Sunday, July 26, 2015

Elliot's Turn

She sat in a dark corner with her knees drawn to her chest hiding her face behind a golden curtain of greasy hair. At this point, she could only wrap her arms around her legs, rock slightly, and marvel at the complete insanity of the predicament she had gotten herself into. She imagined life as a huge 8-legged monster covered in scales with fangs dripping poison. Everything that could go wrong lately had gone wrong. She lost her mom, the one person she had ever been able to count on. Her dog was missing. Her boss fired her for missing work for her mom’s funeral. She found out that her best
friend was sleeping with that bartender guy that she was crushing on. She didn’t have enough money to pay her electricity bill…or she wouldn’t be able to eat all month. Either way. And, the hits just kept coming, big and small. For the longest time now, it had been one thing after another.

The temptation was strong to follow that brick road in her mind that wove inside the labyrinth she had created in therapy so long ago.

If she could get to the heart of that maze…

When she was a kid, she saw her dad shoot her mom (her real mom not the woman who raised her, the woman she grew up calling Mom). That’s what they say anyway. “They” being everyone else really. Therapists who wanted to know all about her feelings, social workers reviewing her case, kids at school whispering in the hallways… She didn’t really remember it herself though. That’s the day Elliot first showed up, and Elliot saved her from remembering it. Elliot always seemed to know just when she needed him to take over, to rescue her from herself. She missed that about his presence more than anything. Right now, she is sure that Elliot would know what to do if she could just get to him at the heart of the labyrinth.

So, she sat in the corner in grave contemplation. It wasn’t ever really her decision to stop Elliot anyway. She loved Elliot. She needed him. But, it scared the shit out of Mom when he was there, and quite frankly, he wasn’t exactly nice to her mom. Or anyone for that matter. He was kind of a dick, but what do you expect from the person that saw all the fucked up shit in her/their life? He was the one who saved her all the time from the things that went wrong starting with her dad killing her real mom then himself…from Mr. Lancaster, the prick of a foster dad who spent his nights on top of her until Elliot showed up…from the Dunns, those psycho super religious folks who beat her until she bled for questioning the instruction she got from the “homeschool” lessons she got… He intervened and typically scared the shit out of whoever was hurting her or kept her shielded from things she didn’t want to see or hear or deal with. Whenever she thought about ending it all, he was there to take over and give her space and a break to retreat inside herself and hide.

But there was a flipside to that, too. Elliot was her savior, but once he was out, things quickly spiraled out of control. He was into a lifestyle completely different than hers. He wanted women. Lots of women. He drank. Smoked. Partied. Loved cocaine. For all the good he did, he was still a destructive force that left their body used and abused when he retreated back to that little cave inside her, and that often left her as mentally vulnerable as she was before he took control of things. The change gave her new things to battle and focus on, though, and mostly that was ok. He cleaned up her messes, and she cleaned up his.


Why had she ever agreed to lose that part of herself? It gave everyone else peace of mind, but what about what she needed and wanted?

If she didn’t have her mom, and she didn’t have Elliot, she wouldn’t last through all this stress. She could feel that desperation rising, threatening to boil over. A couple mornings already she had woken up thinking what it might be like if she never had to lay in that dingy sheet covered bed in her tiny, stale apartment ever again.

In her building sense of hopelessness knowing that even just one more thing going wrong might be THE THING that toppled whatever grip she had on life, she knew she had no choice.

She had no map and no memory of how to solve the maze she herself had constructed, and she had no idea how crazy Elliot would be after all this time locked inside her or if he would even still be there, but she found herself with her eyes closed picturing the opening to the labyrinth all the same.

Friday, July 17, 2015

Her Own Skin

Today’s post is a writing challenge. This is how it works: participating bloggers picked 4 – 6 words or short phrases for someone else to craft into a post. All words must be used at least once and all the posts will be unique as each writer has received their own set of words. That’s the challenge, but here’s a fun twist--no one who’s participating knows who got their words and in what direction the writer will take them. Until now.

