story

The Drinking Game

5124-alcohol
she couldn’t stomach anything all week
doctor’s diagnosis; the stomach virus of the spring
week old vodka slithers down the spine and into a belly
that vomited just twice this morning
she clasps the secretive flask, brimming full with a bitter brew
unscrews the cap, tips it back,
rubbing alcohol and sweet sugar
numbing the pain of stretched muscles
clenched teeth, soaking liquid into tired skin
tongue like leather, each bud boiling from the lick of liquor
wincing, she wishes she could hold her face still like the men
who take gin and tonics in a heartbeat
–she takes hers in two
She couldn’t stomach anything all week
but still she plays the drinking game 

Max’s Mother

max“Are you ready to hold your baby boy?” the nurse asked the exhausted new-mother who sat slightly upright in the hospital bed.

Her eyes, although tired, sparkled as she held out her hands. A tiny blue bundle was placed in her arms, and it was as if he was made to fit there. He peeked up from his soft cocoon, much like his mother’s womb, and he gazed up to see a woman that he already loved, although he did not quite know it.

“Hello, my little Max,” said his mother, and she smiled into his little face even after he had fallen asleep.

*

It’s too late for this, thought Max’s mother. Her son was wearing his wolf suit again, even though she had asked him three times to take it off and get into his pajamas. Most days, he refused to wear any other type of clothing around the house. He was attached to his suit, a gift given regrettably one Halloween long ago.

Max had always been a rambunctious child. The moment he could crawl he began to cause all sorts of unwanted stress to his mother. The wolf costume was a new addition and it matched his wild behavior. But, despite his occasional monstrous behavior, Max’s mother still loved him as she did from the first day she held him.

Tonight, she was having a hard time being overly loving to Max. She was tired and had cooked a hot meal for Max, including all of his favorite foods. She was even going to let him have chocolate milk with dinner, instead of plain milk.

She was getting tired of the night’s antics. To start, Max was refusing to take off his wolf suit, but unfortunately that happened on the regular. Tonight however, he nailed up a tent to play in, using a hammer as a tool and leaving holes in the freshly painted walls. He was pretending that it was his castle, a castle that he would rule for the duration of the night.

He also decided to run around the house, jumping on and off furniture, chasing after their poor dog with utensils, thrashing around and refusing to settle down. Max’s mother couldn’t take it any longer. Supper was on the table and was ready to be eaten, and Max couldn’t care less.

Finally, she had to do something. She rarely raised her voice, thinking that it didn’t do anything to calm down a child, but she didn’t know what else to do.

“WILD THING,” she yelled at him, hoping he would stop and settle down.

Max looked at her with angry eyes, like a wolf ready to attack. He held up a spoon that he had been carrying, waving it at her with force and ready to throw a tantrum.

“I’LL EAT YOU UP,” he screamed, waving the spoon in front of her face.

That was the last straw for Max’s mother, and she was through with how he was acting and how he was treating her. She figured a cruel punishment would have to serve as a lesson. She pointed towards his room and ordered for him to go to bed, without supper.

Max stormed off and obeyed, and locked himself in his room. Max’s mom went to the kitchen and made herself a plate, looking down with dismay. She hated to yell at Max. She loved her wild son with all her heart, but she couldn’t understand why he was acting out, behaving like some sort of animal.

As she picked at her supper, she heard him clanging around in his room. Probably creating another “castle,” she thought. He had such an imagination at such a young age. Always dreaming of far away places with creatures and monsters and other wild things. He was always telling her these stories, in between the fort-building and rumpus-making, but she listened and smiled all the while.

Sometimes she would read Max stories before he would go to bed. He curled up in her lap in her arms, in the spot that was made for him, and she would read to him before he fell asleep. Since Max was always bouncing off of things in the house, he always came to her with a teary-eyed face and scratches on his arms. Max’s mother always had Band-Aids and kisses ready for her restless son.

