Archive | December, 2016

Time Stood Still

31 Dec

 d48348ca6cddeeef5803ac11c0b46dc0They say the way to stop time is kissing. She stood under the shower, warm water streaming down her face, and she imagined their wedding. A Hollywood themed wedding, with R.S.V.P. cards that looked like theater tickets, guests arriving on a red carpet and metal film reels for centerpieces. He loved movies, she thought.

She tried his last name on. Could work. 

No, maybe not.

Of course, there would be no wedding. She had no interest in getting married again. But she imagined it, just because. Because she’s a woman. She did this with everyone she dated; tried on their last name. She just did.

Not with the redhead. There wouldn’t be any wedding, real or imagined. Because he was already married. She knew she should feel bad about dating a man who was committed, but she didn’t. She just didn’t.

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She’d known him fifteen years. He was barely twenty-one years old when he arrived from a small farm town in another country. They sat across from each other on the frigid concrete floor in a dim locker room in snowy Pennsylvania, and he averted his eyes, polite, but intimidated. They faced each other around the ring, meeting the first time as fighters, and later as lovers.

He remembered what she’d worn that night. 

She walked through the entrance and the host pointed to his table without asking who she was meeting. He embraced and kissed her, then she slid into a seat, once again sitting across from him. Now he was a man, with the confidence of someone who had been through the rigors of life and ended up on top.

She studied his face, which was no longer familiar. He looked like the professional athlete and fighter he’d become. His thick, muscular physique was covered in tattoos and his nose looked like it had been broken more than once. His unruly auburn hair was shaved into a punk style and he was attractive in an unconventional way. He looked like he stepped off the set of Vikings. They had common views and values, yet he knew little about her. None of the deep stuff. None of the illness. None of the things she struggled with. And that was fine. He was a fun distraction. It was genuinely light. After the heavy mess she’d gone through the year before, something sweet was welcome. 

She rarely connected with people, but something felt right about him and she didn’t know what it was. They were cut from the same cloth – that’s how the host knew. He was familiar. They knew all the same people, they traveled all the same paths. He felt a little like home. 

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He made her feel things she hadn’t felt in a long time. Elated, euphoric. When he texted, which was frequently, she smiled. He was there as much as the other wasn’t. He was warm, sensual and animalistic. It wasn’t mental with him, it was physical.

She wanted to rip his clothes off and bite him, feel him pressed against her. He told her his dreams of her, how he couldn’t wait to see her in a few days, he wished he could fast forward. 

She had never been attracted to vapid or stupid, no matter how pretty a package it was wrapped in.  He was bright, not afraid to say exactly what was on his mind or ask for what he wanted. They never ran out of things to talk about, but there were no profoundly deep conversations. An avid reader, he asked about her writing, which fascinated him. He didn’t probe for more about her life, and she was grateful. He texted to say he was thinking of her, morning, noon and night.

She liked him.

I’m into you, he said. I like being with you, around you. You’re easy to talk to. I want this to keep going…if you’re OK with it. I knew we’d be right. I haven’t been wrong yet.

And they were, but in a different way than she was right with the other. She wondered if the redhead was like her, crazy. Game recognizes game. He laughed when she suggested it. She appreciated crazy. She appreciated redheads. She appreciated tattoos. She appreciated kissing.

Anticipation. Waiting to do things they weren’t supposed to be doing. It was utterly intoxicating. He brought out the best in her. He brought out the worst in her. He brought out her, the person she knew for a lifetime, before the bipolar diagnosis and stabilizing medications.

He will never be mine, nor me his. It’s fleeting. Safe. I know exactly where I stand with him. He was honest; never afraid to say how he felt, never holding back. They agreed to that from the start, brutal honesty. He traveled distance to be with her, driving several hours after a day rife with flights, appearances and filming.

It was temporary. Dangerous. Was it the illicit element? Living in the moment?

When he stopped on the street lit sidewalk on that first chilly night and pulled her into him, people stepped around them or stared as he wrapped his hands in her hair, his lips on hers, and neither of them cared. 

Maybe eight minutes passed. Maybe thirty. He pressed her against the brick building, and with his hand still wrapped in her hair, he pulled her head back and his full lips were on her jaw bone, down her neck…he came back up, parted her lips with his, and bit one, holding it gently with his teeth. His blue eyes crinkled at the corners as he grinned devilishly down at her. It was an audition. An invitation. He never once touched her anywhere else.  He didn’t have to. This is what I can do for you…if you let me. The glow of the street lamps glinted off his dark ginger beard as they sized each other up.  He brought her hand to his warm lips and kissed it softly, then tucked her arm under his for the remainder of the stroll. He wasn’t wearing his wedding ring. It wouldn’t have mattered if he was. She already knew the answer, and so did he.

Time stood still.

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She rarely felt the child-like excitement about things she used to when she was off her medications. No matter how much effort she put into Christmas, vacations, food, it wasn’t there. It bothered her. She was so goddamn sane and rational. Here was a deadly taste of that hypomania she missed so much…that drug…her drug of choice.

