Monday, January 20, 2014

Through the Eyes of a Father Float the Magic Qualities of Childhood

By: Vidda "JibJab" Grubin

Without knowing, each father allows the infinite possibility and imagination of their child to enter his increasingly rigid vision of life. This blessing forces each father to choose between...

Standing aside, unnoticed

Towering over, attempting to mold young mind to certainty of past experience


Crouching beside, while trying to perceive the world through his child’s enchanted sensibilities

To stand aside unnoticed: The perfect choice
To tower above: The selfish choice
To crouch beside: The child’s choice

Voices in the Warehouse

By: Vidda "JibJab" Grubin

The door of the old warehouse was stuck. Kyle stood, holding the handle of the door with his bare right hand. His left hand was still snuggled inside a warm mitten. At some point, while trying to open the door to the warehouse where all the kids in the neighborhood played pick-up soccer, Kyle had taken off the mitten on his right hand. His right hand was so cold he could barely move his fingers.

Why Kyle was at the door to the warehouse, which smelled like moldy gym socks, at 4am was a mystery to Kyle. He nervously scanned the gravel parking lot. Snow, swirling in the harsh December wind, worked in concert with the early morning’s lack of moonlight and stars to make Kyle feel like he was inside a sub-zero cocoon made of stinging ice petals. Kyle couldn’t see much.

While no boogeyman emerged from the frigid night, Kyle did hear muffled groaning and scraping coming from inside the warehouse. “That must be the wind forcing its way through the cracks in the warehouse. Someone should fix those cracks so the cold can’t get in,” murmured Kyle quietly to himself. Despite the odd sounds, Kyle figured it had to be safer inside the building than outside. He thought about trying to open the door one more time. Before he could turn the handle, the door creaked open a crack, as if someone had pushed ever so softly from inside. Kyle, his numb fingers gripping the handle with all their frozen might, took a deep breath.

“Is anyone in there?”

The scraping and groaning ceased. Kyle heard nothing but silence, cold, dark silence. Questioning once more why he was at the warehouse at 4am, Kyle shuffled his worn sneakers, pulled his red winter hat farther over his ears and pushed the door all the way open. Kyle’s nervous imagination had expected a crazy wild man to jump out at him; no such thing happened. Kyle was greeted by complete darkness, darkness that made the lack of light outside seem like a neon motel vacancy sign.

Eyes wide as saucers and lips trembling, Kyle forced his sneakered left foot into the unwelcoming building. The weight of his backpack, packed with cleats, water bottle, and ball, felt like all the Harry Potter books combined. Kyle’s right foot followed his left. The door slammed shut behind him.

A small scream exploded from Kyle’s mouth and echoed through the warehouse. Kyle spun on his heels and lunged at the door. The knuckles of his right hand slammed against the handle, peeling off a thin layer of skin; Kyle felt no pain. He gripped the door handle and turned. The door wouldn’t budge. Despite the icy temperature, Kyle began sweating. He threw his shoulder against the door…nothing.

Laughter floated from the opposite end of the warehouse. Kyle began to cry. His tears froze on his face. With both hands, Kyle banged on the unmovable door. The door felt as if it were made of ten inch thick steel, instead of the thin aluminum he knew it was made of. Scraping noises, like someone dragging soccer cleats on concrete, accompanied the laughter coming from the far end of the building. Kyle spun back to face the overwhelming darkness.

“Dribble, Kyle,” came a whisper from the stale darkness. “Yeah, Kyle, dribble,” came a second whisper.

His mind consumed by fear, Kyle suddenly remembered why he had come to the warehouse. He had come to practice before the other kids arrived for pick-up, but he couldn’t remember how he had gotten from his home to the crappy old warehouse. Tears streaming down his face, Kyle screamed into the black void.

“Shut up! Leave me alone!”

Giggles joined Kyle’s scream, and the whisper, “Dribble, Kyle, dribble fast.”

Kyle threw his backpack to the floor and started to hammer on the door again. His hands began to bleed.

“You can’t leave, Kyle, until you dribble.”

Dropping to his knees, Kyle sobbed, his face against the unmoving door.

