It took me a little while to recognize my fatal flaw, as a reader. It's not a question of extremes, as much as underlying interest. Undoubtedly, some enthusiasts immerse themselves in environment too much, or not deeply enough; or sink into plots, and become entangled in the knots of artificial problems or trip over allegory altogether; some identify empathilessly, or delve into infatuancies, with heroes and antiheros. That's not me.
What I didn't realize until early teens, junior high, or high school the latest, maybe, was that I was maintaining extended conversations with the authors. Made up of course, extensions on the basis of what was given in text, or interview elsewhere. Nothing fascinated me as much--- the rest of the story being "words on paper."
I guess, like a vampiread, I wanted the Life behind or within the story line. I wanted to understand, why the devil did so and so feel it necessary to carry-in to existence this work, this body? I suppose I hoped to see for a moment through the eyes of the wordsmith, and perceive what effect he or she was trying, hoping, to achieve, in the mind of others, through the manuscript as laid out, long or short.
In my own search for meaning, I must have made the (ghasted! I know) assumption that there is a Purpose behind all things. Note the capital, as denouncement of something grand: that accident in art is minimized by a closer analysis of impact, and a penultimate point of acceptance or rejection of it, before final publicization (form/media determining in large part the arena of distribution, as print, gallery, screen). In short, that the writer had something to say, beneath the tip of the berg of what now appeared in our glare of vision.
Not necessarily something new. Something personal. Vital.
It must have been in the early teen-years that I first revealed, and sighted, my flaw--these quirks being unjudged internally until someone else balks and stops you in your everyday stride. Discussing a book, I was subsequently met with indignant tonguelash. I can't remember what book or what I said, but I remember distinctively the response. That I was wasting my time.
Writing isn't like that. Words speak for themselves. It's about characters. The work takes on a life of its own. It belongs to the audience. A typographical orphan. Beyond control. The search for meaning as in our own lives is futile... The author like a God is long gone mentally and busy, anyway nobody is expositioning themselves. Book closed.
To my fellow student-writers, majoring in nothing at the time, it was as if personally offensive. Yet irrational. A barrier put up by the readers themselves in their minds, Private Property/ No Trespassing. It puzzled me that our teachers nodded along, though we routinely pursue potential acts of major and minor characters in our imagination in literary assignments. Character study we call it.
To be sure I don't like chained link or barbed wire, and would avoid these as well, still I conclude that unnecessarily imposed fences, especially intellectual ones should be scaled, down to size. In defense of the antagonists, the only thing I could think of was the fear of Writer's Block. If we spent too much time pondering over Purpose, we would create nothing at all. Maybe.
Yet I am inclined to the idea that understanding intent is within the Reader's purview, as much as it is part of the Writer's prerogative. As a reader, I give much respect to the Author, and freedom to take us wherever inspiration in the moment or future will lead us. I can't ask for it back, but I can pay it forward, when I myself scrawl something down, with that invisible prefix "Dear Reader..."
like most things I write, this is autobiographical
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: I’m a chronic quitter. I went to college thrice, and only finished one degree - the least-useful and most-expensive one. I think I’m marginally better at Jeopardy and would do well on the English section of the SAT, but that’s about it.
I played soccer for a season, tap danced for a year, I went to golf camp, basketball camp, tennis camp, ballet, gymnastics, and that’s not even the full list. I have not been to the gym in multiple years and I wheeze when I run.
I used to paint, tried to learn to knit, went to photography club. I have art supplies clogging up my closet with old textbooks.
Sometimes I read. Rarely, but sometimes. I have started more books than I have finished, much more. I lie to people about having finished The Great Gatsby and 1984. I just couldn’t get into them, but they sound like great stories.
But, I ate a peanut butter sandwich - no jelly, just peanut butter - everyday for 12 years. I like what I like and when I like, I really like. I obsess and repeat.
This is all to say that I don’t read very often, but when I do read, I read hard. I read 200-300 pages a day. When I finish books, I finish them in <48 hours. I don’t only download PDFs of books because I have no money to buy them - despite the amount of time I spend at the bookstore. I like to highlight my books.
