And I was burning,
My blood hot and brow sweaty
But no one was there.
And I was burning,
My blood hot and brow sweaty
But no one was there.
I look at the glass of wine on the kitchen table. Just me and it. The evening light barely illuminates the room as the sun fades out in desolation over the horizon. Darkness is approaching. The liquid is a rich red, and it sits patiently at the bottom of the glass. It smiles, warm and welcoming but I know it is a hoax; far too pristine to be genuine.
We stare at each other for a moment longer, like two lovers’ eyes locked in a gaze of passion. Drink it, the voice inside me says, a distant whisper from someone who knew me long ago. Temptation surpasses my luring caution and the voice beckons me closer. I let the cold glass press between my dry lips. The interlocking of fingers, the comfort of familiarity. The first taste is inviting, and I greet it with open arms.
As I’m still fairly new to WordPress, I’m really excited to have received the Liebster Award. I was nominated by Ronovan, at http://ronovanwrites.wordpress.com. I want to thank him with my whole heart for nominating me! This was extremely kind and generous. Follow his blog and check out his posts, you’ll enjoy reading them each day as much as I do.
Here are my responses to the questions asked by Ronovan:
1-What has surprised you the most about blogging?
I think the thing that surprised me most about blogging is that I didn’t realize how welcoming and nonjudgmental the community at WordPress would be. I’ve always been fairly self-conscious about showing my work, but this is a really comfortable space to do so.
2-What inspires you to create each day?
Inspiration comes in various forms for me. I find most of my inspiration from the view out my window when I wake up in the morning. There’s something about the early morning sun that drives me to create each day.
3-If you were writing or imagining the ideal man what qualities would he have?
Personally, I don’t believe there is an “ideal” man or woman. If I imagined or wrote his qualities I think I’d end up hating him somewhere along the line! I just think genuine kindness is the most important quality for anybody to have.
4-If you were writing or imaging the ideal woman what qualities would she have?
Same response as above.
5-What movie brings your imagination to life?
6-What food or dish would you like to try?
I’d like to try some kind of tongue. I’ve been way too afraid so far, but I’ve heard it’s delicious.
7-What is your most embarrassing talent?
It’s not that embarrassing, but I can open a beer bottle with my teeth.
8-What is your favorite word?
9-What is love?
I don’t think you can really define love. But if I had to, I’d say it’s unconditional, and it’s a deep connection and compassion for one another.
10-What is freedom?
Having choice, and agency of your actions without restriction.
11-What city on another continent would you like to visit?
Dublin! I need to go there before I die.
Here are 11 random facts about myself:
1. I’ve been writing since I learned how to hold a pencil.
2. I suck at multiple choice exams.
3. I love letter writing.
4. I do a really good (embarrassing) James Blunt impression.
5. I was a vegan for 2 months.
6. I have my yellow belt in Karate.
7. I’m in love with the Maritimes.
8. I have a really long second toe.
9. I played piano for 12 years.
10. Pizza is my one weakness (probably why I stopped being a vegan).
11. I went to Harry Potter themed camp one summer. It was epic.
It’s hard to decide who to nominate. These are a few of the blogs who’s posts I regularly enjoy reading, and who have inspired me in one way or another. They are great. Check them out.
Here are my questions:
1. Why did you first start blogging?
2. What did you study in school? Or if you could chose something to study what would it be?
3. What’s your favourite place to write?
4. Who is someone who has greatly inspired you?
5. Where would you want to retire?
6. If you could bring one author back to life, who would it be?
7. What quote best suits your life?
8. Who is your favourite fictional villain?
9. What’s one goal you want to achieve for 2014?
10. Which season is your favourite?
11. In one word, what does blogging mean to you?
If you want to learn more about the Liebster Award visit the following URL.
Aaron holds the pen tightly against the edge of his middle finger, pressing into the hard indent that is now a sign of the hours that he has slaved over his work. His fingers are strong but his body is failing him. The skin droops below his eyes, two lines shoot upward from his brows when he concentrates and he often seems angry because of this, the grumpy old man on the corner of Park who lives alone and speaks to no one. But a gentleness in him says otherwise as he drops the pen and picks up a photograph of Emily, caressing the side of her face with his rough fingers. He can feel her skin against his touch as though he has recreated her, and he is no longer alone. The sun peaks over the line of the buildings, blinding him. The photograph drops from his fingers and he looks out the window to see a haze of silhouettes and vague contours of lives lived by other people. He attempts to recreate their lives through the means of the pen, like Emily and the photograph. His thoughts pour out of him faster than the black ink spurting with each scribble on the page.
