This is a change of pace, but hey, it’s my blog, I can do what I want! Back in Chicago, back in my life-before-baby, I was taking a creative writing class and really loving it. Since Adeline joined us I haven’t been back, but I’d like to keep doing some writing. So I found a website of creative writing prompts and I’m going to try to do one a week. Or so. I’m sharing them here to keep myself motivated. And I’d love any feedback. Enjoy!
Prompt: Tell a story from the point of view of the kitchen floor
OK, let’s just get one thing clear right away: I am the kitchen floor. You’re probably thinking, “Why on earth would I want to read a story about the kitchen floor?” And to that I say, come now, dear reader, don’t be ridiculous! This story isn’t about me. I mean, good God! I’m just a floor. No, no, this story is about what I’ve seen. And believe me, I’ve seen a lot. After all, I’ve been around for over 100 years. Oh, sure, they touched me up a bit when they rehabbed the place 15 years or so ago. But it’s still me, I’ve been under here all along. I’ve seen families come and go, couples and bachelors, young kids and old ladies. I’ve watched them, but I’ve been silent. I’ve seen what people do when no one else is around, how people treat each other when no one can see, how people treat themselves. It’s not pretty. And sometimes it’s beautiful.
I’ve seen lonely men come home after a late day at the office and pull a beer from the fridge. Then another beer and another. Maybe he smokes, maybe he doesn’t. I watch him walk off into the living room, to turn on the tv yet again. I wonder when he’ll have company, when I might see another set of feet. I’ve seen lonely women, too. Some women drink too much. She waits until late at night when she’s the only one awake. She starts slow, just one glass of wine. She sits at the kitchen table and spends the night on her computer; checking facebook and message boards and forums, reaching out for contact, a friend. Anybody. Eventually she’s drunk the whole bottle. She doesn’t sleep and she doesn’t eat and she’s getting too thin. But she can’t stop herself. Other women have other problems. She makes herself a good dinner, she tries so hard to be healthy. But I know she’ll be back. Late at night the hall light turns on and she’s opening the freezer. Just some ice cream this time and next time I go to the store I promise I won’t buy anymore. She sits on the floor and eats it, as though if she doesn’t go too far from the fridge it doesn’t count. I feel her tap her toes, the anxiety keeping her up isn’t calmed by the food.
I see happy moments too – I’ve seen plenty of parties, where everyone inevitably gathers in the kitchen. Friends catch up after too long, sharing gossip and secrets. People chat and mingle, tell stories and laugh. Girls congregate in corners and giggle too much, leaving everyone else wondering what they’re having so much fun about. By the end of the night they’ve dropped food on me and spilled their drinks, but I don’t mind. I love to see people like this – if only for this night, they’re happy. And maybe if I’m lucky I see two people meet. I watch their feet, the way she tucks one foot behind the other, nervous but also flirtatious. He steps closer to hear her over the din of the crowd. She follows suit and soon they’re close enough to touch, they want to touch. I don’t know what happens when they leave the party, but I know they had a chance.
I’ve seen young lovers cook together, so happy to treat each other to the joy of a meal lovingly prepared. They play Sinatra and dance as they stir sauces and sauté veggies. They drink wine out of one glass and giggle and kiss more than they eat. They sit at the table for hours after the meal, talking about love and life, their dreams, their past, anything and everything. They have their whole lives in front of them, and nowhere they’d rather be. She prances around barefoot, her toenails painted, still trying to impress. Her high heels long kicked into a corner of the room, forgotten for the night.
I’ve seen those same heels kicked off again, but this time she’s drunk, taking off her shoes to quiet her steps, hoping not to wake him. She’s home late again, who knows where she’s been. He’s angry again. They fight in the kitchen as always; their feet land hard now as they storm around. They scream at each other, saying the things they know will hurt the most, things I wish I’d never heard. He throws her to the ground and I catch her. But I can’t break her fall, try as I might to soften myself and comfort her. I’m no comfort now. In the morning they’re back again, sitting at the kitchen table with a wall of ice between them. I watch and I listen. They don’t hear each other, but I hear them both. If only I could take them by the shoulders, shake some sense into them. Show them what the other feels, how the other hurts. But I can’t. I sit in silence and watch a marriage fall apart. I’m just a floor, what more can I do?
I’ve seen children, too, and it’s them I love the most. They’re closer to me, down on my level. They know I’m not just a surface to be walked upon, but a place to play, a place to learn new things and discover new worlds. While mom is cooking baby crawls under her feet. She sees every detail of my grain, see the crumbs from last night’s dinner not yet cleaned up. She finds the one board that’s warped and she thumbs it. I feel loved, appreciated, not taken for granted. But she grows, faster than I’d like. Soon she’s running not crawling. Soon she’s climbing on furniture and making a fort of the kitchen table. So quickly she’s forgotten those moments we had. Before I know it she’s a teenager, hardly deigning to spend five minutes in the house, let alone in the kitchen. She’s gone before I know it.
And I’m still here. I watch and I listen but I don’t get involved. After all, I’m just the kitchen floor.