November 12, 2008
By Hannah Miller, Tenafly, NJ

“mama loves me daddy
loves me too much”

-Lucille Clifton

The early sunrise was the color of a fat strawberry. The splashes of red were chaotic, as if the hand of God was as unsteady as a child’s. I sat on the back porch, losing myself in the sky, alone except for the calls of morning doves and the rustling of the old willow’s leafy tears. Though it was summer, I couldn’t stop shivering.

I thought about last night, my mind still roiling, still fumbling over the details. My brain felt as if it has been tossed into a washing machine. I hadn’t spoken since then, and my tongue felt heavy, as if the enormity of it all had decided to nest there. I closed my eyes and tried to escape.

When I came in through the back door, Mama was cooking breakfast. Her hair was twisted up with a dishrag and she was humming to herself. Most of the time, Mama was as impassive and gruff as the side of a mountain: all she had to do was look at you, and your pulse would quicken. But in the mornings, she was fresh and new, yet to be plagued by chores and children. She always seemed hopeful that perhaps the day would be different, that maybe the baby would eat, that Lonnie wouldn’t get into a fight, and that I would take my nose out of a book long enough to learn how to cook. The smile she gave me looked as if it had been stolen from a commercial for cereal, where a normal, blonde-haired family crowds around a box of cornflakes, eying it as if it were a beloved child. She never smiled after eight a.m.

“Luce, what are you doing up so early?” she asked, her curiosity sweetening her voice like sprinkled sugar. She was stirring porridge, and when I unglued my obese tongue to answer her, hot wafts of flavor rested on my taste buds as if my mouth wasn’t crowded enough.

“Dunno,” was all I could manage. Closing my eyes, I leaned against the wall, already tired though it couldn’t have been past seven. Already, I could feel a line snaking its way through my memories, dividing the girl that I was last night from the person I was now. I felt last night etching itself into my body, staining me with ropy scars and burrowing into my heart like a barbed worm. I gritted my teeth and tried not to cry out from the pain, but the memories coursed through me like swift poison.

The moon was a sideways smile, grinning through the window at my predicament. I remember that a storm seemed to have sprouted in my stomach, that lighting was sizzling my gut. Sticky terror had congealed in my throat, preventing me from screaming. Salt water was slipping down my cheeks, and I remember panicking that I was drowning, before realizing that it was just my tears.

“Well make yourself useful, God gave us two hands for a reason.” Mama’s voice sliced through the images like the prow of a ship. I was thankful, but I could already see that my sullenness was souring Mama’s mood, and I quickly obliged. My hands still trembling, I grabbed a fistful of forks from the drawer, and a pile of plates. I began to set the table, hoping it would soothe my quivering heart. It worked, until the last plate slid from my hands and hit the floor. Within the clean, untainted whiteness of its brokenness, I could see my reflection. I was shattered too.

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This article has 8 comments.

MSM said...
on Apr. 25 2009 at 3:34 pm
This is truly inspiring. The images are painted for you so vividly. Great Work!

pooltime said...
on Apr. 24 2009 at 11:46 pm
Hannah,this story was excellent and I can't wait to buy your first published book!!!!

goodie said...
on Apr. 24 2009 at 1:44 pm
This is an incredible story. It was completely directed to the title. The use of words was right to the point. Keep up the wonderful work. I can see this author writing a Best Seller.

kmk said...
on Apr. 23 2009 at 1:05 pm
The subtle undertones speak volumes.

robynk said...
on Apr. 23 2009 at 2:41 am

I think we have a winner here. Her writing is so vivid. I am in the room with her charcters and want to know more about them. Bravo Hannah!

Maired said...
on Apr. 23 2009 at 1:14 am

smoothie46 said...
on Apr. 20 2009 at 5:51 pm
Awesome story. Need to see more from this girl!

on Apr. 20 2009 at 2:09 am
Hannah Miller BRONZE, Tenafly, New Jersey
2 articles 0 photos 1 comment
This is incredible! Keep up the good work!!!!!!!!!


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