Miranda Kate’s Mid-Week Challenge : 2017/06/11

“Tell me once more, Olivia. What do you see when you look in the mirror?” I’d asked the question a thousand times, and Olivia always gave me the same answer.

“Not what you want me to see, doc.” She shook her head, and looked into the mirror in the remains of her family home. “Not what you want me to see.”

“I know.” I took a deep breath. This wasn’t about fixing things. Fixing things was easy. No. This was about bringing the dead to life. “So, tell me, please. What do you see?”

Olivia stood from where she sat, legs crossed, on the barren, wooden floor. A floor desperately in need of repair. Cleaning wasn’t enough. The floor needed work. Lots of it. So did the walls, and the brick they were made of. Brick that once hid behind smooth, well kept plaster. She walked to the mirror, cracked and no longer held in its casing. Like the entire home, it was wasting away.

“He’s there, you know.” She pointed at the remains of the mirror. “He’s there. Waiting for me.”

As the house wasted away, so did Olivia. Every since that day, so long ago, when the car came around the corner too fast. Jonathan had been playing, dancing to a sound only he heard. “He told me it was the piano from Beauty and The Beast.” She always cried when she spoke the words. “He moved right in time with it. I could hear the music as he danced.”

She collapsed to her knees, and once more was consumed by tears and grief. “He’s there. I see him dancing in the mirror.”

The car came around the corner too fast. The driver crossed into the other side of the road, aimed straight at an oncoming car.

Olivia stared into the mirror. “It’s there. In the mirror. Over and over again. My boy. Dancing.”

The oncoming car had nowhere to go. The fast car struck it head on. Parts flew in all directions. Glass from windshields, parts of headlights, side view mirrors, plastic and urethane from car bodies. Radiator fluid. All of it. Everywhere.

“He never got to say good-bye.”

All of it. Right next to Jonathan.

“He never got to look at me.”

Some of the parts from the collision had struck the boy. Olivia had seen it all. Seen her son stop dancing, the music of the song stop playing, as Jonathan was yanked in strange directions by the shrapnel from the wreck.

Then, before she could even scream, the momentum of the collision pushed both cars straight into Jonathan. The boy never had a chance.

Olivia stared into the mirror. “He’s there. Waiting.”

I’d been trying to reach her every since. Trying to help her through her grief. Through her sorrow. Not to heal her, for I knew, there are some wounds that never heal. Like the loss of a limb, or the ability to walk, or talk, or hear. Olivia had lost part of herself.

On that day, when those cars collided, and Jonathan died, so did Olivia’s heart. So did her soul. All that was left was an empty shell, slowly decaying, like the house she never left.

And I wondered, as I had every day for three years, if her heart and soul had died, was there any way to bring her back to life?

563 Words

Miranda Kate‘s weekly short fiction challenge is in it’s 14th week. You can read about the challenge here. As I do every week, I wonder where the words I have written came from. How this started as a picture, and a song, and wound up where it did, I may never understand. But, I’m OK with that. Please, go read Miranda’s short tale this week, and any others that show up. They are always little works of art, crafted with words, meant to be shared, and enjoyed.

#MWBB 24 : You Know I’m No Good

She was just one of an endless string of people in my life who never understood why I did what I did. Another in an endless string of people I wounded, disturbed, and left in confusion, tears and pain. That’s who I am. I’m no good.

She asked me on that Sunday in November, “Why? Why did you un-friend everyone from the church?” I’d expected her to ask. And I knew she’d never understand, never figure it out. Just like I knew I could explain what I’d done a million times, and she still wouldn’t understand.

But I tried to explain anyway. I’m stupid that way. Or, perhaps, I’m optimistic that way. Yeah. I’m a stupid optimist. That works.

“I didn’t leave because I don’t like them.”

“Then why did you leave?”

“To protect them.”

“To protect them? Protect them from what?”


I knew what was coming. I knew what would happen. The same thing that always happened. I’d learn to live a lie, behaving as expected in the group, so no one would be disturbed, or upset, by me. That’s how I cope with people. I figure out what they want me to become, how they want me to behave, and I become that. Because that makes them happy. That shuts them up. That gets them to leave me alone, and not say to me, endlessly, “But, you can’t be that way!” I would rip my heart and soul to ribbons to blend in, and keep them safe.

