Archive | February, 2011

The Irony Of Time

28 Feb

Well, it’s now week three of the IndieInk Writing Challenge. And I have to say, the competition and the prompts just keep getting more and more fierce. My challenge this week comes from the very talented and ultimately lovely Anastasia McDonnell (@mcdonnellism on the Twitter machine).

“The Giant Hourglass: You are given 5 years to live. Not 2 weeks, not six months, but a full five years to the day. Describe how you handle this news & what you fill this rather unusual timeline with.”

Wow. And I thought last week’s prompt was going to be hard. This one? As I am typing these words, I have no clue how I am going to attack this one. All I keep coming up with is fart sounds and the word “DUH” that seems to be on repeat in my tiny brain.

Anyway, here goes nothing!

****

Time.

Until that day, I never paid much attention to it.

You see, time seemed to be so inconsequential, so trivial. No matter how much I tried, I couldn’t change time. I couldn’t fast forward reality. I couldn’t go back to fix all the mistakes of the past. After years and years of abiding by other people’s timetables, I just quit caring altogether. After all, why occupy yourself with the task of worrying about things you cannot change?

Well, that’s what I used to think.

That is, until that day.

I remember that day. I remember the sights, the sounds, even the way the small, sterile room smelled.

Most importantly, I remember the irony.

I was late, very late to an appointment that was three months in the making. As usual, I was obeying a timetable imposed on me by someone else. When I made the appointment to see him, I could hear the disinterest in the receptionist’s voice as I questioned her about their lack of a more expeditious appointment time.

“Three months is the absolute soonest he will be able to see you, sir” she said with a hint of irritation to her Southern drawl.

“Fine. Just fine. I’ll just be waiting here, wondering if I am even going to live long enough to make it to this appointment. But don’t you worry yourself about me.”

Met with silence, I wasn’t sure if she caught the heavy dose of sarcastic anger I was throwing her way.

“We’ll see you on the 23rd of April, sir. Make sure you have your paperwork completed upon arrival to insure no further delays. Have a good day.”

No sooner did I try to stumble out some sort of halfhearted valediction, I was met with a deafening dial tone. My time with her was up. There was nothing more I could do.

As the months passed, I got sicker and sicker. I could feel my body withering away.  I knew I was dying. I knew there was nothing they could do. But still, I waited for that appointment with a sense of urgency and diligence that nobody could match. Maybe, just maybe, he would have the answers. He would look at me, wave his magic wand, and take away all that ails me. I clung to hope like a lifesaver. At this point, hope is all I had left.

The unforgiving sounds of my alarm clock jolted me out of bed that day. Discombobulated, I struggled to allow the remaining nightmare to wash itself from my mind. Today, I would meet my maker so to speak. And my subconscious knew this. For the last three months, my dreams had slowly become nightmares. My mortality was at play. By day, my mind struggled with this very fact. And by night, my mind would torment me.

“SHHHHHHIIIIITTTTTT!” I screamed out as my weary eyes finally focused on the alarm clock.

I was already 15 minutes late to my appointment. Once again, time had fucked me.

Without hesitation, I threw on my clothes, doused my un-showered self with cologne, and ran down two flights of stairs to my car. Within minutes, I was checking in for my appointment.

“I’m so sorry I’m late, ma’am. I don’t know what the hell my alarm clock was thinking this morning!”

“Please fill this two top forms out and initial the bottom, sir. He is running  a little bit behind, so there may be a little bit of a wait.”

I took my rightful place among the others in the waiting room. As I sunk into the vinyl seat, sounds of sickness surrounded me.  I knew I was going to end up just like everyone else in this room. I knew there was no way I could fight it anymore. I knew my time had come.

I could feel the tears starting to stream down my face as I initialed each of the documents the receptionist handed me. I felt like I was signing my own death certificate. I already felt doomed before I even had a chance to meet with him.

“Mr. Johnson? Is there a Mr. Johnson here?”

