Pt. VI: hourspent
“The most merciful thing in the world, I
is the inability of the human
mind to correlate
Awesome job great show
“Excuse me, hi---I accidentally bought this...Of Mice And Men CD---I dunno, musta picked it up by accident; just realized I got a wrong one when I got out to my car. Can I please pick out another? I know I already opened it...” I was trying super hard to be that polite person everyone conveys to you on greeting cards and how-to manuals from the sixties. I tried to look as adorably flustered as I could. With the ideas of years mossing over me, that last trick has become increasingly more effective, actually. People must take pity on anything that looks mildly reminiscent of a fawning forest crittur.
Too pitifully adorable to be buying heavy metal CDs from Target. Poor thing. Blinded by her own sweetness. Let’s give her what she wants.
Should’ve kept it, in retrospect.
Start here: the loss of Meason
The hell are you doing.
“Stop it. I haven’t even got to the second track yet.”
Yeah. And. I hate you. How could you subject us to such horrific torture. This is exactly why I can never leave.
“I’d prefer that, actually. So stop sassing me about my musical direction---”
Or lack thereof.
“Will you just---don’t. It’s just---it’s not that bad.”
You moved out nearly eleven months ago on your own. You’ve got another year of this college thing left. You’re poor as dirt’s dirt. And you choose to spend your dwindling cash on this garbage. Couldn’t’ve done us both the favor and kept the angry stuff? I legitimately hate you right now. For all listed reasons. Some not.
“You say that all the time about anything I do.”
“Why can’t you just leave me alone.”
Hey, you invite me, every time. Don’t play dumb, kid.
“Don’t call me that.”
Aaand point proven, with that tone. You’re not fooling anybody, kitten.
“Why won’t you just leave me ALONE!”
Because then you’d make stupid choices. Like buy another amateur hour ukulele-pop backwash society CD, like so.
“Not true. I’d be better off without you.”
Is that a challenge?
“No, it’s a statement.”
You really can’t lose me. You’re only mad because you always call me back.
“Please stop. Go away.”
You trying again? How cute.
Try harder. This amuses me.
Ask nicely. That seems to work on your human fellows, out there.
“Fuck you, please.”
Ah, fantastic. Alright. You win. But just remember---I know everything you do and nothing you don’t! Like how you only put back that CD because you worried people would think differently of you. Think down on you. Like I wouldn’t catch on. You’re a really sad excuse of a liar, kit. People don’t need music to see right through you.
“ENOUGH! JUST SHUT YER LOUSY---OHH, SHIT!”
I missed the lamppost by mere inches. Hit something else dead on.
Oh, fuck. Sorry, id.
Do not pass go, do not collect Freudian clues
“Well, I'm glad you made it out of there alive,” Rah said to me over the sounds of the checkout scanner in the self-serve lane. “Mostly alive,” he added with smugness. “That could’ve been a nasty turn out.” He grabbed the cap of his Gatorade bottle, skipping paper and plastic options entirely, walking me out into the soggy receipt thawing parking lot.
Spring’s birth is ugly here. Most beginnings are.
“Still was a nasty turn.” I imagined tiny anchors dragging the corners of my mouth down. Even in good company, I was still a bittermonger about everything. I always want to be left alone as soon as friends find me. I don’t know what’s wrong with them. They always seem to stumble across me at the worst possible times. Namely, any time they manage to catch me outside my apartment. Exhibit A: Rahim just had to be grocery shopping at Meijer’s on a random Tuesday night in March. Only I’m allowed to do that. “I think Sasha has it out for me now. All because I got the boss’ approval for my sketches.” Maybe that’s what made it sting so good, that it came from the proofreader/editor who lived under an art degree-less rock for years.
“You know what you need?” he said, raising a curious, furry eyebrow at me. “A drink.”
And of course by “drink” I knew he didn’t mean the good kind. It’s Rah. He only ever wants to ply me with Bavaria not-beer and expensive sparkling grape juice.
I haven’t been drunk in years, because of him.
What i conjured as i proofread Madz’s novel excerpt
Variation is key. Reissuing the same thing over and over again is not exciting, especially when a variety of terms is lacking overall. It’s very important to keep variety close, because every variation is key.
I tapped the desktop anxiously, gouging out the clockface with my eyes. Annabelle Lee was leaning her girthy body over my workspace, muttering on and on about her life or something else utterly dirge-worthy. I needed to get the hell back home. Why was she filling up the doorway like that? Why were her repetitive sounds filling up my room like this? Why was shit filling up my head like so? I was in shock (from the wreck still, I guess) and couldn’t wrap my mind around anything except all the stupid that led my fuddy-dud shoes to be trapped inside my fuddy-dud job in my fuddy-dud skin. (Ah, variation. Shit.)
Like me making the poor choice of letting my coworkers talk me into ordering some greasy pub sandwich for lunch. (Vomit.)
Like me thinking that dying my hair dark with henna would banish the dusty red hues I was saddled with forever. (Yeah, I get it. It’s henna, the point is ephemeral ease. I just like to reinvent reality to fit me. Don't act like you don’t use this technique.)
Like me throwing invisible daggers every time Sasha bounces past my room. (No one can be that happy.)
Like me pretending not to notice Rahim’s sticky eyes on me during downtime.
Like me cementing my mouth shut. Never telling Kirkson how unfitting his vulgar office jokes really are. Never telling Sasha to keep the pants of her oversharing mouth on. Never calling out attention whores and assholes alike. Never calling home again. Never telling time, what I really think of its ticking tyranny.
“Fuck you,” I murmur under my breath to the clock. To myself, I think.
“Wh-...what??” Annabelle Lee blinks at me like a scolded puppy. She really is just a pup, so that’s fitting, I suppose.
I just wave her off and squish my face up dismissively. “The clock.”
“Oh...yeah…” The hurt faded instantly, leaving her eyes dull as ever. She turned and leaned in further to admire the vinyl record clock above my door. “Is it time yet?”
I sigh so no one anywhere in the world could possibly hear my pathetic poetic tendencies, “Always.”
Reading always slows me down. Correction. Reading always slows time down. If it’s something we invented (time, that is), does that mean that reading is something that thwarts the fabric of our immediate lives? It even ruptures other times and breaks into hypothetical or makebelieve ones. Yeah, I’m thinking that constitutes continuum harassment or space infracturing infringement or some metascientific shit like that.
The sticky note i left on the kitchen table
Last night I inadvertently tried to deactivate my ovaries and sap my fertility gage into the negatives. I know what you’re thinking. How the hell is that an accidental kind of thing? Well, I’ll tell you. It started when I locked myself away in my room for the night. I still had my wet hair up in a towel as I plugged myself and my electronics in. I remembered I had an email to respond to, so I plopped my laptop on my lower stomach, leaning back on a prop of pillows as I typed. I promptly get this text message from my writer buddy, Jo, and close the laptop to fling my phone by its cord onto my chest. I check it and chuckle. I find myself too lazy to be bothered to return it to the nightstand (that would involve reaching and finagling and squirming out from the warmth of this sturdy laptop). I assessed my options and resolved to simply tuck it beneath my lower back. So the phone buzzed beneath me as I opened my computer up...