And if I decided to not blend in, behaved as me, who I really am, to say what I believe, live like I believe, well. That would leave everyone in her church asking, “What’s wrong with him?” and “Doesn’t he know he can’t be like that?” and “Doesn’t he know that’s wrong?”

They’d have never accepted my writing, especially when I wrote anything explicit. Men and women having sex is something church people don’t write about. Especially when they’re exploring different aspects of sex, trying things out. That’s disturbing and disruptive to them. Besides, that’s something church people just don’t do, and don’t condone, or accept in others. So, just by exploring things to write, I’d have wound up at odds with every person in her church.

I’d shut down my writing before. I gave my word to God, to life, I wouldn’t shut it down again.

Then there were the people I talked to, associated with, on the Internet. Gay rights supporters. Openly homosexual people, bisexual people, transsexual people. People of different races, colors, creeds, religions. Even self-proclaimed witches, pagans, and atheists. I could certainly talk to such people and not hear about it in church, not be criticized in church, not be told, “We’ll pray for you.”

I tried. I did. I tried to explain everything. Why I left. Why I put myself out of the reach of the people of her church. But she never understood. All she said was what I knew she would say.

“You can’t be that way.”

She never understood I am that way, and can’t be any other way. She never understood I’m broken, and no good. And now, she’s one of the endless list of people I’ve hurt, and left wounded, in my life. A list that grows, endlessly. Because no matter how I try, I can’t explain to anyone why I do what I do, why I am how I am. No one ever understands.

And I can’t live that lie of blending in any more. I can’t tear my heart to ribbons, or crucify my soul. I tried that for three decades. That blending in, and being safe, nearly killed me. Oh, I know. People tell me, “There was nothing wrong with you. You just had your through processes screwed up, that’s all.” They literally can’t understand, my thought processes aren’t screwed up. They’re different.

I’m different.

And in their world, I’m broken. And no good.

660 Words

My entry, in all its unedited glory, for week 24 of Jeff Tsuruoka‘s Mid-Week Blues-Buster flash fiction challenge. Please, go read the other entries in the challenge.

Can I Ever Change?

I stopped looking for a job
To replace the one that’’s gone
In January of 2012.

I haven’’t looked since then.

My doctor has tried
To convince me to start
A small business
Of my own.
Since January of 2011.

I haven’’t.

I ask people
All the time.
“What are you afraid of?”
Because I know.
I can see the fear in them.
The way they try
To avoid pain.
Of any kind.
Of every kind.

And yet,
I wonder.
Why am I still here?
Doing nothing.
No longer looking.
No longer planning.
Just here.

Sometimes, I remember.
I remember the hurt.
The pain.
How I felt betrayed.
By everyone I worked with.

I remember the anger.
How I spent weeks.
Miles and miles.
Day after day.
Blistered heels.
Blistered toes.

I lost three toenails.

I remember the countless times
I pulled off my shoes
And saw blood
On my socks.

My blood.

I remember
How it never hurt.
Not even once.
How I never felt the pain
In my toes.
In my heels.

All I felt
Was the pain
In my heart and soul.

And I know.
I know.
Why I have stopped looking
For a job.

Sometimes I ask,
“If the last job you had
Drove railroad spikes
Through your hands and feet,
Ripped your fingernails
Off your fingers
With pliers,
Used a barbed whip
On you back
Until you felt nothing at all,
No pain.
If your last job
Did that to you,
Would you ever
Try again?”

I know why I stopped looking.
Why I may never look again.

I know too
Why I haven’’t struck out
On my own.
Why I keep saying,
Someday I’’ll start a business.
Of my own.

I look at all the things
I’’d have to do.
Have to learn.
And I’’m not sure at all
I want to.

And yes.
I am afraid.
Afraid to even try.
But there’’s so much more than that.
I could fail.
Could fall on my sword.
But that’s not what’’s stopping me.
There’’s something more.

I’’ve always been a failure.
In my eyes.
Never once believed in me
In my life.
I don’’t even believe
I can write.

And if I’’m worthless.
If I’’m the failure
I believe I am.

How can I even try?

I know what I’’m afraid of.

And I wonder.
Every single day.
Can I ever change?

Can I ever change?

