Friday, May 23, 2014

As I Lay Dying (the Lost Pages)


       The sun come up like it always does. Slow first then it catches up with itself and runs fast into the sky. Darl told me the sun didn't really rise and run into the sky. Darl is my brother. Darl      And then I sat down and stared out into the water. The waves crash    one by one     the water sprays up. I wanted to go in the water. But Dewey Dell told me not to. If I go into the water then maybe she will see me and come back. She don't like salt water      she'll swallow it and the holes will close forever and she won't be able to breathe. Jewel sits off by himself. At night I heard a noise coming from Jewel when he was sleeping. Jewel don't sleep like we do. When everyone was sleeping I crept up to the water to see if I could see her. The lights weren't bright enough. I told the moon to turn on but I didn't talk loud enough cause I didn't want to wake up Dewey Dell. If I woke up Dewey Dell then she would have catched me trying to save her and then I wouldn't be able to save her. Dewey Dell hasn't been eating like us. She says she ain't hungry. But then I see her go and eat more than she should.     And once I seen her getting sick in the grass.
             And when the lights go off and the sun says hello to the moon and the moon says hello to the sky and we all go to sleep I dream of him. And the music is playing only I can't see him I only hear him     hes laughing and I say Darl why you laughing? And he keeps on laughing. And I say Darl why you laughing? And he keeps on laughing.   Once I couldn't go to sleep cause all I can hear is laughing.   And the waves don't crash they only laugh. And the moon was laughing cause I couldn't see him when the clouds rolled across his face. And the sand was laughing cause it got into my shirt and I couldn't stop itching. Then the sun come back up.       Slowly.
        Darl said the sun don't really rise. That's why they took him away   Darl   They took him away because he was crazy. Darl     Darl is my brother. Darl went crazy.    We walked on the beach and I could walk real close to the waves. And when they roll up I run into them. If I run fast enough they could take me with them back   back and I could go and save her. Then she'd be back.  The sand is cold.   We reach a new spot we ain't been to yet. He's laughing. And we sit down real quiet like someone was sleeping and we don't want to wake him. And we sit and no one talked. And then Pa got up and says he was gonna go looking for some wood to start a fire. I didn't say nothing. He keeps on laughing. I sit there by myself and I watch the water. I ain't gonna look away. When she comes I ain't gonna miss her. I'm gonna be right there. And when she jumps out of the water I will run in and save her cause she can't go on walking. She got no legs.  Cash got one leg.   Pa's been gone a long while.  But I keep on watching.  Dewey Dell tells me to go on and help Pa bring the wood. I ain't gonna stop watching. Dewey Dell yells at me again.   The clouds are pacing back n' forth across the sky and the sun keeps going away     and coming back     then he goes again. I get up cause Dewey Dell tells me to and I keep watching only I ain't watching where I was walking and then I fall    hard. The wood cut my hand. The wood's got holes in him.  My mother is a fish.  I put the holes so she could breathe.   When Pa come back he makes a fire. The fire is hot and the water is cold. Tonight I'm going to save her. When the moon says hello, and everyone was sleeping I go down to the water. I stand there and I smell the salt and I can feel her. She is there. I know it. I put my leg in one at a time. The waves crash lightly. Then I go the rest of he way. The waves are getting madder and they start crashing hard. And I tell them to stop. But they ain't stopping.  And I say stop waves I can't see her. And I can't see her.  And she is gone.  And I can't see nothing. And when I open my eyes its cloudy like when the fog comes and you can't see nothing. I can't see nothing.  Darl   Darl  Darl why are you laughing? Darl   I start crying only no one even knows it cause the water come and he takes my tears and he throws them into his ocean and my tears are drowned. And she can't see them. She is gone.   Then I close my eyes and I say goodbye. When I open my eyes I'm on my back and the sun is out. And Pa is looking at me. I can't hear nothing. I see their mouths move but I ain't hear nothing.      Darl why are you laughing?  And I look back out to the water only I know she ain't gonna be there. And I look away  and then I close my eyes again. And I see him.   Darl why are you laughing? Darl   Darl  Darl is my brother.    Darl went crazy.

