Sunday, October 13, 2013


The vase falls and I don’t even bother to reach for it.  The glass touches my toes, dancing across my heels, drawing blood.  But still, I walk onward, over the treachery and through the doorway to the elevator.
The nurses are there again, and they hold me down, injecting the poison into my skin.  I’m not sick but they tell me I am.
I laugh.  Dr. K gives me water, writes a note, and hurries off down the hall.  I sit down on my bed and reach beneath the mattress once everyone has gone, and I find Sara.
There’s a pond out back with giant koi and a skinny heron that eyes them longingly.  I kind of feel bad for him.  He goes back everyday, thinking that no one will fend him off in favor of the koi.  But each day they do.  Dolores sometimes goes after him with a broom.
Underwater, the koi are thankful.  They blow Dolores grateful kisses, pouting their lips and waving frantically to her with the hands they don’t have.  Tomorrow, I will help the heron silence the koi.  Tomorrow they will be his feast.
Sara would like the heron.  She would feel badly for him and bring him bread.  She would say, “Oh, lovely heron, I will take care of you.  Today and tomorrow and the day after that.”  But Sara is not here.  So she will not say it.
It is pizza day in the Lunch Hall.  It is called the Lunch Hall even though we eat breakfast, lunch, and dinner there.  We also have tea.  But it is lunchtime now, and it is pizza day.  I choose pepperoni and sit with Pete.
Pete doesn’t talk much, but that is my favorite part about Pete.  He is very quiet and it is very nice to eat lunch with him.  I sit next to his chair and he looks at me out of the corner of his eye.
“Hi, Pete.”
            Pete looks away, and nods softly.

“Torey,” says Ms. Devon quietly, “Time for art.”
And we go.
It’s watercolor day, and Ms. Devon hands me the paint and some brushes.  I find a canvas in the corner and paint the vase.  It’s very lovely and Ms. Devon tells me so.  She asks where I saw the vase and I can’t tell her.

Saturday, September 28, 2013


The clock on the wall ticked and tocked as she waited.  The end of the hallway loomed ahead of her like the mouth of a large cave, bits of moonlight glinting across the floor as it peeked through the window.  Three more minutes, and she would be free.

Thirty-seven years of marriage and she still liked to pace through the house as Hal snorted and grunted in his sleep.  It was a horrible kind of noise - the kind of noise that reminded her of the low hum of a motorboat, sputtering and whining as it changed gears.  Thirty-seven years of sleepless nights - of uneven breathing - of wet, moist coughs that interrupted Peggy's soft slumber.  Two minutes, she noted, as she leaned heavy against the linen closet door.

Thirty-seven years and two beautiful children, whose smiling faces plastered the walls of Peggy's slightly outdated home.  In the dark, she eyed the family portrait, noting Claudia's long, auburn hair and Stephen's misshapen, but handsome Roman nose.  He, too, snored, but was in no way the same orchestra of regurgitated sounds that Hal was. As if on cue, Hal stirred again, taking a deep mucous-filled snort.  It was a sound Peggy knew well.  It meant that Hal was falling into a deeper sleep - the kind of sleep that only fire alarms and smoke detectors could disturb.  But not the kind of sleep that quieted her husband.  Not yet - it was still one minute away.

Thirty-seven years of this strangled cacophony.  Peggy's legs, bare but covered in liver spots, carried her down the hallway.  She recalled the day Hal proposed to her, his mud-brown eyes searching her own as he bent on one stubby knee.  The moment of silence before her resounding "Yes!" had been encompassing.  She swam in that moment, heart exploding with excitement and peace and awe, even now.  From the second Hal slipped the ring onto her bony hand, Peggy knew her life would be full with him in it.

For thirty-seven years and two-and-a-half minutes, Peggy had patiently watched Hal dream.  His eyes moved rapidly beneath his lids, and his mouth gaped open, letting guttural sounds emerge without pause.   Peggy touched a weathered hand to Hal's aging skin, soothingly stroking his temples.  She smiled gently at the gurgling man, letting her hands search his sleeping face, and remembering the last thirty-seven years she'd spent at his side.  The thirty-seven years of sleepless nights.  Of beautiful children.  Of strangled cacophony.

She closed her eyes, as she often would, and imagined her trembling fingers wrapping around his soft, wrinkled throat.  She imagined smothering his snores with the down pillow that he insisted helped him sleep better.  She imagined the silence that would come.

And then, she noticed, it did.  Hal's strangled noises paused.  His breathing lulled.  Peggy opened her eyes.  Hal's chest remained motionless.

