My short story titled “Bottles”

short story, story, writing

Clara stares at me, her eyes glinting accusatory question marks. She stands in the doorway and the light that slips between the blinds falls across her face. She looks very tired. “Where were you?” she asks, her voice small yet hard.

“Out,” I say, not lifting my eyes from my lap where I grip a glass with whiskey in it.

This doesn’t bode well with her, and she crosses her arms. “You were out drinking again weren’t you?” I remain quiet and lean back further into my chair. “James?”

“Mind your business, Clara,” I reply unkindly. I tag a swig of my drink and feel the buzz starting to numb my mind. I know I’ve hurt her feelings but I don’t care. I don’t care about much anymore.

“You are my business. You’re throwing your life away!” she shouts suddenly. I would have jumped if I weren’t so drunk.

My mouth presses into a line. “Calm down, woman.”

Clara rakes her fingers through her messy hair and her eyes are bulging now. “I will not calm down. You are destroying yourself, James.” I eye her through drooping lids as she marches across the dimly lit room and shoves her finger in my face. “You will never find your answers at the bottom of a beer bottle. You’re destroying this family!”

For some reason her remark enrages me and I throw my drink onto the floor. It shatters loudly and Clara jumps back. “I don’t care,” I mumble.

A look crosses over Clara’s face, like clouds moving across the sky, and she screams shrilly. Her frustration with me is obvious and she holds her head in her hands and sinks to the floor. She continues to scream unto she dissolves into tears. “I can’t do this anymore,” she whispers over and over.

I feel as if I’m watching an act on a stage, like I’m sitting in the audience, separate from what’s happening in front of me. I’m present, but not, at the same time. Not in the way she’d like me to be. The edges of my vision are blurry now and I feel warm all over. I don’t how Clara can be so upset when it’s so warm.

Clara stops crying abruptly and stands. Her cheeks are wet and flushed. “I don’t have to take this. I know I’ve done everything I could, but you just won’t change. You are drowning in your booze and I refuse to drown with you.” She smiles, and it looks almost deranged. “I’m leaving, and I’m taking our son with me.”

Our son? The words move slowly through my head, like a spoon moving through Jell-O. “You can’t take our son,” I cry, alarmed. “He’s my boy!”

Clara steps back as I stand from my chair. “You lost your right to call yourself a father long ago.”

I’m angry. I reach for Clara, but she sidesteps me and I trip over the coffee table. I crash to the ground and land in a heap. My palms are burning and when I lift them I have to blink a few times to focus. I see bits of glass. “Clara!” I yell.

I hear footsteps racing down the hallway and work to get up but the ground keeps moving on me.

More footsteps and a small voice accompanying them this time. “Daddy?”

I begin to weep. “Don’t take my son.” I flinch as I hear the front door slam and then the car start. “Don’t take my son, dammit! I can change,” I shout, beginning to sob. “I can change!”

I plead in the empty house for a long time, until what Clara says would happen, happens. I grab the whiskey bottle from beside the chair and begin chugging.

-Collins

 

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my short story titled “Same Place, Different Person”

life, short story, story, Uncategorized, writing

roomThis room is different than it was yesterday. I know it is. I closed my eyes last night to sleep, with the moonlight shining through the barred window, but sleep wouldn’t come. I stared across the room, my gaze fixed on a spider web in the far corner. The web glinted faintly in the light, and I could make out the spider entombing its meal for later.

When I grew bored of the spider, my attention went skyward, to the ceiling. I rolled onto my back, one arm propped under my head, the other held out above me as I counted ceiling tiles. I pointed with my index finger checking off each one. I counted five times, concluding there were thirty-eight tiles in all. I’d hoped that counting tiles would be the jail-bird equivalent of counting sheep, but I was still wide awake.

In vain, I rolled over to face the wall my cot lay against, curling my knees into my ribs like a child. The prison dinner I’d forced down earlier lingered on my tongue like sour milk and I longed for mouth wash. At some point, my mind had drifted into unconsciousness as I scratched a nail into the paint, drawing little birds.

When my eyes snapped open the next day, I realized the change immediately. I knew I had not dreamed etching the birds on the wall, but there were not there now. The paint was smooth and untouched. Confused, I’d sat up and looked to where the spider web clung, it too was absent from the room. A pang of fear began to squeeze my chest as I considered the ceiling tiles. I didn’t want to count them, confirming my suspicions. I put it off for a few moments.

With my hands clasped together I paced the length of the room three, four, five times. With each cross of the room, my heart beat sped up, soon pounding like a nail in my ears. I stopped abruptly in the corner of the room nearest my cot and leaned back against the cold wall. I took a calming breath before I began counting. With each total my brows furrowed deeper and deeper until the expression felt permanently cemented onto my face.

Thirty-one tiles. There were only thirty-one.

I knotted my hands into my hair, pulling at the roots. Fear now crashed inside my like waves in a stormy sea and I ran towards the door.

“Help! Someone help!” I pounded my fists of the metal, sending metallic reverb through the room.

A moment later I could hear keys clinking together and footsteps in the hallway outside. I stepped back from the door and it swung open, revealing a stern looking woman in a crisp white lab coat. She placed the keys in her pocket and entered the room. A burly looking man in a grey uniform hovered near the doorway. I lost interest in him right away and watched the lady as she moved towards me.

“My name is Dr. Franklin. How are you doing today, Greyson?” she asked.

My palms were sweaty and I kept tightening and loosening my hands at my sides. “There’s something wrong. Someone’s playing a trick on me.”

Dr. Franklin’s faced softened. “What do you think is wrong?”

“This room,” I said, gesturing around me. “It’s wrong. I’ve been moved somehow. This isn’t the same room I went to sleep in last night.”

“Why do you say that?” she asked. Her eyes had tightened and she appeared despaired now.

I wrapped my arms around myself, suddenly chilled. “The spider web, and the ceiling tiles and my drawing. They’re all gone!”

Dr. Franklin nodded and took a step towards me slowly, like she didn’t want to frighten me more. “This is the same room you were in last night.”

I shook my head vehemently. “No, no, no. I counted the tiles over and over. There are not as many as yesterday.”

“Greyson, why don’t you take a seat?” She gestured to the cot. “I need to explain something to you.”

I made no move to sit until she sat first, then I sunk into the mattress beside her.

“Just listen to me for a minute.” She laced her fingers together in her lap before continuing. “You suffer from a metal disorder called schizophrenia. It causes you to believe you are somewhere you are not. You must had slipped into another personality last night. You were not moved, you are where you have always been.”

