M.K.Harlan

Storyteller

Rainstorms are reassuring. Especially on Monday.

While I still work in the garden center it’s even better because I know that there won’t be too many people looking for plants. If there are any I’ll be shocked. they probably won’t be looking for power equipment either. That means I will have some down time, quiet time, to gather my thoughts and make the department look less like a war zone and more like a store.

But, this week it just doesn’t feel the same. Some things are happening at work that I won’t go into detail about but I’m less and less enthusiastic with this day job as events continue to unfold.

Its getting harder and harder to talk myself into going in and keeping it up. I’ve thought about just filling up the gas tank and driving until I run out of gas, money, or both, but I’m more of a planner than that.

It’s time I get this career thing moving. I’ve started applying to jobs more in my line of expertise. I’m also trying to develop more skills that I can use to become what I want to be.

Yesterday I sat down for a while – while I should have been working on my resume if my aunt had anything to say about it – and I wrote. Not a blog post, no complaining. I worked on my current passion project. The Disappearance of Clara Summers. I have no idea where this story is going. I have done no plotting whatsoever and as a result it’s kind of rambling.

Kind of like my life.

But, as I work on Clara Summers’ story I get to know these characters, their likes and dislikes, who they are as people, their backstories, their wants and desires, all of it.

I wish it was this easy to understand real people, and the real events that are happening in my life right now.

If wishes were horses, beggars would ride.

I’m trying to think of stories I can tell you here on this blog, but I got nothing right now. I’m so wrapped up in the crappy things that are happening that even though this isn’t what I intended to sit down and write about, it’s all I’ve got…

It’s all that’s in my head. Heck, even my aunt and grandfather have been having trouble sleeping thinking about what’s going on with me at work.

I know I can work it out… but I don’t necessarily see how.

The advertisements flashed in front of my eyes with the latest upgrade, promising faster connections and a smoother interface than before. It was supposed to fix all the bugs, but that’s what they always said. Every upgrade fixed the bugs in the last one and brought with it a few more of its own.

The people around me were absorbed with it, those that didn’t have it were waiting in line to buy it. I looked for the few bits I had left from the last upgrade I bought. I didn’t have enough, not if I wanted to feed the baby. I don’t know when I will be able to afford the upgrade or any upgrade.

I will have to be content with the older model.

At work, I am the only one who does not have the upgrade. Already, everyone is using the new features to better interface with the computers here. They work quickly, not even moving. They don’t have to anymore.

The wireless signals between computer and upgrade are so seamless now that I don’t even see the telltale eye flicks that accompanied last month’s model.

I’m falling behind in my work already. I haven’t been here more than a few minutes and I am not so productive as the others. I try to concentrate on my work, pressing the necessary buttons when they light up on the panel and looking for the connections that need to be made to maintain the integrity of the systems. The computer terminal is plugged into the port I still have in my side. My terminal is the only one with a wired interface.

I’m too basic for the other terminals. I look for the things that used to give me pleasure within my systems, but I can no longer keep up with my work like I used to. My heart races and I shut off all but my work programming. The others have the pleasure interfaces up while they work, but I can’t afford that luxury. My unit does not multitask as well as theirs.

I am the only one that does not look fully human, the only one with my unit showing. I feel ashamed, but I can’t afford the upgrade if I want to feed the baby.

They come for me before lunch. Rather, they send a message for me and I do not notice it until then. I don’t know how long it’s been there. There is too much for me to process already. I unplug from my interface. It’s not that I would take a lunch, the only way to keep up anymore is to never take a break.

As I enter the offices I am greeted by the receptionist. “They’ve been waiting all morning. Have a seat.”

I sit quietly outside the doors, feeling like a child. I can’t work while I’m here, not without an interface to plug into. If I had a newer unit I could continue with my work while I sit here. I would be useful, productive.

The door opens and the receptionist waves me in, her interface connects her to everything in the building. As I step into the offices, she closes the door behind me without any of the tell-tale signs that come with older building interface units.

The overseers sit at a larger terminal than we have out on the floor. Their interfaces run seamlessly in the background as they focus most of their attention on me.

“It has come to our attention that you are no longer able to keep up with your workload. Is there something wrong with your terminal?”

“No, ma’am.” I answer, the images coming into view from my unit are of the latest upgrade. The ads are almost non-stop. They have been getting in the way of my work all morning. “It’s the ads. I can’t get them out of my way.”

The overseers’ gazes fix on me. “Do you have a problem with them? They are designed to help you make informed decisions. Without the ads you would not know when it was time to upgrade.” The woman’s head cocks to the side like a dog. “When was your last upgrade?”

I can not bring myself to meet her harrowing gaze. I have not had an upgrade for almost eight months now. Not since the baby was born. I am not ashamed of my older unit, I tell myself. I have to feed the baby, I can not afford to get the newest upgrade.

Her brow furrows and I can almost see her processing this information independently of her unit. She frowns even more and I know already that I have missed something. A message she sent. “How many months behind is your unit?”

I have all but shut off my unit to focus on what she tells me. The silence in front of my eyes, the sounds that I do not hear when it is like this, the colors and the quietness of turning fans distract me almost more than the ads ever can. “Eight months,” I answer, not meeting her eyes and a fly buzzes in the corner above a potted plant, long dead and dry. No one has remembered that it exists.

The overseer’s eyes narrow as she contemplates this answer, and then her gaze turns blank. “Eight months. You had a baby eight months ago.”

The dull sound of the advertisements is pushed very far back now. I can’t take it, it is worse than the silence I hear now. I turn off my unit. I can feel my heart begin to race and my breathing turn shallow, it is as though I cannot find air. My head hurts and the lights in the room are suddenly too bright. I can feel myself shrinking into something less than a person. I turn the unit back on and immediately I begin to feel the pains subside, even if the distraction of the advertisements is still there.

I nod to the overseer. “We had a baby eight months ago.”

Her lips purse. “Has the child been upgraded?”

I shake my head. “We can’t afford an upgrade, not even for the baby.”

“And you, yourself have not been upgraded. Where does your money go?

“Babies must eat. I have to feed the baby.”

“You must be upgraded.”

“You don’t pay me enough to upgrade.”

I watch as she seems to contemplate something. “You do not do enough work for us to pay you more. If you were to upgrade your unit we might be able to consider a raise in pay. Until such a time, however, we suggest you install your child with an upgrade at the least. Any older and the upgrade may be rejected. Chances of survival decrease and the population can not afford to lose anymore, there are too few viable adults.”

