The Silver Lining

Source (picture of a woman looking thoughtful)

You left my poor heart dangling by a thread. I can’t eat. I can’t sleep. I can’t help wondering where the fuck you went.

And yet…

This small tiny piece of me, buried deep within, knows I’m so much better off without you.

Facing the Worst

Source (picture of a couple holding hands)

“You’re overthinking again.”

“I’m not!”

“Babe, for real. This isn’t that hard. I love you and I’m going to be here for you for as long as you need.”

“I don’t want you to watch me get sicker and sicker. You have your own life to live.” Her eyes were filled with tears and he felt his own fill up in return. He was scared. He couldn’t lie… But he definitely wasn’t going anywhere.

“I’m staying by your side because to do anything else would be more painful than I could bear. I’m not leaving and frankly, you’re too weak to make me, so deal with it.”

She opened her mouth as if to protest but she never got there. She slumped forward, sobbing and he engulfed her in his arms.

“Oh, Darling. I’m scared too but we’ll face this together, ok?” She nodded into his shoulder and he kissed her head. Whatever the future held, he would be there.

Home

Source (picture of hands touching on a bed)

We built this place together… With our bare hands. Every board, nail screw and wire contains our blood, sweat and tears. It was a project of love, creating our home, our lover’s nest.

Tonight, I lie in your arms, feeling the beat of your heart, listening to the creaking of our home, as it settles for the night. The rain falls, creating a harmony of sounds on the roof and you pull me closer. I sigh contentedly and drift into sleep. A moment as perfect as this can only be earned.

A Picnic of Pearls

Source (picture of tea and pearls)

It was a beautiful day and her skirt was hitched above her knees to let the sun warm them. For once her hands didn’t worry her hems or her hair or wring themselves together in distress. She appeared relaxed and happy, sitting on our picnic blanket, her face turned toward the sky.

“Let me braid your hair, Nellie.” Her hazel eyes were green today, to match her dress, and when the sun caught them, they were like deep emeralds. I wondered if mine did the same.

She smiled, in her gentle way, “Ok, Ethel.”

I nudged over on the blanket, positioned myself behind my sister and began running my fingers though her hair to work through the tangles made by the wind. She tilted her head back and sighed as I began braiding.

Her hair was golden with hints of fiery red, which caught the sunlight and mesmerized me with their boldness. I wondered if Nellie might have been less reserved if her hair had been as bold as her highlights. Perhaps she would have been braver, less nervous… Perhaps people wouldn’t assume her quiet nature was a sign of a simple mind.

“Nellie, does it bother you, the way they treat you?”

“Who?”

“Other people, your teachers in school… Mother and Father.”

“It makes me nervous. That’s why I don’t talk.”

“You talk to me.”

“Because you’re my sister, Ethel… And you don’t act like I’m stupid.”

“You aren’t.”

Her face clouded for a moment. “How do you know?” she whispered.

“Because you are smart. We talk about all sorts of things and you help me figure out my problems all the time.”

“Mother says my illness affected my brain.” It had been hard enough to hear her when she whispered, this time she was barely audible. It was clear this was biggest fear and shame.

“Look at me.” Nellie, her hair now falling in a perfect plait down her back turned her body to face me, her eyes filled with tears. “You are not stupid and your brain is just fine. Mother doesn’t know everything.”

“But, Ethel, she…”

“She doesn’t. I promise.” Nellie didn’t look at all convinced, so I reached in my pocket and pulled out my darkest secret.

“Ethel… You… You…”

“Shhhh. They’re Mother’s pearls. I borrowed them for the NCO dance last night. She has no idea. I snuck them in my pocket and put them on after I got there.”

Nellie’s eyes were wide. “She’ll kill you.”

“She won’t. I’ll slip them back intro her jewelry box when she goes to do the shopping today but for now…” I reached out and set them on top of Nellie’s head like a crown. “I dub thee ‘The Smartest Girl at Our Picnic.'” Nellie giggled and her cheeks turned pink.

“Thank you, Madame.” She bowed slightly from the waist.

We fell onto silence for a while and I watched the as the pink drain slowly from her cheeks. Eventually, Nellie spoke into it tentatively, “Ethel, are you and Roger getting married soon?”

“Yes. He says he will be asking me before he goes overseas.”

“Oh.” For a short syllable, her “oh” might have been the most heartbreaking sound I had ever heard.

“I already told Roger you’ll be moving in with us and he agreed. I told him I would never go without you.”

“Oh, Ethel!” Suddenly all I could see was green as Nellie engulfed me in an enthusiastic hug.

“You’ll say yes then?” I managed to choke out through my tears.

“Yes! Of course! I would rather live with you than Mother and Father any time.”

“Then it’s settled.” I smiled, taking in her disheveled appearance, including Mother’s pearls hanging lopsidedly from her left ear. She pulled them off and handed them back to me.

“I don’t need these anymore.”

“I know. You didn’t really need them anyway. You were always enough on your own.”

Things Unsaid

Source (picture of yellow boots with “Dr. Martens” written on them)

I swallowed my truth whole, the moment I heard yours. Anything I said could only be a contradiction to your belief. My silence made little difference. My face was a marquee and you turned away in disgust.

