They say connection is a drug
a buzz that binds the soul anew.
The oxytocin fills his brain
and fuses his heart onto you.
But then connection starts to fail
and desperation makes him fear.
You hide your tears behind the veil
because he always wants you near.
Attachment has become a cell
you’re locked away without a key.
To outside viewers all is well
you’re drowning in your misery.
What once were harsh words now are blows.
You hide your pain behind a wall.
The worst thing is that no one knows
how much you ache, how far you’ll fall.
While he’s afraid he’ll lose his clout,
you are fearing for your life,
but he will never let you out.
You are his victim and his wife.
#fear #attachment #separation #divorce #domesticviolence #connection #violence #lonliness #metoo #addiction #spousalabuse
THE PRESONIC MAN
What would you have done if you were in my shoes?
It happened suddenly. One night, I had gone to sleep, a normal man. The next morning I got up, a thoroughly abnormal individual.
At that time, I was a moderately well-to-do writer. I had no living relatives and lived alone in my apartment.
That morning, I switched on the TV. A cartoon was being shown but the sound I heard was not the sound of a cartoon but of news being read. Was something wrong with the TV?
Had two channels somehow got mixed up? Then I heard the news reader announce the date. I sat bolt-upright. How could it be the 25th of May, today? Yesterday, when I had gone to sleep, it had been the 20th. What was going on? Had I slept for four days – a modern day Rip Van Winkle? I ran outside, picked up the newspaper lying on my doorstep and looked at the date. Twenty first of May.
So, after all, I had not slept for four days.
That was just the beginning. That whole day, I kept hearing voices: Voices of my friends, my neighbors, the voice of my sweet heart, and my own voice. What was going on? Was I going mad? But there was no insanity in the voices I heard.
I thought hard, struggling against a rising sense of panic. Slowly, almost shyly, a tiny idea raised its head. I had a hypothesis. It was fantastic. Nevertheless, I decided to test it.
Next morning, I switched on the television. Once again, the picture on the tube didn't match the sounds. I heard the date being announced, and it was the twenty sixth of May. Hypothesis proved!
No matter how fantastic, it was probably true. My sense of hearing had extended four days and a couple of hours into the future.
First, I went into panic. Then, recovering, I quietly sat at my writing table for hours, mentally working out the ramifications of my condition. There were various things, big and small, to take care of. For instance, if someone rang the doorbell, I wouldn’t hear it. I had to have some kind of visual indication for it. Then there was the phone. This was one instrument that would become almost totally useless to me. And what about conversation with people? I could talk to them and they would hear me but when they talked, I would have heard it four days ago. How then to have a coherent conversation? The only solution was to tell everyone that I had gone totally deaf. Let them communicate with me via writing or sign language.
And life went on with all its strangeness.
My pre-sonic condition had its advantages. I made it a habit of hearing the business news bulletins on the TV, and armed with advance knowledge of the market, I started playing the stocks. Inevitably my income became healthier and healthier. In turn, I became quite a philanthropist and had no end of fun.
No one knew about my abnormality till I heard himself telling my sweetheart about it and didn’t hear her scream or panic. So four days later, I did tell her about it and she, after a brief adjustment period, accepted it and said so in writing.
And one day, I wrote a note to her, asking her to marry me. She accepted and soon we became man and wife and lived happily for quite some time...
...till the time – yesterday - that I heard my wife crying with grief. And this grief was over my death.
I immediately got busy straightening out my things, preparing my will, loving and cherishing my wife.
Today, I heard my friends come to bury me.
And then my world went dead silent for some time.
And then I heard a terrible voice say: "Who is your God?"
And now I have three days to find the correct answer to that question.
*takes a deep breath*
Thomas: There we go. She’s ready!
He hears a knock at his door. Thomas rushes to answer it. Ah, she made it, Lady Victoria, and right on time.
Thomas: Just one moment.
He opens the door after a short while. She shakes her head. Maybe she should have stayed at her place, and told him that she had to be up bright ‘n’ early in the mornin’.
