Mirror.

Not sure where this came from. I just wanted to try something different. Suspense and horror are not easy to create. Anyways, enjoy.

1 minute.
   It was late in the morning but morning coffee flavor still laid heavy on my tongue. The night before was long with images and videos being studied. I didn’t believe in the afterlife and I guess that’s what made it so easy to investigate people claims.
2 minutes.
   Years behind the camera, lurking in dusty, dirty basements, crawling through cluttered attics. Always an explanation. I never had a moments doubt that there was some, at times far reaching but sensible in reality, explanation. But this time it was different. The story didn’t mesh. The image didn’t make sense.
The last investigation was a few days prior.
   The woman was 22. A student at the local community college. She was convinced it was an ex boyfriend that had passed away in an auto accident a few years prior.

“It tickles my toes in the middle of the night. No one knows about that tickle spot other than him. He’s here.”

   I tried to assure her that there was an explanation for this. That there was a reason for all the activity. Bathroom doors were opening on their own, cabinets were being slammed. Activity was high by her description.
It all made sense to me. The doors, temperature changes. The building was old so within moments I felt confident about a few reasonable explanations. But the tickle part threw me. Until she completed her story. 
It was Xmas night and she was pretty drunk. Sad from a recent break up, thinking of her previous ex, before the night he died. She went in to the bathroom around 2 am. She took one last shot of bourbon and started to ask for him to appear to her in the mirror. She said she was in there for what seemed like hours. She awoke the morning hugging the bathtub and covered in sweat and tears. She put the night before as a bad Xmas eve.
   Soon afterwards she started to find cabinet doors wide open. She swears she would leave with everything shut and come home to find one or two open. A few nights later she awoke to what sounded like the bathroom door being slammed. But it was she left it before going to bed. Slightly open. She was convinced she wasn’t getting enough sleep.

   Then she started waking up to a tickling sensation.

“I hate to be tickled”, she said.

   An ex found her spot. He would wake her up in the middle of the night by tickling her toes. She used to wake up screaming at him. But after he died she really missed it. A few months later they broke up. He died shortly after that.

   Everything has a reason. Faulty heating. Old,uneven cabinets. Everything has a reason. But the tickling? It just didn’t mesh. That was until I discovered she has recently changed meds.

   Her Bi-Polar disorder had always been under control until recently when she had to change dosage. A few weeks prior to Xmas actually. She never saw the cabinets open on their own. Was always awaken after hearing the bathroom door slam. Never felt the tickles while awake. After I read to her some of the side effects of the meds with alcohol, how the interaction can affect her stability. Well she was able to breathe a little better. 

3 minutes.

    So here I am sitting in my bed a few days later. Flavor of coffee still on my tongue, the news playing in the background. And a man standing before me in the mirror, starring back at me. Intensely.

   He’s grey with black gums. His eyes have no color.

   What am I experiencing? Am I drunk? Meds? I can see my breath in a cloud before me-

4 minutes.

   My right hand is starting to tremble. What’s happening to me?

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Wrong number…

Just a small scene that doesn’t really fit in an aywhere, but I really enjoy the solitude of it.

 

The window is slightly open. Just enough to allow a small gust of wind push the blinds making a loud clatter as it rattles against the window. The phone rings. After the 4th ring the answering machine starts with an automated message stating

“Please leave your message after the beep”.

A male voice leaves this message.

“Hey, it’s me.”

“I know you don’t want to listen to my reason. I know you’re pretty pissed off. You have a right to be.”

“I just wanted to say that I never meant to hurt you and the kids. I thought I had all this under control. I thought everything was going as planned. I was so, so wrong. I miss you and it’s only been a few hours. But I know it’s going to be a while before I see you again. I guess that’s ok since I really deserve everything that’s coming at me… Don’t punish Roswell OK. He was just a part of me, nothing he did was meant to be malicious towards you or the kids, It was all me. He really is a good dog.”

“Please do me a few favors? I know I have no place to ask but I beg you to please consider just doing me these huge favors?”

“Tell my parents everything. I kind of figured you would enjoy it since there’s always been that bad blood there. I guess it’s the perfect revenge.”

“Please tell Miss Shelly at the market. You know, the one who always speaks to me when we’re checking out. She deserves to know.” “And if you can tell one other person. You know who. I know she’s too young to know or understand. But maybe you can tell her later when she gets older. Maybe you can tell her about me and how I would make her laugh for hours..…maybe she’ll remember me.”

“OK well I’m sorry. I really am. Guess that’s it.”

“Oh, and regarding Miss Shelly at the market. Forget it. She doesn’t need to”

A loud beep rings as the answering machine turns off.

Short Stories.

The next few stories are my recollections of text messages, poems and stories that came up while in the different stages of 3 relationships. These were very turmoil filled, stressed relationships. One eventually ended by divorce, one by a police restraining order filling and the other by her moving away. Enjoy my humor, embarrassment and awkwardness.

