I’m more than a little neurotic at times; ask anyone who knows me in the really-real world and they’ll attest to that without a moments hesitation. I already mentioned that I’ve officially started my spring cleaning for the year, but what you likely do not know is just how nuts I am about such things.
You see, I was born into a long line of packrats. I come from a clan where a good 80% of the women would have (should have) been on those hording shows long before those hording shows existed. When my maternal grandmother passed away (and we went to clean out her house) there were thirty some quilts tucked away in various closets – all still in their original packaging. There were clothes (of various sizes; most not Grandma’s) in all of the closets with price tags still on them. Amongst other things, there were hundreds of cassette tapes, still in their plastic wrap (my grandmother didn’t even own a cassette player), insane amounts of unopened makeup, shoes, medications, dishes, towels, soap, gift baskets (still in their cellophane wrap) shampoos, perfumes, something like fifty tubes of toothpaste, over a hundred boxes of cereal, tool kits, and – though granny never sewed – boxes of clothing patterns and rolls of fabric. This sort of thing was (is) pretty common amongst the women in my family, and serves as yet more proof (to me) that the line of mental illness in our genes did not start with my generation, even if we were the first to accept it and do something about it.
Once upon a not that long ago, I was no better than the rest of them; I used to have one hell of a hard time throwing anything away, and so when something outlived it’s purpose, I just tucked it up on some shelf or in a box somewhere. It was comfort sort of thing that stemmed – I believe – from my constant need to feel like I had a place, a home, a point in life, but it used to make moving hell.
After I started putting my life back together (following my downwards spiral) one of the first major changes I made had to do with a de-cluttering of my private universe. Before I was strong enough to move on to the people that were toxic to my wellbeing, I started with my possessions. Over a week and a half (or so) I went through every single thing I owned and parted with more than 3/4 of it. The only ‘useless’ items I kept were those that I found too sentimental to part with; like my old records and whatnot, Benny the monkey, and my writing. I donated three pickup trucks worth of clothing and things to the Salvation Army, and created another four truckloads full of landfill fodder.
This unloading felt so amazing that I have gone on a major purging once a year ever since.
Each spring when the purging bug bites me in the ass, the true strength of my OCD-like tendencies surface and I start sorting, organizing, tossing, cleaning, labelling, recycling, and fixing like a madwoman. Seriously, it took me five hours just to clean out my desk this weekend. I literally went through every pen and scrap of paper, every paperclip and thumbtack, and tossed away anything that I didn’t need, didn’t want or that didn’t work.
This is just how I roll. Everything that I deem too important to throw out or give away – but not necessary to keep at an arm’s reach – gets neatly stored in plastic crates (how fortunate that Canadian Tire just put them on sale!) and a generalized list of contents gets taped securely to the side before it goes into storage.
This is a three-story, four-bedroom, two-storage room, multiple-storage closet house with an unattached garage. There are four permanent residents (not including the cat and dog) and an endless stream of visitors; my sister and her family are always leaving things behind either because they don’t have room for it their fifth wheel (their house is in B.C. and they live in a house-on-wheels while in this province) or because it’s handier to leave things here since they spend so much damn time at my house. This drives me a little nutty, but whatcha gonna do? My point is that the spring purge around here is not a simple task that can be accomplished over a couple of days. I put in about five hours on Saturday and another fourteen yesterday, and so far all I’ve managed to get through is my desk (looks fantastic for the record), my bedroom (everything but Zed’s closet) and the cupboards in my kitchen and pantry. Since I was also working on the set up of my new computer and babysitting my sisters three kids most of yesterday, I think I made pretty good time, but I’m still a hell of a long way from finished.
