2020 Blew Chunks

2020 blew big ass chunks. And it’s over. And today is the official first day of 2021. Despite the fact that we all now have PTSD from COVID-19, political and racial tension, and staying home with our kids for almost a full year, and helping to virtual school, some good things came out of this year for me and my family. I also learned a bunch of things about myself, which I guess is stellar considering I’ve had 40+ years to figure these things out. Who knew we needed a global pandemic to gain some perspective? Here’s the Top 10 of 2020.

  1. We moved. We love our new city. Charlotte is fucking ah-mazing! And it will be even better once we can see more of it. We love our neighborhood. We love our friends. I have never felt more welcome moving anywhere in my life. I don’t know if it was the circumstances of the pandemic, but we made friends easily, and we are so thankful that they were able to be stand-in family as we moved away from those we loved.
  2. I figured out that I am a pretty good cook. I can follow a recipe with the best of them. Things my kids liked: chicken stir fry, broccoli chicken casserole, the rice in pork chop casserole (although there was way too much of it for us to eat). Things my kids did not like: almost everything else I made.
  3. I can bake with the best of them. Mostly cookies. Because cookies are the best fucking dessert, and if you don’t think so you can fight me. Chocolate chip, Gingerbread, Sugar. Bring it on.
  4. I am still really lousy at keeping a clean house. And it is really hard to do when four other people are living at home all the time. Well, really three other people, because the oldest child basically lives with another family at this point. Random Side Thought: Trying to make a teenager understand that pandemics can spread is so hard. They think they are invincible, and they are so into their friends at this age. Being with family all the time, not for them. I do love seeing the person he is becoming, and I don’t agree with the general sentiment that teenagers suck. I think they’re dealing with a lot, just like us, and need to be given the benefit of the doubt. Just as long as they keep wearing their masks.
  5. When gifted a lot of time in my life, what did I do with it? Write? Read? No, I binge watched Netflix and almost every other streaming service in the world (and there are a shit ton of them–I mean really, how many do we actually need?). Normal People, y’all. So good. NSFW and NSFK (Kids, is that even an acronym?) Why do we talk in acronyms now. The Queen’s Gambit. All 12 seasons of the Big Bang Series. The Middle with my middle child. Sex and the City. I finally watched both Deadpools. Slightly disturbing and bloody, but so funny. And Ryan Reynolds–man, I need you in my life (sorry R!). Really, now you know why I’m lousy at cleaning.
  6. I really like my husband. Like really like him. I mean, yes, there have been some ups and downs over the last few months. We moved for his job, and basically he is still working from home. So cray-cray. And we share a home office. And he walks and talks on the phone, and he often does that right behind me while.I’m.trying.to.work. And sometimes he eats lunch at his desk, and let me tell you, he chews so loud. (I’m sure I do too, but I can’t hear me). But he’s nice and funny. And he makes me laugh. And he’s not-as-lousy at cleaning. And he cooks. And he’s a pretty good dad. And he tries. And he understands that I need alone time, and that sometimes I’m depressed and want to lie in bed all day or take a bath with candles and be left alone. He puts up with a lot of my shit. But really, he is my best friend. And it possibly took a global pandemic for me to figure this out. For those of you who know me and my husband, you know we have had a lot of ups and downs over the year. But we all good. There’s no one I’d rather spend a pandemic with, R.
  7. My sister and I bonded over Animal Crossing. We play a lot. It’s fun, and our characters have the best clothes. We talk on the phone and play. So much fun. We did a lot of playing over the summer, and then she had to teach, and I didn’t realize how much I’d miss our daily chats and play. But I did miss them.
  8. My family is the best. We Zoom once a week. I miss my mom and dad a lot. We went from living 5 miles away from them to about 400 miles. That sucks balls.
  9. My dogs get me. They are my emotional comfort animals for sure. Jazz got throw up sick and I thought she was going to die. She didn’t–thank God. But it made me realize how much comfort they gave me. Also, my dog looks really freaking cute in pajamas. I may have bought more dog clothes this year than I bought human clothes.
  10. The biggest thing I learned was to not take friends and family for granted. Before March 13, 2020, we were all going in different directions. R working, me working, kids at school, activities. Life felt so stressful. I felt pulled in a million different directions all the time. Overwhelmed, strung out. We took a big pause. Everything changed drastically and suddenly. That part sucked so much. But in the end, I realized how much these people in my life mean to me. And we were able to slow down and really reconnect. Will we have that chance again once this is over? Who knows. I love my friends and family so much.
Jazz in PJs — the best of 2020!

