Once upon a time
You were right here by my side
We chain smoked our cigarettes
On this very bench
Rocking back and forth
To the rhythm of our passion
So many days I waited for you here
To come down and join me
To come down and acknowledge me
Some days you joined
Put your hand tightly in mine
Other days you were too far away
Avoiding the nearness of me
But this was the place
Where our bodies first collided
Up the stairs to the left
Where we once slept each night
Side by side interlaced
Those nights I felt the safest
When we laughed under the sheets
When we were as close as can be
When things were so right
I’ve sat here with you so many times
In silence and in small talk
In arguments and in heavy laughter
We walked up and down these streets
And always returned to this very place
You’d work on your motorcycle in the driveway
While I made my hands sore scribbling in journals
Nonsense about how much I loved you
About how even when I had you, I somehow always needed more of you.
It’s nice to be in this place
That once was filled with you and me
Even though you’re further away then I could ever reach you
Even though you’ve been gone for some time
I still sit here sometimes and I smile
Because I think of what used to be
Because I think of the times with you and me
Sitting in this very spot
Words Bleed Through Napkins
Fresh out of college, jobless, and five months into living with my parents again, I questioned if my photography degree would get me off their couch. A newspaper ad, of all things, is what led me to the next open door. It advertised a product photographer position at a men’s clothing company twenty minutes up the road in a small town. It seemed out of my league, but I applied anyway. Art school touched briefly on commercial photography and focused more on the starving artist’s life path. I found myself in the middle, on the more confusing ground between the two.
With naive and unsteady confidence, I gave the interview my all. And I got it.
I became the new in-house photographer for a men’s clothing company.
I had an oversized desk in an empty studio that my employer entrusted me to fill. Tasked with making a list of everything I’d need to get the studio up and running, they assured me that I would be in touch with the right people to help me do so. The company purchased a twenty-five thousand dollar camera and told me to use it well. My twenty-something brain could not even comprehend that amount of money. Next, they introduced me to the young woman, the studio intern, a photography student at a nearby college. She would fulfill the Digi-tech duties and help in whatever way she could. What the hell would I teach her?! We were peers. I didn’t know it then, but she would become a life-long friend and a gift to my life in many ways.
It seemed I had “arrived” at adulthood, yet I didn’t feel so adult.
Behind the company’s namesake stood an endearing CEO. I liked to say he took flying lessons - literally and figuratively. He showed up for work with a goofy grin and an equally goofy golden retriever in tow. At the Holiday party, he danced with a chair, rapping homemade rhymes about the company’s performance and people. A page straight from Michael Scott’s playbook.
When the CEO went through a divorce, he tearfully announced the news at a companywide quarterly meeting and gave an awkward yet sweet speech about family. He eventually became well enough to date again and asked for my help setting up his dating profile on JDate, a dating site for Jewish singles. He asked me to keep that last part between us. Sometimes, if he saw me in the hallway, he would run out of a meeting to tell me his progress on the site. I adored him and the humanness that he let spill so freely. He owned a successful company, yet he made me feel like an equal.
My three years with that company made me realize one of the biggest secrets of adulthood - that no one has it figured out, and life is complicated, especially as a grown-up. Big salaries and fancy titles don’t obliterate the clicks and pettiness; they don’t inspire the slackers or alleviate the ass kissers, tame the cheaters, or disarm the bullies. I thought it would be different, but I started to see that adulthood could be even messier than high school.
I digress; let’s return to the words bleeding through the napkin part.
Less than a month into this grown-up job, I found myself in New York City, studying with a studio of freelancers that had been shooting this company’s products for years. I felt alive, like a big girl navigating the city alone. I became an observant student for three days, soaking up as much as possible from these big leaguers. I enjoyed the fancy catered lunches, the lessons on styling, and the veteran photographer’s lighting tips.
Everything I witnessed seemed enchanted - painted in gritty elegance.
