Once Upon A Time (Knitting)

She picked up the needles at 11.  She learned to make a single knit stitch from her grandma, the Old Witch.  And she repeated that knit stitch again and again until her needles had released a scarf.  It was an awkward scarf, misshapen.  The music of the needles had sung beautifully, but her hands had created such grotesqueness. 

The Witch counseled her that the magic of the needles took time.  With additional practice someday she would create the amazing gossamer wings of her Witch-mother.  But first she needed to make many scarves with her needles.  “There are many scarf souls that need to born,” the witch told her, “that is your work now, your needles your responsibility.”

She wasn’t ready for their responsibility at 11.  She put the needles down.  The song called to her, but it had a mocking bitter edge after that.  She knew what she would produce.  She knew it could not equal the sound.  She looked for her magic in other realms, even as the Witch-mother beckoned with the song.
Thoughout her teens this song followed her, luring her, even as she rebelled and fought to find other ways to create. Quilts, jackets, dresses and even an elaborate corset were completed on her sewing machine.  The machine kept the magic at bay, it kept it at a distance.  The machine allowed her some sense of control over her Gift. 

“You can’t deny your destiny, daughter of mine,” her Witch-mother scolded with a twinkle in her eye.  “You’ll see in time.  You fight against your nature, but your nature will out.”

 She fought a long, hard campaign against that destiny–vicious, even.  On her deathbed, the Old Witch bypassed the Witch-mother to give the girl her grimiore  and her tools.  In the ultimate act of rebellion, she threw them away, desecrating the magick her Grandmother had meant for her.  Then heavy of heart, she had returned to college with an empty space she claimed she needed for other things. 

The Witch-mother silently retrieved them until the day her daughter grew in wisdom enough to want these tools for herself.  She grieved for the hard path the daughter chose, but she understood she must need to take this path. 

***
The clacking of her needles accompanied her everywhere.  Industriously, she worked away creating her creations, making simple pragmatic items she could wear in the cold.  The song was muted in her proficiency.  She could barely hear it anymore.  Her knitting was just knitting and served its purpose—warmth, the occasional gift for a new baby.  It surprised her to discover her mother had held on to the items her grandmother had bequeathed her, and wounded her that her mother had left her own collection to the 7 year old girl sitting next to her, working on a simple garter scarf.  On her mother’s death bed, she had learned of it.

“The Gift sometimes bypasses a generation.  Your daughter has the Gift.  Don’t let it die in me.”  The Witch-mother looked at her only daughter a long while before she became too weak and drifted into a state of unconsciousness. 

Not a word of love, her daughter thought without anger, just of that gift.  She wondered at the secrets in her mother’s eyes.  The gulf of their estrangement after high school never quite healed over.  They were not of a similar mind.

Sitting on the train, the daughter worked on two socks.  Two tiny strips of fabric centered on two cables.  These cables attached to her needles and with the smallest of motions slowly the sock would emerge.  Each days commute brought another quarter of an inch, even an inch on a long commute, of sock.  Each day the sock would grow long enough to cover her foot.  Until the day came when she would finish and cast off the pair from her needles.  Her mother had called this releasing the socks’ souls into the wild world.  She laughed at the memory—of the fanciful way her mother spoke about a hobby.  “Daughter, I always felt a thrill on the day to release one of my Creations.  So much time and effort into each one.  There are no words for the joy of this process.  It’s the answer and the mystery in life.”

She wondered sometimes at this—what she now treated as a family secret—the crazed menopausal minds of her grandmother and mother.  She worried for her daughter who she overheard her with her dolls describing the family’s magick.  The Old Witch and the Witch-mother lived on in her mind in such a colorful and profound way—not as they really were, housewives who knit to pass the time—but as powerful witches who needles blazed forth creation.  She thought it dangerous to let these ideas linger in her daughter.  To let the family’s craziness become a contagion as her mother and grandmother had with each other.

There was no reason to believe in a shared song between the four generations.

