Archive for April, 2014

What It’s Really About

Going to the doctor is one of those universal things. We think that it’s about getting medicine and getting better, but that’s only what it looks like. It’s all a façade.

Yesterday I had an appointment. I, Esmeralda Patterson, the girl who doesn’t need anyone, went to the doctor. I’d been fighting it, truly I had. I made excuses. I told myself I could handle all the pain.  It would go away on its own; I just had to power through it. I hardly had a choice to “power through” it anymore; the pain was overwhelming me.

I walked the five sketchy blocks the nearest clinic. I sit in the waiting room. A nurse comes to the door and calls my name.

“Emerald?”

Or at least, she calls a name. It’s not my name.

“Emerald?”

Silence. The man opposite me, the only other patient, clears his throat.

The nurse squints at her clipboard. “Esmeralda?” She says with a roll of her eye.

I follow her out of the waiting room and into a tiny room. She straps the blood pressure cuff on my bicep. I wince as it pinches my skin.

A minute later, she unstraps the cuff, stabs a thermometer in my mouth and snaps a heart rate monitor on my finger. She raises an eyebrow. “Hm. Your pulse is a little high.”

No, really? Maybe my heart is racing because I’m just a bit nervous. Maybe it’s because I think I’m dying. Maybe it’s because I really hate this thing of relying on others.

She tells me to go into examine room number five and take a seat, and then she vanishes. I don’t feel much like sitting, but I ease myself unto the lofted cot anyway. The tissue paper on top of it crinkles with each minuscule movement. The sound grates on my fraying nerves, and so I jump down. I rip the paper doing that, but I don’t care much. I just want to vanish, just like the nurse did. I stand there like that with eyes closed and inhale slowly. This is it, I tell myself. This is my breaking point. This is the moment when I can no longer handle it all on my own. I forced myself to be okay with that.

An hour later, I walk out of the clinic doors, with medication and doctor’s orders in hand. I feel relieved, but not really because of my prescription. Believe me when I tell you that hospitals and clinics are one of those universal things. Everyone thinks  medicine has always been solely about medicine, but that’s just not it.  Medicine is about vulnerability.

Field of Dreams

by: Rebecca Taylor

Things had seemed so simple when Amy Bowers was twelve and she and her friends sat around the meadow pulling the petals off the daisies with each one saying, “He loves me, he loves me not.” The truth then was it was all for fun and she didn’t know what she was wanting from a boy. Fast forward ten years and Amy was twenty-two and trying to decide whether Mitch Coeler was worth her time. He was a nice guy; she would give him that but was he the guy? Did she want to try to make it with him or should she be looking elsewhere? They were compatible as far as that went, they both loved watching scary movies and hockey and curling on television, and they enjoyed Vietnamese cuisine. He was a good cook and she didn’t like to cook, but she didn’t mind doing the dishes afterwards. The meadow in spring time stretched out with all the dandelions and spring flowers bright and colourful. Now, the dandelions had turned to fluff, would that happen to her life too, all of a sudden it would be bright and beautiful – full of hope and dreams and the next thing she knew she would be looking back at what had been. The problem was she didn’t know if Mitch was supposed to be part of her future but she also didn’t want to look back and regret his not being there. Amy had dreams for the future and they stretched out farther than the field. She knew she wanted to be successful in her career as a graphic designer, and that she wanted children. She could close her eyes and see herself bringing them to the meadow and watching them run around and spreading out a blanket and enjoying a picnic. The thing was in that fantasy, she could see the children with their smiles and a handful of flowers outstretched to her but she couldn’t see the children’s father. She hoped for a happy relationship and wanted the children to have a dad who was always there but she didn’t know who he was. Sitting on the warm grass watching the gentle breeze pull the dandelion fuzz into the distance made her feel lonely and usually she loved the quiet solitude of the meadow. Mitch had asked her to move in with him when he had seen a great opportunity on a nice apartment. He had told her it could be their home, but as much as he mattered she didn’t know if they could last or if they did would they be able to be happy always? The news was bleak on relationships and while she had always heard her grandma talk about the seven year honeymoon period, the radio was claiming it lasted two and a half years after marriage. If she just lived with Mitch, could they keep their relationship fresh, knowing that while they chose to be together, they were not tied together? Would the non-existent ties keep them together because they knew that they had to try? Was monogamy over-rated? Too many thoughts were running through her head when a hand on her shoulder interrupted her. Startled, she turned her head to face whoever was behind her.

