#FlashMobWrites 1×23 : Carrion Flowers

I turn the volume up and listen,
As the music screams inside my head,
“Criminal
The Suffering
It makes me think like a
Criminal
When we’re alone.”

And I am alone.
I’m always alone.
I walk, in silence.
One mile down.
Two to go.
I embrace my isolation.
It’s all I truly have.

Gray clouds fill the sky.
There is anger in them.
Bottled up.
Trapped.
Seeking a way out.
An escape.
Release.

I can taste the water in the air.
Feel it on my skin.
Thick.
Clinging.
It would push most people indoors.
Not me.

I feel the grin on my face.
The gleam in my eyes.
“Bring it!
Bring the pain!”

The music changes,
Then changes again,
And again.
Never ending.
I hear the words once more.
I more than hear them.
I feel them.

“This is where I redeem myself
When I show that I’m not blind.
Can’t follow the cattle people.
Not one of the Kine.”
The beat,
The rhythm,
Drives each step.

Who cares how many steps.
Who cares how long it takes.
Who cares what I have to do.
What the day brings.
Work.
Life.
It all falls away.

And I feel.
Escape.

The second mile falls.
With it, the damage in my shoulder
Begins to talk to me.
Another would take the five-pound weight
Hanging on his wrist
Off.

I’m not another.
I hold on to the pain.
I know what it means.
Why it’s there.
And I know,
Like the walk.
The pain is all I have.

I focus on the music,
The rhythm,
The beat.
Walk to the beat.
To the beat.
To the beat.

I hold on to the pain.
Knowing the truth.
It won’t kill me.
Unless I let it.

And come the next day,
As I walk once more,
That pain will be gone.
All that will remain is a memory
Of what it took,
What I had to endure,
To survive.

In a life
On a world
I never made.

333 Words
@LurchMunster


This is my entry into #FlashMobWrites 1×23, hosted by Ruth Long and Cara Michaels. Please, go read all the stories in for #FlashMobWrites 1×23. You might find something you like. But if you don’t read them, how will you ever know?

Commentary : A Rough Time

I’ve had a hard week. If I was a mythic night of old, I’d say the dragons won this week, and I lost. But I’m not, and life’s not that simple, and clean-cut. Life has oceans of colors, not just black and white. Not yes or no. It’s not binary.

Life’s complicated.

Today, as I left my Doctor’s office, he reminded me, “You can call during the week. Any time during the week. If you need help to get through the rough parts.” He knows I won’t, unless I’m desperate.

I want, desperately, to learn to stand on my own. To learn to face the life that causes me such distress. To learn to live. Feel. Laugh, cry, dance, sing, play, care, sit silently, alone, help. I want to learn all the things I never learned.

My doctor knows I will face whatever comes. Not because I’m strong. Not because I’m proud. Not because I’m not afraid.

Because I want to learn.

Because I want to grow.

There are times I feel like an infant in a giant world. Like I just woke up from a decades long sleep, and have to learn how to live in a strange, new world. A work I don’t always understand. A world that hurts everyone.

Yes, I suffer from depression. No, it’s not something I can decide I don’t have. It’s a biochemical imbalance, aggravated by the life I see around me every day. It’s a serotonin imbalance, coupled with autistic wiring of my nervous system and brain cells. It’s so many things.

Then I remember what I see around me every day. I remember I’m awake. I’m aware. I’m learning. I’m growing. In a world filled with people who are sleeping. I remember I’m in a world filled with people who stopped growing long ago.

It used to make me angry when someone I worked with said they leave the job behind when they walk out of the building. They pronounced they work with this stuff 8 hours a day, 5 days a week, and that was enough. They couldn’t and wouldn’t touch it at home.

I always answered them, “Go ahead. Stand still. It makes you easier to run over.” No one understood. They just looked at me like I was crazy, and declared not everyone was nuts like I was.

My doc and I have spoken of this very topic. He’s very much aware of the way people stop learning, growing, maturing. They fought through 12 years of education. Then four or more years of college. Then through any testing and certifications they had to have for their profession. Then, they fought for the job they wanted. The one they’d worked for all their lives. And when they got it. When they became successful. They stopped. As if they’d reached the end of the journey, and had no where left to go.

