Saturday, October 21, 2017

Part One of a screenplay: Dollhouse (thriller or horror movie)

This is Part 1 of a screenplay I wrote for one of my workshop classes at UCF. Stay tuned for Part 2.

(OS means "off screen," the character is speaking but is not in the shot. MOS means a character is talking but we can't hear what they are saying, like he's standing across the street talking on his phone.)


                                                                     DOLLHOUSE


INT. KITCHEN - DAY

ANNIE ARCHER, 12, is small for her age with the face of a porcelain doll: fair skin, rosy cheeks, bright green eyes and black hair lopped into a bob. She stands defiantly, hands on her hips, looking at her older sister, KATE, 16. Kate raises an eyebrow and scratches her head, messing up her pink hair.

ANNIE
Come on! I’ll hide and you come find me.

KATE
Really don’t feel like playing this again.

Kate rolls her eyes before covering them with her hands.

KATE (CONT’D)
One, two, three . . .

Annie takes off running.

INT. ATTIC - CONTINUOUS

Yellow late afternoon light shines in through the small round window at the end of the room, illuminating dust in the air. The door opens and Annie bursts in, closing the door quietly
behind her. Her head moves from left to right, searching for a place to hide. She tiptoes quickly to an old couch and crouches down behind it, peeking her head out to look at the attic door.

INT. KATE’S BEDROOM - SAME

Kate lies on her bed, her cell phone to her ear, talking MOS.

INT. ATTIC - CONTINUOUS

Annie peeks her head out from behind the couch again and frowns. Her eyes scan the expanse of the room. A few feet away, three female Russian nesting dolls lie, cracked open, on an old bookshelf. The mother doll lies in between two smaller dolls. Annie crawls out of her hiding spot and takes the smaller doll from the bookshelf, studying it.

She jumps when a box near her feet begins to shake. She GASPS and backs away slowly, her eyes never leaving the box. The box tips over and a doll similar to the one Annie is holding rolls out onto the floor with a CRACK. The doll opens in the middle and a smaller doll rolls out, coming to a stop
by the bookshelf.

A blinding light flashes between the two halves of the larger doll. Annie shields her eyes with her arm. When she moves her arm, she sees MISHA, 14, tall and thin with long black hair. She has a nasty case of resting bitch-face. Her eyes narrow at Annie.

Annie stumbles back, her mouth wide open in shock.

MISHA
Hello, sister. It’s been too long.

The smaller doll on the floor begins to vibrate. Annie clutches the doll in her hands tighter and takes off for the attic door.
 
Misha takes a step forward and glares at Annie’s back.

MISHA (CONT’D)
You don’t remember me?

Annie yanks the door open and bolts down the stairs.

INT. HALLWAY - CONTINUOUS

Annie slams the attic door shut behind her and runs down the hallway. She nearly collides with LINDA, 40, who catches her by the shoulders. Linda looks like a fashion editor at Vogue magazine, complete with a thin figure and messy dark bun.

LINDA
Whoa, honey. Slow down. What--

She stops mid-sentence when she sees the doll in Annie’s arms. Taking a shaky step back, she covers her mouth with one hand.

ANNIE
What, Mom?

Linda steadies herself against the wall. Her eyes move between the doll and Annie. The doll looks
exactly like Annie.

LINDA
What were you doing in the attic?

She reaches out and takes the doll from Annie.

ANNIE
We were playing hide and seek.

LINDA
I told you to never go up there.

Linda looks down at the Annie-doll in her hands then to Annie.

LINDA (CONT’D)
You have to be very careful with these dolls. They are worth more to me than...

She stops and wipes a tear from her eye.

LINDA (CONT’D)
Where are the rest of the dolls?

Annie’s eyes widen as she looks at something behind Linda.

Linda turns and the attic door slams shut.

LINDA (CONT’D)
Kate! Come out right now! I told you guys to stay out of the attic.

A bedroom door opens down the hall and Kate steps into the hallway looking confused.
 
KATE
What?

Linda GASPS, putting her hand over her chest.

ANNIE
It wasn’t Kate. There’s a girl up there.

Linda’s mouth forms a small “o” as her eyes travel to the attic door.

LINDA
Just one girl?

ANNIE
There were these dolls in a box and then it fell...The doll...opened and it was really bright and then
she was there. A smaller one was on the floor but I ran downstairs.

KATE
Wait, there’s someone in our attic? Shouldn’t we call the police, or--

LINDA
(under her breath)
Misha and Natalie.

KATE
What?
  
LINDA
No, it’s OK. Girls, go to your rooms.

KATE
Mom, what’s going on?

LINDA
Just take your sister and go to your room. Now.

Kate frowns and leads Annie to her bedroom. The door closes.

Linda goes to the attic door and opens it. About two dozen marbles come flying down the stairs. A few hit Linda. She shields her face from the onslaught.

LINDA (CONT’D)
Aah!

MISHA (O.S.)
Go away.

Linda looks up at the top of the stairs. Misha is holding one of the dolls. She tosses it down to Linda who barely catches it before it hits the hardwood floor.  Linda looks closely at the doll. It’s the smallest of the set. She clutches it close to her chest and looks back up to Misha.

LINDA
Oh, Misha, honey. I didn’t know you were---I couldn’t take care of all of you. But I can now! We can be a family again. Please talk to me.

Linda takes one step up the stairs. At the top of the stairs, Misha is holding a bowling ball.

MISHA
No, thank you, Mommy Dearest. But you’ll be sorry for what you’ve done. Keeping us locked up. You forgot about us.

LINDA
I didn’t forget. I told you--I’m sorry, I didn’t know you’d be awake! Please, Misha!

Misha holds up the ball and laughs maniacally.

Linda slams the door shut behind her and runs down the hallway toward the kitchen.

INT. KITCHEN - CONTINUOUS

She yanks open a drawer and pulls out a small gold key.

INT. HALLWAY - CONTINUOUS

Linda runs back to the attic door and inserts the key, locking it. She takes a few steps back and stares at the door. The doll in her hand shakes. Linda kneels and gently sets it onto the rug. The vibration speeds up until it looks like it will explode. Then the doll splits and the two halves roll apart leaving a blinding light in the center.

Linda takes a step back and looks away, shielding her eyes. When she looks back, a little girl stands before her. NATALIE, 5 years old, smiles wide. She looks identical to the face on the doll.

NATALIE
Mommy!

Linda rushes forward and pulls Natalie into a fierce hug.

LINDA
Baby, are you OK?

NATALIE
I’m fine, but...

She turns and points to the attic door.

NATALIE (CONT’D)
Misha is mad.

LINDA
I know, honey. I’m going to get you guys to Aunt Maddie’s house then I’ll try talking to Misha.

Natalie shakes her head.

NATALIE
I don’t think she wants to talk.

