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Heart

On my way I roamed and wandered, till he turned my head.
It wasn’t till that moment that I realized I’d been dead.
His eyes, that spark, a newfound brand new beating heart.
I showed him mine, he showed me his, and we held love together.
Our love, our souls, our fears, our goals, we were birds of one feather.
With many birds we roamed the air and birds all lovely colours.
Our feathers matched so perfectly.
I thought that it would always be.
I trusted him, he trusted me.

But oh, those birds of all those lovely colours.

On our way we roamed and wandered, till he turned his head.
And what was once alive, went back to being dead.
I poked and prodded, tried to spark my lifeless now not beating heart.
I showed him mine, but he kept his, as he set mine on fire.
It screamed, it turned, it popped, it burned, smoking with desire.
Lifeless, stupefied, with awe, I watched it burn to ashes.
Those ashes now live deep inside.
In memory of the love I tried.
The days I had nothing to hide.
But nobody would ever know,
Unless I went and told them so
because:
I smile, I laugh, I live, I learn, I love to fuck, I sing.
But everywhere I go there is a secret that I bring.
So if you want to love me, know, you shouldn’t even start,
For nobody can love a girl with ashes for a heart.

I didn’t like this poem at first and I thought it was the structure and the pacing, which it is a little, but more so, it oversimplifies a very complex issue. Hearts don’t usually get permanently shattered in one fell swoop. We are stronger than that. But if we are repeatedly denied love, scorned, burned, hurt, not just by our lovers, but by our families, friends, strangers, we get turned off of opening up and being truly bare naked and vulnerable. It’s like we just don’t have the strength to be exposed to anyone, and the hurt is so deep, raw, and ugly that we don’t want to show it, or share it, or spread it. As bad as we may want love and a kindred connection, that pain pricks up fresh every time, and the risk never seems worth the reward. Sex, or fucking, can be an alternative method for experiencing pleasure and intimacy, without any risk.

I don’t hate the poem, but I wish it dug a little deeper than it does. It flows alright and it rhymes, so it is technically a poem. It feels really good to be writing again. Thank you for reading.

Ode to my Booty Call

Sitting here in my bathrobe.
Feelng dirty, used, and oh so satisfied.
He comes when I call. Like a pizza.
But he’s faster than a pizza.
Stronger than a pizza.
Harder than a pizza.
He fills me up like no pizza ever could.
He gives me sweet magic explosions.
Splashing fireworks.
Closeness to God.
My eyes are open.
My worries are gone.
And when we are finished with each other,
So is he.
Until, once again, I hunger.

Storms 2…

“Jesus wept.” -John 11:35

In the past when people have said, these kids are driving me crazy, I always laughed it off. I always thought it was a joke. It’s not a joke. I know that now. I know that because my own child literally drove me out of my mind. Going forward, when I refer to “the thing,” I will be referring to the thing that he did which drove me out of my mind. I cannot describe the thing again, or I shall go mad, once again, and I can’t allow that to happen. I still don’t know where he got the idea for the thing, and that is the most maddening of all. What I can say is that right now, he is behaving perfectly normal, as if the thing never happened, and I’m feeling mostly relieved, although somewhat perplexed about that.

To start, my child is different from most. He has special needs, and he was in a special class, with only six other little dull-faced children, who may not even be potty trained, and who talk even less than he does, but he has no diagnosis of anything actually the matter with him. His speech was delayed and he has trouble picking up on social cues. He also gets really wild and aggressive when he’s not getting enough attention or getting his way. The thing is, every single problem he has is something I can trace back to some mistake that I made. I handed him everything too easily without ever making him ask for anything or use his words. I discouraged his babbling because I found it obnoxious and didn’t understand why he insisted on incessantly filling the air with random face hole noises. Seriously that shit was cute for about three seconds. Then not so cute anymore. Then really annoying. I didn’t want him to be one of those people who never shuts up. I have to live with this kid. He’s my only child so he’s used to being doted on and maybe even worshipped a little. He basically immediately became the most dominant member of the family. Then I tried spanking him and that completely backfired and wound up angering him. I roughhoused with him because I figured that’s how a father would play with him, I don’t know, maybe I confused him? Look, I don’t know what the hell I’m doing. Mistakes were made. These are all mistakes I’ve made. Mistakes I’ve been working to correct over the past year or so, and for the most part, it’s been working. I’m pretty much in charge now, the kid is talking a lot more, he’s being way more respectful and well-mannered, understanding and respecting rules and boundaries, truly thriving.

The reason why the thing drove me out of my mind, is because it’s inconsistent with who he is and the sort of problems he has. My son has problems, but not this kind of problem. My kid can get aggressive and doesn’t follow orders, but he’s not a sexual deviant, and I sure as shit don’t appreciate that getting added to his list of issues. That shit is fucked straight up. Anyone without kids may not know that kids do masturbate and discover themselves, but mine is more along the lines of a public nose picker than a public masturbator. I never shamed him about it when he did do it, but he didn’t do it any more than any other normal kid, and to be honest, he didn’t do it nearly as much as I was expecting. If I discovered that I had a penis one day, I would probably spend a lot more time with mine than my son did with his. It was just, oh neat, this feels nice, whatever, what’s next? Oooh, check out these toes! Basically I think it was around age three that I told him that it was time for him to start doing that privately and, with a few reminders, he got it, no problem. Potty training was also extremely easy for this kid. It took a few tries, but when the time came, it was basically like pointing a kitten in the direction of the litter box. I can count on one hand the number of times this kid has wet his pants. Nothing has changed and the kid still doesn’t wet the bed or anything, I’m just saying it’s usually the bedwetters that are the pervy ones. My son doesn’t have any indicators of any abnormal sexuality. I don’t even think he’s gay, and it’s fine if he is, whatever. I’m just not seeing it yet at all, if he is. Just sayin, that’s the kind of kid I was dealing with.

Then the thing happened.

It wasn’t in any of the parenting books I’ve read. Nothing like it was mentioned in the normal developmental milestones charts. It wasn’t an escalation of any other related behaviour. The thing came from another planet and struck like a damned meteor from outer space. It’s not from my son’s realm of ideas and capabilities. As soon as the doctor told me I was having a boy, I knew I was in for a tough time, but I didn’t know what a run this kid would give me for the money. I want him to socialize and have friends but, at the same time, I want to protect him from the world. I want to protect him from the world but, at the same time, I don’t want him wearing my clothes when I’m dead and making lampshades out of people. I know boys will be boys and they do strange things. I’m finding out that a lot of the things I thought boys learned from their fathers, are actually things they are born instinctively knowing and doing on their own. My son hates shopping, hogs the remote, and watches Netflix with his hand shoved down the front of his pants. He likes farting, video games, and trucks. Some of his ideas seem to come out of nowhere, but this one, it doesn’t add up. I may not fully understand his testosterone infused little mind, but I know when something isn’t rightly making any sense, and this still doesn’t make any logical sense to me whatsoever. Kids don’t just leap from average normal self-discovery straight into… the thing that he did.

What’s most important to remember, during a time like this, is, firstly, that I didn’t kill anyone. Mostly because I didn’t know who to kill, or if I even needed to kill anyone at all. Secondly, no matter how the thing came about, whether someone showed him this, or whether he somehow managed to get this crazy idea all on his own, I still love my son very much, no matter what. But still, where in the hell did he get this idea? The choices are not pretty. Either my kid is a natural born sociopath, or some sort of deviant has messed with him. I’m not even an expert parent, let alone an expert in how to deal with this sort of crap, so I just slowly backed away, and started thinking, while trying not to think, trying to wrap my head around what just happened, while also trying desperately to scrub it from my brain and protect my sanity. I managed to ask a few light questions about where he might have learned this, and then I went to lay down because I was feeling sick in my guts.

The only person I could speak to was my sister, but I couldn’t actually speak aloud to her because I didn’t want to spook my child into shutting down about where his idea came from. As far as he knew, he did the thing, then mommy started feeling sick entirely unrelated to the thing that he did. I needed to keep it that way until I knew what I was dealing with. So we texted, which wasn’t very ideal. As a single mom, even having an open telephone conversation can be tricky. I didn’t send my son back to school, and he’s still never going back there, because that’s the only time in his life that he’s ever been alone with anyone who could have taught him the thing. I’ve been a single mom since day one, and my son has only been left alone with a very select few people. School is the first time he’s ever been entrusted to the care of any man I haven’t personally known for at least a decade. It’s also the first time he’s just randomly come home one day, triggered, traumatized, re-traumatized, and drove me straight out of my damn mind with the thing, the thing that he should not even know, the thing that he should not ever do, the thing that he should definitely not try to involve his own mother in doing with him. Seriously, what in the actual fuck?!? I knew it wasn’t going to be easy, but this?!?

