Wanderer – a story

This is a wee tale. First draft. Very rough. Me working out some ideas and seeing what is there. There’s the seed for another story planted here if I ever have time to swing back to it. We shall see. 

He wasn’t sure when his choice had become his fate.

He wasn’t sure when the distant hum in his head became a voice and then a chorus.

He wasn’t sure when the bottle stopped being a party and became a sentence.

He wasn’t sure of much anymore, just that some days it felt as if the fog had cleared from his head and he found himself in a place he didn’t recall and he wasn’t sure where he had been, where he had come from, and how he had come to be where he was.

And it shook him.

To his core.

To his faith.

To the bottom of himself

To sobriety.

But it never lasted.

The fog came back.
The voices returned.

And both seemed to be at the bottom of the bottle.

And they helped, the smiling faces, the nodding heads, and the open wallets.

Helped as much as they could.

But he wasn’t able to return their gestures.

Unable to repay their kindness with the truth because the truth was a sea he had not sailed in how many days, or weeks, or months, or even years.

He couldn’t even remember his age.

So he’d lie.

He lost his job.

He lost his family.

He lost his love.

He tuned out, he gave up, he walked on.

It was different every time, his earnest responses met with a pat on his shoulder and a knowing nod.

On and on and on he went, never sure where he was going, just that it was forward.

He has always seen himself cast in the part of victim in this play, as the man slighted by god, by society, and by his fellow man.

The truth of that lie though was revealed to him one day when the clouds cleared for him as he lay next to the bodies of two dead teenagers.

They couldn’t have been older than fifteen.

They could have been his children.

His daughter and son.

Their heads had been caved in, presumably with the shattered cinder block he was holding in his hand, their blood thick and sticky on his hands and face.

Their wallets were still on them.

There were no drugs around that he could find, and no booze.

The only clue he had was the change that was scattered around the bodies.

He looked around and saw that he was at the end of an alley full of piles of trash and burned out lights.

He wept beside them as he it slowly dawned on him that this probably wasn’t the first time he’d hurt someone.

He just couldn’t remember.

His left arm was itching and he looked down and saw there were two fresh cuts in the skin that were red and inflamed.

Two fresh cuts to go with four other cuts that were scarred over.

He took the boy’s wallet and the cash from the girl and covered them up with some boxes, the best burial he could offer them.

It wasn’t fair.

This wasn’t fair.

But if there was someone who understood how unfair this world was it was him, so maybe it was fitting that he was the one to usher them into the darkness.

And the clarity would fade, and the voices would get louder and they would drive him forward, telling him where to go and what to do as he slept deep within.

Trapped within the madness.

Trapped within his cage.

But as he shambled out of the alley and down the darkened city sidewalk a chilling thought came to him, a question that asked if these moments of clarity were not his true personality, his true face.

The face of the killer.

The face of the monster.

The voices were the lie, the sweet whispers to lull him back to sleep to keep him safe.

To keep him buried.

To keep him dead.

 

…c…

DOORS – a story

I had been looking for the first door since I was ten, and watched my aunt walk through a black door in the field before her house. This was only a month after my uncle had killed himself. Auntie Kelly and Uncle Rowan had been inseparable and when his lifelong depression lead him to an old gun that misfired and took half of his head off, leaving him alive for two weeks after his attempt, the whole world collapsed beneath Aunt Kelly’s feet.

I think as soon as the flat line sounded on that monitor at the hospital her mind was made up – she wouldn’t live without him.

How she found the black door, or rather summoned it, I can’t say.

I have my theories.

There are books that correspond with the doors, the books acting as keys when an actual, physical key was not found. You needed a key to open the door and enter, and words and phrases could work just as well as some small piece of strange wood or metal. Should you try or worse should you succeed in forcing the door open then friend, the horrors you would find I can only guess at.

When my aunt walked through that tall, wide black door that stood glowing in the middle of her field, she turned to me and gave a sad wave, tears in her eyes as she learned what lay beyond that frame. She walked through and as she did the door stood open for a moment and I ran forward in the hope of catching a glimpse within and managed to see a shape that looked like her within the darkness within the door as she embraced another form that could have been my uncle, then the door slammed shut on me, the glow faded and the door fell backward onto the ground where wheat had once stood. The door then sank into the ground as if into water and I ran to it and grabbed the doorknob and pulled it in the vain hope of stopping it from sinking further but the knob burned my hand and I let go as quickly as I had grabbed it and in a moment it was gone.

I dug in the dirt for a few moments afterward but it was gone as if it had never existed at all.

She followed my uncle into death, having read from The Book of Sighs. Had she used the key the door would have remained, open and calling to all who dare come to it. With a key the door would remain open until it was closed and if it was never closed, well, then you find areas like Whippoorwill, Arkansas, a place better left forgotten.

A place better left in the past.

I know of Whipporwill only because of something I found while revisiting the past.

 

I had spent years and years searching for doors.

I was consumed by it.

I loved my aunt and uncle, yes, but I wasn’t looking to join them. I wanted to find them. To find what they had entered.

It was an itch I could not scratch.

That needing to know.

That needing to see.

There was a world there, beyond the door, a world I wasn’t meant to see and dammit I wanted to see it.

I needed to see it.

So I looked.

I spent untold hours looking for information as I bounced from foster home to foster home, never lasting and finally booted from the system at eighteen when I went off to college.

Books were full of self help nonsense and information on how to get ahead in life but it wasn’t that sort of door which I sought.

No.

Not at all.

I finally found something in a children’s book I found at a library set up at the bus stop in the city where my school was. The book was poking out a bit from an alcove beneath the bench so I pulled it out, drawn in by the green cover.

My Green Door was the name of the book and it was the story of a little girl who was running away from a witch of a mother and she found a small green door on a nearby beach and went through it into a whole new world. The story ended with the entry into that world but the last lines haunted me and added to the mystery.

She found something…wonderful.

But what?

And then six months later there was a poetry book that had a poem called Red Door, Red Door, What Do You Hide? The poem was short but hinted that if you were to enter the red door that you would find a way to get back at someone who wronged you. I looked for the author of both books but found none, just as there was no other printing information. It was as if they appeared.

I searched the internet and found others like me talking about books that people talked about that would take you to doors and some books that told you about them and some that served as keys and others that served as spell books to summon others through the doors.

No one had found the books though.

It was all bullshit speculation.

All guesswork.

All smoke.

I had found books.

Two.

I found the third when I went out to my aunt’s farm. I had been sitting on the property, having inherited it, despite the urging of many locals to sell it.

