Miranda Kate’s Mid-Week Challenge : 2020/10/18 (Week 170)

I suppose it’s what I deserved, for looking in the mirror. Even though I knew what I’d see, I looked anyway. I saw all that was left of me. Not my body. Not my skin, hair, clothes. None of what people look in a mirror to see.

I saw a dead, rotting, wasteland. Dead trees reached to the sky, their long dead trunks covered in molds and lichens, their leaves, in a thick layer on the ground that was slowly turning to dirt.

It was silent. Dead silent. I couldn’t hear anything. No birds, animals, even water in a stream, or leaves rustling on the ground. There was no wind, no clouds, no life at all. It was all dead. Dead, and rotting, turning back to the dirt it came from.

It wasn’t easy to look, especially since I knew what I was looking at. My brain knew, and heard my own words, echoing endlessly. “There’s nothing left of me. Nothing but the fire. Nothing but the anger, the rage. Everything else has been lost.”

It was my soul, in that mirror. My heart. All of it, dead. Everything I’d been, everything we are when we’re born, every dream we have, ever hope, ever feeling, laughter, sorrow, pain, joy, smiles, tears, all of it. Gone. Dead. And turning back into the dirt it had come from.

“You know, I did try to explain to them. I tried to tell them. I even said, more than once, there are parts of me that are gone, and I don’t care who you are, those parts aren’t coming back. They’re gone.”

“Anger destroys everything.” I seriously considered throwing something hard, and heavy, at that mirror, shattering it into a million bits of glass. I didn’t. I knew. That would only be another image of what was left of me. Tiny shards of glass, scattered everywhere, waiting to cut up the bare feet that walked across them, waiting to sink into the fingers that tried to gather them up, and make the ground safe to walk on once again.

“Anger destroys everything.” I couldn’t even remember where I’d read those words.

That’s when I told the mirror, “It’s all I had. This world,” I looked around, even glanced out the window, “there was no other way I could be.”

Perhaps another man would have cried, mourned for the loss of his soul, felt the emptiness of the shell that was his body. But that wasn’t me. I’d mourned decades ago, when I realized I couldn’t survive in this world, that this world would drive me, little by little, day after day, into insanity.

“Well. At least I did my best with what I did have. At least I tried to do something positive, something good.”

There was an old phrase I’d learned, over 30 years ago, “Even doing the right thing, for the wrong reasons, is wrong.”

I still didn’t know how to respond to that thought. Was it wrong to take rage, anger, hatred, and do something positive with them? All because rage, anger, and hatred were wrong to start with?

“Wonder if I’ll ever learn an answer to that?” I asked the desolation in that mirror. “Or is it not possible for a destroyed soul to learn anything?”

546 words
@mysoulstears


Written in response to the prompt for week 170 of Miranda Kate‘s Mid-Week Challenge. You can learn about Miranda’s challenge here. The stories people share for the weekly challenge are always little works of art, crafted with words, meant to be shared, and enjoyed. Please go read them all.

#AtoZ2016 : P Is For Patience

There is one thing in this life
I will never have enough of.
One thing I will run out of
Every day.
One thing I won’t have
When I need it most.

You know this thing too.
And like me,
You wish you had more.
So much more.

I need it when I’m listening
To someone who hasn’t got a clue
Try to explain their point of view.
Limited as it is.
Blind as it is.
To me.

I need it when I’m teaching
Someone something new.
Something they don’t know.
They may not understand.
That may scare them.
That’s simple to me.

You know this thing too.
And like me,
You could use more,
So much more,
Than you have.

I need it when I’m driving,
To anywhere.
Dealing with the traffic on the roads.
With people being people.
Driving too slow.
Driving too fast.
Running stoplights.
Stopping to turn right.
And, in general,
Driving me nuts.

I need it when there’s something,
Anything, really,
I want to do.
Because sometimes,
I can’t do what I want,
When I want to.
Because I have to work.
Or take care of my home.
Or spend time with her.

You know this thing too.
And like me,
You’ll never have enough.
You’ll always need more.

I need it when I read something
Someone wrote.
Something I don’t agree with,
That angers me,
Frustrates me,
Makes me ask,
“How can they be that way?”

Because I know this truth.
And you know it too.
All it takes
Is a little time.
A little perspective.
A little patience.

