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Golden Years

Don't stop just(10)

So, starting May 7th, I will be posting the remainder of the 1st season of my serialized fiction “Golden Years” on Patreon. Each chapter will be released there a whole WEEK early before being posted publicly to The Stag Network! That’s right, subscribers get entire chapters of stories now before they’re posted anywhere else! For more information on the series, here’s the synopsis:

GOLDEN YEARS follows a man named Boris Minsky as he comes to terms with what’s left of his life in a retirement home, and those around him. Bleak, yet hopeful, the series is a reminder that it’s never too late to start recovery and become a better you.

You can read the first 2 chapters that are already up right here, and there’s lots of other series at that site as well, with much more on the way all the time! Anyway, that’s the scoop, so I hope you guys enjoy what’s coming! Thanks for the support!

Buy My Book!                Support Me Via Patreon!

I’m Maggie. If you like this thing I made, you might like some other things I make, like my depressing webcomic “In Space, No One Can Hear You Cry”, my podcast network “The Feel Bad Network” or my writing over at Medium. You can also find some published work for sale over at my Payhip or support my work at my Patreon! Anything helps & is appreciated, thanks!

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Double Or Nothing

I used to be happy that I was my parents only child.

But now that I’m nearing 30 years of age, I’m starting to realize just how dreadfully lonely the world is when you’re the only one left behind in it, especially when you don’t even have the rest of your family with you. My family is split up, broken apart, they all hate one another and none have ever made me feel particularly welcome. I’ve talked at length here time and time again how my parents treated me growing up, and how I feel towards them nowadays. My feelings about my family are of no surprise or secret. I’m rather open about the whole thing. The one thing I hadn’t counted on, however, was regretting being an only child later on down the road.

At first, you think it comes with perks. Hey, I’m my parents only child! It’s my duty to carry on the family genetics, it’s my legacy, so they can’t draft me into the army! Turns out the pros aren’t as long lasting as the cons are. Turns out that, surprise surprise, twenty years down the road, you suddenly find yourself incredibly lonely. For someone like me, who has always had trouble making friends and forming long lasting relationships, an actual sibling would’ve been a built in companion. It would’ve meant, on the chances the relationship between us was good, having someone to turn to in times of crisis or need. Having someone to vent to. Having someone to get advice from or reassurance or anything of the sort. It would’ve meant not being so fucking alone.

But, to not have a sibling, to not have somebody to share your conquests, your failures, your doubts and your dreams? Certainly you can find the same sort of thing in a general sense with a spouse or partner, but you didn’t grow up together, you don’t have the same history, it’s just…not the same, you know? To be damned to be that eternally lonely, it’s a special type of hell.

So in the end, what we’re left with essentially is the fact that once again, I am alone. I have no sister or brother to talk to, to tell my hopes and dreams to, my aspirations or my failings. I have no familial connection and ultimately feel absolutely alone, no matter what the circumstances are. I have a girlfriend of about 3 years now, I have two dogs and a myriad of online friends, and while I don’t like socializing, I do enjoy talking to these people and yet…it’s not the same.

I’ve talked many times on this blog about loneliness, about the feeling you have being without family, without the one group that’s supposed to be there for you, love you and support you, but this is different. It’s different because a sibling is someone you grow up with, as opposed to parents, who you grow up under. They’re considered your superior, whereas your sibling is considered your equal. At least, that’s how it’s supposed to be. But without this person, there’s just…there’s no other real substitute.

So I’m not alone, by any means. I’ve got my girlfriend, our dogs, some online friends, but there’s no thing like not having a sibling. What’s worse was growing up with stepsiblings who hated you. It was almost like an insult to the idea of not having real siblings to begin with. I’m not saying stepsiblings in general are shit, just the ones I had to grow up with. Not only did I not grow up with an actual sibling, with a real connection, but instead I grew up with people who openly despised me, and it was all for the worse.

They say siblings can make up their own secret language, but when you’re alone, who the hell do you talk to.

