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              “Blue is for the sky, purple for the flowers, green for the leaves, “the boy trailed off, his voice suddenly breaking. He looked out the window and took three deep breaths, just as he had learned.

              “Blue… blue is for the sky.”

              “It’s ok, Ren. You can take a break.” Dr. Maline spoke without intonation, his sharp eyes focused on the boy.

              “No.” He looked down at his shoes, took another deep breath, then strengthened his voice. “Blue is for the sky, purple for the flowers, green for the leaves, yellow for the sun, pink for love and orange for the evening sky. But red…” he waivered slightly, steeled himself, met Dr. Maline’s eyes and said, “Red is for the blood.” He pulled a knife from his sleeve and lunged at the doctor screaming, “Red is for the blood, when I slash your face, gouge out your eyes and slit your throat.” As he screamed, his knife made contact with flesh and blood spurted, splashing into his eyes and blurring his vision. He stabbed and fought as hands were grabbed from behind. The knife was wrested out of his grip and clattered to the floor. The boy followed it by force, his face and arms pinned, and his body immobilized. Therefore, he couldn’t see Dr. Maline pushing himself up from the floor, his face a mask of blood, which ran down his chest, staining his pristine white lab coat a deep crimson.

              He looked down at the child on the floor, eyes filled with hatred. “Boy, you should know by now that there will be consequences.”

              Ren didn’t care. His blood had run cold a long time ago, his heart turned dead the day he found his mother’s limp, lifeless body in a bathtub filled with blood. It was the same day his father was found hanging in the shed. It was supposed to look like a murder-suicide, but Ren knew better. He’d recognized the doctor’s car as it passed him on his walk home.

              And they told him he was crazy. Ren spat a mouthful of blood on the doctor’s shoes, just before they made contact with his face. He wavered, felt the sting of a needle on his arm, and then everything went black. His last thought as he faded into unconsciousness was perhaps this was the day he would finally join his parents.

Defining Moments

Photo Credit PowerPoint Stock Images

If it hadn’t been for the way his eyes filled with tears and vulnerability when she entered the room, her heart might not have skipped a beat and she might not have paused long enough for him to speak. But it did, and so, she did, and in that tiny spark of a moment, he managed to say the words she yearned to hear.

“I see you and I know I hurt you. Please can we try again?”

“I don’t know if I can heal from this.” She wondered now why she was talking, why his words even mattered to her at all. She wondered why she still stood there, halfway across the threshold, her getaway car parked uselessly in the driveway. She had meant to turn around, get in the car and let her cousin drive her home. She had meant not to see him at all, but to quietly pick up her things and leave for good. “Why are you here? I told you I didn’t want to talk.”

“I’m sorry. I wanted to respect your boundary, but I had this one last chance to say it and I wanted to say it.” With the word, ‘boundary’ her resolve hardened. How dare he be here now, sitting on the couch where they had first made love, looking at her with his puppy dog eyes, like they had had a trivial fight about the bills, or her mother, or the fact that she had worked late and missed his family’s cookout? She felt the anger growing within, like a fire that burned her soul to a crisp, sending all her trust and innocence to the wind in a cloud of smoke. It was gone, she thought. It’s not like you can catch smoke in your hands and stuff it back in. She could almost see it drifting away, fading into the afternoon sky. She was left with cynicism, mistrust, and fear. She would forever be broken.

“Well, you said it and my answer is no. No more chances, no more trying again. Don’t you understand? You destroyed me. You destroyed us. My heart may still hurt for you sometimes, but only because you’ve disappointed me so much. I thought I knew who you were, but it was a lie.”

“No! It wasn’t a lie! I love you.”

              “If love is punching me, throwing me around and holding a gun to me while you rape me, then I guess you do, but that’s not my kind of love.”

              With those words, his eyes hardened, his fists clenched, and she was no longer tempted to remain, though her body of its own accord, had frozen her to the spot.

The car door slammed behind her and Jace appeared at her side flexing his Marine Corp build and radiating rage. “Go back to the car, Renae, I’ll get your things.”

