Thursday, January 27, 2011

The Fairy Princess

Frilly lace, pink and delicate, bulges from thick shoulders--over huge breasts. Lipstick smeared from corner to corner, mascara in dripping globs--she's a carnival of color. Tie the ribbon in her hair. It doesn't match--but what does? What matched fat and self loathing? 


All dressed up and no where to go.


Stiletto heels and stockings that won't stay up--she's just a clown--a walking parody.


Tears streak a black river over bulbous cheeks. Soft blond curls twist and fall. They called her Miss Piggy in school. "You'd be so pretty if you just lost a little weight." Her mother would fuss and cram her into yet another girdle--leaving her with a cinched waist and arms that looked as if she'd explode out of the thing.


She was 18. Too old to hide behind her mother's skirts, too young to give up, too old to pretend. She placed the crown upon her head. A fairy princess in pink lace. In her heart she saw the beauty she could be. She saw herself dance on weightless feet--saw her prince bow and take her hand. "Spin me around the floor. Kiss me sweet." Her heart whispered in hushed tones--thump, thump under her skin. 


Riiiiiiiiip. The sound of tearing fabric pulled her back to reality. She wiped away the tears and the makeup. Blue eye shadow marred the lacy hem of her dress. She grabbed her car keys and purse. She slammed the door of her car--winded from the slight exertion. White knuckled grip on the steering wheel--the long road wound it's way to the closest Burger King. The car flew as though it were determined to escape misery.


The voice in the speaker was distorted. She sobbed as she ordered 4 burgers, a large fry, and a chocolate milkshake. Money was another demon--but she forked it out readily to gorge the garbage in her mouth. Eating was pleasure, was comfort, was hate, was suicide, was death. Nothing mattered anymore. Addiction trumped all.


Shaking hands gripped the triple Whopper with cheese and shoved it in her face. She tasted tears, tasted salt, tasted rage, tasted helplessness, tasted nothing. She pulled out on the road--driving one handed. Took a turn too fast and her milkshake crashed to the passenger floor board. She swerved to lean down and rescue it. Her head full of chaos. Her tongue salivating for chocolate.


She never saw the deer.


She never heard the crash.


She never anticipated it's antlers crashing through the windshield. 

She never dreamt she'd veer off the road--crash into the rocks below.


She never envisioned the pain, the shock of true instant death.


She'd only wanted something salty sweet to kill the truth of her. If only she'd known what the truth of her was....

Friday, January 7, 2011

Ralph's A Respectable Name

"You can't name him that! Please reconsider!"


Doctor Hancock looked at my mother with shock. But my mother stood firm. "His daddy knocked me up and run off. I can name him any damn thing I choose. Now write it down." Dr. Hancock, God bless him, tried once more..."But Ms. River a boy needs a name he can live up to, not one he has to live down." He frowned and looked at Nurse Gina. Neither of them could overcome my mother's indomitable spirit. She would not budge. 


So they wrote my name down.


I didn't think too much about it as a youngster. Folks would call to me with a sly grin on their faces, but I was a simple boy and chalked it up to them just bein' happy to see me. I was a sweet child. Everyone said so. I never cried much or carried on like a fool. But I didn't stand out among my peers neither. 


When I started school--well, then my name got to botherin' me. The fellas would chuck rocks at me and tell me to go play in the deep end of the pool. The girls wouldn't chase me round the playground like they chased the other boys. I don't figure it was my looks so much, cuz every once in awhile a pretty little girl would look at me then glance away real quick, like I wouldn't notice. So I reckon it was my name to blame. 


By the time I was 15 I finally had me one good friend. Jimmy Watts. He lived down on Yellow Street, on the wrong side of the tracks. His daddy had a taste for Bourbon and an eye for skirts. More than once Jimmy turned up at school with a black eye. But he was a cool cat in my book. 


We sat at the bleachers watching the guys play football. Jimmy passed me a cig and I took a long drag. The smoke filled my lungs and I coughed. My eyes teared up and one of the cheerleaders laughed at me. Jimmy nudged my ribs with his elbow. "We gotta change your name, man. Ain't no girl gonna kiss you with a name like that."


I laughed at ol Jimmy. "Ain't no girl gonna kiss me ever. Don't matter what my name is." Jimmy scoffed and took his cigarette back. "A good lookin' fella like you? Pshaw! Sure they will. We just gotta change your name." 


I looked down at my shoes. I wasn't really shy--just invisible. "You really think a girl'd kiss me?" 


Jimmy leaned forward, resting his elbows on his knees, "I'll tell ya what, Man, we change your name and I bet Bethany will let you put your your hand up her sweater." I musta turned bright red when Jimmy said that. He knew I liked Bethany best of all, but bein' Jimmy, he had to bust my chops. "What's a matter, Man? Don'thca like girls?"


I slugged him in the side. "Shit yeah, I like girls!" Jimmy laughed. "Well, alright then. We gotta get you a new name." Jimmy looked out at the field, "What about Carl?" I followed his eyes. "Naw Jimmy, there's already a Carl Weaver."  Jimmy leaned back, "Humph. Well how about Ralph, like the Honeymooners? Ralph's a respectable name!" 


