It Was Good, At First

I like to tell stories. I am going to tell you a story about a girl who didn’t want to belong. – The House on Mango Street

That One Car

Growing up my entire life, I was always driven in that one car. I don’t remember much about it because I was only 5 at the time, but what I do know is that it was special. It was gray and slightly battered from the many years that my parents drove it during their college years; just an average minivan. However, to me it was my childhood. I would sit on the car seat and sing songs with my sister and my family as we drove to markets or stores for errands. I would play with the seats moving them up and down and I would climb to the back sometimes and act like it was my fortress. It was the best moments of my childhood that I had with my family and friends. And although it may seem like a regular car, it symbolized my growth. The day I abandoned the car seat meant something to me; I was growing up. Surprisingly, for what many people don’t acknowledge, sleeping in the car was the best, especially during the hour-long road trips. I know that love for an object may seem wrong, but the day we sold it, I was sad. Fifteen years with that car and it began to die; the engine often broke down and sometimes the door struggled to open. Sometimes I forget about that one car, but it always seems to reappear in the streets again, reminding me of my cherished childhood memories. 

The Attic

There’s an attic in my house. But, no one goes up there. No basements and no underground tunnels; there’s just an attic. It’s up there. But what is up there? No one knows and no one will know. It’s a rule that my sister and I made: 1) don’t explore it and 2) don’t play around with it. Abide by it, she says, with your life.

My sister says that there’s a monster up there, creeping in the dark with claws as great as a scythe and the jaws of the Great White Shark. It’s waiting, she says, waiting for someone. I didn’t believe her at first, but I do now. Every night, there’s sounds coming from the roof. It’s muffling and sounds of scratches as if something was trying to escape. It’s the monster of course. It’s waiting for someone. And so I stare at the ceiling each night waiting for the gracious monster to escape from the small wooden panel, the door to the attic and attack us all.

One time, in the middle of summer, I woke up with beads of sweat dripping from my face. It was extremely hot outside and through my weariness I decided to get up and look for a fan. Out the door and down the halls to a little cabinet by the attic. The attic, up there. I began tugging at the cabinet door, searching frantically for the fan, pushing aside wooden boxes and plastic bags. But interrupting my search was the muffled sounds and scratches coming from the attic. I became stunned, shocked, and frightened; it was in there, behind that wooden panel, waiting for someone, for me. The sounds grew louder and louder and became more aggressive and soon there was pounding on the door to the attic. Fearing the great monster, I screamed and ran to my room, forgetting the fan. I jumped on the bed, covered myself in blankets and pillows and cried. 

I know that I’m not hallucinating. It really happened, with my own eyes. My sister is the only one who believes me and so we take caution whenever we go near the attic. The attic in my house. The attic no one has ever explored. The attic that houses the monster. Don’t go around it. 

Give it to Us

When I was in middle school, I never really bothered about wasting food or caring much for the things I had. Yes, I was fortunate enough to have these pieces of clothing, but it never really mattered much. School lunches which consisted of dried hamburgers and ripened fruit would be tossed in the trash can. Sometimes, it was also the vegetables that I didn’t eat or food that I couldn’t finish. But it wasn’t just me; there were over hundreds of other kids who threw away their leftovers, overfilling the school trash cans with bits and pieces of food that could have been eaten. 

The African kids, my mom would say. Don’t waste your food or when you throw those noodles away, make sure you pray for them. The thing was, I was well aware of the ongoing problems of poverty and starvation in Africa, but I just couldn’t see how throwing away my food would affect them. We can’t send food thousands of miles across the world. 

One day, while I was on the way to the trash can to toss my leftover food with my friends, I saw a girl calling some students to place their unwanted foods into these plastic containers. Give it to me, she would say. Curious, I walked over and handed her my food. I asked her what she was doing and she told me she was going to package these foods up and donate them to the homeless. Soon, over hundreds of students began giving their leftovers to her. I don’t know what hit me, but I soon felt compelled to help the girl out. Maybe I couldn’t help those in Africa, but at least I could help others in my local community who are facing the same problems. Give it to us, we would say. 

The Rainy Days

I hate the gloomy days. The sad days where you hear the constant pittering and pattering of the raindrops as they violently crash to the hard concrete or dead, crisp grass outside. It’s the days when you stay inside because you’re afraid of the drops of water that my mother always said “Would attract disease.” It’s true though; I have been sick for days from running in the rain. But that’s because I love rain. I love the splashes of water that fall from the gray clouds in the sky; it colors the world differently from the regular days. The rainy days that bring the world a revival in life to the places in drought or the animals or plants that thirst for water. The rainy days that bring fresher air and the calmness of wet weather. The rainy days where you jump in the puddles and wear layers upon layers of warm clothes; it’s like dressing for the snowy days. But it doesn’t snow, at least here. 

I remember waking up to trickles of water lining the surface of my window; the day I truly touched the rain. I had heard the rambling of my mother who told me it was raining and that I should stay as dry as I can today or I would bring disease into the house. So I complied and my father drove me to my friend’s house. At her house, it wasn’t like a gloomy day where we locked ourselves in her room, listening to the peaceful sound of raindrops. We had both been prepared, wearing our rain gear and our hairs tied up. I remember running to the vacant streets holding my friend’s hand as the drops of water collided into our jackets and a sound as if hail was hitting a wall erupted. We danced and jumped in the puddles, splashing each other, and shaking our heads back and floor as water jumped out of our hair. We laid in the streets for the first time and it felt like a pool as the rain began flooding the neighborhood. It was one of the best rainy days I had experienced; the rainy days where the droplets danced on my skin and I felt free. I love the rainy days. 

If Only They Knew

He thinks he’s a world-class surgeon or at least his dream was to be an astonishing surgeon. He loved to cut and he’s done it ever since he was a little boy: cutting the meat when cooking with his mother in the restaurant or cutting paper into little bits to create a snow-like effect. He loved it so much, the thought of saving someone by inserting a scalpel into them and looking at their organs and making plans with his colleagues to save the patient’s life; it was exhilarating. But, he never made it and his father never believed in him. 

You will never make it … you have no future. His father’s words would play over and over again in the back of his head. What are you doing? Come here. His father slammed him on the counter and pushed him so hard that his head hit the wall and blood trickled down his nose. He’s black and blue, marked with scabs. But he doesn’t do anything. Why? His mother’s dead, his father’s wife is gone. And he loved his father, though he hated him more; it’s complicated and it hurts. The black and blue marks sting his skin; it’s a sign of love, his father says.

But it builds. The anger. The fear. The pain. His father brought home a new woman who he had hoped would bring peace in his father’s rage, but it didn’t. You’re worthless…she left us…you’re nothing. Dents engraved in the wall from his bruised back and more scabs appeared on his arms. He was hurt constantly even in front of the woman who stood by; she did nothing. He couldn’t leave; he was trapped. He loved his father, but it builds. The anger. The fear. The pain. Something hit him one day, and that day he grabbed a kitchen knife and hid it in his jacket. His father was laying on the couch watching the TV like he always did, holding the beer can in one hand and the other tapping the controller. Hatred took over that day and he ran with the sharp object in his hand and drove it into his father. No sound, just the knife pushing deeper in; he could see pain slip away from his father’s eyes. He loved it so much, the thought of saving his father’s grief by inserting a scalpel into him and looking at his organs, but this time he didn’t know what to do next.

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