I’m so excited to see my poem “Dive” in today’s issue of Oysters & Chocolate! Click here to view my poem, and be sure to check out the rest of the site for erotic poems, sexy stories, articles, and more!!
Monthly Archives: January 2012
Watering the Plant
My father hit me only once
in a rage across my leg
drawing a hand printed stain
puffy and red on my skin
In the dark room
where my sister and I slept
while my parents fought
their endless fight
my sister said shut up
I can’t sleep with you crying
I awoke in the blackness
my father sitting on the edge
of my bed, crying, fully
dressed for work as the early
morning light etched his shadow
I awoke to my father crying
looking at his daughter asleep
fearing the fragile part of him
that could bruise so easily
and had so much growing to do.
rushing to the side of my mother’s bed
when I was nine years old
of the dark
of long dreamless sleep,
I would sit up in bed
eyes open wide
trying to see through
as my heart pounded so loud
I wanted to scream
any sound to make sure I was still
these nights I would go to her
wake her with the knowledge
that I was going to die
and she would turn to me, in her
half-asleep voice, she would
talk to me, and tell me stories
until I felt well enough
to face the darkness again
when I got older
I stopped myself from rushing
to the side of my mother’s bed
and learned to face the darkness
I find her voice inside me
her tone rising and falling
like the ocean tide, calming
my tumultuous soul.
when I was a child and tried
to sleep under the stars in rockaway
beach, the surf rolling in like thunder
wondering if it would
wash me away while I slept
the bars on the boardwalk were noisy
into the night, music and voices
drowning in the distance
At first light, the sand machines
advanced and we woke, scrambling
in the early soberness of morning
we went somewhere, either to my mother’s
boyfriend’s apartment or his sister’s
house, left alone to watch television
with her scarred and angry son
I wanted to go home.
I thought home was with my mother
I didn’t like it there, I wanted to be alone
in my room reading or drawing
without this new feeling, a nagging fear
not knowing what would happen next
I no longer place blame.
I look at the turns my life has taken
and I am able to see with preciseness
where things went wrong -
I can’t go back and say Stop.
What you are doing will change me,
the course of my life. I can only
hope to look at my life now and see,
with that same preciseness,
where things went right.
It’s nearly the end of January! This post will complete the first cycle of my weekly series, which carried the theme of “Lost Children”. Next month, I will focus on a different theme. Because it will be February, I imagine the theme will have something to do with Love. Hearts abound in February and already every supermarket and drugstore around me has at least one aisle that has exploded into pink and red. I already have some ideas of what I would like to share, and it is going to be a lot of fun.
In the first post of this series, I shared a short story I had written – it was a story about lost children, a contemporary revisiting of the Hansel and Gretel fairytale. In my story, the children are lost through parental abuse and neglect. In a departure from the original tale, my characters enter the woods as an act of empowerment. The danger is not the unknown forest where wolves and witches lurk; the danger is in the home.
This is an unfortunate reality for many, many children today. As a teacher, a parent, and a member of society, it seriously concerns me how children are raised, educated, and valued. Millions of children suffer at the hands of their parents, those people who brought them into the world.
I think when most people think of “lost children”, they imagine a child on milk carton – and that is another terrible reality, how some children are taken by the sickest members of society and mistreated, raped, abused, and killed, never to be seen again. There are children who are abandoned by their parents, sent to live with relatives, in foster homes, only to receive similar or worse maltreatment. However, in my research on violence against children, I found that children are most at danger in their own homes.
On my teaching resume, I have stubbornly put my role as a mother as part of my experience and skills. The reaction to this has varied, and I have been told by some that while it is nice that I’m a mother, it doesn’t count as valid experience in working with children. I am always a little angry to hear that, because I feel that being a parent is among the most important work that I will ever do, and I do it on a daily basis. But it does not surprise me. Over the years I have realized how little we value the act of parenting and caring for children.
