All the Things I Couldn’t See – Part One

Have you ever tried to forget someone? Really, truly forget another human being?

Not the crush that wouldn’t return your calls or the clueless boss that fired you.  I don’t even mean the first person you kissed or the one that got away. No, I mean someone who was a part of you in your formative state, someone who played such a critical role in you becoming You that forgetting them meant ripping a little piece of flesh from around your heart and swallowing it hole, in order that you might exist without them.

I’ve done it twice. I’m here to tell you that you can. And also that it isn’t actually possible.

During my early high school years, like many of my peers I was awkward, shy and afraid of everyone else’s opinions. I spent my days reading books, practicing my flute, dreaming about a boy I didn’t have the guts to talk to, and trying to write poetry about feeling virtually invisible. Yeah, I was the very definition of a geek. If you were reading the first chapter of a novel, you’d be rolling your eyes about now. Type cast, to a T.

At the very peak of my introverted teenage angst, for reasons I may never understand, I inadvertently formed a friendship with an older, popular boy from another school. He was gregarious and effervescent and kind and sarcastic. We spent weekend afternoons watching Kids in The Hall, blasting Radiohead and Erasure and Jesus Jones in his car and laughing Dr. Pepper through our noses. I did something I had never done before and showed him some of my writing. He was the first person to tell me that I was born to be a writer, and a light turned on.

I started writing a book, despite knowing I was young and innocent and ignorant to the free world. He was the one person who made me believe I could do it in spite of those things.

I’d like to stop here and say that my feelings for him never went beyond friendship. But I can’t. I fell hard, not only because he was handsome and charismatic, but because he loved me even when I didn’t. (Again, a likely plot device.) I was the stereotypical lonely teenage girl. He was a beautiful boy who accepted me without hesitation. He loved me even when I had zits and cheap knockoff jeans and a messy ponytail. He saw things in and about me and my future that I had never imagined for myself.

But here’s where the plot becomes atypical. The predictable teenage drama did not play out. He didn’t end up as the catalyst for my first-ever broken heart because I wanted things out of us that he didn’t. None of these scenarios happened, none of them were ever possible. Because he was gay.

We were teenagers in the early 1990’s, in Northern Utah. Not exactly a time or place sympathetic to people who had different ideas about what “normal” should be. I was torn between the values I’d been raised to believe as truths and the opinions of my peers and the deep, in-the-soul kind of love I had for this boy.

Still, my knowing this about him added another layer to our mutual understanding. There was no threat of a relationship to alter our friendship. For a time, I was the only person in his life who he openly admitted his truth to. And though it broke my heart a little bit, I recovered, and because of his trusting me with his true self, I was unafraid to show the real me too. He was the only person I admitted to that I wanted to write. Not news articles, not essays. Books. Books about romance and mystery and magic and hope. He was a source of all of those things for me, at a time when inspiration was not so easy to come by.

 During my freshman and sophomore years of high school, when I wasn’t at school, I hung out with him almost exclusively. People would ask if we were dating, his family even, and I would just shrug and say I didn’t know. I did know. I knew I was a solution for him as much as he was for me. He wasn’t straight and I wasn’t gay and none of that mattered. The only important thing was that we understood one another at a time in both our lives when no-one else seemed to.

There was a song that peaked in popularity during that time that still rings true when I think about him. I am not sure how many times those lyrics blasted through the car window without my knowing how ironic they would become.

I don’t believe that anybody
Feels the way I do
About you now

I say maybe
You’re gonna be the one that saves me
And after all
You’re my Wonderwall

My friend was nearing graduation when he told me he was going to attend a university in California on scholarship.  I begged him not to go, and I was so surprised when he got mad at me. He said my spending time with him was a substitution. He said I loved him too much, more than he loved me. He said that what we had wasn’t real.

I cried. He hugged me but said nothing, and then he walked away. In the days after that I told myself I hated him for using me as his “cover,” and I hated myself for having let him in. I was young and stupid, and a small, very naïve part of me was still hoping he’d change his mind and we would end up together. Admitting that I felt this way, 20 plus years later feels like pressing a knife into an old, self-inflicted scar.

