Saturday, July 9, 2011

A Short Story I wrote in March 2011

Comments are appreciated. I will probably delete this post after a while, it just depends. It has no title so if you can think of one, suggest it in the comments!! :)

No Title
A. J. Spindle
The rocks and debris bite into my skin as I drop to my knees. All I can see is the blue tarp in front of me, completely still. The hair on my arms stands, leaving a tingling, icy feeling, despite my many layers. The police men don’t say anything as they watch from behind. I reach out and pinch the corner of the tarp, hand shaking, and pull it back.

My sister, my beautiful little sister and the last of my family, lay silently with her black hair pushed back, away from her eyes that are half open as though she were just waking. I look away. My nose burns and my throat closes up. A hand flies to my mouth, startling me, but it’s mine; a knee-jerk reaction. I can’t speak. There really isn’t anything to say. My teeth sink into my lower lip and I rest my forehead on my knees to make the world stop spinning while I blink back tears.

There’s a strong hand on my shoulder, rooting me to the spot, digging me deeper into the rubble of our home. “I’m sorry. I’m so, so sorry,” he whispers.

I turn and look, it’s one of the men who lived on my street. His eyes are watery and gray, rimmed in red. Folds of paper thin skin drape over them like a canopy. He opens his mouth to speak but I can’t hear him. There’s waves of rushing water in my ears as the blood pumps through my veins. I only have one thought: My heart’s beating and hers is not.

I stand quickly and rock back on my heels. The man catches me and puts an arm around my shoulder. I want to shrug it off, like it doesn’t matter if he cares, but I can’t. I’m so numb. I don’t know how I can move when my body feels this heavy, like my sadness is a thick, wet wool blanket draped over me. It’s suffocating. I’m led to the jeep and someone helps me into a seat, buckles me in. As we begin to drive away, the cold air chills me to the bone and I wonder for a second if I can ever really feel warm again.

I wake up in the middle of the night, feeling as if someone had scrapped out my insides with a dull knife. There’s an emptiness in the pit of my stomach. I swallow hard, trying to hold down the pain and nausea. I roll over on my side and shrug off my blanket. The room is filled with quiet snores, people asleep all around me, dreaming like the earthquake and tsunami didn’t happen. I envy them, peacefully asleep, able to dream while all I had was a nightmare. I get out of my makeshift bed walk around. Each face I see reminds me I’m not alone in my grief.

A child is curled up into a ball next to her mother, her eyes shut. She’s holding a doll. It’s filthy, covered in dirt and grime, but she clutches it like it’s the last good thing on Earth. Maybe it’s all she has left; the only thing not taken from her. I turn away, brush the wetness from my cheeks, and move on. There’s an old man hunched over in the corner, away from the others. His head is bent forward as if in prayer, but his lips aren’t moving. His chest rises and drops evenly with each breath. Did he lose someone too? A wife? A son? A daughter? Was he all alone now, like me?

It’s too much. I need out. I take a flashlight and go out the front doors. Nobody stops me. Why would they? With me gone, there’d me more room for the others. Someone would notice I left and take my blanket to put on top of their own.
I pull my coat closer around my ears, wandering around, not quite sure where I’m going until my feet take me there. Before I know it, I’m standing in front of my home, or what’s left of it. There’s a little bit of our roof to my left, spread across the muddy ground. To my right is a heap of scrap metal and chunks of wood that used to be the walls.

I shine my little flashlight at the debris. Photographs of me and my sister litter the yard, pieces of my room are half buried under a wall. My eyes stop when they see what’s left of my bookshelf. I climb over the rubble to get to it and scoop up a book. The cover is torn off, pages wavy and splayed out like a Japanese folding fan. It’s soggy with sea water. I drop it back to the ground. It’s trash now.

It’s so quiet it hurts my ears. I have to make some noise or I’ll go mad. I kick the heap of trash in front of me and hear a snap as the wood breaks. It’s comforting, in it’s own way. I kick it again, and again. Finally, I stop and just stand there. I try to picture our house before the disaster. The front door should be here, right in front, and the kitchen window should be to the left, next to a shrub. The walkway should go from the door to where I’m standing now.

There’s nothing left. I’ll have to go back to America, where my aunt and uncle live. Mom and Dad always wanted us to move back anyway. I guess it would be a way to honor them now. I was born there, but I don’t remember much of it; just glimpses like peeking at a photograph. Still images of an open field, horses, and cars. Lots and lots of cars.

The sun begins to rise. I should go, but I need one last goodbye. I stumble over a metal pipe and fall, skinning the palms of my hands on something rough. I sit up, more tears fall, but not because of the pain, it’s because I see her, laying there like she didn’t have a care in the world.

Curled up under the rubble was Mioko, my four-month-old kitten. I crawl over to her on my hands and knees, my clothes snagging on the wreckage. As I get closer, my elation shrinks away to nothing. Mioko isn’t moving. Her black and brown fur is rugged and patchy like someone had sent her through the washer and dryer. I reach out to her, wanting to rest my hand on her ribs, feel the warmth of her fur under my fingers. But I don’t. I just sit there and cry, let it all out. I shed a tear for everything and everyone I lost; my home, my school, my job, Mom, Dad, my sister, and now my little kitten.

I’m wiping my eyes on my sleeve when something rubs up against my thigh, brushing against my jeans. I look down to see Mioko staring up at me with those big green eyes.

I gasp and grab her up in my arms, bury my face in her rough fur. She smells of warm seawater and garbage.

“Mioko, you stupid cat. You scared me to death.” I pull her back to look her in the eyes. She squirms and tries to get free, pawing at my hands. Here we are, the only things left and she wants to play. I just sit there and hold her to my chest, refusing to let her out of my sight.

Eventually I stand up and brush myself off, tuck Mioko under my elbow, and start walking away. Away from my home, my street, the town where I grew up. I’m not really sure where I’m going, but anywhere would be better than here. And wherever I end up, I know it will be okay again. I may not be the same person I was yesterday, but maybe that’s a good thing. Changes are scary and at the same time exciting. As I near the end of my street, I don’t turn around. I keep on walking toward my new life, wherever it may be.

1 comment:

  1. From a purely emotional reaction, my gut was heaving and my heart was aching. You touched on points that, I imagine, are close to you; sister, family, books, cat. Made me feel them too, even though I've no sister (though, lots of books and cat).

    From a critical point of view? Still really great. :) I wouldn't mind seeing that in a collection of short stories sitting on my shelf.