Shadows with No Light

Credit: jezebel.com

 

You were seen downtown one Sunday morning hanging out at the local cafe’ 

Pretending to be part of the beautiful people in a tony town

 Hung over from a Saturday night of shallow dinner party dialogue

 Getting wasted on wine and secretly lusting after the host’s wife

 to  alleviate the ennui of suburban existence

Your companion is a farce masquerading as a woman “Who knows Who”

 When in reality she is merely a vapid vamp mirroring a myriad of other MLFs 

You fit well with the air kissing crowd, capable of crumbs for conversation

You feed each other tidbits and then fuck each other into oblivion 

Drown your demons if you dare

But heaven and earth will not be moved by your denial

No shifts will occur in the course of your creation

You’ll just descend further towards a self-created hell

 

Day 28. A trip to the dark side of suburbia. No apologies for the epithet. It seemed to fit the message..

Mistaken Identity

Credit: imgarcade.com

An All-American look

An A-Frame Shape

Ass-Kickin Abs

Strong-shouldered

Sleek-skinned

Strapping in Stride

Your Youth Yielded

to the Years spent Yearning

for Daring and Dastardly Dreams

Groping towards Goals of Disingenuous Grandeur

There is Little Left of your Lofty Life

The Face that once glimmered with hope

and turned many a maiden’s head

is but a sunken ship

Moored in the Muck

Wrinkled and Wretched

with the scars of brokeness

etched across your bow

The Summer I’d Like to Forget

Screenshot_2014-06-11-11-50-18~2

#FWF Free Write Friday: Are You Up For This?

fwf kellie elmore badge

 

 

 

 

 

 

I’ve been debating with myself as to whether it is even worth writing about a decade old story. I have alluded to it in poetry ( Hidden Hunger ,Witness ) but never in memoir.

It is difficult to admit that there was a time that my family went hungry.  The details of how we arrived at our sorry state are way too complicated and frankly, too boring. Here are the highlights:

  • Husband gets fired-not laid off- from six figure job.
  • Husband decides to start own business causing significant decrease in income.
  • Wife works part-time while in a year-long clinical graduate program.
  • Wife told that her job must now carry the benefits, cutting her measly salary in half.
  • Wife told that since her job does not pay in summer, she must get full-time work and the children can stay home alone all day without mom and dad.
  • Wife is not able to get full-time job but finds work that keeps her away from home for just a few hours.
  • Wife’s tiny wages go to food.
  • Wife eats less to save food for kids.
  • Husband squanders all savings  and other finances while secretly making major purchases.
  • Wife tells no one about situation even though her parents live just eight miles away and her brother thirteen.

I spent the summer of 2004 in a state of shock, or as a friend said “survival mode”.  I knew things would get better in the fall when my job resumed to a nearly full -time position. But the 12 weeks of empty bellies seemed endless. A wall of resistance and repudiation was put up by my husband. In his eyes it was my fault for not getting full-time work. Not his fault for getting fired and pursuing something that barely brought a paycheck in to pay bills.

I felt stuck. As summer turned into fall, a latent anger was born. I took it out on everyone but him at first but then it boiled over when I found out about another major purchase he had made. I went into therapy where I began to unravel the pieces of my situation as well as my marriage and more importantly, myself.

We never went hungry after that summer. I refused to have my sons experience that dull, hollow feeling that comes from not having enough to eat ever again. Their father never accepted responsibility for his decisions and instead continued to lay the blame on me. But for the  next summer and for all subsequent summers, I secured positions where I could make money and have my children productively occupied and supervised.

Life trucked on, the marriage ended, battles were waged and the three of us (as many of you know by now) have a wonderful, wonderful life. He lost us but we gained ourselves. I still worry about food and going hungry. I cannot have the refrigerator or cabinets or the pantry ever be empty. It triggers that feeling again.

The boys and I did talk about that time a few years ago. I apologized to them for what happened but they both said I did the best I could. They had come to understand the circumstances that caused the situation in the first place. It was just one of many moral violations committed by their father.

I eventually confessed to my family, who were at first angry that I did not come to them for help. I was too ashamed and I knew I would suffer the consequences of revealing the secret. It didn’t seem worth it at the time.

