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All posts for the month September, 2014

Death to Adverbs

Published September 25, 2014 by M. Natalia Arocho

Screens

They are all staring into screens. Some of the stares appear glazed, others seem to be staring at nothing in particular. Others have eyes that show they are no longer in the present. Eyes are scanning the room, looking and taking everything else in except for what is on the screen. There are those whose eyes don’t move from where they are, engrossed in what is before them on the screen.

Students are slouched in their chairs, not wanting to be in the place that they are but are there because of their obligation to themselves, and their parents, to do well in class. There are tables with students scattered here and there, a few tapping their pencils on the wood, hand stuck in their hair, eyes staring at the paper, willing it to make sense or for the answer to appear. There are those who are so relaxed. They sip their Starbucks coffee or herbal tea, leaning back in the chairs, not stressed about deadlines or due dates. Their Mac laptops covered in different patterns and colored cases form a barrier between those who are pulling strands of hair from their scalps, eyes bloodshot from being in the same seat since early that morning.

The silence that was universally expected kept getting interrupted by the hard press of fingers and nails on the keyboards. The fast, then slow, abrupt pauses in the typing. The squeaking noise of the mouse, directing them to a new page, dragging picture and files across the screens. There is quiet chatter in several places. A couple look over their laptops to discuss a going to see a movie that weekend. A group of boys are speaking in a language that I can’t identify but their soccer club jerseys and the game that is playing on one of the bigger computer games tell me that they are discussing a recent call that was made in the game, causing to speak in heated hushed voices at the screen. Girls with the same Greek letters displayed on their chest twitter about the social they will be having and the cute boys that will be there. They flip their hair, blush at the male names that are mentioned, grin excitedly, their eyes bright and leaning close to one another to hear all that is being said at once.

I see all of this as I walk from the spot in the corner where a lone love seat sits with a small coffee table in front of it. It hides behind the circular café whose back wall has computer screens that have been staring at me and swiveling chairs that beckon me to come and take a spin, to put that dust filled book down and have some real fun with them.

I ignore the call and watch the people, the students that are glued to their computer chairs, staring at the screens, their papers as if doing it will get them out of the chair faster. I take my book to the counter and give it to the girl who is smiling across from, a laptop in front of her. She takes me book and says, “Checking out?” as she scans my book.

I smile and reply with a yes, taking my book and leaving the library.

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Point of View

Published September 25, 2014 by M. Natalia Arocho

A man and a woman walk through the park together, holding hands. They pass an old woman sitting on a bench. The old woman is knitting a small, red sweater. The man begins to cry…

park

Seeing that old woman’s hands work the string, the needles clacking together as they started to form the body of the small red sweater brought about memories of hands that had once worked similar needles to create a small sweater for a child yet to be born. The memories of a young woman who had been so excited to be a mother that she had learned to knit for her baby. Wouldn’t it be great, she had asked him, if she could knit their child some warm booties for their first winter? He remembered her constantly in the rocking chair, back and forth, back and forth, trying to knit their child a pair of booties. A chair that not lay empty next to a basket of knitting needles and yarn, untouched, a pair of booties that had been finished but would never be worn. He felt the tears, felt himself crying as he looked at the old woman knitting a small sweater that would keep her grandchild warm in the upcoming winter. His tears held the longing for the child that he never got to see, for the child that would never get to wear the booties that his mother had spent hours working on in that rocking chair. His face was turned to away from the woman so she couldn’t see the tears but neither could he see the mirror of sadness in her own eyes.

knitting-hands

She had seen the old woman at the same time as the man had. The small red sweater that looked so sweet and warm, that would protect little arms from winter’s bite. She remembered that rocking chair that she had sat in every night once she had been put on maternity leave. The hours she had spent undoing stiches and reknitting the booties that she had found in her knitting book for beginners. How she had poked her hands and grown frustrated with the whole idea, she let out a breathe and patiently kept trying until she had succeed. Finally finishing those booties had given her a sense of accomplishment, that she had done the first good thing as a mother for her child. But as still as the rocking chair is now that no one uses it, was as still as her infant that was taken out of her body. The eyes that would never see the booties, never saw the sad, desperate, grief stricken eyes of her parents whose hearts could not be stitched back together as easily. Even with hands linked, she felt the man’s distance from her at times, every time that the pregnancy test came up negative. She squeezed his hand to try and bring him back, to remember that there was still hope and for herself  to hope this times, the last time would be different.

