Texts: Rain

The streets were slick from the softly falling rain.  The rainy season, when she could walk the dark, rain soaked streets, hiding her tears with the raindrops from the darkly clouded sky.  It was the rain that made Seattle the city to always hold her heart.  The city that cradled her melancholy.

Y did you say that?
Say what?
I’m failing here, really bad
What’s wrong M?
The same thing as always.  Y did you say that? What am I supposed to do now?
M, you aren’t making sense.  I’m worried.  R u drinking?
Walking in the rain
Y are you walking in the rain
Because I can’t escape.  There is no where for me to run anymore
How much have you had to drink?
Not enough
M, please, u r killing me
Lol, no I’m not.  U don’t care, not really, we r just friends
What the hell does that mean? I care about u, I think about u all the time
Ok
M, what’s going on
Nothing.  Sorry, I didn’t mean to bother u.  That’s what I mean by I’m failing.  I’ve become the manipulative abuser and I hate it
You aren’t an abuser. Talk to me
It’s just the rain and alcohol.  I’m fine.  Ttyt
M, please, don’t do that

….

M? Talk to me

M, please, answer me

Texts: Miscommunication

Photo Credit: Bishop DuBourg

How much have you had to drink?

What’s the difference

Are you home?

No

How are you going to get home

I don’t know

Why did you drink so much?

Why did you say what you did?  Just before I walked out the door? FFS what was I supposed to do with that?  Did you do it on purpose

What are you talking about?

You really are fucking clueless aren’t you.  You are the one that makes me wet, you are the one that makes me smile, you are the one that makes me get up in the morning and you are the one who relegated me to this

To what? I don’t know what to say to any of that

Yeah, you never do, do you.  You only know how to say shit when I’m about to meet someone else

You are my best friend, you know that, I want the best for you

Really? Do you?

Yes. Why are you angry with me

I’m not angry

Yes you are

No, I’m not angry.  I’m hurt

Why

Fuck you.  Really, just fuck. you.

How am I supposed to fix this if you won’t tell me what’s wrong?

Nothing’s wrong.  I’m fine.  I called Uber

Talk to me

I’ll be home soon, nothing for you to worry about

I worry about you

Don’t.  I’m fine. Just drunk and I’ll forget all this in the morning.  Go to sleep, sweet dreams, ttyt

Don’t do that

Do what

Avoid the question

I forgot the question, it doesn’t matter, I’m fine, no need to worry.  I’m almost home.  Goodnight

You aren’t supposed to be drinking anyway

Yeah, I know

Talk to me

What do you want me to say

Tell me what’s wrong

Nothing

Bullshit

What the fuck do you want from me? 

I want to know you are okay, you’re safe

Yes

Don’t do that

Yeah, whatever, I’m done, goodnight

M, please, talk to me

Nothing to say. I’m home, safe, goodnight

 

Road

The dark road tunneled ahead of her, the headlights illuminating a few hundred feet, as she sped along listening to the static from the radio echo in her head.  The thoughts cascaded like cicadas in the summer heat, droning endlessly, singing to the only one who understood.

Where she was going she couldn’t say.  She could only say what she left behind.  Or, what she was running from, trying to leave behind, though deep down she knew it would follow, like luggage transported from one destination to another.  There was nowhere to run, no one to run to, no one to catch her.  No one to save her.  She knew that even as she pressed her foot on the gas pedal until she felt it hit the floorboards beneath.  There wasn’t enough speed, wasn’t enough road, wasn’t enough distance between her and the past.

“What the hell does that mean?”
“You can be aggressive as hell when you feel uncomfortable.”
“I’m sorry, I didn’t mean to be a bitch.”
“I never said you were a bitch, just aggressive, there is a difference.”

She paced her kitchen reading the texts wondering what the hell it all meant.  Why would he tell her that just before a date she was already nervous about.  She had no idea she was like that.  She always tried to acquiesce, to do what others wanted, to appease and please yet she was aggressive as hell?  What did that even mean?

“I can’t change overnight.  I’m trying for fucks sake.”

