Siga postagens com os marcadores #prose, #spilled ink e #writing em alguns segundos.Criar conta
My palms: embossed with loose change for cheap plastic laced in acrylic and glitter, 25 cent statuaries of affection abounding on my prosthetic fingers, soft and malleable against my teeth, murky car windows, restless-leg kneecaps.
I crank these rings from turnstile distractions halted beside grocery store exits out of compulsion for a compulsion; they are the only things keeping my fingers still, keeping me from cracking them out of their sockets or breaking them into mangled, calcified dust, keeping me from sliding them around my hips and fumbling them through my hair and twisting them over one another like contorted, two-bit magic tricks. They scratch my scalp before the thoughts burgeoning up to the skin formulate action, satiating a quiet degree of regret in the outspoken.
Often, I watch how my fingers move, how they twitch and falter slightly, hesitantly, when I reach for high shelves, when I reach out in the middle of the night for something, nothing. They keep me awake by tapping on my temples. They need to stretch. They need to scream.
Once, on a trip to Walmart, I realized I wasn’t wearing a ring, and I tore apart my car searching for some spilled change. I only found a dime and a nickel, so I scanned the parking lot, neck bent, aching, until the yellow lines disappeared into double-vision, until I couldn’t lift my head to see the cars turning down the aisles, until my fingers began to quake like the quivering water in a glass before tremors rip apart foundation.
I bit my fingernails to keep them from clawing into my throat and walked, hands in mouth, into the store to nudge concentrated shoulders into listening to my cheap, desperate plea for a dime. A woman with a lazy eye whirling in sympathy dropped one into my twitching hand, and I quickly asked a cashier to turn my fragmented quarter into a whole one. The sound of the crank as I twisted it in seemed to soothe my fingers like conditioned dogs. The ring that spiraled down the funnel was ocean-blue, shimmering with the reflected explosion of stars, and my finger was just as easily submerged when I slipped it on.
I had forgotten my groceries, but honestly, I didn’t want to shop anymore. This ring would keep me still until I got home, where I would slip more rings onto the other fingers and lean back in a chair and exhale, exhale, exhale.
my fingers would pick cattails and poinsettias
and put them in windowsills
just like everyone else does.
they would touch something without destroying it,
without pulling it
just like everyone else does.
We never let go of what ails us. This compulsion tugs tight into a knot that will not relinquish. I can make an oath to myself as I slip on each ring in the morning, and it will break easier than this ever-hungry obsession consuming my self-control. I bookmarked the definition of my illness on my computer, because it’s the closest I can get to explaining myself to myself, but I never finish reading the symptoms.
It’s terrifying to know they are all true.
it’s okay to be fragile as long as you’re not breaking. you are delicate, transparent, but not everyone will know how to hold glass. you have to learn to hold yourself so you don’t shatter when they drop you. you are already a million shards of worry, a million pieces of regret. hold yourself. don’t break, don’t shatter.
Window Muse on the Last Day of May
Chocolate rainbows. Double decker buses piled high with tourists and flashy cameras. All of them ready. All of them primed. Fingers waiting anxiously on the triggers of their cameras. The nervous ones flash off. CLICK CLICK. Gun shy. Quick photos of street lights, parked cars, pedestrians, window front cafes, dogs tied to trees, all of them mistakes. Dangerous men walk these streets. Bend over and give the busking celebrities 25 whole cents and a cup of coffee, milked simply with cream sugar and basic butter. These are the times we read about in the history books.
Everybody is anxious. A little boy stands at the back of the bus and wags his finger at the stream of pedestrians who are lost in each other’s pockets. He nods knowingly, gifting, grifting past the shallow pock marks of yesterday’s bread, thrown out in heaps of wasted. Buckling benches sport crafty men who connive and chortle, choking on the breath of a silent scream.
These days no one is safe. Empty streets or not, dead men still bury the living in the park next to Max’s. That’s where all the flowers have gone. Yesterday there were tulips and now we only have black eyed Susans.
A beautiful woman. All fingers and toes. She has the kind of smile that makes a man think about things. Maybe he’ll run away with her. Carry her up in his big strong arms and whisk her away to his boat that’s docked in the nearby harbor. Probably has all the amenities of land living. A girl could get used to that kind of living, I think. Give her enough of anything and then take it away. But tell her how she can earn it back. That’s how to trick em. Give em something and take it away. It worked with the Indians.