So now my son is home, I can’t actually talk about the thing with anyone, even thinking about it makes me feel queasy, and this all culminated to a head on Saturday, when my sister was coming to Toronto to buy a minivan from someone on Kijiji.

I had a plan. I’d done as much sickening online research on how to deal with this sort of thing as I could stomach, and I had a plan to have a nice calm and rational discussion with the good folks down at the sex crimes unit of the police department to see if my fears were justified, and what appropriate steps I might take next. This calm and rational discussion was to take place during the half hour that my sister would have my son at the park.

The plan went off the rails immediately when I called three times and nobody answered the phone. Within minutes after that I was somehow involved in a very frantic and irrational standoff with the police, in which I refused to tell them where my child was until I was promised that nobody would interrogate or frighten him or force him to have a rape kit done. I didn’t want my son to be re-traumatized by the reporting process. I couldn’t protect him from anything that was already done, but I wanted to protect him from things getting any worse. I already checked and there was no sign that anyone had hurt or damaged him, and he seemed to have no idea that anything wrong might have even happened. I needed to protect that innocence, but I couldn’t just leave the other kids in his class potentially exposed to a predator, and unable to even speak up about it. My son might be those kids’ only hope, but he’s still my only child. I had no weapons, no hostages, no plan, no clout, no leverage and I was so ill with dread and panic that I could barely think straight or even stand up, let alone stand up to the police and, to be frank, I’m quite lucky that they didn’t just taze the shit out of me, take my little boy away, and put me in a loony bin. I had about the amount of power that a fly has over a lion, but I was ready to ride or die for my child and king kong didn’t have shit on frail and shaky little me. I even played the race card, which was quite foolish and unnecessary since I’m so light skinned that I literally had to explain my race before I could even play the damned card. Before I go any further, I need to take this opportunity to apologize to the good folks down at the fifty-five division precinct of the Toronto Police Department. I am truly sorry and embarrassed about my erratic and panicked behaviour, and for the race card. Despite all that, I was treated very kindly, with much dignity and respect. My son had a fun and easy experience meeting the police officers and riding in the ambulance, and for that I am super-grateful. They could not have been more professional in handling the situation, although it would be nice if they carried some lorazepam on them for these types of situations, not every problem can be solved using only handcuffs and a gun, just sayin, one little lorazepam certainly would have deescalated the matter pretty much instantaneously. But despite the delay in getting me dosed up with the coping dope, thank you so much. I do owe them my thanks. I basically had a miniature mental breakdown, and those people see people at their very worst all day every single day. For all they knew I was some sort of tweaker meth-head making up a story and using my child in order to somehow get free drugs. They could have shot me in the face and moved on with their day, but they didn’t. I’m so thankful that they didn’t. I was losing my mind and raving like a lunatic, trying desperately to make sense of something that didn’t make any sense. My child was safely at the park, out of earshot, and I could finally speak openly about the thing. I could finally cry, and grieve, and stop trying so hard to pretend everything was fine. I could hear how agitated and mentally unhinged I sounded, but I just couldn’t bring myself to chill the fuck out. Thankfully, one of those officers was a mother, and when I described the thing to her, she understood exactly why I had lost my mind, or at least, she managed to convince me that she understood, while also convincing me to voluntarily go down to the hospital to get some sort of voluntary mental health check. They used the world “voluntary” a lot. Finally someone gave me some lorazepam, after those useless dicks at Med Visit refused to see me the day prior to this whole fiasco, and of course that helped immediately. I have one left, and I’m saving it in case this child does anything else to drive me insane. I always thought that was a joke. Mostly it is. The lorazepam is just in case.

After my son spoke with the proper detective and child protection agent we spent a few days with my sister’s family because I needed to rest for a bit. They were watching him for any odd behaviour, but nothing happened. We’ve since all questioned him, lightly, without any shame or accusations, just asking for information and promising that he won’t be in any trouble if he tells the truth, but so far, he’s saying nothing and acting completely normal. Not a single name, nothing. I’ve left it alone because I don’t want him to just make up a name to get me off of his back about it. His speech problems make it really hard to get the truth out of him, which is why I was so desperate to get him directly to the top professionals trained to speak with children in this sort of situation, so even if he gives me a name, it would have to be looked into before any conclusions could be drawn. If he gives me a name, I have the detective’s number, so I know what to do now. Knowing what to do is the easy part, the tricky part is actually doing it… I just hope he answers the phone… I’ve been known to act a little rashly when things don’t go according to plan.

Storms…

“Then shall two be in the field; the one shall be taken, and the other left.” -Mathew 24:40

Ugh, I need to sort my Hub file. It’s basically a Scrivener project with tabs similar to my site menu, but it’s where I store all my rough ideas and all the shit I jot down so I won’t forget. It’s mostly sorted, but I need to add and file this massive list of jotted notes from my iPhone, and sometimes I don’t know even why I’m doing this. I’ve only managed my way through a handful of short stories and at this rate, all my best and most challenging ideas won’t actually be penned out till I’m in my sixties. It’s getting to where I’m almost sad when something comes in that I know could be amazing, because I just don’t seem to have the talent to put it into the proper words. As a novice writer, it kind of irks me when people try to offer me story ideas. Sweet and well-intentioned so I’m always polite, but I already have the ideas. I already have the words. It’s the putting them all together the right way that is the actual work of it. I could imagine awesome and cool ideas all day long, and I actually did just that for a long time. I spent years being super-depressed and not wanting leaving my bed, or my home, unless I needed to. My imagination and my dreams were my main source of cheer and happiness during that time. Now I thank God for giving me such interesting and wonderful places to safely ride out the storm. But back then I begged God every single day to just let me sleep and live in my dreams forever and not hurt anymore. He gave me a choice early one morning when I awoke to frantic banging and screams that the house was on fire. It was an answer to my prayers. I could have just laid there and let it take me. But I didn’t. I don’t know why, but I didn’t. I guess that’s why I’m still here and doing this now. I never had a life plan. More like a death plan.

That was many years ago. That fire wasn’t even close to the worst thing to ever happen to me, but the unfortunate events that transpired before and after the fire summed up a pretty devastating blow. Days before the fire I lost my job and my license got suspended for demerit points. Days after the fire, the solid rock of my childhood and the woman who singlehandedly raised my sister and I, the most incredible and strong woman I’ve ever known, she passed away. I had to get a ride back to the wreckage of my old house to pick out a dress for my Grandmother’s funeral.

The fire started in the basement when our drunk roommate decided to take a romantic candlelit bath alone, and then pass out and leave the candles directly beneath a towel rack. Virtually every surface of the house was covered in a fine black soot. Even though we tried not touch anything, we got covered in that crap every time we went in the house even just for a few minutes. It was everywhere. Everywhere except my bedroom, which was completely untouched and in pristine condition. Almost as if God knew that I would save myself and need a dress for my Grandmother’s funeral. I almost made my family go to two funerals, of two unrelated deaths, in the same family, at the same time. I’m so glad I chose to walk out of that fire.

There’s more to the story. The owner of the house had started using coke again, despite being seven years clean. He’d also started growing pot plants in the basement. I tried to warn him. I didn’t feel good about it, and I tried to persuade him to cool it with the dope and to not grow the stupid plants. He had plenty of money, he didn’t even need them. I love pot as much as anybody else, but you know what I don’t love? Taking stupid risks, and those plants were a stupid unnecessary risk, and look how that turned out. Everyone in that house had a stake in those plants, but I refused to have any part of it. I wish this was the first time I’d watched someone completely disregard my advice and immediately fall directly into disaster. I just don’t get too attached to people anymore. Of course the fire department snitched to the police and I had to watch the man’s kids get taken away, and they had to watch their father get arrested. Nobody else stepped up and claimed their share of the plants, not even the the girl who burned up his house. It broke my heart, and I’m sure it was a million times worse for him and his children. If he didn’t have those kids living in the house with us, I would have been all for the plants, but those kids raised the stakes much higher than the payoff… which was seized by police.

This happened in the year 2005. Five years later and things are starting to wear on me again. I don’t know exactly when, but my depression lifted after the fire. I felt like there had to be some reason why I got up and walked out of that fire when I didn’t have to. God doesn’t do things for nothing. If I had nothing here for me, I would have gone home right alongside my Grandmother. So, it’s five years later, I’m drinking again, sometimes getting a little high, basically killing myself again, although not depressed and miserable all the time, which is good. I’m fully functional, but I know I’m slipping. I’m still wasting my life on bullshit and parties, getting caught in the same old traps.