When I think of that, of what it means, of what it says about people, my heart aches. And my soul cries tears of sorrow, tears of despair. And my depression grows. For to me, those people are waiting to die. Waiting for the end. Waiting for the working part of life to end, so they can enjoy retirement, and wait, in retirement, for the end of life to come for them.

I pray to God as I understand and believe God is, and to the universe, and to life, for all those around me to wake up, though I know most never will. And most of those who wake up will push themselves back to the peaceful escape of endless sleep.

I won’t contact my doctor unless I find I am unable to find my way through this week. Or the next. Or the one after that. Instead, I’ll use all I’ve learned, and practice, and grow, until I learn to stand, and walk through life, as I continue along the path life has for me.

And I’ll cry a million tears across countless nights, for those who stopped somewhere along their own journeys through this life, and are lost somewhere in time, and don’t even know it.

Commentary : I Hide

It’s Wednesday. The day I have my weekly session with my doctor. There are several things we agreed about today. Several things I finally said. I’ve avoided saying them for nearly four years.

“This winter tore me up.”

“This winter was hard on a lot of people.”

I felt like saying, “Yeah, doc. I know.” I didn’t. I did what I always do. I thought first. I searched through my scripts. My databases. My knowledge. For the right thing to say. There wasn’t any right thing to say. I was in psychotherapy. And my doc knows how my mind works. He knows what I’m thinking.

“This winter tore me up bad.”

“I know, Mark.”

I thought of her. My spouse. My best friend. She whom I’d willingly die to protect. She without whom I’d be hopelessly lost. “She doesn’t know.”

My doctor nodded. “No. She doesn’t,” he put his papers down. “No one knows.”

“Yeah.”

“You hide.”

“Yeah. I hide.” I’d never admitted that. Never.

“And you’re damn good at it.” He doesn’t smile much, when we’re talking. He didn’t smile then. “You’ve had a lot of practice.”

“Yeah. I hide.” I knew there was no sense in hiding that truth from him. He already knew it. “I always have. I learned to. I had to learn to. I learned to hide. To keep what I feel, what I think, what I believe, hidden. I learned to observe. To tear apart. To analyze. To study. To build programs. Scripts. How to appear normal. How to blend in. Because I learned, if I did that, if I followed the scripts, and blended in, everyone shut the fuck up, and left me the hell alone.”

“I know.”

I wasn’t finished. “They stopped saying, ‘You can’t be like that. You can’t live like that. You can’t be that way.’ They shut up. And left me alone.”

We were silent for a bit. Only a minute. Maybe a hair more. Until I spoke again. “I’m going to take a walk in the morning.”

“Good! You need it.”

“Yeah. I need it.” I sat there, on the sofa in his office, as I have far more times than I can count, and I finally spoke the truth. “I don’t walk 5 and 6 miles because it doesn’t hurt.”

“I know.”

“I walk because I have to walk.”

He sat there, waiting for me to continue. We both knew he’d do that. We both knew why. “I have to walk. It’s how I cope.” I could have stopped there, but it was time to bring the truth out. “It’s how I cope with the anger. The frustration. The stress. Of living in this world.”

“I know. And it’s good. You need to walk.”

“She doesn’t understand. No one understands.”

“I know.”

Yeah. These aren’t the exact words we spoke today. But they’re close. I told him of the time I posted a message on Facebook. “I said no one knows. No one understands. How hard it is for me to keep going. To keep dealing with this.”

It’s true.

No one understands. Oh, people think they do. You have no idea how many people think they do. But, unless you’ve lived through this. Unless you face this in your life. You have no idea.

I the past few years I’ve found a few special people. They understand. They live with this same nightmare, or another nightmare like it.

I hide. Because the truth still stands. If I hide. If I put up a façade. If I blend in, and appear close to normal. People shut up. And leave me alone. They talk to me. They spend time with me. They don’t understand the person they think I am is a lie. Isn’t real. Isn’t me.

