Loss.

One day you sit down and you think about someone you miss...and you blame yourself. You blame yourself for any time that you wasted, for any time that you can now never get back.

Loss is like a circle in your chest that sucks the air out of every breath you take and reminds you of what could have been. You feel it in your ribs and it sinks down into your stomach and all of a sudden your eyes start to sting and you remember everything good that once was.

I remember lots of things. I remember going to my grandparent's house in the woods and seeing deer on the way there. I remember the dark brown shutters and the triangle roof peaks and the glass storm door that led me into a world of "Hi darling, how are you?" The steps that seemed to have the softest carpet. The smell of garlic in the kitchen. A place with so much happiness.

But it really isn't the place that makes the happiness. It's a smile from someone who hasn't seen you in a long time. For me, it was the creaking of my own feet in the hallway and looking into the TV room at my grandfather watching a Yankee game, as his "helloooooo" invited me in.

He was really loud. His voice was loud, his walk was loud, his presence was loud. His smile was loud. He used to get really scared when I went to cut a loaf of bread, or when I went to take something out of the oven. "Careful!" And I rolled my eyes as he had a crisis over me cutting up a few carrots.

He always cried when he opened his cards on his birthday. And I didn't necessarily write a novel for him, I usually just wrote "I love you" and he bawled his eyes out. One time when my brother was a baby and was crying over nothing, my pop had to leave the room because it made him too sad to see him cry.

He was the funniest person I knew. The jokes never ended. He still made my grandma laugh after 60 years of marriage. When we had to part ways after spending any kind of time together, I noticed the quiet. But I knew that my life would become loud again the next time I saw him.

And now, everything is so quiet. Gaps in time where he would have fit a little joke in are silent. The silence runs its finger up my spine and...I try to make the joke.

His voice resides in my mind and sometimes when I look in my living room and see where he used to sit on the couch...I swear his imprint is still there.

When I only have one hand on the steering wheel I swear I hear him saying "Be careful!" And so I listen.

I am overwhelmed with trying to fill a void that can never really be touched in the slightest. I understand that people cannot fulfill you, but what happens when someone is such a deep part of you that they are part of your happiness? It is wrong to think that letting them go could ever be possible.

And so I look for him wherever I go. I look for him in my family. My uncle has his hands, my mother has his lips, my brother looks so much like him. I used to hate my brown eyes until I realized that they are just like his.

I have grown accustomed to feeling abnormal during any holiday, during any day where I have the urge to call him, and at any point when I open the door to my grandmother's apartment and my loud greeting just isn't there. His recliner chair remains empty.

But with every pang of lost time, I feel more and more responsible for remembering every possible aspect of him. I listen to the songs from Singin' in the Rain, I watch the Honeymooners, I still sing the wrong words to Frank Sinatra songs on purpose because it used to make him laugh.

I know that within the circle of loss, we are powerless. But I like to think that all the people we love are up there just waiting for us. In the depths of lost time, I see him eating Christmas dinner with us, I see him "playing" the harmonica, I see him smiling and laughing. And I know one day we will meet again. 

One Wish to Use

There once was a girl who found a fairy trapped in the TV. At first, she did not think it was a real fairy, but when she tried to change the channel, the fairy remained on the screen, banging her small hands against the glass.

 After unplugging the TV, the girl ran to her room to grab her baseball bat, the one she kept by her door in case her sister invited her to play, and used it to break the screen and free the fairy.

“How did you get in there?” she asked from the edge of the wreckage.

“A practical joke with a wood sprite gone wrong.” The fairy stretched her tiny arms and flexed her shimmery wings. “To thank you for freeing me, I will give you one wish.” She cupped her hands, chanted a spell, and blew a long breath between her fingers. “Wish well.”

She handed the girl a globe, small and sliver and wispy. Then she flew to the forest behind the house.

The girl was delighted with her wish and took it everywhere. She admired its many layers. She loved how it felt solid but looked like clouds. She adored how it fit right in her hand or tucked neatly in her pocket.

Soon, the girl’s excitement about her wish became too much to keep to herself.

She went to her brother and said, “The fairy from the TV gave me a wish. Would you like to share it with me?”

He did not take his eyes off his phone. “Go away.”

Then she went to her sister and said, “The fairy from the TV gave me a wish. Would you like to share it with me?”