INT. KATE’S BEDROOM - DAY

Linda opens the door. Kate and Annie look up, confused.

LINDA
We need to pack up and go stay with Aunt Maddie, OK?

KATE
Mom, what’s going on?

Natalie peeks into the room.

LINDA
Natalie, come in and wait with Kate while I help your Annie pack.

Natalie walks in and smiles shyly at Kate and Annie.

LINDA (CONT’D)
Kate, do you remember?

Kate’s eyes widen at the sight of Natalie.

INT. LIVING ROOM - NIGHT - FLASHBACK
Linda stands with the largest doll split in half at her feet. Next to Linda, Kate stands with her doll, open at her feet. In front of them, a medium-sized doll begins to vibrate. It cracks open in the middle and breaks apart, leaving a smaller doll inside, unopened. A burst of light pours from the two halves. Misha appears and dances over to Linda and Kate, hugging them. The next doll follows the same pattern, vibrating until it bursts open, the two halves engulfed in blinding light. The light fades, Annie in its place. She jumps over the wooden halves to join Linda, Kate and Misha. The four stand close, holding hands as they watch the smallest doll vibrate and crack open. A flash of light then Natalie hops over her doll and runs to join her family.

Linda turns to Misha.

LINDA
And you’re sure you’re OK with this? You can say no.

MISHA
It’s OK, Mom. I can sleep for a while and you wake us up when you can.

INT. KATE'S BEDROOM - BACK TO PRESENT DAY

Kate jumps up and runs to Natalie, hugging her.

A flash of recognition in Annie’s eyes, she follows Kate and hugs Natalie.

KATE
How could we have forgotten?

Linda smiles.

LINDA
When you’ve been in human form for as long as we have, you tend to forget. I’ve wanted us all to be
together for so long. I had no idea you could still be conscious in doll form.

ANNIE
But Misha was.

Linda frowns and embraces all the girls at once.

LINDA
She was. I didn’t--

A loud thud cuts her off. She looks up in horror. The girls hug each other tighter as they look up to the ceiling. Misha’s maniacal laughter echoes down from the attic.

LINDA (CONT’D)
We should leave. I want to try talking to her again but I want you guys out of here first.

KATE
Talk to her? She’s crazy!

Linda shakes her head and begins throwing clothes into a suitcase.

LINDA
I know.

A loud CRASH sound down the hall. Then a THUD sounds outside the bedroom door. Linda peeks out.

INT. HALLWAY - CONTINUOUS

A bowling ball rolls straight down the hallway and CRASHES into the door of the hallway closet, leaving a hole in the door with splintered wood fragments all over the floor. Linda runs back into Kate’s bedroom and slams the door,locking it. The three girls huddle together in the corner of the room.

ANNIE
What happened?

Linda puts her finger to her lips in a shushing gesture. She listens, her ear against the door.

KATE
Do you smell that?

Linda sniffs the air.

LINDA
Oh, God, no.

A door slams shut.

LINDA (CONT’D)
We’ve got to make a run for it! Leave your bags. When I count to three, run as fast as you can to
the front door, OK? The three girls line up at the bedroom door. Linda opens it and pushes the girls in front of her.

LINDA (CONT’D)
Go, go!


INT. ENTRYWAY - CONTINUOUS
Linda, Kate, Annie and Natalie rush to the front door. Linda yanks on the door. It won’t open.

ANNIE
Aahh!

She jumps back and points to the window. Misha’s face fills the window frame. She smiles wickedly.
Tendrils of smoke dance behind Linda and her daughters. Linda looks behind them to the kitchen. Smoke is pouring out into the living room.

LINDA
Let us out!

Misha’s smile transitions back into a bored scowl. Kate kicks and bangs on the door. Misha ignores her and stares at Linda, who steps closer to the window.

LINDA (CONT’D)
I’m sorry, OK, sweetheart? I’m sorry. Please let us out. We can all be together now.

MISHA
Too late.

Linda turns and looks at the kitchen, which is now filled with smoke. She grabs a vase from the entryway table.

LINDA
Stand back, girls!

She throws the vase through the window.

EXT. PORCH - CONTINUOUS
Misha jumps back, caught off guard. She stumbles and loses her balance, falling down the steps.
The door bursts open and Linda and the girls run outside to the sidewalk across the street. Linda talks on her cell phone MOS. Kate points to the front lawn.
 
KATE
Look!

Misha cuts through the trees and drops something in the grass before she disappears behind a neighbor’s house. As SIRENS wail in the distance, Linda walks over and picks it up. It is the Misha-doll. Looking closely, there is one large crack along the side. Annie and Kate run up behind her.

ANNIE
Maybe she can go back in doll form and then she won’t be able to hurt
us.

Linda stares at the doll for a beat then turns to Annie and Kate. She points to the crack in the side.

LINDA
See how it’s cracked there? Once the wood is damaged, she can never return to the doll.

Annie’s head jerks up and she points down the street.

ANNIE
Mom! Look!

Misha stands a few hundred yards away under a street lamp, staring at them.

The SIRENS grow louder and a fire truck turns the corner onto their street behind Misha. A slow smile forms on her face before she turns and runs the other way, her long dark hair flying behind her in the wind.

Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Movies are Weird: Insights on Creativity and Entertainment

 
“The tremendous leisure industry that has arisen in the last few generations has been designed to help fill free time with enjoyable experiences. Nevertheless, instead of using our physical and mental resources to experience flow, most of us spend many hours each week watching celebrated athletes playing in enormous stadiums. Instead of making music, we listen to platinum records cut by millionaire musicians. Instead of making art, we go to admire paintings that brought in the highest bids at the latest auction. We do not run risks acting on our beliefs, but occupy hours each day watching actors who pretend to have adventures, engaged in mock-meaningful action.”
Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, Flow


  

 I had live-streamed Bonnaroo on my laptop on June 15, 2014. I had been talking to my sister who lived so close to the festival site (Manchester, Tennessee) at the time that she could hear the music. We are both huge Jack White fans so she was ecstatic to be able to hear his set live from her backyard and I was green with envy as I sat in Orlando watching it live-stream on my laptop. But I recorded a few bits and pieces of his set onto my voice recorder on my iPhone as I listened. Today I was going through all my old voice memos and heard one from Jack's Bonnaroo set that I wanted to share. It's just something that I've thought of many times and to hear someone else say it was pretty cool.

    He quotes a conversation he had with a movie director one time who said, "I think films are so strange. If an alien came down and walked into a movie theater, and watched [all the people watching] two people talking to each other on a screen, an alien would've said to a human being, 'so you come in here and pay money, your hard-earned money, to sit down and watch two people talk to each other? Why don't you do that at home? Why don't you do that at home?'"

     I just think that's interesting. I've always felt a little strange watching TV or watching a movie. (don't get me wrong, I can binge-watch all 9 seasons of The Office, and I also love Grey's Anatomy) but I've always thought, "why am I sitting here watching other people do things? It's weird. Why don't I go out and do things?"

