The Men I love to Hate (poem)

The Men I love to hate

Have marked my life

Laughed in my dreams and let me squeeze the life out of their big league arms.

The men I love to hate

have eyes like narrow blades

Carefully measuring my body’s

Creases and tears  

Counting the thousand ways they can cut me the ways a woman cannot.

Men, hallow mannequins with guitar strings,

Vampires in mets caps, and alter boys who wear masks

With no holes for your fingers.

Their righteousness and guilt, a chip on their shoulder and a lump in their jeans

God damn baby, God damn

The Men I love to hate

never look me in the eye as they spit

Worthless, Whore, Dirty, Sick, You’re a liar! A little shit! 

Their sharp teeth tearing my clothes and sticking into flesh

Rabid wolves stopping at nothing, gnawing at my bones.

The Men I love to hate

Have called me sweetie pie,

A childhood of innapropritate longing, burn marks and wet white gowns,

I wanted to be a princess, but I figured this was all I’d ever get.

The Men I love to hate

buy me a drink and make me thirsty for their taste.

That sweet creamy pop

As they twist open the jar

Between my thighs

With their hairy cigarette stained fingers

Everything hairy

 Men, wet dogs happy to be stroked

who know nothing of my anger, of the hell inside my hips.

My lover, Jeremiah, the pretty catholic boy with the bible

Says I don’t trust him

He is a man I love to hate.

I threw a vase at his head the night I found a girl who put the flowers in his eyes.

He kissed me so hard my lips bled

Swollen and aching,  

Can anyone know how much I loved him?

How can I speak of him, of us, together the night he took me to the church attic, and had me on a small blue child’s chair

I tyed him up and fucked him

So hard he felt helpless and terrified.

The rage in his eyes mirroring mine, bats squeaking above our heads

As his touch made me drip

With sweat,

My back arched in a scream,  

Unable to see him, as he whimpered, and thrashed blue beneath my fingers

I love you, baby, please

Fighting him still until I closed my eyes, sleepily wondering 

When will the thrashing end?

When will my prince come

For me?

Photobooth (Poem)

I dreamed you were an angel when you got the call about the pills in my drawer.

You were dressed in a white t-shirt and black jeans and your hands laid upon my stomach sent yellow and green sparks as you kissed me so deep you could see the smoke

Rising from the fire starting in the stove of my heart.

"I will never let you die” you screamed.

You were sitting on my couch with your arms around me in the dark living room smelling of nagchampa incense and wet paint and I looked at you like you were an apparition in a Victorian novel,

A lover slipping through my walls and haunting me to keep me alive.

Tonight, it is less painful to breathe.

Maybe, because I heard you call my name and I thought I was in heaven,

When a car moved and I saw you standing on the sidewalk

In a white t-shirt and black jeans, smoking a cigarette as sunlight bounced and echoed through the green cypress leaves

Or maybe it is because I am sitting here, watching the candle flame flicker with you, touching the bandages.

“I miss you” You whisper “Don’t push me away.”

I tell you I have tried, but I know I will love you all of my life.

The angel says he loves me too

And a tightness in my throat causes me to lose my breathe, and tears fall

Burning my chest

On the black and white photograph strip

Un-crumpled from

inside my drawer.

Glass Man and Ice Babe (A Love Story)

When I turned 30, I decided I would move to Juarez, not halfheartedly, but full on, research the history of the drug cartel, learn Spanish, maybe even get a maid for 35 cents a week. It seemed like something a serious journalist could really sink his teeth into. Then I turned thirty and met Rebecca, and everything changed. I was sitting at Starbucks, sipping my Venti chai latte, and growling at the nonsmoking sticker after a busy day at Shake United Magazine. We were preparing our September Issue about high luxury rain gear and I had just got done fact checking a story about a multimillion dollar umbrella made out of emeralds and was feeling rather flush. To be honest, I fucking hated my job and didn’t give a shit that Tiffany’s made parkas. I wanted to be a journalist to inform and capture amazing stories about people’s lives, not advertise Sonoma placemats. Most of my time, I sat in my cubicle watching porn and debating whether or not to set myself on fire with my cigarette lighter. My therapist told me I was depressed, but really, I was trapped, suffocating in a superficial photo-shopped plastic world. Rebecca was walking on the sidewalk holding a large red Icee in a Peirce the Viel sweatshirt and jeans of all things in the 100 degree August heat and man, I was so pissed off that my editor wanted me to write a piece about Grunge Fashion, I just wanted to tear off her clothes.  Her pink hair was matted to her neck in sweat, and she was barefoot and panting on the sidewalk, wiping her forehead with her sleeve as she put on her purple sunglasses.  I had watched Rebecca walk daily, wearing the same sweatshirt until she would pause by a bridge and sit down, kicking her little feet off the edge as she put in her earphones and stared at the water tinted the color iced tea. Each day on the way home from work, I’d stop at Starbucks and pass her sitting there, wondering if she had a car, and why she never wore any shoes- but I never talked to her. Usually, I’d come home, smoke some weed, comfort eat $10 gourmet gluten free white cheddar popcorn in my god damn blue Sonoma bowl, iron my shirt for the next day, and think about what I would say to her if I ever got the courage. She seemed so interesting- like finding your grandmother’s jewelry box with love letters inside the drawer. You know you shouldn’t read them, but holding them wrinkled in your hand, you just want more. That summer day, I folded my Ipad in its case, and approached her.

“Icee girl, do you need a ride?”

She seemed startled- as if I was talking to someone else- but then I realized she was listening to her music loudly and tapped her on her orange cat fur covered sleeve. Rebecca stiffened.

“I no want Ipad.”

 I figured she thought I was one of those creepers who stand outside of Walmart selling Siamese cats at 2 am and laughed. Rebecca took her earbuds out of her ear and shook her head as if she had just gone underwater.

 “I wasn’t selling you my Ipad, I was wondering if you had a car, or if you needed a ride. “ I said.

She looked out at the sidewalk, then back at me. Her eyes were the color of the sky in a Wes craven movie, cloudy and if you look close enough, dead inside. 

“I like walking.” Rebecca said.  “I live right across the bridge.”

“Oh, I know. I’ve seen you-” I said. “I mean, not in a creepy way like I stalk you or anything- is that cherry flavored?”

“Yes, actually.”

“Do you get the same flavor each time? Why do you walk so much? And in a sweatshirt? In July?!”

“What is this an interrogation?”

“Sorry. I’m a journalist.” I placed my hands inside my pocket wishing I wasn’t so awkward. “My name’s Ted.”

“I’m Rebecca. That sounds cool! Do you like it?”

“I want to kill myself.” I grinned. “Why an ICEE?”

“I got my tongue pierced a few months ago and it’s soothing.” 

“Are you sure you don’t want a water or anything?”

“Are you writing a story about me?” Rebecca smiled and I saw a flash of metal inside her stained mouth.

  “Maybe. Wanna walk this way?” I nodded my head towards my black Mitsubishi with a small simper, and Rebecca, swiped her hair to the side and bit her lip.

“Okay, Teddy bear.”

I fumbled with my keys then opened the door while Rebecca swirled her red straw in her ICEE’S remains.

“Is it okay if I take off my shoes?” Rebecca said.

I looked down at her feet caked in mud and grass clippings. Her red toe nails were chipped and she was missing the big toe.  

