Saturday, January 31, 2009

The Pinata

As a child his peers seemed to regard him as an acquaintance at best and lacked the basic civility that is a prerequisite of friendship. He was more of a sycophant than a friend and often they treated him with animus. Sometimes their cruelty was gentle. On more than one occasion his “friends” had offered him candy, toys, and even money to go home and let them be. Other times, there was nothing gentle about it at all.  

One day when Ren was nine years old he was passing time with a neighborhood boy he considered one of his better friends, Christopher, or Chris as he was called back then. They'd had sleepovers, shared trite, youthful secrets, and their mothers, especially Ren's mother, seemed to take a particular pride in their friendship. She could often be heard telling people, including Chris' mother things like

"You know Chris is just so pleasant. He is one of Ren's best friends and it is just so wonderful to see them play." The neighborhood was nestled amongst large oaks and pines. Chris' father had recently built him a tree house with a ladder to get up and a rope-swing to get down. The fort was the envy of all the neighborhood kids.

The afternoon was crisp, cool in the shade, warm in the sun. Ren had spent the night and they'd spent most of the morning digging up the yard for some sort of magical river they had divined in their imagination. When Chris' father came outside he was incensed at the series of trenches that had been ripped through the half-acre landscape.  

“I spent two days building you that fucking tree house and what do you do? You dig up the whole goddamn yard! That's the 'thanks' I get uh?" He proceeded with a vituperative scolding that did not stop at his initial grievance but continued into a captious laundry list of shortcomings. To his father this was but a symptom of a much bigger disease: Chris' inherent idiocy and thoughtlessness. Within a minute of the diatribe, something inside Chris had died. He fell silent in embarrassment and shame. The light in his eyes dimmed as the curtains of his imagination closed.  

Chris walked crestfallen towards the tree, climbed up the ladder and sat up there feeling small. Unfamiliar emotions slithered through him. Poison was being manufactured in his heart. Following suit Ren climbed up the ladder without a word, took the rope swing between his legs and lept from the platform without a word. As he swung back he could see Chris climbing down the ladder and as he swung out a second time he saw Chris on the ground looking upwards with a long, sturdy stick in hand. His eyes had a focused determination as they locked onto Ren's swing the way a cat's eyes lock onto a bird's flight. The quiet air felt heavy like it was hinting at suffocation. Ren suddenly felt uneasy and confused. He swung silently though, as boys do not have words for such feelings. As he approached the nadir of his second swing out, he felt his inertia met with blunt force. Time slowed. He was bewildered wondering what he had hit. A murder of crows bolted outward and upward from the tree as if to avoid the same fate.  

When Ren's swing approached the far end of it's pendulum the pain and the horror began to set in. There below was Chris, stick in hand, readying for another strike. Ren's body swooped down and met the stick with its full velocity. As the rope lost momentum the swings lost their rise, setting him up to be an even easier target. But he was still moving too fast and too high to jump and so for a third, fourth, and fifth time he was beaten. Amongst the truculence oak leaves fell softly to the ground.  

Ren could hear the stick breaking the wind and he could hear the solid smack it made against his small, proud body, the percussion of violence that he would never forget. It was the sound of betrayal, of anger wrapped in friendship. This was the sharp painful contrast of being loved and being hurt by one single source.  Ren's clear, blue eyes welled up with tears. His beautiful long eyelashes yielded to the weight of his sorrow. Ren was speechless and oddly so was Chris. Finally, Ren's heart broke open spilling sour and bitter candy.

14 Comments:

Blogger Shadows of life said...

Childhood is like clay, you can mold it into any shape, few shapes might make no sense to the world, but they are the most priceless things - the abstract forms of art.
you are a fine, polished diamond now, the process to reach here was a hard journey, I am happy that you have found your worth, your destination today.

Look back and learn, don't stay up there.
Hugs!!!

~V

January 31, 2009 3:29 PM  
Blogger sandeep mishra said...

hi, its a good post simple language and communicated with ease .

February 03, 2009 2:26 AM  
Blogger sandeep mishra said...

hi cjb,
sorry i don't know your name!! gone through it again quite interesting the pain child must have gone through can be felt when you read it.cant be explained better if not experienced it..

keep smiling stay connected :):)

February 03, 2009 2:45 AM  
Blogger 歡唱 said...

我只知道,假如我去愛人生,那人生一定也會回愛我 ..................................................

February 05, 2010 11:22 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

February 07, 2010 10:24 AM  
Blogger 紀錄 said...

人要先學會做一隻駱駝,然後才能做一隻獅子........................................

March 03, 2010 12:08 AM  
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March 11, 2010 6:03 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

What a beautifully written, tragic and honest story. I myself have at times been the pinata, but I have also held the stick. As an adult, I do counseling with children, so that the holders of the sticks may find comfort some other way, and so the pinatas need not feel broken inside and out. It sounds as though you are doing the same thing, in a different way. The part of me that held the stick all those times has respect for you for acknowledging the pain inflicted. The pinata in me says...I forgive you.

Kind regards,
-D

April 09, 2010 2:35 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Left me with a melocholy feeling.

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