Previous Challenge Entry (Level 4 – Masters)
Topic: Adulthood (07/30/09)
- TITLE: Elsa and the Git Man
By Beth Muehlhausen
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The offspring of mixed blood, Elsa was born dark-skinned except for an albino-white patch splashed unevenly across her nose and both cheeks. Despite this seeming disfigurement, her childhood was graced with love and security as well as opportunities to build strong character.
However, as a young adult hoping for continued fulfillment, all known parameters of life suddenly evaporated. The political climate changed, and her family was displaced and scattered, several times.
One day she and others of similar age were singled out and herded into a fenced compound at the hand of a human-gone-beast: a demeaning dictator-type controlled by a sneering attitude and cheap view of life. “Git! You heap ‘o meat, git in there!” He slapped Elsa repeatedly, mocking and threatening her. “I said GIT, ‘r else I’ll git you, girl! Don’t annoy me, now …” His toothless, guile-filled grin meant business, epitomizing darkness and evil.
Confinement and longing were normative in this repulsively dirty place. Piles of dung erupted everywhere, in various stages of decomposition. Hyperactive flies buzzed around Elsa’s head, inspired to frenetic activity in the midst of overwhelming stench.
It might have been tempting for Elsa to think of this as some sort of rite of passage; a test to prove competency in adulthood by persevering during trial. Perhaps in time she would be rewarded; perhaps her golden years would be extra-special. Intuition told her to keep calm and remain hopeful. And yet immediate emotions clamored for attention: dread, disgust, and despair.
Although Elsa grieved over separation from her mother, the one who’d taught her to hope, she took some comfort in the company of the peers who shared her plight. They ate bland, boring fare together from a rusty, slime-coated metal trough. They huddled shoulder-to-shoulder in a cramped, unheated barn during inclement weather.
Still, there seemed to be no end to misery. Days became nights, and weeks turned into months. Escape seemed out of the question. Would she die here? Occasionally the greasy-looking “git” man showed up, seething with his usual surly comments, and loaded one of her unfortunate compatriots onto a trailer. He drove away, and that friend was never seen again. There was no way to know what happened; if a new life beyond the fence meant the end of longing, or just a different kind of captivity. In any case, survival defined by gritty endurance became a way of life for Elsa.
It was a disheartening and demoralizing way to exist. Elsa often reminisced about the carefree days of her youth, daydreaming about her romps across open, grassy fields under sunny skies, and wished she’d never grown up. But there was no going back.
She couldn’t help but wonder what her adult life might have been like on the other side of the confining fence if the “git” man had never shown up. Would she have become a mother? Where would she have lived? Unanswerable questions persisted. Why must she waste her prime in this place?
Each week seemed like a decade. She learned the hard way how to live only one moment at a time: the present one.
One morning as the first fuschia streaks of dawn painted the sky, Elsa heard the familiar pop-popping of the “git” man’s muffler-deficient truck. As the compound’s rusty hinges creaked to open its wooden gate, a flashlight beam zipped back and forth across the barren, rain-soaked dirt. Feeling brave, and also curiously empowered to confront her destiny, Elsa quietly stepped forward, laboriously pulling her feet through stinky, ankle-deep mud. The white light spotlighted and blinded her, and then shifted to the numbered orange tag hanging from her ear. “You there. You, number eight-twenty-seven. Git yerself over here. GIT, I said!” He whipped Elsa’s back with a switch, leading her up a narrow, dark chute and into a rickety-looking stock trailer.
“Ta-day ya git ta go ta market, gal-friend. An’ then ‘fore long you’ll end up sittin’ on somebody’s hamburger bun, all smeared with ketchup ‘n mustard.” He chuckled and mocked her, gesturing with an exaggerated pointer-finger at his own protruding beer belly. “How’s it feel, anyhow, to be born ‘n raised to be a hamburger?” He threw his head back and guffawed as Elsa stumbled forward and uttered a long, guttural “moooo” in response, just as the trailer door closed.
She’d learned the most important lesson of adulthood: acceptance and relinquishment. Her rite of passage - the most important and final one - was over.
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