Just being friendly
The players in this story will be given fictional names, as this is a true account of my twenties. I'm not protecting the innocent, because as you'll see, they didn't deserve it.
James was 10 years my senior and a man's man, because had he been a woman's man, he might have known better. Because how could a man so much older than I -make such a dangerous mistake, if he had an inkling of a woman's fears?
I still wonder at it.
We moved far up North. He was beckoned by a "head hunter" who I'll call Mark. Mark decided to befriend us. Being new to the area, he reasoned, he could show us around so that it would be more hospitable to us. He was a friendly guy.
It didn't strike me as strange that a recruiter would strike up a friendship beyond professionalism. I was young and inexperienced in the professional world though. In retrospect, it was pretty weird.
It seemed like James and Mark spent a lot of time together, drinking and hanging out. I was a homebody, always kind of had been.
It was with a lot of gusto that Mark would try his damnedest to get me to join their frat boy style frolics. I was uninterested.
It was with tremendous prodding one snowy, winter night that finally I agreed to go. They had already been drinking at Mark's - for a while- by the sounds of it.
I was placed on speaker phone.
"I don't have chains on my tires. I don't feel comfortable driving in this."
"Mark is sober, he'll pick you up."
I sighed, out of excuses and got dressed.
During the night, Mark told a story, intended to be humorous. I didn't laugh.
He shared he had been on a date with a girl who had passed out in the cab they shared. She wasn't able to consent.
This was meant to be seen as "cheeky", I guess.
I was quietly horrified.
The night progressed, at my annoyance and growing trepidation- with both men drinking and I, constantly declining. But it was only James who really seemed out of it after a while.
"Drink! Drink! Drink!" They pressured.
I watched Mark like a hawk as he poured my one, single shot of vodka. I coughed as I swallowed and declined more.
I conversed with Mark for a short time, trying to be normal until we could leave. It wasn't long before I noticed that James had left. I found him on the front porch. Head in hands.
"James? Are you okay?" My heart pounded with concern. He looked confused. Mark and I managed to, between us, pull his large frame to the couch to lie down comfortably. Mark assured me that James was just very, very drunk.
I can't remember what we talked about. I just remember requesting every 10 minutes that we be taken home. Mark declined. I was overreacting. James was fine. "We" were having fun.
Mark got up abruptly and came back with something in his palm.
"Oh hey! I want you to try this!"
"What is it?" My heart jumped -in a bad way.
"Trust me, it's good stuff. It'll be fun."
I saw it now, pressed between his thumb and forefinger. A little. Black. Pill. It looked dangerous and he wouldn't tell me what it was. I froze.
I remember the way his face changed from a smile, to intense frustration as he tried to shove the pill into my mouth. I clenched my teeth. He tried again and I doubled down and met his eyes with my own. He drew away. I'll never forget his face.
He didn't argue when I demanded he helped me get James to the car to take us home.
The next day, James admitted to taking one of those black pills. I shook my head.
I never spent time with Mark again, nor was I asked to. Had I been a little older, I would have demanded we report him to the police and would have stood my ground.
James remained friends with him a short time after and I'm certain he never confronted him. For such a big man, he was a coward. But this is one of only many reasons I lost feelings of affection for him.
I'm no longer bitter, because I kept myself safe that night, and that was what was most important. I don't remember Mark's last name. My only regret is not holding him accountable. I wonder how many young, sweet girls trusted this man? It hurts my heart to think about it.
I just turned 40 a few months ago. I wonder if it would feel different if I was a man. I was hoping that what I'd heard from older folks would be true and I wouldn't notice any difference. But I feel weird. 30 felt like yesterday and 25 was just last week. I swear it.
Is 40 still "middle aged"? But what is my middle age? I won't know what it had been until I die I guess.
It's weird to be 40 and still feel like I'm not really an adult. Calling myself a woman feels odd.
I'm married and have a career, but being a "woman" and no longer a "girl"? When did that happen? I still remember being a little kid and playing in the mud. I can feel the gritty, wet earth clumped between my toes.
My body is changing and time keeps moving forward. I am trying to accept and not hate it, but it is scary.
My husband still thinks I'm beautiful, but wonder will that change? I know it's my own insecurity and nothing he's said or done to make me worry. I can only do so much to stop the advancement of time on my skin. I moisturize now, and drink lots of water and wear sunblock inside. I take vitamins.
