Posted in Storytime

“The Spot”

The wind whipped through the open car windows as I sped up the car. The rusted stoplight was the only thing between me and the park and for once, it was actually green. As I pulled into the lot and threw the car into park. I sat for a few moments in silence, listening. Under the rumble of the engine, I heard kids near the jungle gym yelling and laughing, skateboards thumping over the sidewalk cracks, car doors slamming, and drones buzzing in the air.

Even though it was lively, it wasn’t anything but an ordinary park with a jungle gym, a baseball field, and soccer fields scattered about. For a Monday night, it was pretty packed though. Most likely due to the hint of a long overdue spring day in the air.

I turned the engine off, got out of the car, and began my short little walk to “the spot”. “The spot” being the end of a rickety bleacher on the farthest baseball field. It’s nestled along the edge of the trees and brush that separated the park from the golf course. It must have been my lucky day for when I rounded the corner, “the spot” was clear of the bustling crowds.

The bleacher creaked as I climbed to the top row and plopped down, letting my feet dangle beneath me. I craned my neck back to the sky and closed my eyes. Letting the warmth of the evening sun spill over me.

I remembered the first time I found “the spot”. I was in middle school and just had a fight with my parents and I needed to cool down a bit. I jumped on my bike and made my way through the winding bike paths at max speed. Letting the anger course through my blood and pour into my feet as they furiously peddled the bike forward. I went as far as the path would let me and right at the end of it was the old bleacher at the last baseball field.

The path unceremoniously cut off right before the brush and I came to a screeching halt. I tossed my bike into the grass, huffing and puffing until I calmed down enough to sit down on the bleachers. When I leaned back and looked towards the sky, the sun peaked out from under a cloud and the sun’s rays filled my eyes. I closed them and felt the rush of warmth across my already heated face, but yet it felt so soothing.

The anger used to boil inside of me like a pot on the stove, and with just one wrong move, I would erupt. It used to be the way I dealt with the world when I felt it collapsing in on me. My mind tended to swallow me up in the thoughts of imperfections, germs, and not living up to the expectations put upon me. In my mind, I lived in a world that I had no place in. A square peg in a round hole.

I always compared my soul to that of a hot air balloon. How rare they fly across the sky these days, but it always seemed to fit. The hot air is produced by the flame and collected in the balloon which makes it push upwards towards the sky. The warm air trying desperately to escape from the constraints of the fabric, but never does. That’s like my soul, trapped in a body with nowhere to go. I can feel it pushing and shoving inside of me in desperation until all I can do is scream.

But in that spot. On that little rusted bench, leaning back into the sunlight. I no longer feel the struggle of being trapped in a body and world that doesn’t understand that my imperfect soul is the pearl of my being. That I do not pretend to be perfect, but try my best to do right. That I am kind by nature, but refuse to walk on eggshells for those who do not understand the reality of being a human being. That I am happy, but sometimes have those moments of sadness.

The sun’s ray’s melt into my skin and comfort the agitated ambiance inside. Like a little reminder that happiness can be hard to find sometimes, but is always there, lying in the crevasses of life. Like the sun on your face, the smell of fresh air, the soft rustle of trees in the breeze, the taste of crisp, cold water, and watching a child score their very first soccer goal.

Those little moments while sitting in “the spot” always brought me back and reminded me that the goal of life is not to become happy, but to choose to be happy. Even if the only source of your happiness that day is the rusted old stoplight was, for once, green upon your arrival and your favorite spot was open. Happiness is a choice. So pull out that saw and hammer and start building that square hole for your square peg soul, because the world isn’t going to do it for you.

Posted in Storytime

Used: A Short Story

The morning air was frigid, sending chills up my spine as I briskly walked to the train stop. I could feel my nose and ears turning red in anger towards the freezing wind, but eventually they settled after I stopped underneath the heating lamp. Several other frozen figures waited anxiously for the train to make its appearance around the corner.

I closed my eyes and hung my head back to feel the warmth of the lamp on my face. It was soothing. Footsteps rustled and bags shifted as the unmistakable sound of a train horn made its way to the platform. We all filtered into the train doors as soon as they opened, reveling in the sudden warmth of the train.

I sat next to the same lady as I always did at 6:07 AM in the morning. She was small in stature with brown hair wisped into a bob. She never looked up from her game of solitaire on her phone as I placed myself beside her. She was clutching her usual silver travel mug in her lap and the scent of Folgers’s and too much powder Coffee Mate surrounded me once again.

The light rail lurched forward, sending a few unsuspecting “train surfers” tumbling forward. It feels like some sort of unsaid standard that if you want to look cool when riding the light rail, one must not utilize the handrails. That is, until you almost biff it. Then it is recommended to avoid further humiliation.

