#VisDare 23 : Ornate

That afternoon I took Alice to old Phoenix, to a building I’d seen the day she’d shown me the cats. The cats gathered. “Why have you come?”

I thought of the building. The cats led us there. The building was an old church that someone had turned into a cafeteria style restaurant. The cats looked at me, “Take care of her,” I heard them say as they walked away.

I took Alice inside, and sat her at a table, close to the front, where the windows were. I sat down next to her, and held her hand. She whispered, “No one’s ever fought wraiths hand-to-hand.”

“I learned to survive in the caves.” I told her how I’d lived as a hunted outcast in the caves. She told me of her friends murdered by the wraiths and hordes. And I held her while she cried from the heartache of her memories.

150 Words

This is part 19 in the continuing story I’m working on for Angela Goff’s Visual Dare. Please read the other entries in this week’s Visual Dare challenge.


Merry Christmas, Everyone

I walked today.
I had to.
I needed to think.
To escape the pressure
Of the holiday.
It’s insanity.
For just a little while.

Don’t tell me I can’t be this way.
I am this way.
Always have been.
Always will be.

There are things I’ve never said.
Because I know
They would be like
Throwing a torch
In a vat of gasoline.
Pressing a branding iron,
Glowing white-hot
From the fire it was heated in,
To the chest of everyone.
Even me.

Because I know
The reaction the words would receive.
The same reaction
They’ve received
Time after time.
For the last 53 years.

People resist change.

But I have to ask
A couple of things.
I won’t answer them.
I have answers of my own.
I’ll leave the reader
On their own
To find the answers.
Or to ignore the questions.
Or to rant and rave,
As they explain to everyone around them
Why I was removed
From the working world.
Why the people I once knew
Avoid me now
As if by simple contact
They could catch
Whatever’s wrong with me.

I can’t help but sigh.
And shake my head.
And wonder.
Will anyone I know
That is that way
Ever wake up?

I already know
The answer to that question.
I won’t say it.
I won’t share it.
It’s a question
Each of you must answer
On your own.

Don’t tell me that’s not fair.
Don’t tell me I should share.
Don’t tell me I’m being mean.
For you don’t believe
What I believe.
The answer’s different
For you and me.
Because we’re not the same.

And that’s how life’s supposed to be.

Think of your friends.
The people you know.
Those you go to lunch with.
Those you work with.
Those within your church.
Those within your group.
Your click.
Your peers.

What happens in that group
When you see someone
Who doesn’t dress like you?
Who doesn’t talk like you?
Who doesn’t shave each day, like you?
Who has long, stringy hair?

What happens in that group
When you see two men walking,
Holding hands?
When you see two women walking,
Holding hands?
When you see a man
Dressed in a Scottish Kilt?

How does your group react
To the girl with the tattoos
On her arms?
On her back?
On her legs?

How does your group react
To the girl dressed all in black,
With a long black skirt,
And platform boots
With big metal buckles on them.

How does your group react
To the girl with bright blue hair?
The one with a buzz cut?
The one with a collar
Around her neck?

And how about that guy
With an ear-ring in one ear?
What’s up with that?

How does your group react
To the man in the median?
You know the one.
With the little cardboard sign
That says,
“Will work for food.”

Or that 15-year-old girl
That’s six months pregnant.
And isn’t married.

Why is it you never think
Before you act?

I told you when I began
Writing down these words.
I wasn’t going to answer
Any questions that I asked.

And I’m not.
Instead I’m going to tell you
Once again.
The answers that I found
May not match the ones
You could find on your own.
I won’t share mine with you.
Because I have no way of knowing
If what I’ve learned
Is right for you or not.

I only ask the questions.

Find the answers
On your own.

Merry Christmas,

I Close My Eyes

It is night.
I turn out the lights.
Pull the covers aside.
Climb into bed.
Lay down my head.

But no sleep comes.

A flood of thoughts
Won’t let me sleep.
Waves of my fears
Wash over me.
Haunting me.
Taunting me.

And no sleep comes.

I lie there
On the bed.
Wishing I could find a way
To ease the ache
Within my heart.
To dry the tears
My soul cries.

How can people live
In this world
They never made?

There was a time
Not long ago
When sleep would have
Eluded me
All night long.

But I’ve learned.
I’ve changed.
I know
What I have to do.
I know
How to care
For me.
To south the aching
Of my heart.
To dry the tears
My soul cries.

While I lie there
In my bed.
I close my eyes.
And then.

I breathe.
I breathe in slowly.
I breathe out slowly too.
And I remember.

Fear is just a feeling.
Nothing more.
Just like anger.
Just like joy.
And feelings come
And go.

And I decide
As I breathe in
To breathe in all my fears.
And then
As I breathe out,
I exhale tenderness.
And caring.

