Distraction (October 2016)

Lena crouches down and brushes back spiraling leaves to uncover a tiny pumpkin sitting in the dirt. She cups it in just one hand, dusting off flecks of dirt with the other. There are so many pumpkins that surround it that are fuller, more evenly shaped and vibrantly colored. She stares at the one cradled in Joanne’s arms, with its perfect curved stem and skin so orange that it pops against the dim, overcast sky. But there’s something that draws her back to the one she’s holding – she can feel a strand of life humming inside it. It hadn’t been given much chance to become something, but it held on.

“I don’t think you’ll be able to carve much onto that one,” Joanne points out as Lena rises to her feet, and she shrugs. It seems better to leave it unscathed and whole.

When it begins to rain, Joanne steps in closer to her and warms her. Lena tucks her pumpkin into the folds of her jacket, sheltering it away from raindrops and the mud that splatters up her shins as they cross the length of the pumpkin patch. Joanne pays for their pumpkins – Lena’s is worth only a handful of change. They head home and Lena watches the pumpkin rattle in her lap as the car coasts along the road.

She goes to place it on the coffee table as soon as they get inside and keeps it steady by balancing it against an almost empty glass of water. She hears the squeaking of their shower handles as Joanne turns them, and remembers that her clothes are heavy and soaked against her skin. She washes the cold away, embraced by steam and kisses.

When they return to the living room, Lena has a blanket draped around her shoulders that her fingers stroke and clench around. She goes to rest on the couch by the fireplace as Joanne sets up her pumpkin to carve on the table and begins to dot around it with puncture holes. She listens to the thuds on the table as pieces of the pumpkin give way under Joanne’s tools, and the crackling of the fire. She wiggles her toes as they’re enveloped with comforting heat and starts to trace around the bumps and ridges on her tiny pumpkin.

“You look comfy.” Joanne startles her out of her patterned movements as she comes to join her on the couch, her large, full pumpkin now inset with two curved eyes and an arc for a mouth. It glows with the small candle tucked inside, and she watches the light waver as the flame flickers. Lena hums in affirmation, bouncing a little when Joanne plunks down next to her.

Her gaze drifts back to the pumpkin in her lap. It’ll last a while longer. It’ll hold up through the nights to come, kept safe from trick-or-treaters stomping around the porch, and the cold loneliness that will sweep through the ending of fall.

It should have a face too.

Lena disturbs their position on the couch as she moves to the kitchen to grab a sharpie out of one of the drawers. She uncaps it and holds the pumpkin steady as she draws a smiley face on it. It deserves to be happy for making it this far.

She returns to her spot. Joanne yawns beside her and Lena is pulled into her drowsiness. Her eyes lower into slivers, her tiny pumpkin growing blurry. Its black smile remains in her mind.

 

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Break Away (December 2015)

The plot of Break Away centers around Stephanie and Layla, two young women that become each other’s support as they enter into new stages of their lives. Stephanie is forced to come to grips with her sexuality when she and Layla begin dating and finds both the pressures and gifts that come with accepting her identity. Layla, meanwhile, has recently graduated college and is now finally breaking into her career. The responsibilities that comes with independence and being out in the “real world” weigh on her shoulders as she tries to adapt. 

Break Away, Act I

 

Call of the Sea (September 2016)

Laurel’s feet inched closer to the edge of the dock, bare skin scraping against rough wooden planks. She was pulled in by the rhythm of the tide brushing the shore, the night’s breeze ruffling her hair and long skirt, but most of all, the woman in the midst of dark blue waves. The stranger’s hand rose out from the surface, reaching for her, fingers curling to say, Join me. Laurel quickened with each step as her gaze grew lost in the way the moon reflected off of the swimmer’s wet skin – it begged her, Touch me, kiss me…

When she reached the end, Laurel did not hesitate to fling herself out toward the waves. Her clothes rippled around her as she dropped down. She anticipated a cold slap when she hit the water, but was caught and wrapped up in steady arms. Laurel wrapped her legs around the other woman’s torso, lightheaded as bubbles swirled around them, breathless as the beauty’s mouth pressed to her collarbone. Her heart thudded against her ears, drowned out only by the melody that hummed against her skin. Laurel stilled, aware only of the hands and lips that roamed her body as she drifted, carried away by a song.

Forest Walk (November 2015)

Howling, screeching, scratching drown out the thumps of a heart locked away behind a heaving chest. Drops of light slide down from her bare toes to the forest floor, illuminating broken leaves, dirt, bugs. She smudges the light on the soles of her feet, lets blackness take over her eyes instead. This comforts her. If she can’t see the monsters chasing her, maybe they don’t exist. Maybe the forest doesn’t exist. Maybe she’s just pretending to walk across a forest in the middle of the night, because she’s bored. Maybe she’s just hearing a story about a girl walking across a forest in the middle of the night. Maybe it’s just a dream.

She stays inside her darkness bubble as long as she can to keep safe. She journeys deeper into the forest that is no longer a forest but everywhere warmer, intimately familiar. The night gives way to each place she puts into the bubble, rolling grass blurring with white sand, carpet, rose-colored light, no light at all, the same soft fingers entwined with hers.

You’re okay. I’m here. Those familiar fingers brush through her hair, that beautiful voice slows her rush of breath.

