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Archive for October 16, 2010

B wif Mi fo Eva

B wif Mi fo Eva

She loved her daddy’s lemonade

Pounds of sugar he put in one pitcher

It made him a hero in her eyes.

They walked together under shady trees

She on his shoulders, bouncing with each big step

He pushed her in the tire swing

She threw her head back and felt the warm summer breeze caress her

Like her daddy’s hands brushing her young, rosy red cheeks

Sipping the sweet lemonade, she said, “B wif mi fo eva”

And he promised her he would be

How could he resist her lively charm and youthful glow?

But his time came sooner than expected

Surgeons did all they could to save him

She loved the way he looked into her eyes

That gentle glow, taking her hand in his

He called her back after she hung up during an argument

He turned to his friends and said, “That’s her”

Hopefully gazing after her

He kissed her forehead and listened to her heartbeat

While in the grass under a moonlit sky

He called her beautiful day in and day out

And with him, she, for the first time, began to believe it

He kissed her in the blackness of movie theatres

With a mouthful of popcorn, she said, “B wif mi fo eva”

And he promised her he would be

How could he resist her beautiful face and strikingly audacious personality?

But betrayal bit bone and they grew apart

Arguing led to fighting led to leaving

She loved the way he’d hang on her every word

He was such a good little boy

Intent on seeing his mother proud

And she was, she was proud of him

He was her in the flesh, she saw every bit of herself in him

He grew up quickly, much faster than she would have liked

She sacrificed all she had to make him happy

She worked hard and he was grateful

Through melodramatic sobs as he left for college on the other side of the country,

She said, “B wif mi fo eva”

And he promised her he would be.

How could he resist their maternal bond and her helpful hand?

But he moved to Asia for Archeological digs

Met his new wife and had two beautiful daughters

She loved how he had been there always

Throughout her entire life

He was her savior in the sky

Giving his life to set the world on fire

He listened to her grievances and answered her prayers

She worshipped his questioned existence

Praised the Day of Atonement

In her bed of last breaths, she softly said, “B wif mi fo eva”

And he was.

 

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Log of the Disgruntled Worker

I wrote this during my eleven month employment at greasy, gritty, grimy McDonalds:

Log of the Disgruntled Worker

Upon entering its golden arches,

The smell of grease swiftly rises on the air

Walking passed the rows of empty tables

To the manager’s red eyed stare

Back behind the counter

Where the disgruntled workers relay

Wanting to get out of the filth

Money bounding them to stay

Passed the loud cling clang

Of the employees in the grill

To the all mighty time clock

Under a board, saying not to eat their fill

My number punched in

Its time to whine

Back to the counter

Where others leisurely dine

I enter my work of damnation

The gluttony that burns them all in hell

Looking at the space left behind

Where many a drink had fell

Coffee, Sprite, Coke

The stains of fat sublime

Taking a rag to the spills

To clean the dirt and grime

The conveyor belt sounds

Signaling another car

‘Hurry! Under 90 seconds!’

‘He isn’t too far!’

Readying the napkins, ketchup, and salt

The condiments that lead to their demise

But the real joke is on them

They are in for a big surprise

The lettuce was on the floor

The mustard’s two months old

Just rack ‘em up, stack the meat

It’s out the window and sold

Cars run through, passed me

More grease out the window

From inside the prison

Where tension and anxiety soon grow

Working our tails off

For pennies on the hour

‘Please sir, with the nuggets

I need Sweet and Sour’

I’ll give you your sauces

But give me the money

It’s 15 cents extra

For that little drop of honey

Old people, young people

all of ‘em come through

The jocks, the Goths, the workaholics

Doesn’t matter who

All of ‘em love the arches

A mystery to me

Handing them their heart attacks

They smile full of glee

‘Go on you break’ the manager commands

‘Start your half hour of freedom now’

What do I get, the same grease that I give out?

I sure don’t want to look like those cows

Back on the clock

No more than ten minutes late

If I were to be back late

A write up and I would surely have a date

Write up! Write up!

Can everyone say it with me

Be punctual and mind your manners

That’s truly the key

Back to the booth from hell

The day slowly turns to night

Handing out the bloodstained carcasses

Of which all the customers want a bite

The clock strikes one hour

That’s all that has passed?

Let us have some fun

So this shift can fly by fast

Serving the orders

One by one

Making the stock lists

Now that is fun

Oh what a demeaning job

My months here have been the worst yet

My low pay at McDonalds

The worst fate I have ever met

The Devil You Don’t Know

The Devil You Don’t Know

Don’t you realize the error of your ways

when giving into him?

His head of evil thoughts

with all of his lecherous sin?

Oh sure, his face might be smooth,

his hair not course, but fine.

His pale complexion soft as silk,

his figure truly divine.

But deep behind this masquerade

there lies a man you do not know.

His angelically glowing, blue eyes

is but only a show.

When his strong hands reach out

to caress your virgin skin,

can you feel the pernicious prickles

poisoning you within?

Do you see where his scalp turns red

and his horns protrude through?

Once you see his evil, forked tongue

there’s no escape for you.

When his eyes sneer to a blood red

and his sharp fangs then protrude,

It is then you’ll realize, there’s no escape!

No way to end the feud.

So stay away, far away

from the whirlpool of their sin.