    It's also a topic covered in a book I read a few years ago called, Flow: The Psychology of Optimal Experience by Mihaly Csikszentmihaly. In it, he writes, "Although watching TV is far from being a positive experience—generally people report feeling passive, weak, rather irritable, and sad when doing it—at least the flickering screen brings a certain amount of order to consciousness. The predictable plots, familiar characters, and even the redundant commercials provide a reassuring pattern of stimulation. The screen invites attention to itself as a manageable, restricted aspect of the environment. While interacting with television, the mind is protected from personal worries. The information passing across the screen keeps unpleasant concerns out of the mind.”

  I guess my point is, watching movies and TV has its place. Sometimes we need to do something mindless and escape our reality for a while. I just think we need to be careful not to go overboard and let our lives slip away. It feels so much better to create something yourself, whether you're dancing, singing, writing, painting, crafting, designing a video game, a website, starting your own biz, quilting, making handbags out of your cat's shedded fur...

Anyone else agree?

Sunday, September 4, 2016

New Flash Fiction/Short, short story

Wanted: Someone Who Hates Faith Hill as Much as I Do

     Reaching across the table, I take Charlotte’s hand and squeeze it gently. She smiles and gives me a light squeeze in return. It’s our third date and we’re sitting in a booth in the back corner of T.G.I. Friday’s. I had made reservations (unbeknownst to her) at an expensive French restaurant but Charlotte had insisted on Friday’s because she loves their mojitos. I think she might be a keeper.

     As soon as the server leaves, Charlotte slides the flip booklet in front of her and starts thumbing through the pictures of drinks and desserts. “Ooh, look at this,” she says, pointing to a picture of molten lava cake.

     I nod and start to reply but my heart skips a beat. I look around the restaurant and register the song flowing out of the speakers above us. It’s that song. God, how I hate it. And as if that isn’t bad enough, the music video is on the television above the bar. Why don’t they have football on? Faith Hill is sitting atop a giant peach, swinging back and forth, singing about a kiss that was apparently so powerful she had to write a song about it. I had seen the video years ago when it came out, but now it just seems stupid. The cheesy melody, her perky vocal inflections full of overdone joy, it’s too much. I normally don’t have such strong opinions about music, but there is a reason this particular song irks me so much. I remember being in the sixth grade and having to take the bus to and from school every day.

     I stood at the end of my driveway by our faded black mailbox and watched as the big yellow bus slowed to a stop in front of me. After some puffing noises from the engine, the folded door opened and I looked up to see Mr. Evans. He was leaning over in his seat, his large hand gripping the lever. Wiry tufts of grey hair spread across his hand like old, dying trees in a forest with a peach floor and tiny brown ponds scattered throughout. Looking back up at his face, I watched him raise his eyebrows and give me a half-hearted smile. I hesitated. There was still time to run back to the house.

     He rolled his eyes. “C’mon, son,” he said. “Haven’t got all day.” I did this every morning and every morning Mr. Evans would say the same thing, an annoyed look on his wrinkled and weather-beaten face. I sighed and climbed the steps, praying Benjamin would be home sick today. But no such luck. He was sitting in the back, as usual, away from Mr. Evans, away from any possibility of him hearing what went on back there.

     Benjamin sat up straight in his seat as soon as I stepped on. “Hey, Matt!” he called out. “I saved you a seat. Come on, buddy!” He slapped the seat next to him loudly and laughed, looking around at his friends who laughed with him. My eyes scanned the entire bus for a seat away from him but they were all taken. The only open seats were in the back. Resigned, I made my way back to an open seat two rows ahead of him.

     “Aww, you hurt my feelings,” he said. “I just want to be your friend.”

     I ignored him and sat down, putting my backpack on the floor in front of me. Then I felt a sharp searing pain on the top of my head. Turning around, I realized Benjamin must have switched seats with someone so now he was sitting directly behind me. Hitting me on the head with his book was his favorite, followed by shooting spitballs at me through a straw. And then, like clockwork, “This Kiss” from Faith Hill started playing on the radio. 107.1 WJAM must have played it fifty times a day and I heard it every single morning on the way to school and sometimes on the way back home, too. It was the soundtrack to my torture, courtesy of Benjamin Pruitt, the nightmare of the sixth grade at Lexington Elementary.

     He continued his attack, alternating between the spitballs and the whacks to the top of my head all while taunting me, saying things like, “Why are you such a nerd, Matt?” and “Everyone hates you, why don’t you just jump out the window?” As I yelled at him to leave me alone, while trying to get Mr. Evans’ attention (he was too busy singing along to the stupid song), and dodging the wet pieces of paper flying at me, the words blared from the speaker, “It’s. . .the way you love me, it’s. . .a feeling like this, it’s. . .centrifugal motion, it’s perpetual bli-iss. . .” 

     “Hello? Earth to Matt,” Charlotte’s voice rings in my ears.

     I blink. “I’m sorry,” I say, glancing around. The song is over.

     “What happened? Are you OK? You were gone for a minute there.”

     “Oh, yeah, I—“ I start. Should I tell her or will she think I’m crazy? Hell with it. “That song just. . .it makes me—“

     “Oh, God. I hate that song,” Charlotte says, sticking her finger in her mouth and making a gagging noise. “It’s so annoying. A song about a damn kiss? Really? So lame.”

     I laugh and breathe a sigh of relief. “I couldn’t agree more.”

