Things have been crazy hectic and it’s been challenging to upload and share the rest of the poems from my Holiday Challenge Series. I just had to carve some time out this weekend and share this poem, and honestly I couldn’t pick a better day. So, here’s the 2nd poem outta the 10 poems of the Holiday Challenge Series.
So towards the end of 2018, more specifically the last 10 days of the year, I decided to give myself a writing challenge, specifically a poetry challenge. I challenged myself to write 10 poems and that the title of these poems would be the song titles of 10 of the top tracks of 2018. Needless to say I felt the time crunch, however, I did finish writing them all by NYE. I finally feel ready to share the poems from my Holiday Challenge series with all of you. I couldn’t have picked a better day to post this first one even if I tried. So…here you go!
Girls Like You
Title – Starfish
Author – Akemi Dawn Bowman
Rating – 4/5 Starfishies
Plot Synopsis, well, at least my version of the plot synopsis. For one by the actual author either check the book out at the bookstore or library, or do the next best thing, Google it! This is the story of Kiko Himura, as she tries to find her voice, her purpose and ultimately herself. It is a story of acceptance, self-love, hope, chasing your dreams, and facing your fears, villains and ghosts on your own without being forced or coerced to do so. It is a story of self-discovery.
Just putting trigger warnings out there for those of you curious to read the book. The book addresses sexual and emotional abuse, so please put your own well being first before you proceed to read this book.
Now onto my thoughts about this book. As I’ve always maintained, I don’t want to talk too much about the plot of the books, movies and tele shows I watch, I figure that’s something everyone can do on their own and figure out on their own. So this year I decided that before I go get any more books from the library, I’d finish reading the unread books in my personal collection. I just happened to pick this book up from the bookstore, it was more of an instinctual purchase versus a recommended one. Also, the book’s cover was very appealing and drew my attention. Well I didn’t just judge the book by it’s cover, I read the inlay as well, so that basically cemented my decision. I decided to give this book a shot, and I went in with minimal expectations. What I was not expecting from this book, was the intensity and speed with which it grabbed my attention and pulled me into the life of Kiko Himura, the main protagonist.
Every page had something in it that made my heart stop, and at times just took my breath away. Never have I connected with a book on so many levels than this particular book, which is also probably why I was a little disappointed towards the end of it. I mean hats off to Akemi Dawn Bowman for her brilliant descriptors and magical ways of crafting a story that binds your soul and sets your imagination free. It’s not easy describing art, but the simple yet exquisite way she describes art pieces and uses metaphors to describe the emotional status of her protagonist, it left me speechless and almost in a trance. I couldn’t stop thinking and re-playing the visuals her words built in my head, long after I was done reading a chapter, and the book. One amongst many things that I liked about this book was the description about the impact of abuse on the emotional, mental and psychological growth of a victim of abuse. This is one of the few books that I think has made a good attempt at capturing the mind, body and emotional space of a victim of abuse. I don’t want to say anything else about it, because I could probably write a few more paragraphs, only then it wouldn’t be a review anymore but a very opinionated piece. I know for a fact that I will definitely re-read the book as there were so many poignant and powerful lines that I couldn’t stop fixating over. My only issue with this book was with regards to the resolution of one of one of the main issues the protagonist, Kiko, deal with. Throughout the book, the issue is discussed, if not mentioned, in many different ways, which shows just how invasive and how deep an impact it has had on her life and her development as an individual. Then you get to the three quarter mark and boom, boom, bang, everything falls into place, and confrontations happen and she makes peace with herself and she gets to pursue her dreams. Towards the end, everything that took a good chunk of the book to set up got wrapped up a little too quickly. I think one of the reasons why this may have happened, is perhaps because the author thought they were dwelling on issues for too long and probably just felt the need to wrap things up ASAP and conclude the book. Which is a fair thought process to have, since you want to keep the attention of your readers. I just felt that ending may give people a bit of false hope, because as much as people would love quick resolutions to their problems, some problems last a lot longer than one could hope or even ask for.
Overall, I do recommend giving this book a read. It truly is quite the experience to read and appreciate the beauty and simplicity with which the author uses her words to tell the story of Kiko Himura. If you have read this book, please do share your thoughts & sentiments about this book with me in the comments section below. I’m really excited & curious to see what you have to say!
Title: The Subtle Art Of Not Giving A F*ck
Author: Mark Manson
Rating: 4/5 F*cks given
Well this is the 1st book I’ve read this year, and there’s no better way to kickstart one’s reading list than with a self help book. After all, we do strive to be better versions of ourselves on a daily basis, don’t we? So, the first time I saw this book, the biggest thing that got my attention was the title & I was curious about 2 things.
1.What it was about? And,
2. Were people reading it?
So I checked to see if the book was available at the local library & guess what? I was #82 when I put a hold on this book. 3 months later, after I’d forgotten I was on the waiting list, I got a notification letting me know the book was ready for pick-up at the library. All that previously forgotten curiosity came rushing back to me when I picked up the book. Anyway, now that I’m done with the book, I thought I’d share a few of my thots.
Overall, this book was a fun read. I found it to be very practical & logical for most part. Sure there were certain parts of the book & examples used that had me quirking my brow, but I just attributed it to the author being a man-child about certain aspects of life. Here’s the best way I can explain it, sometimes writing about certain subjects or issues takes a certain level of maturity & sensitivity. And in order to be able to do so it takes time & a little more experience. But to the author’s credit, he eventually gets to the point (with regards to those particular sections) despite floundering. But for most part, the brow quirking parts either led to an eye-roll or a chuckle.
