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I cannot believe I am doing this again, especially when the person who introduced me to the addiction is taking a brief hiatus. Itís as if he knew I needed something else to obsess over. I suppose every writer knows another writer, even if they are at differing points on the road to complete acknowledgement of their craft.
I can avoid it for days at a time, but I always come surging back when I think of a looming deadline. The dread of thinking I might have let apathy get the better of me. Another cup of coffee; more words.
Funny that you can wish for something to go away and yet the minute it does you can mourn it as if it was your greatest possession. I can hate what I love sometimes, and that never ceases to amaze and disturb me. Venom will fill my veins and bile collects at the back of my throat, sometimes with no provocation. I lash out, slashing and cutting with great exertion until I am spent and I collapse finally to lick my own wounds. My wounds are eternally self-inflicted.
I am unable to call it back. Pride shames me to silence.
Three months. More time than either of them ever thought imaginable. At least, that was what she told herself on days the distance became more than she could bear. She needed to believe he was in pain. To think she might be the only one would certainly drive her to inconsolable despair. Three months to vacillate on futile thoughts like who was at fault, who bore more responsibility and who required the larger pardon. She daydreamed of reconciliations then punished herself with a fictitious reality that made his life a joy and hers a pure nightmare. Letting go was folly.
What if you knew the outcome to a story, but could never share it for fear of distorting the end?
He had a secret, and against his better judgment, he shared it with her. As a result, the secret became hers. Problem was, the secret had never been passed through typical means like the simple exchange of free flowing words. This secret had passed between two minds, a crazed notion that made no sense if one dared to say it out loud. This secret rested quietly amid ruins. This secret was more patient than its keepers. It demanded their obedience.
Watched pots never boil, but with little else to do Mary wondered what she could do to avoid interference. There was only so much napping one could do. She cleaned the house to a Martha Stewart approved shine. She painted the bathroom and refinished the cabinets. The garden had been weeded and her cd collection was organized. There were still too many days in the month, and she wondered how she could find more things to do that would pass the hours and simultaneously prevent her from taking any actions she would later regret. She had enough of offering apologies.
The butterfly had been staring at Viv too long. This was an especially long light, and the insect had been resting itself on her windshield for nearly a quarter mile before this standoff. She thought it was both beautiful and ugly, the perfect insect to describe life. Tapping at the glass, she hoped to disturb it. No movement. Not even a flicker of its wings. A horn blared behind her. Viv glanced in the rearview with a scowl.
She stepped on the gas; her friend lifted quickly away from the glass. Off to lure some other lost soul to distraction.
Insanity doesnít come with a warning label. Thereís no tag on the inside of peopleís clothes that warn of their penchant for madness; rather, whether or not to wash with bleach. Itís a slow progression for some. A gradual decline into shadow thatís apparent as conversations become increasingly odd and compulsions pronounced. For others, itís as if someone forgot to pay the utility bill. One day, light on. The next, lights out.
Julian decided that if he ever came back as God, he would ensure humans came with care labels. Perhaps then he would be washed and cleaned with care.
Soulmates come in all varieties. Like candy, some are sweet while others sour. One may be to your absolute liking, another may seem to be better suited for someone elseís tastebuds. But they are here with gifts in love and loss. So goes the theory. Itís not about happy endings, it never was. Itís about lessons. Itís about opening your eyes to another element of yourself that you might prefer to avoid. Soulmates bring out the sweetness of who you are...but they also draw out the sour. Itís up to you to make the most of the education. Or not.
Gina could eat six pieces of buttered bread in under a minute. While she pondered ways to turn this into a unique and enticing feature for her online personals ad, her friend Vera combed the city paper for something to do. Gina ruled out anything requiring dancing or sweating, Vera vetoed anything that included stationary seating and darkness.
ďWe need to be meeting people.Ē
ďIíve met people. Theyíre overrated.Ē Gina opened her mouth wide and wondered if she could fit those six slices of bread in her mouth simultaneously. She probably could, but she sheíd never be able to swallow.
Sydney had been the perfect woman for him, suffering through his first year residency at Johnís Hopkins while immersed in her own studies at Cornell University. She was too busy to mother him, too independent to whine and maybe just a little too physically distant to scare him in the many ways relationships and women just under his nose always had. That would soon change, and there was little he could do about it, if he followed his stringent sense of right and wrong. Babies did seem to have the highly skilled ability to upset an otherwise perfectly peaceful coexistence.
Aazim studied the thick, yellow gold ring on his neighborsí wedding finger. It was too garish to be a wedding band. As he strained his eyes to read the inscription, the man raised his hand abruptly closer to Aazimís face.
