I’m headed to college in a couple weeks, and I couldn’t be happier about it. I’ll be out of this town and I won’t come back! I’ll be all the way in New York and that’s fine by me — there’s no reason to stay. I went travelling over summer. I visited all sorts of great places and forgot about my messed-up life. But I had to come home and tidy up my stuff before I leave for college. I sorted through my mail (already opened) while my snooping mom nagged me.
‘Come on, Cat. You want to look nice for the wedding, don’t you?’
‘Tina,’ she said.
I froze. ‘Oh.’
‘Honey, if you want to talk–‘ continue reading…
The Skeleton Tree
Everyday I watch Jesse English walk home from class. Not because I’m a stalker, but because I’m her neighbor. Today she walks with purpose because it’s colder than hell outside. That is what I like to call an oxymoron.
Jesse English is beautiful in the way that winter is beautiful. Fierce, and all gray and sharp and that kind of cold that hurts but you let hurt you because you’d rather catch a snowflake on your tongue than hide from the cold. Which is exactly the kind of day it is. So she walks with purpose. And in doing so, a piece of paper escapes from her bag and flies like a wounded dove to hitch up against the curb. I snatch it up, and the wind pulls at it. I expect it to be algebra notes, but it’s not. It’s a drawing. It’s the tree that lives in the field behind our neighborhood, although I expect it’s been dead since forever.
The skeleton tree. That’s what we called it when we were little and we would play back there. Its trunk is twisted and the branches and bark are dark and ashen even in summer. Its ever-naked limbs reach for the heavens like maybe God will save it, but from what I don’t know. Maybe Jesse English knows, because it’s all sharp angles and dark like her. She used to be blonde and sunny, but now I can’t think of a worse description. continue reading…
Under the Table Dreaming
In my sixteenth winter I finally began to dream. Many in our small village hoped I’d be normal like them. My younger sister, Amelia, had been dreaming for three years already, and I hadn’t seen a thing. Maman never gave up hope that I would join the family business. She tied small bundles of herbs and dried flowers to my nightshirt, and whispered into my ear as I slept.
It must have done some good because at first my dreams were shapes without color. They were hazy and smeared like opening your eyes underwater. I was afraid I’d be trapped inside the bleached landscape until one of my older brothers, Pierre, promised that eventually the shapes would form recognizable things.
He smiled and said, “You have to learn patience before you can learn how to dream.” continue reading…