A Fantasy For A While
I had a short stint as a small town reporter a couple years ago. It was nice while it lasted, though it didn’t take me long to see that job security was non-existent. In a few months I’d seen reporters with decades of experience here one day, gone the next. It didn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out that I’d be on the chopping block soon. So, enjoy it while it lasts. All good things come to an end, I suppose.
During this time, I was the sole reporter in a city of about seven thousand people. My closest boss was a four hour drive away, and as long as I had pitches during the morning conference calls at 9, and submitted a couple stories a day, no one said boo.
So, being new to the scene, I stuck with some smaller local stories in the beginning to get my feet properly planted before I started diving into some municipal budget controversies which were certainly beginning to take root in the city, or the burgeoning drug problem.
I interviewed a senior named Judy, who held an annual Cranberry Festival at her little farm on the outskirts of town every fall. I interviewed local business owners who were partaking in the community through generous donations to our start-up music program, and a lot of music interviews for bar bands making their way up north. Stories that were nice, clear cut, and not strenuous to write.
The stories went well, and then during mid-November, I got a call from my boss telling me that November was Domestic Violence Awareness month, and that I needed to track down a survivor and get an interview for next week’s paper.
I instantly felt nervous at the prospect of speaking to someone who was nearly killed by their partner, and I wanted to come up with a reason not to do it. But going back to job security, I needed to write articles that were good for the analytics. The analytics showed whose stories were getting the most clicks, and leaders on the board had better chances at keeping their positions. Plus, I knew these stories were important. The hard ones usually were.
So, I told him I’d find someone, and during an interview with the owner of a consignment shop on the boardwalk, Patricia Owens, who was putting purple lights outside of her boutique for Purple Light Nights, said that a friend of her mother’s was a survivor of a brutal attack from her boyfriend. She said she travels the country telling her story. And that she would most likely be comfortable doing an interview. She gave me her name and number, and I went back to my home office, and despite crippling anxiety, made the call.
Her name was Natasha, and her voice was sweet, calm, and mature. She was well spoken, and instantly made me feel at ease. I said, “I completely understand if you’re not comfortable, but I’m uh writing a story about domestic abuse survivors, and I was wondering if you’d be interested in telling me your story?”
She said, “Sure. Ask me anything you’d like.”
“Can you tell me the story from the beginning?”
“Of course.” She seemed so calm. So at ease, like she was reading from a teleprompter.
“I met a guy in the summer of 96,” she said, “He was handsome, funny, athletic. He was just amazing. A real gentleman, you know? That’s what some people don’t understand. They always say why do you stay? And we say firstly because we’re scared, and secondly because oftentimes we know there’s a beautiful side to them. A side that’s fantasy and love, and we just want them to keep that side forever, you know?”
I told her I did, though I wasn’t sure I was convincing.
“And after about six months or so, he started to get physical. It was just an arm grab in the beginning, or a push during an argument. Red flags began to appear, but I wasn’t ready to ask him to get out. But then it got a little worse and little worse, and eventually a lot worse. He punched me in the nose during an argument, breaking it. And I told him to get out. Just get the hell out. That was the final straw.”
“And then what happened?” I asked, feeling my heart beating fast, at the realism of this story. This wasn’t a movie. This wasn’t a book. This was a real woman, telling a real story to a green reporter with no experience.
“He left. He left for nearly a year. But then on June 26, 1997, at 11:00 pm, a time I’ll never forget for as long as I live. I was laying in bed with my eight year old son, when the door was kicked open. I jumped up to check it out and there he was, standing in the doorway. And he said, tonight I’m going to kill you.”
She paused after this, waiting for me to ask a question. Wanting me to take part in the interview, but my mouth was dry and it seemed unable to move.
After a few seconds, I asked. “What did you do next?”
“I tried to run out of the house, but he grabbed me. He stabbed me over 30 times. I eventually broke free though, and started running through the town, trying to get him to chase me and get him away from my son. It worked. My son called the cops, and I was taken to the hospital.”
