Artist Jeff Hallman
Megan laid in Kevin’s bed wondering if this would be another night spent alone. She was starting to realize how big a mistake it was to move even closer to Leary’s Pub. The cool kid’s bar was now only two blocks away, how was he expected to resist? It wasn’t about the drinking. It was about the company. It was about maintaining social relevance. This was a crew everyone wished they were a part of, and Megan was just beginning to see that Kevin needed that validation more than any one.
Megan shifted positions for the bazillionth time, restlessly attempting sleep. She pulled her phone from it’s charging cord and checked the time: 3:34am. Still no sign of him, the night well on it’s way to morning. She wondered whether he’d taste of tequila or whiskey this time when he inevitably stumbled as quietly as he could into bed. If he tried to fuck her, she’d know it was tequila. He was always so sloppy, so selfish, when he came home. She wondered if he’d still be here if this were her bed, in her apartment, all the way uptown.
Here she was again. In his bed, waiting. For what…she couldn’t conceive anymore. Caught in this never-ending cycle, hoping that somewhere along the line, he will deviate away from the path he’s on, and join hers. But he won’t. That’s not what he wants. Megan laid flat on her back, exposed and vulnerable, as she realized this isn’t what she wanted either.
Whether it’s good or bad, it’s got to be a party. Laissez le bon temp rouler!
The residents of this weather prone bowl were used to dire warnings. The bowl people had their own way of mitigating the damage of the usual autumn storm – whiskey smoothies and crawfish boils. It was no wonder that they took no mind of this year’s installment. Before it had even finished crossing Florida, residents here began boarding windows and accumulating provisions for the ‘Hurricane Parties’ that would be taking over the city, block by block. It was hard to tell whether the electricity in the air was atmospheric, or something emanating from the revelers below. Signs outside shops announced closers with the giddy excitement of school kids with an unexpected day off. The anticipation had not yet turned dark. Even as the clouds rolled in lower and denser and darker so did the citywide celebration crescendo to a fever pitch. It wasn’t until the storm passed that fear began to set in. It wasn’t nature we had to fear, but man himself.
It felt like my mind had the flu. It started with a sick feeling felt in the deepest pit of my stomach but originating from the very front of my cortex. Reasonable fear. “You should be afraid.” This was all I could hear. Over and over again.
I get quiet when I’m afraid. I can’t speak, just an insatiable desire to observe. Obsessively hoping that if I focus on this enough I can somehow will the outcome in my favor; like a sports fan holding on hope for a team that just lost the game.
In the face of defeat, fear does not have the momentum or the drive to turn into rage. Instead, fear instigates an unrelenting and unforgiving sadness. A physical depression resulting from a mental burnout. Heavy. Hurt.
The blindness of privilege. The ignorance of faith.
Where do shadows hide?
In a dark room, do shadows exist at all? Do shadows care that they are stuck to the feet of these bodies, unable to break off and head which ever direction they choose? Can they see? Can they hear? For silhouettes that lack many of the elements essential for a living, breathing person they certainly are good at the details of following someone else’s movement. Are they dancing or chasing? Does it hurt to be stretched out long under the bright angle of light? Do they fear themselves or others? Are they happy? Are they ever surprised when they run into another shadow? Do they feel powerful and indestructible? Can they show us things that can’t be made out in the light? Do they experience growing pains? Are they thoughtful? Do they give of themselves? Would they if they could? I know enough to know there is not one answer to any of these questions – all shadows are different.
“My mind is flypaper; tiny details stick and stay there forever,” she said.
I wish that was me. My mind wonders off on its own, always unsupervised, and returns with experiences and knowledge (and secrets) that stay in the background – unnoticed. My mind pays no bother when the rest of my body shuts down for the night. Instead, my mind works overtime playing out its new found experiences in my dreams. I wake aware of the scope of my imagination, but unfamiliar with its roots. My mind is so active on its own, that it has very little room for experiences that others want me to catalog. Why can’t I log memories well? Why can’t I remember my first concert or my first kiss? Why can’t I remember what happened to Granddaddy even though mom has told the story a million times? I always say “I didn’t know” and they always say “we told so.”
For all the embarrassment my mind has caused, I hold a glimmer of hope for the future. When we’re older, the mind will take center stage as the body becomes more and more fragile. For many, this can be a scary time. Perhaps, for me, it won’t be so bad. My mind is already on its own. Maybe it won’t feel so scary to not remember when I’m older. Maybe I’m keeping room open for life to happen later.
The double wooden doors were heavier than I imagined. They were as thick as they were tall – a fortified barrier guarding this sacred space.
Inside the candles burned wildly; like stars lining the path to the altar. Flames dancing and twisting as the wind stirred them.
The carpet stretched long down the room, soft and forgiving against bare feet.
The garlands wrapped along the pews holding floral proof of the beauty of life.
The body more at peace here than it was before. Sanctified.
You often wonder if you are even capable of the forgiveness you seek.
You know you are going to have to deal with it one way or another; like a brain swollen so large it’s about to burst out of its skull. Bones fracturing. Heat rising. Intensity growing.
How do you make the swelling go down? How do you arrive back at neutral?
Asking for forgiveness means seeking it for yourself. Acknowledging the suffering you have caused. The kind of pain that’s so deeply embarrassing you feel your heart might stop. A pervasive pain – shame.
The only way to rid this fear is to expose it. Say sorry. Mean it. It won’t feel so big anymore.
Then, stop. Close your eyes. Find yourself. Got it? Can you hear your own voice and see your own face?
Say you’re sorry. Mean it.
Acceptance. Accept your own apology.
Release. Let it go. It’s okay.
You’re fallible. Just like every other thing in existence. This is what it is to experience Life.