“I’d prefer if you didn’t.”

Rebecca nodded then took off her flip flops and stared at me like a cat.

“You have a nice place.” Rebecca said. “Did you decorate yourself?”

I looked at her naked big toe then at her. “Um yes. Actually, it was the Sonoma catalogue. “

She followed me into the kitchen, her dirty feet thudding on my freshly polished hardwood floor.

“You’re really into Sonoma, huh?” Rebecca said, holding my blue bowl and looking at the sticker still on the back. I opened my stainless steel fridge and grabbed a bottle of water but all I could think about was Rebecca’s dirty feet and the little Lamasil demon I watched at work and I wondered if she had a disease of some kind. Youtube always shoved the most inappropriate commercials in while I was at work trying to jerk off.  I handed Rebecca a water, then took a swig of mine.

“I hate it. I hate this apartment.”

“Then what are you doing here?” Rebecca spewed her water out all over my granite counter top. “This tastes like vodka!”

I grabbed the bottle from her and smelled it. “Sorry, that’s my work bottle.”

Rebecca took off her sweatshirt and revealed a white Tank top, somehow, only slightly stained with sweat. The air conditioning had caused her nipples to raise slightly, and her chest was flushed pink. It was cold but the smell of her body echoed. Rebecca’s amber eyes locked on me staring at her and a change overcame them like dropping a stone into lake and counting the ripples. 

“So let me get this straight, you hate your job, you hate your house- is there anything you like to do?”

“Don’t laugh.” I took a swig from my bottle. “But I want to go to Mexico.”

“To try cocaine?” Rebecca smirked.

“No. Go undercover and write about the drug ring. I want to write about the history of it, the meaning behind it-“

“Wow. What’s stopping you?”     

“I don’t know. It’s comfortable here. Mexico seems like a dumb dream, a waste of money, and a way to get seriously injured or killed.“

“I pierce and stab people for a living.” She was playing with my blue bowl, tossing it in the air like a pizza. 

“What?”

“I’m a tattoo artist at Tree Life. Pain has never stopped anyone from doing stupid shit before. Why is it stopping you?”

 I leaned back against the counter placing my hand to my face when Rebecca dropped my bowl with a loud crack. Shards of blue glass flew all over my hardwood floor and Rebecca got down on her knees.

“Shit! I’m so sorry!”

 “You broke my blue bowl” I said, slowly.

“Fuck, I know. What was it? $2.00?”

“No.” I got down onto her level and grinned breathlessly. “$35!”

Rebecca tried to pick up a piece of glass when a sliver sliced her finger. I took her hand in mine.

“Ouch!”

“Don’t move you’re barefoot!” I leaned across the broken pieces and grabbed her, scooping her into my arms and carrying her into my room. The glass crunched beneath my feet. “It’s okay, I have tweezers.”

“Of course you do.” Rebecca said. I placed her on my futon and laughed.

“Fuck you.”

“Well, Okay. If you want to.” Rebecca smiled, as I delicately turned over her hand. Her skin was pale, smooth, soft, and I took a deep breath seeing how small and perfect they were, like stars.  

“There’s no glass. Just a little cut. You have nice hands.”

“Thanks. Yours are so warm.”   

I don’t know who kissed who. Rebecca pulled me down on top of her, her hands clawing down my back. I felt her cool metal tongue against mine and moved my hands beneath her to squeeze her peach of an ass. I came up for air, unbuttoning my jeans, and throwing them, knocking over my Urban Outfitters light with a crash.

                                                                                 ****

“You really like to break things, dontcha?” I said. We were driving 90 miles per hour to the pharmacy when the light turned red and I stepped on the breaks hard. I turned Korn on as high as the speakers could go.

“Cute.” Rebecca said. “It’s not my fault the condom broke! You were the one who wanted me to go upside down!”

“I wrote a trapeze column and it really turned me on!” The light turned green and I hit the gas. It was two minutes to 10, the time the pharmacy would close.

“Would you stop driving so crazy? I could be pregnant right now!” Rebecca lit a cigarette.

“You know, if the pill doesn’t work, you could always smoke and drink a lot.”

“Fuck you.”

 “You already did, silly!” I grinned and Rebecca punched me hard.

“My god, what if I’m pregnant?”

“Relax. My ex girlfriend took the pill before. It works for 75 hours after. You just might have some cramps.”

“So you have broken condoms before?” Rebecca said. She was seated indian style in the passenger seat barefoot. Her red hair was flying with the windows rolled down as we drove past the beach gift shop and she reminded me of a punk rock version of the Little Mermaid.

“No. I had sex with her in my sleep once.”

“What the FUCK?!”  I stopped at another red light and Rebecca took my keys straight from the ignition.

“My car was still in drive! You’re going to ruin the transmission, Psycho!”

 “YOU NEVER TREAT A WOMAN THAT WAY!”

“I was on Ambien for insomnia! I had sex with a bowl of mac and cheese too!”

Rebecca screamed, then began to cry violently. I was beginning to think there was something seriously wrong with her. Maybe her period was coming soon- at least, hopefully. “Honey, don’t cry.” I put my arm around her and kissed her on the forehead.

“Could you hold me?”

“Of course.” I unbuckled my seatbelt and reached across the shift. Rebecca leaned into my chest and moaned.

“It hurts.”

“What hurts?” I looked up at the intersection and saw the light was still red.

“This is where. This is where.” Rebecca repeated. She pointed at her stomach.

“Your stomach hurts?!”

“I’m so empty! ” Rebecca wailed, shaking against me before she let her head fall to her knees, her face shielded by a curtain of red hair.

“Oh, sweetie.” I pet her head. “Um, maybe after we go to CVS we can get you some Wendy’s or something? Maybe a frostie?”

“I like frosties.” Rebecca stopped crying.

“Um who doesn’t?!” 

Rebecca lifted her head, and wiped her eyes smiling a little. I took the keys as the light changed green. When we had finally pulled into the CVS parking lot, I grabbed Rebecca’s hand and she trailed along beside me. The lights were off and the gate was closed. Luckily, I spotted the tablet in the aisle and grabbed it sighing about the cost. Rebecca started crying again.

“I can’t do this alone.”

“You’re not alone! Do you hear me?! I’m not going to leave you. You are a beautifully strange woman and I love you.”

I watched Rebecca down the forty dollar tablet with a chocolate frosty and six cigarettes sitting on my couch. Then, I put my arm around her.  

“Teddy bear, tell me a story. I’m really tired.”

“Once upon a time, there was a couple of ninjas and they decided to make a porno.”

Rebecca laughed. She nuzzled her cheek into my shirt as if she had done this for years then closed her eyes, and I pulled her closer. There was something about her and that night that made me wonder if we’d be together forever, and then there was another part of me, a small part of me, that asked like lightning,  what the hell did I get myself into.  

I awoke to the sound of Rebecca’s Disturbed ringtone lying next to her on the couch. The clock read 4:50 am.

“Wake up sleepy head!” Rebecca sang. She sat on her knees and began kissing my face like a puppy. 

“It’s 5’oclock in the morning.”  

“Let’s go to the beach!”

“It’s still dark outside,” I said.

“The sun will rise soon!!”

