Justify

By Vita Forest

IMG_0737[1]

I am right and they are wrong.  Yes her, and them, and those others too.  Wrong.  With the letters after their names.  Wrong.  With their heaving bank accounts.  Wrong. Just plain wrong.

I ignore.  I obstruct.  I cast red herrings into the air like confetti.  If I do it long enough, they will bury and obscure.  Eating up time.

I let her lead it.  The investigations.  The options.  I am at best lukewarm, at worst, indignant.

I bring out my arsenal.  The alternative so ridiculous, so offensive, it will be rejected.

I wait.

I am good at this.  I learned this as a child.  Do something so badly, so wastefully that others throw up their hands and give up on me.  They finish the irritating chores that should have been mine to complete.  I smile smugly as they exhaust themselves.  If I leave it long enough, someone else will step in, someone else will pick up the pieces, someone else will pay.

Works for me.

Bad workmanship brings its own rewards.

I’m worth it.  I deserve it.  I have my own rules.  I am important. I need more.  That is just how it is.

She needs so little.  She has got used to not having much.  It would not hurt.  It would hurt me.  I am worth it.  I deserve it.

I will use the language of a debate and the structure of an argument.  I will get my way. There are reasons and I will list them in righteous indignation.  I will puff myself up until I am red in the face, blood juddering through my temples.  I will thrust my finger back and forth.  Dotting the “i”s, punctuating my points, underlining the main ideas with a thick black texta.  I am right, that is all there is to it.  If I shout loud enough, you can’t hear anyone else.

The reasons are these…

After careful consideration…

I am being fair and reasonable…

It would be petty to suggest otherwise…

I didn’t have it and it never did me any harm.

Look at me!  How well I turned out!

I will catastrophize.  I will weave a story of my own making from out of the air.  One that serves my purpose.  I am completely within my rights…  She is completely unreasonable.  I will pontificate with my friends, discuss it over a beer or three.  Spittle flying from my mouth as my finger swings through the air.  Stabbing.  Righteous.

I am right and that is all there is to it.  It is unreasonable to expect more.  It would not be convenient for me.

If it’s so important, someone else will step in.

What could it possibly cost me?

 

L is for… Love

By Vita Forest

IMG_4079[1]

Stella wants to scream.  She just cannot believe it.  Yet it is absolutely no surprise.  It could have been predicted.  Anyone else could have predicted it.  But she was in love.  She would always give him the benefit of the doubt.

She felt ashamed.  And blindingly angry.  Enraged.  Absolutely.  Brimming.  With.  RAGE.

She stalks up and down the room.  This used to be her sanctuary.  This used to be her home.  She had made it their home.  She had put her work aside, her ambition, to make this their home.  Doing all the mundane things that needed to be done so he could concentrate.  What a fool she had been!

She had let her in.  Stella had let her in.  Stella grabs a cushion from the sofa and screams into it, pressing her face into it, smothering herself.

But not enough.  She feels a small hand on her leg.

“Mummy?”

Stella breathes into the cushion one more time, then puts on her happy face.

Must not frighten the children.  Must calm down.

“Sweetheart.”

She picks up the small soft creature and hugs him to her.

“Can I have a drink?”

“Of course.”

She dances him over to the fridge and pulls out the bottle of milk.  She swings over to the shelf and finds his favourite blue cup with the kitten on it.  She pours him some milk.  He kicks her gently and slides down to the floor, reaching up for the milk and trotting away with it.  She leans on the counter and remembers.

“I need to focus, can you take the children out?”

Of course.

“I have to go to this silly show, publicity you know.  You don’t need to come.  It will be late.”

Of course.

What a fool she was.  What an idiot!  She had enabled him to pursue this new, shiny thing.  This unattached, adoring person who was never tired, never drab, never anything but alluring.

And he had gone out again now.  Right after he had told her.  He would give her some space, he said.  She rushes to the sofa and beats and beats and beats it.  And now it was the witching hour.  Bath time, dinner time.  Time for tears.  But not hers.

Stella grabs her phone and rings him.

“Come home, I need to go out.”

She hangs up.

Marlena… no Sophie.  No they would be busy too.  No, she needs to be alone.  She needs to think.  He better get here soon, he at least ought to show her that courtesy.  What was he doing?  Untangling himself from her grip?  Toasting his bravery?

Stella wants to scream, but instead she marches to the bedroom.  Under the bed, her pencils, her sketchbook.  She pulls them out.  She will draw it all out like she used to.  She will exorcise all these emotions through her fingers.  She will drive away and find a table somewhere, anywhere and draw.

