I stumble into the side of my car. The cigar lodged in my teeth threatens to fall out as my head swings as though dislodged. “Phuck,” I say. So many pockets. I can’t find my keys. I have room keys, car keys, old car keys, and old house keys, wallet, cell phone, and matches that get mixed up with car keys. Each one is pulled out of my pockets and put on the roof of my car. Trying to tell myself not to forget them is futile as I know I will and likely drive off. I find my car keys and my other keys fall out of my pocket onto the road. Getting the key into the lock isn’t as difficult as I’d expected in my current state. I’m almost impressed. The car’s so low to the ground that I have to fall into my seat. Now comes the process of lighting my cigar, the end of which broke off into my jacket pocket and scattered bits of tobacco into the tiny corners. The brightness of the interior car light forces me to look around in my car through narrowed eyes. It’s a mess. Receipts, sweaters that I took off when I realized it was warmer than I’d expected, plastic cases to electronics that I’d expected to return but forgot, and a condom - the origin of which I haven’t a clue. Probably from the previous owner of this car. “Where the phuck is my,” my elbow rebounds off the roof, “phucking lighter?” Matches. I check the pockets in the chest of my jacket, then the pockets inside my jacket, and then my pants pockets. They’re all empty. I make a sound like my father makes when he works on vehicles and something isn’t going right. When the window’s down enough, I reach out and onto the roof, grabbing all the stuff I knew I’d forget. I open the door and reach down, my face pushing into the part of the window that was still up. When I’m sure - or at least quite sure - I’ve got everything, I light my cigar; bits of burning tobacco falling onto my shirt that I smack away, grunting as they burn my hand. These cigars have become a clever ruse to anyone who wonders if I still smoke. I can tell them no, I don’t smoke cigarettes anymore. That first drag is never as good as I expect it to be. I turn on the car and drive down the street. Everything’s a little faster than it should be; all the lights a little brighter. * My first cat was named Sasha. My mother named her, and she was the runt of the litter. When she fed from her
The garage has been cleared for spring, hosed down and washed, bicycles on the front lawn flipped onto their handlebars and drying, rivers of lather down the concrete driveway and snaking through the tire treads of all the vehicles planted on its surface. The cars sit satisfied in the sunlight, waxed, shining, silver, black and red. The motorcycles lean casually on their kickstands, dusty and waiting. In July our grass will be brown, saturated and scratchy. In May the sunlight is still something it’s missed since autumn and it drinks it in accordingly, appreciative, and greener for it. The crabapple trees near the street have started to bloom. They will for two weeks, first peppered with white blossoms and then covered entirely until the leaves are lost behind them. Then they’ll fall, only some days later, all of the flowers lilting down and laying over the grass. The breeze will take them early, sometimes, so that the blossoms fall before being a part of the tree’s summer coat, and it brings them over the driveway. One flower falls while I’m watching and drifts over, circling me at the top of the driveway where the garage meets it at its open door, adjusting and polishing steel-toe boots made for an eleven-year-old’s foot.
After a second it moves to the bulging headlamps of the yellow Ferrari Dino, to the top of its smooth and earnest eyes, landing just above the wheel-well on the front left side. It lingers for another second or two. It’s taken again by the breeze, taken in by the motorcycles, surveying the group, and then it moves again, slowly, to my father at the edge of the driveway near the street, cranking the throttle of a small, white dirt bike and trying to keep it running.
The blossom catches the exhaust pushed from the tiny bike’s tail pipe and darts away, high up and over the house to the backyard.
I blink, watching my father waving and telling me to come over while he’s got it running. My gaze shifts back to the boots, never used, my hand still running a cloth over their surface again and again, finding spots on a pair of boots that’d never seen dirt.
“The boots are fine, Alex! Let’s give this a try.” He said.
It was a Christmas present. I’d wanted it. I’d asked for it. And now I have it. At the back of the garage it’d looked almost meek, shy and reserved behind all those bicycles propped up against it. Sitting there it looked tame, friendly, like it might bring us both somewhere interesting. But it’s something frightening, I realize, unused for too long. An anxious child. I sympathize.
