The voice stopped calling, and then his body froze at the sight of her current bodily state. Frank stood with his mouth agape. Sasha was hunched over the edge of the bed. She seemed to not have heard her name being called. All her limbs were bent in a zig-zag shape. This made Frank’s heart skip a beat. He dropped the bowl of her favorite fruits on the hardwood floor, & started to head for the door. But then he slipped on a blueberry. His head started ringing from the impact it had with the cold, hard wooden floor. Meanwhile, Sasha was not quite aware of who this human that had approached her was. When she finally turned around, Frank screamed out loud! Sasha’s lethal upper and lower canines that extended out of her mouth diced Frank’s entire body into minuscule chunks. At the crack of dawn, while some folks were still under the spell of a yawn, Sasha stretched, and jumped out of bed. She stumbled across a pile of what looked like a mix of blood, and bones. The stench of it all made her want to nearly hurl. Suddenly, she heard a familiar sound.
But when she looked around, Frank was no where to be found.
How Old Betsy Flipped and Soared Again.
In the annals of my memories, there's a chapter dedicated to an old friend named Betsy - a 1998 Honda Civic that wasn't just a car handed down to me by my late uncle, but a steadfast companion on the winding roads of life. Betsy had seen her fair share of wear and tear, her paint dulled by the sun and her engine humming with the stories of countless miles. However, her true moment of reckoning, a night etched in memory, was when she flipped over on a deserted road, forever binding her tale to mine.
It was a moonlit night, the sky a canvas of twinkling stars, as Betsy and I ventured down a remote road, chasing shadows and savoring the solitude. The hum of her engine and the sound of tires on gravel were the only companions we needed. Little did we know that fate had something else in store for us that night.
A sharp bend emerged suddenly, my grip on the steering wheel tightened instinctively, but it wasn't enough. Betsy's tires skidded, and the world seemed to twist as we flipped over. The crunching of metal was accompanied by a symphony of shattering glass, leaving me dazed and hanging upside down, suspended by my seatbelt.
"Betsy?" I whispered, as if calling out to an old friend. Pain pulsed through my body, and adrenaline surged as I unhooked the seatbelt and fell onto the roof. The car's underbelly faced the night sky, like a wounded animal lying on its back.
"Are you okay, old girl?" I mumbled, my words more to reassure myself than to elicit a response from the car. Trembling, I braced myself against the roof and pushed with all my might. Inch by inch, the car wavered, responding to my desperate determination. Grunting and gasping, I pushed until Betsy was back on her four wheels.
As I stood by the road, battered and bruised, I looked at Betsy, who now bore fresh scars and a mangled form. The moonlight played upon her crumpled body, casting eerie shadows that seemed to mirror my own sense of vulnerability.
"Come on, Betsy," I muttered, my voice a mix of fatigue and exasperation. The engine sputtered and coughed, then roared back to life. I limped to the driver's seat, my ribs screaming in protest, and grasped the wheel with a determination fueled by raw adrenaline.
The journey back home was a shaky one, every bump and turn sending jolts of pain through my body. The taste of blood lingered on my lips, and my vision blurred intermittently. I clung to the wheel, each mile bringing me closer to the haven of my mother's house.
When I pulled into the driveway, the soft glow of the porch light was a beacon of solace. Weakness overcame me as I stumbled out of Betsy's embrace and into my mother's waiting arms.
"What happened?" My mother's voice was a soothing balm to my battered soul.
"Flipped... Betsy... back," I managed to utter between ragged breaths, my voice a whisper of the trials I had just faced.
Hours later, I awoke in a sterile hospital room, the muted beeping of machines surrounding me. My head throbbed, and my body ached as if reminding me of the trials I had endured. My mother sat beside me, her eyes weary but relieved.
"You're awake," she said softly, her hand reaching out to hold mine.
"Yeah," I managed a weak smile. "Betsy?"
"The car is being taken care of," she reassured me. "But you're the one I worried about the most."
This was one of the only times she didn't lecture me for being irresponsible. I thought I must've died and gone to Heaven. Some details are a bit foggy, as I walked away with a concussion, but according to my family, mostly my mother, this is what happened.
You’re not the first
to place an asterisk
on a challenge
a writer’s voice,
attempting to define
our oratorical freedoms,
while pushing that
deeper down our throats
until they overfill,
and it starts
dripping down our screens
as if it’s a
“Puritanical Vibes Only”
If you want clean,
then define it
because being afraid to get dirty
is simply a bitch move.
None of you
“Keep it cleaners”
ever describes the “Terms”
to appease your weakened guts,
your gluten-free diets,
and your Lacto-intolerant
as if we’re supposed to read
your goddamned minds
or want to mollify your
modern-made medical maladies.
