Sugar Cubes

March 24, 2012
By pk012 BRONZE, Newton, Massachusetts
pk012 BRONZE, Newton, Massachusetts
3 articles 0 photos 0 comments

Should the King and Queen always be behind the moves of the pawn? Better yet, what if the King and Queen originate from the black squares and the pawn lands in the white squares? Just as the daughters of The Joy Luck Club recognize, life—especially the portrayed American life—is truly not as conformed as the game of chess. And with that, the “ladies you see on American television these days, the ones who are so happy they have washed the stain so the clothes look better than new” (56) illustrate the unviable essence of regality.

It was just that sort of mentality. The gentleman sat recumbently upon his bed of many years—the precise bed which he was blessed to find just after high school. It was evident that the paint started to chip from the walls many generations before, but was now showing its wear faster than ever, as it followed the wrinkling of the gentleman’s skin which was making deeper, more intricate dry cracks. He looked as though a rotting tree stump would—soggy, sturdy, with each crack symbolizing a new year.

One would have never perceived the gentleman’s weariness unless explicitly expressed. It was either the prickly, nauseating feeling chemotherapy had left him with, or it was solely desire for that one petulant adventure he had missed that brought him in front of the drawn shade. As the pulley consumed the perpetual string that permitted a yellow fare of vitamin-D to illuminate the squalid four-by-four edifice, the gentleman felt his name being called. He felt as if he was in a state of convulsion, a sweet, welcomed feeling of excitement he felt when he reached the sugar cubes whose placement in the kitchen pantry followed his growth in height.

He glared in the fully open window, and the image—the reflection of himself appeared translucent, through which the gentleman recollected the foundation of his life. And so jut the sugar cubes through which his parents became his worst enemies. Every day, the gentleman would observe his peers to whom he felt very inferior. The peers would arrive to school every day speaking of the Oreos, chocolate chip cookies and Doritos their parents had picked up for them, the small but meaningful knick-knacks their cousins would bring for them, and the elaborately designed golden envelopes the grandmas and grandpas would bring from their cottages down the countryside.

But when the gentleman brought home his report card, his parents would snap it out of his hands, ensure that the ink only formed the letter ‘A’—the only American letter they knew and they would snap it back at the gentleman, “why no all ‘A’?” “Why you get ‘B+’?. The young boy forced himself to believe that his parents never mentioned or gloated about the diligently handwritten comments such as “creative” “perceptive” “unique.”

“You gon’ be fat…all boys and girls going to laugh at you…and then parents come tell me I don’ rule my child.” Light, delicate drops of water began to well at the corners of his Mediterranean-colored eyes, the eyes that had been controlled and forced to stay dry, but to also roll around in condescending circles at the sight of an uneducated, poor, or Atheist “laymen.” He could only see one thing before his parents made that comment to him—the sugar cubes that he felt he deserved for such academic work. He so politely and apprehensively requested a taste of sweetness, for he knew that if he were expected to solely be a robot, he at least needed energy.

And it’s the only thing that the gentleman held: the blue-green eyes that fluctuated with the natural light, the ones that as he sits in front of the open window are the true color of his own sea. And now they are again welling with tears, that, as they finger his furrowed philtrum taste of a liberated joy…sweeter and more energizing than any sugar cube.

The gentleman had risen from his place on the window sill to a hand that had laid itself on the door so lightly as if its owner had attempted to be incognito from the elder behind the door. For when he carefully opened the latch to glimpse small eyes whose color appeared to alter from blue to green as the sun from behind the gentleman shined, it was not a nebulous notation that a non-graduate photographer could see that the eyes belonged to the line of his own kin, and these particular eyes began to share a story and perspective that the gentleman knew for himself.

Searching for understanding, the child had run from his house. It was both understanding from another and understanding of self. The child carefully walked to the counter that was perfectly his height and grabbed a sugar cube and plopped it in a cup of coffee. Inside the gentleman’s edifice, he recognized himself as a baby, screaming in the disgusted and humiliated hands of his father. The child wiped a hefty layer of dust from the book made of typeset fabrics that revealed, “The Gentleman: Photos of an Odyssey.” The gentleman sat curled by the window sill, his skin kept warm by the sun. He needed not to speak for his photos did so for him. He needed not to explain why he left his house at such a young age, running from parents who forbid the camera that he had found in a trash can. The photos showed nature, they tracked a journey, they vocalized the sound of church bells, they tracked the growth of a backyard tree, which, with perspective, changed from a forest to a single tree.

The great grandchild watched his sugar cube melt away in the coffee; diverge first from the sides then down the middle into small grains. The grains fell to the bottom of the water colored porcelain mug, and he retrieved two more sugar cubes from the counter and dropped them in. They snapped a photo, holding the pose for much time, the photo articulated a sense of solidarity and understanding. Their eyes had become different colors, a conglomerate of dark browns, blacks and blues, overpowered by the tickle of hot pinks, optimistic reds, and bold limes. Their eyes had become a color of their own, and for that alone, the pawns, young and old, big and small, made way for when the king crowned the child with a clear corona waiting to be colored with crayons, markers and watercolors, to be photographed and placed right on a shelf reached by all who aspired and aspire to shine their own shade of yellow.

The author's comments:
This piece was written as a creative response to certain themes of Amy Tan's The Joy Luck Club.

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