Something I absolutely LOVED about this book was how it didn’t keep forcing the ‘Power of Positive thinking’ on to the reader in every chapter or page. If anything, the concept is acknowledged & then left alone. There is a greater emphasis on the ‘Power of Negativity.’ What do I mean by that? Well there’s a great emphasis on how it isn’t just the positive things in life that we should look to for inspiration. We should examine, evaluate and embrace our failures, as well as our negative experiences, because they too create, build & remodel us. I loved the emphasis on embracing your failures & not to disregard them, or weigh yourself down because of them. They aren’t metrics that define or describe you as a person.
So here’s the bottom line, if you asked me, ‘Hey do you recommend reading this book?’ My answer to that question is ‘I HIGHLY recommend doing so.’ Like I said before it’s practical & logical, and most importantly it’s light hearted & entertaining, so really, what do you stand to lose? Worst case scenario, if you don’t like this book at all, you can just embrace the spirit of the book & exclaim ‘What the F*ck was that?!’
Another day, another poem. Thank you dear muse for coming around & inspiring a few words outta me, it’s been a while, but it’s good to have you back! To everybody else, happy reading!
In the blink of an eye,
Life will pass you by.
In the blink of an eye,
You better be ready to say goodbye.
In the blink of an eye,
Wars are won,
New life stumbles, wobbles,
And makes itself valid and present.
In the blink of an eye,
Hearts beat, hearts break,
Hesitation creeps in,
And hasty decisions are made.
In the blink of an eye,
You’re on top of the world,
In the blink of an eye,
Gravity is your best friend,
While your free falling nightmare never
seems to end.
In the blink of an eye,
Poetry is written,
In the blink of an eye,
Inspiration stems and grows deep within.
In the blink of an eye,
You’re the nobody,
Who unknowingly stumbles into the limelight,
To become a household name.
In the blink of an eye,
You’re the centre of attention,
Who fades into the background,
And falls from grace.
A distant memory,
Faded to gray.
In the blink of an eye,
You may wonder how and why,
It all came together,
And wonder and ponder,
At how it all fell apart.
In the blink of an eye,
Who you were a moment ago,
Is no longer who you are anymore.
So stop to smell the roses,
Celebrate your victories,
Embrace your failures,
Feel your tears,
Salty and bittersweet.
For in the blink of an eye,
When all is said and done,
Be free, be liberated,
From bitterness, from animosity,
From the chains and weight of regret.
Hope so broken, so tattered,
Dreams stifled and shattered,
Yet here I stand, bloodied and battered
An eternal reminder that, you, never mattered.
Here you go boys & girls, the final chapter in the Lights Out instalment. Thanks for tuning in and reading. Leave your thots & sentiments in the space below! Hopefully this is the start of many more such story endeavours!
“Good Morning…Neurosurgery, this is Phyllis. How can I help you?”
“Erm…Good Morning Phyllis, my name is Mia. Uh…I’d like to talk to erm Dr. Ashton, I think his name is? I received a call from him yesterday, and in the message this is the number he left.”
“I see. Usually Dr. Ashton is doing his rounds at this time. Let me see if I can get a hold of him for you. Are you a new patient? Or were you referred?”
“No…Neither I’m afraid. Like I said, I’m just returning his call.” Mia replied, slightly annoyed.
“Can you give me your full name and a contact number, just in case he is unable to talk to you right now, that way I can make sure he has a way of contacting you later.” Phyllis responded.
Mia proceeded to give her contact information to Phyllis.
“Alright Ms. Hamilton, can I put you on hold while I try to get a hold of Dr. Ashton?”
“Sure, go ahead. I hope he’s able to respond, because it will be hard to get a hold of me after today.” Mia responded.
“Alright. Please hold.”
Mia stays on the line, trying to figure out why a Neurosurgeon of all people would want to get in touch with her.
24 hours ago (In the ER amidst a sea of Doctors and Nurses.)
*What’s the patient’s status?*
*Patient is 32 year old male, fighter, unresponsive to visual and auditory stimuli on arrival. Drop in BP, multiple bruises and lacerations at varying stages of healing noted across thorax, particularly around ribs 9-12, and abdomen. Decreased breath sounds noted bilaterally. Swelling around eyes noted, there’s bruising around right eye. As per witnesses, patient suffered a blow to the head, patient was knocked out and lost consciousness immediately. Past history of LOC after being knocked out.*
*Alright, how is his airway and breathing doing now? Is he responding to the mask? If not get ready to intubate. I want updates on his BP, how has it looked since he got here? Take him down to imaging stat! I want a CT of his head, chest & abdomen. I want to make sure we aren’t missing any internal bleeding or damage of any sort. Then, let’s pump some fluids into our boy here and see if that will fix the BP issue. Go, go go.
A few hours after the frenzy in the ER
“Family of Maxmillan Hinterland?” questioned one of the many Doctors dressed in scrubs that headed out to the waiting room.
“Right here Doc.” Came the response from at least 5 people.
‘Hello, my name is Dr. Ashton. How are you related to the patient?”
“Well we are all the really old friends, we are as good as family.”
“Oh I’m sorry, I need to talk to his next of kin. Do you know who would be the best person to call? And maybe have any numbers for them?” the Doctor asked.