I followed Rebecca outside where I could see the first peach ribbons of sunrise along the horizon. It was weird, but even though I had lived on the beach, I had never bothered to step outside on the sand before dawn. Rebecca took off her T-shirt and ran naked into the ocean.

“We’re going to get arrested!!” I screamed. I followed her to the ocean’s edge watching her red head bobble in the clear waves.

“No one is awake yet.”

 I undid my shoelaces, my sneakers still on from the previous night and noticed a piece of blue glass in my sock. 

“Are you on any kind of drugs? I’m not being mean, I’m just curious.”

“I’m just a fish swimming by, Teddy. “ Rebecca smiled. “Come catch me.” Rebecca went under then, her head disappearing beneath a white cap. I took off my shirt then waded in the water where I found her soft shilloutte and held her from behind. Her body was stiff at first until she began to relax while the waves rocked us back and forth and a splash of salt got in my mouth. I coughed and Rebecca laughed, pointed.

“Look! It’s the sun!”   

A blinding white orb rose from the blue water into a pink orange and lavender sky. Rebecca squeezed my hand.

“Isn’t it so beautiful?”

“Yeah.” I breathed. “It really is.”

 “Shit! What time is it?” Rebecca said.

 “Um 6 ish maybe?”

She ran onto the beach, naked still, and I could see the tattoo on her forearm that read Feel the fear and do it anyway in middle evil black script as she wrenched the water out of her hair.

“I got to go get ready for court at 8!” Could you take me home?”

“Court?!” 

“Yeah, hopefully I’ll get my car back today.”

Rebecca ran dripping inside and I followed after her. I asked her if she had a DUI when I slipped on the wet floor and landed flat on my back.

“No! Why does everyone think that?” Rebecca said. She gave me a hand and I pushed it away, helping myself up. “I moved out of my ex boyfriend’s house and my car insurance got mailed to the wrong address and I never paid it. Could I borrow one of your shirts?”

“I doubt if any will fit you.” I took one of my Xanax then opened my walk in closet full of Ralph Lauren button downs in teel, turquoise, navy, indigo, cerulean, cobalt, and lavender. “Why did you guys break up anyway?” 

“I wanted to be with a man who has more balls than I do. Why do you only have blue shirts?!” She had a cigarette in her teeth, her sixth that morning, and was trying to light it. I handed her a navy polo on a wire hanger. 

“They’re good for work and blue is my favorite color.”

“Mhmm.” Rebecca said.  She grabbed her orange lighter, and set my polo color on fire, then dropped it like a crumpled Kleenex on the hardwood floor.

“JESUS CHRIST!! ” I dropped my happy pills stomping on the sleeve that caught flame. “Did your exboyfriend know you were a pyro too?!”

Rebecca did the most amazing thing, then. She handed me her lighter, and placed her hands on top of mine.

“Feel that fire? It’s right there inside you.”

She leaned in as if she was about to kiss me, but didn’t.

“I hate these shirts.” I said. “I hate this apartment. I hate these god damn pills!” I kicked the orange prescription bottle.

“Do it.” Rebecca lifted the burned shirt off the floor. I looked through the empty space surrounded by ash. “Do it.” Rebecca repeated, her voice dark as her black expressionless eyes. “Do it!”

I cocked my head to the side, then lit a corner, and a smile overcame my face for the first time in years. Rebecca screamed and I kissed her so hard our teeth knocked together. We fell back into a row of blue fabric, and I lifted her into my arms, nearly tripping over the bottle of Xanax, and slamming her against a wall. It was a release better than an orgasm. Rebecca slid off my wet underwear and I carried her with Dolce And Gabana still around my ankles to bed, panting. About two hours later, Rebecca put on one of my shirts, and her dirty yellow flip flops and we speed to the courthouse, arriving five minutes late. I came back and waited outside in the hall, a couple of bagels in hand when I saw a guy in an orange jump suit being escorted away.

Rebecca arrived on the marble staircase twirling her red hair in her fingers. Her face was blank and when I handed her the brown paper bag her voice cracked.

“I got my car back” Rebecca said. “”Everything’s going to be lifted and I won’t have to pay.”

“That’s great, Honey. I thought I’d surprise you before I went to work-”

“Is that cinnamon raisin swirl?”  Rebecca’s lip quivered and she started to cry. I enveloped her in my arms while she heaved, then pulled away. There was a snot mark on my shoulder. “ Please don’t go.”

“Go where?”

She took a deep breath. Then, as mysteriously as she began crying, she stopped and a wall of snow came over her the flowers of her green eyes. “I have work today.”

“Okay, do you need a ride to get your car?”

“No. Were finished here.” Rebecca pivoted, and turned around, her flip-flops making a crick crack crick crack sound on the polished courthouse floor.  

   “Hey!” I touched her shoulder. “I called in sick. I’m coming with you.”

We arrived at the tattoo parlor around noon where a man was waiting to get a tattoo of Garfeild on his ass. I believe he was drunk, but then again, Rebecca was stone cold sober when she gave herself a tattoo of a piece of toast on her ankle. During breaks, I asked her what each of hers meant. She lifted her shirt and showed me the number 6 on her left hip.

“I was just sitting in my living room with one of my buddies one night and told them to put a six right there.” Rebecca said, giving her side a smack.

“Why?”

“It’s a cover up tattoo.”

“Of what?”

“ A scar. My dad beat me when I was little.” Rebecca said. She pulled her shirt down and undid several button’s revealing a large snowflake on her chest. “Here’s another one. He got me really good.”

“God, I’m sorry.”

“Don’t be. I was a little shit who deserved it. He left.” She snapped on white latex gloves.  “Now, what are you gonna get?”  

  “No thanks.”

“What’s the matter, pussy?”

“Shut up.”

“Besides porn, what has always made you happy?”

I grinned, thinking.

“I’ve always liked stars. When I was in the boy scouts when I was younger, we used to sleep under the stars whenever we went camping and I’d always see the big dipper-”

Rebecca smiled a little, then placed her hand on the back of her neck and looked down. 

“Are you okay?” I said.

“Yeah, fine.” Rebecca grabbed her pen, and straddled the metal chair. “Let’s get you your stars.”

“I wish I went camping more often” I continued, ignoring her.

“Then why don’t you?”

“No one to go with.” I laughed. “There’s no outlets for IPHONE chargers in redwood trees and Michael Kors doesn’t make tents. When I’m outside it’s like I’m free.”

“I’d go with you if you want.” Rebecca said. “But, you have to get a tattoo first.”

“That’s not a fair trade at all.”

“Well, I guess you don’t want freedom bad enough.” Rebecca smirked, buzzing her gun. “Or maybe you’re just afraid of the pain.”

I took off my shirt, hating her and loving her at the same time.

“Go ahead, Babe.”

Five days of lying on a pack of pee’s later, I arrived on Rebbecca’s door step carrying my suitcase, my tent and gear in the trunk. I could hear the pitter patter of her barefeet running inside.

“I know you’re in there!”

I knocked again, when Rebecca slowly peaked through the chained door.

“I don’t know if I can go. I’m sick.”

“Sick? What’s wrong?”

She undid the brass chain and let me in, showing me a thermometer.

“See!”

“This says you have a fever of 112.” I laughed. “It’s warm. Did you stick this in a microwave?”    

