Someday my prince will come

First Dates are always anxiety provoking, especially when you’re a wiccan who stumbled into a cold Catholic church not wearing a bra asking directions for Steak and Shake, and got a guy’s number outside Bible Study. I arrived at Jesse’s house carrying my Sketchpad, a cheap bottle of red wine, and charcoal- feeling a bit like Helena Bonham Carter in FightClub.  Prehaps next week, I could meet men at the local synagogue!    It was the end of a rotten summer- by that I mean,I had moved in with boyfriend after boyfriend, and the familiar raw pork smell of sex and pot, dirty couches, and wet paint on canvases- had left me withered, and most of my belongings in my trunk. Even though I have always wanted to wait at least a month until I have sex with a new partner, every single guy has always picked me up and thrown me onto the bed completely ignoring what I said. This Time, I looked in the mirror and decided

I WASN’T GOING TO SLEEP WITH HIM.

Jesse opened the door to his dark downtown apartment, lit only by three candles, and hugged me. Jesse guided me around his small studio apartment filled with Disney and Vampire dvds. The bedroom had a bare matress with no sheets on the floor with an eagle tapestry, and lead into the bathroom. The Apartment must have been 80 degrees at least, and he dimmed the lights.  The previous night, Jesse told me about his dad’s death to cancer when he was ten, his mothers addiction to cocaine, and his previous life homeless before he found god, got a job as  baker in Publix, and got a place of his own. I found his strength attractive.

“You look especially beautiful by the way.” He opened his cupboard revealing a single bag of popcorn and stuck it in the microwave, then placed his hand on the small of my back, his mouth inches away from mine. I went to the bathroom and when I opened the bathroom door, Jesse was removing his Black t-shirt revealing Volleyball arms and abs that etched like shutters.  It was as if I was a character in a bad porno.

“Oh- I thought you were in the bathroom. I’ll put a shirt on.”

I laughed, going back into the kitchen attempting to open the bottle of wine, with a red face either from the heat , or him. “You know You really don’t have to!”  

“Oh really?” Jesse grinned, and my bottle popped.  “Has any man ever tol you you have pretty eyes?”

About 12 and a half.

“No, never” I bat my lashes. His arms were wrapped around my waist, briefly, as he reached across the counter to turn on the TV. I swigged my wine from a blue coffee mug. Jesse handed me a bowl of popcorn and we cheered on his couch. Jesse hadn’t had a girlfriend or sex in 6 years since he was 16. I told him I wanted to learn self defense to beat the shit out of guys who think just because I’m “tiny” they can do what they want.

“I could teach you. I know a lot of stuff about pressure points.” Jesse said.  He was skinny, 160 pounds soaking wet and six feet tall, but he could bench press 350.

“Really?” I said. Jesse touched the side of my jaw, then the temple beside my ear.

“You have one here.” Jessie said, touching my chin. I smiled, looking at his eyes when he touched my nose, and the two of us laughed“And here.” Then, Jessie pressed his finger against my lips. His voice, softened. “And here.”  Jesse looked down at my hands, and made me make a fist the way I was supposed to hit to break a nose.

“You have to teach me to hit sometime.” I said.

“Pinky promise.” Jesse said. I hooked my pinkie with his and whispered, pinkie promise, as Jessie leaned in, slowly, and made me lose my breathe waiting for his mouth, as the butterflies in my stomach burst when his lips met mine. It was timid, shy at first, like highschool kids in a movie theater, our tongues not even touching, innocent. The light from the tv flickered on his face as I pulled away and pressed my cheek against his cheek blushing. Jessie giggled.

“Wow.” I said.

“I haven’t done that in a while” Jesse laughed, and we leaned in once more, wilder as Jesie laid his hand flat against my chest feeling my heart. He kissed my neck, nibbling at my ear and down my shoulder, and collar bone. I made a soft noise and he bit harder for a few moments, before he pulled away.I got on top of him, holding his hands, sweetly at his sides, then sat forward watching the movie.

