Creative Nonfiction Sad

On a Friday in March, my life detonated. To be honest, I still can't figure out what the hell happened. Yet, here, I'm being tasked to compose in relational snippets when nothing left exists from the whole. It's bullshit; I'm a science teacher, not a damn author of divisions. But someone once told me dates can carry symbolic weight, so I'll contest and deliver a chronology of the excrement. Served in verfabula fragments, as requested.

April 19th, 2020:

Most matter, upon ballistic impact, will shred and tear; remnants, like thread, visible under magnifying lens. Happens with wood, metal, even flesh. Physics displayed on a microscopic level. I once believed in the explanation of science with dogmatic fervor. Now, I believe nothing. I don’t know what happened. It’s as if reality struck its head and slipped off into fuzzy, white noises. 

Last I recall, on a Friday in March, we were told to leave with a promise to return to the classroom. I put some files and folders in the back of my Jeep and called to a colleague, “See you after Spring Break.” But now they say schools could be closed for the rest of the year.

I'm worried. My student stopped logging in.

November 1st, 2020:

Complete shit show. Schools still closed. Teaching high school seniors remote. Begged for cameras on, if only for attendance. One student obliges. Brooke—a saving grace—always smiles. Some students’ faces I’ve never seen, never even heard their voices.

My own children are home. Still remote, too. Also a shit show. No. More like projectile diarrhea wall-splatter. My son submits no work and my daughter tosses plastic bags in a virtual P.E. class. I’m chained to a bedroom computer, teaching to a grid of black boxes with white, printed names. I reach no one.

I cried at my son’s virtual parent-teacher conference. Ok. More like sobbed. So embarrassing. Asked his teacher if I was the first parent to cry. The response: “Yes, the first. But from teacher to teacher, it is too hard.” 

Today, the first leaf fell. So late this year. Autumn clung with tenacity in scientific wonder. At least the trees provide decoration to the shit parade. The other day, I witnessed my daughter wander down the street barefoot, a seascape drawn in marker up her right leg. I could not stop her. I was tethered to a virtual, silent classroom lecturing about radiometrics. I help no one.

November 11th, 2020:

My husband sat me at the kitchen table. “You won’t like what I’m about to say.” He was right. I gripped the edge of the table as the walls of my forever home spun in circles. I wanted to vomit, but force fled my body. I lost air.

“We are moving,” he stated with hands folded.

November 26th, 2020:

We drove across the country with seven days to find somewhere new to live before driving back to prepare for moving. Options to explore are minimal. Still in the height of a pandemic. Schools still closed, too. It’s a steaming, heaping pile of shit.

I’m not sure anyone tunes in anymore. Except for Brooke. She turns her camera on and smiles every day. She saves me. So do virtual meetings attended by the cute, new teacher of English. But that’s a different story. No need to hijack with fantasy, at least in this contest.

I've told no one the news.

We spent the week house hunting in this new state, unaccustomed to the weather. There's romance to the thick evening air. Every day of seven, we sat on a cracked, concrete slab, toasted plastic glasses and watched our dog stretch out among dry, straw grasses to mouth a gnarled stick. “To our future home,” we cheered. 

Thanksgiving day I peeled gratitude on a hard, pockmarked surface and ate smoked bird from lawn furniture. I constructed a centerpiece out of branches picked from roadside stone and gravel and folded napkins over paper plates. Not many options during a pandemic. The natural light dipped earlier than expected, so we ate by the glow of a propped-open door. I toasted to trees with strong limbs and smooth sinewed grooves. I shattered a glass. My husband and I have not spoken. 

Upon return, I quit my dream job and list my forever home on the market.

December 7th, 2020:

I sent my letter of resignation. I never, ever wanted to leave that classroom. With three short paragraphs, it all ended.

December 21st, 2020:

My home is on the market. Light fixtures updated, childrens' fingerprints scrubbed from walls. A tree, devoid of homemade ornaments, erected. Agent says potential buyers expect neutral decorations when viewing homes during the holidays. Potential buyers expect a museum walk, as well, even though a family is quarantined within the walls. 

It's a ding-dong ditch flaming bag of shit.

