By Nicole Cater
I’m 38 years old. I’ve never had children. Ideally, looking back with 20/20 hindsight, I would have had them young. I would have been able to keep up with them. Even when I was married, I still would have been able to keep up, mostly. But my husband made the decision for both of us that I would not be having children. I divorced him. I wanted children. I looked with great hope to my future romance. There would be children.
But as the years crept past, as my next relationship went nowhere, I gave up. I would not be a mom. At 35, I made peace with this. Besides, my genetic material is hardly worth passing on. It was the hardest thing I’ve ever done in my life. To give up one dream when so many have been taken from you involuntarily is hard. Once again, I was shedding tears for what would never be, the life that wasn’t. But this time it was my own doing. I could blame age. I could blame my illnesses. But I know, ultimately, if I wanted the dream to come true, I could have made it happen. Instead, I killed it. My dream did not have to die. I murdered it.
But then J came along. His wife had passed away after a lifelong illness and he offered me the same unconditional love that he gave to her - I grabbed it with both hands. After all hopes had been dashed, long after all dreams had died, here came a new one. True love, at long last. True love is such a cliché; I hesitate to use it. But I use it in a different way. It was not the falling instantly head over heels that we all think of. It was the giddy infatuation that led to a slow burn. The building of a friendship first, love creeping in softly, overcoming my senses with passion.
Did you think I was speaking of J? Oh no, certainly not. It is S who has captured my heart and hasn’t let go. And though I’m not his stepmom, it doesn’t matter to him. I am mom. My bouncing baby boy came into my life at 14. Now at 15, his love for me is as complete as mine for him. We talk about everything and nothing. I dispense advice on topics from homework to bullies to girls. He brings his problems to me. Because I am Mom. And I wouldn’t have it any other way.
By...Lea Anne Stoughton
We began in the garden, you and I. We explored together in the cool morning light, turning over pebbles and peeking under leaves. Ants bustled about their little ant business. We laughed.
Morning melted into afternoon. Pebbles became rocks, leaves became trees. There were beetles. We whispered.
Shadows stretched and the sky turned red. I led you to my secret place. We held hands.
I showed you the giant rock, the one in the deepest darkness, untouched by light. In the hush, I turned it over, exposing the dank hollow beneath.
You saw what lay there. I showed you willingly. I thought you understood. But night fell heavy on me, and you filled your pockets while I slept.
In the morning I found you in the marketplace. You stood behind the auctioneer, who waved my desperate treasure at the salivating crowd.
“Muck! Filth! Maggots! Putrescence! Death!” she cried. Her eyes rolled. “Look! See!”
The crowd roared at the sky.
I return to the garden sometimes. The pebbles are dull, the trees limp, but I am drawn to this place like a tongue to an aching tooth.
The hollow under the rock holds no treasure now. The deformity it held is gone. I birthed it, yes, but I killed it too, and I buried it.
You made me a monster.
By...Lea Anne Stoughton
You kissed me the way a woman wants to be kissed
Frought with paradox
Push and pull
Yes and no
Desire tempered by reason
Reason overridden by desire
A simple act with a thousand meanings
I kissed you like a man wants to be kissed
Pressed up against your truck
The taste of beer on my tongue
By Lea Anne Stoughton
Ooo, I forgot we had these cookies.
You don’t want to eat that.
Yes I do.
No, you don’t. Remember what you said this morning?
You said, “Today is the day I start eating healthy.”
Didn’t you say that?
So why are you opening the cookies?
I’ll just have one.
Nothing tastes as good as thin feels, you know.
That’s not true at all.
Yes it is. Thin feels AMAZING.
Thin is far away. Cookies are now.
You don’t have an ounce of self-control.
I’ll just have one.
One will lead to two will lead to the whole sleeve.
No, one will satisfy my craving and then I can stop.
What kind of example are you setting for the kids?
Moderation. Healthy attitudes about food. A sense of self-worth that's not dependent on physical appearance.
I don’t want to hear you complaining about being fat anymore.