You’re too feeble
to stand for your morals,
so, you foist them at us
from your highfalutin
shit flinging out your mouth
fed directly from your ass
like our evolutionary cousins
without the responsibility
of ever cleaning it up.
You’re too malnourished
to complete a thought,
between red vs. blue
so, you playfully offer purple
in exchange for likes or support
bolstered by parenthesis
to increase its emphasis
assuming we give a shit.
Regardless if you have a dick
or a pussy
what matters here
We offer love and support,
for all kinds
in this community,
but it seems you’re too scared
to let the dogs out,
Because you’re afraid
of a little bite,
afraid of the truth,
afraid to share
the secret parts of you
so out of fear
for a little snarling,
you attempt to tame
other people’s written works
as if you’re a
licensed dog trainer.
Well, good luck darling
because I’ll never be leashed.
Now, don’t get those whitey tighties
in a bunch quite yet,
because you’ll be needing them later
to carry your loosened shit
to the same dumpster
I’m soon setting fire to,
because milk is what I’m bringing
as I force you to choke on sourdough.
I hope you’re still allergic
because my intended shock
is guaranteed to cause anaphylaxis.
So, settle in
grab an Epi
and put on your safety helmet
cause this ride
is about to get filthy.
Keep it clean,
No tits or ass
or swear words please…”
Fuck all of that!
and fuck you for trying.
This is real life,
not some fairytale love story
written for all of Walt’s children.
What are we
re-writing the “bible”?
Hell, even that book
has more than fifty shades of incest
and I’d put down money
that Jesus swore like a sailor
when they pinned him to the cross.
And there’s no way Eve
didn’t have a rack for days
that made Adam
push down his cock obsessively
trying to hide his hard-on.
Why do you think they covered up
He was probably the first
to tuck between his legs.
And on the seventh day,
Get over it.
How else did we get here?
Hell, my wife is
probably a thousand cousins removed,
and we go at it twice a week,
I guess I’m more religious than you.
Maybe you should keep it clean.
I know I do,
right after I’m done.
I bet you’re wondering
why I am so compelled
if I’m this “irritated”
at the parameters given.
Yes, it's true
I don’t have to engage,
but where’s the fun in that?
With all these
ideals and morals,
and mouth-sexing religions
being worn like patches
to our little motorbike gangs
and throwing crooked hand signals
high into the air,
as unchallenged threats
who are different from our own,
I too may as well
wave my piece around
and shoot off
my unfiltered mouth.
So, Bang, Bang boogie.
Watch me empty a clip
for my homies
and I’ll force you to dance
in the dust
of my lead.
for pondering your reason
for what seems an imitative
and ignorant attempt
at stifling our written words.
Is it that you’re
a spoiled suburban bein
being choked off
by your luxury knitted cardigan
as you black out
losing all sense of reality
while staring down your nose
at “us” regular folk
who are struggling
to get a word in edge-wise?
Are you more of the freaky type,
studying the pleasures of degradation
while placing a jewel of decoration
up your ass?
How does the added pressure
feel from my demeaning tempered glass?
Was I right “in the beginning”
like the great book of Genesis,
that you are in fact
a bible-thumping prudish bitch,
who has yet to learn
where to find
his or her special parts?
Maybe you’re waiting until marriage.
Maybe life's explicit details
are too much for you to handle,
but for us,
it's just life,
and we live it,
then we write about it.
You wrote that you’re a beginner
who wants to improve,
but how can you grow
without being open-minded enough
to handle a little wordplay
or some friendly banter
when you ask us to troll you?
You can’t have it both ways,
Sometimes you gotta get sunburnt
to strengthen the skin
and to do that
you need to go outside
and live a little.
You shouldn’t be afraid
of how the nail will feel,
if you are worth the nail in the first place
because if you’re lucky enough,
someone was listening,
and you can only hope
was important enough
to bring the hammer.
Being hung out to dry
should be an honor,
and as a writer
that’s how I hope to die.
Odin Awaits me
at the gates of Valhǫl
as I float upon the burning sea of my paper
from the war of my words
you asked for this
just don’t forget
in my version,
the troll eats.
Give me the low
beneath our feet,
fired to a
lip or ear,
That is the Truth I'm Picking.
