The Walking Wounded

“And then, there’s another kind of love: the cruelest kind.  The one that almost kills its victims.  It’s called unrequited love.  Of that I am an expert. Most love stories are about people who fall in love with each other.  But what about the rest of us?  What about our stories, those of us who fall in love alone?  We are the victims of the one sided affair.  We are the cursed of the loved ones, the walking wounded” –Iris, The Holiday

Oh what a mess she’d gotten herself into this time.  She couldn’t even look at him anymore.  Every time she did she could hear his voice in her head and it made her want to hate him.  She didn’t.  How does one hate someone like him?  He was your typical tragic hero.  Great, but totally and incredibly flawed.  She almost wanted to believe that he didn’t know what he was doing to her, but how could he not?  Was it possible that he had no idea how much he was tearing her apart?

* * * *

“Nina, just say it.  We both know it’s true.  I just wanna hear you say it,” he commanded her, leaning against the bar and staring into her eyes as if he could see through her.  It was almost word for word the same line as last time when he’d wanted her to admit that she wanted him to stay the night with her.  Why the fuck did he always do this to her?  He knew she hated this shit.  She wasn’t emotional.  Emotions meant that she could get hurt.  Once you shared your emotions with someone that left you open to them.  It was like standing in front of a hungry mountain lion and begging it not to eat you alive.  But she just couldn’t help it.  It was something about him.  Something completely abstract and indescribable about the way he looked at her and the effect it had on her. 

“Fine.  Yes.  I have feelings for you.  There!  Are you happy now?” She sighed, resting her whiskey fogged head into her hands.  Even in her drunken haze she knew that she shouldn’t have said it, and that she was going to regret it in the morning.  She desperately wanted to ask him why it mattered so much to him that she admit it.  They could never be together.  He was going to propose to his girlfriend and she was probably going to end up alone, or with someone who didn’t deserve a woman like her.  Not that he deserved her either, because he didn’t.  

As she waged a silent war against herself inside her head he continued to stare at her.

“What? What the fuck do you want?!?”  She asked.  Bitchiness was her trademark defense mechanism.  She liked to make a joke out of it, saying that her specialties were to talk shit and complain.

“Nothing…It’s just.  I wish I would’ve met you a few years ago. Before Sonia.  Things would’ve been different.”  He admitted to her.

* * * * 

That was it for her.  It was the final twist to the knife he’d stuck in her heart weeks ago when he’d forced her to ask him to stay the night with her.  He had to know that saying that was going to kill her…didn’t he?  Maybe Taylor swift was right…the bad guy is not easy to spot.  He isn’t wearing a black cape.  He’s actually really funny, and he makes you laugh. Fuck Taylor Swift.

I wish I would’ve met you a few years ago.  Before Sonia.  Things would’ve been different.  The words echoed in her head as she stood in the side station with him.  Those words hurt her more than he would ever know.  They slammed into her heart the reality of what she had already known in her head.  Yes, he did have feelings for her, but no, it wasn’t enough.  He would never choose her.  She turned her back to him and started rolling silverware.  Every once in awhile she would throw out a mean joke.  Secretly hoping that it would hurt him so that he could feel a fraction of the pain that she was hiding.  Hoping that maybe he too would go home, play some sad music and drink whiskey until he was drunk enough to stop thinking about her and how much it hurt him that she existed in the world.  That was what she did.

Women like her didn’t get happy endings.  They gave pieces of their hearts away and never got them back.  Women like her were the walking wounded.  

Where I’m From

I am from paper plates

from Play-Doh and Prometheus

I am from the deer eating apples

(Seemingly calm yet poised to run)

I am from the geode 

that hides its beauty beneath a sturdy exterior

I’m from Tostones and colored eyes,

from Terri and Eduardo

I’m from the ask your mothers and manana, mananas,

From don’t let them see you cry

and I will love you no matter what.

I’m from my HP 

who is kind and understanding yet stern

I’m from Fontana, Cuba, Africa, Italy

Espresso and pot pie.

