18 June 2009

Some Fiction in the Works


(I'm not really sure where this is going. It's a first draft.)

I grew up in the rolling hills of northwestern California, near the border of Oregon. I often played by myself as a child, partaking in only-child activities, like reading books, and envisioning grand adventures. I remember reading The Chronicles of Narnia when I was eight years old and believing I lived there. The swelling hills and massive redwood tree forests were the stage for the whimsical inventions of my childhood. As far as I knew, I lived in the land of enchanted animals, those that hid the secret of grasping the beauty and rawness of existence in their black orbs of eyes and primal movements.

The imagination of only-children is often more exquisite than that of children with siblings. I had to weed though the masses of people to find my friends. I wasn’t born with them waiting outside the hospital room door, their baby carrot fingers fretfully grabbing hold of their mouths. There was no one waiting for me except my mother, no one wondering if they’ll like me, or how my emergence from the womb will alter their everyday lives. There wasn’t even a door to wait outside. I was born atop a hill overlooking the ocean. My mother was alone, as I often was alone as a child.

I still wonder today how she gave birth to me without the help of doctors, or family or friends. There was no one to scream to push, no one to hold her hand, no one to cut the umbilical cord when her body began to tremble from exhaustion. She said she chose for it to be that way. She said she wanted to be satiated with the pain and struggle of giving birth, that birth wasn’t an experience that should be dulled, or eased. But my mother was no masochist. She lived for feeling things deeply, for reaching her arms down the dark well of existence into the obscurity of life, and pulling out with her bare hands, the meaning of it all, that beauty, that rawness.

After giving birth to me, she walked down a narrow dirt road with the umbilical cord still attached to home nestled between two coves, right above the Pacific Ocean. Upon arriving home, she promptly cut the cord that attached mother to daughter, cleaned me, fed me, and fell asleep with me in her arms. She tells me her valiant story of my beginning often, as a reminder of how extraordinary I am. “There is strength in our genes,” she would whisper in my ear as a baby, “and flowing through our Hendrail veins.”

My name is Anna Hendrail. I live in Paris and I’m eighty-seven years old. I’m average height, or at least I was, and I couldn’t tell you if I am beautiful or not because I don’t know how to gauge things like that. Even if I did say, you would probably think I of me as modest or pretentious, so there is really no point anyway.

I haven’t many friends, but it’s possible my definition of “friend” is different than yours. I have one friend. Many others have come and gone over the eighty-seven years of my existence, but she has firmly cemented herself into my life and I have let her remain. I’m sure she would say the same about me.

I would say I’ve lived an ordinary life but only because I wish everyone could have lived a life like mine. In my eighty-seven years and counting, exquisite pain has made me human, loneliness has made me an individual, overwhelming beauty has flooded my brain with moments of bliss, and passion has tied a rope around my body and mind and pulled me firmly to it. There’s one thing you should know though, I’ve never been in love.


Steph G. June 18, 2009 at 4:26 PM  

Hey lady, thought I`d drop by and catch up on your blog. I love your photos and writing! I think the solitude is doing good things for your creativity. I always imagined that Peace Corps would give me that kind of solitary introspection, but it`s more like being stuck in a crowd. I wish I could come visit you! That place is gorgeous.