workman in the light

There is nothing particularly interesting about Workman. Just in the thick of the boredom of being a single thirtysomething, just tall enough to change a smoke detector without a chair, and with less hair than before. He works 9 to 5, collects blackened coins from the ground, and is friends with all street animals (that is stray cats, rabid squirrels, schitzo mice, and dirty rats, to name a few).

He fits into the world by being a wall, holding up the house, but often pinned over with more colorful and exciting things.

Things that will eventually, fade and crumble away…

he slumped out of the small office meeting room, eyes to the floor. the interviewing team seemed uninterested and unimpressed with him. again.

we are happy having you in the basement, you’ve been doing a wonderful job there the past few years. if a position is available in the front, we will be sure to let you know

he wanted to see the light. 

walking into work everyday, the most enchanting part was seeing the stream of sunrise come through the curtains in dusty lines. it sounded a lot better than being underground in the green-yellow fluorescent lit basement.

but apparently, today was not the day.

so Workman went back to work,

taking the industrial elevator down, watching the last bit of natural light disappear with the doors.

it was late afternoon. Workman finished his shift and decided to walk home instead of taking the train.

it was a pleasant early fall day, the sun barely hanging in the sky, warming everything that stayed still in its sight.

the sidewalks were empty, which was not rare for this place.

people cared too much about staying in their tidy suburban homes than visiting the city these days. Workman crunched red and brown leaves under his feet. ahead, there was a small rustling in a twiggy bush. a pigeon with two stump feet was trying to eat a bottle cap, flipping it with each peck.

bending over to help the disabled bird, Workman rustled through his backpack and took out a sandwich bag filled with dry, brown crusts and offered some to the bird. curious, the pigeon pecked, and then grabbed the whole piece and jumped back into his bush. 

Workman dumped out the rest of his crust and continued walking.

Workman lived on the bottom floor of a short, brick-walled apartment building. inside, it was neat. a paper thin magnet of dust seasoned every belonging. that was the consequence of living in the city — constant construction means constant dust, no matter how often you try to wipe it away.

he pulled a 30 minute lasagna from the oven, and sat at the small square table in his small square kitchen and opened up the small window by his head to let the city in. cars rolling by, high heels and brogues snapping on the concrete ground, and a cat, softly peaking in.

a dirty yellow cat with a bite out its ear poked its head through the window, drawn in by the

lasagna.

Workman extended a hand. tentatively, the cat sniffed. Workman scooped up a bite of the store-made meal and offered it to the stray.

it flinched at first, then slowly, slowly tasted the offering and bit off a chunk.

the cat eased on the edge of the window, and Workman split his dinner with a new friend.

a light rain and gloom fell onto Workman the next morning. nothing too bad to walk through, so he went about on his way to work.

before he got too far, a small black circle in the center the cement caught his eye. with just an edge of copper showing, Workman bent down to pick up the dirty penny. as he crouched, a small black nose poked it’s way out from behind some trash cans.

he turned just his head to see what was attached to the nose, but it retreated.

Workman slowly rose, and walked steadily over to the cans, eyes low to avoid the rain sprinkle from falling into them. A quick rustle let him know that the little nose had scurried further away. he stayed still, patient to see if it would return. it didn’t.

Workman came back with a plate of eggs and sausage, and an umbrella. he sat next to the trash cans, nibbling and staying dry.

the nose returned, this time attached to a matted brown dog, who sat at his side, asking for a bite. Workman lowered his plate to the pup, who licked up the breakfast in a matter of seconds.

as the two sat on the curb, the drizzle turned to an even lighter mist, and the clouds cracked, sending beams of yellow light through the haze, warming Workman’s face.

Workman stood and continued on his walk to work, umbrella tucked under his arm, and a little black nose following not too far behind.

 

x

childhood cancer

There was fear, when they told her it was cancer. But also a young boldness that everything would be ok.

Lee and her two sisters sat still on the couch, sandwiched between their parents, not knowing what to say or how to react.

Then May started crying.

Mom got up to comfort May, to tell her that it was good that they caught it early, and the doctors were already working on what to do. Mom and Dad were getting second opinions, things might be OK.

Horizontal black bangs, and a shrimpy size of the second shortest in the class, the things Lee cared about when she was ten were simple. It was September, and she had just begun fifth grade. She loved playing with her dog, play dates with friends, and drawing with chalk on the front driveway.

She had an easy, sheltered life.

