On My Father and On Happiness

Another small hint fiction and a slightly larger story for you. I feel bad for not posting another story yesterday, so I’ll catch up today.

On My Father

He loves peanut butter,
He loves chocolate,
But he hates Reese’s.

On Happiness

When you ache
From all the times you thought you’d fail
And you were sure it was over;
When you thought you were stuck,
And that someone pulls you up.

Crest Glide

This story comes from an in-class assignment where we were given random objects and were told to write a personal story about whatever we were given. I ended up with one of the more random objects: dental floss. This is a short-short story, which is fiction, but based heavily off my own experiences. Enjoy!

Crest Glide

It happened the other day when I woke u and finished brushing my teeth. There were no individual, single-use floss…things? what do you call those? in the cabinet.

I thought it was odd having to go back to such a primitive method of cleaning my teeth. What was more shocking was where the little container came from: a small-to-medium-sized drug store called Genovese on the corner of Hempstead Turnpike and Hicksville Road. A.C. Moore is now in its place.

My father used to take me there when he didn’t have much of a choice. He’d tell me If I bring you inside, we’re only going in and out. No treats; no can I have this or that. Got it? But I, of course, would ask for Airheads and gummy Coke bottles, and, of course, I was told no. I wondered if this container of floss was something he had bought, perhaps a message of some sort.

Whenever I flossed, I felt like I was on top of the world, actually following the dentist’s orders. When I opened the container, to set the tone for the rest of the day, the floss, having been sitting in the cabinet for at least twenty years, was undone and trapped inside.

Car Crash

Sorry for the short break. I’m not done yet. I still have another poem for you guys. I hope your weekend was as good as mine was. I spent it upstate with my family and girlfriend, and it couldn’t have gone any better. I’ve never been happier.

Lately, I’ve been trying to write more politically with my poetry, but decided to take a step back from it. The other students in my poetry workshop are so incredibly talented that I really felt like I needed to try and write something better and more focused. After watching a horrifying video online after a shooting in Afghanistan. There was footage of a woman seeing either her child or loved one being carried out dead. She let out the worst scream I’ve ever heard, shaking on the ground, her body unable to even process what exactly happened. I hope I never see/hear something like that again.

Car Crash

The pain of not
Being there to help,
Of not being there to find
The right words,
Will forever hurt
More than the pain
I felt in my heart
When she walked out.

Like lighting a fire with
Wet kindling,
Like holding back
From a kiss when you
Feel you have heartburn,
And you know
They need to feel your lips,
The one thing that
You can provide is
Love, but you
ruined your chance.

As the birds chirp
Deep into the night
To no one in particular,
While the street lights shine
Their yellow light
On those just passing by,
A young father,
A former father—
Still a father?
He remembers the scream;
It pierced his ears
As they pulled her out:
Her mother’s scream,
And her body rocking
Back and forth
In the ditch, near the trees.

The crumpled car,
And the blood from her ears,
down her neck,
On the seat,
On her shirt,
On my hands, on my hands.

He walks away.
He can’t look back.
Mosquitos in the middle
Of summer, attack
His arms and legs,
The price—he feels
He has to pay.

He could have stopped her,
Said not to go, that he was
Sorry, he didn’t know.
It was just a joke,
He shouldn’t have said
That he didn’t care,
That she can’t love him back,
The love of her young life,
That he needed to go.

Take Off

Hi everyone. One day I’ll start a post without having to apologize for the lack of writing. I wanted to wait on this one, because I was waiting to see if I would make it back onto the website from last time. Turns out I did make it! Yay me! I have a feeling they’re publishing everything they get, but who cares? I enjoy doing it!

If you want to see, this is the link: http://visualverse.org/submissions/take-off/

If you’d rather just read it here, I’ll copy and paste the story. But it does go with a picture, so you should look at the link too! In other news, I decided that I’m going to start working on my first big story. I want to expand upon a story I wrote my first semester. I think it would have a chance. There’s something in there that everyone can relate to, and that’s my goal with my writing. We’ll see how it goes. The most I’ve ever written is thirty pages. This, I hope, will be much, much more. Enjoy the story below!