                “I figured you’d be here,” said Mitch. “You didn’t sound so good on the phone this morning.” He sat beside her and pulled her close so that her head was resting on his shoulder.

                “I was just thinking about us. I don’t know if I can move in with you or not. I’m scared.”

                “Don’t you think everyone is when it comes to this?” he asked, “I didn’t make the decision to ask you to live with me lightly. I like the way I feel when I’m with you, enough to give this a try. There are no guarantees on relationships, just love and hope.”

                “Are they enough?” asked Amy, “To keep us together?”

                “I’d like to think so. You mean the world to me, Amy Bowers. Today, I can’t think of being with anyone but you.”

                “But that’s just it, that’s today. Today, I want to be with you too, but what if enough tomorrows come that we change our minds?”

                “What if enough tomorrows come that we don’t. Are you willing to walk away from me today because of something that might happen?”

                “No,” answered Amy, “At this moment, I don’t want to think of my life without you here beside me. I’m happier when I’m in your arms.”

                “And every morning that’s how you’re going to wake up. And if our hearts are as happy or happier than they are now, we will both be blessed.”

                Amy smiled, snuggling in closer to Mitch. For the moment, she could imagine life with Mitch as they sat together watching their babies grow. Neither of them knew what was beyond the field, but she wondered if maybe sometimes you didn’t need to know, because what was in front of you could be plenty to smile about.

 

Because I Used to Like You

Today I took a hammer to the necklace you gave me. Also, the earrings, the shot glass and that dumb little mirror that I can barely see my face in.

I couldn’t yell at you. I couldn’t tell you how much I hate you right now (well, not so much after the hammering). I couldn’t tell you how I felt about everything you didn’t say.

I made my choices and you didn’t like them. You came up with the consequences for my actions. You decided to ignore me. Maybe a little part of me deserved that. Maybe since I pretty much left you without explaining why I was going. It wasn’t an actual boyfriend-girlfriend breakup where I’m like “Its over” and you’re like “Why” and I give you some cliche answer like “I must travel far far away to find my true self that has been lost.”

It was more like I just detached myself because it wasn’t right. I guess I didn’t leave you an explanation. I supposed I didn’t tell you why. But I think maybe you’re smart enough that you can figure out that we have different life paths. Maybe you should be able to JUST PUT IT TOGETHER that you created the divide between us by becoming someone who didn’t ever spend a casual Friday night in, someone who wouldn’t ever talk to me seriously like I need to be talked to, someone whose life revolved around a culture that we agreed didn’t have much to offer us in the end.

And so I ignored you and we became acquaintances again. Not angry acquaintances, or so I thought. But then your anger came out, months later, when I talked to your friends about the excessive smoking and doing nothing at all with your life. They talked to you and you pinned me as the instigator of your reform committee.

If only you knew it was only because I used to like you. I thought you were great! And then you changed on me. Or your mask fell off. It doesn’t really matter because, even though part of me was mad, most of it was because there is a part of my heart that is still soft for you. Not because I love you or am not over you, but because what we had, our relationship and those moments were more than just a little fling. More than just the average relationship. Or so I thought.

Today, I just had to let all my anger go at you. I know yelling at you won’t do anything because it isn’t the right way to approach you. See, I even know the right way to approach you. I also know that I want to be a good person and that this is my anger I need to deal with, not yours.

So I took a hammer to it all. I also broke that stupid glass your friend left at my apartment, the one with the elephant on the front, for good measure. I enjoyed breaking it and throwing it in the trash. Part of me wanted to put it in a card and send it your way but I know that I’m not that angry. That’s the hurt coming through. The pain of someone who left someone else for her own good but didn’t explain. The pain of someone who hates being hated for trying to do the right thing by talking to your friends. The pain of someone who has a history with you.

Maybe someday we will talk. But for today, I broke it all. Then I threw it away.

I feel a bit better, actually. I think I might be ready to blow on another dandelion and make a new wish because I can stop looking back at my old, bent up and squashed ones that didn’t work out.

 

 

 

Legend of the Dandelion

I shaded the orange sunlight from my face with a straw hat. As I lounged among the dandelions, my mind ran off with my thoughts like a hamster on a wheel.

