fiction

Of Rock and Earth

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She clambered up the boulder in Groom Creek, berating herself for being out of breath. Maybe at the top she’d find clarity. She reached the apex, feeling the porous rock under her hands and appreciating it’s sharpened, pockmarked texture from thousands of years of elements and having once been under water. That she could respect; it some how soothed her. There was a time when she lived there, and though she hated the company she had kept, she could always be calmed by her surroundings.

Photo Credit DigitalRvNet

Deep sigh. Just another view. She’d seen beauty, landscapes, created dreams in her head that she lived in life, and each one lacked. She knew that it was due to her own failings in looks. Every dream had to begin with envisioning herself as attractive first, an extra step that stung each time. Everyone who lived the life she envied was pretty, plain and simple. Strength and confidence seems to attract the same. Those that she attracted were the weak and inherently flawed. She wanted maturity, initiative and certainty, something she hoped to have in herself, but wavered all too often. She became ambitious out of need, and resented it.

Through years of hardships, “Be my pillar,” he had said. “Look how I fall, look how I’m so damaged by others that I must be cruel to you, only to forget when it suits me. Be my pillar because I need.” And as she stood like scaffolding for him, arms raised, stiff, floating away from herself and her dreams, motivated by necessity rather than desire, he turned. “Oh, look, I didn’t need you after all. Didn’t need any of it. I guess I was kidding.” And faded away.

She couldn’t remember when she stopped loving him, but she knew it was before he’d come to this conclusion. Whether or not he loved her, it was not the passionate love of a spouse, but that of a child. And that, at 30 years old, was not something she could handle. But was it better to be alone, unloved in her shameful and permanent ugliness, than to be with someone who at least needed her in some sense? Where was that decision? Had she reached a point where she only wanted disposable companionship, having been used and tried to exhaustion? She was thankful there were no children to consider. Now there were sure to be none.

So, another view. Another line of sight that went on forever. It was beauty, made her ache for things that were unreal. The rocks, the stillness, the trees that harbored streams and javelina, deer and sweet smelling earth. And the gentle pine needle covered ground that soften footfalls and emotions. And she’d seen it all before and had some how hoped this time it would be different.

“I used to live here, you know. This one time I accidentally hit a javelina that ran out of the brush into the front of my truck. I stopped short; it shook its head, stood, and rammed the front of the Toyota, annoyed at my intrusion. It couldn’t have been more than 40 pounds, but it was tougher than me.” She said it softly and to no one, just sharing something that made her smile with the wind.

She loved being alone and was never lonely. Her chest and throat hurt in the sunset as she turned, knowing that she’d continue looking for something she could not identify. It was the way she’d always been. And she had accepted it.

Besting the Devil

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I beat the Devil last night.

That’s the wrong phrase, I know; no one can beat the Devil. After all, everyone dies.

I was with a friend. I didn’t recognize him, but then I didn’t recognize myself either. I was in my friend’s car, a large SUV beast, entirely more room then anyone who isn’t a logger or parents to sextuplets needs. We had been out for a drive and stopped at a scenic overlook to talk and think and reflect. He was going through a divorce and I was experiencing a rough patch in my marriage.  He would vent, I would question issues and actions, we would be silent.

And then I said something. I almost wish now that I could remember what it was – almost. But when I try to recall it’s as though someone dubbed over my voice. It was hastily erased and then crudely dubbed over in an obvious manner. What ever I did say had depth and weight and seemed to echo or reverberate in the car and change the air itself.

When I went to continue my companion held up his hand to stop me.

“What?”

“Shhh!” He seemed to be listening for something, but didn’t want to look around for its source.

“What?” I demanded, nervously chuckling.

“He’s here.” My friend, visibly shaken, started the car and began barreling down the road.

“…Wha?…” I asked slowly, stiffening as I realized what I had done. I simply felt it, as my friend had.

