DATE: “So what do you write about?”
MIND: Don’t do it.
ME: But he asked me about my writing which is essentially asking about ME, so…
MIND: He, just like your reader, does NOT need to know every single thing about you. You have this bad habit-- you tend to divulge way too much too soon. Retaining some mystery is a good thing, trust me.
ME: I’m an open book.
MIND: And not a very good one, honestly. Mediocre at best. Entirely, way too much, over-the-top hyperbole. Sloppy form. Typoes. Enough tired cliché to choke a horse. Anyone with literary chops that reads you winces. You try too hard.
ME: It's called being earnest.
MIND: This is you: ‘please clap’.
MIND: You stop.
ME: “I love to write about feelings. I mean, I really FEEL feelings deeply, so I write about them. Mostly deep things about deep feelings… Sometimes feelings just well up within me and I have to let them out in a poem. Ohh, and I love to write about nature, too. Nature is so beautiful and makes me feel free so yeah, I write about that also.”
MIND: Holy shit. You really are a real boner killer.
DATE: *fidgets intensely with phone*
MIND: Evasive maneuvers deployed *face palm*
DATE: “Shit. I’m so sorry, I gotta take this call…” *promptly slides out of booth*
MIND: Ladies and gentlemen, we’ve got a runner!
ME: Wait—no. You’re wrong, Mind.
MIND: You do realize there was no phone call, right?
Many minutes pass…
ME: He’s not coming back, is he?
ME: I’m going to remain alone for the rest of my days, aren’t I?
MIND: Now dear, don’t you worry. There’s sure to be other guys out there who like girls that write plodding, banal rubbish about their feelings.
Also, on a completely unrelated note: let’s swing by the shelter to check out those cats for adoption.
Describe Your Writing
My writing is careless at best. I rarely proofread or plan. Usually, I spit some shit out on the page and hope for the best. I wish I could say it's some artistic choice to show the frailty and imperfections of existence, but it's really that I lack discipline. I guess it's a bit like fucking. Give it all the hell you have in the moment of inspiration, but you know you could have done so many things better if the goal was perfection rather than getting lost in the moment. I guess that means a typo is like knocking on the wrong door. Just laugh at yourself and keep at it and embrace the joys of imperfection. As long as the closing sums up intention the reader is left satisfied. So my shits unrefined as hell, but I like to think there's a certain beauty and innocence flowing within my awkward wordings and forced lines or conclusions. When inspiration hits, just spit it out and move on. Wait for the next time a moment cracks you open enough you feel it's worthy of sharing. Repeat. So ya, a lot like fucking.
It could be real
"Imagine a guy at a party telling you a story from his childhood. He really wraps it in nostalgia, complete with sights and sounds you can identify with from your own background. You're feeling the warmth and the comfort and the almost thereness of what he's describing, even though you've never actually been to the place he's telling you about. It's like you could have been there, and maybe you were someplace so very much like it."
"Kinda the what Stranger Things did with the whole 80s vibe. Even 90s kids could identify, because a lot of the stuff was similar."
"Exactly. Now, picture all this warmth and comfort and then it just...vanishes."
"What the fuck?"
"Yep. Gone. Oh, the sunshine was perfect? Well, here's a thunderstorm, suckers."
"But, why would anybody like that?"
"Because in the thunderstorm, hiding between lightning strikes, is a darkness that contains toothy things that need someone to eat."
"I don't see how that's appealing."
"We all have teeth. Maybe we're someone's monster. I remind people that sometimes memories have teeth, too, and sometimes I show that what's hiding under the bed can be real."
Love Me, Tinder
“How did you know I write? It’s not something I‘ve shared.”
”It’s pretty obvious from your profile. Besides, anyone who speaks so deliberately, so articulately; who uses the vocabulary you use… that person must feel a need to write those words down for posterity, mustn’t they?” As she spoke a long, elegantly painted finger twisted itself around a hanging tendril of hair, whilst the faintest whisper of a smile haunted her otherwise stoid expression. “I simply adore a writer,” she cooed.
Stoid, that is, but for her eyes.
I sensed that we had reached a fulcrum in our conversation. That the beginnings of a salacious relationship teetered upon my reply. But was that what I really wanted from this woman I had just met? Sex? And all of the heavy lifting required afterwards?
