#ThursThreads Week 123 : Things You Wish You Hadn’t Done

We sat around the campfire, holding our paper and pens, wondering why we were awake at 3 o’clock in the morning. When we were all seated, Sergei commenced. “Now, we take the next step in freeing ourselves from the past.” He scribbled on his paper, “Start by naming your list.”

“But what’s it a list of?” Shelly always asked the first question.

Sergei answered “It doesn’t matter. What matters is what you feel in this moment, this heartbeat, this breath.”

I wrote, “Sergei’s Friggin’ List.”

When we’d all named our lists, Sergei continued. “Now, write a list of things you wish you hadn’t done. But you may not include things like I was born. List the things you regret doing.” He paused. “No sharing. The lists are private.”

I started my list with:

1. Letting people talk me into keeping that job.
2. Never telling Sarah how I felt.
3. The fights I had with my brother.
4. Never calling my Dad.
5. Losing Barbara.

I added things I could never forget. Mistakes I’d made throughout my life. Sergei waited until the last pen stopped moving.

“Now, it is time to let go of the past, stop letting it hurt you, stop letting it get in your way.”

Sergei burned his list in the fire. Then each of us did. And when the sun rose, I knew I’d finally cauterised the wounds my regrets had always carved in my heart and soul.

I was free.

239 Words

I wrote this for Siobhan Muir‘s #ThursThreads, Week 123. Please go read all the entries in this week’s #ThursThreads. They are good reading.


#55WordChallenge : The Fence – Part 23

“Alice is fine.”

I had to ask, “Alice is your mother?”

“Flint. Alice is our mother.”

Leighla laughed, and I saw a younger version of her. Long grey-black hair and deep brown eyes. She wore a headband that meant something, but I didn’t know what.

Taran smiled, “You’re remembering who you are, aren’t you, Flint.”

55 Words

This is part 23 of the serial story I’m working on for Lisa McCourt Hollar‘s #55WordChallenge flash fiction challenge. Please, go read all the other entries in the challenge this week. It’s flat amazing what gifted writers can say in just 55 words.

If you wish to read all the parts of the story, they are in order, from most recent to first, here.

There Are Days I Forget

There are days I forget.
Days I get lost.
Days like today.
When I feel empty.
When I feel wounded.
When I feel drained.
When I feel all wrong.

There are days I forget
This moment in time.
This place.
When I remember everything.
When I can’t find my way
Out of my past.
Out of what’s already done.

Other times
I get lost other ways.
Worrying about too many things
That haven’t happened.
That are not happening.
That may never be.
Lost in wondering about a future
That I can’t possibly know.
That I can’t possibly see.

And I can feel my jaw clinch.
And my pulse begin to race.
I can feel my anger build.
Fueled by all my fears.
And all the experiences
Of my life.

The seeds of self-doubt
Sewn so many years ago.
When everyone I knew
Told me I couldn’t be
Told me I had to be

It’s on days like this,
When I’m so lost.
So confused.
Remembering my past.
And worrying about things
That haven’t happened,
And may never be.

It’s on days like this
I have to sit down.
And stop.
And breath.
And close my eyes.
And remember.

This heartbeat.
This breath.

They taught me long ago
The air is invisible.
You can’t feel it.
You can’t see it.
How can you know it’s there?

Like so many things
I was taught
In the life that was,
What I learned
Was all a lie.

For I know
As I sit here on my own.
And I close my eyes.
And simply breathe.

I know.

I can feel the very air
All around me.

I can hold out my hands.
Spread my fingers out.
And I can feel the air
As it flows across my palms.
And between the fingers
Of my hands.

How can anyone believe
The air isn’t really there?
When you can touch it.
When you can feel it.

So I sit,
Silent and alone.
On the sofa
In my home.
And I close my eyes.
And breathe.
Just breathe.
And feel.
Everything my body feels.

And it only takes a few heartbeats
For my body to remind me
Of the truth.

All I have,
And all I am.
I now.

In this breath.
In this heartbeat.

And there is nothing else.

There is no past.
It’s gone.
It’s done.
No one anywhere
Can go back and fix
Anything that’s happened

No one anywhere
Can even fix what happened
In the last heartbeat.
In the last breath.

