by Barbara Elliott Carpenter
The sky is blue—not like the color stick in my toy box, but like the sign in the window of Gene’s Tavern, the one with the big blue mug that buzzes like a thousand sleepy bees. The sky buzzes, too. I close my eyes, and I can hear it. Zzzzzzzzzzzz…. The sound is softer than the blue mug, but I can still feel the tingle as it travels through my skin and touches my bones.
The overhead sun burns through my eyelids; and I can hear it, too. It’s different from the sound of the sky. The yellow-white sun hums—ummmm—like the far-off vibration of the keys on Grandma’s piano, after most of the song’s melody is gone. The hum becomes a sizzle. It creeps into my eyes and shows to me the tiny veins that hide in my eyelids, like a red road map.
I lie in the prickly, summer grass. It tickles my legs and my arms. Grass vibrations are louder than those of the sun and the sky. When I move, the little green blades try to stand up again; and they make a sound like wadded up paper when it begins to un-wad. I like the grass.
I open my eyes. The sky is so deep and so blue that I am dizzy, and I must squint for a moment. I keep my eyes open and watch the spiraling depths spin above me. Maybe the sky will get so heavy and so blue that it will fall and destroy all the other sounds. I wouldn’t mind, but I would miss the vibrations of all the little things that live in the earth beneath me.
My eyes close. It’s easier to hear behind closed eyelids. I feel the vibrations of life below the grass. Ants, worms, beetles, tumblebugs, and moles don’t care that I am lying on their roof. Sometimes I wish that I could burrow beneath the green sod and live in the damp, sweet-smelling dirt. Then the upper noises would be soft, and the vibrations would barely hum, just enough that I could feel them.
“She’s my kid, too, you know!”
I close my eyes tighter. I try to sink deeper into the grass, try to make myself small enough that the grass will be taller than I am. Then no one could find me. Daddy’s voice is loud and angry. His anger travels all the way from his mouth to his feet, and the vibrations seep into the ground. They rush below the surface, into the sweet, moist dirt. I feel the prickles, like points of hot needles, where they touch my skin. Unlike the pleasant hum and sizzle of the sky and the sun and the grass, and the good things that cushion me, Daddy’s sounds are ugly and dark.
“Oh, yeah? What if she isn’t?” Mommy screams at Daddy. Her strident voice sends jagged red streaks into the electric buzz of the sky. Crimson shards break away and disappear into the endless abyss of indigo. I feel myself becoming one with the sweet grass and all the little squiggly things that move below me. If I can just melt a little more, I can dissolve right into the damp darkness, where no one could see me; and the noise would be so muffled that it would no longer matter.
A car door slams. The vibrations reverberate through the air and fan out like ripples in a river. Even through my closed eyelids, I can see the sound warps they make, shimmering in an angry pattern against the blue sky. The car engine starts. Rage travels from Daddy’s foot onto the gas pedal. Time after time, he presses it to the floor of the car; and the soft bed of grass beneath me shudders with the sound of the racing engine and his wrath.
“I’ll see you in court!” He yells again, and then he drives away from the curb. Mommy screams more words at him, but I don’t understand them. All I hear are the vibrations they send through the air, jagged, hurtful motions that hit me like arrows from a bow. I feel myself grow smaller. I push myself against the grass. I want to disappear before she can reach me, before she can push her ugly, hateful words about Daddy into my ears. I expect to feel the vibrations of her feet coming for me, but she goes back into the house.
Slowly, the vibrations fade, until all that is left is the shining, hot hum from the sun, and the happy sizzle of the blue sky. Something hovers above me. I open my eyes, just a little. Swaying upon a tiny, pulsing breeze is a butterfly. I hold my breath.
Come away with me. I hear the butterfly’s thoughts in the air. Come away with me, and I will take you to a place where there are only soft sounds and sweet vibrations.
Okay, I tell her. I will go with you. I feel myself become smaller and smaller, until I am no bigger than a tiny bug. Carefully, I climb onto the silky butterfly wings. Together, we move gently upward, gradually flying higher into the electric blue sky and the shimmering sunlight. Soon there is nothing but motion and light, beautiful vibrations that go on and on and on….
During the past seven years, Barbara Elliott Carpenter has published a well-received three-book series, Starlight, Starbright...; Wish I May, Wish I Might...; and The Wish I Wish Tonight. Her latest book, released in September of 2008, is a biography, Without a Quarter in My Pocket, the memoirs of Dr. Secundino Rubio, MD, who escaped from Castro's Cuba in 1961.
Her storys have appeared in Chicken Soup For the Soul books, as well as national magazines and a medical journal in Canada. She is a prolific writer, with four novels in progress and many short stories, poems and articles appearing on numerous online publications. Reach her through her web site: www.barbaraelliottcarpenter.com or