Tag Archive: Write


Something imaginary….

“A daily dose of daydreaming heals the heart, soothes the soul, and strengthens the imagination”-Richelle E. Goodrich

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We used to play ninjas, army men, crime fighters and superheroes and I always stood by your side through better or worse. I had your back, but you always knew that.
When you felt alone, we’d talk a bit. You always had fun stories to share, and I’d listen, hoping I could offer some sound advice. And when you were bored, we play and sometimes you’ll pretend to be me and I’d pretend I was you.

When times were bleak, you’d turn to me to cheer you up, and sometimes I failed you. And it would always hurt and leave me feeling I had somehow let you down. It was worse during those times you cried yourself to sleep and I would watch over you, wishing I could stop it when you were getting beat, which left me feeling helpless, like a phantom limb unable to shield you from the endless abuse.

You brought me into this world and gave me purpose, to keep you happy, safe, and entertained, distracted you from the cruel and mundane, keeping you from going completely insane.
But you started getting older, into girls with cooties (which we both always knew was bogus, but you always hid it well), into fast cars, video games, and going to parties with pals- I had your back, telling you to kiss the girl, or when to hold her hand. I would scare off the monsters that lurked in the dark, shield you whenever you were afraid of falling asleep. And even though the monsters stopped coming, you were still afraid.

I couldn’t fight these new fears.

You feared what was in your future, you were afraid of the unknown and more importantly you feared growing up. Same as me, but I always knew you’d make it through. You and I were martial art champions, seasoned warriors and veterans of countless wars. We were heroes’ kid, just you and me and I always knew how strong you really were.

But as you got older, I started feeling older too. I felt dusty, my shine had gone dull. But you were bright and knew the world in your own way now.
You were going make it without me, but I could live with that.

I waved goodbye at your graduation, but by then you had stopped being able to see me. I’m okay though, you and I had a good run. I’ll miss you little buddy and I know you’ll miss me too, because you named me and I can feel you thinking about me from time to time, and I know you’ve been writing about me, which makes me proud that you still remember. So kid, even though you can’t see me like you used to, I’ll be with you whenever you sit down, with pen in hand and begin writing down those memories, turning them into stories.

Sincerely me.
Your imaginary friend,
Shadow.

“I believe that imagination is stronger than knowledge. That myth is more potent than history. That dreams are more powerful than facts. That hope always triumphs over experience. That laughter is the only cure for grief. And I believe that love is stronger than death.”
― Robert Fulghum,
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“Be happy now, without reason – or you never will be at all.”
― Dan Millman

Our lights can leave scars upon the surface of the sun So let no one say we'll be undone by time's passing For the memories we are amassing will stand as testament That somehow we bend minds around the concept that we see others within ourselves. That self-knowledge can be found on bookshelves So who we are has no bearing on how we appear Look directly into every mirror Realize our reflection is the first sentence to a story And our story begins here.

Our lights can leave scars upon the surface of the sun. So let no one say we’ll be undone by time’s passing, for the memories we are amassing will stand as testament
That somehow we bend minds around the concept that we see others within ourselves.
That self-knowledge can be found on bookshelves. So who we are has no bearing on how we appear. Look directly into every mirror. Realize our reflection is the first sentence to a story
And our story begins here.

 

We are here and our stories are being written now, so don’t be discouraged when things fall apart and don’t go your way, sometimes life just takes a little while to come together. So don’t end your story prematurely because happiness seems so far off, like a distant memory that feels more like an illusion that isn’t there, or as far out of reach as we are from touching the nearest star. Trust me; I know it’s hard; I’ve been single now for about a year, having a hell of a time to find that one for me. But I’m not letting my failures get me down, because it took a year of being on my own to decide and to finally realize what it is I want and need. I spent a lifetime chasing after love, romanticizing it, putting every girl I chased up on a pedestal, believing they could never do any wrong. I would rush every relationships as if it were a race and wanted nothing more than to be the first to cross that finishing line.Just to find out that the girl had only meant to be out on a stroll and I would find myself standing alone at what I perceived to be the finishing line.

I longed so desperately for love, I would fall quickly and easily, even when I barely knew the person I was falling for, or become so blinded by my infatuations I would always fail to see all the many reasons we were wrong for each other and I would never see it until it was too late, because one, or both of us would have already grown emotionally invested with the other, which would always made breaking up all that much harder, because I would still like them as a person, while she would be head over heals in love with me, or vice versa.

So what do I want? Well, the same thing I think we all essentially want. I want that best friend, who’s also my lover, someone who makes me feel alone even when we’re together. To be perfectly content sitting in a room without talking, content with knowing that she is there. To be reading, while she’s watching tv, drawing, or writing. Someone who I catch staring at me sometimes, and hear her say,
“God, I love you.”

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Sometimes we need some time alone in order grow.

If I’ve learned anything from my past relationships its this, you can’t rush love. You can’t make it happen just because you want it too. Much like a flower, it needs time to grow and it’ll never happen with you hovering and over watering it, trying to will it grow. Because love is something that you both choose and something that just happens and it happens in its own time. So I know what it’s like, to see the finish line and wanting to break into a dead sprint until you’ve reached your destination, but life is a stroll and this how God does things, to teach us and to give us time to grow as human beings, to discover ourselves and what it is we want, need.

Take my ex-girlfriend (In case any of you may be wondering, I did tell her what I wanted to write about and asked for her permission, she’s kinda awesome for agreeing to it) for example who since we had broken up, had become a good and trusted friend. But it took a while for us to realize we made better friends then we did lovers.

I first met Abby on face-book through a mutual friend and at the time she had no clear pictures of herself online, so I was already living dangerously in that regard. But we talked and stalked each other’s facebook, for a long time before deciding that we should meet in person by going to a haunted house.

And I dug her; I dug her as soon as I laid eyes on her. To me she represented (at the time) my perfect woman, she was short, athletic, bold, feisty and a red haired goddess. (I always had a bit of an weakness when it comes to redheads and short girls, so she was two for two) Naturally I found her to be absolutely drop dead gorgeous and the fact she wasn’t a man, didn’t have a mustache, a beard, or weigh as much as my car, I was at the same time relieved. But the best thing about her was that she dug me too, in fact her first words to me were,

Our first date, how was I not suppose to fall in love with her.

Our first date, how was I not suppose to fall in love with her.

“Your pictures do you no justice; you’re much better looking in person.” And for someone who’s always been a little self-conscious of his appearance, (thanks to every girl who turned me down in High School) this made me feel like I was on top of the world. (You see ladies; it’s a huge turn on when you help us out with making the first move, because the best kind of guy will always be a little shy) Better yet, she could barely keep her eyes off me and throughout the night I saw her stealing repeated glances in my direction, which would make my smile widen every time. (Which yeah could have been bad since she was the one driving but at the same time it always feels good to feel attracted to.)

As the night progressed we found ourselves clicking and there were no awkward silences between us, with every lull in conversation leading to us simply enjoying the other’s company. She was fun, goofy, smart, coy, honest and flirtatious. (which only caused my heart to swell all the more with the feelings I already felt for her)

Some part of me could sensed that I was as different for her as she was to me. Because before then I never met anyone so bold, who said whatever she felt without holding anything back. But what I sensed about her is hard to explain, I don’t know if it’s just me being a writer, or me being intuitive, or something else entirely, but I sensed in her a kindred spirit, I knew she had been hurt numerous times before, used, lied too, objectified, betrayed and broken.

So by the end of the night, when neither one of us wanted to part ways just yet, I suggested we go to a park near my house, where we played on the swings and the jungle gm like children, laughing all the while as we rejoiced and danced beneath a sea of stars, forgetting our matching scars, and it was then, as I was helping her up from the slide, that I looked into her eyes and saw a purity, a joy and the girl who she thought she lost. There was an innocence about her then, her inner child finally being allowed to come out and play. At the same time I understood this was the first time she ever truly let go, and relished in the moment as it was.

Later I learn she had a bit of a sordid past. She had a bit of a history that she wasn’t too proud of. Many of us has made mistakes, and had done things when we were younger that we’re not so proud of later on after we’ve grown a little bit older and wiser. I know this, because she insisted on telling me everything before we started dating out of fear I would discover her past and would leave her prematurely, without letting the person she was now shine through, thus breaking her heart. But I come from a place where I believe the past is in the past, while the present is now. We all make mistakes, missteps and do or have done things we’ve later grown to regret, it’s a part of life. No one really knows what dark corners, or avenues our lives may lead us, but what’s important is we find our way out. Also, as a Christian, I believe it’s hypocritical to judge someone for their past, since after all, Jesus Christ had died for our sins and not one of us today can say we live without sin, which is why we pray and ask for forgiveness. (Besides, I don’t think couples should hold one’s past against them. There’s nothing you or they can do about it. Besides if you can’t get over a person’s past, I believe you really need to ask why you’re involved with the person that are with.) Because you’re not the same person you were two years ago, and you weren’t even the person you are now then you were two days ago. Because we’re all changing, every day we learn something new and have experiences that change us forever. (Myself I used to by a child of hate, I was brought up to hate and despise homosexuality. I was prejudice, using words such as gay and fag with negative connotations to them. But I later grew to see that people are just people, I trained myself to stop using those words of bigotry and hatred, apologizing for my previous behavior. But I was young, stupid, naive, and grew up in a house where I was told I needed to hate these groups of people. But I changed and grew to accept and love everyone I meet. Greeting them as friends.)

