Campfire

So … people are popping up doing a new kind of “live theatre” .. basically streaming from their homes to yours while we all wait this out.

The thing I have always loved about live theatre is the campfire aspect. Fiona Shaw came and talked in one of my classes once, and this was what stuck with me all these years: it’s embedded deep in our dna, whatever people are your particular ancestors, somewhere wayyy back, we all had a common practice of stories.
The warriors would come back and enact how they killed the dangerous animal. The healers would dance about rain, calling in the seasons, giving thanks, or maybe calming the people that abundance would come again, that things are cyclical.
We’d gather around fires when the dark seemed too full of dangers. We’d be together, and the stories would teach and bring our hearts and minds warmth and connection.

People did a study and found that an audience’s heartbeats synch up during a live performance.

We need each other – connection – to remind us that it’s not one in danger, defending their resources against a savage world – to remind us that we are united, that we’re not alone when there are harsh realities to face.

We may have gone very far from the village. We may feel more isolated now than ever before, but the village is in each of us, if we choose to remember. Ubuntu – common humanity – I am well because the village is well, if one is not well, and I can help, I help.

There are people who have forgotten, and they’re like feral cats, in instinct and attack. Don’t think they’re all of us. I hope that those people can be healed, but at this time, don’t approach the ones who are out of their minds in fear. Just silently bless from a distance and focus on the good.
Look for the ones giving theatre from their homes, or music, or art, or story, or words of hope.

Feed the hope-light in you, not the fear-light. Stay safe but unafraid. There are good people everywhere,

And we’ve gotten through some gnarly times- we can get through them again.

❤️ (Here’s an old photo of a maggid story by the fire, a man paddling a pumpkin – Ludwigsberg pumpkin festival in Germany – and Chewbacca thinking about climbing a wall. Just to remind us all that we are collectively weird and lovely)

The Rose Gold Rule

Mi ha-ish hechafetz Chayyim, Ohev yomim lirot tov?

Who is the one that has a passion for Life, loving every day, seeing the Good? (Psalm 34:13)

The day Figaro died, I chanted this prayer for him. He sat and listened, purred as usual. Did he know it was his last day? I don’t know – but my boy enjoyed every day to the fullest, regardless. So while I chanted, I wove in this promise: that from him, I would learn to enjoy my own life. I would stop caretaking others, and people-pleasing; I would raze the foundations of my childhood conditioning, and I would rebuild, slowly and carefully, my life from my own center, consulting no one.


This isn’t easy for someone who has lived a life solely based on serving others. If others were at peace and happy, I felt my purpose here fulfilled. I could sense when they weren’t. I drained my essence continually, patching, mending, holding space, listening, sensing, observing, learning – and there was also a profound sadness that came along with observing when someone felt unsafe socially. I wanted to protect those ones; I wanted to give them safety by saying “I accept you. I love you, with all your flaws.”
This led me into romantic relationships with the wounded. I could see the little-boy innocence, fear peeking out of their eyes every now and then, and my protectiveness drove me. It was powerful beyond words, the inner lioness who wanted to care for, love, and heal these men. There were three only, because I am monogamous and fiercely loyal, but it was enough for me to see this pattern of self-abandonment in order to caretake others. I over-used my compassion, and brought understanding to the times they engaged in cruel behavior and words toward me. But if a little boy is wounded, this kind of understanding and unconditional love has them lash out even more. Has them grow to despising. Mommy is responsible for all my anger; put the darkness I feel on her, and let her carry it all.

If you understand what I have written thus far, this post is for you.

I understand now why someone would tell the world she is “self-partnered.” This last relationship, and the betrayal that shocked me to my core, has sealed shut any – at all- interest in me for romantic relationship. The idea repels me on a level I can’t seem to explain enough to the opposite sex.
I have experienced that my inner conviction, my complete solidity that I am only interested in focusing on my own life now, has drawn men in droves. The younger ones have been, surprisingly, kind and sweet, able to take the word “no,” and remain friends. The older ones don’t seem to be able to really hear my no. They persist. I think somewhere in the ’80’s, we taught men that no didn’t mean anything at all when it came from a woman.

And so, I did a ritual in which I married myself. I made vows. I had still been carrying fear that I would self-abandon and put a man’s needs first, and make excuses for terrible behavior.
But since I also know this about me: that I keep vows at all costs,
I finally, at last, made vows to myself.

I had the rings from my past intended marriage, of course, and these were resized for the other hand. They represent the biggest lesson of my life. Broken promises, and a love I believed in that was unconditional love on my part, and deceit on his. They are a reminder to me that a man’s word means nothing, and I must observe his actions. Not make excuses for those actions, but observe them with clinical detachment. My heart and life are worth this; I believed a man’s word, and it changed on a dime. These rings he was adamant were mine “no matter what,” and then – since apparently love and keeping his word wasn’t enough – given in compensation for the many thousands of dollars my parents had already paid for wedding ceremonies which were, last minute, not going to occur.
Later, he then threatened me for these rings, all words and promises forgotten, saying they were his “Property.” This is what a man’s word is worth. This is how lasting it is. I wear this reminder now on my hand, and will do for the rest of my life. (NO, I am not saying “all men” are incapable of keeping their word. I am saying – to be safe, one must observe actions of men and women. Actions! One day, maybe I’ll marry the man who keeps 98-100% of his word. 😉 )

The rings I “married” myself with and made my vows with belonged to both grandmothers. On my Mother’s side, and on my Father’s. (incidentally, I also wear my father’s wedding ring and my mother’s. Yeah, I love family. I am grateful for them – more than I can say.)
I had my paternal grandmother’s ring coated in rose gold, which gives rise to the main point of this blog: the rose gold rule.

When you’re a person who wears rose-colored glasses, seeing the good in the people around you, red flags just look like flags. Your rose lenses cancel out the warning color. This is a beautiful gift to have, because personalities of others and acquired damage during this lifetime are not who that person actually is. We tend to define ourselves by our surface personalities and learned behaviors, but beneath that is someone’s soul-level essence. Being able to see that is a gift I tried to deny and correct, in the early days of my hurt. For a long time, I kept seeing the good in the latest ex, and worked to maintain a friendship – until the disregard of me went too far, and I saw that this kindness was entirely one-sided, and had been for quite a number of years. The devastation of seeing how I was discarded and disregarded had me wishing to change and remove my rose lenses. But dwelling in suspicion and self-protection isn’t my nature. I love people too much.
So when I did my ritual, I chanted again “The Sea Lion’s Question” (which is now Figaro’s chant,) and I accepted that I am someone who will always see the good.
To stop trying to remove my rose lenses eased a lot of pain in my heart. We really need to accept ourselves as we are, and work with what we have.
Yes, as I mentioned, I am razing the foundations of the life I’ve built on people-pleasing, but once you reach bedrock, at the end of it all, you’re still you.