Saturday, April 30, 2016

The Letter

It's seven in the morning and I'm awake before my husband. I've actually been up since 4:30 but I won't tell him that, he'll just worry that my anxiety is getting worse again. My mother passed away three months ago and I've been a wreck ever since. It's not that we were close. But I'll never have closure, never find out where that resentful look came from. Her deep blue eyes were cold and dead, staring, unblinking and her mouth was set into a hard line. I was always confused by that look, wanted desperately to know what it meant. When I got older, I understood. It's funny how when we grow up things become clearer but I wish they didn't. 
No one knew what she was really like behind closed doors. She and my father had divorced when I was ten and she had begun drinking day and night. To everyone else, she was a successful single working mother. In reality, I was a ten year old adult, cooking, cleaning and taking care of my three year old sister. I guess I didn't do a good job raising Stephanie because she now has a drinking problem of her own and can barely keep a job. I've tried to help her. Ryan and I took her in a couple years ago and she destroyed our house, having parties while we were gone and the real kicker was when she stole $1000 from us.
We have a dishwasher but I like to hand-wash the dishes from the night before. I find it soothing. I like to gaze out of the window above the sink and daydream. Sometimes I imagine I have a child, maybe a little girl, and we play dress up and paint our nails. Grandma comes over every weekend and we sit in the morning and talk and laugh. There are five of us—me, Ryan, my (made up) daughter, my mother, my sister Stephanie—and it feels like home because it is home. I'm content and at peace.
I fill the sink with hot water and soap, using the purple sponge to wash the dinner dishes clean. Every couple of minutes, I pause and take a sip of my coffee. Birds are singing their morning song in the oak tree right outside the window and I look for them but can't see them. Then, I see a branch move up and down, the vivid green leaves trembling and a blue bird flits off into the air.
When I'm done, I sit on a bar stool at the kitchen island with my coffee and it starts again. My chest is tight, I feel nauseous and dizzy. My hands and feet have tiny electric currents running through them. The worst part is the dread I feel. I know it's irrational and I'm just having another panic attack but what if Ryan comes downstairs and sees me like this? What if it doesn't go away this time? What if I feel like this forever? My heart accelerates at the thought. My rational mind knows it's not possible, but my agitated mind tries to convince me it will happen, that I've lost all control. What if I'm late for work again? They'll eventually fire me and we'll lose our house and it'll be all my fault. Breathe, Kate, I tell myself. This is not real. Everything is OK.
I take several slow, deep breaths in a row and within a few minutes, my breathing calms. I feel better although there is still the remnant of the attack in my chest: a hollow, raw, gnawing feeling, somewhere between a sore, overworked muscle and an intense hunger. I am scarred. I don't know if these will ever stop and how much longer I can keep hiding them.
There is a box under the bed that contains a plain white envelope, the only words written on the outside read Kate in elegant scrawl. Stephanie dropped off the letter a couple weeks ago. She had found it in an old box when she was undoubtedly going through our late mother’s belongings to see what she could sell. I’ve had a hard time sleeping since then with the monster under the bed. I know I should just open it but I feel so fragile that I could break. She wasn’t known for making people feel good about themselves so if it’s a letter, it won’t be a happy one. I don’t know if I can handle the contents but avoiding it isn’t much better. It’s taking on a life of its own, taunting me when I lie down at night. I can feel it and it grows more ominous every day. I had a nightmare last night that I came home from work and the letter was lying on the bed. It wasn’t the same size though, it had grown to be as big as one of those checks people are photographed with when they win a large sum of money.

Tonight we are having some friends over. About a month ago, I was having a rare happy day, or as I call it, a “sunny” day, because it feels the clouds have parted. I decided to invite our closest friends to our house for a small party. Ryan thought it might help me to feel better so I went for it. Now the thought of entertaining seems overwhelming. I feel like I will have to plant a fake smile on my face all night and the thought is exhausting.

After Ryan leaves for work, I decide to go upstairs and confront the monster under the bed. My hands shake as I grip the banister on my way up. Maybe I’m making a big deal out of it. Maybe it’s nothing. I sit on the edge of the bed, turning the envelope over and over in my hands. It could be anything, a photograph, a receipt, movie tickets. Stephanie just found it in a box. It’s not as if Mom handed it to her and said, “Give this to Kate.” But my name is written on the outside. I wonder if Stephanie got a letter, too.
Finally, I rip it open and it is a neatly folded piece of cream-colored stationary, the same kind my mother used when she wrote letters to friends. At the top is a scroll of red and yellow flowers and the page is full, written in black ink. As I begin to read, my eyes burn and my face heats.
Thank you for being strong when I couldn't. I am sorry for what I put you through and I am sorry for treating you the way I did. You didn't deserve that. You are such an amazing young woman. I don't know how much longer I have. Don't waste your life like I did. Don't be angry and take it out on those you love, those who are good to you. I don't want you to have the regrets that I have. I want you to have all the happiness in the world. I love you, Kate, my beautiful girl.
The letter falls from my hands and I lean over, holding my head in my hands. I am in shock. I can’t even cry. My chest burns a little and I can feel my heart beating faster. Butterflies flit around my stomach. I recognize this feeling as guilt but why the hell should I feel guilty? I force a laugh and roll my eyes. That was the purpose, I’m sure. To paint herself as the good guy in the end and leave me with a letter full of beautiful words I never got to hear when she was alive. Well played, Mom, well played.
***
Later, our friends are scattered around the kitchen, each with a drink in hand. Ed Sheeran is singing in the background and I feel relaxed for the first time in weeks. I love the sound of an intimate gathering, with a few different conversations going at once, the occasional clink of a wine glass, the sudden outburst of laughter every so often.
Then the doorbell rings. As I'm walking to the front door, the person on the other side starts banging on the door. I look out the peephole and then seeing who it is, I sigh and lean my forehead against the door. I don't want to open it. But I'm sure my drunk sister on the other side can hear the music and she has seen the cars in the driveway. If I don't open it, who knows what she will do? Probably key everyone's cars.
I crack the door. "Stephanie. What are you doing here?" She is wearing a white, almost see-through halter top with no bra, old ripped jeans and high top Converse sneakers. She looks like she just stepped out of 1996. Looking closer, I notice a faint bruise on her left cheek.
"Well, hey sis. I love you, too. Let me in. I want to catch up," she says. She burps loudly and then covers her mouth and giggles. "Oops, sorry. How very unladylike of me."
I step outside onto the porch and close the door behind me. "I have friends over and you're drunk. Are you OK?” I point to her cheek. “What’s that?”
"Nothing. I’m sorry to bother you. I’ll go.” She starts to turn but I touch her shoulder and she turns back to face me.
I peer over her shoulder to the driveway at an old silver Ford Taurus. "How'd you get here? You didn't drive—"
"No, he gave me a ride." She jerks her thumb over her shoulder and a pale blonde boy smirks and nods at me through the car window.
"Steph, I just wish you'd—" I begin.
“What? Get my shit together like you?”
“I tried to help you, I don’t know what else to do.”
“I’m a lost cause. I’ve accepted it.”
I sigh and watch her for a moment. “Who is that?” I ask, pointing to the guy in the car.
“That’s Kyle, my boyfriend.”
Looks like a real winner, I think. “Look, I’m worried about you. Would you come inside and sober up a little? Go take a shower. Maybe sleep a little.”
“I don’t want to bother you and your little party.”
“Steph, you’re my sister. Please come in. Tell Kyle he can go home.”
She pauses and I think she’s going to say no, but she walks over to the car and I can’t hear what she is saying but I see them kiss and he pushes a large bag out of the backseat into her hands. A few seconds later, he peels out of the driveway. I wonder if he’s angry or if that’s just how he drives.
When she comes back, her bag slung over shoulder, I hold the door open and she walks in with her head down and goes straight for the stairs. I decide to give her some space for a while and let her rest.
After a couple hours, I go to check on her and she’s sitting on the bed holding the letter. She looks like she’s been crying. She holds it up. “So this is the letter you got?”
I sit down next to her. “Yes. I’m still in shock. I haven’t figured out if she meant it or is just trying to make me feel guilty for. . .I don’t know. . .being so angry with her over the years.”
Stephanie makes a face. “That should be obvious. She was one manipulative witch.”
“I know. But I have to make peace with her somehow so I can move on.”
“Well at least you got a nice letter. You can decide to take it that way if it helps you. Me, I don’t get a choice.”
“You got a letter?”
“Yeah. She basically just detailed how disappointed she was in me. She said she couldn’t believe you and I are related because we’re so different. She was so proud of you.”
I feel tears start to escape. “I’m so sorry.” I reach for her hand but she pulls away. “You need to understand that she was shitty to me my whole life. You were there but you were young and don’t realize. She never told me she was proud of me. She was not nice to me, Steph. It wasn’t like that.”
Stephanie stays silent and keeps staring down at the letter.
“I had to grow up fast. I took care of her, of you. . .I was happy to do it, but please understand that it was hard for me. I wasn’t given a choice. The responsibilities I had. . .no one that young should ever have.”
She still gives no response, so I continue. “I have major anxiety problems now. I take Xanax to get through the day. I’ve been on Prozac for longer than I’d like to admit. If you have this vision of me being perfect and keeping it all together, that is not reality. I know I try to make it seem that way, but it’s not.”
“Kyle hits me,” she says suddenly. She looks at me, her long lashes are wet and her eyes are red and puffy. The bruise on her cheek is fading but I knew as soon as I saw it. I knew as soon as I saw Kyle and the way he looked at her, the way he looked at me.
I pull her close and wrap my arms around her. She tries to resist at first, but I don’t let go and finally I feel her arms around my waist. Her body shakes as she sobs, her moans muffled in my shoulder. We sit this way for what seems like hours.
Finally, she pulls back and wipes her eyes. I hand her a few tissues from the nightstand and sit silently as she wipes her face and blows her nose. She tosses the soggy tissues in the trash and looks at me. “Thank you.”
No more words are needed. I understand she is thanking me for taking care of her, for sacrificing my childhood. 
I smile. “You’re welcome.”
“I’m exhausted,” she says.
“I’m sure you are. Why don’t you go to sleep?” I glance at the clock. “Our friends should be leaving soon so it will be quiet.”
She nods. “OK, I’ll be in the guest room. Goodnight,” she says as she turns to leave.
“Goodnight,” I say.
My knees suddenly feel weak and I carry myself to the bed and sit. Something comes over me, some force, something stronger than me and I feel my eyes burn, tears burst out and flow down my face and I’m shaking, sobbing that deep sob that comes from the depths of your soul. Something inside me is being released and it hurts. A part of me is leaving my body. I hurl myself into the bathroom and kneel down in front of the toilet and continue the purging. After a couple minutes, I stand, brush my teeth and fix my face a little. I go sit on the bed again but it feels different. I feel clean and light and strong. The deep ache, the heaviness I had been carrying has lightened.
I walk over to the window and push open the curtains. The sky is clear and I can see thousands of sparkling stars against the black canvas. They shimmer and wink at me. Maybe I’ve been too harsh. Mom is gone now and I can’t speak to her. I have no way of knowing if the kind words in the letter are genuine. But it really doesn’t matter. I’m still alive. Stephanie is still alive. I got my little sister back. I close my eyes and silently say a prayer for Mom.  
Laughter drifts up the stairs and I remember there are a bunch of people down there who are probably getting worried about me so I close the curtains and head downstairs.



