Writing on Wednesdays: “Me”

I really wish that I were more creative with my poetry titles, but, alas, it is one of my many weaknesses. This poem really forced me to look inside of myself…and have fun doing so. You should try it and show me your work if you do. Ask yourself what color you are. Shape? Action? Sound? Instrument? Secret place? Natural occurrence? What hides behind your eyes? Name yourself. If you want more fun exercises like this, check out Susan Wooldridge’s book, Poemcrazy.

“Me”

I am a sky blue, encased in ice;

I am an uncut diamond, as rough as a cliff’s face;

I am twirl.

 

I am the faint echo in the crisp forest air;

I am an anthem of confidence and desperation;

I am Violin.

 

I am a crisp, green valley between two snow-capped peaks;

I am a crowded and colorful market;

I am Comet.

 

Too many words

Hide behind my eyes.

 

Too few words

Hide behind my eyes.

_________________________________________

Hope you enjoyed it! Let me know what you think. 🙂

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Writing on Wednesdays: (Don’t) Panic Contest

writing and coffee

Recently, Lauren Oliver (one of my most favorite authors) hosted a writing contest to spread the word about her upcoming YA novel, PanicNeedless to say, I am BEYOND excited for the book. Oliver challenged us to write as if we were going through a Panic game/test ourselves. Her advice? Make the stakes as high as possible and be creative. I had a ton of fun writing a short story (ish thing) for the contest, although I didn’t win. The 1st place winner’s piece was extraordinary! I love constructive criticism and post for fun. Here we go!

Ten minutes. Ten minutes between me and winning that money. Ten minutes between me and going to college. I still don’t understand how the judges seem to tailor these tests so precisely to my worst fears. Thirty seconds. Thirty seconds before I choose to shimmy into the coffin in front of me and allow myself to be lowered underground. Buried alive has a strange ring to it. What an oxymoron. Twenty seconds. My palms start to sweat. I take a deep breath. “Buried” goes with words like “cold” and “unyielding” and “death.” “Alive” goes with words like “free” and “well” and “warm.” The crowd is starting the countdown. I step into the coffin and lay down. They close the lid. Darkness. I can still hear the muffled sound of the crowd’s cheers. I feel myself being lowered into the ground. Thud. The first chunk of dirt hits the coffin’s lid and makes my heartbeat quicken. I look to my right and see the glowing button that I can push if I want to end the test. Thud. That button means freedom. Thud. That button means failure. I didn’t invest a dollar every single day for almost an entire year just to fail. I will go to college. I won’t end up like my mom, stuck in this town with kids she doesn’t want and no way out.

My eyes have adjusted to the darkness by now and I see the deep grooves carved into the coffin. I take another shallow breath. This isn’t as bad as I pictured it. I’m probably halfway through the test. Except that I learned in psychology class that adrenaline can make time seem different. Slower. Or Faster. I can’t remember. I could have three minutes left. Or nine. I clench my fists, trying to keep the terror from rising into my throat. Silence. I can’t hear the crowd anymore. All that remains is the sound of my quickening breaths. I try holding these breaths—I don’t want to waste precious air. Oh God, am I going to die here? Is this going to be my legacy? Are my last moments going to be marked by utter darkness in an unmarked grave?

Stop! I chide myself for allowing my thoughts to take such a negative turn. I try to turn on my side but I can’t. I’m trapped in this position. It has to have been ten minutes by now. What if they left me? What if that’s why I can’t hear them anymore? I look at the glowing button. It’s tantalizing now. No. I start clawing at the roof of the coffin. I don’t have enough room to hit anything. My clawing becomes more and more frantic. I swear the coffin’s walls are getting closer. I feel hot liquid running down my fingers as my nails begin to bleed. The button is right there. It’s ridiculous, but I can’t bring myself to push it. Why I choose instead to attempt to claw out of the coffin, I cannot say. I’m beyond reason. I reach into my mind and grab hold of the only lucid thought available: I will win. I must be hallucinating because I feel water soaking into my shoes. I ignore it until it tickles my calves. I feel relief. I feel panic. Water means that they haven’t abandoned me here; it’s the second part of the test. Water means that there is less room for air. Less air. I bite my hand to keep from screaming.