And, every Mother’s Day since he could write, he would scribble a homemade card for her on construction paper, with unsymmetrical crayon hearst and “I love you” written all over the inside.

Although Max spent most of his time daydreaming, she knew her song would always come back to her, because in her arms there was always a warm place where he could endlessly be loved. She knew in her heart, that her Max loved her just the same.

Max’s mother finished her supper and went over to the stove where she put food on a separate plate. It was still warm. She walked quietly to Max’s room and walked over to his nightstand. He was collapsed in his bed near his make-shift castle. His wolf costume remained on and his face was flushed and peaceful.

She placed the warm plate of supper on his nightstand and dimmed his lights in his room. She crept to the open door and turned to where Max was sleeping. Before leaving she whispered goodnight to him, even though he was fast asleep, off in some jungle with vines and monsters and little boys without supper.

“Goodnight, my king of the wild things.”

***

This short story was written for my mother. The inspiration is from Maurice Sendak’s Where the Wild Things Are, a story about a boys adventurous mind and a mother’s eternal love. Max’s journey and realization that he always has a place at home is just one reminder of all the things a mother is and always will be.

 

A Fishy Relationship

A impromptu short story completed for my creative writing class, where I partnered with  avid writer Becca Lynn. Our prompt was on a relationship, with the incorporation of a goldfish somewhere in the story. 

 

fish

John and I never seemed like a couple that would break up over something so trivial. One day, I just couldn’t take it anymore. I had to leave him. I had to get out. He came home from work one day, and I don’t know…I lost it.

“I hate its bulging eyes and its white flecked scales and the round bowl that you have it in. It’s so oddly placed on that dresser, look at it…next to your dying plant that you refuse to water,” I paused, taking in the deer-in-the-headlights look on his face.

I continued my rant, watching him set down his briefcase and take a step back. Was he afraid of me?

“You never forget to feed the fish though. It swims around, in its pathetic prison—waiting for you to feed it!”

My voice echoed in our apartment. Thank goodness the window was closed. I’m sure the neighbors would be scared to hear such a fight from what they thought was a forever-in-love couple. They didn’t know about the fish.

“Jodi, no,” John mumbled.  “Why are you saying these things?  Where did all of this come from?  You know how much this fish means to me!”

I heard what he said but I didn’t care. I kept thinking about the fish, glancing over to the bowl with a sick feeling in my stomach. It’s not the fish, although, it was a little. The fish is just simple and boring. I don’t see a point in something that swims around, never changing its path, always remaining a sad, little orange creature that lives in a comfortable home on top of a comfortable dresser.

But he loved that fish. I could tell he was about to cry, or tell me why the fish meant something to him.  He took a step closer to me, his eyes glazing over and his eyebrows quivering up and down in confusion.

“Jodi, I just don’t understand.  We have been through so much together and now you’re getting worked up over a fish?”

He kept looking at me in those wide eyes, searching for any ounce of sympathy that I wasn’t willing to give him.

“I love you, Jodi, don’t you get it?  You make me so happy.  I would change for you, I really would.  I just love my fish so much.  I would do anything for you, as long as I can keep my fish.  You know you love coming home from work and seeing her swimming around in her little bowl chasing bubbles around in the water.”

He was running out of breath but didn’t give up.

“Well,” he swallowed.  “Now you’re the bubbles and I’m the fish and I’m chasing you.  Eventually she gets bored of chasing her bubbles but I could never get bored of chasing you.  I promise.  All I ask is that we keep her!  I wish you could see how much this would mean to me.  I want to swim through life together, with you, forever, Jodi.”

I looked down at the floor and took a deep breath.  I knew this wasn’t going to be easy.

“John, I can’t remain in a place created upon routine, each day the same thing,” I saw his mouth quiver.

“Jodi!  It’s a fish!  Just a fish!  One of the most simple, easy-going creatures on the planet!  You don’t even have to take care of her—”

“You bet I don’t take care of that thing!” I interrupted, shouting a little louder than I intended.

