An Errant & Somewhat Ashen Thought

Capture.JPG

Sitting at the red light one frigid early Ash Wednesday evening, my preoccupied between-jobs mind followed my drifted gaze.

I observed them as they exited the nearby church, in twos and threes, mothers and children both, freshly ashen-faced. (And just where are the fathers anyway? Do we ALL get tossed aside unneeded after our seed and wallets have been harvested?) While they trudged through the cold air determinedly to get back into their colder still cars, I noticed something.

Of these husbandless tribes, some of the children seemed typically miserable, exact-mirroring the look of the maternal unit they were trying diligently to distance themselves from, lagging behind. And then there were others who were atypically fully engaged with their mothers, animatedly eye-to-eye communicating while staying close, better to prove their “whatever their point is anyways,” as clearly and lovingly as possible.

It’s probably no surprise that I found myself jealous of this latter group, what with me being a recently reluctant member of the tossed aside dad club too. But I also noted envy towards the former group as well; similar to the way I imagine a legless man must feel about someone with a limp. “’Better to have loved and lost than to have never loved at all,’ is a statement clearly concocted by one who has never actually had to test the theory,” I clucked to myself in defiance to that particular cult of thought.

The light greened, and I drove off to career pt. 2 of 4, forgetting soon thereafter about the experience till just now. Life does move on after all, whether you be limbed, amputated, or merely limping along.

-/+

Yin/Yang, plus/minus, dark/light, or just an excuse to write two-hundred instead of one?

Call it what you will, but after writing the first of these, I thought this week may warrant a second effort, just so y’all didn’t think my writing was far too dark much too often.

Playing along with Tara’s 100 Word Challenge again, here is this week’s submission in response to the word prompt “Idea.”

20160205_173002.jpg

*1

The rum slugged forth from the bottle, much like suffering a urinary tract infection.
Growling in a similarly stunted sloppy fashion to no one, he cursed while watching some nectar splash helplessly past the glass’s rim, onto the perpetually crumb-filled countertop.

The idea of inspecting the bottle’s pour for possible logjams never occurred, as he relished a certain unforeseen satisfaction in failing even this simple task of drinking himself to death.

From the floor, his cat sat licking in solidarity errant drops that reached their snout. Much like their master’s, the measure was enough to numb, never enough to kill.

*2

His eyes poured over her while watching another “indie” film that would linger long after the TV dimmed, the subsequential lovemaking exhausted.

They’d avoided speaking of the idea of “love,” as both previously had been ravaged by the self-serving narcissists each entrusted theirs with. Ignoring tomorrows unguaranteed, they instead relished Todays spent together.

Gazing upon her now, he filled with joy previously unknown. A joy he wanted not just tonight, nor tomorrow, but lifetimes to come.

Her cat nestled atop them as the movie plugged along, almost hinting that here is where he too should stay. Here he’d find life anew. 100-word-challenge.jpg

Peculiar Time

I’ve been absent. I’m sorry.

I’ll probably be absent again. I’ll most likely be sorry then as well, but it’ll similarly most likely happen anyway.

I’m here today because my dear friend Tara called me out on The 100 Word Challenge, and as she was nice enough to believe in me, I feel as if I owe her a response. And here it is.

As always, I hope you enjoy…

Memories.PNG

 

The faded photo tittered unsteadily in aged hands, maudlin vibrations causing battered corners to softly crumble.

Within the picture, white teeth bursting through long-ago smiles had since bled unbeknownst, merging with yellowing faces now almost unrecognizable.

Drawing an unsure digit against each countenance, he confidently said aloud the name of his children in turn, sniffle-coughs blubbering occasionally interrupting.

The nurse, concerned over his heaving chest, attempted to remove the instigator from his grasp, beginning a struggle she just couldn’t win.

Victorious, he returned to his slack-jawed reverie, wistfully gazing. The photo was peculiar; the photo was all he had left.

 

47 in 46: Love’s Theme

Admittedly, I had drawn this one up sometime ago, and even had it proofread to ensure that I chose the proper of two endings.

Still, it had a Halloweenish tinge to it, so I saved it till just now, this very week, in order to post.

Week next(ish) we’ll jump back a year again, and until then and as always, I hope you enjoy.