“Doc, we are the only family left. The family you’re looking for is no longer around; it’s just us.”
“I see. Well I understand, but I do have hospital protocol to follow as well. Does anyone know who his emergency contact is? Or who his primary care physician is?”
“Well Doc, this isn’t Max’s first trip to St. Mike’s. I mean he has been admitted here before. I would think one of us is his emergency contact, if not it should be something listed in one of his previous visits right?” one of the five replied.
“Oh shit! You guys! We didn’t even think to call Mack and tell her about Max! She’s going to kill us!” exclaimed another in the group of five.
“Mack? Is that a relative, spouse or friend?” interrupted the Doctor.
“Oh, Mack is his Doctor…his primary whatever you were asking for Doc. She’s been in charge of his health and stuff since he’s been in the ring full-time you know? She might be able to give you a better idea about his health history and the medical mumbo jumbo stuff.” Explains one of Max’s friends.
“Here let me give you her number. One of us will call her right now; I think it’s better if we tell her first before a complete stranger tells her. No offence Doc.”
“None taken. Tell you what, let me dig up Max’s old charts in the meantime and see if there’s an emergency contact listed on there and then I’ll go ahead and give Dr. Mack, was it? A call.” Responded the Doctor.
Approximately an hour later Mack arrives. She looks pale as a ghost, and doesn’t waste any time firing away questions the moment she sees the crew hovering in the waiting area. Her voice is tight and strained from all the effort she’s spent trying to maintain her composure, and it’s only a matter of time before she breaks down.
The moment Mack hears Max was in a fight, she is beyond livid and glares at guys four times her size, demanding an explanation as to how they could even let Max into the ring, knowing his condition. Mack is met with an eerie and unsettling silence…and for good reason. The crew tells her that Max didn’t inform any of them about the fight, in fact, he had been avoiding them for the last few weeks and it wasn’t until a few days ago that he reached out. Max had suggested that they all meet up for lunch and do something as a group like they used to back in the good old days, something like paint-ball or laser tag, Go Karting or even rock-climbing.
Hearing Max’s suggestion shocked Mack; she should’ve seen this coming. She bit her lower lip in an attempt to stop herself from crying tears of anger and frustration. The signs were right there and she failed to pick up on them, and hell, act on them. Mack was furious with herself, but that would have to wait…it would all have to wait until the Doctor in charge of Max’s care updated her on his condition. Something was gnawing away deep within on her drive to the hospital, there was this unsettling feeling at the pit of her gut and a sinking feeling in her heart. Getting that call was not easy for Mack, not when she found out it was about Max after a fight. She knew she hadn’t cleared him to fight, in fact she knew for a fact that the moment he was up to standards she was going to send a letter recommending Max retire from the sport. He definitely had the heart to fight, however, his mind and body weren’t on the same page. What Mack couldn’t understand was how Max managed to get into the ring without her clearance?! That’s when another thought struck her. She was so focused on Max’s status and was so distracted by the panic, fear, anger and sadness that she completely forgot about all the other avenues leading up to this scenario. Given her profession, she couldn’t really say she hated hospitals, but this situation warranted her unfounded dislike for this space. It always hurts more when it’s one of your own in a situation you’ve handled countless times before.
She rounded on the crew again; surely they knew who the hell was responsible for clearing Max for this damn fight. If anything she was going to wring this person’s neck with her stethoscope for their absolute stupidity in letting this idiot into the ring.
“Hey! Who cleared Max for tonight’s fight?” she asked throwing a glare their way.
“Erm…Don’t know Doc, we weren’t there for the fight. We figured you cleared him.” One of them replied after clearing their throat.
Upon hearing what he said, Mack threw a withering look his way, causing the poor guy to shrink away further.
“Does it look like I’d do something as stupid as sending Max off to his own death?!” she almost squeaked out in sheer frustration.
“I was going to send in my recommendation for Max’s retirement to the federation. He came to see me about 2 weeks ago! And that was after his six-week regulation rest period following the last fight! I told him to come back in two weeks for a follow up, his state warranted more rest. How the hell is he here after a fight versus being a scheduled appointment for me to see this week?!” she continued in an exasperated tone of voice.
“Find out which idiot Doctor it is that he saw, and, gave him the damn clearance to fight!” she growled at the group.
After a few moments of tense silence, and the refusal to meet each other’s eyes, one of them mumbled.
“Hey Doc…Do you think he’ll make it?”
There it was…they finally addressed the elephant in the room.
“I…I honestly don’t know. It doesn’t look or sound good, but we have to hope for the best.” Mack responded in a shaky voice, a few tears finally breaking free, after being contained and restrained for so long.
She cleared her throat, gritted her teeth and crossed her arms across her stomach…it almost looked like she was physically holding herself together.
Just then Dr. Ashton appeared before the group. He looked around, acknowledging the familiar faces, and saw the latest addition to the group. He assumed that was the Doctor friend the group had referred to earlier. He started walking towards her; he could see she was trying to put on a brave face, her expression and stance said it all.
The approaching footsteps seemed to shock Mack out of the daze she was in, and her eyes locked on to the Doctor’s eyes. She could see the hesitation in his steps, and the kindness, and wait, was that sympathy in his eyes? That sinking feeling she felt on the drive here, only grew with every step the Doctor took towards her.
“Dr. Mackenzie I presume?” Dr. Ashton asked.
