M: Woodford Reserve

Sitting on the exam table the thin paper crinkles with the slightest movement.

Do you think of self-harm?
No.
(Are you asking if I want to live?)

No plans to kill yourself?
No.
(Do you care that I don’t want to live?)

You need to take these the same time every day, can you do that?
Yes.
(This isn’t really to help me but make it easier for others to pretend everything is just peachy, isn’t it?)

See the receptionist on your way out to set a follow-up in one month.
Thank you.
(But will it fix me?)

Lying on the kitchen floor in a fetal position she prays to a god she doesn’t believe in between heaving sobs and jagged breaths.

Please let me die. Why does this torture never end? Please, make it stop.
Do you think of self-harm?

Will this finally end when I die? I just want this to end and I don’t know how to make it go away.
No plans to kill yourself?

I take the pills every day but I still feel the same. I just want someone to lie and tell me this will end.
Don’t cry in public, or at work, or around others. It makes them uncomfortable.

Please, god, kill me already, I will see the receptionist on the way down, just kill me.
That will be a twenty-dollar co-pay. Thank you.

Thanatos leans against the kitchen counter holding a glass of bourbon.

Please, god, how much longer will you torture me?
I am not god.

Thanatos, let me die, please, I can’t endure anymore.
Oh, my love, my love, I need you.

I hate you.
I love you.

Thanatos holds out the bourbon. She swallows the deep amber liquid feeling the heat sear her esophagus and her vision blurs attempting to focus on the label, Woodford Reserve. Her mind holds on to the thread of words, the white font on clear bottle, feeling the pressure of tiles against her knees. She feels his hands on her shoulders, lifting her from her knees, despite her inward protestations. She wants to stay fetal, prone, begging for release, weeping with incomprehensible sadness but his loving hands lift her up and pulls her to his chest. She feels his heartbeat like an ache. A thrum vibrating as his desire rises. She falls into that vibration, that dark love, that void of emptiness taking solace that her pain releases him briefly from an unending existence of mundanity.

And in that embrace, feeling his vibration, she breaks apart. However briefly, he releases her from the pain, the darkness, the sadness that shatters her tentative grasp on a depressing reality and lets her dance along a fantasy of love and light. He takes her out to the universe, dancing along the inhuman pulses of supernovas and shows her what she knows; being free and wild beyond her skin that begs from a god she doesn’t believe. Lifting her up beyond her despair feeds his own implosion. He wishes he could make her understand that he can not touch those stars, dance along the comet’s tail, drink the supernova without her. Without her he is a husk broken and fetal. If he granted the release she begs for he’d be left alone to walk eternity never tasting the aether. With her he weaved a tapestry of dark matter expanding and exploding the universe.

Sitting on the exam table the thin paper crinkles with the slightest movement.

Do you think of self-harm?
No.
(I have not seen Thanatos for weeks.)

No plans to kill yourself?
No.
(I am out of Woodford Reserve.)

So you’re feeling better?
Yes.
(I have a larger gray cubicle at work since I stopped crying all the time.)

See the receptionist on your way out to set a follow-up in one month.
Thank you.
(I guess I’m fixed?)

Thanatos and M Speak

Thanatos speaks:
There are many myths, falsehoods, misunderstandings and outright lies mixed with truth about who I am. Some believe I’m the devil. Some believe I’m the grim reaper. There are myths surrounding what I do, how I usher souls from one realm to another, that I actively participate or just wait idly until I get a message, like some number at a deli counter and I help the next in line. Some think I’m a god or a demon.

I was not born or created. I exist, nothing more, nothing less.  I walk this realm for millennia. I feel the darkness, I do not control it. I feed off emotions but they do not sustain me. I sip them, like fine wines or butterfly dipping their proboscis to sip nectar. Human emotions are like cocaine, or heroin, or alcohol or any addiction; once you touch the depths and see the universe within you chase it forever. I do not need anything to survive.  However, the delicious, deleterious nature of a vessel so gloriously sensitive to the emotional vibrations of the membrane between worlds is a rare find that I crave it as if it is life itself. I am not meant to interfere with the choice of death’s time. I have, on occasion, interfered and prevented or prolonged the time of death for particular jewels.

