The Day I Almost Killed My Brother

High School was wretched. I had very few friends. I was the girl in the hallway whose books were knocked from her hands. I shudder when I drive past my old school, and intend to burn any notice I receive for a Class Reunion. One of the bright spots in my HS years, was that I rarely rode the bus. God blessed me with a beautiful junker of a car. It passed from my sister to me, and made my days a bit easier. When my brother reached the same campus as me, he received the added benefit of this, since he then rode with me to school. He was a bookworm, a proclivity I completely understand, and used the precious half hour ride to add book after book to his pile of conquests.

Here is where my story really begins.

I was lonely after long days of loneliness (redundant explanation perhaps but true) and longed to engage in uplifting conversation. My brother is three years younger than me, and has always been a precocious fellow. I would hop into the car, buckle up, and promptly begin to chatter. His occasional grunts deceived me into thinking I was listened to, and I blathered on, wagging my chin like an idiot. The day I finally realized he wasn’t listening, I was a little miffed. I dropped back into silence and watched the tedious scenery roll by my windows. He barely noticed the difference and continued to contentedly turn pages.

We left school at the same time. We went home the same route. September to June. Twice a day. The scenery got boring, until one element of the view caught my eye and gave me a source of entertainment.

A boy, probably a year or two younger than me, got off his school bus at the corner and walked down the street to his house. He had a mop of curly brown hair, often wore a red flannel shirt, and nodded his head rhythmically up and down as he walked. I noticed it once. I noticed it twice. I started looking for headphones, or some sign that he heard something I didn’t. Apparently not, it must have been a tick. I’m not judging. My eyes twitch violently when I eat something sour.

He gave me weeks of silent analysis and mental study. Why nod? How nod? Was he a drummer? Was he humming too? What was his name? Which house was his? On and on and on… None of this madness would have continued if my brother had spared me those thirty minutes for conversation! None! Especially not what happened next…

I have a strange sense of humor. Few people understand it. Sometimes I’m not sure I understand it myself. But I began to concoct stories about this boy and tell them to my might-as-well-have-been-deaf brother.

The boy’s name was Josh. He and I were in love. We wrote beautiful letters to one another. He was a musician and a poet. We shared our first kiss in yonder field. We carved our initials in the knotted bark of that tree. Ah! Rapture! Bliss! The unparalleled heavenly taste of his lips against mine! I told my brother a new story about this boy every day for about a week. All went unheard. One day I went a step too far.

We came upon the turn. There was his bus. It stopped. He stepped down and began his nod accompanied stroll down the street.

“There he is Michael,” I sighed. “Look at those gorgeous locks. Tonight I shall run my fingers through them.” I looked at my brother. Who knows where he was. I tapped my fingers on the steering wheel. “You don’t believe I know him do you?” Silence. “I do and today I’ll prove it to you! Today I will wave at my beloved and he will blow me a kiss, then you will know all I speak to you is true!”

I took the turn slowly, positioned myself, one hand on the wheel, one lifted to wave at my unsuspecting victim. I locked my eyes on him, slowed to a crawl, and waved vigorously, my face plastered with feigned rapture. He looked up at me. His eyes widened in surprise. My brother screamed.

“RACHEL!!!!!!!!!”

This was neither a scream of affirmation, nor of wonderment that all my stories were true. No. It was a scream of utter terror.

If you don’t believe in God, if you don’t believe in miracles, you are about to hear a tale of mine.

My brother looked up from his book. He NEVER looked up from his book. That day he did, just in time to warn me that I was gliding on a direct course for a tree on the side of the road. Apparently the perpetual diagonal line I walk on is a defect in my brain. The one handed grasp on my wheel was gently gliding us off the road, unbeknownst to me.

I screamed, swerved, and slammed on my breaks. My brother and I sat for a moment or two in silence, learning once again how to properly breathe.

“What the heck were you doing?” Michael asked.

I shook my head in silence. I removed my foot from the break and we rolled on towards home. I glanced in my review mirror. The boy stood still in the middle of the road, his head gently nodding.

