to go. The next show started in five, and we rushed out through the door: sad that we had to leave, but happy that the night was far from over.

We ran through the street, passing drunks and occasionally some famous musician. The city we knew so well had turned into a beautiful playground for us to explore. We took a shortcut through an alley, and ended up at the next concert just seconds before it was supposed to start. The line was huge, and we were prepared to wait for at least another ten minutes. We waited. Ten minutes, still a long line of people outside. Fifteen, and they closed the doors. People were still trying to buy tickets, but it was all sold out. I cursed myself for leaving Dave Liebman and walked back outside. We looked at each other, Andreas sighed, and we got ready to go back and catch five more minutes of Liebman.

Suddenly, I got an idea.

“Come!” I yelled to my friend, and rushed back inside. He seemed confused, but decided to follow. As I entered the main door of the building, I turned the opposite way of where the line was, and headed for backstage.

“I play here every week, and if we could sneak in backstage, we might be able to hear something,” I explained, running trough corridors that were so familiar. Surprisingly there were no one trying to stop us, and suddenly we were right behind the stage. I looked around and found a door that I knew lead to where they kept the grand piano when it wasn’t in use. We could hear music now, and before we realized it, we were directly underneath the stage.

This music was calmer, as the musicians were signed with ECM. I could see the pianist’s silhouette through the gaps between the wooden planks that made up the stage. He hummed along as he played the most wonderful melodies. The elements of folk music painted me a picture of sounds, and as I closed my eyes the music took me to another world.

The musicians played a wonderful set, and as they finished the last tune, I woke up from my trance in a hurry to get out before someone noticed us. We passed a couple of people, but they made no attempt to stop us, and again we found ourselves running down the poorly lit streets while the clock was ticking towards midnight.

 

“One, two, three, four!” The band started playing ridiculously fast, and I smiled at my buddy. We got to the jam about 15 minutes early, I picked up my horn on the way, and if an opportunity presented itself I had decided to play. The band was unknown, but they all sounded really great. The tunes lasted longer now, lots of soloist. They were all much older than me, would they let me sit in on a tune?

The band finished of their opening set with ‘Autumn Leaves’ and opened up the jam session. The first person to go up there was an older guitar player. He sounded great on some standard I just couldn’t recall the name of, and even better on ‘All of You’.

The crowd clapped their hands for the guy, and he took a seat again.

“Any horn player’s out there?” The leader of the band looked around the room and his eyes met mine.

“What about you, young man? You wanna bring that tenor up and play?”

I froze. This was my chance, but what should I call? Would they be mad if I called the wrong tune? Could I hang? Andreas gave me a friendly punch on the shoulder, and I stood up. The crowd clapped, and I stumbled up on the stage, my tenor case in my hands. The spotlights were warm, and I felt a drop of sweat running down my forehead.

“So What?” I mumbled with the reed in my mouth. No one heard me. I put the reed on the mouthpiece and said it again.

“So What?” They all nodded this time, thank God! I blew some air trough the horn, and then we started. I came in a little late on the first hits in the horns, but I got it together and the next time I was right on. People smiled when they heard the tune, some even said ‘yeah.’ I took the first solo, starting of just like Miles did, and I got a friendly laugh from the piano player. I played one more ‘safe’ lick, then I was all calmed down, taking nice and deep breaths. I think I played three or four choruses, I can’t even recall, time just went by in a totally different way when I played with these people. As I took the horn out of my mouth, the crowd gave me a nice applause, and I stepped aside for the rest of the group to solo. They all sounded great! I played the head out, and as we landed on the last chord, I saw my dad clapping in the back of the club. My night was over, but the festival had just begun.

 

Hometown Memories

by Kayla Zuskin

The stars dangle like a child’s mobile in the back of my mind,

A six-year-old’s eyes gaze up at the night sky.

Filled head to toe with the sleepless excitement of being awoken at 4 am,

By Mom and Dad, wrapping me up in scarves, hats, blankets and arms.

To the middle of a field huddled against my sister’s five-year-old body.

We can barely move as we drink hot cocoa from a thermos.