She knows I need to walk. She knows there are times I have to walk. She’s even said, “Walk. I’ll be here when you get back.” She knows. And I know it disturbs her. Especially when I’m wounded so visibly she says, “Go for a walk.”

I wish there were words, magic, miracles, anything at all, that would let me explain why I walk to her. Let me show her that I HAVE to walk. And I have to walk for miles. I have to walk, even if it hurts.

Do you know what it’s like to walk seven miles, or more, in August, when the sun is burning the grass, and it hasn’t rained in weeks, and you can see the heat coming off the asphalt streets, and the humidity is so high you feel like you could cut the air with a knife.

Yeah.

It hurts.

But I have to walk.

It’s walk. Or go insane.

You have no idea. You really have no idea. The price I pay. Every day. To live in a world I never made.

#VisDare 39 : Adore

The next morning, after we’d eaten, Alice and I took a walk. We left Old Phoenix, and walked beyond the boardwalk, and the houses in the hills. We walked along the edge of the lake.

“Where are we going?” She squeezed my hand.

“Where the Eagles said I should take you.” I loved the way her hand felt in mine. I loved the way the sunlight brought out the color of her eyes, and the highlights in her hair.

As we walked beside the lake, an old woman came out of the brush, and watched us. “Who are you?” I asked.

She just smiled at me. “You are the one.” She bowed her head, then spoke to Alice, “He is the one.” She looked to the sky, “He is the one.”

All we heard was the piercing cries of eagles, though none were visible in the sky.

148 Words
@LurchMunster


This is part 25 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.

Remember The Magic

I wrote these words last night, after I got home. I wrote them for a friend. The math told me I needed to share these words with her. And being who I am, I did. She wrote back, a brief little note, and said I should share these words with everyone.

Well, this afternoon, I just got home. And the math told me second friend could use a note from me. So, I’m sharing what I wrote last night. I’ve modified it as little as possible to keep names out of it. Otherwise, this is what I shared with a wounded friend last night.

Just because that’s what’s friends do in the world that ought to be.

Mark.


IMG_2796Oh, dear.

My friend. You make me wish I could give you a big hug, and take you on a long outing at the Botanical Garden. I’d do it. In a heartbeat.

I am not “physically” disabled. I have a 100% functional body. I can walk most people into the ground. Even at my age. I can hold a camera still long enough to take pictures at 35X optical zoom without a tripod. I can mow my own lawn. I can stand on my feet all day at Geek Squad.

I am, however, “disabled.” There are parts of life I simply don’t understand. I’ve told my doc, it’s like I’m deaf. It’s like I can’t hear that part of life that is “social”. I’ve explained to people, “It’s not that I do anything special. It’s not that I’m caring. Or tender. Or any of that stuff. It’s that I don’t have the social constraints most people have. So, for me, it’s all “math”. It’s all observation, and appropriate response. If I’m hurting, don’t I want attention, and help? Or at least someone to say, “I know.” So if someone I see is hurting, what’s the appropriate thing for me to do?”

And somehow, this gets people to call me, “caring, kind, and tender-hearted.”

I’ve told my Doc, “Isn’t this how things are supposed to be?”

So, when I see you write about how you are still getting used to your disabilities, and the reality that you can’t do certain things, my heart tells me I should take time, and say, “Hi!” and make sure you’re OK.

I have never, in this life, been understood. I’m married to a wonderful lady. I’ll never change that. I love her too much. But there are many “features” of me she does not understand. In her words, “I’ve grown used to them.”

One thing I’ve learned in the past 3 years. One truth that’s been hammered into me over, and over, and over.

People are blind to life. They are. Every morning, driving to work, they don’t see the flowers growing by the side of the road. They don’t see the clouds in the sky, or the way the sun reflects off of them. They don’t see the rays of sunlight shining through the clouds. They don’t see the birds flying just above the trees. They don’t see that occasional deer in the field.

They are blind. They don’t see the gifts we are all given, every day. Every day.