Zed has known me as both a packrat and as a minimalist, and while he admits to preferring the latter (by far), he always looks just a little uncomfortable while I’m in purge mode. He does his best to make himself as small as he can (which is no easy feat for a guy that’s 6’2, 220 pounds) and stay out my way. I’m not sure what makes him more nervous; that I might throw away something he’ll later need, that I mumble to myself so frequently while in purge mode, or that he and/or the kids/dog/cat might accidentally end up out on the curb with the recycling. Or maybe he’s just nervous about what jobs I might stick on him, “Hunny, could you just…” He’s already put together two new bookshelves for me, taken a trip to the transition house up the way, fixed the hinges on my wardrobe and – oh so kindly – done a handful of other little chores for me, even though Sunday was his only day of rest♥. Regardless, he’ll be happy as a pig in shite when I’m done and; ever the predictable little bunny that he is; he’ll reward my hard work with a new houseplant (that I’ll probably accidentally kill sometime between this and next spring) and a night out. That’s just how he roles.
Because I have such a big job still ahead of me – and knowing that I won’t be able to rest properly until it’s finished – my time allowance for other obsessions is going to be limited for awhile. Later this afternoon I’ll sit down and break up that big piece I recently promised/threatened, and I’ll start posting two or three parts of that a day as well as (likely) some older poetry pieces; even though I don’t really like posting old stuff. I’ll share with you what I write (if/when I actually find time to write) and I’ll do my very best to keep up with your blogs whenever I find myself with a few minutes to spare.
If you should find yourself in need of my attentions (for whatever reason) just shoot me off an email and I’ll get back to you ASAP. In the meantime, remember that I love you all and have a GREAT day!
“If every dream I ever dreamt was tattooed on my skin,
And every time you looked my way, you could see the colour of my sin…
Would you still call me beautiful?”
“A splash of colour in borders of black would do nothing to change your heart;
The things that make you – you inside, are what set you far apart…
You will always be beautiful to me.”
“But if every lie I ever told, was etched for all to read,
And just by looking at my casing you could see the true depth of my need…
Would you still crave my touch?”
“We all tell lies to make it though – they help us hide away our fear,
And need is such a soulful thing, it would only make me hold you nearer…
I will always crave your touch.”
“What if all the hurt that I have buried was painted in brisk hues,
And just by lying next to me you’d be infected by my blues…
Would you still share my bed?”
“To see your hurt would shatter me, but then I’d know what I must do;
And I would gladly take it all on me, it if could mean less pain for you…
I will always share you bed.”
“But what if every one of my mistakes was turned to murals on my flesh,
And you could tell – by looking closely – that some of that ink was fresh…
Would you still give your love?”
“I would want you more for your mistakes, because they’ve made you quite divine,
And how could I judge you for your errors, when you do not judge me for mine?
You will always have my love.”
With every step they took, Chelsea fell for Tyler a little more. He was so sweet – so charming – that she didn’t understand how she’d gone so long without really knowing him before. Every fifty yards or so he’d pause to twirl her before gently pressing his lips to hers. Each time her heart would swell a little more and her breath would catch in her throat. Each time she felt just a little more connected to him, and a little further from the cowardly girl she’d been just hours before.
He led her to a grove of trees just beyond the moon’s reach. He took off his jacket and – favouring her with the sweetest smile – spread it out on the grass so that she could sit.
They talked for awhile about their plans for the fall, about the dance and their friends, and soon enough Tyler was nuzzling his face in her neck. “I’ve never felt like this about a girl before,” he murmured as he planted a soft trail of kisses along her jaw and throat. “You’re so amazing.”
A soft groan was her only response, as his kisses left her feeling slightly intoxicated. She was falling deeper and deeper with every word he spoke, every embrace, and every tender caress. She felt her own passion mounting as his tongue found hers, and could hear the ragged quality of her own breath as it gasped from her chest.
He fumbled with the zipper at the back of her dress and – for just a moment – she sobered enough to hesitate. She pulled back – if only slightly – and looked timidly away.
“It’s okay,” he told her, his fingers slipping away from the zipper and coming to rest instead on her shoulders. “I’m sorry… it’s okay if you’re not ready. I think I’m falling for you Chelsea… I’m in no rush. We can wait.”
She threw herself at him then – desperately eager to consummate the bond she felt growing between them. Deftly, his hands worked to free her from the turquoise silk as she fumbled clumsily with the buttons of his shirt. He unhooked her lace bra and as it fell away, she felt the blush return and her boldness rush out of her. She cast her eyes down as her cheeks began to burn, and instinctively crossed her arms to shield her breasts.