Sam

I think of Adam as my savior. His name is even the same as the first man on earth. This is according to my mother, the star of the church choir and the blondest of all the Stepford wives in Celebration.  Let me just say that I am not an entitled millennial from a wealthy family who ran away from home. The truth is, Adam saved me from a very dysfunctional home. I got out of there a month after graduating high school and have not looked back. Adam was twenty-one and had his own place when I moved in with him. He owns his own business. He comes from a good family. I don't know what he is doing with me.
Sometimes I feel lonely at night, even with Adam lying beside me. It's not normal to be so disconnected from your family, is it? Then the guilt creeps in and I wonder if it was all my fault. Maybe I was a bad daughter. Maybe I don't deserve Adam, my loyal, caring boyfriend of three years. When these ugly thoughts come, I can feel my heart speed up and a thick fog rises from my chest to my throat. I put my hand over my heart, turn my head to look at Adam in the dark, afraid that he can hear my heart pounding, afraid that the sound will give me away, that he will come to his senses and leave me, but he is fast asleep, snoring softly. Then I wonder what it is, this dense air, this substance that is steadily rising up, threatening to pour out of my mouth. Is it the truth? Is it that I'm really a bad person and one day, sooner or later, everyone, including Adam, will see it? The cat will be out of the bag one day, I just know it. I can't fool him forever. Then, as I lie still next to Adam, listening to his steady, deep breathing, I talk myself out of it. It wasn't my fault. My father is an abusive, sick bastard and my mother didn't give a shit. The only thing I did wrong was not leave sooner. But I'm never entirely convinced of my innocence.
It is July and our air conditioner has been broken for the past twenty-four hours. Our landlord does not seem to understand why we are getting impatient. This cannot be healthy. Adam has taken matters into his own hands and called the air conditioning company himself because that’s what he does.
I huff and look up at the thermostat. It reads eighty-four degrees. I snatch up a folder from the counter and start fanning myself. "This is insane. When did they say the air would be fixed again?" I close my eyes and tilt my head up facing the ceiling, praying for one small glorious gust of cold air to come out of the vent.
"Probably tomorrow. The manager said he would call us back by eight tonight to let us know. I'm sure it'll be fixed soon, hon." Adam smiles, tracing his fingertips along my arm. I look into his deep brown eyes, so calm and sure that everything will be OK. He is so Zen all the time, sometimes it is unnerving.  
"I hope so."
He tilts his head and smiles at me. "I know so."
I soften and reach my arms around him, hugging him tight. His damp shirt clings to mine and he smells faintly of sweat and I'm sure I do, too.
He hugs me back, kisses my cheek and then pulls away, starting to walk out of the kitchen. But he stops and whirls around to face me again where I stand by the oven. "Is the oven on?" His eyes are wide.
I raise my eyebrows and look at the stove then back at Adam. "I wanted to make brownies."
"But you're complaining about the heat and that just makes it hotter in here."
I shrug and toss the folder back onto the counter. "I'm going to change," I say.
"You make no sense, Sam."
"I know." I ruffle his hair as I pass by him on my way to the stairs.

