Alone

It was Sunday evening, and the pleasant scent of grilled chicken, roasted red potatoes, and steamed asparagus drifted comfortingly through the air. Candles flickered silently on the table, and all that could be heard were the hushed clinks of silverware against plates piled with food. 

She looked up quietly in hopes of catching his eye, but he continued to stare blankly down at his own plate of food, seemingly content with the overwhelming silence that surrounded them. Her shoulders drooped and her gaze fell. She straightened up. She didn’t want to seem too visibly upset.

The clinks continued as her mind began to race frantically. There must be something to talk about, she thought to herself as she continued to rack her brain for conversation starters. 

“How was work today?” Damn. Could she not think of anything more interesting to say? 

“Fine,” he replied with a grunt. More silence. More frantic thinking. 

“How’s your dinner?”

“Eh, could use more seasoning.” Ouch. Her heart stung. How long had she been working on this dinner? How many recipes had she searched through in hopes of finding something to his liking? Part of her was broken hearted, another part furious, yet all she could say was simply, “I’m sorry, hun. I’ll try to do better next time.” 

“Okay.” That was all he said. They continued to eat in silence. 

As dinner came to an end, she silently began to gather up the dishes. He scooted back in his chair, stood up, and without a word, disappeared up the stairs. 

Is this how relationships are supposed to feel? she thought sadly to herself as she made her way to the sink, arms piled high with empty plates. The overwhelming loneliness wrapped itself tightly around her body. It slithered its way up her legs and across her chest. Her breath became more shallow until it felt as though she may stop breathing all together.

PULL YOURSELF TOGETHER, her mind screamed as her fingers gripped tightly to the counter. A single tear slipped its way down her reddened cheek. 

With the dishes done and the table clean, she made her way up the stairs. He was lying silently on the bed, phone in hand, tv blaring in the background. She quickly undressed for bed and slowly slipped under the covers. She pretended to focus on the television screen as he continued to scroll through Facebook. 

An hour passed in this way. Awkward silence, at least for her, hung thickly in the air. 

“Is everything…okay?” she asked even though she already knew what his answer would be. 

“I’m fine. Just been a long day.” 

“Well if there’s anything I can do…”

“I know.” Silence. 

“I love you” she squeaked barely above a whisper. 

“Love you too.” Her spirits lifted, but only a little. 

As he stood up to turn off the lights, she carefully rolled towards the wall. Her mind was filled with many thoughts, but the one that stood out the most was simple.

I may be lonely, but at least I’m not alone. 

Her eyes closed, and she fell into a restless sleep. 

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Panic Attack

I can’t sleep. My eyes are red, my mouth is dry, my lips blistered from my obsessive licking. I roll over. My arm goes numb. I switch sides. My other arm goes numb. I roll onto my back. A brick crushes my chest, and the air struggles to fill up my lungs. In a blind panic I bolt out of bed and into the bathroom. My heart is racing, hands are sweating, knees are trembling, mind is faltering. 

No one can know. No one can see. I MUST keep this a secret. I’m okay. I’m okay. I’m okay. Everything is fine. Everything WILL BE fine. I’m okay. I’m okay. 

My uncontrollable sobs threaten to creep out from underneath the locked bathroom door and break the quiet silence of the night. I cover my mouth with a towel and let the tears flow freely.

They mustn’t know. No one can know. I’m okay. Please let me be okay. 
The world around me is spinning. I hold onto the edge of the bathtub and slowly lower myself to the floor. Why is this happening again? Why am I so sad? Why do I feel so alone?

I’m okay. I’m okay. I’m…not…okay. 

The realization of this sends me into another round of heaving breaths and muffled sobs. I can’t breathe. Why can’t I breathe? The air is thick and heavy and threatens to choke me. I cough and cough as if I can somehow cough up all this pain that’s threatening to tear through my chest. 

I’m not okay I’m not okay I’m not okay Oh God why am I not okay why is this happening to me why can’t I just be okay please stop please stop please stop

Silence. 

My breathing steadies. My chest begins to rise and fall, once again at a steady pace. 

Just. Breathe. Everything will be okay. Breathe. 

