Writing Exercise #8

Another inspired by beloved Chiwan.

that held death and love so closely together.

I lived in the type of neighborhood that the news people would call “struggling” with their fake concerned faces. They only came when there was violence, or when they needed image for their urban decay segments. We called it home. Home ain’t always good, we all knew it. Sometimes in the morning someone would be hosing blood off of the sidewalks while detectives walked around trying to talk to folks. Nobody talked.

Once, when I was about 19, a cop asked me if I’d seen the stabbing. I looked up at him and shook my head, “of course not.” He glared at me, “how do you people live like this? You should be ashamed of yourself. What is wrong with you?” He got loud and some of the fellas took notice. I know he expected me to cower, to cry or do something arrest worthy. “Sir, I hope one day you understand.” My voice was so small, gentle he flinched. He would, they all would.

I walked away from him, and the fellas relaxed, I heard later he quit the force, citing inequalities and the thin blue line. The boys always wanted to ask me but, I’d just smile and ask after their aunties. As I got older, I felt the heartbeat of our neighborhood. I became, in whispers bruja, the old folks called me obeah woman, one of the young girls I saw all the time took to calling me Mambo and following me around.

-that held death and love so closely together.

Mama always said I was an old soul. I made her laugh. I was serious. Her little Ole ‘livia. I took my silences and dove into them like prayers, like Sankofa knowledge, like home. She called me her witch baby, her spooky sweetheart. Where she walked in light and bright expansive energy, I walked in shadow and secrets and pensive observation. Most of the time, she let me be. I had to grow into what I could become, and she knew well. Too well.

Another time, I sat in an interrogation room with my hands folded on the table, my back straight, the detective in front of me was still being the nice one. “You know why you’re here Ms. Olivia. Why don’t you just, relax and talk to us.” As he yammered at me, I watched his partner. He was handsome, tall and well kept. I could see how vain he was, how hard he worked to keep his vanity a secret.

I waited the good cop out. I could smell the decayed soul in his body. His breath reeked of sour blue raspberry candy, rot and sleep. I turned back to the other one he was so engrossed in building the rapport between us, he hadn’t noticed I wasn’t paying attention. I smiled and sighed; I gave him my softness. He wanted to see me cry, I could taste his desire on my tongue. I had to wait his partner out.

When I was growing up, I caught Mama watching me all the time. Her head would tilt, her mouth would turn up at the left corner and after a while she’d always smiles. “Baby, what you know?” She observed me, it wasn’t really that she wanted to talk, she wanted to see. Mama saw me, truly saw me at the core. She knew me.

The mediocre cop thought he was the good cop. He tried his tricks, “listen we understand you might be nervous Olivia. We are here just to clear things up. “His breath was nothing, his eyes while pretty held no secrets, no depth, no nothing. The other cop, the good cop made a low murmur and they decided it was time for a break.

When they returned, the mediocre cop sat next to me and offered me a cup of coffee. I knew it was time, I ignored his shitty coffee and turned to the other one. The one sour with rapacious desire, fear and lack of power. He sat in front of me, flexing his jaw and coiled like a snake. I faced him and leaned forward, his gaze lowered from my eyes to my lips, to my throat and when he realized his face tightened, I spoke so soft, so sweet. “Detective, I only want to speak to you.”

When I leaned back, I felt their exchange, the wordless acknowledgement and they thought they had me. The Good cop couldn’t help himself, as his partner left the room, he let me see him feel his own power. “So, Olivia. What do you have to tell me sweetheart?” The way he said sweetheart tasted like body odor in my mouth, “I want to tell you a secret detective. I do know why I’m here but, I can only tell you. Can I tell you my secret, detective?”

I had to wait for him. For his pleasure, for him to believe in the pull of his tense smile, his flexed jaw. I let him see the promise of secrets only for him, for his glory in my eyes and when he took it, I knew. “All right Ms. Olivia, I promise I will do everything for you that I can.” Yes, he would. I let him have my profile, just the hint of my lower lip trembling before I spoke.

“I want you to see detective. I want you to know, to be my most beloved gof’nn hupadgh Shub-Niggurath.” His soul, what was left of it at any rate tried. It did. There was a single spark of knowing, of caution, of pure animal terror but, his ego was too hungry. When I looked back at his face the effulgence of blooming allegiance and lust shone in his eyes, he whispered to himself. “Most favored, rebirth, eternal-”

When his inner eye opened to see, the smell of rotting blue candy filled the interrogation room, the scent of his rot and greed made me wanton and ready. I had waited a long time for him, too long. “Speak then my love, speak and see.”

