NU 203

Composed 3/25/16
Description: A rare prose piece from me. A description of a place in which I am forced to reside once a week for several hours…

It’s a hulking, ancient building amidst a concrete jungle. Today, gray – sky, air, rain. Inside, mud-spattered, dust accented patterned tile, arranged in ill-advised juxtaposition. The place is obviously old, without renovation since its original ribbon cutting, crafted by the wrinkled hands and bills of ancient cults of bald, spectacled men smoking cigars by the sparking fireplace. The endless faces of its patrons, a thousand eyes, stare, watch, smile blandly in their frames. Souls captured and sold – a warning, a premonition, a foreshadowing. Have they ever really left this place?

You turn and enter between gaps of cursed guardians. Perfectly square, dull tan and beige, the place boxes you in. A prison of monochrome uniformity. The metal chairs screech against the dull tile floor like demons clawing their way out of hell.

It is more a prison than any prison I know, giant concrete blocks and all. Only now the prison is a whitewashed reflection of high school nightmares, combining confinement with insecurity, awkwardness, and incurable boredom.

Not even windows give a peek into the outside world. Buzzing florescents coat the room in an aura of delusion. Reality vanishes in favor of a buttercream LSD trip. A power surge would send us scrambling into complete darkness. Not a shred of natural light filters through the cracks in slab. And the steaming heat, like the flames of hell, siphon away your desire to live, to go on…

The place sucks battery life even faster than it sucks out your soul. Technology dies rapidly as it reaches out for contact, any signal of hope, of life beyond these walls.

But no one answers. Only the drone of the establishment and the groans of your peers interrupt the silence…

The Moment

Composed 5/28/15
Description: I’ve increasingly become aware that I fear this myself.

It couldn’t have been a more peaceful evening.

As the sun began its descent, its beams filtered in through the kitchen window and illuminated her mug-filled hands. She brought the rim to her lips and grimaced only slightly as she swallowed.

Tugging her knit sweater more closely to her willowed frame, she stared outside. It was so bright compared to her dim kitchen that she squinted to clearly see the clouds drifting in the sky, the trees easing back and forth in the breeze.

She was alone. And it was this thought that seized her when the pains came.

She had anticipated death; she did not fear the pain or the passing itself. No, she feared bring alone in The Moment. There was no one to witness, to hold, to say goodbye. She would just be found, gone. No one would see her, speak with her again. Her lasts were finalized, and no one was coming to whisper sweet thoughts as she transitioned into that universally Unknown Place.

So she was afraid. As the mug broke, as she crouched to the floor, as she moaned and laid down, belly up, she was lonely, and she was afraid. It seemed such a cruel fate to live so fully, to have family, to make friends, and die abandoned and alone.

She died in the dark. She died sad.

It wasn’t until then that she could see the beaming silhouette standing beside her. He wore a white cloak – heavy, hooded, and warm. He offered his hand, and she took it. She stood and looked down at The Body and started to cry. But he brushed the tears from her cheek, and she realized she had never really been alone.

Battleground

Composed 5/5/15
Description: This is what you get when you read Frank Peretti I guess.

Is it angels or demons probing my mind tonight? I feel as if there are words that need to be spoken, rhythms and rhymes that must flow from my mind. It craves release.

But do I long for pride? Or does the Spirit nudge my pen to action?

My mind jumps from topic to topic. Why can’t I nail down the urge? Do demons cling to weigh down my wrestling? Do I listen to the calming voice of distraction? Does the Divine suggest mistake?

The Presence is so inside me. It is not here in this room, beside. No, the struggle is so clearly in mind – the battleground most oft trodden for me.

Is my conviction ill-fated? A nasty snip rather than a constructive flow? Perhaps I’ll never know.

But there is a fight, somewhere. Perhaps I’m only scratching the outside layer of the fight. I am not educated, confronted. Not yet. This is only the preparation, the training. Only moving in unconscious.

Who is my Teacher? I hope to be wary of demons, deceivers. Be with me, Lord, if not already. Help me see.

Fingers

Composed 2/24/15
Description: For Writing 201: Day 7. The theme was fingers, the form prose poetry, and the device assonance.

The prose poetry bit turned out to be more of a challenge than I anticipated. This perhaps stemmed from my constant indecision as to where to take the theme. In the end, I settled with this, which I am fairly pleased with. Though, I think my favorite poem about fingers/hands will for a long time be the one I wrote about books.