I’m Maggie. If you like this thing I made, you might like some other things I make, like my depressing webcomic “In Space, No One Can Hear You Cry”, the satirical online newspaper of “Nowhere, US”, my podcast “Coping With Tonal Shifts In Reality” or my writing over at Medium.

Wanna donate to me directly? You can do that via PayPal! Wanna support me ongoing month to month and get content early? You can do that via Patreon! Wanna support me but can’t do it continuously? You can do that via Buy Me A Coffee! Thanks for whatever you can spare, I really appreciate it!

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Life Is A Series Of Junk

“What the fuck is it?” Sandy asked, chewing her nails as she and Derek stood over a table at the same flea market they hit every other weekend. Her free hand on her hip, her baseball cap shielding her eyes from the sun, she still couldn’t make out exactly what she was looking at. Derek was playing with the sleeves hanging from the flannel over shirt she’d tied around her waist.

“I think it’s what we in the industry refer to as…’crap’,” he finally said, making her chuckle.

“It’s a loom,” the older woman coming out of the camper behind the table said, as she opened her lawn chair and took a seat, “It’s used to weave thread, make blankets, clothes, that kind of shit.”

“Oh, that’s cool,” Sandy said as she moved down the table, continuing to look at things while Derek stood over the loom, looking down, until he heard a lighter flick a few times and noticed the older woman trying to light her cigarette. She was maybe in her late 40s, and had curly blonde hair and oval glasses. She crossed her legs as she lifted the cigarette to her lips and took a long drag.

“So, what, you’re some sort of seamstress?” Derek asked and the woman laughed, shaking her head.

“Hand making clothes in this day and age? What’re you, stupid? No, this is just an amalgamation of my moms and grandmothers crap. You know how it is, you try and work for a number of years but that isn’t enough so now you try and sell the things you never wanted to sell because of the emotional attachment you’ve got to them since the people they belonged to are gone now, simply to make enough money to buy a frozen dinner because nothing in this country is cheap anymore,” the woman said and Derek nodded.

“I do indeed know how it is,” he said, “It’s ridiculous that people older than me have to live the same way that I do, or worse. At that age you should be at least semi well off enough to be able to take care of yourself and not worry, but no. It’s sick.”

“Is it hard?” Sandy asked, coming back and holding a ceramic pug in her hands, “Also how much is this?”

“That’s 2 bucks and the loom is 35,” the woman said, shrugging, “Can’t charge too much or you’re just as exorbitant as the people you’re badmouthing. You just can’t fuckin win anymore.”

“Is it hard? Ya know, to…to make clothes?” Sandy asked, “I teach ballet, and I’d like to maybe make some costumes by hand for some productions in the fall. Is it hard? Does it come with, like, an instruction manual or something?”

“Uh, ya know what, there might be actually, lemme go check,” the woman said, rising from her seat and heading back into the camper. Derek slid his hands into his pockets and rocked back and forth on his feet, glancing at the ceramic pug in Sandys hands.

“The fuck is that ugly thing?” he asked.

“Don’t talk that way about Maurice,” Sandy said, gently petting it, “He’s my child and I love him.”

“Here we go!” the woman said, hauling a small accordion container out of the camper, “I knew there were some instructions with it! God bless packrat grandmothers, am I right? Now I have tons of crap to haul around and sell only just enough of it at a price low enough to just break even on gas money.”

Derek watched Sandy pull out her wallet and start to pay the woman. Her teaching gig was paying pretty well these days, and Derek wasn’t doing too terribly himself, but their funds weren’t anything to be wowed by just yet, not even close. The woman, Pam, said she’d help them carry the loom to their car, since they had no other way to get it there and Sandy was already holding the ceramic pug. As Pam lifted the loom and the three of them headed off through the crowd of people, for the first time in a long time, things felt pretty okay.

“So, you two come here often?” Pam asked.

“Try to every other weekend,” Derek said, “We’re bleeding hearts for piles of junk.”

“It’s why we’re dating,” Sandy said, making Pam smile, “But yeah, we try to buy things on the cheap and even though you’re right, it’s not fair the markdown you have to give your own belongings just to try and survive, it’s still cheaper than a department store. Plus, I don’t know where the fuck I’m gonna find a loom without getting into a time machine and traveling back to Salem.”

