bloggity blog, writing

Tired.

I am tired.

Not tired of life.

Not tired of the fight.

Not tired of the struggle or the everyday or the tides or the something.

Just tired.

Just exhausted.

And so I sleep and awaken a warrior.

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bloggity blog, writing

The danger of undeserved power

Prologue

The books I’ve read have always explained blood as smelling “coppery” or “metallic.” They’re not wrong, but they’re not right either.

Yes. I could detect that old-penny tang in the air, but there were other things too.

They never mention the rot of it. The butcher shop meatiness. The piss and shit part that will undoubtedly be there. Because if there is so much blood you can smell it, then someone is either dead or about to be. A band aid would no longer help them.

Blood doesn’t just smell like loose change. I should know. I was covered in it.

The final chapter

Pain was what I felt.

There was no shock. His behaviour no longer shocked me.

It was bad, what he did, don’t get me wrong. But it wasn’t the worst. This was a Tuesday morning type of hit. Not, say, a Friday night when he knew I’d have, at least, the weekend to recover so no one could see.

Some of you may ask, what did I do to deserve it? Cause I’ve heard that one before. I must’ve started it. Asked for it in some way.

And you’d be fucking right. I did something that pissed him off. I don’t regret it neither.

I bought the wrong ice cream.

I had stood in the super market, staring into the ice cream freezer at the ice cream I knew he liked. Trying to make a decision, I fiddled with the six dollars in very small change that sat fat in my pocket and jingled loudly, sounding out the joyous accompaniment to my poverty.

I could afford to get one tub of what he wanted but we’d have not much else to eat. And he’d never share the ice cream with me. I was fat enough, he’d say.

Or I could buy milk, bread and the cheap plain stuff. I knew I could make it nice for him. I thought we’d have some Oreos in the back of the cupboard, maybe some chocolate sauce. I could turn it nice like the expensive stuff. And that way, we could at least eat toast until his pay day.

I thought it was a good idea.

While I lay on the floor, feeling my lip swell and pulse, watching my blood puddle on the linoleum, I realised I was wrong.

He said nothing as he stormed away from me, fists clenched as if he were ready to take another swing.

I stayed on the floor. Unmoving. Trying not to cry. Crying only made it worse. Playing dead. If I don’t move he can’t see me.

I sneaked a peek as he sauntered around the kitchen, his boxing ring. He slammed open the freezer door so hard that it made me flinch and I doubted it would ever close properly again. Taking out the white and black tub, he threw it at the kitchen window with a thunderous, wet crash which made me flinch again.

The ice cream, half liquefied because our freezer was on the fritz, sprayed across the kitchen bench, vanilla white tears streaked down the cob-webbed window.

I still cowered as he stalked around the kitchen, breath like fire burning, he couldn’t get it out of his lungs quick enough.

I, a mouse, a small creature, heart murmuring be still, be still, be still. But, for the first time, I do not see a cat in front of me. I do not see a tiger, a lion, a wolf.

I see just a man.

And even if he were an animal, he would be a Chihuahua. All bark and some bite, enough to draw blood. But no longer enough to eat me alive.

If my heart pounds be still then it is the heart of a bear and he heard my roar. And I will not be still any longer.

He had power over me for a lifetime and I will give him no more.

It may not have been the worst time, just a Tuesday morning, but it was the last time.

I waited till the blood stopped pumping to call an ambulance. I had to dirty a tea towel to use my phone. I won’t lie. I enjoyed watching him die.

The cleaver in my clenched fist, slick with his blood, no longer shakes.

Power is not something that can be taken, it must be given, even if it seems stolen at times. But there is a secret they – the fake wolves, fake lions, fake predators – don’t want us to know.

We can take our power back.

Short story for Chuck Wendig’s Fiction Challenge

If you or someone you know is experiencing domestic violence, please seek help. Go to the police. Do not pass go. No two hundred dollars for you. Go now. Today. Because this bullshit has to stop.

