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06/01 Direct Link
Olivia awoke to clanking pipes and the sound of water cascading from the downstairs shower. Her room was beginning to heat as morning sun forced entry through the slats of her blinds, and the ceiling fan's obligatory turns had little effect on the temperature.

She untangled her ankles from the damp sheet and instinctively rooted through piles of clothing for something acceptable to wear. If she hurried, she could leave before Gray exited the shower and avoid the awkward conversation bound to occur. In twenty years of friendship she kept no secrets from him and now would have to confess.
06/02 Direct Link
My entire life is shrouded in ugliness. I feel so uncomfortable in my skin and in this face, that I rebel against the very idea of beauty. I pretend ugly is a virtue, like piety. That beauty is something I have freely chosen to give up. They do not know that beneath the dark frames of my glasses, my mousy hair and drab, hanging clothing that I am ugly to the core. It is central to my being, and it spreads out through my veins and poisons my heart and brain. I think ugly. I see ugly. I am ugly.
06/03 Direct Link
With these words I wanted to hear come elevated expectations. Not for a rekindling of previous passions, but for some intimacy in our interactions. I cannot hear those words and return to our vacant relationship. Every move I make feels scrutinized by a hundred judging eyes, waiting for me to misstep, to feel too much, to give too much, to want too much.

And when you say you miss me, is it just in one of those poetic ways or is it concrete? The way you feel when you are motivated to make the necessary changes to alleviate your longing?
06/04 Direct Link
It was lying on his bed, and I couldn't resist. The sweater that enveloped me on his leather couch the previous night looked so inviting, so forgiving for our actions, that I wanted to touch it one more time. It felt soft and rough like him and the color was true to his eyes. Even from this distance it smelled like a mixture of cigarettes and cologne with hints of whiskey and marijuana. It reeked of our weaknesses.

I lose myself momentarily before I realize I am just grappling for scraps, something to save for later when he is gone.
06/05 Direct Link
This flimsy elastic exterior
Covering a frame built to protect the inside
Which just feels hollow

Their weary bodies rejuvenated by stealing
What I never knew I owned
And they never ask the question
That has only one answer anyway
No matter what I say

They reshape me with each encounter
And it isn't easy to bounce back
To the way I was
I must be rotting from the inside out
Because no one seems to notice
This dirt that won't wash clean
It just seeps through
And I wonder
If it's penetrating their skin too
Or covering their secrets
06/06 Direct Link
Allow me to clarify.

When your wife and two children aren't mentioned in conversation by sunrise, I consider that a deliberate omission of truth.

I never called you evil. I said people's actions are generally self-serving and I shouldn't expect yours to be any different.

Finally, I'm an intelligent girl. Even in an altered condition I know the difference between my back and my breasts, a massage and groping. I also know the difference between a cuddle party and a fuck fest. And if your memory of the events is fuzzy, I can assure you that mine is crystal clear.
06/07 Direct Link
Seeing the happy couple in person reinforced to Annie what she'd never again be. Happy. A couple. After some lonely years, she wondered why she ever left Nick. From the grumpy mornings driving her to work, to late night parties where he dramatically professed his love, she adored him whole-heartedly until she just stopped.

Annie picked up phrases from their conversation. Law school. Hiking. Traveling abroad. It was the life they planned but never achieved. Annie and Nick were a dangerous combination (maybe Annie and anyone). Nick became the person she wanted him to be right after she lost interest.
06/08 Direct Link
"I guess my horoscope for today was wrong. It said I was going to meet the man of my dreams tonight. Hah!" She gestured toward the circle that had formed, and I didn't know if she was discouraged because everyone appeared partnered, because we were all far younger, or because she was a dirty trailer whore and we were cool, hip kids with good drugs. Whatever her reasons, the conclusion was the same.

"I can always go to Buddy's later. They'll be open. Maybe I'll go through Hardee's drive-thru."

She laughed, so I laughed too. Maybe a bit too hard.
06/09 Direct Link
Like the swelling ocean
He overtook me
And I was blamed for not fighting the tide
Drowning in a sea of salt
Unable to distinguish my tears
From his sweat
Left waterlogged and breathless
On a new shore

Like the beach
Where I first learned to swim
Bravely entering liquid
That lightly stung my legs
And swayed my balance
As then, I am an insignificant traveler
To be swallowed in a rage
Or spat back carelessly

Time after time
I revisit this spot
To be ingested or discarded
Like an offering
Never questioning my return
I've come here so long
06/10 Direct Link
"God, I hope she's suing for that haircut." Grey shook his head as the Plaintiff entered Judge Mathis' courtroom. "A travesty."

Grey and I were lounging in my apartment on some summer day. The exact day did not matter because only people with employment or responsibilities worried about that. Our days consisted of the same complaints--being hungry, bored, too smart for the rest of the world.

