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Kitchen Sink

The Walking Dead

March 10th, 2011

It’s IndieInk Writing Challenge day! This one comes from Miss Ash, who prompted a quote from the book Little Bee:

I could not stop talking because now I had started my story, it wanted to be finished. We cannot choose where to start and stop. Our stories are the tellers of us.”

 

And so I begin:

 

I must have been about five when my dad took him in. Yes, five. It was 1973. His wife left him a few weeks prior, and so had his liver. Even at my age, I knew he was dying. But that’s what my dad did: took in the dying. I grew accustomed to cots placed in the kitchen, leaden with the weight of those fighting their last days. It wasn’t the smell that was the worst, it was the knowing. I wouldn’t see Barbara again or Em or Jane. Or I would, and that was the worst.

 

When my dad brought my uncle home to die on the yellow scratchy couch in our basement, I turned my head. But I never could help looking back. And there it was: gray skin, muddy eyes, grimaced lips. He waved. I waved back. I didn’t like to go in the basement after that.

 

Of course I had to. To bring glasses of water, bites of toast, boxes of tissue. His hands often reached for mine, they were cold, but I tolerated his grasp. I remember looking at my young plump hands resting in his crepe paper palm, and I shiver. Some memories you wish you could squeeze out like toothpaste from the tube and wash down the drain. “He doesn’t have long,” my dad told me.

 

I hoped he was right.

 

I see him next in the VA hospital. He tries to take my hands one last time. I say no, or at least I meant to. An adult now, I see how these things can happen.

 

After he died, I visited my cousin in the home she once shared with my aunt and the man with the crepe paper hands. She was cleaning out his things. Rattling bottles of vodka, crumbling notebooks, an old signet ring. A small spider scurried out of a box and scrambled over her hand. Noticing my revulsion, she told me, “I used to be afraid of them too. But now I just let let them crawl over me and I’m not so scared.”

 

I was only five. But I knew what she meant.

 

On March 10th, 2011, Miss Ash said:

You did a great job with this one!! *shudder*

On March 10th, 2011, Karla said:

How hard it is for a child to live among the “walking dead.” As kids, our perspective on the situation is so removed and abstract and as we near that end ourselves, the childhood blinders come off and we learn how to not be scared of “the spiders” crawling all over us. This was a lovely piece!

On March 10th, 2011, You can call me, 'Sir' said:

Wonderfully done.

On March 10th, 2011, Indigo said:

Hauntingly visceral. (Hugs)Indigo

On March 10th, 2011, Mimi said:

I just saw you on Jackson, MS 4pm news! You looked fabulous!

On March 10th, 2011, flutter said:

Oh this made me bawl.

On March 10th, 2011, Mandy said:

Wow. Well done.

On March 10th, 2011, A Lil' Irish Lass said:

“Some memories you wish you could squeeze out like toothpaste from the tube and wash down the drain.”

Fantastic.

On March 10th, 2011, Wendryn said:

“I used to be afraid of them too.”

You did a beautiful job with this. Very affecting.

On March 10th, 2011, we_be_toys said:

Woof! That was a gut wrencher – nicely done!

On March 11th, 2011, green girl in wisconsin said:

damn, woman. brilliant.

On March 11th, 2011, Nathan Pralle said:

Full of imagery! Wow. That spider anecdote was so well done. Very, very impressive. I can’t imagine being exposed to such things as a child.

On March 11th, 2011, The Week In Review: March 7-11 Indie Ink Challenges said:

[…] Miss Ash challenged San Diego Momma: The Walking Dead […]

On March 12th, 2011, tinsenpup said:

‘…now I just let them crawl over me.’ Extraordinary. Beautifully written, Deb.

On March 12th, 2011, Marian said:

ooohhhhh. crawling! very dark and sad.
(i must confess, i spent last night in a Walking Dead marathon and it colored my reading of your piece! *shudder*)

On March 12th, 2011, Jason Hughes said:

Such powerful hindsight… Wonderfully written…

On March 13th, 2011, flutter said:

You are wonderful.

On March 15th, 2011, Caroline said:

It really shows how talented you are as a writer…I enjoy reading it,well done!!

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