To put it into perspective for you, here is a quote from Huffington Post.

The number of American troops killed in Afghanistan and Iraq between 2001 and 2012 was 6,488. The number of American women who were murdered by current or ex male partners during that time was 11,766. That’s nearly double the amount of casualties lost during war.

And this just for America. And this number has not improved. It is only getting worse.

Silence about domestic violence can be deadly. So please, please, please speak out. #notviolentnotsilent

And don’t resort to the lengths that my character went to. This is a work of fiction and by no means an instruction to murder a spouse. Abusive or not. No stabby stabby.

If you are unsure if your partner is abusive, I will attach something below that shows the typical behaviour of DV and DA situations. If any of the items on that list are checked please call the police, ask for help, stay safe.

You don’t have to walk on eggshells forever. You don’t have to be another statistic. You can have a life again. You have the power. You are stronger than you think.

Love

Amberley

Milk

Milk – chapter 2

Chapter 2 – Don’t

*if you haven’t read chapter 1, you can do so here. Don’t worry… it’s short.

Two paracetamol. One glass of Gatorade. Followed by coffee. All of the coffee.
I lean against the kitchen counter and stare out over the dust-laden house. That’s how small this place is. I can actually see all of it from in the kitchen.
It looks less like a house and more like an old photograph of a house. There is so much dust on everything, it’s like I am looking through a filter. If it were a filter on Instagram it would be called “dusty hangover.”
On the kitchen floor is a patch of red wine, sticky-fresh from the night previous.
I hadn’t exactly woken up in a puddle of vomit on the floor but I hadn’t not either.
I nudge my booted toe at the mess, trying to work out if it is mostly spilled wine or regorged wine. And does it matter? Not really. It is not the first time I would have to clean up my own puke. Not the last neither.
Thinking of Instagram, I take out my phone. There is a new crack on the screen. I must’ve fallen on my arse at some point last night. I run my thumb over the screen. It still responds. I will go online later and buy a new one.
I open Instagram and scroll through the notifications.
“Missin u”
“When you comin back???”
“Yo! Where are you at, Ms. C!”
The comments go on and on.
I smile at how much they all miss me.
Then.
It all comes back to me.
My brother. The accident.
I couldn’t have given him and open casket if I’d wanted to. Not that there would have been anyone else there, besides me, to see his mangled, unrecognisable corpse. And I sure as hell didn’t want to see it again.
I walk to the sink to refill the kettle and kick something along the floor. It skittles toward the kickboard and I hear the crack of breakage. Bending down to pick up the two pieces of the wine-stained mug I kicked, I realise I had used my brother’s favourite.
“Don’t do that,” says the memory of my brother. “You can be so careless, Conny.” I would purposefully use his mug and then place it on the edges of tables, teetering on the brink of destruction, just to get something out of my ultra-calm brother.
I place the broken mug on the counter and step back from it.
I feel like the king who would turn everything to gold with his touch. Except, I turn everything to broken.
I run out the front. I want to just sit and stare at the garden for a while. Even though I never understood why he lived the way he did, I always loved to look at that garden.
“Because I like living this way, Conny.” My memory of my brother said.
“But why? You should move to the city with me. Get out a little more. All you do is sit here with your garden.”
“I like my garden, Conny.”
“Why do you have to be such a fucking hippie! Did we even come out of the same vagina.”
I turn the old door knob and go out onto the porch, anticipating the green, the new growth, the scents of herbs and earth and flowers.
My stomach turns cold. Suddenly last night’s wine wants to regorge again.
Brown.
That is all there is. Brown. Ochre. Umber. Tawny leaves, crumpled, crumbling.
I don’t feel my legs as I walk down the steps toward the devistated garden.
As far as I can see. The rows and rows of once flourishing broccoli, twisted pumpkin zines, spinach, tomato, tall rosemary, basil, plum trees, peach trees, apricots. All of them.
Dry stalks. Brittle leaves.
What the actual fuck has happened here.
I feel my chest clenching. Bile at the back of my throat.
I turn and run back inside. I will deal with this situation. But not sober. I just … can’t.
My fingers shaking, I tip the coffee out of my mug and look around for the wine bag.
“Don’t drink so early,” says my memory-brother.
I look around the floor. I cannot remember where I put down the bag.
“Don’t be such a fucking hippie,” I said to him in retaliation.
Always in retaliation.
I see the bag by the door and I can barely wait to pour it into a mug.
I drink. Long. Deep. Sweet. Hot.
I see my memory-brother rolling his eyes, sipping camomile tea he has grown himself.
Pulling the empty mug away from trembling lips, I look out the back window. There is a post-it note on the glass, written in my brother’s hand.
“Don’t follow the lightning bugs.”