He moved on and away and I never forgave him. He sent me one letter, telling me about California, how strange and different the culture was and how he hoped I kept writing my book, but the words I wanted to read were not there. I’m sorry.

We never talked again.  I forced him out of conscious mind and heart for the first time when I threw the letter away and made the decision to never look back.

More tomorrow,

~Cindy

Advertisements

Guest Post- Jenny Shaw

This is a story about a girl who loves a lost boy, very, very, very much. She knew he was guest-postinglost but loved him anyway. He never returned her affections until one night right before his 28th birthday.

She knew it would never last. And it didn’t. But, these are the words that will remained burned into her heart for the rest of her life.

-Jenny

.
.

On a Wednesday night, the last week in May

 you started saying those words.

 I thought it was absurd, surely I misheard…

 You asked me to come back to you after I had gone away…

 So, come back I did, to reassure your soul.

 As you fell asleep, I went to go.

 Told you that I loved you so…then…you started talking too.

It started with “I love you Jenny”

followed by “Goodnight”

I didn’t believe my ears, I couldn’t have heard right.


.

 Two days passed, and then,

 I found myself once again

alone with you in your room

 where you were trapped in your spiral of doom

 trying just to keep yourself afloat…


.
.

 “Don’t leave me”, you pleaded

 my bleeding heart went out to you

I held you in my arms as you cried

“I’m so sorry, Jenny. So very sorry…”

For what, I didn’t know…


“I broke your heart so long ago…”

 That simply wasn’t true, this is what I told you

 I’m tougher than I look & stronger than I seem

 I saw in your eyes then a hopeful gleam

 “I’ve always adored you, I care for you so much

 I was just too afraid to ever let you know.

 I thought I would destroy you, I never wanna hurt you…”

 The sad smile on my face was matched by your own

 when I told you I loved you & I always would…

 But it was time for me to go.

 “No! Please, don’t leave me?

 Don’t leave me; I’m begging you Jenny-Bird.”

 As though your life hung on every word, you pleaded with me to stay…


.
.

couple holding hands

 So, I stayed.


.
.
.

 But the pleading didn’t stop,

 if anything it got stronger & more desperate.

 “I couldn’t stand it if you left, I think I might die if you leave…”

 Then you started to cry…


.
.

 “Oh, Peter Pan,” I said to you, so worried for my friend.

 “Are you talking about when I’m done with school?”

 I felt so foolish. Why should you care if I leave or I stay?

 I didn’t know what to say…

 “I couldn’t bear if you left,” you said in a rush

 Then with your voice quite hushed, through your tears you whispered

 “I think I would die without you here…”


.
.

 My heart stopped

 Tears filled my eyes

 I tightened my arms’ hold around you

 “No matter where I go, no matter what I do

How far away I am… I will never, ever leave you.

 I’ll always be right here for you, Pan.”

 You didn’t like that answer.

 You shook your head; you growled & said,

 “That’s not the same.

 You’ll be gone, I’ll be here…

 You’re leaving in a year.

 You’ll be with what’s his name who does the stuff.”

 You tried so hard to sound tough…

 I laughed,

 you frowned

 I turned your head around

 Took your face in my hands & I said,

 “Adrian. I think you have been misled.

 There is no what’s his name, not now at least

 and if you wanted to…

 You could come with me.”

 Your eyes, how they lit up,

 your smile brightened the room

 I saw you come out of your spiral of doom… and then…


.
.

love in the shadows

 The kiss.


.
.

 The thing I never knew I would miss

.
.

 exactly as I’d always imagined and better at the same time.

 For those minutes, for that hour… You were mine.

 But I knew it wouldn’t last

 the sun would rise, oh so fast…

 And with its rays your words would fade

 Disappearing in the light of day.


.
.

 You felt my hesitation,

 you asked me why?

 So I addressed the situation…

“I’ve loved you for so long,”

 a tear sliding down my face

 “It was always wrong… Wrong time, wrong place…”

With a deep breath I explained…

 “Tomorrow this will be over.

 You’ll wake up, you won’t remember.

