Not 9am today.
Well… a visitor has come today and so I wasn’t able to make my 9am start quite as I would have liked, but the visitor was worth it. I had to finish off yesterday’s post, which took up more time than I would have liked, but I think I’m going to create a short story about yesterday’s post anyways. The creative process is an interesting one… I think it’s fascinating that I started off describing a picture of a family, and wound up spending all day the day after trying to decipher what I’d written the day before, thought I’d come up with a schematic for writing a short story, but have now come up with something entirely different than what I’d initially thought I’d be writing about. We’ll see where this goes.
Zachary Nikahd is 13 and a half years old. Look at him. Though it doesn’t even cover his ears, his hair is a little long for a boy. It is messy, black, and grows straight up and out. His arms are wrapped around his father and he has a big, goofy smile on his face. That smile says a lot about him. We know, for example, that he has braces because the smile exposes them. That smile pushes his cheeks backwards, and creates a continuous line from the corner of his nose to the corner of his lips, carried towards the chin in what looks like an incomplete triangle. Two smaller creases, like footballer war-paint, smile their own smile just beneath his eyes. Chubby cheeked and smiling, he is an awkward-looking child. He’s clearly happy though.
This was not always the case. Earlier in his life, four years earlier to be precise, Zach attended a public school that he hated. It wasn’t that the public school was generally a bad one, at least not necessarily; it was just awful for Zach specifically. He was bullied. A lot. He didn’t learn the material being taught as quickly as the other students. He was always the youngest in the class. He didn’t have very many friends. He just didn’t fit in very much of anywhere. Zach would often become physically ill because of all the stress, and given that he was on a daily school-strike, his parents took him out of the public school system and put him into a private one. At the time this picture was taken, he had already spent three years attending the private school, and had learned more at any other point during his public school education.
Look at that, there again… a family that is full of love and is seemingly held together by it. This is not untrue, but it is also not totally real either. Sometimes, dad would get so mad at me for something that we wouldn’t talk for days. There is one experience in particular that has stuck with me my entire life, which is actually something of a miracle because I rarely remember anything from my childhood. There are very few memories, though, where I can remember every detail down to the way the air felt on my skin that I believe I will carry with me forever. Instances in my life that I will never forget. This is one of them.
Dad and I hadn’t spoken in a while. I was always too scared to confront him and he was always too angry to at my non-confrontational behavior to be calm with me. I spent so much of my childhood scared of setting off that temper, but it seemed as if it were an inevitability, and hard as I might try to avoid giving him a reason to be mad, he’d find one. One summer, my mom was sick with something, I can’t remember what, but she needed to take antibiotics to get over it. The antibiotics prescribed to her were immense, these giant horse-pills that even someone who is good at swallowing medication would have thought twice about. I mean, BIG. My mom, who is notoriously bad at swallowing anything larger than a Tylenol (and has trouble even with Tylenol sometimes), was terrified of taking them. So she cut one in half. I was in the living room of the house at the time. A fairly large and open space with blue walls and blue rag carpeting. Both my mom and dad were in the kitchen getting dinner ready. The sun was on its way down, but it was summertime, so it was still quite warm outside. It was a beautiful evening actually.
She tried swallowing one half of the pill, but the way she’d cut it, it broke. As she tried to swallow it, a jagged edge got stuck in her throat, and she began to choke. and choke. and retch. and choke. and it was stuck. and I was terrified to hear all of this noise that I’d never heard before. I ran into the kitchen to see what was going on, and mom was on the floor crying, but breathing thank christ, and dad was on the floor beside her. I asked, ‘Is she all right? What happened?” and because dad still wasn’t talking to me, he just looked at me and didn’t say a word. Not a thing. Clearly mom was breathing again and was fine, but what if she hadn’t been. Would he still not have talked to me? We had dinner as a family on the back porch that night, but this still remains one of my most vivid memories of that porch in the summertime.”
That’s it for today… Time’s up. The quoted section hasn’t changed at all. I haven’t gotten to it yet. Bah. Today was not a speedy day, though it was productive in other ways. Here’s hoping that tomorrow’s more successful.