Evven ma’asu habonim ha’y’tah l’rosh pinah

The Stone the builders rejected has become the cornerstone. (Psalm 118:22)

My rose-colored lenses became my cornerstone. Once my greatest weakness, it has now become a strength. I have accepted that my deepest drive is to bring healing to others, to help them accept and love their own human flaws. It is why I became an actor; it is why I write. If we could only realize we are ALL human, and the things that embarrass us, the things we hide from each other, are shared by all, wouldn’t we then be able to stop judging? Wouldn’t we then be able to connect and have compassion for ourselves and for the others we meet along the way?
This has been my question since I was a teenager, and struggled with such crippling social anxiety, I couldn’t eat in public, or talk on the phone; I couldn’t do things that other people didn’t even think twice about. During school at Juilliard, I would take my meals up in the elevator to my room. I ate in the cafeteria maybe once or twice my entire first year, and when I did, I was such a mass of nerves that I was sick afterward.
So I had to examine this, and I had to learn. Accepting my own humanity, learning to celebrate and shine light on the places that were fraught with embarrassment, was the gift that Juilliard, and RADA after it, gave to me.

“What are you afraid of?” They asked. It was the continual question I was faced with. They threw me onstage naked, and mostly naked, thinking they could expose the fear-places, but it wasn’t in my body. It was embedded deep in my shame of being human.

Lear, IV.VI; 125

GLOUCESTER: O, Let me kiss that hand!
LEAR: Let me wipe it first; it smells of mortality.

Once we accept our humanity, and all it comes with, we are set free. I was set free of eating disorders, of seeing food as “the enemy,” of the anxiety around smelling like a human (I still can’t stand the stank that happens after a day in Disneyland, though…) of the potential embarrassment around any social gaffes that might arise…
all of it. Once I had developed compassion – and even love – for all of that, I was set free to love people. My newfound freedom came at a steep price, as I still was operating with a non-updated operating system. My old OS told me that while I loved and cared for others, and had great compassion for their shadows, it was my JOB to love them, and having boundaries for myself equated to rejection of others.

Every time we deny or ignore our needs in order to please others, every time we fail to create and maintain a boundary, we are whispering to our innermost selves “their needs are more important than yours.”
What happens then is our self esteem crumbles a little bit every time.
We then become dependent on others’ approval for our self worth.
We then, over time, become dependent on their seeing and appreciating how we care for them – because at that point, our entire identity is wrapped up in the value we have in others’ eyes, and that value only exists if we are recognized as a support and caretaker.

HOLY SHIT.

So. When I married myself. (haha. that sounds so corny, but try it, it’s so freeing.) I came up with what I call “The Rose Gold Rule.”

We’re all used to the Golden Rule, right? Some of us have been carrying that thing around and living by it so staunchly, we’ve fallen into harm.
Treat others the way you wish to be treated
Do unto others as you would have them do unto you,
Love your neighbor as yourself,

there are quite a few variations. In Hebrew, it is phrased in the negative: Whatever is hateful to you, do not do to your fellow man.

Regardless – those of us who need to learn what I have spent this entire blog rambling an introduction to, and what I am about to lay out, needed a new ADDENDUM to the rule.

First: the very important distinction. YOU GET TO LOVE OTHER PEOPLE. If you are an empath or a kindhearted person or any of the other words used to describe someone who just plain cares,
stop trying to force yourself to remain angry with people you can no longer connect with, for whatever reason. Anger is your armor, your protection, isn’t it. They can’t harm you again, if you keep reminding yourself that you had better not be suckered back into believing the best – so you should remain angry, yeah?
OH, HELL NO.
Anger is a secondary emotion. Underneath it is usually either fear or sadness. Maybe both, if someone you loved didn’t see your goodness, and discarded you, as happened to me.
Anger was my protection, my assurance that I wouldn’t stay tied to that person, or give any more years of my life to “pining” for him or waiting. Anger was my insurance. That I could move on to another relationship.

Do you see the flaw, here?
Carrying anger keeps me tied with a toxic bond. Carrying an anger fence would ensure that when, one day, I do open my heart to romantic relationship again, I would still have that old story, and it would be placed onto my new partner. My psyche would still be warning me, and the warnings would just wear a new face. Nope, oh hell no.

When I married myself (haha…that cracks me up so much every time I write it…) Part of the vows were that I love myself completely as I am.
I love that I love other people so much. That I see the good in others had me create a vow that protects me. This vow is: I get to love others, but I will not support and enable their damage. I will not carry their baggage, as I have my own to carry.
I will work on myself with self-compassion, and with the same kind of forgiveness and tenderness with which I view others’ damage and hurt places.

I believe we are all in this world trying to do our best. I also believe there’s an addition to this which it took me all these years, a shattering relationship, and three therapists to learn: and that is the vital importance of boundaries. I have limits now. They are strong. They don’t need to be enforced in anger. In fact, they *remove* anger. If anger was the signal that my boundaries and needs had been trampled, oh, two miles back, well, if I know I will hold my boundaries, I do not need the anger at all.



Anger is not where my strength dwells. Love is.

Which brings me, at last, to the Rose Gold Rule.

for those of you who are still reading ;), to whom this applies, you can go on keeping that golden rule, and good for you. But we need an addition, because we allow ourselves to be treated badly, due to compassion with the damage that causes the harmful behavior.

Rose Gold Rule: I will not allow myself to be treated in a way I would never treat someone else.



yeah, I use the word “never” quite consciously. It’s an absolute, and it’s a word that usually signals that we’re speaking from a very young part of self.
THIS IS A YOUNG PART OF SELF that needs to be spoken to, quite firmly.

At times during my relationship, I found myself actually gasping in surprise, thinking, “I would never treat a human being the way he just treated me, let alone someone I said I loved, who was my lover. Never.”

“I would never say such a thing to someone else.”
“I would never break my word like that/ gaslight like that.”

Rose Gold Rule: I want all you kindhearted ones to learn it. You get to keep your rose colored glasses. Please do, the world needs them, and soon enough, I think we’ll be able to walk around and just spot others of our kind, as we grow more and more rare. You are rare and your heart is needed here.
Now learn the rose gold rule.
You can love, and walk away. You can love, and say “I won’t allow your damage to treat me this way. I wish you healing.” Bless and release.

