Handmade Art

Photo by Plush Design Studio from Pexels

 

The wick burns low in the candle,

swimming in purple wax.

Lavender permeates her office.

She bends lower over her notebook.

Most people don’t have the patience to write long hand like this.

Even typing is archaic.

Why type when you can use technology

to make the words flow directly from your brain

to virtual paper?

It even works for pictures.

Anyone can be an artist now.

 

In the dim light, she finishes the next chapter of her story.

Anyone can publish now.

There is no industry, only individuals.

Yet, she doesn’t publish anymore.

 

As she lets the candle blow itself out,

she glances at the picture framed beside her desk.

It’s old paper, yellowing slightly, and

the sketch is in pencil, light strokes.

It’s of her sitting on her bed when she was young.

Her hair falls to her shoulders in squiggly waves,

and her eyes are anime style.

Anime is still popular.

But this picture isn’t like the other anime.

This picture is imperfect.

The pillows and blankets are faded,

but the bed frame is oddly dark.

The lines are messy and uncertain.

And you can still see some of the eraser marks.

Still, she’s had it framed for awhile now.

 

The frame covers most of the artist’s signature.

A common first name and a dated last name.

This woman doesn’t exist now.

She put her pencil down, walked away,

and the writer wishes she could do the same.

Perfect Home Part One

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The elegant brunette woman clutched a business card in her perfectly manicured hands. It read: “A fully furnished home is the only path to a truly happy life.”–Destiny Andrews, Decorator for Perfect Homes, the family-friendly furniture company.

The pearly pink surface of the card shimmered as I took it. “Thanks.” I had just started my job as an executive assistant in the big city and my own cards hadn’t arrived yet. I wouldn’t have brought them to my company’s Christmas party anyway.

The woman, someone’s date no doubt, gestured for the bar tender to pour me another. “You just moved you said? I can give you a discount for your whole apartment.”

“It’s a studio.” I’d spent the last month in a $3000 a month studio with barely room for a bed and kitchen table. What could she possible do to fix it?

“Well, I love working with quaint spaces. I’ll give you a free quote if you’d like.” Her hand brushed against mine as we both reached for our drinks.

I pulled my hand back, adjusting my dark green shawl. Compared to everyone else, my simple, black dress was shabby. It looked too business-y and stuffy. Destiny smiled at me over her vodka cranberry. The drink matched her lipstick and her slender cocktail dress. It was bold, a little short and a little low cut.

I grabbed the drink she ordered for me. “Thank you, for the drink and the offer. I’m sleeping on a futon. It’s…I haven’t had much time to furniture shop yet.”

“I’ll bet. Where’d you move from?”

“West. Middle of nowhere really.”

“Hon, everywhere is the middle of nowhere compared to here. I’m surprised that after the last of the gas dried up, people stayed in the countryside. They don’t even have electric car ports out there. Not that we need the ones here with the metro and electric lines, but they’re really stuck.” Destiny’s clipped accent, the city accent, made each word sound sharp.

My parents and most of my family were stuck out west. They had known it was coming, but they didn’t want to move. The city was too cramped, too expensive, too liberal. I didn’t blame them, but at twenty-two, the city had all of the opportunities, or at least all of the ones that mattered to me.

When I set my drink down, I had nearly finished it already. Two drinks and no food does it for me. I was grateful that the electric line runs close to my apartment. “I should probably be heading back soon. It was nice to meet you, Destiny.”

Destiny downed the rest of her drink. “I can walk with you back. It’s better to use the buddy system this late.”

It was only 9 pm, and we both knew the electric line was the safest transportation in the country. Women didn’t get attacked anymore, not randomly in this city. I finished my own drink. “You really don’t have to come. I’d hate for you to miss the rest of the party.” Half of my co-workers were still here, settling in for a long night.

“I don’t think I’ll miss much. My friend brought me so she wouldn’t be alone and now she’s over there flirting.” Destiny gestured to the blonde woman who was sitting in a booth whispering to a waiter half her age.

Destiny offered me her arm, and we shuffled out into the cold. Frost coated the sidewalk, slowing us down in our heels. The streets and sidewalks bustled, and snow flakes danced underneath the streetlights. My favorite thing about the city was that even at night, it shone bright as day. The ride to my street went fast, and we arrived at my place still arm in arm. Once upon a time we might’ve been heckled, not anymore.

