I’m experimenting with putting up poetry instead of fiction today (obviously). Feel free to riot as you please.
I wrote this after a boring lunch meeting in Breckenridge, CO. Beautiful place. And they have great burgers for a ski town. A child wandered around outside in a princess dress. I thought, This lunch would be much more interesting if everyone wore costumes. And, I want to be Tinker Bell.
I don’t remember if there was an actual swing. Just the princess dress. Anyway, that’s the backstory:
I arrived at the classroom early Monday to find him waiting by the door. “Are you the returning student?” I hipped the stack of books and papers and unlocked the door.
He didn’t look up from the ground. “Yes, Ma’am.” His pants were ragged, average-brown hair a little longer than approved dress code length.
I walked to my desk to put down my stack. “I expect you to come to class prepared each day, same as the others. Since you’re coming in a little late into the semester I can give you some extra tutoring to help you along. I don’t have that plaque on my wall for letting students fall behind. Though since it’s only English you’re taking, you shouldn’t have trouble keeping up.”
He shuffled a foot and made brief eye contact.
My chest tightened, as though my Grapes of Wrath flew from my stack and walloped me. “Robert? Robert Maples? Is that you?”
This weekend I drove to Fort Collins to attend the annual Northern Colorado Writer’s Conference (NCWC). The food, decorations, people, and—oh yeah—writing workshops were all wonderful. I was so exhausted from stuffing my brain, I slept like a dog in its “off mode” when I returned.
I don’t like crud under my nails. Or the crud she tracks in but never bothers sweeping. Or the filth she eats, and the plates she never seems to have time to wash, but seems to have plenty of time to let migrate into other rooms of the house. Or the layers of oh-my-god-what-is-that caked on the bottom shelf of the fridge.
Living in such conditions is inhumane. Only a matter of time before I slip some Clorox into her tea, hoping she’ll take the hint. I mean, the whole point of having windows is to actually see the outside not the streaks of bird dung. Three more months of living in this crap-happy place and I’ll go senile before her.
I think it’s why I love the medical field, helping people through an ordered environment. A clean environment.
When Grandpa was still alive five years ago they spent hours gardening together. Mrs. Howard Daapt, she insists on being called now, introduced me to gardening when I moved in for a medical internship three months ago. She showed me the dried hydrangea bush he cut flowers from to decorate the kitchen table. The seeds were an anniversary gift, ordered with money long slaved over.
John rubbed circles into his temples in a counter-clockwise pattern with one hand. With the other he ruffled the stack of papers on the secondhand table using stiff fingers. His breathing grew harder and his fingers more rigid, as though the stack might leap up and attack his face and he had to be prepared.