There is no future.
Because it hasn’t happened yet.
And while it’s possible
To extrapolate,
And project,
The events that might happen,
Based on what’s happened
In the past.

But there’s no way
To guarantee
What will happen
In your next heartbeat.

So I sit here.
And I breathe.
And I remember.
This breath.
This heartbeat.

I sit here
And remember

Time Only Flows One Way

I remember asking her
What she wanted.
I remember what she answered.
“I want my life back.”

Such a simple wish.
A wish I know
She’ll never have.

This world is not static.
It changes.
All the time.
Every day.

Study time.
The best we understand
Right now.
Time only flows one way.
And it may well be
There’s no going back.

Let’s be honest here.
She had breast cancer.
The surgeries.
The chemotherapy.
There is no way her world,
Her life,
Can ever be the same.
No matter how much
She tries to make it.

There is no going back.

She believes there is.
Like so many people
I have known.
So many I know now.

Like the one that’s divorced.
He left her
With their child.
To raise on her own.
I don’t care how you look at it.
She’s not who she was then.
She’s changed.

I suppose I could
Argue with myself
That what people really mean
When they say those words,
“I want my life back,”
Is that they really want
To be happy once again.
To feel safe.
To feel loved.
To feel whole.

The way they once did.

I wish I had some way
To explain to them
What I know now.
What I’ve learned.
Having walked through hell.
Having lost everything,
Save for my family.
And those few people I call
True friends.

Having had to make a choice
To start my life over
From the ashes of what was.

Was there any doubt
That I could not return?
My doctor knew.
My children knew.
My love knew too.
And deep down,
Even I knew.

I could not return
To the life I’d had.
To the work I’d done.
Because of one simple truth.

I’ve changed.

I know how that life works, now.
Why people do the things they do
In that land of gray.
That land of work.

I understand what was said to me
Back then.
When I didn’t understand at all
How that world worked.

And each day I ask the universe,
How badly are they hurt?
And will they ever know?

My soul cries tears of pain,
And my heart aches once again,
When I hear the answer
From the universe.
For most of them.
It’s no.

They’ll believe,
Like they do now.
That nothing’s wrong.
That everything’s the way
It’s meant to be.

And they’ll do anything
To keep the life they have.
The house.
The car.
The things.
The trappings of success.

It’s the way that world is.
The way it works.
Do what you have to.
Put up with the rules.
Put up with the politics.
Become a human resource.
And expendable part
In an economic machine.
So you can get the things you want.
And be safe.
And be secure.

Because that defines

And I can’t ever live
In that world again.
That’s why I can’t go back.

I see that world for what it is.

I’d rather have a new life.
A true life.
Where people matter.
Their hopes.
Their fears.
Their dreams.
Their wishes.

A world where people matter.
Where they care
For each other.
And aren’t afraid
Of what the company will think
If they take the time
To help a friend in need.
Of what the people around them
Will do.
How those people
Will behave.

I’ve abandoned that world.
It’s too much like the churches
I’ve abandoned too.

Where you have to be the same.
Feel the same.
Act the same.
Have the same values,
And beliefs.

I told my doctor, Monday,
The words she’d said to me.
And then I laughed
At the thought
Someone would want to go back
To how things used to be.

And then I couldn’t talk.
It was so very sad to me
That someone couldn’t really see
Things can never be the same.
That time only flows one way.

I can’t go back.
Even if I wanted to.
And I don’t want to
At all.

I’ll go with the flow
Of time.
And see what it is
The future holds
For me.

Because unlike what she said to me.
I don’t want my life back.
That life’s dead and gone.
It’s in my past.

I’ll keep moving on.
Making a new path.
In this new life
The universe
Has given me.

Feel. Now.

I’ve learned so much
In the past two years.
About the life
I’ve been blessed with.

I’ve learned that sometimes
I just get wrapped up
Remembering my past.
The things that went wrong.
The things that caused me pain.
The things that made my heart
Ache so very much.
And cause my soul
To shed so many
Tears of pain.

Other times
I get wrapped up
In the schedule for my life.
The things on the to do list
For today,
This week,
This month,
My life.
And I feel so frustrated.
As if there’s no me left.
Like everything is planned,
And the plan is who I am.

But I’ve learned
In these past two years,
On this journey I’ve been on,
That when I get wrapped up
In my memories,
Or plans.