“Could I come up and see your place? I just like to get an idea of the space that I’m working with.” Destiny asked as I fumbled for my key.

“I don’t think I can afford a bunch of furniture right now. I just moved. I can barely eat.” I said the last part like a joke, but we both knew it wasn’t one.

“The quote is free, and furniture is an investment.”

I let her follow me up the three flights. The building was dingy and smelled moldy. I figured she wouldn’t stay long, just long enough to be polite. It was her fault really for not taking no for an answer. When I opened my front door, her face lit up at the kitchen table tucked between the wall and the back of the unfolded futon. “I can work with this.”

She stepped in before me and started taking my books off the shelves above my table. “We’ll take these shelves out and put in a table that can fold up against the wall. Then we’ll replace this wooden chair with a memory foam bean bag so it can double as a kitchen chair and arm chair.” She looked around a second as if searching for more space. “Instead of a futon, you can loft your bed against the far wall with the window and set up a love seat in the middle of the room. It’ll be cozy, but it would really open up the floor space.”

I couldn’t imagine it. The ceiling didn’t seem high enough to loft the bed. “Thank you for the suggestions.”

“You hate it? What if I wrote up the dimensions and showed you through VR? You could see what the space would really look like.”

“I told you. I can’t afford it.” I kicked off my shoes and filled a glass of water. “Do you want anything to drink?”

She settled herself on the edge of the futon. “Night cap?”

“I have wine or rum?”

“Rum, please.”

“Any mixer?”

“Ice.”

I joined her on the opposite side of the futon. I didn’t usually do this, bring strangers back to my apartment. To be fair, I wasn’t in the dating scene much to begin with.

***

I woke to the front door clicking shut and the sight of cranberry lipstick smudges on my sheets. Half asleep, I swung myself out of bed to lock the door, and I fell and smacked my face on the arm of a couch. Luckily I wasn’t bleeding and I still had all of my teeth. But somehow, overnight, my apartment had been transformed. I sat on my new blue satin couch, staring up at my lofted bed. My boring kitchen table had been replaced with an ugly white and blue tiled table built from iron and the uncomfortable wooden chair had changed into a grey bean bag.

When I locked the front door, I spotted Destiny’s business card on my kitchen counter with a handwritten note:

Great night! I owed you one. Your perfect life begins now. XOXO-Destiny.

To be continued…

***

Like this story? Read part two November 19 or read more like it here: http://www.wedbushwrite.com/links-and-gaps/

Monster’s Lullaby

Let the Jack O’Lanterns

light the way

as you skip past me

on Hallows Eve.

I lurk in shadows

underneath the porch

or bridge

or bed.

As your bag of candy rustles,

as you trade your favorite sweets,

remember me

or don’t forget

as I sneak into your

closet.

 

After a long night of trick-or-treating

you’re safe inside your bed.

With visions of chocolate and gummies

dancing in your head.

And as you fall asleep,

safe from witch or ghoul or ghost

the monster with you in the darkness

is the one you fear the most.

 

***

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For the Good of the Coven

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The toadstools glisten in the autumn rain. Evanora Everett pulls her black cloak tighter around her shoulders as she approaches her coven leader’s home. It’s a quaint cottage, English in style and at odds with the nearest neighbors. Water soaks through Evanora’s pointed black boots, and her black kitten splashes alongside her. Familiars don’t mind water. They don’t mind much. They’re said to be braver than witches themselves sometimes.

Through the iron gate of the garden and into the gathering hall, Evanora and her kit invite themselves in. All twelve members of the coven are already present, but not one looks up when they enter. Evanora has a reputation for her tardiness. She scoops up Freddy, her kitten, and takes her place in the back row, end chair.

Circe Harper, the eldest witch, stands up from her seat at the front and lays her cane across the chair. “Samhain approaches sisters. We must prepare to pay tribute to our ancestors and ready any spells or potions for the world beyond. You know the rules. No divination from now until the veil is sealed. Faeries can interfere, and if we allow them, they will control our fate.” Despite her curving spine and sagging skin, she holds herself upright, as straight as age and nature will allow. “I open the floor to the coven principals.”