Things Just Seem So Backwards To Me

I got home from work today.
Having dealt with people
And their broken computers
For five solid hours.

I found myself thinking
How people could get so upset
About a dang machine.
That’s all it is.
If it breaks,
You deal with it.

And I heard myself think,
“Get over it, people.”

And those four words
Suddenly clicked into place.
And I understood something
That I’ve never understood

Words a dear friend told me
Several times.
In May, June, and July.
Words she spoke many times.
About just moving on
With life.

I didn’t understand.

And I remember
When someone I once knew
Had cancer.
And was fighting for her life.
How I got told
By everyone.
Including her.
To not care too much.

I didn’t understand.
At all.

It’s taken me two years.
But I finally have a clue
To what everyone
Tried to say.
What they all just

That when something happens
To someone
In this world
I never made.
They’ve learned
To just move on.

I can see that now.
That they just believe
There’s nothing they can do.
That these things just happen.
And you deal with them.
And you just move on.

You just get over it.

As that piece of life
Fell into place
I remembered too
How I reacted
To all of them
Two years ago.

And I know.
I know.

I’d do the same thing

Because I understand
The value
Of the people
That I know.
I know they’re real.

They are not constructs.
Made by mortal men.
Each is a life.
A gift.
From this universe.

But a phone.
A computer.
Or any other device.
Is just that.
A device.
We made them.

They are part
Of our economy.
Another thing we’ve made.
Part of or society.
Which we also made.

And suddenly
I realized that once again
I was backwards
From the world.

In that I understand
What’s real
Has not been made
By Man.
But is a gift
From life.
That we can’t duplicate.
That we can’t explain.

And I also realize
Yet again.
That the things we can’t explain
Are the very things
That people pretend
Aren’t real.
And don’t exist.

I find myself sitting here,
Remembering words I wrote
More than a year ago.
About how the life we lead
Is backwards.

How we place more value
On the things we have created.
Our countries.
Our economy.
Our industries.
Our money.
Our treasures.
Our homes.
Our cars.
And our computers.

All the things
We’ve made.

That we place
On the life
We’ve been blessed with.
The life
That we’ve been given.

Leaving me to ask once more.
When did we lose our way?

When did it become so wrong
To care about the people
That you know.
So that when they’re hurt,
Or sick,
Or ill.
Your own heart and soul
Know pain?

I thought that was how
Life was supposed to be.
I thought we mourned the loss
Of people that we knew.
That we healed with time.
And learned to face the truth
That they were gone.

I thought we helped
The people that we know.
When they need our help.
When their hearts and souls
Cry tears of pain.

I thought we showed the people
In our lives
That we care for them.

But in these past 2 years
I’ve come to understand
That things don’t really
Work that way.
In this world
I never made.

That instead,
We defend our own.
Our lives.
Our things.
Our families.
Our jobs.
Our homes.

Even if the person
That we’ve worked with
For more than ten years.
Gets laid off one day.
Gets diagnosed with cancer.
Or even hit by a truck.

We wish them good-bye.
We tell ourselves
We care.

And then we carry on
With our jobs.
Our cars.
Our homes.
Our lives.

And everything we’ve made.

So once more
I find myself
Asking God above
To not give up
On anyone I’ve ever known.
On anyone that I know now.

For I know
He never once
Gave up on me.

If he had.
I wouldn’t be here now.

Fear Of Writing

I try to write something.
At least one thing.
Every day I am alive.
And then I try to post it
On my blog.

Hell, I wouldn’t even care
If the only thing I wrote
Was a simple Haiku.
Just 17 syllables long.

I started this project
On July the First of
And I’ve tried to stick with it
Every day since then.

I’ve failed.
Like this past week.
When there were several days
I didn’t write
One damn thing.

Sometimes, I know
That it’s hard to write.
To come up with an idea
Every day.

Sometimes, I wonder.
Am I out of dreams?
Have I made all the wishes
That I will ever make?
Am I out of things to say?

Sometimes I feel as if
No one would notice
If I were to stop.
If I were to go away.
And never write
A single thing.
Ever again.
In this life that I’ve been given.

But then I realize
That what I feel
Is just that.
It’s what I feel.
It may not be real.

It’s simple fear.

Fear that what I write
Is nothing more than junk.
That I’m wasting my time
By trying to write
Anything at all.

