This list is mostly for my own self reference, so I can come back and remind myself and hold myself accountable. I find I do...
At Leakycon we don’t say “I love you” we say “WE’RE WIZARDS WE’LL PARTY FOREVER TURN AROUND BRIGHT EYES HARRY I’M COMING HOME I...
We were waiting in line to go on a water slide when he first told me he wanted to marry me. We’d been in the water for hours, wrinkly like we’d been together for sixty-five years. His eyes were wide as my bikini clung to my skin, like he hadn’t seen me in much less before, when he said those words: “I’m going to marry you someday.”
I wanted to run away so fast that the lifeguard blew his whistle. We were only seventeen. That’s not the kind of thing you can say to a girl who loves you. That’s not the kind of thing that can be put back.
I smiled, but I’m not sure it made its way to my eyes. I didn’t want to go on the slide anymore. My stomach was already flopping around in my abdomen.
As you can see, for my post today, I wrote a little play. I didn’t know how else to post it except in screenshots. If you’re interested, the read more link below will whisk you away to the rest of it. (It’s really short, promise.)
You tell me that you’ve never been in love, not really, and I feel an overwhelming sadness for you that makes me want to take you into my arms and kiss you until you can’t breathe, to bring you to an Italian restaurant and refuse to let you pay the check, to write you poems and songs and letters. I want to make you fall in love with me, just so you could feel the warmth it brings. But that’s not fair to you. I’m not one you would want to love.
I think how easy it must be, to have never been in love, to not have little snippets of yourself scattered all over, and to not have little ghosts of others inside you. And it must be beautiful, to be waiting patiently to finally be swept off your feet, to fall in love correctly, in perfect form.
But I couldn’t give up the feeling of intertwined hands, the blues and browns and greens of their eyes. They are a part of me now, as I am a part of them, and I know what it’s like to be in love.
Before I can stop myself, I lean forward and kiss you.
It takes about three and a half hours to get to Chicago by car, if traffic is good and you can manage to avoid too many stops. I had planned on us getting there around 6:30 after adding in some cushion, and had even made a dinner reservation.
However, I soon realized: Dee was a stopper, and I wasn’t very good at saying no to her.
In the first hundred miles, we’d somehow managed to stop four times. At a Lion’s Den Adult Superstore, not because she was in the market for anything they sold, but to laugh at the terrible porno titles and the silicone dicks, and ending up feeling a bit morose for the rag tag men we met there. At two gas stations to use the rest room and buy soft drinks, where we also ended up picking up gummy worms and novelty lighters and four packs of playing cards. And at a mom and pop style diner, simply because they had a billboard on the side of the highway saying that they had the World’s Greatest Coconut Cream Pie, and she insisted we needed to try it. (Although I doubt it was the World’s Greatest, I’ll admit, it was pretty good.)
Needless to say, we weren’t making very good time.
Dee sat beside me in the passenger seat, her knees up against her chest, hands fiddling with the radio. She had to keep doing this pretty consistently, as we kept losing the signals as we moved forward, and she was fairly picky. At the moment, she seemed to have found a station that played entirely 80’s hair metal. She turned and stuck out her tongue at me and screwed up her eyes, then danced around in her seat, somehow making it look natural, her long curly hair whipping around her face as though caught in the wind. I laughed good-naturedly, bobbing my head as best I could while driving.
It was all a bit awkward, because I didn’t even know Dee that well. I had a crush on her, but in the way that you like people you barely know, in an afar, a-little-creepy sort of way. They do cute things, they have nice faces, but you don’t know enough about them to be sure whether you’d have real feelings or compatibility.
We’d been in a few classes together, and had finally gotten partnered up for a project, which had allowed me to get her number, which had allowed me to begin texting her. We’d just been texting about little things, and somehow I let slip that I’d never had Chicago-style pizza. Before I knew it, I’d somehow agreed to a road trip to procure some the next day. I was having a nice time, but if we didn’t hurry, we’d miss our reservation at the pizza place, which was the whole reason we were going, and who knew if we’d be able to get another one.
“A scenic overlook!” Dee yelled in excitement, pointing out the window at a sign that said that one was coming up in two miles.
“Dee…,” I said, trying to keep annoyance out of my tone, but she must have heard it, because she wilted, just a bit. I felt bad. I was all for adventures, I really was, but it was almost seven already.
“I know, I know. Just one more. Promise,” she said, giving me that pouty lip that girls always do. “I love the crap out of these things.”
I knew I should have kept going, but I found myself saying, “Okay, we’ll pull off quick.”