It’s color-coded. Orange is for new words that I’ve picked up and want to use - I write those down later somewhere else. Green is something I liked. Yellow is something that I can’t quite make up my mind about. Red is bad - and I usually insert a comment about why I don’t like it and how I would write it differently. Pink - only for fiction, not poetry - has to do with dates and times. Light blue means I cried, dark blue means I sobbed. Purple means I felt my stomach flip at the words on the page. Purple and blue are little delicacies. I want to be these colors.
When I finish a book, I don’t read it once, I read it again…and again and again. Until I can gain no more knowledge or pleasure from a book. Then, I write all my thoughts about it down, read reviews, fanfiction, and watch movie adaptations.
I read American Psycho in two nights and then I sat down in front of the TV with my PDF open and a notebook and pen next to me. I wrote down the similarities and differences, as well as my likes and dislikes. In case you were wondering, the book is better in my opinion - the movie doesn’t fully capture the critique of consumerism. I might write an essay on that.
Recently, I spent two nights reading a fanfiction - yes,I love fanfiction. It was 160k words, 14 chapters, still being updated periodically. I have never cried harder at a single piece of media. I am inconsolable. I audibly sobbed and used up a box of tissues. I envy this writer more than any other. Entire chapters are blue in color.
This is all to say that I am not a frequent reader, but I am an obsessive reader. I do not “like” anything, I love things - unless I don’t. When I love, I love until I cannot love anymore.
Book of Leaf
Reed was engrossed in the book. What a great read, they thought. What will happen next?
Reed turned the page, and immersed themselves in the imagery, picturing in their mind the soaring landscape near the top of a large rock formation, filled in mostly with memories of a recent hike. The protagonist huffed and puffed their way to the peak, much like Reed had done. Everything about this book felt so familiar. Weaving along a narrow ridge, a deadly drop on either side, Reed felt their hands and feet begin to sweat with the memory.
The protagonist pulled themselves up the unforgiving rock with a chain installed for that purpose. Reed could smell the bitter tang of iron, remembered with a half-smile how it had struck them that a lifeline would smell like blood. Lifeline, lifeblood, bloodline. Remember.
What were they supposed to remember? Perhaps the answers were in the book. They looked down, and for a moment, instead of a page, saw what they had seen peering over the edge of the rock. The bottom of their stomach fell, somehow lower than their feet, while their throat constricted, pushed the air in their lungs into a buzz on the top of their head. Unreal. This is just how it happened in my life. My life.
Frantically, Reed riffled through the previous pages of the book, stopping and scanning text along the way. The protagonist cuts into a wedding cake and looks up at their wife, laughing. A college professor talks about gnostics. A graduation cap flies into the air, joined by a thousand more. A bully shoves the protagonist to the ground, their fists clench, and hot tears burn through dry eyes. The first girl they ever liked, dark skin glowing, bright smile flashing in a sweet young face. Mom and Dad, still together, looking down at a baby. At me. This is me. Reed closed the book, the title read, "The Book of Leaf."
Dread and foreboding filled Reed. What happens next? They flipped through the chapters of their life, found the page where they were hanging by a chain to a rock, so far off the ground the question wasn't whether or not a hiker would survive, but if there would be anything to recover of their body. Turn the page. Reed almost said it out loud.
Reed turned the page. Their heart stopped for a moment, seeing the blank page in front of them, and then the white of the paper expanded, rushed towards them, enveloping them. The sun baked down on the bare skin of their face and hands, burning even as a persistent wind chilled them to the bone. Their feet, which had slipped out from under them, dangled over a thousand foot drop. The smell of fear, the smell of blood. A lifeline. Their hands gripped the chain, and they painfully pulled themselves back onto the path. In a daze, they walked the rest of the way to the peak. Their wife, overcome by the view in front of her, turned when she heard Reed approach.
"Can you believe this view? Hey, what happened to your leg?" There was a tear in Reed's pants, a smear of blood and dirt.
"I slipped back there."
"Geez, are you ok? Did your life flash before your eyes?"
Reed thought for a moment. "Yes."
The Letter K
I opened It
and I let
through the Ink
I feel what was
all this Time
but we know
how it is...
