Try and Stop Me
There's a lot to be said for research and practice. Case in point: I give a good friend of mine the gift of fan fiction for birthdays and Christmas, starring her and her celebrity crush. A while back, she requested that these stories include *spicy* scenes. As a girl who's never been in a physical relationship of any kind I didn't have any real world experiences to draw on, and I'm not the biggest fan of the romance genre in general. So what's a gal to do with no knowledge base? Make one. Short of throwing myself at random men on the street of course. I watched sex scenes from movies. I called to memory the books with red covers my mom said were for grown-ups ONLY (so of course I had secretly and confusedly read one). Lastly, I looked up a specialized vocabulary list for *spicy* scenes, so I wouldn't sound like the complete idiot I was, and I wrote the spicy scene.
Good friend liked the spicy scene. The con was successful.
Moral of the story: You can write what you don't know if you're willing to learn.
Brother and Sister
I don’t usually dream, but when my alarm went off at its usual hour, I cursed it for interrupting my quest for the most tempting bag of chocolate I’d ever seen. I lurched in the direction of the incessant buzzing, only to find myself stuck in the dip of a deflating air mattress. That’s when I remembered that I was not in my apartment. I was in my parents’ house on the floor of what used to be my room, waking up way too early for the first day in a week that I didn’t have to work. Not that getting up at the ass-crack of dawn each morning to ‘craft premium coffee and espresso beverages’ for people a station above you in life isn’t great. It does have its perks. I had just been feeling the ache in my back and my knees more acutely the past week, and if my craving dream was any indication, there was a very natural and feminine reason for that.
Finally grabbing hold of my phone and swiping in the correct direction for ‘alarm off,’ I rolled the rest of the way off the mattress, got to my feet, and slogged out the bedroom door towards the bathroom. Outside my door, I could see the light on in the kitchen. That was usually an indicator that my younger brother, Denver, had gotten up to roam the house in the middle of the night. I listened for my brother, but I couldn’t hear him. He was probably asleep again in his own room, in the dark expanse farthest to my right.
I shuffled into the bathroom and closed the door behind me. Ugh. As soon as I’d gotten up I’d felt my innards soiling my underpants. I sat hard on the toilet, hearing a dull clink of displaced porcelain behind me. I grunted. The doctor had told me that I’d put on thirty pounds this past year. Of course the toilet jumped when I sat on it. It was like the scale screaming, which it surely would have if I’d decided to step on it while I was home. I was monstrous. I could balance two attractive girls my own age on the opposite side of a see-saw from me, and maybe even still be the heavier one.
To clarify, my doctor said none of this. She just suggested that I get back on my exercise regimen and try to cut out the fast food whenever possible. But she also knows that I have severe anxiety and mild to moderate depression, so she might have had a pre-arranged agreement with my inner demons. Not that they’d ever tell me.
I finished my business and cleaned up, trudging back into my bedroom and willing myself not to collapse onto the air mattress once more. I was awake now, and going back to sleep was only going to throw my day off. Carefully, I bent my knees and lowered myself back onto the mattress, pulling the rolling computer chair towards me where I’d laid out my outfit the night before. Black leggings, purple sports bra, Freddie Mercury t-shirt, leopard print socks. Comfy and classy. I pulled off my shorts and began to thread my legs into the leggings. I stood up as I pulled the fabric over my thighs, giving a final tug and marveling at how the fabric seemed to tighten the droopy parts of me. For a moment, I thought of how nice a onesie of the same material might feel. In the next moment, I remembered how my belly always stuck out when I wore onesies. I did my best to finish getting dressed without thinking too hard about it.
After putting on all but my shoes, I flopped starfish-style on the air mattress, groping the top end for the air valve. I had to set the card table up where the mattress was for when Denver got home from school. That was where he listened to records and did his puzzles after homework time. Pressing the right side of my face further into the suede-like surface of the mattress, I stretched my arm further and grasped the plug. I pulled it, dropping an immediate inch as the air began to rush out from underneath me. Carefully again, I stood up from the mattress, folded it in half the long way and lay myself on top of it. Even more air hissed out. I smiled. This was one of the advantages to being monstrous: more efficient air mattress breakdown. I slowly sank down on top of the deflating mass. I pictured myself pressing the mattress down into the floor if I lay there long enough. It made me think of the book Maniac Magee and how the main character said he didn’t like sleeping on mattresses because it gave him the feeling of slowly rising on mashed potatoes. I was slowly sinking in mashed potatoes. I hadn’t eaten mashed potatoes in a while. I hadn’t eaten anything yet today. I crawled off of the flattened mattress strip and folded it one last time, sitting on it and listening to the last of the air hissing out. I was queen of this queen-sized mattress.