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Sex. On. Legs. Part 3 – 101, Day 7

Today’s Prompt: Write a post based on the contrast between two things — whether people, objects, emotions, places, or something else.

Today’s twist: write your post in the form of a dialogue.

This is a continuation of these posts:  Part 1 and Part 2

Champagne

The best choice I made all reception? The stolen bottle of semi-decent champagne cooling in my hotel ice bucket. On my second glass, my mood is much brighter. Maybe it’s the release of the tension of the party. It’s hard to spend a day worried someone will reference a past that I’ve put as far behind me as possible. I can’t recall feeling this uncomfortable in my skin. It’s just having this time of my life in front of me.

Class failure.  That’s me. Images and humiliation race through my head for a moment. It’s hard to fail at something that means so much to you. It’s hard to forgive…me.

All my champagne bubbles pop at once and I move to change the channel and find a RomCom to distract me. I flip channels with the agility of an office worker who spends their evenings relaxing with the boob tube. I’m no social commentator, but maybe some funny tweets during a live broadcast to feel creative and like a creative.

Like the people at the party I can hear outside.

I look at the silly, expensive shoes, my fancy dress in the bride’s color. At least it was my choice and not a total waste of money. My hard earned secretarial dough. I slug some more champagne to get the bubbles back in my head.

“Champs,” I giggle. For a second I picture the fussy, perfectionist Real Housewife who nicknamed champagne, champs, judging my life. “I think you need less of an onion ring life and more of a champs lifestyle,” myself as Heather DuBrow declares. I giggle hysterically.

The bus leaves at 12pm tomorrow and it’s 8pm tonight. This is gonna be a long night if I’m making bad housewives jokes and laughing at them. I send out texts to my favorite friends, the folks apart of my current life.

I see it then. A sheet of semiburned paper someone must have slipped under the door in the last few minutes. I’m fairly certain it’s my letter, but I’m hoping not. My letter should have burned up in the bonfire.

I stare at it as I walk up.  Bits of it are gone, but it is a fragment of my letter.

I love you….but that would…make you miserable…do not return my feelings…kindness and distance. We…again…wish you the best…life.

I hear my voice and I am screaming with the horror, “Oh my god, why isn’t this burned up??”

“Oh my god, who brought this to me?!?” That hits me harder. Holy hell, who saw this shit?

“I don’t know why I found it. I never knew it was a love letter.” HIS voice. From the outside of my hotel room. He is standing in the hallway by my door.

“Of course you found it.” I slide down the door in dread. “Oh course, you did.”

“It came to me, Jules.” No, his voice is down here. He’s leaning on the other side of the door, this cheap thin door that doesn’t feel as solid now that I am listening through it.

“It was so many years ago.”

“You’re the one hiding in your room.”

“I don’t belong here. Ry. I was so happy to be included that I didn’t think about how I’d feel going backwards.”

“How is a wedding going backwards?” His tone accuses me of stupidity.

“I’ve made a life that doesn’t include anyone here…I don’t think it could.”

“Then you should have turned it down and stayed away, like you always did.” His voice is moving, irritated and dismissive, as he stands.

“Ry! Why did you bring this letter to me?” I scramble to open the door enough to see him as I lean against the doorframe.

He turns and looks down at me. Confused, drunk, a little tired. “I guess I hoped you’d grown.” He turns and takes a step away.

For the first time, I react, not in anger, but in my own truth, “I did grow. I just grew in a different direction.”

He never turns. The only sign he heard is the noticeable shrug of his shoulder and the pause in his stride.  I watch my first love walk away from me, for good this time. After all this time, I can finally accept he never felt anything for me; and that relieves me. I stare at the elevator doors for a long while.

“I need bubbles.”  That’s when I notice; he left an offering. “Fuck the glass.”

I start drinking a near full bottle, laughing at the texts my friends back home are sending me. New York City life, not a soul has a car. The party and people and the past recede until I nod off in the doorway.

The next morning everything hurts. The empty bottle and dead cell phone are all tucked underneath me, an uncomfortable bed. I find the remains of the letter cluthced in my hand:

I love you…and…wish you the best…life.

