The Mouse

She moves in furtive jolts, sniffs her food, her hands. Occasionally, she puts a palm to her heart, to feel or calm its beating. She draws in breath slowly, deeply, irregularly. Sometimes, she forgets to do it, and gasps.

Cry, cry. Release. Repeat. Will the tears cleanse like an astringent? Chap my cheeks, bite my lids ‘til they puff, puff up like chastised children.

Swollened, rawed. Cleansed.

Cry, cry, cleanse.

Her plying fingers have made a desperate mess of her hair. Her makeup-less face is taut; her expression: exhaustion. Sentience is struggle.

New. Renew.

Cells slough off. They do as they’re told. As they’re programed. Replaced and remade, they’re copies now. Maybe the memories they hold will flicker into dimness, each time a little more.

Her days dawn with the promise of peril, pain. The threat is hard to see, a chameleon. She saw it once, clearly, and it never did look safe.

New memories. New peace. New understanding.

Please, God/Gods/Goddess. Please, Science. Please, Infinity. Please, Baby.

She carries it inside of her now. Pixy heart pumps its familiar rhythm. She skitters and frets. She seeks a way to release it. Safely, permanently, absolutely. Before it destroys her.

Eulogy

I left a man I love,
Because I love him.

And now I’ll watch him complete his happiness without me.
I’ll watch him fall in love,
Again.

I’ll watch that smile, those lips, those eyes,
Come alive for someone else.

That smile, those lips, those eyes,
Resurrected in the children he’ll have with her,
Their features blended like ours might have been.

The names we picked un-personed,
Orphaned phantoms.

Solomon, Asher, Quincy, Wren.

I loved you too,
From an impossible distance.

You lived with the rest of a vision:

Of a hospital room, our tired hearts in sync, and his lips upon my cheek.
Of family counsels, midnight fevers, and doctors’ notes.
Of furnished rooms, dinners at six, and summer vacations.
Of graying hair, traditions, and realized dreams.
Of a hospital room, our tired hearts in sync, and my lips upon his cheek.

A vision abandoned, traded for uncertainty.

But he’s happy, he’s smiling, he’s hopeful,
And from an impossible distance,

I’ll try to be happy too.

Dear You

Dear You,

I’m terrified that you don’t exist. I can’t even imagine you, because when I do, I still see him. I transpose your face with his, but it shifts into his too and confuses me. There’s two of him. And both are wrong.

I gave one up, finally, after holding on with a fear-grip for far too long, with one hand. The other was already teasing the thought of him.

This one will never be mine to give up. Why does that hurt? Because without him there will be no one. And there has never been no one.

That’s where you’re supposed to come in, if you’re there. If you’re anywhere. But One Day is a joke. Somewhere is a lie. Until you exist, you don’t. Until you love me, you never will. You’re ethereal and frightening; and too perfect to be real. I hate you for that. I’m terrified that you don’t exist, but I hope I never meet you.

B

I Thought Some Things About Writing And Then Wrote About Them

Here is the resulting blog post:

If you’re a creative writer like me who hopes to become a real-life, no-joke published author one day, you probably started writing recreationally at a young age. You wrote either for the escape, to live vicariously through a character for a time, for the fun of it, because somebody once said you were good at it, to express something that needed expressing, or finally because you couldn’t help yourself. Or all of the above.

And in the midst of your mad scribblings/typing, someone–a “well” meaning parent, guidance counselor, or relative–may have told you that you should really consider the odds that you will actually get published one day, and then maybe you should go paint your nails or experience sunlight or some such nonsense. Presumably, the intent of these people is to administer a healthy dose of reality. You know, to protect you from the pain of certain failure. Or maybe they’re all simply sadists who enjoy putting out the budding flames of ambition in the blind and impetuous young.

“Curse those youths and their dreamy dreams!” they mutter as they lumber away, dusting off their hands of a job well done. And while they’re off somewhere nursing the festering voids that once housed their own stupid dreams, you’re blinking like a kid who had been licking a popsicle and then, suddenly, wasn’t. Your stupid uncle swiped it out of your hands.

Yeah, my personal naysayer was my uncle, may his dreams rest in peace.

Here’s how I rallied: I thought about the odds a bit and then realized that there was only one way the odds would be absolutely and totally against me–if I never even tried. That was my first thought. My second thought was this: I don’t think I could stop writing my silly little stories even if I knew there was no chance in a frost-bitten hell that I’d get published.

When I’ve fleshed out a character and put them on a path, I have to plot out that path, and after that, I have to write out their journey, and if I don’t, I’m haunted. Those characters blur around me like ghosts, but without the creepiness. They remind me that their stories are incomplete, and if I don’t write said stories, I will begin to hate myself, more and more each day that I don’t write, until that hate dribbles over the top of my hate cup and starts attacking my surroundings, including anyone within a 10 foot radius of me.

That’s why this article about what it takes to get published made me feel all warmish inside. You should read it. And after you do, you should write some stuff.

Yay, words!