I was, however, granted entry to pack up my classroom and turn over my keys. It’s still too raw to recall those moments sitting among cinderblock walls stripped from decades of teaching. I could touch, with fingertips, the echos of student laughter. I felt memory slip, like ghosts, through uniformed desks and seats. The flags of former students, which flapped in ventilated air currents, were now folded and taped into a cardboard container. 

I slammed into the cute, new English teacher on the way out. “You are leaving,” he stated. I nodded. My box fell open. What happened next is prompted by a different contest. No sense providing the details here.

December 24th, 2020:

I crawled into bed after cleaning out my classroom. Couldn’t crawl back out for three days. I finally awoke and slathered concealer over purple, swollen eyes to receive virtual farewell toasts from colleagues. They shared stories of teaching together. Applauded my years of service. Each department member’s well-wishes expelled into emojis through the chat features. I hugged no one.

It's a shit river.

I staged my forever home for a quick sell, propped it up in pillows and throws. It worked. We received multiple offers. Seems lots of folk need to move in the height of a pandemic. Showing after showing, I cry in a cold, concealed car while strangers probe through my closets. My career ended. The one I thought I’d never leave. 

With dirty laundry stuffed into the back seat and holiday music playing from the auxilary radio, I watch from the street as shadowy figures flick on the light to our bedroom. I was suppose to reside in that house forever, too. We planted a tree on that land in memory of a child gone too soon.

We accepted a young family’s offer. They plan to tell their children the good news tomorrow morning. They prayed for A Christmas Miracle, according to the real estate agent. Tomorrow, I will deconstruct my forever home and pack it into labeled boxes.

A moving truck comes in seven days.

December 25th, 2020:

Homesick already. If that’s possible. I’ve not moved yet. I miss the dry snap in the December air. I miss tracing pre-trodden boot tracks between buildings. I miss the painted stripes coating brick. I miss the rust gathered into the corners of the stairwell’s steel support system. I miss my four classroom walls. I think of my students often. Past and present.

They do not know I’m leaving. I'm too cowardly. Too ashamed to log in and announce, to a screen of silent, black boxes, “Good-bye. This is it.” A few students will be upset upon return in January, like Brooke. She kept her camera on. Smiled every single day. 

Last night, as the children slept, we wrapped presents in front of our bedroom closet. Shouldered among moving boxes, we played holiday music through a mobile device. I thumbed the clean, precise fold along metallic paper and thought about the raw beauty that gleams on the edge of pain, the brief moments that pop and sparkle amidst the all-consuming deluge of shit.

I spent Christmas Day swaddling glassware in bubble wrap.


In Summary:

There you have it. Bits of shit slopped and gathered, piled into a somewhat formable mass to be served up on a fragmented platter.

There are no pieces of memories. No scraps of gatherings. There wasn't even a good-bye party. I moved. In the middle of a pandemic. My life ripped wide open. Elements, matter, mass exploded. No warning siren. No cracks upon impact. No ballistic remnants. 

It went Poof. 

Like Dust. 

I disappeared.

February 23, 2023 22:44

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David Sweet
20:29 Mar 31, 2023

Wonderful piece! It was tough eint a teacher during the pandemic, but I can't imagine all of the extra stress that was heaped upon you! Hope you are continuing to recover. Looks like writing may become your therapy. Thanks for opening up and sharing your life in a personal and entertaining way.


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Mary Bendickson
01:03 Mar 17, 2023

You have a way with the truth. I think that pandemic changed a lot of us. Sometimes for the better, sometimes not so much.


Éan Bird
14:37 Mar 20, 2023

Thank you, Mary. The pandemic changed it all. However, I believe in the power of stories. They help heal. Keep on writing, my friend!


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Amanda Fox
15:44 Feb 27, 2023

You have a lovely way with words, and your swears made me smile. I see this is creative nonfiction, so I hope, if this was a snapshot of your own life, that things are much better for you now.


Éan Bird
19:03 Mar 01, 2023

Thank you, Amanda. This is, indeed, non-fiction. I'm still trying to put pieces back together post-pandemic. Your comment means a lot to me 💕


Amanda Fox
21:26 Mar 01, 2023



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