Tag Archives: hope

My Privilege

A friend of mine recently accused me of being privileged for my being white. Here is a list of things I am privileged for:

  • I am privileged for being forgiven in the eyes of Christ, because I do not deserve to be.
  • I am privileged for being born in the greatest country in history, because some are not.
  • I am privileged for being able to look beyond the color of skin, because some cannot.
  • I am privileged to have been raised in a family that loves, because some are raised hating.
  • I am privileged to have been an alcoholic, so I may appreciate sobriety.
  • I am privileged to have been homeless, so I may appreciate shelter.
  • I am privileged to have gone bankrupt, so I may appreciate money.
  • I am privileged to have known loneliness, so I may appreciate friendship.
  • I am privileged to have known heartache, so I may appreciate healing.
  • I am privileged to have been incarcerated, so I may appreciate freedom.
  • I am privileged to be single, so I may appreciate relationships.
  • I am privileged to know failure, so I may appreciate success.
  • I am privileged to have traveled the country, so I may appreciate liberty.
  • I am privileged to have been a dishwasher, so I may appreciate good jobs.
  • I am privileged to have been kicked out of school, so I may appreciate learning.
  • I am privileged to know how to read, so I may appreciate history.
  • I am privileged to know how to write, so I may appreciate the written word.
  • I am privileged to have health, so I may appreciate my body.
  • I am privileged to ride my bicycle, so I may appreciate my driver’s license.
  • I am privileged to know hard work, so I may appreciate a paycheck.
  • I am privileged to have gone hungry, so I may appreciate food.
  • I am privileged to have gone thirsty, so I may appreciate cold water.
  • I am privileged to have slept in subways, so I may appreciate warm beds.
  • I am privileged to have known mercy, so I may appreciate compassion.
  • I am privileged to have prayed with the hurting, so I may appreciate peace.
  • I am privileged to have known destitution, so I may appreciate my blessings.
  • I am privileged to have understood death, so I may appreciate life.
  • I am privileged to ride the public bus, so I may appreciate cars.
  • I am privileged for my meager possessions, so I may appreciate the less fortunate.
  • I am privileged for my talents, so I may appreciate my weaknesses.
  • I am privileged for being born, so I may appreciate the world around me.
  • I am privileged for understanding hard times, so I may appreciate victory.
  • I am privileged to have known brokenness, so I may appreciate wholeness.
  • I am privileged to be able to read my bible, so I may appreciate religious freedom.
  • I am privileged to be able to speak my mind, so I may appreciate free speech.
  • I am privileged to be mental, so I may appreciate sanity.
  • I am privileged to stop writing this post, so I may appreciate free will.
  • I am privileged after all.

Does the fork in your road have seven lanes or is it just me?

Photography by Gabriel circa 2012.

Photography by Gabriel circa 2012.

It’s been a long time since I’ve posted anything on my blog. Five months to be exact. I know it’s been too long because the creative blood in my veins have begun to clot along the interior walls of my heart. I wish I could give you semi-decent excuses for my absence. You know the usual balderdash. This happened, that occurred, I was too busy with work, I got married and the wife popped out a litter of pups, went on a walk-about in Australia so I could seize manhood by growing a scraggly beard and skinning rattlesnakes, or that I was building a sailboat in order to ride the high seas like some rich kid who has nothing better to do with their time. (Just for the record I don’t know how long it would take to build a boat, considering I have no idea how to use tools or even the basic concept of woodworking. I would have to interrogate my friend Jacob on that one.)

Excuses like that seem legit and some would even consider them noble undertakings. But alas, I don’t have any room for them in my excuse folder. Although I did manage to grow a beard towards the end of 2013. I was very proud of my beard. But it’s too hot in Florida, even in the dead of winter so I shaved it off.