Judicial hearings have finished for the day and the senators and congressmen spill out into the street. They’re holding hands and looking for cheap coffee. Each one wears a suit of tailored perfection and the sympathy that carries them binds their hands to their pockets. But in the lengths of their coattails are lots of sands and big old brass rings that they trade with one another over stories of casual conquest. Perhaps the bus riders have grown too complacent and the cameras they hold have been empty all along.
Because I watch the world from my window and I haven’t been outside in years. But it was only yesterday when I saw it, and I looked twice in case I missed it. But there was a man with a child in his hat. Bending over big necked, bowl eyed ladies with drooping eye wax. He was telling them this story I had heard one time, big yarn, selling it to them by the string. They were eating it up. Chewing with their mouths open. Passing the word to their friends like the whole thing was one big game of broken telephone. Message was skewed and when it finally got back to the man he looked confused. So the child jumped out of his hat and started asking for pennies. Course I threw him some coppers -being the charitable fellow that I am - he thanked me kindly with a practiced nod. He headed for the bus stop, pausing only to clean the hat off his hands, done with the whole affair. I think about that sometimes when the world passes me by on the street or in the sky. I think about that sometimes because I think that I’ve thought all the things I could think and now I look for something different.
My mother used to send me logic, but I haven’t heard from her in some time. Maybe I’ll see her someday in the rain. Using her umbrella upside down. Making a pool for the ghost of my father. I’ll count to see how long he can hold his breath. But I’m betting that it’s longer than forever.
Here’s the thing, here’s the stuff I last cried over: I’ve always been too much for men. I remember coming home from the bar one night and a car had run over a white cat on my street. I was drunk and I saw it from my doorstep. I ran out into the street and one blue eyeball had rolled out of her head and I sat next to it and cried. When my boyfriend caught up, he tried to pull me away. Said, C’mon. Let’s go. Picked me up by the bone of my right elbow.
They always said c’mon. Like it was so wrong. Every time I broke down was so wrong. I was twenty-two and I had two cats I loved who lived a hundred feet away from where this had happened and the cat, this dead, squashed cat, came on our stoop sometimes.
I sat in the four walls of my therapists office today and I cried, which I hate more than most things. I said, I just…I just want someone who is okay with the range of me. I don’t want c’mon and let’s go and calm down. God, fuck, I am calm nearly all of the time now. I am quiet and calm and I handle bullshit like it’s a favorite pet or a drink I don’t want to spill. My mess, my C’mon, Amanda, comes out in my writing now. I’ve channeled it there and that’s great. But, I am entitled to laying in the tub yelling at the ceiling, scribbling with green ink through each peeled layer of post-its, crying when a day deserved four hours not twenty-four.
I want to go back to the night of the cat sometimes and do what I wanted to do. Pick her up without gloves or a rag and carry her to a spot in my front garden until I can find a shovel in the morning to bury her. I went up to bed instead with a stupid, silly man who told me It’s fine, you’re okay, which of course I was. That wasn’t the point.
- i feel like a bag of groceries forgotten outside on the second to last stair on a winter night. the phone rang when you entered the house and you forgot to rush down to grab the rest, to pick me up. i’m full of unimportant things, things that won’t change your immediate well being.
in fact, i’m full of things that you didn’t need, but thought you wanted. you’ll remember tomorrow morning or in a couple hours, but by then someone’s passed the step and they peeked inside. maybe they can use what i’ve got, but probably not. they’ll feel guilty to see me sitting there without a place to go and will pick me up gently and throw me in the trash.
I want to remember all the sunsets I painted over black in my memory;
All the laughter I speared with contempt and the taste of vomit;
Forget the dimmed lights and smoky rooms and fake chuckles and half-smiles and eyes-like-daggers;
And the noise of it was the worst, the noise in my head:
On repeat, on a loop, all the questions I had to ask and all the checks and balances to keep in order and all the numbers to count and the marks to tally and the scales to break and the money to spend and the money to earn and the money to burn.
Burn it all.
It is eight-thirty in the morning, eastern-standard time, on a random Wednesday. A young man, who feels just a touch beyond his years is quietly puffing away on his cigarette. He thinks to himself - “this one will be my last“- but he wonders about his reasoning. The idea, the very idea of a last cigarette instigates a thought process in his brain, it’s all so consuming, and it ends in a belief that this one cigarette will taste better than all others before it. Why? Why? Why?