He hooked her chin with his fingers and lifted her face until there was no where else for her to look but into his eyes. “I love you,” he assured her, and those three little words sluiced away her modesty. Her arms went up to wrap around his neck, the bareness of their chests pressing together.
They kissed and caressed – each exploring the other’s body hungrily – as their passion built, and just when she couldn’t handle the anticipation a second longer, he slipped inside her. He moved slowly at first – so gentle and considerate – but encouraged by her sighs and cries of ecstasy, his rhythm built until they were both crying out in union; the tempo of their adjoined climax swelling in the night and making the world shudder and spasm around them.
The night seemed to flash as though lightening had cracked across the flawless sky above, and then Tyler collapsed on top of her; his moans dying away as he started to chuckle.
She didn’t understand the sudden humour, but at first she tried to smile in response. She held that tentative expression until she realized his wasn’t the only laughter filling her ears. As the final waves of pleasure were still washing over her, and the flashing went on, she found her bliss giving way to alarm.
Flash… flash… flash…
Alarm gave way to true panic and she shoved at Tyler as hard as she could. He rolled away to one side, his laughter coming hard enough now that he was gasping for air.
Chelsea sat up – her arms crossing in front of her again as her modesty returned – and saw them.
They stood just barely hidden amongst the trees less then fifty yards away; four of the most popular guys in school – Tyler’s friends – all chortling wildly as they watched on. Matt Lawson stood with a camera held out before his face, clicking off shot after shot…
Flash… flash… flash…
… and Mark McCall – who’d asked Anna to the prom the same day that Tyler had asked her – stood grinning; though clearly not quite as amused as his cohorts; just off to one side.
Chelsea scrambled for her dress, kneeing Tyler in the ribs in her panic. He grunted, but his laughter went on, growing louder by the instant. Just as her fingers closed around the silk, he recovered enough from his fit to reach out and yank it away. He flung the garment towards the trees and laughed all the harder as she scrambled after it – naked – on hands and knees.
From behind her, she heard him shout out, “Aww… c’mon! Don’t you wanna spoon? What am I here… just a piece of meat?” This was enough to get all the boys howling, and Chelsea had to fight off a wave of nausea as she scampered around in the dark trying to locate her dress.
She found it snagged in a bit of rough brush and pulled it free. She staggered to her feet and kept moving deeper into the tree line, not bothering to look back until she could no longer hear the cruel laughter. She cut her foot on something sharp that stuck up from the grass, but barely felt it as she hurried on.
Finally – certain they could no longer see her – she crumpled to her knees and sobbed until her eyes stung and her chest ached. Her tears finally spent for the moment, she slid into the dress – trying not to think too hard about her underwear still lying scrunched up in the clearing behind her – and slowly began to make her way back in the direction of the club house.
She knew she couldn’t face the embarrassment of going back to the dance, but she couldn’t very well walk the eight miles home barefoot. She also couldn’t just leave Anna alone here; not when her best friend likely had no idea about the true nature of her date. She’d clean herself up, and then find some way to get her friend’s attention without drawing too much attention on herself. Anna would help her figure out what to do after that; Anna was good at figuring things out.
She avoided the main lobby – crawling with her classmates – and made her way slowly around to the back of the building. Fortune seemed to take pity on her and she found a service entrance unlocked. She slipped inside and made her way down a dimly lit hall until she came to a door marked ‘Washroom’. She threw the switch as she entered – the big room flooded with brutal florescent light – and quickly engaged the lock on the door behind her before sliding to the floor in a blubbering, despondent mess.
She wasn’t sure how long she sat there’re crying, but when her tears dried up for the second time that night, she felt a decade older than she had while deluding herself about being a princess as the limo manoeuvred its way up the sparkling lane. She felt disconnected from reality – from her body – and hallowed out inside.
She pulled herself up and went to the sink.