In a one of my previous posts I had mentioned that I moved down south to get away from life up north. That kept me busy for a while. You know, settling in, finding employment, etc. But then (unfortunately) I was called back to New York for several weeks in order to take care of some personal business. After those shenanigans were dealt with and after it was apparent (yet again might I add) that my New York Jets would not make the playoffs, I flew back down mid-December in order to find work and wait out the rest of the horror that was last year. I am not complaining, unloading, or even giving you a list of things that in all probability you don’t really care about (wait, that last one might be true), I am simply trying to explain where I’ve been.

I think mindsets have a huge say in when a self-entitled writer decides to pick up their pencils (or laptops) and squeeze out a few coherent sentences. For instance, I take Instagram photos and write silly little fiction tales to go along with them just to keep sharp. But I don’t think many people appreciate my doing so (with a few exceptions of course). I mean come on, who has time to read fifteen sentences these days (he says with the roll of his eyes)? People probably think I am being snooty, or showing off, or just plain bats. I don’t care. Like I said, it keeps me sharp and it’s nice to think it could invoke emotions out of the crowd. Who doesn’t like a little commentary to go along with a pretty picture?

But it’s that whole mindset problem . I’ll tell you a secret, the wires in my brain have managed to get tangled up over the past few years. So much so, that if you took an x-ray of my noggin I bet it would look like a ball of yarn someone left under their recliner. If your mindset is dragging you down and you find yourself trapped in the dreaded doldrums, fear not. It makes great fodder for the weary writer looking to muse something poetic and original. I know this to be true in my own journey through life, especially the past six months. I think one of our problems (the unpublished) is seeded in the fact that we are hopelessly emotional and we sometimes forget how to channel the positive/negative energy emanating from our own deceitful nature. Now I know I run the risk of being mocked, condemned and even tarred and feathered for such a blatant statement, but it’s true. I think of it like this: painters paint by what they wish to see, musicians create music by what their ears want to hear, and writers scribe from what they feel deep inside their bellies, where things churn and swell and eventually come out in a flurry of ingenuity, hoping someone will take notice. Don’t get me wrong, every facet of artistic ability stems from the deep longing in our souls to make beauty out of nothing, to inspire someone, to change the world from their own perspectives, and since I can’t paint nor play an instrument, I have to rely on words and sentences to convey what is going on inside the ball of yarn I call a brain.

What do you like to read when things go sour? What section of Barnes and Noble do you peruse when all is well and the world is your oyster? What corner of the library do you find yourself in when things aren’t going right and when every door slams shut on your face? What’s your favorite Starbucks to visit when you are in love and you want to journal some sappy nonsense about your better half?

Maybe you’re like me. Straddling the fence between every place and no place, reading everything or reading nothing, loving all or feeling nothing but that silent emptiness of loneliness. I’ve been trying to pray more these days. I took a long hiatus from the practice because I felt the Lord wasn’t hearing me, or that I wasn’t asking hard enough. I think King David must have been feeling the same type of emotions when he wrote the Psalms. It’s a wonderful biography of a person that God called “a man after His own heart”.  Meanwhile he was one of the biggest basket-cases in the Old Testament.

But the Psalms are different. David takes the reader on a journey to the top of the mountain with songs of love, faithfulness, joy and peace with his maker. On the other side of the token, the not-so-bright side, he brings us into the valley of his lamenting. He is scared and lonely and doesn’t know where to run and hide. He begs for help and sheds tears because there’s no one to comfort him. If I close my eyes I can see him sitting on a hill, faithfully tending his flock while all of these emotions are running through his spirit. This was the man who slew a giant with a stone! A shepherd boy who was to be king of Israel. When he wasn’t writing, he was running from Saul, when he wasn’t running from Saul, he was trying to figure out which road God wanted him to take.

Doesn’t this sound like us at times?

So, my fellow unpublished friends, cheer up. Use your emotions as a tool to write wonderful things. Use it as a compass to change the world because people need directions. There’s too many forks in the road.


Trifecta Challenge: Haiku for Water

Trifecta week eighty-three: Write a Haiku.