Ugly Lies in Living Beautifully Challenge @Raynstar
It was the early 1990’s. MTV was still relevant (well, to some people), and for some reason, girls did this thing with their bangs, making their foreheads look like they were sprouting something that resembled the mushroom cloud seen over Hiroshima after we dropped the atomic bomb. Due to this strange follicle phenomenon, I would argue big hair was so important at the time, the years 1987-1993 should have been called the Aqua Net era. In fact, I bet if you were savvy enough to have bought stock in hair spray prior to the early 1990s the hairspray consumed by teenage girls and hair metal bands alone probably set you up financially for life. It was during this ozone layer depleting era that I encountered the car with the most character I have ever known. This vehicle belonged to my high school best friend, Doug. It was a 1964 Plymouth Valiant complete with push button transmission. If you are not familiar with the Plymouth Valiant, it was inexpensive, no frills grocery getter. I guess you could say it was the 1960’s equivalent of today’s Hyundai Accent.
Now, Doug named his Valiant, Blue which is funny because to my knowledge, Blue was never actually blue in color. It’s hard to describe the actual color of Blue’s exterior because I don’t think Blue had been washed since before disco became popular. Looking back, I honestly think if Doug would’ve washed that car, it probably would have fallen apart as the dirt, grease and grime had melded into some kind of glue that somehow held Blue together. To the observer, Blue’s actual paint was somewhere between beige and root beer brown. The interior? Blue was upholstered in Duct tape with hints of brownish cushion material. Blue had a unique smell I can only describe as a combination of musty dirt, WD40, weed, and exhaust. I remember the car’s inner workings well because Blue’s advanced age meant spending many hours in the auto part store and under her hood. Blue was powered by a 225 cubic inch slant 6 that could hit freeway speed when the car gods answered our prayers and if breaking the laws of physics could be pled down to a misdemeanor.
While a lot of kids at our high school drove newer Civics, Corollas, and muscle cars built by daddy, Blue was a hand-me-down from Doug’s dad. To say that Blue was ugly is an insult to ugly. Everyone knew that Blue was a jalopy of the lowest order and Doug was proud of it. My first sight of Blue was freshman year, I remember seeing her at the side of their house. Her tires were flat, her windows covered in bird droppings, and weeds somehow found their way through a hole in the floorboards and sprouted to almost steering wheel height. As trailer park larvae I was accustomed to seeing cars in various states of dereliction around. F at least Blue wasn’t up on blocks in the front yard. After that, I didn’t think too much about the sad old bucket. That is until the summer of junior year.
You see, Doug’s family were only slightly better off than my own, so buying Doug a decent, safe, legal, car wasn’t going to happen. However, Doug’s dad was that rare and dying breed of human known as a, Back Yard Mechanic. What Doug’s dad lacked in education, charm, and sobriety he more than made up for in pure mechanical genius. So, that summer Doug and his dad weeded the fox tails out Blue, “Fabricated” new floorboards, freshened up the interior with new duct tape, and somehow managed to Dr. Frankenstein the Valiant with a, “Functioning engine.” In the name of safety, Blue was gifted the best $400 set of tires Doug’s dad’s SEARS card could buy. Finally, after many busted knuckles, a whole lot of foul language, and what was likely a bribe of some kind to the DMV inspection person, Blue was deemed to be road worthy. Oh, but Blue did get a bit of an upgrade. Being a connoisseur of heavy metal, Doug used his birthday money (and likely the allowance money he normally budgeted for skunk weed) to buy an impressive Pioneer stereo system and new speakers. Without a doubt, that the stereo system cost more than the car’s Blue Book value.
With driver’s license in hand, Doug drove Blue over to my place of residence. He was so proud of that car. So, off we went with Megadeth blaring, no air conditioning, but filled with a sense of confidence and freedom one could only get from too much testosterone and what was likely a touch of carbon monoxide poisoning from an exhaust leak near the still somewhat porous floorboards.
Doug would eventually relate the story his dad told him where he found out there was a better than average chance he was conceived in the back seat of Blue. So, Blue was more than just a car. Blue was family, so as a friend, I came to love Blue too. You just couldn’t make me go near the back seat.
For the next two years, Blue carried us to and from high school. At first, Blue was laughed at by our high school peers, but then she became like a puppy born with an extra leg growing out its back. Sure, she was repulsive to behold at first, but eventually her character came out and she became adored by the masses. The personality of that car made us all overlook the omnipresent smell of weed, the total lack of safety equipment, and the fact that she occasionally decided to reject a carburetor, alternator, or muffler (usually at the worse time) for no reason.
