Poems, Short Stories, Drabbles

I Saw You Today...
August 12th, 2009

I saw you today. I was going to come and say hi, but you were with them, so I didn't.
You didn't see me, of course. But then, I didn't expect you to. I only wished you would come around.
We used to be such good friends, you and I. We went to sleepovers and talked about everything under the sun; we went to the mall and picked out ugly outfits while our moms shopped and made each other wear them; we turned up rock music really loud and sang our lungs out in the car.
Then you met them.
Now you never call because you're out buying skinny jeans with them. I bet you don't remember that I don't like skinny jeans.
Now every time I'm with you, which isn't very often, you talk about them. My eyes glaze over and my ears block out the noise of your voice. I try to listen, but I'm too busy feeling sorry for myself.
I feel like a third wheel. The one who's too quiet to assert herself and be heard. The one that just wants people to be happy and doesn't want to impose by getting in the way.
I feel like the one who always gets left behind.
Why can't there be three wheels? I've wondered. Why can't we be a tricycle, not a bike?
But immediately I know the answer.
Tricycles aren't cool. Sure, they're okay when you're little, but as you grow older, one of the wheels has to go.
And I suppose that wheel will always be me.
I find myself wishing that they could pop; that they could run over a nail and the spare would have to replace them. Then I could be your friend again.
But then I shake my head. I don't really want anything bad to happen to them. It would hurt you, and you still would wish you could be with them. You would be with me in one sense... but not the other.
I sigh and put my head in my hands. I so wish I could just be happy for you, but I can't while I hold on to such an overwhelming jealousy.
Jealousy. It's such an ugly word, but it's all I feel. I'm jealous for the attention, for your laughter, for the spotlight. I wish I could be free; let go of the jealousy, be genuinely happy for you. But I don't know how.
So I sit, watching you laugh. I keep inviting you over on the weekends and getting declined. I keep wishing I was in their place, and I start to turn bitter. Time passes, and I hold onto my anger. Never crying, never saying anything, I just stew. I give you snapping comments when you mention what happened when you were at their house.
I hold all of the pain and the anger inside, and I drive you away. Slowly, gradually, unwittingly.
Before I know it, I'm all alone.
Completely, entirely alone.
Alone.
And then I wonder, will I always be alone?
I don't know the answer, so I just sit, alone, and wonder what happened.
And finally, the tears come.
But by then, it's too late.



(no title as of yet)
November 15th, 2009

Once upon a time, there were two young maidens. They met when they were very young; one was a bit older than the other, but that didn’t matter to them. They were the best of friends. The older one was the leader, showing the younger how to climb a tree, how to whistle, how to match colors perfectly. The younger was the follower, who was always by her friend’s side and went wherever she went and did exactly what she did. They loved each other with a strong, sisterly love, and no one could come between them.
As the girls grew older, they grew closer. Every weekend, the one would ask her mother if the other could come to visit, and many a summer night was spent sleepless and full of giggles. The girls did everything together. They went to the store, to the movies, to the park, to the museum. They talked about their friends; about clothes; about anything that came to mind. They became so hyper they couldn’t make any sense if they tried, and they made each other laugh until they couldn’t breathe. They could be doing anything, as long as they were together. At one point, they were seeing each other almost every day.
Then, something changed. They stopped seeing each other every day. They were no longer allowed to sleep at the other’s house. The girls were devastated, but swore to continue to be the best of friends.
As the girls aged, the older went to high school, and the younger soon followed. They met new people, but somehow they felt that no one could replace their friendship. However, time has a way of changing things, and they began to change. They stopped calling so much. They emailed occasionally, but the messages seemed impersonal and hard. You can’t communicate a warm voice with a smile and a wink through the internet as well as in person.
So, unwittingly, they began to drift apart. One day, looking out of her window, the younger one paused. She realized how long it had been since she spoke to her friend, and she wondered what happened. They hadn’t spoken in over a week. They hadn’t seen each other in over a month. They hadn’t had a sleepover in over a year. Her friend was going to be an adult soon, and then she would be off to college and after that... who knew?
Now, whenever they saw each other, their conversation was the tiniest degree awkward, like talking to someone you met a long time ago and moved away from. The younger’s heart ached for things to be the same as they once were, but she didn’t know how to turn back the tide of time. So, for her best friend’s eighteenth birthday, she wrote out the story of their friendship. She wanted to include a quote she read that described the situation perfectly, but it was a bit cliché and not very smart sounding. Then she smiled and wondered why she tried to sound smart sounding in the first place.


“Friends are like balloons. Once you let go, you may never be able to get them back.”



Don’t let go.



Whitewashed Tombs
December 2009

Her friends say she’s perfect
She might agree
Laughingly
But what they don’t know is
When she goes home
How she struggles
Endlessly
She wants to end it all
But she’s too afraid
To pick up the knife (or the advil)
And quit once and for all
But slowly she’s gaining
The courage as things get
More out of whack
What will happen to her friends
When they get the call
Their friend is gone
By her own hands?

It’s okay, don’t give up
We’ve all been there, we know it’s tough
Try to hold on, keep looking up
God is always near
To you

He knows he’s not perfect
His friends tell him so
He laughs along
To hide the pain.
Each day he goes home
And fingers the gun-case
Things aren’t going right
His house falls apart
He’s tried several times
But doesn’t have the heart
But one day, he’ll go home
And get out the gun
And BAM
Now what about his
Brother and sister
Who needed him
That Friday night?

It’s okay, don’t give up
We’ve all been there, we know it’s tough
Try to hold on, keep looking up
God is always near
To you

Sometimes the rainbow is just hidden by the clouds. Don’t give up!





Virtual Earplugs
December 2009

Sitting in a corner
I watch them contend
Not believing others
They have it in their heads
No one is as ugly as them.
Sick of their reasoning
I roll my eyes and sigh
Why can’t people see
What’s right before their eyes?

I’m not going to tell you you’re beautiful
I’m not going to tell you you’ve got it all
I’m not going to tell you you’re perfect just the way you are (even though it’s the truth)
Cuz you’re not listening to me

“You’re prettier than me,” she says
“man, you’ve got it all
The hair, the eyes,
The smile- how I wish that
You were me
And I were you; how things
Would be different,
If only...”
Little does she know
She’s saying the other’s thoughts
Out loud
Why can’t we see and just be
Content?

I’m not going to tell you you’re beautiful
I’m not going to tell you you’ve got it all
I’m not going to tell you you’re perfect just the way you are (even though it’s the truth)
You have to realize it yourself





Anorexia
December 2009

I don’t know what to do anymore
I’ve got everyone fooled
But You and me
I heap up my plate
Full of You and Your words
I push it around, make
It look like we’re great
But we’re the only ones who know
I’m anorexic
I walk the walk and talk the talk
But I’m dying inside
Everyone thinks I’m perfect
But we know it isn’t true
Me and You
This façade of control
Is quickly fading
As I realize I’m enslaved
I wish for change
They say to trust You
But I’m at a loss
It’s to where I can’t stand a morsel
Of Your touch
I’m sickened when it’s revealed what I’ve become
A two-faced faker that no one sees
I go to church and
I know what to say
But I want to scream
That I’m dying inside
I keep up my face
Not showing my pain
I’ve fallen so far
Isolated but surrounded
And I don’t know how I got here
I want to be free
But it feels like You’re not listening
I’m so confused
Faith replaced by self-pity
It isn’t supposed to happen this way
And something’s got to change
But I just don’t know
And the pain is so
Overbearing
Controlling
I can hardly go on
I’ve lost all hope
And I can’t stand to hear You
I’m anorexic
We call you Deliverer
Can You deliver me from myself?
Please, won’t You deliver me from myself?





Christmas
December 17th, 2009

Christmas is a bright light
On a distant shore. A
Taste of things to come
That will be forevermore.

Christmas is a feeling
That radi’tes in the night. A
Breath of air, companions shared,
Oh what a glorious sight!

Christmas is a Savior
Born one chilly eve,
To bring hope to beggars
Of a plan supernat’r’lly conceived.

Christmas is a taste of heaven
While yet still on earth
So come,
And share,
And just you dare to calculate its worth



Incomprehensible
January 2nd, 2010

Sickeningly bright
I watch you
Coat layer over layer
I can hardly understand you
Sickeningly sweet
Bitter, lovely,
And yet so vicious
It’s all so good
But I can hear my
Brain cells going kamikaze
As I’m in your presence
Sickeningly talented
How can you be so shallow
And yet so deep?
How can you be so real
And so 2D?
Your presence is invigorating
And horrifying
So beautiful
And so deadly
I know what you’re doing
And still we go on
If it were anything more serious,
I think I’d be scared.
But it’s all innocence
And destroying my brain
So I stay
And breath in the air
And sigh in the mist
The confusing aroma
Of the enamel
Drying
On
Your nails





Marys and Joes
January 3rd, 2010

Okay, so I’ll admit it
All those love songs about you are real sweet
All those songs about you and all the heat
That you cast when you enter a room
But I have a question
If I may but raise my hand
What about us average Joes
And Mary Sues
Do you forget you used to be like us, like you?
But I guess it’s how the story goes
You forget the Marys and Joes
And while you’re listening to love songs
We’re feeling alone

So this is a love song
To the Marys and the Joes
Don’t forget that you are special too
There’s someone in pursuit of you
Even though you are not famous
Even though there’s just one song
We love you
And you are special too

You say we can’t hold a candle to her
But I think you’re afraid
She would be blinded
By the colorful display
Cuz everyone is different
Both beautiful and sweet
It isn’t fair
For you to dare
To tell us we don’t measure up
To the next celebrity

So this is a love song
To the Marys and the Joes
Don’t forget you’re beautiful
There’s someone in pursuit of you
Even though you are not famous
Even though there’s just one song
We love you
And you are special too





Waiting for the Impossible
January 5th, 2010

The human mind is such a crazy thing
We convince ourselves of the impossible
And sit around waiting for it to come true
I guess it’s too bad my only impossibility is you

Prince Charming
I’m waiting
I have been for quite a while
Prince Charming
Please hurry
Because I’m starting to lose faith
In you

I’ve built you up in my mind so long
And now I’m worried you won’t be
All I want you to be
And in the deep part of my soul
I know my prince isn’t really you
But I keep hoping
And waiting
Hoping and waiting for the impossible
For you

Prince Charming
I’m waiting
I have been for quite a while
Prince Charming
Please hurry
Because I’m starting to lose faith
In you

So when my prince really does come
Will he be like you?
Or will I be let down
And keep waiting for my dream come true
And keep waiting for you?
So maybe I’m not ready
I need to get you out of my mind
Because love you have to work for
And princes aren’t so perfect
They don’t have some assembly required
I’ll just keep on praying
That he’ll be praying too
Because I know
Prince Charming
 Isn’t
You

Prince Charming
I’m waiting
I have been for quite a while
Prince Charming
Don’t hurry
Because I have a long way to go before
I’m good enough
For you



I Love You
January 5th, 2010

So I was sitting here one day
Trying to come up with something to say
To tell you how much you mean to me.
It's a terribly dreadful case, you see;
The words get mixed up in a muddle
And I’m left with a rather large puddle
Of failed attempts to play
Your heartstrings the best that I may
So throwing all care to the wind
I’ve made up my mind;
I’ll say it the best way I can:
I love you.

The End.



Untitled entity dedicated to all of those who have had someone blow up at them when they didn’t deserve it and didn’t say anything
January 11th, 2010

This relationship stuff
Is such a pain
I try so hard but sound inhumane
I’m looking for the ‘pause’ switch
On the soundboard of Life
All these flashy lights
And nobs and buttons
Where’s the crazy lever
Because I think I’m going insane

So if I start to yell just plug your ears
And when I start to scream
Just ignore me (please)
Like you do to
Each good thing I do-
Oh my gosh there I go again
So if I get mad
Just roll your eyes
Because if I take it out on you
I’ll be sorry soon
And please don’t ever forget
I’m mad at me not you
I’m mad at me not you

I really should be thankful
Cuz you’re the last one to let go
And no matter what happens
You’re still by my side
You’re the last one on earth
Still standing by me
But as things get tough
Yours is the head I take off
I better stop this before I lose you too
But as things get crazy
My core temperature is rising
The heat is so blinding
And desensitizing
Someone hose me off before I blow up again

So if I get mad
Just close your eyes
Please block me out
Because I don’t try
To take it out on you
And I’ll be sorry soon
So please don’t ever forget
I’m mad at me not you
I’m mad at me not you

I gotta say,
You’re the epitome of forgiveness
And like it or not
I love you to death
Because I know you’ll never leave
So ignore my angry outbursts
Because you’re the best
Of the best
Of the best





Macaroni and Cheese
OR
Me and You
January 13th, 2010

Me and you, we’re a tag team
Lost by ourselves, but together we’re the bomb
You’re my other half
We have entire conversations over someone else’s head
And they’re left confused; not a single word was said
We’re the fair and the midway
The PB&J
Take us away
And it isn’t the same
We’re the crash and the bang
The wind and the rain
Take us apart
And we’ll go insane
The thunder and lightning
aren’t so frightening
when I’m with you
(You know it, too)
And when the going gets tough
You know I’ll be going
To grab my sword and steed
And help with whatever you need
I’ve got your back, you’ve got mine
You say jump and I know how high
I’m the freeway, you’re the car
I say go, you know how far
Trees planted close, we’ve grown together
You and me, we’re birds of a feather
I feel down when you’re under the weather
I think if I
Were a guy
I’d have to marry you
We’re the sugar and the cream
The sleep and the dream
We’re the sun and the moon
The music and the tune
The stars and the sky
The cherries and the pie
The leopard and the spots
The story and the plot
We’re the war and the battle
The water and the bottle
The spring and the summer
The guitarist and the drummer
We’re the hero and the sword
The asylum and its wards
The wheels on a bike
The burger and the fries
The ice cream and the cake
The mix and easy-bake
The clogs and the Dutch
Take us apart and you ain’t got much
We’re the Macaroni and the cheese
And it’s plain to see
That we were meant to be


A Puddle of Cyberpunk about Loneliness and Love
January 26th, 2010

Looking up, she glanced out of the window. The lights reflected on the dark glass brightly, displaying the collage of pods and hover-cars racing by. She let her fingers rest gingerly on the cool, reflecting glass as it formed half-moons of condensation below her fingertips. Her long chrome nails mirrored the window, but the pink eyes of the girl weren’t focused on them.
A shiver went up her bare arm as she watched the midnight traffic. The world she lived in was so fast, intense. She felt detached from it, as if time had forgotten her. She wondered if he was inside of one of the sleek machines zooming past. There was no way to be sure, though.
Her fingers slid down the glass as she let out a long breath. Didn’t he know how much she missed him? She felt like half of a person when he wasn’t close. She let her gaze fall, and it caught on the courtyard beneath her. The low lights glowed softly between the stones, imitating the stars that had once been overhead.
In her mind, she envisioned him walking slowly across the swirling design on the pavement. The gentle glow would refract on his midnight blue hair, giving it a metallic sheen. She watched him look up, his vivid blue eyes stopping on her window. He knew where it was, even though the windows were impossible to see through.
A strand of sleek magenta hair fell into her face, and her eyes darted to it before looking down at the courtyard again. She blinked as he disappeared into the night, and she sighed. Where are you, darling? She inquired, setting her nails against the darkened glass where he had been two nights ago. Don’t you know I’m waiting?
Sighing, she looked back down and a sparkling tear slid down her cheek. It fell slowly, landing like a diamond on the metal table. It twinkled at her, shining with the lights outside of her apartment.
The portal behind her opened, creating a wide and oblong fan of light shining around her. She didn’t look up, however, and a silent servant hovered in. She pulled her hands together under her chin and looked up, out of the window.
The door closed, leaving her in darkness once again. Fog had begun to settle high in the sky, the tallest buildings piercing the curtain coolly. A few clouds rolled by below it, the headlights of air-ships and automobiles illuminating the bottoms as they followed in their crowded paths. Only time would bring him back to her. And until then, she would wait.
She let two of her fingernails click against the black frame of the window. The sound didn’t reach her ears as she contemplated the scenery. The lights danced across the windows of the skyscrapers in the metropolis, glancing off of the obsidian surface sharply. So many things displayed in the space beneath her apartment; the hard and the soft, the harsh and the cool, the sleek and the rough- a collage of the best, the finest. She watched the courtyard as an electronic maid swept a cigarette butt into her hand and incinerated it in a small laser chamber between her fingers. Is this life? She asked no one in particular. Is this all there is? Only one thing is gone from it, and I’m questioning if it is still worth living?
A smooth black hover-car caught her gaze as it flew up and paused by the edge of the courtyard. The side panel slid open, and a lean figure emerged, in a suit and tie, holding a briefcase. The man glanced up, and then grinned, his white teeth visible in the dark night, as he said something to the driver. A coin glinted in the night as he flicked it into the ship, and the panel slid closed.
As he stepped into the light, he looked up, directly at her window. Her breath caught as the subtle light refracted off of his hair, turning it a burnished blue. His stunningly bright blue eyes looked directly into hers, and she stood hastily. The platform she had been sitting on bumped into her legs and floated away from her, spinning slowly, as she fled to the courtyard to welcome her beloved home.