DO KNOW that it isn’t painless. It comes at a cost for hearts like ours. Let it hurt, and let it go. Keep this rose gold rule as a vow to yourself. The pain of closing gates on someone you love, and mourning them as if they have passed away, is far more clean a grief than the pain of daily allowing harmful, disrespectful behavior toward you.
One pain allows you to grieve, and then be strong and whole to continue the work you need to do in this lifetime.
The other pain diminishes you, and will eat away at your energy until all you can focus on is NOT your work here, but how to manage that other person’s treatment of you.

THEIR BAGS ARE NOT YOURS TO CARRY, dear heart. Put their bags down. Pick up your own. Walk on. Love, and release.

Love, and release.

I’ve heard already from two people who are going to give themselves rose gold rings (and one who already did, just by instinct) to remember this rule. Please let me know if you are inspired to do so, as well, or any variation thereof.

I love you. I believe in you. You can do this. We can do this. We are harming no one by loving ourselves. In fact, maintaining boundaries is an important teaching to give, and we are helping others by doing so.

…and, true to form, I am not editing this monster. Read at your leisure, take sips, skip over the long bits, do as you please. Enjoy, and I hope someone is helped by this.

P.S.: these are all my perceptions only, and my experiences. What feels true to me, may not be true to someone else. I am sure any ex has an entirely different story. Please keep that in mind. I am only speaking my own lessons; I am not defining another person.
Also, damage dances with damage. I am not a victim. I am working to heal my own shadows, and I carry my own baggage. I want to make that quite clear.
Relationships do not happen between one healthy person and one unhealthy one. If we continue, if we hang on, if we stay in them, there is a reason, and it would be wise for us to examine why we called a certain energy into our lives, and why we chose to commit to it.

I am not a victim: to be broken up with by someone I thought I loved “unconditionally” was an incredible gift, for which I am deeply and profoundly grateful.

Untainted (- for Tika)

She felt, rather than heard, him running just behind her, his warmth at her shoulder. The wind hit her ears with a strange, high-pitched wailing, bringing prickles up along the back of her neck. She tried to force her mind away from master Plo’s stories of haunted ship graveyards that he had patiently spun when she was a youngling who hated sleep. She slid to a crouch behind the rusted hull they’d spotted from the cover of their cave. Her breath coming in gasps, she closed her eyes briefly. Master Plo. How she missed him.

She leaned her back up against the sun-warmed metal, lifting her bracer to shield mouth and nose as the other master landed beside her, kicking up dust.

At least it was a bit quieter here, in the shelter of the rusting old hulk.

“If they are following, they’ll know exactly where we are, with that dust cloud rising,” she coughed.

“They’re not out in this, Ahsoka. At least- not yet.”

He sounded so sure. But then- he always had.

“Here. Try this,” his voice was light, amused, his solid warmth nudging her shoulder playfully, as he pulled something out of his cloak.

She had her head down, rummaging in her pack for water. Without thinking, she lifted her hand just as a hard, smooth object smacked into her palm. That was a hard throw from close quarters, she thought in surprise, her fingers tightening around the object.

“Impressive reflexes,” he smiled.

She examined it. It was hard, but had a slight give when she flexed her fingers. Red. A small twig coming out of one end. It smelled- she lifted it to her nose – definitely organic matter. Sweet.

“What is this when it’s at home, and why should I try it?” She turned it over and over in her hand, liking the weight and feel of it.

“It doesn’t have a home anymore, Snips. This is from a world that no longer exists.”

At that, she lifted her head to look at him. Then inched back a little. He was … too close.

When did she begin feeling uneasy around her master, she wondered, shaking her head slightly.

Still, she searched his face. It hadn’t changed. Their weeks of hiding had slimmed it somewhat, so the shadows were more prominent under his eyes and the hollows of his cheeks; his beard stubble had grown in a way no master would normally allow, and there was sand on his face. His dark hair was wildly tangled, but the brown eyes that gazed back at her were warm as always, calm. He was – still himself.

She shuddered, trying to shake off her odd mood.

“Bantha on my grave,” she muttered, looking at the object again. She brought it to her mouth and gave it a tiny, experimental lick.

“Eugggh, smooth,” she said, “no taste.”

“Bite it,” he urged, getting a little too close again.

“What is it you want, Anakin?”

“Eat the Apple.”

“Eat it? But why?”

“You’ll know after you eat it.”

She’d trusted him with her life. She’d never questioned him. Well – okay- that wasn’t true. She’d questioned him, but she was inclined to weigh the odds heavily in his favor, every time. His judgment was sound. His heart was true. She thought. She frowned slightly. Had her judgment always been sound?

“Let me make sure I understand. You want me to eat some unnamed thing from a dead world, and you won’t tell me why,” she declared flatly, her eyes narrowing, holding the strange food between them. It gleamed so oddly red, almost obscenely clean in this putty-colored, dusty place.

“Yup. Exactly.” He watched her, saying nothing more.

She shrugged. Curiosity was, invariably, her driving flaw.

The first bite hit her senses like icy Hoth wind. It took some work for her teeth to break the skin, and it made a popping sound when she took a bite. The fruit was crunchy, and the juice of it was lush, tart and sweet all at once. She chewed, her nostrils flaring as she inhaled in surprise. Dead world, and the most living bite of food she had ever tasted. She closed her eyes in wonder and reverence as the delicious juice trickled down her parched throat.

She opened her eyes again slowly, and as she looked across at her teacher, she saw his eyes were no longer brown. They shone with an eerie red gleam. She turned and looked around wildly at the horizon, to see if the suns were setting already, or-

she looked down as she felt warm juices trickle between her fingers. Was the fruit melting?

the liquid was red, thick, viscous and shockingly warm.

“Blood?” She gasped, dropping the fruit, holding her hand up in front of her eyes. “Blood.”

He smiled slowly, and those strange red eyes of his never left her face.

“Dead world,” he chuckled, a strange rasp in his voice, “do you hear them? It’s your last lesson,” he added so quietly, she wasn’t sure she had heard correctly.

She heard faint screams, hundreds of voices pleading, talking, praying, the sound of anguish as she plunged her hand in the sand, and scrubbed wildly, scouring the blood off as best she could. “Jedi … do not draw blood,” she said, her throat closing in horror and disgust.

“You are no Jedi,” he answered her, and when he smiled, a full smile this time, his teeth were stained red.

She sat up, panting. The sheets were tangled around her legs. She looked around the dimly lit room. No suns. No dust. She propped herself on one elbow, and held up her hand, turning it slowly, inspecting every inch of clean skin. No blood.

