It Ain’t TMI, Little Guy

outhouse-door-1544645_1920

Photo: Pixabay

 

“My face gets all red,” he noted.

“Oh?” I didn’t know where he was going with this little tidbit of self-disclosure, but oftentimes neutral responses worked the best for those.

“Yeah,” he nodded. His hands continued to manipulate a small figurine: twisting, bending, spinning the head around.

I offered a box with a some accessories: a chair, a bike, a car, a bath, a bed, a backpack.

He raised his eyes without really looking at me, and returned his attention to the object in his hands. He wasn’t exactly aggressive as he was persistent. I found myself wondering when he’ll realize the head could come off.

“My face gets all red,” he repeated. “I watched.”

“Hmm?” I responded.

“Yeah.” He looked up, this time meeting my eyes in part-challenge, part-fascination. “In the mirror. Did you know I have ropes in my neck?”

He touched the sides of his neck, then grimaced and twisted his face and torso into a representation of intense muscle tension. Strain or fury or struggle or all.

“See?” he grunted.

The veins in his neck bulged and a small tributary pulsed at his temple, sprouting a delicate delta underneath the almost transparent skin.

“Yes, I do see.”

“It’s what happens every time,” he sighed as he relaxed his face and shoulders. Fierceness gone. Vulnerable.

“It’s what happens, when?” I had some inkling as to what he was describing but I wasn’t fully sure … and not assuming was often the right thing to do, anyhow. Especially with children who’d had so little opportunity to question or discuss or explain or inquire or straighten worries out. This little guy had had almost none, and for a boy who talked with almost no one, it was progress that he could speak about himself at all.

His eyes sought mine and the rising pink in his cheeks competed with the retreating redness from his earlier maneuver. He bent the figurine to sitting position, to a stand, to sitting again.

“When I go,” he muttered. “You know, when I … um … have to, uh, push the poo out.”

“Oh,” I noted blandly. “In the bathroom?”

The boy nodded. The blush spread down to below his chin.

“I think most people strain when they poo. It can make their faces red.”

His eyes widened at that, or perhaps also at my matter-of-fact discussion of matters too many in society render embarrassing even though these are naught but normal body-functions.

“Did you look, too?” he tried.

“At my face? You mean, when I use the bathroom?”

He bit his lower lip and nodded, balancing a tightrope of shame and disclosure and curiosity and possibly worry. Perhaps all. Perhaps more.

“I can’t say I have, but it is just what happens when people move their bowels. It is normal to strain or push a little.”

He thought about it. Continued to play with the figurine in his hands.

I wrestled with whether to say anymore. I wanted to reassure him but also wanted to know if it was hurting him to go to the bathroom, so I would know whether there was a problem that needs to be checked. I wanted to know if anything changed recently … if something happened … Heavens knows plenty had in the past, even if I did not know exactly what. Was this him just being more aware of his own body, or was it an attempt to speak of other things … of other kinds of red-faced strain he might’ve seen? Was it both?

I breathed.

He didn’t look distressed. Then again, Toy-figurine Man had lost his head a few times.

Another moment passed.

“Yeah, Dara does it, too.” He stated, asked.

The new infant at his foster home.

I nodded encouragement.

“Sometimes her face gets really red and funny and then Mama Molly changes her.” He looked at me, shame and blush seeming to recede. “You can smell it,” he giggled, testing.

“I bet,” I smiled.

“It stinks,” he took himself into full-out-laugh zone now. “Mama Molly says Dara’s poo stinks to infinity and beyond.”

I grinned. Mama Molly was a keeper. “Poo sure can.”

“Mine does!” he chortled.

Toy-figurine Man got his head back. Kept it on. Got put onto his bike and taken around the table and into the box.

“So,” the boy raised his chin in the direction of his folder and the games on the chair next to me. “Can we start?”

 

 

 

For Linda Hill’s SoCS prompt: Strain

 

The Intertwined

Photo: Sue Vincent

 

“Meet me by The Intertwined tonight,” the note said.

Nate trembled. He fingered the rough edge of the faded construction paper and the sensation lifted him into memories filled with the scent of glue and the sounds of children.

It’s been how many years since? Thirty. At least.

He inspected the note again, as if expecting more words to appear among the scrawled letters on the hand-torn bit of yellowed-green. None did.

It was not signed, but even after all this time there would be no mistaking it. Not by him.

Elinor.

Kindergarten sweetheart and schoolyard tormentor, both.

What did she want? Where had she been? Why write him now? Why him? Why this way?

Tears pressed behind his eyes and he was surprised by their intensity. The last time he’d felt that way (well, the last time he consciously admitted to it being so), was when he’d seen that ad, twelve years ago. The image of it unfurled behind his mind’s eye, never really forgotten: “Missing. Elinor Bricks. Age 23. Long dark curly hair. Blue eyes. Medium height and built. Last seen walking into the woods south of Sparrow Street, wearing blue pants, gray jacket, sneakers, and a brown messenger bag.”