She tried to breath but instead inhaled with a jagged stutter.  She felt her arms shaking as she held the wheel, pressed the gas pedal harder even though it was already to the floor, and tried to focus on the dark, endless road ahead despite the tears blurring her vision.  This was all familiar.  Not the road itself but the flight.  She flashback to the freedom, at seventeen, when she finally escaped hell; or so she believed then.  Back then she also hit the gas as hard as possible, fleeing up the road, leaving the house she grew up in as a distant memory in her rear-view.  She never returned even when her mother begged.  She never felt the pangs of nostalgia like her older brother wanting to visit the old pizza place and ice cream parlor.

Back then, when she fled, the roads started out familiar, she knew which way to turn, which way led north or south.  Eventually she lost track.  Eventually she simply drove, focused and unfocused, following wherever the road took her as long as it wasn’t back.  It didn’t matter if the sun or moon was shining, it only mattered that she moved, ran, at top speed, as if she could outrun her fear, her pain, her mind and all the secrets.

She carefully arranged the plates, the knife on the correct side, the forks and spoons in their proper place, as the Christmas tree glowed behind her.  A bottle of red breathing on the kitchen counter while the white chilled in the fridge and garlic wafted through the house.  She pressed her hand against her solar plexus as she glanced at the arrangement, hoping it was correct, praying the glasses were in the right place, wishing for small praise that she fulfilled expectations.

Standing in the kitchen, the heat turning her cheeks pink, she quietly downed a glass of wine and filled it again quickly.  She felt that numbness, the softening effects of the alcohol, like cotton behind her eyes, softening the tension in her shoulders and took a deep breath.

“The table is set.”
“I better check to make sure it’s done right,” her older brother said, giving one last stir to the risotto before removing it from the heat.

She felt light-headed from erratic breathing.  She heard the buzz from her phone.  She wanted to drive to him.  She wanted to be held, to be cared for, to be understood but she knew the reality.  It was all a fantasy, what she built up in her head, and he didn’t care the way she did.  He didn’t feel the way she did.

“Are you okay?  You’ve gone quiet.”  She glanced at the phone as she pressed the pedal harder despite it being pressed all the way down already and she let the darkness take her.

Immolation

You don’t see me

You see what you want to see
the broken doll who dances for your pleasure
or the angry depressive who refuses to take your blame

You don’t see me

You only see what you need to see
the sparkly shards that glint in the sand
or the pretty painted affectations that spark your imagination

You don’t see me

You only see what you project upon me
the pictures you pull from my words
or the interpretations you decide lie between the lines

You don’t see me

You see only what you want to play with
the toy that waits beneath a bow to unwrap
or the silent object for your manipulation

 

You

 

Don’t

 

See

 

Me

Yet here I stand, plain as day, performing vivisection upon my soul
displaying my entrails upon the glistening sands
waiting for the gypsy to read the tea leaves of my self immolated wounds

Nightlight

3:43 a.m.

He feels the bed shift as she gets up; hears he bare feet padding across the floor in the darkness.  The only light from the nightlight plugged in the hallway illuminating her movements.  He closes his eyes seeing her in his minds eye.  The familiar press of her hand against her chest, holding her breath like she holds in the pain, as tears fall.

3:54 a.m.

He hears the front door close softly.  She wears his hoodie because she can get lost in it and when she lifts the hood she feels completely hidden.  Her breath puffs in the cool autumn night and she hears the crunch of dried leaves.  She walks silently, avoiding streetlamps, letting the darkness envelope her trying to breath deep and slow but failing.

4:25 a.m.

He sits on the edge of the bed, runs his hand through his hair, and stares out the window contemplating whether to wait or find her.  He picks up his phone, the light illuminating his face in a soft blue, and asks Are you okay?

She pulls her phone from the pocket of his hoodie and stares at the screen, her thumb hovering over the keyboard, not wanting to lie but not wanting to tell him the truth.  Go back to sleep, I’m almost home.

He reads her message; a response but not an answer.

6:59 a.m.

Sitting on the front porch she watches the sky lighten as the sun rises.

7:00 a.m.

