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Tami Cohen and Trevor Fuhrman

Tami Cohen
Created using Trevor Fuhrman’s story (below) as inspiration

Disappearing Into the Crow
By Trevor Fuhrman

I had always heard Mr. Springs had been in Vietnam. In hushed tones this knowledge was whispered about in the quad of my high school and the wind carried it to every ear. Beyond this seemingly mundane fact there were no details of his experience or no horrific story warped with every retelling. There were only the simple words, Mr. Springs fought in Vietnam.

When I enrolled in his history class I knew that I was finally going to be able to get the truth, however horrible it may be. Each class I arrived early hoping to catch of glimpse of Mr. Springs with one foot up on a table boasting war stories to a group of early youths. Surely there were reasons why this fact was even talked about on a high school already saturated with drama. Yet, beyond his personal quarks he was a just another teacher going through the motions: To teach, to try to inspire, to remind us kids how easy we have it. Before long he sank down to the rank of “one of my teachers from school.” In the midst of high school that little kernel of truth kicked around in the back of my mind.

Numerous times before his class I would sit in the quad frantically finishing my homework. A buddy would pass by and ask me what I was doing. After relaying my mission impossible I was always met with “homework for Springs’ class, eh? D’you know he was in Vietnam?”

To which I could only respond, “ya so, what about it?”

Whoever it was would just shrug and walk off. I would be left, furrowed brow, still wondering why this fact was so fascinating to everyone. This exact occurrence replayed so many times I became a mute to it all, just nodding and returning to my work.

It was not until four years after I had graduated from high school that I finally understood.

My mom had asked me to join her in going over to my old high school to watch the big football game against the cross town rivals. The combination of not having any plans on such a spectacularly sunny Saturday afternoon prompted my agreement.

The game was beyond packed. The anomaly of having to wait in such a spectacularly large line for a high school sporting baffled my mom and I. We both decided it best to just watch the first half from the street through the chain link fence.

As were walking over I saw that the home team grandstands, usually sparingly dotted with supportive parents, were now home to thousands of screaming fans all jammed together, not one inch of bleacher to spare. After the first quarter we entered.

My mom and I ended up climbing the stairs to the top of the stands just to be able to stand three rows deep in a walking corridor now reserved for standing room only. The game went on as games do. The cheering, the booing, the referees that obviously want the other team to win, the slightly intoxicated guy next to you yelling at opposing player believing wholeheartedly they could hear him.

I was glad to just be there, in the midst of it all, watching my old high school take it to the cross town rivals. The announcer booth was no more than ten feet from me and I became fascinated with a youngster who proudly walked in and out of the door of the booth, reveling in his access, wanting everyone to see where he could go. At half time I saw the child leave the booth, this time followed by an older man.

When I saw the man instantly every fiber of my being tingled with fascination. Quite apart from his physical obesity, there was a level of human being beyond form obviously vacant. The manner in which he carried himself was like that of a wounded soldier, aimlessly seeking to find help in the jungles of a foreign land. His eyes cried out for help and his face reflected the absence of a returning call. The man pasted near by me and lumbered down the stairs one step at a time struggling his way in the direction of the restrooms. As he was disappearing into the crowd I realized I had just witnessed a walking casualty. As if wounded in battle some time ago, the medic had only stopped the bleeding, letting the soul trickle away. My fascination itched itself into an anxious longing for his return.

Moments before the third quarter began the man approached the grandstands. With the sun in my eyes I peered directly at the man, squinting with concentration. My eyelids shot wide while covering my mouth with my hand, suppressing a gasp. It was Mr. Springs.

In that moment I realized that the parasite of Vietnam was thriving in his mind, consuming him from the inside out. This man was still a soldier, fighting against the images in his mind, a battle against forced stronger than his own. His physical form, which others had always reminded him he was blessed to still have after Vietnam, was now the only part of the man that existed.

His body told the story of his eternal suffering. His body told the story of how he had been dying for over thirty five years. His body told the story; it read: In war there are no survivors, the end.

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Tami Cohen
Inspiration piece provided to Trevor Fuhrman

Untitled
By Trevor Fuhrman

What is real?

The picture is all I have left of that day, but it’s more than I’ll ever need.

Graduate school can force you into a box of blind commitment. Eagerly I had stepped right in and shut the door on the outside world, and my own.

I spent an absorbent amount of time at the campus library. My familiarity of the library grew to such an extent that the entire staff knew me on a first name basis. I secluded myself on the third floor; if you take the stairs and head straight for the reference desk, turn left and walk through the isles to the wall with the tall ceilings, you’ll see just to your right at the small circular table surrounded by a castle of books.

I made it a habit to arrive to the library five minutes before it opened and ritualize my sitting in that same spot on the third floor. I spent most of everyday, more time that I personally divulge in public, in the library. Had it not been for the chair I sat in, I would have been seen as just another nerd, or unseen completely.

Let me explain. It was during the semester, long after those first few weeks when the library was still a place I could get lost in. From the protection of my castle I could hear what seemed to be the screeching of a train which began to crescendo dramatically. My head shot up and cocked to the left towards the stairs. I couldn’t see through the dense isles of books but the sound grew louder and louder, filling the entire floor. I arose from my desk and walked where I could see the reference desk. The cause of the sound became visual, an entire kindergarten class utilizing the reference desk as a climbing wall. Let’s just say Bernice, the hot-headed widow with silver-haired whom I had yet to meet, was red faced with anger knowing her attempts to quite and control the group were futile. The overweight teacher who had only punished themselves by deciding on the stairs had caught up and got her troop into two lines. I returned to the castle and got back to business.