My lips release sounds clipped for consumption. My fingers confess the words of my heart. My lips filter and lie. They provide alibies for the desires of my heart. My fingers lack such constriction. Instead they dance and fly. They run full out. My fingers are the connection between brain and heart; they are my most vital artery.

Do you want to know me? Forget the sounds I make. Read the ends of my fingers. There you will find me. Do not speak your love; I know lips lie. Instead, lace your fingers in mine and never let go.

Introduction

Composed  ‎2 /13/13
Description: Another lit art’s mag hopeful. It’s strange; I wrote this almost exactly a year ago, and here I am looking at it again! When I wrote this, it was originally part of a “100 Themes” challenge. The theme was “Introduction.”

She remembered Frank’s words.

You know, they say people make first impressions in as little as half a second.

Half a second. That is how long it would take to decide her fate.

The sequins on her red, fitted jacket burst forth in sparkle as the strobes flashed. She barely had time to catch a glimpse of the man in the long-tailed suit coat throw his hands up and jump into an exuberant stance of victory before the fog machines released another cloud of red and purple smoke. Confetti in colors of the rainbow rained down from the balcony. The audience’s roars were deafening.

He was good. He had tigers. How was she supposed to compete with that?

Thalia tugged on her stark white, elbow length gloves, the only object visible backstage. She gulped and glanced down, focusing on every crease and imagining doves spilling out of her fingertips.

Her heart was beating faster than it ever had. It all culminated here. If she failed, it was over. She had been lucky to get this five minute slot; so many other venues had refused her. Frank, the owner’s son, had only given her this chance – one chance he said – because he’d wanted to take her out to dinner. If she failed, there would be no way he could convince his father to let her have another try. She’d have to drag her feet back to Romano and meekly accept his offer.

Thalia shuttered as she imagined joining Romano’s league of sleazy showgirls. That’s not what she wanted. That wasn’t her dream. Her dream was to make her own way in the world, to do what she loved – magic.

Her guardian had been a lover of magic, and that kindly old man with the wrinkled hands and pale blue eyes had her entranced the first time he pulled a flower out of her ear.

All at once she was in a small, cozy apartment, spread out on the ugly blue and green rug with the tattered edges. She squealed in glee as she picked out a two of hearts and the man nodded.

“I’m going to be a famous magician one day!” Thalia announced with the kind of happy arrogance only three year olds are capable of.

“You certainly are,” said that man in his warm, wispy voice. He was smiling. “And you are going to make me very proud.”

The ferocious roar of a giant cat, and then the audience, broke Thalia from her daze. Her black eyes narrowed, and her slender hands clenched. No, magic was not just a way to make a living, not just a passion to her; it was also her sole connection to the only person she had ever loved.

She would do this. She would live her dream.

The slender man in black took a bow. Only seconds now. Seconds until her name was called.

And then half a second. Half a second in which the audience decided her fate. Half a second would determine her future, her survival, her pride. The loudspeaker squeaked; an announcer called her name.

In a half a second, her whole life would change.

She stepped onto the stage. They cheered.

Snatched and Scratched

Composed 10/14/13
Description: This is a piece I wrote a fair bit of several weeks ago and finished up last night. For some reason, when I’m walking back to my place of residence alone, I always have these kinds of morbid thoughts. This piece is also kind of ironic considering my last entry.

You don’t ever think about how you’ll react in that situation. I mean, that’s the point: it’s unexpected.

And you’re sweet, straight A-ed. You go to a Christian, liberal arts college for crying out loud. Making out with your first boyfriend sent you straight into guilt-ridden anxiety for an entire week.

Whew, okay, I guess THAT was an adrenaline rush. But it’s a suppressed rush, that kind of “down boy” adrenaline that our civilized society has taught us. You don’t embrace real, primal adrenaline any more – not like they did back when they were fighting off tigers.

Anyway, that’s all you know, so you think you can only go that far. It’s only in intense situations when you find out where your limits are.

I found out two years ago, October third.

You know, they told us during the apartment meeting to not walk alone. I knew what they were saying was valid, of course; it was nothing I hadn’t heard all my life. I watched the news. I knew people got picked up, abducted, hurt, molested, killed. But, it was also one of those pieces of advice you took with a grain of salt. I mean, always be with a partner when you’re walking back to the apartment? Really? First off, it’s just not practical. You and your friends have different schedules; sometimes you have to walk back alone. And, for real, the building was about a minute and a half from the thick of campus.

