Mackenzie had been waiting forever to grow up but was terrified of growing old. She looked 25 and acted 16 and thought age was just a number. Her fake ID was proof. Enough make-up and cleavage and most people wouldn’t know or didn’t care. Mackenzie wasted days fantasizing about a future that never came, and found herself stuck in a present too full of almost-could-have-beens. She could drink and smoke and pick up men like a champ though.
It was raining, truthfully it was storming. I drove to my favorite, local deli to get a sandwich and there you were in the corner booth, the only customer in the entire restaurant. I placed my order and walked to the corner, asking you if the seat was taken. You welcomed me in, stretching out a massive hand and simply stating, “Stan.”
“Laura”, I said as I took a seat. You were a big man, I suppose you still are, but the first time you seemed like a giant, a giant with sun-browned skin, tired eyes, and rough callous hands. A working man. A man’s man as you’d like to call it. I studied your hands for a moment, trying to build the courage for eye contact. You finally broke the silence and asked what would bring me out in this rain.
“I’m from Seattle. The rain doesn’t bother me.” You nodded your head in approval, showing the thick muscles on your neck. “What about you? What brings you out in the rain?”
“I’m from Texas, and I was hungry”, you said in your don’t-giva-damn voice. The type of voice you used when trying to sound tough.
The rest of the night was like the rain. Fast and neverending. After I got my food you told me about working in the oil-field and showed me the scar on your head from a rig-wrench. I told you about my teaching job and how I hoped one day to become a professor. You could talk like no one I’d ever met before. Your thick southern accent made your words sound slow and lazy, but your eyes made your words seem fast and exciting. Every childhood story came to life in those eyes, for a moment, as you were telling the story, those tired eyes would turn young and new again.
Is it dumb to say I thought I loved you? In only one night I thought I had fallen in love. It was dumb. I realize that now.
We talked four hours that night until the manager finally told us that his crew was ready to leave. You handed the man a fifty dollar tip, apologized for the inconvenience, looked at me and said, “A pretty woman like you doesn’t need to be driving in this weather.” I knew I could drive in it fine, but I also knew I wanted a few more minutes with you. You opened the passenger side door for me and I climbed into your truck. When you climbed in, you looked at me, touched my cheek with those sandpaper hands, and you kissed me. We started making out in your truck, with some of the employees still smoking in the parking lot. I felt like a teenager again. You didn’t even ask if I wanted to come over, you just drove to your hotel room. I don’t know if we were both just horny, or we had used all our words at the deli. We didn’t talk the rest of the night, we just made love, over and over again. Four times total.
We went on like that for months. Every time you came to town we would meet at that deli, talk until our tongues were tired, and then hold each other all night. I knew I was in love by the third time, no thinking about it.
We never made anything official, but I stopped seeing other guys. I hoped you had stopped seeing other women, but I never brought it up. Turns out you hadn’t.
I remember that last meeting. It was sunny outside, mid-august, and the heat made my tank top stick to my back. I always dressed down to see you; you told me you liked your girls in a T-shirt and jeans. I ordered my meal and sat down, this time it was you afraid of the eye contact. I asked you what was wrong, but you just continued staring out the window. We ate our food and you didn’t talk much, you didn’t laugh, you didn’t tell stories. When it was time to go I asked who’s car we should take and you just stayed seated, staring out the window.
“Laura, I can’t do this anymore.” I felt the tears stinging through my eyes. I was about to ask why, but before I could you pulled a wedding ring out of your pocket and placed it on your finger. “I’m so sorry.”
this is for those who are ashamed of themselves.
You’re ashamed of the scars on your arms and the food in your trash, of the far too organized state of your room and color coded wardrobe that hangs in your closet. The burning sense of guilt maps the blue veins beneath your skin and whether you resist opening them—you’re weak, you can’t take pain?—or whether you succumb—oh god, you’re disgusting, you’re weak—leaves you crumpled on the cold linoleum floor of the bathroom in a sobbing heap. Everyone around you does it so easily, does this whole living and being happy thing with such a grace that it seems natural, like they’re the ballerinas and you’re the girl that’s supposed to work lights during a show and you never manage to find the main dancer.