Abby and me rejoicing in our love for the our favorite Holiday.

Abby and me rejoicing in our love for the our favorite Holiday.

But I digress and with Abby and regardless of her many attempts to test me and push me away out of fear I would hurt inevitably hurt her, we eventually began dating “officially” And for a while our relationship was perfect, but every new relationship is typically great and smooth sailing as you’re still getting to know each other. Consumed with the idea that the other is perfect, and wanting to impress them by showing them only the best version of yourself. So if you’re having problems at the beginning of a relationship, you should probably bail out while you can.

For me it took about four months for the cracks to begin to show. When we first met, she didn’t like me spending money on her, but as time progressed, she began demanding I spend more and more of my money on her, eventually demanding I take her to a restaurants that were hundred dollars a plate, which was the point where I had to finally put my foot down and tell her I couldn’t afford that kind of lifestyle. Plus, the relationship became less about us and more about her, I was suddenly expected to take her out all the time, pay for all the dinners, entertainment, as well as buying her new clothes, movies, etc. Which again lead to more conflict as I began standing my ground and say no to all frivolous spending and explain that she was making me feel more like I was her own personal piggy bank than a boyfriend, and I was sinking more and more into debt. Which I was.

The longer I stayed in the relationship, the more I saw how different and our values were so vastly apart from each others. But still I clung to this image I had of her when we first met, this sweet, funny, clever and sexy girl, who had never been appreciated or treated like a person. I felt like I was fighting a losing battle to this other person who I never knew was there. Yet I had faith that there was this better person beneath it all. Nowadays I’m happy to report she had proved me right, but back then I had blinded myself to all the signs telling me she wasn’t the for me, I was too busy putting her up on a pedestal, giving her excuses and overlooking everything I didn’t like about her, giving myself excuses for her behavior. Even though being with her was making me more and more miserable.

One of our major issues was my faith, and she was somewhere in-between being spiritual/agnostic and atheism, she believed my faith was a joke, a crutch. And this was accompanied with her wanting us to be swingers,and to have threesomes, (Yes with another girl, her and me) But both issues were something I couldn’t get behind, which lead to more arguing, and her believing my faith had emotionally and sexually stunted me to the point where I couldn’t see how meaningful the experience could be for the both of us. . (Call me a romantic….or an idiot if you want, but I’ve always been a one woman guy and I can’t share these intimacies with more than one person, despite knowing that most guys would kill to have the opportunity, but it’s just something I can’t see myself going through with, my heart rally’s against the very thought, telling me it’s wrong.)
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But this story isn’t all about me, or how bad she was back then, (And trust me it wasn’t all her fault) this is a story about how God works. So if that makes you upset, I apologize, it was never my intention to preach at anyone. But I wanted to take a moment to point out something. Despite how wrong we were for each-other, or how unhappy she was making me, I still clung to this relationship as though it was a life line, and letting go meant only certain death. I made myself think and believe I loved her, when in truth every day it felt like I was falling more out of love with her. But it wasn’t all her fault, she had suffered from bi-polar disorder, as well as depression. And I should have stood my ground earlier and not let things get out of hand as they did. I should have sat her down and had a calm and rational conversation with her about our relationship and our needs and what we wanted. Maybe we would have worked things out, or maybe parted more amicably and wouldn’t have exploded in as many shouting matches, and would have resulted in less hurt feelings.

You see, many people jump into relationships and like many of us do begin to run, and race to that ultimate goal of marriage before we even know if that person is right for us or not. Maybe, that person is just a stepping stone, a guiding light, taking you one step closer to the person you’re suppose to be with. You see, this is what I believe, I believe it’s all a journey and it teaches us and we carry something with us out of every failed relationship, which helps to shape and mold us into better people. Sometimes we need be schooled and hurt in love, so that when it really does come for real, we can appreciate it even more, because we’ve learned from past mistakes and grew as individuals. Which is probably why I remained good friends and have managed to maintain friendships with many of my Exes. Of course, don’t try to savage a friendship right away, we all need time to heal and recover. For me this usually takes about six moths.

And if you can rekindle or even start a friendship it’s amazing, I’ve witnessed this incredible change in Abby, who was once selfish, arrogant, greedy, a gold digger and incredibly vain, (to the extent whenever I was driving she had to keep my vanity mirror down so she could keep checking herself out) And had grown addicted to her computer, phone and facebook, to the extent she couldn’t have a conversation with you without posting about it, or looking at her phone.

Abby and her boyfriend Evan, I haven't met him yet, but they look like an absolutely couple. I couldn't be happier for her.

Abby and her boyfriend Evan,
I haven’t met him yet,
but they look like an absolutely
couple. I couldn’t be happier for her.

But now, this girl who I never expected to find meaning, or God, has found just that. She’s been saved, and regularly attends church, she went from someone who only thought about herself, to this amazing girl who now goes out of her way to help someone in need. It’s like this shadow has been lifted from her eyes and a weight from her shoulders and I can tell you, she’s finally free, she’s happy and a joy to be around. She’s even met a good Christian Guy and now dreams and prays for the day where he proposes to her and they get married. (Back when I was with her, she was opposed to marriage with every fiber of her being)
And I’m extremely happy for her and proud, as well as blessed for having witness her incredible transformation, for being able to call her my friend. I never expecting to see God work in such a way. Which makes me sit back and with a smile as I think back on the day when we first met in what feels like so very long ago and having the honor of being the witness to it all.

We never could get it to work her and I, and back then, it felt like I was walking through a life sucking mine field of psychological barbwire, day after day,until there was nothing left of me but a dried up human husk of the person I used to be.

But we’ve all done it, got involved with someone we shouldn’t who was just all wrong for us and stayed too long. Even worse is when we stay in horrible, life draining, enjoyment killing relationships for the worse reasons, and even worse excuses.
being miserable in relationships we know are going nowhere. Some stay out of habit, or fear that they might have to go out of it alone for awhile. I’ve done it too, I’ve ignored, or excused all the red flags and signs telling me I should really reconsider the relationship I was in.

But either out of fear, or some perverse sense of loyalty we stay, and blindly trudge ever forward, no matter how bad or trying the relationship gets. It doesn’t matter how many times that person drags you down, leaving you feeling frayed, as you cling ever tighter these bad relationships, that only drag us further down into this sea of regret, all the while believing this other person is our life preserver.

The worse part of it is this; it’s us who cling and hold on so tightly. When all we have to do is let go. It took me awhile to let go of Abby, fighting the urge to call or text her just to see how she was doing, to hear her voice. But I knew we both needed time apart, time to grow and learn. So I know it’s hard, but I think sometimes we all need to stop making excuses and just walk away. Maybe you’re right for each other, but you’re not right for each other right now, maybe you’re just meant to be friends, or simply serve as a lesson in the school of life. I always tell my friends if they’re unhappy in their relationship they should take a step back, take a break, or break up. Life is too short to waste time being unhappy with someone who’s just wrong for you, or who just drags you down. Yeah it’s going to be hard, yeah they’ll be tears, begging for another chance and promises of change. But none of it will ever be enough unless the both of you take some time apart and grow.

I began writing this after a long conversation I had with a friend, whom I asked if she was really in love with this person, or if she was in love with the idea of them, the idea of love and the prospect of a wedding? these are questions we all have to ask ourselves at some point in our lives.

Look at Abby and myself, once upon a time we were head over heels in love, and we were that annoying lovey-dovey couple who could never take our lives off each other and couldn’t stop flirting and touching, making everyone think we’d end up married. But we kinda fell apart, I couldn’t be the guy she wanted, and she couldn’t be the girl I wanted. Because we both wanted and needed something else, something more. If we would have stayed together, we probably would have ended up killing each-other, or just making each-other miserable for the rest of our lives.

But thankfully, we’ve both changed and because of that, she’s became an awesome person, an amazing friend and I wouldn’t trade the memories, good or bad for the world. Because she taught me a lot without ever realizing it. She taught me that I should really get to know someone before getting into a relationship with them and she taught me that I should and how to stand my ground, how to say no, as well as how to have confidence.

You see, they say people change, but they never say how much, how much have you changed during the course of your life?

Sometimes we get lonely, and desperate for love, we look for it in all the wrong places. We make poor choices and relationship mistakes, because we’re trying to run, instead of taking the time to walk with that person and getting to know them, letting the love we feel flow through us naturally and grow on its own time.

Sometimes we get lonely, and desperate for love, we look for it in all the wrong places. We make poor choices and relationship mistakes, because we’re trying to run, instead of taking the time to walk with that person and getting to know them, letting the love we feel flow through us naturally and grow on its own time.

Falling Like Snow

Before I begin, this story was something I wrote in hour and a half as part of a writing exercises given to me by my writer’s group. We were each given three lines which we had to work into the story. The lines I was given were  “We started dying before the snow and like the snow, we continued to fall,” Sitting in the kitchen sink, “And “The sky was static.” For me, the story came alive instantaneously and I wrote like a man possessed to get it all down before time ran out. Here is the result, I hope you enjoy. Falling Like Snow Falling like snow… after_the_smoke_clears_by_busterbrownbb-d67nizy We started dying before the snow and like the snow, we continued to fall. The sky had grown dark and our blood turned the soil beneath our feet into mud. Alive and cut off from the rest of my unit, my thoughts turn back to my father and how I use to write to him every night from the kitchen sink, imagining I was with him hunkered down in that fox hole, he was a soldier then fighting overseas. He had gone missing when I was just thirteen, like my grandfather before him, who had fought bravely in the Vietnam War and his father back in the second great World War.