Lastly, as we move into 2021, COVID has not mysteriously disappeared. It is getting worse all over the U.S. Hospitals and ICUs are overwhelmed. The vaccinations are taking longer to distribute than was originally anticipated. Even once we’re vaccinated, we need to stay vigilant. My family has been so lucky in that we have not lost anyone to the pandemic. We have been careful. And there is hope. But many of us are experiencing pandemic fatigue. We want life to go back to normal, and we think if we just pretend there isn’t a pandemic it will go away. Well, this is not true. That’s why so many people are getting COVID right now and why so many people are needlessly dying. All those people who traveled for Thanksgiving thought, it will never happen to me. Well that type of thinking can almost guarantee it will happen to you! We as humans have this tendency to think we can escape travesty. We have this ability to look at statistics and think they only apply to other people. Perhaps this is a survival mechanism, a gift curse to us from our cavemen days. Pretending something won’t happen never means that it won’t happen. It just means you’ve closed your eyes to the possibility of it happening, so when it inevitably happens you act blindsided. So act as responsible as you can. We are all so tired. We all want this virus to end. But what we need to want more than all of that is for our loved ones to be safe and healthy. And we can only do that by continuing to social distance, to mask up, and to make the right decisions every day for ourselves and those we care about.

So be careful, stay safe, have hope, and GET VACCINATED in 2021 as soon as it’s available to you.

Now I’m going to try to write a book again. Take that 2020–on to the next year, the next goal, the next step.

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Making Changes

Did you know there are people who have lost weight and gotten fit since Covid-19 started? I hate those people. Just kidding–sorta. I really do hate those people sometimes.

My whole life I have struggled with weight. I have never been a small person. In high school, I played tennis and had an athletic build. Of course, most of the time I looked bigger than I really was because of the clothes. I still can’t believe some of the things we wore in the 1990s.

My mantra this week is to do 5 things a day on my list. Since coming home in March, I’ve had a hard time with motivation. Blame this on my ADHD or something, but I find it hard to get off the bed, or stop binging Netflix. I have consistently walked with my neighbors. I’ve also consistently made excuses for why I packed on 15 pounds. I can tell you why I gained weight: I ate and drank too much and I didn’t move enough.

In that past, about 9 years ago, after my daughter was born I lost about 60 pounds. I did this by eating less and moving more. I know I can do that again. I am back to the same weight I weighed 9 years ago when I decided to lose that weight. It’s funny, because I consistently told myself I would never be that weight again, but here I am.

I know weight doesn’t make a person, but the truth is I feel better about myself when I weigh a certain amount. I can breathe better (I have asthma). I can keep up with the kids more. I’m happier with my body and my self image. Those are important things toward my overall happiness.

I’m sick of doing nothing, so instead I’ll do something.

Today my 5 goals:

  1. Ride my bike
  2. Clean the kids’ bathroom
  3. Write/Blog
  4. Spend Time Away from my phone and with My Husband
  5. Log my Food All Day

I think it’s important to recognize when changes are warranted and to start making them. As a person, we all grow and change as we move through life. I spent a lot of time at home once COVID-19 changed all of our lives. I am a homebody, and this is where I felt most comfortable. Unfortunately, it meant my life became more sedentary without me even realizing it. So I’m going to change for me!

Here’s to living life with purpose.

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Everything…and Nothing Sometimes

My attempts to blog more frequently have been thwarted by my attempts to do everything…and nothing sometimes. Virtual school takes up a lot of time. Not like I’m going to school, but I have to do a lot of follow-up with my kids to make sure they’re turning things in. I’m still not sure they’re actually turning things in all the time.

COVID-19 is so strange. I have been home more in the last 6 months then I probably have been home in my adult life. When I go to the CVS to pick up something, it feels like a REAL outing! Also, my husband and I are together ALL the time. I told my sister I think I have seen him more these last six months then the first 16 years of our marriage. I used to actually go to work. Now I just go downstairs to work.