So I didn’t really worry. There was nothing TO worry about.

That was my unconscious mindset, anyway, as I strolled back to my apartment building after a late night of hanging out with friends.

My apartment was in a crammed little neighborhood just off campus. On my street in particular, cute, if quaint, little houses on tiny plots of grass were smashed side by side. Occasionally, a slender footpath to the front door or stubby driveway would stick out and spill onto the crumbling pavement of the street; though, most cars parked on said crumbling pavement. And, for some reason, there was only a sidewalk on one side of the street.

So naturally I was strolling along this one sidewalk – a straight shot to my apartment building. And naturally there were several cars parked alongside this sidewalk. All seemed quiet.

Right as I approached an old, black Mustang, the driver’s side door flung out directly in front of me. I stopped, startled, as a man stepped out. He was so close to me I had to step back to let him pass. He was dressed in a light gray graphic T-shirt, which was just barely showing through a beat up leather jacket. That stuck out to me, because he was so tall the best part of him I could see was his chest.

I looked up, but it was hard to distinguish his features under the shade of the trees lining the sidewalk. Then, all at once, I saw his teeth – too white, exposed in the universal grin of bad intentions.

“Hey,” he said, and his voice slithered out of his lips like smoke slips out of a cigarette. “You need a ride?” Continue reading

Consequences

Composed 9/10/13
Description: Inspired by a similar event that happened today.

Light was just beginning to fade as they walked across the parking lot. The air was cloaked in a buttercup yellow, and dusty shadows from trees and cars spilled across the blacktop like prowling malicious spirits. The only sounds were the clopping and smacking of their shoes against the dry ground. Only with much focus could one pick up the distant cries of racing metal machines and the eerie lullaby of leaves.

He inhaled, and the air was like wood.

“Smells like someone’s burning something.”

His companion breathed. Her eyes paled; once an ocean, her irises melted into ice. She stared off into the distance, past the cars and the trees and the parking lot. Past the grass. Past the horizon.

He knew that look. She was Seeing something.

Her irises filled with ocean blue. Her pupils refocused on the ashen ground.

“What’s up?”

She looked across the parking lot and pointed.

“There. In the median. In the mulch between the trees.”

He followed her finger and noticed a trickle of smoke leaking from the ground. They walked over to the place where the wisp originated, just as she said, in a median filled with mulch and a few trees. A cigarette butt lay in the center of a ring of dried up woodchips; around its edges, the ring smoked. A tiny red spark brightened and dimmed at one point of the circle.

“Put it out,” she whispered.

He took his water bottle out of a pocket of his backpack and let the water flow over the ring. He spread the mulch with his shoe and stomped on it once he was done to make sure all the coals were out. The smoke halted.

His companion exhaled heavily, as if she had been holding her breath. He jumped back onto the blacktop and stared at her. Her eyes remained on the upturned earth.

“What was that about?” He asked. She nodded at the now damp mulch.

“That would have set the whole campus on fire.”

He looked back to the place. It was just a bit of mulch now, not at all remarkable. Even the cigarette butt was buried. He glanced up, then, to the buildings around him – grand, brick structures with tall, arched windows. A concrete fountain bubbled yards away.

“Really?” He looked back to the mulch. “But putting that out seemed so… insignificant.”

She nodded. “It always seems that way. But little, seemingly insignificant things change the world. A cigarette. A bullet. A kiss. They determine the course lives take. Or how they end.”

With one last look she turned and walked toward the place they had been heading before. His brow furrowed, but he stuck his hands in his pockets and followed.

Sammi

Today Sammi, our dog of nearly 14 years, died. She died with her ears still sticking up.

Some things I will always remember about my puppy: Taking her home the first night. Racing her up the stairs. The way she would get randomly hyper and run around the house. The way she knew when I was sad and made me laugh. The way I could get her ears to stick up by raising the pitch of my voice. How even she knew that wet, rolled up towels are a scary thing. How she always knew when dad was out getting breakfast and would wait eagerly for him (and bacon) to return. How she was always so warm and smelled like a dog, but I loved it. She loved toasting outside in the sun. She loved to have her ears scratched.

I don’t think she ever lived up to her name (Samantha means “obedient”), but she was a sweet, loving dog, and from that first night she was my baby. She will be missed very much.

