Aiming for sport.

Sometimes I’m the lion, and sometimes I’m the doe. When you make me mad, when I’m passionate about something, when my blood is racing so fast it’s roaring like a hundred white rapids, I’m the lion. My curly hair rests, curl over curl, twenty rolling masses protecting my vulnerable neck and masking my exposed heart. But my hide won’t be thick forever, sometime I have to lay down in the sun. The heat wears on me and before I know it my lashes are caressing one another. My paws grow too heavy to pick up and I’m rooted where I stand. I’m tamed and I fall heavily, like a building drawn too far into the sky. Pride is strong and stubborn but it is short lived.

animal deer japan
Photo by Ghost Presenter on Pexels.com

And then I’m the doe, prancing around dead leaves and snow melting on my nose. All at once I’m intentional, nervous, and vulnerable. I look so innocent, standing there. I don’t make much noise but you watch me none the less. At first you enjoy it, you’re entranced. You want to draw closer and pet me, run your hands along my long back. You watch my every movement, the mucsles on my legs running smoothly like water in a shallow river. No sound, no rocks to hinder it.

But then it grows cold and that river turns to ice. The seasons change and you’re not a boy anymore. My grace doesn’t matter to you. You forget the fact that I mean no harm; it’s erased from your mind as if you never knew it. You forget that first snowfall and the joy of the first flurries settling on the ground. You pull out your gun and you shoot me, a bullet to the heart.

And all at once, you’ve taken everything I ever was, a proud yet vulnerable thing. And with one fatal blow, you turned both hearts into shrapnel. Because when you were a boy somebody let you play with a gun and pretend to shoot imaginary pigeons. And when you grew, you forgot who you were shooting at, who you were hurting. You drew me in because you loved me, because I loved you, because you made me feel wild and tame at the same time, and just when I walked into the clearing, you punctured me with lead.

 

This is a throwback, something I wrote nine years ago.

You were meant for me.

Heads up: if you have lost a child, particularly in pregnancy, you may want to consider whether or not you want to read this before starting as it is about that.

I lay on the bathroom floor until all the midnights for a month after you left me. Pushing my forehead into the cold, dingy white tile, I wondered why you’d gone, where the redeeming quality was, where the sun was hiding. I’d finger my pink baby blanket mom had wrapped me in as a child but took no comfort for it. There was no consolation prize for this and I didn’t really understand what God was trying to teach me when he closed the door behind you and locked all the windows. The only thing that worked when it was supposed to was the plumbing in that clammy bathroom. After I hugged the lid with frail fingers, the toilet, though it did so reluctantly, flushed. Though it came through rusted pipes, the water always found its way to my tired body. Those things worked, why couldn’t I?

It would be so much easier if there had been a “why” to go with a “what” but I suppose there are some questions that don’t have answers. It was a small but brutal jest that left me alone on that bathroom floor every night, pulling up my shirt and looking down at exposed ribs, following them down to a scarred stomach and pelvis. The worst part was there were scars but no you. My body had proof you’d been there, proof you’d existed, but my arms were and remain empty. Somewhere inside I knew it. But the world showed no record of you. You weren’t there in my apartment,waking me up in the middle of the night wailing like some sort of siren. You weren’t there. Instead I just had this scary, unaffected, silence in your place. I knew you were there somewhere, had been there somewhere. My body knew it. My scars proved it. But as far as the world was concerned you were just a pocket of silence, a blank silence that had never really been there.

I lay on that bathroom floor every night until midnight for a month, just trying to remember the honey brown locks that I’d never comb, the first words that would never be spoken, the kindergarten graduation I’d never attend, the milk that would never be spilled. Then I settled on the truth that hearts are broken every day and mine isn’t the only one chained to the bathroom floor, swaddled in a pink baby blanket where perhaps somebody else ought to be. So that thirty-first night, I got up and went into the bedroom and turned on Letterman. You had been in there somewhere once, tucked securely beneath my heart. I had the scars to prove it. Maybe the world forgets the lost too easily in its eagerness to pick up latenight talkshows and turn the channel to afternoon sitcoms. But all the same you can only swim against the stream for so long before your body fails and it sweeps you along with it. Wherever you’d gone I couldn’t follow and you can’t hold on to a hand that isn’t there. It wasn’t time to let you go. There is never a time or place for that sort of thing. But either way, at some point I had to do it. At some point I had to get lost in the television and let somebody else do the talking.

