Should – Five Minute Friday (More Rewrite)

Should - Five Minute Friday

Sailing In The Storm

“You should hate him. After everything he’s done to you, everything he’s taken, you should hate god.”

“We’re back there again and all I suggested was that you read the Bible with me.”

“Why should I undertake a lengthy study of the bible?”

Lord, You know he uses lowercase to taunt me.

The atmosphere around me resonated, Breathe!

A long sigh, Okay, Lord. What do I say?

You know what to say.

My nails clacked against the keyboard, “How can I hate Him when He’s taken such good care of me?”

“‘Good care?!’ You call your life ‘good care’?”

“I call what God has done for me in the midst of all the horrors good care.”

“he caused the horrors.”

“No, He let them happen.”

“So you admit he could have stopped them.”

“Of course He could have.”

“Then how can you insist he loves when he didn’t protect you?”

I know his fists were clenched when he wrote that.

“Just admit it, god cares nothing for you or anyone else or he doesn’t exist.”

“I know God cares for me precisely because He didn’t protect me from the horrors but through them. He didn’t remake the world so that I’d be exempt from all the bad; He left me fully human. Instead, He made me able to ride the deluge without drowning. And He’s shown me that all I’ve lost was precious and great, but none of it was necessary.

“I thought my happiness depended on my family, the life I would have lived, not being thwarted at every turn, people who would support and encourage me to develop all the talents God has given me, a long lists of things. I was wrong. None of those that is the source of happiness. I hurt so much because of what I’ve lost. Then one day I looked around and saw myself sailing through waves that should have dashed me to pieces and knew I had gained more than I could ever lose. I have the power to be joyful in the midst of storms. That power came from God.”

<end 5 minutes but I need to continue>

“So it’s alright with you that god threw you down the stairs because it builds character.”

“He didn’t throw me down the stairs. But instead of shielding me from reality, He gave me the ability to live with joy in a brutal world. The horrible things haven’t destroyed me. I haven’t even been able to destroy myself. And that’s not my doing.”

“It’s not god’s doing.”

“Yes, Z, it is God’s doing. Don’t you know what makes life joyful in the midst of brutality?”

“What?”

“Someone like my Papa who was simply there. Who held me in his arms as we cantered through the salty spray. Who knew I could stay on a horse and I did. Who ordered extra maraschino cherries for me because I loved them. He loved me and I loved him. I had that kind of relationship with Marmar too. Even when the world went crazy, I was able to face it because they were with me. That’s the kind of relationship God has given me. He’s always with me, strengthens me, helps me live well in a world that rips people apart for living well.

“The world says I should wallow in pain and loss. I should be ripped apart and never truly healed; the best I can hope for is some sort of sentimental montage. I should be triggered by the rapes in the Metamorphoses and instead I ponder how cruel we can be to one another; and I note how often men are victims of women: no one escapes unscathed. The best I should be able to do is ride anger to some sort of success, use it to prevent others from doing horrible things. But instead, I found myself helping an actual person who wanted to rescue her nephews because I’m not powered by anger at injustice but by love for real people and the joy that comes from gift that will help them.

“Z, I’ve been angry but it just made me tired. Love and joy energize.”

“So I should read the bible and I’ll be like you.”

“Why would anyone want to be like me. The world already has me. We need you.”

“The world has me. I work every day to help the world. Why should I waste my time reading the bible?”

“Because it’s not a waste of time. Because it’s an excellent place to begin getting to know God who didn’t toss you down the steps to build character. God speaks to us in the Bible. You’ve got an amazing mind and I’m convinced you’ve got a heart and soul just as amazing. I want to see you shine like the sun.”

“If god wants me he can hit me with a blinding light.”

“He probably won’t come on your terms. We can have what we want or we can have our scripts but we can’t have both.”

