#61 Cocoon

by Janel Gradowski

A loud bang startled her awake. She curled into a ball in the middle of the bare mattress, wondering if the sound was the backfire from a neighbor’s car or a gunshot. There were dozens of holes in the paneling that lined the small room. Sometimes she imagined the holes were the mouths of monsters that would eat her while she slept. The window glass looked like it was covered with a giant spider web. The cold wind whistled and groaned through the cracks. If she stared at the window until everything blurred she could pretend she was looking through a kaleidoscope. The billboard on the roof of the building across the alley became a swirly rainbow, instead of a lady dancing in her underwear.

Tonight she had dreamed of riding a bicycle. The concrete pathway she followed snaked through a nice neighborhood that had no burnt cars or drug houses. The yards were edged with colorful flowerbeds. There were no broken bottles or dirty syringes anywhere. The bicycle she rode was bright pink with shiny, silver streamers that whipped in the wind.

She snuggled into the big sweater she was wearing over a thin nightgown. Her mama had found the sweater in the dumpster behind a used clothing store. It was scratchy and the color of her baby brother’s poop, but it was her magical cocoon. Every night she wrapped herself in it, hoping to emerge as a happy, carefree butterfly the next morning.

7 comments:

Sam Knight said...

Very nice imagery. You brought me into the world very well, and made me want to wrap up in the cocoon as well.

Bruce Roush said...

What a well-written story. A sad reminder that this is happening every night to too many children in America. Children whose optimism is slowly erased by their surroundings.

Janel Gradowski said...

I'm glad you liked it, Sam.

Janel Gradowski said...

Bruce - Recently there have been several children shot in a nearby city, caught in the crossfire of gang violence. It is horrifying to think of what children in that area go through on a daily basis.

Flutterby said...

I love the imagery of her riding the bicycle. A nice interlude in the grim.

Janel Gradowski said...

Thanks, Flutterby. I find that it nice to have a bit of contrast in a gloom and doom kind of story.

Pierce said...

I could see this child and feel pity for her...you made this come alive with the detail. What a shame this is a reality for some kids.