You see that sentence I spoke, the one I can’t remember, conjured the Devil. Back in the ‘80’s there was a TV series called The Storyteller and one of the episodes featured the tale of a man who could look through a glass of water and see Death sitting at the foot of a person’s bed. I remember thinking about that, thinking if I looked in the back seat I might see the Devil, but if I looked into the rear-view mirror I knew I would see him staring at me. I couldn’t bring myself to do either.

Satan as depicted by Botticelli

Photo credit Fishing

As we flew down the road, destination unspoken, I gripped the side of my seat.

“What do I do?” I asked wide eyed, scared.

“I don’t know, but he’s here for you.”

“What?! What did I say? Will he go away?” I practically shouted.

“I don’t know!” my friend barked. He was scared, too. “Maybe,” he continued forcing himself back to calm, “Maybe you have to be content. You’re looking for new and shiny things to make you happy. He feeds on anger and unrest. Maybe you have to prove that you’re happy with what you’ve got.”

I thought about this as we drove, digesting each word, feeling the Devil’s stare boring holes into the back of my head. What my friend had said was all true and looked to be my only option, for the time being. After all, most times you see the Devil it’s because somebody wants something so bad they’re making a deal with him. I was going to have to figure out something. It wasn’t my pride that made me want to rid myself of the Devil. It was a feeling of being spoiled and desperate for humility.

My friend dropped me off at my house. I stood a moment outside looking nervously at my home. I thought of my boyfriend inside. Though I hadn’t heard him exit the car, I knew the Devil had gotten out of the SUV when I had stepped out. I knew he was standing just behind my right shoulder. And though I couldn’t bring myself to look at him, I knew he was smiling.

I walked to the front door and let myself in. There was my boyfriend: kind, warm, and welcoming. Though he doesn’t normally cook, he had dinner made and was preparing to dish everything out.  And my boyfriend, so naturally truly happy, couldn’t see the Devil as we walked in together.

This is where things get disappointingly hazy. I could feel a malcontent emotion welling in my stomach. I had the sudden desperate urge to shout at my boyfriend while he was setting the table, like I needed to get something out.

I needed more.

The house projects needed to be completed.

We needed to spend money.

He lacked motivation.

My boyfriend didn’t argue, he just listened. Each word I spat made me angrier, I didn’t know where it was all coming from and yet it had all been there the whole time…and at the same time each comment made me heavy with guilt. I had to stop. I stepped back, though a shadow of myself remained shouting.

The guilt; everything I said was needless and wrong. It was then, while watching myself attempt to argue needless wants and justify unnecessary needs with a boyfriend who was willing to give me the world, that the Devil became satisfied. I could feel him content, so sure was he that he had won – that he would be taking me away – that he called his mistress to my home to join in my downward spiral.

I looked at him this time. I needed to see the smile I could feel spread across his etched and leathery face. I could see his mistress merely watching and standing at the door, disappointed in her own existence, but not above watching the destruction of others.

I looked at my boyfriend, who had all the while been trying to please me for no other reason then he loved me. My throat closed so fast I struggled to swallow. I looked down in shame and the shouting shadow was gone.

“No,” I said quietly.

“What?” asked my boyfriend politely. The Devil cautiously dropped his smile and knitted his brow.

“No, Chip, I was wrong.”

“What?” repeated my boyfriend, confused.

“I’m sorry I want so much. We have so much already – everything else is superfluous. I see that now. I want simply because I have nothing else to do. I feel stuck and just want things for happiness, but that’s wrong and I see that. I see what’s created from it. The projects we started will get done eventually. We don’t need anything new. I’m – I’m sorry. I’ve been so wrong.”

The Devil was angry now. I watched him move toward the door. I sat down in my chair at the dining table and took a breath. I closed my eyes believing prematurely that it was over, that the Devil would leave me be.

When I opened my eyes there was the Devil inches from my face. Only now my boyfriend could see him as well and was frozen in fear. Moving so quickly it took all of a moment the Devil shaved my head. I stood up, leveling his glare, not angry for the loss of my hair, but angry for knowing that I had done the right thing and the Devil just wanted to have the final move after the game had ended.

