A brief story: The Argument (rough)

He adjusted his tie. Dad always tied it too tight. Especially when he was wrought with worry. He coughed when the pressure released itself from his Adam’s apple.

Such a peculiar term, he thought. He opened his mouth and faced the passenger seat as if he were to process that thought into words, but his mouth dried. And in his forgetfulness, he sighed a very sad sigh. His shoulders slumped heavily and he readjusted his grip to the steering wheel of their very old but very loved Ford Focus.

Light stung his eyes in his awful posture, so he lowered the visor. The CD sleeve still held all of their favorite albums and even a couple of burned mixes. Taking the disc most decorated with pastel sharpie, he shoved it into the aftermarket player in the ash-covered dash.

“Ooh La La” by the Faces boomed from the old speakers. The very first song. The most important song. It reminded him to never leave angry, but he did anyway. The silence after their argument was deafening. Maybe this will drown it out, he hoped.

I love this song, she thought while staring out the window and hummed. Her clenched, interloping fingers loosened as the wave of the song’s chorus softened her anger. She sat in the passenger seat, in silence with her twin who was dressed, “to the nines.”

Arguments between them were rare. They were twins after all.  They knew each other more than anyone else. However few, their arguments were vicious. Mostly because neither wanted to believe that they didn’t agree to something — that the other couldn’t understand one’s reasoning. This argument was just that.

She felt compelled to apologize and make amends. The day was dreary enough. The fog was so thick it clung to the windows like wisps of cotton candy. The buildings and traffic lights barely pierced its veil once within a certain distance. It was like something from a bad horror movie using too much dry ice.

She turned to her brother with a shabby smile and asked, “Why so gloomy?”

Startled, he slammed the brakes and jerked his sight to the passenger seat. His sister’s grin faded like fog in the sunlight and an unexplainable wind pushed the remaining funeral programs from the seat to the floorboard.

His chest heaved as his breath caught up with him, panting as the papers all flipped to the picture of him and his sister.

 

 

Dedicated to Depression

Good Evening, Love. I hope you’re well; fitted with sunshine and a belly full of love.

I have been plagued with the ever saggy-eyed, lifeless friend Insomnia tonight. As you probably know, creative types are creatures of the night, which is where Insomnia lives. What a life it is to be chained to a brick of mud; painting our own sight with the tap-tap-tapping of plastic squares on a machine. I wouldn’t change any of it.

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about my history of depression. It seems to be another well acquainted confidant of the night. I can remember having dark, self-loathing thoughts as a child. I don’t know if it was a learned thing, or a gift for being born on a rainy, December Thursday.

You see, I should really dedicate most of my published works (including this blog) to my dear depression. Who better to be the most in tune with their feelings (and so out of tune with everything else)? Whenever I feel a little defeated or some sort of discouragement, I remind myself of a moment that was so crucial and pivotal. The key turning point that pushed me in the direction that inevitably lead me to this keyboard… and you.

I have always hated popcorn or decorated plaster ceilings. The house I was living in at the time had lazy swoops like someone was in a hurry to fill an order. I remember this, because I spent about an hour staring at it from the peel and stick flooring of the bathroom. I had lost any happiness that existed in my life and I was ridiculing myself for not having the courage to end the rest of it. I had no drive, no ambition to do so. I had thought myself a burden to everyone I knew. I had sought love from other people to fill a void, only to be rejected and turned away. Why was I so hard to love? I certainly didn’t deserve any of it, but someone could have been generous. Someone could have taken pity on me and donated a bit of their love, because I certainly didn’t have any for myself.

I lied there; hopeless and a dry well for tears. An unlovable coward who hid her agenda from her father who was just three rooms away. Something strange happened, though.

“No one is here.” A phrase that I had repeated to myself over and over. Initially a thought that I was lonely and no one cared. But somehow, the tone in my head changed.

No one is here.

No one is here.

No one is here.

I am the only one. I am here. No one else is here.

A revelation pushed me up from that awful green flooring. It straightened my spine and I pulled myself up from the edge of the sink, staring at my puffy, blue eyes. I must’ve stood there, examining my reflection for several minutes.

It was only me. No one else pulled me up from the floor. No one else was staring back in my reflection. No one else that I had to face when I woke up in the morning. What the hell was I doing? Why was I destroying the only thing I had left? The only thing I ever really had. It was mine. It was me. Only me.

I realized that it wasn’t cowardice that kept me from leaving this Earth. It was me. The one who was fighting to survive. The one who knew I had so much more to do than letting that darkness consume me. Letting it win.

“I like your freckles,” I said to myself with a slight giggle. I felt awkward saying something kind to myself. After the years of critiquing and criticizing every single little thing, I wanted to reject it. But I couldn’t. It was the one phrase that was going to save me.

I turned the knob to the door, went to the kitchen and made dinner for my dad. A few months later, I took an offer to move out of the state with my employer. I needed to leave. I was stuck in a dismal bubble where doors to leave didn’t often appear. I found a really old copy of Charlee while I packed up boxes from my childhood. I ran into Mrs. Fritts later that day. The Universe spoke. So, I left to rehabilitate. To rebuild myself in a city that was going through its own revival. I wrote my novel and finished the first draft before my dad passed. I published a few months later.

So, I’ll say this with a wince. I wouldn’t be here if it weren’t for you, sweet Depression. I should dedicate it all to you. But I owe it all to my relentless, brave, courageous, wild Spirit.

