Friday, June 26, 2015

gasping for air

Shiloh's hands were sticky from the cake she kept picking at, even though she was fifteen and knew better than to play with her food, especially at a restaurant as fancy as La Croix. She hadn't taken a bite of the cake, even though she'd claimed to be starving so they'd stop. It was selfish, but she couldn't go home. She couldn't. The whole house smelled like him--warm, earthy, and heavy, just like he'd always been. The scent made her throat go tight, and she smiled brightly at the people near her. "Remember when," she started, spreading her hands across the bold white table cloth, "when he convinced me that our bird was actually a fairy in disguise and all I had to do to make her appear was to let her go?"

The silence was unbearable for a dead second, but Mom's mouth tugged to the side in a smile, and Dad leaned back in his seat. "The feathers were everywhere," murmured Colt, his chin resting on his chest. She tried to catch his eye, but he stared at his lap unfalteringly. She could only imagine his hands, clenching and unclenching beneath the table. He was angry. Even the slight smile on his face couldn't hide that from her.

"I think I got grounded for half a month before he admitted he put me up to it." She shook her head,
and her hair sent chills up her unusually exposed back. Why couldn't funerals be casual? She'd get more comfort from sweats, chocolate, and fuzzy socks than she'd ever get from a little back dress or a tie. "What else did he get up to? There are so many stories I don't know, I'm sure."


She waited for someone to speak up. Colt didn't look up. His freckles were hidden beneath angry flushed skin. One of Mom's hands crept up to cover Dad's hand, while the other played with the feathery end of her long braid. Neither of them made eye contact with me. My stomach went white-hot, then ice cold. Shame tightened my lungs. I should've just stayed quiet.

"He wrecked the garage door and totally got away with it."

***

Colt's legs were restless beneath him. He crossed and uncrossed them, jiggled them up and down, took his shoes off and then shoved them back on when he saw a waiter eye him strangely...nothing made him comfortable. Everything about this restaurant felt out of his depth. The stiff black vests, the thick, red carpet under foot, the mellow mood lighting that screamed "Be gentle with us; we're breakable." He wished they'd just stopped and gotten fast food. But of course, suit and tie wasn't acceptable for Mickey D's, according to the North's rules of society.

He bit his lip to keep bitter words from spilling out. Screw the North's and their rules. Screw them all. Screw Ali, screw Kurt, screw Shiloh, screw Jon--especially Jon.

"I don't know what he was thinking," he said quietly, running his tongue over his teeth as he thought out his next words. "We'd just gotten our driver's licenses. Neither of us had cars, and I was driving mom's minivan when I had to. I don't know what possessed me to let him drive--when we both knew I was the more responsible driver." He paused for the chuckle he knew that would draw from them, then continued. "We were going to the park. Mom told  us to walk, but we took the car anyways. He was super confident--"Watch, I'm gonna go on the highway and no one's going to criticize my merging skills."

Kurt gave Ali a sidelong glance, and a blush laced with guilt rose up her tanned  neck.

"I told him we didn't need to go on the highway, so what's the point, but he punched me in the shoulder and said, "If you're that worried about the price of gas, go get a job. Let's live in the moment, okay?'" He swallowed, since his throat was closing up. "His sleeve pulled back as he turned to back up. That's when I first saw his scars."

Shiloh took a sharp breath in through her nose, and he saw Ali reel back slightly. He gritted my teeth. Did she still find that her precious son had consciously hurt himself a disgusting fact of life? Sometimes, he wanted to punch Ali North. Other times, he wanted to punch her son.

"I grabbed his arm, but I grabbed it at the wrong place. His foot was on the gas, and I startled him. The garage door wasn't all the way open yet. The car was okay, but the door was useless." Colt bit his lip. "We didn't talk about the scars, or how he'd flinched when I grabbed him. I just went inside and told mom I'd wrecked the garage door." He forced a smile to his face, shaking his head. "I got grounded so hard that Mom took my day-old license away. So instead of walking to the park like normal people would've, we sat on the curb in silence. Until he rolled up his sleeves." And told me
every time he'd cut himself, down to the minute of the hour of the day of the month of the year. And why. And where.

