Tag Archives: Writing

The Alice Effect ~ Excerpts

….She popped the safety lid off and placed two pills in her hand. She tossed them in her mouth, swallowed a drink of water and shook two more out of the bottle. There was no hesitation this time; she took these with another drink and followed with two more pills. She continued this until she was sick and her legs felt weak. Then she stood and glared at the woman in the mirror. That bitch always argued with her. Well, not anymore. There would be no more arguments. There was a distant knocking and Ally watched as the woman in the mirror turned towards the bathroom door, and back to her. There was a pleading look in her eyes. As if the woman was asking Ally to save her. Suddenly, the woman in the mirror collapsed.

 

Ally stood and watched as a dark haired woman crumpled to the ground in front of her. With her mind inexplicably clear, she recognized the body as her own. Tom rushed in from the mirror’s right. She watched as he looked at the bottle on the counter and then at the form of his unconscious wife. She didn’t move or call out as the scene played out before her. It was like watching the climax of a movie. Only in this theater she was the star. She watched as Tom knelt down beside the Other…

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… She had taken sleeping pills; she knew that, but how many? Enough, she thought. She should have died. Now, it looked as if she had simply falling asleep and this was only a dream. She opened kitchen cabinets and closet doors; looking for any proof this house wasn’t hers. Nothing had changed but still, something wasn’t right. Suddenly, she was pushed forward again and she was falling. Her eyes opened to florescent lights speeding by. A voice to her right shouted, “I’ve got something!” followed by, “No wait, I’m losing her….”and the world faded again…

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… she ran to the door and threw it open. Instead of the front porch, there was an endless black ocean as far as she could see. The neighbor’s house sat in the distance, a hazy outline in a fog. She looked out over the water and realized this sea was dead. There were no waves, no life, not even the rank smell of algae and fungi that typically grow on a stagnant pool. And this dead sea kept her isolated from the rest of the world. For the first time since coming through the mirror, loneliness wiped the fear away. For the first time since watching her body collapse, she realized she had just condemned herself to a Hell more terrifying than the brimstone and fire she had been raised on. There was silence in the air. “Not even the breath of God can reach me here.”

Oh, don’t be so dramatic.” Surprised  she looked to her right and saw the woman standing in the kitchen, wiping down her counters… “Well, are you going to stand there all day? Come, sit.”

Ally found herself sitting across the table from this strange woman of about 30. The woman stared back at her. “You don’t know who I am, do you?” The woman asked. “Well, I’m not surprised. You weren’t even a spark in your Daddy’s eye when I passed. But, don’t think that means I haven’t been around. Couldn’t miss the birth of my oldest’s first child, could I?”

Ally stared as this story sank in. Could this woman be her Grandmother?

“Well, of course I am!” It was as if she had read Ally’s mind. “You know, I was expecting to see you on this side at a young age, but not this young, and certainly not here. I saw you, you know. Don’t think I don’t recognize what you were doing.”

“I was killing myself.” It was the first time she had spoken the words aloud.

“No, not that,” Grandmother waved a dismissive hand. “I meant with the wine.”

“Oh.” Was all Ally could manage.

“And the tequila, and the vodka you would add to your juice when you thought he wasn’t looking.”

“Oh,” she said again, quieter. She was suddenly ashamed. She had just learned that every shot she had stolen in secret had been see by someone. Her Grandmother continued.

“Do you remember any of those stories you heard? The ones your Daddy told you about growing up?”

Composing herself, Ally answered,”a little. I know…” she stopped short.

“You know I wasn’t always the model woman?” there was a smile on the woman’s lips. “No, that’s true. Why do you think I recognized it in you?”

Ouch, that stung. “Is that why you’re here? In this, what is this, Hell?”

Her Grandmother patted Ally’s hand. “No, I was never here. I did spend some time in the Shadowlands. But, just like on Earth, family came. They found me and they lifted me up out of the shadows. Hell isn’t what you think it is, you know. Think of it this way,there are many levels. At the highest level, there is God. God shines like a sun, warming you and bathing your level in light. The father away you are from that light, the darker and colder it is.”

Ally took this in. It wasn’t like any of the stories she had heard in church. That’s when it struck her, “it’s twilight here. Like just after sunset.”