I still remember how my mother clung to me as she cried and how I was unable to take my eyes off the casket being lowered deep down in the cold, dark ground. I didn’t cry then, the tears wouldn’t come for another few years, because I knew he wasn’t inside that box they buried so deep, nothing but a uniform, a photograph and old memories, I knew it wasn’t him they buried, just a box filled with memories and dust.

For months I imagined him coming home, stealing into my room to tell me everything was alright and how he would muss with my hair, before kissing me goodnight. But that day never came and I swore I’d never go to war and that I wouldn’t fall in line with the family tradition of never coming home from War. Patriotism seems to be in our blood, even when we’re left with little to no choice, for at twenty eight my country was at war yet again and one night after work, I found the draft letter addressed to me in the mail. Fear washed me as I read and reread those words, ordering me into the armed forces and the date I was to report to the military base for training. I must have stood outside for an hour before my wife came to join me, I couldn’t speak, the dread had turned my tongue to lead and all I could do was hand her the letter with trembling hands and her tears began falling like rain as she crumbled the letter in her fist and drew me close, promising to never let go. We cried and held each other for what felt like the last time, even as the rain began to fall, drenching us both as we repeated our vows there in the driving rain, kissing away each other’s tears, she wants me to run, I tell her I won’t, I explain that I can’t, I assure her that we’ll be alright, I promise her I’ll return home, I tell her lies. Then there I am, on that bus, leaving my civilian life behind, kissing goodbye my wife and seeing my eight year boy watching me from kitchen sink with his face pressed up against the windowpane and it was then my heart began to break, for he looked so much like me the day I watched my father go away. The days seem to pass in a blur, they cut off my hair,  and we marched till we sang, we all became friends as we learned how to fight. By graduation day I was stepping up onto that plane, feeling only half-alive, just going through the motions, believing that this was it for me, that I was already gone, for I had come from a family of patriots and none of them had ever returned home from the wars they fought, the line I feared would go on unbroken, as heroes of war.

Artillery exploded in the air around our craft, causing even greater turbulence, and my brothers  disguised and hid their fear, with cheers and jeers, while I close my eyes letting my thoughts turn to that of my wife and child, I imagined him as I might, playing soldier with his friends, imagining that he was fighting alongside me, helping me keep this country free and safe, this land that I loved. His face was all I could see, etched forever into my mind, along with the look he gave me as I marched up onto that bus. Realizing I would never go back, I would never return home, the thought made me feel both empty and hollow, making me numb, a shell of the man I once was, who before this had never so much as fired a gun, or thought about taking a another life, but here I was, a soldier of war, a pacifist turned trained killer. But every night had been the same, I’d fall asleep thinking of my son, knowing I wasn’t much older than him when this happened to me and now I could feel the ghosts of my father and his, our entire family line standing all around, haunting me. Then there I was boarding the plane that would take me to some foreign land that threatened the very freedoms of the land that I’ve always known and loved. But that was then and now I’m here, trudging through snow drifts two feet deep, bleeding and fatigued with the snow pulling at my legs with every step.  My toes and fingers had long since gone numb from the cold, so I stop to stare up at the sky and it reminds me of static seen on old TVs, with the falling snow soothing the singed flesh of my face. Snow_Texture_by_funnybunny_stockI close my eyes and it’s all I see, blood and flames.

Our transport exploded moments after our boots touched the ground. The explosion was deafening, throwing me to the dirt, saved only by the man behind me, whose body shielded me from blunt of the explosion, making him one of the first who wouldn’t be making it home. Burned and bloody I crawled out from beneath the bodies of my comrades to the sounds of gunfire erupting all around me, but still I rose, disoriented and lost, just as the first snow flake landed and melted against my cheek. Ears ringing, I turned towards the enemy line and charged headlong into their ranks, their screams filled my ears, long after they were gone and it was then I realized the screams had been my own and I couldn’t stop, not until long after my rifle clicked empty and I was covered in the blood of both my fallen brothers and my own. We were twenty strong before and now we were but five. snow_by_theloneredsheep-d3lb6br With our faces streaked with dirt, blood and mud, we turned as one and charged into hell, amidst the rain of bullets, the guns and the sound of the drums beating in our ears and blood stinging our eyes. We’ve broke the enemy lines time and again. It hadn’t been a day, but I’ve already had my fill of war, even though this was just the beginning and like the snow we starting to fall. Exhausted, wounded and fatigued, I soon myself standing alone in a field of white looking up at the sky and thinking of home, when I heard the crack of the rifle and saw the snow before me turning to crimson as I fell to my knees, praying, please God…. As the ground rushed up to greet me and I expected the world to end.

 

I felt the rough hands gripping me, wrenching me up out of the snow and with my heart hammering in my chest, not knowing if I’d be tortured or killed, I raised my head defiantly to stare  at up at the weather worn face of the man I believed to be my executioner. But there was something oddly familiar about him that I couldn’t quite place and he begins shouting something and it takes a moment for me to realize he’s American like me, and he’s asking if I was hit. Nodding, I clumsily paw at my shoulder. He looks at me, examining the wound and pulls me towards him to examine the entry wound at my back, after he lowering his head to the exit wound just below my left shoulder, he tells me I’m lucky for it passed cleaned through, but I don’t feel lucky. Then to my surprise, he begins scooping up snow and packing it into the wound. I bite my tongue so hard I taste blood, and would have  collapsed if he hadn’t been holding me up. Through the tears that filled my eyes, I see his uniform for perhaps the first time, but it was all wrong. It was beige instead of camouflage and looked to be out of time and out of place, surely I imagined it couldn’t be warm enough to keep out the cold that was cutting through me despite by winter fatigues and thermal wear. Patting his pockets, he sighs, shaking his head, and begins tearing at the hem of his uniform, using it as a makeshift bandage, cinching it tight over the wound, before hauling me back to my feet.

“C’mon son, on your feet, don’t make me write another letter of condolences, I’m tired of losing good men,” He shouts into my ear.

“Sir…” I breathed, between gasps of breath, and through agonizing pain lancing up through my shoulder, “Sniper….”

he nods, looking down at my rifle, asking if it’s loaded and I tell him yes, but with only two rounds. Which was all I had left, he says one is all he’ll need and snatches it up from the snow and pulls me stumbling behind him. I stop, to turn back to see him taking a kneeling position as he peered down the sights of my rifle.

“Better get going so if you want to see that family of yours again.” Then without another word, I hear a second gunshot and this time I feel the bullet grazing the left side of my head. “Go,” He says, squeezing off a round, “Looks like there’s more coming,”
Lonesome_Soldier_by_xDestitutex I’m in no shape argue, but before I can, I feel a hand gripping me roughly by the shoulder, pulling me forward and almost off my feet. I turn to see another solider, pulling me along through the snow; he was wearing a uniform of forest green, with a M2 Carbine tucked under one arm, which he was using to fire into the field behind me. “C’mon, we’re pulling back,” he says shouting and before I can say a word, he moves to pull my arm around his shoulders and proceeds to help me run, and I’m too out of breath to ask who he was, or what was going on. But I could hear the tanks and gun fire erupting everywhere behind me as if hell itself was chasing on our heels. The marine, forces us to stop every couple of steps to turn and fire back into the field behind us, but through the falling snow I see nothing but shadowed shapes and what I can only guess are the enemy lines moving in to flank us, accompanied by flashes of light as the enemy returns fire. The marine’s carbine clicks dry and he turns to me, and through the driving snow he shouts for me to keep moving and turns his back to me,  as he begins reloading. I open my mouth to ask him what he’s doing, when the grenade goes off from where we was standing, with force of the explosion driving me into the ever thickening snow. I fall into the hard packed snow with my right side feeling like it was on fire. blood_in_the_snow_by_scout2freak-d5nvw1f I try to rise, but the pain lances up through my side, making me feel as if my ribs were being torn apart, and I can’t help the scream that escapes my lips as I fall back into the snow, fumbling for my side and feeling the warmth washing over my fingers, knowing that it was my life rushing out of me and turning the snow around me into fresh crimson. Gritting my teeth I try to rise again, when I hear a voice overhead, and I feel gentle hands turning me over onto my back. “He’s alive,” The person shouts to someone behind him, I can tell my his accent that he too is an American, from Boston I think,  his uniform was an olive drab, with his sleeves rolled up past his elbows, with a sheen of sweat covering his exposed flesh and despite the blistering cold winds or the falling snow his touch was warm.