From my sister whose DNA will never match

The endless patience of my mother.

On the fridge is a magnet

of a boy in a soccer jersey

But look a little closer and you’ll see

It’s not a boy, but me.

And at night as I toss and turn

I am soothed by the jingle jangle

of bronze and silver medals

From a time when things were simpler

Just wind, breath, feet, and Tartan

Losing you

Don’t lie to me, all I want’s the truth

Inside of me, I think I lost you

Who you tryna be? What you tryna prove?

Not the person I knew, I knew, no.

Don’t lie to me. 

Wasn’t feeling no love 

Like monogamy

Had me thinking there was something really wrong with me

But now I’m seeing that the problems was honesty, right?

Cuz you never told the truth

Funny I missed every one of your clues

Now you probably fallin in love with some new girl

Fuck it! I’ma blame the whole thing on you

You’re why I’m broken in two.

And you’re as cold as winter

I’d still give you another chance but you too busy drowning your liver

Probably scrolling on Tinder

You miss me hardly more than your liquor, your friends, or your ex

Maybe this is me being bitter

I tried to change for the better

Yeah, I made mistakes

But the difference is you changed never

Finally pulling the level

Leaving my room

I’m so sick of writing these letters

Losing my mind thinking you just want somebody new

Leaving me with trust issues

But you don’t care 

See its just more of the same. I’m going insane

Standing here screaming your name

Looking into your eyes I could see you were fighting the pain

Saying please don’t, please don’t do it again.

Damn. Abort your baby and don’t even get a text

Now you didn’t want the loving all you wanted was sex

How you went and preached

While at the bar spending your check

I ain’t holding back, how’s this for real shit?

Not your fictional lies always talking bout living a life you wish that you had

I’m doing great by the way, figured you wouldn’t ask

I fucking hate you

Just look what you did

After every damn thing that we been through

This is what I get? Leaving me in a mess

Then you run and hide

Only your scandalous friend on your side

I know you talk about me to everyone in your lines

Telling people our story

But they won’t ever hear mine

You probably won’t listen. I’m just wasting my time

I’m in pieces. I know what I did

What makes you think music will ease this?

How long you gonna keep this?

Guess that you don’t care

See its just more of the same, I’m going insane

Standing there screaming your name

**adaped lyrics from Don’t lie to me–Ollie

1-800-273-8255

Being bipolar some days she just wanted to end everything. It’s hard and exhausting fighting the mania and depression and pretending to be normal. The depression was especially hard for her. She would sit alone some days incapacitated by it and feeling worthless. Some days not even whiskey helped. She would feel alone and helpless and unworthy of love for no reason whatsoever. And god forbid she admit it to someone and get called crazy. 

That was the worst and hardest term to hear, crazy. Was she really crazy? No. Just like a diabetic didn’t ask to be born that way nor did she ask to be born with a chemical imbalance in her brain. Some few supportive people in her life would say that no one is normal and normal is boring but they didn’t really understand how hard it was waking up and wondering if she was going to feel like conquering the world or crawling under a blanket and crying that day. 

How does someone function when they never feel in control of their own thoughts or emotions? How does she find the will every day to get up and battle the darkness? Especially when she is labeled as “crazy” by most. Yes, she was unsteady but crazy? No. Her emotions were real to her whether prompted or inexplicable and they were 10 times stronger than most. Her struggle was real and all she ever asked for was support and understanding. But unfortunately that was hard to come by because mental diseases are looked at as a stigma.

So she shut her mouth, tried to fake it, and fought her battles internally until it all became too much.

*if you need help please contact someone either the national suicide prevention hotline or crisis hotline: text: 741741

Life Raft

    And here this man stood. Asking nothing of her but a second chance. And she was terrified. She didn’t know what to do or what to say.

    He was perfect. As if she’d ordered him from a catalogue. Tall, athletic, dark (melatonin wise, which she so “affectionately referred to as ‘extra crispy’”). And he wanted her.  He wanted her crazy ass for some reason. God knows why. Something about her five years ago had absolutely captivated him.