Fat, thin, who cares? I shouldn’t care about weight anyway.
You’re choosing fat.
Happy is more important than thin.
You’ll be happier when you’re thin.
Yeah, and that’s not right, is it?
Hey, you’re eating a cookie! Stop it!
No. I’m enjoying my life. I like cookies; I’ll eat cookies.
There, you ate it. Are you happy now? Did you enjoy it?
Well? Was it worth it?
I don’t know.
By Sandra Perrenot
I can remember the first time I was really aware of how important it is to breathe. I had just jumped off a wall and missed the tree branch I was aiming for; I was lying on my back like a goldfish on a rug gasping for air. Anyone who has ever had the wind knocked out of them knows that feeling. Sweet, sweet oxygen… We breathe all the time, in blessed unawareness of the life that fills our lungs.
I remember rushing to the hospital trying to remember all the crap I read about childbirth. Pant, they said! Breathe through the pain. And so gasping and panting I welcomed my babies to the world. They have made me gasp, pant and breathe through many moments of joy… and pain.
Breathing on the way to reach my Sarah when she called needing help, “Mom he hit me,” she said sobbing. Preston was concentrating on driving to her and me? I was just trying to breathe. In… two, three, four…out two…three four. Just get me there to see with my own eyes that she’s ok. The detached part of my brain was wondering why I needed to tell myself how to suck air in?
In the car, I’m driving mom home. She’s hooked to her oxygen tank and I’m listening to every breath. Walking from the house to the car takes a lot out of her. “Breathe through your nose, mom. Suck in lots of oxygen…slowly….do you feel better now?” Unconsciously I breathe in rhythm with her, but somehow it feels right. For nine months her air was mine. It’s hard for both of us. She’s breathing through the ravages of her aging body. I’m breathing through the iron band of pain circling my heart. She labored to bring me to life, and now both of us are laboring as she leaves her own life behind. No one ever tells you what hard work it is to die.
And now I lay me down to sleep. I will breathe, and dream, and somewhere I will find the oxygen I need for tomorrow, and for the tomorrows to come. I can do this. All I need to do is breathe.
By Nicole Cater
She sat lonely,
spread out on the ground.
Her home was far
but not too far,
a speck in the distance.
Close enough to see,
far enough to forget.
The summer sun
was baking the grass,
turning spots to yellow.
The grass didn’t matter.
It was of no consequence.
She was here for the sun
and the pink cloud-like flowers.
She hated the house.
For even when it was stifling,
his presence made it ice cold.
So far from the prison of its walls
she was free to soak up the warmth
and the sun was generous.
She called the flowers pink clouds
For that is what they resembled.
Their true name was
Queen of the Prairie.
As she slowly picked
the best blossoms,
Intertwined them into a crown,
Secured them under
the bands of her pigtails
and wore them round
her neck and wrists,
that became her name too:
Queen of the Prairie.
For here she was queen
and she ruled all she saw,
except for the speck of the house.
He ruled that.
He would always rule that.
She was no baby, no sniveling brat.
But she had not yet reached
her magical teen years.
Her sister had reached those teen years.
They used to be
Queens of the Prairie together,
back when they shared the same secret.
She supposed they still shared the secret.
But only she was the
Queen of the Prairie now.
Her sister became too old, too lucky,
Too busy at forgetting,
at putting it all away,
locked in a mental box
with a hidden key.
Occasionally she found the key,
opened the box.
She urged patience, perseverance.
The Queen of the Prairie would grow,
she would grow too old,
she would not be of interest.
And then she would have
her own mental box.
She could hide the key
or even destroy it altogether.
But not yet,
not just yet for the
Queen of the Prairie,
for she could hear him call to her,
bellowing across the formidable distance;
ruining her patch of sun,
turning her veins to ice.
She removed her pink cloud flowers.
Those were hers alone,
her special secret.
She was still too young,
so he could taint her body.
