From the prompt host:  “This week we are looking at flashbacks–those little bits of information that take us back in time before our narrative began. Oftentimes, flashbacks give us not just information about the past, but a better understanding of our character or hints of things that are to come.  The task is to write a piece of short prose of poetry that includes a flashback.”

I debated whether to skip this prompt, and if you read on you’ll probably wish I had.  The instruction is to write a “short” piece–I made it as concise as possible.

Flashbacks aren’t fun for me,

They’re not about hearing a

Beach Boys song and recalling

Summer days with a bunch of

Girlfriends…I didn’t have friends.

They are nightmares that come

When I’m fully awake—they slam

Me back to a hellish moment, day…

And I must claw my way out,

Over and over again.

No matter how earnestly I’ve sought

To create a world of safe comfort,

Peace and laughter to surround me,

I live in a minefield:  invisible trip wires,

IED’s waiting ‘mid beautiful, ordinary days.

Anything can trigger them.

Don’t ask me what it was, I don’t know…

But as I considered writing for this prompt—

With sun bright, in sky of blue perfection

On a mid-August day; and with nothing

Bothering me, physically or mentally—

I was suddenly catapulted to a day in

December, many years ago when

My mother was still alive.

I was living with her, not happily,

But without other options.

To say it was an uneasy relationship

Would be laughable, if it weren’t made

Up of a lifetime of abject fear on my

Part—and whatever secret made her

Despise me, treat me with abusive

Disdain at nearly every turn.

There’s no brutality like emotional cruelty

Administered unpredictably, and daily.

In the flashback, I’m helping her decorate

For Christmas.  She had previously invested

In a faux evergreen tree, stored in a box,

To be assembled each year.

No longer steady enough to climb on

Step-stools, she needs my assistance

In winding the string of colored lights

From the top branches, down to bottom.

I’m on the short ladder trying to follow

Her instructions, perform this festive task

To her satisfaction…and the air is thick

With tension, not holiday spirit—because

As always, I’m as scared as though still

A child, waiting for her to shout angry

Displeasure, sneer cutting derogation.

I want to be finished, but go slow, to prove

I’m being careful to do things “right”.

Nonetheless, something is wrong.

As she begins her impatient criticizing,

I feel both frozen, and shaky as gelatin—sick

Syrup swirling in my gut:  rage, fear, hurt.

Well-schooled, I say nothing—continue

Working, winding the light string…

As I pulled myself back from this long-ago scene,

I was thinking my unspoken words through

Gritted teeth; biting down on murderous

Feelings which burn bitter like acid today:

“Mom, do you honestly think I can do a

Better job if you keep berating me in that

Contemptuous tone?  You make me so

Effing nervous, I’m going to fall through

The plate glass window!  And then you

Can call the daughter you favor to

Finish the damn Christmas tree for you.”

©Jael Sook, 2017 All rights reserved.

Image credit: Pixabay

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2 thoughts on “Flashback

    • That’s pretty much what I was telling God when I went to bed–that without his tender and unconditional love, I’d be lost. Early on, I assumed He was stern and demanding like my parents, but I’m most grateful for the “grace” preachers of the last 6 years who steered me to the Truth in scripture. He’s not out to “pound” people–only love us.

      Liked by 1 person

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