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Another Brick in the Wall

Filling Holes

By Cathy SchieffelinPublished 7 months ago Updated 6 months ago 2 min read
Painting by Matea Mazur @ Kristijan Antolovic

Moss slippery, crusted with bird shit, clay crumbled, rigid rectangles. Like the large, colorful Jenga game on the sunporch, if you remove one of my bricks, I may collapse. Each brick integral to my overall structure and stability, despite the messy make-up. I appreciate their blocky durability, sharp edges, unyielding. Even when they rub and bruise my tender flesh, I refuse to let any go.

Why can’t I rid myself of unnecessary things, like pencil stubs worn down to nothing? They’ve served their purpose. I should let them go. I’m afraid of the hole left behind. Is that why childbirth traumatizes? It’s not just the pressure and pain of growing and releasing a being. There’s loss - the hole plugged for a time – filled with moving parts, heartbeat, blood, brain, sinew and muscle. Then, a gaping wound while those moving parts move on, without you. Overly occupied with the external management of things, you forget about the abyss left in birth’s wake.

As I stand here, assessing things, I hold tight to my remaining bricks. Can’t afford to lose anymore, even if they don’t serve me. I hold onto them like old Christmas cards, grandma’s chipped flowery China and love letters.... defining me. Can’t bear to be without them. They keep me tethered to the here and now. I need these bricks of memory, bricks of history, bricks of a life. Hold me in place.

I used to fly. Far and wide. Now I'm afraid...fear of flying…Flying is for my children. I must be anchored so they’ll have a haven to return to – something consistent… knowable… comfortable.

I didn’t have that when I flew for the first time. When I took off for new horizons, new perspectives, new everything, I gave up home. I released its hold, rarely to return. Maybe it was always there – shape-shifting into something I didn’t recognize. Or was that me?

You can never truly go home.

My childhood home feels small – microscopic. Chaotic, dusty and sad. When I think of childhood, I don’t remember the smallness or chaos. I remember cherry Jello popsicles in the freezer after school. Saturday morning cartoons with spiced pancakes and maple syrup. Summers spent outside, running the neighborhood til fireflies sparkled in the yard...annual road trips to northern Michigan. These are the bricks of my upbringing – crusted clay rectangles formed me to the person I am today.

Mother, wife, sister, daughter – so many things to others. What am I to me? Writer? Explorer? Dog whisperer? My bricks are a mess of all these things. I can’t bear to give away any.

I compare my bricks to others. I’m sure I’m missing a few. Were they taken? Did I drop one? Are my bricks as good as everyone else's? Do I need more bricks? Or should I be shedding them?

Sometimes I hide behind them, yearning for invisibility.

I want to blend in like the jewel toned tree frog perched on an emerald palmetto spine. Learned to slip into shadow, delicately balanced… always watching…

Wishing for…

Another brick in the wall…


About the Creator

Cathy Schieffelin

Writing is breath for me. Travel and curiosity contribute to my daily writing life. I've had pieces published in Adanna Lit Jour. and Halfway Down the Stairs. My first novel, The Call, comes out in 2024. I live in New Orleans.

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  • Marianne Alt7 months ago

    Thank you for saying that we all carry bricks and sometimes we compare them. We would rarely trade them, thought, because, as you say, they are the building blocks of who we are. I feel that I have many homes - from different stages of life - and part of me is always a little homesick for them and a little glad that I've moved on. What am I to myself? That is such an important question. I'll be looking at my bricks today...

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