Back in June, I began working on In the Gloaming. Originally, In the Gloaming was to be a collection of poetry and short story fiction. But while writing it, the poetry took over, and when I made the decision to pull the short stories from the collection to be used in a yet-to-be-named collection, I felt one-hundred percent that I had made the best decision. And I still do. In the Gloaming is, as of right now, one of my favorite works that I’ve released, due to the extreme honesty each poem written for it embodies. I’m thrilled every time a reader tells me I touched them with one poem or another.
But, those short story fictions? They’ve been sitting there, murmuring at me, and in the past few days? Well, you’ve heard a three-year-old when they want a popscicle, right? They’ve been shrieking, banshee-like at me, wanting to be read. I’ve quieted them down, at least temporarily, with the promise that once I finish the second-round of edits I’ve received from one of my editors and submitted the writer’s grant I’ve been slugging away at for ages, I’ll look them over, finish two or three others, send them off to editors one and two (yes, I am that OCD about getting it right!), and then release them. I’m hoping that between now and then, I’ll develop a title that fits the collection, but honestly, I have no real worries, because titles tend to do what fiction does: take off running to its own destination and waits for the author to catch up and claim it.
I can tell you, however, that this collection touches on the darker side of humanity, and shows the harder and harshest parts of life, giving glimpses into heartache, loss, and the possiblity, but no guarantee, of healing.
But those damn short stories are shrieking at me, yet again, so in an effort to shut them up before editor two jumps my ass for not getting my grant edits done, here’s a small preview of one. I hope you enjoy reading it as much as I enjoyed writing it.
You and I, and I.
“You and I? We’re just fucked, mentally.”
I don’t disagree with Adam’s statement. Certainly, he wouldn’t start lying to me or bullshitting me after twenty plus years of friendship.
“But I’m pretty sure we choose that, that we intentionally choose the path less taken, because it’s much harder to walk upon.”
I stare into the face of my oldest friend, and I see his eyes, the lids at half-mast from all the alcohol he has ingested over the past few hours.
“But you? Yeah, I think you purposely look for that harder path, and then you bomb the fuck out of it with your bullshit, intending it to be harder. Because you’re addicted to the hurt. It’s all you’ve ever known, and you can’t let go of it, so you look for it. And if you can’t find it? Well, baby girl, you cause it.”
My stomach has clenched, and my heart is pounding, and as the bartender brings us another round, he glances at me, reading me. His eyes focus on my neck, and I realize it’s because most likely? He’s seeing the pulse, slamming away against the chain of the necklace I’m wearing.
“How long are you going to continue doing this? How long are you going to live a life half lived, held hostage by this need of yours to hurt as much as possible? How long are you going to hide behind the fears you throw out there?”
I don’t answer. I can’t answer. Because if I open my mouth, I’m going to scream, and then I will break down sobbing, because he is finally doing what everyone else has done, walking away. And he is hurting me, shattering my heart, because he was the one who would never go, not even when I pushed him to do so. So I don’t say anything, my lips pressed together, two hard lines meeting one another against my teeth. I don’t say anything, I don’t blink, because he’s killing me right now, and I’ll be damned if I’ll give him the satisfaction of knowing he’s destroyed a part of my heart that was still whole and beating properly.