“Went for my head? Miss his?” I tilted my head toward my boyfriend’s shoulder length locks, much longer then mine even before the shave.

The Devil picked up on my sarcasm and seemed nervous. I took a quick stomp toward him taking advantage of the upper hand while I had it. Speaking as wholly as I could, I shook as I told the Devil “Stay away from my home and stay away from my family.” I half shouted, half growled.

Angry now the Devil pounded to the door. With one look back he and his mistress were gone.

And that’s how I beat the Devil, though I know that’s the wrong term.

Archangel Michael slays Satan (Raphael)

Photo Credit Logoi

__________

This is a dream I had this past Autumn and my reasoning for it’s clarity, yet bizarre aspect was this:

I blame that funky dream and others I’ve been having (like the cupcake-jello race car from two nights ago) on the heat. My boyfriend and I are from the Northeast, but have lived the last few years in Texas. At halfway through October I am really bitterly against the 90 degree days and I’ve found us both “willing” the season to actually become autumn. I’ve been burning candles called Fallen Leaves, Chip has been drinking Pumpkin beer and we’ve been trying to sleep with the windows cracked instead of using the AC. I hate the AC, but sleeping without it means I wake up at 1am, both Chip and I drenched in sweat, the blankets kicked to the floor and the thermostat reading in the mid 80’s.

So it must be the heat.

Though I could have had this particular dream because it’s true.

Last minute Friday PopExtras!

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The holidays are upon us and, man, Capitalism really wants to drive that home.

* For the 1% geeks in your life, or those rich enough to shop for them, Blastr has released a list of psychotically expensive Holiday gifts. Yes, I am jealous. Thanks for asking.

 

* Target isn’t showing any signs of backing down from their 11pm Thanksgiving Day shift start time for employees. Evil? Yes. But their commercials star one of my favorite comedians: Maria Bamford.

 

* There will be a RIDICULOUS amount of TV marathons on the Boob Tube this coming week. Here’s an entire list!

 

* What the WHAT?! Liam Neeson narrates the War of the World on Broadway in London…and does so as a hologram!

 

* Doctor Who (Matt Smith before I’m bombarded with comments) is gettin’ naked for charity. A nude do-gooder? Sign me up!…to stare. ‘Cause staring is free, right? I have no money.

 

* Finally: someone has caught Leonardo DiCaprio dressed as the Great Gatsby! Classsssssy! And he’s slimmed down. Like a young Alec Baldwin, Leo tends to get a little doughy in his down time.

Are You There, Spock? It’s Me, Katie.

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2010 Editor’s Pick on OpenSalon.

When I was fourteen years old I got my first job at a recycling plant for the town of Danbury. I made ten dollars an hour at that time, which, at twenty eight years old with a BA and an MA, is pretty close to what I make now. After the summer gig at the recycling plant I started work at a coffee shop at the age of fifteen. I was underage, but they hired me anyway, and that job really helped shape my high school life. Well, it shaped my extra-curricular high school life anyway. I also worked at clothing stores, and while looking cute was an integral part of my persona, folding clothes was not.

My mother worked for what we’ll refer to as Cashline.com at the time and got me a job doing receptionist work and IT Help Desk stuff. When I worked the Help Desk I would help the technologically inept (“My computer froze. I hit Ctrl-Alt-what?” and “How do I change my background?”) and I would wait on hold when the Help-Desk itself needed help. When I would work the receptionist desk I would…I won’t say I would do my best because that would be lying. I couldn’t slack off too much because my mother would have my head if I gave her reason to be anything but proud of me. I was, however, adequate and did well for a kid. There was this one regular caller in particular who really made up for any slacking off or fooling around. For legal and mental health issues I’ve forgotten his name.

