Category

Storytime

Public Speaking

Public speaking scares the shit out of me:

the audience members staring expectantly, nary an eye blinking; the grit on my sandpaper tongue course and abrasive against my soft palate.

My words roll out more and more rapidly, stumbling on top of each other incomprehensibly, punctuated by loud swallows and awkward breathing patterns.

“Just relax and try to envision your audience in their underwear.”

Now I am not only terrified of giving my speech, but confused as to why everyone can just sit there so confidently sans clothing. I mean, aren’t they cold?

I can feel the watery heat trespassing my ocular region at an alarming pace.
No! No! No!
I know once the tears push their way to the surface, I’m done.  At that point, it will be impossible to communicate words through my blubbering face.

I’ll stop and take a slow deep breath to suppress the emotions that are threatening to steal my voice. I wonder if anybody would notice if I took 5 to 10 minutes to regroup. Maybe I could meditate for a bit.

After I somewhat pull myself together, I begin to focus primarily on the actual morphemes rather than the content, so that I can keep my hyper-sensitivity at bay. Doing so allows me to hear myself more clearly.
Ugh, you couldn’t PAY me enough to sit through this drivel. 

Yet no one has left yet, quietly excusing themselves, mouthing the word “restroom,” then tiptoeing out, never to return to this epic shitshow. So, there IS that. 
I need to reel my audience in with a little humor. I’ll tell a joke.
Crap, I don’t know a joke, uh…

“Knock, knock.”
“Who’s there?”
“Kirsten.”
“Kirsten, who?”
“Kirsten who is currently paralyzed with fear at the thought of continuing to speak.”

Well, that didn’t go as I’d have liked. 

I become more acutely aware of my hands. What do I USUALLY do with my fingers? Balling my fists seems too aggressive, but letting them hang limp like boiled fettuccine noodles only emphasizes my cowardice. I decide to let them fall “naturally” next to my body, but notice that in obsessing about my extremities, I’ve completely stopped talking. How long had it been?

I bring the paper up close to my face so my voice is muffled and difficult to make out, but at least I’m shielded from THEM. Next time, maybe I can just ask someone to speak on my behalf.

Rockstar
In my dreams I am a public speaking badass rockstar.

*untitled*

Sometimes I need to meander along the shoreline:

Feel the wet sand underfoot

To hear the tide pull pebbles up into its grasp

And lay them down again on the shore with a beautifully intricate whirl,

To visit with myself

Shore

Backyard Bonfire

Wedding dress bonfire

Sizzle.

Crackle.

Hisssssss…

The tips of the flames licked the night sky as I tearfully witnessed the ivory satin turn to ash. He would be back soon, I knew.

“Went to take a drive,” he said, “to clear my head.”

 

Just like that, my wedding dress, and all it represented, was gone.

Sphere of Dreams (conclusion)

Part 1, Part 2

 3.

The two little ones hugged; the blonde did so very enthusiastically. “You’re here!” They both bounced back over to where my parents stood.

“I’m hoping the weather holds up, Donna,” Mom called to the woman who walked a few paces behind her daughter. Everything started clicking in my brain, but nothing made sense. Aunt Donna, Laura, my mom, Dad, that little girl with her chubby cheeks…

The orb.

I was looking at the scene of my birthday party over 30 years ago. Could they hear me? “Mom!” I shouted, “Mo-o-o-o-om!” but she didn’t respond. In fact no one even reacted, save for the little blonde girl, who looked at me straight away and cocked her head to the side. I saw into the deep blue of her eyes and felt an indescribable connection. We just stood there, staring, until her attention was diverted.

“Kirsten, here’s a birthday present!” Aunt Donna said, handing over a large box covered in blue paper adorned with pictures of pound puppies and the words “Celebrate!”

“Go ahead, you can open that one now before anyone comes,” Mom said.