This is something I wrote at nineteen that has always stuck in the back of my mind. I’d never been pregnant and still haven’t so I forget exactly what led to me writing this. I think I was listening to “You were meant for me” by Jewel and thinking about an alternative meaning for it.

Journey between two walls.

There’s three of us. I don’t know where we’re travelling but I know we must do it urgently. There’s also the most adorable, chubby puppy I have ever seen, brown with a round face and even rounder eyes that melt you to the ground. We’re accompanied by a white horse with the most beautiful white hair I have ever seen.

We enter the city through a gate. I don’t know what city or even the general location of the city but it feels partly European with the narrow road between two sides of the street, on both of which sit lodging. The road is stone paved and there are some fires in lanterns just at the gate as it rolls downward behind us. Something in the deafening sound as it hits the ground unsettles me.

I shift a books of Irish folk tales in my satchel as it sticks out, pushing it down in the bag and putting the pup in there, letting it open so he can calmly look out, observing the street around him. He presses his cold nose against my hand thankfully. The horse walks gracefully beside me, his shoes making virtually no sound, almost as if they are lined with layers of cloth.

The old man, my escort, with the handlebar mustache and the kind brown eyes, smiles back at me, looking furtively to see if I’m still there. His dress reminds me of an American from the Midwest with his jeans and flannel button-up. His brown boots carry him steadily onward down the street.

Behind me, there is a young man, mid-20s with jet black hair and obsidian eyes that catch and swallow everything from a speck of dust to the wrinkles in a flag waving over one of the doorways. I start to walk under an awning and he sternly pushes me away, point to a minor, hardly visible tear in the red cover and then to a post bent outward. He turns to look about him and whistles the quietest, clearest whistle I have ever heard in my life. The older man doesn’t even turn to him. Instead, he immediately turns left and takes us down an even more narrow alley, one where I can touch the walls on both sides. I don’t like this. I begin to feel like a mouse with a hawk looming overhead, waiting on him to drop down and end my short existence. I have to clench my hands to keep from instinctively wincing and clenching my scrawny shoulder muscles to my ears. The more I think about it, the more convinced I am that I move like a mouse, in and out of the site of a calm, patient predator.

I stick my arms out and allow my fingertips to graze the walls, taking in their rough stone textures and the chiseled and weathered cracks among them. Another soft whistle. I turn around and the young man shakes his head, pointing to the pads of his fingertips and then pretending to place them on the walls. Fingerprints. I bite back a sigh and hold onto my lower lip with my teeth for a moment then drop my shoulders and my hands to my sides.

After a long and agonizing 15 minutes of claustrophobia, we emerge from the narrow passageway into yet another silent street, this one with a fire burning. I sit down on a wooden crate and let the puppy out to relieve himself. I don’t have a name for him. I suppose I didn’t think they would let me keep him long enough.

 

This is something I wrote sort of for the sake of writing about 5 to six years ago. I wrote several entries in a row but never finished it. This is the first and was something I thought would be a good fit for my blog to add a bit of variance.

Breathing in water.

I pull my head above water and shake it. Cold air stings the water droplets on my face. The waving water pushes my shoulders down. I sink below. I punch at the endless and suffocating cocoon of navy around me, effective as a child against a giant. Some wave is not going to wash over me. I’m not going to sink, all the rage rushing through my veins says I won’t.  Something catches my feet, wraps around an ankle and pulls. A last fleeting hope floats out into an air bubble in front of my face. I’m going to sink.

Water beats around me, waves hitting me from all directions. It’s just a flash of black after black wave. I don’t kick at it so much as flail and my ankle is freed. I scramble in the most desperate, least graceful attempt I have ever made, pulling at the water above me.  My mouth feels cold stinging air and I inhale like it is my first and last breath. I am shoved coldly and forcefully down by hands I can’t see.

Hopelessness gives way to frustration and ebbs back into hopelessness. My muscles relax and I sit there, suspended like a doll on a shelf. I cannot do a thing. My hair floats above me, reaching for the surface. It seems to be the only part of me that believes it should be above water. I try to follow it up only to feel the colliding crash of a wave into the surface of the water hit me in the stomach suddenly and brutally. The water beats me down, again, and again, and again, from all directions. Lactid acid burns in my muscles and once I do reach the cold air again it freezes in my lungs. Heat never burned as hot as that cold air, siphoning all the energy and hope left in my gut.