I shake my head again. “I can not upgrade the baby. I can’t afford it.”

The male overseer, silent until now, speaks, he does not move or look at me, there is no emotion in his voice. “You are incapable of caring for the child properly. I will contact government services. They will take the child and give it the proper upgrades. It will be well cared for. Then you may use your earnings to buy a proper upgrade. Once you have upgraded sufficiently you will be given a raise. Perhaps then, when you can afford it, you may try for another child.”

I can feel my knees begin to weaken. The advertisements come to the front again. “Please, don’t.”

The female overseer speaks again. “It for your own good. If you can not afford the upgrade for yourself or the child, how can you expect to function properly in society? How can you expect the child to grow properly?” She smiled like she was doing me a favor.

“Please, I’ll upgrade, don’t take the baby.”

“You said you cannot afford the upgrade.”

“I’ll take out a credit, whatever I have to do. Just don’t take the baby.”

The male overseer’s eyebrows rise. “What of the child? Will it be upgraded soon?”

I nodded quickly. “Please, don’t take him.”

The overseers do not blink, they do not look at each other and they only seem to look through me as they converse with one another via their units.

“One month,” the woman says. “At the end of the month you and the child will have been upgraded. If not, you will be terminated and the child will be reported to the government. We don’t want to lose you, but there are others with better upgrades.”

I nod and when they speak no more I exit the offices, grateful. The advertisements increase for the upgrades. By now, the work day is over. I have lost several hours pay for this little chat.

As I make my way home and pass the lines of people waiting for their upgrade I can hardly concentrate for the advertisements. I stop only to buy formula for the baby. I have to feed the baby. I cannot afford the upgrade today.

It is something that I have not told anyone, but I do not want to upgrade the baby. I like him the way he is. Even if he cries and screams and defecates in his diaper. I do not want him to grow up dependent on a unit as I have. I want him to grow old and think for himself while he does it. I want him to learn on his own, rather than have the information fed to him. it was that way when I was younger.

When I get home my wife is in the living room,  she upgraded last week, her job required it more than mine at the time. She is absorbed. The baby is crying on the floor. I pick him up, trying to shove the advertisements to the back of my thoughts. He needs changed.

It isn’t an easy job, but I change him and I feed him. The advertisements for not only my own upgrade, but one for him flood my vision.

As I watch him I cannot bear the thought of subjecting him to this. It was so new and intriguing when they first came out. I had never thought it would lead to this. Not in my wildest dreams. I can not do it. I can not let them take him.

I pack a bag for myself and for him. My wife is to engrossed in her upgrade. She will likely spend all of her credits again on things the unit tells her she needs, even if she does not need them.

I take the baby and as we exit the house I can not take the advertisements anymore as I stumble, almost dropping him. I breathe deeply and turn off the connection. It is only a matter of time now before they notice and come looking for us. I have to get out. I have to run. Or they will take us both.

The lights come on and my body feels weak as they stand over me. I do not know how long I have been here, strapped to the cold metal table. I think about the baby, the baby I never had.

“It didn’t work.” It is the voice of the male overseer.

“I don’t understand why. He should have been rushing to buy the new unit.” The female overseer comes into focus now as she shines a light in my eyes and checks my pulse. I am too tired, too weak to fight her. “There must be something wrong with the advertisement algorithms.”

“Perhaps, not everyone can be persuaded.” The man stands over me, looking down with curiosity. “The company will be disappointed, but it is a problem that can be dealt with. Eventually there will be no resistance to the units.”

The woman looks at him in almost the same way that he looks at me. “Should I terminate this one?”

The man looks away, his eyes shifting and I can tell that he is consulting his unit. “No, continue your experiments. Independence is such a tragedy. No one should have to suffer without the guidance of the company.”

He licked his lips and walked the chip across his knuckles. Three years. In three years, he hadn’t been to church. He hadn’t had communion. He hadn’t seen his wife, he hadn’t spoken a word to his children. He hadn’t been allowed.

Beside him, his wife knelt in solemn prayer. He knew that for the first time in a long time it wasn’t him she prayed for, or if she did it wasn’t in the same way as before. She didn’t feel she had to. He was better now, recovered, cured. She’d picked him up that morning, the children in the back seat and they’d all come to mass together.

He continued to walk the chip across his knuckles and stared silently at the only thing that bothered him in this church. The Christ stared down at him, his lifeless wooden eyes seemed to cut to his very soul. The crown of thorns on his brow dripped crimson painted rivulets of blood into the corner of one eye.

The blood. That was the part he’d never liked, too real.

The coin danced across his fingers, so quick that he almost lost control of it. People began to form a line to receive the elements He watched as they received their blessing and bread. The body of Christ. He’d never understood the idea of symbolic cannibalism. But he knew he needed it.

His wife rose and stepped to the back of the line. She saw that he didn’t follow and pursed her lips as she glanced back at him. He knew he needed it, but for her it was the final test, to know he was serious about this. That he was a changed man. To her, this would mean he was better, that there was no chance of his turning back.

“God, please. Don’t make me do this.” He whispered the prayer so quietly he almost didn’t hear it himself. He clasped the chip within his closed fist and stood, hands shaking just a little. His wife saw this as the final test of his new commitment to life, but for him it was different.

He needed this, he didn’t doubt it. Communion was important, but for the first time in his life he wished that he didn’t need it. Any of it. There was a part of him that needed it for reasons other than the one that was intended by Christ so long ago.

He took his place beside his wife and she seemed to hold her head a little higher as she looked forward, arms crossed and hands on her shoulders to receive the body. The priest placed the bread gently into her mouth and she swallowed it almost without chewing. He took the bread in his hands, preferring to do it himself. He nodded to the priest and proceeded on with his wife. The chip in his other hand seemed to grow warm as he walked beside her. She took the cup from the alter boy and sipped the blood of Christ, or the wine that represented it.

He could deny it, he could walk by the cup, wave it off and continue back to his seat with his wife. But wasn’t this the most important part? More important than even the body which he had already taken? The alter boy wiped the lip of the cup where her lips had touched and she looked at him expectantly. Was he supposed to take it or was he supposed to walk by? He swallowed hard and rubbed the chip against his palm.

He took the cup.

It was far from the same yet, as the wine touched his lips, memories flooded in. Memories of a lover’s kiss.

A lingering sting on his skin, and a hazy fog. A burning sensation down his throat and warming his belly, but no matter how many kisses he received there was still an emptiness in him. The liquid kiss of the bottle could not, would not fill him.