They never stop, walking across the parking lot at work, to feel the breeze flowing through their fingers. To feel the sun on their faces. To hear the birds singing, or the leaves of the trees rustling as the breeze passes through them.

They are blind.

They never walk through the flowers of the Botanical Garden. Without time constraints. Taking however long it takes. They don’t stop, and watch the butterflies. They never watch the bees moving from one flower to the next, pollinating the trees. They never watch the ducks, or geese, as they lazily swim around on the lakes.

They are blind.

Did you know, if you really try, if you sit quietly, close your eyes, and just listen, and you keep listening long enough, you can hear yourself breathe. I do that all the time. Did you know, if you practice, and you learn to listen to the things your body tells you, you can feel your own pulse. Your own heartbeat.

I know these things. I see them every day. I know the magic that is life. The magic of watching a 5-year-old cat sleep on your lap. Of watching the clouds as they slowly move, and change, in the sky. Of watching the neighbors dog chase a butterfly, not wanting to catch it, or kill it. Just wanting to chase it, and play with it. Of watching a wild rabbit carefully pick the best weeds growing in the yard, and eat them. Of watching a baby bunny grow through summer, becoming a rabbit able to survive on its own. Of watching a momma duck lead her tiny little ducklings to a lake.

I know the magic of seeing Camellia trees in full bloom in January, in the snow. When people tell me, “It’s cold. And there’s nothing out there to see.”

I know the magic of stretching out on my sofa, with the window curtains pulled aside, and the sun shining through them, on to me. Of taking a nap in that sunshine.

The magic is there. Every day. All I have to do is stop. And look. I don’t have to look for it. All I have to do is look around. It’s there. Everywhere.

People are blind. They can’t see that. They don’t know the magic’s there. They think I’m crazy. Or strange. Or broken in some way.

I’m not.

If I were there, I’d give you a great big hug. Then, even if I had to sit you in a wheelchair, and carry a 2 liter bottle of water with me, I’d take you on a long walk through the roses, the butterflies, and the flower gardens at the botanical garden. I’d stop any time you wanted. I’d let you look all you wanted. I’d let you feel the sun. The breeze.

I’d just appreciate the gift you are, my friend.

We are all different. We are all unique.

Smile, you. That’s the greatest gift of all. The gift of a smile.

#VisDare 18 : Inspect

As we walked through Old Phoenix, Alice shared a story. “When I was a little girl I didn’t know about the animals. My mother took me to the pier, and we walked all the way to its end. She closed her eyes, and thought real hard, and a big fish jumped out of the water, onto the pier. It looked at me, and I heard it in my head. It said, ‘Hello, Alice.’ I studied that fish from mouth to tail, and couldn’t find anything that made it talk. But I heard the fish again, ‘Please don’t eat us,’ it said.’ That was the day I learned to talk with the animals.”

Alice held my hand as we walked. She didn’t say anything, but I heard her ask, “Will you stay with us, in Phoenix?”

“Yes, Alice. I will stay with you.”

145 Words

@LurchMunster


This is the 14th piece in a continuing story I’m working through for Angela Goff’s Visual Dare. Please read the other entries in this week’s Visual Dare challenge.

#MondayMixer : I Had This Dream

I don’t normally remember my dreams, but when I woke up Sunday, I remembered one. I’ve tried to figure it out, but it just doesn’t make any sense. I’ve asked my doc what he thinks it mean. He just shook his head.

In the dream I was walking through a grassland. Sucker was bone flat in every direction. I was dragging a red wagon behind me. And ever mile I’d stop, and pull a harmonium out of the wagon, play “Twinkle, twinkle little star” and “Chopsticks”, then put it back in the wagon, and start walking.

As I walked, I made vengeful comments, like, “I’ll get George for this. Just you wait.” Or “I’m going to put frozen vodka ice cubes in his soda at work!” But I don’t know anyone named George.

Do you have any idea what my dream means?

150 words.
@LurchMunster


I wrote this little ditty for Jeffery Hollar‘s weekly Monday Mixer flash fiction challenge. Please, go read all the other entries in this week’s challenge. They are all well crafted.