Jesse picked me up and lifted me above his head like a bench press as if this was something we did often. I screamed, laughing, while he lifted me once more, and threw me up in the air and caught me like a little kid. Jesse got up, holding me. “You’re so little.”  I held onto his neck like a koala.

“Look! I’m not even using my hands” He waved as if he was signaling an air plane for landing, then set me on his kitchen counter.

“Let’s dance. Do you like Bring me the Horizon?” I pulled out my phone and bounced down, twirling.

“Love them.” Jesse pulled me close, at the waist. He placed my hair to the side, then cupped my face. “How about I take you to Orlando in October to see them for your birthday?”

This guy was good. Damn good.I kissed his chest and licked down his abs in circles, gnawing at his side like a dog eating a bone. I returned to his face, grinning at his gaping open mouth. Jesse picked me up and carried me to his bed while I giggled kissing me, kissing me, when I pushed him away.

“I don’t want to have sex. I want to get to know you intimately. I want you to meet my parents. I want you to dance with me, and know me like a book.”

“Babe, I will wait as long as you want.” Jesse said. We returned, kissing passionate when, Disney’s You’ll be in my heart came on Jesse’s phone and I screamed and got up.

“Let’s dance!”

“Let me lock the door. It’s getting awfully late.”

 “Can I bounce on your bed?”  I began singing, loudly.

DON’T STOP YOUR CRYING IT WILL BE ALRIGHT!

Jesse came back standing at the door frame.

“Go ahead sweetie. It’s so hot. You can take off your shirt if you want.”

“I’m not wearing a bra silly!” I bounced.

“You can take off your shirt if you want” Jesse said.

I laughed. Phil Collins told us he would hold us and keep us warm, as Jessie grabbed me and knocked me down onto the bed. We were kissing hard once more, and his hand was hooking my jeans when I got up.

“CAN I SHOW YOU MY DRAWINGS?” I said.

“Um. Oohkay.” Jesse said. I flipped out my sketch pad and we stood in the living room.

“Baby!” Jessie said, touching the charcoal, looking at the guitarist. “These are amazing! These are real people?”

“I saw him playing at a coffee shop.” I smiled, and Jesse looked at me like I was micheal Angelo. “I know artists don’t make money-“

“WHO THE HELL CARES ABOUT MONEY! Look at these!”

I laughed and hugged him, when he took me into his bedroom once more.

“Now, Let’s dance.”

“If you were a character in a Disney Movie who would you be?” I said.

“I always liked Prince Eric from the Little Mermaid.”  

I screamed again.

“OH MY GOD! I love Ariel!!”

“I want to be where the people are, I want to see want to see them dancing” Jesse sang, and I melted onto the floor in a puddle. His hand was upon my heart once more, as we spun in the darkness, the light form the blinds casting a shadow upon his face when he leaned in and kissed me.  He walked me to my car and kissed me goodnight, making sure I had my seatbelt on.

“Come over tomorrow I’ll make you dinner.”

“I’m a vegetarian.”

“I can do that. I’ll cook for you shirtless.”

“You’re so romantic!”

Jesse laughed.

“ Good night princess”

I called my friend Chris immediately.

PRINCE ERIC LISTENS TO BRING ME THE HORIZON!

“Stop screaming! Are you high?”

Save Me

I am sitting in the Steak and Shake parking lot with my head in a catholic boy’s lap I met at bible study. After I was hospitalized for three days after attempting to commit suicide, my doctor suggested I go to church again. As the boy’s breathing hardened and he grabbed my pink hair, I didn’t think this was what he had in mind.

“I’m not use to this,” Rizzo said.  

“I am.”  I placed a strand of hair behind my ear, and the tears in my eyes glistened beneath the lights shining through the window. I rested my head on his thigh, biting my lip.

“How are you feeling right now? Do you want to talk?” My voice was small, and cracked.