That was really the only thing I was queen of.
I gathered up the folded mass of vinyl, stuffed it in its storage bag, stored the whole mess in my closet and ventured out of my room and toward the living room. The dimness of the short hallway in the early morning kept me swallowed for just a moment, but helped me focus my eyes on the oblong splash of light from the kitchen on the floor of our front room. If this had been two years ago, my mother would have been sitting on the couch in her long gray sweater over a bright green nightgown with her black and silver hair pulled back into a clip. Her favorite sweater, comfiest nightgown and least stressful hairstyle at just the right time of morning to start waking up before the rest of the house.
“Good morning sunshine!” she would say, brightly. “I’m surprised you’re up this early.”
“Cramps,” I said out loud, stopping in the kitchen doorway and lifting my arms up to stretch. My fingertips touched the top. My elementary school self was ecstatic. Also, imaginary Mom, this time is no longer early. This is clock-in time. My uterus stabbed upward. Did I say cramps? I meant CRAMPS. Monthly cramps. Hence the black and stretchy, thank God they were clean.
What time did it say on the oven?” I turned and cocked my head to see the neon green display. Six-fifteen. Denver’s lunch for school had to be packed, and I still needed breakfast. Denver needed breakfast too.
I opened the fridge and glanced at the top two shelves before looking back to the couch. I half expected to see my mother struggling, then succeeding in raising herself up from the couch to see what I was up to in here.
“Your mother is morbidly out of shape,” she would have laughed as she came in.
“That’s how I felt getting out of bed this morning,” I would have responded. I scanned the potential food options in front of me. Not a lot of breakfast options available, save for the gallon each of soy and skim milk at the back of the second shelf and the mesh bag of apples that looked like they’d just been in a fight. The milk was going to make my stomach hurt later, and biting into any brown part of any fruit was proven to make me gag. I swore I had bought those apples while they weren’t rotten and yet, somehow, here we were. I removed the economy size jar of salsa from the middle shelf with one hand and rearranged the contents in front of the milk with my left. I considered my cereal options. I usually just bought Rice Chex for Denver since that was his favorite and I was okay with pretty much whatever, but I remembered that I had just splurged on a box of my own favorite cereal for a weekend treat. Cereal for a treat that wasn’t chocolate flavored. Oh, the joys of true adulthood.
I grabbed the jug of skim milk from the fridge. My heart said Honey Bunches of Oats, but my stomach reminded me that coffee would be an appropriate touch for an upset morning stomach.
“Well, I can’t argue with that.” Imaginary Mom turned her head towards me, nodding to the cabinet next to the fridge. “Could you hand me the peanut butter?”
I shifted the milk jug to my left hand and opened the cabinet with my right, grabbing the giant wholesale canister and putting it under my arm before walking it to the counter. I turned to the fridge for corn tortillas to make Denver’s lunch.
“Your father baked some bread a few night ago, and some of it has miraculously survived.”
Sometimes Dad had baked over the weekend for Denver. He worked the night shift during the week, so he kept his sleep schedule by staying up in the wee hours on weekends to get other work done, usually fixing things in his workshop or cooking things that would take too much time during the day. Things like bread with no gluten or dairy. I could detect aftertaste just looking at that bread. That nonexistent bread. I opened the fridge. Corn tortillas with peanut butter it would have to be.
I returned to the living room after making my brother’s lunch and my breakfast, turning on the TV. The light from our widescreen glowing box cut through the early morning dimness like a text notification. I should have been used to early hours by now, I really should have. Something about those news anchors though…they had it so good. All they had to do was read a script and sit down. They actually got to sit down. Lucky.
“Thanks Wendy!” A perky anchorwoman was transitioning the stories on the docket in the typical morning news manner. She turned to her male co-anchor. “All that talk of summer is making me want to party! Do you have any exciting plans for the summer?”
