Thursday, October 25, 2012


"My darling Michael,

I miss you. It's been 48 days since I last laid eyes on you, and I miss you so much."

The pen scratched across the paper as she wrote at the desk in the morning light.

"They still haven't told me why I'm here.  I don't know what I did. What law have I broken that they keep me locked up? Oh, they're very nice about it. Sickeningly nice, always asking if I'm comfortable, always asking if I need anything.  But, they never understand that there are only two things I really need.  I need to know why they're keeping me a prisoner here.  And I need to see you.  They never let me see you. They won't even tell me where you are, how you are.

Always lies. Always excuses.

I know it's been 48 days.  I count every tick on the wall before I sit up in the morning.

Do you remember the night we snuck out and watched the stars come out above town?  It was so beautiful. I can still feel how big your hand felt around mine, the strength of your arms around me as we took in the millions of tiny lights in the sky.  My mother nearly killed me when you finally took me back home and she was waiting up.  But, it was worth every moment of consequence, Michael.  Every moment.  I knew that night I wanted to spend the rest of my life with you.  I knew.  Did you know too?

I just didn't know it would be so short.  Did I tell you that I miss you?

How I wish you would come and get me out of here. The security here is insane.  I've tried every way I can think of to escape, but they always find me. They always bring me back. I don't even know if you know where I am. Do you get these letters?

I get through every day by thinking of you, hoping you're alright, hoping you'll take me out of here.  I love you, darling.

Ever Yours,

She folded the letter and slid it into an already-addressed envelope, licking it shut. Carefully tiptoeing to the door, she cracked it just an inch and peeked out. A man was sitting on a bench outside.

"Psst.  Psst!" she hissed.

He looked up and smiled. "Good afternoon, madam."

"Shhh," she whispered, glancing nervously at the security desk down the hall. "They'll hear you. Sir, could I trouble you once more to slide this into a mailbox on your way home? It's very important. Please don't let them know."

He put his hand on hers and looked seriously into her eyes. "Of course.  It will be our secret."

Relief flooded through her. "Thank you, you're so very kind.  I don't know how I'll ever be able to repay you.  Maybe someday when I get out of here...." she trailed off.

His smile faded a little, but he nodded. "Maybe someday."

Beth smiled and shut the door, retreating to a windowseat in her room and a book.  Occasionally, she stopped reading to glance out the window.  She watched the man walk to his car, turning to wave up at her, before getting in and driving away from the compound.


He passed a mailbox on his way back to work, but he didn't stop to drop off the letter.  Instead, he pushed open the door of his building and made his way up to his office on the seventh floor.  He nodded to his secretary, grabbing his messages on the way.

Dropping into his office chair, he pulled the letter from his pocket and broke the seal.  The paper was violet and smelled of roses.

"My darling Michael," he read. "I miss you..."

The phone rang, interrupting the letter.  Reaching for the TALK button, he answered, "This is Michael. How can I help you?"

Tuesday, October 23, 2012


It was a friendship that had begun to sour.  Actually, it was past the souring point, but we were still in the phase where you dread the drama of the actual "break-up" enough that you're still friends on social media and you're still hovering in each other's circles.  Not because you're still a part of each other's lives... but you just don't want to deal with the trauma that will ensue when you hit the "unfriend" button. And as long as you don't, there's still that possibility of reconciliation.

There was a day that I'd said something.  Maybe I hadn't worded it right. Maybe I hadn't taken the time to read it with other tones than the one I wrote in before I hit Send. Suffice it to say that she heard it much differently than I said it.  We're talking MILES differently here.  The venomously responsive status of her own was the moment I knew. It was the moment where I knew that there was so much anger harbored there that she was no longer able to see anything I said through anything but a haze of bitterness and hatred. It took me aback. I didn't know until then. It was also the moment I knew for sure that there would never be any reconciliation between us.

It's funny about that.  Since then, I've really noticed how the way we think of someone colors how we hear the words they say and write.  If it's someone you really like, you're more apt to hear their words through a veil of positive thoughts. You assume that their tones and intents are ones of peace and goodwill and humor, and you hear them accordingly.

On the flipside, if it's someone we don't like... or someone that we've come to have bad blood with, our perceptions of how they say things change.  No longer do we assume that they meant well.  Instead, we assume that they didn't. We hear snark and pettiness and self-pity.

I've been there too, and not just on the receiving end.  Sometimes I'll hear the words of someone through my own veil of bitterness, and I have to be very proactive about asking, "Is that fair?  Are you hearing honestly?" Many times, the answer is "No." I have to pull myself back from hearing through my hurts.  They do color, and they color dishonestly. They make you hear things sometimes that just aren't there.

I guess there's a part of us that wants to believe that the people who have hurt us are bad. We want everything they say and do to be a support of why we're right and why they were wrong, and why they continue to be wrong.  It's some sort of weird self-validation.

