147 E. 9th Street – Chapter 8

New horror fiction. 

 

Chapter 8

 

“Hello!” Dae called from the doorway of the house. Carolyn shuffled around the corner, draped in layers of flannel, with a blanket wrapped around her shoulders.

“Hey,” Carolyn said.

“Damn you are a sexy bitch,” Dae said. She held up bags. “I used my key. Hope that’s okay. And I brought lo mein, about twenty spring rolls, tea and wine. Oh and porn. Something in here should help.”

“Thanks,” Carolyn said. “Just…put them in the kitchen. Or wherever.”  Carolyn walked slowly to the living room and dropped into a chair.

“So…” Dae said.

“So,” Carolyn answered.

“What’s going on?”

“I don’t know.”

“Is it bad?” Dae asked.

“Maybe. I don’t think so,” Carolyn said. “But they don’t know. I’m supposed to see him tomorrow. Talk about the tests.” Carolyn rested her head on the back of the chair. “Shawn is crushed. Not that he’s acting like it”

“Why?”

“He is brighter and shinier than I’ve ever seen him. Hanging out with friends. Going to hear music. He started taking pictures again. Has more clients than he can book. Hasn’t had a seizure in a year.”

“No, sweetie, not why is he acting, like, some white frat boy. Why is he crushed?”

“If we go to the appointment, and it’s bad, then my uterus is officially off the market. Yanking it off the shelves. Expired. Done.”

“Shit,” Dae said, looking at the floor.

“Nothing’s definite.”

“But if you go in there tomorrow and they say, that’s it, baby is off the table– are you…”

“I didn’t know if I ever even wanted a baby,” Carolyn said. “I didn’t think so. You know that. I’m not a mom. Now, all I see is babies. All I hear is kids. Singing. Screaming. I can’t stop them.” The sound of tinny carousel music came from the next room. “See? My phone.”

“Oh. Go ahead,” Dae said.

“No,” Carolyn said.

“I can go get it,” Dae shifted to stand.

“I said no,” Carolyn demanded.

“Ok.”

The women sat without talking. The music marched on for a few more seconds and then stopped. Carolyn hung her head.

“I hate to bring this up,” Dae said.

“Just say it,” Carolyn said. “I know that’s why you came.”

“It’s not,” Dae said. “I wanted to see you.”

“Bullshit. What did they say?” Carolyn said, picking up her head and staring pointedly at Dae.

Dae breathed. “They’re taking you off all your current projects. Raj is going to call you on Friday to formalize it.

“Fuck,” Carolyn said, letting her neck go slack and dropping her head to the back of the chair.

“They’re not firing you,” Dae said. “He is absolutely clear on that.”

“Sure as hell sounds like it,” Carolyn said.

“I’m sorry,” said Dae. “It sucks. But…”

“But what?”

“I don’t want to sound like a bitch. Yeah, I’m your manager, but I’m your friend first and after. The work still needs done. The ad buys are slowing down and we need the content. And besides all that, I think you’re a fabulous woman. But you weren’t getting it done when you were there. I’d rather you be here and get better.”

“He’s a massage therapist, Dae. You know what he makes, what we have. How are we supposed to make it on one salary? In New York?”

Dae pulled out an envelope and handed it to Carolyn.

“What?”

“Pay me back when you can. I probably won’t be there much longer anyway. Looking at some new companies. Maybe try something on my own. When I do, you come with me.”

Carolyn hung her head and tears filled her eyes. “I can’t cry. It hurts.”

“Then don’t, you maudlin, moody bitch.”

Dae crouched down to the floor and wrapped her arms around Carolyn. They smiled. Then, Carolyn wept.

“I hate you,” Carolyn.

“I hate you too,” Dae responded.

Carolyn trembled as she exhaled in spurts and cuts.

“You’re okay,” Dae said. “Promise. You’ll get better and figure this out.”

Carolyn said nothing. Her tears stung her skin when they rolled down her cheeks. There was a twinge in her stomach. Then another one. And then a faint flutter. As soon as she felt that, she stopped crying. She knew what the tests would show. And she knew that they would be wrong. Only she knew what was happening.

If you enjoy these literary ramblings, my new suspense novel Drowning Above Water is available at Amazon. 

Malina and Petyr

An excerpt from Drowning Above Water.

“You’re so pretty,” Malina said as she ran her hands along Petyr’s blonde hair. “Your mother must have been beautiful.”