"Hal?" Peggy whispered.  Then, with more volume, she cried, "Hal!"

Her hands grasped at his shoulders, shaking him as she sobbed.  She remembered every traceable moment over their last thirty-seven years and three minutes.  She remembered joy rides in Hal's old Cadillac and Saturday morning trips to Costco.  She remembered the way Hal called her "Doll" - even as the years stole her youth.  She remembered the day he heroically carried a seven-year-old Claudia, blood-covered and tear-stained, two miles home from a bike ride gone awry.   And how he had built a casket of old plywood for the family dog when Stephen insisted on a proper funeral for Skip.  Tears streamed down Peggy's panicked face - thin, skeletal fingers still shaking her husband frantically.

Suddenly, a violent gasp escaped the lifeless body.  Hal's eyes widened.

"Hal!  Hal, " Peggy sobbed, as Hal struggled to get air, "A-are you okay? Tell me you're okay!"

Hal inhaled sharply, sitting upright.  He smiled, and the lines beside his eyes crinkled as he fought to catch his breath.  He opened his arms, pulling Peggy onto the bed, close to him.

Peggy settled into the sheets beside Hal, curling up against his warmth.  Tears still streamed silently down her cheeks.

"Y-you scared me," she said with a whisper. "I thought - thought that you..."

"Shhhh," Hal stroked Peggy's hair, "Don't talk like that, Doll.  I'm just fine.  Not going anywhere yet.  Now, close your eyes and get some sleep."

Wordlessly, Peggy obliged.  With a heavy sigh, and Hal's arms wrapped around her, she drifted into a deep slumber.

After thirty-seven years and twelve minutes of marriage, Peggy found herself awoken yet again by the sounds of disgruntled distress beside her.  Thirty-seven years and twelve minutes of togetherness.  She smiled, noting the soft symphony Hal made as he slept - the gentle babbling that left Peggy aware that more years were to come.

Saturday, April 13, 2013


She tucked her hair behind her ear, her vacant stare settling on the floor as he paced the room.

"I - I just don't understand," he repeated, a noticeable quake entwining the phrase.

The cigarette between her long fingers burned orange, ashes flitting through the air as she waved her right hand.  He stopped pacing and faced her, though she still refused to meet his gaze.


Smoke whooshed from her lungs, passing her lips and creating an audible sigh.  She flicked more ash to the ground.


She grabbed the bag beside her - pausing to admire the purple patent leather that encased it before opening it.  She rummaged through its contents: old receipts, make-up, a pen that had long run out of ink, a crushed granola bar.  She reached her left hand deeply into the bag, feeling for the thin outline of the tiny object she was searching for.


Finally, she felt the smooth metal and pointed edge of the ring, buried deep in the corner of her purse.  She pinched it, grasping it between her fingers, but did not remove it from its resting place.  She looked up at him.  His eyes were sad, brimmed with wetness.

"What, Nate?"

"Cat, I can't do this.  If you're leaving, you have to tell me why.  You have to give me a reason."

Cat scoffed and raised single eyebrow, creating lines in her forehead.

"Do you believe in destiny, Nate?" she asked, twirling what was left of her cigarette between her thumb and forefinger.

"Of course I do.  That's why this doesn't make sense.  YOU are my destiny and YOU are throwing it away," he replied, a note of desperation in his voice.  Cat narrowed her eyes.

"I'm no one's fucking destiny," she clarified, then added, "And I think people who believe in destiny are losers. Destiny is just a stupid excuse to wait for things to happen.. instead of making them happen."

Nate's expression evolved instantly.  What Cat once read as sadness she now recognized immediately as pain.  Her left hand remained unmoved, still shoved into the cavernous mess that was her bag.

"That's not true," he defended. "I'm not a loser.  You're a bitch. A fucking bitch. And I'm tired of you treating me like shit.  All I have ever wanted is to marry you - spend my life with you. And you're fucking insane half the time!  Like, and you know I love you, but you - you have these days where you're so goddamn mean.  I just can't take it. You really are a fucking bitch."

Cat laughed, not bothering to try to stifle it.  She dropped the cigarette butt on the kitchen floor and crushed it into the tile with the toe of her boot.  Finally she stood, pulling the ring from deep within her purse as she got to her feet.  She stepped forward, pausing about three feet in front of Nate.  The corners of her mouth upturned in what became a venomous smile.

"Well, then," she spoke, a cool, smoky edge enveloping her words. She lifted the ring to face level and offered it to him, "I guess you won't mind if I leave."

"What are you doing, Cat?" Nate pleaded frantically.

