Thursday, November 30, 2017

Flash Writing Series, Abby Cohen

Harvest Time
The peaches sit patiently ripening on my windowsill. I am not so patient. I want things to happen. Mostly they don’t, but the sunset is beautiful every night and never gets tiresome. Once in a while there are clouds or rain, and I don’t even get to watch the sunset. Still, even this is usually lovely--the clouds scudding in mad gray patterns, the rain falling in soft sheets.

I am waiting for peaches. For something to happen. For the sunset. For my life to show up. Clearly, it must be somewhere that’s not here. I’ll wait here. Someday, I’ll eat a peach.

One Chilly Autumn Evening

The year I was in 9th grade and my brother was in 7th, the teachers in our school went out on strike. It was the only time this ever happened in my public school career. The strike ended without the contract being settled and we went back to school. But, there was going to be another strike. 

The night before that 2nd strike began, my brother and his friend Kevin and my mom and I all sat in front of the TV watching Carrie.  We were not scared--not even a little. We all kept predicting what was going to happen next before it happened. Yelling at Carrie, “You idiot, your mother’s hiding behind the door!” In any case, we weren't finding the movie scary at all. That is until the very very end. The one girl who survived is having the dream in the graveyard and a hand reaches out of the grave and grabs her! We all screamed. My brother, my brother’s friend Kevin, and I jumped out of our skins and into my mother’s lap. Or tried to anyway. The laws of physics intervened at that point.  I sat up until 3:00 in the morning reading a book and fell asleep with the light on. Doug and Kevin played Monopoly all night. (No way would Kevin walk home in the dark after that.)
The next morning, we woke up to news that the teachers had settled on a new contract. There was no strike, and we had to go to school. Kevin ran home for fresh clothing. There was nothing my brother (or even my father) owned that would have fit him. I had a science quiz and neither I nor anyone else had studied. The teacher decided to have mercy on us and postponed the quiz. But obviously one cannot rely on people to go on strike just because they say they’re going to. It is simply not something on which people can be trusted to follow through on their promises.
New School Year, New School
I remember the year we moved. I was in first grade. My parents had decided that being the new kid at the beginning of the year would be easier on me than being plopped down among everyone mid-year. I’m not sure this is true. Being the new kid mid-year would have made me really special for a little while. Anyway, my parents had bought our new house but not yet taken ownership and possession of it. The township agreed, in exchange for some money, to take me in early. I remember being taken to school and those three and a half months riding with Dad or Mom or Grandpa. 
The first day I was very early and the school was dark. I remember my teacher Mrs. Koliday was very young and pretty with a blonde ponytail. She was very sweet and nice to me. Especially considering-- while looking back on that morning-- she was probably as nervous as I was and could have done without the tiny child coloring in the corner, when she could have been nervous all by herself. I remember at least once or twice, persuading Dad or Grandpa to let me out of the car and walk a block or two with the walkers (that is the kids who walked from within the neighborhood adjacent to the school, as opposed to those who rode the bus). Did the kids on the bus have a name? That I don’t remember. All I remember was my delight at belonging to the group of kids walking, rather than being the sole child riding in a car.
Chilly Hallway
The black cat is staring at me. I stare back. There’s nothing else to do, after all. I’m stuck in this hallway waiting. It feels like I’ve been waiting for a long time. I am starting to wonder if I’ve been forgotten. I fidget a little. I would like to sit down, but the only chairs look fragile and possibly historic. I stand and look around. Above me, an old portrait of the founding father of the family stares down; a ruthless baron of industry who made his pile of money on the breaking backs of the people, quite literally in a few cases. He sits in his formal living room glaring balefully at the portrait painter, hands with brass knuckle rings holding the edge of a table. In the background there’s a cat who looks like the same cat staring at me. An ancestor presumably. Not this cat of course. But it does look eerily like the same cat. I shift uneasily and look away. I look back at the cat in the picture and the one perched on the mantelpiece. I hope they come to get me soon.


Post a Comment