Life, Writing

Writing Through It.

I’m by no means an expert when it comes to writing. I’m an avid devourer of books and the written word has been my religion for as long as I can remember. When I was growing up, friendless and shy, there were always books. My family wasn’t exactly affluent but books opened up a whole world of adventure and I went through books in only a few days.

My sixth grade teacher once told my mother he’d be surprised if I didn’t grow up to be a writer. I appreciate the compliment, but writing is a hard game to get into, especially when you have no real contacts in the industry. I’ve gotten by just fine running this blog, even sticking to something resembling a schedule at one point and time. Although my posts have been sporadic for the last couple months, I find myself drawn back to scribbling down my thoughts and then barfing them onto the internet. The only way you can call yourself a writer is to write, so that’s what I’m doing.

It’s no secret that I’m currently dissatisfied with my life. I’m tired of being a barista, a job I’ve been doing for about eight years. Without any formal education, it’s impossible to get jobs writing. Not that I can’t rectify that, I’m just not currently in a financial position to be considering the pursuit of higher education. That’s OK, I’ve made my peace with that for the time being. I find I’m happiest when I’m sitting at my computer, trying to find a way to translate the abstract thoughts and feelings that ricochet in my head into plain English. It’s a challenge. It’s an even bigger challenge to try to write a novel.

I’ve failed at NaNoWriMo two years in a row. The first year I did so spectacularly. I don’t think I wrote even one word, even though I had an idea and a bare bones outline. My writing buddy and I even avoided each other because neither of us had written and each had assumed the other had ground out a novel in the time we’d wasted. We both failed and celebrated our mutual failure. The second year, I managed to crank out just over 7000 words of the 50 000 needed to win the challenge. That’s OK too, because at the very least I had written more than the year before. I always afford myself a little breathing room considering the fact I have to work a full time job. I let the beginning of my novel stew in its own literary juices for about three months before deciding it was time to get back at it.

I’ve been marinating this story in my mind for the past few years, always feeling like it was bigger than anything I could create. But it was born from my own insomnia and my love for adventurous, dystopian novels, so who better to write it? So last week I fired up my computer and picked up where I left off.

I left off in the perfect spot for writer’s block to get its hooks in me. I didn’t know where to go next with the story. Having my main character wander helplessly in the woods, aided only by a map her dead father had left behind, was boring. No one wants to read about someone building campfires, fending off cold, and making their way through the forest. So I took a break, checked my Facebook, and generally fucked around on the internet before deciding to look up some tips on working through writer’s block. This article by the fabulous Chuck Wendig ended up being the kick in the ass I needed to get my story moving again.

The only way to get through writer’s block is to just keep writing through it. Editing and revising are what will end up shaping what my novel becomes but without the words, there’s nothing to be shaped in the first place. So I wrote through it. 

I hit just over 10 000 words, the most I’ve ever written for one thing. The short story I published on this blog is only about 5000 words, so this is double that and then some. I was terrified I would run out of story before making it to novel length, but I still have so much to tell. So many roads to travel to get my protagonist to her destination. And it’s exciting. Truthfully, it’s what’s getting me through my shifts at work, thinking about my characters and their motivations and ways to move the story along. When doing something mundane to pay the bills, it always helps to have something to look forward to. The point isn’t to get it published, necessarily, although once it’s done and edited and if the few people I’ve managed to talk into reading it deem it good enough, maybe I’ll pursue that. The point is to DO SOMETHING. I’ve been in such a goddamn funk since November and there’s still a lot of winter time left, so I need to distract myself.

I’ve found the best way to keep myself somewhat sane and motivated is to write through whatever’s happening.

Maybe my sixth grade teacher wasn’t wrong.

Fiction, Life, Writing

Salt Meat: Part Four

Oh God.

No.

No, no, this isn’t happening, it can’t be.

He’ll calm down, relax his hands and uncurl the fists he keeps hurling at my face.

I swear to God, he’s not a bad guy.

He just gets emotional.

And jealous.

He thinks I’m cheating on him.

If I lay still enough with his hands around my throat, he’ll realize what he’s doing and stop.

