Under Pressure

“Under Pressure” Pencil. 2000. (I covered up a section to avoid identifying a person.)

Being a mother is stressful. So is being a wife. And being a woman in general. I try so hard to be good at my many jobs and wear many hats, but most of the time I feel like I’m juggling and the joke’s on me because I can’t juggle. I put a lot of pressure on myself.

I’ve wanted to be married and be a mom for as long as I can remember. When I was in high school, I dreamed of falling in love, getting married, and having children right away. I couldn’t imagine not having children soon after getting married because I didn’t think I would be able to maintain enough conversation with a guy who would choose to be with me. I was so clueless. It sounds silly now because my favorite person to talk to is my husband, and only about half of our conversations are about our children. Continue reading “Under Pressure”

My biggest fear

Fear. It can be crippling. It can also change as we age. What’s your biggest fear right now at this moment? Will you have the same answer tomorrow?

When I was little, my biggest fear was abandonment. After my father passed away, my mother remarried the man who would end up raising me and shaping my life in ways I didn’t know were possible at the time. I was only four, which is how old my daughter is now. I didn’t understand everything that had happened. I just had a fuzzy memory of my mother holding me over the side of my father’s hospital bed and telling me to say goodbye. I hadn’t said anything; I’d just waved. Waving instead of speaking is something my daughter does sometimes when she’s apprehensive about something. She’s afraid of the dark and worries when she thinks I am mad at her.

Not long after my mother and stepfather got married, I began having a recurring nightmare. I think I was about six when it began and it happened several times during the next few years. I dreamt about having to go hunting with my stepfather, just the two of us. In the dream, he made me stand under the water in a creek so that he could stand on my shoulders and look for deer through his binoculars. When I couldn’t hold my breath any longer, I pushed him off my shoulders, and he fell into the water and hit his head on the rocks. He wouldn’t wake up. At that point, I would always wake up crying. Pretty twisted for a kid’s dream, huh?

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The Summer of Reality

This story was part of the collection of writing samples I submitted for the Creative Writing Scholarship contest at Arkansas Tech University in Spring 1999. I placed 4th, so I was pretty excited about that. The scholarship paid for my books for my first year in college. 

The Summer of Reality, 1999

The last day that I was ever fifteen, I went to the mall with my Mom, my aunt Carrie, and my best friend Melanie.

Earlier that morning, I mailed a letter that could change my whole life if the receiver decided to at least humor me. During the previous school year, I had developed a crush on a new boy named Mike. He was everything  I wanted and so wrong for me. He seemed like the perfect guy, except for the fact that he was nervous and tongue-tied around me, which did not help in our getting to know each other.

The mall seemed better than usual, or maybe it was just my birthday money burning a hole in my pocket.

“So what are you planning to do this summer?” Melanie asked me to take my mind off of the slow restaurant workers. “You never did tell me where you’re going for vacation.”

“We’re not sure yet, but I think we’re going to Alabama, Mississippi, and possibly Florida,” I told her, wishing that our conversation could switch to serious matters such as the letter to Mike.

“Maybe you’ll get to see the ocean,” she said. She smiled. “Or maybe you could even see a lighthouse. Then it would all be worth it.” She knew my fascination with lighthouses and old ships, among other things.

I decided it was up to me to change the subject. “Do you think Mike will answer my letter? Tell me the truth, do you think he’ll even read it?” I asked desperately.

She hesitated, but then answered. “Honestly, Pearl, I think he’ll read it, but he would never in a million years answer it. He’s got this chip on his shoulder put there by the morons he hangs out with, you know that as well as I do,” she said sympathetically. “You deserve better.”

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