She grinned at me, extending a hand to squeeze my shoulder. It was a bit of an odd gesture, and I wasn’t sure what she meant by it, but it made me grin back with a sincerity I wasn’t expecting. I saw the light that I’d brought to her eyes, and though it was stupid, I realized that I would do pretty much anything I could to put it there.
We got off at the exit, stretching as we got out of the car, even though really, it hadn’t been too long since we’d gotten out. She started walking in the direction of the scene we were supposed to be overlooking, and when I didn’t follow her for a second, she reached out like she was going to grab my hand, but then balked, like she realized that this wasn’t acceptable, that the intimacy wasn’t there. There was a pause, and in it, I wished she had just grabbed it. “Come on,” she said, grabbing my shirt sleeve, and pulled me on.
The view wasn’t much to look at, which I’d been expecting. We were just in Illinois, after all. There were some trees and a lake, and it was nice, but it would never find a picture on a postcard or anything. I glanced over at Dee, expecting to see indifference, but found only awe. “It’s beautiful,” she said, her jaw a little slack.
I wasn’t sure what she saw, but it was obviously different from what I did. I tried inching closer to her, to see if the angle changed anything, but it was the same. “Why do you like these things so much, Dee?”
She looked at me, seeming to ponder this. “They’re a break in the monotony, I guess. From the pavement and the yellow lines and all the stupid drivers. They’re a chance to breathe? To step out.” She paused. “The stops are the most interesting part of the journey, anyway. They’re what you tell everyone about. They’re what make stories.”
I instantly regretted being annoyed with her about stopping, if it meant so much to her, and I realized she was right about our little detours. The important part of today had been laughing over coconut cream pie, holding up ridiculously sized phalluses, competing over who could eat the most gummy worms in two minutes. I hadn’t tried the pizza yet, but I knew it wouldn’t compare, wasn’t what I would remember.
We stood for a few minutes, and I stared at the view, really looked at it. I saw the way the leaves on the trees were budding, the light that reflected off the lake, the ducks swimming around in its water. I like to think that, after I stared at it for a few minutes, I saw a fragment of what she was seeing, a sliver of the beauty. I looked over at her, seeing the tranquility of her face, the way that the setting sun added pink smudges to her dark eyes. “Thank you for making me stop,” I said to her, meaning it sincerely.
And before I knew it, her hand was slipping into mine.
I never believed in ghosts until I met him, until he showed me the way the pantry door opened by itself, the orbs he insisted I’d missed because I’d chosen the wrong moment to blink.
I suppose I didn’t believe in them, but I humored him, and that’s almost the same thing.
If he thought there was a spirit about, he would call out, asking its name like an old friend. I would kiss him, closing his lips, because I didn’t want to know if they would answer.
Ghosts float around, trying to make an impact on the natural world but always coming up short. They strive to be noticed, to be heard, by someone, anyone. They are shadows of their former selves, not realizing that their state of matter ever changed.
I realized he was so fascinated with ghosts because he was one of them.
(Photo by my super talented friend Ella.)
I remember when Adeline was still here, when her house smelled of saltwater taffy and the leather of her riding saddle. Her hair, more raspberry blonde than strawberry, whipped through the wind as she stood at the top of the hill we loved to climb in mid-July, when it was covered in little blue flowers. We’d stay up there all day and fall asleep on a blanket in the dewy grass after reading Hemingway or Woolf by the light of a jar of fireflies.
Sometimes our hands would touch, or she’d kiss my cheek, or we’d lay almost overlapping looking at the stars. I realize now I lived for those times, for the flush on my cheeks before she moved away. I loved her before I knew what love was.
Of course, it’s easy to remember things through a beautiful haze that wasn’t there. I’ve blocked out the boys she’d sometimes bring up to the hill, the way she’d drag them into the forest and leave me to read alone. I’d forgotten the scars I saw when she wore a two-piece bathing suit, between when she uncrossed her arms from her stomach and when she made the plunge into the water.
I can even forget the towel bar, the yellow bruises on her neck that couldn’t quite be covered with makeup, the blue flowers I insisted on putting in her hands, if I drink enough cheap wine and am far enough away from that town, that hill, that night. I can forget that I never told her that I loved her, that maybe if she felt loved, she would have stayed.
I can sometimes forget, but I’ll never stop remembering.
It’s so cold outside that I can see my breath. I raise my face towards the sky, letting out all of the air in my lungs, pretending I’m a dragon or a chain smoker. I’ve been outside for probably a little over an hour. Maybe soon they’d let us inside, where I’d at least have some artificial light to keep me company.