From the claws upon their hands,

from the evil upon their grin.

When you see a devil walking down the street

You’ll know to turn and run.

But how are you to know it’s him

when the fangs are none.

How will you know that it is he who will  leave you soulless,

trapped in a pitiful despair?

When the horns that once protruded

aren’t really there?

Can you keep on the look out

For this atrocious beast?

Keep at a safe distance

Where his minions aren’t released?

So stay away, far away

from the curse of the unknown.

Because the all apparent evil

beats the horns that aren’t shown.

 

Into the Sea

Into the Sea

A man casts his dreams into the sea

The vision sent floating toward the rising sun

Captured in the tranquility of the tide

On a journey of many miles toward the morning sky

A man puts a boat into the sea

Following his dreams toward the shards of eternity

Conquering the overhead sun

Closer and closer to the afternoon sky

A man dives into the sea

Helping push his dreams against the rough tide

Kicking away from the sturdy dock

Swimming toward the setting sun

A man walks from the bank into the sea

The fierce tide producing rock crashing waves

Walking upon the rocky sea bottom

Watery visions soon covering his head

Because he must conclude his melody

Beyond the forgotten circles of hope

Watching the current drown his dreams

He, himself dissolving into the fall of night

 

Old People

Old People


Oh, no! They looked me in the eyes!

What am I to do?

Their evil eyes from their porch,

Where the vultures silently cue.

So we walked upon your property.

We stepped upon your lawn.

‘Was it you? Was it?

That broke my plastic swan?

Oh please give us a break!

Go back inside and drink your tea!

So my dog may trot on your grass

And finally be able to pee

So I may do things that aren’t quite right.

Is it your business to spread?

No! I wasn’t the one!

I didn’t shoot paintballs at your God Damn shed!

Old People, Old People,

What have you done?

Sour milk is on the table

And your cat is on the run.

Will you ever be able to forgive yourselves

In your long hours of the day?

Sitting upon your porch,

Watching the children joyously play.

‘I saw bicycle marks

upon my garage door

Was it you?’

No it wasn’t you old bore!

People watchers, People Watchers,

Can’t you find something to do that’s good?

Than to tell my personal acts

To the entire neighborhood?

I just want to move away,

Far away from the old people

But where ever I go, they’re always there to judge

Especially under God’s steeple

Oh no! A new Lincoln

I’ll be sure to stay away from that!

For if I come within four feet of that car,

I’m sure to get spat at!

Why must your yard be so perfect?

Your driveway newly paved?

Hoping God will see your hard work,

and you will surely be saved?

I’m sure it may be hard

From your porch because of the sun’s glint,

But can’t you find an actual productive activity

In your days of retirement?

Vermillion Sky

Vermillion Sky

Karissa had always felt dwarfed by her sister, Katy Beth. She was three years her junior, yet their parents always compared her to Katy Beth’s outstanding achievements, head cheerleader, varsity tennis team, leads in the school musicals, Head Editor of the journalism club, and even valedictorian of her high school graduating class. Her good fortune continued with her into college, receiving a full ride to New York University where she received her bachelors and masters degrees in Medical Anthropology.

Katy Beth had an abundance of self motivation, actually an overabundance so she was always encouraged to give some motivation to Karissa by their parents. Katy Beth was a good big sister. She looked out for Karissa and always tried to involve her in activities so she could make new friends. Karissa wasn’t the best at meeting new people and befriending them and her parents were always quick to point this out.

One time in an argument with her parents about her new punk boyfriend, her mother said, “Why can’t you date boys like Michael?”

“Michael is Katy’s type, not mine!” Karissa screamed back.

“Well maybe you need to be more like your sister then. She never has any problem with boys.”

“I don’t have any problem it’s you who has the problem,” Karissa yelled, angry tears beginning to accumulate in her blood shot eyes.

“No, I think we know exactly what the problem is here, Karissa. James, look at this. Look at your daughter’s arms!” Her mother screamed, pulling back the long sleeves of Karissa’s forest green sweater.

“No, stop it! Get off!” Karissa cried out, pushing her sleeves back down.

Her father stepped in, grabbed her arm violently and pushed back her sleeve.

“Ow, Dad you’re hurting me.”

“Do you see that James? Your daughter has been cutting herself,” her mother said, a bit calmer.

“Dad … ow, Dad. Dad, that hurts. Daddy!”

Her father pulled her sleeve back down, threw her arm from his hand and left the room. “No dad, stop.” Karissa started to run after her father, but her mother pulled her back.

“No you don’t, we’re not done here, Karissa,” her mother said.

Calmly and rationally, Karissa spoke, “Let me go.”

“No. We’re going to talk about this.”

With a little more anger, “Let me go, now.”

“Karissa …”

Through gritted teeth, “I said, let me go.”

“Jesus, Karissa, why can’t you be more like your sister?”

The tears started streaming down her face and when she looked her mother dead in the face, it was to say, “You bitch.”

“Excuse me? What’d you say?”

“Oh you heard me,” Karissa said, nodding matter of factly. And then her mother did something that she’d regret till the day she’d die. She hit her daughter hard across the face.

So, to say the least, Karissa was shadowed by her parents all approving love for her sister. It never failed. Whenever Karissa ever did anything to please their parents, Katy Beth always trumped her ace and did something so great that it made her parents overlook Karissa’s valiant efforts.

