Sunday, May 25, 2014

The Narrative

I've been writing my whole life. I used to have notebooks that I would fill up, then retire. I would stack these notebooks like they were family in a corner, hidden from any attraction that may make a person see them. I placed them in boxes.

I remember the contents of those notebooks, I guess for the most part. I could show them to you, but when I became a Christian, another well meaning but deceived soul convinced me to burn them. To him, they were sin. My old life was a sinful life.

This isn't entirely false. I wasn't a very savory person. I was really good at getting you to like me at first...then creating destruction in your lives.

I burned everything in my back yard with another profoundly hurting new Christian. We burned our entire past as if we were not made up of our experiences. We vowed never to revisit them. I failed even moments after when I felt the hurt of my written thoughts go up in flames.

I started writing again. At first I wrote for me because of my desire for people to know who I really was...then maybe narcissism, I began writing for anyone in the world to read. I thought it was pretty great that a guy in Egypt could be reading my thoughts and maybe could relate.

I got my first commenter a few weeks into writing my thoughts. She was awesome! She said wonderful things and told me that my words were different and cool and impacting. My second soon after. I gained some internet friends and readers and began to get a little momentum.

Then my best friend (who has always been my brother) committed suicide on Christmas in the night. For a week I held it in because my guts were twisted and torn and I hadn't the words to express what was happening to me. I was sure that I was actually dying.

A week after, I had to write something down. I had to tell his story. I didn't want to exploit him, so I left most details out. I just needed my memory of him to become reality to other people. I poured out my torn guts to the world to read. People started reading. A lot of people started reading. People wanted to know what would happen next...if I would fall apart or rise above again.

I liked it. Reading the words of strangers helped me get through the worst years of my life. I kept writing what was inside of me. Eventually people got tired of the truth.

Which is...

You weep and wail and eventually, you get better and rise above.

People in our culture aren't always attracted to moving on. People want drama. People want a broken man spilling his life out onto the internet without restrictions.

People stopped reading. I spoke about other things than my brother and they stopped reading. A few remained interested in my life, but most jumped to the next blog tragedy.

This is America. People want to be entertained. People want drama and action. They want to feel like they are part of the story. When they realize they aren't, they leave the narrative.

You may have noticed I have shifted my focus on this blog from my personal thoughts to short fiction stories. I have done so because of the reasons above. I have realized that people want to read about things that they fear or can relate to. My thoughts are present and apparent in those, but are masked for your own entertainment.

I am simply not that interesting.

All of that being said. I love that people still read my thoughts. I love those that continue to care about me. Thank you! 


Thanks for reading...Z

Monday, May 19, 2014

In The Night

I was laying on my bed in the night. I listened to my mother talk to her friends in the living room. My mom was never much for having people over. I remember trying to listen to the conversations they were having, but for a 6 or 7 year old, words are difficult. I got bored and started running my fingers over the outlines of the brown sponge painted wall. On my imagination, I could make shapes of faces and pigs and monsters. My mom would sponge paint the house, in my child's memory once a year. She would always make sure the house was new and clean. That was here thing. She cleaned up every day.

This night, I tried to listen and heard only muffled laughter and creaking footboards as they ventured to the restroom. One particular creaking led past the restroom to my room. I listened to it as if got to my door, then stopped. I waited. I thought it must have been my mom. She was listening to see if was still awake. I closed my eyes to pretend in case she came it. She has been known to come in my room in the night and lay her hands on my back and pray for me while I pretended to sleep. She never knew I was almost always awake.

My sleeping bag zipped up over my head moments after I heard the door open. I was held down and the zipper closed me inside of the bag. I couldn't breathe all of the sudden. I struggled, fearing the devil had come to take me. I managed to break the zipper in part and saw his face, grimacing as if he hated the fact that I was alive and wasn't dead. He kept holding me down and covered my face until it was still again and he was gone.

Everything was gone. The distant laughter and the creaking of the floor. Just me and silence remained. I lay there for an eternity it would seem. Then I went to sleep. I would never tell my mother of that story, but would remember it always. It's strange how the mind works. I wasn't afraid to tell her, I just didn't. I guess I couldn't really be sure if what happened was real or a terrible dream.