Some days I do everything and some days I do nothing. Productivity during the time of COVID is hard. It’s like there’s a little voice whispering to me on certain days that streaming 9 hours of television and drinking too much is okay. And then I have what I like to call guilty days where I decide I will turn over a new leaf. On these days, I go for a run, log my food, get all my work done, read, and spend quality time with my kids. I need more guilty days in my life.

I have over the last few months been wondering if I am suffering from depression again. I went through a bleak period a few years ago where I had some familial issues. Those were dark times. I worry on days when I am feeling particularly low, but then I think of all the extenuating factors. First, the whole world stopped in March of 2020. And the U.S. couldn’t get its head out of its ass long enough to put policies in place to stop the spread or at least slow the spread of COVID. Then there became a lot of social unrest (granted–it’s about time). And don’t even get me started on politics. And then the kids had to do virtual school. Oh, yeah, and we moved away from our family and had to make new friends, move into a new house, and start all over. These are big life stressors.

My whole life I have grappled with the big question of why we exist. When my kids were born I knew I existed because of them. Holding my newborn son for the first time felt so eye-opening. But as months and months stretch on I wonder what my specific purpose is. I think about how I could have been so creative during this time. I could have really tuned into my writing, and I wonder why I chose instead to binge watch every single show on Netflix. I would like to live a purpose-driven work, but sometimes it just seems like so much work.

I met someone the other day who said her purpose in life is to make fun. Or maybe she said to have fun. I mean, how amazing is that? Sometimes I think as human beings we are too hard on ourselves for living our lives, for not being perfect, and for not being okay all the time. I struggle with my sad feelings, thinking I have such a great life that I should be happy. But what is happiness without sorrow? It simply does not exist.

Photo by vi Media on Pexels.com

I wake up each and every day with hope. I have my cup of coffee. I read or watch a little television. And then I tell myself that whatever I do today will be enough. That some days I’m capable of doing everything. And some days I’m capable of doing nothing. And that’s okay.

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Fly Wars 2020

This blog post is dedicated to my husband, Rob, who has an intense hate for house flies.

Being little is not easy. I like to buzz around the world, interjecting myself into a group. I always try to be inconspicuous, but people aren’t easy, ya know? First of all, they’re big. Giant, to be exact. I mean, it’s sort of crazy that people have feet and stomp around their BIG houses, eating their BIG food, and talking with their BIG voices. Then these humans have the audacity to go around with these things they call magazines trying to slap the life out of us. Come on, give me a break. I have three eyes for a reason.

One day the people were celebrating something. All these beautiful bursts of lights filled the sky. The humans seemed happy. They ate a lot of food. The humans left the doors wide open. A lot. The man human with black hair, but mostly balding, went in and out with food. I landed on a hot dog once, but the humans shooed me away. I hate being shooed. No one likes us flies. It’s the biggest disaster of my entire existence. Oh to be liked–how wonderful would that be?

The man human hated me. So I buzzed right into his house and laid my eggs. Humans can’t see fly eggs. They are tiny. One thing about us: we’re prolific. In total I laid about 150 eggs over a few days. I knew the humans would kill some of them. That’s what predators do. But then I flew around the kitchen. You should have smelled the smells. Roasting hot dogs, Chinese food, crusty leftovers on the plates in the sink that no one bother to wash. A fly dream. I bided my time, hiding in the laundry room occassionally and drinking from the water rings left on the tables from the kids’ glasses.

Finally, the babies emerged. And the mostly bald man went crazy. He and the bald woman talked about something. But who understands humans? They seem to talk and talk but never get anywhere.

I managed to evade the sticky tape, but a lot of my babies were murdered by it. Then the man started spraying a noxious fume. He would chase after me and the babies with a magazine, or a shoe, or anything he could lay his hands on. It was all out war, I tell you.

But somehow I managed to escape, out the door. Left the wonderful smells. Left my remaining babies. I can only hope they managed to escape a slow, painful death at the hands of the balding man.

I moved on. I’m still looking for another place, maybe more wonderful. Maybe a place more tolerant of flies. A place where I can fly around, eat, and be at peace.

Who knows though, maybe one of my children is still in that house, biding their time, looking for the right partner, and getting ready to start the cycle all over again.