“Lost.” He gently touched my hair and I began to cry. A few hours prior, I had walked through the church doors feeling like I was going to throw up. My anxiety around religion goes back to my confirmation where I barely fit into a size 16 pink halter dress. I was a fat kid- I mean- I was a cow. The music director of my church, casted me as one every year in the Christmas play. My one line was “Moooo-ve over, Mary! Make way for Jesus.” Christianity once gave me hope and a family that I never had. I found theology fascinating, listened to Barlow Girl and Michael W. Smith and wanted to study religion and become a pastor. When I was a kid, I was an acolyte, a choir singer, a vacation bible school puppet, a bell ringer, and a bass player in a Christian band called indoor yard sale. My uncle jimmy gave me lessons in his basement every Monday, and I would secretly learn the chords to Blink -182 songs. Uncle Jimmy told me sex was a sacred union that fastens a man and a woman in love on their wedding day.  Briefly, I fantasized about losing my virginity: there was rose petals on the bed, and a faceless man in a tuxedo wheezed trying to carry me over the threshold before passing out. I weighed around 170 pounds and wore a a Marilyn Manson Eat Me drink Me T-shirt I had gotten for weeks at a time because none of my clothes would fit when I went to a youth conference in the mountains of Saratoga springs new york with my cousin Justin in the middle of January. I was the only girl in Sunday school and Justin, and my friends Geoffrey and Kyle, and I played around often climbing trees and the handicap railing leading to the sanctuary. During the service, they talked about surrendering sex, porn, gambling, and your sins to god. I began to cry, and Justin put his arm around me. I had a secret inside of me that I couldn’t let go of because god saw what I had done, and I knew he could never love me ever again. Justin looked at me concerned and got my uncle Jimmy. Uncle Jimmy took me up to his hotel room and knelt before me on the tweed couch as I sobbed.

I could barely choke out the words when I told him a fifty eight year old man stuck his tongue down my throat and slammed me against a workbench.

“Were you drinking?” Uncle Jimmy said.

“No.” I shook my head, unable to breathe. There was more, but I knew I couldn’t talk to him, when he crossed his arms, I watched his facial expression changing as he oogled my pizza stained Marilyn Manson T-shirt. “What were you wearing?”  

I stopped crying and left the hotel room and sat in my room for the rest of the trip, hardly speaking. My face pressed against the window watching the snow fall in white cotton balls.

I was wearing a Marilyn Manson T-shirt in the Crisis Unit of the hospital, wrapped in a white blanket waiting in line to get my Lamictal and staring out the window at the florida sun sparkling on barbwire out the locked glass door. A man withdrawing from opiates behind me began to sing: The Beautiful people, The Beautiful People.

I turned around shaking my greasy pink head like a carnation in the breeze.

HEY YOU WHATTAYA SAY, SOMETHING BEAUTIFUL SOMETHING GREY

He winced at my arms then handed me his graham crackers he saved from lunch. This was what I ate for three days. “Ashley Manson, you’re a beautiful girl!”

"You really are!" Another inmate agreed.

Two days prior, I was talking to a homeless carpenter from Colorado named Benjamin who saw my scars covering my arms and said I needed help. He was schizophrenic and talking to a banana at the small cafeteria table, when he gave me his broccoli and cookies. Benjamin said all he wanted to do was go home. I said all I wanted was a cigarette and a mint Oreo cookie and cream milkshake from Steak and Shake. We were in the looney bin and not allowed to touch, but I let his callused fingers touch my scars, and intertwine with mine. Hours later, I was finally given a pen and I drew him sitting across from me while a woman crawled on all fours singing Feliz cumpleanos. I started writing a 6 page letter to god. Benjamin asked if he could see what I wrote. I shrugged and handed him the paper, watching his lips move as he read and his expression change. I sat down next to him in the hallway where I vomited clear with speckles of blood. I took a four hour nap then joined the rest of the group outside.

“God loves the sinners, so he loves you.” Benjamin said.  He smuggled me another pen and I hid them in my band of my yoga pants as we sat outside, watching a pigeon land on the barbwire fence.

“That’s a dove.” He smiled and took my hand. “Your hands are going to make something beautiful someday.”

