0

Nothing Important Happened Today

It was a gloomy day in late April, in late afternoon.

Charlie Harper stood in the cool winds in her dress, hands in her overcoat pockets, as she looked down at the grave in front of her. She took one hand out and wiped her nose and glanced around the graveyard before looking back down at the headstone. If anyone had looked at her usually vibrantly blue eyes today, they’d almost appear black.

“Was it a lovely service?” a woman asked, approaching,as Charlie turned to look at her, checking her watch.

“You’re almost two hours late,” Charlie replied.

“Like he was ever on time for anything,” the woman, her sister Miranda, replied, “…where’s Mason?”

“At the car,” Charlie said, “He left his coat in the car. I told him that it would be cold, but no, he has to prove the weather wrong. Just because the sky is clear one minute doesn’t mean it’ll be fine the next.”

“God help him if he ever winds up in the eye of a tornado,” Miranda said, making Charlie smirk, “So…what was it like?”

“…it was weird, man,” Charlie said, “Really…just…weird. It’s weird to stand there and watch people sob and grieve over a monster, and they all expect you to be sad too. People act as if death deifies you, absolves you of all your wrongdoings, as if you never did them in the first place. It’s so strange. What’s worse is everyone knew what a horrible person he was and yet they still reacted this way, like he was saint of some kind who deserved better.”

“Boy, I’m sure glad I was on time,” Miranda said dryly, taking out and unwrapping an energy bar from her purse, biting into it, “Did you say anything?”

“No,” Miranda said, “They offered me the option, but I didn’t take it. I wouldn’t have known what to say. You can’t talk about how your father was a monster at this funeral, that’s just sort of frowned upon.”

“Did mom?”

“She wanted to, but she was afraid to. Understandable, I suppose. I don’t agree with it, but hell, I wasn’t going to say anything either, so who am I to judge,” Charlie said, just as Mason showed up at her side, pulling the zipper up on his coat, smiling at Miranda.

“Hey Mandy,” he said, and she waved, “What’re we talking about?”

“Societal pressures regarding familial relationships,” Miranda said.

“Yeah, it’s kind of a bitch,” Mason said, sighing, running one hand through his medium length scruffy hair and putting the other hand in his coat pocket, “After my aunt Clarence died, I had to clean out her things because nobody else would and I thought that was strange, but once I got into her belongings, reading her thoughts and stuff from diaries and whatnot, I quickly realized why nobody else wanted to expose themselves to that toxicity.”

“And yet,” Charlie said.

“And yet,” Mason picked back up, “when it comes time to send her off, suddenly everyone is crying, singing her praises, talking about all the good she’s done, as if that cancels out all the terrible things she did. It was so weird to see. I couldn’t wrap my mind around it. Was it for public performance? As a family unit, are you supposed to love and support one another, but then in private you can turn right around and talk about what a scumbag Cousin Tom is? I don’t know. I still don’t get it, and I likely never will.”

“I remember,” Miranda said, eating most of the energy bar and handing it to Mason, who happily took and finished it, “being, I guess, like, fourteen? Yeah, that sounds about right. Anyway, I wanted to go out and see a friend of mine named Megan and dad wouldn’t let me go because it was too late at night. Now, granted, that’s understandable, but I snuck out and went anyway, and when I came back, he told me I had to sleep outside if I wasn’t going to listen to him. He started locking me out of the house at night and I had to sleep in the plastic playhouse we had in the backyard, remember that one?”

“God, that thing was to tiny, you must have been cramped,” Charlie said.

“It was awful, and then he started to claim I didn’t care about the family or else I would try harder to be allowed to come back inside, like living indoors isn’t an inalienable right to a child,” Miranda said, “Sick. The man was sick.”

“I remember mom gave me some birth control in my senior year, and I had borrowed a hammer from his work bench to put some posters up in my bedroom and he went looking for it in my room, and he found the birth control and not only was he upset, but he also told me I was worth less value now because I’d so easily ‘given myself up’. I never told him mom gave it to me. I didn’t want her to have to deal with that, because the way I saw it, she had to deal with his maniacal ass every day as it was, so.”