He extinguishes it, and lets it hit the pavement below his worn-out Addidas Samba sneakers. He bought them two years ago, and even though they’re covered in holes, and are no good in even the smallest of rain storms, he simply cannot allow himself to let them go. He always loved things that were broken, because to him - they weren’t. He believed in the idea of character, and that scars give people, and things an unmistakable quality. These imperfections are what make us different, and through these tiny chasms, light radiates, it exposes the greater depth beneath the surface. Tiny little mountains of untold wealth lie inside of us all, and he…he would climb them.
Today, he is madly in love with romanticized ideas, kissing in the rain up-top the Empire State Building, holding hands in the crowded streets of New York City, or going on long quiet drives to nowhere, in his Chevy, while listening to Elvis. Everything around is only a blur, but you can see the heat in the heart of another, so exposed in the iris of their minds eye. It’s blue, but it isn’t sad either, its just pumping so pure. He feels a touch possessed, but he has no desire to be exorcised, for he believes these ghosts mean him no harm. They’ve taken up residence inside his heart, and built a home beneath his breast bone.
The little embers sputter out within the confines of last nights rain, little puddles are scattering the streets, and he wonders if perhaps someone from above has been using the semi-frozen tundra as a canvas. He was never addicted to cigarettes, he just liked how they made him feel, little tiny stress reducers - when the occasion called for it, but he knows now there is something greater in the world than how he looks, or how strong he appears. Character is built from within, it does not manifest from one’s outward image. He finally feels as if he has more to live for than that, he will no longer allow the smoke to penetrate his winded lungs. He must stay alive now. He knows he has been dismembered, but it is a happy procedure, because he finally feels as if he can be vulnerable, and if for only a moment - lay his had on the shoulder of another to rest awhile.
Token of the Memory
I’m watching an American flag swaying in the breeze when I feel a cramp, a twinge, something pulling my eyes closed, shrinking my veins, drying my lungs.
It wraps itself around my windpipe and I’m thrust backward, frozen in time with such clarity that I can remember exactly where I was sitting, what I was wearing, how I was thinking about some TV show.
I am aware that not something, but someone forlorn, alone, bulky, and twisted calls out to me like a child swept away by the tide.
Your voice, almost a yowl, wobbles and cracks and breaks, and if broken bones and defective organs somehow could speak, it would be that voice: the sound of helplessness and isolation and vulnerability.
It’s as clear as if you’re speaking to me right now, coming from the notches on the wall, from underneath a frozen puddle, from the seeds of plants that were never healthy enough to grow.
Your soul is a forest of things stunted by pain and deformed in their growth, like the way a tree seems to swallow a rope, forming bulges and caverns around it.
Your eyes are oceans of festering, unhealed emotions that grow arms and legs of their own and become you. You’re made up of so many unpleasant stressors and triggers and wounds that you become your own planet, a world where things warp and twine and lash.
I come to not knowing where or who I am.
Am I you? Am I myself? Who am I?
The American flag sways once more, wrapping around itself, and I can almost see you standing underneath it, one hand gripping a memento, the other reaching for me, begging me to come back.
I was young once. I saw the world through this telescope lens you do, always looking at something far away transfixed on a point that I can’t possibly get to, blind to what’s in front of me. They always told me that one day I would learn, and on that day part of me would die, I never believed them. Part of me still doesn’t, but that part of me is but a memory. A photograph pinned to the subconscious of a broken generation, and a cross for the new one to bear. All I have left are these thoughts, these wrinkles, and my memory. But even with how much I’ve forgotten over the years, I remember more then you’ve ever seen.
I remember running from the police and hiding out in local speakeasies back in the days when music was booming and liquor a godsend. I was a draft dodger, or so they said. I always liked that term, it made me out to be more of a villain then my lanky stature suggested, like something out of faded comic book lore. “ CAPTAIN AMERICA FIGHTS THE EVER ELUSIVE DRAFT DODGER ON HIS WAY TO KILL THE NAZIS AND SAVE AMERICA FROM COMMUNISM” complete with some trading cards, a crackerjack bag and a carton of smokes. It’s not that I was a coward, it’s that I hated violence and war, and couldn’t see anyone deserving of being killed, especially by someone like me. I wasn’t a fucking killer, I was some kid hiding from the cops with enough courage to say fuck the world but not enough to do it to it’s face. All that changed when I snuck into a theater one night though, I saw the shit that was going on there and it was unlike anything I’d ever seen before. People were being hurried like cattle, stuffed into makeshift slaughterhouses and killed, without even the common decency to use their body. At least cows are put to fucking use. After seeing that I knew I had to go, and so I hopped onto the first plane out and started my love affair with the scarlet serenade.
