A smithereen heap

January 23rd, 2008

Later, when she wasn’t near as small or cute anymore, but grandpa still glowed at the sight of her, her mom and dad moved to Texas. It was the week after Bobby Kennedy was shot right there in LA and on TV. Her dad had moved out first and alone, starting a new job and finding them a brand new Texas house with each their own bedroom and furniture. Her big sister graduated from eighth grade and they loaded up the new Ford Torino station wagon, her mom and the girls. They drove off and left California, the oranges and grandpa and grandma. Somewhere in Arizona or New Mexico, they heard a thudding crash and pulled over on the highway to see her mom’s master’s degree typewriter, a sacred thing, a centerpiece of their lives and a fixture on the dining room table for as long as they could remember, smashed in a smithereen heap in the middle of the road. It had flown off the wagon roof. Things weren’t tied down so good after all.

Her mom stood helplessly on the roadside in the desert wind. Watching from the backseat, she stifled tears for her mother, the tears she would cry in her princess canopy bed to the late night shouts in the living room in the years to come.


  1. Whew. This hits home for me.

    Comment by Jena Strong — January 23, 2008 @ 2:48 pm

  2. Things never are tied down as good as you think, it seems.

    Comment by Mama Zen — January 23, 2008 @ 8:11 pm

  3. This made me want to turn off my computer and go hunting for an old typewriter. So much more romantic.

    Comment by Shannon — January 23, 2008 @ 8:21 pm

  4. Oh, the pang in the heart! But beautiful to read nonetheless.

    Comment by marta — January 23, 2008 @ 10:07 pm

  5. Thanks for your writing, Karen – much enjoying being acquainted with your blog.

    Comment by Fiona Robyn — January 24, 2008 @ 12:32 pm

  6. This is a wonderful piece. Thank you.

    Comment by Lisa — January 24, 2008 @ 12:59 pm

  7. Sweet ones,
    In case you thought any of us came from a different kind of life, a different kind of pain. But it’s only where we come from, and not where we have to stay.


    Comment by Karen — January 24, 2008 @ 7:21 pm

  8. You said it Mama, things t’aint never tied down.

    Shannon, romantic and requiring brute strength in the fingertips and everywhere else. You really had to insist to get those keys to strike the paper. Hmmmm. Perhaps a lesson there.

    Comment by Karen — January 25, 2008 @ 5:29 am

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