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It’s been quite a while since I posted here. A lot has changed. You may remember nearly a year ago when I posted a gift I made for my friends, family, and readers. It was a very small collection of short stories called This Was Supposed to be Simple. That was what I gave to the world at the end of 2009 – and now that it’s nearly the end of 2010 I present something new. Last Monday, on my 21st birthday, I release my first book. It too is a collection of short stories. It too is called This Was Supposed to be Simple. It was published by a small Charlotte-based publishing company called Lost & Found Fiction – a company I happen to own. Yes, my life has changed. It’s been a rough year, but I’ve come out of it as a better person. For more information, as well as to buy the book, check out my new home – http://www.BuchananMoncure.net
You were always folding paper cranes with motivational messages hidden inside, as if it were your job to brighten the days of strangers. I knew something was wrong when you folded “everything will not be o.k.” inside of a small green bird and tossed it into the interstate from the window of my station wagon. I knew you were right, everything was not going to be okay. Not anymore.
The passion of your kisses had faded some weeks earlier. As we laid next to each other at night we could not have been further apart, both mentally and physically. Eventually you’d be laying so close to the wall that I wouldn’t be able to inch any closer – and I’ve always been afraid of sleeping next to the wall so I’d give up and return to my side of the bed, defeated. As you laid against the cold white wall I knew you were dying. The disease that had stormed through your body was the worst case of cynicism I had ever witnessed.
You weren’t dying, you were already dead.
For months your project had consumed your every waking thought – the months before had been consumed by me. But now even the passion for this great work of art had faded, and you simply sat, blank, staring at your canvas day after day.
There was no discussion, just the gradual packing of boxes. Once you were finally gone my apartment and my self were bare shells of what I once had, and I found myself sleeping on your side of the bed. Occasionally I would wake myself up by the feeling of my body falling into the crack between the bed and wall – my deepest fear – but now you weren’t there to catch me.
For the next few months I would occasionally I would see paper cranes around the city. I knew that they were messages from your lost soul. Cries for help. I did my best to ignore them.
For 673 days watched the sun rise together before going to sleep. With you gone I quit my 3rd shift job and started to forget what the sunrise looked like. Each day on my walk home from my new job on Central Ave I’d grab a copy of the local arts magazine, TITLE, to scan through the pages for your name. News of an opening, an exhibit, a death – anything.
For 932 days my search was fruitless, as if you had disappeared from the earth.
On day 933 that changed. There you were, on the cover of TITLE, staring at me as I walked home from work. There you were with the headline “Local Legend Returns!”. Dear God, had the editor only known how true that headline was.
On the 983rd day since your departure I curled my hair and put on my best dress and most uncomfortable shoes. Tonight when you saw me from across the crowded gallery you wouldn’t see the shy boring Joanna Galin that you fell out of love with nearly 3 years ago. You wouldn’t see my flaws and imperfections. All you would see was a stunning woman who had moved on and made the best of her life, and who you wanted nothing more than to have back. This is what I kept telling myself, even though I hadn’t moved on or made anything of my life. Even though you probably wouldn’t want me back.
The line outside of the gallery was long and cold, I had to continue to remind myself not to light a cigarette in fear of you walking past and knowing that I hadn’t quit. Instead I shivered in my heels and pretended to text message my nonexistent friends.
Slowly the line moved as my curls fell and the rain smeared my makeup.
I entered in the building in awe. Paper cranes hung from varying lengths from the ceiling, so many that it was almost hard to tell what they were. To anyone but me it may have actually taken a minute to realize what was above. Small white notes hung every few feet with the simple message “Take one.”
I raised to my tiptoes, nearly falling out of my heels. Carefully I grasped a crane and tugged it from it’s string.
I unfolded the paper.
There it was, your hand writing in thick black marker. I stood in bliss for a second or two, possibly three, admiring your sloppy lettering. And then I read the message scribbled inside.
you will be loved, just not by me.
Silently I left.
