May 13, 2017

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Diagnosis Guilt (Part 2)

Each slight movement of her friends, her ears picked up. Darcy’s fingers tapping on her thigh. Aimee’s fingers combing through her hair. Lila’s steady breathing. Roarke’s thumping leg. Paul’s shifting against the couch. Comforting yet the most nerve wracking sounds in the world. 

Emma’s eyes locked with Darcy’s, blue into brown, ice and water into earthy soils. She lost herself in those eyes, finding the confidence she had lost long ago. They seemed to send her messages, of hope, of courage, of strength. She dared not break her concentration on them for fear she would back down. She couldn’t afford another back down. Not after last time. Not with the time they have left before the great graduation diaspora. 
“Listen,” she began, her voice foggier than she had hoped, “we’ve known each for a long time now…”

”Four years and counting,” Aimee chimed in. Always the one to deal the show. Regret welled up inside Emma’s chest. Why did she invite Aimee again? 

Darcy’s snapping her fingers refocussed her attention. “I think it’s important that you all know this about me. We only have a couple months left together before…” She choked over the words, you leave me. A sensitive subject. Thinking about it caused Emma’s pulse to pick up. She could feel each beat coursing through her veins. Her fingers clenched, a ball arming inside her too-long sweater sleeve. 

Emma breathed in, the air rushing in in measured gulps. Each one, she paced to a beat, in an attempt to calm herself. It didn’t always delivered the desired results. “I have this–this thing. People call it a disorder. And before you ask, yes, I’ve been diagnosed.” 

She felt the unease ripple through the room. Eyes closed, she ignored it. An ungainly silence fell over the group as the silence within surrendered to the newfound but not unfamiliar chaos. Everything became personal. Her subconscious teased her body– back, shoulders, neck, even her wrists and fingers felt the weight. Cracking her knuckles, she heard her wrists begin to pop. Each new turn of the wrist brought an unpleasant symphony of the sounds. She winced. 

Again refocussing on Darcy, Emma steadied her breath. Her next words, she addressed to Darcy, in every way but uttering her name. “I know some of you claim you do, too, or that you know what it’s like, but I also know you’re self-diagnosed. Any idiot can type those letters into a Google search box and get the same results. You wouldn’t self-diagnose a brain tumor or a deadly disease. Why should this be any different?

“I feel guilty for bringing this up,” Emma said, turning away from Darcy’s gaze. “I know it isn’t easy. I know it might feel like you do have something, and you might, I don’t know. I’m as qualified to diagnose you as you are to diagnose yourself. I’m not trying to disregard you or your struggles. I know this is delicate. Trust me, I do. 

“And as much as I wish I could say I believe you one hundred percent, I can’t. It’s hard enough to do that with an actual diagnosis. I’ve been diagnosed several times and I still find myself in denial. I’ve been on medication for it several times. I’ve had therapists mention it. I have a real diagnosis and I often choose to deny it. Out of fear. Out of a wish to be normal. 

“So please understand when I say this: hearing you offhandedly mention it upsets me. You don’t really know. It could be a coping mechanism for you to believe it, an excuse. But please understand that it isn’t for me. For me, this is very real. The overwhelming fear I experience on a daily basis…” 

Emma raised her eyes and for the first time in her whole speech, she glanced at everyone. Her eyes made contact with every other pair of eyes. Each held emotions she only imagined she would see: pity, empathy, sorrow, caring, love. A wave washed over her, a wave of affection flooding her systems, causing her to collapse. 

Each friend stood to join her. Darcy. Roarke. Lila. Paul. Aimee. Each embraced her like the world had died. No one said a word. Their affection said it all for them. 

And in that moment, for the first time in her memory, Emma feared nothing. 

* * * 

Prompt: Finishing yesterday’s story. I would have finished it yesterday, but I was half asleep at my keyboard. 

