Blockston, Pt, 3

house

Be sure to catch part one and part two of Blockston.

 

Mia sat in her car outside of the tiny diner, staring at the napkin in her hand. Gayle had scribbled out a simple map to the now empty house where she had lived with her parents and brother 20 years ago. Drive down to the blinking caution light, turn left. Drive two blocks to Partridge Street and take a right. The two story white house would be the second house on the right.

Why is my stomach in knots? She wondered. It’s just an old house. She sighed, tossed the napkin onto the passenger’s seat, and shoved her keys into the ignition.

The blinking light. A left turn. Two blocks. A right. And there it was in all its old and decaying glory. She pulled slowly into the long drive and stopped just to the right of the front porch. From this corner, the house appeared to be a large white cube with a green cap on top. The paint was peeling, the foundation was moldy, and a few of the windows were cracked.

She stepped out of the car and continued down the drive on foot, stopping to peer in the side windows. Through the first window, she saw only an empty, dusty room with a hard wood floor. The next window was too tall for her to reach. Probably the bathroom, she thought. The last window on the side of the house was also too high, but if she stood back a ways, she could see kitchen cupboards.

She rounded the corner of the house to find a closed in back porch with windows all the way around it. Inside was an old rusty washing machine and dryer. For a split second, Mia could smell laundry soap and hear water running into the washing machine. She heard her mother’s voice. “Dump it in, Mia, so the clothes can take a bath.” She saw a bruise on her mother’s outstrenched arm.

Mia stepped away from the window and continued around the closed in porch to the other side of the house. This side was not the straight up cube the other side had been. A utility closet occupied the corner where the closed in porch ended. The house then jutted out about eight feet past the utility closet.

This jutted chunk of house was the living room and included another jutted out section about 3×5 feet. Tall windows surrounded this section on the lower story. The upper story was a cute gable with a lone window.

Past the living room’s jutted section was another jut out with weirdly spaced high windows. Must be where the stairs are, she mused.

She rounded the corner and walked around the front porch. The porch had been majestic in its day. Victorian spindles lined the edge of the old, moldy porch roof, some of them broken. Paint was peeling from the white posts and the once gray steps and floor.

She carefully climbed the creaky steps and placed her hand on the door handle of the wooden screen door. Immediately, her mind went back and once again she was watching her younger self.

Young Mia stood trembling, peering out the screen door. Her daddy stood in the front yard in front of two police officers. His fists were clenched and his shoulders heaved with every quick, deep breath.

“Sir. Is everything ok?” One officer asked. “Your wife called. She was concerned for the safety of herself and your children.”

“Everything is perfectly fine,” her dad practically yelled.

“Sir. I’m going to need you to calm down,” the other officer commanded.

“I don’t need to calm down!” By this time Mia’s father was shaking with anger.

One of the officers laid his hand on his shoulder and implored, “Sir. If you don’t calm down, you will need to come with us.”

Mia’s father completely lost it at that point. He lifted his tight fist and punched the officer right in the nose. The other officer immediately shoved Mia’s father to the ground and handcuffed him.

Young Mia felt her mother’s shakey hand on her arm. “Come on, Mia. Come away from the door.”

The memory disappeared just as fast as it had come, as if it were sucked away in a vacuum. Mia pulled the screen door open and tried the door knob of the old wooden door. It turned.

Mia hesitated. Dare she enter? What if the memories hiding in the dark inner corners of this house were even worse than the ones she’d already encountered? What if they swallowed her up and she disappeared into that creepy vacuum right along with all the horrific memories?

 

Blockston, Pt. 1

Blockston, Pt. 2

Blockston, Pt. 3

Blockston, Pt. 4

Blockston, Pt. 5

*This story is fiction and does not represent my own childhood.

 

*photo credit

The Young{est} Years

RanBren

Very little sticks in the memory of a young child, except those things with strong emotions attached. I am sure that I had a lot of  very happy moments in my first four years of life, but I don’t remember many. I’ve been sitting here off and on all day, trying to conjure up as many memories as possible.

I’m becoming increasingly intrigued with my child self. I feel that if I can just grasp those memories, those thought processings, I will find a glimpse of my untainted self, for young children are pure personality. There’s very little interaction with the outside world to shape their personality… it’s all just them.

Perhaps that’s why those first few years of a child’s life are the most pliable. The years to be most guarded. It’s important to nurture their personality and protect it from the traumatic experiences that can darken and twist the most secure and happy of personalities.

me1_3

As I flipped through an old photo album, I pulled out a few photos that sparked some memories.