She was obviously smart, and playfully beautiful, but mostly I was drawn into those famished eyes of hers which gazed hawkishly back into my own, and to that instinctive caution I felt; that at any moment she might slide over until she was close enough to take a bite from that tender muscle just above my collarbone, her lips and tongue massaging away the pain her teeth would inevitably cause to the fabric of my being.
Of course that is what I wanted, sex. It was why I was here, wasn’t it? But I was a middle-aged, long off the market man feeling his was through this strange, new, matriarchal world, so I selected my words carefully.
“I would hardly call myself a writer.” I spoke slowly, my thoughts tempered by both humility and caution. “What I do,“ I ventured, “is to post stories for other aspiring writers to read on a website in hopes of a few ‘likes’, a couple of reposts, and maybe, if I’m lucky, a generous comment or three? It is nothing glamorous.”
The pointed toe of a heeled pump found my boot under the table, resting itself against my foot, whether accident or signal who could say? But the toe stayed there, not pulling away. “So tell me, Huckleberry. What is it you write on this website that other aspiring writers ‘like’, and repost, and comment on?”
My posture literally sagged as my confidence waned. “Well, I’m partial to happy endings.”
The toe moved away from my boot. “So, you write… fairy tales?”
”Well, not exactly. But fiction.”
”Ewww! I abhor fiction.“ She picked up her expensive cocktail, downing it in a swallow, as I had only until recently hoped she might do to me. “Sorry, but I have to go let my dog out.”
”I understand.” It was disappointing, but not entirely unexpected.
”… and to think I was about to let your dog out.” Her nose curled up as she said it as from an unpleasant odor, and she made short, quick strides towards the door, leaving nothing but a shadowy wisp of shea butter on the air to remember her by.
Quicker than I could raise a finger for the waitress to bring the check a mousy brunette slipped herself into my date’s still-warm seat, an ice cold beer in either of her hands. She slid one of the across the table towards me. “I heard it all. Believe me, she wasn’t your type anyways. I, on the other hand, love a happy ending.”
Thankfully for this amateurish writer the night was still young, and another chapter that might be liked, reposted and commented upon waited to be written.
I’m so glad we found each other. You were looking for someone tortured, broken, and hopeless... yet articulate, correct? I can’t tell you how many times I’ve done this. We put ourselves out there, hope someone takes notice... and then let’s face it, it takes a lot of work to try to build a meaningful relationship. Such is the world of this online dating scene.
We've been here before
Tiny smattering of hope
Could this be the one
“Which genre?” Was the question, and I was too scared to choose. What if I were a click away from the perfect match for me, but we were separated by a stupid label? But as fate would have it, you did find me, and I’m nervous as hell now because of the next test: “Describe your writing.”
The first impression
Just be yourself and exude
I want you to feel comfortable. I want the struggle to happen on my side of the page, not yours. I’ll always put in the work so that the reading is as easy and consistent as I can make it. I want the message to sink in slowly, effortlessly. To do that, I need to understand every syllable of every word, the origins and common misinterpretations, and how their meanings change upon their arrangement and association. No mistakes. By the end of a chapter, I'll have twenty tabs open across the top of my screen, and I’m a budding novice in twenty more practices, fluent in twenty more fields.
Every word is a thousand pictures
Tantalize the mind
I feel the the words touching you—touching, caressing, teasing, and exploring you—you feel each finger, each stroke of a key, I will not take advantage of you, but those are my fingertips touching you, my hand tracing lightly the lines of your right palm, waiting for the next scroll. I see the color of your hands—Rosé, Chataeu d’Eclans. I study them like poetry, like every inch of skin, knowing precisely how they feel on your lips, how they respond to pressure, how they flow off the tongue. An entire chapter on a single hand, and a glass of wine spilling from the other.
Seeking perfect words
The lock searches for the keys
They fit perfectly
You say you love me, but it’s only this temporary part of me you interpret as beautiful, as vulnerable, as interesting or wise. That’s fine. It’s a good start, and if we have a second date, perhaps you’ll dig deeper and learn more. I know this internet dating is a fickle thing. You’ll come by, you’ll leave me for another, you’ll come back when I call, but only until someone else calls again. You’ll click from lover to lover just as passionately as we seek our words. I understand.