Ocean waves thrust lazily onward

Among sandy shores water recedes without grace

Palms sway against time eternal


The Madness of Being Melancholy

Authors note: Sometimes fairy tales don’t have happy endings, the hero dies, the villain wins, the Princess stays in her casket. I think as adults living in the real world, we are used to reality. I wrote this fiction piece about a hopeless romantic suffering from a deep depression. It contains suggestive language and strong adult themes. If this bothers you, too bad. It’s my blog and my imagination. I believe there are people in the world who really suffer behind closed doors. They’re strength is pushing forward and yet sometimes it gets to be too much. 

My apartment is rather small compared to today’s standards. It’s a one bedroom with a kitchen decorated in seventies garb. The previous owner had a fetish for yellow and green wallpaper and had plastered it everywhere. I attempted to cover it up with cheap paint because I was too lazy to rip it down, but I failed miserably and now the retro colors are bleeding through, giving my kitchen a terrible Fun House aura. I hung up some of those tacky Italian pictures portraying fat little chefs with unnaturally long mustaches and tiny hands to deter people from noticing my lousy paint job. But it’s not really a big deal. I don’t have many visitors and even if I did, they would be preoccupied with the sixty inch flat screen sitting in my living room. It’s one of the cooler toys I possess. Yet television is nothing more than an annoyance to me. I’ve lost interest in a lot of things in the past few years.

There’s nothing in my refrigerator but leftover meatloaf and several jars of assorted jellies. Six eggs nest comfortably on the door and I believe there’s a science project wrapped up in tinfoil on the bottom shelf. I am a clean person by nature. I vacuum, take out the trash and even scrub my bathroom twice a week. Not bad for a bachelor. I rarely food shop because all I eat lately are tacos, pizza and dollar cheeseburgers from Wendy’s. Despite my diet, I am in good health, and although I wouldn’t fit in well with the bodybuilding steroid users, I could hold my own on a treadmill. I continue to scan the shelves for something edible and open up the butter compartment. The 9 mm I picked up from a gun show last year remains cold and unused and its steel barrel has a thin layer of frost on top of it. I take it out when I drink too much and hold it close to my skull. It’s an odd feeling knowing the small hollow point bullet nestled inside could end the madness of being melancholy.

I am not suicidal I can assure you. My therapist calls it depression. He believes it stems from a lack of accomplishments, or drinking too much. Either way he thinks I am mental. In my defense, who isn’t a tad wacko these days? Like many people in America my misery stems from poverty. I never managed to grasp the concept of saving money. At the age of thirty this is a bad trait. Especially when trying to find a woman to spend your life with, they prefer stable men to latch onto and who could blame them?

I am a good man, a kind and compassionate man. I believe in forgiveness because I know I need to be forgiven. I fancy myself a talented young man with a knack for words and a fine grasp of the English language. I even went to college for a year but dropped out because I am a perpetual quitter. Another horrible trait to possess and not a good conversation starter while sitting across from your date in a fancy restaurant.

I worked for my town for several years pushing papers and pouring coffee to the higher-ups in order to move up the ladder and was laid off for my efforts. I received my pink slip over the Christmas holiday and have been on unemployment for the past six months. I actually loved my job and made several wonderful friendships. I met Lucille there for the first time over coffee and rice crispy treats in the break room. She was storybook beautiful with lovely green eyes and curly brown hair. But she had sad, tired eyes that told of a hard past. She was strong and witty and never took shit from anyone. A tough cookie was Lucille, but with a heart of gold, she drew me in immediately and although it’s been months since I’ve made love to her, I miss her dearly.

I am sorry. I tend to get ahead of myself and it’s not fair to you, my audience. Hello, my name is Jimmy, and I’ve been lonely for a long time. I come from a rather large family with six other siblings who are currently roaming around the country. I was number four on the birthing list and caused hell for my mother. She raised us solely on a wing and prayer because my father spent most of his years working as a  steam fitter and sitting on bar stools at night. As I grew up I fell through the cracks, most of my achievements went unnoticed and I understood this because there was so much going on with everyone else that it was hard for my mother to keep up with everything. I don’t blame her for dying. She was overwhelmed and under a lot of stress when the vein in her head exploded. She was young. Fifty-four to be exact and a real Godsend. We buried her on top of a hill overlooking a lake she used to take us to when we were children. I would be lying if I said I didn’t miss her and her jovial laugh. She had been a good mother cursed with a tough life, but sometimes these things are hard to avoid.