The woman with the surprisingly bad hair was not, in fact, suing over that, and Grey lost interest. He pointed the remote at the television and turned it off with an exaggerated sigh.
06/11 Direct Link
I stopped hiding one day
when it no longer made sense to me
and with me came rage
buried beneath my matching undergarments
and disbelief
contorted by the wonderbra
and they tried
to disregard my anger
as a phase we women have
then they tried
to disregard me
my comfort making them uncomfortable
fearing my clarity could translate to power
(much stronger out of those cute little shoes
that showed the curve of my calves
and the thrust of my pelvis)
and one by one
they closed their eyes to the possibility
and see only darkness
where I still exist
06/12 Direct Link
Nothing had produced a sense of urgency that evening like the anticipation of the approaching thunderstorm. From the framed corner of the porch, she watched as the sky began to erupt, bursting with lightning that illuminated the clouds. The thunder faded in and out of earshot and grew impatiently bolder with each announcement.

She could tell the main fury of the storm would go to the north of them, and they would receive only an ominous warning. The relentless heat of the day had been swept away with wind and the tickle of occasional raindrops on her knees and cheeks.
06/13 Direct Link
Her mother delivered the news with a disinterested tone. "Your Aunt Marion called. Richard died." Details came mechanically, and Heather tried to decipher relevant information from commentary as she jotted down the facts. She hung up and turned to Jenna. "I guess my dad's dead."

Sitting in the stiff wooden pew among estranged family, Heather wished that she had agreed to let Jenna come with her instead of making the 1500 mile trip alone. She wore a simple black dress and a garish sapphire ring her father had given her when she was sixteen. The last token of their relationship.
06/14 Direct Link
You devastated me, and all of the apologies in he world cannot restore what was lost. I have a permanent numbness in my heart when it comes to you. . . it's love on Novocain with no feeling attached.

Still I love you. . . this nagging little fact i find difficult to ignore. A fact I am reluctant to share with you for fear that you will interpret it as a sign of hope when it's only a memory of the past. I want you to understand that I can simultaneously love you and walk away without looking back.
06/15 Direct Link
He wonders when they will be coming for him, the men in uniforms with tasers and guns. There is no escaping the inevitable chase, the struggle, the lock-down that follows. At least it will be over. This bout of of insanity has to end. Someone has to stop him, and he doesn't know how to stop himself.

Surely, she has called them by the now. Told them how he calls constantly, talks of death, has lost touch with reality. Each cigarette could be his last before cuffs surround his wrists. He hates that feeling, but it's better than feeling nothingness.
06/16 Direct Link
This is how insanity feels: heavy eyelids, weak limbs, empty. Everything solidified the fact that she didn't belong, and the world was better without her. She wondered how long she could hide without anyone knowing. Bones sticking through thin skin, pulled taut to reach all the way around her. The rumbling in her stomach had subsided to a few low groans of lost hope. A slow, thick paranoia spread through her veins, and her heart was tired of pumping the viscous liquid through her body.

She realized she was dying, either slowly through starvation or through her own assertive hands.
06/17 Direct Link
The debate over Abby's residence was familiar. The neighborhood was a diverse mix that made her mother nervous for Abby's safety. Despite recent efforts to revitalize the city center, Abby's mother continued to see only the deterioration. Her opinion remained unchanged by the flocks of young couples and families restoring old brick buildings like Abby's apartment unit into the glorious single family homes they once had been.

The introduction of wealth into an area that, until recently, was dominated by poverty resulted in increasing tension and crime. Like her street, Abby felt very much in the middle of the fight.
06/18 Direct Link
My life began careening down the highway from California to Missouri after my parents realized their relationship was broken. I was approaching three, but the U-Haul became my birth canal. It was a passage from the safe, known world to life of cold uncertainties.

The U-Haul accident in Colorado caused an unexpected delay at a hospital. I can picture myself walking through enormous metal doors and into a pale, wide hallway with bright lights.

Everyone recovered from their injuries, but there were permanent losses. Pictures and mementos of our prior life were ruined and scavengers picked through those which survived.
06/19 Direct Link
She shuffled along cream carpet, past clear plastic cases attached to the wall that contained pamphlets on topics like depression, eating disorders and anxiety. A sad collection of fishing and wildlife magazines, address labels cut from them in perfect rectangles, were dispersed around the waiting room.

After alerting the receptionist to her arrival, she sat in the chair closest to the office area. She glanced at the middle-aged woman who sat in the corner by a philodendron thoughtlessly thumbing through magazines. A convivial woman with badly permed hair would eventually call her name and lead her to the psychiatrist's office.
06/20 Direct Link
You ask how I remain aloof. It's not a matter of individual choice. There is no compromising when stakes are astronomical. The intensity of our love is impractical for longevity, but I find myself repeatedly drawn to you.

You are the only person who made me feel anything, good or bad. I never felt as loved and complete in anyone's presence. I was giddy and youthful and sensual, and I wouldn't question your sincerity--except history tells a different story. We can't maintain that level of bliss without extreme drama, and I cannot live with the chaos that surrounds you.
06/21 Direct Link
She decided she couldn't leave it in the hydrangea. Already a bright green fly had discovered it, and Abby couldn't bear the thought of it rotting there. Not her fledgling. She decided to bury it inconspicuously in the shade of the magnolia.