There are things
we set aside
or let Lie
and on return
there's some Twist
our Memory had
or hadn't missed
It was like that
now in my
I broke the Seal
placed long ago
I remember that
would I blush
or be Forgiving
would I stop
half way ..?
or get on
the parts that
since as we know
what isn't Good
now is more oft
and I saved bits
I laughed a lot
I was a Child
I was... Ok
down to the
May, 19th, 1987.
In the end, really, it isn't my fault.
Even as I sit here, wiping the sweat from my pale flesh and subsequently smearing blood like an oil spill I can't recollect causing, shakily staining the page of this notebook with a pen clasped too tightly in my hands- it wasn't my fault. The knife I chose happened to be the one closest. What choice did I have?
Most people don't think of murder as a solution to their problems. And it's not- please, keep that in mind as you read my diary. It is not a respite and it will not fix anything. Hurting others physically is never a justifiable action if they didn't provoke you.
That being said...
The newest victim who's still spurting blood up- inconveniently on my white rug, the sack of shit, was a rapist. A rapist that targeted pre-pubescent boys. So, no, I don't murder people that are good and kind or a wife that had an affair.
I kill abusers
I blink owlishly at the scene in front of me. It's strange-- no, sorry, it's charged. To sit on this earthy bed confined by candle smoke and wisps of indisguinable days and watch myself, a tender tween through the eyes of a misshapen adult.
It is a scene warped from dulled edges and barred windows. Hazy orange like looking through a smoggy lens.
I am charged with emotion I have apparently never expressed adequately, and am forced to relive this moment as an inocuous bystander. To spark a lifeless wick. Digesting it through the eyes of a flightless bird, pecking at a dead squirrel.
The grass was at the point of the summer where it was practically hay- scratchy and crunchy beneath bare feet. There was a drought- and the youngest Summers girl was lugging a pale of water from the river home to boil for drinking, or whatever else dearest David, patriarch extraordinaire, instructed.
I watch from where I sit next to my mothers flower garden as he cracks open his Wintergreen tobacco dip, running a fat finger across his gums with a sneer.
He wasn't a dad. Because anyone can gain the title father. It's one that just comes with the whole territory of knocking a woman up. But to be a dad? That was an honour. One David did not deserve. I always knew- even then. He was a disgusting man. He drank and drank until he puked- and had me, only thirteen at the time, and my elder sister by two years cleaning it up with toothbrushes.
That wasn't the bad part.
The bad part came in silent declarations of domestic violence- in the form of purple bruising in places you couldn't excuse as falling down the stairs, or burning your skin on a hot pot. Chunks of hair were missing- and it couldn't be from stress, due to the infection usually laying at its scalped root. Moulted and hidden beneath a strange little Parisian hat other kids would tease me for.
I didn't know- I still don't- what it was about this particular heated day that led little Sally Summer to stand behind her father as he fiddled with his car engine, cigarette limply hanging from his lips and the stench of liquor rolling off his skin in waves. But it was too much.
Mother had been ushered to the hospital- a collapsed lung. She didn't know how she'd exxplain it away- her elder siblings went along with their mother, regretfully leaving the youngest with the man. He never hurt his kids. He only hurt his wife.
David took the cigarette from his lips, his back cracking as he stood to his full 6'2 height to grab at his beer. I hold my breath as I wait... one gulp.. two..
He spits it onto the oil-slicked floor, globs of dip spattering with it.
"Fuck- this is warm!" He smashed it to the ground, its warm contents and dark brown glass scattering. She flinched a bit at the sound. My fingers twist and tear at blades of grass to try and dislodge the knot forming in my chest, bruised and battered.
He motioned aimlessly to the house. "Get me a fresh one, girl."
Because girls couldn't help with cars like brothers were allowed to. Girls couldn't go on trips to the hospital with a sick mother like the woman at fifteen could. Girls couldn't be capable of murder.
She returned with the beer, a hand behind her back and he didn't even look to tickle the very thought of concern. He would never suspect his daughter. No one would suspect a girl with eyes wide as daisies.
In one hand was the cleaver that was discarded with the skin of a pig hanging off it, browned steel from the poor animals blood. I was a vegetarian now, after father brutally murdered the pig I watched grow up as my little self did. In the other hand was a wrench he'd thrusted at her with a grunt.
She held them both like they were toys. Maybe they were. Maybe I always found comfort in something tangible, something capable in my fists.