But no one could taint
the Queen of the Prairie.
by Nicole Cater
She passed away. She moved on. She went to her heavenly reward. She died. Too young, I’m sure they said. Only 45, so much life left to live. Think of her poor children. Her little boy, does he even know what is happening? She died.
I feel bad for this woman, so sick, so young, so much to live for, now so gone. How do you mourn someone you never met? More importantly, how are you supposed to feel when one woman’s tragedy is the best gift you've ever received? She is nowhere and everywhere. I’ll never see her. I cannot hide from her.
There she is, her name tattooed on the shoulder blade of my love. Again, on his bicep, the hourglass, sand run down to nothing, the date, the last day of her life. A mere 20 days before the last day of my marriage. The little boy, not so little, taller than me even, on the cusp of manhood. He looks like her. I’ve never seen her picture. But I know he doesn't look like his father. He must look like her. He looks like the woman he doesn't even remember. He calls her mom. He calls me mom. We share him, and I hope, if she knows, she doesn't mind.
They hang coats over chairs. I hang them in the closet. A small thing a woman does, without being asked, without being acknowledged, because that’s where coats go. And there is the box. Lovingly wrapped in a special t-shirt. Here she is. This is her. For months she was hidden behind a box of tools. I found her when I was looking for a drill. I didn't know what to do.
When the man is at work and the boy is at school, sometimes I sit with her. I tell her I’m sorry she lost her family. I promise her I am taking the best care possible of them. I swear her son will become a good man. I remind her she was first; I’m no replacement, I just came after. I clean her box, making sure it is not dusty or dirty. I re-wrap the special shirt around her. She no longer hides behind other boxes. She has her own place of honor. She sits on a high shelf, where she can watch, if she chooses, to make sure the man she loved and the boy she birthed are being well cared for.
I think she will rest. I will not forget her. I will not let them forget her. She deserves that. She was a wife. She was a mother. Bodies are temporary. Memories are forever. And even though I see her everywhere I look, I am not threatened. I am pleased. Look at what she has given me. Her ultimate sacrifice is my ultimate joy. It isn't possible for me to love the man, to love the boy, without loving the woman who gave them to me. Yes, she is gone. But she will never be forgotten.
by Nicole Cater
I stand here in defiance of all that is wrong with me. No matter how hard my life is, I will not let it beat me. And it is hard, so very hard. I have my appointment soon to get the steroid shots in my sacroiliac joints that will allow me to walk for three months until it is time for another round. The first round of needles contains a numbing agent, the second contains the steroids. The second needle must hit its mark exactly, a joint a quarter inch wide.
There is a screen in front of me so I can watch the whole process through x-ray. I no longer feel the needles poking deep into my flesh just as I no longer feel any shame at having my ass bared in front of six people. For my last session, I had my mother apply a big pink bow fake tattoo right at the top of my crack, just to lighten the mood. There’s no use in crying about these things. Crying gets you nowhere. Better to put on a facade of good cheer. No one likes a whiner.
But internally, I whine. I can’t help it. When every joint in my body screams bloody hell when a rainstorm is still two days off, it’s hard to laugh and put on a smiley face. When addiction to painkillers has become a scary monster for doctors, it’s hard to explain to them that busting you down from 400 milligrams to 150 milligrams isn’t protecting themselves, it’s torturing their patient.
I laugh at my own condition when someone asks how I am doing even while I fidget in the chair because no position will ever be comfortable enough. No one wants the truth. No one wants to hear that I just barely made it out of the house because I’m so fatigued from never sleeping. They don’t care that I spent twenty minutes putting on makeup so I won’t look as sick as I really feel. They can’t fathom the idea of getting three or four hours of mere dozing for three days.
But I go through it just the same. What’s the alternative? As I said, crying gets you nowhere. It’s reserved for those special occasions when sleep is an impossibility and emotions are a live wire. And I’m just as likely to laugh my fool head off as I am to cry. Because as much as the pain hurts and is relentless, it is a part of life. It doesn’t go away. It can be adapted to. Humans can adapt to anything. It is background noise. Sometimes loud, sometimes a mere murmur.
