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Required Reading: Love Letters from Strangers

By |February 4th, 2019|Uncategorized|

Every person I tell I’m a writer wonders if they will end up in one of my stories.  I explain to them that they’d have to be pretty interesting or terribly awful for that to happen. I’ve asked boyfriends and lovers before if they would be offended  more or less if I never wrote about them.  The answers have varied. So have the stories.


My friend and I were sitting at the bar of our local go to restaurant.  She was talking about a guy she’d just met.  I was pretending that I didn’t think it sounded like a disaster already.  Next to me, there was a man by himself, drinking whiskey and hunched over a newspaper.  It was late on a Friday night, so it seemed a bit odd to have a newspaper.  Trying not to be too obvious, I looked to see what he was reading.  But he wasn’t reading.  He was on the last word of that week’s crossword puzzle and so I decided to talk to him.  Figuring out the last word seemed more interesting than trying to figure out if my friend should agree to a second date.

As it often goes, my friend left to go meet the aforementioned nightmare and I decided to stay and talk to the man with his crossword puzzle. He was kind and smart.  We talked about books and things about the neighborhood.  He asked if I wanted to get another drink and I agreed.  He asked what I did.  I told him.  However, this time, he didn’t ask if I would write about him.  Instead, on Monday morning I received an email from an address I didn’t know.  This is what it said.

He watched her as she stepped out of the shower. He could sense her mood even before she started dancing as she toweled herself dry. He knew this mood well and the ritual that was to follow. She would think about what she’d wear but not over think it – she didn’t need to. She dressed quickly, but wasn’t in a rush – she was just confident that way. But he got anxious when she went towards her shoes. “Please put on sneakers,” he thought to himself. When he saw her put on her heels he knew it would be hours before he saw her again. He knew she’d come home smelling of someone else. He hated those heels. He knew she looked great in them, but oh, how he hated them.

With a quick “Bye, sweetie,” and without waiting for nor expecting a response she ran out.

He sat and watched the door for a time hoping she’d return. He’d always hoped it was because she’d changed her mind and decided to stay home. She’d done it before where she’d left and come back but never for that reason. Usually, it was because she forgot her phone or to use the bathroom once more. And then there was the time she’d come back after just a few minutes. He’d heard her tell her girlfriend “the douche cancelled.” She was upset but at least she was home. The combination of his anxiety and the silence of the now empty apartment tired him and with nothing else to do he fell asleep.

The noise of neighbors arguing startled him and he didn’t know if he’d been out for minutes or hours. Either way she wasn’t home so he laid quietly as he contemplated his circumstances. Why did if have to be this way? Why did she need to seek the attention of others? Why wasn’t he enough? They never fought. He’d done nothing but love her since they first met. He’d always love her. And he knew deep down that no matter what she did, no matter how many times she sought happiness in the arms of another he would always be faithful. He told himself it was okay because, when all was said and done, it was always to him that she returned.

The din of the neighbors had calmed and in the quiet he heard the click-clack of heels coming down the hallway followed by the jingling of keys. His heart pounded faster as the lock unsnapped and the door opened. To play it cool was never an option and he ran to greet her. She’d come in with less makeup than she’d left with. Her tasteful dress was wrinkled. Strands of hair had fallen from an unkempt bun into her face. She smelled of cologne. He didn’t care. She was beautiful. She was home. She was his. As always, she’d come back to him.

“Hi Peanut, mommy’s home!”

In a city where men think they’re doing you a favor by buying you dinner, this was the most romantic and generous thing someone had done for me in a very long time.

 

WhyDid’s Words: T-shirt slogans

By |January 9th, 2019|Uncategorized|

I love my brother but I hadn’t seen him in years. We look alike, I used to pretend we were twins when I was younger even though he’s two years older than I am. My parents always thought he was high on airplane glue– he built model airplanes as a hobby. He hated school and made up answers to standardized tests in order to fail them.  I thought it was stupid at the time. I think it’s genius now. He’s the funniest person I know.

We decided we may actually be twins of sorts. He knows much more about ancient religion and all the details of history– I only got an A in history for wearing a sweater from https://matchinggear.com/couple-hoodies/ and a short plaid skirt in private school. I didn’t learn anything in school except for how to be charming and to get my way with adults.

We sat on his bed he’d made at my father’s house in Northern California after breaking up with a girlfriend who (in my sisterly opinion) hadn’t deserved him to begin with and moving out of the apartment they’d shared.  He poured whiskey into my chipped coffee cup and we watched something terrible on his Netflix cue.  It was sci-fi or something absurd with a puppet. I didn’t care because I wanted to know this brother of mine who I’d never known in my decades of life. A very important piece of me.  A lost piece who was taken from me without my permission.

My father used to joke that my brothers followed me around like puppies. Watching my every move. But now I wanted to know everything about him. The master had become the student.