The light above us dimmed, his eyes went wide as he stared into the cloud of me. He saw the reality of me in his deepest nameless self and he began to gibber. “Mouths, touch me, so many t-tentacles. Mother. Lover. I am a son of Sarnath, please, I want to come home.” I nodded, “go make preparations and have your partner take me home. I will wait for you in the Black Wood.”

At home the boys were waiting, my beloved children. When they gathered at Black Wood, they stood rapt. I stood before my sweetlings, watching their true forms flicker under the sodium vapor lights and encroaching fog. I stood before my beloveds and raised my arms.

“My children, my beloved dark young. I return to you with glad tidings. I have found my gof’nn hupadgh Shub-Niggurath. He shall come here to Black Wood and I will swallow him with my soiled mouth and birth him and he shall live ever after, father, lover, penitant. A new Capra hircus. And unto me, you my loves, my dark young shall spread the joy of worship to the world, we will turn this vile plaece into the shores of ever welcoming Hastur.”

My children, my thousand young began to shed their human skins, more of them crept from the ruins of the projects on the next block, they rose from the gutters, their calls rose into the air on the reek of the open grave. And as they called their impending victory, I could hear the voice of my mother, “Ole ‘livia, my outer goddess, -that held death and love so closely together.”

Writing Exercise #7

Inspired by a comment by beloved Christopher Ropes on fb.

Everyone watches One. One is flash and startling beauty, One is unearthly, clearly one of Gods chosen. One is a tropical bird, a dart frog, the creature that looks predators in the eye and shakes their ass and says, why don’t you try me? One is wild, feral and so good at their job. Most misunderstand the flamboyant beauty of One, they feel lusty heat, avaricious desire, they want One, they want to possess One, One is the aspirational violent dream made flesh. 

Two no one watches. Two is, Two is nice. Two looks friendly, Two is a nice word on a slightly inconvenient day, Two is steady and solid. Two speaks gently, Two is the gentle “hi guys” no one hears when One is on display. Two is normativity and comfort. Two is the one you hold hands with at the Famer’s Market on Sunday, Two is the craving for solace and light in winter. 

Together, they are completion. One does their job, shining bright- a whirlygig to bring them running. One flirts, One oozes and glitters, stirs desires until it is time. One leaves them wanting, leaving on a gust of heat that strokes the skins of the most desirous, the most covetous. They want One, they follow One even as they hear the little, “hi guys”. One shines, One shouts, One is the hot wet ichorous concupiscence no one can forget. One is the poison flower, to hold prey. 

Two sees, Two can taste the moment. Their voice, so usual, cute but not over so, familiar, warm enough to encourage the flicker of a smile that fades as the prey beholds One. Two, knows when One has them, and while they are enchanted Two gets to work.  

“Hi guys.” 

When they hear Two, it is already over. One has left them ripe, fecund and ready. In their locus of desire they find comfort in Two. Until they look into those eyes, the friendliness drains and takes all hope at heat and life with it. Two is the teeth, Two is the danger, Two is jovial death come to feast. And all at the last, every one of them would dream of One while the last thing their wretched minds know is that familiar little voice, “hi guys.” 

Writing Exercise #6

A remix of this piece.

“Man, I don’t even know what we’re doin here. We ain’t got time for you to get yo dick wet.” Javier Morales didn’t stop walking or turn around to acknowledge his partner whining, he led the other man around a cinderblock wall and found an ugly patio with a gaggle of women in robes and head wraps lounging. “Hello ladies and them.” Morales bowed slightly and turned to face a weird looking short haired whomever when he said them. The assembled women and other, jumped up each of them rushing to put their arms around the man. 

“Javi, Javi hi daddy!” The one he’d called them was the first into his arms, the other man stood there frowning. He started to speak but changed his mind when Morales extricated himself. “My friends, my loves, this is the new guy. Manny these are the ladies and them. This tall snowbunny right here is Lila, this is Miss Ginger.” The white girl and the light skinned girl in the red wig smiled at him and spoke together, “hi new guy Manny.” 

The other two ladies were dark and delicious Candice, petite brown skinned Keisha and them, aka Ace. “Hi.” Manny wasn’t necessarily polite on a good day and that day he was incapable. He looked each of them up and down, made them for pros or strippers and looked at Javier, “really? Really these are your assets?” Lila and Ginger looked at each other and started taking off their earrings, Javier saw and moved to get the other man away, “sorry loves, he doesn’t know. Boss here?” Ace jerked a thumb at the door, “yeah she’s in the office.” 

