Mayhem Literary Journal is generously sponsored for 2019 by Te Whare Wananga o Waikato, The University of Waikato

Seasoning - Melody Wilkinson

I remember the dive
I remember stinging sunburned eyelids and hating sticky ice cream cones
Mud and water skippers
I remember the ceiling fan; would today be the day it would fall and decapitate us all?
The babysitter and the chicken potpies
I remember the shoes with the red button on the heel that made me super fast
The slide dragged into the ditch 
I remember burned thighs from sticking to the metal
That lie I told

I remember hiding in the basement from the wind 
When the witch kept me prisoner in the shed. My only food: poison berries
I remember street lamps and bike wheels kicking up leaves 
Running from Bonnie in Sunday shoes and how they never quite made it up the playhouse ramp in time
I remember the Winnebago - flying in the bed up top
The whoosh through the trees I used to think only in Estes 
I remember Teddy’s Teeth
Clicking fingernails on ivory keys 
I remember I hate Stranger on the Shore
The failed lie for my sister - she never asked again

I remember the igloo - never finished - hands numb in the dark 
The blizzard when the snow from the roof met the snow on the ground 
I remember Grandpa’s sled - the fastest in the neighborhood 
The hill of death and the profanities it caused 
I remember creamy mac and cheese and mashed potatoes at Wyatt’s on Wednesdays 
Falling asleep to meetings in the living room; the way the prayers crept under the door 
The Australian and the shock that he had removed his shoes
I remember… even now the shame squeezes my head cold and my face goes red

I remember the reversible rain coat and the basket it arrived in 
Dyed eggs - the way they stuck in my throat - I always hated the white bit 
I remember the world tours in the red wagon - its squeak and the bumps that made my butt numb 
The flowers we pulled to sell and Mom trying to replant them with her tears 
I remember my frustration with watermelon 
its seeds interrupting its flavor 
the way it seemed to be everywhere 
gummy drips of pink clinging to my arms and my party dress
I remember the apology and how it was powerless to fix anything

Musings of an Aging Mind - Melody Wilkinson

Every year, around my birthday, I get very pensive and often have some deep, philosophical insights. This year it seems I have discovered fewer insights and more questions. I wonder, is this because I am getting more confused or smarter? Here are some examples:

