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Location: California

I love paper. Books printed on acid-free paper and bound in cloth turn me on. I'm crazy about bookmarks, and I buy too many stickers. I could spend hours in the build-your-own-greeting card section of my neighborhood craft store. My favorite thing to eat is bread, and my second favorite is fruit. (Mm, pineapple.) I read too much and too fast, and I watch too many food shows (two ways of looking at gluttony). Gloomy, rainy weather calms me and so I can't wait to move out of California, which will happen, sadly, too many years from now to count. I'm vegan, though I haven't managed to eliminate honey from my diet yet. I practice yoga; it's the only way I can keep fit. I have a better life than I ever imagined I would (or deserve to) have, but I do my best to enjoy it rather than feel guilty about it. That's my daily struggle -- and also to be thoughtful and observant and honest with myself.

Tuesday, December 06, 2005

God and Peacocks

I would have loved to have Flannery O'Connor as my aunt. In the summers I'd have spent a month or two on her farm. In the morning, before breakfast, I'd have watched from the guest bedroom window (well-scrubbed panes, clear as water) her forty peacocks sit on fence posts askew with their weight. I'd have watched them eat chrysanthemums and roses and the figs off the fig tree. Flannery's mother would come out with a broom in her hand and chase them out of the flower beds. I'd smile and listen for the click of the typewriter in the next room.

On a weekday, I'd wash my face in a porcelain basin with a pattern of brick-red geraniums on it. Go to the kitchen where the tray for Flannery would be on the table, a soft-boiled egg and a cup of coffee. I'd take the tray to Flannery's room, knocking on the door fearfully, because no matter how many times she jokes with me, no matter how many times I see her feed and clean after her birds and hear her talk to the neighbors, I know that there's something secret and miraculous going on behind the door of her room. Those typed pages that she doesn't let me read because I'm too young. I leave the breakfast tray on the doorstep. These are the rules: knock then step away. Often I hide and wait for her to come out. She's still in her night gown, her hair wild, her lips pressed together. I think I hear the eggshell crack inside her room. It sounds like a typewriter key being struck.

On Sundays we go to mass and Flannery walks up to the communion rail without crutches; she doesn't need them yet. She eats God and returns to the pews with the lipstick smeared a bit off her lips. She looks dishevelled, ravaged. She clasps my hand. It's not an intimate gesture; she simply needs support. On the ride back home her uncle drives down dusty roads, and I sweat in the back seat, I sweat harder than everyone else in the car because I've made up my mind to show Flannery a story I've written about her peacocks. In my story her peacocks talk. They want to take a trip to Florida.

She doesn't say much about my story. After she reads it, she sets the sheets of paper on her lap, over her apron. There's a peach in each of her apron's pockets. She takes one out and gives it to me. "I enjoyed it," she says. She doesn't give me back the sheets. The peacocks trot about in the shade of the fig trees. "But they have the last word," she says, nodding at the birds. We laugh.

2 Comments:

Blogger madness rivera said...

Hi C! Welcome to blogworld - isn't it liberating, in ways? Lovely piece, really. Great first line!

Anyway, I didn't realize it was you until today, but so glad to see you on the comment board and in blogworld. I'm going to link you on my site.

December 07, 2005  
Blogger Green Whale said...

Thanks, D! I was afraid you were going to figure out that it was me! It's liberating, yes, writing without thinking too much about it. Don't have time to worry, obsess. Thanks for your encouragement.

December 07, 2005  

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