As these days predated Caller ID (or personal cell phones for that matter) I never knew when this individual would be calling. On the evenings that he did get through I imagined he was calling from somewhere along the Pacific border. I don’t know why, I guess because he called each evening, after 4pm, and I just thought his type of call was better suited as a middle-of-the-day activity. So he would call, and I, a now sixteen year old, ego maniacle punk would answer, “Thank you for calling Cashline Executive Offices. How may I direct your call?” And he would respond “I want to speak with William Shatner.”

Me 'n some friends.

I enjoy the Geico commercials, or at least I did when they first premiered years ago during a Super Bowl. It would never occur to me, however, to call Geico and ask to speak with a caveman or British lizard. Be that as it may, in my few short years so far on this earth I have learned that reason and logic elude many. Many.
“William Shatner does not work here, sir,” I’d respond.
“Yes, he does. I’ve seen him in your commercials.”
“I know he does our commercials, sir, but he doesn’t work here. We don’t even film our commercials here.”
“William Shatner DOES work at Cashline and I demand to speak with him!”

At this point the guys voice would be at the level of making a sixteen year old girl cry. A weak sixteen year old. Being the opposite of weak I was merely an ass and, it should be noted, less articulate then this recreated conversation may imply. This call would happen almost every day and after time I knew what he looked like. Well, my teenage imagination did.

I always imagined this particular gentleman older, but not OLD, maybe in his mid-sixties, sitting in a 1970’s a corduroy Lazy Boy that had seen better days, duct tape on the sides and arms, an over used and beaten seat he referred to as his captain’s chair. I imagined he wore the same outfit every day, stuffing far too much flesh into far too little polyester, black pants with a red top, of course, and an embroidered or even hand drawn communicator just above and to the left of a probable by-pass surgery scar. A pale, hairy and slightly pink gut desperately trying to escape the confines of his get-up would be exploding from between pants waistline and repressive shirt. That’s what I thought, anyway.

On and on he would ramble: Cashline did this, his flight was awful, the Captain rescues people – never works WITH the bad guys! Shatner working for Cashline was like him cohorting with Klingons. I didn’t watch the original Star Trek series at this time and this experience may be some of the cause behind that. My favorite part of his calls always came after he started yelling:
“THE CAPTAIN OF THE ENTERPRISE WOULD NOT ALLOW SUCH SCAMMING TO OCCUR. YOUR COMPANY SCAMS PEOPLE AND I INTEND TO ALERT THE CAPTAIN!”

Well, Sir, why don’t you just hit your communicator and ask to meet him in the Halodeck? There you can reveal the evils of Cashline over a Saurian Brandy or a Romulan Ale.

Did I ever actually say that? Nah, I wasn’t that cool. I, in all honesty, would nod as if he could see me and “Mmhmm” like I had been there. I always got him of the phone calmer, but, then, he did always call back.

So why is this important and why does it matter? Because every day as a teen I learned that people are different and you must have patience. Granted once I know you I have no patience for you and you’re finished in my book, BUT every day I would get a little more evidence that either the world is crazy and I am fine or that there is simply no sanity and we’re all screwed. Either way I learned patience every day, in one way or another, and even get  chances to demonstrate such patience, brief as those moments may be, every once in a while. When you’re young you first learn of differences from sight, you visually see that others are different. But this, this, taught me that people may have skeletons – not in their closets, but in their mind – and they seem all “normal” and you think you’re making ground and then – THEY GET YA! And that’s just the way it is, I guess.

New Post to Pages!

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Posts, posts every where and not a drop to drink!

Fashion has new posts! See me – the living, breathing, fashion faux pas – here.

My personal favorite, the Pop Bytes page, has been updated with all the lastest Hobbit, Doctor Who, Pop Culture, and weird news!

Good Eats is slowly filling with Recipes and Food stories…some of which are not so savory.

Find the Bad Kitty has been updated! Use your hawk eyes to find my jerk cats hanging out where they’re not allowed.

And, finally, stories I wrote prior to having a WordPress account are being uploaded to Story Time. Please check back regularly for the goods, the bad, and the fugly (that’s my term for funnily+ugly. Why? What did you think “fugly” stood for?)