Monday, May 1, 2017

Lock Ins

Do I need new doorknobs and lamp shades? Probably. Am I even completely moved in, even though it's been an entire year? No. But that is not stopping me from staying under my covers and watching old movies all day. I don't want anything to do with the overwhelming feeling that is ikea when it's having a sale.

That is, until the people below me began blasting their music again, hindering my concentration on roman holiday. Ikea, here we come.

Dealing with crowds is not my strong suit. I can take it at the movie theater, where there's an entire counter between me and them, but when I'm in the midst of all of it, overcome by body heat and loud noises, I'm not exactly calm. I run my hands over bedroom comforters and pretend like I live in the little set up homes. Any distraction is welcomed. As I make my way to eat lunch (a trip to ikea without the Swedish meatballs is a trip wasted) the lights go off. My grip on the plastic tray loosens, and panic ensues. Apparently, the doors have been locked. Not only am I surrounded by strangers, I'm surrounded by strangers in a dark ikea.

If this is an emergency, I've got to find cover- right? In school they always taught us to get away from windows and find a safe space. Where's a safe place in an ikea? Can't people find you just about anywhere? It's a furnished warehouse, for god's sake. The only place to hide in an ikea is- oh man. I'm going to have to hide in an ikea ball pit.

I dash down the escalator steps (now that the power is out they're just stairs) and dart past the crowds pounding on the door. I can see the police outside. Now I'm scared. Police in this town aren't exactly a welcome sight. I run to the kids playroom and hop the counter, just missing a middle aged employee who's not exactly thrilled to see a 20 year old girl in the daycare center. Before she can stop me, I dive into the ball pit and nestle to the bottom.

"Don't think about the germs, don't think about the germs, don't think about the germs" I whisper to myself. At least this feels somewhat safe. If theres a murderer loose in ikea, I doubt their first move would be to search the ball pit. I'm okay. This will be over soon. In the meantime, I hold my breath and think of any weirder experiences I've had than this one.

I'm coming up pretty short.

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Flea Markets and Lingonberry Juice

Warm sun shining on my back, I dig through piles of old trinkets and imagine the lives of other people. I had forgotten what this was like- springtime. The city has started buzzing again. There are farmers markets and free events and my favorite of all, flea markets. Instinctively, I go to tuck my hair behind my ear, but realize again that I've cut it all off. It feels right. I feel more like myself. Last year slipped through my fingers. I finally worked up the nerve to visit my dad in treatment, and it took a toll on me. It was difficult for me to see him struggling. I thought by sending the money, I'd be solving all of our problems. But I should have known that money only complicates everything. It was enough to get him more medications. More treatments. But not enough to make him feel whole. He begged me to take him out of the hospital, and I did. We spent his last few months together. I know now what a mistake I made, shutting him out. I should have spent longer with him, but we had run out of time. He told me he didn't blame me. I tried to believe him.

I still feel the dull ache of loss. I tried many things to cope with the death of my dad, but sill I feel hollow guilt. Soft at times, when I'm with Banks or Sail. Pressing and angry at others. Today is different. My grief is not soft or pressing. It does not come in waves or crash constantly against my body. It is just- there. Muted so much as I can ignore it, but loud enough that I cannot forget it entirely. I have spent my entire afternoon hunched over baskets of old junk. Consuming free waffles at Karnival Diner, and laying in the grass with the taste of ikea lingonberry juice in my mouth. 

It is hot enough 
To get freckles on my face
Today that's enough

Thursday, January 26, 2017


What would you do with a thousand dollars? Do you spend it? Save it? Hide it? I've been turning this thought over and over in my head for a month. I don't need a thousand dollars- do I? Normally I would jump at the opportunity, buy something little and save the rest. But this money doesn't fall under normal circumstances. It feels unnatural. Sure, I know I'm not stealing, and I know that this money, is, in some way, supposed to be a gift. But why? Why now? I don't know what to do with it. I might as well push it out of my mind again.

Recently I've been writing more. I've been finding scraps and trying to recall bits and pieces from my day, so I don't forget. I try to focus on the positive aspects, like the girl I ate an entire bucket of popcorn with at the movie theater, Sail. Or the new song I've been listening to over and over again. But I write down the bad things, too. I'd rather not go into detail about those. I've been sending all of these notes to my dad. He hasn't said anything when we talk on the phone- that is, if we talk on the phone- but I know he's been receiving them. I can hear it in the warmth of his voice. It's not as shaky when we talk now. Today I'm going to mail him this week's envelope. Of course, it takes a lot of guessing to figure out which mailman is in, but I've gotten pretty good at trying my luck.