Top-Left: That’s me on my first birthday. Don’t remember a single second of it. I just wanted to show you how adorable I was. haha. Actually, it reminds me of my youngest when she was that age.

Top-Right: That’s my mom playing peek-a-boo with me. This is how I want to remember her in all my young memories. Fun, happy. Unfortunately, I don’t. I remember a troubled mother, a sad mother, a confused and angry mother.

But this I do remember… I always loved her. And I still do. She’s my mom. She carried me for nine months, snuggled under her heart. I listened to it’s beating in wonder. It soothed me to sleep. I still hear that beating (figuratively speaking, obviously) and I want nothing more than to be able to bandage that heart and make it whole. I want her to know a joy so deep, she can’t swim away from it.

Bottom-Left: That’s me at the age of two. For some reason, my brother and I had masking tape on our shirts. Our names were written across the tape with a permanent marker. I had pulled mine off and tried to restick it. Any person above the age of 5 would know that was a mistake. The darned thing would not stay on. It was too much for me to bear. I remember thinking that if I wasn’t wearing my name, then I was no longer Brenda. And I so desperately wanted to be Brenda.

I know that’s a lot of memory for a two year old, but I think I only remember that from looking at the picture so often growing up. The first time I remember looking at it and remembering the story behind it was when I was four, but I also kinda remember that that wasn’t the first time I looked at it.

Anyway, I just thought it went pretty well with the theme of this blog. Here I was two years old and already crying over a label ripped from my chest.

Bottom-Right: That’s my older brother Randy and I sitting on the back of my grandma’s black leather couch. He was five and I was three. This is the year the bad memories start. The next couple years would be hard ones for me.

I remember that my dad did not live with us. He drove a truck and we would see him every once in a while. I remember something being wrong with my mommy. She was sad.

I remember that my mom put my brother and I in a children’s home. I don’t remember how we got there or what my mother told us about why we were going there. I just remember how scared I was. (I know now that she was living in halfway house to overcome her drinking – I think???)

I remember being scared of one of the ladies at the home. Her voice was gruff and she often gave abusive threats. I remember crying in bed and one of the older girls in the room told me to shut up. I told her I was scared, and she told me if I didn’t shut up, she’d give me something to be scared of.

I remember not seeing my brother very often except during outside play time. I remember sitting and watching other kids play. I couldn’t play with them because I was sick in my stomach. Something wasn’t right and I didn’t know how to fix it.

I remember an older boy taking my behind the sandbox and touching me inappropriately. I didn’t like it, but I felt powerless.

I remember the gruff lady coming to get me one day. She took me into a room. Randy was already in there. And so was my daddy. My hero had come.

He did not realize until that day that my mom had taken us there. He came to get us out.

He took us to see my mom at the halfway house. I remember standing on the doorstep when she opened the door. We went inside, and I looked around. To the right side of the front door was a long staircase that turned the corner as it climbed up the wall. The banister and railings were stained dark. In the corner, where the stairs turned up, stood a bird cage on a tall post. The metal circular foot of the post pushed down into the plush carpet. I think my mom cried.

Dad took us to his mother’s house that summer. My brother and I had a lot of fun the summer(s) we spent out there with our grandma and step grandpa. There were the swims in the stock tank with little piglets running around it in the mud. I was scared to get out  of the tank lest the piggies bite my toes. There were romps with the dog, Ranger. There were sunny days on the lake. Crickets in the long grass. Daddy long legs. Ice cream. Happy days.

But there was a dark shadow in those summer days. My step grandpa has a teen aged son who stayed with them for several weeks. He sometimes made me do things that were inappropriate. He sometimes made me hide behind the couch and he would do things to me that a three year old should never experience.

The whole situation was taken care of legally. I’ve forgiven him. But that doesn’t take away the memories. It doesn’t take away the sickness as I realize my little Faithy is three. To think of a little girl that young having her innocence stolen. It puts fear in my heart somedays. I want to grab my girls and hold them close. I want to keep them under my constant watch and care.

These were my youngest years. Most memories are flittery like a fly buzzing around the room. But these are the ones that rest long enough to see clearly.

Blockston, Pt. 1

arrowHe wasn’t a man of very many words, but the few he spoke last Monday still rang loud and clear in her ears. “You’re emotionally sick, Mia. It’s time to face the past. It’s time to heal.” For some reason, her elderly boss at the local ice cream parlor had taken a personal interest in her and treated her as if she were his granddaughter.