Tuesday, May 13, 2014


Driving on 495 is Hell because it takes forever. Exit 3...2..1.. then it starts over again. I think about what Rock Village (Exit 3) is really like. The sun is burning my eyes. When I was little, or maybe just all the time, my Dad would always bug me about sunglasses. We'd pass a sunglasses stand in the mall, "Andre, sunglasses!" or a cheap sunglasses vendor at the flea market, "Andre... sunglasses!"
"Dad!" I'd say with deep annoyance.

I never liked sunglasses. I mean no offense to them but for me sunglasses were always like chopping off all your hair. It looks good for a day and then you hate it. Well, at least I do.Once at the mall my Mom and I were trying on sunglasses. I tried on one pair, a real 'cool' looking black pair that covered my eyebrows (very important) and we both went, "Oooh!" I looked good. Eventually I realized that I did not look good and threw them on the floor of my car, where the lenses popped out.

The truth is, I don't need sunglasses because I have a visor. When the sun is in front of you, you put it down. When it's to the side of you, you put it to the side. Easy. But sometimes the sun makes its way to a place unreachable by the visor, and this is what makes me wish that sunglasses and I got along better.

Exit 5 is no better than any other exit. Two lanes instead of three. There should always be three. There should always be extendable visors. But there should never be sun in your eyes. Sometimes I think that sunglasses are pretend. They don't really protect  your eyes because it still hurts to look at the sun. And while you're not suppose to look at the sun, you do anyways..because you're not supposed to. Ninety-three million miles away and it still stings like hell. Home is ninety-three million miles away. Home? Is this what I call home now? Yuck.

By exit 10 the sun starts to turn orange, which means it's almost gone. I don't need the visor anymore but I always forget to put it back up. Driving around at night with the visor down may be embarrassing, but at least no one really cares. Or notices. When the visor has been down for a long time though, and you put it back up, you're amazed at how much more you can see.

Somewhere near exit 17 when the lanes go back to three, I smell my purple Beauty & the Beast lunchbox from kindergarten and I smile. I miss when things were simple. I miss the smell of plastic. There was a time when I had never driven over the bridge. So much has changed since then. All I want to do is crawl inside my lunchbox and drink juice boxes. Forget about this 'being an adult' crap.

Exit 22 is fast approaching. It's night (when did that happen?). The sun is gone but something continues to bug me. I guess it could be because I can't find the right CD, or maybe because my left leg is getting achy. But it's probably because I've decided that I hate this drive and it's stupid $1.55 toll. But that's not till later.

Exit 22 and I've changed my mind. Growing up is what bugs me the most, maybe even more than losing him.

No that isn't true.

Now I am missing the sun, even though it gets in the way. It's still my fault that I don't like sunglasses. Pretend or not they help a little. I should have listened to him all those times. What would he say now looking down on me..."Sunglasses! Why can't you just get a pair of sunglasses?"

Something like that I guess.

Why can't I, I wonder? I guess I figure that a visor is really all I need. Stupid sunglasses. Who needs them anyway? Even if I can't see the road I know where I'm going because this is the ninety-third millionth time I've driven down it. And it still stings like hell.

Friday, May 9, 2014


Sometimes I sit and think about how I'll never remember every single day of my life. All those days where I felt sad, angry, happy, nervous---all fade into nothingness. Does that freak anyone else out? Our entire lives are lived on a day to day basis but then when you're in the present, you can't remember specifics about anything past a day or two. All we have are strings of memories. Memories that can be meaningful or not. Good or bad. What does your mind choose to remember?

When I'm having trouble falling asleep, I close my eyes and think of the first 5 memories that come to mind. I try to pull back as far as I can but it gets more and more difficult as the years go by. I don't want to forget those memories and so I think it's important to pool these from time to time. Get them down on paper in an effort to secure them even further.

1. I remember being forced to hang out with several people in my younger days. Parents should stop doing this because evidently it was unpleasant enough for me to commit it to memory. I remember going to other kids' houses and it smelling like farts. Their mom took us out to ice cream and she got me a small cup of cookie dough. I remember I didn't like cones. A small was really like a large to a normal person so a small to a 5 or 6 year old must have been enormous. I remember I could only eat about 5 spoonfuls before giving up. This other "mom" was concerned and told my mom that I didn't eat all my ice cream.

