Living Life #26 "Do it."

Today is yours. No one can take that from you.

If you want to sleep in because your head hurts, then do it. If you want to sit and stare at the rain, do it. If you want to take a walk then just go, don’t come back till you have had your fill. If you want to pull all the books down from the shelves and build a fort to hide in, do it. If you want to do laundry and put extra fabric softener in, do it. If you want to let the dishes sit, then let them sit. And you can sit too.

No one knows how you feel but yourself. If today you are not right then that’s okay. Really, it is. One day you will feel right again. I promise. You have to have some bad to appreciate when it’s good.

So just remember.

Today is yours. No one can take that from you and that is the most magical thing of all.

Photo by Tonny Tran on Unsplash

Living Life #25 “The Thaw”

I remember my window where I couldn’t see outside. Frost had touched from corner to corner as if ghosts had been peaking in through the night as they passed by.

I remember my breath as it became visible before my face. Sighing was all I could do to get through the daze my mind had fallen into from seeing too many gray days.

I remember my hands rubbed raw red and numb. No matter how I clenched them or how long I kept on the mittens they rarely thawed.

I remember the moment when that all changed.

I look out the window and the sky isn’t gray but bright, ocean blue. As if the sea had somehow floated into the air, and the fish turned to clouds of fluffy white cotton.

I look at the grass where for what seemed like years there had only been slush. I can see the concrete of the street with the sun glinting off and rushing away the memory of the black ice that was once underneath.

And I look at the tulips, just starting to peak up from their perches. Purple, red, orange, and yellow. Colors of a sunrise peaking over the world. I had forgotten in the long days of winter what color looked like. Until now.

Spring has finally come, and now I am awake.

Photo by Anton Darius on Unsplash

Living Life #24 “Dame of Dust and Dirt”

It was a room with plenty pretty pink pens, bounties of billowing blue blankets, and a whopping of wrapping woozy wires webbed across the floor. The last time I saw the hardwood underneath was a long and distant time ago. In fact, it was around when last my sanity was also spotless and sanctimonious in space and time…. if I’m remembering correctly. A long and far time ago, indeed.

My fingers tap, tap, tapped against the table testing the threshold of tension and tears at my beck and call. It only made the dirt fly farther into the recesses of my small apartment space in lines of dust mites dancing in the mid morning light.

No. No. No.

I could do this no longer.

Vacuum and mop. A feather duster and cloth. Numbness of mind and too many worries bogging in kind. Pretty pink pens piling into the trash, billowing blue blankets stacked so tall they could crash, and the webbing wires, woozy and wrapped gathered in my hands and to the garbage they dash dash dashed.

Hours and hours, time needing to be lost to be found. The tiny apartment was at last bare and the stormy weather of my mind turned sunny and fair. Cinderella could hold no candle to see, cause I was my own prince and saving me.

When all was tidy and neat, this once princess of mess and disorder could finally sit write, and eat.

Photo by Volha Flaxeco on Unsplash

Living Life #23 “Smile”

I have only seen her frown once.

Granted, I have never seen her outside of work but when you work as many hours as I do with the same people day after day… you tend to notice things.

In the early morning, when the sky is still painted night and the air chilled with dew, whoever she greets on her way in she’ll flash a smile. It doesn’t matter if her eyelids are still a little droopy with sleep, or her sweet voice a little heavier as if coated in honey. No matter what, you’ll still see that smile.

At our weekly meeting we learn about new procedures, rules, or programs we need to know how to run. If she doesn’t understand she’ll raise her hand and ask her questions, always with a coy quirk in her lip. As if in apology for speaking, when in reality she is voicing the question in all our minds.

Casual meetings in the hallway with everyone’s coming and goings, when if you’re lucky enough to meet her eyes, there that grin will be. It doesn’t matter that she already flashed it at you an hour ago when you walked in together.

Disgruntled customers are frequent and normal. I once watched a man spit at her, saliva getting stuck to her blouse and she didn’t even balk. That smile came to her defense and it calmed him, and the rest of us, down from coming to her aid.

When Tracy accidentally dropped a cup of coffee and it splashed onto her shirt.

When her computer broke and she had to stay late to finish her assignment.

When it started to pour just as she was about to leave the other day.

Everywhere she goes, she smiles. I don’t understand. Or at least I didn’t, until the day I saw that frown.

I was coming around the corner when I spotted her at the window. It was the only time I ever saw her eyes look so far away. Her arms were crossed tightly across her chest, and her hands were clenched around her elbows. I realized in that moment that she thought she was alone. I would have left it that way too… if not for the frown marring her face.

For someone who had always seemed so happy, and brought joy to everyone else… I wondered at the depth of sadness she must have kept bottled up inside. There was a lifetime of disappointment and worry in that upside down turn of her mouth.

I didn’t mean to stare… but that’s how she caught me. Her expression careened from sadness to surprise to a calm expression with her lips set into a straight line. I didn’t even know what to say, I was caught just as off guard as she was.