Lady Victoria: *smiles* So, what did you want to show me?
Thomas: *excitedly* Please, come in.
He guides Lady Victoria to his work table. There she sees~ a box of needles, bundles of colourful yarn (some bundles lying on the floor), packs of assorted wigs (with different colours, & styles- wavy, curly, nappy, straight, kinky, coily).
Right in the center of Thomas’ table, Lady Victoria spots a doll smiling at her. She blinks and gasps. The doll has her exact black pearly starry eyes, same petite nose, her dark maroon lips & neatly designed rosy curls.
Thomas: I...made this....for..you *laughs nervously & smiles*
Lady Victoria steps back. She walks backwards away from Thomas. His smile turns into a frown.
Thomas: Lady Victoria..say something!
He grabs her arm and pulls her toward him. She tells him to let her go. He starts to laugh and hugs her tight.
Thomas: I’m never letting you go!
Lady Victoria screams, Thomas uses his hands and twists her neck. He falls to his knees with Lady Victoria in his arms.
He yells and lowers his head. This is what he was afraid of.
Thomas cleans his work table and places everything back in its rightful place. Ah, he almost forgot the doll.
He opens a trunk and tosses the new doll in with the rest of the other dolls. Such a shame that she didn’t like his gift to her.
Thomas drags Lady Victoria’s body. He opens a secret passage in his room that’s by the fireplace.
He goes down a stone staircase that leads to a small windowless room. Thomas turns on the lights and shuts the door. He places Lady Victoria in a long black bag and closes it tightly with a rope.
Thomas tosses the bag onto the pile of other black bags. He turns off the light, & closes the door behind him. Before he walks away, he locks the door with a key that he gets from his wallet.
He thinks to himself, ’’Lady Victoria has really inspired me to carry on my job.
‘‘Now I just need to find another person to inspire the next creation for my work.’’
“I Know You”
It’s slow, even for a Tuesday. The rain slicks sidewalks, streets, doorways, every corner of Olympia. The homeless shelter where they can, under bridges, in the parking lot behind the abandoned industrial park, protected by flimsy tarps, donated tents, anything that isn’t soaked or flooded. People scurry past the picture window, heads down, hands in pockets. No one carries an umbrella. Northwesterners can’t be bothered.
At the end of the bar George Thomas sits solidly on his favorite stool, watching the ballgame on the screen mounted to the wall. The volume on the television is off. The players stand poised, then move suddenly in response to the pitch, soundlessly, as if in a dream. At a four-top near the door the Banners hunch over their frothy mugs. They’re newlyweds, regulars, uneasy in each other’s company. Serenity asks if they need anything else, and the wife, Lisa, looks at her with pain in her eyes as her husband says they’re fine.
The Banners are a stellar example of why people shouldn’t marry. Once that ring goes on, it becomes a chain, Fidel says, which is why he and Serenity have lived together for twenty-six months with a clear understanding that no knot will be tied. He watches the game; Serenity polishes glasses that she’s removed from the dishwasher. The hard water leaves spots. She’s added that special liquid that’s designed to take care of them and never does. She’s told Fidel about it several times. He tells her the glassware is her department.
He’s a good bartender. He hasn’t been stumped by an order in a long time. The book he keeps under the counter was his father’s, who worked in one of the big hotels up in Seattle before he shot himself in the head. Fidel doesn’t talk about it, but Serenity knows Fidel’s mother made the man miserable. She wanted things he couldn’t give her, and in time, his sense of guilt lead him to pull the trigger.
Serenity’s tired. She works too hard. She cooks, cleans, manages their money, when they have any. They’re usually broke. The rent on the bar takes a huge chunk. Business has been bad for months. Last year, when her mother died, Fidel closed the place for two days. He said it was the right thing to do, but the lost revenue added to her grief.
