she wasn’t so unlike the others

 

the girl came to be

as an unnoticed list of

what-evers,

of who cares,

in a two-toned,

dried up land:

 

brown hair, small wave

pear shaped, round faced

stale laugh,

stoic collarbone

 

helplessly female.

 

in blacks and navies,

maybe reds when she’d

try to turn faces,

she climbed through

most years with a

white flag on her head.

 

falling into beds was

easy

for the girl

no one

wanted anyway,

just to say she did,

just to say she

wasn’t so unlike

the others

bathed in gold.

 

so she ended

how she’d began,

closing her eyes,

lying back in that

porcelain throne,

pinning on the badge of it figures

to a chorus of

oh well,

so what.

 

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Unremembered (Part 3)

If you haven’t read the other installments, click here for part one and here for part two. (This story comes in small increments!)

 

Days, weeks, months later we were still intertwined; her toothbrush stood stoically in the holder on my bathroom sink, remnants of her hairspray textured the mirror, soft threads of her hair stuck quietly to my pillowcase. No cigarettes. That afternoon on the corner by the bar, when she’d searched my face and struggled to remember, had faded to the black smoke of a dying fire, dreamlike.

 
When Lily moved in the cardboard boxes that held her belongings sat like an Egyptian pyramid for days in the front hall. She’d move from one to another when she needed something, like a hair brush or a t-shirt.

 
“Why don’t you get to unpacking those?” I mentioned one morning, pouring coffee into my favorite chipped mug while she sat cross-legged in one of my work shirts. “I’ll help, you know that.”

 
She flipped her hair to one side of her perfect moon face and peeked at me from behind a curtain of brunette. She said nothing, only smirked in some wicked, confident way, and went on leaving coffee rings on the kitchen counter. Ever smitten with her abruptness I peeled opened the refrigerator, grabbed the carton of eggs, and cracked open my uneasiness in a mixing bowl.

 
Lily loved me, I could feel it. I felt it in the warmth she left behind in every room of our home, in the steadiness of her breath at night, when there was nothing left but us, darkness; I inhaled it in fresh pots of coffee and the sweet, familiar perfume she seemed to wear permanently. So when she came to me, months after she’d moved in, and told me she needed to leave for a few days – she mentioned the ocean, vastness, something about meditation – I focused on the way she cupped my hand in hers instead of the idea that she was leaving me. My smile and nod had proven as heavy as the signing of my own signature, and from there our life continued in that perfectly stitched, undulating way that unspoken secrets between lovers allowed it to do.

 
Lily with her weekly leaving, me with my faulty, stubborn unknowingness.

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The Most Outlandish Tale About Anxiety and Depression Ever Told.

 

Wait wait, the story doesn’t start here!  This is a blog hop, people!  Click HERE to start from the beginning.

I have the tendency to park at least 8,000 miles away from the mall, somewhere near that one overhead light that blew out weeks ago and no one ever fixed, the only sign of civilization a flattened soda bottle and an empty fast food wrapper and some guy in dirty jeans and a windbreaker in the middle of July smoking a cigarette by the soda bottle and fast food wrapper.

So now I was half walking half running to my car, fully expecting the elderly lady with the white hair to pop out from the shadows with a nail file pointed in my direction. My stomach was in knots and suddenly my fingers had turned into carrots, and there I was fumbling with my keys horror movie style while the invisible villain breathed down my neck.

Finally inside, I locked the doors and whirled around to check the backseat. As usual, no serial killers.

 
Almost home, my breath had finally gone from about-to-give-birth to some definition of normal, and instead of searching for a paper bag to breathe into I was now in want of wine, tightly drawn curtains and some depressing ‘90s alternative rock, so I changed into the Disney pajama pants I hadn’t washed in at least two weeks (they smelled a little questionable but I put them on anyway) and crawled into bed, ready to break the world record for feeling the most sorry for myself.

Click HERE to continue the story.

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Unremembered (Part 2)

 

The sun was just beginning to dust the sky in pinks and greys and we were still on her doorstep, a modest collection of empty beer bottles at our ankles. It was early October, the air clean and brittle, and our voices floated unnoticed into the still sleeping morning. She tucked her chin into my shoulder and I inhaled her – sweet, floral, like home.

“My parents will be up soon,” she said. I knew it was time to tear myself away from her, at least for now.

“Will I see you again?”

She smiled, effortlessly mysterious. I hung on her gestures, the constant, brilliant glow of her.

A month passed before I saw her again. I’d deflated weeks before; intoxicated after one long, hazy night, I’d drifted through the week with nothing more than silence on her end. One phone call attempt went ignored, and so I quickly gave up. Obsessiveness never looked good on me.

