Tag Archives: Desperation

The Straw and the Camel

“Dinner will be ready in thirty minutes” drifted through the dirty, cramped bungalow on Hull Street. The neighborhood had seen better days, and the house’s dilapidation spoke of apathy and depression. That was common in the area. Ever since the town’s industry moved overseas, the children of blue-collar parents hadn’t much to expect out of life. That was partly their fault, but not enough to leave anyone completely blameless.

“I’m hungry now, Ash!” gave chase to the statement with fervor.  John was drunk again. He sat on the edge of his tattered recliner, while the recycled TV played a recycled episode of Night Court. John wasn’t very particular in what he watched, as long as it helped him forget about life. Edgy programming, like the news, was completely out of the question. He had plenty of troubles; he didn’t want to borrow anyone else’s.

“Then make it yourself,” Ashley muttered as she cut the rest of the carrots. She was on her last short order for three years and counting.

“You need to learn to prepare more often!” John’s voice was the rasp in the marriage, made more abrasive by Old Grand-Dad, Early Times, or any other variety of whisky Bernie’s Cash ‘n’ Carry had on sale at the time.

“I wanted to try something different tonight. I’m making a dish I saw at Las Dulces.” Saving face with a demanding drunk was always a chore. It felt like entertaining a fussy child. She knew John was already priming for a fight. The signs we unmistakable: he was out of his chair and getting louder. The glaze over his eyes protected him from seeing anything that would bother his conscience later. He propped himself up against the kitchen doorframe for support. He needed all the energy he could to mouth off.

“Las Dulces?!” John squeezed his eyes into his sculls with the remaining muscle control he had over his face. “When were you there? That shit’s expensive!”

“Oh! It was last Thursday with Jen. She picked up the tab. I thought that was nice of her.” Quickly, she zones in on the sizzling frying pan. An odd pairing they were. John focused on the outside world to forget; Ashley focused on the outside world to “remember.”

“You said you went to Caitlyn’s on Thursday.” John’s appearance darkened. He may have been drunk, but he still had enough brain power to connect the dots. He didn’t like where this was going.

At that moment, fear and relief waged war over Ashley’s body. The secret was coming out tonight, one way or another. She supposed that all affairs surface sooner or later. It would have been nice if he was sober at the time. At least then she wouldn’t have to be concerned about a fist or a belt.

Ashley had things planned for months: slowly moving possessions out of the house, explaining how they “broke” or were no longer needed. A bottle of whisky usually solved that problem. Then there was the money. It was always a little here, a little there, but never enough to alert his covetous eyes. She could have used a few more months’ worth of scraps. Sometimes life isn’t convenient.

She took a deep breath and laid a hand on a frying pan. Here was the wind up, and the pitch. She’d go down swinging, if it came to that.

© 2013 by Corvidae in the Fields, all rights reserved

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Winter of the Mind

Crunching snow is satisfying. Oh, water, you curious thing! Expanding as you freeze, your artistic statement touches all that is winter. Beautiful flakes, only to intensify in magnification, glide through the air with swan-like peace. I wonder if that’s dismay I hear in your voice as I bumble over your canvas? No matter, I suppose, firewood is needed from the back forty and your appearance is deceiving.

Winter’s play is unmistakable. The stage is set in white and won’t be changed until the final act is played out. That would take three months, easy. Such a length of time, forever frozen in the present! Maybe this trek could be my critique of such drudgery.

Eventually, it’ll retort. I’m sure of it. I’ll make it to the house, slip, and feel the antiseptic sting of chilled indignation. Then I should make it to the living room where its preferred state will mock me from the soles of my boots. Philistine!

It’ll be several minutes before I can relax. Red faces and numb feet are on their own clock. They go in their own time. What tenacity this season has, with its aloofness and misery! Trees become veins in the sky, clawing to feed life once again. Their icy jailor’s bidding is sleep. Silence. I imagine them longing for the youth of spring like I do.

Spring, now there’s a season for the living. New starts, green and lush, push the envelope of elemental confinement. It’s a chorus of the awake and alive, all shedding a load of stiff ideas. I yearn to curry the sun’s favor somehow for everything and everyone.

The cord seems lower than it should. Have I used more that I ought? Was this season colder than others? Was my want higher? I can’t afford to run out so soon. There’s so much left to endure. I shudder to think what I would do without some crutch.

I can see myself frantically splitting more logs from some unlucky tree. Slapdash clothing and burning feet would not prevent me from saving my refuge. My escape. Paul Bunyan would kneel before me as I let fly swings fit to cleave sky. The Spirit would move me and nothing short of the Divine could lay me to rest. I would be warm or die trying.

Two, four, six, eight… oh, can’t I put them all in the cart? No, it needs to last. I can’t be foolish now. I have to keep it together. One more log, and I’ll make it through the night. I think I can make it through the night. It’s so cold. I’m so alone. I’m as lifeless as this snow, and it’s killing me.

© 2013 by Corvidae in the Fields, all rights reserved

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