Thursday, May 31, 2012

Abandoned Buildings

Abandoned Buildings
Sun pulses from behind the lazy white bushes of sunset. Two girls, hands folded together, collect themselves at the top of the Michigan Central Railroad Station. Wind is cold here, damp and dark, cleansing but restrictive.
Their clothes have been browned by the effort of climbing staircases in fairy tales of disrepair, squeezing through bug bitten windows and denting their candy-cane skin with old glass. One holds the other, a little paler than she, by the falconer’s bones in her shoulder. They position themselves for sight-seeing.
They are salted and sleepy, possessing one another’s exhaustion in reverent glances, the held girl seated on her knees, the holder above her, disrupted by passing gusts of air.
Lin is restless about the sunset coming down, suspicious and uneasy, afraid of the nothing brought by night. Numb, colored grass and the same pixel reruns in the sky, she hates it. Her joints ache in their lack of purpose and her hair hums a low frustration down her back. She tugs the pale girl, Em, up from the ground, roof gravel scraping serenely into her bright open bones, scented arms colliding, thrown together, mouths and teeth touching each other.
“Look how far down,” Lin says.
“It’s a long way, yeah,” Em answers. She brushes her fingers on her shorts and tries to clean them of the day’s debris. As kings of the mountain, with territory conquered, they sway together and bite love notes on their dirty skin, then Lin kicks a fragment of glass over the edge. Silent, sweating love, side by side they watch it fall, a whistle, then a golden gush of receded sun, too far away to leave them with an echo when it hits something soft below.
“I wish I could be on the ground and watch you all the way up here,” Lin laments, smiling.
“You wouldn’t even be able to see me.”
“I’d be able to see you.”
Em puts her hair behind a shoulder and smiles, fingering her belt loop. “Why would you watch me? What would I do?”
“Dance on the edge. Holding your arms out like a bird - see,” Lin lifts up a wingspan and bends back her head, acting at freedom.
Em laughs. 
“I would fall. I’d be a dead bird. Ants would’ve already eaten me by the time I hit the ground.”
“I wouldn’t let you fall.”
Em looks off to the west, shakes her head, blond and cursed to look forever like a child when she's confused. “How can you keep me from falling if you’re on the ground?”
And she takes everything literally. It's the most tragic thing about her, and if Lin ever told her that, she would pout. Em wanted to be tragic sometimes. It came so easily to other people.
“I wouldn’t let you fall,” Lin repeats, and hip by hip embraces the blond from behind, walking her legs for her, swinging her hands for her, disturbing her breasts with each striking footfall for her. 
Lin brings her to the pencil edge of the decaying rooftop and, a single charged unit, they stare toward the ground until they're both dizzy.
“It’s such a long way down, I can’t believe it. Why they would leave so much behind?”
Lin steps away. “Turn around.”
Em is so blue-eyed, designed from the pillaged spoils of early earth. She’d been mined out of California in a little black pan by someone Lin never wanted to meet, some foul old fuck with a beard, torn clothes, tan skin, who fished her out of river rock where she’d been sleeping peacefully for centuries.

Em makes a slow pivot, points her spine out at the city and breathes, suddenly unable to meet the bronze combustion of Lin’s stare, which is always shameless. She laughs again. “Should I be scared?”
“I wouldn’t,” Lin says. “Lift your arms.”
Motionlessness betrays Em's fear. It's the rot unspoken between them, fear. It grows green on their bellies, a muffled moist fungus glued together by years of affection unchallenged. Science be as illogical as it is exact - Em cannot explain why her balance should be impeccable if her arms stayed pressed down like dropped arrows, or how she knows there is more potential to soar like a dead, dead bird over and off the edge if she raises them, but she knows. She stays still.
“I knew it,” Lin says, hangs her face, breaks her heart.
“I’m sorry.”
“Lift your arms.”
“I don’t want to fall.”
“You never, ever listen.” The sun is a hand falling off of them now, drowsily leaving behind its indiscriminate caresses.
A heart beats between them louder than the shower of traffic from below. Em tastes sweat, blinks away its burn from her eyes. The sun thief steals her voice as it departs, but she stares at Lin with confusion, with concern, asking questions there are no words for.
“I would do it anyway, you know that?” Lin says. “After this, I would do it anyway. Lift your arms.”
Em lifts her arms, fastened to reality by the need to appease one’s captor.
“Close your eyes.”
She closes her eyes, they are doing nothing for her. She misses Lin’s face immediately and completely, wants to soothe its disappointment with her tongue.
“Put your head back.”
Gravity sings up to her, scales the building’s broken windows and peels along its ledge with eager arms, she feels it pull the words across her ass, her knees, her heart. This is special. They are special. Even falling, falling that far, falling so far you start to fall before you move, even death, they were in control of everything.
She tries to listen to Lin’s approaching legs, a shift, a scrape, a shift, but adrenaline clamors in instead, an inconsiderate and endless stabbing in her ears through open veins as the storm of ancient trains beats through her abdomen, didit, didit, didit, didit.
When they lay on the ground together, ant-bitten, later in the night, they know they’ll never talk again.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012


