Thursday, September 28

Lizard's Mirage

You could say I picked this assignment for Wordsmiths Unlimited on purpose. I took this picture because the scene spoke to me. I don't know what it said at the time, but it said something. I wanted to hear what it said to others. After much reflection, this is what I heard.

This is a work of fiction. Copyright © 2006 Rumba Creative. All Rights Reserved.
No portion of this work may be copied, retransmitted, reposted, duplicated,
or otherwise used without the express written approval of the author.

Lizard's Mirage

“Who are you talking to?”

“Just Dad.” Mom has the confused look on her face. I hold the handlebars of my bike, the seat resting against my hip. I know what she will say.

“Thomas, you know Daddy isn’t coming back. We’ve talked about it. Daddy is not coming back. Ever.”

“My name is not Thomas. It’s Lizard Boy. And Dad is here all the time. You just don’t want to see him.” Mom stands in the shady heat of the porch, her white skirt moving in the breeze like a ghost hung on the laundry line. Her face goes from sad to angry, then back to sad.

“Don’t take your bicycle up the hill. You’ll get hurt. Promise me, Thomas.”

“I promise,” I say, not really meaning it. “I won’t get hurt. Dad won’t let it.” Mom looks like she might cry. She opens the screen door. It bangs against the wall that Dad was painting. I watch her skirt flow out of the sun, into our house that isn’t the same any more.

I walk my bike up the hill. I love the hill. It has rocks and dirt and places in between where lizards hide. Dad loved the hill, too. We would walk up together, to watch a storm or a sunset. Sometimes we would just watch. Whatever we did, Dad always laughed while I climbed rocks, poking a stick in every hole and crack I found.

“You are a lizard, aren’t you my boy?” he would say. And I would smile and say “Yes, Dad. I am Lizard Boy!” The hill was the place we saw things and talked about things. When night came, we crawled back down to our house like lizards tired from the sun.

Today is the first time I climb the hill by myself. From the top I see everything. I see our house. I see rocks and sky. I see the whole world. I remember Dad saying never tell a lie. I remember Dad saying he would always watch over me.

I push the pedals of my bike, aiming the front wheel down the rocky slope. I feel the world rise up to meet me. I feel the wind in my face. I hear Dad whisper.


jazz bird said...

I LOVED this. I found it very moving.

...her white skirt moving in the breeze like a ghost hung on the laundry line. Great turn of phrase.

This Girl I Used to Know said...

Loved IT! Really excellent stuff, some nice imagery. I like the comparison of the boy on the rocks to a lizard and crawling back to the house.

The switch to Mom talking about the bike was mildly jarring to me. Slightly out of the flow you had going already. I might have considered mentioning the kid being by the bike, near the bike, touching the bike, something, just a little earlier, to make her mentioning it less out of the blue. Just a minor point, though.

tiff said...

You've created a vivid picture here of loss and one child's reaction to it.

I was a little thrown by the "she doesn't know I understand" but the sudden appearance of the bike didn't throw me.

Go figure.

And Thomas DID lie....I think he's mad at Dad, don't you?

Erica said...

A very poignant moment, this:
"She opens the screen door. It bangs against the wall that Dad was painting."

It really captures that "he was JUST here" thing that is SO painful for people who are grieving unexpectedly.

I loved this.

Kingfisher said...

Thank you all so very much. I enjoyed playing with this one. All the descriptions you point out were used deliberately. I used the skirt/ghost metaphor to connote death, not that Daddy had just run away. I used the hill/rocks/lizard as a connecting device for the father/son relationship, and to set the piece in the desert. I used the wall paint to hint at the unexpected nature of the death. I think I was successful.

Two of you are correct in your criticism, I changed a line or two. I think it flows a little better. It could use more tinkering, but I leave as it is for now.

It wasn't until I was finished that I caught the irony of "do not tell a lie." Writing's funny that way, sometimes the muse puts stuff in there for you to find later. I thought about changing it, but I like the extra dimension it gives.

Thank you, thank you, thank you.

No get cracking and write your own!

tiff said...

Ah, much better.

Dude - remember I'm not going to be here next week. You're goign to be able to put up the results post, right? e-me if you can.

Mom said...

A beautifully and poignantly written story...and a perfect tale for that day in the desert. I can feel the skirt moving against my legs.....

Wordnerd said...

This was fantastic. Very moving. Great work.

the only daughter said...

I enjoyed the tale very much, the end especially-which feels like a beginning.