Mack could only nod her head. It took her a few moments to collect herself, but she shook her head and stuck her hand out to properly introduce herself.
“Yes that’s me, but you can call me Mack. Right now I’m here as family.”
Dr. Ashton nodded his head in understanding.
“Well Mack, I’m Dr. Ashton and Max is currently under my care.” He introduced himself.
“I understand you were trying to establish Max’s emergency contact? Since he has no family, I can get you the number for his lawyer as well. As part of the federation there is a lot of legality fighters have to go through before, during, and, after they enter that ring. From what I know he does have a will. I’m not sure though about healthcare proxies or anything of the sort, if he is unable to make decisions himself, that’s something the lawyer would be privy to.” Mack kept talking, not wanting to waste a single moment with minor details.
Dr. Ashton nodded his head again, and proceeded to speak.
“I was able to get a hold of his records here at the hospital, and his emergency contact listed on here is Mia Hamilton.”
A look of surprise flashed across Mack’s face on hearing Mia’s name. Dr. Ashton noticed the change in expression and faltered ever so slightly with what he was about to say.
“Erm, I haven’t seen any updates or changes in his charts since his last visit here approximately 2 months ago. Is there somebody else we should be contacting?” He questioned.
When all he received was a blank stare from Mack and no other response, he continued.
“Well, I tried the number listed on there, but I couldn’t get a hold of the person, so I left them a voice-mail. But now that you’re here, if you could come with me I’d like to discuss a few things about Max’s care.” Dr. Ashton said.
Mack nodded her head in acknowledgment and understanding. This was worse than her worst nightmare, and she swore to herself that when Max pulled through she was going to kick his sorry ass for putting her through this. The fact that there was even a scenario concerning Max pulling through broke her heart and flooded her mind with an overwhelming sense of shock, sadness, guilt and anger. She really really hoped that Max would pull through, despite how slim his chances seemed from the way Dr. Ashton was talking to her. She realized that she also needed to let the rest of the group know before she left to talk to Dr. Ashton. She asked Dr. Ashton to give her a few minutes so she could quickly explain things to the rest of the group.
Mack walked over to the anxious group of people. She told them what Dr. Ashton told her about who Max’s emergency contact was. Everyone had the same reaction she did, one of genuine surprise, when they realized that Mia was still his emergency contact. She also mentioned how the Doctor was unable to get a hold of her. At the mention of that, they all looked at each other…a look of understanding passed between the group.
The silence was broken when one of them said,
“Isn’t the wedding today? I think the rehearsal was last night right?”
Mack nods her head solemnly, before speaking.
“The wedding was this morning. I highly doubt Mia would’ve had any time to check her phone. The reception is going on right now. I was actually getting ready to go there when I got the call. I tried calling her, but couldn’t get a hold of her. I called her sister and told her I wouldn’t be able to make it as I got called in for an emergency at the hospital. She said she would pass on the message to her.”
“I’d prefer it be one of us that breaks the news to Mia, instead of the hospital. But listen guys; I have to go talk to Dr. Ashton. I’ll come back and update you on Max’s condition okay?”
Mack started walking away from the group, but paused halfway and turned around,
“Hey guys…pray for our Max, our fighter.” She pleaded softly.
She exhaled deeply and walked away to where Dr. Ashton was standing. It was definitely going to be a long night.
Back to Mia tapping away at her coffee mug while on hold
While waiting on hold, Mia was playing back the strange voice mail she received the previous day. Her phone had literally blown up with the amount of messages, notes, voice mails and emails she received congratulating her on her nuptials. It was such a weird feeling for her, she was married…she was someone’s wife now. It felt a little too surreal to her. In the midst of all those congratulatory messages was this odd message from a Dr. Ashton. She was convinced he dialed the wrong person. All the message said was that a Dr. Ashton from St. Michael’s Hospital was calling her because she was listed as an emergency contact for one of his patients who was admitted to the hospital earlier in the day. The Doctor left his number and asked her to call back as he wanted to talk to her about the patient. She couldn’t understand who would have her listed as an emergency contact, given that all the people who could possibly have her as one were at the wedding and reception…except for Mackenzie.
Her train of thought jolted her into a state of panic
‘Oh no, what if something happened to Mack? Shit! Why didn’t I have my phone on me? She wasn’t there at the reception! But wait…Maya said she spoke to Mack and that she couldn’t make it because of some emergency at the hospital. I mean if she were the one admitted, why on Earth would she call Maya right?’
Her train of thought was interrupted by a voice, well Phyllis’ voice.
“Miss Hamilton? You still there?” Phyllis asked.
“Yes I am.” She replied.
“Well you’re in luck! Dr. Ashton just finished his rounds and is in his office. I’m going to transfer you to his office okay? So please stay on the line.”
“Sure. Thank you.” Replied Mia.
She started tapping the surface of the bar, a habit that showcased itself when she was nervous. She caught herself doing so and reached out for the cup of coffee sitting in front of her, thereby giving her mind and hands another distraction.
She heard the phone ring twice, and right after she took a sip of her brew she heard a voice on the other line pick up.
“This is Dr. Ashton.” A cheerful voice sounded over the phone.
She almost sputtered in response, not expecting the Doctor to answer this quickly.
“Uh…Hi Dr. Ashton. My name is Mia Hamilton. You left me a voice message yesterday with regards to a patient of yours? I mean, you said I was listed as an emergency contact for one of your patients.”