Derek stopped, trying to remember if they were in fact going in the right direction to reach the car. Just then as they waited, Sandy felt a tug at her pants leg and turned to see a little girl, maybe seven years old in overalls with braided hair looking up at her. Derek and Pam continued to discuss the direction while Sandy knelt down to the girls eye level.

“Are you okay, sweetheart?” Sandy asked.

“I need help,” the girl said, “You’re a girl, so I can trust you. I don’t know where my parents are.”

“Okay, uh…just hold on right here for a second, alright?” Sandy asked, standing back up and tapping Derek on the shoulder, then thumbed over her shoulder at the girl. Pam and Derek craned their necks over her shoulders and saw the little girl, both realizing what they were getting into. Finally, after a few moments of discussion, Sandy turned back around and knelt back down to the girl.

“Okay, I want you to take my hand and we’re going to walk around and see if we can find them, alright? Do you remember where you saw them last?” she asked, and the little girl nodded, smiling, making Sandy feel all the more maternal, “Alright then, take my hand and grip it firmly. We’ll find your parents, I promise.”

The four of them continued walking, now with a different goal besides the car in mind.

“There were lots of lamps,” the girl said, “They were looking at lamps, and there was an old guy with a hat, but it was wide, like my grandpa wears when he’s fishing.”

“Okay, that just about describes every single guy here,” Derek said, making Pam chuckle as she finally tossed her cigarette to the ground and stomped it out with her boot.

Sandy sighed and looked down at the girl. She looked remarkably like herself as a child, and it bothered her, but she wasn’t sure why. See, Sandy’s mother wouldn’t have ever let her out of her sight. Her mother was like a hawk, never letting Sandy do anything on her own, always planning her entire life to a tee; her outfits, her playdates, her meals. For a split second, Sandy wanted to take this girl and save her from this life, but then she quickly remembered that this girl wasn’t her.

Suddenly, in the midst of this crowd, Sandy realized she’d lost Derek and Pam, and she and the girl were alone in the middle of this entire flea market between everyone else. The girl was looking around, but Sandy’s eyes were glued to this girl. Sandy looked around for a moment, trying to see if she could see hide or hair of Derek or Pam, and when she looked back, she found herself staring this girl in the eyes, and the girl had her childhood face.

Sandy start to breath faster and faster. Her chest tightened, her fingers wrapped around the ceramic pug started to twinge. She was having an anxiety attack and Derek was nowhere to be found. Sandy fell to her knees, unable to look back up, unsure if she was scaring this little girl now, and then suddenly, she felt the girls little hand on her head. Sandy looked up and the girl was standing there, her face normal again.

“You seem scared,” she said, “I was scared, but you helped me, so I’m helping you. Don’t be scared, okay?”

And then Sandy felt a hand on her shoulder. She looked up and saw a man in a suit looking down at her, trying to help her up. As she wobbled to her knees, the man held her by her shoulders and looked in her eyes firmly.

“Are you okay?” he asked, “Ma’am?”

“I…think so…yeah,” Sandy managed to whimper. She watched a woman approach the little girl and scoop her up, squeezing her tightly as the man smiled at Sandy.

“Thank goodness. We saw you with our daughter from across the crowd because you were on your knees and people were starting to stare. Are you sure you’re okay?” he asked again.

“I’m fine, yes,” Sandy said, “Are you-”

“Yeah, we’re Anna’s parents,” the man said, “I’m Arthur. Thank you so much for staying with her, I couldn’t imagine if somebody much worse had-”

“Sandy!” Derek said, finally reaching her and hugging her, kissing her cheeks, “Are you alright? What happened? I turned around and you were gone!”

“I’m okay…” Sandy said, “Can we just go please?”

