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Fire, Water and the Written Word Part 1

The smell of dust and summer surround me as I lay encased in the swinging arms of our bright-red Brazilian hammock. A breeze drifts through the cloth, cooling me, moving me slightly. The dog wanders over and sniffs at me curiously trying to discern the red cocoon dangling in her territory. The house is silent. No one is yelling. No one is home. It isn’t odd to be left alone; I enjoy it, look forward to it. I look forward to the undisputed use of the hammock, the uninterrupted hours where I can disappear into a world more dangerous than my own. I turn a page of The Case of the Vanishing Boy; Jan is hiding in a van scared; he blinks and is transported to safety. I wish I could close my eyes and leave, close my eyes and go somewhere else.

A squirrel scurries across the ground. The dog barks. I move my hips a little to get the hammock moving again; Jan is hurrying along the hedge, avoiding lights, avoiding danger. He’s so strong, I wish I were strong.
Our car pulls into the driveway, angry shouts emanating through its open windows. I lose my place and sigh. Doors slam, the yelling gets louder. I squint trying to focus on the words and get back to Jan, but the voices drown me out.
“Charity! Where are you? Get in this house, now,” my father hollers His voice makes me tense, makes me stressed, makes me angry. I guess Jan will have to wait suspended in the shadows of the dark yard. I mark my page, flip out of the hammock, pet the dog, and go inside wishing I were Jan.

The Case of the Vanishing Boy, Black Beauty, A Dangerous Summer, and The Black Stallion, were some of the stories of my childhood. The tales that wove themselves through the pain and anger in my life. In their pages I found my constant companions- my friend’s whose fidelity never wavered, never faltered. In an ocean of turmoil the written word was my anchor.

By the standards of the world my earliest years were far from difficult. There were five of us growing up in a large house with acres of land to explore. We went to church on Sundays and spent weekends at Grandma’s. We were infrequently poor and in need of little. Yet, even though there were times of great joy, laughter, companionship, and love, there were also weeks, months, and years of hurt.

My father was an angry man. A haunted man. A man tormented by the memories of his own childhood. His wife and children were the breakers on which he would crash, the rocks upon which he pounded and we were expected to endure his barrage silently. To me his bouts of fury seemed no more than adult tantrums. They made very little sense in my mind, and I found it hard, as a child, to understand how I was to blame for this behavior.

So I escaped in every way I could, some days, when the sun was hot against the cement and the bushes wilted behind the brown grass, I would take some paper, a pen, and a little water and hike up into the hills behind my house. Venturing as far as my courage would let me, imagining that I could go further. I wanted to leave and never come back. I wanted to be rid of this constant state of aggression that was slowly beginning to build up inside of me. I tried to find, with my little misshapen letters, the words that would filter out the rage and resentment that I barely understood. It was a task too great for my young mind, and the void left by my limited vocabulary was quickly filled with the bitterness of betrayal. Words failed me. My books began to withhold their dreams of far off worlds. They refused me entrance into their secret places in which I had once hidden. So I gave them up leaving them on their shelves to gather dust. One more friend I could blame for my sorrows.

My island of solitude was volcanic, consuming me in the fires of anger and hatred. The other children began to withdraw from my passionate tirades and paranoia. Those years that followed are a haze in my mind, not worth remembering and to painful to forget. I lashed out in every way possible, erupting at school, on the bus, during camp outs, at church, anywhere, and anytime I felt threatened. This was how I entered my teens, scorched and buried beneath the hardened shell of my island, incapable of believing that a diamond might lie within.


Jennifer said…
Wow. Can you ever write, little sister. Fantastic.
Travelin'Oma said…
Thanks for linking me over here. This is beautiful writing!
cannwin said…
Thanks Oma.
It was a writing assignment for a freshman level class I indulged in. My teacher informed me that the reason my peer reviewers weren't being helpful was because they were intimidated by my writing. LOL, I was still annoyed by their comments like:

"That was good. I don't think you need to fix anything."

Maybe next time I decide to tinker with college courses I'll take something at a little higher level.

Charity- I admire that you can publicly face your demons...even if your demons are your parent's who I assume read your blog. I too have some serious anger issues that I contribute to an abusive mother, but I cower to even think about letting those thoughts, fears, and angry feelings leak through my blog for her and the world to see. How do you do it???
cannwin said…
Well, first of all I doubt either of them have delved deep enough into my blog to have read this. My dad didn't start reading my blog until recently and my mom only reads when I nag her about it.


I wonder if either of them will see this now that I have it up on my profile.

Hmm, I don't know. Maybe I have just come to terms with the fact that it happened and have moved on. I realize that the people I need to please in life are my husband and my children. And if coming to terms with my past helps in any way to give them a happier childhood then I have done the right thing.

Plus it's one of my personal favorite writings ;)
Jolene Perry said…
That was great. Thanks for linking me back here.

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