The drug, that ever pervasive drug, from which she managed for so long to stay clean. 

There it was, seeping its way into her life again.

A Cross to Bear

13 Dec

April Hunter is currently a student at Full Sail University for her degree in Creative Writing for Entertainment and a comic book character. She is a former professional wrestler and model.

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The GTO came to life with a roar and idled as Nick sat, unmoving. The loud rumbling comforted him. He pulled the cross out of a box that sat on the seat next to him. Its silver chain draped through his fingers and felt cool, its platinum catching the sunlight and creating dappled patterns on the dark interior. He traced his finger along the inscription that read, For God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control. -Timothy 1:7

The crucifix looked too bulky for the rear-view, but he draped it over the mirror and watched it dance with the vibrating engine. His mother had kept it on the post of her bed, religiously kneeling before it every evening. The entire situation brought out feelings he didn’t have a label for. Regret? Remorse? They’re often confused as one in the same, but they’re not. He pulled away from the house, slammed the clutch from first gear to second and ripped around a corner to the tune of screeching tires and scent of burnt rubber.

Regret is when you did something you wish you hadn’t. Remorse is when you didn’t do something you wish you had. He’d hastily purchased the flight after putting it off until he was six hours and a lifetime late, which had earned him a middle seat in the back of the plane and a missed connection. By the time he got home, Mom had passed. Remorse.

Maybe she’d played down just how bad it really was. Maybe he’d chosen his career over his mother. Or maybe he just couldn’t stand the thought of seeing her in such a deteriorated state; his treasured memories marred by sunken cheeks, bald patches and shaky hands. After Mom had gotten sick, she’d asked him to come home so many times, and Nick told her his work was too hectic at the moment. Every time he lied to her, saying he’d be home as soon as it slowed down, he felt the gutting ache in the pit of his stomach growing stronger. Regret.

The evening wake had passed in a blur. A smoky pub, his friends and endless cheers for his dead Mom. “To Mrs. Kelly…Brenda…for her ridiculously fantastic brownies and for never ratting us out for smokin’ a dube behind your garage. Salut!”

His father had treasured that classic car even though he kidded about it.

“You know what GTO stands for? Gas, tools and oil.” When he died from a heart attack, Mom kept it partly out of nostalgia and hid the keys from Nick partly because she worried.

“You’re too reckless. I don’t want to get a phone call in the middle of the night,” she said.

“That’s how you drive a car like that, Mom. You have to go balls out. It’s not meant for the speed limit,” Nick said.

“That is exactly why you’re not getting it until you’re more mature,” she’d said. “I’m your mother. It’s my job to protect you, which includes keeping you safe from yourself. You can’t escape me. I’ve got eyes in the back of my head. I’ll always be looking out for you.”

“Jeez, Ma. I’m not a baby anymore.”

“Sorry, kiddo. You’re always gonna be my baby.” She leaned over and kissed him on the forehead and he squirmed, pretending to push her away while laughing.

She left it for him when she died. Dad’s car, Mom’s cross. Nick had never felt more alone. There was no one else. It had always been just the three of them. The house was going to be sold. They say that the one thing that never changes in life is that you can always go home, but what if there’s no home to go to? Who is going to take care of me now? 

Nick pressed the pedal of the GTO to the floor. The deep rumble soothed him on the dark, empty, country road. Miles flew by with nothing but woods and the narrow beams of the car’s headlights on blackened asphalt. Nick caught a glint of something. What is that? Nick slowed, but it was too late. A giant buck stood stock-still in the middle of the one-lane road. Jerking the wheel, Nick swerved hard and lost control.

The cold, dark water started to fill the GTO, creeping up to his ankles. He couldn’t get the car door to open. Gritting his teeth, Nick pushed his shoulder into the door, shoving hard, but it wouldn’t budge. The water had created too much pressure. The power windows, state of the art for the car’s era, shorted out along with the rest of the electrical system leaving him in complete darkness. Water was creeping up to his belt buckle, moving upward rapidly. Nick turned sideways and tried to push the door open with his legs. When that didn’t work, he tried kicking the frame. The door bent slightly, and more water rushed in.

“Oh, God. Shit. Shit!”

As icy liquid reached the bottom of the steering wheel, his heart pounded with the realization that Gas Tools and Oil was about to be his metal grave.

Nick squatted on the seat, keeping his head up for air and grabbed the crucifix off the rearview mirror. Not knowing what else to do, he read Mom’s scripture out loud. For God gave us spirit not of fear, but of power and love and self-control…spirit not of fear, but of power…self-control. Power.

Power.

He positioned the large crucifix in his fist, fingers wrapped around the cross.

Self control.

Rearing back, Nick took a deep breath and hit the window as hard as he could with the base of the cross. Sounding a dull thud, it shattered inward, releasing a whoosh of glass-filled water over his face. Clutching the crucifix, he grabbed the roof with his other hand, pulled himself through the opening, and swam upwards.

 

By April Hunter

Published 11/16 in Page & Spine Literary Journal

http://www.pagespineficshowcase.com/april-hunter.html