“Okay buddy, looks like you took some shrapnel to the ribs, just hold on and I’ll get you patched up and ready for the LZ, I think I can remove it,” he says and I feel him rolling me over onto my uninjured side and fresh pain lances up through my ribs as he pokes and prods at the wound that feels like agony and fresh tears well up in my eyes. I scream into the snow, digging my fingers and hands into the drifts around me, I want to grab his arm and make him stop, but my arms and legs feel as if they’ve been tied down. Inch my agonizing inch, I feel him pulling at the shrapnel embedded deep in my side and it feels two feet long and half as thick, but once freed I find myself able to breathe easier and he’s packing the wound with fresh snow, before doing his best to bandage me up, then he’s dragging me back up to my feet. I’m so tired I can barely stand, so I lean against him as he helps me walk. Behind me I can feel the heat from explosions and the rain of snow and earth falling down around us, followed by burst of gun fire from all around us, and a mixture of shouts and screams. Whose I’m not sure. My knees buckle and I fall to my knees, reliving my first drop where I lost half my brothers, but the medic is quick to haul me back to my feet, and grunting from the exertion he tells me to keep going and not too look back, to never look back, ordering me not give up, to never give up. I don’t. I just keep walking, focusing on placing one foot after another and I’m trying not to think of home, because it would be more than I could take. With every step I expected to feel a bullet piercing my back or slamming into the back of my skull ending what little life I still had in me and I could scarcely believe that I was even still alive as it were. Then I felt the medic’s body go limp as a bullet struck him in the back, causing his body to pitch forward and me to fall in a tangle of arms and legs on top of him. He was dead by the time I untangled myself and pushed myself up onto my hands and knees. The back of his head had become a mass of dark blood and I found myself fumbling to free his sidearm from his person, when another hand closed tightly around my wrist, hauling me up to my feet before I could free his pistol, and it was then I noticed for perhaps the first time how the snow was kicking up all around me, followed by the whoop, whoop of helicopter blades cutting through the icy air. “Forget it, he’s dead, we need to get you out of here!” Shouted a voice over my head and I looked up to stare into the face of my father moments before I lost consciousness. The next thing I remember is waking up in a military hospital. No one quite knows how I survived, or why, no one saw the pilot, or even the Black-hawk helicopter that dropped me off before flying away, disappearing from sight and radar just as quickly as it had appeared. A story I tell no one but my wife, for I have no other explanation, other than I was saved by the ghosts of patriots.  winter_freakin___wonderland_by_knightofammo-d3aqwjd

Scars of Who We Are chapter 17
~A little talent is a good thing to have if you want to be a writer. But the only requirement is the ability to remember every scar.-Stephen King

Man Sitting on a Step

Why you can never go home again: Remembering every scar:

There I was, staring up into the face of my step-father, his face twisting in rage.
“I had three hundred dollars in my wallet and I want you to give it back to me!” He screams shoving again, harder against the wall and panic grips my body as my mouth goes dry, fear is all I feel. So I say nothing, as he shouting his accusations into my face, drilling me with questions, never waiting for me to answer.
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He shoves me three or four more times and I can’t help but feel as if he’s trying to provoke me, my fear gives way to self-righteous indignation and I step into him and shout,
“I didn’t take your damn money, I never touched your fucking wallet, feel free to search me and go through my things, because I don’t have it, then once you’re finished, I’m done with you and this family, never again will pull this kind of crap on me.”

For a moment, he looks like he’s about to hit me and he draws his fist back, but I stand firm, making it a point not to so much as flinch. I’m ready for blow, but it never comes, dropping his fist, he instead jabs me in the chest with his finger.

“I want my money,” He shouts, bringing his face so close to mine I can feel his breath on me, as he says, “And I WILL search you and you’ll do whatever I tell you to do.”
He then orders me to put my hands behind my head and then proceeds to frisk me, even though all I’m wearing is a t-shirt and my boxers.
I comply, even though all I want to do is shove him away and tell him to go screw himself, but I don’t and I abide by the violation of his hands patting me down and searching for what I know is nothing. Seeing him uniform intimidates me more than I care to say.

“What the hell is this?” I ask equal parts offended and violated by the absurdity it all.
He ignores me and turns me to face the wall, I’m half expecting him to begin reading me my rights, but he doesn’t.

“You know I don’t have anything,” I tell him as he continues to frisk me, so angry that my heart feels like it’s about to burst from my chest.

“I had three hundred dollars in my wallet and it’s gone and you’re the only one who could have taken it.” (Every day when Chris got off work, he would come in from the garage and lay his wallet on a dry sink by the door leading to the garage, or upstairs on the kitchen counter. Something he’d been doing since I was a kid.

“Listen, I never touched your wallet, you’re a cop, see if my fingerprints are on anything!” And he responds by shoving my face into the wall as he orders me to shut-up, telling me the only thing he wanted to hear come from my mouth was a confession.

So I speak all the words he doesn’t want to hear.

“Why would I steal from you? I came down for Christmas!”

All of us together just two years prior.

All of us together just two years prior.

He turns and flips the mattress off the bed and finding nothing under the bed and begins running his fingers through the discarded sheets, finding nothing he begins going through the pillow cases.

“Are you sure mom didn’t take it, or that the kids by mistake, or that you didn’t lose it?” (I halfheartedly believed they may have need lunch money and our mother had told them to get what they needed out of Chris’s wallet, just as she had told me time and again back when I was growing up there.)

But he doesn’t care about anything I have to say I doubt he was even listening and he waits until I try to help by putting the mattress back on the bed, but he turns on me, shoving me, pushing me back up against the wall, he’s screaming at me again, calling me a liar, a thief a delinquent, telling me how I had always been a punk, even though I have never been in any kind of trouble before.

He threatens me with jail time, lecturing me how three hundred dollars is enough to qualify for a felony offense.
(I hereby apologize in advanced for the language and any I may have let slip earlier on, but I feel it’s required to be as accurate as possible)

“I didn’t take your God Damn money!” I shout back, with my hands trembling, I don’t believe I’ve ever been this angry before, I didn’t think it were possible.
“Oh yes you did,” He shouts rearing up towards me, hitting me with the hell of his hands, “You did!” He says again with another hard shove. I’m so angry I can barely see straight and I want to hit him, I want to hit back as hard I could, as many times as I could. But I don’t, I just grit my teeth and do my best to refrain from the violence and rage I felt coursing through my veins.

He takes a moment to stare into my eyes and I meet his gaze defiance, I had been bullied for most my life and a coward for almost half as long and I was tired of being afraid. After a beat he asks where my clothes were and I point to them as the hung on the closet door. He smiles and pulls them down, searching through the pockets and the folds in my clothes. Finding he nothing he throws them at me and orders me to get dressed. So I ask him to leave for a little and he whirls back like he’s going to hit me and again I stay still and unflinching as he drops his fist, telling me no, he says,

“No, I don’t trust you I’m taking my eyes off you until you’re out of my house.”

It’s hard not to be a little scared seeing my a cop in uniform harassing you, let alone one acting like how he was and with him being my step-father. I don’t like it, but still I dress as he watches, my hands never stop shaking. I want to hit something, I want to hit him, I’m angry, scared and frustrated by the absurdity of it all.

CIMG0020

Anyone can lose money, heck I lost money before, misplaced it even, or spent more than I thought. It happens.

“Hurry up I don’t want you staying in my house any longer than you have too.” He says, watching me fumble with my clothes, but I still can’t keep my hands from shaking I’m so angry now at the injustice of it all, with no outlet to channel my fury. Finding my voice I decide to try and reason with him by saying,

“Look, I’ve been nothing but cooperative and I think you know me better than this, I think you know I didn’t take your money, maybe, just maybe you just lost it?”

“I didn’t lose it! He screams, charging at me, grabbing me by the collar do the shirt and yanking me up and practically off my feet, with his voice almost screeching at me as he repeats, “I didn’t lose it, I didn’t!”

Now, I’m sure he’s going to hit me, perhaps even begin beating me to death, but he doesn’t and I just hold his gaze, with my teeth clenched and breathing heavily as I don’t know what to expect to come from him next.
“You’ve always been sneaky and a little liar, you’re a fucking punk and you’ve always been a little shit.”
I take his comments in stride and careful speak each word as I very calmly say,

“I never stole. I’ve never been in trouble-”
“Never been in trouble?” He interrupts, speaking in high, mocking tones, “But you dress up all in black and getting into fights at the the county fair!”

“That was over five years ago and that’s not what happened and you know it!”
“Oh I know and just as I know you took my money,” He tells me.

“You know what fine, let’s go down to the station and hook me up to a lie-detector test, I’ll show you I’m telling the truth,” I say, with the internal, emotional war raging beneath my breast making my words come out in an unsteady rush. My blood is boiling hot and I can’t help but feel hurt, betrayed, scared angrier than I had ever been. I honestly didn’t know if I’d find myself sitting inside a jail cell by myself for Christmas or not.

Sneering, he grabs my arm, wrenching me away from the bed, pulling me out into the hallway saying,
“Oh you won’t have a choice,” he says manically and with a smile that unnerves me to my very core, “So you bet your ass you’ll be taking a polygraph and I’ll be there to see you fail,” He says rather matter-of-factly.
Man looking out office window at night
I don’t say a word, it’s all I can do is to grit my teeth and and wait for release me, as I do every I can to keep from going on the offensive. I wanted to hurt him more than I care to admit, I wanted to knock that sick and smug smirk off his face, but I reminded myself that he was a cop and in uniform, so it was likely that was exactly what he wanted.

Letting me go, he snorts and orders me downstairs and I take the steps two at a time, with him following close behind me. Once downstairs I immediately see my laptop is gone. I begin looking frantically around the rest of my bags for it, but to no avail, then Chris asks what I’m doing.

“I’m looking for my computer,” I tell him, not giving me the benefit of seeing my face.

“Oh, it’s mine now, I took it and put it somewhere you’ll never get it,” He says derisively.
I turn on him then and I feel myself reaching my breaking point, with my heart feeling like it was fit to explode.

“That’s not right man, you can’t take my computer.”