What if this is it?

What if they never find me and I become just another missing persons ad floating around bus stations and curling at the edges?

Some people are never found.

Maybe if I don’t fight back he’ll calm down.

He’ll remember that I love him.

I love him.

I do love him.

I love him, right?

Sometimes I’m not so sure.

He tells me I’m a terrible person and maybe he’s right.

Maybe I deserve this, deserve everything.

I hope not.

I saved a butterfly from dying once upon a time,

too young to understand the concept of karma.

Too young to understand that what goes around doesn’t always come around.

Sometimes what comes around is worse.

I might be passing out now.

Am I passing out?

At least then the pain will stop.

My mouth is bleeding.

Please make it stop.

I’m sorry.

They find her in a bus stop with flowers in her hair. It wasn’t supposed to end this way, not like this. Not in bits and pieces and flashes of a life that started out right and ended wrong. A little girl whose smile shone so bright and was snuffed out by the darkness that sought it out like moth to flame.

I read her story over my morning coffee with the TV telling me the day’s weather in the background. I swallow the lump in my throat and remember that I once found myself in similar places, surrounded by similar darkness. Even now, far removed from the faces that once haunted my dreams, I distinctly remember the metallic taste in my mouth as it filled with blood drawn forth from someone else’s hand. The sensation of breathlessness as someone else wraps long fingers around a soft throat and squeezes until the air left inside the lungs has turned rancid and the need to inhale becomes desperate.

It’s strange when I read the stories of the ones who didn’t get away. They remind me of butterflies who never got the chance to escape the jar. They remind me of the girl who once looked back at me from a grimy bathroom mirror with fatigue and resignation shining in her eyes, thoroughly convinced that there were no other choices than to remain and wait for the end to come.


Smoke curls its way up to the ceiling as the teenagers recline on ratty pillows. The floor is cold and a bit damp, but it’s nothing the dehumidifiers running at full speed in the basement can’t take care of. Passing the pungent joint back and forth, they go from silent and serious to giggly and rambunctious in very little time. One of them tells a story of when there were frogs in the basement and one jumped on her and she did the splits in an effort to escape her amphibious attacker. The other laughs until she chokes on the smoke she’d been valiantly trying to hold within her lungs. Great plumes of gray erupt from her nostrils as she laughs at the idea of her rigid sister doing painful splits while screaming about frogs.

It’s the only way they can cope with the reality that awaits them outside the confines of the basement. It’s another small town, another stepfather, another family that barely functions upstairs. Watching the mother that fought tooth and nail for them whittle herself down into someone so small she’s barely visible has brought the sisters together, a united front against the advancement of the Evil Stepfather. It’s a familial game of chess and there can be no winners.

The crunch of tires on gravel signals the return of their stepfather. Quickly snuffing out any remaining smoke and turning on the fans, the girls run upstairs to continue washing the dishes he’d left for them. The lists of chores grew longer the more he insulted their mother, as if giving the girls plenty to do would somehow distract them from the blatant emotional abuse.

The only time they bond is when he’s drunk, a delicate balancing act that both girls learn to do well. Keep things lighthearted, never insult or jibe, go along with drunken jokes that fall flat on sober ears or risk invoking the alcohol-soaked beast within. Faking laughter long enough to forget how to actually smile. Neither of them discuss the transformation of their mother from amazon to wallflower.

Some things are better left unsaid in the name of survival.


I was fascinated with the books lining my grandfather’s shelves. Great tomes devoted to all sorts of delicious subjects, each one bound in leather and adorned with gold lettering. I couldn’t always read the titles. Some were in languages I had never learned. He would lock himself inside his office with his books and spend hours drifting away. I liked those times the best, because they meant I could sneak past the living room almost undetected. On the rare occasions he would leave the door open slightly and take a walk down to the beach, I would poke my head inside and try to figure out what exactly made him tick. Try to discern what made him do the strange things he did to me in the living room when my grandmother wasn’t looking.