The shadows of lampposts fly by creating short spurts of interrupted sunlight. As it flashes across my face, I catch a glimpse of a young man’s jacket. It wasn’t hard to spot, being it was bright red. But I couldn’t help but notice the slight cracks in the leather. They appeared to be concentrated around his shoulders, indicating a heavy use of a backpack of sorts. The others were in the middle of his chest, where it bends when he sits down.

But the strangest thing about it, was that this jacket was incredibly well worn, but definitely not by that young man. I could tell by the way the jacket puffed out on his shoulders and was stretched around the bottom of the jacket. Like somebody much larger and older than him originally wore this jacket.

My imagination took hold and I wondered if it was a son wearing the jacket of his father. Or a brother wearing the jacket of his older brother. Or the grandson wearing the jacket of his grandfather. A jacket that has been used and abused.

Used and abused. My thoughts immediately shifted. I wish they would stop doing that, taking a mind of their own and remembering things I would rather leave in the past. But I can’t help it. Nobody really can. When I’m alone with my thoughts on a 25 minute trip to work on a quiet train, it becomes nearly impossible to resist.

I wonder if he actually cared. Or did he just use his loving words to fill the blanks of a relationship he knew wouldn’t last. But I knew from my better judgment that he most certainly didn’t care in the least. I was just the crazy one that fell too hard too fast. But I would rather be the “crazy one” than the one that used another person for their own self-confidence and abused the relationship. How could a person lie like that to another person? How could somebody tell you to your face that you’re special and then dump you like yesterday’s garbage?

But I guess that’s why I moved on and found somebody else. Somebody who looked at the red leather jacket of my heart and saw something so used, so bent, so tattered, but still saw its worth. Still decided that it meant something to them and that’s why they will hold on to it for years to come.

Because of their love for possibly a father, a brother, a grandfather, and, in this case, a girl whose heart had been broken.

Because that somebody saw her heart as a used red leather jacket. It will still keep you warm from the blistering winds. It will still cost you a few bucks at a thrift store. It will still remind you of the good times or the bad. And it will still stand out amongst a crowded train at 6:07 AM.

However, the red leather jacket, like my heart, will always remain “used”.

But maybe this time, not abused as well.

Posted in Storytime

Love and Happiness: A Short Story

“Don’t you be giving me that judging look,” Eleanor sat crossed-legged on her bed in her Star Wars pajamas. She was memorizing the lyrics to Queen’s Bohemian Rhapsody while spooning cookies and cream ice cream straight from the container into her mouth.

Rudy, her pug and best confidant, was curled up on the corner of her queen sized mattress, giving her an unenthusiastic glare. Eleanor set the ice cream aside and cleared her throat.

“Mamaaaaaaa just killed a man.” Eleanor stood up on her bed, Rudy didn’t even flinch. “Put a gun against his head, pulled my…the…his…trigger now he’s gone…dead.”

Eleanor let out a loud sigh and plopped back down on the bed.

“I thought I had it this time, Rudy. I really did.”

Rudy groaned.

“Oh, don’t be giving me that sass. It was a good effort,” Eleanor said, “besides, I’m pretty sure Ashley won’t mind if I don’t get every word right tonight. It was her idea to go to karaoke in the first place.”

Eleanor flopped to her back, tracing her finger along the patches of the quilt she was laying on.

“I don’t even know why she wants to go out tonight. I mean, I get it that she broke up with Graham and wants to get wasted to forget about it, but seriously, when has that ever worked?”

She rolled her head to the side to glace at Rudy, he hadn’t moved an inch, but was still looking towards her in a listening fashion.

“The last time this happened with her and Will’s tragic end to their romantic two week fling, I had to literally carry her out of Zeke’s Pub on my shoulder while she sang ‘Sweet Caroline’. When the Uber showed up, she laid down on the sidewalk and refused to get up because the ‘gravity was pushing her down’. I mean, I guess it wasn’t as bad as when David ended their two month love affair. She stood on the bar, belting Shakira. But when the ‘hips’ part came, she slipped and landed on my mojito glass.” Eleanor paused, “at least the nurse was pretty cute at the hospital that night.”

“Babe,” Devon called.

“I’m up here with Rudy,” Eleanor yelled.

Rudy shuffled on the bed and scrambled down his little bed stairs. Devon came into the room and was greeted with snorting and slobbery kisses.

“It’s good to see you too Rudy. How’s my favorite little man, huh?” he looked up to the ice cream container on the nightstand, “dibs.”

“No way! That one’s mine, go get your own.”

Devon lunged for the ice cream, but Eleanor snatched the spoon away. He tackled her to the bed, reaching for the spoon, but Rudy had other plans as she snatched it from her hand and ran for it.

“Rudy, you little shit, get back here!” Devon laughed.

“Oh well. He deserves it. I was telling him about Ashley’s newest heartbreak remedy she’s come up with. Karaoke.”

“Oh boy. I can already hear ‘Dancing Queen’ over the loudspeakers. When are we going?”