Soldier’s Delight on a cold November night.

The sky is raining meteors. It’s a shower.

 

Four years later in October dinnertime,

through the lattice, gourds and Christmas lights,

you can see the balls of fire waking up from the day.

Tarp walls with maps of elsewhere and happy new years,

It is sukkot and the sky is the only thing that hasn’t changed since

Those forty years spent in the desert.

Except Maryland isn’t Egypt.

 

Teenage mischief in the last breathes of darkness.

Dive in naked, dive in deep,

The water is cold and the air is colder.

The stars are winking as girls giggle.

Another four years past and wrapped in towels.

Skinny and pale in the middle of June,

We watch the sun rise over the suburbs.

 

Bare feet dance over the dewy grass,

We fall to our backs and look up,

Pointing out the constellations.

As our legs are bitten by mosquitoes,

Orion’s belt ties us together.

Sharing secrets, sharing stories,

We sing that “we’re somewhere in the stratosphere”.

That summer we all drank deep from the big dipper.

 

One second you’re walking across the stage diploma in hand,

And a week later you find yourself sitting on the sand.

Intoxicated with possibility.

Waves crashing on everything that was the last twelve years.

In the hot sunshine, in a cool night.

Laying on a green roof inhaling salty air.

You ask me what I think when I look at the stars.

Interrupted by security guards and flashlights.

 

The end of summer and I’m leaving,

Glow in the dark plastic stuck to the ceiling.

The closest the stars will be for the next four winters.

It’s all that I will miss from Reisterstown,

The stars twinkling and winking from their place overhead.

They know more than I will ever understand.

 

The Clearing

by Nia Metcalf-Thomas

August 27, 2006

*

Washington, DC, our Nation’s Capital, home of the misrepresented and taxed. Let’s zoom in a bit further, say approximately 12 miles North East of there, lies a house. No, not a house…a home; Home of the pampered disconnected “struggling” artist, a home where it all began, well at least fast forwarded 6 years, a slight right at the corner of 23rd Ave. just off Riggs road and you’ll find the place where it originated. I lived at my Muskogee home for about two years before the changes began, the four of us; my mother, father, sister, and I, tolerated a comfortable lifestyle in our six bedroom split level home. In the mornings we started separate days all at variable times so we often passed each other without notice. Rather I was often looked over and un-noticed, silently failing behind in my studies and spinning into a new darkness, that was the beginning to my new beginning. I longed for adventure, un-charted journey. Just your irregular, far from average teenager, finding myself right in any, and every situation possible.  My mother and I experienced high-leveled emotions whenever we graced each other’s presences; if we weren’t laughing hysterically we were bickering uncontrollably with false hope of amends. The ritual was set and damn near impossible to break. It was the comfort of the large house that drew a deeper wedge between us all. Soon enough the time came and I moved into basement. The new distance now made it so that our paths barely ever crossed. Late mornings bled to early evenings, and nocturnal nights just to bring in a few more dollars. Things were changing again. The change in mood of my home at Muskogee was anything but slight, my mother told me that morning she lots her job, and it was then I knew. My time had come to step forward and take over. The groomed my talents well from the womb so it wasn’t hard to see the next step. I quickly found a small teaching job in a familiar town nearby. Hyattsville, I would pass through almost daily after school to hang with friends and lose all common sense, but know there was no such time for such childish acts. The kids ranging in age from 5-11 years old, listened intently as I was introduced as their new music instructor. We went over some basic theory and laid out a map of the instruments. The forty-five minutes flew by in no time with the help of their constant inquisitive gazes and repeatedly up stretched questioning hands. It was nearing closing time and my brain was running faster than my body could function, not that this was something new as I always found myself tripping over thoughts to catch my main ideas, and before I knew it I drifted off a next days away.