She nodded, taking a tentative step backwards, until the heat and light of the summer afternoon jarred her into action. She turned and, without looking back, made a beeline for the car, where she collapsed sobbing in the passenger seat. “Pull yourself together, Renae. Jace is alone in there.” She gave her face a gentle slap. The dread that lived in her chest was deepening to alarm and, terror, spurring her into action.

She took a breath and wiped her face with her shirt and reached for her phone. She wasn’t sure who she would call, but she didn’t have to figure it out. Jace was already opening the door and throwing her bag in the back. He sat in the driver’s seat and without a word, started the car and backed down the driveway.

“What happened?” she asked as they turned off the residential street into the downtown traffic rush.

Jace sighed. “I’m not proud, but he was there with his stupid face, and I thought about how the police treated you last night, and how he’ll probably never pay for what he did, and the fact that he would just keep harassing you, so I pulled him off the couch, threw him against the wall and bashed his head against it several times.”

“You did?” An emotion she couldn’t identify washed through her. Was it fear, relief, disgust, or a mixture of all three?

“I did. And then I told him that if he ever so much as walked on the same block as you, I would fucking kill him and reminded him that I was trained for exactly that.”


“Yeah. Sorry. I probably should have had a bit more control, but no one fucks with my family.”

“I know.”

“Listen, I think you should come back up north with me for a while. I’m not sure you’re safe here.”

“I’m not leaving.”

Jace shrugged, unsure what to do. Renae might seem like a baby to him, but she was 21 and legally able to decide for herself. What could he say?

Some moments define you, and looking back, Jace would wish he had tried harder. This was the moment that would come to haunt him, just as the rape and abuse would forever traumatize Renae. Or, at least, it would have, had she survived the next two weeks.

She Got Up

She got up for the hundredth time, attempting to shake the tendrils of exhaustion from her head. Instead, in her weakness, she was overcome with dizziness and was forced to resort to holding the bedpost to remain upright. She walked the house at zombie speed, just to prove she still could and returned to her bed, aching madly. The days passed in kind, a relentless parade of pain and regret.

She got up for the last time, shuffling one tentative foot in front of the other. The ennui welled inside her like a tsunami about to break, but she bit it back, only just in time. The effort, however, tangled her feet beneath her, and the last thing she saw was the floor speeding toward her face. With a sickening crunch, she was released from her prison forevermore, her last breath a sign of relief.

The Sweetness

Do you remember the day we sat together on the front stoop, eating orange popsicles in the rain? You held my hand and I kissed your cheek, my lips sticking for a moment in the sugary film. I licked them, afterwards, lingering in the orange tang and reveling in the innocence of your smile. It’s still my favorite day because it was the day I learned who you were.

We were only four years old, brought together by my grandmother’s willingness to unburden our overworked mothers from time to time. Do you remember how we played mother-may-I in the yard and made a grown up home under the old oak tree? We whispered and shouted, imagined and imitated, like only a couple of four-year-olds could do.

And then, the unthinkable, as we sat on the stoop on that fateful summer day. Mr. Harfinkle’s dog got loose and ran straight for us. Do you remember? He was such a mean old man and his dog was vicious. I screamed and scrambled, trying to find my footing, but I somehow slipped, barreling down the steps, straight towards the galloping creature.

It amazes me now, the clarity my barely-formed brain could reach. It was merely a split second, but my little lifetime projected before me in an heartbeat. Even at four years old, I was acutely aware of my mortality in some instinctual, automatic way. I can recall that exact moment, more clearly than any other in my life thus far. To this day it defines me, just like your actions in that same moment will define you forever in my mind.

How you managed it, I’ll never know, but you arrested my fall barely in time to keep the dog’s jaws from closing on my throat. One moment I was flying into certain death, orange drops of popsicle melding with the rain around me, and the next I was behind you.

You stood eye to eye with the dog and it growled a deep beart-stopping growl, but it didn’t move. Somehow, your little four-year-old ferocity backed the dog down long enough for Mr. Harfinkle to arrive, spitting bile at us like a couple of four-year-olds were responsible for all of the disappointments in his life. You stared him down too, until he stammered and backed away, pulling the dog by its collar.

