The Purple Box

This is a piece generated in the Writer’s Studio and a first in a series of poems and flash fiction that will be published on this blog throughout the year. A new year and new goals. Thanks for reading.

There was a time when things held meaning for me as if they kept me together like bone and muscle, and their presence pumped blood into my heart.

I had an art bin, actually, a makeup caboodle filled with watercolors, brushes, calligraphy pens, erasers, charcoals, and professional grade pencils as if this box of supplies rendered me an artist.

For a stretch of time in my life, there were few moments the bin, along with pads of Strathmore heavyweight paper, never left my side, an intimate companion.

Its marbled-purple plastic shell was hip for the times and inside hot pink accordion shelves with teeny compartments designed for cosmetics worked just as well for art supplies and a space underneath the perfect size for sable brushes wide, pointed, angled and flat.

I stole the bin from a discount store in The Valley.

If I come to think of it maybe I had absconded with the brushes from a local stationery store

that had little security but aisles of stuff to fill my bin with a personal supply of adventure in every shape and style.

My artistic endeavors were amateurish renderings of pop culture, record covers, motel floral patterns, silhouettes, calligraphy, dragons, lilies, the white rabbit, Alice, tweedledee and dum, and repeated versions of the Queen of Hearts.

Yet it wasn’t the output that mattered most rather that my stock of supplies was at the ready sharpened, cleaned and arranged by color.

We’d travel the length of California back and forth on I-5 or sometimes Hwy 99 if the mood suited us. I met him on the beach, in winter when the waves crashed from 6 feet into a froth of sandy gyrations.

And the purple bin and my canvas bag of journals were a constant in a time when my life centered around one man and our vagabond ways.

There was a time when dinner was a rest stop vending machine.

When we tucked ourselves to sleep in his little hatchback nestled between the rumble of big rig generators and long-haul drivers who could care less about a couple of near-do-well tweakers who had stayed up for days only to come down in a grassy hamlet with cold metal toilets and rough brown paper towels managed by the State of California and meant for the weary road-tripping family rambling their way to visit grandparents and amusement parks.

But here we were two lost souls, in a kind of tossed asunder love thinking up modern pickpocketing schemes to make a dime.

And so this purple bin of mine had been with me through so much, even tossed out of the car when we quarreled, even made it alive out of a storage unit lockout, even stayed with me as I finally left him behind.

I carried the purple bin with me for over a decade long after the nightmares that woke me up in a sweat diminished to only a few nights a year, each time more faded away. 

Now I was well and my being free from driving aimlessly across my home state from beaches to the high desert.

Yet this purple bin would appear as I moved around from a bay windowed apartment to a studio in the Mission District. I’d unpack it from the back shelf of a closet, only to stow it away again.

I hung onto it like a chest of misdeeds, thinking I’d bring it out for a night of crafting with newfound friends. But I never did brave it.

Until one day I moved into a two bedroom apartment and had to find space for baby blankets and a cradle and a toy chest filled with jumbo legos, and a tiny critter dollhouse, with itsy-bitsy kitchen supplies and even teeny baby carriages and a nursery for the wee critters and I had no more space for the bin.

I opened it one last time to inhale the waxy smell of pencils and dried out markers, stiffened brushes and worn down watercolors, a supply of the best art supplies money never bought.

And I didn’t need to hang on, my attachment had been replaced, it held no space for me to keep amongst the new life I was building.

I did pause when it crashed into the garbage and for a brief second, I wanted to jump in, rescue it, and scoop it up from the trash.

Thoughts flew through my head. Maybe I could use it to make art with my girl, or take up watercoloring, or class on figure drawing.

I could clean out the dust, maybe the supplies could be rectified and reused. Maybe I should pass it on to a friend, or school, or charity.

If I could forget what meant, it could gain a new identity, and not carry the dings of a lost youth.

Instead, I let it rest amongst the rotting edges of a smelly dumpster because things didn’t have a hold on me any longer.

One Hour Poetry: Mommy–The Grumpy Hag

This morning I remember,

tiny birds outside my window

with enormous chirps

that rang in my head

throughout the night

or perhaps at sunrise 

I really couldn’t say

and I was chosen 

by a nocturnal house-fly

whose only orbit was my head

as it buzzed in my ear

my arms were sent swatting

and then at some point 

in the midst of night

The Child crawls into bed

she starts in cuddling

and ends up kicking

and now my true desire

is to sleep all the day

o! how i yearn for coffee

that i had given up

and my husband 

who somehow slept 

through all the fun

graciously hands me a cup.

Flash Fiction: Seven Year Old’s Story of a Broken Heart Ignored

LA MIRADA, CALIFORINA- Teachers at La Granada Elementary, a local public school, said they experienced a mystifying event yesterday as the parents of a seven-year old student failed to show up for the school’s Annual Book Festival, missing an opportunity to listen to their daughter read an original story titled “The Broken-Hearted Girl.”

Each year at the end of April teachers between first and fifth grades choose exemplarily examples of fiction writing and then laminate and bind the stories to create original novels.

As part of the Annual Book Festival a child from each grade is specially selected to read their stories out loud at an assembly as the entire school listens. Parents are always invited and were reminded repeatedly in the school bulletin and received letters pinned to the jackets of their children.

The seven-year is a second grade student and has attended the school since kindergarten. According to the other students in her class, she often told her teacher that she would grow up to write stories about true love and magic. Her friends also described how she created make-believe plays following the adventures of an orphaned brother and sister whose mother spoke to them from the clouds.

Teachers at La Granada report that this young student is not very talented in much, aside from language and reading. In the past, when they mentioned this to her parents, they became furious and demanded the teachers force her to learn more math. One teacher conveyed that her parents were worried about her employment options, certain she wouldn’t amount to anything if she kept up writing stories.

The school has a history of perfect attendance by all parents, as this event highlights the achievements of elementary school literary arts. The principal related that she could not remember another time when both parents were absent from such a high-profile event at the school. According to her, the students work diligently to create their original works and decorate the auditorium with paper cut outs of their favorite books ranging from “Ramona the Pest” to “Stuart Little.”

One teacher commented, “This young girl is very brave but I could see her big brown eyes scan the audience every couple of seconds almost trying to will her parent’s arrival. I felt terrible as she stood alone and read her story about a girl with a broken heart, who found love in a land ruled by kids that lived on candy.”

Later in the day, the young girl took a picture holding her heart-shaped book, made of pink construction paper with broken jagged line through the center. In it she is standing alone, in patched jeans and frizzy hair, except for the very tall principal who has placed her hand on the child’s bony shoulder. Both of them are smiling in the picture, but in the opinion of this author the child’s eyes seem to have a questioningly, distant look, her thoughts lost deep within the pools of her moist brown eyes.

According to unnamed witnesses at the scene, the young novelist was escorted to the front office after the assembly was over. The school secretary admitted she gave the child a piece of hard candy as she waited for someone to pick her up.

Her mother arrived 15 minutes after the school had closed for the day. It is reported that the secretary walked with the seven-year old to the car and told her mother about her daughter’s special achievement.

At this time the school has not learned why their young student didn’t receive any support on such an important day. Her parents could not be reached for comment. But teachers at the school mentioned they hoped the young girl would continue writing. It is widely reported that making up stories is the one time this particular seven-year old breaks into an idyllic smile.

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