I couldn’t sell it though because what if, what if the door was still there?

Hiding?

Waiting?

I was desperate for money and had decided to give up and sell but wanted to go through the place one last time before I turned things over to Flatston Falls Shrug and Haul, the local moving company. I wanted to see if there was anything worth keeping and, Christ, worth finding.

I had been right.

It was hiding in plain sight.

One book, black, sitting next to her bedside.

It wasn’t the book of sighs though.

This was another children’s book.

So it seemed that The Book Of Sighs was how one summoned the door, this was merely something that warned you.

I thumbed through it and saw it was different than the other book. This was first person and followed you as you grieved for a lost grandfather and how you sought to find him again and that you found a book that opened a black door.

Oh, but you had to be careful because if you didn’t have your loved one’s face in mind clearly you could call to one of the ‘lost’, someone that no one loved and who haunted the realm of the black door. And if one of those found you, well, I don’t know. The book’s last few pages were torn out. Whatever auntie had found, she didn’t want others finding it.

I looked all over and didn’t find the other book.

It was gone, probably with the door.

I did find an article though about a small town in Arkansas called Whipporwill. It was one of those ‘ghost’ towns you read about. The article talked about how one day everyone disappeared and all that was left was an open yellow door. Eventually weeds grew from near that door and the weeds devoured the town. Fire wouldn’t kill them nor would pesticide. The government had been called but before further action could be taken the door and its weeds disappeared.

My guess was someone had called a door, opened it, and had left it open.

The town was gone, the houses and barns and even the streets had been consumed by the weeds and when the weeds were gone so were those things.

I left the house and went home by train.

I had a thought in mind.

What if you made your own door?

What if you made your own door to somewhere else?

What would happen?

I wondered.

 

I didn’t have any books.

I also didn’t have any people.

Nor connections.

I had no place in mind, I just wanted to go somewhere else.

I had been drawn to the strange and different since seeing that door and this was what I had always dreamed about – finding new places to explore.

If I could make a door into one world perhaps I’d find another door there, another and another into infinity.

That was my dream.

My fantasy.

Every place must be connected and these doors were one connection.

I just needed to my door.

 

I didn’t have a key or a guide but I had a dream that showed me what to do and how to do it and it seemed so obvious.

So clear.

I had never been attached to people.

I had never been close to anyone.

Not even god.

It was natural that it would take the very thing I wanted to be free of to get what I needed most.

 

I wasn’t sure how many I would need.

It was all guesswork so I did the best I could.

I took all three from school.

One was a townie and the other two were part of the physics program, a joke I couldn’t resist.

I wasn’t sure if they’d be missed or not.

I was beyond caring.

It was now or never.

If this didn’t work then I was out of options. I had gone too far down this road to find just a dead end.

There were answers.

There had to be.

Maybe they just weren’t for me.

 

As I cut the patterns seemed to develop, the door began to take shape and I realized what all artists do, that the art is within the materials and if you let it speak to you then it will tell you how to proceed.

It was long work.

Tiring work.

By the end I was soaked through with blood but the work was done.

The pieces were cut.

I would have my door.

I cut free the meat from discarded parts and used pieces of bone as my nails and constructed the door, driving spikes into the ground and stretching out the intestines to hold it in place.

I made the doorknob out of the skull of the townie and it was done.

I made no lock.

There would be no lock for this door.

Whomever dared enter was welcome.

There would be no secrets with this door.

Whomever dared desire it would have it.

This was the door to the end.

The end of all things.

And from the end you would work your way backwards.

I would work my way backwards until I found the first door and the beginning.

And there I would find whatever had made these doors. Whatever god, or devil, or thing beyond made these things, these dreams and nightmares, I would find them I would and they would see what I have done in tribute, in defiance, and they would sit me beside them.

And if they wouldn’t…all gods must die.

The bones said this.

The bodies said this.

The blood said this.

And I said this.

Gods needed us more than we needed them.

They could make all the doors they wanted but without us to go through them they were just doors.

We were what gave them meaning.

We were what gave them power.

I stand naked and covered in blood before my door and as it swings open before me I can see the world beyond and it is beautiful and terrible and it was mine.

So soon would it all be.

All of it.

…c…

 

SO MUCH FORGOTTEN

The snake that winds through me is generations long, its tail now buried within the dust of my ancestors, sprung from one of them like the demigod it is. Child of a god, come to slither its way through my family tree. Strangling the roots and killing us one by one until one day I woke with a darkness over me, a shadow over my mind, and I knew.

I knew.

I knew it had finally come for me.

I went to the doctors and she didn’t find anything so I went to another and another and another and none of them could see it, see it for what it was.

Of the five doctors I went to each gave me a new reason as to why I was going through what I was going through and what ailment they thought I might be facing.

It hid in plain sight from them.

Coiled around a half dozen symptoms and slithering out of view just as they seem to get close to it.

It was there though, and I knew it and as the fog settled in thicker and thicker I knew it was just a matter of time until the moments there was fog were more frequent than the moments of clarity.

When the shadow finally found me in full, the snake sinking its teeth into my chest until its poison was drained, it had been three years since I first guessed it had found me.

I had gone to sleep at ten in the evening, lying alone in my bed and staring up at the white sky of my ceiling.

I woke on my back, strapped to a gurney in a hospital scream, scream, screaming for my mother who was long dead.

The snake had taken my mother as it had taken her mother and her mother and on and on, striking down the women of our family and only managing to skip sisters, taking only one, its singular act of kindness.

My sister was there to sit with me and calm me as she explained that I had been found walking down the center of a highway three miles from my apartment.

More testing and the tests lead to medications and to assurances that we had caught it, whatever it was that was eating away at me.

After the third time I had been found my sister held my hand and said nothing as the doctor’s whispered to one another. She knew the snake, maybe not as well as I did but she knew it, and she knew it had come for me.

It was why neither of us had married.

It was why neither of us had had children.

Because the only way to kill the snake would be to starve it, even if it meant the end of us.

My sister got me out of the hospital with the promise she would look after me and get me the help and treatment I needed but it was a lie, only one of the many we had both told in our lives, this one woven out of love though, and for that I was grateful.

We spent the last hours of light on her porch, holding hands and looking at pictures from when we were kids. As we sat there the children in the photos became strange and unfamiliar and I suppose that was when my sister knew it was time.

When I came to again it was night and I was scared and cried for some time before I was clear enough to remember where I must be and why I was there.

And now it’s just me and the snake as it feasts on me but I know soon, very soon, it will starve.

