Wednesday, November 6, 2013


He's three minutes late.

I fidget with the hem of my mustard yellow chiffon dress.  It has a peter pan collar, which I love, and an empire waist that actually works in favor of the thirty pounds I've gained since I moved the six hours to school.  He's seven minutes late and the chairs in this lounge are really scratchy on my bare legs.

The lounge is long and fairly narrow with a wall of windows, which I hope will catch him on his way into the building so I can prepare.  A few window panes down, a man and woman are sitting with their backs to me.  Her head is on his shoulder and her blonde hair covers her back as well as much of his green shirt.  I am jealous her hair is so much longer than my short bob.  I let go of the hem of my mustard dress, I would hate for it to wrinkle.  He's twelve minutes late.

I notice the extra sweat gathering on the back of my neck just as he enters the room.  I stand up, smiling, and move a few steps forward to meet him with a hug.  He looks worried.  He is only a few inches taller than me and he still has traces of boyhood in his cheeks and walk.  He is wearing sweats and a university t-shirt but I'm not surprised.  His eyes are bloodshot.

"Hey! How are you?" I ask him as we sit back down on the scratchy chairs that face the windows.  He mumbles something semi-affirmative and we spend a minute watching people walk to their respective classrooms.  I have a chemistry test in forty-five minutes, maybe I'll be able to study for a minute beforehand.

"Chris, yesterday was..." I start, but I don't know where to go from there.  He doesn't look my way; he seems interested in the way the wind makes people bow their heads down into their fall jackets.

"What about it?" He finally says.  I continue to look at him, becoming more and more anxious as he refuses to look at me.  the mustard hem is weaving between my fingers again.  He checks his cell phone, setting it next to his legs as if I'm a teacher who can't see what he's doing.  I stand up, suddenly not interested in explaining myself.

"Yesterday was probably the best decision I've ever made. Have a nice life,"  I stood still for a moment because some part of me was hoping he would ask me to sit back down.  The unavoidable breath of disappointment stinks as its heat washes my face pink and I leave the sitting room.  

Down one flight of stairs is the campus coffee shop, and I stop to buy a pumpkin mocha.  Although I know it will burn my taste buds, I take a sip anyways.  A little bit of the brown liquid sloshes as I walk to my car, filling the crevices between my knuckles.  It burns and I drop the cup.  Sitting down in the dying grass, my vision blurs with tears, and I wipe them away.  I don't need a coffee anyways, I'm going to take a nap.

When I get home I tear the dirty sheets off my bed and the mustard dress off of my body.  Curling up in just my comforter and underwear, I watch the dark screen of my phone for hours, waiting for his number to pop up and offer me a reconciliation. It doesn't, and by the time I fall asleep I stop hoping for it.

this bit of fiction is linked with Jenny Matlock's AlphabeThursday.  Check out other writings here:

Thursday, September 5, 2013

hardships often prepare ordinary people for extraordinary lives

I didn't grow up normal. I didn't grow up with two happy parents. I didn't grow up in the same house or even the same city.  I didn't spend my childhood thinking my dad was the greatest thing on Earth.

I grew up in three different states, at least seven different homes, and five different schools (I think).  I was raised by the strongest woman I know, but my mother had some pretty wicked vices of her own.  I grew up with a father who, when not in prison, was full of booze and one drug or another.  I grew up fast.

When I see little girls, they are usually bright and outgoing and talkative. Sometimes they are shy, but they almost always warm up.  They are happy.  They like to play with their friends.  I liked to play by myself.  I didn't like other people.  I guess some things never change.

One of my first memories is of being awakened late at night during a sleepover at my grandpa's and having to huddle behind the couch, covering my brother's ears, as my dad and uncle beat each other bloody.  I grew up surrounded by yelling and harsh words and ultimatums and doors slamming shut in the middle of the night.  I grew up in a world where people yell if they want to be heard.  Today I would rather be run over than have someone raise their voice to me. It would hurt less.

When bad things happen I never cry.  Grandparents die, dogs die, friends leave, boyfriends cheat, girls say mean things and I come up with a plan to deal with it.  I am a planner.  Not a doer, just a planner.  My counselor told me somewhere I must have realized that too much emotion just ends up hurting other people so I taught myself not to feel at all.

Not feeling at all is awful though, but my switch was rusted into the "off" position. I needed some source, any source, of emotion.  So I planned.  And I took apart a disposable razor until I got the thin blades separated, I broke one in half, and I cut my thigh.  Over and over and over. Every week, almost every day.  It's all I ever thought about because, you have to understand, it's the only thing I really felt.  Until I got caught, and even then I never really stopped.  Would you, if it was the only thing that made you feel anything besides absolute melancholy?  82 scars are still visible to anyone who looks close enough when I wear shorts.

God saved me once, or twice really.  I used to really, really be in love with him.  I was head over heels in love with my God.  I was also really, really in love with Sky, and J, D, and Derek.  I think I'm head over heels for anything that breaks the melancholy.  But I always, always ruin it. Even God.  If there were competition, I would win first place for how to ruin relationships.  So where does it end?

I'll let you know when I get there.  But for now, just try to understand.  Or at least try to be accommodating. Because there will be times you need me and I just can't be there.  And it's not going to be fair, but it's going to be me and it's going to be real.


I have never dreamed of growing old and wrinkly
Instead I dream of being chased,
or taunted,
or killed.
But of course, not really killed
because even our subconscious believes we are invincible.
We always wake up before all our blood drains
before we reach that dim light up ahead
it's just like hope to always sustain.
He was fifteen months and twenty-eight days of nightmares.
Night terrors and drifty day dreams
that drug me from conversations and straight into his grasp.
When I was finally shaken awake
it was just after my limbs were severed
but just before I bled out;
you know, that barely lucid state of being.
My brain was ready to give up on me,
no longer interjecting.
Self-preservation doesn't mean much to a placement
All it knows is being spilled on and cleaned back up
I am a yes man and an idea machine
I am constant and reliable
but I am not there
I am not anywhere at all
except floating above, watching,
wishing things were different
and that for once I would dream of growing old and wrinkly.