We had a lot of fun in that car. Blue successfully made the voyage from Redding to Sacramento to see AC/DC and then later (unbeknownst to our parents) to see them again in San Jose. Blue took us to Whiskey Town Lake for the stereotypical cheap beer and someone losing their virginity in the public restroom party. We also cruised around Hilltop Drive in Redding on Saturday nights. While some blared Young MC or whatever vapid garbage was being spewed on MTV from their mini trucks, we unpopularly blared Slayer, Megadeth, Sabbath, and AC/DC. Though our music caused us to be accused worshipping the devil, we graciously explained that worship was too strong a word, but we were big fans of his work. After all that criticism, guess who would feel the most embarrassment about their musical choices when they grew up? Oh, and before I forget, I’m not sure what magic Blue possessed, but that car somehow drew girls in like copper wire draws in tweakers, meaning Doug rarely needed a vacancy sign for the back seat.
Sadly, I haven’t seen Blue in more than 30 years. As happens as we grow into adulthood, I lost contact with Doug when he joined the military (who said you can’t successfully pray for a clean drug test?). Wherever he is, I would like to think that Doug still has Blue. In fact, I hope Doug’s first born was conceived in that old Valiant’s back seat. I would also like to think that maybe Doug has passed Blue on to one of his kids and his first grandchild (after a thorough cleaning) was or will be conceived in her back seat. Call me old-fashioned but some traditions just need to be carried on.
a beautiful white horse
a braided main
tip toed hooves
hair like satin
eyes like glass
teeth like pearls
it'd be a shame if you fell off
Bringing to Term, Love
The Bringing began with a dream. I do not mean a personal one. As in one from childhood. No, I always saw myself as Cécile in Bonjour Tristesse. Wiry, hardened by trial and too scrawny to carry my own ghost to term, never mind a child. Had you inquired casually, to make small talk like among foolish girlfriends whether I planned to get married and have kids, the answer would be a determined Absolutely Not on both counts.
I'd looked myself through and through, and there was no doubt. I would belong to no one. There're certain things that knowing oneself well does not allow-- Honesty-- if you permit the error of youth, on my part. Half-truths. The truth being that we bury parts of ourselves, from ourselves-- our inadequacies, secret hopes, second thoughts. We build a cover. Pretending we don't need anyone, or anything.
My mental scissors work very well. For a while.
And so, the mortal enemy, Time, passed. I was older. My energies highly dispersed among odd jobs, and obscure partial realities.
I seldom dream. When I do it is a vivid alternate reality that I take perhaps all too seriously.
I dreamt, that my now husband was at a breaking point, and needed a child. That I, in my audacity, would fulfill this need for him and turn his sinking spirit around. I took all the necessary steps, and Life co-signed.
The day I conceived I immediately sensed something was different. And I was elated. I just knew. Everything in my body said Working on it. It took weeks for the little plastic stick to show a sign of pregnancy. Being already hormonal, I cried at every negative. Until that double line marker finally showed. August 15th. Then it was only happy tears.
I felt, with all humility, that I had succeeded in something that I had been convinced would never be granted me. That I would have let pass me by. My husband felt the same way. Ecstatic. Blessed. And afraid. This was after all a whole new level of responsibility.
Many have said that they loved being pregnant, something to do with the freedom it allows, physically. True the relief of already being prego makes for great sex. Up to that point, you withhold something of yourself from yourself, from your partner. A negation in spite of all the action that does not allow for a full Yes.
Eating for two, is not what it seems. I did not double my intake. I increased mindfulness.
I was ultra careful in what we fed the embryo. Mostly words. The baby was spoken to personally, by name, internally and aloud, and read to, to ensure that he would know the voice of his Mama and Papa, and feel that he was already a welcome part of this world. He rejected sweet things, communicating by waves of nausea, and anyway I stuck to a clean healthy diet of mostly raw fruits and vegetables, whole grains, nuts and seeds, and water. Morning sickness was worst during the end of the first trimester. I didn't actually have any cravings till I started breastfeeding (and then it was alternately peanuts and watermelon) and this was consistent through two years. I learned to live mostly on water. That made the milk. To this date, Remy loves peanuts and is indifferent to watermelon.
I gained 33 pounds, maxing at 137. Seven pounds being baby. After delivery, 126lbs and within a few months was back to pre-pregnancy weight. Remy was invisible till about 7 months. He had been cradled sideways so that I hardly showed at all. Until suddenly he rotated facing forward. Now we could see a hand or foot pressing out as he shifted in his quarters. It was like, overnight, to the public eye, boom I was finally expecting.
He apparently had it good inside and didn't want to come out. The doctors were pushing for induced labor and declared April 20 as the prescribed day. Remy was "due" on my mother's birthday, April 19. I was adamant about him not sharing Hitler's b-day. And I'd rather not Mom's either, but that was a lesser evil. After tax-day, I was very anxious. I did not want a chemical induction.
My husband took action. He said, "You have to do those things they said not to..."
