I live in thirteen inches of plastic, metal, and glass. Flecks of hair and fingerprints, specs of skin and nail, dust from long days, and chipped edges from sleepless nights are the outcome of my living habits. Every click and every tap a new memory but one for which I need a save button. Ink I wish were real prints perfectly painted letters in fonts my crooked hands could never draw. I have whispered and ogled and spit at a screen that has started to smell like me. I have favorite sounds and one of them is the melody of rhythmic tapping when a sharp idea arises. I have shed myself onto smooth lines and curved angles in hopes that I bend them because I have always had a strange relationship with symmetry. I have punched this white plastic enough times for it to learn my name and I am grateful. This sanctuary of solitude is smarter than me and quicker than I care to understand but it welcomes me no matter the time of day. He does not mind that I spit and shed and ogle just as long as I don’t spill my coffee.
A plastic tiara rested on her head, unable to disguise her want of a shower. Glitter melted down her concave cheeks from three day-old eye shadow, and a faux white fur coat hinted at 1940’s movie star long dead. She didn’t notice the filth that gathered at the base of her neck. Self examination wasn’t a priority.
Resting against the remnants of the dilapidated Blockbuster, she gripped a paper cup of coffee like it was the only thing holding her up.
He sat across from her on the curb, still hungry.
He didn’t mind paying for it. He nodded as she told him she worked in delis or bakeries. Her grainy voice faltered over her words. The morning sun was a little too hot for his leather jacket; but, he refused to take it off because without it, he looked less like the bad ass rebel he had meant to be in his twenties. He took a drag on his spliff, he was trying to save his weed for later. He passed it over to her, hoping that maybe it would help subdue her obvious agitation.
She had been very beautiful, maybe ten years ago? Probably, fleshy, instead of sinew and hide. She was passable if she covered most of her body, but the hollows under her eyes always told the truth. She didn’t care. If she could be bothered by anything anymore, it was her nervous system jolting in stop motion. Her reflection haunted her as she passed store fronts. She didn’t own a mirror anymore.
He’d kept thinking her eyes looked familiar. He contemplated this, as he felt his thoughts lose their edge. Then he had it! Yesterday, walking down the highway. A crow was on its back, plumage sticking out at odd angles, blinking milky. Sometimes he saw those eyes when he looked in the mirror himself. Forty five and utterly alone, save the broken princess standing before him.
Maybe together they could save each other. Maybe this could be more than cheap sex. Even as he thought it, he knew it was just hot air trapped in his leather jacket.
She was quiet, grip tightening on her cup, milky eyes starting to beg. He took out another rumpled twenty from his wallet, pressed it into her hand, and watched her jerk towards the bus. He unzipped his jacket and followed.
Show don't tell (#describethingsdammit)
Showing, instead of telling, is an important part of keeping a story fresh and interesting. It helps make the story you’re telling jump off the page and the setting and characters more believable. So what is “show, don’t tell” and why is it important?
· Description is an important element when setting up a character, place, or situation. Rather than stating that a place is “serene” (Telling), show the reader. By showing you are describing the setting with language that will create a picture in the reader’s head. “Serene” doesn’t help the reader visualize the setting you are trying to create. A sentence like, “The snow floated in over the wall, light and carefree as it brushed by Sara’s red cheeks.” gives a much stronger visual image. (Sorry for the bad sentence! I hope you get my meaning.)
· The “show don’t tell” rule can be applied to more than description. It can also be used to help develop a character. For instance, if a character is angry or sad, don’t describe (tell) their emotional state as “angry” or “sad”. Show the reader what your character does when he or she is angry or sad. Do they slam their fist on something? Silently seethe? Do they sob loudly so everyone can hear them? Or do the tears fall, as if they don’t even notice? Showing these sorts of emotions not only makes reading more interesting for your audience, but also gives you the opportunity to fully develop your character.
