Saturday, January 31, 2009

the shared night

feeling silly. i wrote this a long time ago, but it matches my mood this evening.

ah, juvenilia. don't it sing in its immaturity?

enjoy, as you are now the first person who has read this in a very long time. the mall, we drag mother behind us pulling her from store to store. The candy store, with its bright lights illuminating row upon row of mouth watering delights grabs our attention. We step across the line dividing the store from the mall’s walkway and like skittish mountain goats leap at each display.
When we have accrued enough sugary junk to coat our stomachs for the rest of the week, we dump our purchases onto the counter and wait for mother to pay. She fishes her wallet from the inner depths of her purse and produces a stiff twenty-dollar bill (candy’s expensive these days). And then we’re cartwheeling out of the store, our candy laden baggies stuffed into our sweaty hands.
The mall is thick with autumnal shoppers loaded down by red-lined merchandise, all the summer goodies priced to sell. The mall itself is like a great heaving beast blowing streams of hot air all around. You can get a direct blast if you know where to stand.
The shops have already started decorating for Christmas, even though Halloween is still weeks away. Fluffs of delicate white cotton line the giant shop windows, triple the size of me, and a jack-o-lantern sits next to the tobacco shop door.
We continue on, my little sister and I, leaving mother in our wake. One can sense the nervousness emanating from mother as she weaves in and out of the swarming mass trying to keep us in sight. She glances at the faces of the people she passes wondering which are good and which are evil; which of these benign people would grab her children and steal away with them into the cold night if given half the chance.
We spot the gaping mouth of the Hallmark store and dash inside. We pass the cards, calendars and knickknacks until we come to the back wall of the store where the Halloween paraphernalia is laid out for our perusal. Perched on long glass shelves and hanging from metallic hooks are little glass pumpkins, skeleton candles, All Hallows Eve pins and buttons, paper decorations of Frankenstein’s Monster, Count Dracula, and hatefully grinning jack-o-lanterns. Here and there are the odds and ends needed to really complete your Halloween costume: a devil’s tail, kitten’s ears, large rotting plastic teeth, skeleton rings and green safety sticks that glow when you crack them.
We pile our arms with this and that, then run to where mother is waiting by the front. She shakes her head at the assortment of junk, but let’s us have most of it anyway. My little sister insists on wearing her kitten ears out. She looks like a little feline with her lion’s mane of brown hair and glittering brown eyes. I half expect to see her start to lick her paws.
Back out into the swarm, pushing our way toward the doors and the cold that will instantly envelope us as we hit the parking lot. Mother keeps us close, shielding us from the biting fingers of Jack Frost with her own warm body.
In the car, the heat comes on and I slip into semi-consciousness, savoring the warmth on my feet. My sister chatters to mother revealing her happy purchases one by one then sharing the candy booty. I listen to the gentle lulling words from the front seat as I stare out the window. The brown headlight lit landscape fuzzes along with their words until I am basting in dreamland, thinking about nothing, letting the thoughts reign my unconscious as I relax into the warm seat. The night is all around us keening its dark song for the benefit of those who listen.
We start down the long hill toward our house and this brings me back to reality. I pull one of the packages into my lap and reflected in the upward curve of the window I see a flash of my red devil’s tail. I dig through the bag grasping my prize triumphantly. It’s made of shiny red fabric. I can feel the seam with my fingers and follow its lead to the top of the tail where the plastic band that encircles the wearer’s waist lies coiled. The childish urge to put the tail on right then in the car consumes me, but I wait until the car turns up the driveway and into the garage.
The garage door shuts behind us with a resounding thud and we are entrapped in darkness. Mother gets out and turns on the garage light, flooding the car with fluorescent sunlight. The tail seems to shimmer in my hand, so I hop out of the car and put it on.
My sister and I run into the house, through the large kitchen, down the long hallway and straight into the bathroom. We each clamber onto a sink to get a better look at our newly re-made selves. The kitten and the devil, each on a different sink admiring themselves in the two, long, white wicker encased mirrors hanging on the green bathroom wall. We can hear mother in the kitchen getting dinner ready, so we hop down again and run to show her.
The hallway is long, it seems longer for some reason tonight, as we skip and canter down its creamy length. We hit hardwood and slide in our stocking feet into the warmth of the kitchen. Mother stands at the Mexican tile island deveining chicken. The thick pearly blue veins lie discarded beside the cutting board. I grab a handful of the slippery things and proceed to chase the kitten around the room. She shrieks and runs around the oak table, jumps on the blue couch, then hides behind the folds of mother’s skirt. I try to penetrate the castle ramparts, but she is well protected. I lose interest in the game and drop the veins into the garbage disposal. The kitten squeals and comes back out to play.
We run from room to room flicking on all the lights until the darkness takes refuge in the corners. We feel safe in our house, all the doors and windows locked, the television on, the lights keeping guard, but it’s only a tenuous sheath that separates us from the rest of the world, from the impenetrable blackness of the shared night.
The kitchen begins to smell like chicken and stir-fried vegetables. It’s time for dinner and the devil and the kitten sit down to eat.


  1. That's some great writing. I wish I could write like that Amber, I always tell a lot of people that you are very talented at what you do and I always mean it you've shown it time and time again.

    Take care and try and get some sleep.

  2. This proves once again why you are my favorite author. Not bad considering you replaced Nancy Garden in that right.

    I am always inspired by your writing, hopefully my own book will be published soon.

    I can't wait to see more of your work.

  3. Cute story :D I'm taking creative writing this semester, so hopefully I'll start producing again over at

    Deveining chickens? That's worthy of a Dar Williams "eugh." :P But I like how it makes my stomach flip-flop.

    By the way, I don't know if you remember me, but I saw you at the Cinema Arts Centre on Long Island. I was the "precocious" teen who dragged his parents along for the showing. :D

  4. I could sit here and read for hours anything you write, trust me, anything...

    You have a way with words that simply amazes me.

    Thanks for sharing this.

  5. I have to say, I've been reading a lot of great authors lately in my AP Lit class and non of them take to me a place this did, I could see every detail from the house to the car to the mall and there was something about the cat ears and devil's tail that had a comforting sense of familiarity that just made me want to go and find my old cat ears, not to wear but to save for if I ever have a daughter

    sorry that comment went to a strange place but I just really love your writing, can't wait to read more

  6. I wonder how old you were when you wrote this? You did a great job of using sensory detail; a lot of young writers have trouble remembering to do that, but you put us into the moment with all the senses.

  7. Dang...that's some awesome writing. :D I'm jealous. lol.

  8. nice imagery,it seems so foreign to me though (it is, it should be). I seemed to have forgotten how to use adjectives as we are highly discouraged to use them in our works.

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  10. L0VE!! Just discovered your blog two days ago so I have alot of catchup reading to do, but I do it gladly :)

    I must get you to come and shoot here in The Bahamas one day, would love to work with you at some point. Hopefully, a collarboration would create art we can BOTH be proud of - and if commerce can come of it also, that'll be a plus!

    Artistically Yours,

    Samantha P.