Tag Archive: loss


So I’m an old fashioned book reader. To me this means that I love the tactile component of reading an honest to goodness paper and ink book. That being said I will on occasion read digitally, to try out new authors mostly, but what I am here to tell you today is that I believe some books are even better as digital copies. For instance Emotional Rescue: Essays on Love, Loss, and Life – with a soundtrack by Ben Greenman. This book was on the editors pick list (Amazon) and after reading the title I pondered for less than a minute before I started downloading. They were right, it is every bit as good as the title suggests and then some.

For those of you who stoped at the word essays I urge you to keep reading because they don’t feel like the writing assignments you might recal from undergrad they feel like internal dialogue. Let me explain. Mr. Greenman uses essays to have the liberty to jump topics between chapters which you cannot do, or rather it would be very difficult to do, in a typical story format. As such we can go from talking about pain/pleasure to sense/nonsense to distance/nearness. What is great about the essay format other than the wide array of topics that become available is that is has the feel of listening to the radio. As if, for instance, you are cruising down the highway rocking out and feeling happy and alive then all of a sudden the station plays a ballad and you remember your junior prom date. It was done to such a tremendous effect too. 

Let me also state outright that I love Mr. Greenman’s narrative voice. It felt very comfortable almost as if he was posing the questions he answers directly to me. I do honestly believe he has the large pool of friends who just call to talk that his essays suggest, and who could blame them as his perspective it quite interesting.

Now although I loved the book and I have already been recommending  it to anyone who will listen I’m not sure I would love it as a paperback. With my digital copy I highlighted amazing points that he makes regularly through out the entire narrative. I could also immediately look up songs which I had never heard or needed to hear again. The magic of technology allowed me to listen to the soundtrack of Mr. Greenman’s life while I read about the highlights. Which *gasp* fulfilled my need for multi sensory reading. As such a traditional book read of these essays would have been a completely different experience.

Should you still not be sold on this book please allow me just two more points. First, while Emotional Rescue is a far cry from the typical linear story telling most of us readers have come to love and expect by the end it came to an actual end. By which I mean that at the end all of the story telling (including the hard left turns) makes sense and even comes to a nicely tied up conclusion like a well constructed stand up comedy skit. The second point is perhaps more of a me point but I cannot help myself. In my mind this story would make an amazing musical… There I said it! I can completely picture it and I hope that someone else can too because this is a book I don’t just want to read it’s a book I want to experience!

I’m not saying that all the answers to the questions of restlessness, energy, intensity, and comfort—how long to hold a job, how long to keep a lover, how long to stay in one place before hopping on a train or a plane or into a balloon—reside in two minutes of a never-released song recorded by a virtually unknown novelty singer. But I’m not saying that they’re not.     -Ben Greenman

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Emile stared out into the predawn fog listening for the soft sounds of the harbor.  He was searching for comfort in the lapping of water on stone, the creak of sun bleached hempen rope, or the call of river birds.  Though, if it was out there Emile was deaf to it.  Having spent the last week as a guest of the city in a dank cell, which smelled of a mildewy straw mattress and an overfull slop bucket and boasted an unobstructed view of the gallows, Emile should have been overjoyed.  However, his freedom came with the bitter taste of ashes.  He had been out of the Calabozo for less than 12 hours, and was more than halfway through the bottle of black tar rum, but he still couldn’t rid himself of that taste of loss and defeat. 

It had taken only one of those 12 hours to find out that his love, Lisette, had been whisked off to Paris by her disapproving father.  Monsieur LePomeret had ensured Emile’s devastation by booking Lisette passage on the steamer which left with the morning tide just hours before his release. He had spent an additional hour wondering aimlessly among the crowded streets of New Orleans till he found himself once more on Pirate Alley. Foregoing the more upstanding taverns Emile searched the shadowy fenced goods looking for the “good stuff”. He wasn’t disappointed, though after his transaction with the salt crusted gentleman his pockets were considerably lighter. Not that a little thing like that bothered Emile. After all, Lisette was gone; there would be no home to save for, bride price to provide, or children to feed. In the square he uncorked the amber bottle gave it a slight sniff then gulped.