Today has been quite productive. The college I attend, Johnson and Wales University, had an event for the release of their annual literary journal, The West Trade Review. I have 3 stories, a poem, and a photo being published in their upcoming issue, and I was asked to read two of those stories at the event. Here is a video of me reading those:
The stories I read were “Mom & Tom” and “Raise Your Glass”. I know that these are good stories, I’ve been told that they are constantly. But for some reason, I suddenly find myself not liking them. I think that over the past few months my writing has grown quite a bit, and to me these stories feel very young. Either way, I’m proud of them. But I’m also very proud of the two stories I read a few hours later at The Evening Muse – even though a line had not been printed on one and I thought I had lost a page:
I read two very recent stories, “God” and “Rare”. I’m in love with these stories, and I am very excited to see what my readers think about them.
Last night I went to sleep with the lights on. Not just one light, but every light from my kitchen into my bedroom. It was one of the tiny pills I had taken moments before stumbling up the staircase, I can never remember their names but I believe it was the pink one.
Like so many things in my life, it was hard to swallow.
I woke up to the smell of cigarettes and Sam. Apparently I left the door unlocked, too. The lights were still on and I couldn’t breathe.
I drank water constantly, trying to force my body to remove the oxygen molecules from the liquid and fill my lungs, I’m not sure that’s how it works but it’s what I was hoping for.
Sam stared at me from across my kitchen table, tapping her ashes into my cereal bowl from the day before and often offering me puffs.
“Come on, we’re going to tea.”
The tea was fine but the pastries and conversation were overwhelmingly dry. I constantly find myself not enjoying the company I surround myself with.The emptiness that had followed me for days now had not lifted and I found myself wanting – but what was both unsure and unimportant. Mostly, it was out. I wanted out more than ever before, probably because at this point in my life out was not an option. Not even remotely.
I went to dinner with Steven, he ordered his steak cooked medium well. I couldn’t have been more disgusted. I reminded myself to be ladylike as I cut my own rare meat into small pieces, and reminded myself to look human as I sopped the blood that covered my plate up into these small pieces. I didn’t put too much care into this, and Steven didn’t seem to notice.
Steven’s middle name is Jonathan, which I think is pretty much pointless. Middle names infuriate me, I’m sure I am the only bitch in the restaurant whose middle name isn’t Nicole or Michelle. My middle name is Kathryn, with a K. My grandmother was Mary Kathryn, and she was a powerful bitch.
I excuse myself to the parking lot for a cigarette. Steven doesn’t smoke, and I only smoke as an excuse to get away from him. Slowly a beat up car barely pulls up next to me and the window lowers.
What sits inside is one of the most gross displays of a man I’ve ever seen, and he’s giving me the most hideous glance ever.
“Girl, you retarded sexy,” he screams over the loud rap music that blares from his speakers, the bass making my chest rattle.
I deeply inhale my cigarette and then blow the smoke out in a slow, steady, even stream.
“You’re quite retarded yourself.”
This question is not a question, and for some reason it catches me off guard. I fuck. I fuck all night long, I’ve made men cry I fuck so well.
“Yes. I fuck.”
He unlocks the car door, and I’m not sure why, but I get in.
This is probably one of the stupidest things I’ve ever done, and I can see myself ending up dead in a dumpster behind K-Mart in record time. I can see the re-enactment on one of those TV shoes I hate, but they’ll probably make it seem like I was forced into the car when they reenact it. I wonder how many of those stupid bitches did exactly as I did.
“Do you have any water?”
The stranger looks at me, shakes his head, and licks his lips. I fumble through my purse and find a pink pill and throw it down my throat dry.
“Do you have a condom?”
“Don’t worry about it, I’m just trying to have a baby.”
The stranger looks surprised – “I’m not ready to be a father,” he says.
“I don’t care, I don’t even know your name. Don’t worry, I won’t be looking for child support.”
“What will you name it?”
“My mom’s name is Catherine, she’s a bitch.”
I look deeply into his eyes and nod.
I’ve been thinking about high school a lot lately. I hated it while I was there, but now Im starting to miss it. Only two things kept me alive in high school: you and The Legendary Pink Dots.
You were perfect for me then. You knew exactly what I needed to keep from losing my mind after those seven hours of torture each day.