Fear that what I write
All says the same thing.
But disguises what I’m saying
With different words.
And different characters.
And different settings.
But that underneath all that
Everything I write
Is the same.

That my writing never changes.

And my greatest fear of all.
That what I write
Will never be read.
By anyone.

I am afraid in fact,
That every word I write
Will be examined.
And then analyzed.
By the people I work for.
And that those people
Will use the things I write
As a weapon against me.

Like they have before.

It’s times like these
When I am filled with doubt,
And hounded by my fear,
That I have to stop.
And find my way back to
My own center
Once again.

I’m learning how
To close my eyes.
And breathe,
For a little while.

And as I breathe,
Calm returns to me.
And I can recognize
The fears I have
For what they are.

Transient feelings,
And nothing more.

Then, I rest a bit.
As I examine my own fears.
And slowly turn back
Into their midst.
So that I can get past them
Once more.

Because the truth is
That I write.
I always have.
I always will.

Writing’s just another part
Of my very heart and soul.
And if I don’t write
I can’t be whole.

So I take care
Of the fears I have.
Working through them all.
Until once more
I can pick up my pen
And write once again.

All I Wish To Be

I told her once
That I could see the scars
Upon her heart and soul.
That I could see
She had been badly hurt.

There are things
I did not say.
Things that my own heart,
And my own soul
Say to me.

I have seen that hurt
Many times before.
I know what causes it.
I know there was a time
When she loved someone.
And maybe that someone
Once loved her.

But something happened.
Something changed.
Or something
Never really worked.
And the one she trusted
With her heart
Left her.

I don’t need to know why.
I don’t need to know when.
I don’t need to know
How many tears she cried.

All I need to know
I can see
In the scars that are right there
Upon her heart,
Upon her soul.
That I can’t help but see.

I know too many people
That would ignore
What they see.
What their hearts tell them
Is the truth.
What their hearts
Would have them do.

They would not even try
To help.
Because they believe
There is nothing
They can do.
Except to perhaps
Get hurt

“There’s nothing I can do.”
I’ve heard those words
My entire life.
“I can’t be hurt like that
I’ve heard those words
“I don’t need
That kind of pain
In my life.”

I understand those words.
I really,
Truly do.
And it is not my way
To ask anyone
To do anything
They do not believe
That they should do.

But I know too
That there are things
That I can do.
If I only believe
That I can.

You see,
There is a gift
That life has given me.
A magic way
Of using words.
To capture dreams.
And make them real.

And I can use that gift
To create dreams
That I can share
With her.
And with others
That I cannot help
But see.

Upon their hearts
And souls.

And I can use another gift
That life has given me.
The gift of my autistic ways.
To find a way
To extend the hand
Of a friend
To her.

For I would call her

And it would not do at all
I think
If she were to be
Afraid of me.
Afraid that I
Might hurt her
In the way
That caused the scars I see
Upon her heart
And soul.

I will find a way
To take the time it takes
For her,
And others like her,
To understand
That all I want
Is to be a friend.

And that’s all I wish
To be.

Memories : Good Old Mark (2)

Good Old Mark struck
Many times on that trip
To Syria.

There was the day the group
Made the trip
To the swimming hole
Up in the mountains.
My little Pinto and me
Leading the way.

It’s interesting to lead the way
When  you have no idea
Where the heck you’re going.
Even more so
When you don’t get lost,
And drive right to the place
Using only the instructions
Someone gave to you.

Like I said.
It’s damn hard to get me lost.

As we walked the trail
To the swimming hole,
No one really said
A single word to me.
Funny thing about that.
I had to be out front
Of the entire group.
Leading the way
To that dang place.

I didn’t even want to go.
Had no intention
Of swimming at all.
But, at least I could
Climb around on rocks,
And in the mountains
For a bit.

All alone.

Just before you get
To that swimming hole,
You have to climb a slope.
Climb being the word.
It’s about a 70 degree steep hill.

Even I needed to grab
The occasional tree.
It’s sort of like
Going uphill
On your hands and knees.

Of course,
Statistically speaking,
Everyone should understand
That going up is the easy part.
Going down’s
Where people get hurt.