The “stay at home mother” is a rapidly declining position in this society; it is unpaid and not ecomomically viable for many women. For others, being a mother is often seen as a low goal for a modern educated woman. I cannot speak for fathers – but I do know that there are more “stay at home dads” than ever before. Nevertheless, the number of children living in divorced families with custody to the mother is astounding. While the role of father is very important, it seems much more shadowy to me – the predominant father in society is absent, distant, and removed from the care of children.
We have generations of children being raised in daycare centers. One can see the value of raising and caring for children when centers typically pay their workers between $8 and $10 per hour, which is just above minimum wage. Besides a childcare certificate, no further education is required.
I’ve thought that when people have children, there should be some mandatory education on parenting. There are many different parenting books, magazines, articles – but sometimes I think that they fail to reach those who most need these resources. As a society, we approach the task of parenting, having no real education on how to parent, having no choice but to rely on our own experiences as a child for guidance. Consciously or unconsciously, our first education in parenting is the parenting we received as children. We then are faced with either rejecting or emulating the methods of child rearing that have been passed on.
I believe that I am a good mother. I am not flawless. There are many things that happen in the course of parenting where I am faced with challenges and decisions, and I do not know if all of my actions and words are the “right” ones. Being a single parent causes this to fall on me with an extra weight, because I do not have a partner with which to talk and brainstorm and share the awesome responsibility of parenting.
Relatively recently, a friend of mine asked, “What are you going to do when your children are old enough to read your writing?” I wasn’t quite sure what he meant, but then it was clear that he was speaking about my erotica. I told him that I had no fear of them reading anything I write, including erotica, because I think by that point they will know me. I also think that, if I accomplish what I hope, that my children will not have society’s fear of sex and sexuality, and will see it as a natural, interesting, extremely close interaction between conscious and consenting adults.
Now, we haven’t quite gotten there yet. My older daughter is a recent 13 year old. But we talk, and communicate very well. Most of our discussions right now center more on body image, peer relationships, friendships, and the changes and complications of a girl slowly turning into a young woman. We talk about boys, fathers, the particular difficulties that men have growing in this society as well.
That is where my daughter is, and I feel that it is essential that she understand her self and her body, and be confident in who she is. Relationships will come. Sex will come. But it is my hope that this foundation will find her in safe and healthy relationships – starting with the most important one – her self.
This is a good example for me to use because it is in this area that I have had to deviate from my own experiences and my parent’s example. My parents divorced when I was about 11 years old. The time that followed was very tumultuous, and there were many years in which I did not see my father, years in which I lived with my mother and her alcoholic husband.
When I was going through puberty, I was mortified. I did not want to change. I did not like the way I saw teenage girls acting. I did not like the way I saw men beginning to look at me. To increase my discomfort, my mother’s boyfriend teased me constantly about my arms always crossed over my chest and my bad posture (shoulders forward in a feeble attempt at hiding my body). There was no conversation with my mother.
At that juncture, I feel that my mother was going through many of her own life changes. The transition between parenting a child and parenting a young woman did not come easily to her, and I feel that she thought I would grow, as she did, into womanhood on my own. And I did. I did, but it was done painfully, awkwardly, and finally, through the help of books.
I think that this was a crucial difference. My love of books began when I was a young child and has continued to this very day. By the time I was 12, I had literally gone through all of the interesting children’s and YA books and series. It was around this age that I ventured into the adult section of the library and stumbled upon psychology and philosophy. I began reading Freud and learned how to self-analyze, to think, to understand who I was. I believe that this is what allowed me to live through some of my experiences and to emerge with very little harm done to my essential self.
My daughter does not have to go through it alone. No one does. I feel that a parent/child relationship is in constant flux. As a little child, she needed me to “mother” her, to nurture her, to take care of nearly all of her needs. As an older child, she needs me to guide her, to show her how to communicate, to be her example. It is not easy work at times, and I am not perfect. But I love my children. I enjoy them and value who they are, as distinct persons from me, the person who brought them into this world.