Her name was Jenny.
I had been sick. It was my day on call at the rape crises center. I was an advocate helping survivors with emergency calls and that Saturday was the busiest Saturday I had had in a long while. I had left Jenny’s house around 10 am. When you’re on call and a case comes in you have an hour to get down to the center. So I left her side and headed down. Fourteen hours later I headed home exhausted, tired and a little nauseous after eating something from the pantry. They usually had a bunch of stuff donated to them from local charities. The cup O’noodle soup seemed to have been a bad idea. I was suffering all the way home. Jenny was already asleep when I arrived. As I walked in to the bathroom to shower before going to bed I felt another bubble. The belly rubble that you usually get after eating something bad or after a night of mixing drinks. Luckily it seemed to pass and after a quick rinse I was off to bed. The next morning she got up before me and headed downstairs. I awoke, after only sleeping a few hours but the sun was up so what was the point of trying. As I was in the restroom Jenny came back up and found a stain on my side of the bed. I came out to her standing over my side of the bed. “What’s that?” she asked pointing to a dark brown stain on the avocado green sheets. “Probably from a chocolate”, I answered. She had a habit of eating some chocolate covered cherries in bed. “I probably fell asleep with one in my hand or something.” “We haven’t had any since last Sunday and just washed the sheets the other day”, she stated in a very matter of fact tone. Then I remembered how my stomach felt last night. As I realized what it may be she thrust her face into the sheets to get a better smell. It definitely wasn’t a stain from Cella’s Milk Chocolate Covered Cherries. She stood over the sink scrubbing her face for what seemed an hour. I said nothing as I took the sheets to laundry mat. Embarrassment doesn’t even describe how badly I felt. Well, at least I didn’t smell it.

Road Trip.
One minivan, five adults and one newborn. On a 1,320 mile road trip. Oh the horror. We were just recently married (about 8 months at this point) and I wasn’t too excited about spending so much time with my new in-laws. Grandpa had a cabin on Pelican Lake in Minnesota and that’s where we were headed. Joe and Kelly in the back row (brother in law and girlfriend), Judy and Adrianna in the middle (Grandma and my daughter), Sara driving (wife at the time) and I in the copilot seat. I’ve never traveled this far east before. I was excited but at the same time dreading it. I didn’t relate anyone in the car other than my daughter. Sara and I had started going down the “it’s not working is it?” road. Her brother was recently released from a four year stint in Tennessee from some drug charges. His size was intimidating but his girlfriend Kelly was a sweetheart. Never understood why he treated her so badly. Judy was an amazing woman but a bit emotional. Sara and her brother would play roughly with her, taunting and teasing her. I expected nothing less throughout this two day drive. I needed to use the restroom. It was around 10 pm and Sara was looking for a gas station. She wanted to keep stops to a minimum as to save on time and gas. In the 10 minutes from me telling her I needed to use the restroom, we passed 5 gas stations, none being the one we needed for the gas card. “Let me just drive a little further”, she would state. At this point my bladder felt as if it was going to explode. “Seriously just pull over!” I started to shout. “I could of ran in to any of the gas stations we passed and been done within 3 minutes.” But she kept going further and further. After twenty minutes of arguing I had had enough. I blew up. She pulled over to some side street and I got out, pissed in front of the van and slammed the door as I got back in the van. That experience was the reality of what we were to experience for the rest of the trip. Somewhere driving through Kansas Sara decided to play a trick on her mother. I’m not sure if she had talked it over with her brother but he played along smoothly. She asked her brother if the gas gauge seemed odd to him because it seemed to be dropping in gas. It wasn’t. But this of course gave Judy enough of a horrible scenario that she was convinced that the car was losing gas and we were all going to die in some tragic crash. After accomplishing what Sara and Joe set out to do they proceeded to belittle their mom for over reacting to their prank. For reacting how they expected her to react to their trick. I still had a week of this to go. The stay itself was amazing. The beach was a playground where Adrianna and I played daily. Taking walks in to the woods and enjoying the sounds. Sara, Kelly and Judy enjoyed Oprah on the TV while Joe went off daily to go fishing with his grandpa. On the drive back Judy pleaded to be dropped off at a Greyhound station, saying “she would rather ride back by herself”. I felt for her. I actually thought about asking for the same thing. Maybe it would make the drive back more of an adventure for me and my daughter. But instead everyone grew silent and the drive back was uneventful and boring. We separated a few months later, divorcing the following April. But my daughter and I still take multiple road trips every year. Instead with the family though we take Roswel, our dog.