Are you okay? came to the tip of my tongue but my words weren’t working. She inclined her head at me then and passed by. That was the only time she didn’t smile, at least to me.

I wonder, sometimes, if she is as aware as I am of the powerful effect a smile, or lack there one, can have… because after I didn’t see one the rest of my day was wrecked.

Photo by Timothy Dykes on Unsplash

Living Life #22 “Mirror”

The shards were scattered all over the floor.

Each edge was jagged, and unlike any of the others. Of course they would all be different. They all came from different experiences.

The shard closest was derived from the boy who pushed her into the sandbox when she was five, just because she had been born a girl and for no other reason more.

The one to the right was one of the bigger ones. It was from when she was seven and her father had left. She thought it had been her fault. It was not her fault.

All the way to the left was a tiny chip, nearly in the shape of a heart. Nearly. It was from the eighth grade when the boy she liked had tried to set her up with his best friend.

Then all the way in the back, that piece with the most uneven sides… the piece with the sharpest angles…. that was the one from her first job out of school when her boss had tried to sand her down. That boss hadn’t liked the bumps on her skin, the angle of her eyes, or the color of her hair. That boss had balked at the smile she wore to work every day no matter how many backhanded compliments and disguised insults were said to her face. That was the girl’s favorite piece. That was the piece that cut deepest from her skin and made her never look back or question who she was ever again.

All of these shards on the floor were an important piece of her soul. So the image left standing in the mirror, after it was fixed once again, was a smarter and stronger girl.

Photo by Luis Villasmil on Unsplash

Living Life #21 “Brushing My Teeth”

(a collection of independent vignettes)

Photo by Alex on Unsplash

Morning and night, it is all the same.

Day in, night out. At sunrise, I don’t turn the light on. Sleep still has its hold on my eyes and even though my body is moving I feel like I’m still in a dream. Did I ever really wake up? The reflection in the mirror doesn’t answer. All she does is stare back at me as I pick up my toothbrush.

Day in, night out. At sunset, I turn the light on but sometimes… bad times… I leave the bathroom dark. I can taste the fluoride without needing to see. In those bad times, it’s too much to stare back at her. In the same spot again. She is always tired. Day in, night out. Always with traces of sleep leaving or coming. Exhaustion never leaves us alone.

I can’t speak for her but why don’t you leave me alone?

Is it because it’s pointless doing this same routine over and over? Does the other me know and that is why she tries to show me how tired I am? Do I work too hard? Or is it never enough? Is that sadness just wearing a disguise in the droop of her eyes?

Do you find me Exhaustion because I am alone?

Maybe I’m just tired of brushing my teeth. Everyday it’s all the same. Morning and night.

Living Life #20 “How Far”

(a collection of independent vignettes)

Photo by Eugene Triguba on Unsplash

Jenna didn’t know how this night was going to go.

Headlights appeared over the bend of the hill. Glaring and warning they careened off the low hanging branches of the trees and the concrete cracks in the road. When they reached the tombstones Jenna ducked low. But only when they reached the tombstones.

“I’m sick of doing this at night.” she hissed to the weeping statue of an angel next to her.

The angel answered, “As if we can do this in bright daylight.” Or at least it had the appearance of such before Jared stepped out into the dark. Dirt up to his knees, boots scuffed to his socks, and a scowl to scare a bear away. Her brother needed to take a chill pill.

“Well…” she drawled. “There have been dealings before when the sun was up too, ya know…”

“Yeah, as well as the rest of the world.” He pulled a pack from his pocket and in the next breath there was a cigarette already up and lit and in his mouth.

“People visit cemeteries.” Jenna argued haughtily.

“Not private ones…” Smoke snaked up into the night. “when they don’t have permission.” His footsteps made barely a sound as they crossed the grass over to her.

“Are you sure this one’s information is good?”

“We can trust him. He’s not one to go back on his word, and besides…” he flicked an ash at the fresh mound of earth next to the angel. “our end of the bargain is done.”

“My end.” Jenna looked down at her own hands, all smudged and grungy, and she wondered when the last time her fingernails had actually been clean. “You really shouldn’t smoke.”

Another set of headlights rolled down the road, only this time they scoped slow and steady, and eventually stopped as the bright shine hit the marble of the tombs. Finally.

Jared took a long drag, and responded, “It’s not like it can hurt me.”

Right now.” she hissed.

Jenna didn’t know how this night was going to go. What she did know was how far she would go. No matter how much they bickered, no matter how different their attitudes or ways of dealing with the world she knew how far she would go for her brother.

All the damn way. And back, if she had to.

As the man emerged from his car, Jenna came out of her hiding spot.

“I didn’t think you would actually come alone.” The gruff man barked, his headlights illuminating the slop on his shirt and the acne on his neck.