I asked questions, but he never coddled me.  He didn’t resent me, though he should have.  I’d gotten all the perks of being the baby girl of the family.  No one had ever challenged me, but he did. Not in an unkind way.  To be honest, it was a compliment to go head to head with someone so smart, so thoughtful.  It made me a worthy opponent.  A compliment in itself.

What people don’t realize is that getting your way so easily is not actually fulfilling.  The irony is that people who have had to work for those same exact milestones wish they hadn’t had to work so hard.  So is there a happy medium?

No. The answer is “no.”

He knew I’d started a t-shirt line with one of my best friends. So, he sent me a text last night to ask what I thought about this for a slogan:

“About the same time life stops being terrifying, death starts being terrifying.”

I love my brother.

 

Setting the Mood: Dreamers Never Sleep

By |August 30th, 2018|Uncategorized|

She awoke

not knowing who she had just spoken to

in her dream.

But she remembered what he had said.

“You’re a woman through and through.

Don’t let anyone change you

or question your femininity.”

She didn’t know him.

She probably never would.

But he made her feel more like a woman

than any man could.

WhyDid’s Words: Overstimulated and Uninspired

By |August 20th, 2018|Uncategorized|

They sat on the corner of her bed after having made love. He’d already dressed. She sat, still naked. “I’ve actually never read anything you’ve written,” he said. In the two years they’d been playing cat and mouse, he’d said a lot of mean things, but this, to her, was the most cruel.

It was then she realized that not only did he not love her, he did not respect her.  And worst of all he took her love for granted– as if a joke.

He consumed all that she did online: watched her from afar, commenting now and again about how he liked the way a dress moved on her body, the way she’d done her hair– as if entitled to her.

She’d always taken it as a compliment that he was watching her, consuming her; if only virtually.  Now she wondered if this is what it is to be a modern day voyeur.

No need for a peephole.  No reason to wait until after dark to peer into a still lit window in hopes of catching a glimpse of a silhouette.  The content was laid out before you.  No work necessary.  Consume at will.  Risk nothing.

 

 

She flashed back to her freshman year of highschool.  One Friday night she had begged her mother to take her to the mall to hang out with her friends as they did every Friday night.  And on this night her mother said, “No.”

This was the first time her mother had declined to drive her the fifteen minutes to the Ohio Valley Mall and she had pouted and asked, “But WHY?”

“Let them wonder where you are,” her mother replied smoothly, “Don’t be so available.”

The only class she’d gotten straight A’s in that semester had been economics.  She realized it was a simple concept of supply and demand.  No one wants what is readily available to the masses.  We all like to think we have discovered something on our own.  What makes something valuable is its perceived uniqueness; its exclusivity.

… And so she realized on that afternoon as he left her sitting naked on the corner of her bed, in a world where we are inundated with information, images, and “I, I, I,” it seems we are totally overstimulated but completely uninspired.

WhyDid’s Words: Isn’t It Lovely?

By |June 30th, 2018|Uncategorized|

“Are you up?”

She knew what this normally meant– and normally she ignored it.  But tonight she responded.

“Where are you?”

“Why did you say you wish I was ready?”

 

She knew where this conversation was going to lead– nowhere.  It hadn’t led anywhere in the time she’d known him, but she always hoped that one day the brush would clear, the clouds would part, and he would show her, almost miraculously, exactly who he was– the person she already knew but he was too afraid to show the rest of the world.

“I wish you were ready for us. For this. For something real.”

It was several minutes before he responded.  She watered her orchid, poured another glass of wine. Resettled under the blanket on her couch where she’d fallen asleep.

“Can I tell you something I’ve never told anyone before?”

“Of course.”

She knew he needed her and had only been waiting all of this time for him to realize how much so.  She knew she wouldn’t like what he had to say, but again, she already knew what he was going to say because she knew him– from another life, from another planet, from another something– but she knew.

“I want them all, but I really want you.”

What she wanted was to be flattered.  It was clear it was she who he needed, but he wasn’t willing to give it all up– and she didn’t want him to.

“You need to just do what you need to do.  I’m not here to change you.”

He wasn’t sure how to process that statement. No one had ever let him run free while still loving him.  In all honesty, he wasn’t sure he even knew what it meant to be truly loved.

“We’re still doing this, so it’s not going to change.  These feelings aren’t going anywhere.”

She knew that was true because she’d tried to forget him, several times.  She’d moved on, she’d met new  people, but never without looking back– looking to see if he was watching her go.  She had always hoped that at some point they would figure it out.

However, every time she saw a beautiful girl with nice legs and long hair, she felt in her heart that he would  stray.  It could never be.  He could never be satisfied.  And she could never be satisfied with a someone in  such a state.

She wanted to just leave it alone.  Leave it as broken wreckage.  As a lesson.  But there was something, something about him, she couldn’t leave him stranded.  She knew he was more dangerous to himself than he was to her.

“Come here and tell me everything.”

“I can’t.”

“Why?”

“You’ll stop loving me. You’ll see who I really am.:

“I already know and I haven’t stopped yet.”