Running Through

She was running.  She was always running, but this time it was different, this time there was a void, three days of darkness, and a promise.

The promise had not been hers to make, but it had been hers to keep.  And in this topsy-turvy world with no relevant regulations, she thought it wise to comply with the outline of the bargain.

Three days, that’s how long the clock had been ticking, that’s how long she’d been running in the black, that’s how long an eternity could last when stretched around someone like a blanket.  Up until then, she’d been a normal albeit hormone-ridden, teenager.  A knock on the door that should have been her Saturday night date had been a promissory note on her mother’s longstanding debts.

The guy who’d been on the other side of that knock was short and squatty.  His wool suit had been worn down to a few threadbare patches that seemed to be strung together by sheer force of will.  She leaned out of the door to ask him what he needed, and was quickly greeted by the smell of tobacco and mothballs that rolled from the dirty bowler hat that was perched on a meaty roll of his head.

At first she’d thought that she might actually laugh out loud in the man’s face, but her manners had held out.  After all, this man must be in a great deal of distress or need to go wandering from door to door in those clothes.  She’d thought that he would ask for food or money or maybe he would want to fill them full of stories from the good book.

But after a moment of silence in which she’d felt the intensity of his stare marking her pale flesh, he’d asked for her mother, and she’d obliged, wondering if this man was someone from her mother’s past, someone who could fill in the blanks on a life her mother refused to discuss.

Hiding behind the doorway, she’d learned of the promise that had been made, of the sacrifice that was now needed.

It was only a week.

Those had been his words, his guarantee to her that she would be allowed to continue on with her life when the debt was fulfilled.

Her mother had not seemed to care this way or that about the arrangements, only that she herself would be free of this burden and that it would be I who made the payment in full.

“It’s only running, and you do that all the time anyway.” Had been her flippant response.

And although the carelessness with which it was tossed into the air had stung, it had been the truth; she did run a lot.  When she ran she liked the way that the earth seemed to tilt around her, pouring through her body until it came through changed and she knew for once that she had affected something.

This type of running was different

This time there was nothing.  She was running through a void, and she could feel it pressing in on her, and everyday it changed her a little more; the darkness creeping in like a stain.  She wanted to stop, to take a breath and let the tightening in her muscles ease for a moment, but she knew that it wouldn’t be possible.

The man had said one week:  7 days, 168 hours, 10,080 minutes, and 604,800 seconds.

If you sewed this much time together, they could easily form an infinity of unchanging years in the abyss.

Time bends.  Time does not exist.

She’d been running for three days, the man in the bowler hat had whispered it to her earlier.  And even though she had been unable to see him, she had not missed his scent as he exhaled on her neck, as she felt the inside of his thoughts turn against her.

Earlier—

Earlier it had been three days and counting.

In her mind she could she all of the movements in the heavens.  She could feel each star burning its brightest against her bare flesh.

Four days to go—

But she knew she would never reach the goal, knew the debt would go unpaid, and something else the man in the hat whispered to her makes her wonder how long her mother had owed this promise, how many daughters she had burning through in her half-hearted attempts to pay it back.  A stitch, previously sewn and embedded in her muscles reached up to squeeze its fiery grip around her longs.

96 hours—

She wonders what her mom got in the bargain—wonders if she will share her secrets, her bounty, when everything is done and quickly realizes it is a moot point.  It is unlike her mother to share that much of herself with a child, let along any rewards she may have reaped along the way.

Maybe she was on Olympus, this whole thing some cruel punishment handed out by the gods.  Maybe that is why she feels so close to the stars and so very far from reality.

5,760 minutes—

Why did they have to take her eyes?  Why leave her running through the dark?  Why leave her stranded where she cannot even shed a tear?

345,600 seconds—

Her lungs burn more with each breath, her feet leaking out small amounts of blood with each step.  She can feel the end pressing down on her with the same weight and stench as the man’s breath when he whispered her timeline into her ear.