And it’s over. Just like that. Another panic attack has come and gone. I stand up slowly, my knees still shaking. Staring back at me from the mirror is an image of a broken girl, her face a dark shade of red, her eyes even darker. She’s a mess. Her matted hair is stuck to her freshly wetted cheeks, her nose dripping like a leaky faucet. 

I turn on the sink, check to make sure the water is cold, and then splash a wave onto my face, not caring where the water goes. It trickles down my red cheeks, washing away the sticky warmth my tears had left behind. A few more deep breathes, and back to bed I go. Sleep won’t come easily tonight. 

No one must know. No one can see. 

The Little White Dress

One by one, Madeline slowly slipped her pale legs into the smooth cocoon of her tight black stockings. She carefully eased them up over her thick thighs and brought them to rest at her at the base of her hips. Next, she carefully laid out three different dresses: a sliming black one with dazzling sparkles that traced the neckline, a short and sassy red one that clung to her hips and accentuated her curves, and a skimpy white one that revealed just a little too much skin for her usual tastes. Madeline let her delicate fingers trace the silky fabric of each one, before picking up the black one and holding it to her body. She stood facing the mirror as the dress hung in front of her. She laid it back down again. Madeline once again repeated the process, this time with the red dress, but again, she laid it back on the bed.

After pausing for just a moment, she very slowly picked up the white dress and slipped it over her head. She pulled, tugged, and wiggled until the skin-tight dress clung to her waist. Madeline analyzed her appearance in the mirror. The sheer see-through cutouts on each side displayed her curves in a revealing manner, and the low-cut top barely covered her fake breasts. She self-consciously tugged at the bottom. This would have to do.

Madeline reached for her tube of bright red lipstick. She painted her face just like her mother had taught her when she was younger. Thick black eyeliner lined her dark brown eyes, and her bright pink eyeshadow sparkled in the light. Her lips were as red as a freshly picked apple, and she curled them up into a small smile. Madeline could remember a simpler time when her mother would sit on the floor in front of her, crisscross-applesauce, and carefully apply each layer of makeup. She always started with the lips. The lips are the centerpiece of the face, she would say with a smile as she spread the brightly colored lip gloss onto Madeline’s tiny lips. Beautiful! She would exclaim when she had finished, sending little Madeline running to the mirror to see.

Her father, on the other hand, had never agreed. Are you trying to make our daughter look like a skank?! He would yell as he raised his hand towards her mother. He would then proceed to yank Madeline up by her hair and drag her to the bathroom, watching menacingly as she angrily scrubbed the makeup off of her tear-stained face.

Madeline quickly blinked away her tears, careful not to smudge her makeup, and hastily slipped into her tall red heels. Taking one last glance at her reflection, she grabbed her coat and rushed out the door of her LA apartment. She slipped through the darkened streets, made her way into the deepest alleys, and slowly pushed her way to the curb. There she would wait.

It wasn’t long before a sleek, silver Porsche pulled up beside her. The window tent was definitely past regulation, and it was clear that this man had money.

“How much?”

“Depends on what you’re looking for.”

“I want it all.”

Madeline thought for a moment before making her decision. She looked him over. He seemed to be in his forties, handsome, in good shape, and clearly privileged. His expensive suite fit him perfectly. A Rolex adorned his arm and on his left hand, he sported a shiny golden ring. “$2,000” she said bravely. She knew it was a stretch, but she would not back down.

“Deal,” he said without hesitation, and soon they were pulling into the parking lot of a dingy, cheap motel. As she walked into the dimly lite room, she could hear the screams of her father. What the hell do you think you’re doing?! No daughter of mine is ever going to be a prostitute! She felt the sticky warmth of the man’s hands as he began to viciously tug at her zipper. His hot breath wreaked of alcohol. Her body screamed in protest, but she couldn’t think of any other solution. No one wanted her. No one had ever wanted her. This was all she had.

As she slipped into her usual unfeeling state of mind, Madeline was absolutely sure that her father would never have wanted her to feel so alone.

