24/05/2011 § Leave a comment
“Consider it a farm-warming present.”
“It’s a box of chicks.”
“Yes. It is.”
They placed the box in the back of the truck, a 1987 Ford F150, tan with brown panels down both sides. The box was closed like their moving boxes they had just unpacked: flaps shut in a circular motion.
“Do you think they will be alright in the wind?”
“Yes. It’s a ten-minute drive.”
Three of them sat on the uni-bench with the rear-window open in case we had to reach behind to the truck bed to close the box again. Sarah sat in the middle to ensure this responsibility and as the truck hit the highway, the forethought happened.
“Turn around! Put your seatbelt back on! They will be fine.”
“I can get it! They might be scared!”
They backed the vintaged truck against the barn’s crooked front door, recently fixed with compressed particle board, the yellow like fresh wheat against the old cedar siding of the building. Sarah climbed into the truck bed from the middle window and pushed the box of chicks to the lip, her father carrying the box through the door to the hay stall.
“I think they will be alright here.”
And he opened the lid, in a counter-clockwise motion. The instant freedom and flooding of light made them still and quiet. The father walked out of the stall and said, they would figure it out. The first one to exit was a turkey-chick, it’s neck telescopic for danger. It pulled itself to the rim and tumbled out. One.
Two, three, four.
“They look so sweet.”
Some had noticed the ray of light coming from a hole in the wall and they began to wander towards it.
“Dad, I think they are going to get out.”
Sarah ran to the out side of the wall, but it was too late, the chicks began to run through the field.
“I can save them, I can save them!”
She ran around wildly trying to herd them back through the hole. One, two, three, four. Eleven. Four turkey and one chicken chick had escaped into the wilderness.
17/11/2010 § Leave a comment
After the little tyrant, Sarah, grows older, has done her own thing and made her own in the world, she has a quiet reflection at her grandmother’s house:
“Outside there is a storm. It has a violent and whirling wind that sweeps the leaves and uproots trees. I watch it from inside this shelter on the stoop sitting on my grandmother’s chair that rocks. Here, where it is peaceful and warm.
I remember my life with storms. My aunt would tell ghost stories with her face lit from a flashlight at her chin. I would sit with my cousin cross legged on the bed, wanting the rush of being frightened. My sister would listen from the chair that smelled like a basement filled with grandmother’s pottery, the hobby she stopped from before I was born.
During thunderstorms, I remember wondering where my dog was only to find him cowering in the bathtub, the only room with no windows. He hated loud noises and was a wreck during hunting season. It made me think he was weak and thought he was just being a suck. I also remember his fascination with teenage boys with backpacks and his fear of air-born baseballs.
When lightening flashed and lit up our farm in the middle of the darkest, cloudy night, I would run to the barn to check on the horses. I would find them contently nibbling hay as miniature tornadoes of dust would swirl on the floor. The door would be violently cracking against the walls from being blown wide open. Every storm, my parents would try to calm my neuroses by saying that the horses would be fine outside and that they would know what to do. But it never mattered. The fear of losing the ones that I loved was too strong.
One day, the idea of moving into town came up. The farm was getting to be too much and I was a typical apathetic adolescent who only had time for friends. We decided that it would help everyone in the family if we just moved.
I remember finding homes for all of our family members and euthanizing those that could not come with us. I watched an old friend pick up our old horse to take him to an old lady. I remember cringing at the screeching whiny of our smallest pony, Charlotte, as someone took her away to a new family of children. I remember the nervous hands of our family vet, Helen, when she administered poison into our pig’s ear. I remember hauling the pig’s body wrapped up in a red-and-white striped blanket and lowering her into the shallow grave, the one we dug between the lilac bushes at our Woven Rock Farm. Every time we threw dirt on her, I would make my mother stop because it looked like she was still breathing. In a couple of months, we moved into town with one dog and one cat. We still had one pony at another barn. I would drive to see him six days a week.
After a year, my dog’s health started to deteriorate. He was getting older and could not adjust to the move as quickly as we thought he could. He was so ashamed at the mess he would make in the dining room, hiding behind the couch in the living room. I was embarrassed that I could not do anything to help him. My mom and sister brought him to Helen later that year to have him put down. I refused to be at the vet clinic to say goodbye. The idea of it made me sick.