This is where I want to be today, more than anything. I want to wake up already pink from the heat in a bungalow on the beach, sweating, smiling. I want a breakfast of blended drinks and fruit, and my husband on the porch, skin rough-textured from the sun. I want to hear the movements of the people in bungalows nearby, unhurried, unspecific. I want the first thing my feet touch to be wood, the second to be sand, the third to be bright, hot shore water.

I’m not much of a beach person. In fact, I avoid the beach all summer while my friends make desperate scrambles to get there, cars crammed with umbrellas, mats, towels and folding chairs.

Today, though, I think there’s a benefit to be had from a proper beach vacation, from the slow, drunk thoughtlessness, from the heat. I’m in the mood for that warm, comfortable nothing.

Thursday, April 7, 2011


In approaching eventual treatment for one of my phobias, the strongest, the deepest, the worst, I said something to a friend almost by accident, and didn't realize until a minute later just exactly how true it was.

My fear of wasps (and all related) is the only one that has no definitive explanation, no particular, sensible thing about it that upsets me, and has absolutely no root in childhood trauma/event/stupidity, as all the others have had. I can and do trace each of my insecurities, anxieties and emotional triggers back to the moments they began, to the places where they were born, and I'm able to settle many of them by doing so.

It just is. This one thing, the most powerful of all my mind's attempts to attack itself, is simply a thing inborn, like a gallbladder, like a second thumb joint. I wonder if this will make it more difficult to cure.

Sunday, April 3, 2011


The agitation of Seidhr's finger-dimpled skin was sending out a soft throb of red welts, satisfying the need in Cailer to've made an impact, to see the success of his inflictions.

"What?," Cailer intoned at the ugly request for protection, head tipped, teeth bared, then forced up his hands to tangle in masses of Seidhr's hair and direct him with it, by all the wasted strength in his arms, into a kneel. He bent over him, tore at the fine, faintly curled strands of black until his enemy's neck displayed an obscene arch. "What was that? Louder, fucking pig, I don't think anybody heard you."

When efforts to release himself were stalled by the superior grip and assistance seemed slow in the coming, Seidhr abandoned the darkened forearms that held him and swung up a heavy, drunken fist to Cailer's cheek bone, knocked his face off-center and briefly blurred his vision. Cailer would insist later, even as the purple swell of abused vessels glared there, that it was nothing, but it was enough that he let go, that he stepped away, and Seidhr was able to stand.

It was all so fucking offensive - that he would fight him, that he would pretend righteousness now and call like a coward for help. It felt natural, a necessary reaction to such sinister insult, when Seidhr came at him and Cailer caught him by the shoulders, slung him around and shoved (a firm, flat drill of two fists into the offender's chest) to force him onto the table, scattering its cards and players.

Lannial's presence, though only physically apparent when he offered an insistent, collecting touch, hadn't left him. Flushed clean of the need to analyze by the familiar tonic of aggression, he didn't begrudge it, didn't smack him away. "He's done," Cailer agreed, a hard, driven boil of a declaration, a scrape that rawed his throat but was, for once, not at all sarcastic. His alliance with the boy was fluid and swift, loyal to the idea, loyal to Lannial's desire.

But Seidhr's form twisted up, unrelenting, and he charged off the table's surface with the dumb, brilliant, boundless strength of intoxicated men. For a moment they were indistinguishable - all nails and teeth, arms colliding, the grunted, accidental noises of impact. It was only as a small, equally intoxicated crowd began to gather at the door that Cailer could regain control. He wouldn't relinquish it a second time. Cailer, he's done, Lannial said in his memory, encouraging, coaxing, permissive.