I scoffed at her words, which made no sense to me. “You’re lying to me.”

“The tiles, and spider web and drawing, those were hallucinations.”

“No, there were real.”

“Do you know where you are?” she asked delicately.

“Of course. I’m in prison for murder.”

Dr. Franklin’s expression falters and she looks disappointed. “You’re in a psychiatric facility.”

At this, I laugh a deep howling laugh.

“Think about it, Greyson. Why am I a doctor and wearing a lab coat? They don’t have those in prison. They don’t come to your cell. You’re wearing a hospital gown, not inmate attire.”

My laughter sputters out as I look down. “What are you talking about? I’m wearing the same orange outfit I’ve worn every day for the past six years. Why are you lying to me?” My voice raises an octave. “Are you trying to make me think I’m crazy?”

“You’re hallucinating again. You’re wearing jeans and a black t-shirt. Listen to me, Greyson. Take a deep breath and try to calm down.”

I jump up from the cot and back away from Dr. Franklin. “You’re trying to get me in trouble with the warden. Well no way, it won’t work.”

She eyes me then flicks her eyes over to the man in the doorway. He enters the room slowly. I watch her and I watch him.

“If I’m good, I could be up for parole next near. I’m not letting you mess that up for me.” A tear trickles down my cheek. “I want to see my kids… it’s been so long. My youngest will be turning seven at the beginning of next month.”

Dr. Franklin stands and frowns. “You’re nineteen years old, Greyson. You don’t have children. They’re not real.” She looks to the man and says, “I’d hoped that new dosage would have a longer effect. If you would…” She trails off but the man understands.

He comes towards me and I let out a scream and his hands wrap around my arms.

“Let me go! Why won’t you just leave me be? My kids. I want to see my…” my words falter on my tongue as a feel a pinch in my neck. The room lists violently to the right and my vision becomes blurred around the edges.

“Shame. I thought he was getting better this time,” I hear Dr. Franklin whisper.

The last thing I hear is the keys jingling in the door before everything goes dark.

 -Collins

get to know me

excerpt, story, Uncategorized, writing

riptide post

Here’s a little excerpt from “Riptide,” our current writing endeavour. In this piece, you get to meet Stella and Seb as they get to know each other better.

Seb made good on his offer to try to set me up with a job. Newt had left earlier that morning because line cooks have to prep food before the Starfish even opens, but Frannie was going to drop by on her way to work and give me a lift.

I chew on a piece of toast at the small kitchen table as Seb eats spoonfuls of cereal cross legged in the living room. He’s watching an episode of Hogan’s Heroes.

“Who’s the Beatles fan?” I ask, spying a splay of records discarded on the coffee table and couch.

Seb answers over his shoulder, between bites of cereal. “That’d be Baron. He really digs the fab four’s sound.”

“I wouldn’t have pegged his as a twist and shout kinda guy.”

“He’s an enigma,” Seb grins.

I walk over and pick up a Beatles record, turning it over in my hand to check out the track list. “Seems that way. What about you? What’s your sound?” Setting it down, I run my fingers over another cover. “Are you a Chuck Berry kinda guy?”

Seb howls with laughter, shaking so much that milk from his bowl dribbles onto the floor. “That’s all Newt.”

“What’s so funny?” I pout.

“Do I look like a Chuck Berry idolizer?” he asks, motioning to his outfit.

He wears pants with vertical stripes, a button up with a funky pattern worn mostly open. His rose colored glasses are balanced on the bridge of his nose and he’s wrapped a length of fabric around his head to keep the hair of out his face. It’s only when I spot his moustache that I crack up.

“No, you’re right. I don’t think you’d find Chuck sporting a milk moustache,” I get out between giggles.

Seb expression grows confused, then self-conscious.

Crouching down, I use the tail of his head wrap and pat at his moustache. He reaches up, placing his hand over mine to hold it in place. He looks at me questioningly, his face only a few inches from mine.

“Stella—“

The doorbell rings and we both jump.

“That’s gotta be Frannie,” Seb blurts. “I’ll get it.”

He leaves me, startled, on the floor. What just happened? Why was he looking at me like he wanted to…

Frannie round the corner all smiles, Seb following behind. His demeanor has shifted to carefree once again, leaving me fumbling to regain my composure.

“Hey, Frannie,” I smile.

She pulls off her sunglasses and takes a seat on the couch, beside the records. Her hair is still styled in a beehive, but she wears a uniform today. She sets her purse carelessly down on top of the records and kicks off her heels. One collides with the wall on the other side of the room.

“Hello. Geez, I shouldn’t have drunk so much last night, I woke up with the most God awful headache.” She rubs her temples with her fingers. “How about you?”

Seb perches on the arm rest of the couch, leaving me to sit awkwardly on the floor. I shrug my shoulders.

“I only had one beer.”

“I had more than you did and I’m bright eyed and bushy tailed,” Seb gloats.

Frannie makes a humph sound and crosses her legs. “Well your stomach’s a bottomless pit. You could down an entire vat of brew and still be coherent.”

Seb’s lips draw up into a smug smile. “You’re probably right.”

-Collins

story excerpt titled “Tropicana” part 2 (unfinished)

fiction, life, shortstory, story, writing

Chapter 2 – Dine and Dash

          Rosie and I had headed to a craft store to buy the needle and thread, and to a liquor store down the street for vodka. The clerk doesn’t look twice at me as I handed over the money. I guess serving minors is more of a guideline than an actual rule. Or maybe with all I’d just been through, I looked like I’d aged at least two years. The only money I had were a few bills stuffed in my back pocket, and by the time we are done buying ‘medical’ supplies, a new shirt for me, and a couple candy bars, all I have left is a couple bucks. Rosie leads me behind the convenience store and has me lay on some crates that resemble a makeshift operating table. Comforting.

I strip off my bloodied shirt and stretch out across the crates, frowning when little splinters of wood chafe against the skin on my back. Rosie pulls the clear vodka bottle, along with a shiny needle and a spool of thread, out of a plastic bag and places them neatly beside me.

“Ok, first things first.” She screws the lid off the vodka and holds her hand out to cradle my arm. Reluctantly, I place my arm in her grip, biting my lip.

“This might hurt a little,” she says.

I grit my teeth and stare up at the sky between the slates of the fire escape above me. “Just do it.”

Rosie pours vodka over the gash and it’s like she’s pouring gasoline, then lighting it on fire. Pain courses up my arm and I stifle a cry. When she finishes disinfecting she picks up the thread, and expertly threads the needle. “Ready?” she asks.

“Not really. But go ahead.”