A fly sitting on a cake
By: Petr Kratochvil (Website)

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Not__________Enough

Not pretty enough. Not skinny enough. Not smart enough. Not fast enough. Not talented enough. Not good enough.

Little Lauren

Ever since I was a kid, I’ve felt like I’m not enough. These are the mantras I’ve told myself about myself for years. Self-doubt and a crisis of confidence have haunted my life. I am not sure why, but from an early age I felt a little less than. Part of it was the alopecia and not knowing how to deal with it. I mean, my mom brushed and put barrettes in my hair to hide my bald spots until I turned twelve. Part of that hiding made me hide who I truly was, probably even from myself.

I think for a lot of my life I have been scared to tell people what I really think or who I am. I am sure this has impacted my friendships and relationships. I’ve been scared to assert myself (my husband would disagree with this, and probably my children too because I’m comfortable around them). I told myself to just be kind and people would like me. But sometimes being kind means getting stepped on and not being true to yourself. There is a middle ground for sure.

I told myself a lot of negative messages about myself, while assigning perfection to other people who probably tell themselves a lot of these same messages too.

Not skinny enough. I always had an athletic build in high school–I played tennis and it was pretty much my life. After high school, I packed on the pounds. Freshman 15? More like Freshman 45! I have always struggled with my weight and let it define me. And why? Weight has nothing to do with my talents or my personality, but people do look at weight and judge a person. I have done it myself–looked at an obese person and wondered how they got there. And I’m not skinny, so that ain’t fair at all!

Not smart enough. As a kid, I went to one of the most prestigious schools in Montgomery, Alabama. I felt like a complete idiot. Everyone there seemed smarter than me. I struggled, especially in math, and was so embarrassed by this that I often hid my grades from my parents. I also had two older sisters at the school who seemed to do fine. Of course, one of my sisters studied her butt off, and I never did that–I sort of had this fly by the seat of the pants attitude about life. And it ended up working for me…until it didn’t.

Not talented enough. I have always loved to write. As a kid, I wrote these long stories mostly about people growing up in the Civil War Days. I had a huge obsession with Abraham Lincoln and triplets. I wrote most of my childhood, but I never felt talented enough to turn the writing into anything. I let other people’s ideas of what I should do influence me. I felt like my writing talent was not enough to make anything substantial. I told myself this even when I published a book, and after that book went out of print.

Not fast enough. A few years back, my sisters decided we would all run a half-marathon together. I said, “Thanks, but no thanks. I do not run.” Well, sibling pressure is real, y’all. I ended up training for 20 weeks, hurting my foot, you name it, but competed and finished the Nashville Rock ‘n’ Roll half-marathon. But I’ve never been fast. I trained all that time and still had trouble with pacing, keeping up with my sisters, and increasing my time. I told myself I wasn’t fast enough to be a real runner.

Not pretty enough. I have never looked at myself and thought I was pretty. As a child, I struggled a lot with self-image. I had alopecia, and kids made fun of and bullied me. I struggled a lot to look in the mirror and think the person looking back at me might be beautiful. Everyone always told me I had a beautiful smile. But I just couldn’t see what people saw in me. And when I lost all my hair nine years ago, I struggled again. I had a hard time confronting the emotions that came with that loss, and thinking that grieving the loss of my hair might make me self-centered or something like that. I rolled with the punches. I told people about alopecia. I feigned feeling confident. Fake it ’til you make it, right?

So how do you go about changing the not enough into a great big ENOUGH? Start changing the mental dialogue. It takes practice, and sometimes I fall into the same pattern of telling myself I’m not enough.

When I look in the mirror now, I try to think about how easy it is not to have to deal with hair. I can go bald, and I don’t use that much shampoo. When I run, I think about how strong my body is getting. I think that speed doesn’t matter as long as I’m continuing to run the race. When I write, I can acknowledge my talent. I had to stop thinking about what other people might be thinking of me, and start thinking about what I should and could tell myself.

SMART ENOUGH. PRETTY ENOUGH. FAST ENOUGH.

TALENTED ENOUGH.

Still not really skinny enough, but hey I’m working on it.