Sex. On. Legs. — Part 2 (The Letter — 101)

This is Part Two of this story (https://kimberlysparkle.com/2015/04/09/sex-on-legs-101-part-1/

I’m 35 and this is my second stint as bridesmaid. This time, it is an old college friend.  Back in the day, where I was shy, she was gregarious and it seems like our entire class is here. Of course, HE is here. He was Mr. Popularity with the men in the class and many of the ladies. I think of my friend, Casie and feel a pang. He’d broken her heart and she dropped out of school. An expensive private school education is a helluva thing to ghost on. He’d broken my heart and made it clear he despised me. He accused me of being obsessed with him. I refused to be run off.

I’d seen him earlier with the groom, but so far I’d avoided him and all the awkwardness. Honestly, it’s mostly awkward on my side, but the avoidance makes me feel safer. What do you discuss with a man who so deeply misjudges you? I’ve spent the first half of the reception heading to the other side of the room, dancing off with old friends and getting a refreshment whenever he even looked my way.  I’ve been supersuccessful and, I am pretty sure, undetected. Craning my neck one way and the other, the coast appears to be clear to head outside and score a puff of 420. I turn the corner gingerly and step right into him.

“You’re avoiding me.”

“…” I am avoiding him and denying it seems stupid.

Somehow, he looks sexier with age. He’s grown into his body, and his face is leaner, so many laugh lines around the eyes. It occurs to me he’s had a happy life and that makes me happy for him. He remains sexy as hell. The kick of sexual awareness to my gut surprises the heck out of me.

Annoyed hazel eyes meet mine. “It’s ridiculous.”

“I agree, but it’s my choice to be ridiculous.” As always when we speak,he accuses and I defend. I feel my hands fist on my hips, and my chin jut out rebelliously.

“I really don’t care.” The gut kick becomes painful. “I wanted to return this to you.”  He presses an unopened letter into my hand. I know this letter. I wrote it as a peace truce during the worst of our battles in school. I considered it a big success until the gossip reached my ears.  Gossip he’d spread.  The bride was one of my few close friends from school I’d stayed in continual contact with.

“Why didn’t you open it?” It occurs to me that the hours I spent laboring over this letter, carefully weighing my words, were wasted. He never read it. He simply chose not to speak to me again.

“I figured since you wouldn’t speak to me that I didn’t need to know what you wrote.” His lips twist bitterly? cruelly? I can’t decide because I can’t help but see him through my years old hurt.

The full impact of the rejection hits me and I shove the letter into my sleeve and turn on my heel and walk away.

He’s speaking in the distance, but he’s moved on to another discussion. The words rattle in my head, the pain and first love rattle through my stressed system.

I love you.

I could draw you pictures or write you poems from my love, but that would just make you miserable.

I recognize that this is one sided and that you do not return my feelings.

I ask for your kindness and your distance. We won’t speak again, but I do wish you the best in your life.

I turn the letter over and over in my hands. I’d written more but a few lines made up the gist of it all.  I watch him from a distance. Always a people pleaser and still a people pleaser. I feel a laugh bubble up inside. He hated me for rejecting him and the entire time, he’d had my heart. He’d set out  to reject me and he’d pushed me away from far more than himself. There wasn’t a person present I’d want to discuss this with. Simply put, how far had his gossip spread all those years ago?

A bonfire had been a tradition for Saturday night drinking and someone had made sure we had one today. I flung the envelope with my faded, familiar scrawl into the flames and watched it burn. Laughing and crying, a little hysterically, I decided to leave. I notice a scrap of it arc up and float over the reception, the pot smokers, the dancers, the aging dreamers that I met in art school.

I didn’t belong here. I go to grab my coat, say my goodbyes and head to bed at the hotel we’ve rented next door to the catering space.

I don’t see the paper land in the reception’s crush. I don’t see him follow its path from the fire with his eyes, smoothly move to make sure it lands at his feet and finally read what remains of the letter.

