Lost at Sea

Everything is so cold.

Warm waters gave way to thick floes, ice carving its way to the heart of my vessel. My companions have all fled the ship, drowning on their own terms rather than mine. The chill of loneliness soaks into my bones as the salty spray assaults me with each wave.

Had I known my path would lead me here, perhaps I would have stayed on the sandy beaches. Predicting sunburn, I took to the seas, and now the only sand I shall lie upon will be in the depths of the dark. Death by logic; the irony draws a stiff chuckle. My hand flies to my mouth to smother the sound. Laughter has no place here. Laughter means I’ve been broken. I am alone, I am cold, I am all but hopeless, but I am not yet broken.

The small bit of hope I’ve kept dry in my soul searches for an escape. A stormy sky drops water from above, and a stormy sea throws water from below. Up is down and under is over and I am suffocating. It fills my lungs, it clings to my skin, it burns my eyes. I can neither see nor hear.

It bites, snaps, steals, breaks. I can feel the cracks widening. Panic. Adrenaline. Fear. Determination.

My ship is torn apart, the wrack creating new obstacles to overcome. A choking breath, a staggered heartbeat. One more fight for survival. Sheets of ice prove how unforgiving the sea can be. Unforgiving but not impossible.

I climb aboard, ignoring the frostbite in favor of sweet oxygen. I dig my nails into the ice, the pain reminding me I can still feel. It burns but I smile, because I’m alive.

The storms calm and the waves recede. The surface glistens like diamonds adrift, my hope drying in the open air. The damning caveat: my raft is melting. The sun has returned with its glaring irony, watching over me with a devilish grin. Time is as small as my saving grace, growing smaller by the minute.

Small fishes nip playfully at my toes. I’ll lie among them soon on a bed of regret and failure. Their tiny mouths tickle, and I chuckle. My hand flies to my mouth, but it hovers mid-way there. I am alone, my hope is melting, I am damaged, but I am dry. I survived the storms, the ice, the deluge. Surely the salt and sun are no match for what I’ve already been through.

This is my life now. Lost at sea, alone, combating the inevitable upset with every wave and sunbeam that will come for me. I must adapt to the madness if I am to live. Silent tears break free and join the ocean, oblivious to my resolve.

Unhindered, I laugh.

And I laugh.

In the Dark

The lion greets the sky as he mounts his celestial throne. The breeze bows in reverence to the king of the morning. I sit in the light, I breathe the fresh air, but my thoughts remain in the dark.

An innocent moon travels ’round a world of pure imagination. The fools offer their wisdom to the royalty of the hour, smiling all the while. I am grateful for this day and it’s shining promise, but I learn to love the dark.

Twinkling and sparkling are the diamonds in the rough, the stars of the midnight realm. Friendship streaks the heavens among them and courtesy sets them on fire. I admire the view, I praise the beauty, but still I sin in the dark.

The light invites me to dance, to accept the king in his glory. But my mind clouds with smoke from the fire. The grinning fools taunt my esteem. The lion’s roar overcomes my senses. I steal away with the lady of the evening instead, because the dark is not all it might seem.

Praise To My Muse

A form without shape
A life of pure soul
My muse doth wake
Ambitious and droll

Fantastical worlds
Come alive in my thoughts
A story unfurls
Full of people and plots

As the sun darkens
The moon shines bright
Back my mind harkens
To that unseen sight

A glimpse of gold
Her shirt off one shoulder
Beauty untold
Like love, only colder

Or tall and slender
A handsome sight
His passion like tinder
A flame quick to light

A form without shape
A life of pure soul
My androgynous muse
Completes its role

Drifting in sleep
Among characters unmet
Ideas run deep
Incurring my debt

Requited in reams
I’ve paid my dues
Amid joy and screams
Praise be to my muse

Parting Ways (Writing Prompt #28)

The prompt was:
You or your best friend will survive, but not both.


The sun’s first rays of the day creep through the window. I tilt my head and offer a thin smile to my best friend standing beside me. “I’m sorry, Susan. But we both knew this day would come.”
“But you’re my best friend,” she says. “We’ve always been together. I can’t go on without you.”
Her pleading breaks my heart, but this has to be done. All I can do is repeat myself for the umpteenth time this week. “I’m sorry.”
Susan hugs her favorite stuffed teddy bear and wipes her tears away with his ears. “There really isn’t any other way?”
Shaking my head, I reach out a hand and place it on her shoulder. Her silky hair spills over my fingers; I’ll miss brushing it out for her. Playing with her hair was always one of my favorite evening activities.
Footsteps in the hall grab my attention and my heartbeat quickens. It’s almost time. Tears run down my own face now, too, and I pull Susan into a tight embrace. “I’m going to miss you so much. I promise I’ll never forget you!”
“I’ll miss you, too! I’ll always be here if you ever need me.” When I pull back, she shoves her teddy bear into my arms. “Take Mr. Cuddles with you. He can watch over you and remind you of me.”
I grab the bear and tug on his ear, feeling her tears in the faded blue fuzz. “I’ll keep him for always.”
My bedroom door opens and my mother walks in with a smile. “Good morning, sweetie.
Ready for your first day of kindergarten?”
Nodding, I glance at Susan one last time. “I love you,” I whisper. Her lips move as she mouths the words back.
I turn my back and follow my mom out of the room, listening to her talk about all the new friends I’ll make in school. I’m certain none of them will be as wonderful as my Susan, but imaginary friends are for children, and I have to be a big girl now.


