Turning Points

Today I turn 30.

I struggle with milestone birthdays. 25 was a hard one, too. At 25, I was on the verge of a completely new life – single after many years in a relationship, a young daughter in tow. I came out the other side, obviously. I survived 25. I moved on. I did what I could to put the pieces into some semblance of a picture.

But 30?! I had all these plans and ideas of what my life would look like by now. A white picket fence sort of thing, with a doting, successful husband, a few children, a few pets. A garden. A front porch with a swing. A fulfilling career for myself. By 30 I would have all of those things. Wrapped in a perfect pretty bow.

I can still have those things. I know this. But it felt like 30 was a deadline and if I hadn’t achieved every single goal and dream by then, I’d be a failure. And so for the past few days, I’ve been feeling like a failure. I wanted to stay in today and hide from the world and not acknowledge anything or anyone.

But I didn’t. I went for supper with a few friends. We laughed and talked and had a good time. I’m glad I didn’t hide. I know ‘age is just a number’ and it’s ridiculous to think that life somehow ends at 30. I’m remembering to breathe and to remind myself that life now is good. Not perfect. But good. And that’s okay.

There’s loads of time for me to get what I want.

I am being very intentional about how I spend my time and where I put my energy now. I want love and compassion and reliability, so that’s what I put out into the world. I do my best to be kind and to be understanding. When I feel sad or frustrated, I take time to actually sit with the emotion, hold onto it; I acknowledge that shitty feeling and then I let it go.

It’s not easy, of course. I have a tendency to dwell on negative thoughts and feelings. Stew in it. Or push it down and bury it until there’s no room left and it all comes out at once in great howls of despair.

I don’t want that anymore. So I’m trying something new. I’m going into 30 with with as much hope and confidence as I can muster. That hope and confidence is a tiny, flickering flame right now, but it will grow.

I’m sure of it.

Fragment VI

There are fates much worse than death.

She knows this now, more than ever. Lying curled up on the warm wet floor, blood and water swirling together like a macabre painting left outside in the rain.

Spending eternity wandering the darkness alone… Being chained to a boulder, eviscerated over and over by razor sharp beaks, with no hope of salvation… Or forced to torture others, skinning them alive, unable to stop your blade from slicing and slicing…

Yes, there are many fates worse than the cold starless void of death.

There would be no light at the end of the tunnel. No dead relatives waiting with kind smiles and outstretched hands.

Not for her. Not after what she’s done.

A sharp, shrill noise, like keening, makes her raise her aching head. At first she thinks it is someone – or something – attempting to break through the beautiful gilt framed windows above the overflowing bathtub.

Her eyes slide away from the windows to the locked door. Blinking, her heartbeat slows, pumping the last of her blood from her body…

The door bursts inward, hinges splintering, and suddenly someone is shouting her name.

“Leave me alone,” she whispers. “Let me go.”

The Things We Do…

 

neighborhood

Prompt: Description of the devil recruiting a new servant.


The devil is drawn to tragedy.

She inhales the despair and savours it on her tongue.

Lucky for her, this world is rife with tragedy.

The flavour of the day is vengeance.

Beneath the bows of a weeping willow tree, she watches the police cars drive slowly away from the scene at the tidy cottage across the lane.

A woman sits on the front step, head bowed. Her long blonde hair falls over her face and her shoulders shudder with sobs.

The paramedics have come and gone. The neighbours, drawn outside of their homes by the earlier commotion, have melted away.

Thick clouds darken the sky. The devil makes use of the shadows and is mere steps away from the blonde woman before she is noticed.

“Go away,” the woman pleads weakly. “I have no time for you.”

The devil grins. “Yes you do, Rachel. You now have all the time in the world.”

Rachel slowly gets to her feet. She roughly wipes her tears away with trembling hands. She does her best to appear strong and unafraid. Her bloodshot eyes meet the devil’s piercing gaze.

“The deal is complete. What a fine job, too. Truly well done, Rachel. So much blood!”

The devil proffers a delicate, beckoning hand. “Come,” she coaxes. “There is much to do.”

Stream of Consciousness

Happy April, everyone!  I hope this month brings much joy and renewal; I hope you take time to breathe and just be.