Occasionally I miss the things I can no longer do, but the truth is I’m often too tired to care. I’m too busy learning to deal with pain that is new, fresh, pain that has never been there before. My fingers ache. But those are small joints; joints that are affected by Rheumatoid Arthritis. My Ankylosing Spondylitis is supposed to stay in my large joints, that damn back pain I’ve been fighting for fifteen years. My knees and shoulders can burn; my fingers and toes are off limits. I need something to still call my own. I want desperately for something to still work. I’ve come too far to give in to this bullshit now.
So I defy you joints. You will not hurt. I will not let you. Oh, you may think you get to wreak fiery havoc on my hands and feet, but I’m telling you no. They are all I have left and I will not yield them to you. Not without a fight. I defy you to sabotage the only appendages that allow me to express myself freely, openly, without having to laugh through the pain. I’m not old enough for that yet. I have too many years ahead of me. Think what you will on rainy days, but you are wrong. I stand here defiant against you. And damn-it, I will win!
by Jamie Walker
I want you to take off your clothes, slowly. Watch your skin appear before you and notice the color, the uniqueness of a birth mark, the tones around your collar bones and the freckles across your chest. Look at them without judgment, just look. Close your eyes and feel the small of your back and the soft skin there.
Unbutton your jeans and observe the way the material slides off your hips. Watch your stretch marks appear. What color are they? Creamy pink? Bronze brown? Are they deep and long from the love you've devoted to babies? Are they natural and appeared as you grew into the woman you are?
Let your intricacies tell your story. Slide your gaze to your thighs. Spread your thighs and feel the strength of your legs. Flex the muscles in your calves. Those legs that part and envelope the soul. Feel your arms, the power and the love those arms can give.
Every inch of you was made to be soft, comforting, inviting and passionate. You are a powerful woman with the strength to change nations and history, look upon your beautiful body and know with certainty that you are truly exquisite.
By Lea Anne Stoughton
Last night, a Frenchman in a fedora gave me a cup of coffee meant for someone else. The embrace was meant for me. He whispered in my ear. I felt his longing shivering through his body. I showed him the inside of my car. It was an intimate and suggestive act. I drove away, coffee in hand, towards the dawn.
And one day
It will all be too much for her.
Like the weight of her world on her shoulders
will collapse her knees, crush her spine and her spirit.
Though no one would see the fall.
She will smile through it all
I may go the rest of my life
Without ever laying hands on you,
Without ever laying claim to you,
Without pushing your hair back from your eyes,
Without bringing you coffee in the morning,
Or singing to you at night.
I may live the remainder of my days
Without touching your hand,
Without smelling your skin,
Without losing myself in your eyes.
But this I can promise,
I will never stop loving you,
As long as my heart continues to beat - it is yours.
I can promise you this.
I am the owner of the little blue shoe seemingly cast into the parking lot of the dollar store. What I mean is that I own the shoe, but in no way am I the wearer of that small infant shoe with the baby elephant smiling on the side. The infant shoe belonged to my son. That pair of shoes was a gift at my baby shower, from my mother in-law, but she isn't anymore. Since you found the shoe, I suppose you'll want to know how it got into your hands.
My presence at the dollar store with my infant was out of necessity rather than a natural ability to be frugal. At this dollar store, I could buy anything from socks to baby bibs for a dollar a piece. At this point I have to.
It was with a heavy heart that I drove my fathers car to the dollar store, because I can't afford my own anymore. I packed up my sweet baby wearing the hand me down onesie in his car seat, also a gift at my baby shower, bracing myself for the cold in the frigid February snowstorm. Just me and baby. I shopped the aisles for necessities: toothpaste, toilet paper, baby shampoo, laundry soap, tampons, dish soap, thought seriously how nice ziplock baggies would be, but skip those for imitation vanilla wafers to aid with his teething gums. I saw my baby boy begin to wake up from the slumber he had been in throughout the car ride and the first part of the trip. I quickly made my way to the checkout knowing the combination of gum pain, orajel is too expensive and his late nap will ensure a mid-store fit/stares/judgey old people etc.