Three women rise. Each represents a faction of the whole: one middle-aged, one early adult, and one teenager. Witches have a place in the coven at age 13, though they’re not full witches until 19. Each faction meets separately to discuss their concerns with their principal who then voices these concerns at the monthly coven meetings. It’s dry and political. Evanora despises the mini-meetings and the principal reports.

The principals have little this month. Circe nods as each woman speaks, but the familiars in the room shift restlessly, licking paws and rustling feathers. When the final principal sits, the entire coven moves to their feet. Circe waves her hand to silence the chatter. “We have one additional matter of business, the missing child.”

A ripple of indignation flows through the crowd. Circe raises her hand once more. “As many of you know, some humans are spreading rumors that an old crone is behind this. That only a witch could make a child vanish in daylight. While this theory is generally known to be an unbelievable, impossible conspiracy, the closer we get to Halloween, as they call it, without a child or a body, they will become more inclined to lash out. Though they will not suspect the whole coven, some members are more vulnerable than others. Travel in twos, but avoid suspicion. Only plain clothes unless indoors. No odd purchases. Keep your tools in a safe location until this passes.”

“Sisters, why have we not tried locating the child ourselves?” the teenage principal, sixteen-year-old Morgan Andrews, asks. Her green eyes burn with frustration.

Evanora holds her tongue between her teeth, and Freddy kneads her jeans. Morgan used to put her faith in Circe, but since starting high school, the girl has mastered over half of the coven’s spell book and thinks herself more powerful and intelligent than most of the coven.

“We have tried. The Faeries have her,” The no-nonsense, middle-aged principal, Phoebe Harper, replies. Phoebe is Circe’s niece.

“So let’s get the girl back on Samhain. We’ll take her from the Faeries and return her.” Morgan sticks her hands into her pockets as her raven familiar bristles with pride.

“It’s not that simple,” Evanora blurts. “Kidnapping the child will begin a war with the Faery folk. That’s a war that neither side wants and one that we can’t finish. The last war with the faeries almost ended the Everett bloodline. A human child isn’t worth it.”

Morgan turns to Evanora as does the entire coven. “The child is a means to an end. Rescuing the child will make the humans accept our coven. We will be free to practice magic and carry on.”

“And the humans will just accept that faeries are real? They’ll take our word for it that we rescued the kid from beyond the veil and we didn’t take her initially ourselves?” Evanora’s face heats as she meets the eye of every witch in the coven, landing last on Circe. Circe’s pale blue eyes are almost totally white. Her thin lips twist up slightly, encouraging and agreeing.

Morgan starts in with a counterargument, but Evanora raises her hand. Stunned, Morgan falls silent. Evanora feels Freddy stiffen with his eyes locked on Morgan’s raven. “We protect our own. We stay out of human affairs.”

Morgan’s shoulders slump. “I used to babysit her.”

Freddy leaps across the room, climbing his way onto Morgan’s chair. He sniffs her, and rubs his head against her arm.

Circe holds her moonstone necklace in one hand and addresses the coven with her other. “We will honor this child’s sacrifice. Alive or passed, she is allowing our worlds to live in peace. Praise to the Goddess.”

The entire coven raises their hands. Evanora meets Morgan’s eyes. Beneath the despair, a fire still burns in them. “Praise to the Goddess.”

***

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Flying

Little Mandy dragged her parents’ plastic purple broom out of the garage.

Today was the day

she was going to fly.

She tucked a still sticky bubbles container

full of flight potion up her jacket sleeve.

She poured the potion,

dissolved bath salts and grass,

over the broom,

bristles to handle.

Crisp autumn leaves

blew down the street

as she mounted the broom.

She just had to believe and try hard enough.

No neighbors were out to witness it,

but after a few minutes of rocking onto her tip toes

and jumping around,

she could swear she actually hovered a minute.

 

Teenage Mandy loved Halloween.

She went as a witch every year,

but this year she wanted to be pretty.

She wanted to be a fairy.

She bought sparkly make-up,

blue wings,

and a short, sequined gown.

Of course, her costume wasn’t complete without a bag of pixie dust.

She sprinkled some over her blonde hair before her party,

and though it was silly, part of her believed that it would make her fly.

Enough of her believed.

At the stroke of midnight, he kissed her

and damn if her heart didn’t soar.

 

Adult Mandy bought candy.

She’d just moved out

and saved up to splurge on decorations for her favorite holiday.

After setting everything up, she laid down on her living room rug,

an ornately designed blue and gold one that she loved.