And that’s why I cackled so loudly and woke you, Madz. I just realized, just imagined this to be my slow suicide, my covert way to prevent optimal uterine functionality. By jamming my poor body with sublime radiation that spews copiously from my electrical entourage. I mean, that’s what technology’s supposed to do, right? Fuck with your function? Give you cancer?
So sorry, Madz. I’ll do better next time. I’ll try to keep the cynicism on minimizum.
99 dead balloons
Nev Schulman: I want you to go through with this. I think it’s definitely
something you deserve.
Girl: (Blinks dimly at the show’s co-hosts, the static shooting through her head
becoming increasingly more audible.)
“It” being love. And not the actual kind of love, either. The “love” people intend for petty gasps, giggling and summertime.
Me: The fuck’s that supposed to mean? (Rises indignantly from the chair. It’s absolutely 1 AM.) She deserves love? Who the hell---how can you say that? Who the hell deserves---? That means we could dictate it from whoever whenever. (Voice escalates to pitchy, breaking shrieks. Absolutely not drunk. Not like one should be for a moment like this.) Who decides this crap? Who decides who gets this shit and who doesn’t? Well, fuck you, fuckos! You can’t demand love anything! You don’t even mean it when you say It! If you’re the next prophet, Nev, then everything should deserve this thing…! Not just her, not just them---! (Tone hits highest pitch.) Assholes…!
I actually admire you, Schulman. Mr. Max, you, too.
I’m never convinced of my own early-morning rantings myself.
So please burn this frayed thought before continuing.
The perks of being asexual---
Don’t you just swoon for the lengths men will go to to describe the sexy silence of a woman’s mere presence, mere looks, how it goes about changing them, consuming them, warping them, damning them. Love it, personally.
Here’s how far I’d go to express the entrance of a male character in my novel:
“So there was this dude.”
Shit yeah. I’d jump dem bones.
---you can actually see
Actually, I’m a demisexual. Heterosexual demisexual with just a pinch of genetically-infused misanthropy. Tried explaining this to my mother once. She started crying. Might as well have told her I was having an illegitimate mutant child by several men, one woman, and two unspecified beasts. Would’ve yielded the same reaction.
Still. That was less extreme than the reaction had when I told her I was leaving her religion for my own. You know, I just like to call it Love and also Not Being An Asshole. There. I just summed up the Bible for you, Ma.
That’s it. The essence everybody slaughters words and neighbors over to prove It exists by their terms alone. Love. We all know it, now can’t we just give this organizational shit a rest and begin actually being good to each other? No, Mom? No, Dad?
Welp, this is where I get off. I’ll just let myself out this door marked “Disownment,” here...
happy pills & Some Kind of Terrible
I’m sorry for your loss---
Was all the note said. Came with a happy photo of me from years ago and an inky little crucifix sketch on the far right bottom of the card. I looked up at the flower vase on the table, my numb fingers letting the papers slip. My eyes clenched onto the complementary bouquet of hemlock and marigolds, willing them to halt and catch fire; wither and die.
Everything in that stale kitchen already had. Had been for months.
The whole house smelled of dust and itchy spider skeletons---home. Just as I was abandoning it. It was time, they said. All my friends told me, It’s time. So it always is.
But---I know now it only felt like home because leaving is where I belong.
Makes sense, if you don’t think about it.
“Shh---!” says the girl who slams the door shut. At two in the morning.
From the couch, disturbed, comes, “Red. You’re an idiot.” Madz. She’s always so honest. I love her.
Unfortunately life goes on
I made a mental note to send a sticky note to an old friend; long overdue; years:
You’re in a relationship. If there’s no relating going on, then what’s happening?
The hell’re you doing there?
I guess a lot of pretty people just get together and sit in the same room for
years and years and years....
Never listen, never swear, never say---never never never.
I do this thing.
I do this thing where I superimpose myself into the conversations of the other people around me. If I catch a soundbite of what they’re saying, I jump right in, no questions asked.
For example, Annabelle Lee to Sasha and Kirkson:
“I just can’t---I just can’t believe they expect me to do everything.”
“And by everything you mean nothing?” I observe through gritted teeth, refusing to glance up at her through my open office door. I don’t even know what she is referring to. Probably a school overload. She’s only the intern, as it stands, on her final stretch of collegiate servitude. But whatever she is griping about, if she’s approaching it with her current work ethic standards, I can absolutely see why life would betray her so gloriously.
“Sinister today, aren’t we?” Rahim chuckles, sweeping into the doorway, hands in his pockets.
“It’s Misanthrope Monday. My favorite holiday. I’m allowed to celebrate however I see fit.”
“But...Red. It’s Friday.”
“Every day is Misanthrope Monday.”
Just then, Sasha busts a gut laughing loudly at another one of Kirkson’s inappropriate quips. Her laugh is the ground-splitting, traffic-scattering, gaggle-blaring kind that you couldn’t miss from the moon. Rahim and I both exchange looks of bewilderment.
“Yeah, I’m hilarious, I get it,” I sass, going back to my mindless rifling through papers. “Please calm yourself.”
Rahim tries hard to swallow a real gut-busting laugh himself. He bows his head slightly to me and raises a pretend glass in my honor. I manage a smirk. He’s my one and only fan. I’m seriously considering not becoming a comedian, just for his sake. I wouldn’t want to shame him, having him obligated by friendly duty to be seen in public, supporting the shit that spews forth from my jagged gorge of a mouth. He’s too kind, though. I know he’d do it, even if I wouldn’t end up begging him to.
There’s admittedly something strange about the fortune cookie message given to you on a whim by an out-of-state passerby on a Sunday after skipping churchy obligations for the thirteenth year in a row.
A cheerful letter or message is on its way to
Suddenly I wished I’d been skipping stones. Not as opposed to anything. Just---to pass the time, I suppose. Rahim once told me I was the greatest human being God ever created. And he wasn’t even drunk. (Because his religion prohibits it.)
Suddenly I wished I was alone out here. Wouldn’t have to shoulder the weight of every friend I love leaving me one day, one way or another. You don’t think about these things when you pick up a stone and throw a text, calling for a banal Tuesday gettogether. You think about these things years later. Only after the stone’s thrown do you see how you never knew just what you were doing with it anyway. How you never never never.
Rahim’s still in town. Madz is downstairs snoozing in the TV’s muted glow, alongside her cat and a visiting Jo as I type this. Nameless others, countless, join the lot.
I miss them already.
Nope. Life is a shell. Break it and you kill everyone, kill everything.
Lock the doors. Stay in.
“You used to talk me out of these things.”
Silent today. Again. Of course.
It’s time for bed, methinks.
Playing hide and sleep
Playing Spotify heavy metal suggestions on my laptop and my dog still resolves to nap away on my thighs. Like it’s some kind of lullaby. He’s the best dog, I decide, stroking his ears gently with a giddy smile. He’s going to die someday, too. I’m not smiling anymore.
I can’t believe I’ll live to see more of this shit.
“Can you believe that?”
Yeah, sometimes the inner push-back hesitates. Sometimes I fear it’s not still back there, somewhere. Somewhere strewn with all the shattered glass. Lost.
And that body. The one smeared out with the front end of my old Kia Optima.
(White noise issues forth from somewhere.)
But I don’t recall a time I wasn’t this. Left.
Somehow I’m always the one who ends up blindly groping in the utensil drawer and snaring the only damned spoon that’s been jaded into saw-teeth edges by the garbage disposal. Every bite is a scathing penitence for civilization.