It’s time to stop.
To take a moment.
And remember
The gift this life
Has given me.

It’s time to close my eyes.
And simply breathe.
And remind myself
Of now.
This heartbeat.
This breath.

It’s time for me to stop.
And feel.
Feel the air
Caress my skin.
Feel the heat or cold.
Feel the wind.
Smell the smells
Of this world
That we all live in.
Hear the words
Of those around me.

Feel my own body’s pulse.
My own heart’s beat.

And just remember
The priceless gift
Of life
That I’ve been given.

I’ve learned
Every time I do.
Every time I stop.
And feel.
And return to now.
This moment of time.
This heartbeat.
This breath.

That all the things
That stress me out.

Memories : This Heartbeat

It started in December.
Of 2010.
When I read a book.
And the author of that book
Wrote such simple words.

“Breathing in,
I am breathing in.
Breathing out,
I am breathing out.”

And slowly.
Things began
To fall into place.
To make sense.
For the first time
In many months.

And I started
To understand
What those words meant.
“Breathing in,
I am breathing in.
Breathing out,
I am breathing out.”

I began to realize
That when I felt down.
When I felt blue.
When I felt tense.
When I felt that stress
Across my chest.

It was time
For me to breathe.
Time for me to stop
Whatever I was doing.
And just breathe.

And that gave me
Time to think.
Time to clear my head.
Time to look
At what was going on.

I learned
To be here.
And now.
In this moment.
Not in the past.
Not in the future.
Not in anger.
Not in fear.
Not in depression.

I learned
To be here.

I learned
To smile.
To remember.
That I’m still alive.
That my heart still beats.
That my hands
Still feel everything.

I learned
That panic
Was not permanent.
It was only fear.

And anger
Was just a feeling.
Nothing more.

As I took the time
To breathe.
I learned the things  I felt
Were transient.
That over time
They change.

That everything changes.
And no matter where I was
In life in that moment.
The next moment
Could bring change.

That everything
That had happened
Up until that moment.
Was gone.
It could not hurt me.
Could not heal me.
Could not help me.
Could not scare me.
Any more.

For like a wave
On the ocean.
Once it comes ashore.
It’s gone.
And will return
Never more.

So today,
When I feel that fear.
That anger.
Or that emptiness.
I know.
Just to breathe.

And remind myself.
That it;s only transient.
And then it’s gone.
A part of my past.

And I am free
To face the moment
I am in.
Free to live
In this breathe.
In this heartbeat.

And that changed everything
For me.

One day at a time.

I write the words
Of this memory tonight.
For a friend of mine.
Whose heart aches these days.
Almost all the time.

I know what it is
When your heart aches.
And your soul
Cries tears of pain.

But maybe.
If you close your eyes.
And just take the time
To breathe.
And remember.

All any of us has
Is this heartbeat.
And nothing else.
Nothing more.

Perhaps that will help you
Like it has helped me.
To walk through your darkest days.
One step at a time.
One day at a time.
While the darkness
Fades away.

And once more
You find yourself
In the light
Of day.

A Choice For Me To Make

I’m here,
In this big, cushy chair.
Bleeding into a machine once more.
Using my Iconia 100
To surf the Net.

I was all. set
To monitor Facebook,
And watch music videos
On YouTube.
Like I always do
While I sit here
In this cushy chair,
Bleeding for 2 hours
Or so.

When who I was
16 months ago
Slapped me in the face.
For Facebook
In its desperate way
Of trying to find you friends
Found a name today
I never thought I’d ever
See again.

The name of the Lenten Rose.

I fing it very interesting,
As I sit here in this chair,
To observe the chaos
That’s cut loose
In my emotions.

The simple truth
Of the life that I have now
Is very clear,
And very rational
To me.

Every one I used to know
Told me I had to leave.
It’s what they wanted.
So breaking that silence
They imposed
Isn’t up to me.

Despite my curiosity,
I know what I will do.
I’ll let the silence
That I didn’t start
Remain in place.

For it strikes me
As what I should do.
And what the people
I once knew,
Would ask of me.

And I know too
That by doing so,
One of the last threads
Of who I used to be
Is finally gone from me.

And I am one step closer to
Who I really am.
And what I’m meant
To be.