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May 12, 2017

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​Diagnosis Guilt
The incessant pounding of her heart deafened her, all other sounds coming as little more than background noise. In an attempt to calm her boisterous nerves, she breathed in, counting each breath. With each breath, she noted what she sensed: the faint scent of baking chocolate chip cookies; the restless rustling of clothing against clothing; the slightest dent in the door, giving it character; the carpet prickling the soles of her feet.

Her hand clasped the doorknob, its cold metal awakening her nerves to the present and calling her forth out of the disaster-run fantasy hidden behind her gentle, shy eyes and between her ears. With a single motion, she pushed the door open to face her friends, the people she trusted most in the world. Darcy, the girl she told all her troubles. Aimee, the girl she worked with. Lila, the girl she felt in charge with (a strange occurrence, indeed). Roarke, the guy who she could always count on for a hug. Paul, the guy who noticed her at her worst.

She waved a little wave, a nervous giggle accompanying. The eyes of her friends boring into her soul, she shifted her weight from foot to foot. Her fingers tangled themselves in the stretch of her jacket. Clearing her throat evolved into a fit of coughing as her friends watched her flounder. Tears, half of fear, half a result of her coughing, welled behind her eyes, but she demanded they stay put. These, too, like everyone else, refused to listen to her authority and laughed in her face.

Not a finger, not a foe, moved on the couch. Her friends sat is deadly silence, gazing upon her, their expressions tainted by worry and pity. “You don’t have to tell us, Emma, if it’ll be too painful,” Darey said, breaking the silence. But Emma’s stony gaze reminded Dary of how far Emma had come — and how she had come to aelieve it.

Emma took a moment to take care of a few last minute things, eyes closed She rolled her sleeves to her elbows. She adjusted her hair to lie as it should. Her sleeves rolled down. She adjusted her glasses. Sleeves up. Her fingers lingered on the earrings she always wore, her mother’s. Sleeves down. Determination, appeared. Target, selected. Going down the line, she sought the attention of others.

* * *
Prompt : An internal monologue I had. TBC, hopefully tomorrow.

May 9, 2017

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The Wedding 

The older enters the room. Sees her younger sister staring at the mirror blankly.

OLDER: You want help with your hair?

YOUNGER: I’m fine.

OLDER: Not having second thoughts, are we? You know you two are perfect for each other, right? 

YOUNGER: I’m not so sure about that.

OLDER: Why not? You’re literally one half of each other. 

YOUNGER: Maybe he’s too similar.

OLDER: You’re kidding me! You’ve been dating for how long?

YOUNGER: Almost seven years…

OLDER: Exactly! It’s not just any two people who can stay together for that long. 

YOUNGER: But what if I just settled for the first guy who showed any real interest in me? What if he’s just settling for me?

OLDER: Honey, if I know anything, it’s that that handsome young catch of yours loves you more than his own life.

YOUNGER: You don’t know the whole picture.

OLDER: Girl, you’re an open book. Of course, I do!

YOUNGER: Then you would know that for most of those seven years, he’s been cheating on me. 

OLDER: Nuh uh!

YOUNGER: The worst part is, that I’ve known all along and I still stayed with him and I still said yes to… to all of this.

OLDER: Did he stop?

YOUNGER: Yes.

OLDER: You can’t let the past hurt your future. So what if he’s done something so utterly stupid as a baton my little sister? He stopped and that’s what matters.

YOUNGER: He might do it again. 

OLDER: That’s just speculation.

YOUNGER: No, it’s a pattern. I’ve talked to his ex–

OLDER: No!

YOUNGER: Yes–and she said he’d done the same to her

OLDER: But you’re different. Prettier. Sweeter. You’re anything a guy could ever want.

YOUNGER: I’m just not sure I want the kind of guy he is.

OLDER: What, handsome, strong, hardworking? You’re lucky I found him.

YOUNGER: If you think he’s as great as all that, you marry him! You’d be a great match, a cheater and a stealer.

