03 March 2011

a portrait of sixteen.

but first: i’m maybe ten and swinging hard on the reedy branch that most times curves like willow, but on this morning it’s had enough of me. the wood splinters and i let go surprised, and splay stiff and sudden on cracked pavement of the street below.

a dozen seconds tremble in place before i can inflate my lungs with breath, one harsh swig of relief rushing in with the oxygen. the pain coiling from the back of my skull makes the whole world shimmer into a mirage.

i push up and wobble to the edge of the lawn to regard my father, steadily mowing grass. my bones rattle beneath my weight, partly adrenaline, but mostly because he was this close and hadn’t seen a thing.

i start toward the house, my universe unhinged.




and then i’m sixteen, insisting that i’m fine, that the kid i love is every bit as charming as he seems, we just fight a lot, that’s all. and i want them to leave me alone, let it go, but most of all see through my bravado to the girl knocked flat, gulping for relief that doesn’t come, drowning on solid ground.

but i’m too good at creating distance, i guess. and the pain coiling from the hollow of my chest makes the whole world shimmer into a mirage.




* * *




i'd be remiss to leave you sans-epilogue: that hope wins out in the end, and even this pain, brief but blinding, is redeemed.

20 comments:

deb colarossi said...

I am trembling.
For all of it.

oh. just. oh.

happygirl said...

Girl knocked flat. I know this feeling well. I wish I didn't. I wish I could be the girl that said "DAD, I NEED YOU", but I'm not. I'm too good a creating distance, too.

Old Ollie said...

Brilliant - nice open narrative, fresh, loved it.

Brandee Shafer said...

10 or 36, I have always wanted others to see what I don't say. Great post.

Abby said...

this is very moving, nicole. i was struck especially by:

'but i’m too good at creating distance, i guess. and the pain coiling from the hollow of my chest makes the whole world shimmer into a mirage.'

very powerful--this really is what we learn, isn't it? it's easier to create distance than to risk the hurt--letting in, opening up. i realize the more that i reflect how i subtly did this...

Nancy said...

Thank you for the epilogue. I wrote of pain the other day, too, and should have added mine as well. Broken and painful, yes, but I continue to cling to the One who redeems all things.

kendal said...

i love this piece - the comparison. the honesty. and like nancy, i'm glad you gave us the epilogue!

Rebekah said...

hmmmm... so true, so real.

kendal said...

i love this piece - the comparison. the honesty. and like nancy, i'm glad you gave us the epilogue!

fleetfeet said...

I love you. That's it. I love you.

Norman said...

Oh, Nic. I don't think you knew what was happening for awhile either. So glad that God was there to rescue you when we could not. He is SO faithful:)

emily wierenga said...

i tremble, with deb.

this life, it just knocks us flat, doesn't it?

and your writing leaves me, always, breathless...

Leslie said...

ahhh, the father wasn't looking. we feel that way sometimes, no? that he goes along with his daily tasks, while the breath is being knocked out of us. yet he is there, and as you said so very well, there is grace. there is redemption.

Joybird said...

even this pain, brief but blinding is redeemed...oh LORD, may it be so.

lulu and family said...

you help us feel the pain, ache, even agony of it. there are times when we can feel like we are SO alone in our hurt. feelings can be deceiving.=)

Kati patrianoceu said...

You captured this feeling all too well. We lose our childhood too eagerly but we still want the love at the same time...

keLi said...

oh, friend. my head nearly bumped the laptop for the nodding "yes."

do you think, if we keep this alive with our words ... if we write it enough ... we'll remember enough to see it in our own kids?

keLi said...

oh, friend. my head nearly bumped the laptop for the nodding "yes."

do you think, if we keep this alive with our words ... if we write it enough ... we'll remember enough to see it in our own kids?

Joybird said...

even this pain, brief but blinding is redeemed...oh LORD, may it be so.

emily wierenga said...

i tremble, with deb.

this life, it just knocks us flat, doesn't it?

and your writing leaves me, always, breathless...