Such a simple thing
A mint left on my pillow
A tap on my heart
I’m just glad we got to spend this time together, and if perchance this is our first date, I hope you enjoyed it, and I hope you’ll return for another romp or adventure or... casual stroll. Whether you seek something meaningful or light-hearted, whether temporary or life-altering, I highly recommend TheProse. and if our first date wasn’t everything you wanted, simply click another lover, and put them to the test. It seems unfair to give you this much of our hearts in exchange for a silly click before moving on to the next date, but we'll do it all again and again, and who knows? Maybe...
Henry is typing...
It popped up in the online portal for my brilliantly boring anthropology class. Our professor loved what he taught, that much was clear, but he had a tendency to drone for the two-hour-long class in monotone bass, delving into the intricacies of juxtaposed stories of humans gone by. The fact that I stayed awake at all was impressive. I doodled on my scrap paper, maintaining the image of a devoted, note-taking student while drawing abstract sketches of eyeballs, intermixed with the odd existential question.
I aced every test.
Henry sat behind me in class, no doubt noting my utter lack of attention, marveling at my top score posted in the hallway after midterms. I had a study group...and he wanted in. He was a gentle young man with kind eyes and long, elegant fingers. I'd admired his artists' hands on many occasions out of the corner of my eye, sometimes trying to capture the rapturous lines of his thumb on my notepaper, always to no avail. You couldn't draw hands like his. Henry was obviously brilliant, in that quiet sort of way, but I'd avoided him like the plague when I'd formed my little study group. He was dangerous. I could tell the things he did with those hands.
He played acoustic guitar.
And ran fingers under lines of Shakespeare.
He painted portraits of girls with blonde curls and green eyes.
He tucked wisps of hair behind ears... with those hands.
Yes, Henry and his artist hands were dangerous.
They were dangerous because I was engaged.
And I wanted them all over me.
Henry is typing...
A private message.
How the fuck did you score like that on the midterm? Hawthorn is notorious for his tests. No one has ever gotten higher than an 85.
I shouldn't even start this conversation. I should continue to ignore him. There's something in the air between us that would be better left untouched. I'm engaged.
But I'm a pushover...
I can't just ignore him.
That would be rude.
... So are you gonna cut me in? How are you getting all of his reading in with your other classes? I'm taking 12 credits and I don't have time. Are you on half time or something?
You're gonna be disappointed. It's not all that brilliant. I don't do the reading... I'm full time. 19 credits.
What the actual hell? YOU must be brilliant.
I'm not. But fine, come to study group next Wednesday, 3pm in the student center. We meet by the fountain.
Shit. I have class then. Meet me for coffee before class on Monday?
Fuck me. He gave me a compliment, had a potty mouth, and liked coffee.
I really shouldn't. I'm engaged.
What does that have to do with anything? Can't a friend take another friend out for coffee in hopes they'll reveal the secrets of passing class? It's not like it's a date or anything. I just need help.
Fine. you had me at coffee.
10am? Meet me at the Witching Brew. It's on 4th.
I'll be there.
I wanted to take back the words the second they were typed. My fiance lay snoring on the bed next to me, his face relaxed in blissful ignorance. I knew then that I was a terrible person, and that I would be going to meet Henry anyway.
It was cloudy when Monday morning came. I stooped under the door of the Witches Brew five minutes late. I could feel Henry's eyes. This wasn't about studying.
I wound my way through the crowded coffee house, arriving finally at the little table in the back corner he'd chosen. He gestured for me to sit, a mischievous glint in his eye. "It's so good to see the front of you," he teased, extending his long hand to clasp mine in greeting. I took his hand and sat, waiting for him to let go, but he didn't.
We held hands over the tabletop, and though we were still strangers, it felt like the most natural thing in the world.
For a moment I got lost in the dangerous glint in his eyes, but then I stole my hand back and tucked it under the table, muttering, "I'm engaged," under my breath.
"But not married," he whispered back.
"I should go." I stood.