The glass on the table stood empty. It had been for a while now. He did not want to fill it. He’d made a promise to never fill that glass again. But the glass taunted him. Why should he have kept it if he never meant to fill it again? Perhaps it was not the glass that taunted him.

Maybe it was the bottle he pressed to his lips. Or the now almost imperceptible burning sensation in his throat. It talked from inside him as it went down; crying for another swallow. He did not understand why he continually pressed the bottle’s mouth to his as though it were a lover and he a dying man. Perhaps he was a dying man.

He turned away from the glass. There was a paper on the pillow next to his, faded and folded a thousand times over. He knew its content by heart. A letter asking him to choose between one lover and another. He had chosen long ago after a fashion. He had never stopped seeing the lover that was with him now. He did not use the glass… that bed of whose he could not reenter… But he had found other ways… other methods of rendezvous with her. Her mouth pressed to his again, begging him to forget the letter and the one who wrote it. But he could not forget the letter which lay upon his bed. The language was so beautifully crafted it was meant to be dark and angry. And was made unintentionally beautiful with the stroke of pen and cadence of words. Language come alive in texture and voice… demanding that a choice be made.

Again, his lover’s lips met his and his stomach slowly burned.

He unfolded the paper, caressing it as though it were the one who had written it rather than a mere ghost of what she had been. As if to admonish him for such a thought his lover’s lips pressed to his again. He could not read the words through his haze… through his lover’s fingers laced over his eyes.

All that mattered were the words “this affair must end” But how could he end it? How could he tell the lover that he did not want her any more when yet again her lips pressed to his? He felt the dull burn in his stomach and her weight on his chest as she whispered love and tenderness in his ear, begging for one more kiss. One more chance to make his stomach burn and flutter in his throat.

He stood to leave the bed, he needed to walk, to think, to clear his head. But he stumbled, as she pulled him back. Kissed him again, passionate and fierce.

He shook his head. The alter boy stared at him. He had taken too long, though he barely swallowed any of the wine. His wife frowned as he handed back the cup and followed his wife. The letter had been hers. He’d answered it by clinging to his lover for three years. For three years he had clung to the lover. Now he held this chip in his hand, clung to it as he had once the lover.

The benediction was given, but he did not hear it. He did not see as the recession was made. As they walked out the door he paused, they were the last to leave, but he didn’t linger long. He walked the chip across his knuckles one last time and dropped it in the offering box. He looked back to his wife, but she was already on her way out. Her retreating form did not look back at him, but he knew she was crying. He knew that the lover had come between them again.

He turned back to the cross hanging above their heads. The red rivulets of blood stood out more than ever. “I want you, not her,” he prayed.

But all he saw was the lover, beckoning him closer.

I eat dinner with the man across the aisle, though he doesn’t know it. We each take bite after bite, never speaking. I made a mistake with him, years ago. He does not recognize me now, but I recognize him. He needed to make a choice. He refused and now I must clean up his mess. My mess. Tonight, I must fix it and tonight I must provide that choice again to another who will take it.

I chose wrong with the man across the aisle.

It is not my place to make choices. This is something I have had to learn.

It is rare that I witness the birth of any man. Life is not my business. It is not my place. But this man was born like any other.

I remember the woman’s eyes as she pushed, struggled to birth the man across the aisle. Her fourth child. She was ill, sickly all her life. When she’d discovered she was pregnant she had been so proud. By the time I met her, though, she was afraid. Her three children, no fathers, waiting outside the room. A boy of fourteen years, another only ten, and the littlest girl at three. They could hear their mother’s screams and they huddled together when I walked into the room.

“Are you a doctor?” the little girl asked me, with eyes wide. “Are you going to help my mama?”

I stopped, unaware they coul

 

d see me. This was my first day on the job. This was the first choice I was to provide, to guard.

“Yes,” I had answered, gazing into her tear stained eyes. And I had believed it. But in the birthing room there had been a different plan. She needed to die, the mother of those children. The mother of that little girl. I looked her in the eye as she gave one final push, as the man across the aisle came into this world, screaming and crying. I watched as the light began to fade from his mother’s eyes. I took her hand, but I did not take her. I made her promise to do everything in her power to make sure that her boy became a doctor. And become a doctor he did, but not the doctor he needed to be.

His tailored suit and handmade shoes are out of place here.

Red seats line the chrome bar and the black and white tiles of the floor haven’t changed since the sixties. A waitress appears with the check and I dig in my pockets for my last bills. I have enough for the meal and a dollar tip, crumpled, worn, and covered in dirt.

I get up to leave. They don’t want me here. They don’t know who I am, but they have their suspicions. Everyone always does and everyone is always wrong. No one sees me the same way as another person might. The man across the aisle does not see me at all. This is not as it should have been. He missed his choice. He never stared into the darkness and it never stared back. His mother lived.

I made a choice, and I robbed him of his. I do not get to make choices. I only protect them.

I exit the diner onto the cold city streets, ambling along, biding my time. I have nowhere to go for now. Later I have a job to do, but for now I have time.

I walk with the woman as she finds her way home. This is a new city to her. She doesn’t know that I walk with her, but we are both alone and she looks more than a little lost. I make sure that she reaches her destination. Her shiny black shoes, pristine hair and designer clothes, and fresh manicure undisturbed. She will make a choice soon. I have kept it safe. It is because of me that she chose this city, this place.

She notices me as she walks into her apartment. She stares for a moment. She meets my eyes. Something inside her knows and she looks away as quick as she can. It won’t be long before I meet her again.

I walk down into the subway tunnel. The whistle of the trains and the smell of the sewer do not bother me.

 

I stop and pat the stray cat huddled in the corner where she has given birth to her first litter not more than an hour ago. She purrs and allows my touch. She knows that I am not for her this night, not for her babies.

I step onto the train and sit with the young boy on his way home from baseball practice. It’s his first time by himself on the subway and he glances at the other passengers . The lights flicker and he sees me sitting across from him. I smile and he looks at his shoes, wringing his hands together. There are holes in their sides, the solid areas coated in dirt and grass stains. He’s had them for a long time and they are small enough to be uncomfortable now. It makes his feet hurt to play in them, but he knows he’s good enough to make it out if he keeps trying. So he continues, and he saves his money until he can get a new pair – one that won’t hurt his feet.

