inspiration via washington

writer's block. it had never hit me so hard as it has in the past seven months. And yet I'd never had the urge to write so much as I do now...and with that said, as I sat in bed tonight, i felt the need to write the following passage.

I write you from a cramped bedroom in a one-story ‘burb settlement, a cozy little thing just out of Seattle, a lazy street in Kent. Two sixty-ninth street. With all the solitary confinement I’ve been forced into, the only thing that I’ve truly realized is that I miss my boys. And my girl. I realize that I’ve been dying all along to reclaim my talent. The one that I pined over years ago, slaving away at the dusty desktop screen I’d inherited. Back in those days, I still ran on ’98. The internet was something unheard of, I still couldn’t be trusted, just as I couldn’t have been with PG-13 movies, or walking on my own anywhere. But in today’s world, or well, at least my world, I’m off adventuring the streets in the steel-gray contraption I lovingly refer to as my car. New and shiny, but left to rust slowly for two weeks as I’m trapped in this ten-by-ten prison cell. It’s furnished sparsely. A bed, a wire nightstand, and a standalone black lamp. There are two electrical outlets; just enough for me to play musical plugs with all of the electronic charges that I need. Phone, computer, two cameras…I’m not sure why I have so many things. In today’s day and age, your entire life’s worth of entertainment could be found in but one of these things, but of course we feel to stock up on everything. My sister didn’t feel it necessary to rest up in a bed, and thusly I’ve inherited the bed, as the little fiend cuddles up to my mother’s boyfriend. You would’ve thought that she’d need a longer time to patch the hole that was my dad. But I guess the universe spins itself in ways that we do not understand, and this is the way that things were meant to be. Myself? I probably would have done the same. I jump unbarred from one to the next at the will of my fancy, whatever catches my attention. I’m only human in that way, I suppose. This is the life of a child who had been utterly spoiled, rolled in whatever she wanted and more, even in things she hadn’t wanted. Given the life that many people would dream of, only to have it come crashing into the stairs as I wailed at the news my nanna delivered. I thought that was the end. But no, it wasn’t. Of course it wasn’t. In many stories, in fact, with a scene such as that, it would have been the beginning of some magical tale where I would walk down the path of romance and self-discovery. It would be a joke in real life. Needless to say, life did not end there, and seven months down the line…yes seven months. In fact, seven months ago exactly, I was just finishing the final dinner that my dad served, a bowl of soup and a turkey sandwich. I can still imagine the taste, exactly the way that he would always make it. There was certain softness in the way that everything kind of crammed into my mouth when I ate his food. He was sending some of his final texts and cleaning the kitchen one last time. And then he would stand once more in front of the television in his room while attempting to simultaneously prepare himself for work. I was supposed to have let him sleep that day, but upon seeing him play that football game, and my brother running rampant through the bedroom, I’d felt it better to let him be. He never got to really play when my mom was home without some request or another to fulfill. To this day I wonder if he’d still be around if he’d slept. Every time I shake it away, as it wasn’t a slow death by lack of sleep, it had been a sudden onslaught. But I’m getting ahead of myself, as much before that, perhaps seven months ago on the dot, that I was practicing the music for the winter concert, I’d just discovered my choir folder under the bed. It’s odd how I can hardly remember what I’d done last month, and yet I can remember the finest details about that one day. My senior project partner, or at least the boy that was supposed to be, had come to our house. I’d caught a ride home with his grandmother without telling my dad; his final text to me had been that it could have been seen as kidnapping. I’d worried I’d be in trouble as we sat in the parking lot to the military exchange. I’d been promised a yoohoo! that to this day I’ve never seen. When I got home, there he stood at the door and I gave him a cheery hello and asked him if he was alright. He said he had a headache. My partner and I pondered over the mysteries of a spinning ballet dancer. Dad put up the Christmas tree, the box had water in it from our spark-sucking refrigerator. He left at about ten. My mom woke me at about eleven thirty, telling me that dad had an asthma attack, and they’d be back. I needed to go in the room with my brother, to watch him, make sure he was okay. I lay there and fell asleep almost immediately. At two in the morning, I heard a thud, and crying. For the first time in recorded history, my brother had fallen out of bed. It was at that moment that my entire universe was put out of balance. He cried fitfully, and we walked upstairs, where Nanna was just coming in to babysit. I dropped him off with her and retired to my bed, daydreaming of the field trip the next day, a choir gig that would end in a trip to the mall. There would be so much fun, I thought to myself, it would be fun… I had almost gotten to sleep when Nanna called my name, pulled me from my twilight stage, and I grumbled as I rolled out of bed, wondering what she needed of me…but when I got to the stairs there she stood on the landing, taking the steps so slowly with tears in her eyes. It isn’t good. It isn’t good at all. And in my heart I prayed and prayed but by this point I already knew. Your father just passed away. And out came the street and up came the bottom step, I pressed myself into the carpet, wishing in vain that I was asleep. I screamed so that perhaps everyone in the neighborhood would awake, rush over to see my pain, feel my pain, feel the pain that should not have been there in the first place. Our life was perfect, I was thinking to myself. Now what? Nothing. There’s nothing anymore. But there was something, there was my brother, I thought. Somehow I was now in my room turning out my drawers for something to wear. What do you wear to your father’s deathbed? Khaki cargo shorts and