Friday, February 5, 2016

Sara's Musings, Dave's Loneliness

She looked out the window. Dave couldn't sleep again. She knew it. He didn't know, and she wouldn't tell him, but she could see just enough shadow through his window to know when he prowled around the wee hours of the night.

She sighed, and looked behind her at Steve, sleeping soundly in their bed. How did she get that lovely man? 

She wondered how Dave managed the loneliness. Especially the longing for another body. She remembered how he once reached for her, and she knew he could be insatiably passionate. Somehow it was hard to picture Emily as wild enough for the man she had known. But then, Emily had been sick when she knew her. Maybe there had been more fire in her before. It had been five years since she died. Sara knew nearly every move Dave made. Unless he was luring women to his furniture shop, or stopping off somewhere on his runs, he had been alone all this time. She could not have managed it. Since the night Dave had introduced her to the things a woman and a man did together, she had always had a healthy libido.

She shook her head. Not appropriate thoughts. She shifted focus. What about their strange link? She did not know when their emotions had become so entwined that he could feel what she felt. He had not told her about this strange connection between them. He had told Steve, after she had been in a minor fender-bender that gave Dave a horrific anxiety attack that matched the exact moment of her fear. She could not remember the details of the accident. It had not been long ago, but it had been quickly pushed aside when Steve called to be sure she was ok. To come through the door and be sat down and told another human being--even Dave!--felt what she felt was a bit much to take in.

It was made more confusing by the odd limitations on the link. He didn't feel everything she felt. It seemed only strong emotion came through. She had tried to question him, but he did not like talking about it. Now she wondered, not for the first time, what he felt when she was feeling deeply about her husband. If he felt her strong emotions, he probably had some very lonely nights in his little room when she wrapped herself around Steve for one of their long nights together.

Why did it only work one way? She had never felt any of his emotions. She wished she could. She still wondered what had happened all those years ago when he had sent her away. He didn't know everything about that time, even if he had felt the intense pain and grief she had lived with for years afterwards. And she would never tell him. Some secrets were best kept quiet. They had not talked about that time much, either, first to shield Emily in her last days, then because their friendship seemed to manage fine without addressing the past. But she wondered. If he had known her secret, would things have been different? If she had been able to sense his emotions as he could sense hers, she would have found a way to bring that time up so she could know if he had hurt at all from the rejection that had nearly driven her mad. Or maybe not. Since they had reconnected, Dave had proven a gentle and dependable friend. Would it rip at him to relive what she could only think of as his betrayal? If so, she could not subject him to that, even to fill the hole left from her loss.

She scanned her mind. She was not feeling anything particularly strongly tonight, except a wash of affection for her poor friend wandering in his empty exile. She hoped he could sense it. She closed her eyes and focused on a vision of Dave's face, willing him to feel her warm thoughts. When she opened her eyes, she saw his shadow move out of her line of sight, then show up outside. He was going for his run early. She turned and walked back to her bed.

Wednesday, February 3, 2016

Honoring Friendship

My book characters, Dave and Sara, have an unusually close friendship. They work together, they practically live together, and they have been through extreme adventures and traumas together. They love each other more than most couples do, but they are "just" friends.  Their friendship is certain, familial, and in spite of any other circumstances in their lives, unchanging. Dave begins dating, Sara is kidnapped, both are rendered helpless and permanently injured by a crazed stalker. But they can always be sure the other one will have their back.

Real life can be more complicated, or at least seem more so day-to-day. Friendship waxes and wanes, and sometimes ends. Lovers have expectations of each other. In all but the most dysfunctional love affairs, once the relationship is acknowledged on both sides, each one expects the other to continue to acknowledge and honor the relationship until it is formally pronounced dead. There may be anger, there may be divisions, there may even be violence, but until they say they are not a couple, romantic partners are considered together.

Friendship does not have such official recognition. Friendships can start abruptly, and end without warning--indeed, without announcement. Two or more people can bond over a shared circumstance or a common interest, or a common emergency, and remain friends for life. Or they can drift apart just weeks after feeling as close as family.

Somehow, it doesn't seem right. I have few truly close friends. Like Dave and Sara, once I give real, familial-style friendship, I am in it for life. When I grant someone that level of access to my life, I expect the friendship to last for a lifetime. The hurt to be cast aside, sometimes without even an acknowledgment that it is happening, is acutely painful. 

But friendships don't just end. As a more voluntary, less formal arrangement, they change. When you move, or go in or out of a romantic or work relationship, your friendships change too. Sometimes your time changes, and friendships don't pay bills or require the time investment of a marriage. So when something has to give, often it is the friendship that falls aside. My history has been to resist this change--strongly. To have the closeness, or time spent in a friendship diminish feels like rejection. A rejection rendered more painful because it may be completely unearned. The left friend may have been as loyal, as giving, as open-hearted as ever. The leaving friend just has had a change in priorities. They may regret changing the parameters of the partnership, but have no choice. They may not even realize it is happening.

