Latest Entries »

It was already over

Fall rolled in like a thunder storm, dark and ominous. In New England the changing season was more than a damp heaviness in the air, it was an assault to the senses, and it sent the many inhabitants of Concord into frenzy. It seemed to Abigail that the riot of color came with a warning call only the busybody could hear. In her limited experience, it seemed, people’s minds got smaller when the nights grew longer. As if the dark could shrink a person’s wold view.

She had seen the hold fear could have during the last smallpox outbreak, which had taken her mother and Daniel two winters back. It still woke Abigail in the night, the way hatred had filled eyes and soured words when she had begged for help that never came. Her Father had preached forgiveness and fortitude of spirit, and she had done as she was bade, but now he too was gone. His last breaths rolling out as the fall thunder rolled in.

It was hard for her to define the venom in every word cast in her direction, but after he was buried Abigail could sense it. While the ire of the town chafed at Abigail it did not stop her. She tended the geese and family plot earning coin with her own hands.

Abigail might have felt put out if not for the pleasure of providing for herself. All the while thinking that the dreadful future Reverend Burroughs had spelled out for her after the funeral was disappearing. With each successful endeavor Abigail became more certain that independence suited her and that she did not need to take a husband. She was not just surviving hand to mouth she was thriving, with no time for mournful thoughts.

Abigail had dismissed the town’s importance.

And the town was infuriated.

It happened in an instant. One second, she was harvesting the last of her wheat by the light of a full moon. The next, she was in the commons surrounded by the light glinting off their unyielding stares. It was in their bright eyes that Abigail finally discovered the emotion’s name. Paranoia. But it was too late.

If she was honest she would have admitted it was over long before the end. When they force-fed her the tooth they plucked from her jaw, it was already over. When her joints snapped as she tried so hard to avoid the touch of their hot irons, she was beyond salvation. It wasn’t until they tied her to the sugar maple, and piled the branches filled with flame red leaves around her that finally, wordlessly, she called to me.

But I offered something other than salvation.

Advertisements

There are days when everything exists behind rose colored glass, millions of moments strung together like sunlight. Those are the days that build sanity, but add links to the chains. The pops of color and flashes of light disorient and distract to perfection, creating Polaroid quality slices of life. The truth is stretched and twisted to make the filtered image that’s shared with the world. The reality is back breaking hard work and soul shattering compromise, but it is the half-truths which bind us.

*head nod*

“I’m good, you?”

It didn’t mean anything, the words. It was a thing he said to make people go away, and it never failed to amaze him how well it worked.

The Summons

I challenge you… in the best way possible, to be yourself.

 

I dare you… without fear, to live life with absolute certainty that perfection is an artifact.

 

I defy you… though you may wonder, to meet each twist upon your path with an open mind.

wpid-crooked_path.jpg

The tears tasted clean after the blood. So she resisted the urge the wipe her face or control her sobs. Maybe this was nature’s way. Maybe we cried to heal ourselves, like so much sap running to seal over the gaping wound of a lost branch. She only realized the tears had stoped when she heard her own hiccuped breath breaking the silence. Cringing internally and struggling externally she tried to quiet herself.

“Take your medicine,” he’d said before it started. Maybe he’d known. Maybe he could sense the brokenness inside, and wanted to shore up the weakness one broken bone at a time.

The chill of the concrete floor was all encompassing. Tiny shuddering trimmers ran though her like lightning strikes. She was so cold without the warmth of her tears. Till his prone shape shifted upon the couch, breaking her internal focus. Smallness hadn’t been the answer an hour ago still she felt herself trying to draw inward. All of her went silent. The trembling stoped. Her breathing slowed. Time unwound itself in lazy circles.

His footsteps filled her ears till his hot breath on the curve of her shoulder drove out any other sensation.

“Ready for more?”

The question hit her harder than his hand had, and for a second despair leaked into her soul. Maybe when he pulled her upright something snapped. Maybe he either hadn’t heard or didn’t care, but the residue of his rough hand on her arm had left fire not ice. It surged through her veins causing her to flush and made her breathing ragged.

“That seems like a yes,” he jeered.

She met his eyes for a second before reacting. “It’s a no actually!” She punctuated her words with a sharp knee thrust before running for the door. Her bare feet slapped against the asphalt shredding more with each step. She only slowed down enough to throw herself into the first open door she could find.