"Take the ring, Nate."

"No.  Cat, don't do this."

"Take the ring, Nate."

"NO. Where are you going?"

Cat inhaled, preparing to argue, to defend herself.  She squared her chest and searched Nate's sad, panicked face.  He would never understand.

"To make my own fucking destiny," she finally answered, spinning on her heel to leave.

"Cat. Cat! Don't go!" Nate called helplessly after her, begging,  "I'm sorry! I love you!"

The ring made a gentle clang as it hit the floor.

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

writer's block .. ! ..

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

how i can't love you.

I wish I could love you.

It'd be so perfect, wouldn't it?  Opportune. A meet-cute.  A story to tell at a cocktail party surrounded by new friends.

I'd stand at your side as your hand found the small of my back.  It'd be warm, possessive - but not demanding.  We'd share a knowing look, and laugh together at all the right times as we settled into this new life.  I'd marvel at the tiny lines gathering beside your eyes, learning each one.  I'd watch your lips part over imperfect teeth and know that when we got home from the party, slightly wine-drunk and sexually charged, all bets would be off.

It'd be convenient to love you.

Because when I'm with you, my head swims with possibility and exhilaration and uncertainty.  You change me, challenge me, turn me inside out on the very best of days.  It feels an awful lot like the drumroll leading up to a relationship.  But it's not.  You want the Big Things.  Things that frustrate me.  Things I can't give to you. You lure me out of my own head, just to scare me.  And I wonder what it even is I'm doing here.

I thought I could love you.

I rest my feet on your lap as we listen to old records on vinyl, and I consider if this means we are in love.  The old Polaroid of us at the beach hangs on the fridge.  In it, your fingers are tangled in my wet, salt-crusted hair, my eyes are closed and hands outstretched at nothing in particular. We both show our teeth to the camera and they glint with happiness.  From the outside looking in, it looks like we are there - in love, I mean.

It'd be nice.  Obvious.  Right.

I almost wish I could.

But I just can't bring myself to love you.

Sunday, March 3, 2013


I remember that you used to like breakfast.

"Do you want to go get breakfast?" I suggest.

"NO.  I don't fucking want to go to breakfast."
The tone in your voice is expected.  But for the first time, I stand my ground.  I refuse to apologize to the maddening mess you are becoming.  I spin on my heel to walk away.

"Well, fuck you and the wrong side of the bed you woke up on."

Sunday, January 6, 2013


I marveled at his big, chiclet teeth.
They were huge, white, s t a r i n g a t m e.
I smoothed my tongue over them and fell in love.
The kind of love that snaps, crackles, and pops all in an instant.
That dizzied me like a kaleidoscope.
Like my head was under my feet.
He was older but I was wiser.
Wise enough to know better.
But then I forgot.
It was a round-peg in a square-hole or whatever they call it but that's what it was.
Anything sticks together if you have enough glue.
Our dreams were the same! We were changing the world.
Or so we thought.
He said things like, "tomorrow" and "everyday" and "always."
I said, "yes" and "forever" and "only."
Secretly I shuddered.
Big teeth and big heart and big dreams but small us.
It ended in September.
On a Sunday.
And I wonder now where he's gone.


willfully, she walked.  his hand, a weathered map of long summers past nested carefully in hers.  ordinary, and still a little new, the two reveled in the quiet moment.  the sun was setting slowly through the trees, showering them with the last few rays of daylight, when they reached the small ranch-style home.  the creak of the front steps took her by surprise, but his fingers tightened around hers, and calm instantly subsided her fears.  with a scarcely-subtle smile, she followed him inside, both unaware of the soft promise that trailed behind them.


it was onthefloor, my heart,
and i would say your worn-out treads
stomped it backtolife

pressure and rhythm and tongues
thatgettied and i whirled around
like a bag - the wind (thatisyou)
filling and carrying me

i will forget the way we
met and made eachother and begin to
undo this mess [trapped] in myownhead

i will pushANDpushANDpush you
until you disappear into a dream
or a memory or this thing ithinkididonce
but now i'm not sure

(pause) - there you are!
whenever i don't want you
so i closemyeyes (squeezethemshut)
and i ask you to go. now. please. . .

you're a blur. a mist. a thingofthepast
and i won't remember you or the way
your fingers felt when they tangletangletangled
in my hair and wrapped around my heart

i will you away. (goaway!) but i miss
the smell of your aftershave and the way
you said 'three' and the tinyjaggedscar
halfhidden by your eyebrow

and i know i can't forget
not today not tomorrow
(but maybe after that)