The single mirror that hung on the wall there was slightly warbled, but the reflection it cast was more than she needed to see the horrid mess of condition. Her face was a canvas of black smudges and her hair had fallen – the curls had drooped and there were bits of grass and twigs and leafs tangled throughout – but the worst was the dress; the dress that had made her feel so beautiful – so hopeful. Dark green grass stains marred the turquoise silk, and clumps of brown mud caked the beading along the bodice.
She knew she couldn’t go home to her aunts looking like she did; knew the things they’d say and the names they’d call her. After everything else, Chelsea couldn’t face that.
She tore the dress over her head, ran it under the faucet and began scrubbing vigorously at the stains with soap from the wall mounted dispenser. She rubbed until her hands were red and raw, and – with horror unparalleled to anything she’d ever known before – realized that all she’d managed to do was make the mess worse.
Unaware of the tortured mewling that issued from her throat, she made her way across the room to a small storage closet. She rummaged through supplies, shoving aside rolls of paper towels and toilet paper, a slightly rusted pair of sheers, a box of sponges and bottles of hand sanitizer, until she found the two bottles of bleach…
The first bottle lay empty on the floor. The second had been tipped over on the small counter and continued to vomit its contents slowly into the sink. The dress she clutched with ragged hands was more a dirty yellow hue than the vibrant turquoise it had been, and she wept over the ruin as though it were a child she’d just murdered rather than a dress.
She could never go home.
“Who’ll want the cow now?” Anya would snicker.
“Who ever did?” Dalia would chime in.
They’d both puff at those stinking cigarillos as they took turns – like Heckle and Jeckle – belittling her until she felt like something less than human. They’d mock her and insult her, and eventually turn to slurring her long dead mother until Chelsea could take no more. When they’d finally had enough of the sport – at least for the time – she’d be left all alone to slowly drown in her embarrassment. That was the most awful part; even when she got away from her aunts, she would always carry around her shame. There would be no escaping it.
“No!” She shouted to the empty room as she let the silk fall limply into the bleach filled sink.
With her naked back to the bathroom door, she held the rusty sheers as firmly as she could in her right hand. She sucked in a deep breath, and plunged the blades deep into the left wrist before yanking them in an upward motion. She’d expected it to hurt more, but as the blood began to pump and spill over her legs, and pool on the tile below her, she felt only a slight, dull stinging sensation…
He sat slumped behind the wheel of his jeep, watching as the rain fall over the downhearted mourners who’d gathered to pay their respects. He couldn’t go down there to say goodbye; not with his guilt painted so clearly across his face; but he couldn’t force himself to stay away altogether either.
He sipped cheap whiskey from his father’s antique flask and watched the rain sluice down his windshield.
It wasn’t supposed to be like this. It was just a little bit of fun… no one was going to get hurt. He’d never even considered such an outcome when he’d suggested the bet.
It was simple; the five of them would each invite an unpopular girl – a known virgin – to prom, work their charms and do their best to get a shot at the cherry before midnight. They’d each put $200 into the pot; losers got nothing, winners split the spoils.
It was just a little bit of fun – their last hoorah before their high school days were behind them – and no one was going to get hurt.
Tyler had been the luckiest of them all – or so he’d thought – since Chelsea White was actually pretty cute, even if she didn’t know it herself. Mark had gotten stuck with Chelsea’s slightly chubby best friend, Anna, and the rest of the guys picked random geeky girls from their classes.
Matt had struck out early in the night; his date leaving with another guy. Kevin had had a glass of punch thrown in his face by the mousy chick that headed their school’s chess club – he’d never been that smooth, and none of them – including Matt himself – had expected him to win the pot anyway. James had chickened out entirely and cancelled his date at the last minute, opting to come to prom alone instead.
It had come down to him and Tyler, and though Mark already made up his mind not to mess with poor, sweet Anna’s feelings; she was too kind and smart and funny, and every time he looked at her, he kept thinking of his little sister; he’d told no one that he’d lost the nerve to go through with the bet, even while still teasing and cajoling his best friend to make his move. When Tyler finally confessed that he was actually starting to like the girl, Mark got the other guys in on the taunting. Eventually, Tyler caved.