In that same year, driving back from a Lauryn Hill concert, I got into a car accident. Other then my friend breaking her foot, all six of us walked away from the accident without a scratch. That’s right. All six. It was a detail that the insurance company did not overlook and used it as a loophole. We had to sell the other pony in order to cover the cost to fix the aluminum vehicle we needed. We sold him to a girl at the barn and I cut my tie to him as quickly as we signed his showmanship passport over. I did not know how to let him go or how to say goodbye. So I hid from him because I was ashamed of my weakness.
Sitting on this veranda in a town I thought I had left behind, I thought about this discomfort. Most people run away from tears. I see it in others and, most frighteningly, I see it in myself. I remember telling people to “buck up” while they balled in public spaces or in front of unfamiliar faces. Tears are just too real — like tiny magnifying glasses into our most vulnerable places. It makes us feel weak to expose ourselves. We are embarrassed of our messy, snotty sleeves.
But, if you don’t let it rain, how will anything grow?”
25/03/2010 § 2 Comments
Growing up, they barely talked, the younger one was a hot-headed ball of fire, the older one silently in a land of dreams, neither floating on an even wave, never present in the same time.
Everything was different about the sisters, not only in personality, but body, too. The older one had brown hair and blue eyes, a soft face full of features that illuminated when she smiled. The younger sister was blonde, hair light like little noodles, sharp, brown eyes with an angular nose. There were days when they asked themselves, how is blood thicker than water?
Growing up, the divide became blurry, their personalities striking similarities in seemingly odd places. When it came to love and fear, the bonds of blood would tighten, making one’s features sharper and the other’s rounder, moulding each into one familiar face.
Older and wiser, tougher, yet tender, they realized that there is no bond like blood, that despite differences, in fact because of them, they loved each other. They respected and embraced the divide instead of scorn it, noticing that they could still hug through holes in wall. They lived two different kinds of lives, able to be where they needed to be, but always peeking over the wall and watching the other, making sure she was living how she wanted to live, hoping for happiness and peace.
If you ever needed, I would give you my left arm. I know you would give me your right.
26/01/2010 § Leave a comment
I had started this story some time ago, and I figured, since Chasing Patagonia is on hold until I actually experience Patagonia, I would write an excerpt that I had written some months ago.
This story started as a personal recount of how a family from the city moved to the country. In an attempt to adapt, and quite possibly enact some sort of change on the community, the family finds itself at the contemporary crossroads of what it means to be human. The story started from personal experience and has evolved to be a reflection of four different aspects of the self. The characters have emerged to become how individuals, or aspects of individuals, deal with a new scenery and new way of life. This is an excerpt from the very beginning, where it sets up the confusion and, quite possibly, the inability to begin something where one does not belong:
“Look girls, it’s so vast. You can climb that tree. We could get some animals. I think we could have a lot of fun here.
Life was changing so fast for the Abertsworths. The father, a graduate from business school, was transferred to a rual satelite office to establish the infrastructure for TelCo. The whole population of the county was 40,000 people. Since hard times had fallen upon the nation, outreach programs dipped their fingers in the far reaches where desperation to work was rampant. Whole towns that were ravaged by down-sizing factories were ripe for the labour pickings. Telco was the first to nab Leeds.
Bill Abertsworth volunteered for the transfer. As far as he was concerned, a change of pace was a welcome direction. His wife, Susan, was unsure what the change would mean for her city-based holitic practice. Yoga and meditation were not common in rural areas, she Googled it. Her daughters were the ones she was mostly concerned with. They were not so young, hormonal enough to be set in their ways, but maybe the move was their chance to understand the other side of life.
* * *
The wave of people searching for jobs left the countryside vacant. Only the strong persevered in the face of isolation and sure failure. In order to feed their families, they sacrificed their dignity. They shook hands with a fate that would leave them souless. Knowing no other way, misunderstanding forward-thinking, progress and technology, they kept to their roots. Listened to what, for so long, had driven their ancestors to a comfortable sustenance. Knowing the city would swallow them up, they stayed and created a protective barrier of beer, guns, and a wildness unknown the outsider. Most people often wondered whether the wildness came from the lack of civilization or the want of their souls back. Outsiders believed it was the former.”