This is the Life of a Redhead



Thursday, October 15, 2009

Mikey

Part 1 of a 3 part series.
*edit* Finished it. A weak ending, but it's meant to be acted out, so it won't sound as bad.
I'm going to animate (w/clay) a story to it.
The idea for this series was heavily inspired by the Australian artist Adam Elliot ("Harvey Krumpet")

Mikey

My brother had a good friend in the fourth grade, a scrawny boy named Mikey Winkler, who had straw colored hair and wore rugby shirts. They were not terribly close, but Mikey had been coming over to our house more and more recently, playing with our dad’s toy train set, and showing off yo-yo tricks: “around the world,” “walk the dog,” “time warp.” He knew them all. He was very good.

On Halloween Mikey had been walking home from trick or treating, a bucket full of candy in one hand, and his Duncan yo-yo in the other, spinning tricks in the quiet street. He was performing an amazing feat of completing the “Atom Smasher” while eating a fistful of candy, when blinding headlights stopped him in his tracks, and then stopped his heart.

My mother forced all of us to go to the wake, and I remember the large cross on the wall looming over Mikey’s coffin, Jesus staring down the room forcing us all to whisper and remain solemn. There weren’t many other children there, but my brother spotted Ben Friedman in the corner, a fellow Jew who did not understand this Catholic wake business, who was also distressed by Jesus and the nails digging into his outstretched hands. My brother ran to his friend and they stayed there in the corner, talking about Mikey, jealous that he would never have to do homework again, and upset that he would not be able to join them for recess on Monday.

I found myself standing in front of the coffin, looking at Mikey’s white face, which had ever so slightly been touched up. His lips were so red, the brightest feature on his face, looking so full of life compared to his colorless cheeks. He was dressed in a blue and green rugby shirt, the colors of our elementary school. They had crossed his arms and rested his hands on top of a Bible, and more peculiarly, a yo-yo.

It was an orange Duncan, the same one that he spun daily around the cafeteria tables. The toy was scratched, and there was a sizeable chip in it, but it had survived the crash. Mikey’s fingers were tightly interlocked, protecting his prized possession. Mikey would forever be remembered as the kid with the yo-yo, a boy who had fallen into a fad and took it to his grave.

I tried to look for Mikey’s parents, but I gave up almost as soon as I started because I had no idea what they looked like. I tried to spot a man or woman who looked more grieved than the rest, or perhaps was better dressed, but the sea or tear-streaked faces and black formalwear was too dense. I wondered how Mikey’s parents had perceived their son. He hadn’t been good at sports, and he wasn’t known for his brains. He was eight years old. What else did he have going for him?

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Austin

I hear the gravel crunch as Austin passes swiftly on his skateboard. His backpack is slung loosely over one shoulder, and as his body fades I see the back pocket unzipped, a black pencil case threatening to spill out. It balances carefully on the edge of the zipper, gently bobbing up and down as it continues on its journey. My eyes wander down his body, his tight jeans growing smaller, his shape gradually becoming less perfect and more blurred as he skates down the street.

I trip on the sidewalk. I hear a girl click her tongue as I balance myself on the uneven concrete. She has dark brown hair, orange skin, and black leggings that seem to be painted on squeezing her thighs. She rolls eyes at me before she turns her head, watching Austin shrink. Her makeup’s all wrong. Her eye shadow’s smudged. She’s wearing too much concealer.

She waves to Austin, her cold expression cracking into desperation. He does not turn. She calls to him, once, “Hey!’ His body is a speck in the distance. Again, louder, “Hey!” His body is microscopic.

When I pass her, I glare. She catches my look, and bumps me with her purse. I let my fingers wrap and tug around its long leather handles, and then she is picking up mascara from the sidewalk, hissing at me, spitting out colorful words. I am a slut. I am a bitch.

I think about the last time I saw Austin. In class, his friend with the blond curly hair nudges him in the side, chiding him for not coming out the weekend before. He’s whipped, tied down to his girlfriend. Austin smiles nervously. Is he going to marry her? No, he laughs, of course not, his hands twisting and turning, his fingers winding into the loose threads from a tear at the bottom of his jeans.

My mind wanders as I turn the corner, reaching the front steps to my apartment. I walk upstairs and immediately crawl in bed with my shoes still on, and wrap my arms around Patrick, who is wrapped under the covers snoring lightly. My hands caress his bare chest and I smell his hair, which always smells of jasmine. He mumbles a bit, and turns his body to face me, half-opening his eyes, groggily looking at me. I ask him to promise to never fool around with another woman. He does. I ask him to promise to continue loving me. He does. I ask him to promise to never to marry me. He does.