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beginning again

improvement within our lives
is something that we strive
to accomplish daily.

at least,
that should be our goal
when we awaken from
our daily slumber
and work through another day.

so that is why i am here...
staining my fingertips
with ink that will not wash off easily;
seeking advice,
wisdom and knowledge
from those who are already
accomplishing more in their writing.

give me your honesty
your criticism
and your truths
for without those vital factors
i will never grow.

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The Purple House

Love

Eros came out of heaven,

dressed in a purple cape

—Sappho

 

My house drives like a big purple Valiant with the suspension of a kids’ jumping castle. Floating is not an issue. We go many miles but move not an inch. I am sitting at my desk, typing. Deanna sits on the couch behind me, facing the other way, listening to music. The child in her belly is mine; this is supposedly a fact. But I'm in no way certain that it is. It’s not an issue of infidelity. No. It’s just a novel event, defying assimilation.

     There is no way to broach this appropriately... 

     …Even if I wanted to, which I don’t…

     The house seems to hit a few potholes. The ride is still pretty smooth and easy to take in. The walls are beige. The curtains are a different shade of beige. We've not hung much from the walls as yet, but there is one painting that sits directly in front of my desk. It's an abstract, and it conjures, for me, what the sight of a torn mind might look like, like a skull busted or shot open—blasted, blood-mottled black hair and splattered brain, lashes of dark universe and a spot of brilliant light, like the victim was killed at the very moment of conceiving the thought which might’ve saved the world. Dashed by unfortunate timing.

      Typical.

      'I'm going to the corner shop, do you want anything?' Deanna asks, suddenly appearing by my side and bumping her pregnant belly into me. I look up, she's smiling angelically, on the precipice of a laugh; the half-eclipsed ceiling light haloing her beautiful face. Thoughts and a feeling of bravado toward saving the world come to me, now, then rush away again in an instant, into the purple mood of the house.

      Typical.

      ‘No, I’m fine,’ I say. She leans in to kiss me. The house suddenly hits freeway. We are driving on clouds suspended on packets of air. I’m spinning my marshmallow wheels, accelerating. 

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Beneath their beautiful eyes

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The Virgin

I feel a wanting in the strangest parts of myself now. If I am left alone it grows. I stroke my wrist against my check. The arch of my foot I rub along the back of my leg. The webs of my fingers I pull up and through the hair at the back of my neck. My outside, my edges, has become magnetized to touch. When I was little I never felt this, and it scares me now. My body wants to feel itself. It tells me things. It asks. It begs. Rebecca, take our clothes off, lay down in the forest, naked in the wet, dead leaves. Let us feel what the humid air does to our skin. Rub the leaves over our breasts.

He sits with the boys at the shaded end of the field. They burn piles of sun burnt grass with matches. It is hot in the gloomy sunlight. A film of sweat gathers along my spine. It is sticky in the folds of my knees. He doesn't ever look my way; playing with fire. I wish we were swimming. I wish he would find me before the bell rings and sneak us out of school and take me to the river. We would swim in our underwear. We would be pulled together in the rapids. We would lay together on the hot riverbed stones and our skin would dry and I would touch the delicate furrow of his philtrum above his paper thin lips. I would tell him how the angels pressed that groove before he was born and he forgot what it was to be a soul.

In the mornings my body is clammy with dream melt and wanting. Echoes of the desires I ran with through the night whisper from behind my bedroom curtains. Touch us, Rebecca. Use your fingers. Feel the cotton. Moan quietly into the pillows so your mother and father can't hear you.

The long grass feels like an invisible cloak. I lay down in it and I am gone from the world of things and people. There is only myself and the vertigo sky. There is only the grass and gravity. There is only my wanting; wanting to be touched. Touched by myself. Touched by him. I have become dizzy and unravelled by my own skin. It calls out to the elements and the boys with scraped knees and sunburn. Touched by him. Rebecca, touch your stomach. Feel us inside there, wrought and frantic. Our skin is like peach fur, it wants to be eaten. It wants to be swallowed deep into the salt of this world. 