David grunted from beneath the bonnet, coughing around the cigarette, "Pass me the wrench, kid."
She did as he asked, stepping back without thanks to survey him. I tilt my head, trying to grasp for what I must have been thinking so tiny and so fresh to the world.
He was big. Much bigger than a young girl- and bigger than any of the other kids dads. With a permanent scowl where smiles usually played.
I watch, my fingers digging into the earth as she quivered, the cleaver much too heavy as she tried to lift it above her head and nearly bowled over at the same time. I want to help- my fingers itch to cover her eyes and shield her from such brutality but for that I would have had to creep into my mother's womb and stolen the life from an angelic little fetus.
My swallow mirrors hers, heavy, thick against the wretched stench of motor oil and stale smoke that pours out of that garage. She heaves the cleaver up, high in a pretty arch like her mother at her tallest, and swings it down in a jagged curve like the curls of her mama's pretty brown hair.
There is a sick crunch, and a squelch, and I must think of my older sister, sequestered to being wed off to a man of her father's pedigree, and yanks. Pretty ribbons follow the blade, splattering red like his precious car. It falls again like the blade of a guillotine, sure and purposeful to try and break the chord that would tie her big brothers to inherit such a rotten gift. She swings it up, and he topples forward beneath the car, the wound in his back easy enough to cover with a kick of her foot to the jack pedal. It creaks, and collapses onto the lousy sack of shit with a resounding finality.
I want to clap for the theatrics of it all, want to cherish her sweet little Kubrick stare as she stares with a loathing that borders worship for the act, but my hands are stuck in the mud. Worms digging beneath my fingernails like the edge of a fresh page. Dirt clinging to my flesh like the poison of a new chapter, of a fate determined with a gleeful little smile Sally Summers offers David's quivering corpse.
Sally hops over the carnage, taking a look at the engine herself. With a simple twist of a knob, it was fixed. No one would ever credit me for that, though- they would assume David did it before dying doing what he loves: being a fantastical monster.
I watch her skip happily out from the garage, blood dripping from her skin in a gruesome ink. For a second I think she might jump out of the scene, and into me. I want to celebrate her success, and boast her to the world as a heroin with the grandest character arc. God, I share that same glassy look to this day when I take a life.
My first taste of blood was like honey. The second like wine. The third like power. And with power, well... you can never get enough of the stuff. Vengeance is one hell of a drug, I couldn't wait for my next fix in the sequel.
The Way Reality is Played
somedays I read everything
the wrong way
I scrap book my fabricated self
for the fortnight
is a videogame
outside of life
calculable and safe
like there is no other way
no tubing through
no alt key memory card
in the pocket sleeve
no monkey wrenched
in the charred cake
of Marie Anoinette's
individual wrap ready-mades
a dashed dotted pattern...
for me to retrace
a white plastic slicker
cloaked in inner shadow
snippety sniper snip
I sit am bushed
cross hair cut
under the money tree...
washed and weathered
funny the lively sound paper makes
along the littered trail
in my wake.
2023 NOV 17
Thank you so much. From the bottom of my heart.
For that first book in a third grade classroom shelf. It was about math I believe, the usual silly story of children who try to make a special sell-out purple lemonade.
I've read about a circus, I've read some nice nifty mysteries.
I've read from A to about L of the A to Z mystery series. Thank you Ron Roy. And thank you again for one of the shortest books I've read, yet your longest by far, that is still my favorite and a scintillating read of Washington white out snow one Christmas, a frightening nightmare to any child, or the adult, and the kind stranger. Thank you, for the December Calendar mystery that crossed over the A to Z kids and Marshall the President's daughter.
I'm sure you know, as any author does, as any reader who sees this will relate I was alone once. I held others at maximum disdain. I was better, a bit smarter. I had to tell myself that, else why was I so despondent? What had I done wrong when I'd only tried to be kind and express my happiness? What was so unbearable about that? I did not have to contemplate such questions at the pages of books. I could read of other freaks and friendless children. I liked how they spoke, I loved how they did and the ways they thought and likened the world to the grossest and weirdest simile and metaphor.
By now my page counts were going up to some notable level.