File your complaints in my mouth.
I’ve only got ears left, anyway.
That time of type of sorts
I find myself doing this an awful lot lately---
Shutting the eyes, those fleshy blinds. Tossing the head back in afternoon sunlight. (Not intending to rhyme and then doing it anyway.) Not smiling till the thought strikes. The thought of a cozy home, somewhere in the suburbs of a biggish city, maybe. Wherever it is, it’s miles to go from here; safe from any and all interlopers. There’s a closeknit family of friends there, too. No blood relatives for miles, save one: my kid. A daughter’s little hand to grasp as we’re walking through summery days year round. A dog that never runs away.
Hell, I’d marry a dog like that.
Good feelings gone. I feel my mouth corners sink, blink around the office entrance, stunned. It’s starting to rain. It’s nowhere near the muse fog I just descended from.
I hurry inside, disgruntledly adjusting my satchel.
I need coffee. Always.
Dying is a gift so close your eyes and rest in peace
And the answer is still a resounding fuck no.
"They worried that I spent too much time alone, clinging to the notion that socializing was therapeutic. So was electroshock, I reminded them."
― Ransom Riggs
Titles are for chumps
So I pissed off the painter guy, methinks. Alarm’s been going off since 9 AM, and now he’s outside my window, measuring the widths and lengths and panes. He fears me now, like my mother, I can tell. Because as soon as I smack the clock’s power button, he runs right out to his truck and starts lulling out some sullenly-, drunkenly-strummed country tunes to ease his ears.
I take it he’s not all about Like Moths To Flames.
I killed a man---
Annabelle Lee took me seriously. Annabelle Lee is an idiot a lot of the time. I nod gravely at her as I brush past with my old coffee in an even older cup. I do not snicker as I overhear her mouse voice say,
“She really killed someone??”
Sasha sips somberly from her mug.
Kirkson, inclining his head towards her, completely stone-faced, says, “Yep. Back in college. That’s why she’s all messed UP in the head.”
---with THIS THUMB!
“He had a wife. With a baby on the way. Just got promoted. Wanted to move out of state. Was coming home with high hopes and good news for his spouse about all of the above aspirations. And I ended it,” I dramatize for Annabelle Lee. I’m staring her directly in the nose pimple. “I ended him.” She covers her mouth and frowns. She’s sad now.
Rahim swoops into my office.
“All it took was one slip of my thumb and I was screeching onto the sidewalk…” I close my eyes and Annabelle Lee blurts out some sob before excusing herself.
“The Crash Story, huh?” Rahim comments, perusing my bookshelf.
“Am I the only one who knows it was just a---?”
Sasha pops in, drumming her hands on the doorpost. “It’s time, guys.”
No, you’re just another who doesn't know.
Falters in our faults
“The hell’re you doing, dare I ask,” Madz says. She drops her bag and kicks off her shoes on me. I want to complain, but I did choose the doormat. I hear the fridge open. A bottle hisses. Maybe the cat.
“I wanted to see how it truly feels to be walked on.”
“Should be used to that by now, peach.”
Madz. So honest. I love it.
“Remember my accident?”
“Sure. The bloody feathers that cling to your dreamcatcher to this day.”
“Can I tell you something?”
“I suppose I can’t stop you.”
“Since that day, I can’t stop always noticing ticking clocks nearby. Is that just me, or--?”
“Everything’s just you, I think.”
The couch and I creak as Madz slumps into us. I flail my arms back and forth across the floor like a malfunctioning watch face.
“Yeah. That’s why I’m guilty,” I don’t say.
See, doormats don’t actually say anything at all. I gotta be the best doormat I can be.
Name’s not important
“DON’T LOOK AT THOSE!!”
“What---hey! Ouch, ya crazy! That’s my dominant arm!”
“You can’t go in there!” I snatch rapidly at the countless slips of paper he’d knocked loose from my bedside table. “That’s off limits!”
“They’re just a bunch of---old receipts. And letters addressed to no one. Why’d you keep these?”
“So I can know where I’ve been, so I can have someone to talk to,” I can’t confess.
So, “That’s off limits,” I tell him, before getting undressed.
“Ooohh, FUCK you.”
Aww. You did.
“I can’t believe you choose now to show yourself again, asshole.”
Clearly you needed some help. Look at you. Floundering. Faltering. Fucking it up. Ooh, alliteration; I forgot how fun it can be--fancy a go for yourself?
“Fuck you, coming back to mock.”
Not mock. Motivate.
“You are not helping.”
I’m trying to get you to see things at a different angle. You need me. You’re becoming snared, friend.
“I do not need you. And we are not friends.”
Did you know that liars tend to avoid the use of contractions?
“I did not.”
Maybe if I stuff enough of these wrinkly grapes in my stomach, they’ll ferment over time and I’ll be drunk within three years.
I need a new plan.
Grapes of a feather
The girl I am looks like the mural of this bathing lady on the cafe bathroom wall. All the nymphs and sprites are playing in her red hair. All of them are naked, female, mischievous.
I imagine that everyone’s staring so hard at me because they believe this, too.
That’s her, their eyes whisper. She’s the lady from the wall.
I can almost feel the creatures crawling on my scalp.
Hey, I’m sorry. I haven’t been much use lately.
“Meh. Me either. ‘S my fault.” I sip from my steaming coffee mug. “I’ve been super depressed and busy this whole time, anyway.”
Busy being depressed, you mean.
“Sure. What else?”
Well. Drink up, kid. This is it.
Foxes never forget.
The funny thing is
She at least has an excuse. She’s on the phone.
Me and oldy, here? Him with his furiously calculating mouth. Me with my memory-foaming, -reconstructing teeth. Well, we’re flat out fucked for talking to ourselves.
The nice thing about this job is they’re not afraid to let you go home early.
The bad thing about this job is they’re not afraid to let you go home early.
Gone are the days when I can use my car as an impromptu cooler.
How do you decide? You say you’re happy now.
But would you be happier here?
With him? And her? Or that?
I wake Rah up. He always falls asleep after a meeting day. I’d had an equally long day at work, but I’m more susceptible to insomnia. It’s almost time he left now, anyway.
“Is it time left---yet?” he says in his sleep-gritted voice, slumping off me on the couch.
I say, aloud, “Always.”
No means Shut The Fox Up
“Stop asking already.”
“When are you gonna tell me?”
“Never, Axyl, and that’s final.”
“It’s just a bit---odd, is all. Keeping receipts and unaddressed letters. Not crazy, just---”
“Okay, alright---” His hands go up. I refuse to look over at him in the passenger seat. I could see him retreating already. He regretted taking me up on this outing offer. Never trust each other with your romantic destiny. I’m stuck wishing I could tell him anything true.
Destiny is crap.
Romance is stupid when it’s just for something to do.
Who the hell can see Forever?
I’m that kind of coffee drinker
I know every song playing overhead. I was born to be a barista. I shake my boots’ toes into each other under my table, watching the hipster-ish cafe server guy in glasses smile lazily over the coffee fumes at some giggling girls. I know every goddam song.
Madz would chew me out for this. Metal is love is life, so she says.
“Philosophy” by Ben Folds Five
Fox is love is life. I am love am life am fox. I am not a murderer, for fox sake!
Contractions. Watch ‘em.