Mark drooped against the steering wheel with his head in his hands as he began to sob. He wished he could take it all back, but it was too late; the damage was already done.
He’d never meant for Chelsea to flip out; never even considered the possibility that the game might press one of the girls to kill themselves; and he certainly never thought that a little bit of fun on their prom night would lead his best friend to take his own life just days before graduation.
Mark sniffled as he looked over the rain battered cemetery to where Tyler’s parents stood clutching desperately at each other over their only child’s grave. He felt the blades of guilt twist in his guts for the umpteenth time, and choked back the remaining whiskey in an attempt to dull the sickness.
It was just a little bit of fun.
The air around her was ripe with the caustic stench of the bleach left to dribble into the sink unchecked after she’d realized it had only served to make the problem so much worse. Now the fabric was irrevocably ruined, and she couldn’t help but feel as though the purpose of her life had been eaten away with the vibrant colour. But the stains had refused to come out, and the bleach had been the final act of a desperate girl…
“Who’s gonna buy the whole cow if you’ve gone and given the milk away for free?” She could hear her Auntie Dalia saying in her mind.
“Who’d want that cow to begin with?” Dalia’s twin sister, Anya would snort between puffs from one of the stinky cigarillos the sisters were always smoking. She’d punctuate her words with a sharp cackle, and Dalia would join in.
It just would be more of the same things she’d been hearing for the last twelve years of her life – ever since her parents had died and left her to the care of her aunts – only this time, it would be far more terrible.
She’d always tried so hard to be a good girl. She did her chores and schoolwork without being pressed. She was quiet and respectful – she never talked back, no matter how harsh their words and accusations – and she did her best to stay out of her aunts’ way, so as not to draw too much of their dark humour. Though she didn’t completely ignore the outside world – as her aunts so often preferred to do – she’d always kept her social life to a minimum in an attempt to add less fuel to their cruel intentions. Still, everything that Chelsea did seemed to stoke that flame, and now – she knew – she’d practically gift wrapped herself for their amusement.
It all started when Tyler Brent – one of the hottest guys in school – had asked her to the senior prom. Her first instinct has been to turn him down flat; she’d never risked dating before, and it seemed almost reckless to do so now when she was so close to being free; and she would never understand why her lips had murmured ‘yes’ when she’d painted ‘no’ upon her tongue, but once the word was out, it seemed too complicated to draw it back in, and so she’d just committed herself to the escort.
Besides, Tyler’s best friend Mark had invited her best friend Anna, so it wouldn’t be that bad. In the end – with a little push from Anna – Chelsea decided that she deserved just a little fun; her aunts need never know about it. After all, they’d attend the graduation ceremonies at the end of the month out of duty, but they had no reason to get anywhere near the dance. If Chelsea was smart about it, they’d never know a thing about the boy.
She’d been so busy worrying over how to keep the secret from her aunts that she’d never taken the time to wonder why a guy like Tyler – a boy who’d barely said a dozen words to her in the four years they’d been attending classes together – would ask a socially retarded girl like her to the prom in the first place. Instead, she’d swaddled herself in ignorant bliss and allowed herself to grow more and more excited as the dance drew closer.
A week ago, she’d dipped into her savings – her soon to be financial freedom from her father’s awful sisters – to purchase the turquoise dress.
It had been a ‘love at first sight’ thing, and despite the hefty price tag, Chelsea had known it was the only dress for her the minute she’d slipped it on in the little boutique’s change room. It was made of long, flowing silk that clung to the curves of her body, and had a plunging neckline accentuated with delicate – but elaborate – silver beadwork. There was a slit up the left leg that came nearly to her hip, but though she knew it was far more daring than anything she’d ever worn before – and though she knew that her aunts would certainly never approve – her mind was made up the second that she caught her own reflection, and just then she could barely bring herself to care about what Dalia and Anya might think.