She hears the alarm go off in the bedroom then silence a moment later.  He rolls over feeling the empty space and cool sheets next to him.  He gets up and makes coffee.

7:17 a.m.

She looks up at the sound of the front door opening.  He holds out a cup of hot coffee, the steam rising perfectly like in advertisements, and feels a brief touch as her fingers brush his.

“Did you sleep well?” She asks softly, putting her head on his shoulder when he sits next to her.

“Did you sleep at all?” He asks concerned.

She sips her coffee and he wipes her cheek with his thumb.  The nightlight in the hall switches off as the sun rises higher.

Voodoo

There was the familiar break.  Her mind shifted from reality, from the monotonous grind of life, to an inexplicable darkness. Alien to most but to her, familiar and comforting; a welcoming escape.  She let it fall. She let her mind drift.  She let her feelings shift.  Her pupils widening as the hit of delirium consumed her.  She did not struggle, did not fight in fear; instead choosing to fall into the delusion like a voodoo priestess succumbs to the spirits.  She let it lure her, lead her, down, into a deep abyss, like a snake bite draining it’s victim of life.

The rain soaked streets glistened under the street lights as he hustled across the parking lot.  Pressing the button on his key fob, his car blinked and beeped in response and he felt a small rush of gratitude.  The late October chill filled the night and crept into his bones as he slipped into the drivers seat.  Pulling the door closed with a satisfied thud he quickly started the car and turned up the heat.  He breathed deep, filling his lungs, and releasing the days tensions as he released his breath in a calming sigh.

The road glistened in the rain, his headlights creating a tunneling effect, as he made his way through the night.  Autumn leaves littered the medians, orange and yellow, and barren trees lined the horizon.  He squinted in the heavy rains and darkness feeling the tension in his shoulders.  Slowly making his way off the exit, meandering down a winding dark road, he clicked on the high beams and suddenly slammed on the breaks as a figure randomly appeared in the center of the road.  A dark hooded figure standing stock still shocked his system.

She blinked in the glare of the headlights feeling her heart racing at the sudden shock of a car stopping inches from her.  He cursed, opening his door, the rain momentarily ceasing.  “What the hell are you doing in the middle of the road? Are you trying to get killed?” He shouted angrily.  The hooded figure raised its head slightly revealing a pale face, lips bright red, and green eyes captured by the light of his high beams.

A breeze blew across the road causing a swirl of leaves to dance and the hem of the cape to sway.  She ducked her head as if bowing in apology but remained silent.  His anger cooled, “Do you need help?”  She turned away in response.  “Are you okay,” he asked concerned, stepping a little further from his car.  She lifted her head again and he saw her deep emerald eyes like a cat staring in the darkness as a chill passed through him.

“No need to fret,” she said softly, almost imperceptible, as the wind blew the leaves again.

He hesitated unsure what to do next when the chill he felt moments earlier turned to a soothing tingle, like the feeling of fingers softly trailed over his skin, and his shoulders released the tension he felt while driving. His mind blurred, thoughts dissipating, but his vision focused on the silhouette that stood before him.  Crisp and sharp like a fresh image embedded in his mind and the cat-like green eyes pierced his perceptions of time.  He had no idea how long he stood there, motionless and silent, but he felt nothing but a peaceful embrace as he waited for time, and his senses, to recalibrate.

He felt the shift from reality to delusion in that moment and instead of fear or struggle, he let it slip over him like slipping into a warm bath, the water soothing and relaxing instead of bracing.  He heard a voice in his mind, embrace delirium, she is gentle. He couldn’t identify where it originated since the figure before him remained motionless and silent.  Her lips did not move yet he heard the voice as clearly as if he wore headphones.  He asked, “Did you say that?”

“No,” the hooded figure said softly, “but she says the same to me.”
“Can she be trusted?”
“That is for you to decide,” her green eyes blinking slowly like a cat.
“I feel unusual,” he said calmly.
“So did I, the first time,” she responded just as calmly.

She blinked a few times clearing the dryness from her eyes and she slowly shifted back to the mundane.  Staring out her office window, she watched a man rush towards his car in the rain.  A Cheshire Cat smile lifted her lips as she knew within the hour she’d stand at the crossroads of a dark, windy rain-filled autumn road and discuss delusions with a stranger.