He will grow to be a great man. Because of him no child will ever have to wear a pair of shoes that’s too small for them. Because of him the world will become a better place. Because of this I will not take him today. I am not for him. He has already made his choice. I am not the one to make it for him, no. I am not required for a choice like his, though I had a hand in it. It is because of me that he suffers, but it is because of his suffering that others will thrive.

The old woman at the end of the car watches me with curiosity. She knows. She recognizes me, but she says nothing. She knows that her time will come and she knows that I will not come for her. She will affect little. My job is choices. I am there, always, always there. The important choices, life and death. I can see the tapestry of life. I can see where it is worn and frayed. I can see the threads and I can see where they end and where they begin. The fates may spin and measure, and cut the threads, but I am there to see that they are woven. I am there to see that choices are made and that the weaving is strong. Because of the choice of the man in the diner, the tapestry is weak. The one I am for tonight – he will make it strong again.

The train comes to a halt and I step off. I reach into a pocket and I drop the last coins I have into the open guitar case, the blind man playing for change. His music takes a somber turn as he hears my coins drop into the case. He feels that I am there, standing, listening to him play. He begins to play with a beauty that few are able to master, and people gather, but none stand close to me. They don’t want to be caught in my net, not tonight.

I leave him to his music. He will eat another night and he will live for a while longer.

I walk on, looking up at the sky, waiting for the clouds to release the rain that they have withheld for so long. A few drops fall and land on my upturned face. Water is neither dead nor alive. It is both cooling, soothing, and terrifying to many.

I do not enjoy the work I must do, but that is no matter. Someone must do it, and that is me. It has always been me. But tonight – tonight there is something different. Tonight, is important.

The hospital lights do not hurt my eyes as I move inside. The children’s ward. I walk to the foot of a bed, surrounded by a family. “I’m waiting for Uncle Jim,” the child says. “Then everyone will be here.”

Her mother looks to me, hope in her eyes. “Don’t let my daughter die.”

The door to the ward opens and Uncle Jim walks in. He hurries to the child’s bedside, a teddy bear in hand. He smiles at the child, but he sees me and his face falls. He knows me as only one who is about to make a choice can know me.

“I’m not the doctor you’re looking for,” I whisper. I move to the child’s side and take one hand as Uncle Jim takes the other, his eyes leaving mine only to smile at his niece.

“I waited for you, Uncle Jim. I wanted to say good-bye. I love you.”

She takes a few short breaths before the monitor lets out a continuous, droning beep. I close my eyes and turn away, letting her hand fall to the bed. They do not see me anymore. It’s better that way. They call for a doctor. They call for several.

Uncle Jim still sees me. As I leave, he leaves too. He takes me by the shoulder. “It’s my fault. I wasn’t there. I should have been with her.”

I smile at him. I know the choice he will have to make, even if he does not. This death will either change his life or end it. I took the life of this girl so that he could make a choice. “Another day, James. Perhaps tomorrow.”

I leave the hospital, exhausted, and still my work is not finished. So much to do.  I continue on, though I can feel the anger that comes with a night like this, it rises in my heart. Someone has to do it, but that does not mean that I enjoy it.

people-1550501_1920I sit with the homeless man in the park, waiting, biding my time for an hour or so, postponing the inevitable. He does not know that I sit with him. He does not notice me. but I am as homeless as he. I have nowhere to go. Nowhere that I rest my head. I do not rest. I can never rest. This is only a reprieve as I look up at the stars. Now that the rain has stopped, everything smells alive. The crickets sing and the stars are out in force tonight.

They look down at me and at my work. They do not care what I do, they are so far away, so many of them, I took them long ago. Some are still there, but many I have already spoken to. They do not fear me. They know what comes next. They know what happens when they move on. They know that there is a chance, however slight, they will become something more. They understand their potential. Humans are the only ones that fear me. They do not understand, and they fear what they do not understand.

I continue on.

As I walk a young boy stops to stare at me. “Are you a doctor?” He asks as I draw near. I stop a few feet from him. This is the question I have been waiting for.

“I am,” I reply. And it is the truth. This is my purpose tonight.

He looks around. “My Papa, he’s sick. We can’t afford to have a doctor come look at him. We don’t even have a car to take him to the hospital. Besides, last time we tried they said we didn’t have enough money to get him the surgery he needs.”

I watch his eyes as he works up the courage to ask me for what he wants.

“Will you come home with me? Will you look at him?”

I smile a little, trying to give him even the smallest glimmer of hope. And it is a lie.

“We can’t pay you. But he needs a doctor soon.”

I smile again, trying to ignore the knowledge of what I must do. The exhaustion is overwhelming, but I cannot stop now. “Take me to him,” I offer my hand.

The boy takes it. He is only eight years old. His Papa promised to take him to a football game when he turns nine next month. I let him lead me by the hand to his home.

It is small, in need of repair. He leads me inside where his mother sits with a stack of bills at the table. “Where have you been? I told you not to go out after midnight.” She stops. “Who is this?” She sees me holding her son’s hand.

“He’s a doctor, Mama. He said he would help.”

“We can’t pay him,” she chides the boy. “I am sorry sir. He should not have made you come all this way.”

“Where is your husband?”

She frowns but the light of hope sparkles in her eyes. If her husband can only see a doctor. He might live. But this too is a lie. I am meant for him.

I follow her to the room that it appears they all share. Two little girls share a small mattress in one corner while the father lies on a mattress in the other. His breathing is slow, strong for a moment, and then he struggles for another breath. I walk over to him and kneel on the ground. The mother stands in the door, holding her breath. But the boy comes to my side.

“I want to be a doctor too,” he whispers.

I look into his eyes. He will be a great doctor one day. Because of him the world will be a better place. Because of him, no one will die like his father again He has only to make a choice, a choice I must provide. “You will be,” I whisper to him even as I take his father’s hand in mine. I close my eyes as I feel his pulse slow to a stop. “He is not in any pain. Not anymore.”

The mother rushes to her husband’s side. The boy stares at me with sadness on his face. “You didn’t do anything. I thought you were a doctor.”

From behind the boy his father stares at me. He stands tall, stronger than he’s ever been. But the boy cannot see him. “I am a doctor.” The father nods at me. He knows what will happen now. He knows why he had to die. They all do, always. “I am a doctor for the dying.”

“He wasn’t supposed to die,” he whispers.

“Everyone dies.” I look away as the wife begins to cry and cough. I watch blood come out of her mouth. It will not be long before I return here. A choice must occur and it cannot do so without a catalyst.

I am that catalyst.