I’m getting reckless
I glare at the man grazing his lady friend’s sides with drunk fingertips.
“Fuck you, Rah,” I snap.
“The hell’d I do now?”
“You can’t get drunk, you asshole!”
“I’ve always been this way, Fire Ant.”
“And that---!” I stand and gesture at him, drawing eyes from the bar people. “Therein lies allllll your problems!”
“Et tu, hypocrit-eh.” He sips his Coke.
I settle. I slump.
I can’t think of a time he was this. Right.
“I want another.”
telling time [to go fuck itself]
“He has red hair. Well...more auburn.”
“Yeah, but I want a name.” Madz can’t help but grill me about this junk. She knows how I don’t acknowledge its existence when it’s aimed at me and how freaked out I get when she does. She knows the idea of someone hitting on me makes my skin crawl. You people don’t know me. The hell are you coming over here to me with that look for? Sick. “You’ve happened to be alone in a room with the same guy, on purpose, thrice this month. Three’s a pattern, Red. Either you’re making him up or you’re in love.”
“Don’t you sling that word around.” My eyes fix on her harshly. But the storm soon abates when she doesn’t push it further. She knows how sensitive I am about the slanderous use of that word. I feel generous for once. I go on. “He’s as clever as those with copper-colored hair cells should presumably be.”
“I never presumed you were all that clever, when we first met.” She grins deviously when I flip her off. “Come on, Red,” she sighs, leaning her cheek into her palm. “Gimme a name. Just a teeny tiny syllable.”
I throw my head back as if asking every deity, “How can I? What good will that do? It’d only lead to a word. And words are so caging.”
“You asshat, you’re a writer---you’re supposed to say the exact opposite!”
“You name me writer, and look what you’ve done---caged me into a definition. Call me philosopher, misanthrope, coffee-addict, covert asshole, environmentalist, feminist, doormat, grocer, woman---all imperfect, incomplete! Just stupid words---how can they possibly capture anything but---smallness? Words are walls. They only snare.”
“God, I can’t handle you when you get this way. I can’t talk to you right now.”
Good news for people who aren’t people
There’s a telephone that’s been left off its receiver in my head for---a long long time now. If you’re trying to reach me, please leave your message after the---good luck.
Says “we CAN rebuild.” Out of canned foods. (Get it? I didn’t till Rah did. Madz already ribbed me about that, thank you very much.)
It’s okay, cans.
Everyone makes a white lie every now and then.
Playlist of Randomness
“I Can’t Decide” - Scissor Sisters
“The Wicked Ones” - 10 Years
“King For A Day” - Pierce The Veil
“You Make Me Sick” - Of Mice & Men
“Devil’s Night” - Motionless In White
“Go To Hell, For Heaven’s Sake” - Bring Me The Horizon
“I of the Obscene” - Davola
“Problem” - Set It Off
“Fuck You” - Lily Allen
“This Time Is Different” - Evans Blue
“Kick Me” - Sleeping With Sirens
“Gyre” - Nothing More
“Words As Weapons” - Seether
“The Wolfpack” - Hopes Die Last
“Shit In Your Cut” - Modest Mouse
“Is Love Forever?” - Spoon
“Nobody Cares” - Yung
“People Like Me, We Just Don’t Play” - Emarosa
Tonight’s discovery: car radio’s max volume = 35. This is horseshit.
“Tell me again---how it happened?”
“I was heading home after a late shift at The Green Orchard, all grocer-ed out, and decided to randomly take the scenic country route home. Naturally, I was well aware of the wildlife activity around the area, but I still never could’ve known the damn buck would go from standing stalk still to jetting out in front of me in mere seconds. Car was totaled. Deer turned to venison. Rudolph never came to my rooftop again.”
“I love your stories, Red.”
“Axyl, I am one.”
“I love you, Red...”
“Axyl, go home. You’re drunk.”
He was. But he didn’t. Unless he mistook my bed for home again.
It’s another metal band, yeah
“Bring Me The Horizon!” I cackle into the nighttime stormy sky, arms raised in the oncoming rain.
I’m not even home alone this time.
Ax’ll never call again.
Worst part is I can’t get another dog to clog his absence. I’m dirt’s dirt.
words are Walls
Remember when you used to believe in them? The human thing to do...
Remember when I used to believe in anything?
“Yeah…” My coffee’s gone cold in my hands. “Those were---some days.”
“IF I’M CRYING, I MUST NEED A SPUD!”
Gonna take more than a single dirt-spewn root to stop the dams, kid.
“Takes at least six.”
The mother of the high-chaired kid looks at me funny. A lot of people look at me funny. It’s ‘cause they’re not standing upside down and inside out. Naturally, I’ll always look like shit from the wrong angle.
“Remember the days when climbing over a chair was an adventure?”
“You’re an ass, Rah.”
“No, I’m not trying to mock you because you nearly killed yourself trying to sit down---although that was some solid entertainment, thank you---I mean, seriously. You remember being so small---so small that a chair---was---like---a---fuck-ing moun-tain?” He pauses to nestle down in the bar stool beside me. “Like, like---touching the ground---while seated---was such a milestone---!” His eyes were miles gone.
“Not my chair, not my problem.”
He stops listening if I try to change the subject. He couldn’t hear me now if he tried.
Oh, look---he called again.
I had been sitting in my office since after this morning’s eleven o’clock meeting. I literally had not moved. Like an idiot. Sasha was over me. She was the final word now.
“I oughta kill you for not applying.”
“Like you would have been able to handle it, though.”
“I could’ve managed---! Literally. Some sleepless nights, some coffee highs---especially with that kind of money, I could make it work.”
“No. It’s not that much more than you make now, anyway. Besides you can’t even make you work without hiccups. How were you supposed to guide a whole team of actual, real-live people?”
“But it’s still more!”
“You don’t---fucking---need it. The hell many times I gotta tell you this shit---Are you feeling all guilty today again? Dude, you gotta stop letting her get to you like this. You haven’t even had a conversation with the woman in years.”
“Reds,” Rah sighs, leaning into my room. I can’t tell if he didn’t hear anything at all, or if he was just being a wonderfully accepting human being. God, he is. I fucking love that kid. “Drinks tonight? It’s been a long day.”
I nod, playing it cool. Even though I know he knows. And even though I don't really care what people think, as a rule. I still do sometimes.
“You were right not to apply for it.” He smacked the door frame a couple times, giving me a squished sort of smile. “You’re not a yes-gal. You’re a writer, goddammit!”
I laugh despite myself.
We just don't play
I need a new job.
well with others
You think I should stop?
“It’s a baby, fuck you,” I growl.
The mother, out of earshot, bundles up her bundle and bounces into the nearest street shop entrance.
“I still wouldn't touch it.” Madz shudders as she stuffs her hands into her spare change-brimmed pockets. Mine are empty, I note calculatingly. (Sweet, that’s a word! What is, “Suck it,” Spellcheck?)
“Even if it were abandoned and left to die in the ruins of some apocalyptic nightmare?”
“Especially in that case. You know how much dead weight a baby in the apocalypse is? Your dead weight.”
“You really hate kids that much?” says the me in the faux leather coat, triple-pierced ear, and long black boots who can befriend babbling mush-pea-brained infants no faster than she can functioning sharp-mouthed adults.
“Not hate. Fear.”