She could feel everyone’s eyes on her judging and predatory. Maybe she’d run from the pan to the fire. Maybe it hadn’t been steal that clicked into place when he’d pulled her up to him. She walked as quickly as she could towards the bartender pulling at her clothes wishing she was better protected. His eyes moved in an up then down appraisal before his eyes went dull and cold, the smile gone from his unshaven face.

“I…”

The small bells over the door rang, announcing the newest patron. She didn’t have to look to know what she’d find. Not a single pair of eyes would meet hers, and those looking her way held themselves in postures of disdain not concern. She froze like a deer in headlights as he cracked jokes at her expense while the bartender, an obvious acquaintance, laughed along.

The sound followed her into the night and haunted her every step. Each block she put between herself and the known danger seemed to put her a block closer to the unknown dangers lurking just out of sight. By the time she made it to the police office her feet throbbed in time with each side stabbing breath. Her progress was watched by the unblinking eyes of surveillance cameras and measured in dirty footprints by the age-worn police officer at the front desk. He waited for her to approach his counter never once offering assistance.

“I need to report a crime.”

He scoffed, lifted a phone, and requested assistance. Ignoring her completely he started to fill out paperwork. Each second he refused to acknowledge her and every line he scratched on to the form tore at her resolve. Maybe she was wrong. Maybe tears make you invisible, the salt slowly eroding anything of value till nothing remains.

“Jerry from The Stoop called awhile back,” he said while filling out page two of the form. “How’d you think this would play out? Drinking alone. Dressed like that. People shouldn’t be surprised when they get what they ask for.”

Frustration blazed down her spine. Shame flamed in her heart. Conviction seared through her veins. This time the tears wouldn’t sooth. These tears were gasoline, and she wasn’t going to stop till she burned the whole institution down.

Image as seen on WritersCafe.org

Dear Sirs,

Dear Sirs,

Peggie hit the carriage return bar and cranked the paper up a double space.

I

“Peggie!” The bellow was followed by a quick succession of taps which noticeably increased in speed.

Walking swiftly to the door on her right Peggie smoothed her skirt and cleared her throat as she entered the office “Yes Mr. Goint!”

The tapping stopped, stuttered, and then redoubled its pace. “I have very nearly forgotten you took so long.”

“It’s my lunch Sir, I…”

“That, is neither here nor there. Peggie I need the document. The one we discussed last night. Where have you hidden it?”

“I sent it out this morning Mr. Goint.”

“You what?!?” It was in this moment that Peggie knew she had his attention. His honest-to-God full attention.

“Sir, Mr. Qumonn had said it was of utmost importance that it go out today…”

“Oh is that what’s happened? Tell me would 4 o’clock have been today as well?”

Peggie’s color rose and paled so fast that if you’d have blinked you’d have missed it. “Of course Sir. I will contact the courier and see if it can be diverted back for a later pick up.”

His attention faded as the phone rang leaving Peggie with no more guidance than a dismissive wave.

Back at her desk, and on hold with the currier service Peggie looked over her shoulder at the typewriter. The apple and cola she had packed for lunch sat to the side untouched while her ham sandwich slowly went stale. She looked longingly at the meal before turning her back to it.

I find myself feeling…

“Hey Peg?”

“Yes, Mr. Qumonn.” She swiveled in her seat, arriving face forward hands folded demurely in her lap. “How can I help?”

“I’m looking over Bob’s numbers, and there is no way I’ll be able to send them to the client like that. Can you work your magic for me?”

A bright smile snapped into place. “Anything in particular, Sir?”

He was already taking the five steps necessary to reach his office door, “No Peg, they just need a little hel…” The p was lost to the closing door as Peggie was almost certain Mr. Qumonn hadn’t suggested the numbers needed a little hell.

She scanned the tables in her hand momentarily forgetting the typewriter. The sharp beep in her ear brought everything back.

Yes, the currier was back.

Yes, document could be returned.

Yes, that would cost extra.

Yes, a scheduled picked up could occur at 4pm.

Physically Peggie shrugged as she hung up the phone, mentally she scratched off two items on her to do list. While she waited on the document return Peggie reordered the columns, so that Gross came before Cost with Net rounding off the final page, and highlighted the total values.