Take Off

The sun was setting, hanging on by a thread in the orange and purple sky. He stood at the edge of the dock all day watching the others. His reflection in the water was mocking him, too. His silhouette danced between the tiny waves blowing in the breeze. The more he waited, the more he psyched himself out, found reasons not to jump, why it was stupid to jump. It would be the end of the world if he jumped. He needs to learn to let the past go.

But what was beneath the surface? Would he see schools of colorful fish darting between the coral? No, because it’s late. All the other children have gone home. All the fish are hunkered down in their rocky homes, waiting for the sun to rise again, hoping he won’t jump, taking bets. He thinks about the lack of sun. How would he get back to the surface? He never could float.

I silently watched him from behind. I was there before. “Shit or get off the pot,” my father would tell me. And I’d cave. Every time. I sat silently, camera in hand, the battery going down with the sun. I wanted him to jump. I thought he would. He was not the type to let things go unfinished. Just wait him out. Don’t look. Give him a chance.

He bent down and raised his arms up like the seagulls still scavenging the dock for leftover sandwiches left behind by screaming children and sleepy parents. It looked like this would be it. If he didn’t do it now, he never would.

As a parent, you want to go up to him and explain how this would be the moment that defines who he is as a person, and give him a little push, words of encouragement, you want to let him know the battery is about to die on the camera, and that traffic will be the worst. But that familiar look of determination was in his eyes, he bent down as if he was going to jump to the moon. A smile grew on his face, his tongue sticking out. He refused to hit his head again.

From Bike Ride to Father

This is my 100th post! I never thought I would make it this far. It feels weird, but I’m happy the desire to write is just as strong as when I first started. Hope you guys enjoy.

From Bike Ride to Father

It’s been a long time since he’s gone on a bike ride. He bought the bike just for this occasion. Last time was when he was little, and he and his friends would go on all day excursions through various neighborhoods, through the bike trail, and along major roads, nonstop. That youthful energy came back when he picked up the bike from that seedy guy on Craigslist with all kinds of bikes piled in his backyard.

When he got home, he scraped off all the rust, repainted the frame, bought new tires and better breaks, and replaced the seat with an old one he had lying around. He takes its out for a test run around the block. After, he goes online and looks for trails.

He finds a fairly secluded trail that runs close to the border, but far enough away from the gangs and drug mules. The thermometer reads ninety-eight degrees. Weather channel says it feels like a hundred and five. Typical summer day. He goes anyways, bringing only one bottle of water.

She’s the only one left in her group. They abandoned her when they found out she was drinking the water while everyone else was sleeping, even her boyfriend. Twenty-three and alone in the desert.

They left her with the bottle they caught her. There wasn’t much left. It’s not enough. She knows that. She knows she’ll be dead in three days if she runs out. If it were really just her, she’d wait every other day to take a sip; sleep through the day, travel at night; catch scorpions and spiders and roast them over a fire. It’s too risky, though. The sooner she crosses, the better.

The bike couldn’t ride any better. He realizes halfway through the ride that the gears need to be replaced as well. Not a big deal, he thinks. The ride will be just a little bit tougher than usual.

At the edge of a cliff, he stops his bike to rest. He takes a sip from his water bottle and takes in the view. The fence, just a chainlink fence with razor wire, is the only sign of civilization in the area for miles.

As he goes to take a picture on his phone, he hears and feels a large crack underneath his feet. The cliff was never meant to be stood on, it being made of sandstone. Luckily for him, it’s not a straight drop down, but down he goes.

She hears a scream in the distance. It’s hard to tell how far it came from. Sound travels for miles in the desert. Assuming it’s the group, she heads towards it. They won’t let her back in, but they have the coyote who knows the way. Even if they catch her, what are they going to do? She takes a sip and follows.

Her stomach is desperate for something to eat. She can’t remember her last meal. Either just rice or just beans. Not both. And that was around four or five days ago. When she crosses, finds a job, and makes a little money, she’s going to roast a pernil and eat all of it herself.

No more screams come from the distance, but at least she has a direction. She knows it could be trouble, but maybe she can help, if anything.