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On Friday (and occasionally Saturday if Friday is filled with an excess of other activities),100s of bloggers set a timer, write for 5 minutes, and then post the results over at Kate Motaung’s blog, Heading Home. She provides the prompt on Thursday evening. We don’t edit or concern ourselves with whether our writing is flawless or worthy to be seen. We expose our incomplete, unpolished thoughts and words to each other and our readers and tweet them with the hashtag #FMFParty. Join us.

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Purpose – Five Minute Friday

“It helped so much when I realized it all has purpose,” I said.

“So God destroys your life because he has a purpose?” Z asked.

“No. God doesn’t throw us down the stairs to break us into shards that He can fix,” I said. “But when life breaks us, He uses the shards to make something beautiful, if we let Him.”

“If God is all powerful, He can prevent the destruction,” Z said.

St. Mina - Coptic Icon“Yes, He could,” I said. “But He doesn’t. He doesn’t stop people from doing wicked things. He doesn’t stop nature from being broken. He rarely suspends the laws of creation to protect us from the consequences of a broken world. Our freedom, even when we break the world and destroy each other, is more important than protecting our lives and dreams.”

<end of 5 minutes>

“How can you insist God loves you when He didn’t protect you from all the horrible things that happened to you?” Z asked. “He could have at least given you a replacement family that loved you. You’re lovable, you know. My mother would have taken great care of you.”

I nodded, “He could have,” I said. “But that would have interfered with Siobhan’s and the minister’s freedom. God doesn’t interfere with our freedom even when we do evil things, even when we shatter other people into tiny shards. But He does pick up the shards and make them into beautiful mosaics.”

“It would be better to be whole,” Z said.

I nodded. “I’ll never be who or what I would have been if my Grandpère hadn’t been killed, or my parents, or if I had lived with people who loved me. I’ll never be the woman who wasn’t raped or abused for most of her childhood.”

“But it’s okay because God has purpose,” Z said.

“No, it’s not okay. What makes you think it could ever be okay?” I asked.

“You’re don’t make sense” Z said.

“Even though it’s not okay and will never be okay, my life is good and beautiful. When I step back, I see glimpses of the portrait God is making with my shards. I’ll never be the unbroken glass I might have been if people had chosen good instead of evil. But their choice isn’t the final word. God has the last word and my shards are already more than I could imagine.”

“So you don’t mind being broken to bits?” Z asked.

“Most of the time, I’m too busy discovering the depths of the portrait He’s making,” I said. “I still hurt but my life is also filed love and joy and the knowledge that the hurt will eventually be healed. It’s like pain management but better. The pain’s hasn’t disappeared but it’s sufficiently healed so that I can live abundantly and the pain has given me purpose, even though it’s not the purpose I would have had. I’m happy to be my shattered and reworked self.”

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On Friday (and occasionally Saturday if Friday is filled with an excess of other activities),100s of bloggers set a timer, write for 5 minutes, and then post the results over at Kate Motaung’s blog, Heading Home. She provides the prompt on Thursday evening. We don’t edit or concern ourselves with whether our writing is flawless or worthy to be seen. We expose our incomplete, unpolished thoughts and words to each other and our readers and tweet them with the hashtag #FMFParty. Join us.

(I’ve not made a Five Minute Friday post for some time but this prompt segues into something I’ve been writing in my mind and it’s time to get it down.)

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I Want My Marmar

I waited outside my classroom in the damp chill for Claire and Gerrard. The other children had all left but no one came for me.

“I can walk,” I told my Friend. “I know the way.”

Two blocks past the school four big boys jumped from behind a thick hedge. Gerard and Charles quarreled with them after school.

“That’s Gerard’s sister,” one of them called out.

“Let’s get her,” another boy said.

Suddenly I was lying prone on the ground. Their fists pommeled my back. A sneaker crashed into my side.

“Let’s go,” a boy said. “Old man Marcus’ll see us.”

Pain throbbed in my arm and back as I pulled myself to my feet. My knees ached. My book and lunch pail were in a puddle. I picked them up and limped home stunned and sobbing.

“I want my Marmar,” I begged my Friend. “I want my Marmar.”

The woman met me at the door, blocked my entrance.