Embarrassed, I slowly rose to my feet and headed into the direction of the womanly voice calling my name.

“I’m Mr. Johnson, ma’am. Please excuse the tears and the red face. I must have gotten something in my eye.”

I knew she didn’t buy my story. Her disbelief was written all over her calming smile and comforting eyes.

“It’s been a bad allergy season for us, hasn’t it?” she quipped back.

I smiled as I shook my head in agreement. I was still way too embarrassed to muster the words needed for an actual conversation.

We made our way down a long corridor and into the exam room. My mind quickly inventoried my surroundings as if I would need these memories for a later date. The room was cold, white, and suffocating. This would be the place I would meet him. This is the place where I would be saved.

Or so I hoped.

Within minutes, he was finally standing in front of me. The pressure of his handshake seemed to crush every single bone in my right hand. I didn’t care though. This was my moment. I had waited so long just to meet this man, this savior of mine.

And then he spoke.

I don’t even recall the whole conversation that took place that day. My mind would only allow me to remember the most important parts. My hope was no more. His confirmation of what I already knew validated my worst nightmares.

I was dying.

Suddenly, the thing I never paid much attention to was front and center on my mind. All I could think of was time. How much time did I have? How much time would I spend in pain?

His words were as heavy as boulders. Each verb, each noun, each adjective stung like cigarettes smoldering underneath my skin. Even though I already knew what he was going to tell me, I felt abused. I felt sicker than when I walked into that fucking room. I finally felt defeat trickling into every part of my soul.

I’m sure the look on my face said it all. I couldn’t even comprehend what had just been presented to me. I tuned out pretty much everything he had to say. I couldn’t change reality.

Time had come for me.

“Wait. Stop. No more explanations. No more talk of experimental treatments. How much time do I have left? What is my timetable here, doctor?” I said between tears and anger.

“A patient with your condition usually has five years to live once the initial diagnosis has been made. Think of today as day one.”

“Five fucking years? I have five years left of this? Five years of pain, agony, and suffering?”

“Yes, Mr. Johnson. I suggest you start living each day like it was your last.”

And with that, his time with me was done. I heard the metal of the door latch click as he left the room.

He was gone. And so was my hope.

That night, I sat alone in my bed for the first time as a man with a known death sentence. Where would I go from here? What did I have left?

Time.

The one thing that was once so insignificant to me suddenly was the only thing I could think about. I was a prisoner to time. I couldn’t speed it up. I couldn’t slow it down. I could feel time weigh me down like a giant hourglass that was strapped to my back.

As I glanced over at my alarm clock one last time as I drifted off to sleep, I was now, more than ever, on the clock. Tomorrow would be day two. Tomorrow, I would have more time to think. Tomorrow, I would have less time to live.

Suddenly, time had become both my friend and my enemy. And now It was up to me to figure out how to keep the peace.

Advertisements

The Awakening

24 Feb

I don’t think you quite understand.

You are, in fact, poking a sleeping bear.

And not one of those cute and cuddly type of bears that make you scream out “ooh” and “aah” either.

No, not even close.

You see, I am one of those rabid, hungry, and overly aggressive bears. The kind that when simply crossed, will maul without the slightest of warning.

You wouldn’t know it from the looks of me. Hell, most people will never see this side of me at all. But you’ve been poking and prodding for a long while now. And it’s time that you see the size of my teeth. It’s time you feel the pinch of your very own flesh underneath the pressure of my jaw.

You’ve been tiptoeing around for too long now, chucking rocks from afar so as to not awaken me. You select your targets at will, without regard for anything but yourself. In the past,  I have just sat back, gritted my teeth, and watched you play these childish games. On occasion, I would let out a yawn out of pure disinterest.

But lately, your aim has been off.

And now one of your pathetic stones has gone astray.

You have the impression that I don’t know what’s going on. You think that I haven’t got a clue.

But I assure you, I do.

You’ve targeted the very single thing that is most important to a bear. Something so precious and so very sacred. Something that I will not only fight, but win the bloodiest of battles for.

