I looked down into my lap and traced the outlines of the flowers on my dress with my pointer finger. My legs were crossed at the heels and pushed under my metal chair, along with my backpack. My heels dug into the fabric of the pack but I didn’t notice.
Amy Jackson was sitting to my left looking at the itinerary for the celebration. I lifted my eyes from my dress to her. The white lace of her outfit made her eyes pop. They looked fierce, outlined in black eyeliner and touched by bronzer. They sparkled as she scanned the paper in her hands.
Her hair was brushed behind her ears and it only fell to the nape of her neck. She was able to make her pixie cut look sophisticated without much effort.
“Hey, look. It’s you,” she said as she pointed to my name. It fell under Tyler Nordstrom and Anna Zetterland’s and was preceded with Lyrics written by. I stared at where she was pointing.
Today has been a very bad day,
Scrounging and scouring and lying in wait.
Running and scrambling, searching for a way
by dreaming and panicking, staying up late.
The night sky, twinkling and rolling
while the thoughts in my head are painfully scrolling
Attacking and splattering,
Ripping and shredding.
Today has been a very bad day.
Yesterday was a very bad day
with blood-stained thoughts and dreams.
Infiltrated by fear that just won’t go away
and painstaking acuteness it seemed.
Blinded and battered,
pushed until my heart shattered.
Seeing and screaming that
everything is beyond dreaming.
Yesterday was a very bad day.
Tomorrow will be a different day
where this deafening silence will finally be broken,
where the world will finally pay
and words will not be left unspoken.
I will finally sleep a dreamless sleep
and the world, with all my secrets, will keep
living and loving,
uncrippling and forgiving
tomorrow will be a different, maybe better, day.
My lips tugged into a small smile.
“Yeah, it is. Tyler said that he and Anna are really excited,” I said.
“Have you heard it yet?”
“No, I haven’t. Anna asked if I wanted to hear it yesterday but I wanted to be surprised with everyone else.” My eyes darted to the piano in the corner of the room and back to Amy. “I’m nervous, but I know that they’ll make it sound amazing no matter what.”
I folded my hands in my lap and kneaded them together. I pulled my right thumb down between both hands and folded it into my palms. I chewed on the corner of my bottom lip.
“Mari!” I heard from behind me. I looked over my shoulder and my lips turned down at the corners. “Mari, this is your poem on the back.”
I sighed with relief as I turned and realized it was only Professor Triezenberg. My smile returned. She was perched on the very edge of her seat, leaning forward while sweeping her fingers down the words I had written a year earlier.
“Yes,” I chuckled, “Tyler and Anna are going to perform it today.”
“I didn’t realize you liked to write poetry,” she said. I merely smiled and nodded my head and turned around. Not many people knew my interest in poetry.
Professor Werden walked to the podium and began to announce the winners of that year’s Kiosk prizes. I sat glassy-eyed as we heard the champions read their pieces to the audience. One-by-one they took the stage, and one-by-one they left.
I shook my head and the room came back into focus as I heard my name.
“I was reading through the poetry selections for this year’s Kiosk and Mari Pizzini’s poem just grabbed my attention,” Anna was saying. I looked up and waved as everyone turned in my direction. My cheeks reddened.
“Her poem is written on the back of the brochure if you want to follow along as I sing. I hope you enjoy,” Anna finished. Her smile was almost as bright as the plastic-y gemstones that covered her knee-length skirt.
She stepped back so she was in line with the piano and turned to nod at Tyler, who was sitting on the piano bench. He dipped his head down and ran his fingers across the keys, coming to a stop at Middle C. Then he played.
Our song flowed with key after key, and Anna’s voice soon joined the serenade. With each word, my head moved slowly towards my hands in my lap.
Painfully scrolling brought my hand to my cheek. Bloodstained thoughts and dreams broke my heart again. A tear streaked down my cheek and my neck, landing in my lap. I brushed it away as I remembered when I had first written the words that were being sung.
My paper had been wrinkled and tearstained. Drop after drop had flowed onto the lined page that day in January of 2017. I couldn’t stop the tears, and I couldn’t stop the words.
I squeezed my eyes shut, tightly, as Anna continued to sing. I wanted to remember this piece without thinking of Julie’s face.
My heart was up there with Anna and every word showed it more plainly to our attentive audience.
I spread my fingers through my bangs. Poetry had always been my way out, and music had always been my way of connecting with other people. Here I am, letting other people hear my pain.
Creation had always been important to me, to my family, to my friends, and to most people in my life. It had always been a way of communicating pain and hope.
Abby Koch described creation as her “mental relief” and it shows who we are today. Who people are and who they become. I sat watching Tyler as his hands drifted over the keys and how Anna’s eyes slowly closed as she sang each note.
Creation can’t be just for me. It has to be for someone else. Our song was for everyone in the room. My eyes drifted from chair to chair, landing on Amy, and Christina, and Leslie.
This song was for Julie. For the pain she felt and the pain she left when she died. This was my creation. This was my mental relief.
Anna’s voice trailed off as she sang tomorrow, and my breathing hitched as Tyler echoed her words with his keys. I sighed out as the music died, and lifted my head.
There was nothing more I could give. No more strength, no more hope, no more pain. I had laid it out one-by-one, A-B-C, key after key after key.