Life as an Extreme Sport

Black Crayon Crowd

I’ve decided to ‘compete’ with a friend for the coveted Black Crayon Award, and post some of my poetry/lyrical stuff online. Just the stuff I like, of course. And feedback is always welcome – whether I’ll continue writing new stuff in the coming months is up in the air, but I’m trying to flesh out this website with a more well-rounded version of me. This includes filling in post-history with prior blogs, and adding more original writing.

Anyhow, you should feel free to comment on anything, of course. I reserve all rights to refuse to take your advice, though. Spoiled writers with delusions of grandeur are like that.

wish for what you want, work for what you need

She lay in the shower, warm water lapping around her half-reclined body, engrossed in a book whose characters resonated. The strong silent one who had lost nothing yet was afraid of losing everything, the ones who had lost, and instead of retreating into shells they expanded and lived with a passion and vengence unsurpassed, and the one who had so much anger and hurt bottled up inside, all she could do was throw rocks at windows and run. Lost love, lost innocence, loss of lives – and tears slowly trickle down her face. She finishes the book, and sits up straighter, reaching for the razor blade to sheer the hair off her legs. She laughs at her silliness, laughs at her ability to empathize with and cry for fictional characters.

And the laugh catches in her throat, and as the pulls the razor up her legs it morphs into a loud, wracking sob. Before she realizes it, she’s crying with fury and rage, sliding the razor vigorously up and down her legs, determined to shave away all the layers of hurt, of touch, of pain. She shaves higher and higher, over the sensitive and swollen knees and up the thighs, tears running faster and harder. She shaves over the deep wounds given to her by the cat that was a parting gift, the cat that she’d been allowed to rescue, to adopt, because he knew he was leaving and he simply didn’t care about living with another feline for a few more months, because he had that out, that leaving. She shaves with vigor over the incision that removed a toxic bone growth from her body, that had incapacitated her, to his disgust and frustration. She shaved over the curves he loved, that she always kept so soft for his touch, and prayed the razor would catch and rip and make bloody, but it didn’t. And she cried.

Oh, how she cried. The parting-gift cat came and mewled at her in concern, leaving over the bathtub and sniffing at her lips, licking at her tears. A black shadow of a cat slid into the bathroom, perched on the sink and simply stared while she continued to sob. She touched her forehead to the cat licking her tears and whispered. She whispered about long nights in buses, with conversations that didn’t have the oh-so-stereotypical rah-rah of “you can do it” but instead the inquisitive “why aren’t you doing it?” His simple bafflement at meeting someone who had dreams and was poised to step but hadn’t. No encouragement, but curiousity. And of all the times he never felt encouragement was necessary, because of course she could do it, but that questions were, because questions teased out the details and laid out the path. Of the simple, strong faith, never doubting and always so sure. And how one day it was just yanked away, with no explanation, no questions, nothing. Just gone, as if somehow she was no longer worthy of that simple, strong faith. She had done something wrong, but she didn’t know what, and now she was adrift in a sea of well-meaning without any land in sight.

She slipped back in the tub so she could reach under her arms, to shave away the scent that was so strong an aphrodesiac, to make herself bare again so that she could emerge from the water, clean and new. And her tears shifted from pain and regret and confusion to loss, bitter loss. She realized that death was easier, because when someone dies there’s a reason they’ve been ripped so physically from your life, and you can work with it, integrate it. You didn’t do anything wrong.

She feels herself, smooth as silk, and realizes how different that is from her internal self of jagged sharp harshness. That physical ripping of husband and best friend has left edges that haven’t worn down, gaping red and raw wounds that have barely begun to heal. With a start, the tears turn back to laughter, hard and mocking, because she knows that if he saw her now, he would simply shake his head in disbelief and say he “didn’t understand why it was such a big deal, it never was to him, so how could it be to her?” Experience let her hear the words echo in her head.

Laughter gives way to hiccups, and with an abrupt jerk she yanks the stopper from the tub. The water swirls away gradually, and she alternates tears with hiccups until both subside and she’s sitting there, cold and damp, with two sets of cat eyes clouded with concern and confusion. She realizes slowly that she would never be a Jane Austen heroine like this, that she was embodying only the weak and negative traits of the girls of the sisterhood, and ever more slowly realized that traits are value neutral, and it’s all in how you use them.

She turns on the shower quickly, decisively, washing the final tears and red eyes away under a rain of water, meditating on how water has become so symbolically linked to rebirth.

As she dries herself off, resolve firming in her mind, she wonders why it is, whenever she talks about how she feels, she talks in third person.

but all I remember are the dreams in the mist

The cursor bobbed across the screen, jerking from menu to menu. “You can make this work?” he said, half question and half order.

She pursed her lips, trying not to laugh, and leaned around the corner of the desk. “I hate these mice,” she said conversationally, placing her right hand over the large optical mouse. “Mac’s don’t need this many buttons, and the wheel is just irritating.”

“I only take what they give me.”

“Yeah, I know. …still hate them, though.” she grinned this time. She moved the mouse quickly across the screen, clicking the file name and popping the extensions menu open.

“How do you move the mouse so smoothly?” he asked. It was then she noticed his hand was still on the outside of the mouse; she had been preoccupied both by trying to fix the program and the closeness of him. It amused her that in her preoccupation she hadn’t noticed his hand; ouija boards came to mind and she smiled again.

“It’s sort of like a mental map, I guess…” she centered the mouse on the screen. “I guess I know just how much to flick my wrist to move it from center to anywhere on the screen,…” her words trailed off as he moved his fingers over hers.

“Like this?” he pulled the mouse quickly to the right. It jerked a little, partly from her resistance.

“Uh, sort of…” she wasn’t sure how to handle this, or herself. Taking a deep breathe, she could smell him, soap and spice. “You need to move more smoothly, though – less from the wrist and more from the arm.” She took control of the mouse and it moved smoothly across the screen. “I generally prefer using my right hand for the mouse, too” she nodded slightly at his left hand, fingers still over hers.

“Well if I use my right hand, I’m always taking my hand off the mouse to type.” he pressed gently down on her fingers, stroking back lightly. He looked at her then, his expression carefully neutral, only his eyes showing a quiet question. Her breathe caught in her throat. His hand was large, almost completely covering hers, and soft, without callouses. She raised her thumb, hesitating and then pressing it against the edge of his hand. His eyes softened into a smile, and she shyly looked down at the keyboard. “I, I think that should fix the problem…” she almost whispered. She started to stand back and pull her hand off the mouse; they faced the office door, but it was open and if anyone walked by…

His fingers laced through hers and squeezed, stopping her movement. “There are some other… Things, maybe you can sit down and help me with?” Her eyes went wide at the innuendo as he turned red. “I, that is, I-” he stuttered, gesturing at the computer with his free hand.

Frozen there, they paused for a moment, poised over a line both knew shouldn’t be crossed. An unspoken question hung between them, and she gazed at his face in search of an answer. She smiled again, a slow flush spreading across her face as moved around the desk to sit next to him. Resting her foot next to his and squeezing his hand, she said “Yes, yes I think I can.”

Haiku; Gloaming

A friend challenged people to write a haiku using the word gloaming. Gloaming is both one of my favourite words and favourite concepts, not to mention a time of day I genuinely enjoy. I also intimately associate it with the very powerful, Christopher Reeves directed movie Into the Gloaming, the title of which I appropriated for use in my haiku.

    soft petals fall, pink
    cherry blossoms fade, they’ve gone…
    into the gloaming