Wednesday, December 30, 2009

The New Year

What I'm Listening to: Speed of Sound (Coldplay) The New Year is a very frightening prospect. Behind all the fireworks, sparkling cider, and light shows is the underlying idea of self-improvement. When you think about it, almost everybody has a New Year's resolution of some sort. And if you ask someone and he or she has none, well, he must be pretty darn perfect. Every year, we compose a list of qualities we secretly know we can never attain. The resolutions last six months or so, tops. And then we fall back into our old ways and pretend like we never even tried. Then the New Year rolls around again and the cycle repeats itself. I wish I could say there's an easy way to avoid this--there's not. It happens to me every year. I'm just glad I serve a God who doesn't require perfection, whether by resolutions or acts of goodness.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

The ACT and Surgery

What I'm Listening to: Heaven Forbid (The Fray) After finishing a quiz today, I sat silently at my desk and compared standardized tests and surgery. I found an impressive amount of similarities: Both require that you not drink or eat. Most people find both quite stressful (there's often pain involved, too). Everyone eagerly--or worriedly, in some cases--anticipates the results. Both involve a treeful of paperwork. There's a lot of chance associated with both--the surgery depends on the skill of the doctor and the ACT or SAT depends on the random assortment of questions. But the most significant similarity is the make-it-or-break-it stakes. As you may or may not have figured out, I'm preparing to take a standardized test (the ACT, to be exact). My nerves are more or less fried, so thankfully After the Crash has already been penned. I would just like to point out that this, part eight, is the highly anticipated finale of After the Crash (which means I have to find a new piece of work to publish...) Well, here it is: Liberation My wet lashes flutter. I wonder idly if it's from the snow. And then I remember it's been weeks since I've merely breathed fresh air--let alone been in the snow. I used to be able to count on one hand the times I've cried. Now I need two. I sweep a finger under my eye and the tear comes away clear and unclouded. It's been weeks since I've worn makeup. I might stop altogether. It's kind of nice, not checking for mascara stains. "This is the day you're released," the kitten-clothed scrubs lady says, adjusting my awkward clavicle cast and helping me sit up. "It still hurts," I say in confusion. She tells me it will for a while, sweetie. But I will get better. She sets the clothes I wore the day of the crash on the bed, washed and unstained. I stand up on my own for the first time in weeks and slip out of the horrible hospital gown. It slithers slowly the floor and lands in a blue-and-white heap. The checkered white floor chills my bare feet and I shiver, quickly climbing into my clothes. I am wearing a white T-shirt, a black sweatshirt, and pants. For the snow, I presume. I throw back the curtain on the right and make my way to the bathroom. The sweatshirt hangs loosely on my impossibly smaller-than-usual frame. I'm betting IVs don't include Death by Chocolate. But wouldn't that be ironic? I take off my sweatshirt and knot it around my waist. It clicks distantly in my mind that I'm going to have to walk out of the hospital barefoot. I turn on the icicle-emitting spigot and splash my face with a frigid wake-up call. I then attempt to brush my teeth without a toothbrush. I am ready. My feet pat softly down the clouded-sky hallway. I throw back my curtain and my hand hesitates at the one on the left. Slowly, slowly I pull it back. There is confusion in his eyes. Then comprehension. Then ecstasy. Only then do I notice the elevated cast next to me. The pain on his face that he is so heroically hiding. "I knew you'd come," he whispers, his teeth set in a concealed grimace. Somehow, strangely, I did too. At first I didn't want it, but now it's...different. "I don't--can't--leave you," I say, looking like the sorry state that I am. He grins some more, and then scrawls an address to my new life on a Pepto-Bismol colored pad. And then I do the inevitable. I walk away. David doesn't--can't--know what he's done for me. At least not yet. Several passerbys glance austerely at my bare feet and I stifle a grin. If they'd been through all that I've been through, the last thing they'd be thinking of would be bare feet. But here I am, unshod, and it's snowing again. I am healing, but I'm not well. I am like a manuscript. What was written is written and there's no going back. But I'm open to reading. At least, by people I risk enough to let into my heart. Like David. The cry for a taxi freezes on my white, cloudy breath as I screech to a halt. I fly back, back to the curtain. Somehow I'm going to have to fake sick for a while.