This morning, when all seemed normal, I called her over and she laid down and rested her head on my foot. Totally randomly, I took a few pictures of her. I only wish now they had been better pictures.

Rest in Peace, Sammi. Thank you for being a part of my life.

Sammi

The Phone Call

Composed 8/5/13
Description: Inspired by this week’s Weekly Writing Challenge: I Remember.  The prompt was this: “Set a countdown timer for 10 minutes, choose one of the writing prompts below, and just start writing. Whatever you do, don’t stop for ten minutes. Keep your fingers typing. Write what you remember.” The prompts following were Earliest, Happiest, Worst, or Freestyle memory.  Because I have already written about my first memory,  I chose the other one that came most naturally:  the worst.

What was I doing? I don’t know. I was in the family room; I know that. It was my safe haven. I was surrounded by colorful paper, markers, paint, glue sticks, scissors – just in case I got inspired. My laptop was there as well, right in front of me on the little table in front of the TV. I was probably exploring the Internet or doing homework at the time.

Whatever I was doing, I was doing it without a care in the world.

The phone rang. I didn’t pay much mind to it. Mom would get it. I was so oblivious. I did not even pay attention the conversation taking place a few rooms away. I had no idea of its significance.

Mom called me a few minutes later. I stood, and we met at the end of the family room by the garage door. She looked at me. Something was off. The words she said next would shake up my whole life; they were the words of nightmares, the ones everyone hopes to never hear. She said those words to me.

“The doctor called. They found something on the MRI.”

I froze. The MRI. The seizure I had in the church bathroom a few weeks ago. But… that was all just a dream now. The MRI had been an afterthought. “Just covering my butt,” our doctor said. I thought the seizure was a fluke – just exhaustion after a late band competition. My brain was fine, I thought. I was so convinced of that I didn’t even entertain the possibility of…

Two seconds later tears were running down my face. Sniffs were starting. I was holding in sobs.

Mom, in a similar state, hugged me. I’m not sure now of her exact words, but the sentiment was this: I’m scared too, but we’ll get through this.

The Alpha Bet

Composed 7/27/13
Description: My response to today’s Daily Prompt: A to Z! The challenge was to “create a short story, piece of memoir, or epic poem that is 26 sentences long, in which the first sentence begins with “A” and each sentence thereafter begins with the next letter of the alphabet.” It sounded fun, so I gave it a shot. I must say, I am impressed by how this turned out. Let me know what YOU think!

“Aha! Bet you didn’t see that coming!”

Clarisse grinned and, after a triumphant brandish of her sword, bowed. Down on his back, Ezekiel’s lips pulled back into a snarl, but he kicked over his small sack of coins as they had agreed.

“Ezekiel, please don’t look so grim and downtrodden! Finer swordsmen than you have fallen prey to my excellent skill!” Gleefully, Clarisse swiped the bag, leapt, twirled, and jabbed into an imaginary foe. “However, I admit, few of the worthy opponents I have battled share your particular… disadvantage. I therefore believe you have, indeed, waged a comparably remarkable battle. Jealous, I’m sure, others of your make would be of your skill.”

Kings have had my so-called disadvantage!” Livid, Ezekiel jumped to his feet. “Maybe you’ll see who is really at a disadvantage during our next bet! Nightfall – that is when we will decide who really is the best!”

Only a few hours later, Clarisse met Ezekiel a few hundred feet into the forest.

“Pray tell… exactly what is the nature of this challenge?”

Quirking an eyebrow in some smugness, Ezekiel remarked that they would be dueling in the pitch black of night in the center of the forest. Reputation as the “alpha” of their group would be the prize at stake.

Stepping back, Clarisse voiced her uncertainty. The danger of sword fighting in the pitch black of night, even with blunt swords, was enough to make her wary.

“Understandable, it is, how some people would feel afraid to battle while lacking one of their primary senses, even though some do this casually and with much success…”

Very soon, the two were battling.

Whipping her sword this way and that, Clarisse struggled to anticipate Ezekiel’s moves. “X” soon became the shape of their blades, and Ezekiel, fighting as energetically and easily as they had that afternoon, maneuvered, pushed, and sent Clarisse flying over a branch behind her.

“Yes, indeed, my dear beta, blindness can in fact become an advantage!”

“Zee, I see your point.”