And everything changes.
The anger fades,
The frustration washes away.
And everything becomes
Okay.

I know this thing I need.
This thing I won’t ever have
In sufficient quantity.

You know this thing too.
And like me,
You won’t ever have enough.

Patience.

God.
Do I need more.


It’s April 20th, and I’m a still one day behind on the A to Z Challenge for 2016. I expect to catch up on Sunday. Only 10 more letters to write stories for this month.

Please, go explore the A to Z Challenge, and the sites of others who are participating in this adventure.

#AtoZ2016 : H Is For Hopeless

Here I sit. At my computer. Staring at an empty screen as I ponder the letter H, and all the words I can think of that start with that letter. Heart, heaven, hell, health, heather (the ground covering, not the human), hate, hunger, and so many more.

It’s the 8th day of #AtoZ2016. And I’m supposed to write something about something with the letter H. And I sit here, where I’ve sat for hours now, failing to come up with anything.

I’ve considered a story about Little Tommy. Yet another venture into the mind of a six year old, with such words as heavy, and hollow. But nothing fits. And each time I try to write, everything turns to fire.

I’ve considered writing something like I did for the letter G. A little bit of random prose that captures my thoughts on some word that starts with the letter H. But nothing comes to mind. And when I try to write, once more, everything turns again to fire.

There are oceans of characters, and stories I could write. From tales of the White Witch, and her adopted daughters, and the dragons of the world they live in, to tales of Frank and Jessica, and their post apocalyptic world, where society went insane and consumed itself, destroyed itself. Even to the world of the ants, and butterflies, and other insects, the successors to intelligent life on Earth, 65 million years after humans went extinct.

But each time I sit to write, my words are consumed by the fire that burns in my heart and soul. A fire I have been unable to extinguish for over two days now.

There are stories I have never spoken of, like the world where humans have become mass produced by the companies that need them. Where humans have become nothing more than expendable resources, to be produced, then used up, then thrown away, in the name of greater profit, and power, and the almighty growth of the economy.

Stories of the wounded child, wondering why his heart has to be torn apart for him to fit into a world he never made, so he can hold down a job, and be normal, and buy a house to live in, and a car to get to and from work with. And why he has to destroy his dreams, and his freedom, to do that.

An endless stream of stories.

But each time I reach for one, I see it burn to ashes in the fire inside my heart and soul. And I wonder why. Why do I try. Why do I bother. When all that ever happens is I end up here again. Consumed by the frustration, and the anger it ignites, when I try to interact with a world that makes no sense to me.

So I settle now for just one word.

And just one sentence.

H is for Hopeless.


It’s April 10th, and I’m a day late for the 8th day of the A to Z Challenge for 2016. Only 18 more letters to write stories for this month.

Please, go explore the A to Z Challenge, and the sites of others who are participating in this adventure.

The Old Guy Sat At The Bar

Jason pulled back the bar stool, and had a seat. The bartender quickly found him, and asked what he wanted to drink.

“Seven and Seven,” Jason quietly, politely asked.

The bartender wandered off to mix his drink, and the old man sitting at the bar, in the chair next to Jason smacked his empty glass on the shiny hardwood surface. “Oh, yeah! That’s good stuff.”

Jason thought of moving. He didn’t want to sit next to anyone loud, or anyone in a group. Before he could, the bartender returned with his drink, “Seven and Seven,” he placed the drink on a tiny napkin in front of Jason, then turned to the old man, “You want another round?”

The old man didn’t speak, he smiled and nodded yes, and the bartender wandered off again.

The old man looked through Jason. He had those kind of eyes, the ones that see past all the lies, the games, the masks people put on every day. The ones that see your soul, and know the truth of who and what you are.

“Had a fight with your girl, did you?” Jason started to get up, but the old man kept talking, “Nobody won, did they?”

Jason stayed on his stool, and stared back at the old man. He’d always thought he was a good judge of character, but when he looked at the old guy, he saw no lies, no masks. He saw the face and eyes of someone who’d lived live. Someone who’d seen life. Someone who knew.

“Yeah. We had a fight.”

The old guy took a deep breath. “Money?”

Jason nodded.

“Yeah. It’s always money, ain’t it?” Jason picked up his drink, and chugged half of it down. “So, you’re gonna drown it all, ain’t ya?”