“I think I fear the end of the world more. Fear surviving it.”
[carcinogens for everyone]
We had to spend the entirety of Earth Day swaddled in the umbrage of a massive plastic tent.
“Should’ve just put up a styrofoam one,” Madz sasses, hands in her jacket pockets.
“And thrown it in the lake afterwards,” I add.
She laughs, “And set it on fire!”
We’re both cackling like hyena nymphs. People stare when I shout, “Carcinogens for ev-er-y-oooooone!”
That’s the thing. I explained it all in the note, and you still can’t listen. Won’t. I mean---did you even fucking read it?
“Islamic plot to hit Vatican revealed”
Prosecutor says plan was abandoned.
Rahim has a problem with memes. Not that he doesn’t get along with them. O contraire. He eats, sleeps and breathes them. Which becomes its own problem. He sends me slideshows upon slideshows of his favorite ones at ungodly hours of the morning and night. ‘Round the clock; can’t tock it.
“OK, Rah-eme,” I say to him when he comes to pester me at my second job. I’m only slightly disappointed that speaking that joke isn’t as effective as writing it. I tell myself to fix its flaws and text this sass to him later. “You’ve got to stop texting me at three or four AM. It’s hilarious for about two seconds the first time, but every other time after that---”
“Hold on, hold on---look at you phone,” he replies without looking up from his cell.
I sigh and obey. This time it’s a gif of Emma Stone and Andrew Garfield embracing. Adorably embracing, I admit. I look up at Rah and cock my head at him.
“I’m Andrew, you’re Emma---forgive me.”
“You idiot.” I smile.
“Right back atcha, luff.” He winks and saunters away down the honey and jam aisle.
“New knowledge is the most valuable commodity on earth.
The more truth we have to work with,
the richer we become.”
another example of caging powerz
“Yes, it’s the two new ones.”
Actually, there’s six new ones. Not just two. Had you said, “Yes, it’s those two new ones,” in regards to the type of lotion bar you’d selected, you would have still been unhelpfully vague but avoided being an incorrect, uppity snoot-shopper.
So says the inner me. The smartass.
“Oh, I see,” says the inner inner me.
Why speak at all?
The smartass should be me.
There’s no such thing as
“You know you’re not allowed to have any real quiet time?” The assistant manager sweeps by my secluded bench perch outside the Green Orchard Grocery entrance. She’s smirking.
I smirk back and sass, “No kidding. I’m just trying to pretend long enough to fake myself out---” I’d say anything to elicit a laugh from folks.
dead SERIOUS, i’m a coffee bean
Dude, are you serious?
This couple across the nigh-empty cafe is having a sitdown with their pastor minister guy about their future marriage.
Guys, just don’t. Don’t get married. Or, if you’re gonna get married, just make sure you’re both not idiots about it.
And that you really love the other.
Speak for yourself.
The barista glances away from me for the last time, I’m sure. No one wants to seek a date from the crazy coffee bean spewing out insults to the vacant air.
But this time, I really wasn’t insulting myself.
Thanks for that.
I was seriously telling the trio of chirping “love” buds to just shut the hell up already. I’m sick of their talk of tradition and ceremonials. Have you actually put any thought into why idiotic rituals go on and on like this? Idiots like you never once had a thought of their own.
I need my coffee. Room for steam.
Solitude; two scoops, please.
if you have any more questions like this
Please hesitate to ask.
Are you depressed again?
Christ, you’re asking me now?
Hey. I’m just here to help.
So am I.
I’m not suicidal.
I just can’t get out of bed.
(Excellent use of contractions!)
(Hey, you too, man! Err...woman!)
I love this little girl savagely chalking up this giant turtle rock sculpture. It’s out on the cafe’s patio. You’re supposed to graffiti the crap out of it, don’t worry, she’s not a delinquent. Each swipe with her next chosen chalk stick color is executed with a delightful twirl of her pink dress. She’s not overweight. Yet. Just wait till middle school hits, when hormones and image and dating statuses come banging down your walls. You’ll be fat in a flash, hideous, awkward, unwanted.
She’s looking at me now. I’ve been caught phasing out, gaping hollowly right at her through the glass. She retreats warily, almost scowling at me.
I think she heard you.
Honesty never gained me one friend.
“Oh, yeah, I came this close---” I assured this frequent shopper of the Orchard’s. “To swerving just far enough to miss the poor creature. But I think it was determined to become venison that night.”
“Goodness!” She put a hand over her heart. “Poor deer---” She smiled and put a hand on me. “Poor dear! That could’ve been devastating, an experience like that!”
Who says it wasn’t?
in the Rye
All that biz about blaming the end of innocence on sex or death or loss---it’s just a game. Sex, death, pain---those are all just potential hints that not everything in life is trying to give us something.
Even then, maybe our perception’s just off.
There are givers, and there are takers.
And there are both.
I think it all is.
more about Cars
“Tell me more. He’s been over three times this week. And for once not on nights I’ve been out of town for work. PATTERNS, Red. Patterns. Spit it out.”
“What do you want from me, Madz?”
“Details! I want details! You don't like anyone enough to---do whatever it is you do with this guy. I know what he looks like, but---Who the hell is he?”
Again. Words. How can I insult him more than usual than by trying to peg him down with language? But I can’t bring this point up with Madz again. I’ll play along. Just this once.
“He’s a butcher. It was his father’s trade and he took it over. He drives a blue car. He owns a dog. And a boat on his parent’s lake house property. He paints, too. When he can. He likes coffee and understands my obsession with foxes. He’s an atheist. And his favorite color is...red.” My stomach hurt. I never enjoy letting people down, whether or not they know about it or ever will.
Madz was pensive for a minute, making a teepee with her fingers, pressing them over her mouth. “Okay,” is all she says.
I stalk out of the room while she asks why I’m upset.
Speech is infuriating. I quit.
I learned how to lie by watching my sister. I got the whole story from her. She’d let her slightly drunk friend drive her brand new car---naturally, he scrapes it right up against the nearest cement-based light post in the parking lot. But what does she tell our mom?
“Some asshole in the parking lot scraped by me and didn’t leave a note!” She winked over Mom’s shoulder as she received a hug and coo of sympathy. All the potential tension---poof, gone. All the mistrust issues resurfacing---nope, not that night. One little well-played lie’s all it took.
I picked up the technique fast. Sometimes I even convince myself.
Isn’t that what we all do?
At least I’m saying it.
Since when did honesty do you any favors?
“Is this---Fleet Foxes??” I crank up Axyl’s stereo.
“Yyyyyup!” He closes his eyes and leans back on the sofa.
I love them. But it comes out some sloppy murmur of, “Eyeluffewe…”
“What's that?” He blinks at me, sleepy and stunned.
The truth’ll really let him down. Might as well just---
I lean over and kiss him.
Of independent means
I don’t remember my first kiss. And not because I was drunk, didn’t know the other’s name, or even that it was all that long ago. I just saw it in my head so frequently as something natural between the two of us that once the action was committed to happen, to follow through just seemed like the obvious end. I did what was asked of me and knew it would be asked. I knew it was inevitable. I just hoped it would mean more than it didn’t.
An idealistic 20-some year-old woman
An unkind 30-almost year-old man
The story begins at a market
Someone telling the truth isn't believed
It's a story about a countdown to disaster
Your character upsets a lot of people
Pt. II, The Set Up
“Well, how long is it gonna take?”