How do people swim? How do they surf, how do they wade in these currents? How do I get washed away under a thunderous wave while they flirt around in the sandbar? This and so many other questions I do not understand but it seems that preponderance doesn’t stop the sinking. Maybe I will just quit. Maybe I will just forget to breathe. What will the water do to me then? Who will the darkness wash over?

Those would all be things I would be thinking if I had enough oxygen left in my body. I stare out into what I can see, no sunshine breaking the surface to provide light past my own area. My body begins to feel so heavy I feel as if there is water in it, as if I have either become the cold and merciless water or have allowed it to fill my every extremity with boulders. I just drift there, batted back and forth by the waves like a lifeless toy being hungrily attacked by an overzealous dog.

The waves grow tired of me, they cease. Maybe I have enough to get to the surface. But whatever I might have left will be gone long before I am submerged again. For the first time, I cannot move towards the surface with the ignorant belief that I will be able to stay.

This is something I wrote maybe six years ago when I was about 23.

A Bull in a China Shop. A short vignette.

Mother never liked Daddy and I never understood why she didn’t. Every night after he worked outside all day, Daddy’d stretch out on the lazy boy, dirty and tired, smelling like a mix between oil and stale beer. He’d try to hug her first but she’d squirm out of it, saying to shower, that it made her sick. She went to college. He didn’t. But he was the one paying the bills and she was the one washing our socks. I felt sorry for him.

She hated his calloused hands. I loved them. They felt like sandpaper. I’d crawl into his lap at night and trace my fingers along his, twigs on tree stumps. It was quiet and calm, like the naps Mother made me take after school when she wouldn’t let me outside to “roll in the mud like some pig.” But Daddy wasn’t like that. He didn’t pay me much mind and just let me sit there. Every once in a while he’d ruffle the curls on my head, like he sometimes did with our mutt Burt’s ears. I liked Burt. Mom said he smelled but he wagged his tail a lot and sometimes when he was close enough it would sweep picture frames off the coffee table, sending them clattering to the floor. Mom complained that Burt was a “bull in a China shop,” just like me. Daddy and I would laugh on rainy days when Burt would dart in between Mother’s legs and leave Burt-sized paw prints all over the floor. She’d chase after him like an angry babysitter or the cat from Tom and Jerry.

Sometimes Burt and I used to go hunting for an invisible squirrel. He was invisible because that made him harder to catch so I got to be outside longer-and because I was too afraid to have to kill something. You can’t kill a squirrel you can’t see. Once Daddy brought home a deer–Daddy brought home lots of deer actually and I would usually hide somewhere and try to pretend it was just another stuffed animal and the last look of fear on its face was just a trick. Daddy’d be proud of his catch and would want us to have dinner of deer steak and noodles and sit together as a family. Last time though Mommy said it was out of season and left the room. I always thought Daddy was much braver than both of us.

I stopped hunting after that though and Daddy did too because he went away for work for a few weeks. That was the same week Mom broke her wrist, fell down the steps Dad said, and I had to be extra good and help her carry things into the house. I also couldn’t be knocking all my toys to the floor and forget about them. I did a good job, at first, until once when Mom called me away from an epic game of checkers I was playing against myself. I groaned and asked why she couldn’t have picked up her feet going down the stairs like she tells me to, then she wouldn’t have broken her wrist. Mom said she did it carrying groceries–I asked if there was Rocky Road ice cream in the bag and did we have any more. She itched a spot in the corner of her eye and went into the other room, breathing strangely like a wounded monster after it’s been caught. She had never really tolerated my questioning but Daddy always had on account of I played in the woods and not in jumpers and pig-tails like a “sissy.”

