Going Home?

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               One of the biggest and most important questions in everyone’s life is one we still don’t have an answer for. What happens after we die? Are we sent to Heaven or Hell? Reincarnation? There are even theories out there that suggest we never really die, that we go to a different dimension and we live a life there and repeat over and over again.  Movies have us believing that it could be any number of different possibilities. Should we take the red pill or the green pill? Is there a brilliant white light at the end of the tunnel? Here’s the story of one moment who is beginning to find out just where he goes when his time is up.

               Lucas Bradley was a simple man living in a simple town. He was one of the few people who were lucky enough to find his true love in High School and it lasted. From there he went on to college, for business management, graduated near the top of his class, and from there he got a loan to open up his own book store with a loan from his father in law. Which he was able to pay back by the time he was 25.

               His wife turned out to be none other than his High School sweetheart, now named Scarlet Bradley.  She was never to get the grades that Lucas seemed to get so effortlessly, but her dreams were a little smaller than his so that was ok in her eyes. She went to college after High School, and obtained her Master’s in Education alongside Lucas, as he was starting up his book store business. While Lucas seemed to spend all of his waking hours either working in the bookstore, or reading books Scarlet enjoyed only having to work in the mornings and loved her summers off so she could be there for support whenever the business seemed to go down.

               In High School Scarlet was never the popular type, not because no one liked her but simply because she did not care to. She was of average height for a girl as she graduated. She had red hair, and the brightest green eyes anyone would ever see.  Her haired as always the perfect length just under her shoulder blades and almost always worn down. That is what attracted Lucas to her in the first place. He always described her as someone who could look gorgeous without having to try very hard.

               Like far too many guys in this day and age, Lucas of course wanted to keep himself reasonably presentable, but he was never one to obsess over exercising, or at times even coming his dark brown hair. If you were to see these two walking on the beach hand in hand, it would be hard for you not to wonder how a guy who looked like he did was able to get a girl as stunning as that. Lucas’ personal grooming skills helped him get a rugged look that some women seemed to like. He was about the same height as Scarlet, which was a little short for his age. What helped Lucas was the fact that he was genuinely the last nice guy in the world. He would open doors for anyone when he was at the fuel station, and almost always paid for the people behind him in a fast food drive thru. All these things and more are what drew Scarlet to him.

               Even now, when they are both done with school, and are starting to make a name for themselves, you can’t help but notice just how in love these two are. Lucas seemed to have it all. They were also good Christians who believed this life was only the beginning and when they leave this place they will be forever in Heaven or Home.

               It was a typical Sunday morning in the Bradley household. Scarlet woke up hours before Lucas did, went down stairs, started the coffee for the both of them, and then made pancakes for their every week Sunday breakfast. The smell of coffee and pancakes was always enough to get Lucas out of bed.

               Lucas tended to wear the same shirt and shorts to bed every night, which secretly disgusted Scarlet, but to Lucas it was just being smart. Why change clothes every night when all you do is sleep in them? He got out of bed and stretched and yawned and then followed in Scarlet’s steps and walked downstairs to the kitchen.

               “Good morning sleepy,” Scarlet said with a smile, “Gosh, I hope I didn’t wake you all these pancakes and coffee.” She waved her hand Vana White style, with a smile.

               “Man o man do I sure love you,” Lucas said, “You know one of these days I’m going to get up before you and make you breakfast.” He knew it would never happen.

               Scarlet rolled her eyes but smiled nonetheless. She also knew it would never happen.

               Their house was big enough to have a dining room, and a rather large kitchen. In that kitchen they had a breakfast nook, a dark brown one, in the corner where they spent their Sunday morning breakfasts. They both sat down and began to talk about their plans for the day.

               “So,” Lucas began, “What kind of adventures do you have for our Sunday fun day this week?”

               “Oh Lucas I knew you would forget,” she said.

               Lucas looked at her across the table and tried to be cute about it, “Of course I didn’t forget,” he said, “I just can’t seem to think right now because I’m so lost in your green eyes.”

               “Oh shut it,” she said cutely, “That line hardly worked when we were in High School, do you really think it is going to work now? She finished eating and gathered up her plate and took it to the sink without another word.

               Lucas slowly got up from his seat and walked over to her and put his arms around her, “Hey,” he whispered, “You know I have clean up because you made breakfast, and you’re right I did forget, but whatever it is you go do it, and I’ll be find here watching football.”

               “You’re lucky my weakness is a man who is not afraid to do dishes,” she said, which of course Lucas knew.

               “Anyway,” she said, “I just have to go to the school for a few hours to help set up for our end of the year program.”

               Now Lucas remembered.

               “Yeah,” he said, “you win, no go upstairs and get ready I’ll finish these up.

               So Scarlet did just that. She knew that she didn’t need to be in her normal teacher attire so she grabbed a t-shirt and jeans, ran back down, kissed Lucas goodbye as he was finishing up drying the dishes and told him she loved him.

               Lucas never imagined that would be the last time that he would see Scarlet alive on this Earth.

 

To be continued…

It’s About Time pt II

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               Prior to what you read about in the newspapers and in the seemingly endless news sites found on the internet in recent days, the little choices you make every single day have no  effect on the rest of the world. I’ve seen movies where society has virtually collapsed because someone traveled back in time and simply kissed a girl he never really kissed. It’s just not like that. Whether you really kiss your crush of ten years or not, isn’t going to affect anything farther than just the fact that you kissed her this time instead of not.

               To be honest though, I thought this was nothing more than a dream. I mean let’s be honest who would come to the conclusion that somehow things got changed, and I really was waking up next to a girl I’ve known since she was 10, and no she was perfectly comfortable kissing me and touching me. If you don’t think it’s a dream first, you are probably already crazy.

               After what seemed like hours, I stopped freaking out long enough to get some words out.

               “Clara, I mean,” I stammered “What is going on? Where the hell are we? Did you put something in my pop?”

               She finally peeled herself off me and looked up at me with the greenest eyes that I must have simply never noticed before. “Oh what are you talking about you goof?” she walked away and started getting dressed. “We are in the same place we have been for like what 6 months now?”