And do I have shame today? No, I let that go a long time ago. Although I was not conscious of it at the time, I was being abused. The blaming, the passive aggressive behavior, the snide remarks began in earnest that summer. They increased over time until I finally realized what was happening.

When one is in the midst of negativity and abusive behavior, it is nearly impossible to see a way out. One only wants the abuse to stop-not for the abuser to leave. Strange dichotomy but oh so true. Lucky for me, he left. But he still abused from afar in various ways. I only got stronger and my children got wiser.

We know how to feed our bellies and our souls. Loaves and fishes abound. Abundance is present. And we are very grateful.

Never let yourself be bullied into silence. Never allow yourself to be made a victim. Accept no one’s definition of your life; define yourself.

~Robert Frost

 

This was THE most challenging free write for me.  I really went back and forth as to whether I could write about it. Frankly, I didn’t want to. But sometimes you just have to put your muscle into it. It was NOT cathartic. It just had to be written and done with once and for all.

The Road of Regret

Credit: 1hdwallpapers.com

A light rain settled on his windshield

Little droplets of tears resting at eye view

The April morning more like November

Raw, gray, bone seeping dankness

Void of color

Empty of Hope

Unsure of what he was seeking

He came from another place

Driving down Main Street

His truck making a detour back to a life he once knew

A quarter century ago

Half his age plus two now

His mind drifting to the covenant he made

on this same April day

Did he hope to see her?

He pulled into a vacant spot

The rain growing colder

Pelting his windshield

Sharp pieces of pain

He shivered and walked to the storefront of her favorite cafe’

His eyes peeled for the woman who was once his bride

Too late once again

She remained hidden

Traveling another route

Building her new dreams

Forging her own paths

And breathing a life-long sigh

That he didn’t see her pass him right by

 

 

Day 30 of the challenge. Last but not least…

A Grifter’s Rap

Credit: gatesofpower.com

Would you ever really know if your beloved strayed?

Or would you believe that you’ve been duplicitously played?

His absences explained so charmingly

As you played your role so willingly

You hang on long for the children’s sake

As you think he still loves you

Those vows he would not break

But he did so again and again

Not always with another

But with the click of a pen

When at last he made the ultimate exit

That last gasp to leave

You thought it was with money

That he did deceive

To fall in with another was too hard to believe

Looking back on it now-it was so long ago

All those scenes so intense 

And his emotions: a mere pretense 

You realize SHE was his reason for love’s final blow

But no matter now, this memory is like vapor

A mischievous muse’s attempt at a silly old caper

The mind goes awry

No need to know why

He’s nothing but a blip in your mind’s eye

Journey to the Other Side

Credit:  intentblog.com

At the time of the dismantling I used to wonder

used to sweat in desperation

used to be ensnared in your endless games of lashing out

 for  punishment of things that I did not do

for the person you thought I was

the one who punished you for her own guilt

At the time of the dismantling

I felt myself wasting away

sick with a loss of control over my own destiny (or so it seemed)

eager with a morbid curiosity about your private transgressions

At the time of the dismantling

I used to wish you would become a stranger to me

someone I would pass by on the street or the airport without notice

someone I would see by chance who didn’t bring me to the brink of madness

At the time of the dismantling

I wish I wouldn’t recognize you

to turn my head in instinct at your unwelcome presence

a witness to your lingering lurking

and latching yourself to people and places where I could be found

 

At the time of the rebuilding

I ceased to wonder

 became refreshed in renewal

no longer trapped, but free in my freedom

At the time of the rebuilding

I felt my self growing

a woman with curves and flesh

the mistress of my destiny

no longer curious but filled with awe at new love found

At the time of the rebuilding

you became unfamiliar

a transient that I passed by with ease

no longer on edge, existing on a different plane

At the time of the rebuilding

I no longer took notice of you

I see you on the street at a distance,

at peace with knowing that the long ago parting happened to someone else

 