It will starve and I will laugh at it as it does.

Laugh until the vomit comes, until the black clouds settle, and until I am long, long gone.

That was the last gift my sister gave me, as she settled me here in the grass of the woods where we used to play.

Three little pills that would let me choose darkness over the gray.

And when I was finally gone she would have me collected, and buried, and with me would be buried the snake, our inheritance, and the last of our family curse.

I lived not a great life.

I lived not a bad life.

I lived a life.

A life that was far too short for how very long it was.

So much I knew that was gone.

So much forgotten. .

Once my sister was gone there would be no one left to remember me and it was a black, bitter thing that life is its own sort of snake, that strangles the memories from all of us and all of those we love, strangling the world itself until there is nothing left of any of us but dust and forgotten dreams.

…c…

Dancing In Their Heads

Consider this a late Christmas gift. It is rough around the edges and unedited, but there’s a little coal within, as well as a small gift, it’s up to you to decide which is which. 

 

“You’re not the REAL Santa, you know.”

“Oh, is that the case?” The man with the long white beard pushed the fur trimmed read hat further up on his head and turned away from the mall’s window and towards the little girl speaking to him.

“Yup! You’re a fake. A, a, a ‘poster!”

The old man laughed.

“Well then, it seems you have me pegged, don’t you, little lady? Well then, so who do you suppose I am if I am not Saint Nick?” The man had bent down and had his hands on his knees as he spoke to the little girl in the blue jeans, t-shirt, and cowboy hat.

“You’re some, oh, I dunno, some guy name Mack, or Joe, or Bub. You’re just a, uh, you know fella, an employee. You just work here. You aren’t the real thing.”

“Well little girl, why can’t I work in a store like this one? Or the one across the street, or anywhere in the world? Why can’t I?”

“Mister, that’d be IMPASTA-BOWL! He can’t be everyone at once. He can’t do this job AND make toys and all that. He just can’t. And besides, you just don’t even LOOK like him!”

The old man laughed and stood up straight as a bell chimed in the distance.

Continue reading “Dancing In Their Heads”

The House We Never – a story

This is a new story as of 6.23.17.

A strange tale of northern Michigan and hidden secrets and deep woods. The story is inspired as much by a recent trip to the U.P, as we ‘troll’s call the northern part of our state, as it is the sparse, mysterious storytelling that always draws me to podcasts. I kinda dig this. I hope you will to. 

If you dig it and want to read more of my stuff check one of my books – www.meepsheep.com.

I was six when mom and dad bought the house up north. Up North was in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan, about six hours away from where we lived and this new place was to be a vacation home. Mom and dad bought it after grandma died and left them what remained of money she’d invested and sat on for decades. They never could vacation before they got that money and from what I remember they argued a lot about what to do with it. It was a lot of money for them but not a lot of money ‘to everyone else’ is dad would say. It was his mother that had died and he had the final say, according to mom, though she wanted him to put it away. About three months after grandma died dad came home all excited with an ad he had found in the paper for a small piece of land with a small cabin on it up north. Imagine, he told her, imagine having a place, finally having a place where we could go to get away. Our own place. Ours. And that was what sold mom on it. They didn’t even own the house we lived in. They were paying on it and would be for decades. This though, this place, this would be theirs. Ours. They’d leave it to me one day and then it’d be mine and that was that. They bought the property. I am not sure for how much, I didn’t really understand all of that, but it was a lot, but not all of the money they were left. The rest of the money they put away in case I ever wanted to go to college.

And just like that, we owned a vacation cabin.

They bought the cabin in November, by listing, a photo, and faith alone because the year they bought it the winter came earlier than usual and made it hard for dad to make it up to see the place and he didn’t want to lose this opportunity. The man they bought it from swore that it was just as he said and that as far as he was concerned the place was sold and he’d accept the money for it the day we came up to get the keys from him. It was a strange arrangement, even to me, but it was what they agreed on. Dad was suspicious but mom told him that maybe, just maybe this time life was giving them a little luck. And she was right, in a way.

The drive wasn’t inspiring. It was beautiful but the beauty turned to squalor and ruin as we passed hunter’s cabins that had been abandoned, and areas that looked more like junkyards than anything else. There was an eerie isolation to all of it where we’d drive through a town and then see nothing but trees and trees and trees with the occasional glimpse of a river or the great lake and then more hills and mini-mountains. I started to feel homesick until we hit an area that became beautiful again where the hills were vibrant, the trees tall and proud, and where there were homes clustered together, places where people lived and loved year ‘round and didn’t just stop in to for a visit every few months. Those spots are what gave me hope and then we were there, we were at our new place, the house we’d never call home.

The cabin was small, and needed work, but it was just as it had been described. It was a two-bedroom place in need of new windows, a new roof, and a good cleaning, but it was built solidly of wood and had withstood the harsh winters since 1938. Dad said it had ‘good bones’. I just thought it was old and weird and neat. It was within a half an hour of Lake Superior, less than that to some hiking trails, and was bordered by a deep forest. Our land was small enough that dad could use the old-fashioned push mower that he had gotten at a garage sale to mow it but it had trees and some space to put a grill or tent or a bonfire or SOMETHING. There was no neighbor to the left of us, that place having burned up and being just a scorched shell, and to the right of us was a hunting cabin that a man from Ohio owned, bought from the same man we bought our place, and who only used it during hunting season. We were alone and out in the country but not so far that we couldn’t get a pizza and groceries when we needed, we just had to drive a half an hour. No big deal. It was all too good to be true but then there was the ‘ah, but’ to it all.

As soon as the man said this, Mr., uh, I forget his name but he was short and wide and smelled like a pipe, dad swore and started to put his checkbook away. The man, Mr. So-and-So put his hand on dad’s hand, shook his head from side to side slowly and then turned and started walking away from us. Mom looked at dad and dad looked at me and I shrugged and we all laughed and started to follow this strange man. He walked around the cabin and back towards the back of our lot, the area behind it being owned by a logging company that never, from what the man said, hadn’t been active in years. There was a strange fence at the back of our property and ran from the left to the right as far as the eye could see. Strange because the fence was new, tall, and chain link. The old man had mentioned it to dad when we got there, telling him not to get worried when he saw it, that it was just the way of the company, as he called the logging people. He said we might hear some work being done back there but that we wouldn’t see them. That didn’t make sense since he said they weren’t active but dad didn’t bring it up. We never had made it around back, dad just glancing back there as mom called out that there was a cellar and dad wondered aloud if anyone was buried down there. I had looked out back though and wondered what the squat building I saw was near to the forest but never thought to say anything. That was what all of this was about though, the big ‘ah, but’. The Guest House.