               She grabbed some flower looking tank top thing (I’m a guy sorry, I won’t be able to tell you exactly so you can visualize, just try and relate), and put it on over her nightgown undershirt. I stood there watching her trying to figure out what happened last night.  The last thing I remember was watching Buffy, and then…and then what? I’m here with a naked girl who I have always seen as a 10 year old? Creepy.

               Clara grabbed her jeans, slipped them on and then walked back over to me.

               “Thanks again,” she said, “I think my mom was just about ready to lose it. If you hadn’t stepped in and said those things I think she would have made an ass out of me, and her. So thank you sweets,”

               Sweets? What the hell?

               “I gotta go,” she said as she kissed me on the lips real quick, “I can’t be late today, I’ll grab your book bag for you when I’m off.”

               After that she walked out the door and shut it behind her leaving me to my thoughts to try and make sense of this. I looked around the room I was in, and I couldn’t help but notice how it was, just a weird mix of my stuff, and random girly things. The latest issue of Seventeen magazine was lying on the floor next to the bed.  I bent down to pick it up, but while doing so I noticed, something under the bed with a picture of the triforce from The Legend of Zelda. I grabbed that book and began to flip through the pages of that instead.

               I honestly didn’t know what to say or do. Alone in a strange bedroom that I’ve never seen before. I sat on the bed, flipping through the different magazines for about 10 minute, before I realized on top of everything else, I was bored.

               All of the sudden I heard the song Baby got Back coming from what sounded like a phone. Pulling the covers off I tried to find the thing. Finally I found it and answered. It was Clara.

               “Hey babes, “she began, “Don’t forget today you have to go turn in your paperwork today. I am sooo excited to start college with you.”

               Again, I must add…huh?

               That was enough for me; I dropped the phone and ran out the bedroom door, through a very clean museum like living room and out the door and emerged right next door to my house. Ok so at least I knew where I was, that was definitely a plus considering I knew nothing else. I looked around one last time, secretly hoping that if I stared at the sun I’d be startled and wake up. No such luck so I walked over to my house.            

               My mother was in the kitchen doing the dishes, and stopped when she saw me coming inside.

               “You ever going to stay the night here,” she said, “You know, where you actually live.”

               “Yah, “I stuttered, “Um, I don’t know what I was thinking, you can count me in for dinner tonight.”

               My mom looked surprised and she kind of turn her head like the way dogs do when they do the same. She didn’t say anything and turned around to finish the dishes.

“Mom,” I said softly, “Is there something going on?”

She scoffed a little bit and just walked out of the kitchen, leaving me alone with my thoughts again. I walked over to the fridge to see if there was any Pepsi to eat least quench my thirst while I tried to figure this stuff out.  I began to try to put everything that has happened together. I know just last night Clara and I were in my basement. Talking about graduation, and jobs and things then I went to bed. I did have a weird dream about her for the first time ever, but I’ve already tried pinching myself to wake me up and I’m still here so that didn’t work.

               The dream though. That was weird. There was a window above the sink where my Mom was washing dishes. As I was sitting at the table I became lost in what I could see out the window.  There really was nothing to see though. The leaves of an old oak tree that my Mom has been trying to get my dad to do something about for years. In her opinion it blocked her view of the neighborhood and said she just loves to watch people when she is doing dishes. Personally I think she has a crush on Mr. Grupp who moved in across the street last week. I saw him jogging the other day when I was on my way to work. Seemed like a typical jock to me who needed to be told to put his damn shirt back on.

               Enough of this thinking stuff, I need to go back downstairs and see what game I wanted to play on the SNES. Without giving it a second thought I went back down to my basement, and planned to do no thinking, and just chill on the nasty couch down there.

               As I walked downstairs and my basement came into view, I was secretly relieved. Like I said before, I know all these crazy time travel shows act like one small thing can change the world. Well my world seemed like it was still going just fine down here. It was time to pop in Super Punch Out and relax. As I reached the bottom step though I heard a shuffling behind me, underneath the basement steps. As I got down there, I turned around to see who was down there.

“Stevie,” The voice said, “We need to have a talk.”

Dad? My Dad was never down here. He stepped out from under the steps to where I could see him a little better in the light.

“Care to explain how you and Clara are now all the sudden an item?” he asked.

“Dad I don’t, “I stammered, “I don’t know what’s going on. You know what happened? How do you know?”

“Let’s talk,” He said and walked me over to the couch, “I know what’s going on because I’ve been there too.”

 

 

To be continued in Part III

Hurting A Little Less

ImageI walked alone in the snow tonight. The first snow of the year always does something magical to me. I feel like it wipes everything clean.  The world looks a little less tainted when it is under a fresh blanket of snow.  Looking up and seeing beautiful white flakes of soft snow fall from the heavens often brings a bit of romance to the world for those who aren’t so busy they can slow down their life just a little bit to appreciate it.

                Tonight I did just that.  When I started walking the first thing I could not stop thinking about was this silly thing called a love life. I’m older now, no longer a teenager, one would think that would make me smarter right?

                For those that may read this. My name is Michael. I am nothing special, I am getting close to my middle ages, I have been married, but that didn’t stick. Sometimes I run into my ex wife, we exchange words, both pleasant and not so pleasant. Seeing as how it’s the first snow, Thanksgiving just ended and the last time I saw her she showed me some photos of her Thanksgiving. We never had children so there is really no tie binding us together anymore. She has since moved on, met someone new and they had children of their own. She showed me pictures of their Thanksgiving. Her family, my old family all smiles, enjoying their time together.

                That love never lasted because back then I wasn’t a good person. I was bigger then. Going for walk anywhere at any time would never have happened, because I was too fat and lazy to let it happen. I hated myself, my life, and my wife. Why that good woman stayed with me as long as she did I will never know. I guess it’s good to see her happy, at the same time I guess it’s not.

                I continued to walk as the snow got deeper and the night got darker, more thoughts running through my mind, more regrets and hates hitting and hurting my heart. When the marriage was over I changed myself into a person no one would ever recognize as that same person. I think I did a very good job of it myself. I lost a lot of weight and I became a person that people honestly liked to have around.  I changed my outlook on life, started school to better myself and really honestly and truly felt good about myself. So why did I start doing what I did? I don’t know, I guess it made things hurt a little less. Sometimes that’s what people do you know? They do whatever it takes to get through life hurting a little less.