Sometimes I would watch her through the window as she hung wet clothes up on the line while his callused hands worked their way under the hem of my shirt and up over my back. I would mentally cry out for her to come back inside so he would stop before he reached around to my front. My sister, seated on his other knee, told me years later she would stare at the clock on the wall and try to read the time even though she was still too young to have learned it yet.

I learned how to keep secrets long before I really knew what they meant.

When the police came to our house to question us, my sister and I locked eyes and lied for him. The hold he had over us, telling us what he did was secret and good girls would never tell, was too strong to be shaken even by female officers with kind eyes. Accusations put forth by other family members only got him five years in prison. I still wonder what would have happened if I had told the truth.

(To be continued.)

Read previous parts here.

Fiction, Life, Writing

Salt Meat: Part Three

PART ONE | PART TWO


She says it’s a game. He’s asleep, he won’t notice if we take the remote from him and watch YTV. Baseball is boring and he started snoring fifteen minutes ago so it must be safe. So we crawl across the living room, our matching track pants loudly scraping the carpet, and reach the edge of his recliner. On either side of him, like bookends, we peek at each other over the arms of the chair. His breathing remains steady, with a soft snore every couple seconds. My sister smiles, signaling that it’s time to make our move. She reaches up over the arm and wraps her fingers tentatively around that all-important piece of plastic and batteries. I giggle and try to stay quiet as she begins to tug at the remote and it stays snug in Grandfather’s hands. His snoring stops and a smile breaks out on his ancient face. He cracks one eye open and says, “Betcha thought you could pull a fast one on old Gramps, didn’t ya?” and guffaws. His belly rolls and rumbles and my sister and I collapse in a fit of giggles on the carpet. He only makes us watch one more inning before he concedes control of the TV and lets us watch cartoons on his floor model.

Summer days in the house my grandfather built for his wife were spent playing with the horses next door and flinging army men with plastic parachutes, flying shopping bag kites in the brisk Atlantic air, stacking rocks together to form pretend computers and using cinder blocks as mailboxes. My sister and I never went into the shed, we weren’t allowed to play anywhere near the power tools so we’d pretend the shed was home to an evil, child-eating demon. If we so much as caught a glimpse of him, he’d devour our souls in one gulp. Sometimes we even believed it.


“The phone had plastic-covered keys that shone in the late afternoon sunlight. I squinted against it and tried to read the numbers. I had just started learning about numbers and could count from one to ten. On the small television, an episode of Land And Sea about the S.S. Kyle was turned down so low I could barely hear it.”

Jessie takes a breath and her pause goes on long enough for the others gathered in the room to wonder if she would continue speaking.

“We heard him coming up the driveway. Muttering, crashing into things – the drugs he was taking combined with the alcohol he’d drank at the bar had turned him into a mess. He stumbled into the house and lurched past the living room. I turned my attention from counting the numbers of the phone keys to him and called out, ‘Daddy! I love you!’

“He turned back and walked slowly into the living room, smiling but cold and unfriendly. ‘Oh yeah? Well… I don’t love you.’ Blinking, he headed back down the hallway to his room while I stood on the couch and wept with everything I had in me.

“What do you do when your own father tells you he doesn’t love you when you’re four years old? The thought buries itself so far into your head and adds itself to the cacophony of discordant voices inside that you no longer recognize it for what it was – a bad trip and too much to drink.

“So you find yourself wandering dark alleys long after midnight smoking too much and drinking just enough to keep the feelings crushed somewhere underneath your rib cage. For awhile it works out all right and you’re able to keep yourself going with a cocktail of caffeine in the morning and alcohol at night, but eventually the rug under your feet wears out so much it’s threadbare by the time life rips it out from under you. Finding beauty in the world or even a reason to get up at all is too difficult to try.

“Finding love is impossible, because who would want to love somebody unloved by her own father?”

The tears that threaten to spill over are not self-pitying, but burn with a rage that has stoked for twenty-two years. Jessie swallows hard and takes her place in the hard wooden chair. She surveys the room around her as she brings an unlit cigarette to her mouth with shaking hands.

She swore she’d never become a smoker. Not like him. But in group therapy, nobody dares to judge her.


