(Days eight and nine of Writing 101 writing prompts)
“Do we have to?” Liam whines, drawing out each word. “My tummy thurts.” Liam stretched out dramatically on his racecar bed rubbing his round tawny belly.
“Cut the baby talk and get to work,” I snapped.
Zack and Liam jump. Liam rolls off the bed and starts slowly placing brightly colored plastic blocks into clear bins. I rake handfuls of blocks off the checkered flag rug and fling them into bins. I sort through piles of toys and kid clothes and books. Zack grabs a stack of picture books and rushes to his bookcase and drops the stack. Zack turns to me and freezes. I glare at him and keep sorting. He quickly picks up books and places them on the shelves. Books start falling down as Zack shoves more into the shelves.
“I didn’t make this big mess,” I grumble.
“You know if we get this done that’s a big job. We should get a big dessert,” says Liam.
“Why is this my job? If you just put your toys away. How hard is it to put away damn pajamas?”
“We could go to Dairy Queen.” Liam arched his eyebrows. “We doing good job here.”
More books fall. Zack jerks around to catch my eyes, clutching books, piles of books. Zack scrambles to arrange them. I stare at him. My hands moving faster and faster.
“We could go to Rita’s.”
“Why am I doing this?” I sort. Crayons in art boxes, socks in the sock drawer, race cars fly into bins.
“This isn’t me.” Army soldiers rain into a bucket. My hands crush a half finished puzzle.
Zack’s eyes grow wider.
“I like water ice. And Daddy likes water ice. And Mommy you like water ice. ”
The entire top shelf of books cascades to the rug. Tears run down Zack’s face.
“Ooooo, I’m telling. Mommy, Zack knocked over all those books.”
My hands spring to Liam’s mouth crushing blocks into his mouth.
“No, Mommy, please, Mommy,” Zack pleads. He wraps his plump arms around my waist.
My hands return to my lap. Liam sputters and rolls away from me. Zack and Liam embrace. The toys are sorted into blue, green and bins. With swift easy motions, I organize the bookshelves. A row of stuffed animals smile at me from the wooden bureau. The boys watch me from the bottom bunk with cautious eyes I pick up the last of the Legos and leave.
I am folding laundry on our bed. I am surrounded my four stacks of clean clothes. The air smells of Cool Scent Tide and Tropical Breezes Fabric Refresher Beads. There are still toys on the living room floor but the kitchen sink is empty and clean. I fold. Joseph hasn’t brought up the therapist idea again but then we only talk about the kids and the weather. As long as things look okay they are okay. I fold. The piles grow bigger.
Over the armoire hangs a print of Wyeth’s Christina World that Joseph and I got before we were married. I stare into the mildew yellow of the wheat field, I see the tortured twist of her pink dress, I see the farmhouse roof knife the faded blue sky. Christina turns towards me.
Dirty dishes piled in the sink. Clean laundry on the living room floor. Toys strewed from the mud room to the back door. I lay out the good china next to the bucket of fried chicken.
Joseph sits down at the head of the dining room table and his eyes say, takeout again?
Burning, my eyes retort, if you don’t like it cook dinner your damn self.
Zack and Liam run to their places.
“Yeah, chicken!” Liam shouts. Zack applauds the abruptly stops.
Joseph moves a stack of coloring books off the table while looking at me. I elbow an open box of crayons onto the floor.
“Oopsie Momsy.” Liam climbs under the table after the crayons.
“Did ya know George Washington? We learned about him at school,” Liam asked. “He’s president.”
“No he’s not,” Zack snapped. “Ben Franklin is president.”
“Uh uh Washington is president and he’s bestest.” The boys begin to kick each other under the table.
My eyes plead with Joseph to handle something for once.
Joseph’s eyes say, I don’t work two jobs to come home to this.
My hands are trembling. I bury my hands under the table and stamp my feet.
Zack sticks out his tongue.
“Mommy who’s bestest?”
“It’s best, moron.”
“Mommy mommy mommy.”
I squeeze my sides. “Washington and Franklin are both wonderful. I’ve always loved Edith Wharton. Daddy and I visited her house before you were born. She’s a writer like Mommy.”
I turn to look at Joseph. His head is buried in the plate. He looks up at gtee boys and me. “Yeah just like mommy.”
My hands suddenly throw my glass on the floor.
(Day 4 of Writing 101 writing prompt series)
I have been cleaning for eight days straight. Straight. Organizing our books, throwing out useless junk, polishing the tops of each spice bottle, I have been cleaning for eight straight days. Last night at around two, Joe came down into the basement where I was sorting through the kids’ baby clothes for Good Will and he asked me to take it easy. He said we should talk. He said maybe we should talk to someone together. He said he wanted me to be happy. He said I haven’t been happy for a long time.