 

The Guest House, that was what the man called it, but it looked more like a large shed. It lay at the very back of the property and was just a couple of feet from the fence and it looked old, older than the cabin. Much older. It was made of stone and looked like it had sunk into the ground as I could have easily climbed onto the roof of the building, even at six. The windows, two on the side facing the house and none facing any other direction, were shuttered with heavy metal shutters that must have been secured from the inside. I walked around and around and around the place but could find no door, though Mr. So-and-So claimed that the door was below ground now. Dad started frowning as soon as he saw the Guest House and it seemed like this deal was dead with that frown but the man let out a laugh, clapped dad on the back and told him that it was nothing, really. This was an old hunter’s cabin that had been here for at least a couple hundred years and that it was part of the deal – if we wanted the other cabin and the rest of the land we had to take this as well under the promise not to destroy, harm, or attempt to gain entry. It was an unofficial historical place since it had been used during some war with the ‘natives’, as he called them, and the locals, whoever they were, considered the place almost holy. He told us to consider it an annoying stump we had to mow around.

 

“Hell of a goddamn stump, pal.” Dad told him, my mom swatting dad on the shoulder as he cursed twice.

 

The man laughed again and smiled at my dad and nodded then took a pencil stub and piece of paper out of his pocket and wrote something down and then handed it to my dad. Dad’s eyes got wide and he looked at the man and asked him if he was serious.

 

“Serious as the croup, sir, serious as the croup. I like you folks. This land has needed some new blood and I just don’t have the time or honestly the energy to keep up with it. If you’ll give me your word that you won’t fool with this here old eyesore then we have a deal…for the price I wrote there. Sound agreeable to you?”

 

Dad looked at mom and she shrugged. Dad looked at me and I was still trying to make some sense of the building, which, the more I looked at the more drawn to it I got. I looked over at dad and he smiled and I smiled back, forcing it because my mind was still picking at that building and according to dad my smile sold him. We bought.

We didn’t stay there that first time we were up there, the place needing too much work first, staying instead down near the bridge that took you from the upper to the lower peninsula, but dad promised that we’d be up there by the end of summer. Every weekend during that late spring and summer dad would get out of work, pack up his truck, and head up north to work on the place. He’d come back around midnight on Sunday, exhausted, hungry, and desperate for sleep but he was excited. ‘It’s coming along,’ he’d tell mom, and she’d hug him and give him a big kiss as I watched from the shadows of the hallway. As excited as I was to stay up north though the weird cabin in the back, our Guest House, was still stuck in my brain like popcorn between teeth, and I wasn’t sure why. I just couldn’t work it free from my mind. It was like seeing it awoke a voice in me that wouldn’t stop talking and I couldn’t stop listening.

The year didn’t go as planned, the weather didn’t go as planned, and life didn’t go as planned and so we didn’t make it up to our new cabin that spring or summer. When we finally did make it up north for a brief three day stay at the end of summer it rained the entire time and mom and dad put puzzles together, played records, and sat around reading and I sat by the window and looked out at the Guest House. It was the same, but, you know, not. Dad had gotten a lot done that summer, cleaning up the yard and cabin and getting a new roof on, but the Guest House was the same as it had been before. The same but different. There was a two hour stretch Saturday night where it stopped raining and mom and dad drove into town to get us some dinner and I told them I wasn’t feeling great so I stayed back to rest. As soon as they were gone though I put my coat and rain boots on and mucked my way out the back door towards the Guest House.

First I looked at the fence, which I found had hinges and a large lock just behind the cabin that we hadn’t noticed it. There was only about four feet between the Guest House and the fence and it was strange that there was a gate here. Especially one with a new looking lock. I ran my hand over the fence and it was just ordinary fence, nothing special. I leaned forward and looked through and past the fence and saw that the wood were thick but that there were paths through the trees, wide paths that lead deeper into the darkness. I saw no logging equipment back there or equipment of any kind to be honest. Just trees and strange plants that I didn’t recognize. I was startled by a loud crack deep in those forest and I quickly slid out from behind the Guest House and turned my attention to it. I put my hand against the stones and pulled it away immediately as they were so cold that they hurt to touch them. As if they were made of ice. As I was looking at the stones I noticed that the building itself looked completely dry, as if the rain hadn’t hit it. I knelt and looked at the stones that made up the Guest House, careful not to touch them, and noticed that as I got closer there were designs on each stone and the closer I got the more I realized that they had been carved into somehow, numbers, letters, words, in all manner of languages I couldn’t recognize. I scooted over slowly and saw that every stone I looked at had these same things on them. Each was carved into. Then something occurred to me and I moved back a little and I realized that the designs in the stone were part of something else, something bigger – an image. I couldn’t see it where I was and I felt like I would need to be back a ways, or really high up to see what the image was but there was a design to the way things were done that I sensed more than saw and I felt a chill run down my back and just as I did I heard something move inside the Guest House. I stood up fast and back away, tripping over myself and falling onto my butt. I was looking at the front of the building and the sun was shining but I was within the cabin’s shadow and felt the cold from it on me and with it that voice in my head seemed to get louder. It made me want to go closer to the Guest House, to put both hands on the stones and then my mouth and then…but I pushed myself backwards, butt slipping through the mud as I did, just to be back in the disappearing sunlight. I was fifteen feet away now and staring at the Guest House and heard nothing. The sound, a strange sort of guttural muttering, was gone now. As I watched though I saw one of the metal shutters that covered each window move, pushed outward once, then twice and for a moment I thought it was going to bow outward and shatter, revealing who or what was within. I got up and ran as fast as I could back into the house and locked the door and then dropped myself in front of a window to watch the Guest House. As soon as I got back inside the rains came down again but none of them touched the cabin, the place having almost a force field around it. A moment later the door to our cabin burst open behind me and mom and dad came in, soaked and laughing but they stopped as soon as they saw me, my dad rushing over to me as mom went to get me glass of water.

“Hey, hey buddy are you OK? Are you OK? Are you OK?”

I am not sure what they saw but mom later told me that I was smiling in a strange way and that my nose was bleeding. I didn’t remember that. I just remembered that I couldn’t find the words to answer dad and fell into the darkness of sleep.