We jumped on the bed. Chased each other up and down the stairs. Nothing.
"Hm. Let's go for a hike."
We walked from our place on Upland to E. Main, down Arthur St. all the way to the end of Charles and made a left into a wooded trail that now had begun to weather into a ravine. It was precarious, sloping down and around, with rocks and exposed roots. It led down to a gravel farm like road. We took a right, then cut a left through the marsh, over a narrow trail with a small rail-less dirt covered overpass spanning a tiny but bubbling creek with frogs and fish. The path led to a deep dark woods.
I shook my head. Nothing yet. We turned around and hiked back. Took about an hour.
Around 5am I sat up in bed. I had a cramp. I went to pee. I was spotting blood. My heart raced. I waited on the edge of the bed. I prayed everything was ok. We had our mattress on the floor, not having a bed frame. My mother-in-law was with us, sleeping in the room next door. My husband was asleep. I watched him. I sat and I waited. There was threat of heavy snow. The clouds were pregnant, but nothing was falling yet.
It was April 17.
By 7am I was starting to have distant contractions. My husband stirred, and I said I think this is it, we did it. He smiled in sleepy disbelief and relief and concern. Reality sunk in. He readied himself and Mom. I paced the house like the shadow of a cat. I called into work to call out "sick." They wished me luck!
By 10am I was very concerned. I wanted to be taken to the hospital. The contractions were close enough, not horrible, about every 5 minutes. It was snowing. That was my biggest worry. It had been snowing for about an hour and was sticking. My mother-in-law called the hospital. There was no urgency, except my fear of getting stuck on the road. The hospital is ten minutes away.
We arrived. I was admitted. My husband stayed at my bedside. The woman next to me was unbearable, cussing non-stop into her cell phone, telling someone that she is being sent home because she is not sufficiently dilated. Demanding that since she is here, she wants and induction now. It was terrifying. I breathed through all my contractions, squeezing Bunny's hand. The attendant arrived. I was stripped and check-- sufficiently dilated-- 5cm. Relief. Pain. And, the wait.
I had already determined I was taking no pain killers. If this was real I was going to feel it all. Around 1pm they wheeled me into the delivery room. Finally. I was feeling great and thought I had everything under control. So wrong. I remember coldly rationalizing and previsualizing and telling my husband, months ago, that I thought it would be best if he was not in the room. Not that I wanted to rob him of the experience or myself of emotional support. I had tried to visualize. I was mostly right.
The realism of childbirth is above all an exercise of humility.
Somewhere between 1:15 and 2pm my water broke. I was allowed to wander around a bed like platform with a gymnastics bar across horizontally. For grasping on to during contractions and help with pushing no doubt. Somebody mopped the water. It had a sweet smell. There were traces of blood. The wandering must look from the side like a ranting mad woman, who is panting, and then loses control of bowels. Horror. Tears streaming while the medical staff says it is perfectly normal.
I alternated between Zen meditation and Transcendental. Zen during contractions. TM during the gaps. Contractions about a minute apart. Lasting about a minute to a minute and a half. (The difference is in Zen you aim for total awareness. In TM for single focus.)
They want to know if I want an epidermal?
If not now, then it will become too late--- No. No. NO. DON'T TOUCH ME. MAYBE I WAS SWEARING I DON'T F*CKING REMEMBER.
The doctor comes. FINALLY. "Are you ready to push?"
READY. I'M READY. LET'S GET THIS THING OUT ALREADY!! READY? OF COURSE I'M READY.
In reality, I have no idea what that means. I'll know soon enough. Now they are very concerned. The baby heart monitor shows the baby's heartrate dropping. Terror. The face of my husband. Defeat.
"We think we need to move to Cesarean section." They're talking about saving the baby. The ideal of natural childbirth is shot. I feel like a failure. But of course, it's not about me.
SAVE THE BABY!
They give me some idiotic forms to sign. Seriously. Release. Acknowledge that in the process of this treatment you are about to receive you may die or sustain injury for which we will not be held liable.
I sign. Tears are streaming. Contractions are consistent, but that's not why I'm crying.
The nurse is telling me that they now have to give the epidermal. It hits me. My body is now in full PUSH mode. I can't describe the feeling except to say that I have no control over that force out and down. The baby wants OUT.
"Don't push! don't push!"
I CAN'T NOT YOU HAVE TO GET THAT SHOT TO ME NOW MY BODY WILL NOT COOPERATE.
They give me the shot. I am paralyzed, waist down. I feel nothing but Fear.
I'm on a platform being carted to the operating room. They stick me behind some blue curtains. I ask if my husband can stay? He asks if I want him to? I burst into a new bout of tears. Of course I do! DON'T LEAVE ME HERE. I'm not rationale anymore.