I was trekking back home with a sandwich and a carton of milk when I saw her, smoking a cigarette and chatting with a friend outside of a brick-walled corner bar one block from my place. She wore a wool scarf that swallowed her neck and chin, black leather boots that hugged her legs just below the knee. I didn’t remember her smoking when we met.

After a second of debate I tucked the milk and sandwich under one arm and approached her.

“Lily?” I forced a smile. There was something different about her now – instead of comfort I felt purely uncomfortable. She turned to me and for a moment there was a look of concern on her face as she scanned over me, as if she was trying to remember how we knew each other. Internally, I was collapsing. Quickly I began to feel small, pathetic, and childlike. How could she forget?

Then something changed, like the imaginary light bulb had clicked on and her lips parted in a sunburst of a smile.

“Matt!” She yelled, and threw her arms around me like an old friend. My own arms hung limply at my sides for a moment, then slowly I wrapped them around her waist. I couldn’t stop myself, even in all the confusion. Her friend, a pale girl with long brown hair, looked bored as she pulled out another cigarette.

“How have you been?” she said, stomping out her own cigarette with one leather boot.

“Um,” I opened and closed my mouth awkwardly, ransacking my brain for words, for anything. “I was surprised I never heard from you.” I couldn’t help but get to the point.

“Sorry,” she said, tucking a piece of hair behind her ear. “I’ve just been busy, I guess.”

She didn’t look busy now, standing on the corner, beer on her breath. Still, that warm, familiar rush began to return until I’d forgotten the strangeness of it all and we were melting into each other on two bar stools in the middle of the day, my milk souring on the floor beneath us.

***

Click here for Part 1; follow along for more installments!

 

 

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Don’t Read

Nicole Marie:

Seriously, read this.

Originally posted on The Hungry Dog's Lair:

Don’t ever start reading. If you’re reading now I encourage you to stop. Those who read tend to get better at it and want to do more of it. It’s an addicting behavior and it will start to control all aspects of your life. There is no such thing as a functioning readaholic. It exercises the brain in much the same way that going to the gym exercises the muscles of your body. If there’s one thing I hear everyone complaining about, it’s exercise. So stop reading now. Reading also improves concentration. The last thing we want is for our children to learn to sit for long periods of time without making a lot of noise. If we wanted them to do that we would just stuff them full of Ritalin and shove them in facilities where we make them do this for six to eight hours a day, so…

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5×5 With The Hook: Ericka Clay.

Originally posted on You've Been Hooked!:

There are literally hundreds of writers/bloggers whose work I admire enough to secretly worship and envy in equal amounts, but today we’re going to spend some time with someone truly special and gifted.

This is Ericka Clay at her happiest (to be honest, I’m sure there are moments when Ericka is happier but this isn’t that kind of blog), with her brand-spanking new book contract!

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 (Cue the “very special episode” music.)

But Ericka needs your help. As you’ll soon see, Ericka Clay is one helluva writer and glitterer of cats. But the world needs to know that as well. Enter the EC Readers, Ericka’s very own Mouseketeers. In her own words:

What is EC Readersyou may ask?  Just the hottest thing to happen to the Internet since I posted that photo of my husband half naked in a sombrero. The EC Readers is a group of reading and reviewing…

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Unremembered (Part 1)

 

Lily went missing on a Sunday, the day of rest. On Sundays we’d drape ourselves on tables and chairs around the house, drinking coffee from mugs adorned with our alma maters, cooking luxurious pasta dishes even though we rarely dined in (she could burn boiling water, I could barely make condensed soup), if only to match the hushed euphoria of the neighborhood that came with the sinking of the sun; stress was set out with Monday morning’s clothes, and on those evenings our cul-de-sac glowed with golden lamplight and blue-hued television screens. By dawn we were always heavy in sleep, a tangle of limbs and breath, a lasagna still cooling on the kitchen counter.

We were always together those days, except the day she disappeared. The weather was a Summer tease in early Spring – the first week of April and seventy degrees, a baking sun – and Lily wanted to take advantage with a jog.

“It’ll bring out those awful freckles on my shoulders, the ones you love so much,” she’d said with a laugh.

Her laughter was always so strangely appealing, like the blocky music that churned out of a Jack-in-the-box; it excited you, even if you already knew what to expect. She was a constant of beautiful predictability. So when she hadn’t come home by three I felt the knot in my stomach pick itself up, twisting slowly at first with caution, worry.

By four I was worrying a trail in our galley kitchen’s floor.

At six I was roaming the trails near our house like a tourist, arms stretched out in front of me as if it might get me to her sooner. I called her name until my throat felt like sandpaper and the trees began to taunt me. By eight I was somewhere deep in dirt and foliage, my head between my knees. I wailed and darkness swallowed me.