Rosie’s brows furrow in concentration as she pokes the needle into my skin. I feel nauseous and turn my head away. I can’t watch. “Distract me please,” I blurt between clenched teeth.

“How?”

“Tell me about yourself.”

Rosie sews while she talks. “Well, I don’t really know what to tell.”

“Anything. How’d you get mixed up with a guy like Rigo?”

“My mother moved my sister, Gloria, and me to Los Angeles a couple of years ago. She has ___ and wasn’t able to work, so foster care took us away from her and separated us. I got thrown into an orphanage and I don’t know where Gloria went.” Rosie swallows hard before continuing. “The people at the orphanage beat me, so I ran away. I was living on the streets, scrounging for food when Rigo found me.”

“Really?”

“Yeah, he told me a girl as pretty as me didn’t belong on the streets. He said he had a steady job for me and I would be safe.” She sighs. “But of course I didn’t know it would be growing pot. And soon after I started, Rigo started getting really friendly.” A muscle in my jaw twitches with disgust as she goes on. “I tried to leave, but he wouldn’t let me. I’ve been stuck there ever since. Until you saved me, that is.” When I look over she smiles at me. “Thank you.”

“But you don’t have anywhere to go. I landed you back on the streets again. I haven’t really helped you, have I?”

“Oh but you did. I’m going to find my mother. I’m nineteen. I can get a job and I’ll be able to support us.”

“Do you know where she is?”

Rosie leans down and ties a knot, snipping the extra thread off with her teeth. “I snuck into the main office at the orphanage once, where they keep all the files. I found mine, and it said her last known address was in _____, a few miles outside of LA.”

“That’s great!”

“Yeah, we’re going to be a family again. And once we have money, I’ll be able to hire someone to find Gloria.”

Rosie looks triumphant as she admires her handy work. “All done. That could possibly be the best patch job I’ve ever done.”

My eyes are wide as I look at Rosie. “You’ve stitched up other people before?”

Her laugh rings clear as church bells. “No, which is why this is my best work.”

I grin at her joke as I inspect my arm. “Well done.” Rosie hands me the clean shirt and I pull it over my head.

“You should probably eat, before you pass out or something.” She hands me a candy bar. “You look pretty pale.”

“Thanks.”

I bite into the chocolate and peanuts, chew and then swallow, before I speak. “So we have to figure out what do for a few hours until we meet up with Essy.”

“Well, we should stay off the streets until it starts getting dark.” She looks at me, “Maybe we should stay here for a while. You look exhausted.”

I am about to protest when she walks over and crouches in front of me, wagging a finger. “Uh uh. You are beat, take a nap and recharge. I’ll wake you if anyone comes.”

I hadn’t realized how tired I was until Rosie brought it up, but I wasn’t about to nod off and leave her defenceless in some alley.

She purses her lips when I don’t comply. “At least stretch out, you don’t have to sleep.”

I lay back down on the crates, propping my injured arm across my stomach. “Happy?”

“Ecstatic,” she says as she sits down on the concrete, her back against the crates.

I last about 30 seconds before my eyelids droop shut, and sleep covers me like a warm blanket.

“Tizzy?”

My eyes snap open and I see that the sky is dark and speckled with stars. I press the heel of my palm into my eyes. “Why didn’t you wake me sooner? What time is it?”

“6:45. I checked the clock in a shop a couple doors down. We should get going.” She holds out a hand and pulls me into a sitting position.

“One problem,” I say as I rake my fingers through my hair, “I just realized I don’t know where the Crescent Moon Diner is.”

Rosie smiles. “Well, then I guess you’re lucky you have me. Come on, it’s four blocks east of here.”

She takes my hand and leads me out onto the sidewalk and we walk in the shadows with our heads down, all the way to the diner.

It doesn’t take us long to reach the diner. In fact, we make it there before Essy. Turns out the Crescent Moon is one of those retro diners. The sign outside was a big flashing neon blue moon. Inside, everything is black, and white, and red. The booths are vinyl, the floor is checkered tile, and there is a juke box in the corner. The waitresses wear poodle skirts and horn-rimmed glasses. Our waitress, Peggy-Sue, according to her name-tag, leads us to a booth in the corner, away from the evening crowd.

“Can I get you anything to drink?” Peggy-Sue asks as she hands us menus.

“Just water. We’re waiting for one more to join us,” I say.

“Outta sight!” Peggy-Sue says as she departs to get us our drinks.

Rosie waits before the waitress leaves to speak. “It’s after seven, shouldn’t Essy be here already?”

“He’ll be here.”

We sit in awkward silence, stealing glances at each other across the table, before Rosie says something.

“It’s almost half past Tizzy. I don’t like this.” Rosie frowns. “Maybe the police got him.”

I don’t like this either. Essy is never late. I am about to suggest we leave, when Essy waltzes into the diner. He spies us, and quickly heads towards our table.

“You guys weren’t about to leave me hanging, were you?” He asks as he slides into the booth beside Rosie. She immediately shrinks away from him.

“I could ask you the same thing,” I say.

Essy’s eyes are darting toward the windows constantly, and his hands are balled into fists on the table, a nervous tendency he’s had since I’ve known him. I lean over the table. “Essy, what is it? What’s wrong?”

Essy grabs the straw wrapper from Rosie’s drink and folds it over and over itself like an accordion. Rosie eyes him cautiously. “We’ve got problems.”

I chuckle. “Tell me about it.”

“No man, real problems. The police are the least of our worries.”

“What are you talking about?” Rosie asks.

Essy looks over at Rosie, eying her like a Chihuahua that just won’t stop barking. He turns his attention back to me. “Rigo,” he says simply.

“What about Rigo?”

“He found me this afternoon. I was hiding out at this abandoned house on ____ street. Rigo, Bronco, and a few other goons grab me while I’m sleeping. I wake up to a punch in the face.” It isn’t until he mentions it, that I notice a bruise forming under his right eye. “Rigo’s in my face, yelling at me.”

“Yelling at you about what?” I ask.

“About you, Tizzy. He thinks that you’re the one who tipped off the police about his operation. Why else would they have raided his place the same night you showed up? At least that’s what he thinks.”

Rosie’s lip trembles while she speaks. “Well he’s wrong! Did you tell him it wasn’t Tizzy?”

“I tried to. I said Tizzy would never do that, but he wouldn’t believe me. I managed to escape, but he’s looking for me, for you! He’s out for blood.”

I slump back against the booth. I can’t believe any of this is happening. Fear seizes my lungs, making it hard to breathe.

Tears roll silently down Rosie’s cheeks.