 I know you too well, Peter Pan,

 More than anyone else, I understand.”


.
.

 Another growl then these words,

 “MURDER.

 I’ll do whatever it takes Jenny-Bird,

 to prove to you how much I care

Even if it takes forever, you’ll see just how much you mean to me.

Everything I’m doing now, everything I’ve done was to be the man you deserve to have;

so I could deserve you, too.

 I just can’t get rid of you, Jenny-Bird.”

 “Get rid of me?!” I cried, “If that’s what you want, I’ll leave right now,”

 Only half joking, I pulled away.

 You pulled me harder to your side,

 you kissed me long and hard, you said,

 “This connection that we have, it just won’t go away.

 I don’t want it to; I couldn’t imagine life another way.

 I’ve missed you Jenny, so much,”

 You showed me with your touch, the passion in your heart…


.
.
.

 As you drifted off to sleep,

 I wouldn’t let my eyes close

 I wanted to remember everything from this night

 So that when the sun rose and you forgot I would know…


.
.

 You told me that you loved me

you said how much you cared

 more than I had ever dared to hope for

 you showed me in one bittersweet night…


.
.

 It hurts but I know I’ll be alright

 now that once more you’ve gone away…

At least, for just a moment

 you found the courage to say what was in your heart.


 And now, just like we knew you would,

 this night has disappeared.

 It didn’t happen if I don’t remember…

 But I will always remember.


.

  Though our story may be over,   crush couple silhouette

 I will always be grateful for this one fateful night

when our paths met along with our lips

I’ll consider it our farewell kiss

before we embark into our new lives…


.
.

Goodbye Peter Pan.

.

 

About Jenny Shaw:

JennyI grew up in a rural town in northern Utah. My life wasn’t particularly exciting, no grand adventures or epic love stories. The oldest child of a middle-class American family, homeschooled and the only non-LDS family on the block, I didn’t have many friends growing up. So, I made them up. Writing became my escape, my way into the life and friendships I only dreamed of having. 

I’d been singing since before I can remember and writing for almost as long. Eventually, the two merged into angsty teenaged poetry which then evolved into something almost called real music. At this point in my life, my music and my writing are my ways of expressing myself, reaching into the world outside of me to add to it, make it more beautiful than it was before…and it is much cheaper than therapy. Ha!

Top Ten Ways to Romance A Writer Girl

Happy Top Ten Tuesday!

Awhile back I read a post over at Elephant Journal titled How to Love a Girl Who Writes. I showed it to the WTF group and we all had a version of the same reaction, ranging from:

“Oh. My. God.” to

*Sigh* to

“Now I finally understand what’s wrong with me!”

Since the founders of this blog are all writers and (well duh) women,  thought it might be fun to do a top ten list in the spirit of this article. We’re all at different phases of the romantic relationship story in our lives. But when it comes down to it, I think writer girls all really just want the same thing.

 So without further ado…

Top Ten Ways Romance a Writer Girl

10- Give her some S P A C E

For a writer girl, the act of writing is a little like peeing. You think I’m kidding, but seriously. When all systems are in order it flows nicely, it’s a release of sorts, it feels not only natural, but necessary. But it’s private–not something that should really be experienced with another human being in proximity. Respect that not every part of a person should be shared.

And hey guys, reading over our shoulder– whether it’s the last paragraph of an epic novel or a Facebook post, it just gives us the creeps. Just…don’t.

9- Be connected, not clingy

Yes, we want you to be interested in us and the things we love. But if your happiness hinges on ours, well…we’re both in trouble. Writer girls are…uh, emotionally erratic, to say the least. If she’s all undone about the death of a fictional character, or pissy because she has a major case of writer’s  block, hug her. Smile and say you love how passionate she is. And then move on. Offer to give her some alone time, or suggest the two of you go for a drive or see a movie.

We know we are all over the place, and believe it or not, writer girls don’t want someone who’s willing to wallow in our crazy. What we truly need is someone who anchors us to what is real.