My little heart was beating with the pounding rain, as fear dissipated and love flooded in, both tattooing it indelibly forever. So much has happened since that day. I lost you when the adults in our lives moved in different directions and found you again, right when I needed you. As a child, I loved you, but as adults we fell in love. Not infatuation, but real, deeply-rooted love, with all of its trappings.

We’ve lived a lifetime of happiness and sadness, children and grandchildren, fear and safety… All of it made possible on the day you saved me from certain death. Now I sit and hold your hand, waiting for the moment you’ll open your eyes for one last goodbye. When you do, I’ll kiss your cheek, allowing my lips to linger in the sweetness.

Close to Your Heart

Source (Picture of an ornate locket on an open book)

  Brett’s face was turned toward me with a plaintive look, but I was lost in thought and hadn’t heard the question. Or maybe it was something else. I looked down at my feet, marveling at their smallness, and wondering how they could possibly hold up the rest of my body. I felt awed by all of the little muscles and impulses and bones that made them work. What would the bones look like without everything else?



   “What was that? What are you thinking about?”


  “It wasn’t nothing. C’mon.”

  “Ok. Do you think when I die, and my body decomposes, I’ll be able to feel it somehow?”

  “I don’t think you’ll be with your body, Dyl. I think you’ll be someplace else.”

  “But what if like, my brain takes longer to die, and I end up trapped inside my decomposing body?”

  “I don’t think so,” Brett said quietly, “but you could always be cremated.”

  “Yeah. That’s a good idea.”

  “It’s what you want, then?”

  “I think so… Yeah. Yeah. Do it. Cremate me.”

  “Ok. Where should I scatter your ashes?”

   “I don’t know. I only want to be with you, you know?”

   “I know, Love. I want to be with you too, but it seems we don’t get to choose this time.”

   “Could you take some of my ashes and put them in a locket near your heart? That’s where I want to live.”

  “I will, but you already live there.” He took my hand in his and brushed my fingers with his lips. “You have to know you always will.” Tears formed in his bright blue eyes, amplifying them in a way that melted my feeble heart. I squeezed his hand in return.

  “You’ll go on. You’re still young. I want you to live and love and do all the things you haven’t been able to since I’ve been sick.” The tears flowed freely now, but I knew he wouldn’t lose control, not while I was still here. “Brett… I need you to promise.” He shook his head. “You have to. It’s the only way I’ll be at peace.”

   He took a great gulp of air and swiped at the tears with his free hand. “I don’t know if I can. I think… I think I might fall apart without you.”

  “Then fall apart, but only for a minute, ok. After that, promise me you’ll live your life and be happy.”

   He nodded. “I’ll try.”

  “No ‘try.’ You need to promise.”

  “Ok. I promise.”

   I knew he was lying, but I also knew he’d remember making the promise and try to keep his word. It was the best I could do. I felt so helpless to ease his pain. I pulled his hand up to my mouth, kissed it, and placed it under my cheek. “My final resting place, Brett’s heart. It’s better than heaven.”

   He smiled slightly through his tears, and I closed my eyes to burn the memory into my heart.

Healing Love

Source (Picture of a couple kissing in silhouette with light behind them. Her hair is mussed.)


    “Olivia, are you listening? I’m trying to cash out my last table. I need to get home before my husband falls asleep again. I need some sex tonight. I’m in my fucking prime, and these late shifts are killing me.”

    “Huh? Oh, sorry, Yuli, I’m listening.”

    “No, you’re not. You’re staring at Luke. Are you into him? He has such a sad story.”

    “I know. Imagine losing your wife to cancer in the first year of marriage. He’s really sweet too. We’ve been meeting for coffee. He’s just so easy to talk to.”

    “Oh, shit! You are into him. Be careful, Olivia. I don’t think Luke’s dated since his wife died. He might not be ready for anything serious right now.”

    “Maybe I’m ok with that,” Olivia lied. “I’m in my prime too, you know, and I don’t have a husband waiting at home. Is it so wrong if two friends get a little action?”