The creative writing workshop I participated in ended recently. I want to share a few of my favourite submissions. The following ‘story’ is a freeform, stream of consciousness exercise that I really enjoyed doing. Let me know what you think!


red-plumeria-flowers

(Warning: blood/gore/mention of assault)*

  1. Confessing to something terrible – Stream of Consciousness

I can’t stand the smell of plumeria anymore, they remind me too much of our last moments together, the rows of trees thick with blossoms, long grass cool against my bare legs, the night air warm and sticky…I just wanted to keep you with me forever, we could be on a sailboat in the Mediterranean Sea or lazing in the hot springs in Reykjavik but instead here I am in this dismal basement and you’re six feet underground by now unless those wild dogs I noticed got hungry, picked you clean, and scattered your bones…It was supposed to be a romantic evening, we were trying again at this relationship thing but I slid the steak knife from dinner into the deep pocket of my dress before we left just in case, you hurt me once and I refused to let you do it again…When we found a secluded spot I thought to myself I can’t get any happier and then you kissed me and I was floating, until you pinned me against a tree the bark bit into my back and you gave me no space to move so I pleaded, not like this not again…You promised never to hurt me again don’t you remember? I could barely breathe but I felt the knife still in my pocket and you were so surprised when you saw the glinting blade then you laughed and tried to take it but I slashed your cheek, not too badly it was like a scratch I just wanted you to STOP…We were both angry, forgive me, I lost myself in it, the power the blood the control it was transcendent, please forgive me I can’t live like this!

Wordy Wednesday

I have so much I want to write. So many new ideas, on top of insights and questions and observations… But I’ve been tired. Bone-deep exhaustion fogs the majority of my waking hours; I don’t know what it’s like to not be tired anymore.

Today’s word is a happy one:

Redolent

Redolent has two definitions in the Merriam-Webster dictionary that I enjoy very much:

  1. exuding fragrance : aromatic
  2 a : full of a specified fragrance : scented

  • “air redolent of seaweed”
      b : evocative, suggestive

  • “a city redolent of antiquity”

 

Isn’t it such a beautiful word?

Wordy Wednesday

The word of the day has been buzzing around in my head since yesterday. Does that ever happen to you? Do you ever get a word or a phrase stuck in your head?

It happens to me a lot. I try to write them down in my notebook, or on a scrap of paper, or the notepad on my phone.

Today’s word is:

Mellifluous

Mellifluous is an adjective. It means a pleasantly flowing quality, suggestive of music; it tends to describe voices. Synonyms include lyrical, mellow, melodic, and musical.

To me, Patrick Stewart, Ian McKellen, Jim Morrison, David Gilmour, Billie Holiday, Cate Blanchett, and Tracy Chapman are among the people with the most mellifluous voices. Morgan Freeman has a mellifluous voice, too, of course, but that’s an easy one.

It’s interesting to me that the most pleasing voices are low, deep, and slow, and therefore typically masculine. Antonyms of mellifluous, like grating, are used to describe higher pitched female voices. Hmm. When you think of someone with an irritating, grating, squeaky, or monotonous voice, whose do you hear?

 

Fragment V

Another taste of the story I’m writing…


The call came in the middle of the night.

She woke with a start, her mind still in that foggy place between sleep and wakefulness. She could not tell if she had been dreaming. This was good; lately her dreamlife was made of memories of rot, of bodies beaten and broken and screaming for help, accusatory eyes staring holes into her soul…

She sat up and dug around the couch cushions for her cell phone. When she found it and saw the display, she cursed loudly.

2:30 a.m.

Her mother was calling. She let the phone ring and ring, wishing like hell the bottle on the coffee table was full and not pathetically empty. In the darkness, she moved from the tiny living room to the tinier kitchen. She set the phone on the counter just as it stopped ringing.

She counted, one, two, three, four, and yanked open the freezer. The pretty bottle of vodka nestled between the ice tray and bags of frozen veggies was supposed to be for special occasions. Or so she told herself.

She didn’t bother with a glass. She unscrewed the cap and on the third burning gulp when her cell phone rang again, she almost felt prepared to answer.

Only when half the bottle was gone did she finally pick up.

“Hi, mom.”

“My God! Finally! I’ve been calling you for almost -”

“- an hour. I know.”

“You’ve been ignoring me.”

“Been trying to.”

“Are you drunk? What’s wrong with you?”

“I’m fine.”

“Don’t lie to me. You’re an awful goddamned liar and I can’t deal with your shit right now.”

“Right, mom. Sorry. It’s all about you; I forgot. Spit out whatever you have to say so I can hang up and we can go back to our merry little lives.”

Silence.

She thought her mother had ended the call but then, quietly: “Your gran died. The funeral is in two days. Show up, or don’t. At least you can’t say you didn’t know.”

She pulled the phone away from her ear and clicked the small red ‘end call’ button. She brought the bottle of vodka back to the couch with her and stuck her cell phone back into the cushions.

Her mother’s words were crushing. So she took a deep, shaky breath and then took another drink. And another.

