A Picture of Impossible

By , Providence, RI
It's cold out here. Real cold. The kind of cold that seeps into your bones and makes you wish for a nice fire and a blanket and a cup of tea. That makes your nose run. That numbs your toes until they hurt. But I'm not going inside. Ky is in there, and whenever Ky's around there's trouble.

I know I'm only fourteen, but these days I feel much older. Ky and my parents seem like the younger ones. I am the thread hurriedly sewing my family together as Ky slowly snips our life apart. I don't know why I got stuck with him. He's seventeen and wants to go to college when he knows we don't have enough money, when he knows that I don't even go to school, I take online courses 'cause we don't have a car and the bus doesn't come our way. When he knows Mom and Dad are going through some rough times and he doesn't even try to help out even though he's old enough to work. I'm not but I do. I take a few lessons and then I'm out in the forest snapping pictures of things I know folks like: the sunlight seeping through the trees in the early morning, a bird trilling out it's cheerful tune. Mom says my pictures aren't just sights, they're thoughts and wonders and hopes. And then we sell every one of them, ever since I was seven years old and picked up my first camera.

But Mom doesn't know about my pictures. The ones I take for myself, to show in ways I can never express in words, only in thoughts and pictures what it's like being the child. The one who no one really pays attention to because she can take care of herself in ways that her older brother doesn't even imagine. Her spoiled older brother who calls her the helpless baby when he's the one who can't even pick up a job and work to help support us and bring us back on our feet. The one who attended real high school, not some crappy electronic course. I show the things my mom and dad and Ky never seem to notice: the paint chipping off the walls of my room, the dust in the hall, the overgrown lawn. Not only are we poor but we look it and that's why I've never tried to make friends. If I did they would go away as soon as they saw where I lived. So I got acquainted with the forest, spent my time there. Took pictures for customers and then took a few for me. Me on the beach, lying in the sand while the shore creeps up to kiss my hair. My shadow on a tree, covering the rich brown in gray. My shadow taking my place in my family as I take two of snapshots: one for me, one for them. Click, click. I call this collection Impossible.

I have a home. Not with my family, like they notice when I'm gone, but in the woods. In the thickest part right before it breaks out onto the shore I have a little cottage. Ky once asked where I go all the time, pretending he pays attention to his little sister, and I responded "Paradise." And that's what I call it: Paradise. I took a picture of it and posted it on the inside of the door and then began the renovation process: taking the rotting wood out of the walls and replacing it with fresh wood, then covered the outside entirely in tarp. The rain never bothers me now. On the inside there's a little fireplce that's functional enough, if I take care not to make the fire too big. There's a rug lying on the floor that I knit myself, covering the hardwood. And all across the walls, hanging from the ceiling, is Impossible. At night, I pull out my little folding cot and sleep there. The screen over the two windows keeps the bugs out but I wear insect repellent anyway. I wake up to the first rays of light streaming inside and make it back to the Family House before anyone wakes up.

Every day I have to hear Ky arguing with my parents. "I want to go to college," he says and I want to tell him that it doesn't matter what he wants, because we all want things but I sure haven't gotten very many of those things but Dad beats me to it: "We don't have the money." Then Mom jumps in with "If you got a job we could take out a loan and maybe you could work it off," and Dad says "We are not going to be in debt," and Ky says "I just don't want to be poor anymore. I just want a nice, luxurious life," and I want to yell that we all do, he's no exception, and then Mom says "We do the best we can," and Ky responds with "That isn't enough," and I leave.

When I leave I try to pretend that I don't know any of the people in the Family House. That I belong with the forest and not anywhere near them. Better yet, that I am a part of the forest and that I am no longer a trivial human, and Impossible creates the world for me. When I lay in the sand, my hair blends into the rich browns and yellows. When I am in a tree, my eyes match the dark green leaves. When I am in the shadows, I am invisible. And yet when I am with my family, I stick out like a sore thumb, like a mistake. So I choose not to be a mistake. I choose the forest and soon anything is possible. Even taking a picture of impossible.





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