I have a cheap CD player that I keep on top of my empty fridge. I picked it up at Wal-mart for ten dollars and usually keep a steady flow of soft music playing in the background. I am the type of person who feels things very deeply. I guess you could say I am emotional. I don’t really mind because there’s a lack of emotion pervading the world today. Everybody is supposed to be hard and tough as nails. I am tough when I have to be. I spent a year in a juvenile detention center for starting a fire in a warehouse when I was fifteen, when I was eighteen, I was placed in a rehab clinic because I was addicted to cocaine, I’ve even been homeless and hungry. Suffice to say I understand hardship. When a person has a hard life they can either become bitter and enraged or they can absorb it all and choose to be understanding and compassionate. I chose the latter. People have a tendency to misconstrue kindness for a childlike weakness. But I never believed that to be true, like I said, life can make you hard or it can make you see deeper into a persons suffering. Plus I am a wannabe writer slash artist so I see the world differently. Like when you look into a kaleidoscope and watch all the pretty patterns ebb and flow and colors change and morph and mingle until it seems an orgasm has taken place. I see things in a way most people don’t.

It’s quiet in my little apartment. I had a small parakeet, but he died not too long ago. I only had him for two or three months. I don’t how he died and I didn’t have the money to get an autopsy done, so I chalked it up to life and buried him in the backyard. He was a good pet and a gentle friend that kept me company when the blues ran roughshod over my soul. I took his death hard because I don’t have many friends and I am not sure why. I treat everyone with a certain amount of kindness and dignity. When you’re poor, I think most people look at you as a liability, extra baggage. Growing up my siblings and I hung out often, but had grown apart over the years and after my mother died, we went our separate ways. This is normal I think. I have extended family, but they never really attempted to get to know me. When I was a young boy I attempted suicide twice. They think I am weak, but I am not. Many people think I am weird or strange or a loner. That part is true. I usually keep to myself and let thoughts roll around my brain until I get tired of them and force myself to fall asleep. A scatter brained mind is a cursed mind and I’ve been dubbed by some as an over analyzer.

I had my share of girlfriends and one night stands. Yet I remained unfulfilled and was left wanting. I found Jesus for a time, but after years of backsliding, I became dishearted and left the church. I still talk to the Lord on occasion because I know He’s up there looking down on humanity like a child gazing over a community of ants. For a time, Lucille was my best friend. We shared laughter and coffee and dinner a few times. We spent years together sorting paperwork and getting to know one another. She was unavailable for the first few years. From what I gathered, her boyfriend was a decent sort. Strong, college grad, on the fast track to a good life with the most precious woman I had ever known on his shoulder. They dated for a while but eventually broke it off. She had confided in me and said it was because she wanted babies and he did not. If that was the truth I took it at face value.

It’s funny how the seed of love is planted. It wasn’t until the third year of our friendship that I began to see her in a different light. We would talk and I would listen attentively, she would give me some insight into her life and I would try to lend an ear and a word of advice. I am not great at giving advice mind you. I made a lot of stupid, life altering decisions as a young man. Most of the time I was soaked with booze and high on pills just to make it through each day. She had similar issues, but she was more responsible with her life than I had been. In my delusional mind I believed we would be perfect for each other.  I kissed her for the first time at a baseball game one night. I don’t think she saw it coming but I did, I had dreamed of the day when I could put my lips against hers and taste her skin and feel her tongue. Since she was single I thought I would make my move. A group of people from our job had purchased tickets to see the Mets play the Yankees. It was the bottom of the ninth and the Mets had last licks. Someone smacked it into left field and won the ball game with a walk-off home run.  I took her delicate fingers in mine and kissed her deeply. Her eyes lit up and when I backed away, she mentioned that her lips were dry. We made love soon after.