GOOD ENOUGH

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I’m Back

I am trying to start writing again. I wrote for about fifteen minutes earlier today, in between work and child care–really more like teenage care now. Like most people from the United States, we are still stuck at home. I’m hoping the masks requirements start reducing COVID-19. Until then, the kids and I will be at home doing remote learning while I try to work, and Rob tries to work too. And I try to write again. Because I have been missing my writing–time to pick up the ink and quill.

We have had a wonderful time all together mostly. Nothing like spending time with your family 24/7 to show you how much you need them. We are exploring our new home of Charlotte, North Carolina, and we are really liking what we are seeing. There are several great day trips from Charlotte, and I am starting to explore them with the kids. We also were able to get away for a few days to Todd, North Carolina, just north of Boone to a wonderful place called Camp Big Fun.

This past week it has been hot! We’ve had heat indices up to 105 or so. I decided to take the kids to Hooker Falls. It’s in the Dupont State Forest, about two hours away from our house and close to Asheville. What an incredibly beautiful place! The water was freezing cold, but oh so refreshing!

Son Number 1 at Hooker Falls

I have also spent hour upon hour of playing Animal Crossing New Horizons. This may seem like a colossal waste of time, which might be better spent writing, but actually I have been playing with some family members and we usually talk while playing. It’s been fun to catch up with them and live on an imaginary island where you can make millions of bells by selling turnips. Also, my little character pretty much looks amazing in any clothes, including bear costumes and princess costumes so that’s a plus!

The title of this post while seemingly simple was inspired by Poltergeist, which Son Number 2 and I watched together. Did you know Poltergeist is rated PG? This movie scared the bejeezus out of me as a kid, but as an adult not so much. Still such an amazing movie.

I’m hoping to start posting a few times a week again. Not all of my post will be about writing. I will probably write about whatever I’m thinking about that day, or whatever issue I wish to further explore. I hope to delve into some short fiction again too, and I want to further explore this story idea I’ve been mulling over. I may post bits and pieces of it here too.

So what have you been doing with your free time–if you have any–since COVID-19?

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Introspection

I haven’t been writing at all. Truth is, my life is good and work is good and all things seem to be falling in place…except the writing. I always have this guilty feeling about not putting words on paper. I start to write a story, then I give up.

I have a teenage son, and it drives me nuts when he gives up or is not motivated. But, yet, here I am. Failing to write for the umpteenth time in my life. Living the life of the tortured aspiring writer. Can I call myself a writer if I’m not writing?

It’s Christmas time, and we have done everything Christmasy. We have made gingerbread cookies (today), seen Santa, wrapped presents, bought presents, gone to Christmas parties. We’ve given to others (money-wise, present-wise, service-wise, and through my job). Life is good.

Why is it when life is good the words are hard to flow? Today, I felt a little limerence or nostalgia for the past. I went into the garage, and I opened up a cabinet looking for the cookie tins. I thought I’d look in the boxes of my writing, letters from people-from-the-past, all the things from college. But then I thought, when I do that it usually makes me sad. Or maybe sad is not the right word, wistful, maybe? Who knows what word I’m looking for.

I’m a keeper of things, much to my mom and my husband’s chagrin. I have my journals from childhood. They read like this: It’s Wednesday. I played with Meredith. Tonight for dinner we are having grilled chicken, mashed potatoes, and green beans. Oh, and they are all addressed to Jon, because I named my journal after NKOTB Jon. To be 12 again.

Then my high school journals are all about my first boyfriend J and my second boyfriend, also a J. And how I don’t know what to do. And how I’m failing geometry, but too afraid to tell my parents. And about feeling lonely despite being surrounded by people. The life of a teenager.

And in college, there’s this sense of not knowing what to do next. Of being swept up by the moment, and so idealistic, and thinking I can do anything, but HOW? And again, the obsession with a boy, P. I stopped journaling after I met Hubby. Put down the pen and paper and delved into my life. I stopped writing in full for awhile, until my 30s, after kids were born, and I had a mini-breakdown, and things started to get to normal again. Then I realized writing is an outlet. Writing is a source of release of all the stresses, all the anxiety, all the sadness, all the happiness, and all the success rolled from one day into the other and out the ink of the pen (or the keys of the keyboard, as it were).