Soon she was floating; there was a blissful nothingness here, a numbness where her brain did not fret about the future or agonize over the past.

Sleep took her with a quickness typically reserved for the dead.

Fragment IV

A cool breeze flutters the curtain. The midafternoon sky has turned dark; thunder rumbles in the distance. This is his brother’s time. But the brother is dead.

Lightning crashes and Summanus appears at the front door.

I wait on the other side. My hand hesitates. Around all others, I am easily able to disguise my feelings and thoughts. I cannot hide anything from Summanus; he sees into my mind. He watches the machinations tick and whirl.

Or, at least, he used to.

I open the door. Summanus has his fist lifted to knock again; his dark eyes meet mine and he unfurls his fist. He cups my cheek gently, stroking his thumb along my cheekbone.

The tenderness is entirely unexpected. The god of night lightning has never been known for being affectionate.

“You’ve sent your minions away, Euryale. You did not wish for them to hear you come undone beneath me, hmm?”

I recoil instantly. “Shay and Thira had business to attend to on my behalf. Exactly what business is none of yours, so please do not ask.”

Summanus raises a dark brown eyebrow and lets his hand fall. “Invite me in, my love. Lest I stand in this wretched rain forever and catch a chill. You wouldn’t want that, now, would you?”

I roll my eyes. The rain has not touched his human vessel. I stand aside and let him enter. He kicks off his boots an I close and lock the door. The magickal wards will be ineffective while he is here.

A chance I take only when a god visits, I assure you.

Fragment III

“He left me to rot; to die alone in misery; heartbroken. He crushed me under his boot, cracking me open like the carapace of a brittle spider. I tried to curse him. I did. But the more magic I used, the weaker I became. It would have been easier – still it would be easy – just to die. But purpose has kept me here in this wretched world. She came to me. Enveloped me. I was reborn in the darkness. I am alive in the night. Blood keeps me and sustains me. In my loneliness I succumbed. I created others. They left me, as well. I cling so hard, squeeze so hard; I suffocate, truly.

Yet I endure. For Thira. For you.”

Fragments II

“I’ve got a lead.”

She scrubs a hand across her face. She is paler than usual, and I can tell she has lost weight. The dark smudges beneath her blue eyes cannot be hidden with make-up.

“You have had leads before.”

She glances away, flinching a little at my tone. I should be nicer; she has not slept well in a very long time.

I have not slept well in longer.

“Yeah, well, this is real. Not some kid playing pretend like last time. I made sure. Before I came here.” Now she holds my gaze and I see a glimmer of the old Lindy Crow, the indomitable force of nature that slit my throat with no hesitation ten years ago.

I nod, thoughtful. I believe her. “Would you like a drink?”

I do not bother to hide my smile when I see the fear flit across her features. “Of what?” she asks. Trying to sound casual.

Standing, I smooth imaginary wrinkles from my silk gown. Her eyes stay on my hands. The thin black robe I pulled on earlier has fallen open. I tap a crystal tumbler with my fingernail and she breaks from her reverie. “I’m having vodka, darling. Shall I mix you a double?”

“No. Uh, no thank you.”

“Nothing at all, then? Are you sure?”

The crystal catches the lamplight and sparkles. Lindy watches me pour myself a drink with naked want. She wets her lips and replies, “Water. Just water.”

Full glass in hand, I move from the silver service cart to my desk, a carved mahogany monstrosity that I refuse to part with. I buzz the kitchen downstairs where I know Shay is camped out in front of her laptop. “Please bring our guest a bottle of water. The door is open.”

Lindy says, “I have photos.” She reaches into her cross-body bag and fishes out a white folder covered in smeared fingerprints and ink doodles. She places the folder in the middle of the low, oval table between us. The table’s silver and pearl inlays also sparkle in the light. Once Lindy had marveled at the opulence of this room, jokingly calling it the queen’s receiving chamber.  The thick white carpets, the opalescent touches, the silver candelabra, the gentle scent of roses, all give the room a royal air. The French doors leading to the master bedroom are ajar. Lindy cannot help but glance into the darkness beyond.

I take the folder and remove the photos. I parse through the stack slowly. Some are grainy images taken from a security camera. Others are blurred shots from a cell phone camera. I hold onto the clearest image and let the rest fall to the table.

There she is, my pet. Caught under a streetlight at dusk. A knit cap is pulled over her blonde hair, and the collar of her navy blue trenchcoat is flipped up. She has watched too many silly spy movies. There is a nondescript stocky looking fellow standing next to her.

“Who is this man?”

“I don’t know yet. But – see that, on the back of his hand? I know that symbol. I know where to find him.” …