The Egoist

She doesn’t want to want what she wants whenever she wants. She wasn’t trying to be selfish, but nobody ever tries to be selfish. Being open, honest, and straightforward, while all are good traits, aren’t necessarily acts of selflessness; she thought she was in the right by laying all her cards out on the table. Maybe she was doing right by her, but was she doing right by him? We are told that harboring secrets in any capacity is wrong, but the fact is, disclosing the truth is little more complicated.

Nothing really changed … there’s still silence, there’s still a void. She’s still trying to keep that void open and clean, not wanting anything to tarnish it. Sometimes she worries that the void – where he used to be – will be filled by someone else. What frightens her more, however, is wondering if that void will be filled with hate. She doesn’t want to hate, but hating is so easy. She battles with this thought often, her life would be so much more comfortable if she just gave herself permission to resent him; whispers from her friends plant ideas in her head, “he abandoned you, he ghosted you” they say. Even her therapist called him a coward.

Every so often, hate tries to trickle in, and sometimes, it almost makes itself fully realized. Almost. She doesn’t think she’s ever truly hated someone in her life, although she had proclaimed the feeling before. In retrospect, the feeling wasn’t pure, it was a word that was thrown around in childish defiance. It is not in her nature to hate or resent or even dislike — the most annoying and immature people still wiggle their way into her favor. It’s not that she sees the good in everyone, it’s that she possesses a very high level of forbearance.

And even now, after more than a year, she still tolerates the deliberate disappearance of her most beloved companion. It was his choice to abandon her, to block her from Facebook, to block her from Instagram and it will be his choice to come back into her life.

She just has to wait.

She just has to patient.

Not everyone agrees with her optimistic outlook, she had been chastised by only one other person regarding her wishful thinking; “don’t be naive, you have to let him go, this is the end of your friendship”. His words hurt, how dare he squash her remaining strains of hope that someday, one day – be it a year from now or 40 – he might walk back into her life?

Deep, deep down, nonetheless, a very small, insignificant part of her agreed with him — that she was being stupidly idealistic. Why should she even want him to come back to her after all he has done, or rather, hasn’t done? Silent indifference is worse than vehement hate. She wished he had said something, anything “Fuck you, I don’t care about you that way, just leave me alone”, but he remained taciturn. Each time she would reach out, all she would receive as a response was symbol indicating ‘marked as read’.

She stubbornly believes that if she continues to write, to talk, to think about these issues – him, the accident, everything – that one day, these problems will be resolved. However, as time moves forward, she’s beginning to slowly accept that no matter how much she writes or talks or thinks, the only thing that truly remedies her situation is time itself. She would inwardly scoff when people around her would say things like “time heals all wounds”; she refused to accept that some uncontrollable abstraction such as ‘time’ would be the answer to her problems. Despite that, as a new year dawns, she will embrace time as the major player in putting her issues to rest.

She just has to wait.

She just has to patient.

The Homewrecker

It was never her intention to do something so life altering. The attention she received was the sweetest, the most addictive thing she ever tasted. The photos, the texts, the phone calls, the video chats, the meet ups; these acts of love filled her heart until it burst. And when her heart erupted, love wasn’t the only thing that spilled out: paranoia, stress, anger, confusion, guilt… all of this sat like a rock in her stomach, and no matter how much she tried to massage that rock away, it stayed. It feels more like a pebble now, and maybe in time it will turn into a grain of sand.

Years earlier, she had scoffed at her friend when she said “Everyone should experience a really inappropriate relationship once in their lives”. Her eyes had always looked his way but she didn’t think he’d be anything more to her than a man in a plaid robe. She was merely a blip on his radar, but apparently, there was something about her presence that caught his eye. And in a moment of drunken disarray, she impulsively reached out her hand. Surprisingly, he reached back, and no matter how hard they tried, it was almost impossible for them to let go. Almost.

They were pulled apart from each other; Distance took her and Time grabbed him. As hard as they wrestled with these forces, they both knew it was a loosing battle. Now they dance around their past in efforts to remain friends, but it feels like walking on the edge of a building; she keeps looking down, wanting to jump, wondering if he’ll follow.

The Friend

She have a tendency to adapt her personality according to the people that she’s around. Most people might regard this as a positive thing, a normal thing, but for her, this unbreakable habit gives her anxiety. She can’t help but ask herself ‘Am I being fake?’ When she’s around people who are quieter and shyer than she is, she becomes the boisterous, friendly, social type who leads the conversation. When she’s around people who dominate discussion and are more confident, she becomes submissive, she follows their social cues and tries to respond accordingly. Are these variations of herself the same person? She very seldom find herself in situations where various friend groups overlap; she makes it a point to carefully select certain individuals when she coordinates plans. She fears that through her chameleon-like approach to establishing friendships, that she is, in fact, not making any friends at all; that she is this amorphous blob, like water, willing to fit into whatever form she’s placed in. If people are defined by their actions, then what happens when their actions contradict? You’re label as two-faced, a fake, a poser, a phony. She can only hope, that when people talk about her, they can see a commonality in her personality that makes her her, because right now the reflection in the mirror isn’t quite clear.