“I don’t know,” he said. “I don’t remember. But I think so.”

“I bet your babies will be pretty just like you,” she said.

They stretched out on her bed. He gave her space to move and reposition, but managed to keep physical contact with her skin. A finger on a shoulder, a heel on the back of a calf, but he couldn’t let her go. He looked at her. Her eyes were so busy; so much spinning behind them.

“Did you have babies before?” he asked. “When you were home?”

She shook her head.

“I’m sorry,” he said, kissing her forehead. She didn’t pull away from him, but she didn’t return the affection. That’s how it typically was.

“And what about you, my pretty boy? Do you have any babies?” She grinned as she said it. She knew very well he didn’t have any children. She knew he couldn’t imagine lying with any other woman but her.

“No babies. Only you,” he said.

“Yet,” she said. “You just haven’t met the right girl.”

“You are my right girl,” he said.

“Sweet, fantastic boy. So young. So hopeful. I don’t want you to ever learn.”

“You’ve done well this time,” he said. He didn’t mention exactly what he meant. But she knew. There were no pills in the tin in her purse. She had done well this time. He wouldn’t press her.

“Do you think we’ll be old together?” she said, propping herself up to look directly at him. “Grey and fat and limping? Do you think that will be us?

“Of course it will,” he said.

“No,” she shook her head.” You’ll find some heartbreaking girl…or boy, and run away together and never look back.”

He propped himself up to meet her. “Never,” he said. “I will never run away from you.”

“Then I’ll have to push you away when it’s time,” she said, pressing softly at his shoulder.

“You could never,” he said. I wouldn’t go.”

“What if you had to?” she asked.

“I wouldn’t go,” he said.

“I hope not,” she said. “You are what keeps me alive. And smiling for another day.” There was a knock at the door. Malina groaned and rose from the bed. “Make him wait outside for a minute, then let him in,” she said.

“Be careful,” Petyr said, rising to meet her.

“You be careful,” she said. “This is the easy part.” She squeezed his hand and walked off to the bathroom. When he heard that door close, he walked to the hotel room door, opened it, and made sure to close it behind him when he exited.

Drowning Above Water is the new suspense novel from Alyssa Herron. It is available at Amazon. 

147 E. 9th Street – Chapter 7

New horror fiction. 147 E. 9th Street – Chapter 7

 

Chapter 7

It was so hot. The blankets from their bed around her felt like a heavy shroud.  Asphyxiating like the vest they drape over torsos during an x-ray. The wool was oppressive and binding. She could feel the sweat pooling between her breasts. Her shirt was soaked. Her hair was wet from the nape of her neck to the crown of her head. The room was bright and sharp and stinging light shot in through the curtains. She squinted, and she could feel a bead of sweat trail down her curled nose and forehead.

“Baby,” Shawn whispered. Carolyn opened her eyes, but they were leaden. Her eyelids drooped, leaving her eyes open just a sliver against the burning light. “Can you try to drink something?” She felt the bed shift when he sat down beside her. She pushed the blankets down to her stomach. It felt like she was trying to dig her hands through wet sand. Shawn’s hands brushed against her as he helped wrangle the covers.

“Here,” he said. She felt his hand behind her and he helped her get into a sitting position. More of a leaning, tired position. He handed her a glass. It was cold. It felt wonderful. Instead of drinking it, she held it next to her face. “Try to drink,” he said. “You haven’t had anything all day.”

“My legs hurt,” she said. Let her try to hold the glass on her own. She managed, although it did clink against her teeth each time she raised it to her mouth. He wrapped his hands around her calves and rubbed, them. She grimaced, the glass wobbling in her hand.

“Steady on,” he said, taking the glass from her.

She curled her knees to her chest. “My stomach hurts. Like something is squeezing me. Twisting my insides. Ugh,” she groaned.

“Baby,” Shawn said. “We need to take care of you.”

“No, I just need to sleep. And my deductible is too high.”

“It’s almost bedtime. You’ve slept all day.”

“What? Shit, I have to…work,” she said, trying to roll over in the bed. She flopped to her original positon on her back, out of strength.

“No,” he said, putting the glass of water on the bedside table and softy keeping her in bed. “No work. Dae texted this morning. You texted back.”