I let you leave the house without trying to stop you. Why I didn’t speak, I don’t know, but it should have been obvious to you. How could you not see how ugly those yellow boots looked with your green skirt?

Becoming the Sky

Source (picture of a gray sky above a mountain meadow)

I found you in the woods after days of searching. Your eyes stared sightlessly at the metallic sky. A sky whose gray color reflected your skin. If you were flying, it would have encompassed you, like camouflage. You would have enjoyed that… To leave the bounds of gravity and become one with the sky. I wondered if you could now.

It’s strange, the thoughts that fill your mind when faced with the worst case scenario. Perhaps it was a function of shock. I’m not sure. I was numb and tired from days of searching. It took me a few minutes to find my phone and make the call.

I didn’t cry. I already knew, when you didn’t come home on time. I stayed by your side, refusing to leave the site until the coroner zipped you in, covering your face with a shroud of black plastic. My heart felt like it too, was encased.

I knew you too well, though. I knew you flirted with death like it was an old girlfriend you couldn’t get over. I hadn’t expected to grow old with you. You were too restless for anything so mundane and I guess I am too.

Tomorrow I’ll go climbing, because I can’t go to your funeral. I can’t watch you be placed in the ground, so far from the sky you worshipped, your adrenaline all dried up. I’m going to ascend in the exact same spot I know you were attempting to climb when you fell. Maybe I too, can become one with the sky.

Passive

Source (photo of a woman crying)

Am I still breathing?

Ragged, uneven

Your cold shoulder

Stopped my heart

And though…

I raged and stormed

And cried with grief

Fighting

A battle of the faithless,

I lost

I lost…

Corroded blood

Fills my veins

Tainted with betrayals

And terrible pain

Your iron fortress

Remains

Impenetrable

Steadfast

Break!

Silence

Break!

Swallowed screams

Powerless love

Meets

Powerful hate

Don’t let me drown

In your indifference

Expectations and Decisions

Source (picture of keys)

“She’s on my last fucking nerve today!” Kelsey slammed her keys down on the table, flopped into a chair and forced herself to take deep breaths. She had to get her composure back before she went back out there.

Aimee poked her head out of her office. “Do you want me to get your mom out of the car?”

“Is it ok if I hide in the bedroom for a few minutes?”

“Yeah. Go. Take a break.” Aimee kissed her on the head. “You’re doing great, Honey. It’s ok to be frustrated.”

Aimee left through the back door, allowing Kelsey to retreat and find her composure. She closed the bedroom door and fell onto the bed, sobbing for what felt like the thousandth time that week.

Aimee entered quietly forty minutes later. “She’s settled in front of her TV with her lunch. How bad was it?”

“She told the doctor I was keeping her locked up in a lesbian prison, then berated me all the way home for my immoral lifestyle and told me I should stay out of her business. Why are we doing this again?”

“We don’t have to,” Aimee said, plainly. “You don’t have to accept her abuse anymore.”

“Yeah. I just thought if we let her stay with us, cared for her, maybe she would…”

“Accept your immoral lifestyle? See us as an legitimate couple? Treat you how she should have always treated you as a mother?”

“Yeah. I guess I did.”

“It’s pretty deep conditioning isn’t it?”

“Yes.” Kelsey sobbed again and Aimee wrapped her arms around her pulling her to her chest.”

When she finished, Aimee kissed her forehead gently, “You are enough and you deserved to be loved unconditionally by your mother. I’m sorry you aren’t getting that from her.”

“Me too.”

“So. What do you want to do.”

“I want to start the process of getting her placed, but… I’m going to tell her what’s happening, lay down some ground rules and tell her we’ll reconsider if she manages to treat us respectfully.”

“Do you think she will?”

“No. But I want to be sure I gave her the opportunity.”

“Ok. I support all of that.” She kissed Kelsey on the forehead and moved back to the edge of the bed, standing up. “I’m going to go check on her.”

“Ok. I’ll call the social worker and get things started.”

“I’m proud of you, Babe.”

“Thanks. I think this is the right thing.” She watched Aimee leave, appreciating her gentle, loving support. It had been a rough few weeks and Aimee had barely complained. She as right, too, she didn’t have to accept continued abuse. She picked up her phone and dialed with a sense of relief.

A (Hopefully) Short Interruption

Hey, All!

I haven’t been able to update here as frequently as I used to. My life is actually in a bit of an upheaval at the moment. In a good way… but still. It keeps things busy.

I just completed a long distance move and am living in a house full of unpacked boxes. As a result, I am also in the middle of a career change… or at least changing my main source of income. I’m still writing every day but I’m having trouble coming up with interesting stories to post here. In a way, I think that’s a good thing as it was starting to feel a little repetitive. I’m ready to stretch myself.

As such, I entered a short story competition through NYC Midnight. It’s my first time doing anything like this so I’m ok with whatever the outcome is. They promise critique for every story submitted, which is invaluable. I’m working on a story for the first round now.

I’ll keep posting the micro-fiction as it comes to me, I’m just allowing my focus to widen for the moment. Hope everyone is well. Thanks for listening!