Up on the conveyor belt went all the items from the basket. Adding them up in my head, trying to calculate 7.25% tax, anxiety welling inside me because I was almost certain I had $14.36 in my bank, but the total if I calculated the tax correctly was $15.01. The whimpering in the cart was getting louder as the cashier announced my total, as I predicted. I didn't have enough. I tried to think about what I needed the least. Can one put dish detergent in the clothes washer? Is there a dual purpose for toilet paper and tampons? The combination of the line growing behind me, my son wailing loudly, a lack of adequate sleep and my indecision about what single item to return created a surge of anxiety, eating me from the inside out. I mumbled something to the cashier about not having enough, grabbed the car seat and raced for the door in tears. I was so ashamed.
We made it to the car through the deep snow and I strapped him in, tears blurring my vision. I cried the entire way home right along with my wailing son. Just me and baby. It isn't until we were home that I noticed his missing elephant shoe. He must have kicked it off. I never saw a thing. I cried a tear for the little lost shoe just as lonely as me.
I hope you picked up the shoe that cold, snowy day and thought about me, my son and his little foot missing his shoe. We weren't always so lost, so in despair as that day. Hopefully you saw that shoe and turned it in, good hearted mother like me that I know you are. I'm just sorry that I never returned out of shame for that little blue shoe seemingly cast into the parking lot of the dollar store.
by...Lea Anne Stoughton
Image by Fritz Lang
Spies (Spione, 1928)
The bulb over the kitchen sink cast its anemic light over the room. She sat at the table, facing the garage door. Her hands shook as she lit a cigarette and inhaled deeply. Smoking was asking for trouble, she knew, but it didn’t matter, not anymore.
The ticking clock echoed in the stillness. He had been gone how long, three hours? She hadn’t thought to check the clock when he left; her attention had been on his hands. But the bar closed half an hour ago, so it would be soon.
She shifted on the wooden seat, trying to find a position that favored her swollen soreness from the night before. She felt dull surprise at the way her body never got used to it, even after five years. She should have bought some cushions for these damn chairs…
A shrill giggle erupted from her, and she tapped off the ash into an empty wineglass. Wine, another no-no. But not anymore.
She fingered the bracelets stacked on her arm. All gifts from him, a few birthday but mostly apologies. She preferred the cuffs to the bangles. They hid the bruises better.
The cigarette was gone, so she dropped the butt in the glass. She lit another. Her hands didn’t shake this time.
His hands never shook. They were strong and hard and so very, very fast.
Headlights! An electric thrill of adrenaline shot through her belly and was gone. Through the door came a slurred litany of fucking bitches and stupid cunts and goddamn whores. She thought she could almost smell the whiskey as he fumbled with the lock.
She took a final drag on the cigarette and picked up the pistol. She steadied her aim and waited.
He finally stumbled through the door and saw her. “Wha th fuck?” His keys hit the floor, leaving his hands empty, hands that were strong, hands that were even now gathering themselves together, getting ready to move so very, very fast.
Mansplaining: to delight in condescending, inaccurate explanations delivered with rock solid confidence of rightness and that slimy certainty that of course he is right, because he is the man in this conversation ~ Urban Dictionary
First an exception- I do not, generally, count as Mansplaining when it comes to mathematics because I don’t discount any person as wrong (regardless of gender) when they explain math to me. I am one of those people who cannot comprehend these concepts. Math is a foreign language to me, akin to Sanskrit. I will never understand it. Yes, I still count on my fingers. On Facebook, I recently outed myself as a cheater on third grade timetables. Ten times out of nine, I am wrong when it comes to math. My limited capabilities are widely known, famous even. I am legendary in my inability to grasp mathematical concepts. And as Talking Barbie so unfortunately, yet honestly in my case uttered: math is hard. I don’t get it.