“Your sick choices have nothing to do with me, my old friend. Do you hear me? Nothing. You may have told me to eat, but yours was the harm. Trusting you was my only mistake.”

She wiped her eyes and sat up, taking a deep breath. He was gone, and his evil choices gone with him. She gathered her armor to begin another day, the smell of blood and the taste and anguish of a long-dead world still lingering on her tongue.

.

For You

Two weeks … I love you, love you, love you so.
Picked up your ashes Tuesday. So tiny. I am not sure how to do this without you. My heart is beating lopsided.


But you loved life. So I notice the bird song for you. I take a pause and smell the air in the morning. For you. I see the sunlight through the trees, quite on purpose, my dearest, for you. I taste the clear, cool water, and when I eat, it isn’t usually because I’m hungry, these days- but it’s for you. Today I sang softly (I don’t sing anymore. But you loved it so, and would come from wherever you were to sit on your curved seat and listen-) “Till There Was You.”

For you, for you. Breathing in and out, all day long, till I hold you again, my gentle little love.
Death is the deal we make when we come in the door. Don’t carry the departed. Live. For them. Live: quite on purpose. For them. Until it is my time, and as heavy as it can feel right now, this is the way.

No, I Will Not Stop Writing

This blog is a work of fiction. Names, persons and places in this blog are fictional compilations of my real-life experiences and perceptions. Any resemblance to real persons, living or dead, or real places or events is purely coincidental, and you’re so vain if you think this blog is about you.

If you choose to think it’s about you, well, that’s your circus. Have fun – maybe you’ll learn something along the way… that would be rad.

Except the cats. The cats contained herein are eternally real, and equally beloved.

So if you want to harass the blog’s author, think twice and kindly bugger off.

Oh, and:

Happy Vampire-bane’s Day

The vampire writes her letters, thinking she is still innocent prey.

“I just want to explain what happened all those years ago,” he says, “my side of the story.”
He writes about his victimhood, poor vampire, how he was maligned, mistreated. He writes gossip that fairly drips off the page with malice- he writes lies, twisting her family into nightmare shapes, simply to prove himself a mistreated hero in every tale.

The ink drips with her own blood. She can see it, because she’s been given the lenses to see, now, and for the rest of her life – but he doesn’t know that.

She smiles, and with a blink, she sets his words on fire. They burn to ash in seconds.
“I am. Vampire-bane,” she whispers, brimming with delight, fizzing with the joy of her new-found power.

It is clear from his words he still thinks she is naive, innocent, wide-eyed and believing in him.
He believes other people are keeping her from him, locked away in a tower, poor helpless Rapunzel. She chuckles, and her ghost cat nuzzles her hand. She smiles at him, and her eyes narrow.

“They think love is weakness, these vampires,” she says to the cat.
He lifts his copper eyes to hers and sits, quietly. Green eyes and copper. Both smile at the same time.

You see, she had changed. She was much more powerful now, and innocent no longer.

There had been another. (Vampires tend to swarm like the vermin they are, so there won’t usually only be one.)

He thought to climb to the tower, present himself as a hero who was there to rescue her and bring her into the world, and oh, she believed him. She believed him for years, in fact.

“You tried to tell me, didn’t you, Figaro, but I was still naive.” Figaro (for this is the cat’s name), purrs. He understands. She has a hopeful heart, which blinded her to the trash under the illusion – she couldn’t help it.

The “hero” climbed to her tower for years, and subtly broke her down. He would tell her of loves he’d had, and then hold back any kind words, any affection to her. He would continually show disappointment in her lack of beauty.  He painted the inside of her tower with dismal hues. He was impatient with her, blaming, devaluing. There were no mirrors in her tower, so his words became her truth.

“How did he do it?”

Her mind is fuzzy when she tries to remember the ways he had her afraid, jumping through hoops, ultimatum after ultimatum, and somehow, somehow, keeping her in the tower, while convincing her he was saving her. Somehow convincing her that his silly, ridiculous vampire self was powerful, and knew better than she. Why on earth had she kept allowing him in?

She learned that the beautiful hero illusion in the beginning, while lovely, was a part of the vampire poison. It was the part of the act that was designed to lull her into a fantasy, and keep her grasping for that taste of goodness she’d been given, hanging on, hoping it would come back – if she could just become good enough in his eyes.

Then, one day, the vampire misstepped. He went too far. He broke a deeper word than the ones he usually broke.

Since vampires have no hearts beating in their chests, he couldn’t know how deep the word was that he’d broken. He couldn’t know how sacred.

Still, she tried to believe in him, thinking she was mistaken. Still, she shielded him, and told everyone in the kingdom that she supported him and his decision was the right one.

She chuckles. Oh, his decision was the right one.

Then, he went even more too far.
He went. Too. Far.

It happened like this: Figaro was dying, and the vampire did not even acknowledge it.
Her soul became steel, in that one misstep of his.

Two very foolish missteps: he might have recovered the first, but one misstep was so completely a violation of every single thing in her soul, that everything she’d ever believed or felt for that charlatan, every illusion he’d spun in her heart, turned to icy contempt.

Not even anger: utter indifference.

She felt the way we’d feel if we had left the trash rotting in our house too long – Disgust. Throw it out. Why on earth was that trash in here? –

Rapunzel, in her quest to become free of the darkness of her tower, began learning from a healer. Hundreds of sessions working hard, in front of color-shifting, bright moon-lights, shaped her into vampire-bane.

This teacher also gave her a mirror.

She repainted the inside of her tower.

She saw the “hero,” met him again, and listened, Listened.
He thought she was still innocent, fooled by him, trapped in his illusion.

He had turned her trust upon herself, and fooled her with fairy-tales.
So she turned his trust upon himself.

Walking toward her, playing his usual sentimental role, he stepped in front of her mirror.
She saw the last proof she needed.  The “hero” had no reflection. She saw her own image beyond him – that she was, in fact, beautiful, in her own way. She saw her own power.

She found out his secret – that he had a hidden relationship, and in fact, was planning to marry very quickly.

Would he abandon that wedding, too? She chuckled. It was frivolous, embarrassing, silly. One tear dropped from her eye for that poor, deluded woman- “bless her and protect her, poor woman,” she said, and turned her heart to more important matters.

As Figaro’s life force left him, he gave it to her- his sight- the awareness that this heart-bond was deeper and more true than anything she’d known, and it would become her lenses to help her see clearly. Anyone who showed no caring for Figaro’s life and death had shown their true colors to her completely, and was instantly banished from her kingdom. Coldly, swiftly, without thought or caring, they were locked out for good.  They would no longer have access.