The swirl of dark emotions — depression, sadness, longing, grief, loneliness, yearning, regret, shame, rage and all the rest that cause indescribable aches within — are when I’m at my most perverse. I can’t control myself, can’t stop myself from enjoying such suffering. Happiness and all the light emotions are not as powerful. For me, they give but momentary bliss whereas the dark emotions surge an overwhelming rush of ecstasy that lasts far longer.

I try explain all this in a poor attempt to explain why I can not let M go. She electrifies me unlike any creature in all my years. She has a well of darkness inside that swells through every aching crevice and trembles her body like an earthquake ripping the earth asunder and when she releases her pain in racking sobs, well, even thinking about it makes my lips parched like a desert needing water. She gives herself to me both begging for release and needing the power she holds over me. She doesn’t understand what she does to me nor why I can not release her. It is love, perhaps, but oh so much more.

M speaks:
My daily life outwardly appears no different then the millions of others walking this planet. I survive the mundane and yearn for the profound, the profane. I yearn to change the world at the same time wanting to be invisible. I go to a boring office job that pays the bills. I drink with friends, celebrate birthdays, walk the dogs and sip coffee in the morning on the ride to work. And I am in love with death.

I am depressed, as the doctors tell me, and I feel the sadness but it is so much more. In the ordinary world I feel insane because it’s like I feel the fires of the universe, walking a membrane between realms, unable to explain the strange vibration that hums in the back of my thoughts all the time. I can taste the sadness, I can hear the black tar bubbling in that hallow within, I can smell the burnt smoke floating from the fires that I see burning in a dark place that I can not touch. In every day, I survive. I tamp down the sadness, the shame, the anger, the yearning because I can’t explain it. I sit in therapy and listen, wanting to find a way out to the happiness, but I can’t explain why nothing I hear is truth.

My only relationship is with Thanatos. He doesn’t cringe from my drama, doesn’t tire of my tragedy, doesn’t find me retched or reject my darkness expecting me to “lighten up.” It is a rare thing to be accepted so completely. At the same time, it hurts being with him because he has the power to release me from my pain and refuses. So we are stuck in this dance of death. When I am with him, however, to feel his ecstasy, to see the heights he reaches when I fall to my knees, the way he takes my darkness and matches it with such utter, raw, pleasure sends me spinning into orgasmic heights as if I am almost touching a higher realm.

We are addicted to each other. I yearn for death and he yearns for my well of darkness. He loves me but will never say it. I both love and hate him profoundly.

Words on Flesh (Thanatos and M)

He laid on his stomach, head on his hands, naked. She straddled his waist using his ass as a cushion, knees bent, naked.

In one hand she held an inkwell filled with deep indigo blue ink and in the other a feather quill with a gold nib.
Her hair cascaded down over her shoulders with rippling waves down her back. He felt the spring of her pubic hairs against his flesh.

“What should I write?”
“Whatever you feel.”
“No, that’s too dark. You tell me the story.”
“No, I want your words.”
“I can’t do it then.”

He felt the bed shift with her weight as she leaned over to put the ink and quill back on the nightstand.

“Yes you can. It doesn’t matter what you write, just write from your soul.”
“That’s even worse. No, definitely can’t.”

He sighed. She bent forward, he felt her hair caressing his back and light kisses over his shoulders. He didn’t move.

“You’re mad.”
“Not mad.”
“Annoyed then.”
“Frustrated. I want your words, it’s simple. What are you afraid of? I have your body.”