I used to eat fast food and not gain weight. I used to stay up until 2pm drinking with friends and go to work the next day to stare at a computer screen with blurry, hungover eyes. ....I guess not all the changes are bad. I feel pretty damned rested most days.
I have a strange mix of emotions of fear and excitement about what's next. Excited that good things keep coming, but a fear that they will stop. I know all this is normal. It helps to write it out.
I don't plan on playing into the midlife crisis and buying big dumb things or acting like a young fool. I am just secure enough to remain a rock in my family.
But it still feels weird.
"What did you do?" Lana stepped into the door frame and leaned against the jamb.
"What do you mean?" Tom's tone was innocent enough, but his demeanor was too rigid.
"There was a...disturbance."
"What like the neighbor playing music too loud, or cats fighting, or-"
"You know what I mean."
Lana stepped into the room and looked around. When she walked in between Tom and the tv, she really knew he was hiding something because he didn't protest. Not that she didn't already know. He tensed up and stared ever more intently at the screen.
She stepped over to him and leaned down, staring at his profile. His eyes were wide and his lips were pursed.
"I will find out what you did....somehow. You know you're not supposed to use it. For anything."
"I'm sorry, I don't know what you mean."
"It's my work, Tom!" She yelled as she stomped through the house examining everything she could with the temporal radar.
This went on for the better part of the afternoon.
Finally, her voice rose from the kitchen indignant and vindicated.
"Oh you mother fucker! Are you serious? I'm pouring it out!"
Tom ran to the kitchen to stop her.
"I'm sorry, I'm sorry, I'm sorry" he blurted out as if they were a single word.
She held two beer bottles next the the sink. Bottle openers ready and glared right through him.
"I just wanted cold beer for the game and realized I had left it out after we got back from groceries. I'm sorry." His eyes were pleading. "Please, please, please."
"If I let you have them, you will never learn."
Tom pouted on the couch during the 3rd quarter debating getting more beer or missing part of the game. It seemed hardly fair he should have to choose.
I hate writing titles
I haven't been on here in a while.
Just going to write some free flow thought shit, I guess.
I told my friend Kyle about this site. I met Kyle at work. We hit it off pretty fast. Found out we like a lot of the same things, and have the same sense of humor.
Found out that Kyle liked to write. So I told him about Prose.
I hadn't been on here since I told him. Thought I would come on today to see if he had ever joined. He didn't, I guess.
Kyle died. They sent us all home.
I had wanted to stay at work. I had a lot to do and it's nice to take my mind off of things. I wanted to focus on something else that was productive and not mindless.
The Teams calls started early. The first one, I initiated to be fair. My boss was asking me how I was and my answer was too complicated to type. Maybe it still is.
Lot of well-meaning people wanting to talk to me and I don't know, offer comfort with varying degrees of success.
I have a tip for you guys when it comes to comforting a grieving person: don't offer your belief system to a grown adult. I'm 40 and I've got it well figured out for myself and don't need to hear about your Lord and Savior. I guarantee I've heard some iteration of your beliefs before and I don't give a shit.
On top of feeling like shit for not contacting my friend when we both had time off this last week and I could have seen him, I don't want to have to politely listen while you wane philosophical. He is dead and gone and doesn't know shit anymore and isn't haunting anything.
And that fucking sucks because he knew a lot when he was alive.
Kyle was smart. And funny. He was cynical but in a hilarious way. He was fun to talk with and listen to. He had really great stories. He was dreadfully honest and always himself and he did not care what anyone thought, but cared how they felt.
And he is dead and I don't know how many days he's been dead and I don't know why he is dead and I am afraid like so many people I have lost before I will have nothing left of them but memories and I wanted to read his stories. Why didn't he come on here and write?
Whatever I'm done.
And yes I'm keeping "wane" on purpose because to wax means to grow and repeating worthless platitudes only grows my contempt.
Now that I think of it, I do need to change my profile pic. But here goes anyways.
The one I have currently is a micrograph of naegleria fowleri. At the time that I chose it, I was going through a phase where I was particularly afraid of it. Although it is extremely rare, it is also has an extremely high mortality rate and there is next to nothing that doctor's can do to help you once it's inside your brain.
Although it's found primarily in fresh water and thrives in the heat, it has been rarely found in supposedly "clean" water sources, such as water parks, wells, pipes, hot water systems, etc.