Just then the very disgruntled overheated currier appeared and nearly threw the Manila envelope at Peggie before trotting back down the stairs. With little in the way of words both men had their pages in hand and their doors shut. Peggie exhaled deeply chewed off the corner of her sandwich and set her focus to the typewriter.

feeling in…

Buzzing from the left suggested that Mr. Qumonn had finished reviewing the tables. Instead he requested coffee service for an unscheduled meeting in the Boardroom. Peggie set each seat with a brief, a small plate of raspberry linzer cookies, a coffee cup, and a glass of water. When the door burst open filling the room cigarette smoke and baritones, she headed for the exit.

“Fellas, you can thank Peg for the special touch.” Ralph Qumonn had sounded sincere enough to make her stop backing out of the room, but no one so much as glanced in her direction as they shared his laugh. Peggie closed the door with exaggerated care.

Back at her desk, or rather on her chair, was a document so red it could have been bleeding. Peggie counted the pages and did a time check, 30 pages in 95 minutes. It would be close.

The currier came and went for the third time only promising an end of day delivery after pocketing her half dollar. Famished Peggie put the apple in her mouth as she reset her original page.

“Gone.” The statement was followed by a perfunctory cane tap.

Peggie quickly bit the apple letting it drop into her hand. The delay in her response only elicited more taps. “Yes Sir. It cost me 50 cents, but it’ll be there before end of day Mr. Goint.”

“Done at last then.” David Goint’s words echoed slightly as he made his way down the stairs flattening them out till no trace of tone could be discerned.

She shook her head.

inte

“We’re through Peg.”

No response necessary. Peggie cleared the table straightened the chairs and called for housekeeping. Finally settled back at her desk in the now empty office.

She typed for only an instant before popping open the cola and taking a long pull. Peggie read and reread what she had typed while she finished the soda. Page in hand she stretched luxuriously, and cleared away the rest of her uneaten lunch. She set the loose leaf on her desk, and weighted it down with her cola can.

Dear Sirs,

I find myself feeling interrupted.

She hit the lights, walked to the stairs, and never looked back.

Damn.

Painting by Kimber Mallett

I will not scream. I will not scream. I will not scream. I will not scream. I will not scream. I will not scream. I will not scream. I will not scream. I will not scream. I. Will. Not. Scream.

It was so quiet I could hear a shuddering breath being drawn. A hundred eyes stared, filled with a multitude of variations on worried surprise and gleeful disgust.

Damn. It hadn’t worked.

I’m tired.

I’m succeeding.

I’m only half awake.

I’ll try harder.

I’ll be overwhelmed.

I’ll take it in stride.

I’ve exceeded expectations.

I’ve failed.

I’ve been my own worst enemy.

I’d fake it.

I’d grow.

I’d be found out.

Non-adult

I don’t feel 35.

I don’t live in my own house. I’m not married. I don’t have any kids. I’m none of the things my mother was at 35.

I still wear my nerdy T-shirts, and I like dying my hair vivid colors. I hold down a full time job with benefits. I pay taxes. I have bought and sold a house. I’m currently paying down my last credit card and a mountain of student loans… which feels adult as fuck.

I don’t think anyone could question my adult status, but some how I still feel like an imposter. Could I be called out for not succeeding at life because I haven’t met my mother’s milestones… but what if my mom hadn’t felt obligated to start a family at 22? Would she have gone to school? Would she have worn concert tees instead of sensible shoes, or splurged on decadent brunch?

Perhaps it’s not that I am in suspended animation, as is often said of millennials. Instead, maybe this deliberate stroll into adulthood makes sense. It could be that stretching the milestone out rather than compressing them into the first 5 years after high school is a good thing. I’m not ashamed to say I have learned from the journeys of my mother and grandmothers, which I will not call mistakes.

I’m not sure if it’s the lines around my eyes or the exhaustion in my bones that make me an adult now. I am, however, pretty sure it’s not the years. Experience and maturity seem better markers than the calendar. This is my life, I am making my choices without kowtowing to the conventions of past generations, and I’m perfectly happy to be a 35-year old non-adult.

Who has the time

The slant of the light through the trees turned the hazy springtime air to gold. Everywhere you looked branches covered with new growth obscured what must have been a take-your-breath-away blue sky. The birds, which had fallen silent when I stumbled into their abode, sang sweetly. A pleasant counterpoint to my ragged breathing and pounding heart. I could get use to this I thought, as the picturesque lines blurred, but who has the time.

%d bloggers like this: