Short: Please Send Money (rough)

Published July 29, 2016 by Erika Damn Castle!

Other writers and I know that inspiration can come from the smallest of things. A bird picking at a flat object in a hot, summer department store parking lot. A tree branch falling from a tall oak on a woodsy walk. A raven rapping at a window sill. Or a random pop-up Facebook message from someone you’ve never met. All of these things could be the flint to the fire that is a story idea. I’ll admit that those first few infant moments of a story are almost like the high we were looking for as addicts. It’s a rush, it’s exciting, and our minds almost can’t keep up with the powers that be who whisper their magic into our ears.

This is my most recent.

“Shit!” Benjamin harshly whispered to himself after a sip from the large, white coffee cup. A tongue scalding was just another thing that had went wrong that morning. His big toe still throbbed inside his sneaker from a moving box housing heavy kitchen supplies. And his heart was still heavy after reading the, “I’m coming to get the rest of my things,” text from Melody; the now ex-girlfriend.

He’d left the apartment in an effort to give her the space she’d requested. Some part of him still hoped that she would get her fresh air and return as the happy, comedic, and beautiful Melody he loved. He still loves. He also didn’t think he could face her without breaking down and making a foolish plea for her to stay. He knew he was the problem. He was clingy, he was insecure, he was jealous. She… She was Melody. The love of his life. Perfect in every way.

Staring at the rippling steam from the tar black coffee, he scanned his memory (as he has done many times) for any hint for the beginning of the end. Still, nothing stood out. Glancing around the shop, he watched as people spoke softly to each other, or stared at their phones. Mostly their phones. Even tables filled with three or four ignored each other’s company, seeking connections through a computer application. He, himself had his own piece of black rectangle made of metal and glass clutched in his knotty knuckles. How dependent we’ve become, he thought while catching a glimpse of his reflection.

He clicked the protruding button and stared longingly at Melody’s once loving gaze to the eye of his camera. Swiping to the right, he re-read their last messages to each other. So stiff, so formal, as if they were only acquainted professionals performing contractual business with one another. A virtual handshake once the deal had been struck, and she would leave the key next to the ceramic rooster.

“Active 45 minutes ago.” The white lettering almost burned through his retinas. She was there. Perhaps with help, perhaps already sliding the key across the counter to the talons of the rooster.

As he tapped to enable his keyboard, a bubble popped up of an incoming message. The small, circular icon previewed a young girl, maybe a few years younger than him, caught in a moment looking over her folded knees to a sunset. The large hat she adorned hid most of her face, except a very intimate part of her profile. Her skin the color of brown sugar and stretched tightly around her small frame. She was no one Benjamin recognized and on any normal day, he would have just ignored it, but he was lonely and wallowing in self-pity. Like all the others huddled up to their coffee, he longed for a connection. Even a virtual one.

He pressed his thumb against her picture and read the first message, “Hey there cutie!”

“Hello. I’m sorry, but do I know you?” The letters clicked softly followed by the familiar swishing noise as he pressed send.

“I’m sorry no you don’t but I would like to know you. I really like your profile picture and you’re close by! How are you today?”

Benjamin hesitated. His profile picture was an obscure landscape that included half of his body. Maybe that was what she liked about it. She has to be spam, or a bot, or something, he thought while furrowing his brow and scanning her words again and again.

“I’m a little miserable today, to be honest.”

“I’m sorry dear. What’s wrong? Also, my name is Lisa.”

Her punctuation wasn’t great, but she also didn’t shorten her words. Benjamin was intrigued. The world wide web was saturated with all kinds of predators looking to thieve any part of your life. Maybe she’s actually real? 

He found her profile restricted, but some of her information was visible. She was right, she was close by. At least according to where her location was listed. Just a couple of towns a way. A short drive for anyone.

What the hell. It’ll take my mind off Melody, even for a brief moment. That thought made his stomach tighten with guilt.

“Are you there?” Lisa typed with a smiley face.

“How did you find me?” Benjamin was still skeptical, but quietly laughed. Random messages like this used to be a normal occurrence when social media first had it’s startup in the early 2000’s. You looked around the world, you found people and connected with them even if you didn’t know who the hell they were. That was the exciting thing about it. In the blink of an eye, we were all connected and wanted to be connected. Somewhere along the lines, the bad intentions and news scares came out and any sane person became reclusive about accepting random friendship requests.