“Yeah, yeah Pam helped me find the car, everything’s all loaded and everything,” Derek said. As he took her hand and started to leave, Sandy felt the man slip something into her hand. As she walked away with Derek, she looked back at Anna as she smiled and waved, being carried off in the opposite direction by her mother, and then her eyes wandered down to what Arthur had pushed into her hand. It was a business card. Arthur Portis, Psychologist. Once they’d said goodbye to Pam and paid her, Derek and Sandy got into their car and started on their way home. Halfway there, it began to rain. As Sandy rested her face against the window, watching the raindrops race one another down the glass, stroking the ceramic pug with her hands, she couldn’t get the girls face out of her mind, her own mothers voice running through her head.

“Sandy, do you wanna stop and get dinner on the way home?” Derek asked, “Oh, also, I texted Brittney and she said she has a ton of extra cloth and stuff for you, so…Sandy?”

Sandy was far away, remembering the afternoon she’d gone outside in her ballet slippers for only a split second to pet their neighbors dog, a pug, and before she knew it, her mothers hand was gripped around her wrist like shark teeth, her nails digging into Sandy’s soft skin, screaming at her for getting dirt and mud on her ballet slippers before recital. Because of this, she didn’t let Sandy go to practice recital, and instead Sandy sat upstairs in her bedroom, staring at her slippers hanging from the wall, caked with dirt, tears in her eyes and swore she’d one day succeed at dancing, simply so she could spite her mother, proving that no matter what she did to her, she’d never take dance away from her.

Sandy fell asleep before they got home. When she awoke, she found Derek had carried her inside, made her some tea and put her in bed. She was still hugging the ceramic pug to her chest. She cried, but only for a few minutes, and then she fell back asleep.

Sandy Price was in recovery, and it was slow and it was hard, but she knew in the end it’d be worth it, no matter what it took to get there.

I’m Maggie. If you like this thing I made, you might like some other things I make, like my depressing webcomic “In Space, No One Can Hear You Cry”, the satirical online newspaper of “Nowhere, US”, my podcast “Coping With Tonal Shifts In Reality” or my writing over at Medium.

Wanna donate to me directly? You can do that via PayPal! Wanna support me ongoing month to month and get content early? You can do that via Patreon! Wanna support me but can’t do it continuously? You can do that via Buy Me A Coffee! Thanks for whatever you can spare, I really appreciate it!

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Wear My Art On My Sleeve

When I was a little girl, I helped my step grandma complete a puzzle one summer.

I don’t recall it perfectly, just that it was some stupid, soothing almost Thomas Kinkadesque picture of a stream or some shit like that, and when we were done, she had it glued together and framed, and gave it to me. It hung in my bedroom for many years, but only in the last few years have I realized I don’t know where it’s gone. Perhaps my stepfather took it when my parents divorced, I mean it did come from his mother so that would make sense I suppose, but I had a hand in that too. A part of that is mine. There’s so much that’s just gone now, so little left for me to hang onto, that I cling to anything I’ve had a hand in, which is why I defend my art so vehemently. Even if I myself am not good enough, I know with full force that my work is good enough. The problem is, a lot of art is so introspective, something that will make people think and analyze themselves and question things, but nobody wants to do that. Everyone is too happy being spoonfed what to think, what opinions to have, and then being told they came up with said thoughts and opinions in the first place, so they can feel clever.

I want this to be made perfectly clear. I am not saying I deserve anything, any praise, recognition or what have you. My work might, who knows, but me as a person? God no. I don’t deserve to be famous or popular simply for making something people like. People like my artwork, that’s a separate entity from me. I just want to be able to do it, to live comfortably enough doing it, and to have people enjoy it. I just want to make others happy, feel connected to something, to make them…not…feel like me. I am so unhappy, that I work actively to make those around me feel good, so they never have to feel as low as I’ve felt, or do feel. I want to make them better. I want to make them what I’m not. What I can’t be. Look at how unhappy artists are. Sylvia Plath put her head in an oven, Van Gogh lopped his ear off. I’m not saying I am anywhere as good as these people, because heaven knows I am not, but I don’t want anyone to feel as bad as I do.