Friday, December 4, 2009

Walking Home

What I'm Listening to: Different Names for the Same Thing (Death Cab for Cutie) Being sixteen and not having your own car is practically murder. Especially when you have a license. I am one of those many unfortunate, carless teenage souls. I draw the line when it comes to riding the bus, though. Parents, if they choose not to invest in their teenagers in this area, should be obligated to drive them to school to save them from the horrors of the bus. The only problem with that is my parents are both frequently late and forgetful. After half an hour of waiting outside the high school in sub-freezing temperatures, I called my mom and told her I was walking home. She met me after I had walked about a mile and apologized for losing track of time. Shivering and shaking, I massaged my frozen legs and nodded. Despite the cold, I have to admit the walk was pretty nice. Maybe it was my feeling of independence; maybe it was my suddenly slowed pace. But either way, it felt good to get outside and breathe the crisp, cool Washington air. If it weren't so cold, maybe I'd walk home from school once in awhile. And now the long-awaited seventh installment of After the Crash: Bronze I am horrified to realize I have drifted off...again. "David!" I croak. "David's in surgery," a voice says from behind the curtain. "Who are you?" "Just the nurse," he replies. A man-nurse? What else is new? I purse my lips together and ask politely what surgery he is having. He tells me David fell out of his bed last night and broke his leg again, and a few bones in his wrist. My eyes open wide. I ask him if he will be all right. He tells me oh, yes. It will just take a while, is all. I let a breath out hesitantly. I am beginning to get a strange sense of déjà vu. I outlined my eyes in a black pencil and stepped into a knee-length boring black dress. I examined my face in the mirror and sighed. Why in the world did I put on eyeliner today? The streaks only added to my sense of melancholy. I let down my hair that I had tied into a bun. The less people that saw my miserable state, the better. My boots were somewhere under the piles of clothes and junk food, but I had no idea where. Somewhat reluctantly, I settled for a simple pair of black flats. A fluid, single note stirred the blood in my veins. The doorbell. I smoothed my skirt and stood up, letting several shirts and shoes fall to the floor. "Coming," I called emotionlessly. The girl at the door had flaxen hair and a blank expression. "You must be the boss," I said almost kindly. "Oh. I guess he told you about me." "Vaguely," I admitted, and shook her cold, lifeless hand. She led me to her car--a white Lexus--and I climbed in. The journey was spent in perfect silence. I stared out the window, watching the cars and pedestrians, thinking they had it so much luckier than I. The girl and I stood next to each other, next to the gaping hole in the ground and the caramel-colored box with a nameplate of bronze. His name. The color I had only so recently associated with his hair, never to grow again. "How did this happen?" I heard myself say in barely a whisper. The boss said someone came into the firm with a gun and shot whoever was in sight. She could never have done anything. She was lucky they got him--and not her. I don't think she understood me. I knew the fundamentals. But why? How? I had not idea. I gazed at his normally tan face, his bloodless lips, his shut brown eyes. He was beautiful even in death. I reached out a hand and touched him softly on the lips only I--and I presumed his manager--had known. They were cold and stiff with fatality. I shuddered and drew away my hand. Forever how I would remember him: cold, lifeless, and dead. Not the vitality and bronze I had come to love.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

