Raindrops replaced tears as she traced memories along the window. I lent her my hand while I drove. Her reflection revealed the weight of the past year. Silhouettes camouflaged her face; our daughter’s ghost stained it— a flood damming at the corners of her eyes. She’d been strong until today, the anniversary of Anastasia’s murder. I parked adjacent to a dimly lit warehouse, interrupting her mournful trance.
“Where are we David?”
“You’ll see. I’ve gotta surprise that’ll cheer you up. C’mon.”
We entered through the backdoor. Before us sat our daughter’s killer tied up, a red bow around his neck.
I pulled the arrow from my chest. A drop of blood, maybe two, fell onto the rock beside my boot. I threw it to the ground and continued my path. My assailant gasped but quickly recovered his wit and with a furrowed brow, pulled an arrow from his quiver and prepared to attack again.
The Days of Offering were here. In order to keep the power bestowed unto me, there were requirements to be met. In my darkest hour, Atrok extended an ancient, guiding hand. But his grand benevolence paled compared to his vast appetite.
Archers were his favorite snack.
Whenever It’s Wrapped
From my worst, shiny wrapping paper and bows always put a smile on my face. Lighting the Christmas tree and putting up the red ornaments. Remembering the bigger tree or buried in that old pine's fronds.
Christmas rom-coms in every hour of each day. Sweet, lovely ladies and the sensitive knight, sometimes enemies at first, sometimes an adorable hot-chocolate over the fire sort of chemistry.
For a few years I was too little to help with dinner. The movies kept me entertained as my Mother worked hard with the masa.
Christmas itself is a beautiful, whimsical gift. Simple, nostalgic flavors.
I stared pensively at my daughter’s eager reflection in the bus window.
“I’d like to.”
I glanced at my wife who had aged 5 years since that conversation. The permanent worry lines, the crease in her forehead testified to 15 years of untiring motherhood, navigating the fine line between love and worry, discipline and freedom.
Only to be relegated now to also-ran.
We stayed in the shadows as we watched our daughter re-unite with her birth parents.
Post tears, hugs, she introduced us, “Meet my real parents.”
We knew then we had been mistaken to think we had rivals.
Cute in the face
The woman left her number on a cocktail napkin. Allen watched her leave. Terry sighed.
‘Why do I always get the ugly ones?’
‘Ugly?’ Allen grabbed the napkin and held it up. ‘This woman, Veronica, was hot. I mean smoking hot.’
Terry winced. ‘You’ve got to be kidding me. Did you see her philtrum? It had to be two-centimeters wide. And don’t get me started on her dorsum. I do have standards, man.’
Allen was speechless. Finally he said ‘Did you see those big, juicy tits? That skinny waist? That ass?’
Terry yawned. ‘Not just anybody can date an otorhinolaryngologist.’
There may never be a day in which someone will truly know my experiences, but that does not excuse the need to express and to create imperfect bridges. Despite the gap between each one of us, this curse born to us from birth, through need of expression, I found solace through words. Growing up, I was not permitted to express. Culture and family dictated emotions as weak. As I hid the emotions of my face to protect myself, I found an exception I could hide. Emotions became real. It is a miracle that simple letters sing the purest human depths.
The Little Things
The fireplace welcomes you with it’s warmth, asking for a snuggle around it, away from the harsh cold and snow. I watch as everyone troops in, hugs and kisses of fondness reverberated in the atmosphere.
We all missed each other, Christmas certainly reminds us of this.
My excited grandchildren pounce on me, they’ve missed their Nana and so have I. I wish I could touch them and tickle their frail bellies, I force a loop sided smile but they always understand. Ever since my stroke. I always look forward to these beautiful moments, I find fulfilment in these little things.
The best gift...
It is a widely maintained secret, circulated, but never stated explicitly, among those in the know, in the higher echelons of gift giving-- you know, The Martha Stewart's, The Rachel Ray's, The Doctor Phil's, The Oprah Winfrey's, of the world-- that the best gift, hands down, whether for close friend or family member, or co-worker, or teacher, or other necessary recipient, for whom you have such difficulty picking precisely --of course with careful consideration as to brand, and package, and other minor details, as to size and name--- is of course, the scented candle. Always good for regifting.
How can you go wrong giving some carefully-selected person, loved or otherwise, a Chia pet?
If they're children, they will see the miracle of life with anticipatory excitement.
If they're adults, they will think of you (if you know what I mean... maybe) every time they look at it.
If they're intellectuals, they will wax philosophical about anthropomorphism.
If they're dullards, they'll be fascinated.
If they're adolescents, they'll have something new to try in the pipe.
If they're businessmen, they'll pine for missed business opportunities.
If they're women, they'll be seduced.
If they're men, they will finally own a plant.
Cupid Gave Me A Gift
When Cupid shot his arrow into my heart, he forgot to sharpen it first. Not even the gods could dent my stone heart, and he knew it. But Cupid tried anyway. Every suitor I met with filled me with hate. Every kind person on the street. All of it was hate, and I was sick of it. I would yell at the gods, why? Why did you curse me?
But then I met him. And for the first time in my life, I realized the gift I was given. So much hate gave me the power to see true love.