 A few hours later, I laid on the bathroom floor, feeling like I was going to pass out, wake but not, when I walked outside to the hallway, and everything faded to black. Benjamin caught me and screamed Somebody help!  A male nurse lifted me onto a raised bed. I had lost an entire day sleeping in a white bed in a room after a doctor gave me too much medication and I overdosed and had a dream of an angel dressed in black and white who told me to go on a trip.

When I was released, a man wearing a white t-shirt and black pants called my name and my hummingbird heart stopped beating. I found my old blue rosary beads and put them on with my pentagram, driving around looking for a salvation army where I could find a bible when I went to a coffee shop that happened to be Christian owned. I asked if they knew pf any local churches I could attend and they gave me the number of a youth pastor. He brought me a bible. The church was huge, and the youth group had it’s own room with a full drum set, guitars and mics on a small stage in the corner, with pacman and a air hockey table in the back. I was the only girl there. The youth pastor and a high school teacher were pretty cute- not going to lie- but I didn’t come there to date. Joel and a boy named Omni left to get a Gatorade from the vending machine. Rizzo asked what happened to my arm. I told him I cut myself, and was in the crisis unit of the hospital for three days where I talked to an angel.

“Oh my god!”  He stood up and hugged me so tight I thought he was trying to crawl inside my skin.

“It was so cold, and lonely. All I wanted was a cigarette and Steak and Shake.”

 “You are very beautiful. I am here for you and I will pray for you. ”

Ironically, we began talking about surrendering to Christ and allowing love to fill our hearts. I began to cry uncontrollably.

“What if you’re afraid that he can’t love you-” I began to sob. “Because he’s seen all you’ve done?” Rizzo was sitting next to me on the leather couch and turned.

“You don’t know what we’ve all done. If he can’t love you how can he love us?” The pastor, Joel, said.

“I’ve been cutting myself since March, and a week ago I was in the hospital because I wanted to die.” I cried. “And one night while I slept, I had this dream of an angel.”

A boy across the way handed me a box of tissues.

“And he was all dressed in white and wearing black pants and he put his hands on my arms and touched my stomach and this brilliant gold light surrounded us in an orb of blinding light and there was green confetti everywhere” a noise escaped my throat I did not know I was possible of making. “And it was so pretty!” I lost my breath and put my hand to my mouth, covering my eyes with the tissue.

A deep silence filled the room.

“I think we are going to end this bible study here.” Joel said.  

The boy who handed me a box of tissues approached me.

“My name’s Jessie. Im an artist too. I’d love to draw you sometime. I went to the beach early this morning and watched the sunrise then I got Steak and Shake-”

“YOU GOT STEAK AND SHAKE?” I said. Rizzo laughed.

“The new Smores is pretty amazing.”

“Have you tried the birthday cake shake?”

“Yes! It tastes like cake”

“Let’s all go to Steak and Shake!” Jessie said.

“I don’t have any money or a job.” I said.

“Relax, I got you covered.” Jessie said.

“Really?”

“We owe this girl her shake!” Rizzo said.

At the dinner, Rizzo rode with me, and I talked some more about my life. Jessie pulled out a red chair for me, and pushed me in. It was as if I had been there with them forever. Jessie told me about his life before he got saved, and an older man and I talked for a while. I blabbed on and on about writing and how I just wanted to help people and make them laugh, or inspire them in some way. At midnight, I walked outside carrying my togo cup with me. I felt a warmth in my chest I hadn’t felt for a long time, and I rubbed my eyes.

Rizzo hugged me.

“I’m so happy.” I said. “I think I’m gonna cry again.”

Rizzo picked me up like a little kid. My car was parked all the way in the corner, and he began walking towards it.

“You’re so strong!”  I laughed.

“Not particularly” Rizzo said. “You’re the first person I’ve ever been able to do this with!”

I laughed, and took a sip from my shake like a toddler with a Sippy cup. “Thank you for giving me your fries! I haven’t had them since I was seventeen!”

“I was glad to share. Do you think you’ll come back?”

