Friday, February 10, 2012

Bathroom Monologue: Making Her

It’s too early. Go back to sleep.

Stand up. Come on, stand up.

Walk to Mommy.

You’re too old for diapers. Big girls use the potty.

Say, “Thank you.”

It’s 8:00. Time to go to this school.

Wear these skirts. They’re just like Mommy’s.

Who wears that anymore? Micros are in.

Didn’t I tell you to wear your new skirts? Why can’t you be grateful?

You dress like an old woman. What are you, a conformist?

Lighten up.

Stand up for yourself.

Do you really want to graduate a virgin?

Turn your essays in Friday.

Fold this laundry.

Love this man.

A part-time job never hurt anybody. Just ‘till my unemployment kicks in.

Can you pick up beer?

Can’t you get out of bed without making so much noise?

Is there anything that doesn’t make you nauseous?

Fill out these. Sign here.

It’s not like I asked for a kid. Maybe in a few years, but not now, right?

Make sure you take these twice a day.

Where are you going?

Breathe like this.

Why don’t you return my calls?

Why don’t you return your mother’s calls? She’s scared witless for you.

Push.

Would you like to hold him?

Are you alright, ma’am? I was asking if you’d like to hold him.

“It’s a boy?”

Yes. Would you like to hold him? I swear, he’s all cleaned up.

“…Yes, I think I would.”

Some people are waiting outside. Should I let them in?

“No. Let them wait a while longer. I have some stuff to figure out.”

40 comments:

  1. Had to read through twice, quite subtle in some p[aces, but effective. A good impression on the circle of life.

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    1. I definitely rested on subtlety at points. Were there any specific places that tripped you up?

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  2. This pushed so many of my buttons. Hard. Thank you, I think. Beautifully written, but disturbing nonetheless.

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    1. Do you feel at liberty to say what buttons this pushed? I'll understand if they're too private, but I had to ask.

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    2. I think Blogger just ate my response. You asked what buttons you leant on.
      The emotional blackmail/control issues as she was growing up (experienced this) and the strong hints at psychological abuse (domestic violence) in her young adult life. Yes there is hope, but what a journey.

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  3. Some of those hit pretty hard. I hope she takes enough time to figure out how to break the cycle.

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    1. Do you feel comfortable saying which ones hit hard? Like with Elephant, I can imagine them being too private to want to say publicly, but I had to ask.

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    2. Like Elephant it was the control issues I grew up with. And I had that moment after giving birth where I just wanted to be alone with my daughter and figure things out. Being responsible for another pushed me to make changes in my life, so the closing line hit home.

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  4. These things made her, but what did they make her?

    Another thought-provoking piece from you.

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    1. A wholly worthwhile question. Did the ending lead you to any inclinations on that?

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    2. With the ending I'm inclined to think she has resolved to try to bring her child up better than she was brought up.

      When I read these lines:
      "Fill out these. Sign here.
      It’s not like I asked for a kid. Maybe in a few years, but not now, right?"

      I thought she was planning an abortion.

      When I read these lines:
      "Would you like to hold him?
      Are you alright, ma’am? I was asking if you’d like to hold him."

      I thought she was planning to give the baby up for adoption.

      And if she had had a daughter instead of a son I would think the whole piece was about the baby, not the mother.

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  5. A whole world of life going on in these lines John. Painful, sad, poignant and honest.
    Excellent work!

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    1. Thank you for the kind words, Tom. If it must be painful and sad, then I'm glad it's my shortest #fridayflash in a while.

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  6. I liked this. I was worried for a bit that you were going to run through her life from birth to death which would have been ok (but only ok). The end made the whole piece much fresher for me.

    It's funny how readers react. I thought it was dark but ended in on a hopeful note. Very different again from the last few weeks but really effective.

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    1. Doing the entire lifespan would have likely run into trite territory, which I was afraid to broach in this one. I don't want to tell people how to react to the end of this one, but I think "hopeful" is quite viable. Ironically, it would have been a much more explicit ending, but I decided not to break from the gimmick to do so.

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  7. Hopefully she'll take the little boy, leave, and make a new life for them somewhere else. Quite sad but like Peter, I saw a lot of hope in that ending.