  1. Is it okay to let pandas starve in order to get a smart phone? If you are looking for money in your budget for a smart phone and you notice that the monthly payments to the WWF (World Wildlife Fund) is almost the exact amount you would have to pay to have a smart phone, could it be time to let the Pandas fend for themselves? I mean, they have always been pretty good at finding food before. Can’t they just go back to eating bamboo? Do they have to have a three course meal every day? I know I am willing to go without food sometimes for the sake of my phone so maybe they will be fine…
  2. I wonder if, at my very core, I am a terrible person who would take money from pandas to buy a smart phone. The jury is still out. I still have my kindergarten phone but I have made the trip to the shiny phone store twice now…it’s starting to look ominous for the pandas… maybe they could start saving up? Like those doomsday preppers?
  3. Can we be dressed feminists or do we all have to be naked?  Can we be liberated and dressed? Do we have to be naked, riding on construction equipment in order to show how liberated we are?  I want my daughter to grow up free, breaking through all the glass ceilings, and not sexually repressed but I would like her to be able to do this while dressed. Is this not possible
  4. Why am I a sucker for shiny technology, even though I am pretty inept at using it? I like looking at it and pretending I know how to use it. I also say things like data and gigabyte and nod convincingly when others talk to me about these things. I have no idea what any of it actually means. Basically I just read their expressions: if they look happy, I smile, if they look sad or stressed, I frown. The only time this backfires is when my husband waves shiny technology in front of my face and then he and the sales guy do an interpretive dance about how my life will never be the same, and how I will rule over all computers and phones for only $1299.99! My eyes glaze over and I try to think of all the clever words I know, throwing in things like pixels and storage capacity. They continue to spin and dance around me. I watch as the salesman’s eyes grow wide (and a little shinier, weirdly) as he can sense my weakness growing. His eyes dart between my husband and me as we argue. He and Alan seem to be following some sort of script from a scene in a Broadway musical (you know, the ones where the two evil geniuses sing songs of advice as they slink around the hero, convincing her to become part of their diabolical plan even though she has no idea about their diabolical plan and they just keep singing “yes you can!” over and over as the orchestra builds until the hero is convinced that it is a solid plan and steps forward, arms raised to sing in declaration - “YES I CAN!” and the evil villains slink off, out of the spotlight, crouching and rubbing their beards in greedy anticipation of their crime and the utter demise of the Hero. You know; one of those scenes.) I finally cave and spend the money. But the heroine is bested in the end because, even though the shiny technology is pretending to work for me, it is carrying a secret weapon innocuously named "Windows 8". Which suddenly decides while you are editing very important, world changing literature that you would actually rather be looking at an alternative document. I yell and scream at my nemesis but it just smirks at me and reminds me that I asked for this when I purchased the computer, in the store, during a musical number, with two villains.
  5. Why does advertising still work? I mean, it is basically lying. What they are selling will not make us prettier, happier or spend more time with family driving off road. And besides, is that really what we want? Driving off the roads jarring your back and neck, killing local plant life and you’re smiling because you’re supposed to be so you bite your tongue as you go over a huge rock. Now you are bleeding but still “havin’ a great time!” And, if scientists really had worked out how to make us all thin, wouldn’t we all be thin? I love how it is always “as part of a healthy diet and exercise program!” Really? Your pill combined with a healthy diet and exercise program “Burns the fat away!” but not just the diet and exercise. And it’s “scientifically tested” Really? Amazing! I just ran my own scientific test. All the results aren’t in yet but initial data reveals you think we are all stupid and you want our money. So drawing from these incomplete facts this researcher feels that by projecting the estimated figures she can with 85% confidence state: you are evil.
  6. Speaking of which, can being a little overweight be okay, not great, but okay?  I would like to weigh less than the maximum weight that a firefighter can carry down a flight of stairs, you know, just in case… but we can’t have everything and sometimes I just want a damn piece of chocolate. (Plus, really body, I will throw you against the wall again if you don’t sort yourself out. I should be able to replace the calories from a meal with the calories in chocolate and you should not freak out. I mean, calm down, it is the same calories! You need to understand that I care about you and I will give you the nutrients you need. But if I want a double-shot mocha with whipped cream on top and I choose not to eat lunch you should be able to cope just fine. I looked up the calories: it is the same as the healthy sandwich! So calm down for fudge sake! Also, if you are hungry could you just snack on my ass or my belly or my arms or my thighs first THEN send the signal that I need to eat because really, it is all there, buffet style, so just fix it. Plus, you know you hate going to the gym so if you can’t sort yourself out I will drag you back there. You know I will, so watch it!)
  7. And on that note, this is not really a lesson but a desperate plea. To the skinny, perfect girls at the gym. Umm… could you stop coming? Why are you coming in the first place? Why would you spend money to get on MY bikes, put them on the lowest gear and then chat so loud that the entire gym can hear your conversation? Just to let you know, if you are able to carry on a conversation that loud for that long you are NOT getting a workout. So why must I be subjected to the dangers of the Stairmaster AND your ridiculous conversation about fattening foods and “OMG I ate so much yesterday!!!” while your bony ass sits on MY bike that I sweat blood on, when you could have gotten just as much accomplished at your local coffee shop? And as a bonus, you would have saved your voice because you wouldn’t have had to shout over the whir of the machines. Sorry, I am sure you are really nice? And I have no problem with skinny people sweating and running their asses off (literally) but don’t come to my gym in your cute little outfits, stay for an hour and never even break a sweat or get out of breath. It’s really insulting. Thank you for your attention – now you may go about your perfect, skinny lives. 

Contributor's Note

Melody Wilkinson is an RN BSN graduated Suma Cum Laude from Regis University in Denver CO where she grew up. She is currently writing a blog with the only goal to make people laugh. She received the Sam Barnes Award for excellence at Waikato University for her screenplay.

 

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