“In a couple hours. I was just waiting for my favorite nurse to get home.”

“Well I’m hoping that you’re talking about this nurse,” Devon said as he gestured to himself.

“Of course. Who else?” Eleanor smirked.

“We just have to make sure she stays off the bar this time. Wouldn’t want to end up at the hospital again and you meet another nurse to ask on a date.”

Eleanor laughed, “Alright, sounds like a plan.”

“Let’s go get the spoon from Rudy before he buries it in the backyard,” Devon got up off the bed and helped Eleanor to her feet.

“You know, we could always stay in tonight. Hannah said that she was going and would make sure Ash got home okay,” Eleanor said.

“So you’re asking whether or not I would like to stay here with you in our nice cozy apartment or go out to a dingy, smelly bar and listen to drunk people sing overdone 80’s tunes?”

“Basically.”

“I love you so much. How did I manage to land a girl like you?” Devon laughed.

Eleanor could only smile back. Because she knew that both of them had been through hell and high water to get to where they are now. The broken hearts, the frustrating days at work, the pressure for perfection. But now, as she’s bouncing on her mattress in her PJ’s, belting out the lyrics to Bohemian Rhapsody with Devon, she couldn’t help but be thankful for the happiness she always kept through it all. Because she never gave up hope, and never gave up the happiness she knew she deserved.

Even if that meant ending the night digging up the backyard with Devon, looking for the spoon Rudy buried.

 

“Do not set aside your happiness. Do not wait to be happy in the future. The best time to be happy is always now.” ― Roy T. Bennett

 

Posted in Storytime

It Was Because of Him: A Short Story

It wasn’t the way she pulled her dull brown hair back in the morning, or the smell of her old, “warm vanilla” body spray. It wasn’t the way her left eye drooped slightly more than the right. It wasn’t her average brown eyes or her thin pink lips. It wasn’t her soft pointed nose, the one dimple on her right cheek, or the small, dark scar on her bottom lip. It was something else entirely.

He smirked as he ran his hand through his thick, cinnamon-colored hair. His green eyes flashed to hers while his nose crinkled ever so slightly. He was a little cracked around the edges. But she didn’t care, because most people are. He was a masterpiece with strokes of passion and colorful feelings that swirled into compassion. The world painted him with the purpose of being different, to show that pain can hurt, but can create so much beauty at the same time.

They had both climbed mountains, tripping a few times here and there until fate happened to place them in the same place, at the same time. But of course obstacles stood in the way, mentally in the form of anxiety and physically in the form of “friends”. Timing is something else entirely. She imagined him to be a large grandfather clock watching them run through his swirling maze. And as soon as they saw each other and began to get closer, he would toss a boulder in the path, for fun. His laugh would tick and tock until they found another way to each other, just to be hit with a bought of fog, so they lose their way again. Timing was a bitch.

But finally, when Timing wasn’t looking, they found each other in the maze. Both timid and shy, but both willing to try. Their love was like the snow, quiet and slow. It didn’t shout for attention, or wither in the cold. It slowly collected around them and the warmth of their souls kept them sane. The world seemed to slow down, giving them a chance to get to know each other beneath the surface. Sometimes it was a blizzard, and sometimes it was a sprinkle. It was perfectly imperfect.

But like the snow does, it melted. She could feel it in the way he started to pull away from her.

It wasn’t the way he nervously laughed when talking deeply. It wasn’t the way he told her how beautiful she was. It wasn’t the way he sang the Backstreet Boys. It wasn’t the way he messaged her how it wasn’t going to work out. It wasn’t the way he said “it’s me, not you”. It wasn’t the way he never messaged her again. It wasn’t the way he pretended like it never happened.

It was because it did happen. It was because she trusted her already broken heart to someone who couldn’t even give her his broken heart. It was because Timing is a bitch. It was because they had to hide it from the world. But mostly it was because that kind of love isn’t meant for everyone, especially her.

It hurt. By god it hurt so bad. She wanted to scream, she wanted to be mad, but all that came from her lips was “Oh well. I guess my hearts cursed to be alone until the day I die.” The tears did flow, but it wasn’t because it happened, but because of what could have been if he wasn’t such a coward with his words and feelings. Hiding behind Timing as if that clock would give her the excuse she needed.

But don’t fret, because although she is still sitting among the broken pieces of her heart, listening to Hope squawk that it might still happen while it hoards those broken pieces. She knows that one day, Hope will fly away and she will rise above the broken pieces to put them back together, alone. Because of the way she has learned to be the heroine of her life, not the victim.

Posted in Storytime

A Big Deal: A Short Story

His fingers curled around the door handle and gripped it tight. The nervous energy in his stomach was beginning to make him feel nauseous. He took a few steps back, eventually releasing his hand from the handle.

Why am I so nervous? I shouldn’t feel like this. It’s not THAT big of a deal, Miles. He thought to himself, attempting to soothe his anxiety with a lie. Miles was experiencing something far from being “not a big deal”.