“No he says,” stepping into me and once again invading my personal space as he leers at me, jabbing me in the chest with his fat finger as he says, “I can do whatever I want, you’re a guest in my house, you have no rights here.” He’s so pleased with himself that all I can see is red.
Fighting the urge to shove him away and start beating him with whatever object my hands could find, I swallow my rage, with my thoughts racing. All I can think about is turning the tables on him someway, somehow, to make him sorry for all of this.So I say the only thing I can think of saying,

“You’re crazy and if you don’t give me back my property…”

“You’ll what?”He asks, smiling, reminding me of every bully I ever met.

“I’ll call the police.” I figure the threat alone would be enough to bring him back to his senses and let him see reason. But instead he smiles and says,

“Why? They can’t do anything for you, there’s nothing you can do!” He laughs, taunting me,

“Besides who are you? You’re nobody, you’re no one, you don’t matter, I’m a cop, I’m a someone and there’s nothing the police can do for you. This is a domestic dispute and there’s nothing you, your father, or anyone else can do about it. This is my home and you’re in my house and I can do whatever I want to you and no one can say or do anything about it.”

At this point the thought of beating him to death really doesn’t seem all that bad, more to the point I’d at least wipe that sick toothy grin of his off his face. It was then I realize he was enjoying this and it felt like no matter what I did I was playing further into his sick little game.

Seeing that I had nothing else to say, he reaches into his pocket and pulls out the pocket-watch I had gotten him for Christmas, (I gave both of him and my mother their presents a bit early, hoping it’ll cure whatever it was I was feeling. Plus I halfheartedly believed they might have thought that I was only visiting so that I could get presents, which was why they were acting so peculiar so I had figured if they saw I actually put a thought of thought on getting them all presents, it would prove otherwise. Evidently it had not.) Chris then hands me the pocket-watch and tells me he doesn’t need or want it anymore, so I should take it back.
I snap, gripping the watch tightly in my hand, I fling it across the room, nearly kill my mom’s parrot,(That was an accident and in my defense I wasn’t thinking or aiming) and the watch bounces hard of the wall, leaving a sizable indention in the wall where it struck.
Immature? Maybe, but it was enough to take that smug look off his face as he stormed across the room to examine the hole I put in the wall. I don’t apologize, even as he tells me how I’ll have to pay for it.

however to wipe the smirk off his face as he stormed across the room and flipped out about the hole I put in his wall. I don’t apologize, but he tells me I’d have to pay for it and I’d be lying if I said I didn’t enjoy it at least a little bit.

“Look,” I manage to say with my voice stained as I fought to keep my hatred for him in check. “Search my bags, search everything you want, I don’t have your fucking money!” I spit the last few words out as I see his smile returning.

“I already searched your bags and went through all your things,” He says contemptuously, closing the distance between us and shoves me painfully against the dry sink as he smiles at me again. At this point i hear my mother pulling into the garage and so does he and he backs off, his grin disappears and begins shouting at the top of his lungs,

“But I know you have it, or that you hid the money somewhere in this house and I’m not giving you back your computer until you give me my money, I’ll tell you that much right now.” My mom slips into the house, silent as a mouse not saying anything and I look at my step-father, seething with rage at his belligerence and the air of arrogance about him.

So I think of the only solution that I can to bring about a solution of some kind.
“Fine…You win alright? I don’t have your money, I never took it, but if you want, we can go to the bank together and I’ll withdraw three hundred dollars and I’ll give it to you in return for my computer.”

“No!” He barks, “I don’t want your money, I want my money!”

I look to my mom, hoping she heard what I heard, saw what I saw, but she just stands there, staring solemnly back at me.
“What sense does that make? You’re accusing me of stealing three hundred bucks, I offer to get you three hundred bucks, but you say that’s not good enough?”

“No, I don’t want your stupid money, you don’t have any money, I want my money!” He says venomloulsy , as if repeating the statement would somehow make any more sense.
He then launches into a tirade, calling me every name he could think of and the whole time all I can do is stare back at my mother. I wait for her to step up, for her to be a mom, to defend me, to fight for me, to do or say something. But she doesn’t. Instead she quietly asks if I took the money and frustrated I tell her that I had not, but how I wished I had.

Chris then says something about not being to tolerate the sight of me and tells my mother to have me gone by the time he returns.
I look at her and try to plead with her to see some reason,

“You can’t let him take my computer, my life’s work is on that thing and I hadn’t backed anything up.”

“Josh if you took the money, just tell me and you can give it to me and I’ll tell him I took it.”

“I didn’t take his money, but he did take my computer, and in my computer bag has library books inside it too, I can’t afford to replace everything. “

She nods, and tells me she’ll talk to him. She then tells me to grab my things and she’d take me home.

“Mom,” I reason, “ look at me, you have to know I’m better than this and that I wouldn’t steal from you guys, or anyone else. Besides you know I’m a horrible liar and I’ve always admitted to any wrong I’ve done, granted when I was young I would try to hide it from you so that I wouldn’t get beat. But I always admitted to what I did and I didn’t do this, never this; this is too big…this is too bad, too wrong.” ( Although I’ve always been fairly honest, during the course of my life, I have always been a practical jokester, but one thing I would never do is mess with someone else’s money.)

“I don’t know what to believe,” She tells me.

“He searched me, went through my things, didn’t find anything, no proof or evidence and I offered to get you 300 hundred dollars in order to get my computer back and you sat there as he told it wasn’t good enough. Why? Because if I stole from you, it makes no difference whose three hundred dollars you’ll be getting, mine, or yours. This is wrong, all wrong, what do I have to do to get you to believe me?”

“Josh you always do this and get overly dramatic.”

“Are you serious? You people took something very important to me and you did it without just cause, without proof and I’m being dramatic? I’ve been harassed and bullied, with my every attempt to be reasonable ignored or shot down.”

“Well you could have hidden it somewhere,” She tells me and I throw my arms up in the air and shake my head.

“Really? That’s what you’re going to do, are you going to keep coming up with different things I could have done with his money? Do you have an excuse at the ready for everything I say or do?”

“Josh, you’ve always been very spiteful and you probably just thought you were owed it,”

“Are you kidding me? I forgave you, I came down on my weekends off work just to give you a free babysitting and all those times I never asked for anything, no compensation, nothing and all those times I came here I never once took anything, why would I suddenly do so now?”

“Josh if you give me the money I can just tell Chris I-” My mother began before I cut her off.

“There’s no money to be had, and despite whatever you may think, I didn’t take it and how stupid do you think I am? I don’t have a car, I have no getaway and I’m still here for a few more days, do you actually think I would be dumb enough to steal that kind of money and just sit back hoping you didn’t notice it was missing?”

“Josh, Chris has always been very careful and meticulous with his money,”

“So, that doesn’t mean anything, he can still lose, or misplace it just like everyone else.”

“Well why do you think he’s accusing you?” She asks, as we climb into her car.

“Because,” I tell her as I climb into the passenger seat beside her, “I’m an easy target, he knows our history and all about the bad blood between us. I’m the easy mark.”
My words must have had some effect, because she doesn’t say anything until we’re on the road and I’m watching the house fade away in the rear-view when she asks,

“Do you think you’re being setup?” There was such clarity and innocence in the way she asked, I caught myself staring at her for a long time before I could answer. For a while I was thinking she had something to do with all of this, but now I wasn’t so sure and to be honest, I’m still not certain.
But her words get me thinking and I think back about how he was asking about my laptop and how much it cost, how he refused the three hundred dollars I offered him and how quickly he was to accuse me of everything.

“Yeah…Yeah I do,” I tell her.
A few moments pass and she asks me why I thought he took my computer. So I tell her,
“Because my computer is worth a lot more than three hundred bucks, which is why he was so quick to declined my offer when I made it.”
Silence fills the car and after awhile I tell her everything that happened and how it happened since he woke me up. As I talk she’s silent and never says a word, even when I’m finished she just sits there driving, never uttering a word.

We drive the rest of the way in silence and I’ll be lying if I said I didn’t think about grabbing the wheel and steering it into oncoming traffic, or to send us careening into a semi-truck. I was in a place of such darkness and hatred, it was consuming me.

So by the time she pulled up into my driveway I reached for the door and hesitated,

“I’m giving you three days….” I whisper. “Three days to make this right, to return my computer to me. If you do this, we’ll be family; if you don’t….you’ll be dead to me.”

“Ok,” was all she said.

I opened the door and step out of the car and just as quietly I hear her say,
“I love you,”

“We’ll see,” I respond, grabbing my things and slamming the car door shut behind me.

(I know, I know, I said there were just two chapters left. But it had gotten a bit long. So I had to break the final Chapter up into two parts. The conclusion I promise will be coming soon. )

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Scars of Who We Are Chapter XV-Home

And two chapters remain.

Chapter 15 ~For years I have ached to go back home, when there was nobody there to whom I could return.

 CIMG0250

Shortly after I introduced Rebekah to my mom’s family, I ended up cutting ties once more with my mother and began distancing myself from her and the rest of the family. In truth I just couldn’t take all the lies anymore and I was done with feeling like a belittled second class member of the family. I was done with the whole thing. I tried my best to make things work, but no matter how hard I would try, nothing ever worked, I would always leave feeling worse about myself than I did before I visited. Also sadly for reasons beyond my control, Rebekah and I ended up going our separate ways. I admit now that it had been stupid of me to break up with her, but there was drama that entered our lives from a most trusted friend who through jealously managed to create a rift between her and myself. For me the wound festered in paranoia, fear and crippling doubt, which forced me to break things off before the drama got any worse than it already had. All because a friend, a cousin who I loved as a brother, who’s betrayal had come unexpected, cutting me deeper than he’ll ever know. Torn, I ended my relationship with Rebekah and needless to say the New Year wasn’t that great for me.