I much preferred books to the so-called "real" world. That of adults and cynicism, where youths have only each other and I suppose sometimes the parents to affirm they aren't dumb. Aren't meant to serve and to bow down, be quiet and be grateful even as teachers turn a blind eye to when we're bullied.
Thank you, for being among the masses of the world I could trust. Thank you for doing your absolute best to see things the way your readers do. For understanding why we're frustrated, why we're defiant. Why we aren't too fussed in listening to being talked down to.
I tasted fantasy through the smartest person there ever was. A wonderful woman, funny and severe, I followed her, I emulated her wishing so, so bad to be as grand... as my big sister. She had the money then to give me what I wanted. She worked with our Father-- they-- we'd all been confused back then but she did get money, being allowed by virtue of boy-ness to work with the bricks and the mailboxes.
With her money she ordered me the first Harry Potter book. I couldn't have been older than eight. The Internet was becoming a beast, fanfiction was perhaps starting out. No, probably some years back in my yester-youth. Is anyone else tired of these flowery, flourishing words?
I cracked open a purple spine, a one hundred and eighty pages(save preview) amidst winter cold and sunny day blackout. It wasn't snow, but ice. I was ten.
I read through within the day. Half a day and I wanted more! But I only had the one.
Now, you are certainly a terrible person Row, you disappointed me so thoroughly. But Harry did not, neither did Ron and not even the adults--except Snape-- Hogwarts and all it's beauty and intrigue did nothing wrong.
So terrible person as you are I do thank you.
I will never associate you with my fine sister, you would hate her I'm sure, I thank her and love her for what she did that day with all my heart. I'm afraid there's nothing left in my heart for you.
Thank you to Brandon Mull next, wholly original, suspiciously dark, a niche Fablehaven. Though perhaps that was the point. No one who comes to Fablehaven leaves unchanged.
Thank you to Un-Enchanted, to Jack Sprout to whomever subverted the fairytales. to Nerd Camp and Nerd 2.0, Class Dismissed, a littany of movies too since they are authors under different guise. A pen-name if you will.
Thank you too, to that middle school teacher which had all seven books that I devoured until that year was over. Just a few years later I'm sure he'd be happy to know I'd found my own collectible set online.
I'd surely been the luckiest girl in the world.
I continue to remember, how lucky I have been to peruse so many stories.
Consider this, Prosers in the future and Prosers who follow my rambling, of the book you've come to hold dear and preserve so fitfully and with such jealous love.
If I come back to this letter, it'll be in my adulthood thanked by a little boy, whose now inherited my well loved, spine folded copy of Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone
The Reader’s Odyssey
In a quiet corner of a cozy study, the reader finds solace amidst a collection of books, each one a door to a different world. The room is illuminated by the soft glow of a desk lamp, and the reader's eyes are fixed on the words that dance across the pages.
Intellectually, the reader is engaged in a delicate dance with the author's thoughts. It's a partnership, an unspoken agreement between writer and reader to explore the landscapes of the imagination. Each word is a step into a new realm, a journey into the uncharted territories of the mind.
Psychologically, the reader is a chameleon, shifting and adapting to the emotions and experiences that unfold with every sentence. They feel the joy of love, the weight of sorrow, and the thrill of adventure as if they were the protagonist of the story. The reader's mind is a canvas, painted with the colors of each word, creating a vivid tapestry of emotions and ideas.
Physiologically, the reader's body is an anchor, grounding them in the tangible world while their mind soars through the boundless realms of fiction. Their eyes flicker as they read, and their fingers turn the pages with a delicate touch, as if handling fragile treasures.
As the words unparcel, the reader's heart quickens with anticipation. Each sentence is a puzzle piece, fitting into the grand mosaic of the narrative. The story's cadence and rhythm become a part of the reader's heartbeat, a silent symphony that resonates within.
The reader settles into the story like an old friend, finding comfort in the familiarity of the author's style and the enchantment of new ideas. It's a sanctuary, a refuge from the chaos of the outside world, where time stands still, and the only reality is the one woven by words.
After the final page is turned, the reader emerges from the world of fiction, blinking in the harsh light of reality. The characters and places linger in their mind, and the reader carries the emotional residue of the story like a precious relic. The afterword is a bittersweet moment, a return to the present, yet a yearning for the next adventure, the next world to explore.