“No, the toaster actually.” Rebecca smiled. Her small bag was on the couch. “I’ve never been camping and I’m probably just going to get in your way so I think I’d rather stay home.”

“There is a tattoo of the big dipper and an alien on my ass!”

“Yeah” Rebecca laughed. “I thought it would look cool.”

I picked her up and put her on my shoulder.

“You are such a misogynist pig! Put me down!”

“You are going to come camping with me.” I said.

The car ride was quiet and Rebecca seemed to be faraway. I asked her what was wrong and she shook her head. “Nothing. Do you like books on tape?”

“Not especially.”

Rebecca grabbed her Ipod and pushed play on a copy of James Frey’s A million little pieces read by Morgan Freidman.

“This book is stupid. He made the whole thing so dramatic for money.”

  “No he did not!”

“Of course he did! No one has lived a life that fucked up!”

“Yeah.” Rebecca said. “I guess you’re right.”

We pulled into the park, where I saw that there was a lake for Kayaking and touched her shoulder but Rebecca was staring out the window. There was a yellow slide and a little girl playing with her father.

“Rebecca” I said.

“Yeah?”

“Do you want to talk about anything?”

“No.” She grabbed her knapsack roughly from the back. “Let’s put up this tent and make a fire already.” Morgan friedman told us about getting implants without any kind of anastesia in Drug rehab while we put up the tent, then Rebecca kicked off her shoes and walked across the clearing away from me.

  “Why do you keep running away? Can you please just talk to me?”   

“I can’t.” Rebecca said. She looked up over at a trail pathway and saw a woman screaming on a zipline and got one those crazy smiles of hers. 

The wind whipped through the ropes as we placed on our red helmets. I stared up at the metal wire that was meant to support us, then back at Rebecca, who had started to climb. She missed a loop and screamed. She was breathing heavily, freaked out from the drop and wearing a harness two sizes too big.

 “Sweetie, you need to tighten this.” I said. I adjusted the straps as Rebecca clung to the ropes for dear life. Her shoe fell off, landing 180 feet down. We could see houses in the distance above the trees that had began to turn orange, red, and green with the fall. It was incredibly cold in the high altitude, and the wind knocked us side to side.

“This is fun” Rebecca panted. She continued to climb, balancing on the rope like a tightrope walker. She took a strand of hair out of her mouth. “If we survive, can we get ICEE’s after this?” I grabbed the wire, forgetting that I was only supposed to use my balance and the harness.

“I think there’s a Seven Eleven across the street.” I said. Rebecca struggled to hang on, and I watched her wobble, giggling, but I could tell she was afraid. “Just take my hand and we’ll use each other.”

I went to grab Rebecca’s hand, then lost my balance once more, and took her arm instead.  

“We should move on the count of three.” I said.

“Okay” Rebecca grinned, then ran across the wire like an elf, when a gust of wind blew her off the wire and she dropped 50 feet down screaming, until her harness caught and suspended her, midair.   

“Help!”

“It’s okay, honey. I’m going to get you.”

The suspension from her harness, the fall, and the wind, caused her to swing.

“WEEEEEEEEEE!” Rebecca said.

I dropped to my knees on the wire, then lowered myself down onto the next wooden platform closer to her. We were halfway across to the zipline.  

“Grab my hand!”

“I can’t!” Rebecca looked down then back up at me.

“I’m right here, honey!”   

“I can’t!” Rebecca grabbed my arm. I smiled down at her, and the two of us laughed.

“See? I got you! You want to go upside down again?”

Rebecca pulled herself up and I lifted her onto the platform with me and kissed her lips like a fire that burned everything to ash. She let go of her harness, hooking her fingers onto mine

“Thank you.”

When we reached the zipline, I sat on the wooden platform, counting until we would let go as the attendants strapped us together.

“1-2-“

“Let’s go!” Rebbecca screamed as well fell to the dark ground. Wind whipped through our clothes and for a moment it felt like we were flying. Suddenly, I felt Rebecca take my hand for the first time and hold it back to camp.

We sat down on our sleeping bag laughing.

“I think this is the most fun I’ve ever had camping,” Rebecca said.

“I thought you said you’ve never been camping before?” I said.

“Oh.” Rebecca paused, crossing her legs. “Yeah. I guess I must have forgot. It was a long time ago.”

She went into her bag pulling out a long sleeve t-shirt, then took off her tank top revealing the large snowflake. I reached out and placed my entire hand on her chest, looking at the intricate design and goose bumps in between the spaces of my fingers.   

“What made you get a snowflake?”

“I told you. Battlescars.” Rebecca said. She cleared her throat and I saw the reflection of tears in her eyes from the fire. “I’m cold.”

“You’re always cold.” I laughed. Rebecca put on her shirt then moved in front of me, closer to the fire. I placed my arms around her and kissed her on the forehead.  Neither of us spoke for a while.

 “After my dad left, my mom started drinking a lot and she got remarried. She was always drunk and he took care of me most of the time.”

“Did he hit you too?” I said.

“Sometimes” Rebecca laughed. “He took me camping one winter when I was 12 and beat me. The pain was so bad I fell unconscious. When I woke up he was gone. A scout ranger found me, and I was so cold he took off all my clothes and stuffed me in a sleepingbag with him. They took me away from my mom after that and I lived with a foster mom for a while.”

“Oh my god!”

Rebecca didn’t look at me. She looked straight forward at the flame.

“I had sex with her husband because he bought me things even though he was 43 and I was 15. He promised he’d pay for me to go to art school if I didn’t tell anyone. So I didn’t. I just wanted it so bad. That was pretty stupid, right?”   

“No you were young! You did the best you could at the time. You’re only 22 and you’ve been through so much pain.”

“I can’t feel anything anymore. “ Rebecca looked at me and I saw she was crying. “I’m frozen.”

“Well, I know you can feel.” I said.

 “How do you know?”

“You can feel me. You’re just afraid.”

Rebecca raised an eyebrow. “You’re a pussy! What’s to be afraid of?”

I laughed and pulled her down on top of me and kissed her.  

“I love you.”

“You’re only saying that because you think I’m Prego,” Rebecca snickered.

“I just love you. Believe that.”

At work the next Friday morning, I was sitting at my desk drinking my chai latte when my editor noticed my green hair and came in.

“Interesting color, Ted. “ She was wearing her Michael Kors sunflower skirt and leather jacket, the outfit she always wore on Mondays. It was 11:45, the time she always went out to pick up her daily lunch of Tuna fish and baked lays – carrot chips if she was counting carbs.

“Oh, yeah, my girlfriend thought it would look cool.”

“May I see you in my office for a few minutes?”

“Shure” I stood up in my stained Stewie Griffin Boxers and followed her.

Rebecca seemed to think the only way I’d ever find a new job that made me happy was if I got fired- and getting fired required drastic measures.  We had spent the past week drinking Icee’s spiked with vodka, stealing a cookie cake from Shop Right, and egging peoples houses naked. We had almost gotten caught when Rebecca took a shit on her mother’s porch. The previous night we had played airhockey at an Chuck E Cheese and had sex in the tunnels.

My editor shut the door behind me and I looked at a picture of her and her son in a silver frame.

“Theodore, I’ve received word from one of my friends at The Onion that they’d really like you to come work for them.”

“The Onion?” Instantly, I remembered the business trip where a man tapped me on the shoulder and handed me his card.