I continue my journey. It does not end here. It will never end as I step out onto the street with the rising sun. There are more choices for me to protect and provide.

winter-260817_1920

A vague smile crosses my face as the first snow falls.

I turn away from the lies reflected in the window pane. The snow in the field behind the hospital is unmarred, I won’t be the one to take that away. I slowly walk to the chair beside my wife’s bed. The white linoleum looks gray in the dim light. Dirty. The cards at the foot of her bed are years old now. There is only one bouquet of flowers on the tray which I replace every week. No one else sends them anymore. My phone sits next to the flowers, dead for days now. I drape a mottled afghan over her feet.

April’s eyes are closed, peaceful. I take her left hand, the right is full of tubes and needles. There are bruises under her eyes. She hasn’t had enough sleep. Three years isn’t enough.

“Jack?” The doctor stands in the doorway. “We need to talk,” He says while the door closes behind him.

I don’t take my eyes off of April and the oxygen tube covering half of her beautiful face. I cling to the constant beep of the heart monitor, grounding myself in the unreality of my life. I start to pick on a thread in the blanket and then lay my hand on her leg. The IV drip marks the silent passage of time.

Thirty drops in every minute. One thousand and eight hundred in an hour. Forty-three thousand and two hundred a day. Forty-eight million, eight hundred and eighty thousand, eight hundred drops since the day she arrived.

I see her chest moving up and down with the ventilator. I don’t dare hope that her eyes will open. How long has it been since I last saw her violet eyes?

The doctor places his hand on my shoulder. I don’t bother to shrug it off.

“Jack, it’s been three years.” He hesitates and I hope he won’t say it. “Her brain activity – for weeks now – it’s minimal, barely keeping her body going. She’s not suffering, but she’s not living.”

I hold April’s hand a little bit tighter. “No.”

“Jack-”

I shake my head furiously and jerk away. “She has to wake up.” I press her hand to my lips and wonder if she can feel the hot tears that fall down my cheeks.

“Life support is all that’s keeping her here. Haven’t you mourned long enough?”

This isn’t the first time we’ve had this conversation. I get to my feet, gently placing April’s hand by her side again. At the window, I stare at the unmarred snow, remembering a different time, a different place.

I’m a kid again, forcing my feet into boots a year too small, not bothering to change out of my pajamas. The sun isn’t out yet. I snatch a pair of mismatched gloves from the box by the door. Scooby-Doo peeks out of my unzipped coat.

I slam to a halt on the edge of the old wooden porch, my toes less than an inch from the untouched snow. Apple trees line one edge of the yard. The leaves fell weeks ago, the apples used to make all sorts of sweet things. Our antique mailbox stands out at the end of our driveway, illuminated by a single street lamp. Snow is piled on top of it at least six inches high. Starlight reveals the untouched snow where the morning commuters have yet to mar its innocence.

I glance back through the door into the dark interior of our house. Mom will kill me for this. I turn back to the yard. The porch lamp lights a wide swath of the pristine snow, not quite reaching the circle of light.

The snow calls me forward, begging me to come and play.

“I need to go for a walk.” I don’t grab my coat, but I leave the hospital anyway. As I walk I let my mind wander. How many times had I thought she wouldn’t make it, only to beg God for just one more day, one more smile, one last glimpse of her eyes? I laugh. “Once more will never be enough,” I mutter to myself.

My puffy coat and snow pants make it hard to climb the hill. I have on so many layers I can barely put my arms down at my sides. My hands grasp my blue plastic sled as tight as they can through thick mittens. “Just one more time!” I call to my mother.

I can almost hear her eyes rolling. “Fine, but only one!”

Now, walking these city streets I stare at the still dark sky. The wind hits me like a slap in the face. How long has it been since I was last outside? Two or three days at least. They let me shower in my wife’s bathroom; she doesn’t use it. I’m a writer; I do my work by her bedside.

Three days ago it was sunny, warm, an Indian Summer. My shirt and jeans are just a bit too thin for this new weather. I don’t stop to admire the unmarred snow; there is no ceremony to which I take my first steps onto each new swath.

I look up and among the high rises and see a small building, only three stories, thin and narrow between the larger buildings. Phoenix, I read. It has an old tavern style sign displaying a logo of a cup of coffee with what I guess is supposed to be the mythical bird itself rising from the steam. It’s a strange name for a coffee shop, I think. I pause for a moment to consider. The cold gets the better of me and I step inside.

The fresh smell of espresso wafts into my lungs. More than that, I can smell eggs and bacon cooking. It’s warm and cozy in here. The tables are everywhere, close together, but still far enough apart that I can isolate myself. This is the kind of shop I used to do my writing in. Now I do all of my writing in the hospital, waiting for my wife to wake up.

There is a small window flanked by an espresso machine on one side and a pastry case on the other. There is a second counter behind the main one with all the barista’s supplies.

As I venture in I note down little things about the place, perhaps I will use it in a story. Black counter tops. Tables with cast iron legs. It feels like Mom’s kitchen back home. The barista has violet eyes. I pause, staring at the girl behind the counter. She smiles. “What can I get for you?”

Her voice sounds like a high school cheerleader, bubbly, full of optimism and life. I blink as I realize that her eyes are brown, not violet. April’s eyes are violet. “Uhm… can you do coffee? Black? Preferably a dark roast?”

“No problem! What size?” She smiles wider and doesn’t look at me like I’m crazy for wanting real coffee. I appreciate that.

“Do you have real sizes or should I find a Latin dictionary?”

She laughs. “Small, medium, or large?”

“Large,” I say. I hand over my debit card.

She swipes the card and then hands me a cup of coffee. She smiles at me. “Have a nice day.”

I walk over to a table and sit, slowly sipping the hot liquid. The barista is cleaning her workspace. The only other person here is an old man, eating a plate of scrambled eggs and toast. He catches me looking in his direction and waves me over. I just stare at him for a moment. He is maybe my father’s age with graying hair and sun-tanned skin. He would be about my height if he was standing. He waves again.

I stand and walk over to him, sitting opposite in the indicated chair.

“Bit nippy to be without a coat,” He says.

His eyes are the color of hot chocolate.

“What’s your name, son?”

“Jack.”

“Tony.” He looks me up and down. “I don’t mean to be rude. You look like hell, kid.”

“Long night,” I say quietly, taking a sip of my coffee.

“Wife got you sleeping on the couch?” He looks pointedly at my wedding ring and then at my wrinkled clothes.

“A chair actually.” I’m surprised by the bitterness in my own voice.

Tony ignores it. “Breakfast? How do you like your eggs?”

