His Delicate Secrets

shoes

The first time I heard about him, I had a feeling I would fall in love with him. They told me he was 5 1/2, and seemed very bright, although he had never spoken a word.

The day I finally met him, I wore the shirt with the buildings all over it. They told me that he liked to build things, and I hoped it would help him to see me as a friend. I knew he had trust issues. I would, too, if I had been bounced around from home to home for so many years.

He looked at me with serious eyes as I walked toward the table where he was eating. “Peanut butter and jelly, huh?” I asked, smiling. “I like mine with strawberry jam, cut diagonal with a glass of milk.”

I could see him considering this, looking at his own grape-jellied sandwich that had not been cut in any way. He looked up at me, quickly, and I could see the question in his eyes.

“I like grape jelly, too,” I said, softly. “Maybe I can bring one with strawberry jam tomorrow, and we can both share.”

He smiled, so fast I almost missed it, before he stood and quickly walked away.

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Salt of The Earth

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In his rearview mirror, the cab driver saw the girl pull a handful of tiny blue packages out of her orange backpack. He heard crinkling as she tore one open, and realized by the smell that they were peanuts. Lots of little airline bags of peanuts. She took one peanut at a time and nibbled it slowly, like she was really considering the taste and texture of each one. More likely, he thought, she was rationing them.

Jaheed had been driving his cab for long enough to recognize a kid who wasn’t just on her way home from school, or taking a trip to visit grandma. No, this girl wasn’t on her way to anywhere. She was just on her way away from something, or someone.

Feeling a tinge of pity for her, Jaheed spoke. “I have an extra bottle of water if you want it. Hasn’t even been opened yet.”

The girl looked up, hope flashing across her young face, before quickly looking back down. She had learned that accepting help meant you might be obligated to someone, and she couldn’t afford that kind of risk. “It’s ok,” she said softly. “You keep it.”

Jaheed picked the bottle up and passed it back to her anyway. “No, really, it’s yours. Peanuts always make me thirsty.”

For a second, the girl smiled as she met his eyes in the rearview. She saw only kindness before she reached tentatively for the bottle and muttered a quiet thank you. Then she drank like she hadn’t had water in days.

This is an installment in a series of short stories, as I play with the wonderful world of fiction.

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A Long Way Down

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It’s really only terrifying until you let yourself tumble over the edge. One minute, there’s cold concrete under you, and you tip forward until suddenly there’s nothing but air. Up until that moment, it’s all fear and nerves, panic and nausea. But once your body is weightless, surrounded by wind and sky, it’s actually exhilarating. Like being in the ocean and feeling your body both moving in and moved by a force larger than you could hope to name.

I open my hands wide, feeling the air force its way between my fingers, and I wiggle each one in turn. I wish I had thought to take off my shoes and socks. I bet this would feel great on my toes.

I feel thankful for this sense of calm and joy that is washing over me. You hear stories of people who do something like this, or just try to do something like this, only to feel waves of regret. I’ve had enough years of regret already. My life is a book filled with page after page of bad decisions, things and people so lost to me that there’s no chance of return. This choice is the one that will finally set me free.

The atrium windows are open as I fall past the 28th floor, and I hear the phone ringing for a quick second before the sound is sucked away with the air above me. I know the receptionist will answer it in that same warm but hurried voice I’ve heard so many times.

Funny, in all these years, it never occurred to me to walk down and say hello. Would only have been fair, as many times as she said hello to me. Gloria? No. Gladys? I should know this. Why don’t I know this? Do I really take people for granted so easily? All this time, and I’ve just been one more asshole in a grey suit.

I look back up to those windows and send up a pitiful prayer that I survive the fall, just long enough to tell one last person that I appreciate her. That she matters.

This is an installment in a series of short stories, as I play with the wonderful world of fiction.
Like what you read? Profess your love and follow me to see more!

Skin Deep

woman's back photo
He had a scar across his ribcage, thick and raised. She noticed it the first time he took his shirt off, and she quickly looked away. It wasn’t that she was bothered by it, just that she knew scars could stand for lives people would rather forget.
It had been months now, and she could sense that he was expecting her to ask about it, or at least to mention it. But they couldn’t have that conversation. She had had it before, and it always turned to her own body, her own scars.
She had decided years ago to hold that secret in her heart. Hold it there until it eventually faded to a memory that she could pretend was a dream, or a story from a book she once read. No matter how he got his scar, he wouldn’t be able to accept how she got hers, or why there were so many of them.
This is the first installment of a series of short stories, as I play with the wonderful world of fiction.
Like what you read? Profess your love and follow me to see more!