· “Show don’t Tell” can also be used to establish conflict. Conflict is a very delicate thing to put in your writing. It should be done carefully and using the “show don’t tell” rule can help keep your conflict from being overdone. If two characters aren’t getting along, you’ll want to show us their interactions. Think about how the characters normally act with people they like and then think about how they would act around someone they don’t like. (Don’t forget to factor in why these two characters don’t like each other! This also affects how they act around one another.) Conflict doesn’t just mean two characters being angry with one another; it can also be a character upset with a situation. Using “show don’t tell” will help keep the conflict subtle and complex.
Showing instead of telling is a crucial part of building a tangible world for your reader. Use it to strengthen your writing and help your characters’ voices shout from the pages.
I feel a wanting in the strangest parts of myself. If I am left alone it rises like a tide. I stroke my wrist against my cheek. The arch of my foot I rub along the back of my leg. The webs of my fingers I pull up and through the hair at the back of my neck. The threshold of my body, my edges, has become magnetized to touch. When I was little I never felt this, and it scares me now. My body wants to feel itself. It tells me things. It asks. It begs. Rebecca, take our clothes off, lay down in the forest, naked on the wet, dead leaves. Let us feel what the humid air does to our skin.
I watch him and the boys at the shaded end of the field. They burn piles of sun burnt grass with matches. It is hot in the gloomy sunlight. I sit in a circle with my friends, quiet in the heat, and a film of sweat has gathered along my spine. It is sticky in the folds of my knees. He does not look my way; playing with fire. I wish we were swimming. I wish he would find me before the bell rings and sneak us out of school and take me to the river. We would swim in our underwear. We would be pulled together in the rapids. We would lay together on the hot riverbed stones and our skin would dry and I would touch the delicate furrow of his philtrum above his paper thin lips. I would tell him how the angels pressed that groove before he was born and he forgot what it was to be a soul.
In the mornings my body is clammy with dream melt and wanting. Echoes of the desires I ran with through the night whisper from behind my bedroom curtains. Touch us, Rebecca. Use your fingers. Feel the cotton. Moan quietly into the pillows so your mother and father can’t hear you.
Long grass feels like an invisible cloak. I lay down in it and I am gone from the world of things and people. There is only myself and the vertigo sky. There is only the grass and gravity. There is only my wanting; wanting to be touched. Touched by myself. Touched by him. I have become dizzy and unravelled by my own skin. It calls out to the elements and the boys with scraped knees and sunburn. Touched by him. Rebecca, stroke your stomach. Feel us inside there, wrought and frantic. Our skin is like peach fur, it wants to be eaten. It wants to be swallowed deep into the salt of this world.
there are stories of
war field glories,
men have traveled from earth
to the moon,
our ancestors from coast to coast
on horses that died, rivers of pestilence
my story is a bit different, i’m a joke -
pathetic at the core, my wars fought
in my head, never with my heart; i once
called myself a vagabond but that was
a lie, my home was a bar stool just like
and though i walked through the valley of death,
losing my breath, death did not want me
one last shot at glory.
bon voy age
“Have a good trip, my dear,” her eyes red and weary; it was like she always became emotionally cracked out during these times of restraint away from me.
MY dear is an adorable bear with a very tiny brain who tirelessly packed my suitcase, tightly and neatly as if she had the spatial acuity of a bird of prey. She pressed her lips against mine and we danced. The three hours after were a sequence of dizzying motion, blurred, in the background of a muffled, dissociative state.
Trolleys in motion and at rest, distant houses peering back at me, smiling children playing kickball in the street, possessing a room arranged for me. Exuding “myness” within this new place of residence; a dirty shirt here, an empty bottle strewn there. The former tenant spoke to me through the walls.
“Don’t judge me,” it said, sounding deadened as if spoken through a warm blanket.
I was probably asleep.
Wish you were here.
A loud crash startled me awake.
How long had I been out for? My eyes snapped open, I sat up and walked my eyes along the vent on my ceiling, trying to make out what that sound was. My window was closed, as it should be. It reminded me of two strips of velcro being pulled apart. Darkness enveloped my peripheries. I tried to relax again. My head hit the pillow. Warmth traveled through me. I vaguely remembered one of my professors telling me that truth is a relative interpretation of reality. If I buried my head in the sand long enough maybe the truth would go away. I closed my eyes and went on vacation with my dear.
