This is the 3rd writing prompt story I wrote (see last two posts for the first two) from the virtual writing group I'm apart of. The prompt for this one was to "Write a short story 500 words or more, based on this phrase: “We all draw the curtains closed at night and never leave the house until dawn. We don’t know why, it’s just always been that way” OR! “The ice cream man is hiding a secret.” I decided to use both prompts in various ways.
A l l throughout my childhood I had many reoccurring dreams, but by far the most frequent involved me going outside of Mama's house in the morning, grabbing onto a huge collection of balloons and floating up into the sky until I disappeared to the tune of the ice cream man's truck. It's not hard to decipher my desire to escape from the chaos and filth of my waking reality. As the oldest child, I was responsible for watching my sibling and making them food with whatever I could pull together. One day I found some cash stashed under the couch cushions, so when the ice cream truck came around at 6, I ran out and splurged on cones for each of us. The ice cream man was in his 40's with a bulging tummy and skinny limbs. He dressed like his Mom picked out his clothes for his 4th grade school photos. He would never smile or look you in the eyes, but always asked for your name and once you told him, he never forgot it. "Jimmy," he would say, "What can I get you?" Then, he would look toward the house as my siblings came running and he'd shout, "Hurry up Cynthia, Muppet, Sonny, and Mariah!" I was amazed. I never could recall his name.
D r a w ing came naturally to me as a child. In 3rd grade I was asked to submit my drawing titled, "The ice cream man is hiding a secret" to a competition. The drawing depicted our ice cream man hiding a puppy who would sneak licks of the ice cream cone before he handed them to the kids. I didn't win and was so heartbroken I vowed never to draw again, but then, couldn't seem to keep myself from doodling anyway. Whenever my Mom asked to see what I was drawing, I would tell her I wasn't drawing, I was writing in code and one day my code would be deciphered and the whole world would know all the awful things she had done. She just stared at me with genuine fear for a few seconds and then started laughing.
T h e only thing you really need to know about me is that I’m 27 years old now and I don't know how to function. So if you could help me with that, I would like it. Also,
C u r t a i n s still make Mariah scream and she's 17 years old now. If you fix me, I’ll send her to you next. So, what do you think, Doc? Is this going to be an easy open and
C l o s e d case or am I just fucked for life?
A t some point last year I realized I couldn't keep going like this and I couldn't get past my fucked up past by myself, so I needed to get some help. I've been to 12 different people since then, and none of them worked out for one reason or another, so I guess you could say you're my last hope.
N i g h t time appointments are hard, I know, but I’ve learned that doing my therapy at night confronts the issues best. The trauma just hits different in the dark, ya know?
A n d ...No, that's it. You go, you talk now. Uh, please. Paul? Dr. Paul?
N e v e r underestimate how insulting it is to have your therapist fall asleep on you. I mean, I know it's late and everything, but damn. Fine. I'll just
L e a v e.
T h e
H o u s e will be quiet, cold and dark when I get back home. It's just Mariah and I left. Mom died two years ago... On purpose or accidentally they don't know. Anyway, she left the house to me. I was always so harsh, judging my Mom when I was kid because we didn't have a clean house or normal furniture like other families. But now the house is my responsibility and I don't think I’m doing any better than she did--I mean, maybe a little better... But fuck. I don't know how to make a house a home, how to keep up a household. I bought a nice, new couch--when I was working full time plus lots of overtime--the couch cost $500. I had to sell it not a month later when I got laid off and needed the money. I never bought another piece of fancy furniture. It's all just cobbled together leftovers from thrift stores. I did get Mariah her own bed and myself by own bed and I replace the bed sheet on the window with actual curtains. But by then, the damage was done I guess. Mariah still screams
U n t i l I go hold her. I thought she would outgrow it by now, but the fact is she hasn't really developmentally progressed since she was about 5. She probably should have had some medical care and therapy from the time she was a child to now, but what are ya gonna do, ya know? I was just a kid and Mom wasn't ever really there. So, she's just my kid now and forever probably. I usually get her up at
D a w n and give her a bowl of cereal. She likes lucky charms. I know, it's a lot of sugar. I'm not perfect. I'm 27 but I still feel like a kid too. You know, I never learned how to cook or do money planning... And this economy? It's been rough. I'm grateful Cynthia, Muppet and Sonny have been able to fly the coup and get some kind of job. Cyn's a housekeeper for a motel... She's probably gonna be promoted soon and be in charge of all the housekeepers. I'm so proud of her.
W e don't stay in touch with Muppet much--all us kids--he kind of resents all of us for not giving him a better life, never mind that we all come from the same circumstances... But anyway, he left and hitchhiked to Los Angeles and does background acting in the movies. I saw him walking down the street in Fast & Furious 6. It was cool, but also made me sad. I miss that kid.
D o n t worry, Doc, I’m leaving. I know we only have 5 minutes left. Let me just finish up. I wanna get my money's worth. So, then there's Sonny. She lives a few blocks away, works at McDonalds. She's gay now--or I guess always was. She's getting married to this chick Stacy who has 3 kids. That scares me. Sonny is still so young and immature--like me--I don't think she's ready for all that responsibility. I keep telling them all we've gotta learn to re-parent ourselves before we start parenting the next generation--we gotta heal our shit so it doesn't get passed down, ya
K n o w? I got that from therapist #5--she was my favorite, but she killed herself after our 4th session. Guess she was good at talking the talk, but walking the walk? Not so much.
W h y do I keep coming back to therapists as if they have the answer or some secret that's gonna magically transform my past into something beneficial?
I t ' s not working. This isn't gonna work out for me, Doc. I
J u s t don't think it's a fit. I always sort of wanted an awake therapist. But thanks for your time and I wish you all the best. And I wish me all the best. Heck, I guess this was it. The last try.
A l w a y s thought I’d get somewhere but---Doctor Paul?
"It’s Jimmy actually."
"Jimmy, sorry. The dress threw me. What brings you here today?"
"I actually just finished telling you."
"Oh? Oh dear. Ops!" *laughter*
"Yeah, so it's
B e e n real. And I hope you had a good nap. I'll just see myself out."
T h a t was a waste of time. But the good news is that now I don't have to keep trying. I can just accept that, in the words of Popeye, "I yam what I yam."
W a y to go, Jimmy. You gave it your best shot and that's all you can do.