Where I live now, it has not been found. So it is much less of a concern. But with global warming, who knows?
I don't think about it much anymore though. It used to seem like it was on the news all the time a few years ago. People got it and died just from swimming; in freaking water parks of all places. And people were worried about the pee.
If you like swimming and you live in a hotter state, wear nose plugs.
My heart's been broken by more than a few people and in a myriad of ways. Once even with who I thought was my best friend. I've survived it, so it must not have been that bad. I had started to let that pain harden my heart, but then I met my husband and he softened it. I'm very happily married now to the love of my life and I wouldn't change anything.
You'll find no cynism here any longer. It was worth it to be vulnerable; it will always be worth it. Even when one of us loses the other. Besides, without love and pain, what is the point of life? You're just existing without those things.
I know it hurts. I know it does. Thank you for listening. Please listen a little longer.
I know you're looking for a way out; you're looking for relief. You won't get it this way because relief is a feeling and you can't feel anything when you are dead.
But, I have some really good news for you. Most people who want to commit suicide, don't. Your chances of surviving is high.
I know what you really want isn't to die, but to be free of pain. You feel out of control and this is your way to get it. Other people can help you get that control and help you feel better and you don't have to die. A lot of us have been where you are and have survived and we can teach you how to survive to, and even thrive. You have the ability within you to overcome it.
When someone wants to kill themselves, it's because their coping abilities are outmatched by the pain they are feeling. It has nothing to do with being strong, okay? Almost everyone has felt like killing themselves at one point. And again, most of them survive.
We are going to help you get more coping abilities so that your pain, in time, will be outmatched by your ability to cope with pain and get through it.
Just promise me that you will think it over and you won't kill yourself tonight. I will stay with you, but promise me you will be alive tomorrow morning.
P.S. this is hard to do one-sided because most of it is actually just listening to the person.
A good writer
I think it depends on what you're looking for in entertainment. Do you really want a story? Do you want an opinion? Do you care abour grammer and spelling and punctuation?
As far as the latter goes, I am on the side of proper spelling and grammar. But I also understand that language evolves. The concept of proper spelling and grammar is a newish concept actually and I think that maybe if you consider it with that historical context, it helps take that bit of medicine that maybe a lot of people don't care about it so much anymore.
I prefer it. It matters to me and people like me. It matters when you write a book or resume or editing an article, still. I appreciate that. I am a word nerd. I correct people and I don't care if they think I'm pretentious. It's not that I think they're dumb, but it does bother me, I think because they are uneducated when it comes to writing. And if writing is a medium you are using, please do so correctly, or as correctly as you are apt.
On the one hand, some people say that's classist. On the other hand, you don't very well let someone say that 2 + 2 = 7 and not correct them, do you? You don't get to math "your own way" and not have people tell you you're bad at math. Why is it different with language?
But, on the other hand, modern English doesn't look anything like old English or even middle English. Our ancestors spelled phonetically, if they could even spell at all. Thank you, Gutenburg.
But yes, I will say emphatically and unapologetically, poor grammar and spelling is distracting. And if you do not take the time to get it right, I will not take the time to read what you want to tell me. So tell me verbally, because you're a poor writer at the outset and it's not fair to me, the reader that you ask me to decipher what you are trying to say. Communicate your way, but have some respect for your audience.
As far as story creation; well, I love a good world setting and something character driven. Usually, I need to care about at least one character in the story. For me, for a story to go from good to great means a character arc. a rich, interesting setting and a plot that might play with expectations, or have a satisfying ending. I like some humor mixed in to break up sad or heavy stories. I like a character I can identify with. I like not always knowing that there will be a happy ending. I like creative takes.
But not all of those elements are important to everyone. And that's okay. Some elements are more important to others, depending on what you need from the story.
So yes, it is highly subjective and it's easy to see why.
I couldn't read the Twilight books, or the Davinci Code. It doesn't mean they were bad; they were just not for me. I love anything by Jack Vance, but his characters are often challenging; but his rich, imaginative settings pull me in. Peter S. Beagle's characters are easy to identify with and his plots are very creative. Piers Anthony's wordplay is positively delightful and the way he has built the world of Xanth is unique but masterful. Each book builds from one to the next, but you can read them out of order and independently, and that is not easy to pull off. Especially with such a rich, complex world like Xanth. But not everyone agrees with me on these.
Like a painting, it's all in the eye of the beholder. And that's okay.