“Oh I see.” Dr. Ashton responded. His voice had switched from its cheerful disposition to a slightly grave tone.
Mia quickly stumbled along with her thoughts,
“You know, I think you may have the wrong person, because nobody I know, who, could potentially have me as an emergency contact has been ill or admitted to the hospital recently.”
“Well Ms. Hamilton, I called in regards to a patient by the name of Maxmillan Hinterland? Does the name sound familiar?” asked Dr. Ashton.
His question was answered with an audible gasp.
A gasp subsequently followed by a silence. The silence stretched on for a while and was broken when Dr. Ashton cleared his throat.
“Ms. Hamilton? Are you still there?”
“It’s Mia.” She whispered.
“Just call me Mia.”
“Okay Mia. So then, can I take that as a yes?” he asked.
“Yes Dr. Ashton. I know Max…I just didn’t think or even expect Max to still have me as his emergency contact.” She breathed the words into the phone…still dazed that Max had listed her as his emergency contact after all these years.
“Well I was trying to get in touch with his next of kin, but his friends said Max had no family to speak of, and his files had you listed as his emergency contact. So you were our next best shot; unfortunately, we were unable to get a hold of you.” Dr. Ashton stated.
He paused momentarily before continuing.
“Everything has been sorted and taken care of now though, so thank you for calling back.” He said slowly, followed by a sigh.
“Oh okay. Well I’m glad everything is resolved.” Mia answered hesitantly, before the Doctor’s words fully registered with her.
“Oh shit! Oh my God I’m sorry, I didn’t mean to swear, but I mean, I just meant to say, or ask rather…What is Max doing at the hospital? Is he better now? Is he still in the hospital?” Mia sputtered question after question.
“I see.” Dr. Ashton replied.
“Well Mia would you be able to come by the hospital today?” he asked.
“Sorry Doc, can’t do. I’m actually flying out later today.” Mia replied.
“Why? Is it an emergency? Do I need to be at the hospital to sign something or okay anything for Max?” she questioned.
“No no, that’s not necessary. It’s just easier for me to have this conversation face to face rather than over the phone.” He replied.
“Well before I proceed, are you currently sitting down?” he asked.
Mia looked at her phone with a strange expression.
“Yes?” she replied, though it sounded more like a question.
“Doctor Ashton, no offense, but these questions are getting me a little worried. Is everything okay with Max?” she asked while grabbing her coffee mug a little tighter.
“Well Mia, what I have to say is definitely not easy, and I want to make sure that wherever you are is relatively safe and comfortable. I do apologize for the manner in which this is being done.” He replied in as soothing a tone as he could muster.
This was always the hard part.
“Okay…now I’m definitely getting a little worked up. Please just get to the point already.” Mia snapped.
“Well Mia, I’m sorry to be the one to have to tell you this. Max was brought in by the EMS early yesterday because of severe head trauma as a result of his fight. He lost consciousness after being knocked out in a fight and slipped into a coma.”
Dr. Ashton pauses to allow the news to sink in and all he hears in response is a sharp intake of air.
When he realized she wasn’t going to say anything, Dr. Ashton continued.
“At the time of admission, he was unresponsive to any visual or auditory stimuli. What I mean is that he wasn’t responding to light or sound signals. We did everything we could Mia; he was even put on life support. He was declared brain dead and taken off life support earlier this morning, as per Max’s wishes. I’m really sorry you had to find out this way, and, I’m truly sorry for your loss. If there’s anything at all that I can do during this difficult period, please do let me know.”
And the only sound that escaped her mouth, following an audible gasp was,
3 Years Ago
‘Today you shoved her… so not too many questions were asked as to what happened and how she ended up here today. But, who is to say that tomorrow you won’t punch the living daylights out of her? She’s going to brush it off as an accident; something that was beyond your control, but you know, it won’t be something beyond your control dammit. How will you live with yourself? How will you even be able to look at yourself if something were to happen to her because of you?’
The weight of the words looping through his mind was weighing him down more than the guilt coursing through his veins. Waiting at the ER was never a fun experience for anybody, but waiting there with so much guilt and even more unanswerable questions about questionable scenarios made this one of the worst trips yet for him.
After hours of waiting, he finally saw her heading out towards him with a smile of reassurance, which did help him feel relieved. Despite the incidents over the past few weeks, he couldn’t quite understand how she was always able to know exactly what to say or do to calm him down. For a moment he wondered if they sold pills or meds like that. This was the 3rd or 4th time, he couldn’t remember any longer and personally he was getting tired of having to go through this repetitive cycle of unpredictable behavior and unforeseen consequences. It was time to make a decision, or at least make THE decision…the one that had been rolling around in his head for the last few weeks, maybe even months if he was being honest with himself. He knew things weren’t getting better, in fact, in his opinion they were getting far worse. He couldn’t seem to keep his temper in check, anything minor seemed to set him off; it triggered so much anger and rage that sometimes he didn’t even recognize who he was anymore.
Then she stepped into his line of sight, and what he saw sent a shiver down his spine and had his heart sinking. Her smile no longer registered, all he saw was the sling and he couldn’t help but look down and away from her. He could feel the tears in his eyes, as he realized that his fears were slowly being realized. He clamped his jaws tight in an effort to rein in the tears. But it was now crystal clear to him as to what he had to do next. This was going to be the hardest thing he’d ever done in his entire life, and he was quite certain once everything was done with he would never be the same; and, only time was a witness and testament to the truth in his thoughts.