Buried Truth

Credit: weheartit.com

I didn’t understand it then, but I understand it now…

What it means to be born from deceit

The lies they told themselves to protect you

I didn’t understand it then, but I understand it now…

Unconsciously rejected by the one who bore you

Lovingly accepted by the one who was betrayed

I didn’t understand it then, but I understand it now…

The secret kept from you until you were of age

You convinced yourself  that it didn’t matter anyway

I didn’t understand it then, but I understand it now…

Their union at last came undone, the past too much to bear

A slight shift in your world, one you could not even hear

I didn’t understand it then, but I understand it now…

You left them then, never to return again

 An anchorless  journey that continues today

I didn’t understand it then, but I understand it now…

Falsely sure of yourself and never whole

Flitting from place to place and woman to woman

I didn’t understand it then, but I understand it now…

Never quite trusting but always controlling

Hoarding your feelings, a collector of sins

I didn’t understand it then, but I understand it now…

The stain of  your beginnings remains with you still

A jagged edge, a dizzying precipice and a perilous fall

I didn’t understand it then, but I understand it now…

 Kellie gave us this one line today:

I didn’t understand it then, but I understand it now…

And this is what I created!

fwf kellie elmore badge

#FWF Free Write Friday: Ponder this…

by Kellie Elmore

He Saw It In A Frosted Window Pane

Photo credit: www.flickr.com

He stood on the street corner in the shadow of the amber street lamp. The night was bitter cold and the promised snow was gently falling on the shoulders of the people who passed him by. They appeared not to notice him as the peals of their holiday laughter echoed down the hushed city avenue.

He never felt so alone. Bereft. He knew that she and her husband were back in the city for the holidays visiting family. Their sons were grown now with little ones of their own and she never missed a chance to be near her precious grandchildren. She bought the brownstone so she would have a place to stay and play on her visits. Despite the distance, it was clear that she had kept a strong sense of community here; the amount of guests entering the doorway provided enough evidence. Never mind the vibe of good cheer and love that seemed to dance through the bricks of the building.

He moved closer. His sons were not interested in seeing him once again this year. He was dying to see what his four grandchildren looked like-he had never met them or seen them in a photograph. He knew that they were at the prime age to experience the magic and wonder of the season and he longed to share it with them.

At once, the four appeared in the large bay window. Two girls and two boys-maybe four to six years of age dressed in their Christmas finery. A picture postcard of innocence and joy.

His heart wrenched and he fell to his knees. On this night-this eve-it came rushing back to him. The weight and force and pain of what he had walked away from all those years ago.  He was crushed and defeated. Weak. He rose slowly, his feet wet and cold, his fingers stiffened by the frost.  He had not walked far-just enough to be out of sight when an overwhelming sense of fatigue came over him. He sought respite in the nearest snow bank.

                                                 *********

“Hey, mister are you all right?”  The group of  revelers came upon him a few hours later, his body nearly hidden in the snow except for the black of his boots. “Aw Jeez man. I think he’s dead. Call 911.” The wagon came quietly. They loaded him on the gurney and checked for identification. None. Just another John Doe lost to the streets they thought. They could hope that someone would notice he was missing and give him a proper burial. But no one ever did.

I took a bit of liberty with the FWF title “I Saw It Through a Frosted Window Pane.” It fit with the story. I am sure Kellie won’t mind!

Take a look at the other great writers over there by just clicking on the link below:

#FWF Free Write Friday: Pick a Title

Address Unknown

envelope-typewriter-words-Favim.com-404175_large

I imagine one day that you will come clean. Look inside yourself and uncover the damage and pain that once was hidden and then slowly festered like an abscess.  I fantasize and visualize the scene. Your sincere apology for letting your wounds bleed out until they killed my trust. Your realizations of the love you lost. Your enlightened self-awareness of your sheer selfishness and self-absorption. Your chaste chagrin for your failure as a father. Your road to redemption and reconciliation regarding their relationship with you.

But the package remains sealed. Locked tight and unexamined. Returned to sender.

This one is as raw as it gets. It’s been a funky week where the poison of the past took up rent in my head.  Time for an eviction notice to be served!

free write friday kellie elmore

#FWF Free Write Friday: Image Prompt

Geographical Escape 3.5: Fade to Black

photo credit: studiofovea.deviantart.com

“I know where her body is buried.” Tom was sitting in a dark booth at a dive bar on the outskirts of Louis Port. He stopped in to visit Marlena, an old friend of his mother. He had ordered one too many drinks and Marlena stayed after to help him sober up. She had the looks of a woman who I had seen and heard it all. They got around to talking about old times and soon they found themselves on the subject of his father.