Parenting is a responsibility as well as a gift, and a singular experience that should never be taken lightly. My parents made mistakes, sometimes grave ones, and my relationship with them has changed and evolved as we have all grown.
There is an idea that we are all constantly changing, and it is essential to look at each other anew every day. It doesn’t matter who you were yesterday, or who you will be tomorrow – what matters is who you are right now, at this moment. And this moment demands always that you give the best you have to offer – as a parent, a child, a person in the world.
In closing this cycle on “Lost Children”, I wish to offer a few poems I wrote about my experiences as a child. And further, hope. This moment is constantly changing. We are all given opportunities to grow and expand and evolve. “If you’re not lost, you’re never found.”
Click here to read a few more poems from my unpublished manuscript, My Mother’s Daughter.
The morning grey extended time, day
reversed itself and became closer to night
Solemn and enclosing, the rain
hit the windows and ran rivulets down the glass
it pounded against the house, sending the cats
to take cover underneath the beds
By mid-afternoon, the sky turned misty
and the sun pressed against the opaque sky
casting an ethereal light on everything
Waiting outside for my daughter, it was impossible
not to notice, even the grass had never been
quite that shade of green
She came home tired and cranky
I kissed her forehead and told her she was missed
at school all day, on this long day
She hugged me, and as I held her in my arms
I looked into her face and followed her back
to the beginning, when the world was raw and new
Nothing could touch us then, nothing.
And now, life, it is too much sometimes, or else
a pit of nothingness and despair. Would if I could
have lived as Dickinson or Rich, Atwood or Bukowski
not Plath, never Plath, perfection has no children
yet; the children would survive her
I don’t know how to rebuild pieces of a dream
I cannot catch them with my hands, I cannot be sure
which piece fits where. Everything hangs in the balance
and I am shaken, so much depends upon …
Did you really believe, Williams, upon
a red wheelbarrow?
The children are sleeping, in a wave
of exhaustion, the scent of sickness
still upon them, the baby
cried and cried until held her
against my breast and she
finally gave into sleep, rosebud mouth
open, cries still sobbing through her
as if it were involuntary
I laid her in bed and held her tiny body
against the length of my torso
I put my ear to her chest and listened
to her heartbeat, so close to me
through the small frame
of bone, the soft surface of skin.
I heard her heart beat loud and strong
and remembered our doctor’s visits
when she was still in the womb, we
would always begin by baring my
stomach and rubbing the cool, clear gel
white noise of the machine and then
the microphone making its way across
my body, looking for that unmistakable
noise, the faint sound of her fetal heart
and how it never failed
to bring tears to my eyes, each time
I was overcome with it
now she sleeps, nearing one year
outside the womb, she is still becoming
and I hope she can grow strong
in this fragile space, my life.
It is cold and grey and misty
outside; winter rain isn’t kind
I just finished the dishes
and am sitting at the kichen table
watching my daughter dance
wildly across the living room
she’s dressed like a flamenco dancer
twirling and leaping, ponytail flying
my other child is napping
it’s late to nap, but she’s so content
cradled in the warmth of slumber
against the harsh winter cold
I am sitting here, counting these
stolen moments upon one hand,
each finger slightly dimpled from
dishwater and soap
I know soon one child will wake
and the other will run into the kichen
there are needs to be met, and my
mother’s daugther has work to do.
I’m tired, but its a good tired
this is the most important work I’ll
ever do, my role is complex.
I need to be the change I wish to see
the children look at the world
through my eyes, and I want them
to see something beautiful, something
wonderful. I am changing, growing
stronger, I am evolving.
But for now, I need to linger here
listening to my life resonate
each path has led me to this moment
and I embrace it, finding my life
a wellspring of love and laughter
I want to hold this feeling,
hold it in my fragile hands
as if it were a tangible thing
I would never let go.
