Oh, Literati! Ms Elizabeth sent me this, saying she pared down a 1500 word story to conform to our contest limitation of 350 words…I can’t imagine this more perfect if it had more words to it. Little known fact: before his editor told him to behave The Old Man and the Sea was 600 pages. Eloquence is the art of saying the most with the fewest number of words. Tell Laura Elizabeth what you think…
by Laura Elizabeth
I wish I could wake again tucked in the forests of childhood, in the cottage of chimney smoke, halfway up the gray-skinned firs. My house was a house of stone sometimes, of cold walls centuries thick. Times I’ve forgotten, it was a home of warm wood, family gathered around boughs crackling sap that binds the world together.
When I was five, I found a nest in the dryer vent, built entirely of innocence. Tucked in a blue lint blanket was one pink egg, a fragile orb of beauty misplaced by winged love, naïve of society’s heat. My mother placed it on the mantle, ignoring the cracked shell, the ruined yolk of potential.
Like me, an egg laid from love, but in the wrong nest. This was not family, this obsession with tasks and not hugs, words that hide instead of illuminate. Slap of sealskin slippers as my father chased me down the corridor of his past. Trees waited patiently outside, whispering, “This is family.”
I live on an island now, far from my father’s slaps and my mother’s absent presence. Flower-scented winds soothe, people wash their babies in the sea. Pulse of waves winds me younger like a backwards-ticking clock. “You’re Here, but you’re There,” they chant.
In the earthquake of his footsteps, remember a tiny pink egg, trying to stay warm. Remember the ellipses between the shouts…When colors were words, nursing white milk on a red deck under gray grandmother clouds. Walking with Daddy, twilight touching his bare head, vulnerable as an egg. Beyond now, before three, remember his bathrobe tie as a cord of connection, not a noose.
Sometimes, I sink into my husband’s bathrobe, soft as my mother’s cloud breasts. Other times, his footsteps sound hard and dead as sealskin, even as he kisses me awake. My yolk bleeds, oozing my secret self over the linoleum.
Twice in a while, there’s a short pause for breath…the whir of tiny wings. We lean tenderly, pick up the egg, place it somewhere safe. Not the corridor of the past. Here, Now, in this new nest we created: our Home.