Upstairs in our bedroom, I thumb through my dresser for something light and cool to put on. I come across an old pair of shorts from high school and pull them out, tossing them onto the bed. They are bright blue with faint yellow stripes. My mom bought them for me on a back to school shopping trip. That was her way of coping with the misery of living with my father: shopping. Over the years, my father, Dr. Oren Reilly, had increased his drinking, going from a couple beers a night to the harder stuff, his favorite being Jack Daniels. The night that I called Adam—February 24, 2013—my father had downed a bottle of Jack and I had a busted lip. My mother had been hiding in the bedroom, pretending that everything was OK as usual. Fifteen minutes after calling Adam, I was already outside, standing next to the garage, my "get-away" bag (having been packed a week prior) slung over my shoulder when Adam peeled into the driveway, tires squealing. I was miles away from the house before my parents knew that I left. My mother had called me throughout the night and into the next day, begging me to come back home. She promised everything would be different. That's when I lost respect for her. She was a grown woman; if she wanted to be in denial and stay in that hellish existence with my father, that was her choice. But what kind of mother would want her child to live there?
As I slip on my flip-flops, I hear the doorbell ring and come downstairs. I see Adam making his way to the front door, so I go back into the kitchen to check on the brownies. They are done so I put on my polka dot oven mitts and pull the pan from the oven.  
Wondering who is at the door, I peek out from the kitchen and over Adam's shoulder. There is a young woman with red hair standing on our porch. Adam is leaning slightly to the right, his hand resting on the doorframe and I can see the left half of her body clearly. 
"Hi, neighbor. I'm just across the street," she says, motioning with her thumb over her shoulder. Adam doesn't respond at first. The woman's wild copper hair points in every direction and her white tank top is soaked with water or sweat so that we can see her neon green bra underneath. Her denim shorts hug her thighs and are so short that the pockets peek out from under the hem. Classy. On her feet are hot pink flip-flops that have seen better days.
She is saying something but I can't hear well enough from the kitchen. I take a few steps toward the doorway to the living room. The woman is smiling at Adam. She says, "So, can I borrow one if you have an extra?"
Adam nods and starts to speak but the woman leans a little to her right and looks at me. I am standing at the edge of the living room holding the pan of brownies. Adam moves slightly to the side and I see her completely. I lock eyes with her then look her up and down. Still looking at her, I say to Adam, "You going to introduce me to your friend?"
"Oh, she just stopped by, she lives across the street and. . ." Adam trails off.
"And I asked to borrow a fan if you can spare one. I'm Kristy." She smiles and looks directly at me, mimicking me, looking me up and down.
I turn and walk back into the kitchen. "There might be one in the basement. Tell her she's more than welcome to go look for it," I call out. I can hear the bitchy tone in my voice but I don’t care.
"I'm sorry. Let me go see if I can find it. Come in and have a seat." Why did he invite her in?
"Why not?" Kristy says, shrugging, before choosing the big green chair facing the kitchen.
"Make yourself at home," I call out. What I really mean is, 'get out of my house and stop flirting with my boyfriend' but I don't say it.
"Thanks."
A few minutes later, Adam comes back into the room holding a large white fan. "Here you go," he says to Kristy.
After the redhead leaves, Adam turns to me. "Let's go somewhere for dinner. I have to get out of here. It's too hot."

The hostess seats us at the far corner of the restaurant and as we take our seats in a booth, Adam begins removing his silverware from the napkin. "You were rude to her."
I lean back in my chair and look away. Stop with the truth already, will you?
"Hello, Sam?"
"What?"
Before he can say anything, the server comes over, places two gray tinted glasses of water in front of us and takes our order. When he leaves, Adam sighs and looks at me, his eyebrows raised.
 "What do you want me to say?"
Adam shakes his head but says nothing. He looks away and I do the same, staring out the window. We sit in silence until the server is back, setting our hot plates in front of us.
After a few bites, I put my fork down. "This chick comes over dressed like that, starts flirting with you and I'm supposed to be nice to her?"
Adam slams his fork down onto his plate. His brows are knitted tightly together.
"Now you're mad?" I say.
I lean forward, my eyes wide. Adam looks down and begins twisting his napkin in his hands. His forehead is wrinkled and he bites his lip before speaking. "I remember when we first met. You were so happy," he says.
My jaw drops. "I was happy? I was running away from an abusive father and a clueless, plastic mom. I tried to off myself. I was just a ray of sunshine."
Adam sighs. "You know what I mean. We were happy together. You trusted me. I just don't know why you'd be threatened by some random woman who lives across the street."
"That service dog over there." I motion with my head. "He looks just like one I used to have."
"He went out the door. I can't see him."
As we stare out the window of our favorite restaurant, a gust of wind comes through the front door, blowing over a stack of menus from the stand.
"Why does it seem all we do is argue, Sam?"
I shrug. "I used to believe we never would. But, we don't really. Not that much."
Adam frowns and pulled the Peg Board game towards him. He stares at the small wooden triangle with the red, blue and white pegs protruding from the holes. Old coffee stains splatter the surface.
I slide my chair closer to the table. "Not as much as them," I say, pointing to the television in the corner of the ceiling where two presidential candidates were debating.
"Why do you always change the subject?"
I swipe the Peg Board game away from Adam and start playing.
 "You know what I did a week after we met? I was out shopping and running errands. When I passed by a jewelry store, something made me go inside. I spent an hour looking at rings and had one picked out for you."
"You never told me that," I say.
Adam nods and pushes his dinner plate to the edge of the table.
"Well, why would you want to marry me?"
He smiles and reaches for my hand. "Because I love you, Sam, believe it or not."
***
I'm still thinking about our conversation the next morning on my way back from the gym. He was going to propose? I'm way too messed up to be marriage material. He should know that, I think. I pull into the driveway and hope Adam isn't home. I am in a weird mood and don't want him to see me like this. I just want to grab a post-workout snack and lie down for a while, slip into oblivion. Walking into the house, I see a pile of mail on the counter. Great, probably more bills, I think. I flip to an envelope with "Mid-Florida Hospital" printed on the outside. Oh, look, here's one now! Because I don't have enough to worry about.  I open it and the first thing I see is a number that is way too large and a red stamp: "Past Due." Thirty thousand dollars. I feel nauseous even though I haven't eaten yet. I toss it into the file where the rest of the past due hospital bills go: the tall stainless steel can under the sink with a plastic bag in it. I call it the Bye-Bye File. Adam doesn't know about my debt and he doesn't need to. I am already enough of a burden on him. I wish I could tell him all my secrets. They are jumbled up inside me and I feel like an overstuffed trash bag that cannot hold one more thing without bursting open. But it is all so ugly. I can't let it burst, I can't let him see inside.
I go lie down in bed and the next thing I hear is the front door closing. I look over at the clock and realize I've slept for an hour. When I come downstairs, I see Adam standing at the sink. He turns when he hears my footsteps. In his hand are crumpled pieces of paper and envelopes. Damn. He found them.
"Sam. What are these?" he asks, holding them up.
I know what they are without looking. I cross my arms over my chest. "They're nothing. I'm handling it."
"By throwing them away?"
"It's not your problem. Why were you digging around in the trash?"
"I was getting ready to take it out and one of these fell out." He tosses a few crumpled sheets of paper onto the counter. "These are from three years ago and it is my problem. We share problems, that's how this works."
I sit at the table and cover my face with my hands. "I don't want to think about three years ago." About six months after I left home and came to live with Adam, I had attempted suicide. I felt so guilty for running away from home, leaving my mother alone with that monster. I had stayed in the hospital for two days under close observation and had to undergo a psychiatric evaluation.
Adam sighs and pulls out the chair next to me, sitting down. "Of course you don't. You're better now and we've moved on. But you can't just pretend these don't exist. You told me your insurance paid for it."
I don't know what to say so I sit silently, my face buried in my hands. Who would want to be with someone with all this debt? We are both so young. Why does he stay with me? It makes me so angry, the unfairness of it all. My eyes start to burn. I always cry when I'm angry and this only makes me more upset.
"Sam, I'm not angry. Let me help you with this. I can call them and set up a payment plan, OK?"
I stand up from the table and wipe my eyes with the back of my hand. "Why aren't you angry with me? You really should be. You always have to rescue me."
Adam grabs my hand. "It's my job and I'm happy to do it."
I laugh. Why, I don't know, but I have a sick, burning feeling in the pit of my stomach and I need to push him away. It's for his own good. "Well, aren't you a saint? God, it's so pathetic." I want to take back the words as soon as I say them. He is silent, looking at me with those kind brown eyes. He only looks mildly irritated. I try to decipher the look on his face and then I realize it is pity. That sends me over the edge. "I can't breathe. I'm going outside." I say before opening up the sliding glass door. I walk outside and close it behind me, looking through the glass. Adam hasn't moved. He looks sad, as if he is about to cry. The glass between us may as well be ten feet thick. My chest aches and I have to turn away.
Our neighbor's children are outside playing and their laughter, like little bells, drifts over. I feel cold even though it must be eighty degrees outside. As I sit on the old plastic chair on the porch, I decide to skip work tomorrow and go somewhere. Where, I don't know yet. I just need to get away and think. There are two people inside of me; one who wants to run away and be alone, and one who wants to run inside and wrap my arms around Adam and tell him I'm sorry and that I love him.