Jason let his drink glass reconnect to the bar with a loud smack. “Yep. We just broke up.” He picked up his drink, and drained it, then smacked the glass down again. “And I’m gonna forget all about her!”

The old guy laughed. “Gonna let a fight about money destroy love and happiness?” He shook his head. “Yep. You’re an idiot.”

Jason, jaw dropped and he stood up, “What!”

“Sit down, and shut up. And maybe I can talk you out of making the same stupid mistake I made when I was young and full of hormones, and emotions, and pride, just like you are now.”

Jason couldn’t help himself. He sat down.

The bartender plunked new drinks in front of them both. The old man stared at his. “See,” he took a long chug. “I was in love once.”

“Hasn’t everyone?”

“Yeah.” The old guy finished his drink. “Yeah, everyone has.” He laughed. “But the smart ones stay in love.”

Jason shook his head. “You don’t know what she said, what she did.”

“I don’t need to.” He didn’t smile. There was something in his eyes, some memory, some regret, and perhaps a wish he could go back in time. “I was in love once.”

“What happened?”

“We had a fight.” He waved at the bartender, “Another round for us, Bill.” Then he shook his head, and stared at the reflections of light in the polished wood of the bar. “We had a stupid fight.”

Both men sat, waiting for their drinks. When they arrived, the old guy wrapped a hand around his glass, but didn’t lift it. Jason watched him stare into the liquid swirling in the glass. “I was too young, too stubborn, too idealistic.” Jason stared at his own glass. “I hadn’t figured out the truth. And I didn’t want to know the truth.”

“The truth?” Jason stared at his drink, picked it up, and took a swallow. He felt the familiar burn of the alcohol in his throat, and the warmth in his stomach.

The old man told him the truth, “She said a lot of things about you, didn’t she.” Jason nodded. “She called you irresponsible. She called you immature. She told you to grow up.”

Jason nodded, “Yeah. Something like that.”

“Hurt, didn’t it.”

“Hell yeah.” Jason took another swallow. “And she knew it. She let me have it with both barrels.” He looked at the old guy, “Why should I put up with that? That’s it, you know. We’re done.”

Jason thought the old man wanted to cry, but maybe the old guy had forgotten how. “What do you know about fights? About couples?” He looked around the bar, Jason did the same. “You know how many couples break up these days?”

Jason shook his head.

“Damn near all of ‘em.” The old guy took a chug of his drink. “Damn near all of ‘em.” He stared into his drink again, “And nobody stays married forever anymore.” Jason stared at his drink, and the old guy asked, “How long were your parents married?”

“Still are.”

“How long?”

Jason shrugged. “Twenty-five, twenty-six years? I don’t really know.”

“Have you ever wondered how they stay married?”

“No.” Jason took another swallow. “Never thought about that?”

“So. How do you think they stay married?” Jason sat silently. He didn’t have an answer. He’d never really thought about it. “Did they ever fight?”

Jason remembered the nights he heard them screaming at each other. The nights he heard the front door slam as his father left. The night his mother cried herself to sleep, and his father came home, and slept on the sofa. “Yeah. They did.”

“Why did they stay together?”

He didn’t have an answer. He’d never thought about it.

“You like music, right?”

“Yeah. A good band is good. But they always break up.”

“All of them?”

“No. Not all of them.”

“Why not?”

“It’s not the same thing, you know. It’s not.”

The old man finished off his drink. “Bill. I’m gonna need another.”

“You’re gonna need a cab.”

“Yeah. That too.”

“Let me know when, and I’ll call one.”

The old guy nodded, and resumed his conversation with Jason. “Why isn’t it the same?”

“Bands and couples. They’re not the same.”

“Now you just think about that a bit. And then think about how they are the same.” Jason shook his head. “Don’t band members fight?”

“Yeah, but it’s over a band. It’s not like when a couple has a fight.”

“You saying the band members aren’t family?” Jason stared into his drink. His mind struggled to make sense of the old guy’s words. “You saying families don’t have fights and break up, just like bands do? You saying they stick together for fame and money, and not because they’re a family?”

The old guy shook his head, and tipped his drink again. “I was just like you. Thought fights weren’t supposed to happen to people in love. To friends.” He gently placed his glass on the bar. “I was so fuckin’ stupid.”