The black tar rum was as thick and tacky as the name suggested, and…it burned. After the first drink Emile could feel a tingle on his lips and in his tongue, but with drink seven came numbness. Blessed numbness. By the time he had finished off better than a third of the rust colored rum the poppy seed syrup had taken effect. Emile stumbled from his holy alcove upon the St. Louis’ fine steps and made his uneven way to the harbor pausing often to take a drink, rant at the night, or freeze in place as if forgetting either the how or the why. Finally, he found himself on a small boardwalk. Emile took one final drink as he looked out on the misty Mississippi, and for a second he could hear Lisette’s sweet voice on the wind. In the drunken fog of his liquid courage he ran to her, his love had not abandoned him. As Emile slipped below the water’s surface her name was on his lips as blessed numbness crept back in.

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New Orleans spirit orb photo

I took this photograph in New Orleans earlier this year. While snapping photos of the water and a passing steamer I didn’t notice anything unusual, just a chilly wind off the water due to the morning rain. However, when I got home and uploaded my pictures I saw the orb. It was just above the boardwalk and appeared to be moving against the wind. Was this a spirit ill at ease with its demise? I can never know, but if it was perhaps Emile’s story will give it peace.

Wishing

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The Trevi Fountain, St. Peter's Square All rights to owner

She closed her eyes tight, and held her breath. In her mind’s eye Lexi saw the hand in hand strolls, the reddish-orange of sunrise over the rim of demitasses, and the tiny champagne bubbles just after a wedding toast. A wet plunk called her from her memories. Lexi turned and looked for the coin she had just tossed into the fountain blinking away her tears. If only we had tossed the last one in together, she thought, maybe Tim would be here too. Lexi never saw, but as the sun sparkled on the water a heads up silver dollar flashed…and for a second he was.

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This piece of flash fiction is based off a prompt on 100 word challenge for adults. Follow the link for the prompt and guidelines.

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Loosing you

So this is April, Rory thought, as a sticky sweet wind swept past her causing the nearby blossom laden branch to creak. The sound made her smile. It was nice to hear something other than the slap of her Keds against the concrete sidewalk as Rory made her way to the clearing. Genius, she thought to herself as a low rumble of thunder added its voice to the night. The building storm clouds off to the west had kicked the barometer so high that unshed droplets of dew clung to Rory like a cloying perfume when she paused at each street crossing.

The second her feet hit grass Rory felt it. The strength of solid mother terra beneath her always caused a near instantaneous release. As if the stress of the last few weeks could be sloughed off. What a perfect analogy, she thought, if only Rory could slip her protective layer of dead emotion like a snake from its skin. That naive thought, however, was overly hopeful, and suggested that beneath the pain she was whole and refreshed. Rory knew the truth was much more likely that if she let her protective shell fall away it would only leave her feeling raw and vulnerable.

In the clearing Rory stepped out of her shoes, spread her arms wide, and threw her head back. The light of the full moon filled her eyes, but Rory dared not blink. Somewhere out there is the answer, she told herself as she searched the cosmos. No star shot across the sky in true omen fashion nor did universal understanding wash over her. All Rory felt, before the rain started, was the gentle kiss of darkness against her bare arms and outstretched fingers, but as she stood there in the soaking rain it happened, so organically that she never even registered a conscious thought. The lump in her throat she couldn’t swallow, the hardness in her heart that pained so deep, the jagged shard of her soul that refused to fit flat left in one searing tear that was lost to the falling rain. Rory let the downpour scour her clean as the realization dawned on her; it wasn’t the loss of you that hurt so bad it was loosing the piece of herself that couldn’t be without you which stung.

