Sunday, April 29, 2007

Flash Fiction: Lorena Smith

REBEL WITHOUT A CAUSE

The first time I thought about rebellion was in a Sunday School Class. The teacher was telling us about John the Baptist and immediately my 8 year old imagination was captured by this figure. In my minds eye he was dressed in black leather, eating locusts (which I thought was a kind of bread), camping out in the desert and telling people to shape up or feel the wrath of God. He was a cooooool dude. Later after I heard that locusts were like grasshoppers and he was really wearing camel skin (furry and smelly) my interest waned a little bit. But my fascination with rebels continued. I was always drawn to them, in books and in cinema. I rejected James Dean (too wishy-washy - he didn’t even have a cause!), fell in love with all the boys of the Outsiders and longed for the day when I too could get a tattoo and piercing to prove my rebellion

High school of course was like the hot bed of rebellion. Everyone was rebelling. Piercing practically dripped from every lip, eyebrow and tongue. Tattoos flowered like a poppy field in bloom. The uniformity of our rebellion resulted in conformity like never before. I found myself annoyed and disgusted by this whole-hearted show of fitting in while trying to stick out. Where had all the rebels gone?

And then I met Maria. I literally bumped into her on a flight of stairs. I was running down them, she was walking slowly up them with a cane and a bag of groceries precariously balanced. I rounded a corner and my black leather jacket flew open and swept the bag of groceries straight out of her arms and onto the floor. I opened my eyes wide in horror and looked up at the kindly eyes looking back at me. Even with my not so imposing height at 5’2” she was much shorter than me and had to peer up. Her back was bent with osteoporosis and she wore very sensible shoes. Not my picture of a rebel at all. More a picture of my grandma. But those eyes. Full of sparkle and humor.

I helped her pick up her groceries and carry them to her apartment. When I got in there I saw row upon row of African keepsakes. Tall, carved statues in ebony of tall men and women with babies on their backs or with spears in their hands. Paintings of Lions, Elephants and Wildebeests. A huge leopard skin stretched on the wall. My mouth literally fell open. Her apartment smelt like spices and warm milk. There was a jungle of plants in her tiny living room. Crocuses and Hibiscus and Fikus plants.

She told me she’d spent most of her life in Tanzania working as a nurse in a remote jungle hospital. She said how her parents hadn’t wanted her to go, but the pull had been too strong. She had left. She had photos of the babies she’d delivered, of the people she’d helped. And all long before the time of international phone calls and e-mails. The fact that a tiny woman would venture out to this country where she had never been to serve people she had never known boggled the mind." But we were foolish you know” she smiled, “rebellious, wanting to live, to learn, to do something different.”

She poured me another cup of tea and I felt my tongue piercing clang ineffectively against the rim of the cup.


~ Lorena Smith appears in Elegant Thorn Review for the first time.

1 comment:

از زبان ديگران 2 said...

very nice and well crafted story.
I am an Iranian translator and I have translated many short stories by American and other nationals into Farsi.
Your story is well crafted one and I want to find more works of yours.
You can reach me at asadamraee@gmail.com