    She only hoped and prayed that maybe the woman she’d become would further captivate HIM (her true love), but that was a long shot. For she was no longer the woman that he remembered. Back then, she’d been such a naive girl. She’d believed in love and traditional family.

    Now, at 27, she no longer believed in either. How could she? She’d wasted 3 years of her life on the man that she loved, and for what? To be told that he still wasn’t ready? How can you love someone for 3 years and still not be ready for them?

    She’d been ready. She wanted to be there for him. To hoist him up onto a pedestal to show him what he was and that he was capable of so much more than he believed. But, he didn’t believe in himself, and so, she had to move on.

*****

    Years later she married a Duke.  The man who had been perfect for her. She lived a pleasant and satisfied life. But deep in the back of her mind, in a fortress of thoughts that she kept only for herself.

    She wondered.

    What was HE thinking of?

    Did he think of her? Did he miss her?

   And if not… why?

For HE had been her world, and she had simply been his sustenance.

He had been her life,

while she had simply been his life raft

Note from the Author

Hello,

Apologies for the great lack of writing lately.  I haven’t really had any inspiration, and am not a proponent of “writing through the block.”  However, I’ve recently had a lifestyle change that inspired me to write again so I’m starting a mini-series of sorts called Sugar and Spice.

Enjoy!

Loneliness

Sometimes she needed to be alone to be free. The trouble was, loneliness was her own personal demon. She craved it like a drug, but once she got it she let it tear her apart. Once she was shredded to nothing she would surrender and let others use her. It made her feel whole again, but people are selfish. Once she gave them what they wanted, they left her until they needed her again. And when they left, she was just as torn as she had been before, maybe even more so if that was even possible.
She needed to learn to sit with her demons. To hug and caress them. She needed to tell them that although she accepted them for what they are, they could no longer run her life. She could no longer let others use her.
Be lonely, be imperfect, be a mess. Accept it and then move on because in the end it would always be she who was left there when everyone else had moved on. It would always be up to her to be happy.

Kryptonite

They sat side by side on her bed, talking about everything.  Work, life, their relationships.  Okay.  Maybe we CAN do this.  She thought to herself.  Maybe they could just be friends.  But then again, he was sitting so close to her.  His left hand was resting on the bed behind her, and he was leaning into her a bit.  And then there was that look in his eyes.  The one that said it all so that he didn’t have to: how badly he wanted her, how amazing and beautiful he thought she was, and how he loved her even though he knew she was fucking crazy.  She had a love-hate relationship with that look.

And then it happened.  He stood up and shoved her back onto the bed.  It was the perfect balance of soft and rough.  Her heart raced as he crawled on top of her and kissed her.  He started with her lips: sucking and biting softly.  She let out a soft groan as he moved to her neck and kneaded her breast.  As his hands moved to unbutton her jeans, reality came crashing back to her.

“Darrell wait!”  She half gasped half screeched as she sat up, “we can’t.  We promised we were gonna stop doing this.”

He sat back and scratched the back of his head, “I know,” he admitted with a sheepish grin, “But I can’t help it.  I don’t know what it is with you.  I told you it’d help if you were ugly.”

“But D…I can’t do anything about that, and anyways, what about Mary? She’s pretty and she and you are just friends.”

“You right.  I don’t know.  It’s like you have some kind of spell on me.  Do you really want me to stop? Cuz I will.  I’m not an asshole, even though you wish I was” he teased.

She sighed and sat back against the pillows.  At this point both her head and her heart were racing.  She didn’t know how to feel and she wanted to scream.  

“Honestly?” She asked, searching for the answer in his eyes. He nodded.

“As a petty ass bitch, I want to tell you not to stop.  But as a friend I want to tell you that you need to figure this shit out so that you can let me go.  It’s wrong D.  I mean, do you even feel bad?”