And one more talisman he gave her: the knowledge that her heart, her love was more powerful than anything the vampires could do.
The ability to see how sad, how lost and unloving, how ridiculous their antics were.

She carefully plucked a thorn from her roses- the thorns are the protectors of true beauty – and with the ancient magic she’d been given, she willed it to grow large, to become a stake of truth.

she turned, chuckled at that ridiculous circus-act of a “hero,” and lightly flicked the stake toward where the vampire’s heart would be.

The silly vampire, in the light of her heart, with one touch of the stake, gave a pathetic, self-pitying wheeze, and collapsed into a pile of ash.

“There are no heroes,” she said, as the stake crumbled away to ash, its job complete.

She held Figaro. He cuddled closer to her chest and breathed once, twice, and one last time. His beautiful, sweet life left his body.

This grief was clean, pure, and true, and she would never be the same.

“There are no heroes.”

 

postscript: Do not be fooled by temporary, gentle-seeming appearances. Did a vampire come back into your life, and lead you to think that perhaps he had grown kinder? THEY CAN’T. They can only act, and wear masks. Since this article went up, I have had proof- VAMPIRES DO NOT CHANGE.

Manipulative, emotionally unavailable, empathetically bankrupt, toxic, DIShonorable and two-faced people do not just magically transform into amazing people who, just after leaving you, take responsibility for their actions and are capable of true love, genuine emotional connections, accountability, honesty, loyalty & empathy. 

Something Wicked

They found Mr. Brown underneath the stage among the props with his throat cut. It was a shame, someone (no one was very clear, later, who it was) remarked in the shocked silence, to spoil his silk bow tie.

The Witches had run on ahead, as every female in The Groundlings Theater Company knew about Mr. Brown’s little love nest under the stage. They’d all been invited there. Some had avoided, and some had acquiesced; the size of ensemble roles reflected, in varying shades, the color of their commitment to Sacrificing for their Art.

He had pushed a chaise lounge (used in a production of Private Lives, and still quite nice, really,) into a small alcove made by pushing various bits of scenery and props to the sides to create walls. No one could picture Mr. Brown doing such menial work, so there’d been a betting pool going around as to whether he would hire some of the stage hands for renovations.

It was a shame, one of the women remarked (no one would say whom), that the killer hadn’t used poison, as there was a nice open bottle of wine sitting ready to hand, with one glass half-full, and the other drained.

“But we wouldn’t know, would we, the clever clogs could have used poison, couldn’t ‘e, then slit his throat after. A sort of Red Haddock.” (That was Bessie, Lady Macbeth’s dresser.)

“Herring,” Macbeth’s voice rang out in an authoritative way into the thoughtful silence. He had just roared his way through three hours of Shakespeare, and was most definitely In Voice as a result.

The cast looked to him as he cleared his throat in a decisive way. “Right, then. Someone must ring the police.”

They shrank back from him a bit. His face, still streaked with blood from his battle with MacDuff, gleamed in a sinister way, lit from below by the flickering candles. He eyed the candles, noting that they were burning quite low- Mr. Brown  must have lain here for some time – and snatched one up, snuffing out the other. 

“The police?” One of the witches,Witch Three perhaps, whispered.

“He’s very obviously been murdered. It’s what one does, you know.” 

“Murder?”

“No- ring the police. And don’t touch anything. It is all evidence now. Don’t you read novels?”

So back upstairs they trudged, still in costume, the men clanking in mismatched (looks fine under stage lights) armor and the ladies in either quasi-medieval drapery (gentlewomen) or dyed cheesecloth rags (witches), a ragtag bunch with a strange solidarity.

“She isn’t here,” Witch One hissed to Witch Two.

“She wouldn’t be, would she. Superstitious. Always goes back up after her death, and waits for her notes to be given private-like, in her dressing-room.”  They nodded to each other, worried faces conveying a proprietary air.  This was their Lady, and though she had strange superstitions, her mad scene brought the house down night after night.  Allowances must be made. “Nervy,” they had called her, not without a certain pride.

Murmuring among themselves, they sat on the stage, where they were most comfortable.  The ghost light was switched on, making interesting shadows as they settled themselves down on the handy bits of scenery, fallen rocks and trees turning into perfect picnic spots with the addition of bedraggled blankets someone (probably Banquo) had dragged up from the storage room. Props puttered over to make a pot of tea, and it became positively festive. They talked among themselves in low voices, for all the world like a murder of crows settling in for a coze, their eyes continually darting to Macbeth, who had his mobile clamped to his ear.

“You’d think in a poky place like Bangor, the police would be leaping on the phone,” Lady Macduff began, only to be shushed fiercely as the quacking of a nasal voice from the mobile indicated the line had been picked up at last.

In a few curt sentences, Macbeth explained their predicament. They all listened, reaching for biscuits and sipping their tea, heads nodding in support, no doubt taking notes on his delivery to help him later.

He hung up and sighed, tucking his mobile away in the empty sheath that hung from his belt. (No telling where his sword had gone, Props thought resignedly.)

“Who’ll go fetch her?” He said heavily.

Everyone looked to Bessie.

“Oh, must I?” she quavered.  No one knew how old Bessie was, exactly; she was strong as an ox and stubborn as a steam train, but had a certain knack for appearing frail when things were asked of her that she didn’t wish to do. One can’t hang about the theater for decades, even backstage, without picking up some acting skills, it seemed.

No one said a word; they lifted teacups to lips to hide their smiles, and munched their biscuits, eyes wide and waiting.

“OH, all right. For heaven’s sake. The poor lamb has had two performances today, and she outdid herself in that last one, if it is me who says it. Who cares what I think, I’m just a dresser, just lays her things out as she likes ‘em, makes sure her binocs is ready so she can be with her birds before curtain, irons the paper so she can read her horoscope of a morning; if it weren’t for me, the poor mite would be all over nerves, you all know she can’t perform unless she has her little rituals.” They nodded in time with the speech, having heard it many times before. It didn’t really lose anything in the retelling; that was the thing about theater traditions, they gave one a safe feeling.

Bessie gave one last glare around the company, muttering to herself “Smug as an alley full of cats outside an Italian restaurant,” and heaved herself to her feet, shaking off Prompt, who had reached out an arm to help her.

Of course they all knew who did it, but one mustn’t spoil the show. Not a single person looked at Macbeth, who sat contentedly sipping his tea with the air of a man who has done a job, and done it well.