The wind from the open car windows blew through her blonde hair as she sped down the highway. She flipped on the radio, grateful that her grandfatherly boss had given her the week off. He said she was to spend the week looking for herself, whatever that meant.

She had no clue where she was going. She just knew she couldn’t spend the entire week cooped up in her small apartment.

Her little Chevy chugged its way up the interstate ramp. I-70, the iconic interstate sign read. Her mind wandered to that day two years ago when her little Chevy had chugged down that same ramp.

She had not known where she was going that day either. She had only wanted to run… far away… from the constant stress and pain. She had wanted to leave behind the people and the memories that made her life so miserable.

It had been the conversation with her brother that morning that had pushed her to the point of disappearing off the face of the earth… or at least from the community. She had arranged to meet him at IHOP. She had picked at her food while he scarfed his down in Cookie Monster style.

“Gee. You eat much?” she had asked.

“Grump much?” he had quipped back. “What’s your deal, man? You’re just sitting there moping like your dog died.”

She cleared her throat. “Actually I wanted to talk to you about something.”

She had confided in him about the abuse she had received from their father as a child, and he had accused her of making it up. “You disgust me, Mia. Why are you so hell-bent on making Dad out to be a monster?”

She had heard enough. She pushed back her chair with a loud screech and ran out of the building. She went straight to her tiny, dingy apartment and started to pack the few items she owned. She had left town that night without telling anyone.

The low fuel signal dinged, bringing her out of her reverie. She quickly swerved toward the upcoming exit, hoping to find a gas station. She slowed to a stop at the end of the ramp and looked down the road. A tiny Phillips 66 stood tucked in the trees alongside the right side of the rarely used country road.

She turned, drove the half mile, and pulled in beside a gas pump. As she stood next to the pump, waiting for the tank to fill, she took in her surroundings. Something seemed vaguely familiar about this place, like a bad dream lurking in the dark corners of her mind. What was it?

Her tank full, she pulled out toward the road. She hesitated. She wanted to turn back toward the interstate, but something unexplainable was pulling her in the opposite direction.

Just a couple miles, she thought. She ventured down the country road away from the interstate and into the familiar unknown.

Before she knew it, the “couple miles” had turned into six, and she came to a dead end. A big yellow rectangular road sign stood its post across the road from her. The thick black arrow demanded she choose a direction. Under it was another sign. “Blockston – 4 miles” with an arrow pointing left.

Blockston. Blockston. Why did that sound so familiar? She shrugged and made a left turn, unable to resist the pull.

As her little Chevy climbed a small hill, the tiny town came into view. It wasn’t much. A cluster of run down houses and a one block wide Main Street.

“Blockston. It’s been 20 years since I’ve seen you,” she murmured out loud, as the memories began to trickle in one by one.

 

Blockston, Pt. 2

Blockston, Pt. 3

Blockston, Pt. 4

Blockston, Pt. 5

*This story is fiction and does not represent my own childhood.

 

*photo credit

Why I Stopped Trying to Lose Weight

me2The American culture is obsessed with weight. Celebrities are harassed when they drop a few pounds below the optimum weight and publicized and made fun of when their weight rises above the perfect skinny.

I was standing in the grocery line the other day when a magazine cover caught my eye. It had pictures of mystery celebrities… “Guess whose thighs are dimpled with cellulite. Which movie star has pudge rolling over her bikini?”

But here’s the thing… those women (whom they were, by implication, calling fat and ugly) were probably at least 50 pounds lighter than I. Their cute cellulite make mine look like a freak disease. Their smooth bellies may roll by half a centimeter over their bikini bottoms, but hey! they are wearing a bikini and rocking it.

If these poor women are being ridiculed for their slight “imperfections”, what would these magazine editors say about me? I can only imagine. I’ve spent my entire post-birth days trying to lose weight. That’s eight years! Sometimes, weight would come off easily with a little work. But after the last baby three years ago, it doesn’t budge. But eight years is a lot of time spent trying to look good.

You see, if I say to myself that I want to lose weight to look better, then I am by default telling myself that I am fat and ugly. I just am. And with all the trying, I’m not getting results. Therefore, I’m constantly feeling fat and ugly AND like an inconsistent failure.

Sure, I could go all crazy and do the fanatic thing… you know, go on a super strict diet of only veggies and become a gym addict. But that’s not the life I want. I don’t want to be ruled by a desire to be skinny. It’s also not the kind of life my husband wants me to live.