When I woke the curtains were tightly drawn. Days could have passed. I stretched my arms out over my head and sighed, my eyes barely open before the remembering began. Lily, the woods, the faceless jogger who’d found me flailing helplessly in a clearing, alone. Somehow I’d gotten home, and the procession of worried family and friends had begun; then there was an officer on our couch, drinking coffee from Lily’s mug. Somehow I’d ended up in bed.

This was the start of day two without her.

My legs felt like lead as they hit the floor, and suddenly the guilt that I’d fallen asleep while my wife was missing washed over me. It was pure exhaustion, at least. My insides remained frantic. Downstairs my parents and hers were perched around the living room. Each head turned my way as I walked in; every eye was ringed in bright red. They said nothing, and looked away. It was all I needed to feel the blame that floated towards me past the coffee table. Not even my own mother got up. Mechanically I took to a chair in a corner and fell into it, fading into the wedding photos that hung slightly crooked, slightly dusty, behind me.

We’d met three years prior, in a place most don’t head to looking for anything bathed in solidity; the bar was poorly lit, as most are, making everyone beautiful even before the blurred lines that come with drinking whiskey. I’d noticed Lily first, the way her face maintained a sort of ethereal glow even in the darkness of the room, as if a candle were being held below her chin. I saw a flicker in her eyes as she laughed in that way that made me joyously anxious. When she noticed me watching her she paused for a moment, then smiled and lifted her martini glass in an airy cheers. I raised mine in unison and began to weave through heavy waves of shoulders and conversation to the other side of the bar. When I’d made my way to her we clinked glasses and drank.

“Matt,” I said, smoothing my tie with one hand.

“Lily.” Her name fell from her lips like snow.

 

***

This is Part 1 of a I-don’t-know-how-many-parts-there-will-be short (maybe) story. It came to me in my second glass of vino last night, and demanded I give it life. I hope you’ll follow along as I make more installments here and there!

 

 

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From Birth

Her father was raised

on a fire licked stage

of concrete and

streetlight discipline;

Hail Mary was stuffed in

dirt caked boots,

for nights when

only milk and potatoes

sat like church folk

on the dinner table.

 

Her mother worshipped

neon lights,

cream based vanity,

sex in lace and satin;

skin on skin

was tactless youth,

not nine months

of crater weight

in tight jeans,

tight skin.

 

From birth she

couldn’t quite explain

those empty hallway feelings,

like still air in a hurricane;

her smile spread

as thin as her ankles,

maybe as thin as

her own

more than fragile wonderment

strung up in the hallway.

 

Life twisted through seasons

of apple pie and

fragile temperaments

wading in the boiling pot;

freedom was

nothing more than

elbows on a windowsill

or else the impossible genius,

breathing deep and blowing

starlight on the doorstep.

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7 AM, I Hate You.

Originally posted on Tipsy Lit:

cheapestthinginhere

In this industry, you’re considered lucky to have more than one shift breeze by with no memorable annoyances. On a bit of a side note, during the mundane day-to-day I try to remain aware of my own attitude, not just that of my customers; am I smiling, laughing, being generally pleasant?

I always start out on a positive note, but sometimes all it takes is that one a-hole to really ruin it for me.

2.9 seconds

Remember when I said it was nice to switch gears for a little while? You know, because it’s so easy to forget about the glimmers of sunshine I get to witness, and instead zero in on that jerk who asked for eighteen things we don’t have, because he refused to look at the menu I just handed to him that he shooed away like a fly?

::head explodes:: 

Ahem. I promise to come back to the…

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Facebook Giveaway for Mr. Bad Example

Originally posted on Tipsy Lit:

Facebook Giveaway for Mr. Bad Example
Get excited! We’ve got a new Facebook Giveaway. Starting today, you can enter to win a signed copy of Mr. Bad Example by Travis Grundon!

Want the details? In order to enter our Mr. Bad Example giveaway, you need to like Tipsy Lit: Books, Booze, Brilliance, as well as Travis Grundon’s page and then leave us a comment on the giveaway post letting us know you’ve done both!  Sharing the giveaway post always gets some extra love from us, FYI.

This contest ends, on Friday, March 28th at 8:00 PM EST and the winner will be announced on our Facebook page and contacted Monday, March 31st. We’ll be using Random.org to choose the winner.

Everyone is eligible as long as you’re 18 and live in the U.S. Facebook is in no way affiliated with this contest.

PRIZE: A signed copy of Mr. Bad Example.

GIVEAWAY POST: http://on.fb.me/1lgONra

Check out Travis’s…

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