I hear someone say “hey,” but assume it isn’t addressed to me until I feel a single finger tap my shoulder. It’s attached to a guy about my age, wearing a coat that practically devours him in its puffiness.
“Do you not have any gloves?” he asks, looking down at my hands, bundled up tightly in the ends of my sweatshirt sleeves.
I shake my head, and he unzips one of his jacket’s many pockets and tosses me a pair. I flash him a smile; he beams back.
“I’m Shelby,” I say. “I didn’t know we’d be outside.”
“Oh, you’re a newbie?” he asks, teasing. I nod. “Yeah, they always make us wait outside here. It’s probably masochistic that I keep coming back, but they have the best deals. Oh, and I’m Mark.”
“You come here every year?”
“Yeah, and usually hit up a couple of other places, too. I would go through hell for cheap electronics.” He sees the unpleasant look on my face. “What?”
“I hate Black Friday. I wouldn’t be here, but my mom got sick and begged me to get an Xbox for my brother.”
“Ah. Are you just here for the Xbox?”
I tell him I’m not; I’m probably getting an iPod for my mom too. He’s getting things in the same departments, but he says they’re on opposite ends of the store. He lays out a plan, sending me to the video games and him to the Apple products, to better the chances of getting what we came for.
The doors open, and I shoot up from the sidewalk. Once we’re inside, we part ways, quickly maneuvering through the crowd. I grab my Xbox and Mark’s Wii, and sprint away from the rack before I get trampled.
It takes me a while to locate him again in the throngs of people, all shoving elbows and angry shouts, but his coat is hard to miss, and we’re in and out within twenty minutes.
“Well that was relatively painless,” I say, and mean it.
“I’m glad your Black Friday experience wasn’t completely traumatic,” he says. “I have to get to another store, but….” He pulls a Sharpie from his pocket, takes my hand, and writes his number on my wrist. “Call me, okay? We can hang out somewhere that’s not twenty degrees or teeming with soccer moms.”
“Deal,” I say. He squeezes my hand—I didn’t realize he was still holding it—before turning around and walking to his car. I walk to mine as well, a spring in my step despite it being five a.m.
Maybe Black Friday’s not so bad after all.
She looked at me with those warm brown eyes, the color of hot chocolate when I dump in five or six scoops of powder instead of two. Her lips quivered, the way they did she was cold, or in this case, lonely. They probably no longer tasted like her cinnamon lip gloss, but like vodka and menthol cigarette smoke and the saliva of another boy, and when I thought of her tasting like that, I couldn’t even look at her.
That night, I felt like destroying something beautiful. I wanted to yell at her until her mascara smeared down her cheeks; I wanted to make her feel the ice that was paralyzing my chest. Because one lapse in judgment, ten seconds, could undo months of forehead kisses and stuffed animals won at theme parks and the things done sneakily under bedsheets.
But in the end, when she started crying and my voice felt hoarse, I didn’t feel powerful. I just felt emptier than when I’d started, and like a dick to boot. I could barely hear her apologies and pleas through my pulse pounding in my ears.
Finally, I got up off of her bed and simply walked out the door. I didn’t grab my favorite sweatshirt or my Kickass DVD or even the ring with the little diamond in it that I’d saved up all summer to get her. Those things would always make me think of her anyways, and they’d probably end up in my trash can after a week or two.
We hadn’t been friends before we started dating, so I got the luxury of not even considering being friends after. She left me a couple of voicemails and text messages, but I deleted them without hearing what she had to say. Even though I was ignoring them, they stopped far before I felt they should have.
I saw her in the grocery store about two months after that night. By that point, my mind had made her into a monster, and a horrific one at that. But when I saw her, she was just wearing a hoodie and picking out breakfast cereals, and I couldn’t hate her. I just couldn’t.
When she noticed me, she gave me a small, sad smile with the left side of her lips, that seemed to say, “I’m still sorry I was a bitch and hurt you like that.” I shrugged my shoulders and gave her a little smile that I meant to say, “Hey, it happens. I’m ok.”
And then I walked towards the pop tarts, she walked towards the oatmeal, and I never saw her again.
Disclaimer: This is already published in two publications. Plagiarize it and die. (No but really, please please don’t plagiarize it.)
I’ve always been a bit of a nervous flyer, the little girl who spent her whole flight chewing the cinnamon gum her mom gave her to keep her ears from popping. She would stroke my hair and put a finger to my lips when I asked her how high up we were or why our seat cushions even needed to be floatation devices.
