Friday, March 25, 2016

Good connections

Today's Awesome was more about what didn't happen than what did.  The nasty confrontation that was shaping up to result in irreparable damage, not to mention the police and ambulance (sadly, very real possibilities when dealing with people who have rage issues) somehow managed to be avoided.  AWESOME.

The nail from the bottom of the bed we were carrying down the street (see confrontation avoidance) missed my artery when it dug into my wrist. It didn't miss by much but miss it did. AWESOME.

While walking to work later in the day, it occurred to me that sometimes a Good Thing is something little.  Like the fact that carrying furniture up and down stairs burns a lot of calories. So I ate an extra triangle of Toblerone for medicinal purposes - to keep my strength up.

There was a flock of sparrows sitting on the neighbour's hedge. The dark green and faded red of the leaves provided nice camoflage for the little brown birds. As I approached their roost all but one flew off. Quivering, it seemed to hope that lack of movement would make me walk by. I stopped and marveled at how vibrant the browns, greys and beiges of its feathers were to my heightened senses. Sugar and adrenaline hadn't left my system yet and on some level I understood how desperately that little sparrow wanted to be invisible.  I averted my eyes and moved on. I swear I heard it sigh with relief before the rest of the flock surrounded it, chattering loudly.

Tuesday, March 22, 2016


For the fourth night in a row, I waited beneath a poplar tree at the edge of the parking lot. Exactly five minutes past closing, three women exited through the bookstore's back door.

All three looked in my direction to check if I was there. They neither knew nor cared that I could hear them. The words homeless, stalker, pervert all reached my grubby ears. Fear pointed out my filthy garments, broken spoke bicycle piled high with all my worldly possessions.

The lit ember of my cigarette gave my eyes an unearthly glow. The women shuddered as they walked past. The older brunette wrinkled her nose as if to seal off the heavy smell of woodsmoke from my campfire. Perhaps she was sensitive and caught a whiff of my unwashed skin and clothes.

The youngest, a thin girl in her late teens turned and looked back over her shoulder. She expected me to race from my post behind the tree and cut them down before they could reach their vehicles. They said goodbye to each other in haste and departed for safety.

I waited.

It didn't take long for the other to step out from behind the dumpster. Clothed in fine cloth, with clean hair and the sharp tang of aftershave, he was everything I was not. Night and day, clean and filthy, danger and safety.

He was a man women would stop and sigh for. I am not. Yet neither of us were as we seemed.

"Again, brother? How long will you watch over them?"

"For as long as I must"

"You know her time is coming. All men, and women, must die."


We both paused to think to of the middle woman. The blonde with short-cropped hair, a strength of character and confidence that kept her moving forward, towards opportunities and people no matter their circumstance. She'd looked at me, wondered if there was some way she could intervene, to improve my lot in life.

"They need not all suffer." I held my ground. His grin faded and he slipped back into the shadows.

Friday, March 18, 2016

The dead man's shirt

When I pulled the screws out of the pocket, I ripped the dead man's flannel shirt. He wasn't still wearing it. When Old Man Wilkes down the corner of our street died, he didn't have any family except for a spinster sister he hadn't spoken with in 20 years. The city paid my boyfriend and his best friend to clean out the house. Most of it went to the trash, some went to a secondhand charity shop, and most of the flannel shirts came home with Ben.

Ben and I went our separate ways a couple of years later but I kept one of the flannel shirts. Old Man Wilkes was a handyman, known throughout town as the go-to guy for everything from fixing a lamp to small engine repair. He also did all the woodwork in his house. The red, blue and white checked shirt came to me with a few small tears and a splotch or two of paint. I wore it for inspiration whenever I had small repairs to do around the house or yard. I could feel Old Man Wilkes' skills seep into my bones through the worn flannel.

When I ripped the pocket, some of the magic spilled out with the screws. My fingers turned into chair legs and I lined things up like Picasso. Duct tape. The solution slogged its way through my foggy brain. I grabbed a silver roll of versatility to secure the pocket to the shirt. Things went back to level and my dexterity returned. From that moment on, I kept hardware in my pants pockets. The shirt was precious.

One of the side effects of wearing the shirt for too long was a desperate need for a drink. Not any drink but gin. The cheap stuff too, the kind of gin you would swear Old Man Wilkes made in his bathtub. You could taste the juniper berries strong and fresh picked. I'd be able to finish my project but would sweat all the way through thinking about how bad I needed that gin. The second my work was done I'd jump into my car and head straight to the seedy bar on the far side of town.