Back to the Present
“Max! MAX! Can you hear me?” a voice shouted out.
‘Hey man, who is this scene-stealer? And why on Earth are you yelling? Can you not see I’m kinda busy at the moment trying to make sure she sees me.’
Max is looking towards Mia and notices that Mia sees him and is walking towards him with a huge smile on her face. His excitement growing, the only thought that comes to his mind is,
‘Oh man yes she saw me! Wait, oh no, I’m all stinky, bloody and sweaty after this fight. I can’t even hug her, think about it, who would want to when you’re at your grossest state?! Do I have time to shower? No she’s already headed my way. Oh well…’
“MAX! How many fingers am I holding up Max?! Max…” more commands and shouts follow.
‘Dude seriously stop with the hollering. And wait what? Did Mia speed-walk or something? How’d she get so close so fast? She’s extending her hand out to me, with a smile to die for. Wow she looks radiant…well yeah it’s Mia she always looks radiant.’
Mia extends her hand out to him, her smile growing and glowing with warmth, and the softness of her brown eyes filling the space between them with a sense of familiarity. A familiarity filling Max with the warmth of love, security and calm that Mia’s mere presence always seemed to do once upon a time. Mia opened her mouth as though ready to say something to Max when…
“MAX! C’mon dammit, how many fingers am I holding up?! Can you hear me?!”
Max is ready to rip this person’s head off. He literally yells the words,
“SHUT UP AND GET OUTTA MY FACE!”
Only thing is, the guy yelling at him doesn’t seem to hear a thing Max is saying and continues with his questions. Max tries again, he can hear himself scream the words, but for some reason the guy can’t hear him.
Right before blinking his eyes he sees the guy yell,
And right after blinking his eyes his vision is filled with Mia, extending her hand out and talking to him.
“Max” she says softly.
Her voice seems to fill the void he’d manage to forget every time he got into that fight ring…the one that’s been haunting him for 5 whole years.
“Max…sweetie, take my hand.” She looks at him and indicates with her eyes.
Max is nothing short of confused. While he is delighted Mia is here, it feels like 2 different lives are messing with his head and playing simultaneously.
‘What? Mia…what are you doing here? Aren’t you supposed to be at your own wedding?” he asks out of confusion
“Don’t get me wrong, I love that you’re here and I love you, but…what are you doing here?” he stumbles out.
He realizes what he’s said and his eyes widen in shock.
“Okay, I didn’t mean for all of that to come tumbling out as fast as it did. Sorry… well, I mean I’m not sorry for loving you but sorry for springing it on you literally in my second sentence. You know what I meant, I mean…” he kept backtracking.
“Aww come on Mia, help.” He groaned and stopped talking.
All he got in response was a smile. He saw Mia open her mouth to start talking.
He blinked his eyes and was taken back to the ring, and he saw Mia crouching over him saying,
“Max…No no MAX!”
‘Wait a second, what? How did her voice get manly?! What the hell..’
He fluttered his eyes rapidly and he was taken back to where it was just the two of them. There’s confusion clouding his face and eyes…. and then it hits him. He feels like the lightning rod struck by a bolt of lightning and he realizes exactly what is going on. It was time, sunset was almost here and he was about to ride off into the sunset; and the only person he ever wanted to ride off into the sunset with was standing right before him holding out her hand and asking him to take it. It didn’t matter if it was real or not; he was tired of holding on. What was he supposed to hold on for? And what was he supposed to hold on to? There was nothing left to anchor him, there was nothing left for him…not in a world that turned it’s back on him faster than the blink of an eye with such speed and force that it still hurt to breathe when he thought about it.
He hears them calling out to him again, but he knows where he’s going now. He looks at Mia’s face, her beautiful soulful smile, the only light that always guided him, looks at her outstretched hand and without hesitation or doubt grasps her hand and lets her lead him.
Well needless to say, these sorts of mishaps never rectify themselves that quickly. So of course, I didn’t see her the following weekend or the weekend after that…well it wasn’t until several weekends later (well…5 weekends to be precise, but who’s counting right?) that I saw her again. Up until that weekend I was timing my trips to the market to make sure I didn’t miss seeing her. I figured people liked to get mundane things like groceries out of the way as soon as possible. This weekend in particular though, I didn’t even bother with the time, it was a state of emergency sort of day that entailed lots of visitors and not enough food, wine or spirited beverages to get through the barrage of questions that were headed my way.
In my haste, I didn’t even bother looking for Ms. Fruit Cocktail; in fact, she completely slipped my mind…until I heard this soft lilting sound that seemed to reverberate within my chest. It was truly a weird feeling, I thought my heartburn had returned with the vengeance, but it felt different from my usual heartburn assaults.
How can I describe this feeling? It traversed the path of the emotional spectrum somewhere between being a light yet heavy and warm, settling, pressure alleviating, reassuring…hell comforting even sensation erupting from my chest and spreading like a wildfire through my veins. That reverberating sensation was so intense, that for a moment I foolishly thought my phone was going off…and me rifling through my pockets for my phone like an idiot, only showcased my complete ineptitude with emotions and feelings. I mean who has time for emotions when your life is potentially on the line with timelines and people to be fed?!