I remember the day he broke off the engagement.

He had just dropped me off at home, where I lived with my sister. He had just dropped the bombshell: “This isn’t working.” Tears hadn’t even come yet. Shock had set in and sorrow would come later.

“Why? What did he say?” My sister asked once I’d told her.

“He said we’re ‘too different.'” I, of course, refused to agree, and told him as much. I also told him a bunch of things I shouldn’t have, things like “you’re too much of a wimp for a relationship” and other things I probably shouldn’t have said. Now my whole mind felt like it was under anesthesia.

“I’m sorry, Lily.” My sister’s eyes showed her sincerity, but she patted my shoulder awkwardly. She’s never been a physical touch kind of person.

“What do you think?” I asked.

“About what?”

“Do you think we’re ‘too different?’ Because I don’t. He’s being irrational. And scared.”

“Well…”  She paused.

“Well, what?”

“Well, I’ve always thought it was interesting that you’re so introverted and he’s an extrovert. You’ve said he’s a workaholic, and you enjoy a leisurely pace. He’s clingy, you like your space.  You’re a penny pincher, he’s not. He’s a vegan, you love bacon. You’re…”

“Thanks, Cam,” I said sardonically. “You know, he and I are the same sometimes. We both love the outdoors. Remember the old gazebo in the yard that he and I always hung out in? We agreed on that. And we had love for each other in common.”

“But is that enough?” Cam asked.

I always thought it was enough. And now, a few months later, I still do.

Laying among the tall grass, the tall grass in my yard by the old gazebo, I I rolled over and a tall dandelion shaded my face. I held the stalk in my hand, staring philosophically at the fluffy seeds. Folklore had it that if you wanted to say something to an estranged loved one, you could blow the seeds in the direction the loved one lived and the message will be carried off. Not that I believed it, but I found myself telling the poor dandelion:

“I never meant those things I said. I hope you can forgive me. And…” I rolled my eyes at the thing I’d been holding back. “… and I love you so much that I’d even give up bacon for you.” I frowned. “But if you love me, you won’t ask me to change.” I paused and regained my solemnness.  “I hope we can find each other again.”

I blew the seeds into the sky and rolled back into the grass. I must have dosed off in the warm sunlight.

“I thought I’d find you here.” That voice.

I sat up in a flurry, dandelion dust and my own hair flying every which way. “How did you find me?”

“Knocked on your door, but your neighbor told me you were back here.” He offered his calloused hand and pulled me up.

I spoke first. “I’m sorry.”

“I know. Me too.” He paused.  “And I love you.”

I already knew that. “I love you too.”

“I know.”

Sometimes things don’t even need to be said, but the words are so beautiful you say them anyways.

That was almost twenty seven years ago, and we’ve been married for twenty six. Ever since that day, no one has been able to convince me otherwise about two things: the truth of the dandelion folklore, and the hope that two people, no matter how different, can work together.

April’s Picture Prompt

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Dandelion fuzz… wishes… summer days… Whatever comes to you, write about it.

My Reason

by: Rebecca Taylor

From this week’s writing prompt. 

Sometimes I wonder why I’m here. What am I truly doing here, in this world all at once full of mystery and magic and malice? Why am I a part of it? Then I remember that I’m here because I have a gift. I have a gift that no one else does; one that will control my destiny and other’s. My gift is the inability to give up on others. Perhaps, that sounds cliché or just another word for determination, but with me it is different. This gift or curse, depending on where you stand, refuses to let me walk away from people who are in trouble or doing wrong. It means that I see tons of pain but also sometimes the reward when these people come out of the darkness and see that the world can be beautiful despite the trauma they have dealt with. Where does my gift find me? In a rehabilitation center where I can use what I’ve got to help others. I’m the one they call when a patient comes in and refuses to try to work with the staff to improve his or her life. My reputation has earned me some rather interesting and harsh nicknames along the way but that is just the way it is. Even if I thought that tomorrow I could walk away and start a new life on some bright and sunny island with no problems, I wouldn’t be able to leave until I had dealt with my last patient and by then I’d have more.