“Wha…” Carolyn said, trailing off into her pillow. “I don’t remember.” She pulled the blankets up to her chin, despite the rising temperature around her. “Just…want…”

Shawn kissed her forehead. “Sleep. I’ll see you in the morning, love.”

 

 

Two hours later, Shawn was sitting on the edge of the chair in the hospital room. Carolyn was on the bed, curled into a fetal position. Neither of them spoke. Shawn, usually so eager to touch her, to heal and relieve with his good hands, kept still, his fingers curled around each other in his lap. A man in tight-fitting scrubs, with tattoos down past both elbows, walked into the room. Shawn stood. Carolyn didn’t stir.

“I’m Dr. Curtis,” the man said. Shawn extended his hand and the doctor quickly shook it, but his eyes focused on Carolyn in the bed. “How you doing?”

“Been better,” Carolyn said quietly.

“Here’s where we are,” Dr. Curtis said. “You’re running a fever, but the blood work shows no real signs of infection. I’ll be honest, I don’t like it. So, I’d like to get you in for a CT scan of that belly. See what’s going on. Okay?”

“Do you have any idea what’s-“ Carolyn started. The doctor stopped her.

“I really wouldn’t want to guess until we know more. Can I get you anything?”

Shawn looked at Carolyn. She waved them both off with her hand.

“All right. I’ll be back,” the doctor said and he left the room.

Shawn paced back and forth across the small room. He turned quickly, sending a bin of tongue depressors and long cotton swabs onto the floor. The echo of the metal crashed reverberated in the small room.

“Please sit down,” she said.

He knelt down to gather up the scattered debris. He looked to the trash, and looked at the bin on the wheeled-cart, but her wasn’t sure where to put his handful. Frustrated, he dropped them all on the counter next to the sink. From the bed, Carolyn shifted her hips and released a muffled groan. Shawn left his pile and sat next to her on the bed. She grabbed his hand.

“We’ll figure it out. Figure it all out,” he said. He loosened his hand from hers and then took her hand in both of his. He cradled it like an egg. Supporting her hand in his, he massaged her wrist; circles of light pressure then a firm downward force with his thumb. He slowly moved his hands up her arm, then to her shoulder. Her breathing slowed. The tightness and the tension in her face relaxed by a degree. He moved his hand to the side of her ribs. Not reaching for her breasts; this was a healing touch, not a sexual one. He curved his hand into the space between her ribs and her waist, and then back to her rib. He gave firm pressure to a tip of a middle rib.

“This should help,” he whispered to her.

“Why does it hurt so much?” she said. “There’s something wrong. Something really wrong. I’m scared.”

“Shh. Don’t talk like that. We’ll find out what this is. Have you right as rain. You’ll see.”

The end of a gurney pushed into the room with a clank or metal and the squeak of old wheels.

“Carolyn Janus? Birthday 07/22/1988?” the woman in bleached-white scrubs pushing the gurney asked.

Shawn nodded.

“Ok. We’re going upstairs to CT.”

“Should I…?” Shawn asked.

“No. You stay here. I’ll keep her safe. I promise.” The woman helped Carolyn shift from the bed to the gurney. Carolyn bit her lip and stifled a moan. The woman slammed the side rail of the gurney up into place.

“Get her right back to you,” the woman said, backing the gurney out of the room.

Out in the hall, the woman smiled as she pushed the patient on her stretcher. Carolyn could barely see the woman who was moving her down the hall. She looked above her at the woman in white. There was a tag hung around her neck. There were bright red letters, but the name that was stamped in the middle under a picture kept blurring out of focus.

“Remember me?” she asked.

Carolyn couldn’t think. It was the woman. From the bar. Pam. That was it. Nun’s name. With the drink. And the phone.

“Don’t worry, honey,” Pam said. “Like I told him. I’ll keep you safe. Both of you.”

 

 

Her head pounded. It hurt so much. Carolyn stood against the window of the hospital room and leaned her head against the pane. She wished for winter, but the glass was warm.

“Why can’t we just leave? she asked. It wasn’t the first time she had said that in the last hour. This time no one was there to hear. Shawn had gone to get her an herbal tea. She hated herbal tea–in this moment, more than usual. She wanted a glass of white wine so cold that glass had frost. No. Not a glass of white wine. She wanted a bottle. And she couldn’t remember a time in her life when she had ever wanted white wine.

A nurse came in the room, pushing a computer on a wheeled-stand. At least Carolyn guessed she was a nurse. The woman in the navy scrubs never said.