“I am so glad my parents didn’t hate me,” Mason said, “Hearing these sorts of things, it really makes me appreciate what I had growing up. This sounds awful.”

The three of them stood there for a few moments, feeling the light drizzle of rain starting to hit their faces. Mason sighed and shook his head.

“I guess the question really ends up being, do you let someone off the hook just because they’re dead, or do you always hold them accountable for their wrongdoings? I mean, it’s hard once they die because they can’t technically atone for anything, they can’t better themselves, you know? They’re dead. At least if they were alive, you have the possibility that they might try and get better, but who knows, I guess,” Mason said.

“I think it comes down to how you feel personally,” Charlie said, “I…I can’t forgive him. Maybe at some point down the road I’ll feel comfortable enough to, but not now.”

“Yeah, I agree,” Miranda said, “And frankly, I doubt he ever would’ve changed. He wasn’t the kind of person to change.”

“Hello,” a young woman named Aubrey said, standing behind the headstone, as they all looked towards her, surprised by her sudden appearance. She pushed her bangs out of her face and exhaled, looking at each one of them before adding, “Am I interrupting?”

“Not really,” Charlie said, “Can we help you?”

“I’m…I guess I missed the service but that’s okay, I don’t know how comfortable I would’ve been anyway. I read about his death in the papers and wanted to come,” Aubrey said, “I never got to meet him.”

“Did you know him?” Miranda asked, her brow furrowing.

“He was my dad, apparently,” Aubrey replied, running her coral fingernails on the top of the headstone, “Um…I never, like I said, I never got to meet him, but I felt like I should at least come say goodbye, or something. Are you guys related to him?”

“We’re his kids,” Miranda said, “Except for Mason,” she added, pointing at him.

“What was he like?” Aubrey asked, smiling, pushing hair behind her ear.

Charlie was hit with a sudden wave of nausea. What was her moral responsibility here? Cover up this mans awful behaviors to another young woman, or let her believe that her father was a wonderful man? She hadn’t met him. She could build him up into a hero for herself, someone to admire, aspire to be like, someone she really needed. Miranda opened her mouth to respond, but Charlie beat her to it.

“He was very smart,” Charlie said, “He was a very smart, disciplined person, very dedicated to his work. His coworkers all loved him.”

If she had to talk about him, why not sing praises that were actually true? At least she wasn’t lying.

“All my mother ever told me about him was that they were together one night, resulting in me, and that he had always wanted a daughter but didn’t feel like he was prepared to handle it. I don’t think they ever spoke after I was born. I think she thought it’d be better that way, for both of us.”

Miranda felt a pang of anger towards their own mother; why had this girls mother saved her from having to live through the abuse they had to endure? That wasn’t fair. But then, it also wasn’t fair to be mad at the girl, for she’d done nothing wrong than be conceived by a monster, and then given the chance to avoid his horrid abuse.

“He wasn’t really ready for us, either,” Miranda said, adding to Charlies truth now, “So, you’re not alone in that. We were going to go for some lunch, if you’d like to join us, we can talk about him more.”

“I’d like that a lot,” Aubrey said, smiling as they all started walking back to the parking lot. As they got further away from the graveyard, Miranda’s cell phone rang, and she fished it from her purse, answering.

“Hello?” she asked, stopping and letting the others go ahead of her so she could speak in private, “Yes, I’m just going to get some lunch and then I’ll be back to finish the presentation. I know, I’m sorry, I had some errands to run. No, no, it was nothing important. I’ll see you shortly.”

With that, she ended the call, put the phone back in her purse and headed to her car.

[this is a repost from a Medium article I wrote]

Buy My Book!  Support Me Via Patreon!  Visit My Online Store!