But I believe that most women have been victims of Mansplaining. The incident that stands forefront in my mind is a debate when I was twenty-two. My cousin’s very cool Monte Carlo had a unique feature beloved by me; when the car sped up or slowed down, the sound system reacted accordingly, increasing (or decreasing) the volume of the stereo.
Despite this being a factual feature of many cars, and a feature I experienced firsthand, a male co-worker insisted I was a nutter and no such feature existed. I was filled with rage. Perhaps it doesn’t exist in autos you’ve ridden in, but I do doubt that you’ve ridden in every auto possible, so how dare you discount my knowledge.
But I do believe this was the first, and one of the very few times I was a victim of Mansplaining. I am immune to Mansplaining. First of all, I’m pretty smart. Out of all the IQ tests I’ve taken, I average a 144. Now, internet IQ tests are nowhere near official. But after ten tests, I think it gives a good general idea. I want to make this clear; I have never taken an official IQ test. I doubt I would come close to qualifying for MENSA, but I am smart. I am well read on diverse topics. I am one of few people who check references, and I take learning as a life’s passion, not something to be done for a purpose and then forgotten.
The funny thing is I have a man to thank for my immunity. My dad Jim is a know-it-all. This does not always win him points, but he almost always wins in a battle of wits. My dad taught me to learn as much as possible about whatever strikes my fancy. Any curiosity deserves research, and some subjects deserve research merely because they are there, like Mount Everest. Learning is a responsibility of the human condition. A day without learning is a day wasted.
Another valuable lesson from dear old dad is that when you’re right, you’re right. It doesn’t matter who spouts off. If that person is wrong, it automatically becomes your obligation to show that person the error of their ways. There is nothing wrong with busting out a laundry list of references to show fools their true colors.
And it’s here that we come to Mansplaining. It is my personal belief that Mansplaining comes from the fragile male ego. A man must be right! Why? For centuries, women have been taught that the male ego is so fragile; they must kowtow to it, even when the man is a complete and utter idiot. Au contraire dit mon pere. Screw that bullshit. Any man who can’t take the truth is not worthy of your time. Merely walk away from the ignorant fool. You owe a man’s ego absolutely NOTHING.
The protection of males and their delicate sensibilities is an insidious practice that I believe is handed down unconsciously from mother to daughter. To her credit, my mother never ascribed to this line of thinking either. Perhaps that’s why my father saw the true worth of his daughter’s strength, intelligence and independence. It’s why he fostered the sense that no man is superior to me simply because he has an outie and I have an inny. Once again, I don’t claim to be superior to all men. But if I am, I’m sure as hell not going to act like I’m not. If a man tries to tell me what’s up, I’m more than happy to let him talk out his ass before shoving him in the hole he just dug himself.
Women are fighting back against Mansplaining, and all I can say is about damn time. It’s time we stop coddling them. Our brains are just as big as theirs. A human’s capability for learning and retaining information is vast. A human’s, not just a man’s. It’s the original inconvenient truth that no man wants to believe, but tough! You’re not talking down to me. In fact, it’s impossible to talk down to me when you’re talking out your ass and my head is three feet above that.
So women unite! Shut down the Mansplaining. Don’t nod and smile, then walk away and laugh. Go ahead and laugh right in their face. Men don’t care about the female ego, why should we care about theirs? Take the lesson I absorbed from my father. I’m right; you’re not, thanks for playing. Collect your parting gift at the door.
by...Lea Anne Stoughton
The child lays under the table that was made big for the day. Knees all around. Teddy has a bow on his head, silly thing. Dress for Special was itchy, and Mommy let her change into the fuzzy feety jammies. Sleepy and warm and still tasting the pie. The grown-up talk washes around her.
“…spread to the liver…”
“…foreclosure, but the bank…”
“…fight that bitch for custody…”
“…her own brother in law…”
“…only two ounces but the judge…”
“…fell down the stairs, my ass…”
“…I told that fairy he better not…”
The child breathes in the smell of cigarettes and coffee, and loves her family.