“Wow,” was all I could manage to say. I had been taking down notes of her story and writing at lightning speed, trying not to miss a single word she said.
Then she said, “It was a fantasy at first. A true fantasy. I thought he was the greatest man I’d ever known. That’s what makes it so hard. You spend so much time asking yourself how you could have missed the signs? But these people are experts at their craft. Though their craft is pain.”
“Did he get arrested?” I asked, feeling more confident now that the worst of the story was over.
“Yes. But not for long enough. That’s why this legislation needs to go through.”
Again, feeling like such an amateur, I had forgotten to look up the new legislation of domestic abuse. I went silent for a while, trying to look it up on my laptop quickly, and I’m sure she sensed my nervousness and unprofessionalism.
She said, “this act will allow background checks to be conducted on partners. If I would have had access to this, I would have known that he had a history of abuse. A brutal, violent history.”
I marked down in my notebook, look up new legislation, and told her thank you.
I wrote my story about her, and it’s still my proudest accomplishment as a reporter. They let me go a couple weeks later, and I should have been mad, but I just said thanks for the opportunity.
About a year later, I received an email from her, which read.
Hi! How’s everything going? I heard that you got the axe. I’m sorry about that. You deserve better anyway. I just wanted to say how much your article helped me. A lot of people read it, and now I’m working on a book, and a documentary about my story. None of this would have been possible if not, for you.
I doubted that was true, but it still gave me butterflies to read it.
That’s so great to hear. I’m so happy for you. And as for the job, all I can say is it was a fantasy for a while.
My Lover, the Gravedigger
Tell the gardener we only need two shovels. One for you and one for me.
Today, you will dig my grave. I will help you.
The gardener brings the shovels. They are long with wide ends, as if they knew we need the sturdiest tools for the job ahead.
You don't know it yet- because how can you foresee death? But you smile at the way the sky seems to have cleared and you live with the bright possibility that today could be beautiful.
I am sad I will end this hope for you. I can't yet apologize for my part in your sadness you don't know is coming.
So today when we dig this hole you think is for a rosebush, I will be wearing my funeral dress, blood red, no white for purity. For I am no pure woman. I know Death as if it were my lover and I have seen my end. I am just sorry I have designated you my executioner.
Don't worry darling, it will be me in the end who pulls the trigger.
Death is coming, as I have seen since childhood. Visions in my periphery, visions in my dreams- the voices tell me it is time to go. Don't ask me why this is. Some things are not to be understood, only taken as truth. This is my truth.
The sky is now gray, you frown at the change of weather. I take a deep breath, It is time.
And I say to you, "Listen now lover, put down your shovel for a moment. Don’t worry, you will have to pick up the shovel again to bury me from the world once more.
But for now, it is time to say goodbye."
My beautiful nightmare
I was asleep before my head hit the downy pillow. The scent of jasmine and musk filled my nose sweetly.
The soft ambient lighting from my very adult night light; shaped like the moon completed a trifecta of sleepy solitude.
So content I barely heard the knob turn, ever so gently. Allowing him to enter.
Am I dreaming? Is this real?
I peek from the corner of the throw.
He walks in slowly. Calmly.
His eyes searched the room before landing on my small form lying in the bed. Covered up, one eye slightly sneaking a glimpse of him.
He was stunning. Better than my simple prose could ever articulate. This tall mahogany Adonis. Smirking at my timid perusal.
I found my voice at last.
"Really? You conjure up a guy and suddenly you've got amnesia?"
"What; do I not meet your expectations?"
His laugh is pure honey. My eyes go wide. The protective hold on the blanket slips. I sit up, my choice of jammies, a comfy tank reaching only to the front of my silky undies.
Definitely a dream.
I look at him. Awe at how utterly perfect he is evident on my features.
"You're pretty hot yourself gorgeous, maybe you should readjust that blanket... Unless you want me to see all that loveliness."
I momentarily considered this.
Fuck it, it's my fantasy after all.
His laugh wove through me like molten lava. Scalding the intimate places it touched.
He reached for me then, silently entreating my aquesience.