*

November 15, 2008

*

Now 2 years and 4 months later, she was no longer in control, her mind had taken over her dreams and reality blended. When she slept she walked and dreamt as she talked. She had lost her grip on reality. Through tight squeezed eyes she yawned as the sun slipped in through the blinds and stretched across her caramel toned skin. Inch by inch, her body awakening, as natures warmth illuminated the final traces of a nightmare. Although the physical remnants were fading now, the mental scar would forever burn leaving a story within its mark. Her body slid seamlessly over the sheets of her twin-sized mattress as she sat up to get out of bed. Wriggling her toes one by one before she placed them firmly on the shag carpet lining her room. Wincing slightly from the pain on her bruised ribs as she pushed off the bed with two almost perfectly manicured hands. Now that her cuticles were no longer blood encrusted she could stand to admire her nails again. Even though it didn’t take much to imagine how only days ago it appeared as if she was forced to dig her own grave with her bare hands. It hurt less and less everyday but the pain was always there right beneath the surface, fighting for the slightest wisp of oxygen, so it could grow and blaze like an open campfire spewing glowing embers that danced against the night sky…But why, the million dollar question that paced across her mind so often these last few days it branded a permanent path behind her eyelids. A path that was all too familiar to; not only her mind, but her feet, her nose, her taste buds.

Every Thursday she walked through the clearing in the trees. Past the hole that was wider and deeper every time she passed, because the neighbor hood kids always kicked in its edges, wondering where the dirt would go as they watched it fall in, but never fill up. She would walk through the clearing and smell the MSG ridden chicken wafting out the open doors of the carryout. The smell would make anyone’s mouth water, once they were starving and homeless that is. Sometimes the aroma was so strong it seemed to coat everything within a miles radius, Dampening all sound and activity so that anyone passing by wouldn’t even notice if someone was being murdered because they couldn’t hear the screams, or at least that’s how it seemed to her last Thursday. Except she heard every sound from the twigs snapping beneath their weight, to the fire engines roaring across the street just through the bushes lining the clearing. Her clearing, she knew the area like a child its mother. So how could this happen to her here in her place…her Sanctuary. She would go there to relax and get away from the world only this time there was no escape. It was late November and the air tasted of snow but every night the school children’s prayer for a day off were left unanswered. Maybe the snow would’ve cushioned the blows, softened the fall, muted the emotion. But there was none, no snow. No fairytale endings or cotton candy and rainbows. Only the butt of his gun against the side of her head, and the ringing in her ears. The sharp pain that jolted her back to reality as she fell onto the rocks and sticks that lined the clearing. She prayed he would pull the trigger so that the shot would ring out, and people would come running.

But he didn’t,

and they didn’t.

It was as though the world stood still to stand by and watch, a pending request for an end to it all. The only thing that moved was her stomach as she fought to hold back the bile that he churned up inside her. She watched the spot where gold wrapper landed after he mindlessly tossed it. Focused on the black lettering anything to keep her mind away from this obscene reality. But it wasn’t enough he snatched her head back from the safety of her imagination bringing the truth of it all flooding back so fast it caused an almost migraine. She tasted the coarse blood coated screams as they erupted from her throat. Watched as the words echoed inaudibly into the air. Rolling aimlessly out of her mouth, mixing with the tears and dirt. Blending with the poison in his spit.

NO…

Dingy white letters on a pasty red hexagonal outline, mud-streaked and rain-stained. Passed by without a second glance or the slightest concern.

STOP…

But rules were meant to be broken, right? Just as promises aren’t fulfilled.

“I won’t hurt you…I promise.”

His tongue lactating lies as the words seeped through cleaned tobacco stained teeth that formed a grin like no other she’d seen before. Something closely related to a snarl in every sense possible, but like it knew something she didn’t, something that was amusing. The twisted humor-seasoned expression plastered across his wicked face. Trapezeing between his beady eyes, eyes so cold you got chills from looking into them. A seaport to an abyss of black death, an ocean of sinful morals. One that probably bled tears that were dark and emotionless if any at all, trickling down and around a slightly bent nose. From her perspective he was like some dark odd hastily put together modern art piece, minus the art. Nothing about him or his actions was worthy of the title art. Being the Christian she was, she understood that everyone was made in God’s image but for the life of her she could not find a morsel of her Savior’s being in this man. It seemed he seeped evil and lewd remarks. Nothing good could come out of a man, no, a creature that grunted like a pig to announce satisfaction. Taking away from her something precious, a gift that could not be re-gifted no matter how you wrapped it. She lay there and felt him twitch and squirm waiting for the final act. She was tired of trying to wriggle away it seemed he only found more pleasure in that, but this wasn’t the end, no way in hell was she not going to have the last say. That was one thing that would always remain the last words was hers no matter who had any objections that’s just the way it was. She was told she’d make a great lawyer some day arguing for some played cause she half-heartedly believed. Some times she’d argue just to her herself speak, she was a fighter had the heart of a warrior, and she was waiting patiently to make her next move.

