Dying

    

He would die. His disease would progress and he would die and they both knew it. It was heartbreaking, she thought, to find love when it was already too late make a life together.  

“I know it’s incredibly unfair to you,” he said, “but I think it’s pretty obvious that I’m in love with you. I’m not even sure if I should have told you. I’m so sorry.”

Her throat caught and tears escaped to her cheeks while her hands clutched the forgotten tubes of blood, she had drawn moments before. He was so young and so sick. This was not how she had expected to find love.

“I’m sorry.” he repeated, lamely. He wished he hadn’t spoken up so awkwardly. Maybe it hadn’t been the right thing to do. “Forget I said that. Go ahead and label my blood and we’ll pretend it never happened…”

“Please?” he asked in response to her silence.

“No.”

“No?”

“I don’t want to forget it. I feel something too. It’s just… I wish it was different…”

“You mean you wish I wasn’t dying? Yeah. Me too.”

Her tears came faster.

“I’m so sorry. It wasn’t fair to put that on you. I convinced myself that it would be better for you if you knew but…” He swallowed and dropped his head. He wanted to wipe her tears away but he didn’t know if she would want him to. The silence settled like a weight on his broken body. He had to explain. He had to make this right somehow. “It was selfish. I wanted to feel this. I wanted to love you before I died but it’s not fair. I should have kept it friendly.”

“No. No you shouldn’t have. You were right. I would’ve wondered. I’m glad I know.”

“I’m not asking you to act on it. I hope you know that. I really have just enjoyed talking to you, being your friend. I mean I know it’s been professional on your part but I feel like we’re friends. I don’t really hang out with a lot of people these days. It’s so awkward with my old friends. They don’t know how to handle this but with you… it’s been really nice. Talking to you makes me feel normal somehow. It doesn’t have to mean anything.”

She took a shaky breath. “It does mean something. I don’t exactly know what but I like being around you too. I look forward to seeing you every week. In fact… ” she stammered nervously but reminded herself how short his time was and gathered her courage, “In fact, I feel my heart leap a little when you walk through the door.” She said it fast. It felt like pulling a band aid off her heart. It was the best she could do in that moment.

“What now then?” He asked.

Jazz

Rain lashes the car windows as we drive through the city, matching my mood. I’m tired and my body hurts. I really don’t want to be out tonight.

“You got this, Babe? Maybe I should bring you home real quick.” My husband knows I’m hurting. I can’t hide my constant yawning or the circles under my eyes.

“I’m ok. I got this.” I’m lying and we both know it. I wouldn’t bother but his buddy from his army days is in town and we promised him and his wife a great time. I tell myself I’ll get through the evening.


Several minutes later we meet up with Joe and Mary at the venue. Joe is already revved up and ready to go. “Hey, you guys ready? We are going all the way out tonight!” He does a little dance and we laugh. Joe is a good time every day of the week but tonight I can tell he’s already been at the bottle and he’s gunning for an all nighter. The party never ends with this guy. I stifle a yawn and hope I’ll be able to hang.

The usher shows us to our seats as the band starts playing. And it is bad right off the bat. It begins with a funky guitar riff, then percussion, then the bass kicks in and soon the band is jamming and the whole crowd is moving, including me. By the time the sax lights up we are keeping time in smooth style. We rock rhythmically with the music and each other like we are one mind, heart and soul.


I forget myself, grinning nonstop and clapping with the crowd. The music takes me out of my aching body and into oneness with the experience. I lose track of time and before I know it we’re on our feet for the finale and I have forgotten how terrible I felt.

We step out onto the street, talking excitedly about the performance we just watched. “Alright! I am ready to get my dance on. Where’s the nearest club?” Joe asks.

My husband gives me a sideways look, part concern, part hope. I know he’s ready to get his groove on too. “What do you think? Are you up for a club?”

“Yeah, Baby, I’m all in.”

To the reader: I had the pleasure of checking out the Berks Jazz Fest in Reading, PA this past weekend. If you like Jazz music and have the ability to go I definitely recommend it.

https://berksjazzfest.com/

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ectstr5zqu4&list=RDEctstr5zqu4&start_radio=1&t=421

On Finding My Writing Voice

Source: (Picture of antique typewriter with the name Remington Standard)

My grandmother had a typewriter like this. I used to type my “stories” on it as a child.

