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Thursday, August 25, 2011

The Desk ( A Short Story)

The Desk:
By: Christine McFarlane

I was eleven years old and I remember being hunched over an old fashioned desk that was all wood and had a little well in it, where I could put my pens and pencils. I lovingly organized the contents of my desk every day, making sure that everything was always in order. I felt such pride in having something I could call my own.

This desk was the first thing I had ever owned because when I moved into my foster home, I had very little that I brought with me. I loved this desk so much that one day while sitting at it, I childishly decided to etch my name into its surface. There was something about seeing my name-CHRISTINE etched into the surface. It made me feel proud, and told me that this desk was mine!

I sat at this desk day in and day out, daydreaming as I looked out my bedroom window, and took in the flowering on the trees, or saw a car go slowly by. I did my homework, and colored at it. I even sat there when my social worker visited. She would sit at the edge of my bed, while I would turn in my desk and look at her, pretending I was interested in what she was saying to me.

I remember when my foster parents discovered that I had etched my name into my desk and the consequence that followed from that discovery. First, my desk was removed from my room, much to my dismay. I recall my foster dad marching into my room and taking the desk and me asking his departing back

“Where are you going?” and emphatically saying, “That’s my desk, you can’t take it.”

His reply was  “If you’re going to deface property, this is what happens.”

“I hate you!” I yelled. As my foster dad left my room, I slammed my bedroom door and threw myself onto my bed, crying uncontrollably. I was crying more out of anger than anything else.

After about an hour of being on my own, I was called out of my room and my foster dad told me

“You will refinish this desk, and that means sanding it, staining it, and bringing it back to what it looked like when we first gave it to you.”

I hung my head, and said “okay.”

The desk was put in the basement of my foster home. Every day after school, and on weekends, I had to go to the basement. With the sandpaper clenched in my fist, I scrubbed and scrubbed at the desk for what seemed like hours. I hated this, but I know in retrospect, I had brought this on myself.

At eleven, I didn’t want to be stuck in the basement working on this bloody desk.
“This is work,” I told myself and I wanted to be outside riding my bike, or hanging out with a friend, be anywhere but stuck in a basement sanding a desk.

As I worked in the basement, an allergy to the dust conjured up by my sanding began to affect me. I started sneezing over and over again, and getting nosebleeds. The nosebleeds happened so much, that my foster parents thought I was playing a trick on them to get myself out of working on my desk.

In frustration, they once again moved my desk, and this time put it outside. Outside, the desk sat underneath their carport. The desk was flimsily protected from the outdoor elements by the carport’s roof and was sandwiched between a car and a wire fence that led to the backyard.

Each day I was told to “get to work.” I remember standing under the carport, the roughness of the sandpaper in my hand, the contempt I felt for having to do this work and how it led to the very last time I would run away from that foster home, or see my beloved desk again.

I’m outside; the sandpaper is clenched in my fist. My shoulders are tense and my back is aching as I run the sandpaper back and forth, back and forth. The dust occasionally makes me sneeze and my nose gets all congested. I have no Kleenex, so I just sniff and hope to God that it won’t lead to another nosebleed.

I’ve been working on my desk for days; this sanding is not getting me anywhere. I don’t know how long I am outside this time. It feels like forever, but its today that I decide,

“Enough is enough” I'm not going to take anymore crap, and I am not going to keep sanding this desk if it meant that I could not hang out with friends, or ride my bikes. My leisure time had been taken away just because I had carved my name into my desk.

 All of a sudden the stillness is broken by the sound of the backdoor to the house opening. My foster dad materializes and says

“We have to go get groceries, you stay here and continue working.” He gets into his car and the door slams shut.

As the car leaves the driveway and turns the corner, its then that I impulsively decide that I have to make my move. I stop sanding, stretch and then put the sandpaper down. I walk to the end of the driveway, look both ways and as I start walking, the tension in my shoulders dissipates. I am not afraid-I just walk.

Shortly afterwards, upon being returned to my foster home by the police, I was taken from my foster home on the pretence that I would be going to summer camp and would be back in two weeks. Well I went to camp, but I never went back to that home, and I never saw my desk again.

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