Elsie and the Pig

For anyone who knew Elsie, the story I’m about to tell won’t come as a surprise. Elsie was hands-on, her clothes often covered in mud, her behavior boisterous at times. In her family, she was the quiet one, for everyone else, she was rather peculiar with a sense of humor bordering the crude. With a heart too sensitive for the outside world, she kept her feelings hidden behind a facade of I-don’t-care, her emotions aggressive whenever she feared someone threatened to expose her inner world.

Her stories always rather gory, her friends were used to hearing fables of lost limbs, wives celebrating their husbands’ deaths and infected dog bites. They didn’t flinch at pet names such as Ebola or Plague and had learned to laugh off her regular slurs. So one day, when Elsie started to tell one of her stories in a voice bubbling with suppressed rage, no one questioned the name she used to describe a beloved family member and that, in return, said a lot about Elsie’s friends themselves.

“Didn’t I tell you,” Elsie asked half annoyed. “She’s finally dead. I can’t believe how long it took her to finally call it quits.”

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Between the Lines

You remember watching television with your parents as a child. A film, a show, a play – you didn’t specify but you told them, “I can do better than that.” And I listen to your words in the interview room and nod my head. I was exactly the same. Eight years old or nine, convinced that I would tackle a part differently from what I saw on screen, that I had the emotions I saw someone else play right up my sleeve. And yet the difference between you and me? Your parents were actors, they took you seriously. They knew what it takes to get you to audition for a part I longed for but would never play.

So while you started following your heart, I was just thinking what you said out loud, because my family mocked me whenever I expressed my wish to be in front of a camera. And whenever I got frustrated or acted out against the restraints I felt, they would just kid me. “Stop being so dramatic and save that for the stage you claim to crave,” they’d say or, “The circus is in town, maybe the clowns could use your tantrums as inspiration.” No support for my honest wish to be a performer, just words that hardened me as I grew up.

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Hope

I saw her in my dreams today – her hair was curly and blond, her eyes blue with a touch of petrol green. She was only three and oh so beautiful. I saw my little daughter, felt her name so gentle on my lips, her laughter warm and comfortable in my heart.

I was having tea with my muse who is very real, of flesh and blood, and so alive her smile is bubbling over. In my dream, I visited her home, shared stories with her about our work, our lives, the faith that holds us both together. I listened to her as she told me about her family, of the many changes she has faced in her life. I felt like her grand-daughter for a moment, reminded of the last time I truly felt like coming home – before my grandma had died so many years ago.

I moved my hand over my belly, so round and firm, felt another life growing inside of me while my daughter was running around the coffee table, her laughter bubbly, like my muse’s, when I softly shouted her name.

I woke, moments later, full of hope, humbled, cushioned; my heart bursting over with love and trust. I closed my eyes and saw her again, my little girl, heard the echo of her voice as I chased after her in the backyard of a welcoming home. Too fast for me to catch, she stayed with me in my mind, lively and innocent in the presence of my muse. Together, they smiled at me and I felt whole, blessed to have that image, that afterglow of something real and fresh – it gave me faith again in what comes next.