So many people tell me to give up, that maybe I should delegate my art to being a “hobby”, saying it doesn’t “provide for me”. No. I would rather starve than fail at the one thing I was put here to do. I haven’t been doing this for 90% of my life to have it be boiled down to a fucking “hobby”. So many people hate their jobs, and keep the things they’d love to do instead as their careers as their “hobbies” simply because it doesn’t “provide” for them, but where’s the fucking logic in that. If I’m already this unhappy doing the thing I love, the thing I was put here to do, why the fuck would I ever do something that’d make me even unhappier, with less time for the thing I love to do? Perhaps if my parents had wanted me, if my family had loved me, if I had been fulfilled in that sort of way, I could say “Okay, well, this is just a fun thing to do on the side”, but the way I see it, when the only thing I’m here to do isn’t good enough, then there’s no reason for me to be here at all.

Art…it’s all that I have. It’s been my entire life. An escape from the ever ongoing existential dread that is my existence. Movies, books, television, music, comics, painting, drawing, video games. Art in all its glorious outcomes, it has been my friend. I came home everyday, from a school where students endlessly harassed me and teachers were of no help, to parents who yelled at me for not being better and made no effort to really know me or help me, who told me I’d never be good enough. I came home to that, every single fucking day, and having art, any kind of art, any medium at all, be my only escape…

…I have to give back to it, for all that it’s given me.

Hey. I’m Maggie. If you like this thing I made, then maybe you’d like these other things I made, like my webcomic “In Space, No One Can Hear You Cry”, my writing over at Medium or my podcast, “Coping With Tonal Shifts In Reality”. If you really like what I do and really want to support me, you can either donate directly to the PayPal or help out at my Patreon. Thank you so much for reading, it means the world to me.

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The Black Sheep

There’s no questioning it, I am the black sheep of my family.

Even back when I was involved with my family, I was always the odd one out. Whether it was christmas spent together or some vacation, or hell even just day to day life, I was always the one who didn’t belong. So it only makes sense that I’d come to be the black sheep. About three years ago, after leaving my abusive family behind in the dust physically, I cut off all contact with them on social media, leaving them forever in the dark about my doings and whereabouts, not that they were ever remotely interested to begin with, as the only reason any of them had friended me on Facebook in the first place as simply to relay information to my mother so she could use it against me. When my girlfriend and I visited California, where I’m originally from, a few times in the last two years, I never saw any of them and the few texts I did receive possibly seeing any of them were mostly, “Why don’t you talk to your mother? Why do you talk about her that way!?”

So I’m the black sheep. But, because I have no siblings and nobody really cares about me, I’m not one of those cool gay aunts that people routinely ask about, who’s shrouded in mysteriousness but who is really way cooler than my nephew/nieces parents. No. I’m just the one who is completely forgotten. Nobody asks about me. Nobody wonders what happened. Nobody tries to contact me. On one hand, it’s wonderful, because I have nobody left to let down and disappoint except myself, but on the other hand a part of me wonders what was so wrong with me that even the people I was born into don’t care about me. It’d be one thing if I was just the sort of black sheep I mentioned before, the one who’s shunned her relatives herself, who is surrounded by questions, but I’m not. I’m the opposite. I’m the one who got shunned. I’m not the one people ask questions about. I’m the one nobody asks questions about. After a lifetime of abuse, you’d think that this would be a dream come true, not having to deal with those people anymore, but…

I just never felt welcome anywhere with any of them. Even though my extended family, aunts and uncles and whatnot, weren’t directly abusive to me, most of them also never really made me feel all that welcome or genuinely loved. I always felt out of place and only there because I just happened to have been born into this group of people. Rarely did anyone ever bother to actually get to know my interests, so christmas or birthday gifts were always relatively generic. Clothes. Not even clothes I liked. Media. A lot of time, media I didn’t like, more of a “oh, she likes movies! This just came out on DVD, get it for her!”. Even to this day, I wonder who really knows me. It’s not like it’s that hard to know who I am or what I like. I post things I like to social media, I talk about my interests & hobbies openly. It just seems like nobody bothers to listen. And I’m not saying this in a “Why doesn’t anyone pay attention to me!” sort of way, this is more of a “Well, I guess….I’m just not all that worthy of being known or cared about” sort of way. See, the thing about abuse, especially abuse from people like your family, who’re supposed to love and care about you, is that that then carries over into every other relationship you ever form from then on.