I have always wondered
About the intelligence
Of people in a group.
And I wondered much
About it on that day.
What can you think
When you deal with people
That jump head first
Off a rock up in the air,
Into a pool of water
In the mountains.

“It’s deep enough,”
They all said.
Yeah right…
At least no one wound up dead.

I spent that entire time
That they were at the swimming hole,
Climbing around.
I was the only person
In the group
That climbed to the top
Of the little water fall
That formed the hole.

It was a pretty view
From up there.
I got to see a pretty mountain stream
Flowing through the trees.
With many shades of green
From all the leaves
Reflecting off the water
As it flowed.

I got to watch
The patterns in the water
Where it flowed
Over big rocks.
It’s always mesmerizing
To watch the water flow
Over the rocks.
Making patterns
That are ever changing.

I got to see the way
The color of the water changes
As it flows.
Going from shallow areas
To deeper ones.

No one else
In the whole group
Got to see what I saw
On that day.
No one else cared to.
They were having fun
Being social
In a group.

What’s that all about anyway?
I don’t know.
I never have.
Most likely never will.
It’s one of those big
Mysteries of life
To me.

I do know, though
That sometimes people
Do some stupid things
They would never do
If they were alone
When they’re in a group.

I wonder lots about that too.
Why things are that way.
That’s yet another
Mystery to me.

The leader of the group.
The one that held the meetings,
To work out all the plans
For the entire trip.
Decided it was time
For us to head back to
The retreat in Syria.

She headed toward the hill
That lead back to the trail
That we’d followed
To the swimming hole.

You know dang well
That I went right along
With her.
There was that big damn hill
That we’d had to climb
To get to the swimming hole
In the first place.

I loved that lady dearly.
To be sure
I loved everyone
In that entire group.
Even though sometimes
It felt like they hated me.

But the leader
Was a friend.
She’d taken time
To talk with me
Every now and then
Over the years.

And I knew
She wasn’t the most coordinated
Person that I’d ever met.
So I knew that it made perfect sense
For me to climb down
That big hill
With her.

Couldn’t let her get stuck
On that hill you know.
Or maybe slip,
And hurt herself.
I took care of my friends
Back then.
I still do now.
Even though sometimes
I just doesn’t show.

We took it nice and slow
Going down that hill.
I stayed right with her
Every step of the the way.
I could tell
That the descent
Made her nervous.
It was an observation thing.

The way a person moves
Very cautiously.
Very detailed.
Making sure their feet
Are always someplace safe.
And their hands
Are holding on
To something.

I could tell too
That she was glad
To have the company
On that climb
Back down that hill.

It’s what I do.
What I’ve always done.
What I always will.
I try my best,
And always have,
To take care
Of all my friends.

That’s how friends
Are supposed to be.

As we got to the bottom
Of that steep descent.
She relaxed a lot.
I could see the stress
Fall away from her.
She had a smile
That was to die for.
And such pretty eyes.

Being me, and the way I am,
I never mentioned that
At all.
Not even once.
In all the years
That I knew her.

I didn’t know how.
Not back then.

We smiled at each other.
The way friends do.
The way friends are
Supposed to.
Especially when
They trust each other.
Like we did.

And she said to me
Right then.
“Good old Mark.
Thank you.
Just for being you.”

It took me many years
To understand
Why she said those words
That I hate so very much.
“Good Old Mark.”
God, but I hate those words.

It’s alright.
She didn’t know.
I never told a soul
What those words
Meant to me.
How much they cut
Into my heart and soul.

I know she didn’t mean
To cause me any hurt.
For I know
She thought of me
As a friend.
As someone she could
Always depend on.
In that group of people
On that trip.

And I know
That she meant the words she spoke
As a compliment.
And a true
Thank you.

It was her way
Of thanking me.
For taking the time
To make sure
She got down that hill

And it was perhaps
An acknowledgment
Of how much the entire group
Depended on me
On that trip.

Even though no one
Spoke of it.

I remember her
Very fondly.
One of the few friends
That I had
Back in those days.

I’ve had so few friends
In my life

When I close my eyes
And think of things
From the days back then.
I can still remember
The texture of her
Blond hair.
The magic light
That I saw in her her eyes.
And the beauty
Of her smile.

And I still wonder sometimes
If she ever understood
How much I hated,
And still hate,
Those simple words,
“Good old Mark.”