The Dream

When I was young all I wanted was to become a writer. While other kids went off to soccor camp or adventure camp or whatever, I went to creativity camp and spent a week writing. It was the only thing I could imagine being when I grew up.

I’ve probably started (but never finished) a dozen novels. I’ve done writing prompts with friends for fun whenever possible. I’ve told myself thousands of times I could do this… and quit because I got stuck and didn’t have the time or volition or confidence to work through the problem.

Why did I lose it?

Life. I mean, that’s the short answer. The longer answer involves the barrage of well meaning people warning you to have a backup plan… telling you to be practical. Following a dream means giving up on short term security. It means taking a leap of faith.

For me, like probably many of us, the practicality was raising a child and paying the bills. Yet, the writing never really went away. It keeps coming back and grabbing me. Some dreams don’t know how to die.

So what am I doing now?

  • I’m making a commitment to writing. Hence this blog.
  • I’m deciding to believe in myself and stop second guessing my writing.
  • I’m committing to putting daily content on this blog, even if I don’t think every single contribution is a winner. I mean, I want it to be quality and I’ll strive for quality but I’m not going to perfectionist myself out of posting. I’m actually enjoying the pressure to write often and hone my skills.
  • I’m actually submitting my writing for publication… This it’s the scariest one because rejection sucks. I’ve already submitted two and had two rejected and even though I know that’s a normal process it still hurts. I’m going to keep at it though. My goal is another submission this week.
  • I’m accepting feedback. For real, if you have it, I will hear it. I might not incorporate all of it but I’ll listen and consider any thoughts.

What about you?

Any other aspiring writers out there? I would love to hear from you in the comments. ❤

PS. To be real, this blog is so new I would be thrilled to hear from anyone in the comments. 😘

Carolyn

Source (Graveyard at night):


“What would happen if I crossed the threshold?” he teased sliding his left foot closer to the mausoleum.

“Don’t,” I pleaded, “it’s not funny.” ignoring me, he pantomimed reaching for the door.

“The last time I saw him he disappeared through that door,” she said it quietly but my head snapped back in violent surprise at the voice.

Carolyn was the weirdo who stalked us on our nightly forays through the graveyard. She had never spoken to us before, I actually didn’t know she could speak. She was creepy, sure, but because we all knew her story, we shrugged off her strangeness.

Now, though, she put her face an inch from Eric’s and asked in a hair raising voice, “Do you want to go with him?”

“Fuck this freak,” Eric stepped back from the door, visibly unnerved. “C’mon. Let’s go.”

We left as quickly as three teenagers trying to maintain bravado could. I looked back only when we reached the gate. Carolyn hadn’t followed but I thought I saw her shadow near the mausoleum. Waiting…


“Kai, you coming or what?” Jordan stood by the gates waiting for my response.

“You said we were going to hang out in the park tonight. I told you, I don’t want to go back to the graveyard.”

“C’mon,” Eric put his arm around my shoulders where I angrily shrugged it off. “Stop it, Kai. You’re being ridiculous.”

“Am I? Because you were plenty ready to beat feet out of here last night.”

He reddened slightly but maintained his attitude, “Fuck the freak. We’re going in. Feel free to wait here by yourself.”

His look of smug satisfaction told me he knew his argument had landed. I wasn’t about to stand out there alone. He walked away without even waiting for my answer.

“Fuck you, Eric.” I swore as I followed him through the gate.


Eric, like a man with something to prove, made a determined beeline for the mausoleum. I kept a slower pace behind him but stayed ahead of Jordan. I didn’t want to hold up the rear.

As we approached, Eric’s steps faltered and stopped completely, still well away from the mausoleum.

“What’s the matter, Eric? Scared?” Jordan goaded him. Eric didn’t answer. He didn’t even look back. He only stared… straight ahead. I followed his gaze, straining into the shadows and saw immediately why he stopped.

The voice came, as if carried on the night breeze, almost inaudibly but with perfect intonation, “Fuck you, Eric.” An exact replica to my insult at the graveyard entrance, it chilled my blood.

“Fuck you, Eric.” it said again, louder, more clearly and the figure in the shadows began to emerge.

Carolyn.


I didn’t know where I was at first. I was under a bowl of brightly twinkling stars. My comprehension came in stages… The sky, I slowly realized… The graveyard! I sat up abruptly.

Carolyn stood a few feet away looking at the mausoleum. Horrifyingly, I heard the muffled screams of my friends from inside. What the fuck was happening?