For the reader, the journey is never truly over. Each book is a new beginning, a fresh invitation to dive into the depths of the human experience. And as they close one chapter, they eagerly await the next, knowing that the magic of storytelling will forever be a part of their life.
I stared intently at my new apartment. It wasn't much, but it was now home, even though that word makes my skin crawl. I glanced nervously at the parking lot, noticing the few empty cars parking randomly throughout the lot, my bright red SUV sitting there almost like it's telling me to drive as far away as possible.
Glancing back to the apartment building, I prepared myself for the hike up those never ending stairs. I squinted against the bright yellow siding that have been recently painted with an orange trim. I wrinkled my nose at the thought of living in candy corn colored apartments.
Off to the side, a small run down playground sat. No children nearby, but you can see the wear and tear on the slide from too many little feet running up it to the top. The wood chips were sprinkled here and there, but didn't completely cover up the black garbage bags underneath it.
Clenching my duffle bag, I head up the narrow stairs for three flights in total. I grimace at the boxes the movers had left outside my door. I hope the neighbors didn't see that. Quickly unlocking the door to D204, I dragged the three medium boxes inside, noting one is for bathroom and the other two are for storage. The door slammed shut behind me with a loud bang that echoed off the emptiness of my new apartment.
I sighed deeply, with relief, but also with fear. I've never lived on my own before and I just hope I can live here in peace. Setting the boxes off to the side, I decided to check out the rest of the apartment real quick. I've had a look before, but only at the model apartment which was a two bedroom. I opted for a one bedroom instead since it's just me.
Walking right in from the front door, the bathroom was off to the right. It had one large oval sink with lots of drawers underneath it. Perfect for all of my lotions and hair accessories. A small cabinet sat above the toilet, allowing me to be able to put medicines of all sorts in there. There wasn't a bath, but a very large open shower with two small sections for soaps, shampoos, and other items to sit on while showering. The stacking washing and drying were brand new and gleamed with need behind the bathroom door.
From the bathroom, a storage unit sat with sliding wooden doors on the left. Lots of storage space, but could also be used as a pantry. Straight back from the front door, a walk-in closet sat. More storage space, but could also be used as a home office. To the right of the closet, sat the kitchen with brand new stainless steel appliances. I ran my fingers over the fake marble countertops, a sad smile forming on my face at the thought of making dinner by myself. Opening up the fridge, there was plenty of space and then some. Five cabinets sat along the wall for food storage and dishes.
The living room was connected and it wasn't very big, just lots of open space. My eyes lit up though as I took notice of the door leading outside to my balcony. Forgetting about the bedroom, I unlocked the balcony door, and slipped out. The fresh air hit my face and I smiled, like really smiled as I leaned against the wobbly railing. A feeling of home rushed through me as I took in the view of the woods behind me. A small patch of green grass extended, but for miles beyond that, all I could see was trees and my heart hurt. The greenery made me feel at home, but I wasn't really. Enjoying the view for a few more moments, I went back inside and peaked in at the bedroom off of the living room.
It was a medium sized room, which was able to fit my queen sized bed that leaned against the wall. I bit my lip, hungry growing inside. I decided to call the nearest place that delivered pizza. With dinner on it's way, I got to work reinventing my life and making my future brighter.
Words on a page...
...could never illustrate how I feel. I had been woken up to a part of life that was previously unaware to me. And I hated it. I understand not how it happened, only that it did, and things were forever changed. Could you try to understand for a moment? Imagine you wake up tomorrow and something cracks in the recesses of your mind, and after that crack you start noticing things. People you pass on the street seem less real, almost shadows. Buildings you see in the distance seem flat, as if they are just set dressing. And then you start hearing it.
Clack clack clack.
With each of these noises something happens. I get out of bed, I start to get ready for the day, and then I'm on the walk to class. Each time I hear it I want to look around and see where it's coming from. But then I realized, by the time I hear it, it's already been written.
I won't be able to ever find the origin of the noise, because if you're reading this then the story has been complete. I've already done everything I could say or do. All that's left is for you to finish the story. Then I'll be gone. Forever. I asked for your understanding earlier, can I ask for another favor? This last sentence, could you read it slowly, just so I don't have to go so soon?