“Have fun Manny.” The white girl snapped her teeth at him, and he felt a strange frisson of pure black terror. It was the most secret fears, it made his guts bubble and his balls retreat to safety. The way they looked at him, it made him feel uncomfortable in some deep way he couldn’t name. He let Javier lead the way and just inside the back door Javier stopped, “listen mother fucker. Keep your mouth shut, smile, if you can’t say something respectful say nothing.” 

That was the time Manny should have asked the nagging question, “who are we seeing? What are we doing?” Instead, he snorted and tugged his hat and rolled his eyes, “okay daddy.” Javier chuckled and turned to walk into the darkness, “dumb mother fucker.” Manny had to trot to catch up, “what you say?” Javier waved him off, “nothin come on.” 

Inside Manny saw it looked like a strip club, but the building had no signage outside. Inside women wandered around, two girls were on a side stage working out their joint shower show, from far in the back left corner came a voice that cut through Manny and touched that dark fear in him, “Javier, I thought that was you.” The voice was almost sexless and deep, pleasant on top with an undercurrent of something sinister.  

He turned to look and almost rolled his eyes. So much drama for what? The woman who emerged from the back of the club was petite woman wearing braids nearly to her knees, her big dark eyes were shiny but, cloudy as if she could see the room, the atoms in the room and something happening on a world five planets away. She wore a full length silky yellow robe; she was obviously naked underneath. 

“Hello Javier and friend. Come on, let’s go in the office.” Manny managed to keep the outward signs of nervousness to a minimum but as they walked down the hallway past dozens of photos of beautiful girls, that thing inside him, the ugly little prey animal panicked. He felt the way he did the first time he went to jail and had been paraded in front of all those animals, he wanted to run squealing to hide somewhere. 

By the time they were ushered into the lush burgundy themed office he’d gotten his shit together. He half listened to the other two chitchat while he looked around more walleyed than he realized. He kept thinking of periods for some reason and made a face. “You don’t like the décor Manny?” He gave her an ugly empty smile, “no it is, something.” 

He let them continue their conversation until they stood. “Good to see you as always. We good?” The woman turned back to examine Manny and he felt like she sniffed him, the prey animal inside whimpered and gibbered, “oh we’re good Javi.” Her tone was so low and calm, it hit Manny like a velvet tongue across his fear. He found himself standing and watching her. 

Javi walked by, slapped him on the shoulder. “Ay, it ain’t personal, just business.” Before a question could form in his mind, she was on him. She rode him to the ground like she’d leapt out of some tree and the last thing he understood was the thought, ambush predator. After she tore a mouth full of flesh out of his throat she sat on his belly, tipped her head back and called. 

“Girls and theys, dinner. Dinner babies.” 
 

The girls and them streamed in, all too hungry to retain even the sly appearance of humanity. Lila and Ginger had each shed their ladylike heads and atop their shoulders each bore a multi mouthed cunt flower on delicate, pulsating pink stalks, Candice let her hood spread and the robe slip off of her body as the smooth brown skin crackled and speckled, the boss smiled at her. “You are so pretty. Come on and eat.” The last to descend were Keisha and Ace, each having taken the time to construct her and their webs, they waited patient as elder gods for their share. 

Lila tore two handfuls of thigh meat from the still screaming man and bent to feed Keisha and Ace, the voice that moved through the poisonous labia for a face she had was sweet and high, “okay here you go honey. That’s good eat up.”  

The boss watched her children feast for a while before leaving them to it, “make sure everyone puts their faces back on. Club opens at 7 and it is fleet week.”  

As the door closef behind her she walked out to the floor for some last-minute check ins and one young woman needed a hug. Since being ejected from the pit, the boss had struggled to find her place until she opened Hellbabes Buffet…all they can eat. 

Writing Exercise #5.

Theme music.

Prompt-1.284 A parent uncovers a dark secret on their child’s computer, smartphone, music player or gaming device. A secret which involves the parent’s significant other. What is it? Prompt from Instigation Creative Prompts on the Dark Size by Michael A. Arnzen (affiliate link) written in the last couple of hours between work calls.

– 

I always told myself I wouldn’t be this father. Mine was like this and after I left home, the last time was the last straw, and I never went back. My daughter asked me to do some work on her laptop, all ican think of is her beautiful brown face, her sweet gravelly voice, “thanks Daddy. I’ll be back after work. Love you.” She kissed my cheek and bounced away, the beads on the ends of her braids clacking away, her braids swinging, “hey baby goat bring some paper towels home. Love you baby.” 

