However, no matter how off track you are, I can always use the choices you have made to put you BACK on track. Stop looking behind you, and know that you still have gifts in your future. Listen to my voice, and only mine. Be obedient to my will, and you will always find your path to me. That is my plan for you.”
The new sundress, the bright sunny day, the amusement park, nothing could brighten her attitude. Her favorite toy had been redistributed to her favorite cousin, Stacy. She couldn’t help hating him a little bit today. It was the ‘Fisher Price Little People Castle Play Set’ and her mother had informed her (on her birthday…) that she was too old to play with it. It had been packed up that morning to live somewhere else. Charlie was depressed.
“Charlotte, you are thirteen years old today and too old to be playing with dolls. It’s time to spend your free-time on
learning to run a brush through your hair,
paying some attention to the disgrace you call nails,”
her mother, Claudette, had scolded. Charlie had bowed her head in deference to her lecture. Thirteen in name only she thought looking down. Her sundress and long hair were the only things securing her place in the pantheon of womanhood. Otherwise, she was all flat plains and angles.
She was supposed to be more special, being a dragon child. The lady who lived up the street from her grandmother, Evelyn, had taught her that. The Chinese witch, that’s what everyone called her. Charlie, however, knew she wasn’t Chinese. While she had been born in Hong Kong and owned the local Chinese restaurant, her family was Japanese. She supposed she really was a witch.
It had been Evelyn’s granddaughter, Taura, that had told her this. Her two sisters, Momoko and Ryoko, had sat in solemn silent agreement pouring imaginary tea into little cups. They had all draped themselves in old pieces of fabric (towels, blankets, table clothes, and curtains) artfully tied up in what they imagined to be kimono’s. They were playing at being geishas having a party. “My grandmother is a witch. And, since they are always together, yours probably is as well”, Taura shared. Evelyn’s grandchildren often recruited her for their elaborate tea parties – being that they were all more-or-less the same age. “I supposed that means we might all be witches. Everyone knows it runs in families”, she continued mysteriously.
Charlie thought this was probably true as well. Her grandmother and Evelyn were always collecting herbs together and making special drinks. One time, when she was supposed to be asleep, she had actually heard Evelyn tell her grandmother to collect some of her hair and nails when she died so that she could come back and visit her from the grave.
It hadn’t bothered Charlie. The thought of her grandmother being a witch did not worry her, upset her, or concern her. Both women were larger than life to her. It made sense that they were also witches. Besides, it was Evelyne that had given her the castle play set. She had found it at a garage sale – practically new. She said she was giving it to her because she was a dragon and the playset had a dragon in it. That’s how she found out that she was born in the year of the dragon and that she was special.
It was the pink dragon that was breaking her heart to part with. She could part with the whole play set but she would rather keep the dragon. What if Stacy banished the dragon to the cave at the bottom of the toy castle? He might not know that Puff was the ruler.
The amusement park was supposed to be a special treat, but Charlie couldn’t stop sulking and being distraught over Puff. Even as she got on to ride her favorite character of the carousel, a green dragon, she was still melancholy. The carousel held no magic today, but her green dragon did. In her mind this dragon was also Puff, but grown. She always supposed her little pink dragon at home was Puff as a baby.
There was no conflict yet in her developing mind that Puff was different at this park than he was at home. She had tried to explain it to her mother once but her mother had insisted that it was not possible to be in two places at once; and, furthermore, you could not be a child and an adult at the same time.
Yet Charlie knew that what she had told her mother was true. All she had to do was look in the mirror and see that she was someplace else at the same time and an adult as well as a child – all at once. It seemed that getting older made things harder to understand. With the loss of her dear pink dragon, (on this the day of her birthday) getting older didn’t seem like such a great reward. She wondered ‘Is that all there is? Would it just be disappointment from here on out? Wasn’t she a dragon and possibly a witch? Surely her life was meant to be more special.’