I can feel the slicing of the knives regardless of the epidermal and local anesthesia.
Something goes wrong. I can tell by the shift in tone and sudden slight urgency in request for tools. FUCK. They punctured my bladder. And I can't hear the baby. WHERE IS HE?
"They've got him out. I see him..."
"Why isn't he making any noise?" I am sinking in spirits. I see him. The baby is blue as Krishna. They are carrying him to a sink, umbilical cord trailing.
And then, "Whaaa!"
One short cry. He's ALIVE. Thanks be to God the Almighty the Merciful.
They patch me up. They put the baby to my bare chest for a few minutes. He feels and smells amazing. Flesh and blood. Mine. His Papa is beside himself. He sees nothing but this amazing miracle. I remain paralyzed. He tells me I look beautiful and kisses me. They wheel me to some narrow compartment on a different floor. The baby remains for observation near the delivery area.
I know my husband needs to go eat something. I ask him to press my toes a moment before he leaves. I have this fear that I'll never walk. When he leaves, I start to feel something in my feet again and I fight through to keep wiggling and gaining movement. A lot of time passes alone in this corridor. Sounds of beeps and peripheral hospital noises. Someone comes to tell me that I will be three days in the hospital. That they've fixed me up with a catheter, that I'll have to wear it for a couple weeks. She shows me the baggie, where I can watch urine dripping in. She says I'll need to empty it when it gets full to this line. I follow the tube with my hand and trace its insertion into my right side. I don't feel the stitches of the C-Section but I can put my hand over the bandages. The anesthesia is still working.
The pain hits me later. I refuse the Ibuprofen and something stronger that they are pushing on me.
I want to see my baby. My husband is with me. I urge him to go home to sleep. He has to work the next day. I remain awake through the night. The baby sleeps, nurses, sleeps. The nurse helps with diapers and swaddling. Fortunately, the baby latches and eats. But his weight drops. Not enough to stop released from the hospital, god bless but enough for the staff to send in a person to lecture on lactation and another to strongly recommend donor's milk or formula. NO.
My milk hasn't come in. The baby is drinking colostrum, which is excellent in my opinion. The benefits of which are so vital that I want him to have as much as he possibly can. Milk can wait. I am confident it will come. I refuse to be rushed this time. I'm beginning to think I was rushed into the C-Section, but I'm in a lot of pain and don't trust my temper. I know I need to give the best impression that I'm ok to be able to go home. Fortunately, the idiotic perquisite for bowel movement is lifted, and that will not be an obstacle. I refuse to eat so my body can focus on healing.
They released me from the hospital Sunday. Remy was born on a Friday. I returned to work Monday. Covid has been a blessing. I am teaching virtually and at that time of high alert they were letting us work from home. I didn't qualify for Maternity Leave, so work was a given. The catheter came out May 10th. The catheter was the worst struggle. The incision and rearranging of organs was painful too and continued to make walking difficult.
My husband had no idea how much pain I was in. He wanted to give me a warm embrace, a bear hug, I howl, neither of us expecting such a reaction; a day after delivery, a week after return "...I will come to you," I whisper. And I did, always position myself in the most careful position to avoid grimace and misunderstanding.
He said, "I really thought you'd be good in a day or two."
I push through. Breastfeeding every three to four hours. Then every six. Holding the baby hurts my insides. I don't tell my husband how much I hurt until it is over and behind me. Sex felt like a knife for about a year. A shock because after all it was a C-Section, and that healed on me like on a dog within three weeks. At least, on the skin. I have a minimal battle scar; and the puncture mark from the catheter.
But the baby is amazing. He makes everyone so happy and filled with love.
It makes it all worthwhile.
She used to switch on the sun
Making it shine especially for us.
Now the chalice of P.G Tips
Her spindle finger caress
Too weak to bring to lips.
Once a crossword fiend,
Now every clue begins,
She sits upon her
Fire proof throne,
In the communal area
Yet all alone.
She waits for God or Godot ,
While round about her
Aproned ladies fuss,
and feed their flock
as she had once done.
I leave her looking
And make it
To the door
Before I cry.
She’s far too
to hear my
© Bernard Pearson
There aren’t too many things I seriously regret. This is really only because once I start, how do I stop? But right now, half-in and half-out of bed, only a large t-shirt on, my hair sliding out of my bun, I feel something worse than regret. Shame.
It’s like snakes on my skin, my hand beginning to shake as I clutch my phone and reread the email. And reread it again. And again.