                After the marriage was over I think I wanted to find love again quickly. I had just started to fix myself, just started to lose the weight, just started to have a positive outlook on life. My friends introduced me to someone that seemed to be interested in me. We talked allot, we sat under the stars in front of a fire more nights than I can honestly remember. We had a good time, but we just didn’t fit right you know? No crime in that, some people just weren’t meant to be. Some people things just didn’t work out for.

                When I killed her, I slit her throat and burned her body underneath the stars.

                The next time I found a girl. I truly fell in love with her. To this day her picture runs through my mind and my heart skips a beat. I think about the few kisses we shared, the night we spent together and the smile she gave me as she flirted and teased me.

                Lindsey and I met at work.  It was one of the random jobs I have kept over the years to simply try and pay the rent.  The first time I saw her she was crying. Someone hurt her. You know that saying how every time you make the one you say you love cry, there is someone else wishing they could make them smile? Yeah that held true this time around. She was the most beautiful girl I had ever seen. Here she was right in front of me. Some idiot was dumb enough not to give this girl everything she ever wanted. People can be so stupid.  

                We didn’t talk that first day but one word was spoken. Every chance I could get I would steal a glance that afternoon. I was a cook at some backwater slop house of a restaurant and she was sitting at the counter. Our eyes only met once and only one word was said.

                “Smile,” I told her.

                She smiled at me for just  a second then her tears began to fall even more and she left.

                We worked together allot more after that. Our flirts becoming more and more, and meaning more and more each and every time. I fell in love with this girl long before the first time our lips touched. She seemed so sweet and innocent, she seemed so happy and pure. Without saying the old saying one too many times, she truly was the girl of my dreams.  Sometimes when she crosses my mind, I remember her eyes meeting mine every time we worked together. Her heart skipping the same beats that mine would skip. She was married though, so her and I could never be.

                Though it did finally happen. Just once.

                We were leaving work at the same time, I was walking to my car at one end of the parking lot she was going to hers. I said bye like I normally would to anyone and started to walk away.

                “Hey Michael,” she called to me as I then quickly turned around. She smiled so innocently, so nervously and then asked me, “Do you want to maybe hang out for a little bit before I go home?”

                I only smiled and waved her to my car. As we drove to my house we talked about her marriage and how things were going. He hit her the other night. Hit her because she had come home late. Her tears went from her cheeks to my passenger seat.

                Before I knew it we had got to my house, I went out back and started a fire. We sat by the fire talking about her life, my life, work, and everything in between.

                “You know I really like you,” she said from the other end of the swing.

                “Yeah, I kind of thought so,” I said, “But your married.”                 She frowned at that and simply said under her breath, “Yeah I am.” With that a few more tears streamed down her cheeks that I could barely see shimmer in the light of the fire.  IT was like second nature. We were closer now, we had become friends.

                As I slid over and put my arms around her to comfort her I whispered in her ear, “No one should have to cry alone Lindsey.”                 We sat there for awhile. Watching the stars in the summer sky. No longer talking much. No words being exchanged anyway. I think looking back words would only have ruined that moment.  Holding her, my arms around her, and her head on my chest, the moment was more than perfect.

                Before I knew it she had jumped up and taken my hand, “Let’s go for a swim,” she said and smiled.

                Next thing I knew her clothes were off and she was in my pool. I stood outside the pool just watching her. Marveling at her beauty in the moonlight. The way her tan skin reflected off the moonlight as she climbed out of the pool and jumped in again. The entire time I tried being a gentleman and not looking at her body, but not looking away just the same.

                She swam over time resting her head on the pool looking up at me she held her hand out to me, “Come swim with me, please.”

                I took her hand and she pulled me in. We swam playfully for no more than 10 minutes. I picked her up and carried her out of the pool next. Before I put her down our lips locked for just a minute.

                The rest of the night we kissed and cuddled laughed and loved. She stayed the night with me that night, though we didn’t make love. Something I should have done, something we both wanted. Though I just couldn’t bring myself to do that with someone whose heart was not mine.

                The next morning she told me she wanted to be with me, told me she was going to end things with her husband. Told me all she dreamed about was me. A year later she had left her husband for another man.

                I snapped her neck and threw her body in my pool.

                Did I give my heart away again? I almost did.  I kissed my best friend once when both of our hearts where lost and our bodies in the same place. We knew where it was going, we knew it would only hurt us both.

                I burned her body on my bed after stabbing her in the gut 7 times.

                There was one more who chased after me for so long. For so long she had tried and tried, and I just couldn’t let my heart in it. I couldn’t bring myself to open myself again. Then the perfect solution came up one day when I was at her house.

                “So,” Jamie said as she pulled me closer, “If I can’t have your heart, I at least want your body.”                 With that I was putty in her hands. We made love that night and continued  to basically be friends with benefits. It worked for us. It was partly what she wanted and it was all that I thought I required.

                Soon though, we both began to fall for each other. I would begin to stay at her place and we wouldn’t have sex. We would watch a movie, then cuddle up in her bed. I should have known then that it wasn’t going to end well. Whenever I let my heart get involved it never ended well for me.

                I denied for a month that I had any feelings for her. I told myself no, this is just what it is. I admitted I was starting to fall for her on a Tuesday, I lost her on a Wednesday.                 She wasn’t sure after all the times I had said no. She was now just as scared as I was.

                That Tuesday night while I lay in her bed I whispered in her ear, “Jamie,” she jumped, “I am starting to fall for you, maybe this could be something we have here.”

                She never answer, and as a matter of fact never told me anything about knowing anything I said that night at all.

                The next night her and I went out with our friends. I wanted to show her the gentleman I was and prove her to her that I was wanting more than just her body. I bought her meal, and her drinks all night. During dinner we all laughed and had a good time, we joked about how much fun we were going to have at the bars when we finished eating.

                Once at the bar, she danced with everyone but me. She met someone new. They exchanged numbers, and they spent the night together two nights later.

                I shot him in the face, her in heart and left their bodies in her bed.

                I did all these things tonight as I walked through the snow.  Some way somehow I had to make them all pay for the hurt they had given me. I was the fool who opened myself up time and time again, even when I swore I would not.

                Stupid Michael.