Now, twenty-one years old, Karissa looked at Katy Beth’s Wedding invitation in her hand. Her engagement to Michael had been abrupt and surprising to everyone. Her mother stated it simply when she said, “It just doesn’t seem like Katy Beth to rush through an engagement.” And rightly so, Katy Beth was never one to rush things. For her graduation party, Katy took over two weeks to decide which dress she wanted to wear. Katy was all about preciseness and perfection of face, figure and wardrobe.

“Why am I even debating it?” Karissa asked herself. “Just write your damn name and be done with it.” Reluctantly, she took a blue ballpoint pen and signed her name on the line marked M. Under Persons Attending she marked one, upsetting her even more that it brought a sudden rush of tears to her eyes. Not only was she being forced to celebrate in her sister’s triumph over her, but she had to attend it alone. Katy Beth had won and Karissa knew it.

Breathing a loud sigh, she tucked the invitation back into its pretty, off white envelope, sealed it, and placed it on the counter. She took her rolodex down from its shelf and thumbed through it. Maybe there was someone, a guy that she could take with her to Katy Beth’s Wedding. But what guy in his right mind would be willing to accompany her as a date? Scanning through the small cards, she found Willis’ card. Willis, a thoughtful guy, had dated Karissa a good two years ago, but decided to just be friends when he couldn’t take Karissa constant self deprecation. To Willis, it just always seemed like she was fishing for compliments, so he broke it off and decided to just be friends.

She’d call him, even though she hadn’t talked to him in over five months. He had always been so kind to her and stroked her ego when she needed it most and as the phone rang on the other line, Karissa began to smile thinking about him. “Hello.”

“Hello, Willis? It’s Karissa.”

“Oh hey there. It’s been awhile.”

“It has. Listen, I wanted to know if you could do me a favor.”

“Depends what it is.”

“Would you like to accompany me to my sister’s wedding next Saturday?” Karissa asked, rejection gleaming in her eyes.

“Katy Beth?”

“Yes.”

“O gosh, Karissa. I was invited as well and I’m already bringing someone.”

“Oh. Damn. Who?”

“My fiancé. You remember Jennifer Preston?”

“You’re engaged?” Karissa was a bit shocked.

“It’s actually a funny story. Jennifer and Katy Beth have become really good friends. She asked me to double date with her and Michael a few months ago and she would bring a blind date for me.”

“And it was Jennifer?”

“Yeah, yeah. We all laughed about it later.”

“I see …”

“Well listen, I gotta get ready for work.”

“This late?”

“I got a new job. Well I hope to see you at the wedding.” Click. And he was gone.

“She can’t stand to have her own friends so she has to take mine?” Karissa said aloud walking from her tiny kitchen into her even tinier living room. Throwing herself into a recliner, she turned on the television, seething with anger. She was so heated she couldn’t even see the television through the tears in her eyes. Tossing her head back, trying to wipe away tears, Karissa reclined and curled into a ball. Her legs pulled up to her breast, she wrapped her arms around her knees. And slowly fell into a rageful trance, drifting into a deep sleep.

When she awoke, dusk had fallen outside. She sat up, blinking away tears still lingering in her eyes. She walked into the kitchen and saw the RSVP in its prefect, little envelope lying where she had left it. She thought she’d mail it before she did something she’d regret. So she put on her coat, grabbed the invitation, and headed outside into brisk evening air.

The post office was only three blocks away; she’d walk the distance to mail it. She needed to clear her head in the cool sunset air anyway. At a leisurely pace, she walked toward the sidewalk. She tucked the envelope into her coat pocket for fear that she may just end up ripping it to shreds on her walk over.

She had moved into The Beaches apartment complex the day she turned eighteen and was legal to sign a lease. Her apartment was small, but it was cheap and Karissa liked that. She usually walked on foot to places in the area because the complex was in the center of town. On the sidewalk, she closed her eyes, took her hands out of her coat pockets, and dreamed she was someone else, a prettier, smarter girl in a different life, one that was worth living. Karissa lost count of how many times she woke up in her single and lacked the motivation to get up, let alone shower and get dressed to start the day. There would be long days where she’d sit at her lonely desk job at Smith Auto and just think that life wasn’t worth living.

She spread her arms and picked up her pace as she imagined she was flying high, defying gravity, flying over her parents’ heads, over Katy Beth’s head when suddenly she bumped into someone. She opened her eyes and saw a rather handsome man. His hair was dark and wavy. His face was muscular and he had a very well defined jaw line.

“Oh excuse me. I’m sorry,” Karissa said, wondering how she could have been so clumsy.

“Were you practicing incase you were to go blind?” He asked, his voice a deep musk.

“What?”

“Back there. You had your eyes closed.”

“That’s less embarrassing,” Karissa said under her breath, “Yes. Yes I was. How’d you guess?

“My mom used to do it. She’s kind of an old kook like that.” He took notice to Karissa’s sudden change in facial expression. “Not that you’re a kook or anything. She just was. Actually, you’re remarkably beautiful.”

“Excuse me?”

“You. You’re very stunning. I’m Tony Knox.”

“Uh hi, I’m Karissa. Good to know you Tony.”