“I don’t know, Ma…” I refused to look up. “I don’t---know.”
“Why do you have so many fox things around here?” Sasha comments about my office this afternoon.
That reminds me...
Yeah, I’m done.
Come on, kid---don’t pretend you didn’t see this coming.
“Well, sure, but---I thought I’d have more time, is all.”
“...Well, fuck. Give me a sec---”
The first of the last confessions
Rahim’s drinking some latte next to me, staying close. We’d been quiet all morning long.
He looks up, like I drew him out of some dreaming state.
“It’s not just a fox, Rah.”
Moving = unpacking a lotta memories.
“You know you don’t have to do this, right?” Madz leans into my bedroom door frame, arms crossed patiently.
I stand to look at her better. “I know. But I should. You and Axyl will be getting married soon enough and all that good shit---”
“You’re so eloquent, Red,” Madz smiles softly back. A lot about her’s gotten softer since she fell in love with someone. That someone specifically and strictly being Axyl. Her hips have cushioned up, her arms grown less bony. She by no means is contracting sudden unfortunate weight gain. I’m serious. Love’s just honestly plumped her out in more ways than one. She’s happy. I’m stunned.
Don’t know about Axyl, so much. I keep forgetting to ask.
With that thought, I shrug it off and go to pack away my packing attempts.
Observation Tower on the Matriarch
Using garlic salt on my stove-popped popcorn always deterred her from eating it. I utilized this precious knowledge every goddam night I made popcorn. And that was every goddam night.
I was convinced she was a vampire. Still think she might be.
props & mayhem
I do this thing.
I do this thing where I converse with my memories. I reenact them over and over and over again, until my heart is sick with distance. Until my attempts to write out the good of the past is ruined with finite little words.
I’m writing this all down. In my journal, as we speak.
And every letter anchors the thoughts down with taint. Write that down, will ya? “Anchored with taint…”
Got it...ah, shit.
’S already ruined.
Everything’s not alright.
Truthful use of contractions!
I do this thing.
I do this thing where I converse with my memories---
“And that’s another thing!” I point and shout to the ceiling. “You watch your tone, woman!”
Madz’s cat is lovely in the sense that she never asks any questions. She just takes everything as it is. Like the collective philosophies of many countless, genetically-predestined human thingings who vow to never abide by their “understandings.” This cat shows us all up.
I turn to her, panting. “Don’t tell me not to get mad when you clearly verge on drawing blood yourself.”
Britches knew I wasn’t referring to her. She just indicated me with her tufty ears and swept like silk against my bare ankles. Cheapest therapy I’ve ever had.
I collapse in a ball and snuggle her close to me.
“Madz, I’m stealing her,” I announce to the empty house. Dog died a year back. I’ll need company in my new house soon.
Hey, you’re almost home now.
What makes you say that?
You’re in the process of leaving…
(Purring issues forth like white noise against my chest.)
“‘I’m sorry for your loss---’” I quote into Britches’ ears before kissing them.
“Shit, I forgot my home at phone---”
Haha---I’m such an idiot.
Ranting about button pins
There’s always a risk to button pins. You buy them, you pin them, you even super glue them on real nice---chances of losing it despite all your best efforts still run rampant.
I gaze across the bookstore and think of someone I forgot to send a note to a long time ago. I forgot again.
About making room for assholes in my life
No one can do worse to me than I’ve already done to myself.
They understand me so well. Both groups tell the best stories. We are all so very interesting. And I collect broken things. Including all I’ve ever
Axyl brought over a donation of a half gallon of chocolate milk to our fridge. While he was upstairs caboodling with Madz before they’d leave, I spot it. Glance to Britches by my feet. Listen for approaching footsteps. Sneak the first sip. Put it back. Steal another.
Las mentiras, tarde o temprano, siempre se descubren.
“A relentless ride…The bloke can write.”
That’s all I want anyone to say about me when I’m done.
insert title here
How do I even begin to describe my philosophy to you?
Everyone will laugh.
They don't even know; understand---
---and they never will.
Let’s call the whole thing off.
If you go I go.
So where am I? Oh. Right. Here.
Nooks & Crannies
That’s an important date because it’s the Anniversary.
If this tells you anything about how my mind
there’s nothing perfect. but there’s
perfection in I just don’t know it yet
I know I’m about to tell you---I already knew.
Yep, and now I see it. Symbolism’s all crap.
My mother is the reason I'm late for everything. Career happiness. Scholarly freedom. Sexual awakening. Personal success. Punch lines. The like.
Those were certainly some days
I learned how to spell the word “cooperation” by staring fervently and frequently at the backs of my primary school’s bathroom stalls. Each had tacked onto it a sign that asked the user not to flush feminine hygiene products. And ended with, “Thank you for your cooperation.” My dog’s name was Cooper. So amidst all my nigh-daily trips to the bathroom with volatile stomach aches, I managed to find some shoddy respite as I slumped miserably against the red-paint-chipping stall wall. I’d focused over and over and over, time after time after time on the only word I could etch out of there. I was six, for fox sake. But soon I could mumble out like some healing chant, “Cooper-ay-shun. Cooper-ay-shun.” And that’s how I learned to break big words down. And that’s how I totally aced my spelling tests.
But I still always puked.
Gut feelings; go with ‘em
My mom once told me that Louisa May Alcott’s relationship with her own mother was allegedly “rocky” and “not good at all;” “couldn’t agree on anything.” I was about eleven at the time. I just remember blinking knowingly at her from across the kitchen table. Before the divorce. Before the religion. Before the daughter I’d become would fulfill her nightmares’ prophecies. I knew. She was scoffing Alcott’s familial status, as though that happening to us would be simply unheard of, unthinkable, sinful. I made no response. But my insides were shrieking, “Dude, this is gonna be us someday!”
But I always hated it when my gut knew better before I did. So I refused to give it the glory of control and authority. Those I selfishly, irresponsibly retained for myself.
Only good that came of that: I make fucking up look easy.
And another thing---
I always wanted to say to the friend I keep not forgetting:
“If ever I cry---about anything---ever---it’s not because of you. It’s never because of anyone or anything...out there. No one can do worse for me than myself. I am the only one who can build or destroy this body. So take your best shot. You could never hurt me if you tried. And god knows you’ve tried.”
I am my only enemy.
And me, too.
I just said that.
I remember bringing Axyl home for the first time---with Madz still there, that is. I figured it would ease her question-buzzing skull. I think it worked. I noticed she stopped asking about him after the ninth time they encountered one another. And that’s also around the time I realized my new mission.
You ever seen actual love drawn taut between two people? Ever see it sprout like strangling weeds? Spread like a mutating virus that seeks to pillage every last living cell in a body? Spew like puke across the room between the two?
Yeah, it ain’t pretty. It’s revolting. Upheaval-ing. Silent as hell, too. When it first comes to light. The two It’s between don’t even admit to Its presence. Onlookers, however, feel It fill up the whole room, pressing every other body to the limits of the premises. Watching Axyl and Madz, I knew immediately what element must be extracted to remedy this catastrophe.
let me explain
Siddhartha has me saying that Chef Ramsay is a star among falling leaves. I am a star among falling leaves. Anyone above or below the set eye-height of the average mill-abouter earthling (metaphorically speaking) is a star among falling leaves. Three times
so smooth you can hear the beard
I was more than once referred to as a “stalker” photographer in Journalism Class senior year in high school. Because I caught people off guard a lot. I snuck in and took a shot when they least suspected it, when they were focused, when they were convinced of their own greatness or uselessness, when they busted out laughing or dancing or frowning or thinking. And they were embarrassed. To be caught in a moment of honesty? Honestly, I’m the one with the problem?