Exasperated Reply to Those Who Mock
January 28th, 2010

We all have a child in us somewhere.  There’s something in all of us that craves acceptance.  No matter how silly or absurd one might see things, they still want to be embraced and loved.  My child is here- I have a dream that I’ll be able to marry someone who doesn’t exist.
He doesn’t exist. That’s what you keep telling me, like I don’t already know this.  I know he doesn’t exist, but I want to believe it, the same as a child wants to believe that her dad will come home, or one day she’ll go to the moon, and that she’ll have a crown and a kingdom to rule.  This is my dream, my inner child, my frivolous fantasy that harms no one.
And yet you attack.  Why must you trample it so?  Let me and my silly dreams be; I would never attack yours, unwittingly or otherwise.  My impossibilities are dreams I hold on to; don’t try to take them away.  My dreams are my other reality, my escape.  Let them be!
Is it so much to refrain from that one biting comment insulting my intelligence? Why don’t you see that when you touch my dream, you’re touching my heart?  Must you assail it so viscously? I know it is foolish, silly, impossible, even idiotic to wish for such a thing.  I don’t care.
If I could meet someone who could accept me fully, with my silly dreams and wishes, with my crazy and impractical dreams, oh how I would embrace that person!  Are you so blind not to see that every time you roll your eyes, or laugh in your belittling way, or tell me just what you think of my childish wish, I force you farther and farther away from my heart?  If I cannot trust you with my ‘stupid’ and unfeasible dreams, whyever would I trust you with anything else?
Why can’t you just accept them?  They are harmless and pitiful.  We both know they are impossible, and yet you remind me, over and over, and then you wonder why I don’t tell you any of my secret thoughts.  How can I, when you failed to be true before?
You’re making this harder than it could be, with your insulting retorts and demeaning looks.  You’re blocking yourself out, building a wall I never have any intentions of tearing down.
If you would just accept me, and my dreams, and hopes and wishes and fantasies and quirks, you would gain a friendship that you never could have imagined.
But go on, keep building your unscalable wall.  I’ll go and find someone else to accept me.  It’s not my loss, anyway.



Compassion
February 3rd, 2010

“Mom!”  I yelled, grabbing the keys.  “I’m going to Brian’s house to work on homework!”
I quickly escaped and pulled Dad’s car out of the driveway.  She didn’t tell me to take the minivan, I reasoned, enjoying the smooth ride of the Mustang beneath me.  And I am going to Brian’s house... to pick him up.  Only the homework part wasn’t true- I was going to a party.

Several hours later, we were leaving Trisha’s house.  My arm around her, she leaned in to kiss me goodnight.  I could taste the alcohol thick on her breath, and no doubt she could taste it on mine, too.  She looked up at me, brown eyes big under her dark lashes, and asked sweetly, “Couldn’t you stay just a little bit longer?”
Grinning, I shook my head.  If I stayed any longer, we both knew I’d end up staying the night, and my parents would know I wasn’t at Brian’s house at all.  I had to get home tonight.
“Fine,” she pouted, turning and flouncing to her door. She turned back and stuck her tongue out at me, the stud in it glinting in the glow of her porch light.
I just blew her a kiss and opened my door.  Sliding into my dad’s car, I glanced at the passenger’s seat, where Brian was slouched.  “It’s a good thing you’re driving,” he said, his words slightly slurred.  “Because...”
He left it at that, and I laughed, pulling out of the driveway.  “Have no fear,” I told him confidently.  “I’ll get us back.”
We drove on, mostly silent as Brian kept dozing off.  I rolled my eyes as his head lolled, and pulled the steering wheel sharply to the left, following the road.  Apparently it broke, because instead of going left, the Mustang started to slide to the right.  Unfazed, I yanked harder on the wheel and let up on the gas.  I blinked down at it.  Had I really been flooring it all this time?
I looked back up to spot a telephone pole.  Too late I saw what was happening.  We slid off of the road, spraying what little snow there was left  on the ground over and around the windows.  I let out a scream and jammed the brake, but it wasn’t working.  I reached for my door, fumbling to get out.
And then- the impact.

Bright lights.  That’s what came next.  First they were small and far away, and my left eye lolled open.
Blood.  That’s what I saw next.  More blood than I had ever seen before in my whole life, more than in any movie or TV show.
Blood- that belonged to who?  My mind was hazy and heavy, working really hard to follow a simple track.  Not me- I was fine, besides the fact my right eye was closed, like it was being taped shut, and my whole right side felt like it was being burned by ice.  Actually, parts of my left side did too- like my leg somewhere, and what I thought was the top of my head.  But it didn’t hurt, really, just kind of stung- so it wasn’t mine.  The blood, I mean.
Who else?  Oh, right, Brian.  He-
The lights were getting closer, yet farther away as my consciousness receded into the back of my head.  My vision turned orange, and then fizzled out, and I closed my eye, blinking something thick and acrid out of it.  My head lolled to one side, and the lights were suddenly right in front of me, jarring me back to the present.
And then the scream- that’s right, that’s what was next.  The scream.  My head fell to the other side, to my right, and I blinked several times.  Blood, even more, but I didn’t know whose.  And then several yards away was a black hunk of metal, looking so familiar...  I spotted a bent up chrome horse on the ground, and my mind, slogging through the clues, slowly realized that it belonged on a Mustang.
My gaze travelled back up to the black heap, crumpled and mashed like a piece of bow-tie pasta around a large log standing upright. Queer, I thought, -why is there a tree without any branches standing in the middle of the road?
Slowly, somehow, it dawned on me.  An accident.  There had been an accident.  I think Brian was here, or he went for help, or something, but where was he now?  I couldn’t remember.  My head rolled back to the left- something was in my back, or on it, but it had to belong, because I felt no pain there.  Just ice-fire, and that was everywhere now, stinging like a thousand needles.
My eye fell on someone- a girl, maybe in her twenties, a few years older than me.  She had brown hair, and blue eyes, and she seemed to be upset.  She was wearing white, and a cross necklace, and she had a pretty face.  She wasn’t really thin or exceptionally beautiful, but she was pretty.  He eye caught mine, and I tried to engage her with a sassy, “Hey gorgeous,” but it came out as more of a moan.
“Oh my gosh,” she said, gasping.  “Yes, there’s been an accident-”
Anyone can see that, I thought slowly, and was about to tell her so, but she had moved on by then, and my mouth wasn’t working right.
“There’s what I think used to be a car, and there’s someone hurt badly on the ground, but someone’s in the wreck, and I think-” here her voice broke, and my mind kept straining to follow her, “-I think he’s dead.”
Who? Who’s dead?  My mind demanded- and then it finally came back.  The party, my Dad’s car, the wreck, Brian-  So it was Brian’s blood staining the snow, and from the looks of the demolished heap that used to be a shiny Mustang, some of it was probably mine, too.  She said someone was badly hurt on the ground, but I was the only one on the ground- I tried to get up, but I couldn’t move.  So I must be badly hurt, and bleeding, and-
The girl was close now, and water was dripping from her chin.  No, tears, I realized.  Bending down, she pulled something off of me; something I hadn’t even realized was there.  Watching through my one eye, I realized it was probably a door, or what had been.  Her moving it caused more ice-fire in my abdomen, and I let out a little groan.
She said something else, something about ambulances and pronto, and I wondered why she was telling me.  Then she said ‘drunk driving’ and I blinked, forcing myself to stay, and not let my being escape out of the back of my head like it wanted to.
Drunk Driving- I knew it was stupid, so why did I do it?  I didn’t remember, I didn’t know.  And now Brian was dead, and even though I felt okay, the girl said I was hurt, so I probably wasn’t.
The girl kneeled down and lifted up my head.  I almost wondered what she was doing with poor, stupid me, but I didn’t care.  She pulled me into her lap, wrapping her arms around my chest and back, avoiding my right arm and the thing in my shoulder.  I wondered what was wrong with it and strained to look.  I promptly wished I hadn’t- I realized the ice-fire was pain.  My arm looked like it had been hit with a mallet- or a telephone pole.  The only way I can describe it is that it looked like fresh ground beef, all flesh and skin and bone mixed together in a sickening display.  Bile rose in my throat, smelling of alcohol, but it only added to the pain I felt in my stomach.  You can go, I told her, wishing her away.  I assumed she had been talking to the police, and she didn’t need to stay.  I didn’t want her to stay, to see another person so maimed and disfigured.  Please, go.
The girl took in a wrenching breath beneath me and my head fell back to look at her. Why are you still here?  A tear fell from her face and landed somewhere in the pain that was throbbing on my head.  I winced at the saltiness and let out a little groan, and she brushed her tears away so they didn’t add to my pain.  She kept holding me.
I know this is going to sound unrelated and maybe a little shallow, but in all honesty, I’m glad she wasn’t some skinny cheerleader.  Her thighs were soft, and warm.  I was so cold, and my body instinctively curled toward her.  I was aware of something in between us, something blocking off her warmth.  I wished it wasn’t there before realizing it was my other arm.  I thought it strange I couldn’t feel it, nor any of my shoulder until that thing sticking into my back, and then ice and fire and pain.
I don’t know how long she sat there, in the bloody slush, holding me and weeping over me.  It felt like an eternity, but it was probably just a few minutes.  I don’t know why she felt compelled to sit there, holding a maimed stranger who was more blood and pain than human, letting him bleed all over her white dress one January night.  I don’t know why she cared, or who she was, or what she was missing to sit there holding a broken and dying body. 
But what I do know is, she was there when I needed her.  I think she might have been an angel.
Soon, too soon, the sirens came.  Mean people in white took her away, with all of her warmth and softness and comfort- or maybe they were taking me?  Tears welled in my eye, and I cried for her, as someone asked if she knew me.  She shook her head.
Then they closed the doors.  In the blur that was the ambulance, I thought of the simple cross pendant lying on the hem of her white dress, and I realized I better get some things straight, since I was dying and all.
It was hard for me to get going, but once I did I felt better.
Hey God, it’s me, Cameron.  I know things haven’t been the best between me and You, and I hope you’ll take me back.  I’m sorry for all the crappy stuff I’ve done lately, and I hope that You can forgive me for my stupidity.  I would offer you my life, but I think You’ve already got it...
When I get to heaven, I’m going to ask a special place for my angel that night, whoever she is- that special girl who showed more love to a crumpled, dying stranger in a single minute than he had ever seen before in his entire life.

Just in case you’re wondering exactly what happened that night, I figured I’d tell you.  But it you have a weak stomach, like me, or don’t care, like some other people I know, I suggest not reading it.  But whatever.

We were going about 80 miles per hour down that country road, and I didn’t even realize it.  We hit ice, or something, even though the stupid action of jerking on the wheel was enough to kill us.  The pole came through the passenger’s door, killing Brian instantly.  It kept coming through the car, hitting my right arm and demolishing it, and causing the console to give and ram into my right leg major, causing abrasions that split the skin.  The roof caved in, and when I was propelled out of the door I wrenched open, I cracked my head on it, causing the injury up there.  My opening the door at the last second cause both the car door and I to sail and then roll several yards away from the car.  The door landed on top of me, causing internal bleeding in and around my organs and severing the flesh completely away from the bones of my leg just below the knee.  The glass shattered, causing a large gash above my left eye, and pinning my right eye closed, along with giving me cuts all over my face and good (or at least better) arm.  I landed on a large shard of windshield, which severed the nerve going to my left arm, explaining why I couldn’t feel it.  That was the thing in my back.
If I would have lived, I would have had two useless arms, half of a left leg, a reconstructed face, and a glass eye.

All of that I heard -or half-heard- from a paramedic in the ambulance, right before everything went dark- and then, I think, is when I died.
I know, you’re reading this going, “Drunk driving- I’ve heard it all before.  I’m not going to do it, it’s stupid, I know.”  Good, I’m glad you understand, but that’s not why I’ve told you this story.  I told you it for the sake of that girl, that wonderful, selfless girl who saved my life.
“Saved your life?”  You’re thinking.  “You just said you died.”
Well, you’re right, I did.  But now I’m going to heaven- and in all honesty, I wouldn’t have changed much about that evening.  Because now I’m going to heaven, instead of going home and living hell, and then dying so many more miserable years later and going to the real thing.
Well, I see the light- and I figure I better go towards it since that’s what they’re telling me to do.
So that’s what I’ll do.  And thanks for listening to a dead 18-year-old... you never know who you can learn from.



America
February 12, 2010

“Admire the American,” they say
“See how he works, and strives
To better humanity, and freedom
How he is successful and happy,
Free and prosperous, wanting of
Nothing.  This is an American.”
Is it, I wonder?
Is it, I plea?
Is he, the striving, busy soul,
All America is?
The one who does as he is told,
Who pays his tribute and washes his car
And strives, and strives, to go so far?
Is it, I ask?
Is it the frantic being,
Who rushes to and fro,
Believing success lies in hurry,
And fulfillment in an agenda?
Is it, I inquire?
Is it the ‘family man’
With broken relationships
And fraying ties
Who doesn’t see others
As he, like Narcissus,
Gazes at his own reflection
Until he expires?
Is it, I implore?
If it, the average one,
Who sits when he is told,
Who lies down to be walked upon
With all of his peers, who
Knows something is wrong and yet says
Nothing for fear of others—is he,
The American, blinded to reality beyond himself
And that convenient, who lets the world run rampant
As long as he doesn’t miss his shows,
is he—
Then I do not admire the American.
I do not admire America—
if this
is all
we are.

Traitor
February 13, 2010

You got me in the battle
Death I’ve joined his dance
Why’d you put me here
I don’t have a fighting chance

You got me playing this game
But I know it’s rigged
I can’t try any longer
Who you tryin’ to kid?

Out in the coliseum
I’m getting killed
Out in the suite
You’re watching me, chilled

How can you stand by
Condemn me to die
I trusted you
Look what you got me to do

You’re a traitor
A trader of trust
My soul’s not my own
And there’s no one to blame
But you
Traitor

Sudden death
(I can’t comprehend)
And as we meet
You watch
(I don’t understand)
You’ve got the best seat
(Try and explain)
You’re the one to betray
But I’ve got to pay

I strive
You watch me die
I’ve already lost
There’s a tiny chance
I might survive
If you called it off
I’d be done
I’d survive

The darkness comes
The pain like a flood
A shuddering breath
As I seek your face
Our eyes meet
Then the light leaves mine
And you laugh—



Valentine’s Day
February 14, 2010

Aah, Valentine’s Day—
How I hate you.
Every girl and her boy
Are filled with such joy
And I am left alone.

In their pinks and their reds,
Lovely thoughts in their heads,
Get out for a day
Filled with play
No one notices I’m wearing grey.

As they play out in the snow
I stare out my window
Rather wistfully—but then, don’t tell
I’m hiding it, yes, very well.

With my brothers away
Parents out for the day
I let myself cry—just a tear
Before touching up—
I’m not a lovesick young pup.
And besides, no one knows—
No one cares I’m alone
On this Valentine’s Day
Filled with the cold.



Heartless
February 20, 2010

I wish that I was heartless
Nothing beating in my chest
Then I could not feel the pain
And aching emptiness

I wish I had not felt the thrill of love
Or of life at all—
To sit here, solemn,
As a stone, unfeeling
Unsympathetic

I wish I had no sense of justice
Or a grasp of guilt
That I could feel no pain
Nor sympathy for what you chose to miss

I wish I ne’er belonged to that great race—humanity
That you could not hurt me
Or my sense of love—fraternity
Then I could finally be free.

Is it real...?
March 14th, 2010

I catch a strain of song that she’s humming as she slides onto the plastic chair.  The Best Thing, I recognize.  My fork poised above my plate, I smile slightly as her eyes light up with laughter at something my older brother says.  Every curve of her face, every strand of hair, is illuminated with spirit and love of life.  Something about her makes the room lighter, brighter, and more alive.
Aah, I’m thinking like a crazy person.  I stab my fork into the chicken on my plate and grab my knife.  I don’t want to her to catch me staring at her.
Her brother comes back with their drinks and hands her hers.  She looks up at him, smiling gratefully, and my breath catches in my throat.
Unfortunately, so does my bite of chicken.  I cough and reach for my coke.  I don’t get how anyone can be so easy to adore in the middle of a crowded KFC.
“You okay?” she asks, looking over.  A hint of a smile is still playing on her lips, but she looks concerned.
Before I can answer, Isaac replies for me.  “Of course he’s okay.”  He thumps on my back before returning to their prior conversation.
I nod and take a sip of my water.  I like it when she talks to me.  It makes me feel important.  Especially when she laughs at what I say- then it all feels worthwhile.
I remember a time, a long time ago, when we were in my backyard.  I was crouching at the top of our slide, and she was sitting on her knees at the bottom of it.  She was laughing at what I said, and I scrunched up my nose.  “You like me, don’t you?”
“What?” she stopped laughing and looked at me curiously. “Why do you say that?”
“Because when a girl laughs at what a boy says, then she likes him.”  Like likes him, of course.  Because it’s okay for kids to like each other, but when they like like each other, it’s weird.  Or something.
“No!” She replied adamantly.  “I was just laughing because you’re funny.  That’s all.”  And she walked off to join her older brother.
I wonder if she remembers it.  I wonder if she was only laughing at what I said because it was funny.  I wonder if that’s the only reason she laughs at what I say now, or if that’s just a cover-up for something more.
Aah, what am I saying?  I sound like one of those stupid sappy guys in some Disney Channel Movie. Get a grip, Jimmy.  You’re not in love with her or anything.  That would be crazy.  It’s wild where my mind wanders when I let it.  I reign it back in.
I look over again, but this time at Isaac, who’s sitting across from her.  He likes her, I know.  He’s hinted at it before- and not just to me, to her also.  He’s probably the real reason I won’t let myself admit that I’ve always admired Melanie, I consider.  If I suddenly confessed that I’ve always liked her, he would- well, I don’t even know.  He wouldn’t be happy, though.
My gaze wanders back over to her.  She’s still laughing- she always does when she’s around us.  I wonder if she laughs because Isaac’s here, or me, or just because she likes being around the both of us.  I wish I knew.
I let myself slide back into their conversation.
“...Because you said so,” Isaac tells her.
“What? No, I said I was your friend,” she replies, confused.
“I know, that’s what I said,” Isaac says.
“No it’s not, you said I said I wasn’t,” she says, grinning.
“No, you didn’t hear me right, what I said was-“ he starts.
She’s laughing now, and I suddenly feel emboldened.
“I’m your friend,” I announce, smiling.  I can’t talk to her without smiling.
Her smile widens and she looks back over to Isaac triumphantly.  “See?  That’s simple.  You’re all like, ‘I said you said she said this, so you aren’t but you are’ and Jimmy’s like, ‘I’m your friend.’  That’s what I like about him.  He’s easy.  You just make stuff hard,” she says in good humor.
Isaac rolls his eyes.  “It’s bad enough when you get onto me,” he says, motioning to her.  “And I always have to deal with him getting onto me, but both of you at the same time is too much to handle.”
I grow warm.  That’s what I like about him.  My smile grows as Melanie replies, grinning over at me, “Oh yeah, you better watch out.  We’re tag-teaming you now.  We’re awesome.”
The rest of the meal goes by, not as interesting- or at least, not to me anyway.  Yeah, we are pretty awesome, aren’t we?  I smile the whole way out.  I even get to hold the door open for her- and everyone else, yes, but what does that matter?
When we get into the van, a thought occurs to me.  Glancing up, I can see her in the front seat, but instead of a smile, a frown comes to my face.
Everybody says young love is something marvelous.  Well, maybe, but looking at her now, I realize it’s not that great.  At least when you’re older you can do something about it.  When you’re sixteen, there isn’t much to do but wait.
She turns in the seat, straining to take part in the conversation our brothers are having.  Her eye catches mine, and she does a little wave.  I smile and wave back.
But I guess some things are worth waiting for.