“No, no. You can call me by my last name. Call me Knox.”

“Alright Knox. Now if you don’t mind I need to take this RSVP to the Post Office,” Karissa said trying to get around him and away from the abrupt awkwardness.

“Would you mind if I accompanied you?” Knox asked.

“Weren’t you on your way to somewhere?”

“No, no, Just out for a stroll. Lovely, crisp autumn air. Just taking a walk to clear my head.”

“No kidding. I was doing that too. Well, on the way to mail my sister’s wedding invitation.”

“Wedding? Oh I see. I suppose you are already bringing a date to that, pretty a girl as you.”

“Actually, I was planning to attend it alone.”

“But why?”

“I really don’t know. I couldn’t find anyone to go with.”

“Hell I’ll go with you, then. One should never attend a wedding alone.”

“Oh. I won’t be alone. I’ll be sitting with my parents.”

“Still alone as far as I’m concerned,” Knox stated matter of factly.

“No kidding,” Karissa spoke, slightly under her breath, “I mean-”

“No, no. No need to explain. I’ve got those kind of parents too.”

Karissa smiled and nodded. After walking nearly half a block without even noticing, she said, “Well I guess we’ve decided you can accompany me to the post office.”

Chuckling a little, Knox responded back, “I guess we have.”

Karissa smiled and continued a steady stroll toward the Post office, Knox beside her. To Karissa, it was a bit odd to have a random stranger walk a whole three blocks with her, yet she found a strong sense of comfort in it to believe all the universe wasn’t entirely against her. Knox continued on with Karissa the entire way and never strayed once. Karissa slowed her pace to a nice, steady walk so she could have more time with Knox’s kind character.

By the time they had made it to the Post Office, Karissa had decided she wasn’t going to attend the Wedding alone. She would take Knox as her date. After Knox agreed to accompany Karissa as her date, she muttered, “Well shoot. I don’t have a pen to change it.” Conveniently, Knox pulled out a blue pen from his coat pocket. The same blue ballpoint pen she had used earlier to sign the RSVP. Karissa chuckled slightly as she changed the RSVP.

As she dropped the invitation into the blue mail slot, Knox spoke, “Well that’s that. Now what?”

“Oh it’s getting pretty late now. I think I may just head home,” Karissa responded back.

“Well then I shall walk you home.”

“No, no. That’s not at all necessary, Knox. I’m a grown woman I can make it on my own.”

“Come now. Don’t be silly, Kara. I have no-“

“Kara. That’s what my best friend in grade school used to call me,” Karissa interrupted. “When I told my mother at dinner that Anthony called me Kara, she said ‘Nonsense. Your name is Karissa, not Kara.’ And thus it never caught on. I always liked Kara. Thank you Knox.”

“Just glad I could make you smile.”

“Oh you have.”

Knox walked Karissa to her door and kissed her hand as he took his leave. She blushed, redder than a ripe June apple, and opened her door and stepped into her apartment’s lonely darkness. Tonight, however, Karissa didn’t feel quite as alone as she had many times before. Her first encounter with Knox was abrupt and awkward, but it couldn’t have come at a better time.

Karissa awoke the next morning to a brilliant morning sunlight pouring onto her bed. Just as she sat up in her single, the telephone rang. Rubbing the sleep out her eyes, she reached over and grabbed the cordless on her night post. “Hello,” she said groggily into the phone.

“Ah. I’m glad I caught you.”

“Knox? What are you calling me so early for?”

“Early? It’s nearly eleven thirty,” Knox responded back.

“Eleven thirty? God I must have been so out of it last night, I forgot to set my alarm,” she said looking around her small bedroom to her alarm clock.

“Yes, well, love can do that to you,” Knox said, matter of factly.

“I beg your pardon-”

“So … what shall we do today?”

“We? I have to go to work, Knox.”

“Nonsense. It’s Saturday.”

Karissa cocked her head to the side and looked at her calendar on the wall. It was Saturday. “So it is.” She didn’t understand. She could have sworn she received her sister’s invitation on Thursday and she had mailed it out that same day.

“So what shall we do?”

“Did I give you my phone number?”

“Well obviously. How else could I have called you?” Knox said, a bit of laughter in his voice.

“I guess, I just don’t remember giving it to you.” Karissa didn’t think much of it though, as she pulled her covers off and stumbled out of bed. “Well I still need to shower.”

“So do I.”

“There’s this lovely little café on Walnut and fifth that I’ve wanted to try since I moved in, but never had anyone to go with. Let’s go there.”

“Splendid. I know exactly where you’re talking about. I’ll meet you there around two?”

“See you then.”

“Goodbye, Kara.”

It was a quaint, picturesque café that Karissa entered on Walnut Boulevard and Fifth Street. As she walked in, she passed by round tables with steel chairs padded with red cushioning on the seat and wire back support. There were quite a few people around, catching up with old friends and chatting about recent events in their lives. The café was a sure place to meet up with friends and loved ones and have a nice brunch or afternoon snack.

The customers watched Karissa conspicuously as she sat down at a steel table alone. She grew paranoid and watched the other women as they glanced over at her and leaned in to gossip about the poor, lonely girl. Karissa closed her eyes and made them disappear. In her mind they weren’t there. In her mind she was somewhere else, far away from the gossip and ridicule of others. When she reopened them Knox stood before her.