Perhaps we cannot all be close friends forever like Dave and Sara. But perhaps we can honor our special, close, forever-friendships. When they need to change, we can talk to each other. Perhaps we can have a special meal, or event, to honor a friendship that may not be able to survive changed life circumstances. Like the end of a romantic relationship, an end or change to a friendship deserves the time to discuss. Friends need time to cry on each other shoulders, remember old times, and honor the times when their relationship meant the world to both participants. 

Thursday, March 5, 2015

Cold Coffee

Photo Credit: 14red0s

When all of you
is tossed away,
Old coffee--

Wet cold comfort
too bitter to drink,
irritating and acidic.

The milk and sugar 
offered with smiling face
are too sweet,

A stomach-turning syrup;
Its false note
Stark to the discerning palette.

Do people come in decaf?

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Autumn Wind

Photo Credit: Anne Asbury
The Wind runs cold fingers through my hair
I lean back, opening to it.

The trees rock back and forth
Stripped of artifice
And ornament

Their shining leaves fall away
In the rough embrace
Until at last they stand,

Naked to the eyes of the sun.

When there are no more ways to hide
The dark bark inside
The mismatched and broken branches,

When the sweet sap is all,
The essence of all I am and can be.
Will you see

My limbs 
Curved and proud--
Or gnarled and bare

With no new spring to come?

Thursday, February 12, 2015

Maybe I Can Fly

Photo Credit:teddymafia
How might it feel
To climb high,
Over all mundane details
Of graveled life,
Over low-hanging clouds,
Stand on a ledge,
See tiny lives below,
Sparkly stars in the sky?
To stand above it all,
Petty loss and nagging pain,
Over money and grief and failure,
Grasp the Big Picture
Once and for all?

Would the sharp air
Bring clear insight?
Would it be possible,
In such a moment
Of wind-borne clarity,
To finally step 
Into the unknown,
To brave the void;
Surrender all
To seductive gravity,
And plunge into sleep?

Saturday, January 31, 2015


photo credit: cobrasoft
Inky black velvet
Like a lover's weight,
Sinking, sinking
Into warm oblivion.

Heavy-eyed, languid,
Kind negation
Takes me.

Swallowed in its embrace,
I become darkness.

My naked mind
Models drowsy dreams.

Monday, August 11, 2014

On the Occasion of Robin Williams' Suicide

I find myself shaking in front of a computer screen. I have just learned of Robin Williams' death, at the moment believed to be suicide. I am crying. I'm not sure why.

Or maybe I am. It's just that it's not for one reason. Robin Williams was a great actor. He mixed humor and vulnerability and mania, and seemed gentle even when his jokes had barbs. I was a child when Dead Poets' Society came out, and I was transfixed by a movie that had a love of words as a plot point.

And he died by his own hand--at least so it seems now. Anyone who has battled depression, even for a short time, has at least considered the lure of endless sleep. Artists, who are more sensitive than most, are more likely to have felt the pull of self-destruction. For me, any time someone gives in to that pull, it reminds me that like an alcoholic, a depressed person must go one day at a time. Losing someone to depression is a mark of no-confidence in the struggle of life.

I have had times when oblivion had attraction. I've been depressed, I've been hopeless, I've been in pain, and I've been exhausted. I've doubted things would get better, and not sure I wanted to continue to trudge through a lifetime of disappointment. Suicide was never a completely real option for me. I always had someone I loved more than I hated my depression, and I have a faith that keeps me convinced there is something good at the end of the tunnel. And, truthfully, I am terrified of pain, and the possible humiliation of trying to murder myself and failing--and then having to live with the effects of my suicide attempt and the depression I had before.

So I am sad at the loss of a gentle person with a lot left to give the world. I am furious that his gifts were cut short prematurely. And I am frightened, because I have sat through the night, afraid the pain of that moment would not end, and counted the hours to sunlight. I think those days are gone, but I don't know. I once read that for those suffering from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, the anxiety of it is hard to overcome. When you have had a trauma, it is not being a worry-wort to fear the pain will return. It is fear of something you know could happen because you have lived it. Once you have cried until you can't care enough to cry anymore, you have a strange relationship with death. It is an enemy that tells you it's a friend. And you know you are one loss away from that feeling returning. The fear of the void makes the darkness tempting. And when one sufferer makes the leap, it makes the rest of us feel a little less sure of our own footing.