Salvador Dali, “The Persistence of Memory”
This is the second post in my weekly series. I should have probably mentioned that my concept of time is a bit, um, different than the standard units of measuring time. When I first thought of this idea, I initially thought that I would like to choose one day a week, preferably the same day each week, in which to carry out a “weekly series.” However, my schedule varies and changes daily. Thanks for bearing with me while I try to carve a weekly space for this writing!
Yesterday, I had time, but I did not come online much because of the internet strike against SOPA and PIPA. I was very happy that WordPress chose to participate in the strike, and blacked out the content on the main page. On the whole, I was impressed by the efforts across the internet to take a strong stance against these bills and to raise general awareness to the public.
Many sites offered reasons why they opposed these bills, and offered links to take further direct action. Google gave a statement and an online petition that would be sent directly to Congress. Wikipedia gave a redirect in which you could enter your zipcode to receive contact information on your district representatives.
I am against both SOPA and PIPA because I believe in a free exchange of information and ideas across the world via the internet. And while I understand the concerns about copyright and piracy and intellectual property – governmental control of the internet is not the answer. I wonder if people who are not opposed to these bills understand the full implications of such.
The first thing that came to my mind is the Occupy Movement. On my local television and radio stations in New York, the Occupy Wall Street movement was given the thinnest of coverage, and what was covered was filtered through bias and propoganda. All of my information about what was really going on came from the internet. In a government controlled internet, it would be possible to block ANY information that the government decides upon. SOPA and PIPA are not just about copyright and piracy and intellectual property. It is a challenge to our concept of Democracy.
Recently I was thinking about the time in my life shortly after I gave birth to my first daughter. I remember that I was watching the news on the television, and as I watched story after terrible story, a pit of despair grew within me until I was in tears. All I could think about was, What kind of world did I bring my child into?
And though I have never been a person to stand by and watch in silence, it was that moment that rooted me in this world. And however naive this may sound, I still believe that it is possible to make the world a better place.
I feel that it is essential to participate in whichever way I can; there is too much at stake. The strongest reason that I became a teacher is because I believe that education is key to helping future generations become more active and aware of the world and their place in it. This is how I raise my children and this is how I live my life.
Continuing with the theme of “Lost Children”, I feel that we are a society of lost children, trying to find our way, hoping that this time we may find the right path. Today, I want to share some old poems. I don’t write very much about my children, but when they were young it was the only way I could process the experience. These poems are about my own children and my experience as being a young mother, a single parent, and a struggling writer.
Click here to view three poems from my unpublished collection of poetry, My Mother’s Daughter.
It’s now 2012 … happy new year! I always love the turning of the calendar into January, as we close the door on the past year and open the door to the future. I feel like January gives the world a safe place to end, then a reminder; begin again. We celebrate the previous year, think about where we are, where we’ve been, where we’re going. We create, or renew, our resolutions. We celebrate another year of life, another chance to try, another opportunity to begin our worlds anew.
I’ve been doing some work on this website, updating links and categories and pages, trying to organize and expand. I’ve been planning to submit my poetry manuscript for publication sometime in the spring. I’ve got some poems and stories coming out in the next several months, and I’ll be excited to see them in print! I also began a series on this website, where I will share unpublished poems and stories on a weekly basis. I’m really excited about the series, and though I’m still working it out conceptually, I love the potential of this project!
I know that the year 2012 will bring about many changes. Both of my children will graduate this year; my older child will start her first year of high school, my younger one will begin middle school. I am hopeful that the economy may turn around, and that 2012 will see me in a better working and financial situation. If all goes well, I may see the publication of my first poetry book by next year! January finds me on a shifting precipice, not sure where my path will lead next. But I am hopeful, as I look to the future, and cast my dreams and wishes into the new year. Wish me luck! xo
When thinking of what to share in the first post of this series, I immediately thought of my story, “Into the woods.”
I had come across a submission call for contemporary re-tellings of fairy tales, but with a specific theme – Lost Children. It is rare for me to write something for a call, but in this case I did. The more I thought about “lost children” in the modern day, and in the conceptual world of fairy tales, the more this story unfolded.