I have people I know who care about me. Certain close friends. My girlfriend. And yet…a part of me is absolutely convinced they don’t. That they’re doing it out of pity, or shame, or because they feel they have to because nobody else has. I know this isn’t true, but when you become so used to abuse, so used to it that you need it to survive, then you believe it no matter what. Call it stockholm syndrome if you must, I don’t care what label you assign it, but what I do know is that I suffer from it and I suffer greatly. What’s even more sick is still missing it. Is missing these people despite knowing damn well what they did to me and how they made me feel. I’m the black sheep. I’m the deserter. Not because I deserted, but because I was driven out. They had an entire flock, and saw me and went, “She’s not like the others, get her out of here.” Even growing up, the few friends I did have, I always had to contact them, they never made an effort to contact me. I’m not just a black sheep to my family. I’m a black sheep to every single relationship.

Then, you might meet some people who make you trust others again. Who make you believe that you are worthy of being loved, are capable of finding people who care about you. You’re so starved for attention and affection and kindness, that you latch onto them and trust them deeply. Then they hurt you too, in ways similar to or worse than the others before them have, and make you really retreat back into your hole. They shatter that trust they’ve built, because they were using you or just didn’t really care all that much. That’s what happened this summer. Someone I trusted for 4 years, someone who considered me a part of their family, they in turn wound up being just as bad as my parents, and destroyed any hope I could have for trusting others again for a very long time, and they took no responsibility for it. No, like all other abusers they wanted the abused to take the blame. Once again, I’m the black sheep, cut off from contact of someone I trusted for years.

So fine. I’m the black sheep. I’ve accepted that, and you know what? You all need a herd to be with, but I don’t, and I’m finding that maybe it’s better this way, because it’s taught me to survive on my own. To be strong. That nobody except me can tell me how worthy I am and how capable of success I can be.

Baa, baa, black sheep,
Have you any shame?
Yes, sir, yes, sir,
Three bags the same;
One for the parents,
And one for the “friends”,
And none for myself
Because that’s where it ends.

I’m Maggie Taylor. Did you like this thing? If so, well, I make other things you might like too. You check out my webcomic “In Space, No One Can Hear You Cry”, or my writing on Medium. You can also submit a piece to my new site, “Sad Party”, where I encourage others to share their struggles with mental illness so others don’t feel as alone. Also working on some other big projects for the end of the year, so be on the lookout for those! Thanks for reading!

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Terrible, Thanks For Asking

Sandy Price was sitting at a table, waiting for Reggie Carter to arrive. She wasn’t dressed sharp, as one normally would when meeting with an old friend, and instead had opted for an old torn t-shirt and pajama pants. Thankfully, they were only meeting at a cafe and not somewhere fancy, so she could get away with it. A waiter came by the table and handed her a menu, and she looked up at him, pushing her hair behind her ear.

“Thank you,” she said politely.

“Do you know what you want?” the waiter asked, “Or what you may want to drink?”

“I’m just going to have an iced tea and your most expensive, artery clogging sandwich,” Sandy said and the waiter nodded.

“One slice of quick death coming right up,” he said, before turning and heading off into the cafe. Sandy opened her menu, simply for something to read until Reggie showed up, and after a few moments, she heard a voice in front of her.

“Isn’t it weird how they put how many calories are in each item now?” Reggie asked, taking her seat across from Sandy, “People used to make fun of calorie counters, and now McDonalds puts how many calories are in a hashbrown. Someone will laugh at Global Warming and yet turn off every lightbulb in their house for an hour in an effort to ‘Go Green’ for a facebook event. The hypocrisy and the associated blindness that goes hand in hand is hilarious and yet terrifying.”

Reggie was wearing a nice blue, backless dress and what looked to be a very realistic, well styled blonde wig. She looked beautiful, and at first glance, you’d never suspect she was sick. Sandy was surprised at how seeing her made her feel good.