It was something. And it happened. And it is in my memories.


Thanks for reading...Z

Saturday, May 17, 2014

The Other Side of the Valley (A Series of Anonymous Stories- The Conclusion)

He gave it all he had. He gave it everything. He cannot reach his feet. He gave it everything he's got and it wasn't enough and he can't bare to look. He's doubled over and doubled over. He cannot stand on his feet or even reach his knees. He drops lifeless to the pavement. This was to be his renaissance. This was to be his great awakening. He pictured this moment to be the moment he proved that all of the fight was still to come and he had more left in him to keep fighting.

Instead he cannot lift his chin off of the cement. He is trying and anger and disappointment and hatred, but he cannot move anymore. He is all done. The pain is unbearable. The pain his body feels does not compare to the pain of losing your his last hope. He gave himself to this race. He thought if he could finish this, he could move on and finish anything. There are still miles to go.

But he can not finish. He can just lay on the pavement and weep as he has never wept in his 35 years of life. He could weep like this forever, he thinks. He could give nothing more and the world would still demand more. This is the very moment he willfully and consciously gives up and allows himself to finally accept that his wife has gone. She's gone somewhere that he cannot follow least for now.

He weeps as if he were a baby apart from his mother's arms. He weeps as a man that has nothing. He weeps until his guts wretch and wail with him.


Until a hand touches his back. She grabbed his back as she did her son who had passed away long ago. She was a shut-in for so long, but is giving up no longer. Today, she isn't letting anyone fall down. She has failed too many. She cannot carry him. She reaches beneath is chest and struggles to lift him.

Then another hand reaches beneath him. He came looking for a reason to forget that girl who he could never reach. He reached beneath and helps her lift this weary body. They struggled and moan as they try to make this man a man again. He hadn't the strength to assist. He still could not move his arms or legs. The lactic acid had it's way all around. They struggled and fought and shouted to God for help. They weren't giving up.

Then suddenly, without a sound, another hand, and another. A girl who lost her love without knowing she had truly loved him, and a man that forgot that true love doesn't reside in another person, but in God and himself. They all brought a man to his feet and carried him, and themselves, across the finish line. They crossed with grace and tears. They crossed looking to the sky and weeping. They crossed as a family, together in their loss.

It was then that they realized that they were never alone. They were family from the start. God was in them. Despite their pain, there really was something on the other side. On the other side of the valley.


Thanks for reading...Z

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Becoming Sunlight (A Series of Anonymous Stories- Part Four)

Before his hair went grey he married a girl. She was from Wisconsin, we was from Minnesota. They met at an airport on his way to California to see his family. She was working as a stewardess and offered him double shots on his Bloody Mary on the plane awaiting take-off.

He worked at the steel mill and she ran a small day care from her home. Life worked for the two of them. They had developed a team at home...avoiding the things that triggered anger and focusing on the things that produced satisfaction. This was the American dream before cameras could exploit it.

At night they prayed at the bedside with their kids. They ate every meal together and mom and dad listened as the kids told jokes they had learned at school and shared stories they all would laugh at for completely different reasons. Every night, dad would sit on his knees next to their beds and tell them stories about when he was a kid and compare to when they were kids. Obviously their lives were easier.

His son sat directly in front of his casket when he died. He just stared at the face of his father and wondered how he did it so easily. His wife in the back of the room talking to family and friends. He has been sitting on that chair all day looking at the past and present of his father and she never stops talking. She hasn't even asked him if he's ok. It's his father that's dead and she has nothing to say to him now? After all of this talking?

Weeks later, they sway with the waves as he holds the vase that holds his father in tiny particles. He pours them onto the surface of the water off the coast of Normandy, the place his father always spoke about. He looks over to his wife who isn't holding his hand and saw nothing. She isn't there. She is with someone else in her mind. She had left long ago, but had no real offer strong enough to convince her to leave him. She does now and they both know it.

