Friday, February 11, 2011

"Buried Alive"

NOTE TO READERS: Every once in a while, a student walks in the classroom and starts writing fiction that is just astonishing. Krystal Folk, a freshman at the University at Albany, SUNY, is one such student. She has been taking my Short Story class for just a few weeks but already she's produced some mighty impressive writing. Here is one of her stories, which reminds me just a bit, at least in tone, of "The Yellow Wallpaper," by Charlotte Perkins Gilman. Fortunately, Krystal's story has a far more redemptive ending!

By Krystal Folk

Sometimes I feel the house move at night. It makes a 180-degree turn and it stays there for a little while. No one else feels it, just me.

I lay in bed watching the walls move, hearing the sounds the house makes as it tries to flex its muscles.

It takes about an hour for it to get completely upside down and when it does: the noise stops, all the walls become still, and the house pauses to catch its breath.

It is then when the dresser drawers empty onto the floors, the dishes find their way out of the sink, the dog walks on the ceiling, and the fridge goes bare.

There I am stuck in bed, the whole family is asleep and I am unable to move, to stop all this from happening. I just have to keep still and wait until the house starts to strain, moving a little faster as it rights itself and returns to normal before anyone else wakes and realizes what has happened.

It knows that I know. It waits for everyone else to go to sleep. It waits for me to get in bed with my husband so that it can trap me in my sheets. It laughs as it watches me struggle for freedom, a way out, an escape.

When everyone else wakes up in the morning, it’s like they don’t see the mess.

They stare at me as I run back and forth, fixing that, cleaning this, and preparing their first meal.

When I finish cooking, I stop my running around and sit at the table with my family. It’s a rule: eating time is family time. So when I look at the mess on the counter, the paw prints on the carpet, the clothes in need of laundering, I am trapped in place again.

The house knows this so it begins to make more of a mess. I can’t take it but I can’t do anything about it either.

Once everyone is done eating and off to their own destinations, I rush to clean what I can before the house decides to come alive again.

I wash all the dishes, put the clothes in the machine, replace the books on their shelves, make the beds, vacuum the carpet, put the clothes in the dryer, sweep the wood floors, scrub and polish the bathroom, take care of my baby girl who is stuck here with me, dust everything in sight, iron the clothes, rake the yard, put the delivered groceries in the fridge, let the dog out, and organize every single drawer and closet in the house.

By the time I am done with all of that, family starts to come home and dinner has to be ready in a half hour and once that’s done, it is family time again.

Oh and don't think for a minute that my day is not done after that.

No. The kids need me: the baby needs to be put to bed, the toddler needs to be bathed, the twins need help with their homework, and the oldest has to rant at me about some teenage drama.

“I don’t have any freedom,” the oldest starts. “You and dad never let me go out on the weekend, or drive the car, or anything! I never get to do what I want.”

You cannot be serious I think as I hear these words. You can’t go out? You don’t have any freedom? You never get to do what you want?

That was it, the straw that cracked my back.

I lost it at that moment. I did the house’s job for the night.

I ran through every room doing as much damage as I could. I went nuts. The kids ran to their father and he tried to stop me, but that was useless. I was gone. Nothing could stand in my way. I smashed, demolished, threw, and emptied any and everything.

Not even the stove was safe. The smell of gasoline filled the air as I attacked the stove with all my might. I was all set to douse the stove when that smell brought me back to reality. I looked around the house and saw what I had done.

I laughed the same laugh the house makes at night.

I went over to the crib that held my baby girl. She was awake and laughing too.

She is the only one who knows what I go though all day, the only one who feels the same way I do. I picked her up and walked over to the window. We both glanced around at the mess and just smiled. We then looked out the window in the same direction.

“Honey you just made a mess,” I heard my husband say to me with a tone of distress.

Without looking in his direction, I replayed his words over in my head and then responded with something I had never been able to say before.


Krystal Folk, a freshman at the University at Albany, SUNY, was born and raised in Brooklyn, NY. She intends to major in Business Administration and Social Welfare and to minor, in, what else, ENGLISH!


Anonymous said...

Krystal, your work is stunning and astounding. Thank you.

For all of you followers out there, I am presenting a 'call to comments"; lets start talking about these moving pieces coming through. Thanks to Claudia for creating a damn good community of writers. :)

Lynn Biederstadt said...

Phenomenal. What promise!!!
This writer loves this new writer.
-lynn @

Claudia R said...

Thanks Anonymous for suggesting that people write in about the pieces. LOVE THAT IDEA WOW! Best, Claudia

Laquita Frye said...

Krystal This story was great! I am so proud of you! Keep up the good work as you are such a positive role model for my daughter Lauren who loves to write to.

Anonymous said...

Great piece of literary work! Continue to write and create. I am sure there are better stories hidden away in your brilliant mind1

Wilfred Frye

Jasmon D. said...

I do agree with the comparison to Charlotte Perkins Gilman here - a positive parallel. The tone of this story is very controlled (with abnormal precision for a young writer), which is central to anything done in first person. This was done very well. VERY.

Unknown said...

WOW. Our family has special people along with hidden gems. Krystal you are a GEM. God Bless. Leonard Frye

Anonymous said...

I was intrigued by this story. It kept it wanting to read more - often a problem for me, with short stories. I get hooked and then they end. Very creative and thought-provoking. Nice job.
Marlene Boland