Essy’s words echo over and over in my mind. He’s out for blood.

*****

I have a hard time swallowing the meatloaf I had ordered. Rosie and Essy eat hastily across from me. Essy’s eyes constantly dart toward the windows. Unable to eat anymore, I shove my plate away and lace my fingers in my lap. Once Essy pays the bill, we head out, heads down. We walk down the sidewalk, sticking to the shadows. I don’t know where we’re walking.

Rosie breaks the silence first. “So what’s the plan?” she asks, looking at the ground as she does.

Essy walks with his hands in his pockets. “We need to get out of L.A. obviously.”

“Easier said than done.” I roll my eyes. “Neither Rosie, or I, have any money.”

“You never were a visionary.”

“Thanks,” I reply sarcastically. I stop dead in my tracks, as something occurs to me. “Essy, what did you mean by ‘we, need to get out of L.A.’? Rigo’s not after you.”

Rosie watches him coldly as he replies. “Guilt by association. I brought you to his place. I said he could trust you, and he thinks I lied.”

“But he doesn’t think you called the cops? That you were in on it?”

Essy shrugs. “If he did, I’d be dead right now, not walking around with just a black eye.”

I mull this over. “Okay. Well we need to catch a bus to take us to the train station. And we’ll need to get you guys different clothes. Oh, and money. That’s probably the most important thing.”

“I got the last part of the problem covered.” Essy pulls a wad of bills from the pocket of his hoodie.

Rosie’s eyes bug out, and my mouth falls open. I grab the money as I exclaim, “Where did you get this?”

“Rigo’s stash. I grabbed it on my way out during the raid. Figured it might come in handy.”

“Won’t Rigo kill you if he finds out you stole from him?”

“Emphasis on ‘if.’” Essy cracks a smile. I grin back.

He shoves the money back into his hoodie. “It’s late, so we should stay at a motel. We can get a good night’s sleep, change of clothes, and make a plan for tomorrow. On me of course. How’s that sound?”

I glance at Rosie for her agreement before I reply. “Sounds like a plan.”

Essy leads us to a cheap motel that doesn’t ask questions, and in a matter of minutes my head hits a pillow and I’m out like a light.

The smell of coffee greets me when I wake the next morning. I sit up and blink my eyes a few times. We didn’t want to squander our money, so we opted for a single room. I had slept on a pull out bed, and I am pretty sure I’ll have permanent dents in my back from the springs that jutted uncomfortably up through the mattress. Rosie had slept on the small twin size bed, and Essy on the floor.

I yawn and stretch my arms over my head. “Do I smell coffee?”

“You sure do,” Essy says as he hands me a Styrofoam cup with steaming black liquid inside.

I take a long swig, and the caffeine hits me like a bolt of lightning, jolting me completely awake. “Where’s Rosie?”

“Taking a shower. You should probably have one after, you smell like . . . well, I don’t know how to describe that odour exactly.”

I roll my eyes and take another sip of my coffee.

“Oh I found some muffins at the breakfast buffet, if you’re hungry.” Essy points to a plate on the end table beside the bed.

My stomach rumbles in response and I quickly grab a carrot muffin, downing it in a matter of seconds. I grab another muffin and sit on the bed beside Essy. “So what are we going to do today?”

“I just got off the phone with the train station. They have a train headed to _____ today at 4 pm. I figure that’s out best bet.”

I remember that Rosie’s mother’s last known address is in ______. I want to help her find her mother, it’s the least I can do considering what she’s been through. She deserves a fresh start. “Are there any trains going to _____?” I ask.

“Why would we want to go there?” _____ is a way safer bet.”

I roll the empty cup between my palms. “Well, I sort of want to help Rosie find her mother. There’s nothing left here for her now. She’s helped me so much, I need to return the favor.”

Essy’s face grows grin. “Tizzy, don’t let some girl derail our plan. That’s great that she helped you, but we need to go to ____. I have a contact up there that can help us disappear. If we go to ____ we’ll be sitting ducks.”

I consider this. “I guess you’re right.”

Essy smiles. “I’ve always been the voice of reason.”

Rosie opens the door to the bathroom. She’s wearing new jeans and a denim jacket over a red polo. Her hair is damp, and hangs around her face in dark tendrils. Her cheeks are flushed from the hot water. “You can have a shower now, Tizzy.”

I stare awkwardly at her. “Geez, Rosie, you look great. Where’d you get the new clothes?”

Rosie’s cheeks deepen as she glances down. “Essy took me to a thrift shop beside the motel while you were sleeping. We picked up some clothes for you too.” She points at a bag on the floor beside the door.

I grab the bag and head to the bathroom. “Great, thanks.” Rosie moves quickly out of the doorway as I pass.

I goan in ecstasy. The hot water dulls the aching I feel in my neck and back. It numbs the pain I feel in my arm. I clean the crusted blood from my cut and wash my hair. Once I am thoroughly clean, I spend the next 15 minutes standing under the hot water until it runs cold. I towel dry my hair and slip into my new clothes: jeans, a blue t-shirt and a black pullover. The jeans are a little too big, so I take one of my shoes laces and thread it through the belt loops.

When I emerge from the bathroom, Essy and Rosie are packing bottles of water and supplies into a couple of backpacks.

-Collins

story excerpt titled “Tropicana”

book, book quote, life, quote, shortstory, story, writing

SONY DSC

Chapter 1 – Essy

“Come on! Grab my hand!” Escobar, yells as he reaches down to pull me up.

He has already scrambled up the chain link fence that blocks our escape, and straddles it like a bull rider. My sweaty palm connects with his and he hauls me up, over the fence. I land in a heap on the pavement as sirens sound in the distance.

Essy lands agile as a cat beside me and pulls me up by my shirt.

“Rapido, move!” he orders, “We just have to make it out of the heat, out of sight.”

I grimace as he propels me forward, my muscles are aching. We’ve already sprinted at least seven blocks. I have no idea where we’re running to, but Essy seems to be guiding us to some predetermined place. Wherever it is, I hope its close.

It’s funny how one stupid decision can change your whole life. My decision to help Essy rip off a high-end jewelry store wasn’t the best one in retrospect. We’d been best buds for years, so when he approached me a week ago, needing someone he could trust to back him up when he hit the store, I’d agreed. He offered me a split on what we stole, he knew I needed money. He promised there would be no police, the alarm would be cut. Long story short, we broke in and tripped the alarms. Essy’s inside man had choked up. Now we’re running from the police, and I really don’t want to go to juvi. My Papi would be rolling in his grave if he could see the trouble I’ve got myself in. “Be a good boy, my good boy,” he used to say.