I look back on my journals and think about how young and naive I was. I think about all the time I wasted being obsessed over people who were no longer interested in me. Such wasted moments when I could have been living in the moment. And why? Who knows. I look at my past, and I know I felt a deep sense to belong. A lot of my life I felt out of place, not in sync with the people around me. Wanting too little or wanting too much. Being in the wrong political group. Being too loud. Or being too silent. Feeling like people around me didn’t have the same big questions I had about life, philosophy, religion. And I know everyone feels this way sometimes. I know as human beings we have this deep need to feel a part of a group, and to be part of something bigger, and I know that’s okay. And finally, at this stage of my life, I’m starting to feel comfortable with me again. Comfortable in my own skin.

And thanks to some friends in a baby group I’ve been part of for 15 years, maybe I now feel like it’s time to start journaling again. Sometimes seeking the deeper inner parts of yourself can be refreshing and not debilitating.

It’s time to pick up the pen again.

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Dog Parks, Writing, and Kavanaugh

I met a dog named Dog today. I took Son Number Two to the dog park. Dog was a sweet old dog. His owner said she’d gotten to the age where she just names her dogs “Dog” and her cats “Cat.” I liked it. It reminded me of Because of Winn Dixie for some reason.

Son Number Two always gets hurt when we go to Shakespeare. Shakespeare is a park that has a Fine Arts Museum and the Alabama Shakespeare Festival, a outdoor amphitheater, a dog park, and lots of green space.

But for Son Number Two the following things have happened at Shakespeare:

  • Fell and broke his wrist
  • Fell and his head hit a hard stone, causing a small bullet-sized wound on his head. The wound went all the way to his skull
  • And today–got bitten by a dog at the dog park. I didn’t lose my shit. My dog, Jazz, has nipped a kid before. She can be a bad dog. This dog had just bit another kid though, and then went after Son Number Two. And he did the grab and started to try to shake. I don’t know what set him off. Son Number Two and I were on the way out of the park.

He is okay. He is currently at movies with his dad and brother. They’re seeing something I don’t want to see so I’m having alone time.

My writing is non-existent. My sister wants me to write about my alopecia for The Moth. I also need to be writing and submitting, but I’ve been so busy. Plus, I have thank you letters for work to write, and PTA minutes to write. So much to do.

I wanted to comment on the Kavanaugh proceedings when they were going on, but didn’t have the heart to, especially with the way things went. I am worried for women. I am worried for America. I am watching The Handmaid’s Tale and it suddenly doesn’t seem out of the realm of possibilities that women’s rights could be erased. I believe women when they say they’ve been assaulted. False accusations are rare. But in the U.S. we still have this blame the victim mentality. And then Kavanaugh played the victim. I don’t want to get political, BUT I don’t think respecting women and listening to them is a political issues. I think we need to learn how to teach our young boys to be gentlemen and that sexual assault is bad. We need to change the narrative.

Signing out–hope to write more. I plan on posting some stories soon, you know, once I start writing them again.

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I Held Your Heart Once

Here’s a short story (748 words) I wrote for Chuck Wendig’s weekly Flash Fiction Challenge. Let me know what you think about it in the comments below:

I Held Your Heart Once

“I told you this was a bad idea!” he shouted.

Yeah, as if the entire idea had been mine. We sat in the house on the gray floor, my fingers almost completely numb. I wanted to shove a knife under his ribs. I plastered a faux smile on my face.

“You start the fire then.”

“Fine,” he said, grabbing the stick and the stone from me.

I studied El’s face as the light in the windows began to recede and the bitter wind howled. His cheeks were gaunt. When we’d left they’d been full of meat. Now, we both looked like shadow people; skinnier than we ever should have been. The lines of dirt on his cheekbones would have made him look like a football player if he were bigger. But now they accentuated the emaciated look of his face.

I tried to blow the blue out of my fingers.

El shouted at the stick as if it had ears.

I went to the door.

“What the fuck are you going to do, Mare?”

“Going somewhere else. I mean we’ll freeze to death in here.”

“It’s safe and it’s warm.”

“It’s not warm.”

“It’s warmer than out there.”