“It’s just amazing how quickly society adapts to whoever is calling the shots now, and then tries to deny they were ever any other way. ‘Oh, what, being nerdy is in now? Well, good thing I’ve always been a nerd and never shoved anyone in a locker before’. It’s ridiculous,” Reggie said, sitting down as Sandy watched the waiter set her sandwich and drink down on the table, before turning to Reggie.

“What can I get for you ma’am?” he asked.

“I’ll just have a slice of pumpkin pie please,” she said and he nodded, heading off back inside as Reggie folded her hands and watched Sandy quietly take a bit from her sandwich, trying to talk with her mouth full.

“You loof goo’,” Sandy said, chewing and swallowing, “You look good,” she repeated, “I mean, your hair looks nice and-”

“Oh, it’s a wig,” Reggie said, “I mean, it’s a high end model, but it’s a wig. Not that I’m embarrassed or ashamed of it. We all deal with what we’re handed in life, right? Some people got rich. I got sick. It is what it is.”

“You don’t sound particularly sad about being on deaths doorstep,” Sandy said.

“I’m not on deaths door. More like deaths driveway. Still, it happens to everyone, and to some people it happens sooner, so why be upset about something that’ll happen to all of us eventually anyway? Besides, it’s not a total lost cause. There’s still some hope it’ll get better,” Reggie said as Sandy sipped her drink.

“That’s the spirit I guess,” Sandy said.

“How’re you doing? It’s been so long,” Reggie asked, sounding genuine in her interest. Sandy pushed her hair back and pulled it up into a bun before thinking for a moment.

“It’s okay. I’m working as a dance teacher for ballet, mostly for young girls right now, which is fine. Living with a guy named Derek. I’m…we’re….I don’t know what we are. We just are. We live together, sometimes we sleep together, it’s all as vague as the rest of my life to be honest. Not speaking to my mother much. She’s not happy about my job. Not much exciting going on,” Sandy said, her eyes sitting on her drink the entire time.

“…well, it doesn’t sound like a bad life, exactly. I mean, you’re doing what you like, right? And you’ve got someone by your side. That’s better than most people I’ve spoken to from college.”

“Is it really worth having someone by your side if you’re not sure you want them there?” Sandy asked, suddenly surprising even herself by her own statement as it left her mouth, and she clenched her fists tight, “I mean…not that I don’t like having Derek, but-”

“You don’t have to explain, Sandy, I get it,” Reggie said, “Believe me, getting sick really puts into perspective who really cares about you.”

“Really?”

“You’d be surprised,” Reggie said as the waiter came back and set her pie down before leaving again. Reggie picked up her fork and started in on it before continuing, “I mean, they say family is supposed to be the one constant you can always count on, but wow, you really don’t know just how everything comes with an asterisk attached to it. The Asterisk Effect is astounding.”

“The Asterisk Effect?” Sandy asked, continuing eating her sandwich.

“It’s something I came up with with my therapist,” Reggie said, slicing another piece of pie, “It’s like when you go to buy a car, you know, or you sign up for a website, and they have that long list of terms and conditions, and then there’s a whole section at the bottom in fine print because something above had an asterisk next to it, you know? It’s what really matters regarding this contract. The dirty part that everyone tries to sweep under the rug. Everything is affected by The Asterisk Effect. Your family will always love and support you, so long as you don’t become an inconvenience. That sort of thing.”

“I guess I never really thought about it like that before…” Sandy said, mumbling.

“So I guess the thing you really have to do when you look at your life, the things and the people in it, is are they affected by The Asterisk Effect? You care about Derek, but is there a caveat? Is there fine print?” Reggie asked, eating some of her pie crust.

Sandy leaned back in her seat and folded her arms, thinking long and hard about the last few months with her and Derek. Thinking about what they’d said, done, how they’d interacted between themselves and around others. After a few moments, she smiled as Reggie put her fork down and wiped her face on her napkin.

“What?” Reggie asked.

“There isn’t any fine print,” Sandy said, “There’s no Asterisk Effect. In fact, my relationship with Derek is probably the one thing in my life that isn’t affected by that. We’re so open, we talk about everything, we hold nothing back, so there’s nothing to be brought down by it. No. There’s no caveat.”

“Well,” Reggie said, “There ya go.”