No shit, Sherlock. So I’m taking it easy. Because I know what he’s really saying is that I have to cut the crap. So today is easy. I watched Rosalind Russell movies all day after the kids went to school. What could be easier than “His Girl Friday?” I put my wicker knitting basket on my lap and picked out a half a sock. A Soleful Sock what could be easier. The unfinished baby blanket sitting upstairs mocking me that’s a bitch but this sock pattern was easy peasy. I start knitting in the round as Cary Grant and Rosalind Russell trade jabs. I look down I’m knitting backwards. I frog and start my row over. Drop stitch, redo, drop stitch, redo, work for ten rows, notice ladder, throw project across room. I looked down at my hands.
When I was a kid, a little kid, I used to hide in a secret room in my bedroom. No one knew about not even my sister. No one could know about it or it would disappear. It was between the door jamb and the corner and I would slip into my invisible room with my pillow, my blanket, and Mr. Moneybanks and disappear too.
I looked down at those hands that looked almost exactly like mine and then I went upstairs.
Cat videos. If I were on a mission to Mars that went terribly wrong and I could never get home again. I would of course miss my family and friends and chocolate cake and Van Gogh paintings and that Twilight Zone episode, but what I would really miss is sitting under my giant ugly toasty warm lighthouse blanket on my office futon with a Big Gulp of diet Coke and a box of Mike and Ike’s to make up for the healthy coke and a laptop full of crazy cat videos.
It is not because I love cats. I do. I love dogs too and rabbits and I don’t even mind ferrets. But I love cats doing silly things because they are kind of wild and can’t be really taught so the silly things are all their own. And I love that people would bother to video their cats, which is sillier than the cats themselves.
But what I really love is that it is the perfect waste of time with no redeeming value. And they are funny. I really need to write. I need to clean the house, make lunches, find where in the hell are my husband’s tan dress pants and then figure out why that is my problem and then I need to write again. But first I am going to look at some kittens sleeping in shoes.
The house is dead quiet. Everything is dark and everyone is asleep except for me. Wait, maybe I am asleep. I turn my device and read writing I don’t recognize. Who wrote this? My fingers are silent.
Back in my office again, I stare down at my fingers on the keyboard. Those fingers poised over the home keys, stiff and posed like a mannequin’s. No words, no thoughts, no nothing.
I spin in my chair. There is clean laundry to be sorted on my futon, and that nearly finished baby blanket for Joan’s kid. Dirty laundry waits for me in the hall. Old scratched hardwood floors, stuffed bookshelves with books and magazines, paint thinner, brushes and spools of brightly colored ribbon scream out at me every inch of the overladen wooden shelves. Small family photos and large movie posters jostle each other on walls. The large Victorian windows look down on me pityingly. I love my office.
I remember after college I went to Paris with a notepad. And every street was a picture postcard. And I wrote all day in cafés. And I went to a bookstore once crammed with overstuffed bookshelves and book carts and the elderly shop owner asked, “You must be a writer. Would you join me for tea?” I remember that cellophane-wrapped day.
I return to my motionless fingers. Maybe I should try to a write in the backyard.
(Day 1 of Writing 101 writing prompts)
hands are lit up by the glow of my iPad. I can hear the boys not sleeping in their room across the hall. I can hear Joseph not working in his office in the attic. Solitaire most likely, or porn, or both. I smell the faint odor of cooked onions from tonight’s almost successful oven fried chicken. Cars are driving down the road past my office window. I see stacks of books and some calendars I want to decoupage and a forgotten plate. All of my senses are working. I move my fingers in the cold blue light of the screen. Everything is working except my brain. No ideas are flowing.
I used to be a firehouse. In college ideas flooded out of me in a torrent. I wrote papers and poetry and edited the campus arts magazine and yada yada yada and now I squeeze out words in tiny painful chunks. I look at my hands. They are my mother’s hands. I turn them black spiders against that cool blue light.
“Stop it right now or so help me–” My voice shrill and sharp lashes out. I rush into the boys’ room and begin shouting for quiet. I stop when the youngest looks like he’s going to cry. Chagrined I start picking up their room, tidying their shelves of picture books and stuffed animals. I clean and clean until I notice they have fallen asleep. Joseph comes down stairs.
“You know it wouldn’t kill you to help with the boys. They are your kids too you know.”
Joseph brushes past me and heads into the bedroom.
“I thought you were going to write.”
I look at his retreating back and head back to my blank screen.
(Results of my first writing prompt.)
Welcome to my latest foray into blogging. I’m supposed to identify with my audience, state my blog’s intentions, and develop a compelling brand with striking imagery. I don’t have time for all of that I have to make dinner and get all these ants off the porch. But I do promise to deliver regular doses of inspiration. Recipes, patterns, projects, prompts, and the occasional guffaw, anything to bring some creativity to your everyday. Stay tuned, now back to those ants.