“Marilyn?” the woman asked.

“Carolyn.”

“Oh,” the woman said, starring into the computer screen. “Were you in a different room?”

Carolyn shook her head. Jesus. She would seriously kick this computer and its pusher down a flight of stairs for that wine.

“This place,” the maybe-nurse said, sighing and taking a huge slug out of travel mug that sat on the small ledge wrapped around the front of the monitor. The mug was orange and as big as the computer screen. The woman slurped down the coffee as she clicked, somehow all while staring out the room’s window. “Oh, no, here it is. Ok. Doctor signed off on your discharge. Go ahead and change and I’ll print out your papers.”

“Is anybody going to tell me what’s wrong?”

“He didn’t come talk to you?”

“No,” Carolyn said.

The woman sighed louder and swallowed another mouthful from her mug. “There is it. Follow up visit in two weeks. Number will be on the papers.”

“But-” Carolyn growled.

“If there was anything, it would be in here. But it’s not. So, I’m sure you’re fine.”

“Sure. Cause I feel fucking fine.”

“Your papers will be at the desk,” the woman said, pushing her computer out of the room.

Carolyn flung up her middle finger at the empty doorway. She yanked off the hospital gown, and walked over to the tiny plastic closet in the corner, wearing only her underwear. The elastic band adhered to the sweat on her back.

Shawn stepped into the doorway, holding her tea and wearing an eager, sympathetic smile.

“What did they say?” he asked.

The steam rose through the hole on the plastic cover of the drink. She imagined the liquid melting the cup, distorting it around Shawn’s hand. Hotter, and hotter and hotter, until the tea dissolved every molecule it touched, until there was redness, and pain and…

“Bloody hell,” Shawn yelled. He dropped the cup on the floor and the tea pooled by his feet, hot vapor rising like a mist. He stepped back and reflexively brought his hand to his mouth to cool it. “Don’t know why they serve it like that.”

He grabbed a handful of paper towel and bent to clean the mess.

“Leave it,” Carolyn said.

“No, I can’t. I’ve made a wreck of the place. Someone could fall or-“

“Take me home,” Carolyn said. “Now.”

(Alyssa Herron is the author of the new suspense novel Drowning Above Water. It is available at Amazon.)

147 E. 9th Street – Chapter 6

 

Chapter 6

                 

“You look like helllllll,” Dae said, stretching out the word to crystalize her point. She was perched on Carolyn’s desk, her butt touching the keyboard, her legs spread, with Carolyn sitting in the middle.

“I know,” Carolyn said. She felt like hell and agreed that she looked like it.

“What happened last night?”

“Went to a bar. Had a drink. Lost my phone. Came home and found it. Then I went to sleep.”

“You’re so old,” Dae said. “I’m embarrassed for you right now, you’re so old.”

“You’re four years older than me,” Carolyn said.

“Yeah, but I look good.”

“I only had one drink,” Carolyn said.

“Then I need to know that bartender,” Dae said. “I know you’re dying, but…you have those medical descriptions, right? Karl needs them. Now.”

Carolyn exhaled and smacked Dae’s ass to get her off her desk. Dae swung her legs around, clearing the keys but keeping her hips pointed to Carolyn.

“Why do women speaking Farsi need to know how to ask about a yeast infection?

“I’d imagine they have nasty cooters in Persia, like just they have downtown. But, I just dance the code, pretty. Making the world better one useless app at a time. And Karl needs your descriptions. Now.”

Carolyn fussed at the computer and then jabbed a final stroke. “Sent. Why does just doing that feel like I ran ten miles?”

Dae stared at her. “You all right? There’s not something…”

“I’m not pregnant,” Carolyn said.

“Didn’t think you were,” Dae said. “But apparently you did.”

“I didn’t. I have no idea why I just said that.” She jammed the heels of her hands into her eyes. When she dropped them back in her lap, there were tears on her cheeks.

“Honey, what the hell is happening?”

“I don’t know,” Carolyn said.”

“I’d say go home,” Dae said, “but I can’t. We really need to get started on the update for the travel piece. I don’t want to stall Darren again.”

“No, of course not,” Carolyn said. “I’ve been working. It’s fifty percent at least.”

“I need 75 as soon as you can.”

“Don’t worry,” Carolyn said. “I’ll handle it.”

