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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 – Advanced)
Topic: Shhh. (02/18/10)

TITLE: Obsolete
By Sara Harricharan


Shhh! I can almost hear it…

The wind is falling
The rain has stopped
Things are not
Incredibly mixed up

Some days I did not think or write in rhyme, it simply happened that way. It was a Monday when I first heard the little whisper. It teased around the corners of my ears and tickled my nose a few times.

It never once rudely pushed past to release the message inside the caverns of my ears. I only heard it when I was as close to the breaking point as I allowed myself to be. Breaking meant I was old. Too old. It was this denial that twisted me around.

I rushed from home to the grocery store, the library and work, a cycle continuously raking me over spiked blades and red-hot coals of criticism and abuse. It was always an exquisite work of pain, the artwork on my heart that is, starting in my head and chasing me throughout the day.

Because of this, I journaled. It was the only way I could convince myself that nothing was quite wrong with me, even when it wasn’t exactly right either. I quit the job as a substitute teacher on the day I heard the principal’s assistant declare me obsolete.

It took a tad more patience to pretend I didn’t hear her, instead of putting my foot in my mouth to declare that I wasn’t quite gone yet. I could still hear her mutterings plain as a peacock. So proud and full of all the things she thought she could do.

Shhh! Don’t criticize love…listen…

I didn’t want to listen. I didn’t want to let on that I’d heard. So I handed in my resignation and made an excuse about my bad back.

My perfectly good back served me quite well in the following weeks.

I camped out on the sofa watching marathons of “I Love Lucy” and knitting baby socks. I pretended not to notice when the yarn ran out and the cupboards were bare. It meant dragging my ‘obsolete’ body up from the cozy comforts of home and out in the harsh reality. At the grocery store, food was the price of air…necessary, because if you did not take it, you would die, but you must pay for it—even when you don’t realize the cost.

I had to breathe…and I had to eat. So I paid for both.

Shhh! Mustn’t do that. Some good things in life are free…won't you listen to me?

No. I did not want to listen…still. I did not want to hear what was being said. I did not want to hear how selfish I had been. I had a right. It had been years since I’d seasoned my burdened life with a touch of selfishness. It was good for a body now and then.

The afternoons passed in the rocking chair by the back window. It was too cold to sit the living room to watch TV and the electricity bill never went down in all the years I’d lived here. So I wrapped up in a blanket and moped out the window. Some evenings I was so into it, night would come and catch me there. I would stay until morning arrived, then I would realize I’d forgotten to sleep again.

Shhh! You are rested in body…won’t you rest your mind now?

But I could not rest my mind. There was too much inside of it. Thoughts of everything a running commentary on my sad existence and the witty comebacks I stockpiled for the telemarketers that never called. I could not empty my mind, for fear I would not have the strength to fill it up again.

Things always faded away. I felt the cold draft of reality before it hit and saved enough pennies to move from home to an apartment. A rat hole, I think. Dark and dirty with cheap linoleum and creaky faucets. I hated the shadows and I hated the noise.

But at least, I was alone. I did not have to think of being obsolete. I only had to think of nothing, because I had nothing and that was something, so I clung to it.

Shhh! Won’t you listen to me now, please?

A lousy way to snatch my attention away, but I supposed I’d dodged around it long enough. I could stand it. I would bear it. It was time enough. My head bowed.

I’m listening, Father...finally…I am sorry…again…


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This article has been read 647 times
Member Comments
Member Date
Shann Hall-LochmannVanBennekom 02/26/10
I can so relate to the MC in this piece. It's so much easier to stay at home than face the world. You did a good job of painting a picture of despair and depression.
Catrina Bradley 03/01/10
I'm not sure I understand how the beginning ties in, but I loved the rest of it. She listened to the voice that said "obsolete" and, despite her arguments to the contrary, she became what was said of her. And finally, broken, she concedes to listen to that Other Voice. Great writing on this - love the voice and the "feel" of it.
Gregory Kane03/02/10
Some wonderfully rich language and I particularly liked your introductory paragraphs. I felt, mind, that the piece dragged towards the end
Ruth Stromquist03/02/10
I agree, an excellent picture of depression and finally coming to God in it. However, it was confusing and hard to sort out at first for me. And I agree that the 4 line poem and starting paragraph is confusing. One possible suggestion might be to put this line at the TOP, even before the 4 line poem: "I journaled. It was the only way I could convince myself that nothing was quite wrong with me, even when it wasn’t exactly right either." Then we'd both have the background that there's some confusion and that the MC is journaling, which would explain the 4 line poem more? Just an idea.
Loren T. Lowery03/03/10
Your work always seems to carry a second message that takes careful reading to find - but once you do, you see the kind, generous heart of the author and are well-pleased to meet her.
c clemons03/03/10
Fine writing here, I enjoyed it. You are a bit of wordsmith :)