What a feat to contain an entire love in one bubble, to capture its electric but subdued nature. Electric when their limbs tangle then squeeze she remembers that blood is pumping through her every second – she’s alive. More even, it’s subdued as closing her eyes. Letting her drift in a wordless space

 

 

only to be roused by a gentle whisper. Tie a red string between our fingers let me share my fate with your fate.

So she does. She loops the string around her finger.

She holds onto the moment with every piece of her concentration, wanting to stay there lucid. She stands still, creeps around the edges of her consciousness so that it won’t remember that nothing in her bubble really exists; everything outside of it does. Monsters continue to follow her completely-grounded-in-reality scent even if she denies them. The forest is still a forest, no matter what she names it, puts in it. The rattling branches, sticky mud lie under her feet no matter what she retreats to. She can run, hide, coil from, tuck away her fear of the world, her unpreparedness. Her head’s a safe place, a disconnected from the world place.

But, what’s that solving? Is she not grounded in a reality she can never escape from, every moment dragging her with it? Whether she believes the trees to be trees or their branches to be a tender human touch or

Who cares?

The imaginary won’t help her when she’s bleeding on the forest floor, limbs trapped in the jaws of her ignored monsters. The unreal can’t shield from the real.

What an epiphany.

Her consciousness flings her out of the bubble, shredding her apparitions, destroying them. The damage is done now. She’s made her choice (had she wanted it? the truth? was that what she came here for?) The girl she loves turns to mere wisps, falls away in her hands. Gone.

g

o

n

e.

In her stomach is a hollow emptiness that settles on then crushes her diaphragm. This reality she had been avoiding but found anyway in a fleeting moment of existentialism. What a foolish mistake.

Ignorance won’t welcome her back now. She’s forsaken it. Be alone then! Alone with five hundred beasts stampeding with pieces of the bubble staining their teeth.

She has no time to run. They trample her, pin her to the floor, let the forest bugs crawl through her hair. She becomes a part of the forest indistinguishable from any other, howling, screeching, scratching while they rip through her, separate her into pieces.

Had she really expected a humble, darkness bubble to save her from the world?

 

No, this was just for a brief happiness.

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Island of the Goddess (October 2015)

I lie under the moon, staring across at her as stars freckle her skin. Her hair glows silver, wreathed with lilies. I thread my fingers through it, wind it up in my hands, drawing closer. Her skin is under my lips. I worship her every outline. Give my soul as an offering.

Her breath puffs over my face as I’m pressed flush against her body. Her warmth wraps around me. I drink in the color of her cheeks, move my hands over her. Never stopping. She whispers to me. I nod, mumbling words that trail off into nothing, just to get her to speak. To move her lips. To bring ours back together.

Closer.

What I am and what she is blur. My thoughts dissolve into hers, losing myself, letting her take over. I becomes we, our blood pumping through one heart, our voice filling the night air.

This is home. This is home.

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I’ve lived many lives with her. I die to be reborn in her lap, bending to the touch of her fingers once more. Her love is endless. I don’t waste a single drop of it – every moment is precious, unique from the last. An eternity would not bore me if she’s beside me.

Once we tire of this world, we can make a new one. She did it once before – when we first met.

Before her, I lived on a pitch-black planet. I stumbled, feeling my way around, never completely acquainted with anything. She showed me the sun. She taught me how to breathe right along with her. In. Out. In.

And then she kissed me.

I settle into a familiar comfort when her hand is in mine, recognizing the grooves in her palm. I explore the island with her. We’ll stay here for a while longer. A century of sand between our toes, of drifting emerald seas – swimming in her eyes. Our paradise, shared only by multicolor birds and fish.

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She’s away on divine business. I try to be sympathetic. She does have a whole

universe to look out for. Other people need her attention, her touch, her consideration. They get to keep the words she gives them. The laughs she shares with them. All the things that I’m not there for.

Over these few lifetimes, my jealousy has evolved into a sense of… grudging acceptance. A chiding against my selfishness. Love is not a cage. I’ll never let it be – not for her.

For me? I’m homeless out of her arms.

Can I breathe when her rhythm is missing – when the steady in and out is replaced by a hollow silence?

We becomes I again. How dull it is to just be I, to be without all of the complementary parts of her that make me complete. That keep me stable. I would destroy the chaos inside me if I could.

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She steadies me with her hands, pausing to assure my balance before wiping under my eyes. She isn’t afraid of what comes next. She knows that moments after I die, I’ll come back. Smile again when she squeezes me. Cast off the weight of my death to embrace a new life with her – one equally full of my love for her.

I start to fade. I’m not afraid either. I know what I’m going to wake up to. I anticipate a future that begins and ends and always contains her. Always contains us.

She asks me something troubling when I’m revived. What do you want in this life?

You, of course.

She drops the conversation soon after, but I know where she’s headed. It comes about whenever she returns from being gone for a while. She finds me in the same spot she left me, or floating – eyes closed – in the ocean. The mood will momentarily turn sour, when she tells me that she loves being we rather than I, but she still likes to be I. She’s comfortable being I. She hopes that I can like to be I too – that I can love the I apart from us in myself.

If I can do that, I might not have to die anymore.