I wordlessly give him my hand. He effortlessly pulls me to him.
Once encapsulated within his embrace my body went from a heated flush to a blazing inferno.
How did I think up this amazingly sensual creature! He's too... Everything!
I sat on his lap, facing him. filled with appreciation at the utter size of this man. All of him!
My femininity became delicate and tender. I didn't hesitate to indulge in the carnal bliss..
Every night, since moving into my new home went like this. At first it was mystical, magical. What dreams are literally made of.
Until it became too much.
I was waking up very sore and swollen in uncomfortable places.
People at my job questioned if I was ill.
That's when I noticed the bruises. The hollows under my eyes. The tired and sickly look that had come over me. I decided I needed a break from Mr. Perfect.
He didn't like that too much. He became a shadow that seemed to haunt me, even in daylight.
His once sensual nature giving way to a malevolent presence.
I questioned why I didn't just give up the fantasy but honestly it had begun to feel like a relationship.
A toxic one, that I couldn't really break. How do you break from a fantasy?
Was I going crazy?
I decided I needed real company.
I called an old friend who was more than eager. His sweet nature a welcome change from the super charged erotic nights I'd been having.
I excused myself to use the restroom. Upon returning, he was hastily putting on his jacket.
"Are you leaving already?"
I tried to keep the disappointment from my voice.
"Yeah, sorry I just... I think your house is haunted....
I often think
about how I would destroy him.
I imagine him out at a bar
talking to a woman.
He has his hand on her thigh
and he's thinking he's going to get lucky.
And then I walk in.
I push between the two
with fire in my eyes
and poison on my lips
and I tell her all the things he did to my friend.
How he didn't hear the word no
and how he is the scum of the earth.
How he is a narcissist,
an absolute fucking predator that shouldn't be alive.
I imagine her running from him
and the sense of pride I feel with
saving this woman from becoming a victim.
I hear him yelling at me
saying I had no right to say anything,
that it was a long time ago
and it's not that big of a deal.
I do not respond.
I do not fight with words.
What I do instead
is what I have wanted to do since the second I heard what happened.
Without a word
I slowly turn around,
take out a knife,
and cut off his dick.
Zombie Love Song
My dear I miss you now you’re dead
I want you nightly in my bed
What is that you just said?
“Brains, brains, brains…”
Your rotting breast I long to hold
Your inner love has now gone cold
My friends all say your love is old
“Brains, brains, brains…”
Your lovely eye has just popped out
And fallen in the sauerkraut
I love you still, please do not doubt
“Brains, brains, brains…”
Your chubby ass has turned quite black
Your nipples grey, your belly slack
And still I want you in the sack
“Brains, brains, brains…”
I want to slide myself in you
Kiss your lips and your neck too
But all I see is moldy goo
“Brains, brains, brains…”
I can’t resist your deadly charms
Though your smell starts fire alarms
So hold me in your rotting arms
“Brains, brains, brains…”
My love for you drives me insane
And still you sing the same refrain
So please, please eat my little brain
“Brains, brains, brai…”
Devil in Disguise
He was pure evil, a devil in disguise,
Some mistook him for Satan himself,
He was a wolf in sheep's clothing,
He wanted me to be perfect, while he was corrupted and full of lies.
He wanted me, but I wanted none of him,
I could see right through his disguise,
A wickedness so deep within,
That I had to open my eyes.
He acted like an angel of light,
But his true motives were so dark,
I had to run away from his sight,
And never look back.
I am no angel myself,
But I know not to let a devil tear at my heart,
I had to find strength and self-help,
And away from him I had to part.
We'd walk on the same road
rough and dusty
but our smiles are pure
felt it was just yesterday
But today, not with the same pathway
we walk, separated. lonesome.
And sightlessly walking.
Both held hands
Those warm palms, we're used to hold.
yet yours is already cold.
Taking my breath at every step
Not everything changes.
I'd remember it clearly
When I wanted to draw a picture
of you, with me.