By LeaAnne Stoughton
Fuck you, words
You've failed me again
Useless against pain
Worthless against sorrow
I thought we were friends
We've had so much fun together
Wasted countless happy hours
But when I need you most, you disappear
Are you jealous?
Are you punishing me for wanting to share you with another?
I love you
But I hate you
But I love you
By LeaAnne Stoughton
Who do you envy?
The one who must leave?
Turn away from what should never be left,
Consciously facing the road,
Responsible for the weight of miles?
Who do you envy?
The one who must stay?
Crushed by the void that cannot be filled
With busyness or sleep,
You cried as you pulled away.
I cried as I stood in the doorway.
I can’t feel anymore. Everything is numb. It never used to be this way, did it? I don’t remember how I got here. The darkness closes in over me, crowding me, pulling me deeper. I want to reach upward, but my arms will not obey the command. There is a strange calm in my mind. It’s cold here, so cold. I can feel the ripple of my mind beneath the surface of the cold that is currently enveloping me. Slowly, the haze lifts from my eyes. I cannot see clearly, though I know I am in water. Weightless and floating. Wetness against my eyes. A tank. A large tank.
Where am I?
How did I get here?
I have no memory of where I was or how I came to be here. I feel a strange sense of relief through the fog. Like I no longer have a purpose and that suits me.
There, just there, I see a coat. It’s white. I cannot recall what kind of coat it is or put a name to it. Something about it feels standard, issued perhaps. I can feel my arms bound down to my sides. A pulling at my ankles that are bound together. Strange. The feeling is returning to my legs. I see him now. Clearly and beautifully, yet I cannot remember his name or how I know him. It’s just there, just a little farther below in my mind, but it is gone as I try to reach out and grasp the thought. His eyes look sad and I wish to never see them sad again. He gazes upon me calculative and analyzing. My eyes have adjusted enough around me to see him more clearly. Through the glass I watch him standing, tall and commanding. It’s his eyes, but who they belong to I cannot recall. Machines all around me being viewed by people standing in the room. There is a man in a dark suit near the door, he seems to be in charge. The water against my skin is heavy, though it feels much lighter than water. Have I been in water before? He steps away from me and I feel a deep sadness, a tugging from my heart I cannot explain. I don’t know him, but my arms are pulling away from my body against the binds, trying to reach towards him. My mind screams at me to do something, but what I don’t know.
A younger woman than him approaches me and seems to be asking me questions, but I can’t understand her. Everything is muted to my ears. Her lips begin to move again and I try to focus on the shapes they form. Regardless of my concentration, her message is still lost to me. She turns to leave and I wish her to return. Her face is kind and comforting. I am so tired. I drift to sleep.
I awake to darkness. Startling darkness. I search for him, but he isn’t here. I push my arms again and find them bound still. I try to pull my knees to my chest. Every move is so heavy, my efforts so exaggerated. My muscles are weak. I examine what I can see of myself. Legs, there are two. Arms, there are two. A glare of light against the glass of the tank gives a reflection of myself. A distance of five feet or so afford me a full view of myself. I examine my face. It’s pale, yet delicate. My hair is blonde and long, clouding in large curls around my head.
The initial shock of my reflection is not my face, nor my hair or the pair of arms or legs that stun my foggy mind. It is the wings behind me that send my mind reeling. The massive span of wings, huge white wings with feathers of silk, glowing almost a silver they are so white. I stretch my wings now, slowly in the water. The memories flood my conscious all at once. Coming so fast they are painful. I fell, I fell so far for so long. The last thing I remember was his face before I fell. Now I remember.
I am Lilith.
I am an angel.
And I fell from grace.
There is a place in me where my secrets hide
In the shadows between my heart and soul
In my touch, my voice, and in my pride
The secrets held are never told
You’re so close, but also too far
Like there are worlds between us
The distance is so cold
Within arm’s reach I can touch
Maybe our futures are already sold
I remember your eyes and your soft embrace
The memories flood my mind
Mind twirling as I pace
Do you know, can you see
What this secret is doing to me
Inside of me is a burning heat
Waiting for my secret world to rise
Making my heart leap and beat
She understood what the feeling was like all too well.
