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Cracked Crystal

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Once upon a time, a boy met a girl he wanted to give his heart to. He was afraid to tell her this because he was afraid she’d break it. You see, he had only given his heart away once before, only to have it returned in a million shattered pieces. He promised himself he’d be more careful this time.

The boy knew the girl was the one who deserved his heart. The boy knew the girl was the one who would take care of his heart like no one else could. But, the boy’s fear wouldn’t let him take the risk.

The girl wanted to give the boy her heart but she was also afraid. Maybe even more afraid than he was. The girl knew the boy was the one who deserved her heart. The girl knew the boy was the one who could take care of her heart like no one else could. But, the girl’s fear wouldn’t let her take the risk.

One day, the boy gave the girl a beautiful piece of crystal, clear, in the shape of a crescent moon. He told her to always carry it with her. The boy gave the girl a red velvet pouch to keep it in. The girl was always careful with the crystal. She often took it out to admire its simple beauty. She loved how the light reflected on the crystal, making tiny little rainbows in the sunlight.

One day, when the girl reached into the red velvet pouch to take out the crystal, she realized something was wrong. She heard something she never heard before. The girl got that feeling in the pit of her stomach, like she had been punched. Her eyes filled with tears. The two pieces of the broken crystal clanked together inside the pouch. She was afraid to put her hand inside, afraid to touch the cracked crystal. But, she knew she had to. She pulled out the pieces and realized the crystal moon had broken exactly in half. Just one crack. A clean break.

The girl had the crystal moon for so long she never expected it to break. Or at least not so suddenly, not without warning or a sign or something. The girl thought she would have the crystal moon forever. She turned the pieces over and over in her hands, trying to figure out how it broke. And, she couldn’t. This made the girl very sad. She wondered if the crystal could be repaired. She pressed both halves together, admiring it as it once was. She knew even if it could be fixed, because it was clear, the crack would always be visible. Just one crack. A clean break.

The girl put the two pieces back in the red velvet pouch. She still carries them around but she never takes them out. It’s too sad to see it not whole. Sometimes, the clanking of the pieces in the pouch comforts her, sometimes it makes her sad and sometimes she ignores it. It’s been some time since the girl has talked to the boy. The boy doesn’t know about the break. The girl wants to tell him but she can’t find the words. The girl promised the boy she would always keep the crystal moon safe. She doesn’t know what happened. She wishes she did.

But, it’s crystal, it’s delicate, easy to break. Now, it’s two pieces that used to be one. Two pieces of crystal clanking around in a red velvet pouch. Just one crack. A clean break.

The Best Wizard

Sometimes, when I’m sleeping, I can hear your steady purr against my head.

Sometimes, when I’m sleeping, I feel your little body pressing into my legs.

Sometimes, when I’m sleeping, I dream I am holding you and you’re purring.

But, when I’m awake it’s silent.
Empty.
No purrs, no meows, no little feet walking across the floor.

My heart is shattered into a million little pieces.
My tears flow endlessly.
Everything hurts.

Rest peacefully, my sweet Merlyn.
Your magic will live forever in my soul.

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Foreshadowing

It started this summer.

A dream. Recurring, as they say.

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Three, four, maybe five times that I remember but it’s probably more.

I’m walking with you on a boardwalk. It’s hard to see. There is sand everywhere. There is fog. The ocean rages somewhere in the distance. The air is thick with the smell of the sea.

Nothing looks familiar yet everything looks familiar.

I am scared. I am confused.

I can’t find my way. You ask me which way to go. I am lost. I start to cry. You take my hand.

You say, “You’ve been coming here your whole life — how can you be lost?” You say that to me so clearly every time. And, we just keep walking. You hold my hand tighter but we never find our way. I wake up confused.

Now that the fateful October Monday night has passed, I see pictures. So many pictures. I stare at them, sometimes for hours. It’s just like the dreams except you’re not here to hold my hand. You’re not here asking me the question. But I keep staring at the pictures of the place I knew. I am confused. I can’t figure it out. I start to cry. I wish you could squeeze my hand. I am lost.

Nothing looks familiar yet everything looks familiar.

I am confused.
I am lost.
It can’t be real.

It was only supposed to be a dream.

Empty Spaces

Sometimes, she sees the empty spaces. The empty space in her room where the bassinet should be, the empty space in her car where the car seat should be, the empty space in her closet where the clothes should be.

Sometimes, she feels the empty spaces. The empty space in her heart where the love should be, the empty space in her brain where the worrying and wanting what’s best should be, the empty space in her hand where a smaller hand should be holding hers.

Sometimes, she wonders how she could need someone she never met. A smaller version of herself, perhaps. Maybe her name is Maeve. Or maybe it’s Emily or Claire or Faith. Maybe she wears glasses and started reading at three years old like her mother. Maybe she’s shy at school. Or, maybe she isn’t a she at all. Maybe his name is Paul. Or maybe it’s Max or Jake or Henry. Maybe he’s afraid of what everyone thinks of him. Maybe he is afraid of the truth. But she knows beyond all the maybes she loves him or her, even though they’ve never met.