Her fist on her hip, she asked, “Where have you been?!”

“They forgot me so I walked by myself but some big boys beat me up,” I wailed.

“You should have gone back to school and reported them to the principal,” she told me.

The sky was growing dark. Big rain drops had begun to fall.

She pointed towards the school, “Go and report them to the principal.” She stepped back inside, closed the door, and watched me through the glass panes.

As twilight fell, I limped back in the rain with scraped hands, bloody knees, wet shoes and clothes. More tears leaked out when I discovered a rip in my navy, corduroy skirt; my chest hurt.

“It wasn’t her!” I sobbed at my Friend. “It wasn’t her! It was that woman!”

Something dark made me jump. I peered closer, pouted at the shadow of a shrub. “They’re waiting for me,” I said.

The principal, Mr. Evans, gave me a puzzled look as I entered his office, “Did they forget you?”

Tears became heh-huh hiccups as I choked out the story.

When I was quiet, Mr. Evans lifted me into an armchair and dried my tears. His hands shook as he emptied the contents of a packet into a styrofoam cup and added water from an electric kettle. With a smile, he handed me the cup of cocoa. “Let’s see if we can do something about those cuts,” he said. “This will sting.” He cleaned and bandaged my wounds, then drove me back to the house and walked me to the door.

The woman let me in, “Go change into something dry.”

Mr. Evans smiled at me from the porch. As I began to turn away, anger replaced his smile. He didn’t come in but kept the woman at the door for a long time.

Next morning, the pain in my knees woke me. The bandages had slipped; my pajama bottoms had stuck to my scraped knees.

“Stop!” I screamed when the man ripped the fabric from my wounds.

“Gros bébé,” he sneered and smacked my thigh.

 

Janet and Mark

“Let’s welcome Mel. She’s joining our class,” Mrs. Lawson said.

In unison, the boys and girls said, “Welcome, Mel.”

“You may sit with Ellie,” Mrs. Lawson said directing me to a table in the first row.

The last hour of the day, eight of us sat around a low, round table in the reading corner. Mrs. Lawson gave me a thin, book, “Janet and Mark.” (1)

“Janet,” I read on the first page and then from the second, “Mark.”

When the bell rang, Mrs. Lawson said, “Take your books home and practice reading the first two pages again.”

At the dining room table, I read aloud, “Janet. Mark.” I itched to turn the page but Mrs. Lawson had not given me permission so I closed the book.

The woman was peeling potatoes in the kitchen. “May I read the big Bible,” I asked her.

She scrubbed my hands and set the book before me. I read of Joseph’s death in Exodus.

(1) Mabel O’Donnell, Janet and Mark, Harper & Row (1966)

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The Gingerbread Man

“Run, run, as fast as you can,” I read softly. “You can’t catch me! I’m the Gingerbread Man!” (1) Salty tears spilled down my cheeks blurring the words. I hugged the book to my chest and began to sing quietly to my Friend, “Yes, Jesus loves me. Yes, Jesus loves me. Yes, Jesus loves me, the Bible tells me so.”

“What’s wrong?” Mrs. Runcie asked.

My heart leaped, Maybe I could tell her.

“Why don’t you try this one?” She held out The Golden Book ABC’s.

“That’s a baby book,” I said sniffing in the trickle from my nose.

“What about Goodnight Moon?” she asked.

“The pictures are pretty but there’s no story.”

She looked intently at me, “No story?”

“I like books that have a story,” I said in a small, high voice.

“Will you read the story to me?” she asked.

“I ran away from an old woman. I ran away from an old man. I ran away from a cow, and I can run away from you! I can!” (2)

“Try this,” she handed me another book.

“In an old house in Paris that was covered with vines lived twelve little girls in two straight lines.” (3)

With a puzzled smile she said, “You can read.”

(1)  The Gingerbread Man, http://www.storyit.com/Classics/Stories/gingerbreadman.htm

(2) ibid.

(3) Madeline, Ludwig Bemelman, New York : Simon and Schuster, 1939.