“I am prepared to offer you a raise, but ultimately the choice you make is your own. I know you haven’t been very happy here”

I walked out of her office, smiling, and went to my car to call Rebecca when I noticed there was six missed calls and a voicemail on my phone. I arrived at the Emergency Room as soon as I could. The doctor, a tall blonde man asked If I was Ted. Then shook my hand. Rebecca was sitting up in a backless gown, hugging her knees. I sat down next to her, taking off my leather jacket and placed it on her shoulders.

“I lost him, Teddy.” Rebecca said. I cupped her face, and cradled her as she cried. The doctor said due to her trauma history, there was little chance of her being able to carry a baby to full term in the future.  I didn’t ask what trauma history, I just went down to the hospital gift shop and bought her a stuffed animal and a cherry ICEE. When I brought her home, she opened her car door and ran inside the house. I chased after her, opening her front door just as she was about to dead bolt it.

“I’m staying with you tonight.” I said.

“I don’t need you here!” She stomped her dirty feet like a toddler.

“I don’t care if you don’t need me here, I want to be here with you—-” I looked around at the dirty couch cushions stained with hair dye, highlighters, and pizza grease, and covered in popcorn kernels. “Okay maybe not here.” There was half finished canvases all over the place, broken beer bottles, and a piece of bologna hot glued to the wall.

Rebecca laughed. “Sorry my apartment is kinda messy.”

“This place is disgusting!”  I giggled. “Where are we going to sleep?”

“I don’t know. I’m going to take a bath and eat icecream.”  She grabbed a carton of Twix cookie crumble and walked towards the bathroom.

 “At the same time?! Do you want me to clean for you while your in here?”

Rebecca shook her head with the spoon in her mouth.  “Just get in here with me.”

I dipped my toe in, sure that Rebecca had turned the water as hot as it could go. I grabbed a tray of ice from the fridge and stuck it in the tub, then eased myself in in front of her whining. I knew I couldn’t bring up working for The Onion now.

“Teddy” Rebecca said. She was shoving icecream into her mouth wildly, then stuck a spoonful in mine.

“Yes?” I crunched on a twix.  

“I love you.”

“I love you too baby.”

Rebecca started crying, and I took away her pint and held her.

“Tell me a story,” Rebecca said.

“Once upon a time, a glass man who met a woman made of ice. She was lovely, but she spent most of her days melting. When the woman turned to slush, he was the cup she drank from. The glass man asked the woman to go with him on a journey.”

“Did they live happily ever after?”

“That depends.” I pressed my forehead against hers.  “Come with me.”

 

 

 

 

 

Preach it, Sister.

Preach it, Sister.

My Treat (A Short Story)

The afternoon my girlfriend was released from the hospital, all I wanted was a snickers bar, but 7/11 was all out. My girlfriend Maggie loves to drive listening to Rob Zombie. She loves to listen to Rob Zombie when she cooks, cleans, wakes, reads the morning paper, sleeps and screws. There isn’t a lot that she doesn’t enjoy doing listening to Rob Zombie. I listen to Rob Zombie when I’m setting pictures and love poems from my boyfriends’ on fire, or when I’m really high. Given that I seldom get high, and I started sleeping with another woman, I rarely blast Dragula in my speakers. As for listening to some creepy rasta pirate scream out of the context of making out with a stranger on Halloween dressed like a fairy, or spiraling down the rabbit hole and seeing the little fuckers- well, frankly, I don’t see the point. But Maggie loved Rob Zombie before Rob Zombie was cool, and we were listening to Superbeast on the way home, talking about our plans to Pennsylvania when the fighting began. Maggie and I were going to see my ex-husband James get married to a hippie named Whale Maiden in the Adirondacks the next morning- and neither of us were looking forward to the two hour car ride or the bizarre vows that would take place in the woods where the Blair Witch Project was filmed. James was a kickass agent who pushed the limit and never took no for an answer, and I was his bestseller- the author of the erotic alien bondage trilogy 27 Tones Of Green. My paperbacks had made so many sales at CVS, that I frequently saw the cover with a little green man grabbing a woman’s breast and holding a whip on top of neighbor’s coffee tables, and all of my creative writing students at Harpers Community college quoted my sex scenes:

Hemmingway pressed his hard probed finger into my mouth. He whimpered,Phone home.”  

Even Whale Maiden had invited me to the bridal shower to sign her friend’s copies. I could just picture the wedding now. Whale Maiden would slip the elders a hit of acid in the cake icing, and the photographer would capture the reception filled with screams, tears, and pretty colors.

“Why exactly do I have to come to this again?” Maggie said. She was breathing from a crack in the window while I chain-smoked. To be honest, I didn’t know why I RSVP’d yes. The hemp wedding invitation envelope with rainbow Lisa Frank stickers had arrived in the mail a few days after Maggie slit her wrists with one of my steak knives, and I wasn’t exactly in the right frame of mind when I checked Tofu for my dinner choice at the time. Shit, I could of have gotten a knock on my door that I won Publishers clearing house, and I would have told them I didn’t want any Girl Scout cookies. The good news was that Maggie was stable. The bad news was with her bipolar disorder I never knew for how long. We had been dating for 11 months and five days, and her mood swings were no longer foreign to me. I was a romance writer that didn’t have a lot of money after my divorce, and Maggie had moved into my duplex a year ago. James and I had irreconcilable differences. For starters, I was an atheist and he was a Jehovah’s Witness that didn’t know how to floss. In fact, during our first interview, when I noticed that Maggie was wearing a cross necklace and eating a poppy seed bagel, I almost didn’t give her the room. I had placed an Ad on Craig’s list specifically stating Single White Female Agnostics only. I thought that would exclude the mentally unstable- but instead I just got a bunch of dumb ass callers asking me: What is a roommate? Don’t we all live inside the cells of society? I was turning 29 in August for god sake! I didn’t want to lay around taking bong hits and talking about the social construct of Spam on my couch. I just needed someone to pay the bills and rinse her cereal bowls in the sink. The morning I found her reading my For Rent sign on the YMCA bulletin board, I was trying to get cute ideas of what to call “penis” in my repressed Victorian ninja story, and had put my last dollar in the vending machine for a snickers when the silver hook caught on the edge of the brown candy wrapper and stopped - just like that.

“It took my last dollar!” I said to no one really, then began screaming and pummeling the glass case with my fists.

Maggie’s small pink fingernails tapped my shoulder. She was 22 but she looked about four years younger was wearing a soft baby pink long sleeve t-shirt and some leopard print Victoria’s Secret Yoga pants that read I WANT CANDY on the ass, and a large cross necklace. She had the lords’ prayer tattooed to her back, a faith tramp stamp, and Corinthians five tattooed on her wrist. I had recognized her as a creative writing student of mine a few semesters ago who brought a rose guitar to class every day and told me 27 Shades of Green was pathetic.  

“I hate when that happens.” She smiled and her eyes turned to cups of sugar quieting the rage inside me. “May I?” She gestured towards the vending machine and I gave a halfhearted shrug and stepped to the side. I figured she would just give the machine another dollar, or maybe a firm shake. Instead, Maggie ran and hit the side of the vending machine like a quarterback in the last three minutes of the Superbowl, her bony shoulder making a large cracking noise as she fell onto the linoleum floor with a smack and hit her head.