Sex On Legs – 101 – Part 1

Today’s Prompt: Write about a loss: something (or someone) that was part of your life, and isn’t any more. [It can be a fiction.]
Today’s twist: Make today’s post the first in a three-post series.

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He was the sexiest man in jeans I had ever seen.

Sex. On. Legs.

As I looked at him in the spotlight in front of me, I stopped breathing.

The second time that happened to me, I was watching Thor and it was Chris Helmsworth. No a single woman in that theater appeared to breathe because we all gasped for air in unison, a couple of minutes after.  There were a lot of nerd boyfriends sinking into their chairs, mortified. There was nothing personal about it, except for the shared awareness that that was a hot man on screen. I’m pretty sure I could have started a new community of like-minded feminists from the raw sexual arousal in the room. We want sex the way we want it…and NOW…

The first time it happened to me, I was young and he was young. We were in a group of fellow students  It felt like the most important thing that had happened to me.

He and his jeans sauntered to the front of the room of nervous students. Cocky and insecure, he checked out his audience.  He both thought we were enraptured with him, yet was certain we were already over him. I missed it.

All I could see was his hazel eyes, and then his mouth, with its full lips. A patchy bit of dark brown hair covered his cheeks. Broad shoulders that tapered into narrow hips and powerful thighs. He had hands like a pianist’s hands, soft and gentle, but squared off like the son of a workman. His knuckles and forearms were dusted with dark hair, like my dad. I couldn’t breathe.

Out tumbled a voice like whiskey and honey, filled with warmth.  He was a singer, he said. He had a ska band in college. He referenced Star Wars with confidence. His ska band was called Atreyu. You could hear how good his voice was just from speaking.

“If someone had said describe your dream man, dude, he’s it,” the unguarded thought occurred to me. A recognition settled into the pit of my stomach. I was going to do more than crush on this man. I was in deep shit.

Quickly, maybe even desperately, I skimmed up and down his body, looking for perfection. “The perfect man, the unattainable man, that’s what will save me now.” Instead, I saw flaws. His ears stuck out and his nose flared out too widely for his features.  These were deeply humanizing flaws.

The recognition expanded and became a dead weight in my center.

He looked like the sexy boy next door and smirked like he thought he was getting one over on us. I didn’t notice. I was too bowled over by his charisma to read it.  A couple of years of maturity on me and I would have seen him for the truth: he was the kind of man that thinks he’s a CEO, when he’s really a mid-level manager shunted into a position where he can do the least harm to the company.

It didn’t matter to me. I knew. I would lose my heart to this boy; and he would be disgusted with the gift.

Photo: Mike Mozart

Free Wine

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I watch as red wine splashes down the front of my white button-up shirt.  For some reason I giggle maniacally. Freedom, I guess.  Then I remember that red wine will never come out and I no longer own a work appropriate shirt.

I work at the restaurant in 7 hours, so I strip frantically and scrub maniacally.  My shirt is definitely ruined.

Now I cry. I need my job, but not enough to buy an extra shirt.

That’s freedom, I laugh, as I open a second bottle of red wine stolen from my ex-boss.

313-285-HOME 

313DayI grew up just south of Detroit. It wasn’t a place I got to go much, but I wanted to go there.  Every time I went, we ended up some place fun: The Science Museum, theatre, the Detroit Institute of Arts, a Tigers game. Detroit was a place you went to go somewhere and DO something.  The good bands played there in the coolest venues. I knew it was where Motown was, because I saw it on the labels of my Jackson 5 45s.

I wasn’t from Detroit, but I claimed it.  Like Motown, my dad said, Berry Gordy moved it to LA years ago.

Smile for Me, Baby

I am 12 and sitting in a front row desk in my advanced English class.  A fellow student sits down at the desk next to mine.  I ignore her because experience has taught me that my fellow students do not want the social scourge of the 7th grade to speak to them.  She appears upset by something and focused on her books anyway.

A few moments pass and I hear something unusual—a friendly voice saying “Hello?”