“I am new in town and was trying to make new friends. You were sHowing as onlinE and I Liked your Pic.” The pen icon came back up as she continued to write. “I’ve Been here A while and still haven’t maDe friends. I aM gEtting loNely haha! What is Wrong by the way? You never saId and i wouLd LiKe to help If you wiLL let ME.”

Benjamin’s face curled in slight disgust. It seems her grammar and punctuation have become progressively worse.

“You aren’t real, are you? Are you a bot? Someone who’s scamming for money?” He became agitated and secretly dared her for a response. Some part of him sought a confession purely for the satisfaction of being right. He couldn’t recall the last time he was right.

The pen shows up after quite some time. “PLEASE don’t tHink of mE that way. Like I said your Profile said you were close by. I don’t USually do this kind of stuff! If you just send me some gas money, we can meet in person.”

Angrily, Benjamin wrote, “I KNEW IT!” He then selected to block any further messages from “Lisa.” He was upset with himself for even replying to her in the first place.

He sat his phone on the table and slid a folded elbow under his head. This day keeps getting better.


Lisa fervently tapped the dirty keys of the old laptop, but Benjamin was no longer replying. She put her fingertips in her mouth, soothing her bloodied and ripped nails. Hot tears poured down her dirty face as she closed the lids to her blue eyes.

“You didn’t get him to send money?!” Yelled the voice behind the gun barrel currently shoved at the base of her scalp.

“P-Please! Just let me try again!”

“No more tries for you, pretty little bitch! That was your last time!” The voice gripped her matted blond hair and pulled her to her bare feet, bound at the ankles by thick zip-ties.

Lisa begged but her words were indiscernible. Her body shivered in fear and for warmth from the cold, damp place she and the other kidnapped girls were trapped. A large, warm hand clamped her trembling lips and her tears continued to pour.

All the other girls at the other stations turned to face her as the voice called out, “You don’t make me money, you won’t get to go home! You don’t make me money, you are a waste of my time!”

The gun barrel pushed into Lisa’s temple and with a flash of light, Lisa’s blood splattered onto the closest victim, and her body toppled to the dirty concrete. No one screamed.

 

 

 

 

10am

Published May 29, 2016 by Erika Damn Castle!

Same as it has been for the past few months

My mind is somewhere else when I’m stolen from a dream

Haunted by feelings that don’t seem to leave

Two different lives lived and divided by sea

I’ll never know if this is real; a subject you’ll never speak

But what if I wanted to do something?

But what if I didn’t want to dismiss it?

You’ve found a part of me that I’ve never seen.

I can’t.

I won’t.

I refuse.

Dear Michigan,

Published March 23, 2016 by Erika Damn Castle!

I have lived within your Metro-Detroit area for four years now. You’ve been cold and difficult, but I have grown so much since I crossed your state line.

I sought refuge from a toxic life in a place I claim to be my home. If I hadn’t, I would have been dead by now. Instead, you gave me the opportunity to learn how to breathe on my own. Breaking every tie that I have ever known and forced me to learn to survive. I’ve succeeded.

I’ve become more cultured, made life-long friends, and built a foundation to a life that I may not have ever left. Unfortunately, that won’t be the case. The South has always beckoned me, especially those mountains. Please, forgive me. I am never permanent. But some part of me will always be a Michigander.

Thank you.

 

Octo-pied

Published March 10, 2016 by Erika Damn Castle!

image

A series of events have been keeping me away from draining these toxic thoughts onto a machine and out for the world to see. But that isn’t to say I haven’t been thinking about it. Everyday, I draw up an outline of things I want to write about (blog or book), and every day, I suffer through the hours only to have exhaustion seep into my bones when the time comes. Everything is off balance and I keep telling myself, “Such is the way of life.”

Well.

It sucks.

Thought 1: I was in the book store last week, obtaining new, printed friends, when I caught the conversation of a couple in their early twenties. The girl complained of the book formatting and questioned the authors authenticity because of spacing rules.