But this black pen in my hand
Seemed to forget how to
Though it's a bit exhausting
I needed to get through
This is the only thing
that gives me air
to breathe in
Because you make me feel
it's worth it
After then, I'll rest.
Just like you did.
Hope, it's worth it.
Our Protagonist Is All Wrong!
In Catholicism waters of the Holy variety wash away sin, cleansing by Baptism. Free.
The Greeks believed souls bathed in the River Lethe would be non grata. Non-existent and of no identity.
Egypt held up their River Nile as a spiritual river. A road to the next phase of life.
Water. Is the lifeblood. The cascade of rebirth, transition, transformation, new life, new time. It flows forever and never stops, never thinks. Water is as insatiably cruel as it is merciful.
It can be considered, quite the whimsical way to die.
I didn’t know about all that.
What I did know, is of the seductress that had found me first. And the lake water vast and cool becoming unnatural, oily sludge.
I remember a fanged mouth as that awful mer-person a vulture at the guise of a siren wished to feast on me too. Deprived me of all life and beauty, a vampire she was!
What I remember was fleeing through a sordid marsh until I reached an all too organized congregation of stones and slick ground festooned in runes.
I knew enough, about the fae who ended up finding me.
I knew enough to suspect, my presence may very well be a sickness upon this land. And my fairy companions, my only benevolent aid are hiding their cough so dutifully.
I could almost pretend…
To be with the true protagonist of this story.
My younger brother who had meant to fall in that lake. And whose touch and each step he'd have taken not bring tenders of ash and shrill agony to the land.
And with such business the proper beginning then is this.
An orphanage overlooking a lovely parish village, in the year 1924
… And it was perpetually chilled in that room, like the morgue, come summer OR snow. We- Terry, Joe, and I -were exiled to it during mealtimes or if we had happened to be ‘too much’ that particular day. On one such day, Joe was not himself…
“COME DOWN TO THE LAKE.”, Joe said as Terry drew and I colored.
“What..?” Terry said.
Joe gurgled a response, “COME ON, NOW. TIME’S TICKIN’...”
Terry and I looked down to the lake. The sun told us we still had time, but Joe WAS an adult, after all… He was our collective voice of reason.
Joe was Terry’s twin. No one had seen Joe in the flesh since ’52, since that day he took his last leisurely stroll around Sellers Lake. No one had seen him, no… Not as he had been, then, anyway; an adult mentality stifled within the confines of a child's mind, wrapped in soft, chocolate skin, a little smile curving around the innocent joy of catching that Blue Racer… A kid.
"PLATOONERS STICK TOGETHER…" Joe reminded us, a bubbling scream through water.
"... AND PLATOONERS GET THE JOB DONE, yes.. We're aware. But what's your point..?" asked Terry, his harsh tone a tactic to cover the fear etching down his scalp.. His spine.
I brought my little hands to my tearful eyes, sniffling. I could feel Terry's fear… … I COULD FEEL THAT JOE WAS PRESENT.
"DOWN TO THE LAKE." Joe said, but in two voices; his own wet, waterlogged tone overlaying Mother's always velvet, subdued one.
"Momma!!" I shrieked, pointing down to the lake.
A woman, stunning beyond belief, stood in a long, flowing dress, red lips like two flames burning a careful smile into her face despite being knee deep in freezing water. She was sinking slowly into the mud…
"WE TRIED TO TELL YOU, SHE CALLED." Joe said, simply.
Terry abruptly stood up. I, crying, followed suit. The sliding door to leave the room opened, a small child's handprint made of mud dripping down its glass…
In single file- in order -Terry, Joe, and I walked down to the lake that late afternoon on March 15th.. One, a boy, the other a specter of the boy he once WAS, and a little girl, lost, to honor their mother's call.
"COME TO UUUUSSS… " Mother urged, arms outstretched, hands blue and dripping.
Robotically, against all reason and with no fear, Terry and I were seen stepping ever-deeper into the frigid water of Sellers Lake from the living room window by our Grandparents; both of us with arms reaching for SOMEthing- SOMEONE -unseen.