2. I remember riding my bike up and down my road. I used to pretend it was a car. 3 times up and down my road meant that I had driven in my car about 5 miles. My car changed with whatever I perceived to be my 'dream car' at the time. A white Neon. A green pathfinder. Who was I to judge cars? I just wanted to feel old. Occasionally I'd be old enough to have children, but for some reason I was always a single mom. My American Girl Dolls Felicity and Molly were my children. Felicity was older and rode horses. Molly was younger and had trouble in school.

3. I remember riding home from school on the bus one afternoon. I pretended the trees were dinosaurs. Friendly ones that stood there and watched the cars and buses go by as if it were perfectly normal to them.

4. I remember when my friends and I brought our beanie babies to school and decided that a fun game would be to throw them up into the trees and wait till they fell down. Once, I threw my black bear beanie baby so high that it got stuck in the tree. The janitor had to come and get it down with a ladder. I watched from the classroom window as my beanie baby finally plopped down and then was reunited with it after lunch.

5. I remember the dread of going to CCD classes after school. We'd get on a bus on Tuesdays and the mean old man from the church would be there. You'd get on and he'd point to the seat he wanted you to sit in. The bus seats were stuff, ugly and brown. We were given stale oatmeal cookies and flat sprite as a snack. If they wanted kids to stick with religion they should have thought about providing better snacks. Because now when I think about church I just think about eating stale oatmeal cookies and flat sprite. No one wants that.

Wednesday, May 7, 2014


For as long as I can remember--I've been dreaming. My earliest dream memory is from when I was 7 years old. I had a dream I was standing on a bike pump and when I pumped it, it floated me up into the sky--so high that I could touch a rainbow. Man, that is cheesy. But I still remember that feeling of weightlessness even to this day. That bottomless-ness that begins like a pit in your stomach and then seems to grow and pour out of your head.

These days my dreams are less exciting.

Lately, I keep having dreams about showers. I'm in a house--either my own or visiting someone else's and I have a choice of maybe 5 different showers. They are all spacious, unique and sometimes out in the open but I'm never nervous about anyone seeing me naked. Even that time the shower was in a curtain-less gazebo in the front yard of my childhood home.

What does this mean?

Dreams about your teeth falling out means you are worried about something. Dreams about school and suddenly remembering that you haven't been to any classes and are in danger of failing means you feel like there's something you forgot to do. It seems like dreams are always full of anxieties.

But what does endless possibilities of showers mean? Am I anxious that I smell? Doubtful--I smell like lilacs.
Anxious about decision making? I do have a lot of trouble making decisions...

I give up let's consult the dream oracle...


To dream that you are taking a shower in clear, fresh water symbolizes spiritual or physical renewal and forgiveness. You are washing the burdens out of your life. Alternatively, the dream may be a metaphor that you are "showering" someone with gifts or love.

To dream that you are taking a shower in muddy dirty water signifies misfortune and losses.

To dream that you are showering with your clothes on means that even though you may change your outer appearances, it does not change who you are on the inside. Alternatively, your dream indicates that you are unwilling to let your guard down. You are still keeping up a protective barrier between you and others.

To dream that you are showering with someone suggests that there is something that you need to "come clean" or confess to this person. It is time to be honest. Perhaps the dream is telling you that  you need to let down your guard. If you are showering with a group of people, then it means that you are feeling exposed. You feel that your sense of privacy is being invaded.

Well that's not entirely helpful.

I think what it comes down to is that I've been watching too much HGTV. I get seduced by the beautiful bathrooms on display and fantasize about one day owning both a soaking tub and a shower with the deluxe rainfall shower head.

Who knows. maybe one day I will have five different bathrooms and showers to choose from. Or maybe one day I will be forced to shower in a gazebo in the front lawn. Or maybe it really is difficult for me to put my guard down.

Dreams are always annoying like that.

Super Panda Man

Willis McKinley slid his key into the lock of the door. The sound of the lock opening was reassuring as Willis looked back cautiously at his date. As the door opened he silently prayed that the horrid smell would not still be there. He had been up all night prior to this scrubbing and sanitizing every inch of the apartment.

