Finding

The soap that you put in the bathroom started to smell like sadness and that was my first clue that something was wrong.

I called you three times and tried to fight down the inexplicable panic that ripped through me every time I got your voicemail. I called your work twice only to find that your cube mate hadn’t seen you in three days and that if you didn’t call in soon the boss had threatened to hire the temp permanently.

Despite my better judgement, I called your mother and used up the last dregs of sanity keeping myself from telling her that I had misplaced you again.

I called your sister, and she knew me well enough by then to hear the insincerity in my voice when I told her that nothing was wrong.

“Have you checked they keys?”

Of course I haven’t. But now I do. Your car key is missing, which I noticed the first time around, and this time I notice that there’s another bare hook. I grab my own car keys and fly.

The key that you took with you is the only way to open the gate, but it’s not the only way to get in. It wasn’t too terribly long ago that your father didn’t trust you yet, so we had to find alternative means of trespassing on his property. Though I am much more clumsy this time than the last, the tree still supports my weight and I am able to vault over the fence with only a few scratches to mark my lack of practice.

“I’m sorry,” you say when I find you. I don’t know why I didn’t think to look for you here before. This place is you almost as much as you are. I close the distance between us slowly; I have never been completely comfortable with the way the old wooden dock sways under out weight, but I always feigned confidence for you.

“About what?”

You flick your lit cigarette into the lake like you hope that I won’t notice. I didn’t think that you did that anymore, but at this point I’m so relieved that you’re still around that I don’t care about your vices. I fold myself up beside you as you puzzle out an answer.

“I’m sorry that I took off. I just…I don’t feel like me sometimes.”

One of the first things that I noticed about you was how uncomfortable you were in your own skin. All I’ve ever tried to do is make you realize how beautiful you are.

“But when you’re here, you do.”

You keep your eyes on the water, at the exact spot where your cigarette disappeared. You wind an arm around me and I fold into you like I always have.

“When I’m here,” you say, shifting so that my head can rest in the cradle of your shoulder, “I do.”

You press your mouth against my hair and breathe me in and that small bit of contact is how I know that we’re going to be okay for now.

If I only I could convince myself that now could last forever.

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Wept

I fell to my knees and wept because that’s what’s expected of someone who has just been told that their father is dead.

I fell to my knees and wept in front of the principal, the counselor, my favorite teacher, and my best friend, none of whom had any idea what the correct response was to this magnitude of meltdown.

I fell to my knees and wept despite the fact that my mother was absent, though to be fair she was rarely around when it mattered the most.

I fell to my knees and wept because for the first time in eight years I will be able to sleep peacefully at night without barricading the door first.

Laugh

I like it when I can make you laugh.

Because then the fissure lines that she left in her wake fuse together and for a split second I know that I made you forget whatever it was that she did to you.

And I’m not saying that I’ve been commissioned to come after all the king’s horses and all the king’s men and once and for all put you to rights again. I can’t see that far into the future, nor would I want to.

But I do know that you need a friend.

So for now I’m content with being the girl who makes you laugh.

The Novice Writer’s Manifesto

Everything that I read about writing tells me that I’m not a “real” writer.

Because I don’t put words to paper every day.

Because I allow writer’s block to overwhelm me from time to time.

Because, for now at least, I have no choice but to let writing be a hobby instead of a career.

And I get it, I really do. I see where, if you’re looking from the outside, in it can seem like I’m not putting as much effort into this whole word craft thing as I should be.

But with all due respect, sir, ma’am, you were one of the lucky ones. And I’m not saying that your journey to wherever you happen to be right now was all peaches and cream because I know that it wasn’t. But at some point in time and space, the stars aligned for you and someone liked what you had to say. And I’m very, very happy for you but my path can’t be like yours.

Don’t get me wrong: I’m not trying to make excuses. I realize that a lot of the time I’m lazy. That I have to shape up, as it were, and put the pen to paper or fingers to the keyboard if I’m ever going to amount to anything. And oh, I do. You should see how fast the words fly when that pinprick of light widens into a pool and then a gushing stream of insight and inspiration and conversation and gibberish and what have you.

But those moments are fleeting.

I ask you, though, to watch me carefully. My mind is never idle. At any one moment a torrent of words is crashing through my head as I taste them each individually looking for that one, that one word that will light the spark and maybe one day set the world on fire.

Or maybe at that moment I’m acting as God and an incubator in one, nursing and creating and fleshing out these beautiful, heartbreaking characters whose stories deserve to be told in worlds that deserve to see the sun that is the hungry eye poring over the pages.

In my head there are a thousand, billion stars and a hundred million thoughts and dozen-dozen stories chomping at the bit to be told.

But they’re all tangled. And right now, right now I’m too young to know what to do with them.

Isn’t that a silly excuse? Age?

But right now, I think that’s the only difference between you and me, sir, ma’am.

Because I’ve been doing this whole world-building thing for as long as I can remember, but as long as I can remember is just barely half or a quarter of what you can remember and I can’t do anything about it.

It’s so hard to know exactly what you want to do with your life but have your mind hold it hostage so that when anyone asks what you’ve done of substance lately, all that you can do is stare because you know that your substance and their substance are completely different things.
I guess that what I’m trying to say is that I get where your advice is coming from, sir, ma’am, but you’re not going to scare me off. I am a first-class knot untangler, and one day I will be able to make sense of this mess of brilliance in my head.

I’m here to stay. And you will see me again.

Her

Once upon a time there was a girl who hated boredom because she read a poem once about how curiosity didn’t kill the cat.

She moved mountains and warm fronts and tectonic plates.

She fought pirates, poverty, and the common cold.

She saved the damsel, the prince, the evil king, and herself.

She found God, the Devil, the butcher, the baker, and the candlestick maker.

She hopped, skipped, jumped, cartwheeled, nosedived, and soared.

She felt much, hated little, and loved most of all.

She failed and fell and learned to keep Band-Aids in her back pocket and a story up her sleeve for a rainy day.

She didn’t want, but she made sure to need, because needing was what kept her going.

And at the end of it all they took her memories and bottled them up and called them dementia, because surely no one lives a life that full anymore what with speed dating and conference calls to keep us occupied in a world where “slowing down” means carving out an hour and a half to watch the brand new Rom-com that’s come out a dozen times already.

But I believe her.

And I decided a long time ago that she’s who I want to be when I grow up.