The Report

When I was little, I remember hearing that God is everywhere. Afterward, I looked at the trees, grass, on houses, cars, the street, pretty much everything. It became apparent God was hiding, because I couldn’t see God. What did it mean, God was everywhere? So, I just looked up. They must have meant God was floating in the clouds somewhere. Then I was really nervous, what if a plane crashed into God? Would the world end? There were too many questions as I thought about it further. Things only became more complicated.

The stench of sweat prickled at my nose. I sat in my seat, my leg jiggling up and down as I reviewed my note cards. A student was already at the front presenting. I was hardly listening. I focused on the Bunsen burner sitting in front of me, useless at the moment. The student who had been at the front returned to her seat. Clapping ensued.

I noticed people turning towards me. “Landon Smith!” Mr. O’Riley called, impatient. He must have just said this right before. My throat was dry. I jumped to my feet and approached the board, still shuffling my note cards. I turned to face the other students, wiping a few beads of sweat from my brow. “Whenever you’re ready, Landon.”

I pushed a some strands of stringy brown hair out of my face and looked at my first note card, “God created the Earth and all life.” I looked up to see the reactions of my classmates. So far, not much. I switched my card and continued, “Dinosaurs existed only because God set their bones here on Earth. We all descend from Noah.” I took a breath. They were looking at me as though I was the plague. I had expected it.

“Evolution is false, so I will not be discussing it,” I ended. There was no clapping. I returned to my seat.

“Mr. Smith, could you please stay after class a moment.” Mr. O’Riley didn’t sound to happy, I nodded.

Three other students, telling interesting stories about homosapiens and dinosaurs, gave their oral reports before the bell rang. There was a clatter of chairs and students filed out of the room. I didn’t move.

“Mr. Smith, I asked you to report on the evolutionary process we have been studying,” said Mr. O’Riley.

“I couldn’t.”

“It is not a matter of belief systems. It is about showing me what you have learned.”

“I’ll take the ‘F’.”

“I will have to contact your parents Mr. Smith, you may go.”

I got up and gently pushed in my chair. I dropped my cards into the recycle bin. Once again I flicked my hair out of my face. I am sure of what I believe. I looked high and low, in the corners and crevices, but I have never found God. I think that’s how you know God is with you. Everywhere you go, you carry God, so God is everywhere. I did the right thing, but my parents will never know. They died when I seven; right before my Grandma told me that thing about God.

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The Park pt. 2

“Where have you been young lady?” demanded Mama.

“I was just runnin’ in the fields.” whispered Mary, staring at the ground.

Mama saw her holding Donny Jr.’s hand. I went and picked up Davy who was playing in the corner. “Donny Jr. wasn’t with you, was he?”

“No ma’am.” She lied.

“Donny were you with Mary just now in the fields?”

We shot him penetrating looks, hoping he’d get the message, “No, Ma’am. I was out playin with Rascal in the yard.”

I gently swayed Davy on my hip as the wind rattled our windows, hopin Mama would buy his story. She eyed us all suspiciously, but decided to let it go for now.

“Donny go wash up. Then come out here and set the table for dinner. Girls get some beans on the stove and heat up that chicken from last night.” She went back to her program.

I handed Davy to Mama, who put him back on the floor. I followed Mary into the kitchen and washed my hands. The space was hardly big enough for the two of us at the same time, but we had developed a method. If one of us had to open a cabinet or the oven then the other would step out to move. We didn’t even have to tell each other we just knew. When Donny Jr. got back from washin up in the bath room we had all the table stuff out for him.

Mary was workin the beans open with a can opener while the oven heated. Just as we were puttin some cream corn in a pot, Donny Sr. came in the door. Even though he wasn’t our real dad, me and Mary called him Pop all the same, he liked that. I could tell he was in a mood when he came in cause he threw his coat on the couch and didn’t even say hi to Mama. A frown cover his whole bearded face as he sat down to pull off his boots.

“Why is there chew marks on our hose in the front?!” He demanded gruffly. I looked up to watch this exchange.

“Donny Jr. was playin with Rascal out in the yard. He was probably tuggin with him again.” replied Mama.

“The neighbor’s pain in the ass dog? I thought they were gonna keep him tied up now?”

Mama shrugged, lookin up at me. I quietly narrowed my eyes back at the corn and stirred rapidly. Mary was doin the same with the beans next to me even though they were done and the heat was off. We avoided each other’s gazes.

“Donny Jr. I told you not to play with that dog in front of the house alread. He is a no good son of a bitch, that is always makin mischief. Now I gotta buy another new hose. We don’t have any spare money.” Donny Sr. began to unbuckle his belt. I perched over the counter grimacing. I knew what was coming. Now, Donny Jr. might have been playin with Rascal, but when I found him he was with Mary and no matter which way I thought it, I didn’t think he deserved a whippin. I did the only thing I knew, I stepped in front of Donny Jr. just as he cowered and Pop’s belt came down. It landed right across my thighs; I had learned long ago that the less faces you made and the less that you let on it hurt the less whippin you got.

“Girl, what the hell are you doing?! Now get out of my way before you get it good. This is DJ’s punishment.”

“No. It ain’t fair he didn’t do nothin wrong, ‘cept play with rascal.” I stood there in front of our cheaply set, fold out kitchen table, the florescent bulb hanging above me burning through my passionate glares. I barely had time to react cause I didn’t even see the hand coming it moved so fast, but I heard it collide with my cheek. I knew there would be another mark on my  face I’d have to lie about come morning.

“I do not tolerate back talk in this house hold Evangeline, is that understood?”

“Yes, sir.” I shook my head but showed no emotion because that would mean defeat. “May I be excused? I’m not hungry and dinner is ready.” My mother seemed to magically find her voice again.

“Yes, go on now.” I ran off back to my bedroom which I shared with my sister and brother. The baby slept in the room with my parents. I sat on the bottom bunk of the broken down old bunk bed I shared with my sister. I stared at our blank white walls, wishing once again, I was in Neverland, instead of this dumpy old house with parents who didn’t give a rat’s tail about me or my siblings.

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Aside:

This is going to be a much longer piece, eventually. It is a fictionalized story based on the true events of my mother’s life. She is the main character Evangeline (Evy). Of course everyone’s name has been changed.

Word Demons

I am followed. Words follow me around they are in the shadows of my mind. They play at my thoughts and taunt my dreams. All day lexicon begs me to write. My imagination drips with endless characters. They waltz into my lessons marching like ghosts between my students. They look back at me their silent faces and pleading eyes watch me while their bodies are covered in word vomit. Places they wish to be from, settings I will one day write.

I feel some thing wet splash across my face, and I look down at my toes. I see the words rain, and storm rolling across the carpet like tiny army ants. i stare back at my students, can they see the words too? The words they are haunting me. On my way home darkness cowers around me. Black, vile, ominous— is this another story trying to fight its way onto the pages of my notebook? Everywhere I look, the images are replaced with words.

I can no longer see a leaf. The leaf is covered with the words: floating, crisp, Autumn, golden, dying. The word demons follow me. They Invade my every breath. Until I only breathe in words and everything else has left me, and now I write.