“It’s a butterfly!” Becky held the pickle jar up to the porch light and peered inside. The grub Jess and Charlotte had been looking after all winter had shed its former skin and clung to the lid of the jar, tapping gently as if politely asking to be let out to fly around.

It was the first summer in the house on Neck Road. The winter had been cold and all the lights had gone out so Becky and the girls dragged their mattresses into the living room and shared the heat provided by a creaking and ancient kerosene heater. Jess kept trying to close the window that had been left open for ventilation so Becky had to sit her down and explain that without the window ajar, they would all suffocate and die. That did the trick and Jess satisfied herself by sitting furthest from the window.

Once the frost had melted and the power returned, they had waited out the rest of the winter in relative comfort. Eventually the ground had thawed as well and then Jess had made the tearful discovery of her little grub at the bottom of its jar, nothing more than an empty husk.

The storm door gave a mighty groan when Becky opened it and hustled the girls outside. She bent down to Jess and asked her if she was sure she wanted to set her friend free. “Yes,” the small girl answered resolutely. “Butterflies don’t belong in jars.” So she twisted the lid and opened it, letting the viceroy out of its glass prison. It flew high in the air before circling back to the girls. It circled twice more before taking off into the blue skies of a bright June Newfoundland morning.

Jess would talk nonstop of butterflies for the next couple of years, and even save a couple more from certain frozen deaths more than fifteen years later. Good deeds sometimes come in cycles.

(To be continued.)

Fiction, Life, Writing

Salt Meat: Part Two

READ PART ONE HERE.

“So you understand, right? Why you have to go away for awhile?” The softness of his voice betrayed the hard granite of his eyes as he watched the two young children in front of him crumple their faces and cry. He knew exactly what he was doing and why. The only thing that mattered to him in those days was where to get his next fix. Doctors, the street, he didn’t care. Coming home at three in the morning with broken bones and bloody noses, screaming at the top of his lungs that if he wasn’t sleeping, no one would. Radios on full blast, tables flipped and dinners scattered, doll clothes tossed out the window to float on the coldest wind until they too reached the ocean where Ronnie had been reclaimed. All this juxtaposed with the man who would play dolls with his daughters and feed them candy until their mother complained about all those ruined dinners.

Boxing up the house was the hardest part, wrapping plates and cups into dish towels and fitting as many as possible into a single box. Jessie packed and unpacked the forks until her mother snatched the cutlery from her grubby fingers and dumped them unceremoniously into a plastic bag. “We don’t have time for this, Jess,” she sighed. “Go pack your toys.”

Two days later Jessie’s father stood in the kitchen doorway and watched Becky zip the girls into their coats and usher them toward the door. The house was barren apart from the few dishes left behind for Charlie. His hands shook as he felt the beginning grip of withdrawal and all he could think about was getting them all out of there so he could sink into his high. Colors only he could see would bloom in his eyes and the constant pain that made it near impossible for him to move would abate long enough for him to fall asleep. It was the only thing that mattered. The girls were young enough that in time they would forget him.

Breaking her mother’s grip and running back into the house, the older girl flung herself at her father and wrapped her arms tightly around his neck. “I still love you, even if Mommy doesn’t,” she told him. He peeled her little arms from around him and held her hands. “Go with your mother,” he said, and turned and walked down the hallway to his darkened bedroom. He shut the door behind him and effectively shut himself out of her life simultaneously.


It was the fucking chip fryer that did it. Coming home with Jessie to find Charlie sprawled on the couch, mouth open and spittle just beginning to work its way down his prominent chin, with Charlotte alone in the kitchen playing next to the plugged in empty fryer. She had been furious, had woken him up by whacking him with her purse. Becky knew he’d been into the fucking pills again, had taken them from her purse and swallowed them down with water straight from the bathroom tap. It was probably when he’d said he was taking a shower that he’d done it.

