1. Like Shattered Glass(Turn on Gardens of Aranjuez from Spotify Focus Sessions if you have it. Play and listen, than read.)
In a country well governed, poverty is something to be ashamed of. In a country badly governed, wealth is something to be ashamed of.
Tulip's wail jolts me awake. I pull the satin pink covers over me and try to block out her scared moans. A cramp in my left leg tightens and my legs complain as I reach out to her. It almost seems she is reaching out to me.... I try to adjust to the dark unfamiliar feel of the room in the dark. I glance up at our rusty clock, but can't read the time in the darkness of twilight. What I can see is my five year old sister, Daffodil, crawling over to Tulip's side of the bed and whispering, "It's okay, it's okay, it's okay."
"Lotus," protests a drowsy Tulip, who is four, half submerged in the lake of unconsciousness. Blossom, who is seven, the oldest of the bunch, is sleeping like a log, even though evening air pours in through the open window, stiffly standing slightly ajar. Fireflies appear, like portions of the sun, outside. Daffodil is preoccupied and forgets her task of shaking Tulip awake. I crawl over and lightly shake her. Tulip's eyes quiver, then slide open slowly. She lets out a slow sigh. "Lotus.... Lotus...." "I'm here." I sound anxious. "I had a nightmare They came to get us. They took you away, and They killed Blossom, and.... and...." "Tulip." I'm glad it is so dark she can't see my eyes brimming with tears. "Tulip...." My voice cracks awkwardly.
"It's okay. They aren't here. Everybody is fine."
Tulip smiled, a faint smile, and I see the curve in her lips through the darkness. I feel around for the small box next to our bed, and find it. I remove a small object from the box and light it. The match comes alive, orange flames sprouting from it and illuminating the eerie darkness. The smell of smoke rises, and Tulip does her little famous cough, an "Uk." I raise the match, following the flame. I look around. The clock reads two fifteen in the morning. "Tulip, I'm here," I whisper, putting out the match and dropping it to burn in a deathbed of cinders and ash on the metal floor as I fall quietly to sleep.
Mornings for me are like knowing you are going to die. Knowing you will go another day starving and desperate. I sigh, step next to the burning match, and glance at the clock. It is six forty five. I pull on a loose blouse and too tight black pants. I feel like I am suffocating through my legs. I give Tulip, Blossom, and Daffodil a kiss on the forehead than walk down the hallway. I grab an apple and bite into it, walking outside into the dawn air. A girl from across the road, Liza, smiles at me as I walk by. I smile back, showing a bit of teeth, but then continue onward. My steps are almost mechanical. I meet up with four boys about my age. One of them, with dirty white hair, has ribs like arrays of sticks, but is still handsome. He gives me a bit of a smile, then starts climbing the large dusty cliff that looms in front of us. I climb up it right behind him, stretching up my arms to grip crags of rock. The cliff digs into my arms and scrapes them, drawing blood. Dark red runs down my arms. I am high off the ground, but i convince myself to keep on climbing. Thoughts push me forward. Blossom trying to create a kite out of maple leaves that drifted away, past the great oak tree, trailing behind the wind, that laughed at it, saying "Catch up!" Daffodil bathing in the lake while throwing fistfuls of stones at me as I lay drying in the sun, calling it "Stone Catch." Tulip singing the most beautiful poems ever, the ones my mother made up, such as "When a tulip grows, it parts it's silky lips, just like a rose."
When I reach the the top of the cliff, dark streams of red fall down my arms. I hear a scream below as a man falls, and an "Oof" as he grapples with his hold on a crag. I gather berries and figs down the cliff, occasionally meat. It is perilous getting down and up the cliff, and I struggle. Many people die when they fall from the forty foot cliff. The lucky ones only break their arms or legs.
How much more time will I have to be lucky?
Once, there was a princess. Nobody knew her name, or where she was from, but she floated down the Sarapet River in a basket from she was two, rejected by her mother, horrified she hadn't bore a son. This princess believed in world peace. While a terrifying war raged on, sending her town of Sarapet into chaos, she protested. Her husband said this would be seen as a sign of weakness if they declared world peace, and it would be like holding up a sign that read "Steal from us! It's so easy!"
The princess insisted they wouldn't be surrendering, only trying to create a truce that could save the world from war. Her foster father agreed. Her husband said it was a useless idea and he wanted the war to continue so he could rise to power. The princess thought the prince was selfish and sent warriors out to die easily because of his dream. Her foster father was a wise and kind man with a ginger beard and a face full of whiskers. He agreed it was a good way to end the war. The husband said it was foolish.
The king declared he would ask to make a truce. The next morning he was murdered. The husband insisted it was the warriors from the other side and pointed out how he knew this would be a bad idea. The princess saw through his lies. She snuck out in the cold and dark to try to make the truce herself. She got lost on her way and was never seen again.
It's a cruel world.
Sometimes, I feel long ago my life shattered like glass, fell apart, dissolved, decomposed itself and slipped into nothingness, like an ice cube becoming water. And now, the pieces are close together, like a jigsaw puzzle, as I strive to keep my sisters safe.
Like shattered glass. My life.