My family.

Your games, your manipulations, and your outright lies have sparked and fueled a rage so intense, there will be no warning, no more pleasantries.

So, here I am.

I’m awake. I’m alert. But most importantly, I am pissed.

I suggest you prepare yourself for what’s to come.

 

Betrayal

21 Feb

Well, it’s week two of the IndieInk Writing Challenge and I have to say, things are about to get all kinds of crazy up in here. We’ve expanded the challenge to not only include our own lovely editors, but we also opened up the challenge to the internets.

So, what does this all mean?

Simple.

We have some of the best writers around challenging each other from across the world-wide webs to weekly writing duels. If last week was a geeky writer’s version of You Got Served, then this week has to be more on the level of The Fast and the Furious. Well, without Vin Diesel. And without cars. And without…aw, fuck it. It’s nothing like The Fast and the Furious. I give up.

Anyway, this week’s challenge comes to me from San Diego Momma (@SanDiegoMomma on the Twitter machine). I love her challenge because it’s just a single word. I totally appreciate and admire this dark and twisted word in so many ways.

“Betrayal”

With that said, this word also scares the shit out of me. Don’t get me wrong, I love that one word can take me down so many different paths. But my tiny brain is a flurry with memories, thoughts, and ideas based on just this single eight letter noun. This is definitely going to be a tough one. I guess that’s why it’s called a challenge, huh?

****

The look in her eyes that night will forever be seared into my soul. As each tear streamed down her cheeks, they amplified every single emotion you could ever imagine as they danced their way past her nose and trickled slowly onto the pillow that cradled her weary head.

This time, her tears were because of me. A direct result of the words that struggled past my tongue just moments before. Even though we were inches from each other in the same bed, we were miles apart in our minds.

This time, an explanation of the thoughts rolling around in her mind would not be necessary.

This time, there would be no guessing, no map or key.

This time, I knew.

I could read the hurt, the shock, and the blatant betrayal written on her face as if someone had tattooed those very words in large black letters across her pale skin.

Then again, I knew the tattoo artist all too well.

As painful as the silence was, nothing could have prepared me for the words she spoke next.

“I would have never expected this from you. Not in a million years.”

Her words were delivered with such a softness that you’d never expect just how heavy, how razor sharp they actually were.

But she was right.

Nobody in their right mind would have expected anything like this out of me.

Not her.

Not me.

Not a soul.

As dawn neared, I knew things would never be the same. Life would go on, but not in the capacity we both had become so accustomed to.

You see, with a few words I changed everything.

My failure was out in the open.

And with just a few words, my betrayal was hers to live.

 

 

 

A Zarda Wedding

17 Feb

Wow. Just wow. That’s all I have to say about these two. When Brandon and Monica asked me to photograph their wedding day, I was absolutely thrilled. They promised a chill and relaxed wedding that would make me feel like a guest and not a hired hand. And you know what? They totally delivered. I had an absolute blast photographing these two. But don’t take my word for it. Come and take a look at what I saw through my lens that day.

For the Flickr machine click HERE.

For the Facebook machine click HERE.

It Seemed Like A Good Idea

16 Feb

All of us awesome editors over at IndieInk recently got together and threw down the gauntlet geeky writer style. What am I talking about? Simple. A challenge. A modern day duel, if you will. We decided to play a little game and challenge each other on the weekly with anonymous writing prompts. Think of it as You Got Served, but with less rhythm and more nerdy white kids.

This week, my writing prompt is, well, challenging.

“It seemed like a good idea at the time.  Okay, so I *wanted* it to be a good idea.”

A challenging writing challenge? Well, I’ll be damned!

****

Underneath this mess, there is pure unadulterated emotion.

But you’ll never know it.

You’ll never catch a glimpse of love, anger, happiness, guilt, elation, or even sadness.

My expressionless face is strong and fiercely robotic.

Or so I’ve been told.