So when the bombshell of cancer invaded her small world, she didn’t know how to take it.

She felt like she should be more sad. Why didn’t she cry when she heard the news like May?

This was DAD after all. Mom said he was too young to have cancer. Lee didn’t really understand what that meant. She didn’t really understand cancer. No one was telling her how to feel, or what to do about it.

It seemed like Dad was becoming a superhero. He took time off of work and picked Lee and her sisters up from school more often now. He worked on things around the house on the weekends and went running in the mornings and biking in the afternoon. During the day, he didn’t stop moving. He built a new vegetable box for Grandma in the backyard and had Lee and May carry bags of dirt in with him to dump.

He didn’t seem scared.

In class one day, a girl said a joke.

What did one unemployed cancer say to the other?
…Let’s get Jobs!

Lee didn’t get it.

My dad has cancer!

She said to everyone.

The teacher pulled her aside.

Prostate cancer.

Whatever it was, it wasn’t something that Lee or her sisters had to worry about getting, according to Mom.

Dad and I were the youngest couple at the support group yesterday

Mom said over cereal the next morning.

She said it with a laugh, as if she was retelling the plot of Modern Family last night.

It was odd to hear Mom laugh about Dad’s cancer. But slightly comforting too, to see that it didn’t just have to be a sad thing.

 

The day Dad had his operation, Lee and her sisters got to stay home from school. His surgery was early in the morning, and the girls all got up with sleepy eyes and slippered toes to hug him and wish him luck. He’d be done by noon.

Dad came home and went straight to bed, drugged and drowsy. He was home and he was OK.

A little while later, Dad got the results of his tumor. The doctors supposedly got all the cancer out, and he wouldn’t have to do chemo. He would,

…Keep whatever little hair he has left!

Mom joked.

 

That was good news.

 

 

x

the blue and the pink haired fairies | storytime

hello again. happy monday!

step i: bleach

there were these two friends who thought they knew everything there was to know about hair.

it’ll be easy

the one with dark-hair said.

now, these friends were pretty different, but pretty similar, too. one had dark brown hair and the other had this thick mix of browns, and what she liked to think of as gold, but was really just light brown.

one day, they decided they were tired of their old hair colors. and they did something about it.

they got the supplies they thought they needed, and quickly found out that they were wrong.
they needed so much more.

fat bottles of powders and thick creams, and small bottles of nose-hair-singeing liquids, and mixing sticks and bowls, to mix with the mixing sticks the powders and creams and nose-hair-singeing liquids, to slap and spread out onto their unsuspecting heads.

what was so unsuspecting was how cold it would be.
and how itchy it would get.
and the burning. oh, the burning.
but the worst of all was how long it all took.
transforming hair from one color to another takes a very long time, and so patience was something these two friends learnt.

it took a week to get their brown heads blond.

cycles of bleach, day after day, the substances slowly sucking the natural oils from their scalps in between deep conditions, or feeble attempts at keeping the hair on their heads from drying out.

but they got it done, step one, and then got to move on to the next.

step ii: color

tiring of the process and lack of results, it seemed like nothing could excite them for what they set out for.

but then, the day finally came when they could add color.

pink… i want pink… one tube should be enough, right?

skeptical, but certain she could make it work, the previously dark-haired friend agreed.

when they got back home, they worked in the dark, empty kitchen all night, the previously dark-haired friend painting each strand of hair on the previously gold-haired friend’s head as best she could with the very little dye she had, as the previously gold-haired friend sat, watching movie after movie, and turning her head when necessary.

it seemed an eternity later, but at long last the previously dark-haired friend finished. the tube was squeezed dry, and every bit of coloring smattered onto the previously gold-haired friend’s small head.

then they left it in for thirty minutes, balled up in a hair bag, and let the hot pink to settle deeply into each piece of bleached out hair.

then

head in the sink
faucet pouring water from forehead to the tip of the hair
towel dried, then combed.
the previously-gold haired friend was now
pink!

it worked!

the pink-haired friend exclaimed. it was so exciting they whooped and whooped at the fact that they didn’t do it all for nothing.

do you like it?

the previously dark-haired friend asked.

i do! i feel… different somehow, too…

different? why, just because your hair is a different color?

no! i feel different… maybe it is just because my hair is pink… but maybe not… anyways… it’s your turn now!

the previously dark-haired friend pulled out a box with an obviously photoshopped model on the front.

well i want silver… and the picture on the box looks silver… but it’s called ‘smokey blue.’ should we do it?