You’re ashamed of what you are and both resisting and giving in have you feeling all the more disgusted. Either way you’re weak; someone always loses, and the loser in your mind always prevails over the winner. Feather light touches run along the skin of your body and feel like the trash bags with rotting fruit inside. Your heart must be shriveled right now, and yet some still feel so much while others don’t. Either way, every beat releases more poison—that’s what happens when your brain turns on you—and badump, badump, you’re closer to dying.
You’re ashamed of yourself. But just because you’re ashamed doesn’t mean everyone else is. The scars you hate could be the targets for someone else’s lips, to kiss them because kisses are bestowed upon beautiful things. And the food in your trash will be taken out for you and your cookbooks will be laid upon your table, a note asking you to circle what you’d like—let’s go out and buy the things you like, okay?—and lists of calorie counts shredded, but the mental ones can only be written over until the numbers are illegible. One day, you’ll be able to bring someone home and not worry about remarks about how it’s too clean, how your wardrobe is too organized. Instead, they’ll take their shoes off and sit as neatly as they can, smooth out the wrinkles of their pants and shirt and not question it and talk about the weather instead.
You’re ashamed of your mind, your heart, your body, your soul, and I hope one day you find someone that makes you proud of who you are.
YES I'VE BEEN DRINKING
The way people write about writing is strange. If one man drinks and finds his way he’ll say the sober guy’s an idiot— and goddamn if sober people don’t love knocking drinkers down. The truth is that, if you’re actually writing to write and love it and need it, your work will be an inescapable extension of yourself. If you like to drink or smoke or sit at cafes or fuck or fight, you will write about it. If you like to be healthy or read or philosophize or meditate or pray, guess what?
For me, there aren’t so many things in the world that make me happy. Love makes me happy and working hard makes me happy, but I cannot always control those things. I cannot make love do whatever I want it to do; work does not always satisfy. At least with drinking, I know what I get. Neat, on ice, or mixed. Today I spent a couple hours making mint julep syrup. I boiled sugar and water, muddled it with fresh spearmint given to me by the chef at my day job. I filtered the mixture numerous times, poured it into a mason jar, added fresh mint at the end to steep. It was very… zen. I picked up a bottle of Old Grand Dad 114 and I believe I’ll be drinking well tomorrow night or so.
The point is, that’s something I can control. I can actually be the master of my own little piece of happiness. And you? What plot of land will you turn over soil for? Whatever it is, write about it, love and make it yours.
How easy is it?
How easy is it to lose yourself in the monotony of the world? Trying to please everyone, except for the people who matter. Begging to be known, praying to be accepted, liked, loved. Hoping that your efforts bear the fruit that you sow. Fighting for a place in the world, fighting to one up the next person, fighting to make a name for yourself,fighting to establish your name in a world where names are glorified.
How easy is it to walk away from what you know is right, or to let go of the things that are worth holding on to? How easy is it to turn your back on those who you know care about you? How easy is it to block out words of wisdom? How easy is it to is it to live a lie? How easy is it to rebel?
Easy? Of course; We proclaim that we are individuals, that we are delightfully unique, and we strive to set ourself apart from the other 3 billion people on the planet. But in reality how different are we from the next person if we all live the same lifestyle. If we all are willing to crush someone in our climb to the top. If we all are fine with selling out for the benefit of our career. How different are we? How do we stand out, if we all perform the same deeds. Easy answer…..We don’t. We don’t show the world anything different than the person that preceded us. If 300,000 people were to run in the same direction, how many people would actually stand out in the crowd? Not many. We scream rebellion but what are we truly rebelling from if we all are doing the same thing? We are not rebelling, we are conforming. Conforming to a world thats says it is alright to steam roll competitors. Or to press forward at full speed with no regard to those who fall in our wake.
But think, how easy is it to slow down, and care. To feel, to express, to cry for something other than your own self struggles? To look to the sky and realize someone less fortunate somewhere is doing the same thing? Or to pick someone up on your shoulders and carry them to the top of the mountain, and then truly not want payment once you reach it. How easy is it to sacrifice something for someone else. How easy is it to not be bitter. To show love to your neighbor? How easy is it to actually rebel?
I don’t preach gloom and doom, for I am not perfect and this is for just as much as it is the next person. So my friends I challenge you and I to rebel from what the world says is acceptable and start a new movement. A love movement, a thought movement, a respect movement. Let us start a rebellion.
