[mousepoet]: 243.Contest entries-prose.FFL-May

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2007-06-03 06:17:51
Contest Entry
short story
Free for reading
I could never remember when it was that May started to be thought of as my birthday month. After all, I was born in June, the month when the air was thick and golden with horseflies during the day, and glittering and alive with junebugs at night. It was unripe cherries and red-stained fingers and torn jeans and mud. Sometimes gray skies and rain-slicked pavement, the sidewalks pearl and the streets silver. Smog like yellow breath rising and falling on the hills, rounded lungs with gray-brown veins.

But it was May, the slight, ivy-green month that held my family in its fist and squeezed. My mother had carried me too long, they said. I should have been a May baby. See, see, my eyes were May-eyes, they’d say to company. Blue, blue and more blue. May-eyes. I shut them tight at scrutiny, or rubbed them until they were bloodshot and wild, until the company looked away, until I could almost taste the spicy heat of blood through my retinas. See, see, they’d say, look at that hair. Like fleece. May-hair. So I’d cut it short and uneven, I’d dye it, I’d tangle it. May-hair, May-eyes. Too much spring sitting bitter on my tongue.

I hated the month. It was stiff with anticipation, with summer hovering not yet close enough to smell. At least in June the heat, if there was any, was strong. At least in June the rain, if there was any, was hard. At least in June the summer was not anticipated, but tantalizingly real and close.

But they wrestled me down and pushed me into May, where I lay hot and smoldering below the fleece and behind the blue. You were such a fussy baby, they said, but we quieted you down, we cooled you. They didn’t see the smoke pouring out my ears.

When I was six I stole lunches at school. The teacher tried patience, then severity, then anger. I refused to speak, refused to look her in the eye, refused to acknowledge punishment. She raged and lectured as I ate peanut butter sandwiches lableled “Bobby” and drank juice boxes labeled “Karen” and looked at her, unblinking. She gave up and told parents to keep their children away from me. And so the years went by, each teacher passing the wild girl with the bloodshot eyes and uneven hair along to the next, putting me here and there, on that couch and this, with this doctor and that psychologist and a new pill in my hand every time.

So it was no surprise to anyone when I ended up in the high school’s behavior correction circuit. I was informed that I was a pathological liar with oppositional defiance disorder. ODD. They asked my parents when they had started noticing my symptoms. Between sobs and tissues and accusatory glares my parents made it clear that they had never noticed anything wrong with me. The school representatives were not pleased.
They asked me if I could remember the first onset of my condition. I smiled.
Sometime in May, I told them.

I visited with the family last week. The house is growing smaller with each passing year. There is ivy growing up one wall. On a nicer house the ivy would be beautiful, on ours it makes the house look sick. But I went inside, even though the ivy whispered and twisted and threatened to choke me. I went inside anyway. There, the family petted and prodded my face and hair. They touched and tugged, and if I looked out the window I could see the ivy, laughing quietly to itself. May-eyes. May-hair.

Now medication is thick in my head and heavy on my tongue. I can’t pronounce their names and can’t bring myself to stop. I’m not sure where the ones from the doctor begin and the ones from the family begin. They wrestled me down into May, into blue and gold and green. Such a fussy baby, but I’m quiet now. I left to make my own way, but they’re always behind me, wherever I turn, a new face, a new couch, a new pill in my hand. I guess I picked the blue one, but dreamland’s not what you remember. It’s not as clean.

My hair is pale and fine, and my eyes are blue, and if anyone asks, I was born in May.

2007-06-01 Eleanor: Wow. You write really well.

2007-06-01 mousepoet: Thanks, I really appreciate that.

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