looks good to me. let’s do it!

thick rip of cardboard.
wrinkle spread of the instructions on the table.
poke puncture of the shiny tube of coloring.
crap squirts of the gel into the mixing bottle.

shake shake
squeeze squeeze
spread spread
onto the one with the previously dark-haired head

this one took only twenty minutes to put in. another thirty-five to leave the dye on the hair for the color to attach to the hair, until it’s washed off.

a spot rinse, then full on shower.

when she got out, the mirror was too foggy for her to see what she actually looked like.
so she opened the door to air out the bathroom, and get dressed. when she went back in, an involuntary scream of shock .

it’s blue!

the dark-haired friend, who now had blue-hair, stared at it in the condensated mirror, water dripping slowly down the reflective surface.

she ran back into the kitchen, to show her pink-haired friend.

IT’S BLUE!

yeah it is!

and i feel different too… somehow… is it just because it’s a different color?

i don’t know… it didn’t feel different after bleaching.

hmm. that’s right.. well i’m sure we’ll find out in the morning. but it’s late. let’s go to sleep.

yes. sleep. yes.

the blue-haired friend and the pink-haired friend and their slightly damp heads laid on pillows and cozied up under many warm covers and slept a deep dreamless sleep.

step iii: magic powers

the pink-haired friend woke up first, in a bundle of blankets that took her a long time to free herself from.

but once she got free, she was astounded.

the pink-haired friend looked down from the top of a mountain of blankets. she did a quick spin, and looked up at her room… everything was huge.
the bed was the size of a building.
the blankets were spread across the floor the span of a football field.
and her blue-haired friend was just as small among it all.

the pink-haired friend ran down the blanket mountain – or thought she did. as she descended, it felt like she was floating. she looked down and saw that in fact she was! her feet did not even touch the soft ground.

oh my!

she exclaimed, and sped down to her friend, still asleep in the comfy mass.

she shook the blue-haired friend awake.
no budge.
she shook her again.
no budge.

so she summoned up all the energy inside her, and in one quick swoop jumped up thirty tiny fairy-feet in the air, and came back down, hand out and ready to slap her sleepy friend on the face.

but as her hand swiped across the blue-haired friend’s face, it went right through – like a ghost.

the blue haired friend woke up.

what are you doing.

i’m trying to wake you up! look! we’re small!

the blue-haired friend looked around, quite in shock.

how did this happen?

i don’t know.

she stood up, and touched her face.

did you just slap me?

no. well, yes. i mean, i tried to. my hand went right through you face. look.

the pink haired friend went to poke the blue-haired friend again, and as she did, her finger quite unmistakably met cheek.

hey!

what? that didn’t happen before!

and before the blue-haired friend knew it, the pink-haired friend was winding up to slap her across the face again, and as she did, her hand went right through the blue-haired friend’s face.

they were too in shock to scream.

are we fairies?

the pink-haired friend asked.

i think we are.

the blue-haired friend replied.

and so, the two of them walked and floated down blanket mountain, the start of a new life as small fairies.

step iv: montage of powers

the friends used their powers for fun. the pink-haired friend floating around, and the blue-haired friend walking through walls and things.

it was pretty cool.

and they went on many adventures that day.

the pink-haired friend flew up to the counter to retrieve a giant cookie, and the two of them devoured it, stuffing their tummies full of the sweet treat.

the blue-haired friend passed through walls and found interesting things within them. pennies, buttons, small crumbs and dried up flowers.

it was all very magical.

as the sun began to set, and the friends began to tire, they decided to do one last thing before falling asleep on blanket mountain.

let’s fill up the sink and go swimming! 

the pink-haired friend said.

yes yes yes! 

the blue-haired friend agreed.

so they stopped up the sink and filled it with water, making sure to add a bit of hot water so the temperature would be just perfect.

as the sink finished filling up, they jumped in, and quite suddenly, things got crowded.

the two friends began to grow at an unsafe pace.

not unlike a ‘grow your own dinosaur’ the friends got big, and ended up on the bathroom floor, very much normal sized.

they looked at each other.

your hair’s not pink anymore!

your hair’s not blue anymore!

they looked at each other again.

upset that the color did not stay for very long, but grateful for the adventures they had that day as fairies.

maybe they would do it again sometime.

but for now, their hair needed to rest.

they went to sleep in the bundle of blankets, and dreamt many dreams about magical things

 

the end.

 

x