Wednesday, August 2, 2017

computer

glowing, faceless
the light shines on my bare, swinging breasts.

i write nude
i fuck nude, i bathe nude, i vacuum nude.

wet, dark
the waves of eternity swing me in pendulum.

i am falling
asleep, i am falling?

i am asleep?


Saturday, July 29, 2017

one and only life

I see a spider crawling near me and I feel reflexive fear, and next automatic protection: protection of the spider from my fear, and my ability to kill it.

Other, worse days, I see a spider crawling near me and fill with a quick and mean rage, and on those worse days, I might kill the spider. I regret every spider I have killed that was not crawling on me in bed or poisonous and near my children.

I do not want to take the life of any single living creature. But I kill the fleas on my dogs and poisonous spiders near my children and sometimes, ants. When I watch the fleas going down the drain I think the entire time about their deaths. I wonder about being a flea. Kafka could imagine the bugs. I like to slip inside the life of everything I encounter for some period of time, small or large, and feel from inside out the true body of that life. The perspective of something tiny. The perspective of something enormous. How, to the enormous life, I am the tiny speck of flea, the thousands of ants, easily dismissed, krill soaring in the millions through the gaping baleen mouth of the blue whale.

Life in any form is miraculous. It is the true miracle, the parting of waters we wait to see has already parted, and the head of new life slid from inside the wet. 

I tell my children from the time they are gently the exact same thing when contemplating the hard, blisteringly black back of a beetle, or the tiny working arms of a fly: 

this is it's one and only life. it is not up to us to decide when it ends.

and they accept this of course so easily, because I am Their Mother. 

To spend your life highly aware of the miracle and singularity and astonishment of that life and of every life around you can be highly uncomfortable and sometimes slide into miserable, but it is also the way a godless speck like myself can without effort find meaning in this insane world, inside the miracle of an ant turning it's bulbous head to look my way, the round eye of the robin at our birdfeeder, the one-eyed baby possum looking at me with his one eye left (the other side a gaping hole from the claw of an owl) and I can see, as clearly as I can see my own hand, that this baby possum is thinking,

are you going to end my one and only life?

No, no, no, I sang to him as he circulated his tiny round ear, I am not. 

I want everyone and everything to turn an eye to something more powerful than them and to see in that large unknown thing that it only means good.

Wouldn't that be something?

The baby possum went to the Wildlife Preserve with Lola, and the woman picked him up and turned him left and then right before smiling at Lola. 'He'll be just fine,' she said.

The next night at dinner outdoors, we were visited by another baby possum, this one with both eyes in place, and a rat and a mouse.

Ever threw them food and curled up with the flashlight until all the tiny legs stopped moving in the bushes.


Sunday, July 23, 2017

a list

watch Egyptian documentary
sleep
wake late
be with babies
drink iced espresso
eat
work, a little
clean
do this, and that, also swimming
husband
gym
family
food
books
writing
social media
eating
cleaning
family
pets
other
settling with darkness
documentary,
show,
book,
bed,
lavender oil at the chest,
over the heart,
fear, fear, fear
images of suffering,
comfort,
solitude,
fear,
determination,
acknowledgements,
tremblings,
vulnerability,
darkness, darkness, 
small lights,
self-talk,
thoughts of....
sleep.


children, husband, family, love, only.




Friday, June 30, 2017

Latest Publication in VICE TONIC: An Illustrated Guide to Opioid Overdose



My latest work: An Illustrated Guide to the Process of Opioid Overdose

I was happy to be able to refer Rena Medow to VICE TONIC for the illustrations and to see her amazing work here is gratifying. I love supporting women esp. up and comers <3 p="">


Saturday, June 10, 2017

Llenar el vacío

she thought of a story when she saw the butterfly, which landed on the back of her daughter's hand and launched immediately. immediately she knew she would never write the story, because because, porque, because, all of that. so there was already the beginning and ending, now just to fill the middle.

tiny thing, suburban wing
suffocate, suffocating.
the moth cannot fly
when held, her wings
lost dust, clouds move,
now you will be silent,
now you must be silent.
tiny thing, suburban being
your heart is slowing.
here, eat this dirt.
remember your childhood.
here, slap my face.
remember your rage.
here, suck my swollen mouth.
recall your desire.
here, sleep in the grasses.
reclaim your bones and breath.

Tuesday, May 30, 2017

fundamentals

all the suffering in the world. i love you. if i can help you, i will. i can't always. but if i can, i will. and i won't make you feel like shit for asking. unless you are an asshole.
and like Jen Pastiloff says, don't be an asshole. simple life rule.

you know, i fell in love with Mr. Curry partly because he loves people like i do. from afar for the most part HA
but also,
he would give his life for someone. he would.


the fundamental things apply,
as life goes by.

Thursday, May 25, 2017

love, first draft

i remember everything about you 
the jeans you wore when we were eighteen
a chevy nova that smelled like sex and cigarettes and oil
god i loved that car
your teenage room where 
we first had sex how
i stripped naked in the lamplight and stood as proud as could be,
Athena, commanding you to sex 
and you were just going to be a great time with a safety net,
but when you pressed your mouth onto my mouth
i closed my eyes and tried not to cry
because love was spilling out from our bodies
out through my eyes and through the crack underneath your dark door
into the hall, where your parents, trying to watch tv
looked backward and then at each other and smiled.
what took you two so long,
your dad asked me weeks later when it was obvious 
we were a thing.
i couldn't tell him the truth, any of it,
but i couldn't hide it either.

i did everything i could do not to fall in love with you.
my car broke down at the community college 
i called you, feeling scared,
the parking lot was enormous and dark and i was alone
and i didn't want to be raped.
come help me, please, i said,
but there was no question
i never questioned if you would come help me,
of course you would and of course you did,
to Alaska or down the street at 7-11.
sitting on the curb and trying to be reasonable
about fear,
the light turned purpling blue, my favorite evening-tide.
into that tide you rode,
inside your big truck, i saw you coming and i stood

you pulled into a random parking spot and slid out of 
your truck and then sat on top of the hood.
you lit a cigarette and took a drag,
and smiled at me
waiting for me as i walked through that dark parking lot
now blue-black and lit with scattered street lamps.
and i walked toward you in that goddamn beautiful light
your hazel eyes glinting at me,
and i knew that i had never and probably never would
have a more perfect moment of romantic love.



Monday, May 1, 2017

Tuscon, Arizona



We took a family trip, Friday to Sunday, to my good friend Taymar's home. Taymar and Max, her husband, and their two boys, Caspian and Benny. Their home is gorgeous and used to be a ranch house and connected houses. Now two of those connected homes (all of which circle round a stone paved courtyard with glorious trees with circular stones around them in the center) are rented out as AirBnB. We stayed in one of those homes. 