I pump my arms and legs faster to keep up with Essy’s pace, I’m lagging behind. We’re in the industrial district now, and I have no idea where we’re headed. Sweat drips into my eyes as I run, blinding me.

“We’re almost there,” Essy says.

After a few more minutes we round a corner. Up ahead is a rundown factory that, according to its sign, used to produce children’s toys. What a strange place to go, I think. Why are we going there?

Our footfalls echo off the nearby buildings like gunshots as we hurry up to the factory; the sirens are getting closer. We finally stop at a door located on the side of the factory, and Essy pounds on the metal with his fist. As I’m wheezing for breath I notice Essy has barely broken a sweat. Maybe he’s needed to run a lot more than I thought. In a second there is a response to his knocking, and he mutters something to the guy on the other side, who then opened to door and welcomes us – well Essy mostly – in. Once the door is closed and locked, Essy and the burly guy who let us in embrace roughly for a second.

“Hola Essy, not getting into any trouble tonight are you?” the burly man laughs.

He notices me and gives me a slap on the back in greeting. “How’d you keep up to Speedy Gonzalez here? He’s one of the fastest runners we’ve got!”

“Uh, I don’t know, he kinda dragged me half way here,” I cough, still out of breath.

Essay laughs at my response. “Tizzy, this is Bronco. Bronco, Tizzy.”

Aptly named I think shaking Bronco’s meaty hand.

“C’mon Tizzy, I wanna show you where I work,” Essy says as he starts down a dark hallway. Bronco follows.

“You work here?” I ask as I slowly trail after them, “But this place looks abandoned. . .”

Essy and Bronco let out laughs that reverberate down the hallway, making me jump.

“Don’t you have any brains in that head o’ yours?” Bronco asks.

To be honest I don’t have a clue what one might do for work in a rundown factory, maybe use what machinery was left behind to make things to sell? As I’m staring at my shoes, pondering an answer, I smack into Bronco’s back. The two of them have stopped at the entrance to a huge room that smells heavily of . . .

“Marijuana?” I exclaim in astonishment.

Bronco slaps me on the back again, this time in excitement. “Now you’re getting’ it! We turn the green into green, get it?”

I did get it. When my family and I lived in Mexico City you’d hear stories about how people’s sons got mixed up in drug trafficking. It appealed to those who were broke and desperate for cash. My family was broke, but not desperate, and my parents wanted more for us, so they moved us to Los Angeles. How ironic it is to find myself in the very situation that we moved to get away from.

I step out from behind Bronco to take in the room. It is filled with rows upon rows of tables covered in cannabis. Between the rows are people tending to the plants, wearing rubber gloves and painting masks. Large fluorescent lights hang from the ceiling, illuminating the room with harsh yellow light. Abandoned machinery is pushed against the walls to make more room. As I look around I lock eyes with a girl tending to a section of cannabis. She is tan with long dark hair and scared eyes. She looks about nineteen, my age. She quickly glances away when Bronco moves from the doorway to sit in a chair a few feet away.

“Wow,” is all that comes out.

“We’ve got one of the biggest operations in LA” I hear a man’s voice say. Looking to my left I see a tall, stick man with a bald head covered in tattoos that continues down his neck and arms. I catch a glimpse of a gun tucked into his waistband. He extends his arm to shake my hand and his bicep bulges menacingly.

“Name’s Rodrigo, but call me Rigo, that’s what I go by around here,” he says.

I grab his hand and shake it, “Tizzy,” I reply.

Rigo looks over at Essy. “You had some heat at the job, huh?”

Essy crosses his arms over his chest, his muscles straining against his T-shirt. “Yeah, damn Alex didn’t do what we paid him to do. He’s gone with his money by now. Bastard.”

Rigo’s lips pulls into a sinister grin, a gold tooth glinting between his lips. “I’ll send my boys to find him, he won’t get far. No one double crosses Rigo and gets away with it.” He absentmindedly stroked his gun. I shuffle my feet nervously.

No one said anything about killing anyone. What’s Essy gotten himself into? I’ve got to get the hell out of here.

“Uh, Rigo, thanks for helping me out, but I’ve got to get home now. If you could just let me back out the way I came in that’d—“

“Whoa, whoa, whoa there. You can’t leave yet,” Rigo says.

“But I haven’t heard sirens in a while, the policia has left” I protest.

“It’s not safe to go yet. They search for hours before they give up. Just because you don’t hear sirens doesn’t mean they’re not out there. You two are hot right now.”

“But—“

Essy interjects. “Rigo’s right. We’ve gotta lay low tonight.” He places his hand on my shoulder for reassurance.

After a moment’s hesitation I agree. What choice do I have? These weren’t exactly the kind of people you could just say no to and do your own thing. They have guns, and like people following their orders. I don’t want to end up like Alex soon would.

Rigo makes a chirping type of sound and jerks his head toward Essy and me. “Rosie, baby, show these two boys to a room.”

The girl who I had noticed earlier steps out from behind a bunch of fronds, her hands twisting nervously in front of her. She walks towards us, eyes on the floor, leaving a large berth between Rigo and herself. “Please follow me,” she says quietly.

She turns to take a step when Rigo grabs her elbow and pulls her close. With his free hand he grips her chin and squished her cheeks, then gives her a kiss and releases her.

I have to look away. Rigo kissing Rosie was like a python cuddling a mouse. Wrong and unnatural.

“This way” she says, and leads us down another dark hallway.

*****

          I awake to Essy shaking my shoulder. “Tizzy man, we gotta go.”

I sit up and shake my head, yawning and groggy. Rosie had led us to a room that used to be for storage. I had had to shove discarded brooms and boxes into a corner to make room enough for Essy and me to curl up on the floor. He had found bubble wrap in one the boxes and spread it on out the floor, creating a sort of makeshift bed that made popping sounds every time someone tossed or turned. I hadn’t slept well.

“Man, I’m tired, can’t we leave in a few hours?”

Essy’s eyes flick from me to the door before he answers. Sweat glistens on his forehead. “We gotta go. I heard scuffling and shouts. The police must have found us.” He seizes my arm and hauls me up. “I know a way out, in the back.”

I am suddenly wide awake. “What about Bronco and Rigo, shouldn’t we go find them?”

Essy snorts, “They can look after themselves,” as he creeps to the door and shimmies it open, peeking out into the hallway. He motions me over and jerks his head to the left, mouthing the words ‘this way.’

I follow him into the hallway but grab his sleeve to stop him. I just remembered something. “What about Rosie?” I whisper.