My baby goat, my beautiful, rambunctious, leaping, agent of pure chaos and here I am with her laptop open in front of me, knowing full well what I’m going to do. I have paid close attention, kept our relationship open, I talked to my Mama, I thought I was ready and then two weeks ago I heard her and now I have to know. 

I go through the usuals; spot check some emails and look at a few items here and there. I have no heart for this. I open her tiktok and smile, she works so hard on it. Her little dance videos are so cute, she looks just like her Mama did at that age. 20 years old, a stank attitude and the uncanny ability to express herself so freely and joyously, I miss my wife so much but I can’t think about that now. My wife and I had learned early on about the warning signs, I thought my baby would get away but, as I opened a folder marked drafts I saw. 

As soon as the folder loads, I understand. I was right. Fuck.  

When my wife and I met, we knew right away. The scent of the gene active for lycanthropy is a scent we all know. If the gene is active, we know. Unless of course it is your own child as we found out. When two people with the active gene mate and produce offspring, both parents are nose blind to the lycanthropy of their own child. Evolution is ridiculous but, that’s where we are at. 

Before my wife passed, we had a talk with her, and I thought it was handled. I was so proud of myself after my wife was gone. I handled her period like a man, I let her wear my sweatpants and eat every scrap of food in the house and wasn’t even mad when she snarled. Her behavior through childhood was normal for us. She was always a little more bitey, a little more observant than other children but I thought we were past the danger zone. 

When the pandemic hit and she moved back home, we had a good solid agreement about our boundaries. The house is big enough and we have each had our own space, I went for weeks at one point without seeing her. There have been clues here and there, a few bites taken out of chickens in the fridge, what might have been howling. I start updating her computer and text her that I’ll pick her up from work. 

My wife told me before she passed to teach her our ways. I got some things together and puttered around the house for hours until it was time to go. When I pull up at the bar she waves, hugs the bouncer and fairly prances to the car. “Daddy guess what? One of my regulars came in with like a whole big ass group of people and they tipped me two hundred frickin dollars.” she shows me the cash and wiggles in pure glee. “That’s great honey good job. Was it those bank guys?” She shakes her head and gets settled. 

She chatters as I pull onto the freeway until she stops mid-sentence and looks at me. “What’s wrong? Do you have to poop?” I laugh, she’s such a country soul. “No, I just um, listen. Have you been changing honey?” When I look at her, her shoulders are up around her ears, and she squirms. “I am not mad at you honey, I just want to make sure you are safe and feeling okay.” 

“Daddy, I um- I have been doing something that might make you mad. But please hear me out before you get upset?” I steel myself; I keep imagining her out there alone, running scared, maybe getting stuck by the freeway or worse. I nod, we had an agreement that when she asked, I would not immediately get angry. “Okay so like, I read all of Mom’s journals and everything, so I was pretty ready. I was a real late bloomer. I didn’t change the first time until right after my eighteenth birthday. It was pretty rough and I woke up cuddling a half-eaten rabbit.”  

I let her go on. “So then after I got laid off, I kept thinking about it so basically, I founded a um, spicy website with Irina and some other girls. We change and then, it depends.” I glance at her, “spicy like um, I-” she smiles at me. “Don’t think about it too hard. It isn’t super dirty, but the market is wide open. Basically, we’re just naked and furry and doing kinda normal things unless it is a mukbang then we like eat stuff the customers buy us. There are a lot of us now and well, I was gonna wait until your birthday to tell you something else-” 

My mind is blank. “Go ahead sweetie.” She puts her hand on my arm, “well we did well enough in the first half of the year I um, I saved enough to pay off the house and on your birthday they are gonna deliver a side of beef and some donkey bones and I invited Irina’s family, some of the other girls and um, I got you a date. She works with us and you’re gonna love her.” 

I know that folks would expect me to be upset. My daughter, my lil goat naked on the internet but, I’m fine. Not totally fine but, when I look at how proud of herself she is I can’t be angry. I pull off the highway onto a little forgotten road and turn to face her. She looks on the verge of tears, “Daddy please don’t be mad at me.” I take her hands and kiss them, then I lean over and kiss the tears off of her cheeks. 

