Alive in the Moment
Written with my Thursday night group with the prompts: urge to be alive in the moment, sound of waves lapping around the house, whipping like an energetic tornado, longing for a perfect moment to move you, manage, strolling, pollen, cheat, skins, lines, big giant plane, tired of hearing Dad’s stories, Tower of Stone
Wren was coming to realize that baking was her Zen practice. She never felt a greater urge to be alive in the moment than when she was sifting flour, melting chocolate, or standing over the counter, her Sunbeam handheld mixer whirring in a bowl of heavy cream or egg whites, whipping like an energetic tornado. Her tiny kitchen was her refuge, a place where she could retreat when she was tired of Dad’s stories.
Dad had spent decades managing a factory of skilled welders, electricians, and engineers who created the big giant stealth planes that patrolled the borders, picking off smugglers and spies, maybe asylum seeks and refugees too. The planes were designed to shoot interlopers from so far up, that pilot and navigator could pretend they were tapping small dots of indistinguishable matter, an ant, a bit of pollen, leaves scattering in the breeze, mere lines. The planes were designed to leave the flight crew with a clean, guilt free experience, as if they’d just spent an afternoon in Disneyland. Dad had overseen the production of these giant cheats, and now he agonized over his role in the Border Wars. Wren could think of nothing to say, nothing to do. She offered sweet meringue cookies, a nest of chocolate chips. “They’ll melt in your mouth,” she told him. “They’ll help you forget for a while.”
He went out strolling with cookies in his hands and in his mouth. He found his way to the beaver trail between the river and a stand of trees. The trees grew spindly, tall, and green, their number thinned by beaver teeth. Here in a clearing near the dam, Dad began to build a stone tower, rock upon rock, each a moment of penance for every plane built. Longing for a perfect moment that might move himself to absolution, he declared his tower a monument to his own moral failings.
Finally reaching above his shoulders, the tower teetered and tumbled, and Dad had to laugh at his own vanity, that he had made his guilt a matter of such consequence, a burden to his own daughter. He slipped the rocks carefully into the river and on his way back to the house, he spotted twin snake skins, shed and discarded on the flood plain, a testament to transcendence and change.
At home, Wren was absorbed in folding orange zest and tangy marmalade into an olive oil cake. She could hear the waves lapping around the foundation of her house. She wasn’t sure if the sound was actual or imagined, but she sensed it brought a necessary cleansing.
Photo by Deniz Altindas on Unsplash