I look up and find my classmate smiling at me.  A big friendly smile I return. For a brief shining moment, I see our similarities.  Long brown hair, hazel eyes, we are both overweight and boyfriendless.  We’re in the Seitz Jr. High uniform in 1989:  French-rolled jeans, turtleneck under a sweatshirt, gold necklace dangling.  I am beaming at someone, maybe a new friend?

She opens her mouth to speak and I lean forward with a bit of excitement.  She speaks clearly and with great precision.

“You have the stupidest smile I’ve ever seen.”

I can’t believe what I’m hearing.  All my life people have complimented my smile, how friendly it is, how kind.  It is one of the few things on my body that I can unequivocally say is AWESOME. “Excuse me,” I sputter.

“You have the stupidest smile I’ve ever seen.” Remarkably, this is said with even greater precision.  Not bad for a tween with a mouth full of marbles.

I can’t help it.  As I stare at her now victorious eyes, I laugh and laugh and laugh.  I can barely choke out, “No, no, I don’t.  What is your damage?”  I laugh so hard I have tears streaming down my face.  I snort.

I watch as this girl who was so puffed up a moment before, deflates and slides deeper and deeper into her chair.  I kinda feel bad for her in that moment.  I mean, how lame are you when the social outcast of your entire grade thinks you’re a ridiculous loser?

Marissa’s monologue, 2014

(This is from my first play with some editing, and updating. This is the first thing I ever wrote that I fell in love with. I would change it so much more if I knew where it belonged.  This is delivered to a character who is considering suicide and may be a bit of a drama queen. )

My brother OD’ed. My family’s whole relationship to each other to changed completely.

My brother OD’ed on pills and some hard ass shit liquor. He figured visually this would be the least damaging thing to see for whoever found him.  That’s what his letter said.  He was wrong.  I found him. I walked through the door and there laid Dan strung out on the couch. Nothin’ unusual.  He was a user. So I said “Hey, bro.”, and he muttered some incoherent thing back to me, and that was that.

I turned on the TV, and for about a half hour I watched a dumbass  sitcom. I was watching a stupid, motherfuckin’ sitcom, and my brother lay there dying. I don’t know when, he just started moaning—apologizin’ left and right for somethin’. So I reached over to wake him up—I figure he’s having a nightmare—and I don’t remember how he felt or anything spectacular—I just remember thinking, “Oh my god, he’s dying.”

I remember I called 9-1-1. I remember the ambulance came, and I remember my parents running into the hallway demanding to know how Dan was. My brothers and sisters came—all the family. No one talked to me, no one even noticed me, except Dan. I was the first person he asked about when he came to, first damned thing out of his mouth.

Later, when we’d left his room, my folks yelled at me for not getting an ambulance sooner. They blamed me because they didn’t wanna blame themselves, and they still do. But I’m not gonna kill myself as punishment. I don’t consider it punishing myself to kill myself too. Or settling the score, or whatever else is floating through your lunatic mind.

When you tell me your suicidal, it tells me you don’t have a shitload of respect or concern for anyone, and maybe too much interest in the somebody who already fuckedyou over. So, you just keep wallowing in your self-pity because it’s easy. It’s so damned easy. And keep on hurting people friggin’ care enough to fight for you. Cause you are worth fighting for. So, fuck you.

Imaginary Ryan – A Mythical Ending?

Imaginary Ryan was born in a snowstorm, by a garden window, filled with Christmas decorations. Over local wine, a witches’ brew, catching up and shooting the shit evolved into a drunken bliss. I was explaining twitter and bravo and who the Ryan I make so many jokes about was.

“I swear, Cynthia, it’s like he’s imaginary to most of them!  I mean, to be fair, if I describe him, he sounds like the hero of a Harlequin romance… tall, good looking, snazzy pocket squares…Sometimes I wonder what would happen if his fans saw Ryan in a normal context, like a date, or at a supermarket, how they would react? Would they still think Imaginary Ryan is the most perfect man ever?  I mean I know he’s an actor, probably a rich kid, he’s probably a jerk, I mean, a fun, silly jerk, but a self-centered jerk, nonetheless.”