Though she didn’t think she’d be flying over the New York skyline on it,

she believed it would take her places,

that it would help her fly,

that it would make anywhere home.

And despite her fear,

she knew that she was doing the right thing.

***

Like this poem? Read more like it: http://www.wedbushwrite.com/flying-away/

Mystical Objects Part Three

“And I want my grandparents to come back to life.” My cousin’s words ring in my ears. It’s like all of the air is sucked out of the room.

“Done.” The genie picks at her nails and turns to me. “Two wishes left for you. What do you want?”

My brain locks up. “Our grandparents are alive? Just like that?”

“Yes, that’s how wishes work.”

“But where are they?” Ness asks. She’s on her feet, eyes ringed red. Her car keys jangle in her hand.

“Wherever they were before.”

Ness grabs my arm with her cold fingers. “Jessica, wish for them to be here.”

“What?”

“Don’t you want to see them?”

“They–they’re supposed to be dead.”

“Do you want them to be dead? I brought them back. They’ll be happy. Everyone will be happy.”

“I miss them too, Ness, but they’re supposed to be dead. Bringing them back…it’s not right.”

Ness’s grip tightens on my arm. “Please, Jessica. Wish for them to be here.”

“But what if?” The words stick in my throat. What if they’re decomposing? “How are we going to tell everyone that they’re not dead anymore?”

“We show them the lamp. And grandma and grandpa can explain it to them. Please, Jessica.”

My stomach twists so tight I’m not sure if it will ever untangle itself. “I wish our grandparents who you just brought back to life were standing in this basement, healthy and not d-decomposing.”

The genie, who had been completely ignoring our conversation, perks up. “Done.”

One second its the three of us, and then my grandparents are sitting on their ugly paisley couch. Just like that. As if they had been there the entire time. They barely have a moment to breathe before Ness is charging at them, trying to hug them. I stand back, scanning their skin for any sores. They don’t look pale or blue. Their eyes don’t look cloudy. But they aren’t smiling.

Grandma speaks first, “Ness? Where are we? Why are you crying?” Not a hair on her white head is out of place. She’s still wearing her nice navy dress, her funeral dress.

I jump in before Ness can. “What’s the last thing that you guys remember?”

Grandpa pushes his brown, oval glasses up his nose. “We were in bed about to fall asleep. Then we were ended up here. Did we sleep walk?” 

“I told you you’re getting dementia.” Grandma put her hand on grandpa’s. “We were falling asleep. Then we heard you two rustling around. We came down here to see if you needed anything and…” Grandma’s brow wrinkles. She looks at the genie. 

I hold my breath, waiting for her to ask. Instead she turns back to Ness. “What are you girls doing in our basement? Why are our boxes out?” 

Ness shakes her head. “It doesn’t matter. You’re here now.” 

“Where else would we be?” Grandpa huffs. 

Grandma swats his hand. “Frankly, you girls are scaring us. What’s gotten into you two?” 

“You were dead.” Why did I have to tell them? Why couldn’t Ness own up? My stomach drops at the horror on their faces. 

Grandpa sticks his tongue in his cheek, his thinking face. “That’s not possible.”

I grab the genie lamp out of the box, ignoring the genie’s glare. “We found this and used it.” 

“Oh.” Grandma won’t look at me. 

“We-we thought you’d be happy,” Ness explains. “Everyone misses you.” 

Silence settles over us. The seconds stretch on. Grandma doesn’t look up, but Grandpa holds her hand tight. I feel Ness dissolving beside me. Her shoulders shake with grief. I want it to end. I want our grandparents to say something, to go upstairs and hug my aunt and make cookies. I want that family reunion Ness was talking about. But it doesn’t feel right. 

“Are you going to make your third wish?” the genie sighs.

Grandma jumps. “You didn’t use it yet?” 

“No.” I didn’t want to yet either. I don’t know what to wish for, and I can’t think straight. 

“Honey,” Grandma reaches for me.

I try not to shrink back. Her hand looks wrinkled and normal, but what if she feels dead? Swallowing the bile that rises in my throat, I lightly put my hand in hers. It’s warm. I feel her heartbeat beneath her skin. She’s not like a zombie or a vampire or a ghost. She’s really alive again. 

“Wish for a wonderful life or happiness or love. It’s your last wish. Don’t waste it.” Grandma pats my hand.

