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13/06/2016

Excerpts

Shannon Lewis

Sunday 29th March, 2015

I burned my hand today. I didn’t mean to, I suppose. I just settled my hand on the hot roof of a red Ferrari for a moment. Or I thought it was a moment. The Sun was too hot and glaring. It was in my eyes. I didn’t even feel it. I only noticed when I peeled my hand off and it was pink and blistering. The owner of the car, whose grocery bags I had been carrying, had a worried look on his face. He asked me if I was ok. I didn’t answer.

When I got home, I turned all the lights off and used a lighter I’d nicked from the store to light a candle. I watched the flames furl and unfurl on the small wick. I let them intertwine with the fingertips. I felt a vague warmth come off them but aside from that nothing. No pain.

Huh.

 

Sunday 5th April, 2015

I have to say, I agree with TS Elliot. April is the cruelest month. In just its first week I’m already waiting for it to end. On April 1st I emerged from the store to find my bike had been spray-painted neon yellow. I considered checking the security cameras to see who had done it but I figured it wasn’t worth the hassle. Katy from the store says I should press charges. Whatever.

I have begun biking down Deadman’s Hill. On it, there are signs specifically outlining that biking down it is prohibited. I hear that some kid died on it once. As I bike, the wind rushes through my hair and the world becomes a blur and for a brief moment, I’m faster than anything and anyone and no one can touch me. I long for the rush of adrenaline now. It comes occasionally, when the front wheel of the bike wobbles or slips a moment, but it is muted and brief.

Mom called yesterday. She says I should take up painting. Says it’s relaxing or something. “Good for the soul”.

 

Sunday 12th April, 2015

Mom just called to tell me how proud she is of me. The painting I made won some local contest. I can’t remember what for. I sent the award to my mom. I didn’t even read it. I bought the paints and canvas on Monday. On Tuesday, I made a gray square on a black background with grey stripes. On Wednesday, I splashed all the colors on a white canvas and stepped on it for good measure. That one won the contest. The other one I hung in my bedroom.

I don’t understand what people saw in the other painting, but they approached me with tears in their eyes. Someone offered to buy it. I didn’t even care. I read somewhere that when Harper Lee published To Kill a Mockingbird, she was so overwhelmed by its success and by its being wrenched from her grasp that she never wrote again. I can’t imagine. I sold my prize-winning painting for five dollars and left the gallery early.

Sometimes, I look at the grey painting and feel a bit sad. Well, less sad and more numb. I wish people would love that painting. But it’s so drab. I can’t even imagine anyone hating it. That’s too strong an emotion. They’d feel more of a mild case of ennui.

Sometimes I think life is just a mild case of ennui.

I kind of wish it wasn’t.

 

Sunday 19th April, 2015

I went on a date on Friday. Katy said Sam was great and I would have an awesome time. He got me hyacinths. I was home by 10. I’ve always found dating a tiresome activity. The back and forth, the flirtation, the carefully arranged display of one’s self. It’s a bit… dull.

It was my birthday last week. On Tuesday. I had forgotten. The only way I remembered was from an automatic email I got from the dentist reminding me about the birthday discount they now offered. 10% off. What a deal. I think my mom forgot as well. She hasn’t called in a while. I should call her soon. Check in.

 

Sunday 26th April, 2015

The funeral went off without a hitch. The catering company’s food was good enough and they were on time. Everyone said nice things. I gave a speech about what a nice mom she was and about our weekly phone calls. In the front row, I saw Aunt Hilda wipe away a tear.

I forgot and accidentally phoned the house on Saturday. I got the answering machine. It was an automated message except the name. That was Mom’s voice. Should I feel bad that I didn’t cry? I feel like the greyness inside me is spreading to my throat and eyes. It’s choking me. Everything is tainted by it. I wish I was free.

 

Sunday 3rd May, 2015

I’m still trembling. I can’t believe what I’ve done. I’m angry and sad and screaming and alive! I was in the dentist’s waiting room, on the 23rd story, staring out the window, when I heard screams below. I stuck my head out and saw a small crowd forming on the sidewalk outside. They were all staring at the roof above me. I looked up and saw a man in a suit and tie, sobbing, standing at the edge of the building. He was saying goodbye into his phone. Then he looked up, determined and strong and flaring, and let himself fall. I reached my hand out, stupidly, and caught him by the ankle. By then, the dentist had come into the room. He helped me pull the man in. I looked at the man, now pale with fear, and I felt life rush through my veins. I hugged his body and kissed his face and cried like I never have. I miss my mom! I wish she hadn’t died! I wish I could fall in love! I hate that those fucking kids trashed my bike!  I am not content with watching my life unfold before me!

I AM ALIVE!

I lit a candle today, in honor of my mom. My fingers lingered on the match for a bit too long and the flames bit them. I dropped the match. The flames burned me this time. It hurt.

 


‘Excerpts’ was published in 2016 as part of the UEA Undergraduate Creative Writing Anthology, Undertow.

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