Author’s note: I have to admit, when I wrote this, I had my own childhood imaginary friend in mind. Her name was Amy. After writing this, I expanded it and altered it to fit my own childhood. The finished product is being submitted to a short story anthology. 🙂

All You Need (To See) Is Love

Imagine a world where you only saw in black and white unless you were in love.


A young woman is told by her boyfriend that she has the most beautiful blue eyes. Her heart warms at this poetic admission of love, and she gives herself to him, only to fall in love with him and see for herself that her eyes are actually green. By then, it’s too late, and he’s left her. She spends the next month resenting the vibrant colors around her until they finally fade back into the safety of gray.

* * *

A man has been married to his wife for ten years. Over the last six months, he realizes the colors aren’t as bright as they used to be. The reds are faded, the blues are stony, the greens have lost their appeal. But he’s not sure if the colors are actually fading or if he’s seen the colors for so long that they’re no longer exciting. It breaks his heart to hear his wife talking about the bright yellow of her sun dress while, to him, it’s merely a muted cream color. The hues are still there, but he can’t figure out if he let it get stale or if is this normal for longer relationships. What’s worse, there’s a girl at the office who makes him smile, and now, whenever she walks into a room, it literally lights up. Colors brighten around him, and for a moment, he feels alive again. Does he work hard to revitalize the color with his wife or does he run off with the wild shades of this new girl?

* * *

A boy knows he’s completely in love with the girl next door, but she only sees him as a friend. What he doesn’t know is that each day that passes, the colors creep into her vision. It happens so slowly that she doesn’t even realize it. Blacks become blues, whites become yellows, shades of gray ease into browns and greens and reds. It’s not until the day he finally confesses his love to her that it hits her: she’s been seeing in full color for months now. It’s always been him. And she proves it by telling him just how much she loves the red roses he gave her for her birthday.

* * *

A man bumps into a woman on the train. When he turns to apologize, his life springs into color. Love at first sight really does exist, but does she see it too?

* * *

What would you see if you lived in this world? Have you ever known color? For you, what color is love?

Fall Forward

If at first you don’t succeed
Call it practice
Learn
Grow
Try again
You’re only human
It’s not an insult
If all you can do is try
It’s enough
If you take that leap of faith
You are worthy
If you can’t see the other side
Don’t look
Look at your hands instead
See all they’re capable of right where you are
If you fall
Fall flat on your face
Fall with the full momentum of every cell in your body
If you give it your all
You’ll still fall forward
It will hurt
But this is not the end
When all you see is a wall before you
And you don’t think you can go any further
Consider your perspective
Use your hands
Push yourself up, take a step back
and see that the “wall” is just the ground
The path before you
You know now how hard it is
How sturdy it is
You know it can hold you
So try
Leap
Fall
Keep moving forward
You are worthy

Golden Heart

A chill in the wind carries summer from sight

The storm overtakes my mind

A chill in the wind brings a shiver of fright

Love of a harrowing kind

The horizon is stubborn and lonely

Condolences too hard to find

The pouring rain whispers “if only”

A gentle face, weathered and lined

But my fate is not easily altered

Shelter not easy to build

Past discretions have faltered

All of my fears are fulfilled

A chill in the wind carries peace from my soul

The storm tears morality apart

As the lamb to the god for the harvest toll

Time weighs heavy on my golden heart

Is This Not Me? (Writing Prompt #27)

The prompt was:

The mirror’s surface remained devoid of any reflection.


 

The soft glow of the overhead light casts my shadow across the looking glass, but the glass isn’t looking as it should be. For only my shadow’s twin dances beyond the portal, but my own reflection remains yet to be seen. Where has it gone? Am I so invisible to the world that not even the mirror recognizes me before it? Is this not me, standing here for all to see?

My honeyed hair, which once flowed wildly down my back, now circles my brow as a braided crown fit for an enchanting princess. Is this not me, a resplendent portrait of royalty?

A layer of powders and creams conceal my facial flaws, blending colors and neutrals to highlight and accentuate what fair features lie beneath. Is this not me, a living doll painted in perfect beauty?