I followed the soft chuckle, well it felt more like I was being pulled towards the source…you know, like a magnetic pull, where she was the magnet and I was the metallic debris gravitating towards her. It wasn’t until I was right behind her that I realized I was standing right behind her, and my treacherous mind and body all acted on it’s own accord without any authorization or rationalization. Before I realized what I was doing my hand reached out and tapped her back, which effectively put an end to that soft, magical sound…and suddenly brought me back to the current moment. I was met with a curious set of expressive eyes. If I thought I had attention issues with her laugh, those eyes stole my breath away. For some reason, I forgot what I was trying to tell her, her gaze searched mine with curiosity that transitioned to mild irritation due to my inability to speak. I can understand the irritation, hell I was feeling the same way with my inability to generate words. Sure I’m not much of a talker, and my fists do most of my talking, but I was quite capable of conducting a basic human conversation.
Once again I was snapped out of my head static by a voice that blew my mind away. I mean how is it even possible for someone to constantly keep renewing the definition of wonder? Bloody hell! Was there anything about her that didn’t render me ineffective and an utterly incapable human being? I blinked a few times before I registered her question…
“Can I help you?”
With a jolt, I thrust her bag in her direction, which effectively caused both of us to jolt at the unexpected response to her question. I think I wanted to face-palm myself right then, but that would make an awkward situation far worse…which she never failed to mention at every opportunity she got…especially when said opportunity involved family and friends.
“Erm okay? Why do you have my bag? Have you been stalking me? Are you one of those creepy dudes? In which case I must warn you I will pepper spray you to kingdom come if you try anything. I have ninja skills you DO NOT want to mess around with.”
Her eyes were like a book with rapid transitioning chapters, that I was getting quite mesmerized by…until there was a slight shriek to her next question.
“Hey creepy bag dude! Why aren’t you answering my questions?! Do I need to call the cops?!”
She quickly turned around to get the vendor’s attention to call law enforcement. That’s when I realized I needed to do or say something fast.
“Hey Fruit Cocktail! Calm down!”
Okay, maybe not my best moment as far as conversational skills were concerned, but she was losing her marbles.
“What did you just call me?” she asked with a look of indignation.
Ugh, I really hate small talk, that too face-palming small talk.
“Sorry, I don’t know your name and you were over-reacting with the incessant questions. I understand this situation looks odd, especially when a guy introduces himself by literally shoving a bag in your direction. But, this bag belongs to you, you swapped it out with mine a few weekends ago. There’s a particular diet regimen I follow, and basically you picked my bag up and left while all I wound up with when I got back to my place, was a bag full of berries and assorted fruits enough for a fruit cocktail and maybe even a tropical punch. Besides, I don’t like keeping things that don’t belong to me, and I like to return stuff if I know who it belongs to.”
I was met with a look of amazement after what I thought was a decent introduction, hell explanation. But as I learned over time, what you think isn’t what is perceived or received by the other party.
“So not only are you insulting me, now you’re admitting to stealing my groceries!!!! Give me one good reason why I shouldn’t call the cops on you?!”
“Erm because lady, if I stole your stuff why would I come up to you and return your bags and tell you that you swapped your fruit cocktail with my stellar food choices?”
“You mean the assortment of leaves that would put all herbivores to shame?”
“Aah so you do remember?” I remarked with a slight smirk on my face.
“Your food choices aren’t stellar, they’re very leafy and fibrous and really really fibrous. What do you do with those many vegetables? I mean I don’t even recognize some of them from the usual assortment that most normal people are used to.”
“Being normal is over-rated, and that’s why you’re you and I’m me. Some of us have a deeper appreciation for all the things the world has to offer. Besides they help me with my routine and regimens.”
“The only routine I see that assortment of fiber working out for is someone with chronic constipation. Besides who says routines and regimens? Are you in the military or part of law enforcement or something?” she countered with a slight smirk.
“No, I’m a fighter…”
“I thought the saying for guys like you was I’m a lover not a fighter?” she questioned with a smile.
I couldn’t stop myself from chuckling.
“No, I’m a fighter. You know, a pro fighter? You know, like boxing, MMA…or mixed martial arts as it’s called…that sort of thing”
Realization dawned in her eyes…quickly followed by her eyes giving me a quick once over.
“You don’t look like much of a fighter to me.” She muttered.
“Wow…judgmental much? Haven’t you heard that old saying? Don’t judge a book by it’s cover? Anyway, here you go, this belongs to you. I’m in a bit of a rush, and hopefully the next time we bump into each other you won’t ‘Pepper spray me to Kingdom Come’ Miss Fruit Cocktail?”
“And you’re terrible at coming up with monikers for people. Please stop calling me Fruit Cocktail. If you must address me, my name is Mia.”
“Aah Mama Mia it’s Fruit Cocktail time!’ I have no idea where that came from, but yeah that definitely wasn’t a smooth move on my part.
“Remember that pepper spray? It’s not just a decoration piece, my name feels threatened and I won’t hesitate to use it on you.” She replied with a smirk on her face and a twinkle in her eye.
“Alright alright, take it easy Mia. My name is Max, and it’s nice to meet you. As much as I’d love to stick around and talk, I really have to get going. Sorry, can we pick this up later?”
I think I had an apologetic look on my face, or at least I thought I did, as I looked frantically between my watch and her.
“Who is to say there will be a next time Max?” she asked in a rather curious tone.
I shrugged before answering.
