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July 19, 2019

The Art of Fiction: The Closet


I am five. Locked in a small, dark, musky, chemical-cleaning-supply-laden closet in a German pre-school. Dark. Can’t breathe. Claustrophobic. Can’t sit. No room. Brooms and brushes grab at my skin each time I tire and lean. Seems like hours. I think if I can just relax close my eyes and try to catch some oxygen in the little air hovering in between metal tools, cans, wire scrubbers and smelly cotton rags, it will eventually be over. Or not. But I am not going to cry. I am not going to let them win. Relax, let the darkness be a blanket. Slow breath calms me. I will survive this.

In the silence I remember.

Friend’s frenzied schoolyard play. Young voices untamed. Screaming in joy and the music of childhood. I am ecstatic. Life is a sunny road to be trampled as I run always forward – well, not always straight ahead, sometimes I am a propeller turning in circles, arms swinging, wind whistling as my DNA rips through the atmosphere leaving a wake of joy.

There is a fountain in that yard. It has a round vessel on top which drips water into the lily pond waiting below, its smooth surface hungry for more. Drops plunge into the unknown below, kicking up tiny bugs, stirring algae and waking the yellow orange black grey white gold fish who dance with fins flapping slowly. Hunting. Catching dinner. I stare, wondering what it would be like to be able to breathe underwater. What does it look like in there? What do they see? What do they hear? Do they feel? What? What? What?

Beautiful. I can’t take my eyes off them. Better than concrete games. This is life extended from me into another realm. My thoughts, like electric ribbons, surround, touch, fly. I am hypnotized for an eternal moment.

Then. The arm. Hand at the end. Reaching. Grabbing. Dragging. The face. Huge and menacing. Screaming in my eyes.

I am thrown in the closet. Broken rules have consequences.

But I have my dark blanket and memories. I survive. I am a Ballerina. Princess. Magician. Beautiful flower. Scientist. Musician. Photographer. Story-teller. I am all.

I fly.

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“The Closet” by Cirina Catania, August 14, 2016
Los Angeles, California
Photo (c) Cirina Catania, all rights reserved

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