A scary story


This piece is a product of a prompt from my "Writer Wednesdays" group I started last year on this blog (should we start that up again? I'm strongly debating it). It remains one of my favorite pieces that I've written, and it's superbly creepy and dark, which is right up my alley. I'm at my best when I write dark and twisty. Enjoy, and try not to think of me as a serial killer in your sleep tonight. Happy Halloween!

Do you have secrets?

I mean the kind that come from the deepest part of you. The darkest. dank. infested. The place in your soul that you turn into on those cold midnights sitting at your kitchen table under a swinging, single light bulb, hanging, alone in yourself. The secrets are so hidden by heavy darkness that even the light bulb falters. Struggles for air. Kicks its legs and fights for life. Dying. Like your heart. Suffocated. Struggling like a candle in a lidded jar. Suffocating like  someone dragged down to the dregs of an ocean by the heavy gravity hooked to his ankles. Frantic. Dying

Everyone has secrets. Everyone has a dark secret that they shield from the world, curled into their gut to hide it from the blinding light.

Mine just happens to be this.

Just this:

I kill people. Those beautiful people walking around above us.

I have to. But I don't relish it. At least I pretend not to.

And maybe you are judging me. But.

Have you lived in a house where the air shatters with silence? Have you hidden between your pride and the couch to keep from being sliced by words? And punched by looks? and kicked mercilessly with indifference? Have you lived in fear of the night because of what it brings?

Have you?

It's no

but there it is. I am what I am. I have been made into what I am, just as you have.

Walk a mile
in someone's shoes, can you?

And while we're on the subject of walking...I do walk. I walk everywhere. I like feeling the air blow through my riddled brain, blowing snatches and bits of the things I have seen and done-- the things I relish-- out into the open air. I see them spiral out of my brain, through my ears, stream out of my mouth in a shivering whisper of insanity and hilarity and need. They leave me. They bleed out into the ink-filled night. Life extinguished, slowly, slowly bleeding, shuddering, and then quiet. Gone. 

And they are not my problem anymore. they leave me, the pictures. They leave me and I can think like what I imagine is normal. I can think about the bright winking of the stars and how long they have been alive; how many people like me they have seen shiver and slink in the shadows beneath them. 

So I walk.
and walk.
and walk.
and I forget while I walk.

But when I'm not walking, I'm doing my secret unmentionable, hidden guilty need in the dark. 
And I watch.

I carry on in my life, watching you from my vantage point. Acting normal. You'd never know it if you passed me in the grocery store. But I see it. 

I see the boy shuffling his feet by the magazine stand, a boy with his eyes down and his sleeves pulled across his ripped wrists, hiding his shame and hurt and lonely heart in the jagged lines and blood beneath his skin. I see me in him.

I see the mom buying a candy bar for the whiney brat glued to her side. She gives him a kiss on the cheek. But I know what she does at night when no one is looking. She thinks her secret is hidden. But I feel it. I feel the darkness seeping from her skin. I see it lying there, waiting under the shiny brightness that encases her smile. And in the darkness, the shiny brightness is stripped away, and nothing is left but the darkness.

I see the husband kissing his wife in the baking aisle as she turns away her purple and black ribs towards the sugar and chocolate chips. I feel the darkness of that husband as he goes home to force the love and feeling from her unwilling body. mean. hateful. The abuse like a bruise, swelling, an angry welting purplish black, like his eyes. Dr. Jekyll in the baking aisle, Hyde at home.

We all have a case of Jekyll and Hyde. Our dark side wants to Hyde. HA! isn't that a funny coincidence? our Hyde wants to Hide. ha ha ha.

I feel the darkness in the beautiful people, rushing around in the brightness, hiding in plain sight in the blinding light. I feel it in you. I see. The darkness is our kinship. My darkness reaches its long fingers, probing for your darkness, sensing and enveloping and relishing in the sameness. the connection is welcome. comforting and real. You and me, we are the same, in the darkness.

So that's it. 
I watch.
I walk.
I do.

And I wait for that reckoning. Because I know it's coming. For you too.

Because of our secrets.

It has to.




a perfect fall day


Sometimes you get lucky enough to have a perfect, quintessential day.

The other day was just that.

Multiple times a week, cooped up kids and harried moms hear the strains of playing outside, and wander out from their respective apartments onto the joint compound at Winston Court, affectionately known as the Toy Graveyard, and gather together to have sane adult conversations while the kids burn up all the energy that was making us crazy 10 minutes earlier. Sometimes we congregate by the swings that are always being fought over. Other times we sit on concrete steps of a building and hand out shovels and snacks and wipe noses and referee squabbles like it's our job (it is).  If it hasn't been raining we'll sit in the grass with backs to a mossy tree, dusting off the occasional mosquito and picking at dead leaves on the ground, talking about inconsequential things like parenting and the arrival times of husbands on the bus, or our lack of dinner plans or how much we like pizza and what antics our kids are up to that day. 

It's relaxing and full of camaraderie. Something as simple as sitting in damp grass chatting about nothing and everything while our kids get filthy dirty playing in rocks and splashing in mud puddles makes me feel closer to my friends then a lot of things do. We usually stay out as long as we can, only darkness or hunger or returning husbands can get us back inside, but sometimes even those don't work. We delay the inevitable boredom that being trapped in a small apartment with prison windows brings. 