Jessie was a good girl. Whenever she caught him digging around in her mother’s purse in search of his favorite bottle, she’d run out to the deck and let her know. Whispering, as if she knew she was telling a secret, she would tell Becky exactly what she’d seen and where Daddy was. The last time she told on him, he’d grabbed her by the cheeks and screamed straight into her face, “SO YOU’RE MOMMY’S GOOD LITTLE SPY, NOW ARE YAH?!” Jessie had batted at her father’s hands as he berated her for speaking up and Becky had stepped between them, daring Charlie to raise his fists. He never did, but would turn around and grab the staple gun from the garage and staple his hand to the kitchen chairs. The cheap fake leather would crack around the stapled skin and his blood would seep into the stuffing. Afterward his pain would be so bad, he would crawl into Becky’s lap and tearfully ask her for just one pill, maybe the Vicodin, or the codeine if she preferred – anything to stop the burning pain in his hand.

One time, he took Charlotte into his lap and twisted her leg until she cried out in pain, bringing Becky running into the kitchen yelling and throwing the bottles at him, telling him to just fucking take them until they killed him, he was too far gone for her to save.

Her children learned how to cope with chaos before they had learned how to spell.


HE DOESN’T UNDERSTAND. I DIDN’T SWEAR.

The book was glossy and the pages slipped between my fingers. They had been protected against the inevitable spills caused by small children, but I knew better anyway. I was careful with my books because they meant so much to me. I never ate while I was reading.

Forming the words I saw with my eyes by using my mouth like teacher said was harder than it had seemed. With every correctly pronounced word, I felt a small sense of pride growing bigger. I was GROWING UP, I was turning into a BIG GIRL, and soon I’d be able to read the thick books I loved looking at in the library.

“The squirrel…. goes… CHIT CHIT CHIT!” I yelled, impressed with my ability to finish a sentence with minimal stumbling.

I was instantly shaken when a voice boomed from the kitchen.

“YOU CAN’T SAY THOSE WORDS IN THIS HOUSE!” My father screamed. He stormed into the living room, where I had set myself up with a blanket on the floor. My mother stepped in, eager to defend me. “She’s not saying SHIT, Charlie! She’s saying CHIT, like a squirrel!”

But my father would have none of it. He was enraged that I had dared to defile his house with my prepubescent profanity and I would therefore have to be punished.

It was a long time before I would be able to read aloud again.

(To be continued.)

Life

Things I’m OK With.

Older, always getting older. Lines I never had before (and only I can notice) have begun appearing on my face. My chubby cheeks are a little more sunken because age attacks your face first and then the rest of your body. But I’m not one to talk, I’m 27.

I can hear folks older than me already, telling me I’m still a fucking baby compared to them and the truth is, I AM, in the chronological sense. In life experience, I’m sure I’m almost on par. You can pack a lot of lessons in only a few years if you make enough bad choices. I’ve found myself on the business end of a metaphorical gun more than once and lived to tell the tale. Maybe I’ve come out a little damaged, a little bruised on the inside where I’ve learned to hide my feelings, but I still draw fresh breath every day and I consider that a pretty big win.

I’ve said it more than once: I’ve already lived ten years longer than I ever planned to. Teenage me was a bundle of raw nerve endings and hormones wrapped up in a body too big for society to deem worthy. I was filled up with hurt and hopelessness and the light at the end of the tunnel shone too bright for me to see. Everything was dark around me back then, and I almost convinced myself it wasn’t worth pushing forward.

I’ve said this all before.

Forgive me for my presumption, but now that I’m on the other side of my self-imposed hellhole, I have some room to breathe. I have perspective. And the older I get, the easier it becomes to not give a shit what anybody thinks of me or my choices.

Folks will always judge — we’re social creatures and sometimes we bond over the tearing down of another human being. Or we care too much, think we know what’s best better than the person those decisions directly affect. That’s OK. Advice is nice sometimes and even when it’s not, no one says you have to take it.

I don’t want to live my life through someone else’s eyes. So I won’t.

There are a lot of things that bothered me in years past that I’ve found a way to make peace with. Some aspects of my personality that will probably never change, or I don’t want to change. I want to accept, and know myself, because we all die alone and I’ll be no different. If I’m not a friend to myself, how can I be a friend to anyone else?