It’s hard not to write regretfully after the sequence of the events that follow, but I must record it honestly. I try to be honest much of the time. My dear was the one to teach me that, in almost all cases, dishonesty is the only evil.
My eyes scanned the room. They passed over a scattered stack of books, a vinyl lamp, and pile of plastic cups before finally resting on the far wall of the room. A flicker of movement. The shadow that formed from the moonlight leaking through the window was vibrating. It moved rhythmically and delicately peeled itself from the wall, causing me further grief when I saw that this was the awful source of the crackling. The strange form was floating my way. Have I just discovered the white whale - the highly implausible riddle to the universe? No, but this thing extended a shapeless mass in my direction. It looked heavy. I felt like crawling away to a place where nothing could bother me.
“Your soul is dirty, I’m here to clean it,” a deep and raspy voice sounded from the depths of the shadowy abyss.
There was no pain. In a flash, it was upon me, threading its way through me. It felt like somehow I suddenly became less than.
“I got it, and I actually just saved your life.” It spoke as if it were hiding a smiling
face in the abysmal darkness, “you’re welcome,” it added after a pause.
There was a silence. The air felt lighter. The form whispered away into nothingness, and I vaguely thought I heard it bid me an odd farewell. It said:
“Welcome to nowhere.”
Rooftop deck now open
When we talk about it now, H remembers my peep toe pumps and the way I gestured to emphasize a point. I can’t recall that kind of detail. I don’t remember the events of that night with any clarity, which is strange for us. I am usually the one recounting what was said and who wore what and how the food tasted, but he is our memory for this.
I bet he was wearing a hat and Italian shoes. He still had his goatee and he was probably rubbing it and being boisterous. He could have been asking our waitress to surprise him and bring him her favorite beer instead of choosing it for himself. Maybe he was talking to someone about his next tattoo or who he liked the least that day at work.
I walked by there today. I stood across the street from the place where we met and looked up. Women wearing sunglasses were sitting on bar stools, swinging their legs and kicking off the heels of their shoes. Those who made it to lunch before the rush got the choice seats under the white cabanas and out of the sun. They all looked so young and unburdened from where I stood.
H wants us to go back soon. He says he’d like me to show up first and sit alone at the bar and order a drink. He will come in after and approach me as if it is the first time again. We’ll talk for awhile and then he will take me to dinner and eventually to bed.
I would prefer we walk in together, our fingers entwined. I’d lean in so he could whisper in my ear and when we saw someone we knew we wouldn’t have to hide our hands. We would not have to make it clear we are just friends out for a drink. We would not have to be conscious of how we looked to everyone else and how meaningfully we looked at each other.
I will take part in H’s fantasy. I will go back to a place and a time when I didn’t know him. I will play along even though it doesn’t seem fun to pretend we’re not together. We have to do that every day.
Nora walked home that morning as she had many others, but for the first time she wished for herself a better verb. How she longed to claw her way home, to stalk, to march, even to limp; to locomote in such a way as to draw off her early morning agony. To exorcise through exercise, Nora thought, and then, goddamn, because that’s something he would say.
The July heat was already rising from the street, and the parched canyon of Kedzie Avenue unfurled before Nora’s eyes. Trust that they are usually less red. Her skull contained blasted shards and horrible twisted metallic bits. Remnants, she suspected, of instruments once elegant or at least functional. A civilization reduced to ruin overnight. These things happen. Historically speaking.
Nora stopped outside a convenience store where she could be bathed in air conditioning exhaust and burned-coffee smell. She extracted the lighter and crushed pack from her jeans pocket. The last cigarette always seemed to portend a next thing, perhaps an execution by firing squad. Nora would not have refused the blindfold. She squinted at the pack through the blazing sunshine. Something else rattled within and she tipped it into her palm.