bloggity blog

Still Breathing

The thing about hitting rock bottom is that you never really know when you are there until you start to build up from it. Or until you are away from it.

You can assume that “it couldn’t get any worse,” but these words are often folly and should be treated in the same way as “Lord Voldemort,” (For the muggles – don’t fucking say it out loud)

Sometimes we find ourselves so broken we do not know what to do, where do we go from whatever shit-heap life has dolloped on us. But that is the thing about “Rock Bottom” is it can be a perfectly solid foundation on which we can rebuild ourselves.

And quiet often people get stuck here, in this mental and emotional wastelands that is Rock Bottom. We become so afraid to continue on, so afraid to live, that we get stuck floundering.

Rock Bottom is sort of like a basement/dead-end-town. Sometimes we have to go down there, forced to tip-toe down the creaky steps, breathing in the putrid, mouldy air, but it is not good for us to make a bed down there and exist down there. It is not living. We become hollowed out and empty.

Residency in Rock Bottom should be short lived, if possible. But, if you find yourself there, building your life back up should start immediately. The building process doesn’t need to be quick. Slow and precise is probably preferable. As long as there is some upwards movement, some growth, some positive change.

If you aren’t the building type, in Rock Bottom there is this place, kind of like a lookout. But from there you can actually see a great deal – often both bad and good. You can actually jump from this place. This is the only way to get to the good things you can see in the distance. The problem is that there is no concrete guarantee that you will land with the good.

And to take this leap you have to have a certain amount of faith. This faith does not have to be in God or gods or the universe or The Flying Spaghetti Monster. It can be in yourself. Failing all of those options, it could be faith in your desperation to get the fuck out of Rock Bottom.

I know I am rambling. Forgive me and please understand that this is as much for my own healing than it is to spread some sort of hope to the people.

I read a really good article by EC Myers on TerribleMinds and that is to do with Dystopian worlds and how they are a mirror of the way our current world is travelling. And it made me think of all this stuff.

We are often trying to do so much for the greater good or for others that we fo not take the time to look at our own stuff. Or we are so caught up in Rock Bottom that we forget about the big crazy world around us.

Both are provlems but they are fixable and the strategies are sort of the same.

Pick a goal. Head for that goal. Stop for nothing.

Choose small, easy to reach goals and then once you have completed that goal then pick another.

If your goal is to “become a rich and famous author,” that’s a fucking hard goal. Start small. “I’m going to write a book. I’m going to write said book 500 words at a time.”

Or, if you are new to Rock Bottom, you could start smaller. “I’m going to get out of bed today.” “I am going to take a shower today.” “I will eat something other than coffee or rum or chocolate … maybe not instead of but as well as.”

My psychologist had set the goal for me to “get my life back on track.” I told her, “first, I need to build a track because I fear that I never really had one.” And if I did have a track then it was one of those ones that kids play with, you know, the wooden ones that click together.

If you made it this far, (congrats and thank you!) then you may be as broken as I am. If you are, you are not alone. Remember that broken bones heal, broken people heal, it is possible to come back from Rock Bottom stronger than you were before.

Just remember, you are still breathing.

Love,

Amberley.