Saturday, April 29, 2017

Rest In Peace, Megs

Someone I didn't know   
hardly knew

died. She died, and her name was Meghan, or Megs. She was thirty-six. I have never heard her voice or seen her face in living person. I have seen her photos, in which she is a beaming, beautiful, brown-haired, brown-eyed young woman with glossy hair and the kind of face that you would trust your child or your dog with. 

She had reached out to me through FB messenger about a month ago, I responded, and we'd been back and forth since.

She died in a car crash. Her husband was driving. He's in intensive care. They don't know what caused the crash.

Megs was always writing me about someone else, not herself. She was always asking about how to help others. She was, I know from only my microcosm of interaction with her, a person with an exceptional capacity to love. And she is gone. And it's a fucking travesty. 

I am so sorry for her. It's so wrong and so bizarre that she was just sitting there, like I am right now, clicking away at the keyboard and asking me a question, yet everytime I go to look at her message to me and mine back, there is never a green light that she is on Facebook or a click to show she read my message, because she is dead. 

I cried today and felt foolish because it's nothing to do with me, but I feel like writing this because I knew her in a small way and was impacted by her existence, her life, and because it's a loss for all of us that she is gone from this world. She had so much left to do.

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Published Essay: Brief and Bizarre History of Dog Shit

The knock on the door came at 9:30pm. I was half naked, my kids asleep. Pulling on sweats, I answered the door with a bad feeling. What else but bad news knocks on your door at 9:30pm? It was my neighbor in his own sweats, trembling, his already popping eyes bulging even more out of his head, curly grey hair moping along the forehead. He began talking before I could even open my mouth. I’m sick of it! Look at this! He held up a black bag. Piles of it, I’m sick of it. It’s not MY dog! Pick up after your dog! He threw the bag at my feet, on my doorstep, and stalked away.
I stood at my doorway, pursing my lips. What to do? I squinted at the bag of shit. Hm. There is a bag of shit on my doorstep, I considered. This is worthy of some action.

Saturday, April 15, 2017

Translation


Ever and I had a blast last night
that girl is fun
we are in that best friend stage. with Lola i got so, so blessed and she stayed that way until just this year, at fifteen. Lola is still my best friend, but i'm not hers. she'll come back to me. but meanwhile, she is growing up and a certain kind of separation has to happen at some point, to find out who you are without your parent as your person. they begin taking steps toward this that get bigger and bigger and bigger until they leave. 
it hurts and it is beautiful. it makes me cry with tears of joy and pride and tears of sorrow and grief. grief for the inevitable passage of time and the small deaths that also make up life.


here is Lola with her bestie, Lucy, on vacation over Spring Break, with Lola's bio dad Keith, who takes these girls on awesome trips. can you even believe how large and how tiny life can be? who can hold that reality in their bodies? that's why reality isn't made to be held on to. just translated as it comes to us. i couldn't love my children, all four, any more. i can't contain the love i have for them, so it flies out from me in tears and laughter and whispers and words and banging on the keyboard and cooking and praying and kissing and hugging and saying 'i love you' over and over, so many times every single day since Dakota, the first, was born, that far from being meaningless, those words are the mantra of the heart of life, i love you, i love you, i love you.


Tuesday, April 11, 2017

Spring Awakens

The things I've been doing the last two weeks are working. I am feeling again. 

The two things that have made the most difference are joining a gym, so weightlifting and cardio, and focusing on being in the moment with Ever.

It's a touchstone for me. Whenever I get lost, I move toward meditating on the unconditional and what gets me the most- trusting- love that my kids have for me. They TRUST me to be OK. They trust me and they desperately need me, more than they need anything...until, you know, they get older and suddenly that changes. But Ever is still there. She is six, and I am her world. Her face, her beautiful, like I can't stand how cute she is, how precious, how beautiful, face, looks at me with pure unadulturated trust. 

Somehow that expectation, that trust in me, allows me to trust in myself, and in life.

This Spring Break, Lola has been gone, and it's Ever and I. Long hours of gardening and playdates with friends and walks with the dogs and dates at Starbucks. Tonight we lay in bed for two hours giggling and climbing under the sheets and playing 'let's attack Ever because I love her so much and she's so cute' and this game we play all the time the last few months, which is I say Ever I love you,

and she says Mommy I love you more,

and I pretend to be horrified that she would say more, and we take it from there. 

You should just see her face when she looks at me. How could I not feel that? I could not feel it, if I didn't concentrate on it, if I didn't stay with it. If I didn't allow myself to trust that right now is all I can control or contain.

That's the trick to so much, so much of life. Just stay with it. Just be there. Right now. I'm all in. I'm in my body, typing this. I can feel these keys underneath my fingers and these tears rolling slowly down my cheeks and my feet, slightly cold, and my hair, a little too tightly wound on my head, and I can see the darkness encroaching around the lit computer, and I can feel the way that a little girl needs her mother, and how hard that mother fights to just be there, for something so beautiful, and so precious, really the only something that matters, or will matter, which is of course, love.

Sunday, April 9, 2017

Something Is Wrong and You Will Feel It

I've had periods of depression throughout my life and now I am in the second month of one that has gone from bad to worse rapidly, scaring me. To scare yourself is hard to do in this stage of life where the dinners are made and the children busy and the wedding band worn and the jobs secured, if not bringing in enough, still there, and the pets are getting older, you are getting older, everything hard gets harder. 

I listened to an 'associated Ted talk' (what the fuck does that mean, IDK) and it was unpopular at the time (gauged by the audience's tepid response and lack of applause) because the speaker is saying depression is often not a mental disorder, and we treat to many varied groups of symptoms as depression when they are not. now i am someone with a family history of mental illness, who takes Zoloft. so i can speak. i say that he has a point, but that he didn't address the shades of grey, at least not well enough, and that's crucial in this discussion. but his point, even as someone who takes a medication and who is extremely glad i can and do, has validity in our culture, where if you are deeply sad medication is usually the first resort. this doctor was speaking to the depressions that we experience as a message from our inside to our out, saying 

SOMETHING IS WRONG AND NOW YOU WILL FEEL IT, LEARN ABOUT IT, BECOME INTIMATE WITH IT AND PROPERLY ADDRESS WHAT IS WRONG INSTEAD OF A BUNCH OF POSSIBLY RELATED THINGS THAT AREN"T REALLY THE ISSUE

because let's be honest. How do we change? Pain. Discomfort. Misery. Most human beings are completely disinclined to change things if they aren't actively causing pain. 