One day though, at the end of summer, I went to the elementary school instead of my old church one. We had recess there instead of naptime because that’s first-graders are much too old for naps. There were girls everywhere in pink jumpers and purple ones and blue ones. The first day I went over to the soccer field to play touch football. I shoved one boy down and he got a rock in his knee. I spit on the ground next to him–just like Daddy taught me- and told him to get up, hooking my thumbs in my belt loops and puffing my chest out. The teacher saw and called my mom on me. Mother brought me home jumpers and a brand new brush. There was a gleam in her eyes and she smiled a broad, pretty smile. I liked her until she threw out my muddy hunting boots and my jeans with the pockets ripped out. That night I told Daddy on her. Later when it was dark and I was in my bed I heard him call her a “snotty bitch” and made her go outside in the trash and dig them out. I didn’t know what a bitch was but I hoped he was going to give her a timeout. He loved me.

The next morning Mom sat on her bony knees and raked the turquoise brush through my ratty hair–I knew it was turquoise because that was the crayon in the teacher’s box that I had accidentally broken the day before. She tried to kiss my cheek. I leaned away and wiped it off just in case, glaring at her in the mirror. She pulled a curl behind my ear, looking at it and sighed like she had just lost at Red Rover.

“Be good at school today, please.”

“I’m always good.”

“I know. But just maybe try to play a new game today, just to see.”

I didn’t answer her and I didn’t do it. But I wore the jumper and didn’t try to tear the buttons off.

The next day on my way over to the kickball game this girl named Lane stopped me. She told me she needed somebody else for Four Square. She wore a green jumper with cream-colored shoes. A black barrette held back a chocolate curl. I decided I liked her. I played with her that day and the one after that. She was nice to everyone and never spat.

We were best friends by the time we got through the times tables in class and one Friday after school Lane road the bus home with me. We stepped off the asphalt and into the dusty, gravel road that ran like a snake through the neighborhood. I got the urge to spit, and then, embarrassed by Lane’s reaction, wiped it out with my shoe. She just shook her head and giggled, walking with skinny arms that matched her skinny legs. Mine were scraped and had mosquito bites, my arms bobbed at my sides.

We walked side by side and I tried to be graceful like her. Once we rounded the corner my dad’s red truck was there, one of the headlights out from where he swerved to hit a deer. I tried to shrug it off like it was no big thing, like he would, but I couldn’t wait to tell him how I had climbed to the big Oak tree on the playground to the highest branch I could–I would have gotten higher if Miss Crabtree hadn’t raised her pointy nose and snapped her fingers at me. At least he would appreciate it.

I bounded up the steps onto the wooden porch, stomping in a way that would have shamed thunder as I tried to dance across, tripping halfway. Swinging open the screen door, I welcomed at least three moths into our home. Daddy came towering through the living room, looking like he had just eaten cabbage. Read More

A Waking Dream.

I can see his heartbeat through the hole in his face.

Please don’t be real, please please. Please don’t be standing there. I close my eyes so tight I think they are about to explode in their sockets. I cannot wrench my fingers from my hairline to cover them. Just please don’t be there. Please go away. My heart bleeds with a terrible anxiety that burns its way to every corner of my body.

External silence butts against internal screams. I listen to it and it sinks into me. I breathe and open my eyes, forcing their gaze to the corner of the room.

He is still standing there, looking at nothing, holding nothing. His cargoes are dirty, torn at the knees. His shirt untucked and a button hanging from its string. Yet, his chest does not move. It does not heave, it does not rise. His fingers do not twitch. There is a red dot on his shirt, then another, then another, as if red rain is falling from the ceiling. His adam’s apple is paralyzed, his pouty lips pressed impassionately together, his pupils stones with blue water running over them. The only turmoil, the only interruptance of his compusure is his cheek.  A wound. A bullet hole. The bullet is nowhere to be seen, lodged in some part of his head. But the wound. It’s just red, strings of blood running down his cheek and dripping off his chin, pitter pattering against his forest green shoulder. More and more blood comes, like a steady beat, pulsating. Bum, bum. Bum, bum. Bum, bum. Blood, blood. Blood, blood. Red, blood. Swelling in and out, in and out.

My concentration sinks into the sight. I can smell the salt in the wound, the sulfur shot from the gun. I zero in and can’t turn my head. The wound is not clean. It’s jagged, skin hangs down over part of the wound, specks of white bone break up the beating pool.

I can’t stand to not look at him but I can’t stand to look at him. The smell overwhelms me and I start to get nauseated. My stomach contracts over and over again until I am ready to heave but I remain frozen and so does he. He is the worst living nightmare I can consciously imagine and all he does is stand.

