Echoes from Within by Kiana McCrackin
Updated: Dec 28, 2018
Once it is written, it becomes true.
I spent some time perusing the self-help book section at Goodwill. Most of the advice was useless and archaic. One was worthy: Journal. So, I journal.
In front of me is a blank page – lineless, empty. In my hand is a pen.
Once it is written, it is true.
I sit until my left leg becomes numb. Numb, numb, then tingly. Then I make the first smudge of black, in the middle of the page. When I begin, the words flow one after another in a long stream, tripping over themselves to escape.
I want to start at the beginning but what is the beginning?
I met Lucca in the winter time, the coldest one I can remember. This is not the beginning.
I was born as the leaves fell off the trees. This is not the beginning.
I was pregnant, and then I wasn't. This is not the beginning.
Lila came Earthside in the spring, and then three springs later Henry came, too. This is not the beginning.
Birth and meeting birth and meeting birth and meeting. These days were not the beginning.
I shove the end of my pen through these words until it slices through the paper. I tear the page from the leather-bound book and rip, rip, rip.
Once it is written, it is true.
But I don't think journaling is actually for me. Instead, I just think.
I begin again, starting at the beginning of today. (This advice came from a book with a black spine entitled “Coping with Grief.” One day at a time was the opening line. I wasn’t grieving a death, but the book drew me in.)
On the other side of the smudged glass above the kitchen sink is my whole world. Lila is running barefoot down the weathered dock, Henry toddling behind, and Lucca waiting at the end. She reaches him, and they tangle with each other, faces alive with laughter I cannot hear, and for a second, they are there, entwined, and then they are gone, swallowed whole by Lake Aurora. Henry has finally reached the end, and he stands at the edge watching the undulating water until Lucca and Lila emerge. Lucca's arms extend to him, securing themselves around his protruding belly. As Henry's tiny toes pierce the surface, I plunge my hands into the warm soapy water in front of me and grab the first dish my hands' touch. In this place I am whole. Here, where I watch my children and their father play out their lives. The window, a movie screen. Their stories, a saga.
And is this my story? Dishes and lone?
Nothing is different about this scene. But I am different. My thoughts, usually long and flowing, now come to me in single words: Echo. Hollow. Reeling. Absent. Survive. My head hurts with the emptiness. The words reverberate through me. Resonating. Bell clang. Solitary, yes, but encapsulating entire worlds.
People talk to me, and all I can do is talk back. Lucca touches me, and I recoil. I have taken to leaving the house while Henry and Lila nap. I walk in the woods some days or to the end of the dock on others. But I can't leave when they do. My house becomes magnetized, flattening my being against it. I imagine myself splayed against the wall of windows behind me. Limbs stretching outwards, hair as if my finger was plunged into an electrical socket. I like to imagine the house holding me captive this way. Because if I am not physically able to leave than it isn't my fault.
They are splashing water high above them now, their red curls bobbing in the greens, blues, grays. And in my hands, a plate falls sending drops all over me, all over the window. Life mirroring life.
And at this moment Lucca looks up, and though I am far from him on the other side of the glaring glass, I swear he looks right into my eyes. And I can picture them perfectly even from here. They don't know their own color. Brown, green, blue, grey, black. Always warm. A new hue all to themselves. I used to melt when they touched me. And for a second, I wait, expecting the same.
This place repels me now, quite suddenly. A cage of glass and dark, dark wood. My magnet flipped. I drop the plate again into the cooling water, and I run. I run in my mind.
I am not a runner. My legs are long, but they don't move right. They don't ever say: "Claire, graceful, moves with agility." I stop when I am in the woods far enough that his eyes cannot find me. It is summer, and so there is no white. But if there were, I am sure it would stain with drops of me. I wear his words carved into my skin. Open wounds. There is an animal inside of me that wants to sit down here and lick until I am raw.
“I am tired of carrying your weight.” And I feel it now, the heaviness of me. Has the world made me heavy? Or was I always this way? In my distant memories, I believe I was once weightless. Floating through my life with ease. His voice plays in my head again and again and again and again.
There is a child within that wants to stay here until they look for me, wanting them to worry and wonder. “Where is Claire?”
But instead, the magnet flips again. I return to the cold sudsy water. To the dishes. To my place. My body is here, dutiful, but where am I?
They are coming back now, the three of them, buoyant with their joy. Happier than melting ice cream. When they reach the door, I arrange my face. I remember to breathe in after I breathe out.
By Kiana McCrackin, December 2018
Kiana McCrackin is a mom, photographer, and writer living and creating in Bremerton, Washington.
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