“Well, Cindy, what’s gotten me really excited is the message we received last night from our distant neighbors.”
“Oh, that is exciting!” Cindy turned to face the camera. “Fans of outer space, if you haven’t seen it already, a certain video has been making its way through all the news outlets ever since its simultaneous arrival at both the NASA and US immigration headquarters two weeks ago.”
The ‘certain video’ they were talking about was one that had definitely been around longer than two weeks. It was the travel and immigration services video made by the Planetary Body Messier 52 embassy and posted publicly on their website. Not that that specific website is easy to get to for anyone who isn’t specifically looking for it, but sue me for being better informed than the news outlets just this once. I’d been poking around the internet looking for support groups for nonverbal individuals and their families, which was a lot more difficult than I’d hoped. Stupidly, optimistically. What I found was a nice listing of group homes for those nonverbal individuals where they’d be “well cared for and assisted in reaching their full potential.” From what I could gather, a group home was the lifelong equivalent of those respite camps Mom used to send Denver to in the summer. She got a call from one of the counselors during Denver’s second go-round because he had pushed one of the other kids. What they didn’t tell her until she showed up in person was that the other kid had been hitting and pushing Denver first. The other kid in question was also 5’2 and rather skinny to my brother’s 6’1 and rather chubby. If that situation had been in the context of a public school, Denver would have gotten detention for at least two days. I couldn’t imagine how an all happy and smiley group home like the ones in the ads would deal with a genuine violent outburst if my brother didn’t get his way.
The Messier 52 embassy page was on page three or four of my Google search for ‘nonverbal individual support group.’ The page was bare bones: just a mission statement, the welcome video, and links to the necessary application forms for travel and citizenship. At first, I was certain that what I’d found was somebody’s old video project or prank, and that the links would either put viruses on my computer or lead me to the music video for Rick Astley’s “Never Gonna Give You Up.” There was that tiny shadow of doubt that persisted though, just strongly enough to make me follow the links after pulling up the site on my iPad—the only device I could debug without help. The forms were legit. After that day the site slowly started beefing up, adding links and information regarding space travel and pricing, recognizing partnerships with various disease prevention groups on Earth, and offering short questionnaires for site visitors to determine their eligibility for Messier 52 citizenship. I had taken them all, and Denver had passed each with flying colors.
“The people here call themselves “Messis,” and claim to live on a planet just outside the Andromeda galaxy.” While Cindy’s co-anchor spoke, his voice became a voiceover to silent footage of the video, which showed what appeared to be a partially-human creature sitting behind a desk and addressing whoever was behind the camera. Of course, they had managed to find the most jarring shot from the introduction video on the site. I went back into the kitchen. “The Messis,” he continued, “tell us that their home is small, peaceful and law-abiding, and whoever wishes to join them there will be welcome, so long as they too are willing to submit to the laws of the land. Now, I don’t know about you Cindy, but that seems pretty fair to me.”
“Fair to me too, Gus,” she said with a laugh. “If only things were that simple here, right?”
“You said it, Cin. The Messis also state in their communication that they specially welcome those who see themselves or are perceived as outcasts, and that’s not all. After the video’s initial circulation, testimonials of other residents of this planet began to surface as well, most notably stories from individuals on the autism spectrum.”
I poked my head out of the kitchen. It never failed. I could pick out the ‘a’ word from 100 paces or more. Apparently the sizeable population of autistic people on the distant planet was now common knowledge. Interesting. But I knew about it first. The rest of the world was just then finding out about it. There had been evidence of life on other planets for years. Years. The only reason it wasn’t exploited was that the general public thought that Our Andromeda by Brenda Shaughnessy was just a work of fiction—an extrapolation of a dream that a mother had for her disabled son. I knew, though. I didn’t know that much, but I knew that there was more truth to the words she wrote than fiction. I would have thought any person who recognized themselves in the author would be able to draw the same conclusion, but that might have been asking too much. Not everyone has a portion of daydreams dedicated to their autistic little brother.
“Autistic Earthlings on Planet M52 are able to find community more easily because the communication is all nonverbal-”
I guessed they didn’t actually know much at that particular moment. Planet M52. Was it suddenly too strenuous to say the full name? In the eyes of the station, it was probably just a viral conspiracy theory covered to boost viewership.