He'd never reminded me more of his brother at that moment.

Colt looked up, meeting the eyes of everyone at the table unshakably. "And I can't tell you what he told me, because it will break you. And I can't watch you do that again."

Shiloh gulped back something more than words, and Kurt bit his lower lip until it was swollen and throbbing. Ali didn't move, and he wondered if she'd heard me or if she'd blocked everything out, just like she'd been doing for the past three years.

Maybe he shouldn't have told that story. They needed to know. But maybe it was too soon. Was two days too soon? Was three hours too close to home?

Well, sucks for them, because this whole thing was too soon and too close to home.

He looked over at the ghost at the dinner table and wished he'd kept his mouth shut.

***

Shiloh'd meant to keep the mood up. She'd dreamed of a happy family, reminiscing their lost one's
life. She didn't mean any harm; she just wanted to keep everyone afloat at the same time. He could see her, she was gasping for air. Her parents couldn't see it; they were too busy trying to pretend everything could be normal again. Colt didn't see it, because he was too busy erupting on the inside. He wanted to shove every warning sign in front of the blind parents, but he couldn't. Those warning signs were raw and oozing scabs, even to him. The only person who saw Shiloh's drowning was him.

Colt'd meant to humanize the mood. There would be no idolization, not after he'd seen what he'd seen. His memories were poisonous, and if he didn't let them out, he would asphyxiate. He did mean harm, because he was furious. How could they not see him as he'd been? How could they have been so focused on how perfect their white picket fence, two point five, ordinary suburban family life...how did they miss their own son disintegrating before their eyes? Shiloh didn't see how he was suffocating; she was too busy looking at his hands and trying to meet his eyes. She couldn't read him. She never could. His parents didn't see him, mainly because because they didn't understand how invested the boy was in all this. They saw him as a resident in their home, but they never realized how much his second family really was his family. How much losing his best friend was like a stab to the heart. The only person who saw him gasping for oxygen was him.

The most helpless person in the room.

He wasn't about to tell a story. He couldn't even speak his name. He couldn't open his mouth. They'd torn his larynx from his throat when they had a stranger speak about how precious dear Jonathon was too perfect for this world and that he'd never done anything to  cause anyone to even suppose he might be suicidal. He wanted to scream at the congregation how wrong everything was, but his voice was long gone.

Everything was wrong.

His sister was crying invisible tears, behind the perfect smile. The happy go lucky little girl was gone.

His best friend wanted to punch the lights out of his second parents. The peaceful boy vanished with the casket.

His mother shook hands and accepted "I'm so sorry" like it was the easiest thing in the world. All her pride as a human being slipped down the drain.

His father's laugh broke from hearty to guilty, and his words didn't hold the same confidence like they always had. He was graying to a shadow right before his eyes.

Everything was wrong.

He was voiceless, brainless, heartless. His best friend had just died, and he couldn't squeeze out a tear. He couldn't even say his name. His name. The first name he'd ever learned was just ripped away from him with a turn of the steering wheel. He was falling into oblivion. He was drowning. He gasped for desperately for air.


But no one could see him.

Sunday, June 21, 2015

inside out

I suck at movie reviews. Really, I do. I feel like I don't do an adequate job of portraying what goes on, or I don't give a very unbiased view of the film (because if I love a movie, I love it death, despite it's many flaws. And if I hate a movie, I hate it. To. The. Pits. Of. Hell.) I get caught up on stupid little plot points that the screenwriters never meant anyone to notice, and I groan over character development.

Or I gripe about how my family has to pry me from the seat at the end. Movie theatres are not kind on the poor hypermobile soul.

literally me all the time. except i'm not that cute.
So that's why I'm not doing a movie review of Inside Out. You know, the major emotion picture (that still makes me laugh). I'm going to talk about Matty's core memories.