I never saw him again, but I often think of him. I wonder if he ever thinks of me. The girl that nearly ran into a tree just to look in his eyes and wave her hand at him.

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Nighttime Revels

It was about 2 a.m. That’s my standard wake-up-in-the-middle-of-the-night time. I usually have to pee and spend about twenty minutes trying to ignore the urge so I can get back to sleep. It obviously doesn’t work and I end up getting up.

I hung my feet over the side until they reached the carpet and slowly sat erect. My head was still fuzzy and sleep filled. My husband was still fuzzy and sleep filled (actually he just snored on, unaware of my movement).  I stepped out into the hallway, which was oddly darker than usual.  I often leave a light on somewhere so that I don’t sustain serious injury during my nighttime revels. Apparently I hadn’t. I had my iPhone in my hand, so I tapped the screen for a little light as I tottered towards the bathroom. I heard something move. I stopped. All my senses were immediately alert and my brain clear from the fog of sleep.

“Timmy?” I murmured. He’s a heavy sleeper, so my soft frightened whimper would by no means rouse him. I didn’t really want to wake him. He works hard and deserves his rest. It was nothing anyway. Just the wind…right?

I took another step towards the bathroom. I peeked my head inside. My trembling hand reached for the light switch. The shades clattered. Shook. I jumped back towards the bedroom.

“Timmy!” I called. This time I was not muttering half hearted calls for his assistance. “Timmy get up there is something in the bathroom.”

Snort. Grumble. Mutter. Stir. “Whhaaat?” His response made it clear he was not awake. We sometimes have whole conversations while he is still in a state of half consciousness. I needed him awake now.

“Timmy get up!” I pleaded. “There is something in the bathroom and it’s freaking me out!”

Stir. Mutter. Groan. He sat up though, and his eyes were open. My valiant protector was awake. I swallowed and ventured towards the bathroom again. His words glided to me from behind, through a yawn, “What’s wrong babe?”

My heart beat in my throat. I flicked on my iPhone’s flashlight. Blue tinted light flooded the dark hallway. I stepped forward and directed the stream at the bathroom window.

Something leapt from behind the shade. It was about the size of a DVD case, unfortunately this DVD case had at least four more legs than you usually find attached to the average plastic container. I say at least four because it looked like it could have had eight, or was that a tail trailing behind it? It hit the toilet lid with a sickening thud and dropped to the floor, then flew across the tile, onto the hallway carpet, towards my feet, like it was pursued by Wile E. Coyote.

I screamed. I state the fact simply, but words would fail me to describe the horror and panic that billowed through my veins. I stumbled back towards my bedroom and the black thing surged on to take refuge in my husband’s “office” which is really no more than the family dump heap for things that don’t have a home.

“What’s happening?” and the like erupted from the bed behind me in the timbre of my husband’s voice. I barely had time to recover from my panic, and consider the horrors of seeking out the ghastly thing in that room-of-requirement/room-of-hidden-things-esque mess when I sat up in bed.

“Rachel are you okay?” My husband’s arms were wrapped around me. I was breathing hard and I was frightened and I was…still in bed?

“It was just a dream,” he murmured. His warm hands pulled my trembling form down beside him. He pressed his lips to my forehead and tucked me in.

He was asleep again, almost instantaneously. He’s actually calmed me from nightmares in his sleep. I have them so frequently that it became a reflex for him after about 3 months of marriage. I laid in bed, eyes wide open unable to sleep. You see…I had a problem…

I had to pee…and it was dark in the hallway…

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What Good is a Roll without Butter?

My mother’s despaired moan came from the backseat. “They forgot the butter for my roll.”

“No?” my grandmother gasped in horror.

“Yes!” She dropped it back into the paper bag from which it came. “What good is a roll without butter?” she mumbled.

I was driving. There was a lovely lilting rhythm to my mother’s words. My brain quickly composed a little ditty. I silently willed it to stay in my sieve-like brain until we made our next stop, at which point, I pulled out my handy-dandy-notebook and wrote the captured words out before they broke free like stallions into the wild frontiers of forgotten memories. (The wild, fresh smell of the grass and allurement of so many companions must be the draw.)