Suspension
March 17th, 2010

Lights.  They’re above me, wavering, blinking.  Dimmer, they fade slowly.  The lights- where do they go?  Where do they leave me to go to?
The water is still now, the way water is.  Still, but always moving.
I’m like the water, I think.  I’m always still, but floating, moving.  Suspended, I suppose.
The lights come back after a time, above me.  I watch them, entranced.
They go, but they always come back.  Maybe they are alive.  Maybe they know I’m waiting for them, and that is why they return.
I watch, just as I always do.  Still, moving, in the water.  Maybe I am water.  Maybe I don’t exist at all- but the lights exist.  I know this, and watch.  And when they leave again, I will be here, waiting, watching, thinking of everything and nothing.
For I am, and will be, here forever, perhaps.  Wondering about my water and the always returning lights.
The only certain thing is the lights.
And so I watch.



The Story of the Odd Emblem
March 25th, 2010

Once upon a time, in a land far away, there lived some people.  These people all looked the same.  All of the boys had green hair and all of the girls had blue hair, and they all had purple eyes.  The only way they could tell each other apart was an emblem on each one’s shirt.  These emblems came in different circular shapes and sizes and shades of red and pink and yellow and orange. If one knew someone else, they had to have the emblem memorized.  Now, you think this is strange, but they thought it was normal.
There was one girl who was different.  Instead of having a round mark on her shirt, Daisy’s was a square, blobby-looking thing.  It was not a pretty pink, or a bold red- instead, it was a muted blue-grey swirl.
This girl was afraid that other people would not like her if they knew she had an ugly and weird mark instead of a pretty one.  So she always wore a jacket, something that was unheard of in her hot country.
Her best friend, Lily, tried to get her to take off the jacket.  She didn’t know what was underneath, but she did know that other kids in the neighborhood made fun of Daisy for her jacket.
But Daisy wouldn’t take it off, not for anything.  She didn’t have very many friends, then, but that was okay.  She was sure all of them would stop being her friend if they knew about her secret.
One day, she was playing outside and someone decided it would be funny to play a trick on her.  They sprayed her with a hose.  Daisy was not very happy with this, of course, so she ran inside.
She shivered when she got into her house.  The air conditioning was making her very cold, so she took off her jacket.  She hung it out her window to dry in the sun.  She had just turned away when the same someone saw the jacket and took it.
Daisy gasped.  She needed that jacket!  She ran outside to take it back, and heard the door click closed behind her.  Oh no!  She had locked herself out!
She looked around, afraid.  What if someone saw her?  What could she do?
Then an idea came to her.  She could go to Lily’s house!  Lily wouldn’t turn her out, at least not until Daisy’s mom came back from the grocery store.
She ran to Lily’s house.  Thankfully no one recognized her- after all, everyone did look the same.  She banged on the door and Lily let her in.
Once Daisy got into Lily’s house, she started to cry.  “This is awful!  Somebody stole my jacket, and I got locked outside, and now you won’t want to be my friend anymore!”
“Is that your mark?” Lily asked, staring.
At this Daisy started to cry harder. “See? It’s ugly, isn’t it?  That’s why I wore that jacket- I didn’t want anybody to see what my mark really looks like!”
Lily smiled a small smile and shook her head.  “That’s not true at all, Daisy!  Why, yours is prettier than mine,” she said, unpinning the mark on her shirt.  To Daisy’s surprise, underneath the pretty pink and red circle was a greenish-yellow triangle.
Daisy looked up at her friend.  “You mean yours isn’t normal either?”
Lily laughed.  “Nope, and I thought I was the only one!  Maybe everyone has a mark that isn’t normal.”
Just then Daisy’s mom called asking where she was.
“I’ll walk you home,” Lily offered.  “We can both go without hiding our emblems.”
“You would do that for me?” Daisy asked, surprised.
“Of course!” Lily said.  “What are friends for?”
And from that day forward, Lily and Daisy never covered up who they really were again. And slowly, over a long time, people stopped hiding themselves too, until everyone was free to be themselves without anyone else thinking of them differently.



Forsaken
April 9th, 2010

Hard pavement, shattered glass, clutter and trash
A welcoming place, to be sure
I was better off, far away, long before that great clash
Long before I was driven so far from my home
To a land where I am just forgotten

It isn’t my fault that time finds me here
Alone, beaten, and bruised
You told me to trust you, you led me there
Far from that place where I was-
In a land all alone in myself, so forlorn

I told you all, expecting the worst
And the worst, you did give it to me
You spurned me with hate, my heart it would burst
You attacked, you destroyed, you left me in void
In a land, bleeding, fragmented

Why did you tell me it would be okay
Why did you lie to my face
I trusted you, the source of dismay
You drove me out, made me go far away
From a land where I was forsaken

But what hurts so much more than the pain of the scars
Are the raw wounds, open, beneath
To think I was whole once, wrapped up in your arms
Now I’m broken, tossed out, and abhorred-

forgotten


forlorn


fragmented


forsaken



Transformation
April 9th, 2010

Kasey screamed as she awoke, sitting bolt upright in the dark.  The blood was thick on her clawed hands, the acid taste in her mouth.  Her red-streaked black hair was sticking in all directions, and her dark eyes were terrified.  She looked around her room, stiff, looking for the corpse. As her eyes travelled over the black and red walls, her heart rate slowed.  Just a dream, she told herself, smoothing her bright red sheets beneath her clean hands.  Just a dream.

“See you!” Kasey’s best friend Milissa said, waving to another classmate as she walked Kasey home from school.  She swung her bag as they stepped in time.  “What’s up?” she asked, tilting her head.  Her blonde bangs brushed her forehead over her eyes.  “You didn’t seem like yourself all day.”
Kasey shook her head.  “Just another dream,” she said, looking up to the blue afternoon sky.
Milissa’s brow puckered.  “You know, I’m worried about you.  Those ‘dreams’ of yours are way more like nightmares.  Did you-“
“No, this time I didn’t kill anyone,” Kasey lied, trying not to dwell on her freakish dreams.  They always came, with Kasey turning into a monster and killing faceless people who she felt were somehow close to her.
“That’s good,” Milissa replied, still swinging her arms.  “You should really talk to someone about them, you know.  Did you talk to your parents about the last one like I told you to?  I bet that they-“
Kasey cut her off.  “You know, can we talk about something else?”
Milissa blinked.  She seemed like she was going to say something else, but changed her mind.  “Okay, if you say so.  Where did your parents go this time?”
“Tahiti,” Kasey replied, shoving all thoughts of her nightmares out of her mind.  “Or someplace like that.”
Milissa smiled sympathetically.  “I wish they would take you with them sometime.”
Kasey shrugged.  “You know them,” she replied, flashing a brilliantly white smile.  “They ‘don’t want me to miss any school.’” She let out a little snort.  “More like they don’t want me to get in the way.”
“No way!” Milissa replied, hooking arms with her friend.  “Your parents are the coolest on the planet.”
Kasey shrugged again.  “I guess.  If you think leaving your kid for weeks on end is cool.”
“But they really love you, Kasey.  And they’re always giving you stuff, and letting you have friends over, and at least they don’t make you go and stay with your aunt Marge when they’re gone,” Milissa offered as they walked up the sidewalk to Kasey’s house.
Kasey let out a chuckle as she fumbled for her key.  “Whatever you say, Miliss.”
“Hey,” Milissa said as Kasey opened the door.  “I’ll stop by later to help you with your homework, okay?  I know I’d get lonely if I was the only person in this huge house in the dark all night.”
“Okay,” Kasey agreed as Milissa started the walk to her own home.  “See ya.”
She dumped her messenger bag on the floor the instant she stepped inside.  Making her way into the kitchen, she picked up a soda can she had left on the floor the day before.  The house wasn’t too big of a mess, which was fortunate.  Her parents would be coming home soon, and they would want the house clean.
She hopped in the shower and popped some popcorn. It was starting to get dark when she started down the stairs of her three-story house.  Like a good girl, she locked all of the doors and pulled the curtains closed.  Milissa would know she was home but everyone else would be none the wiser.
Making her way through the house, the bowl of popcorn under her arm, her thoughts travelled down a familiar path.  Why did her parents always have to leave, anyway?  Kasey didn’t get it.  She was their only child, and yet they acted as though they didn’t even want her.  They were always leaving on trips and doing things without her, then sending her colorful little trinkets back from Hawaii or Dubai.  Kasey hadn’t ever even left her home country.  Why didn’t they ever take her with them?  Kasey clenched her teeth, letting the anger flood in.  She knew she wasn’t their birth child, but really, she could take care of herself.  They needn’t amuse her any more than she need amuse them.  It didn’t make sense: if they didn’t want her, why not just send her back to where she came from?
She pounded on the piano in the entryway, hanging her head.  Surely she would be better off on her own.  The mirror in front of her reflected the windows behind, where the sun was no longer visible in the sky.  The darkness pervaded the house.  Why did her parents even come back?  Just leave already! Kasey already knew they didn’t want her- who were they trying to kid?
Angrily, she clenched her fist.  A sharp pain shot up her arm.  She looked down at her hand, opening it.  Blood was welling from marks on the palm, made from her black fingernails.  They were much longer than before- longer and coarser.
She glanced up into the mirror before her.  Hair had sprouted all over her face and neck.  Her eyes turned from brown to yellow as she watched, horrified.  Her t-shirt stretched against her body as she expanded and grew, body distorting.  She wanted to turn away, but she couldn’t.  The pain was intense, the strain taxing.  Against her will, she let out a wail of agony.  The noise was foreign to her ears, lupine and gruff.
The seams on her sleeves popped as her limbs thickened and shortened, turning her into a hideous beast.  Her horror at her appearance washed over her, but then a feeling of blind rage struggled to combat it.  Overwhelmed, she banged on the piano.  The wood splintered, flying in all directions, and Kasey turned away.  She was appalled, appalled and enraged at the same time, the two emotions waging war in her body.
She fought it, fought it with all of her might.  Whipping around, she dug her claws into the wall, ripping the plaster out of it, knocking the antique clock askew.  Her pain drove her to near insanity, as she rampaged through the empty house.
Dragging her pain-laced body up the dark stairs was an impossible feat.  Groaning, she pulled her hands along the wall.  Long gouges followed her fingers.  She was full of mental, physical, and emotional turmoil.
The beastly side of her let out a livid roar, infuriated by her own resistance.  She dug her hands into the wall, fighting it.
Her heart stopped as she heard the doorbell.  Milissa!
“Don’t-” she started to call.  Her voice was hoarse and raw, and the rest of her message disintegrated into an enraged bellow.
“Kasey?” Her friend called.  “Kasey, are you okay?  Open the door!”
“You-” she tried again, and this time she screamed excruciatingly.
“Kasey, open the door,” Milissa said, her voice urgent.  “Open the door now or I will.”
Kasey’s eyes were wild as she glanced around the upstairs.  The key!  Why did she ever give Milissa the key?!
She heard the key in the lock, and loped into her bedroom.  She locked the door and threw herself under the bed.  She ripped at the floorboards as she heard Milissa open the front door.
“Kasey?!  Kasey, where are you?!”
Kasey could hear the panic in her friend’s voice.   She imagined what she was seeing; the smashed piano, the scratching on the walls.  She heard a single step on the stairs-what was Milissa doing?
Kasey knew she had to hide.  She looked across the room, and her eyes fell on her closet. She threw herself across the room towards the double doors.  Hurriedly, she hurled all of her dark clothing out of it.  A boot tore a poster in half and banged on the ground.
“Kasey?” Milissa asked, her steps quickening.
Kasey slammed the closet door closed.  The pain intensified.  She dug her fingers into her scalp and cried out in anguish.
“Kasey, answer me!” Milissa cried, banging on the door to her room.  “I’m coming in!”
“No!” Kasey bellowed, her voice deep and coarse.  “Don’t!  Leave, now!”
Milissa knocked on the door again.  “No, I’m not leaving! I want to help you!”
Kasey heard her insert a key into the slot.  Her pulse quickened and she screamed at her friend, “No!  Don’t!  I’ll hurt you!  Leave now!!”
A wave of anger washed over her and she dug her claws into the wood, ripping it up.  “LEAVE! I’m telling you!” she bellowed, her voice severe.  “I can’t fight it anymore-”
A cry ripped from her throat, paining her.  The monster started to overtake her, and the humanity deserted her yellow eyes.  Kasey roared again, throwing her body into the wall in one last desperate attempt to warn her friend. 
The door opened.  The monster rammed into the closet door, bursting through.  Its eyes glinted in the dark as they fell on Milissa.  The girl screamed as it descended on her. Sharp teeth sank into her throat, and the life left her eyes with the blood that came from the wound. Milissa’s body stared at the monster, terrified and accusing. 
The corpse fell from Kasey as she stepped back.  She stared, horrified at what she had done.  Blood, thick and acrid, coated her mouth.  Bile rose in her throat.  She had to leave, had to hide what she had done.  She stumbled from the room, turned and fled the house, into the darkness- the only thing that could hide her.



Protector
April 19, 2010/ May 24, 2010

Roy walked the crowded streets of the busy city slowly, leading his horse behind him.  It was a typical day- the sun was shining, people were haggling over prices, and ragged children were running through the streets, picking up a fallen apple or two on the way.  Yes, a typical day in a castle town.
He ran his hand through his red hair as he looked around.  He was aware he stuck out from the crowd, but thankfully no one seemed to mind the tall young man with blazing red hair, clad in the blue that matched his vivid eyes.  They were just tending to their own business and going through a normal day.  For the second time in his long walk through the city, the sixteen-year-old heard the guards yelling, “Thief! Thief!”
He stepped aside to let them run past, on the trail of some poor innocent, no doubt.  In stepping back, however, his foot landed on something.  He looked back, surprised, and his gaze fell on a small foot clad in a dirty boot.  He followed it up to the face of a small girl hiding behind his cloak.  Her short black hair was mussed under the holey blanket she had turned into a cape for herself.  Her dark eyes were large and filled with tears as she looked up at him fearfully.
“What’s the matter?” he asked, eyes kind.  He knelt down so he was on her level and smiled so as not to scare her.
“It was just an apple,” she said, starting to shake.  “It isn’t for me; it’s for my little brother.  He hasn’t had anything to eat for days!  He’s too sick to move!”  Big tears rolled down her dusty face as she started to sob.  “Please don’t let them take me away! I don’t want to go to jail!”
“Shh, don’t cry,” Roy said, brushing a tear off the small girl’s cheek.  “You’ll be okay, I’ll protect you.”
He heard the guards behind him call out something.  Quickly, he whipped his extra cloak off of his horse and draped it on the girl. “Shh,” he repeated, smiling at her as a hand fell on his shoulder.
A civic guard turned him around gruffly. “Do you know that girl?” he demanded, his eyes searching.
Roy nodded.  “That’s my . . . daughter,” he improvised, hoping the guard couldn’t tell he wasn’t old enough to be married.
The guard gave him a queer look and glanced down at the girl hidden under the massive cloak.  “Has she been running around the town today?”
Roy shook his head.  “She’s been right with me the whole time.”
The guard seemed like he was going to say something else, but another one tapped him on the shoulder.  He nodded, bade farewell to the young man, and followed his partner.
After they had gone down another road, Roy turned back to the little girl.  She couldn’t have been more than seven or eight, he thought.  “Come with me,” he said kindly, scooping her up and setting her on the back of his horse.  “I’ll take care of you.  Just don’t let anyone see your face, okay?”
Somewhere inside of the cloak, a little head nodded. 
Clicking to his horse, Roy walked it through the city streets.  The girl rode stiffly at first, but as they continued, she grew more and more used to the beast.
Roy smiled as he led the horse.  He had helped someone out, a little girl.  He had been able to protect her and her little brother.  He felt good- no, he felt more than good.  He felt heroic, in a way.  Accomplished, proud.
He led the horse into an alley and lifted the cloak-swaddled girl to the ground.  “You can take your hood off now,” he told her.
She lifted it off and petted the horse’s nose.  “I like your horse,” she said timidly.
He smiled and looked down at her.  “I think he likes you too!”  Looking around, he asked, “Where’s your little brother?”
At this she looked down, still petting the horse.  She whispered something, and Roy had to crouch to catch any of it.
“What?” he asked encouragingly.
“I don’t have a little brother,” she murmured again.  “I just said that so you wouldn’t let the guards take me away.  The apple was for me.”
Roy frowned a little.  “Stealing is wrong.  You know that, right?” he replied seriously.
She nodded, dejected.
“And you won’t do it again?”
She looked up at him, eyes wide.  “Then how will I eat?”
The wheels were turning in his head.  “Do you have any family here in the city?”
She shook her head.
“How would you like to come and live with me and my family?” He offered, beaming.  “I’m sure you’d like it; you’d have a brother, and a mom and dad, and nice people all around, and you’d never be hungry or dirty or alone...”
Her eyes grew even wider.  Roy could see the darkening sky reflected in the large pools.  “Really?” she demanded, in awe.
He nodded, eyes sparkling.  “Really.”
“Oh, yes!” She exclaimed, elated.  “Oh yes oh yes oh yes!”
He grinned, stood, and scooped her up onto the horse.  “Great! Then it’s decided!  You’ll come and live with me!” 
Clicking to his horse, he led her through the town to the inn where he was staying that night.  The little girl followed compliantly as he gave his horse to the stable boy and told the lady behind the counter that he was back.  Whenever he opened the door, she gasped.  “Wow!” she exclaimed, circling the bed.
“You can sleep in it if you want,” Roy offered, grinning.
“You’d let me do that?!”  She asked, stunned.
He nodded, thrilled that he could please her in such a simple way.  He glanced around the room.  Sitting on a table, by an outcropping in the wall that held a window, was a water pitcher.  “How about I call for some hot water, and you can take a bath?”
The little girl agreed, and Roy set out his extra shirt and cloak for her to wear after she was through.  He went and waited downstairs until she came down.  His shirt, long even for him, was far too big on her, and it hung to the ground.  She had swathed herself in his extra cape, and clutched it about her as if she was braving the tundra.  Her short black hair was wet and slicked down, her dark eyes bright beneath her dripping bangs.
Roy grinned when he saw her.  “Dinner’s just being served,” he told her, ushering her into the dining-room of the inn.  A few men were sitting around a large table, talking over their drinks.  Roy caught snippets of their conversation as he led the girl by.  King’s jewels.... thief...searching... guards... They stopped speaking as they noticed the young man, and continued in hushed tones when they had moved on.
Roy couldn’t help but chuckle.  “I guess it wasn’t you they were after at all,” he told the little girl.
She giggled.  “I was afraid for nothing!”
He nodded, grinning.  “I guess so!”
“But I’m glad you found me,” she said sincerely, eyes sparkling.  “Really glad.”
Roy beamed.  “So am I,” he replied.
He bought their dinner, watching with delight as the little girl devoured her food as though she had never eaten before. They headed up to the room after that.  The girl bounced happily on the bed as he spread out his blanket by the foot of it.  She was asleep before he blew out the lamp.
He paused, watching her shoulders rise and fall slowly in slumber.  He smiled slightly, thinking of the warm welcome she would receive by his family.  They had always wanted another child, and now they would have her. He walked over and gently kissed her forehead.  Then he turned out the light and went to sleep.

