Friday, May 13, 2011
Marlena comes to me on the cusp of sleep and wakefulness, when the world blurs grey. She soars through yellow-tinted waves, her bald shining skull pushing through water. Although she never speaks, she makes a gurgling sound, high-pitched like the bottle-nosed dolphins at the Aquarium. I look but never see her face. When I wake up, the bottoms of my feet sting as though I scissor-kicked through 100 laps. Those mornings I call in sick and sleep in the boat’s hold. The gentle rocking hugs me.
My twin sister Maria lives halfway around the world in the Catoctin Mountains. She paints and writes poems about trees. We rarely see each other but the internet tethers us. Maria has the same dreams about Marlena -- we think of them as visitations – but she feels the ache in her chest, the left side, a sharp pain like someone has plunged in an icy hand and wrested out her heart. Afterwards she also feels an uncommon, exhausting peace. We wonder if this is how we tangled in our mother’s womb: hands to feet to heart.
I find an old photo of the two of us, a college road trip to Baltimore. Our smiling faces squeezed together, the Washington monument towers behind us. I scan the picture, push send and the image zips to Maria’s mountaintop. Seconds later, she writes back. “There’s a hole between us.” I look closer at the photograph and my soles burn.
My ultimate 52-250 Flash -- this IS Number 52. 250 words, every week for 52 weeks. Inspired by the theme: threesome.
Note: Writing this last flash wrought a lot of emotion, not because of the story but because of the journey. The editors of 52/250 -- Michelle Elvy, Walter Bjorkman, and John Wentworth Chapin -- put heart and soul into this endeavor and, in return, so did an amazing community of writers. So thank you.
The weekly exercise of writing concisely to a theme challenged me as a writer perhaps more than any other endeavor I've undertaken, with the possible exception of my novels. 52/250 was a glorious ride traveled with stupendous fellow journeyers, tremendous stories embodying excellent craft, and of course, the most superb guidance. I am not sure how I will spend the next 52 weeks, and I feel a bit bereft. Two novels to fine-tune, another waiting to be written, graduate school applications all wait, but I think my Fridays just got lonelier. Thank you to all who have read my little stories, commented on them, spread them through cyberspace. Peace...