“What does that even mean?” Her sister slammed buttons on the controller in her hands. “Actually, I don’t want to know.”

The girl sat on the front steps and waited the long hours until her parents came home. “Mom, dad, the fairy from the TV—”

“We’re busy.” Her mother focused on sorting mail, while her father pulled out boxes of frozen food to microwave.

“We both had long days.”

Even the dog had no interest in her wish, preferring instead to bark at the wind. The cat, as usual, was nowhere to be found.

For the rest of the evening, the girl carried around her wish, marveling at it and protecting it from harm. She traveled with it from room to room, its silvery glow brighter than the many devices whose screens were always aglow.

Just before dinner, her mother’s yell brought the family to the den.

“What happened in here?” She pointed to the broken pieces of the TV screen covering the floor.

“I freed the fairy trapped in our TV and look what she gave me.” The girl help up her wish.

“How come you got a wish?” her brother asked, for once looking not at his phone but at the wish in his younger sister’s hands.

“It isn’t fair,” her sister said. “I want a wish too.”

“There should be wishes for all of us,” her mother said. “Think of what we could wish for: a bigger house, new cars, early retirement… a new TV.”

Her father clapped his hands together. “We will trap the fairy and demand we all get wishes.”

The girl waved her silver globe. “But I have a wish I want to share.”

“No one wants your wish,” her sister said, “when we all could have our own.”

With her mother’s supervision, the girl cleaned up the mess from the broken screen while the rest of the family went into the forest to set a trap for the fairy.

After three hours, they heard high-pitched screams. The family gathered around the trap.

“We caught you,” her father said. “Now, give us all wishes.”

“Let me out!” the fairy cried.

“First give us our wishes, then we will let you go,” her mother said.

“Let me out!” the fairy yelled.

“We want our wishes,” her brother and sister sang, dancing around the fairy.

“Let me out!” the fairy screamed.

The family grew tired of the fairy’s shrieks and went into the house to plan what to do next.

The girl crept out the back door and snuck to the fairy.

She jumped up and down, but the trap was too high. She climbed a nearby tree, but the branch was too far. She looked in the shed, but the tools were too heavy.

Then she took out her wish and held it up for the fairy to see. “Would you like to share my wish?”

“Your wish would be wasted on me.”

The girl looked at the globe in her hands, the object she had come to love more than the idea of a wish itself. She thought about how her family wanted their own wishes. She supposed that, yes, they might need a bigger house or new cars or early retirement, whatever that was. But then she considered the fairy and how it was unfair to be trapped again so soon after being freed.

“I wish for the fairy to be free.” She held the silver globe above her head and let it tumble out of her hand.

Her wish shattered with the sound of breaking glass as silver smoke filled the air.

The fairy flew from the ruined trap, clumps of broken wish sticking to her. “Humans. They never listen.” She shook herself off, spraying silver dust everywhere. “The point was your family should have let me out. They had a lesson to leThe girl brushed silver dust from her hands. “Since I freed you again, can I have another w“Wishes are not so easy to grant, you know. Next time you get one, use it for yourself.”

Ichor Lake

Dylan stood still looking over Ichor Lake as it’s surface quietly danced under the stars. Her fingers had become numb but she didn’t care about her fingers, she also was not aware of how much time had actually passed. She let out a long sigh and stepped out of both her shoes. She curled her toes as the cold sharpness of the waters edge soaked them. She bent her feet back pulling off her socks then shrugged off her jacket. Dylan with another sigh then pulled off her shirt, shuffled out of her pants and lastly her bra and underwear hit the cold pebbles below her. She was unaffected by the frigid night air because her skin was fully flushed with her hot blood pumping furiously back and fourth through her veins. Dylan was deep in her thoughts.

            “I have to get out… I must leave you behind…I can do this…I can do this”

Dylan took in a deep breath and closed her eyes, she thought even deeper about what had led her here. It was hatred, for too long she had been trapped and could bear it no longer. She’d last looked at those watery eyes that stared back at her full of judgment, eyes that could no longer full of life. And that voice, a voice that spewed negativity like an un-yielding fountain of distain. These words always seemed to stay and swirl around in her head so loud it overpowered the world around her.