Short: Please Send Money (rough)

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 cerami rooster bought from the farmer’s market.

“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.

The Secrets in our Youth.

At some point, we all experience the illusion of immortality in our youth. It’s a warm, blanketing feeling to know that you’re young, smart, and the entire world is ahead of you. When those curtains fall to the ground and reality is revealed, your last little bit of innocence crumbles with it.

I lost a friend yesterday. I hadn’t been in touch with him in many years, but I am mourning his absence.

His death (along with two of us who passed while we were teenagers) is a reminder that those days in our youth, our “group” really was something special. Our bond was something magical and we all still hold each other very dear. Even now, I can’t talk about the things that happened. Not because I think people would frown upon our actions, but because it’s a secret shared only between us. Keeping it that way is like clutching on to something glittery and golden. An active current that lives at the very core of all of us, that keeps reminding us of who we really are. Because we were the realist when we were together. Yes, even in our ignorant youth.

Rest. Peacefully rest and let these broken pieces of our hearts go with you to your next journey. We’ll be okay. After all, we were loved by you. I hope we can all be together in another lifetime.

Cup of suckitup

image

We spend the majority of our young life finding friends and wanting to be accepted.

Only for them to eventually die and we end up alone.

Life is too short to be so concerned about the miniscule, high-end standards of enjoyment.

Quitcher  Bitchin.

Damn. Is that so fucking hard?

8 Realities of a Deceased Parent.

Finale
Summer sunset at my childhood home

If you’ve had the luxury of growing up with both parents (and both parents are great people), it’s even harder when life happens and they’re taken away from you. These are our truths, no matter how long it has been (1 month, 1 year, 10 years, et cetera), or how old you were when you lost them.

  1. It will always hurt. Time doesn’t make it easier. The reality of it is, we’ve repeated it to ourselves so much that we’ve just numbed ourselves to it. We will still have outbursts where we miss them so much, we’re inconsolable. After a good crying session, we go back to being numb. Some people may call this acceptance, but it’s still a numbing mechanism.
  2. There will be a piece of our heart missing. There isn’t anything anyone can do to fill it. It’s a permanent fixture. Don’t even try. Either you accept it or you move on.
  3. It may be subtle, but it does change us. Our perspective on life has been altered and we now have to figure out an alternate route. We may act out in odd ways that we didn’t before (good or bad). This is what I like to call a ripple. Some people settle back to similar versions of themselves, others may not.
  4. We will always talk about our parent. Yes, we will have moments that remind us of something. Sometimes it’s a good memory, sometimes it’s a sad one. We may even repeat something we’ve told you before. Understand that this is how we still keep them alive. I’ve mentioned my dad so many times in these posts and I don’t even care if people are tired of it.
  5. Don’t get annoyed. That is the absolute worst thing you could ever do. Don’t you dare get frustrated if we are brave enough to share our moments with you. Don’t whine about how you’ve heard that story before or how many times we’ve said, “I wish you could have met him/her.”
  6. Ask us to share our memories. Helping us to grieve is one of the best things you can do. I love sharing stories about my dad and I love hearing stories about him. It gives me a sense that he’s still around. I even have a playlist created just for him that I like to listen to it on road trips.
  7. Time angers us. To me, I am upset that life still moves on. The electric bill still needs to be paid, the seasons change, you have to go back to work. I didn’t have time to breathe. It also means that I’m further from the last conversation, that last hug & kiss goodbye. I’m also afraid to make any dramatic changes because I know my dad won’t be there to witness them. But life happens. Still.
  8. There are no words of wisdom we can give you. Death is inevitable, so you will soon know of our pain. Everyone grieves differently. I can say, being surrounded by people who loved them just as much as you helps. Being surrounded by people who love you also helps. That’s the best that I’ve got.

I will conclude with a cliche to appreciate everyone in your life. Even the annoying people. The petty stuff is never worth it.

What would you be wearing?

I have found myself in the clutches of Death three times now. That’s not something I am proud of, but it is something I am completely aware of.  My father has also stood on that very doormat three times, but upon his third knock, Death allowed passage through its threshold.

Isn’t it odd, though? How Death leaves its stench when you stand in the same room?

My recent car accident left my leg dislocated and disgusting. The hospital said they sedated me to put it back in place, but strange things happened. I awoke in a dark room, gasping for air, and yelling that someone was chasing me. The only woman left in the room (from a crowd that was there) calmed me and had me taking deep breaths. Later, someone informed me that I’d stopped breathing for 2-3 minutes. I just stopped. Not held my breath. I stopped. Everyone behaved as if it were normal, so at the time, so did I. The first night, I was on so many machines, I was hoping to become bionic. Sore, bruised, and confused I didn’t think much of the heart monitor and the overnight stays.

Now that I have recovered greatly, a couple of things were on mind: I remember what happened when I was “under,” and at least I would’ve been wearing nice clothes and clean underwear like mom always warned me to do. When I had to identify my dad’s body, he was wearing what he always wore–white, coffee stained shirt with the collar cut so it wouldn’t feel like it choked him. His hair was still long and a mess, although the last time I saw him, I fussed at him to get it cleaned up. That was a hard day. The hardest so far.

There really isn’t a point to this blog. No soulful inspiration. Just my slightly morbid thinking while I am folding laundry. Which shirt would I not mind relinquishing to my demise? Why does it matter? Dark days for me lately. And to think, it’s almost my birthday.