The next morning Adam kisses me goodbye, saying, "Don't worry about this. I'll take care of it. I love you." He hugs me and it is almost too much. The guilt, the dense fog is creeping up from my chest again and wants to escape but I push it back down.
I wait until he leaves and call my boss and tell him I have the flu. Then I get dressed and throw my large straw hat and towel in my bag. I'm going to the beach. It always makes me feel clean. It is the only place I can think. It is about an hour drive and I love long drives. They always make me feel powerful, like I am making a decision, taking control of my life. Maybe if I just spend the day there, I will feel better and I can come back and talk to Adam. But I just can't talk to anyone right now. I feel raw, like my chest is wide open for the world to see and everyone can see my ugly, bruised heart and all its dirty secrets.
In the car, I wrap my hair in a scarf, roll down the windows and turn on the radio. I have to keep changing the station because so many of the songs make me want to cry. Finally I find an alternative station that doesn't remind me of anything. I sing along and after a while, the air starts to smell salty. It starts to feel cleaner and lighter. I can already feel the fog in my chest dissipating.
I cross over the causeway, glancing to my left and right, taking in the sparkling blue water, the sunlight dancing on the surface. Cars zoom past me and I realize I am driving slow.
When I get to the beach, I find a spot in front of a set of steps leading down to the sand. I reach into my glove box and grab a few quarters for the parking meter. Sliding quarters in one after the other, I wait until the little faded screen reads “3:00” and then I grab my bag and head for the steps.
It's Wednesday so the beach is almost empty. The only people here are a few older people on their morning walk and a family wearing bright neon baseball caps with "Florida" printed on the top in cursive.  
I find a spot about twenty feet from the family and spread my towel on the powdery sand. Tossing my bag to the left, I decide to keep my shorts and tank top on for a while, until the sun warms me a little more. I sit in the middle of the oversized neon striped towel, lean back and close my eyes, feeling the sun's warmth gently pressing onto my eyelids. It's still early and there's a light breeze sweeping over me, giving me goose bumps every few seconds. I shiver and a memory of the hospital room from three years ago pops into my mind. I had goose bumps in that room, too. I had been living with Adam since the night he came and took me away. One night, Adam had been working late and I felt sad and didn't know why. I had convinced myself everything was OK now that I was out of my parents' house. But then I had seen eight missed calls from my mother and a voicemail.
"Samantha, this is your mother. Your father and I are worried about you. He is sorry he hit you. He lost his temper. . .Sam. You can't talk back to him like that, you know how it makes him. Anyway, honey. Look. He has cut back on his drinking. He is getting help. You need to come back home where you belong, not live in sin with that boy. You know that's wrong, Sam. We didn't raise you that way. Call your mother back, Samantha. If you love me at all, you will call me back."
Somehow my phone had ended up broken and Adam had come home to find me lying on the floor, an empty pill bottle next to me.  The next thing I remember was waking up in the hospital, IVs and tubes everywhere, and Adam sitting on the chair next to the bed. Right before the doctors discharged me, he had taken my hand and said, "You're going to be OK. I'm here. I'm not going anywhere."

After a while, I look around the beach again and two birds catch my eye. I have no idea what kind they are, only that they are small and white. One is slightly larger than the other and they are identical except that the smaller one has a marking on its head that looks like the Nike symbol. I decide the smaller one is female and silently name her Nike. Their movements are both graceful and jerky at the same time. The two peck around in the sand for a while, looking for food, until they bump into each other. Nike is suddenly flustered, her wings twitching and she starts to chase after the other one. The bigger one takes off in flight for a few feet then settles back down again on the sand. He sits still and Nike comes over, continuing the assault. The larger one squawks loudly and Nike stops in her tracks and the two stare each other down for a few seconds. Finally, Nike flits off on her little spindly legs. I watch, fascinated with the drama until finally Nike slowly comes back to her mate. I expect the fighting to start up again but the larger one sits calmly while Nike approaches. Her mate takes a couple steps towards her and begins preening her, gently pecking at her feathers.
      My eyes start to burn and I feel a tear escape and roll down my cheek. He never leaves. After all that I've put him through, he loves me, accepts me as I am. Maybe he knows something I don't. Then it dawns on me: I must be really tough. Look where I came from and somehow I'm still alive. I'm a fighter. That is something. 
     I wipe my face with the edge of my towel and stand up. The birds who were about ten feet away, fly away when they see me. They disappear into the blue sky, becoming tiny white dots until finally I can no longer see them. I look around the beach one more time. The family to my left is still there and the mother looks over at me and smiles. I smile back and throw my bag over my shoulder. Time to go home.  

Friday, February 19, 2016

....................................The Drapey Shirt............................