"Ralph." I tested it out on my tongue. I liked it.


I went home and told my mother I changed my name. She belted me across my mouth. "Ain't nothin' wrong with your name, Boy! Your daddy's dirt, so it fits you just fine." I decided to go by Ralph at school and let my mother call me whatever she wanted. 


So I went by Ralph for the next several years. I even enrolled in college as Ralph. Jimmy'd been right. The girls warmed up to me a lot after I changed my name. It took two years, but it was worth it. I grew up tall and strongly built. I was still average academically, but I found that I had far more confidence with my new name.


Then I saw her.  She was walking across the quad with three other girls around her. I never could figure out why these girls traveled in packs, but it didn't matter. The sun kissed her hair, turned it into a golden halo. I watched her laugh as if in slow motion. I stared so intensely that I snapped my pencil. 


I found out her name was Angela. 


I stayed back for awhile--just to get the feel of her. I learned that she loved music and was a dancer. I learned that her boyfriend had moved to another state to study engineering. I learned that her smile lit up the room. 


Finally, I got up the courage to meet her. I skipped trig class so I could catch her at the library. I watched her walk in and go straight for the art history section. She walked along the aisle, barely tall enough to reach the books. I walked up to her, "You need me to reach something for you?" She smiled and I felt my heart skip a beat. "Thanks. That'd be great!" 


I helped her get all the books she needed and offered to help her carry them to her dorm. We talked for hours. We stopped at the campus ice cream shop and I bought her a milkshake. She smiled at me and asked the question I'd been dreading. "We've spent nearly all day together and I never thought to ask your name! What's your name, silly?" 


I took a deep breath. I looked down at my milkshake. My brain said, "Tell her it's Ralph!" But my heart just could not look into those cornflower blue eyes and lie. I braced myself for her reaction. I looked at her point blank and blurted out, "My name is Mud. Mud River." 

:P

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

"I Want To Die"

"You have a beautiful mind. Look at the things you create. It's a gift."

Blue crashes over red and makes purple. The scent of oil blends with turpentine. Crack a window. Let the fumes escape. Odorless turpentine is not odorless. Control the brush with an iron fist, white knuckled demands, smear and streak. Fill the picture plane with color. Fill it with life. Breathe air into it. Let it grow and become a beast.

"Are you listening to me? Did you hear what I said?" He crossed the studio and grabbed my shoulders, spun me round to face him. The brush came along for the ride and drew a trail of purple across his shirt. He didn't notice. Or didn't care. It was impossible to tell. "Look at your work! THAT'S who you are. That's how you're defined. Not by love, love is a passing thing. Fleeting in the big picture."

He picked up my ratty old notebook full of ramblings, full of pain, full of dreams. "This is your legacy. This is what matters. This is Cynthia." His chest heaved with excitement. Adrenaline pushed the blood through his veins. I watched it with numb fascination. It was hypnotic. Beat. Beat. Pause. Beat. Beat. Pause.

I said nothing.

I put the brush down.

There was a sad beginning of a shape on the canvass. An eye peeking trough a kaleidoscope of color. "You are better than the men you've been chasing. Don't you know that? You cast your pearls before swine, Chica. But that isn't who you are. Can't you see that?"

I wiped the paint from my fingers. I smeared it all over my jeans and went over to the window. The sun was shining. Peeking trough the clouds to wink at me. Flirty bastard.

I remember the sound of his voice. I remember the feel of it's sweet vibration in my ear. What had he said? Which time? So many things. So much to just slip away. He called me Sweetie. Another called me Kitten. So many called me mental. So many things. I remembered the others. The feel of warm hands, big and strong, kneading my shoulders. I remember kisses and wanting them so badly only to find them hollow.

Vern turned me around again. He wrapped me up in warm arms. I could smell his aftershave, smell his cologne. I could hear his heartbeat. I could feel him--real and solid. I could see the frustration in his line, in his muscles, in his face. Why couldn't I love him?

He led me to the canvas. He put the paintbrush in my hand. The canvass loomed bold and bright before us. I saw the love in his eyes, saw the worry. I knew what he wanted from me. I knew what I wanted. But the two were impossible. They'd never meet in this century. He wanted me; I longed for another.

He kissed my forehead and gestured to the painting. "Finish it. Remember who you are. And for God's sake...don't ever say you want to die again."

I watched the door close behind him.

Streak the purple. Crash it into yellow. Switch to red. Lips should always be red. Candy apple, delectable, nibblingly beautiful red...


Rain

They're just fragments now
Broken shards
Lost loves that smile
From a shattered mirror

It hurts too much to breathe
Too much to grieve
I wasn't meant for this
To try and try and fail

I kiss the frog
But no prince bounds forth
I kiss the sky
And it rains

Pours down on me like hail
Crushing blows
Pummeling
Again and again and again

How much pain can one person take?
How much to endure?
When will my ship come in?
When will these damn cliches make sense?

It all seems so pointless.
Why hurt like this?
Why love and lose?
Why bother?

I'll never be over him it seems.

Not till the day I die....