Sandy smiled, looking up at Reggie now, feeling better than she had in weeks. After lunch, the girls shopped for a bit before going their own ways. They made plans to meet again in a few weeks and Sandy told her that if she needed any help, being driven to appointments or anything, to call her. When Sandy got into her car, she thought about Derek, and started driving to his part time job he’d recently picked up, doing photo editing in a darkroom downtown. Sandy got there in scant minutes, got into the building, and found the darkroom, which she entered without a second thought. Derek turned to face her.

“Hey, be careful, any light could-” he started before she interrupted him.

“I need to ask you something,” she said, “Is there any fine print between us? Is there…is there anything that would ever make you change how you feel towards me, or about me, or us in general?”

“I mean, if you tried to kill me or something that might sour the deal, but otherwise, not really,” Derek said.

Sandy waited a second, took her hands off her hips and locked the door, and approached Derek, pushing her lips against his.

Hey. I’m Maggie. Did you like this thing I made? Then you might like some other things I make, like my depressing space webcomic, “In Space, No One Can Hear You Cry”, or my new site “Sad Party”, where I encourage others to share how low they feel so others feel better. You can also donate to my SquareCash. Thanks and enjoy!

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I Hate The Sound Of Your Voice

It’s amazing how easily you can forget someones voice.

I spent a lot of years with people, be them step-siblings, pretend friends or family members, and yet…yet I cannot recall a single voice for so many of them. Some of these are people I spent so much time with, a number of years close to, and still…I can picture their faces clear as day, but their voices…it’s impossible for me to recall them. Perhaps it’s because humans are more visual than auditory creatures, that would be one reason at least, but I still think it’s interesting because some of them were people I did care about. If this was just happening to people who hurt me, people I hated, people I wanted to forget, that’d be one thing. Blocking them out so I could move on. I’d accept that. But this happens to people I loved, like my grandparents. Ex girlfriends. It just confuses me is all.

But maybe I’ve just got a rather shitty memory. I mean, I obviously can remember some things with perfect clarity, like rooms, but when it comes to other things, I can’t seem to even remember what I ate yesterday. The thing is, I can remember songs with no problems, I can recite entire film scripts from memory, I can recall whole podcasts after listening to them a few times, but when it comes to just voices, and only voices from people I’ve known, I can’t remember a single one if I’m not still interacting with them on an audio day to day basis. The worst part is that I hate my own voice, so being online for as long as I’ve been since the AOL days, texting, chatrooms and more all are a godsend to me. If I don’t have to listen to myself, I will feel so much happier. Why do I hate my own voice? Well, part of it’s because I wish it sounded more feminine, but also because for as long as I can remember, people have been telling me to shut up, be quiet, or some variation of those sentiments. Because of that, I feel like if I open my mouth, it’ll somehow anger somebody somewhere.

What really sucks is the people I love the most are the voices I can no longer remember, and the people who’ve hurt me are the voices I still hear to this day, like my mother or the friend I lost this past summer. It’s like my brain has been conditioned to believe that I deserve to suffer and feel uncomfortable, partly because people have told me that I deserve to suffer and be uncomfortable, so those are the voices it does remember. But the people whos voices I want to remember? My grandmother? Old, close friends? No bueno, senorita. No. I must, at all times, acknowledge those who’ve hurt me, even if they aren’t hurting me anymore. I think, the only positive I can parse from this, is that my brain does this so I don’t let my guard down. So I go, “Ok, I remember how poorly I’ve been treated, and I am not letting myself be treated that way anymore by anyone again.” That’s the only conclusion I can come to that has a happy ending to it.

So I don’t remember the voices of those who loved me, those I cared about. But…sometimes, when I dream, I see them, and I hear them, and it’s like they’re there again, and for a little while, I feel okay again.

Like this post? Then you might like some of my other stuff, like my depressing space webcomic “In Space, No One Can Hear You Cry” or my new site “Sad Party”, where I encourage people to share how badly they feel so others can not feel so alone. If you like this stuff, you could also maybe donate to my SquareCash. It’d be greatly appreciated. Thanks!