What good is a roll without butter,
Or marmalade on it to smother?
It’s just useless bread,
And better off dead.
What good is a roll without butter?

I recited my creation to my mother. She nodded vigorously. “You tell them!” she concurred.
Next step in the process, text my goofy creation to some appreciative party. This is usually one of two people, my husband, who was currently working and would be unable to chuckle for hours, or my brother-in-law, who usually responds within an hour on the average day.

My brother-in-law and I have an odd relationship. He is quickly becoming my closest friend. I can’t quite put a finger on when this started, it probably had something to do with our mutual obsession with literature, but we text nearly every day and I often find myself literally laughing out loud at our incomprehensible conversations.

I typed out my limerick-ish poem and sent it off into text-land. My mother and I deposited my Grandmother at home then trotted off to the gym. I was reading Mere Christianity on the incumbent bike when my iPhone made the Perry the Platypus sound. That means an incoming text. Instead of the expected “HAHA” or emote con, I received the following response.

In response I must say that a butter less roll,
May yet still be used as an onion soup bowl.
Take a knife and a spoon and scoop out a large hole.
Add soup and eat up, for it’s good for your soul!

I burst out laughing. The truth was I should have been anticipating something like this. Pleased as punch, I composed the proper response.

What good is a beach without sand,
A soft place for your butt to land?
For if it were rocks,
‘Twould ruin your socks!
What good is a beach without sand?

My day rolled forward. Hours later I looked at my phone to see the following answer.

A sandless beach, I think you will find,
Can be lots of fun if there’s rocks to be climbed!
You can stand on the top looking out to the sea,
Solid rock at your feet, spread your arms! You are free!

I burst into peals of laughter. My husband insisted on knowing what happened. I shared the conversation with my beloved then began to beat my head for another question.
“What good is a feast without food?” my husband offered. I snapped my fingers at his brilliance and typed into my phone.

What good is a feast without food?
You’ll have to agree that it’s rude.
The guests would be mad,
And that would be bad.
What good is a feast without food?

My response came a while later.

Man shall not live by bread alone.
They could sit in a circle, play telephone.
Let fellowship take the place of the yeast.
Friendship will out at an un-fooded feast.

This was his best one yet. I dangled one more before his eyes.

What good is a day without sun?
I don’t think it would be much fun.
For I need sun to tan,
Or I won’t get a man.
What good is a day without sun?

My response came about 12 hours later.

What could be better than a sunless day?
With books and tea, inside you can stay!
And as for your tan, you’ve already got a man
And he will love you either way.

I smiled.

Me: You’re hilarious by the way.
Jon: Thank you :p

I love my brother in law. 🙂

© Rachel Svendsen 2014

I Dream of Bovines in a Large Red Barn

The cow in question
“You like ‘Alice in Wonderland’?”

I looked up from my book to my guy friend. I sighed and exchanged it for my Algebra II book.

“Yes I do.” I replied. He wrinkled his nose.

“But it’s so weird.”

“It’s clever!”

“He wasn’t clever. He was on drugs!”

This revelation crushed my world, but didn’t change my opinion of Lewis Carroll. I still think he’s a genius and I still love Alice. I think the reason it was so devastating is because I’ve always had super Alice-in-Wonderlandesque dreams. Now I wonder if people think I’m on drugs too…

I once dreamed that I was chugging along in my Uncle’s black pick up truck. I have never in reality driven this truck. It’s massive. It has one of those oversized truck beds with wheel wells that stick out like sidecars. I’m a tiny little Honda Civic kind of girl. The more compact the better.

Regardless, I was trucking down a narrow side street on the way to my grandmothers. I took a sharp bend in the road and…

BAM!

I didn’t see her until it was too late. She was a middle-aged brunette in jeans and a black vest. I slammed on the breaks and jumped out of the truck. My heart was pounding. My slumber infused consciousness had not yet registered these events as a dream, and, as far as I knew, I had just hit a person.