The pill was broad and pale green and shield-shaped. My aegis, he had called it. When had he said that? Nora had been examining the debris upon his dresser with interest keen beyond any artificial heightening. Candy-colored guitar picks, a winking rubber owl, a mateless earring (not Nora’s), a volume of plays much fanned by moisture. This was all information. All of it. And what else had he said? It’s not that I think you can’t understand, but explaining it wouldn’t help anything, wouldn’t change anything. Or at least wouldn’t change me. He had leaned back into the pillows with a familiar smile then as Nora laughed opaquely, and this was the moment when she had slipped the pill from the dresser into her pocket. The last thing she remembered thinking was that the golden hairs on his forearms and his eyebrows were exactly the same. There are stranger things to think in that moment, but this was the information presented.
More serene if no less cataclysmically hung over, she closed her hand around the pill and walked on. Like a tiny oracle it foretold events soon to transpire. His apartment lay further behind her with every step. The morning would assert itself, slice through the heavy curtains and inflame the dust motes drifting above his funereal antique furniture. He would rise and look for the pill and not find it. The search would be frantic and futile and the thing that he would not explain would have its chance to change him.
It made no difference to Nora. It was just information. Her cigarette smoke found the new cavity in her eyetooth and made a little agony of neon. And this was information, too.
As layers of truth were peeled off her mistaken faith, she discovered that there were so very many things she had been wrong about. Her steadfast confidence in the permanence of certain aspects of her life were now shaken so violently that her bones hurt, and the resulting rock of reality that crushed her chest became the only belief she could now hold onto: Do not trust again.
With the revelation of each deception to which she’d surrendered, she admonished herself for not having followed her instincts. Before, she had refused to expose her underbelly of self to anyone, always protecting her vulnerability with suspicion and skepticism. Assuming there was always an ulterior motive in others, she relied on her keen sense of distrust with conviction, and it protected her well for many years.
But in a weakened state of confidence, she’d let herself be swayed by fantastic dreams and fanciful desires, and when the Universe whispered its secrets in her ear, she let herself be led drunkenly to the depths of delusion and soon began to believe in belief, to put trust in trust and develop a faithfulness in faith. But as she floundered in the delirious bliss of ignorance, the true nature of nature encroached. Truth broke through, trust was taken hostage and faith was sacrificed to the hungry beast that leaves only flesh and bones in its wake. The lies finally exposed, she took on the task of rebuilding her armor while the walls echoed her pledge: Do not trust again.
Yes, I have ugly dreams
Maybe more so, half-dreams, for those who are better unremembered. Or maybe you know me. That is a ridiculous notion. You knowing me? What is knowable about a body with a brain anyway. You can look with your inconclusive eyes and make shoddy remarks about what you see but you are just a piece of grass, clipped and flying into the decay, unknowingly sinking into the cogs of my face.
I knew you once, your long slick metal words piercing my breasts. I knew the style which wasn’t my own flickering its proboscis over the fire of blue ocean-less life. And in the turn of my own day, I saw the death head moth leaping low to kiss my pretty lips. It was all part of the pineal gland spitting its cotton over the walls of my dead girl, there recumbent for a dead world of lazy dreamers…
Joseph O’Connor’s shoulders sloped downward as if he was trying to make himself appear less imposing, but it did little to diminish the sense of unease people felt around him. You could blame it on his shock of strawberry blonde hair, or his obviously habitually broken nose, but the truth was there was something malignant in his aura. He knew he was a hard man, but he made a conscious effort to be fair by his own standards. He might be getting paid to take your ear, but he could at least offer to take both.
“I wouldn’t want you to feel… lopsided,” he’d say, with a crooked grin.
Sometimes he’d even offer to knock them out first. But that had less to do with any vaguely moral concern and more to do with the splitting migraines he was prone to getting. He imagined they were caused by whatever animas lived within him trying to gain full control. He was paid to retrieve a body part, some bit of flesh to show he’d put the fear of God — or really the fear of Malone — into whoever hadn’t paid their debt, he didn’t have to listen to the screams if he didn’t want to. It was still his body.