You have this shirt you bought at Ross. It's white with an attached drapey vest in wide autumnal stripes. They are horizontal stripes, not vertical ones, and any fashion magazine would tell you this is a no-no. Despite this, you still bought it. And you wear it. What can you say? You're a rebel. It goes great with jeans and brown boots. You have to wear slim-fit jeans with it because with the shirt being loose and drapey, you will look like a frump if you wear loose jeans, like say, your boyfriend jeans. Or if you wore khakis or shorts –uggh I have to stop, this is painful—no, let's just say you must wear form fitting pants, preferably in a dark color and jeans are the obvious choice, unless you are fashion forward enough to think of something else. And if you are, please call me because I need help. I tend to look deceivingly well put-together because I wear a lot of black and white. It's easy to match. Buy me something with more than one color or in a funky, trendy style without giving me a complete ensemble and I will slap you. Not because I'm greedy and mean, but because I will have no clue what to wear with this beautiful piece of fabric you've given me and it will inevitably end up in the back of my closet for years where I will periodically stop and stare at it for a few moments, frowning, feeling desperate to wear it but having no idea what to wear with it and shrugging my shoulders, I will just push it back again and pick something easier.

Back to the sensible soccer mom flowy shirt-with-attached-vest. This shirt is a pain in the ass. It looks great once you manage to get it on and pair it with a cute pair of jeans and stylish shoes. Maybe add in those turquoise arrow-shaped earrings that bring out the soft yet deep blue (on second thought, maybe it's teal) in the shirt. All your accessories go with this shirt; you have a lot of blue, brown, and rust-orange jewelry. You're just an earthy kind of gal. Here's the problem: getting it on is a ten minute ordeal. It seems easy—and my but it's not, I tell you. The delicate yet sturdy brown lacy top of the vest gets all twisted and the pretty stripey part that makes up the drapey portion of the vest that hangs down on the sides of your waist and hips is all twisted and flipped over. But it is deceiving; when you pick up the shirt, it looks innocent enough and you think to yourself, "Cool, I'll just slip this on over my head and be out the door in a jiffy!" Oh, how wrong you are, dear child. Part of the cleverly attached vest is actually inside-out even though it really doesn't look like it. And then when you try to right it, try to flip it back over, it only gets worse. Think Clark Griswold with the Christmas lights. It's chaos. And you feel so silly because it's just a damn shirt. It's not that complicated. It shouldn't be anyway.

Maybe it's me, you think. Maybe I just am not good with things like this. Yet you know you're not an idiot. You can fix a computer issue (they wouldn't hire you on the Geek Squad at Best Buy, but you can impress your co-workers with your limited PC know-how), you are college-educated. You are not void of all common sense and know-how. You can figure things out. But this type of thing, this evil fabric that must have been doing flips inside your dresser drawer, just does not work for you.

Over time, the shirt begins to look less and less appealing. What you first saw on the rack and how your eyes must have lit up at this beautiful sight that you just couldn't wait to take home and make a part of your fashion life is now a burden. And it's so sad, really. You didn't want it to turn out that way. And you feel stupid for buying something like that yet again, knowing what hell it was going to put you through. OK, maybe I'm exaggerating, but you get my point. Having to deal with all the hassle of trying to get it to "work" just ruins it for you. You do believe in hard work. You do believe in having to put a little extra effort into something to make it work. You think there can be great rewards and satisfaction in doing that. You don't want or expect everything to be easy and you like a challenge. But there reaches a point where you just stop caring. The effort of it all wears you down. Because you are putting all the effort in and the shirt is an inanimate object and does nothing. It just stresses you out more than anything because you realize you are the only one who cares in this shirt-person relationship. The shirt is just a piece of fabric and cannot, does not, and will never care. Nothing you do will ever change that.

So, one day, you get fed up and you either throw the shirt out or take it to Goodwill. A friend comes over and is waiting for you to get ready for dinner. You are thumbing through your clothes in the closet and your friend asks you, "Why don't you wear that drapey, stripey vest shirt thing? It's really cute and it looks great on you." You stare at her for a moment and have a small pang of regret. You think, maybe I should have given it one more chance. Maybe I was just imagining things. But then, you think back to all the times you wore it and even though you enjoyed it when you actually got it on, behind the scenes was a different story that no one will ever know. "But the poor shirt! It was just a piece of clothing and you are a human being. What the hell is wrong with you? You couldn't figure it out?" your friend asks, trying unsuccessfully to hold back laughter after you tell her why you got rid of it.

No, I couldn't figure it out, you think to yourself. Because wearing a piece of clothing, something people need to do every day to not only cover themselves but to protect themselves from the elements—a necessity in life, like breathing and eating—shouldn't be so hard. You need clothing—shirts, specifically, and especially if you are a woman—to wear and you should be able to enjoy it, too, don't you think? You really shouldn't have to put so much thought and effort into it. It should be fun and come naturally, especially since you've been wearing clothing since you were born. It's just something we, as human beings, need. But what we do not need is a shirt that makes you take several minutes longer to get ready and break a sweat trying to unravel the puzzle that seems to have formed on its own after having only laid it on the bed. You are worth more than that. Shirts from Ross can be hit or miss, anyway, you just never know what you're going to get. Go out and buy yourself something that not only looks great on you, but will be enjoyable to get dressed in when you're at home alone. 

Saturday, April 4, 2015

Happy Saturday! It's a new poem!


As usual, I was assigned to write this for class and I'm so grateful because if my profs didn't make me write, I'd probably find other less artistic, soul-feeding things to do, like clean, vac my car, or do laundry...Ugghh! The horror! Thank God I am encouraged to write down all this random stuff in my head. I would surely go insane otherwise. Ok, I'll shut up and get to it. I talk too much. It's a problem. (No comments from the peanut gallery!)


   
               $3.99

Dip me in the cold white liquid
Don't leave me too long
Or I'll fall apart
End up drifting in the water
Parts of me floating
Parts of me sinking to the bottom

They argued over me last night
I felt special until I realized
they didn't want to savor me
But wanted to use me up in one night
while they sat in front of the big box with
bright changing colors, creatures
like them talking to each other

I don't understand why they need a big plastic box for that
Doesn't that happen all around them every day?

My devourers are a strange breed
The tall one with the mustache I get caught in
Reaches for me and stares at me a little too long
It makes me feel awkward
Make a decision, man! I say to him
but he doesn't hear me

The tiny blonde one giggles as she grabs me and
my friends from our row where we've lived for months
she dips me into the deep white pool
But she drops me
I look up and see her chubby little hands
reaching, her fingers swirling, poking downwards
She needs to hurry, I'm starting to feel soft
Ahh! She plucks me out of the sweet liquid
And I travel upwards, upwards
until it gets dark

Note: The song "Take me Out" by Franz Ferdinand came on while writing this. Just thought you should know. I thought it was appropriate because...you know what, nevermind. At ease, soldier.