                Now I sit here alone in my room, the lights are off and a familiar song is on the radio, talking about being ready to love again. When you are hurt time and time again, how can you ever be ready to love again? How do you let yourself be secure enough to open yourself up again?  Isn’t it easier to stay alone? Doesn’t it hurt a little less being alone than letting yourself be hurt time and time again?                 I suppose this man will never know. I imagine soon enough the police will find me. They won’t find me. Just my body. Once I finish this note.

                I guess I’ll never know how this ends. The way it ends for me is with this note. I say goodbye and good luck to those who are brave enough to open up. Maybe I would have learned, maybe I would have found the love I needed.

Maybe.

For this guy though, I did what I did to make it all hurt a little less. I now say goodbye to you and this world. My body will be found next to the one I truly opened myself up to. The one I was married to lies behind me.

                I ran her over with my car. I shot her baby in the heart and beat her husband to death.

                I did all of that to make this all hurt a little less.

 

                                                                                                -Michael

To Late

                Throughout our entire lives we had been best friends no matter what had come between us.  I remember the first time I realized I even had a best friend. I skinned my knee by falling off of my bike when I was 13 years old. Just around the age when I started looking at girls a little more than just a friend. Just when I started to notice how some girls had really pretty eyes, and others tended to look at me just a little bit longer. Not Jerry though, she was always my friend and I never really wanted anything more. Though the reason I fell that day was because I was looking at a girl. The prettiest girl in our class. Emma Carbobiak. Terrible last name I know, but she had long blonde hair and amazing green eyes. I was most definitely looking her a little bit longer every time I saw her. A little longer than I should have that time I must admit.

                I turned the corner just looking at her as she was walking on the sidewalk and bam just slid off my bike and onto the ground. Jerry ran over to Emma and started talking to her the minute I fell. Why on earth would she do that you ask? She made sure to distract Emma long enough for me to get back on my bike and pretend like nothing happened. That’s when I knew I had a best friend. I never really doubted it again until very recently. It’s very hard to imagine the little red headed girl who distracted Emma is the same girl I know today.

                My mom was in an accident recently. She was leaving work one night, she was working 2nd shift at the time, and they were working extended hours so she didn’t get off work that night until three in the morning. The factory she was working at, the parking lot is across from the actually building. She was always the last to leave because she always took so much stuff to work with her and it just took her that long to walk. While crossing the street she was hit by a drunk driver. I say that and not what the papers say because I know damn well he was drinking.

                They didn’t run away like most drunk drivers do. They stuck around. They managed to get out of it by saying that he wasn’t driving. Fred Manginy was his name. I’ll never forget it. Bastard took a lot away from me. His girlfriend said she was driving. Granted she still got in trouble. They were able to pull it off as an accident because of the supposed under light street.

                My mother has been in the hospital ever since. She apparently had a stroke due to the accident. Her body was not harmed to much she only suffered mild bodily injuries. She was in a coma for the longest time and only recently woke up from it. Ever since then she has been very slow to recover. Sometimes she doesn’t know who I am. Sometimes she doesn’t know who anyone are. It’s a long process.

                Jerry who was always close with my mother never once made it up to the hospital. Her boyfriend of 5 years had recently broke up with her and she just couldn’t find the time to be my friend anymore. I did what I could to try and keep our friendship together, but after a while there were just more important things in life. I decided I should be there for my mother instead of trying to figure out why Jerry no longer wanted to be my friend.

                I remember one Saturday morning specifically. Very specifically. It turned out being a very sad and important day in all of our lives.

                “Owen,” I heard my mom whisper.

                She had hardly ever spoken and it had been so clear and coherent. She knew exactly who I was and seemed to know exactly what was going on.

                “Owen, where’s Jerry?” she asked me her voice seemingly amazing clear.

                I told her, “Jerry couldn’t make it up here today Mom. She has a lot going on and she had to work later today and wanted to make sure she made it on time. She’s been praying for you though Mom.”

                “She’s never come to see me,” she said matter of factly.

                She knew.

                “I,” I began and paused, “I don’t know what to say mom, she’s been going through a rough time, but she is worried about you, we all are.”

                “You should make up with her,” she looked over at me with tears in her eyes as she told me this.

 

                “I will Mom,” I promised her, “I swear I will, she will come up to see you with me later tonight.”

                She smiled, “Good, I’d like to see her.”

                She rolled over and went back to sleep.

                I kissed her on the forehead and left the hospital. On my way out I called Jerry and to my surprise she answered.

                “Jerry,” I began as calmly as I possibly could, “Look I just need you to listen to me, I know you are going through a lot, and I know it’s hard for you to make time to come up here, but my Mom spoke today and she was asking about you. She knows you haven’t been up here to see, I don’t know how but she knows. Just please try and make time to come up here tonight. I’ll go with you. Or not if you would rather it be that way. Just please.”

                “Owen, I have a date tonight, I’ve got to go,” was all she said.

                Three a.m. that night my phone rings and Jerrys name pops up on the caller Id.

                “Jerry, it’s late it’s,” was all I could get out before I heard a loud crash and then silence.

                I stayed on the line, not knowing exactly what was going on. I yelled her name into the phone over and over again. Probably a hundred times, before I heard his voice again. I would never forget his voice.

                “Shit,” he screamed, “we have to get out of here Steven she’s dead man, she’s gone!”

                Fred Manginy.

                I ran to put on my clothes and go see what I could find out. I had to tell the police, I had to do something. That son of a bitch had killed her. He wasn’t going to get away with it this time. I knew he was drunk. I knew it.

                My heart sank when my phone rang again and I saw my Dads name pop up on the caller id.

                Through his tears I made out what he was trying to say.

                “Your mother,”he cried, “She passed about an hour ago, they don’t know exactly why, but she’s gone Owen. She’s gone.”

                I lay back down on my bed and cried. I haven’t been able to cry since my mother had her accident. I tried so very hard. I cried that night. I don’t think I have ever stopped.

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My Christmas Tree

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Three things to notice and three things to see. It’s easy to come home after a bad day and notice the things wrong with your home. I was able to see the fake(?) angel looking directly at me and where I work, and where I write. I was able to see the fact that the little angel made by my wife when she was much much younger, showing me words that would otherwise be blind to me. Joy. There is also a bulb about 3/4 of the way to the top, see through with fake snow and nothing else. No children building snowmen, and no lovers standing side by side as they kiss under the mistletoe. Just, Nothing.