“I do feel bad…I just…I don’t know.  When it comes to you it’s like nothing matters.  I know it’s wrong, and I know that you’re crazy, but it’s like none of that even matters.  I mean, I don’t even care that you fucked Swift, and normally that’d be a dealbreaker for me.”

His answer hit a little too close to home for her and she sighed again, rubbing her eyes in frustration.  She completely understood how he felt.  She also had no clue what it was that pulled her to him.  He wasn’t incredibly attractive, nor was he “a catch” in any other way.  But for some reason all he had to do was look at her, and she would do virtually anything he asked.  Maybe it was the fact that he wasn’t an asshole, or maybe it was how he made her laugh because they had the same sense of humor.  Regardless of why, they were drawn to each other despite the fact that they could never really be together.  

After a long period of silence, she looked up at him and shrugged, “so are you actually staying the night or are you going back to Joe’s?”  She asked.  He grinned mischievously.

“Do you WANT me to stay the night?”

“I don’t give a fuck, Do you want to stay? You can if you do, but you don’t have to if you…”

“Nina,” he interrupted in frustration, “how many times have I told you? You don’t have to act like a robot all the fucking time. It’s ok to have feelings.  Just tell me you want me to stay and I will.”

“You don’t have to stay if you….”

“Seriously? Shut the fuck up if you’re not gonna tell me the truth.  I know you want me to stay. I just wanna hear you say it for once.  You can’t hide behind your bitchy ass attitude with me. Tell me how you really feel.”

She started to roll her eyes, but his expression stopped her and she gave in.

“I want you to stay,” she admitted softly without looking him in the eyes.  

 

So he stayed, and for a little bit it was as if she was getting everything she’d secretly wanted for the past two years.  They didn’t even have sex.  They just cuddled, kissed, and watched a crappy horror movie (her favorite).  She knew that it was impossible and that she was gonna regret it later.  She could already hear her sister’s voice in her head: I just don’t want you to get hurt.  He’s your kryptonite.  You know he’s gonna hurt you.  That’s part of the reason you’re in love with him. But she didn’t care.  Life hurt.  But moment like this…they made it all worth living,

 

The morning came, and she dropped him off at his house.

 

On the way home she started to cry.  Her perfect moment was gone.  Darrell would go back to his fiance and she would go back to her boyfriend until the next time he called.
Friends can break your heart too.

Not Insecure

“Oh so you’re one of those girls,” Ellen said in the flippant way that she said most things.  It was actually quite a talent  and most days it was even entertaining.  Ellen could make any rude remark sound completely void of negative emotion, as if she were stating a simple fact.

“What girls?” She asked.

“Those girls who want an ugly boyfriend so that they won’t lose them,” she clarified.

She just shrugged, “well I guess…I just don’t wanna have to deal with other girls hitting on him. It’s annoying”

 

She didn’t mind letting Ellen and everyone else believe that she was “one of those girls.”  It was easier than the truth.  Insecurity is common and even expected from women, but the fact of the matter was…she wasn’t really all that insecure.  

 

One of the beautiful things about living her life the way she had was that she accepted herself.  Once she had gotten tired of feeling ashamed and guilty she realized that no one else really mattered.  As long as she loved herself and as long as she was ok with herself, well, what else really mattered?  So no, she hadn’t told her boyfriend to keep his hair long because she was insecure.  She had told him to keep his hair long because she was realistic.

 

Her sister and she had a game they would play every year in high school.  They called it Con because they liked to think that they were con artists.  They would wait until the middle of the school year when couples at the school were well established and comfortable.  Then they would spend an entire day doing everything they could to get the boys to dump their girlfriends.  At the end of the day, they would dump all of the boys and compare notes to see who had gotten the highest number of boys.

 

It was a cruel game, but in actuality it was an honest game.  Monogamy is a choice, and a hard one at that.  Approximately 70% of men cheat, as do about 70% of women  And when it came to her own personal experiences, she was always either getting cheated on or she was with another woman’s man.  