My older brother and his dog Dozer

My older brother and his dog Dozer

Roughly, a year later I was beginning to feel alright again about my life and where it was heading. Slowly I began rebuilding my relationship with my cousin which wasn’t easy, knowing I’d never fully be able to trust him again, but we had been close since we were six and it was from this sentiment I decided not to let our relationship fall to the wayside, to be lost and scattered on the winds of time.  He made a mistake and I couldn’t exactly fault him for it, he had liked Rebekah for the same reasons that caused me fallen head over heels in love with her. Then as fate would have it, I ran into my older brother while working at the Kenton County Library in Newport. To my surprise we struck up a good rapport with each other, better than any we had ever had in the past. We ended up exchanging numbers for I had lost his and he mine and after a couple of days he and I began hanging out. It felt good to reconnect to his brother I barely knew. Growing up I barely even knew him, for he rarely ever wanted anything to do with me, other than tormenting or teasing me in some way. Then when he did finally want to get to know me, I didn’t really want to get close to him, because I knew a little of his involvement with drugs, drinking and his run ins with the police. All the things I didn’t care much for, or want any part of, also, I didn’t trust his friends and knew the kind of crowd he liked to runaround with. But during this time, he started going back to church and he left most of his old friends behind for the purpose of carving out a new life for himself. To my surprise I discovered he and I had a lot in common and shared similar interest in movies, the outdoors, martial arts and philosophical views. We were also both born again Christians, starting down a new path and it felt good to find myself going down the same path with my brother. In a few months I had the kind of relationship with my older brother that I used to always dream about having when I was a kid. We were as brothers should be. I trusted him without question, confided in him as you would your closest friend. After years of never knowing my brother, I had found him, just as he had with me. It only took us two decades to finally get there and to form that brotherly bond that all siblings should have.

My brother and I hiking at Red River Gorge

My brother and I hiking at Red River Gorge

In time, I grew to almost forget how he used to tease and make fun of me, making the past that once was feel not so much like a distant memory, but as something that had happened to someone else.  But after a time, he began asking me about my relationship with our mother and pushing for me to talk to her, to take the first steps in forgiveness and to forget about whatever differences we had in the past. Something I couldn’t bring myself to do, time and again I kept trying to explain to him without telling him exactly why I couldn’t do as he asked, I couldn’t go back down the road,because I knew all that would be waiting for me would be more pain and disappointment. I spent months, and a year building back up that wall around my heart and guarding myself from her. I was terrified of the prospect of letting my mother back into my heart just so that she could wreck it all over again. But no matter what I said, or how hard I tried to ignore and change the subject, he wouldn’t stop, insisting that I just talk to her and bury the hatchet, to make amends and forget the past to start anew. The more he talked, the more I found myself wanting to tell him everything and how weary it became keeping the truth locked up within the confines of my heart. But I feared the truth and what it would do to him. Maybe I was a little selfish in doing so, fearing that if I told him, it would cause the relationship we had been building to unravel completely,

My brother and me on the beach

My brother and me on the beach

because I doubted he would believe anything negative I had to say about his mother. I was also afraid of what would happen if he did believe me and what that it would cost him. Our mother was always good to him, bordering on spoiling him even, she had always been there for him, looked out for him and supported him when no one else did. How could I take that away from him and I did it wouldn’t make me any better than her. If my brother listened to me and took my side it would take away yet another pillar of support that he had and he didn’t have many since his real father had been a deadbeat. But no matter what I said, or how hard I tried to ignore and change the subject, he wouldn’t stop, insisting that I just talk to her and bury the hatchet, to make amends and forget the past to start anew. The more he talked, the more I found myself wanting to tell him everything and how weary it became keeping the truth locked up within the confines of my heart. But I feared the truth and what it would do to him. Maybe I was a little selfish in doing so, fearing that if I told him, it would cause the relationship we had been building to unravel completely, because I doubted he would believe anything negative I had to say about his mother. I was also afraid of what would happen if he did believe me and what that it would cost him. Our mother was always good to him, bordering on spoiling him even, she had always been there for him, looked out for him and supported him when no one else did. How could I take that away from him and I did it wouldn’t make me any better than her. If my brother listened to me and took my side it would take away yet another pillar of support that he had and he didn’t have many since his real father had been a deadbeat.

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Of course it didn’t help matters much that I also kinda figured that my my mother had already told and convinced my brother of her side of things and anything that I would say would be but lies in his eyes. Because I long since saw the power of a lie and how quickly it can travel around the world, while the truth is still at home putting on its shoes. People in my experience always seem to believe the first story they hear and it doesn’t that the lie can often be easier to digest than the truth, because the truth can often be far more painful to accept because of what it means. Many are all too eager to accept and believe in the lie, than see the logic behind the truth. So I feared I would lose my brother forever, or wound him beyond measure if my truth ended up costing him his relationship with his mother and it was in this I was willing to just leave things be. His relationship with our mother was his and his alone, it wasn’t mine. Plus I didn’t want to put him in that kind of situation that would put him between her and me, I respected and accepted the circumstances that his mother wasn’t mine, the woman I knew as our mother was completely different from the one he knew. That being said, no one deserves being put in a situation where they have to choose between family and I would never envy anyone in that position. Like myself, my brother can be infinitely stubborn and for whatever reason he wouldn’t give up on trying to get me to work with him on reestablishing this relationship with our mother, whenever we were out and there was any lull in the conversation, he’d start telling me how I had only one mother and how the bible says we should honor our mother and father. Once, I even came close to telling him the truth, by asking,

“But what if your mother or father doesn’t exactly honor or respect you?”

“She’s your mother and she gave you life,” He argued,

“Listen…I never told you this, but do you know what she told me when I was sixteen?” I asked, turning in my seat to look at him, not wanting to tell him that story, but at the same time felt so tired feeling like I was living a lie by not telling him the true nature of my relationship with our mother.

“Look, I know you two had your issues in the past, but it’s over and done with, you can say one thing, and she’ll say another, it’s time to get over it and remember you’re both family, forget the past, live for tomorrow instead.”

“Its not so easy,” I told him, knowing from his tone and the look he gave me that he didn’t want to hear my story about when I was sixteen. So I dropped the subject and for the moment so did he.

Once during this time I even dreamt about it, I dreamed I gave my mother another chance and once again it ended in pain and discord. In my dream I was back home. My mother was screaming at me, accusing me of something and telling me how I was this huge disappointment, an accident she wished that would have died in the womb. Having heard enough, I turned and went into into the room that used to be mine, but now it was mine again, filled with relics throughout my childhood. My old nightlight, my Batman doll, my spider-man action figures, my story time clock and in this dream I pulled this old burlap sack from my closet and began collecting these relics of my childhood, stuffing them down into this burlap sack, because I planned on taking it all with me, everything. All the while, my mother and step father screaming profanities at me, pulling and tearing at my clothes, shoving me as I ignored them and continued collecting everything from my childhood, before I finally turned on her shouting,

“I’ve had it, I’m done with you and all these games, I’m leaving and never coming back, you have wish and I’m never coming back!”

I awoke as my mother screamed and shoved me down the stairs, leaving me grasping at empty air as I fell still gripping my burlap sack. I awoke in a cold sweat and call Rebekah, who despite everything that happened between us, was still a good friend.

Me goofing off behind my sleeping step-father on the last vacation I'll ever share with them.

Me goofing off behind my sleeping step-father on the last vacation I’ll ever have with them.

My cousin derek, me, my brother and Jenifer

My cousin derek, me, my brother and Jenifer

I told her about my older brother and my dream, how I was struggling to find the right thing to do and her advice was for me to stand my ground. She believe the Lord was trying to warn me what would happen if I returned home, if I let my mother back into my life she would only break me again, she advised me told me to have a sit down with Dominic and just tell him everything.

Sadly I never had the chance, (I’m also a victim of always trying to find the right moment for such things) Because before I could, Dominic had asked me to a movie and when we pulled into the parking lot of the Danbury Theater, his phone rang as he parked his jeep he tossed me the phone saying,

“They want to talk to you,” and he jumped out of his jeep before I could ask who it was, but I should have guessed.

He shut the door and began pacing around the front of his jeep as I tentatively brought the phone to my ear and whispered, “Hello?”

The voice on the other ended mirrored my tone as they greeted me; my mother spoke as if she wasn’t sure how to proceed, asking me how I was, about my work and what I have been up to.

I answer, keeping my responses as short as possible, fearing my voice would betray me and hating how I still loved her even after everything that’s happened.

Like my brother, a part of me still wanted and longed for this family. Which I didn’t know until right then as I spoke with her that day on the phone, just hearing her voice made me realized how much I missed her, missed all of them  my little brothers I missed the most.

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She asked about my grievances, and then gave me apologies and excuses/explanations as I spoke. We ended our conversation with her telling me how much she missed and loved me; reluctantly I told her how I loved her too.

I wasn’t angry about what my brother did, at the time I actually felt a little better having talked with her. So in the weeks and months that followed I gradually allowed my brother to bring me around our mother. Naturally I was suspicious and wary at first, but gradually she managed to coax me out from behind my walls and for a while everything seemed fine. The past seemed good and gone and I began believing my mother had truly changed for the better. Yeah we still had our bumps in the road, but the ride wasn’t as rocky as it once was and I was happy to finally have my family back, even though my father had strongly disapproved of me trying to reestablished this relationship with my mother and her side of the family, but this was something I myself wanted and I wanted more than anything for it work, to be real, I needed it so that I could finally heal and maybe even forget about the past. Little did I know I was setting myself up to learn why it is they say you can never go home again.

