ABANDONED

It looks like the place had been abandoned only yesterday. Everything still. Waiting. Silent. No popcorn can be heard popping. No children screeching as they get spun around on the tilt-o-whirl. No sticky fingers from too much cotton candy.

The child went missing almost 20 years ago. The last sighting of her was of a wide, happy grin and her parents shooing her toward some game or another. Just hoping for a few minutes of peace from their daughter’s endless energy. How could they know they’d never see her again? Of the news coverage and cameras that would follow them around for weeks? Of the devastating heartbreak, anger, and loneliness as one of them abandons the other to their grief?

The leaves being blown along the boardwalk sound like the pitter-patter of children’s feet as they run through the carnival games. I kick aside a hot dog wrapper and wonder how long they searched before they stopped looking for me. When did my stuffed animals get put into storage and then eventually thrown out? How long before their hearts stopped breaking every time they caught a glimpse of another happy child in her parent’s arms?

The memories distract me from my true purpose here. With a shake of my head I make my way to the park across the street. So many families. So many little girls. I straighten with purpose as I scan the crowd searching for the perfect one.

MEMORIES

they whisper past
rustling a dream
forgotten by morning

Memories are a funny thing. Our brains take bits and pieces of events from our past, splice them together and call it a memory. They are more feelings rather than concrete images. I don’t remember kindergarten but some flashes of being misunderstood and alone. I don’t remember my best friend’s face but the feeling of shock standing at her funeral.

Past memories shape our future reality. We take all those bits and pieces of our past selves, add some water, and hope that we can shape the clay into something we recognize and can relate to. Maybe it will even be good enough to show other people.

I think the worst of all are all the things I do remember that I wish I didn’t. The embarrassing mistakes. The lies I didn’t get away with telling. The anger over a trivial slight. We seem always to remember the bad while the good slips by us like a gentle breeze through the trees. We know we felt it, we just can’t remember.

embellished. exaggerated. 
told over and over
so someone else remembers.

BY MY HAND

I only have myself to blame for my near death experience.

I tried to kill myself. I don’t remember the exact trigger that made me decide life in this realm was no longer a viable option for me. All I remember is a year of heartache, isolation, and a feeling of such darkness I never thought I could be happy again.

I never believed in guardian angels until that day. I grew up Catholic, but we were practical Catholics. Church was great for community and a place to go on Sundays when everything else closed, but I never bought into the supernatural-ness of it all. I envied those who believed, but I was not one of them.

It was also not my first attempt to enter the afterlife. Let’s just say that my existence and I have always been at odds with each other. I have never feared death, only the idea I will miss out on something someday.

I had it all planned out. The where. The how. The when. I was desperate for it to work this time. I was sitting on my bedroom floor, mentally saying good-bye to my old life, when a figure appeared in my mind’s eye, crouched in front of me. He had a look of such despair on his face I forgot all about mine for a moment. Even I could not comprehend such sadness. All he did was look into my eyes and weep.


When you’ve hit this point in your life where you feel the only solution is a one-way ticket out of here, you rarely stop to consider other people’s pain. Specifically, the pain your death is going to cause them. It must be what the first speck of the universe felt before the big bang. The darkness and emptiness of space crushing you to the point you finally explode. The main difference between that speck and us is when we explode, we don’t make universes, we create chaos.

To me it was simple. It was the only decision I would ever make where I wouldn’t have to live with the consequences. But that’s all wrong. We transfer all this pain to other people in our lives. Our suffering becomes someone else’s problem.


I felt all this while I was looking into his eyes. I felt the pain, sadness, guilt, confusion, anger, and desperation of the people I thought would be better off without me. I would create a hole in their heart. It would be with them forever, always expanding to fill every aspect of their lives.

In that moment, I knew this figure was my guardian angel. Ten years later, I question that resolve, but in that moment I knew. I also knew the universe was begging me not to do it. It was not only my loved ones pain, but the pain of the universe as I destroyed the bright star it had created in me. All the potential energy of my existence was going to get chucked back into the void.

My tears joined his as we both sat there and cried. I have no idea how much time passed before he straightened, gripped my shoulders, and shook me until my teeth rattled. Subtlety only goes so far with me. I need a swift kick before a lesson sticks.

This was my final warning. No more saving me from myself after this.


Pain, like energy, can never be created or destroyed. It can transfer to those around us or transform into something more useful like courage or empathy. It makes us strong enough to conquer the big things and perceptive enough to appreciate the little things.

I will always appreciate the universe for sending me a guardian angel that day.

KISSES

it comes in time.
a thousand kisses
on forbidden lips.

you waste away
where, in silence,
you are laid to rest.

one who,
if death were the end,
could not be saved.

BREAKING

i sit here alone
in gray shadows.
i cry these tears.
no one knows.
the pain is
breaking me.
letting out my
desperate cries.

LIFE

beauty is
the sparkle in your eye
after you’ve told a dirty joke.

joy is
cleaning up the mud you tracked in
after dancing in the rain.

peace is
curling up under a
blanket fort in the living room.

wellness is
enjoying the last spoonful
of mind chocolate chip.

life is
the unexpected, the messy,
the rain, and the sparkles.

REFLECTION

It was the same routine every night—walk the halls, check the stacks, and turn out the lights. When the last door was locked, she saw her tired smile in the glass. This night, her smile was too bright and her eyes crinkled where they shouldn’t.

The reflection wasn’t hers.