“Oh I was afraid you stood me up,” she said.

“Stand you up? Never.”

Karissa blushed slightly. “Shall we order?”

“I think we have to go to the counter,” Knox said already making his way there. “Come with me.” He reached out his hand for Karissa to grab and when she did she smiled. They held hands as they walked to the counter and Karissa looked at the menu board behind the cashier. “What looks good?”

“I don’t know, but pick out anything. My treat,” Knox told her.

“Alright. A crepe sounds good.”

“Fruit or chocolate?” Knox asked her.

“Hmmm … What do you like?” Karissa asked Knox, gazing into his bright hazel blue eyes.

“Strawberries sound good to me.”

“Yeah, yeah me too.”

“Want to share one? Crepes are a decent size,” Knox said cutting out the approximate size of a crepe with his hands.

“Yea let’s share one.” Karissa looked to the cashier who had a half startled half interested look on his face. Uh … we are going to order a strawberry crepe,” she said to the cashier. “Any coffee?”

“All kinds,” the cashier responded.

“No, no. Not you. I’m sorry,” Karissa said to him. To Knox she said, “Any coffee, Knox?”

“Of course.”

“Alright and two coffees. Will you bring out the crème and sugar with the order?”

A little out of it, the cashier responded back with an offhand, “Oh yea … err no, here it is.” Obviously his attention was else where, but Karissa couldn’t quite tell on what.

Back at the table, Knox charismatically smiled and said, “I’m so lucky to be having coffee with you.”

Flattered, Karissa giggled, “Why?”

Knox gently took Karissa’s hand in his. “When was the last time someone told you just how beautiful you are?”

Karissa let out a small sigh and smiled. “Wow.”

“Wow what?”

“I can’t believe I’m finally meeting you.”

“Meeting me?”

“Yes, you. Why don’t you tell me a little more about yourself?”

“Me? No, no, dear Kara. This is all about you.”

A little puzzled, Karissa asked, “About me?”

“Yes. Tell me more about this wedding we’ll be attending.”

“Oh it’s for my sister Katy Beth.”

“Is she younger or older?”

Clearing her throat and sipping her coffee, Karissa said “Older.”

“Are you on good terms with her? Knox asked, interested.

“Well she thinks everything’s just fine –“

“When really it’s not,” Knox quickly observed. “Otherwise, you wouldn’t have so much apparent animosity toward her.”

Blinking several times, Karissa responded, “Uh, right. She always acted like she was so fantastic, when really, she was a blatant phony.

“How do you figure?”

“She is so fake, Knox, it isn’t even funny. Mom and dad catered to her every need. Or at least mom did. Dad tried his best to treat us equally, in spite of mom’s aggression. Dad was always the passive one.”

“It’s too bad your mother couldn’t see passed your sister’s façade.”

“Exactly. She comes off as sweet, but let me tell you she isn’t.” Karissa’s voice began to raise and her face turned a light blush. “She was always out to get me, that bitch.”

Suddenly, she noticed  an employee walk out from behind the counter and toward the table. “Do you have a crepe ready?” Karissa asked when he got near.

“Mam, I’ve been asked by my managers to kindly ask you to leave,” said the young clerk.

“Why? We haven’t gotten our crepe yet.”

“We’ve had some complaints that you are disturbing the other guests. My manager is putting the crepe in a to-go box for you.”

“This is absurd! I wasn’t even loud. I want to talk to these- to these guests.” And with that Karissa rose to her feet.

“Mam, I’m going to have to ask you to take your seat until we have your crepe ready,” the clerk demanded.

“C’mon Knox. Let’s get the hell outta hear. I don’t think we’ll be back.” And with that Knox stood and the two left the café.

“Could you believe that guy? Telling us to leave! You weren’t even loud and we were paying customers just like the rest of them!” Knox cried outside in the sunlight.

“I can’t believe I just did that.”

“Did what?”

“Stood up to that guy like that. That’s not like me.”

“Well maybe this is the dawning of a new era, one where Kara is no longer afraid of her own shadow.”

“No I think it’s just you. I only met you yesterday, but I-I feel like I can- I feel like I can tell you anything. I feel like when I’m with you, I can stand up against the world. Thank you, Knox.”

“You’re welcome.” Knox romantically slid his arm to her side and held her hand in his. “This feels good. Like it was meant to be”

“I agree. I totally agree. I’m not one to rush into anything without looking at it from every angle, but this just feels right.”

And so they walked, hand and hand, back to Karissa’s apartment, Knox listening as Karissa poured out all the regret she had in life, all her pessimistic views on the world, all her melodramatic sibling rivalry stories, when she would get a little sad or angry, Knox would always tell a funny story or joke that related to keep her smiling.

At her door, Knox kissed her hand and bid her good night once more. “Hey Knox! Thanks again so much for today.”

“No ‘thank you’s are necessary. I’ll be in touch,” he replied back as he walked off into the foggy darkness of the night.

Sliding her key into the keyhole of her front door, she heard her house telephone begin to ring. She rushed through the door, closing it behind her, and ran to her tiny kitchen and picking up the receiver, she said, “Hello.”

“You sound out of breath, Karissa,” Her mother said.

“Oh I was just rushing in the door to catch the phone before the machine picked up.”

