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Morbid Whimsy

I can’t keep avoiding the need to write new material much longer… I just hate to begin something and not have time to really dig in.  To begin creating a world and the lives to fill it up, only to have to abandon it and the characters for indefinite periods of time is difficult for me- separation anxiety or something.  It’s like I’m afraid of what they might do without my supervision, and I’ll miss them.  Yeah, I’m well aware of how crazy that sounds, and I’m ok with it.  If I could, I’d lock myself away for days to write out a good story.  Instead, I spend days writing out lesson plans and essential questions (if you’re not a Learning Focused teacher, don’t ask)…

So, just for the sake of posting something different from the string of recent serious posts, I’m sharing another old poem of mine.  My mom and sister (mostly my sister) used to tease me because of all the depressing poetry I would write.  But hey, I was in high school.  Anyway, this poem comes off as a bit morbid, but I had fun writing it, because it wasn’t really serious at all.  Well, you’ll have to read what I mean…

My Death by Terree L. Klaes

I died while walking

on the beach one night,

In the chilling cool water,

and the shimmering moonlight.

My body sank deeply

into the sand,

With nothing exposed,

not even a hand.

My corpse quickly

was engulfed by waves.

And I was sure my body

would not be found for days.

But then slowly I opened

my eyes to see…

I had simply fallen asleep

next to the sea.

1997

Please Don’t Call Me a Tease, Even if I Am

I’ve decided to give you all another little sample from my book.

I See What You Mean

Soon after we got back to school, I got called into the nurse’s office.  She wanted to check my vision.  I looked at charts with all sorts of letters, with one eye, then the other, then both.  She asked me if I ever got headaches, did I have to squint a lot, and where did I sit in my classes?  No on the headaches, yes on the squinting, sometimes, and in the back whenever possible were my replies.

“Drew, I am making a note for my records, and I am sending home a letter with you to your parents suggesting they take you to get glasses.”  She smiled like she hadn’t just said every teenage girl’s nightmare was now happening to me.

“Glasses?” I tripped over the word, practically spitting it out, which would have been really embarrassing.

“Or contacts,” she added with a reassuring note.  “That’s up to you and your parents.  But you can’t keep ignoring the problem.  Your eyes will just get worse.”

The funny thing was that I had never noticed I had a problem until that day.  I never thought about how natural it felt to squint my eyes into the perfect slat to make the board visible, or the fact that I often dazed off when it came time to read overheads or watch videos.  Everyone did that.  At home, I usually planted myself on the floor with a pillow, so I was never extremely far away from the TV, and books were held closely anyway.  Glasses.  How could this be?  After that day, all of these irritations became more noticeable to me, and I was getting frustrated, but would not give my parents the note from the nurse.  I figured she would forget all about me.  I was usually good at being forgotten by adults, being the quiet one and all.  But I had a bad feeling when I got off the bus one afternoon.  Usually I had the bad feeling when I got on the bus, so I knew there had to be a problem.

“Drew,” my mother greeted me at the door that day.  Unusual.  “Has anything interesting come up at school over the last few weeks?”  I thought for a long while.  I knew I was making mostly B’s in my classes, so nothing there alarmed me.  The bus rides, though dreaded, had been uneventful, and I had actually put the visit with the nurse in the back of my mind by then, as much as possible.

“No, not really.  They started serving curly fries in the cafeteria,” I offered.  I wasn’t trying to be funny, but Mom thought so.

“Young lady, vision impairment is a serious matter.”  In my mind, everything came crashing down on me.  The nurse must have called because the letter was so far lost in my locker, it would have taken the jaws-of-life to dig it out.

“Oh yeah, that.  I forgot to tell you.”  I was able to use my meager eyesight to focus in on a speck of dirt on the floor, avoiding eye contact with my mom.

“Just like you forgot to give me the letter the nurse sent home, right?”

“You know I always forget to give you notes and letters from school.  Remember when I had to clean my room when we packed everything up to move?  There were probably hundreds of notes under my bed and shoved in drawers.  It’s kinda what I do,” I chanced a smile, remembering too late that vision impairment is serious.

“I called and made an appointment for Thursday with an optometrist.  We’ll get your eyes tested, and then you can pick out some glasses.”

“Does it have to be glasses?  Could I get contacts, please?  I don’t want to look like a geek.”

“Drew, I don’t know about looking like a geek or dweeb or whatever.  Your eyesight is important.  We’ll have to see how much contacts cost.  But the bottom line is that you need to be able to see the bottom line.”  She seemed to smirk, realizing her play on words.  I was not amused.  My life was over.
Copyright 2012

If you like it, if you can relate to it, or if you know anyone else who can relate to this, or who is in middle school now, you can find the entire book, Memoirs of an Ordinary Girl by Terri Klaes Harper, on Amazon’s kindle store (btw- you can download a free kindle app onto pretty much any electronic device).  If you love it, spread the word, rate it, and/or like my author page on Facebook.

Ready to Break Some Rules?

My students would laugh at this following tidbit of a story, or shake their fists at me in anger.  I always tell them not to begin their essays with onomatopoeia.  Seriously, it tends to feel quite juvenile and often they cannot make it flow into their writing.  It might read something like this: “Boom.  That’s the sound the locker made when they boy slammed it shut in the hallway yesterday.”  Agh! It makes me want to pull out my eyelashes one at a time, and it reminds me of Ben Stein’s character on The Wonder Years and in Ferris Bueller’s Day Off.