Besides, everywhere I go my so-called gift follows me. It’s been with me forever. My friends growing up were kids who needed help, and even though a lot of their family issues were messy I didn’t have a choice but to sit and listen to what they had to say and ask my parents what to do about it and nag them until they made sure that everything was going to be alright. At the time I think everyone just thought I was a good Samaritan kid or a show‑off but the truth is I was too young to understand some of these kids problems. However, I grew up and didn’t get to stay naïve forever. The worst night of my life was prom. Some of my classmates snuck out to the alley across the street with alcohol and as the night went on, some of them got very drunk and into a fight. Things turned ugly and I ended up out there, something made me go there. One minute I was dancing with my date and the next I was in the alley yelling at Tommy Unger and Bobby West to stop fighting. It was terrifying, they were using broken bottles as weapons and they each already had cuts on their arms and faces. They were too intoxicated to be reasonable and for some reason I stepped between them. I have a long jagged scar on my left arm to prove it, but somehow seeing the blood flowing from me, in my pretty blue prom dress stopped them in their tracks. I don’t give up, but that doesn’t always mean I am smart about my tactics, but I’m learning more with each passing day.

And who am I? Lizzie Yougetti, a trained physical therapist with a bad rap and a binder full of notes from previous patients. People might not like me but I don’t have any choice but to get the job done. But on today’s agenda, is a task I am going to cherish for a long time, showing a man’s family that he is walking again, and who will be with him? His infant daughter who is also learning how to take her first steps. Moments like this make me remember that there is a reason I have the “gift” that I do.

 

Outcast Phase

Re: Writing Prompt from Monday:

“Sometimes I wonder why I’m here. What am I truly doing here, in this world all at once full of mystery and magic and malice? Why am I a part of it? Then I remember that I’m here because I have a gift. I have a gift that no one else does; one that will control my destiny and other’s. My gift is…”

Nothing.

I’ve woken up from my dream. You would know, if you were part of my Kingdom (which you most certainly aren’t), that I’m in the Outcast Phase of my life.

I simply wander this ridiculous town where they’ve placed me. I’m supposed to be “finding myself” and learning what sort of magical talent I have that I’ll be able to contribute to the Kingdom when I get back. It was fun for a while, I’ll admit. I loved leaving my home town. Exploring. Finding new friends and things to do. But its been almost a year. And guess what? I am no closer to finding myself than I was before. No new magical talent randomly resurfaced today.

My trip is funded by the Kingdom. We are given a check card for spending. Our budgets are set for us and the the Kingdom will block any unnecessary purchases.

Fortunately, I’ve learned some ways around only being able to spend money on necessities. I simply need to get cash back at Target and turn in a fake receipt of somewhere I bought food from. The Kingdom doesn’t know any better.

So I’ve been saving. Not quite from day one of Outcast Phase, but for a long time. Probably ever since I realized that I couldn’t find any supposed magical talent, much less myself.

Yesterday, I went to the Apple store and got the information on how to disable my GPS advice by pretending to be a (very) young parent who wanted to make sure she’d be able to find her kids as long as they had their phone on them. Disabling the system was as easy as knowing the right buttons to click on my Apple account.

Now the Kingdom wouldn’t be able to find me. I had money and I was headed to the airport.

I had given them 11 months. I have been through five other Phases in my life and apparently there are over 100 if you are an overachiever. I just can’t take it anymore.

If they can cast me out, then I can become a rebel. I can leave the Kingdom behind and create a paradise within myself.

And so I’m leaving, on a jet plane. Never to start another Kingdom Phase again, but to make a phase of my own.

Goodbye.

 

 

Ignorance is Bliss

Sometimes I wonder why I’m here. What am I truly doing here, in this world all at once full of mystery and magic and malice? Why am I a part of it? Then I remember that I’m here because I have a gift. I have a gift that no one else does; one that will control my destiny and other’s. My gift is confusing for other people, or at least, it would be, if ever told anyone about it. But I haven’t told anyone. Not even my boyfriend. The pretend scenarios in my head with me coming out about my gift never end well. Who would believe me anyways, if I said that I can smell emotion?

I am homicide detective Ellie Hollins. I’m like the opposite of the fictional Shawn Spencer from Psych. Shawn pretends to be a psychic detective while working for the police department, but he relies not on psychic powers but on his own observational skills. At my police department, I work under the guise that I am keenly observant, but no one knows that I rely on my sense of smell. I suppose in some sense we’re both liars. Still, I always say there is a gray area when it comes to lies.