“Please, leave me alone.” The laughter continued. “Please, go away; you’re not real,” he pleaded.

“Oh, Kyle, you know we are real. You came here to practice. Now, dribble!” the voice commanded. Many voices began chanting and laughing. “Dribble, Kyle, dribble.”

Barely able to speak, Kyle begged, “Please, stop.”

Kyle’s plea was greeted with louder chants and more laughter. “Dribble, Kyle, dribble fast. You’re no good, Kyle. Why are you here, Kyle? Dribble, Kyle, dribble fast.”

Still on his knees, Kyle turned and unzipped his backpack. He pulled his soccer ball out of the pack. Kyle tried to stand up. His legs were like jelly. He fell back down.

 “You suck, Kyle. You can’t even stand up.”

Kyle pushed up from the floor of the warehouse. The mitten on his left hand slipped off. Kyle’s wobbly legs held him up. Ball in hand, Kyle began walking with halting steps, toward the wall of the warehouse on his right. The switch for the lights was there. Kyle knew if he could get to the lights he could turn them on and he would see no one was in the warehouse with him. His mind was playing tricks on him.

“No lights, Kyle. Dribble, dribble fast.”

Kyle ignored the voices. He felt along the wall and found the light switch. He flipped the switch...nothing. He tried again...nothing.

“We told you, Kyle, no lights. Dribble, Kyle, dribble fast.” Kyle’s tears started again. His legs shook, and snot ran from his nose. “I can’t.”

“I can’t. I can’t,” the voices teased Kyle. “Oh, poor Kyle, you came here to dribble. Now, dribble, Kyle, dribble fast.”

Kyle still held his soccer ball in his hand. He had brought the ball with him to the light switch on the wall. Kyle knew all along that he was going to have to dribble the ball. Leaning over, almost falling down, Kyle placed the ball on the floor. He put a foot on top of the ball, and then he began to dribble.

“Faster, Kyle, dribble faster.” Kyle sped up. He couldn’t see the ball, but he could almost feel it. He was jogging now. All the voices became one.

“Faster, Kyle, faster!”

Kyle sped up again. He got closer to the voices, and then he turned around. He worried he was going to run into a wall.

“That’s not fast enough, Kyle. Go faster. Kyle, go really fast.”

Kyle began sprinting. His shirt and coat became soaked in sweat. Tears streamed down his face; amazingly, he wasn’t running into any walls. Through the thick darkness, Kyle sprinted faster than he ever had before. He felt like a rocket ship ripping through space, a rocket ship with a soccer ball at his feet. Through the fear, darkness, and tears, Kyle knew deep inside he was dribbling like a pro.

 “That’s still not fast enough, Kyle. Go faster!”

Kyle tried to go faster, but he couldn’t find more speed.

“You suck, Kyle! Go faster!”

Kyle’s lower jaw hung down and to the right. His lips were stretched across his teeth as he sucked in the rancid air of the warehouse. His brow was a thousand creases. His lungs burned. Kyle tried to go faster. His legs got tangled together. He tripped over the ball and fell in a heap on the floor.

Deafening laughter filled Kyle’s ears. He tried to untangle his legs; they felt as if they were wrapped in the smothering darkness. The laughter faded, and then was gone. Kyle caught his breath. Eventually, he stopped crying. His lips were split, and his jaw ached.

A small glimmer of light shone to Kyle’s left. There, only inches from his face, was his Spiderman nightlight. Wrapped around Kyle’s Spiderman pajama bottoms was half of his blanket. Kyle gave up trying to untangle his legs. The other half of the blanket was still atop his bed. Pajamas, sheets, blanket and bed were soaked in sweat. Kyle’s face was sticky with tears and snot. He closed his eyes.

From the hallway, Kyle heard the heavy footsteps of his father. The footsteps stopped outside his bedroom door. “Kyle, stop messing around in there, and get up!” commanded his father. “We are going over to the warehouse to work on your dribbling. I’m going to teach you how to speed dribble. You have to be dedicated. I’ve told you that a million times.”

Eyes still closed, Kyle began to cry again.

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