ďOrangemen, Football. Defensive back, lettered three years. They play football where youíre from?Ē
Aazim felt the rims of his ears grow hot. The familiar tick above the right side of his mouth resurfaced. He turned forward, rested back on the wall and narrowed his eyes. The generational dumbing down of America.
ďYou mean Dallas? Yeah, we have football in Dallas.Ē
There was no place more diverse than an airport. He walked the terminal like a tired immigrant, having nearly memorized each store. He studied airline employees that milled busily up and down the different gates, pretending they were too busy to entertain any redundant questions from weary passengers. It was a circus. A cacophony of sound, color, energy and movement. Struck by the science of people, he was lulled by the activity. It mirrored his mind, in a familiar Ďno place like homeí sort of way. Traveling, but failing to actually get anywhere. Were they all as frustrated as he?
Diana had not told her mother (or her motherís husband) about the official end of her relationship with Brian. Their love affair had all the makings of a soap opera drama. Cheating, deception, manipulation, and all other sorts of dramas drove their story before they finally decided to call it quits and plant themselves ambiguously within the gardens of platonic interaction. Diana explained that they were taking a break. The kind lovers took when they never hurt each other and when things appeared promising and no lifelong damage had occurred. Another casual lie she used to flavor the simmering stew.
Little thirteen year old Lizzy with the blond highlights blazing like spun gold in her hair.
Was it rude to think ominous thoughts about a child destined for a life of challenges that could have otherwise been avoided? Janice admonished herself for pessimistic thinking, but she was unable to shake the notion that disaster loomed near. Another kid leaping into fantasy without understanding the truth that nothing ever is as it appears to be. The allowance of bleach was far more insidious, Janice assumed. Young Lizzy was in a rush. And Janice the neighbor was powerless to slow her down.
Cheryl loved men that hid their intelligence in clever turns of phrase. Her friends assumed she just had a thing for bad boys with hard chiseled bodies...but she was far more complicated than that. She did like the bad boys with the bodies, but they had to have more. She didnít like it thrust in her face, as was the habit of suits and ties. She also didnít like it in lyrics and phrases of forgettable poetry she might catch on a late night cable program. She had reason, loathed rhyme. What she loved about Charlie was mystery to most.
Cheryl ranted over it. Cried over it. Cursed at it, slapped it and finally tossed it out on the front lawn for inclement weather to wash away. When she woke the next morning, it was still there. Waiting for her to pick it up, and fuss with it again. And so she did. She brought it back within her home, and sat with it. Her anger was stoic at first, not budging in the silence. It sat and waited for the violent outburst and another toss on the lawn. As she nodded off, it spoke to her. Finally. Cheryl listened.
A black man without a mustache was not to be trusted. This was a golden rule of man selection handed down to Jasmine as a child. It was one piece of advice that stuck with her over time, lurking silently in her subconscious along with her aversion to loud noises and her love for ketchup on scrambled eggs. She made her political choices based on it, and avoided sitting next to mustache-less black men on busy trains. It wasnít until her father shaved his mustache, that she really put some thought behind the validity of the advisement. And the irony.
Ilsa, the potted Yucca Cane houseplant required sunlight. The debate over its placement went on for weeks until it became clear that she was suffering in her location in the office. There was something bright and cheery about its disposition now that it rested near the patio. After two weeks of watching the healing evolution from simpering and sallow to bright and feisty, Cheryl decided she needed to perch herself closer to the patio window as well. Ilsa didnít seem at all bothered by the company, but now there was the issue of Cherylís smudged fingerprints on the patio glass.
ďStenciling is lazy and uninspired. Youíre creative, draw freehand.Ē
Dana stared at her sketchpad dejectedly. Without offending her mentor out loud, she pursed her lips and silently debated the fairness of that statement. Stencils allowed you to trace a pre-designed element...but didnít she get any points for clever placement?
ďItís not like Iím doing wall trim, Iím creating something unique with pre-designed shapes and pieces...sort of like a mosaic.Ē
Danaís instructor scoffed. ďSorry, but thatís a crock of bullshit.Ē
Dana wondered her instructorís use of expletives would also be categorized as lazy and uninspired. Some things are better left unsaid.
Evelyn worked from home. In her mid-sized, rurally evolving town, this was decidedly abnormal. One neighbor was sure she was involved in some sort of deviant activity. But he seemed the type to think anyone with brown skin lurking about during the day was up to something sinister. Another neighbor searched her as she walked to the mailbox everyday, as if looking for some disability that would prohibit Evelyn from working. Occasionally Evelyn limped, for her satisfaction. Another neighbor assumed she was independently wealthy. Evelyn worried about him trying to climb into her window in the middle of the night.