The first thing I remember was just looking at all the kids on the plane, wide eyed and doe faced. Bambi’s going out to fight the fucking wolves, yeah this should be great, he can take em’ no problem, he’ll just cute em’ to fucking death. The ground below us was being bomed to shit, and what little grassland was their before was now a testament to how much we willed ourselves into hating each other. No one really cared though, we all jumped from our parachutes like moving targets and scrambled into the trenches to live like rats in the nooks of kitchen cabinets. We couldn’t hear shit, or at least I couldn’t , between men being blown to bits, machine gun bullets firing off like angry typewriters, and bombs soaring through the air like ravenous metallic exploding seagulls I had lost touch with everyone and everything in front of me and simply gave myself up to the moment. I think that’s what kept me alive as when I ran off everyone else was killed. I found these two Czech brothers Gregor and Boris, and they created a fake identity for me. I was Mikhael Greznich head gunner for the Russian Army’s battalion 34227, which meant that for the time being I had an in with the S.S and the communist party. Buddy buddy with two of the worst men in history, and both of them showed me nothing but respect.
When I got into the camps it was like stepping onto a movie set. Everything looked and felt so surreal, as if this physically couldn’t exist and their had to be some smoke and mirror trick behind it, but no, the only trick was the nightly dissappearing act where mountains of corpses miraculously vanished, right before we fed the jews. I snuck in real food, and broke as many of them out as I could before they caught on, but eventually all things come to an end. I was cornered, I rain into an alley and the bullets were lagging shortly behind gaining ground fast when suddenly I was pulled aside by a pilot, and flew to one of the most remote places in the world at the time, Colombia.
In Colombia, cash is king. But I’m sure you know that. I fell in love with a white witch and made her my own, and before you could say “ La cocaina no es buena para su salud” I was king. I owned mountains of product, and used it to better my people, and myself. I built hospitals for current and former customers as a way to keep revenue flowing, and built up the streets as a way to save face in the local papers. I bought out the police force and the army, and soon the whole country bowed to me. It’s funny what a little money and some incentive can do for ya. I was soon taken down by the americans though, betrayed by the people I nearly died for. Was this their revenge for me not going down with them? I’ve never quite understood the dichotomy of how I’m a bad guy, not only am I giving these people a service, but I’m also fixing up their country. The well ran dry and for a moment, everything was normal again. I was on the run, and they were doing the right thing by trying to kill me. It was 1953.
I was in New Mexico, with just enough white noise to start a conversation. My name was Andres Versace and I was here to look for a few new looks. Word of my arrival spread quickly and the cops went on high alert. With all the bad comes the good though, I was praised as being a hero of this town, pleaded to do the same for them as I did for Colombia. A group of men joined me on my quest to earn a living the only way I knew how, and we called ourselves The Molotovs. We saw what dire shape the city was in and went in to fix it, by any means necessary. Me and Scarlet killed hundreds of men, but not one died in vein. Each one went to tell a story, each one important in their own way. Each message sent shock waves through the city, and the people went from crying in the streets to celebrating under a fountain of blood. We were heroes, but maybe we got a little too big for our talent.
There’s always a point for every hero where the legend outlives the man, the name surpasses what it stands for. I ain’t no hero but this is a damn good place to start. We were boarded up in an apartment building near the outskirts of the city. I was wrapping up another wholesale when we heard gunshots come from across the street, gunshots that weren’t from us. Carlos Gonzalez and his gang heard that we were out here taking away his business, and he wasn’t happy about it. He nearly killed me back in Colombia but I escaped with my life after trading mine with his. I became him that night, like it or not. He was generous, but fuck with him and he’d kill without hesitation. I was the same, I gave away my snickers bars to the kids whenever I could because I knew they had no clue what it tasted like. They came up at the same time the police did, and I jumped. I landed hard on the pavement and closed my ears hearing gunfire sure this would be the end. When I opened them Carlos was bleeding out on the ground and the police were moving closer to me. I knew I had one option at this point, and it was not something I felt comfortable doing. We all make our own adjustments.
Some say I’m a ghost, running the city from beyond the grave, some say I’m still running the show from letters I send to the other Molotovs, some say I’m just a dead and buried has been. They’re all right in there own respective ways. Personally, I think I’m just a guy waiting to see where I get to go tomorrow, and what I get to do when I leave. I’m just as much a memory as the shit I’m known for, and just as much alive as what I’m going to do next. What I do know however is I’m back, somewhere, somehow, and I’m here.