These characters revealed their story to me, and it’s difficult to explain this process when I can barely understand it myself. It was a hard story to write, because I had to let the story happen without trying to gloss over difficult subject matter or manipulate the outcome. But I feel that the story ends on a hopeful note – there are many dead ends and dark paths before them, but there also paths which will open towards being found.
Needless to say, I submitted this story to the call, and months later, I received a rejection letter. However, it was one of the strangest rejection letters I had ever received. The editor went to great lengths to express how much she loved my story, how powerful it was, how she wished to see it in print, how it deserves to be in print, etc, etc, and that she wanted this particular collection to be light and beautiful so she wouldn’t be able to include my story.
I do not take rejections personally, but this time I did. I would have preferred a standard, formatted response over the response I did receive, knowing that the editor was trying to explain herself, that she felt compelled to, by expressing over and over again that I wrote a really great story that should be published, but she couldn’t find a place for it.
Over the past year, I’ve put a really strong effort towards publishing my work. I’ve read hundreds of different poetry and story journals and magazines, and although I have come across some interesting writers, the whole of what is being published in contemporary literature is very safe, repeating what we already know works in terms of language and genre.
For a writer like me, who is interested in really exploring language and storytelling, I forget that my work goes where some people aren’t used to going, because I am trying to go places that haven’t been fully explored.
I thought of creating this weekly series so that I could share my work directly with an audience, without having to depend upon the subjectivity of the submission process. I don’t want my lost children to be sent into a world where their dreams are dusty pages in a book snapped shut. I feel like I don’t have time to wait anymore. I just don’t have time to lose anymore.
I think that the heart of what it is to be a writer is to dare to dream and explore and discover new worlds, new terrains of language and communication and storytelling. But what is different is often looked upon negatively. People generally like what they are used to. However, all writers carry a responsibility, and the potential to develop their own, unique voice and specific way of communicating their inner-visions, their ways of looking at the world.
And in spite of the rejections, I’ve also received a great reception to some of my work, much of which has been published or will be in places that are seeking similar things in art and in life. I’m also aware that sometimes a writer’s audience lies in the future.
I don’t know what lies ahead for me. I can only follow what I feel are signs, and hope that my own breadcrumb trail leads me down the right path, to the one that finds me found, lost.
Into the woods – Lost Children: Hansel and Gretel revisited
Once upon a time, there lived a brother and sister; the brother was called Hansel, and the sister was called Gretel. They lived in a small cottage with their father deep in the woods. Their mother was dead, and they were very poor. Their father loved Hansel and Gretel more than anything in the world, and he longed for them to have a mother again. He, too, longed for the touch of a woman again. He remarried out of hope, lost in the ashes of despair and loneliness. But he married a cold and cruel woman. She could not find it in her heart to love Hansel and Gretel, and soon began devising ways in which to get rid of them, to send them deep into the heart of the forest, to leave them alone with lean grey wolves, to lose them so completely that they would be lost forever -
“What are you reading?”
Hannah was startled and shuddered a gasp, her eyes wide. The book on her lap trembled as she looked toward the open window, where she saw Gregory’s face, mild and curious, looking at her.
“Shh!” she said, putting a finger to her lips. She looked quickly at her closed bedroom door, then got up and went to the window.
“Gregory, do you want to get me in trouble?” she whispered.
“No.” Gregory hesitated. “I came to say hello.”
“Hello.” Hannah said, “Now, goodbye, goodnight.” She turned away from the window.
Hannah closed her eyes. She liked Gregory a lot, but she knew that if her step-father caught him here, like this, in the middle of the night – she didn’t want to think of the consequences.
“What are you reading?”
“Gregory, please, you need to leave.”
“Why won’t you call me ‘Greg’? Only my grandparents and my teachers call me Gregory.”