 

She was very secure.  She knew that she was rare and that he’d be a complete moron to fuck things up with her.
But then again, isn’t that what those other girls were thinking while their men were in her bed?   

The First pt. 1

     She’d never really had a crush before she met him.  Growing up she’d always been a hardcore tomboy.  At the age of five she was convinced that she could be a boy any time that she wanted to as long as she wasn’t wearing her shirt, which was often.  As she grew older she realized that it was a silly notion, still she refused to cut her hair or do anything with it that wasn’t a ponytail.  She refused to wear dresses, skirts, or jewelry, and would take the heads off of her barbies to scare her friends.  She preferred to play sports outside with the neighborhood boys: Street hockey, skateboarding, soccer…it didn’t matter.

     Then she met Lexi.  He was beautiful: tan skin, dark wavy hair, tall, but it was his dark worried eyes that she was most drawn to.  She was only eleven, and he was fifteen, but their age difference never even crossed her mind.

     “Ok Nina, let’s go for a walk, I wanna go see my boyfriend,” her friend Maya announced one day as she arrived at the girl’s house.  Maya never ceased to amaze her.  The girl’s parents both worked three jobs and were never home, so they were always doing things that they weren’t supposed to be.  Sometimes they would tan by the pool naked, sometimes they would drink, and most times they would hang out with Maya’s boyfriend of the week.  

     “Don’t worry, he has a friend for you.  Just do me a favor and come rescue me if I’m in his bedroom for more than ten minutes.  Making out is so boring.  I fell asleep last time we did it for too long.”

     “Maya, I don’t LIKE boys,” she sighed, “I hope his friend doesn’t think I’m gonna kiss him. Ew. No thanks.”

     Maya rolled her eyes and grabbed her by the hand, dragging her out the front door.  They walked the trail through the park to the next street of houses and Maya marched up to a small run down house with a broken screen door.  This house was so different from Maya’s, it was more like something that you’d find in her own neighborhood.  Maya knocked out a code on the door and there was a moment of silence followed by the sound of several locks unlatching.  

     She sucked in her breath when she saw him in the doorway, and as Maya lept onto him she felt her heart drop.  She instantly wanted to run back to Maya’s house and sit on the doorstep until it was time for her parents to come get her, but her friend turned to her and dragged her into the house.  

     “Alexi, this is Nina. Nina we’ll be back in a minute.  Sit with Santos,” she instructed pointing to the boy sitting on the livingroom couch.  Before she left she turned to Nina and mouthed ten minutes.  

     Santos was taller and darker than Lexi.  He was heavier as well, with a big nose and long sideburns.  Hesitantly, Nina sat on the end of the couch, as far away from the boy as possible.

    “You two are young,” he stated in a cold and factual tone.

     “E-e-eleven” she responded softly.

     “Good job Lexi,” she heard him say under his breath before scooting a bit closer.  She tried to scoot away, but was already pressed against the arm of the couch, “you’re pretty you know that? Not like your friend. she’s pretty because she has curves and wears makeup and small clothes. You’re actually pretty,”  He scooted a bit closer and her throat began to close.  She wanted to run, but she knew she couldn’t.  For one thing she had to rescue Maya soon, and for another Santos was terrifying.  He had a cold look in his eyes.  She’d never seen a murderer before besides on the news, but he reminded her of one.  Suddenly, he brushed her hair back behind her ear.  She flinched and looked away.

      “Um. Thanks” she muttered.  He scooted right up next to her and grabbed her forcefully by the chin.  She stared into his deadly eyes in horror.  Every nerve in her body was tensed to run.  Then he kissed her.  She squeaked, shoving his chest and leaping off of the couch in an ungraceful movement that sent her tumbling onto the floor, “sorry. I have to pee,” she practically screamed, getting up and power walking down the hallway toward where she thought the bathroom would be.

     Once she found it, she locked herself in and sunk to the floor.  She wanted to cry and scream at Maya at the same time.  Why would she ever think that it was ok to leave her with scary Santos?  Deep breaths. She told herself as she sat, shivering on the cold bathroom floor.