“No. Of course, it isn’t wrong. Just be careful, ok? I don’t want you to get your heart broken again. Now ring me out so I can go home. I should have a good tip coming. These guys are good tippers every time, that’s why I’m not complaining about how long they sat there after dinner. C’mon, though. Get that register open!”

Olivia punched the numbers into the register and made change for Yuli. “Here.” She held out the cash. “Go get your tip and then go get some. I’ll see you tomorrow.”

“You’re sure you’ve got this?” Yuli eyed Luke, who was turning down the lights at the bar while sneaking glances at Olivia.

“I’m ok. Worry about your own sex life. Jeez.”

“Ok, Gooooodnight, yooooouuuung looooovvvver!” Yuli sang as she walked away.

“Yeah. Yeah.” Olivia mumbled, taking her drawer from the register. Yuli’s table was the last of the evening’s customers, and Olivia breathed a sigh of relief. Yuli wasn’t wrong. She had spent the evening pining for Luke and was glad the restaurant was closing so they could finally have a few minutes together.

She counted her drawer, delivered it to the safe, and headed back to the kitchen to collect her coat. It was already dark and quiet by the time she emerged. “Yuli wasn’t kidding about getting out of here,” she mused out loud, but where was Luke? She had expected him to wait for her. She looked around in the semi-darkness, and not finding him, checked her phone to see if he had messaged. He hadn’t. Heart sinking in disappointment, Olivia trudged through the dining room toward the door.

“Hey! Olivia! I thought you were going to wait for me!” She turned to find him standing behind the bar.

“Luke! I’m sorry. I thought you left.”

“Nope. I had to change out the CO2 tank in the basement. I wouldn’t leave without telling you.” More quietly, he added, “I thought you would know that.” His shoulders sagged, giving him the look of a disappointed child, and her heart broke a little.

She walked back to the edge of the bar, set her coat on it, and sat on a stool. “Luke, I’m so sorry. I know you better than that. I’m just not used to honesty in a relationship.”

His eyes softened. “I know.” He reached across the bar and took her hand, tracing the creases with his finger. She drank in his soft gaze, acutely aware of her galloping heart. “But I want you to know that isn’t me. I know we’re just getting to know each other, but…” His voice dropped to almost a whisper, “I think I’m falling in love with you, and I never thought I could love again, so it’s a pretty big deal for me.”

Olivia’s eyes filled with tears. “Oh, Luke.” She kissed his hand and looked up into his eyes. “I think I love you too.” The words were hard to say, but she meant them. He was sweet and gentle and sexy. She had longed for him ever since they met. “Come around here. I want to hold you.”

Luke moved around the bar, pulling himself into her arms. All at once, their lips met, and their hearts melded. “Oh, Olivia,” Luke murmured in her ear between kisses, “You are so lovely. I’ve wanted to do this for so long, but I needed to be sure.” He pulled her tighter to him and kissed her more deeply.

She responded to his kisses, which grew deeper and more urgent by the second. She wanted him badly, her physical need growing with the depth of her emotions until the physical and emotional was tangled in a great longing in her loins. She tightened her grip around his waist, pulling his hips into her. He was already hard enough for her to feel through the fabric of his pants. “Oh, Luke,” she murmured, wanting to take the next step, but she pulled herself together and pushed back. “Is this ok?” Her eyes bored into his, willing him to say yes, but ready to accept his truth. “I don’t want to push you further than you are ready to go.”

“I’m ready,” he said. “I’ve been ready. What about you? Do you really want this?”

     “So much.”


     “Right here.”

     “No regrets in the morning?”


     “Will you stay with me tonight?”

     “Will you make me breakfast?”

     “I promise.” He brushed her hair back from her face and leaned back in to kiss her. Their little conversation had done nothing to dissuade their passion. All doubts removed, Olivia reached for his zipper. Pressed against her, he felt big, but when she opened his fly and reached for his penis, it was huge and throbbing.

“Oh, God,” she moaned. “You’re fucking huge. I want you so bad right now.”

     “Are you ready for me?”

     “Ready? My panties have been wet all evening. I knew tonight was going to be the night.”

     “I knew too. Look.” He reached into his pocket and pulled out the condom he had placed there before work, just in case. “I usually engage in some foreplay, though.”