I start to pray for a soulmate. I ask God to send me someone who truly deserves all the love I have inside of me to give. Then my beautiful phoenix arose. My gorgeous little boy, who’s name is NOT Phoenix. My God-given gift of the strength to carry on in this world; my raison d’être. I asked God for a soulmate who deserves everything I have to give, and I ended up with a pure and innocent baby child. All my own, and I can love on him fearlessly for the rest of my life. He called me his hero the other day.

Bad things happen to everybody. There are people who are better off than me, and people who are worse off. I know that there will be more storms to bear in the future. God is my safe haven in the storm, he’s brought me through so many. I’m raising my son to be of good and noble character, and God is raising me. He’s preparing me for my place with Him, just like I prepared my own child in my womb. I can’t go until I’m ready, and crying about it isn’t going to help. I don’t even want to go yet, because I’m happy here with my son… Except for one thing.

It’s been five years since the birth of my son. A few hours ago he did something very odd and out of character for him. I can’t say what because that is private, but I can say that it was so disturbing I had to consult my big sister for advice, and she is concerned as well. Another storm may be on our doorstep, and I’m trying to pray my way out of it, but it might bear down on us, all the same.

As tough as this recent event is to cope with, I could never imagine having to walk alone without God’s guidance, wisdom, strength, and patience. Life can turn in the blink of an eye, and no one said it was going to be easy. My son will never know more about my reasoning and plans than I do, just like I will never know more about God’s reasoning or plans than He does. No one knows what the future holds, but I’m so glad I know who holds my hand.

Note: It’s pretty obvious from my blog that I’m not a traditional Christian and I’m no saint. If God called me for that, then that’s what I’d be, but that’s not the call for my life. My lot in life is what it is and my religion emerged and solidifed through study, prayer, meditation, faith, and experience, in that order. I do my best to always listen for that still small voice. It has never, ever, steered me wrong, and has saved my actual life more times than I can count.

Note 2: A girlfriend and I road tripped across Canada and I think we were… Idk, past Winnipeg for sure, and we were getting a bit sick and tired of each other and we went to a bar to break it up a bit, and I wanted to leave with this guy, and she didn’t want to come with me, even though the guy was super nice, and it would be fine. I didn’t like the guys she was playing pool with, and I told her to have her fun, but please don’t leave the bar with these guys. Please. Just. Don’t. Me and my friend went back to his place and chilled for a bit and it was pretty awesome, interesting, whatever, he told me we could stay with him for as long as we’d like, so then I called her. Basically that was the end of our road trip. She caught a flight home when she was released from the hospital, and I drove home on my own. Didn’t listen. Straight into disaster. I’ve seen it happen before and it sucks every time. I’ve ignored my own intuition and walked straight into disaster myself a few times. That’s how I learned to listen. It’s easy to just brush off a shady vibe and tell yourself it’ll be okay or that you’re just being paranoid. I feel awful for leaving her, but she’s an adult and I told her to come with me. I had no idea that’s how bad they were or what would happen or I would not have left her there. They just gave me an uneasy feeling and I told her they were not nice guys, but I guess maybe she thought I was jealous and trying to ruin her fun. She actually tried to get me to chill with them, but I refused. Sure glad I listened that time, and I wish to God she had listened too.

Too Late…

I sat on the sofa, feeling like a lump of overcooked pasta, listening to the soft phlumps of my sister, Tabitha, pacing the floor behind me. The sky had grown increasingly ominous over the past hour and we both knew that time was running short. Then it was gone as one oily drop of rain hit the window.

Tabitha stopped pacing and we both just stared at the drop as it was joined by others, soon the glass would be coated with the rusty toxic liquid that fell from the sky.

“Why aren’t they here?” Tabitha’s voice rose shrill, warbling in a way I’d never heard from my sister. I opened my mouth to speak, but I had nothing to say. We stared at the gooey slick coating all the windows of the house, till I realized my mouth was still open and closed it.

“Jessica is crying again.”

We jumped. Drake, Tabitha’s son, was standing two feet away, but rather than being mesmerized by the phenomenon, he was examining the hardwood floors, as if not seeing it would mean it wasn’t real.

“Thanks, honey, I’ll go and check on her.” I said. I peeled myself off the soft leather sofa, feeling more like a ninety-year old grandmother than a thirty year old mother, and slowly began making my way to the back bedroom, even though I had no idea how to comfort my child. I could barely stand to look at her, and everything I did seemed only to hurt her more.

The house was large, much bigger than anything my sister or I had ever owned. We’d stolen the house. Paul, Tabitha’s husband, had plucked a large stone from the driveway and smashed in through the garage, which didn’t do us much good since we still had to break through a door to get into the house from the garage. It was something we should have known, and we joked about our awkward foray into a life of crime. It felt good. For a moment we almost resembled normal for the first time since the news broke. When we got inside, we saw portraits of the family who must have owned the house. I plucked a frame from a slate hall table and looked into four beautiful caramel-coloured faces, grinning obliviously, just as we all once were. A lovely little girl, a bit younger than my daughter, smiled up at me and I wondered if she, too, was already sick, despite only a few pink wisps in the sky and no sign of rain so far. But Steve snatched the photo and turned it over on the table. Soon Paul joined him, removing family photos, and turning over frames. It gave them something to do, and they were right; these people weren’t coming back and even if they did, we weren’t leaving. My seven year old daughter, Jessica, lay in one of the back bedrooms.

I’d taken only a few reluctant paces towards the rooms, when the sound of keys jingling at the front door stopped me in my tracks. My sister and I locked eyes, then raced for the door. It wasn’t until we both smashed into it, that I realized we had the same intention.

“No!” I shouted.

“I know.” Said Tabitha. She slid the chain lock into place, held the bolt shut, and gave me a resolute nod.

“Go to your room and keep Dakota in there with you!” I yelled at Drake.

“Is that dad?” He asked. His hair stood in a spiky mess and his eyebrows raised quizzically, he looked like a kid who’d woken up in blender.

“Drake; room; NOW!” His mother bellowed. His brow fell and he headed towards his room. “Paul, we can’t let you in.” She half-sobbed through the door.

“Tabitha, open the door!”

“No, Paul.” It was almost a whisper and I was sure Paul didn’t hear her.

“You guys are too late. We agreed! If you come in here, we’ll all…” I couldn’t say die. I pressed my feet into the hardwood, and my back against the cold door. In front of me was a spectacular view of Georgian Bay, and an even more spectacular view of a blood-red, cloudy sky. The rain had come. The front wall of the great room just beyond the foyer was entirely large panel glass, with an almost-invisible sliding door in the centre. If Paul and my husband, Steve, were as determined to get in as they were to get out and go for supplies, despite our pleas for them to just stay and wait, all they needed was a large stone from the garden. Beyond bolting the door, we had no fight. We were going to die anyways, what did it matter if it was now, or three days from now?

I had been in Toronto when reports first came in of clouds turning pink, then thickening to an almost black bloody red before bursting with toxic rust-coloured rain, decimating Nepal and parts of India and China. We were excused from work for the rest of the day, although most of us would have left regardless, and a few people stayed, regardless. I went straight to my daughter, Jessica, craftily avoiding my dimwitted co-worker, Nancy, who was crying hysterically and giving everybody hugs. I drove numb to my daughter’s school, walked past ashen parents, ashen teachers, and curious and concerned children. Every voice I heard had a hollow and distant quality. There was an eerie calm daze as the world simultaneously digested the new reality. We holed up in our home and spent the evening studying media sites and social media for any new details or insights, sharing the insightful hits with each other, and keeping the graphic ones to ourselves. At midnight, my husband Steve and I packed a bag, woke Jessica, and drove out of the city. We weren’t the only ones, but we managed to get north of the city just as the calm was erupting into chaos, the facade of civility crumbling to utter anarchy. Within forty-eight hours there were reports of widespread looting and killing, ironically, mostly in the name of providing for and protecting loved ones. We knew the rain was spreading fast. We knew it killed anything it touched, from human beings right down the chain, and that the fumes alone were deadly. We knew it was heading our way and that nobody knew what it was, or what caused it, let alone how to stop it.

“We’re all going to die anyways,” screamed Steve, “Let us in!”

Tabby was sobbing, but I felt like an automaton.

“We’ve got food, and we’ve got water!” Paul screamed. His voice was choked and gruff. I pushed my body harder against the door.

“It’s no good,” she hissed at me, “We can’t even touch it.”

“I know,” I reassured her.

