I’ve been trying really hard to be motivated lately. While preparing for my wedding, I’ve been working out every single day, sometimes twice a day. It seems that has taken all my strength – all the strength that I once used to be creative or try at something I really loved. And it’s not that I miss it, it’s that I didn’t even notice.
It feels oddly strange to be in this routine. I get up, I workout, I go for a walk, I drink my coffee, I go to work, I go to the gym, I come home, make dinner, then pass out on the couch. Night after night I try to will myself to write and I can’t do it. It’s the last thing I want to focus my mind on. I remember when I couldn’t wait for the day to wind down so I could go to my room and write. Things sure have changed.
I often ask myself why I still keep up this blog and I think it’s because it’s one of the only things that keeps me writing, in some capacity, for myself. A lot of what my job entails is writing, which is also why I seem to be getting burnt out. But this blog is different. It can be whatever I want it to be. The problem is I just haven’t been wanting.
So, as another effort to keep myself writing, I’ve joined a writing club at work. It’s pretty cool because we’re given random prompts that we pick blindly and have guide our writing. Two weeks ago, we met to discuss our submissions (which was my first). So, since I haven’t been doing anything with it since, I thought I’d share it here in an effort to keep myself in check and own up to it. Also, even though I don’t really have the means to do anything with it, I’d hate to think of it just rotting away in my Google Drive.
I’m aware that this may appear really dorky. But anyway, here it is. Enjoy, or something.
Subject: land displacement
Character: a high-school junior
Lee pressed her lips together and grabbed her arm. She gave it a slight squeeze, as to not intensify the pain but to in some way relieve it. The punch was hard, but she knew better than to wince at the impact. Now that she was alone, she could assess the damage, and if needed, react it to it. The bruise was forming but she paid it no mind, along with the others she had accrued during her time at training. She knew what she was getting herself into. In fact, she welcomed it. Anything was better than watching her family forced from their home, doing nothing as the new regime took what they wanted and left behind things that they saw as no value but had meant so much – pictures, heirlooms, clothing and necessities. In the short time that she had been at training, Lee had found a way to forget what it was like to care about items and things that brought comfort. It was hard at first, but now she managed quite nicely.
Just a year ago, Lee was sitting at her family’s dining room table. Her mother had prepared a big, white cake that had so many candles it looked like as if it were on fire. She didn’t know where her mother got the ingredients, and she didn’t ask. It was Lee’s 16th birthday and there were presents this year. She beamed as her mom placed them on the table, but her smile faded when she noticed each was wrapped in newspaper. It was a shame to encase these small, hopeful things in the propaganda and lies of the new regime. But items that were unnecessary, like wrapping paper, were almost a myth and not purchased anymore.
“Time to make a wish,” Lee’s mother urged, her face eager and anticipating. Her red hair, once vibrant, was now faded and gray. Like the world outside.
Lee closed her eyes and thought about what it was like before all of this happened, when she could wake up early and go for a walk in her neighborhood. Now, no one went outside unless it was to stand in a line.
She moved back to the present. All of it was just memories now. The cake, the presents wrapped in newspaper, her mother’s smile and her bright red hair. They were just memories of a life that was a million worlds away. This past year felt more like five years, and even though she had just turned 17, she felt like she was nearing 40. This year’s birthday was nothing like the one before. Last year was special, maybe the most special birthday of her life. But, it too was nothing like the ones before. Now, she lived in a world where there were no birthdays, no celebration of life. It was a constant battlefield and Lee was always being tested.
She pulled her hair up into a tight bun and grabbed her necklace from her locker. When she put it on, she remembered her mother’s face as she freed the box from the newspaper that bound it. She opened the lid and held the necklace in her hands, recalling the headline from the newspaper it was wrapped in. “Farewell To Arms.” She closed her locker and for a moment, imagined that things were normal. She’d be in her third year of high school, worrying about much more trivial things than what occupied her mind currently. Maybe she’d be closing a different kind of locker, one that housed books or magazine clippings, instead of the only personal belongings she still owned: toothpaste and a toothbrush, some hair bands, q-tips, deodorant and of course the necklace her mother gave her. Life seemed very bleak, but she wasn’t alone. She was surrounded by others who had also lost everything yet believed in what she did and wanted to fight till there was nothing left in them. They remembered the world before the new regime came to absolute power, and they held onto those memories because they were the only things that kept them motivated.
Lee made her way past her bunk, heading to the main field. Training was about to start for the day and the penalty for tardiness was an extra hour of cleaning. It was always a mixed bag, but Lee was in no hurry to see which she’d have to suffer through. She’d been late only twice before, once because she was ill and the second because, well, she wasn’t sure what it was. It was the first month she was here and she just couldn’t get out of bed. The alarm rang and everyone woke suddenly and started moving about, but she just lay there. She was thinking about the day of evacuation. That month, and the one following, she never stopped thinking about that day. The noises filled her head so often she lost count. They paralyzed her until she couldn’t remember if she was living it again or if she was simply remembering.
Babies and children crying, shots firing. Hot, heavy smoke everywhere, making it impossible to see where she was going. People pushing each other and screaming. The slow labored feeling of walking on what felt like soft foam, which she later realized were people, living and dead. The confusion associated with not knowing where she was going and understanding that survival is contingent on fleeing. These feelings, sights and sounds – the stuff of battle and war – were what she was learning to get accustomed to at training. But in those first months, her natural instincts were doing everything they could to fight it. She wasn’t sure why. Experiencing them once was enough and she welcomed anything that could promise indifference.
It was another day, one filled with the exact same curriculum as the one before. The monotony made living easier because it took out a lot of the guess work. Lee understood that now. It was a gift to know exactly what every day would be like. No surprises meant no shock, fear or panic. Yet there was a small part of her that remembered what it was like to be human. To run and laugh at the same time, to sit in the open, alone and not worry about being so vulnerable. To look at someone else and feel something for them. She didn’t fully recognize this new world and way of life, but she was trying. She would never forget how things used to be, but she was trying to forget how she used to be. She knew that would be easier.
Happy belated #InternationalWomensDay to you 🙂