Foster Malone was proud of his Irish heritage, told anyone who would listen that his family’s motto was ‘faithful to the tomb’ and he would reiterate that he expected nothing less from those in his service. You’d be handsomely rewarded for your fidelity, and gruesomely punished for any slight insult – his employment of O’Connor made sure of it. He kept the bowl of ears to his left while doing business, a Colt 1911 .45 semi-automatic to his right. If he noticed the stench of the rotting, he never showed it, never even flared his nostrils.
O’Connor and Malone had grown up together, though not much was known about their childhood. They rarely spoke of anything but the future, and any information spread about them before Malone’s rise to power was more gossip than fact.
He should have known what was coming as soon as Malone broke out the rotgut they used to drink, and not the top shelf liquor they’d both gotten used to. Nothing good ever came from looking at the past, O’Connor told himself as he sat bleeding out in the alley. He looked into the beady eyes of the fat city rat.
“Hey little buddy, you gonna go for my ears first?” he questioned with a wet laugh. “I’m not dead yet, I could kill ya before I am.” He lifted his knife, mimed throwing it, but the rat didn’t flinch and he didn’t release. He knew blood was filling his right lung, could hear the wheezing sound as it tried to expand and contract properly despite the gaping bullet wound. It was a sound he knew well, though he noted it was significantly different hearing it from his own body.
He closed his eyes, wondering if Malone was ready. He’d been ‘faithful to the tomb’ like he promised, but there was no telling what kind of retribution his animas had in mind for Malone costing it another host.
May 21, 2013
When we were ten you asked me to marry you. On the other side of the blacktop Jake stood with his hands in his jacket pockets, Teresa and Maddy laughing beside him. Someone told you a secret lie. Jake had a crush on you. Well, he didn’t have a crush on you. And when Teresa and Maddy urged you forward, you should’ve guessed something felt wrong, but maybe believing even the weakest of lies is easier than carrying the strongest truths. You walked up to him and said you heard someone gossip about you two. He laughed. No, no one has gossiped about us, just told lies. Maddy told me. Sorry, but I don’t like you.
Smooth, someone said, giggling. You’re so pretty when you’re close to tears, Emma.
Kids are vicious.
You found rings at home. The next day, in the snow, you had Abel officiate. I felt this giddiness, even though I knew I was a second choice. You placed a plastic, green ring on me, with a miserable thrust of unsatisfied joy. When we finished the ceremony Abel giggled when he said you may now kiss the bride, and so did my cheeks, but you brushed it off, asking me to promise to stay even if trouble finds you. I nodded, not sure. I was ten. You slipped on slushed pavement, reaching out for my shoulder. I didn’t kissed anyone until sophomore year when I was angry, but that’s when I first learned of a desires for such a thing.
I punched Jake in the mouth eight minutes later and was suspended. He deserved it. His apology was a waste of air, a waste of your life. You didn’t talk to me for four days. The first thing you said afterwards was, “Just because we’re married doesn’t mean I cannot take care of myself now.” I have never believed you yet.
My best friend’s half birthday is tomorrow. I’m going to keep her from killing herself.
Hot War Pt. 42 The End
I dreamed of a place I’d never been, but somehow I knew it. It was the coastal city of Ashkelon; Aviva’s home. We walked down the sandy beach, watching the tide of the dark blue Mediterranean roll in as the sun set. Fatima jumped in the waves as they slipped back into the ocean, then ran away as they came crashing in again, laughing and looking back at us every time.
I found Aviva’s hand in mine, warm and soft and like nothing I’d ever felt in all my life. God, I’m in love, I thought. This is it. This is what I was looking for, why I kept running away from home. And I realized that I wasn’t running away. I hadn’t yet found home. God, this is it, I thought. This is my family. This is my wife and my child. This is home. Yes, this is home.