For a moment she thinks about her mother and whether or not she will miss her, but she immediately decides not.  She cries out in her hopelessness and hears no echo to greet her.

And of course, she keeps running.

 

Chasing Happiness

“You talk about happiness like it is something you’re guaranteed.” He said, running his fingertips across her flesh as he spoke.

Her skin tingled under his touch and she turned her head to look at him, her black hair falling over her alabaster shoulder. He, on the other hand, had the darkened skin and golden hair of a Greek god. The long standing joke between them had been that she was that she was the Fury to his Adonis.

Biting down on the inside of her cheek she thought about his statement for a moment before responding. His blue eyes were almost grey with lust, and although she longed to roll him over and mount him again she refrained.

“I would like to think we’re guaranteed happiness. We just have to claim it.” She tried to smile to dismiss the lingering doubts.

Why does uncertainty always follow passion? She wondered as she studied him. After all, minutes before they had been completely intertwined together, their bodies locked in a moment of lust so intense her limbs were still numb with pleasure.

“Is that what you’ve been trying to do? Is that what this is about?” his questions were fired in rapid succession, and she knew he was looking for a way to process what had happened.

“This is about that and so much more. Happiness is here, right now, in this room. What is outside that door is nothing more than a lifetime of normality. So yes, in this moment I am happy.”

He kissed her shoulder as he spoke. “I’m not saying I mind.”

She smiled and leaned over, pulling him into another kiss and before long they were once again drowning in passion. And with each rising thrust she urged him closer, using his body to block out the fear she could feel trying to claw its way out of her.

For a while it worked.

When she was leaving he stood at the door watching her. She looked up and smiled.

“It was bound to happen someday.” She whispered, hoping he did not catch the sadness edging into her voice.

“We’re just mortals, and you can only deny attraction for so long.”  He responded, his face beginning to solidify into a mask of stone. It was a look she’d seen before, and she knew that if she were to hang around by tomorrow the remaining lust in his gaze would be replaced with something else. Something she had no desire to see.

“Yeah, attraction and base level pheromones.” She halfway joked as she walked out of the comfort of that moment and into the stark world that had been waiting just beyond the drapes.

He watched her go, but didn’t say anything else and didn’t venture down from his doorway.

She only looked back once, but quickly turned around when the shadow began to linger at the edge of her peripheral vision. For a short time she had managed to banish it, but now it was back and there was no more hiding. Its dark and bilious form caused her pulse to quicken and she took several deep breaths to remind herself it was just a lingering manifestation, nothing more.

It had been there for months, stalking her, and she knew what its presence heralded. She’d chosen to embrace it rather than run or hide from it.

Destiny was a finicky thing.

Once she was in her car, she pressed the heels of her hands to her eyes to try and stop the tears from leaking down her cheeks.

Turning over the engine, she backed out of the drive and turned down the road that led away from her life and into the horizon.

Endings First

“Why do you always do that?” he asked, pushing her book closed around her fingers even as she tried to continue reading.

Her gaze shot up to his, her cool green eyes meeting his dark brown ones with a flare of anger and irritation that had sprung up almost instantly when she’d heard his voice.

“Do what?” she retaliated. Pulling the book away from his grasp and staring at him.  Without the precious pages between them, she had nothing to wall herself into the corner. It had been weeks since she’d been forced to look at him, to address the problems that had begun to spring up between them.

Now she found herself considering his unkempt graying hair and sloping pot belly and a wave of disgust washed over her.  She took a breath and swallowed back the bile creeping up at the back of her throat.

For a moment she managed to choke back her revulsion, but just barely.

“Read the end first.  What good is the rest of the book if you already know how the story is going to end?”

This was not a new conversation. In the course of twenty plus years of marriage it was one they had endured multiple times; although, she had never felt as much anger directed at his question before now.

“Endings are the best part.  I want to make sure I know if the best part is good enough to warrant an investment of my time.” Taking another deep breath, she pulled the book back up to her face and tried to once again bury herself in the comfort of words.