Off Bessie clomped; they could hear each step as she climbed the stairs to the Lady’s dressing room, muttering to herself all the while. They heard the door open (wonderful acoustics in this old theater; really, most wonderful!) and, clear as a bell, the Lady’s gasp as Bessie gave her the news. That gasp was well done, Prompt murmured, and they nodded appreciatively. Quite well done indeed. 

An unfamiliar sound broke upon them. They blinked as if coming awake from a nice dream as the house door opened, spilling moonlight that was bright enough to pick out worn patches in the red velveteen seats and curtains. Jones-the-Law stood for a moment silhouetted in the doorway. They shivered deliciously at the effect (if only there had been a clap of thunder! Sound thought wistfully). Jones-the-Law brought with him the smell of the outdoors, the sea air; nostrils flared and the company drew together slightly, closing ranks.

One of his shoes squeaking accompaniment, a rousing Lilliputian bagpipe, he walked toward them up the aisle.  “Coming straight through the house, just like audience,” someone tittered, quickly shushed, as he climbed the side steps to the stage to stand before them, flipping to a blank page in his notebook, pencil at the ready.

Just then, the Lady joined them. Her hands were still slightly reddened; never could quite get the stage blood off in time, you see, they explained, voices overlapping, as she blinked at him, white with shock. Bessie and Macbeth helped her to a chair.

It was a quick change, someone was explaining. One minute she’s telling Macbeth to wash his hands, and oh, you should see them standing there, sir, their hands dripping! It’s a sight to send chills up the spine; they were that good, sir, really they were – the next minute, she’s got to come out again with clean hands. Theater magic, sir. It wasn’t as important for Macbeth to get his hands clean… the explainer trailed off in confusion. They fidgeted, looking everywhere but at Jones. He sighed.

His bright eyes darted around the company, noting reddened hands, costumes smeared with blood. He pushed his hastily-donned helmet back to give his forehead a good rub as they began interrupting each other, jigsawing together a story that didn’t really surprise him. Truth was, he had just been sitting down to his late supper, and hadn’t much liked Mr. Brown, anyway. He’d had so many reports on the man – watched women, he did. A regular peeping Tom. Bird watcher. Jones’ lip curled as he listened. Sounded like Mr. Brown had been at his antics again, no doubt threatening one of the young ladies with firing if she didn’t warm his chaise lounge for him. Really not the sort of thing they wanted in Bangor, and a good riddance to him.

Jones came back to himself with a  start as he heard something new. “Dead birds?” he asked, “Horoscope?”

“Yes – terrible,” Bessie rushed to explain. “She’s a gentle soul; doesn’t ask for anything really, no trouble at all.” She looked fondly at Lady Macbeth, who seemed to be in a state of exhaustion, her pale skin stretched taut over the delicate bones of her face. Bessie took one limp, reddish hand and patted it soothingly.

“She has little rituals she needs before curtain. Comes in for breakfast of a morning. I make her coffee and set out an egg and toast soldiers. She’s got her binoculars. She’s as good as a lamb, really, peaceful, watching her birds in the yard out her dressing room window.” She beamed at Jones as though it all made perfect sense.

“We found it’s the best way to get some food down her, poor mite, or she’d waste away to nothing from nerves.”

“Something happened this morning?” Jones prompted.

A shudder rippled through the company. Jones felt it, more than saw it. They drew closer together.

“Yes.” The one word rapped out of Bessie’s mouth like gunfire. Her muscles grew taut; she was a lioness, defending her cub.

“Someone introduced cats into the yard, and when the poor thing took up her binocs…”

“Death,” everyone looked at Lady Macbeth as the word came out of her in a horrified whisper. “Feathers everywhere, blood, the yard full of them – they’ll never sing again, my lovely, lovely birds,” and with that, shudders seemed to wrack her small frame in its bloodstained nightgown.

Bessie took the Lady into her arms, glaring fiercely over her head at the hapless Jones. 

“You can see she can’t have done it. She were onstage, acting her broken heart out. Two performances she gave today, even with her little friends lying dead all over the yard, and that horrible horoscope!”

“Horoscope?” asked Jones.

A rusty little laugh came from under Bessie’s arm, and the Lady’s muffled voice faltered, “If it weren’t for the horoscope, he needn’t have died,” and she laughed again. Bessie shushed her and buried the glossy chestnut mop of hair deeper underneath  her chin, stroking the hair with one strong, gentle hand.

“Horoscope?” Jones repeated, feeling like an idiotic parrot. All this talk of birds.

“Found it in her dressing room, and her, poor lamb, in hysterics. Mild hysterics, ladylike,” she corrected herself, crooning a bit to the brown head cuddled against her vast bosom.

“Aquarius, she is,” put in Prompt, and was silenced by a fierce look from Bessie. This was Bessie’s time now, her stage, and she’d turn toes up herself before she’d let anyone else have it.

“Yes, Aquarius. Sensitive-like, you know. She needs to read her horoscope of a morning; it helps her feel how her performance is going to go.”

“Only Mr. Brown found out,” Witch Two said darkly, and Bessie kissed the top of the glossy brown head she cradled and nodded for her to continue.

Witch Two cleared her throat nervously. “Mr. Brown found out, and he used it, you see. Everyone knew, but she wouldn’t believe it. She said it was from the stars, but Mr. Brown bribed Jones-the-News to let Mr. Brown write a horoscope. Aquarius, you see.” She faltered to a stop feeling she could have said that better; Witches One and Three patted her supportively, and she turned a becoming bright pink.

“He…wrote them himself?” 

“Aye, that’s it,” they all nodded, delighted as if the clever student had finally learned his sums.

“Said it was to protect the show, you see, to write her lovely things, like.  Notes that she would succeed in all she undertook to perform, that sort of thing. Only today’s…”

“Today’s,” The Lady pushed Bessie’s arms gently aside and raised her head, her eyes glowing with indignation, two bright spots of color on her cheeks. For the first time, Jones-the-Law experienced the full force of her personality. What a woman! He thought, and tugged his helmet off to hold it in his hands, turning it round and round as if he were a young bobby on the beat again.

“Today’s was a direct threat. If I didn’t meet him under the stage,” she took a deep breath and her voice grew resonant; he could see now that she’d be a powerful Lady Macbeth –

“More of the birds would die.”

There was silence as the company gazed at her, drawn close together, shoulder to shoulder.

There was a resounding silence as Jones-the-Law looked around at each of the seated figures, and realized they were breathing quietly in unison.