And I decide
To remember
Fears are like the monsters
In the dark.

They’re not really there.

As I breathe,
With my eyes closed.
I extend my hand
To my side.
And there, I find
Sleeping next to me.

And I know.
I know.
I’m not alone.
And never will be.
So long as she’s alive.
She’s a part of me.

Then I remember
Each friend I have.
And as I breathe in
I inhale
The things I know hurt them.
The fears I know they have.

Then I exhale once again.
The caring.
The compassion,
The tenderness
That lies at the very heart
Of me.

I breathe.
And I remember.
Who I am.

And before long
Sleep comes to me

But before I close my eyes
And drift off to sleep
There’s always one last thing
For me to do.

I remember you,
My friends.
And the problems you have had.
The fears that you face.
And I breathe all of them in.
And then
I breathe out the truth
That you are not alone.
And even though
I may be far away from you.
So that I can’t hold you,
Or touch you.
Or show you
That I care.

I breathe out that same
And compassion
That soothed the aching of my heart
And dried the tears
My soul cried.
And breathe them out
For you.

Good night
Wounded hearts and souls
Of so many people
That I know.

Oh how I wish
There was so much more
I could do
For you.

If I Could…

There is a friend I have.
She’s been married
Less than one whole year.
She’s a Navy wife.
And the Navy called.
And he’s been gone
Since nearly April First.

He’ll be gone
For months yet,
Before the Navy
Returns him home.

She misses him.
I know.
I’ve seen that
In the pictures that she’s shared.
In the words
She writes.

The worst part of it all
Is how people treat her.
“It’ll be OK.
It’s just part of life.
You’re a Navy wife.”

Makes me want to bitch slap ‘em,
Knock their brains out of their heads.
They ain’t using those brains

She’s one of those I know,
Whose heart aches every day.
Whose soul cries tears of pain.
Until things just go numb.
And everything turns gray.

If I could,
I would.
Take that pain from her.
I’d carry it
As my own
For a time.
So she could have a break.
So she could catch her breath.
So she could finally smile.
If only for a little while.

There is a friend I know.
That denies she’s hurt.
She goes to church each Sunday.
And throughout the week.
She prays to God each day.

There’s nothing wrong with that
At all.
Never has been.
Never will be.

But she doesn’t see
The way the hurt she feels
Colors everything in life
For her.
She doesn’t see
The fear
That drives her every day.

There was her divorce.
When the one she loved
Betrayed her.
And abandoned her.
To raise their daughter
On her own.

Her Father
Whom she loved so much,
She still misses him.
Talks about seeing him once again
In Heaven up above.

“I have problems of my own”
She explains.
“Things I have to deal with.
Responsibilities in life.”
Then she smiles and says,
“I’ll pray for you.
That’s all that I can do.”

Did I tell you that she’s gone.
Avoids me completely.
I could speculate on why
For several days.
If that really mattered.

Would you stick around,
Call someone your friend,
When they wrote things on their blog
That you felt,
And believed,
Were attacking you,
And your faith in God?

I don’t blame her at all
For walking away
From someone like me.
She’s not the first that has.
She won’t be the last.

But I have to say.
‘Till my dying day,
If she ever asks for help
From me.
She’ll get it.

And if I could.
If there was a way.
I’d take away the pain,
And all the fear
I know she carries
In her heart
Each day.

Who would let a friend
Hurt that way?

Another friend of mine
Never lets you see
Anything she doesn’t want
For you to see
Of her.

She hides all her scars.
All her hurt.
And pain.
Behind a façade.
An image.
That she want’s you to believe
Is really her.

And everyone around her
Plays along.

She’s one of those
Social butterflies.
And all you ever see upon her face
Is a smile that says,
I’m fine.
I’m happy.
I’m OK.
Don’t you wish
You were as happy
As me?

But what happens to a wound
That’s left untreated?
A broken bone not set?
A cut left open and bleeding,
And never cleaned
And healed?

If I could,
I’d set her broken bones.
I’d clean and dress the wounds
That I see so clearly
In her heart and soul.

I know that time heals things.
It’s true.
But I also know
That things ignored,
Or buried in the past,
Have a way of one day
Coming out
On their own.

And I know from from my life
There’ll be hell to pay
When that happens.

Oh, if I could
I’d show my friends
The lessons I have learned.
In the hope,
And with the prayers,
They would not have to hurt
The way I have.

But I know
Each of us walks
A path through life
That’s unique.
That’s our own.

And I can’t change that.

But there is one thing
That I can do.
And after all the years
I’ve been granted
In this life.
I’m finally learning it.

I can let them know
They’re not alone.
That I understand the hurt
They’re in.

And I will always
Be their friend.
Even if they never
Speak with me