He leaned toward Jason, “Dude. Fights happen. You put two people together, and sooner or later, fights happen.” He put his hand on Jason’s shoulder. “The smart ones figure that out, and learn to get past the fights.”

He remembered his parents, the morning after the fights. They didn’t act like nothing happened. They talked. Quietly. They apologized to each other. And their lives went on. Together.

“Fights happen. It’s not an ideal world. Not a dream world.” The old guy stared at his empty glass. “I used to love her. Probably still do. Had a fight with her. About money.” He took a deep breath, then slowly let it out. “I’ve been alone since then.” He looked at Jason. “She was my girl. My one chance at love. My one chance at being happy.” They guy looked at the floor. “And I fucked it up. Me, and my pride. She’d hurt me in that fight. And I couldn’t get over it.” He took another deep breath. “I couldn’t let it go.”

Jason said nothing. What was there to say?

The old guy smiled. “If you’ve got any brain cells in that head of yours, well. You’ll figure the rest out.”

Jason excused himself. He went to the quiet hallway outside the restrooms, where the pay phones were, pulled out his smart phone, swallowed his pride, and called her.

The old guy sat at the bar, and smiled. “I’m gonna need another one, Bill.”

#ThursThreads Week 90 : He Could Be The One

Arrogance and Pride hid in the shadows between two buildings and watched Simon walk past, on his way to church. Arrogance grinned and Pride reminded him, “Patience, evil one. Patience.”

After Simon passed, the demons followed him, creeping silently between the shadows on the sidewalk, staying out of Simon’s sight. They could feel the delicious anger raging in Simon’s heart.

“He could be the one,” Pride whispered.

“He is the one.” Arrogance replied.

They listened as Simon muttered, “Homos, trying to corrupt my church. I’ll show them.”

Pride and Arrogance fueled Simon’s fire, as they whispered in his ears.

“The nerve of them, thinking we will tolerate their sin!”

“Thinking we don’t know the words of our Lord and Savior.”

“Men sleeping with men is a vile sin. It says so in the word of God!”

Simon went to his office in the church. Pride and Arrogance, hidden in his shadow, followed him. As he reviewed the notes for the lesson he would teach that day, he muttered to himself again, “I cannot let them corrupt God’s children.”

And Arrogance and Pride fueled his anger once again.

“Call them out by name!”

“Tell everyone they will corrupt the church.”

“Unless we remove them.”

In the service, Simon waited impatiently as he sang praises to God and Jesus above, and prayed for God to grant him the strength to do what he had to.

And when he stood before God’s children on that Sunday morning, Arrogance and Pride stood beside him.

250 Words
@LurchMunster


I wrote this for Siobhan Muir‘s #ThursThreads, Week 90. Please go read all the entries in this week’s #ThursThreads. They are good reading.

#MWBB 15 – Take It As It Comes

I took another step. Followed by another. Followed by 10,000 more. I walked. I walked for miles. For two hours. During that two hours, everything changed. All the anger I felt surfaced. I walked with clenched fists. At times my lips drew back like a snarling dogs. I’d have growled, if I could.

The anger burned within me. Racing through my blood. I remembered everything. The way people pretended to care about me while they forced me out of work, sent me home on leave, ordered me to have no contact of any kind with anyone. All the while telling me, “We want you to get better.” As if ripping someone’s heart to shreds would make them better.

Always the anger burned. But after a thousand or two thousand steps, it began to fade. My fists unclenched. My snarl faded. And my fear surfaced. I was afraid. Hell, I was terrified. Who wouldn’t be? I was out on medical leave. Not one broken bone. Not one stitch. Hell, I didn’t even have bruise. Except on my heels from walking stupid distances. But I was OK with that.

I wasn’t OK with being out of work. Being at home. I’d lost my job. I’d lost my career. I’d lost everything. I knew that. It was my worst nightmare, come to life. And the people I depended on, and worked with every day for years had made that decision. They hadn’t even warned me. They hadn’t said anything. They’d waited until I was out of town, on vacation, to make the decision.

They didn’t have the heart to tell me to my face.

No one ever returned when they got sent home. No one ever had. It was the kiss of death. The end. I’d end up unemployed. Everyone knew that. I knew that. And I had no idea what to do. I’d had that job, that career, for 28 years. I didn’t know how to do anything else.

