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Jett Superior laid this on you on || March 17, 2003 || 1:46 am

Surfeit.

I was ten, ten-and-a-half at the most. I never really thought about how very young that is until a few moments ago. I always felt so grown, even before I could really understand the meaning of the word.

It was a fairly large house, and had I been sleeping in my upstairs bedroom (being savvy, and as a covert nod to my independent spirit, they gave me the run of nearly the whole floor up there) I probably would not have heard much –if anything at all– of it.

Fred was in the neighborhood of eight at the time. I can’t for all the life of me remember why I was there in her room for the night. Sometimes my mother would request that I bunk with my sister if the threat of an Oklahoma tornado was brewing. These requests were always under the guise of my own safety, but were made also with the recollection of my sister’s deep, quiet fear of storms. Although I played Chief, Cook and Lead Tormentor, I was also afforded the role of Crazy-Fearless Heroine In Times Of Need.

Titles may shift and erode with time, but legends stand.

There was no discernable shift between sleeping and wakefullness, no being dragged up through the murk, surfacing to consciousness. There was dead to the world and then there was a defined sense of being in the hereandnow, the air around me nearly vibrating and electric.

There is no explanation as to why I love the sound of breaking glass: That night should have driven any romantic associations with the sound far away from me.

There went the panes of the bay window in the dining room, the one whose padded seat I loved to sit in and look out over the lake (I just typed ‘lack’ in there, heh…). Glass skittered across the heavy oak table that my father had given my mother on their tenth anniversary. It was the oval, monstrous beauty, its face coated and polished to a mirror sheen, that we would later assemble around –the four of us strung loosely amongst the ten high-backed chairs, not clustered together at one end like good families should be– for The Announcement, the one that told us of the impending separation and divorce.

The windows of the family room were next, and the amber lamp that sat atop my piano to light my long-but-clumsy fingers as they sought the notes past the hazy afternoon and on into the dusk of day. Beethoven For Beginners. Billy Joel. “Blues, Mrs. Simmons, gimme blues. Gimme Frenchie plink-plink pieces, easy-but-hard Faure. Gimme something raucous and dangerous. Make my fingers work to hear. Help me to master the silences between the notes….

He came further on, careening into the walls of the hallway, pingponging as if it were natural to him to bounce from one wall to the other, only inches from one contact point to the next. Somewhere in here is where I became aware of Fred clinging to me, soundless and beginning to sweat with panic. New things frightened her immensely.

There was contact, and voices, and me sitting up in bed, “Mom?” called tenatively into the darkness. Pictures still being torn from each wall and glass still breaking with an angelic, shimmery sound.

“Everything’s okay,” she called out, voice flat but somehow still sincere, “Go back to bed, baby.”

I lie there, patting Fred’s shoulder, listening to the goings-on. Wrecked your car, Gwendolyn. Thass not perfume, are you crazy? What’s the difference, if I’m here when you wake up? I am being quiet. Ah, shuddup. Goin’ ta bed. No, no talking! We can talk when I wake up.

Then it grew painfully quiet. It seemed that my mother listened to him snore for an eternity before I heard her go down the hallway. Then there were scrapes and rattlings from the other end of the house, but only shadows of them. It was too far away to thread them together into a series of careful steps; it was just a jumbled mess of little kitchen noises, too insignificant to make heads or tails of.

When she came back down the hall I could hear the crunch of glass under her slippered feet, and I worried that a triangular slice would find its way up through the leather sole and into the tender meat of her arch. She seemed to walk heavier than usual, and I heard a muted clink that I simply couldn’t place.

After a few still seconds I heard a generous splash and what sounded like my father hitting the wall with a sharp intake of breath, spluttering and cursing my mother.

So there were four new things that night: my father without a trace of his usual haughty decorum, my father drunk, my father in the throes of an angry outburst, my father swearing at my mother.

ARE YOU TRYING TO DROWN ME, YOU BITCH?

My mother’s swift and silent reply was to bring the now-empty-of-icy-contents stoneware pitcher cleanly down on the top of his head. It’s a wonder he was not killed (testament to his and subsequent offspring’s thick heads), as she had sailed the flat-bottomed crockery down in a smooth arc onto his noggin. She culled the housekey off of his keyring, drug him to the front door, rolled him onto the veranda. She collected the spare key from the marble planter at the foot of the steps and went back on inside to pack his bags; when she finished, she sat them upright next to his prone body and stepped inside, pulling the blinds.

I get it; I too would damn near kill a motherfucker if he scared my kids like that. I don’t necessarily know where I stand on the insult, but the punishment for breaking the idyll was excommunication from our collective female presence. It’s not like it mattered; he hadn’t spoken to her in a good six months anyway and he was very emotionally unavailable to Fred and I for that last three or so weeks. Had he died, maybe it would have been a favor, a pain born of haphazard passion rather than neglect. But then, I’m sure I’d be an entirely different person if I’d had to visit with my mother through an inch of supposedly unbreakable glass, so I don’t ponder the conveniently horrible.

4 worked it out »

  1. c 3.17.2003

    where are you these days?

     
  2. waistdog 3.17.2003

    I THINK she’s just over there>

     
  3. irfan 3.19.2003

    this is good … wonders of blogging …. you can’t keep curious fans from finding out … :)

     
  4. Jett 3.19.2003

    thanks, irfan ole pal.

    “These are the days of our liiiives….”

     

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