     “Not tonight,” she panted. “I don’t think I can hold out. I’ve wanted you for too long.” She took the condom from him, opened it with her teeth, and slid it expertly over his penis. Looking into his eyes, she said the only two words she had left. “Fuck me.”

Luke didn’t need more explicit instructions. He pushed the head of his penis against her opening, moving slowly at first, working himself into her with care. As he pushed the whole length into her, she gasped with his fullness. “Oh, Luke. You feel so good. Oh, God!”

     “Olivia.” He looked into her eyes as he thrust himself in and out. “I love you. Oh, God. Oh, God, Olivia! I’ve wanted this for so long!”

     “Oh! Oh! Me too! Oh! Keep going, Luke! Keep going!” He felt so good inside of her, filling her, then pulling out again and again. It was friction, then longing, then friction. She could barely keep from screaming in ecstasy. “Oh! Oh, my God! Luke!” She was on the edge, and it was going to be powerful. “I can’t hold out much longer. Come with me, Luke. Please. Oh! Come with me now! Now! Now!” He brought her over the edge, and she let go full force as he pulsated inside of her, pushing as deep as he could.

     “Oh, My God. Oh! Oh, Olivia.” He held on to her, gasping for breath. She pulled him tighter to her, breathing and sweating with him.

     “You are so beautiful, Luke. Just so, so beautiful. Never in my life has the reality been better than the fantasy, until now.” She was shaking and crying, tears falling down her face and landing on her lips. He kissed them gently, pulled his softening penis out of her, and grabbed her coat from the bar between them.

     “Here, Baby.” He wrapped it around her and pulled her into his arms. “It’s ok. I’ve got you.”

     She wiped her tears and smiled up at him. “It’s me that should have you. Are you ok?”

     “I really am. I never thought I would be, but then I met you, and we did this, and I’m ok. I’m better than ok. I’m happy.”

     She brushed his hair from his eyes. “I’m glad. I’m happy too.” She looked down at their partially unclothed state and laughed. “Should we get dressed then?”

     “For sure. I want to take you home and do that again, but more slowly. Properly. I mean, if you want to.”

     “I really do,” she answered, “and many more times after that too… but maybe not all tonight.”

     He laughed, and it sounded like a symphony to her ears. “I would like that.” He kissed her forehead and looked at her more seriously. “I never take time for granted. I’ll never take you for granted either. If I’ve learned anything, it’s that I should cherish the moment that’s in front of me, but I hope we have a lot of moments.”

     “Me too, Luke. Me too.”

     They dressed, gathered their things, and left the restaurant hand in hand, ready to experience more moments with one another.

The Heart Knows No Boundary

Source (picture of a person through frosted glass)

Because I wanted to touch your face, if only to feel the connection of your soul to mine… But I couldn’t. I could only stare at you from the other side of this frosted windowpane, and touch my hand to yours through the glass. My heart overflows with love, and yet I curse the fate which keeps us apart and the senses lost through human attrition. My heart overflows with love and maybe one day I’ll understand… The connection of our souls is not dependent on proximity. My heart overflows with love and I meet you somewhere in the beyond.

Your Fortress

Source (picture of a person walking near mist, shrouded buildings)

My heart slams against your walls time and time again, trailing to the floor in a battered heap of blood and tears. I hadn’t meant to get so close to your boundaries but how could I see them, when you’ve made them invisible? They stand like silent fortresses, shrouded in a mist of confusing words and signals.

So now, I lie, sobbing, in a heap of confused hopelessness and wondering if your inner battle will rage on forever. I thought I knew the answer, but I was wrong. I thought I knew you, but you were wrong.

A Yearning to Shatter the Kaleidoscope

Source (picture is kaleidoscopic)

I see the world through a kaleidoscope of fears, worry, confusion and doubt. It feeds a steady drip of poison in my veins, wrought from the existential dread of a life misunderstood. My desire to live soulfully, numbed by the conditions of this world and my instinct for survival. I trudge onward through the boot-sucking mud in a state of semi-consciousness. Who will save me from the delusions of my birthright?

Not I.