Lady Macbeth sat, wringing her faintly red-stained, lovely white hands in her lap. He had never actually seen a woman wringing her hands before, though all the books talked about it.

“She couldn’t have done it,” Bessie spoke up, her voice breaking the spell that had seemed to fall over the company. They blinked, nodded, sipped tea, rattling packages of biscuits as hands grabbed for the last delicious morsels –

She couldn’t have done it.

She was on stage, you see.

“The whole time?” Jones asked, resigned.

“Yes, yes, the whole time.”

“We all can vouch for her.”

“You all, in fact, can likely vouch for each other?” Jones asked, realizing belatedly that at no point this evening had his notebook come out of his pocket – it was as if they had cast a spell on him, he thought ruefully; he had taken no notes at all.

He didn’t need to see their nodding heads to know they would all vouch for each other’s whereabouts during the time in question.

Must have been a vagabond, someone from outside, someone suggested, and they all joined in gleeful agreement like a demented Greek Chorus.

Jones-the-Law suddenly felt very tired indeed, and his thoughts strayed to his delicious supper, likely grown cold now.

“What will you all do?” He asked.

“Do?” They looked at him in astonishment.

“Why, the show, of course,”

“Yes, the show. It’s really quite good. We are just getting into our stride.”

“By the pricking of my thumbs – something wicked this way comes…” Macbeth whispered, and grinned at Jones-the-Law. “…he’s worth no more. They say he parted well, and paid his score,” he continued, his eyes meeting those of the Lady in a strangely fierce, intimate moment.

“Theater folk,” Jones-the-Law shook his head, squeaking his way back down through the audience (he really must see about some new shoes soon), tucking away the tickets they had pressed upon him. He supposed Maisie would love to come see a show. He turned to look back as he closed the door; they looked back at him, strangely dreamlike in their costumes on that warmly lit stage. Slowly, (Prompt must have exited off stage while he wasn’t looking) the rich red velvet curtain drew to a close with a few dismissive jerks.

He jammed his hands in his pockets to restrain himself from applauding.

Never, Never

“Move your eyes to the three o’clock position, please, outside the green light, into the darkness. Do you see?”
“Yes,” he mumbled. His tongue felt a little heavy, sleepy. It wasn’t bad-

“Good. Now repeat after me: I have no shadow.”
“Don’t want to.”
“You must.” the voice held a crack in it now, like the sound of a hand slapping water. Peter flinched.

“You chose this, Peter.”
“Didn’t. Sez you.”
“Yes, you came in one day, and may I tell you, you were a much more appealing specimen than you are in at this present moment.” The sound of papers shuffling. A Susurration, Peter’s mind supplied. He liked that word. A throat cleared. How many of them were there?
He sat in a hard chair, his chin resting on the velvet edge of a black box open on one side. He looked into it- why, it’s just like a theatre, he thought, and chuckled softly. A theatre for his head only.
“I’m not sure what’s so amusing, Peter, would you care to share it with us?”
Peter rolled his eyes. The inside of the box was black, save for a bright circle of light across from his eyes. Today the color they’d chosen was green. It wasn’t unpleasant to look into, so that was a relief, at least.
How long had he been here?
Oh. They had asked him a question. “Theatre, sir.”
“Hm. Okay. Are your eyes in the 3 o’clock position?”
“Yes.”
Repeat after me, Peter. “I have no shadow.”

“I have no shadow.”
“I am the best there is, there is no one like me.”
“Feels so stupid.”
“PETER!” cracked the voice. Slap of hand on water. “Say it. Now.”
“I’m the best there is, there’s no one like me.” Peter’s cheeks heated. God, this was so dorky. He shifted. His chair creaked. Cheap jerks.

The voice took on a soothing tone. “I need to crow.”
“Oh my Gosh,” said Peter,
then a hand actually slapped the table beside him, and he jumped, his chin jostling the velvet.
“Okay. I need to…crow. God.”
They continued like this until Peter stopped fighting, and let himself slip into the soothing space of no-space. His chin was comfortable on the velvet. The green light was soothing in his eyes. If the words meant nothing and he just shaped what the man said, he could sort of sleep. They had him move his eyes to the 9 o’clock position, and that was a bit of a pain, but then he could settle in again and relax.

“I have no shadow. I’m the best there is. I’ve got to crow. I can fly.”
It didn’t matter, did it? Just stupid stuff. Theatre, that’s all.

At night, he slept on a small cot in a room that contained only the cot and himself. He could gaze up through a window set very high in the cinderblock wall, and through the lattice of bars, he could see the blue-black night sky, and the stars winking gently at him. Sometimes, there was a moon – oh, she was golden bright! And those nights, it was a little harder to sleep.
That’s all he wanted, in every bone – sleep. Sleep.

It was only on moonlit nights he would have been able to see that his shadow was disappearing. But he was asleep, so he never saw it. Then, one day, (on his fourteenth birthday, as it happened, but he didn’t know that-)  it disappeared.

The words slipped easily off his tongue now. They felt good, actually. He noticed that the people in the room seemed happy when he enjoyed the words. Sang them, crowed them, even.
“Good, Peter, very good.” there was a smile in the voice. He liked that much better than the slap of hand on water sound of anger. But he hadn’t heard that in … he wasn’t sure how long.
Time didn’t really mean anything.
He was sure he must have eaten, and …you know, used the toilet.. but he couldn’t remember.
He couldn’t remember what he looked like. Was that important?
All that mattered was that the movements in the room behind and around him while he sat in the chair were pleased. He could hear their breathing; he could imagine their smiling. He started to get more elaborate. It was a theatre for his head, after all-
He imagined them, one day, handing him an award.
“You’re the best there is, Peter, there’s no one like you.” People clapped and cheered for him, in his visions. He couldn’t see their faces, but that didn’t matter at all. The award mattered – it was solid and heavy in his hands.
“I can fly,” he said, happily.

He didn’t notice when he got bigger, or the chair got smaller.

He didn’t notice when his voice deepened.
He noticed when they were pleased, and he noticed when the very air around him held the hush of disappointment.
But he was the best there is, he’d rail in his head, they couldn’t possibly be disappointed in HIM.

One day, on the day everything changed, they simply turned him out. “Good job, Peter, it’s time for us to move on to the next.”
“What…wha?” He had been so enjoying his new rhyme, “I can fly, I’m the best/ so much better than the rest, I can fight/ I can’t grow/ ’cause I have no shadow!”

“We’re done with you, Peter. Go to work.”
and the man, whom he could now see for the first time wore a grey suit and had grey hair and grey eyes and a tired, thin smile, shut the door in a wall and that was that.
Peter stood outside.

