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The day the hummingbird attacked us on the island, I had been whistling. I was thirteen, with long skinny legs and cut-off shorts, harper-blue leather hiking boots, and a tie-dye t-shirt, and I was hiking along a narrow sandstone bluff whistling the finale from the Firebird Suite. My dad, puffing behind me, kept laughing, and every time I turned back to ask why, he waved me onwards.

"Only my daughter," I heard him mutter. He was proud, and I had faith in his pride and myself. And the day is sealed jewel-bright in my memory, as detailed and perfect as the tiny lichen-and-spiderwebs nest we found by the trail, the two tiny breathing bodies within defended by their jeweled dart of a father.

I'm not that daughter anymore.

I pay lip service to it, of course. I still whistle classical music. I own a sailboat of my own. And I have plans, big plans. The world is at my feet.

But I don't go sailing with Dad when he asks. He rarely asks anymore. I bought a new mattress, instead of a mainsail. I'm saving for a laptop first, not the new rigging my boat will need. The world, literally, is at my feet, open to me and my little boat, and I'm not taking those steps.

It's winter, I tell myself. Next weekend, I tell myself. I need this time to rest, I tell myself.

I don't tell myself to maintain my self. To put in the effort, strap on my boots, and go back to that island by myself, and climb that bluff again and again until I have shaken years of sloth out of my lungs and my long skinny legs.

I don't tell myself to maintain my boat, to finish the projects I start. Two weeks ago, I spent two hours with Dad trying to free the old fuel tank from the bilge, wrestling with block and tackle and ten gallons of ancient diesel in the narrow, grimy confines of the bilge. I didn't feel like his daughter when I was the one to call it quits for the day, knowing it would be for the week at least. The tank is still in the bilge, and it was chastening to feel how weak my legs were from just a few trips up and down the ladder.

And I don't tell myself to have faith. Faith that I can do the work if only I make the choices. If only I can get out of bed, step up, and step to it.

Have faith.

This entry was written for <lj user="therealljidol", a Survivor-style LJ write-out. If you want to enter too, do so today! Voting starts tomorrow and will be a weekly thing until there is Only One. Wish me luck.

Date: 2011-10-24 01:41 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] baxaphobia.livejournal.com
It's amazing how the stuff of life changes our priorities. Maybe you'll get back to your boat again someday soon and enjoy the labor. Being out on the water just might be worth the trouble. Smile

Date: 2011-10-24 01:50 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] mymisguided.livejournal.com
I like your writing style. You did a great job at setting up the story, providing us with concrete details and grabbing our attention right off the bat.

Date: 2011-10-24 03:43 am (UTC)
shadowwolf13: (Default)
From: [personal profile] shadowwolf13
I hope you get back to your boat soon and feel like doing all the work that it needs. I bet it fills a spot that you didn't realize was empty. :)

Date: 2011-10-24 03:00 pm (UTC)

Date: 2011-10-24 04:41 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] whipchick.livejournal.com
Great opening, and your story makes me want to know more.

Date: 2011-10-24 07:01 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] everywordiwrite.livejournal.com
Hummingbirds are so beautiful.

Making this about what you aren't - such a good idea. All the "I don't"s work so well for this piece. I know that feeling - of not being the daughter I should - so well.

Date: 2011-10-24 09:27 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] noodledays.livejournal.com
the bittersweet here is framed with great affection - makes for a neat contrast.

Date: 2011-10-25 05:22 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] euphonious-13.livejournal.com
This is really thought provoking and begs for self-observation. Well done.

Date: 2011-10-26 05:51 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] basric.livejournal.com
Nicely done.

Date: 2011-10-26 08:24 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] alycewilson.livejournal.com
I like this musing on how life's priorities change.

Date: 2011-10-26 02:18 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] n3m3sis42.livejournal.com
Great post.

Date: 2011-10-26 03:10 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] nodressrehersal.livejournal.com
And the day is sealed jewel-bright in my memory... Great description. Strong writing.

Date: 2011-10-26 07:06 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] sketchybrunette.livejournal.com
Really well done.

Date: 2011-10-27 03:06 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] wolfden.livejournal.com
Nicely done!

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