Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Writing Prompt #2: Hiding Place

There was never any room for a hiding place at Whipple Street, so my brother and I constructed them from bed sheets and couch pillows. We built forts within our fort, a tiny apartment we didn’t realize was small until we hit puberty. When we first moved in, Shaun was eight and I was ten. We were excited to share a room together, as if it was going to be one long sleepover. We didn’t anticipate the humiliations, the fights, the broken pieces of objects we both loved, and how he would slice his foot open on glass three times in that room. But even so, Shaun was my best companion. On hot summer days, we could be entertained by hitting a balloon back and forth, not letting it hit the floor, while we each sat on our beds. He always had a partner to play video games with and I had full reign of what music we listened to, though both were often interrupted by our neighbor banging on our walls. Sometimes she banged so hard, things would fall off my dresser.
Before Whipple, I had a hiding place inside my closet at the house with the long dark hallway that used to scare me, the house in Reseda. When Tom Petty’s “Free Fallin” used to come on the radio we would belt out, And it’s a long day living in Reseda. There was no freeway running through our yard but there was a section of the LA River not far from us. One Fourth of July a neighborhood kid went down by the “river” and blew his hand off with a firework. I rode my bike to the place where it happened which was beyond the boundaries of where I was supposed to ride my bike. But I had to see. Once there, I inspected the walls of the concrete channel and swore I saw blood, a secret I only revealed to Shaun. I started asking my dad questions about how people lived without a hand. How could you eat? How could you go to the bathroom? Does that mean you couldn’t play baseball?

The Reseda house had lots of hiding places, but sometimes being out in the open was the best spot of all. On really hot days, I played inside of my closet because it was cool and dark I was left alone. There were no rules other than my own and more importantly there were no surprises, just darkness and the occasional flicker of a flashlight to be focused on Barbie or the Boxcar Children.

After moving to the apartment on Whipple, Shaun and I converted our shared closet into a hiding place, but it wasn’t long before I deemed it stupid. There was no more room to play. There was no more room. So, I ventured outside for a hiding spot and with the help of my cousin, Gary, found it. The laundry room for the apartment complex was snugly built between the apartment building’s carport and the apartment building to the north of us. A six foot brick wall separated the laundry room from the next apartment building. The space between the brick wall and the back wall of the laundry room was about three feet. Gary climbed up the brick wall with the leverage of the laundry room wall. Once on the brick wall, we used the wooden fence post of an apartment patio abutting the brick wall on the other side and we hoisted each other up from the brick wall onto the fence post and pulled ourselves up onto the roof of the carport. We had found our kingdom on a tar mat perched above the oil-stained concrete slab of a parking lot. Nothing could touch us there, we thought, until the neighbor told on us.

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