You see, I wasn’t always like this. As a kid, I vividly remember expressing each and every emotion my heart could handle. It came naturally. I wanted the people that surrounded me to know exactly how I felt. If I loved you, I wanted to tell you I loved you. If I was happy, you could hear my laughter from miles and miles away. The simplicity of life allowed my emotions to take control. Logic was no longer a factor. Content with the smile on my face, I allowed myself to just be.

Until he died.

I can still see the frailty of his bones outline his figure as his paper thin skin stretched out across his ravaged body. The chemo and dialysis had taken its toll. As I watched the hospice nurse sit in a chair next to his bed, I knew this was the end.

Struggling to comprehend that each labored breath could be his very last, my ten year old mind broke. I couldn’t speak. I couldn’t covey the emotions running haywire through my brain. The direct link between my heart and mind had crumbled. In that moment, I turned cold.

Two days later, he was gone.

What was this pain I felt in every limb of my own body? Why did I want to cry and vomit at the same time? Frantically, I searched for a way to eliminate all that hurt and confused me. I didn’t know how to ask the questions needed to cope. I didn’t know how I should react. Defeated, I just shut down.

It was all I could do. Just shut down every emotion I was used to. Keep everything inside so I could never be hurt again. I never wanted to feel this way. And I would be damned if I would let it happen.

Shutting down seemed like a good idea at the time. I wanted desperately for it to be. Hell, I needed it to be. But how do you come back from that? I am 31 years old now. Two decades have passed and I still find myself trapped inside my own mind. Even to this day, if I even so much as find myself thinking of that moment, I completely shut down.

He was still in his bed the last time I saw him. He didn’t even know I was there.

I was just a boy.

A boy, broken by reality.

 

Roller Coasters

8 Feb

My feet dig into the floor beneath me as the padded vinyl harness encompasses my torso. As instructed, I fasten my seatbelt and prepare myself for what’s to come. Beads of sweat trickle down my forehead as my anxiety skyrockets past its normal limits. Without warning, I begin to climb.

At this altitude, I can see everything. Each thought that bounces around my mind exhilarates and excites me. Smiles come freely from up here. You can hear my laughter for miles and miles. As slow as the ascent was, I am happy to be this high.

But I know what’s coming. In fact, I can already feel my stomach start to drop.

No matter how much I try, I never fully prepare myself for the freefall. I reach out trying to grasp just one tiny branch to halt my descent. Before I know it, I am right back where I started, standing in line waiting to buy another ticket.

Suddenly, it’s my turn again. Reluctantly, I purchase my ticket, sit down, and fasten my harness. As my hands grab the seatbelt, something inside me changes. A calm and serenity fills each and every part of my weary soul.

“This ride is not for me.” I mumble underneath my breath.

No sooner did those words stumble over my lips, I found myself walking away from the pavilion, feverishly searching for level ground. As my feet pound the unfamiliar soil beneath me, I realize I am lost. Gone are the maps. Gone are the tour guides. Gone are the recommendations from others on what path to choose.

Over my shoulder, I can still see that roller coaster off in the distance. As I trudge along this beaten path, I wonder how I will ever get back to the top again.

I know I will get there.

I will just have to find my own way.

 

What Took You So Long?

4 Feb

Out of the corner of my eye, I catch her playing with a few strings of her chocolate brown hair. Without a doubt, the nervousness that surrounds us outweighs our confidence by a mile now. I watch her feet tap the ground at a rabbit’s pace as she sips some fancy cocktail the waitress placed in front of her on a waterlogged coaster. Pretending not to notice as she glances down at her watch for the third time in the last ten minutes, my mind starts racing. Relying on instinct, I place my trembling hand atop of hers. I find myself transfixed on the sound of her breath as our eyes meet for what seems like the very first time.

Then I heard her voice.

“What took you so long?” she whispers with a smile gracing her gorgeous face.

And with that seemingly simple question, I found myself entranced with each subsequent word that spilled from her lips.

What took me so long?

I’m still trying to figure that one out myself.

%d bloggers like this: