our silver girl

“We are not naming her Silver.”

I smiled, snuggling into your arms as I prepared for your daily attempt at changing the most obvious fact in the world. “It’s her name.”

“No.”

“No?”

“It’s tacky. Why can’t she have a normal name?”

“There’s no such thing as a normal name anymore, and Silver’s perfect. It’s absolutely completely one hundred percent perfect.”

“But–”

“Shh. You’ll understand. When you see her you’ll understand.”

And so you were with me through the pushing and the breathing and the chaos and the first perfect wail. You kept me sane through the congratulations and the prying eyes and the perky family and the well-wishers, and then finally, finally we were alone with her and you got to hold her in your arms and you cried (just like I knew you would).

And as your tears dripped onto her face she opened her beautiful blue eyes, and you blinked. And then you looked at me suspiciously, watching the smug smile spread across my face.

You didn’t need to say it.

You did anyway.

“Silver’s perfect.”

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made of idiosyncrasies

I asked you out for coffee. You smiled and said you didn’t like coffee, so we got milkshakes instead. You recommended the coffee ones.

And with that I was sucked into your strange, vibrant, inside out world, unable to escape and unwilling to try.

When I had first met you, you were rainbow – you’d been teaching a children’s art class and one of the kids splattered paint on you. Instead of getting mad you painted her nose orange.

“You can’t do that, you’re a teacher!” the kids shrieked happily.

“No I’m not!” you replied, flinging your arms towards the ceiling. “I’m an artist!”

You were promptly brought to the ground in a barrage of paint. Laughter filled the room, but yours was the loudest.

I fell in love with you right then, and you only got better. You scrunched up your nose when you were happy, and you loved the sound of pencils scratching against paper. You said that the older and more beat-up a book was, the better it was. You had the same philosophy about shoes. You owned a guitar that you couldn’t play and a tv that didn’t work, and your gleaming windows were filled with flowers.

I wanted to describe you, to tell you that you were absolutely perfect, but somehow perfection didn’t become you. It was your lack of it that made you so incredible. So I struggled, searching my mind for a description that didn’t exist. I could only think of one sentence – I wrote it on the bathroom mirror while you were taking a shower, and I could hear your delighted laugh when you read it.

“You’re made of idiosyncrasies.”

anything but that

What will make you happy? they asked him.

Images filled his mind, thoughts of adventure, of secret hideouts, of writing his dreams on a paper airplane and watching them fly. Because that’s almost the same as flying myself, he said.

They told him that was wrong. What do you want? they asked.

He wanted to play. He wanted to always be able to see the stars. He wanted to make daisy chains and leave them on people’s doorsteps.

No, they told him, that won’t get you anywhere. You want success. You want acceptance. You want money.

And he believed them.

So he grew, and he worked. He always worked. He forgot what the stars even looked like, and he forgot how to make daisy chains, and he never ever played. But he had what he wanted, what everyone had always told him he needed.

One evening he left the office late. Pausing on his way to the car, he glanced up at the smog-filled sky. And as he searched hopelessly for a star, he realized that he had success, and acceptance, and money. And he had never felt more weighed down in his entire life.

Suddenly he was filled with anger; anger at everyone else for taking his wishes and mangling them, and anger at himself for believing that they were still his.

So without thinking or hesitating, he got in his car, drove to the bank, and closed his accounts. He went home and grabbed the few objects that mattered. Then he drove for hours, out into the countryside, away from everything that meant nothing. And he got out of his car and looked at the stars.

Beautiful thoughts came flooding into his mind – old dreams that had been long forgotten and new dreams that had never been noticed. Smiling tentatively, he wrote them all on a crumpled piece of paper. And he folded it carefully up.

And he flew again.

held the moon in my hands

“It’s your birthday tomorrow,” you said.

“I know that,” I mumbled, too sleepy to wonder why you were pointing out such an obvious fact.

“Are you still refusing to let me buy you a present?”

“I don’t want anything.”

“You must want something.”

“Just you.”

“You have me.”

“Exactly.” I pulled the covers over my head to encourage you to shut up, but you pulled them back down.

“Why can’t I get you something? Everyone else gets to.”

“Give me the covers back.”

“Answer my question.”

“You suck. I’m cold.”

“Then answer quickly.”

I snuggled into your arms and sighed. “You’ve already given me more than I could have ever imagined possible.”

“Have I ever mentioned how cheesy you get when you’re tired?”

“Shut up.”

“It’s adorable.”

“Hmph. AS I WAS SAYING…”

“…Yes?”

“Um. What was I saying?”

“You were sa–”

“Oh, right. A birthday present seems petty and pointless compared to what you’ve already given me.”

“It doesn’t have to be,” you replied, your fingers twisting absently in my hair. “I’ll give you something special. Anything you want.”

“Anything?”

“Anything.”

“I want you to stop talking and let me sleep.”

“Hm. Anything but that.”

“Jesus. Fine, you want to get me something special? Get me the freeken’ moon, okay?”

I rolled over. There was beautiful silence for about thirty seconds. Then you suddenly got up and scooped me into your arms.

“AGH! What the hell are you doing?”