The Banners go on their way. George Thomas has another beer. The baseball game continues. At the bottom of the seventh, three young women come through the door, shrieking, laughing, running their hands through their soaking hair. They’re dressed up, high heels, stockings, lots of jewelry. Maybe they’re students, but Serenity doesn’t think so. Students at the local college shun fashion, feminine trappings, no glitz and glam for them. Maybe they’re down from Seattle, though there’s much more to do up there.
They take a table. Fidel is out from behind the bar before Serenity can get there. He offers to hang up their coats. The blonde on the right give hers to him without a word; the brunette says the back of the chair is fine for her; the blonde on the left hands over her leather jacket with a smile the size of the Ritz.
Serenity thinks of her own hair, which is half blonde, half black. The die job is working its way down, her God-given raven shade replacing what came from a bottle. Fidel doesn’t like her with light hair. She doesn’t look like herself, he says. Because Fidel is handsome, he wants other people to be attractive, too. It bothers him when they’re not, especially women. He won’t have any trouble with the three at the table. It’s clear they know they’re good-looking. It’s almost as if they’re competing for who will win the pageant.
Left Blondie’s a shoe-in. Her sweater is tight, her breasts ample, her neck long and slim. The crucifix dangling from a thin gold chain only adds to the allure. Fidel is a lapsed Catholic, and used to tell tales of what Catholic girls are really like.
He takes their drink order, and scurries back to the bar. He’s amped, almost nervous, and splashes soda water down the front of his denim shirt. Serenity goes over to the table, and asks the girls for ID. They stare at her. She asks again. Wallets are exhumed, licenses slid out and handed over. Right Blondie is Cheryl, age twenty-two. Brunette is Megan, age twenty-four, and Left Blondie is Jill, age twenty-three. Serenity reads Jill’s last name.
“I know you,” she says. Jill stares at her sullenly, the brilliant smile gone.
“I don’t think so.”
“Your family lives on Division.”
“Who are you?”
“Nobody you’d know. But I knew your older sister, Lacey.”
Jill holds out her hand for her license. Serenity returns it, and the others, too.
Fidel appears, drinks on a tray, which he deposits with a flourish. The women laugh. Serenity doesn’t. Back at the bar, she says that’s Lacey Sandhurst’s baby sister over there.
“You remember. You worked on her car.”
“Oh, yeah. ’67 Mustang. Lived down the road. Saw me tinkering with my Chevy. Asked if I could help.” He wipes down the bar, leans into it hard.
“You never met her, did you?”
“I thought I ought to, you talked about her so much.”
“Just about the car.”
Lacey showed up at her door one night when Fidel was out with a friend, looking at a truck he wanted to buy. She played it cool, and asked if she could come in because their power’s out and she needed to use the phone. The square shape in the front pocket of her blue jeans looked a lot like a cell phone to Serenity. She let her in anyway. Lacey asked if Fidel were home. Serenity said no, he’d be back in a while. Lacey said to tell him she needed to talk to him, and he knew what it was about. Serenity said she’d be sure he got the message.
She never told him about the visit. They’d be watching TV, and his cell would buzz in his pocket. He’d look at the screen, and go into the other room to take the call. He’d say it was his friend with another truck he might look at, or wanting to borrow some tools. Once he said it was the bank calling back about the loan he’d applied for. It was after eight in the evening. Serenity said that banker was dedicated as hell. Not long after, the Mustang and Lacey were gone. The phone calls stopped. The loan fell through, he said, but Serenity has set up online access to their accounts. The loan came in and went to Lacey. Five thousand dollars. Just like that.
Serenity figures it was to get rid of a baby, not to have and raise it. Kids cost a lot more than five grand. She hopes she was wrong, because she doesn’t like the idea. People have a right to be born, don’t they? And to be happy? The Declaration of Independence even says so. And as for the liberty it also guarantees, boy, does Fidel take that one to heart.
Now here’s Jill, who looks so much like Lacey it’s driving Fidel nuts. Serenity bets he recognized her the minute she came through the door. Did she pick their bar because she knew Fidel worked there? That seems like a stretch. But Fidel is a man women go out of their way for.
