Tattered Photograph

November 8, 2007
By Alyssa Saupe, Bellingham, WA

Your life is a tattered photograph. A torn fragment of what once was, but never is. A slideshow of flickering lights, moments taken out of someone else’s life and sewn into a patchwork quilt of your own, but it would never be yours to treasure.

The years seem to flow by like days. On your third birthday you suddenly find yourself blowing out eight candles. You do not remember writing the sentence before this. The minutes roll by like water, silently filling in empty spaces and eroding down all rocks to perfect smoothness. You drive down a gravel road and don’t fell the bumps or ruts. You seem to glide, like a silvery sheet woven of the thinnest material, a hushed river of just water and stones. A frozen surface you can skate across. Like a snowy landscape, white and still. In the tranquil silence, whispered voices call your name, so you close your eyes, breath in the icy air, and let yourself go.

Your alarm goes off in the morning. You roll over and turn on the light, starting another day, another moment, another eternity. Dragging yourself to your closet, you decide what to wear today, but it doesn’t matter. No one notices what you wear and if they do, what do you care? You throw on your usual outfit, jeans, a t-shirt, and a jacket. Next step. You find yourself in the bathroom. Pull a brush through your hair, slather on some makeup, and study yourself. Brown hair, check. Bangs that hang over one eye, you brush them off your face. Olive brown eyes look back at you from dark lashes and thin eyebrows. You’ve always looked the same. All family photographs. You see a mom, dad, little boy, and what’s that? A small figure, just a shadow, always the same position, always the same unsure smile stapled to her face. You sigh, turn and go down the stairs to the kitchen. Your mom forgot to go to the store again. The fridges cool air feels good against your face. You pull out a week old banana, turning to face your reflection smirking back at you, for it to knows how your day will go. You check your stuff. All of it’s there. You sling your backpack over one shoulder and walk out the door.

A bird, silent as death, swoops in and out of your life. You wake up one morning feeling empty, to find something is missing, stolen. A favorite book, that you read and re-read, and one day you open it up to find a page is missing. Ripped is a journey in a wonderful story that displays the life you wish you had. A cookie jar that a mother guards so protectively of sticky little hands, but when her back is turned, a pudgy arm snakes its way into the ceramic pot and another of her precious treasures has disappeared. You think back and remember all of the figures that have been forgotten. The dusty pages of an old photo album that has not been opened in a very long time. Only you go there now. Only you travel to the lost land of memories, where only you can mingle with the forgotten.

Waves cascade down: over the plan you made in the sand, creating new patterns, new paths for you to follow. It’s like your brain has put you body onto autopilot. Your childhood has passed like a dream, a snow white bird with muffled feathers, your life tied to it’s beating wings, forcing what happens to happen, and you to go where you go. Your control has left you with nothing but your emotions. Sometimes, when you get to a rocky spot that the ocean didn’t smooth, you just want to stop, but you can’t. You’re not in charge. What you’d like to do is stop the ride, the merry-go-round that is your life, to run, scream, to just curl up and cry out all you confusion, but that’s just another fantasy that is pushed into the back of your mind, but it’s still there. A journal that is the only thing that is yours, that always has been, and always will. You childhood has moved in mysterious ways, crept by on padded paws, leaving you with nothing to do but sit down, sit back, and watch.

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