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I give you a work of fiction based on the 3 things I noticed on my tree this evening.

The month of December can be so many things to so many different people The TV, radio, and even the internet would have you believe the world is happy and every child that deserves to have a good Christmas will have a good Christmas. Other than when you first put up your Christmas tree as adults do we ever really pay attention to it.  Maybe.

As a father though I think the majority of us would agree the tree is simply, in the way after we put it up with our children making a big deal out of the memories that we are making. I pride myself as a good father and even I must admit that I seldom looked at this thing my children look up to so much. I look at the Christmas tree and I find myself sad because I did not get the promotion I felt I so deserved at work to give my children a good Christmas. I see the emptiness underneath the tree and fear that on Christmas morning when my children wake up they will see the same thing; an empty Christmas Tree.

Joy is what I see this evening though. I am inspired by the fact that when I am at my worst, and almost in tears because of the terror that has quickly become my life, someone, somewhere is shining Joy in my face.

When your day begins with waking up at the butt crack of 2 pm, and it ends with a screaming match with your boss in whom he is literally lying to your face, and to his boss’s face, in the middle of an argument that you simply cannot win. The Joy is in just phasing out of the moment.

The ability to close your eyes as your boss screams at you, seeing his red face flaring up while his gut bounces up and down  over his belt line and down lower and lower as he fumes and fumes at you, and then open your eyes and see something completely different.

The Joy is in seeing the clown without his make-up. His red face is gone and you see the silly face paint with the eye make up behind his silly little grin. The red face paint over his lips and into a smile as he juggles lie after lie in a simple web that he creates every time he opens his mouth. The flower on his shirt is a perfect euphemism of himself. From afar it looks like nothing more than a flower on your shirt that is supposed to be there as you try to take away from the fact that you are a divorced far man who has no joy left in life. From afar though, all you see is the sun flower this silly man puts on his shirt.

Close up though we all know what happens. It’s the same trick a piranha does to capture its prey. As you look closer and closer to see what something so simply could possibly be doing. Sitting there day after day, the only way to survive is in fact some idiot fly coming close enough to you, so you can snatch it right up and make it your lunch. You see that right there? Giving Joy to the lifeless soulless man that somehow managed to be your boss. Some idiot keeps getting close enough to captured and destroyed, when all he has to do is sit his fat ass in his chair…and wait.

All these thoughts are quickly quelled when I stop a moment and see the angel looking back at me. Looking down at me. Let’s all  be honest and admit whether it is because someone is taller than you, or your boss, or just happens to be on the upward incline of a hill, when someone is looking down on you it can be rather intimidating. A paper Wal-Mart bought Angel should not be intimidating though.

Considering what I was able to do after my boss left work tonight though, and get away with I have to feel a little guilty about. To truly have revenge on someone after they have so blatantly and honestly screwed you over to where it hurt you professionally and personally is absolutely something to have Joy over. The fact that a tiny Angel somehow found her (it seems when we are judged it is by women is it not?) way to be peering down at me the exact moment that I finally found a second to sit and be at peace with myself. The crimes are done when the Angels are looking so why would I not find a way to sit and be at peace when they are looking as well? The only reason one can honestly find is emptiness.

The emptiness of a bulb on a Christmas tree is what is to await me when I decide to look the angel in the eye to answer for what I have done. There will be no emptiness under the tree for my boys on Christmas morning because I will have found a way to cheat, steal, and lie my way into giving them the Christmas that they deserved.

When given 3 words to share it is hard not to bring up the crazy things I did for Joy. I was able to do what needed to be done when justice simply was not only blind but completely absent. The angels watched and I beat that man again and again. I mean let’s be honest it is very easy to beat a man who tries to juggle with your life. The things he throws in the air are nothing but toys to him, but as I see them being juggled and juggled some more, I see my hopes, dreams and children’s financial stability being tossed in a circle like they are ping pong balls.

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Just A Kiss

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They had never kissed before. Friends from the day they met. Never a question about whether there could be more than that. It was just what it was. They had been through a lot in their separate lives together. Both having cheated and cheated on. Both feeling like the world owed them nothing and they deserved just the same. Kandice and Jacob were their names. Though they didn’t know it, they wouldn’t have gotten through so many things if they hadn’t met each other.

They came into each others lives after both having their heart crushed by another. He was a lost cause who wanted nothing to do with anyone or anything. She was just looking for someone to love her. After many nights of talking on the phone, texting, and seeing each other here and there for lunch or coffee they started hanging out. It wasn’t weird or strange as it so often was when a guy and a girl first start hanging out. It was what it was. Two lost people hanging on to one another when they needed someone to help them get through the hard times. Never anything romantic, never anything more than what you saw. Friends. Deep down neither of them ever had a thing for the other. Never thought twice about anything like that, they were just two lost people helping one another.
They watched each other going from person to person. Thinking they were in love with this new guy or this new girl. Thinking each and every time that their luck had changed. Each and every time though, they would both be hurt and alone. Neither of them ever seemed to win. Never seemed to find what they were looking for.
One year to the day after they had first met Kandice saw him one day, and saw him a little differently. She was currently seeing one of those guys that she knew wasn’t right for her, yet couldn’t help it. Jacob had just been dumped by the same girl for a 3rd or 4th time, and she saw he was really down. She was always bother when he was down. Was always upset at the person who was making him down but this time she couldn’t fight this feeling in the back of her mind that she could be that person to not make him cry anymore. 
They spent the day together like they so often do when one of them has to deal with heart ache . He never said much but as always she made him feel better. They went out to eat, walked through downtown, and as always as just friends.
He was getting into bed that night when his phone rang. 
“Hey Kandice, what’s up,” he said.
There was silence for a long time. Jacob had just figured her and her guy had split up and she needed to stop crying before she could talk, so he waited. Almost five minutes he waited.
“Jacob,” she finally said, “I’m coming over and I want to kiss you. Michael and I are no longer together. I want to see you, I want to kiss you. Just one time. Just one kiss”
Jacob sat there for a minute or two and said nothing. He had never thought about Kandice like that. He didn’t know what was going on. He also knew, he wanted to kiss her as well. “Ok,” was all he said.
She hung up and drove on over to his house.
As so many nights they had spent together as friends had began, before she arrived he had started a bonfire out back, and turned on the radio. He sat there on the swing waiting for her, getting more and more nervous as the minutes passed.
She pulled up her hands sweating. A million things running through her mind, like what if he didn’t want her to, what if it was weird, what if it ruined their friendship. Most importantly though. What if she didn’t do it.
She walked to the back yard without thinking, saw him sitting their by the fire light, smiled at him and ran to him. Later on looking back, she wondered why she had started to run, all she could think of was that she didn’t want to change her mind, she didn’t want to talk herself out of it. 
He stood up before she got there, and when she did, she took her hands and place them on his cheeks and pulled his lips close to hers and they kissed. It wasn’t awkward, and it wasn’t weird. It wasn’t that big epic kiss you read about that hopeless romantics often dream about either. It was what it was. It was right.
Before either of them could say anything. Before they could both express to the other how amazing it was. She turned right around again, and left. She came all this way for one thing and she got it. It felt amazing. It felt right.
They had started out as friends so long ago. Both had their hearts broken so many times before they met one another. Had it broken just as many times since they had met. It all led up to this one moment. Where she drove all that way for just a kiss.