“I don’t know why you have a receiver anyway. Why do you even have a phone line when you have a cell phone? It’s a waste of money, I tell you.”

“Because I still have people like you and Katy Beth calling my landline.”

“That’s because your cell has caller ID and you won’t pick up our calls. Hell, I’m surprised you picked up this one.”

“That’s because I thought it might be …”

“Who?” Her mother asked, more interested than ever. There was silence on Karissa’s end. Annoyed with it, her mother quickly spoke, “I don’t know why you just don’t get caller ID for your landline as well, so then you won’t have to talk to us at all.”

Used to her mother’s nagging, Karissa knew how to cut the conversation short, so in response, she said, “Yes, mom.”

“Good.”

“Did you call for any certain reason, or just to torment me?”

“Oh please, Karissa. We received your R.S.V.P.”

“Already?”

“We had it sent express,” her mother replied, a sense of superiority about it.

“Of course you did.”

“Well, of course. We needed your answer as soon as possible since the wedding is less than a week away.”

“Well you wouldn’t have had to do that had your daughter not forgotten to invite me.”

“Katy Beth didn’t forget to invite you. We told you it got lost in the mail. That’s why we used express to get it here, to ensure it wouldn’t be lost coming back. You should be grateful that your sister’s paying the extra money to have it shipped express.”

“Oh, yes, ever so grateful.”

Irritated, her mother ignored her comment and moved in for the kill, “Who are you bringing to your sister’s wedding? I thought you said you would be attending alone.”

“Yea, change of plans.”

“Who is it?”

“Why?”

“It isn’t that one biker with the tattoos all over his arm, is it?”

Frustrated, Karissa quickly said, “No, mom. His name is Tony Knox.”

“Well he better be well kept and groomed. We can’t have a thug showing up to your sister’s wedding with you. Your father and I would be so embarrassed.”

“Don’t you mean just you, mother?”

“Go ahead, embarrass this family. See what happens, Karissa.”

“Yes, mom. G’bye.”

“Don’t you hang up on me. I’m not through,” her mother screamed into the phone and with that Karissa hung up the receiver. Putting her arm against the wall, she rested her head on her arm and slowly shook her head.

Suddenly she felt a hand on her shoulder. She quickly turned and saw Knox. “Oh my God, Knox. You scared the hell out of me.”

“I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to.”

“How’d you get in?”

“The door was open.”

“What are you doing here?”

“I just had to see you one last time and kiss you for real this time, but you seem upset.”

“Oh … gosh. You’re so sweet,” Karissa said, rolling her eyes a bit.

“What’s wrong?

“What? Oh just my mom.”

“Your mom called you? What’d she want?”

“She wanted to bitch. That’s all.”

“Really? That’s it?” Knox asked suspiciously.

“Well she wanted to know who it was that I was bringing to the wedding.”

“And did you tell her?”

“Of course, but not before she – but not before she-”

Seeing that Karissa was getting worked up as tears started to form in her eyes, Knox quickly put his arm around her head and pulled her to his chest. “Shhhh. Calm down. It’s alright. Everything is gonna be alright.”

Putting her arms around his waist, she sobbed into him. “I wish I could just melt. I want to just fall into you. Disappear.”

“So fall into me,” Knox said, running his fingers through her dark brown hair.

Pulling away a little, Karissa stared into Knox’s eyes. “How? How does one just fall into someone else?”

“Like this.” With that Knox kissed Karissa’s lips. It was soft yet romantic, shallow and warm. He pulled away just slightly to gaze into her brown eyes. Placing her hands to the back of his head she pulled him into a deep passionate kiss.

“Do you want to stay the night?”

Smiling, Knox kissed her again and nodded his head. And so he did. Knox stayed at her house for the whole entire week and Karissa called in sick all week to spend time with him.

Friday evening had found her faster than she realized it and she was getting ready for her sister’s rehearsal dinner.

“I was right. You and Jason are the exact same size,” Karissa said, pulling the black jacket onto Knox’s shoulders.

“We’re pretty lucky he left it here, Knox replied brushing off his shoulders.

“Actually, Jason never lived with me. We dated for a few months and he broke up with me so I stole this Merle Norman suit from his closet,” Karissa laughed.

“That is pretty funny. Well are you ready?”

“Yes. Yes I am. Let’s see … hair’s slicked back, suit is wrinkle free, and-” She stopped to smell near his neck, “yup, you smell great.”

“So do you. Spectacular!”

“It’s called Oui. It’s French.”

“So, I’ll drive since my parents’ know my car and they are doing this whole valet parking thing.

“Well, they’re just going all out,” Knox said sarcastically, chuckling.

Chuckling as well, Karissa grabbed Knox’s hand and said, “I just can’t wait for you to meet them. Well, rather, them meet you.”

“They’ll like me, right?”

“Oh God, I don’t even care. I just want my sister to see you. Michael is nothing compared to you.”

They departed from her complex and got into Karissa’s blue Pento. Soon arriving at the Country Club, Karissa braked and put the car into park. Leaving the car running, she and Knox stepped out of the car, Karissa leaving the car door open for the valet.

Walking up to the club doors, Karissa said to Knox, “Hold my hand.” As they stepped into the lobby, Karissa saw her father, “Dad!”