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The old woman saw the couple pause in front of her for a moment, their eyes on her hands. She could feel their sadness. Though they appeared to be one, between them they were divided by a pain of the past. One lingers in the feeling of helplessness while the other keep the spirit of hope alive. Having shaman blood running through her veins from her grandmother, she felt compelled to help this couple, gift them with something that could bring them together and bring light back into their lives. Working on the last stiches of the sweater she began to quickly whisper in the language of the shamans, weaving a prayer in the threads, weaving the hope into the tiny sweater. The couple has regained their awareness of having stopped and continue to walk as she is finishing the final stitch. With practiced swiftness, she neatly closes the seam, tying and cutting off the remaining strings and goes after the couple. Only having to go a few steps, she reaches out and touches the man’s shoulder. He turns his head to look over her shoulder and stutters to a stop, looking confused at the old woman. The woman stutters to a stop as well, their linked hands coming slightly apart from her pull causing her to stop and see what made them stop.

The old woman looks at them both, taking them in, the man and the woman. She takes the man’s other hand and puts the red sweater in his palm, closing his fingers around it with her other hand. “Child.” she says in the voice that wasn’t asking if they had a child but told them that it was for their child. The woman shock her head and started to say, “No, no we don’t have a-” but was stopped by the old woman who said “Child. This time child.” She smiled at them and squeezed the man’s hand with the sweater in it. She then walked away, back to her bench.

The woman just shook her head and took her head into her hands, wanting to fell hope that she was pregnant but all to familiar with the reality that the test could again appear negative.

The man looked down at the sweater and replayed the words in his head, the hope, the voice that told him without a doubt this time would be it. He smiled a little, feeling like he had just been reminded of what he had and what he had been missing out on being stuck in the past. He wrapped his arms around the woman and whispered to her, “This time, for sure.”

The woman took her head out of her hand, showing tears in her eyes and a smile on her face.

Together, husband and wife walked through the park, with hope in their hands.hands

The Walk with Death: Part 3

Published September 24, 2014 by M. Natalia Arocho

Marching On

There are days now where I don’t remember her. Days where I try to remember what it was I was so sad about. Trying to remember but thinking, what have I lost? Have I really lost anything at all?

I’ve lost begun to lose some memory over time and when I remember of what I forgot, I grow scared. Scared that one day I won’t remember what her face looked like or how her skin felt. There are days where her voice is a whisper, fading into my mind to soon be gone forever.

The shape of her face, the color of her eyes, her smile, all easily captured on film to help the holes of my memory but they are little and few, theses captured memories. They don’t help in the memory of the feel of her hair, how she smelled when she had taken a bath or not taken one. Her laugh or the feel of her lips on my cheek. The way she would refuse something with a fierce “No!” or threw a tantrum over not getting her way. They didn’t help me remember the way she said my name and even now I’ve used her name so rarely, I forget how it sounds on my own lips.

On days that I do remember, those memories take me unexpectedly. They consume me, overwhelm me and I feel tears at how painful it is, all coming on at once, overwhelming me. I wish it would slow down so I can take it in easier but it won’t allow for me to do that. It’s all or nothing. So I let it come. As I walk to class, as I sit in lab, as I eat lunch with my friends, as I try to read the pages of a funny manga, I let the happy and sad memories pass through my mind. The times that she would run and greet me when I got home from school, the soccer games that she attended for me and siblings, the two birthdays that she lived through, the moments she try and copy whatever my mom did. All the memories that I am so fond of but remind me that there had been two years full of them but most of them didn’t get put away. As if there were files of papers that had gotten to be too much and so my mind had decided that I didn’t need all of them, that there needed to space saved for more. As if there was an assurance that there would be more memories. But there won’t be. They’ve stopped. And those two years full of memories have been cut down in half, turned into fragments of whole pieces and only appear from time to time, not always guaranteed in full.

Just like my mind, there are pieces of me that are missing, that are no longer the same as before. Fragments of my old self remain and I march to the beat of the drum that I wasn’t aware of before. It has gotten louder and made me conscious of the beat that I move to. I was blinded by who I was or where I was going, blind to what the world was and what to expect of it. The naiveté is lost and I am aware of this loud beating of the drum that I am marching to. I am no longer walking through life but lifting my feet and creating marks, showing where I once was and in what direction I am heading.

I march on knowing that behind me an angel follows.

The Walk With Death: Part 2

Published September 24, 2014 by M. Natalia Arocho

Awakening

White was what we wore.