She sat back. He still didn’t move, only closed his eyes, feeling her breathing. A few heartbeats later, the bed shifted again. She leaned over to take up the quill and ink once more. She started slowly, tentatively, at his upper left shoulder, writing across his back to the other shoulder. He felt the quill, the nib a little rough, dragging across his skin. It was pleasurable, an odd sensation, the ink feeling like blood and the nib needle-like. As she fell into her thoughts, dragging the nib against his flesh, dipping the quill more often than for paper, her pace picked up. By the time she reached his mid-back her writing was frantic. He smiled.

He remained quiet, passive, allowing her to manipulate his body as she required. Quickly writing down his back and over his ass. She spread his legs so she could write on the inside of his thighs. The sensation of her touch, the intensity of her silence pouring thoughts through her ink onto his skin, her breath quickening as emotions crescendo within her, aroused him. If she noticed she made no effort to acknowledge his need.

When she reached the soles of his feet she began blowing across his skin like trying to cool a bowl of soup. She wanted to make sure the ink was dry before turning him over. He waited motionless until he felt one of her hands gently push at his hip, then he rolled over to his back. She began in reverse, starting at his feet, teasingly sitting on his stomach, his hard-on now aching. He resisted the urge to grab her ass or touch her in any way. Forcing himself to be content with the vision of her bent forward, hair, breath, ink and quill mingling across his skin as she worked her way around the rest of his body. He pressed his head back against the pillow, the agony becoming almost unbearable, when she reached his hips. She held his cock, not stroking it or licking it despite his mind willing her too, but holding it steady to write.

He thought he would explode with the unexpected as she continued to scrawl words around his cock, balls, over his hips and finally working his abdomen. She backed up, rising up, her pussy tantalizing near his face, and her scent made him dizzy. A moan escaped his lips. He closed his eyes. Remaining still becoming a heady, excruciating test of self-control.

“Finished.”

She stood up, shy but proud of her creation.  He stood before the mirror, his skin stained blue, words gently cascading in swirls from her touch.  He touched her face.  She stood shivering, tears threatening to spill from her eyes.  Pouring her words across his flesh left her emotions roiling inside, the darkness coming alive, clawing its way up, choking her throat, spilling its tarry blackness through every internal crevice.  He watched her green eyes darken and took pleasure from her internal pain.  He owned her body, easily, taking it when he pleased, she gave it away without resistance.  Her soul, her inner self, her mind and emotions, however, she protected fiercely and forcing her to spill her words across his flesh opened the well within her.  Watching her struggle with the sorrow that danced inside, seeing her attempt to remain standing, to not fall to her knees, fulfilled a gluttonous desire.

He waited, wiping the tear that finally fell with his thumb, watching her crumble, slowly.  Her arms wrapped around herself like a child trying to self-comfort.  Her body trembling.  Silent tears and the struggle to keep the black dog from shredding her core apart.  He waited until she finally fell to her knees, sobbing, shaking uncontrollably, her strength finally breaking under the strain.  Her madness burst forth and he listened to her sobbing, drinking in her keening cries.  She began rocking herself and his self-control ended.  He kissed her breasts, licking her tears, made love to her there on the floor, in front of the mirror.  He felt her clinging, her tears dripping down his back mixing with her words causing blue streaks, and with each sob he felt blissful release.

Her breathing became ragged, gasping, feeding his arousal more than her moist pussy or stiff nipples.  He became rabid, insatiable, and she scratched his back creating a kaleidoscope of ink, tears and blood.  With each thrust she released more darkness, flowing out of her, smoke-filled intensity.  He tasted the salt on her cheeks, she clutched him tight, their chests pressed together and heaving, becoming like feral animals.  She keened.  He moaned.  When she felt like she was splitting open, her skin splitting like a cicada breaking free from its cocoon, she stiffened, holding her breath; he shattered with release and she breathed again.  Her mind spiraled into silence.

“Thanatos, when will you finally kill me?”
“Never, my love, without you I am nothing but a shadow on the edge of life.”