She thought about all she had to lose if this didn’t work out and she was at peace with herself and would be with her decisions no matter what. Something slight tugged at the corners of her mouth as she felt the anticipation building inside of her, a pot of boiling noodles nearly cooked to perfection.

He looked down at her and must have thought this was his doing. “You like that, huh?” He grunted again like a filthy hog fighting for its place at the trough.

It took everything in her to fight the temptation, his gun lay only inches out of her reach but she couldn’t go for it now, he still had the upper hand. She let him wear his self down, climaxing with his final thrust. She watched him stand fully erect, it was like something straight from the chain of evolution, except his brain belonged somewhere around the beginning of it all.

It was time.

She looked past him, eyes widening in horror at nothing in particular, just convincing enough to capture his attention for two seconds. Just as she hoped he turned searching for the sight that had caught her attention so abruptly. She seized the moment grabbed the gun and looked down his barrel straight into his heart, and then she centered it between his eyes. She saw everything she needed in his eyes, eyes she thought possessed no emotion but she saw differently now. She saw the desperate girl that lay in the clearing; she saw the confusion that glazed his eyes caught like a deer in headlights. She felt all of him pulsing inside of her but she was different; bigger than his infantile morals, stronger than all his will power combined.

She lowered the gun…

Up until today she thought innocence was shed as maturity moved in, but she saw life through different eyes, understanding now that innocence remains until taken leaving in it’s place its hardened outline projecting an ever false sense of security. Inhibiting one to ever completely love without regret or second thought. Things appeared just a bit colder, the sweet fruits she so loved were always a little tarter, and the world itself just seemed a lot darker than before,

Always worried about what’s around the corner,

Always left looking over its shoulder.

…she fired, not to kill but to inform.

The shot rang out carrying her point across loud and clear in its echo. He flinched as his wounded leg buckled beneath the weight of his body performing a disoriented dance, arms flailing wildly to grab hold of anything that might slow his descent. But there was nothing; nothing but the snapped twigs to catch his fall. This time he squealed, like the grunt of the litter, fighting for a turn at its mother’s nipple. Not even worthy enough amongst it’s own kin. He lay there, helpless, his shriveled manhood exposed as he unsuccessfully tried to nurse his wound and cover himself, shouting lewd obscenities to mask his pain and discomfort. She took one last look at the incompetent scumbag and placed her foot square across his neck. Shifting her weight to silence him, taunting him with her eyes daring him to object. With a swift kick to the side of his head she turned and walked away tossing the gun deep into the shrubbery, her pace quickening until she was in full sprint, and she ran head high, shoulders squared never once looking back over her shoulder.

*

October 10, 2011

*

I find my grasp has tightened

Regaining strength.

I find my song has brightened

Soul deep and he

Who was my hometown taught lessons free,

lessons that have steered and enlightened me.

The horrors that lie deeply nestled in the bosom of DC

Will find the light that shines through me.

Though then I ran and refused to see,

I know now that has hence made me; me.

About Us:

FUSION is Berklee College of Music's global forum of writing, visual art, and music that engages notions of interconnectivity and interdisciplinary approaches to the arts. We publish high-quality literature, journalism, film/video, photography, and multimedia projects by our community as well as internationally recognized artists. We also invite essays on the rich relations between music and the other arts; translations; and works employing fusion as theme, concept, or inspiration. FUSION is a celebration of the arts, responding to E.M. Forster's charge, “Only connect!”