Holding On

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Anyone who has lost someone they were close to can tell you there are certain tricks to help you get through those sleepless nights. Losing a wife or husband or boyfriend or girlfriend that you live with can sometimes be the worst. Because then you have to deal with all the memories and things that you shared in the place that you live. You have to learn how to see the things that you shared every day and deal with them. Like I said though there are certain things you can do to make it easier. Some people go as far as to throw away everything they had together away. For some people that is the best thing to do. Others are perfectly fine until it’s time to go to sleep. They are restless, to hot, to cold, can never get comfortable. Worst of all they are rolling over to put their arms around someone that just isn’t there anymore. They learn a trick. I’ve done it, hell a lot of people have done it. The pillow trick. Soon enough though they to realize that all this is, is holding onto something that is no longer there. This is the story of one such person. Who just never learned to stop holding onto something thatwas no longer there.
He loved her with all his heart he thought. His name was Mark. Every day he thanked god that he was lucky enough to find a woman like this. Her name was Isabelle. Ever since the day they met they had been absolutely wonderful together in his eyes. In his eyes, she took care of him while he was sick, she was there for him when he needed held, she said all the things he ever needed to be said to him. In his eyes she was perfect. Young, beautiful, caring, and compassionate, those were all the things he though he loved about her. They way she held his face when they kissed, the way she rubbed his back after a long day at work. He thought she was perfect.
In Reality though, she was cheating on him every chance she got. Lying to him about almost everything one could lie about, and she never did anything for him. It made her feel better to do the things she did for him. Made her not feel so guilty about the life she was truly living. Everything Isabelle ever did was for herself. 
Finally one day she met someone she liked enough to leave him for. So she did. She slept with him on a Tuesday, and for once Mark thought she might be cheating on him. She knew he would eventually find out. On that Wednesday night she tried making herself feel better by staying up all night with Mark and talking to him about how much she loved him, and only wanted him, and how she would never cheat on him. Knowing full well that in the morning she would leave him, and never come back. They did make love that morning for the last time. He felt she was different though, he knew something was wrong but he didn’t care, he was making love with the woman that he thought he truly loved. They fell asleep in each others arms that morning for the last time. For when Mark woke up she was gone.
He spent the next few months doing things he is not proud of. Every time he drove by a tree, he came within seconds of deciding not to run into the tree and end his life. He hid from everyone in his life and wouldn’t give his heart to anyone. Eventually he learned to be a better person. He lost a lot of weight and really became a great guy. He had this one friend in Texas who helped him through everything he had been through. She was there for him to give him ideas on how to win this girl back, and was there to tell him what an idiot he was for still fighting, for holding onto something that wasn’t there. He honestly never would have made it through all of that without her. She was the only one he could talk to about a lot of his problems. She was the only one that really listened. He truly began to think of her as his best friend. 
Months and months later when he accepted that he was alone, and even began to love the fact that he was alone he finally met someone. It was the kind of thing that came out of left field. She wasn’t anyone he ever pictured himself with, and she wasn’t someone that he ever thought would really want to go out with him. Somewhere along the line though she had decided that he seemed like a nice guy and really wanted to get to know him more. He put up all the walls he could think to put up, tried talking himself out of spending time with her and getting to know her. Eventually though, he just couldn’t say no to her. Her name was Ashley. 
They went out a few times and they clicked almost perfectly together. They had the same beliefs on a lot of issues the other thought was important. Neither of them smoked, neither believed in abortion. They had all the makings for a perfect couple. The first time they kissed was probably one of the most bumbling kisses that had ever occurred in history because they were both so nervous. They both took the others breathe away and that is a rare thing to occur indeed. 
She was also fresh out of a serious relationship and very scared about giving her heart to anyone. They made love one night by the campfire. Nothing between them but the wind, and nothing above them but the gorgeous summer night. They laid on that bench swinging back and forth naked in each others arms. Something neither of them could have ever done without the other. Somehow through all that made them both nervous about each other, they found something comforting in the other. 
She got scared. She knew there was something with this guy. She knew every day that went by he was breaking down her walls she had just so recently put up, and she wasn’t ready for that. She ended things with him the next day. She wasn’t the type to sleep around, she wasn’t the type to fall for a guy so easily. She just wasn’t ready. Part of her heart was still with the ex boyfriend in her life. She knew that when she kissed Mark. As amazing as it was, it just wasn’t right for her she didn’t think.
When she broke up with him he said nothing, he knew it was coming and knew the reasons, and thought it was foolish to even fight it. The only thing he said to her was “You are holding onto something that just isn’t there.”
The next few days Mark was dealing with it very well, wasn’t to down or upset. I mean honestly, they were only together for a very brief time. In that brief time however, deep down he knew that she was someone he could love. The way she tore down his barriers so quickly, the way they laughed and joked, it was something straight out of a movie. He was amazed out how quickly he had become so comfortably in just having his arms around her. Granted she obviously didn’t feel the same, he thought about these things, and just wished she would stop holding onto something that just wasn’t there.
Ashley however, spent her next few days deciding what to do with her life. She couldn’t help but miss the ex in her life more than she would care to admit. She wasn’t sure if she should go after him or let him go. For he was leaving town soon enough, and she would never have a chance to see him again. In the end is what fate that decided that for her though. She ran into Mark one day, and he took her breath away. He didn’t see her, was just walking out of his apartment building and going down the road. She saw him though. Immediately, she knew what she had to do.
She went to his house the very same night. She told him she wanted to try again. She told him she had made a mistake. Mark gave in immediately, hoping beyond hope that she had truly let go. 
They both got into their own cars, and made plans to meet down the road at a little coffee shop and talk, and start all over again. They were stopped at a red light, him at the front of the line and her in 2nd, he glanced in his rearview mirror and saw the smile on her face and he absolutely loved it. It lit up his day. He thought, maybe she really has let go, maybe this could work.
As the light turned green he took his time, in no hurry to get anywhere. When he got to the middle of the intersection he heard a honk, a loud crashing sound, then there was so much pain. Soon after that he was out.
She saw all this but could do nothing. She saw the semi going to fast, heading towards him. She knew he didn’t see it, there was nothing she could do. She couldn’t even honk her horn. The semi honked, and crashed into his car. His car bent like it was made out of butter. She ran out of her car and ran to him but he was out. He was breathing but he wasn’t conscious. She heard someone in the crowd that was forming say they had already called 911 so she stayed with him. Hoping and praying he would be ok.
He woke up in the hospital sometime later. He remembered what had happened, and he honestly felt pretty good. He glanced over and saw her sleeping in the velvet green chair that sat in the corner of his room. He could see the light flicker off the tears that were still fresh in her eyes.
He called for her and she quickly woke up and ran to his side. She said nothing at first, just kissed him. Kissed him like there was no tomorrow, for all she knew there wasn’t. He smiled back at her thinking that it was going to be ok. 
As she hugged him on his bed he whispered one thing, he said, “You know I’m falling in love with you right? I have been for awhile now, I just wished that you weren’t holding onto something that wasn’t there.”
She said back to him, “I’m not anymore, I won’t ever again, I should have known with the way we clicked, with the way everything was so magical and perfect those nights we had together were. I should have known sooner Mark, I know I should have. But, I’m not holding onto anything that isn’t there anymore,” tears formed in her eyes, “I want to hold on to you Mark.”
Soon after that he fell asleep. The doctors and nurses all told her that he was going to be alright and he would be going home soon. She took that as a good sign to get some sleep.
When she awoke a few hours later, she woke up to an empty room. Mark was no longer there. She woke quickly and went into the hallway to find someone to ask them what was going on. She grabbed a nurse by the shoulders and demanded that she tell him.
The nurse just laughed and said, “Oh well he’s fine young lady, he just went for a walk, he didn’t want to wake you, he should be just down that hall, he only left but a minute ago.”