Him: The Other M (What’s Unsaid)

You make me unsteady
wobbly on my feet
shake my breathing

You scare me
deep to my core
like an imploding supernova

You stepped out of nowhere
a silhouette from the dark
with the dark words my heart needs

You make me smile
like a silly girl
dreaming of hearts and flowers

You make me wet
like the naughty woman
blooming despite barren earth

You make me
you simply make me
unable to breath
unable to speak
unable to dream

You tell me all the right lies
and listen to all my woes
without running
without blinking
you are still there

But don’t say I did not warn you
the truth is there in the tags
in the words written
late at night
when darkness hits hardest
I am a runner

You make me seek the devil I know
like the neglected child
forlorn and disregarded

You seduce me
physically and mentally
but mostly emotionally

But don’t say you weren’t warned
on the day I disappear
running away before the truth arises
that you are not what you seem
and I will be left in the tall grass
waking from a daze

Don’t say you were not warned
the day I disappear
leaving nothing more
than disturbed earth
and a six foot grave

You, my dear man, make me unsteady
you make me inconsolable
you make my world convulse
and you are not the devil I know

Hel

I am a scream without a voice
I am a liar
I am unanswered.

I can not escape this haunting
I can not outrun my mind
I can not die.

You are the arsonist
You set the fire
You burned my corpse.

You started this.
I can not stop this.
Only Hel can end this.

I wait for Thanatos
To find me
To save me.

 

(Thanatos): M

3:23 am: corner booth

She sat alone watching a couple drunk in love; or perhaps just drunk love. She ordered another whiskey and stared out the window.  The shadows across the street reminded her of the first time she saw Thanatos.

It was her fourteenth birthday and her parents were arguing, again, in the other room.  She could hear her mother yelling while her father’s tone was deeper, a little muffled, but still menacing. The small apartment left little room for escape so she climbed out to the fire escape for a cigarette.  Slipping her headphones on, turning the volume up, she watched the darkness unfold on the streets below.  In the shadow, across the street, he leaned against the wall, smoking a cigarette, looking up at her.

Her heart slowed with the eerie feeling of someone watching her, a stranger, calmly inhaling when she took a drag of her own cigarette.  He took a few steps to stand under the street light.  She exhaled slowly, not sure she was seeing as clearly as it seemed.  He was tall, dressed in black slacks, a black dress jacket with white shirt, cuffs open and hanging loose accentuating his long fingers.  His hair was short, black, a little messy.  What she noticed most were his deep blue eyes.  Unreal eyes like those in photographs of beautiful boys with microphones and smoke swirling.  He didn’t have a beard, but not clean-shaven, and she wasn’t positive but felt he let her study him for several minutes before smiling and walking away.

She met Thanatos a year later.  Visiting her cousins upstate, they took her to a party at a house near a lake.  The drinks were beer or overly sweet combinations typically involving Coke and cheap spirits.  A couple of older boys brought weed, acid and some pills with vague promises that it would make you feel good.  Wandering around drunk and high, feeling the usual melancholy, not wanting company, never able to feel connected, she slipped down to the lake with one of the knives her uncle used to gut fish.  She vaguely remembered cutting her wrist, slicing down following the trace of her vein.  She felt the blood, warm and sticky, dripping around the circumference of her arm.  She managed another cut on her other wrist, not as deep, and laid back staring up at the stars.

Her head swam, a mixture of alcohol and drugs, and she felt the pain from the cuts but didn’t move.  Instead trying to focus on locating the big dipper, identify Orion’s belt, looking for the North Star.  She laughed at her ridiculous dramatics and felt cold despite the warm summer night.  The fireflies blinked silently, calling to their loves across the grass, and she heard the occasional splash from a fish or turtle.  She smiled feeling life finally slipping away, so close to ending, the pain and darkness within finally about to be distinguished.  Vaguely she wondered how long before someone found her.  Would it be some fat housewife with her kids going for a morning swim?  Maybe one of her cousins would notice her missing and go looking for her.  Maybe she’d just rot here all summer, slowly decomposing into the earth until the rain washed her remains into the murky green lake.

