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Storytime

Random Musings From the Girlfriend You Left Behind

At least I remembered to shut off your damn phone alarm.

If I heard it’s stupid “presto” chime at 4:30 AM I think I would have crumbled. As it was, I already felt like death: dizzy, scared, flustered, ALONE.
There was such fear in the pit of my stomach.
The dizziness might’ve been attributed to (or completely caused by) the large glasses of wine- your favorite- that I had guzzled; an effort to forget the circumstances.

That night, I had a dream that you’d texted me.
I love you.
Then,
I loved you.
“Wait, what?” I screamed at my phone. “What are you talking about?” I sobbed. I threw the phone across the room. I woke up with a jolt to the sound of it smashing against the wood floor. Although the screen was cracked, I could still make out our last interaction.

I’m super busy. I love you. I’ll call you after work.

I love you too. Have a good day. Try to take it easy.

If divorce is death by a thousand paper cuts, I felt as though I’d been resurrected, tied down, and sliced across each scar.

I just needed to get through these next few days, weeks, months… It’ll get better with time, I lied to myself.

My mind wandered yet again. Just one week ago, you were laying down beside me. You sleepily asked me to move in closer; to snuggle up. It was so vulnerable and so unlike you- as though you knew.

Instinctually, I checked my phone for a text. I had your phone in my possession, though, so that’s one of the reasons it was not feasible. But I kept on checking. Just in case.

 

Hazardous

I know the way by rote, the way the road curves over to the right after the yellow sign, the way it contours itself to the woods on the left. I move fluidly with it, pressing the accelerator through the turns and tapping on the brake when I notice the speedometer creeping higher and higher…

I’m caught by surprise, then, when the fog begins slithering its way in. At first I don’t notice; perhaps I am not paying attention as well as I should be. The turns ahead are all at once more difficult to see, and I have trouble making out what’s ahead. I slow the car down as the haziness becomes almost too much to bear.

“What are you doing? You have to move faster if we’re going to get there on time,” I hear from my passenger. He had only been in my life now for about a year, but it felt like a lifetime. As cliché as it was, I knew him better than he knew himself, and he me. We worked.

“It’s just a little hard to see with all this damned fog. It makes me nervous. If you don’t like the way I drive, you should’ve gotten behind the wheel yourself.”

“Ugh,” he rolls his eyes, reaches into the backseat and cracks a beer.

“Hey you can’t drink in here! This is my car. No way! Get rid of it.”

“Relax. There’s no one around. I’ll dump it before we get to the real road.”

 

Who was this person that I had thought I knew? Right before my eyes, but without my noticing, he had changed. He had become this. And it scared me, so I wanted desperately to slow down, but feared it was too late. I couldn’t see myself hurtling toward a cliff.

hazardous fog

 

Badass

On my exposed forearms, I felt the last lick of the warm sun that is still available in November in South Carolina. As we embarked on the long walk down the boardwalk that led to the hard-sand beach, I relished in this time spent with family, closing my eyes and breathing in the air, thick with salt. My brain automatically brought me to teenaged years at this spot: to fudge shops and beach biking and sneaking out at night with my cousin. My biggest worry at that point was how to act once we got to the party.

Amanda and I were a couple of attention-seeking 16 year olds (as all 16 year olds are) trying to seem older and more sophisticated to the 18-year-old, super-mature (*eye roll*) guys that we’d met at the beach earlier that day. To us, they were the picture of cool, and we probably seemed a tad over-excited when they’d asked us to a party that night. In retrospect, our parents probably would have let us go, but we didn’t even ask them- you see, it was all part of the illusion that we were incredibly badass.

Once we walked in the door of this unknown person’s family beach house and saw the rest of the guests draped all over each other in beer-induced familiarity, we both concluded that to fit in properly, we’d have to partake in the underaged ritual of drinking large quantities of alcohol in a short amount of time. I’m sure that it wasn’t my first time imbibing, but it might as well have been. Looking at each other and shrugging, we walked into the kitchen. Amanda opened a red cooler that sat on the tile floor and handed us both a bottle.

“Cheers?” she asked more than said.

Looking down, I read the label. Seagrams. Huh. “What’s a wine cooler?” I whispered.

“Not sure. I guess we can try.”

Try we did. Again and again we “tried” bottle after sugary-sweet bottle, until I went into the powder room, and the wallpaper pattern started swirling and dancing. I blinked my eyes, but couldn’t make it stop. When I went out to tell my cousin about the experience, she wasn’t where I had left her. In fact, she didn’t seem to be anywhere, and I noticed that the majority of the party-goers were gone. I asked (or more likely, slurred to) a girl by the door where everyone went. “Oh, they just went down to the beach gazebo. There was a band playing there tonight. We’re gonna go there if you want to join us.” She pointed to the remainder of the teens grabbing the last of the cans of shitty beer and shoving it into their pockets.

“Sure, thanks,” I said in my best impersonation of a nonchalant, normal, sober, 18-year-old.

They walked out the door, laughing hysterically at a joke that I didn’t get. I followed clumsily, confident that they didn’t hear me tripping over my feet and/or didn’t care. As we got closer to the beach, I heard the music from the band. What time was it? We left around 10:30, but how long had we been “partying”?

As I contemplated this, I walked sideways off the boardwalk, directly into the surrounding bushes. I lay there in a thicket, the branches cradling me, looking up at the half-moon. No one of the group that I’d been following seemed to notice my sudden disappearance. I sighed, relieved that I no longer needed to employ any energy. For what seemed like hours (probably more like minutes) I stayed there; after all, it seemed like a nice place to spend the night, Just as I closed my eyes, I heard a faint voice- “Kirsten, Keeee-eeeersten.” Louder and louder she called.

“Amanda, I’m right here,” I called back, kind of disappointed that I’d have to leave my new favorite spot.

Apparently she didn’t hear me, because she continued calling my name. “I’M RIGHT HERE!” I yelled back angrily, for some reason.

“Thank God- I had no idea where you’d gone!” She’d become very motherly at this point.

“You’re the one who left me!”

“I got confused- I thought you had gone with the group, so I followed along.” She pulled me out of the bushes and I struggled to regain me balance. “You’re covered in scratches- and your leg is bleeding! Let’s just get home.”

“Okay. Everything is spinning. I feel kinda—” Those were my last words before I threw up all over my once-cradle. Leaning on my cousin for support, we stumbled drunkenly down the boardwalk in the direction we had come. “Yeah, I think we should go home,” I agreed. “Do you know how to get there?”

“We’ll figure it out.”

Somehow, miraculously, we did end up getting our drunk butts home and into our beds without waking any of our parents or siblings. I looked over at the clock at my bedside and concentrated as hard as I could on the spinning digits. 12:00. Badasses indeed.

The moral of the story is clear: Don’t ever drink wine coolers. They make you fall into bushes.

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…

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