Just try and fucking stop me.
we all get those morning blues. grey spilling through the teeth of a city skyline. cold coffee, with sugar crystallised at the bottom. it seems more poetic to drink coffee black and bitter, but it always tastes foul to me, just as it seems foul to peep through the metal blinds in the mornings, and see only grey. grey in the concrete, grey in the skies. grey in the broken wings of birds. (do pigeons still count as a bird, or have they morphed into that incomprehensible smudge of grey?) wings the same as concrete the same as the sky. it all seems foul, in a sort sacred way. hopeful. grey mixed with the first light, cracked through the shell of the sky. grey melting with the a cup of reheated coffee, with the first smile of the morning from hard cheeks. morning blues meeting the city’s blues as it pulls itself awake from the early morning hangover, hungover from the dark to grey to light. the city yawns, just as we do. it stretches alive with the rumbling of cars, mini earthquakes set trembling along the roads of its spine. [x]
Depression & You (or: 'how to live ur lief when depression says 'nah, son'')
I feel the most problematic of obstacles that exists for me in the way of reaching ‘happiness’ is this sense of attachment that I feel towards the more dismal spaces of human experience and thought, and the—almost—guilt that I feel towards trying to ‘move away’ from them. I will hereafter use the term ‘depression’ to identify, broadly, this ongoing struggle to find and maintain emotional and spiritual fulfilment, a struggle that I feel has been a consistent presence in my own life from the time that I first remember being cognizant of myself and my existence in the world. I also proceed aware that the individual experiences that others might have of what they themselves identify as ‘depression’—or whatever else—might differ to mine, and that is okay; I do not intend to speak for anyone but myself (but cool if I do).
I feel that depression can become a ‘comfort zone’ that offers at once a place to which one can escape and a place from which one cannot escape. The individual effectively only ‘half-lives’, their experience of reality filtered and shackled by their own mind, their own memories, thoughts, beliefs, many of which exist in the un- or pre- conscious (I feel our dreams alone sufficiently speak to our own inability to ‘control’ the going-ons of our own minds). Indeed, we may be the masters of our own reality: I could stop writing this post if I wanted, turn off my computer, go to sleep, wake up tomorrow and catch a bus into the city to sit an exam, then 47 minutes into the paper abruptly stand up and begin kicking over adjacent tables while yelling at my peers to enjoy their days and to also not forget to eat their vegetables—but what ‘constructed’ the intent behind that action, the motive, the intangible pushes and pulls of my own mind, if not my own experience of and ‘reaction’ to my reality? Why did I instead choose to remain seated here and skip on my hours of sleep to write and share these thoughts? Is my supposed ‘free will’ not just evidence of my own slavery to what I perceive as my own reality—my own experience of ‘life’?
I feel these questions appear trite and ultimately meaningless. So what if it’s one way or the other—what difference does it make, really? I do feel that there is value in metacognition, self-awareness, the ability to think about your thoughts and feel about your feelings. It is, however, this very ability that so often leaves me feeling crippled, enslaved by my own constructs of ‘self’ and/or ‘identity’. Returning to my main point: identifying as someone who suffers from ‘depression’ is bound to have an effect on the individual and their perception and—consequently—experience of their own reality, and I would argue that this effect can be significant, one that should be talked and thought about.
It was in high school when I first used the term ‘depression’ to describe the way that I felt, when I was maybe 13 or 14, and I spent the next 3 years wearing that term as something between a badge of honour and a mark of shame. Even now I feel similarly, towards both it and the scars that it left behind. I feel as if I ‘know’ ‘my depression’ quite intimately: it is a part of what I perceive as my identity. Indeed for some time, depression was all that I knew. More recently, having ‘grown up’ some, re-encountering this presence—one that I had assumed I was rid of—allowed me to think more deeply and more maturely about what exactly it means to ‘suffer’ from something like depression. I thought about my time in high school. I thought about the friends I made during that time and what those connections were built on and around, the type of dialogue that would take place among those circles. I thought about the things I would feel, think, and say around then, and the things that I feel, think, and say now, about that period of my life, and how those things differ to the things that I would feel, think, and say about where I am at now.