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  8. I like Tim's comment. The sparseness of this really works.

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    1. Were there any spots where the sparseness particularly worked for you?

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  9. Well done, John. I can feel the strength in her to resist the bad environment she was raised in.

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    1. Did you read it as an unusually bad environment?

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  10. Brings to mind the many discussions between nature and nurture, and how many of our "choices" as adults are actually dictated by our own histories. I agree with those who thought that it ended on a hopeful note - and that she will, indeed, figure things out.

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    1. I promise you that she will figure at least a few things out. The line that inspired this, and ironically had to be cut because of the narrative style, was, "She was in charge of a life now."

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  11. I like your choice of form for this flash. Part poem, part prose. It works well to narrate the stages of her life and to bring the story full circle. Yes, there's pessimism, but you suggest hope. I'm glad you left it at just a suggestion: she could go either way.

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    1. Which way do you think she'll go, Justin? And congratulations on getting the WP/Blogger hop to work. Your name links to the Scribbler blog.

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  12. A very noir poem/flash, good sir. I like how you go straight to the important moments/comments that made her. Well done:)

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    1. What gave you the Noir vibe, if I may ask?

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  13. Not sure if this is a poem or prose fiction, but I like. Maybe a prose poem. LOL The ending is pretty nice. I think she will figure out everything. Don't think she espically needs to see them right than.

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    1. Prose Poetry is a recognized medium, though I wasn't necessarily thinking of it when I wrote this.

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  14. I, too, felt hopeful by the end of this piece. I think because you had her speak at the last, instead of just letting us read what she was listening to, and that gave me the feeling that she was taking charge. Maybe not completely knowing what she was going to do, but taking those first steps.

    I've said it before but it's worth repeating, I thoroughly enjoy how you craft your tales.

    Excellent piece.

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  15. Interesting depiction of growing up and the demands made on one. I had to read it twice to get it. I think I got it. I hope she takes her off spring and starts afresh her way.

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  16. I enjoyed how this transitions from her parents view to others that may or may not be good role models. You and this perfectly with a touch of humor and a wry sense of hope.

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  17. "Was he happy? Was he free? The question is absurd. If anything had been wrong, we certainly would have heard."

    I'm too lazy to look up where those lines are from, but they came to mind. That, and XTC's Making Plans for Nigel. And yes, also my own growing up.

    I thought it was an especially deft touch that "Stand up for yourself" was thrown in there with the built-in irony that the statement is in imperative tense. Overall the piece is a great illustration of what's wrong with traditional roles and what's good about personhood. It's interesting that she asserts her personhood when she gains that little bit of power from attaining the role of mother -- but then directs it away from the baby towards the family, instead of towards the baby in the traditional way.

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  18. Yeah, I'm with Katherine there: smooshed down by The Thumb and then The Thumb tells you to stand up for yourself… after you've been slapped, screamed at, or grounded for doing just that in the past? Yeah.

    But like the others, I think this ended on a hopeful note. A life-changing event can change your life in more than one way, after all.

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  19. This reminds me so much of my wife and her relationship with her mother. She doesn't let her mother push her around anymore, but it doesn't stop the old dragon from trying.
    In a way, her overbearing ways have made my wife a better person. She is determined to be a better mother than hers was / is.
    Also, you could have included the line "if I'm paying $15 a head for this wedding, I decide who gets invited!"

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  20. Powerful writing John. It seems like the poor girl was pushed in the direction everyone else wanted her to go in, until the end where she starts making her own decisions, and hopefully taking control of her life.

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  21. Great writing as always John. Really interesting way to tell this story. Literally had to read between the lines! I too am rooting for a hopeful ending!

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  22. I like the way this is a story, but it isn't really a story. It's pretty cool that you can tell a tale with nothing but a series of questions and statements.

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  23. Do this, do this, do that, do it now – a life, so many lives, exactly like this. I can't say what it's like to be a man but I do know much of a woman's life is like this, run by others. Becoming a mother gives you some relief from being "run," but those brief moments last for only a heartbeat of time. Then everyone and their dog tells you how that baby should be raised.

    Well done, John.

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  24. Big life moments, with a big life-changing decision made at the end, I feel. Great stuff.

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