Thursday, September 1, 2011

Tricho - what?

She sat perched, curled around herself talking casually with friends.  To them, the conversation went on and on, no mind to her and what her hands were subconsciously doing.  It was like an itch to her, it was an itch to all of us with it, but most people never see it or notice it – until we have a gaping hole.

But I saw.  I watched her hands flitter around her hair with ease, twirling hair as normal girls would, until her fingertips rested with one strand caught between them.  She’d wrestle the strand away with such fluidity that no one ever questioned it – she was just playing with her hair, no harm there, that’s what girls do when they are trying to be cute.  Finally, her fingers had the single strand by its lonesome, soon to be viciously ripped from the follicle that nested it.  But before she detached it, she looked at it, she always had to look at it, to see it attached to her, feel the slight tug against her scalp.  And then with a small twist of skilled hands, it tore from it’s safe place and fluttered down, dead, to the dark wooden floor below.  All the while, the conversation continued, in their eyes, nothing unusual had happened.

My eyes rested on her for a moment before saying, “Trichotillomania?”  She jolted upright, the entire conversation stopped.

“What?!”  Someone else said, never having heard the term before.  She breathed heavily, nostrils flared as if I had just thrown her out in front of a bus.  If there’s one thing that people like us hate, it’s being called out on our problem.

I shook my head, “Don’t worry, I have it to.”  Her eyes softened – she wasn’t amongst some crazy psychology major or a girl that wanted to point out her flaws, she was with a sympathizer, a woman that understood exactly what she was going through – the itch.  Everyone stared at us, still feeling out of place because, really, what the hell is trichotillomania?  You don’t usually know about it unless your best friend has it, or worse, you have it.

“I’ve been trying to get better at it.”

I laughed, “I wouldn’t worry if I were you – I mean, I almost had no eyelashes when I was in college.  Test taking was the worst for me, I’d lose like five of them within a few minutes.”  She smiled too, she couldn’t help it – there wasn’t anything about this disorder that was entirely fixable.  You just have to think about it more.  But here’s the thing, when you think abut trichotillomania, you want to pull.  You feel the base of your eyelashes itching, and you say to yourself, “I won’t pull, I’m just itching.”  And the light scratching movement of your fingernails becomes a twisting motion on the eyelashes themselves, and you tell yourself that you are just itching, not pulling.  And you twist until you have at least one eyelash on your fingertip, one dark strand sitting there.

This is how I know I can call bullshit whenever anyone says to me, “You know when you lose eyelashes, they never grow back.”

I'm going on a minor vacation this weekend.  I still plan on writing every day and backlogging the entries.  I'll be in the woods - and hopefully will get inspired for some creepy, horror tales... or maybe some more sci-fi, or zombies, or maybe just your regular old fictionalized dramatic conversation.

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Today, I am a...

Let’s play a game.  The inner monologue begins at the start of the day, something to end the endless tasks ahead.  So let’s play a game.  Data entry is no longer just data, no, it’s now a secret code to a safe that contains a bomb.  If I get it wrong, the bomb explodes, if I get it right, then I move onto the next secret code.  I listen, watch the numbers, convincing myself that they could change at any time.  I actually get the slightest big nervous as my fingers stroke the wrong key.  “Shoot!  Game over!”  Oh wait, I’m not actually part of a bomb squad… okay, backspace, enter the number “4” correctly this time.

Entering names and updating lists is really just me doing my job – my job of updating the most wanted list.  And oh!  There goes the guy on the street down below my office window.  Quick, someone run and grab him, tackle him!  He’s the most wanted… erm… CEO of a major corporation who has done nothing wrong.  Right, never mind, I’m not some cop searching for the predators of our streets. 

When I enter our galley kitchenette, I’m really going into a giant pantry, with millions of possibilities of things to cook.  I’m a gourmet chef, serving something amazing from our miraculous, deep cabinetry.  I open one cabinet, open another, open another, step back and wonder – what can I make today?  What delicious meal can I serve myself?  I close all the cabinets because they are full of bitter, high fiber, low calorie food and snag some pretzels out of the giant, plastic bin.  Munch, munch, yes, this is my gourmet lunch.

When I take my plant to water it, I’m really in a lush garden with green vines growing so high up the sides of the fence that you cannot even see any connection to the outside world.  This fern is a gateway to a land of butterflies, squirrels, and endless rows of flowers and fresh vegetables.  I dig my fingers into the dirt, get the warm earth underneath my fingernails and play with the grains on my skin.

Let’s play a game – where imagination can take you everywhere you want to be and no where that you are.  The sun is setting somewhere, over a lakefront, with someone lazing in a boat, a line dipping into the water with no intention on catching any fish.  This is me, it’s my boat, and my lake, and my house is a short paddle away.  I bask in the last of the sunlight for the day and breathe the fresh air deeply into my lungs.  This is my life. 

The clock ticks lazily over to 4:45pm and I gather my things out of the receptionist area, walk out the front door, jump onto my scooter and rocket myself in between cars – getting home as fast as I can.  Right now, I’m a motocross driver, and I’m winning the race.

What are you today?  Because today, I'm really an uninspired receptionist, with a new, dashingly good haircut.  And I feel pretty good.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

The Bait

It was walking towards me, slow staggering and jittery, just like the rest of them.  Clothes barely still on its body, blood dripping from all parts of its face.  This one had been in a few fights, with parts of its flesh ripped to the bone.  It was limping, but most of them do that as they lose more muscular mass.  It wasn’t long for the virus to eat away at its victim, but it also only took one piece of blood for it to be spread.  You never wanted to be near one of them when you killed them – any molecule that found its way into your nasal cavity, and that was it.  It was masks on at all times in close range – it was masks on most of the time.  Luckily, it never was really airborne, it was just the spray, the spray of blood at close range.