I didn’t know exactly why I loved Aviva. Maybe because she saw the worst parts of me, all the worst, the blood-soaked, sweat-drenched, violent side of me, and she still took me. If she could love that part of me, she would love the best parts of me so much more. She knew why I fought, what I fought for, and it was her cause too. We loved each other for that, and on that, our love would only grow. I loved her for her strength, for her spirit, for the way she loved Fatima even though she had no reason or obligation to, simply because she was mine. I loved her and I admired her. I wanted to be as strong as she was. And I would fight for her.
Even as I realized it though, I felt it slipping away. Aviva let go of my hand and I reached for it, but there was nothing to hold on to. I could feel hands under my arms, my feet dragging over rocks and weeds again and slowly, I was moving uphill, no longer over the beach sand. I listened hard for Fatima’s laugh, for her to call my name. I could hear men speaking and explosions and gunfire and the constant ringing. And God, there was the pain.
I must have cried out because they stopped and the ground was under me again. My eyes shut tight against the stabbing feeling in my chest, I tried to suck in a deep breath of air, but breathing hurt the most. I don’t know if it was the years of training, the years of pain or simply adrenaline, but I diagnosed myself with clinical detachment. I was suffering from a hypertension pneumothorax.
In other words, the bullet had put a hole in my chest cavity and allowed it to fill with air. My lung was unable to expand properly against the pressure of the air and if the pressure wasn’t let out, my lung would collapse and I would likely die. Skin and flesh are elastic and naturally want to close themselves, so the entrance wound was closed up. I needed a needle decompression; a fourteen-gauge needle with a plastic tube around it, thrust into my chest between my ribs, the needle removed and an airway created through the plastic tube to relieve the pressure. The bullet had taken out a piece of rib on its way out though and the fragments of it were scattered in my flesh and the pain was more than I could bear. I blacked out again.
The next time I woke, someone was squeezing my hand and the feeling of air beating hard against my face took my breath away. Breath, I thought, that’s a good sign. Then there was the noise, deafening and constant like the pain in my middle back where the bullet had torn away rib and flesh, but the pain was lessening.
There was blurred blackness above me. I wondered what it meant that the night sky was blurry. Helicopter blades, I realized. Helicopters, that’s good. Mizrachi got the word out. Yes, but why am I on the roof? I asked myself.
And I realized there was something wrong. I could feel the pain in my back, the air on my face, the soreness in my hands, and yet I couldn’t feel the burning of my thighs or calves, the ache of my feet. Paralyzed, I thought. I looked around, saw men kneeling at the walls, firing over them down into the city. I saw men rushing about, carrying wounded. Then I saw her.
Aviva had her hands on Fatima’s shoulders and they came out of the stairs, onto the roof, illuminated only by the sparks of gunfire and the weak light in the doorway they had just come through. I watched them walk through the darkness, herded to the helicopter by a hulking figure.
Aviva kept turning to the figure, shouting something I couldn’t hear. I couldn’t see Fatima’s face. They got on, one of the crewmen taking Aviva by the shoulders and pulling her to the back of the craft.
Secretly I was glad there wouldn’t be another goodbye. No more tears, no more pleas for me to come with them, no more telling me to come back and I wouldn’t have to lie to her one more time, promising I would. I didn’t think I could stand to look her in the eye now. I couldn’t bear to hear Fatima say my name.
The figure that had seen them onto the helicopter came toward me, a rifle in hand. Fattal crouched down over me in the darkness.
“They cannot take you; there is no more room,” he said.
“You gave them…” I started to say.
“Your place, yes,” he said. I nodded my approval. “I knew you would have it no other way.” I felt the wetness spreading over the loose bandage on my back, felt blood soaking my shirt and the stretcher underneath me.
“Is this it?” I asked, and Fattal nodded.
“They have taken the lobby. They are in the hospital. The Israeli gunships are doing much damage outside, but LAN soldiers are coming for us now; they want us dead, at all costs.” I smiled. The bastards had paid through the nose to take this town, paid with more lives than they figured it would take to sack all of Jerusalem, and they weren’t even on their way yet.
“Help me get so I can face the stairs, and get me a rifle. He grabbed me under my arms and I yelled from the pain and he stopped. “Keep going,” I said through gritted teeth. I wasn’t going to go out lying on a stretcher. I was going to go with gun in hand. So he did and I screamed like I’d never screamed before.