My shoulder, for instance. It's been bugging me for a year. Maybe more. And it's probably getting worse, and if I don't do anything, it will probably become some big, painful fuck that I'll have to address. But I haven't done anything. Because it's not. that. bad. And because it is a pain in the ass to do something about it. Money I don't have. Time I don't want to allocate. Money. Oh I said that already.

Also reasons why I myself avoid, off the top of my head, are:

I have no idea what to do about 'it'

I am scared of what 'it' might be

I am scared of what I might have to do if I deal with 'it'

I am scared of disappointing other people

I am scared of hurting someone

I am scared of making someone angry

I am scared of failing

I am afraid of losing something 

I am afraid of possibly unearthing deeper, more profound pain and prefer to simmer in pain-lite

etc.

I've been seriously depressed for two months and as I listened to this sort of Ted talk, it was immediately clear to me that although I have a prediliction toward mood disorders, this one wasn't 'out of the blue' or because the weather changed or because i'm low on iron or because my dog keeps pooping on the carpet or because I'm worried about my novel.

There is a 'reason'. 

Guess what?

I have no idea what to do about it.

I am scared of what I might have to do to deal with it.

I am scared of hurting someone, making them angry, losing someone, failing, and pretty  much of my own shadow some days.

But guess what.

I have felt a little bit better since I admitted to myself why I can barely get out of bed, why I can barely eat, why I cry everytime I'm alone, why I feel dead inside, why even my most favorite things hold no allure or comfort, why I can't stop picking at my skin, why I look old and tired, why my body aches, why I feel so deeply alone and afraid.

I have felt a little bit clearer.

This weekend I stayed offline all weekend, as I usually try to do from Friday afternoon on. The last week I have done off and on all day meditations. For me, a meditation looks like this:

I take Ever to the park, she plays and I sit under the trees and listen to the birds and watch the trees move and the water move and feel the sun on my skin and do not force my  mind to think or not think of anything and I do this for long stretches of half-hour or so.

Or I do this in my backyard. Or on a walk.

I focus on these things:

What I am doing and not how I am feeling.

Manual labor, like gardening and cleaning and organizing.

Taking care of my children.

Caring for my physical and spiritual health.

I am depressed and I am seeing my psychiatrist this week. But when she offers to up my meds or try new ones, I will say nicely, let's wait. Let's wait a little bit. 

And then I will tell her what is wrong.


Friday, March 31, 2017

death is real

i don't want to learn anything from this / i love you 



Tuesday, March 28, 2017

what does this mean about me

When you love someone romantically, and take a vow to love them in sickness and health, and know they are your person, and can love no other more than you love them, and never had a best friend so best, never had a lover so love, and then that person becomes ill and becomes another person and you are full of hard ugliness, one of the worst things, the upper three worst, is that you don't know if you are good enough. Good enough and healed enough from the trauma deep cuts still seeping, not torrentially blooding but seeping wounds of the first seventeen years of your life, to not only pat yourself whole to raise your children clean and whole but to continue loving in the face of getting nothing you want but also possibly might need to be a person in this world, the way
your children, blue eyed and brown,
need you to be a person in this world,
unless you want them to start with a sigh, 'My mother...' in therapy when they are older, their mother who had a chance to be better and couldn't be any better than she'd managed to be in forty-two years of life.
It's not you; it's me.
It's not me; it's you.
Intertwined means pain in both hands while the rope is pulled out from underneath my palms and I wake up with this stigmata that means
you love him so much
this pain is agonizing
you are the only one to feel it
you are the only one to know it's intimacy and midnight confessionals and bargaining
the only one to know the details, those precious and dark blackened sick coughed up rot of details,
which you as a writer
naturally desire with every bone in your body to expel into words
and spat on the page,
leaving only the clean creation of the thing you wish to build.

Sunday, March 26, 2017

Behind Closed Doors

Finished draining the last of the bright red blood and the tap is rusty brown blood in spots on tissue and in underwear, taking it with it micronutrients and the heartbeat of the body, iron. So much iron. My face pales, I feel the blood pulling in the tide of my heart away from my lips. My lips become smaller and pale. My eyes look startlingly blue against this pallor and the wheat colored freckles of winter's passing.
I am so tired. I am so sad. 
I feel I am in a strange place where everything I can do to care for myself best is something other people don't want me to do and it is seriously beginning to dawn on me that I am 42 and there will never be a time when what I need is OK with everyone else. There will never be a time I can create a life of possibly even happiness without hurting someone else or disappointing them and I know from reading hundreds of biographies just how many women accept and don't accept this bargain. I don't know what kind of woman I am. I am tired. 
You have to become incapacitated for people to relent that possibly you must do what you must do.





What I am tired of:

My husband's bipolar. I was doing very well with it. I am doing 'self-care' or what I am allowed to do. It's not enough, so I am very sad, and anxious, and every night when I go to try to sleep the second I close my eyes I see myself falling from high places of all kinds, cliffs, hot air balloons, the hands of God, 9/11. I open my eyes and sigh and try again. Even during the daytime, when I close my eyes, I am falling from somewhere, someone, something. This has been going on for about four months. I am close to being a single mother for the last five months but it's much harder because (and I was a single mother for eight years so I know) the person who could is right there, inches away from me, or behind a closed door, and I cannot reach him. I feel grief. I feel rage. I feel scared. I feel confused. I feel disappointed in myself. I feel worried that I am not up to this task. And I have to protect the kids from his irritation and depression and lack of interest in them. I have to be his advocate to the kids and help them understand the disease. Meanwhile inside I have the same questions they do, and the answers run head-first into a cement wall and fall down dead.

Being the only one to take care of Ever. She talks all the time. She won't play alone. She is non-stop. She is precious. She is my life. She sleeps with me. We do everything together. We laugh a lot. We play. We shop. We garden. We clean. And every day there is a point where I am so furious that no one else can step in and take over for two hours that I hate myself, because feeling furious makes me hate myself, and it always has. He showers or bathes her every night and that is wonderful, for her and for me. But besides that, there is no one else to keep spirits high, to play, to observe with a friendly nature and answer the endless stream of questions, to teach the endless things there are to teach every day, to do. To be

And the force field a person needs against for protecting against this kind of emanating dark energy requires, demands, a power source that I don't currently have: a traditional belief in God would probably do.

with no speical legend of God to refer to,
with my calm white pedigree,
my yankee kin,
i think it would be better to be a Jew

Facebook and Twitter.

Myself.

Everyone else.

Grocery shopping, sweeping the floor, wiping down the banister, vacuuming, flea-combing the dogs nightly (can't afford Advantage), planning dinner, making dinner, cleaning up after dinner. Lola washes the dishes, thank goodness.