“I’m not mad. I’m a little freaked out. I’m happy you’ve adjusted. Um, I don’t really know what to say. Is there, anything you need advice about?” The way she lights up and almost leaps into my arms tells me we’re going to be okay. “You wanna go chase javelinas? And if you catch one I’ll let you eat it in the backyard.” She squeals and claps her hands, “no cheating Dad you go park the car, I get a head start.” She covers my face in drooly kisses, puts her purse under the seat and jumps out of the car. I watch her streak into the night and turn the car to head home, relieved and terrified.   

Writing Exercise #4

Inspired by beloved friend Chiwan’s new ghost podcast.

Wake up. 

I don’t have to say no, I’m already awake. I never want to do this with them.  

Wake up. 

My eyes are open and wide. I can tell it is between 3 and 3:30 AM, the neighbor is out warming up his car and I can hear what? Two sneezes, big trucks pulling into the rest stop to the East. The lady two houses down has chickens starting to stir. 

Look.  

I don’t have to say no. I’m already looking. I never want to do it. 

Wake up. 

Now they plead. They hate it when I act like I can’t see and can’t hear.  

Wake up.  

Look. 

I close my eyes. I can sleep for a few more hours. I can dream them away for a precious bit of peace. And when I wake up to see the sun flooding my room and the shadows suddenly stilled, I will look. I will be, awake. 

Writing Exercise #3

Based on this photo over at yeah write.

I thought my last sunset would be different. I don’t know why I was under that impression; I’ve never been romantic or overly fond of sandy vistas and the freezing cold water. If I’m real about it, I’ve never been overly fond of anything. I hate the rigors of keeping myself alive. Food, water, sleep, shit, dodge unwanted male attention, be nice, be fly, secure the bag, look good but not too good, grow my hair but not too much, look good but don’t have the audacity to look good to myself, fuck all this. Fuck it I’m done. 

I’m not suicidal, I’m not outstandingly mentally ill I’m just done. Once I decided to find another way, there were always rumors about them. I found the right kinds of bars, the odd places where the people were all a bit, timeless and spent too much time sloshing their drinks around. Most of them left me alone until I found him. I found him and watched for weeks. Unlike most of them he had no pretty companions, no groupies.  

When I was ready, I sat outside of his favorite bar and waited. I saw him look out at me, he frowned I smiled. I waited. Most blood sluts behaved like groupies at a concert, flash skin, nick themselves, they do all kind of extra shit to get attention. I did none of that. I just waited. 

– 

“Excuse me, why have you been following me?” He stood there frowning at me, I wanted to lick his dark brown bald head. I stood up and squared my shoulders, “I was waiting to meet you.” We stared at each other, he was trying to intimidate me into saying more, saying too much and I waited him out. “Okay we have met. Congratulations, you know a vampire.” I laughed and took his arm. “Oh, I know a few. But you’re special. You’re going to either kill me and I’ll be done, or you’ll kill me, and I’ll be reborn. My place?” 

He let me take his arm and just looked confused. “What? What are you talking about um miss?” I gave his arm a squeeze, “Mx. Please. I am talking about the fact that I am sick and mother fucking tired of being human but I’m not suicidal. I investigated other options but most of them seem very unpleasant and wouldn’t solve my problem. You do. So, if I live on as your undead, um what do you folks say now? Paramour? Pet? Cattle? Lil blood bitch?” 

The last made him laugh and he stopped walking and held me by my shoulders, he looked me up and down, then stared into my eyes for a while and shrugged. “Okay Mx. Your name?” I smiled at him as we started to walk again. “I dunno, I’m picking a new name if I wind up undead. We’ll figure it out. My place is right up here.” 

Inside we sat and I explained to him how I felt, what I wanted and what I was willing to risk. He listened and asked smart questions. We talked for hours, he tried to frighten me. He told me vile stories about torn throats, wars, loneliness. “I get all that. Look, I can just say I’m built different. Turn me and I will go away forever if you want. I just don’t want to do this anymore.”  

– 

The actual turning was anti-climactic. It hurt, then just before I went into shock, he put his cut wrist to my throat. It was a little clinical, I chose well. When he left me to see my last sunset, he shook his head at me. “You’ll know when it is done. I’ll be at the club. Wear something nice.” 

And so, I sit here, not weeping at the lowering of the sun. I can feel my insides cooling, slowing, and making ready for a final evacuation before I never have to deal with this human shit again. No sickness, no degeneration, no shitting, puking or other disgusting things. As night settles around me, I strip and walk into the water for my first bath as a newborn.  