But I had been researching the same topic for a long time. There were even transportation services that offered routes to Andromeda’s outer reaches. They were just really expensive. That stood to reason, since it would take a lot of fuel to get all the way out there. But it was possible. That was the point. I stared at the TV screen, not really seeing or hearing. Andromeda had made its way to mainstream media. Was that going to make my goal everyone else’s now? Before now I had been confident that I’d found a private safe haven for my little brother, who desperately needed it. Was everyone else who thought Earth wasn’t meeting their every need going to drain their bank accounts and start GoFundMe pages to hop on a ship to the outer reaches of the Andromeda galaxy? Because that wasn’t fair. I’m well aware that the fair’s only in town once a year, but knowing the ways of the world rarely made me less indignant.
I stared ahead at the screen until the five-day weather forecast, and then I saw the tiny clock in the upper right hand corner. It was time to wake Denver. I stood up and headed back in the direction of the bedrooms. I was surprised that Denver had actually stayed asleep. I turned the dark corner and then the knob on my brother’s door. True to form, there was Denver in his bed, snoring with his mouth open. I was surprised he still fit in his bed, since last time I had heard the doctor had measured him to be six foot two. That made him even taller than Dad, and I had a hard time picturing Dad sleeping in a twin bed. Then again, I’d probably have an easier time picturing it if it wasn’t Denver’s twin bed, decked out with Batman sheets and a bright blue comforter and separated from the wall by a small infantry of stuffed animals. Staring through the darkness at me was the Disney Store Dumbo we had bought him when he got out of the hospital as a baby. Next to Dumbo was an ankylosaur plush from the zoo’s summer dinosaur exhibit. The two of them stood staunchly by my brother’s ankles, warning all wrongdoers away. I stepped carefully inside the door, knowing his floor was littered with books and puzzle pieces that never got put away. I would tell him to put books back on the shelf and to put the puzzle pieces back into the correct boxes, but that only happened some of the time. Denver was impatient. He wanted to live his days from action to action, without the confusing in-between. When it was time to put things back in his room, he would stalk to the doorway, toss the offending object inside, and return to the room he’d been in before. I stepped around fragmented trucks and landscapes that had escaped boxes with full pictures on the outside. Most of them were presents from our grandparents, who were overjoyed that Denver had a somewhat normal hobby. One of the truck puzzles was one that I had picked up for him at the dollar store. Not nearly as glossy or durable as the others, but he seemed to like it anyway.
I shuffled over and stood at his bedside. “Hey, Denver.” I reached down and lightly shook his shoulder. “It’s time to get up, little man.” I could feel my hand permeating an aura of heat as I reached down. The kid’s internal temperature had to go up whole degrees after he slept. During the years of my Twilight obsession, I was convinced that he was secretly a werewolf.
Denver stirred, but didn’t open his eyes. I knew the feeling. Nevertheless, I shook his shoulder again, a little harder. I swear, his body had it down to a science. Get him just to the point of sweating, and then hold it there. He was warm all over, but his exposed skin was always perfectly dry. His armpits were probably sweating, though. That would explain the rank scent that hit my nose as he rolled over. “Denver, you have to get up now. It’s time for school.”
He turned over, wrestled his eyes open and squinted at me. His nose was wrinkled and his mouth was curved into a sneer. I knew he knew what I was saying.
“School,” I repeated. “You have to get up and get ready.”
Still silent, Denver pushed back his blankets and grudgingly swung his feet to the floor. After rubbing his eyes with the heel of his hand, he stood and stretched.
“That t-shirt getting a little small for you?” I smirked, poking his exposed belly with my index finger.
Still frowning, Denver moved past me and out his door to the bathroom. I sighed. I’m sure if he could have, he would have told me to quit it or eff off, but I had gotten used to speech not being part of his repertoire. There were little grunts and noises that he used from time to time when he couldn’t get his point across in action, but it was much too early for that, for both his brain and his bladder.