Fall of 2007, I didn’t have a Facebook account yet, Instagram didn’t exist, and the iPhone debuted months before. I had a flip phone that functioned in the simplest of ways; it required three minutes of my time to text a friend, and it never tried to sell me anything. Life seemed a little simpler; back when I still had stashes of MapQuest directions stuffed into the nooks and crannies of my car, when I didn’t capture a photo of every shiny thing that thrilled me. Back when I took in my surroundings. Back when I interacted with strangers often.
After my first day at the NYC studio, I drove to the neighborhood where I stayed with a friend. Needing to kill some time before he got off work, I walked around the block and stopped at a small restaurant, claiming a barstool near the windows. The bustling sidewalk behind me contrasted the sleepy vibe of the dank and narrow establishment. I noticed my closest bar neighbor, a man of few spoken words. So few, he talked to the bartender via napkin. He grabbed one of the many bar napkins within reach and wrote messages to her. Intrigued and thrilled by this peculiar communication vehicle, I sat and waited, periodically gazed at my not-smart phone, and did my best not to stare at him.
All the while hoping one of those napkins made its way to me.
Hunched over the bar, he glanced about. After a pause, he’d turn back to the napkin and continue to compose a message thoughtfully. When complete, he’d slide the napkin gram down or up the bar, carefully delivering his messages while bypassing puddles from clumsy drinkers.
A couple of sips into my second beer, the first napkin arrived.
In my mind, I called him Napkin Man. He seemed to have walked right off a page in a book. Was he a method actor preparing for a role? His slightly bizarre movements and way of communicating fascinated me. I could almost see the pixy dust swirling around him.
We conversed via napkin for a while; each exchange required more napkins than the last. Napkin Man asked poetic and slightly defensive questions that beckoned me to look past the status quo and see the absurdity in it all. I didn’t always know how to answer him. His messages were saturated and heady; they cut through the fluff with shade. Even so, I couldn’t help but find joy in our conversation.
I could feel the evening creeping in and my time to move on. I closed out my tab and put a halt to our napkin convo. I asked Napkin Man one last question, “can I bum a cigarette?” He hopped off his barstool and gestured for me to follow. I stuffed all the napkins in my purse and made my way to the door.
On the stoop, my hunch affirmed, he talked. His soft mumbles kept my ears bent to hear the fragmented wisdom he spewed. He paced from the curb to the stoop while we smoked our cigarettes together. I watched him dance amongst his fellow New Yorkers as they passed. I don’t remember much of what we shared when our conversation turned from napkin to audio. I remember the magic in his peculiarity and the rawness of his spirit.
A few drags left on my cigarette, and my phone rang. I said goodbye to Napkin Man and left him weaving his hypnotic dance amidst the busy walkers. He left me with a purse full of napkins and an excellent story that would sit with me for the rest of my days.
I later got rid of most of the napkins except for one. I glued it to a notebook and carefully preserved it. Nowadays, the sentiment on that particular napkin has more weight - much more than it had back then. I’m often left wondering what I did before my smartphone helped me do everything I could imagine.
And every day, I dance between letting go and reigning myself in on the busy sidewalk of adulthood.
© Katie Pendergast 2021
I was at a rather impressionable age; that awkward, gawky stage between child and woman. A friendless creature despised and disparaged by those who owed me nothing as well as she who gave me life and little else. Every day I desperately prayed for that promised metamorphosis from ugly duckling, scorned and shunned, to beautiful swan, respected and adored. From cowering to towering. From fearful to feared.
Yes, most definitely that: Feared.
I was in the bathroom, trying to wash away mud, blood, snot and tears along with the invisible but ever present feelings of loneliness, anger, self-loathing...and a healthy dose of hatred aimed at those who made my life a veritable nightmare. After I wiped my face with industrial paper towel, I looked in the mirror and there she was.
“Don’t let them get to you,” she said.
I snorted. Easy for her to say. She didn’t have to deal with the abhorrent wildlings that were my classmates. Or my mother.