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All rights to owner

 

 

 

My heart pounds, an uneven staccato that reverberates though me.  “Hey,” I say like it doesn’t matter, trying to hide so much beneath so little.  Do you hear what I’ve hidden?  Do my questions thunder around your ears just like they boom in my mind?  Pointless, the questions chase each other’s tails till they become nonsense, as my little word goes unheeded.  You never make eye contact or acknowledge my presence much less my greeting.  The moment passes.  Still my heart rages and now… my hands shake. 

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It was nearly time.

The sun was setting in that beautiful way it could, where one gorgeous color melts into the next.  Not a sudden change from blue to black, like when the storms roll through, but rather like a ripening fruit.  The blue sky holds a yellow orb, which matures throughout the day, its skin turning orange and casting the sky pink, and then finally so ripe and red it falls from the sky bruising it in purples that tend toward midnight blue.  He couldn’t have asked for a better backdrop, Lawrence thought to himself.  He took a moment and closed his eyes letting the warmth of the sun hit his face, the light sear red even through his eyelids, and the gentle winds brush against his neck.  He sighed contentedly, sometimes things just felt right.

Opening his eyes and shading them with his right hand Lawrence watched a small pond glitter in the fading light.  An empty boat rocked against a bank of cattails just begging for a picnic, but alas today no one had headed that call.  He turned slightly to his right where a weather beaten clapboard house sagged as if it too carried the weight of being a holdout farmer.  The rows of corn waved young and green behind the structure, but no happy hardworking couple populated the covered porch or ancient rocking chairs.  One final quarter turn to his right brought Lawrence to the park. 

Cedar-Rose was no Central Park boasting exotic animals or boathouse diners.  It was just a park.  It had a few baseball diamonds, empty on this weekday evening, numerous swing sets dotting it’s rolling fields, and a fishing pond complete with wooden foot bridge.  From his hill Lawrence could see most of the park.  A man dozed at the edge of the pond waiting for a fish to bite, a family complete with laughing children and yapping dog made their way from a playground, already in covered in long shadows, toward a minivan, and a woman sat on a bench beneath a majestic oak tree. 

The slanting light of the sun at his back seemed to highlight her every feature.  She sat watching the sunset with a pair of the bluest eyes Lawrence had ever seen trying desperately to ignore the lose strands of amber colored hair which had escaped her ponytail.  Her posture suggested that she was tense, perhaps from a long day at work.  He smiled to himself as he contemplated her sitting at some interior windowless cubical counting the minutes till she could escape to the park where she would bask in the simple joy of nature. 

He loved her instantly.

Just then a strong wind blew the whole mess of her hair into her face, and once she readjusted herself Lawrence knew she had caught him staring.  It was like she were right before him then.  As if with each breath more distance fell away.  She leaned in closing the final gap.  He felt the tears in his eyes, but he didn’t dare to brush them aside.  Her eyes were wide and thoughtful, her shoulders strong, her heart open, and in that sliver of a moment she knew him.

Completely.

His hands, which had been searching while his mind wandered, hit pay dirt.  The cold sting of bare metal touched him to the core.  He had found what he had come for, and now it was time.  Lawrence never paused, in case his resolve failed him. 

The motion was swift. 

The metal, cold, where it had touched his skin quickly turned into a line of molten heat.

The knife might have flashed silver in the light but he would never know, because he wanted nothing more than to hold on to that moment to her.  Because in her eyes Lawrence had found truth…an honest giving of one’s own self to another.

His eyes never left hers, not even when he hit his knees, or when the multihued evening went black…when everything else was gone Lawrence still had his sliver of a moment and that was enough.

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These stories were my interpretation of a moment shared between to strangers.  Specifically because the man, Lawrence was looking for someone to share this moment with.  They never knew each other, but they will be forever connected now.  The idea was what if someone wanted you to see something, to show you something, share some event with you without your consent.  I hope you enjoyed it!

Part 1 link.

