Wednesday, February 4, 2009

My Life and 2 Cents

[A dream about a girl]

My life is not worth 2 cents, I know that. I’ve always known it. It’s not something I get emotional about. It’s just a fact. When I was a kid, I used to live with a hunchbacked lady who lived in a big house. The house was not hers. She lived with another family. She spent all her time hunched over in a blue short sleeved shirt and white pants, sitting bent over a sewing machine, her long black hair with grey streaks always pinned in the same messy bun at the back of her head. I don’t remember her doing anything else but that. Thinking about it, maybe she didn’t really have a hunched back, but sitting there like that, she sure looked like she did and that’s how I remember her.

I remember I got my food sitting at the kitchen table with another couple and some of their kids. I guess they were the ones who owned the house but I’m not sure. I know they provided the food, while the other woman with the bun sat hunched over in her room, because sometimes she wouldn’t even come out for food. Other than that, I don’t really remember much about those times. I remember there was lots of fabric around and needles to poke your hand on if you weren’t careful. It wasn’t much fun.

I remember I would run around too much. That’s what they told me. I needed to be more quiet and stop running. Running in the house was bad. Therefore, I was bad. I didn’t know how to contain myself. I kept forgetting, and then I would run.

One time I tripped on the carpet coming down the stairs and ran into someone coming up with a tray of food and drink. Red liquid spilled all over the expensive hall carpet. I knew that was bad, but no one said anything that time. They didn’t bother to tell me I was bad. They didn't even yell. Maybe they thought I already knew it by then.

It was not long afterwards that I was standing outside in the driveway surrounded by three boxes and some small pieces of furniture. A car was coming for me. All my stuff was in those boxes on the pavement, waiting for some guy to come and pick it up. It wasn’t much stuff. After a while, the adults began to get nervous and upset. He was late and they weren’t sure if he was coming, but finally he came. He seemed nice enough. He picked up the stuff and put it in his car and we drove a long way to a big white house.

The columns on this house were huge. When we drove up, that’s all I could think about. Gigantic carved white columns perfectly supported the eaves all the way around the outside of the house. The columns were so white that it looked like they were just painted that morning, not a speck of dirt on them, they were almost shining.

I was afraid of those columns. They were too big for me, too perfect, just like the house. The idea of being there scared me, but I was relieved to find out I would instead live in a tiny house way in the back, far behind some trees. My house had only a small living room, two small bedrooms and one tiny bath. I liked our house much better. I felt comfortable there. It felt natural.

I spent most of my time either in the small house with the man who picked me up or running around outside in the dirt and dust. There's some trees and a small creek way in the back. I liked that, more space to run and nothing important to damage, so I was happier and felt more free than I had ever felt before.

The man was always quiet and calm, didn’t talk much, just enough to say what was necessary. I liked him. He made me feel relaxed. He didn’t talk much, but he never got angry either. Still, he seemed sad most of the time. He always looked bewildered, as if he was lost and couldn’t find himself inside that big cavern inside his head, so instead he would stare out in quiet confusion at the world.

When I turned 12, I finally got this assembly plant job. My job is to pack these projector machines into these boxes. Sometimes, as a break, I also get to sweep the dust off the floor with a broom. I was really lucky to get this important job at such a young age. That’s what everyone keeps telling me and I believe them. If I were to damage this projector right here in this box, I would probably be fired on the spot. Projectors cost money and my life is not worth more than a projector. I have to be really careful and think about what I am doing at all times. I can’t run around all the time without thinking like I used to.

The other day, me and the man were in our living room. He was sitting in the chair reading a newspaper when a lady came in with a message. I think she was one of the other women who work around here. I am sure I saw her before a few times. She poked her head in the door and told the man that some woman had gotten on the train and left for someplace far away and probably would not be coming back. The man seemed more confused than ever by this news. I am not sure, but I think the woman on the train was my mother. At least that’s the impression I got.

After receiving the news, the man got up from his paper and began to do the dishes. In the process, he accidentally tipped over a can of cayenne pepper from off the window sill and it spilled all over the kitchen counter. He kept trying to scoop up the powder with his big hands and pour it back into the container, but the opening to the container was small and his hands were big. And they were quaking. No matter how hard he tried, he could not get the pepper back into the can. Maybe his life is not worth 2 cents either.

8 comments:

  1. This offers a gloomy sort of outlook as there seems to be no resolvement. How does the story go on?
    The scene with the man and the pepper is nearly comical, in a tragic kind of way, however.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Blue, yeah, beats me what happens after. I wonder if maybe some day I will get more info on the same characters. Writing them all down may help me figure this out. Young, sometimes I get a feeling of the character even without seeing a visual. In this case, she felt Mexican or some generally similar culture. I decided to put it in the tag in case later if I get another story with a similar character, I can find this story again and compare

    ReplyDelete
  3. I see what you mean. That's how my dreams are in a way. I get flashes of bits and pieces. In my younger years, when I was about 11, 12, I was frequently able to continue the same dream from the night before. I could just enter in and would travel the same places as before. Nice places, lots of greenery and nature out there... -- These days, where sleep dreams are concerned, it's not as easy as it used to be, though it is still possible (and other things have become possible, so that possbibly is not as necessary at the moment).
    I believe that one sees what one needs to see at a given time. However, as a curious being, of course I like to dig and nag to go further...
    So I wonder if this is similar for you when you write down what you see in front of you, be it from a dream or another sort of vision.

    ReplyDelete
  4. Yeah, I am curious, but perhaps not often curious enough to want to go the exact same place again vs some newer place. Although, like I mentioned, I've also become curious if there is a finite number of characters/people I can visit and they may repeat if I take note, or if they will always be new people. Like not long ago, I got a flash of an adolescent African American boy and was wondering if this was an older version of the little boy flexing his muscles in the mirror, or if it was someone else. But I can't really tell. Maybe with more data and more paying attention..

    ReplyDelete
  5. It becomes even more curious when one dreams of names (or has visions of names) and one day one crosses path with these people.
    Another variety is dreaming of being at someone's place and them telling you later that they saw you in their house or whereever they were and whatever you dreamt. It makes you wonder how that is possible unless you are acquainted with Quantum Mechanics (they explain how an atom can have two different energies at the same time etc.). Then it suddenly starts making sense.

    ReplyDelete
  6. This is a personal message to the author, not a comment. Please feel free no to post it as a comment.

    Thank you very much for your submission to the Carnival of Beginning Writers. I really enjoyed this story and I want to propose some modifications:

    - "I needed to be more quiet and stop running." Why not: "I needed to be quiet and stop running." If you want to use the first one, why not "quieter" instead of "more quiet"?

    - "There's some trees and a small creek way in the back." -> "There are some trees and a small creek way in the back."

    - "..., so I was happier and felt more free than I had ever felt before." Why not: "..., so I was happy and felt free than I had ever felt before." If you favor the first one anyway, why not "freer"?

    - "When I turned 12, ..." -> "When I turned twelve, ..."

    - "Maybe his life is not worth 2 cents either." -> "Maybe his life was not worth 2 cents either."

    ReplyDelete
  7. By the way, I made a mistake in the third remark. Here's the correct one:

    - "..., so I was happier and felt more free than I had ever felt before." Why not: "..., so I was happy and felt free like I never felt before." If you favor the first one anyway, why not "freer"?

    ReplyDelete

 
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