Tabitha’s hand didn’t falter on the bolt, which reassured me. She had been married almost ten years longer than me, it was something that I envied, not just the length of time, but the connection they had. They were best friends and, even though I was considered the pretty one, Steve wouldn’t think twice about locking me out if the tables were turned. Steve would probably lock me out if I gained twenty pounds. It wasn’t exactly difficult for me to leave him out there, but for my sister, I was watching her sell her soul to buy her children maybe two or three more days of life.

Eventually, the men stopped their pleas. We crumpled together at the base of the door, our bodies weak, our heads together.

“Why?” Tabitha breathed. “Why is this happening?”

“I’m actually surprised it didn’t happen sooner.” I replied, and was instantly very sorry. True or no, it was the wrong thing to say with my sister on the verge of hysterics. I remembered needing to check on Jessica and I left my sister sitting with her back against the door. It had stopped raining.

“Don’t open the door.” I warned, as I left. Then I turned and added, “I know that was really hard for you.”

I entered my daughter’s room. It was darker than usual for the middle of the afternoon, eerie mauve light shone in around the drawn curtains and my daughter lay quiet and still on the bed.

“Mom, everything hurts.” She moaned.

I crossed the room and sat gingerly on the edge of the bed, even the slight movement of me sitting caused her to moan in pain, then apologize for making me uncomfortable. I instinctively went to take her hand and tell her she didn’t need to apologize, then realized I couldn’t even do that and pulled back. I wanted to look and see how much worse she’d gotten in the last few hours, but I couldn’t bring myself to do it anymore.

“Please don’t touch me, mom. It really hurts bad.” My daughter had started growing shaky and pale the day before. Within hours she developed spontaneous bruises all over her body, and by afternoon she was confined to her bed because she said her feet hurt too much to stand up anymore.

“Can I turn on the light?”

“Ugh, please no,” said Jessica. “Can you just sit and talk to me?”

“Of course I can, honey.” I wanted to get more comfortable, but at the same time, I didn’t want any shift on my part to agonize my daughter. So I just sat, stiff and uncomfortable, breathing in the silence, not knowing what to say, and hoping for Jessica to say anything.

“Mom, everything is going to die, isn’t it?” I felt heat rising behind my eyes and tried to blink back the flow. I didn’t care so much that everything was dying, it was my daughter’s voice. It didn’t sound like my daughter anymore and I realized that her authentic voice was a sound I’d already heard for the last time.

“Yeah, honey, we were all going to die at some point either way, it just looks like it’s going to be a lot sooner than we expected.”

“I don’t want to die.”

“Shh, don’t say that.” I had no idea how to fill the silence, but I had to say something, so I said, “Nobody really knows what happens after we die, for all we know, it could be really wonderful. Remember when you learned to ride your bike? It was really scary, and painful at first, but once you got it, a whole new world opened up.” I felt like an ass for comparing death to riding a bike, and tried to change course, “I think that maybe even caterpillars might be scared to lock themselves up in that tiny cocoon, but that usually turns out pretty sweet for them. Let’s just think of ourselves as caterpillars, what do you think?” Instinctively I reached again, Jessica winced, I remembered, and pulled back.

“It hurts to talk. I’m going to sleep a bit.”

“Okay, Jessie Bessie.” I hadn’t called her that since she was five; my Jessie Bessie Bear with the Big Hugs. I started to softly sing Summertime, just like I did when she was a baby, and I kept on singing until the slowed rhythm of her breathing was keeping the rhythm of the melody. Then I slowly inched off the bed and joined Tabby in the other room.

“My kids aren’t feeling well.” Tabby said, and the automaton who’d been protecting me crumbled into dust at my feet. I was no longer just making decisions based on the most logical assessment of the problem. It was like stepping from a dark and quiet room, into the middle of a live Iron Maiden concert of sweaty and frantic emotions. One instant unlocked every sensation that had been shut down for my own protection and my knees felt like jelly and I dropped to the floor. I felt myself being half-lifted, and half-dragged to the sofa. The lights seemed blinding, and the odours violent, my tongue tasted and felt like a slab of rubber in my mouth.

“You must really love my kids.” Tabitha quipped. I tried to smile but my sister’s expression told me that I hadn’t quite managed.

I pulled my knees up to my chest and felt a little better as I grabbed both the cuffs of my jeans in my fingers, and began rubbing the material. I noticed a small red stain on my left cuff and instantly looked away. My sister sat quietly beside me and I focused on a cream coloured leather chair by the fireplace. It had a small wrought iron table beside it and I forced myself to consider who’s chair it might be. Perhaps the woman in the photograph loved to curl up in that chair and knit on windy days, perhaps with a small cup of tea by her side. I imagined her sitting there, and filled in every imaginary detail till I was ready to face my cuff again. Slowly I willed myself to look at it. There was no logical way I could have gotten it on me. Then I remembered the ketchup I’d shattered while feeding Jessica dinner what seemed like a million years ago. Our last half-night in our own home. I stared at the stain, feeling both foolish and relieved.

“I’m fine,” I said. “I just… I don’t think I’ve been awake and digesting this properly. It all kinda flooded in at once and I was just… drowning in it, I guess.”

“It’s okay if you’re sick,” My sister said. “We’re all going to get it. It’s over for every living species on this planet, and I really don’t think it was aliens getting their period on us, or any of that other nonsense people are spouting. I think this is all our own fault. My guess is some toxic-spewing dumpster company somewhere really fucked up and now we’re all going to die. There’s no two ways about it. I think from here on out, we should just try to go together.”

“Yeah, maybe you’re right. I’m not sure of anything anymore. I’m all out of ideas.” Sweat pricked up on my neck.

“I know,” Said Tabitha, “Me too.” Then she tried to smile and didn’t quite manage. “Listen, I think we should all say our goodbyes tonight.”

“Look, Tabby, Let’s just rest. I can’t talk about this now.”

“I just killed my husband and my kids still got sick within minutes, and you can’t talk about this?”

I’d never felt so selfish, and so queasy, both at the same time in my life. I felt everything and everything felt like garbage. I longed for my automaton, but I was abandoned; it’s mission complete, it was time for me to resume command, but I didn’t feel ready, and I didn’t feel strong. I just wanted sleep.

“Maybe he’s not dead.”

“I hope to God he’s dead!” She snapped. “The thought that he might be still alive out there doesn’t bring me any comfort!”

“I know, I’m so sorry. I’m an idiot. Of course they are. It happened so fast. Who knows if we did the right thing? It was just instinct, wasn’t it? I mean, we both instinctively did the exact same thing.”

“Well, who the hell instinctively wiped out the entire planet? That’s what I wanna know!” My sister’s leg began to thrum up and down, like it always did when she was agitated.

“Maybe it was God, I mean, can you blame Him?”

“I’ve been praying.” Her leg stilled.

“Me too.”

“It’s good to have God to believe in at a time like this.” She took my hand and squeezed.

“Yup. Those atheists are really missing out.” I squeezed back. My sister giggled and I smiled.

“I bet they’re all trying to convert now.”

We both giggled at this, then sat quietly, each praying silent prayers and watching the last sliver of rusted orange sun dip beneath a bruised purple sky. I wondered whether I would meet my maker, and whether he was more like the bible God we read about in church, or more like the Friend who answers my prayers. I had my fingers crossed for Prayer God.

We woke at dawn, crumpled together on the couch, both with headaches raging. We didn’t have to speak. We knew it was time.

“How?” My sister spoke one word to me and it tore through my stomach worse than the contractions that breathed my daughter into the world. It was a blinding and physical pain, and I couldn’t be sure if the cause was physical illness from yesterdays shower, or emotional trauma taking a physical toll, maybe it was both, but one thing I was sure of, was that I couldn’t move. I was physically frozen, and I wasn’t sure if I’d ever be able to move again.

“I can’t.”

I was relieved to find that my sister could move, and as she turned to face me, she pulled away from the weight of my back, and I simply rolled backwards to fill up the space. I tried to pull myself out of the tight little coil I found myself in, but it was no use. I could feel myself trying to rock out of the fetal position, but I couldn’t shake it. I could see my sister, and register her panic, and her exhaustion, with her own trauma written all over her face, but I still couldn’t lift myself out. She got a blanket, tossed it over me, and plopped down beside me. She rubbed my hair absentmindedly and it soothed me. I could smell her lotion, and sense the moisture of her palm by the way my hair smoothed under it.

“You’re usually the one with all the balls,” she said. “It’s so fucked up to see you like this.”

I know, I thought. I’ve got to get myself out of this state. I may not be the best mom, but I’ve got to at least show up… to murder my daughter.