“Wow this is a really great place”, Sarah began to walk around the apartment touching picture frames and furniture, it looked as though she were inspecting for dust. Willis breathed a sigh of relief. Maybe this date would turn out better than the last ones did. Although whenever Willis thought that, the date always took a sudden turn for the worst.

“Ooh! A bamboo plant! I love these, aren’t they beautiful? And you have so much of it! Wow this is really amazing. What are these, teeth marks?” Sarah asked as she moved closer inspecting where large teeth marks could be seen in the bamboo stalks. Willis quickly moved over to Sarah and took her hand leading her away from plant and onto the couch.

“Yeah my uh sister sometimes brings her dog over and he goes a little nuts with the bamboo”.

“Those were pretty big teeth marks he must be a big dog huh?”

“Yeah.” Willis was growing red and his hands became clammy. He wiped his hands on his pants and grabbed the TV remote.

“I had a really nice time tonight, Willis” Sarah moved closer and Willis could feel his face getting redder, and his penis getting stiffer. They began kissing, awkwardly at first like when you are still learning how to do it, and then getting more and more passionate with every gasp for air. Sarah began unbuttoning Willis’s shirt and sliding her hand slowly down his chest. She let out a soft giggle,

“Jeez I’m gonna have to start calling you Austin Powers or something.” Willis looked down his shirt in horror. There were the beginning stages of his transformation taking it’s toll; a mass of tiny black and white hairs. Willis jerked up immediately hitting Sarah’s face in the process.

“Ow! What the hell? Jesus, I think my nose is bleeding!” Sarah exclaimed angrily at Willis as he high tailed it to the bathroom. He shut the door and ripped off his clothes. He watched in disappointment as his erection became hidden from view, amid a patch of black and white fur. His arms and legs were shortening and his head became enlarged.

“What the fuck Willis my nose really is bleeding get out of there!” Sarah was pounding on the bathroom door, as Willis took one last look at the remaining parts of his still human self.

“Sarah, I-um I’m sorry I’m really sick....” Willis voice came out like a low sounding growl.

“Do you need help?” The tone of Sarah’s voice made Willis think that she had hoped that he would say no.

“NOO.” The growling noise became more pronounced, “No. Just, just leave please. Sorry”, a deep loud groan erupted from Willis chest. “Maybe we can do this again some other night?” Willis listened for a reply but was met by the unpleasant sound of the door slamming shut.

Willis tried to look at himself in the mirror but the top of his head was all he could see. He sighed and opened the bathroom door, difficult to do with his panda hands and crawled slowly on all fours to the large bamboo plant and bit off a large piece. Willis took a seat on the couch and continued watching TV. Gnawing on his bamboo stalk Willis stared dazedly at the television set. Outside, the streets of New York City seemed unusually relaxed, and Willis silently wished his life could be the same.


“I told you Mom, I don’t know how to control it!” Willis was screaming into the phone. His mother and father lived in Chicago and were the ever-popular Mr. and Mrs. Invisible. Willis’s family was compromised of super heroes, all unique and special in their own ways. Willis first began showing signs of his superpower about two years ago after graduating from college. His super power seemed strange, as no one in his family had ever exhibited the ability to change into a panda. At first the changes occurred every few months or so, but lately they had been happening every few days. Willis sighed into the phone, while he walked around the apartment picking up bites and pieces of uneaten bamboo. 

“When did it happen this time?” Mrs. McKinley asked her voice was high pitched and had certain airiness about it. Willis rolled his eyes.

“I was with a girl Mom”

“Did you have an erection?” 


“Well that explains it honey, when you don’t know how to control your super powers they are usually brought on by excitement or a sudden change in emotion, usually hormone levels. When your father first began exhibiting powers we were at this cute little Italian restaurant and the food was taking a long time to come out, so we decided to make the wait go by a little faster…”

“Mom please. I really am not in the mood to hear about you and Dad’s sex life.” Mrs. McKinley laughed,

“Oh ok honey you’re right. Listen, why don’t you go see Dr. Ogglethorp, I’m sure he’ll be able to fit you in. It is fall you know, crime rates are usually low.” 