She’s wonderful, that Lucy of mine. But things had gone south a few months later when I caught her kissing my friend Andrew at a party. She apologized profusely and blamed it on drinking too much. After a time I was able to forgive her, but the damage had been done to my already dysfunctional and fragile mind. My life seemed to implode on itself and I went into a severe depression. I was drinking heavily to ease the sorrow of betrayal. We continued to speak and I ended up calling her several times in the weeks that followed and made an ass out of myself while trying to mask the pain of what had transpired. Now she doesn’t see me the way she used to and I am heartbroken because of it. She’s pulled away and the connection we once shared has been slowly dying.

The CD stopped playing so I popped in another. Yiruma is one of my favorite pianists and “Autumn Scene” piped out of the speakers gently. It’s a sad melody, but I am in a lowly state of mind so I don’t care. When I look out the window there’s not much to see except an aging maple tree standing proudly in the Springtime atmosphere. The dead-end I live on is seldom used so the street remains as quiet as a cemetery and that’s OK too, like I said earlier, I enjoy the company of stillness. At least I used to. When you reach a certain age, there comes a horrible realization that you may end up alone forever and that peaceful quiet you once enjoyed may torment you into old age. It’s a scary feeling, a depressing feeling.

I hate admitting that I am losing interest in things I used to enjoy. Sports, for example. Movies, jokes, even food tastes different. I love to read and my collection of books are most dear to my heart. When I packed up and moved to Tennessee after being laid off, most of my luggage consisted of boxes full of hard and soft covered literary masterpieces. I moved down south for work, I had a connection in Knoxville and was lined up to work for an electrical company. I was there four weeks before I realized I missed Lucille so much at times it was hard to breath. I allowed her to become my life, she had filled the void in my heart with gladness, put a new song on my tongue, and when we made love I would put my mouth on her pussy as she came and I would swallow her sweet nectar. Our sex was passionate, full of life and multiple orgasms. When I held her naked against my chest our lives became one, I felt her tender heart beat rapidly against mine and I would listen to  her coo and moan as I stroked her chestnut hair as our sweat fell in large droplets.

Well, I don’t want to get too descriptive. But I never felt so whole in my life. When I slept with her every trouble, every fear and every doubt was washed away. Unfortunately, nothing had transpired between us in a relationship sense. She was on a positive path in life, I on the other hand, was not. Last I heard she had gotten back together with her old boyfriend and was getting married come October. I am happy for her, truly.

When you spend most of your time alone your mind can play tricks on you. Horrible jokes and wicked riddles bombard the inside of your spirit, wreaking havoc on every fiber of your genetic makeup. Causing you to believe in things that, in all likelihood, are not real. John Steinbeck once wrote that a man can become sick if he has no one. I think it’s sad that all we have are our shadows to keep us company when the darkness of midnight creeps into the sky.

I no longer speak to Andrew. I will always be his friend, but the friendship has gone sour. I believe Lucille still sees him behind my back and although I have confronted her on numerous occasions about the subject, she denies it. I wish so much to believe her. I want to trust her again. I’ve been stepped on my entire life and grown to trust only myself and that my friends, is a hard thing to do. Yet I trusted her entirely. I opened up and at times bared everything to her. I don’t think she realized the faith I put into our friendship. But my inner gut twists when I think about it. I’ve never bothered to broach the subject with him because I know the type of person he is. Besides, it wasn’t his fault. She had made the first move.

My kitchen table is one of those flimsy, plastic jobs you see advertised for sale in every circular during the warm weather. I went to a garage sale to buy matching chairs and paid seven dollars for two well used aluminum seats with red fabric stapled haphazardly to their bottoms. I take a seat in one of them and watch small raindrops smack against the window.