I feel these are all relevant things to think about and share our thoughts on because I feel an environment like Tumblr—or more broadly, the Internet—can very much reinforce—or at the least facilitate the reinforcement of—some of the more destructive and/or negative ‘narratives’ or ‘themes’ present in the discourse of those suffering from or talking about depression (of course, I feel it can have the opposite effect as well—why else would I bother with sharing these thoughts here on Tumblr?). A cursory look down the #depression or #suicide or #self-harm tags sufficiently supports the argument that there are masses of people who strongly identify with these ‘communities’ and the ‘cultures’ that underpin and underlie them, and often in ways that are counter-intuitive to their own ‘progress’ towards a life free from emotional suffering. I think about my own experience of this sense of ‘attachment’ and I can definitely admit to feeling something of a ‘loyalty’ to my depression, as if ‘turning my back’ on this particular aspect of the human experience—and indeed, of myself—would be ‘unfaithful’ to not only myself and my past, but to all of my comrades who have either suffered or continue to suffer from some form of emotional pain. I imagine myself in, say, 5 or 10 years, completely ‘happy’, living a fulfilled and joyful life, and it seems wrong to me. It seems dishonest, even disrespectful, and I wonder how much of this self-judgement is justifiable, and how much of it instead stems from my own fear of ‘moving forward’ and framing my depression simply as something of my adolescence.
I feel these questions will continue to evolve as I do. I feel my answers to them will arrive when they arrive, and most probably in the form of further questions. And I feel like this is okay. I feel this is what it means to be a living and thinking human being. I feel, right now, that my depression is not a mark of shame or a badge of honour, or something that is fated to oscillate madly between these two extremes. I feel it is instead just a part of me—my identity, my past, my biology—and something that I might not ever be fully ‘cured’ of but instead something that I will grow up into, and something that I will continue to learn more about and from as I grow up with it. I feel this is the most important thing to take away for anyone that does feel, in any way, ‘depressed’, or whatever else: do not run away from anything, but instead be learning, always, from everything, even and especially the things that hurt. I feel it is also important that one is wary of finding ‘comfort’ in one’s own suffering, and to instead be continually questioning, challenging, probing one’s own mind and its scars, in order to better understand how one reached the place in which they are, and, consequently, how to best proceed.
TL;DR: Live with and learn from your demons—don’t disrespect them by reblogging .gifs that glamorize individuals resigning to them.
You are Beautiful
1. You are beautiful if you understand the connection of things, from the blade of grass beneath your feet to the resplendent sun that colors your cheeks.
2. You are beautiful whether you have supple, porcelain skin or a constellation of wrinkles and sun spots.
3. You are beautiful regardless of the hue of your skin, the shape of your nose, or the size of your breasts.
4. You are beautiful when you call a distraught friend every day just to check up on him/her.
5. You are beautiful if you offer a smile to the President of your company, who has a penthouse office, and the Cleaning Person, who has no office.
6. You are beautiful if you accept yourself and others’ flaws and idiosyncrasies.
7. You are beautiful if you say thank you, please, you’re welcome, and excuse me.
8. You are beautiful if you love someone enough to let them go.
9. You are beautiful if you celebrate others’ accomplishments despite your own seeming failures.
10. You are beautiful if you can admit when you are wrong.
11. You are beautiful if you are not afraid to voice your opinion regardless of the consequences.
12. You are beautiful if you have the courage to arrange some words together and share them with others.
13. You are beautiful if you allow yourself to cry, laugh, and get angry with full abandon.
14. You are beautiful if you are scared, but do it anyway.
15. You are beautiful if you respect your body for the fabulous temple that it is.
16. You are beautiful when you have the strength to say, “Enough.”
17. You are beautiful if you silently listen to someone for as long as they need you to.
18. You are beautiful when you can forgive.
19. You are beautiful if you do not laugh at someone else’s expense or maliciously gossip.
20. You are beautiful for a million other reasons, but most importantly, just because.
Today is your last chance to get a ton of Press 53 short story collections for only 99 cents (!!!) including Bastard Blue, the debut collection from Murray Dunlap. Read a story from Dunlap below, and have a happy weekend!!
In the Attic
The thing you should understand first is that the man from Tucson doesn’t love me and I don’t love him. So when he showed up on my Alabama doorstep with a suitcase and a bottle of wine, Husband thought everything was just fine. They shook hands and grabbed each other by the shoulder. You see, the man from Tucson—who became the man in our attic on a folding cot—was friends with Husband before everything happened. They met four times a week at the local gym and worked out. They spotted each other. That was before the night that I kissed him and before the night he invited me into his bed. They were friends and we were friends and I was married, but it all sorted out just fine. Now, however, while Husband cooks lasagna, the man in our attic seems to think we’ll have another go, right here in our home.