On this particular day when the witching hour was hitting its peak and I was wondering how I'd get through the rest of the day, I heard that tell tale sound of laughter outside, looked out my window and saw our good friends playing in the fallen leaves and digging in the gravel on the road. I hurried to get kids dressed and feet shod and we trudged out into the crisp autumn air. 

Viv saw her friends Stu and Graham across the way and called to them like she usually does "Mom! Stu and Daham! Let's do it!", so we crossed the street and joined them in their leaf-piling endeavors. They were slowly filling a small ditch in the ground with dead leaves, and by the time we got there, the pit was pretty full and a prime spot for jumping.  Per usual, my friend and I sat in the grass nearby and let our kids do their thing while we took a break from little mouths talking nonsense 24/7. 

Inevitably, the leaf piling turned into leaf throwing, and a war ensued with much giggling and leaf bombing. I've never seen kids so happy as they were when they ran down the hill, jumped into the big pile, getting tangled up with each other and throwing big armfuls of leaves into each others faces. 


And, like it always does, the sound of fun being had floats through open windows and kids come out in droves, joining and adding to the chaos. Soon we had more friends join us, and Dale got home early. He's never one to leave something alone if he thinks it can be better, so he grabbed a big shovel from a nearby porch and started shoveling all the leaves off of the hill and into the pit, resulting in a humongous pile of with enough insulation to keep them from ever hitting the bottom. 

Dale used the shovel to throw huge amounts of leaves in the air, and they scattered around the dancing kids, getting stuck on clothes and faces and entwined in wild hair while they giggled in hilarity as leaves chased them.

There were so many smiles and so much laughter that day. No fighting, no problems, only fun for the entire evening. The leaf pile (or leaf PIT as they so adamantly wanted to call it) provided endless entertainment, so much so that I had time to sit and enjoy it, and then get my camera for candid shots of so much joy.


We stayed on that hill for a long time, wasting away the day in perfect autumn weather, enjoying the company and happiness of the moment, simple dead leaves keeping our kids entertained the entire time. 

If there is anything I will remember about our time here in Ithaca, it will be these lazy days with good friends, sitting outside talking and sitting in shared silence that only good friendship can bring without things getting awkward. 

These are my favorite times. And this day? Well, it was perfect. 

Quintessential, even.


pretty viv


An essay I wrote while I was pregnant this summer.  I was feeling particularly sad about my days with just my baby girl coming to an end, and these days I just feel guilty because i don't give her the time and attention I used to. Oh hormones. oh newborns.


She came out of her room three times tonight, dragging her white blankie, her ragged bunny, a bouncy ball and a cat pillow with her. She would discreetly lay down next to the wall within eye shot of my bed, glancing up at me to see if I saw her, and then quickly pretend to be asleep when I would look at her, eyelids fluttering, a hint of a smile on her face, completely serious about sleeping on the floor. The first time I carried her back to her bed, tucked her in and kissed her good night. The second time I made her a little bed out on the floor in the hall, telling her to go to sleep or else. But the third time I looked up to see her bashfully standing in my doorway, dressed in her pink santa jammies, curly hair wild,  smiling a little crooked smile and saying “Cats! Hats!” (her pillow has cats wearing hats on it).

My heart melted, and I told her to come to me so I could hold her. She climbed into my lap and I asked her where she wanted to sleep tonight. She grinned and said, “Mom’s ded (bed)”, and she quickly crawled over my protruding belly and onto Dale’s side. We have a strict no sleeping with mom policy, but sometimes I feel nostalgic and sad that time is passing by so fast and my days are full of everything else but spending time with her. I gave in.  I cuddled up next to her, and she looked over at me with her pretty doe eyes. She excitedly whispered, “swimmin’! ‘self!”, because just yesterday she went swimming on her own with floaties on and found a new type of independence. She’s been so proud since then.

Much rolling and tossing and turning ensued after. He little eyes fluttered, sometimes wide awake and staring, sometimes barely open, fidgety, trying to find a comfortable spot on all the pillows and sheets and body in the bed. Finally, she faced me and snuggled into a nest of pillows, lacing her little fingers through mine. I started singing her some primary songs, and gradually I felt her breathing slow and deepen, her body relax and her eyes still. I tangled my fingers into her curly hair, and rested my forehead on hers. Her soft hair tickled my nose and I could feel her sweet breath on my face, slow and even. I faintly smelled her coconut shampoo and twisted a particularly curly ringlet around my fingers, marveling at how very beautiful she was. I traced her tiny fingers with mine, feeling how soft and delicate and babyish they were, her fingernails rudely painted purple and red with nail polish, curators of such silliness during the day. Her forehead beaded with sweat, so I pushed her hair back and kissed her baby cheeks, because although she seems grown, those chubby cheeks keep the toddler at bay during the night. Kissable, sweet and home to so many broad smiles brought by childhood happiness, I see my baby in those cheeks when she’s peacefully dreaming of sunglasses or her daddy (both which she woke up crying about the last few nights). 

Right now, she has her arm entwined with mine, and I think about the little tummy that I nourished, the curly hair that I created, those perfect cheeks that I know how to make smile – they inspired me tonight. I love her beyond my best words. She’s perfect. I want to remember that forever. 

    We got some family pictures taken the other day, and I snapped the shot above, trying to capture the beautiful light and my daughter looking ethereal. I wanted more, so dressed her up and went to find more beautiful light and the last summer flowers. Turns out I'm not so good at catching pretty light....but still. She's just so beautiful it makes me want to cry like a hormonal postpartum mom (wait...i am that).






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