She leaves the day after they get home. She stands face to face with him. She was an idiot, but never a coward. She says, "I don't love you, I love someone else. I'm sorry for your father and I'm sorry I've lied, but I'm leaving." No goodbye. She just opened the door and walked out into the sun and out of his life.

He just stared like he did at his father as she walked away. He knew he couldn't change any of it. They were always going to go. He wanted to stop her. He wanted to ask his dad what to do because his dad always knew what to do. Instead he stood there looking at a shadow until it became sunlight.


Thanks for reading...Z

Sunday, May 11, 2014

My Wife, the Mother

She gets up before the sun to run. She comes home to shower and get the kids to my mother's and off to work everyday to be at work by 7. She comes home after 8+ hours of work to make dinner and rush Aevry off to figure skating, then Caeden off to baseball, then back to pick them both up. By the time I get home at 8PM, she's exhausted, but still has time to be my wife and listen to my ignorant gripes about work.

She is the picture of a mother to me. She is my beautiful wife, whom I appreciate and love. She is the very thing that gives me hope when I'm weary at work. I get to come home to her. She works so hard and sacrifices so much for this family. I could never give her enough credit or reward for who she is and what she does, so I'll write it down and give her this letter of thanks.

Thank you Laura for being the best mom that our kids could have the privilege to hug every morning. Thank you for being the best wife that I could ever deserve. Thank you Laura for working so hard for our family and giving yourself without hesitation to make all of us happy.

We love you more than the sun that rises and thank you for who you are to us every day, rain or shine. You keep us together.

Sing. Migrate.
Thanks for reading...Z

Saturday, May 10, 2014

Death Row (A Series of Anonymous Stories- Part Three)

I set the photo of him and his father next to the towel he used for drying his sweat after mowing the lawn. He was very particular about certain things. He had a certain towel he used at a certain time for a certain purpose. He was meticulous about things that belonged to him. I guess that's why I left. His habits were never limited to things.

Some people weren't meant to be married. Maybe they were raised a different way or they just don't get it. Marriage is a promise for life. If you can't keep a secret, a life-long promise is a bit much to expect. I was raised in four different homes that had resulted in broken promises. It's easy. You say what will get you the best results and if later they become inconvenient, you leave without a trace. So I left.

It wasn't because I didn't love him as a friend and fellow human traveling on a similar path at a similar speed. It was simply because I am really bad with promises. So the result is the mess I leave as I pass through. I've hurt so many people. He was just the best of them.

Now he is gone. He's dead forever.

He used to spend hours sitting next to this bouquet of flowers beside the road. It wasn't the typical car accident bouquet. No one had crashed here. He sat there in remembrance of his mother, who dropped dead on the concrete of a heart attack where those flowers lay. She was 56 years old and looked just like him. She was walking to the grocery store.

I left him while he was sitting next to his memorial. I put my hand on his shoulder for a moment and I felt sympathy for him, then I walked away, packed my things,  and left.

I never saw him again.

Beside his body was a pack of cigarettes, some receipts, and a note that said nothing. Just a blank piece of paper.

He was gone and I am the same person I was before. I feel sadness that he is gone and I am here still, but nothing else.

I started placing his things in a circle on my floor to try and figure out our lives. I put postcards we meant to send to family, and letters we never sealed on the floor. I put pictures of our most precious times next to them. I smelled the clippings from our eldest daughter's first haircut, and let myself remember the smell of a child. The smell of my child. The smell of another's child.

I killed him. I know it. He was a simple man. He used simple words, laced with profanities and slang. He worked a simple man's job and laughed at simple jokes like someone falling down a flight of stairs. He watched television shows on the chair and laughed so loud it billowed onto my last nerve. Truth is, he disgusted me at the end. He was so happy all the time and never gave up much of a fight. He drank beer and gave me what I wanted, but never what I wanted from life.

He collected things that were so trivial. Nick-knacks that reminded him that we'd been to New York and to Toronto. Trinkets that reminded him of the smell of the woods in Up North, Michigan. To a stranger, this collection of little things would be out of context and gaudy. For me, I remember the stories behind all of them.