“Your mother hated leaving you with him,” she said. Tom’s mother work nights as a nurse at the local hospital. His father worked at the docks loading cargo that was being shipped down river. Jim’s tall frame had become naturally muscular from years of heavy lifting. Tom’s thinness stood in sharp contrast to his father’s imposing body and equally intimidating personality. Already possessing a shy demeanor, Tom became mute whenever he was with him. In turn, Tom’s father did his best to ignore his son. He wasn’t a man who was good at conversation and he made no attempts to keep enough food in the house or cook a meal.

Jim was a heavy drinker and perpetual womanizer. Often times he would head down to the neighborhood tavern leaving his son alone for the night. Sometimes Tommy fell asleep to the hum of the tv set or put himself to bed. Jim would come home drunk, always with company for the night. Tommy could hear them through the walls. Bed creaking. His father moaning. A woman mewing or at times screaming. He covered his ears with a pillow to block out the noises. Some of them would stay around for a few months. They attempted to be friendly but more often than not, they were more interested in fucking his father. Jim would often send Tommy off on his bike during these times telling him to stay out of the house because “Daddy had business to take care of.” He would ride for hours all over town. Joe would meet up with him and they would head to his house where Joe’s mom would cook them up a special treat. Or he would ride over to the Trackside Diner, where Marlena was working at the time. She always made sure he ate a hearty meal, his belly full to bursting.

When he did arrive back at his Dad’s, he and his latest date would often be passed out on the couch with beer cans strewn on the floor and cigarettes still burning in the ashtrays.

His father knew no boundaries. He didn’t seem to care when Tommy would accidentally walk in on his acts in the living room or even the kitchen. “Hey there son, Daddy is just  having some fun with this little lady. You go on back to bed now,” he’d laugh. Or there would be two women with him. Unabashed in their nakedness. “I had trouble choosing. So I thought I would invite both of them home with me.”

Tommy was overwhelmed. He did not have the words to even speak of the situations he witnessed. He was always relieved to be back with his mother, putting those times out of his mind.

And this is what he thought he did that one last time. He was awakened once again by the sounds from his father’s bedroom. This time, however, it was different. Fearful screaming. Furniture banging against the wall. His father making monstrous noises. More yelling. “Please stop! You’re hurting me. Let go of me!”  Then the sound of someone falling to the floor with a loud thud.

Tommy couldn’t help himself. He got out of bed and peeked in the doorway of his father’s room. He saw his father straddled over the bloody, naked body of his latest conquest. A knife was in his hands. When he turned and saw his son, he said, “She wouldn’t listen, son. Help me clean up.” He began to roll her body in a rug. “Go open up the car’s trunk and get a shovel too. Then get in the back seat.”

They drove out to Cedar Grove Forest. He left Tommy in the car while he walked down the path with the shovel. A few minutes later, he came back for her. “Help me out here son. Hold the flashlight. I don’t want to trip on the path with this heavy load.”  Tommy held the light out in front of him as his father walked behind. When they got to the hole, he father said, “Go on back to the car and wait for me.”

Minutes later, Tommy heard the car door open and watched his father slide into the driver’s seat. Then he turned around and brought Tommy’s face close to his. He was filthy and reeked of sweat and blood. Breathing heavily, nearly spitting out the words, he said: “Don’t you ever tell a god damn soul.”

The smell of bleach awakened him. Sunlight streamed across his face. “Get dressed. I am taking you back to your mother’s.” He dropped his son at the curb and sped off. That was the last time he saw his father. It was only three years later, when Tommy was twelve, that he heard about his father’s death in a cheap motel room. He had been found shot to death.

By the time he was done talking, the sun was about to rise. The confession purged his soul. He knew that he would need to talk to the authorities. But first he would go home. He no idea of how he would tell Ella about his past. No clue about his present misdeeds. Their future together was uncertain. But he owed her the truth.

These thoughts were swimming in his sleepless mind as he said goodbye to Marlena and headed out towards the airport. Dazed and distracted, he was unaware of the moose in the middle of the road. He hit it head on, the car flipping over and over into the air until it landed in a ditch. They say you travel towards a white light at the end. But all Tom saw was red.