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The Depressed Waitress

Her eyes move quickly across the room, though, she hardly looks up, from the coffee cups, the billfolds, the floorboards she treads from the counter to my table. Her arms are thin, her elbows and fingers raw with eczema. She wears a pinafore with sneakers. She is beautiful in sneakers. If she speaks one foot will hide behind the other, like an infant behind a mother. Her nails are black and her hair is ash and carbon. She bites her bottom lip when she is thinking. She smells the bag of coffee beans when she thinks no one is looking. Her stockings are always black. Her makeup is always thin and wispy. And her freckles, thankfully, she never manages to hide them. Her hands are worried. Her shoulders are heavy. Her voice is hushed and running through long grass. What are you reading today? she always asks. I smile and show her the cover. One foot hides behind the other. Who reads Hermann Hesse? she asks. Someone wanting to impress, let's say, girls with Latin tattooed on their wrist. A laugh escapes her petite anatomy, sudden like a firecracker.

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Words aren’t pretty, but that’s okay too. I think they’re clunky, ugly. Bent and folded like crumpled pieces of paper. Littering the earth and everyone in it and leaving them with pockmarks and indentations too deep for fingers and too shallow for mouths to drink from. I find lies in things like glass bottles and cranes and whale bones, and say things like I Don’t Care, when I do. When caring is all that’s left and Not Caring isn’t so much a choice as it is the state of doing Nothing. I find beauty in Nothing too. There are no words for it, but it fills the cracks of all things, flows and drips into this reality and whatever reality there is, or could ever be. I cup my hands to catch it and its cold like metal and smooth and polished and pale. Because that’s something they’ll never tell you, no matter how hard you beg. Nothing feels like Something. I know don’t make sense and I guess I’ve stopped trying to. I’m worried about finding footing, and saying exactly the right thing at exactly the right time, and I’ve given up on that too. I want endless rain and cold, and I want it feel like everything there ever was. Like when you’re moving through a parking lot in the rain and look up at the lights to see tiny drops of water flying into your face like little lines of white. I want words like that. But all I can say is clunky and unfettered and slow, and nothing that’s polished even knows my name.

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She wouldn't say no to an adventure.

Sirens raced into a near distance, like all other days in between crazy streets.

“Hey Mister.” An unfamiliar voice crept up from behind my back and as I turned around standing there was the most peculiar kid I had ever seen.

She was at least four and half feet tall, her hair is almost comparable to an autumn day in New York, a subtle mix of a sunset sky most people have the luxury to see. She wore faded jeans and a pink shirt; ones you see most children her age wear. You can’t miss it. Though what really caught my attention was this purse she was carried in her hand.It is the not of things, one that clearly didn’t belong in the picture.

“Yes little girl? How may I help you?” I crouched a bit and brought myself down to her eye level. I thought to myself how and why on earth is she alone is such a busy place, where and who could her parents be?

She smiled at me for a bit then suddenly, her expression changed from a slipping sunshine into brief hints of rain.

“Mister, do you know where I can buy this little white stick where magic smoke comes out? My mother does magic all the time though she needed to buy some more because she’s almost out.”

She caught me off guard there for a while as I couldn’t even begin how to answer her question. I had to think for a moment, but I was interrupted shortly after she started to tug the sleeve of my shirt.

“Hey mister, mister! Is anybody home in there? Where can I buy magic sticks for my mother??”

She kept on tugging and I swear a if I didn’t stop her sooner my sleeve will be torn off.

“Magic sticks?” I stood up and fixed my sleeves. Scratched my head as she gazed upon my curious face with such innocent intent.

“Yes, magic sticks. I need to hurry or else mother will go to heaven!”

What she just said enraged me.  I can’t even begin to process how wrong all of this is.

“Where is your mother?, I have some magic sticks here that I don’t need. I will gladly share some.” 

“She’s waiting for me by that place where everyone’s treasure is kept. She works there you see and she just let me go out through her secret door all by myself. She says it would be a nice adventure for a change and I am not the type of kid who backs down from adventures. I am no trapped princess! No sir!” She giggled and my heart cracked into two.

She mentioned her mother working at a bank. And the nearest one was at least five blocks away. Goodness. I am surprised how she got this far by herself. 

“Okay then. Let’s go save your mother.”
“AAALRIGHT! Let’s go mister! My mother doesn’t like to wait long!”

We went back to her mother’s workplace only to find dozens of ambulances and police cars all crowded near the entrance.
I felt this blunt pain inside my chest as I finally realized the truth behind the scheme of things.

She was silent and my heart broke into pieces.