I got down onto the ground, and cupped her small blonde head.

“Are you okay?!”    

Maggie nodded, slowly, and sat up. Her face was still in my hands and I could smell her cotton candy lip gloss. She leaned forward inches away from my face and for a moment, I thought she was about to kiss me when she held up a snickers bar.

“My treat.” Maggie grinned.

   I had never planned on being with a woman- especially not a born again Baptist. Although, Maggie’s speaking in tongues did come in handy in other areas. Maggie was a great singer. I didn’t even mind listening to her play Korn for hours when I was trying to grade papers at night. In fact, sometimes, I just put down my pen, and watched her instead. I sighed and turned down the radio.

 “Because it’s a wedding. We can dance together, and go look at the leaves and you know they’ll have free cake. It’s going to be so fun-”

“I don’t want cake. I just want to be alone.”

“I don’t care what you want!” I screamed. Neither of us spoke while I turned into the Seven Eleven for gas. As soon as I parked, Maggie bolted inside.

 I slammed my door and followed her. When I walked inside, I looked down the candy aisle across from the cherry slurpie machine. No god damn snickers. I knew she was sitting in the bathroom stall, kicking her ballet slipper covered feet, but I wanted to be there with her. I was pacing by the ice in the back waiting a few minutes before I knocked on the door.

“Maggie-”

“Go away!”

“Sweetie, please let me in. You don’t scare me. I’ve been to hell and back” I went to open the door, but the knob simply clicked.  The valves of my heart closed and I could no longer breathe. “Maggie!”

“Is there a problem mam?” The manager was a tall stringy guy with a bald spot and a goatee. I looked at him then rattled the door one more time.

“The bathroom door is locked and you don’t have any snickers!” I said.

“um..okay?” The manager said.

“You don’t understand. She can’t be alone-“

Maggie opened the door slowly like a child wiping her eyes after a nap and I hugged her, cupping her head.  

“I’m sorry they don’t have snickers,” Maggie said.

“It’s okay, sweetie. Let’s just go home, okay?”

After we got home, Maggie turned on an episode of Veggie Tales and laid down on the couch. When I was sure she was asleep, I went back out to do some grocery shopping and called James. The last time Maggie tried to kill herself, I got a brochure about a 30 day residential treatment facility for Bipolar. The trouble was, the facility coasted more money than I could afford, at least not unless I sucked up to my ex-husband or sucked him off. I knew if I just kissed up to him, he’d give me the cash like that- but I knew Maggie couldn’t be left alone. I scoured the car and found six knives. There was not telling what would happen if I left.

 “Hi James, I don’t think I’ll be able to make it tomorrow.” I lit my cigarette still in the Shop Rite parkinglot and turned down Rob Zombie.

 “Kate- what’s up?” James said.

He was using his editor voice instead of the farm boy voice I had fallen in love with- crackled and warm as autumn leaves, apple cider and the corn maze we got lost in where we had our first kiss. James and I had met when I was an alcoholic. Sometimes I had sex with multiple guys a night, but the evening I blacked out and hit my head on the concrete sidewalk trying to walk to my car, James gave me a ride home, helped me change my clothes and cleaned up my apartment filled with six trash bags of broken bottles. He held me through detox, never letting go of me, as I shook and my skin felt like it was snapping. I could tell he was busy helping whale maiden with the twig dolly center pieces and sighed.

“Something just came up.”

“You mean someone,” James said. “Who’s the new guy? Bring him along.”

“There’s no guy. I’m really worried about my friend and I think I should just stay with her.” I took a drag from my cigarette. It’s not that I was ashamed to be with Maggie because she was crazy, I just didn’t want to tell my Jehovah ’s Witness book editor that my lesbian lover was suicidal.

 “Your batshit crazy roommate? Just bring her! What do you think she’s going to do? She can play her songs and fucking color macaroni art for all I care.”

“Color, set cocktail napkins on fire, whatever tickles her pink.”

“Listen to me, Kate, you will come to this wedding, or you will find yourself another editor.”

I hung up the phone and stormed into the store, angrily throwing a baggie of apples into my cart, then taking them back out and grabbing an XTRA LARGE party bag of snickers instead. I came home with a few bags of frozen vegetables, Nutella, and tampons, and saw that Maggie had made chocolate milk from the stains all over the granite counter top. I went into the living room and watched the flickering light from the TV cast shadows on her closed eyes. Maggie rolled over facing the couch and her mini skirt twisted around her ass. I kissed the scripture on her shoulder but she didn’t move. The microwave door was open with the crusty remains of Maggie’s Weight Watchers Spinach pouch from last week covering the walls. For a woman who had tried to kill herself three times in the past year, Maggie was strangely obsessed with everything Dr. Oz said about health and wellness. A lavender yoga mat was lying on the floor next to a red prescription bottle of Lithium and the TV was on an episode of Christian Fitness where a woman in a spandex onesie was doing jumping jacks and talking about the book of John. In the beginning, I didn’t come into Maggie’s room the nights I had heard her crying. I would like to say I was busy doing other things- but in reality, I was playing Farmville. I had just gotten an ear of corn when I heard the sound of glass shattering in the next room. I ran into the kitchen and screamed. Maggie was sitting against the counter, crying with her face in her hands and blood was dripping down her elbow to the base of her wrist and dribbling all over.  The glass vase of sunflowers on our kitchen table, was now broken and petals, water and blood were all over the kitchen floor. I screamed and I grabbed her, shoving her into my car to the nearest Emergency Room. The doctors told her she had bipolar disorder. I sat patiently by her side in a small green tweed chair, holding her hand, and watching her eyes jerk beneath their lids. I touched Maggie’s hair, a color bright like metal, and ran my fingers through the thick curls.  She was so beautiful as she slept, dreaming of a place I wished was happier for her, the place of peace she had wanted for so long, and yet, I couldn’t stop crying in the middle of the ER hallway, begging for someone to give her the courage to leave. I had fallen in love with Maggie gradually, slowly, over the course of two days in the ICU unit. When she awoke from her nap, she was still drowsy, and had bad case of cotton mouth from all the meds she was on, so she had awakened my giving and nurturing side- as I brought her a magenta sweater, a large glass of organic apple juice and the one thing she told me she wanted, was the lead singer of Korn’s book about how he found Christianity. I had been with men all of my life, but when Maggie smiled for the first time in months reading about how Brian Welch got off crack, I felt something inside me move. As soon as she was discharged that first time last October, I hid all of the knives, razors, and pills and went out of town for a meeting with James about my latest trilogy: a sexy vampire police officer with an eight pack who eats serial killers. I was surprised I couldn’t stop thinking about her, and so was Maggie when she broke into my hotel room at 2 am screaming “Vampires are so stupid!” and then tore my panties off with her teeth.  We decided to redecorate our apartment and use the spare room for Maggie’s music, guitar collection, Rob Zombie Posters, bibles, and Jesus coloring books. In the beginning things were difficult, but I got Maggie to give up her keys and credit card after she had spent the whole night baking 90 cinnamon rolls, six batches of rainbow cupcakes and tried to co-sign a lease with an Asian man she met on a chatroom to start a bakery called Fountain of Elves. I used James’ money to help her with psychiatrists that specialized in Bipolar disorder. Once they got her meds adjusted, things were great. Maggie got a couple music gigs at local bars and coffee shops playing Rob Zombie covers and some of her own songs. We wrote together, baked cookies, and Maggie even was trying to get me to buy her a puppy when the first snowfall hit on a grey December day, and Maggie’s hummingbird heart froze as she drove her Volvo into a Parking Garage’s concrete wall. Both airbags popped on impact, and Maggie had a concussion, but she was never hospitalized long. For some reason, she always survived, and left the hospitals electric opening doors with a smile on her face as she ran towards me- like a five-year old who tripped, then picked herself right back up and kept crying and shaking with fear until she saw her mother, waiting with her arms outstretched, to kiss her scars away.  