She knows they don’t have a lot of time to meet — less than a year, perhaps. This makes her cry sometimes. This makes her afraid sometimes. This makes her heart hurt all the time.

She closes her eyes and yet she still sees the empty spaces, she closes her heart and yet she still feels the empty spaces. She wonders if they will ever be filled.

She closes her eyes again and dreams. She dreams of that little hand in hers, of eyes looking up at her and saying “I love you, Mommy.”

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3AM. The witching hour. The hour of the wolf. It has many names. It’s the hour she is always awake, no matter what time she falls asleep.

The witching hour brings her a jack-in-the-box. A jack-in-the-box with weird music and a creepy clown guy who pops up and yells questions out to her. Even if she had been in a deep slumber only minutes before.

Questions that mock her.

Questions she doesn’t want to answer.

Questions she can’t answer.

Questions about realities she can’t face.

The jack-in-the-box goes faster and the music gets louder and the creepy clown is relentless. His mocking mouth becomes a sneering, sinister smile as he watches her face turn from peaceful rest to terror.

Open.
Question.
Close.
Open.
Question.
Close.
Open.
Question.
Close.

She shuts her eyes tight so she can’t see it. But she still hears it. Its crank turning, the music, the sound when it pops up. It won’t let her ignore it. It won’t stop until she answers.

Then, at 4AM, peace comes. The jack-in-the-box is silenced by the clock announcing the end of the witching hour.

Until tomorrow.

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At night, she always heard him sobbing. On the other side of the wall. Soft, rhythmic sobbing like some sort of bizarre lullaby. On the other side of the wall.

She wondered if he knew she heard him. On the other side of the wall. When they were together, his smile brightened her heart’s darkest place, his blue eyes punctured her soul’s strongest spot. But when they weren’t together, there was only his sobbing. On the other side of the wall.

Every time she saw him, she wanted to tell him she knew how he felt. On the other side of the wall. She wanted to scream it to him in her loudest voice. She wanted him to know she understood what happened. On the other side of the wall. She wanted to hold him tighter than a child clutching a bright red balloon he got at the zoo. She wanted to hold him and hold him and hold him and never let go.

But, she wasn’t brave enough. She was afraid he would run away if he knew that she knew his secret. On the other side of the wall.

So, instead she just let his cries sing her to sleep. Every night. On the other side of the wall.

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Finding Peace

A few days ago, a very close friend of mine died.  And, I’m having trouble saying her name and dead in the same sentence.

She was 45, my good friend since high school.  She died of unexpected complications from a surgery that shouldn’t have been so complicated.  I blogged about spending the day with her sons a few years back in a post called The Pirate Queen.  It breaks my heart that her beautiful children will grow up without their mother.  And, I can’t even begin to imagine the life her husband will have trying to be strong for his kids.

I went to visit her in the hospital after I got the call saying she was in a “vegetative state”.  I didn’t know what this meant, exactly and I’m still not sure I do.  They tell me it means that only her brain stem was active so any movement was just reflex.  But, when I saw her, she opened her eyes, she seemed to look right at me.  When I talked to her — even though she couldn’t respond — in my heart I felt like she KNEW I was there.  And, maybe that’s the way our mind tricks us into dealing with the impossible.  By providing some crazy rationalization that makes it seem not so bad.

I’ve known my friend since I was a freshman in high school.  We were 13 when we met.  We grew up together — we shared our crushes and broken hearts, a bad senior prom and many other high school memories.  I was her “ghost writer” in high school.  Whenever she had to write papers or essays, she would tell me what she wanted to say and I would write it for her.  She was always amazed at how effortlessly I could write.

We went to different colleges and had boyfriends but we always stayed in touch.  I was in her bridal party.  Of course, we grew apart as high school friends can.  But, we tried to see each other regularly.  Our lives took different paths — she became a stay at home mom and I pursued my artistic endeavors.  While we weren’t always successful at getting together, I always knew she’d be there for me.  Even if we hadn’t seen each other in months or years, we could easily pick up where we left off.

She was so proud to know I had become a writer.  She was probably my first writing fan.  The first time she came to one of my plays, she said she sat there the whole time thinking “I can’t believe Helene WROTE this.”  It made me cry.  I’ve been crying off an on for a few days now, realizing that she’s gone.  That she won’t be there anymore.

I’ve experienced the gamut of emotions over the past two weeks — from anger to denial to depression.  I’m struggling to find acceptance and peace.  I keep trying to be strong and distract myself but I can’t stop thinking about her.  I can’t stop thinking about what my last conversation with her was about and why I didn’t talk to her before she went into the hospital.  I’ve spent more hours at the gym than I have in months (which probably isn’t a bad thing) but some days I forget to eat (which is a bad thing).  I cry a lot.  I stay up with insomnia a lot (well, more than usual).

Two nights ago, I dreamt of her.  I was at a party and she was there, alive and full of life in a bright green sweater with a smile everyone knew her for.  She said “If you’re listening to this, it means I didn’t make it…”

And, then I woke up.  Crying.

I have to go the wake and the funeral over the next few days and I’m dreading it.  I don’t know if I’m strong enough to say good-bye.  I don’t know if I’m strong enough to find peace.

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