 

 

This is a throwback of a journal entry I wrote seven years ago of a nightmare or mental trigger I had because of PTSD at the time. When I get especially stressed out, this is something I see fairly vividly in my dreams.

Credit for the photograph goes to Alexander Krivitskiy on Pexels.com.

Dancin’ with myself.

When there’s no one else inside, on a crowded lonely night, I cross my arms and hold my hands to my shoulders, propping the rest of my body. Then I revolve once, twice, three times, faster and faster like a carnival merry-go-round that’s gathering power to take the passengers on a ride. A circular ride that goes and goes and seems like it’s spinning for miles and miles, almost so much that I half expect to step off and be somewhere else, somewhere completely different—not a stale carnival at eleven at night that’s dying with each turned off sign and closed down booth. But it never goes anywhere. I never go anywhere. No matter how much I spin and spin.

But I spin. Because it creates a blur, like a constantly rotating kaleidoscope except it’s me looking out at the world through a changing vision, not the world at me. Lucy with kaleidoscope eyes. Maybe that’s what they meant. I just figure if I spin and spin my eyes will never focus on a face. They’ll never stop to see the scowls, the stares, the gauging, probing, eyes, or even the eyes of a predator. So many faces I don’t have to see. They’re still there but they’re cut up into triangles and dots and a blur of fluorescent lights. Then all of a sudden I don’t see them. Just the wind chasing me as I dance and my hands reached out, catching on short clouds of vision.

woman doing ballet dance on side walk in grayscale photo
Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

But sometime I’m going to stop spinning. Sometime the dizziness is going to become even more than I can stomach and it’s going to turn to a nausea, an overflow from my core and the pits of everything I am and there’s going to have to be a purging, a heaving, until I find myself sprawled across brown blades of what used to be grass. And I’ll wait here because some of the faces will be waiting to pounce, vultures trying to be sure I won’t put up a fight—and some of the faces will be just in too much of a hurry or too preoccupied with maintaining the right degree of scowling, or off banging their gavels elsewhere. So I’ll lay here until I can do otherwise. And when that time comes, when air stops fleeing my lungs, I’ll stand and start dancing with myself. Me, myself, and Atlas.

This is another throwback I wrote about seven years ago when bored. It is ironic that the last word here is Atlas.

Somewhere in between.

“What is it with you and… plaid?”

“Like my shirts?”

“Like every day.”

“I don’t know it makes me feel… ruggedly fashionable.”

She laughed. “Don’t you mean raggedly?”

“Very funny.”

“I mean I like plaid,” she said, pinching the shoulder of his button-up, “But every day is just overkill man.”

“Yeah yeah yeah.”

“You look like Ireland exploded.”

He laid back, his arms behind his head and stared into the sky. “Do you ever think about it?”

“About what?”

“The stars.”

“Well I think they’re there and you can see them at night. That’s about the extent of it. I kind of try not to think much about the stars right now because of where it got me to begin with. I mean not that I don’t love to be here,” she said shrugging her shoulders and gesturing about her, “with you trying to figure this all out but there are things I miss about before. Things I’m missing out on by sitting here.”

Missing things, that wasn’t one of his current troubles. Propping himself up on an elbow, he looked over at her as she paced from unsteady rock to unsteady rock, “Like what?”

She sighed. “Like… my mom for one. She’s so, so graceful and calm, a lot of things I’m not. She has it all put together and she knows everything that needs knowing. If she was in my place, things would be so much further along. And she has this way, of just softening the blow to the harshest things. I love being with her. It makes me feel like a better person just by sitting beside her. She has a real way of drawing the best out of you.” She dropped a peddle into a small puddle and watched the water ripple. “And I miss school. That’s weird but learning is kind of my thing. I like sitting in different classes like mythology and then science and trying to fuse the two together in my head. Even though there is no logical or true connection, I just like toying around with it. By the time we get back it will be summer. I’ll be a year behind school and it will have been like I failed.”

“And what if we fail?”

She connected eyes with him for a second as if wondering the same then shook her head. “I haven’t– I don’t have that figured out. I guess I’m just trying not to fail.”

“Good plan.”

