This fall, I took a Creative Nonfiction II class, and slowly fell even more in love with the genre that I was never quite sure about. I found I was enthralled by the lyric essay, and knew that creative nonfiction could expand the boundaries of merely "telling the truth" and borrow elements from both fiction and poetry. To be honest, I've been a lot happier with my creative nonfiction for the past few months than I have with my ever-slow novel. So here's a very short excerpt from a very short piece--under 1k words!--I am (hopefully) almost finished with. This is the first of five sections. Enjoy this taste.
"A Poisoned Apple, a Spoonful of Peas"
My sister and I would sit side by side: always, I was the Barbie-player, the one bending limbs and combing plastic hair. Paige, always the open-mouthed, movie-watcher, would suck her thumb and lean her taut body forward as Snow White ran through the forest, eyes peering at her from all directions in the dark. When Snow White would let out her long scream, Paige, bouncing, her small body stiff, would scream too: would let a shriek loose from her small throat, a screech the shape of a bell curve, the sharpness of it echoing off the walls of our playroom. I wouldn’t cringe, would keep shoving Barbie’s wide hands into her small sleeves. I was used to it, used to all of it: the doctor’s visits, the song-singing to calm her down, the locking doors and speaking in a clear voice so she might let forth her own small voice and speak back. But as I did all of these things, inside, I was waiting.
Even as I was reciting the words taught to me, reading them like a script: “Paige has a rare genetic disorder called Angelman’s Syndrome, meaning she will always function at the age of a three-year-old, not matter her actual age,” even then, I was waiting. When recited my lines to strangers in a grocery store, when I performed for my classmates, I didn’t quite believe the words myself. I was forever waiting for my sister to wake up. Like the princesses in the movies she loved, maybe the real Paige—the sister that would borrow my clothes, who could unlock doors, and pick fights with me—was hidden behind some kind of spell, a poisoned apple of sorts. Maybe that’s all ‘genetics’ was: a deep, black magic so binding that people hid it away behind science and doctors and blood work tests with sharp needles.
And so I waited for the spell to lift.