Four Little Words

Four words.
Four little words.
And she grins a genuine grin.

Four words.
Four little words.
And her face flushes red.

Four words.
Four little words.
And her heart nearly stops.

Four words.
Four little words.
And she nearly loathes herself just a little less.

She wasn’t proud of herself.
She didn’t meet her own standards.
She never had lived up to her own expectations.
She wasn’t good enough.
She never had been—
for herself or anyone else.

Then suddenly,
she was.
At least for someone else.
They looked for the effort she put it,
and found the worth in her where she,
nor her family,
could… or would.

Not her mother.
Buck up, Bucky. You just have to keep going.”
Everyone is crazy, has issues, is tired.

Her father.
That “B” could have been an “A”.”
Everyone joke has even just an inkling of truth.

Her grandmother.
So, are you going to start getting good grades again?”

She was trying,
doing what she could,
while others played god with her life.
The life that was once her’s was no longer.

I’m proud of you.
He was though.
Your best is more than good enough.
He meant it.
“I told you you’d pass, babe.
She didn’t think she would.
EZ.
She nearly shit a brick at an “A” in Dev Psych.
“I told you everything would be all right.

She never got her hopes up;
better to be pleasantly surprised than crushingly disappointed.

I’m proud of you.
A fuckwit grin.
Every.
Goddamn.
Time.
He meant the world to her.

And when he was happy,
she worried just a little less.

I’m proud of you, Jessie.

I Am Not

am not cookie dough.
You can’t just find your favorite cookie cutter,
hidden in the cabinets,
long forgotten from my childhood,
and press me into who you want to see—
what you wish I’d turned into rather than what I’ve become.
am not cookie dough,
and I am not sorry that you can’t handle the warped finished product.
You burned the cookie.

am not a quilt.
You can’t just take your favorite fabrics,
your favorite pieces of me,
and sew them into a pretty little blanket.
Crisp edges and bright colors with wide fields of May flowers preceded only by mild April showers.
am not a quilt,
and I am not sorry that you’re unhappy with the aesthetic of a frayed, storm-torn, barren cluster of scraps.
You fucked up the stitching.

am not a military contract.
You can’t sign up for 18 years,
serve your time,
and choose not to reenlist when shit goes south;
decide that you don’t want to re-commit because the state of my psyche has declared WWIV.
WWIII was mandatory—
year 16 or 18.
Damn.
So close, right?
I am not a military contract,
and I am not sorry for the wars you let happen, contributed to.
You were blind to the red flags.

I am not your “smiley baby girl.”
Not anymore.
You can’t just stick your head in the sand,
watching the clips of the past in the recesses of your mind.
She’s dead;
she has been for ten years.
What’s left is the husk of the creature she wanted to be.
I am not your “smiley baby girl” anymore,
and the only thing I’m sorry for is the burden you place on others in picking up your slack because you can’t face the truth.
You let her slip away.

Have You Ever…?

Have you ever felt like your life was falling apart?
As though you could physically see the world around you crumbling away,
piece by piece?
Heard the sickening crack of the debris striking the back of your head,
dropping you to the ground,
but just leaving you there helplessly to do nothing about it?

Have you ever felt like you were drowning—school, work, family, social obligations?
As though you’d fallen from your ship in rough waters during a storm,
and as hard as you tried to fight,
the waves kept overtaking you?
Frigid waters continued to fill your lungs,
Salty sea waters seared your eyes,
and your sputtering, choked cries for help forever deafened by roaring thunder?

Have you ever felt like others had absolute control over your life?
As though that life that was once your own no longer was?
Like a puppet on many strings,
with several puppeteers,
and you only moved as they moved your strings?
Are they your gods,
and you an unwilling participant in their cult religion?

Have you ever felt like 22 years was enough, and maybe it was just time to say goodbye?
As though you were exhausted and you just wanted to rest?
You’d done everything in your power to push through life,
the odds often against you,
but it all seemed to futile?
As if you’d been marked from very moment you took your first breath,
and now it was time?