The long struggle every night to sleep; falling asleep in fear.

Hashimotos. 

People dying in horrible ways much too young. All over my Facebook, all over the world.

Trump and everything remotely associated with him.

Exhaustion so deep it sometimes makes me cry.

Feeling embarrassed for being so tired all the time, and looking it.

Unlearning. The older I get the less I know and it's not freeing. It's deeply disconcerting and distressing and leaves me floundering through things that I didn't used to.

Being poor/ish. I am working hard and keep adding clients that I write for, but we aren't there yet. 
I can write about almost anything and do it very well. I do great work. I need more of it.

Children getting hurt.

Thinking about my dad. My sister. How they've been lost to me for so many years now. I'll never get over it.






What I am not tired of:

Beyonce.

Sylvia Plath.

Eleanor Roosevelt.

Love.

Grass, tree, bush, flower, bee, bird, sun, sky, dirt. 

Hot water.

My children. Even when I am, I am not.

Poems, but mostly older ones.

Sincere plainness. 

Sincere flamboyance.

Mozart.

John Irving.

Ottessa Moshfegh. 

Feeling safe. I wish I could get there right now. 


Tuesday, March 14, 2017

My Essay On Pat Conroy, Trauma, and the Power of Books

I wrote an essay here, if you'd like to read it. If you do enjoy it, please click the little heart shape to the left of the screen, and or share. Thank you! Writers are little without readers.




What was so incredible to me–besides both Mr. Conroy’s genius ability to tell a story that you cannot, cannot stop reading, and his breathtakingly beautiful prose– was the precice way Mr. Conroy illuminated how each person in the family had been affected by what had occurred, and how deeply sick their silence, perhaps more than what had even occurred, had made them. Mr. Conroy’s passion for breaking open the secrets of his own family life cost him his relationship with one sister, and the respect of many family members– but what if it gave the man back to himself? What if the way he could truly heal was never going to be in a therapist office, but in the telling of a story. His story. And what if it’s all right that he claimed his own life to tell.

Thursday, March 2, 2017

Wednesday, March 1, 2017

Social Media is a Basic Bitch

The world of Facebook is becoming dangerous to my writing. This is the most pressing issue of my life outside of the obvious, and it's serious, very serious to me, because writing is not only or just 
something i want to do
something i hope to make money off of
something i enjoy
something i'm proud of

writing is for me a survival mechanism. Writing and reading, and they always have been more than just entertaining, more than just escapism. They are the ways in which I translate life, the ways in which I understand myself as a human being and understand other people, the ways in which I turn all the suffering I experience into something else, something I can then use or move with or work with or move past or elevate or change; I can change my narrative:

but only with words that are in fire, and I'm losing my fire inside the never ending roar of Facebook and twitter. Never ending roar of opinions, outrage, demands for attention (including my own), and processed thoughts. Social media is a basic bitch.

Most of the best writers are not on social media. Yes, you can name a few, Joyce Carol Oates being the most obvious, but mostly, everyone I can think of off the top of my head who I revere as unique and brave and truly trying to carve something different with their words, something that takes immersive thought and processing, something that takes confidence, they are not there, or if they are 'there' they are barely there. Even Roxane Gay, who tweets a bit, is almost silent on Facebook, which I have come to see as the particularly troublesome place for writers.

Ottessa Moshfegh

Zadie Smith

John Irving 


If you are a journalist this probably isn't true. Journalists by nature take in enormous amounts of societal input and then create reports with research. 

But if you are any kind of a creative writer, the way your brain must work to produce work that is truly alive, unique, saturated...

Social media is five, ten percent high-quality, and the other ninety percent is repetition or argument or watered down versions of the original idea, framework, creation. I'm not talking about people's personal posts, which is a whole other thing, a wonderful world of listening to someone's inner thoughts out loud, but an addictive world as well. The human interest stories and shares on Facebook are what make it so addictive. 

It feels urgent and important in a way that completely confuses my brain. Like living in an ER waiting room.

I used to take in enormous amounts of poetry and novels. Now I take in an hour a day of poetry or novel. 

I spend an enormous amount of time on Facebook. I get all–100%–of my freelance work there, mostly from private groups I am a part of, and my freelance career has been increasingly successful. I've recently been published in The Rolling Stone and Washington Post and The Guardian and I am very proud of that, very proud of all my publications.

I also finished my novel and it is out to beta readers.

This is amazing. I still can't believe I actually finished it. I'm proud of my accomplishments, very proud.

But. 

I can feel that the part of my brain that cored into the processing center, that created a crystal ball which reflected and illuminated the way I see and know the world into a thousand words that only I could produce, that part is being dulled. Stultified, that wonderful word.

I have been thinking about this for a few years. I realized this was happening and over the last two years I've observed a noticeable decline in the wonder of my imagination and the clarity and fearlessness of my perspective. 

Hillary Mantel

Obviously this is a hundred times more so since Trumplestilskin took over. My Facebook feed is now 50% what is happening in our country (as is right, I myself share on this frequently) and 40% essays and short stories and writing world announcements, and 10% personal- a quick estimation. 

But even before, yes, I could feel it happening, could feel myself going slack jawed and stupid when the feed opens, and the word feed is so perfect, as if I open my eyes and mouth and the stream of feed just pours into me, while I sit as dumb as a rock, taking it all in, and most of it is not the quiet, intense, passionate, intelligent depth of writing that I have lived off since childhood, almost none of it is. 

I am not a snob. I love, without irony, cat memes, hilarious YouTubes, the sappiest music you can imagine, the Kardashians- I don't let anyone tell me what to like or what is worthwhile. Yet the brain is a machine–one we cannot understand, but still–and like the bowel, reacts badly to being fed shit all day e'ry day.

When I lose the ability to write my poetry and my stories and my novels in the fearless and clear way that I have lived off of doing my entire life, I feel absolutely horrible. I feel as if I am anemic. I feel stripped of my power, as if someone had taken my sexuality and smothered it to death. I feel as if I cannot process the world: I am overwhelmed, insecure, more neurotic, and feel that I might be slightly worthless.

Maggie Nelson

My writing has already suffered from the fact that my mother (hi mom) and my children (expect for Ever) do not want to be written about in any real way and I decided to write less, almost nothing, about Ed's bipolar (which I'm reconsidering due to misery from silence). Some writers, many writers, write about people anyhow, regardless of how the person feels about it, but I don't.