You had no idea that you were one of the only two things in the world that I was living for, but you never disappointed me either.
The only thing I looked forward to more than kissing you at the top of the stairs on the way to 3rd period was walking with you after school.
It was the same each day, we’d meet by the tree and start walking towards the lake – taking turns listening to songs by The Legendary Pink Dots on the walkman while talking about everything and absolutely nothing at the same time.
Once we’d get to the lake the photo shoot would begin. It was never planned, but you always said you couldn’t resist taking pictures of my perfect smile. You’re the only person to ever make me smile like that.
I haven’t heard from you in years, but a while back when I saw your photos in a magazine your model, unlike me, had much more than a great smile.
I haven’t smiled like that since we parted ways.
The photos would continue until we could no longer resist, and then usually we’d lay in the grass near the water. We wouldn’t always have sex, though it was amazing when we did. But laying there in the sun with your arms around me was just as fulfilling. I would bury my nose deep into your curly hair and inhale the scent of your coconut shampoo until I could no longer remember what anything else in the world smelt like. And then I’d make fun of you for using coconut scented shampoo.
These are the things I think as I try and get to sleep tonight while my husband sleeps next to me and my children lay in the room across the hall. My husband has long grown unattractive and leaves a sour taste in my mouth. My maternal instinct is, and always has been, non existent.
I start to wonder where we went wrong, and why it’s not you laying next to me right now. Why our children aren’t across the hall.
I step out of the bed and into the closet. I rifle through a box simply labeled “Old” for several moments until I find it: my walkman, with the The Legendary Pink Dots mix tape you made me in 11th grade in the tape deck.
I return to the bed and attempt to play the tape. The batteries in the walkman are, of course, dead. I remove the batteries from the remote and replace what remains of the long corroded bullets inside of what was once my favorite toy.
I press play. Lisa’s Funeral begins to echo inside my ear canals.
I wonder where you are, and I ask myself why in the hell I ever chose to smell anything but your coconut shampoo.
I’m mentally begging you to walk over here and kiss me. I would settle for you just acknowledging I’m alive, even that would make my heart skip several beats.
I always throw my cigarettes to the ground and then pick them up for one last puff before tossing them again. I’ve decided that this is because I am simply not able to allow myself to let things go. I’m not allowing you to go, I’m telepathically forcing you to stay exactly where you are.
You start to turn your head but something, perhaps my eyes piercing your skin like needles, stops you from doing so. You remain facing forward, and I keep using my mental powers to not allow you to leave.
I toss my cigarette to the ground. I don’t stomp it out, but I also don’t pick it back up. Instead I just light another.
Your girlfriend looks over me and then stands on her tiptoes to speak something into your ear. She’s probably saying, “Don’t look now, but that crazy girl is staring at you.” I don’t break my stare, and I don’t the hold I have over you. Don’t look now, but this crazy girl is controlling your every thought, movement, and response. Whether you want to admit it or not. Don’t look now, but this girl is in love with you. Don’t look now, but she’s going to make you love her back.
It’s after midnight but I’ve met you at the park, our park, for another one of our secret rendezvouses.
This makes the fourth time we’ve done this in the two weeks since we’ve met. You’ve made it clear that you’ll fuck me all night long but you’ll never be able to kiss me. You cannot kiss me, because that would be cheating.
You can kiss my neck, but that’s not cheating.
You can remove my shirt, but that’s not cheating.
You can whisper in my ear that I’m the most beautiful thing you’ve ever met, but that most certainly is not cheating.
You just can’t kiss me.
I push my hair over my shoulder and lower myself to sip from the fountain. I press the button and slowly the water bubbles up and then eventually becomes a constant stream. I close my eyes. I always close my eyes when I drink, I consider it rude to do otherwise.
The ice cold water hits my lips and I open them slightly. I drink until my thirst should be quenched, and it’s not, so I keep drinking.
Suddenly I feel not the ice cold water against my lips but the warmth of his own. My thirst is quenched, and I open my mouth slightly once again.
And nothing will ever be the same again.