CIMG0020

Scars of Who We Are Chapter IX

Scars of Who We Are Part IX
Young boy sitting on an old porch swing,
Waiting for his father to come and rescue him,
His tears dried and stained on his cheeks,
Wishing his life was more like his dreams,
Where nothing was ever as bad as it seems.

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Me on Easter Sunday

After the divorce it wasn’t long until my relationship with my mother began to change for the worse… But for a brief moment, I was somewhat okay with it, even though I longed and hoped my dad would one day return home, I did somewhat look forward to having two birthdays and Christmas’s every year, which for me was something and my dad always went above and beyond to give me a great Christmas, along with birthday celebrations I won’t soon forget.

It never did occur to me that my mother may have been better to me in those days just to keep me quiet about Chris who moved in with us just months after the divorce and to be honest I did like him for awhile there in the beginning, I think for the most part he did try to be a good fatherly figure to both me and my brother, so I didn’t have any real issue, plus he was a cop which back then was very cool, because who didn’t play cops and robbers when they were a kid?

His family was pretty cool too, and his dad Lewis was the best, always with a story to tell and with him being an actor, he always managed to keep me captivated with his emoting and his many voices. Not to mention the guy was awesome, always giving me pennies which back then could always win my favor, (Because I was always collecting and saving up change) Even to this day I will say no one can ask for a cooler step grandparent.

My favorite crime fighting Heroes.

My favorite crime fighting Heroes.

But I digress, because the day when everything changed for me was maybe a couple of months after Chris had started living with us and I was playing with my toys at the top of the steps, (which back then were mostly Teenage mutant Ninja turtles, which were my favorite. I can’t tell you why, but to me, you couldn’t get much better than the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and I loved everything about them, the toys, the cartoons, the movies, games, you name it I loved it.
tank
So there I was, playing on the top of the stairs, with my Turtles tank, and sub-marine, along with my various other Turtle related figures and (playing on the top of the stairs, was something both my brother and I were notorious for; partially because we’d be in our own little world and still be somewhat near the rest of the family and not closed off. Not to mention it made the best battlefield, the stairs in my mind would become treacherous mountain region, or become the the deep and unfathomable depths the ocean, with its perilous  underwater trenches. So, yeah I had a pretty spectacular imagination and still do.

 

It wasn’t too out of the ordinary for my mother to yell for one of us, which usually meant we made a mess somewhere, or didn’t put something away, or other typical kid stuff, that we do when we’re kids. So when I heard my mom yelling for me to get my butt into the kitchen, I honestly didn’t think anything of it, besides being a curious/nosy child I was pretty good and usually behaved myself, so I went knowing I hadn’t done anything wrong, so didn’t expect what happened to actually happen…

I stepped into the kitchen, expecting to be asked what I wanted for lunch, or to hear I had to get cleaned up to go out, but instead I was asked about a carton of grape juice that someone had left out on the kitchen table. Immediately I knew it wasn’t me, because back then I was the pickiest child in the world and I refused to drink anything other than orange, or apple juice, or well soda of course.

The Turtle Sub, man I loved this thing.

The Turtle Sub, man I loved this thing.

 

But I was extremely pick with both food and with what beverages I would drink, which may have been my downfall, because I smiled, knowing it hadn’t been me and believed my older brother would finally get into trouble instead of me. Because to be honest I had grown a little tired of him always getting me in trouble and this time I figured I was being the first questioned and with my being innocent, that all blame would fall on him.

 

I couldn’t have been more wrong. Because when she asked if I did it and I honestly told her no, she grabbed my arm, wrenching it painfully up over my head with her nails biting painfully into my arm, which startled me enough as it were, then she began screaming into my face, accusing me of lying.

 

Shaking me and swearing to me that she already knew it was me and she was sick of my lying, even as tears began racing down my cheeks, with me frantically telling her how it wasn’t me, trying to blurt out the words that I didn’t even like that kind of juice and that I hadn’t drank anything that day other than water. But she wouldn’t have it and smacked me hard across the face, leaving what felt like a burning imprint of her hand across my cheek, as she struck me again and again, ordering me now to stop crying.

 

I tried once more to to profess my innocence, but that only earned me several hard smacks to my rear, each one hard enough to lift me up off my feet, causing her nails to cut even deeper into my arm and as blood began to well up where her nails had bit into my arm, it was only then she released my arm and stopped hitting me enough to tell me how it was my fault for trying to throw myself to the floor when she held me by the arm. Then she proceeded to question me again and in a tearful display I tried once again to plead my innocence, but she grabbed me hard by the face, painfully squeezing my cheeks as she told me she already asked Dominic (My brother) and told me he had said he hadn’t done it, then I tried suggesting it was Chris (My soon to be step dad) When she told me he wouldn’t forget to return the juice and when I tried telling her it wasn’t me, she smacked me again, hauling me up off the floor and began beating me again, telling me every few swats that she would stop once I confessed and stop lying, insisting I was only making it worse for myself.

 

So… seeing no end in sight, I did what any frighted and scared boy my age would do, I confessed. I would have confessed to anything at that point and my reward was a whipping with the paddle, eight swats, (As if the beating I had been receiving hadn’t been punishment enough) Then I was grounded on top of it and ordered not to make a noise or she would give me something more to cry about.

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 I was seven years old, the first time I felt any kind hate, seven and I was already beginning to learn real fear and began my back and forth battle with myself, trying to figure out if my mother truly hated me or not. I was seven years old, when I made the biggest mistake of my life, because I was never allowed to forget this day. I was reminded every time I ever gotten into trouble, innocent or not my mother would bring this instance up, would remind me of my confession and that confession would forever mark me a liar. So I was never found innocent, even though 9 out of 10 times when I did do wrong, I would readily admit it once question and when I wasn’t guilty, I would get beaten and reminded of how big of a liar I was and how I had brought every punishment onto myself. Because if I lied once, in my mom’s world, I was a liar forever and always, allowing no room for innocence, ever. This would follow me up through my mid-twenties, when I was believe it or not, still being judged and weighed by things she had accused me of since I was seven. Making me wonder sometimes if I would have been better off if I would have just let her beaten me to death…..

 

Eventually, over the years I began to withdraw, keeping more and more to myself. Something I still struggle with today, because back in those days, I slowly learned the less of a presence I made of myself, the less I would be notice and the less i would be beaten.

 

I still remember, sitting in my room that day, wanting to destroy or break something in order to let out at least some of what I felt inside. So after beating my pillow flat, and punching my mattress into oblivion, I sat fuming in my room until my brother finally came home. It took him all of two seconds to realize something was wrong and I was upset and when he asked me what was wrong, I exploded, with my first words being “Mom hates me,” And he was quick to assure me that she didn’t. So I explained what happened and he was just like,

“Oh….” Then he smiled sheepishly and when I asked him about his smile, he said,

“I think I did leave the juice out.” And he was so cavalier about it I wanted to kill him, probably would have too if I didn’t also idolize him. Instead I told him I got punished for it and that he should tell our mom, which he claimed he would, but I doubt he ever did, but never before did I feel so alone.

 

It wasn’t until I was 15 that I learned it was all a game to her. I know this, because she all but told me it was. I was in my room and someone had broken a vase and when she came to my room and asked if it was me, I sighed, already knowing I hadn’t even touched the vase, or even knew one was broken in the first place. But, as she went on about how someone tried hiding it in the trash, underneath a bunch of stuff, which she was already claiming to be my usual M.O, I figured, “What the heck, what I can I really lose a this point?”

So with a sigh, I made my final false confession and I swear I could have knocked her over with a feather. She simply just stared at me, dumbstruck, before finally throwing her arms up in the air and saying and I quote,

“It’s not even fun anymore, if you’re not even trying to defend yourself!” And then just like that, she turned and stormed off, never punishing me, or bringing up the case of the broken vase ever again.

 

That said, she never did stop bringing up the first instance in my life with the juice, anytime my character was brought into question, she would bring my childhood back up and throw it back into my face. But adding how devious and sneaky I “always” was, because apprently kids arn’t suppose to ever explore, like I used to whenever I went somewhere new, like my aunt’s mansion. I would explore, look in all the drawers, explore every closet, etc. I was a kid, kid’s explore. I tried telling her this once, but she wouldn’t have it, sticking to her opnion that I was a sneaky little devil and would always be thus. This she kept up until just four years ago, when I had tried mending fences and when I thought everythign was going well and began, or thought I was forging a brand new relationship with her, until things fell apart and I was accused of something I would never do and that’s when I finally had enough.