She felt stupid for thinking the worst, and walked down the hall to finish his walk with him. There she found him on his back. She ran to him again, and for the last time. She screamed for nurses to come help but she knew it was probably to late. He was already gone. His life was over. She laid there holding him on that cold hospital floor for hours before she finally let go of what was there. She let go of him with all the regret in the world. She let go of someone she knew she could love. She just wished she would have let go of what wasn’t there sooner so she could have had something with him, it could have been different. It could have been better. He could have been here today…

Worse Than This

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I drove in the middle of the night. No one knew where I was, and no one knew where I was going. All my friends, my family, my loved ones, they would all be asleep before I even left the house. I had a lot to think about, I had a lot to deal with. Really, I had nothing at all.

Tonight was the 12th night in the row I felt drunk. The 12th night in a row, I drank a beer, and then took a shot, and then 2 more beers and 2 more shots. It was beginning to be my nightly ritual. It usually knocked me out cold. Helped me get through the nights that I so often dreaded. Tonight though it didn’t seem to be the poison I needed.

So I drove. Knowing full well I shouldn’t, but I could not stand to be in our house alone anymore. I had lived there 2 years on my own. My wife had left me so long ago, it seemed like an entirely different lifetime. She has since found someone else, found a new family, had a new baby, and started a new life. 

While I myself have done nothing. No loved one to really speak of. No girlfriend, no one that looks at me and says wow he is cute as hell. Nothing. There was one, then another, and another. Only one since my wife has made me fall. I fell so hard for her so long ago, I still have not been able to completely recover.

I thought of her as I pulled out of the driveway. The way her face turned red when I looked at her. The way she always told me things she knew she shouldn’t. The way her entire face lit up when she smiled at me. When she smiled at anyone. I remembered her touch from so long ago. Her hands running across my head as we kissed. 

That was another life. That was not someone I could ever be with again. 

I turned the corner not really knowing where I was going. I drove past the lakes and the reservoir. Past more MCdonalds than I cared to count. Before I knew it was out of town and alone. I still felt the buzz but I knew I could drive. I knew I shouldn’t be out here alone. The friend I always counted on was not around anymore. I couldn’t call her. She wouldn’t be there to save my life again. 

I turned around as quickly as I could and headed for my house. I was speeding but I didn’t care. I didn’t see a single cop on my way out there and I had to get home, being out here alone was driving me crazy. To many thoughts running through my head to many random things I was thinking that I…

BOOM

I hit something and slammed on the breaks as fast as I could. I was swerving on and off the road, until finally into a tree I smashed head first. It didn’t take me more than a couple minutes to calm myself down. There wasn’t a scratch on me.

I got out of the car cussing and screaming at whatever animal I happened to hit. I didn’t know what the heck it could have been. It was 3 in the morning and I was in town. Whatever it was it seemed big. There it was.

Lying lifeless on the side of the road his Bakugan shirt torn to shreds as he had skidded across the pavement. Somehow I had ended up in front of my ex wifes house in my path to get home in a hurry. Somehow I had killed my own son.

I later learned they were playing a game in their house. My son thought it would be funny to run across the street and hide in a trashcan. He never made it. I had made sure of that.

Now here I sit alone in my cell. The city thinks they are punishing me. Keeping me in here by myself. They could never do anything to me. I killed my own son, I deserve much worse than this..

Fate

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Three days later. Nothing. He had drank coffee every morning for those next 3 days out of the very can I poisoned and nothing happened. So much for the movies right?