You see, in the movie, the girl has five or six core memories. They're prominent moments in her life, and they helped form her into the person who she is. They change over time, and by the end of the movie, they show her having a looooooooooot of core memories of many different things. I don't think I have time nor energy to go into all of my dear Matthew's core memories, but I think I'll share four of the most obvious ones with you guys. Buckle your seat belts. His mind tends to have bumpy rides.





 First off, I'd have to say the first time Colt called him his friend formed a huge part of Matt's personality. Before the twins got to know that strange gangly boy, Matt was of the opinion that two was comfortable company, while three was an uncomfortable and awkward crowd (especially when Number Three is Colton Trelawney). No one would want to be friends with someone as socially withdrawn as him. Jon, maybe, but not Matty. When Colt accepted him as his friend (and soon to be best friend), it opened up a tiny little door in Matt's brain that made him realize-- "Huh. I can make friends. I might not be very good at it, but people won't hate me for trying, at least." Colt has no idea how much his casual, "Hey, this is my buddy." made a difference in Matt's life. But I think he'd be really proud of himself if he did. Embarrassingly so.




The day Jon stopped dressing in polos and jeans and began wearing black on black also affected his personality. He hadn't really cared before that the two of them always dressed alike, but once Jon started changing, he missed it a lot. The change hurt him a lot too. In some ways, that moment is when Matt marks when Jon began drifting away from who he'd always known and loved. Because of this, he resists change. He hates it. He would rather stab himself with a fork than switch places at the dinner table. His family knows that, and it scares them. What kind of person holds on to strange things like the color of toothbrush they've always used and going to shock when somebody changes the status quo? Not a normal one, that's for sure.


Don't worry, Matty. I get how you feel on that one. A lot. 

One time, in third grade, Matt flunked a test. That day is stained red with teary eyes and blood (but only because he accidentally ran into a door knob. Don't ask silly questions.) somehow, he marked the scantron wrong, making all the answers off, and his teacher didn't think someone as meticulous as him could ever make such a foolish mistake (yes, even at the age of eight they were already holding him to ridiculous standards). Worser still, Jon got the highest grade (a 74, which isn't say much, but still. How embarrassing). Since then, Matt doesn't just double-check. He quadruple-checks. Everything. Math homework, his order at resturants, his shoelaces...he's beyond picky. He's precise.


And I think we all know what Matt's final core memory is. The most recent one. The darkest one. The one that ends with a brother in a casket and a family that turns to fix him when he still wants to understand how his brother could break him. He doesn't like thinking about this one. I don't either. But it's always on his mind. Always. Jon's suicide never leaves him alone. It's like a machine gun set on automatic, pointed straight at his brain, and it never runs out of ammunition. Why his head and not his heart? Obviously, Matt doesn't have a heart anymore, or so he says. He feels with his brain now. It's the safest way to experience "emotion." What if I had stopped him? What words did I say to set him off? When did he make the decision? Those are the thoughts that plague him. What he doesn't know is that his brother had been long gone. Talking to him was no longer like defusing a bomb...he was already counting down.















dude. that last one drained me. Just making independent character boards for them last night took way more emotion and feels than I ever thought it would. Of course, they are my babies, but still. This is absurd. And I love every moment of this emotional distress--I might do it again for another one of my victims--ahem, darling characters.


so what are some of your characters' "core memories?" what's formed them as individuals? Or even better, what about you? Can you think of the memories that made you who you are? 

my core memories: twenty one pilots concerts. all three of them.

Saturday, June 20, 2015

reality boy {a book review}

honestly, I picked this one up because the author's pen name is A.S. King, aka asking, which I found really cool and...

you know, I'm beginning to realize that all my book selections have really weird stories behind them. And I'm pretty okay with that.


I actually haven't decided if I like Reality Boy yet. This book was a ride. There were a few times when I almost through it across the room, and there were also times when I had to take a deep breath to keep myself from crying.