 

The Smoker

She has smoked two cigarettes in her life – or rather, one and a half. The second time she smoked a cigarette was this past summer. She was at Arlin’s, a bar off of Ludlow with her best friend. She was upset, her ex had left to go back to Connecticut and she needed a drink. The first thing her friend said to her when he arrived was: “God, you look awful.” They chatted, she cried and he smoked. At some point, her friend noticed she was watching his cigarette as he moved it from the ashtray to his mouth and back again. He offered her one and she thought ‘fuck it’; She clumsily tried to light it before her friend had to step in to help. Halfway through smoking the cigarette, she started to feel a little funny. Embarrassingly she said, “I don’t know if it’s because I’ve smoked a lot of spliffs in my day… but I kind of feel like I’m a little high,” He smiled and nodded his head, “ It’s okay,” he responded, “ This is why people smoke. What you’re feeling is not uncommon.”

The Parent

It is said that we all eventually turn into our parents. If that is the case, she hopes to be the embodiment of her father. He isn’t perfect, up until only recently he thought that depression was no different than feeling a little bummed out – take a shower, go for a walk, clean your room or simply just will yourself to be in a better mood, were her fathers’ remedies for clinical depression. Her mother, while much more understanding about depression, couldn’t work through her own psychosis in a healthy way and resorted to nightly, self-medicated doses of Xanax and red wine. Growing up she always thought that her parents were very progressive, open-minded people, but they make insensitive jokes and, although they are jokes, there is an implication the her parents believe some stereotypes; her mother has told her sister that bisexuality ‘isn’t real’ and, although she doesn’t say it outright, she feel that her mother is disappointed that all three of her daughters do not fit her definition of ‘femininity’ – “I don’t know how you girls ended up the way that you did!”

 

 

The Artist

She was about to leave for recess along with her classmates when her kindergarten teacher pulled her aside. She automatically thought she had done something wrong; after all, she was being removed from recess – the ultimate punishment. Her teacher sat her down at one of the tables and started leafing through the students’ orange activity booklets until she found the young girl’s. Each page of the booklet had a prompt at the top – no more than three or four sentences — leaving enough room for students to draw an image of what they read. The teacher opened up her booklet to the most recent prompt. The five year old had drawn an image of a mailwoman wearing a blue cap and a ponytail, walking up to a white picket fence, delivering mail into a mailbox; her leg was bent to indicate walking – depicted was a fully drawn person, not a stick-figure. Her teacher pointed to the drawing, the leg part specifically, and asked the child “Where did you learn to draw like this?” Being a shy, quiet kid and not really understanding what this conversation was truly about, she shrugged. The older woman looked at her dead in the eyes and with the upmost sincerity said: “This is really good, you’re a really good drawer,” The child looked at her, she didn’t remember saying ‘thank you’, she was struck by her teacher’s words which swelled her heart, she never felt that way before. She was good at something – not just good, ‘really’ good. “ Do you want to be an artist someday?” the teacher asked, the child told her she didn’t know what she wanted to be.

The Sister

She was exactly a year and two weeks old when she became a sister. However she doesn’t remember that happening. She can recall when her mother was pregnant with her youngest sister; She was about two. Her mother was sitting on the couch, belly exposed. For whatever reason, the toddler ran up and jumped on the sofa, landing slightly on her mother’s stomach. Her mother screamed and she felt her first true sensations of dread and guilt because she knew she did something that she wasn’t supposed to. She had hurt her mother.

Her sisters were polar opposites – outgoing and reserve, neat and messy, extrovert and introvert. As the oldest, although not by much, she was still expected to set an example. Therefore, she took on the role of peacemaker, she became the mediator between Cain and Able; she was the glue that stabilized her sisters’ bond. In every car ride, in every seating arrangement, in every photo opt, she stood in the middle because, god forbid, if water touched fire. By the time her sisters learned to walk and talk, it became pretty clear that it was her responsibility to facilitate their relationship; it was apparent that her parents weren’t succeeding in that endeavor. Early on in her childhood, she learned how to sit right in the middle between arguments; there’s nothing she hates more than confrontation and perhaps that stems from being the rope in-between her siblings’ never-ending game of tug of war.