California Border.
Her name was Becky and she was excited about moving back to California. We had attempted to be a couple a few times through out the 5 years we knew each other but for different reasons it never worked out. This last time that we ran into each other was 3 months before she was to move out to California. She was born and raised in L.A. and always talked about moving back. I knew I still had feeling for her but I couldn’t pass up the chance to see her as much as possible before she moved back. Towards the end before her move, I was starting to really host the idea about moving out there with her. Maybe change would be good for my daughter and me. Of course it would be hard at first but I loved this woman and sometimes you have to make drastic changes for those you care about. Throughout our on and off relationship, I was never given the title of her boyfriend. I’m sure her family already suspected this but Bec didn’t want to use the word since she was moving out of state. I didn’t care, I just wanted to be with her. So we kept the affection to a minimum, never around her daughter or family. But anyone who saw us together knew. I didn’t mind the facade. Soon we would be in Cali and I would be able to hold her hand without worry. The drive was long. We were hauling a trailer filled with all her belongings so I didn’t dare go over 55 miles per hour the entire trip. It was long and sad. I didn’t know when I would see her again. Would we continue with a long distance relationship? Would I survive not being able to kiss her? We kept the conversation light the entire way. Every stop closer we started talking more and more about what we should expect. She was pretty honest about what she wanted. I stayed silent about what I wanted because I knew it wouldn’t make a difference. She was moving away. That was it. Sometime after 10 pm we arrived to California border and she broke out into a celebrated cheer. She had moved away from Cali years before but always knowing she would return. She was finally almost back to her true home. And suddenly I grew even more depressed. I didn’t want the trip to end. She was going to be staying with a friend in Montclair for a few months until she got on her own two feet. After texting her friend about how far we were she asked me to pretend I was her brother. Reason was because her friend’s mom was staying with them and she’s very religious. “She wouldn’t be ok with the thought of you and I staying in the same room without being either married or related”, she said as I squeezed the steering wheel tighter. “You mean to tell me that after pretending in New Mexico for the entire time I’ve known you that we were less than what we actually were, I now have to pretend in a totally different state too?” I was hurt and furious. I was hoping to finally feel like a lover to her, in the open, with no restrictions. And now she was making wanting for me to keep up the charade. She saw how upset I was. She pleaded with me to pretend. I was leaving the next afternoon via train back to Albuquerque. I had my daughter and job to return to. Before I was dreading the train back but right at that moment I was anxious and excited about coming back alone. It was the reality that I guess I had been avoiding. We were ending and it was going to happen regardless the romantic scenario I was imagining in my head. The next afternoon I was dropped off at the train station. The goodbye was short and kiss-less. I rode back to New Mexico sad but relieved , realizing it was never going to work. The relationship ended the moment I crossed the California state line.

Midnight Caller.

Waking up in the middle of the night is bad enough but to be awoken to a loud obnoxious ringtone is something totally different. I had been volunteering with the Rape Crisis Center since last Oct and  even though I had been woken up many times before in the middle of the night, it was something I just couldn’t get used to.

1:06 am is what my phone flashed as I answered the call. The answering service stated the caller’s name was Shirley and she was looking to speak to someone regarding some personal issues. As I was being connected to Shirley, I started to state my name, but she cut me off and went right into the issue.

Most of the callers who call the Crisis Center are people in stressful situations looking for guidance or a friendly ear. Some are people who just need to talk. On occasion we may receive calls from someone who may have a mental disability and based on how bad things are, we refer them to a local mental health provider. Shirley fit this category.

She said that her son, who was currently living with a friend, wasn’t showering during the week and wasn’t coming home at night. “My son is lying to me and is trying to trick me because I have a lot of money. He’s being very sneaky and doing something anti-government. I already called the White-house, and I’m faxing them information about my son later today. He’s collecting soda bottles and I know he’s going to use them in some way.”

Usually I let the callers that need to vent go for about 10 minutes before I interrupt or offer any assistance. Shirley however was getting angrier now screaming that her son must be stopped.

“Excuse me Shirley, but would I be able to give you a number to call after 8 am this morning that would be able to help you better? I’m sorry but I just can’t help you regarding your issue since it’s not related to sexual assaults experience.” I said this as calmly and polite as possible, but I imagine this upset her since there was nothing but silence afterwards. It took me a few moments to realize that she had hung up the line.

So quickly I turned off the lights hoping to fall back to sleep. As I pulled up the covers, I awoke again to another call.

“A woman named Shirley”, said the answering service. She had called back.

I sat up in my bed, turned on the lights and accepted the call. I stated my name and asked how I can help. The line was quite for a moment with no reply. “I called earlier and you tried to push me off to someone else, so why should I try now?” I apologized to her, and said that the reason why I wanted to refer to someone else was because of the complexity of her issue, that they would be able to help her better. I had taught myself how to sound empathetic to callers when I needed to. ‘Please, how can I help?” I said. I thought to myself, I’ll give her another 10 minutes to vent and then I’ll refer her to MESA Mental intake.

“No, it’s too late for that”, she said. “I’m better off just killing myself”, and she disconnected the line. I sat on the side of my bed for a few minutes before calling the answering service and reporting her comment. They report it to the local authorities. For the rest of my shift I was wide awake sitting up on my bed. I didn’t receive any other call for the rest of the morning. I just sat there thinking to myself, replaying her calls in my head. They report that a very small number of callers actually commit suicide after verbally saying they will. At that moment I highly doubted that statistic.