Moderation has been cast aside for fashion through the leather-and-cork needles I now walk upon, labeled by some as strikingly sensual but by others as sadomasochism. Is this not me, sacrificing comfort for misery?

I consider my heart-shaped neckline, the underlying padding and wire bringing a revealing glow to capture the appeal of the coveted womanly figure. Is this not me, a bare goddess of femininity?

My smile, friendly and inviting, never reaches my eyes. I feel its falsehood as strongly now as I have every day I’ve worn it. Of all the insecurities I’ve buried beneath this facade, my words are the only ones that lie of their own accord. My hopes and dreams, my loves and obsessions, my fears and pains, all masked behind the nectar that draws the flies.

Is this not me, a jester among self-proclaimed kings, truly?

Must the outward rhyme with the inward to be heard by those who listen?

Locks of my hair trickle down my back with the removal of each stiff pin until free it flows once more. Splashing water and bubbling soap send the colors running down the drain. A kick of each foot propels my shoes into dusty abandon. A shirt covers my chest and modesty gives thanks.

Ah, there you are, my reflection at last. And look! The joy in my eyes. So bright, so true. A smile that shines from my soul. My words are my strengths, the truths of my being, the proper cage of insecurity and self-doubt. Never again shall I wear the face of a crowd. The girl in the mirror nods her acceptance. This is me.

 

 

 

Paper Heart

You’ve taken a page from my book. I’d read it all too often, and the dog-eared corner gave it away. You ripped it from the seam with flawless execution, bringing it to your chest and securing it with salt and gravity.

I slice my hands on your paper heart with every fold as I try to return you to who you once were. This lesson is one I should know cannot be mended with creases. Like the cuts on my fingertips masked with a bandage, a hidden tear still leaves a scar.

The black scrawl has faded into shades of gray, but the intent is as dark as the day the ink flowed from my veins. The words cut deeper than the paper itself; words once meant for you and now for me.

I fold the page into an olive branch, but the thin edges offer no more peace than a razor. And what peace can I offer that in truth would not be written as a lie?

A silver tongue, an unreliable narrator; if only my regret could dissolve the fibers of betrayal woven among the words. My sorrow serves only to soften the page—enough to make folding easier but not enough to undo the harsh lines and heavy joints that have taken permanent residence.

I overlay the corners of your paper heart as my effort bleeds through the margins. Red on shades of gray, it beats to the sound of your shattered trust. You pump the cold words through my hollow shell, shadows of a memoir devoid of love. How often will you reread your heartache, reflecting my own?

You’ve taken a page from my book, but your name now adorns the cover. Our hands are torn and bloody, the page tattered and worn. Who suffered greater in this tale, I dare not question, for history shall read both of our troubles on the faded, crumpled page of this paper heart.

Saving Time

Life revolves around what we have to offer one another.

A smile is free, for what does that take from us? A greeting is cheap; just a breath otherwise wasted on silence. A handshake means more, as physical exertion is required to raise a palm and grasp another. Whether to another person or to an animal, every interaction is an exchange of sorts. What do you need or want, and what do I have to give?

We’ve based our existence on money and services. We’ve measured our worth against our bank accounts and material gains. But it’s simply legal tender; a note in place of the true valuable currency.

Time.

Time is our most precious resource and the most valuable thing we can ever hope to have. It’s also the most squandered.

When we feel as if we’re running out, we try to buy time. When we have a bit extra to spare, we spend it. When we want to show someone how much they mean to us, we spend it on them; when we can, we spend it together.

The best gift you can offer someone is your time. The worst thing you can do to someone is waste theirs.

Time stops for no one, and even when it feels as if it has sped up or slowed down, the pace remains steady and unchanged. It is similar to how a child who loves chocolate and one who doesn’t care for it both must pay the same dollar to receive it. The worth does not fluctuate; it is a fixed price.

Perhaps the true tragedy is in its ephemeral expiration date. We only have the current time. We can lend stories of our past but we cannot go back for a refund. We dream of the future, but we won’t know what is worth our time until we get there. Our best-laid plans are just a compromise; how much time are we willing to while away in exchange for coveted opportunities? What will it cost to get what you want?

Most importantly, we all share the same equal time frame—each moment is one. No one has any more than another at any given time. There is no “saving time” on a rainy day to use when the sun is shining. No stock to earn interest, no investing for after retirement.

You can not insure time; you can only hope for more. Some have been lucky enough to witness an entire life of time; others had mere years before their bill came due.

Use your time wisely. Live for love and joy. Smile freely, spend time with those who mean the most in your heart, and hold onto your cherished memories. You can’t save time, but you can spend it. And spending it to the best of your ability is worth more than a mountain of gold.