“I Wanna Bi-i-te You!” – A Snippet

Why are you in here alone?” the man asks from the door of the playroom. “Come read in the living room.”

I carry my book into the other room. Eve is playing the piano. The woman is embroidering and watching Claire sew two pieces of fabric together. I sit in the rocker. Under cover of my book, I suck my thumb.

“Take your thumb out of your mouth!” the man says.

I pull my thumb out and continue reading.

“Your legs are so tender and delicious, I’ll just have to eat them all up.” The man is sitting on the floor with Ames nibbling his calves.

Ames gushes, “Do it again, daddy! Do it again!”

The man nips his legs again.

He looks up and sees me watching, “Come here. Let me see your legs.”

I hesitate. He lunges forward, grabs my arm, and pulls me onto the floor. He pushes up the leg of my jeans and bites me.

“No!” I cry. “You’re hurting me!”

I push at him, struggle to escape. He puts one leg over my body. I continue to struggle.
He smacks my thigh, “That didn’t hurt you! Ne fais pas le bébé!”

He bites again and again. Finally he releases me. My legs are covered with angry, red welts.

I see his leg between his sock and trouser. I lunge and sink my teeth into him. He jumps. Sobbing, I say, “I wanna bi-i-te you! I wanna bi-i-te you!”

The man hold me at arms length, laughs, mimics me, I wanna bi-i-te you!” Then, “Bébé! I didn’t hurt you!” He smacks my bottom. “Go change for bed.”

The woman’s voice stalks me as I limp from the room, “I wanna bi-i-te you!”

I Want To Sing Like That

New people fill the pews. I stare at the big, empty table inscribed with ‘This Do In Remembrance Of Me.’

Do what?

People in long blue robes march in singing “I am on the battlefield for my Lord, I’m on the battlefield for my Lord; And I promised Him that I would serve Him till I die. I am on the battlefield for my Lord.” A bald man, punching the air in time to the music, precedes them.

My feet itch to prance in the aisle. I prance in my heart where only my Friend sees. Some of the new people clap and sway.

One voice rises up, “Ay-I took the Master-er’s hand, A-and I joined the Christian band, Ay-’m on the battlefield fo-or-or my-ay-ay-ay-ay Lord.” Her voice wrenches my heart.

I want to sing like that.

A Woman Whose Face Looks Like Mine – Snippet

We stand and sing: “Blessed assurance, Jesus is mine.” The woman’s voice, so beautiful alone, screeches amid the other voices. I wince. An old woman sings the words but doesn’t know the music. I wince again. The man prays for a long time. We prayed the wrong Lord’s Prayer.

The senior pastor stands, “Sit down, please.” When we are quiet he continues, “We all know, what with the woods development, it’s been difficult with so many moving away. Calvary Baptist is struggling too. The pastors and deacons from both have met and prayed together. We really believe God is calling us to join both churches into one. Over the next weeks, we’ll start the transition that will bring us all together.”

There are fried Spam sandwiches instead of soup for lunch. Afterwards, we settle in the living room for the Sunday movie. It’s in black and white. I sit tailor fashion on the floor, absorbed in Mary’s visits to Bernadette.

“Don’t sit so close to the TV.”

I jump.

“What’s wrong with you?” the man asks. “Why are you so jumpy? What can you be thinking about?”

I remain silent. An image hangs in my mind: A woman whose face looks like mine. Her scent is still in my nose. Her long, dark hair falls rippling down to her waist. She laughs and I laugh too. She sings to me; I almost hear the words.

Gerard asks with a sneer, “Can Mary come to earth as God’s messenger?”

The man replies, “Yes — if God wills it.”

Sewing Machine – Another Snippet

There is a humming sound downstairs. I dress myself in robe and slippers and tip toe down the steps. The woman has removed the embroidered cloth from a small table. She leans over it working at a white machine.

“What is that?” I ask drawing close.

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

I’m always awake, I think. I ask aloud, “What is that?”

“My sewing machine,” she says. “I’m making you a dress for your first day of school.”

She lifts a cornflower blue dress and a cream coloured cotton pinafore printed with yellow flowers and liver-spotted cocker spaniel puppies.

“Do you like it?” she asks. “I dyed Claire’s old yellow dress but there are still spots so I added the pinafore to cover them.” I stoke one of the spaniels. “Do you like the pockets?” she asks.

“Oh yes,” I say and blink away a tear. I glance at the television. “There’s no colour? Is it broken?”