They sat a few minutes in silence and then she laid down beside him, hands behind her head, moonlight blushing her cheeks silver. He looked over for a minute, a bit bewildered then chalked it up to all of the other things about her he didn’t quite understand. “So what was your question about the stars? What do you think about them?”

“I just wonder. Those constellations all tell the tale of stories past, right? Stories we have actually come across since we started. And if these stories happened, then they had to have been added to the stars afterwards, right? Or maybe not because the fates seem to know everything to begin with, prophecies trick us will telling everything, so maybe there is already a constellation before the tale ever seems to unravel.”

“Maybe.”

“And, well, what I’m wondering is,” he paused, knitting his eyebrows together, unable to pull out his exact question in the way it was framed in his mind, a complex web of thoughts to be rooted into a simple line of words.”

“Whether or not you have a constellation and whether or not it’s up there?”

“Yes, as cocky as that might sound.”

“It’s not cocky but it’s definitely interesting. But either way I don’t think it’s a question you should be troubling yourself with. Knowing won’t change anything, and if it could, you wouldn’t know until after. At worst it could give you a terrible dread and at best possible a confidence which might prove dangerous. Be the one hero who ignores the prophecy. Don’t hear it or know it and you’ll focus on the issue at hand rather than trying to prove some prediction wrong.”

He laughed a bit more lightly than before. “That’s not the worst advice I’ve ever heard.”

“Of course not.” She jumped up, “Now I think we have a friend to find.”

This is something I wrote in a few separate entries seven years ago when I was playing around in the summer writing fiction before my senior year of college. I think this is the first entry and I played around with this idea for a while but for now, I am just posting the first entry.

Smoking Gun pointed at the Giant White Elephant in the Corner.

I’ve known for a while that I have a serious depression issue in spite of the fact that I am a college student and a person with a lot of things to be thankful for. But I still have these unpleasant bouts with blurry edges at the beginning and end as they bleed into and out of my life.

The point is, I have a depression issue and my stepdad, a cop, owns a whole lot of guns. We keep them in a safe and I stay away from it so it doesn’t really bother me. He and my mother recently married so he doesn’t really know my problem. Not to mention, I tend to keep things to myself so my mother doesn’t know all of it. Not knowing my issues, he was leaving to take the dog for a walk so he put a loaded gun in front of me on the coffee table.

Let me say that I have never hurt myself nor have I ever attempted to do so (well, per se). But acting and thinking are two different things. It’s kind of like a morbid curiosity that is also kind of like a rabid compulsion whenever I am depressed. Part of me, the part of me that is above water knows that that is incredibly stupid. But, as my professor pointed out on the first day of Abnormal Psych, “this is a very interesting and a very dark side of humanity.” So though I don’t exactly have a dark side, I have a bit of darkness to me, according to his definition. That I am okay with. But knowing I have it and actually having it aren’t the same thing.

So there is this loaded gun in front of me, which probably to be honest poses more of a danger to me than anyone who would walk in, which has a wood handle and a black barrel. Aside from that, I have no idea what it is. All I know is part of me looks at it and is scared to touch it and part of me is pulled to touch it, to lightly run my finger down the handle and circle. Part of me muses that hey, this could be over in just a few seconds. Like that, total darkness, quick as switching off a light. My stepdad is a cop so I know it doesn’t necessarily work that way but that is my thought process. The line between life and death is fairly thin, like a reaching of my hand across the coffee table.

Don’t get me wrong, I have no intentions of touching it. But the part of me that sometimes feels a little, how to describe it, funny, is drawn to that gun. I wouldn’t touch it for all the world but the more I stare at that black barrel, the more I feel it smoking.

gun metal barrel
Photo by Somchai Kongkamsri on Pexels.com

In the still of the night.

You know what scares me most about the dark? It’s not soothing. It smothers you in defenselessness. The blackness slowly slips over your neighborhood, silencing the world around you and cutting your connections to others. It’s in the quiet of the night that all of the terrifying things happen. Granted things happen during the day. But it’s at night, when people slip in quietly, nonchalantly, and commit acts screaming with finality, that remain silent until people, waking up softly on their pillows, stumble into the streets to walk their dogs and get the mail, notice that shards of window glass are laying on the sidewalk and the wind is blowing aside the off-white, decaying curtain in the neighbor’s bedroom.

 

This is another throwback, written six years ago.