I’m Maggie. If you like this thing I made, you might like some other things I’ve done, like my 2015 novel “You Ruined Everything”, my podcast network “The Feel Bad Network” or my feed over at Ello. You can also find some published work for sale over at my Payhip , buy prints/stickers and more at my online store on Big Cartel, or support my work at my Patreon! Anything helps & is appreciated, thanks!

Advertisements
0

To Smother Yourself In Glitter

I want my eventual death to be spectacular. I am an artist, so I want my funeral to be as pretentious and incoherent as possible. I want my coffin to be lined with black velvet, while a chorus of girls dressed from head to toe in bird feathers and black leotards sing a tabernacle choir version of Blondie’s “One Way Or Another” as somebody reads off my last internet browsing sessions before I died from having too much lesbian sex. Then, they’ll haul me off in a station wagon covered entirely in plant life to a grave where they’ll lower my coffin in as they toss glitter on top of it, ushering me into the gayest afterlife imaginable.

I’m saying this in a sort of tongue and cheek manner (though, now all I can think about is pretty bird girls in leotards), because art has allowed me to continue living. To categorize my illnesses into a multitude of mediums that allow expression where before there could be no expression. If I sat down and tried to talk openly about my mental health, people may become concerned, or not care, or not take me seriously. But, you write a tragic song, a moving novel, a intense film and suddenly everyone cares about the mental health struggle. We use art to provide insight into how sick we are, or at least I do.

And while this method hasn’t necessarily helped anyone else understand me or my plight, it’s at least helped me come to terms with myself and my issues. I’m an artist first. I’m a mentally ill person second. The two are terribly intertwined by this point, but that’s a good thing. There’s only two things I’ve had since I was a little girl; the arts and poor mental health. It only makes sense to prioritize them at this point, especially if I can put them together. For as long as I can recall, I’ve been doing art. For as long as I can recall, I’ve been doing art while everything in my life has been crumbling around me and I’ve been abused up and down and sideways. When I was in elementary school, I was so miserable and unhappy. None of the kids liked me for no particular reason, teachers continued insisting that I be tested for Autism, which my parents flat out turned down, and yet, at the end of the day, I would come home and I would draw or paint or write. I would create a world I could live in since the world I inhabited so clearly didn’t want me. Somewhere I could feel I belonged.

I want to be smothered by glitter. I want to drown in a sea of paint. I want to be hanged by yarn and wear a death mask made from papier-mache. I want to be remembered for what I’ve created, not what I suffered from.

I grew up in a rather cultured household, despite its paltry offerings of “love” and “acceptance” and “parental guidance”. My stepfather encouraged me to read, we went to broadway shows with rather good regularity, I took horse back riding lessons, and in elementary school, my class was taken to see a production of Madame Butterfly. Art, whether it was intended to be or not, was a pervasive feature of my youth, so much so that I gravitated towards it as a career goal.

While I’m not ashamed of my illnesses, as I stated in my previous article, I also do not wish for them to be the sole identifying factor of my identity. So many talented (not that I’m talented, I’m just using this as an example), intelligent (not that I’m intelligent either) people throughout history have become boiled down to that one factoid of remembrance instead of their lifes work. Bring up Sylvia Plath and instantly someone else goes, “Yeah, she shoved her head in an oven, didn’t she?”, and it’s like this for so many artists. Van Gogh has been reduced to nothing other than ear jokes. This stigma of mental illness is what these people are remembered for. Sure, we praise their writing and hang their paintings in museums, but in the end, they’re not brought up in regards to their work, they’re brought up with “Hey who was that person who died from doing [example]” instead of “Hey, who was that person who wrote/sang/painted [example], cause that was amazing and it’s a shame we lost them so early since they were so talented.”

Everyone knows who Kurt Cobain is. Everyone knows the music of Nirvana, even if only by proxy. But what do we really talk about? How he allegedly shot himself in the head and took his own life.