“I like the name Gregory -” Hannah stopped, “Whatever. We can talk about this another time. You are going to get me into serious trouble. If anyone wakes up -” Tears came to Hannah’s eyes; she bit her lip.
“Hey… hey, I’m sorry. I thought you might like the surprise.”
This wasn’t going at all like Greg had planned. He thought she might find his visit romantic, or something. What did he know, he thought. He was twelve years old and in love. Was it love? If it wasn’t love, then what was that weird feeling in his stomach when he thought of Hannah, of her long golden hair, of her soft voice. The wild, sweet smelling roses in his hand were wilting, and he suddenly squeezed the bouquet so tightly that one of the thorns bit his palm and trickled blood into his hand.
“I’m sorry.” He held the flowers into the open window. “Really I am.”
“Oh.” Hannah said, surprised, looking from the roses to Gregory’s face. He was blushing deeply.
Her hand reached out to accept the gift and for a moment, she held the bouquet in both hands, bringing the flowers close to her face, brushing the petals against her lips so she could inhale their scent, before her bedroom door suddenly opened.
She froze for an instant, then quickly threw the flowers out of the window. Greg saw her eyes flash, the way he imagined a doe would look as an oncoming car advanced, stock-still with fear, unable to defend herself against the crash. Her step-father stood at the doorway.
Greg crouched low. His heart was beating so fast, so loudly inside his chest, he was sure he would be found out.
Hannah was right, he shouldn’t have come. He didn’t want to get her in trouble. He didn’t think about that. He lived with his grandparents, and they didn’t care what he did or where he went. His mother was a teenager when she had him, and she left him with his grandparents when he was born. No one knew who his father was; he was a grey shadow. And all he knew of his mother was that gave birth to him, and then she left him; his grandparents said that she was lost.
“Get away from that window.”
Hannah’s step-father staggered across the room and grabbed her arm. He smiled at her, a cold, cruel smile. Then he let go of her arm and touched her hair, letting it run through his fingers.
“You know what I want. Get into bed.” Hannah began to cry softly.
Greg heard her crying. He didn’t know what was going on. Her step-father closed the light but he didn’t leave the room. Greg was afraid to leave, he was afraid to stay. He didn’t want to make a sound.
All was silence, more silence, then silence broken by sobs. And then sounds that he wished he never heard; sounds that he never should have heard. Rose petals and thorns were scattered on the ground around him. The scent was so sweet, so sickly sweet, he felt his stomach heave, and then he ran, he ran and ran, across streets and houses and into the woods as far as he could, before the nausea overtook him and he fell to the ground, shaking and in tears.
Night passed, and Greg awoke to the dawn chorus of birds and the first weak rays of the sun. He went home.
Grandmother and Grandfather were at the kitchen table, eating breakfast. They didn’t acknowledge him. They didn’t even know he had been gone all night. He went straight to his room, and tried to go back to sleep, back to blessed unconsciousness, but he couldn’t. He tossed and turned the nightmare of the previous night still vivid in his mind. Hannah. He had to do something. He had to help her.
The next morning he went to Hannah’s. Her mother greeted him at the door. She was wearing a grey dress. She smiled.
“Yes, Hannah’s home, Gregory, come on in.”
Greg walked into the hallway and stood there awkwardly as Hannah’s mother called her name several times.
“Hi Gregory.” Hannah appeared shyly.
“Hey, want to go for a walk or hang out at the park or something?”
“Umm, I …” Hannah’s face turned red. “I can’t right now.”
Hannah’s mother turned to her. “You’ve been stuck in that room all day. Go outside. It’s summer.”
“Go outside.” Hannah’s mom said firmly. “Take a walk with Gregory. Go to the park or something, just be home by dinner. Remember, I have an overnight shift tonight.”
Hannah looked quickly at her mother. “But I thought you said no more overnights.”
“I know, I know. But we need the money, sweetie. You won’t be alone. Your dad will be here.”
“He’s not my dad.” Hannah said, her voice edging anger.