"Please don't." His eyes were pleading, "I'm sorry. I see I went about this wrong... there's just something about you. I... I can't stop thinking about you. I..fuck... I said too much--"
"I'm here to study," I said, fixing him with a stern gaze and sitting back down.
"I know that. Right. I know that." He smiled, "sorry again...so..." The air was rife with the sexual tension I refused to acknowledge (to his face anyway). "How do you do it?"
I was having a difficult time getting my mind off of what he'd said-- I can't stop thinking about you-- but I finally found it in myself to speak, "Do what?"
"Study, of course- for Hawthorne's class."
"Oh, that. Um. I don't, really." He just looked at me with a tiny crinkle between his perfect eyebrows before waving a hand, urging me to continue. I took a deep breath and launched in, forgetting for a moment that I was sat across from a man who was trying to steal me away from my betrothed (terribly romantic, by the way), "Okay, so by about the second week of term, I realized there was no way I could do the reading... so... you know Jennifer, right? Sits in the front all of the time. Black hair. Glasses?"
He nodded in understanding, "Well... she does allll of the reading. So... I asked her to study with me. I read one small section and then just bullshit while she tells me about everything else. I take a few notes and study those. It's like having the highlights without doing any of the work. Clark-- the tall guy--" Henry nearly spit coffee at that, and I chuckled, too. Clark was unreasonably tall, really. His head brushed the doorframe when he came into lecture. "-- anyway-- he also does the reading. So I just sit there and let the two of them bicker over the chapters and take notes on the most important points. Then, I interrupt and act really smart and talk about the paragraph I read.... see... simple."
"Genius," Henry replied with the one word to my rambling.
"You're welcome. So, do you have any other interests aside from conquering the entire university system?" He leaned back and steepled his fingers expectantly.
"Um.. well... I write."
A slow smile spread on his face, "I knew it! What do you write about? What genre?"
The moment writing was brought up I stopped worrying entirely about my fiance. This was my kind of conversation and one that I would never be able to share with the man I was about to marry.
"Do you write, too?" I asked.
He smiled, "Duh."
I smiled back, "Well, I write a little bit of everything. But. I usually just write stories about my life."
"Really? I bet they're marvelous." He took my hand again and we got lost in conversation for the next several hours. We missed class. I missed the lunch date I'd promised my fiance. We'd eaten several blackberry scones and drunk countless cups of coffee. I had never before or since experienced such instant chemistry with another individual. I was right. He did play guitar. And write. And read. And paint.
And when he reached up to brush fallen curls behind my ear, I let him. He leaned in.
I leaned in. "I can't stop thinking about you," he whispered again.
"Neither can I," I replied.
"You're engaged...?" he questioned.
"...but not married..." I smiled. And just then, my phone rang, shattering the spell that had clung to us for the last several hours in the Witches Brew. It was my fiance.
"Are you alive?" he asked, in familiar baritone.
"Yes," I replied, "Just got caught up studying, sorry." Henry snickered at that and I winked.
"Oh good-- I was worried about you. I'm glad you're okay. Take your time, babe, I have dinner on for when you get home." Every word chipped away at the delusion Henry and I had been crafting. "I love you," he said.
And I replied, "I love you, bye."
Henry's face shattered at that.
I set down the phone and looked at him with a terrible wistful longing... Oh, what could have been...
"I'm too late," Henry said, resigned, "I've showed up too late for my soul mate."
"I'm sorry," was all I could muster. What he'd just said was true, and we both knew it. We also knew I was too much of a coward to break things off with my fiance. I stood and turned to go.
"Wait," he said, and I hoped he would beg me to stay, I hoped he would fight for me, but we were still just strangers, caught in the snare of love at first sight, "Did I make the cut? Will you write about me, someday?" I walked back to the table and tucked his own curls behind his ear.
I walked away, forever haunted by what might've been-- by the kiss we didn't share.
Henry is typing...
He finally made the cut.
I have many interests, and I always try to blend several into a single storyline. I am interested in linguistics (I created my own language), mythology (I wrote a mythological horror novel), sci-fi (I wrote a sci-fi novel, which also included existentialism and futurism), theology (I wrote a sneaky religious novel about Christ disguised as a comedy), psychology (I wrote a psychological thriller novel), and women's health (I wrote a pregnancy book--published for real, really, not-self). Blending these disparate things always comes up with something unique, which is my biggest goal: to write something the likes of which no one's ever seen before. Oh, are you going to eat that? Check, please!