Two weeks of searching before the police had folded their tents and left the flyers for the wind and squirrels.

Three months before he could sleep.

Four years before he let himself date anyone. Two more before he married. Five before he lost Marianne and little Morris as the baby tried and could not be born.

Could that have been only last year?

His heart had been hollow. Since.

Now this.

“Meet me by The Intertwined tonight,” the note said.

Their ancestors had planted those trees over a century ago. Hers and his. Far apart enough to stand alone. Close enough to weave together roots and canopy. They were a symbol of connection. The place where marriage took place and funerals left from. Where roots spread fingers to hold on even as they reached to grip new spaces. It was the very place where past and present, love and life and loss and longing intertwined.

His fingers spread over the bit of paper, reaching to embrace it, and interlacing words with the unknown.

He trembled.

His heart thundered.

“I’m sorry, Marianne.”

 

 

 

For Sue Vincent’s WritePhoto Prompt: Rooted

 

Soul Searching

NewZealand InbarAsif

Photo: Inbar Asif

 

Would you sell your soul

To sorrow?

Would you reap

Hate’s awful gain?

Would you let go of

Tomorrow

So false power

Rise again?

 

Will your heart see

All humanity?

What will you allow,

Sustain?

Will your soles

Feed earth

Or hollow

Out it’s wealth

To drain?

 

Will you leave

Your soul abandoned?

Will you let your spirit

Die?

Or will you hold on

To the morrow

In a world

For you

And I?

 

 

For the SoCS prompt: Soul/sole

 

 

Which Way

winding road PhilipCoons

Photo: Philip Coons

 

Which way does this road wind?

Where to goes the crack?

Do the rocks that line the path

Hold answers

Or hold back?

 

 

For the Which Way Photo Challenge

 

Visibly Invisible

cameleon AmitiaAsif

Photo: Amitai Asif

 

What do you see

When you look, but

Do not

Actually

See me?

 

Is it the shadow

Of what you believe

You ought to

See,

Or the reflected

Image

Of what you wish

You could

Be,

Or what you think

I must be

In order

To be visible

Enough

To be verified

As me?

 

 

For the d’Verse challenge

For the A Photo A Week Challenge: Depth of Field

The Cost of Living

smallpox hospital Roosevelt Island IngeVandormael

Photo: Inge Vandormael

 

She had come to make a new life.

She found illness. She found death.

And life, perhaps, hiding in the shadows

Of her convalescing sorrow,

Waiting

To take hold.

 

She had come in search of meaning.

She found a babble of confusion.

Within. Without.

Rising skyward. Buried underground.

She found hope, too. For things she didn’t know

Even had names

But sprouted meaning

In the corners of what she believed

Was ruined,

But had in fact been opened

To allow in the winds of change.

 

She came seeking answers,

And found the cost

Of living

Paid for little more than added questions,

And that she had to look

Quite closely

At what wasn’t there,

To find

What she did not even know

She had been searching for.

 

 

 

Photo: The old Smallpox Hospital on Roosevelt Island (a narrow island set in the East River between Queens and Manhattan).

For What Pegman Saw: Manhattan Island

 

Vintage Ride

vintage cuba atarakatz

Photo: Atara Katz

 

As you rumble along

Under skies

Blue like song,

Do you travel

Afar

To the past

In this car?

What new memories

You’d share

Of what’s found

Over there?

Do days gone

Still speed on

Scene by scene

Gray and green

By the glean

Of your machine?

 

 

For the Sunday Stills Challenge: Vintage

 

 

Mirrored World

Reflection AmitaiAsif

Photo: Amitai Asif

 

Where does solid begin?

Where does the liquid end?

Do the depths mirror

What lurks behind the bend?

Does the murk hold the answer?

Does the shimmer hide foe?

Will you know where to dive

And where you should not go?

 

 

For the Lens’ Artists Photo Challenge: Reflections

 

Bridged Time

child on bridge SmadarHalperinEpshtein

Photo: Smadar Halperin-Epshtein

 

Little feet

Crossing stones

Little hand

Holding phone.

Do his toes

Marching on

Note how time

Isn’t gone?

Does his heart

Understand

How the stream

Breathes calm

Underneath

His young mind,

Singing songs

Burbling home?

 

 

For Nancy Merrill’s Photo a Week Challenge: Bridges

 

Transition

transformed NaamaYehuda

Photo: Na’ama Yehuda

 

Life to hatch

Life to stall

As a change

Transforms all.

While new wings

Rise and fall,

Will it a ‘before’

Recall?

 

 

For the Lens-Artists Photo Challenge: Changeable