Friday, July 26, 2013
Excerpt from "Over the Rainbow" by Brian Rowe
Toward the end of 1997, my dad finally allowed me to have a computer in my room (“for homework purposes,” he insisted). Mira and I chatted online almost every day. She didn’t seem like a stranger from across the country, but like a close friend I simply didn’t have the pleasure in seeing. No matter where I was, at school, soccer practice, church—wherever—I wanted to be at home, with my butt planted on my rickety computer chair. The screechy sounds of my dial-up were music to my ears. “You’ve got mail,” became three of my favorite words. They meant a new message from Mira.
It didn't take me long to come clean to her about my dismal home life. My father Raymond had been themayor of Topeka for four years and was in early preparations to run for Kansas State Governor; he was also a conservative Evangelical whose candid bigotry seemed to increase with each passing day. I had my very own wicked stepmother Connie,who, with her dark purple suits and blood red curly hair, tried to take theplace of my deceased mother Zoe—as if she ever could. My older blackhead-infested twin brothers, Abram and Asher, stayed away from me most of the time—out of dislike or disinterest, I didn’t yet know—but when they did say hello they liked to greet me by dragging me through the house and throwing me into the backyard pool.
To make matters worse, I didn’t make friends with many people my age. I was picked on for being a tomboy, and for being a video game nerd. Sometimes just getting through the day became akin to surviving the various missions I played in my games. But Mira was always there for me. She always knew what to say to make my pain go away.
In the two years since we first instant messaged each other, she’d sent me more than 300 e-mails. My favorite came last September, on the eve of my seventeenth birthday:
this morning I saw a chickadee
outside on the porch
she made me think of you and me
she stayed for a long time
eating my birdfeed
her beak knocking against the chime
but when it was time to fly
she stretched out her wings
and launched high in the sky
1 more year
12 more months
365 more days
and you're free
like the chickadee
i love you my darling z