Roy blinked, suddenly awake.  He didn’t know what had woken him, but he sensed that something wasn’t right.  As he sat up, he glanced at the window. Startled, he gasped.
The girl was there, framed in the window.  But this wasn’t the same little angel he had rescued earlier in the day; she had the same black hair and eyes, but she was suddenly several years older.
“Who-” Roy started.
She whipped around, the black skirt of her dress billowing slightly.  Her face was in the darkness, but he watched her visibly relax.  Oh,” she said, leaning against the corner of the wall. “Good morning.  I think.”
“Who are you?” he asked, incredulous.
She raised an eyebrow slightly, totally blasé.  “You heard that story about the thief that stole the king’s jewels?” She pulled something small from the neck of her dress and held it up to the window.  Glittering, the ruby sparkled in the moonlight as she tossed it in the air and caught it.  “Well, an apple wasn’t the only thing I stole today.” 
She slid it back into the folds of fabric about her shoulders.  “I guess I should thank you for the break.  I could have gotten out of there by myself, but my plan wouldn’t have included a hot dinner.”
She started to jump out the window, but he opened his mouth.  “Wait, I—” he started, attempting to comprehend.
“Wait for what?” the girl said.  “You’re not going to call the guards on me, you’re too nice,” she added analytically.  “You don’t know what my real voice sounds like, or what my name is.  You can’t pick me out in a crowd.  If you try to find me again, I’ll evade you, just like I evade everyone else.  I ride no animals, leave no footprints, no traces.  Those who see me forget me easily.  I have a thousand disguises.  And I hate horses.”
She glanced out the window, to the ground.  “I really ought to be going.  I can’t dawdle here anymore, not with people looking for me.  I would say thanks, but you ought to be thanking me for playing along for such a long time.  I was even going to be nice and leave whenever you were asleep so that I didn’t hurt your feelings.  If you had just stayed asleep, it would have gone off without a hitch.  So forget about me and pretend none of this ever happened.”
She readied herself to jump out before adding, “Not for my sake, of course, but for yours.”
And with that, she disappeared into the night.
Roy jumped up, to the window, and looked out.  She was nowhere to be seen.  He turned back to the bed, where a little angel soon to be his sister had been sleeping only hours before.  Now it was empty, and he felt a dull sense of loss. 
No more pride, no more affection, no more sense of being desperately needed by at least one other soul;  just a dull, throbbing loss.
He wouldn’t tell on her; he knew it, but he had no idea how she knew it. 
Sighing a little, he picked up his blanket and dropped it on his bed.  As the full effects of her usury came to him, he brushed his hand through his red hair.  She read him like a book, and used her knowledge against him.  He hadn’t known anyone could do anything like that.
And he hadn’t known how much it hurt.



Firelight
April 27, 2010

In the firelight, I watch you.  The light flickers across your face spiritedly as you stare off into space.  Your eyes are unfocused, but I can see the pain that glints in them like the reflected fire.  I can feel the pain, and despair, and loneliness.
We’ve said everything there was to be said.  I know it all now.  I don’t understand, and you know this.  But what you don’t know is that I ache too.  I wish none of this had ever happened to you, that you didn’t feel alone inside.
There is nothing I want more than to cross the hard stone and draw you in to my arms.  I want to hold you through the dark tonight, to show you someone cares, that you’re not alone and there is nothing to fear. I just want to be there for you, to let you weep and tell you things are going to get better.  I want to make it be all right.
But you don’t weep.  You just sit, staring into the flames.  Not speaking, not moving, hardly breathing.  Your pain is paralyzing you.  I swallow back tears.  Cry, move, look at me.  Do anything, and I’m there.  I want to help you.
Finally you blink and look up at me.  Tears are in your own eyes, and you want me to understand.  You’re craving for me to accept you, no matter what.  But behind the imploring, I still sense doubt.
I stand silently.  You open your mouth, about to speak, but there isn’t anything left to say.   In two strides I am beside you, pulling you to me.  This isn’t what you expected, but still you curl into my arms, and shuddering breaths wrack your body as you sob. Your fine hair brushes my cheek as I clasp my arms around you.  And there, in the dark, you finally let yourself cry.
Things might not get better.  You know it might not be all right again.  But I am here, and you never have to go through anything alone.




The Beginning of Something
May 15, 2010

“Hi,” she says, sitting down next to me.  I glance up, my floppy ears brushing my face.  My eyes thin warily, but her thickly lashed eyes close as she smiles at me.
“It’s okay, I’m not going to hurt you,” she asserts, almost reading my mind.  She reaches out, but I shrink back.  It’s been a while since I’ve trusted anyone to touch me.  I should bite her.  I want to.
But something in her eyes keeps me from sinking my teeth into her slender hand.  “You looked lonely,” she explains, setting her hand down on the curb beside her instead of trying to pet me when I don’t want her to.  “So I decided to come and sit with you.”
I twitch my ear and watch her carefully.  I don’t believe her.
She looks up and across the empty street.  It’s mid-September, and the weather is just starting to get chilly.  A brisk breeze brushes a napkin along the faded concrete.  She watches it and tells me, “I don’t have anyone to sit with most of the time anyway.  So I thought I might as well join you.”
I blink twice and set my head on the pavement, between my paws, still watching her.
“Being lonely is a drag,” she says, glancing down at me and smiling her closed-eye smile.  “I’m glad you didn’t run off.” She crosses her arms now, so they’re in her lap.  “It’s starting to get cold,” she says, looking up at the grey sky.  It is reflected in her blue eyes, making them look deep and wise. 
I let my eyes close for a moment in agreement.  I open them again, very soon.
She pulls out something wrapped in paper and foil.  “Where do you live, I wonder?” she asks, unwrapping her food.
I, of course, say nothing, but only watch her.
She pulls off a corner of whatever her lunch consists of and sets it down before me.  “Here, you look hungry,” she tells me.  I look up at her, and she smiles again.  “Go ahead, it’s good.”
I sniff it.  It smells tangy, spicy, and exotic.  It smells good.  I glance up at her, and she’s still watching me.  She won’t eat until I do, I think.
I put my nose against it and nudge it.  Sauce gets on my nose and I lick it.  It tastes good.  Quickly, I gulp whatever she sat in front of me down.  I look up at her, and she laughs harmoniously.
I have let my hunger be ignored before, but now that I have a little bit of food in me, I crave more.  I sit up and look at her, tilting my head.  I watch as she tears off another corner, but this one goes to her mouth.  Disgusted, I stand and turn to walk away.  All people are the same. Tease you, taunt you, and laugh as you beg for more.  Well, not me.  I don’t beg.
“Hey!” she says, calling me.  “Hey!  There’s more for you!”
I stop, but don’t turn.  Not until I smell that scent—like something from a far-off land, like adventure and things untried.  My mouth waters and I glance back.
She’s holding an even bigger piece out, something tan and soft containing piquant things of many different colors.  “Come and get it,” she tells me, look expectant and pleased.
Wary once again, I trot slowly back and sit down.  She puts the food in front of me, and I bend down, devouring it.  Satisfied for now, I sit down and watch her.  She smiles.  “I knew you wouldn’t leave,” she tells me.  “You’re too loyal.”
Loyal?  If I could scoff, I would.  She doesn’t know me.  What does she know about my loyalties?
But then, part of it is true.  I am loyal, when the right people come along.  I just don’t know if she’s the right kind of person.
She puts out her hand again, and this time I at least sniff it.  Slowly, gently, she reaches for my head.  I let her, watching her face.  She could be, maybe.  But a lot of people could be.
Tenderly, so I barely know it, she brushes my head.  She massages behind my ears gently, just like others used to do.  I let my eyes close, enjoying it.  No one has pet me in ages.
She laughs again, and I open my eyes.  “You’re a good dog, aren’t you?” she asks.  “I think you used to have a family once.”
Her phone rings, and she looks down at it.  “Well, that’s my alarm,” she says to me.  “Lunch break is over.  I have to get going.”
She looks down at her food and sets it on the pavement.  “I’m not hungry anyway,” she says.
I look at it, and sniff it.  I glance up as she stands.   “I’ll see you tomorrow?” she says, putting her hands in her pockets.  “I’ll bring you something better then.”
She reaches down, gives me one last pat, and walks off down the sidewalk.
I watch her for a while, and then drag the remains of her soft-wrapped spicy thing into the cardboard box where I sleep.  I don’t feel bad that she’s gone, like I thought I might.
I curl up on the ratty towel I shoved into the bottom of the box.  She’ll be back, I’m sure.  And I don’t know for sure, but I think this is the beginning of something—something good.




What Do You Know of This?
May, 2010

Sobs shook her shoulders as she drew in ragged breaths.  His hand haltingly settled on the black rayon as he said softly, “It’s alright; this happens to everyone.  You’ll be okay, you—”
She jerked away from his touch. Her eyes, red-rimmed and bloodshot, glared at him though her tears.   “Liar,” she hissed angrily.  “It won’t be okay.  It won’t ever be okay again.”
He seemed undaunted.  “People go through things like this all the—”
Her glare intensified as she glowered.  “All the time?  All the time?!”  The gravel crunched beneath her thin heels as she stood, drawing the attention of one or two black-clad guests of the ossuarium.  Her knuckles turned white as she clenched her fists, her nails piercing her palms. “Nothing like this has ever happened before—not with these people, not with these circumstances!”
A crash of thunder drowned out anything he might have said in reply.  He stepped back as she stepped forward.  “How dare you tell me it will be okay?  How dare you get my hopes up for nothing?!”
It started to rain. The few people in the open charnel house retreated to their cars and drove away.
She was up in his face now, hissing, blind to her surroundings.  “What do you know of this?” she demanded.  “What can you pretend to know about any of this?”
He stepped back and opened his mouth, but she clenched her jaw.  “You know nothing,” she spat, opening and closing her fists.  Blood was on her palms, the rain washing it away. “Don’t even pretend to.”
Angrily, she turned and walked away.  Haltingly, he put out a hand to her and started to call her name, but she ignored him and disappeared in the rain.




Heaven: Nikola’s Take
May 15, 2010

Heaven.  I don’t think about it that often.  I probably should, but it just doesn’t cross my mind.  I’m too busy to think about stuff like heaven.  That takes time- time I could be spending doing something else.  Anything else.
Like I said, I should think about heaven.  I mean, it would be important if I was a normal person.  But I’m not, and I don’t think about it.  I live for now.  Who cares about when I die?
I know a lot of different people who think a lot of different things about it.  Heaven, I mean.  Not when I die- though I bet a lot of people are thinking about that too.  Not that I care.  They’re not going to get their hands around my neck any time soon.  I’m too fast for them, invisible, intangible.  I’m there, and I’m gone.  I am stealth.
But anyway.  I guess heaven changes from person to person.  I think heaven is a big garden, like the one down at the palace, and all of the good people are there, singing and picking flowers and stuff.
I’m not going there, of course.  I’m not good enough.  I spend too much of my time stealing, lying, and generally being myself.  I’m the last person you’d see in heaven.
I don’t really care, either.  I mean, the way I see it is you can either have fun now and pay for it later, or you can pay for heaven now and get to sing and pick flowers forever.  Um, I pick option number one, thanks.  Flowers are boring anyway.
Maybe you think I’m making a bad decision.  But I don’t make bad decisions.  I just... don’t.  So I’m probably alright.
Besides, when I die, if I die, I’ll worry about it then.  I have better things to do while I’m still here than sit around and chat about distant things like heaven.  Why bother?  There’s plenty of time to be dead and think about when I was alive.  Right now, I’m going to give myself something to think about.




Rain
June 3, 2010

It’s raining.
You’re walking close to your brother.  He’s ahead of you, showing you the driest places to step.
The good thing about the rain is that it washes away the smell you’ve been collecting the past few days.  Your rolled up jeans are sticking to you clammily, your faded pink shirt adhering to your chilled skin.  The dim baby blue flower on it fails to cheer anything.
“Here,” he tells you, making a cup out of his large, sun-tanned hands for you to slide your dirty Nike into.  You do, gingerly, and he boosts you over the black-iron fence standing, sentry-like, around the cemetery.  Everything is grey around you.
The slick metal digs into your palms as you drop to the ground.  You wrap your arms around yourself.  Pushing your dripping light-brown hair out of your face, you squint against the rain as you watch him clamber over.
His sneaker slips, but he regains his balance and heaves himself over the ironwork, his muscles working beneath his plastered grey shirt.  You can see the gun-holster strapped across his chest.  Dropping to the ground, he straightens and brushes his hands off on his dirty khakis.
He beckons to you and you follow him.  The graveyard is new territory to the both of you, but he takes you to shelter wherever you stop, without fail.  You weave through the gravestones and pause by a small mausoleum.  Keown, it reads, engraved into the grey slab in the red-brown stone.  You stand, shivering, under the crying grey sky as your brother kicks the lock.  He rattles it, but it doesn’t fall off.  Readying himself, he gives it another kick, and this time the iron door clangs open.
You make your way in, and he follows, swinging the iron gate closed behind him.  You sit, close together on the back wall, behind the stone coffin.  Your stomach growls, and you clench your arms around your stomach to hide the noise.  You don’t want him to worry.
He hands you a few pieces of beef jerky from a torn package in the sack you found in an alley, and you nibble them, watching him eat his share.  You both eat slowly, tricking your stomachs into feeling full.
After you finish, you lean against him.  You can hear his heart beating.  His blonde hair drips on your shoulder, and you look up at him.  He smiles at you, but tiredly, and the grey look in his eyes reminds you.
The man is there; coming at you.  The alley, in a T, brick walls closing you in.  You’re against the wall, scrambling, trapped; he’s above you now.  Alcohol.  Sick and menacing words assail you, slurring together. Blackness as you close your eyes, trying to block out the searing language.  A blur- your brother coming to your rescue- they grapple- a flash of a switchblade.  You panic, find metal, and, inhumanly calm, fix the man in your gaze.  A click resounds in the darkness; a jolt up your right arm.  Booming noise.  Your brother stumbles away as the man falls to the ground.  Your arm drops, the gun a part of you, as your brother rushes to your side, looking around nervously, and ushers you away.  But before you leave, you look back. 
You killed him.
You shiver and your brother wraps his strong arms around you.  He is cold, as are you.  The stone beneath you is hard, the air moist.  Listening to the rain, you ask him quietly, “Why did this happen to us?”
For a moment he doesn’t reply, just rests his lips on your stringy hair in a silent kiss.  Then, looking up to the marble ceiling, he replies in a whisper. “I don’t know.”
A puddle is forming beneath you.  You curl instinctively, shivering slightly.
Somehow you fall asleep.




Zucchini
June 12, 2010

You smile at me from across the table
And give me that silly grin
I do declare, it’s worse than pulling teeth
I fix you with my glare
And try not to smile
As you peer at me from over
Your glass
Filled to the brim with amusement
You’re trying to get out of it, but I won’t let you
I raise my eyebrows
And eyes close under your own
You’re trying to butter me up, and its half working
You’re making me laugh
But “you aren’t going anywhere until
That zucchini is off your plate.”




Familiar...?
June 12, 2010

Hazy, flickering—your face
Dimly, dreamlike—what is this place?
Where am I, this phantom world,
When is this, this fantasia?
Is this but a memory?
But it’s you—I’ve ne’er seen
before this time—
before this life—
How then, are you here, tonight
visiting my inner thought
How then, do I yet remember
the light in your eyes—the glowing ember
That which I have never seen
before this time—
before this life—
How then—how then
Do I see
your face in my memory?