Artists, especially those struggling with mental health, strive to be so much more and maybe help people with what they create, even if unintentionally, and yet in the end, it seems that most are simply reduced to a blurb about how they died. Everyone knows about Elvis, sure, but everybody knows he died on the toilet. So yeah, art has been the single most common, ongoing thing throughout my life, and it’s helped me cope with or work out a lot of my own mental health problems that therapy and medication could not. As I said in my previous article, there’s nothing wrong with either therapy or medication, and if they help you then that’s wonderful, but art is what works for me.

I’m an artist. I just happen to be mentally ill.

Whether I like it or not, and thankfully I do, art has saved my life, but it also allows me to try and save the life of others around me who might be struggling with the same things that I do. I want what I make to reach out and comfort people, or give them a space so they don’t feel so alone, or simply give them a little bit of enjoyment even. That’s why even now, at the age of 28, and making no money off of it, I work day in and day out to continue pumping out content. Podcasts, blogs, fiction, poetry, comics, you name it. Because it keeps me alive, and if it can help keep someone else alive too, that’d be worth it all the more.

I don’t know if I’ll ever be successful. To be honest, I don’t really care. At least, not about being an artist. But I do care about being successful at keeping myself around, and that’s what art allows me to do. It allows me to keep myself around, so maybe I can help keep others around as well. When I do eventually die, and the people who do care and love me gather to give their last regards, I don’t want to them to remember me solely for my poor mental health, I want to those people to remember me for what kind of person I was to them, how I bettered their lives or impacted their beliefs, and what I left behind to show for my time here.

That, or my wicked ass funeral. Either one’s good.

[This is a repost of a Medium article]

Buy My Book!  Support Me Via Patreon!  Visit My Online Store!

I’m Maggie. If you like this thing I made, you might like some other things I’ve done, like my 2015 novel “You Ruined Everything”, my podcast network “The Feel Bad Network” or my feed over at Ello. You can also find some published work for sale over at my Payhip , buy prints/stickers and more at my online store on Big Cartel, or support my work at my Patreon! Anything helps & is appreciated, thanks!

0

Bereavement BBQ

The other night, my girlfriend and I went to dinner at a burger restaurant in the mall near our house. With my fries, they gave me some BBQ sauce that was fantastic and delicious, so my girlfriend asked what brand it was, and our server told us. When we got home, my girlfriend looked up the brand and found their website, and on their website discovered “bereavement platters”, which was just an absolutely hilarious combination of words, to be honest. But, it made me think that there’s a part of funeral services nobody ever really talks about; catering.

I’ve been to a few funerals in my time, and I can’t remember a single time they were catered. I remember after my grandfathers funeral, we all went out to dinner at his favorite restaurant, but nothing was catered. Then again, I suppose you might need to have an actual wake in order to have funeral catering. Either way, it made me think about how, even before you’re in the ground, they’re making plans to eat at your funeral. Life goes on, even hours or a day after you’re gone. It makes me feel so insignificant, but not in a bad way for once. It makes me feel like, listen, you’re here while you’re here, experiencing what you experience, and once that’s over, it’s over, and life just keeps going. Everything we think is so important, so crucial, it really doesn’t mean anything in the end, at least not in the long term.

Yes we impact people, yes we change lives, yes we leave a legacy of some kind. But you know what’s more important than any of that?

Tiny 4 cheese quiches on doilies. That’s what.

But in all seriousness, funeral catering really hammered home to me just how fucking fleeting and unimportant all of this really is. All the things I worry about, all the things I hope to achieve, all the things I’ve failed at. It all fails to match up to the fact that my hopes, my dreams, my goals will one day be secondary to my future wife spending the day on the phone, making sure there’s enough cocktail weenies to go around at my wake. It puts everything into perspective, but in a really good way. It makes me not feel so bad about not accomplishing things, about failing at things, because you know what? Somebody’s most important decision one day will be what sort of drinks to serve when I kick it, and that’s pretty hilarious.