I have a hunch that today I should take a gamble on the mailbox by See's Cafe. Nobody ever sees the mailman who mans the station, Ethos, but I'm determined. As I lace my shoes, I glance over to old can of tea bags I keep my spare change in. The money is in there. I can feel a sense of guilt wash over me all over again. I silently walk over to it, open the lid, and look in the tin. There it is, one thousand dollars in cash. It glare at it, hoping I will somehow find a solution to my problem. As I stare, a see something tucked under the right corner of the wad. It's one of my notes. I don't remember writing this one, but I must have. It's in my handwriting. It reads: "Ethos. See's Cafe. 2 pm". I am in awe. I must have woken up in the middle of the night again. Sometimes when I wake up, I do strange things, like draw a picture of someone I've seen that day or bake a cake. I guess now I'm predicting things. Wait- it's 1:44 now. No wonder I had a hunch. I take one lsat look at the money, and grab it. I know what to do with it now.

I sprint down the roads to See's Cafe. I know that you're not supposed to send money in the mail, but I'm still not ready to make the journey to visit him. Not now. I'm not prepared. He isn't either. I walk around the corner of the building, in the direction of the mailbox. At the box is a little boy. He is most likely around the age of eleven, and wearing a small blue cap. I have never seen him before. He is small, probably coming up to my chin. He wears a patch on the back of his shirt. "Winthrop Place Postal Service" it says. I am in shock. "Are you... Ethos?" I ask quietly. He turns toward me, gives one short nod, gets on his bike, and drives away. The entire experience is more than odd. It's bizarre. But far be it from me to question the tactics of an eleven year old mailman. I smile to myself at the thought.

I look at the small box in my hands briefly before putting it in the mailbox and shutting the door. On the label, in my handwriting, are the words:
"For Dad- 734 Morning Glory Circle, Franklin TN, 37064"
I finally feel I've made the right choice.

Wednesday, December 14, 2016


The room is spinning. It's moving faster, faster than it has for the past month and a half. Faster than it has since the dinner party. I blink over and over again, attempting to calm myself down, pushing myself to recognize that it's just another day. My hair is dirty, but I have no time to shower this morning. I throw it up and try to ignore it.

The movie theater is practically empty today. I think the managers are starting to get anxious. The holiday crowds are supposed to be pouring in, we've practically been forcing special features down the town's throats. I get off at my normal shift and head to Karnival diner. I'm starving. The bell on the door chimes as I come in and take a seat by the window. My New Year's resolution is going to have to be to stop eating like complete shit. A salad wouldn't kill me. I order a cup of coffee, and sip quietly, flicking through a book Banks lent me. It's interesting enough, but my mind can't focus today. I'm already starting to buzz from caffeine. I should probably get home to call dad soon. I still don't know what to say to him. As I exit the diner, a boy slams into me. I've never seen him before. Or at least, I don't think I have. He murmurs an apology and runs on. I sigh and move to twist my ring. It's become a nervous tick of mine recently. But today, it's not there. I didn't leave it at home. I never leave the house without something on my hands. Did I have it in the movie theater? Lose it to the greasy popcorn butter? It wouldn't be the first time. No. I couldn't have. I made sure to take it off to clean it, and put it right back on afterwards. So where is it? It hits me. The boy.

He's headed towards the direction of the railroad tracks. I can still see his figure, hurrying off. He's a good bit in front of me, but I bet I can catch up. I run, trying to be as quiet as possible. What am I doing? I don't chase robbers. I don't go asking for someone to hurt me. Why do I feel so compelled to go after him? And sneaking around like a spy? I'm ridiculous. I reach the railroad tracks, and the boy is nowhere to be seen. He must have caught wind of my not so silent footsteps. I turn to leave, but something catches my eye from the side of the tracks. It's... money. Not just any money. One thousand dollars. With a note. "To whoever finds this- enjoy".

Sunday, October 23, 2016

Dinner Party

Nothing feels normal anymore. Any shred of security I felt here is gone, and I'm not sure if it'll ever come back. Dad is sick. I've suspected it for a long time, but I was so caught up in leaving and moving here that I pretended I knew nothing. Ignorant. Ignorant and unempathetic and stupid. When I knew that he was trying to reach out to me, when I knew that he wanted to talk to me, and I put it off. It all feels like a terrible dream. I curl back up in my covers and wish it all away again.

A knock at my front door jilts me awake. Sleep hits me like a brick, and I inch away from my bed. Something has been slipped underneath my door. It's an invitation. To a murder mystery themed dinner. Great. Another reason to stay in tonight. I open the door. "Have you seen these? Kind of bizarre, but I think it'll be fun. What role did you get?" Banks jabbers and then looks up at me, taking in my appearance. "Timma, you don't look so good. Are you feeling okay?" "Fine." I reply. Desperately trying to distract her from asking any more, I bring my attention to the invitation. "I'm supposed to be a.... rich housewife? Perfect. 19 and married, exactly the vibe I'm going for here." Banks laughs. "You're going to the party though, aren't you? I'm pretty sure everyone is." "I don't know Banks, I'm not really in the mood-" I sigh, but she cuts me off. "You have to go! It's going to be so much fun! I'll be there too. Meet you outside on the way there!" She says excitedly, and I know there's no way I'm getting out of this. Rich housewife it is, then.