I

                “Enough,” I shouted, exhausted and just tired of the whole ugly situation, (which I will talk about later in more detail)

“Just enough already,” I begged her, “you can’t keep judging me by how I was when I was seven. I was seven years old and I was a kid, but you use that to hold me accountable for things I never did and the worse part of it is, unlike my older brother, I never got into any trouble at school, or with the law, I was a good kid, I never gave you any problems, I never rebelled, I never broke curfew, I never been in any kind of trouble whatsoever, but you still hold me accountable for everything I did since I was seven, as if I’m incapable of ever changing or growing as a person. I’m so tired of you being so quick to call me liar and all these horrible things all because you believe I always lied as a kid. But truth is…truth is, I remember everything and the reasons you have for thinking I’m such a horrible person and liar, is because you wouldn’t ever let anything go, you would beat me until i confessed and not once did you ever question it. You never once realized that I always admitted to the things I did do wrong and if I ever said no to anything you would beaten me until I said yes. Whatever you have against me, let it go, please just let it go, I’m not a bad person I never was, all I wanted was a relationship with you and not because I had some grand ulterior motive, that makes you think I was just trying to get back at you for past wrongs. Which begs the question why, why would you think I would want to get back at you, unless in your heart of hearts you know you’ve done me wrong and this is your guilt, you want to believe I’m just like you, when I’m not.”

She responded by hanging up on me and we hadn’t spoken since and the crazy thing is, if she would find me and ask me for forgiveness, making just an attempt to amend past wrongs, I would forgive her, I would talk to her and never bring up the past ever again. I would start a fresh new relationship with her,  But that’s just who I am and the weight I carry and unfortunately as time goes by I know that will never happen. Even though every time the phone rings, or I check the mail, I pray to find something from her, at least telling he she’s out there thinking about me somewhere, at the very least an apology….And maybe an explanation other than the one I tell myself, which is that she’s sick and needs help, or medication, or something to help unburden this weight I carry.

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Why I write.

-Sometimes, we must journey through an eternity of darkness and pain in order to find our true selves.”-J Cooper

Seriously, writing is hard, and I am occasionally crazy and sometimes I can be a bit spacey. I can normally be found staring into space, talking to myself, or acting out elaborate scenes almost as if I’m choreographing an epic play. Because sometimes I kind of am. When it comes to my writing, I tend to skip making your basic outline, and web, instead I simply begin writing little mini chapters, or (type being the more opportune word or if you simply want to be a jerk about it and call be a typist) I sometimes skip around and write summaries or even chapters I’ve already played out and planned in my head. So I guess you can say I’m a very unconventional writer.

Although before I even begin writing I often create character bios, background, making an entire history to shape and mold the characters I write about. Each character has his or her mini story, so before I even begin to write, I already have my characters in place, their motivations and reasons why they are the way they are. I often imagine what it would be like to be each one of my characters, or simply be the casual observer, passing my characters by along the street.

Then I usually tell myself my writing sucks and no one would ever read my crap. (It’s always good to keep a realistic grasp of the situation.) But I always dive into the story regardless, knowing that the characters have taken on a life of their own and want their stories to be heard, stories that need to be explored.

Once I’ve written or typed (if you still want to be a jerk and call me a typist) the equivalent of 30-40 pages, I usually read, or skim over it for mistakes, revisions before I feel comfortable enough to let someone else read it, at which point I become a twelve year boy, who just passed a note to a pretty girl in class, because I get all giddy with anticipation to hear their feedback, thoughts and to talk to them about my story. Because I love feedback both the positive and the negative, because I can always correct the negative and the good always assures me I’m on the right track.

But I write almost every day, including when I’m on vacation. Sometimes for ten minutes, sometimes for 2 hours, sometimes for 12 hours; most often something rational and in-between. I don’t have a daily quota. I just write however much I write, and my plan is always changeable. I don’t force myself to write if it’s not working. I try not to check email or do other distracting things, but I don’t succeed very often, and that’s okay, because small rests and distractions are part of the process and help get those brain juices flowing.

My ideas tend to start with characters in my head who are having a conversation– usually arguments, or find themselves being tested, be it their faith, relationships, their dreams, or just their lives. Although most of my stories come from my dreams, where I often become more of a passenger in someone else’s body, witnessing their triumphs, their failures, their victories and their defeats, and  I’m always there with them along their journey. But then I listen to my characters, they’re so angry sometimes, or sad, so introspective and they all talk to me, like ghosts from another life who wants their stories to be heard and I can’t disappoint them. They want the world to know who they are and why, to know what their fighting for, and what it is they want. There’s everything from hate and vengeance, to redemption and salvation, all the way to stories of all-encompassing and all powerful love. More importantly however these characters want to live!

And so it all starts to come together.

Characters, relationships, and feelings come first. Then the setting, plot, and so on, till the story begins forming, coming together and much like Frankenstein’s monster, begins taking on a life of its own, writing itself at that point. Which is also usually when my fingers struggle to keep up with everything flowing and racing to get out of my brain and there are parts of the plot I don’t know until I get to them in the book itself, and (breath) it’s then they happen and even I get surprised and feel the suspense building, and the relief…or sometimes the disappointment in the resolution. Because not every story can end well, or even on a high note. Some and the very best stories are often wrought with tragedy and pain, but more importantly growth.

My characters are similarly elusive. A conversation I’m writing may veer off course or get out of hand; I can intend a character to say something, but it doesn’t mean he or she will. Instead my characters often surprise me. And then I realize I was wrong about who it was they were, or I realized my character had been growing this whole time and I adjust my perceptions and stand aside as my characters grow, mature, or sometimes regress and withdraw.

What else can I tell you about my writing process?

I sit in an armchair.

I spend a lot of time staring into space.

I talk to myself….a lot

I make playlist for whatever story I’m writing and call it my soundtrack.

I count the glow-in-the-dark stars on my ceiling.

I act out scenes to see and feel how they would play out, by imagining I’m them and every other character in the scene and thrust myself into their situation, studying every scenario and going over every outcome I can imagine. This sometimes even leads me to me writing a brief side story explaining the minor or supporting characters motives as well as telling their story as a whole.

I walk from the living room to the bedroom in search of something specific and by the time I get there I’ve forgotten what I was looking for and then I remind myself to break myself of the control the TV has over me and I try to sketch, or doodle something I see in my head until I forget whatever the heck it is that I’m doing, before I finally crack my knuckles and dive back into my writing.

When people knock on the door, I hide. When my phone rings, I yell, “Oh, who in the blazes is bothering me now?!” and don’t answer. But always check to see if they left me a nice little message.

Or when I’m stuck on a piece I call up a trusted friend explain a scene to them and ask for their thoughts, then throw out everything they say and come up with something completely different and new as I thank them for all their help and support right before hanging up on them in mid-sentence.

When I go for walks in the neighborhood I carry my Ipad and can often be seen exclaiming in triumph or scowling or laughing maniacally as I type frenziedly on it’s lovely keyboard before screaming out with vengeance, “Damn you autocorrect!” as I raise my fist to the heavens and shake it vigorlessly towards the sky.

Sometimes I worry that the house is going to burn down. This is why I keep my notebook in a fireproof, waterproof safe and have invested a small fortune in USB drives, portable hard drives, which I have scattered all over my house and place them inside my lovely safe. So when I go on vacation, I leave the key on top of the safe with a note for robbers asking them to please open the safe before deciding to steal it, because if they’d only open it, they’d see a picture of me, with a note pleading to them not to steal it, for I am a lowly writer and I will one day write a story that changes the world, because people will read again! And if they steal from me, I will find them and forever immortalize them in my next book, giving them every character flaw known to man, also explaining that I’m most likely broke and don’t keep any useful banking info on my computer, so there’s nothing really worth stealing anyway.

Before I had a fireproof, waterproof safe, I kept my notebook in a padded carrying case, which never left my side. Then Stephen King had told me that sometimes you’re too close and you just have to back away from your writing for a while– sometimes a long while and sometimes even longer than that. Things are a lot clearer after you’ve had some distance. Much like an ex-girlfriend who no matter how hard you tried making things work, the relationship simply falls apart and can’t be saved. But also like the rare ex, when she calls you up after a period of eleven months you begin to discover her all over again and remember why you had fallen in love with her in the first place. Which I’ll remind you, can cause a whole mess of other problems. But I digress…

I worry constantly about whatever book I’m currently writing. I worry about the wording, I worry about the themes, the plot as a whole, whether the characters seem to others the way they seem to me, whether the book is getting too long, whether my protagonist is likable, whether my fantasy world is consistent, whether I’ll be able to hold everything together, whether there’s even anything worth holding. There is never a moment when I don’t have something to worry about. I have learned however that this is just what it feels like to write a book. Most of the time, I can keep it from bothering me. You get good at ignoring the voices. Or giving them the attention that’s best for them: listening to them and laughing and giving them a hug, and saying, “Yes, I know you’re worried. It’s okay. Let’s go watch a pretty sunset and oh, let’s go get us a nice strawberry smoothie!”

I take my writing way too seriously. I can’t help it. I love it so much and writing is my life. Without I doubt I would have ever survived craziness of it all.

And writing is a strange activity, but humans are weird, right? A writer is an extreme type of a human being, we tend to over analyze everything, although we seem very good at reading people and noticing subtle plot changes, which by no means do we ever like it when it happens. I for one love and embrace change, while I also hate and fear change as well. But that’s just me and I’m a writer and writers are a little eccentric, a little weird and we’re all complex souls and I’m no exception. Because I also find that everything has its own soundtrack and whenever I write a new story I can be often be found making a playlist to coincide with my story, which helps me get into tune with my story and even helps with some much needed inspiration at times, and helps block out all the white noise after a long and arduous day of maintaining one’s sanity at their day job, along with all the little nuances that come with having a personal life.

So this is why I write and I hope I hadn’t bore you much, for I did try to be humorous because writing is supposed to be fun and should have some personality, and I think we can all agree that (Good) writing should inspire some kind of feeling, hope, love, fear, excitement or leaving you feel simply inspired.

-J Cooper.