And no one I’d worked with would ever talk with me again. Me. The one that came apart. The only one that came apart. Everyone else was fine. Happy. Professional. Working. And I’d come apart so badly, they’d even requested I never speak to them.

What does it feel like when everyone you see every day is suddenly gone?

As I walked, the fear faded. And my depression surfaced. The depression that got me sent home. The anxiety that caused my pulse to race, my hands to shake like tuning forks. And all I wanted was for the hurt I felt to end. Bruised heels, blistered toes, and me walking miles and miles, and I didn’t even feel the pain my feet were in. All I felt was the ache, the agony, of my heart and soul.

It wasn’t until my depression surface, and faded, that I could finally breathe. I could finally feel. The moment I was in. I could see the sky, and the clouds in it. I could feel the breeze, and the warmth of the sun. I could feel the cold of the winter. I could hear the birds. It wasn’t until I’d walked through all the hurt, the fear, the anger, that I found myself.

It was on those walks I finally learned to live.

471 Words

@LurchMunster


My entry, in all its unedited glory, for week 15 of Jeff Tsuruoka‘s Mid-Week Blues-Buster flash fiction challenge. Please, go read the other entries in the challenge.

#5SF : Conquer

You Americans. Don’t you know life is not a conquest? You do not conquer your emotions, anger, fear, rage, hatred. You do not subdue them without crushing your own heart and soul. Instead, you learn to understand them, to live with them, to accept they are part of life, to used them appropriately, correctly, and to never be afraid of them.


Here’s my weekly attempt at Lillie McFerrin‘s flash fiction challenge, Five Sentence Fiction. This week, the prompt is Conquer.

Please, go read all the other entries to this week’s Five Sentence Fiction. It’s amazing what creative people can do with just five sentences.

I Can’t Be That Way

At last there is anger.
After 2 years,
I finally can face,
And deal with,
What happened
In 2010.

When I was throw away.
By people I once trusted.
Because I was different.
Because I changed.
Because I didn’t do things
Their way.

I used to say,
“No one’s to blame.”
I don’t say that
Anymore.

Someone I believed was my friend
Became ill.
Cancer.
And I did something
No one there,
Not even her,
Could live with,
Or forgive.

I cared.

I told my job responsibilities
To stuff it.
I picked up pen and paper.
And I wrote.
I lost sleep at night.
Because I cared
For her.

And in the end,
Despite the simple truth
That I never failed,
Not even once,
To do the work
I was tasked to do.

I was removed.
Unloaded.
Purged.
Gotten rid of.

I was told about the anger
Those people expressed
About the words I wrote
In those days.
When I was betrayed.
By a world
I’ll never understand.
A world
I don’t want to understand.
A world
Of gray.
Of ice.
Of stone.

Not even one of them
Understood
All the things I did.
All the things I said.

To me, it was as if
The only thing they cared about
Was the work itself.
And the paycheck they collected
Every 14 days.
If someone became injured.
Someone became sick.
Someone died in an accident.

Who cared?
Every last person
In that awful place
Would have shown up
The next day.
And done their job.
And maybe sang that song.
“Another one bites the dust.”

But there’s more.
So much more.
To the anger I am feeling
On this day.

Did you know
I went to a church
On the first Sunday in May
Of 2011?
I did.
A brand new church.
A place I’d never been.

I was willing
To try to make
A new start again.

In November of 2011,
I walked away.
I left.
Without a single word.
Because I had to.
I had no choice.
If I’d stayed,
I’d have faced
The same gray
Ice and stone
That filled the place
Where I once worked.

I left an old friend
I’d crossed paths with
In that church,
On my friends list
On Facebook.

But I warned her.
I did.
That I’d never be the way
She wanted me to be.
That I’d always do and say
Things that flew in the face
Of her beliefs
And ways.

And I told her
In the end.
She’d walk away.
Like almost everyone
I’ve ever known.

It took a few months.
But she did.
Because she couldn’t accept
How I am.
What I believe.
How I live.

I remember all the times
Someone said to me,
In a shocked,
Or outraged voice.

“But, you can’t live that way!”
“But, you can’t be that way!”

It took me 53 years.
But at last I understand
Why I keep encountering
Those words.

It’s not that I can’t bet the way
I am.
Not that I can’t live the way
I do.
It’s not that I am broken.
Or confused.
Or emotionally
Or mentally ill.

It’s not that at all.
And it never was.