            “ Damn it, NO!” Dylan spat slapping her hands over her ears. The words started again; Worthless, nothing, unlovable. Dylan had enough, it was time to shed the person she hated most. She placed her hands on her face feeling a surge of sorrow then with a nod as if she had decided something Dylan traced her fingers along her hairline. Until she found a small horizontal cut on her forehead then dug her finger deep into it until her nail touched her skull. She slowly began to pull her skin downward. She twitched at the almost unbearable jolt of pain but continued. The sensation brought on a horrible deep burn as though boiling water was being poured between the her skin and her skull. She fought to breath through the pain but her desire to continue conquered her physical pain. Further still Dylan continued removing the skin from her eyes and she gasped as the cold dry hair hit her eyeballs. She had no choice but to fight the urge to blink and relieve them, as she no longer had eyelids as cover. But Dylan still press on, her skin folded over her mouth and the cold cold air spilled into her mouth.  She didn’t stop until it the last of her skin snagged as it ripped from her toenails.

Without skin there Dylan stood for a moment. No identity, just flesh. She took her deepest breath yet and walked up to the waters edge. A bloody blur reflected back and rippled away from the drops of blood to its surface. Dylan, with one quick glance over her shoulder at her skin flapping like tarp in the breeze, jumped into Ichor Lake. The liquid engulf her in bitter gelid seal. Just when she thought she was on the verge of freezing her head broke the waters surface. She no longer felt the icy cold but a sudden warmth and calm. Dylan, blinking, looked down at her body, she had been reborn. “It worked? I can’t believe this worked!” Dylan stepped back on the muddy bank her old skin was still flittered in its spot. She ran to pick up her phone and turn on her camera. Immediately she let out a scream in shock at what she saw. Dylan had not changed she was still the same Dylan. Suddenly her old flesh burst in flames and she jumped dropping her phone. The fire ended just as fast as it started and it seem to leave words in its ashes. Dylan slowly walked closer and read the message before her. LOVE YOURS

Fair

Growing up I have always known

there are many things I am not 

My beauty was all I had,

once.

 

My reflection always proved

the one thing I possessed.

Until one day it revealed

that it was stolen, not fair.

 

Until it I was mine again,

 I would have no peace.

Vindication against a thief,

would win back all fairness.

 

I hired someone with skill,

and a promise that

a sharp shiny blade would suffice.

Briefly it returned

but overtime my beauty was lost

once more. 

 

Perhaps to have stitches sewn,

pulled so tight.

My beauty would be trapped

and forever mine.

However again,

I reflected a failure.

 

Lastly toxins,

just below the surface.

meant to reverse it's treachery.

A plan once more met with defeat.

What was reflected 

was only flaws and ailment.

 

As I look in the mirror now, 

I don't see beauty

I see loss.

Too long I've many foes of the wrong sort

Time is no foe but a fact. 

Acceptance is my only

true friend. 

 

The Jump

In one second 4.3 people are born, in one second the earth travels 18 miles and in one second a honeybee flaps its wings 200 times. But in one-second Addison’s heart stopped. Earlier that day Addison decided she would be called uptight for the last time.

            For 28 years of living she’s heard it more than she liked to admit. But for it to be the very reason she didn’t get the long awaited on air journalist position, her dream position, sent her confidence on a free fall. Apparently to the execs she came off as “uptight” on camera and they were looking for someone more “fun”.

            No one at the NXT network put more heart and soul into their work than Addison. Even starting as an intern she put in 60 hrs. a week. Everything she did was thoroughly planned out. Even on her free time she never ceased to find the best stories and she spent countless hours of revision to cover all possible angles. Her friends, though she had very few, constantly told her to loosen up but she couldn’t even if she tried. The problem was if Addison were not to be completely thorough in her work she’d become overwhelmingly nervous she might have missed an important fact or point. This relentless worry caused restlessness that would then make her too tired to focus at work, which in turn made her anxious. Addison had become a perfectionist to combat her anxiety. Plus her hard work is what earned her two promotions in the 6 years she’s been at NXT. The moment she heard word of the on air position opening, she was sure hands down it was hers.

