Captive

An enormous jar of marbles sat perched on a shelf in the depths of the basement closet. In the dark, damp and musty room full of laundry soap and tools, a jar filled with perfectly shaped orbs in riotous colors was held captive in an old Ball jar. She reached in and pulled the jar into a shaft of sunlight pouring through the basement window. She was below ground, sitting on the cool cement floor and enjoying the silence.  One small rectangular ground-level window provided a view of the deep blue summer sky. Outside, the day was filled with heat but the basement was nearly frigid. She held the jar up, using the bright blue sky as a backdrop. The sunlight caused those perfect glass orbs to come alive again. Their color returned.

She marveled that inside of the dusty long forgotten jar, a bit of magic had been caught and held hostage. Inside the jar, the marbles screamed for release. For sunshine. To be held in the hands of a child. To roll across the sidewalk and click against another once again. Inside, under that zinc lid and neglected in the depths of a basement closet, they were captive and forgotten. Possessed but unloved.

She heard her mother’s footsteps on the basement stairs, “Be careful those are Ron’s marbles and they’re very old.” That was enough of a warning. To lose even one of those marbles wasn’t worth his vindictive wrath. Once he possessed something, he made it clear that no one else was entitled to touch what was his. From experience, she knew that children were not immune to his spiteful revenge.

She turned the grimy jar and marveled at the stifled beauty within, “Why are they in this jar in the basement?”  Her question was answered with a shrug and look of confusion, as if her mother couldn’t understand why it mattered. She felt a wave of aversion, realizing that her mother didn’t recognize the disservice of capturing such beauty and hiding it away. She stopped asking questions, knowing she’d never get her point across but also realizing that the marbles were his to keep confined forever. And wasn’t she avoiding just that? She constantly bucked against his masochistic need to dominate what wasn’t his. Including her. She’d given up waiting for her father to rescue her. She realized, at fourteen-years-old, that she must fight her battle alone.

Spellbound by the marbles and his need to control, she spat on her finger and rubbed a circle into the grime of the Ball jar. Through that clean spot, the marbles gleamed. She stood and walked to the washing machine to retrieve a towel and polished the grime-coated jar. Once more, she held the jar against the rectangle of bright blue summer sky and slowly turned it. Inside, the marbles knocked against glass and clicked against one another, begging for release. I can’t help you, she thought, I can’t help myself. She slid the jar back onto the shelf and closed the door on the beauty that shone within.

This is a piece inspired by the photo prompt at The Lightening and The Lightening Bug. It is a memory. I don’t know what became of the jar full of beautiful marbles held captive. I eventually escaped.

Sometimes, it’s good to write about things other than “Mommy”… I am a writer, therefor I write what comes to me. If you enjoy my odd (schizophrenic) mixture of mommy horror stories and creative writing, please deliver a click on the annoying flashing box right down there. If not, click on the box to return to regularly scheduled programming…not really, but you will find oodles of cute mommy blogs, baby gear giveaways and people who really dig coupons.

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Self Doubt

Since I began recalling the ability to recall, I recall loving books. More specifically, I recall loving words and the endless possibilities of their combinations. For me, words have always held a certain magic. When put together in carefully crafted combinations, words have the ability to transport you to different times, worlds and into the lives of others.

I also recall being thrilled when, at the age of five, I finally owned the ability to write letters and make my own word combinations and, since that time, I have wanted to be a writer. My entire life has been spent dreaming of penning best-selling novels and becoming a sort of younger, female version of Stephen King. He is one of my idols. King can place you in the darkest and most ghastly of worlds, evoking both fear and disgust, but his descriptiveness lends such an air of realism to the horror. He has kept me eagerly turning the pages of his books for 25 years.



Photo from the collection of the Hoover Library

As a kid, Laura Ingalls Wilder inspired me. When you put aside the whole Little House on the Prairie franchise, stop envisioning Michael Landon as Pa and pick up those books again, you (hopefully) recognize the importance of her writing. She wrote about America and the pioneers of the West. The rich detail of her books is awe inspiring. I can still read them and become swept into the 1870s. Her words have carried me away from the Big Woods in a covered wagon, feeling every jaw-rattling bump as they bid farewell to family they might never see again. She transported me to their dugout at Plum Creek and to their tiny prairie house where I sat by a crackling fire fearing that Pa would freeze to death in the blizzard. On pins and needles, I prayed that Pa would see the lamp that Ma had placed in the window to guide him safely home. I can’t wait for my girls to discover these magical books and hope that they still hold that same magic in a world of DVDs and video games.

Those two authors, worlds apart in their subject matter, planted the seed of a dream. For so many years, I kept my dream to myself. I wrote only for myself and privately and, for a time, I didn’t write at all. It can be hard to hold onto a dream when you are surrounded by negativity and people who are content with being unfulfilled. How is it that some people don’t dream? How is it that some people seem to get some kind of sick enjoyment out of killing the dreams of others? Thankfully, that person is gone from my life now. Oddly enough, the news of his permanent departure from our lives came on the very same day that I received a telephone call from USM/Stonecoast telling me that I have been accepted into the MFA in Creative Writing program. I like when coincidences like that happen. I have a hokey suspicion that ‘coincidence’ was a message from the universe, or God or whatever greater being possibly exists, telling me that my dream is very much alive.

a fair representation of how I view my Dream Killer

As the result of so many years with the aforementioned “Dream Killer,” my self-esteem has taken a few knocks. Despite the fantastic news from Stonecoast, I found myself filled with negative thoughts about the acceptance. I turned to David and said, “An MFA isn’t a real master’s degree.” He got angry. Later I said, “what if no one else is applying because of the economy, so they had to accept me?” He rolled his eyes and got angry.

My dream is becoming reality. Do I think that I’ll write a best-selling novel and become as famous as Stephen King or Laura Ingalls Wilder? No, but I can hope, right? When I was a child, there was a man in our family named John. He lived with my grandmother and he could ‘see’ things. He could also see dead people. So many of his predictions have become truths over the years. One of his predictions came when I was very small. He said that one day; I would be a famous writer. I know…what came first, the chicken or the egg?

This morning, my love woke up early and researched the country’s low residency MFA programs, their rankings and acceptance rates. He desperately wants me to stop doubting myself and my talent. He woke me to tell me that Stonecoast is in the top ten low residency MFA programs in the country and notoriously selective.

I will (try to) stop doubting myself now. Time to follow my dream…

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