Here is what I couldn’t say at tonight’s hearing. Please spread this around if you can. The Southington, Connecticut Board of Education is corrupt, has stifled voices in the matter, and has unjustly ruled against a boy with nothing on his record.
Let me tell you the story of Lisa Smith of Dallas, Texas. An honor student, cheerleader, and member of the student council at her middle school, Lisa was constantly praised for her work in both academics and extracurricular activities. Lisa is truly the picture of a model student, no? But of course, Lisa is not perfect, and Lisa is prone to make mistakes, just as every human is. The eighth-grader, who had never known trouble, faced expulsion, along with five months in a military-style boot camp. Her offense: bringing a 20-ounce bottle of Cherry 7-Up mixed with a few drops of grain alcohol to school, violating the school’s “zero tolerance” policy.
Though grain alcohol and steroids are very different substances, the circumstances under which these substances were found were both very much innocent. The rigidity of the no tolerance policy does not only punish a child, but it has the absolute potential to destroy their lives. As a senior in high school, Brian is looking to go to trade school for plumbing, is planning on starting his own business, and I have become more and more confident as his sister that he has a bright future ahead of him. In no way has this incident endangered any of your students or faculty, and it has not interrupted any sort of academic process within the high school. This is a young man who has gone through thirteen years of schooling without any major disciplinary action taken against him, and the extent to which the punishment has been carried out goes far beyond what is just.
The judicial system within our schools is very much biased toward certain students. Case in point, on May 17th, 2011, Brian was assaulted by a senior student who was completely unprovoked. Said student was given alternative to suspension and was still able to participate in sports and all senior activities including graduation. On June 3rd 2011, Brian was once again assaulted by another student, but this time, the student was suspended and arrested. These were the same types of crime, yet the outcome of each incident included two completely different punishments. In neither of these cases were either of the boys expelled. Brian acted with incredible maturity when he did not hit the students back, even in self-defense, and has only been a victim. While neither involved drugs, the circumstances of these events fall under Level 3 conduct violations, as cited in page 36 of the Student Handbook. Compared to the present issue, these seem to be much more dangerous circumstances and were very much incited by violent tendencies. Brian had no intent of selling or distributing the controlled substance, and this lack of intent should be a major factor in dealing with this incident.
Events of the past and present lead me to beg the question, “Is this so-called ‘no tolerance’ policy effective overall?” With the amount of people standing behind Brian and arguing that his expulsion is completely unjust considering the circumstances, I have to think not. Even within other school systems, the no tolerance policy is actually quite flexible, and is not instated without thorough investigative process and analysis of the student’s past behaviors. Not to mention, nowhere in the Southington Public Schools Student Handbook is there any mention of this policy—how can a school system that is held in such high regard expect to justly rule based on an essentially word-of-mouth policy?
Moving forward, the message your decision should enforce should be one of no tolerance, but not one of insensitive and unnecessary destruction. Sandra Feldman, president of the American Federation of Teachers, the nation’s second largest teachers union, which has pushed hard for zero-tolerance policies, said she is “terribly embarrassed when [she] read[s] about some of these cases. These are examples of adults not exercising proper responsibility. [She is] always in favor of just plain common sense.” As Ronald Stephens, executive director of the National School Safety Center, said, “Zero tolerance and expulsion don’t have to go hand in hand. Zero tolerance simply means all misbehavior will have some sanction. It doesn’t mean you bring the maximum punishment for every transgression.” Brian has very much learned his lesson, and has had very many opportunities to join his class in celebration of their success taken away already. To let him walk for graduation would not be a sign of weakness on your part, it would be a sign of understanding and attention to the person Brian really is and would ensure the people of this town—your voters—that you are looking out for their children’s best interests. Punish, don’t destroy.
you treated your body like a prison for so long, you forgot you had the key.