Within moments, the wrapping paper was torn to shreds, thrown all over the deck. “Dolly!”
Laura, standing directly behind the scene, said, in an authoritative tone, “Yes. I have a Cabbage Patch Kid too. Her name is Frieda. They will be best friends.”

I turned when unfamiliar voices started coming closer: several other families, kids who I didn’t recognize, cousins who I hadn’t seen in ages, aunts and uncles who looked so different. My parents greeted them all, then the majority of the adults said “Happy birthday,” as they headed back to the parking lot, leaving their toddlers to yell and run on the beach, right in front of where I stood.

birthday party

The kids all played unorganized games of tag, newcomers just joining in as they came, the children squealed with laughter. There were no specific, thematic activities planned, like nowadays.

Imaginations abounded, and yells of, “I’m a cat!” “I’m a princess!” “I’m an ice cream sundae!” competed with crashing waves.

I took another look at my family, who stood on the deck next to the familiar cabana, for the first time noticing that it was painted yellow, not purple.

My gaze turned toward the water; the calm sound contradicting the excited children. The silver orb was over to my left, though I hadn’t seen it until just now. I felt a pull. It was a sensation that I HAD to climb aboard. In the doorway that had been opened for me, I glanced back for just one more look at the children playing.

There she stood, grounded, staring at me amongst the flurry of other toddlers, all chubby-cheeked and pig-tailed. Not a word escaped her lips, but I knew.

WE knew.

I returned to my vessel to see that there was now only one button on the console. It was labeled “Home.” I pressed it, then closed my eyes while the ship started shaking again.

As it subsided, I opened one eye, and saw the pale green of my bedroom walls surrounding me. The television was still on, repeating the same movie that I had been watching earlier. I sat up, the remote in my hand to turn it off. Before I did so, however, I felt the need to watch the man, who looked less weary and sad than earlier. As he entered the orb once again, I saw it: my yellow hair tie, which was wrapped around the lever.

He turned to the camera and winked.

 

 

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This story was created from the prompt, “Get into your time machine, press the start button, zoom back and witness yourself  at play” by Anne Kelly-Edmunds, 8/4/16, with whom I have the great pleasure of having as a writing instructor/facilitator at the North Shore Public Library.

Using this “story spark,” see where your own writing takes you! I would love to hear your ideas… Comment below or leave me a message.

Sphere of Dreams (continued)

Find 1 Here
time travel

2.

The granules of sand squished between my bare toes and the familiar smell of saltwater filled my nostrils.

The water and sky faded into each other, both a dull grey-blue. A sheet of similarly colored cloud rose up from the horizon, then pieced away into small tufts of cotton overhead. I watched as those smaller clouds faded, however, and the foreboding sheet was pulled up. It now covered the sky in its entirety.

There was a sudden chill causing my skin to feel prickly all over. I stood and grabbed a towel that had been carelessly thrown over the ledge by the cabanas, but it didn’t really help to warm me. I empathized with the brave souls playing in the waves in front of me, knowing that once they decided to get out, the wind would surly cause their extremities to become numb.

My mom stood by the edge of our cabana and gazed at the sky. “I don’t know about this. I hope it clears up by noon.”

“I don’t know. The wind seems to be picking up. It’s not looking too promising.” I was completely ignored.

She looked different, my mom. Her hair was… poofier. Curly. She hadn’t sported that hairstyle since the 80s. I peered closer. I was taken aback when a tall man walked out, carrying a blonde pig-tailed toddler in his arms.

“Dad?” I said in a bewildered whisper. No one looked my way.

It was most definitely him, but he had passed away years ago.

“It’ll be fine. Don’t panic. Here comes our first guest now.” He motioned to the end of the court, where a 3-year-old, clad in a peach one-piece bathing suit, walked down the concrete sidewalk with the all the confidence of the Beach Club Queen. She carried a bottle of sunscreen as her scepter.

The little girl in my dad’s arms jumped down and began running toward her royal guest. “Lo-waa!” she squealed. For the first time I saw part of her round face. A sense of familiarity washed over me, and I suddenly warmed.

