Thursday, February 07, 2008

Friday Snippets 29

At the end of last week's snippet, Iris and Greg had just received some devastating news about Candy, Greg's handicapped sister. Candy, who was prone to seizures, had suffered another one but this time, unlike the previous times, there was no hope of recovery.

Last week there seemed to be a question about the term 'brain dead'. When I wrote this story in the early nineties, I was under the impression that it was a common term referring to a catastrophic loss of electrical activity in the brain. I will check into current usage and make any appropriate changes.

Just as Iris' mother had delivered the news the sound of Candy's voice rang out from the next room where Iris' young Down's Syndrome sister had been left playing. On to part 3...

Blow Me A Candy Kiss
by Joy Renee

part 3 (part 1 part 2 part 3 part 4 part 5)

They stared at each other, no one wanting to be the first to admit to hearing it. Iris’ Dad cleared his throat and fiddled with his hearing aid. Greg, who could see into the living room with a slight turn of his head, spoke first: "Daisy May just found the play button on the remote."

"Oh," Iris said. "That’s the tape I made of the girls’ slumber-party last week." She led the way back through the dining room, stopping in the wide, arched doorway to the living room. Her parents stood beside her and Greg faced her from the other end of the room, having just had to turn himself sideways to move from the kitchen’s doorway to the living room’s. His arms, no longer crossing his chest, hung at his sides like wounded wings. She held out a hand to invite him to her side, but he shook his head.

They each had a clear view of the TV screen and of Daisy May, standing in the middle of the room fidgeting with the remote. She reversed and paused and fast-forwarded the video completely unaware of her audience. Watching Daisy May watch herself, Iris felt a giddy detachment, as if she had stepped back to watch her family and herself watch Daisy May watch herself. An infinity of recursive scenes that threatened to spin her off into wonderland.

Daisy May replayed the water-balloon fight several times. She finally let it play past that but during the picnic dinner of fried chicken, corn-on-the-cob and watermelon, she paused every time the camera focused on a messy face or gooey fingers to laugh. She fast-forwarded through most of the long Candyland game they had played, but for the Twist game that followed she worked the remote like a ten-key, calculating the value of love.

The video reached the final scene, where the girls and Iris snuggled into sleeping bags on this very living room floor and whispered stories in the glow of a lava-lamp, until sleep stole upon them. Daisy May’s voice, thick with exhaustion, called from the depths of her sleeping bag: "Hey, Handy Dandy Candy, Blow me a Candy Kiss." Candy obliged her, blowing a long, slurppy kiss off her hand, which Daisy returned in kind. Now Candy had a request, "Hey, Lazy Daisy Mazy sing Candy Man." "If," Daisy bargained, "You sing with me. And Iris too." Iris hummed the opening bar and they began to sing but by the refrain, Iris sang alone. The video continued to play until the faces of the girls took on the repose of slumber, then the image of Iris aimed the remote at the viewers and turned on the chaos of white-noise.

Everyone, except Greg who had disappeared early on, had tears of laughter running down their cheeks. "Oh," Iris gasped. "That felt so good. Let’s watch another one. I have stuff going all the way back to when Daisy was born on cassette. The stuff before that hasn’t been transferred from reels yet."

"Not tonight, dear." Irene patted her daughter’s shoulder. "But you might remind Carla and Ron you have all this. They may want to put together a little memorial piece to play at the service."

Iris embraced herself and shivered convulsively. "I don’t think the full reality of this has hit me yet. I should be wailing into my pillow or shouting curses at the sky or something equally hysterical."

"These things work themselves out in their own way. Thee are no ‘shoulds’ about it." Irene put her arms around Iris, who leaned into their comfort, her chest heaving around huge dry sobs, her arms clutching her waist where a heavy heat smoldered in the vicinity of her womb--the weight of empty promises. She felt gravid with something immense and unnamable. A few moments more of this and the reservoir may have burst, like an overfilled water-balloon, drenching the two of them with the soothing brine of tears. But Daisy May barreled into them, burrowed her head between them and wrapped her arms around them.

Iris felt a pang of resentment towards her sister just then, that surprised her with its intensity. She had to step back to resist the urge to push Daisy away. Imagine that, she mused, I’m experiencing sibling rivalry for the first time at thirty-five.

"We’ll go on home now." Irene cupped Iris’ chin in one hand as she caressed Daisy May’s back with the other. "Go to Greg." she said. "He needs you right now. And you need his comfort more than you need mine."

3 tell me a story:

Renee M. Solberg 2/08/2008 9:42 AM  

Joy Renee I really like the way you capture moments in your writing and share them in a way that makes the poignancy in them so profound. The video of the slumber party and singing is lovely and emotion filled for it's sweetness as much as the circumstances of the viewing. Well done.

"she worked the remote like a ten-key, calculating the value of love." is such a great phrase though read a little awkward for me on my first read through. I think it might just be me though ;)

Great work!

IanT 2/08/2008 1:00 PM  

I don't think I could have had tears of laughter at that point. :-(

Painful stuff.

Anonymous,  2/09/2008 4:27 PM  

Damn. Just, damn. True to life--unfortunately, I know these emotions all too well.

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