“Then why does it matter to you?” he demanded.  “This fish completes me.  I love her.  But I love you more!  Believe me when I say this, Jodi, I love you, and you mean the world to me.  I just need both of you in my life.”

He stood waiting for me to say something, probably hoping I wouldn’t go on about the fish. I had to continue.

“Each swim around the tank is just another day for that fish. You can’t even give the fish different color rocks at the bottom of her tank, remember? I suggested those purple rocks, at least give her a chance to have a change in scenery.”

I sat on the bed, looking away from the fish and John’s face as he desperately searched for air. Like a fish, I thought.

“You know what, I feel sorry for that fish. He’ll never get that from you: change. Life will stay the same, just like our relationship.”

I stood up and walked toward the window, my back is again to the fish, and to John.

I stared out the window and wished to say something else but I was lost. I was swimming in my own pool of frustration. I tried to understand what he was saying, but I only hated him more. I walked to the door and saw him hold out his hand.

“I never wanted the life of a goldfish,” I whisper, and I was gone.

 

 

 

Table for Two

glow

Mexican melodies

Mixed with knives and forks

Against white porcelain plates

As leftover sun makes its way

Into the room where we sit

Spice and salt

And sipping sangria

Watching resting candles

On wooden tabletops

Our flame flickers the fastest

Illuminating our

Intertwined hands

Three glasses in and

We’re feeling warm and sweet

Talking loudly

And enjoying village atmosphere

I want to stand up

And sway, unsure

If it’s the wine

Or the bliss of

Having you with me

They always say,

“It takes two to tango”

And as you let me

Grab your hand and

Try to keep a tempo

I realize it only takes one

To make a soul dance

Destination

I sit alone in a vacant train station, but its vacancy is only my perception. It is semi-crowded, yet I have this feeling that everyone seems to be far away from me. I try to occupy my mind, but the lingering smell of oiled tracks and trash that has yet to be emptied only adds to the lump in my throat. My iPod shuffles music, and I have the urge to turn it off because every song pulls his face into my mind.

I hope for my train to come on time, anything to get me off of the cold bench that I sit on alone. I’m surrounded by hand-holders, married couples, and young lovers. I avoid looking at them, and instead glance at the clock that seems to keep saying 12:47 p.m. There are billboards across the track that I begin to take notice of, and I realize I’m doing more than just surveying what is around me.

live fearlessThe advertisement I focus on is for affordable health coverage, emphasizing that if I have this insurance, I can “live fearless.” The point is obvious. I’m supposed to think that if I get this health insurance, I can surf the seas, jump off of cliffs, explore the world, or be as reckless as I possibly can. I can live fearless with nothing to worry about.

I realize how often I worry as I stare at this advertisement. I worry about this idea of being fearless. I worry about my life in two years, I worry about where my family will go, I worry about my friends and what road they take, I worry about money and grades and opening my heart to someone new.

I hate worrying, and I hate using expressions about the heart because it seems cliché. The heart is just an organ that beats and pumps blood and keeps us living. So frequently we talk about the heart in pain, the heart swelling, the heart flipping and turning, the heart growing warm, the heart feeling love, his sympathetic heart, her aching heart.

Their hearts beating.

Still waiting for the clock to turn to 1:16 p.m., I picture his face, again, in the window as his train started to pull away from where I stood. My heart feels like it’s breaking, I thought. If my heart feels like it’s breaking, then does that mean being with him is when it is whole? Does it mean my heart is complete when I am with him?

My train pulls up, interrupting the thoughts I had. I still do not know if I can be fearless, but perhaps with him in my life I can begin to have courage and forget about being afraid.

I sometimes wonder if I will find the answers I am looking for. But, in this moment, I am sure of one thing, and that is that I am ready for a new destination.