“Carolyn…” I tried to sound cool but the blood whooshing in my ears made it difficult.

“Don’t worry about them. I sent them to get my brother.” She turned toward the mausoleum, staring wistfully at the door behind which I heard my friends panicking.

What was she talking about? Her brother died in a car accident. “Carolyn, let them out.”

“I will when they get my brother. Tell them. Tell them to get him.”

Ummm. Ok? What choice did I have? I stood shakily and walked to the door. “Guys?” they continued pounding, “Hey! Stop! Stop!!”

“Kai?” Eric’s voice, I could tell he’d been, crying. “Kai, that crazy bitch locked us in!”

“Yeah. It’s me. She padlocked the door. She’ll let you out when you get her brother for her.”

“Kai, what are talking about? Are you crazy?”

“Um, I’m not.” I let the implication hang in the air. “Just go get him and she’ll unlock the door.”

Silence, punctuated by intermittent sobs… Don’t be dense, my brain pleads.

“Ok…” Jordan finally called through the door.

“Ok?”

“Ok. We have him.”

Carolyn looks ecstatic, “Leo? Leo? Leo! I’m bringing you home!”

“Give me the key, Carolyn.” she didn’t move but remained placid when I grabbed the key from her hand.

“Ok, you guys. Be ready.” I unlocked the door and we ran and ran, leaving a screaming Carolyn behind, not stopping until we reached safety.

We made a pact that night to never tell a soul.


“Hey, Kai, did you hear?” Jordan approached me after third period. “They locked that crazy bitch up last night. She must have tried some of that shit with someone else.”

“Don’t call her that.”

“Call her what a crazy bitch? She locked us in a mausoleum. I think it qualifies.”

“Yeah and Eric sobbed for his mommy and you wet yourself, so what?”

He flashed red, “Fuck you, Kai. What’s up your ass?”

“We did that to her. How do you not get that? Obviously, she wasn’t right. She followed us around like a zombie while we hung out in the cemetery. Like, what a sick fucking joke, right? Eric pretended like we were going to go in mausoleum and shit… Her dead brother is buried there. We fucked her up with our callousness. For real, how is this still ok for you?”

“Fuck you, Kai. She was crazy before we did any that. We didn’t fuck her up. Eric said you were on the rag today and to leave you alone. I should have fucking listened.”

He turned on his heel and stomped off. I watched him go without regret. I knew the friendship was over. They would become twosome I would move on to better things.


For the past three years I’ve brought flowers to Leo’s grave as an act of attrition. Today, as I approach, I see a new name on the mausoleum and my heart sinks because I already know what it will say.

Carolyn.

Ode to my Bullshit Coworker: I Wish He Were Toast

Source:

My friend tells me there’s mouse poop in the office toaster

It’s the one Bob and I bought together

While he still graced us with his daily presence

But I hated Bob

I hated his presence

I hated his ugliness from the inside out

And yet

I learned to imitate

My disgusted disdain

Reflecting his misogynist abuse

So it seems an appropriate punctuation

And I stop using the toaster

(Like I stopped using my kindness)

To protect myself from harm

Because it was safer

But maybe…

I’ll buy a new toaster

Because I like toast

(Unlike Bob)

It’s like bread only crunchy

A little plain on its own but spread anything on it at all….

And it magically transforms into a crave-satisfying treat

What could be more versatile?

And surprisingly wonderful?

I prefer toast over Bob any day of the week

If only Bob had known

He could have smothered himself with honey

To become more palatable

Kombucha

“I see you like kombucha.”

“It is very good for you. Helps you lose weight.” My eyes rolled involuntarily. I’m not going to get all impressed because you notice I’m overweight. It’s not like no one has ever noticed before. I start to walk again but I feel a surprisingly strong grip on my wrist. I hate when I underestimate tiny people.

“Here,” I give him my last dollar, “now let go. It’s not cool to be touching strangers.” His grip remains steady and I realize I’m going to have to kick him in the face.

“I didn’t ask for your money.” He spits, grabbing my coat with his other hand.

“And I didn’t ask to be manhandled.” I pull back forcibly and manage to free both my coat and my hand from his grip. His high pitched laugh echoes in the alley shaking me from my usual city demeanor. I tell myself he’s a random weirdo but I run a block or two to be safe and cut into a bodega to make sure he isn’t following.