“Ah! Karissa. I’m so glad you decided to come,” Karissa’s father said, kissing her cheek.

“When was I ever not gonna come?”

“Your mother said it wasn’t a definite possibility that you’d show.”

“What?”

“She said that you were bringing a date. Well where is he?”

“Right here. Dad, this is Tony Knox. Knox, this is my father, Edward.”

A little puzzled, her father laughed a little and shook his finger at her. “Karissa … you’ve still got it. You’ve still got it.” As he walked off, Karissa apologized to Knox, “I don’t know what that was all about.”

“Probably told to act cold towards me by your mother,” Knox quickly said.

“My thoughts exactly. Oh, don’t even mind them. We only have to make an appearance. I don’t even think we’ll stay for the whole dinner.”

“I think that’s a good -” Knox was interrupted by Karissa’s sister steadily approaching, her dark green eyes hypnotically coming closer.

“So good to see you’re here. I’m so sorry about the invitation getting lost in the mail,” Katy Beth said.

“Yeah, sorry enough that you had mom call and apologize for you.”

“Oh please, Karissa. Not today. Mom said you were bringing a date. Where is he? Or perhaps a she if there’s something you aren’t telling us.” She gave her a little wink and a nudge with her elbow.

“Knox, this is my sister, Katy Beth. Katy Beth, this is Tony Knox.”

“Funny Karissa. Seriously. Where is he?”

“Right here. Shake her hand Knox.”

“I don’t think she wants to shake it,” Knox said.

“Oh c’mon. She’s just jealous of how great looking you are.”

“Just what are you trying to pull?” Katy Beth said, taking a step back.

“Excuse me?”

“There’s no one there.”

“What? Knox. Say something,” Karissa demanded.

“She doesn’t want to listen,” Knox spoke.

“Say “Hello” and prove to her you are not a robot.”

“Karissa, stop it. There’s no one there. There’s no one there.”

Their mother, in a sage green dress quickly walked to oversee the matter that had arisen between her daughters. “What’s going on here? Karissa, where is your date.”

“Right -”

Katy Beth quickly interrupted. “She has no date, mom. She made the whole thing up.”

“What? No I didn’t. Mom, this is Kn- where’d he go?”

“Karissa are you okay? Maybe you should sit down,” Katy Beth said, taking her by the arm.

“What? No! Where is Knox. He was just here.”

“Karissa, there was never anyone here. Don’t you see what she’s trying to do? She’s trying to ruin my big day.”

“Where is he?” Karissa said, looking around the lobby.

“Karissa, I think you better come with me.”

“What? No. Where is Knox?”

“I saw you with no one, Karissa,” her mother said. “So cut your crap.”

“But he – I don’t understand. He was – he was just -”

“Whoever he is. He’s not here. I don’t think you know who you’re even talking about.”

Stuttering uncontrollably, Karissa began to spin around, becoming dizzy.

“Karissa! Quiet. You’re making a scene.”

“But I don’t unersta- I don’t understand,” her eyes beginning to well with tears.

“He isn’t real, Karissa, He isn’t real,” Katy Beth softly said, touching her shoulder. “You don’t look well. I think you should just go on home and just join us for the wedding tomorrow. Get some sleep. You look really tired. I’ll have daddy take you home.

The girls’ father helped a red faced and trembling Karissa into his SUV. Taking his place in the driver’s seat, her father looked over at Karissa, leaning against the passenger door, softly whispering, “Knox. Knox where are you?”

When they arrived at her complex, he helped her out of the car up to her door. “I’m going to go back to the dinner. Are you going to be alright?”

Without saying a word, Karissa unlocked her door and walked into the darkness of her apartment. “Knox! Where are you?!” She screamed into smokey blackness. As she entered her bedroom, she saw Jason’s suit laid out on her bed. She stumbled out into the hallway and into the bathroom. Kneeling at the toilet and lifting the lid, she got sick in the white, porcelain bowl. She staggered up to the sink, rinsed her mouth, and left the bathroom. She walked to her kitchen, leaning on the counter for stability, she whispered to herself, “He was dressed in all of me, stretched across my pain. I’d do anything to myself, just to have him for myself. Now I don’t know what to say. I don’t know what to do. He is everything to me, but the unattainable. He’s like a myth that I tried to make real, but he- he isn’t real. I can’t make him real.” She slowly sank into a kitchen table chair, as the sun slowly sank beneath a vermillion sky.

The Two Beds

The Two Beds

Their faces used to be of a supreme joy. Their eyes were of a sparkling warmth. Their hearts of an intense and everlasting love. A love for their children, grandchildren, and most of all, each other. She had become ill a little earlier than he had. Her fragile bones got too weak to even stand, so she made a sofa her new home. Her children and her grandchildren visited her upon it. She began to lack in motivation to live as she began to eat little and her body grew small. He stood idly by and watched his wife deteriorate right before his eyes. Her warmth was the only morsel of her not to be shadowed. Her kindness and generosity to her family remained still. He looked down upon her not with pity, but a devotion. A true testament that he knew stood to pass the test of time.

His own fate came to a crashing halt as he was diagnosed with cancer. His life, and hers, flashed before his eyes. He wanted so badly to pull her from the darkness of the sofa and teach her to walk once again. To regain strength and pursue life with him. He wasn’t going to become a hermit because of the diagnosis. He was going to live life as he always had, as if no cancer was poisoning his body.