 

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More to come!

Sphere of Dreams

Time Machine

1.

My eyes stared straight up to the ceiling widely, so I shut them ludicrously tight and tried counting as high up as possible. No luck. Sleep seemed like a far-off destination from where I was currently. I shushed my brain as it conjured up various stressful scenarios and the horrific consequences that could be definite possibilities. Stupid brain.

I sighed audibly and switched on the TV, clicking to The Nature Channel, which was currently showing a documentary about a lion’s diet and was showing the male of the species tearing apart an antelope to eat its flesh. Pleasant.

Where were the reruns of “Golden Girls” when you needed them?

I settled on channel 48, SyFy, one of the only stations that wasn’t presenting infomercials about ShamWows and Slapchops and knives that could cut through quarters. The movie was midway through, but the plot didn’t seem too abstruse that I wouldn’t be able to grasp it.

A man, tall and wiry, thinning grey hair atop his gaunt face, looked tired and sad as he climbed into the steel orb, a giant silver marble nestled within the mature trees of the forest. With great difficulty, he pushed a few buttons on the console in front of him, then pulled a lever.

All at once, I took his place inside the machine, which shook violently, causing me to lurch forward and accidentally press a few of the unmarked buttons myself. Instantly, the engine quieted and the shaking came to a halt. The door opened automatically and I stepped outside, seeing colors for what seemed like the first time.

 

More to come; stay tuned…

2

Storytime Sunday

Hum

The monotonous hum of the bathroom fan seemed intolerable at first, as I tried to complete the work I’d set out to do; yet, as time wore on, it became less noticeable. Thinking back to that inauspicious day, however, all I can hear is the droning sound of that fan.

Candice was showering. In fact she had been in there so long, I began to imagine how unattractively wrinkled her fingers must be. I considered several disparaging remarks about her “old-lady hands,” said with love, to hit her with when she appeared out her pleasant little spa. In reality, her hands were beautiful: soft, youthful, not an imperfection on them, save for a tiny freckle in between her right forefinger and her thumb. God, how I had once been so infatuated with that diminutive marking

But I needed to focus.

The finance world was abuzz with talks of mergers among several important companies. This could mean big money, or huge losses; I had to play my cards right.

Hum

A crash coming from the other end of the house interrupted my concentration.
I leapt up, a feeling of inexplicable foreboding suddenly running rampant at the base of my stomach. “Hun? Candice? Everything okay in there?” I could not hide the urgency or panic in my voice.
There was no answer. There would never be an answer.

The most difficult part about losing someone is the knowledge that you will no longer share in the memories to come. When Candice left me, however, she took with her the memories we had once enjoyed in the past as well.

I don’t hate her, I just don’t understand what happened, which is the feeling that the doctors at the hospital say I need to suppress. “There is nothing to understand,” they incessantly, yet patiently, explain.

I recall the exact moment when I knew my life would never be the same. The door to the bathroom was unlocked. Always demure and extremely modest, Candice secured any entry, as though we may be under attack from an army of peeping toms. As I opened the door, the sound hit me right away: the dull hum that would never escape my psyche. I called to her again, my voice echoing in the small, windowless room. Pushing the shower curtain to one side revealed a torrent of lukewarm water being consumed by the ravenous drainpipe. Unsure of my next move, I called out to her again, shutting the water off. Moving through the hallway of the small ranch in a matter of steps, I scanned the bedroom. Empty. The other rooms in the house were unchanged also. How could this be? To this day, I wonder the same thing.

The rest of the experience is somewhat a blur to me. That phrase, “Who is Candice?” repeated by people who I thought were my friends, the skepticism in my parents’ faces as I tried to explain my hurt and confusion, and, finally, my admission into the hospital that I now call home.

Although everyone persists that Candice was never more than a figment of my over-active imagination, I know that she is real, and she’ll come back for me. We will prove them all wrong.

If only that damn humming would stop.