“Well that’s just the way things work. Besides, fate and destiny play the strangest of games. Think about it, if we weren’t meant to meet, why would we swap names?”
“Who is to say my name is actually Mia?” she challenged.
“There’s an honesty in your eyes. You would’ve hesitated to give me your name if you weren’t comfortable doing so.” I replied confidently.
“Aren’t you just a little too full of yourself?”
“Eh…some habits are just too hard to break.” I replied.
“Listen I’m sorry, I truly am, but I must get going. Take care, have a wonderful day, enjoy your fruit cocktail and here’s until next time.” I said, as I extended my hand out.
She eyed me with a look of curiosity and a pinch of uncertainty, before she grabbed my hand and said,
“Until next time Max.”
With that she took her bag, and we returned to our lives. That was just the start of the whirlwind madness that was about to sweep us off our feet.
I still remember the look in her eyes, how her hair framed that beautiful face…wait did she have her hair up or down? Wait if I can remember that chain around her neck, it was always more noticeable with her hair up. Did we swap numbers that day? Or was it the next time around? Why can’t I remember? There was more to that day…but I guess the little things don’t matter, not when the most important details are still intact.
Those eyes could find and lead me anywhere. They guided me through so many storms, almost as if they’re my compass, or better yet, my lighthouse. They’re the home I was always able to return to until I couldn’t…then they became the only thing I kept fighting to see…like right in this moment. I see the panic in those beautiful brown eyes, and all I can do is smile back with hope and affirmation.
There’s nothing to panic about my love, it’s just another fall and what goes down eventually does come back up. There are tears swimming in her eyes, I try and reach out to wipe the tear tracks off her face, but for some reason I can’t seem to reach her face. Those shimmering eyes don’t deserve to have any tears, at least not on my account…. not anymore; she has shed enough and more of them in my name over time.
Why can’t my hands reach her face, and wipe those tears away? My arms are not bound, if anything I’m down on my side surrounded by all these people in a room drowned by silence. I can see their mouths moving, but I can’t hear the words, and everything is getting more distorted. The only thing I can see and feel with any amount of clarity are her eyes.
Here’s one of the first stories to make it to the Nano/Novella Series for 2016. It’s titled ‘Lights Out’ and is a story about love, loss, outcomes, and the curveballs life throws your way. Well as I mentioned on the page, each chapter will be a separate post of it’s own. Feel free to share your thots, sentiments, feedback, queries in the space below. Happy Reading!
Lights out kid….lights out.
Is this how it ends?
The din surrounding me seems to be quieting down. There seems to be a newfound silence that’s sweeping the arena. I can’t really see what’s going on, my vision has gone past being a blurry haze. It’s as though a fog has descended and it just seems to get thicker with every passing moment. I guess this is as fitting an end as any for someone like me…going out on a high, as beaten, broken and battered as I’ve always been. There honestly is nothing more left to live or die for, I’ve made my peace, now it’s time for my reckoning. I’ve lived, loved, lost and died a lifetime’s worth.
Wait…when did it get so quiet? I see shadows within the fog. Is someone waving at me? Are they holding their fingers in front of my face? I can’t tell…my eyes are beyond swollen shut. Are they asking me questions? I don’t even know anymore and to be honest I could care less. There’s a gentle breeze blowing in here…did they turn up the air? Is something going on? I just need a few more minutes to rest down here before I can get up and out of the way. I guess they were right after all…it is worse this time around, definitely much worse.
She’s here though, I can feel it in my bones…she actually made it…despite everything. Our love may not be as legendary as all those that have been lived and written. It was simple until it wasn’t. Life sometimes gives you a chance to live, feel and breathe and relish each and every one of it’s infinite moments…it almost seems too good to be true. And then it’s over, before you even realize what’s happened. Reality and all of its friends know how to play their cards and the next thing you know, the most precious moments become nothing but distant, fading memories.
No amount of holding on to mementos like their old shirts and pillows, or, smelling the scent of their perfume makes the pain dissipate. Each day is harder than the one before; you’re left behind as nothing more than a mere shell of the person you used to be. You learn how to read cues when people hesitantly ask you ‘how are you?’
You respond accordingly, albeit semi mechanically, an answer well rehearsed and now practiced with flair and finesse. You see the look of relief pass along their faces, glad they don’t have to ask you the difficult questions or stand around awkwardly trying to answer your dilemmas. Despite it all, she made it here today, and that’s all that matters.
Our story started in a farmer’s market where she was haggling or trying to at least, and in the end snagged my bag of goodies. I got home with a whole bunch of strawberries and blueberries and all these damn fruits.
Funny, I thought she wouldn’t make it, I was told she’s getting married. What a fitting if not ironic way to celebrate life…when a new one begins an old one is fading and ready to be put out. Things could’ve been different, with different end results and consequences. I guess this is where the regrets and reflections portion of life kicks in…but on a more serious note what is up with this deafening silence. I still smell her perfume in the air…come on eyes now is not a good time to start shutting down for a little nap; you might miss catching a glimpse of her. Tell you what, how about I strike a deal with you huh? Let’s re-live the story once more and then you can have yourself a nice little nap okay?
The next time I saw her was at the Farmer’s Market the following week. Well I made a pointed effort to track Miss Fruity Cocktail and give her bags back to her…well that, and, I needed food as well. At least this way I knew I wouldn’t be losing or switching bags this time around.