a red, ribbed tank top. I threw on the first jacket that I saw. My brother wandered into the mess of my abode. I held him still sobbing. My sister was bewildered. I couldn’t tell her, and neither could nanna. We piled into the car, forgetting the car seat, I held the almost-two-year-old in my lap. The hospital couldn’t come soon enough, even as the needle breached seventy, it couldn’t come fast enough. It just wouldn’t come, couldn’t come, it didn’t come when I needed it. She parked, and I ran, the downturned faces realizing who approached, three disheveled children who’d rolled out of bed during the wee hours of the morning. I ran, my eyes planted on the door to the emergency room. I pushed through the front door at a jog, flitting pupils, watching for the room. They herded my sister and brother away while a nurse looked at me knowingly, concern to her face, and she took me to him in the corner room, the curtain drawn. Tubes protruded from his lips, flecked with blood and secured with soggy gauze. The next moments were a blur, I know my mother said something, cried, but I just stared at his chest, unmoving, his hand didn’t stir, nothing would move of its own free will, though I pleaded with god right there, where my father lay, that a miracle would seize that room and he’d gasp into life. But no, all was still. Through the next hours friends and family would wander into that room and we would hug and cry but I could only cling to the lifeless hand, now turning blue, and marvel that I’d never noticed before; our  thumbs were like twins. I eyed the gold about his neck, that which he’d worn almost constantly for over a decade. In that instant, I wanted it. The hours dragged by and yet went fleetly, I remember walking into the holding room, more family, returning to find that the tubes were gone, seeing my sister sobbing uncontrollably, everyone telling my brother that daddy was sleeping. For the next five months, that would be the constant lie for my brother. Daddy is sleeping. It was painful to hear them speak those words, because no goddamn it, he wasn’t sleeping, and the words were a like an empty promise to my ears. I looked spitefully to the nurses and doctors that came in and out, looked around the cramped little room and couldn’t help but to think…if only there was a better hospital, if there were better nurses, if there was a better doctor… A prayer was said. The wedding ring was pulled from his finger for my mother. The necklace was removed with a hint of difficulty as they lifted his head to unclasp it. My mother held it for a few minutes before I worked up the courage to ask for it. I could see that she didn’t truly wish to give it up, but she obliged. He was my father, I was obligated to certain things. After all, she had his ring. It was one of those things that we only notice afterwards, but mom never wore her wedding ring. The excuse was that it didn’t fit anymore. I placed it around my neck. I look down at it now. We’ve never parted since that moment, and it’s only left my neck but once…and even then I’d kept it tucked into the folds of my prom dress. I remember running into the parking lot in a fit of tears, splaying myself against the side of someone’s car, and sobbing to my heart’s content and asking aloud why all of it was happening. Nobody answered me, of course. They came to fetch me later, to hear the final prayer. We kissed him one last time. I was the only bit of family to watch as they covered him and rolled him into the back of a truck, and some passionless driver offered empty condolences before shutting the doors and driving away. My eyes followed the white van until I could see it no longer, and everything blurred from there. It all mixes together now, I remember crying into the lap of my boyfriend, the neighbor boy that my dad had caught me almost kissing the night before, just as he concluded closing up the house. Everyone was calling us, people I didn’t know were calling us, people were offering money, anything, anything at all that we needed. I didn’t want any of it. I wanted my dad back. But they weren’t going to give me that, of course they wouldn’t give me that. There were flowers, many flowers, and I hardly went to school until the very end, just enough so that I could pass. His funeral came two weeks later. I prepared my speech the night before, and delivered it with flying colors. The most I can remember of it was that the gate began to cry that day, and that my face was injured by the shoulder embellishments of the police chief. Family, so much family…and my father who lay still in an oversized wooden shoebox. Parts of him were already gone, donated and put to better use, I suppose. And in the end I wailed like a child as they slowly closed the cover, just as I had that night two weeks prior. We kept half of his ashes, while the other half was buried on the other side of the island, with a magnificent view of the mountains and a marvelous white structure. But I couldn’t feel him there beneath the upturned soil, he was still at home, sitting at the head of the dinner table, watching TV, awaiting his programs, biting his fingernails until they bled. Chomping playfully at my brother, dashing excitedly to the computer to apply for another special job. It had been during one of those jobs that we lost them, I can’t help but to say with more than a slight hint of bitterness.  And now seven months later, I can finally get it all down on paper. In a little room in Washington, on two sixty-ninth street, the house of my mom’s boyfriend, the one who could have been my father. In seven months many things have changed. The license in my wallet, the SUV in our driveway. The tenant upstairs, the words from my brother’s mouth. My sister’s need for love, a love beyond that which any healthy nine-year-old should need.  My mother’s leash upon me, my lack of motive turned into motive without energy. My boyfriend to my ex, into the next boy I can quite lovingly refer to as mine. And finally, after seven months, the urge once again to have my fingers flit across a black-and-white landscape of ridges and symbols. Within these three pages, I wished once again to strike up that which I loved so much, and had lost in seconds. It is time for me to stop missing my boys and my girl, because I’ve found the drive to breathe life into them once more.

The End

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