It reminded him of one particular day when he was seven years old. His father had taken him to the park and let him run rampant with the other children while he flirted up the doting mothers. Even though Mile’s mother had been gone for three years at that point, it still bothered him to see his father’s attention poured on anyone else.

The children were playing a game of freeze tag, throwing themselves up the playground stairs and dodging outstretched hands like a hot iron. Miles became trapped at a dead end about 15 minutes into the game. Tommy Anderson had him cornered with no way out. Miles heart began to beat faster with every menacing step Tommy took. His head darted around, searching for a way out.

His eyes happened to land on a small slit in the old playground plywood that surrounded them. Without much thought, Miles stuck his right foot into the hole and heaved his body over the wall. He fell several feet before landing on the mulch with a thud. He could feel his right arm snap under the pressure of his body and he let out a howl of pain.

Tommy and the other kids quickly dispersed to their mothers for protection as his father came flying into the scene. He was cursing and shouting at Miles as he pulled him to his feet.

“It’s not that big of a deal, Dad.”

“Really? That’s what you have to say for yourself? It’s not a big deal to be tagged in a stupid game, it is, though, a big deal to break your damn arm to avoid it. Why in the world did you jump ya idiot?”

“I don’t know.”

Mile’s father scoffed at his response. He put his hands over his eyes and ran them down his face. When they dropped to his sides, he stepped closer to Miles. He grabbed his shoulders and leaned into Mile’s face, “Look at me Miles.”

Mile’s eyes traveled up his father’s figure until their eyes met.

“I’m sorry I yelled,” His father said, “But please remember, I only yelled because I love you and you’re a big deal to me.”

Miles gave him a quizzical look. His father sighed, “You’ll understand one day when you become a parent.”

He would never forget the way his father’s gray eyes looked at him, full of love despite what he had done.

I don’t even think I’m capable of that kind of love. Miles thought.

He never had much luck with love. He especially felt this way the day he walked out on her. The way her brown eyes glistened with tears as he slowly cracked her heart to pieces with every word he spat. He watched it shatter as she pushed herself up off the couch and formed her lips around the word coward. He knew he was, but he would never admit it to anyone. Especially her.

Miles turned around one last time to look at her before opening the door to leave. My god she was beautiful.

For some reason, he only managed to walk half a block before he ran back to her door. He pushed it open, huffing and puffing from sprinting. He walked over to her as she held her face in her hands and he wrapped his arms around her.

“I love you. And no matter what, we will get through this together, “Miles said.

She turned her head and nestled it into his shoulder, “You don’t have to be afraid, Miles.”

He knew that he didn’t have to be frightened, but he still couldn’t get himself to open the door in front of him. Sweat was beginning to run down the back of his neck. He dabbed the sleeve of his sweatshirt against his forehead. He dropped his hands to his side and felt the trembling that ran from his toes all the way to his head. His adrenaline was high and his heart pounded harder and harder.

Then, a soft call came from behind the door, “Miles, I know you’re out there. Please, come in. You need to see her.”

He mustered up all the strength he had and pushed himself off of the wall towards the door. He snatched the handle, gave it a swift push, and flung the door open. It creaked as it swung open, making a soft thump as it hit the doorstop. It bounced back a little, but Miles caught it with the palm of his hand.

He made his way into the room. With every step he took, the numbness of his anxiety spread through him and made him feel as if he was floating.

When he reached her bedside, a wave of an unfamiliar emotion washed over him. My god she’s beautiful.

Nestled in a small bundle, a new little life. Half him, half her. A wondrous concoction of two chaotic minds. She held her up to him, and he gingerly wrapped his hands around her fragile figure. He held her like a china doll, afraid that he might break her. But when her nose wrinkled up and her little fingers brushed past his, every ounce of fear drained from his body and all he was left with was a love he never knew he possessed. He finally understood what his father meant and she was indeed “a big deal”.

Posted in Storytime

The Space In-Between: A Historical Short Story

*Note from the author: Hello! Thank you for your support of my writings. Don’t worry, I haven’t forgot about you. I haven’t posted in a while because I am currently working on my first novel and I am excited to share it with all of you! Okay, now to the story:*

 

The sound of screeching little metal wheels echoed through the house. The soft padding of little feet followed along with sporadic vrooms and pews. Daniel steered his little tin spaceship into the kitchen where his mother was hastily whisking eggs over a hot pan. His father paid little attention to the distraction as his eyes were glued to the morning headlines of January 28th, 1967 inked into the flimsy paper.

A hissing sound filled the kitchen as Mother poured the eggs out onto the pan. As if she was just thrown a hot potato, she flinched and frantically turned down the heat to the boiling pot of water next to the bubbling eggs.

Daniel blasted the little tin spacecraft into the air and did a “fly-by” of the stove. Before it could even reach its final destination of being tangled up in the phone cord, Mother snatched it from his hands and slammed it onto the counter next to her.