I leave my apartment for the first time in three days. I shift uncomfortably in my dress. It's long and emerald green and not my style at all. It was my mom's, when she was my age. I look next door and rejoin Banks. The walk to the seventh floor is quick, even though I'm nearly shaking the whole way there. We walk in, and the place is decked out. I had to give the hosts some credit, they truly outdid themselves. I take my seat and look around the room. Banks wasn't kidding when she said that everyone was coming. It seemed as though all the residents of Winthrop Place had piled inside the apartment.

Dinner begins, and I begin to feel more comfortable. The food is delicious, and my mind drifts away from all of the terrible things happening right now. Tonight, I want to forget them. I want to act normal and be present like everyone else. And it's working, I'm doing this, I'm acting as though nothing is wrong. Until the lights go out. They flicker at first, and then shut off entirely. When they come back on, a man is laying face down, blood dripping down his face. This is not a prank. I can feel the panic rising in my throat. I look for Banks, but I don't see her. Everything goes dark again.

Monday, October 3, 2016

Playing The Fool

Fall is over, and everything is cold. My cheeks are flushed pink, my hand are always icy, and I'm out of hot chocolate. I had forgotten how much I hate winter. I feel like the weather is sucking the inspiration out of me. My creativity is low, I'm out of sketch book ideas, and I'm out of ways to distract myself from the fact that I'm all alone here. Sure, I've got Banks, the girl who lives next door, and the other people working at the movie theater, but I still feel abandoned. After meeting the girl at the greenhouse, I've felt empty. I want to go somewhere that gives me ideas again. And then it hits me.

I hike through the terrible, bitter cold and into the Temple. It's not an actual Temple, of course, but the town's tarot and palm reading shop. It smells of incense and dust. There are rugs everywhere, and candles burning on the book filled shelves. "Can I help you, honey?" The woman behind the counter has a southern accent, and is probably only thirty or so. I guess I was expecting some sort of old, wrinkly woman. It seems my expectations were dead wrong. "Yes, actually. I'd like a tarot reading, please" I say to her. She smiles at me, and gestures to the table in the center of the room."Alrighty, pick three cards." I do, and she turns the first one over. She looks slightly uncomfortable. "What is it?" I ask. She shifts in her chair. "The fool." She looks up at me solemnly. I don't know much about tarot cards, but I know enough to know that this isn't exactly the best card you can draw.

All of a sudden, everything feels wrong. I know something is off. I'm not sure what it is or what's happened or why I feel like I have to get out of here, but I feel it. I look at her, into her pitiful eyes looking down at me like she knows something I don't, and I run. Through the clunky front door and the empty streets and the crowded lobby of Winthrop place. I frantically unlock my door and collapse against the inside. Everything inside of me is telling me something's happened. I check my phone, and I have one missed call. It's from my dad.

The woman was right. I am the fool.

Friday, September 2, 2016

The Underwater Greenhouse

I wake up face down, half of my body on top of the covers and the other half tangled in the sheets of my bed. I turn my head and see the wall full of knick knacks I put up last night, to my left. I tend to collect: fortunes from cookies, old photographs of my mom when she was young, ticket stubs, well loved rings I string up and hang. Somehow, yesterday seemed like the perfect time to stay up until 1 am putting my collection up on the blank white wall. It's a wonderfully chaotic sight.

I decide today is the day I finally get to exploring the city. I hate to admit that I've been putting it off, but it seems like every day when I get home from the theater I find reasons not to. "There's still so much organizing and unpacking to do" or "you told dad you'd call him every day the first week you got here" are the two most common excuses. My mind wills me to stay home. It seems like I let it every time.

I leave my apartment, heading in the direction of the greenhouse. It's one of the main reasons I decided to move into Winthrop place. I feel most at peace when I'm in nature. And although I love city life, it usually doesn't have much nature at all. The greenhouse seemed like the perfect opportunity for me to feel at home in this new place. Luckily, when I arrive, it's open. Nobody ever knows if it will be, due to it's strange hours. Some days it'll be open until the early hours of the morning, and sometimes it won't be open at all. As I walk through the front doors the rush of warm, humid air hits me. It's overwhelming at first, the air so thick it takes my breathing a second to adjust. It almost feels like I'm underwater for a moment, and then I become used to the climate and everything feels normal again.

I venture towards a bench at the far side of the greenhouse. I take out my sketchbook and pencil, getting ready to start drawing a scene of the greenhouse underwater, how it feels when you first walk in. But as I turn the curve, heading towards the bench, I realized somebody has just sat down. The place is completely empty, except for the two of us. I walk over and they look at me. The first thing I notice is that they're wearing a lot of makeup. However, I don't think it looks bad. Maybe it's more than I'm used to wearing, but it suits them. "Can I sit here?" I ask. They just nod. I plop down on the other side of the bench, picking up my pencil. As I start to sketch, I feel their eyes on me. More specifically, on my paper. I look over, we make eye contact, and finally, they speak. "I like your style. Of drawing, that is. It's pretty." I'm caught off guard. It's not often that people see my doodles. "Oh, um, thanks. That means a lot" I stammer. "Don't mention it." They reply. Then they turn their head and look at me again. "This is a bit unrelated, but did you hear that the circus is in town?"