My words are:

July ~ vacation ~ seashell ~ full moon ~ dancing ~ shooting star

They were submitted by:


Denny laid on the strewn leaves looking up at the full moon hoping she might catch a shooting star dancing across the sky. The heat of the South in late July had baked the ground keeping her warm despite the breeze blowing her hair into a tangled mess of chestnut curls. She should be on vacation right now hunting for seashells along a white, sandy beach or sitting on a lakeside dock somewhere dipping her toes in the water and hoping beyond hope that nothing eats them. Instead, she’s here, staring at the sky.

Even still, she has no desire to move from this spot. Maybe ever. Maybe it would be perfectly fine if her body melded with the ground below her so she never had to miss this sky full of stars or her shooting star. Instead, though, she would have to tear herself away and drag her feet back to reality, back to the home where she had never been accepted and probably never would.

At home, she had a closet full of dresses that felt like alien skin when she wore them. A costume. The walls of her room were pink. The comforter was white lace. There were posters of boy bands and a box full of Seventeen and Elle and Vogue. She hadn’t had a choice or voice with any of it. In fact, she had worked all summer long to save up and buy mens’ jeans and tshirts and baseball caps and boxer shorts that she didn’t dare let her mama find. Instead, whenever she went out, she donned one of her dresses just long enough to stop off by Jessica’s (her girlfriend) to change out of the costume and into what made her feel like herself.

When she was alone, she could walk and talk the way she wanted. She could have on makeup and still wear the clothes that she loved, that fit *her* the way she wanted. When she was out of that house from under her mama’s prying, judgmental eyes, she was free—free to be herself instead of forced and modeled into this box full of expectations and stereotypes, a box build on social acceptance that she didn’t really give two shits about. It was mama who was always asking what people would think if she went out in “that getup” before all her clothes were trashed and replaced with frilly dresses. It was mama that wore that face of shame whenever she heard of her classmates call her Denny instead of Denise, and it was mama that flew into a rage every time Denny wasn’t “ladylike.”

If she was fully trans instead of more or less androgynous, Mama would probably lock her in the basement. As it was, Denny still thought of herself as a girl, still accepted “her” and “she,” but she wanted to be her own definition, and Mama didn’t accept that girl could mean whatever anybody wanted. To Mama, "girl" meant something very specific.

In short, Denny had her own way, and Mama refused to let her live it, so Denny hid and planned and plotted. She had to. If she was ever going to live in her own skin by her own rules, she had to get out of that house, out of the stupid dresses and the box they came out of, and away from Mama’s expectations and ignorance.

Too many times she read stories about people like her (well…people like her and trans people) killing themselves to get out. She could understand that. It’s not like it hadn’t crossed her mind a time or two when she was younger and especially when Mama burned all her clothes and redecorated her room. But, she wasn’t going to do that. She couldn’t do that. As much as she dreamed about a future where she didn’t have to hide anymore, a life where she could really be herself, love who she wants to love without fear, dress and be who she is without being bullied by the one person who was supposed to love her no matter what, she couldn’t give up on that. She couldn’t give up on the future just because her now was a little difficult.

Still, sometimes in her weakest moments she felt like giving up, giving in, and letting go. If it wasn’t for Jessica and Jessica’s parents being more accepting, she wouldn’t have any support or anyone to turn to when she had those dark days. When the bullshit Mama put her through seemed to cave in on her all at once, and she felt like she would be crushed under the weight of it, she couldn't help but think that being free of that anycway possible would be the sweetest release. This wasn't her end, though. She refused to let the darkness win when so many people made sure she knew that they were there to help her carry that weight whenever she needed them.

The breeze picked up again blowing the long hair Denny mostly hated across her face tickling her nose. She reaches up, moves it out the way, and sighs before she finally pushes herself up from the ground giving one last look up at the stars—a sight that never gets old, never fails her the way so many people have—and trudges off towards home. She smoothes the dress and pulls her hair back into a loose ponytail, throws on an extra coat of lip gloss and feels the tension pull her shoulders even tighter.

She may as well have been going into battle.


Links to the other “Use Your Words” posts: Baking In A Tornado Spatulas on Parade The Momisodes The Bergham’s Life Chronicles Southern Belle Charm Dinosaur Superhero Mommy Confessions of a part-time working mom Someone Else’s Genius Climaxed Never Ever Give Up Hope Sparkly Poetic Weirdo The Diary of an Alzheimer’s Caregiver The Angrivated Mom

Friday, July 10, 2015


Today is Secret Subject Swap Day! This week 12 brave bloggers picked a secret subject for someone else and were assigned a secret subject to interpret in their own style. Today we are all simultaneously divulging our topics and submitting our posts.

