The Healing Game

The fifteen seconds the editor-in-chief took himself seriously for the camera

and now a word from our sponsor (That would be moi)

The response to this contest has been a mixed bag. Firstly, I cannot emphasis strongly enough that I understand there is no way that my  own empathetic pain can compare to the lifelong bludgeoning people of color have been forced to endure, in overt ways, both physical and psychological. I do not want to minimize the suffering of those less privileged than myself, as one who never really had to wrestle with prejudice based on color, or my atheism, or my gender, or gender identity.

Up until now (after posting about fifty contests) we have been all about fun and fulfilling our mission statement: Putting Gravitas on a Lo-Carb Diet. I could no longer watch our nation implode, without at least joining the choir with a scream of defiance.  I also tolerated a breach of our own editorial policy, and have allowed some posts, that in my mind, were hateful, or at the very least mean spirited, in the interest laizzai  fair. I watched a degrading exchange between two visitors to our site, and decided the best way to bring that to a halt was to delete the last comment that one of them posted, as it always takes two people to create an argument. I regret doing that, and I apologize to Pafia Marigold for thwarting her right to defend herself.

We have about 15 stories in the hopper, and would appreciate having many more people join our discussion.  Only, play nice.

I am now administering this website from my favorite city in the world Prague! And while I can never feel what black people feel, or people abused for their religion or sexual orientation, it does not mean that I am incapable of a more subtle pain that comes from knowing we are not who we could be. I am reading the stories you have submitted and take some comfort in knowing that we are, for the most part, committed to a healing.

Here is one of my own experiences for your consideration.

Privileged

by Thornton Sully

He was still God, and I was still struggling with my first pair of glasses.

I would listen for the sound of the train at dusk, with the same kind of anticipation that I would feel as a grown man when the headlights of my lover coming up the drive would halo across the kitchen window.

Sometimes my mother would pick Him up at the station; sometimes He would walk. Only when I returned to Old Greenwich in my twenties did I realize that it was but a scant six blocks to our home.

I waited in the open field by the house, tossing a baseball skyward, catching it before it dropped to win the game for the Mets. God would soon be coming up the lane, and would put down His brief case, and toss the ball two, maybe three times. Mine was an elongated first baseman’s glove, so heavy at the end of my arm I was always a little amazed when I caught the ball. God did not need a mitt. He could catch anything bare-handed.

And there He was, walking up the lane after a day in the city where He did whatever it was that gods do. I ran to Him and He picked me up and kissed me on the cheek. He set me down and I put the ball in His hand and ran to my position. I wore my Mets’ cap; God wore a Fedora.

He eyed the kitchen door, but He was mine for a full five minutes. “That’s it for today,” He said. “It’s getting dark.” I trotted over to give Him another hug. It was only then I noticed something pinned to his lapel. It was a little swab of a sponge, about an inch square.

“Dad, what’s that?”

“Do you remember what an acronym is?”

“Yeah. Of course.”  I was proud I remembered. He was always teaching me things like that. Other kids, I was sure, did not have a father like mine, teaching them the details of language and of the world. I was important!

“Sponge.”

He spelled it out. “S-P-O-N-G-E. That’s The Society for the Prevention of Niggers Getting Everything.”

He twisted the cap on my head affectionately and I followed Him through the back door to the kitchen, where He kissed my expressionless mother on the cheek and poured the first of several bourbons.

That’s what gods do.

***********

10 comments

  1. Lady Pafia Marigold says:

    After reading your words above, Mr. Sully, I accept & appreciate your apology to me. I thank you for the courage & thoughtfulness it took to publish it. I add my own apology in return to you, the staff at AWWYP, the authors & readers to the extent that I have offended your own sensitivities with my blunt honesty of deeply held convictions concerning injustices & my fears for those of the generations following me more than my own, women & people of colour. I wish everyone many blessings in life & look forward to reading each of the remaining stories as I have the first eighteen with due diligence & discernment.

  2. Diana DIehl says:

    Artful framing of this memory and a powerful opening sentence. The story feels like a flashback from a real life. Your story is a poignant glimpse from the perspective of a child at the vulnerability of children to the propaganda of adults. Indoctrination into the traditions of prejudice can be wrapped in camping trips and birthday cakes. It is also a reminder that evil does not follow the stereotypes of popular media. Most villains believe they are doing Good. The enemies of compassion and justice don’t sport whiplash mustaches when they perpetrate egregious harm; they hide their deeds in voting booths or in boardrooms and blithely return to their kids’ soccer games and art philanthropies undetected. Tersely written.

  3. Laura G says:

    You’ve said so much in so few, well-chosen words. This is as much about growing up as it is about privilege. If we grow up well, we mature enough to question hierarchies, not vote for tyrants, and understand we’re all equal (gods and goddesses). No capitalization of only one. Bravo!

  4. Laura G says:

    Too bad you can’t be part of this contest. This has inspired me to possibly enter with a memoir piece from my own childhood. You’ve shown us how to do this!

  5. Lady Pafia Marigold says:

    Healings (in memory of Recy Taylor)

    Silencing, shaming, coverups, blaming, violations, murderous threats, intimidations,
    Injustices by the privileged, kidnapping dignity, violating the rights of innocence lost,
    Colour, class, sexes, blind justice towards the gang raped victim sentenced to her life,
    Our stories, told in publication, cannot be history without the cry for change forward,
    If we are all to heal from the wounds our silence would repeat, enable and then repeat.

  6. Lady Pafia Marigold says:

    “The Healing Game” lyrics as well as the flash fiction story of mislabeling humans as gods needs a healing in the now from the sins of the past, the hurt, the disappointments, the fall from grace of a father in the eyes of his son. Over & over, I read, I hear about pain from humans who seal it without letting go. The “gut punch” happens over & over due to a cynical belief that nothing ever can change, be forgiven. It is a pessimistic belief that life is written in memories, over & over again as unbreakable cripplings. This tragic, lost worship for a human father can heal. Please forgive, bless & be grateful for all he gave you in life lessons.

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