8- Go for the quirky over the traditional

When it comes to showing her your love, you aren’t going to get far with the old standbys. The best tokens of affection for writer girls are those that mean something that no-one else would understand. Example: A leaf in a box, from the tree under which you kissed her for the first time. Or an antique key like the one in the story she’s writing.

You know that scene in Stranger Than Fiction, when Will Ferrel’s character gives Maggie Gyllenhall’s character  flours? All the writer girls (not to mention the baker girls) watching at that moment went aaaahhhh and melted just a little bit.


(Not flowers, flours. She’s a baker. See? Quirky and sweet. That’s the ticket.)

7- Embrace her crazy

IMG_1042

Picture of my feet, taken by my husband. No questions asked.

Most likely, if you’re with a writer girl, part of what drew you to her in the first place is her passion. She has the ability to make even the most ordinary moments seem complex, meaningful, and mind-blowing.. (Come on guys, you know this has potential for being hot.) Now, there is the other side of it, when she’s in a dark mood and the fact that you turned on the water while she was talking sends her reeling into the break-up zone. But, instead of being (very, very) afraid- what you need to do is man up and embrace it. Love her for storming off because you brushed your teeth. Go ahead and take that picture of her bare feet on concrete without asking why. Accept her crazy as part of her passion, and she’ll adore you for the rest of her days.


6- Follow your own passions

This one is fairly straightforward. Writer girls believe to the core that everyone should be passionate. Whether its your work, your family or even developing the latest gaming software, you need something that  from time-to-time, pulls you in your own direction. We might act jealous and irritated because you were gone for a day or a weekend…off doing something that doesn’t involve us. But lets face it, a little competition never hurt anyone, and without it, we’re going to think of you as a robot. Find something you love and do it. We’re passionate and we want you to be too.

5-Be Patient

Okay, I’m going to level… Writer girls are constantly being distracted by, well, everything. Probably we’re going to ask you to pull over so we can study the sun streaming through a cornfield, or wait for us while we hammer out a new idea through our laptop keyboard, about a thousand time over the course of our relationship. We need to know this isn’t going to send you through the roof. Which is why # 6 is a great idea. That way, we’re happy, you’re happy.

And we all know what two mutually happy people in a relationship together leads to.

4- Don’t read her writing…unless she asks

For a writer girl, there is nothing more personal than her own writing, especially a work-in-progress.  Don’t invade her privacy without being asked in. And if she truly loves you, she will ask, eventually.

An addendum: If she does ask you to read it, it’s critical that you actually read it. If you pretend that you did, she’s going to know. Don’t fake it, or next time she will. 😉

3- Don’t try to give her ideas…unless she asks

Ditto above, except replace the word “writing” with the word “ideas.” Trying to force your ideas into a writers writing…not to mention into her mind is toxic for a relationship.. Just don’t do it.

2- Be prepared for an epic romance

bare feet togetherI’m going to leave this one to the imagination, which is exactly what writer girls have lots of, which is why you should prepare yourself. For some things, there simply aren’t words.

1- READ.

I chose this as number one because it’s a toughie, and it’s probably the most important. We really, really need to be with someone who reads, and more importantly thinks about what he reads.

Okay, we understand not everyone is a literary connoisseur. You don’t have to read Faulkner novels or Tennessee Williams’ screenplays to turn our heads (Though, I’m not going to lie, we think guys who read Steinbeck and mist up over Of Mice and Men are kinda hot…) Magazine articles, blog posts, even the sports section of the newspaper can offer perspectives you won’t find watching TV.

Bottom line. We’re writers. If you don’t read you’re basically saying you don’t believe in the world that created us. So just do it, okay?

 

Thanks for reading, and hey, if you’re a writer-guy and would like to guest post a Top Ten Ways to Romance a Writer Guy, we’d love to hear from you.

Till next time,

~Cindy

Fragment Friday- Contradictions

Hey readers!

I am very excited about this post.

Its Music Week, AND Fragment Friday, AND its my turn to share some fiction! 

I decided to write something new, just for this post. I’ve been in a bit of a writing funk lately, and this was just the ticket to bring me out of it.This piece is from my (very distant future) book, The Lyrics. This scene, combined with Ed Sheeran’s Give Me Love is a good example of when I hear a song, and it moves me, speaks to the Muse, and fits my characters so perfectly I decide to actually write the song into the story.