            The moment she stepped out of the office is the moment she accepted the rejection and it literally knocked the breath out of her. Breathing more shallow unable to stop replaying their words as they repeated round and around in her mind; “too uptight” “over thinking” “positivity was forced” “non impulsive”. Her heartbeat sped up even more as she realized there was nothing she could do. She wasn’t impulsive; she planned out everything she did. She was uptight for the sole purpose of being perfect in everything she did but it would be impossible to perfect her personality to be fun. Her thoughts and their words caused a vortex of dismay making her dizzy. She’d never felt this way before, rapid heart rate, short of breath, dizzy. All she could do was run away, away from the rejection filled office and away from her emotional response.  Unfortunately, her newfound fear caught up to her as she reached the lobby, she braced herself on a bulletin board. Her insides seemed to be squeezing in on themselves; she took in slow shaky breaths to push through the pain. She didn’t like this feeling, she tried to focused to clear her mind. The pain slowly subsided and as she took in another breath, her eyes fixated on a flyer for skydiving. In that moment she decided she never wanted to feel this feeling again. She took in another deep breath, ripped off a tab and walked to her car.

            Now here she was, the buzz of the plane flooded her ears, air blasting chilling her skin, the stranger she was strapped to gave her a thumbs up, it was the "go ahead" signal and all she had to do was return the gesture to confirm the jump. Addison began to bring her hand upward, she didn’t think of what would happen next, she didn’t think of the landing, she didn’t think of what would happen once it was all over. Addison just let her heart fill with thrill and let her nerves feel excitement. Her hand formed a fist and the second her thumb came up was the second Addison’s heart stopped. It stopped being old Addison’s heart and Addison’s new heart took over and never ceased. 

Calamity Garden

I stood within an isolated garden, surrounded by brilliant green leaves punctured with pink and red roses. Following a floral path I put my nose to a near by Calendula allowing the sweet smell to flood my senses. A cottontail bunny hopped happily over grass blades that swayed at the tip of its toes. A harmony of birds chirping nearby fell upon my ears like bells. Stepping back I took in the enormous layout letting its welcoming appearance take hold of me. I was not sure when or how I arrived here but lost in it’s beauty all questions fell from my mind.

My eyes rested on the heart of the garden, where a circular fountain lay. Automatically I walked to the fountains edge, it’s surface flashed red and orange as coy fish fluttered merrily below. I sat upon the fountains edge, stuck in a trance watching the water surface dance, my whole body seemed to be transfixed by its calm, kind, generous beauty. Foolishly I leaned too far over the edge and fell head first. In that split second I thought I knew what to expect as my dry warm body made contact with the colorful wet surface. I expected to feel the soft crash of cool temperature, I was even a little delighted to meet the invigorating feel it gave my skin. But no such feeling came.

Instead of floating I sank at an alarming speed. Although it seemed impossible for the fountain to be so deep I continued sinking into darkening murky still water. It was neither cool nor warm, were it not for the pressure I would have seconded guess I was actually in water. I felt nothing, like I was falling into numbness for what felt like days. Until, finally, I felt its muddy floor seep between my toes. Instantly I kicked off and at that very same moment the need to breath took over all my senses. Concentrating all my strength to my legs I swam towards the surface. Eyes wide open I search for the surface but only darkness starred back giving me an eerie feel that no surface actually existed. But the need for air burned my insides and the pressure of the water seemed to increase. My chest felt it would collapse inward, my heart seemed to have shrank but because I knew it was still beating I did not dare stop. I struggled to swim as algae attached itself to my limbs weighing me down, the muscles in my legs stiffened from exhaustion but I fought the robotic feel that took over them. At last some dim light appeared above.

A spark went off inside me, bringing to life a flame of hope. Now even harder I kicked as if the heavens were my destination. My face broke the waters surface unexpectedly fast. Chilly dank air filled my thirsty lungs and I choked on the vinegar taste of the water. I opened my eyes blinking in shock, there was little light. I flinched at first as I realized there were other things floating in the pond with me. I squinted staring at the gray figures then jolted out of the water as I realized they were the rotting carcasses of the coy fish. I stammered to my feet and took another breath foolishly expecting sweet air only taking in more thick, bitter air. I surveyed the garden through the fog, the once welcoming oasis was now a rotting wasteland.

It was all a ruse, thought to be a safe haven garden it was actually a calamity. The soul of this haven was the embodiment of false hope and broken dreams. The fountain was a heart I heedlessly dove into only to find hatred and pain within its depth. And once there it grabbed hold of me hoping to steal back life it once contained. Falling in love was falling into dark dank hell. I could not stay I had to leave.