“Seriously,” she replied to my wordless response, “You are a diamond. They are not even coal. They are dust beneath your feet.”
“Who are you?”
“Alyssa. And you are Melissa.”
Eveyone knew the social reject. I sighed. “I haven’t seen you around, Alyssa. Are you a transfer?”
She smiled. “No. I’ve seen you. I’ve been watching you.”
“Okaaaay....that’s not weird. Why?”
“Between school and home, your life, in a word, sucks. After that fiasco in the school yard today, I thought you could use a friend.”
Truer words were never spoken.
We became inseparable. I rarely saw her during the day except in the rest room or when she made faces at me from the door of my classroom. But after school, she was always waiting for me ouside the school to walk home with me. To talk. To listen.
I never invited her inside my house. I wasn’t allowed to have friends over. It had never mattered because I had never had any. It still didn’t. I preferred that not even my best friend see my mother come after me. Or strung out on the couch. Or, worse, hear the screams from her room - lust- or pain-filled, depending on who was with her and how much they paid. Or didn’t.
But Alyssa didn’t let even me stop her. Many times, she would climb through my bedroom window. Usually, just when I needed her most.
One night, after a particularly bad altercation -- verbally and physically -- with my mother, she was in my room when I ran in crying. She held me as I wept and whispered, “Let go, my sweet girl. I’m not going anywhere ”
The next morning, my mother was found with a needle still in her arm.
The death certificate would say accidental overdose.
I called 911. Police, medics and a social worker arrived very soon thereafter.
“What’s your name, little lady?”
“Alyssa,” I replied.
I wish i could say, that all my memories were good
He was there when i was young, just like a father should
We'd go fishing, play cards and games
He thought it was funny when my sister and I called each other names
I was a real daddy's girl, went everywhere he went
For those memories, I wouldn't trade a cent
But as I got older, he started to change
He didn't care anymore, we became estranged
Today we don't speak, I have nothing to say
But what I wouldn't give, for all of those yesterdays!
Life....but I Don’t Feel Like It
I need to get up, but I don't feel like it
maybe I should get dressed, but I don't feel like it.
Watch the news, but I certainly don't feel like it- not this year anyway...maybe some other time...
I need to mentally prepare myself for work, but I don't feel like it.
I am being paid to answer phone calls, but I don't feel like it.
I am supposed to be happy and helpful, but I don't feel like that either.
Now it is time for lunch, I should eat, but I don't feel like it.
Time to clock back in...but I don't feel like it.
Maybe I should take some prosac, but I really don't feel like it...even though it might make me feel like it.
The end of the day has come..time to start supper- but, yep- you guessed it- I don't feel like it.
Damn- I need milk- have to go to the store...sh** I really don't feel like it.
I have to stand in line and I really don't feel like it.
After supper it's time to shower and get ready for bed... I don't feel like doing that either.
I need to get in the bed and sleep- but heck, I don't feel like it.
I pull my laptap out even though I don't feel like pulling it out.
I open the laptop - I go to theprose.com
Here is a challenge entitled I don't feel like it.
Maybe I should take the challenge?
Do I feel like it..... YES!!!! So here it is.... This is me feeling like it.
Inside My Head
And then he finishes pumping and he climbs off my tired body and I welcome the release of his weight from on top of me. He is heavy, strong and very heavy. He scrambles for something on the headboard and after a few seconds lights a cigarette. The first thing that comes to my mind is "My dear God, what did i get myself into???” Many other questions run through my mind as he continues smoking his cigarette in silence. Then he whispers something which i don't catch. I ask him to come again and again he whispers an inaudible something. I don't answer. The silence stretches on a little longer and he puts out the cigarettes turns to his side and looks into my eyes. I feel his stare pierce deep into my soul in darkness and I wonder how his face is looking right now, probably smiling I guess, he loves to smile at me and only me. I stare back at him in the same darkness, he doesn’t know it but I really want to talk about it but as a good wife, I will wait for him to bring it up…. Slowly he puts his hand on my hip, I feel his touch, a slow, yet tender caress, and then as if massaging my hip, he moves to my waist and firmly pulls me closer to him. I hate his cigarette polluted breath but I love his complex mind, so I tolerate the stench of his breath.
