Sunflower Skins

July 29, 2010

Experiment 15: Means of Survival

Filed under: experiments, prose — Tags: , , — Sunflower Skins @ 3:09 am

Incidentally, cork sales were up due to deuterium figures sliding, which meant that May’s cork-and-pipecleaner-reindeer keepsakes weren’t as abundant this year, nor as affordable. The rest of the Christmas stock remained the same, as it always did, Yes, I always tried to keep my prices reasonable, but now one of her most prized items, the one all the neighbourhood kids bought each year for their parents and grandparents alike, was not as available as it had been in the past; O they’re still just a beautiful—so cute! and lively! May shakes her head a bit, amends Lifelike! Their spindly legs and googly eyes—they sometimes look as though they’re about to leap off the table, Flying Santa’s sleigh! And then there’s the accompanying mini-sleighs, made with heavy paper and wire, dotted with glitter, ribbon for reins—May’s so proud of this, as she is with every season’s best seller: Spring’s handmade robin’s nest with tiny, bright eggs, and a hand-painted bird house for the pompom-and-pipecleaner Mother Robin; Summer’s sunhats, decorated with ribbons of all colours and false flowers; Fall’s dried-leaf, ironed tissue-paper placemats in orange, brown, and green. Often her seasonal stock was different each year—she’d been here a lot of years—but these four items were a constant. My customers depend on me! May worries a lot. Especially after Anthony, creepy that he is, told her that something about hydrogen levels drying up cork the way the sponges we paint with dry up if we don’t use them—I haven’t painted with sponges in a while, haven’t I? Or with potato shapes either.

May! What are you doing? You’re off in space again, y’old grandma, worrying about getting enough cork to make enough reindeer to please enough of the neighbourhood urchin. Doesn’t that seem a little, I dunno, stupid to you?”

Nurse Morrison leads away Anthony, and she turns her head around to smile blandly at May—who, startled and taken aback, twists some red pipecleaner around her finger and wonders if it’s possible to rehydrate cork.


July 18, 2010

Experiment 12: The Sickly Smile

Filed under: experiments, prose — Tags: , — Sunflower Skins @ 7:01 pm

I laugh [staged and practiced], I smile [perfectly]. I shoot witty one-liners [stolen from obscure movies and lyrics (but no one here will know that)]. A specially crafted monster of attention. What’s bred in bone [what has been taught] and [what is obeyed]. I am such a good girl. I tell the right stories with all the important, heavy pauses [dramatic exaggeration reels in the audience and pulls on their precious heart-strings (barf)]. Sometimes the lights make me sick and I’m led offset to rest up [I am such a diva and have learned to take advantage of hypochondriac and psychosomatic indulgences] meaning: [impressions and pressures, inside my head and all around me (infecting everyone else, but I think I might be the only one who realizes it)]. I lie on the couch with my head in my mother’s lap [her hand holding a cool cloth to my forehead]. My knees are arched up [and anybody who walked by could see up my dress (heavy, poofy, flowery dress), see my white tights with the little hearts stitched in them (hot and unnecessary)]. I don’t care, cannot care, about anything right now. The lights are everywhere [so bright], their glare is what I will remember most. For some reason my father walks into the greenroom and starts taking pictures of us on the couch [flashes of light], emphasizing the pounding [put a little girl in a box and play her a recording of a jack hammer (at deafening volumes)]. My mother shoos him away [with a hiss and a glare], asks what she can do for me [always asking what she can do]. I have another four or five hours to go. I must put on my face again. Stand up straight and ask sweet questions instead of complaining [I do complain a lot, I’ll admit (but I get away with it)], I even convince myself [so dramatic]. I go to the sink and I wash my face [cold water against hot skin]. My mother brushes my hair a bit [long, blonde, done up in braids and bows (triggers)]. We return to the set, the lights on me [the miraculous] and my mother [the brave]. The audience is on the edge of their seats [bleachers] because that’s the cue [look excited]. We tell the story [again], play the video [again], broadcast my history [bodily, emotionally, unconsciously (unintentionally wounding / creating a monster)]. And smile [perfectly] through all of it [even all these years later].

June 25, 2010

Sketches, Experiment 10: Eating Wisdom

Filed under: experiments, prose — Tags: , , , — Sunflower Skins @ 12:50 am


At the ripe age of thirteen, full of spunk and fever, I once pronounced a curse of death upon my grandmother for making me come home early from a party. She didn’t approve of “the young people drinking.” That seems so many years ago, but I can remember her expression exactly, her no-nonsense, I-can-dish-it-right-back remark:

“Honey, you’re dying as soon as you’re born. Get used to it.”

What strikes me now is not the idea that life is a struggle or that our journeys are ending as soon as they’re beginning or whatever. It’s her attitude in the last part. Become familiar with your mortality—and your chance for error and injury and dishonesty. Get to know and understand your transgressions. Accept them.

In my first high school science class that fall I learned that adaptability is one of the nine characteristics of living things. To adapt despite the weather, to turn wherever there’s sunlight.

Purple bruised wound. Accept the ability to adapt to this shitty world? Why would I want to live through this?

My grandmother’s curse has come true: she’s dead and underground by now. I am standing here in my kitchen, looking at a vase of flowers. There were a lot of people at the funeral, but the church still seemed empty. My cat jumps onto the table and sniffs at the irises and baby’s breath, debating the possibility of eating some.

You try so many ways to get around the chaos, but you keep coming back to the same realization, that once upon a time, the chaos that balanced you.

Eat your words, baby girl. Tell yourself it will be alright and continually adapt to the infinite changes. Never stop changing. And in that, be constant.

June 24, 2010

Sketches, Experiment 9: Violet

Filed under: experiments, prose — Tags: , , — Sunflower Skins @ 1:37 am


An impromptu thunderstorm; I didn’t think it would come until tomorrow. The day, so humid and sticky, bellyaching. Threats all afternoon. The air, heavy, my eyelids lowered.

Rain in patterns, on and off; bright and dark, back and forth like my mood.

Smoky eyes. My body languid, smooth. I’ve come down to the basement to take refuge from the heat. Lightening strikes somewhere, but the thunder, it’s still far off. I have yet to feel the heart of it.

My evening out, hair frizzed and untamed. Cannot conquer. But enticing nonetheless. I sit down on the cool floor. Amongst boxes of wonderful, forgotten nights when I had some company with whom to share this hot, hot heat.

I listen to the rain and study the shape of my leg, the curve of the shoe; all colours reflected in empty bottles of vodka. A flash of light and my body rumbles. Already my dress is wet with sweat, stuck to my skin. Imagine the lightening striking my skin. What colours it would make. Sounds I hear like shifting glass, and water on the streets, pounding, pounding.

What difference would it make if I were sober?

The crack of lightening and thunder and gold glitter in my eyes, feel violent, feel like a million fucking bulbs have blown apart the sky and at last brought peace to the swaying, happy house.

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