A New Kind of Ready

What I'm Listening to: Clocks (Coldplay) As the beginning chords of "New Year" sounded, I sleepily rolled out of bed and stumbled into the bathroom adjacent to my bedroom. I turned on my shower and climbed in once it was warm enough. After massaging shampoo and conditioner into my hair, I rinsed my hair, scrunched it and put on makeup. I then blow-dried my bangs and straightened them. The last step was to grab my watch, purse and backpack from my room. Suddenly, I glanced at my bedside table and stared in horror.
The alarm clock proudly declared 11:59!
I thought I had been running a little late, but I was actually ready seven hours early. Which left me the dilemma of what to do with my hair. I couldn't exactly sleep on it wet, because everyone knows doing that makes it flattened on one side and lumpy on the other. But nobody sacrifices seven hours of sleep for a good hair day either. Fatigue won out and I ended up arriving at school with hair slightly less attractive than when I fixed it. Nevertheless, life carried on as usual and I was no worse for the wear. And now for part six of After the Crash... Echo Tracks It wasn't very unusual for him to call. So why was my stomach filled with a sickened sense of dread? The small cell phone at my side beeped incessantly, waiting for me to answer it. "Hello?" I said, my voice cracking. I recognized his voice at once. Only, it wasn't a voice he'd ever used with me. It was the hesitant, sorrowful voice of a boy about to break up with his girl. In this case, moi. "Hi, baby," I said, already choking. He told me it was all political, really. Had he told me he had a new job?--that's why he never seemed to be here anymore. His boss was a girl who was in love with him, and if he dated her, he would get a promotion. Of course he still loved me. Of course he wanted to be with me. Of course he would stay with me--the relationship with his blond, sexy superior was merely for political reasons. Somehow I managed to hold back the bile. I told him okay, that I wasn't that interested. He hung up and I ran through the list of possible ailments: Blind Deaf Stupid My eyes filled with broken, angry tears. I tore through the house, heaving glass and timber alike to the floor. Through my blurred vision, I made my way to the front door. Silently, I stood there, looking at his many Echo tracks. Imagining where he stood last. How he looked when he kissed me...for the last time. Sitting on the porch and looking at the pearls and diamonds he'd always promised to get for me would never be the same. I could never honestly enjoy a night under the stars ever again. I was devastated. Broken. Used. I broke down on the steps and cried, listening vainly for his pleasant, husky voice. Telling me he was sorry. He never liked that Blond anyway. He didn't really need the job. But no. I was left in dreadful, breathtaking silence.

Monday, November 30, 2009

An Almost-Collision

What I'm listening to: Better Together (Jack Johnson) I almost died on Friday night. Well, more accurately, a skater almost died Friday night. Let me explain: on the car ride home from Safeway, I noticed a faint outline of a person standing in the middle of the road. At first it looked so freaky and ghostlike I thought I only imagined it, but seconds later I was screaming, "Oh my gosh! Oh my gosh! Oh my gosh!" (In my shocked state, I guess I couldn't articulate something like, "Dad, stop the car! There's someone in the road!") Nevertheless, the message translated in just enough time for Dad to slam on the brakes and scream a warning to the retreating form. Adrenaline drizzling away, I leaned back against the seat. I still couldn't get the image of us crashing into that guy out of my head. Thankfully we didn't hit him, but I'm never going to second-guess what I see again. And speaking of car crashes, here's the next portion of After the Crash: (Oh, and just in case you're being a little lazy, the narrator has flashbacks in this one) Many Happy Returns His halo the color of burnished bronze did not hold my attention. Though his intelligent, soft pools of melted chocolate gazed at me, they were not my primary concern. His perfect mouth touched my smaller one, and my frenzied heart threatened to attack. I awake in the same frantic state. A short woman wearing pink kitten scrubs rushes in. "Are you all right?" she asks. I tell her I just had reconstructive surgery three days ago. Her pink mouth sets in a firm line as she fills a needle with clear liquid. My eyes open wide as she injects the medicine into my IV. Maybe they have those clapper lights in here, because there's a popping sound and the lights start to dim. I hold my breath as the nurse unwittingly sends me hurtling back into the past. He smiled again and I felt his hard, muscular arms wind around me. Heaven. I had a feeling that's the closest I would get, but that was just fine with me. "I'll pick you up tomorrow," he whispered into my hair. I would never wash it again. "Okay," I managed finally, pulling myself from his grasp and climbing up the stairs to my house. His sneakers crunched on the gravel as he made his way to his shiny new Echo. I held up my hand tentatively, watching it flutter like an autumn leaf. I stood outside long after he drove off, watching the dust settle and the night fall. Somehow, even though I watched it every night, the velvety black showcase of diamonds, with its large pearl centerpiece, never ceased to amaze me. I awake to the soft glow of morning. Artificial light shines from somewhere, hits the curtain, and glances off pink. Suddenly, I realize what woke me. A small, almost musical moaning drifts toward me from the other side of the curtain. "David!" I cry out in alarm. David doesn't say anything, and suddenly everything gets very quiet. The calm before the storm. Or possibly the devastation after it. I listen disparagingly for David's rich, calm voice. Nothing. All of a sudden, I feel very, very small and silently wish for him many happy returns.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