Letter From Christi
June 14, 2010

Mail to:
No. 64 L___ Street
K____ Blvd.
T___, Iran

Dear Filbert,
Hi.  It’s Christi.  But I told you that already, huh?  A few letters ago, right?
Well, today we watched movie.  And we ate popcorn.  I sat by Doctor Person.  He’s nice.  But you know that too, huh?  I’m repeating myself a lot.  Well, I couldn’t sit in Sully because my legs didn’t want to be good to me.  Sully isn’t as comfy as the couch.  Sully is my wheelchair!  And—wait you know that too.
Bother.  It’s not fun that you know everything.
How goes the war?  Somebody said that in a book I read, but I don’t remember what one.  But I hope you’re okay.  I can’t wait for you to come back and take me home from here.  Sometimes the people in white smell funny, or chew their gum with their mouths open.  I don’t like that.  I tell them that, and I say that even Louis and Guido didn’t do that, but they don’t believe me.  I guess I make them seem too mean for people to think they’re nice.  I shouldn’t do that anymore.
George brought me upstairs in Sully tonight.  He’s one of the nice people in white coats like I told you about.  I told him I was going to write to you, and he smiled.  He has a nice smile.  I told him so, and he laughed.  I wonder why?
He told me I should go to sleep now.  One of the ladies in white is going to come and help me brush my hair, too.  And I have to take yucky medicine, remember?  It’s yucky.  I’m not going to sleep, though, because I think you’re more important to talk to than the people in my sleep.  Only sometimes you’re in my sleep, and I’m awake.  Doctor Person tells me that’s a dream.  I think dreams are funny.  Do you remember my dream last night?  You told me to eat some ice cream.  And Louis and Guido were playing on a teeter-totter.  They looked funny, but I didn’t laugh.  I don’t know why.
Oh!  I almost forgot.  Today I was reading a book, and they mentioned insane people.  I asked George what an insane person was, and he said it was someone who wasn’t right in the head.  I can’t help but wonder what would make someone unright in the head.  You know?  I asked Filbert, the pillow I named after you, but he didn’t have any idea either.  I thought about it while I painted pictures with John and Tinsel today, and Filbert and I decided that we think everybody is unright in the head.  It’s hard to do right stuff, so how can you make sure your head is right?  I mean, your head is where your heart is, and your heart is what thinks for you, right?  And if you can’t think right things all the time, then your head is unright.
I told George and he smiled, but it didn’t look like he meant it.  Then I asked him what an insane asylum was, because I heard that in a different book, and he said it was where they put people that were unright in the head.  He sounded sad.  I said it sounded like where I live, kind of like afterschool care forever.  His pretty blue eyes got all clouded, and he sounded sad and started talking in big words, and saying that people don’t understand, and he was sorry, and lots of stuff like that.  He said that they talk like they’re the only ones that matter, and we’re people too, and it’s not our fault that we never grew up.
I don’t really understand all of that.  Maybe George has been in an insane asylum before.  I told him I was sorry and I loved him and gave him a hug, and he smiled again, but still sadly, and told me to go to bed.
Well, Filbert and I think our idea makes sense.  Write us back and tell us what you think.
Well, the nice lady is here now.  It’s Mandy this time, the one with the pretty purple colored hair.  I love you Filbert.  Have a good time in Finland, or Alaska, or Tibet or wherever you are fighting your war.  Tell the people you’re fighting with to hurry up so you can come back.
I love you.
Christi
_____________________________________________________________________________________Sunnyshore Psychiatric Institution

Watch Your Feet
June 24, 2010

Two doors stood, each staring at the other, unopened.  They were identical, circular stones covered in khaki tiles, an oblong blue circle in the middle of the swirled pattern.  Shiny blue ore was spread on the vanilla tiled walls in irregular patterns.  Instead of a floor in the center of the room, lava bubbled beneath floating blocks, covered in the same beige squares.  Every few moments the lava would bubble and pop, spinning a cube in place before it returned to its natural state.  A pillar sat, half-emerged in the magma, as it had been for centuries.  The room, untouched by time and elements, sat, waiting.
One of the doors rolled open.  The other watched, unmoved, as two figures stepped in.
"Well, took us long enough to find the key to this room," the young man told his companion.  His intelligent green eyes slid over the chamber, unaffected.  "It's not much to look at, is it?"
The other person, a girl, shrugged.  "It's everything to look at if it'll get us through here."
The boy nodded.  "Sensing anything?"
"There's something here," she responded, looking at the palm of her hand.  An electronic ellipsoid cast light upon her face, embedded in her palm.  "But it looks like it's in the wall."
"Hmm.  Well, let's get across first.  Maybe we can see something from the other side."
He stepped up to the edge of the floor, where it had crumbled away.  Surveying the blocks, he hopped nimbly from one to another, pausing near the middle of the pool to look back at his teammate.  "Coming?" he asked her.
"Of course," she responded levelly, leaping after him.
“Watch your feet,” he reminded her.
A lava bubble popped beside the square platform she was perched upon.  Her weight was enough to counteract most of the force, but the remaining momentum caused her to slide to the edge of the tiled cube.
"You picked a bad place to step," the boy told her, crossing his arms in his green jumpsuit.  The shiny cannon replacing his left arm from the elbow down shone in the dim light of the room.
She scowled at him as she shook the lava off of her blue boot.  "More like you picked a bad place to lead me," she responded, jumping back to the entrance of the room.  She crouched and extended her leg, boot smoldering.  "Hey, lend me that extra burn heal I told you to pick up."
"I already gave you that one," he replied.
"Well, then, give me one of your burn heals.  You know I only packed one because I had to bring along those silly barrel bombs of yours.  I didn't have enough containment points for any more."
He rifled through his supply belt and pulled out a red-brown vial.  Handing it to her, he grimaced as he commented, "Whoever thought to make burn heals the color of scorched flesh has a sick sense of humor."
"Shut up," she replied, pouring the liquid over her foot.  Instantly the boot reformed over her foot, and she stood, testing her weight on it.
"Let's go," the boy said, hopping across the lava again.
The girl rolled her eyes under her red-purple bangs and jumped on a different cube than he had.  She watched for lava bubbles.
The boy kept hopping from block to block, looking for a way across.  Finally, he paused and glanced back at his teammate.  "Find anything yet?"
She shook her head.  "All of the blocks are too far away from the entrance.  There's no way across using these."
He rolled his eyes.  "Thanks for finding that out before we wasted a burn heal on your foot."
She didn't reply, just hopped back to the entrance.  "Come back here and help me look," she told him.
From the entrance of the chamber, very little was visible.  Looking up, the boy tilted his head.  There were blue metal panels placed sporadically on the beige ceiling.
"Hey--" he started, speaking the same time as the girl.  He looked at her, and she pointed to the wall.
"I was just going to say that there's a crack in the wall over there."
"That's nice," he responded quickly, pointing to the ceiling.  "There are blue spots on the ceiling.  Are they metal?  Maybe we could hang from up there and see something."
She shrugged, showing her irritation at him blowing her off by her indifference.  "I guess," she mumbled.
He popped open a panel on his supply belt and readied his magnet grappler, clicking it into the barrel of his cannon-arm.  He extended his arm, and she stepped up beside him, hanging on as he shot the chain.  It thunked into the ceiling, and he reeled it in.  They rose, suspended over the lava.
"Well," the girl said, looking around.  "It looks the same.  Smooth move, brilliant.  Now let's check out that crack."
He scowled slightly, but shot another grappling magnet onto a metal panel by the door.  Cutting off the magnetic charge in the first grappler, they swung back to the entrance and dropped to the ground.
The girl pulled out a metal contraption.  As she unfolded it, the boy continued to scan the room.  She straightened and hefted the weight of the metal arrow in her hand.
"What are you gonna do, shoot it?" He asked incredulously.
Her blue eyes closed halfway in a derogatory look.  "Of course not," she responded.  "Hand me a hand bomb."
He did, and she started to bind it onto the shaft of the arrow.  "You see, we shoot it with this, and on impact, the bomb will explode, widening the crack, and we can see what's in there."
He rolled his eyes but refrained from responding negatively.
She took his cannon arm, and loaded in the metal arrow, and let fly.
Nothing happened.
"Well?" the boy asked, crossing his arms once again.
"Well what?" she asked, turning on him.
"Are you going to shoot that one too?" He asked, thumbing behind him.
She glanced up, and saw there was another crack.  Her gaze fell to him, and settled on the bomb in his good hand.  Without a word, she strapped it to another arrow and he shot it at the crack.
A crunching, grinding sound met their ears, and two halves of a giant stone slab fell from each wall, crashing into the lava pool.  Blocks flew, one crashing to a stop by the two.  They jumped back.  Magma splashed and lapped at the edge of the floor.
After the chaos of the room subsided to the gentle slap of lava against the stone, the boy let out a chuckle.  "Well, then.  That's one way to get across."
The girl looked at it, towering above them.  "But there's no way we could . . ." she trailed off as the boy readied his grappler one again.
He extended his hand to his companion, smiling cordially.  "Shall we?"
She smiled a little, and took his hand.
They dropped onto the slab from the blue spots above.  Two chambers sat where the slabs had been, and in one of them was a small chest.  Jogging up to it, the boy kicked the old lock and the girl opened it.  "Great!  A compass!  We needed this!" she exclaimed, grinning at him.  "Now we'll be able to make our way through here way easier!"
 The boy grinned, and they headed across the platform.  Looking down, the boy tilted his head, covered in spiky white hair.  "I don't think we can jump down from here," he said.
"But you can over here," the girl responded, clambering down a rough part in the stone to land on a jutting hump just above the lava.  He followed, and they hopped from block to block towards the exit.
"Watch for lava bubbles," the boy called to her amiably.
She laughed, they pushed the round door open together, and headed off to the next room, not looking back.
And the doors still stared.



Today I Killed The Sun
July 23rd, 2010

Today I killed the sun
The moon wanders ‘round, disconsolate, after the day’s begun
She’s lost without him to lead her
                The stars are staring down upon me, scowling, all a ‘whisper
They don’t know it’s an accident
                It was all a petty mishap, I swear upon the sky, an innocent incident
But as the people wake today
                Across the world, in the city and the country, by mountain and bay
They’ll scratch their heads
                Look up, and down, and all around, and wander back to bed
They’ve got no idea, you see,
                This curious darkness and forever night, was caused my little old me.
So we’ll keep it a secret, you and I—
                No one has to know—it was an accident today that the sun had to die.


That Easy Smile
August 5, 2010

Your teasing, melodious tone is what made me look up from my work as you entered the café . . . but it wasn’t what made me look again.
You were tall, with light blonde, wind-fashioned hair, and your eyes were a clear, contemplative blue, the blue found deep in the sea-ice of the arctic.  Your face was finely molded, skin light, eyelashes as dark as night, a look of carefree life written across your face.
But what made me look again?  It would have to be your smile.  That easy smile, that lit up all of your handsome features.  Somehow it felt out of place, foreign to your eyes.
I looked again because I read in your eyes that you were hiding behind that slight, enigmatic smile.  You were running from something, hiding from it.  Your expression was just that—outward, a front.  You were a grand actor in a marvelous play, an actor who had a past off a stage that he was trying to leave behind.  But you couldn’t leave it behind.
It was then that you looked up, and whether you meant to or not, caught my eye.  You smiled at me, then, and your eyes closed—easily—effortlessly.  A grand actor.
When you opened them again, you didn’t expect what you saw.  There was no mirror, not mask of a cheerful smile or a dip of my head.  Right then, as I realized the things you were running from, and how you hated running, I hurt for you.  It pained me, but I smiled back, a smile of sadness and sympathy.  Tears came to my eyes.
Your smile faltered.  Your clear, blue eyes went wide, and blinked, as you realized I could see behind your smile.  For an instant, your mask was gone.  You were vulnerable, discovered—free of that oppressive, easy smile.
Then, slowly, though only a moment had passed, a smile returned to your face.  But it wasn’t the same—you had, as I had, read my eyes, and you smiled at me out of understanding, and empathy, and acceptance of the truth.  You weren’t hiding behind anything then—just a human being, openly hurting and admittedly hiding from everything hurtful.
You looked away, spoken to by a companion, and your smile was back, your mask, your façade.
I knew, then, as I watched you talk to your companions airily, that something bad awaited you in the future.  I didn’t know what, or how, or when, but I knew.  A part of me wanted to leap up, to run to you, clasp your hands and warn you, beg you not to go.  I feared for you.  But I knew if I had, you would have offered your easy smile in return.
And though I feared, I was assured by a feeling, deep inside, that, in the end, it would all turn out okay.  Things might get worse, but they would get better, and you would stand through it all.  As you left the café, that one thought kept me from running to you.
I hope that one day, Fay, your smile will be sincere.




Guess Who’s Getting Married?
August 10, 2010

I crashed into the house.  “Mom!!  Mom!!”  I yelled, hurling myself through the entryway.  My hat fell from my head, and I ran back to get it, ignoring the confused looks from my younger brothers, Christopher and Michael.  Chris, at the computer, was watching me confusedly, the chat box on his Facebook filling up from messages from one of his teenage friends.   Michael rolled his eyes from on the couch and went back to taking notes from Milton’s Major Works.  “I’m trying to study,” he said, as if it wasn’t the most obvious thing in the world, and I didn’t know he was getting ready for his first final as a freshman in college.
I was too excited to care.  “Have you guys seen mom?!” I demanded, a wild grin on my face.
Chris shook his head, trying to figure out what on earth I was so ecstatic over.  “I mean, she might be upstairs—” he started.
“Kaythanks!” I responded, whirling around and tromping up the stairs two at a time.  Somehow I heard Michael grumbling downstairs, “you’d think he’s won the lottery or something...”
But what I’d won was very much better than the lottery.  All the doors upstairs were open, including the one I used to share with Isaac.  Now it was cluttered with Christopher’s stuff, with clothes, cords and socks all over the floor.  “Mom!?”  I called, racing into her room.  I couldn’t wait to tell her the news, but it was spotless, as usual, and she wasn’t there.
I ricocheted back down the stairs.  Michael was glaring at me as a rounded the corner of the stairway.  “Could you try a little harder not to impersonate a herd of elephants while I’m trying to concentrate?”
“She’s not there,” I told my brothers, ignoring Michael.  Ever since he entered college he thought himself smarter than the rest of the world, but since I had such fantastic news, I didn’t even care.  “Is she out?”
Just then the door opened.  I propelled myself around the corner, expecting my mother.  “Mom?!”  I called, bursting to tell her.
Instead I was face to face with my older brother, Isaac.  He was laden with grocery bags and looked surprised to see me.  “Oh, hi, Jimmy.  You stopped by for a visit?”
I was surprised to see him as well.  He had left for seminary after graduating the local bible college, and I hadn’t expected to see him today, since he had moved so far away.  I didn’t want anything to get in the way of my objective, however.  “Yep. Is Mom with you?”  I asked rapidly, trying to look past him.  He, being a full head or so taller than me, completely blocked my view of the door by his broad shoulder.
He laughed.  “It’s good to see you too, little bro,” he responded, a hint of sarcasm in his tone.  “Yeah, she’s here.”  I heard the door close and darted around him to meet my mother.
She was there, carrying her purse under her arm.  She was sliding her glasses into the pocket, her keys in her other hand, and glanced up.  “Oh, hello Jimmy!  I wasn’t expecting to see you today!”
“Guess what!?”  I demanded, unable to keep it in any longer.  I grabbed both of her hands, bursting with excitement.  Her keys fell to the ground, and her eyes darted to them briefly but met mine so I could tell her this marvelous thing I was clearly so worked up about.  Christopher appeared in the entryway doorframe, no doubt curious as to why I was so absurdly thrilled.  Behind him, in spite of himself, was Michael.
“What?” She asked, eyes sparkling with excitement.
“SHE SAID YES!!!”  I practically yelled it.   “Can you believe it?!”  I picked up my small mother and spun her around, hysterical with excitement.  “She said yes, just like that!  Melanie said yes!!”  I set her down and grinned.  “Isn’t that wonderful?!”
“Yes!  Yes, it is, Jimmy,” she responded, at first sounding sincere, then glancing at Isaac.
Remembering him, I turned around.  “Isaac!” I said.  “Isn’t that great?!”
He blinked, once, then twice, looking past me.  His mouth was slightly open, but then he closed it and clenched his jaw.  He moved into the other room, silently, without a word.  Christopher and Michael moved out of his way and disappeared into another room, abandoning Facebook and Milton.  Mom, with a sympathetic look on her face, picked up her keys.
“Isaac?”  I asked, following him slowly into the kitchen. 
He set his bags on the counter and began unloading them onto the counter, focusing on the groceries, jaw still clenched.  He said nothing.
 I hadn’t expected him to react this way.  I had thought that he might have been upset, but I hadn’t ever seen him act like this—silent and brooding.  It was like he was trying to punish me for asking the girl of my dreams to marry me.  I felt, for a moment, upset at his reaction, but realized I needed to be mature and pushed it away.  That was hard.
Mom was in the doorway now, and from the corner of my eye I saw her open her mouth to say something.
“It’s okay, Mom,” I replied.  “Why don’t you go upstairs.”  It wasn’t a question.
She still wanted to speak, but closed her mouth, nodded, and went up the stairs.
“Isaac?” I asked again, more quiet.  “Isaac, aren’t you happy for me?”
He put a can in the pantry, actions deliberate and slow.  He turned, and his eyes met mine.  They were angry, angry and accusing.  He was silent, though his eyes dared me to say anything else.
I reached for a can, unsure of what to say.  Isaac moved quickly and pulled it away from me, like a small boy stealing a car from the kid it belonged to.  I didn’t pursue it.  His eyes were still trained on mine, bitter and resentful.
Isaac still glared at me as he worked, putting away the groceries slowly and deliberately.  I stood my ground, letting him glare at me and my last question hanging in the silence.
I wasn’t sure, and I’m still not, if I would rather just have had him hit me.  The silence was heavy and oppressive.  I wasn’t sure how to react.  If he had hit me I could have dodged, replied, stood still . . . but in the silence, I was slightly lost.  So I stood, not letting my insecurities show, and let him have his silence.  I had said my word.
He came to the counter, opposite me.  He leaned forward, until his face was level with mine, and replied, with clenched teeth, “Yes.
Then he turned away, but I saw the pain and tears in his eyes anyway.  I felt bad, horrible, for asking Melanie to marry me while Isaac was away at seminary.  But it was bound to happen—there wasn’t any way to break it more gently to my older brother.
“I’m sorry,” I responded, starting to relent.
“I don’t need your sympathy,” he responded, his back turned to me.  His tone, slightly vehement, showed he was struggling.  “Do you love her?”
“I—“ I started, not wanting to lie, but wanting to be considerate.
“Do you love her.”  This time each word was a statement, a demand.
I closed my eyes.  “Yes.”
“Does she love you?” He asked, almost choking on the last word.
I clenched my eyes closed tighter.  “Yes.”
“Well.  Then.”  He let out a breath.  After a moment he continued.  “Then get married.  I want you to be happy.”
I opened my eyes and looked up at him, disbelieving.  His back was still towards me, his arms stiff at his sides.
“I mean it.”  He added, as if reading my mind.
I smiled, but just slightly.  I hadn’t been expecting that, either.  “... Thanks,” I responded after a moment.
“Hey,” he said.  “It’s your life.”
My smile grew, but only a little.  He turned, and I stuck out my hand.
We shook.
Mother reappeared from upstairs, and Christopher and Michael emerged from the library.  They gathered around me congratulating me, but my eyes were still locked on Isaac’s.
He smiled, and we celebrated.  Together.