Essy shrugs out of my grip. “What about her?”

“She doesn’t belong here. We have to help her.” I turn to start down the hallway, toward the growing room. But it’s Essy’s turn to grab my elbow, his face incredulous.

“What is she to you, Tizzy? She’s just some girl.”

Footsteps echo down the corridor and I can hear muffled voices. Essy glances down the hall and speaks quickly, looking displeased. “This place is crawling with policia, are you crazy?”

“I have to be, I helped you with that stupid break-in, didn’t I? Look, your right about the policia. There’s not much time, just tell me where Rosie should be and get out of here. I’ll find her and we’ll meet you somewhere okay?”

Essy looks strained. “You’re loco man.” He runs his fingers through his hair before he speaks. “Down the end of this hallway, take a left, follow it to the end. There’s a small window beside the exit door. Use the window, the door’s blocked off. Rosie should be in one of the sleeping rooms down there,” he points down the hall where footsteps can be heard, “If she hasn’t been caught already.”

“Thanks Essy. I owe you.”

“Tonight. We’ll meet at the Crescent Moon diner, seven o’clock. Good luck Tizzy.” He embraces me quickly and pulls away heading down the exit he told me about without a look back.

I turn and head the opposite direction, into the danger. The lights overhead are dim and turn off and on repeatedly. My sneakers squeak disconcertingly loud on the linoleum and my blood pounds in my ears.

I creep to where the hallway ends and the growing room begins. I hear voices, and when I peek my head around the corner I see several men in uniform. Many of the workers I saw earlier are handcuffed and sitting against the far wall. Bronco is among them. Rigo is nowhere to be seen.

“. . . Take your men and sweep the building” says one of the men, “We have reason to believe that the suspects from the break-in earlier this evening are hiding here.”

I hurry back down the hallway trying every door until one opens. “Rosie? Are you in here?”

I hear a soft cry, so I push my way into the room and close the door behind me. “Rosie? It’s me, Tizzy. You took my friend Essy and me to a room a few hours ago.” The room is dark so I step with my arms stretched out in front of me. I knock my knee into a crate and curse. “Rosie please, there are policia searching the place, I came to get you out of here.” After a moment of silence and groping in the darkness a small hand touches my shoulder.

“You came to get me?” Rosie asks.

I turn to face her. “Yes, we have to go now,” I whisper urgently. “We’re going to meet Essy at a diner.” I lean my ear against the door, making sure no one is searching this hallway yet. When I am sure the coast is clear, I open the door and lean out. Rosie grabs my arm.

“Why?”

I think about her question for a second before I answer. “Because you don’t belong here. Just like me.” I don’t give her time to answer, simple grab her hand and lead her out into the hallway.

We half walk half jog to the end of the hallway, Rosie’s small breaths are rapid behind me. Just as we turn left we hear “Stop” shouted behind us. I look back and catch a glimpse of two officers running down the hall towards us. I tighten my grip on Rosie and yell “Run.” Our footsteps ricochet off the walls.

“Stop now! There’s nowhere to go!” one of the officers calls.

We reach the exit door and I immediately go the window, trying desperately to prop it open, but it’s stuck. “Dammit,” I grunt. Rosie rushes over and pushes me out of the way, a brick in her hand. She throws it through the window and the glass shatters, raining everywhere.

“C’mon!” Rosie cries as the footsteps behind us get closer, someone fires a shot and it hits the wall few feet from me. I hoist Rosie up and through the window, she lands with a thump on the other side and I pull myself through after her. Another shot breaks glass above my head. It startles me and I cut my forearm on some jagged glass as I fall out the window and hit the ground with a thud.

Rosie pulls me roughly to my feet and then we’re running. It’s dark still, but pink and orange smudge the sky close to the horizon. The faint light casts shadows from the buildings across the pavement. We run and run until the factory has disappeared behind us and we’ve left the industrial district. A couple blocks into downtown I pull Rosie into an alley.

“I think we should be okay for a bit here,” I gasp, slumping against a building and slide to the ground, panting. Rosie sits down beside me. Her eyes widen when she sees blood on my shirt.

“You got shot,” she exclaims.

I look down at my shirt. “What? Oh, no. I cut my arm on some glass crawling out the window, see?” I hold out my arm to her, the long gash crimson against my skin.

“Let me look.” She grabs hold of my wrist and pulls a handkerchief from her pocket. “Does it hurt?”

I am about to say no, but when she dabs at the cut I grimace in pain. A couple glance down the alley as they walk by. When they see Rosie tending to my bloody arm they quicken their pace, whispering to each other.

“Hmm,” she says, “I don’t think there’s any shards left, but we need to disinfect it. You need stiches.”

“We can’t go to a hospital Rosie, I’m wanted.”

“Oh,” she says.

“We’ll have to figure something else out. Essy’s meeting us at the Crescent Moon diner at seven pm. We have the day to kill.”

Rosie’s eyes tighten the smallest bit when I mention the word ‘kill’. I don’t bring it up.

“I could fix your arm. I am very good at needlepoint. I could stitch it up.” She looks like she might throw up just thinking about it.

“Are you nuts?”

“Probably” she says, and shrugs, “But if you get an infection, you’ll need a hospital. And that’s the last place you want to be seen right now, right?”

I ponder this for a moment. “Alright,” I agree hesitantly.

She smiles as she hauls me to my feet, leading me out of the alley and onto the sidewalk. “Let’s go get some needle and thread. Oh, and some vodka too.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 -Collins

 

 

Things that suck about having anxiety #1

get to know me, inspiration, life, love, motivational, story, thoughts, Uncategorized

I feel like more people have anxiety disordes than people in general think, and unfortunately, I am one of those people. I’m starting a series of posts that share what it’s like to deal with anxiety. This is hard, because I don’t like to feel vulnerable or embarassed, but my hopes are that someone suffering with something similar can know they are not alone.

The first thing that sucks about having anxiety is watching something on tv that, even though it’s completely irrational, makes you feel anxious. Usually it’s a situation that you suddenly imagine you were in. It could be people crawling through air ducks, or people lost in a forest, or even people in a crowded train car. These are things you avoid because they are triggers, and even though you are safe and sound in your living room, your breath has sped up and your stomach is now upset. 

I often avoid going to movies for the same reason. Crowds and being stuck in one place don’t go over well with me, so it’s hard to keep it together when the explosions are loud and the action is intense. 

It sounds silly, but the mind of an anxious person is an irrational one. Accepting that is one of the most difficult things someone can do.