It’s that I don’t see,
Don’t feel,
And just don’t know,
The social code they live by.

I live the way my mind,
My heart,
My soul,
Tell me to live.

And my mind,
My heart,
My soul
Tell me to this day
That everything I did
In 2010,
When someone I called friend
Was ill,
And fighting to survive,
Was absolutely right.

I did what I believed
Back then.
And I’d do it all again
Today.

And I don’t care
That there are people in this world
That are afraid of me.
Because I do things
Differently
From them.

I’ve learned
In the past two years.
I have to be
What my mind,
My heart,
My soul,
Would have me be.

There’s one more thing
I’ll say right now.
About a picture
On Facebook
A week or two ago.

That picture caused me anger.
It struck at my very heart
And soul.
It described
So very accurately
What I saw.
What I learned.
Two years ago.

That picture spoke of friends.
How we’d root for them.
How we’d hug them.
Eat lunch with them.
Do anything we could
To take care of them.

Until…

Taking care of them
Put any risk at all
On our own lives,
Our own jobs,
Our families and friends.

Until…

Caring became
Inconvenient.
And could cause us
Any pain at all.

I bit my tongue.
I took a walk.
I took pictures of flowers.
I spoke to my Doctor
About the words I’d read.

And I told my doctor
They were wrong.
Those words,
To me,
Described
Everything that’s wrong today
In the world
Of stone,
And ice,
And gray.

My doctor knows.
My family too.
I can’t live like that.

I can’t be that way.

Perhaps It’s Time

I stared into the mirror.
For a long time.
Trying to find something.
Anything.
Positive to say.
Positive to think.

All I could see
Was a trail of destruction.
A trail of fire.
A trail of anger.
Rage.
And pain.

It’s no one’s fault.
I know that.
What happened.
It’s no one’s fault.
Trying to blame someone
Would be like trying
To hold someone responsible
For the rain.

It rains where it rains.
It rains when it rains.
No one is to blame.

I used to think I’d grown.
Think I’d changed.
Believed I’d gotten through
The worst of things.
That I understood
The world I never made.
And could cope with it.
Live in it.
Let it be
The way it is.

Heartless.
Ruthless.
Cold.
Savage.
And so very gray
To me.

I stared into the mirror
For a while.
Oh the things I said
Inside my head.
To myself.

I’ve tried.
God, how I’ve tried.
I try every day.
To keep that last bridge
Between the life I had.
And the life that’s growing now.

With what happened today.
I’m not sure I can.
Not sure it’s worth
The pain.
The effort.
The stress.

It takes so very much
To not be angry.
When everyone you knew
Abandoned you.
Just because
You changed.

And it’s not really like I changed.
Not really that at all.
The truth is far more simple.
Far more plain.

I woke up.
I opened my eyes.
Like Neo
In the Matrix.
I unplugged.

I live in a world these days
That is filled with color.
With people that are so
Very much alive.
People that embrace
Change.
And let me be
Who I am.
Let me believe
What I believe.
That don’t expect me
To be just like them.

Except for that bridge.

I don’t want to burn that sucker down.
I don’t.
There are people on the other side
I really do like.
That honestly
Just don’t understand
Me.
And why I’ve become
So very critical
About the way things are.

I let them be their way.
I try.
Oh, how I try.
To not say anything.
To let them do
What they believe.
Live how they believe.
Be how they believe.

I’ve asked God now
For better than one year
To not give up on them.
To find a way
Somehow.
To wake them up.
Like He did me.

But I know
They won’t.
They won’t ever see.
Won’t ever know.
Won’t ever change.

They don’t see any reason to.
They don’t see any need.
To them
Everything’s the way
It’s supposed to be.
Or just so damn close
That it’s close enough.
That they’re OK
With the way things are.

I know so very many
New people now.
The kind of people
That the folks
On the other side
Of the bridge
Wouldn’t understand.
Wouldn’t accept.
Would ask me what I see
In them.

They’d call my new friends
Evil.
Call them wrong.
Call them sinners.
Heathen.
The Devil’s spawn.

I stared into the mirror
For a while today.
Oh, the things I had to say
To me.
They would hurt you
If you heard them.
I know this.

And in the end
I have to ask
If it’s time.
Time to take
Another step.
And burn that one last bridge
To the ground.