Her mother warned her. “He’s got a roving eye,” she’d say. After she got sick, the comments were harsher. “All charm and no personality.” Her mother never got to know him, not the way Serenity knew him. And what she knows is that he loves her truly, but can’t stay true.
Women leave men like that for less. Women stay with them if there are children or money on the table, neither of which Serenity has.
George Thomas says it’s time to pack it in. He pays his tab, and meanders across the room in a slight zig-zag. He stops by the table where the women sit. He bids them a lovely evening, and makes for the door.
“God’s sure crying tonight,” he calls back over his shoulder. No one answers. He leaves.
At the bar, Fidel tells Serenity he has an idea. Something to boost revenue, bring people in, even on bad nights like this.
“Ladies Night,” he says. “You know, half-priced drinks for women.”
“So? If they come, the guys will, too.”
“Call it something else.”
“What’s wrong with you? I think it’s a great idea.”
“I don’t suppose that table had anything to do with it?”
“What, them? No. I’ve been thinking about it for a while.”
The three women order another round. Half an hour later, they want a third. They’re visibly tipsy. Jill has her eye on Fidel. She’s flushed. The ball game concludes. Looks like the Astros won. Fidel tells Serenity the ladies are too drunk to drive, and he’s going to call them a cab.
When he goes to the table to make his offer, they all groan, protest, giggle, and flirt. Jill says maybe he’s right, but she’s got her car a block over. She hands him they key. They all live near each other. He can drop her off last. One of her brothers can drive him home. Fidel confirms where she lives, and says he can walk, it’s only about a quarter mile. She says it’s raining. He says he doesn’t mind getting wet.
“You look like the cat who got the cream,” Serenity says when Fidel fills her in.
“Can you close up on your own?”
“I’ve done it before.”
He leans in for a quick kiss. She gives him her cheek.
“I won’t be late,” he says.
“Bet you will.”
“Why do you say that?”
“I know you.”
He doesn’t hear. He gets his jacket on, runs Jill’s credit card for the tab, hands it back, and helps them into their coats. They walk out, and head up the sidewalk, four across, arm-in-arm. Serenity stands at the door, watching them go. She turns the sign on the door from Open to Closed, and flips the latch. Before she lowers the blinds on the window she looks up at the sky, where the rain has stopped, the clouds have moved on, and a riot of stars are thrown in an ordered chaos, like wishes that will never come true.
Lips are moving around the room and the words flow easy from laughing faces to my deaf ears. Giving them what they want, I show my white teeth, nod, and stare attentively, pretending I care about what they have to say, while my distant eyes can only focus on his every move. The way he swirls his Jack Daniels on ice, caressing the top of the glass, extending his pinky in a salute, gesturing his arousal. Leaning in, as if the background music is somehow at fault, it is just a lame excuse for him to move closer, when he says to her the words he once said to me, "come again?" I know he did, even though I can't read his lips from where I stand, paralyzed.
Lifting the glass slowly, taking a long sip, his head moves seductively with the music, courtingly. The song ends and he licks a drop of invisible poison from his lower lip, then curling it in, he bites, his upper teeth caressing the skin of his chin, back and forth, a baby in its rocker. Her arms are crossed in front of her slinky black dress, partially covering her ample bosom only because she has no idea what to do with them when he moves his forefinger onto one of her arms, landing like a spider blown out of its web. The finger travels her bare skin, uninvited, and she releases her arms, surrendering.
One voice alone, my own constant companion, speaks and listens. The only one I hear. It tells me to scream, "Get your hands off of her," but I don't. I stay with them on the other side of the room, pretending, with the bald boss whose breath smells, I know because he is too close, and his fat wife who doesn't watch, doesn't care, holds onto her Birkin bag. The only voice I know wants to ask her. How? How can you be just you? You and your Birkin bag, able to turn your back while your husband betrays you, in the same way, right in front of your face.