But my greatest source of therapy, of solace, of peace, of comfort, of self esteem, has been diminished, greatly, and I have suffered a lot from this over the last three years, I really have. It's depressing as hell. And yet, this is my fault also, but I cannot see the way out all the same. For example, I could try to write things out of my life, and then erase the people somehow. Perhaps I will try this. 

A journal that no one can read? No. This is not it. It must be public, stuck on a door with a pin, or posted on my blog, or published in a magazine, but public, or it loses the magic.

I also know how true this is of social media and my fearlessness because now a days, when I read a novel or memoir, I am obsessed with wondering 'how did they find the courage to write these words?' when my entire, ENTIRE life, I always thought instead 'I will write any words I please, and never care what anyone thinks! Writing is everything to me!' But this was when I was a true outsider, and now I have in the last ten years somehow become finally a person that suburbia does not need to groan and roll about with as if I am a stone in the stomach, and I can pass as 'normal' and I have a better relationship with my family of origin, and I have witnessed ten, twenty, a hundred, five hundred arguments and 'burn them on the stake' chorus' on Facebook over a writer's words, where they said something that offended someone, hurt someone, disgusted someone, and those voices have made a home in my head where the cast of elementary school and middle school used to reside, telling me I am stupid, ugly, weird and wrong, wrong, wrong, now these Facebook judges reside.


How to solve a problem i can clearly identify but have crafted my days around? 

I already avoid FB over the weekend. I try to not go on all together most Saturdays, and maybe go on for an hour Sunday.

It is the rest of the week when I am working, and I am addicted to this great street meeting now, and how do you solve a problem like Maria? 












Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Short Flash Fiction: The Thief

The food here is better than you hear. The bread is terrible, terrible–that's true–it's the cardboard wheat bread you can buy for less than two dollars at the Grocery Outlet on Merch Street, and the beef was overcooked, but the vegetables are surprisingly palatable, the soup very good, the tuna salad I actually liked quite a bit. I'm surprised by the food and the boys, the young men. Not stupid as I thought, not all rude. One young man worked out my seating for me when we were all waiting for a check, and I couldn't get my legs through the chairs. Another young man who everyone calls Chimmy (though his name is James) gave me tips on when to use the bathroom and explained how visiting works. I won't have any visitors, I told him. The only person who would visit me is across the country and has no idea I'm here. Anyhow I'll be out in a heartbeat. 

Once I'd been here an hour or so, Chimmy introduced me to Damarius. Damarius and I got to talking about music and once I told him I used to play bass guitar and piano, you should have seen his face! He asked me about a hundred questions and Chimmy patted him on the back hard once with a big grin on his face. I haven't enjoyed an afternoon so much in years. It's loud, that's true. Much too loud, I'd hate it here for that reason, and the beds would never do for my back. I'm told I need another back surgery but I've refused. One was too many. 

Of course, everyone wanted to know why I was there, that was the first thing everyone asked, and I just told them the truth. I scooped up a bunch of clothes, still on the hanger, and walked right past the WalMart greeter, right out the door, as slowly as I could. Then when the police showed up, I pretended to try to walk away. I got three steps, if that, until the young police officer stopped me and sat me down. Chimmy laughed and laughed. 'Guess you can cross this off your bucket list, pops!' 

I laughed too, I could feel my mouth open wider than it has in years. 'Ahaaa! That's it,' I told him. 'That's exactly what I was doing. Never been to jail and I'm 82 years old.'

Damarius grabbed his chin with a hand and said 'Damn! Ha! What's next? You know, on your list?'

I grinned at him. 'The Tijuana donkey show!' 


Monday, February 27, 2017

Short Flash Fiction: A Strong Woman

I pretended like I needed more ice cubes and looked through his recent calls. He always leaves his cell in a charger on the kitchen counter, so I covered with a cabinet open. If he came in, I could slip the phone in the cabinet, close the door and stand in front of the empty charger. But he didn't come in. Anyway, there was nothing on there. He covers his tracks well, it's been months and I can't find the evidence. He calls his mother too much. Their relationship sickens me a little. Turns me off a little. He needs her too much and she loves it too much. I'll never do that to my kids. I put the phone back and got more ice and headed back in when I saw him close the window shade, quickly. I put my drink down and yanked the shade up, couldn't see her, so I ran out the front yard and looked around, but she'd either crawled underneath a car or gotten away. Back inside I shut the door and made my features into the right amount of deeply hurt and angry yet touchingly vulnerable. 

But of course, I should have known that instead of thinking about how awful I must be feeling, he just covered his hairy ass. We argued for an hour until I left. I'm tired of being lied to, mistreated, cheated on. I don't know if he actually fucks them or not, I'm not saying that. I don't know what he's doing with them, but does it matter? Not to me. To me, tongue or tit, it's all the same, it's cheating. 

The next day I got a call from his sister. Which says so much about him. His mom, his sister, the man can't wipe his own ass. She said she was dropping my things off at my house, would I be home, and that he wanted me to pay for his window! Ha. I threw the glass at the window, and obviously I had no idea it was going to shatter in such a destructive manner, piercing his eye, but on the same note, he couldn't plan on how his cheating was going to blow up. You make a choice and I guess you have to deal with the consequences. So because some ER doctor told him he may have irreversible damage to his eyesight, now he's breaking up. How convenient, after cheating on me while I'm in the next room, I'm in the wrong? Sexist asshole. And his sister is a traitor the cause for helping him- and his mom, for that matter. Fuck them. I'm a strong woman. 

Sunday, February 26, 2017

Short Flash Fiction The History Teacher



I loved my history teacher, though he was a shitty teacher. He didn't call on boys and girls equally, either, everyone noticed. He called on me often, though, everyone noticed. I got a 69% on my midterm exam, and he let me come in to re-take it, which was cool. I almost didn't come in, I hate missing lunch, I love the cafeteria chocolate pudding and french fries so much. My parents never let me eat that shit so I have to get it where I can. But I went in; I made myself. He started to grade it right there, after I took it, and I picked up my jacket and backpack and kind of said, you know, OK, see you later, but he waved his hand with the pen in it and nodded no. I kind of stood there, it was awkward. He waved me to come over. He put the pen down and told me that I did much better on this test, which was good, because my grade in that class was getting bad, and a bombed midterm can be fatal. He kind of made this motion for me to come closer, and I did, and he talked like, into my ear. 

Matt came into the class while he was telling me about my grade, and I thought Matt looked weird. His cheeks were blotchy and he was chewing on the inside of his mouth over and over. Anyway I got my stuff and asked him if I'd have my grade by end of the day, and he said, yeah, and I left. But when I got the girl's bathroom, I realized I forgot my red notebook on the back tables from earlier, and it had my next period homework in it, so I had to go back. I opened the door and that's when I saw, you know, the teacher with his hand in Matt's pants. Matt's jeans were like unzipped half way and he looked pretty fucking miserable. OK? 