Let Him Go

The rose coloring was coming off her memories, flaking away bit by bit, as the words truly sunk in.  He was getting married.  Married in the house that had been their home, married to one of the many he had cheated with, married to really wash the stink of his first failed family from his life.  The hard part was knowing that he would never understand, could never understand, why this hurt so much.  Jack was a disappointment, the kind of let down that can tare you up and leave you broken because of how fiercely you needed to believe in him and wanted him to love you.  It was time for Maggie to let him go.  He had taken everything, with meticulous detail, leaving only the tear stained memories for her to hold him in, and now he had tainted even those.

100 Word Challenge for Grown Ups – Week#76

….beneath the surface…

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The link will be open until 11th February and rules are 100 word limit plus the three word phrase.  Best of luck!

A Box of Possibility

Paul sighed deeply and let his head fall back.  The sun kissed his eyelids and the wind whispered in his ear until his arms burned from holding up the wooden chest. 

He blinked the dots from his vision and sat down on the rickety porch swing.  His fingers traced the words hidden beneath the surface layer of dust, Together Forever. 

Paul’s laugh held no joy, the words had been a lie, a cruel trick, an empty promise. 

He had lost Dani, and his only consolation was a box filled with the moments when they had been together and forever had seemed a possibility.

The door swung loosely on its hinges causing an odd disjointed mix of sounds which ranged from high whining screeches to low rusty sawing.  No way this could be the right address Henry thought pulling the crumpled scrap of paper from his pocket, but it was and he knew it.  The words were the same as the last ten times he had read them, not that he needed to read them any more.  Some things you can’t un-see and some words could haunt you forever.  Henry knew this note as unassuming as it was was one of those.  He pushed it back into his pocket and crossed the road, pausing to look both ways twice extending the time it would take to walk the short distance.  In the puddle which lay to the side of the point where the road met the broken walkway Henry glimpsed his reflection.  His eyes looked black not blue in the murky water and the trees stood like ominous shadows at his back.  Unconsciously his hand moved back to the wad of paper as his eyes raked the street.  The only sound was the door, but the air seemed heavy with something.  Perhaps a storm he thought trying to give reason to the chill he could not shake, as he rubbed the arm which ended with the note.  He sighed and shook his head.  Henry moved forward but only just, each step took ages as if it was filled with an infinite number of half step which would never lead to the final goal.  The sky was now on the dark side of dusk where every thing looks like it was dipped in ink, blackened and runny, but the crumbling concrete stairs which were so much lighter in color than everything else they appeared to emit their own self contained light.  The dilapidated porch sagged and groaned as Henry gained his footing.  Reaching out to stop the sway of the door he sees the tremble running down his arm.  Again Henry digs out the note holding it above him as if trying to catch enough light to read it, but when he should have lifted his head to look instead he opens his hand.  Wind from nowhere picks up and the door slams open with a crack.  His head pops up a single tear glistening on his cheek, Henry walks forward as he barely nods his head never once glancing back.  The only sound is the soft plunk of the note hitting the puddle.  The ink smears as the water swallows its prize…your time is all she reads as she walks past the pot of boiling water towards the ringing phone, she shakes her head and thinks just wait till I tell Hank the pasta’s sending me messages.

Ashes

They tell us everything will be alright, but they lie.

Nothing is ever really alright, happy endings only occur prior to reality’s home landing.  On the cloudy days we see necessity in rain and the promise of sunny tomorrows, but perhaps we are merely being overly hopeful.  It could be that those hard times are nothing but the calm before the storm.

To those who spout it can only get betters and fate, I dare you to really take a look at these hallow words.  For shame on you.

Perhaps, you can not see it, but I am trying.  So, stop binding me and blinding me with your lies I need them not, and it hurts all the more when your string of silken words fall flat and tater into ashes. 

In this loss I see your chance, fight free of that which held you down and strive not for perfection rather for perfect truth.  For your eyes have been opened yet again to pain the blinders torn free; disillusionment vanished into so much thin air.  Like the mist of a distant falls drying upon the dawn.

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