At least I always had the kindness to capture them at the most flattering angles. All shadow beneath the jawline, no double-chins, glazed eyes, or blurred movements. Captured clear and bright. More than they did for me. My closest friends intentionally took undershots, accentuating the roundness beneath my jaw that I was already so acutely aware of. The last thing I needed was them laughing innocently enough at an image of myself that I adamantly revoked as false. I knew I was a pudge monster, overweight at best---didn’t have to remind me in every goddam photo. Not one, not one of you asked if I would prefer to be left out---you sucked me right in and I….I never wanted that, guys. I guess, in your defense, I didn't even see it till now, how apart I was made to be. Despite how much extra space my body took up in those days, I liked to imagine I was small---small enough to vanish at the first wisp of fructification.
If Lord of the Flies had been all girls, I would’ve been the fat Simon everyone loved to kill. And yet no one realized they did.
Who’s holding the conch now?
Heian Period Blood
“powdered faces & blackened teeth”---do you love me now?
(Loved you way back then.)
You’re not real, you’re not even here.
I wish you’d just---leave me alone.
“Do you forgive me?”
Of course---I asked too soon.
You’ve got fail
Fan mail. Huh. Hadn’t seen him since the move. His move. He’s gone. Can’t believe he’d honestly tracked my penname down to the most obscene corner of the Internets. And then honestly felt moved enough by that shitty semblance of a novel to send me any sort of correspondence. He was always too good. Never knew why he clung to me. I never returned an ounce of his kindness. Not even the kiss.
Raheme, it’s good you left while you couldn’t.
“Anger is better. There is a sense
in anger. A reality and presence.
It is a lovely surging.”
Thingsneedtogetdone, thingsneedtogetdone, thingsneedtogetdone---shit.
You’ve been saying that for centuries.
It id a lovely surging
“I don’t understand!” Axyl huffed, pulling at his roots. “I don’t understand where this is coming from!”
No, course he didn't. Never understood much of anything.
Now that's not fair---he’s intelligent, but...not like me. Sounds contemptible, but I’m just speaking. He has his moments, his shiny bits and ideas. But we are not meant for much more than agreeing with each other’s company long enough to lull us off to sleep. We bore each other. We’re so not in love, we actually love each other. We love---and we disgust one another. Two years or not---we could never be more than favorite comfort foods gone blase. And I’ve all but lost my appetite.
“I’m just not hungry anymore, Axyl.”
“But you could bitch all night about wanting to leave now to get what you wanted to eat---now you’re not even hungry? Now ev’rything’s closed, now ev’ryone’s pissed ‘cause I left first and now look like a dick. Thanks, Red, thanks---really done me a kindness by all this.”
And watching him stalk off to the car through the palling mist, I knew he’d look back at the irony of his words. Just like he looked back at me from the driver’s door. And I saw the resolution of flight in his face. Yeah. A kindness. Each stalking step away from me was one closer to Madz. But he was none the wiser. My plan was loosed in full swing.
I welcome the ridding of me.
32 Reasons I Should Be Alone
Proper age for a single young bachelorette degree to move out on her own for the first time. I gave Madz a hug. Even shouldered one for Axyl.
“Thanks for putting up with me.”
“Red, you know you’re always welcome here.” That came from Axyl.
Madz just tossed her arms around my neck again.
I patted her finally, tugging away, gingerly picking up the last bag I needed to transplant to my new apartment stakeout. “I’ll let you guys know as soon as I’m receiving guests!” I winked and waved, walking out for the last time as tenant to that place, those people. They smiled. And I think they tried to believe for a moment that I really would uphold my words. But they know me.
I know me. I’ll go to stone in solitude. Love it, personally.
I accidentally bumped my bag against the seat as I loaded it up front. From the open zipper, a frustrated mew was thrown back at me.
“Shut yer face, Britches, do you want them to find out?”
Center alignment, activate
I’m sitting here in this room. ‘S not mine. Doesn’t matter whose. Point is, it’s five in the morning, I’ve been glued to this couch for the last seven hours, wide awake, writing and reading on and off, friend gone to bed. But I don't leave. I just can’t. The thought of exerting the energy it would take to walk all the way down to the lobby, out to the dark parking lot, with a twenty-some minute drive to look forward to before landing at home and having to clean up for work---why the fuck hasn’t teleportation been a thing yet? Come on, guys. Let’s get on this.
Why is it that every other English peer I’ve ever admired has also admitted to exhibiting false energy? Let me explain.
I don what I call Entertainer Mode. Go into this...pleasant funk where I’m all smiles, all engaging, all charm and wit and sass. But it’s only a mask for Carnavale. And apparently Carnavale is meeting new people, is interacting with strangers, customers, idiots, is everygoddamday.
“What if...what if I don’t wanna repair what I’ve broken? What if...there’s nothing good that could come from calling again?”
I stared at the empty space on the sofa beside me. You were there.
“It’s not that I don’t recognize I was wrong at times---the blame is smeared across my face, I know. But I can see. I can see every potential outcome, every scenario playing before me---and they all self destruct. And that’s it. We’ll kill ourselves, the longer we force our lives to coincide. I’m so tired of endless points…”
Fell asleep to the greatest movie of the year. Dreamt of you, for once.
Kitsch Hen Nigh T’maters
Dumbfuck chef says: “You don’t like the food, you can get the fuck out.”
No. You listen. You opened this establishment with the purpose of providing delicious food for your patrons and neighbors. You invited us in. We don’t like the food? You better change your fuckin’ standards. You’re here to serve us, you need us. We don’t like your shit, we’ll go. You refuse to change, that’s fine. ‘Cause if you piss us off, we’re gone. And if we don’t come back, you die.
“kinda hoping he’ll die in this episode”
You know your drink-inspired senior thesis paper is fucked when your sentences start to open with, “Otherwise, how the hell would you explain---”
Sorry, Dr. Bugajski.
I think I need another drink.
about the assholes and fuckups again
I collect them all---Yes, like Pokemon. Only...not in portable sphere-pens. Gets a little too cramped, they told me.
Understanding the theory of the moon
Of course there’s more mischief beneath a full moon. There’s more light. Sunlight, just reflected. And the molecules that make us up are the same molecules that dance and twinge and get angsty in the heat of a spotlight. So we act strange---we leap when we should slumber, attack when we should sleep, drive when we should string up a catcher. We react to the light. It gets into our skin---and isn’t it strange? Close your eyes, next time a ray hits you---feel it. For once you’re a part of this odd-kiltered universe. And it becomes glaringly obviously when all those molecules catch fire and spin.
I am pain.
I nod. Yup.
When you start believing your own metaphors, you’re lost.
I nod. Yep.
“She married a man with a slash in his face instead of a mouth.
So how could she understand?”
“...but she learned all there was to love
and all there was to hate.”
In lieu of the last thing
I never married, just to clarify. I held off till I was 26 before I even had a meaningful relationship. It took me till the end of that to disenchant me from---a lot of the past, really.