She turned her head to the left, to look at the moon reflecting on the calm waters, and instead saw his blue eyes looking into hers.  He was kneeling silently next to her.  She didn’t know how long he was there, when he showed up, or where he came from.  She recognized him from the shadows across the street outside her apartment and she let out a small cry.  He gently touched her face, his eyes soft and kind, and took off his jacket to place under her head.

“Who are you?”
“Thanatos.  And who are you my love?”
“M.”

She saw lights blinking, heard voices and static sounds from radios.  No, she thought.  She looked at Thanatos and felt the black tar boil up into her chest threatening to crack each rib slowly.  As she struggled to focus, consciousness barely holding on, she felt pressure on her wrists, being lifted, heard voices all around.  Standing off to the side, Thanatos told one of the paramedics he had gone for his nightly walk and found the girl on the beach.  They thanked him for most likely saving her life.  As they loaded her into the ambulance she saw a black dog sitting across from the lake entrance, panting.

Two days later, at the hospital, her parents sat silently by her bed.  Her mother cried.  Her father clenched his jaw.  She feigned sleep hoping they would disappear for a while to the cafeteria.  When they finally left, she touched the bandages around her wrists and cried.  The doctors said they could help relieve her from the depression but they didn’t understand the well deep inside that held the bubbling, dark, black sticky tar that gripped not only her psyche but her very core.  It was a part of her, she understood that, something that would never disappear no matter how much they medicated or promised.

There was a soft knock on her door.  Thanatos stood holding a large bouquet of calla lilies and white lavender.  His blue eyes slightly clouded with contrition.  He waited until she gave a slight wave with her hand calling him closer.

“I’m sorry.”
“Why?”
“I can’t let you go.”

She sighed, her mind snapping back to the present.  She still didn’t understand why Thanatos couldn’t let her go.

Text Stories: Games We Play

Anger is a strange emotion. When suppressed it consumes a person in small, subtle, yet deadly ways. It slowly chokes someone with a silent poison that blackens the soul and manifests as depression or apathy. If the angry person attempts to quash that anger, no matter how righteous, at some point anger will find an exit. It will find its way out as either a dark, maleficent energy or as an explosive rage. Either way like a fire it consumes whatever lies in its path. Incendiary like gasoline on dried wood; it only takes a tiny spark to ignite.

Don’t. Just Don’t. Seriously
What
Don’t fucking pretend to care
I’m not pretending
Fuck you
Why the hell are you so angry with me?
Oh, you miss me. You worry. You care for me, blah, blah.
It’s the truth
Really?
I don’t blow smoke up your ass
Hard to believe when I don’t hear anything from you for weeks at a time. You always have an excuse. Your phone broke, you didn’t pay the bill, no wifi. Whatever

I borrowed money from anyone just to get it back because I miss my best friend
Yeah, sure. Empty words. You say this every couple of weeks. Really, don’t lie to me. I’m tired of it. I’m tired of a friendship at your convenience. I mean shit to you

That isn’t true. You mean a lot to me. You are one of the few people I tell anything
Okay, tell the others than, I’m tired. I’m done with this game
It isn’t a game
Isn’t it? I need someone that puts me first, that cares enough to actually check more than every couple of weeks. If I don’t contact you its like I fall off the fucking planet. You forget until you get bored or are horny or some shit

That isn’t true. I think of you all the time
I’m right here like always
I’m sorry. It isn’t my fault that I have phone problems and can’t pay bills, you know I’m struggling right now
Yeah, I’m struggling, too.
I know and that’s why I worry. I’m worried about you M, really, you are my best friend

Thanatos smiled, “A new corset?”
“Do you like it?”
“Of course.”
“What are you going to do to me,” she asked licking her lips.
“What do you want me to do,” he asked as the light flickered in his eyes.

