Monday, October 17, 2011

Joy Formidable

First work of flash fiction for the semester. Again I just wrote this so it's an extremely rough draft. Just an interesting fact, this piece was inspired by the name of a band.

Joy Formidable

The walk through the park held all the signs of spring. The birds called to one another. Tiny mammals scurried here and there. The sun shone bright and warm. Insects creeped and crawled amongst the vegetation. Flowers occupied every bit of space and even spilled over onto the cement path. I noted these things but took no delight in them.

I had given up all feelings of joy so that I wouldn’t feel sorrow. Let me clarify. I had given up all emotion so that I wouldn’t feel sorrow. Emotions are a package deal that I could no longer stomach. Instead, my life dealt in logic, reason, and whatever my senses received. I was numb to everything else.

The numbness had been a gradual process. It started after my sister announced that the cancer had returned. That night was the last that I felt extreme emotion. The ragged, rusty pain had impaled my stomach again and again and the fear had filled my lungs so I couldn’t breathe. Each day that followed lessened my pain one minute degree at a time. I suffered through my sister’s chemo treatments but the harder the side effects hit Emily, the stronger my shield became. When Emily spent the night sobbing in my arms because her husband had decided he wasn’t equipped to go through this again and so he abandoned her and their toddler, I knew my outrage and anger should have moved me to track his ass down and unleash all my anguish upon him but all I felt was pity for Emily, concern for my nephew, and disgust for Phillip. When we finally accepted that Emily’s treatment wasn’t working, I was pained but mostly I felt tired. By the time we gathered around Emily’s coffin, my emotions had ebbed to a slow drip that leaked from my eyes. It was a few days after the funeral when I realized that apathy had taken over completely. I had never made a conscious decision to pursue this numbness but once I realized it had swallowed me up, I snuggled deeper into the cotton cocoon.

My apathy forced me to distance myself from my love ones, especially my nephew. My emotions for him had always been profound. My last moment of pure happiness was felt in Benjamin’s presence. It was the summer before everything went to hell and Benjamin’s first trip to the beach. He had made a game of tag with the lapping water. I hadn’t been able to help myself from laughing every time Benjamin squealed as the water caught his ankles. When he ran to me for protection, I had felt as though my joy was out growing my body and would surely destroy me.

I knew it would destroy the numbness if I saw Benjamin again. I pretended to be busy every time my mom mentioned how much Benjamin missed me. I accepted that this made me just as shitty as his father.

Currently, I had run out of excuses so I approached the playground where my mom and Benjamin waited for me. I saw him before he saw me. He looked so much like his mother and, since Emily and I had always favored each other, I was proud that he looked like me. He let out a high pitched giggle as he flew down the slide and I knew I was in trouble. Then he turned my way. His smile broke me. As brilliant as his emotions were, my joy overshadow his. I laughed and wept as we raced toward each other. Then, as I caught him in arms, he called me “Mama” and my legs gave out.

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