*Photo Credit

Sunset

Watching the sun set, burning the sky in bursts of orange and purple, she downed another shot of bourbon.  She felt the numbness, the feelings slowly burning into ash, like the sun burning the sky.  It was all a heartbeat away from darkness.

How are you doing

A simple text.  A simple question.  The answer fraught with tumultuous responses.  Her thumb hovered over the keyboard; how should she respond?  She wanted to talk, needed to talk, wanted the connection but hesitated.  Aloof?  Perhaps pithy.  Anything to hide her desperation.

How are you doing?

A simple avoidance.  She wanted to talk; correction, needed to talk, but a simple deflection to keep the focus off herself.  She didn’t want to lie, didn’t want to say I feel like shit, as usual. Easier to deflect and ask about him, keep a conversation while avoiding anything to do with her state of mind.  The conversation flowed.  Stalled.  Flowed again and turned to music.  Songs perfect for you he said.  How does he know the perfect way to break her?  The songs to make her speechless; bring her to tears.  How does he see her so clearly even when she tries to hide?

The sunset slowly burns the sky to darkness.  Trails of color falling, fading, as she watches, heavy lidded from alcohol, until the stars sparkle in the darkness.  Her heart aches, sensucht, yearning for something indescribable, something that will never arrive. She checks her messages. Nothing.  She waits, hoping, holding the phone like a precious stone, the only connection to someone.  The only connection to him. Sensucht.  He is what she yearns for; a connection.  Love.  Someone to see through the darkness that haunts her daylight.

Are you okay?

She hesitates.  She downs a shot of bourbon.

He waits.  Checks his phone; nothing.

Are you there?

She watches the sun set.  The light burning into darkness.  Her thumb hovers as her mind races through responses.  Don’t lie, no, don’t say fine, don’t tell the truth, I want to die, her mind shifts slowly, drunkenly, through responses as the sun falls beyond the horizon.

*Photo Credit

Nine

Sitting in the meeting room staring out the window as someone droned on about deadlines, goals, and new branding Jake watched vultures circling above the office building halfway down the block.  As he watched their lazy circles, dark against the blue sky, a buzzing began in his left ear.  The meeting came to an end and walking back to his cubicle, the buzz became an annoying hum in both ears.  He asked a co-worker, “Do you hear that?”
“What?”
“I don’t know, like  strange buzz or hum?”
“Nope.”

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For days Jake’s ears kept buzzing.  He thought he’d go crazy if it didn’t stop.  The doctor said there was nothing wrong, his hearing was fine, no sign of infection or other problems.  Riding his bike, commuting to and from work, he’d see the buzzards, too.  Circling over various buildings throughout the city and he started wondering if they were related to the buzzing in his ear.  He thought, maybe they’re the first signs of my psychotic break.  Wearing headphones covered the buzz a bit but he couldn’t avoid seeing all the buzzards.  No one else seemed to care, or notice, but Jake noticed there were more every day.  How did no one else notice?  They looked ready to consume the city.

On the corner near his home, he noticed a flyer taped to the light pole.  It said: If you notice them, too, hear the sound, send self-addressed postage page padded envelope.  The pull tag had the address listed.  Out of curiosity, Jake ripped a tag and stuck it in his pocket.  He stopped at the post office on the way home and sent an envelope, as requested, to the address.

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A few days later, Jake opened the envelope carefully.  Inside was a thin blue vial, no longer than two inches, with a glass stopper.  The note read:

Do not drink until exactly nine minutes after midnight on September 9th, then turn over and read further instructions.  If you drink earlier or later or on a different date you must request another vial explaining why you did not drink at the exact time as instructed.  Upon review of request a new vial may be sent.

When he turned over the note it was blank.  He peered inside the envelope looking for another piece of paper but there was nothing else.  He was tempted to taste the contents of the vial but wasn’t sure that would constitute “drinking before 12:09 a.m.” or in some way invalidate the instructions so he waited.