Examining herself in the looking glass, Chelsea saw something she’d never noticed before. Though her chestnut hair was swept back in a sloppy ponytail – without a stitch of makeup on her face – she realized that she was not the ‘cow’ her aunts so often insisted she was, but a near perfect clone of her mother. Her mother had been elegant; beautiful beyond reproach; and had been the center of attention wherever she’d gone. Chelsea may have lacked the woman’s style and grace, but she could see – for the first time – that she had potential. Her heart swelled with optimism. Soon she would be off at college and her aunts would be left alone to choke on their snide remarks. The world would be full of possibilities for Chelsea, and she wouldn’t have to play the shrinking violet any longer.
She told herself that there was no time like the present to start changing her image. She purchased the dress and a pretty pair of silver sling backs to go along with it. Afterwards, she went to the drugstore to buy her first lipstick, blush, shadow and all the other pretty things that were designed to help a woman accentuate her looks. All these treasures, she stored away in the back of her closet until the big day.
As she dressed for the prom, she felt the return of that swelling optimism. As she slipped into the turquoise silk that second time – relishing the way it slid down her body – she felt as though anything was possible. She sat at her desk to twist her hair up in an elegant bun – curling and teasing locks of her bangs to drape down around her face – and carefully did her makeup with the aide of a helpful site she’d Googled earlier in the week. The finished product could have been her mother; there was the polish that Chelsea had always lacked in the past; and looking into her own reflection was both heartbreaking and exhilarating all at once.
It wasn’t until she started upstairs that anxiety began to strangle her happiness. Her aunts had come home early from Bingo – she could hear them up there cackling – and there was no way to sneak past them without a confrontation as she’d hoped.
It doesn’t matter what they say, she told herself. You’ll be out of here in less than a month, and you’ll never look back.
Playing that same tune over and over in her mind, she slowly ascended the steps. As her fingers closed around the door handle, she drew in a deep breath and reminded herself once more that it didn’t matter what they said; nothing her aunts could say would hurt her again… if she didn’t let it.
“You look like a streetwalker,” Anya snorted as she stepped into the kitchen.
“Someone is always willing to pay a streetwalker,” Dalia kindly pointed out. “She just looks like a run of the mill slut to me.” The twins sniggered in unison. They both drew from their reeking cigarillos and exhaled a noxious cloud of smoke as they looked her up and down.
Chelsea blushed slightly, and held her tongue.
Perturbed by her silence, Anya prodded, “Just where do you think you’re going looking like that?”
“The senior prom,” Chelsea mumbled timidly. “We talked about it more than a month ago.”
Dalia chortled, “Couldn’t even find a date for prom, huh? Or were you just hoping to latch onto some other girl’s reject as the end of the night?”
“She is her mother’s daughter,” Anya grunted.
That one stung a little, but Chelsea did her best not to let it show. “I’m going with Anna,” she said. “I won’t be home too late, I promise.”
Hmph!” Dalia grumbled. “Are you sure about that? A pair of desperate little sluts like you two could find yourselves pretty busy, come last call.” The twins chuckled in unison again.
Anya said, “You sure that’s such a wise plan, cow? Anna looks like she could just about suck a plum through a straw… might not be good for your own odds to go with a girl like that.”
Another round of raucous laughter, and then Dalia said, “Maybe they’re just gonna tag team. A scrawny cow like her and a fat little pig like Anna… something to be said for diversity, I figure.”
The twins burst into a full-fledged fit of snorting laughter.
Mortified, but still refusing to let it show – and knowing that she was getting off easy – Chelsea apologized for not meeting their approval, offered a wan smile and excused herself for the evening, even as they continued to call out quips behind her. By the time her feet hit the front steps, the rented limo was pulling up at the curb. She hurried down the driveway, hoping to be off before her aunts’ faces appeared at the window, and climbed quickly inside before her date could exit. A final glimpse towards the house revealed Dalia and Anya glowering at her from behind the curtains, and her stomach flipped.
Just a few more weeks, she reminded herself yet again.
“You look beautiful!” Anna squealed as Chelsea slid across the seat and the limo pulled away from the curb.
“You really do,” Tyler assured her a moment later.
She smiled shyly in response, and found her nerves slowly beginning to settle.