Hannah’s mother let out a long, resigned sigh. Greg looked at the floor, his mind working. She didn’t know, he thought, her mother didn’t know.
“I’m sorry.” She said, and tried to give her a hug, but Hannah turned away.
“Let’s go Gregory.” Hannah began to walk out of the door.
“Hannah.” Her mother called after her; it was a soft cry, a plea.
The screen door slammed as Hannah left the house and Greg shifted uncomfortably in the hallway, left alone with Hannah’s mother, who seemed on the verge of tears.
“It’s okay. Her father died only a few years ago. It’s been very difficult, very hard on her – but, it’s okay, go… Thank you, Gregory, for being a friend to her. She hasn’t made many friends since we moved here.”
Greg nodded and left to find Hannah; together they walked towards the park.
They walked in silence. Every once in a while he heard Hannah sniff and saw her wipe her eyes. He didn’t know what to do. He wanted to tell her the plan, but it seemed more difficult now that she was there to hear it.
“I want to help you.” Greg said.
“You can’t help me. No one can help me. I don’t even know why you are here.” Hannah began to cry even more.
“But I can help you… I want to. I like you, Hannah. I mean, I.” Greg stopped, took a deep breath, and began again.
“You should tell your mother.”
“The way I see it is that there are two options. The first, probably the smartest, is to tell your mother.”
“But why not?”
“I said NO.”
“But Hannah –”
“I tried already, okay! She wouldn’t listen to me. She thought I was making it up because I lost my real dad, because we moved here and I didn’t want to.” Hannah was crying, sobbing hard.
Greg watched her helplessly. He wasn’t used to girls crying like this. He wasn’t used to any of this. He wanted to kill her step-father. He wanted to kill him.
“We can go somewhere else. Just keep walking through the woods and come out somewhere new, somewhere people don’t know us. We can change our names.”
“She wouldn’t listen to me.” Hannah whispered.
“You can’t stay there. You can’t.”
“I don’t want to.”
“So that’s the second plan. We’ll run away. We’ll go somewhere else. I promise I’ll protect you. I won’t let him hurt you ever again.”
Hannah’s tears began to subside into small sobs.
“Tonight, we’ll go tonight. After your mother goes to work … I’ll meet you at the window and you can jump. Bring enough to fit into a bag. But you’ll be carrying that bag for a while so don’t make it heavy. Some clothes, some food.”
“Books?” she added.
“Yeah,” Greg said, “whatever you want. Just don’t make it heavy. We can’t take too much because we’ll be walking an awful lot.”
“Are you sure about this, Gregory?” Hannah looked at him with liquid eyes. “What if we get lost? What if we get killed in the woods?”
“I used to be Boy Scout, Hannah. I know how to survive in the woods.”
As the afternoon progressed, so did their plan. Greg had no reason to stay with his grandparents. He knew they didn’t want him around anyway. Hannah needed help. She needed him.
At home, Greg gathered everything he thought they might need. Despite telling Hannah not to make her bag heavy, he knew he was making his a little heavy. He could handle the weight. They needed cooking utensils, the camp stove, a tarp, sleeping bags, and all the dry food he could take from his grandparents’ pantry. He gathered spare rope, his Swiss army knife, matches, and a change of clothes.
What do you take, he thought, knowing you won’t ever return? There was his trophy from the years he spent playing baseball. His collection of baseball cards. His collection of comics. His old stuffed animal that he never slept with anymore, well almost never. A picture of his mother.
No, he thought. Those were child’s things. He didn’t need those things. He didn’t feel much like a child anymore. He double and triple checked his bag. When he left the house, his grandparents were watching television. He said “see you later” and there was no answer, no goodbye.
Promptly at ten o’clock, he approached Hannah’s window. He could see her pacing the room.
“I’m here.” Greg whispered.
Hannah swiftly eased her bag from under the bed. She handed it to Greg and he placed it on the ground beside him. He noted that it wasn’t too heavy. He wondered what she had brought. He watched her as she glanced at her bedroom door and then began to make her way through the window.