The Common Dream
August 13, 2010

There is a place we all wish to go
Lover and enemy, friend and foe
It mustn’t be acknowledged
Or realized—or found
But, in each and every soul
The desire had taken hold
To go—or to be taken
Or to travel, yet unshaken
To go, or bring, or to be brought
To this place: yet untaught
We know of; yet unspoken
We hear or; yet unbroken
We ache for; yet unrequited
We dream of; unadmitted,
Undesired, uncontrolled and unpermitted
It takes hold of every soul, uninvited
And yet—in many cases
And behind so many faces
No chance is given—
Brought or driven—
Into their path—to get there—
Perhaps, the one thing we care
For, and dream of, and long for

Some may never live to see their dream become something more.




Questions
August 13, 2010

A pretense—
A thrill—
A desire—
A will—
An inflection—
A tone—
A hint—
A groan—
A bigger picture—
A lie—
A secret—
An effort not to cry—
A joke—
A laugh—
An attempt to evoke
A feeling, response—
A sneer—
A challenge—
A call to be near—
A wish,
And a dream—
So many things, to see or to miss
Hiding behind questions—simple, to seem
And yet, if overlooked,
Or unheard—
Misunderstood—
Can turn one insane—




Tortures Mathematic
August 17, 2010

I hate it because it is boring.
I hate it because it is dross.
I have it because it’s the only thing
in my school day to make me so cross.

I hate it because it’s so irksome.
It makes me grumble and sigh.
I hate each and every conundrum
that provokes me to give up and cry.

I hate every scribble and symbol;
hate them with all of my might!
They confuse me so—It’s not simple!
Oh, please, get it out of my sight!

It knows what I don’t,
yet expects me to get it.
It says, ‘you will’ and I won’t—
don’t regret it!

I’m really quite simple and easy to please
when given assignments of science or rhetoric.
I will not complain or get down on my knees—
Unless you pursue me with tortures mathematic!



Burnt
August 24, 2010

We’ve burned down the bridges
And now I’m standing on the bank
Looking back on all that we’ve destroyed
together
And for the first time I wonder
If this is really what we’re supposed to do
The charred remains hiss into the water
Destroying all the ties
We spend our time running
running
running
from it all
And now there’s no way back



Blood
September 7, 2010

Blood
trickling
in around through
dripping
out down away
Across my face
and it falls to the Ground
and the ground licks it up
thirsty Unforgiving

I don’t understand.

Blood
oozing
down down down
halting
down out down
from my Eyes
are crying tears of Blood
and no one comprehends
they do not try

No one realizes

Blood
tearing
out out out
pushing
out through out
from my Aching wounds
it wants to see the light
the Light I was a part
of; apart from

that me against the world means

Blood
flowing
through through through
leaving
through soft through
I never thought
Ends this way before
cold thirsty ground
devours the Ichor

no one is on your side.



White Hunter in a World of Grey
September 9, 2010

He sat on a hill.  The city, splayed out before him, was a dingy iron, steel and concrete garden, a hazy miasma rising from it languidly.  Silver cars zipped along the faded streets, but he only half watched over the rim of his computer screen.
His hair, which usually shone a pale ichor, was overcast, like the sky he fixed his gaze on.  His eyes also took on the lackluster hue of the clouds reflected in them, and his emotions hid behind the veiled green irises.  He looked at the city, disgust flickering behind his eyes for a moment before he turned his attention to his laptop resting on his crossed legs.
“Not here either,” he murmured, marking the name off his list.  He propped himself up on his hands as he leaned backwards.  The light from the screen illuminated part of his shirt, showing its true color to be not the shadowed perse it appeared, but cool white.  The sun failed to meet his calculating gaze as it hid from his pale face behind the cloak of the rainclouds.
“My leads were wrong,” he added to himself, looking beyond the sky.  His voice was quiet and thoughtful.  It was hard to tell if he was upset or relieved.
A smile came to his lips.  A curse escaped them, mocking his seemingly collected demeanor.  Almost as if he was talking to someone else, he said, “This is frustrating.  You’re becoming quite the escape artist, aren’t you?  You’re just prolonging the inevitable, you know.  I think we both do, by now.”
Looking back to his screen, he pulled up the name of his next destination and began to read.  “Named after the age-old fortress the city was built around . . . the tallest tower is over four stories high and 700 years old . . .” He allowed himself a chuckle, humorless.  “You think that will protect you, huh?  Well, I hate to break it to you, but not much can protect you now.  I think I almost have you, and no fortress of any kind can help you if I do.”
His slight smile disappeared as he looked up to the washed-out sky.  “Though it would be nice if there was one, hmm?” he asked himself.
Thunder rumbled in the dark sky, and he picked himself up off of the grass.  Snapping the griseous notebook closed, he tucked it under his arm and started down the hill, continuing the never-ending hunt.
The grey world started to cry.



Strength and Fortitude
September 10, 2010

They call me strong
But sometimes I wonder
If stubborn is the same,
In essence, and
Fortitude as failure?

It’s something all want
Every boy, and every girl
It’s something good, something
Treasured, something precious
Desired and longed for

But I don’t know
Is my world backwards?
Upside-down?
Because from what I’ve
Seen of it, I’m not sure.

I see hurt, and I see
Heartache, I see
Pain and I see fear
I see nightmares
And cold lonely evenings

And while they tell me,
“It’s not like that.”
I’m still not at ease
I’m not self-reliant
I’m just terrified

They call me strong
But I’m not sure
Fear alone is in my eyes
And I don’t trust you
When you say
                “It will be all right.”
Caley’s Song
September 11, 2010

I have a secret
[I despise myself
With fervor inexplicable]

Sometimes I wish I could tell it
[My whole life is a lie
I’m not who you think]

But then, considering, I know
[If you could be happy
Knowing I’m not dead]

I’d be transformed, a friend to a foe
[You all only love me
For who I pretend to be]

If the truth comes out, I will stay silent
[Not for my sake
But for yours]

And hope you can see past the lies to my bent
[I’m killing myself for you
Every single day]

But I’ll pray you’ll never see
[Not for your sake
But for mine]

The one you call beloved son is really just me
[I’ve dug myself too deep
And now there are no happy endings]



My Icarus
September 21, 2010

I tried to create a way of escape
Anything to get us out of this room
But a release I failed to make
And it only led to your doom.
It could have been great, but it only led to your doom.

I was granted a glimpse of the sky today
The great watchet expanse up above
I turned away, with a pang
It and I are to blame-- It, I and my love.
It, the idea; me, the conception; and blinding, inspiring: my love.

It told of your eyes—your clear, happy eyes
That twinkled with love and with life
Never a day was spent in dismay
Not a look tinged or singed with strife—
Ever you sang, and ever I worked, without a trace of that strife.

It told of your smile, your spirit and laugh
We were kept prisoner?  Oh no—
Not at all!  We were on a path, but together—
What do we reap when we sow?
Remind me, my dear, what is it we reap when we sow?

“What we’ve done,” I had told you,
Looking up from my work for a moment—
A glance—to look up at you, bright-eyes,
Before hammering a scrap I had rent
Before hammering down iron feathers made to be rent

“Exactly,” you beamed, grinning at me.
“So we’ll sow wonderful things—fanciful things, and beautiful.
If love’s what we sow, and brilliancy,
We’ll reap just the same: We’ll reap flowers, and angels, and stars.
We’ll reap handfuls of rainbows and baskets and baskets of stars.”

You were just fine, with that smile that you wear
Even though we’re forbidden to leave—
Even when the room seemed quite empty and bare--
And I was so busy at work.
So busy, and bustling, and missing your face, all for that cursed work.

I wanted freedom—the light and the air.
“Oh come now,” you said, pointing up,
“Come just here, stand with me, there’s enough sun to share.”
But it wasn’t enough, not for me.
I wanted it all, for the both of us—but mostly just for me.

So I made up a plan—we would take to the sky
And you, since you loved me, went along.
As I hammered and snapped, I never dreamed you might——
But it’s over now, and it’s done.
It’s over, and through, and there’s not much to do; because it is over and done.

And here I am, all alone in our room
Though I turn from the sky, you still linger
By the door, barred and locked, by the desk—
I can see you move my plans with your finger.
I watch you brush my parchments with your spectral finger—

I remember telling you, “Things are going
To change now, for the better,” standing here in this very room
But now you are gone, and I am here
By myself in the sunshine and gloom.
You have flown, and have fallen, and I am alone in the gloom.



Blaine, Nikola and Vacations
September 26th, 2010

Nikola flopped into a U-shaped grey vinyl chair.  “I need a vacation,” she announced, one leg thrown over the armrest.
Blaine glanced up from where he was sitting primly in another chair, directing his attention away from his Apple.  He picked up his latte from the little black table to his left and took a small sip. “Hmm?” he responded, acknowledging the fact he heard her.
I looked up from a book, my eyebrows drawn together perplexedly.  “Uh, why?” I asked her.
She kicked her leg slightly, the black leather boot bouncing up and down. “’Cuz I deserve it,” she responded levelly.
Blaine let out a little characteristic chuckle, a lot like a short sigh.  “You?  Deserve a vacation?  Since when?” He set his coffee cup down on the table, his long fingers sliding over the lid as he pulled his hand away.
I raised a comma-shaped eyebrow, wondering the exact same thing.
Nikola tilted her head in a little shrug, blinking.  Her short black hair swayed as she fixed him with her gaze.  “Hey, I’ve always deserved a vacation.  I just think it’s about time I got one.” She crossed her arms.  The black sleeves of her dress were rolled up as usual.  She looked like a shard of obsidian, dark and unfriendly.
Blaine chuckled, and once again I was struck at how different they were.  Nikola was small, petite, and tan.  Her feet were shod in folded-over boots, her dress knee-length and flowy, with a floppy neck and a sash, and both matched her hair and eyes: black, as dark as night.  She was splayed on the chair, an air of rebellion hanging about her, but she barely took up any of it rather unimposingly. 
Blaine, on the other hand, was built like a dancer.  Tall and thin, he was pale, and wearing a white and light blue straight-cut shirt.  His long legs were crossed in sharp black slacks, and his bright green eyes watched her clearly under his white-blonde, fine hair.  He wore a slight smile, as ever, though the entire world amused him somehow. He looked relaxed, and easy, and even though I knew it was just an act, I felt like I could be comfortable around him somehow.
I was slightly surprised when he didn’t assent to say anything in reply, and Nikola continued speaking to me.  “I mean, we’re always working and doing stuff for you, but we never get a break.  I’d appreciate a nice vacation.”
I drew my eyebrows together in consternation and replied, “Don’t make me laugh, Nikola.  You don’t appreciate anything; you just take it.  And quite obviously you characters have the harder end of the deal.  You just have to tell me your story, and I’m the one who has to write it down without sounding like a crazy idiot author, and make both of you look good at the same time.”
“I like the idea,” Blaine decided, ignoring me.  “It could be nice.”
Nikola nodded.  “Told you I’m right.”
I blinked in utter surprise.  Wait, I thought, they just agreed on something. Without yelling at each other first.  No way. Go back.
I drew my eyebrows together in consternation when Blaine interrupted anything I might say.
“You have a point there.  It’s not like you don’t ever get to take a vacation,” he added, looking to me.
“Hey, wait, you’re siding with her?  You guys, like, hate each other,” I reminded him.
He shrugged.  “Just because she has the biggest ego in the planet doesn’t mean she can’t occasionally be something close to correct.”
Nikola just rolled her eyes.
“By close to correct, I mean that she doesn’t deserve a vacation, but I’d take one.”
Here Nikola glared at him.  “Hey, it was my idea.”
He smiled, like he knew he had the upper hand. “But I’ve had a harder life,” he responded, voice unconvincingly light.
“I live on the streets and steal for a living,” she spat.
“You have a fortune in jewels and gold you’ve stolen and you know it,” he replied breezily. “My life is ridden with angst and self-hate, murdered brothers and revenge.”
Nikola raised her eyebrows.  “So you’re saying that she’ll” (here she thumbed at me) “just let you go because of problems she created for you?”
“No, she’ll let me go for an entirely different reason.”
“And what is that?”
“I’m a guy,” he told her.
Her glare evolved into a harsh glower. “So you’re saying you deserve to go just because you happen to be male?”
He chuckled, grinning.  “No, she’ll let me go because I have her wrapped around my little finger.”
Nikola let out an incredulous noise.  “You’re her character.
Blaine shrugged.  “She still loves me.”
“Uh, guys,” I said, tone flat.  “I’m right here.”
Nikola looked mad enough to spit venom.  “You disgust me, you sick-minded jerk,” she said spitefully.
He laughed.  “You’re just jealous.  If you were a guy she would love you too.”
Nikola rolled her eyes, now looking disgusted.  “She already does.  It’s not like I could make her stop if I wanted to.”
He raised a fine eyebrow.  “So I’m sick-minded for wanting to manipulate her, but you’re all right for despising her?”
Nikola considered this.  “Yes.”
“Isn’t that kind of like the pot calling the kettle black?”
“No.”
I rolled my eyes.  “Both of you are pathetic,” I responded.
They both turned and looked at me, remembering I was present.
“Not as pathetic as you,” Nikola said.
“You’re the author,” Blaine shrugged at the same instant.
I sighed.  “Why are both of you so impossible?”
Blaine shrugged.  “You made us, remember?  Or should I say, half-dreamt us up, as one of us isn’t even original?”
Nikola pshed.  “She didn’t make me up,” she replied confidently.
A devious idea popped into my mind.  “So if I give you guys a vacation, would you two shut up for a while?”
They both looked at me warily.  “Perhaps,” Blaine said cautiously.
“Alright.  A vacation.  The only condition is that you have to go together,” I beamed at them.
Blaine’s eyes went wide.  “With her?” he demanded.  “I’d rather be put in a dark room and have water dripped on my head until I lose my mind,” he stated definitively.
“Chinese water torture,” Nikola murmured, smirking a little.  “Could be arranged.”
“Did you even hear what she proposed?” he responded irritably.
“Yes.”
He looked at her blankly, waiting for elaboration.
“I’d rather die,” she added with finite certainty.
I smiled, and just like that the subject of vacations was dropped.



Fears and Failure
October 4th, 2010

 “What is your character afraid of?” I read out loud.  “Failure?”  I tried not to laugh.  The writer of this article had some great things to say, but my characters being afraid of failure?  I doubted Nikola had ever failed at all, much less been afraid of failure.  Has she? I wondered.
No, she inserted in my mind.
Blaine, who was never far away when Nikola decided to speak, scoffed.  Of course you haven’t, he said, his voice sarcastic, because in order to fail, you have be trying not to.
Exactly, she responded levelly.
I knew his eyebrows went up, because mine did along with them.  What do you mean, Nikola? I asked, curious.
If I have no objective, I can’t fail, she reasoned. I never try hard enough at anything that there’s any space I can fail.  If something goes wrong, it isn’t failure, because I’m not in a position where failure is possible.
I drew my eyebrows together.  That doesn’t make very much sense, I thought.  I mean, if you put yourself only in positions where you can’t fail, then how can you do anything?
I felt that she shrugged a little. I don’t let myself believe something won’t go wrong. So if it does, in this prospective arena you call ‘failure’, then it isn’t failure in my mind.  It’s just something that happened.  I always come out on top, so there’s no such thing as failure to me.
I thought about this, trying to puzzle though it.  So even if you’re trying to steal the jewels from the queen’s crown, and somehow they catch you, that’s not failure? I asked, attempting to understand.
Nope, she said.  That’s just a setback.  I’ll get out, and steal the jewels, and in the end that wouldn’t be a failure at all, would it?
I started to reply when my brother looked over at me.  “Is there a problem?” he asked, noting my puzzled expression.
“Nope, I’m good,” I responded, letting the expression slip.  I went back to conversing with Nikola.  So you don’t fear failure because you just keep going until it’s no longer a failure?
She considered, and shrugged.  Something like that.
I narrowed my eyes.  You’re being awfully understanding today, I said cautiously.
She shrugged again.  Well, you don’t really have the concept.  It’s a lot more complicated than that, but I don’t think you’d understand it if I explained it.
I rolled my eyes.  That’s more like it.
I realized Blaine had been oddly silent.  What about you?  I asked him.  What’s failure to you?
He let out a little half-amused, half-irked huff.  Failure?  That would be the definition of my life.
Nikola rolled her eyes this time.  You’re so dramatic.  Give me a break.
I’m being serious here, he responded with gravitas.  My brother got killed, and now I’m pursuing his killer.  The whole ordeal is about ten years stale, and the only clues I have are those that I remember as a traumatized child.  I’ve assumed my dead brother’s identity and killed my own, so I can’t be transparent or real with anyone, and everything I do, say, or act is a lie.  I’m running from my family and avoiding everyone who may know them because I got sick of lying to them.  I can’t go back and tell them I’m really their ‘dead’ son, and I can’t drop the whole thing or stop following the killer because I have a sense of duty to my brother and a desire for revenge on the guy for ruining my life, though I really ruined my life myself as a child. He sighed.  That story basically means that I’m destined to fail.  I don’t really see how you can ever get me out of it.
I sighed too.  I’m sure we’ll think of something, I responded, rather hopelessly.
Uh, yeah, he said, voice dismal. Like I really believe that any more.
We sat in silence for a moment, both depressed.
Nikola stirred in my mind.  You two are morons, she said nonchalantly.  I don’t get why you depress yourselves for fun.  So Caley is failure defined, and it’s all your fault.  And?
I glared at her.  Nikola, don’t ever go into counseling, I told her sharply.
Blaine actually cracked a smile. Think of the suicide rates, he agreed.
I chuckled.  Poor kids.  I can only imagine: You’re an idiot.  Go ahead and beat yourself up over it.  There’s a gun in that cabinet, but pay me if you decide you’re going to shoot yourself.
Nikola rolled her eyes. Yeah, like you’d ever catch me pinned down in an office of any kind.  I’d rather die.
Yeah, Blaine replied emphatically, Good thing, too.
I smiled, and my brother looked over at me again.  “Whatcha smiling at?” he asked, curious.
“Nothing,” I said.  “You wouldn’t get it.”  And isn’t that the truth.
What, your brother doesn’t laugh at two idiots going back and forth? Nikola commented.
No, Blaine replied, because he thinks it’s impolite to laugh at a lack of intelligence, especially if it’s two girls.
Again with the gender differences?  Really, Caley, I’d think you could be more original.  Haven’t you heard anything better in your world travel? Nikola responded coolly.
No, I’m sorry, he said, that was an original.
Oh. She stated.  That explains a lot. Does your intelligence level really go down that far after you upset yourself?
Good grief, you guys, I told them before Blaine could keep it going.  Stop being so juvenile.
For once they listened to me, and they stopped talking.



