This is the first story that I have ever written, based solely on my impression of a song. Call it fan-fiction… a tribute… whatever you want. I hope you enjoy it!
Sometimes I feel as if I am half of a person walking about in the shadow of what was not meant to be.
You see, I was born a twin. I was the eldest, by 15 minutes.
While my first gasping cries were still filling the hospital room where I was born, all the doctors and nurses were gathered about my mother, trying to coax my sister into life.
She was born small, blue, and silent. I was healthy, kicking and screaming all by myself, forgotten in a mess of birthing fluid.
Soon enough, someone remembered me and I was ushered off to a sterile little incubator of my own.
My mother said the nurses told her I was constantly groping about with my squinty eyes and red face, as if I had lost something. The only time I calmed down was when I was reunited with my womb mate. My mother wears a locket against her heart, even today. Our first official baby picture. Tiny and perfect, nestled together, my infant arm protectively around my sister. That was the picture that foretold the first five years of our lives.
Selina and I were inseparable. Her lungs didn’t allow for the normal tumbling and playing that most children enjoyed, so I always set my pace by her.
When she got sick, which was often, I brought the outside into her room. She breathed sunshine, not air. I fed her with flowers and fireflies caught in mason jars. I snuck in the house with frogs in my pockets, just to hear the squeal of delight I knew would come.
The year we turned five, we spent our birthday in the hospital. We didn’t have a real cake… To be honest, I think everyone forgot.
I remember finding a corner of cold linoleum in the darkest corner of her hospital room. All the relatives and doctors and nurses were bustling about and whispering scary things.
I was wearing my new pink birthday dress, but Selina’s matching one was back home, laid out on the dresser.
She had pneumonia and the nurses said that nothing was working. I fell asleep and when I woke up, there were no adults around. I pattered into the bathroom to get a drink.
When I came back, Selina’s eyes were open. She tried to say something, but she couldn’t. She lifted her hand, the one that didn’t have an IV in, and motioned to a spot on the bed. I crawled under the sheets with her. Everything smelled cold and sharp. I drifted back into my dreams with her head in the little hollow beneath my chin.
Somehow, when I woke again, I was home in my own bed. The following days were a blur of tears and black and gray, casseroles and strong-smelling flowers.
Selina did finally get to wear her birthday dress. I’ll never forget how she looked.
Her hair was so blonde and her face was so white. I wanted to pinch her, to make her open her eyes. The pink and lace looked so wrong. I was sure she was sleeping in that coffin.
How could she be gone forever? How could she stop breathing without me dying too? She couldn’t go without me…
I’m stuck up here, just flapping here- anchored to this line. It’s sunny bright, with windy light- and I feel just fine. My mood is right, at this desert sight- asymmetrical design. A pretty plight, shaken, taut, tight- haunting wind wisp whine. It’s sunny bright, with windy light- and I feel just fine. A change in weather, sand blasted together- a wish for peace is mine A pretty plight, shaken, taut, tight- haunting wind wisp whine. Starched and bleached straight, long time to wait- tethered to this line Drop a side down, hanging off now- flimsy grip abate Pulling hands grab, falling free space- lost my rope-mate Slapped and rolled, stuffed in a backpack- sho’ is some date Bump and a scuff, dumped out again- what’s with this fabric hate? Pulling hands grab, tugging past flab- can you relate? Long day goes on, sweat, rub, dirty grub- my stains match the tin plate Bump and a scuff, dumped down again- what’s with this fabric hate? Scrub and rinse, drench, splat repeat- start again with the wait Pulling hands grab, falling free space- lost my rope-mate My mood is right, at this desert sight- asymmetrical design. Bump and a scuff, dumped out again- what’s with this fabric hate? I’m stuck up here, just flapping here- anchored to this line.And the photo/poetry duel continues! Check out Charles at: www.slpmartin.wordpress.com
A slight young woman, probably not much past her mid-twenties slipped into the bathroom and shut the door behind her, without even bothering to turn on the light. Almost immediately, she burst into tears. How long did she stand there? Was it seconds? Minutes? Hours? The stuffy darkness of the room and the salty-bitter taste of makeup mixed with tears brought her back to reality.
Surely someone was looking for her by now. Then she remembered. No one could see her anyway. No one could hear her. She was lost to the nothingness- no more than a breeze moving the curtains.
She moved through the crowd and found an empty seat, towards the back of the room. The funeral parlor was fairly full. Several people were crying, but quite a few were just shifting about looking awkward, as if they were afraid to look too happy. One girl threw back her head and laughed, then immediately clasped a hand over her mouth and glanced around to see if anyone noticed. No one seemed to. The girl was one of her best friends. She wondered what she was laughing about and decided to move closer.
“…she wouldn’t want all this, you know. She told me once that she just wanted a simple wooden coffin and a celebration of her life. And that outfit they have her laid out in? You KNOW she hated it with a passion! You know what we should do? Tonight, let’s have a movie night in her honor. Everybody should have to wear something pink or turquoise. After all, you know those were her favorite colors. She stifled a giggle. “Remember when we went on that shopping trip and it took like half an hour to talk her out of buying that ridiculous turquoise top with the ruffles? She looked like a clown that got an 80s makeover when she tried it on. Oh- and remember the time we stayed up til like, 3 am eating candy and talking…”
The young woman slipped away, a small smile on her face and began eavesdropping on other conversations.
“…such a shame that she died so young! How’d they say it happened anyway? Young people just don’t make the most of the time they have anymore. I mean, really, what did she accomplish with her life…”
She drifted past the older women she recognised from her church and continued towards the front of the room.
Suddenly her eyes locked on her family. Her mother looked like she was about to fall to pieces any second. Her father kept trying to talk to people, but he kept stopping to bow his head and cry. Her sister looked totally lost. On the one hand, she started to cry every time she looked at the white casket and on the other, she kept sneaking looks at a rather cute boy towards the middle of the room. Last, her eyes fell on two other figures in the line. Her brother looked strangely angry, as if he wanted to beat her up for daring to die and leave him surrounded by all these relatives.Her husband stood at the very end of the line, tall and brave, but his eyes melted like pools of despair.
She rushed over and reached out to try and touch him, but her fingers just passed through like he was made of air.
Gasp. I sat up in bed in a cold sweat. Heart in my throat, I leaned over to my husband’s side of the bed and kissed his sleeping lips. They were real, firm and warm. I was real. I was alive!
My favorite quote actually comes from the movie Martian Child with John Cusack. In the movie, he is playing a widowed science fiction writer who is in the processing of trying to adopt a troubled child.
The little boy thinks that he is from Mars, which apparently is easier to handle than reality. Reality is that he was abandoned by his parents and up til this point, no one has wanted him.
After yet another scenario caused by the whole Mars thing, the struggling foster father turns to the boy and says:
“…right now, you and me here, put together entirely of atoms, sitting on this round rock with a core of liquid iron, held down by this force that seems to trouble you, called gravity, all the while spinning around the sun at 67,000 miles an hour and whizzing through the milkyway at 600,000 miles an hour in a universe that very well may be chasing its own tail at the speed of light; And amidst all this frantic activity, fully cognizant of our own imminent demise – which is our own pretty way of saying we all know we’re gonna die – We reach out to one another. Sometimes for the sake of entity, sometimes for reasons you’re not old enough to understand yet, but a lot of the time we just reach out and expect nothing in return. Isn’t that strange? Isn’t that weird? Isn’t that weird… enough?”
Something about that question just perfectly sums things up for me.