So, I’m ready to say “the heck with it” because ultimately, I don’t want to lose weight. What I really want is to just be ok with who I am inside and out. I want to see myself as beautiful and attractive, no matter what my weight is. I want to be confident in myself in any stage of life and health.

So I set aside the goal to lose weight so that I can focus on changing my thinking. I still plan to maintain my exercise routine. I don’t plan to go hog wild with junk food. I’m just not going to stress the weight. Instead, I want to learn to love myself now, at my heaviest, so that when I do lose weight, it’s not any different than showering or brushing my teeth. It’s just caring for the beautiful body I already have.

Strong Tower

featower

“Thou hast been a shelter for me, and a strong tower from the enemy.” Ps. 61:3

She could hear it faintly through her loud, raspy breathing and the thunderous pounding of her feet as they hit the ground. It was coming closer and closer with her every step. She knew she was running as fast as she possibly could, and yet she felt as if she were crawling. She peered over her shoulder into the darkness, feeling the urge to freeze in a paralyzed stupor, but knew she must go on, for Fear would soon reach out its gnarled fingers and squeeze the life from her soul. She could hear the rustling steps much closer now and could feel Fear’s warm breath on her neck. The air around her began to reek with an indescribable, evil stench, threatening to intoxicate her.

She must run faster. Surely somewhere, somehow she possessed some sort of unknown inner power that could drive her beyond her failing strength. Her foot caught hold of a stone. She felt as if she hit a brick wall as she fell in slow motion to the ground. Everything seemed far away… everything but the darkness. It closed in with suppressing thickness. For a second, she entertained the idea of giving in to its heaviness, but the rustling of Fear’s steps jolted her from her comatose state. She pulled herself to her feet and groped in the darkness, trying to find her bearings.

Only as she began, once again, to force one foot in front of the other did she noticed the piercing pain shooting through her leg. Her steady pace turned quickly to a limping fast walk. How long must she run? When could she stop?

Suddenly, she stopped. What was that lurking in the darkness? It flittered past her again. Her hair fluttered with the breeze created by its movements. There it was again. This time, it brushed her as it passed. It must be Memory, the stalker she had heard horror stories of. She must keep going. But before she could move an inch, Memory returned, knocking into her and ripping at her with his sharp claws. Blood poured from her chest. She could feel the breeze and knew he was coming at her again. She tried with all that was in her to duck out of the way, but Memory predicted her every maneuver and hit her again and again, each time ripping deeper and deeper into her chest. She knew she must run. She must get away before he reached her heart and ceased its beating.

She turned and, with as much strength and speed as she could muster, limped away. Blood poured from her wounds and she could feel herself fading in and out of reality. When would this stop? She felt a tiny sting in her right shoulder that soon burned as hot as fire. Another hit the middle of her back. Then another and another. The snipers of Reminder showered her with bullets. Doubt and defeat began to creep in. She wasn’t sure she could keep going. Fear’s rustlings following her… Memory’s breezes threatening her… the snipers of Reminder pelting her. There was just no way she could outrun them. Not with these extensive wounds. There was nothing left. No strength. No speed. No power. Not even a desire to run. If she could just find a shelter of sorts where she could hide from it all and rest.

Then something caught her eye… a tall, dark shadow looming before her. Unable to stay on her feet any longer, she fell to the ground. Grasping the roots and stones, she pulled herself closer and closer to the looming shadow, hoping with everything inside her that it was a place of safety and not another trap. She looked up, trying to make out its shape. A glimmer of hope ignited within her. It appeared to be a tower… a strong, high tower of stone. If she could just drag herself the last ten feet, she would be at its base. One pull after another brought her within a mere foot. She reached out her hand, her fingers slightly brushing the wall. Just one more pull. But there was no strength left in her. She laid her head on the ground in defeat. At that moment, she felt herself being lifted and carried. She cracked her eyes open just enough to notice she was passing through a stone doorway. She was gently being lowered and her wounds were being washed and tended. She could stay awake no longer and finally let herself drift away from everything. It was a good sleep… a healing sleep.

The joyful song of birds filled her ears as she slowly opened her eyes. She gingerly ran her fingers across her chest. The wounds had closed. All the pain she had felt the night before no longer consumed her. She turned her eyes to the window where sunlight was streaming in. Morning had broken and with it… hope, joy, and healing.