Soon after his diagnosis, her health worsened so badly that a hospital bed had to be wheeled into their home, replacing the sofa as her new chamber. She was placed on an oxygen machine and an at – home nurse was assigned to take care of her. Her children were there by her side. But even closer to the bedside was him. He was with her day in and day out as more and more life was drained from her frail body. He hated the thought of climbing the narrow stairs to their bedroom, to the bed where they both had once slept together in joyous slumber. He hated the thought of leaving her downstairs alone.

Slowly, as he watched her become even more of a skeleton, he saw the light extinguish in himself. He became weak and it became hard for him to breathe. She could do absolutely nothing to help him regain strength. All she could do was command her family to do it for her. To take her beloved with them on their pursuits in life. So their children took him to church, to breakfast and out to his favorite past time, fishing. He still weakened from the treatment of the cancer, though. It became hard enough to climb the stairs each night. He was always so tired and his muscles found it difficult to mount the steps and grasp the rail.

So to help him treat his wife’s suffering, and his own, he rallied his sons and their sons to take the bed apart. He helped them haul it down the stairs and into the adjoining room so that he could be near his wife. If he heard her stir in the night, he could tend to her every need, where her eyes would fill with tears, for she loved seeing his face. He loved her so.

Even though he was just in the next room, he felt her drift further and further from him. His eyes would swell each and every night when he thought about how it used to be. Him and her in love, his courting of her until their abrupt marriage and the birth of their six beautiful children. Who, down the road, would have their own children. He smiled on a wet pillow, through the tears on his face. They had been great together, became the high beings in a grand family. He couldn’t stand to see her like this, in the state that she was in. His heart hurt him so, to perform his tedious acts of care toward her, only to have her give up. He was angry with her for her resignation of life.

But little did he know that she was holding onto life with both hands gripped tightly. She was going to watch her family blossom into a full four generations of strong-willed Catholics. Her strength was great and her mind was strong, even if her little body didn’t show it lying in the hospital bed. She was going to live, not for herself, not for him, but for her grandchildren, to see their smiling faces each time they visited.

Lying in bed, listening to the sounds of the street outside, he began to slowly let go. He hated being apart from her. He hated the fact that they now had to sleep in separate beds. His eyes swelled even more as he heard her meek coughs and the exhaust of the oxygen machine in the next room. He hated the sound of that machine’s motor. It only reminded him of her poor condition. But as fate would have it, his health worsened and he had to be attached to one of the oxygen machines. His was portable so he could still be mobile and not be condemned to an eternity of lying in bed like the misfortune she had encountered.

Their children saw how difficult it was for the both of them to live together. It was so tiring for him to care for her. The thought of a nursing home was put on the table, but he pleaded against that, telling them to do anything other than put her in a home. They granted his wish and made trivial efforts to help keep the glue that held the family together. They cooked dinners, helped care for her, and visited with their families often. Yet he was dissatisfied. His sorrow built up and it worsened his health. At times he would just stand near the steps and watch her small chest move up and down taking in all the air her meek lungs could.

They began to talk nonsense together. They contemplated suicide, telling their children to fetch the shotgun from the attic. The family knew this to be nothing but talk, for they were both hardcore believers of Catholicism and if they committed suicide, they would go to hell. They couldn’t have that. They wanted nothing more than to live together in the warm light of the Lord’s rays.

Even though the family didn’t think it possible, her health worsened even more. She was on her last leg and the hospice nurse was called in to help with her suffering. He cried even harder at this as he stayed in the dining room away from the horrifying scene in the hospital bed. All the members of their large family came to the house, where the celebrations of Christmas and Easter as well as many other family gatherings had taken place, to see her. The priest had come at last to give her her last respects and to open the gate to God’s kingdom. Their last words to her were words of love.

Knowing that her family was taken care of and that they would be fine without her, she finally let go. Her body became limp and she ceased to breathe another breath. He again, stayed away from it all as the family looked upon her body with eyes of love. Their children began to plan the ceremony that would be her funeral, giving into his every want for her burial. She was gone and he couldn’t believe it. Her passing was but only a shock to him.

His sons and daughters stayed with him there the nights following her death. In the vast, empty darkness of the night after her death, he put new sheets upon the hospital bed and laid upon it. He could still feel the warmth of her body lying upon the mattress, so it felt like she was there with him. Their children were both sorrowful of their mother’s death and for the build up of guilt and sadness of their father.

Three days following her death in the hospital bed, he began to cough up blood. The color of absolute and complete sorrow poured from him. He went to get up, tripped, and hit his head. More blood seeped. He was dying. His face was masked with the sorrow of her death. She was gone, she had entered the Lord’s embrace. Her soul was safe and he heard her calling him to her side. He had to be with her. To be by her side and enter the Lord’s kingdom as they had talked about.  So he let go of life and all his achievements in the same bed his wife had. His death came as a total shock to the entire family and sadness reigned over all of them.

The only thing that kept them all from self-destruction was the thought that this was what they both wanted. They had entered the Lord’s kingdom together. They held hands as they walked passed the shiny gates of heaven, where they could again live together in love forever.

 

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