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No Answer

Your mother didn't answer her phone. She had left hours ago, off to collect the meager "bonus" she was offered at work. It was a few extra dollars from the manager, your grandfather. It was Christmas Eve, the sun had gone down hours ago. You were supposed to be in bed. 

You call again. 

Your younger brothers are all asleep. 

No answer.

Maybe your brother knows where she is. He is older. He is responsible. He has his own flat.

You call him.

He picks up the phone and slurs a "hello," at you. You hear a crash and some swearing. He can't stop laughing. The voices in the background laugh too. 

You hang up.

Call Mom again.

No answer.

You look next to you on the couch. An aging quilt that always rests on Mom's lap stares back at you. It has been folded.

It is never folded.

You swallow your fear and try again.

You keep calling. 

Never an answer.

You sigh, giving up. You make your way slowly to your crowded shared bedroom and lay down, stroking your dog for comfort until you drift off.

 

You don't wake until the afternoon. It's Christmas, but the only things waiting for you in the living room is a small trinket offered to you by your hung-over brother. You watch as he drinks countless cups of coffee and your younger siblings play with their gifts.

You ask about Mom.

No answer.

He offers to bring you and your brothers back to his apartment for the weekend and you agree. It is the best gift ever. He is grown up. He is cool. He has his own apartment in the city.

You spend a few days there, in the city. You fall asleep to gunshots and a cacophony of inebriated slurs from the parties held in the next room. 

Every day you ask about Mom.

No answer.

 

Finally, it is Monday. Mom knocks on the door in the morning. Your brother is dragging himself out of the shower to get ready for work. 

You ask where she has been.

No answer. 

You say good-bye to your brother.

No answer.

 

The drive home is quiet. The rest of the day is quiet. Everything in your chaotic home is quiet. She does not wish you a merry Christmas. She does not bring you a gift. You do not ask for one. 

When she goes to bed, you stare at the crumpled old quilt next to you on the couch.

You beg it to never be folded again.

 

No answer.

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People Who Can Fly

It looks ridiculous. Nobody really knows what they’re doing, so they all do these ridiculous little things they think are important. I know one guy who flaps his arms like wings, like an eagle. It’s brilliant. This little guy with arms like saplings, standing high on a hill and swinging them back and forth at the shoulders in these huge, powerful strokes – as if his arms actually caught the air. As if it actually took some effort. Except that’s not really a fair thing to say, because it does take effort. It’s really hard. Not the flapping, that’s easy. But the process of… I don’t know. Getting in the mood. Getting in the right frame of mind to lift yourself off the ground and into the clouds. That’s why this guy flaps like a bird, because it means something to him. It doesn’t do anything to the air or whatever, but it helps him up just the same. Me? I take a run-up. I go about twenty metres back and run, and when I’m nearly there I start jumping really high and bringing my knees up to my chest. It’s fucking stupid. I just jump like that until I don’t touch the ground anymore. It looks so bad. But it helps me, you know? It gets me in the air.

Not that I’m particularly graceful once I’ve taken off. People don’t cut easily through the wind. Too many big, wide surfaces and weird protuberances, so when I’m actually in the air I’m constantly in this awful balancing act. I’m not very good at it. I still tend to flail a lot, and I’ve only just learned not to panic when my balance goes to shit. Because you can’t panic. Once I nearly lost a leg because I panicked. You’d be surprised how easily legs can just snap off, and you don’t even need to fall that far. The doctors thought I was a failed suicide and made me go to a therapist until I was better. He was a nice guy, but he didn’t know what to do with me. He knew I was holding something back. I sure as fuck wasn’t going to tell him what really happened, so eventually he had to let me go. I feel sort of bad about that. I wish we’d stayed in touch. I liked him.

I can’t teach you how to do it. Like I said, everyone has their own way. You’ll want to practice somewhere nobody can see you, because chances are you’ll look just as dumb as me, running and banging my knees into my chest. Maybe you won’t, maybe you’ll just jump into the sky fists-first like a superhero. But I’ve never met a superhero.

Just make sure you practice a lot, where nobody can see you, so that when you do come out and show someone – if you show someone – then at least you’ll look like you know what you’re doing. We’ll still laugh at you. We’ll laugh because you’ll look like a dick, but you’ve got to remember that everyone looks ridiculous, and that’s not what matters. Nobody really laughs at someone who can fly. Not really.