Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Talking about Monsters


“Why? Why do you read such things? You’re sick in the head; do you know that?” My aunt pointed at me with an accusatory index finger as she brought her tea to the table. I was already sitting there drinking my green tea to calm my nerves.

“I’m not sick in the head,” I said calmly sipping my tea.

“You think it’s healthy to watch things like that? All that killing, killing, killing. You’re going to screw up your mind! That’s why you can’t sleep at night.” She accused me falsely.

I looked at the clock. The hour hand was at the nine. Did she consider this late?

“I stay up at night thinking.” She didn’t know my characters talked to me.

“Thinking about what?”

“Nothing, you won’t understand.” I sipped the warm, honey-induced waters.

We sat in silence for a moment. Both of us just stared at each other. What I saw was an old woman, who had experienced many atrocities in her life. Clara, my aunt, was almost like my second mother. Her hands were covered with tiny brown spots and scratches from cleaning. Her eyes said many things in a different language that I had yet to understand. The language of experience.

“Why can’t you watch nice things?” Clara took a cookie from a plastic container, dipped it into her tea, and ate it.

“Sorry I’m not interested in happy bunnies flopping around in Happy Land.” The mood tightened, but she was calm.

“What about American Idol?”

“I don’t want to watch wannabe singers. I want to watch wannabe screamers.”

“How about Dancing with the Stars?” Another from her list of suggestions.

“I don’t want to see dancing with celebrities; I want to see people dance on graves.”

The Bachelor?” She took another sip from her red tea.

I was beginning to get tired of all these suggestions. I didn’t like reality television at all. My entire family watched these shows; the only person who didn’t was me. “Look I don’t like reality TV, because I want to escape reality with these scary things. I thought television was an escape, right?”

From her eyes, I understood she didn’t understand the word ‘escape.’ It had so many meanings to her, but ‘escaping reality’ wasn’t one of them. She sat in silence thinking and staring at me.

“I don’t like all that love-dovey stuff anyway. I like things like The Twilight Zone.” The Twilight Zone was an old black-and-white fictional documentary about the paranormal, weird, and unexplained that ran in the early sixties.

Her eyes lit up, “The Twilight Zone?”

“Yeah, you know ‘Da-da-da-dum, da-da-da-dum, you are now entering the Twilight Zone.’ It’s on like every channel.” The tea in my cup had finished, but she still had more.

“I watched that.” She took another cookie from the plastic container. Crumbs fell down on the tablecloth like pieces of a building that falling to the ground by a powerful force. Was the force an earthquake? An attack?

I decided to turn the tables on her. “So, now you’re crazy for watching shows like that.” I smiled.

“I’m not crazy,” she probably felt a sour taste in her mouth as she bit into her cookie. “I watched it when I was a little girl, when we first got a TV in our house. It was a big brown box and had a tiny screen. No remote, we had to thumb the channels with a knob. All the shows were black-and-white then. We only had a few programs back then.”

“What about The Twilight Zone?”

“Oh, yes, sorry,” she said lost in thought. “It was when I was a little girl; my two sisters, your papa, and Uncle Andik, surrounded the television watching the man in the trench coat.” The man in the trench coat was Rod Serling, the mastermind and the narrator of the show. “He talked with the most soothing voice about the weirdest things. I always wondered how he could be so calm talking about things so scary.”

“Maybe because he knew that things he was talking about were fake?”

“But to a little girl of seven or ten. There was no such word; nothing was fake.” She smiled as she remembered. She didn’t stare up at me, but at the chandelier that hung over our heads. What did she see in those crystals? Was her face reflected back? Or was a little girl about the age of seven or ten staring at her?

“Clara? Are you there?” I asked waving my hand.

She awoke from her daydream and almost spilled the remains of her tea. “Sorry, sorry, what were we talking about?”

I smiled thinking how much of a moment we just shared together. She and I connected to something together, but on different levels, different wavelengths. I just watched The Twilight Zone for the fun of knowing what else Rod Serling could come up with next, but Clara had a deeper level. Clara when she thought about the show, she thought about hiding in the covers with her brother, Andik. When she thought of the show, she imagined herself looking at the small screen and seeing a small girl from an opposite world stare back. She imagined her older sister, Marie, turning off the TV because everyone was getting scared of the monsters.

I smiled and said, “So are we normal or crazy?”

She smiled back, her tea finished, her hunger for both food and answers quenched, “We are human.”

4 comments:

Anonymous said...

This was a very interesting piece, to say the least. It intrigued me. The ideas you were trying to portray... Your aunt questioned why you had such a dark mind, when really, you seek only to break away from reality from time to time.

We all need a break every now and then, yes? One can only take so much of day-to-day experiences, which although remain a great part of our lives can naturally prove to be quite mundane.

I love how you protrayed the dialogue between yourself and your aunt. It was actually amusing at some points and at others it left me musing in thought.

I was captured by that last sentence:
She smiled back, her tea finished, her hunger for both food and answers quenched, “We are human.”

Brilliance. Your aunt is a smart woman.

Keep writing, Vatche. This was a fine read.

--Melissa.

Paul L. Martin said...

Way to go, Vatche! You could create an industry out of these "writer's perspective" pieces. I agree with Melissa: the "We are human" line is a killer.

Good work. You are building quite a portfolio of writing.

Anonymous said...

This intriuging piece made me think about that no matter the generation we all connect in some way or another.
Throughout this piece the imagery took my breath away, it was as if a film porjector turned on in my head. Two scenes really just took this piece to a diffrent level. First one being the cookie crumbling like a building, which was very brilliant. Yet the scene with the chandelier truly showed how talented you are.
It was a pleasure to read this, I am curious of all the other possible stories that are just floating around in you head.
-Jen

Vatche said...

Thanks, Melissa, Jen, and Mr. Martin for the wonderful comments. I'm truly glad you enjoyed the piece. I tried my best portraying my characters as human, yet inhuman at the same time.
I also tried my best to take these poetic experiences in my life and portray it as beautiful as it happened to me almost word for word. I appreciate the comments. Please do tell your friends, I would love to hear their comments, as well.

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