“I’m scared.” Hannah said, perched on the window ledge.
“I’ll catch you.”
“No, just – get out of the way. I’m going to jump.”
It wasn’t a far jump. She hit the ground with both feet and grabbed her bag.
“Okay, remember, just like we said. Don’t run. We won’t run. Just walk as normal as possible.”
Greg continued to talk in a nervous but soothing sort of way. The words filled the air between them as they walked steadily into the woods. When they reached the woods they did not even pause, they just kept walking.
“It’s so dark.” Hannah said, moving closer to Greg.
“It’s okay; I have a flashlight, let’s just get in a little further. I don’t want to attract attention with the light.”
Hannah’s eyes strained to see through the blackness. There were no shadows, no shades of grey. Greg had walked these paths so many times, he moved more by memory than anything else. Hannah tripped over some stray branches on the path and let out a cry.
“Are you okay?”
“I think so. I just can’t see anything.”
“Hold my hand … if you want to.”
Hannah reached for his hand. She held it tightly. Greg felt his heart beat wildly. They would walk a little further, and then he’d take out the flashlight. Maybe Hannah would keep holding his hand.
He knew of an old grey cabin hidden deep in the woods; that’s where they were headed. It was rumored that a witch lived there, but he knew that it was really only an abandoned shed. They would have to walk as fast and as far away as possible before Hannah’s step-father discovered that she was missing. He knew that her mother would freak out and call the police. He knew his grandparents wouldn’t notice that he was gone right away, but they would eventually.
He shifted the weight on his back and squeezed her hand. They had a dark, twisting path ahead, and a lot of ground to cover, before they got too tired, before night broke into day, before they were found, lost.
If you haven’t heard Eden and John’s East River String Band yet, then you are in for a treat! Based in the East Village in NYC, Eden Brower and John Heneghan have been entertaining audiences in America, Canada, and Europe for the past several years with their versions of 1920s pre-war blues, jazz, pop, and country songs, recreating and reviving a new world of “Old Time” music.
Their unique sound and authentic vibe are a fresh breath of air in contemporary music. By bringing to light this world of old music, they bring us back to a time where the love of playing is as important as technical skill, as they share a catalog of old time songs infused with feeling, emotion, and energy.
Since 2006, the band has released four albums: Sweet East River, Some Cold Rainy Day, Be Kind To A Man When He’s Down, and Drunken Barrel House Blues.
While Eden Brower (vocals, ukulele, guitar & kazoo) and John Heneghan (vocals, guitar, mandolin & kazoo) make up the backbone of the band, the duo has guest musicians play with them at gigs and on recordings. They’ve played with some amazing musicians including Terri Waldo, Dom Flemons, Eli Smith, R. Crumb, and Pat Conte.
Artwork by R. Crumb has graced their last several LP/CD covers, and their first album features cover art by Sophie Crumb. Their CDs and LPs are sold through Red Eye Distribution and on eBay. They are recording their fifth album, Take A Look At That Baby, which they plan on finishing in the South of France this summer.
… I had the pleasure to interview Eden and John for The Happiest Medium. To read the full interview, click here!
1. The state or quality of being resolute; determination.
2. A resolving to do something.
3. A course of action resolved on.
4. A formal statement of a decision or expression of opinion put before or adopted by an assembly or parliament.
5. Phys. & Chem. The act or process of separating or reducing something into its constituent parts.
6. The fineness of detail that can be distinguished in an image.
7. Medic. The subsiding or termination of an abnormal condition.
8. Law. A court decision.
9. a. An explanation, as of a problem; a solution. b. The part of a literary work in which the plot is resolved or simplified.
10. Mus. a. The progression of a dissonant tone or chord to a consonant tone or chord. b. The tone or chord to which such a progression is made.
from The American Heritage College Dictionary. Houghton Mifflin Co. Boston, MA. 1997