She’s really here. The surreal sheen that had fallen over the past twenty minutes after seeing the genie finally falls away. They are here, and they’re going to have a reunion tonight. They’re going to be at my wedding. They’re going to meet my kids. They’re going to be alive. 

I turn back to the genie. “How long?” 

“Do you wish to know how long your grandparent’s have?” 

“Can’t you just tell me?” 

“Nothing’s free.” 

“Fine. I wish to have a long and happy life.” 

“Done.” The genie shimmers, turning back into smoke. 

I don’t feel different. I don’t feel healthier. And when I turn back to the empty couch with two butt imprints still mushed into the cushions, I don’t feel happy.   

The End

***

Like this story? Read more like it: http://www.wedbushwrite.com/see-shopkeeper-for-price/

Mystical Objects Part Two

Ness takes the genie lamp from my hands. “Maybe it’s a souvenir?” She examines it from all sides. It’s brass with a few decorative swirl engravings. She gives me a half-smile. “Should we rub it?”

“It may be metal, but it’s still just a decoration.” I hold my hand out for it, ready to get back to inventory. We’ve barely made a dent.

“Come on. What if it’s real? What would you wish for?”

“For the inventory to be done.” I try to snatch the lamp away, but Ness is too fast.

“That’s a stupid wish. You should wish for a butler instead. You could make him do inventory for you and then cook and clean every day.” She tries to look into the spout of the lamp. “I wonder what Grandma and Grandpa wished for.”

The lump that’s been sitting in my stomach for the past few days tightens. “Money?” I suggest.

“Yeah, but what about the other two wishes?” Her joking smile falters. “Why’d they keep it in the basement anyway? There’s so much junk down here.”

I look around at the piles of boxes. It’s going to take forever to get through. I wish the other cousins had elected to help. Yeah, it’s hard and it sucks, but don’t they want to see the house before it’s empty and sold off?

Feeling the tears pricking my eyes, I tilt my head back to try to stop gravity from pulling them down. “I’d wish for a personal library with unlimited books and shelf space.”

“Of course you would.” Ness rolls her eyes. “I’d wish for a butler, unlimited money, and a fiance.”

“You’re only twenty-one.”

“That’s why I said fiance and not wife. I want her loyalty forever, but I’m not ready for forever yet.”

“Right…” I start to empty the rest of the box and add the items to my list when I hear Ness’s ring clinking against the brass lamp. She’s actually rubbing it. I laugh to myself.

Then everything happens at once: a whoosh, blue smoke billowing out of the end of the lamp, and the basement lights short circuiting.

A deep female voice whispers, “Who rubbed my lamp?”

No light filters into the basement. I blink hard, trying to discern any shapes in the darkness.

“Well?” She asks.

“I wish the lights were back on?” No sooner as the words out of my mouth then the lights flicker back on.

The genie lamp sits on the ground in front of Ness where she must’ve dropped it, and standing before both of us is a tall, slender woman with dark purple skin and a black ponytail that stretches down to the floor. It looks painful, and her outfit, an emerald pantsuit that nearly melts into her skin seems just as restrictive. “You, whatever your name is. You have two more wishes.”

“Thank you.” I hear myself saying. What else are you supposed to say to that?

Ness sticks her hand out. “I’m Ness and this is my cousin Jessica. You knew our grandparents?”

The genie doesn’t shake Ness’s hand. “Yes. They bought me from a flea market for a lot of money.”

“What did they wish for?”

“The holy trinity: money, sex, and drugs.”

“What?” I blurt. Sure, maybe my grandparents had done drugs back in the day, but the thought of old people smoking weed was a little ridiculous. Not more ridiculous than the genie standing in front of me though.

The genie glared at me with her icy blue eyes. “Not human drugs. Authentic fairy dust. It lasts twenty-four hours, makes you feel good, and lets you hallucinate whatever you want. No bad trips and no side effects.”

Great, so fairies exist too. It’s too absurd. I’m numb.

I don’t know if Ness wasn’t listening or if she’s just as numb, but she asks, “Do we both get three wishes?”

The genie crosses her arms. She hasn’t smiled once. “Those are the rules.”

“Any restrictions?”

“No.”

“Then I want unlimited money.”

“Done.”

“I want to meet and start dating my soulmate tomorrow.”

