Mannequin Monday – Take Me Home
Hey, here we are for another Mannequin Monday. We come back every Monday to find more words, more ideas, more inspiration to dress that blank form. Today we shape our words to describe roads. Dirt roads. Streets. Highways. The road to finding oneself.
First up is a poem by Tyree Daye, titled By Land. As I often do, I found this in Narrative Magazine. A great source for fiction and non-fiction. Free to read, with only a signup.
And then a short story of my own, My Big Brother is Scared.
This Week’s Story
In Narrative Magazine, Tyree Daye brings us a wonderful poem , By Land, evocative of the roads in our lives. The roads that somehow shaped and informed us. Our memories. Our visions of ourselves. Here are a couple of excerpts.
By Land opens so:
“I’ve lived on dirt roads that bent and ended at a gate of pines, the dust skipped up didn’t make my mother look like a dream.”
Don’t we all know that road? The dirt dry and dusting our feet. The trees hanging over the road. Not enough for shade. Only enough to frame the scene. The road that bent into the trees.
The poem goes on. “Most of the little towns have a road nicknamed Devil’s Turn,
where someone’s brother died on a Saturday night while Nina sang ‘Tell Me More and More and Then Some’ on the Caddy’s radio, the moon the color of the oldest cardinal.” Memories of a road that took lives. Young lives. Lives bent on living, but snuffed by the road’s curve.
And there are the roads that invoke a dark unknown. “…others wait for you to run out of gas then come alive with what your mother said could take you.” A beautiful way to say, this is one scary road at night.
Finally, some roads offer promise. A goal reached. As Daye says, “…hopefully it’ll lead to myself, hopefully they’ll take me home.”
You can read all of the poem here.
My current Writing
My own writing sample this week is inspired by a family photo. Two boys wandering down a dirt road. No end in sight as the road curves through the trees. I hope you enjoy it.
My Big Brother is Scared
Two brothers sat in the hospital cafeteria. Seven a.m. The room bustled. Mostly OR staff in scrubs and disposable shoe covers, grabbing a fast breakfast before surgeries.
Jack Coffin, in his late twenties, nursed a cup of black coffee. His brother Danny, two years younger, wolfed down a tray full of food. Scrambled eggs, bacon, a bagel, a donut covered with powdered sugar. He too had a black coffee.
Danny said, “This is pretty good for hospital food.”
Jack laughed. “You’d eat shit.”
“With sriracha…maybe so.”
“Did I say this before?” asked Danny. “Congratulations. Your new baby is a beauty. Jennie’s eyes, I think. Don’t see much of you in her yet.”
Jack nodded. “We cut it close, didn’t we?”
“House to ER in 30 minutes, complete with police escort.”
“It would have been faster if you hadn’t attracted the traffic cop.”
“But I talked him into escorting us, right?”
Jack shrugged. “I’ll give you that.”
Jack drained his coffee. He squeezed the rim of the paper cup flat between his fingers. Started folding the edges over.
Danny watched him. “Can I get you another coffee?”
Jack shook his head.
Danny said, “I overheard the doctor say Jennie can go home tomorrow morning.”
“The baby has a touch of jaundice. Just observation. Then we’re home.”
He tore the rim on the coffee cup. Peeled it down the center.
Jack shrugged. “Maybe.”
“It’s all good,” Danny said. “Mom and baby are fine.”
Jack looked up at the far wall of the cafeteria. A TV screen displayed an episode of Property Brothers. He stared for a long minute. Nodded in the direction of the TV. “Reminds me…I need to finish the wallpaper in the nursery.”
“I’ll help you. We can knock it off in a few hours.”
Jack continued to stare. He turned and looked hard at Danny.
“I’m scared shitless.” He ripped a chunk from the coffee cup.
Danny pulled his donut out of his mouth. “Huh?”
A couple of tears oozed down Jack’s cheek. “How am I going to do this?”
“Be a father. I don’t know anything about being a parent. Zero.”
Danny smiled. “Wow. My big brother is scared. Never thought I would ever hear those words.”
Jack tilted his head as he stared at Danny.
“Seriously, Jack. You have always had my back. Covered for dad when he was such an asshole. You held us all together for years.”
“I can’t do this.”
Danny reached for his phone. Opened his photo app and scrolled. He turned the phone so Jack could see it. “Remember this shot?”
The photo showed two small boys, maybe six and four, from the back as they walked along a dirt road. Trees dwarfed them, framing the road and arching over it. Ahead, the road curved into the trees, so the boys could not see where the road led.
Danny said, “Do you remember what you were saying to me?”
“I was scared. I couldn’t see where the road was going around the bend. You were telling me not to be scared.”
“I kept walking because of you. I wanted to go back.”
“I don’t remember.”
Danny pointed to the photo.
“This is you and me again. Except we’re sitting in a hospital cafeteria…And you’re the one who’s scared.”
Jack nodded. Tore off another chunk of the cup.
“You have a brand new baby girl, and you can’t see around the curve in the road. You have no idea where you’re going.”
“You got that right.” Jack pushed the cup shreds to the side.
“And I’m telling you, right now, don’t be scared.”
“Shut up. Hear me. Don’t be scared. You can do this.”
Jack smiled. Weakly. A smile, nonetheless.
Danny held out his phone. “Let’s do a selfie. We’ll remember this moment in eighteen years, when your girl graduates from high school.”