Steps to the Courtyard

Alone

Fully recognizing solitude

With the warmth from the sun

Almost exactly overhead

Grazing the corner of my ear

Feet on a gravel path

Disturbing my distance

Buzzing yellow jackets

And crickets to a tempo

I cannot yet understand

Why I feel the need to sit

And stay

Alone

Only sometimes

Touching my sun-beam face

Its roughness

Against the light of my hair

Feet on a gravel path

Butterflies moving drunkenly

Cutting through spindly bushes

And prickle topped cacti

The home to an orchestra, no,

A choir

Of melodious material

Alone

Embracing the Change

I haven’t posted in over a month. I always write to clear my mind, to make a point, to bring meaning to something in my own life or others. It’s painful knowing I have been neglecting my passion, a part of my life.

If I am being honest with myself, I have been afraid. I have logged on several times to this account, hoping that these feelings I have had will come out. I have been hoping to find the answers to questions that have been left for me figure out.

I don’t think I will ever have the answers to some of these questions. However, I have come to terms with one thing, and that is change is inevitable and no matter how hard I try, I cannot determine what the future has in store for me. My experiences over the last year, the last month, have changed me more than I could handle, but I think now I have an understanding of where I am in my life.

Where does that leave me? If I start back in the beginning of college, I realize how young, stupid, naive I was. This is not to say I didn’t have a good head on my shoulders, I really did. I worked so hard, knowing every hour spent studying was a dollar worth spending. I made relationships, kept relationships, broke relationships, experienced heartbreak, drama, and a whole lot of bullshit. I tried to add onto the person I wanted to be, the person I was becoming.

It’s so unbelievably hard to become “someone.” We all have this grand master plan that we shoot for, and we end up falling hard with disappointment. We want the perfect job, the perfect scores, the best GPA, great friends and the guy/girl of our dreams. We want this house and that car. We want to live in close proximity to a school so our kids are safe. We want some life that we don’t know if we can have.

I’ve realized dreams are something that should pinned on a bulletin board, tattooed on an arm, plastered on a wall. They should be engraved in our brains. At the same time, I have realized that these dreams or goals or whatever, shouldn’t stop you from taking a chance on something new, exciting, different or scary. I can still have goals, but I can also be a risk-taker, a go-getter, a spontaneous woman ready to live her life.

I had this plan that I would marry this guy. Everything was great, wonderful. We never fought, well we never would, but I would nag at things I wanted to change. And they never did change. They got better at times, but still these things that I wanted to change remained the same. That’s so unbelievably wrong of me to think I can change a person. You can’t change anyone. They can change themselves, but ultimately in the end, people will be who they want to be. If I could only say every racing thought I had in that short span of time when I broke his heart, maybe he could understand. Maybe he could not hate me, his mom could stop telling everyone at work that I broke up with him out of the blue. It’s not my fault….I didn’t mean to change. How can you get a person to not change? I’m sorry for hurting him. I’m sorry I couldn’t be sad, that I moved on so quickly. I had this unrealistic idea that we would graduate, I would work in the city, so would he, and then we would live together, followed by marriage. Seriously. What the hell was I thinking? I sound like a 13 year old girl cutting pictures out of magazines of bridal dresses and cakes saying, “This is what my life is going to be like.” No one knows what life is like, it just happens. So, if I had to tell him anything, which I promised him I would (and I never did out of more fear of hurting him, and the sheer fact that I don’t think I owe him anything), I would say I am sorry for becoming a different person. This is the best thing to happen to us because if we continued walking down this comfortable, no-thrills path, I surely would regret the person you are and the person I had become. You have given me a special time in my life, one for which I am grateful of, and I will never forget it.

