Writing Prompt: The Freezer

This was written in response to a writing prompt given in an MFA class last year:

“Write from the perspective of a common home appliance.”

I found that if this is read without knowing who or what the “I” is, it’s quite unnerving.  Serial killer, perhaps?  I stumbled across this on my computer today and had forgotten I’d written it, or even what it was about.  Creeped me out.  It brought to mind for me “Psycho” and someone a bit like Norman Bates.

The Freezer
by Debi

Darkness, total and complete.  Bone-chilling cold.  Stacks of frozen carcasses.  Solid ice.  The never-altering, eternally freezing, condition of my life.  Waiting.  Always waiting.  Quietly humming tuneless songs. Wondering when a flash of light and heat will signal the entrance of The Family, disturbing my solitary, frozen existence.

My downstairs neighbor receives frequent visits from The Family throughout the day.  Although my neighbor’s darkness is also complete, the blackness never lasts as long as the darkness I live in.  His cold environment isn’t enough to form ice or frost.  The fluids are chilled but still liquid.  The carcasses are preserved for a time, but not eternally frozen.  The Family worries when the small glass bulb which provides light burns out in my neighbor’s apartment.  My living space has no light source of its own.  Only when the door opens do I see the contents of my own interior.

Writing Prompt: Where would you be if you hadn’t left your hometown?

This resembles the landscape in my recurring dream.

This resembles the landscape in my recurring dream.

Where would I be if we hadn’t moved? Who would I have been if we had stayed? I’m not sure I would’ve been alive for long.

Moving bought me time. Time to live a life removed from the places and people of childhood. Away from bullies and abusers. Away from those who still haunt my dreams and waking moments.

But then, no escape. Nowhere to run.

Bullied at school. Bullied on the street. Those ever grasping, groping hands in back lots and clubhouses. Insanity at home. Everywhere I turned, I saw only myself and my screaming face of desperation—like being trapped inside a dead-end House of Mirrors.

Let me out! Let me out! But no one hears. No rescue comes.

Help me? Please?

No. Hush, child.

A child left in the care of mental illness. They were blind. Deaf. Dumb. Numb to normal feelings.

The recurring, on-going dream of my childhood was about being buried alive. By my family. Every night. Every night beginning where it left off the night before. The nightmare that perhaps told the story of my childhood.

It went like this:

For far too many nights, tied down in a cart full of hay. Pulled by an old horse. Up and up and up and up the winding unpaved cart path.

Past the homes of friends, homes of family. Past the school, the shops, the weathered farms. To a field of grass and flowers. And a gaping grave.

They took me down from the cart, setting me quietly into the hole in the ground. Throwing clods onto my tiny child body. No! Stop! Please? Please don’t! Was I unable to make a sound? Or were they unable to hear? Or did they choose to continue despite the pleas and cries.

They were silent. Ever serious.

One handful. Another. Covering my legs. My tiny torso. My arms and hands. My face. The dirt collected in my ears, my mouth, my eyes, my nose.

The earth is cold and smells of damp. Smells of earthworms. Beetles. Clover. Grass tufts. The silence covers, envelopes, crushes me.

The lens of my dream retreats from inside my earthen grave. New scene: My family all walking away back down the hill. Silently.

The shot pans through the grim parade. The parents. Grandparents. Aunts. Uncles. Cousins. Single file. Returning from the hill.

The shot pans once more. See the empty field? A freshly dug space, no larger than a child. A view of the mountains. The soft touch of gentle breezes on wisps of grass and weeds.

The dreams ended then. The burial was complete, haunting my waking and dreaming moments.
For the rest of my life.

Who would I have been if we hadn’t moved? Still buried. Still silent. Still watching.

Without leaving, there would have been no future. No me. There is nothing to see or imagine in that alternative timeline.

It would have been

The End.

Prompt: Imaginary Conversation

Writing Prompt: Imagine a person sitting in a chair across from you and have a conversation (or two).

First Imaginary Meeting with Mom:

Long ago …

You sit in a chair in our old house
then you crawl onto the floor
to sit with me on my level.
We both use the coffee table
as a rest for our elbows.
You are very young now,
the youngest memory I have of you.
Your cat’s eye glasses perch on your nose.
You smile and lean over to tweak my nose.
You mouth words I struggle to hear,

“I love you.
I did the best I could.”

Second Imaginary Meeting with Mom:

Much later …

You sit in a chair across from me
hunched and shriveled.
The effect of two strokes still visible
on your face and body.
I want to hold you, my tiny mother.
To cradle your joints
from the hard plastic chair.
To shield your eyes
from the overhead light.

To see you like this
makes my heart ache, Mommy.

Word Bank Poem: Derrida

A Communication “Experience”

by Debi

Let us dwell for a moment,
living in recognition
of the absence of “experience.”

There is no experience,
only communication
in variations of intention.

being weaned of structure,
or the empirical eventuality
of pure essence,
we shall extend this law to all.
To permit its recognition,
and repetition.

We have seen the simple negativity,
the labor of the negative,
required to structure
these production variations.

We have marked from its origin,
an utterance does not modify in the slightest.
A possibility easy enough admitted today.

The “word bank” for this was Page Ten from Jacques Derrida’s essay, “Signature Event Context.”  The assignment given in class tonight was to compose a poem or a piece of writing using nothing but words and phrases found on a single page (of our choice) from Derrida’s essay.  We had ten minutes to write something.

If this poem makes no sense to you, well, welcome to my world of trying to read Derrida for the first time.  Even when it’s not randomly selected words and phrases, his writing is more than a little bit dense.