OLDER: That was once!

YOUNGER: Once is more than enough to leave scars.

OLDER: You’re the one who kept the poor boy depraved.

The younger stares her sister down for a beat. Standing… 

YOUNGER: I need you to leave.

OLDER: Not if you’re gonna be a runner.

YOUNGER: I’ll run if I want to. 

OLDER: Imagine what mom and dad will think. Another daughter might hit her forties without a husband. You know they want to meet their grandkids before they die.

YOUNGER: I think mom and dad will be okay if I wait until I find someone who will actually make me happy.

OLDER: But you’re getting older. You won’t always have the benefit of your youth. And weren’t you the one who couldn’t shut up about “When I have kids…”? 

She taps her watch.

OLDER: Tick tock. Tick tock, little sister. You’re getting old. Soon, kids will be out of the question.

YOUNGER: Why do you even care so much? 

OLDER: I’m just looking after my baby sister. Isn’t that my job?

YOUNGER: I haven’t needed your protection since you betrayed me.

OLDER: Is that what you’re calling it now, betrayal? You always were quite the comedienne.

YOUNGER: I need you to get out.

OLDER: Why, so you can pack your things and leave yet another poor boy depraved? It’s no wonder he cheated.

The younger pushes her sister towards the door.

YOUNGER: He deserves to be depraved. He deserves to be abandoned. He deserves a scheming little wench like you for a wife.

OLDER: Perhaps. Or perhaps he deserves one like you.

YOUNGER: Screw you.

A shove and she slams the door in her sister’s face. 

***

Prompt: A dialogue writing exercise we did in class today.  My (probably laughable) attempt. The prompt was two characters and a location, their motivations, and the protagonist’s secondary (and conflicting) motivation. 

May 8, 2017

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Young Love

As I sat at my desk, grading the spelling tests of my third graders, I noticed one little girl sat at her desk alone while her classmates played at recess. She did it by choice. She sat there every day, every recess. Natalie Lewis, the quietest girl I had ever taught, didn’t have any friends. No one asked her to play with them and she couldn’t overcome her shyness to ask if she could join. As a result, she sat all alone day in and day out. 

Except for today. When I looked up, I noticed a young boy had joined her, Davie Morocco, the new stucent. His family had just moved to our tiny little town. I didn’t know why, just that Davie was different than the other kids. He could read well past his grade level, and his other subjects matched up with that. He really shouldn’t have wasted his time in my classroom, learning the basic stucco that he did. Davie deserved better. 

Davie patted Natalie on the shoulder. The little girl startled, twisting in her seat to see wh9 had topped her. Perhaps recess had ended. Rather, she found herself looking into the eyes of the smart little boy in front of her. She didn’t know what to say. Not that she ever had much to say. 

“Ni, I’m Davie,” the boy began. “You seem alone.” Natalie snrugged. “You know, there’s a feeling that I get around you. Something the highest kids call a… a… spontaneous something. “I like you. Wanna play? ”

I saw Natalie’s eyes brighten at the mention and she knew and ran off, Davie hot inherent heels. Both looked happy. 

“If of ly you knew the hardships of adult love, you’d never let this go.”
***

Prompt: Another dream I had last night 

May 7, 2017

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Sleep Deprivation 

She couldn’t sleep. She didn’t want to sleep. It didn’t matter if her eyes drooped with sleep or if they propped themselves wide open. Sleep evaded her. It always evaded her. No matter what the new day might hold. No matter what the old day may have thrown. Sleep never came to her.

She stayed up all night, waiting for it to arrive, watching the hours on the clock tick by. Midnight came and went. Nothing. One came and went. Nothing. Two. Three. Four. Five. Nothing. She found herself losing this battle. And the war as well. Her lack of sleep lorded itself over her. A comical thought indeed,  her subconscious ruling her conscious. But that was how things worked out. 

Her sleepless nights resulted in what one would only expect: sleep deprivation, a body aching exhaustion that would nev3r go away. 