Without saying a single word, she glared at Daniel who quickly sprinted to his spot at the table next to his father. Mother let out a heavy sigh before pulling the tin of coffee out of the top cupboard and scooping it into the metal holder. She placed it on top of the boiling water and quickly returned her attention to the eggs.

When she was satisfied with their look, she scooped them from the pan onto a white serving platter. The one with the pink flowers that circled the flat of it in a figure eight. That one was her favorite. She rarely used it, however. She only pulled it off of its place in the curio cabinet when it was a special occasion.

The day outside was hot and muggy in Cape Canaveral, Florida and Daniel didn’t see a reason that any guests would be going out in such weather to join them for breakfast. Father, anyway, spent most of his days working until the sun went down. But, Mother told Daniel that yesterday was a bad day at work and father had lost some very close friends. Daniel didn’t really understand why that would be considered a “special occasion” in his mother’s eyes.

Mother sat the platter of scrambled eggs right next to the freshly brewed pot of coffee. Father barely even flinched, his eyes still glued to the newspaper.

“Honey? Would you like me to pour you a cup of coffee?”

Humph,” he nodded his head in approval.

Mother poured the coffee until it just reached the rim of the cup. She sat the pot back on the table and took a seat in her chair.

“Daddy look!” Daniel’s arm shot out and he began to point his chubby little finger at the back of the newspaper Father was reading. But before the tip of his finger could make contact with the inky tissue, the side of his hand knocked his father’s cup of coffee and it splashed onto the white table cloth and Father’s work pants.

“Daniel!” Mother lurched back in her chair and scampered up to get a kitchen towel.

Father frantically tossed the newspaper out of his hand, sending it floating to the linoleum floor. Father’s chair scratched against the floor as he pushed it out and ran for the kitchen sink.

“Hot! Hot! HOT!” Father’s hands flailed up and down as if it would cool the steaming coffee stain dripping down his trousers.

But, Daniel wasn’t so much focused on the incident anymore. He hopped out of his chair and reached for the newspaper. The sounds of his father’s hysterical shouting and his mother’s calm mumbles faded into the background.

Daniel had seen that man before. The one with the deep brown hair, slicked to the side. The dark eyes burrowed beneath thick eyebrows. Father has introduced him as Mr. Chaffee. Roger Chaffee. Father had told Daniel that they worked together and that he was going to go to space.

Daniel was in awe when he met him, the man that would be among the stars and the planets that had fascinated Daniel so much. But Father’s voice boomed in the kitchen and it shook Daniel back into reality.

His eyes shot over to his father who was now holding his hands against his face. Father was sobbing. His body heaving up and down as he took in gasps of air every now and then.

Daniel had never seen his father cry. Never.

Mother quickly escorted Daniel out of the kitchen, guiding him by his back with her cold fingers into the living room. She turned him around and knelt down by his side,

“Daniel. Do you remember Daddy’s friend from work? Mr. Chaffee? The one that was going to space?”

Daniel nodded.

“Well, yesterday, there was an accident…” She trailed off and stared into Daniel’s little blue eyes that were filled with confusion.

She started again from a different approach, “Do you remember how I told you that Grandma Smith went to heaven a few months ago?”

Daniel gave a swift nod.

“Well, Daddy’s friend and two other people who were going to go to space are in heaven now too.”

Daniel stood, looking towards the back wall of the living room, trying to wrap his head around what his mother just told him. He eventually looked her right in the eyes and said,

“Mommy? Isn’t space where heaven is? So, they just took a different way. Right?”

Mother looked into her son’s innocent little eyes and let a small smile make its way to the corner of her lips,

“Yes, Daniel. That’s right.”

She wrapped her arms tightly around his little body in a hug as hot tears rolled down her face. Father suddenly appeared from around the kitchen doorway, after listening to the entire conversation, and wrapped his arms around Mother and Daniel. And for the first time in years, the three of them sat, crouched on the living room floor tangled in each other’s arms. The space between them being no more.

Posted in Storytime

If Life Came with Instructions: Part I

I’ve often heard the joke, “you couldn’t handle me even if I came with instructions” when referring to relationships. But while I was waiting in line at the local coffee shop, I couldn’t help but think of the phrase as being used to describe other things. For example, when it starts to rain out of nowhere even though the weather app said it wouldn’t for the whole day, I can imagine the rain as a person sitting there laughing at the fact that if weather had instructions, it would probably still rain out of nowhere.

But then I thought about life in general. What kind of person would life be like? I began to imagine Life as a sassy grandma sitting on a front porch, leaning over close to your face as she points her gangling finger at you and bellows “YOU COULDN’T HANDLE ME EVEN IF I CAME WITH INSTRUCTIONS YA LITTLE PIECE OF SH…”, you get the point.