She walked, slowly, across the room and stood before him, “Thanatos, my dear, I am here at your pleasure, for your pleasure.”

He looked into her deep green eyes for a long moment, her lips holding a taut smile, and felt a strange, unidentifiable emotion. Her sadness, as always, was palpable. Her sehnsucht lingered below. But something more, something new, simmered beneath.

“Who is he?”
“Who,” she said softly trying to hide the surprise that Thanatos didn’t know something.
“You’ve changed.”
“I have not.”
“Yes. Something is different. It’s him, isn’t it?”
“Thanatos, are you… are you jealous?” She stuttered with genuine surprise.
“Of course not. I am the god of death. You have danced with me for years. You come to me while you run from everyone else.”

She slowly reached behind to untie her corset as he spoke. His words seemed carefully chosen as if to hide true meaning. She knew that game. She’d played it many times throughout the years.

“Do you want me to leave,” she asked wryly.
“Of course not my dear M. I want you more each time. Your pleasure is my pleasure.”

Laying next to Thanatos as he slept, she stared at the ceiling and sighed. There was something different that she couldn’t explain. The usual black tar consumed her from within but this time it felt hot; incendiary. It felt like a stoked fire, the embers slowly awakening, and it crackled with small pops somewhere inside. She had no words for this strange feeling slowly heating and bubbling, like a simmering blaze before igniting to an all consuming inferno.

She: M

He watched her closely as she strutted back from the bathroom.  He noticed the various eyes attempting to glance surreptitiously.  He smiled, to himself.  She was his inspiration, his muse, wanting to not just use her for his pleasure but give her pleasure, see her smile, drive her to shudder and shake, to make her happy because she never experienced it before.

She appeared as an object, a desire, a notion in his mind that drove his passions.  He never expected that she would become so much more.  He did not expect her to consume his thoughts.  He did not expect her to strut and fret on his stage.  He did not expect her to be full of sound and fury signifying everything.  He did to expect her to become more than a player in a scene, more than a puppet on a string, more than desire.

She was more than a book from a library, plucked from the shelf, meant as a nightly distraction.  She became a catalyst for change, not just an object, even if she didn’t see it yet.

She strutted with contempt.  She knew, in her heart, she was more than an object but used what she knew would capture desires.  She knew she’d leave a path of destruction and change destiny for herself because fuck the gods, fuck destiny, fuck those that believed she was forgettable, that she was nothing, that she deserved nothing.  She would scorch the soil beneath her feet for no other reason than she deserved to feel so much more than what was given to her.  She knew, in her heart, that she deserved to be seen.  She deserved to be seen.

She strutted in the impossible high heeled, thigh-high boots, because she knew it would capture looks.  She knew it would capture desires.  She knew her role, as a woman, was to become desired and an object.  She knew the expectation was to become desire itself, a symbol of sex and control, of desire and fidelity, or infidelity, as woman to man, as written before time itself existed. She knew the expectations and strutted with strides of fuck you and your expectations.  She was not a plaything, she only pretended to be.  She would burn all those roles in order to achieve what she always desired, deep down — she needed to be important.  She needed to be acknowledged as fuel for the fires that would burn the world and change what was written a thousand years before.  She needed to be more than Thanatos could control. She needed to be greater than the gods that demanded she become a puppet in their play.  She needed to be seen.

He smiled as she sat, purposeful, at his table, quickly downing the drink waiting for her.  She smiled with perfectly painted matte red lips.  “Sorry to keep you waiting Thanatos,” She said softly.

“I will wait forever for you my dear M,”
Yet you will never release me, will you?”
No, of course not my dear.  You are my muse.  You are my inspiration.  You consume my thoughts.”
“Isn’t that the way you’ve written it?”
“Of course.”

The waiter brought another drink, placing it silently before her, and she raised it with a wry smile, “You, my dear Thanatos, will regret your decision.”

 

 

 

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

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.