But I guess it's not really fair to them.  So it's good to be aware of it, to know it's there. When you find yourself awash in that bitter ocean, sometimes the awareness is as much of a lifesaver as you need to pull yourself back to the shore so that you can listen honestly and truthfully.

Thursday, October 11, 2012


Michael could hear the doorbell reverberating to the back of the house, and he waited for someone to answer the door. This was the last house he had to solicit for donations before his shift was over.  His foot tapped in mild impatience.

Finally, the door opened to reveal the cutest little old lady. Her hair was pulled into a haphazard bun on top of her head, but only half of it had made it there. The rest sprung out in every direction. None of the pieces of her outfit matched and her glasses sat crooked on her nose.

Michael smiled his winningest smile. "Good afternoon, ma'am. My name is Michael, and I'm here from the local homeless shelter..."  He launched into the speech he'd already given a hundred other times that day.  He wasn't even paying attention to the words that came out of his mouth anymore.  He put on his best puppy-dog eyes look and ended with "And I was wondering if you could possibly spare a donation for the cause?"

"Well, of course, young man. Of course I can."  Her voice was old and thin, like a sound of an old gate, rusty on it's hinges.  She opened the door wider.  "Please come in while I find where my son left my checkbook."

He protested, "Oh no, ma'am.  It's alright, I can wait--"

"Nonsense!" she fixed him with a look that would not be defied.  "You'll come right inside and sit down."

Michael reluctantly followed her into the living room and settled into the vinyl-covered loveseat. She tottered into the kitchen and called back, "Don't mind the kitty, now.  His bark is worse than his bite."

"It's alright. I have a cat of my own at ho-- Oh god."  He hadn't noticed the cat when he'd come in the door. He couldn't un-notice it now.  There he was, sprawled out on the windowseat -- the lion.  The animal opened one eye to look at the new visitor, and Michael couldn't help noticing the size of his paws or thinking about how easily that animal could jump across the room and bite the head off of his neck.

"Oh now, sonny.  Don't you worry.  He's just a big softie..."

The lion stood up on the window seat and stretched. A softie?  Michael didn't care if it was the Cowardly Lion from the Wizard of Oz. It was a lion, and he preferred his wild animals to be outside of... killing distance. His eyes widened as he watched the lion jump down and pad softly over to him. "Ma'am?" he called. "Ma'am, help?" He couldn't move.

The animal shook his mane and then sniffed at Michael's hand.  He looked up and almost seemed to smile at his prey.  The lion knew. Michael knew. They both knew who had the upper hand. The giant cat yawned, taking his sweet time, letting Michael take a good look at the size of his mouth, the sharpness of his teeth. Michael sat frozen and helpless as the lion looked him steadily in the eye, licking his chops.

He heard the woman came toddling back into the room, check in hand. "Oh Daniel, you've met our guest.  I hope you've been good!"

The lion almost winked at Michael, licked his hand, and then made his way back to his bed at the window.  Michael grabbed the check from the woman, mumbled his thanks, and practically sprinted out the door.  He was completely out of breath by the time he made it back to the car, his partner leaned up against it waiting for him.

"You knew, didn't you?" Michael demanded.

Tim chuckled.  "About Crazy Mrs Gunderson? Maybe.  Nice cat, eh?"

"You are so dead."

Thursday, October 4, 2012


The man was dressed richly, the fabric of his clothes obviously expensive.  He sat by the fireplace in the inn with a crowd gathered around him while he spun his tale.

"I drew my sword as the bandits approached. 50 of them! Sword clashed against sword as man after man fell to my skill. They came at me from every direction, but not a one could come out of it alive!"

His younger brother, Mark, stood at the bar and drained his ale. "This story gets longer every time he tells it," he muttered to the innkeeper.

The story at the fire continued. "The last man stabbed through the heart, I threw open the door of the carriage they had been robbing and found a beautiful princess with hair like gold and eyes as blue as the sea. 'My savior!' she exclaimed before she stood on her toes and bestowed me with a kiss. Of course, there were yet dragons to be slain, so I could not be waylaid, even by such a pretty lass, and I sent her on her way." Lord Maxim stood up from his seat by the fire. "And that is the story of the day I bested 50 bandits. Drinks all around!!"

The inn burst out in cheers and applause.  Mark smothered a smile and rolled his eyes at the ceiling.


Mark shoved his older brother up onto his horse and they rode home to the manor. "You know, brother, I feel like I remember that story a little differently. As I recall, we were the ones in the carriage, the lass was the one doing the saving, the bandits were three, and she refused to succumb to your charms because you hadn't bathed in six days."

Maxim glowered.  "Um, shut up?"

Mark chuckled. "You are the worst knight in shining armor ever."