Even if I write petal words on paper and place them on flyblown rosebushes, you would not have chosen to pick them up. You held scarlet letters in your hand that you’d rather stitch them in your flesh like sewing an old rugged doll and giving it to an 8-year old kid with an amputated leg. The first time somebody filled your mouth with wine you spat it out and said No, but he said he was your maker and he wanted you to taste good. And I’m sorry if no one was there beyond the steering wheel and the windshield to have held your body like a home instead of a wine auction. Your bones are first prize plane tickets around the world and for once, I wanted you to have that same feeling you had, whenever you make snow angels out of plain white things. Turning them into something other than cold, other than melting flesh and bones.
One of these days, you wouldn’t care about the population of China, or the number of times somebody made you feel like an empty fountain. The fifty pound suitcase on your head will be nothing but paper boulders. You will lift them with your hands like Atlas and the earth, and memorize the beat of your heart like a nursery rhyme or a song by Billie Holiday. You might even believe that in an alternate universe you’re realizing life over a swing set, somebody is holding your hand even if your arm’s-length away from each other. But in a world of beginnings and endings, and wasted apologies on broken things and broken hearts, you can be happy here too. You just don’t know it yet.
exclusive hot tumblr tips *only for the cool kids* (wow very rare post, changed my lief)
so i heard u wanted to be in the cool cat club on tumblr… well well well, we’re pretty fucken exCLUSIVE around here so you better not mess this one up. as u all know, i am truly the best writer on tumblr. yep, that’s right, just ask time magazine lol bitches. so if you want to write good post (like this one) then first of all you want to be be a good writer (like me), but that is difficult for some ppl i understand so here i am to help u today.
first of all, you better WRITE GOOD. u heard me, we don’t tolerate none of that COLLARBONES POETRY™ around here. nah son. u want to write about constellations? too fucken bad son. you better be hiding ur stars so far up a fucken metaphor that it ufcken super novas or some shit before any of ur readers even begin to KNOW what the fuck is going on, you dig? get meta with ur writing. nah, fuck that; get META WITH UR META. wow, u heard me, super rare tip: write poetry about poetry ABOUT poetry ABOUT STARS. wow, nice.
i know, it’s difficult for u bc ur not as good as me (sorry) but u have to try ur best. what do you mean, we all start somewhere? what the fuck are you a democrat??? u either write GOOD or GTFO. i dont care about anyone’s collarbones unless they’re being broken in the name of fUking irony, you dig? what do you mean, ur just trying to get comfortable with ur voice and using readily available ideas and themes to build ur confidence and find ur groove, hopefully building a small audience to further encourage you to push beyond your comfort zone and eventually realize your potential as a writer? wow boring sorry, can’t hear u over my # of followers.
okay, next up, listen bc this one is CRUCIAL: if u want to be a cool good wow great wriTER on tumblr then you need to drink alcohol and a lot of it or do a lot of drugs (adderall mmmmmm stimulants personal fav i recommend!!!). weed is also fucken awesome haha 420 blaze it. yeah, nice one. mention that shit in all ur writeing. alcohol is the fucken real shit though. tru fax: my first two features ever i wrote while drunk. doesn’t get much more fucken EMPIRICAL than that does it? if not: hemingway. wow, bukowski. wow, what the fuck are you doing not drinking yet?
alright dipshit u still want to be in the club? well u better be hating on every other sad motherfkrr not as great as us (well just u, because u won’t ever be as gr8 as me truely sorry). whoever said that it pays to be friendly, chill, approachable around here, y’know all that hippy shit, was a fkn dunce u hear me? dunce, as in:
dunce — noun \ˈdən(t)s\
a slow-witted or stupid person
that’s what u will be if you’re not getting on that passive aggressive text post game, u dig? as previously discussed, it’s in ur best interests as a GOOD WRITER to be spending more time PUTTING DOWN the BAD WRITING of other BAD WRITERS than trying to further ur own craft, kk?? simple shit guyse. using tumblr’s handy ANONYMOUS MESSAGING SYSTEM is also super useful. know a writer whose writing TRUEYL SUX? let em fucken know about it. tell them they’re ugly and they should kill themselves bc it’s their fucken fault for writing about the fkn moon again fuCK.