I’m a loner. That’s OK, sometimes it’s better to just hang out by yourself. I don’t often get lonely, and if I do I call upon one of my few fantastic friends and they’re there to help me out. There’s no shame in watching Netflix all day, ignoring dishes and phone calls and invitations to go out with random dudes off the internet. There’s no shame in holing myself up in my room, playing computer games until my tired eyes beg me to go to sleep.

I’m fat. There we go, I said it. I’m closer to the biggest I’ve ever been than I am to the smallest, but somehow I’ve run out of fucks to give on that subject. Sure, maybe I met a dude one time and he told me all about how my personality is amazing and I have a beautiful face but DAMN if I was 70lbs thinner I’d be a real knockout. Excuse me, fuckhead. I AM A KNOCKOUT ALREADY and if you don’t believe me, maybe I should right hook you into unconsciousness? THANKS FOR THE HATEFUCK AND GOODBYE. I’m (relatively) healthy, my size doesn’t impede me from physical activities, I walk for an hour five days a week, and even if I did none of those things and just sat around eating cheesecakes all day, that’s my business and I can do whatever the hell I want.

I care, even though I try not to. Those chicks who are aloof and kinda punk rock and don’t seem to give a fuck about anything? MY HEROES. I try to emulate them the best I can but when it comes down to it, I totally want to hear about your dream last night or that time your cat died or all the subtle nuances of your favorite movie because I LOVE YOU SO MUCH IT HURTS. Physically hurts. I would go to bat for any one of my friends for any reason, I’m a loyal ass motherfucker. Sometimes I can’t stand up for myself but I’ll be damned if I don’t stand up for others.

I’m a slow fucking writer. Yeah, it takes me ten thousand years to organize the scrambled thoughts banging around in my noggin but every word is worth it, even the shit ones. I’ve failed NaNoWriMo twice and I’ll fail it again next year but the point of doing things isn’t always to succeed or have all the bragging rights forever, sometimes the point of doing things is just to fucking DO SOMETHING. Starting things is difficult, especially when those things involve sitting down and writing and finding ways to not distract myself for six hours on Reddit. Finishing them can be even harder, but I still feel accomplished when I’ve at least STARTED something.

It’s a new year. That doesn’t always mean a new you. Sometimes it’s better to just accept yourself the way you fucking are and make small changes when you’re ready for them. LEARN TO WALK BEFORE YOU FUCKING RUN.

Welcome back.

Life

Right, So About That…

Surrounded by half-filled cardboard boxes, a layer of dust settling on everything, I’ve decided I need a break.

Today has been more productive than the entire months of August and September combined, and I feel cautiously optimistic about it. I washed a month’s worth of smelly dishes, did a month’s worth of smelly laundry, and began packing twelve days before my moving date.

That’s right, in less than two weeks I won’t be calling this place home anymore.

If you’ve been following along, I haven’t been posting much lately. It’s not that nothing was happening so I had nothing to say, it’s more like EVERYTHING was happening and I was so caught up in my own head that whenever I tried to find the words, there was nothing but a blank space in my brain. That’s usually how it happens with me.

I don’t know what I’m doing with this blog anymore.

When I started writing here, I was about to move back to the city after a year-long breather up north. I had reconnected with my boyfriend (yes, even after he beat the holy fuck out of me it took me another couple years to realize I needed to get out). I had gotten my transfer. I had found my very own apartment. And it was in the same place I’m sitting now that I began a very long process of healing.

You can’t fully heal if one of the elements holding you back is still part of your life.

It’s been almost three months since I cut ties with him. Our relationship was dead long before I said the words out loud, but it still feels strange that he’s not a part of my life anymore. It’s strange to think about all the time I spent with him, all the wonderful and terrible things he said to me. They still rattle inside my head. As I began packing this morning, it occurred to me why I put it off so long.

I kept finding his stuff.

Five years is a long time to spend with someone. Over time they find ways to permeate your life, and when you remove them, sometimes you miss some of the things they left behind. Books. Childhood toys. Sketches. Pieces of them to remind you of how messy everything was when it ended. Looking at the things I found today, I can’t help but wonder what the hell I was thinking, staying with someone so obviously wrong for me. I’m still the person I was before I met him, but there are a few dents and battle scars. A few chinks in my emotional armor. A few different perspectives. 