The Symbols in Sewing

What I'm listening to: Remember to Breathe (Dashboard Confessional) It turned out the lock down yesterday was only a drill. But I still think it's funny. Anyway, Thanksgiving is coming up (it's tomorrow, actually), so I made three pies this weekend--lemon icebox, pecan and pumpkin. The whole process took roughly five hours. Which is a long time to spend baking pies. I think I'm all pied out, if that's a word. If not, then it should be. I finally sewed up the foot-long hole in my pajama pants that I tore the day I moved here. The act felt extremely symbolic, as if sewing up my pants symbolized my healing and becoming almost myself after the move.
Or maybe I've just spent a little too much time in Honors English, which is far more likely.
Well, are you ready for Part Four of After the Crash? Here it is: Reconstruction It's Saturday again, and I have never once seen David. However, every day, without fail, he speaks to me. Today is no different. "Are you feeling any better?" he asks. "No," I say, honest as always. "That's too bad." "I guess so." He tells me he had surgery today. I tell him I heard him awake from it--he cried out five times. He doesn't say anything and I wonder if I have offended him. After two minutes of decadent silence, I gather the nerve to speak. "Did I offend you? You weren't very loud, you know." "No." He doesn't sound very convincing. I tell him it's very nice what he's doing for me. Again, silence. "I really do appreciate it," I try again. "So would you quit being so boneheaded about it?" "Sorry." I snort and turn over on my bed. And guys think girls are complicated? Reconstruction. R-E-C-O-N-S-T... For some reason, I can't remember how to spell it. I used to be a good speller. Before they invented Spell Check, that is. When laziness has leaked into spelling, you know society is deteriorating. "How do you spell reconstruction?" I ask. He spells it for me. "Why?" he has to ask. "I don't know. We're both having reconstructive surgery." He asks me why I didn't want to know reconstructive, not reconstruction. For once, I have no idea. The curtain is a light, Pepto-Bismolish pink, with small silver rings at the top. If only it didn't remind me so much of medicine, I might actually like it. For the first time in a long time, I begin to hope that I could be reconstructing more than my clavicle.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Lock Down

What I'm listening to: Fall Away (the Fray) As I left second period today, my mind was on school shooters. I considered writing a book about psychology and depressed teenagers for about six minutes. Then I went to class. In the middle of third period, the announcement bell sounded and an important, grave voice said, "This is a lock down. Teachers, please lock your doors. Code yellow." Well, it was something along those lines. And, of course, I just burst out laughing at that (and got a few you-must-be-an-idiot looks from some fellow students in the process). I must be a fortune teller. Or a freak. Either way, I'm not going to think about school shooters while at school again (which, of course, means I will). But, good news, my writer's block flew the coop and I penned the beginning to a fabulous poem called Sixty-Four today. I'll let you read that later, though. I still have to publish the rest of After the Crash. Well, here goes: Forever Twilight I awake in a shroud of hazy light. I know I'm not in heaven, for I've heard it's blissful there. It's not hell either, because the one person I know I would see doesn't materialize. I guess I"m stuck in limbo; serves me right. Gradually, the surrounding light funnels into pinpricks in the corners of my vision. I'm in another hospital bed, in another room. Just out of reconstructive surgery. I should have remembered their wheeling me out of the room. The blue-and-white hallway. The mask. The fog. But I don't remember any of it. Yet. "Where am I?" I ask groggily, my voice cracking in seven different places. No one answers. I suppose it's because I'm supposed to be sedated. Or dead. Whichever the doctor decided would be a better option for me. I abstractly wonder when my eyes are going to clear up and my mind will stop feeling like the after-effects of a nuclear war. Minus the pain. There never seems to be any pain anymore. I always await it--almost anxiously--because, for a few, brief moments, I am freed from my world of forever twilight. I wish I could say that I was emotional. But you see, I can't stand pain. Or crying. Or lying still in bed, like I am right now. At least, that's how I used to be. But things have changed with me. And with everyone. It's odd--the pain is always there, but it never quite emerges. Just a thought, an idea in my mind. Yet, at the same time it's so potent, so bitter, it churns my stomach. I used to have dreams, But they were dashed to pieces on the shores of reality and time. Now it hardly matters whether I live or die, but I wish for one or the other. I am like a ghost, a phantom of the gray and lifeless, but condemned to eternal being. I suppose I will be better soon. Like they say, a little surgery fixes everything.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Writer's Block