“Sounds like a great story to me.”

“A self-centered TFB?”

“No!  You just said it.”

“What?”

“What would happen if the audience saw Imaginary Ryan in a normal context? Is Imaginary Ryan the most perfect man ever?” Redefining the term leaning in for me, forever, Cynthia sips wine and demands, “Tell me this story.”

“Haha!  They’d all freak out.  Imaginary Ryan would the perfect boyfriend, the best date, sensitive, the soul of a dreamer, and a moneymaker, kind to old ladies and children, a hero who saves lives and oh yeah, you’re his princess, so he’d take exquisite care of you.  He’d take you on a date or three dates, specifically, before sex. Because this relationship is by the book–the book of our expectations of what relationships should be.”

“Perfection! I wanna know what kind of dates this guy takes you on.”

“Aaah–No one is perfect, Cyn. I can’t see that happening. I’d punch a guy that perfect in the face.”

“I was there the last time you did that and he wasn’t perfect, Kim. It’s a story. What would it take for you to tell this story?”

“I’d tell the dates like they are really happening, but the pictures would be awful, terrible shop jobs, like obviously. Then I’d DM people, drop hints that I think it’s real, like Nascar Girl. (old school LiveJournal crazy busted for stalking crazy.) Full on convince people that I am crazy crazy.  We do the whole relationship in a month and just when you think he’s gonna propose….”

“what…?”

“He turns into a purple dragon, flies around my apartment, destroying everything and then directly into my TV, shattering it in an explosion of electrical shazams–sparks!”

“Ha! Yes!”

“It’d be a tribute to Andy Kaufman.”

“How?

“Andy Kaufman climbs out of the broken television set. It’s the clip from Saturday Night Live with Mighty Mouse.  It plays.  Scene.

Andy Kaufman performs Mighty Mouse – watch more funny videos

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“Ha! No one will get it. It’s been 40 years since Taxi and 20 years since the Jim Carrey film.”

“OMG…Taxi was still on when I was a kid…feeling some feels here…”

“You’re not that old…not as old as me…so how do you say Andy Kaufman to people your age?”

I lean back and really let the scene fill my brain.  I nod slowly when an image emerges.

“When Andy Kaufman puts the needle on the record, the clip instantly changes to this:

And then the words, THE END”

“So we know it’s over? Like in elementary school?”

I nod.

“OMG….That’s hysterical.”

I lean back and, as if on a subway car, I take all the room needed for my enormous ovaries by spreading my legs…wide. Then, crossing my legs, I fold my arms behind my head.  “It’s motherfuckin’ mythic, baby.  It’s a goddamned mythical ending.”

“You should totally do that.”

The End

Imaginary Ryan – A Happy Ending

As I stare into into Ryan’s now changed face. I realize he did this for me. I feel so much guilt. I was just upset that Ryan had blown me off after being so attentive. I feel so insecure. He’s not my usual type and I don’t know for sure what he sees in me. Insecurity is not a good decision making tool.

“I’m sorry.” I offer. I don’t think I realized how out of my depth I feel. “I used to guys that are bigger jackasses. I dont’t know hoe to react to you.”

“It’s okay. I’m a little freaked out at how well it’s been going. It’s been comfortable and exciting at the same until tonight,” Ryan laughs. “That doesn’t happen everyday.”

“I enjoy the time I spend with you, Ryan. I just have to learn to trust that you are real. I really didn’t mean you needed to change yourself for me. Not like that.”

“Good. I’m glad. That’s important to me.”

We look at each other. I can’t hold it in any longer.

“I love you.” We say it together.

“JINX?!” Laughing Ryan pulls me into his arms and I melt into a warm circle of love.

“Any idea how I change back? I kind of prefer my original face.”

“No idea. Maybe after a nap?” I wink suggest.

Ryan scoops me up and off he carries me.

ETA: We lived happily ever after. He woke up fine the next day. Just a bit of a hang over.