I knew you were a Libra!
Most people don’t ask me that. They just kinda say “that’s cool” and move on.
Alright, so…I like, like a lot of different stuff. I’m a Gemini, so I’ve got my hands in a little bit of everything but uh, yeah…
Poetry is my first love. But it’s honestly not my strength. I’m working on a few novels that have a lot to do with like, mental health and breaking cycles, generational patterns, stuff like that. They’re kind based on my experiences but also not really. Oh, and I really dig horror and sci-fi so I’ve got some stuff for that, too. I have this whole 5-10-15 plan as to when and where I’m gonna put stuff out.
I’m not all that patient but I am kinda methodical so I think it balances itself out. I know fifteen years is a long time but I’ve been at this for like a decade already, so it’s whatever, honestly.
Oh, and I have a lot of creative non-fiction and some essays but I have no freaking clue what to do with any of that…maybe start a blog or something?
What do you mean, “what’s my vibe?”
I guess like…kinda reflective and flowery but also a little dark with this “who hurt you” tone. I try not to be too depressing. I’m secretly a huge optimist, but don’t tell anyone- moody and mysterious is kinda my brand-
Seriously? Right here at the table?
I thought this was a date, not an open mic…okay, lemme get my phone.
Okay, this is a piece I wrote for this website called Prose…now, it hasn’t gotten a lot of traction but this one writer I really admire liked and reposted it and honestly that’s good enough for me…
Sure. I’d love one. Whiskey ginger, no ice with a lime.
Yes. I know. It’s an old man drink.
Ooh, hurry back. Just found the post.
The young couple finally met in person at a quaint Korean restaurant halfway between their homes. They shared some delicious bulgogi and kimbap, giggling while failing miserably with chopsticks. They swapped stories of growing up together, yet apart, within the 8 years of their online friendship. Every email, every Instant Message all led to that first date. Hours went by like minutes as they shared their dreams of the future.
Rey opened his eyes, wincing at the smell of the heavily bleached pillowcase on Lilith’s hospital bed. As he rested his head, memories of the 24 years they had together filled his mind. The love of his life lay next to him, unconscious and postpartum. As tears streamed down sideways across his face, Rey held their newborn daughter to Lilith’s bare bosom so mother and baby could bond.
Shifting his weight, Rey gently pushed his wife’s prized journal out of the way. Before this tragedy befell their family, Lilith was at the height of her writing career. It afforded them everything they ever wanted, including the world’s best medical team for her high-risk pregnancy. Ever since she was 12 years old, Lilith took a refillable writing journal and fountain pen everywhere she went. Rey wanted his wife to have everything she loved in this world, right here in this bed—if she ever woke up again.
Rey pulled himself higher on the bed to snuggle his bare chest closer to his wife and child. He propped himself up right next to Lilith’s face. “I’m not giving up on you, Lili. We need you.” He whispered love and encouragement into her ear as his eyes grew heavy. The sweet symphony of their baby’s slumber lured Rey’s cheek back to the tear-soaked pillow.
“Stop this, please! This is torture!” Lilith’s voice screamed in her mind—in her prison. She could hear her husband’s voice and feel her daughter on her skin, but she couldn’t speak or even open her eyes. “There must be some other way! I’ll give anything to make this madness stop!” Lilith pleaded to the universe, or God, or anyone who’d hear her.
“Anything?” A haunting, yet familiar voice called to Lilith.
Lilith’s eyes shot open as she let out a loud gasp, startling her husband awake. Before any celebration could start, Lilith and Rey both froze, realizing their two-day-old baby was fully latched and ravenously breastfeeding. Rey and Lilith looked back up and instantly grabbed each other’s hand, forming a protective structure over their hungry infant. They began to silently cry together—the way loving parents hide their heaviest emotions, just so they don’t inconvenience their children.