The first night goes something like this: Husband makes lasagna with three kinds of cheese and the man in our attic, let’s call him Tucson, has his hand on my knee under the table and it’s headed north. All very predictable, all very clichéd. Until Tucson says to Husband, “What do you say we leave this pretty lady for a spell and you and I go out for a man’s drink? A glass of single malt, neat, and a good cigar?”
And Husband says, “You’re on.”
So I’m home alone and not a clue what Tucson is up to. You should remember that I don’t love him and he doesn’t love me so it doesn’t matter, but when the phone rings I jump a mile.
“Hello,” I say.
“On the cot in the attic, there’s a picture of you coming out of the shower with the biggest grin.”
“You kept it.”
“I like to see you that way.”
“Grinning or naked?”
I say nothing.
“I also have a pistol. A simple six shooter. Anyone could learn how to use it.”
“We don’t keep guns in the house.”
“That’s smart,” he says.
Then Tucson hangs up. I was never sure if Husband wanted to go out or if he was just being polite or if he already knew everything and had other plans altogether. Between the two of them, Husband could always lift heavier weight.
Both men show up safely at midnight. Drunk, but otherwise unharmed. Husband won’t tell me what they talked about but keeps making pistols with his hands and saying draw! followed by the imitated sounds of gunfire.
That was the first night.
On the second night, after sleeping late, and after a painfully silent lunch, Tucson suggests we smoke a little grass, and Husband—of all people—agrees. Now I don’t know much about pot or getting high, but I went to college and learned a few things, so I know right off that what we’re smoking isn’t plain old marijuana.
Within an hour I fall into a blinding fog and can’t be sure whose hands are under my shirt. It seems like Husband, and I sort of recognize his voice. Then I feel a third hand, and a fourth hand, so I fight for the wherewithal to push people away. But those hands keep grabbing and my skirt won’t stay down, so I kick somebody hard in the balls. That’s enough to get some distance and I climb the stairs into the attic. I pull the string for the light and there it is, perfectly exposed on the cot next to my dripping wet breasts and stupid grin. I pick it up. I didn’t expect it to be so heavy, so dangerous. I guess I don’t know what I expected, but it frightens me and I put it down. The breath on the back of my neck stops me from turning around.
“Do you love me?” the voice asks.
“Who are you?”
“Does it matter?”
And in that moment I guess it doesn’t, because we climb into the cot and make the rafters shake. In the morning, I wake up alone in the attic. Husband can’t remember anything, but noisily complains that his balls ache. As for Tucson, he and his pistol vanish. No note, no naked picture. Nothing.
So when you come to visit us, we’ll put you up in the little study off the kitchen and it’ll be just fine. I upgraded to a trundle bed and threw the cot away.
We no longer use the attic.
by Debbie Lechtman
The bed is soft, like a cloud.
She floats, floats, floats. She sinks. She feels nothing, but she also feels everything. Her fingertips tingle, and her cheeks do too. Mmm. The relief comes fast, washing over her like a steaming, hot shower after being outside in the freezing rain.
“It’s morphine,” a far-away voice says. “I think she feels better.”
She does feel better. She feels the best that she’s felt — well, maybe not the best that she’s felt, ever, but the best that she’s felt since she was diagnosed so many years ago.
So, now she knows. She wondered about this for a long time. But, it’s good to know. Dying doesn’t hurt, not when you die like this.
What is that nice melody? Then she remembers. The heart monitor.
She tries to smile in her sleep.
It’s growing louder, and slower. It makes her nervous, this beep. It makes her nervous because her seconds are numbered, and there’s so many things she didn’t do. So many sorrys she didn’t say. So many I love yous she didn’t give. So many times she cared too much, or she tried to impress the wrong person. A whole lifetime, a big pile of nothing.
“At least she had a long, good life.”
Not long enough. Not good enough.
Beeeeeeeep. Beeeeeeeep. Beeeeeeep.
Does Jimmy know how sorry she is? Jimmy, yes, that Jimmy. Her high school boyfriend. Gosh, when’s the last time she thought of that Jimmy?
She shouldn’t have done what she did to him. She shouldn’t have hurt him like that.
And what about Angela, from college? So many cancelled dates, so many excuses. What she wouldn’t give now to go shopping with her! What she wouldn’t give to hear her voice, screechy as nails on a chalkboard. To see her horsey face.
Beeeeeeeep. Beeeeeep. Beeeeeeeep.
God, no. Give me more time, she thinks. Just a few days. I have to make things right. I have to make things right. I never did write that New York Times bestseller I so liked to talk about…
Will anyone care that she’s gone? Will anyone visit her grave?