     After what she thought was ten minutes she opened the bathroom door.  She could tell which room was Alexi’s because she heard Maya giggling wildly from within.  She knocked softly on the door, and after a few minutes Alexi opened the door.  She stared at him with her mouth slightly agape.  If it was possible, he looked even more handsome than she remembered.  His hair was mussed and his worried look was replaced with a softer look of something she didn’t recognize.  He was staring at her, and she couldn’t remember what she was supposed to say.

     “Maya I don’t like him, he scares me,” she blurted instead, bursting into tears.  Maya groaned aloud in frustration, but Alexi reprimanded her quickly and yanked Nina into the room, swiftly closing the door with one hand and pulling her into a hug with the other.  He rubbed her back and made shushing noises as she cried into his white wifebeater.

     “I’m sorry Nina,” he whispered into her hair, “I know Santos is a bit rough.  Maya should’ve known better than to think that you would be a good girl for him.”

     Slowly, she stopped crying and breathed in his scent.  He smelt like axe body spray and something earthy that she couldn’t quite place.  She pulled away quickly when she heard Maya whinily mention that Aexi had errands to run.  As she walked over to his bed and sat next to her friend, he stripped off his tear soaked wife beater and replaced it with a bright red tee shirt.  She’d seen tons of boys without shirts before and never really cared, but with him it was different.  The sight of his chest made her throat close, her mouth salivate, and her stomach hurt.

     After he changed, he nodded for Maya to get up and he opened the door signaling the girls to follow him.  As they entered the living room, she felt her body tensing to run again.  Santos was calmly watching TV with the same cold look in his eyes.  Without even turning to look at any of them he said, “I don’t think your friend is a fan, Maya,” his voice was absolutely void of emotion and it chilled Nina to the core.

     “Aw Santino give the girl a break. She goes to Catholic school with me,” Maya joked in the flirty way that Nina secretly envied about her.  Santino laughed, but it was more of a sort than a laugh.

     “Right. Catholic school girl. Like you?”

     “Santino watch what you say to my girl and her friends,” Alexi warned in a tone as cold as his friend’s eyes, “Nina’s a good girl and you have no place in forcing her to be anything else,” he continued. She watched in horror as Santino twitched, then went rigid.

     After what seemed like an eternity, he relaxed and got up off the couch, “Let’s go, we gotta finish these deliveries” he said, the familiar lack of emotion returning to his voice.  Alexi relaxed his body and followed after him, she hadn’t even noticed him tense up because she’d been so afraid herself.  With a raised eyebrow, Maya motioned for them to follow the boys.

     They walked along the trail that went through the adjoining neighborhoods, girls in front of boys.  Every so often a random person would high five Alexi. It was one of those double high fives.  One up top and one underneath.  Once she turned back to watch, and noticed that on the bottom high five Alexi would suddenly have money in his palm, which he would quickly pocket.  It gave her an uneasy feeling even though she had no idea what in the world was going on. She tried to mention it to Maya, but got shrugged off.

     “Let the boys do what they haveta do. Don’t ask questions, Nina, it’ll get you in trouble.”

     As they finished the loop and started heading back toward Alexi’s house, Nina and Maya were holding hands and skipping.  Alexi ran up on them and slapped them both on the butt.  Hard.  Both girls groaned in pain and rubbed their butts.  She felt something in her back pocket, but something told her to wait until she was home to see what it was.  At Alexi’s house, he and Maya kissed goodbye.  Santino nodded a goodbye to both girls, and Alexi smiled at her.

     “See ya Nina” he said, the worried look from earlier in the day returning to his face.  The boys went into the house, and Maya grabbed her hand once again.

     “Let’s go, Nina. Your parents will be at my house soon to pick you up.”

     Back at her house, she finally got the courage to see what was in her back pocket.  It was a dollar, but on the dollar written in sharpie was:

     I just had to tell you. You are the most beautiful thing I’ve ever seen.  You should run far away from me and never look back. –Lexi