you better still be following because this is where shit gets rEAL: the tru tix to tumblr fame and GOOD WRITEING is the notes. the notes. need the notes. do fkn anything for more notes. if u got a good body, yo, why are not already naked on my fucken dashboard? 10/10, would heart, y’dig? ladies love the washboard abs and the beards, and the guys, well, basically every guy ever will froth over any girl ever on tumblr. we tlkin real fkn science here, truely. if ur a girl then ur 70% of the way to being a cOOL GOOD TUMbLRE WRITer. u wanna know why? of course u wanna know why, it’s because the editors STATISTICALLY (conspiracy proeven by fKN NASA) feature more girls than guys. yep, wow, sexism on my tumblr? more liekly than u fucken think, dipshit. the only way to combat this injUSTICE is to forge secret relations with the editors (super rare manoeuvre) or be a vagaina (literally/figuratively up to u lol).
okay, nice, we’ve made good progress. ur almost ready to start producing fucken quality content like the world has never seen. this is the big one though: features. fucken royal blue ticket to fame and fortune that is. if ur writing isn’t getting featured, what the fuck r u worth to anybody? you want to be tagging ur shit with everything to get noticed. poetry, prose, creative writing, spilled ink, soft grunge; these are the big playas (like me lmao) but u want to go beyond that if u want to make it. don’t ask me what the fuck alt lit is either, we in the cool cat club don’t fuck with them. only fuck with lit, don’t fuck with alt. u think this is a fucken joke son? i remapped my fkn keyboard so task manager is shift + control + del, that’s how much i do not fuck with alt (get on my level). super rare truth bomb: only the first 5 tags get listed, so use that shit fucken wisely, aight? and tags on reblogs don’t count for shit, so make sure ur posting original content at PEAK HOUR. alternatively reblog ur posts as many times as u fucken want because hopefully by now some editors are following ur sorry ass and sometimes they might just miss ur posts so don’t be afraid to shamelessly reblog the fuck out of ur poems, u dig? no shame in playin the game, u fEEL?
fuck, nice, ur almost there. now, the final fkn tip to making it big in the tuMBLR gAME… is to not give a shit about fucking any of this nonsense. Write, say, and do whatever the fuck you want. TAKE YOUR CRAFT SERIOUSLY, NOT TUMBLR. Number of notes, features, and followers are all arbitrary—what is not is the experience you can build for yourself here and for those around you. The genuine friendships you forge with your followers, the community and culture that you build, both on and off Tumblr, and all the stories and lessons you’ll take from both your own writing and the writing of so many others, that’s what you’re going to walk away with, that’s what’s going to bring real value to the community, that’s what’s going to have a lasting effect on you and your writing. You don’t have to sacrifice any of your own character or personality to be a part of anything here. You don’t even have to actively ‘engage’ with any ‘community’ here if you don’t want to. Nobody is forced to do anything on Tumblr. But if you are coming at this with some sense of ‘community’ in mind, and you do want to somehow engage with whatever construct of a ‘community’ you think exists, then just be aware that the way in which you are received is ENTIRELY dependent on the way in which you act. Newton’s 3rd Law or some shit. There is not some mythical entity known as ‘The TWC’ or ‘Alt Lit’ that is out to get you, or that you need to know some fucking secret handshake to get into. There is only one Tumblr, and within it millions and millions of different and unique users with their own connections and networks and shared interests and all of this shit overlaps in a million different ways and somewhere in that entire mess is a group of people who are [whatever] enough to share their writing here. That is the only ‘club’ there is and if you’re writing anything at all here then hey, guess what, you’re already in it. No secret fucking handshake necessary.
u fkn dunce
Ways to Make Sure We Will Die Someday
The guy on the roof next to ours smokes like he’s telling secrets. Each day, he stands by the railing, throws his head back like a breaching whale, and stuffs a cigarette into his mouth. Because of the strange and desperate angle, the cigarette is almost vertical. With each drag, he pinches his eyes shut and sucks so forcefully that I figure he must be telling his cigarette his most closely guarded thoughts. He has not yet noticed me, but I watch him every day at eleven a.m. from our roof, my own cigarette dangling feebly from my lips by comparison.
He is around twenty-seven, tall for an Asian guy, and lanky. His dark hair catches the mid-morning light in a kaleidoscopic display of shining ebony and pewter. Usually he wears a white button-down and dress pants, but today he’s added a tie to the ensemble. It’s black, which is funny to me for some reason.