What the fuck? Why?

Why would it matter if the author was authentic?

This really bothered me.

Thought 2: My boyfriend and I moved here four years ago without any family nearby. He lost his job just recently. To make sure we would be okay, I took on a later shift in order to gain some extra hours at work. I’m so tired.

Thought 3: I really want to spend more time on my book. No joke, it hurts my heart.

Thought 4: Why the hell am I so damned attracted to cute boys with pretty words and creamy rebuttals? Dear gawd, I can hold a crush.

Thought 5: Did I take a shower? *sniff*

Thought 6: I hate Michigan winters. I need my humid sunshine back. I also need to go to San Diego.

Thought 7: How much is the airfare to San Diego?

Thought 8: *sniff* Did I shower?!

Thought 9: I wonder how I am going to die. Will I know it’s coming? Will I be content with how my life went? If I choked on this grape and died, how would I feel about my life and the people I’ve shared it with? Will I have enough oxygen left in my brain to run through this checklist? Or will I be thinking, “Damn. Of all the near misses, it was a fucking grape that took me down…”

One thing I will probably regret is not having more… yeah, keeping that one to myself lol

I have been a little occupied…

Glitter Pot

Published February 25, 2016 by Erika Damn Castle!
If you ever want to feel truly loved; truly adored
Make an artist fall in love with you
Their unique adulations are never fake
Never created for the own self indulgence
They seek and will find that one shimmery, glimmery,  glamorous pot of glitter
That resides inside all of us
All of you.
And they will caress it and embrace it into their warmth
You will not be placed on a pedestal, no
Because they will feel it safe and better cared for
By the depths of their being
Protected by their rib cage and the rest of the lifespan they carry
And sung into their every day cadence, taught to everyone they greet
Because you deserve to live eternally
To be known and remembered
Yes, if you ever want to feel deep, meaningful, and real love
Love them back…

You know you’re a writer when…

Published February 13, 2016 by Erika Damn Castle!
Bleeding heart

Heart upon my wrist, I will write you this. This is me… Bleeding.

 

“If you find yourself asking yourself (and your friends) ‘Am I really a writer? Am I really an artist?’ Chances are you are. The counterfeit innovator is wildly self-confident. The real one is scared to death.” – Steven Pressfield

Well… This is depressing. Creativity, my lover, please come back to me. I’m not sure what I’ve done wrong, but the people who reside in my mind are becoming anxious and angry. Please forgive me for all of my constant and continued complaints. You’re so good to me and I don’t deserve you.

I’ve been lost in a gloomy, unwritable world for a while now. It’s confusing, uninspirational, and frustrating. I feel like I’ve been shaking an empty jar, expecting glitter to spew. Nothing is coming to fruition and I haven’t had the urge to press my wrists against the keyboard and pour my soul into a page that I’m hoping you’ll accept.

Writing is weird, isn’t it? The summary of our entire being printed on dead trees and pressed in ink. Some of us like to pretend that we don’t do it for others, we do it for ourselves. While some of that is true, we still long to be accepted by other like-minded people. Am I pretty now? Am I disgusting enough for you to slather me with red wax and stamp me with the crest of your kingdom?

I digress.

A barren mind is of common occurance more than writers would like to admit. As much as the cup can overfloweth with ideas and motivation, the ping-pong game continues. Someone has my ball and I’d like to get it back. Please?

I’ve been reading a lot of “You know you’re a writer when…” memes and (although silly) none of them talked about this side of writing. I fully think that if you question whether or not you are a writer, you probably are. Sounds wildly insecure and unproductive, but it’s that exact insecurity that makes us expose our vulnerability into the written word. It’s our only drug that heals us instead of crucifies. I’ve often had this question, even though, down into the deep-deep, I know I was born with a pen in my mouth, paint on my skin, and a strange fondness for blank paper (this last one is no joke).

The positive thing is that I’ve been able to catch up on a lot of sleep lately. As is the case with most insomniacs, it can have the opposite affect on your body. All you want to do is sleep. Right now, even after a 5 hour nap after work, I am debating on going back to bed. Penance must be paid for all of that borrowed time and my body always retrieves payment.