I know you're thinking I should have just unbuttoned the shirt and walked away. Believe me, I tried. I was straight-jacketed into that thing until I got my gin, pinched a waitress and satisfied Old Man Wilkes. He wore me as much as I wore his shirt. The old man was a pervert. He'd stare at the neighbour's underage girl through my eyes and think about how he'd do her. It didn't bother him in the least that he was working with a woman's body now. That just made it all the more fun.

I'd go months without donning that shirt. Months as a normal woman who worked in high end retail, dated wonderful men and never touched a drop of alcohol. Then the downspout would freeze to the side of the house, a cupboard door would come loose or the roof would leak. I'd try to hire someone else to do it but I had a reputation. No one would dream of doing odd jobs for me. Everyone knew I could do a much better job.

I was the town's new handyman. So what if I was a little strange? I never hurt anyone and I did great work. I'd slip on the shirt and do the job.

And the dead man laughed.

Tuesday, March 15, 2016


She couldn't get that horrible picture out of her head.  It burrowed in deep and no amount of rubbing her eyes would release it.  Like a grit of sand, it was dry, scratchy and made her eye twitch in the days that followed.

The twitch of memory nearly drove her insane.

The image was burned into her retinas.  The twitch worsened until her eye bled, blistered and eventually burst.

Pus and blood poured from her eye, slid down her face, filled her mouth with acidic taste of fear, loathing and bitterness - a molotov cocktail of despair.

The weight of it was too much to bear.  She put her head down on the kitchen table. Like a 3D printer, the image slid from her eye and landed on the table beside her blood stained cheek.

Her husband's closed eyes, head thrown back, his hands buried in another woman's hair. The woman bent forward the long line of her bare back curving round over his lap and between his legs. The wife's reflection in the mirror across from the occupied marriage bed. A glint of silver from the knife in her hand.

Wednesday, March 09, 2016


Alicia tightened the belt on her dressing gown. She took a deep breath then entered the living room to confront her ex-fiance.

"Hey, I'm sorry." Katie rose from the couch then tipped back onto Brad in a fit of giggles. "Really sorry."

"I'll deal with you later." Alicia added a glare to punctuate her promise.

"It's not Katie's fault." Brad rolled her sister onto the couch and covered her with a blanket.  "I used her to get to you."


"Because you shut me out. You wouldn't let me explain - "

"Explain what?  That you have a thing for my mother?  My mother, Brad." She walked past him to the kitchen.

Naturally, he followed. "It wasn't what you thought."

"You weren't masturbating to a photo of my mother?"

"Yes. No."

"What do you mean no?  I saw you. I heard you."  She shuddered at the memory.  "I think it would have been easier if I'd caught you in bed with my brother."

"What?" He reared back as if she'd slapped him.  "I wouldn't cheat on you."

"But you did."  She forced herself to at least appear relaxed.  "Jason is adorable. Closer to your age than mine.  It's not your fault if you're gay."

"I'm not gay."

"Honestly." She warmed to the subject.  "Who could blame you?He's fun.  Free-living. A heart as big as Alaska."

"An alcoholic." Brad interrupted her.  "I'm not gay."

"It would be easier if you were."

"No, it wouldn't. I love you Leesh, only you."

She refused to soften because of the sincerity in his eyes.  "You're hot for my mother.  How romantic.  That's exactly what every woman wants to hear."

She stepped away from him.  "I knew had a thing for older women. I am 12 years older than you but my mother!"

He grabbed her hands to prevent her from leaving the room.  "It was an old photo."

"That makes it worse."

"She showed it to me before dinner.  She was younger than Katie in that picture.  It was startling how much she looked like I imagine you did at that age."

"You imagine my mother was me?"  She tugged on her hands but he only held tighter.  "That's even more messed up than I thought."

"I've never seen you like that - young and carefree."

"You really should stop talking. And let go."

"No. I won't." He loosened his grip but held on.  "I saw this photo of your mom and I thought about she had her youth but she stole yours.  She threw the responsibility on your shoulders because she knew you'd take care of them. She can't face Jason's drinking, Katie's reckless attitude or your dad's gambling.  She can't do it. You hold the family together. You do.  Not her."