No, she’s being silly now. Nostalgic, afraid of death. Of course someone will care. Of course someone will visit her grave. Leave flowers, even. Maybe sunflowers, her favorite.
One Day You Will be Beach Glass
Have you ever been heartbroken at the sight of someone? Just watching their chin turn from left to right as they cross the street or the way they twist a pen between their first finger and their second, breaks me into these tiny pieces that I can never get out of the carpet. I skate from one room to the other and the invisible shards of someone’s memory dig into my soles; thin trails of blood lead from the kitchen to the couch, from the bathroom to my bed, just so I know where my heart has been that night—just so I know what color I am on the inside.
I would have slept with a guy the other night just because he looked like you, glasses and thin black hair, leather jacket lapels with buttons of bands I didn’t know the name of and a mouth crooked with opinions that made me angry at him because they were so honest. He touched the inside of my elbow and I knew he couldn’t see all the horrible things I have done to my heart—all of the horrible things I would do to his—and that was when I went home, when I knew he couldn’t be you.
I know you’re never going to love me, never going to hold me in the middle of the night, never going to feel anything for me between the place where your heart thumps into your ribs, because you know all the places I am dark and heavy—know all the reasons I am a bad investment.
One day I will meet someone who doesn’t look at me and see a crumbling foundation and a weak roof. One day I will meet someone who sees a home in me, someone who knows that under the chipped paint are strong bones and a warm heart.
I still drag my soles over the tiny pieces you made out of me once. I still gush red when I brush up against you.
But I spent my life a few feet from the beach and I know one day even shards of glass lose their edge—one day even dangerous things become just another something beautiful people collect and carefully place in a jar on a bookshelf and never think about again.
A Conversation With The Infinite
Who am I? Or is it “whom?” No matter, really. Not the question, of course; for the question is all important, but its grammatical correctness is of little significance. I have no time for rhetoric, yet I bathe in it nightly - curious. I am the one behind the sunset-stained curtains of life. Young and full of vigor… no, a little older than that. Maybe a bit weathered. Wrinkled and furrowed by the surf-beaten years of endless rocky shores. Endless; as in, my beaches know no bounds. Nor do they care. They, like camels, are ambivalent. Dragging their toes across the desert sands of the infinite. Water comes and goes.
I am the all-seeing, all-being, and I know all too well; that little is accomplished while I’m locked in this cell. Isn’t it agreeable when rhyme caresses the ends of written lines, as if the words are involved in a passionate tango, too easy to ignore? Too difficult to follow. Two to tango. (Do you hear the conga rhythm? I do.)
Consider, for a moment, that we are all deeply involved in the grand routine. Like it or not; for you really have no choice in this proceeding. It is, simply because it is. Move or stand motionless; Act or refuse action; Dance or flower the wall… you are still a main character in the master plan. It means little to the grand routine how you play your part, but lucky for us all, you can’t sit this one out. We need you, for you are integral to the plot. And this is the story as it goes.
Somewhere the grass is greener… true. Somewhere the streets are cleaner… yes. But the gravity of the situation not only justifies its existence, it completely and utterly gives existence its unmistakable spark. And honestly, if you can’t be honest with yourself, then who shall we expect to share our milk and cookies with? Mmmm, freshly baked treats of truth. One is never enough.
Time will taunt, as age will haunt… a sublime little jaunt; the weak mind left daunted. Rest assured that nothing rhymes with orange, but who really cares anymore? Poetry is dead. God is dead. Disco is dead. Yet, these words are alive. They blow bubbles in the goldfish bowl of my mind. I forgot to feed the fish.
Where is the enigmatic key to the mysteries of this life? Maybe it’s that bronze colored one in the bottom of your junk drawer. It looks like a sturdy key. Forged from the plethora of unascertained riddles and cut by the useless knowledge you’ve collected thus far and found worthy of holding on to. Questions are the currency with which we purchase the unknown. Answers are a dime a dozen.
I am you and these are your thoughts, not my words. I am no more the voice of reason as I am the rabbit-shaped cumulonimbus floating through the hazy skies of your subconscious reality. Think, ponder… yes, yes… now you are beginning to see me through eyes of enlightenment. I am whom, you may ask? I am the alpha and the omega. I am the wind beneath your wings. I am the walrus. I am all the thoughts you deem irrational, unnecessary and insane. I am, I was, I always shall be. And who am I to doubt the theory of relativity? Equations make for pretty flowers.