I have.
I still do.
And I’m sorry if you ever have,
and still do, too

Guardian

An ocean between them,
he watches over her.
When she sleeps under her sun,
he stands and subdues her demons into submission.
She wakes not,
resting peacefully.
On even just those few hours,
she can get by.

When her sun falls,
and he has returned home to rest,
she awakens.
She knows even in sleep when he is not there.
Now,
she stands guard.

While she cannot see him,
as his sun has drifted off to sleep with him,
he can see her.
She is there if he is ripped from a peaceful slumber,
or his sun has slept before he and keeps him awake.
She is there simply to speak or lull him to sleep until his sun stands and stretches again.

When his sun is up,
she often tries to rest again;
but her demons pester her.
They prod her awake,
haunt her dreams,
strangle her.
She gives up.

Though when he is there,
she grows tired and drifts off.
The demons shy away,
and for a few more hours,
she rests.

And so the cycle continues.
Each take a shift,
an ocean apart,
protecting the other from the monstrosities that pervade the other’s dreams.

One Memory

Now I lay me down to sleep,
The tune still hummed softly in the back of her mind.
Every night as a child,
every night her mother was home,
she sang her to sleep.

I pray The Lord my soul to keep,
She still smiled at the memory.
No,
she didn’t have a surplus of happy childhood memories.

Guard me Jesus through the night,
No,
she didn’t subscribe to any religious beliefs as an adult.
Her mother tried.
It didn’t stick.

Wake me with the morning light.
She never failed to follow up with the same jumble of silly sounds,
a tickling,
a kiss on the forehead,
and a “Goodnight,” before flipping off the lights.

While she didn’t have many childhood memories to make her smile,
she had this one.
She could still sing the prayer,
religious or not.
She could still remember the mass of jumbled sounds,
word for word.
She could still feel her mother’s fingers on her stomach and hear her own concurrent giggling,
just settling down as the lights flipped off with her mother’s voice fading out.

While she didn’t have childhood memories to make her smile,
she had this one.
And she always would.

Arguing With “Her”

‘Don’t get too close.
Never let anyone see everything.
Too much;
no one could handle them.
She knew that.

‘They always leave in the end—drop off like flies.’
Even when she hid the worst,
the “best” of the worst was still too much.
She was insufferable.
She was right again.
And again, she knew that, too.

‘Who could ever want… this?
For once,
she agreed with the bitch.
No fight.
She was nothing to look at.
She saw that lazy eye,
even if slight.
That extra fat, extra skin.
Cheeks, chin,
bat-winged arm flaps,
stomach (freshly-baked muffin tops, anyone?),
thighs.
And the scars.

‘Don’t blame me. You did that allllll on your own.’
Bullshit.
She remembered almost nothing.
Just snapshots,
almost like crime scene photos.
This was her doing.
The physical evidence of insanity.
And what the fuck else could they be?
Semi-uniform lines,
crossing over others,
some thick,
some thin,
lining arms, thighs, and calves in layers.
Destroy,
heal,
lighten,
repeat.
Repulsive.

‘A future?’
That cruel laughter…
Rattled her brain,
nearly sent her into hysterics,
in public even.
That was for her own amusement.
The bitch was… still right.
Even as a little girl with a softball bat and a cheeky grin,
she was always in awe when she started the next grade level,
amazed she’d made it that far.

‘We both know it’s only a matter of time; you’ll do it regardless.’
She wanted to argue,
but could she?
A void:
black, empty.
Nothing.
She’d never seen anything else.
Maybe that was her future.
The near future.

‘You’re a lost cause. Doomed from the time you took your first breath.
She needed to stop being fucking right.
Nothing worked.
She couldn’t even be labeled for treatment properly.
Can’t treat what you can’t diagnose.
Just fuck the thing up more.

‘Get it over with. Selfish prick.’
The longer she stayed,
the longer those she met “knew” her.
The longer she stayed,
the larger her pool of acquaintances grew.
They wouldn’t see right away that she was doing them a favor—
that they would be far better off without her.
She’d be doing them a service.
She was going to do them a favor.

‘I should start… making arrangements.’