Squirrel Pen Diary: First Entry
Last Wednesday morning I entered Our Lady Star of the Sea church during mid-week mass. While two dozen or so senior citizens went through the ancient, dusty rites (monotonously administered by an equally ancient and dusty priest), I rose unseen and snuck upstairs to a small balcony that communicates with the church’s attic. I climbed atop the guano splattered stone rail that hugs the balcony and balanced myself on one foot and held the other out as though I intended to take a seventy-foot step onto the marble walkway below. After I had done all that, there wasn’t much else to do except wait for someone to notice me.
Sonny’s hand shook as he took a drag from his cigarette. Rain drops from the eaves above bruised onto Sonny’s faded grey scaly cap. He watched on as his lifelong friend Daniel reached the walkway to the funeral home. With his head down, and hands in his rain slicker’s pockets, Daniel walked down the cobbled path. “Sonny,” he said with a nod, as he reached the tall, twin hinged doors. The two men shared a moment of a silence, backs toward the funeral home, long faces towards the rain, as Sonny’s cigarette began to fade.
My Mum didn’t die a peaceful death. She got bitten on her toe by a rattlesnake whilst walking through the big park at night in her flip flops. She didn’t have the cell phone with her because my Dad had it that night. The poison got into her veins and stopped her heart. The next time when we saw her, she was all stiff and puffy. But her face was angry, most likely about the cell phone, I think. My Dad says she comes back in the form of a hurricane every few years or so and it’s our goddammed duty to weather the storm. He says they can call ‘em whatever they want – Irma, Katrina, Harvey, but they all Hurricane Josephine to him.
“Three things?” he said.
“Three things,” Lexie said. She was lying on her stomach, ankles crossed and held in the air, typing on her Mac. He had a Dell himself. But Lexie and her mother were Apple through and through. His ex-wife would buy a toilet seat if the Apple logo was on it.
This is the story of a girl who became a goose.
It began with a broken heart. Eloise found herself crying in unexpected places at unexpected times. In the grocery line, when a clerk with kind eyes asked with such sincerity, How are you today?, her eyes brimmed. The answer swelled in her throat. She had to look away and mutter Fine, I’m fine. She was not.
Whatever happened to the power-chord?
To which my boyfriend lit a bowl
Was A Stairway to Heaven really the greatest song?
Think it over as you pass that on
Said he’d love me till the end of time;
Forever came to stay in 1989
Still, he was never all so great;
For me that bell had tolled in ‘88
Thirty years go by in the glaze of an eye;
Can it be it’s always the promising future that lies?
When my sister Tess and I were girls we’d often visit our father’s grave in New Town Cemetery. Although he had died suddenly when I was two and Tess an infant (thus destined to be little more to us than a face in the family photo album and a grave in the cemetery), we’d make time for “Dear Father” because we had agreed that it was the sort of thing daughters should do. I would recite a psalm memorized from Granna Ivy’s Bible, and Tess would lay a hastily clapped-together bouquet of daisies, buttercups and bluebells on his headstone. I recall admonishing her for the frequent inclusion of dandelions to the arrangement, “Those are weeds, numbskull.” Tess would defend the addition of dandelions on the grounds that “Nobody grows daisies, buttercups or bluebells on purpose, either, bonehead.”
I don’t understand why the boy wears two watches. Plus, they look really expensive. I just don’t get it. I myself can’t hold onto watches. I buy them and forget to take them off, which means when I shower or swim- both of which I do quite often- they get destroyed. I had a watch for two days once before I looked down in the middle of a breast stroke and saw the inner face fog up. I cursed under water and bubbles of regret rose to the surface. I’ve never been good with watches and now this child, as he is only about twelve years old, comes into my pottery studio with two watches on his wrist. One, I’m quite sure, is a Rolex.