The pen and paper sit in front of her, on her immaculate marble countertop. They had built the kitchen together, when they thought they were building a life together, when she should have realized they were only building marble countertops while happening to be together. Lynn stares into the empty house. The morning is just barely alive yet she can feel the vivacity of the early rising sun against her back. She hadn’t noticed the hours of the night slip by. She had stood there, staring at the pen and paper, knowing the decision will be final once she signs that paper. She can feel him standing behind her. He touches her arm, but there is a disconnection between them. Her hands are shaky as she takes the pen between her fingers. His touch against her arm slips away. The pen hovers there at the thin line at the bottom of the page, like the sun in those few moments of the early morning before it blazes into the sky.
She sketches with an inky black pen between her fingers, the lines connecting and intertwining with the gentle motion of her hand. She draws the smooth contours of his body as he lies naked on the couch, avoiding the parts she’s nervous to draw, like she’s a virgin again, not sure exactly where things go or how to begin. She tells herself, Camille be still, be patient – words that should be spoken to the subject. Words she tells herself as she walks to class, as she sits in class, as she cannot focus in class, as she stares at the back of his head in class, and words she says to herself now as he lies naked on her couch. The pen has a mind of its own, guiding her hand across the paper as the sun peaks over the horizon and splashes cool sunlight onto the page and into her eyes, blinding her momentarily. Her hand is touching the contours of his body, feeling the rough hairs along his body, the novelty and the familiarity of his naked body.
Listen to me. Press your ear against my cold shell and I will take you far away. Listen closely, silence all the noise around you. There, hear it? The sounds of the waves, a light whoosh. Take me back there, bring me on your next trip to Mexico, or Costa Rica. I’ll go wherever the ocean lies, wherever the crispness of the ocean can kiss my dry shell wet again. I need to go back to the hot sand beach, the moist air that rises around you and holds you tight until sweat beads down your face. Take me with you, away from the commotion, away from the bleak, grey, icy winter. Remove me from your shelf like a trophy you won at the championship game, a reminder of the life you have away from your home. With your receptionist. While your wife stays at home with the kids. I lie beside you as you caress each other’s bodies under an umbrella on the sand. I am your escape from the fast-paced, rapidly spinning world you live in. An escape from the need to keep going. Where I come from, I lie in utter serenity. I watch the sun beat down and fall against the thin line of the horizon as the rays breathe against the vast ocean. And I wait. I wait until someone finds me and tears me away from my paradise. So listen. Press your ear against my shell. Listen to the waves as a reminder of the raw organic amidst the immaculate, the manmade.
“How is your depression?”
“Yesterday I couldn’t get myself out of bed.”
“What did you do?”
“I kept looking at the clock. Kept telling myself that at every hour I would feel more inclined to get up. I’d say Okay Karl give yourself til 8 then start going. 9, at 9 you must get out of bed. Now it’s 10 and you must get up because you have class soon and haven’t done the readings.”
“And did you finally get up?”
“By 11, yeah. But I didn’t want to.”
“I yelled at Ron the other day.”
“What did you say?”
“Told him he was a ‘fucking low piece of shit’.”
“Olivia. What did he do?”
“Nothing. I was drunk again.”
“I thought you said drinking wasn’t an issue anymore?”
“It wasn’t that week.”
“Nothing. I don’t know. I got a 60% on my paper.”
“The one you spent a month on?”
“Yeah. Went out to blow off some steam. Then blank.”
“Blank. Whole night, gone.”
“That’s when you yelled at Ron?”
“Suppose so. I think he’s freaking out.”
“I think he’s going to sleep with someone else.”
“I really don’t want him to leave me.”
The waitress walks over and asks if they want refills on their coffees. They both smile politely and shake their heads.
“Did you talk to your therapist about the drinking?”
“No. I didn’t think it was necessary.”
“No. Not really. I was ashamed. I didn’t want to say it out loud.”
“You said it to me.”
“Yeah. But you get it. How did the rest of your day go? After you got out of bed?”
“It was bad. I felt heavy. People kept staring at me like – like I was a slug leaving a trail of darkness behind me as I walked.”
“It’s not funny.”
“I’m imagining you as a slug.”
They sip their coffees. Men and women pass by the coffee shop, rabbit-fur hoods over the heads, eyes fixed on the ground. The snow isn’t white like it’s supposed to be. It’s grey, polluted. Feet sink into the slush, footsteps heavy.
“Did you do the readings at least?”
“Most of them. I tried to participate. It felt like everyone was thinking the same thing about me.”
“What do you think they were thinking?”
“That I was stupid. That I didn’t know what I was talking about.”
“Did you know what you were talking about?”
“For the most part. But they didn’t know that. I kept telling myself to just shut up.”
“It gets better.”