I felt myself coil in tighter and I tried to relax and calm my mind. My sister was talking about her husband, but I had to tune her out. I thought of my grandmother, and how she always told me to think of all the good and happy times when I’m trying to fall asleep, and so that’s what I did. I thought about my daughter’s first birthday. Pink balloons, and Sprinkles, the female clown. Why are clowns usually male? This whole thing was all our fault, my sister was right. I mean, we all knew what we were doing to this planet. It was really only a matter of time.

Then I was watching the YouTube video of the shopkeeper who was shooting anyone who tried to get into his store. A woman in a red dress had approached, I’m guessing the men had urged her to go forward, thinking the shopkeeper would let an unarmed woman in the shop. She held money out in front of her as she slowly approached his shop, and for a moment, I thought he was going to let her in. Then he shot her in the face right in front of her child, who looked to be about six or seven years old. He had on flip-flops and dirty green shorts. His face contorted wretchedly, as her head pinged back and a stream of hair attached to a red, white, and wet chunk flew off of her as she dropped to the ground. All hell broke loose immediately after that, and what I’m sure was the corpse of the shopkeeper was dragged out and beaten till I turned off the video. I tried to think of something else to fill the space, I tried to focus on my breathing, but I needed something else, something just as vivid to counter that image, I tried floating in space, then I tried winning five million dollars, then I tried riding wild horses, and then I started to feel again, a warm sadness, knowing that I’d never do any of those things. Nobody would. I slipped into the darkness for a few moments, then I started to breathe, and slowly come back to what my sister was saying. Only she was silent.

“Tabs?” I grumbled. Silence. I kept breathing, and trying to soothe my body into cooperating with me. It took about ten minutes to get off of the couch, and everything remained silent the entire time. I looked at the clock and it was 11:20 am. I slowly made my way to Jessica’s room, then I stopped. My sister was outside with Drake and Dakota. They were hugging. I raced to Jessica’s room and found her, barely alive, on her bed. The room smelled awful, human waste combined with the chemical odour that had permeated everything since the rain. I realized that the chemical odour wasn’t just coming from the rain, it was also coming from my daughter. I wasn’t sure how to do what I needed to, and I couldn’t ask my sister, my legs were too shaky and weak to manage. I tried not to think about what my sister was doing out there. I tried not to think about what I was doing in here.

“Jessica?” I whispered.

Silence. I marched to the bathroom and grabbed a washcloth and shoved it over my daughter’s mouth and nose before I had time to think. Despite my solid resolution, I still winced at the thought of the pain it must cause her, but I had to finish. This might be the last strength I have. I expected her to thrash and buck, but she only shuddered a few times. I held on tight for several minutes after the shuddering stopped, dry heaving as her tender and bruised flesh gave way under the washcloth like a crushed peach.

I cried and talked to my daughter for a while, hating every perfect word that came out of my mouth, now that it was too late. Then, I slowly crawled back to the window. My sister was gone. So was the boat. I looked closer and saw two dead otters on the shore, locked in an eternal embrace. I knew my sister was gone. I thought we had more time, but pink clouds were once again looming in the sky. My head was pounding, and my body ached. The bruises would come soon. I understood my daughter’s pain, and that I was a coward for making her hurt for so long. It was my sister who was brave. I sat on the couch, and thought about what to do next. I didn’t want to wait for the rain. I saw the boat appearing in the distance, and wondered if they were alive or dead on it, until I saw an oar moving. They were coming back.

I checked the medicine cabinets in our new luxury stolen house and found some sleep medication. I set it on the coffee table. Tabby and the kids crossed the massive patio towards the glass doors. They looked almost peaceful.

As soon as Tabby looked at me she knew, and she understood. “The kids said their goodbyes this morning. You did the right thing.”

“I know.” My voice was thick and I was all cried out.

“Are you ready?”

“Yeah, you?”

“I think so, I mean. What are we waiting for, right? This is only going to get worse. Maybe we should have just done it with Steve and Paul, I mean, we didn’t get too far without them.”

“I know. We killed them for nothing.” I regretted saying this, but my sister giggled.

“Don’t you remember me saying that? Ha, you were so out of it, it was crazy, you were rocking back and forth like a mental patient and I was laughing maniacally about how awkward it’s going to be when we see Steve and Paul on the other side, and how we’re going to have to apologize for murdering them.” She began to laugh and almost look like herself again. It was comforting to see, and I felt more like myself simply for basking in her beautiful laughter. Her batshit insane, lunatic laughter, over the death of her husband. I started to laugh at the absurdity of it all. Then we sat down with Drake and Dakota, ten and fifteen, respectively, and had the most absurd conversation of all. Ways to kill ourselves. It wasn’t a matter of if, it was only a matter of how. We wondered how many families were having the exact same conversation around the world. We talked about the pills, how we could split them and whether there would be enough. We talked about what we could have done differently and where we, as a species, went wrong, and what might have caused this global fumigation, and whether or not the cockroaches would survive this apocalypse, and even what that might look like. We talked and procrastinated, and procrastinated, and talked some more, until it was finally too late, and when we tried to stand, we found that we couldn’t. The solution to our problem sat in a pill bottle on the coffee table, clearly visible, but reaching this solution had silently passed through the realm of difficult and into the desolate fortress of impossible. We could only watch helplessly and desperately as each second slowly ticked away. And so we continued to do what we’d always done; talk. We stayed alive a long time that way, slowly and more slowly breathing in the thickening acrid atmosphere, feeling our flesh rot as we breathed, feeling our bones turn to gravy inside of us, and wishing we’d acted before it was too late.

The End

This story was based on a dream I had that has stuck with me. I love the story, but the writing could be better. I feel that my imagery falls flat, and my character development is lacking. I also wonder if it would have been more dramatic in present tense. I don’t know that I’m entirely finished with this story, but I’m going to shelve it for now, and maybe come back to it when I have more wisdom and experience under my belt. I hope it was still an enjoyable read.

The Revolution is Still Here

Well, it’s come to that point for me. I can admit I’ve been an asshole. It’s going to take some time to change. I’m scared. But in this day of instant knowledge, of irrefutable evidence, I just can’t deny the harm my lifestyle is doing. I’m a burden. I’m a burden and I tried not to care, but I’m also a mom. I didn’t plan that, but it’s happened, and I love him, so I can’t shit all over everything. I can’t shit all over my child’s inheritance and I can no longer be glib or ignorant about it. I can’t even pretend to be obtuse when the truth keeps worming it’s way into my conscience. I can’t sleep at night and maybe if I wasn’t being such a dick, it would ease my mind a little.

The problem is that I can’t unsee those videos of children, just like my own little one, lined up at a row of sewing machines instead of playing in the park. I can’t unsee the place where they slept, or stop imagining that old wooden broom in the corner being hastily snatched up to beat them with, or used to prod their little exhausted bodies awake to push out more fucking Levis. I can’t unsee what went on with those chickens, or the cows, or the pigs… although it’s a little tiny bit easier not to give a shit about the animals, especially before dinner, I mean, but I saw it. I can’t go back to before that time. As hard as I try to push it down into the back of my mind and defiantly carry on living my usual carnivorous life, and as much as I make excuses; We all need to eat to survive; My family needs affordable clothes and I can’t be held responsible since I didn’t personally abuse anyone; Those kids have it bad but it might be worse if they lose their jobs; It’s not my fault that people are greedy dicks; It still remains there. Seen. Known. My guilt comes from knowing and doing absolutely nothing.

So I guess I do give a shit. I give lots of shits.

To be honest, I think humanity is doomed. I don’t think there’s a chance in hell that we pull out of this death-spiral before we’re just obliterated (which is why I didn’t want kids). I think we’re all dead and we just don’t know it yet. But as long as there’s life there’s hope and so while I have no power to change anybody else, I’m going to have to start trying to make some better choices for myself. Ones that help me sleep easier for whatever time we have left.

It wasn’t our fault. I mean, if you look at us, we are all basically slaves to the game, and pawns on the board. The people you love, and the people you hate, the people you consider your rivals, the rook, the knight, the bishop? Yeah, we’re all in the same boat, and if we don’t cut out the petty shit, we’re all going to drown together… in an acidic ocean, with no signs of life left in it, other than excruciating stinging jelly fish. We look at issues like slavery and racism and wonder how it was allowed to happen. How absurd is it that we fail to realize that if there are any future generations, they will look back at us with the same disgust, contempt, and lack of understanding. WE ARE PAWNS AND WE ARE BEING USED!!!

The Revolution will not be televised.

It’s not going to be a mass event. It’s not going to be a collective epiphany. It’s not going to be a million views on Youtube, or life or death likes on Instagram. It’s not going to be the neat and tidy ending to a Hollywood movie.