He wakes up and realizes he’s on the floor covered in rock and sand. His lungs are so full of dust, he can’t even speak. Over to the left, the bike is laying on the ground, partially crushed by a boulder. He tries to pat the dust off himself, also checking to make sure he’s in one piece. Only one arm is working, the left one. The right, however, has a bone sticking out through the skin.

The sight alone makes him throw up. He looks again and the pain makes its presence. He tries to scream, but his lungs are filled with dust. The more he coughs, the more he moves; the more he moves, the more pain he feels. It’s a vicious cycle.

Oddly enough, the pain goes away as quickly as it came. He sees it as a blessing. His brain is telling him to move or he’ll die. There’s no time for pain. He can’t climb back up the cliff because of his arm, so he has to go around. The problem is that the cliff goes in both directions for miles. He chooses East.

Night is coming fast. There’s no place to hide around here. Before she was abandoned, they found a small cave where they could all huddle up and keep warm without a fire. The desert gets too cold at night to be without a shelter. If she stops moving she’ll risk hypothermia, so she presses on, using the colder weather to her advantage. If she keeps traveling, she’ll catch up with the group.

She only stops in the morning when she thinks she sees frost on a small patch of grass. It melts cleanly on her tongue and builds her confidence. For a split second, she believes she can make it. A small mountain appears just over the horizon. That’s where she will go. There, she’ll get a better sense of where she is.

Half way through the walk, the pain came back. He throws up again, wasting precious body fluids. Never before has he experienced pain where it literally knocks him to his feet. Every fifty feet or so, he rests to avoid collapsing again.

The sun is at its highest point right now. He rests on a  rock near the base of the cliff. He looks around and tries to find a place to make his climb. An old cattle path appears in the distance. He follows the sun-baked tracks up the cliff.

When he reaches the top, he finally heads back West. Up ahead, he thinks he can see the spot where he fell. From that point, it’s another ten miles back to civilization. He hopes someone is out on the trail with a phone to get an ambulance. Another ten miles with only a couple ounces of water left will be the death of him.

As he gets closer to the spot, he feels a subtle breeze, the first in a long time. He wonders where it’s coming from. A little further and he nearly falls off the cliff again. He is totally isolated. The rock collapsed on all sides. He can tell it was all attached at one point. The breaks at the edge of the rock match the ones on the other side. Again, he screams from the shock of almost dying, but also out of anger. How could it get any worse? He stares into the distance and sees something moving.

The second scream is encouraging. She managed to stay on the right path through the night. She begins to move a little quicker, knowing exactly where it came from this time.

On the cliffs, she thinks she sees someone looking at her. It has to be the group. She waves her arms, but gets no reaction. Doesn’t matter. She tries to yell, but her throat is too dry. There’s only a little water left, but she needs to get that person’s attention. That’s her ticket out. She drinks the rest and yells for help.

The sound of another person surprises him. What he thought was some kind of animal was actually his ticket out of here. He calls back and yells for help.

Twenty minutes later, they meet up. She doesn’t speak a word of English. He can only understand Spanish. He was never able to make the right connections in his head to transfer what he thinks in Spanish to actual words.

Immediately, he notices her stomach is bloated. She hasn’t eaten in over a week. She looks at the bone sticking out of his arm. The skin around it is already infected. She tries to smile like it’s not so bad, but she ends of bursting into tears instead. He tries to hug her, but she pushes him back. She doesn’t want that arm anywhere near her. He doesn’t blame her.

They find a path up ahead, but she’s in too much pain at this point to go on. He tries to encourage her, but there’s no use. She’s mumbling to herself. He can barely make out mother. He carries her to some shade and tells her to wait.

He climbs the rest of the way himself. When he gets to the top, he actually manages to find someone and wave them down.

“There’s a woman down there in a lot of pain,” he says. “Follow me.”

On the way down, they hear her screaming. They both rush down to find her. The ground is covered in blood. Her arms too. But in her arms she’s holding a baby. The cries are from the mother, though. Nothing from the baby, there are no signs of life.