Sunday, February 19, 2017

My Short Story: Life, Interrupted

I submitted this twice and it was rejected twice and I'm the laziest so I'm just self pubbing it here now. It's an odd little story that just spilled out of me and I love the thing about it that might prevent it from getting published, which is the ending. So here you go. 



Life, Interrupted

By

Maggie May Ethridge




The day Grandpa came back from the dead they had all fallen into a deep afternoon restitution, brought on by the July heatwave and grief. Diana and Larry fell asleep on the covered porch, Rodger on Grandma's living room couch, June upstairs next to Grandma in her bed and Dingo, Rodger's dog, slept outside under the rose bush, where the hose dripping water had turned dirt into cool mud.

Grandpa was old but, they had all thought, healthy and active. Everyone assumed Grandma would die first- she wasn’t active, complained of migraines and stomach aches and looked generally less hale than tan, fit Grandpa. Diana and Larry had a fight that morning about the burial costs; Larry wanted to pay for part of it while Diana said they had no budge. Rodger was dropped out of college and June worked at the Lancaster Yarn Shop and took classes at night, one at a time, like water dripping out of a faucet, and both kids took up more of their parent's income than they realized. Rodger more than June, because he wasn't working anything but side jobs and kept most of that money. He had two new tattoos and drank at the Dixon bar a few times a week and even paid to have Dingo's anal glands squeezed, but he never bought milk and every week asked Larry to get dog food at the grocers.

June woke to her cell phone and Grandma's sleeping profile, her mouth all bunched up and sad in the millions of sad lines that came before and now scurried together like a big ball of string, tightening her lips into that old lady scowl June associated with her Great-Grandmother, a domineering and mustached woman who had lived until 92 years old, refusing to wear her false teeth and squatting to take a dump in her vegetable garden whenever she could escape her caregiver.

" Hello? "

" Is this June Lobert Caliber? "

" Yes it is. Can I help you? "

" This is Clarkson County Morgue calling Mrs. Caliber, I'm Dee, I work as the coroner's assistant here. I have some startling news for your family… I could not find a number for the wife of Mr. Caliber. "

" They don't- it's a long story. What’s going on? "

" Well I don't know how to tell you this any other way, but your grandfather is not dead. He's alive, and he's been returned to Clarkson hospital. "

" What? What are you talking about? There wasn't a mix up, I saw him myself- "

" No ma'am, no mix up. It's the first time we've ever experienced anything like this, but it appears your grandfather was not dead when you- or we- thought he was. We are not sure what happened. The coroner believes it must have something to do with his pacemaker. "

June wiped drool from the side of her mouth. " He had that in a few years ago. "

" Well, he woke up here. He woke up here. " She sounded disbelieving of it herself.


" Are you sure? Ernest Caliber? 83 years old? "

" Yes ma'am, that is the gentleman. Do you know how we can contact his wife? "

" She's right here. Oh my god. Look, let me talk to her first. Let me talk to her and my parents, and we'll call back. "

" Call me back at this number in the next hour? "

The ride to the hospital was silent, all of them packed in, overheated. Rodger sat with his fat fingers pressing his iPhone, leaving soft fingerprints. Grandma Cora burnt her leg on the metal lock of the seatbelt and rode hand pressed to thigh. She kept her lips compressed to keep from crying in shame. As soon as Juney told her, she knew that it was true- it was just like him, to create a ruckus and stand back and watch it all. He didn't have to do anything. He just lay there and watched it all! She was the one, like always, who had to do all the talking, managing, fussing, worrying. Everything was a game for Ernest, even death. Still, the sharp disappointment she felt in hearing he was alive was a hard pill to swallow. She often thought one of the benefits of being old was that there was nothing knew to learn about oneself. You carried on with the business of life not worrying about what you might do or say or feel. Yet here she was, bitter that her husband was not dead. Not only was he not dead, but he was making her feel badly about herself. And she worked hard for her family, calling, keeping them together, soothing her easily agitated oldest son when he complained about his wife, nudging her granddaughter to wash her hair more thoroughly. She'd gone out on her job hunt with greasy hair and flip flops! No idea how to present herself and less of an idea how to get what she wanted. Unlike Juney's grandfather, who got what he wanted without lifting a finger.

June looked out the dirty passenger seat window and closed her eyes. She hasn't slept well the night before and her stomach hurt. She'd had these terrible stomachaches since childhood, when she'd cry and beg her mother to stay home from school, please, just one more time. The school nurse was a fat faced, soft spoken woman who gave June a cool compress for her forehead and let her lay on the stained cot for fifteen minutes before she'd have to go back to class. June had been- was?- Grandpa's favorite grandchild, the one who inherited his blunt gaze and pointy chin, as well as his aura of self containment. June found that people often thought, on first meeting her, that she was a snobby bitch. It took months, but usually June became a favorite person, loved and coddled by everyone who once couldn't stand her. Grandma couldn't stand this same quality in her husband. She didn't like or understand why he should get so much love and adoration without doing anything for it, especially since she herself had worked so hard to earn love from all her favorite people, including her own mother. Seeing this quality passed down to her only granddaughter did not make her happy. During June's brief period of unemployment, June finally came home one day with a job, but instead of being happy, Grandma was irritated. Why had she been hired, Grandma wanted to know, when she wore a Nirvana tee shirt to the job interview? Didn't that company have standards? June just shrugged, which irritated Grandma even more.

" Shrugging, " she said " is a very passive-aggresive way of saying fuck you."


" Grandma! "

" I should know. I've lived with your Grandfather for 48 years. "

" Grandma! "

Cora made a droll face. " I think we know who I am now, dear. " June thought that the way Grandma said dear was as passive-aggressive as anything June had ever done.

At the hospital Grandma Cora and Larry went in to Grandpa's room before the others, who stayed drinking cafeteria coffee, glued to their phones in the waiting room. Fifteen minutes later, Cora and Larry came walking in side by side. Larry moved his hand over his chin in a downward swipe, over and over. " It's the damnest thing I have ever seen, " he said. " He was dead, Dad was dead, and now he's not. " He leaned forward and lowered his voice. " He woke up half zipped in the damn body bag. "

The family all looked at each other's faces. " Oh my god, " said Diana. " I mean… oh my god. " She spread her hands out in an appeal to the horror. Rodger shook his head and turned around, walked to the wall and turned back around, tears in his eyes.

" I can’t stand that. I cannot think of him stuck in a body bag. Poor Grandpa! " Rodger slumped in the chair and began crying softly into his hands.