I’ve considered calling out a “hello,” but he always seems like he’d be too zenned to hear me. In the span of a ten minute smoke break, through the smoke and the ash, he traverses across continents. I am not attracted to him, but I feel a nagging need to know the secrets he passionately whispers to his cigarettes on mornings like these.
Shit. He’s spotted me staring. I hastily glance away, but I can feel his eyes on me. I am afraid to look up, so I keep my eyes down as I rise from one of my office’s plastic lawn chairs to walk over to the opposite side of the roof. I sneak a quick peek before I can stop myself, and he is still staring, his cigarette wedged in the corner of his mouth. I chance a small wave. He does not return it, but sniffs instead and drops the cigarette butt to the street thirty floors below. Together, we watch it fall until it’s imperceptible against the grey malady of the streets. Without looking back at me, he turns and heads back inside his building, his walk like fire and ice having an argument.
I never see him again. It could be that he just chose a different time to take a smoke break or left his company entirely. Today, I try to smoke like he did, with my head thrown back and my eyes shut tightly. It scares me. As I watch the cigarette plummet to the pavement, I know that it will be my last one for quite a while. Nasty habit, intimacy.
96. THE COLLECTORS OF TIME AND SECRETS
I stand at the edge of the mountain, clutching at the strand of rope wrung around my waist helplessly, as if my life depended on it. Maybe it did then; maybe it still does. I am alone. The red soil appears to me too frightening— bloody, like clumps of torn human flesh, glistening in the pale moonlight. I am not so sure. The darkness does that to you.
I begin to wonder the many lives shed in this very place. How so many of them laid on this spot, bleeding from their gaping wounds inflicted by these tragic wars, breathing their last beneath the roof of this broken world.
The trees are mourning with me now, leaning down to bow and pay their respects to a hundred dead soldiers, forgotten—buried beneath a patch of earth, unnamed and unmarked, their burial sites forgotten so easily. How many unnamed tombs are there in this world? How many empty tombs have been buried somewhere, where all the dead gathered in the darkness inside their sodden graves, the names of their owners, the only thing the world will ever remember?
Things are different now, here in this place, and everywhere in this earth. We are collectors of time and deep-seated secrets of so many strangers. We tell each other things that we shall never tell those we know and care about the most. We are scared of the infinite possibilities of how we will die, but we can never be so sure of what happens tomorrow.
This is my prayer now: that where ever you are, right at this moment, you are safe, and that you will keep on living even when the rest of the world has breathed their last breaths and gave up believing entirely.
Hints of love
This is a special, sacred time. This is the time when gravity begins to surrender part of its hold on us. Can you feel the way your feet touch the ground while you walk towards my doorstep? Light, so light. Your consciousness is gradually narrowing on me like a laser beam concentrating, and everything else glides and spills off the sides, tumbling into oblivion. And I, waiting eagerly at my window, I warn myself against the dangers of inviting you in, literally and metaphorically, all the while knowing it’s already impossible not to, because you are already inside: every thought, every smile, is made of you. I like to think one day soon you’ll lean over and kiss me, but, please, not too soon. These hints of love are beautiful and so delicate, they never last longer than the flight of dandelion seeds on a breath and I want to enjoy every single one, before they disperse in the wind.
Sometimes I imagine the implications of capturing reality in words, and see consciousness as a river flowing past a fixed point, the present, and wonder if perhaps there is some sort of net I can equip myself with to better catch ideas as they flow past, in the same way I take my camera with me to capture reality in pictures, or if perhaps, analogous to the camera, if I don’t have the right recording device on me, the moment flows past and is lost forever, and if perhaps those are the best ideas, and maybe I’ve dreamt the solution to all my problems a thousand times over—I think of the way one wakes up with the certainty that something important has just occurred, but unable to remember exactly what, and wonder if I’ve ever had a significant dream, or if I’ve only ever dreamt significance.
i. here, the days bleed into one another like wounds, like deltas. your hurt lost somewhere inside mine. and mine, abandoned somewhere inside yours. here, the days are short and the nights long — so long. we lie together on the bathroom floor and grieve for each other, for ourselves, for what we lost and cannot find again. for failing to help each other. for failing to help ourselves. for failing in spite of everything.
ii. the questions here have no answers. they stretch for hundreds of miles, and we follow until we are desperate travellers, dehydrated and delusional. until, we are throwing our bodies into the dirt and pleading for an end.