The year was 1974, the song was “Love’s Theme” by Love Unlimited…

20150524_152236

She hated his music, loathed it in fact. Always loud, obnoxious, screech-laden and filled with lyrics that she attributed to having mostly been something akin to blasphemy, had they been intelligible in the first.

She hated his music, truly, and the very worst was when he would go rumbling off into the shower, plugging his witches lament into the decrepit portable CD player that marred the otherwise docile air of the tiny white tiled bathroom they shared. Once the water was piping hot, the music too would begin to pipe through from under the bathroom door ajar’d, along with the steam and whatever pent-up anger he was washing off from his day.

She hated his music, but she tried her best to put up with it. They were roommates after all, and people who lived with each other needed to adapt. Her way of doing so was to try to ignore it as long as she could, hoping that it would cease before she lost her already loosened screw. Sitting in the hallway just outside, she would mentally try to tune down the cacophony, tight-lip screwing her face into a grimace worthy of dysentery while waiting on the silence.

She hated his music, and as he took dreadfully long showers, apparently playing an imaginary concert in his mind while lathering his body down, she could never find it within herself to outlast the audio carnage spewing forth, the billowing shower’s steam muffling it far too little. As a result she would often find herself wafting open the bathroom door, while dashing quickly into the haze of steam and heat. Being careful as to not look directly in on him while running over to the CD player, she would quickly paw the STOP button before bolting from the room in as hasty a fashion.

She hated his music, and knew he hated when she pulled this stunt as she could hear him scream bloody blue, seemingly at the CD player, over this abrupt silence. She always hoped for the best, but in each and every instance, it wouldn’t be but in a few heartbeats time before she would hear him splash from the tub and angrily stab the PLAY button once more to announce his encore of loud.

Today she watched him again on his bathroom sojourn, though this time proceeding sloth-like, gingerly placing a CD that she rarely saw him with into the player’s tray, instead of his usual fare. She was not surprised by the selection this time, as she had overheard the conversation he’d had just minutes before. She couldn’t hear what was being said from the other end, but by his reaction it was plain to see that he had had his heart broken once more.

Just like the last time, he immediately took all the blame – though in her opinion, just like the last time, nearly none of it rightfully belonged to him. And again, just like the last time, he immediately grabbed for his usually unused Barry White disc, a present from his now-deceased mother who truly never did understand his musical stylings either. Something about this disc must have somehow brought him closer to his mother, possibly the only woman ever who never demanded anything from him, never verbally bullied him, never made her love conditional, and never gave up on him.

In this context, the title track, “Love’s Theme,” blared more mournfully than most others would hear it, and – as he had the rigged the player to do so – tonight at least would immediately repeat itself each time its dulcet tones faded into silence.

She hated his music, but she loved this song. And she loved him even more. So much more so in fact that her heart would often flutter, as if it belonged to that of a schoolgirl, over the mere idea of their being together.  As such she couldn’t understand why, especially given all the disasters he had had with his other relationships, he never once even thought to give her a try. She knew him better than anyone else, she too never demanded nor expected anything from him, and in all the years he’d lived here with her, she had never once – not even with the loud and obnoxious music – thought about giving up on him. As the song entered something like its 800th iteration, she decided to pull her stunt just once more, but this time she wouldn’t run from the room. This time she would wait for him, and talk with him, and express herself to him. This time would be different. This time he would notice her.

She hated his music, but this time was different. This time the silence fell like a temple wall on the mourning, like the dropped casket in a quiet church. This time, instead of running, she sat quietly down in the chair across from the shower, waiting for him to acknowledge the silence and her. Time stood still for a moment, which meant forever, which meant it was over before it began, and the solitary slam of his fist against the wall alerted her as to what sort of mood she’d have to first contend with while telling him of her love.

“GoddammIT!” he quietly yelled into his chest, and then again louder to the ceiling. “Why can’t you give me just this once? Just this once without randomly turning off mid-song???” he tore open the curtain to see the room as it always was, foggy, white tiled, small, and empty of all life sans his own and that of the nameless cat that lived with him. He had no idea why the feline was just sitting there again staring intently at him, nor why that damned CD player would constantly shut off like it did. Lord knows he had paid enough for it not to do so. He went to hit the PLAY button again but then stopped mid-thought as he saw his raisinesque digits and realized that he’d probably shriveled in his lament long enough.