They check to see if the mother is okay. Blood is pouring out of her. They try to stop it with their shirts, but it’s no use. There’s no way an ambulance will make it in time. She knows this, too. Her eyes give away her hopelessness. She hands him the baby. Muerto, he says. She never heard him, but the baby did. It woke up as if to prove him wrong, to give him a reason for all this trouble. He will not just be a hero. He’ll be the father he never had.

Out of Time

Hey everyone. I’ve been busy with work and my writing sample and I’ve also been reading constantly, but I finally found some spare time to write for fun. If you’re wondering what I’m reading, I just finished Great Expectations and started The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao. I’m going to use a prompt I found online: Describe 100 years of a character’s life in 10 words. Then describe the last 10 seconds of their life in 100 words. Hope you enjoy.

Out of Time

Time was not on his side, but he didn’t mind.

He never stopped doing what he loved, but his problem was that he never knew what he really loved. People knew they could walk all over him, including his parents, but they did it because they cared, he would tell himself. His mother told him to be a doctor, so he studied to be a doctor. His father told him to find a woman, and he did. He even had a child. This all plays through his mind as he gets closer to the light. Finally, an idea (what makes him happy) started to form, but it was too late.

Raising a Child With Down’s Syndrome and Autism

I’ve been going back and forth, deciding whether or not I should post this online. I wrote this for my non fiction writing class at Queens College and I finally figured that if I could write this and allow a professor–who knows nothing about me–to read it, there’s no reason why you guys can’t. I wanted it to be as honest as possible. I hope you guys see that.

 

Raising A Child With Down’s Syndrome and Autism

My brother Peter is 19 years old and was born with Down’s Syndrome and Autism. People with Down’s Syndrome are born with an extra chromosome. They suffer from mental disabilities (depending on the severity), and also suffer from physical problems, which include: being prone to seizures, having specific physical features like small ears and noses, and heart defects. Autism is a very common disease in the United States, where one in less than 100 children are diagnosed each year. People that suffer from Autism usually have problems communicating with other people and expressing themselves to others. My brother Peter is no exception to these diseases, making life tough for my mother and father.

Before my father retired, he worked in Flushing, New York as a Special Education Teacher for over 20 years. He was a teacher before Peter was born, so there was no direct influence between his birth and the decision to teach Special Education. My father needed the job because he had just been laid off as an English teacher and knew there were openings available. He found that teaching Special Education was a very depressing job because his emotionally and intellectually handicapped students were having a significant amount of trouble behaving, and there was nothing he could do to fix their problems. My father was able to come home to me and my mother, which relieved him from his stressful job. When Peter was born, my father felt worse about his life because he was forced to take a job that he did not want, and then come home to Peter, who has his own developmental disabilities. Although he could not escape this unexpected life, he learned more about the developmentally disabled at his job and applied it to raising Peter. Some of the things he learned, like having more patience with the children and controlling his emotions made his very difficult life a little easier.

My father did not know that Peter had Down’s Syndrome before he was born. It was shocking to my father and he described it as a “worst day of your life” moment. Unfortunately, Peter was also suffering from the effects of a bad heart. Doctors call this the Tetralogy of Fallot, which is described as: someone having a hole in their heart, insufficient valves, a small pulmonary artery, and thickening of the ventricle wall (National Institute of Health). These all lead to an insufficient supply of oxygen to the brain and can cause death unless open heart surgery is performed. The surgery was performed on Peter while he was less than a year old and cost my parents a lot of money that they did not have. My father said the operation cost about 100,000 dollars, but insurance and other programs helped bring the costs down. I asked my father what he thinks could be done to make these processes easier and he said that the government should have a bigger role in helping families like ours. It was very difficult for my parents to find out how to get help and where to look, which caused large amounts of stress and anxiety. If my father did not go so far to find out more about these programs, they would have been in debt and never get the opportunity to move out of Astoria, New York.

