Thursday, May 27, 2010

Run As Fast As You Can

As fast as you can, run. Feet pounding against hard dry earth, then the sound of brittle dry grass and wild oats and wheat folding under foot. A frantic rustling sound, like the tearing of sheets of paper, run. The trees conspiring to make shade in a place accustomed to the tortures of the sun…slender young things, rebels in a desert. The white church with its friendly face and the weirdness tucked tight within, worshipers down on their hands and knees, new initiates stripped to their undergarments to be absolved of sin before their brethren’s eyes. Stripped of sin, of the mortal sin all begun with a bite into a crisp apple, sin originating from a resounding “crunch". See it in the jagged yellow action bubble.
Suddenly Eve beholds her nakedness. So now they take off their clothes in the basement of the church. But you don’t have to, you don’t have to go there. You can run. Run away from your parents and your teachers and the preacher and the neighbors. You can get away with strong young legs, but it’s not the strength of the body that they have restricted. It is the strength of the will. You are their slave. A sad host for their disease.
The trailers, the custom homes sprawled like mansions in a no man’s land, rest side by side, crowning hills and nestling within valleys. The woman with the high heels is coming, asking again if we’ll come help her with some work at her house. Smart gray knee length skirt and jacket, red lipstick, mahogany locks shining in the sun.
Everything looks just right. A fine outstanding citizen. We go, because we can no longer refuse and be considered polite, good neighbors, fine young people. Later, we can’t remember what happened at her house. We’re not even sure that we went.
Run, as fast as you can, run. The face of the house white as the church, charming green trim and the stairway around back that leads to another basement…
Smooth sun tanned arms and legs and freckled cheeks, walking through the fields, resting under the little trees. Scent of hot asphalt when we cross the only paved street in town for ice cream or magazines and bubble gum. Clouds of dust stirred up by our discolored sneakers as we race home along the dirt roads. Bigger clouds made by the tires of pick up trucks rattling along.
When we were younger we waved. Now sometimes we hear them coming and dive into the seas of tall grass. A refuge from all of their expectations. Lady bugs crawling up long stalks and other insects we haven’t named, pale green and yellow or black and red, also down here hiding.
The woman with the high heels smiling at us again in front of the white church. Won’t we come again? She always asks when others are present, ashen adults who admire her color, her charm. If we refuse they will frown at us. We are encouraged to go.
We scream silently, hearts thundering, adrenaline rushing. Not even we know why, but we feel it from head to toe, a throbbing urge to run, as fast as we can. But with their eyes on us we can’t. We can only submit and walk back to her house, to the place we can only half remember. Back to the green sofa and tumblers of ice tea, the part we’re allowed to remember, the part that comes before the concrete steps and the cool darkness of the basement.
It comes bubbling up only in flashes, half remembered scenes that step beyond reason. Discordant images quickly pushed back into the depths, too incongruent with the shiny platitude of the surface. It is too late to act on the impulse to flee, but we do it anyway, with our minds, because it is too late for our bodies. As fast as you can, run, skimming over the top like flat stones over a pond’s mirror finish.

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