Time for the second try. My boyfriend was kind of the mechanical expert. So we cut the brakes to his truck while he slept one night. It took no more than 10 minutes and afterwards just to spite him for not leaving my house we made love in the bed of his truck. It was fantastic, under the stars in the summer heat. 

A week went by and he never drove anywhere. 

The next several weeks I tried everything I could think of. Accidentally pushing the T.V. on him. Leaving the kitchen floor greasy with knives strewn all about. Had a toaster in the shower plugged in. Nothing worked. Though he never seemed to realize what I was doing.

I came home that last night I didn’t care. I was going to shoot him and end it all. It could easily be blamed on a burglar. I would throw the gun in the pool out back. No one is going to think it would be me. His own wife. Hell no one knew we were getting a divorce and that I was allready seeing someone else. SO there would be no motive.

I came home late that night. I was with my fella. It was a great night. I knew when I pulled in the driveway I could do this and have no regrets. I knew this. 

It was Five in the morning. There was no reason he would be awake. I turned the key and opened the door. I headed straight to the bedroom without even pausing gun in hand. He wasn’t there. I walked back outside to double check that his truck was there. In my hurry I didn’t even think to check.
It was there.

I put the gun away and run back into the house. Frantic. Where could he possibly be at this hour. I pour myself some orange juice with some Vodka in it to calm my nerves. I had to calm down. Why I was so frantic all of the sudden I didn’t know. 

I walked into the living room glass in hand and stopped dead in my tracks. Someone was there. I could barely make them out in the early morning light coming in through the windows. I called his name but no answer, and no movement. I used my free hand to turn on the light switch.

The Glass fell from my hands and crashed to the floor shattering all over the place. You know how in movies that moment happens in slow motion to increase dramatic affect? Well it doesn’t work that way in real life. Time went so fast. The glass crashing on the floor seemed to happen the minute the lights turned on. 

There he was. Dangling lifelessly from the ceiling fan. THere was a note attached to his chest that simply read “Goodbye my love, Goodbye my life.”

I ran to the kitchen and made myself another drink. That same glass sits in front of me now. I’m going to leave. I’m going to let the police find his body and this note. I’ll be long gone by then. I drove him to this. I drove him to kill himself. What was I thinking. I was a fool, I truely did love him. I just had to fish his keys out of his pocket. I’m going to have to take his truck, because I let “the other man” take my car so it would look like I was robbed and they took the car. It’s better this way anyway, his truck will get me farther. I kissed him goodbye, drank one more drink, finished my note. and now I’m leaving……I don’t deserve to be here anymore.

Helpless

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I got the phone call late. It was a Thursday night; Friday morning maybe, I don’t know what you would call it. I just remember the look on her face when I got there. You know the term soul mates? You know that couple that you look at when you are at the mall and you hate them because they are so touchy, and kissy, and all of that other crap? Yep, that was probably us. The couple that was so damn happy nothing could separate us. Who knew a simple 20 feet could stop us.

The love story probably isn’t something you want to hear. I’m sure you have seen it all before in the countless movies that Hollywood is so intent on shoving down our throats. Boy meets girl, boy likes girl, and soon they fall in love. That is usually the part in the movie in which the boy loses girl though right? Then he does some off the wall crazy thing and they live happily ever after. Not this time, not this story.

We never really fought too often. It seemed we truly were meant to be. Somehow we managed to both blend so naturally into each other’s lives. My family loved her, just as hers loved me. Throughout our time together she was able to find out who her true friends were. Some of them turned from her in the short year in which we were together.

One of her friends, one she said she always loved like a sister, turned from her when the cancer first hit her. 25 years old and she had cancer. 25. Tell me how that is fair? Tell me how it is fair that one of the best people on earth should die at such a young age. Those are some of the questions I asked myself every day. Asking, why God would do this to her, what good could possibly come from something like this. As soon as her friend, the one she called a sister, found out she was sick, she walked away, she found new amazing friendships in her older friends. Ones that weren’t so . . . complicated I supposed.

We were only together about a year when the cancer hit her. She was bed ridden for the longest time. Her life seemed to be fading away faster than anything I had ever seen before. It all made sense though, she was suddenly weaker, tired all of the time, she couldn’t concentrate. There was nothing I could do. Nothing anyone could do. The doctors gave her just another year.

I stuck with her the entire time. We were that happy couples damn it. We were. We would be for as long as I could help it. It was so hard though. At times I wanted to walk away. At times I wanted the old her back.

She got better.

6 months later she just . . . got better. The cancer was gone, and things got back to normal. We were back to going to the drive-in. We were back to doing all of the things we always had done, as well as talk about the future. I remember one time she joked and told me she didn’t want to always be my girlfriend. We were in love after all, the one thing people truly in love always want . . . is simple. They want more.

Two years after our first kiss, I proposed marriage and we were engaged. All our dreams were coming true. She had her very own 2nd grade classroom, and I just got promoted at the factory. Then one night when I was at work, I got the call. 2 Am.

I left work, in a hurry, not waiting for my replacement to get there. She called and through hoarse breathes I heard here say, “Honey, please, get her our spot. I’m falling.”

I didn’t care if it was a joke or not. I thought maybe this was just her way of getting me to the spot. She had been complaining we don’t get to see much of eachother lately because of my work. As I drove I called her over and over again. Leaving voicemail after voicemail. Telling her this better not be a joke.

It wasn’t.

There is this spot in town, a lot of you may not know about. It’s on a cliff overlooking our small little town. There’s a gap in between 2 sides of the cliff about 20 feet or so. Our spot was kind of on each side honestly. The west side was where we first told each other we Loved the other, and the other spot was where I cried all night on her shoulder when my mother died.

I arrived at the west side and looked over. There she was.

“Sabrina,” I yelled, “don’t move, I’ll be right there.”

Through her tears I heard her yell, “There’s no time, I can’t feel my arms.”

“NO!” I yelled.

“I love you Mark,” she yelled as she turned her head to look at me, “I love you with my whole heart.”

I stood there, because I saw her fingers slipping. I saw her slowly letting go. I knew she couldn’t hold on long enough for me to get there to pull her up. I remember thinking what the hell was she doing up here anyway at 2 in the morning.

I watched helpless as her fingers started to slip. She started to let go. I was helpless.

She was helpless.