I looked out the window. The ferocious snow fell barricading us into this desolate place. We were stuck, and it was my bad idea that had brought us up here. I thought there’d be food, maybe canned goods. But when we opened the door a vacuous wasteland of dust greeted us. The back window had a crack letting in a constant stream of cold air and snow. No wood, except for wet, snow-bound logs sitting on the crumbling front porch. I could feel El’s hostility aimed at me like an arrow.

“I mean who the fuck goes up the mountain. We should have been going down.”

My heart felt like a worn stone in my chest. I stood by the door, not opening it, with my back to him. He struck the rock against the stick. Heat remained aloof. There was friction in the air but not enough to start a fire.

“My hands are numb,” I said. I turned toward him.

He put the rock and stick down and looked at me. I could see his old face hidden in his new one. The old face I’d fallen in love with. His eyes which had looked cold softened and his face crinkled into a smile. His smile warmed me up, and I felt the once familiar spark. The one that had been missing for awhile now, the one that reminded me that I’d held his heart once.

“Come here.”

I stood still.

He stood up and walked toward me, measured steps through the dust of the room. He pulled my shirt off before I could say no. His hands on my breast warmed me up. Body heat, the natural generator. He took off his shirt and grabbed my hands. He warmed them with his, rubbing them together like the stick and the stone. He placed my hands on his chest.

He slid down my pants then pulled down his. I shivered, and he wrapped his arms around me. We were like two unlit pieces of coal trying to catch an elusive spark. I felt him enter me and shivered again. We had not made love in ages.

“I don’t have a condom.”

“It’s okay.” It wasn’t.

Our bodies moved together filling the cabin with warmth. I imagined soft lights. I imagined a rope bed with a soft mattress, blankets covering us. I imagined the smell of chicken cooking in the oven. I imagined our children.

When I blinked, I felt his hip bone against my inner thigh. I’d never felt his hip bone before. The barrenness of the cabin stole my fantasy. He moaned and I squeezed my arms around him trying to find the heat in what should have been passion. I didn’t want the fantasy of what we once had to end. But he pushed hard, climaxed, and rolled off of me. The frigid air pierced my sweat-smothered skin. El sat with his back to me and took up the stone and stick again.

I had been wrong to come here. He’d held my heart once but it has since shattered like an icicle.

A sudden spark rose from the stick. El lit the wood then turned to look at me with fire in his eyes.

The smoke was blue and grey and smelled like a promise.

Snow Mountain

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Rejection

 

I received my rejection from the Master’s Review yesterday. SIGH. 

Curses, rejected again!

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Here it is in all its glory:

Dear Lauren, 

Thank you for sending us “I Held Your Heart Once” for consideration in our Flash Fiction Contest. We really enjoyed reading your writing, and are flattered you chose to submit to us. This is one of our most popular contests, and we thank you for your patience while we read through all of the submissions. 

I am sorry to say that your submission was not selected for publication. It is clear that you are a very talented writer, and your piece stood out from the pack. Unfortunately, we had to decline some excellent stories, but we are grateful for the chance to read such high quality work. 

We wish you the best of luck with your writing and look forward to bringing you more wonderful stories. Part of our aim is to support great work from new writers and we consider every story we read an effort toward that goal. We couldn’t do this without you. We hope to read more of your fiction in the future. 

Thank you again, 
The Masters Review Team


In case you’re interested in reading my rejected piece, I’ve republished to this blog: https://laurengreenewrites.com/2018/09/06/i-held-your-heart-once/

What a nice rejection. I mean, honestly. I’m a very talented writer. I know this. I just can’t seem to get actually published. The thing about writing is that there’s constant rejection. A rejection letter can send you for a loop. I knew that story was good. It just wasn’t what the Master’s Review was looking for. That’s their loss.

So how do you deal with the rejection of not getting published? Maybe you take a drink. Or go for a run. Then you start writing again. Or you send out that piece that maybe didn’t work for the Master’s Review to someone else and wait for the next rejection letter to roll in…or if you’re really lucky, an acceptance.

I like to think about how J.K. Rowling was rejected a billion times before she became a published writer. I also like to think about how much I enjoy writing and sharing it with others. And about how sometimes my writing is just for me. That I need to write to be fulfilled, and if I’m never officially published then I’m never officially published.

Roll with it, baby.

Follow Lauren Greene:

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