Stifled (2013)

My voice was caught in my throat; words met a blockade roughly three quarters of the way through their journey to be heard. My lips shifted, curved, and moved, but no sound came out. The message felt so important at the time, and I couldn’t even convey it in what we might consider the most direct manner. I set out to write it down, maybe type it out, but my wrists were frozen, stubbornly refusing to cooperate. Tears formed, but got stuck in their ducts.

…There was no expression to be had today, it seemed, because nothing was granted an escape.

-Kortney Marie

On to bigger and better things…

The sky was solemn. Clouds bunched together, and the sun gave up trying to push its rays through them. A humid breeze blew between my fingers, and I bit back tears.  I didn’t know anything for certain other than my gut told me it was right. Scary? Yes. But only because certainty had never resonated in me like it did now. I had made a myriad of mistakes, learned the hard way. I had loved, lost, and changed. I started thinking I had no reason not to believe in my dreams, myself…and for the first time in my life, there was progress toward everything I could ever want.

The packing process was as frustrating as one might expect, and with each minor disaster that comes with gathering one’s belongings was an inner voice repeating that I was on the right track or reassurance from the man I’ll be sharing space with for the summer.  I under estimated the amount of clothing, accessories, art, journals, mementos, and necessities I had to pack up, and what should have been one trip turned into two.  The weather became unpredictable, unseasonably frigid and windy to clear and sunny.  The highway was a catastrophic farewell from the Metroplex.  I can say with certainty that there are a great many things that I will not miss about that area.

Moving often fills me with a sense of dread.  I adapt well, but I dislike change.  This time around is different.  I am not afraid of what may go wrong; I am simply optimistic about what lies ahead and who I will share it with.  There is no lingering fear that I may have made a mistake because this feels so different from past experiences…and I know that no matter what happens, I have freed myself of some very heavy burdens.  My fear of failure has been left behind, and it’s time to break new ground and pursue those dreams I’ve held onto for most of my life.

Preview: Short story in progress.

Ever hear someone jokingly tell ya that you will be unprepared? That’s where I was at that night, but there was no joke to be had. A raucous wind blew across the plain, nearly knocking me off my feet periodically. My toes were numb from walking wet, frozen ground, and my fingers ached from tightly clenched fists shoved into the pockets of a less-than-winter-ready coat. The one time it snows here happens to be the one time I push the limits of my gas tank too far, and it was ten miles to the nearest gas station. I could have called for help, but the closest contact was my misogynistic ex, and he’d be all to thrilled to take time to remind me of my inferiority. I had other friends further away but really didn’t feel like talking to anyone. I’d been fired from a job I hated, kicked out of my own band, and dumped in the form of a giggling blonde found in my bed. She deserved the bastard so far as I was concerned, and while I probably should have wept bitterly, my tears had been spent on the first two upsets, both of which held more gravity than my exit from that ungrateful moron’s life.

The wet chill rattled my bones and chapped my soul. A half-smile played at my lips as I tried to make light of my present situation. At least I’d have something other than varying forms of heartbreak to write about later. I could see lights off in the distance, and provided the wind and snow didn’t turn me to stone, I’d make it. Or the visage ahead would collapse into the mouth of some wretched machine hell bent on devouring my joy and success. The latter, though hyperbolic, seemed more likely. The fucking cloud hanging over me wouldn’t bother with someone else’s parade, and my pessimism grew exponentially as the damp weather clawed through my coat, hair, and skin.

A star shot across the sky. How it was noticeable through the clouds and snow remains a mystery, but I stopped to stare in awe. It may have been the most beautiful thing I’d seen all year. In this moment, I made a wish…because that’s what you’re supposed to do when you see one, right? I never really believed in that sort of thing, but if ever there were a moment to start, this was it, smack in the middle of the craziest winter storm the South had seen in the better part of a century.

An old blue Chevy ripped past. I couldn’t tell you how long I’d been staring at the sky, and I realize once again that I’m shivering. Shaking new fallen snow out of drenched hair, I pressed on, gas can in hand. Carry on my wayward son; Kansas spinning on the turntable in my mind. It was how I got through anything. I’ve got a hundred songs for any mood, and I can play them at will anytime. I wanted stage lights more than anything, all their blinding glory, all their warmth. I looked up to see those lights even closer, and I heaved a sigh of relief. This sigh was countered by three cars that passed without a blink my direction. Oh, humanity.

The gas station was half a mile or so forward. I recalled a promise I once made. Forward is the way… There were pinkie swears and forbidden lovemaking, lusty and greedy promises, guilt and a scar that took ages to fade. I found myself repeating this old mantra, and it churned my stomach just enough to make that gas station seem at least twice as far away. I squeezed the gas can under my arm as I choked on bittersweet memories. I was well on my way to Galveston to escape all this for a while. It didn’t matter that it was winter; I needed the sound of waves crashing to cleanse my mind. I needed to touch base with nature the only way I really knew how. I can’t really remember it, but my daddy said I was quite the beach baby. Any day, anytime, give me the ocean.