Sadness was all she saw when she looked into her Grandmother’s eyes… Her eyes, if she were honest with herself. “Sweetheart, you are about as far away from God as you can get. I am not here because I have to  be. I am here because I want to be. I am here to help you.”…

 **This story has been started and deleted many times. Something had been missing. I found that something very recently, thanks to Dr. Stafford Betty. He introduced me, and many others, to the abundant evidence available on the afterlife. While I take some literary license, I do try to take what I’ve learned from him, and what I am still learning from my own research, and include it in this work. It is a slow process and I am certain there will be many changes. Particularly, as I proofread. This is just a taste of where I see the manuscript headed.** 

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Driving While Under the Influence of Memory

I spent the day in the mountains east of town. The fresh air was crisp in the Autumn sun. It moved through the treetops and scattered leaves like confetti. Under my feet, the ground crunched and sighed as I walked through the limited undergrowth. Many would call this area “High Desert” not mountains but I don’t care. The trees are tall, the air is clean, and the world is quiet. I am at home in these hills. There are paths winding through the area and a few camps are set up – people willing to brave the cold evening winds. I move through silently, not wanting to disturb them. In a few months, if we are lucky, these hills will be covered in snow. And this summer, covered with friends and families looking to “get away from it all”.  But for now, it is quiet.

I have fond memories of this area, the hills and surrounding community. When I was a child, my family would come here to camp. My father liked that it was away from town and you could see the stars; my mother liked that there were bathroom facilities and we were only 20 minutes from Tehachapi. She wasn’t much for the outdoors. I remember one trip we we decided to camp at the last minute. We had the necessities: tent, sleeping bags, and few things to build a fire… We had brought some food, but not enough. My brother and I went into town with our mother. We pulled into the grocery store, bought hot dogs and buns, soda and beer, and a few other supplies. That night I watched as my father BBQ’d using his pocket knife – all we had were plastic utensils. We ate beans from the can and had one of the most memorable trips ever. Many of my happiest moments were here. No wonder I love this area.

I’ve spent the day remembering, reading, and just enjoying the surroundings. But the sun has gone down. The ranger is making the rounds and collecting fees from the over-nighters. It’s time for me to head home. I take the narrow roads out of the campgrounds and keep the car in second as I coast down the mountain. I turn left onto Highline Road and another memory surfaces. My brother and I are telling Daddy, “faster! faster!” as he heads over the little bumps in the road – what my mother has called “whoopty-doos”. Then we put our hands in the air, pretend we were on a roller coaster and laugh as the butterflies tickle our tummies. I laugh out loud at this memory. Things were so much simpler then.

The sun has set but the moon is still missing. In the darkness, I drive a little slower so I don’t miss my turn onto Tucker. The town has grown and it is much brighter than it used to be in the area, but better to be safe than lost. I take the road all the way through town, still a small mountain community despite it’s growth,  and turn onto the freeway. The stars are clear and abundant above, and the scatter of houses on the shadowed hills are stars on earth. I keep my window open so I can smell the cool night air but that doesn’t last long. On this road there are too many trucks and, soon, the smell of diesel and hot brakes becomes too much. I close my window and drive in silence, pulling away from the heavier traffic. Soon, I come round a bend and the valley floor opens below me. I trade millions of silver stars for millions of city lights. I’m not even home and I’m already wishing I was driving the other direction. It isn’t that I don’t like living in the city. I JUST don’t know when, or if, I will ever make it up this way again. The life I have chosen will keep me far too busy to allow me to come up here. I think, sadly, I didn’t get to say goodbye. Silly, because it’s just a mountain; just a town like any other… but still…

If I never do make it back this way, at least I have my memories. We can never go backward, only forward. But our past gives us something to hold on to. It is a precious gift to hold in our heart when we need a light to brighten our life. I will hold the memories of this mountain close and bring them out when I need a smile.


