Monday, January 12, 2009

A Question, January 12, 2009

Prompt: What's hidden . . . and where?


Isabel said...

One day in January, when the ground had snow here and there, and the air was a winter cold, I found myself, because of work, in my home town. My brother’s family wasn’t home yet, so I went to the cemetery. It seemed like everyone in the world was inside having their day. It was around 3 in the afternoon.

My mother’s grave is next to a fence, and behind that is a school, a school that I attended in Kindergarten or first grade. Often when visiting her grave it would be to the accompaniment of children’s screeches on their after lunch recess. Today the world was silent, or so I thought.

So I got out of my car, the rental car of the week. I felt like an interloper, really. Like even the spirits hadn’t planned on my visit, or maybe they had. Maybe the spirits were having their day of theatrics. Perhaps they’d scarfed up some Shakespeare scripts, and were having a bit of a show of it. At any rate I began walking towards the grave. Because her grave is the last, and because the ground was wet with snow, I stopped at the tombstone before hers to rest on it, and I heard a high pitched squeal or squeak. Was it a mouse, was it a person? I had no earthly idea what I was listening to, but I heard it again, and again, and again. Then, running back and forth just behind the fence were two little fawns, and the bleating noise was coming from them!

At the instant that I realized that the fawns were crying, I heard a thunder of hooves from behind me, truly coming fast. I must have paused one instant, because when I flipped my head around the doe jerked into a stop, instantaneously, and just ten or so feet from me. I didn’t move. She didn’t move. And the babies, well, they kept up their running back and forth, and bleating.

The Divine Tragedy, the literary finesse, the poetic nuance of the moment did not elude me. I was ever so aware that I sat there, leaning on a stone, wanting my mother yet not being able to see her or reach her. And then these two fawns, they too knew where to look for their mother, they strongly sensed the direction, the hint of her presence, yet they also couldn’t see her or reach her. And the strong, silent mother behind me, her presence, her urgency, and her boldness to avalanche down the hill almost running into me with her singleness of mind over her two babies.

My Mom was hidden from me, their Mom was hidden from them, and they were stuck behind the fence hidden from their Mom, and none of us wanted to be hidden. I wondered how the drama would resolve, as I gently turned my head back to the fence and the fawns. The doe, too, turned to walk slowly back up the hill. Back and forth, running and bleating went the fawns, when suddenly - sticks and leaves and branches went flying and one fawn fairly flew over a weakened part of the fence. It burst forth with the leaves and twigs, and landed safely on the ground, and not too close to me to startle it. I thought, great! Now one can at least go be with his Mother. But that’s not what happened.

That fawn walked in front of me and past me down to where his sib could see him, and then turned around and went back to the place where he scaled the fence. Lo and behold, over the fence the other, smaller fawn came, with a lot less glamour and pizzazz, but she did make it. And the two of them started up the hill towards their waiting mother.

If this was fiction, I know you’d pack me up and tell me to apply for a job at Disneyworld. But it isn’t. I was the only one out there, so there’s no one to confirm the veracity of the events, but they had meaning for me.

Hidden doesn’t mean gone, it just means for a time can’t be viewed. Maybe gone isn’t really gone, it’s just hidden.

Michele said...

What’s Hidden and Where?

"Ned said to Nancy, 'I don’t think we should go any further. Let’s park here.'

Ned and Nancy got out of the blue roadster and picked their way through the tall trees toward the big white house – it looked abandoned."

And so, at age seven I began my fascination with mysteries – fiction and real life ones.

Often, I was sick in bed -- never too serious --when I was in the early grades. I think it was an opportunity to read, to make doll clothes for the then popular Vogue dolls, and to listen to soap operas in the afternoon on my white Philco radio with the gold mesh grill. “Our Gal Sunday “was my favorite.

The show always opened with the announcer asking, “Can an orphan girl from a little mining town in Colorado find happiness with a British Lord in London England.” I really wanted to know.

I also believe that my mother did not discourage this stay at home child. The hidden family secret was how lonely she was.

My father, the country doctor with charm and a fast car was a philanderer. I did not know this until I was in my teens and they had separated and divorced.

When I was about ten, I often sneaked around in the morning to look and see that my father’s bed was still made in his own room. He had not slept there.

Where was he? Did I ever ask her? She did not tell me anything then. He was not home very much. I saw him at breakfast and at dinner. He would race in for a 6 pm meal and then go back either for evening office hours or to make “house calls.”

They finally divorced when I was fourteen and he remarried 60 days after the divorce was finalized. It is a blur for me—that period, however, I do remember wondering who was this Mr. Goldstein who called fairly often. My mother would take the phone and pull the cord into the bathroom around the corner from the kitchen. I would stand there – overhearing some of what she said and wondering, then, what this was all about. What was being hidden from me? Where would I get the answers?
In the end I got them from a cousin, from a doctor friend of my father’s and from my mother as well. Their stories were all a bit different but they added up to the same biography of my dad.

In 2005 I wondered why someone would kill a nun in the Amazon of Brazil and I set out to find out why. The story led me to the manuscript I have written – it came out of a class I took in writing thrillers – mystery stories.

I lived with a mystery story for years – intuitively knowing I would someday find out what it was. Maybe that family mystery fixed a little rut in my brain – I still read mysteries and I still ask a lot of questions.

Carol Henderson said...

"Hidden doesn’t mean gone, it just means for a time can’t be viewed. Maybe gone isn’t really gone, it’s just hidden."

I love this ending. After showing the reader the scene and the feelings of it, we get this summary.

Carol Henderson said...

Great period details--Michele, the white Philco radio, the opening lines of the soap. Piecing together the biography of a mysterious parent. Great stuff here.

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