Dae stood up from the desk and rubbed Carolyn’s shoulder. “You’re the best.” She walked away from the desk and Carolyn slumped into her chair.

 

Hours later Carolyn laid under all the blankets of their bed. Her neck ached. Her hips throbbed. Even her calves felt like solid cramped blocks, as if she’d run a marathon in heel, and she’d been in nothing but flats for days.

Shawn peeked his head through the bedroom door. “Hey,” he said. “You getting on?”

Carolyn shifted the blankets away from her mouth but otherwise didn’t move. “Dae says I am.”

“You don’t look well, love,” he said. He felt her forehead.  “No fever. Can I get you anything?” he asked. He sat down next to her on the bed, stroking her legs over the thick comforter.

She stared at him. He looked…good. Nothing specific. Just good. He always looked good. But this was exceptional. His skin was smooth and, not sweaty or shiny, but dewy. The way a young girl looks, freshly scrubbed after a warm bath. He was smiling. His lips were soft, moist. His whole face was bright. Even his body. He seemed lighter, like the forces working on his body were lifting his center to the sky instead of pulling it down to the earth.

“You look…” she said, trailing off, losing her voice in the covers below her chin. “Beautiful. Like an angel.”

“It was a good day,” he said, smiling and rubbing his thumb over her cheek. Even that felt . She could feel the roughness of her skin edges catching, disrupting the marble-smooth skin of his thumb. It felt like a wet cherry, rolling over fish scales. Two unexpected and exclusive objects meeting awkwardly. She never realized his hands were so soft.

“You sleep,” he said. “I’m going to pop out for sushi around the corner. Then I’ll be downstairs. Need me to bring you anything?”

“No sushi,” she said.

“Right,” he said. He tucked the blankets around her. “Well, then, my spicy roll. A bagel for you.  I’ll be right back. Call me if you need anything.” He leaned in to kiss her. It had a touch more suggestion and passion than a usual popping-out-for-sushi-be-right-back kiss. She wanted to reciprocate, but she couldn’t. She could barely lift her head off the pillow. He left the room and she closed her eyes. She never heard him leave.

 

 

(Alyssa Herron is the author of the new suspense novel Drowning Above Water. It is available at Amazon. )

 

 

147 E. 9th Street – Chapter 5

 

Chapter 5

 

Carolyn stood in the doorway of her bedroom, her legs frozen. Her phone sat, quiet and still on her bed. Not in the center, but on her side of the bed, where her lower back would be if she was lying there. But there was no way. She had been in that bar. The phone had been in her hand. She had heard the phone ring and the child’s voice that came through when she answered it. It couldn’t have been here the entire night.

“You going to bed?” she heard the voice behind her ask. Her breath stopped. She clapped her hand over her mouth, trying to stop whatever air was left in her lungs from escaping. Without willing it, she bent over at the waist and collapsed to her knees, curling both into herself and into the ground. She felt arms around her, keeping her from sinking completely into the carpet. The arms lifted her up and walked her to the bed. She let them sit her on the edge. Her edge. She saw the phone and her body reared back. She kicked, her heels digging into the comforter, until the phone fell off the bed,  landed on the floor, and bounced under the bed.

“Lynnie,” he whispered, trying to calm her. “You’re okay. You’re okay now. Come here. Come here with me,” he soothed. He eased her to her side, wrapping himself around her like a thick, weighty blanket. She always folded right into him when he held her. But tonight, she fought. She didn’t feel safe enough to fall. He felt her body, tight and rigid and leaning away from him.

“I’m sorry,” he said, easing his grasp and giving her space. “I know you’ve been in your head. About me. About what’s going on.”

“I don’t know what’s going on,” she said. “I just needed to get out of here. And I went to that bar on Second, and this woman, and her mouth, and the phone rang- “

“Nothing. Nothing is going on,” he said, drawing long ovals on the back of her arm. “You fell asleep and you must have been dreaming. You’ve been here all night. Not talking to me, granted. But you didn’t leave.”

“What are you talking about?” she yelled. “I went to the bar, and she said I had to answer the phone, and that little kid’s voice. Oh my God, Shawn…”

“Baby, oh my poor girl. There wasn’t any bar, or woman and her mouth. Although, now I’m wishing there was- “

“I’m serious. Jesus Christ, I was scared to death, the voices, they were just babies, they said I had to get home to you and- “

“Look at me,” he said, resting his hands on her shoulder. “I promise you. Absolutely promise. You have been here with me all night.  You’re safe, my girl.”