Lost Inspiration

I’ve learned over the years that inspiration is not a force to be commanded. It is a whispering sigh from The Universe when it feels the need to create. I have been waiting almost a year for inspiration… Well, maybe not that long. Certainly, I have not heard it’s call since starting the antidepressants. Which begs the question, does alcohol and Depression feed The Muse? Look at the great writers: Hemingway, Fitzgerald, Poe.. Even the “King” of horror has had his battles with drugs and alcohol. And there are so many others who’s names escape me. All of them suffered with one vice or another. I suppose, it is better to not suffer and let The Muse be silent…

     …It is strange, though. I never considered myself depressed. I was unhappy, of course. And that unhappiness fed the darkness where my writing occured. But Depression? No, not me… never… Just goes to show self diagnoses it not the way to go… Neither is self medication but why take all the fun out of life. Now.. what was I saying…..

      Oh, yes! Inspiration. It’s true, my Muse is quiet these days. The worlds I created in my imagination seem no more or less exciting than the one I live in. The one we call “Reality”. Sigh, I hate that word sometimes. It holds far too many “impossibles” in it. It’s odd to feel the void left by my departed Muse. She has been with me so long, watching in good times, helping me to escape in bad times. But She is gone now. I half hope She is going to return on the storm clouds I see gathering outside… but they feel as empty as the imaginary rooms in which She once thrived. No, I fear She is gone forever and I am now lost to reality…. that hated word.

      I am not entirely alone, though. I have my daughter, my husband, my friends, my meds and red wine. But none of them, no matter how precious, can fill the void I sense inside, the one left by my Muse. And, it is times like these I feel it most. Days when the clouds gather, darkening the sky. Days when the silence inside is so loud I can’t ignore it. Days when I want to write and have nothing to say.

     So, here I sit. Waiting for posters to print and calculations to finish. And I write a sentence here or there. Rambling about nothing. Perhaps, if I truly wish to write, I should consider writing Non-Fiction? I could write about….. what? My life – my “reality” – doesn’t hold much in it worth writing about. I suppose I could share my struggle with Depression. I do feel that familiar feeling returning…. The feeling I am a ghost within the lives of those I have known, and those I still speak to. But it is faint, somehow. Fighting to surface like mist searching for a keyhole. A small crack in which to slip through. I suppose the meds have filled all the holes in my armor. Kind of like that foamy stuff you spray and watch expand. I tell myself it is a good thing I have that barrier of protection. It’s good I am safe from the darkness where unimaginable thoughts can circle like vultures. But I’m afraid I have locked my Muse out in that darkness by mistake. and without the full force of the Depression weighting on me it becomes  hard to write about.

      You see, for me Depression was never about sadness. It was about numbness. So, to talk about how I felt before the medications is impossible. I felt nothing…. there were one or two that touched my heart, but mostly I was numb. And my Muse fed on that emptiness as she whispered to the pen in my hand, or keyboard under my fingers. And now, She is gone. I must give up writing or find a new Muse. I don’t have the energy for such a search; not right now, anyway. I have too much to do. Work, school, websites, and rescues… I have a very full life. And if I continue to fill it with these things, I may forget to miss my Muse. But for now – meds or no meds – I am saddened by the loss…. And I will continue to hope for Her return….


Silence

I’m having trouble sleeping tonight. It happens on occasion. While I sat sipping my tea, a single line came into my head. From it, I built the following. Perhaps, it is meant to be a poem. I believe I am too tired to tell. I may refine it in the future, when I’ve had more sleep…..

Between life and death, there is silence. You’ll hear it in the middle of night. While all around sleeps quiet, the spirit emits its soft sound. You won’t hear it by daylight, as you rush about in your day. You won’t hear it by moonlight, as sleep carries you away. It is not a product of deafness, nor an unwillingness to hear. It is the silence within us, music for only our ears. It is times like these you will hear it. Only now does the song of the spirit ring. Between life and death there is silence. The sweet, simple music of being…


My Daughter

I sit by the window and watch her. Her arms spread wide to the sun. Its rays shine on her golden brown hair in a halo of light. I see her mouth moving and, though I can’t hear her I know she is singing. Maybe the song is one she has heard on the radio or one she has written herself. She dances and sways and our pup runs around her, nipping at her heels and jumping up and down. Not long ago, I realized how quickly she is growing. Our children are ours for only a little while. Then, we must release them into the wide world, where they learn lessons we could never teach them fully. Someone once said the two best things we can give our children are roots and wings. Looking at her now, I can see her wings spreading to fly… And she is only seven.