I woke up again as the noise intensified and a rifle sat on my lap. I was leaned up against the metal side of a ventilation duct, facing directly at the only stairway onto the roof. There were RPG’s and grenades and magazines all around me, and my men too. They were setting up wood pallets and sandbags and they tore the door off its hinges and propped it up, forming a barricade around us.
Adam, Nour, Jabari, Salim and Fattal all gathered around our fort, facing the staircase. The Israelis were holding them off as long as they could. I looked up at Salim with the butt of an AK-47 tucked under his good arm, ready to shoot from the hip. I watched Adam rest his rifle over the edge of the door, still crying, his face grim as ever and determined and afraid. Nour prepared an RPG to fire into the stairwell at the first sign of movement. Jabari was set a ways away from the rest of us to flank any of the LAN that managed to get through the door. Fattal stood behind the ventilation duct I sat against, rifle held at ease, waiting. Here would be the last stand of the Mujahedeen of Palestine.
The helicopter began to take off as the gunships circled back to escort, having done their damage. The first LAN soldier came up the stairs and I fired the first shot. The soldier fell dead, shot through the neck. More came. We opened fire.
I looked back only once, then the helicopter was gone, fading into the blackness, headed west back to Jerusalem, the love of my life and my only child on board, and I knew everything would be alright.
Allow me to share a thought or two...
This is the only time you’ll see me type these words. Why? Because they are almost invariably followed by ill-reasoned bullshit, of which I am not a fan. Women are homo-sapiens. Women are female. Women have an XX chromosome pairing. Aside from those valid instances, almost anything you can come up with is susceptible to being easily disproved, and displays nothing more than your own bigoted ignorance.
Women are human beings, comprised of an almost infinite variety of traits and tendencies. They are individuals. They should each be viewed, and their characters weighed, in accordance with their own actions; their own mores; their own worth.
And, here’s the thing I really wanted to say— The same holds equally true for men. Let me just say that once more—
The same holds true for men.
Thanks for your time.
Tales of a Teenage Vampire
I almost bit my lip, then remembered why it was a bad idea. “I have a confession to make.”
“Hmm?” She flipped the paper, not looking up from her coffee.
I took a deep breath from habit. “I’m a vampire.”
“That’s nice, dear.”
She looked up. “Your sister worked two shifts in a row last night, and you are not to wake her up, Charles. Am I clear on that?”
“I just told you I was a vampire!”
“It’s just a phase, dear. I’m sure you’ll grow out of it just like you did pretending to be Superman.”
“Mom, I’m a vampire. Sunlight burns me, I drink blood, It’s not —”
“I said —”
“What did you say you did?” she demanded, putting the paper down.
“Do you have ANY idea what kinds of things could be in people’s blood? What kind of diseases you could get?” She stood, towering over the table, arms folded. “You are NEVER doing this again young man!”
“Hello? Vampire? Immortal? Duh?”
“Do you want me to open the curtains, Mr. ‘O, Sunlight will burn me, O! I am slain!’? No? Well, then we’re putting a stop to this silly nonsense right now. You are not a vampire and you are not immortal and you are not to go around drinking strangers blood - or even families! Have I made myself clear?”
I held her gaze and pitched my voice at That Tone, the one people couldn’t help but obey, the one that had got me laid for the past three weeks every night. “I am a vampire, mother. And that is not going to change.”
She blinked, once, and lowered her voice. “You will not take that tone of voice with me again, is that understood?”
“Yes,” I squeaked out, blushing, even though she couldn’t tell.
“Good,” she continued. “Now, I am going to find a decent psychiatrist to cure you of this silly condition and that WILL be that,” in a tone that made ‘Clean your room up now!’ seem a gentle request.
But I had died when Karen ripped my throat open, and did not move, drawing my nature up about me. “I am Nosferatu, mother, and I will not be controlled.”