We regret to inform you. We will not be moving forward with the screen adaptation of The Lakeside Haunt. Luck on future endeavors. Thank you.
What a load of bullshit.
I cannot believe this. Darian and I got on so well! Too well? Is that possible? Is the book not good enough? Was it that damn Tessa lady? Were they ever even considering me in the first place? Was I doomed to fail?
It’s barely nine a.m. and my life is crashing down around me, and I haven’t even put on clothes yet.
“You’re the one who told me we have this in the bag,” I bark into my phone, which is propped up against my face with one shoulder. Both my hands are occupied holding up expensive ballgowns to my body that I would never have an occasion to wear. Other than a movie premiere, perhaps. Oh wait.
Bram’s voice is aggressively calm. “I told you, Masie, that you had a good shot. It was never a guarantee. And listen, there will be more people and better deals down the road, we both know that.”
“Oh, we both know?” I snap, setting down a silver-sequin number that has a price tag almost as long as my credit card number. I wave over the saleswoman and ask her to grab me a medium. I’m pissed that the small is visibly too small. “Bram, I believe it’s your job to set this shit up, and now I don’t even know what I did wrong? They barely even gave me a chance.”
I can hear him exhaling through his nose, and picture for a brief moment his lovely nose, and punching it squarely. Not that I’m very handy with my fists, but a girl can daydream. “I set it up, yes. But you’re not free of responsibility. Maybe a more businesslike attitude will–”
“Will what?” I cut him off. The saleswoman is back, and I grab the dress and shuffle into a changing room with it and three others, putting Bram on speaker phone. “Are you saying if I knew everyone’s name and regurgitated business jargon it would be a done deal?”
I strip and put the sequin dress over my head, struggling with the scratchy and unforgiving fabric. “No, Masie. I think we both know that I’m saying maybe you shouldn’t have slept with the representative we were talking to.”
I yank the dress down and squint into the mirror: sparkly, but god is the bust loose. It looks like a paper bag. Good lord, it’s terrible. I let out a pained wail, and Bram has raised his voice but I can’t hear him, and the saleswoman knocks and knocks on the door. She finds me in a ball on the floor, one hand still punching at the hang up button on my phone screen even though the call is long since over, and my other hand wrapped around my skull to keep it in place.
There’s a horrible high-pitched whining noise, and it’s me, so I stop. My back is cold and bare, and I move my shoulder and hear another seam rip. The entire back of the dress is torn.
The saleswoman looks down at me, not a hair out of place, and informs me that she’ll be charging it to my card. She turns on her heel and leaves, shutting the changing room door behind me.
I don’t normally do this, but I cry. Because if ever you’re going to cry, you should do it alone, while sitting on the floor, wearing a medium-sized disco ball.
Bram has invited me to a local coffee shop, which is always a bad sign. It's the equivalent of meeting on neutral ground; we both know it's wrong to have a screaming match in the middle of someone enjoying their latte macchiato. I'm usually willing to forgo manners, when it suits me, but I need respect in this particular coffee shop or this one hot barista named Enrique might stop giving me the extra scones. And Bram wouldn't willingly come here because he is, like a freak of nature, not a fan of coffee.
I'm here early, which means I'm here half an hour early. Bram arrives everywhere fifteen minutes before the scheduled time, and today I was determined to beat him. I think I know what this is about. I haven't turned in any progress on Great Perfect Tides. I'm supposed to be writing it, I know, but I can't find the energy. Every time I have something else to do it's an excuse not to write, and every time I don't have anything to do I stare at a blank page until my eyes blur.
If Bram is surprised to see me here before he was, his face doesn't show it. His mouth is in a neutral line, and his sea-blue eyes briefly take me in before he sits down across from me. I push a blood-orange tea towards him, one hand still curled around my coffee.
"Thanks," he says, accepting the drink. I wait for him to continue, but he clams up and stares at his fingers, splayed out on the tabletop. He looks braced for something, which either means there's bad news for both of us, or the news for me is so bad that he's steeling himself for my reaction. Unfortunately, I expect the latter.
I cross one leg over the other, wondering if I should've worn something more loud. The plaid palazzo pants haven't gotten any attention yet. "Well?" I prompt.
"Maisie," Bram starts, like this is a business letter. He's staring me right in the eye, but he's got that blank gaze on his face. The one that makes me think maybe he's a robot. My mouth twitches into a frown.
“Bram,” I say back in a fake-serious voice.
Suddenly, his face softens, and I get the feeling he’s saying something other than what he’d meant to. “Are you ok?”