I may not be an expert at this whole “life” thing (is anybody really), but I thought I’d share a few steps to take to live a life even Life herself would be jealous of.

Step 1: Know that the rules that follow may or may not work, the world doesn’t like to give you a heads up when it flips itself upside down (essentially, “results may vary”)

Step 2: Happiness is never going to be and never will be a singular destination. You’ve got to learn to be happy along the way and enjoy every second of life you are given in this world.

Step 3: It’s okay to not be okay. Nobody’s perfect, so it’s completely fine to say that you’re not okay and take some time to heal yourself. Our humanity can be a gift or a curse, no matter the circumstance.

Step 4: Don’t eat the yellow snow.

Step 5: When driving, there’s a little device called a “blinker” and it should be utilized at all times. Trust me. It can save you from a dent…or two.

Step 6: Follow the “Golden Rule”. Treat others the way that you would want to be treated. So basically, don’t be an a**hole.

Step 7: Karma really is a b**ch.

Step 8: If you really think about it, we are all going to die one day. So, treat every day as if it’s your last, you never know when your time on earth will come to an end.

Step 9: Never judge a book by its cover (they could be the next bestseller 😊)

Step 10: If you’ve got a crush, tell them. It’s easier to mend a broken heart from rejection than a broken/exhausted heart from months or years of waiting for the “right moment”. This one is a hard one. I know because I’ve experience it more times than I can count. But from all the heartache that I’ve had, I’ve learned that it’s easier to bounce back from someone saying “no” than never knowing and continuing on for years waiting for a miracle that isn’t going to happen.

Step 11: Enjoy being single. (For example, I’m writing this in sweatpants and eating pizza that I had delivered to my door just for myself…why?…because I can, that’s why. I also get to enjoy a giant cozy bed all by myself and I can hog all the covers I want.)

Step 12: Remember this quote:

“Here’s to the crazy ones. The misfits. The rebels. The troublemakers. The round pegs in the square holes. The ones who see things differently. They’re not fond of rules. And they have no respect for the status quo. You can quote them, disagree with them, glorify or vilify them. About the only thing you can’t do is ignore them. Because they change things. They push the human race forward. And while some may see them as the crazy ones, we see genius. Because the people who are crazy enough to think they can change the world, are the ones who do.” – Rob Siltanen

*mic drop*

Step Infinity: Life doesn’t come with an instruction manual or rules. All you got is what others teach in life lessons. Listen to them. It’s better than learning the hard way. Trust me.

 

To be Continued…

Posted in Storytime

You are What You Eat: A Very Short and Humorous Tale

We were sitting around the kitchen table when my Uncle Leo walked in. He grumbled a few choice words as he shuffled across the floor trying to peel the Buick’s emergency break from the palm of his hand. With a swift jab of my elbow, Henry’s snickering stopped and he covered his cheeky grin with his fan of cards. When Uncle Leo made it to the sink, he slammed his new accessory to the counter with one loud thud. It startled me so much that my cards scattered around me like confetti and Henry let out a loud screech as he tumbled to the floor in a fit of cackles.

Uncle Leo, though, seemed less than amused with the situation. He sluggishly turned his head to the side, away from the afternoon sun, and his big brown eyes practically rolled back to his brain before fixing in on Henry rolling on the ground in laughter.

I, on the other hand, was more interested in evading the pugnacious Uncle Leo before things started to get out of hand. Henry just never knows when to quit, which reminded me of my father.

Before the situation had a chance to escalate, the sound of my Grandma’s truck revving up the driveway cut through the tension in the room and momentarily distracted both guys. I hopped out of my seat and lept over Henry like a gazelle to the screen door. I was out in the yard before my Gram could put the truck in park. She didn’t even have to ask to know that Henry was up to his callous tricks again.

She sighed, “What’d that boy do now?”

“Put super glue on the emergency break in Dad’s old Buick.”

“Good grief! He should know by now to avoid all those there relics.”

Gram snatched her purse from the passenger seat, near the dog, and flung open the car door. She slammed it shut and was about to charge ahead but was comically snapped back when her zipper got caught in the door. But with one swift pull, she yanked her jacket free. Resembling a bull just released from its pen, she stamped through the grass in her heels like a drunk goose. I knew Henry wasn’t going to last the whole eight seconds it took for her to throw her ecclesiastical morals out the window and swear upon the name of the good lord.

I followed her as she stiff-armed the screen door open in front of her and entered like she was a damn Queen.

“What the hell kind of shit are you pulling, Henry,” she barked, “You know better than to go on and mess with your Uncle Sal’s stuff like that you little brat!”

“Come on, it was just a…”

“Don’t you say another word,” Gram snapped as she pointed her wiry finger at Henry, “Don’t you dare tell me that this was a joke cause that ain’t no excuse in this house no more.”

Gram’s demeanor loosened as she dropped her hand back to her side and the red rage in her eyes calmed to their original caerulean color.