Jenna hardened her jaw. She was told that whenever she was in a bad mood that she scowled just like her brother. “I keep my word.” Jared took two pointed steps forward, though Jenna knew her brother was protective there was no way for him to protect her now.

At least not until this man told her what she needed to get him back from the other side. “Now you keep yours.”

Living Life #19 “Eggnog”

(a collection of independent vignettes)

Photo by Drew Coffman on Unsplash

She could see the bottom of the glass once again. Twirling it in her hand, the bare remnants of froth shifted from one side to the other. It looked like the melted snow outside, when in reality it was the dregs of a third glass of eggnog.

“Poor me.” she laughed. Unsteady and a little sick, the woman rose from the armchair by the dying fire. Its crackling was almost silent since it was now midnight. First a chair and then the table got in her path but through determination and reckless luck she made her way back to the counter where the punch bowl was waiting.

One ladle, two ladles, and another half. Now her glass was full once again.

Even though she was not.

“Merry Christmas to me.” she breathed, and downed the fourth glass. Maybe this time it would fill her up.

Living Life # 18 “Decorating The Tree”

( a collection of independent vignettes)

The tree was taller than she was. Green as the forest in summer beyond her backyard and as prickly as the thorns on the dead bouquet in the vase on the counter. Tooth and nail it dragged through the back door leaving a trail of needles like gingerbread cookie crumbs right to the far corner of the living room. It did not come easy, but she didn’t back down. Not even as she had to hoist it into the stand with only minimal help from the wall.

A stepladder was necessary for the lights, and even though there was no one there to help she took her time. The stool danced around the wood floor and the lights were placed string by string until it was her feet waltzing around the ground instead. The cord was gently plugged in and then the house seemed a little brighter, the fir now lit up like a star. The tree warmed up to her a bit then. But only just a bit.

The red beads were next, and then the gold tinsel. The tree certainly wasn’t going to bend for her but she didn’t need it too. She rose to meet it again and again, and swayed around and around. The fire in the background crackled and snarled but it was only empty threats. The light emanating from the small space was too golden and too warming to be anything but a sarcastic friend. Being inside, the tree realized, was a lot different than being outside. A little more snug and a little less lonely.

It paid no mind to the silver bells she planted along its branches, and the red ornaments felt as light as air as if they were barely there. The rest that were piled on were mismatched and worn. A little blue sled with the year 1982 scribbled on the bottom, a fading snowman with two buttons missing, eight bronze deer then four gold ones and a rocking horse no bigger than her palm. Before long all the spaces were filled and instead of feeling weighted and tired the tree noticed the perk to its branches in the mirror across the room. Maybe it should have been a little nicer to her on the way in. She had plucked it out of the solitude of the harsh winter wind, gifted it a steady stream of water and shelter, then given it decorations to cloth and adorn it. The tree liked her a bit more than it had before, making its emotions swell now to twice what they had been.

A drop of sweat like a melted snowflake slid down her temple, and the tree could see she was tired. She absently moved to put her hand down on the end table nearby and the tree wanted to warn her but it had no mouth to speak.

When the glass shattered, it was loud. The wit of the fire was drowned, and the glow of white lights on the tree’s branches left her eyes. Quietly, the young woman bent down and as she kneeled careful of the broken bits, she looked much smaller than she had when she originally hauled the tree in. More like a girl, left alone in a house, with a few modest lights and threadbare ornaments that really didn’t matter much if one thought about it, unless they were reflected in her eyes.

The picture was face up on the floor, but in the shadow of where the lights couldn’t reach. Piece by piece and sliver by sliver she picked the edges up, cupping her hand to her chest. The picture, still in the frame, was last. Another tiny snowflake ran down her cheek, but the tree knew there were was no sky above their heads. She took a deep breath and in the next moment she rose and walked away. A minute passed, and then two. The tree wondered if maybe it should have at least tried to warn her, though it had no means to speak words. But then, she came back. And she wasn’t alone.

There was petite angel cupped in her hands where the glass had just been.

The stool made its return, and with the fire cackling quietly in the background, she rose one step then another. Even then though she could barely reach the top. An inch more of height and everything would have been okay. She didn’t have that inch though, so the tree gave her the inch instead.

With all its might it buckled its trunk and the young woman stretched her toes until finally then the angel was set on top. Blonde hair, white gown, a happy mouth and golden wings graced the room.

The young woman stepped down from the stool, and that’s when tree liked her most of all with the lights in her eyes, the fir needles in her hair and the angel in her smile.

Living Life #17 “________”

(a collection of independent vignettes)

Tick, tock.

You stare at it. The longer you look the more it looks back into you.

The more you start to hate yourself for all the time you are wasting. And have wasted in the long, endless days before.

All the research and all the work and long nights, and eons spent typing away at the computer. all. for. nothing.

Because everything you had written, you now hate. And so you are back at the beginning again.

The dreaded blank page.

And time is rushing by.

Tick, tock.