I steal another look at the button. Why won’t it turn red? Red means the test is over. Red means I’ve won. I feel something crawling up my leg. Please let it not be a spider. I close my eyes and take several deep, starving breaths to try and conquer my near-hyperventilation. I force myself to analyze my situation. Fear can’t control you if you don’t allow it to freeze your mind, right? What is the fear being tested here? They never tell us. Is it fear of the unknown? Is it fear of enclosed spaces? Drowning? Or darkness? Or of the underground? Or death? What if fear only holds power because we feel like we can’t control the situation? Well, I control this situation. I choose to not push that button. I choose to beat this test.

As I come to this realization, I smile. When I smile, water leaks into my mouth. I hadn’t even realized the water’s fast rise. I cough and my eyes fly open. I pull my hands up from my sides and find that they are numb and heavy. My whole body feels numb. The water is suddenly freezing. The need to lift my right hand to the glowing button becomes an unintelligible litany. Time seems to slow down and my senses dull. My universe becomes my right hand, moving inch by inch from my waist to the button near my head. I didn’t win. Defeat crushes me like a physical blow.

The light turns red.

I barely register the coffin being lifted, the water draining out, the sunlight hitting my face, or the crowd’s ecstatic cheers. To them, the test is a game. To them, I am their champion. To me, the test is a way out of this place. To me, I have survived. I do not get the luxury of elation or victory. I feel blood caking my nail beds. I feel sensation returning to my muscles. I feel grim satisfaction because I endured my fears. Not victory, but endurance. I feel…free.

**I give ALL credit for the (Don’t) Panic contest and the Panic novel concepts to Lauren Oliver. I retain rights only to my writing itself.**

Writing on Wednesdays

writing and coffee

Alright, guys, here’s the thing: I’m a reader and a writer. I can’t explain my love for writing at this moment; it’s just inherently a part of me. I don’t expect everyone (or anyone, for that matter) to like my writing, but I continue to do so anyway. OKAY. SO. I’ve decided that, as a “kick in the butt” to make time for my writing a few times a week, I would start publish a “Writing on Wednesday.” I’m excited about it. Hopefully you’ll find some enjoyment out of it. I am looking for minor critiques (nothing crazy, as I’m not planning on writing a novel…yet), but I do welcome constructive feedback. This particular scene is based off of what I thought would be happening in the picture beneath it. Here goes!

**This is first draft**

I lean my head into the space between his shoulder and mine and sigh. He turns his head and places a kiss on my forehead the same way he’s done it for almost fifty years. I smile as I think about the implications of that number. In love for half of a century. If that isn’t an epic love, I don’t know what is. We’ve been sitting like this for hours now, his arm wrapped around my shoulder, our hands intertwined. I look down at our hands and think about how each deep wrinkle signifies some trial or success we’ve conquered together. Our hands. Both the same, yet so different. His, callused and worn from years of performing the sacred duties of a husband and later a father. His hands have killed every insect that dared cross the threshold into our daughter’s room. They’ve put out stove fires many times over after I had burnt yet another meal. They’ve fixed leaky roof shingles. They’ve brushed my hair out of my eyes and squeezed my trembling fingers as he said “I do.” My hands once bore the marks of motherhood, but those have been washed away by months of cancer treatments. Only translucent skin and brittle bones remain; I am in my final days.

As if sensing my thoughts, he squeezes my arm lightly and tells me that I look beautiful to him. I sigh. God really has been good to us. I don’t deserve the man next to me. I don’t deserve to spend my last days sitting with him, contentedly reflecting on the beautiful life we’ve had. The afternoon light is fading and a light mist starts to fall, casting a soft glow over everything. The maple tree to our right that wedged deep cuts into our daughter’s arms as she fell from its branches one childhood summer doesn’t seem so vicious anymore. I suppose every bad memory loses its sting when you realize that its impact has long since vanished. As the light wanes, my life wanes too. I soak in the breathtaking view of my house for half of a century; I turn my hand over and relish the tickling sensation of the mist as each minuscule drop touches my palm; I allow the maple and pine scented air to waft through my nostrils; I listen to the music the air makes as it swirls around us and moves through the trees; I begin to fall asleep to the strong rhythmic heartbeats thrumming from the chest next to mine. “I love you,” I murmur. “You will always be alive in me, darling,” he answers. “Don’t prolong your pain for my sake. I love you too much.” I close my eyes.

Old Bench

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