My life is too quiet. Full of mind numbing monotony that I can’t seem to break. I take one step forward and get shoved back three. Years ago I knew a crazy old Indian and he used to tell me some people were born under bad astrological signs, cursed from the day they came forth from their mothers wombs. He looked at me once and chanted in his native tongue. When I asked him what it meant, he said it was a blessing because I had been born under a bad cloud. I believe he’s a crazy old fool and I told him his superstition meant nothing.

And yet years later here I sit, all alone on a crappy table with horribly painted walls and a pistol to keep me company. Beer bottles sit empty on the counter top and at some point, I must have put on the radio because oldies are now playing loudly. I don’t remember changing the CD to radio, but I must have. Lightning flashes into my home and thunder rolls after it. All I want is for her to be next to me, to talk to me like she used to, I want to make her laugh again, I want her to believe I am still charismatic and beautiful. I wish to have her here now, with those sexy legs in the air as I penetrate deep and call her pussy home. I want to get lost in her ecstasy as she wraps her body around mine. Then I wish to lay still with her as she strokes my cock and kisses my cheeks with hers…I want to cuddle close to a fireplace underneath a blanket and tell each other stories and giggle like newlyweds.

But those days are gone forever and I am very sad about that. All I have left is fading memories of a woman who changed my life, a woman who took the dark cavity in my chest and breathed life into it for the first time. A precious creature, who for a moment in eternity, reciprocated the love I had for her. All I am left with is the knowing she has slipped away. All that remains is paranoia, and doubt and the terrible knowledge that she was never mine to begin with, that I was just a way for her to cope with her own grief until she reunited with her soon-to-be husband.

I am left here. Some days are OK, some are appointed by the devil himself and he makes it a point to torment me with memories. I can no longer live my life stuck in the past. I wasn’t always this way. I like to think a happier time existed in my life. The funny thing about falling in love with a woman is this: you spend years or even decades living as a bachelor, you go on a date here, get laid there, and then there’s one woman who comes along and makes you whole, makes you feel alive, you become reluctant to release her. When the winds of life take her away from you, it all becomes a memory and it’s as if it never happened. It is a horrible feeling knowing you are going back to emptiness and returning to the silent dungeon of your mind.

Some would remind you there are other fish in the sea, more sand on the beach, more stars in the sky. It’s not that easy, especially when you loved someone long before they knew your true feelings, managed to get them to love you back, and then lose them to  fate. She will have a good life, filled with sweet things, and this makes me happy in that old-fashioned melancholy way. I feel tears drip down my cheek bones

My room is getting darker and I don’t believe it has anything to do with sunlight. The rain is steady and thumps loudly on the roof. More lightning. Thunder splits heaven in half. The last memory to cross the threshold in my mind is of her. We had taken a trip to the beach once and had walked barefoot along the shoreline, it began to drizzle and she ran for shelter underneath some trees. I remember her standing there, arms crossed, hair wet and slick from ocean water. She looked at me with a smile as the sun set into her emerald eyes, I went to her and put my arms around her shoulders and kissed her nose gently…that was my best day.

I whispered her name one last time, put the gun in my mouth and pulled the trigger.

 


Trifecta Challenge: Beautiful disaster

Trifecta: Week sixty-three: Write a 33-333 word response using the word path as your prompt word. Music to read by: “Below my feet” performed by Mumford and Sons. This story is 333 words. 

The man with something to prove cursed under his breath as the six o’clock train pulled away from Grand Central without him.  A boy with bright red hair watched with impartiality from inside one of the cars and gave the unlucky ticket holder a sarcastic wave goodbye. With a weary smile, he returned the wave and flipped the goofy looking teenager the dirty bird. Upon seeing this treacherous act of war the child turned to the person sitting next to him and began to tattle, but the mechanical beast made of metal and all things nightmarish, roared down the track and the tiny spat between the two strangers ended forever.

The next train heading south into Savannah wasn’t scheduled to leave for another eight hours. Mickey closed his eyes and rubbed the bridge of his nose and waited for the small, yet debilitating pain, to form in the back of his skull. He took a seat near a family of pay phones and wished he had chosen another path. His way of life, conduct and thought process were affected by whatever drink was placed before him.

