Posts tagged creative writing
Posts tagged creative writing
She looks in the mirror at the face too long, full of eyes too small, a nose too sharp and lips too thin, and says to the ugly girl reflected there, “I have the power to die.”
The reflection just smiles and gestures at the shiny chrome knob in her best Vanna White impression. “It would be simple and clean,” says the reflection, and she cannot help but think of the vial hidden behind the mirror. In a sick moment of thought, she compares herself to a modern Juliet, palming the tiny peach pills and and sending herself off into infamy.
If she were honest with herself, the boy could go fuck himself for all she cared. Her current mood had shit to do with him. Jack had been just what she’d expected - 10 minutes in the sack and 10 years of heartache.
She’d stopped caring long ago. When the two lines had shown up after a missed period, she almost forgave his aimless, philandering ways in hopes they would take their train wreck of an endless one night stand and turn it into the closest thing to a fairytale she could imagine.
They’d married at the JP - no witnesses, no gifts and no fanfare - and bought a trailer with her small inheritance after Mama had died. Jack had gotten a job at the local Piggly Wiggly and she’d started dreaming in shades of happily ever after.
She’d been as close as she could ever remember to happiness the day she painted the tiny nook they’d use as a nursery blue. With hope bubbling up in her whiskey rotten heart, she’d gone in search of Jack just to find him in the stockroom of the Piggly, his pants around his ankles and his dick buried in a cashier named Bambi. She angrily stormed out but even as her feet quit running, the blood down her legs did not. Within 24 hours, she had no baby, no husband, no dreams and no hope.
She should have walked out that night but she had stayed because every dime she’d ever had was tied up in Jack and that trailer. And if you were to believe the reflection, her dead eyes told the story of an ugly girl who’d died along with her fetus that day and long ago given up on the world and herself.
The days turned into months, months to years and years to a lifetime of disappointment. There had been more jobs, and more days in-between without a job. There had been more cashiers (and stock girls and waitresses and gas station attendants) and even a couple rounds of penicillin to get rid of the little souvenirs he brought home. And still she’d stayed. The doctor said the syphillis had scarred her inside and there would never be any babies. What was the point of leaving? She was used up, broken, beyond saving.
The reflection with the dead eyes knows this sad story. It gestures again at the knob and wills her fingers to turn it, opening the medicine cabinet. There sits the shining vial, its peach promise of salvation glittering with a siren’s song of release. No more unemployment, no more girls, no more doctors, no more Jack, no more failure.
She empties the pills in to her leathery hand, marred by a lifetime of bad decisions and shattered dreams. She doesn’t even bother with a glass of water and feels each muscle spasm as death creeps down her throat.
"Here I have the power to die," she tells the reflection triumphantly.
"It’s a shame," answers the now hazy and quickly fading reflection, "that you never had the power to live."
I watch the dancers shake and shimmy, their heads thrown back in laugher, white teeth flashing, arms reaching skyward. I envy them. I hate them.
Sometimes, they beckon me to join them. I plaster on a fake smile and shake my head, trite but polite. Sometimes, they take it as encouragement and come over and sit for a spell, trying to make mundane conversation. I always think to myself I must work harder on my ‘Don’t talk to me’ face, and eventually they forget the girl in the corner, alone with her drinks and her thoughts and go back to dancing.
I’m here for him, the man behind the microphone. He, too, I love and sometimes envy. He smiles, clearly enjoying the crowd, the noise, the energy. I smile for him when he looks my way, but the minute he turns back my lips turn downward and the darkness returns along with the bittersweet loneliness I always feel in a room full of people.
Mine is a peculiar affliction, the want to experience coupled with the almost simultaneous need to escape. Maybe it is that I have lived in my head for so long to create the words and stories that serve as my release. Maybe it is just as much a part of who I am as my dark hair and short stature. I haven’t always been this way. Once upon a time, I was one of the dancers, the talkers, the lively ones. But now that seems like a character in one of my stories, written a lifetime ago by the hand of someone else.
My attention returns to the stage as he sings to the crowd about love found and love lost. Every time the lyrics turn to love found, he finds me in the darkened room and smiles. The dancers continue to beckon. I consider leaving the darkness behind for a moment, but the moment passes. I lean back and light another cigarette, remembering the old days before the darkness and I wonder if the sun will shine again for more than a day and the memories will fade. The memories are what the darkness brings, and like the dancers, I envy them, I hate them.
"Don’t you ever want to just escape your life," I asked him, "not forever, just a day or two?"
He said yes, but I could tell that was clearly not the case. He is a different breed than I, never more clear than in these moments of conversation.