Willis dreaded she would say this. Dr. Ogglethorp was the worst kind of doctor you could imagine. Bad breath and cold hands, a shaky old man who looked like he should have retired about twenty years ago. Willis hadn’t been to see him since he was fifteen and before he started showing powers. He had told Willis many times that he doubted Willis would ever become a superhero. He’d chuckle and then shake his head and say, 

“Yes, yes, the only one in your family to not have super powers. Pity. Pity. Here have a lollipop” Willis always fantasized about pushing him out the window. 

“Yeah ok Mom, look I have to go and clean up this mess. It smells like a zoo in here.” 

“Okay honey, don’t be discouraged we love you!” 

Willis hung up the phone, but couldn't help but feel discouraged at the way things had been turning out. The panda power would last only until morning usually, but it still prevented Willis from having a normal life. It would be one thing if he could control it, and another thing if he had actually wanted to turn into a Panda. Willis couldn't think of a worse superpower, except maybe for his cousin Barry who had the unfortunate ability to change into a fruit. But even Barry didn't face the danger of turning into a casaba melon while being jerked off by a girl. Willis abandoned his cleaning and set off to dig up Dr. Ogglethorp’s number. At this point Willis would do anything to solve his panda problems. 


Willis sat in Dr. Ogglethorp’s office, staring at the walls of various super heroes. The pictures made him feel sick as he looked at the joyful faces of all the most famous super heroes in the world. 

“Ah. Willis good to see you again young man, good to see you indeed.” Dr. Ogglethorp had entered the office unexpectedly as Willis was lost in his thoughts. 

“So what brings you here today my boy?” Willis gritted his teeth, he despised being called a boy at the age of twenty-three. 

“Well I’ve been having troubles controlling my superpower-“ Willis began.

“Your superpower?” Dr. Ogglethorp started rifling through Willis’ file. “But that can’t be…”

“Well it seems to be that way Doctor. Every time I’m with a girl I turn into a panda and then it doesn’t go away till morning and my apartment smells like a zoo not to mention-.”

“A.. a panda did you say?” Dr. Ogglethorp was looking at Willis with a strange look in his eyes. It was a look that Willis had never seen before. 


Ogglethorp got up from his desk and went over to a large file cabinet in the corner of his office. 

“Doctor?” Willis turned around to watch Dr. Ogglethorp tear through the file cabinet, as Willis caught a few words being muttered from his mouth.

“….impossible……one hundred years….curious….”

“Doctor?” Dr. Ogglethorp cleared his throat. 

“Willis. Have you ever heard of the “Golden Hero”?” 

“Well yeah vaguely...” Willis thought back to when he was younger and his mother told him bedtime stories of superheroes. One in particular he recalled bore the name the “Golden Hero” It was a story about a legendary hero who is born into the world once every century. He was the most powerful hero of all and it was said that he would bring light to a world shrouded in darkness. As a child Willis had no idea what that meant, but his mother always described it to him best by saying, “Well honey he’s going to save everyone’s butts” 

“Wait a minute, you’re not trying to tell me that I am the Golden Hero are you?”

“There is an oracle who foresees the form of the Golden Hero, it would appear that his prediction for this century was…well a panda.”

“I’m the Golden Hero?”

“Yes, you see the Golden Hero’s powers take much longer to manifest because of the strength they must achieve. That is why I thought you were not going to be a superhero. Apparently I was quite mistaken.” Dr. Ogglethorp let out a nervous chuckle.

“I’m the Golden Hero!” Willis thought about that statement briefly before realizing the extremity of the matter.

“Oh my god.” Willis was suddenly horrified. 

“I’m a fucking panda and I have to save the world?” 

“Yes, isn’t it wonderful!” Dr. Ogglethorp beamed at him and Willis’ desire to push him out the window had never been stronger. 

“Now we must get to work. You need to start training this instant.” Dr. Ogglethorp had a certain giddiness to his voice, like a child begging his mother to start opening Christmas presents early. 

“Ok, um but how much training are we talking about here because I’m pretty sure all that pandas do is eat bamboo and sit around. How am I suppose to be a superhero if all I can do is eat bamboo?” Dr. Ogglethorp was eyeing Willis with a look of contempt. It was a look that made Willis wish he hadn’t said anything at all.

“You have a lot to learn about pandas my boy. Humans often misinterpret pandas, and their true strength is always unexpected. Yes, yes pandas are the most mysterious of all creatures. Have you ever seen the teeth of a panda, boy?” 