“Scrambled,” I say before I can stop myself.

The old man smiles widely. “A man after my own heart.” He waves his hand at the barista. “Mae! Get me another plate of eggs and toast for my friend please.”

“No, I couldn’t,” I try to protest but he waves me off.

“On the house. It’s rare that we see anyone in here before the sun comes up.”

I stare at him for a minute, trying to decide if I should take up his offer. Before I can make up my mind the barista, Mae, sets a plate of scrambled eggs and toast in front of me. “Thank you,” I say out of reflex. She smiles at me again.

“Been married long?” Tony asks, continuing his breakfast.

“Five years, last month.” I take a bite of my own eggs, appraising the old man, trying to understand his questioning.

“Any kids?”

I hesitate for a split second. “No,” I answer a little too sharply.

“Why not?”

“Never the right time.” I glance at my right hand, what’s left of it. I lost my thumb and first two fingers in the accident three years ago.

“Do you want kids?”

I shovel another fork full of eggs into my mouth, stalling. “I thought I did,” I answer carefully.

“What changed your mind.”

I do not answer. Instead, I get up to leave. “I don’t have to answer your questions.”

“Stop. Sit.” He says with authority.

I sit back down, feeling a bit like a dog.

“Eat.” He says this last word kindly. “You look like you need it.”

I pick up the fork with my left hand. I don’t take my eyes off of Tony. Mechanically I shovel eggs into my mouth. He motions for Mae to refill my coffee.

I stare at Tony for what feels like an eternity, “What happened?”

I sit back, my heart sinking at the memory. “There was snow…”

I can barely see past the hood of the car. My right hand is behind me, holding April’s as she screams with the pain of labor. “It’ll be alright. We’re almost there,” I say over and over again. I’m no longer certain if I’m speaking to her or to myself. I can just barely see the green of the light.

I meet her wide violet eyes in the rearview mirror. “It’ll be okay,” I whisper.

“Let’s try an easier question,” Tony says and I realize that I haven’t said a word. “How did you meet your wife?”

I don’t know why I’m telling him these things, but I answer anyway. “It was when we were kids, the last run of the day. My mom wouldn’t let me stay out any longer. I was going downhill so fast. Out of nowhere, this girl appeared. She was hauling a pink sled up the hill behind her.”

I slam into her, knocking her off her feet. I hear something crack and our mothers screaming. We’re already sitting up when they arrive. They look us over frantically and the girl’s mom yells at mine. “Teach him to watch where he’s going!”

Mom carries me to our car, still clutching my blue sled. As Mom is about to snap the buckle on my seat I shout. “No! Wait!” I jump from the car, sled in tow and run to the little girl getting into her mom’s car. “Here!” I thrust out my sled with one hand. I hold it at arm’s length, afraid she won’t take it.

I feel the sled leave my fingers. When I look at her she smiles at me. Her eyes were purple; I’ve never seen purple eyes before.

“My name’s April.”

“Jack,” I say stupidly.

“April! Get in the car!” her mother shouts.

Tony’s voice brings me back to reality and I realize that I’ve trailed off again. “Sounds like you were meant to be.”

“There was an accident a few years ago.” The memory floods into view.

“I remember looking from the rearview mirror and my wife’s eyes to the road. But it was too late. The semi was going too fast and his brakes didn’t work. I hit mine, but the ABS didn’t kick in. We sped forward and when the semi hit us we went backward. I heard April scream. I don’t know if it was pain from the labor, the accident, or both. She tried to brace herself against the back of the passenger seat. When I woke up…” I whisper this to Tony, afraid that if I speak too loudly something inside me might break. “She’s still sleeping.”

“The baby?” Tony asks.

Mae replaces my paper cup with a mug. She smiles at me and I know that she’s been listening. Her brown eyes turn violet for a moment in my mind. The baby is so small. He opens his eyes, violet like his mother’s. But that’s all that I really see of him. His bones are broken and his organs bruised and ruptured. He’s alive and that’s a miracle in and of itself. That he can open his eyes this once is an act of divine power. He smiles at me, just a little, holds my little finger in his hand. The tubes covering his face mask him from me. That first and last time he will ever open his eyes.

“He died from complications thirty-seven days after the accident,” I say quietly, deciding it best to keep that memory to myself.

Tony raises an eyebrow at my specificity. “Your wife is still in a coma?”

“I work at the hospital so I can stay with her.”

“What do you do?” Tony asks politely. I think he senses my pain.

“I’m a writer, but I do some editing on the side.” I shrug as I take a gulp of coffee, then cough and nearly spit it out. It’s hotter than I anticipate.

“Must be good at it, no side job.” He ignores my miscalculation with the coffee.

“It’s enough.” I decide to ask my own question. “What about you? Not many men your age own coffee shops.”

He laughs and his eyes twinkle like Santa Clause in the old movies. “It wasn’t always a coffee shop. Place used to be a bar. My dad owned it. He drank too much when I was a kid. It was the whiskey and women that killed him.” He paused, thoughtfully. “Killed my mother too. I decided I wouldn’t let this place be the cause of any more families falling apart. So I remade it, instead of making people forget, it’s here to wake them up. From the ashes, they shall rise.” He chuckles. “I thought it was clever.”

I nod, not sure what to say for a moment. But there is a question burning in the back of my mind, one that I need to ask. “How did you do it?”

“Do what?” He sits back in his seat, finished with his food.

“Move on.” I bite my lip.

“I didn’t, not really. At first, I wanted to get rid of this place, but that wasn’t going to work. Sometimes we don’t move on. Sometimes the only thing we can do is change.”

“There’s nothing for me to change.” I look down and the sight of my disfigured right hand sickens me, a constant reminder of the accident. I can’t get away from it.

“We’re sorry, Mr. Borden. But your hand was badly crushed. The fingers were unable to be reattached We had no choice but to remove what was left of them. You might regain some use of the remaining fingers, but the outlook isn’t all that bright.”

I stare blankly at my hand and then at the doctor. “My wife? I was holding her hand.”

“She’s in a coma. There’s still brain activity for now.” He pauses. “We were able to deliver the baby. If you wish to see him, now is the best time.”

“I have a son?”

“There’s always something in life that needs a little change.” Tony smiles thinly.

I stare at my empty plate. I think about the doctor and what he’d told me only a little while ago. I stand to leave. “Thank you,” I don’t know if I’m thanking him for breakfast or something else.

“Somewhere to be?” The old man watches as I walk to the door.