After Peter’s surgery and then being diagnosed with Autism a few years afterwards, the constant stress that comes with raising my brother never left. My father knew that he was not going to live the life he imagined and needed to figure out how to cope with the fact nothing could be done to change it. To successfully raise Peter, my father had to swallow his own ego and learn to be prepared for anything, understanding that Peter is the victim. My father said that he did not feel embarrassed about bringing Peter out in public, but struggled with the fact that Peter behaves the same way a regular baby would. If he needed to go to the bathroom, he would go wherever he was. He could only do so much to prevent this from occurring, like taking him to the bathroom beforehand; but if he has an upset stomach, there’s no way for him to say he feels sick and he will release his bowels. If we are in a restaurant, Peter yells like a baby that cannot speak, which often results in awkward looks from other people. There is no way for him to communicate to us and vica versa, which sometimes leaves us clueless on how to calm Peter down and prevent these situations from arising.

My father said that he never really looked to other families for any kind of help, advice, or inspiration for Peter, but understood that he was not alone. He felt that there was nothing that they could say to make him feel any better about Peter because he will still be the same. My mother likes to look to these families for motivation and inspiration, while my dad has a more realistic and honest perspective. My father knows that nothing will change, so he pays more attention to the positives that Peter gives us. An example of this is maintaining his childhood innocence. Like myself, my father understands that Peter is the “victim” and does not let his own ego control his thought process. He understands his role in Peter’s life and does whatever he can to give Peter the best possible life. My father also knows that Peter is a very loving child who is constantly getting better and better at showing it to us. Peter has maintained the innocence of a child that we all wish to get back, which helps my father get past the challenges of raising an autistic child.

Peter’s innocence comes in a variety of forms. One example is that he finds enjoyment in the simplest of things. This ranges from seeing someone else laugh, to watching Barney and various home videos. His expression of happiness is very contagious and always makes me feel better when I’m upset. Another form of Peter’s innocence is his ability to forgive. Peter is very good at finding ways to annoy me and my father. For example, Peter repeatedly plays specific parts of his movies for long periods of time at loud volumes. My father is a very patient man, but like everyone else, he has his braking point, resulting in Peter getting yelled at. Peter does get upset because he sees my father upset, but this only lasts for a short time. He never holds a grudge and will act like nothing happened after we play with him. Every day, Peter expresses his love for us, no matter what happens. We all hope to find someone like this in our lives and I am fortunate enough to call this person my brother. Many families might experience this with a new born baby or a brand new pet, but the dog cannot talk, and the baby grows up. Peter will always be the same, making him unique.

My father openly admits to being a very pessimistic person that often lets his anxieties control the way he acts. He understands that this is not close to what he considers to be an ideal life, but he never lets it get in the way of Peter’s life. He made the decision to keep Peter, so he does whatever he can to make him happy. My father feels that ego plays the most important role in raising a child like Peter because raising a child with Down’s Syndrome and Autism is an extremely difficult job for anyone. When asked about his opinion on families that choose whether or not they will keep their baby that is developmentally disabled like Peter, he felt that it is up to the parents to decide if they can put their own egos aside to focus their attention towards the child. He would hate to see a family keep their child because they feel it’s necessary, rather than actually wanting to. I share this outlook with my father and I think that this is the question every parent that faces this situation should ask before making a decision.

Peter is 19 years old with an IQ of a two year old baby. The reality of the situation is that he will never change, even when he is a grown man. My father and I understand this situation and try not to let it get to us. However, I wake up eager to see my brother while my father wakes up worrying about the possibility of cleaning his wet bed. He is more responsible for Peter than I am, which naturally gives him more anxiety, but also relies on me to help out by watching over Peter. Like my mother, I look at other families for motivation and inspiration, understanding that my dad is correct when he says that they cannot change our situation. There is so much your family can do to help you cheer up, but it’s very easy to feel like you’re the only one going through these issues.

Watching my father raise Peter and helping him when he needs it made me realize that the world is not the fairytale where everything works out perfectly. Like Peter, life has many flaws, but we can’t let those flaws hold us back. Sometimes we have to dig our feet in the ground and play with the cards we are dealt. By accepting Peter for who he is, and not worrying about how others might perceive him, the good that exists in him, like his childhood innocence and desire to see everyone around him happy, help make the seemingly impossible task of raising him a little easier.