 

I told my parents. I did. As soon as I was awake, about three hours later, I told them. Dad looked out into the darkness of the night and squinted but it was clear he couldn’t see anything. Neither told me to calm down and neither told me I was crazy. Mom told me they’d take a look tomorrow, before we left, and that’s what they did. The next day was warmer and overcast but dry and as I packed my stuff up and dad started closing the cabin up mom went out to look at the Guest House, our other house, the one we didn’t live in but lived with us. She was out there a while, touching it cautiously, bending down to look at it from this angle and that and after twenty minutes she made her way to the car, after dad had honked three times for her. She was white, her hands were shaking and she wouldn’t make eye contact with dad and her nose was bleeding. She wiped away at it absently before speaking.

 

“You’re right…there’s markings. Strange, strange markings. They form a, well it’s, I mean it’s funny because it’s just…well… And the stones are cold. It’s…” She trailed off. Dad looked at her but she shook her head at him and turned to look back at the Guest House that was that. Off we went for home.

 

I wasn’t sure whether they believed me or not but things seemed different after that trip. They didn’t talk about the cabin, at least to me, and we didn’t go up north for over a year. I could tell dad wanted to talk about it but whenever he talked about vacations mom would get a look in her eye and would tense up and dad would drop it so nothing really happened with it. What did happen was dad would go up there a couple times a month to work on things. From what I overheard they were trying to make the place as nice as possible to sell it. I am not sure what mom experienced when she was at the Guest House, our other house, but it changed her. Dad didn’t seem any different though and on the weekends, he was gone he came back the same as ever. I wasn’t sure that he ever went to examine the Guest House or not but if he did I never heard about it. I was just about to turn nine when dad announced, two weeks before summer was going to begin, that we were going up to the cabin. Mom dropped the cup she was holding and opened her mouth to speak but dad smiled at her and reached across the dining room table and patted her hand.

 

“So, here’s the thing…I talked to the guy we bought it from, the sorta weird older guy, well, there’s a clause in the contract that we have to keep the property for ten years before we can do anything else. On top of that we cannot touch the fencing in the back and cannot touch the Guest House at the back of the property, which we sorta knew and we don’t want to do. He wants to make sure we aren’t speculators that are looking to buy low and flip the place. He was polite while we talked but, well, different. Not nearly as cordial. Very matter of fact. He said he owns the other property around there, something that must be new or a lie or something, and he doesn’t want the wrong sort taking up the land. I even took the contract to a lawyer and it’s legal since it was part of the conditions of buying the place. I hadn’t read that and I am sorry. I even offered to sell the property back to the guy, at a loss but he just sat silently on the other end for a minute and then the line went dead. So, well, we’re stuck, for a while. Not forever, but a while. I DID do a few things up there. More than I could do last year. I cleaned up the main house and brought it up to now and not twenty years ago. I planted the property. Also, and best of all, I put a fence around the weird house at the back. It’s a six-foot-high fence that you can’t see through with a gate on it that has a big, heavy lock. I had a friend from work come help put it in. I know that place gives you two the willies but I want us to be able to enjoy that property since we own it, at least for now. Give it a chance. Please? One more chance? So, we’re heading up. No, wait. I would like to ask you both, please, can we head up there for the Memorial Day holiday? Take the kiddo out of school that Friday and head up and come back Sunday night and spend Monday together at home? Sound good?”

 

Since we had gone up to the cabin I had had strange dreams about the Guest House. Nothing specific, no witches, no monsters, no anything, just the cabin, and the forest, and the sound of someone breathing heavily nearby. The voice was there still, louder, telling me to look closer at the patterns in the stones, not to get further back, that closer was the key. The dreams didn’t last long but they always came back. I wasn’t sure what they meant and am still not sure though I think part of it is that idea that someone or someTHING was in that place and I had no idea how they ever got in there. The thing was though that as obsessed as I secretly was with that place I had no reason to be scared. It was weird, and creepy, but nothing had happened to me. My mother, my mother I wasn’t so sure about. She was different since we were up there. Different since she went to go check out the cabin. She would scare easy, startle I guess. Even if nothing had happened. She’d be sitting still and suddenly she’d whirl around and look for something or someone that wasn’t there. Or my dad would do something small, something simple like take her hand or rub her shoulder and she’d shudder. I didn’t get it and worse than me dad didn’t get it. That’s what I think was part of the reasoning behind the trip though. Sure, it was about money, he wanted to take advantage of money he’d already spent, but I think too that he wanted to see if getting us up there again he could show us that there was nothing to fear.

So we went.

The place was beautiful, dad had done a lot of work on the landscape and the cabin and just everything, just as he had told us. It barely even looked like the same place. He had cleaned and painted the cabin. He had updated the electric inside. He’d added a television and microwave. There were new beds on the frames and he’d cleaned the wood floors and installed a new toilet. There was landscaping with bushes and small trees where there had been ruts and overgrown weeds. The grass was re-sodded. There was a small pond that he’d had dug out there, not very big but big enough to put your feet into and there was a bonfire pit and chairs near to that. And then the fence. It was black and tall, about six feet, and there was a big lock that closed it off. Not seeing the Guest House gave me a feeling I can’t quite describe, almost an itchy feeling, but mom seemed relieved and as soon as she saw the fence she threw her arms around dad’s neck and gave him a kiss that lit me up red and made me look away quickly. Things were back to normal.

Friday night was amazing. We cooked outside on a grill dad had hiding in the garage. We roasted marshmallows over the fire, and we ended the night by making up stories about what was in the forest beyond the fencing at the back of our property. Dad said a silver mine. I said a colony of aliens and mom said, well, it was weird, she just said ‘they’ were back there. We didn’t understand but she laughed afterwards and then we did too and it was awesome. I went to bed that night and stared out at the stars and the black fence standing guard in the backyard and dreamt of darkness.

I was the one that heard mom. It was almost six in the morning and her screams came to me as if from a dream. I clawed my way out of sleep and then suddenly her voice was filling the world before light even did. I opened my eyes and sat up and immediately looked outside, where it seemed like her voice was coming from, and saw only the black teeth of the fence. I got up and ran out the back door and started calling for my mom, who was hysterically screaming, her voice already going hoarse. She was behind the fence and in with the Guest House. I ran to where the fence was secured with a gate and found it locked. I pulled on the handle to the door and got no movement. I pulled at the lock and found the same. I started kicking at the door with my bare foot when my dad came up behind me, he shirtless and in shorts, and he pushed me to the side and shook a red key free of the jumble of keys he had on a keychain and he put it into the lock and turned. As soon as the lock was free the door burst outward at us and mom fell onto the wet grass, shuddering and crying. Dad dropped to his knees and put his hand on her arm and she screamed.

 

“The sounds, the sounds, oh god make them stop.”