It’s going to be about the work, not the show. It’s going to be a quiet midnight prison break. It’s going to be the slow realization that the emperor has no clothes. It’s going to be an evacuation; quickly, quietly, calmly, and one at a time. It always starts with one. And one by one by one by one. It’s my turn, and I’m ready. Bring it on.

The revolution will be not be en-masse; it will be anti-masse. Because en-masse is what’s killing us. Mass produced garbage. Mass produced meat, mass produced clothing, mass produced electricity, mass produced water. These things are unnecessary and they are killing us.

I recently moved. From my old home I brought a little off-shoot of a lilac that I’d always admired. I’m not very good with plants. I usually kill them. But I was pretty determined that this one live. I bought soil and planted it in a large terra cotta pot. It began to die. The problem was that the root (earth) couldn’t support all the branches, and so the leaves started drying out and falling off. I tried trimming it here and there, but it just kept dying – slower, but still clearly dying. It looked hopeless. In a last-ditch effort I took my clippers and clipped down to the top of the stem where the branches had begun. I was left with nothing but a thin stick protruding from the earth. I thought all was lost. Here’s what I have now:

img_6627

The branch on the left represents clean water, the branch on the right is wifi. The sun gives us the power, and anything else is dead fuckin weight. *glares at Toronto Hydro*

We are all going to die if we don’t clip out that which our roots can’t bear. It’s not my place to force anybody to clip anything in their own lives, but I sure can do some pruning in mine. I have to believe we can do better. We’ve come a long way and maybe we can go all the way before it’s too late. There is a deadline on this and nobody knows exactly when that is, but we know it’s fast-approaching, and it’s been a long time coming.

So, I’m going to do what I can to buy local, and small, and to DIY where I can. I’m going to grow some things myself, and I’m going to make big cuts to the mass-produced stuff that we do buy. I’m freeing myself from this dependency. I’m going to do what I can with where I’m at, and I’m going to keep going in that direction.

Our production should be spread out and small. We don’t need slave labour in order to have clothes. I actually know how to make clothes! I knit, I make my own soap, I do it just because it’s crafty and fun, but also because I don’t really like the clothing options that major manufacturers provide, I mean, I won’t even get started on ladies fashion but to sum it up: not one person on this earth actually wants to wear a suit and tie ever. They’re just brainwashed into believing they do because a suit and tie is associated a money reward, as well as elevated social status. It’s associated with fancy. They don’t actually like that stupid lapel shit, or those stiff, choked up collars. I’m sure everyone would much rather work in track pants. Plus they haven’t even changed it up much since the dawn of the industrial era. I mean, why does everyone cling so tightly to that old-timey crap? Oh, you’ve made it sleeker so it looks super-modern now? Well give Karl Lagerfeld a billion dollars because we’re all freaking idiots! I mean, its GOTTA be time for a change! Maybe a much less butt-wipey and pretentious locally stitched tunic that didn’t give carpal tunnel syndrome to a six year old who only made a nickel out of that deal. And patch up the fucking rips! I can’t feel good about working a child into the grave because my shirt got a fucking hole in it. I just can’t. I’ll wear my holes and tears with pride… or just mend them myself.

Don’t get me wrong. There are many things that absolutely need to be mass produced. I don’t think anyone should drive around in a car they made themselves, or try to make their own batteries or car seats. Obviously anything toxic or dangerous should be made safely by professionals who know what they’re doing. We’re still dependant on things like driving our cars, and getting butt-raped by Toronto Hydro every other month (Seriously, LUBE UP! That cock is massive and caked with the electric shards of the countless hopes and dreams they’ve dick-slapped into oblivion). We’re slaves (NOT CUSTOMERS) and we can’t just snap our fingers and be completely free tomorrow. Much like the unfortunate Andy DuFresne of Rita Hayworth and the Shawshank Redemption, we will all be butt-raped many more times before we see the light at the end of the tunnel.

132

You know what time it is. Bow-chica-wow-Ouch! Oh, God, it hurts! Please, for the love of God, NOOOOOOOOO!!!

The Revolution will not be online.

I’m tired. I’m tired of being brainwashed and used to hurt children, animals, and the planet, all while lining rich men’s pockets. I’m tired of pretending I still have the bliss of ignorance. I’m tired of being a burden, and I’m tired of knowing I’m a burden, throwing my hands up, and not taking any responsibility. Less than the cost of a cup of coffee a day isn’t enough to help me sleep.

I’m awake now and coffee had nothing to do with it.

The Revolution has put you in the driver’s seat.

I never meant to have any children. How I ended up with one wasn’t my fault. But that doesn’t mean that I can’t step up, choose to take on the responsibility, and do my best to be a good mother… and father. I’ve always said that just because an issue isn’t our fault, doesn’t mean we can’t step up and take responsibility for the solution. I say do what’s right, even when everyone around you is doing wrong. They’ll answer for their choices, but it’s you, alone, who will answer for yours. And I say to my son, when he’s considering an epic meltdown or a tantrum, that he’s right now at a crossroads. He has a choice that I can’t make for him. What’s happened has happened, and that won’t change, so what’s left now is that he can choose to make things better, or he can choose to make things worse.

This is not our fault. But we can take responsibility, and I’ve made my choice.

The Revolution is live.

Note: I’m guessing most people caught this, but I used part of Gil Scott-Heron’s 1970 poem and song, The Revolution Will Not Be Televised in my rant. Here are some sources: YouTubeWikipedia – Lyrics

These are the lines of his that I used:

The revolution will not be televised.

The revolution has put you in the drivers seat.

The revolution is live. – His line was, The revolution will be live.

Summer School

I’ve worked out an entire summer school program for my son. It used to be that he did whatever he wanted, while I did everything else. We played together and stuff, but I wasn’t really teaching him anything except how to play around all the time, and I think that’s where I’ve been going wrong. He’s getting older, and it’s time he starts learning some responsibility. I’m also including him in some of the stuff that I have to do. I’m hoping it will teach him empathy and responsibility, as well as how to do things for himself. He’s already doing much better.

For reading and math he has a summer workbook, everything else is on me. I make sure he gets outside everyday for fresh air and exercise, and I try to catch every teachable moment I can and use every chance to talk to him. He’s understanding me now better than ever before and he really needs to start learning this stuff. He’s pretty far behind, like, he’s going to be in special ed next year. Literally getting bussed to a different school on a short bus in a class with about six or seven of the slowest kids in the entire school district. That’s how epically he’s failed his first year of kindergarten. It’s how epically I’ve failed him as a parent.

I am a pretty relaxed parent. It was the first years of his life. I didn’t want to start putting all this pressure on him right out of the womb, man. I kept it easy and fun, but I may have let things be light and loose and way too easy for too long. It frustrated me because some stupid part of me actually expected a child to pick up the ball and be like, hey, she does an awful lot around here, I should probably pick up my own toys and not scream at five am anymore. Obviously that never happened.

Having doctors and teachers and the principal of his school in constant contact and having to listen to how tough it was for him, and for them, it was a real wakeup call to find out how far out of control and behind all the others he was. We had our own chill vibe, but the kid can’t get along in the real world at all. That’s the problem and it’s entirely my job to fix it – not be his chill vibe buddy. I mean, maybe when he was a helpless little baby and needed a chill vibe buddy to respond to his needs and provide before he could even want, but those days are long ago, man. Long ago.

It’s time to adult the shit out of this.

We’ve just moved apartments and it’s the perfect time for a change. I need to change my image as a parent, and my style with my son. I’m not his maid anymore, and I’m not his slave anymore. I’m not his chill buddy. I’m his mother.

I’ve done up a schedule, it has house rules, my responsibilities, his responsibilities, and what the goals are for the summer. It’s bananas. “Bob” is my top priority and, while it’s too late to change what’s happened, I can at least make sure he has a great start and the best possible chance for being reconnected with his friends and his home school for grade one. Grade one is when shit gets real.

A lot of the stuff “Bob” used to get away with isn’t going to wash anymore. I’m not going to be afraid of him or his meltdowns. He’s starting to understand when I say that we will go home and he’ll be punished and I don’t lie to my son. If I say something is going to happen, it happens. It always has, but I just never really threaten him… until now. It’s actually working. He’s taking me pretty seriously and he’s not too thrilled, but he’s not heartbroken either. He seems to want to learn and have personal attention. He tries to play alone all the time, but when I force him to play with me, after a brief meltdown, he’s pretty chill about it. Sometimes he even wants to keep hanging out after the game/lesson is over which is sweet. He’s so inquisitive and adorable!

