This month's Artsy Essay contest will run for approximately one week, and will end next Friday, April 22nd, at midnight EST. Everyone is eligible to write, including all former winners.
The subject for the essay will be:
A Mysterious Photograph
This month you have carte blanche to go in any direction you desire, as long as whatever essay you create relates in some way to this mysterious photograph. Weave a story, tell a tale, share a memory, fact or fiction, poetry or prose.... whatever you choose (within the bounds of TOS please).Extra points for creativity!!! Just be sure to draw us in with lots of detail and descriptive language. Help us to feel, see, and hear what you describe.
"You can't go back," Jay chided her. "You can never go home again."
Even from across the van Shaina felt the heat of his words. What did he know? Mr. Know-it-all. She could go back...anytime. She had nothing to hide, and no one to hide from. He was the one on the run, hiding from his past. And soon, with her plan now in motion, she would put him behind her. Forever.
As the van hummed down the winding mountain road, she cranked open her passenger window and lit a cigarette. The cool Sierra mountain air filled her senses, temporarily reprieving her mind from her heavy thoughts. Even in the darkness of night she could see the tall pine trees, hundreds of them, towering overhead. Breathing through her nose slowly and deeply, she closed her eyes and filled her lungs with the sweet crispness. Oh how she loved this smell, the pine aroma was so liberating and calming. For a moment, she almost forgot.
She glanced briefly at Jay, taking in his deep-set brown eyes, the thick straight dark brown hair, his large Roman like nose and those thin lips set against his bronzed skin. Even in October, he retained his tan. Looking at him now, she didn't feel a thing. She could do it. She would do it. It was time to put the pieces back together.
The drive from Lake Tahoe to Oakland was quiet. She kept to her thoughts, mulling her plan over in her mind. It wouldn’t be easy and she was scared, there was no denying that. She had to do this. If she stayed any longer she would end up a statistic. Just another domestic violence statistic. There had to be more to her life than that.
Back at home, the couple made their way around the house in silence, Jay unpacking his suitcase as Shaina prepared his dinner. It had to be on the table soon, or he would start…again. Just like the last time when he threw her favorite turquoise blue ceramic bowl across the room at her. Her ears still echoed with the loud C-R-A-S-H she heard when the bowl hit the cabinet doors and shattered just inches from her head.
It was time to put the pieces back together.
Within two weeks, the time came. The night she spent scanning the classifieds for an apartment to rent, Jay lashed out at her. After he kicked the chair out from under her, after she fell to pieces again, Jay had walked out, leaving her lying on the floor. More than ever, she was determined to do this. His threats no longer intimidated her. Now she had the upper hand…the advantage. And she was readyto use it.
An hour later she heard his footsteps approaching her office door. He had returned.
"Look, baby, you know I’m sorry." He said it softly, almost convincing her. The words rolled out of his lips like butter. Like so many times before. He stood in the doorway and smiled that shallow smile of his.
She didn’t reply.
Jay stepped toward her. "Hey, I said I’m sorry." Words without feeling. There was nothing behind them except his need to have his way. He wasn’t sorry.
When she didn’t reply, he reached out to touch her shoulder. Shaina moved away. "Don’t touch me," she said.
He laughed at her, mocking her feelings. "Come on baby. It was just a little push. Get over it."
And then everything she had been holding back came to the surface with such power she felt like someone else was speaking through her. "Jay, it wasn’t a little push. It was a huge push. This time you pushed too far. It’s over. You’re not doing this to me anymore."
The fire ignited in his eyes and she knew she had to act fast.
"Just so you know, before you do anything, hear this." She turned to face him, her eyes narrowed. Her jaw firmly set. "This afternoon I gave the head attorney at the office a sealed envelope. I asked him to hold the envelope for me. I also instructed him to open the envelope in the event something should happen to me. If I am injured, or killed in any kind of accident, he will open the envelope. Inside the envelope is a sworn affidavit naming you as my killer and recounting everything you have ever done. The insurance fraud, the counterfeit checks, the drug deals…all of it. And everything you did to me. Every detail of every rotten deed you ever concocted is in that document. I am leaving you. Leaving you far behind. If you try to stop me, if you ever threaten me, or anyone in my family again, that document will be opened."
The weight of her words smacked him in the face and he stood looking at her, stunned. Attorneys. Affidavits. Where had all this come from? She couldn’t be serious. "Hey-"
"Don’t hey me. You think I’m joking?" she asked, standing up to face him, eye to eye. Inside she felt hot. The fire of rage burned deep within, filling her with an energy she had never felt before.
Jay let out a nervous laugh. "Baby, come on. Don’t get all serious on me."
Shaina took a step toward him, her heart pounding in her chest. Jay took a small step back. Her pounding heart vibrated in her ears and she prayed Jay couldn’t hear it, or sense her fear. She was scared, there was no doubt about that. But more than anything else, she was determined.
"You listen and you listen good. You don’t loveme, you never have. In your eyes I am not a person, I’m just another possession. You once had me convinced that no one would ever love me, but I know you are wrong. I deserve love. I deserved to be loved by a man who truly loves me. And you are not that man. I am leaving you. You and your lies, and your schemes, and the pain you have inflicted on me. But I swear to you now, if I so much as hear one whisper about you hurting my sisters or anyone in my family, you will regret it. If anything unusual ever happens to them…or me…you can kiss your twisted life goodbye. And if you think I’m joking, just try me."
She brushed past him, out of the office to their bedroom and started packing her things. She didn’t see Jay for several hours, but he appeared in the bedroom and begged her to stay. He tried and tried. But his words fell on empty ears. She no longer cared how he felt.
It was over.
Seven months later, she was seated on the deck of her father’s home in Oregon. The morning sun gently washed her pale skin with soft spring rays. She wrapped her fingers around her coffee cup, closed her eyes and thought back over the past few months. It had not been easy, but she made it. She got through the days without thinking about Jay; with each passing day she gained new strength, and put back another piece. With that thought she opened her eyes, stood up, and walked back to the table where she had been working.
It was symbolic, of her dreams, her hopes…her life. Once shattered into many pieces, with loving care the pieceshad been gathered, grouped, and given new life. Granted, the surface wasn’t smooth, but that was the point. The unevenness and staggered heights of all the pieces gave it more depth, she thought. Character. Unique character. With a tentative finger, she checked the grout. It was dry. She was finished. A smile spread over her face as she carefully picked up the blue sphere and slowly turned it in her hands. Her favorite ceramic bowl, shattered into many pieces, had been transformed. Once it had been half a sphere; and now it was whole. Rebuilt, repaired, renewed. Complete.
"Yes, I can go back," she said out loud. "And, I am home, again."