Can I leave that bridge standing
And ever truly be free
From the self-hatred,
Self-abuse,
And self-denial
That once owned me.
In that world
I never made.

I wish I knew the answer.
I wish I knew.

Now, I have to think a while
And figure out.
What I will do.
What’s best for me.
So that I can take
The next step forward
In this new life
I’ve been given.

Perhaps the best thing
I could do
Is nothing.
Is just watch.
And wait.
And see.
What the people
On the far side
Of that bridge do.

Maybe I won’t have to do a thing.
Maybe they’ll burn down that bridge.
To keep their world
Safe from my new friends.
Safe from me.

The Hurt In Her Eyes

I’ve learned that I don’t see
What other people see.
That’s a gift
From my ASD.

I see details.
Lots and lots of details.
I always have.
It’s a skill I learned
A lot of years ago.
A skill I had to grow.
It kept me alive.

I learned to watch people.
To watch their faces.
Watch their eyes.
Watch the way they move.
It was the only way I had
To have a clue at all
Of the way they felt.

One of my new friends
Is hurting at this time.
She’s a photographer.
I love the photos that she shares.
Each is a work of art.
Filled with tons of details.

I’ve known so few people
In my life
That could capture feeling
On a page.
In the words they wrote.
In the things they drew.
In the pictures that they took.

She is one of them.
Like the others I have known.
She is a priceless gift
From life.

But I’ve watched her pictures
For the past few weeks.
And I’ve seen something
In them.
Something growing.
Something that disturbs me
Very much.

There is an anger there.
An anger
Caused by pain.
I know that look
So very well.
I’ve seen it
In my own eyes.
Time and time again.

I’m not sure she knows.
She is so very young.
And it took me
More than 50 years
Of watching, learning,
And living,
To learn what I know
About the things I see
In her eyes.
In the pictures
That she shares
With people that she knows.

I know she’s alone
In her home
These days.
He’s in the Navy.
He’s deployed.
And I know
She misses him.

I understand
What that’s like.
To have to let go
Of someone you care for.
As my doctor’s said to me
Many times before.
“Mark,
You identify with that.
You understand that.”

It’s not empathy,
I know.
I’m not very empathetic.
Never have been.
Never will be.
It’s just how I am.

But I do know what it is
To miss someone.
And I know she misses him.

There are times
I want to scream.
When I feel so helpless.
So useless.
When I know
There’s almost nothing
I can do
To help a friend.

And I know
There’s very little
I can do
To help her through
What she’s dealing with
Right now.

There are times I wish
I could do more than I can.
But I now I can’t.
I’m only human
After all.
And there are laws of physics,
Laws of biology,
That I just can’t break.

I’d say there are social rules
That limit me.
But the truth is
There are not.
I just know that there are things
That I shouldn’t do,
Or say,
Because of the trouble
That they cause.

Why is our society
So heartless.
And so cruel.
That we have no choice
But to let another
Hurt alone.

But you see.
I’ve learned
There is one thing
I can do.

I can write.
For when I write
I can say
What I have to say.
I can ask
What I wish to.

I’ve seen the look
In my friends eyes.
That look of pain.
Of loss.
Of helplessness
To stop the rain and wind
Of the storm
That life has sent
Her way.

And I’ve watched the hurt
That I’ve seen there
As it slowly changed
From hurt and pain
To the anger I can’t help but see
In the pictures
That she shares.

So I write.
And I talk with her sometimes.
I even share some pictures
Now and then.

Because I know
One thing I can do
Is try to give a smile
To a wounded friend.
Every now and then.

In the hope that she remembers,
And never does forget.
That hurt,
And pain,
And loneliness,
Are like the other things
We feel.
Like anger and laughter
Both.

They’re transient.
They come and go.

This world that we live in.
A world I never made.
Is broken.
And hosed up.
I know that.

But that doesn’t mean
That things can’t change.
That people cannot grow.

The way things are
Is transient.
Things change.
This much I know.
I’ve learned this in my life
Through the gift
My family and friends
Have always been to me.
And through days
Of both joy,
And pain.

And that is why
From time to time
I’ll write something.
Or share some pictures
Of flowers,
Or butterflies.

With my young friend
Whose eyes tell me
That she’s in great pain.

In the hope
I can help her
Find her smile
Again.

For my heart tells me
This is the way
God meant life
To be lived.