Something’s happening over at Writers Co-op. The latest writing prompt, Catharsis, attracted some powerful pieces of writing. Maybe you’ll write something for the next prompt: Devolving.
I’d like to share the short piece I wrote for Catharsis with you. Judge for yourself whether or not it’s one of the powerful ones, but please take a look at the others, too. They’re all worth your time. And maybe let me know what you think of mine.
by S.T. Ranscht
The second child wasn’t like the other four. Or like any of the other kids any of them knew. Sure, she had two of everything she was supposed to have two of, and one of everything else like most of the other kids, but her mind didn’t work the same way the minds of everyone who knew her worked. Except for her dad’s. More analytical. More precise. More inquisitive.
But even the two of them perceived life, its puzzles and problems, its values and goals, as propositions so different from one another that their perceptions might have been those of species as alien to each other as if one were carbon based and the other were based on silicon. Or antimatter. His admitted only empirical, rational, fact-based evidence as valid foundations for any answer, argument, or choice. Hers appreciated those aspects of reality, but also embraced the intuitive, feeling, and sense of justice and interconnectedness of all things that painted the biggest Big Picture possible in the vastness of the Universes.
But because he was older and more experienced, he made sure she knew there was something fundamentally wrong with her perception. Her understanding. Her questions. Her conclusions. Her choices. Her self.
And because she was younger and knew so little, she believed him even when a tiny, muffled voice in her head, incapable of screaming, muttered, “He’s wrong. Isn’t he?”
She stopped sharing her thoughts with him.
It was her shamefully, never-to-be realized potential, he said, that convinced the educational testing system she should skip a grade and spend the rest of her school career competing with students older than she was.
Was it any wonder, then, that in a house full of family, in a world full of people, she always felt alone? Unseen. Unheard. Unappreciated. Just like her dad.
Till one budding Spring day, sitting in Trig, as Mrs. Jordan — with a run in her nylons that one of the other girls referred to as “the run in her leg” — worked at the chalkboard to explain logarithms to her classroom of 11th grade advanced mathematicians, something inexplicable happened and everything changed.
She was fifteen and as pure as they say driven snow is. She was healthy and had eaten a nutritious breakfast. Sunshine poured in the windows. But the walls fell away and she was instantaneously surrounded by black sky and stars — with an electric blue e-curve floating in space like an out-of-body umbilical cord, and the unshakable certainty that humans did not invent math, but merely discovered it, and a sense of presence that imbued her with the knowledge that she knew what it was most people think of as God.
When the classroom fogged back into being, she couldn’t tell how long she’d been gone. Leaving the room at the end of class, she felt as though she were gliding six inches above the floor. She told only her best friend about what had happened, and she gasped, “You just experienced cosmic consciousness!”
Whatever it was, it purged her of self doubt. She kept asking questions and seeking answers for the rest of her life. Self-contained. Confident. Fearless.
She never told her dad.