-Collins

my short story titled “Dreams”

character, love, shortstory, story, writing

dreamThe dream came slowly at first, then faster and faster like the pieces of a jigsaw puzzle falling into place. It was a little like looking through a glass bottom boat, only the players in the scene were visible. Sometimes I could see the faint tracery of leaves in the distance, or the glistening sheen of rain, but that was all.

This time it was night, and the boy and girl were silhouetted in the profile, their faces very close together. A lantern sat between their curled bodies and the faint light danced over their murmuring lips. I strained to hear them, that was the hard part, always was. Like trying to listen to a conversation through a wall with a glass.

“We can’t keep doing this,” I heard her say.

I could make out his pained expression, his downturned lips.

“They can’t keep us apart, you know we are meant to be together.”

She stares into his eyes and slowly reaches a pale hand to caress his cheek. She lets her fingers linger for a moment. “Fate, perhaps?”

His teeth glint in the lantern’s light as he smiles wide. “Only fate could conspire to gift me with such beauty and such turmoil.”

“There cannot be light without the dark.”

He leans forward, tilting his head slightly, until his lips meet hers. They stay like that for a moment, until a rustle in the trees rouses their attention.

Her eyes become alert and she pushes him away. “Quick, leave before they catch you.”

His hair falls into his eyes as he backs away, bowing deeply with a flourish, playfully. “Until we meet again.”

She watches him retreat into the woods, hears him laughing lightly, the sound like church bells chiming in the distance.

The scene begins to swirl, shifting and mixing together, like dye into water. And all at once, I’m laying with my check on my desk, where I dozed off earlier. I pull my notebook from my top drawer and flip to the next open page, scrawling down what I just saw before I forget a single detail. The notebook is almost full.

-Collins

instagram: turnercollins_

my short story titled “Small Courage”

bullying, character, life, motivational, shortstory, story, writing

The blow came out of nowhere, knocking Margret to the ground. She sat there dazed for a moment, cradling her throbbing elbow. It had contacted first, breaking her fall. Although, technically, the first thing to contact anything was Eve Tyler’s fist against her face.

There were stars dancing across her vision as Eve hauled her up by the lapels of her jacket and backed her up against the cool bricks of the office building nearby. As Margie blinked rapidly, Eve’s snarling face came into view, her cheeks red with anger and exertion, mostly anger though.

Margie was beginning to regret her decision to stand up to the bully who insisted on picking on poor Lawler Wills as she gauged the bird like eye movements of Eve as she assessed what to do next.

Lawler was apart from the group of school children who’d descended like a swarm of locust over the fight. He held his books firmly to his chest and stared at Eve’s back through his cracked glasses.

Margie turned her attention back on Eve, who’d begun to grin terribly wide.

“Well it looks like little Margie wants to play the hero today,” she said.

Margie ignored the taunts from the circle of kids prompted by Eve’s statement. “Well, honestly, I was just trying to keep Lawler from another trip to the nurse’s office. He’s visited so many times they practically have a room set aside just for him.”

“Well maybe he should stop tripping over things, and falling into things,” Eve smiled, an edge to her voice.

Margie patted Eve’s hand lightly as it was still entwined in her jacket. “Don’t worry. When I go to the nurse’s office for this black eye, I’ll tell her you sent me.”

Eve’s lips drew back over her teeth in a scowl, and she tightened her grip. Again, a wave of dread washed over Margie. She imagined her face would resemble a Jackson Pollock painting when this was through. But she still couldn’t back down, she was after all, the first person to directly challenge Eve. If she was going to get beaten up, she mind-as-well earn it.

“So before we begin, I think it’s only fair that I tell you that beating me up won’t bring you gratification. It won’t fill whatever void you’re trying to fill, or remove that sense of inadequacy. It won’t make your parents pay attention to you more.”

“Shut up!” she yelled, shaking Margie violently. “You’re just trying to confuse me.”

“Is it working?” Margie asked.

An irritated growl rose from Eve’s throat, and the sound, combined with the two red pigtails that stick up from her head, made her look like a raging bull.

“Might I ask you to aim for the nose? I’ve had this awful bump on the bridge since I was little. I was planning on having corrective surgery later in life, but this will probably do the trick.”

Eve was not impressed by Margie’s wit and she pulled her hand back like a pitcher winding up. Margie squeezed her eyes shut and awaited the punch. But it didn’t come. Instead, Margie heard a male voice beside her. When she opened her eyes, a boy with black hair and denim shirt had his hand cupped around Eve’s fist.

“Before you knock her out, may I ask what she did to you to deserve such a reprimand?” he asked calmly.

Eve stared at the boy in shock, which quickly turned to loathing. Two people standing up to her in one day. It must be opposite day or something. Maybe she was losing her reputation. She’d probably have to fix that.

“Unless you want to be next, I think you should back up,” she said when she’d regained her composure.

Margie looked from Eve’s face to the boy’s. His grip remained over Eve’s fist, and she was not impressed. Margie floundered around for a way out of this that didn’t end with Eve’s fist kissing the boy’s face. He was cute, with his steady blue eyes, and his ultra-calm demeanour. But he was new here and clearly had no idea what he’d just walked into. No longer worried for her own safety, she spoke quickly.

“Can’t you see this is a private event?” Margie asked, gesturing between Eve and herself. “But I’m sure Eve can arrange something between you two at a later date.”

The boy looked at her for the first time since the altercation began. He cocked his head in amusement, his mouth drawing up slightly at the corner. The look made Margie weak in the knees, of course that could be from the fear.

“What would I have to give you in order for you to let this poor girl go?” he asked, still looking at Margie.

Eve’s expression had grown thoroughly confused and her cheeks were now flaming. She pulled her fist from the boy’s grip and turned to face him, momentarily forgetting about Margie. She was tall, standing three inches above the boy and she peered down at him through narrowed eyes.

“Do you have some sort of death wish? Or are you just stupid?” she demanded.

The kids around scattered to get out of the way as the boy backed up, Eve hot on his trail. Margie watched in horror as Eve closed the distance. She had to do something. Out of the corner of her eye she saw Lawler, he was skirting the periphery of the crowd, his books missing from his hands.

“Well?” Eve bellowed, cracking her knuckles.

The boy assessed her, looking her up and down. Finally he answered. “No. I rather like life. But one thing I can’t stand is bullies. Even if they are girls.”

Ah, he played the girl card. Bad idea. Margie could practically see the steam coming out of Eve’s ears. She took a step forward as Eve drew her fist back.

“Hey!” Lawler shouted.