Denver has autism, which is totally necessary to explain in some circumstances and totally unnecessary in others. I tell my sibling stories just like everyone else my age, but I don’t always bring up my brother’s developmental disorder. It’s kind of a downer. After revealing that I was an older sibling, I would tell my classmates and co-workers how my little brother was a violent kid, and how he used to kick and slap me but I never bruised, and how one time he broke his bedroom window with his head out of frustration. At the end of the story would be the time that anyone else might say, oh yeah, and my brother’s autistic so we’re kind of lucky that was the worst of it. But I almost never did. I’d just leave it out. I figured that since people already knew I wasn’t quite sane, they’d figure it just ran in the family. And no way I was leading off with the diagnosis either. As soon as you say ‘autistic,’ you silence the room. For something that’s wide reaching enough to affect one in six kids, there sure is a stigma attached. The general consensus today seems to be that autism is something to be sorry for, and that a story containing it will be a sad one, and this is exactly the kind of energy I’m trying to avoid when I’m telling my work friend about how my little brother messed up three keyboards because he insists on eating his chips and salsa at the computer. That’s the kind of thing a normal teenage boy would do, right? And it’s funny. Once I add that he’s autistic, I feel the silence set in. Now it’s a story about a boy who can’t quite understand how things work, and his sister who laughs at him for not understanding. That’s why I leave the diagnosis out of it. That’s why I also tell a lot of sibling stories culminating in Denver just giving me a look. I don’t say that he’s nonverbal and that he probably would have said something clever but devastating if he could, even though that’s closer to the truth. He’s super smart. I know he is. It’s not a question of nurture, I’ll tell you that. He grew up looking at books and watching Sesame Street just like I did. If everyone’s brain was wired the same, we’d all have adults marveling at how we could read the laminated Bible verses on our Sunday school wall at age three. It’s just a matter of nature deciding that everyone having the same internal wiring wasn’t going to fly. I highly suspect that a lot of what he knows gets lost somewhere in the ether between the nonverbal and verbal world. And that’s the stuff that gets through after the autism gets in there and jumbles it up. Most days, I just wish I could get inside his head and take a good look. But alas, I am no brain surgeon. My biggest strength is talking about books and where they went right and wrong, which in no way qualifies me to get inside anyone’s head, except metaphorically. As Denver closed himself into the bathroom, I went back to the living room and staked my position on the comfy chair next to the couch. In our house, everyone did their best to keep out of the way of the person on a deadline. Since he was the one with a school bus to catch, that was Denver.
In the middle of one of those disturbing dog biscuit commercials where they show a golden retriever smiling with human teeth, Denver emerged from the bathroom, still stumbling a little from tiredness. Thankfully, according to my phone clock, it had only been a few minutes since his initial launch. Sometimes he needed reminders to hurry. He lumbered down the short hallway, through the living room and into the kitchen. He yanked out the bag of leftover muffins to present to me.
“Oh, well I see our request has been made known.” I said, not making an effort to sound interested, not that Denver gave a crap. He went to the cupboard for a bowl while I extracted two muffins from the bag to put into the microwave. I put in two, which he would quickly wolf down and then demand a repeat performance, which I would of course refuse just in time to point out the time and remind him that the school bus would be arriving soon.
While the muffins heated, Denver emerged from the kitchen with his lunch bag, going back towards his room for his backpack.
“What do we say to the people who pack our lunches?” I called after him.
“Foo koo Em!”
“You’re welcome, Denver!” I yelled in his general direction. Denver had never been very good at his ‘th’ pronunciation. If you knew he was thanking you, everything was okay. I was just constantly afraid that someone was going to think he said what it sounded like and that I would get a very angry call home from a livid parent and a confused teacher. His ‘y’ sound wasn’t great either, but only the beginning was a real problem.
I heard his dresser drawers opening and closing. That was fairly new. He usually had to be told what to do in the morning every step of the way, but by golly he knew what to do once he got the reminder.
At one point in Malcom in the Middle, the dad says something to the mom like, “We’re men. We can’t read your mind, but ask us and we’ll do anything.” That’s basically the way Denver was. Heck, that’s the way I am at my job half the time. Despite how much I’d like to read other people’s minds, I just can’t. I just learn what people want me to do the best I can and as fast as I can so people don’t get mad. For Denver though, there’s a bit of a synaptic gap. He knows what to do, he just has to be reminded to do it on a daily basis. When I think how tiny that gap in his reasoning or memory has to be, it’s just sad. It’s a distance that a normal person wouldn’t even be able to see without a powerful microscope. It’s so small that if it were an external imperfection on a licensed coffee mug, we would still put it front and center on our merchandise shelf at work, and someone would definitely buy it to drink their latte macchiato out of.