The senior class had been raising funds for the prom all year, and the results of their efforts were obvious. The prom was being held at ‘Eden on the Green’ – the most prestigious golf club in town – and the club house was theirs for the night. As the long black limousine turned up the lane – decorated with thousands of twinkling lights – Chelsea couldn’t help feeling just a little like a fairytale princess. She was Cinderella, she decided, and her Prince Charming had finally come to rescue her from her evil aunts so that they could ride off into the sunset and live happily ever after.
The thought made her smile.
When the four emerged from the limo, Tyler pulled her gently aside and whispered, “You look so amazing,” as he slipped a white rose corsage on her wrist.
“You look amazing too,” She told him blushing. He looked better than amazing in the well tailored black tux, and the hint of a grin playing across his lips. She couldn’t believe her luck.
Going with the Eden theme, the club house had been elaborately decorated; strings of climbing ivy, hundreds of sparkly, crepe paper flowers and more of those twinkling lights everywhere an eye might stray; and Chelsea couldn’t help but be infected by the magic of it all. Though she’d spent most of her life being as timid as a mouse, that night she really did feel like a princess rescued from her dark tower.
When Tyler asked her to dance, she accepted. When he wrapped his arms around her, she leaned in close and rested her cheek against his broad shoulder. She laughed often and without restraint. She smiled near constantly, and demurely accepted the compliments she was paid – and she was paid many that evening – and after awhile, she even became comfortable with the praise.
When they weren’t dancing, they sat with Tyler and Mark’s friends – the most popular kids in school – and everyone was so nice that Chelsea couldn’t understand why she’d always been a little afraid of them. As her and Anna were listening to Matt Lawson’s date – a somewhat nerdy but sweet girl they both had Biology with – relate the story of how Matt asked her to the prom, Tyler leaned close to whisper in her ear, “You’re by far the prettiest girl here… the most beautiful girl I’ve ever seen.” And the heat rose in her cheeks again as she lowered her eyes.
On the dance floor when Tyler stole his first kiss, Chelsea forgot her nervousness. She stood on tiptoe to meet his lips and felt her heart ache with promise. The last thing on her mind was her aunts and every cruel word the two had ever uttered. When he suggested a private walk in the moonlight, it seemed to Chelsea as though the rest of the world had all but disappeared. She happily accepted his invitation; delighted by the idea of a stolen moment alone with him.
As they moved away from the club house, he took her hand in his and she barely stifled a giggle.
The ripe moon cast its silvery luminescence across the golf course, creating an almost magical illusion as they moved across the perfectly landscaped grounds. On the air was the heavy aroma of lilacs and freshly mowed grass. Thousands of crickets sung their chirping serenade to the starry sky above, and the gurgling of slow moving water could just faintly be heard in the distance.
To be continued…
Do you remember once upon a not that long ago, when you used to believe people were incapable of real change? Ah, it’s almost sweet when we sit back and take stock of all the things we’ve been wrong about over the years, isn’t it? I mean, you used to believe that you were defined by your inner turmoil, but look at you now; living a life devoid of angst and doing a pretty decent job at it if I do say so myself. It’s interesting to see you that you’ve managed to become so conscious of yourself, whereas you used to just be self-conscious. Who could have guessed that there was a difference, right? Ah, but you know yourself better than most will ever hope to, and you rarely ever hide from the truths anymore, even when they’re less than flattering. Times sure have changed, haven’t they?
I love that you’ve learned to accept yourself; that you no longer try to be anyone other than you. I remember a time when you wanted to change everything; your appearance, your feelings, you surroundings; but you didn’t know how to escape. These days you’re not even running, and it’s nice to see you take a break.
I love that you’re not sad anymore; that you smile from your heart and not from some strange need to cover up what you’re really feeling. There was a time when I thought you would die without a single person ever really knowing you, but I no longer have to worry about that. I love your laughter – even when you giggle snort – and the honest ring I hear in it. I love that you do it so often and so loud and that you don’t seem to give a damn who might be looking at you like you’re a lunatic.