She stared at him and her whole chest tensed, her triceps muscles bracing. He kept circling, light then more pressure. Her skin broke out in goosebumps. He continued. Her muscles finally relaxed under his hand.

“I fell asleep?” she asked.

“That’s my girl,” he said. “Yes. You just fell asleep. You were my tired cat.”

“I am tired,” Carolyn said.

“I know you are,” he said. His continued to work his hands across her neck and shoulders. She shifted lower, sinking in to the bed, under his touch. “There we are,” he whispered. “Thank you for coming back to me.”

“Are you going crazy?” she asked, not wanting the answer nor ready to believe the one she might get.

“No, love,” he said.

“Am I going crazy?”

“Never. Sanest girl I know. You’re the strong one here, right? You know that,” he said. “I’d be lost and drowned without you. Truly.”

“But I heard that voice on the phone,” she said.

“If you say you did, you did. Of course you did,” he said. “But that doesn’t mean it was real. Only means you heard it. Or thought you heard it.”

“I don’t know and I don’t know how. I need to know how.”

“Have you been thinking about…” he started, then trailed off, quiet and touching his lips to her back of her neck.

“Thinking about what?”

“Nothing, love, just a silly thought. You know how I get with you all soft and warm in bed with me.”

She peeled away from him, just an inch, enough to turn and roll in place so she could see his face.” What have I been thinking about?”

“Nothing at all- “

“Shawn,” she said, done being warm and soft.

He sighed. “Please don’t be angry about this. It’s probably just me. My stupid head. But, you said it was a kid. A little kid. Maybe- “

She rolled away from him, giving him her back again.

“See? I’m sorry. I’m an idiot. I can’t help it. I just know, when I’ve had my…troubles in the past, there’s sometimes something at the core. Something shaking me from the inside. I can’t help but think,” he held her closer. “Maybe it’s just me. Maybe you’ve been unsettled with me being sick. Looking for a way out. But please don’t. You can’t. I’m coming back. Back to you. I promise.”

“I don’t think I even want a baby,” she said.

“And I love you for that,” he said, kissing her cheek. “That doesn’t matter. One way or another. I’m happy with just you. Now, lie still, you. You’re a mess of knots. If I start now, I might have you sorted out by breakfast.” He knelt above her, wringing his hands firmly together. She nestled deeper in to the pillow. She wasn’t all there, not heart and mind, but she was willing to offer her what parts of her were there.  He placed his hands on either side of her neck. They were muscled and expansive, wide palms and long fingers. He held them over her for a moment. She could feel them in the air inches away from her skin. Then he touched her, soft and light at first. Then he slowly started sinking in with more pressure. She sighed under his hands and started to move. His hands and fingers worked, rubbing, circling, kneading the anxious fibers of her back. She felt his fingers almost touch each other in the front of her throat. They lingered there for a moment, no pressure, just presence.

He delved deeper into her form, she closed her eyes and let herself drift. Away from the things she trusted completely and the things she couldn’t quite know. Under the bed, the phone laid in the strands of dust, forgotten after her displacing kick. It was still and silent. The battery had been dead for hours. But the indigo light from its keys glowed steady and unstopping.

Pre-teen Blanket 


This is my latest Dark Yarn. 

On the surface, it’s not dark. It’s bright and cozy. The idea is adorable. My son’s new step-brother has a nursery filled with Winnie the Pooh and friends. 

I couldn’t quite bring myself to make the baby a new blanket. I started. I tried. His mother and grandmother are beautiful yarn artists, so the young one with have his share of cuddly wrappings. It’s good he didn’t need mine. Because I couldn’t keep going. 

I wanted to make a blanket for my own son. But, one he could share with his new brother. The one who shares his father and his initials and his half-birthday. 

So, we came up with this pre-teen blanket. No too baby-ish. (I was warned. Several times. Someone is not a baby.) But something that could bridge the gap between the boys-the distance spanning their rooms and their ages.

It wasn’t an easy blanket to crochet. Technically, it was simple. Emotionally, it was a tangle of dropped stitches and twisted wool. 

My heart hurt as I wrapped and pulled. I cried a bit. I made an absolute mess of the red yarn. I ripped it apart. I put it back together. And I kept on going. One stitch at a time. 

