A Life Like Everybody Else’s
*originally published in Storgy
Christine A. Brooks
Once upon a time, a young girl, skinnier than most, plucked clay pigeons off the ground of a mostly empty rifle range while her father poured himself another beer at the lodge down the hill, just out of sight.
As the brisk wind turned her spindly arms to chicken skin, she wished for a life different than her own.
She imagined bears fishing, hawks circling overhead screeching their lonely cries in the nearby Savoy mountains, and she was comforted by the sun as it casually ducked behind the sugar maple trees that sheltered her.
The foreboding sky covered the small white crescent smile overhead, leaving her once again alone picking up pigeon targets from a field riddled with sharp edges and disappointment.
As she stacked her clay treasures into large leaning wobbly towers, the autumn wind carried the smell of her father past her. Budweiser, urine, and Camel cigarettes swirled by as the lodge door opened, signaling her that his loud words would soon follow.
She loved the heavy sound her black and white pigeons made as she stacked them up, up and up, so much so that she blocked out the intrusive new smell, and ignored the approaching, teetering shadow.
Most of the clay pigeons were cracked, or had been blasted to dust, so finding a whole one was rare. She focused on her house of swaying clay treasures, and turned her back to the inevitability of what was to come.
Her small body trembled from the loud growls growing in her belly, but — just one more pigeon and she could accept leaving this sacred place.
One more pigeon, and she would be complete.
As the clouds, bruised with deep purples and pinks, covered her only friend the day moon, she knew he would soon collect her. He would return her to the small green house where she felt she did not belong, to a life that did not suit her. She would never tell that their tardiness was not her fault.
She would go, pasting a thin smile on her wind burned lips, knowing her mother was waiting with chicken, dried to jerky from sitting in the oven far too long, milk, now warm, and an inability to listen to his excuses.
Tonight, on the swervy ride home, the girl prayed that her dinner would not be tossed in the trash, and she could eat like her friends did, without scraping kitty litter off the small dry chicken breast that she pulled from the blue plastic trash can in the pantry.
Tonight, the small girl would offer up a wish as she did every night: that she could have a life like everybody else’s.
Forever and ever, amen.
Christine A. Brooks is a graduate of Western New England University with her B.A. in Literature, and is currently attending Bay Path University for her M.F.A. in Creative Non Fiction. Most recently a series of poems, The Ugly Five, are in the current issue of Door Is A Jar Magazine and her poem, The Writer, is in the June, 2018 issue of The Cabinet of Heed Literary Magazine. Her vignette, Finding God, will be in the December issue of Riggwelter Press, and her series of vignettes, Small Packages, was named a semifinalist at Gazing Grain Press in August 2018.