Willis thought this was a stupid question as he had seen his own panda teeth several times. Willis laughed and said,“Yeah those big teeth must really hurt the bamboo when they bite it. Ouch.” Willis spoke with an air of sarcasm, laughing at the seriousness of Dr. Ogglethorp’s tone.

“Those teeth my dear boy, are intended for crushing through bones.” Willis pondered this statement for quite some time. A panda using his teeth to kill? Dr. Ogglethorp must have really lost it, thought Willis.

“Right. Well I don’t remember seeing any savage pandas on the Discovery Channel Doctor…” 

Dr. Ogglethorp whacked Willis on the head with his cane, Willis let out a yelp.

“You foolish boy! You are already weak in your mind! Come! Come with me now before it gets any worse!” 

Dr. Ogglethorp pulled Willis along with him as he hobbled to the back of his office and through a secret door hidden in the wall. He led Willis down a musty corridor where the lights blinked on and off and gave Willis the peculiar sensation of being in a haunted house. Finally they came to a room that only contained a large machine that looked like some giant ancient time machine. 

“What is that?” Willis asked cautiously unsure of whether or not it was a time machine or a torture device.

“This is my teleporter, I am sending you away.”

“Wait what? I can’t just leave now I have work to go to in the morning!” Dr. Ogglethorp pushed him into the decrepit machine and slammed the door shut. Dr. Ogglethorp’s voice came over a speaker inside the machine,

“Yes well this is much more important I’m afraid.” Willis could hear the distinct sound of several buttons being pushed and then the machine turning on and getting ready to send Willis to his destination. 

“Wait where am I going? Hello?!” Dr. Ogglethorp smiled eerily at Willis through the small rounded window in the door of the machine. 

“Why, to China of course.” A white beam of light surrounded Willis, blinding him and making him wish that he had never spoken badly of pandas. 


The wheels on the Thompson’s minivan are covered in mud. The kind of mud that will stay there for years.
Nancy is behind the wheel. She is driving her four daughters. Her four daughters are unaware that their mother has been crying, on and off for hours now. The crying is normal. The car ride is normal. They are thirty miles outside of Flagstaff and Nancy’s crying stops. She throws off her sunglasses and smiles.

Caroline and Lily are the youngest. Rachel and Sydney are the oldest. Caroline is listening to her tape player. She is the only girl in school without a Discman. Caroline’s finger presses down on the stop button. It makes a sound like knuckles are being cracked. Lily is coloring Belle’s skirt purple. The crayon spills out over the lines. Caroline takes her headphones off her head and says, “Belle’s skirt looks ugly purple.” Lily doesn't hear this, and starts to color Belle’s hair green.

The minivan passes a billboard. There is a picture of a woman in her underwear. Nancy starts to cry again. Rachel is reading a book. With one hand she is turning the page. With her other hand she gives her mother back her sunglasses.

Nancy is thirty-five years old. Each of her daughters has a different father, but they all look like she does. Dull brown hair, with almond shaped eyes and pale skin. Freckles only on their arms, and a nose that looks like it is broken. This is the thirteenth time she has moved her life. Although in reality, her life is inside the minivan.

Sydney is looking out the window. She is watching the sky fly by. Nancy’s tears stop again. Caroline presses the play button on her tape player, and Rachel turns the page. Lily starts coloring the sky red.
“Belle looks prettiest in purple,” she says.

The minivan pulls into a gas station. Nancy opens the door and takes her purse that looks more like a suitcase. She gives Rachel five dollars and says, “Get some lunch for you and your sisters.” Nancy walks inside to ask for the key to the bathroom.

Inside the gas station the girls fight over who gets what color Sno-ball. Fighting is pointless. Caroline always gets pink. Lily always gets purple. Rachel always gets green. And Sydney is given white. They take the Sno-balls to the cashier. The total is $4.20. Caroline steals a penny from the dish. The girls open their Sno-balls and sit on the concrete. The minivan watches them from its parking place. It is the color of the sky only it’s rusted in almost every spot. The sun melts the Sno-balls so that chocolate and colored flakes of coconut stick to their hands. Nancy comes out of the bathroom and gets back in the car.

