Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Short Story- "Stella" Pt. 2

Oh, but you’re probably wondering how it all started. It was innocent and simple at first. I was an only child until I was 11 years old. I had a good life and a great upbringing. My mom didn’t work and I had three sets of adoring grandparents. Yes, three. My mother’s parents had divorced and remarried, so lucky for me-grandparents were everywhere! I always had lots of pets like white mice, hamsters, a turtle, a dog and a cat. I was a quiet, solitary child happiest when I was alone with my imagination. I liked to draw and color and would spend much of my time on the living room floor on my stomach, propped up on elbows in a patch of sunshine that came through the window. Everyday it was in the same place and it felt so nice on my hair. My crayons were always spread out around me like a rainbow because I wanted to see all of them at one time.

Jiminy Cricket became part of my life when I was around 4 years old. My aunt Betty took me to see Pinnochio at the local theater in Jamestown and he came home with us. Jiminy Cricket was a character that accompanied Pinnochi on his adventures in his quest to become a “real boy”. The Blue Fairy was the one who made him Pinnocio’s conscience, to guide him and teach him right from wrong. I find it odd now that I did not develop an affection for the Blue Fairy, or Pinnochio, but with a cricket. I was a strange child.

After seeing the movie, I spent my time talking about Jiminy Cricket, who sat on my shoulder. I knew really, that he wasn’t there but I pretended. I suppose I was lonely in some ways.

For weeks I walked around with shoulders straight and stiff so he didn’t fall off.. Jiminy had to be consulted about everything-from what to eat for dinner (do we really want to eat those beets?) to the color of the rubberbands on my braids (one blue and one green is good, right?). Whispering in my ear, Jiminy was friend, confidant and advisor. Like Pinnochio, Jiminy steered me in many directions, sometimes not very good ones,but nothing all that bad. My parents and grandparents played along with this. After all, imagination is good in a child, right? Oh, if only the cricket had stayed.

I don’t remember when Jiminy Cricket left my life or why, but it was around the same time that the nightmares started. The dreams always had a common theme: being bound, held too tight or wrapped up in something so that I couldn’t move. I had lost total control in these dreams: of my body and of my mind.

The dreams were always dark and shadowy, eerily quiet and very scary. I had these dreams quiet often and it didn’t matter if it was at night when I was alseep, or if it was nap time during the day. They still came. Time after time, I would wake up with tears streaming down my face, heart racing and my hair sticking to my face.

I never could explain them to anyone with my limited 4 year old vocabulary.

How do you express feeling stifled and smothered when you don’t even know the words yet? I could not verbalize the fear or what was causing this fear to anyone. I couldn’t explain the blood to them, or the pain.. It was there, it just was and it scared me because the dream, or something in it, had total control. It was around this time that my invisible “friend” made her appearance.

Friday, September 11, 2009

Short Story-"Stella" Pt. 1

I couldn’t get warm. Huddled on the sofa wrapped in blankets, I still shivered. I am sure if I had looked into a mirror, even I would have seen the desperation and fear in my eyes. I did not want to know. Knowing always hurt too much. Who ever said, “knowledge is power” was not in my situation. The question, “Where were you last night?” would open up wounds that had just started to heal over. I didn’t want to ask her. I knew that the blood on the sketchbook gave me the answer anyway. She could be very bad.

I loved her and I hated her.

I should call Dr. Franklin.  He had been a part of my life as long as I could remember.  I knew he would rush over here and try to talk to Stella. He knew about her; had in fact helped me meet her so many years ago. Only Dr. Franklin can get away with calling her “Estelle”. I have always thought she was just humoring him. She knows why he calls her that and secretly is amused by it.

Stella is everything I’m not. She is confident, bold and brassy. She’s an artist and fits the stereotype to a tee: talented, eccentric and temperamental. Me, little mousy Jessie…well, I am happiest with my cat and my books. I’m an author; children’s books mostly. Stella helps me out by illustrating them with bold and vivid drawings that children love.

Most of the time, Stella and I deal exceptionally well together. I normally don’t even know she’s been here until I wake up and find a stack of finished drawings in the studio we share. Sometimes I can faintly hear the music she plays while she works, but it’s usually very muted and I drowsily go back to sleep. Stella understands my fears and protects me as best she can.  Stella is kind but can also be very cruel when the mood strikes her.

The blood on the sketchbook proved that.

I shivered again as I gazed at the bloodied book. Should I open it? Should I put it in the studio and just walk away from what was inside? The last time I ignored Stella’s offerings I paid for it dearly. Tears welled as I remembered the heartbreak.  My shoulders tightened, as if someone was standing behind me, glaring at the back of my head. Even though I knew I was alone, I could still feel Stella’s fury simmering.

Sighing, I stood up and walked over to the sketchbook. Heart pounding and with shaking hands, I slowly opened it.  Stella is always so proud of her work and never understands my horror.

You see, Stella does not know that we share the same body.

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