" How is he? Mentally, I mean? What did he say? " Diana asked.

Grandma licked her lips. " He's Ernest, he’s fine. He- " here her voice broke because she was a terrible liar, and Ernest had not been OK. For the first time in her life, Cora had seen her husband terrified, shaking and trembling and holding her waist with his bruised arms, telling her that he loved her and he wanted to go home. She had looked at her son and Larry looked back at her, frozen. He put a stiff hand on his father's bent head. " Now Dad, it's OK now. "

Grandma continued, " He's all right. He didn't like it, of course! " This small outburst embarrassed her, and she closed her eyes and took a deep breath. " The doctors said he'd have to stay a while. For tests, and monitoring. "

Larry, still dazed, rubbed his chin. " This kind of thing is illegal. This is wrong. "

Rodger drug his tee shirt over his eyes and looked annoyed. " Dad. Not being dead isn't illegal. That makes no sense. No one did anything to him.  "

Diana said, " He needs mental health services. We should talk to the hospital, Dad's doctor. "

" The doctor spoke with Larry and I. They will be bringing someone in today to talk to him, before dinner, the doctor thought. He said they don't know what happened yet. They have to run their tests, but he felt sure the pacemaker had something to do with it, like the coroner told Juney. They don't want anymore visitors tonight. He has to rest. "

Rodger slumped sullenly in his chair. " I'm going to have nightmares. Major nightmares. This is straight out of Nightmare on Elm Street. Twilight Zone. How are we supposed to- what are we supposed to do the next time he dies? Sit with him for a week and feel his pulse? "

" Other cultures have rituals like that, actually. " said June. " They sit with the body for a certain amount of hours or days and say prayers, light candles, whatever. I guess you're pretty sure someone's dead after three days. "

" That's strange, " said Larry, looking down at his phone, scrolling.

" That's morbid, " Diana grimaced.

" Not as morbid as waking up in a body bag, Mom! " Rodger said.  Grandma Cora put a hand up, her left hand, with the wedding ring on.

" That's enough Rodger, really. " The family all turned and looked at Grandma, her liver-spotted hand trembling in the air. Why, Cora thought, does everyone in this family have to look at a person when something happens. Some people have the sense to look away, give a person room. Cora was suddenly exhausted. " I'm going back in the room now. I'll be here until dinner. " She looked hopefully at them. Maybe someone would insist on coming with her. No. Cowards. She didn't want to back her self- what to say to Ernest like that, whimpering and strange smelling, like sour chicken? Getting old already meant you smelled differently, and if you want morbid, Cora thought, sometimes she thought it was the smell of advanced cell death, which is the polite way of saying rot. Was she rotting? Four of her teeth had fallen out, she had metal in the pudding of her knees and didn't like the way her skin felt paper soft. Recently she had just swiped her arm across a prickly patch of wallpaper and a huge blue and black bruise welled up. As she remembered this, the burn on her thigh began to bite.

Cora thought that now, she had to know a new thing about her husband also, a bad new thing- that he could be deeply shaken. A naive discovery, she thought to herself, stupid. Of course he can be shaken. He's a person, like any other flesh and bone person! Yet the fact remained that in all their years together she had never seen him so. She pictured her husband, how the realization of where he was and what had happened must have dawned slowly on him, shocked and ill, looking down at the zipper and upward at the bright bald lights of the mortuary. Had all those years of reading crime novels allowed him to recognize sooner, see the details for what they were? Cora stood and said, " OK then. "

Diana turned to Larry. " Honey, you should go. Go sit with them. "

Larry glanced upward from his phone at his mother. " I think Mom wants to be in there, you know, just the two of them. " He resumed a solemn scroll.

Cora waved away her oldest son. " Larry you can come back tomorrow morning. You all go home. Someone needs to call Harris. Larry? " Harris, Cora and Ernest's younger son, was supposed to be coming up in three days for a funeral.  Larry nodded.

June spoke quietly. " He's not dead. He's alive. " They all nodded. Rodger hugged June. " Grandpa is alive, " she whispered into his neck.

Larry spoke up, " How are you going to get home then? We all came together? " In their shock, they had all piled into Larry's Chevy, leaving Dingo out back.

" I can take a cab. " Grandma replied.

" Grandma I'll stay. I'm fine, I have nowhere to be, I'll just wait until dinner and then we can get a cab together, " Rodger said.

Diana hugged her son and daughter in one motion. " That's sweet, Rodger. " Rodger was the firstborn and her son, and she loved both her children equally. Yet Diana had overwhelmingly favored raising her daughter. As a result, she fussed over Rodger whenever possible, praising him and running errands with him or for him, asking him about his work on an old Mustang, taking an interest in even the most mundane aspects of his life, showering him with affection. As a reward, she allowed herself to indulge without guilt time spent with her daughter, hiking and watching 80's movies and baking dark chocolate desserts that often ended up being eaten before put in the oven. More guilt- Diana knew raw dough was bad for you; she shouldn't be giving it to June. June, 23 and still unable to hold one ounce of fat on her jutting collarbone and knock-knees. June was the kind of daughter every woman who dreams of daughters desires- the kind that want to be close to their mother, that don't find the softness of their mother’s arms disgusting and the suggestions from experience infuriating.When Diana hugged June, June hugged back harder. Only twice had Diana worried she was losing June- once at 14, when June spent an entire summer locked in her bedroom, playing music, drawing and eating endless peanut butter and honey sandwiches with milk, and then again at 16, when June had her first boyfriend, a sweet young man Diana and Larry had no problem with until he began showing up at their house late at night, drunk. That was a long winter.

Once everyone left for home and Rodger headed downstairs to the cafeteria, Cora sat by herself for a few minutes. She had been in this hospital many times; after Ernest and she relocated here when the kids were 8 and 10, there were broken arms, the time Rodger got a popcorn kernel stuck in his ear canal, worrisome flus, the hernia operation Ernest put off too long, the horrible back pain Cora had late one night that turned out to be kidney stones. Now she was here because her husband died and came back to life in a body bag in the mortuary. She had herself think that again: my husband died and came back to life in a body bag. Then again: my husband died and came back to life in a body bag. She repeated this four more times, but it remained too bizarre to grasp. What, she wondered, would Ernest and I said about this years ago? Maybe in our 40's. Let's say 45. Hey, she imagined saying, did you hear that Peter died and the ambulance took him away, but then he came back to life and woke up in a body bag? She tried to fill in Ernest's response, but could only see his smiling face, a stubborn twinkle in his eye. He would say nothing.