Eventually, he found his way into the world. That’s another story.
Eventually, he found Wendy – many wendys, if we’re being honest.

“Wendy, tell me I’m the best,” he would plead, tears gleaming in his eyes.
But when one Wendy started to wonder where his shadow was, or why he seemed to be looking through her, never into her eyes, or why he behaved as though he was continually standing on a stage somewhere, waiting, straining his ears for applause, or why he was so impatient with her, or anything to do with her, his behavior snappish and cruel, sometimes, as if he was frantic for her to be silent, because he might miss the sound of the applause –

he’d drop her and find another Wendy. But he had to keep tabs on all the Wendys, as they were strange beings whose hearts, once worn out, would regenerate slowly over time.
Delicious. What he needed the most. Those hearts.
His only requirement was that he had to find ones who were still trapped in childhood too, somehow. Ones who dreamed, or believed, or maybe didn’t feel confident, and the girls who had kind hearts.

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“Wendy, tell me I am a hero.”

He knew the time would come when he’d have to make his way back to the building, and pay the men so they’d find young him – at a very young age- and gather him up, and take him to their treatment center.

He wanted that treatment. He was glad for it. It was incredible, being the most amazing – pan- in the world, and being able to fly, and knowing you were the best. Even if it did get a little lonely, as everyone was inferior, and anyway, they all seemed to live outside that velvet box in his head,
it was still the best thing in the world. The very best.
He knew he’d have to go back soon. His time was almost up.
He had to make sure, you see-

that he would never, never grow up.

I Love You

Sometimes it is as though someone has come and laid an anvil on my chest- foomp. There’s a near-unbearable compression, and it is difficult to breathe under the weight.

As my boy coughs and struggles with the thing growing inside him, choking out his life, I pet his forehead. “Mama’s here,” I say, and he gives me a few threads of a purr and subsides.

He nuzzles my hand. His breathing is labored.

He looks up at me with those innocent, trusting copper eyes of his, and I say, “We’re on a rough road this time, love, but I’m with you every step of the way.”
His chin drops to rest on his paws, and he drifts into sleep, and that anvil comes again to settle on my chest, merciless and unyielding. It’s so damn heavy. How many days, God, I ask-

but this grief is clean. The last and most recent loss was tangled; a devious, impure, cruel, dark monstrosity of a toxic Mirkwood forest, and it needed a fucking forest fire to clear it from my life. The loss was better than that thing that grew, then, a thing I deliberately built with love and pure intention, or so I thought. The pain there was good, because the thing itself was a growth just like the one killing my beloved boy.

There are good losses, and then there is this-

Self-abandonment, caretaking others at the expense of self, oh yes, I did that in my past unknowingly. Now, I do it intentionally.
Every time he chatters or cries, I drop whatever it is I’m doing – anything at all- to find him. “Mama’s here,” I say, because it calms him, and because it’s all I can do.

He ate voraciously tonight- the thing inside him demands more food, and I swear, if someone told me: “take this scalpel. You have to cut into him, and it will hurt your little love, and he will cry and not know why you’re hurting him. It will hurt you worse. You’ll bear the scars for the rest of your days, but there’s a slight chance you can cut out that thing that is clawing through his chest, crowding his lungs and devouring his life; there’s a chance you can get it out if you are fierce and brave enough, if you do not hesitate-

I would do it. I would not hesitate.

I don’t cry.

I sing to him because he loves it, and I read a daily card of loving words and affirmations, chosen at random. “It’s time for our card,” I say to him. He likely knows one word in thirty, but he watches my face intently and purrs until his fur vibrates.

Somewhere in my chest, there’s a bewildered grizzly bear howling in pain, striking out blindly, with no idea where the source of its agony can be found. It tears its way around, under my ribs, up to my throat, sometimes into my stomach, and I’m not sure how many more blows I can hold until its claws break through my skin.

I can see future me, now- she’s in my apartment too. Sometimes she’s hazy, like a shadow, or like she’s on the other side of a fog that’s slowly clearing; other times, she’s so clear, I can almost hold her hand. Her arms are empty of his weight forever. She can no longer smell the sweet smell of his forehead.

I can almost reach her when it’s 3 am, and I’ve awakened to the sound of the coughs that wrack his small frame. I can almost touch her hand, then. I feel how empty her chest is- it’s been torn open by the bear- and I lean over, touching my nose to the whisper-soft fur beside his ears, and I breathe in the sweet new-hay smell of him. I feel his breath on my neck, each tiny puff so infinitely precious.

I have lived a double life for six months or longer, hollow, savage with grief. I have mustered my energy to go be around people, laugh and play, then I’ve come home and collapsed like a marionette with my strings cut. I haven’t spoken outside the walls of therapy or a few- very few- close soul friends, the closest of the close, about what kind of torment I have endured for years. What I’ve concealed. What I’ve protected and taken on myself. What I forced myself to believe; toxicity made a liar of me.

But now, I can’t run.

Loss is inside my home, and I don’t even know how long this will go on.

But future me has no more days left. This innocent boy, who has gazed into my eyes with love and trust for fourteen years, is gone forever from her world, so she looks at me with hollow eyes and empty arms and bereft heart from the other side of a hazy wall that is growing thinner by the hour. I can hear her now, she’s close enough – “hold him,” she says, “hold him for me.”

And I do.

I tell him I love him so often;

I remember a past human “love” who was deliberately stingy with the word “love”- who said, “if you say it too often, it loses its meaning,”

and I think, no.  He’s got it all wrong, and he’s missing out. Because, while love is infinite, the ability to connect is finite – There will come a day – it marches toward me with jackboots- ruthless and inevitable, clack, clack- I can hear it in every labored moment his lungs struggle, bubbling with poison, to take in the precious air-
There will come a day when I won’t ever be able to say it to him again, so it gains meaning every time I say it. Every time I am able to. It is the richest thing in my life, to be able to tell this sweet angel how much I love him, and how grateful I am that he chose me. Saying these things to him feels almost self-indulgent, luxurious, as vital to me right now as the food I can’t seem to swallow.

I see it in future me, on the other side of the smoky haze. She’s drawing even closer now, and I see her reach toward me, closing her eyes that will never be delighted by his sweet face again and moving her lips with me soundlessly as I say it to him for her,

“I love you,”

and I think she can hear his answering purr,
and I feel his trust and love as his sweet furry little face slips into my palm to nuzzle me,
and I think maybe she’s a little comforted.

 

cuddlemonster