I opened a jar of Nutella from in the pantry and wafted it beneath her nose and Maggie opened her eyes.  “Hi honey” Maggie said. She sat up, and I put the jar down, and kissed her. “I’m sorry we fought again but I don’t want to go to the wedding. I’m worried how your mom is going to take it. You still haven’t told her right?”

We would be staying at my mom’s house that weekend, and things might get a little weird if Maggie decided to bring her leather harness and battery pack.

“Don’t worry! She won’t have a clue. James and I used to get high and have sex on the roof when she took her hearing aids out,” I said.

“Does James know about me?”

“Well, no. We didn’t really talk very long on the phone-”

“Got it.” Maggie bit her lip, her eyes flickering with anger.

“What am I supposed to say, darling? Congratulations! I’m a lesbian!”

Maggie looked down and smiled, faintly, and her voice cracked.

 “I just don’t want to go, okay?” Maggie said.  I watched her walk into the bathroom while I sat on the leather ottoman and followed her, quick, my foot stopping the door.

“I want to take a shower.” She was struggling to take off her Rob Zombie sweatshirt, and I couldn’t see her head.

“Just let me help, sweetie.”

I hooked my fingers beneath the bottom of fabric and gently pulled the hoodie off and let it fold to the ground like a gasp. Maggie’s pale arms were bandaged in gauze and I could see the thick stitches like barbwire fence poking through snow. She started crying when she saw me looking at her, ashamed.

“I feel dirty.”

I wrapped my arms around her, and started the faucet.  “I’m going to run us a bath and then I’ll get you so clean.” Maggie stopped crying for a moment, and I took off my black knit dress, making a mental note to use the barbwire and snow metaphor in a story later.

“Kate, you need to go pack. ”

“I know I need to pack. You just sit down and tell me if it’s too hot.”

“You don’t need to take care of me.”

Maggie sat down slowly, and I watched the large red ribbons wrap the staircase of her ribcage like Christmas garland, and started to cry. “I know I don’t sweetie.” I bit my lip and got in behind her, squeezing her tightly, and resting my cheek on her shoulder. “I’m just scared.”

The next morning, Maggie slept on her Hello Kitty pillow against the window while I drove. I was surprised she had agreed to come with me and give me all her razors, but maybe she was scared too. The drive went by fast and before Maggie had opened her eyes, I had already gotten as far as Bethlehem.

“So what’s your mom like anyway?” Maggie said. She had her legs crossed seated Indian style and was drinking a Mountain Dew Code Red bigger than her hand.

“She’s a bitch.” I said.

“All daughters think their mothers are bitches.”

“No” I shook my head and licked my lips. My sunglasses were on as the wind blew my brown hair back against the seat. “She just is.”  We parked in the driveway in front of the trailer with the broken windows. My mother opened the door, wobbling. It was only 11 am, but I knew from the way she smelled like grapes and sweat she was already drunk. She wasn’t wearing a bra, and her boobs flopped beneath her stained green tank top.

“Well, look at you, you dyed your hair.” She reached for Maggie’s long strawberry locks and Maggie giggled.

“We’ve never met before, I’m Maggie.”

“Mom, Maggie is my roommate,” I said.

Maggie bit her lip, then looked across the street. There was a large Pit bull barking on the other side of a fence that read Warning Do Not Play With Dog across the way and Maggie ran over.

“Maggie!!” I screamed and watched her slender hands fit through the spaces, and pet him until her rolled onto his back with his tongue hanging out. When she ran back over, and grabbed her guitar case from the trunk, I stared at her in blank amazement.

“What?”

“Is there anything you haven’t survived?”

“This weekend.” Maggie said.

My mom took a bag that was sitting on Maggie’s side and carried it into the house. The trailer smelled like catpee, brown sugar, and cheesedoodlez.

“I really have to pee.” Maggie said. “I think I’m going to go for a walk beneath that nice overpass by the river with all the broken beer bottles.”

“Just wait. We can just put our things down and go for a walk.” The empty beer bottles had gone to my head and I felt Goosebumps go up my arm and my fingers began to tap tap tap on the nightstand. James was right. I shouldn’t have decided to stay here. I turned into the mirror and looked at myself, quick, smoothing my hair, then collapsed onto my bed covered in an old quilt with cows jumping over the moon.

“I need to pee now.” Maggie said.  “I’ll be back.” She looked down and grabbed her bag running back through the house. I stood up, slowly, and went into the next room where my mom was slicing mozzarella cheese. I watched the blade press into the smooth white brick and winced.

“Mom, I think we need to talk.”

“About another one of your stupid books? Don’t send me anymore of that crap. You want a beer?” She took a swig of her vodka and cranberry then opened the refrigerator door and a 24 pack of Pabst clanked against pickles and mayonnaise. Mom popped a can and placed it on the counter. I placed my hands in my pockets.  

“Mom, I’m really worried about my friend. I think she’s going to kill herself.”

 “Pssh, You got nothing to worry about with that little girl. I betcha she don’t own a thing that isn’t pink,” She handed me a box of stale Triscuits from August 2012. I sighed and knocked over my bag, and a pink vibrating dildo and razors fell onto the dirty yellow linoleum floor.

“Oh my god! She lied to me!”

 The vibrator grew wilder.

“Is that one of them Chi Straightener’s from the infomercials?!” My mother said. She picked it up and ran it through her hair like Ariel in the little mermaid. I grabbed my mother’s bottle of rum and ran outside, bursting through the screen door and scoured the entire backyard, but Maggie was nowhere in sight. I drank a few sips then, called James crying.

“You did what?! All of that progress you have made is going to be ruined. You are staying here tonight!”

“My roommate is here with me-“

“I don’t care, she can stay too. I’m coming to get you.”

“I’m fine. Once Maggie get’s back I’ll be okay.”

“We need to talk. She can hang out with Whale Maiden and help her make these damn origami medicine balls. I’ll be there around 7.” 

About an hour and 17 missed calls later, I ran down the street to the stop sign and doubled back when I found Maggie.

“Let me see your arms.”

Maggie rolled up her Peirce The Veil sweatshirt and cuts fresh red and bloody were all over her arm. 

“Did you cut anywhere else sweetie?”

“No.”

I hugged her and kissed her forehead. A cat turd the size of a baseball was sitting in the blue liter box as Maggie leaned her wrist into the facet in the bathroom and I washed her. I took out my ace bandage and started wrapping her arm as Maggie cried.

“I can’t wear clothes.”

“We will get you a sweater. Or maybe you can wear one of mine. Tell me what you’re feeling right now.”

“I’m disgusting.”

“No, sweetie.” I touched her face.