What I'm listening to: Title and Registration (Death Cab for Cutie) I tried to write a poem today, but I ended up with half a sheet of scribbled-out purple characters. Gotta love writers' block. I think it's even transferred to my blog today (good thing it doesn't show how many things I've just tried to say). Oh well. Writers' block, just like everything else, comes and goes. Absolute (the book I'm trying to get published) sits on a dusty cyber shelf, waiting for the friendly comments of my editors. An unfinished English essay hangs on the thread of my imagination and yet another History project looms in the near future. Such is life--for me, anyway. But now I'm only stalling. Here's the second installment of After the Crash: The Curtain "You crushed your clavicle," says the doctor. His voice is grave. I ask him what that is. "Don't you feel it? Your collarbone." "Well, now that you mention it..." My voice trails off. I stare at the pink-and-white patterns on the ceiling. I notice my eyelashes are wet from fallen snow. The doctor tells me he can fix me. It will be easy. Just a quick surgery and then a cast. But I don't want to be fixed. I'm like an old painting, or a manuscript maybe. What was written was written and there's no going back. Of course, I know there's something wrong with me. But it isn't my clavicle or ragged arms. To admit it would be to acknowledge it. And then would come the fixing. Nothing's wrong wit me. "Can't I go home?" I ask. The doctor peers at me from under his owlish spectacles, and I decide to drop it. Tomorrow's Saturday, I suddenly recall. Sadness fills me like a dessert that leaves a funny taste on your tongue. I will spend the day in the emergency room. Or maybe the operating one. Flecks of white spatter the baby blue walls and it immediately reminds me of snow. I shudder. The wheels of of the hospital bed squeak methodically as the nurse pushes me along like the child I've grown up to be. She shows me to my curtained-off, ten-square feet of privacy and gives me a smile. I wonder how much she was paid to do that. Not enough, considering my condition. "What are you in for?" I ask the unisex curtain next to me. "Broken leg," it mutters back. "Clavicle," I say. The curtain tells me its sister once broke her clavicle. And that, by the way, his name is David. I cringe. Names. Names open people up. Names remind me of what I've tried so hard to forget. I hate names.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

New Beginnings

What I'm Listening to: The District Sleeps Alone Tonight (The Postal Service) First blog entry of my life: no pressure or anything. I suppose I could say I'm a highschool author. Or maybe that I just moved two thousand miles away from my home less than two months ago. But I guess that's a little generic. So maybe I should start with one of my poems, After the Crash. Maybe it will get you hooked, maybe not. But (of course), I'm only going to publish the first part. Which means you'll have to keep coming back to get the whole story. Enjoy! Snowing Fire My small, white feet are a stark contrast to the smoothed-sandpaper feel of the wet pavement. It's cold, but my shoes lie under several twisted heaps of scrap metal. There's a faint smell of burning rubber in the air--could it be my sneakers? Passerbys, I think idly. Doesn't that sound better than passersby? They are staring. Staring at me. I glance down at my shoulders--and gasp. Intricate web spiderwebs are engraved into my arms and seep through my white T-shirt. Funny. I never felt a thing. "A doctor, a doctor," someone finally says. "Somebody call a doctor." For what? My car? I tell him Band-Aids and a cup of cocoa will suffice. He tells me I'm in shock. That I should lie down. Get something to drink. I can feel my arms now. It's a sort of awful, wonderful feeling--it burns like the pits in Hades, yet it doesn't warm me up. Someone--it is a woman this time--pushes a few pills and a bottle of water at me. I tell her I can take the pain. That I, strangely, want it. An odd, terrible look fills her eyes and she shoves them down my throat. I am lying down now. The gray fluffy plumes of cotton candy loom overhead. The delightful monster. Fifteen minutes later--or sixty, for I have no track of time--and it's snowing. Well, it certainly looks like snow. But the fluffy wads of cotton seem to ignite my veins on fire. I have to clamp a hand over my mouth to restrain crying out. As the ambulance arrives, the clouds don't show a sign of letting up. Good, I think with some surprise. I don't want the miserable rapture to end. Keep on, keep on. Keep on snowing fire.