At exactly nine minutes after midnight he pried the stopper, which gave a little pop, and drank the viscous, bitter fluid inside.  He didn’t feel anything and waited a moment expecting something to happen but nothing did.  He was pissed and turned the page over expecting it to be blank, feeling foolish.  To his surprise, in glowing bright green handwriting were further instructions.  It detailed exactly how he should walk from his apartment to the final destination ending with when destination reached you will know what to do next.

Reading over the directions before heading out he wondered why it gave such a circuitous route.  There was a much more direct route but he didn’t want to take a chance and did as instructed.  When he stepped out to the street he noticed a strange faint magenta light close to the ground leading the way.  The light was so faint he wasn’t sure he actually saw what he did.  It reminded him of the traces left on the back of his eyelids when he closed them after staring at the computer screen in the dark.

Finally, after twenty minutes weaving through the city streets, he reached the underpass of the pedestrian bridge with an old stone troll underneath.  He’d seen this same stone troll many times but now he looked larger, as if crushed under the bridge, and its arms were pushing up, it’s eyes blinking.  He stepped back nervously wondering what exactly was in that vial.  As he studied the troll he noticed a shimmering ray of light near a large stone pressed against his armpit and when he stepped closer to inspect it he had a strange taste of purple.  He didn’t know purple had a taste but that was all he thought, I taste purple.

He reached out to touch the shimmering ray and the stone boulder shifted.  There was just enough space for him to squeeze in.  He had to duck his head and he felt the walls pressed against his shoulders but there was a set of stairs leading upwards and as he climbed the space widened.  It was dark and he carefully felt for the next step with his foot.  He finally reached the top which opened to a room that looked carved into a giant stone boulder, with rounded ceiling and walls.

Various strange looking dried herbs and plants hung from wooden poles drilled into the stone.  He saw familiar dead animals hanging as well.  There were a couple of rabbits, a duck and squirrel, but there were other strange creatures he’d never seen before.  Creatures with oddly colored fur and strange hoofs or horns curling from their heads down along the length of their bodies.  Along the back wall was a shelf filled with jars and vials of all sizes.  He saw similar vials to the one he drank earlier and jars filled with unidentifiable things floating in strange liquids.  There was a jar filled with tiny slender bones that looked like finger bones and a jar with a large spider attempting to escape.

In the center was a round wooden table with a tiny woman sitting hunched over tracing blue powder with a black stick creating intricate patterns.   On the outer edges of the blue powder design were black candles, all the exact same length and width, burning blue flames.  The woman looked up, “Jake, little sick boy, about time you stopped believing all the lies they’ve made you swallow every morning.”  He didn’t know what she meant, “who are you?”
“You sought me out.”
“I wrote to an address on a flyer.  I thought it led to some party or something, it was vague.”
“You found what you needed.”

He was ready to leave this strange place and this strange woman but she had mesmerizing gray eyes.  They were silver-gray with a black ring around the iris and when she spoke the black ring bled down into the silver-gray and swirled like ink.  She was petite with delicate bones and looked fragile.  She bent over the table again, struck a long match, and gently blew across the flame.  It flared bright blue and struck the powder on the table causing the room to fill with the scent of fresh rain.  Above her head smoke circled, rising until it touched the stone, then popped into brilliant sparkling light like a firework.

When he looked down again, the blue powder appeared untouched and in the center was a clear crystal that glowed the same silver gray as her eyes.  The silver gray light inside the crystal pulsed like a heartbeat and he stepped closer.  “It is yours Jake,” she said so softly he wasn’t sure she actually spoke.  “It will rain for nine days then you will be clean.  Do not trust the vultures who want to pick your mind apart until you no longer think for yourself.  Nine days, at 9:09 a.m. and you will be free.”

He picked up the crystal expecting it to be cool but it was warm.  It pulsed brighter at his touch and he felt a pleasant vibration.  As he walked home holding the crystal, the vibration felt stronger, caressing up his arm and over his back.  When he slept he dreamed of water flowing and boulders walking the streets, of strange little witch women with gray eyes hanging in gibbets as vultures plucked their eyes.  In the morning he felt restless and calm.  The crystal sat on the coffee table pulsing softly.