So, I guess to end this on a positive and maybe even a hopeful note, I think I’m actually starting to settle into my permanent sort of mom self. Not the baby-slave who answers every cry and is exhausted and longing for only peace and quiet, and maybe a night out or a day at the spa… desperately… where was I going? Yeah, the frantic new mom has fluxed, or is fluxing, into the stable mama-rock. The one who means what she says, has a look that actually works and isn’t laughed at and taunted, and is firm, fair and consistent. I’m still the mom who provides before he can want, but now I’m providing him with education, and independence… in addition to all the other stuff too. I’m making sure he gets everything he needs, not just whatever he may want.

Do I have any regrets?

I regret not moving sooner. This new place is much more suitable and healthy for us and I think the move will definitely play a good part in any improvement we experience. We’ve been here three weeks and already there’s been lots of improvement. My summer school program can only increase the benefits.

I kinda don’t regret being so chill with him for the first bit. If you look at the royal kids, I mean, yeah, they’ve got all the money in the world, but they have to always behave and carry themselves certain way, they can never just be themselves. They present themselves as who they’ve been taught to be, not as who they truly are. They are like plastic people masks. So many people look to them as indicative of what and who to be, but they aren’t even real. It happens to royalty and celebrities on a severe scale, but really, it happens to all of us. It starts in kindergarten, sometimes sooner. We start taking away who they are and telling them who it’s okay to be. We need to do that in order to have civilized society, and I know my son has to learn, same as everyone else, but I wanted to just save him from it for as long as possible. Let him have as much time as I can give him to just be real and natural, human and only himself. I’m really glad I could give him that and I don’t regret it. I regret that it has to be over, but I think he’ll still do really well in the world, despite his unfortunate kindergarten crash and burn… then explode… then burn some more… then fall down cliff and explode again… then smoulder for a while… then burst into epic flames, once again… *sigh* it really was that rough. The bottom line is that we’ve always been tightly bonded and working together seems to only be bringing us closer together. He can trust that I just want him to be happy and learning how to behave, listen, and follow direction at school will definitely make him happier in the long run. When I realized we needed to move asap, I thought that our summer was going to be ruined. I was so devastated, but everything has worked out so well. I kinda think that this may be our best summer yet.

Nothing’s Free

In the early nineties I worked in a sandwich shop. It was my first real job. I hated it. I didn’t even get to serve people the soup or sandwiches. I cleaned tables, washed dishes, and mopped floors. Apparently serving people their lunch was a privilege I had to earn. My boss was an asshole. Of course he was, he worked in customer-service. All that shit he had to smile and eat every day from the customers, he couldn’t spit it back out in their faces, so he spit it at me. We worked in the lobby of an office building at Bay and Bloor. The building was so tall it could intimidate giants. Mirrored glass and a stone exterior made it strong and beautiful. All day heels clacked importantly across the champagne coloured marble floors in the foyer. Shiny-shoed and finely suited men, and well dressed, hair-slicked, and lipsticked women would come into the shop for lunch. We braced for the noontime onslaught of customers. Nobody cared about me. I was invisible. None of those customers ever asked me how my day was, and in the off-chance that they did speak to me, it was only to prove some point to their minions about how graciously they could suffer the plebs. For some reason, however, I wanted to talk to them; for them to know I was a person. I felt compelled to tell them that I saw them and ask them if they saw me. I wanted to explain what I was doing working in this shitty sandwich shop, and what a complete jerk the owner was. How he made me take the napkins from their discarded trays and, if they didn’t look dirty or used, return them to the dispenser in order to save money. How he let dirty dishwater splash into the big pots of soup when he impatiently snatched dishes from my wet hands to show me how to wash them faster, forget about clean, it was all about speed. It sickened me. I’m sure any of these people would be happy to wait a few extra minutes for a properly washed plate, or a soup less likely to be laced with bacteria in traces of their coworkers’ minestrone backwash.

Every day I wished for some excitement. I’d look out the window, up to the top of the towering grey skyscraper next door and imagine the man of my dreams confessing his undying love for me and plunging to his death, my name still on his lips, shattering his body the way I shattered his heart with my sad and fearful rejection, terrified of angering my big-daddy who kept me locked in a tower, and entirely weak and dependent. Then these people would know my name.

But alas, my suicidal Prince Invisible never came. I kept mopping floors. I kept dealing with my asshole boss, his asshole wife, and the biggest asshole of all, their kid. I was kid myself, an outsider, not from wherever the hell they were from so of course they gave me all the shit jobs, of course they made me get there early and stay late after every shift so I could finish doing an actual good job of mopping their floors, for free, of course. They said if I was faster, I wouldn’t have to stay late, but if I was faster, then it wouldn’t be done properly. I don’t even know why I gave shit. Fuck their floors and fuck their dirty dishes. If they went a little slower, if they cared a little more, then maybe they’d be serving good food instead of dirty shit soup.

I didn’t even last two weeks. I was at the phone-bank in the foyer of the office building, telling my big-daddy that I had quit. He was thrilled. He was against it from the start. The last thing he wanted was for me to find a way to wriggle out of his hooks.

“You were right.” I said. “I can’t do this. They’re always making me stay late. I can never just leave when it’s supposed to be over… Yeah, I’m leaving now – finally! I’ll see you at home.” I hung up the phone and their son, who wasn’t much older than me, had snuck up behind me.

“I don’t ever want to hear you complaining about this job to anybody,” he hissed at me. “If you can’t do the work then don’t bother coming back.”

Fuck you! Is what I wanted to say. This job ended half an hour ago when you STOPPED FUCKING PAYING ME! But I just stood there, saying nothing, until he stormed off with a disgusted snort.

Something about the furrow of his brow, the curl of his lip, the way he squared his shoulders; he was thrilled to finally have someone beneath him the way that he was beneath his parents. He knew his father would be proud of him, telling me off. I knew it too. He revelled in his moment of tyranny, obviously not hearing the part about how I’d already quit. I’m sure he felt really big, but to me he looked so small and so trapped inside himself. If he’d just gotten to know me, maybe he’d see that we weren’t that different. I wonder how he took the news when he walked back into the shop and his father told him that he was being demoted back to table-clearing, dish-washing, floor-mopping bitch until another sucker came along in response to their perpetual ‘Help Wanted’ sign in the window.

The End

This short story started as a writing exercise from my textbook. I already read an edition of the textbook, cover-to-cover, but I am now reading the newest edition and working through a selection of the exercises. This assignment was to think of a past job that I held, and then write a fiction based on it. I won’t say how much of this is true, or how much is fiction, but I will say this, the sandwich shop was at Bloor, but not at Bay & Bloor, and I wound up describing a different building because I could’t remember what the actual building looked like. I’m sure that sandwich shop is long gone, though. My focus, for this story, was significant detail, as well as painting the scene so the reader can actually picture it in their mind. Point of view and theme flowed naturally – although I worry the theme and meaning of the story might be a bit too subtle. Please let me know what you think! I tried to pay attention to pacing as well so I think the story flows nicely and has an appropriate balance of long, meandering sentences, and short punchy ones. Again, comments and feedback welcome!

The Seizure

Today kinda sucked. I almost died. I know what happened today could have killed me, and near-death experiences have a weird effect. On me, since I can’t speak for anyone else.

So, my son and I have been battling pink-eye. I say battling because the antibiotics haven’t been working. Somehow I got re-infected in the opposite eye than the one that had it in the first place and the bottle of drops they give you is so tiny that there isn’t enough to go through another treatment without going back to the clinic for more drops.

I knew I was infected but my son, Bob, wasn’t showing any symptoms. I decided to keep him home and bring him with me to the doctor, in case there was an early warning sign the doc could pick up before his eyes literally turned pink and starting oozing with nasty.

So, he was there and being good for a little while, then, as it goes with five year olds, he got bored and started getting loud and rambunctious. I tried to calm him down and when he refused to listen, I put him in a time out. He tried to run from the time out and I reached out to grab him. That’s when it happened. I broke a nail. I broke that bastard right down to the quick. There was blood. Blood and I are not on good terms. Then there was the pain, also not on good terms. I managed to get a bandage on, but within seconds I knew what was coming. They’ve been happening since I was a kid.

My family called them fainting spells. They happened very rarely, years apart, but whenever something too unpleasant or painful happens, it’s like a part of me just checks out and the rest of me is left in a jumbled, writhing heap on the floor. The term epileptic seizure had been tossed around, but I clung to fainting spells. They sound more pleasant and romantic, less severe. There was nothing pleasant or romantic about what happened to me in the clinic.

I did what I knew to do. Sometimes I can stop it. I steadied my breathing and got low to the ground. I tried to save face by sitting on the floor, but soon I was on all fours trying to steady my body from swaying. The room grew very hot.