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A Humming Machine

In the night quiet, I heard humming downstairs. I dressed myself in robe and slippers and tip toed down the steps. The woman sat at a small table that was usually covered with an embroidered cloth leaning over a white humming machine.

“What’s that?” I asked drawing close to the machine.

The woman jumped. “Oh! You’re awake!,” she said. “Can’t you sleep?”

I wanted to say, “I’m always awake.” I asked again, “What is that?”

“My sewing machine,” she replied. “I’m making you a dress for your first day of school.”
She lifted a blue dress and a cream coloured cotton pinafore printed with yellow flowers and cocker spaniels puppies.

“Do you like it?” she asked. “I had to dye Claire’s old yellow dress but I added the pinafore so the stains won’t show.” I touched the crisp fabric of the pinafore. “Do you like the pockets?” she asked.

“Oh yes,” I said suddenly needing to blink. I glanced at the television. “Why isn’t there any colour? Is it broken?”

“That’s an old movie. Old movies aren’t in colour.” She smoothed the pinafore fabric then tilted her head peering at me, “Are you hungry? Would you like some ice cream?”
I nodded.

She went to the kitchen and returned with two bowls of vanilla ice cream. “Now eat that,” she said. “Then you’ll have to get back in bed.”

We ate and watched in silence. When I finished, the woman took my bowl and said, “Back to bed with you but first wash your face and hands and brush your teeth.

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I’ll Give You Reason To Cry

“Sit up,” the man shouted at me.

I tried to lift my head from the table and winced as my bottom settled in the chair.

“She had vaccinations in both sides of her bottom,” the woman said.

“If she can’t sit straight, then send her to bed,” he said.

“The doctor said she’s too thin. She must eat more,” she said.

“I’ve been telling you to make her eat!” he said. “You let her leave food on her plate.”

“She throws up so easily,” the woman said, her voice shrill.

He pointed at the creamy, white liquid in my glass, “What’s she drinking?”

The woman jumped, then raised one shoulder. The shrill note still edged her voice, “Extra rich milk. Dr. DeBrun told me to get it. She needs the protein and calories.”

“Rene knows how many children I have to feed,” the man said in a resounding undertone

“Sit up and eat your food,” he said.

I put a piece of dry meat, chewed, and washed it down with a sip of milk.

“Your vegetables too,” he commanded.

I swallowed a forkful of the faded green leaves and gagged at the bitterness.

“You can’t let them waste food,” the man grumbled.

She and the other children finished their meals and left the table. The man sat in his seat at the far end watching me.

“Take your elbows off the table and eat!” he shouted when I propped one elbow on the table and rested my head on one hand.

“Why are you limping,” he demanded as I carried my empty plate to the kitchen.

“My bottom hurts,” I whimpered.

He followed me into the kitchen.

“Come here!” he commanded. “Hold the refrigerator handle.”

I held it with one hand.

“Use both hands!: He grabbed my other hand and pushed it onto the handle so that I faced the refrigerator. “Now bend your knee and lift your leg. Like this,” he bent one knee and raised his thigh to the height of his waist. I bent my knee and raised my thigh a few inches.

“It hurts!” I squeaked. Slimy salty liquid filled the back of my throat; it spilled from my eyes.

“I’ll give you reason to cry if you don’t stop that right now! Raise your leg!” he said.
I tried again but lifted it no higher.

The man pulled his belt from the loops on his trousers. “I’ll make you lift your leg!”

The belt smacked my bottom hitting one of the spots where the nurse had jabbed me. I screamed.

“Lift your leg!” he commanded again. Again, I tried and failed. Over and over he hit me until I was jumping to get away from the pain of his blows, mucus streaming from my nose, tears from my eyes.

“Now get to bed,” he finally said.

I limped away. At the kitchen doorway, my stomach heaved. A slimy green and brown pile of food and curdled milk lay on the floor.

Children’s Missal

From the doorway, I watched the woman sitting on her bed. She removed items from a round, red velvet box. I moved closer, saw lying next to her a small, cream coloured book with gold edged pages.