My dad looked up at me and we both looked at the Guest House and there was nothing different about it, at least that he saw. I was still looking when I felt something cold in my hand. Dad had handed me the lock so I pulled the door closed and locked it again as he helped mom to her feet and got her back to the house. Despite the warmth in the day mom was shivering so we got her to the love seat and sat her down and dad grabbed a quilt from the cupboard and covered her up. She kept looking all around the cabin, almost as if she was trying to see everything at once and dad was trying to get her to tell him what had happened. To tell him how she’d gotten back there and what she’d heard. She started to open her mouth to speak but her head turned and she looked out the window to the fence and she stopped shivering and looked back at dad.

 

“I feel tired now. I am going to lay down and go to sleep.”

 

Dad and I were confused but before we could say anything else mom turned away from us, brought her feet up underneath her legs, and was quiet.

Dad got up and walked to the window and looked out to the yard then went into his bedroom to dress before heading out to the fence. As he was heading out I went to join him but he turned and told me to stay with my mom witha look in his eye that told me not to question that so I didn’t. I looked over at mom and she was snoring softly so I pulled a chair from the kitchen table over to the window and sat in it and watched as my dad examined the fence. First he looked at the fence itself and pushed on it and pulled at it and tried to see if there was a spot where mom could have snuck through. From there he moved to the lock, which he pulled at but found it secure. Dad walked around and around the fence for ten minutes and on seeing nothing he went back to the front and fished into his pocket, pulled the key to the lock out, and unlocked the gate. Dad pulled the gate open and stepped inside the fencing and disappeared behind it. Dad was gone for several minutes and mom had gone silent and I started to get that itchy feeling again so I stood and slowly I moved closer and closer to the door until I was at it and yelling out to my dad. He appeared a moment later, sweaty and dirty and looking confused. He looked at me and shrugged then walked through the gate, picked up the lock, locked it into place, and came back up to the cabin.

 

“I have no idea how she got in there, buddy. None. And no idea what spooked her. I thought I…well, I just dunno. Hopefully she can tell us when she wakes up. It’s odd though, real odd. Odder though…well, odder is that you know that fence in the back, behind our property? Well, that gate is open. Not even just open…the gate’s just… gone.”

 

Dad had me help him cook dinner, something he never did, and we let mom sleep. When dinner was ready dad went over to wake her but she only mumbled that she wasn’t hungry and pulled the blanket over her head. Dad tried again and again to get her awake enough to eat something but she wouldn’t so he finally shrugged to me, the second time that day, and we went to the table and ate and dad watched mom the entire time. After dinner I washed up the dishes while he put the food in containers.

 

“We’re gonna head home early tomorrow, OK? I know I wanted us to do more this weekend but with your mom sick and a long drive ahead I think it’s best we just get on the road as early as possible. Finish washing up, buddy, and then let’s get packed for tomorrow.”

I won’t lie. I was disappointed. We hadn’t been able to do anything that we’d talked about, not really, but I understood. Mom was acting different. Even if I didn’t want to, I knew it was time to go home so after I finished the dishes I went and packed my things up, and then went into the kitchen and helped dad pack up the food into a tub. We talked about whether we should wake mom up or not but she seemed so peaceful on the couch that we decided to let her sleep through the night. It was only nine by this time so dad and I went outside and sat in silence under the stars, watching the sky and looking for space ships until the mosquitos got bad enough to chase us in. We went to bed just after eleven, him giving me a big hug before he trudged off to bed and patting my mom gently on the leg as he passed her. That was the last time I saw dad.

I woke up to mom’s screams again the next morning but this time they were coming from her and dad’s bedroom. I got up and hurried into the room next to mine and saw mom standing with one hand on her mouth and the other at her side clutching the quilt she’d had on her when we put her to bed. I wasn’t sure what had upset her but I immediately saw dad was gone and on the bed, where the covers were pushed back, was one single drop of blood. I still wasn’t sure why mom was so upset, dad must have hurt himself when he was outside, or cleaning up, or who knows when. Not a big deal. She slowly turned towards me, eyes wide and mouth in a silent scream and she just looked at me, almost through me, and she dropped the blanket and left the room and me behind. I turned and watched her go to the kitchen and grab a knife. She looked over her shoulder at me and then slowly faced me. We looked at each other a moment and she took a step towards me, moving the knife in her hand as she did, perhaps to get a better grip, but before she could take another step there was a cry from outside. A scream. Mom looked towards the front door, which was open, and took a step, then stopped and turned her gaze back on me. There was another cry and she ran out the door and towards the back of the house.

I slowly walked out of her bedroom and down the short hallway, bare-chested and in shorts, and walked into the living room to look out the window. She was gone, disappeared behind the fence. I walked outside and cringed at how cold the dewy grass was on my feet but moved forward slowly, looking for her. I made it to the fence and had not seen her so I started making my way around it, towards the back of it. Towards where the sounds had come from. I rounded the fence and saw the other fence, the one that was in place when we bought the property, and beyond it was forest, which had grown thick with leaves since last I’d been here. I didn’t see any sign of mom or dad so I headed for the opening in the fence and just inside, near the first tree, was the knife mom had been holding laying on the ground. Without thinking twice, I walked into the forest and found myself on a path that was tramped down and had to be nearly ten feet wide. One of the paths I had seen before. The trees here were tall and thick and the grass high and, strangely, sharp. I stopped in my tracks when I felt something cut my foot. I lifted it and saw a long slice along the heel and blood pooling then dripping onto the ground. I looked around for a piece of glass or a rock, anything that might have cut me but saw only the grass. I reached down and touched a thick blade and a thin red line formed on my finger. Whatever this grass was, it was sharp. Dangerously sharp.

I didn’t see any sign of mom or dad and knew I couldn’t make it any deeper into the forest because the path ahead was full of the same sort of grass and got darker the deeper I looked so I was stayed put and looked around to see if I could catch sight of anything. I put my hand on a tree and gently put my wounded foot back down on the ground. The tree was warm and seemed almost to be breathing. I pulled my hand away and backed up a step. There was movement to my left and I turned and saw mom, hanging impaled on the barbs of a large plant that was covered in long, thin needles. The plant was at least ten feet high and by the look of it she had wandered off the path and had gotten caught up in it and was stuck now, her thrashing sinking the spikes deeper into her. It looked like a picker bush, only much bigger and it was white, or had been, but as I watched it seemed to be pulsing and turning from white to pink to red. Mom was hung sideways, two feet off the ground and she was straining to see me, I could tell, each movement pulling a moan from her and no more since a long barb had run through one cheek and out through the other. I looked down and saw no blood pooled beneath her, just throbbing vines that were wrapped around the bush and which snaked deeper into the trees.