Eve turned too quickly and suddenly Lawler was standing between the boy and her. He struck out with a punch of his own and Eve fell to the ground like a pound of bricks, knocked out cold. Lawler was huffing staring at his fist in shock. Everyone was staring at him.

Margie recovered first. Turning to the crowd she said, “Show’s over. Now get out of here before she wakes up and decides to let out her anger on the first person she sees.”

The kids knew she was right, and giggling and laughing, they all ran down the street and around the corner, off to tell their friends that Lawler Wills knocked Eve Tyler’s lights out.

Margie returned her attention to Lawler. “Where the hell did that come from?”

Lawler was still staring at his clenched fist. “I don’t know. I just saw her about to beat into you guys and I knew you guys didn’t deserve it.”

“You don’t either. That’s why I jumped in to stop her,” Margie reminded him.

“That was a stupid thing to do.”

Margie let out a breath. “I know. Are you okay?”

Lawler looked very small in his overalls and cracked glasses but he nodded. “She’s going to kill you when she sees you next. Both of you,” he says, turning to the boy.

The boy glanced down at Eve’s unconscious body and shrugged. “No big deal.”

Eve stirred then and Lawler’s calmness evaporated. He stooped to pick up his books. “Well thanks,” he said and then darted away down the street.

“That was pretty brave what you did, standing up for that boy like that.”

Margie feel a rush of pride and accomplishment. “He gets it a lot.”

“The name’s Jay. Jay Bird.”

Margie cracked a grin. “You’re kidding, right?”

Jay’s expression became light. “Well my parents got creative when I was born. ‘Gee,’ they thought, ‘What name can we add in front of Bird that would totally mess up any hopes of a teasing-free childhood?’ Thus, Jay it was.”

Margie chuckled at his explanation. “Well that’s a new one.”

“Always is,” he said. When Eve begins to stir, groaning a little, he looks to the street. “Maybe now would be a good time to get out of here, you know, before…”

“You’re right.”

They walked quickly out from behind the office building and onto the sidewalk.

“I’m Margie, by the way.”

“Nice to meet you.”

“So you’re new around here?” Margie said, genuine interest in her voice.

Jay nodded, the movement sending his hair into his eyes. “Transferred last week. I start school tomorrow.”

“We’ll be at the same school then.”

“How do you know that?”

Margie smiled. “Because there’s only one middle school in this town.”

Jay realized his mistake and laughed. “I did say I was new around here, right?”

“Mhmm.”

“You should probably get some ice on that eye before it swells too much,” he said.

Margie had completely forgotten about the punch that Eve had landed. The memory made the dull ache below her eye sharper.

“Oh, yeah. I’ll do that when I get home. This should be fun to explain to mom and dad. I still can’t believe Lawler decked Eve.”

“He finally found his courage. I doubt Eve will bother him anymore,” Jay said, clearly happy for Lawler.

Margie grinned a little. “He’s right what he said about us being on Eve’s radar though. You’d better be careful at school.”

He nodded.

They’d walked a long way before Margie realized her house had come into view. “That’s my house there actually.” She pointed to the one with orange shingles and a jungle of plants and flowers lining the walkway to the front door.

“We moved into the house at the end of the street, the one with the broken basketball net in front,” he laughed. “It looks like we’ll be neighbours.”

“We can walk to school tomorrow, if you want,” Margie said, trying to contain her excitement at the prospect of seeing Jay regularly.

“Sure. See you tomorrow.”

Margie watched him walk down the sidewalk with a lazy gait, his hands in his pockets. She smiled inwardly and then hurried up the steps to her house.

-Collins

A piece from a different piece

book, characters, love, shortstory, story

I decided to share a piece of something I’m working on separately from Collins. I know, the horror! This story is set in the UK, because, as you can tell from our musical choices, the UK is pretty darn awesome. It starts with two best friends, Imogen and Killian. Friends who have grown to love each other, but can’t find the words. It has humor, romance and all the cool stuff that comes with owning a hip record shop in London. Here is a little taste of what I’ve started!

“I hate you, Killian Brody.”
“And I love you, Imogen Harris!”
My heart stutters. For so long I have longed to hear those words. If only they were spoken in a different tone, with a different meaning. I know he only means as his friend, and that’s the part that breaks my heart every time. I swallow back the bitter pill of unrequited love…

– Turner

my personal short titled “Birthday Cards”

inspiration, life, love, story, writing

happy-birthday-candles

Every time a birthday rolls around I have to go to the grocery store to pick out a card. And every time I enter the aisle with the birthday cards I immediately feel apprehensive. As soon as I start looking at the cards with the thought “Which one is the best one to get?” memories come flooding back. I remember being much younger and scouring for a birthday card or a Mother’s day card with my father. I remember reading colorful card after colorful card, trying to find the right one, not because the message on the inside wasn’t good enough, but because the message inside did not describe my mother at all. Every card I read I put back because I thought it was untruthful to get it.

I remember turning to my father and saying “It’s really hard to choose a card when none of them describe mom. Whichever one I get I feel like it’s a lie to get it.” Knowing that my mother would receive my card and read the cherry, heartfelt message inside made me angry. Whatever the card said I never agreed with, because I never felt that “I am lucky to be able to call you my mother,” or “You bring so much joy to those around you.” I had a bad relationship with my mother for years growing up, and for years I struggled during every celebration to find a card I could deal with.

A card seems like such an insignificant detail, but it turns out to be a big deal when you hate your mother. How can you feel one way and yet give someone so close to you a card that declares a bunch of happiness that you don’t feel? That is something that I dealt with for a long time.

I find myself thinking how silly something as trivial as a card could scar me so deeply. I thought about it, and though a card is just a folded piece of cardstock with some writing inside, it’s what the card represents. A card expresses your feelings and wishes. It expresses your love towards that special person.

I have trouble finding a card for my mother still, but it’s for a different reason. It takes a while to find a card that expresses accurately how I feel. But when I find that card, I smile inwardly to myself. I do this because I found a card that says just what I feel. Sometimes if I’m feeling especially emotional that day, I tear up as I read the message, knowing it fits my mother to a tee.

A couple of years ago my mother and I shared a very special conversation, the kind you usually find on television or in movies. It ended in understanding, tears, and hugs. Over time we mended our relationship and I could finally say “I love my mom.” With this happy awakening, I looked forward to birthday’s and Mother’s days. I searched to find something that would make her happy and show her how much she meant to me. And though I still feel that flutter of apprehension when I enter the birthday card aisle, I know it’s just a ripple from days gone by.

Hallmark got it right with those cheesy birthday cards. A simple message inside a piece of folded card stock can mean more than you think.

-Collins