Emotion also leaves a lingering smell in the air, even after the person has left. Thus, by searching the suspect’s apartment or even finding a trace footprint will leave a strong enough whiff to hint to his or her state of mind. My co-worker’s suspect t killer struck out of jealously? His fruity smelling apartment, the odor of contentment, says otherwise. Happy people don’t kill their wives for revenge. My boss once ruled a death a suicide. But at the crime scene, I didn’t smell despair and loneliness as I would have expected. I smelled fear and pain.  I dug deeper and found that some crime scene details matched a string of murders done by a serial killer. The victim had been tortured by the killer, thus the lingering fear in the air.

So I am able to change people’s destiny, in a way. I can protect the dignity of an innocent person, and stop a murderer’s killing spree.

One thing I can’t seem to do is hold on to a steady relationship.

Tyler picked me up from work today. My boyfriend of six months, he’s the longest running relationship I’ve ever had. Usually I catch them in a lie before now. The smell of a lie is too distinct and too painful for me to ignore.

“So I was thinking,” I say as I climb into his car, “that instead of going to our usual place for dinner, we switch it up. Go to something more elaborate. We should celebrate.”

“Celebrate what?” He says, pulling out of the police department parking lot. I can smell anticipation emanating from him.

“Six months,” I say. He knows my tumultuous past about length of relationships. He should understand how big of a deal this is.

But now I smell hesitation in the car. “Six months, huh?”

I watch him squirm, but wait, knowing that there’s more he isn’t saying.

“You know, babe,” he starts, “that’s something we ought to talk about.”

“What’s that?”

“Six months. I just think it’s time to, you know…”

The words “move on” hang in the air. The car reeks of his restlessness and fear. Fear? “You’re scared of where this is going, of commitment, aren’t you?”

He stares at me. “What? How did you know that? I didn’t say that.”

“You didn’t need to.” I shake my head. I knew this was coming.  “You can let me off at the corner. It reeks in here.”

“What?”

“Just let me off here.”

“I still want to be friends…”

I get out of the car and think of all the couples I see everyday.  A woman hanging on a man’s arm, giggling at something he said. Does she know that he smells of insincerity and lies? Does he know that the stench of disloyalty clings to her very clothing? I realize now that I don’t want that. I’ll never know if ignorance is truly bliss; and I want it that way.

New Writing Prompt

Good afternoon!

Here at Paradise on Paper, we’ve decided to discontinue our writing advice week and instead start a writing prompt week. The week of that post, all three stories will be related to the prompt, much like our picture prompt posts… but without the picture.

We’d love it if you joined us in writing! Feel free to post your story in the comments. 🙂

Without further ado, let me introduce our first ever, original, monthly writing prompt:

Sometimes I wonder why I’m here. What am I truly doing here, in this world all at once full of mystery and magic and malice? Why am I a part of it? Then I remember that I’m here because I have a gift. I have a gift that no one else does; one that will control my destiny and other’s. My gift is…

Where Would I Be

I am posting a poem for your enjoyment, In honour of poetry month

by: Rebecca Taylor

Where would I be if I wasn’t doing what I’m doing?

Where would I be if I wasn’t the person I am?

Would I choose to go back in time

And be a Southern Belle going to all the parties like Scarlett O’Hara

Would I be an independent woman forging a path for women’s rights?

Maybe I would decide to be a man

And own a really big ranch and be able to make my own decisions

With nobody thinking, it was strange that I was running it.

 

Would I decide to go into the future

And take a space shuttle to the moon

Maybe I’d be a great doctor

And find a cure for cancer and save the lives of our friends and family

Could I be a world leader

And find an end to war and create a world of peace.

 

Would I stay in the present

And become a TV anchor

Or maybe I’d be an actress or sing on the silver stage

Accept a Grammy award and give a great speech

Could I end up being the owner my own company

Would I sell household hints or plan weddings for brides.

 

Maybe I wouldn’t be a person

Could I be a cat living with a loving family

Sipping cream from my own bowl

Would I be a wild mustang

Running free through meadows

Discovering places unknown.

 

 

Where would I be if I wasn’t doing what I’m doing?

Where would I be if I wasn’t the person I am?

Would I get the choice of where to go

Would I be able to decide what to be

Who knows where the road to life leads or where it’s come from

Who would I be, where would I be

Will remain a mystery.

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