“Are you happy???” He says.
Am I happy??? I repeat the question to myself. Am I happy, am I happy… The question begins to duplicate itself out of control. Am I happy???
“Babe are you sleeping???” He asks as he kisses my closed lips. I don’t kiss him back not because I don’t want too but because the question is out of control in my mind. How can someone ask me such a serious and important question in a very short phrase?
“Babe” he says it louder this time and my mind aborts the question
“Sthandwa” I answer
“Why are you not talking to me” He asks again
“Because you are asking me something very important- primitive idiot”. I don’t answer
“Why are you on mute??” He persists
“I’m catching my breathe, sorry Hun” I massage his ego, throwing him off my sneaky trail and like a dog to a bone, he goes for it
“Catching your breathe huh???” He chuckles
“That was intense”, I tell him the truth, without any lies
“So you mean you are happy???” He says it with a smile; I feel it in his voice
I get off the bed silently and I know his eyes are trying to follow me in the total darkness. Is happiness defined by multiple sexual orgasms, I ask myself. Again the question regenerates itself out of control inside my psyche.
“Is something wrong” He asks
His voice finds me near the light bulb switch and instead of answering, I flick the switch on and I’m met by anger all around his ugly yet sweet face, he tries to smile and then I see that it’s not anger, its actually true and genuine concern, I discover. I try to smile at him and I see his smile disappear, he sits up and clears his voice
What’s wrong mama???” genuinely again.
I open the door and close it behind me and walk to the loo. All along the way to the toilet, I am asking myself the same question. What does good sex have to do with happiness? Are sex and happiness interlinked? After a few hundred times meditating on this particular concept of life I am brought back to reality by the sound of the toilet flashing. I panic as I discover that I have been literally on auto-pilot the whole time that I am not even sure whether I took a piss or shit. I really need help. My mind is now unable to multitask or I am unhappy. Depression or psychological breakdown, I self-diagnose myself and the ripple effect begins again as I walk back to the bedroom.
Depression or psychological breakdown.
Depression or psychological breakdown.
Depression or psychological breakdown.
“Can you put the light back on please, we really have to talk” He brings me back to reality.
I put on the light and find him with a smoke in hand and concern on his face. Should I tell him about my mind? I ask myself and before it happens again, I nod and he moves higher, sitting up straighter and I recognize what he is doing and I go and sit on the bed near him. He smiles and I smile, for the first time in our marriage we sync in nonverbal communication. He moved, I went and sat. Perfect marriage.
“Did you even hear what I said?” He resuscitates me again
Shit. As I was busy with my nonverbal analysis. He had said something and I didn’t catch it. This head of mine needs a new mind I say to myself seeing his lips move but I don’t hear anything. My head needs a new mind, my head need a new mind, my head needs a new mind. The expression turns into a nursery rhyme. I am out of control I know but there is nothing I can do except that my head wants a new mind. He shacks me back to life, I feel mucus and salt in my saliva, I can’t breathe properly, palpitations.
“I thought you were having a seizure” He is panicking too.