"No, actually I really enjoy my life," he replied after a moments thought. "I guess I really don’t want to escape very often."
I sat there silently, my words stolen from my lips. I wondered what made me so different from him, hell - from everyone. I wondered what kind of gypsy wanderlust flowed through my veins that made me seem unhappy and restless to others and aimless to myself.
I often yearn to escape. Not forever, not from those I love - but from the mundane and strangling realities of everyday life. I just want to drive until I hit ocean or mountains or sand.
As long as I can remember, I’ve had these days when I’m driving to the office or the grocery store and this little voice inside my head says, “GO, GO, GO!” I’ve heeded the voice once or twice, but I’ve only ever reached the next city before guilt and responsibility worked their officious magic.
But I still dream of escape some days; of packing only what I can carry and hitting the road, living wherever fate takes me. Sometimes in these dreams, I’m a writer. Sometimes, I’m waiting tables and hustling tips in some dive on the beach. Maybe I crave a sense of self and freedom and simplicity I often find myself without these days.
He squeezes my knee and smiles at me. He asks me why I suddenly look so sad. How do I tell him I don’t know who I am or what it is I need to feel that same self-satisfaction he wears every day like a tattoo? How can I explain that which I don’t even understand myself? How do I explain he makes me so very happy but I need something just for myself?
"I was just thinking about escapes," I tell him and smile, eager to escape my own thoughts.
Ghosts of the past, they linger everywhere.
In the backyard, where the splash of a summer swim echoes against the cedar fence.
In the kitchen, where a thousand birthday cakes were baked and eaten.
In the den, where one more story or song was never ever enough.
Ghosts of the past, they taunt me.
Did I tell them enough times that the sun - my sun - rose and fell on their faces?
Did I leave too many pieces of myself in my yesterdays to be able to create new tomorrows?
Did I spend enough time living instead of trying to figure out the meaning of life?
Ghosts of the past, I can no longer live among you.
I must live for today and with those who love me today - this hour, this minute.
I must remember you fondly but not cling so tightly to your warm security.
I must join the living, for this is where I belong.
“I admire the writing of Sylvia Plath, Ernest Hemingway, Virginia Woolf…” I name off a half a dozen people in response to the question. Belatedly, I realize they are all dead, tragic figures that hang themselves like Halloween decorations in the cobwebs of my mind.
“I see,” he says, and purses his lips like I’d said something unsavory. I know its too late the moment the words had slip out and his eyebrows arch skyward. Judging me. I know the look. Its why I refuse most discussions deeper than baseball or the weather, neither of which I give two shits about.
I first thought of you when I saw the tumbled green stone in a jeweler’s case.
You were shiny and beautiful and I told him I wanted you that day.
He didn’t buy me the green stone or any stone, and I’ve since forgotten the details of him.
But you remained my favorite color.
You didn’t cross my mind again until the day I said hello to the blue-eyed stranger.
He was funny and made me laugh, even his tears were those of a clown.
He laughed the day the two lines appeared and I cried. Because I knew.
You would remain my favorite color.
I held you in my heart for a great many months and then finally in my arms.
Your eyes were not green, but the truest of blues, until the light caught just right and then I could drown in those pools.
I sang you songs and kissed your nose. You giggled and curled my hair around your fingers.
And you still remained my favorite color.
The long years have passed as if days were seconds and weeks were minutes.
The boys now dream of those eyes and tell you that you’re their favorite color.
I sit back, watching you grow and bloom and reach for the sun. My garden is now empty.
But you’ll always remain my favorite color.
For Jade on her birthday - Love, Mom.
The familiar pain strikes hot and fast behind my right eye. I can feel my heart beat a little faster and I close my eyes, pressing fingertips against bruised orbs trying to still the bass drums beating there behind them.
And this is only the beginning.
Thump-thump. Images dance across my consciousness. Cold blue rushing around me.
Thump-thump. The rain hitting bare arms and sinking its teeth deep into the marrow.
Thump-thump. The lake rising up on whitecaps beyond the line of trees and the mossy smell of wet earth and decaying foliage.
Thump-thump. A tiny pink hand reaching from the folds of a crocheted blanket and the tightening of my chest as the hollow cry echoes.
Thump-thump. A smiling face I’ve seen a thousand times, this time lined with age and something darker that I refuse to see.
Thump-thump. Candlelight splashing across the walls, illuminating black framed photographs of places and people burned into memory.
Thump-thump. A hot summer night quickly replaced with a landscape of snow on a cold winter day. Me there, standing and staring down into the open earth.