My prompt is: Write a short dialogue between two pieces of fruit.

It was submitted by:

oh man...this. when I saw this in the prompt I said some 4 letter words. ha. But, I channeled my inner Tom Robbins on this, and I think it turned out alright. 

Strawberry is jolted awake from fractured sleep by the murmurings of those around her. She adjusts
her position and whispers to the rest of the group, “is it time? Again?”

No one gives her a distinct answer with all of them worried about their own red skin and tiny seeds, so she listens closely trying to decipher what else may be happening above the noise in the small green plastic prison she has been living in for the last few days.

She hears it. The whirring of that thing, the execution chamber. Her destiny, it seems, is to be wrongfully accused of bruising her neighbor (it wasn’t her fault!) and to become a smoothie. She shudders uncontrollably and tries to push herself to the very bottom of the crate. It’s no use inside the cramped quarters, but in her attempts, she hears a smallish banana next to the crate crying.

“Shhhh…. It’s going to be okay, Banana. Don’t cry,” she says even as she is pushed harder and harder against the crate as the rest of the berries above her fought for the bottom position.

Banana’s tears come harder and faster then. Strawberry looks timidly toward the refrigerator door expecting it to snatch open at any time with hands reaching for the crate and the banana, for it all to be over in the pretentious buzz of organic health obsession.

“I-i-it’s NOT going to be okaaaaaayyyy,” the tiny yellow crescent sobs.

Strawberry knows deep down that the kid, he can’t possibly be older than his teens, is probably right. There isn’t much that can be done, but crying definitely isn’t going to help things, so she knows she has to calm him down. She listens again searching above the cries and bickering that has broken out above and below her for the sound of the blender. She thinks she hears a squeaky sort of crack when that godawful bright light shines down from above. Fuck, she thinks. It’s got to be time. Why couldn’t I go out with some sort of dignity instead of shoved in this crate only to be sliced and diced so some guy with a stupid looking mustache can pretend like he’s oh so hip. She squints against the light expecting at any moment to feel the lurch of the crate being carried out by the hands of the mustachioed man in red suspenders, but he reaches for the drawer instead pulling out some kale? Or maybe spinach? And a mango.

She really isn’t impressed by that combination.

For a moment she is stuck on considering just what kind of person blends together mango and spinach when a good heaving wail from the banana grabs her attention again.

“Kid, hey… Come on, now. Crying isn’t going to fix anything. Let’s think this through. Maybe we can get out of here.” Inside, she knows there’s no real chance, but maybe just maybe she can make the last few hours for the banana a little more comfortable anyway. At least it would give her something to do while the rest of the berries whisper and mumble and gossip all around her with their conspiracy theories about Monsanto putting them in line to be executed by hipster for being organic.

“What are you on about?” the banana finally says with a sniffle.

God, she thinks, he acts more like he’s 10 than a teen, but surely he can’t be that young. No one in their right mind would pick a banana that young. She doesn’t say anything of the sort,though, and ignores the sarcastic tone in his voice instead saying carefully and calmly, “I mean, that maybe we can come up with some sort of plan to open the door. It can’t be that difficult.” She thinks he will most certainly know she’s lying by the sound of her voice, but shockingly, he seems to think it over for a moment. His crying stopped anyway, and the silence seems full instead of empty and awkward. Plot formulation has impregnated the silence.

“Watcha think we can do, roll a big bottle off the shelf, then? Maybe the door will pop open?”

“It could, but first we have to work out how to get me out of here and whether there’s a bottle that’s big enough to do the job.”

“Why can’t you just climb out?”

“All the other berries are in here, too, and I can’t get out with them in the way.”

“Well. Tell ‘em to move it.”

“They don’t have anywhere to go, kid.”

“I’m not a damn kid.”

“That’s the least of our problems right now. Let’s not worry about arguing and get something sorted out.”

“Whatever, old lady.”


“I thought you said that’s the least of our problems, eh? Works both ways doesn’t it?”