Carving
October 29th, 2010

I pick up my knife
                ready to carve
A man
                a beast
                                a moon
I watch as the image
                takes shape beneath
                                my hands
I peel back the layers
                refine the lines
I etch out a scene
                and a thought
I put down my knife
                and look at my
                                creation
Hmm...
                Maybe I ought
                                to only carve pumpkins
                                                and leave the apples
                                                                unmarred



Cold Nights
October 29th, 2010

These bright stars
are so cold
They cease to shine
as they drift down
The cold wind
rushes past
And I shiver
as it goes by
The dark sky
looms above
And drops the stars
into my lap
This fall night
                I’m alone
I could stay here
                until the end
And dew forms
                by my feet
All is silent
                I cease to breathe
So I spare
                the darkness



Madness is a Lonely Road
November 5th, 2010

Madness is a lonely road—
I played on it, as a child.
They saw the ill that it forebode
As I rode creatures, great and wild

They caught me back to their arms;
They smothered me with kisses.
They kept me from roads and their harms
I craved that road and its blisses.

It is not a road to them—
Just a condition, greatly feared.
They see grey hard rock and not gem
Watched my actions, chartered and tiered

They began to change, then:
They were monsters, not close friends.
They were tyrants, and cruel—not men—
I closed up, protect and defend

Oh, how I wait for the day
When they leave me for their den
And then, like the night, I’ll slip away
And I’ll ride my creatures, wild, again

Madness is a lonely road—
But it is suited to me.
They can’t win me from my abode,
And I am finally free.



Screen Windows are Secret Magic
December 11, 2010

Screen windows
are the only thing between us
My fingers
and yours
rest on each other
And the night is balmy
and calm
You chuckle
and I can’t help but laugh
Though not at anything in particular
It’s July and that’s
reason enough
(That and
we’re together)







Best Friends
December 21, 2010

She was only twelve when he came into her life
Her best friend was seventeen and obsessed with the word ‘wife’
It didn’t take a full day for the bug to take
And soon she was dreaming of him and weekends at the lake

And then the truth came out, and he got kind of scared
And in a game of truth and dare, decision he got dared
He said he’d like the best friend if it came to that
Best friend was forgiven, but any male must be a rat

It’s been four years and now she feels confusion
She’s met guys and wonders is what she wants what she’s chosen
She’s still holding back ‘cause she’s feared and she’s afraid
Holding down her heart, stuck inside the shield she made

She’s asking
What is love
Can anyone tell me
What is love
Or are scoundrels all they’ll ever be

She was only seven when her dad just walked away
Leaving her alone and hurting on that unfaithful day
She had no direction or plan for her future
Her mother gave up and chose to forget how to nurture

Now she’s twenty-one and she really gets around
She leads even a smooth guy on without a single sound
And she knows while she’s telling lies and breaking hearts
She knows she’s learned her hated father’s so much hated arts

The most broken heart of all is behind the kiss
She’ll have another drink to disguise all she knows she’s missed
She cries at home when they proclaim them ‘man and wife’
And she craves what can’t be named as she clutches tight the knife

She’s asking
What is love
Can anyone tell me
What is love
Or is alone all I’ll ever be

She grew up in the perfect place and perfect home
Complete with dad, mom, brothers, picket fence and garden gnome
Confident in who she is aside from some doubts
But those are daily combated by the Truth her heart shouts

She knows that she’s better off than her two best friends
She thinks that they were happy with their harmful trends
Or convinced herself of it so she doesn’t have to see
That hurting friends can help them become all they want to be

Unimposing, she keeps religion in a box
She tells herself they might catch it like the measles or pox
But she’s a 2D Christian, content on her flat, fake plane
In Tolerance’s name, she’s quiet and thus is inhumane

She’s whisp’ring
I know Love
Though I keep Him just for me
I know Love
But safe is all I want to be

At these three friends we’ll look, a few years down the road
They each continued in their habits, stuck in auto-mode
They’ve made their decisions, and paid the prices
They each tried to work out their lives with their own devices

One dies post a life alone
The other takes her own
The last lives her life ‘fulfilled’
Not knowing what she killed


Shoreline
December 25, 2010

She’s been walking for a long time.
She can’t remember how long, exactly.  She remembers leaving her house—packing her small bag, slipping on her shoes, and starting off.  She didn’t know where she was going.  Though she told herself not to, she looked over her shoulder.  The house was lonely, but she couldn’t fix that.
And now she’s walking.  All the days meshed together, and the thing that’s most real to her now is the pain in her feet.  She finds it hard to get used to.
The sand is hard to walk in, but it’s all that surrounds her.
The house was empty when she left it.  There wasn’t anything left for her, not after it was all said and done.  It didn’t matter, though—not to her.  She had decided long before that she was leaving.
Where was the only thing she wasn’t sure of.
That didn’t matter, though.  At first it was all beautiful, achingly so.  There was a solemn sepia beauty surrounding her, regret in the midst of perfection.
It didn’t matter what was regretted, either.
The regret remained, when the way became gritty and cold.  Though the sun hid behind the clouds, it never really left, and since it was there, all was still painfully beautiful.
She never knew where she was going.
She doesn’t know where she is going.
But, being led, it doesn’t matter.  She’s not at all apprehensive—just open and raw to the throbbing, lovely world around her.
She is the sand, now.  She’s walked through it so long that she and it are one.  They exist, together, each apart from and a part of the exquisite universe.
In the sand she is her finest.
She’s forgotten others.
But then, they forgot her.
She’s content.
That is what matters.




Nature is Kind to Those who
January 2, 2011

I have no memories of winter.
 They’re not there.  My childhood was summer, summer, summer.  I can’t ever remember putting on a jacket, playing in the snow, drinking hot chocolate, singing carols.  I had no being in winter.
It’s not as though we don’t have winter here.  We’re the middle of the country.  We have four seasons.
But not me.  I’m the only one with only summer.
Winter did not exist.
Snow is not new, but I can’t remember playing in it as a child.  I don’t remember sticking my tongue out as other kids do, catching a flake on my tongue, enjoying its icy magnificence for just an instant before it disappeared from existence.  There were no snowmen, no snowballs, no lights.
I do remember running in the sun, catching toads, going for hikes, picnics, amusement parks, watermelon.  I remember beaches and shorts.
It’s as though any and all memories of winter have just dissapeared.  I know because I’ve tried to remember, and tried.  My mind has blocked them out.
I can’t imagine why.
Unless it has something to do with my going to stay with you every winter.
In which case, I’m afraid to ask you and your big smile exactly what you did to me in the snowy months my parents abandoned me.



Anywhere
January 4, 2011

Once
upon
a time
I thought that I belonged
I thought there was a place for me
but
now
that I
that I really look around
I’m beginning to think
No
I
won’t lie
I won’t lie to spare myself
I’m beginning to realize
that
maybe
no one
no one really belongs here
Nor anywhere
at all
Atlantis
January 4, 2011

I didn’t know there was anything wrong with the way we lived until I walked hand in hand with my mother through the city one day.  It was empty, like it always is, and somewhere the whirr of the oxygen machines could be heard.
I was all right, kicking a pebble along, until I looked up at my mother.  Tears stood in her dark eyes.
“What’s wrong, mama?” I asked, pulling on her hand.
She looked down at me, smiling, and stroked my head.  My dark braid matched her own.
“Nothing, love,” she reassured me.
“Something’s wrong, mama.”  I wasn’t easily fooled.  “What’s the matter?”
She knelt beside me.  “I was just remembering, a very long time ago, when a lot of people lived here.”
“Like me and you?” I asked.
“And your daddy, yes,” she told me.  She looked off down the street, where tan sandy pillars stood.  She looked like she was seeing something else, with that faraway look in her eyes.  “A lot of people where here,” she repeated.
I didn’t like the look in her eyes.  I tugged on her hand again, so she looked to me.  “What happened, mama?” I asked.
Her smile was sad and sympathetic.  “They left, love.”
“All of them?” I looked up, where behind the glass wall dark water danced.  Occasionally a light beam would pierce through the infinite ocean above, making it appear less oppressive.  Occasionally schools of fish would dart by, their bellies flashing in our artificial light before they danced away.  All the sea creatures knew this place was foreign, and avoided it.
“All of them but me and your daddy.  And then you came along.”  She tweaked my nose.
“And then daddy left, right?”
She looked incredibly sad, and I wished I could take it back.  “Yes, and then daddy left.”
“Where did he go?”
“I’ve told you before,” she reminded me gently.  “He went away.  He was very sick, and he went somewhere to get better.”
“Why didn’t we go with him?” I asked, tilting my head.  I’d asked all the questions before. 
“Because we didn’t know where he was going.”
“Why didn’t he tell us?”
“He didn’t know either, love.”
“Oh.”  I looked at the tan sandy pillars.  I asked a question I hadn’t ever asked before.  “Where did all of the other people go?”
“They went back to where they came from.”
“Why didn’t they take us with them?” I asked, perplexed.
She sighed.  “Your daddy did something that they didn’t like very much, so they left us here when they went.”
“That wasn’t nice,” I said, pouting.
“Well, they thought he needed to be punished, just like you when you do something wrong.”
“Did Daddy do something wrong?” I implored, my eyes widening.
“No, my sweet.”  She stood and took my hand again.   We kept walking through the abandoned city streets.
“Didn’t they know that?”
“I told them,” she reassured me.  “I told them, but it’s too late now.”
I was silent for a minute, and then I perked up.  “Well, since Daddy is gone now, will they come and get us?”
She shook her head, the same sad smile making her beautiful features so tragic.
“Why not?” I gasped.
“They don’t know that we’re down here.”  Her voice wavered.  “They don’t know that we exist.”
She turned her head, so that I couldn’t see the tears that were threatening to spill out on her cheeks.
I still did.
That was the day that I first tried to understand:  our people had forsaken us.  They left us for paradise above, forgetting all about the city they left below the waters.
That was years ago.  Since then, my mother caught the same illness my father had died of when I was a small child.  I’m in my twenties now.  I never knew what my father did that was so awful our friends and family left us to die here in solitude.
Every day I walk the city streets, alone, hoping that somehow, someone might hear my silent cries for rescue.  But it’s like my mother said:  no one knows we exist down here.  They’ve forgotten us for their perfection.
There’s nothing for me to do but wait.
There’s nothing for me to wait for.




Cages
January 8, 2011

We live in cages.
Each of us, suspended over what is sure to be a bottomless pit, over darkness, over oblivion—in cages, alone.
But please, don’t feel sorry for us.
We make them, after all.
I live in a society where we build ourselves cages. We don’t do it because we have to—only because it’s something that we’ve always done.  You become an adult and you move into a cage.  For me, it was at age twelve.  A friend just got her cage, and she’s fourteen.  Some don’t get their cages until they’re almost twenty.
We all get them, though.
Sitting here, against the adobe coating the inside of the metal contraption, I have to think about this.  Looking around me, I can watch as others come to age.  We build them and we weep.  A life of captivity.  A nightmare.  We don’t want to live in these cages.  We don’t deserve to.  Life in a cage… what are we?  Are we animals to be contained? 
We are people.  We are human beings.  We should be out, and free, and alive.  Wonderfully uncaged.
I wept myself, while I pounded the iron and spread the adobe.  I wept for who I was becoming, and who I had to be, and who I was.  I wept because I had to enter the cage.
My pillar of ice was frozen.  I crouched on it, and wailed aloud, mourning it all.  Others, from their cages, cried with me.  We were the most pitiful of people.
I linked my cage to the iron chain, hanging there for that purpose, ascending into the blackness above, where no one know what lurked.  I climbed into my cage, utterly devastated, and sat down on the packed dirt to wait for the ice pillar under the cage to melt.
And now that it has, there isn’t any way to let myself out.
I’m trapped.
Captive.
In a cage that I created.
All of us build our cages and confine ourselves.
There isn’t a reason why.  We choose to.  We choose to be isolated, with the only other people so far away we can’t reach them or feel their warmth.  I can’t even see the faces of some.
And then we die, and sometimes, we feel like no one mourns.  Our bones lie inside cages, and no one notices.  After all, everyone is so far away.
We do notice, though.  We catch our friends die, and we cry for them—for them, and because we cannot get out of these cages to help.  We’re too stuck ourselves.
We’re stuck because we did it to ourselves.
We are a sad people, but we inflict the sorrow upon ourselves.
If we weren’t sad, who would we be?
Eventually, our cries change.  Some of us realize.  It’s our own fault.  We could be free.  And then our cries change:  we wish that we could have gone back to that day, when we crawled into our newly-dried cages, and locked the doors, and set the keys down on the ice pillars, to fall with our only escape.
There is no escape, now.
We weep, now, for we realize our mistake.
Don’t feel bad for us, though.  After all, your people does the same thing.

We thought that we had it all figured out
but we don’t know the half of it
and Somebody will come and save us all
and Somebody will come and let us out
let us out of our cages




One Weird Girl
January 17, 2011

I was normal until I met her.
I remember when she first came to sit by me.  I was alone at the lunch table, praying that no one was going to come and talk to me. Please, God, let me be invisible.  Don’t let them talk to me.  Don’t let them see me.  Just let me survive this day.
I didn’t have any friends; the school was a prison.  I was an inmate of the more curious kind—I ignored the kids that talked to me, hoping they would return the favor.  Sometimes they did.  Most of the time they did.
And then she came.
I didn’t notice her until she spoke.
“You’d think they’d serve actual food here,” she commented, judgmentally staring down a cheese puff trapped in between her black-nailed fingers.
I was startled by her appearance.  I hadn’t expected her at all.  I didn’t want to expect her.  And most of all, I didn’t want to talk to anyone—especially not anyone like her.
Her thick black make-up stood out against her pale skin, and the lime greens and neon blues of her eyeshadow did nothing but make her look like a character in a Japanese anime.  Her hair was black and blonde, short and spiky.  She wore so many accessories and layers it was hard to tell what was what: lace, fishnet, tulle, satin, denim, possibly even some leather.
I was normal.  Brown hair, brown eyes. Slightly overweight—or I thought so. I had on a band t-shirt, skinny jeans, classic Converse.  You’re not talking to me, I willed to her.  You’re not talking to me.
She turned and stared directly at me. Her ears were pierced over and over—I counted them later.  Thirteen.  Thirteen rainbow little studs, all authoritatively watching me, just like her intense ice blue eyes.  “Not one to talk, eh?”  She shrugged.  “Whatever.  I’m talking, anyhow.”
I noticed, I kept myself from saying.
She kicked her feet in black combat boots.  Red roses oozed up the side of the leather—or was it blood?  I couldn’t tell. “You’ve been treated poorly,” she announced to me.
I was surprised, and the emotion showed on my face.  No, I haven’t.  I was silent.
She was examining another cheese puff.  “Don’t deny it,” she said.  “You have.  People ignore you.”
I want them to.
“It hurts.”
What do you know? I wanted to ask her.  You look like a freak.  You’re practically demanding all of the attention anyone can give.
She looked sideways at me, and I quickly looked down at my food.  I wasn’t actually eating it.
“Eat that,” she commanded.  “You can’t go all anorexic on me.”
I looked up at her again, daring her to make me.
“You think they ignore you because you’re boring, don’t you?” She stared at me long and hard.  “Yeah, I’ve watched you,” she added knowingly.  “You want them to notice you.  But you’re too normal.  They’re never going to notice you.”
I couldn’t meet her gaze any more.  Her icy eyes were like mirrors, showing me only what was in my own.  I didn’t want to see that.
I decided I would ignore her.  I looked back down at my lunch and pulled a corner off of my sandwich.
“It doesn’t matter, you know.”
I dropped the corner of my sandwich and picked up the apple on my plate instead.  It felt mushy.  I held it anyway, examining it.
“They’re just idiots.  It’s high school.  It happens to them,” she explained.  “You know that, though—that their opinions don’t matter.  You still care, though.  You don’t want to be boring.”
She looked at me, and I was surprised to find I was looking at her too.  “You want to be captivating,” she told me.
“You’re weird,” I mumbled.
“Haha, you’re talking to me.”  She grinned, and her teeth were incredibly white.  “I know you do.  I just think that it’s stupid you put so much stock and store into what they say.”
I let myself stare at her, hard.  “Don’t you?” I asked.
I expected her to deny it.  Instead she laughed.  “Touché,” she replied.  “You’re right.  But I think it’s stupid of me, and there’s the difference.  You let it control you.”
“Why does it matter?” I asked again.  “Once high school is over, they won’t matter.”
“But it does matter,” she said, “because they’re our age.  After high school it just becomes college students.  It doesn’t really ever go away.”
“You just changed your mind,” I informed her.  “Why don’t you go talk to some other goth kids?”  I wanted her to leave me alone.  Who cared if she told the other emos that I was a jerk?
She laughed.  “I don’t give a hoot what you say,” she replied.  “I’m the one talking here.  You shut up and listen.”
I shut up.  I wasn’t going to listen.
“Other kids just inhibit you,” she said, leaning forward and taking a drink from her straw.  The nonchalant expression on her face made her look vaguely catlike—or maybe it was just her apparel.  “When you’re alone you’re so much more powerful.”
“The other goth kids don’t want to hang with you, do they?” I asked coarsely.
She laughed.  “I don’t want to ‘hang’ with them,” she replied easily.  “I’m not like them.”
“You look like them,” I pointed out.
“Right.  Relevance?” she retorted.  “You look like a band geek.  You play no instruments.”
I didn’t have anything to say.  I picked up the corner of my sandwich again.
“Eat that,” she commanded.
She wasn’t looking at me.
“Eat it.”
I put it down.  I was hungry, and I had intentions of eating it, but I didn’t want her to tell me what to do.
“I said eat it.  What do you want to be, a walking skeleton?”
I said nothing.
She looked at me from the corner of her eye.  “Fine.   Your choice.  Eat it, don’t eat it, I don’t care.  I’m still going to bug you.”
I picked it up and put it in my mouth.
She flicked a cheese puff and pulled her salad to her. “Stubborn, aren’t you?”
“Aren’t you?”
“Yep.  That’s why I haven’t left yet.  You’re not exactly a ray of sunshine,” she informed me.
I acted like I didn’t care.
“You’re coming home with me after school tomorrow.”
I looked up at her.
“Let your mom know.  Or your dad.  Or your legal guardian.  I’m taking you with me.  We’re going to do something.”
“You don’t even know my name,” I told her.
“It’s Claire,” she said, looking straight at me.  “I told you I’ve been watching you.”
“You’re a creeper,” I told her.
She just laughed and stood, her salad gone.  I hadn’t noticed her eating it.  “Whatever.  I’m getting you out of this place, and you can’t stop me.”
I glanced around.  “Out of where?”
She looked over her shoulder as she walked away. “I think you know,” she announced, and then she was gone.