Neither Lilith or Rey could explain the miracle bestowed upon them, but they didn’t care. Lilith and Rey were together again and the couple finally had the blessing of a healthy baby. They’d endured so much loss just to get to this moment. Nothing else mattered to Lilith as she used her own breast to give her child life.
“What did you name her?” Lilith whispered weakly as she stared adoringly at her sweet baby girl.
Just then, the nurse and Rey’s family came rushing in. Everyone gasped loudly in unison and quieted themselves immediately when they noticed Lilith’s finger over her lips, shushing the crowd.
“Come, everyone!” Lilith’s husband whispered as he waved them all inside.
Lilith watched as her husband could barely contain his excitement. The couple had long agreed to wait and meet their daughter first before naming her. They feared the already failed practice of prematurely naming their child before it could survive the birth. But also, they both felt her name should fit her for who she is. This was their first hospital birth, and it truly seemed as though their luck had finally changed.
“Honey, please—tell me her name?” Lilith struggled once again.
“Tell her!” Everyone whispered sharply.
“Okay, okay!” Rey chuckled. “Everyone, meet our beautiful daughter… Fausta!” He quietly exclaimed with pride. “It means ‘fortunate one,’ because we’re all so fortunate she made it through…” His voice dwindled as he began to choke back tears. “Well, she’s here now. We’re all here now.”
Lilith’s face went pale as her ears seemingly went deaf. She had never heard that name before, all she knew was there was something very wrong. Before her mind could catch up, her arm dropped and let go of her baby.
“Lili! Catch her!” Her husband cried out as he dove for his infant daughter. Grabbing her just in time, Rey cradled little Fausta as he reached for his wife. Lilith cowered away in terror as Fausta’s tiny cries morphed into something chilling.
“Wah wahh… ahh ahaha… Muahahahaha!” A haunting, yet familiar voice taunted Lilith.
Lilith stared in horror as her precious little baby’s face turned gray and veined, and black-as-ink blood filled her eye sockets.
“Get that demon away from me!” Lilith screamed in disgust. “That’s not my baby! Get it away from my husband!”
Nurses and doctors rushed into the hospital room as Rey’s family held Lilith down, prying the sharp fountain pen from her hand with which she tried to stab her two-day-old infant.
“This isn’t real. That’s not my daughter. This isn’t real...” Lilith chanted over and over as the doctor injected Haloperidol into her arm.
“I’ve given your wife an antipsychotic that will calm her down, but I have to place her on an emergency psychiatric hold due to severe Postpartum Psychosis.” The doctor explained as the nurses strapped Lilith’s limbs to the hospital bed.
“Oh, my darling Lili!” Rey cried out in despair. He looked down upon his daughter, a baby so innocent and fragile. “I will never let anyone hurt you!” He promised. The family gathered to form a protective circle around little Fausta and her father.
Lilith’s already weak body went limp from the sedative, but her mind was still racing. She was determined to make things right. She had to save her husband from that demon pretending to be his daughter. There was only one way to stop this madness. Only one way to undo all her mistakes.
Just before the sedative pulled her eyes closed, Lilith saw only Rey’s back. The love of her life never hesitated as he fled the hospital room with his baby. Lilith pushed her cheek against the tear-soaked spot her husband left on the heavily bleached pillowcase. As she rested her head, memories of the 24 years they had together filled her mind.
The day that young couple sat in a quaint Korean restaurant on their first date, Lilith had a deadly secret. That was the day she should’ve told Rey everything when he asked about her writing.
Lilith should’ve told him how the darkness from her mind bleeds into the black ink of her fountain pen. She should’ve told him that the pages of her journal are cursed by an unbreakable contract. Lilith never told Rey what she sacrificed to have everything she ever wanted. She’d give anything to go back in time and make things right…
“Anything?” Mephistopheles whispered.
growing pains personified
"well-" i hesitate
he look at me curiously
"it's a little weird"
i look at my phone furiously
as it vibrates again
"don't be angry"
he says gently
"poetry" I blurt out
but it pulls him in eventually
"angry but beautiful"
I describe with delight
"morbid but real"
the words set his face alight
"inspired, but original"
it's getting good now
"growing pains personified'
he asks me how
"my anger and my sadness
all of it at once"
he smiles at me
and asks me to read one