Denver emerged a few moments later wearing blue jogging pants with white stripes and a light brown polo shirt. I cringed. I hated when he put clothes on that didn’t match, even though I knew I should have been celebrating the fact that he could get dressed without any help. His directive had been to put on a shirt and a pair of pants over his underwear, and that’s just what he had done.
“Socks and shoes!” I told him. Denver disappeared into his room once more.
Denver was like I was and like Mom had been—he’d go anywhere barefoot given the chance. He and I had jointly annoyed Dad by taking the trash out in bare feet during the winter. Denver probably did it because the ‘take out the trash’ command didn’t include putting on socks and shoes in its simplest form, but I did it for speed. It took me extra time to put on the proper footwear for the snow, and it was just quicker to briefly endure the pain and cold and get the task out of the way. And besides, sometimes I couldn’t find a clean pair of socks on such short notice.
Denver came back again with socks and shoes on his feet. My eyes darted to the floor to see if the shoes were on the correct feet. They were. It had taken him years of practice, but it seemed he was getting the hang of it. The laces were even tied in functional knots. Messy, but functional. Denver really had been getting the hang of doing things by himself. I got the feeling he liked that about as much as I did. We pretended it was great, but something about the change was still uncomfortable.
“Good.” I picked up and held out his dark blue windbreaker. “Coat!”
Denver took the coat from me and put it on. He looked around for a moment before most likely realizing that he had left his backpack and lunch in his room, and then went back for them. I smiled through the pain of recalling the time I’d walked nearly two blocks toward the train station before remembering that I’d left my coffee in my room. I’d also done that with my glasses. And my apron. That’s what came of working so early in the morning when you couldn’t commit to getting the proper amount of sleep. That was a leg that Denver had up on me. I felt the sisterly rush of jealousy and pride flow through me as my little brother returned, backpack and lunch in hand.
“Are you ready for school?” I asked him.
Denver nodded. “Es.”
“Are you going to go to science class with Jack today?”
“Are you going to do math today?”
I couldn’t help wondering if Denver wanted to strangle people sometimes. Asking him all these stupid questions just to get the desired signs of life from him. Of course he was going to do math. He did math every day, the same with science. I had no idea if Jack was going to be there to do science in class with Denver, but to be fair, neither did Denver. Denver and Jack were best friends, so he probably hoped that Jack was going to be there, but none of us truly have control of when our best friends are going to show up for class or not. Most of us just hoped that we wouldn’t be left alone to suffer.
“Are you going to be good for your teachers today?”
Denver’s facial expression hadn’t changed for any of the questions, but I was pretty sure he wanted to be done with the ordeal. Lucky for him, the bus pulled up in front of our house right about that time.
“Okay, time to go!” I announced. “Have a good day! Make good choices, be a good friend!”
Denver didn’t answer. He threw the screen door open and walked quickly through it. I watched him board the short yellow school bus and I waved to the driver through the screen. Denver’s bus drivers had all known and loved my mom. She always used to greet them by name in the mornings and walk outside to talk with them in the afternoons. I wasn’t quite so social. Luckily, the difference in demeanor at the front door didn’t seem to offend anyone. I went back into the kitchen. The coffee in my cup was running a bit low.
“You want some more coffee, Mom?” I called as I filled my cup. I went back into the front room and searched for her empty cup on the ottoman. There was no empty cup on the ottoman. The house was empty. The repressed teenager inside me smiled, reminding me how often I had prayed for moments like this during my high school days. I was truly thankful not to be that repressed teenager any more, but I wished in that moment for the joy she felt in the eerie silence.
(Author name: Sara Spry)
* * Inspiration * I * didn't * know * I * had * *
Cultist of Osiris, Reincarnated
He says he longs for the pyramids--
his eyes blue and cold like a glacier
with a stare just as harsh.
He swears he can crumple the plans of the universe in one fist,
make our bleak outlook a bright one
so confident, as if he stares down at each person from a balcony,
down at the city from a helicopter.
He absorbs my doubt, understands it, and turns it back on me.
There's a red indent around my wrist like a jellyfish sting where he grabbed it.
He can see fright wash over me
but loves it
as if awakening from his long slumber
to find his queen, wife, servant
waiting and wasting away for his return
while he slept soundly with his riches around him like a chipmunk and his nuts.