White pants.

White blouses.

White dresses.

White dress shirts.

White was what we wore, to celebrate her instead of mourn her.

White from head to toe, with my hair drawn back away from my face I stood there with my best friends, my cousins, Jessica and Alex. I didn’t know it but they were there to keep me standing. Like the pillars of the Parthenon, they kept me from caving in. It was them standing there that kept the dark cloud of grief at bay, holding me up and refusing to let me crumble.

I stood there nodding, taking the hands of people who held them out to me, thanking them for coming and letting their compassion and sympathy for my loss roll over me. My face was neutral. I gave no sign as to what I felt because in reality, my brain was allowing the messages or signals to pass through of whether I was sad or angry, hurt, depressed, annoyed, frustrated, guilty. There was a wall up with signs that said “Keep Out!”, “Unwelcomed” and “Warning: Overwhelming Emotions May Cause System to Shutdown”. No emotions were being received and so there was no reason for me to give anyway.

The line got shorter as the pews grew fuller, each person taking their place for the ceremony until the last person slide into the only empty space left in the church. We then sat down, waiting for my mother to give the eulogy and for those who were going to follow to say their final words and goodbyes to my dead sister. The words don’t process, just like everything else, because then nor days after, even now as I rack my brain I cannot recollect the words that were said about my sister. Only a vague image of faces appear, of people that I know, of family. An image of my mother, who shed not one tear because all her tears were had been spent, dispensed into her pillow when she thought that no one could hear. Of my uncle who I never saw that often but then tragedy seems to bring those who are wandering back home. Of my coach who let everyone see the tears run down his face, made no move to cover them or wipe them, letting one tear come down and be overlapped by many more.

I only remember this moment most clearly and vividly because it was when I woke up.

Being an open casket, we all line up to say our final goodbyes. Our farewells and see-you-soons. As I get closer I look to my hands. My hands that are empty of Jessica’s who held them before. I turn my hand to look at them. The same hand that once held my sister. The same ones that had held on to her…to then let her go. The hand that had careless allowed her to leave and roam on her own in search of my mother.

Those hands that awakened me.

The hands that later knew not what to do with selves when my father pulled my drowned sister out of the pool. His hands who tried to revive her, pumping her chest and trying to breathe life into her cold body while my hand…my hand did nothing but lie on either side of me, as motionless and lifeless as the small body on the outdoor table.

Those same hands that, as I looked at them, were painted with pink nail polish, my sister’s favorite color. Or what once was her favorite color. The signals start going to my head, thoughts began to process like the memories that had been allowed in by my hands. My hands whose image had created an opening in my brain.

Would she have still liked pink once she had gotten a little older? Would she had grown out of it or would it be something that would stick with her forever? Would it become and obsession to have everything she owned in pink? Pink backpack, pink lunchbox, pink soccer ball, pink cellphone, pink car, pink walls in her apartment?

My hands, the thoughts of pink, of not knowing whether it was a phase or not because she was no longer here to continue to grow in or out of the phase.

I was awake and all the white that once surrounded me got obliterated by the shroud of darkness that came over me. My mind, my eyes, my soul was covering in black. As if my Pandora’s Box had been opened by the very same hand I was looking at and everything that had been hidden away flew out, unwilling to go back. Shame. Anger. Sadness. Guilt. Depression. Grief. Hate

I was awake and I could see the reality that was before me. My dead sister. Unmoving in her casket. She might as well not have been real for how lifeless and still she was. Her skin so pale and it was hard to look at her and not remember how I once looked at her and she had color and life within her.

I touched her, my hand to hers and I could no longer move. My hand, brown and pumping with life. Hers, pale and cold with death. I couldn’t move, I couldn’t leave her. My mouth finally opened with words. My face gave a reaction, of brokenness, of grief. My body began to respond, to cry, to feel all the pain that once didn’t register before, that ever knew I could feel.

“No..No…noo. Siara. Take me with you, don’t live me.”

Hearing my voice it wasn’t my own. It sounded like that of a lost child, of someone in disbelief, that she can’t believe her sister would leave her. Sounds of pain were coming out of my mouth as if I were really hurt.

“Natalia let go,” my godmother says. I know it’s her because she has been standing near the casket the whole time.

“Nooo, no Siara. I want to go. I want to go with my sister.”

I’m crying, I’m begging, pleading for someone to let me go with my sister, to be buried with her.