That ever happen to you?
All the fucking time.
I used to do this thing where I’d literally pause in mid-motion, close my eyes to slits just wide enough to allow them to catch on the passing breeze and fly into the sockets of my imagined character. This time a real character. I’d empathize so well---I was just six years old. I’d force myself inside someone else’s skin and imagine. Looking down and seeing these busted up clownish shoes, the only ones left mostly intact. These dark-as-night hands turning over to be light as moons. Down this hawkish nose to brush a Cheezit crumb from my beard. Reminiscing over the empty space once occupied by my dominant arm. Squirming in the agony of a hundred separate spikes breaking into my skull.
I remember everything. Maybe that’s why I’ve always cringed when no one else has been able to return the favor.
“I’ve surpassed wanting. I don’t know what I want because I’ve gone beyond it.”
How the hell do you swing that?
“I’ve been shown by myself, and most of my experiences, that Wanting = Pain. And I never get what I want. So I eventually taught myself not to want. Therefore I have also surpassed pain.”
So...how empty are you, actually?
Void. And I can see how an outsider would look aat me and worry that I’m snuffing out something essential to my humanity---but t this point of my evolution, I can’t honestly feel a thing. So it never harms me. See if I can care.
Pt. IX: Back it at
This is the beginning.
Here’s how I knew we’d been fucked long before it all fell through: I immediately never trusted your use of words. Example:
“Really? ‘Docent’? I don’t even think that's a word. I think you're just making that up.”
“No! Really! It means tour guide, or you know, like an art tour giver---And that’s what I volunteered to be.” She proceeded to imitate leading a crowd of people around, gesturing to phantom objects of interest at her sides.
I proceeded to march my skeptical ass outta that room and towards the nearest dictionary.
D---D, D, D, D, D-O----ah, “docent.” Hm. Yep! Story checks out.
And with the slam of that massive, dusty, religious text, all was calm. I believed her.
Isn’t that the way with all religions? Hold on, let me check my book before I think---
It’s okay with language, with metaphors, with docile pursuits of the intellectual.
It’s not okay with absolutists, cowards, egotists, and zealots. These are the one-track minds, the dangerous kind, the weakest. And it’s not painless to say this; I know and love so many of us---
Note to author---
Reminder to use this as the last line of your book:
All solutions begin with honesty.
So you’d better start now.
I’ve been hurtful.
I’ve been lying.
My name is Hollyhock. Hollyhock Allred, daughter of one poet and two gardeners.
I don’t believe in the past anymore.
All answers are within you from conception---yeah, even that far to the start.
I searched; I knew. Or so I thought.
Songs became my speech.
I never wanted to let go, even though no one was ever let in.
I’ve loved someone---love someone. Someones.
I won’t promise; at least not where it’s not due.
I’ve killed something. Maybe somethings. Definitely somethings.
I’m sleeping with irony.
I’m aligned with the foxes---lovely and lonely and ever-devoted to one isolation, one love, many tricks.
My locket’s always empty.
Nothing gets that close.
But I love you, guys, I know I do.
But you don’t.
And I can’t speak when the entirety of existence is rammed down my throat.
You think I’m too poetic.
I think I’m too poetic.
Honesty’s all I got left.
If there’s anything I’m good at, it’s pretending I didn’t hear.
If there’s anything thing I’m bad at, it’s pretending I’m anchored.
I never once hit anything with my car, my fists, or my presence, actually.
Stories are just much easier to fabricate and reveal when you can detach yourself from your character being put into purgatorous predicaments.
I was born for this; I was formed a caretaker.
I do not recognize myself from hours ago.
Did I say that? Did I write it?
I haven’t finished a thing since I started my life.
I don’t feel much like starting now.
I have a story---means nothing to someone and something to no one.
For you, Unforgettable
“Except for apples”
Maybe if you didn’t use that accusatory
tone when you told me I’m peeling my
banana wrong—maybe I’d be feeling
more invited, less attacked, and thus
more able to respond casually to justify myself.
“Why is it wrong?” I indulge your enthusiasm.
“You’re not supposed to grab at the stem,
but the tip. The top’s best.”
“Well, isn’t the point just to get the damn
thing out of there?” I laugh, trying to
diffuse your intensity.
“No! You’ll squish it if you do it wrong!”
Apparently you won’t trust me to do it
right. “Trust me; nobody wants the nasty
backwash of banana society.”
And you leave before I have time to tell you—
I like soft, bruised fruit the best.
And that’s why I picked you for a friend.
Ander Monson on the Midwest like me
Monson, you don't hate yourself---maybe you hate rules a bit too much; maybe you enjoy playing devil's advocate and keeping people on their toes. Well, so do I.
“More Weight” by Perspective, a Lovely Hand to Hold
It’s getting hard here
I’ve got a lot of shit on my plate
It feels like there might be more weight to come
Everyday I wake up sober
And I fall asleep the same
It’s just a game that we play
To feel alive
With a corpse by my side
I miss those gorgeous hazel eyes
It’s getting hard here
It’s early autumn, but the leaves are already bombarded with a blast of snow. They look like miserable, wet mammals beneath their layer of ephemeral permafrost. Forecasters claim it’ll all met by Monday. Back to standard sweater weather. I stand at the front of the house, watching a little girl shriek with laughter as she sprinted down the street with a terrier at the end of her leash. Britches watches with me.
“Would you kill me if I ended up getting a dog?”
Britches blinks disinterestedly through the glass.
“...I hate religious rules. They are usually about controlling women.
On Sundays when other people go to wood-and-stone churches,
I like to take my daughters into the woods.
Or at least work in the garden and be outside.
Any god we have is out there.
I’d hate to be certain that there was nothing.
When it comes to God, I cherish doubt.”
Somethings’re Untouchable, Unforeseeable, Undreamt
That’s the thing about this life. Things are not fair; they are not even. And no matter how much you love someone---it may never amount to anything. Anything you can touch.
Is writing a lonely life for you>>>?
“Strangely, I think it is. I am surrounded by an abundance
of family and friends, and yet I am alone with the writing.
And that is perfect.”
Can you think of a time when you didn’t do it?
Talk to yourself.
Yeah, I remember it, too…
Those were the days I’ll always remember to forget.
Wish I didn’t have to.
Wishes are for chumps.
You don’t want to hear it, but you know you’d go back and do something different.
But I can’t. You can’t change anything once it’s done so why struggle with remorse.
Not saying you should. But what can you do now? You can always fix it, if you know it’s broken and you know you have the heart for it.
Some things are too far gone to be salvaged. Some things are too far away.
You never were. Not for him, not for the best of ‘em. Don’t you lie. Don’t you start the poisoning again.
You sure are chatty today.
Well, what can I say? I am my own therapist.
I heard that was impossible and reckless to do.
Since when have those adjectives ever thwarted you?
….So you really think I should call him?
You’ve been bringing him up enough. I think---
---I know. I have to call him.
I grapple for my satchel across the cafe table and grope around its open maw for my cellphone; somewhere in there…
I open up the cover flap, fingertips trembling in eagerness---!
There was a text. From Madz. The preview for it read:
I know you have Britches, I can’t believe you…
But that’s all I can read. My heart ices up and I make the screen go dark as I swallow hard and feel a weight settle in my gut.