I laugh and raise my coffee to my lips, briefly thinking about the dream I had last night. I don’t remember much, but there had been this monstrous dog with no eyes that kept biting my arm and my sister was there but wouldn’t help me and she just kept grinning. “Is it the outfit? Too boring? I don’t usually try to impress you, but I’ll try harder next time,” I say from behind my coffee.
Bram looks away from me and his shoulders drop a little. I’m mad at myself that he’s so clearly disappointed in me, but what the hell kind of a question is that?
“You’re going on a trip,” he tells me evenly. He hasn’t looked back at me, and instead is pulling out a slip of paper from his messenger bag. I realize as he puts it on the table between us that it’s a plane ticket.
I put my coffee down, intrigued. Good lord, he’s such a downer. He makes vacation sound like a prison sentence. “Excellent! When are we going? What are we doing?” I do usually hate business but if it’s New York or somewhere equally as glamorous I’m down. And I love to do vacation shopping.
“It’s just you.”
I pick up the ticket slowly. “Ok? Who am I meeting?” This is both unusual and mysterious. I kinda like it. Then I squint at the ticket. “Illinois? Windthrow Point, Illinois? That’s not even a real place.” I glance at Bram, who’s fixing the button on his shirt sleeve. “This is a joke, right?”
“It’s not a joke.” His grim face, also, makes it clear that this is not a joke.
I give an incredulous laugh. “Ok, well I’m not going to the middle of nowhere.” I push the ticket back across the table.
Bram sets a hand over the slip of paper. “You need to take a break, Masie. It’s already set up. You’re going.”
I lean back in my chair, crossing one leg over the other. “Yeah, ok. Whatever you say. Oh wait, you’re not in charge of my personal life.” I let out a soft chuckle. “No thank you.”
“You’re leaving in two days.” He’s so fucking monotone.
I stand, and I'll have to apologize to Enrique, because I actually laugh and take the lid off my coffee, ever so careful so as not to drip any from the lid. Then. Then I chuck the cup upside-down onto the ticket, and Bram doesn’t have enough time to move his hand, and he yells “shit!” and everyone’s looking at my plaid palazzo pants now as I strut out of the shop.
I’m shouldering my way down the sidewalk, breathing heavily. Probably from the exercise, god, I should exercise more.
“Masie! Damn it, slow down!” There’s footsteps and I bump into an old man who has big glasses and glares at me, and then Bram’s got a hand on my forearm. When I stop, he lets go of me like I’m poisonous.
I want to apologize about burning his hand, but then he says, “I just want you to get out of California for a while. I don’t need to know everything that’s going on in your life, but you can’t go on like this.” His eyes are searching mine. He–he pities me.
I recoil from him and keep walking. I’m not going anywhere in particular. He keeps up. “Like this? Like what, Bram? I have money, and a house, and a career. I’m hot and single and desirable. I don’t really see what the problem is.” I make sure to sound just a twinge irritated, but not too bothered. That’s right, I’m Masie Clements and nothing bothers me. I’m un-botherable.
“Masie. Masie, you used to drunk call me once a month–which, let’s be honest, is already too often–and you’ve drunk called me twelve times in the last week.” I’m not looking at him, but he sounds earnest. He’s so snivelly and annoying.
“I’m not an alcoholic, if that's what you're implying. I just go to a lot of fun parties,” I tell him coolly. “If you need me to define fun party for you, since you’ve probably never–” I realize he’s no longer beside me, and I look behind me. Bram’s got his arms folded, which is irritating because he’s got nice arms that look extra nice like this: shirt fabric stretched over the muscle. His mouth’s in a tight line. I backtrack and stare at him like he’s the dramatic one.
“I won’t force you. But you should think about it.” His voice is rough, and I realize he’s angry. Well and truly. He pulls a coffee-stained plane ticket out of his pocket and hands it to me. “Don’t call me,” is all he says when he leaves.
I clutch the ticket and look up at the sun, resisting the urge to curse out loud and desperately fighting the tears trying to well in my eyes.
pt 1: https://www.theprose.com/post/642933/living-in-the-moment
pt 2: https://www.theprose.com/post/708516/darian-tv-producer-russel
little by little
I'm breaking inside
but you'll never see
because I always hide
and I'll pull down the mask
every once in a while
but only enough for you
to see me fake smile
but be careful
cuz I'll hurt you if you don't
disappear just like that
and if you choose to try to love me
i'd say to watch your back
but confrontation is my enemy
and apathy my friend
no one see how often
i am walking on the edge
i am fight away from taking
a bottle of Benadryl
or taking a gun to
make sure i still feel
because i don't think i do
so kill me if I'm wrong
but maybe 6 feet under
is where I belong
A white wooden box
satin and stung
because the lord knows
I'm not that strong