I've created something that will destroy me. I've created a memorial. Just like the one on the side of the road that he insisted on visiting and up-keeping so much. These plastic and ceramic ornaments remind me of who he was and what I did. I feel the remorse of a man on death row ready to die. He has nothing to lose or deny anymore. He has his death and his memories. A guy on death row has placed all of his trinkets in boxes in his mind and removes them to remind himself that the world turns still...without him. I guess that's what I am.

His father called today. He stayed on the phone and just cried, never saying anything before he hung up. He's been doing this for months. I've been sitting in the middle of his keepsakes doing the same thing. Every day I make a mental memo to put this stuff in storage and move forward, but everyday I find myself smelling his shirts and winding up the crank on the music box he got me when we were dating. When things were beautiful and I felt like I was floating on air with him.

I don't understand how one thing goes from one extreme to another in an instant. We were unbreakable, then I yearned for something else. Like I said. I have run out of excuses. I can't blame another person but myself. There is no point in pointing out his faults. I was his killer. The end. I deserve the worst and I'm determined to get it.


Thanks for reading...Z

Monday, May 5, 2014

Turning the Weak Away (A Series of Anonymous Stories- Part Two)

As I write this, my hands are shaking. I may be nervous, because that's my way. It's my way or the highway. It's my way or no way. It's my way because there isn't any other way.

So many options for so many people, but this is my only one... to sit and wait it out. "The panic won't last forever," I tell myself. I tell myself to remember to breathe as I am squinting so hard from the nerves that I cannot see clearly. I've been laying on this couch for weeks. My children must think I'm crazy and maybe they are right. I can't be that mom on TV that takes their kids to parks and has play dates and home schools. I am too tired. My kids don't need that. They need very little actually.

I guess I should start at the beginning with a short version of my history. I was born of a pastor's wife and a dictator father. I had many siblings, but never really had a close sister or brother. I was smarter than my siblings, but had a free spirit. Just enough spirit to bring a frown to my parent's faces and the shake of their fingers. I was trouble to them...never a child. They never loved me. I was always someone that constantly sinned. My father told me to go to the devil and he never looked at me again. I grew older and lost them both to cancer. When they died, I was the only one there with them. No one else cared anymore. I was the last one left, their most rebellious daughter. I held both of their hands as they slipped away into the night. Neither died painfully and both with the dignity that Fentanyl provides. I was only 20 when they left. My siblings scattered off into the country an spread out far from each other. I stayed here.

I have three kids. Two are sleeping in the room next to me currently sleeping to Matlock in the background on their television. The first child is nowhere or anywhere. I wouldn't really know. She was taken from me right away because I had nothing. I have this framed picture of her when she was born on my mantle and in my purse. Sometimes I still feel her moving in my belly. I remember what it was like to feel her responding to my diet or movement. I love Mexican food. She obviously hated it, so she would thrash around in my belly pissed off at every bite I took.

I have lived single for decades, but I have a really loyal friend that sleeps on the lazyboy chair in the living room. She is a lesbian and I know she is in love with me, but I can't tell her there is no chance. She means too much to me, so we both pace around, wishing for something better. I can't leave the house, I'm too scared of what's out there. She can't leave because she's afraid of what's out there. The world is so cruel and scary and we are comfortable with each other.

I have asked for help with the groceries many times from my church. Twice my pastor has tried to make me pay with my body for the help and I have always declined. Instead I would volunteer for the worst jobs at the church. I'm a proud woman, but not at the expense of two empty bellies.

I have kept my faith. I have stood strong. I did everything I was supposed to do to atone for my sins and yet, my eldest still found it best to go to sleep on a rope. She called me and said "Hey" on my voicemail. I was sleeping. I was always sleeping. She put herself into the sky without real warning. I sat in the front row of her funeral and realized that god wasn't there anymore. Maybe never was. God may not be. If He is, He has turned the weak away.

All of my prayers. All of my tears. Gone. Up into nowhere to no one. I am alone and there is no help coming from anyone.


Thanks for reading...Z