“Then why haven’t you told anyone?”

“Because my mom is always drunk and my ex-husband is a Jehovah’s witness!”

Maggie laughed. “You still love him, don’t you?”

“No. I don’t think I ever really did.” I said. I finished wrapping her next arm, then sat down next to her on the edge of the tub. “He was just what I needed at the time.”

“Maybe. Sometimes I think that I need you.” Maggie said. “And I don’t want to.”

“Why not? Humans need each other.”

She roughly handed me the folded Residential Hospital brochure from my purse, and I knew she must have found it when I left my purse a few days ago.

“Because I’m crazy.”

Maggie got up and walked into the bedroom. I followed her.

“Sweetie, I’m an alcoholic who writes stories about fisting clowns!  I am fucking insane! ”

“You can’t handle this! No one can handle this.”

 Maggie began to cry. I wrapped my arms around her and squeezed her until she fell back on to the bed, and then whispered into her ear. “Maybe I need you too.”

“I need to go away.”

“Go away where Sweetie?” I wiped her face.

“I know if I don’t, I’m going to die,” Maggie said.

I kissed her on the nose, and cried.

“It will only be for thirty days, and I’ll visit you every weekend. You know, lesbian sex in an insane asylum would make a great story idea.”

“I think I’d rather be a werewolf.” Maggie laughed, then stood, gathering her things.

“Just stay with me one more night.” I took her hand in mine.

The last time Maggie tried to kill herself, she was lying half naked in a Rob Zombie t-shirt next to me, when she abruptly got up and went into the bathroom. At first I just thought she needed to pee, but then I heard the door click locked. I got up, slowly, then ran, hearing her echos.

“Maggie sweetie, open the door.” I tried to wriggle the handle. Maggie screamed.

“Maggie!” I knocked hard.

“Maggie, please!”

I pounded on the door until my fists were raw.  Maggie let out a wail.

“Maggie open the fucking door!”

She was no longer screaming, and I began to panic, dropping to my knees and trying to peak through the space between the door and the floor. I grabbed a chair, and stood on it, remembering I kept a bathroom key above the door quick. I swiped the small silver key off the door frame and it fell. When I opened the door, blood had already turned the pink bathroom rug brown and Maggie was throwing up as red pools gushed from her forearms. I grabbed a beach towel and wrapped it around her as a tourniquet, crying. Maggie could barely keep her eyes open as I took her cellphone off the counter next to her toothbrush and dialed 9-1-1. Everything was slow, and nothing was. It was as if I was trapped and the sounds escaping my mouth were no longer even screams. I don’t know how long the ambulance took to get there. It could have been 7 minutes. It could have been 7 days. All I remember is the way they loaded her onto the steel cold bed, and the look on her face as I climbed in the back with her, holding her hand. An EMT gave her oxygen where briefly she came to.

“Will you sing me Dragula?” Maggie’s eyes flickered beneath the shadows of the streetlights and telephone poles passing by through the single ambulance window.

I could barely think of the lyrics as I cried.

Dig through the ditches, And burn through the witches I slam in the back of my Dragula”

I pulled into the gravel parkinglot across from a small ranch style log cabin then stared out across the green moss covered meadow to where James was standing. He was wearing a navy blue polo- James choice, and a pucca shell, whale maiden’s. Maggie gave my hand a tight squeeze. James smiled and banged on the car window.

“You must be the roommate. Hi, I’m the asshole ex-husband.”

Maggie smirked. “Hello.”

Whale Maiden was petting their golden retriever and skipped over to give Maggie a kiss on the cheek. She had long stringy blonde hair that looked like it hadn’t been washed in years, and a large skirt, with a purple tube top.

“Hi beautiful. Your chi seems a little off. Want to go look at my fairy garden?”

“Sure” Maggie said.

“It has a great spot for yoga beneath a willow tree. Sometimes James and I picnic beneath it. “

She linked arms with her and they went behind the house disappearing in a pink hydrangea bush when I lit my cigarette and nudged James on the arm.

“Where the fuck did she come from?”

“What’s that supposed to mean?!” James said.

“A fairy garden?” I raised my eyebrow. James and I once spent an entire weekend lying in bed having sex, and watching Southpark, never moving except to eat stuffed crust pizza which was sitting on the nightstand. “Although, you do look fabulous. Have you been working out?”

James took a cigarette from my pack and lit one.

“No. She makes me eat this flaxseed oil crap that makes me shit my pants. I’ve spent this whole week trying to clear sacred space near the pond but stones keep getting stuck in my weed wacker. Do you know how difficult it is to mow lawn in the middle of a forest?!”  

 I handed James a pack of Peanut butter M and Ms in my coach bag and a gift card to IHOP in a card Maggie had drawn with a stick figure of a woman getting hit by a bus.

“God, I miss you.” James tore open the M and Ms and shoveled them into his mouth.

 “I need your help.” I said.

“Now what Picasso?”

“ Maggie needs to be hospitalized, and she needed it last week- and I need you to help me.”

“Hospital?”  

“She needs a professional help, James. She tried to kill herself last week.”

 “Holy shit. Why doesn’t she just ask her parents or something?”

  “She doesn’t have any.”

“What about her boyfriend? Does he know?”

“I’m her boyfriend.”

“What?”

“James, Maggie is my lover. I need you to help me get her treatment. You’re the only one I know who- ”

 “Kate, you’re not a lesbian! You just have a big heart. Now leave that poor girl before you fuck her up anymore.” 

“I can’t!”

“Why not? You haven’t gotten to the juicy sex scene yet?”  James smirked.

“No, James. I love her.”  I took off my shoes and started to trudge back through the marshy ground to the car. I could feel mud splashing on my legs while I ran.  

 “Wait! Kate!” James came running after me.

“Do you remember when I was in detox and you held me and said you’d never let go?”

“Of course I do.”

“Well, I can’t let go of her.”

James nodded. I told him about Maggie the past year and lit another cigarette. We sat down on a tree stump when Whale Maiden and Maggie returned.

“Whale Maiden said there’s a gluten free raw vegan bar around here!” Maggie said.  “Isn’t that awesome!”

“Sure, sweetie” I took drag from my cigarette and looked at the small robin’s egg she had brought back for me. James crunched his M and Ms.

“You must go. It’s on me.” James said.

I rolled my eyes, and grabbed my purse, when I saw that James had written me a check, and I kissed him on the cheek.    

The Sea Witch - Poem

The Sea Witch found me

Clutching my chest listening to my heart

So hallow you could hear a whale crying for her lost calf

20,000 leagues under the sea.

My lips were cracked, bloody,

From the summer heat and a sailor’s hungry knife

When he spit in my face and carved the word “whore” into my throat

so that all I could ever speak was dirty.

The sea witch kissed me and left a dictionary in my mouth.

I can still feel the pages turning every time I breathe out.

Her fingers tracing my echo’s as she carried me to her cave

And asked me to speak.

I shook my head no

Too frightened to wish

When the witch pressed her finger to my lips and said:

You don’t have to scream, but you must whisper

I opened my mouth to taste her salt,

And a flame exploded from a ship

Vibrating the July horizon orange red and gold

Fireworks bursting through the hole in my heart

And filling it with song

Like a fairy tale

Like I was a princess who deserved a happy ending

Like a dream that would

Always come

true