[This piece is a PERFECT example of what editors call the 'Purple Patch Trap'. A writer works so meticulously on every single word in a piece and falls too in love with everything to cut anything. I wrote this in high school, spending hours on the amount of syllables in a sentence, the number of sentences in a paragraph, the number of adjectives etc. Basically, it's a really thick piece for being so short, and always serves as a great reminder to me that writing doesn't always have to be so forced.] The sun chokes the moisture from my throat. Humidity squeezes on all sides. The golden brown reeds are still, but bending under the weight of their pallid bulrush heads. They stand like sullen men with hanging heads. My body is like a damp cloth being wrung dry by strong, tight hands. The humid air wraps me in its massive fingers and clenches me in a fist. My skin is drawn tight; scalded by the sun. The air is hot and thick in my throat; my mouth a stew; my tongue the meat on a grill. I walk among the reeds with hands in pockets and eyes watching my feet make each step forward upon the yellowed grass. My feet kick up small clouds of dust and dirt. It settles on my skin and makes my feet feel like sandpaper scrubbing in my sandals. My toes are dry, the nails cracked and splintered, the skin around dead and hanging. The field beyond is walled off by dark brown, almost black wooden fencing. The planks are split and fractured like a desert floor. Some have swung loose from their rigging; others are fortified by rusted steel and nails. Inside graze scrawny, skeletal cows with heads down and mouths chomping; the grass crunches like sticks between the cows’ teeth. In the center of the field is a tall tree, beside it a cow. It stands forlorn in the shade, its head hung, looking bored and heaving air in and out. A man is walking up the field toward the tree. His shoulders are square and broad with a brick of a head sitting atop them. His nose is sharp, pointed, and curled up a bit, like a rat’s nose. Short hair scruffs his neck and jaw, dense and black. Bushy eyebrows keep the sweat from his forehead away from his eyes. A bald head returns the sunlight with a vengeance, at the cost of its own skin puffing and red. Swinging at his side, wrapped in a huge fist is a massive axe. It is heavy and unbalanced in his hand. One side is blunt, weighted, and flat like that of a sledgehammer. The other side is shaped like a half-moon, chipped with wear, but sharp like a serrated knife. He walks toward the tree, goes beside it and begins immediately. His face is relaxed as he lifts the axe into the air, then he sees me, standing there like a forlorn child. He stumbles back and the axe drops to the ground, haft in his hand, blade in the earth. He looks at the cow, the tree, then me - I’m standing in his field; I’m p
It turned out Boston was not as happy as we that the ships had landed on its shores. As we marched through the cobblestone streets up the hills and through the town, the people come out and stare. At first I am filled with a bit of pride as I beat away on my drum next to Matty and in front of Alex, Nicholas, Chris and Michael. In front of us rides Captain Laurie, who acquired a horse the moment he stepped off the dock, while Lieutenant Hull and his sergeants had to walk next to their squads. The inhabitants of Boston did stare, but I soon realized it was not in awe, it was in hatred. We marched through their lines, through their angry calls of “you're not wanted here!” and “go back where you came from bloody Lobster-backs!”. All the way to the town hall, where the 43rd was assembling as one regiment. There the men were receiving their billeting, homes they would be staying in for the duration set down by the army. And the people of Boston could say nothing against it. It still being under British rule and all. No wonder they hated us. I suddenly felt very self-conscious and walked stiffly in the line. Matty tucked his drum sticks into their slot on his cross-belt and I did the same. Captain Laurie dismounted and called Lieutenant Hull over to him. Us being close to the front, we could hear them converse.“Hull, you get the men lined up for billeting.” said the captain.“Yes, Sir, and where shall I find you, should I need you, Sir?” asked the good Lieutenant, I already had more faith in the younger officer than the Captain. “I'm off to join the Colonel at Major Spendlove's home to discuss the situation.” He said briskly and marched off. “Alright, gentlemen, get in line for your quartering assignments.” Said the slightly miffed Lieutenant, and we joined the line behind the last company. Six men were put together in a house and it just so happened that Michael, Chris, Alex, Nicholas, Matty and I all came to the same group. How lucky! Well, maybe not the part with Nicholas, but hey, at least we had our flag-bearers to protect us.“you boys will be staying with the local Silversmith. Here's his address.” said the man behind the desk, obviously incredibly bored. Michael took the paper and nodded to him.We turned from the table and headed down the street again. My legs were still recovering from the sea voyage and going downhill was harder than going up. Matty seemed to have the same trouble and stumbled once or twice, but by the time we reached the north square area we had recovered some. “Right, lads, we're looking for house number nineteen,” said Chris, who had taken the paper away from Michael. “so it should be right around-”“There?” I said; pointing to a neat, three storey house not twenty feet in front of us. Above the door was a sign that had a silver cup and cutlery painted on with the word 'Silversmith' underneath. Chris nodded and gave me a smack on the shoulder. “I'll take care o' this.” Nicholas marched up to the house and banged on the door. There was a pause as we st
You know how people have out-of-body experiences? I'm having one right now. Myself is sitting on the couch in the back of the coffee shop. I, right next to me. I look at myself and I see right through the wall that i built so long ao. Dad told me never to cry, never to show weakness. But, I did, and I do. I'm not afraid to say that I cry. A lot. In front of others? No way. I look back into my life and see my pain. I hate being this way. I hate those scars and I hate how I've let you people get under my skin. There was a time where I saw myself as a person. Now? I see a painting. Splattered paint and strangled emotions. Certainly not a Picasso or a Michelangelo, but something of some value.