She had felt it a thousand times before yet had hoped to spare this little one of the same feeling.
The fear. The uncertainty. The moment when you covered your eyes in hopes of making it all disappear.
The bellowing sounds of anger followed by the deafening silence.
Waiting. Waiting for you to utter a breath because right now a breath was defiance.
She stopped. The moment passed. She found herself again. She found the part of herself that had patience and understanding. She apologized profusely to the innocent eyes that stared back at her. Confused eyes that longed to understand and only wanted to please.
She only wanted to feel safe and loved when she was a little one
I slip off my clothes
Slowly close my eyes
Warmth between my toes
My breath escapes in sighs
Slowly I lay back
Relaxation fills my soul
My achy joints crack
Your touch hot as coal
A caress with a glove
Full goblet and a foot rub
Where we women find love
Red wine in the bath tub
Once upon a time,
There was a little girl.
What she needed was to be protected...
but night after night
he snuck into her room,
Although she told...
everyone was in denial.
He lived his life as a monster
with no remorse or trial.
Now the little girls stands; fully grown.
"Dear Lord" she asks...
"Why couldn't he have left me alone?"
By Lea Anne Stoughton
I’ve done my share of body modification. Mostly the usual: piercings, tattoos, laser hair removal. By far, the best return on investment is the golden pussy.
It was amazing before, don’t get me wrong. But soft, warm, and pink has nothing on 14k gold. It’s not for everyone, granted. Even with the Groupon, it was kinda expensive, especially since I splurged on the upgrade from the silver (who has time to deal with tarnishing?). Plus there’s the hassle of finding a gynemetallurgicologist that’s covered by my insurance.
So, is it worth it? I’ll say this: my man is happy, which makes me happy. That’s all that matters.
by Jamie Walker
It's unbearable pain that I carry for another human. The kind you wouldn't understand at first. The kind of pain that is felt physically yet caused by an emotion. It grips you like a snake squeezing, slowing the pulse of your blood to a slow bomp.... bomp.... bomp. Vision blurs and the mind reels. It's a hand against my mouth and a cry behind my lips. My heart ripping to pieces in my chest. I cry alone in my room because its too hard to put into words.
They found the boy, but they only found the body. Not the sweet, smiling brunette boy from the pictures. Not the laughing baby whose daddy loved him. Not the innocent child who went with his momma in a car he didn't know. The same little love who closed his eyes not understanding as his momma hit him hard. A little life done and gone. No second chances. Left in a field, abandoned and alone.
I would have taken him. Kept him for you. He could have grown up and had a chance to live. My son would have loved a little brother to grow up with. You could have done anything else. If you hated him so much why keep him? Your family saw the abuse yet chose to remain silent through the suffering of that precious baby. The marks on his back and arms, the dried blood at his temple. Yet no one said a word. The shame of giving him away would have been nothing like shame you are faced with now, the shame of ending his life. The whole world knows what you've done. As his mother, you were his God. His everything, his life force, protector and nurturer.
Now, you are his murderer and I will never forgive you the pain you caused him and the pain you caused me. Were it not for you, I wouldn't cling so tightly to my son. Anxiety would not sleep with me in my bed. Anger would not live in my heart. I would not live each day with the fear that the tomorrow I hold so dear may never arrive for my beautiful baby boy.
They found the missing boy, but all they found was the body and it's all your fault.
*Colton's murder has not been solved, nor has his mother been proven guilty in a court of law. Circumstances and preliminary reports insinuate her guilt in the case. There are some things I know to be true in my heart, however painful. This is one of those times where I wish I could open my home to these babies, give them refuge and hope. I didn't know this baby needed help, needed someone, anyone, or I would have been there. We should all bear that guilt. We have failed him as a race as we have failed so many countless others.
This is our showcase page, containing various submissions from various Authors. Please look for snippets about the Authors following their pieces.