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5-Paper bags

Brown paper lunch bags   Apple slices    grapes   a blue plate

Shaky hands picked up bread and stacked it on the coveted plate. This was Foof’s plate or so she said as she argued, grabbing it from See See. Giggles could be heard throughout the lake house until mom stepped in and handed the girls each a plate to take home.  A simple plastic plate. The morning sky hung a lavender and orange painting, casting it’s reflection across what seemed like miles of placid water. Mom scooped coffee from the white jar, making a contrast against the playful blue counters, “Lynnnnnieeee coffees on”.  My mind snapped back to peanut butter and jelly. Three sandwiches, maybe five, two more for the college kids, no Foof would not be going today, would she?  I stacked another 4 slices of bread on the blue plastic plate, home and safety. Should I cut apple slices or wash grapes. The Assembly, Soos won first place for her painting, Idaho. The accomplishment would be recognized, we had to be there. How could we sneak out, humiliation, fear. I stared down at the plate, struggling to remember who I was.

My strong stance against oppression had failed and once again I faced the inevitable conclusion that we were trapped. A sick and infectious feeling took over as we came to grips with our new reality. The days of hiding prohibited food items, clothing and even ideas, crept back with insidious fervor. The incident had not been mentioned, and like the years spent in Saudi it appeared to be another faded page in a life of guarded existence. Thoughts of calling the police were thrown aside and stuck into the category of precarious after weighing the potential outcome and upheaval that was sure to follow. My brain failed to connect the dots, silence and composure were imperative and had served me well for years and so I vowed to walk the tightrope once again.

His usual raucous footsteps were now soft and silent as he walked into the kitchen undetected. He moved closer and smiled trying to capture my attention, greeting me with the standard Arabic phrase- Peace be unto you.   As he inched closer a frantic angst pushed me to wash, rinse and scramble through the morning routine putting an unsettling distance between us. He stayed put, leaning against the counter, watching my every move. He grinned and made small talk as if nothing had happened just the day before. My hands shook uncontrollably as I opened brown paper lunch sacks trying to avoid eye contact. His words hit my senses, emotions spiraled out of control. “Lynn you always choose not to see how much I love you” Total chaos held me together in a pattern of zig zagged pieces. I looked down at the plate, large drops of fluid fell from my eyes, tears or water, sadness.

 

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