I turn back. “Something I should have done a long time ago.”

I leave the coffee shop, but I don’t turn back to the hospital. Instead, I wander the city streets, occasionally walking into a small shop or a department store to look at the shelves. At every store, I leave intending to turn back and go to the hospital, but I don’t. I just keep wandering. I pay for a bus fare and ride for a few hours, watching the people get on and off. The children seem excited about the snow, the parents frustrated and distracted. People rush about, tapping their feet impatiently as though it will make the bus move faster. Their lives and jobs are so important that they don’t spare even a moment to look up from their phones. I skip lunch and dinner. As the sun starts to fade I return to the hospital, a long and winding route.

As I cross the street the world looks new somehow, despite the end of the day. I pause, there are children playing in the field. There are several half-made snowmen and countless angels. They’re currently engaged in a snowball war with forts and everything. I smile a little. I had forgotten the magic of a first snow. I’d forgotten the magic of life itself.

I set one foot in the snow and smile at the crunch it makes. There is still so much that remains untouched, so much of the world left. I turn back to the hospital, going no farther than that first step.

I walk up the stairs to my wife’s room. Six floors. The doctor is taking notes from the machines. He looks up at me. I take April’s hand in mine and kiss her forehead. My words come out in a whisper. “I have to let her go, don’t I?”

“I can only give you the options.”

“I can’t keep her like this.”

“Are you sure?” The doctor places his hand on my shoulder again. “We have people you can talk to.” But he knows that I’ve already been through all the counseling I can stand.

I hold April’s hand to my cheek, letting my tears moisten her palm. “I’m sure.”

He squeezes my shoulder. “I’ll get the paperwork.”

I nod. He leaves me to sit beside April. I sweep her hair back from her face and continue to hold her hand. “I love you.” I bow my head in acceptance, letting the tears fall. “I’m ready.”

The doctor returns. Before he can hand me the paperwork April’s heart monitor stops beeping, becoming one droning note. I stare up at the single green line. They push me away as nurses come in. “Let her go,” I say quietly. But I know they have to try.

I don’t keep track of how long they work.

A nurse calls it. “Time of death:  8:37 pm. December 18th.”

But she’s already been dead for three years and thirty-seven days.

I close my eyes and a violet eyed girl smiles at me behind my eyelids, holding a beat up blue plastic sled in one hand. Holding her other hand is a little boy, three years old. His eyes are the same color as hers. He smiles at me too. There is a vast expanse of new snow before us. I look at the hill as she turns to it and see three sets of footprints that brought the sled up. Two large and one small. April holds the sled out at arm’s length, smiling. I take it. One more run. I look to her again, hoping she’ll come with me.

She shakes her head and I understand.

I’ve been struggling for the last week or two to come up with something to write here. There’s a lot going on right now with my mental health, my physical health, and trying to figure out the future and what I’m doing with my life.

It’s been a whole year since I graduated college and I can honestly say that I didn’t expect to be where I’m at.

I didn’t expect to be working at Lowe’s still.

I didn’t expect to be living in northern Indiana still, let alone at my grandparents’ house.

I didn’t expect to have taken out a car loan.

I didn’t expect to have to go to my doctor 4 – almost 5 – months after the fact to have my back injury treated and to talk about my mental health.

I didn’t expect any of this.

But, I look back and I don’t even know what I expected.

I thought I’d have a better job, be living on my own – possibly not even in Indiana anymore.

God has a funny way of working in our lives. He puts us right where He wants us, whether or not we want to be there or intend to be there. He forces us into these situations, into our lives, for one reason or another.

I don’t know what His reasoning is behind where I’m at. I’ll tell you right now, though, that I never would have done talked to a doctor if I’d been in another city or state and not near the doctor I have right now for whom I am able to shake off my anxiety long enough to place some trust in her.

I’ve been having problems lately because while in my head I know that there’s a purpose for what’s happening in my life, for the way things are shaping up, it’s always a long journey – that 18 inches – from the brain to the heart. I can’t always make the little chemicals in my brain cooperate and reassure me that it’s okay.

When I was a kid I would spend hours and hours planing out my escape, my runaway. The day I turned 18 I was going to disappear at midnight and I was going to drive west, or east, or anywhere but home. I was going to have a life. I was going to join the Marine Corps or travel across the country with a dog and a truck and pretend that I wasn’t terrified of people. I wasn’t going to go to college, I wasn’t going to let anybody tell me what to do ever again.

Now – I don’t let other people dictate my life. I’m an adult and I make my own choices. But, I’ve started planning again. I have at least a dozen different escape plans typed up and ready for me to try one of them. Maybe they’ll end up in a story I write one day…

Or maybe one of these days someone will say or do something and I’ll just go. Just throw a few sets of clothing into my backpack with my gear and just disappear for a while, following one of my plans or making one up as I go.

It gets harder and harder, the more I hurt, the more stress I’m under, to not just pass by work and keep going – driving until I either run out of gas, money, or both. Whether or not I like where that takes me.

As a writer, and as an artist, this appeals to me. This idea of freeing myself from the responsibility of every day life. Of taking a new and exciting path.

As I want to do this – I’d prefer it be thought out and planned a little better. I’d prefer to do it on my terms, rather than terms set by the chemicals in my brain that aren’t doing their job the right way.

I’ve been asking myself all year, and especially now that Facebook has so kindly reminded me that one year ago I graduated college, what I’m doing with my life. College is done and over with and I’m still in the same spot – at least geographically and professionally – that I was 12 months ago.

Heck, I’ve barely been able to bring myself to create most of the time. I’ve been getting better, getting things to where I want them, working hard on making myself create again. Let me tell you, it’s awesome to feel that again. But, there’s something missing.

I don’t feel motivated. It’s harder than it should be to dig out and dust off the passion I once felt for my creative work.

There are days when I don’t even know if I really remember what it was to feel normal to feel like I could get out of bed in the morning and tackle the world. It’s an odd feeling – not knowing what I’ve rally felt, what I’ve really done. Not truly remembering years of my life.

It’s kind of depressing too, knowing that I missed out on so many milestones and experiences in high school and college that everyone else got to have while I was in a haze, convinced I was fine, but really I wasn’t.

I find myself worrying about younger me. There are times when I want to go back in time and take her in my arms, no matter how much she fights being embraced, and tell her that it’s not alright and that she needs to get herself together and figure out what’s going on before it’s too late and all of her chances to be a normal kid are gone.