Ignoring the pain, I walked towards her, the grass slicing into my feet and ankles and leaving a trail of red for me to follow behind me. She was only a few feet off the trail but walking towards her made it feel like a mile. When I got to her I heard her whimper and pull away from my hand as I went to lay it on her forehead. She felt cold. I shushed her and smiled at her. She started crying. I heard something moving deeper in the forest, then something else, and suddenly the forest was awakened. I wondered if it was the scent of her blood or mine that had done it but it was clear that company was coming. I patted her head one last time and then slowly walked backwards towards the gate’s entrance. My mother started making loud noises and thrashing and I looked down the path and saw why. Oh, yes, I saw why and she was right to be upset.

I smiled, bowed to the visitors, then took the last two steps back and was onto our property again. My property. I watched the things of the forest emerge and surround my mother and then that was the last I saw of her.

I walked around our fence and to the front and put my hand on the lock and pulled once, twice, and on the third pull the lock broke and fell to the ground. I pulled the gate open and there was the Guest House, waiting. My house. My new house. The house that they would never live in is the house I would love. I walked forward and could feel the grass beneath my feet moving, squirming, sopping up my blood. I went to the cool stones of the cabin and touched them and heard a sound from within. The same sound my mother had heard. The same sound I had heard. I smiled.

The grass around the Guest House started to pull downward and I took a step back away and more and more of the house was revealed to me as the earth around it pulled back into itself and I saw that we had only been allowed to see the attic of what was a very, very large home and when the ground had stopped moving there was a long, wise stairway made of blue stones that lead down, down, down to a heavy wooden door which was waiting for me to enter.

I turned my attention from the Guest House and started the long job of pulling the fence that surrounded it down. I had a lot of work to do but this had to be taken care of first. Luckily I had help. After a bit I heard the door open and after it opened I had lots of help. As we worked the things in the forest sang to us and the ground pulsed with life. I love this place. I knew it once I had seen it and every dream only made me love it more. When I was ready I would go through that door in the Guest House and I would see, I would see…everything.

This was now my home.

My forever place.

Forever and always.

Grieve – A Story

This is a rough story I just wrote. It feels awkward in parts and needs a lot more polish I’d wager but I wanted to share it. Heck, if it ever IS evened out then maybe I can do something else with it. For now, here’s a rough version of a dark little tale. 

Grieve

A mother shouldn’t have to bury her baby.

It’s unthinkable.

It’s unbearable.

It’s against God and all His angels.

Yet…

This is God’s will.
This is God’s plan.

Who am I to deny it?

I have lost two beautiful stars to the heavens, two perfect sunbeams to the darkness, and have had two of my own sent where I cannot follow. It is soul crushing. Every day I can feel the weight of them in my arms still, can feel them in my belly, even hearing their cries in the night as I am asleep. They speak to me and through my veil of tears I can still see them lying there in bed beside me, holding hands with oen another as they smile at me. At least they are together in Heaven. At least there is that small solace. At least there is that small mercy. Even if it does mean I am all alone.

After Daniel died the women at work and in church fawned over me, bringing me dinner, offering to come sit with me at lunch or at night, and actually caring, genuinely caring about me and my well-being – the first time I had had that since I was a little girl. As a child I was invisible. The third child of five. The middle child of parents who worked multiple jobs and who were too busy with the others to notice me. I wasn’t the first, I wasn’t the last, I was just stuck in the middle. Oh, they asked how my day was, they asked how I was, and they made the efforts like good parents but they weren’t. They weren’t. They didn’t care about me. It was an act. It was their job. They did it because they had to and I hated them for that. I saw how they laughed with my brothers and sisters, how they joked, how they played while I sat alone, refusing to be pitied and pandered to. All I wanted in the world was all of their attention and I would never have it. Never. It wasn’t until Robbie, the youngest of us, drowned in the pond behind the house that they started to care. I had been with him at the end and they knew how terrible it had been for me to watch as he struggled before the waters took and they told me they loved me and that Robbie had loved me. I had been helpless when he drowned. I had never learned to swim and so there was nothing I could do to save him. Nothing. All I could do was watch over the course of those twenty minutes as he ran out of energy and finally lost the fight and sunk below the surface. There was nothing I could do. Afterwards I ran and got Anne, the oldest of us, and she swam out to get Robbie but it was too late. He was gone. He was gone and all of a sudden my parents saw me. My family saw me. They all saw me and they all loved me. They all loved me until Anne started asking questions. They loved me until something else took their attention away.

It was the same thing at work. When I was pregnant everyone cared, everyone loved me, and everyone wanted to know how I was. I was just an abandoned woman, left by the father of the child, all alone in the world. When Daniel was born though the focus moved to him and I was forgotten again.

‘How is Danny?’

‘How is the baby?’

‘How is that pretty boy of yours?’

That was all I heard. I wasn’t asked how I was. I wasn’t asked how I found time to sleep. I wasn’t asked about who watched Daniel when I was at work. No one cared about me anymore. Everything was about Daniel. The world only gave a damn for him. Within months I came to hate him. I would stand over him and watch him sleep and think about how I wish he’d just roll over and suffocate himself or maybe he could just fall out of the crib and…and I would cry myself to sleep thinking about these things. What sort of mother was I to think all of these black thoughts? I loved my baby. I loved my Daniel. He was my world. I would never hurt him. Then one night he was taken away from me. Somehow he had gotten one of his baby spoons in the crib with him and he must have been playing with it and he choked to death on it while I was asleep. I found him the next morning and he was cold and blue. The world spun, the floor fell away, and I was all alone again with no one to love me.

Like saints my congregation descended to care for me and look after me and my co-workers too suddenly remembered my name and helped me through that difficult time. For two months I was the center of attention and it felt wonderful. It was like laying in warm Spring sunshine. People looked out for me, cooked for me, asked me to go out with them for lunch and dinner. I was never alone. I had friends. It lasted until a girl caught pregnant at work and a teenager at the church succumbed to cancer and then my loss wasn’t so great any longer. My pain wasn’t as important any longer. I wasn’t alone though, no, I had Daniel with me, singing to me, speaking to me, cooing to me when I would cry myself to sleep. He knew it wasn’t my fault he had died and he forgave me. He forgave me. But Daniel didn’t want me to be alone. God didn’t want me to be alone. He wanted me to have someone that would love me. Someone that had to love me. Daniel told me God had another angel put aside for me, another angel to love me and only me and I just had to do the work to make that miracle come true.