“Nothing. Go to sleep.”

“But I–”

“Shhh.”

I groaned irritably. You ignored me and carried me outside to your car. As you started driving, my sleepiness took over, and I curled up on the seat. I was dimly aware of you draping a blanket over me, and then I was out.

***

“Hey. Wake up, Beautiful. We’re here.”

“Mmph. Where’s here?” I asked. You unbuckled me and pulled me into your arms. It was too dark for me to clearly see your face, but I could sense your excitement.

“Can’t you tell?”

As my brain slowly started working again, I became aware of a rhythmic crashing sound, and a salty smell. A smile spread across my face. “The beach?”

“You got it.”

We climbed out of the car, and you grabbed a bag from the backseat. When we got close enough to the sea you pulled a picnic blanket and a bowl out of the bag, and spread the blanket on the sand.

“Stay,” you said, pointing.

I sat down, watching bemusedly as you filled the bowl up in the water. Walking carefully back, you sat down and began twisting the bowl this way and that until finally you were satisfied. You instructed me to take it, and I obliged, leaning forward curiously.

I peered into the bowl for a moment, and then let out a delighted laugh. Reflected in it was the moon, shimmering beautifully on the surface of the water.

“Thank you,” I whispered, unable to wipe the smile from my face. “It’s exactly what I wanted.”

“I thought it might be,” you answered. Then you looked at your watch and grinned.

“Happy birthday, Princess.”

children of the moonlight

It was always slightly ominous hearing the ice cream truck drive by in the middle of the night. The tinkling music became eerie as it echoed along the empty streets.

A little boy lay stiffly in his bed, listening. He felt like he was the only person in the world who was awake, and his frightened mind couldn’t stop imagining what sort of other people the music might rouse. Part of him wanted to go to the window and see; instead he pulled the covers over his head and shivered. But if he had looked, the sight that met his eyes wouldn’t have been at all what he expected.

Children.

Several of them, as a matter of fact. They emerged from the shadows, their milky forms fading in and out of focus, and they ran to catch the truck. Then one by one each child happily grabbed an ice cream, letting it smear across their mouths and drip down their hands like moonlight.

And afterwards they would play. Their shoes scuffing against the old city streets and their laughter rippling out into the night, they would dance and run and fight and live. They  frightened cats and made dogs bark; and sometimes, just sometimes, they would rouse a half-sleeping driver, shocking him into wakefulness. They prevented a lot of accidents, these children.

Their voices were carried on the wind, fading to almost a whisper by the time anyone heard. But sometimes a whisper was enough. Enough to wake up the sleeping little boy one night, and enough to finally draw him to his window. And he watched, eyes wide, as these strange shadowy children played in the street. Their clothes and toys were different from anything he had ever seen, and no matter how hard he listened he couldn’t hear anything more than occasional whispery laughter.

He watched them for hours, as they played marbles and jump rope and hopscotch. But as the sky turned pink and the stars began to fade, the children started to yawn. They slowly gathered their toys, and, as the sun’s first droplets fell onto the ground, they sleepily faded into the shadows.

It is always slightly ominous hearing the ice cream truck drive by in the middle of the night. But sometimes, over the sound of its tinkling music, a little boy hears whispery laughter and marbles clinking softly on the ground.

always enchanted

Once upon a time (because don’t all great stories start that way?) there was a very small girl. She had eyes like starlight and lips of laughter, and her hair fell around her face in chocolate ringlets. She loved wearing dresses, but she hated flip-flops – she wanted them to make that satisfying smacksmacksmack sound, but they just fell off her feet. So she decided that being girly wasn’t her thing. She got a skateboard that she couldn’t ride no matter how hard she tried, and her knees were perpetually purple.

When she grew up she wanted to be a writer-artist-anthropologist-astronaut-biologist-musician. That would be the best job in the world, she thought. But she was sure that the world had even more to offer her. So she read and read and read, science magazines and adventure stories, books about cowboys and fairies and mermaids, letting the images spill into her mind until she became absolutely enchanted.

She was also psychic, she knew that for sure. Once she predicted that it would snow, and the next day the ground was covered in white. I’m magic, she thought. And her enchantment grew.

Then the little girl went traveling. Just like in her adventure stories, she took planes and boats to exotic places, making a new best friend everyday. She didn’t care that she couldn’t understand their strange words, and they didn’t care that they couldn’t understand hers. They knew it really didn’t matter.

Eventually the little girl grew up. Always too tall, she began to slouch anxiously. She hid her starlight eyes behind glasses and sealed her laughing lips shut. She didn’t want to make exciting new friends anymore, she wanted to stay home where things were safe and familiar. She began to feel as though she’d left herself behind on one of her adventures; bits of her were missing, she was sure of it.

But she was still enchanted by the world. Beautiful images swirled around in her head, and she struggled to get them onto paper – first with pictures, then with words. And through her words and pictures she tried to capture herself, to find the missing pieces.

Sometimes that little girl gets annoyed that she doesn’t know how her story ends. But then she looks at her favorite fairy tales, and she feels better.

Because when a story begins Once Upon a Time, everyone knows how it has to end.