I was the bait, which I didn’t really mind any more.  I wasn’t a good shot, but that was the whole point of this.  It was practice, a just in case things got worse, which they always did after a time.  So I waited at a distance, watching the creature, looking out for others that might be lurking, and I sat.  I listened, I felt the earth for any vibrations, and most of all I just allowed the wind to do what it did best – carry my scent.
You could always tell once they figured out you were there.  Something in their eyes changed, it went from dead to desire.  But that was it, that was the only thing we saw from these creatures.  They were dead, and then they wanted nothing more than to eat.  That’s why none of us felt bad.  It was us or them, and frankly, I wasn’t going to die.  It’s nostrils flared, as much as a rotting corpse can flair, and it sulked towards me.  They couldn’t really do more than that, but when there was a lot of them, it made it hard to get away – they could surround you, slowly, if you weren’t paying attention.

I let it pull its legs a few more feet towards me, the right one jittering a little too much for it to stand up straight.  Its arms stretched out, watching me with an unknowing stare.  It was just like all the rest, hungry.  I started walking back towards the campsite, up the hill, into the setting sun.  It was hard to believe that the world had changed so much when you looked at the sky – it all looked the same, as if nothing ever happened.  The world really does go on with or without you.

I checked behind me and it was still walking towards me, but slower, its eyes lowering losing the smell of me.  Everyone thought that they could smell really well, but really they just wandered until they were within range to smell you.  That’s what was so dangerous, they didn’t have a migratory path or a reason for where they went.  They traveled at random, roamed the hills, the cities, until they either died or found someone to eat.  But they all died eventually.

Scrambling up the hill, I caught sight of my dad.  I nodded at him and he gave me a nod back, that meant I had gotten it into range.  Now, it was target practice.

I moved up to the tower we had made from old car parts and sandbags, it wasn’t anything glorious but it gave us a good viewpoint of the bottom of the hill – where the highway used to be, now just a dead lot of cars.  He moved aside and let me take the rifle from his hands, I looked through the viewfinder.  Sure enough, it was in range alright.

“Now remember the kickback, be prepared, we don’t want you falling again.”  My father braced himself behind me, just in case.

I watched it for a moment, waiting for the right time to get it directly in the head.  Without shooting the brain, you were likely to leave it alive, a bear trap of sorts for any unknowing survivor.  I saw it search the hillside one last time before moving back the way it came.  It moved down the hill, then back up, then to the side.  The sunlight caught something on its face, something I had never seen before.

“Dad?”  He grunted in response.  “I think it’s crying.”  Wetness had swept across the creature’s face, nothing like this had ever happened before.

He snatched the rifle out of my hands and looked for himself.  Without a moment’s pause there was a silenced pop of the rifle and I saw the body crumble to the ground, its head splitting open, spilling its pink, red, virus covered brain onto the pavement.

“Those are no tears, none that you and I ever feel.  Get it right next time.”  My father shoved the rifle back into my hands and jumped down off the tower.  He marched away towards camp.  I looked through the viewfinder one more time at the creature, its eyes open staring distantly away.  I know there was no room for error in a world like this – but what if we had it all wrong?

Monday, August 29, 2011

The Hunt

The smell…  here?  Is it here?  No… Where?  Smell it.  Breathe.  Grunt, move forward.  Legs stiff, arms jittery.  Was it like this… always?  Smell, right.  Go right.  Right foot.  Left foot.  Go, move, smell it.  Breathe.  The twitching came first.  Eyes rolling, all fuzzy.  Then, just the smell, overwhelming, powerful.  Must follow.  Must find.  Must eat.

Don’t remember before smell.  Before hunger.  Only dark.  Some shadows, blurry faces.  Some thoughts.  Remember feelings, but don’t.  Where they go?  The smell.  Overpowers else.  Right foot, left foot.  Don’t remember walking.  Hard, everything sticks.  Cells broken, unsent messages.  Right foot, left foot.  Follow smell.  Ahead, further, hungry.  Push, thud, drag, push.  Ahead.  See?  Eyes fuzzy.  Arms raise.  Right foot, left foot.  Smell, food, hunger, hungry.  Need, want.  Desire.  Eyes focus.  Smell.  Silhouette.  Walking food.  No, running food.  Smell fainter.  Food running.  Eyes unfocus.  Cannot see.  Smell goes.  Hunger.

Sigh, if can.  Unsure.  One feeling, no, two feelings.  Hunger, emptiness.  Almost like, remember, sorrow.  Disappointment.  Remember, one moment, confusion, lost.  Realize change.  Realize hunger.  Hunger for people, walk for hunger, live for hunger.  Remember bite, biting, ripping.  Remember family.  Eyes blurrier.  Wet face, hot face.  Smell, my smell.  My smell spilling out.  Fading, blackness.  My smell on pavement, shattered, broken, like one memory.

This is dedicated to my sister - she gave me the idea, sort of.  Anyway, she told me to write about the zombie Apocalypse, and I feel like that's overdone... and that I probably couldn't write it as well as I would want to - either that or I would find my inner Palahniuk and write so graphically that I make people vomit.  You know, either way.  Tomorrow I'll be posting from the other perspective, of the "running food."

Sunday, August 28, 2011

The Empty Page

Dazing, empty page,
Empty words, thoughtless phrases,
Pushing, rotating, drifting,
The heat of worry,
Shoved forward - what if
These are no good - what if
They do not convey
All rushing thoughts
My dreams portrayed
With all to bear,
And we move - what if
They do not say - what if
This is needed
End of the day
Dusky clouds, floating
Thoughts, roaming dreams
Curling the muse up,
How it ought to be,
This is me,
Dazing, empty pages.