Nancy tries to remember the last time she felt happy. She worries it was when Lily was born. That is almost five years ago. Five years of crying. She wonders why she has not tried to kill herself. The door to the minivan slides open and three girls climb inside. Rachel opens the passenger door. They drive onto the highway once more.

“Where are we going to Mama?” Caroline asks, but it comes out more like a yell.
“I don’t know baby.” Nancy smiles in the rear view mirror at her daughters. Lily drops her crayons. They spill all over the car.
“I’m going to throw up.”

Nancy pulls over the minivan. She helps Lily to an empty spot near the field. Lily throws up purple and brown. Sydney gets out and walks over to a fence. There are cows on the other side. Ugly ones. Not black and white like you see in movies, but brown and old looking. She remembers once how her mother came to talk to one of her teachers. She watched through the door. Her mother was laughing. She had never seen her mother laugh. The teacher shook her mother’s hand. Her laughing turned to sobbing. Sydney ran into the bathroom and heard her mother come in not too long after. She heard her take one of her pills. The cows don’t even moo like real cows she says to herself and goes back to the car.

Caroline tells Sydney that she wants to be a M.I.L.F.

“You can’t be a M.I.L.F. unless you are a mother.” Says Sydney.

Caroline laughs and says she is a mom because her dolls all tell her that they love her. Sydney tells her that their toys are at home, and they aren't going back home. Caroline starts to cry.

Lily climbs back into the car and starts to color again. Nancy starts up the car and asks Caroline why she is crying.

“I’m a terrible mother” she says. Nancy laughs and pulls the car back onto the highway.

“I’ll never be a M.I.L.F.” Caroline says to herself and shakes her head sadly.

Lily asks what a M.I.L.F. is and Caroline says it means Mother I’d Like to Feel.

“It means Mother I’d Like to Fuck Caroline.” Sydney says from the back seat still looking out the window.

Nancy laughs again. The girls know it is not a real laugh. No one has ever heard her real laugh. Another billboard goes by. An old pinup girl advertising a new housing development. “Orchard Grove Houses” it says. Fifty Miles.

“Well I’d rather have a mother I could feel” says Caroline she puts a new tape into her tape player.

 Lily signs her name under her picture. Nancy starts to cry and Sydney counts the cows. Rachel turns another page.

Waiting Room

I've been staring at my hands all day. Examining and touching every scratch, every line. Tracing over the deep grooves in my palm and following the river of the dark blue veins down my wrist. Keeping my eyes focused on the patterns, and my mind away from the obvious.

It’s warm outside but I’m cold in my gown, a faded white sheet with blue and purple diamond patterns. My feet hang limply off the metal table and drum lightly against its sides. I watch the shadows gliding underneath the door, where the smallest inch of light is visible. My heart stops when a shadow lingers for a moment, I breath again as it moves on.

This was always the worst part. Waiting for anything else whether your mail, or your phone to ring is bearable. But waiting in that room, waiting for your name to be called, waiting for the door to open and for the doctor to come in, waiting for some information, even if it’s just on whether or not you’ve caught the flu, is different. It’s Purgatory. This visit has been just like every other six-month check up; only the wait’s been too long so I know that something must be wrong.

My eyes wander down to my feet. I think back to when I used to write poems about talking to my shoes. They were always with me in those poems, walking on the concrete, the sand, the millions of pieces of gum beaten hard into the pavement. Now it was just my feet. They haven’t been to the kinds of places my shoes have, and so they don’t have much to say. My eyes focus past my feet to the cold linoleum floor, and the patterns of blue and purple tiles. I begin to concentrate on the many different ways to look at them.

The door opens; it’s him, the doctor along with four or five students taking notes on clipboards. This does not look good. He tells me they are here to observe the “process”, whatever that is. He begins speaking almost like he’s teaching a class. The students nod their heads and write notes down. I imagine they say something like “the girl looks scared”, “patient does not seem responsive”, “I wonder what Bob is doing this weekend..”. I feel like a lab rat trapped in a maze looking for the cheese. I avoid eye contact and immediately find my salvation with the floor. He talks to me through my mother.

“We've been reviewing your x-rays carefully” he begins.

Blue and purple.