“I don’t know. That’s what you’re supposed to say, isn’t it? That there’s a light at the end of the tunnel? That it goes up from here?”
“Yeah, I suppose so.”
There’s a park across the street. The trees are bare, bone-like branches shuddering against the icy air. A small child in an oversized snowsuit runs ahead of her parents, slips and tumbles onto her bottom. Two dogs dance around each other, tongues hanging out, seemingly immune to the cold. One has spotted something under the ice, a leaf, or a piece of grass. It scratches its paws at it, determined to break through.
I like the cold. I sleep with my window open, fan on high, and naked, wrapped under my covers. I like to wake up in the morning, my eyes still sleepy and crusted at the corners and peak my neck out from the blankets and feel the cold against my waking skin. It’s raw. I’m missing rawness in my life. The ability to say, I feel that. I really feel what you’re expressing, by means of speech, art, prose, poetry, sex.
The snow builds up. The difference is inconspicuous at first, but I glance away for a moment and when I return my gaze the white has thickened. It’s almost mesmerizing. I look out to the buildings across from me and I wonder who is sitting behind those foggy windows, looking at the same snow falling from the sky. A few flakes seem to hover for a moment longer than the others, as though they’re unsure of which direction to descend meanwhile the rest plummet confidently to the ground. It’s like a rain storm. Only it’s softer, more delicate and pure.
I remember many winters ago walking down the streets in December, the only light the street lamps illuminating our way through the snow and He was beside me. We were talking casually. I remember it had felt like something small had shifted in our world that day. I remember thinking how grand everything in my life was back then. But snow melts, and that moment feels like decades ago.
Anne sat with her back rigid against the wood chair. Across from her, Dr. Bates vigorously ran his pen over a page, his eyes narrowed behind glasses on the end of his crooked nose. She watched his fingers scribble the date at the top of the page: 7 August 1932. The office was cramped, one window next to the door, and it smelled of old books. There were paintings on the wall that evoked a subtle energy to the otherwise dull atmosphere. Anne noticed a small radio sitting on the corner of the doctor’s desk next to a photograph of his children.
Mrs. Linch sat picking at her long fingernails the way she always did when she was upset. It was her one bad habit. Better to fidget with your nails than to be like Anne. Because there was something wrong with Anne – something that needed fixing. When Anne couldn’t focus on her homework, her mother’s hands buried themselves in her lap. When Anne was younger and the kids at school refused to play with her, her mother’s hands rested in her lap. When Anne couldn’t sleep at night, when Anne’s teachers called home, and even when Anne climbed out her window that one December night and sat in her elementary school playground until the sun rose — a thin line jutting over the horizon — Mrs. Linch’s hands were in her lap.
The chair dug into Anne’s back. The stiffness held her body poised and upright. Dr. Bates fixed his glasses with his right index finger and looked up first at Anne, then at Mrs. Linch.
“Dr. Bates, I was saying how Anne is having a lot of difficulties these days. Anne, dear, isn’t that right? Trouble in school, they say she can’t focus on anything. At home she paces around the house all day. Mr. Linch and I just don’t know what to do with her anymore. Her brother, Jeffrey, says no one at school spends time with her – off in her own world, he says. You see, Dr. Bates, Anne is ill. Terribly ill. That’s why she’s here. We need you to cure her.”
Dr. Bates put down his pen. There was a gentle hum from the ventilation system, rattling in the background as Mrs. Linch continued to speak. The girl looked not much older than fifteen. Her blouse was buttoned up to the neck with a flannel vest painted on top, and her dark blue skirt was neatly ironed. Resting in her lap, her hands folded over themselves almost imperceptibly too rigid. Her stallion-black shoes were shiny and pristine. The girl was still. Her eyes wide, absorbing her mother’s words, though her expression had remained unmoving for the duration of the visit. She seemed almost porcelain-like, a collector’s item that must be preserved. Dr. Bates was watching the girl, watching the way her right foot ever so slightly tapped lightly on the floor in rhythm with the faint churning of the vents.
“Mrs. Linch, if you would join me outside for a moment, I would like to speak with you in private.”
“Of course, Dr. Bates.”
Mrs. Linch followed Dr. Bates toward the door. On his way out, he turned on the radio, smiled at Anne and left her alone. She glanced around the room again, from the grinning children in the photograph to the paintings on the wall. One was of a rural landscape with a beaming sunrise. But the painting was not right. There was a mother and daughter ploughing the field, wearing overalls, straw hats. The men, a father and son, sat on a bench in the foreground, under a parasol. The brush strokes were slapped across the canvas, thick and seemingly disorganized as though the artist had quite intentionally defied convention. Despite its disorder, something about the painting seemed resolute. The song on the radio suddenly made Anne flinch. She recognized it almost immediately as Aaron Copland’s Andante Moderato: ‘Dance of the Girl who Moves as if in a Dream’. She had listened to the piece shut away in her room, under her covers so her mother couldn’t hear. She would come home from school, unbutton her tightly fitted blouse, toss her shoes onto the floor, slip out of her stiff skirt, close her eyes and feel the music breathe life into her.