One more thing before you dive in. This piece is a little long (Read; it needs editing.) It’s rough, it rambles a little, and it’s probably not the best representation of my writing style. (Read: I finished it last night at 11:39pm.) But it’s fresh, its pure and raw, and that’s what we’re shooting for here on WTF.

If you have comments, questions, complaints, I’d love to hear it all. Help me make it better. We’re all about the feedback!

Hope you enjoy.  ~Cindy

The Lyrics  Chapter 22 – Contradictions

The droning voices and incessant, cacophonic noise of the Karaoke machine finally ceased, and now a 50’s style song pulsed over the bar with a purposeful beat.

Stacey wasn’t on the stage anymore, and she hadn’t gone back to the crowded table of women—Sam could only assume they were dancers, covered in makeup and casting sparks of light around the room with their sequin-covered breasts. When he’d first caught sight of her, bare-faced and wearing a soft-pink hooded sweatshirt and jeans, he was grateful. Rising fame and palpable heartbreak hadn’t changed her yet. That’s it, keep fighting it, baby.

He wandered through the club, trying not to breathe in the scent of alcohol, trying to shut out the sound of ice clinking in thick glasses. He maneuvered around a crowd of women chatting on the dance floor, averted his eyes away from the bartender and made his way toward the back door, propped open. He somehow knew he’d find her there. He drew in a breath.

He could only see the silhouette of her, and she wasn’t facing him. But there was no doubt it was Stacey. She was leaning against the railing and dangling a half-empty thoughtful silhouettebeer bottle over the edge. He hesitated in the doorway, watching the way the flat lamplight bounced off her hair, casting an amber glow onto her nose and cheeks. It was possible, with every subsequent heartbreak she grew a little sadder, a little less sure of herself, and a little more beautiful. She leaned her head back and took a gulp from the bottle. He half smiled, watching her try not to cringe as she swallowed it.

“Hey,” he said, still inside the open door. She whipped her head around but didn’t move in any other way, so that a length of her brown hair swept under her chin, like a fine silk scarf. He could see her throat muscles move as she swallowed so she could speak.

“Sam?” Her eyes widened. “What are you doing here? I haven’t seen you since…I thought you were still in London.”

“I thought you didn’t drink beer,” he said, ignoring her question.

“I don’t.” She swirled the bottle around, looking through the hole at the liquid inside instead of him. “How long have you been here?”

“Long enough,” he said, When he saw her swallow hard and close her eyes, he wished he’d found another way to say it. She laughed sardonically and shook her head.

“That figures. It’s like I’m always finding new ways to humiliate myself.” He started to shake his head but she went on before he could think of what to say. “Cry about my dipshit ex in front of a famous director, a room full of theater critics. Come to find out it was in front of my best friend too. Typical.” Her words stung at him, and he wasn’t sure if it was because he didn’t like being referred to as her best friend, or because he didn’t feel like he’d been any sort of friend, to her or anyone. Not for the past six months anyway.

“Hey,” he said, placing his hand on her arm. “You didn’t do anything except not sing Karaoke. I’m not saying you’re bad, but that’s no crime.” He grinned, but she didn’t smile back. “Ok…so you watched Jake make an ass of himself on national television.  So what? Anyway, you have to know it isn’t true. All that chatter about his broken heart and making babies. It’s bloody nonsense.”

“You mean he made it up? Why?”

“Come on Stace. You’ve gotta know by now— he isn’t above feeding fiction to the press for publicity. It’s part of the game. We do it all the time.”

You don’t,” she said arguably, swirling the beer bottle around so it made a swishing noise. “I don’t.

“Well that’s because you and I—” he paused, wanting those words to slide easily across his tongue and out of his mouth and into the air again. “You and I…” he hesitated.. She turned and looked at him expectantly. “Well. We have a mutual understanding that any publicity is bad publicity.” Her face warmed, she smiled slightly. She was standing next to him now, her arm touching his.

