Tuesday, February 26, 2019

Little Silent Girl

*Little Silent Girl was originally published in Bluffs Literary Magazine Volume IV, 2019.

As I slowed my car to a stop for the red light, I noticed the car next to me.  The older sedan had noticeable dents and rust. The rear bumper wore several sticker trophies of various bands and concerts. The back seat was piled high on the driver side with laundry baskets full of dirty clothes.  Crumpled linens, wrinkled t-shirts, and lonely socks hanging on for dear life to the basket, risking certain death of hitting the wet, rainy ground as the breeze from the open window flapped them back and forth.  On the other side of the piles of dirty clothes sat a little girl, probably around three years old.  A little silent girl.

She had a tiny face with mousy brown hair that was pulled back into a messy braid.  Her gentle features were so dainty and yet that wasn't what struck me.  It was her forlorn demeanor.  Her silent, withdrawn demeanor.  As she stared blankly out the window, watching the rain hit the window, I noted her eyes that seemed to stare past the window, beyond the intersection and into another world.  A world in her own mind.  Maybe an escape from something else.  Her mouth was drawn into a tight, tiny frown that gave away her secret. 

I could read her like a book.  She was not a happy girl. In the few, lonely minutes that I sat next to her car at the red light, I had her figured out.  I watched her in awe, waiting for her to make a facial expression, to laugh at the giant clown sign that hung over the ice cream store on the other side of my car, in which direction she was staring. 


I waited for her to say something to her mother that was looking blankly ahead, waiting for the light to change. 


I waited and waited until finally she looked at me and we made eye contact.  I gave her a sympathetic, kind smile.  And she returned with Nothing.  Not a smirk, a giggle or raise of an eyebrow.  Just the continual frown that made her little face look longer that it should be for a child.  As she broke our uncomfortable glance and then looked down at her lap, I thought of my own children.

In the amount of time that it takes for a light to change, this little girl mesmerized my soul and captivated my every thought.  I wondered what she was thinking. Feeling.

I created scenarios in my mind about what could have possibly happened to make such an innocent child sit and stare so blankly on a silent ride in the car.  I thought of the conversations that may have transpired and led to her silence in the back seat.

I compared her to my own children in my thoughts, about how a car ride is a constant conversation and question upon question is delivered.  I thought about how my own five year old daughter, just a few years older than this silent girl, would have laughed, giggled and sang in the car, marveling at the rainy day, how the clown's face delivered a silly grin and how the rain sang as it hit the car window.  I wondered how they could be so different.  How could this little silent girl have such a spirit of a crushed soul?  The loneliest being I ever never met. 

How, at such a tender age and being, she could possess such a sadness, as if she were an 80 year old woman who had watched her life pass before her, as she watched the love of her life slip away.

As the light changed and they drove away, I felt my heart shrink.  I wished I could help her.  Understand her.  Talk to her. Console her. 

But she was gone, speeding down the road with the pile of dirty laundry stacked to the ceiling, teetering towards her.  It made me wonder...how dirty was the laundry in that little silent girl's life?

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Sunday, February 3, 2019

Friendship and Snacks

I'm not really a sports person.  I don't watch or follow sports.  My husband doesn't watch sports.

We're not a sports family.  So when it's Super Bowl Sunday, it's just like any other Sunday at our house.

But in the off-chance that we do go to a Super Bowl party, please note, I'm only there for the friends and the snacks.

Which got me thinking today...
You can pretty much size-up what type of friend someone is based on what snacks they bring to the party.  Allow me to elaborate.

The Stale Chip Friend
This friend is about the lowest on the ladder because they don't put any effort into the snacks.  They are probably running late and showed up with a bag of stale chips.  They might even have a chip-clip on them already.  This just says "I didn't care enough about this event to go to the store and find something.  I just grabbed these half-eaten chips from my cabinet and drove over."  The fact that they didn't put any effort into the snack probably means they won't put much effort into your friendship either.  Steer clear of Stale Chip friends.  You don't need them in your life.

The Shows-Up-Empty-Handed Friend
More than likely, this person isn't really a friend.  Maybe an acquaintance or co-worker?  They might have just found out about the party and wasn't sure of the snack etiquette.  Either way, this friend probably won't be playing a vital role in your life, so I would just not worry about them and move on.

The Store Bought Snacks Friend
This friend is a little more stable in their loyalty as a friend.  They made the effort to run to the store for some fresh chips, salsa, a meat and cheese tray or some bakery cookies. This friend is someone you can count on.  Bonus points if this friend asked ahead of time what you needed for the party.  This friend is thoughtful and practical.  You should definitely keep the Store Bought Snack Friend.

The Healthy Snack Friend
This friend has the best intentions and is really trying to be a good friend.  More than likely, they are currently on some kind of eating plan and they might secretly want to recruit you into their eating habits.  Or maybe they are just worried that they won't find anything that they can eat at your party so why not bring their own snacks?  Or maybe they are thinking about all the unhealthy snacks that will likely be at the party and they are being sensible by bringing something healthy. Either way, this friend is also worth keeping, as long as they aren't getting on your nerves about you joining their paleo/keto/fasting/Whole whatever diet.

The Crockpot Friend
A word of advice...if you find a Crockpot Friend, never let them go!  They are a rare find and worth having as a good friend.  I would venture to say, a BEST FRIEND.  The Crockpot Friend not only planned a snack (or meal) ahead of time, but probably spent a significant amount of time going to the store to gather ingredients, preparing the food, and letting it cook all day.  Not to mention, the time and effort to lug a damn crockpot out the door, in the car, and to a party.  The Crockpot friend values your friendship and will stick by your side through thick and thin.  They are willing to put in extra effort in your friendship and go out of their way to help a friend. Not only do they make a nice food display at your party but the Crockpot friends are also the friends that more than likely stay and help you clean up after the party.  They are the last ones to leave and make sure that all the dishes are done and garbage taken out before everyone leaves.  I'll say it again, NEVER LET A CROCKPOT FRIEND GO!  

There you have it...the different types of friends based on what snacks they bring to the party.  Are there any that you would add?