Memories reach up and out of the dark places, long fingers that
grasp and grab and wrap around the tendrils of my thoughts, tangling some
together, binding others apart, tinting truth the shades of shadows.
Nagging me, dragging me down, down, down until I’m drowning
in mud that sucks at my skin and I shiver, cold to the bone…like the night we
played tether ball in the rain until we were mud-caked from hair to toenails.
But that was fun, wasn’t it? We ate pizza at 10:30 and I said
it was the best night of my life. I was six, so that was probably true.
Besides, the mud washed away and I had a towel and someone to cook me dinner.
But the downing, drowning, sucking, mucking mud pulls with all the weight
of leaded memories. Memories I can’t pick up and can’t put down. Like the day he chased us, screaming, through McDonald’s. All I wanted was a Happy Meal but I would have settled for a happy meal. His face, the rage, blurry through tear-filled eyes. He never hit me, but I felt his fist in my gut. He never touched me, but I felt his hands around my neck, strangling what might have once been love, or a memory of love. But that’s not what I remember. I never did get my happy meal, but who could eat after that. Some mud is harder to wash away, even with a towel and someone to cook you dinner.
And the clawing, pawing, raking, bone-breaking fingers wake me with their
silent screams, bellowed from an empty grave. And I sink in the soul-sucking
mire that hollows out my chest and steals my breath. Like the times
I made choices I couldn’t unmake.
And I break.
There is no one to cook me dinner.
The sludge fills me in. I lie like a corpse and watch as the hollow places fill. Then the corners and cracked edges. But I am still.
Then something moves me, presses and measures me. Me: this sludge, this muck, this mire and mud, that I’ve become…has become clay. Unseen fingers dig and prod to mold and smooth, to shape me and remake me.
And when, again, I break, they will unbreak me.
© Nichole Q. Perreault