“Hey, are you okay?” A man’s voice reaches me

“I’m not good with blood,” I pant. My sweaty palms press into rough grey carpet as I use my last strength to try and crawl to my son. He has stopped trying to run from me and is standing still, his eyes are wide and white.

“Hey, I think this lady needs-“

Brilliant blue sky and pristine white clouds envelop me. I am vapour floating high above the earth. I am a small part of a vast universe. I am only my soul. I am invisible, and weightless. I feel no pain, I feel no sorrow, I feel no joy, no hope, no pressure, no need. I feel only space and freedom. Before my surroundings fully emerge into focus, I am lying on the rough grey carpet and worried faces are peering down at me.

“Do you know where you are?” A man who wasn’t in the waiting room before is kneeling over me. He looks calm and assured.

“Where is my son?” I croak.

“He is okay.” A female voice. The man tries to repeat his question but I break in.

“Where is my son?” I demand.

“He’s fine. We took him in the other room so he wouldn’t have to see this. He’s playing with toys.”

With that a tentative calm washes over me, but I still need to see him. I know things are bad. I am very confused. I relax into the carpet, trying to regain my wits. The man is a doctor. The ladies are nurses or secretaries.

He repeats his question. I answer. He asks the other people in the waiting room what happened. Then he turns to me, “So, seeing the blood is what triggered this?” He asks.

“Yeah,” I mumble. “I’d really make a terrible doctor, huh?”

He smiles, “Well, your sense of humour is back.”

It’s usually my first defence in embarrassing situations.

It takes a few minutes, but soon I am ready to try standing up. They’d like to move me into a room. The doctor and the secretary &/or nurse, a large, well-groomed, and attractive black woman, help me up. That’s when I look down.

“Oh my God!”

“It’s okay, don’t worry about it,” they are quick to reassure me, but I’m mortified. I’ve peed my pants. It’s quite too soon to find anything funny about this. I start to cry, humiliated.

The black woman comforts me.

Soon I am being helped onto the examining table in the doctors office. I’ve seen my son and I know he’s alright, but he looks a little shaken up.

“I need to take these pants off,” I protest. But I realize I have nothing else to put on. I have no choice but to lie down in my wet pants. They bring me ice packs, I am burning up. The doctor tells me I have had a seizure.

They are very composed and caring. It hasn’t dawned on me yet how lucky I am, that this has happened in the best possible place, and how much worse this could have turned out for me, and for my son.

The doctor comes in and checks on me a few times, the ladies freshen my ice packs and care for my child. My baby comes and holds my hand… for a few seconds before running off to cause trouble. He keeps trying to lock them out of the room. He will be the death of me, but I don’t think death is really all that bad.

The doctor returns to the room and is looking me over and asking questions.

“This actually isn’t even why I’m here,” I say. “I’m here because of the pink eye. We took the antibiotics but it came back. I point to my infected eye and he leans in to take a look. I can smell my pee wafting up, I’m so fucking embarrassed.

“I don’t think that is pink eye,” he says, apprehensively. “It looks like a ruptured blood vessel in your eye.”

“No,” I insist. “It is pink eye, we’ve had it before and I used the antibiotics, but it came back. I’ve been using the leftover antibiotics so it might look a little better than it did yesterday, but it’s for sure pink eye.”

“No, it’s a ruptured blood vessel.”

I’m confused. It feels like we are not talking about the same thing. “Um, do you have a mirror?” I ask.

He starts to say no, then turns and digs one out. He hands it to me. I start to get dizzy again.

“Take it!” I cry, and he’s quick to slip it out of my hands before I drop it to the floor. I writhe around on the table, trying to prevent my body from feeling all fuzzy and disconnected. The last thing I needed to see was more blood right now, and here my eye is full of it. I try to get the image out of my mind. It takes effort.

“It didn’t look like that before,” I groan. “Oh my god, my friggin eye!”

“It may have been associated with the seizure. You say it wasn’t like that when you came in?”

“No, not at all. It was just like normal pink eye. It was a little bit pink and goopy.” The white of my eye now has a dark red splotch of blood that gets worse above my eyelid. I don’t have the stomach to find out how much worse. I feel nauseous and they bring me some cold water, and a bowl to vomit into. The doctor agrees to write a script for the pink eye and my son is uncharacteristically well-behaved for the moment. I am grateful for both.

It takes some time but soon I am well enough to try standing. I do my best to clean up the pissy table, I remove the wet paper and the paper gown they laid down and dispose of it. The doctor has given me another paper gown which I wrap around my waist, and for the first time on this sweltering spring day, I’m glad I brought my rain jacket, which I wrap around my waist over the paper gown.

I stumble out, legs weak and shaky, and face the people in the waiting room again. I’m beyond humiliated now. The pity in these faces cuts like knives.

“I forgot my prescription,” I mumble. The secretary tells me to sit and that she’ll go back for it, but I don’t listen. I’m happy to get away from all the probing eyes. I still have to face the pharmacist, who got a front-seat view of me pissing myself. He wordlessly fills the prescription, and I’m glad that he doesn’t explain things. He knows we’ve been dealing with this for a while now.

The doctor has insisted I see the neurologist and that is a great idea. The secretary gives me an appointment card and calls me a taxi. My son and I wait outside in the fresh air. I feel like a wrung out sponge and just need to get home to my bed.

I thought I was pretty cool with death. We’re all given a life, we all owe a death, and we don’t get to decide where, when, or how we pay up. But I still felt sad and I cried a bit when I got home – mostly for my son. I don’t want to die and leave him. He needs me. I need at least another twenty years and I haven’t been promised so much as the next minute. You just never know.

My sister called, which is unusual for the time of day it was. Then the first thing she asked me was how I was feeling, also unusual. We aren’t even twins and we have that telepathy. Of course I broke down and told her. The only thing that stopped me from calling her first is that I didn’t know what she was up to and didn’t want to worry her if she needed her focus to be elsewhere. I am okay and it was unnecessary.

A friend, who couldn’t pick us up from the clinic, brought us Mc.Donald’s, along with a finger splint for my poor hand, and washed our dishes since I didn’t want to get my torn up nail wet just yet. I’m so grateful for the few good friends and family I have. I don’t want to die, but if it has to happen, I can honestly say, I’m satisfied with how I lived. I don’t want anyone to stop living just because I do, and that crazy funeral idea I had, with the Michael Jackson? Yeah, that is totally happening!

My Funeral

A friend of mine was recently asking about songs for a funeral. Nobody had died or anything, I think she was just feeling a little glum. Hmm, maybe depressed? Oh geez, I should have asked…

hmm…

oh well…

I’m sure she’s fine.

Anyways, I started thinking about the arrangements I wanted for my funeral and I know I don’t want it to be sad. I’ve never been comfortable around sad people – my reaction is usually to make jokes until the person cheers up and usually it works, but sometimes it doesn’t and when it doesn’t, it REALLY doesn’t.

I’ve thought it out and my first funeral song, to welcome everyone to the service, is going to be I’m Never Going to Dance Again, by George Michael.

Guilty feet, I’ve got no rhythm, though it’s easy to pretend, I know you’re not a foo-ool!

I think it’s perfect because people will be like, “aww, that’s sad. She’s never going to dance again.” But they will also be like, “what the fuck kind of song is this for a funeral?” So, it sort of sets the tone that some weird shit is about to go down. Then the lull of the regular funeral monotony lures them into a false sense of security like, “that was a weird song, but maybe it was just a one-off’. Then, probably after the pastor makes it very clear that these were my final wishes and that he had absolutely nothing to do with what’s about to happen, the whole room darkens and the first ominous tones of Michael Jackson’s Thriller boom over the loudspeaker. So now everyone is thinking, “what the fuck is she up to now?” While this is going on, they are secreting my corpse out of my coffin through some type of trap door. As a distraction, other coffins, that have been set up along the sides of the venue and explained as extras that are for sure empty, will slowly open, one by one, and out of each will come an eerily costumed dancer who begins to move and gyrate to the song. Hopefully at this point some of the audience will have begun to lighten up a bit and sway to the music. I mean, it’s Michael Jackson, regardless of who just died, how can you not sway?

As the song reaches climax – you know that part with all the scary screaming? my coffin slowly starts to creak open. People freeze in horror, mid-sway as another dancer, dressed as me but with rotted zombie makeup slowly creeps out of my coffin. The other dancers dance their way up to join her at the front just as the beat drops, and the whole place goes wild, simultaneously breathing a sigh of relief, and resuming a more frenzied sway to the music, with only one or two onlookers anxiously wondering where my corpse went.

It’s going to be so freaking AWESOME! I’m only sad that I won’t be alive to see it.