When I was a sophomore in high school I finally acquired my first boyfriend. I had just transferred schools and he was cute, tall, and sweet. We ran in the same circle and I enjoyed spending time with him and his – our – friends. And they all supported us, even some of our teachers. It was fun and sweet, hugs, hand-holding, and chaste kisses (that honestly weren’t very good). However, after a month the spark we had initially faded. At least it did for me. I’ve never really been able to pinpoint why or how, but it did. So I broke up with him. In some ways, this was the best decision I could have made. In others… well, who knows how I could have done better, certainly not me.
It’s a green house in balmy Florida. The paint is old and chipping and the color makes it fade into its surroundings. Odd for a building that stands to strikingly in my memory. The floors are real wood and in some places nails protrude from the floor boards, waiting hungrily to impale the next unlucky foot to pass by. I knew where all those hungry nails were and how to avoid their reach.
Clearly I’m a little stumped by this week’s prompt. And my neighbor is playing Banana Pancakes on his guitar and its distracting me. So, while the prompt is raw wood, today you get to hear about Mr. Guitar from down the hall.
His last breath rattled from his chest. His eyes bore hatred into my flesh. Good. Because I hated him even more. And then his acid eyes dulled and he died. I smiled, a manic laugh escaping me, and then another, until I was laughing like an insane old witch.
Have you ever wanted time to speed up only to find it doing the opposite? Like when you really need to get to work or class, but traffic is horrible and time just seems to drag on, while at the same time passing normally? Or when you just want to go home and unload the groceries so that you can sit on the couch and veg out, but you’re stuck in the checkout line? Well, today, right now that’s me.
Every day we pass judgement upon the people we hear, see, and meet. We think they must be this and they are that – this and that, of course, representing the labels we give others with no regard for who they all are. Human.
Todays the last day of our annual family reunion weekend. Everyone comes; Aunt Janey and Uncle Bob from Fairhope, Alabama; Cousins Willa and Geena from San Fran; the Grans from Long Boat Key; etc. All 75+ of us spend time catching up, barbuquein’ and pot luckin’, football at the park and ice cream at the beach. But my favorite moment of all is this moment right here. The Picture moment.
I’m writing this letter to you because, simply put, I miss you. But I don’t know exactly what to say. What do you say to the guy you just broke up with to preserve your sanity and health? That’s not to say you drove me crazy. It’s quite the opposite in fact.
Fragile light filtered through the stain glass windows. Oh the stories those windows told… or, more accurately, the stories Granny Agnes spun about the scenes in those windows. I stared at them remembering her energetic voice as she whipped up a new tale every time. Never did one window have the same story twice.
Shadows loom, creep, engulf. Most humans are scared of shadows. They see them and wonder if there is danger lurking, slaking them from under the cover of darkness. But what if I told you that the shadows are a haven. My haven.
Some people call me master. Truth is, I’m still a student. I’m no guru, no leader, no expert. Except of course on the subject of I. Most of my life has been a journey filled with discoveries about I. And the only thing that truly makes me special is that I have payed attention to the lessons I have been taught about I.
It’s always just been me, myself, and I. I’ve been alone for a long time and that has been purposeful. After all, who better to trust and rely on then the one person you know won’t betray or hurt you. And so there was one.
He comes here every Sunday for a “cup of Joe” and a pastry. He orders it just like that, “one cup of joe please!” And he chooses a different pastry every time. I guess you could say I’ve been watching him, he never seems to notice though. And I’m ok with that.
I stare at the Oreos nestled between the Nutter Butters and the Chips Ahoy in the cookie aisle. Two aisles over, the cereal boxes stand witness as a four-year-old boy wails, his mother dragging him kicking and screaming away from the Lucky Charms. In front of the dairy products all lined up in perfect rows a man laughs as his teenage daughter tells a him story involving yogurt and few of her friends.
Yesterday, someone told me forgiveness is more for the forgiver than the forgiven. And that very evening I saw you again for the first time in six months. For a moment, when I first recognized you, I had the inexplicable urge to turn and run. My legs stumbled and my muscles tensed, ready to take off, with or without my full consent. And then my logic kicked in.
I met you on a plane. I was anxious and nervous and you had papers and a 50 cent notebook in your lap. I’d never sat next to someone who held their belongings in their lap on a plane. I had a lot on my mind and you spontaneously jot down words in scripty scrawl in that 50 cent notebook.
Smoke rises from the ground. Two piles of rubble still in flames smolder and shift. An ambulance and fire truck race, sirens blaring lights flashing violently. A long line of red trails behind the crash, as cars hit their brakes and try to get out of the way. Traffic slows to a crawl. Cop cars fly down the road from the opposite direction. The cars look like ants from the news helicopters, circling the site buzzards.
You follow the sound of the piano down the hall to the sun room. It’s so beautiful, enormous and filling you to the brim with emotion that you can’t quite define. He sits there on the black bench, eyes closed, long delicate fingers dancing on the keys as if with a mind of their own. You’ve never seen something, heard something, felt something so beautiful. Sitting there in his t-shirt and jeans, playing the piano like an old friend.
My nerves are tingling with anticipation, anxiety, excitement. My palms are sweaty and gooseflesh covers my arms. I can feel adrenaline running through my veins, excited for what comes next. This happens every time I prep to perform. It’s part of the thrill but also the fear.
The guest speaker stands at the front of the room, words of encouragement spilling from her mouth. Boredom and excitement wash through the students. I’m in a chair, Raina is on the table in front of me. The speaker’s words bob and weave through quiet chatter. Study Abroad. Summer. Spain. Japan. Africa.
I breathe in laughter as it infuses my soul with joy. Squeals and monster voices permeate the chlorinated pool water, transforming the liquid into a world of little-girl-chasing-aquatic-beasts. Water splashes my feet and I can’t stop smiling.
You wait. In the trees, on mossy rocks, by the river. For a child to follow your music. You play your voice. Ethereal melodies dance with the breeze, streaming through the windows of the little boys’ and girls’ rooms. You want them to be happy, safe, loved. Your song promises all. Not that they understand.
My lungs burn. Fire building in my chest eating up all the oxygen I have left. I can’t take it. I suck in. But air doesn’t hit my begging lungs. Water pours in instead and I try to cough. It’s futile. The cool water pushes out the fire and the last of my air escapes from between my lips.