It wasn’t that I was an irrational child. I was just aware of my abysmal luck, even at that age. I knew that if one of the flights leaving the Baltimore airport were to crash on that day, it would be mine. So I snuck a rabbit’s foot in a pair of my socks when my mom wasn’t looking, and said a few hail mary’s before take off and landing. Not because I thought they would help, but because they sure couldn’t hurt.
At twenty years old, I’m still a bit jittery getting on airplanes. I have to drink two black coffees before even thinking about boarding, and I always think about using the fake ID I never use to get one of those outrageously priced mini bottles of white wine. I try not to replay the pilot of LOST in my head over and over, and I try not to count the layers (probably just plastic, insulation, glass, and metal) between me and certain death.
But, after we’re over the Atlantic Ocean, when the black water turns into the welcoming lights of cities and town, I’m glad I got on the plane. There’s no better feeling than trying to figure out which pinprick of light belongs to his house; no better feeling than knowing he’ll be waiting in front of the baggage claim with a sign that says my name; no better feeling than being wrapped up in his arms after nothing but letters and Skype calls for four months.
He makes me feel safe, even when I’m 30,000 feet above the ground.
In my experience, your soulmate is the person who makes you into who you’re supposed to be. The job of a “soulmate” is not an easy one. At times it means holding your beloved while they cry their eyes out, and sometimes it means pushing them so hard that they cry. But it always means being there, willing to lend your ears and your hands at a moment’s notice. It always means putting their wants, their hopes, their dreams before your own. And, most importantly, it means tidying your heart, cleaning out all of the cobwebs and dust bunnies, all of the cracks and exs and fears and insecurities, and making a space for them in it for them, one that they can crawl into when the world is too much to bear.
Though I am only nineteen, I have found my soulmate, and she has found me. You’d think we would have been thrilled and danced off into the sunset—but it’s not that easy. It’s never been that easy for us, and it never will be. There is never a sunset; only a storm.
The love story you’re about to read is admittedly just that, but it is in no way conventional. It’s not routine or cliché. But it is real and true and raw. It will make people angry, furious even, to the point that some will spit and protest and holler and cuss, but, to be clear, that was never the intention.
Sometimes, love sneaks up on you, covers your eyes and waits months to uncover them and whisper its name. But at others, it smacks you in the face and scares the (expletive) out of you before showing you its tender side. It’s worth it in the end, but some of the stings—the stares, the whispers, the taunts—remain. If our love were weaker, it wouldn’t have endured it.
Love comes in different forms as well. I ask you to keep your mind open about love and its subtleties. Love is not only found in mothers and children and boys and girls. It can be different, scandalous.
This is the case for Kyra and me.
The world didn’t end exactly how we expected it to. World War III wasn’t fought against an alien race or an army of zombies. It wasn’t even fought between different countries. It was fought against our next door neighbors, our classmates, our coworkers—and we blew them out of the water.
Some say they were evil, a punishment for the world’s sins. A religion was formed, calling itself ________, whose main goal was to destroy these people as quickly as possible.
The other group, made up of hippies, pacifists and weaklings, believed that these people were unlucky and still deserved the gifts of human rights. They called the freaks The Unfortunates. Unfortunate my (expletive).
Before long, the fear eclipsed the “compassion,” and the political party that sided with the ___________ won a vast majority of the seats of power.
Behind closed doors, the President, his cabinet and the CIA hatched a plan for elimination. They arranged a conference for people with powers that would look as though it had come from underground, its location in New York City. It was known that this plan would result in a huge loss of innocent American life, but there was no way to avoid the matter.
On October 17th, 2035, the United States did something it had never even fathomed: it bombed three of its own cities. New York City, Salt Lake City and Small Town, USA were completely wiped off the map. Five hundred thousand American citizens and fifteen thousand monsters were killed. The citizens did a great service to their country and, well, as for the freaks, the general consensus was, good riddance.
It’s been about three hundred years since then, and those three cities are still completely uninhabitable. The CIA claims to have found all of the stragglers who didn’t attend the conference at least one hundred years ago. But there are always rumors and omnipresent whispers.
Whenever a suicide bombing occurs at a college, everyone secretly wonders if it’s them, fighting back. When planes crash, cynics wonder if a strong magnet brought them down.
Lately, whispers have turned from news stories to panic. Concrete proof is elusive, but we’re all afraid.
After what we did to them, what will these people, teeming with super powers, do to us? How will we be punished?
(This is a quick summary of the novel I’m working on for NaNoWriMo. Let me know what you think?)