iii. there are no words that will contain all this heaviness. everyone seems to be drowning on dry ground. everyone seems to be drowning in things they cannot grasp, cannot understand. there is no balance in this world. there is no certainty. here, we are fumbling down a dark tunnel that may or may not have an opening at the other end. here, we are stumbling over ourselves and over others and over all this emptiness. and we are locking ourselves in bathrooms and digging our nails into our skin like a physical plea to a god we don’t believe in.
iv. so many of us are ghosts trapped inside walls of skin that threaten to collapse, like buildings struck by 9.5 earthquakes, like an earthquake struck by another earthquake. this world is chewing us up and spitting us out, only to repeat it the next week, next day, next hour.
v. i’m sorry for all of this futility, all of this emptiness. i wish i had something whole to offer, to each and every one of you. i wish i could offer something beautiful, something light, but these days i walk with an anchor around my foot, and a bloody organ inside my chest that feels more dead than alive.
Making up for Lost Time
“You fuck like you got something to prove,” the naked girl said between inhaling from a cigarette.
She lied on the bed, completely exposed and exhausted. Right next to her was a young man, also naked, also smoking a cigarette.
“Is that a good thing or a bad thing?” He asked.
“It depends,” The girl said and took another drag, making him wait for the rest, dragging it out. “It depends if you’re proving something to yourself, or if you’re proving something to me.”
He chuckled, reached over and grabbed the girl by her chin. He lifted her face up and close; stared at her eyes, “And which one is the good one? Which one am I?”
The girl yanked her head out of his grasp and turned over. She got up with her back turned next to him and stretched a little, “Well, I’m not completely sure. I’d need to go again maybe to make myself certain…”
He reached and grabbed her by the waist, pulling her back onto the bed, “We can go again right now,” But she wiggled free and bent over to pick up her scattered clothes that littered the room.
“I think you fuck like you’re proving something to yourself, and that’s not good. What is it? What’s your…dysfunction.”
The bluntness caught him off-guard and he paused a little, thinking, brainstorming, “You know when I lost my virginity?”
“Don’t know and don’t care.”
“I was 23. Don’t you agree that’s old?” He asked.
She slid her panties on and kept searching the room for her jeans and shirt, “I don’t really care. You lose it when you want to, or get a chance to. It means nothing.”
“Yeah, well…what’s the average? 16-17? Younger now probably, these kids are fucking at 13 now. Do you know how much sex I statistically missed all those years? How many women?”
The girl stopped and turned back around to face him, “Missed out? What the fuck are you talking about? So that’s your explanation for fucking everyone you can? Not that I care, it’s just…fucked up.”
He smirked, “Fucked up? Why? How? I’m just doing what I should have been doing before. Enjoying myself.”
She managed to find her top and jeans and quickly throw it on herself, “You see, you fuck to prove something to yourself? You fuck to prove you’re a real ladies man, right?” She asked him and took her purse. “You fuck for the sole purpose of making up all those years, huh? All those girls? Fucking to prove something to yourself is a pretty fucked up thing. Fucking to make up for all that lost time.”
“Yeah, well what’s wrong for making up for lost time?”
“Hah,” She turned around and walked over to the door, only to turn around again and smile at him, “You may try to make up for lost time, but time that is lost stays lost. You’re just fooling yourself, and in the end, you’re just fucking yourself. You’re fucking for yourself.”
She opened the door and left, leaving him naked, alone and exposed.
I knocked on E’s door. When she opened it, I asked if I could come in. “There’s something I want to tell you before you leave.” It was Monday. Our first year of college was almost over and I’d spent the last few weeks thinking about how much I’d grown and how much of that was because of the friends I had made. In my nostalgic mood, I ended up writing E a letter about the past year. I never expected to give it to her, but then I got a text at 2:33am. She couldn’t sleep. She was anxious about leaving. I asked if I could come over.
“This is for you.” I showed her the letter. “I don’t usually do things like this, but I thought it might help. I hope it brings you some sort of comfort and makes you feel better about leaving.” Soon after she started reading, she began to cry.