In the end, she had her way.  She did get me out of that place of weird high-school paranoia and into a state of mind where I didn’t really care what the other kids had to say.  She helped me see what I said to kids younger than me affected them just as much as what the seniors said to me.  The most ironic thing about it, I think, is that she gave me credit for the same thing.  We were a team, and unstoppable.
That one weird girl became my best friend.
Funny how one conversation could change so much.



Those Left Behind
January 18, 2011

Did you know that I loved you?
I’m staring at my window now, watching the raindrops slide down the frosty glass.  There are people all around me, but I’m not with them.  I’m not one of them.
You didn’t know me.  Not really.
I knew you, though.  In a way.  And I loved you, for who you were and for who you were to become.  I loved you, and when I saw what a bright, bright future laid ahead of you, I rejoiced.
But now it’s all over—it’s all over because of one decision.
The raindrops converge, and speed along the slick and unforgiving window pane.  They’re not going anywhere in particular… they’re just going.
I wonder if that’s where you thought you were going?  Nowhere?
I wish I could have been there.  But then, I didn’t know what was going on.  No one did.  You kept it all inside and didn’t let anyone reach out to you.  I want to have reached out to you.
I wish you would have let me.
I can’t find any words.  I can’t comfort anyone.  I’m not angry, not at you, not at anyone.  I just wish you would have told someone—anyone.  I wonder if you regret your decision to suffer alone now.  I just want you to understand.  Even the people you don’t really know are affected by you.
You were a part of my life. I loved you.
More than anything, I’ll miss you.  I hope others think before they choose to try to escape, like you.  I hope that no one else picks like you did.
You thought it was your only option.
Oh, how wrong you were!



Holding On Like You Told Me
January 26, 2011

The pain is prickling
                and stinging
now spreading up my
                weary arms.
My knuckles are white,
                the skin taught:
I’ve been holding on
                for so long.
The bar is almost
                through my hands.
I could call but I’ve
                been calling,
And you’ve been silent
                you left me:
hanging, holding on
                hurting here.
I just know I’m
                going to fall.
But you don’t hear me,
                out of sight.
I don’t know how I’ll
                save myself
but I don’t have a
                choice anymore.
I don’t want to fall.
                please come back
Your love was selfish.
                Is all love
in the end?
                                                                and prove me wrong



You don’t even understand what you’re doing to me
January 30, 2011

I can hear the heavy door creaking open.  I blow out a gentle breath, hoping my tears will recede before you come to the other side of the bars.
I can’t remember how long I’ve been down here.  I know you brought me down here long ago, but I don’t know when.
You come every day, and sit on the other side of the bars.  You talk to me, chained here in darkness.  You tell me everything you care to talk about, where I listen and try my best to support you.
The rest of the time, the only one by me is myself.
I’m your prisoner down here.
But I don’t know if you even understand that.
You brought me down here for a reason.  I knew it even before you told me. 
You brought me because you were alone.
You never saw me.  You didn’t bring me down yourself.  I don’t think you can see me:  the black is so intense.  Sometimes I think I can see you, my eyes accustomed to the darkness, but then I’m not sure, and I think whatever black form I saw was just a specter, and maybe I can’t see you after all.
You told me it was better this way.  You told me it was better that you couldn’t see me, that you hadn’t.  After all, if you never saw me, there was no way you could love me for my appearance.
That’s what you’re trying to do, after all.  I remember the first time the chains were slipped around my wrists, my ankles.  You are here for a purpose, you said as they bound me.  If I can love you, it will be better for everyone.  If I can love you, I might have some feeling after all.  If I can love you, maybe I can make the people happy.  If I can love you, maybe I can give their lives some meaning.  What I’m doing now isn’t working.
You didn’t want me for yourself.  You only come down for a small window of time every day.  I’m taken care of, but you’re the only one that I speak to.
I weep alone. To you, I only exist to see if you can feel anything at all. 
I don’t know what you expected of me.  I don’t know what you expect of me.
I smile now.  I know you’re coming, and you can hear the smile in my voice.  You can discern every slight change in my voice.  You know what all of them mean.
The only thing you can’t tell is when I’m lying.
Maybe it’s because I’ve been lying this whole time?
I smile because I dream that you find yourself feeling some emotion, some feeling, something.  I am kind to you because I wish that someday the people will be happy for you.  I love you because I crave with every fiber in my body that they’re happy, up there in the light.  I act for them.
And I’ll keep acting, because I pray my captivity will soften your inhuman heart that someone can benefit from this.
They aren’t the only ones who need this.
I hope you can learn to love, if only for yourself.



Epoison
February 1, 2011

The metal shines
                                in the darkness
I press myself against it
                praying I become one with the icy panels, hiding in the black, watching your cameras
I hear them coming
My cover isn’t blown yet.  I grin to myself
what are you doing
You know where I am
Why do you rest?
Faintly, in the distance
                                it’s still far away
                the sirens begin
It’s too late now.  I know the channels, the tunnels, the holes.  I have it all memorized.  Your confidant was a traitor, and now this traitor is fleeing.  If anyone can escape this prison, this Alcatraz of wires, silver and lights, it’s me.
still you are silent
and I slip by your guards
Sprinting
                sliding
                                stealing
                                                silently
I’m out
I’m out
I’m free
I glance back
past the wire and wood branches
                                In a window, I see your figure
you simply watch
And the wind breezes by, your banners streaming in the cold, oblivious to the lights, the guards, the dogs, the sirens, the chaos below your window
I see your dark eyes
And I know
Somehow
                                                                                                we both know
You wanted me to break out
All this time







perfunctory.
February 5, 2011 4:58 PM

you say things like this
all the time
things like
                I don’t know who you are anymore
                                and
                                                Find yourself
                                                                and
                                                                                I miss you
but you say them without thinking
without blinking
they’re just words
that serve you
until you think about what they mean

you laugh and say
                I don’t know who you are anymore
without realizing
                                to not know anymore means
                                you did before
you knew someone
you knew them in every intricate detail of their being
                every peculiarity of the mind
                                every twist of the mouth
                                                every beat of the heart
you knew them like you knew yourself
                                                                                                but now you don’t

do you have any idea how incredibly sad
that is?

or to say
                Find yourself
is telling you you’re lost
is telling me I’m lost
and that we have to be found

                                be found…
                                                or what?

                                                                                lost is a terrible place to be

And crooning
                I miss you
to a stranger
a lover
a friend

missing is an ache
                                                a dull, throbbing pain, inside
                                craving nothing more to be satisfied
                devouring

it cries

                                and you say you miss them
                you don’t even know what
missing means

but the most sad of all

the most painful

the most aching

the most heart wrenching
of all of them
is when you say

                I love you

because there is no way
                that can be anything
but
                                                                                                a lie
That Random Kid’s Valentine Poem
February 14, 2011

Roses are red
But sometimes they’re orange
But color is nonessential
To my love as high as the Blorenge

Which isn’t that high
but we can pretend
Cuz I love you more than that guy
And I’m trying to beat him anyhow

But back to our poem
Happy Valentine’s Day
Here’s some chocolates, I bought ‘em
You don’t need to know they’re from 2002

Or that I got them from Larry
that weird kid from 5th grade
He thinks they might be cherry
but I hope not, cuz I’m allergic

And getting sick would stink
Especially if it was from getting you stupid chocolates
But it’s not what you think
Because I’m sure he said 2002

And he’s wanted to give
them to you all this time
Please take them so I can live
because this was a—

No wait, I’m not supposed to tell
But I guess it doesn’t matter
That kid with the smell
Dared me to do it

Not Larry, but Stu
because he was sure
That that guy would ask you
to be his Valentine

And he didn’t like that
So here I am, with this chocolate
I hope you know it will make you fat
Hurry up and take it so I can sit down.



Anesthesia
February 19, 2011

Why does the word feel so sober
and I feel so deranged?
I feel like
I’m a part of it somehow
but more like an experiment in a lab
than a participant
I feel like the lab rat
watching but not knowing not acting not doing
My hand moved and I don’t know how
How it got there?
My brain is slogging through smog
blind and lost
What’s going on?
Why am I detached?
What’s wrong with me?
Now salty tears
stream down my cheeks like tiny ice shards slipping from the cone of a shuttle
and I’m so confused
Hopelessly out of orbit
all I want to do is sleep
and sleep for a very long time



The Beauty of Perfection
February 28, 2011

A beautiful princess
In a world of soft diamond
In alcoves, through doorways
Up marble stairs, whitened

Dance and twirl a dizzy swirl
Laugh and smile without a care
I am deceiving myself
Poison pervades the air

I dance and I rejoice
In the halls strewn with glass
Pools of blood litter halls
I deny them and that past

I dance of innocence
Far-off friends can’t confute
My actions wouldn’t change
Slightly smile, remain mute

This is me, abandoned
I deny denial
For actions not my own
The victim of the brutal

My white dress is ragged
Spattered, crimson, stained, and marred
My feet are torn and bleeding
Yet I never stop the dance

Perhaps if I dance long
If I wish, and wishes are dreams
And dreams have even a chance
Of blossoming to real

Perhaps if I smile sweet
And ignore the glass scattered
in my palace, around my feet
Eddied blood would not be mine

Perhaps if I dismiss
The scalding memories
Maybe they would come back
It could again be lovely

I won’t stop dancing now
For thinking comes with pause
And I’d realize no hope
could bring back all I’ve lost




Somewhere On The Battlefield
March 3, 2011

Leaving the commander’s tent,
I saw the first green life
I have seen in a long while.
A flower:
Green and brown and seeped in death.
I had to stop and wonder
at it
and the meaning . . .
In the midst of this war
We have nothing but hope left
[Possibilities were gone months ago
Our chances before that].
And now, is even our hope
tinged with death?
Are there no flowers
vibrant in the breath of life?
 . . .
Yet we will cling
and cling hard
to our hopes
and our dreams
and our future
because even tinged with death,
A ray of hope can always be found
somewhere on the battlefield

                                                     



Soul-Sick Medisin
March 7, 2011

I get so sick of this.  I get so impossibly sick of this.  I’ll kneel, my head on my arms on my knees, kneeling in front of the toilet where I emptied my stomach after crying so long I felt dizzy.  There are no words to describe how nauseated I am by all of it.
I’ll stand and stumble into my modern kitchen, shiny, black, curved, sharp and metallic, trying to find my cabinets to find something to take away the splitting headache.  My hand hovers over the bottle, but I only keep it for that:  sometimes, if I let my pale hand slide over the glass, knowing that behind it was alcohol so toxic it would make the whole world cease to exist, if I felt the electric shocks through the cool bottle, I feel stronger leaving it behind.  Control.  I crave control.
I’ll lean against the counter, swallow the aspirin without water, stand— still— feeling it slide down my throat and convincing myself it will fix something.  No one else is here; it’s just me, in my big empty apartment.  Nobody there to tell me to get a glass of water, no one to close the cabinet.  No one even knows my name.
I’ll watch the clock as it ticks on, the green digits slowly going up, coming down, a never ending cycle of mindless rote.  There is no comfort in it; I watch it without seeing, feeling scathed, aching, wanting to be done.  Wanted it to be over.  But it’s not over, it can’t be over.  My job isn’t done.
I’ll slip slowly down, until I’m seated on the floor, waiting for my head to stop throbbing, for my stomach to calm.  I can’t go anywhere.  I can’t do anything.  I’m searching.  I needed revenge.  I can do nothing, be nothing, want nothing, crave nothing, cannot dream at all until I achieve my goal; my revenge.  It is a nightmare.
I’ll drop my head into my hands, and yet more tears gather into my eyes, spill down my cheeks, drip slowly onto my black slacks, as I began to laugh.  Bliss is getting what I deserve, yet I am running, racing, flying towards a goal I shouldn’t have chosen.  And it’s still my fault:  it’s my fault no one knows my name.  It’s my fault I’m still running.  It’s my fault I make myself sick.  I make myself sick. I hate myself for choices I made when I knew nothing else, as if I’m two people, and I can blame myself because I am innocent.
I’ll laugh at my past idiocy now, and laugh at my present knowledge , and laugh at the irony, quietly to myself, sitting on my hard kitchen floor, the cold seeping through my clothes and into my bones, the silence stabbing through me.  Why did I pick this if it only could have led to where I am now?  What was I thinking?  What am I thinking?  Revenge is who I am—resilience, an act; endurance, a necessity.
I’ll slowly get to my feet, the headache never leaving, the nausea only fading to the background, the clock ticking on and the chase never ends.  What happens when I get it, my revenge?  Then can it all be over?  Can I just let go of this vice-grip on existence I have, my fingers frozen clamping shut?  I’m already gone to them—will I convince myself that when I’ve done my duty, I can finally just give up?
I’ll wander back to my bed, dark, huge, uninviting and cold, hoping that tonight I might have dreams before waking again to cold reality.  But I don’t dream because I never dream, and my only escape, my only bliss, my only rest, was torn from my icy hands.


Better With Talking
March 22, 2011

“No—you get up there,” Blaine decided, pointing up to the seemingly gigantic card table.
Caley wavered by the thin leg.  “Are you sure?” he asked, standing on his tiptoes to look across the green pleather tabletop.  It was marred from numberless spills and scratches, telling stories of his parents’ late nights before he and his brother and sister were born.  “Will it fall?”
Blaine joined him, inspecting the tabletop.  “No,” he said, poking a small tear in the plastic fabric.  “It’ll hold you.”
Caley glanced at his little brother sideways but said nothing.   Instead he clambered onto the nearby couch and slithered his way on his stomach onto the card table.  After a moment’s hesitation, he stood and looked down at Blaine.  “Now what?”
“Fight something,” Blaine directed, holding an imaginary camera in front of him.  “You’re Superman.  Kick and punch and stuff.”
“Caley!” a sharp voice called out.  “What do you think you’re doing?”
In a flash, Caley was on his stomach again, sliding off the table to the couch in his stocking feet.  His green eyes were wide with guilt that he had been caught.
On the ground, Blaine looked up at their mother standing in the doorway.  She had a nice dress on and a strand of pearls around her neck, though she wasn’t going anywhere in particular.  She looked alarmed, her collected features skeptical and worried. “You’re not supposed to climb on that,” she said, watching Caley sternly.  “You could fall and get hurt; you know that.”  Her tone told him he was in trouble more than her words.
Without defending himself, Caley took his place behind his brother.  He watched his mother’s face, waiting for Blaine to work his magic.
He didn’t wait long.  “He was being Superman,” Blaine announced, catching her squarely in the screen of his imaginary camera.  “I’m the director.  We’re making a movie.”
A smile threatened to lift one corner of her well made-up lips, but she managed to keep a straight face as she looked at him.  “Oh really?” she asked, tilting her head.  Her blonde hair was done up in a perfect bun, a single elegant clip sweeping it away from her face.
“Uh-huh,” Blaine replied, tilting his camera with her face.  “And he had to be on the table because he was on a cliff, and he was fighting.”
“I see.”  Their mother nodded slowly, still fighting the smile.  “That’s very creative of you.  But let’s stay off of tables in the house, all right?  I don’t want one of you to fall and hurt the other.”
“Okay.”  Blaine shrugged and walked a few steps away.  “Get on the rug, and it can be the ocean.”  He grinned.  “Then you can fight a sea monster!”
Their mother chuckled and slid out of the doorway.  Caley moved onto the rug and watched his brother.
How do you do that? He was itching to ask.  How did you get me out of trouble that easily?
Blaine noticed his stare and grinned even wider.  “What, Caley?  You should start fighting that sea monster before he gets you and you die.”  He adjusted his invisible camera and held it up to his eye.  “You have to beat him so we can make a good movie.”
“Yeah,” Caley said quietly.  “Okay.”  He readied himself, but stopped and turned to his brother.  “I want to be the director now,” he decided abruptly.  “You can be Superman.”
Blaine laughed.  “No, silly brother.  I have to be the director, because I can tell people what to do.  You be Superman because you’re older.  ‘Sides, you don’t have to talk.  I’m better at talking than you are.”
Caley paused for a moment.  “Yeah, okay,” he said.  He knew that was what Blaine would say.  He had only asked it to hear it again, to be reminded of why his brother could talk his parents out of anything.  “What do you want me to do?”