I don't know exactly what value, but something, I mean I've got to be worth something, right?
Give me a minute here.
To the kids in school; I know that I'm different and, in your words, weird. Please, don't give me crap about it. It's how I get over stuff.
To the kids on the bus; Don't start with me, please. My best friend just killed himself.
To the freshman; I know your backpacks are heavy, but don't let that affect you. You are the next generation. No prenny-throwing, senior will change that.
And to my so-called "father;" I have nothing to say to you.
To myself; Hi, there. Do me a favor? Would you just live? Forget the kids, forget your...dad, forget all of the abuse and tears. Just live.
Some call it "love." Some call it a fallacy. Some call it "karma." Some call it a mess. I call it life. It is a mess and it most definitely is a fallacy, but in reality, it is all that we have. It's the only inkling of hope that we hold.
You and I, we have something in common. We're both lost; not lost like a puppy, lost like a soul. We're holding on for dear life, and if we let go...
I'm still sitting in the back of the coffee shop with myself. I'm trying to make sense of this all.
Stop, stop making sense of it. Breathe in a out. Slowly. Live.
and you, you're a magnetism;
tether-taut, heartstrings complected in a
coupling of locution, though obscured,
a saccharine guarantee
and I, I'm a zephyr;
wafting on your subtle exhalation
twined with words writ of softened breath,
of auditory emotion undulated
that stirs a flutter long inanimate.
just a lid, slow-motion shut
screams of contentment, of don't-stop-the-texture,
of fingertip elicitation
and I'm-your-translator skin
and we, we're twixt like vines;
our lips, exploratory, saltate forth & fro
ebbing as a tide, nudging in & out like curiosity.
a snag of brevity made a series,
once interlocked & mortise-made
renders the senses electric
& our lungs, our nerves,
our neck-hairs & fingertips
Whether you use the XRIVO.com workshop function to revise and get feedback privately or share with the entire community, you’re taking a very necessary, though terrifying step in the creative process. The XRIVO feedback process is modeled off those workshop courses to give you the ability to thoroughly respond to work. Now, through XRIVO, you can get and give line-by-line feedback on any piece. All you have to do is highlight what you’d like to comment on and type away in the “Comment” box. As the author, you can filter what feedback shows up by user to make the comments easier to peruse. All you have to do is run your mouse over the comment to see what they’re commenting on.
But there’s more to getting the most out of sharing your work than just detailed revisions and discerning readers. Sharing your writing can be daunting, yes, but here are some things to keep in mind to help everyone get everything they can out of XRIVO.com. Here’s a simple guide: 4 keys to giving and 4 keys to getting feedback on your written work.
This piece is a collaboration between myself and the XRIVO Writing Interns. Each of them were given the same introductory paragraphs and told to creatively interpret them. They could do whatever they wanted, whether it was to completely rewrite the paragraphs or simply continue with the story. Each of them have a different focus when it comes to writing - from poetry to journalism - and they interpreted the initial paragraphs with that skill-set in mind. The result is a rather fun collaboration of the different directions a single story can take when multiple perspectives are brought in.
this piece is a poetic collaboration between brett & I. we decided to write something free-form, alternating authors every two or three lines.
[more elaborate introduction forthcoming]