"Now I'm a martyr?  Whatever did you see in me?"

With one hand holding her wrist, he reached into his pocket.  She recoiled at the sight of the worn, crumpled photo.

"You," he answered.  "I always saw joy in you.  Love and sacrifice yes but mostly joy."  He held the picture out and she turned her head.  The counter could use a good scrubbing. A used mug sat at the bottom of the sink.

"I've heard you laugh with complete abandon, your head thrown back as if you couldn't hold all that joy in your body."  His voice was low, husky and full of love.  "I've felt you loose, generous, thrilled to be alive in the moment."

He dropped her hand.  Her fingers were cold without his touch. She was cold without his touch.  She straightened. Nothing he said would change what he'd done.

"It had been so long since you'd been like that I'd forgotten you knew how to have fun."

"Fun? Who has time for fun when they're keeping their siblings out of jail and the family from being homeless?"

"They let you.  They don't do anything to fix their own problems because you're so much better at it."  He dropped his weight back against the kitchen table. Shoulders bowed with defeat.  "I know you love them.  They're your family."

She watched sorrow chase shadows across his eyes.  "I missed you, Alicia.  So damn much. The longer I looked at that photo, the more I realized how much I missed you.  Your scent, your touch."  He looked her straight in the eyes.  "Your laugh."

"I'm not that Alicia any more."

"You could be." He placed the photograph of her mother beside her on the kitchen counter.  "For your sake, you should be.  Don't let her steal the rest of your life."

Something inside her crumbled.  He skimmed his forefinger down her cheek, followed the path of a tear she didn't know had fallen.

"I'll let myself out."

Alicia closed her eyes and let him go.

Friday, March 04, 2016


Last night, I dreamt I was writing about an actress about to take the stage and sing for the opera.  With each word I visualized the exact scene. When I decided she'd be better pregnant and waddling out past the father of her child, I could see the actress do so. We engaged in conversation about her role and its significance to her life. Words on the page became real but dialogue appeared on the page. It was exciting. Proof that good writing comes to life. Then the floor beneath the stage gave way to a bridge collapsing over the river. Cement blocks crumbled.  Supports tumbled. The actress vaporized. Numbers erased themselves from falling pages. And suddenly the stage was in a field within earshot of another larger stage.

Real life occurred all about me, peopled by strangers I know in another world.  Words appeared in the air in front of me - narration come to life.  As I walked, talked, directed and organized, I interacted with Real Life and Imagination simultaneously to the point where I no longer knew which was which.  And when I awoke, the strange dream continued.

Living inside a matrix of life connected by thought and action, explored and influenced to the point where life and art not only imitated each other but were one and the same. We are all one. My pain is your pain. My fear is your fear. My joy is also yours. As are my desires, dreams and wishes.

I am one with the Raven outside my tree, one with the Wolf at my front door, a reflection of the Moon and as brilliant as the Sun.  We are all connected and interwoven and part of each other.  Writing is life. Life is writing.

Create beauty. Even that which is strange or ugly to us is beautiful to another. Turn your head slightly, change your perspective and behold.

Wednesday, March 02, 2016


After living without it for so long, she convinced herself she didn't need it. She was older now with different needs, wants and a body that wasn't 20 anymore.

Sure, she'd asked her friends to keep an eye out for her, read the newspaper ads and had even searched online.  Nothing. She'd heard all the platitudes, "You'll find it when you're ready", "What's for you won't go past" and the ever popular "When you least expect it".

It turned out the last one was the most accurate.  One special night,  begun with the expectation of the usual beer and pizza, the prize presented itself to her.Her eyelids fluttered closed as a rich dark scent filled her with anticipation.  She didn't realize how much she had missed it until the first taste. Her lips parted and her tongue darted out.  As sensation flooded her senses, the urge to memorize every single nuance was strong. She needed to hold onto this feeling, this joy so that she didn't go so long without experiencing it ever again.

She had dismissed the magic in order to miss it less but no more. And all the time she analyzed all that was wonderful - taste, texture, delight - her body melted.  It was the perfect kiss of flavour, sweet yet spicy.  Cool and smooth with just the right amount of pressure against her tongue.

She kept her eyes closed and enjoyed the moment.

If she never felt this again she wanted to remember how good it was to experience the taste of Hagen-Daas Mayan Chocolate ice cream.