“You can be french if you really want, but that doesn’t matter to me,” she said, walking towards the phone book. “I have had just about enough of you being goth and neglecting chores and if you really are stupid enough to go around drinking blood, I have had enough of this and you are grounded and going to get some help.”
“I’ma vampire, mom! I can fly!”
“Then you can go clean your room right now!”
I stared at her, then turned and stalked up the stairs, pausing outside a door. “Yo, sis? It’s a full moon again tonight and you’re going to need a better excuse this time. Also, don’t try and tell mom you’re a werewolf anytime soon. Lifestyle choice my butt.”
She didn’t reply.
Lucy looked all over for his letter. She remembered putting it somewhere in her cabinet, but it wasn’t there.
She searched underneath the cabinet, behind, and in every single drawer. Nothing. It was gone.
“Honey? Where are you?”
“I’m in our room!”
Trey walked into the bedroom with two glasses of wine in his hands. He smiled when he saw her, handed her a glass, and sat down on their bed beside her.
“Happy anniversary, sweetheart,” He kissed her on her cheek.
She smiled, “Can you believe it has been six years?”
He took a sip of wine, “Crazy how time flies when you’re in love.”
“Yeah,” She took a sip, “Crazy.”
He took her hand in his, she squeezed a little. She couldn’t think of anything else but the letter. She had to find it. She always reads it the night of her anniversary. She reads it to herself in the bathroom and cries, she can’t make it through the night without the routine.
“This is good wine,” She takes a big gulp, “Wah! Slow down there,” He smirks.
She wipes her lips with the back of her hand, lipstick stains her olive skin, “Oh, I need to clean this up,” She marches to the bathroom and turns the water on, she thought to look in the bathroom drawers for the letter as well,
“Looking for this?”
Trey stood in the doorway of the bathroom with the letter. She gasped, “Where did you find that?”
“I was going to hide my present for you in your cabinet drawer, when I stumbled upon this,” He waved it around with a frown, “You thought you could hide this from me forever?”
“Don’t raise your voice, Henry is sleeping,” Her four year old son was sleeping down the hall.
“So you had an affair,” He stood directly in front of her, anger oozing from his lips, “Care you explain with whom?”
“I did not—”
“Shut up, Lucy, who did you fuck? Why does this letter date back four years?”
His face went blank, she burst into tears.
“Six years. I’ve been married to you for six years, and my son is not even my son,” He crumpled to the floor, she got on her knees.
“Please, stop, Henry is yours!”
“Why a poem, Lucy? Why write you a poem about loving you? No one signed the letter. Who is he?”
He started waving the letter close to her face, “WHO?!”
“It’s you, Trey!” She sobbed, “You wrote me this letter! You wrote me this letter the night I found out I was pregnant. You were in Belize, collecting specimen of algae in the middle of a storm, you were so focused on getting everything done that day—”
“Belize? But I’m a lawyer! Not a scientist—”
“—A tree fell and you were in a coma for two weeks. When you came out, you forgot who I was, it took you a month to remember our marriage, and slowly it came back, but you forgot you changed your career half-way into law school, so it was as if you forgot what inspired you to become a scientist.
I inspired you to become a scientist, because two years into our marriage you wanted to fix things, not destroy marriages, you were different, and I miss you. I miss who you were before the accident. So can you consider this cheating? Maybe. Maybe I am not faithful to the present you. I am in love with who you were, but now you are empty, and you are a shell.”
Trey had his hand over his mouth the whole time. He didn’t know what to say, he couldn’t remember the accident, “Why… Why didn’t you tell me this before?”
“Because I hoped you would find yourself again without me willing it. You’re there somewhere, or maybe you were, I don’t know.”
Lucy got up, “How could you even question if Henry was yours? He has your eyes.”
He got up slowly and walked to the living room, he put his shoes on, “Where are you going?”
“I don’t know.”
“I’m sorry, please don’t leave on our anniversary.”
He opened the door, “I’ve felt I’ve lost you for some time now, Lucy. I think I need to understand what I’ve lost in myself as well.”
Crickets and tree frogs welcome him into the dark.