“Cause your Uncle Sal said those same words before he…before he blew himself up trying to scare the shit out of your Great Aunt Maria” Gram stammered.

The room became still as my father’s untimely demise was brought up. Uncle Leo, who hadn’t moved from the sink, only paused his fiddling with the break to turn and face Gram. I looked to the ground and crossed my arms. Henry finally picked himself off the floor, giggling like he was imagining my father as Wile E. Coyote getting blown up trying to catch to the Road Runner. But unlike the cartoon wolf now covered in soot, my father was now covered in six feet of dirt.

Gram quickly shook off the solemn mood and shot Henry an unforgiving look. Her sassy stature seemed to put Henry in his place as he half-heartedly apologized to Gram, and of course to Uncle Leo too. When she was satisfied, she put her purse down and walked back to the car to retrieve my Dad’s eager Dachshund, Pickle, from the truck.

As soon as the screen door slammed, my Uncle finally turned around proudly displaying his hand which was freed from the break. Henry reluctantly sighed and reached for the emergency break my Uncle Leo was holding out before him.

Before he left, Gram opened the screen door and let the dog scurry in past her legs. Henry gave Gram a somber look as he ignored Pickle who was jumping up on his legs as her tail wagged enthusiastically.

“Look Hun, I’m sorry I yelled” Gram apologized, “Here. Take one of these.”

Gram offered Henry a piece of chocolate fudge brownies she got at the store as a peace offering. Henry snatched it from the container and popped it into his mouth as he pushed the screen door out of his way.

“What a little shit” Uncle Leo mumbled as he rubbed his sore hand.

A genuine smile crept across Gram’s face as she placed the plate on the kitchen table. She knelt to the ground to give Pickle a belly rub and didn’t even flinch when angry yelps and coughs suddenly started pouring in from the yard,

“What the hell, this tastes like salty dirt! What in God’s green earth did you give me ya old hag!”

In tandem, My Uncle Leo and I looked to Gram.

“I find it funny how your father named this cute little hot dog Pickle after you fed him a whole jar of them when you were just three years, Rae” Gram said with a tinge of nostalgia, “When your daddy yelled at you that the dog was gonna turn into a pickle cause of it, you howled in a pool of tears and pickle juice ‘til your daddy scooped you up in his arms and told you it was a joke.”

“Uh, yeah I remember that a little…but what does that have to do with Henry’s hissy fit in the front yard” I asked.

Gram looked up to reveal a sly smirk on her face, “Your father had it right with his joke about Pickle, you are what you eat. And your Uncle Leo had it right with Henry being nothin’ but a little shit so…”

My Uncle Leo hoot and hollered as he bent forward in laughter. Gram and I began to chuckle too. Even Pickle howled to join in on the collective laughter. I mean, she was the one who helped make Henry’s special fudge brownie.

Posted in Storytime

The Corners: A Short Story

“Hello? Is anybody there?”

*Silence*

*Begins to walk down creepy hallway to certain death*

CREEEEAAAAKKKKK…

“What was that? Show yourself!”

*Music stops, dead silence as blonde bimbo starts to peer around corner*

*and…BOO!”

Winston flinched in his chair. I shot him a sly grin only to be greeted with a soft green pillow to the face. I let out a soft giggle. His bottom lip protruded out as he crossed his arms like a child having a temper tantrum. He glared across the room at me with his dull green eyes, unamused with the situation.

“Oh, shut up ya hypocrite,” Winston said as he ran his hand through his fluffy blonde locks.

“Hey! I didn’t even flinch!”

“Yeah, because you were too busy lookin’ at me!”

Winston flung himself onto the loveseat, arming himself with another pillow and chucked it straight at me. I dodged it with ease sending it careening over couch straight into the painting on the wall. I held my breath as it teetered from side to side gently scraping the wall.

It eventually settled against the wall with a slight tilted to the right. I reached over and gently pushed the corner up until it was level with the straight-edge top of the couch. I dropped my hand with a thud onto the armrest and I turned to face Winston.

The playful mood in the room deflated like a cold balloon as Winston pushed himself up from the loveseat,

“I’ll be right back. Going for a quick cig.”

“Yeah, okay. Want me to pause it?”

“Nah.”

He shoved his hands in his pockets, drew in his shoulders, and shuffled out of the room. I zoned out on the worn coffee table my feet were resting on until the slam of the backdoor echoed through the house, jerking me out of the trance.

I reached for the remote on the other end of the couch, punched the power bottom with my thumb, and launched it across the room. It slammed into the wall, leaving a dent in the outdated, brown paint. I curled my thin fingers into the pillow on my lap as if it would stop the hot tears that were beginning to spill onto my cheeks.

I stood to my feet, letting the pillow hit the floor, and turned to face it. The painting. His painting.