She struggled to push the shovel deeply in the dirt wearing only flip-flops. With a heavy heart, she returned to the spot where it lay sprawled. It looked like a gawky teenager with disproportionately long legs. For a second she thought maybe it wasn't even the same bird. Eyes lowered, she moved like a pallbearer across the yard.
06/22 Direct Link
The basement room was divided into offices by use of oversized desks and empty bookcases arranged at odd angles. It looked more like a storage unit than a haven for social change.

A yellow sticky note declaring "EMPTY" stuck to one of four equally deserted desks. On "EMPTY" sat an outdated calendar and a water stain where the small refrigerator that doubled as a cubicle wall had leaked.

The presence of life in the room seemed disruptive. If she were ever to question her level of importance in life, she only needed to look around the office to be reminded.
06/23 Direct Link
She felt like a maniac.  She reminded herself that his love was selfish and dangerous; still, she could not stop worrying about him.  She had risked everything on a feeling, the most transient and abstract aspect of this world.

She believed in that hopeless romantic and his promises of a happy ever after.  Instead, it became a modern-day tale filled with drugs and insanity and institutions.  A struggle between who they were and who they wished they could be.  Or maybe it was just a bunch of shit she wanted to believe because it felt so good at the time.
06/24 Direct Link

The priest at grandma’s funeral didn’t know her before Alzheimer’s confined her to a nursing home, or that she never fit the indulgent image he generically presented.  She’d been strict, and combined with irrational worries; she hovered with diligence.

As the disease consumed her, her fears flourished.  There were constant warnings about weather.  Conversations repeated themselves with growing frequency.  She called because it was dark and may storm.  When reminded it was supposed to be dark at ten o’clock at night, she would continue her confused argument that it was darker than usual, and the stars must be higher up.

06/25 Direct Link
She wanted the mellow tones of his voice to soothe her to sleep.  To rest on that spot where his shoulder met his chest, where her cheek fit perfectly cradled by his tan flesh.  She wanted to fall asleep with the low murmur of his words filling her ears.

This was all too much to ask, she realized.  Even on the rare occasions that they did speak, his voice was missing the richness that had tugged on her soul.  Now he sounded hollow, devoid of substance.  Still, she loved him purely and completely even though he warned her against that.
06/26 Direct Link
I hate this.  I hate that this has spiraled out of control, and there is no way to stop these feelings except to go numb.  Maybe we were destined to self-destruct.  I didn't have to die.  I am dead already.

I did thoughtless, selfish, deceitful things and deserve every loss that has befallen me.  Having the general public uncover my dark truths is humiliating, and I worry I will be chained to this event for the rest of my life.  Always trying to make up for my choices, make sense of things, figure out what lessons were to be learned.
06/27 Direct Link
He was trying too hard to appear casual, dressed in a coral polo shirt, khaki pants and brown leather shoes.  He skimmed the intake form I completed during my hour-long wait and made notes in my file.

My eyes wandered to his desk where a stack of papers secured with a clip was propped upright.  Scrawled at the top were what appeared to be the letters "ECT" which made me wonder who was about to receive such treatment and why their fate was so prominently displayed.  It served as a reminder to be careful what I said, to be guarded.
06/28 Direct Link
I'm sitting in a harvest gold bathtub with warm water barely covering my bellybutton.  Some bubbles remain near the faucet, and a thin film covers the water's surface.  My sister enters wearing shorts and a halter-top, blond curls bouncing.  It's a sunny California afternoon, and she proudly sips from the can of orange soda that dad bought her at the driving range.  At mom's prompting, she reluctantly shares a sip with me.   I taste the sticky sweetness against my lips, and as I swallow I feel the slight burn of cold and carbonation.  I am not quite two years old.
06/29 Direct Link

Now the seven-story factory building in the garment district houses expensive, trendy apartments.  In the sixties, workers there made lining for Stetson cowboy hats, and I was an accounting assistant in charge of payroll.  I worked in the air-conditioned administrative offices with most of the other white employees.  Office staff also had the privilege of a private bathroom that was kept securely locked.  There was one black woman employed in the office, but she was not given a key to our administrative restroom.  Instead she had to use the bathroom with the rest of the minorities working the factory floor.

 

06/30 Direct Link
"We got a real problem with Mom," the youngest daughter spoke quickly and quietly between cigarette puffs.  I imagined her sitting on the thin comforter with inexplicably drab flowers in the hotel room where I had been persuaded to leave them.

"She's been usin' again.  Got ahold of some Valium or something and started stealin'.  Things we got no use for from Ozarkland.  She even stole this plaque all 'bout the month of April and ain't no one in our family born in April."

Somewhere between the hotel and detox center, I remembered we were all fighting a losing battle.