“Natalia let go, let go baby, she’s gone. Let go.”

This pain, this chaos, it was too much.

So, I let go, allowing them to guide my limp body away and let the darkness from my Pandora’s Box overtake me.

The walk with death: Part 1

Published September 18, 2014 by M. Natalia Arocho

The Crawl

My body wasn’t my own. I wasn’t sure how I moved but it wasn’t me doing it. It moved to where it needed to go and the rest of me was watching. I wasn’t in control of it. My spirit was watching my body from the dark corner of my mind, not motivated to move anywhere from where it hide, from where it was safe. My spirit, my soul was afraid to go out, for fear that if it were to leave its corner it would be exposed to the pain and the reality that awaited it. Everything around me was going by without me really taking it in. The people, the planning for the funeral, the words of sympathy and the “sorry for your loss”, nothing was really registering. My body was present but my soul was curling deeper and deeper into the recesses of my mind. I must have spoken because people kept responding, I must be reacting because no one moved to tough me to wake me from my stupor or rattle me out of that corner. It could have been said that I was depressed, that I was not really coping with the situation but no one seemed to try and bring me to anyone yet. No one tried to get me to talk about my feelings or say to me “it’s okay to cry, we understand”.

That was the whole point.

No one understood.

No one got it.

No one knew what it was like.

No one could say that it was going to be okay, because it wasn’t. Nothing was the same anymore. I wasn’t the same. It was as if I was learning to walk all over again but my crawl wasn’t getting me anywhere. My crawl was only getting me to shake my head yes or no at the appropriate times, cooperate and help with my siblings when asked and put on my funeral clothes to get ready for the funeral.

A Room with a View

Published September 17, 2014 by M. Natalia Arocho

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The Little Nook

The walls are white, like a nice blank sheet of paper or untouched canvas. There is not a blemish of a crack or poster, there is nothing that covers or stains these walls. They are white like fresh, untouched snow. These four white walls surround a small nook in the corner of the house where there is a space large enough for two to sit. There is a small bench that installed, large enough for one to sit comfortably and space far enough from the window so as not to have to lean on the window pane or get directly hit with the sun beams that pass through. The bench is padded and black and white pillows are arrange on the seat with a blanket nearby. A tall reading lamp stand a few feet away so as not to crowd the space and white see through curtain frame either side of the entrance to the space. The window is the best part. It looks out across a meadow, whose edge is surrounded by trees that have by man or by nature parted in the middle to allow for a gateway to a lake that lies a little ways away, on the other side of the meadow. The meadow, the trees, the lakes, the window, the nook, all an escape of life’s dreary reality and into a world where thoughts and imagination run wild and the chaos of life is left outside the white walls and white curtains, there is no noise of worries, regrets, needs, problems, only the world of that nook in the corner of the house. It is the nook in the corner of the house where I will live one day, where I will escape to one day when my children get too rowdy, when my husband drives me crazy, when the demands of life become too much or when there is peace in the house and the need to have a talk with my Heavenly Father or the desire to escape into another world that authors have created and given me the key to. The place where my little readers will go for their escape when school becomes a hassle, boyfriends/girlfriends are too demanding of attention, when parents just don’t get it but the characters in their favorite book do or their journal is the only one that really listens, that is the place they will escape too. My, his, hers, our little nook in the corner of the house.

Writing Challenge Day 3

Published September 15, 2014 by M. Natalia Arocho

 

me and ky

Same Coin

Its like looking at two sides of the same coin. Different yet, they are both a part of what make up the same coin. Either side looks different but they both as made up of the same material and have the same ridges on the side.

One has dark brown hair, the other has hair that is bleach blonde.

Her skin is pale and white like porcelain and the others is the color of caramel.

One girl’s eyes is a deep dark brown while next to her, clear blue eyes stare at the camera lens.

She is tall and athletic, lean, while the other is short and slightly curvier.

They couldn’t look more different and yet, if you didn’t know better, in looking at their minds they are both one and the same. The way they move is in sync. When one moves one way, it’s as if a magnet pulled the other the same way. Ones thought becomes the others next sentence and when one is at a loss for words, the other knows just what to say to fill in the blanks. Of course, no two people are exactly alike and neither are these two ladies. But friendship knows or sees any differences. No matter the disagreements, the difference of opinion, they both are in agreement to disagree and agree on everything else entirely. To be best friends, is to be one side of the same coin. No matter what, they have each other’s back.