Hold On…

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Original artwork, Sherrie Robins

It was just another Tuesday.

Just another day to fall short of my goals. To fall into the negative patterned sometimes words in my head, vile and self-berating; an unfortunate family trait.

I plodded through the city streets, absently looking at the black zig-zagged patterns which had been sprayed on an old brick wall. Some would call it graffiti, I thought it looked more like dark side of the inner workings of my mind, and it repelled me.

You see, I wasn’t one of the uppers. One of the cream, who floated to the top. Someone, after-all, had to clean up after everyone else.

I worked at a hospital and among my tasks was to pick up the broken pieces, parts which had to be disposed of.  I carted them down the basement corridor to their final resting place; the incinerator. I wondered at the day when I might end up there, whole, and turned into ashes.

But something in me fought the ugly and the blackness that continually tried to snuff out anything good I had inside. There was a duality, which sometimes I cherished, and sometimes was just an irritation.

Though negativity threatened to douse the light, I held on tight and searched frantically at the end of the tunnel. A little voice inside my head just wouldn’t shut up. “Hold on!” For the life of me I couldn’t figure out where it had come from. My family was nothing but soot and sludge and mud on my boots. It hadn’t come from them.

My eyes had always seen the one flower struggling to grow on the side of the cliff. They had spied out the reflection of the sky in a broken window.

My ears had learned to hear a note and a song, above the traffic below on the city streets. Sirens would blare, horns would honk and the hum of brakes and motors would buzz on all night long. But I would hear that single voice or song as the car with the open window passed by.

Even though the smell of sulfur emanated from the factory and hovered over our neighborhood like a dark cloud, my nose would yearn for the bakery, remembering the incense of freshly baked bread.

All day, my hands touched the untouchable. Uncomfortable gloves closed off the air and made me itch. But they longed for the soft, blanket-like fur of my cat, who loved me more than I loved myself.

The air of my neighborhood was not fresh, but chemical laden. The hospital smelled of antiseptic and rot and all things foul. I couldn’t eat when I was at work. I brought a can of chocolate flavored artificial vitamins and plugged my nose and gulped, trying not to wretch. But oh, the food that awaited me when I came home! My neighbor lady, downstairs was always cooking up a storm. She was European and smelled of onions, and gardens, and foreign salty seas. Every night she had a container of food waiting and kindly handed it to me when I walked in the door.

“Hold on!” said the voice, through her homemade perogies.

“Hold on!” said my purring fluff of fur.

“Hold on!” said the bread and the sky’s reflection and the flower on the cliff.

Deep inside I knew that Spring followed winter and sun followed cloud. That the light of just one candle would break through the empty darkness of the long, long night.

And so I fought that darkness that was within, though hope despaired.

“Hold on!” cried the candle and the voice and the lives spared inside the corridors of antiseptic and pain.

And so, I did…