***

Prompt: Experience, I suppose?

May 6, 2017

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An Overseas Adventure 

They had been planning this trip for years and now it was finally happening. Corina couldn’t stand still as they waited in the long line to board the plane. The information sign read: Munich International Airport. Once again, she ducked her head around the person in front of her to check the length of the line. A childish groan escaped her lips, and her boyfriend chuckled at her, grabbing her by the back if her sweater and pulling her back to her spot in line. 

She glared up at him. “Isaiah!” 

“Corina!” he responded, his tone matching hers as best as a young man can imitate a young woman. “You need to have patience. We’ve waited this long, you can wait a little bit longer. We’re pretty much there anyway. We just have to board and sit through the flight, but we’re pretty much there.” 

In her over dramatic way, Corina flung herself on Isaiah, her hands clutching his arms, nails digging in. “But I don’t wanna wait!”

“Sorry, baby, but I haven’t invented that telelporter you asked for yet. Too busy taking care of my girl,” he said and planted a quick kiss on the top of her head. “Now you’d better get moving, or you might have some angry folks on your hands.” Hands planted on her shoulders, he about faced her towards the front of the line. 

“Crap!” she said, grabbing her bag and racing down towards the gate. The line had diminished during their conversation. Amused, I Sarah followed her. 
A few days into their European adventure, while still in Germany, I Isaiah cooked up a plan. “Corina,” he said to her one day, “you’ve planned all our days, all our outings. Why don’t you let me take one? Let me plan it.”

Corina hesitated, causing Isaiah to laugh. She rushed towards him and took his hand in hers, pleading. “It’s not that I don’t think you can…”

“It’s that you don’t think I can,” he laughed. “Corina, I know you better than pretty much anyome. I know you want this trip to be perfect, and if you trust me on this, I promise I can make this day as just as good as the ones you plan. Dare I say better?” 

Corina shoved him, laughing herself. “No way. There’s no way on earth thatyou, Isaiah Michael Stratford, could outplan me, Corina Siobhan Behrends. I am the master of planning, and if you know me as well as you say youdo, you’d know that.” 

“Fine. I’ll admit that’s true. No one could outplan you, but please let me do just one day? I promise I won’t ask to plan another on our trip.”

“How about if I let you do your one day, you never ask to plan another day for anything?” she trased. 

Isaiah grabbed her hand and shook it. “Deal.” 
The next day, Isaiah refused to tell Corina where their day would take them, much to Corina’s dismay. “It’s a surprise.” But his protests and his refusals only served to heighten her stress levels. 

By the time they had reached their final destination for the day, her nerves were shot. One look at her and Isaiah almost turned them both right back around and took them back to their home away from home, but he held his ground, knowing that what he had in store for them would help to lighten her mood. 

They stood at the foot of a hill and Corina groaned. Her bag weighed her down and every inch of her being wanted nothing more than to sit down and never get back up. Isaiah took her by the hand and pulled her a few steps up the path. “Isaiah, please no. I’m exhausted.” 

Isaiah looked her once over. Indeed, she looked exhausted. Her hair had fallen from the pretty little ponytail she had pulled it into that morning. Her eyes drooped. Her limbs drooped. Even her clothing drooped, damp with sweat from their day’s workout. Without a word, he scooped her into his arms and carried her up the path. 

Corina didn’t have time to react to one thing before the next had unfolded. Up the hill, sat an abandoned castle, crumbling but not dangerous. It looked quaint against the almost setting sun, its color faded in the warm light bathing it. Many buildings back home stood tall and more imposing than this structure, giving off a homey vibe. 

“It’s habitable too,” he said, snapping Corina back to the reality from her traipsing among the fantastical. 

“It is?”

Isaiah set her down, stretching as soon as her feet hit the ground. “Yup. It’s ours for the night. I rented it for us.” 