Anne shifted slightly in the chair. Her head floated from side to side with the hypnotic tune, her eyes closed. She was no longer in the doctor’s office. The rhythm increased, the instruments playing in forte now and the sounds stretching to the corners of the room, resounding off the dusty bookshelves, the old theories. The room filled with the sharp strings of the violins, the delicate, contrasting hum of the flutes, and the rise of the ensemble in a heavy, increasing rhythm. Anne was lifted out of the wooden chair, her arms spread wide. The fluidity of her limbs became the physical counterpart to the music, her feet darting lightly across the room. She forgot about her mother picking at her fingernails, hands in her lap. She forgot about Dr. Bates scribbling on his page. She forgot about Jeffrey, her father, and the school teachers. She submitted to the deep, rawness of the instruments billowing through the piece. It was the day in the park, when the sun arose from the gravity of the night.
“I don’t understand, Dr. Bates,” Mrs. Linch said, as she and the doctor watched from the window outside the room.
Dr. Bates smiled and pushed his glasses into place with his finger. “Mrs. Linch, your daughter isn’t ill. She’s a dancer.”
Her skin felt like rubber. Elisa wondered how something so foreign could contain the beginnings of human life. She traced her fingers along her stomach and felt a momentary kick from inside her. She flinched, and moved her hand away. A sudden wave of nausea overcame her and she rushed to the sink. Her hands rested on the countertop and she wished Abilio was there. But Abilio was never there.
The evening light had long vanished, and the room swelled with darkness. Outside, the chimes sang to the gentle rattling of the wind, the tree crackling in uncanny dissonance. Elisa wiped her mouth and flushed it clean with a glass of stale water. She hobbled toward the front door, hand on her stomach, and as she walked the old, wood floors creaked beneath her feet. The air was bitter cold, but Elisa didn’t seem to notice. She walked down the rows of houses, all alike, lights off. She walked past the post office, the general store, and finally the Church situated at the outskirts of town. It was late into the night, the dirt streets bare, and Elisa kept walking.
Not far off, she came to the cliff. The people of her village called it Los Malditos, the cursed. As a girl, Elisa grew up listening to the old women of the village telling stories about Los Malditos. The legends were always the same, of people going to the cliff and never returning, of search parties exploring the surrounding area and one by one, they too were never seen again. Even Abilio was afraid of the cliff. Not even Abilio would come looking for her here.
She followed the unkept trail up to the cliff’s peak. The wind whipped at her skin, tugging at her hair, piercing at her eyes. Elisa looked down the cliff. Los Malditos, she thought to herself and she embraced it. She embraced her desire to plunge, to let the cliff devour her like it had so many before and she embraced her hatred for the thing growing inside her. She was prepared to give in when out from the darkness, crawling up the edges of the cliff she noticed a strange, formless figure, slithering its way toward her. Elisa stepped back. The creature was darkness, almost inconspicuous against the night but Elisa saw it. It had no eyes, no mouth, no nose, it was inhuman, and what it was, Elisa would never know.
She fled back to the village, back through the empty streets, past the Church, the rows of houses, and safe within her own home.
Elisa awoke the next day, still feeling uneasy from the night before. She decided to believe that her eyes had simply misled her, and that the legends of her village had corrupted her mind. Winter was now approaching, the chilliness filling the house from the outside in. Elisa was alone again, Abilio at work early and the bars late. She sat up against the headboard of her bed and felt something strange beneath her. Panicked, she threw back her blankets and saw that they were stained red. Her hands mechanically touched her stomach, but this time, there was no movement.
One of the principles of Buddhism instructs you to inhabit the way of the Tiger. The Tiger embodies discernment, gentleness, and precision.
I try to remind myself of this as I stand in line at the cash of Bulk Barn with my seven plastic sacks, stuffed to the rim, the weight dragging my arm down. The woman in front of me argues aggressively over her receipt, shoving it in the woman at the register’s face.
“You charged me twice”. “No ma’am I-”, “Look here I am positive -”. Discernment, gentleness, and precision, I think. My arm acts out mechanically, the bags deadly weapons and I’m a hunter who’s spied its prey. In a burst of unsuspected rage I swing at the woman’s head and hear a satisfying thud as bulk meets flesh. I drop my bags on the ground and leave the shop, hands empty yet inexplicably hungry for more.