“Fair enough. Can you tip the crate I’m in?”

“I can give it a shot. No promises, o’course.”

Banana rocks himself closer to the crate trying his best to push the full crate of berries forward on the shelf so maybe a few would spill out and give Strawberry a better chance at freedom. He tries and tries and tries. Strawberry can’t see much in the darkness of the fridge, but she can hear him grunting from exhaustion and feel a slight sway of the flimsy plastic crate from time to time which causes panicked cries from above her.

“You push from in there towards the door while I push the crate from behind back here,” he says.

So she gives it her best shot. Again and again they count to three and both push at the same time. She can feel the crate give a little each time, but neither of them has enough force to completely tip the crate.

After a while the two of them, breathing heavy and utterly drained, take a break from the effort. There are no words to share, desperation having stolen any sentiments that could be expressed in such a moment. Strawberry reaches blindly with a leaf through a hole in the crate finding the banana. The two of them fall asleep feeling a little less alone which is all they could ask for in the last days of life.


Here are links to all the sites now featuring Secret Subject Swap posts. Sit back, grab a cup, and check them all out. See you there: Baking In A Tornado Spatulas on Parade Dinosaur Superhero Mommy The Momisodes The Bergham’s Life Chronicles Southern Belle Charm Confessions of a part-time working mom The Lieber Family Battered Hope Someone Else’s Genius Climaxed Sparkly Poetic Weirdo

Sunday, July 5, 2015

To The Boy

We were sitting, you on your DS and me reading while snacking on cauliflower with cucumber dill dip, when you asked if you could try a bite. I, knowing your extremely picky palette, was not exactly hopeful that you would enjoy but acquiesced anyway partially out of morbid curiosity imagining what sort of gagging noise and horrid face you might make this time after you had barely touched your tongue to it. To my surprise, you didn’t squint your face up and making your usual round of retching noises. Instead, it was a face of mild interest followed by only half a grimace, but in my steadfast watchfulness I noticed the smile threatening to spill forth before you opened your mouth.

“Not bad,” you said. “It has a bit of an aftertaste, but I can DILL with it.”

You didn’t burst out laughing, but looked at me knowingly, cunningly even. The joke laid out so well, so punny, that I couldn’t stop my giggles giving that look on your face a little more strength and a whole lot more satisfaction.

I was struck in that moment how it seems that overnight you’ve become something all your own. In the blink of an eye almost, you grew from the sandy blond baby who laughed uncontrollably at the silliest things to making me laugh with your own quick wit, puns, and smartassery.

You’ve evolved from loving any sort of music I play to finding your own styles and loves, to discovering things that speak to your own core.

We watch movies or read books together and notice different things gathering different meanings from what we see or read and enjoying the chance to talk about it and enlighten each other.

You have your own taste in clothes no longer content to let me pick it all out and want your hair your way worn the way you want.

I look at you, a perfect mixture of me and your father…you with his eyebrows and my freckles, his eyes and my nose, his lips and my smirk and it's hard not to think of you as my baby. It seems nearly impossible that you, almost 10, have grown from the tiny little wiggler that thought it quite hilarious to play in the toilet or eat cat food or shove a green bean up your nose to the almost-tall-as-me ball of limitless energy you are now.

I see my influence, assuredly, whenever we talk, when you make me laugh, when you give me that look of exasperation because I. just. Don’t. get. It. I can’t look at you without seeing a little bit of me, can’t talk to you without knowing that I’ve been someone you love and look up to, and that certainly makes me proud, full to bursting. But, I suppose the thing that makes me proudest is that same independence that shocked me as a sat giggling at your little pun. I love that you are becoming your own self not content to mirror me, to share in everything I love because I love it. I am so proud to watch you explore and to want to exert your own identity on the world, to seek out what makes you happy unafraid that I won’t like what you do. You only care if *you* like it and that is an incredible feat at just shy of 10 years.

I want so desperately for you to be your own man, and I see you are headed in just that direction. It thrills me to no end to see these changes in you, changes you are unafraid to make because you know through and through that I will love you always and forever no matter what you like or who you are. I have told you that time and again, but it means so much to see that you have taken that to heart and are content knowing that even if you do listen to dubstep, I love you no less even while I squint my face and make retching noises.