“Breathe buddy. Just breathe. You’re going to be OK. ” He chanted to himself in a sing-song way. Jenna had taught him mantras and breathing exercises to help relieve some of his tension. On instinct, he reached into his breast pocket for the flask of vodka. It was not there.

“You’re a beautiful disaster Mickey. I love you, but I can’t tolerate this behavior anymore. The children are growing up without their father, you need to get help.”

Tears formed around the corners of his swollen eyes as he remembered the way she looked when she told him to leave. Dark hair covered her soft cheeks, eyes full of empathy, her heart full of undying love.

The world knew him as a successful author, his children knew him as a successful drunk, and his wife knew him as a beautiful disaster. A spark ignited his desperate heart.

                 


Trifecta Challenge: On a quiet farm in Paraguay

The Village Boy.

Trifecta Week: Fifty-one: Write a 33 word response to one of the three pictures provided. If you click on the linked picture, it will bring you to the Trifecta Writing Challenge homepage so you can see the other two!  I chose this one.

Pablo watched his father argue with the stranger from his position on the dilapidated tractor. He pretended to drive the mammoth entity with childlike amazement, despite the obvious bad news his family received.


Rose of Sharon

Authors note: Music to read by “There’s no place like home” Michael Giacchino

Wicked dreams invaded her sleep. The nightmares had been going on for some time, and there was nothing she could do to stop them.  Every night, when the moon would creep over the horizon and extinguish the comfort of the sun, great waves of fear would wash over her soul. Sweat would soak the nape of her beautiful neck as she ascended the staircase one step at a time. Shadows would play tricks on her mind, causing her to see things that weren’t there, hear things that could never exist. Her house was very quiet after dusk and making noise would only summon ghosts, she tread lightly in pink, cotton slippers.

Rose of Sharon was an exceptionally gorgeous young woman filled with brains, courage and up until recently, a sound mind. When the clocks in her home struck the coming of bedtime, she prayed silently for one night’s sleep without waking up screaming. The vodka had helped but was wreaking havoc on her body, the hypnotist was a waste of money and the dream catchers she had purchased from the Indian reservation were malfunctioning.

Her mother had loved John Steinbeck’s novel Grapes of Wrath, so she named her daughter Rosasharn and spelled it exactly the way he had. She figured a child with three first names was more likely to be bullied than anything else.

The troubled girl put a kettle of hot water on the stove and waited for it to boil. She was drinking herbal teas to help relax her body before attempting to fall sleep. She took a seat at the kitchen table and looked at the black and white photo of her mother sitting on the counter. She loved her mom desperately, and could almost hear her whispering quietly in her ear like she had when she was a child. “Rosasharn, my sweet Rosasharn, sleep well precious one…you are special don’t ever forget that.”  

She slipped her cheek into her hand and tried not to cry as memories of her mother flooded her vision. Her dark hair was hanging loosely so she took a strand and twirled it in her fingers. When steam erupted from the teapot, she poured herself a cup and dipped and dangled the small teabag until brown liquid floated around in delicate circles. The hour was approaching and a tiny knot began to form in her rock solid stomach. If her mother had been alive, she would have asked her to sleep beside her to stay away the demons. She wasn’t embarrassed by this terrible fear of hers. She had confided in her boyfriend once, but he had laughed and told her to take some sleeping pills. She never broached the subject again. She was alone in this battle for sanity and dread overtook Rose of Sharon’s heart.

After finishing her tea and making it safely to her bedroom, she flipped off the light and climbed underneath the Egyptian cotton sheets. Once her eyes adjusted to the hellish darkness, she gazed around to make sure the boogeyman was not lurking in a corner, or worse, underneath her bed. She checked her cell phone to see if he had wished her goodnight. He had not.