Oddly enough she was fine. I mean…she was a bit miffed. It’s legitimate. I would be too if you hit me. Especially since she was already lame, as evidenced by her black and sliver cane laying on the side of the road.

“I’m so so sorry,” I moaned, at a loss for anything else to say. “Here, I’ll take you to the hospital.”

These were the pre-cellphone days of our lives. This seemed like the best option. She acquiesced to my offer and I carried her into the truck. I laid her on the floor behind my seat and quickly made my way towards the medical center. I didn’t make small talk. What do you say to a woman you just hit? She was the one who first broke the silence.

“Why are you going this way?” she said nervously. “Are you insane?”

“What are you talking about?” I responded. My palms began to sweat against the wheel.

“Just whatever you do, don’t look that cow in the eye! He’ll kill us.”

“What cow?”

“The one in that barn you idiot!”

A massive three story barn stood in the field in front of us. The field was wide and empty save that big fire engine red building with the white trim. The grass was yellow, dying with the change in seasons. I tried to recall this building being there before. I’d driven to my grandparents house a million times, I was practically raised there.

“Don’t even think about looking!” she snarled. I locked my eyes on the road and kept driving.

Curiosity is a dangerous thing and my veins flow with an abnormally high amount. Figuring it was safe to check my rearview mirror, I waited until we passed the building and glanced up.

The three-story barn was built like a hugermongerous doghouse. One large curved opening framed the biggest cow I will ever see. It looked inflated, like those ridiculous blow up decorations that are so popular around the holidays. There was no fan blowing merrily under this beast though. It had big white horns and a massive golden ring embracing his nostrils.

I shuddered as fear rippled through me. The huge round eyes locked with mine in the mirror. My heart stopped beating. The warm brown eyes of the cow melted into a menacing red. Steam poured from his nostrils. One hoof struck the ground, tearing up the dying grass. He snorted.

“You fooooool!” the woman behind me moaned. She dissolved into hysterical sobs.

The cow charged. I woke up screaming. I sat in my bed, safe, sound, and completely devoid of cows. I laid my head back on my pillow.

“Wow,” I murmured. “That was weird…”

I recently left my job and a coworker bemoaned my loss. “Who will tell me their weird dreams now?” she asked. Who indeed Sandra? For I have not yet met anyone in person who has dreams like me. I know there are others out there. I can’t possibly be the only living being with vivid bizarre dreams. I just wish they would affirm me. So if you’re reading this and you’ve had similar bizarre things occurring in your slumber…let me know…please?

Walmart and Mr. Bean

“I’ve been thinking…”

My husband was pushing the shopping cart. He looked up at me blandly. I get these “thoughts” rather frequently. They are conceived in my fevered imagination, and burst unexpectedly from my mouth at all odd hours of the day and night (in the middle of a film…during a church service… when he’s trying to kiss me…). One can never guess when I’ll turn to him and say these words. Truthfully, the majority of these moments aren’t even preceded by this three and a half-word warning. His introduction to this trend came early in our dating history. I remember one particular phone call when I answered my cell, skipped the greeting, and blurted out, “What exactly is a sarcophagus?”

Perhaps a more tangible explanation of this strange proclivity of mine, would be to compare myself to Dug, the golden retriever in Pixar’s movie “Up”. Throughout our journey getting to know the scatterbrained pup, he will often break off mid sentence, stare into the distance and shout, “Squirrel!”. My husband burst into raucous laughter when we first saw this moment of movie magic. I laughed too…until Timothy leaned over and whispered, “It’s you!” I grimaced at him. “Very funny Timothy. Veeeeery funny…”

Regardless, we were in Walmart, picking up this and that. We were approaching the dairy section. I had my eye on a particular brand of sour cream. A gentlemen and his companion sidled up to the area I was required to approach, and broke into a short discussion. We queued up behind and waited our turn. That was when I turned to my husband.

