Excavation: A Memoir
Wendy C. Ortiz
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breath. Mr. Ivers looked up at me (He knows my name? I think), and asked in a low voice, as if we were the only ones in the room, “Wendy, can I read this out loud?” My head tilted, nodded softly. Yes, I thought to myself, too scared to say it aloud. Just get it over with. The class was quiet. They listened as he read each word slowly, words that formed an image of a fire that charged violently down a hillside to ravage the basin below. When he finished, he looked up and shook his
the flame was doused as quickly as it was lit. I returned to fingering the books on the shelf, situating my mind and my clothes nervously, while he dashed to the other side of the kitchen counter. The sounds from outside had the power to put out the flame that left me aching, ready to start anew, while Jeff was anxious and fidgety, ready to smoke a bowl or do another line. ✵ A chilly afternoon passed in fits and starts. One of his housemates had been holed up in his room, thwarting any
special notebook for such matters. I pondered with curiosity and subdued anger the arguments made by people on the Donahue show that said music lyrics, movies, and television were too sexually explicit or violent, made by people who could not possibly be referred to as artists. I considered my pot pipe, hidden in its drawer, my friends and their lost virginity, and my desires that had me running back and forth from bus stops in weather hot and cold, ready, waiting for the next sexual
sprang up in me. I knew enough not to corrupt the moment with questions. The itchiness accompanied an awareness that his words were empty of meaning. The river. The sea. Whatever. I wondered over the years of pronouncements, the declarations of love, the accusations and unspoken scenes that we played out. They finally smoothed out into an uncomplicated silence, the ripples of questions and confusion suddenly flat and quiet. I stared through the windshield trying to make out shapes in the
developed ways of dealing with the story I was living in that did not seem to mirror the stories I saw on television or experienced at the homes of friends. One way to get out of my story was to get into another story, like the stories of Stephen King, which I desperately wanted to jump inside and live in, especially the scariest ones. Another way was to do the things my grandmother told me to do, in order for God to hear our pleas to keep my mother from drinking and my parents from fighting.