“Oh you want more kombucha?” The shop owner eyes me eagerly. “I have more in the back. Something new. Come see, come see.” I stare at him blankly. What is with everyone today? Am I the only person in all of New York who drinks kombucha?

“It’s ok. Come see.” He steps out from behind the counter and pulls back the beaded curtain at the back of the store.

My eyes go wide and I drop my bottle to the floor. It rolls with excruciating slowness across the uneven floor, stopping at his feet.

“It’s ok. A perfectly normal reaction.” He picks up my bottle and holds it out, beckoning me. I can’t decide if his smile is kindly or insane. “You go in. You can ask her for help.”

“uurr… iIi…ggh…” I want to speak but when I open my mouth only a gurgling sound comes out.

“Go!” He shouts forcibly and my feet move forward of their own accord towards the dragon behind the curtain. I hear a melody of clicking beads behind me as the curtain settles and I am alone with her.


“You like kombucha?” it sounds like a question but I somehow know it isn’t and I stay silent. She looks me up and down as if reading me. “Do you know who I am?” I shake my head. “I am the one who can grant your deepest desires, even the ones you don’t know you have.”

I find my voice, “I know what I want.”

“Do you? I am not so sure. Humans are easily confused and often don’t know their own minds. It matters not. Would you like me to grant your deepest desires?” I feel myself nod through a haze of confusion. She laughs and my heart feels like glass.

“Look in your pocket. You will find a delicious cake like no other. If you eat the cake you will have complete awareness. You will be able to see yourself, and everything else clearly. The cake will give you infinite wisdom but nothing else. Nothing, that is to say, from the material world.” She looks at me coyly, “Or…” her piercing eyes relish the pause, “you can give me the cake and I will grant you my best kombucha. I make it myself,” she gestures a clawed arm towards her belly, “and it will never run out. When you drink it you will never wish for anything ever again. You will have all the material things this world can give you. You may decide. I will wait.”

“Did you find the kombucha?” The bodega owner asks with twinkling eyes as I exit.

I don’t bother answering. I clutch my bottle to my chest and step out onto the sidewalk.

I’m a Cat Person!

Starting things out on a light note…

My family always had cats when I was growing up and I love them. Nothing makes me feel more at home than cuddling in bed with a purring cat on me. To me it’s the epitome of relaxation.

Are they stinky? Absolutely.

Do they puke everywhere? Yup.

Do they stick their damn claws on my face, scratch my bed and beat the crap out of each other while I sleep? Umm yeah… Pretty much every night.

So what’s to love? You might ask if you are a dog person… Especially if you are a dog person, since cats unlike dogs could give a flying F what you want, and will totally pee on your shoes if you cross them (true story).

Well, I mean, they are undeniably cute. Just check out this picture of my cat stalking me in the bathtub:

Continue reading “I’m a Cat Person!”

A Place to Write

Source:https://www.pexels.com/photo/person-holding-blue-ballpoint-pen-writing-in-notebook-210661/

I can’t decide how I feel about Medium’s pay structure. People obviously seem to like it because most content is blocked by the paywall these days and I’m starting to feel like the last holdout but to be honest I don’t want to join. I would never want to disrespect the amazing people who write and edit publications there. In fact, I feel so welcomed by the (only) publication I write for (Big shout out to Lit Up
https://medium.com/lit-up and its awesome editor DiAmaya Dawn
https://medium.com/@DiAmaya_Dawn ) but I’m just not sure about paying a fee at this point in time. Perhaps I’m cheap but I joined Medium as a place to build my writing skills and have fun with some prompts.

Now, I can publish but I can’t read much. Unfortunately, my lack of participation in Medium’s pay to play program makes it hard to support my fellow writers and I feel effectively cut off from the writing community I had hoped to find there. I get it. We all have to make a living but as a new writer I don’t yet know what I want and what is worth paying for. And, frankly, my disposable income is limited.

For now, I think I’m going to start putting some writing here. I’m not leaving Medium and definitely want to continue publishing in Lit Up but perhaps having a blog will give me the motivation and space I need to hone my writing skills as well as a place to publish some fun microfiction and (possibly bad) poetry. I’m hoping a few people might be interested in joining me for the ride as I either succeed or realize this dream isn’t for me.

If you are here, welcome! I hope you will find me interesting enough to stick around.

PS. If you do want to check out my Medium page it’s here:

https://medium.com/@NatolieWebb h

I expect a lot of the content will find it’s way here anyhow. 🙂