“What’s this?” I asked stroking the picture of the cup on the smooth cover.

“A children’s missal. My father gave it to me.”

I opened it. A man raised a cup and a small, white round above his head. I was suddenly very still inside. The woman gently took the book from my hands and returned it to the box.

“Go play, now,” she said.

At the door, I stopped and looked back at the red velvet box.

The door ajar, I sat inside the closet of the room I shared. A door closed. The woman walk down the stairs. After the sound of her steps died away, I tip toed into her room. The red, velvet box was no longer on her bed.

Her closet? I asked my Friend and opened the door.

The box sat on a shelf above my head. I climbed the lower shelves and lifted it down. The missal lay nestled between yellowing envelopes, photographs, and ticket stubs. I took it back to the room I shared and slowly read each page, drank in each picture.

On the page with the man holding the cup and the small, white round, I read: “Look, the priest is holding up Jesus so you can see him.” Something pulled at my heart. My chest heaved. “Cluh! Cluh! Cluh!” coughed out my throat. The well of tears gushed over. When the waters receded, I pushed the missal as far under my mattress as I could.

“Oh! You’re Here.” – Final Rewrite

I have reached the final rewrite stage. From time-to-time, I’ll post excerpts.

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The light switch snapped me on as I stood in darkness. The cool air penetrated my pajamas and robe, chilled my slippered feet. I clasped an old, ragged bear with no eyes. People stood watching as smoke poured from the side of the house. With flashing lights and screeching sirens, giant red trucks pulled up. Men in yellow suits and big black boots sprayed water onto the house.

The woman held the hand of a little boy.

A man came out the back door holding a girl’s hand, “Can you believe it! Eve locked herself in the bathroom. Quelle stupide!”

The man and woman called names. Children responded, “I’m here.”

After the fire was out, I reentered the house. The woman looked down at me, “Oh!” her eyes widened. “You’re here.”

The Bracelet – Giving the Gift

bracelet

The Bracelet – Giving the Gift

“When she saw the bracelet she cried out, ‘Now I know you’ve really forgiven me,'” I said shaking my head. “She flew at me, knocked over napkins, banged into chairs to hug me.” My head continued to shake from side-to-side, “The bracelet doesn’t mean what she thinks.”

“I still don’t know why you gave it to her,” Jenna replied.

“It was her birthday,” I shrugged. “She wanted real jewelry. It was on clearance, less than I’d budgeted, I knew she’d love it, so I got it for her.”

“But why would you give Caroline such a great present after she abandoned you?” Jenna demanded. “I just don’t get it.”

“I wasn’t thinking of that,” I shrugged. “The bracelet was so wonderful and I was so happy that’s she’d love it,”

“She didn’t deserve it,” Jenna pouted.

“Maybe not. But can you imagine looking for a gift based on what someone deserves?” I shuddered.

“Yes,” Jenna said.

“What a lot of wasted energy,” I said. “I’d rather not give any gift.”

“Why go to her party?”

“Her sister invited me; the girls wanted me there,” I raised one shoulder in a shrug. “I thought it would be okay since there were other people.” I shook my head again, “I just wish she understood.”

“That you don’t trust her?”

“Yeah. NO. I do trust her.She’ll do the same thing again.”

“Of course she will,” Jenna said.

“She hasn’t changed. It’s all about her. She feels safe around me now she knows I don’t have cancer. She doesn’t even imagine how I feel.”

“So you shouldn’t have given her the bracelet.”

“I couldn’t go without giving her a gift. Why would I give her something she didn’t want? That would be no gift at all.”

“Why go to the party?” Jenna asked.

“I can’t just abandon Farrah and Adhita.”

“I guess not,” Jenna mused. She shuddered, “But you’ll be around Caroline.”

“Maybe I’ll learn to forgive her,” I said.

“She doesn’t deserve it,” Jenna replied.

One corner of my mouth lifted in a half smile, “Probably not. Who does?”

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