Drying off, he turned out the lights and scratched the top of the cat’s head absent-mindedly before leaving the room. He mused as she walked close enough by his side as to squeeze through the door with him that he should probably name her one day – hell, besides his mom, she had been the only other woman who’d never given up on him…

Bart’s Amazing Disappearing Cloak*

12122682_10204080667091395_7291700527567614106_n

Bartimaeus threw his cloak aside.

Bartimaeus was blind.

Raised in the Christian tradition, I had heard this story more often than even Mark must have told it. But it wasn’t until I was well past 40 something or another that I finally heard the words as they were originally said.

Bartimaeus threw his cloak aside.

Bartimaeus was BLIND.

As such, he had hopes few whatsoever in finding the damned thing again, should his take on this particular Jewish carpenter-turned public speaker prove to be wrong.

According to the new testament at any rate, we know that his gamble paid off. And maybe that’s where the story gets watered down for us. Winning always does look so easy in retrospect, doesn’t it?

Now my point here isn’t to address the dogmatic diatribes of who’s god-head is true, or who’s god-head is false, or even the idea that the whole lot of them might just be a case of communal wishful thinking. No, my point here is that Bartimaeus was blind. And he threw that blessed cloak away anyway.

Again, being raised in the Christian tradition, I am fairly certain that there are already camps forming for either side over a potential upcoming schism, as to whether he did so because he felt he no longer needed it, or because he felt that in a few short minutes he would be able to find it himself. Not the point here, kids. Why he did it doesn’t matter, that he did it, does.

You see, what he had was faith. True blue, potentially pie in the sky faith. In something, or in someone, or in his own good self doesn’t matter either. What matters is that he had it. Enough so that he could throw away the one thing that was guaranteed to protect him otherwise. The only thing that had proven itself to him up until that point.

And assuming that Mark wasn’t blowing total theological smoke, it carried him through to the end, this faith, making him presumably a happier guy who could now find his own cloak without any assistance, thankyouverymuch.

I don’t know why I heard it this way today, but I did.

The verse doesn’t expand on any back stories in regards to his possibly also having had a spouse who deceitfully broke all their promises to him, nor if he had had children who had also seemingly summarily dismissed him from their lives. It doesn’t even go into whether or not he was more than broken as a result of all these things.

In short, there was scant anything about him at all, sans a desperate plea for help and the fact that he and I both have cloaks – mine being woven much more with fear than fabric – that provided me with any sort of kinship with the man.

And still…

Still, I feel that as if this cat Bart could have faith – faith enough to literally toss aside the only protection a blind person of his day might have had against the elements – then I might also find this sort of power in me as well. I might also find the faith needed in some Thing, some One, hell, maybe even in some Me, someday as to be able to throw aside my personal cloak; carefully hand-woven over these past 40 something or another years. Maybe.

Bartimaeus was blind.

Bartimaeus threw his cloak aside any way.

Pray this cat someday has vision similar to do the same.

* Based on Mark 10:46 – 52.

My War

20140411_202019

You gather your armor, beaten, somehow heavier from the years of use, and you fight the demons once more.

You fight the demons and you rage against their walls. Storming fortresses in the hopes of destroying the dungeons they mean to place you in, the tiny dark holes wherein you’ll die and be left for forgotten.

As you lash out and against, you hear a Voice continually humming in the back of your brain like a semi-automatic tattoo gun, inking onto your mind the suggestion that you should just give up, just stop already, just go to sleep.

Just go to sleep.

A distraction at first, it coyly swallows every last demon warring against you till it becomes the entirety of your war. In an effort to dismantle dark forgotten holes, it begs you to enter one of your very own construct, but only once. Once, and forever and ever amen more.

You can say no, but in so doing, understand that the demons will reappear. The goddamned demons will reappear, stronger and angrier than before.

Say no anyway.

Make no mistake, this will be a continual war. The demons need not food nor rest nor restocking. The Voice itself prattles on, dolloping constant bloody stain that’ll continue to blacken even a weary mind retired for the night. The war will rage, in starts and stops, maybe even for the remainder of your life.