I’m looking forward to getting out of here and starting over. This entire area of Toronto is full of memories for me, both good and bad. I don’t feel like I can fully heal and clear my head until I’m able to walk down the street without seeing something that reminds me of the past. I’m not interested in reliving it. I’m interested in being somewhere else, where I can make new memories with people who actually care about me. People who know me, and know everything I’ve been through over the past few years, and have still chosen to be there for me.

I only hope I can repay them.

So I haven’t been here much, but that doesn’t mean I’m gone. I’m closing the messiest chapter of my life in the hopes that I can open one that’s a little kinder to me. A little cleaner. Filled with a lot more laughter. I have a feeling I’m on the right track, ready for whatever comes next.

I’m not just a coffee wench. I can be so much more than that. I hope you’ll stick with me while I figure it all out.

Confessions, Life

I’m Sorry.

One of my favorite things about the location where I sling coffee every day is the part where we make plans to go drinking on weekdays. Every now and then the stars align and we’ll be able to get a group together to meet up with the closing crew and head out for cheap beer and good stories. More often than not we end up at The Imperial, crowding together on the couches or pushing tables together on the patio when we get too hot to live.

We ended up there last Wednesday. As the night was winding down and there were only a handful of us left sitting outside, a man came up and asked if he could sit at the end of our table. His friend was smoking nearby and I suppose he wanted to sit next to him.

Everything was fine until he started talking.

I’m not about to sit here and say there’s no such thing as psychics. I’m open to a lot of things in this life, and I certainly don’t think I know everything about the world around me, but believe me when I say this man was fishing for information and I didn’t realize it until it was too late to back out. He started by telling us he could see energy. I reacted by being a dick, mostly because I was a little drunk but also because I couldn’t figure out why he was interrupting in the first place.

He asked us all a lot of questions and then proceeded to make his predictions.

He asked me where my family was. I told him Newfoundland.

He asked me where my father was. I said, “In a hole in the ground.”

He told me my father is sorry, and suddenly I was not OK.

Not at all.

It’s not that I believed this stranger. It’s not that I put any faith at all in his ability to interpret my “hole in the ground” response as some sort of bad blood family drama indicator. It’s not even that he dared to make assumptions and offer fake sage advice on a subject he couldn’t possibly know anything about.

What upset me more than anything was how guilty I felt when he said that.

I had spent the previous weekend with my sister at my mom’s and we ended up drinking a little too much wine and having ourselves a long overdue heart-to-heart/confession cry-fest. I said some things about my relationship with my father that I would never say sober. I share a lot here, probably more than I should, but even I would never publish the things I had to say that weekend. So when I got back home and thought about what I’d shared, I began to feel guilty. When Fake Psychic told me my dad is sorry, it made me feel guiltier, as if somehow he’d heard what I’d said to my mom and sis and was apologizing for it.

When somebody dies unexpectedly, sometimes they leave a lot of emotional loose ends. When it comes to my relationship with my mother, I have an opportunity to talk over some of the actions she took when I was a kid and analyze them from an adult perspective to try to figure out why I’ve been having difficulties in certain areas of my life. Essentially, if you have living parents you have the option of yelling at them for fucking you up in your formative years. When your parent is dead, and died when you were still too young to understand anything about lasting impacts or psychological ricochets, it can be incredibly difficult to work out your feelings.

So I bury them. Not far enough that I can’t reach them, just far enough that they don’t cripple my normal routine. When I sat in my mom’s living room and talked about the truth of what hurts me, I ended up feeling guilty for having given voice to my inner dialogue.

So that’s why Fake Psychic pissed me off. That’s why I growled in frustration in the streets and punched a brick wall as a way to vent. That’s why I ended up in a playground in the middle of the night with some of my closest friends until I felt okay enough (and tired enough) to go home.

It’s nice to know I don’t have to face the dark alone anymore.

If my dad’s still out there, I hope he knows I’m sorry too.