Nine days later and 9:09 a.m. he was heading to the pharmacy when the rains stopped.  He felt his mind open and saw not only the sky but the universe beyond.  All the people rushing the through the streets, morning traffic crawling along the roads, the people in the gym windows running to nowhere on treadmills all seemed like the strange creatures in the jars at the little witch’s hollow.  The sky suddenly darkened as thousands of vultures descended, people scattering, screaming and he thought about her warning, do not trust the vultures but they paid him no mind.

At 9:18 a.m. he stood horrified on the street surrounded by bodies, torn apart by the vultures, blood running into the gutters, staining his shoes.  The vultures plucked their eyes out making strange crww sounds as if delighted by their meals.  He ran heading back to the underpass where the stone troll sat and the vultures all took flight.  He heard their wings beating overhead, felt a wingtip graze his arm, and his heart beating in his throat.  When he reached the troll there was no shimmering light, no boulder by its arm, and Jake didn’t know how to find the little witch, didn’t know what she did to him.

9:37 a.m. he sat panting on his sofa holding the pulsing crystal as if it would give him answers.  The vultures preened in the trees outside his window, sitting along the roof of the buildings all along his street, and he felt as if they were watching, waiting for him.  He stood up, angry, and threw the crystal across the room, smashing it against the wall and shattering it into tiny pieces.  The vultures took flight again and Jake collapsed.

Another nine days later at 9:09 a.m. Jake sat in the hospital as a nurse with gray eyes readied to give him a shot.  She held up a small vial filling the syringe with a strange viscous solution and telling him, “don’t worry, this will make you right as rain again.”

Owl

Photo Credit: George

Photo Credit: George

She walked among the dead with soft footsteps.  The moon shone bright, half swollen, with white petals blown from dogwoods fluttering in the breeze like her white gown.  She reached up to unpin her hair.

Death watched her soft steps along dew wet grass and resisted the urge to touch the black strands falling loose over her shoulders.

The dead souls parted, invisible hands reaching to touch her as she passed, singing with delight in her wake.  Her eyes, soft focused, reveled in the dancing lights surrounding her, her ears pricking with a song coming from an other-worldly realm.  When she began humming the tune, the dead smiled.

She reached the top of a small hill, under an old, gnarled crab apple tree, and lowered slowly to her knees.  She placed the palms of her hands flat against the earth to feel its pulse.  Her senses filled with the smells of flowers, and wet grass, and distant rain; she felt the earth pulse with death’s footsteps; she heard the voices of the dead; she saw the stars bright and muted colors illuminated by the swollen half-moon.  Her tongue expected to taste the saltiness of tears.

“Owl.”  She felt his breath whisper her name against the back of her neck.

“Cillian.”

She turned to face him, his hooded robe still covering his face, as he dropped his scythe.  It clattered to the ground when he reached out to touch her dark hair and a raven called from a tree branch above.  In the moonlight his bony fingers filled with muscle and flesh before entwining her hair.  She lowered his hood to look into his blue eyes and kissed the salty tears streaking his cheeks.

“Don’t cry Cillian, I’m here.”

“Only for tonight.”

“Always,” she whispered.  The dead began fading, stepping into shadows, falling silent among the grass petals, and the raven flew up towards the moon.  Wherever her hands reached, his flesh filled out, so all she felt was warmth.  His arms enveloped her, pulling her close, pressing her warm body against his.

She leaned back long enough to pull her dress over her head.  He kissed her collar-bone, kneading her breasts, and pushed her down on the grass.  Under the crab apple tree and moon they made love.  Slow as if time wasn’t counting the seconds before his flesh vanished and the dead returned.  As the moon arced the sky, edging closer to the horizon, she felt the familiar itch of pin feathers along her arms.

Cillian held her tighter, “Please.”  His pleas useless, knowing once the moon dropped, Owl would fly to the tree branches above.  His only solace was her cries in the night, signaling another death, until their next dalliance.  Until the next night when the curse separating them lifted, he would collect the souls and teach them to sing love songs to her from beyond the grave.