There’s love that falls apart in relationships and then there’s love that falls apart in friendships. I can’t say which I hate most, losing a relationship or losing a friendship. Friends are intertwined in our lives, at least they should be. The worst part in any relationship is giving 110% and receiving less than that. I always try and do my best to be a good friend. I don’t even know what a good friend is, and I don’t know if there needs to be a specific definition. I do know that I don’t regret leaving behind any of my friendships. I refuse to be walked on, have no self-respect, and be treated like a fool. I am willing to go to the ends of the Earth for people, and I sometimes think they wouldn’t even go to edge of the water for me. I was supposed to be in a special time of my one friend’s life. I tried so hard to mend the cracks in our relationship, some created by me and some created by her (although she’s so perfect she won’t admit she did anything wrong). All my effort was overlooked, all my cries for attention buried under an enormous mound of lies and laziness. Thank you, for teaching me to stand up for myself, something I don’t know if I ever will fully be able to do on my own. If it wasn’t for my mom, and the actual friends I had, I would have stood next to you and listened to you say, “I do,” and have to put on a happy face, knowing I am filler, an object to fill a space that you couldn’t care less about. You didn’t care about me, and in fact if I wouldn’t have tried to text, Facebook, email….whatever….you would have just let it fade. I’m sorry that I ruined your night, but you ruined countless of mine and made me think I was a worthless friend, and a worthless individual. I’d rather be self-centered than a liar.

Then I had this crazy rebellious stage. They say college is all about the “college experience,” and you know what? They are right. Kids need to get out there (being smart about it) and drink, have sex, do drugs, run around, stay up late, eat bad food–all of it. I think we all have this feeling, this urge, to just do something. You don’t know what it is until you are in the moment. I don’t even know what this “something” is. I just know that when you feel it, you just want to be so spontaneous you couldn’t care less about the outcome or the time of day. You just want to flirt and be with everyone you come in contact with, or at least that’s how I felt. I guess I didn’t want to be alone.

That’s when I met him. He had his “eye” on me for a span of time. A couple dates, a couple kisses, some late-night flirtatious texting and I thought maybe, this could be something. Then I realized he wasn’t going to treat me how I wanted to be treated, and what’s the point of seeing someone who doesn’t make the fireworks go off? Reminds me, I still need to text him.

When I think about sparks, I think about this guy. It’s a crazy love story, almost taken out of a Nicholas Sparks book or maybe just a cheesy rom-com on a Saturday night. He’s ridiculous. If I could manufacture the ideal guy, it would be him. He’s everything that I’ve ever wanted in someone, and more. We met while working in the same town, and thank goodness he decided to have some courage that day. Every time I pass that corner I think about him. It’s crazy, it’s just a corner! Now he’s back in my life. Let me tell you, this time I can be honest about my feelings for you. I wish I wouldn’t have held back. I hope that you and I can make this work. I don’t care about distance, labels, time.

Honestly, I want to see you be brave. Say what you want to say, and let the words fall out.”*

I know you’ve had bad experiences with a situation like this, but maybe one day I can change your mind. In the meantime I’m willing to do almost anything for you, because a connection like this is what everyone is searching for, despite how cliche it sounds, I think it’s that whole “missing puzzle piece” thing that everyone talks about. My music professor said, “Don’t be with someone you love, be with someone you can’t live without.” I think that fits for us.

Not every learning experience I have had has come from something bad. I’ve met a few amazing, inspiring, funny, and easy to get along with people so far this year. One young woman, who I hope will be my friend long after college, has opened my eyes. She just has the same morals, same ideas, same goals and dreams as I do. I don’t know what I would have done during this time of change, this time of confusion, without her. And as always, my mom has been a huge help and a huge supporter of everything I do. She can play devil’s advocate pretty well, but more often than not, she is always on my side. I am thankful to have another close friend, who may not be close in age, but she is someone so close and dear to me, I cannot imagine life without her. She’s just a great example of someone who has struggled in life, but continues to give and help even though she needs it more than I do.

I’ve heard people say change is good, and I’ve heard people being afraid of change. I can say now, that I can embrace anything that comes my way. I’m ready to be daring, different, spontaneous, loving, mindful, and at peace with myself and the people around me. Much like the journey to discovering myself, I am constantly traveling down new and exciting paths that tests my understanding and love of the written word. Without writing, there is no meaning. Without change, there is no future.