My entire being was wholly absorbed in the Complete Works of Plato when I became aware of a repeated sniffling behind me. The sound was gentle and quiet, I knew it was one of the kids. Are one of those things loose? I wondered. For a moment I kept my head as it was, only darting my eyes to the left.

Nothing.
I waited.
Another sniffle, followed up by two more.

Ever so slightly I laid the book down on my lap. I outstretched my arms onto the appropriate arm rest and then proceeded to twist my upper body from the waist while engaging the arms. This classic move was a great way to look behind you under the guise that you were stretching.

There it was: a little girl, alone, sitting on this tiny little chair, alone, in the corner, alone, only a few feet away, alone! Surely she was with the class. She looked about kindergarten age… four, five, six, seven? It seemed like an eon ago since I had been in kindergarten, plus a couple of years.

Suddenly she caught my eyes and locked them in place. I wanted to turn my head but my eyes were stuck. An awkward smile slowly spread across my face. The book fell right out of my lap and hit the carpet with a dulled THUD.

“Hey there… ummm… what’s your name?” I questioned in the sweetest tone manageable.

Without responding she arose from her little chair and walked up to my immediate left, within whispering distance.

Just above an audible level it rushed out, “My name is Hailey like the comet I pushed Billy but he pushed me first but I got in trouble and he didn’t I don’t think its fair I told Ms. Fields but she just dragged me over here and made me sit in this chair. It is not fair, not fair, not fair, Billy started it.” Her tone was that of a sobbing princess which resonating within.

Tears soaked into her skin, blossoming bright red. I sat there confused. Plato could never prepare me for this situation. I stood and kicked him and all his works aside motioning for Hailey to sit. Her little legs dangled off the everyday adult library chair. I reached out my right arm and placed it on the left arm rest, searching for peace in her eyes.

“Everything is going to be all right, Hailey. Everything is going to be all right. No need to cry. It’s not like you are in any real trouble anyway. Yesterday I forgot to hang my parking placard from my rear view mirror when I got to school and I got a thirty-five dollar ticket. Can you believe that?” I stopped myself with a shake of the head, my consoling was pathetic.

“What is a pla – pla – play-card?” She attempted.

I recovered. “Nevermind, it doesn’t matter. All I’m saying is right here right now you are just fine, right?”

The word right echoed within my mind. The return was WRONG… wrONG.., ONG… ong… The wave of a thousand memories suddenly rose up within my mind, the deafening crash the only noise remaining. The wave exited through the eyelids, falling fast and hot. Anger, hatred, confusion all flooded over me. I couldn’t believe this was happening, right here, right now.

Underneath the noise I heard Hailey get up. I tried to open my eyes but tears were all I could see. I wiped my hand across my face smearing tears and snot. From my knees, with my head hanging in despair, I managed to peer through an eye to see Hailey standing before me. She was holding the chair she had been sitting in. She put it down carefully and motioned for me to sit in it.

It was the epitome of a kindergartner’s chair. The bendable plastic one-piece seat and backing was vibrant in a Washington apple red. The four chrome plated steel legs shined as if they were new and stood strong even under my weight. The height of the seat was no more than a foot off the ground which brought my knees nearly up to my face. I rested my head. The interval between tears lengthened and I began to breathe. With closed eyes I saw the entire scene. Her little legs dangling off the seat. Her big blue eyes staring at my doubled over body in the tiny chair, crying without reason.

“Everything is going to be all right” Hailey’s tone and cadence had mimicked my own from only moments ago. “Christmas is only in twenty-three days away. Just ask Santa for $35. Then everything will be all right.” Her sincerity was overwhelming. I reveled in her childlike view of the world, the magical simplicity, wishing it were my own. If only she knew what was truly bothering me. The memories of a thousand wrong choices I had so carefully swept underneath all the mental noise. I swore they had gone, how could I have tripped? If only there was a fat man in a red and white suit who could replace my problems with presents. I haven’t believed in that since, well, kindergarten.

I felt the hand of Hailey touch my shoulder, the sensation of brushing up against me like wings of my guardian angel. I felt her breath as she whispered, “Everything is going to be all right, everything is going to be fine.”

The warmth of the voice released my frozen posture. I turned around to thank her. I gasped loudly. To my astonishment, no one was there. I sprung up and ran up and down every isle, no Hailey. I went to the reception desk ,where I met Bernice, whom informed me the class had left some twenty minutes ago. I check every isle, every floor. No Hailey.

I returned to the castle, grabbed my camera from my purse, and set the chair against the wall and took a picture. You wouldn’t spend more than two-seconds looking at the picture, during which all you’d see is a kindergartners chair pushed up against a wall. You’d miss the faint shadow of the chair, outlining a little girl.

Through Bernice’s ranting I learned that Parkside Elementary had brought their kindergarten class to the library that day. I personally drove there and met with the teacher, Ms. Fields. “Nope, no Hailey in this class, no Billy either, why do you ask?”

The castle guarded that chair the rest of the semester. I sat in it everyday, eye level with the table, telling the story to whomever inquired. Their look of disbelief mirrored my own when Hailey had told me to ask Santa for help.

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