Corina couldn’t move. Or speak. Or do anything at all, or so it felt to her. “Is this why you wanted to plan today? To make sure we got up here?” 

Isaiah shrugged. “Part of it.” Bending down, he rummaged in his bag for the keys to the place. He plopped them into the palm of her hand. “Would you like to do the honors, Miss Behrends?” He bowed, a funny looking thing, more awkward than the regal he had intended. 

Giggling, Corina took the keys and approached the door. 

The inside awed her more than the outside had. Hundreds of glowing candles lit each room as she entered, their warmth and their scent mingling with the cold and the stench of the castle. The furniture, though far from being period appropriate, still had a vintage air to it, looking far from at home in the twenty-first century. A thin layer of dust covered most of the walls and shelving, but she had expected much worse so it came as a pleasant surprise. 

“Isaiah, baby, it’s… stunning.”

He took her by the hand and led her into a small room with a small table, set for two, in the center. A lace tablecloth lay over it and fancy place settings sat upon it. A chandelier blazed above them, furthering Corina’s interior fairytale. Isaiah pried her bag from her hands, an easy task with her mind wandering elsewhere in the room. With a gentle, “Sit, I’ll be right back,” he took their bags up to the rooms. 

When he returned, Corina had lost herself in hysterics. “Isaiah, you paid for catering too?” The table now bore gifts of glorious foods and beverages. “The little man who brought it in is just the cutest. He doesn’t speak a word of English other than ‘beautiful’ so every time I said anything to him, he would just nod his head and repeat that over and over. ‘Beautiful. Beautiful. Beautiful.’ He made it sound much more expressive than any English speaker I’ve ever heard.” 

Isaiah chuckled. “Perhaps I’ll have to confront the guy. If all he can say to my girl is beautiful, we might have a problem on our hands.” The briefest of pauses before… “But you look beautiful, Corina.”
The young couple savored their meal, their friend the cook entering every so often to check on them. It was true, the only English he knew was ‘beautiful’ but never had such a simple word held as much meaning as when it rolled off his lips. A charming fellow indeed. 

By the time the two sat back in their chairs, idly sipping at their glasses of wine, neither wished to move. They could have fallen asleep in their chairs and woken up content the next morning, but Isaiah had different ideas. 

Taking Corina by the hand, he led her up a shirt flight of stairs onto a balcony overlooking the surrounding area in the twlight. The moon hung in the sky and the only word Corina could use to describe it was ‘beautiful.’ She heard it in the little chef’s voice, each syllable accented and unique and meaningful. The stars spattered across the sky paled in comparison to the beauty of the moon. 

Corina said nothing, her exhaustion and awe forcing all words to flee from her lips. 

Isaiah’s eyes lingered on Corina. It didn’t matter that her hair fell in her face and she smelled of sweat from a long day. It didn’t matter that her eyes lacked their usual luster due to exhaustion. She still shone bright against the world as the most beautiful woman Isaiah had ever known. 

“Corina, do you see how far reaching the stars are? How you can see so many of them but you don’t know how far they reach? How they seem endless?” She responded with a mindless mutter. “If you or anyone were to ask me how much I love you, I’d point at the sky and tell them I will love you for as long as the stars go on.” 

By now, Corina had forgotten the luminaries in the sky and focussed on the one before her. Her eyes searched his, feeling every wave of love and affection thrown her way. She took his hand in hers. Something hard and cold brushed against her skin and she looked down. 

Isaiah held a simple ring, a single stone, small but shining like it belonged in the night sky. He didn’t have to say anymore. Corina knew. She didn’t have to speak, her actions telling all. 

“I guess I’ll be helping to plan another day after all.”

***

Prompt: Uhhhhhh… I dunno. Guess marriage has been on my mind lately  (imagine that! thinking about marriage a lot while taking a class titled Marriage and Family, say what?) and I’m always looking at how beautiful Europe is. So I guess I just combined the two?