He gets off the bed and stands me up and crushes me into his chest. The hug is so tight, he means it. I hear his fast paced heartbeat in my ears as he squeezes my head tighter into his chest. I listen to the rhythm it makes. I begin to feel my own beat syncing with his, I pull away and go to the mirror, I look at myself, tears and mucus, I am a mess. I take my towel from the wire cutting across the room to hang the mosquito net from and go back to clean myself, after a minute, I try a smile and I am glad I look better and go back to him and open his arms and literally force myself back into that tight uncomfortable embrace only to be met head-on by a faster heart rhythm. I listen to its distorted dual-like bum-bum sound and my heart immediately joins into the rushed pace. I feel the hair at the back of my hair start to rise; tiny minute electric shocks erupt from the rising hair at the back of my neck and quickly spread out throughout my scalp and my heart races faster than his. I again force him to hold me tighter, he responds and take a deeper breathe and my heart accelerates further. Then the electronic shocks start from just under my ankles and rise slowly and stingingly erotic to the back of my knees then to the base of my thighs, I kiss him passionately and I lose control again. I push him to the bed and climb on top of him the shock goes straight to my nipples and spread to my areola then rush down the back of my spine, distributing to my stomach and meeting up at my center and I feel I am ready and I take him. I look into his eyes and see some confusion mingled with surprise and disbelief and I feel deep down inside of me pitying him. I ride him to a certain place secluded from happiness and sadness and I feel him arrive, I join him but I don’t let him go. I bite and ride him until I feel him respond again and I erupt again, leaving him all the hard work for I know he has to get there himself from here onward, I am truthfully tired holding his hand all the time.
And then he finishes pumping and he climbs off my tired body and I welcome the release of his weight from on top of me. He is heavy, strong and very heavy. He scrambles for his cigarette and lights it. He takes a long heavy drag and exhales after a few seconds and he looks sideways into my eyes. The light is on this time. He sees my soul this time. Then speaks and I hear him this time. I am in control again.
“You need to talk to me, now” He demands taking another puff.
“I don’t know what to say” I truthfully answer
“We have been married three days, I know, but are you a sex addict?” He smokes again
“Truthfully, I think it’s far worse than that” I answer boldly
He gets off the bed takes one last pull putting on his boxers and looks at me
“I love my husband’s communication skills” I start to think and the thought begins to...
“Talk to me gaddamit” He shouts me to life
“I think I am crazy, like psychologically unstable, my mind can’t shift from thought to thought it just keeps focusing on the same thing over and over and over and over…. I just want a new mind”
He stands still looking at me, I can’t see his soul, and he is too far. Then my heart starts its own rhythm, slowly at first then a rush pace. The hair at the back of my neck stands and the sensations start…
“Maybe I am a sex addict too I was after all a virgin four days ago” I say with a wet groin and tears on my face.
TITLE INSIDE MY HEAD
GENRE CLEAN EROTICA
AGE RANGE 18+
WORD COUNT 1640
NAME OF AUTHOR XOLILE JOHNSON
JUSTIFICATION Clean erotica is engaging and not easy to
THE HOOK Care to step into an introverts mind?
Aimed at demystifying sex and sexual mysteries, Inside my mind is a story about self discovery. The story is about a young woman with a troubled mind, who tries her best to rediscover herself. Written in the first personna, the story takes the reader on a truthful and intimate jounery as she tries her best to change from being a virgin to a wife. he own intra-conflicts makes the transition more difficult than it should be.
TARGET AUDIENCE Adult Females (&Males)
I am a creative writing student at the College of Creative Arts - Africa, specializing in sceen and stage plays. Short story writing is an intense passion that drives my everday life. I am still at collegfe therefore my biography isnt extentensive but i am learning trhe art of storytelling and hope to grow quickly in the field.
EDUCATION COLLEGE STUDENT
STYLE PSYCHO-ANALITICAL FICTION
HOBBIES READING AND WRITING, CHESS,
HOMETOWN BULAWAYO, ZIMBABWE
The rock bottom is a quiet place. Sun rays can reach every planet in our solar system, but they dissolve hundreds of feet above your head, and so you sit in total darkness. You can feel that the sea bed under your body is cool and sandy. You tap the ground around you delicately, and you find two things - a little rock, and something smooth and oblong, like an old bone. There's no noise, either. Somewhere up above waves the size of skyscrapes blow up and crash like a city during war, or maybe today they're little and elegant. You don't know. You're at rock bottom. Then a glimpse of light catches your eye - it's a tiny pink jellyfish that glows in the dark. It's not really swimming though, it's mostly floating in place. It's a very different world from the one you know, but you're not ready to move on just yet.