“Done.”

“And I want my grandparents to come back to life.”

***

Like this story? Read part three on October 5, or read more like it here:  http://www.wedbushwrite.com/undeceased-uncle-part-one/.

High School Reuinions

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The corny black and gold “Class of 2014”

decorations make me angry.

It says it on the napkins,

the plates, the stupid streamers.

People I rarely talked to then

much less five years later

mingle over chips.

It’s a bragfest.

Got a good job.

Got a house.

Got a baby.

Got married.

I like my life.

That’s not the problem.

I search for one familiar face,

one that I actually want to see,

but the people I miss,

I’ll never see again.

Time stretches between us,

an impenetrable distance

without an arbitrary similarity to pull us back.

Mystical Objects Part One

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My car stutters as I turn into my grandparents’ apple orchard. It’s a crisp September day, but the trees lining the dirt path reach out with bony, leaf-less limbs. Rotting apple cores sit decomposing in piles beneath the trees, and I roll up my window to avoid the stench. Headlights flash in my rear view mirror as my aunt’s Sequoia rides my ass into the front yard of the property where the path turns into a concrete parking lot. My cousin’s silver convertible has already claimed the first spot. She puts her hard cider on the porch banister and meets me halfway.

I nod at the two story farm house complete with a wraparound porch and yellow porch swing. “It doesn’t look different.”

“My mom’s been taking care of it. They’ve only been gone four days, but she’s cleaned everything twice.” My cousin, Vanessa (Ness for short) brushes her orange, flat-ironed hair back off her shoulders. She usually wears cute sweaters and leggings all autumn, but today she’s opted for light-wash, mom jeans and an old, paint-splattered sorority t-shirt.  Ness and I are the only cousins out of ten who volunteered to help sort through our grandparents’ things.

“Your mom’s here by the way.” My head’s up isn’t necessary as my aunt is already lugging a vacuum out her back seat.

“Mom, there’s a vacuum in the house. We’re just sorting through boxes, remember?” Ness rolls her eyes, but her voice is soft and cautious.

My aunt Meredith hauls the vacuum up the porch steps, nearly knocking Ness’s glass off. “While you girls sort, I’m going to get a bit of cleaning in.” Aunt Meredith’s face is more red and puffy than usual, and her jacket is inside out.

“Mom, it’s clean. Maybe you should go home and get some rest.”

“I slept a few hours this morning. It’ll only take a few minutes.”

Ness looks to me, and we let Aunt Meredith go in and start vacuuming the living room. The noise distracts from the heavy silence. I grab the red, plastic cookie jar out of the cupboard. There’s only one left. Ness and I split it. Then we start in the basement, knowing it’ll take the longest.

Five boxes of holiday decorations later, I come to the last box in the basement closet. It’s unmarked. At first it appears to be filled with loose ball ornaments in various colors, and then I spot a shiny, ovular object near the bottom. Initially I assume it’s a toy, but it’s heavy and made of brass. “Ness, can you come here?”

“If it’s a spider, kill it yourself,” she calls from the other end of the basement.

“It’s not a bug.”

She sighs. Her footsteps slow as she gets closer. “Is that–a genie lamp?”

****

Like this story? Read part two on September 26, or read more like it here: http://www.wedbushwrite.com/beautiful-mask/

Remnants

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White tufts of dog hair litter the house,

from the crack between the couch cushions

to the steps

to the bedroom carpet.

These are the remnants of husky coat-blowing season.

 

The howling, high-pitched neediness of a two-year-old

dog, of course,

as she throws a tantrum

reverberates off the cheap drywall.

 

She sticks her head between the living room curtains when I come home.

And keeps looking after I pet her.

First thing when she wakes up,

she checks the empty bed.

She stops for every car that drives by,

waiting anxiously to see you again.

 

I have my own rituals.

Delete your number in the morning.

Add it again after dinner.

Drink.

Delete it again.

Take the whole bed for myself.

Wake up anxious in the middle of the night.

Consider texting you.

Fall asleep again.

Repeat.

 

When the dog isn’t crying,

chatter from the TV fills the silence.

The quiet at night fills my ears until all I hear is my heartbeat.

 

Your stuff hides in the house,

from the sock under the coffee table

to the old razor in the bathroom

to the ripped space poster hanging in your empty office.

These are the remnants of our life.