I know I didn't think I'd like it when I first started reading it. Honestly, the main character's name is Gerald. I don't like the name Gerald. It makes me think of cough syrup. Not a good name (no offense given to all the Gerald's of the world; I'm just not going to give that name to my firstborn...or any of my children...or any of my pets...) His anger issues also frustrated me--but what frustrated me worse was his therapist.

therapist: you don't deserve to be angry.
me: shut up.
therapist: you can't ask for things in life, it'll only make you angrier because your expectations are going to ruin you.
me: shut your face.

seriously. that's crap advice.

yeah...pretty ironic though--a anger therapist gave me anger issues. 

I'll say it again: this book was a ride. Up and down, back and forth, all over the place. I pretty much gave up having any ideas about where it would go and just went with the flow. It got to the point that I didn't even bat an eyelash when Gerald and Register #1 Girl kidnapped each other and ran away to the circus. Or when Snow White started talking.

Just kidding.That was one of the moments I had to take a deep breath and resist throwing the book across the room (I had that sort of moment too).

Gersday weirded me out a little...and it also made me really sad. It was continual evidence that this kid was disintegrating right in front of my eyes, and I couldn't do anything about it. That was actually that main thing that frustrated me about this story. So much went down that I couldn't change or help. His parents and their blindness. Hannah's oversensitivity. Gerald's tactic of retreating from the real world. Tasha's stupidity.

Oh my gosh. Tasha. I hated Tasha. And the thing is--she wasn't over the top. You actually believed this girl was off the deep end and had been there for a while. Normally characters with her psychopathic tendencies irk me, but she just made my heart hurt like she was an actual person.

Also, I would officially like to hug Hockey Lady, as well as Ashley and Nathan. You outstanding people. I love you lots.

actually I'd probably try hugging them and end up being that person...

Overall, this book was an interesting read. I haven't touched on the whole "Gerald grew up on TV and he's pretty much been destroyed by the fact that television made his life into something that could have the bad edited out so one could see him hurting" aspect of the story, and I'm not going to. That's a huge ball of wax that I don't have the time nor energy to dig into, but I will say this: reality TV frustrates me. And this comes from someone who watches her fair share of that stuff (Korean though it may be). I know that what's going on isn't always what's actually happening in the real world. It's so easy to stage things and to cover things up. It makes me wonder just what is truly going on. It makes me curious in a very worried way.


One quick note--this book is by no means a clean one. Swearing, Tasha and her boyfriends very rude behavior, even Gerald's loopy way of thinking...it can be rough. But it also made me think, long and hard, about several things. And if you love a good story about a kid pushing though the expectations that he and others have set up for himself, Reality Boy is a pretty good choice.

Have a fantastic Father's Day weekend, guys!

Thursday, June 11, 2015

re-learning

writing is weird.
sometimes the words flow out like a perfectly organized symphony
other times they are jagged and clog up the drain of my mind.
the words just want to be understood
they want to speak in their own language
but you see
that's the problem
I forget the language
Sometimes by day
Sometimes by week
Sometimes by month
I always relearn it
but it takes time
that's the way I am today
I guess I'm in the process of 
re-learning
I know there's something in there
deep within
but it's hiding in a cranny of my mind
and I can't quite get it out yet.
that's a problem.
maybe the words escape easier when I am in distress
when I'm not sure which book to read
or what my favourite flavour of ice cream is
when I'm waiting on that three o'clock call
or that 11:30 text
or that random email that I'm sure is coming
tho I'm not quite sure when
maybe my words are bolder and more triumphant on the page
when my mind is not content to sit and watch Spencer Reid
on the TV screen
when Prussia has reached his utmost awesome
(which, let's be honest, will never happen)
and I no longer fangirl over the things I love
when I'm discontent
with staying in one place
I have to do something
I need to do something
there.
I did something.
maybe that's the key.
but you can't bottle up that feeling
it's impossible
it's implausible
it's astronomical.
you want this too
I know you do
but how
how 
how
maybe I'll figure it out
but first
I need to keep on
re-learning
or else I'm utterly lost.