Cailer drank that inspiration deeply, spit it back at Seidhr and hammered into him, covered him up, drove him through the table and heard its splintered destruction as his reward. It wasn't enough. Straddled and pinned in the wreckage of wood and dusty playing cards, Seidhr fought more weakly in degrees as Cailer hit him, hit him again, hit with precision, with purpose; he didn't stop until he saw blood on the both of them and Seidhr wasn't struggling anymore.

Cailer dismounted, swore at him and straightened, taking in the room with not the barest suggestion of guilt at what he'd instigated, what he'd caused. His eyes touched Lannial's, but didn't linger long - with nothing left with which to bludgeon out the attraction there, he felt naked, and the crowd that swarmed would soon be parted by Ava's familiar watchmen.

He left, neither silently nor calmly, elbowing through people on his way. Whatever happened would happen. Until it did, he needed to breathe.

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Apathy is Not a Virtue.

I will say it again and again, I'll have it branded on me, I'll wear it for you so that you won't forget. Apathy is not a virtue. You will never convince me, never, that the real problem in any given situation is that I care about the situation; its impact on me, its impact on others. The problem is in the root, not the little flower of offense that opens at the top.

This is what makes me a human; I would never celebrate my own premature deadening.

Monday, February 28, 2011


Me, lately.

On the whole I am fluid, entirely comfortable. I love my body, its accidents and unexpected strengths, the things that it can feel, does feel, the things it chases. Sex and wine, laughing as often as I can find a reason, waking up, deep, buried-in-blanket stretches, toes curled, or turning my head to see a friend smile. I love the way I look, I like to see my face in the morning, in the mirror, in pictures. I carry a little something, I've become vivid, I finally live in color.

My personality is that of a companion. I want to be the place in your life that you visit when you need to feel good, you should feel what I feel, you should meet the morning happy to be wearing your body. I'm shaking off, I've shaken off the gray, dead skin of things behind me that I can't change.

I still carve away negative influences and toxic friendships where I have to, but try it more tenderly. I don't want to change anybody. I only want to see them go, and sculpt in the meanwhile more perfect relations with the characters who've populated my story for years already. Then water and cultivate the newcomers, the 1-year, the 2-year, the men and women who still feel undiscovered and intriguing when I'm with them, but who I've learned enough of to be settled by. I dance as I need between depth, trust and frivolousness.

I approach my job with the deepest kind of gratitude. I don't know how to say it; it's my pal. My job and I, we're connected. Partners. It's a thing that brings me comfort, like a friend, and comes along on all my adventures, like a friend, and listens as I sort out what I've seen there, like a friend. It introduces me to things I'd never have known existed, like a friend.

For the first time I'm a part of my community, I involved myself by accident, and I can balance my days between privacy, passion, productivity and communication. I want for nothing. I have achieved. I have stood my ground. I have negotiated and compromised. And I'm alright, and I'm in love, and I'm still myself. I'm who I've always been. I've only learned better that it's a thoroughly satisfying thing to be.

Saturday, February 12, 2011


I am susceptible at 25 to lullaby.

The struggle for an internal rhythm has been long, dull and full of upsets. I want to sleep with the rest of the world. I want to rise with them, enjoy their sunlight, and be productive in the day. Effort, medication and wine have rarely helped me on my way, so what do I do? More often than not, I scrub the base boards at 2a.m., and write novellas closer to four, and finally fall, aware of what I'll be wasting, just as the sun comes up.

Until now. After years of nocturnal energy and restless, fitful blanket tangling, I've come up with a system that seems to hypnotize me piece by piece, smothering my heart rate into submission and putting together a theme show of calm things for my mind to look at, until it will accept looking at nothing, and let me go for eight hours.

As simple as it sounds, it's a playlist of songs. For as much as music has done in my life already, that I never thought to use it for this shows a distinct lack of creativity on my part. I'm sharing it, in case someone drifting through cyberspace may need inspiration for a similar project of their own.

Journey - Lights
Madonna - Rain
Enya - The First of Autumn
Alison Krauss & James Taylor - How's the World Treating You
Catherine Howe - Up North
Norah Jones - Don't Know Why
Vince Gill - Whenever You Come Around
Joni Mitchell - A Case of You
Dar Williams - We Learned the Sea
Kris Delmhorst - Hummingbird
Natalie Merchant - One Fine Day
Sade - Mermaid
Hans Zimmer - Inception Soundtrack: Time