The acrylic on the canvas shimmered under the sun’s rays that were peeking through the blinds. Every bump, ridge, and edge were highlighted as if it the painting itself wanted to prove its authenticity through its imperfections.

The scene it portrayed was nothing out of the ordinary, however. It was of a busy street corner full of grey, uncharacterized citizens flooding though an intersection. Each head, void of any defining features associated with human faces, as if to emphasize their lack of importance to the viewer.

But right in the middle of this little grey and black street corner, was what appeared to be a young boy with his face looking toward the sky. Each wrinkle and crease of his face outlined by the reflection of the single sun ray that was pouring from a small whole in the overcast sky. He wore a baby blue hoodie with cream colored pants, accented by his bright red sneakers.

To the untrained eye, it looked as if the painter wanted to tell you that in the midst of all the grayness of the world, there is hope. But to me, I don’t see hope in that little boy’s brown eyes.

I leaned in close enough to feel my hot breath rebound off the painting back onto my lips. And there it was, a little glob of white paint representing a tear that was creeping out of the corner of the boy’s right eye. It wasn’t a tear of sadness, not even hope. No. It was the kind of tear that is shed out of sheer relief.

That’s what he wanted I guess. Relief.

Elias wasn’t born with a silver spoon in hand. He was like a boxer, cornered in a ring. No matter how hard he swung, or how many times he dodged. He was always beaten to a pulp.

His father left his mother was he wasn’t even out of the womb. His mother died before he spoke his first words. And he lived in so many foster homes, he lost track after number 28.

He got in trouble during high school on the daily for defacing locker doors with his doodles and popping pills like a Pez dispenser. He didn’t quit until Winston knocked some sense into him during their long night shifts at the local McDonalds. He was hired three times, fired twice, and quit once. There’s still a dent on the corner of the glowing yellow “M” from one of the many rocks he threw as revenge towards “the manager from hell”.

I forced him to take an art class with me on the weekends during my freshman year at college. I told him that if he wanted to draw for the rest of his life, he needed to do more than doodle on bathroom walls. He loved it.

He started painting in his spare time, sketching out designs on the back of unwanted receipts during his uneventful shifts at Play it Again Sports. After he finished his first full painting, he hung it on the wall behind the couch at his and Winston’s place. He argued with Winston on whether or not it needed more than one nail to stabilize it. They decided on one after learning it was the last one left in the box.

He died on a Tuesday. 14 days before his 24th birthday. He was wearing his favorite baby blue sweater. He was buried in the corner lot of Mountain View Cemetery. His name isn’t on the stone. It was faceless, like the emotionless people in his painting.

I heard the backdoor creak open as Winston’s feet softly padded on the kitchen tile. The door clicked shut just as he reached the entryway to the living room.

I took my eyes away from the painting on the wall and peered over my shoulder to where he was leaning against the doorframe.

“Sorry.” Winston said.

“It’s okay.”

Winston pushed himself off the doorway and took several big strides to embrace me into a warm hug. I buried my face into his cotton shirt and lost control of the tears.

“Do you think he even cared? Cared about what it would do to us?” I sobbed.

“Yes. I know he did, but depression isn’t something that can be fixed with a good talk and a hug, Nadia.”

“I know. I just wish we could have done something more…” I trailed off and let the wave of grief flow over my whole body.

After what seemed like hours, I had finally calmed down and Winston released me from his arms.

He glanced back to the painting, then to me, then back to the painting. Without losing eye contact, he walked past me, climbed onto the couch, picked up the painting, flipped it upside-down, and placed it back on the wall.

He shuffled off the couch and took a few steps back to get a good look at it.

“Uh, why did you flip it upside down? It looks weird now” I said.

“No, I think it looks better. See,” he pointed to the little boy, “now instead of looking up to heaven er whatever, he’s looking back down to us.”

I paused and examined the painting closer. Winston was right, he looked almost superhuman branching off from the street corner looking down to the clouds.

And in just a moment, that single tear’s meaning changed entirely. It changed him into a little boy who looks to the ones he left behind on Earth. He became the boy who cared, but harbored a disease that told him otherwise. It snuck into every corner of his life and whittled him down until there was nothing left.

But a corner is not just a place where the path ends, when there is nowhere to turn. It’s a place where two things collide and somehow make the perfect match.

Like the corner of your first smile, your first timeout in the corner when you learned markers are for paper and not for walls, the corner of the fence that doubled as your soccer “net”, the corner of the paper where the sun always went when you colored, the corner of the page you bent to remember where you left off, the corner of your graduation hat that  bent after it hit the ceiling when you threw it up into the air…

The corner is where two things meet. And to have a corner, means to have a connection between the pieces of your life that seem to be more like a deck of cards thrown at you that scattered all over the floor.

I gave a meek smirk to Winston. He grinned and put his arm around my shoulder as we quietly stood, looking at the little boy on the corner.

 

 

National Suicide Prevention Lifeline:

1-800-273-8255