Some places have a spirit that is as much a part of the property as the foundation. Maggie was used to feeling them around her, but she never lived in a place where one permanently resided. She wasnít afraid as much as she was unnerved when her friend Lionel remarked that he felt something in the house. That confirmed it.
Silent during the day, active during the night, the spirit had nothing significant to pass along. Moreover, it seemed to be curious about Maggie, lingering when she participated in an activity that seemed odd or different then the inhabitants prior.
It occasionally liked to pervade her dreams and distort them. Maggie was not a fan of dreams that wandered into nightmares. She found herself waking from violent dreams of anxiety, wandering quickly down long halls to save some unnamed face. Each time, her heart would thump with the anticipation of seeing a frightened face peering back at her upon opening her eyes. Each time, there was nothing save the heavy breathing of an aging dog and quiet settling of wood, air and earth.
Maggie did not wish to see it. Just once, she sensed it would like to be seen.
When Steve expressed some sort of dating happiness; she wanted to kick him in the face. One of those cartoon kicks where the entire impression of his face would be sunken inward. She assumed in reality it would actually be quite horrifying.
It wasnít that he was dating and she was not. It was not some jealousy, nudging her to reconsider her decidedly strong lack of attraction for him. It was his turning a blind eye to his own intuition and forging ahead when he knew exactly where the pothole would come. She hated being snagged along for the ride.
By ten this morning, I did everything I wanted to do. I ran my miles, showered, and ran errands I avoided for nearly a week and a half. I checked the mailbox for the latest installment of bills and forwarded an overview of my weekly goals to my boss. Now, it was just a matter of trying to meet them. I hoped the endorphins would have some sort of kick starting effect. Instead, itís nearing mid afternoon, and I canít seem to tear my gaze from the living room window. Rather than make me effective, the run makes me reflective.
I wear masks with these men. Not because Iím innately misleading, but for my own protection. Itís an extra dose of security I provide myself. Most people are too busy worrying about how theyíre perceived to truly give any real thought to who they actually are. Especially in the dating game. Iíll admit...Iím waiting for you to disappoint me. Itís inevitable. Until then, the mask stays on. Until then, Iím not sure if Iíll be able to love you past your flaws. Iím not sure if you can love me past mine either.
It just has to be this way.
Donít assume because I havenít given you a chance, that I donít afford that chance to anyone. I donít need to immerse myself in you to know whether or not the space you offer is where Iíd like to rest. Iím keen for what I desire and clear otherwise. It is not rejection, so to speak. This is me being compassionate enough to prevent you from wasting one moment of your time.
Is that cruel that I said that? Would it have been more palatable if I served it to you on a bed of compliments with coy as garnish?
Love for me is a bit like shoe shopping. I donít go out with a specific make, or style in mind...but Iíll know it when I see it. I get images in my mind all the time of what I want. Itís a highly defined sense. I know already what it will feel like. Its taste and touch are already powerfully familiar. Something Iíve never own, but somehow has always rested in my possession.
Iím not afraid of it, no. Thatís not the reason for my hesitance. I always hesitate before making a wrong turn. Donít you? Well, you should.
And yes, all loves get compared to him. Not because he was perfect. Far from it. It seems that all the critical pieces, fit together so perfectly for he and I. We understood each other, even in silence. I need that, because Iím not always able to explain what I feel. Writers express so much of what others think, feel and do and yet the deepest and most informative notions of self are almost always left unarticulated.
At least I wonít rule you out for lack of similarity. I suppose that is a great beacon for progress, now isnít it?
So itís your turn to decide what youíd like to do. You can choose to disappear now with the utterance of a future call we both know youíll never complete. You can opt to gradually disappear after a few cordial dates, speeded by the realization that Iím not at all interested in sex ďjust because.Ē Or, you can choose to be my friend. This last one demands that you be honest about how you feel, however. Thereís nothing more annoying then someone trying to unravel the mysteries of you without your being made aware. I wonít be conquered. Your choice.
I wonder about the mosquito that feasted on my blood last evening.
Had she done any comparison shopping? And how did I taste? Iíve always assumed mosquitoes would find me sweet and alkaline. I pride myself on being so.
She found a good spot to drink from. I never felt her, but as with any creature that lusts for your essence, I feel her now that sheís gone. I donít miss her though. I just look at the remnants of her visit, and try not to imagine other invisibles that might feast on me with no evidence of their intrusion.
Perhaps I should carry the one hundred words exercise over to my life. One hundred dates, one hundred songs, one hundred flowers. Well, never mind. One hundred dates would make me a wanton slut, and we canít have that. I like the commitment element of it. I can expect it to start and end very specifically. It will prompt me to take corrective action when I make mistakes, and its expectations are always clear.
Does it say something about me that I find myself scrambling to finish each month with a furrowed brow and beads of perspiration on my lip?
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