“Looking at past x-rays and today’s, it’s clear that the degree of the curvature has increased.”

The purple squares make a diamond.

“Judging by how rapidly it’s moving-“

Now the blue makes another diamond.

“I’d like to have you wear the brace.”

There it was. What I had been waiting for, what I had been fearing most while sitting on the uncomfortable table, the wax paper crumpling beneath me. A sad violin begins echoing in my head, and I try to digest what is being said. I fear that I will begin to cry. After a few last words (something about wearing it 24 hours for 6 months) he’s gone, wishes me good luck as his sheep follow him out the door. After that everything begins to move fast. The nurse comes to say I can get dressed, and adds she’ll bring in a model of what the brace will look like. My mother assures me the brace is a lot different than the one they show you in that movie in fifth grade, the ugly beige one from the seventies. For instance, it’s not as noticeable; you can wear it underneath clothes, etc.

 I’m dressed, and waiting again. Thoughts begin racing through my head. The nurse is back and hands me what I first think is some kind of medieval torture device, then I realize it’s the 'improved model'. The brace is white and made out of a painfully hard looking plastic, complete with panels that extend above the hips. It looks like an evil corset with three Velcro straps on the back. Clanging noises erupt from the tiny metal pieces when it's moved and it reeks of spray paint and hospital. I decide the only improvement is the color.

I follow my mom out the door and down to the basement to get fitted for my very own torture device. This waiting room is smaller. Tweety Bird is hanging on the wall with a brace on his leg. Maybe this won’t be so bad, even Tweety Bird has a brace. Children are waiting with their braces on their laps, tattooed with stickers of flowers and animals. The brace shop man comes out to collect me. His bald shiny head reflects the fading fluorescent lights. He slaps a brace on my back and pulls the Velcro straps. This isn’t too bad. Then he pulls harder. My ribs feel like they are all breaking at once, like a window shattered by a rock. For a moment I think that I can’t breathe, then I realize that I am. It’s a shortened breath, and every time I inhale the plastic shifts uncomfortably on my skin. I’m suddenly aware of the smell of spray paint mixed with a musty basement odor. I’m aware that this is going to be bad.

I have to sleep on my back tonight. I feel bored and uncomfortable. I stare at my ceiling wishing I could roll over. How can anyone sleep on their back? I think about school, about how I have to wear pants that are too big for me, and how they will also be too short. I’ll have to wear my coat all the time, and find some bag big enough to stash the brace when I have basketball practice. I wait for my eyelids to get heavy, but realize I’m really only waiting for the clock to pass minutes and hours. I feel like I’m in the waiting room again. Another purgatory to decide if I will be able to survive with this change, and how much it will end up affecting my life. I don’t remember when I fell asleep, what I dreamed about, or if the next day was really a school day. I only remember the tiny hardened rivers that had flowed down my cheeks while I waited for the change to take shape.

Confessions of a Mouth Breather

Apparently I am a mouth breather. I can't believe no one told me and now I have to embarrassingly admit it in a public forum. I've decided this is based on several realizations--none of which I'm delighted to tell anyone about but all of which make total sense.

1. I sleep with my mouth open.

I don't know how to fix this. How do you train yourself to breath through your nose while you are sleeping?
Also this causes drooling which makes my desire for separate beds after marriage a reality.

2. I've actually been flossing for almost a whole year now and my gums have not improved.

So take that dentist! Apparently, mouth breathers have gingivitis and heavy plaque build up, which explains why I've had terrible teeth my entire life. Even now when I'm actively trying to improve my gum health, nothing is changing. Mouth breathing research yields copious amounts of evidence that proves this. I am doomed to fail.

3. Controlling my breathing during running is difficult and makes me want to quit.

Running is hard. Like really, really hard and I just realized it's probably even harder for me because I have a hard time regulating my breathing appropriately.

Alright that's enough embarrassment. I don't know how to fix this mouth breathing problem but I've decided that it wouldn't hurt to actively try to stop. In the meantime I'm going to make a conscious effort to practice breathing like a normal person. And metaphorically I'm going to start writing again.

I miss writing. So I've developed a space here where I can freely write with no constraints. No subject is out of bounds. All styles of writing are welcome. Let's flex our brains and start this breathing party!