Haunting Memories of Life

Waking up in with a mouthful of mulch and blood wasn’t the way Lois had thought her girl scout picnic would end. She glanced up at the slide, remembering giggling and playing for the first time as if she weren’t the weirdo in her neighborhood. It had been to much to believe that the other girls had finally accepted her after three years.

The blood slipped out of her chin, down her neck and soiled the uniform blouse that she had been taught would make her part of a group of friends. No, dirty hands moving up to hold her chin, which suddenly and painfully had made her aware of what had happened. No, she should have known better. She should have sat on the sidelines and watched the other girls play.

“Push her, push her!” The laughter of the girls when she had fallen the eight feet to the ground. She remembered that now, just as she remembered them calling her a baby and telling her she was faking when she hadn’t gotten up. She didn’t remember anything else until the taste of blood and mulch had woken her.

If she could find someone…Lois staggered away toward the picnic shelter where dinner was supposed to happen. It was empty except for her mother and father. “Where have you been? Mrs. Johnson called us, she said you had disappeared.” Lois took her hands away from her chin and passed out.

“Grandma, wake up, wake up. You’re dreaming again.”

“Damn it.”

Her eyes closed heavily again. Sleep returned but so did the dreams. Four months after her chin had been broken and she had been accused of lying about being pushed, even her parents had not believed her, applying a bandage and ignoring her pain. She’d kept her mouth shut, and didn’t argue. There was no sense to it.

Her birthday, she remembered. It had been her birthday. All of the girl scouts had been invited. She had worn a pretty dress, handmade by her mother. She loathed it. The other girls had heckled her since second grade. “You’re poor. Haha, your parents can’t even afford to buy you decent clothes. You’re poor.” The party went better than she had expected. No one came.

Her parents were furious, starting to believe that the scouts weren’t as scoutlike as they should have been.

“Grandma, wake up. You’re crying.”

She didn’t open her eyes. There was high school. The winter king and queen were to be crowned and her name had appeared on the ballot. She had even made it to the final round, not realizing that it was a huge joke. Another put down from a crowd of hateful girls and their all to compliant boyfriends. She should have known better.

She rolled onto her side. Another spook of the past appearing before her. Then another and another. She was a fool. How did she manage to keep believing that she would some day find a place to fit in and be welcome? It would be better if she died. The memories were too much for her. She was aware of tears, and voices.

“Come on, Grammy dear, keep breathing. The ambulance is on the way.”

“Grandma, don’t leave us. We need you.”

Her last thought was, “No, you don’t.”



Unlike most, my nemesis is not an evil company or disease that takes your life and turns it upside down. No, my nemesis is my son, my beautiful golden son. He was a good boy as a toddler, picking up his toys and going to bed in the evenings when I declared it was bedtime for him. He would snuggle under his blanket with his stuffed bear and close his eyes tightly declaring he was already asleep. He ate everything on his plate, new foods included. He was perfect.

That perfection led to school, where he knew everything without being told. That led to not doing the daily work the teacher’s required. That led to failure on his report card, although all of his tests were As. I taught youngsters in the fifth grade and watched over them like a mother hen. No one watched over my son’s work, although I tried.

I caught him in the garage when he was in high school building a time machine. That’s what he called it anyway. When confronted about why he was building a time machine, he did respond to me.

“I’m making it just in case I need to go back in time and correct my mistakes.”

He worked on the machine to the exclusion of every thing else. He stopped eating, going to school, and doing his own laundry. His face grew gaunt. The luster fell out of his golden hair, turning it to a dish water blond. But his eyes grew in excitement with every new turn of his project. I was called to the school for conferences, but I went to seek answers. They told me that I would be jailed if I couldn’t get him to school on time. The conversation was not pleasant.

“Son, you have to go back to school. They are threatening me with jail time.”

“Mom, I’m so close to finishing this. I’ll make it right soon, I promise.”

I was arrested a week later. The judge sentenced me to two weeks in county jail with a fine of $25,000.00. When I told him I had no way of paying the fine, he said I could stay in jail until I came up with the money. Of course, I appealed his decision. I was allowed to go home until the jury trial.

“Son, I have to pay $25,000 now. Why won’t you go to school? They are incarcerating me!”

“Mom, I’m almost done.”

The morning of the retrial, I was fidgeting and worried. I had no lawyer, none would touch the case.

“Keep your kid in line and you won’t need a lawyer,” was the response I had been given.

We rose as the judge and jury came into the courtroom.

There was a door slammed shut as a handsome blond man came in with a pile of paperwork. He stepped into the bar and presented himself as my attorney. After being acknowledged, he waited for his turn to speak.

“Your honor, this woman has been a good parent and there has been a gross injustice here in accusing her of any of these charges. I have here the school records of her son, from elementary school through high school. The record keeping has been atrocious. I would like to present these records to show her son’s consistent attendance in school. The school records had him enrolled in one set of courses when he had been assigned to a completely different set.”

I couldn’t even speak. I was confused. I was also exonerated.

At the trials end, he gathered his materials, winked at me and left. I went home, the garage was empty but my son was sitting on the step with a cup of tea for me.

“I finished it, mom.”

I am Ann

I am Ann, small daughter of a common man
named for a small Ann of a former fiancee,
While my noble mother looked on at the small bundle
My father had delivered. She smiled and then napped.
My father whispered magic words for my ears,
I was a musician like he was
I was a dreamer and star gazer.
I was his magic, his daughter who loved
Who followed squirrels, flowers, people.

I am also Hiss, I am his mother, his wife, his sister
His niece, his daughter, his granddaughter,
I was the one who filled in for the unnamed
Who had friends but lost them when the sky became blue
When the sun glowed red.
I am Hiss when you look for the world that is hidden
In games and on chess boards.