I may create a menu, in fact, so that my future wife knows exactly what to serve. My funeral may be the only thing in my life that I have total and complete say over how it goes, so why not plan it down to its every last detail before I die? I want lots of desserts, I want napkins folded like swans, I want peoples meals to be served on trashcan lids, because everything we eat is garbage, so why not be upfront about it?

So, via the odd realization of funeral catering, I feel like I’ve finally had a breakthrough of some kind, in which I don’t worry as much now about failing, or succeeding, and am just happy being, right here, right now.

Because one day I won’t be.

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 network “The Feel Bad Network” or my writing over at Medium. You can also find some published work for sale over at my Payhip.

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! Thanks for whatever you can spare, I really appreciate it!

0

My Mom’s Going To Haunt Me

It’s gotta be some sort of cruel irony that I’ve spent a good portion of my life running away from my mother both in a physical sense and a personality sense, and yet despite all the effort, I’m going to wind up carrying her around after she dies since she has chosen to be cremated and as her only child, I’ll be stuck with her ashes.

My mother has made this stance of hers clear for years, likely ever since her brother died when I was a little girl. She says that she hates the idea of being buried (too confining, as if your corpse would notice), and that she doesn’t want to be reincarnated and thinks by being burnt that you cannot be brought back because your essence is literally released into the universe. While I don’t make fun of her for these things, shit, we hardly even speak, I also don’t believe in it myself. But, the fact remains…no matter how far I run, how hard I try to break free, how much I tell people I want nothing to do with my family and they don’t care about me either, I will end up with my mothers remains, because I am her only child and it’ll all fall down to me. The only upside to this is that my father likely won’t be cremated, so thank god I won’t end up with them both.

There’s a famous quote, “We all become our parents”. That quote is a load of giant bullshit. While that quote might be totally applicable to people who like their parents, admire traits their parents have and want to emulate them as adults themselves, it’s absolute crap for people who have been abused by their parents and spent their lives running away from them. I assure you, aside from a slight overlap in musical taste, I have nothing in common with my mother. We have very different “religious” beliefs, political stances, overall viewpoint of the world and so on and so forth. And it goes beyond your usual “millennial” vs “baby boomer” aspect. First of all, I don’t really consider myself a millennial more than any other reason because I hold a lot of values held by Generation X. While I recognize it isn’t ideas that determine what generation you’re a part of, it’s the year you’re born in, I still hold fast to that belief. So this gap between us goes far beyond the usual generational differences. It’s likely it goes far beyond that because of how she treated me most of my life, so please, do not ever compare me to my mother. I assure you, we aren’t alike. In fact, I am so different from my parents, I don’t even take after them physically.

Hilarious. I’ll spend years running away, trying to escape a woman who made my life a literal living hell a lot of the time, and made my self esteem go in the toilet, and it won’t matter how far I go or what I do to put distance between us physically or otherwise, because in the end, all that matters is that she’s gonna end up in my possession anyway. She’s going to get what she wants; being stuck to me, always a presence in my life in some way. She’s going to be a presence in my future childs life simply because she’ll be there in an urn. I guess there’s truth in the whole “you can’t outrun your problems” concept.

So okay, my mother will have the last laugh because she’ll force her way into my life one way or another in the end. I can’t fight it. Sometimes you just have to give applause to dedication. Sure, she may be with me in an urn, but, as someone who didn’t expect to live past 14 and is now nearing her thirties, the fact I’ll outlive my mother, someone who made me want to die for so long, is a somewhat comforting fact and one she can’t take away from me.

She’ll never truly win.

Hey, I’m Maggie. Did you like this thing I made? Then you might like some other things I make, like my webcomic “In Space, No One Can Hear You Cry” or my writing over at Medium. If you want to support all the work I do, you can donate directly at my PayPal or follow and donate at my Patreon, where for a dollar a month (the basic tier), you get posts early, along with behind the scenes content! Anything you give goes to survival and is greatly appreciated! Thanks for reading!