I hope both of these boys like their blanket. Something to share. Something to remember. 

I’m so glad I made it. 

And I hope I can keep on going. 

Empty Egg (or how to make your own coffee)

I have a problem with jealousy. It’s not a small problem. It’s not an idiosyncrasy or a cute quirk. It’s a looming, strangling flaw that has suffocated more relationships than I’d like to admit. Most of them, to be honest. Okay. All of them. And the ones it hasn’t killed, it’s prevented. No one wants to be new friends with an asshole.

My therapist (yes, I’m that girl. I’m starting a paragraph with “my therapist”, but come on. Look around you. Maybe more people should be doing this.) gave me a metaphor. He’s big on them and they tickle me.

This one involved brunch foods.

He really gets me.

First, we talked about coffee. The gist was that I’m an empty coffee cup. It’s my job to see that there is coffee in my cup. Not the cook’s. Not the waitress’. Mine. Others cannot be my coffee. They can be my Splenda. They can be my half and half. They can be my light soy foam. They can enhance, delight, make more aromatic and delicious. But other people cannot be the coffee. I have to be the coffee.

Next, we talked about eggs. My therapist described me as being a beautiful painted egg, artistic and engaging. But most painted eggs are hollow, the innards blown out through a tiny hole in the bottom. This makes them veneer thin and fragile. The slightest tap can shatter them. They are gorgeous. And the slightest wind will eradicate them.

That’s what happens to me. I want someone else to fill my mug.  If I encounter the slightest contrary force, I’m a mess of splinters. I’m a failed breakfast.

To get through life, I need coffee and eggs without the shell. And I need to be the one to order and make them.  I can’t let other people be my happy. I have to find or if I can’t find it, manufacture my own happy. If I can do that, fill the space with substance that sustains me, maybe I won’t be so easily broken.

Here’s the bug in that particular batter: when you are a parent, you rarely get to chase after your own fulfillment.

Now, I know that sounds awful. It sounds callous and selfish. As a parent, aren’t we told we should be filled with indescribable, ever-mounting daily joy, all the time, just because we have a child?

What if you’re not?

Don’t get me wrong. I love my son. With my entire soul. I love being with him. His laugh lights up my universe. When he’s not with me, it feels like my heart is bopping around the world without me. It’s crushing to go to sleep knowing he’s not in the next room.

But, the contrary is equally as strong and true.  Because I am a mother and I am committed to that job, and to raising a strong, capable, happy kid, I am usually unable to pursue my own happy.

Because simply being a mom isn’t enough to make me happy.

That’s horrible. It sounds horrible in my head and it’s horrible to see in print. But that’s what it is.

It hurt when I had to give up acting to be a mom. I resent that I can’t buy a decent camera to work on the photography I love because I have to pay for braces. And I am as bitter as that coffee I expect someone else to pour me every time I miss an opportunity to make a piece of art because I have to be at a school meeting or sit at an unending baseball practice.

And I’m not even good. It’s not as if the world is minus a master because I don’t have the time to put out another poem. But I feel it. And every time I see a friend or even my wonderful, generous partner succeed at their crafts, my own envy over takes me. I become as dark and toxic as yesterday’s espresso. It’s insufferable. I hear the words I say and I want to tear out my own tongue in disgust. That’s not me and I hate that woman. But she appears almost every day. I’m want to kill her.

The bleak reality is that there’s no good fix. I won’t spend less time and effort on my son. And I can’t put any more time into me. Therefore, I will continue to fall into deep caverns of rage, sadness and fuming jealousy.

And I know these are uptown problems. I can’t begin to even pretend I know what actual struggle is. If I was faced with the horrors people across this world are dealing with, I’d crumble. I’m not brave. I’m silly and vain and weak. I’m the woman Ruth Bader Ginsburg orders for brunch and spits out into her perfect napkin because goddesses like her don’t have time for slimy, fatty  omelets like me.

So, here with the computer and the silly words it is. Putting something out. Trying not to fall apart. Egg in the pan. Shells in the compost. Coffee in the cup. Trying  to add some light to the darkest  brew. I have to make my own coffee. Somehow find a way. I have to fill my egg with something. Because I don’t want to be a shell. I want to hold a life. Mine.

 

 

Alyssa Herron is a mom and author. The caliber of either is up for debate. Her new novel is available at Amazon.