Stella wants to scream but instead she will scribble.  Instead she will do something she had given up.  Something there was no time for anymore.

He loves me, he loves me not…

By Vita Forest

This week I am trying something new.  I’m participating in a blogging event for The Creativity Carnival.  Shafali provides one of her artworks as a cue and bloggers respond however they like.  Here is this week’s artwork and here is a short piece of fiction in response.  Hope you enjoy…

Creativity Carnival: Handcuffs

Handcuffs - A pen and ink drawing for the Creativity Carnival Edition 6.

See, he does love her.  He brought her roses.  Who needs words when the florist is happy, he is happy, her friends are happy?

“Oh!” they coo, “You two are so sweet!”

He brandishes them in front of her like a dare.  A dozen red roses wrapped in the softest blue tissue paper.  Her friends perch on bar stools and sip cold dry wine that fogs the glasses that cradle it.  And praise him.

While she can only think, “Now I have to find a vase…”

He knew they would be there.  He knew they would forgive him for her.  But perhaps forgive is too strong a word.

Adjust.

Adjust to the new normal.  Because, come on, – what does she really have to complain about?

Beautiful home.  The best restaurants.  The best holidays.  Trips to the snow, the reef, the opera.  Who wouldn’t want it?

She folds herself into ever more complicated shapes.  She twists her head around so that she can look the other way.  She makes herself smaller and smaller, breaking the bones in her toes so she can fit inside this tiny jeweled box.  She stops breathing to take up less room.  She lets go of her own hand and casts herself adrift.  What if?  She forgives.  She cries alone.  She does not tell anyone.

A shriek of raucous laughter brings her back.  He leans over casually and refills the glasses, adding just the right anecdote, just the right amount of fizz.

She slides a stalk from the bunch and peers into the severed end, into the tiny circle of its inner core.  It’s edged with green, golden inside.  Golden.

“What?!”

Her friends turn in astonishment.  Shock on their faces.  His face is impassive but deadly.  She knows that look.  They watch as she clenches the stalk tighter and tighter.  White knuckle grip.  Her own blood dripping onto the floor.

Why the Wild Things Are

By Vita Forest

Wild Thing

Wild Thing

My class has just finished examining Where the Wild Things Are by Maurice Sendak.  Although it’s a short book of not many words, it is a book of big ideas which took us many sessions to explore.  The plot could be described as being about a mischievous boy called Max, who after being sent to his room in disgrace by his mother, has an adventure, then decides to return home.  But of course, there is much more to it than that.

We started by doing a class brainstorm on a few key words.  Before the children even knew which book they were going to read, they thought about “Wolves” (nocturnal, wild, predators, teeth), “Mothers” (loving, kind, cuddles, but also bossy, mean, strict) and “Night” (dark, moon, scary, sleep, dreams).  You can see how interesting this is already.

We noticed how the Wild Things were made up of parts of many creatures.  Max himself is part human, part wolf.  We made our own Wild Things by folding paper into three sections and having a different person draw the head, the body and the legs.  These were given interesting names like Hipp-octo-snake or Echid-fish-bug.

We thought about how our eyes moved across the pages, noticing the “vectors” (six year olds are experts at this).  They traced their fingers across the pictures and drew invisible lines from the Wild Things eyes across to Max (there was only one of him, but he had their attention!)

We examined each picture and each word and noticed many strange and unusual things.

  • The pictures went from being small neatly contained images, to ones that devoured entire pages or two, with no white space left and no words at all…
  • A crowd of large monstrous Wild Things were frightened by a small solitary child and made him their king…
  • It became important to notice if Max’s eyes were open or shut.  What was happening when his eyes were closed?
  • There were no pictures of the mother…
  • Some of the small snippets of dialogue were repeated by different characters…

Books like this one fill a primal need.  In the real world, children are small helpless beings, forever at the mercy of giant grown-ups who make the rules and control every aspect of their lives.  There is something thrilling about a story in which the child protagonist is somehow able to subvert the normal way of the world, and become an all-powerful being, exerting absolute control over all the other characters and the environment.  Perhaps this is why this story remains so potent and so loved despite being over sixty years old.  (In a similar vein, my class has enjoyed Roald Dahl’s Matilda).

Perhaps there is also something really compelling about an angry young boy finding a means within himself to let go of some of his rage.  When we looked at the last image of Max returning to his room and finding his supper, I asked why they thought he was shown with his wolf hood pushed away from his face.  One of my own complex little people put up his hand.

“It’s because he isn’t angry anymore,” he informed the class.

Books are important.