Books had been her reality disconnect for quite some time. The stories they portrayed were stark creations of black and white that called out to her and invited her into a world that could numb the pain of this one.

He studied her, and she could feel his gaze burning through the pages of the book.  She knew from experience that he wasn’t going to let this moment go.  When she had reread the same sentence at least three different times without him moving at all she lowered the book and once again and held his gaze.

He took this as an invitation to start picking on her.

“You realize you can’t see the end of your life, right?  If endings are the best part then you must be living in hell not knowing how this is going to play out.”  A lilting half-smile spread across his face, and the moment that she could see its smugness her arms tensed, her muscle reflex itching to take the book and smack him across the mouth with it.

Fingernails scraped against the cover as her hand curled into a tight ball.

Instead, She managed to pull out her own smile, raise her eyebrow, and toss back a reply she knew would bother him.

“How do you know that I don’t?”

He snorted and started to walk away, but pivoted on his heel and turned back before she could start reading again. “If you knew how it ended, why would the middle section be fulfilling at all?  Why not just lie down and die? Wouldn’t all of the rest of it just be unimportant filler?”

Frustration and anger surged through her and she felt her nails biting into her palm as her hand once again closed shut. But when she caught his gaze she realized he truly did not know or understand the answer to his question.

“The ending is the best part, but that does not mean it is the only part. All of the struggles, all of the pain, the heartache, the daily grind of living, these moments add up to something.  Without them the end is just a suspended glimpse in time that has no relevancy. It’s true in life and in books.”

For a moment he held her gaze and she felt a tremor of life as it had been slip between them. The anger subsided, and the air no longer seemed to buzz with their mutual dissatisfaction.  Without even realizing she was doing it, she allowed her clenched fist to relax.

He shrugged and walked away, leaving her to read her book in peace.  She considered the day a victory.

…and the walls came crashing down…

You probably don’t know me from Adam.  Or, if you do, you don’t know all of me.  I section myself off and very, very few people know what goes on in my head.  However, I think that is about to change.  That’s because they say that if you want to know a writer’s soul, you need to read their work.  While I have published some things, I hold a lot of it back.  No more.  Even the work that can’t get published or that I haven’t put out into the world much is about to find a home here.

This is the place where I make my stand, where I take a scalpel and slice my soul bare.  I had a very important person in my life once tell me that was the only way to make a connection as a writer.  She said I had to take a chance and open my wounds all the way up and bleed them out through my pen.  She died, and for awhile I forgot this.  I shut it away in one of my compartmentalized selves and locked the door.

Writing is not just something I do on occasion, and it’s not just a passing fad.  It is possibly the most important thing about me.  It is my purge, my way of coping with the world when everything seems out of control.  It always has been.  I’ve never used drugs, I’m not a big drinker, and for awhile in my teenage years if you’d asked I would have said my outlet was sex.  But that was before writing, before I found a way to sort my life in words.

These characters are not real, and yet they are.  I create them from aspects of people I have met over the years.  It could be something as simple as the way a man rubbed his stomach when he spoke or the confused tilt of someone’s head when I said something that took them by surprise.  I distill the essence of what these people are and try to incorporate those aspects into my stories.  It doesn’t mean the events are real.  In fact, events that happened in the written world probably have never happened in the physical world.  The foundations for these are built on a grain of truth and then expanded through a highly active imagination.

Pull up a chair and stay a minute. While you’re here, read something.  I hope you enjoy them. If so, leave a comment or send a message. If not you can leave messages too, but be constructive. You can call something shitty and trash it, just don’t be surprised if I tell you to fuck off.  It’s kind of who I am.

So, here it is people, take it or leave it.  I’m not sure how many of you will read this.  I have no idea if it will find an audience.  I just know it is something I have to do.  For too many years I have not been using writing as a means of purging my inner demons.  Instead I’ve been building up walls.  Now it is time for me to tear those walls down…