Pulling the blankets up to her chin for warmth, she looked out into the night’s sky and noticed the full moon staring down at her, burning into her retinas. Her mother used to tell her that the moon was Gods bellybutton. She giggled at the stupid, but sweet memory. She felt good tonight and maybe sleep would come without any repercussions. The tea was working its’ magic and numbness spread up her toes and towards her neckline. It was only an hour before she began to dream.

Lightning bolted across the clear desert sky and was not followed by thunder. There were no clouds, no rain, all was still. Streams of electricity dominated the atmosphere, not even a god could survive the onslaught of sheer power. Beethoven’s Moonlight Sonata was being played on a piano somewhere and the music reverberated into the thunder-less world.

 Rose of Sharon walked down the valley of death in a white dress and matching white sneakers, oblivious to the raging war above her head, she hummed along to the depressing music. The trail she followed was endless in length, but she marched on in order to find the pianist and demand to know the reason for playing such a sad song, a terribly haunting song. One she had heard in all of her dreams.

 Rattle snakes watched her carefully from coiled positions along the side of the path. Their tongues never left their deceitful little mouths, and their eyes were fiery red with hatred. Hundreds of them sat frozen as the woman in white trudged onward. Their eyes never left her. She was terrified of snakes and took note on how they remained human like.

 As she progressed up the dusty trail, she encountered a house that reminded her of her own home back on planet earth. There was a small lawn, white picket fence, and the ominous piano sat on the front yard. Only it was not her home, it was his home. He was sitting with his back towards her playing the song over and over again on his Baby Grand. She had walked hundreds of miles in mere seconds and hadn’t seen any buildings or people. But now she had found him.

As she drew closer to the compound, the man stopped for a moment and straightened his back. This caused her to halt for a moment.

“So young lady, you’ve managed to find me. You have been searching for a long time, haven’t you Rosasharn?” He said in a very deep voice.

“How do you know my name?” She said while walking slowly towards him.

“Oh, you’ll find that I know a lot of things. I know where you were born, where you went to school, how your mother died. Little things like that. But don’t worry, I won’t tell anyone her dirty little secret.” The mysterious being told her. He had yet to face her.

“She had no secrets, she was a saint. What are you talking about? Is that why I have so many nightmares?”     

The creature said nothing but went back to his melody. She began cautiously towards the large instrument.

“Go no further. I have been sick and I don’t want to infect you.”

 Noiseless lightning flashed and flickered. The snakes had begun to slither closer.

 “I want you to tell me why I have these dreams, what does this have to do with my mother? And why do you keep playing that song?” She said and was immediately overtaken with unquenchable fear.

 “…Many people think this song was written because he was extremely sad. I think Beethoven experienced some sort of inexplicable joy and this was the masterpiece that was created in his heart. As to your other questions, your mother is the one haunting you. She knows you have a special gift and is trying to deter you from utilizing it.” He said matter-of-factly.

The young woman stood dumbfounded and quite alone. Things began to move and come alive in the distance. She wanted to wake up but could not find the strength.

“Why are you fearful child?”

“Why won’t you face me?” She said to the back of his head. Her voice began to quiver and her right arm began to feel tight as if some unseen force was squeezing it.

 “I’m very sick, dying actually. Won’t you come in for some tea?”

 She looked up at the house and began to back away. Something was not right, her chest heaved and her knees shook. Rattling grew louder and things began to move in the windowsills.

 “No, I want to go home.” She cried. Her arm began to hurt more and more.

  The creature turned around and she screamed.

 “But darling… you are home.”

 

He let himself into her house, she had given him a key for their anniversary. When he opened the door to her bedroom, she was kicking underneath the covers and moaning softly. He tiptoed into the room and sat on the bed and gently touched her arm in order to wake her up. He knew she was having another nightmare. The doctor told him to do it in a non-aggressive way so she wouldn’t react badly. When she told him about the dreams it broke his heart.  All he could do was sit and wait for her to awake from it. He touched her forehead with a cold rag and rubbed her shivering body. He wished he could take them away so she would be at peace.

“Rosasharn, it’s me love. Wake up baby.” The man bowed his head and prayed for her.