Roughly two pages on standard lined paper, it was an honest account of the past nine months—the good and the bad of how our friendship began, how it grew, and what it meant to me. It was layered with caution—I wasn’t sure how open I should have been or how much I should have said—and it was layered with truth. I was always more honest writing than speaking. I strongly suspect the words I’d written for her were among the most heartfelt ever written in her name.
“I’m—I’m going to keep this,” she said when she finished reading. She could barely get the words out. She wanted to linger over the letter a bit longer to make sure it wasn’t a dream.
“It’s yours,” I replied without a second thought.
“And then I’m going to hug you and then ask you to leave because I need to be alone right now.”
I understood. A quick hug—I didn’t want it to end—and I found myself on the other side of the door, the blinding artificial light pouring into my eyes. In a windowless college dorm, 3am never feels like 3am.
There are very few moments that when they occur you recognize you will remember them for the rest of your life. They are moments so supreme, so profoundly human that they cannot help but be remembered. She looked down at the letter she would not let go of and knew she would remember these words and how she felt reading them for the rest of her life.
After working at The Natural History Museum of Stavenhope for several weeks I had still not made any friends, not without trying mind. I’m quite a friendly person, outgoing in my own little way. I’d say I’m interested in people, and I always tried to converse with my co-workers about, well, anything - but they seemed to just shut off whenever I came near! It was very disconcerting, and it did not create a positive work environment at all. They weren’t even nice about it, like they were always laughing at the strangest things, and talking in some kind of weird code.
I’ll give you an example, okay? So you can understand. One Saturday three of them and myself were sitting at reception, and a young man in a pinstripe suit walks in, and one of them whispers to the others “He’s nibbled his last kneecap” and they all burst into laughter, with tears streaming down their faces! I mean what’s that about? It took them ages to recover, and I was just sat there all confused. It was absolutely embarrassing. I almost quit after that, easily could’ve handed in my notice and taken two weeks holiday.
That was when they came to me, they surrounded me just after work had finished and said that they’ve been watching me for some time; that I had been deemed “Worthy.”
“Worthy of what?” I asked, scared almost of what they were going to say.
“Friendship” they all had said, speaking carefully in unision, a practised monotic drawl “and belonging.”
“Good.” I had said back, all flustered and shaken, though I had grown used to their strangeness by now. Finally, I thought. I might actually enjoy coming to work.
“There is something you must do first, something to show that you want to truly belong.” This is where they had all smiled, not evilly though, they weren’t evil smiles. They were encouraging smiles, human smiles.
“What would I have to do?” I admit that my voice was shaking at this point as I was quite nervous, a feeling which intensified when they produced a brown sack and began rummaging around in it. Finally they produced a battered, old, badly stuffed owl. “What do you want me to do to that?” I couldn’t hide the horror and disgust from my voice.
“You must punch the owl.” They said, though here they broke apart, deciding no longer to speak as one, instead all cried out in excited, almost childlike voices, “Punch the owl! Punch the owl!”
I had laughed! It was so silly! This is what I had to do to be their friend? So I punched the owl, and my hand stuck fast. There was a moment of awkwardness. “Glue?” I asked, disappointed that I’d fallen for such a stupid practical joke. Then they all fell to the floor laughing, laughing and shaking so hard they began spasmodically flailing on the floor and frothing at the mouth. Disturbed and frightened I tried to remove my hand from the owl, but this only got my other hand stuck. I tried to get them to help, but they were still flailing and screaming in some crazed euphoria. I panicked at that point, and just started running away from these insane people as hard and as fast as I could.
I didn’t get very far. When I actually thought about it, the sticky feeling on my hands didn’t feel like glue, more like a soft sucking feeling; like it was trying to draw me in. I could still hear their demonic cries from down the hall, like they were stalking me, chasing me. I kept on running, but with each step the sucking sensation grew stronger and stronger, until I looked down to find that my hands were impossibly, deeply inserted into the owl.
There was no time to think, well there wasn’t time for anything at all. It was like as soon as I knew what was happening a seal was broken, and I was instantly sucked into the owl. My mind, body and soul were trapped in the carcass of a dead, stuffed, owl. Unable to see or hear anything, lost forever as an unlogged item in a forgotten museum. Completely alone, well until now anyway, Haha.
So, how did they get you? What’s your story?