I read this back to myself and I ask now, why I’m writing this. Why I’m going to share this on my blog. What’s the significance of it? It’s not something I’m looking for encouragement or reassurance on, and I’m at a point where reassurance and encouragement would just make me angry.

(Ever felt that way? It’s a ridiculous feeling.)

This is my state of the union speech.

This is my update because I know that there are people in my life who care.

This is me telling myself that it’s going to work out.

This is me just trying to figure out what I want to do with my life.

In the last year I’ve said that I want to go back to school for teaching, so I can teach English on a high school level. I’ve said that I want to go to graduate school for creative writing, or maybe literature so I can teach on a college level, or maybe just for the heck of it.

I’ve even thought about pitching an idea for a travel column/food blog type of deal. (Not completely out of the running yet.)

But, let’s be honest, none of those feel right. No matter how much I pray, no matter how many times I ask God what to do. I always seem to hear a “I have something else in mind.” kind of response.

I apply to any job I can find that I remotely qualify for that uses my degree in an interesting way, but I never get any calls back. I never get asked for an interview.

That’s okay, but the discouragement is real and there’s not much I can do about it but keep trying, keep praying, and hoping that it works out.


Right now, my greatest joy in life – teaching first grade Sunday school.

There’s nothing quite like it when you see something start to stick in their heads, when you start to see them understand God’s love and how they need to have it and show it in their lives.

And, honestly – I think I sometimes learn more applicable things from the Kids’ lessons than I do from going to the adult service and sitting through a sermon. (Even though I’ve been trying to do both.)

God’s got a plan, and while I’m antsy to figure it out, I know it’ll work out. There’s a reason I’m where I’m at, and a reason I haven’t had all the experiences I think I should have had by now.

There. Is. A. Reason.

It. Will. Sort. Itself. Out.

God’s. Got. This.

I just have to keep reminding myself of that.

Today has been a day off. I haven’t gone anywhere, or really done a whole lot. But, I have done one thing. I’ve been creating. (I also applied for my first car loan *shudder* and searched around online for cars within my pre-loan budget… b/c I haven’t been accepted yet, DUH!)

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Going analog with The Disappearance of Clara Summers, in the background you can see my Intuos Art sitting on my computer that I’m using to draw digitally.

(I also shared some work that I created previously. Here, here, and here.)

I can’t tell you how good it feels to create again, and not just because I’m sitting with a heating pad on my back, on and off, while I do it. I wish I could do this all day, every day. Sadly, I only get eight days a month to devote to creating. (That’s 25% of my month… less!)

This last week I’ve managed to talk myself into working before I go in to the day job, or to sit down after I get home late at night. Yeah, 10pm isn’t late to most people, but I’m like 80 years old when it comes to the time I want to be in bed. #DefinitelyNotANiteOwl

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about what I want to do with my life. I’ve tossed around the idea of going back to school to get my teaching license, going to grad school like my friends from BSU English and getting my Masters in Creative Writing, and I’ve even considered just dropping everything, moving to New York, Seattle, or Chicago and just seeing what happens.

Teaching License: uhm… I like teaching Sunday school, but the education system itself is really screwed up and I’m just not ready to handle that.

Grad School: How in the world am I supposed to get the money for that/apply for grants/scholarships? I’m probably the most skittish person in the world about applying for things. It’s taken me a year to convince myself to apply for a car loan, and that’s only because I don’t have a lot of options at the moment. Let alone, I’d have to apply to actually get into the programs. (Let’s face it I’m a ball of skittish neuroses and I don’t like sticking my neck out there.)

Which is exactly why I can’t just up and move cities without like a decade of planning, some counseling, and a tub of ice cream – actually ice cream sounds really good right now, but that’s beside the point. In other words, that’s DEFINITELY not happening.

Clara Summers Concept

Clara Summers – My latest and most favorite creation.

Yet, as my brain starts itself back up through the rust and dust, I can’t deny that it’s been a year (minus a few weeks) since I graduated college and I’m starting to feel antsy. I hadn’t planned to be living with my grandparents and still driving one of their cars by this time. I certainly hadn’t planned to have done so little creative work over this last year. You saw how I was at the beginning of 2018, I was all fired up for, like, the entire month of January! And then I fizzled again.

 

I feel like I need to do something, that I’m supposed to be somewhere else, doing something with myself. I’ve been blessed that God has not only given me a job, but the endurance to keep working that job – even if I complain a lot, don’t enjoy it like I did, and hurt all over. But, there’s more to life, to my life, than the garden center at Lowe’s. On top of it, just after this last weekend, with our season really starting with the break in crappy weather, I can’t help but ask myself how much longer I can keep up at this job before my body just drops.

Right now, looking forward to my daily creations and my daily devotions are the only things that keep me going to work every day and not giving in to the depression.

Knowing that there is something else I need to be doing – even if I don’t know what that is just yet – is pushing me out of bed in the morning. I may not look forward to going in for the day job, but I look forward to getting home and creating something, continuing the creation I began that morning, or have been working on for a while now.

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Charlie – My favorite doofus. (Don’t tell my brother.)

I have my favorites playlist going on my iPod every time I sit down at the computer. I’m getting into a routine with it. I’m getting to the point where I can shut off the rest of the world again. Well, except for doofus, he doesn’t like to be shut out with the rest of the world, so he hides under the desk while I work whenever he feels like he needs to be noticed.

 

I think he’s happier too, now that I’m creating again instead of lying in bed on my phone or watching Netflix all day when I’m off. Tomorrow morning I was even thinking of taking him to the park or to the pet store for a “field trip” with just the two of us before I go look at a car in Mishawaka in the afternoon.

Creating again is like a drug in its addictiveness. I’ve been focusing for so long on what I want to do with my life and where I’m at that I set aside my skills as a creator, as a storyteller, and let them get covered in dust. That was a dumb mistake, because I know one thing for certain: whatever it is that this drive to do something with my life is pointing me towards, I’m going to be creating when I get there. I can’t see myself doing anything else in the future. No matter what my day job is now, or in the future, whether or not I travel or go to school – in my daydreams, my creativity is always there, even if it’s not the main subject, it’s there.

Whenever I think about the future or about the past, I can’t imagine putting it aside, not after all the work I’ve put into it, going to school and getting my degree in writing, investing in art supplies, I can’t give up.

So, yeah… I’m creating again, and I’m excited, and I’m going to do anything I can to keep this going. I don’t want to let this go again. No matter how hard it gets to drag myself out of bed in the morning, it’s just not going to happen again. I can’t let it.

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