“To try the Carmel apple? Hell’s yeah.”

“I meant to church!”

“Sure. You should do this for a living.”

“I should just carry you from your car to church each Wednesday.” He set me down. Then we both got into the back seat. “What makes you laugh?”

“Inappropriate humor, sarcasm, irreverent silly stuff. Sometimes poop.”

I wasn’t crying, but I was on the verge when he scooped me onto his lap. I wrapped my arms around his neck.

“I don’t know what I’m going to do now.” I said.

“You’re going to make people laugh.” Rizzo said, as he kissed me on the cheek.  

Best Friends Forever

After I was hospitalized for depression, I decided that I needed a break from school to find myself- travel, write, and hopefully find happiness.

My friend Sara had died in a car accident a few months ago. The last time we spoke she told me “You don’t even want to be here. You have a book inside you.” We were sitting on my couch covered in hair dye stains sipping wine in my apartment. The dirty floor filled with half-finished canvases, Dorito crumbs, broken beer bottles, and a south park poster with a marshmallow permanently stuck to the side I had thrown at the wall one night. She was a thirty year old writer, a doctors wife who was sexually abused, physically abused, raped and struggled with eating disorders. She was someone I was in awe of, and wanted to be when I grew up. She sprayed my couch with her perfume, disgusted that I had no towels, or food in my cabinets. That day, she brought me a teddy bear, and $500 dollar tailored Calvin Klein Black dress that no longer fit her and said “Keep it, Baby. It can be your event dress. YOU CAN DO THIS.”     

When I was packing, I found she left a grey coach bag, some other clothes, and a perfume from Paris and sprayed it on myself. Then, I put on my leather jacket and went to say goodbye to my friend Chris with the painting I had made for him, crying. I kept thinking about him-the way he put music I had never heard of on my computer,  The way his nose creased as he dumped apple cider vinegar on my head in a wiccan ritual and danced with me barefoot to slipknot, the way he wrapped his arms around me when I sat on the floor reading a book, and I relaxed into his chest as he kissed me on the forehead, the way he cried in my kitchen when he got the call his dad died and we fell asleep holding each other, the way we smoked on a beach chair at 4 am in February, clinging to each other both for warmth and so we wouldn’t fall off. He loved me and I made him free.

“I don’t care what people say. I will never leave you. You are not too heavy,” Chris said. I was crying face down on my bed a month before, when Chris found a letter I had wrote to him. Chris’s mother hated me because I have so much emotional baggage. (I call it “heavy”, she calls it “fucked up.”)  I occasionally snuck through his bedroom window and slept over and he lied to her and said he was with the guys when he was with me.  

 “When my dad died, a part of me did too. And I feel empty, but when I’m with you, I feel whole. ” Chris said. “I will never let go of you. I don’t know what I’d do if I ever lost you, Ashley. I love you from the bottom of my heart. Don’t push me away.”

I leaned in and kissed him- and Chris kissed me back harder. It was only a kiss, but it wasn’t. We had opened a can of paint, and red was pouring through our chests. Chris got on top of me, and we panted, until we each were breathing the same air into each other’s mouths, melting into one person. It was raw, primal, but also incredibly emotional as Chris slowed down and I met him half way, bouncing and falling.  I rolled on top of him,  fumbled with his green cargo pants and giggled:

“I feel like a five year old on Christmas morning!” 

 Chris laughed out loud. He took off my grey long sleeve shirt and saw the red ribbons wrapped around my arms, ribcage and stomach. He pushed my hair out of my eyes and touched my cheek. My voice cracked.

“I love you, Chris”

“I love you Ashley.”

Chris whispered he loved me, over and over again, as I leaned forward.

I leaned up against the opened door and I called his name. Chris came running and hugged me in the middle of the kitchen. I burst into tears, my hands flat on his back.

“We always do this in the kitchen” Chris and I both said.  I took my jacket off, then followed him into his room where we cuddled on his bed. The two of us were laughing and crying. I don’t know who kissed who.  I held his hand and he squeezed me back. I pulled away, and Chris sat up with me still on his lap facing him. I wrapped my arms around his neck, crying.   

