When I was four, my father gave me a crystal rabbit. Translucent yet cloudy, the figure symbolized mystery to me, though at such a young age, I could not begin to give the rabbit a story. Instead, I gave words to my father’s gift, words that described how I felt: Hope. Pretty. Dream.
Jennifer Mills Kerr's short fiction, memoir, and poetry have been published in The Dickens Literary Review, Flashquake, and First Leaves Journal, among others. An East Coast native, she is a lover of mild winters, anything Jane Austen, and the raucous coastline of Northern California. You can read more of her creative work at www.JenniferMillsKerr.us.
Today, Madeline Sharpton told everyone at school that I had herpes. She’s a mean girl, practically six feet tall, and that tall-ness gives her a weird authority in the world of middle school. All the other students believed her–including my so-called friends. I’m only thirteen, but it must be the worst day in my life forever.
Once I had my hair down to my waist, a gap between my teeth. I believed in the power of music, that it could change the world. My name is Charlotte by the way. My father used to say that I was too big for my britches. Who uses the word “britches” these days? Though Dad said that a long time ago–we’re talking the 70s. I’m an old(er) lady now, and Dad’s long gone.
We will always live in moments of uncertainty. I have no idea what the future will bring, not only for me, but for our country. The page, however, refutes uncertainty. It is a white canvas, destined for creation, and within its square space, holds the promise of an affirmation. Even while describing loss, our words are born, again and again and again.
Art is a conversation. We absorb our worlds, consciously and unconsciously, and when we create art, we’re expressing those experiences, whatever they may be. With the shelter-in-place order, I no longer spent my days teaching in a high school classroom. My ears rang, not with the usual buzz of my 130 students, but with an unfamiliar silence. I felt myself floating in a bubble of space and solitude, listening rather than speaking, an exchange student in a new land.