I don’t remember Daniel’s father’s name. I don’t remember Angela’s father’s name either. It doesn’t matter though because they were merely vessels that carried the seeds that I was to bear. It took several tries with brutish, drunken man but it was worth it because in the end I was given my Angela and with Angela came the attention and love once more but with her birth that attention shifted again. It was the same cycle I had been in since Robbie’s death, only with Robbie there were questions, so many questions, so many that I ran away to escape them and never went back. They wanted to know what had happened, why I had waited so long, why his pockets had been full of rocks, questions and questions and questions and so I ran away, far enough away that they’d never find me. They didn’t know what it had been like. They didn’t understand and they never would. I thought things would be different with Angela, different than it had been with Daniel but I was wrong. With Angela it was just her, her, her, that’s all the people cared about. It was even worse than it had been with Daniel.

She was an angel.

I was just shit.

My anger came sooner with Angela, and was fiercer and while she slept I would put things over her face, over her mouth just to see what it felt like, not meaning to do anything but wanting to see what it felt like. I didn’t get the sick feeling I did when I did the same things to Daniel, no, I didn’t feel guilt, I just felt cold. I couldn’t stand the guilt, even if Daniel had forgiven me, but I could stand the cold. I was used to the cold.

Angela died nine months after she was born, almost to the day. She drowned, like my brother Robbie. I had stepped away from the wash basin to check on our dinner and when I got back she was face down under the water. I tried but couldn’t save her. It was too late. The police came again, as they had with Daniel, and this time they clucked their tongues at me and asked me so many questions that my brain started to hurt and my skin got hot but they finally left and that was that. I was negligent but it was an accident. Of course it was an accident. How could I kill my child? Only a monster would murder a child.

Work and the church were not as sympathetic this time and some people actually acted as if I had been at fault in her death. Some said I shouldn’t have left her side, and that I should have known better, and that I should have had her taken away. What did they know about me? What did they know about my life? I cared for Angela, I loved her, I took care of her. I was her MOTHER. No one could take her away. Oh how the hens clucked though and what gentle talk there was was centered on her, on poor Angela and how she had died too young. How sad it was that this innocent had been taken by death. No one cared about me or my loss. No one cared about what I was going through. No one bothered to check on my condition.

I hate them all.

I could not hate Angela any longer though, no, my hate was gone and in its place was cold emptiness. A desperate chasm of loneliness. Where was my love? But they were still with me, my children. My babies came and spoke to me at night, and they sang to me, and they told me they forgave me and loved me, and that they wanted me to be happy. They told me that God was good. God was love. God had a plan. My tears stopped and I listened intently to my children as they whispered to me from the darkness that God had set aside another angel for me and that this time, this time the love I felt wouldn’t fade, the attention I wanted wouldn’t disappear, and that this time, this time things would be ok.

God was good.

Love’s seed was waiting for me.

All I needed to do was the work.

I got out of bed and dressed, wanting to get to work as quickly was possible. Love may be patient but I was not. I am just not a patient woman. It’s my one flaw. Besides, this was God’s plan for me so who was I to deny it?

Who am I?

WHEN YOU WERE HERE – story

WHEN YOU WERE HERE

I remember your smell.

I can’t say what it was, it was, I don’t know, it was cigarettes and hair spray and perfume and, and sex, was it sex, beneath all of it, beneath all of it and hidden in those layers?

Was it sex?

I think of the men you would go out with, the carousel of faces I could never keep up with. Dan. Don. Doug. Dave. I think sometimes that you would choose them for their names as much as anything else, the game too exciting, the chase too fun, and all of it such grand theater just for me.

I want to think of the good times, the sweet times, and the times when you would wave to me from the swings. How you cried the first month you went to Kindergarten. How you would take money from my purse when you thought I wasn’t paying enough attention to you, begging for me to hurt you, to teach you another lesson and giving me the act, the tears, the crying, all while you hummed to yourself as I spanked you.

It’s all a game.

That’s what you told me in the note.

Everything’s a game…and I refuse to keep playing.

And I think of all the times we spent together in your bed, when I would read to you, or I would come home from work crying and you would console me or how when Na-Na died we slept together in your bed and fell asleep telling stories to one another about her – both of us having pieces of her the other didn’t. Maybe it was then that I realized it – that all we are, that all life is is a giant puzzle and no one ever has all the pieces. We spend our lives trying to re-claim our own pieces and trying to find enough pieces of the people around us to know whether they mean us harm or not.

Christ, is it all a game?

All of it?

All those years?

All those moments?

I spent so many years in the bottom of a bottle while you raised yourself and watched me from atop your tower. I think you were fifteen when I stopped being your mother and was simply the woman who gave birth to you. When you stopped letting me up into the tower with you. Once upon a time it had been the two of us, the both of us up there and there were No Boys Allowed and it was good. It was good, wasn’t it?

Yeah, I think it was.

I think it was.

But all of it, the memories, the moments, all of that time and it ends in a note written on the back of a fast food receipt. All I could do was put your birthday cake on the kitchen counter and go into your room and sit there on the floor and wait for the darkness to close in.

Our lives become graveyards, that’s what I found out when your dad died. The older we get the bigger the graveyard gets until you reach a point when all that remains is one grave and it’s yours and sometimes you fight it and sometimes, well, sometimes you don’t fight it as hard. Sometimes it’s just an extension of the darkness you have already been living in.

There is so much, so much I needed to say, so much you deserved to hear. You deserved a full time mother and not a part time drunk. You deserved a mom and not a friend. You deserved the best of me and not the leftovers of a string of terrible men. I let myself become wreckage and left you alone.

I think the police gave up looking after the first week. You were seventeen, pretty, and we hadn’t gotten along for years. It was bound to happen one of them told me. I stopped looking for you after the third month. You would come home when you were ready. I stopped calling the hospitals after six months. Time starts to become a melting ice cream cone and as hard as you try you just can’t stop the melting, and pretty soon all that is left is a mess.

Oh god sweetie, where did you go?

Was it so bad?

Was I so bad?

But there’s only darkness now and an empty house where your smell still lingers and where your pictures still hang. I wish you’d become an artist. Or a clerk. Or a stripper. Or anything. Anything but gone.

I saw on the news that they found a girl in the bay on the edge of the city, a girl not much out of her teens with blonde hair and no clothes on. I am waiting by the phone now.

I know it’s time for you to finally come home.

 

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