Writing Exercise # 2

Inspired by this video-

The steam from my cup of tea tastes like her breath. I don’t want to think about it, but I pull it in across my lips, it is melodramatic and I’m absurd but, here I am. “But ghosts aren’t so warm.” I know. I know so let’s not talk about it. Of course, she’d say that. I wanted to roll my eyes. “Go ahead, roll your eyes. You never did appreciate poetry.” I like poetry, not the poetry she liked. I stand up and walk to the window, I hate Winter.  

The steam from the tea makes a little foggy spot, the glass squeaks as a heart is drawn in it. I smile, her signature heart with the lopsided top. “Hearts for my heart.” I finish my tea and stop procrastinating. The brush of her is cold against my cheek and I wave her away, no time for cuddles. I sit down at my computer and after a few minutes my first student logs on, she is grinning and signing a mile a minute. 

My student is eager for the assignment, I’ve asked her to watch a concert with an ASL interpreter and to transcribe what she can and then we’ll discuss it. While we watch, she’s so exited she forgets her notes, she signs along, tosses her braids and her brown face is an image of pure joy. I sat back to watch and joined in after two songs. By the last set we were both up out of our chairs, dancing, twerking and laughing.  

“That was so fun. Do they have that at concerts for real?” My student tilted her head and leaned to her left. She looked like she was trying to look around me, I signed. “What’s wrong?” Her gaze was fixed on something over my shoulder, I was afraid to turn around. Over my shoulder is the window in my office, her gaze had weight and I shivered. “Hey?” I waved until she shuddered and turned her attention back to me.  

I don’t make a habit of getting personal with my students. I teach them to sign, I teach them more effective ways to read lips and communicate with the hearing, I tell them nothing about my personal life. I claim I do it for safety but, to be so perceived by anyone scares me. My student shifts and lifts her hands, then puts them back in her lap and blinks at me. “Yes? Are you okay hon?” 

She rolls her lips together and nods, shakes her head then nods again. “Can I tell you something? Please don’t judge me.” I nod, I’m hoping she doesn’t suddenly hate me or want to cancel her classes. She doesn’t look at me as she tells me, “I um, so I can see a lady in your apartment. Your girlfriend and she said, you only hate winter cause she’s not here. And she loves you.” I watch her look at me from the corner of her eye, I wait until she looks at me fully. 

“Thank you. I miss her. Do you want to continue?” My student goggles at me, starts to sign, puts her hands down, hands up, down, then she just stares at me. “I understand. Some people have gifts, I’m not afraid of you.” The relief moves through her so fast, I watch her relax, her fingers uncurl and the smile on her face is so big her eyes squint closed. 

“Thank you, thank you. Thank you for seeing me.” As we continue, I decide that this student will know me, and I her. Maybe, it is my time to give up living with ghosts and be perceived, to move beyond winter. The steam from my cup of tea tastes like her breath. I don’t want to think about it, but I pull it in across my lips, it is melodramatic and I’m absurd but, here I am. “But ghosts aren’t so warm.” I know. I know. I know. 

Writing Exercises #1

Prompt- Memory

It is 1984 I am six years old. I am in the car with my parents in their little white jelly bean hatchback, we’re driving up towards Paradise at Mt. Rainer and I was tucked safe in my booster seat, singing and good. I remember thinking this was the most romantic song, I was deeply infatuated with these two tender men and the way they crooned.

Today I am listening to one of my lengthy playlists, it is full of the country and blues and r&b I remember hearing at home and in the car. The music we listened to for weekend cleaning, for cooking, to just dance and sing around the house. Much of my time lately has been taken up with examining memory and playing with writing memoir. I listen to this music and I want to paint it over my childhood, a gentle wash to blur the hard edges and jagged memories.

A large part of me wants to hold nothing but the music, the images of my Mom’s hips swaying, the pauses in stirring or wiping down a counter to belt out the good parts. I used to be able to do that, I could drown out things she said at other times, I could gloss over and reframe the things I thought were just wrong about me because obviously, I was such a hard child to have. I cling to those good moments, to that feeling of being held emotionally and safe.

I cling and now I let go. I know that to heal is to both remember and forget. To expose myself as a raw nerve and to protect my heart. I don’t want to do any of it. I want to be 7 years old in my room, wearing thrifted dress up clothes, singing ‘Bad Girls’ and ‘Elvira’, I want to be that kid putting on full drag shows as taught by my beloved queens, I don’t want to think. I don’t want to remember.

I want to close my eyes, sit back and caterwaul until I feel safe.

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Ten minutes, timed.

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