“I’ve been thinking, what if someone went all Mr. Bean on people at the grocery store.”

My husband smiled at me and chuckled. He knew immediately what I meant. The poor man has had more servings of Mr. Bean force-fed to him than most people get in a lifetime. My thought process ran thus:

I imagined myself standing directly behind, almost uncomfortably close to the gentlemen in front of my beloved brand of sour cream. He picks up vanilla yogurt. I too pick up the same brand and container of vanilla yogurt. He shrugs and wonders why that odd duck needed to stand so disagreeably close to him. Cart leading the way, he shoves off towards the chip and pretzel aisle.

After browsing the current selection of Lay’s potato chips, he lifts a bag of the salt and vinegar variety. Something in his peripheral vision catches his eye. He turns. Blinks. There I stand, looking him over with an unidentifiable expression, somewhere between amusement and disdain. I reach over. I lift not one but two bags of the same potato chips. I sneer. He widens his eyes, grunts, and heads to the next aisle.

What else did he need? Bread! Right. He stops to gently squeeze a loaf. Fear and curiosity tickle the hairs on the back of his neck. Hesitantly, he looks over his shoulder. Yes. Yes I’m there. I already have three loafs of the same bread in my cart.

He dashes with his cart into the next aisle. His heart beats hard against his ribs. He stops short in the middle. His head turns back and forth several times. The freak is nowhere in sight. He takes stock of his surroundings. Candy and gum. He walks down towards the Twizzlers. A pick-me-up would be lovely after this bizarre experience. His hand stretches for the cherry bites. Just before his fingers touch the plastic packaging, a hand reaches from the void and snatches it away. He closes his eyes. Lifts his hand for another. That one too disappears. He finally turns his eyes to mine. I slowly shake my head.

My husband and I finished our trip to Walmart. We hopped into our little white Honda in silence. I was staring off into the distance.

“Buckle up,” Timothy said. He turned the key in the ignition. I turned my head towards him.

“They’d curse me out wouldn’t they?” I asked.

“Probably. But if you want to do it, I’ll follow you and video.”

Fear not, thou unsuspecting shopper. I’m not brave enough.

I Guess I’m Starting a Blog

I am a writer.  I think I more or less always was.  That may seem impossible.  I can hear you saying, “Surely you weren’t writing direct from the womb.”  No (silly goose), but I’ve always had a vivid imagination.  I’ve always had incredible dreams.  That is as good a place to start as any.

I started putting pen to paper in Middle school.  I wrote poems and short stories.  My diaries were filled with over-exaggerated portrayals of my everyday experiences.  In sixth grade I started my first long story (with chapters and everything.  Be nice!!  That was a big deal for me then).  I completed two by the end of seventh grade.  They were shoddy at best but the pleasure of seeing my imaginings written out on notebook paper was unparalleled.  (They have since mysteriously gone missing…)

I continued to write poems, mostly goofy nonsense, all through high school.  (I remember one in particular that I wrote about a Bible teacher of mine who had the distinct mannerisms of a Tyrannosaurus.  I tried to share my creation with the student next to me and was immediately shunned.  Perhaps they feared its gentle rhythms.  Perhaps because they were trying to pay attention in class.  Perhaps it was the drawing of my teacher as a T-rex on top.  It’s difficult to say…)  After graduation, life got in the way.  I wrote rarely, mostly free verse poetry when I was hurting.  Sometimes there is nothing more comforting than guiding your heart through your pen to help the overflow of emotions seep into a blank white slate.

After I got married, my imagination was full of plots and poems.  One day it overflowed onto a word document, creating my first real novel.  It is still in progress, but one day (whether through a publisher or by myself) I am going to publish it.

I do not pretend I am the best writer that ever lived, (being an avid reader that would be a horrific statement to make) or even that I do not have much to learn.  What I do know is this.  I love writing.  I love creating.  I love reading.  I love poetry.  This blog is meant to share that love with others.

So lay your favorite blanket across your knees, pour a cup of tea, and I will tell you a story or let my heart sing you a song.

Once upon a time…