Chris said. I wiped my eyes. Lee Brice’s I don’t Dance came on.  

“I like this song. Can we dance?”

Chris twirled me around in circles, singing as I laughed. He started going through his music for another song and I wanted to hug him, when he reached for me instead. I put my jacket back on, then Chris grabbed me and made a soft rawr as he pulled me to his chest. My hands were wrapped around his neck, as tight as they could, then I placed them on his shoulder and waist. We stood there for two hours. Neither of us wanted to let go. Chris squeezed me close.

“You’re my best friend,” Chris said.  “I love you so much Ashley.” I turned my head to whisper in his ear.

“You’re the best Christmas present I ever got.” My cheek was against his neck as he kissed me on the forehead. “Christopher, I’ll love you forever.”

“Forever and for always. It’s only time.”

Christopher pulled away, and the two of us leaned in at the same time.

 While we held hands driving, I rubbed my fingers against his Escape The Fate wrist band. Chris looked down and smiled faintly.  We sat in a photo booth giggling.

“Are you ready?” I grinned. We stuck our tongues out like idiots, then I turned to kiss him on the cheek when Chris turned and kissed me. I closed my eyes and when I pulled away, his entire face was covered in red lipstick like a Mickey and Minnie cartoon. Chris laughed as I grabbed his chin, pointing his face towards the lens when the camera clicked. 

The Carpenter’s hands (A poem)

I decided I was going to bake a pumpkin pie when the police arrived.

The can of Libby’s and carnation condensed milk was still sitting on the counter as they handcuffed my wrists tight as the metal could go over my grey shirt covered in maroon splotches.

I couldn’t tell you which was paint or blood after I shattered my bathroom mirror

Awake for the third day trying to find the right words to color a poem.

The nurses gasped at my genius  

 Emptying the contents of my purse: a pack of Marlboros, Starbucks recites, nickels and three dirty razors I kept for emergencies when I was struck with inspiration.

They removed my clothes like tots on Christmas morning,

Orphans staring at the crimson ribbons neatly wrapped around stale dry cedar branches

Unable to look away from such disappointment.

A dead tree split at the center with

 Scattered needles on the carpet caked with dirty soot,

Brown Wilting and cracked at the root

a firehazard, a disaster waiting to happen

When a Spanish woman singing Feliz Navidad crawling on all fours

spit in my face and called me ugly

As I paced in graham cracker slippers at the dining table

Begging for a pen.

 I had started to cry when a boy talking to a banana said I needed help.

It was visiting hour and no one had came for me, but Benjamin gave me his cookies because he could tell I needed sugar.

I stared at his eyes, unable to name the mysterious

Intricate color inside them, sparkling

 like cerulean glasses, rich deep wells that if you dropped a penny inside you would not hear the echo for ages.

He told me he was a carpenter as he grabbed my small pointed fingers and said “Your hands are going to make something beautiful someday.”  

I allowed my palm to rest against his callused fingers,

Trembling when he handed me a pen he hid inside his pocket.

We were in the nuthouse and not allowed to touch

But we had eaten at this table for far too long that all I wanted to do was hug my brother.

I started to draw him,

Shaking to catch the angles of his nose, the shadows of his brow, the beauty marks carved above the crease of his dimples,

Never wanting to stop slashing the paper as I stared into his eyes,

Sanded down and hallow, until I was a guitar placed in the hands of Jimmi Hendrix for the very first time, as music spun from silver strings woven between the fingers of angels,

 filling the room with a banquet of sound that would never be forgotten, but could never be captured or remade

Until A crowd had gathered in blank amazement blown away as

My pen grew wilder and Benjamin placed his hand against his cheek and smiled, taken away and took my hand

ignoring the shouts of the nurses, the inmates hoots and whistles,

 when the doctor came to take me, a clipboard in hand, to drag me to his white stone room

As he hugged me quick and whispered

I’ll be waiting

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.