I want to erase it all. Rewind. Not back to our drive over to his office Christmas party. Further back. Way back to when my mother's door was closed and I didn't know what was going on on the other side and I was all alone out there to fend for myself and if only I could rewrite it all. But it is my story. Me and my story. Me, alone with the voice in my head telling me I'm worthless, I deserve to be cheated on, but he, and she, just a number, will never know I watch. My mind will watch long after it's over and on our drive back, he will sense my anger. He always does, but he will have no idea why. When he calls me crazy, he doesn't have to because the voice has already made that clear. I see them, the touch, their bite. It bites me so many times I lose count.
Fearfully Attached (A Limerick)
A fatigued conjoined twin once exclaimed,
“I must sleep, but I fret at your aims:
I’m afraid if I snooze,
you might bisect our fuse!”
Said her sis, “Wouldn’t you do the same?”
Copper thoughts of tarnished sense
Saliferous; words slow to speak
Aged in sorrow’s elements
Draw jaded tears down bronze-hued cheeks
For which worth is it you’d fail?
Treasured tokens; foolish pride?
Win or lose; heads or tails
Patina rusts the heart, oxide
Regret and Wet Wings
I think I’ve done something wrong, touched something that didn’t want to be touched, and I cannot pretend that I didn’t want to, because I’ve done it now.
She was a moth, a real live ghostly white moth on the wet bike path pavement, fluttering helpless, one rainsoaked wing stuck to the ground. I stopped and watched and thought that I couldn’t do anything and continued talking to my friend with the contented notion that I would be useless here. And then an inconvenient pang of guilt weaseled its way into my stomach and I decided that I couldn’t just let her die, rugged-terrain treads zigzagging over her thorax as she lay there, defenseless. I turned back. I crouched down. And I tried my darnedest to coax her onto my finger. I felt a quiet triumph when those antennae felt the crook of my index finger and she slowly ventured up onto my hand: she trusts me. In truth, she probably just thought I was a handy twig or blade of grass, something to move her to higher ground, but I felt accepted in that moment by this tiny, frail, desperate creature. She had deemed me safe. From there, my friend instructed me to place her on a hearty sprig of milkweed. This is where things became complicated. Playing the savior, it turns out, is significantly easier than truly being the savior; being takes follow-through. Being the savior means not removing the moth from one quandary only to place her in the path of catastrophe.
Upon that milkweed leaf I attempted to set the moth gently down. But alas, her damp wing stuck to my finger. I tried to gently pry it off. My friend chastised me: “Don’t touch the wing!” I felt angry; I had no alternative method. If I hadn’t touched it, it would have certainly torn clean off the moth’s body when I placed her down and removed my finger. The wing would have stuck to me, and forgotten her, its owner. A traitorous wing indeed.
When I finally did remove my finger, her wings still safely attached to her body, she tumbled down, off the milkweed, into the grass. It was my friend’s turn to play savior. She placed the moth on her finger and guided her up to the milkweed again. And again, the moth’s wing stuck to the human hand. My friend attempted to place the moth onto the milkweed without touching the wing. It bent at an unnatural angle. I felt like criticizing her this time: See, it’s not as easy as it seems! Do you really think your method is better? Eventually she gave in and touched the wing, unsticking it from her finger. It hung uncertainly from the moth’s thorax, clinging to a body not quite anymore its own. It looked heavy with rain, an alien deadweight twisted from what it once melded onto naturally.
We stared at the moth afterwards - alive, safely embracing the milkweed, but looking like not quite a moth. We turned to each other. We laughed nervously, powerlessly. The mist thickened into a drizzle, and we, two mock saviors, walked quickly to the river to forget.
The Grass Parts for Her
The grass parts for her,
A doe in the field.
She honors it and bows
Low to the cool earth.
Claws catch a twig nearby.
She snaps to sight,
Light and tense--
But the grass parts for her.
Gone with a trace
There is a place inside my brain where I have kept her,
The person I was before all of this came to be,
the person I can never be again.
I dare not utter her name for fear that my new life,
and my new identity will dissolve like a Fata Morgana
in the blinding heat of truth.
She is there inside of me and yet not there,
An echo, a memory, a phantom limb