Then I found an old bit of something I wrote back when I was their age (tenth grade).  I do not teach creative writing though, just academic writing, so there is a difference.  It’s not quite a masterpiece; however, I always was fond of this:

The Gate by Terree Klaes (That’s how I used to spell my name- you know, for create purposes)

Bong! Bong! Bong!  Three a.m.  “Where is he?” I kept thinking to myself.  It was cold out and my whole face was getting numb.  I hated meeting him in the park so early in the morning.  Why couldn’t I just send him the money?

He had said a quarter to three.  I remembered because he had called me at work.  That was something he had never done before.

Once every month I would meet him by the entrance of the park, across from the clock tower.  Never before had he been late.

I always felt like criminal, standing by the gate with a big brown envelope tucked in my trench coat.  What I had done was nothing compared to what I felt like doing to him.  Many times I had imagined him coming to the park for his money.  I would pull out a gun and shoot him in the chest. Finally, I would be through with him.  But I couldn’t take a chance on something like that.  That could just get me into more trouble.

Why he insisted on torturing me, I couldn’t figure out, besides greed.  I had paid back every cent of the money I took.  The way I looked at the situation, it was over.

A shadow was coming up the sidewalk.  At this hour, it had to be him.  The figure walked past.  An elderly woman.

Now he was a half hour late.  Should I leave?  I didn’t know.  If I did, and he showed up, he could ruin me.  But what if he just wasn’t coming?  Then I would be at the park all night.

I had decided to leave the envelope with the money by the gate.  If he showed up, he would find it.  If not, it would be a nice gift for someone else.  Just as I was about to set the envelope down, I heard footsteps.  It was him.  Finally.

We got into an argument about the price I should be paying.  I was furious.  I opened my purse, puled out a gun, and shot him in the chest. Then I ran as fast as I could with the money still in my trench coat.

Nobody ever found out who killed him.  No one had any idea.

I was just thinking about how I also broke the rule I teach my students about not writing too many short, choppy sentences, and yet I had done it to create a feeling of impatience and frustration.  I guess I like to apply the idea of, “you have to know the rules first before you can properly break them.”  Not that this little story is perfect; I was only 14 or 15 when I wrote it.  I’ve been trying to figure out if I should try to do anything else with it or just let it rest in peace.

Always Wear Clean Underwear

I was looking through some old files on a flashdrive and found this story I wrote a long time ago for some sort of short short story contest.  It did NOT win, but it made me laugh a bit, especially since I completely forgot I wrote it.

Always Wear Clean Underwear

I could have avoided all that trouble if only I had remembered to wear clean underwear.  Mom always said, “Be sure you wear clean underwear.  After all, you never know when you might get in an accident and you’ll have on dirty underwear.  How embarrassing that would be for you!” Does anybody ever really think that will happen to her?  Honestly, my problem wasn’t having on dirty underwear, rather none at all.  Let me go back to the beginning before you get the wrong idea about me.

Yesterday was laundry day.  The problem is that I left my delicate load in the washing machine overnight and by the time I realized my error, it was time to leave for class and my panties were still damp.  I’m not the type of girl who feels comfortable going without undies, but I had little choice.  I grabbed a pair out of the load as I transferred my delicates to the dryer, scooped up my book-bag, and was in my car in a flash.  Having a car with darkly tinted windows can be a great advantage, and I used the opportunity to hang my panties from the little hook over the window in the back seat.  This was great, as I had never actually found a use for one of these strange catches before.  The drive to campus was about 45 minutes and I was hoping this would be long enough for my undergarments to reach a comfortable moisture level.

My radio was blasting as I sang along with “Tainted Love” on the 80’s station.  Suddenly, the ring-tone of “The Imperial March” broke into my trance.  “Hey Danni!  What’re you up to?…. Of course I’m out of bed.  I have class this morning….. Sure, I’ll swing by to get you, and Brianna….. See ya in a few.”

I cranked my radio back up and returned to my singing.  I felt like the next American Idol in the comfort of my own car.  Yes, I had become quite comfortable in my usual routine of my morning commute.  I didn’t even mind the short detour to get my two best friends, and I had completely forgotten about my panties.

As I pulled up in front of Danni’s apartment, I saw that she and Brianna were out front waiting.  They didn’t see me though, since they were talking to Cameron on the front steps.  Cameron is a superior specimen in every way, and it is no secret that I’ve had a crush on him for about a year now.  The problem is that I never seem to have the ability of making enough small talk around him to keep him in close proximity for long.  I could have sat watching him for hours, but class was in ten minutes, so I honked the horn to get my friends’ attention.  To my surprise, all three came strolling my way.

Brianna opened the door.  “Hi Kat!  Is it all right if we give Cameron a ride?  His car won’t start,” she said, winking at me.

“Oh, sure.  There’s plenty of room.”  With that, Brianna hopped into the back seat, scooting over behind me.  Danni told Cameron she didn’t mind sitting in the back, but he insisted he would sit back there.  Once they were all in, I got the car back on the road.  Danni was digging through my CDs when Cameron said, “I thought your name was Kathryn?”

“Yeah, that’s right.  Why?”

“I just thought it was odd that your panties say “Angel”.

Smash!  In my moment of shock and humiliation, the front end of my small sedan crumpled into the back of a soccer-ball stickered mini-van full of kids carpooling to school.   The airbags had deployed.  “Is everyone all right?”  I heard myself asking, as if outside of my own body.

Once we all realized we were not only still among the living, but also mostly unharmed, we all got out of the car to check on the van full of kids.  The side door on the vehicle opened and there was pandemonium as eight kids spilled out.  Everyone seemed to have a cell phone in hand, and only a few minutes passed before the first cop arrived on the scene.  The officer was taking my statement at the back of my car when one of the kids suddenly yelled out, “Hey, lady!  Is that your underwear on the ground?  Looks like it fell out of your car.”

Copyright by Terri Klaes Harper 2006