She looked up just in time to see Stacy getting out of the car. She could see the parking lot from here. She decided today – she would find a moment to pinch him – hard. The thought made her smile.
Persephone – Spring is late
The Greater Your Storm
She had scrubbed and scrubbed and scrubbed, but nothing had worked to clean (what looked like) black tar from the children’s skin. Yvonne’s two grandchildren had broken into the construction yard (that was being used to build the freeway) next door… to play. They had returned home covered in a spider web of black lines. Jackson and Olivia had taken sticks and had stuck them in some sort of black -toxic-waste-like-grease and with the help of the wind had drawn intricate patterns all over themselves like some sort of demonic modern painting.
“What did you think you were doing?” she asked. There was no hiding the distress in her voice as she tried in vain to remove the noxious substance from their cheeks.
“We were trying to be like Jackson Pollock. Grandma, am I named after him?” Her grandson answered innocently (pretending?) not to understand how angry she was.
“I have told you a million times not to play in that yard.”
“But we like sliding down the gravel mountains.”
This made her angrier than ever and she took them both by the arm and shook them, before she could stop herself.
“You need to promise me that you will never go into that yard again! Don’t you know that the gravel could avalanche and cover you up so we would never find you again?” The children looked down ashamed and did not answer. “Good Lord, I’m going to have to clean you two with gasoline,” she continued putting away her useless soap and shampoos. The clothing would have to be thrown away.
Later as she got them ready for bed and prepared to read them a story, Olivia asked “Granny, what is politics mean?” Never a dull moment with these two she thought – always the million dollar random questions.
“What does politics mean”, she corrected her, “Well, it’s a little complicated and I’m not sure your ready to understand, but we’ll give it a go. See this apple?” she continued holding up an apple in her hands. “Suppose you want this apple, and you want it from me. Your politics is how you get it from me and my politics is how or if I give it to you.”
“I don’t get it granny. Republicans and Democrats just want apples?” Jackson asked her perplexed.
Yvonne sighed. This was the last thing she wanted to explain before bed. Not when she had this lovely pre-written story all ready to tuck them in with she thought looking at the short story clutched in her hand. But, she was suddenly struck with inspiration so she persisted. She had a story telling gift and she was as surprised and entertained as anyone with what came out of her mouth sometimes.
“Politics is the word we use to describe the process in which we divide resources. So,” she continued, “to understand that, let’s make it very personal. Imagine your parents as the government and you two as its citizens. Your governing parents give you stuff – distribute resources to you. How do you think they decide that?”
“Which one they like best?” Jackson answered.
Yvonne chuckled “well they might do it that way. That would be one type of politics, but what if they like you both the same?” The children looked at her blankly as if that thought had never occurred to them. “If your parents love you both the same, they may look to give you resources that best suit your need or ability. As we know, Jackson likes to paint” she said sarcastically, “So maybe they would buy him brushes or art books. You like to swim, so maybe they get you access to a local pool. That would be their politics – finding resource and distributing them based on need and or aptitude. This is what we hope they are doing in Washington”
“I think daddy likes me best and mommy likes Olivia best. What kind of politics is that?”
“That politics would be called ‘Favoritism’. And that’s the type of politics we are hoping is not being practiced in Washington. And that, children, is the politics of the government. What do you think your politics are as it’s citizens? Or, in this house, as your mommy and daddy’s children. How might you position yourself to get these resources? What can you do to get mommy and daddy to give you what you want?”
“I can give mommy flowers before I ask her to enroll me in swim?”
“Exactly! That’s called a ‘bribe’.” She said pinching Olivia’s cheek with amusement, “That would be your politics. That’s another thing we hope is not happening in Washington. And, Jackson, how about you? What could you do to get art supplies?”
“I could get an A in Art class?”
“Very Good! You would be displaying aptitude.”
“I understand politics now, granny.”
“Well, thank you God! Now come sit in my lap and hear this story before you have to go to bed”, said grandma Yvonne pulling them close ignoring the lingering sent of gasoline.