(Quickie writing exercise #2)
Mama’s baking again.
She does this when I keep her up at night.
She tried so many times to pass her baking skills on to me, but I was more interested in my brother’s building toys and instruments. “Not natural,” she would say as she snatched the plastic power tools from my little hands and tied a flowery apron around my neck and waist like shackles. “Little girls shouldn’t get dirty,” she’d tell me and then proceed to make a mess of herself and everything around her with flour and oil and chocolate and dishes.
One stormy Christmas morning she gave me a toy oven. I cried and cried because I thought I was getting a drumset that year. She cried too and asked what was wrong with me. She sent me to my room with the stupid toy oven and told me I could stand to learn a lot of things, including gratitude.
Alone in my room I opened my windows so I could hear the thunder and feel the mist of the rain spraying into the stale inside air. Mama hated when i did that because it made the floors wet and messy, and she hated messes.
I took the oven apart and rebuilt it a couple times, trying to make something more interesting out of it….maybe a time machine or a rocketship. A time machine could make me older than seven and I could do whatever I wanted. I figured out that the heating element needed more power if it was going to be of any use even as a stupid oven, so I worked on that for a while… even managed to take apart a lamp with some tools I had hidden under my bed. The wires and tiny parts inside of other things were fascinating to me. I took apart anything I could get my hands on that might have some kind of power source and put it all back together as an all new masterpiece. I didn’t know what it would do. It looked like a clumsy robot with an oven for a face. He was cute, and if nothing else he’d make a great friend.
The floor was nice and wet now, Mama was sure to be angry about that… but maybe she’ll be proud of my new creation.
Lightning caused a power surge right when I plugged him in. The water on my hands and feet seemed to become alive like fireworks. I felt like fireworks inside and out. Suddenly I wanted my mama more than I ever, ever had. I opened my mouth to scream her name but all that came out was light.
That was the day everyone stopped seeing me or noticing when I was around.
That was the day that Mama started crying and crying and never ever stopped. Sometimes she would put a smile on her face because people told her she needed to stop crying. People kept telling her I was in a better place and she could stop hurting. But she knew what I knew. I was right there. Right there watching her bake. Trying to learn what she wanted to teach me. This place I was in, it wasn’t better… it was lonely… and I wanted my Mama.
Baking was the thing she was good at, and she wanted to share it with me. She wanted me to be impressed with her. She wanted me to want to be like her, even just a little bit. She just wanted me to make cookies and like it. I wanted to take the robot apart and fix the oven so Mama and I could play with it together, but my hands couldn’t touch anything anymore.
Sometimes I’d lay with her in her bed when she cried herself to sleep and whisper into her heart that I was ready to learn. I’m right here Mama, and I’m ready to learn.
Those were the nights she couldn’t sleep… when she could almost hear me whispering into her. She would wake up screaming and then go right to the kitchen and start to bake.
One long night Mama had been tossing and turning listening to the storm that was raging outside. I curled up as close to her as I could get and breathed into her hair. After a hard cry she dragged herself heavily to the kitchen and tied her pretty dirty apron around her neck and waist like shackles. She opened the windows and the sliding kitchen doors and let the rain and wind inside. When the lightning flashed she could see me standing there in the open door way…
when the lightning flashed again she could see my robot oven creation standing next to me.
“Baby…” she whispered.
She stepped slowly toward me and my easy bake monster and took my hand.
and we were together again.