“That’s an old movie. Old movies aren’t in colour.” She smooths the pinafore fabric then tilts her head and asks, “Are you hungry? Would you like some ice cream?”
I nod.

She goes to the kitchen and returns with two bowls of vanilla ice cream.

We eat and watch in silence. When I finish, the woman takes my bowl and says, “Back to bed with you. But first wash your face and hands and brush your teeth.”

A Snippet

You must have a nap today,” the woman says. “I can hardly wake you each morning, you’re sleepy all day.”

After lunch, she sends me to my room. I climb under the large bureau, place my throat over the stretcher, and wait for the executioner. As I wait, I suck my thumb and rub my private area. My Friend strokes comfort into my back.

“When will the executioner come?” I whisper. The executioner will chop off my head.

He Knows You!

Eve! Gerard! Get down here and bring your Bibles!” the man shouts from the bottom of the stairs.

“A family should read the Bible together,” he says as Eve and Gerard find seats. “You can find time for everything else.”

My ears perk up, What is this?

The man reads several pages. Then the woman reads. Then the older children each read a verse. I sit with my feet planted on the carpet to keep the small rocker still. After Charles stumbles through a verse, I rock forward and ask, “May I read?”

“You may have a turn when you learn to read,” the woman says.

My bottom lifts itself a few inches out of the chair. “I can read.”

“No you can’t,” the man says. “Why does she sit there and lie…”

“But I can read!” I squeak.

The man flips through his book. He stabs a finger down on a page and says, “Read this.”

I move my face closer until the blur resolves into words: “Jesus wept.”

“Read the next verse,” he says.

“Then said the Jews, Behold how he loved him!”

The man and the woman look at each other. A huge grin breaks across my face.

The man talks for a long time. The other children sleep. The woman’s head nods. A loud snore sounds from the corner.

The man removes his leather slipper, throws it, “Wake up!”

“I’m awake!” Charles wails rubbing his arm.

“Watch therefore: for ye know not what hour your Lord doth come,” the man says.

He’s talking about You, I tell my Friend bouncing in my seat. I didn’t know there was a big book all about You.

The man asks, “Are there any questions?”

“What does Jesus wept mean?” I ask.

This is grand! I tell my Friend. My heart pounds. I hug myself. He knows You!

* Scripture for this post taken from the King James Version

Tense Changes

In the annals of rewriting, something as simple as changing the tense can make a huge difference. This post is an initial rewrite of a vignette with the rewritten rewrite. The big difference is the tense. Please let me know in the comments which you prefer.

1 – Rewrite

Acrid smoke assaulted my nose. I coughed, clambered off the bed in the dark, pushed my feet into too big slippers, my arms into a tattered robe. Clasping a ragged bear with no eyes, I walked to the door where the switch had first turned me on and out into the chill night.
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. I stood amid there legs.
The woman kept a strong hold on the hand of a little boy. Other children gathered around her. A man came out the back door pulling a girl by the hand, “Can you believe it! Eve locked herself in the bathroom. Quelle stupide!” He jerked her arm with a sharp tug that undulated through her shoulder. The girl whimpered, pushed aside long, dark hair, and rubbed her eye with a fist.
The man and woman counted the children around them, repeating their names.
The fire out, I left the forest of legs and returned to the house. The woman, standing in the light of the door, looked down at me as I walked in behind the girl who had locked herself in. Her eyes widened, “Oh!”

2 – Rewritten Rewrite

An acrid smell assaults my nose. I cough, clamber off the bed in the dark, push my feet into too big slippers, my arms into a tattered robe. Clasping a ragged bear with no eyes, I walk to the door where I first turned on and out into the chill night.
People stand watching. Smoke pours from the side of the house. Red trucks flashing lights and screeching sirens pull up. Big, yellow suited men wearing big black boots attack the house with axes, shower water on it.
Through the legs fire watchers’ legs, I see the woman tightly holding the hand of a little boy. Other children gather round her. A man comes out the back door pulling a tall girl by the hand.
“Can you believe it! Eve locked herself in the bathroom. Quelle stupide!”
He jerks her arm. The girl whimpers, pushes aside long, dark hair, rubs her eye with a fist.
The man and woman count the children around them, repeating their names.
The last of the smoke drifts away. I leave the forest of legs, return to the house. The woman, is standing in the light of the door, looks down at me as I follow behind the tall girl. Her eyes widen, “Oh!”

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.”

Image source

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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.

Save

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.”

Image source

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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.)

Save

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.

 

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