Almost seven, I should say. Her birthday is a month away. We’ve been arguing over what to do for it. I suggested the zoo and she suggested Disneyland; I suggested the park and she suggested our backyard. I don’t think we will come to a consensus. I turn back to watch her again. Now, she has climbed to the top of her jungle gym dome. She sits with her feet dangling between the rungs. Nina, our dog, is lying underneath, as if to catch my daughter if she falls. I believe she would try. They are inseparable when outside, a girl and her dog. They are relatively the same age. Nina, in dog years, is seven. She follows my daughter all over the backyard as Hobbit picks flowers, digs for worms, and catches “rolly pollies” (pill bugs).

Hobbit – A nick-name that never fails to get a laugh out of strangers. I tried reading The Hobbit to her when she was younger. When she asked what a Hobbit was, I told her “Well, Hobbits are little people, like you. You are my little Hobbit.” From then on, she was my Hobbit. My Hobbit and My Mini-Me. The latter name was given to her by others. From her morning scowl to her overflowing bookshelves; she is a smaller version of me. As I write this, I am reminded of a time she wanted to write, as well. When she was four, she sat with me while I worked on a research paper for school, “Theodore Seuss Geisel and his place in Today’s Literary Canon”. As I read every Dr. Seuss book I could find, she sat next to me, listening and looking at the pictures. As I wrote how Geisel replacing Dick and Jane with a six-foot tall cat, she traced words and pictures out of The Lorax. I’ll never forget that day. She told me when she grew up she was going to be an author and her name was going to be Dr. Morgan. I still have the “book” she made. I was so proud of her and encouraged her decision, hoping it would continue as she grew. She has changed her mind since then. Now she wants to be a veterinarian and an artist. She can be anything she wants. My only desire is her happiness.

I look up from my laptop again. She has come down from her perch and is standing on the patio, staring out across the yard. Nina is lying at her feet, sniffing the ground. I recognize the look on her face. She has wondered off into her own world. A fantasy world, in which I ride a unicorn and her father rides “a lame horse”. I know this because she has told me about her world. Although, I have always encouraged imagination, I am still surprised by the detail in which she describes hers. She is a source of constant amazement. There is nothing I wouldn’t do for her. And now, I sit and watch my baby, who has become a little girl, who will one day become a woman. I sit and watch and hope I am doing what I should. I hope I am strengthening her roots. I hope I am building her wings. Most importantly, I hope I am giving her the courage to fly…


Awaiting Inspiration

Stopping by woods on a snowy evening; whose woods these are I think I know… Oh, who am I kidding… It’s mid-day in Southern California, not a flake in sight, unless you count the white caps of the Sierras thirty miles away. And, certainly I am no Robert Frost. There is no wood, either. But there are trees. I am cutting across the dorms on the Cal State campus. There are concrete paths lined with trees, though not very thick. With names like “Rivendell” and “Entwood” something more like a dark forest with a sun-blocking canopy would be expected… but I digress.

I park in the residence parking lot so that I can take this walk every Tuesday. The walk to the classroom building is a bit longer this way, but parking closer would mean fighting for a space. Besides, I would miss the song of the birds. I take this walk to gain inspiration from the trees, who have always been a faithful muse. But they are not telling me stories today. Early March means that many are still groggy from their winter slumber. It may be better to wait until late spring, when they are fully awake. For now, I walk slowly to class. I feel the cool breeze brush against my face; I hear the birds chirping in the pines; I listen to the water as it rains down from the fountain. I walk and I think of nothing at all. No story will come to me today but I will listen, anyway. Perhaps the trees will have something else to say…


I Am

Reading Sexton’s Transformations has inspired me to try my hand at poetry. Here is my first attempt.

I am a window.
Shutters forced open.
My soul standing naked.
My heart bleeding in my open hands.
My thoughts projected like the news on TV.

I am a beast.
Shoved in a cage.
Pacing before you.
Forced to perform as you wish.
Are you pleased with your pet?

I am a mirror.
Reflecting reality altered,
You see me smile,
You see me laugh,
You forget how the mirror works.

I am a goddess.
Fallen from grace,
Stripped of divinity,
But I have not forgotten who I am,
And I grow stronger everyday…