------------------------------------------------

In the hospital room, Ernest lay watching a documentary on fly fishing, even though he hated fish to the point where if Cora cooked it for dinner, Ernest would eat his own food in the living room. He turned his head and gave a half smile. There were shadows under his eyes. " Hello Cora. " She sat on the side of the bed and put her hand on his shoulder, leaning in to kiss his cheek. Ernest touched his cheek where she had kissed it, and Cora was so surprised by this she had to turn her head. She felt the tubes running from Ernest's arms and chests with one finger. She supposed they kept these things temperature regulated, liquids going into a body, out of a body.

" Well everyone's gone, almost, Rodger is eating in the cafeteria. I guess I'm taking a cab home with him. "

" He's a good boy. He's always been such a good boy. Lazy. But good. "

" He wasn't always lazy. "

" No, that's true. But he is now. Laziest kid I ever saw- but good. "

Cora changed the subject. " How are you feeling? Are you in any pain? "

" No, I don't suppose I am. They gave me something when I got here, and it did the trick. I was just mostly sore, anyway. It's not pain, really. Discomfort is the better word. How are you? How have... things been? " His voice faltered.

" Ernest I suppose you know they've been pretty strange. And awful. We thought- "

" I didn't! I mean Cora, " his voice trembling and Cora had the urge to tell him to stop talking, stop until he could be Ernest, " imagine you are just living your life, going about your business in your own kitchen, cooking some of the best bacon in the country and thinking about how the next day, your going to call your oldest son, because he's supposed to help you replace the screens. And you're fine! You are fine with life, and the sun is shining in the beautiful way it does right after its rained, there's some kid yelling outside the house but it's in that insane way kids yell when they're playing and they sound like their being killed, but really, it's the time of their life, and… I had my checkered shirt on. Cora, where's my checkered shirt? " He looked fearfully up at her. " I woke up, and I had no shirt! "

" Ernest, you've had a huge shock. I can't imagine how you feel, what you are thinking. I'm having a hard time myself. It doesn't  seem real, does it? "

" It does, yes, it's real to me, it's horrible, how can this have happened? I lived the wrong life! " He raised his hands and waved them aimlessly. Cora took his hands in hers and pulled them toward her lap. Ernest's eyes had a wild, vacant look. In her fatigue and distress, it seemed to Cora that shadows were randomly appearing and disappearing over Ernest's skin, like fast moving film of dark water.

" Ernest, it's OK. You're all right now. I don't know what happened but the doctors will understand more after they do some tests. It's OK. " At a loss, she kissed his hands, the crackle tops of his knuckles.

" How could they let this happen? An old man in a bag, it's not right, it's not right, Cora, what did I ever do to deserve begin treated like this? " Despite Cora's hands and her voice, Ernest was growing hysterical. " Why did I do it? "

" Do what, Ernest? " She began sweating profusely.

" I lived the wrong life!! " A profusion of veins on Ernest's neck, ropes.

" Who are you angry at Ernest? "

" They put me in a bag, how could they do it! " Now he was shrieking, and Cora let go of his hands, moved back from him with her arms crossed over her chest; a nurse moved past her and then another and another, and they were ushering her out of the room.

------------------------------------------------

Much later, she left Rodger, asleep across two chairs, and checked on Ernest. As soon as his door opened, he turned to her. Groggily he said, " Cora. Come here. "

She again sat next to his body, wrapped and tucked in the white sanitary sheets. " Ernest are you OK? " Now it was her voice that shook.

" I am sorry. I don't remember exactly what I said, I remember shouting. I think I'm confused, Cora. " He looked to her as vulnerable as their babies had been after birth, mouths open waiting for the breast, hands opening and closing, faces turned nakedly toward you with all their humanity laid at the alter. The only time she could remember seeing him even remotely like this was at the births of their babies, and in the first years of their relationship, at orgasm. His face, normally a constant reflection of his spirit- dogged, cheerful, unpurturbed by the world- would collapse and then come forward, like a star dying, or being born. She would open her eyes from the dark physical magic to catch a glimpse of this, her power over him, to crack him open. Now she wished that every crack would seal, his eyes filling with the old insouciance, his hand not tender, but friendly, slapping her ass.

" Anyone would be. " That was all she could manage.

" I understand I had a heart attack. You called an ambulance. " Cora nodded, remembering crying, the phone slipping off her face as she begged the operator to hurry. " They did what they could, but it wouldn't take, and I died. They told you I died? " Cora nodded again. " And then. The next part. " Ernest's mouth was so pale, pale like the bottom of a crater lake, the underside of a shell worn away by water for hundreds of years. " I want to know how this happened, so it won't happen again. " He shuddered.

" I understand. "

" Cora… " he trailed off, looking at her. Finally his gaze focused. " You are so beautiful. "

She flushed with anger. " What? What are you talking about? "

" My Cora. So beautiful, so strong, my love. " He smiled at her and there, like a lightening charge, was he back in his eyes.

Cora found herself furious, trembling. " What is wrong with you? "

" Why are you angry? "

" Because, because! Because what does this have to do with anything! You never focus. You can't even focus on your own goddamn death! "

" Cora, I think I did you a disservice. I think- we better lower our voices, I don't want the ox nurse coming in her and shooing you out. No, I have done you a disservice, a great disservice, and I want to tell you I'm sorry. "

Cora felt her hand flinch- I actually want to slap him! My husband who just died! she thought, astonished. " That's enough, Ernest. "

" All the years we have been married, all the time we have had together, and I knew that you wanted, more than anything, one thing from me. And I resented you for it, sometimes I resented the hell out of you, I thought of leaving. " Cora's trembling subsided. I remember, she thought. I know when. " I felt like I loved you easily, and you wouldn't do the same for me. I felt loved less. Once I read, or heard, I don't remember, that there is always someone who loves more, in a marriage. And that hurt. Damn that hurt, reading that, because I knew it was me who was loved less! " Cora felt her mouth actually part in astonishment. Would this day ever end, would she ever lay down in a bed and fall asleep and wake for breakfast again? Impossible. " It was clear to me, you loved me less. So out of anger, and hurt, and pride, I refused, purposefully refused- " were his eyes filling with tears? Cora saw they were. " to give you the thing you most wanted from me. And I know that I had the entire thing backward! I realized I was the one who loved you less! It was a test I failed, all along, I'm such a bastard, so prideful thinking my heart loved more when the entire time I went on holding back love from my wife, to prove a point! I wasted my entire damn life to prove a point that wasn't even right. Wasting love, that's the greatest sin there is! You loved more, Cora. You loved more, and you always did. "

Cora sat with her hands now clasped inside Ernest's old, feeble hands. Her cell phone rang--



THE END
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