Meanwhile, time marched on
as it has a habit of doing
and similar to time
he has a habit
of staying the same--
more fossil than statue
somehow unchanged by the sands that threatened to erode him.
He stands unchanged with pride
the quotient of power divided by perfection
and I wonder
with millions who used to worship him
will he be content now
with just me?
Letter to Henry
I do not care if they approve of you.
Approval allows ships to dock for free
but it does not bring them into the harbor,
and repetition of tradition
does not make practice outside of it a lie.
I let myself slip into the abyss, and I found you—
digging a grave with silence.
I’ll admit, I admired the view
before I leaped in front of you
and we met like a clash of swords!
You cast me away but I would not let go,
and with jaw-clenched determination I set to keep you
central in my thoughts
like a song I’ve tried before to forget
that you might just feel the same
My first thought is a question-
why is my reflex to throw up?
There is no reason to throw up
or even to really feel ashamed
except for one
but it's only one
even if that one
was not reading the room
which I used to pride myself on doing.
Did I really just think
I could hop into a conversation like that?
Just because the two people are my friends
or were my friends
doesn't mean they want to hear my voice
or see my face.
I do tend to talk too much
and make things about me
so I don't blame them
for asking me to find a different table.
It is probably better
if I keep my thoughts to myself
from now on.
Don't spend money on me that you need for other things.
I refuse to be the reason you can't afford something else.
Besides, as much as I'd love them, they're sure to get lost somehow--
by the courier on the way to my house,
by me as I lose sight of them while looking for a vase,
or by my roommate when they've gone dry and become clutter on her windowsill. Even with good navigation,
I am not worthy of something so beautiful.
Send me any flower and I will scowl at it,
challenging it to see who can wither away quicker.
If you must send something, send chocolates.
Sweet sedatives to calm me in my broken state.
I'll add them to my stockpile,
and eat them while watching a movie that makes me cry.
Change of the Guard
As far as I can see, what's changed is that the writers at the helms of the video game adaptations now are people who are more likely to have played, and/or grown up playing the games, in the case of Sonic and the Pokémon franchise. It's the difference between a cash grab and a passion project, but the finished product lies somewhere in between. I think the curse will stay lifted so long as the writers for projects like these are passionate and knowledgeable about their sources.
OK OK OK OK let’s go
Suddenly all I can think about is the song that's playing in this Starbucks. It's not my normal Starbucks, the normal Starbucks is the one I work at, I have a shift there tomorrow super early so I have to get to bed early so hopefully I have time to take a shower after I get home. the barista behind the counter is tapping the pitcher on the counter to get the milk to consolidate, she's making something with milk clearly because lemonade doesn't do that. I wonder if the moderator in the fan group that just posted a picture will like my comment, I feel like so many people in groups like that end up friends nowadays and nobody ever asks to pm me or meet up irl, I know it's a two way street but I'm afraid and I think some movie along the way is keeping me convinced that my winning personality will make people flock to me, maybe the same movie that convinced me that my soulmate will just fall into my lap one day and I don't have to go hunting like everyone else. I should be writing my novel. I still need to write my grandma a thank you note. I wonder how much money is in my bank account after lending my best friend money for rent. She's gotten way too comfortable asking for money. I'm too soft. I should be saying no. But then if anything happens to her it will be my fault. People are talking too loud in here. Gotta close my pen before it dries out. The moderator replied to my comment. Can't finish my tea too quickly or they might kick me out.
There is no conflict
If I do not engage.
The phone starts to ring in my pocket-
I let it, and it soon falls silent.
I don't know for sure who was calling
But I have a grim idea
I take a swig of my Monster at the train station
The bubbly sensation rises to my nose
Trains take forever on holidays and weekends
But today is Thursday
I used to love having two jobs
But now my heart sinks when I wake up
My left pocket has a secret stash of candy
To pop in my mouth when I feel a mood coming on
The last time I "rose to the occasion"
I earned myself two extra shifts instead of sleep
Some days I wish I lived in a time
When I could celebrate victory with a fine feast
Instead of running by the 7-11 by my house
I would dine slowly, savoring
I would drink the blood of my enemies
But somehow I have convinced everyone that I am too nice.
There is no conflict
If I do not engage.