 

Baptism

Today is the day of my Baptism. Nine year old me wiggles impatiently as my mother tries desperately to brush the knots out of my thick, tangled hair. I am wearing the shirt that she made me specifically for this occasion. It has a bright red heart painted on it and reads “I gave my heart to Jesus”. My nine year old mind is full of wonder and excitement. 

Me: So, tell me. How this is going to play out again?

Mom: Lindsey, I have already told you what’s going to happen. And besides that, you’ve seen it done many times before!

Me: Just tell me one more time…please? I promise I won’t ask again!

Mom: (Sighs) Okay. You’ll stand in line at the top of the stairs that lead into the tub. Pastor Roy will give his speech about how all of you have chosen to accept Jesus, and then one by one he will ask you to step down into the water with him.

Me: Will it be cold?

Mom: No, it’s warm like bath water. But remember to step in carefully because if you slip, you’ll fall in and it will be embarrassing.

Me: Okay….then what?

Mom: You’ll stand in front of him sideways and he will take your hands. That’s when he’ll announce to everyone that you have accepted Christ as your Lord and Savior.

I grip my face dramatically in an attempt to impersonate the victims on the late night horror movies I wasn’t supposed watch, and then let out my best and most award-winning gasp of terror.

Me: HE’S GOING TO TAKE MY HANDS?!?

Mom: Lindsey, for the love of God, you know what I mean!!

Me: You said it, not me….So after he gruesomely takes my hands from me, then does he dunk me?

Mom: Lindsey, stop fooling around. This is a serious matter! And no, not yet.

Me: Well then when does he dunk me?

She sighs and continues to yank at the stubborn knots in my thick red hair. 

Mom: Not until after he asks you if you have accepted Christ as your Lord and Savior.

Me: But wouldn’t he have just said that to everyone? Why would he tell everyone that I already have and then ask me?

Mom: (Clearly beginning to lose her patience) I don’t know, Lindsey! That’s just how it works!

Me: (Pause)…..And then he dunks me?

Mom: (Sighs) No. not yet. Not until you say yes…

Me: (Interrupting) But what if I say no?

She abruptly stops brushing my hair and sternly looks me in the eyes.

Mom: Why on Earth would you say that?!

Me: (Laughing) It sure would shock him! Ha! He wouldn’t see that coming!

Mom: (Angrily) Lindsey!

Me: Okay, geez I’m only kidding!

She stares at me, arms crossed over her chest, looking un-amused. 

Me: Soooo…I’ll say yes…and then he’ll dunk me!

Mom: No. Then he’ll say I now baptize you in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit…

Me: (Interrupting yet again) And theeeeen he’ll dunk me!

Mom: Not yet! He’ll ask quietly if you want to hold your nose…

Me: Which I’ll say yes….

Mom: And then….

Me: (excitedly) He’ll dunk me!

The “not-so-simple” simple poem

Why can’t poetry sometimes be simple? Why can’t it simply say what it means and mean what it simply says? Why must there always be some hidden meaning behind it that one must discover through deep thought and contemplation?
This is a poem. 
It’s not a hard poem. 

It’s not a message in disguise.

It is simply a poem about a simple poem. 

Poems can have meaning without the use of fancy words that no one understands. 
Poems can give hope and peace and joy without having to be picked apart in a literature class. 

This poem is simple.

So what can be taken from such a simple poem?
Simply this: don’t feel as though you cannot write poetry just because you don’t have a large and confusing vocabulary or can’t write in a style such as Poe or Dickinson. 

Poetry should come from your heart and if what you have to say is simple, then simply say it. No extra words or confusing lines are needed.  

So simply speaking, this is a simple poem about a simple poem, and yet surprisingly, there’s still something not so simple about it.  

Beauty

There is beauty in everything! Don’t you agree?

There is beauty in everything!

Just look and see!

From the sky that is blue,

To the grass that is green;

The world is so beautiful, 

So peaceful and serene. 

There is beauty in everything,
No matter how small. 

There is beauty in everything,

Even things quite tall!

From the mountains so high,

To the valleys down below, 

From the tallest of trees,

To the buds beginning to grow. 

Look all around you! 
And then you soon shall see,

That everything is beautiful,

Including you! and even me.