 Trembling, I looked down at my hands they were not almond-red  full with life but gray as if blood no longer flowed beneath the skin. I looked back at the fountain wondering if I had died there. The roses and calendulas were dried and molded. Bushes and trees bare, not a bird or bunny in sight. There was just no life here. Then gradually my ears picked up on muffled voices dispelling all else from my thoughts.  It was coming from outside.

I ran to the high bushes that encased the decrepit garden and even though the bushes did not have leaves I still could not see past them. I screamed for help but stopped as no sound escaped.  Stricken with fear I screamed three more times the next one longer than the last but no sound came. Suddenly the need to escape hit me just the same as the need to breath when I was in the fountain. I plunged my fist through the branches shocked but relieved as I was able to feel warm dry air on the other side. Adrenaline now took the wheel and I pulled and broke back branches in a fury. I wrestled against sharp tips that sliced and scratched my skin. Finally my right foot landed on soft grass and I contorted my body to twist completely out of its wicked constraints. Trembling now with joy I looked at my hands full with life again.  I placed my right hand over my heart. It beat fast but felt smaller than when I arrived but I knew I was safe and I knew one day it would become whole again. 

A Flame

Clouds hang low,

as if they’ll split

their smoky bellies

upon buildings,

spilling everything

on everything.

Breaths of white cold brume

in listless air,

I can feel them sigh

like you did on that rooftop

in January, when we could have

still been seedlings

in the awakening earth

next to each other,

roots entwined as we rose, pushed up

moist earth to hungrily feel

the wide flame of summer.

But there has been no sun

for many days,

that is fine--

winter holds a flame

hotter than any of summer:

the desire to bloom again.

Tribute to a Dying Appreciation for Progress

A case of inexplicable double personalities plague the lives of the youth, the old, the world. Like chameleons we adapt, chop and change to our environment. All the while we convince ourselves, believing that the world is allowed to see what it sees as long as we truly know who we are inside.

But, what happens to those too young and fresh to understand that one concept; the concept that you can be whoever you want to be yet hold your true self high above what the world wants to see. To see and value your real self.

I’ve only had two periods of time in my life where I’d truly felt like myself. From the moment, I was born up to my 13th birthday, I knew who I was yet I never simplified it in words and commit it to a mantra so that I would not lose myself to the journey ahead. Between the age of 17 and this very moment, I again understand who I am. At this very moment, I have snapped out of this life which resembled a foggy haze that had seeped through my skin long enough to make me believe this was all He wrote. Time stood still and I triggered the play button so that I’ve now revealed to myself that I’m simply starring in a continuation of my long lost forgotten innocence; the innocence shattered by the realities of the world at 13 where most children experience confusion.

Only now have I realized that the world has made a fool of itself. All around me we’ve committed certain behaviors to heart. One of which encompasses the stupidity of the idea that a grown up does not play. Should not relax. Should always have eyes for the future. The green that grows on our side of the living must be tended to, yes. Yet, I have too many times seen that we’ve grown into the habit of overfeeding the grass before it was given any appreciation for its hue. Mothers and fathers make haste to their child’s accomplishments yet fail to appreciate the progress. Lovers only feel horrid times where there were supposed to be pleasant ones. Brothers only itch for male dominance in households when it should be  Man’s job to create and preserve peace in it. Sisters will fight for mirrors and approval when the approval they seek had been in each other’s eyes all along. Friends will create the illusion of family in one another when the existing friendship should simply be an addition to it. The appreciation we lack for the simple things in life reflect on us as individuals. Only a child can see the solution in its simplicity while we’ve been convinced instead to believe that it was much more complex. The strain of thought into “who am I” has worn down the creativity of our minds. It has chopped down our green grass to have us believe that there is no grass at all so that it needs more watering. The overflow kills the spirit. It will soon kill the princes and princesses that we all are.

 

Dragonfly

Zipping past a rainbow blur of flowers,

its prismatic wings reflect the surroundings.

Four wings so clear, barely there,

drift along the airs aroma.

 

It fluttered to my radio,

still it was for a moment.

Just long enough to evoke pangs of envy,

before it lifted away.

 

The pressures of time

slip past its wings.

Higher it rose in the sky,

knowing nothing of expectations,

nothing of responsibilities.

It knows only to fly

from land over lakes, it goes

effortlessly.

 

No cares, no concerns.

But it is in search of something

a place to rest,

a peaceful solitude

airy content of freedom.