Thump-thump-thump. Sleep won’t come and I won’t give chase. The sadness lingers here like an unwanted guest, peering into the deepest chambers and thrashing about in there recklessly and without regard for the damage caused.
Thump-thump-thump. My thoughts are like a disease, paining me and painting fire across my skull. The beat of a heart, an ache, something unseen and unwelcome continues to throb behind my eyes. I look at the amber bottle and want so much to escape into it, away into the warm depths of reprieve. But I can’t. The pain will only dull but a moment and then worsen with a torturous vengeance.
Thump-thump. I won’t beg, I won’t concede. I’ll hold my ground.
And this is only the beginning.
The computer flashes with words and phrases,
As fingertips dance over the keys before me.
Words hang empty in the open white space,
Each one forgotten as soon as it appears.
I am not here. I am not gone.
I look straight ahead, but I am gazing inwardly.
I’m heartbroken and hardened today,
I can feel something has shifted inside me.
The softness and laughter have been put away,
Like artificial decorations for another season.
I feel foolish and sad, unsure of this new path,
And wonder for the thousandth time who I really am.
The words keep flowing from my tired fingers,
Gulls upon a great white sea of meaningless letters.
Across the sea, the wall goes up, brick by brick,
Upon the still-standing ruins that once protected my heart.
Remembered conversations, a dagger’s slow turn.
I am not there. I am not gone.
I’m sitting in the hot tub and the jets are bubbling a strange sensation up the base of my spine. My eyes are closed and my head is spinning like a pinwheel in a hurricane. On the opposite side of my closed lids, I can hear a baby giggling and it echoes against the glass walls of the natatorium, sounding supernatural. I can hear children squealing and water splashing, and smell the salt drying on the pavement and the freshly laundered towels offset by the damp and mildew.
The noise begins to fade. Maybe the man with the baby got out of the hot tub, maybe my mind is finally giving in to the spirits muddying my thoughts like a deadly mushroom cloud. I smile. No one is looking, but just in case they do I smile for a few minutes saying ‘No worries - I’m okay’ before letting the sides of my mouth droop again and my tongue loll to the side.
I desperately want a cigarette. Even if my muscles could cooperate and take me up and out of the hot tub and outside into the cold night air, I have no more to smoke. I smoked the last two an hour ago, sitting outside on a padded deck chair, staring up 12 stories at the teenage girls waving out their window.
"You, lady, in the bathing suit… hiiiiii!" they yell. I pump my arm up and down, waving back frantically and grinning like the village idiot. "Why are you waving?" he asks. “Where are their parents anyway? Are you drunk?!”
I open my eyes a tiny slit but there’s no one there. He’s a figment of my memories, of my imagination. If he were here, he’d have that annoyed look on his face and I’d be staring back balefully, wondering why he doesn’t have on his invisible alcohol blanket like I do, and take a drag off my non-existent cigarette.
"I’m not drunk. I’m in love.” I tell the imaginary him. He shakes his blonde head and tells me he can’t believe my nerve and hopes this nonsense is only because I’ve been drinking. I point a crooked finger at him tell him, “I want to marry my new love.” He tells me he me I’m a fool. I tell him, “I want to run away and live happily ever after.” He tells me it will never last. I tell him, “I want to live forever with my new husband on a tropical island and tattoo his name on my butt.” He shakes his head and says no more. When I open my eyes again, I see I’m alone with just my thoughts - my crazy, diseased thoughts. The bubbles are gone, like the last cigarette, ground out into a flower pot filled with black sand, and the man who exists for me only in my memory now.
The ceramic tiled room is growing hot. Someone must have turned the heater up despite the summer heat, and they must have started the hot tub again because the bubbles are back and I can smell the salt getting stronger as it bubbles up closer to my nose. Maybe I should sit up.
I try to move and nothing happens. I try to open my eyes but they don’t seem to be cooperating either. I am beginning to think that maybe he was right and I did drink a wee bit too much. How many did I have anyway? Five? Maybe six? Did I have another one after that? My stomach grumbles as if on cue, remind me I haven’t eaten since breakfast and it has to be near midnight now.
The jets are strong and they pummel me as my feet leave the smooth floor. It dawns on me that perhaps I have been sitting here entirely too long just letting my mind wander - and now it hurts. The bubbles are inside my eyes now - pretty, iridescent, sparkling. They distract me from the painful contracting of my lungs and the flow of water where air once resided.
"Poor baby," he tells me as my heart contracts painfully just once more. "Lost and found in a hotel hot tub."