“Tell me why it matters to me Sam,” she said, still swinging the beer bottle and gazing upward. “I wasted five years of my life waiting for Jake. He obviously wants fame more than he wants me. So what do I care if he’s out there, leading someone else on?” Beer on railing

Damn. He’d hoped that things would be different now, that she wouldn’t want to talk about Jake, that she’d no longer regard him as the middle-man. It was that one hope that gave him the courage to walk through the door of that bar. He wanted to pull her into his arms. Even more than he wanted to go to the bar and order a Scotch, even more than he wanted to find that bastard he used to regard as his only confidante and send him through a wall. More than all of it, he wanted to hold her. But he didn’t. He couldn’t.

“Because,” he said instead, forcing out words. “You gave it your all, and it’s tough to stop that momentum.” He swallowed hard. “Because your heart’s still in it.” He wasn’t saying it: The truth that hovered between them like the smoke in the air. Because you’re still in love with him.

She sighed and tipped her head so it touched his shoulder. He didn’t move. She sniffed a few times. She’s crying, he thought.  Suddenly her arm was moving around his waist. He started to hug her, but she reached into his jacket pocket and thrust a carton of cigarettes into the space between them.

“I thought you quit,” she said, her brown eyes flickering.

“I did,” he said, squinting and scratching behind his ear. She opened the carton. One missing. She eyed him for a few minutes, quiet scrutiny on her brow. He waited for her to ask if he’d been drinking. At least then he could say no, and it would be true, and he could be honest about something. But she didn’t ask. She pushed the cigarettes back into his pocket and gave him a weak smile.

“You and I…” she said, shaking her head and reaching for her beer. “At least we’re mutually ridiculous.” She took another long swallow and balanced the bottle on the railing, then opened her arms to embrace him. He lifted his to let her in, and she tucked her head under his chin. He closed his eyes.

hug “I don’t know why you’re here Sam.” Her voice was muffled by his jacket. “I probably don’t want to know why you’re at a bar, in L.A., at midnight. And this is probably really selfish… but I’m glad. I needed a friendly face.”

He hated the way she’d said it. A friendly face. Those words made it clear that things were not different. Time and distance had not changed anything. Up until now he’d been telling himself he’d changed inside and out since the last time he saw her. And maybe he had. But he was still the man she needed without being the man she wanted.

The smoke and the noise from inside the bar drifted out the back door and into the atmosphere, disappearing into the long, waving fingers of palm fronds. Bouts of laughter from the tables inside rose above the murmurs of flattery and pick-up lines, the publicized beginnings of one-night-stands. The music overhead changed from 50’s-pop into something contemporary; novel, with a softer beat. There was a bit of sorrow in the singer’s voice that rung familiar in Sam’s ears. The voice sounded subtly British, not unlike his own, and the lyrics floated out into the night air.

Give me love like her
Cause lately I’ve been waking up alone
Paint splatted teardrops on my shirt.
I told you I’d let them go…
And that I’ll fight my corner.
Maybe tonight I’ll call you
After my blood turns into alcohol.

A couple came onto the patio holding hands. They kissed. Sam watched them for a long time. They started to dance. Don’t, a voice in his head urged. It’s too much. It’s too soon. 

“You wanta dance?” he said, ignoring it.

“I thought you didn’t dance.” She pulled out of his arms and gave him a weak smile.

“I don’t,” he said. She grinned. The realness, the sweetness of it on her lips made him want to tell her. Everything. That he’d been waiting for her to stop reaching for the unreachable. That all the imperfections Jake saw in her were what made her…so bloody perfect. But he couldn’t find a way to make those words into anything outside his own head. Instead, he managed:

“But it seems to be a night of contradictions.”

She laughed, the breathy, soprano notes of her laughter ringing in his ears, and he tried hard to memorize it. He’d forgotten that laugh, how it made him feel: Unafraid.

“You’re right,” she held out her hand.  “I’d love to.”

**********

Hello, you beautiful reader you. If you made it this far, THANK YOU from the bottom of my heart. If you’re interested, I’ve created a soundtrack for this story on Spotify. Find me there and I’ll share it with you. 🙂