The parking lot is glimmering white instead of pavement and I nearly lose my footing as I happen on it. I laughed despite nearly kissing the ground. I practically ran through the door, desperate for warmth. The clerk raised an eyebrow and immediately insisted I let him at least drive me back to my car. I agree only because I knew that walk, and stubborn as I was, I didn’t want to do it again. I also had dry clothes in my car. I step into the restroom and nearly squeal in delight as I dry my hair with the hand dryer. I’m reminded of one of many last-minute gigs of my youth. It rained all damn day and night, and I was walking three blocks from the record store I worked at to the dilapidated venue in question. I was surprised to find they had these cursed dryers so I at least stood a chance of looking somewhat professional. The same gratitude was felt but for far less vain reasons.

The freckle-faced boy behind the counter made it a point to fill my gas can, find his coat and an obnoxiously colored beanie, and temporarily close the store while I basked in the hot air blowing over my scalp. When I stepped out, he handed me a cup of coffee, which I nearly dropped. He insisted I finish it before we left so I did, and we climbed into a shiny red truck. The drive was silent, which I was content with. I could still hear the wind in my ears, and my toes had started a dreadful tingle as the truck’s floor heater brought them back to life. We made it back to my car, and I quietly thanked the boy for the ride. We shared a unique moment in which you’re grateful neither of you turned out to be a psychotic murderer. He drove off as I dumped the gas can in my thirsty tank. I crawled into the front seat, rummaged through a bag in the passenger seat, and peeled off my wet clothes. I draped the jacket over the passenger seat and found a plastic sack to put the rest of my clothes in. I wriggled into fresh, dry leggings and tugged a tank top over my head, which was followed by a thick hoodie. I hadn’t brought another pair of boots so I tugged on my old Converse.

A sigh escaped my lips, the sort of sigh you let out when relieved but acutely aware of a long journey or project ahead. My hands rested on the steering wheel, key in the ignition, but I couldn’t bring myself to turn the engine over. Tears welled up and over their dams despite my desperate attempts to stop them. I’m already cursed, I’m already dry… My mind flashes back to October in New Orleans, a bitter chill in the air, not quite enough to warrant an actual coat. City Park is littered with blankets, music lovers, and illicit substances snuck in by a variety of means. The Silversun Pickups played that night, and I basked in the presence of then-best-friends. The festival was a perfect haze of pot, alcohol, Xanax, stargazing, giggles, smiles, and acceptance…but that week wasn’t as honest as those three days. I was mourning the death of those friendships a year after the fact. I’m giving you my trigger, but you’d better never pull it…and he did. That’s where the last twelve months of mayhem originated, and it took every bit of self-control I had not to turn my in-state road trip into one that crossed borders. I wanted to tell the truth, every slimy detail, no matter who it hurt. One more incident like my trek in the snow would likely do me in, send me on the way down just to set the record straight.  That sort of thinking never does any good so I swallowed the angry lump in my throat, told myself to focus, and started my car.  I had at least ten minutes to kill while the car warmed up, and I didn’t want to spend them in tears.  I had to focus on finishing the trek ahead.  The beach would fix it all…or that’s what I told myself.

(To be continued…)

-Kortney Marie

This Time, It’s Different (2013)

The Liar
The Cheater
The Manipulator
The Narcissist
The Inconsiderate Prick
The Abusive Misogynist
I’ve had them all.

Each left me wanton, craving something genuine or at least reciprocal.  With each heartbreak, that special someone became more a mystical being found only in dreams.  (It’s no wonder I’ve spent so much time asleep.)  I set up camp in the ethereal recesses of my mind, wishing and hoping for a dream to manifest and damn itself into reality.  I learned what it means to be lonely, what it means to be independent, what it means to be free.  I’m well versed in the use of substance as a cure-all, and I’m acutely aware that no substance will quell the empty ache associated with the want for love, the desire to give yourself over to another as an act of trust and respect.  

I waited.  I dreamed.  I hoped.  I persevered.

Eventually, I would find a love beyond my wildest dreams.

Now, my nervousness is merely a knee-jerk reaction brought on by a sordid past, and each day, it’s a habit I find a little easier to break.  I don’t second-guess his intentions or my own.  I don’t have to compete with a myriad of outer distractions for the affection I’ve craved for so long, and I am not chastised for displaying and returning the same affection in the manners that I choose to.  Giddy school-girl excitement replaces the loathing and frustration I felt in my existence.  I’m no longer hollow, not teetering on the edge of a nervous breakdown.  It’s an understanding that could remain unspoken as it’s written in our eyes and as simple as a finger tracing over a palm.  It’s soft kisses on my shoulder, a laugh shared by sunrise, dreams big enough to challenge and change fate.  It’s love made in ways I never thought possible, butterflies I can finally force into formation, time to miss each other, and the knowledge that we have so very much to live together.

This time, it’s love as it was meant to be.

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