Say no anyway.

The war will rage on, in starts and stops, maybe yes, even for the remainder of your life. I know it has so in mine at least. And the armor continues to become heavier every time I pick it up, but still I do.

And it’s not because I’m any sort of hero, but rather, a coward. A coward too frightened to enter into that dark forgetting hole of my own construct, but only once. A coward too afraid to admit defeat. Even after defeat upon defeat upon defeat.

A coward who’s survived.

And in the case of this war at least, being so is just enough to be a victor. Today, tomorrow, and every day after. Possibly even til the day when the demons are vanquished and the Voice silenced once and for all. Forever and ever amen.

It can happen after all, you know

I don’t know why I’m sharing this, except that maybe I have heard recently of far too many who were not cowards, far too many lost to us too soon and far too forever as a result.

And maybe I think, someone who needs these words – someone who is getting ready themselves to make the mistake this time of saying yes once and forever – someone like that might find this scribbled thought and see, and in seeing, See.

I hope so. I hope I can do at least that in my what I would call a life. I know it’s helped me to realize that others have succeeded where I sometimes fear I will fail; to know that I’m not the only one fighting, that I’m not alone. To know that I am loved by other cowards who also continue to survive.

You too, are not alone.

You too, are loved.

If by no one else, then at least by me.

Come, please, gather your beaten armor, and beside me fight another day, OK?

Love,

t

47 in 46: Wild World

Jumping back one year to 1971, we are joined by Cat Stevens, speaking more fluently in just over 3 minutes time of his heartbreak than I ever could, even if I’d seventy-times seven times as long to do so.

Now if “Spinning Wheel” was a song that caused my mind to stumble over it’s meaning, Mr. Stevens “Wild World” left me little doubt as to what was to come once “love” bloomed. Sadly, many more times than I would have anticipated.

To follow is what bubbled up while using this track as my prompt, and as always, I hope you enjoy…

20130224_181414

She’s gone.

She meant everything to me, and now she’s gone.

I can’t.

I just can’t. I can’t even go on. I can’t because of all the people in my life; she’s the one I thought would be mine forever.

Mine…

MINE!!!

Why can’t she be mine?

Why can’t she just still be mine?

I love her. I love her as I love the sound of the springtime birdsong on a late winter’s day. I love her like I love the taste of hose water in the dead raunch-heat of summer. I love her as I love the smell of warm pumpkin pie slathered in whipped cream during the crisp fall, with air chill just enough as to beckon forth fair warning of the dead season to come. I loved like this, and in ways indescribable. I loved her in a fashion that mere language fails to comprehend, let alone express.

And now…

Now…?

Now she’s gone. She’s gone after another, or after no one. She’s gone and moved on to whatever adventure she felt I could not be a part of, and my heart is suffocating at the thought of it. My mind reels over the impossibility. My soul moans over both her not being here with me, and in her being happy wherever it is that she is now.

Please, don’t misunderstand. I want her to be happy.

I do, really.

I just wish, I wish… Well, I wish that she could be happy with me. She was my everything; my life and my love. I just can’t imagine being alive anymore without her presence and her scent to comfort me, her smile and laugh to warm me, her strength and her bravado to shoulder me, and her innocence and grace to inspire me.

Damn it, she meant everything to me, and now she’s gone!

And I am so alone.

So terribly, frighteningly alone.

Of course, there’s also the family and friends to contend with. What do I tell them about us? How do I ever break it to everyone that she’s gone? How could I possibly explain in a way that would make even a fraction of sense out of this senselessness? I’ll let them blame me of course, for even in her deserting me, I couldn’t stomach to see her slandered. No, I just couldn’t.

I love her that much.

I wish her well, truly I do. And I mean her no harm. Not even after how deeply she hurt me; scarred me. No, not even after all that. Not even though as a result of her treachery I will never love again…

I just don’t know what I’ll tell everyone yet though, to break this news disastrous. But I do know that I need to get out from under this funk just long enough as to come up with some sort of story. I mean after all, the school year IS almost upon us, and of course last anyone knew, we were joyfully together as a happy couple when second grade came to a close.

I just can’t even imagine having to start third grade without her…