By the way… have I ever told you that you’re about the nuttiest sane person I’ve even known? It’s true – you are – and I love the way that doesn’t even faze you; I love that you’re probably grinning about that right now. I love it when you sing out loud at the top of your voice and then wink at the stranger watching you from across the street like you’ve lost your fool mind. I love that you’ll break out dancing in the middle of a public place just to brighten someone’s mood. I love that you’re the first one to volunteer to do embarrassing things, and the last one to hide away from looking like a clown… so long as there’s fun to be had in it. I remember a time when you were so busy trying to make it look like you had it altogether that acting a little silly was the last thing you were ever like to do. Funny though, isn’t it, that you’ve gotten your head so neatly together that appearing insane can amuse the hell out of you, but back when you were actually losing it, you were so concentrated on looking sane.
I love that you’re not angry anymore. I think that was one of the hardest things for me to witness; the way you grew so bitter – and even a little cruel – during the initial stages of your metamorphosis. I see now that it was just something you needed to do; getting angry and fighting back was necessary at the time; but I was worried it was going to be a lasting thing, and so I’m quite pleased to see it didn’t stick. I’m glad you decided to let all that rage go, the baggage was getting too heavy anyway, and so long as you were holding on to past trespasses against you, there was no way you could really find happiness in the moment. I’m glad too that you made your amends with those you wronged along the way; I know who you are deep down inside and I think the guilt would have gotten to you if you hadn’t.
I love that you don’t let your fear stop you anymore. I remember watching you shy away from so many things over the years, and now I’m proud to say that just doesn’t seem to be the case anymore. I still get the creepy crawlies from some of weird shit you’ve done to prove you’re your own master – ugh, remember that damn tarantula? That was gross! – but I’m proud of you just the same. It’s a big wide world out there my friend, and life is short… might as well get in as much living as you can, while you can. Do me a favour though? Don’t go swimming with sharks; there’s laughing in the face of your fear and then there’s just plain insanity… remember; you like living!
I love that you’re a good mommy. I recall you saying that you’d never have children because you were too afraid of fucking them up; I remember how you once completely believed that the chains of abuse couldn’t be broken, but this was just one more thing you turned out to be wrong about, wasn’t it? I have a lot of respect for the way you are with your kids – I know you sometimes worry about your parenting skills, but I don’t. Love is the key, kiddo, and you always have plenty of it to give. All those little tough moments; oh and you’re soon to delve into the teen years, so believe me, the tough times are coming; won’t be so bad if you just stay on course.
I love the way that you’re always looking out for other people, but what I love most is that – these days – you remember to look out for yourself too. I love the way that you love. Back when you used to hate yourself, you only thought you were giving your whole heart, but I’ve seen the truth of it for some time now. It was only by learning to appreciate yourself that you really freed yourself up inside enough to give proper adoration to those you care about, and it was only through learning to respect yourself that you learned to command the respect and loyalty of others.
I love that you don’t see the world the same way as other people, but that you try so hard to accept everyone for who and what they are, despite your differences. I think that’s a pretty decent quality in a person.
I love that when you daydream, you cast yourself as the warrior, the dragon, the queen… you can’t even imagine yourself as the damsel or the victim or the prey anymore, and I find that kind of cool. I love too that in the real world, you refuse to back down. I love that you’ll stand and fight for what you believe in.
I love that you acknowledge that wedge of darkness that’s still within you, but that you don’t shy away from it, deny it or try to hide it. You are who you are sweetheart; just roll with it. You’ve lived enough of a life to have earned that little patch of darkness, and screw anyone who says otherwise. Remember that without darkness, light will never seem half so brilliant; two sides to every coin… Who cares if some see you as a sinner and others as a saint – you know you’re both.
I love that you can be funny and serious, deep and shallow, humble and narcissistic, whorish and virginal, patient and impatient, evil and innocent, submissive and dominant, kindly and devious, childish and mature, optimistic and pessimistic, ignorant and wise, sweet and sour… and all the other things that you sometimes are. Yes, I might not come right out and say it near as often as I should, but I do love you; never forget that, my friend.
Now, while I’d love to stay and chat the day away, there are things to do and people to see. Until next time, just keep being you, and stay one of a kind.
Love always and forever,