Magical Wolves and Colossal D-Bags

A billion years ago, I lived in the San Francisco Bay Area, and found myself at a quirky little party in a quirky little neighborhood on New Year’s Eve. I don’t really remember much specifically about the party, other than it was the first home I had been to where they had taken to hanging their bikes on the ceiling to save space.

Oh, and there was that guy who told the magical wolf story.

I’m not sure how I ended up chatting with this guy, but we were sitting on the floor with one other guy, having some beers, and mentally counting down the minutes until we could eat the cupcakes that we had been told repeatedly we may not eat until midnight.

So this guy starts talking about a book he wants to write, or maybe has already started writing, about a family of magical wolves. He had asked if I wanted to hear about it, and I said sure, and off he went. He was clearly really into this wolf story, and I could see how excited he was to be telling us about it. I don’t know a lot about wolves, or magic, or magical wolves, but I tried hard to follow his meandering plot line, nodding where appropriate and asking questions to help keep myself on track.

We were maybe 3 or 4 minutes into his talking about the book when the other guy Just stood up and walked away without saying a word. Maybe he had a terrifying encounter with magical wolves a few years back, and the story was making his PTSD kick in. Maybe, against his friend’s advice, he had eaten the week-old oysters in their fridge before coming to the party, and his stomach was performing a series of unfortunate events. Maybe the mention of the magical wolf mom made him think “Hey, it’s New Year’s Eve. I should go give my mom a call!”

Any of these are totally plausible reasons for his sudden departure, but I have a feeling he got up and left because he was just a colossal douchbag. The kind of douchebag who does the mental math, realizes the story he’s listening to doesn’t involve keggers and the chick listening isn’t going to whip out her boobs anytime soon, so he might as well cut his losses and go off in search of a keg. Or some boobs. Or a magical keg with boobs. Maybe he could write a book about that.

I’m not going to say that I was personally particularly interested in a story about magical wolves. I also am not personally particularly interested in a story about the coming of age of a teenage wizard with an awesomely ridiculous facial scar, but half of the reading world would say that’s the coolest freaking story EVER. I get that not every person is interested in every story.

Here’s what I am interested in: I’m interested in people with passion. Enough passion about anything – wolves, wizards, widgets, or wallabies – to want to painstakingly create a storyline around that thing. Someone with enough passion to turn that story over and over in his mind each day, adding little notes to the margins and creating whole chapters when he sees that there’s a back-story that needs to be told as well. Someone with the kind of passion that compels him to corner a total stranger at a New Year’s Eve party and try to convey every last wolfy detail in all of its wolfy glory, on the off chance that that stranger might also get swept away in the whole wolfy wonder that is the story that is the passion that is his life. That kind of passion is magic in and of itself.

When you’re telling a story about magical wolves, or regular wolves, or something entirely non-wolf related, you’ll realize that there are a few basic kinds of people in this world:

1. People who listen, engage, and support.
2. People who pretend to listen, or at least graciously excuse themselves, because they want to seem polite.
3. People who just roll their eyes and walk away.

The thing is, you never know which kind of person you’re talking to until you start talking. Until you take the amazing leap of faith to start telling your own magical wolf story. It’s an almost revolutionary act of self-love and self-support to share your passion with others. And it totally sucks that sometimes those others are just going to be colossal d-bags.

I wonder where the book-writer is today. I wonder if he wrote that book, and is enjoying the feeling of accomplishment that comes from finishing a project one holds dear. Maybe he met a girl at a coffee shop, and told her about his work in progress, and she had tons of amazing magical wolfy ideas herself, and they found that in writing the book together, they also wrote the first chapter in their own personal love story. Or maybe he left that story half-finished and moved on to another passion, another project that made his heart scream “Yes!Yes!Yes! This is how you should invest your time!”

I love that this admittedly weird guy put so much focus and energy into telling a complete stranger a completely absurd story because he was just so in it. It’s an almost tangible thing when people are so passionate about something, and I can feel their excitement and energy just pushing at me, inviting me to feel it and get excited by it, too. And that’s awesome. So freaking awesome.

I feel sorry for the d-bags in stories like this. I feel sorry for them because they probably don’t have a lot of nurturing, supportive people around them, because nurturing supportive people generally don’t invest a lot of emotional energy into d-bags. But mostly I feel sorry for them because they get up and walk away from moments like this. They don’t feel the push of energy. They can’t feel or recognize it because they have never felt that push come from their own heart.

I wonder what that’s like, to not feel that kind of passion about anything real. To have your excitement and energy all wrapped up in tiny little things that just feel big because you make them big. I wonder what it’s like to feel so content with who you are and what you’ve done that you don’t want to do more, be more, create more. To think that the money you have and the things you own are the sum of your wealth. That’s gotta suck. And I just don’t think any amount of words about magical wolves could fill up a life that empty.