About Me

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Kymberlie Ingalls is native to the Bay Area in California. She is a pioneer in blogging, having self-published online since 1997. Her style is loose, experimental, and a journey in stream of consciousness. Works include personal essay, prose, short fictional stories, and a memoir in progress. Thank you for taking a moment of your time to visit. Beware of the occasional falling opinions. For editing services: http://www.rainfallpress.com/

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Every Rose Has Its Thorn (Bryan)

“Every rose has its thorn, just like every night has its dawn.  Just like every cowboy sings his sad, sad song… every rose has its thorn…”
The scent is drifting in through the open window, clinging to the breeze that whispers to me at 3:05am.  Rainwater soaking into the woods, the leaves, seeping into the dirt.  It’s a  familiarity that comforts me, and this is what I need at the moment, not from another being but from nature, from something resembling a God or a Heaven.  I believe in the healing of the rain more than I ever might in the other.  The falling water seems to be a prelude to the tears that have yet to come.
          A few weeks ago, I found an old box of letters, and as each one was opened – each card smiled at once again, each friend remembered, it seemed as if I were once again drowning in the fountain of my youth.  Letters from junior high – thirteen year old girls weighing in heavily on the deepest matters of the world, - “does he like me, do you think?  Which song should I dedicate to him at lunch??”  Notes that followed us into high school, where the boys numbered many and the matters were deeper still. 
          A bundle of letters fell out, scattered on the table, and like an old home movie, a scratchy reel began to play out in the words before me.
          It was 1995, I was headlong into the radio station, working full-time hours for not a cent of pay.  My motivation was strong, my following was steadily growing.  Our station had signals that reached far into the hills and wide as far as Canada – listeners whom I heard from on occasion.  I’d developed my show with my tongue firmly in cheek.  When in the office, a business head prevailed.  In the studio, caution was checked at the door, and for the first time that I could remember, I was having fun, and was finally being recognized for something. 
          I enjoyed my listeners, most of them.  There was something in me, from the time I was young, that connected to music.  Growing older, being a child once upon a time of hidden wishes, I was driven to bring others and a favorite song together in a medley of emotion – be it happy, sad, angry… searching.  Spinning vinyl apologues connected me to strangers in the universe, while I was heard but unseen.
          One day a decorated envelope appeared in my office mailbox.  Inside was a letter, and a beautiful graffiti-style pen drawing of my air name adorned by imperfect, vivid red roses.  As I unfolded the carefully written letter, I was introduced to Bryan “Axl” Rose.  Bryan was a prisoner, in a federal penitentiary hundreds of miles away in Northern California, who listened to my show faithfully “whenever [his] Heisman Trophy maneuvers and trusty wire coat hanger pulled through.” 
          I was touched by his poetic words of my show being the bright spot in his otherwise dreary life, and how the songs being played were an anthem of his inner “good guy.”  Every instinct in me sternly warned against any sort of contact in return, but I never was one to listen to anyone, including myself. 
          Hesitantly, I wrote back.  There had been several pen pals throughout my years, from many walks of life – seemed I was always finding new reasons to write to someone, but being answered in return meant something to me.
          Bryan and I became fast friends, exchanging our sad stories, empathizing without sympathy, understanding without judgment.  He never blamed anyone but himself for the mess he was in.  His crime log included assault, burglary, drugs.  “Straight up, Kym, it was my punk self that got me here inside this cell, where the walls come in a little closer every day.”  He wasn’t much older than I was.
          He was shuffled from prison to prison every year or so, and often he would end up somewhere that he couldn’t hear the show, but he had somehow procured a cassette deck for his cell.  I would tape my shows and mail them with my letters, which were a journal of my anger and desperation at the time. 

          In his letters, Bryan would describe his “homeboys,” where respect and loyalty were thicker than water, and often paid for in blood.  His soft spots were two: his young daughter, and his best cellmate, “Deputy Dawg” Sean.  He and Sean would collaborate and send me the most amazing graphic work.  The letters would be written on hand-crafted stationary with flames, flowers and skulls in the corners.
          People often resent tag artists, for their graffiti and their attitudes, but truthfully it was a way for many street kids to shout out to a world who had abandoned them that they existed.  Tattoos, street graffiti, and their creators are a representation of something enchantingly beautiful in their otherwise horrific lives. 
          Bryan did his best to atone for his sins, with what humanity he had left.  He would talk about reuniting with his daughter, about “going legit on the outside with Deputy Dawg – maybe auto mechanics, a body shop or something big like that.”  He had a long way to dream, not scheduled for release until 2001. 
          After writing faithfully back and forth for a few years, he bravely asked me if I would ever consider visiting him.  I thought about it long and hard before agreeing to try.  I filled out the application, but was denied due to outstanding warrants on traffic citations.  Not having the money to clear them, the idea appeared to die somewhere in the miles between us. 
          My grandmother and my brother were all up in arms when they discovered I was writing to (gasp!) a convict.  My brother had pilfered a letter one day he’d seen in a stack of my mail, and promptly they ganged up to come down hard on me.  Friends weren’t much better with their lack of acceptance in yet another of my “misguided” deeds.
          If only I could remember things I’d written to him, but the words are vanished from my mind like a leprechaun running off with his gold.  Such a turbulent, fiery time of my life.  Long nights spent at work, whisking off letters I wrote by hand describing the turmoil all around me – always the compassion he felt for me outweighed the pity he felt for himself.  The sense of humor he kept as a defense shield, I got that – knowing it all too well.  The positive outlook, I hadn’t a clue.  I had freedoms he could only lie in a dingy, dim cell and long for, knowing they’d been stolen away by his own hand.  And yet… he was the one always trying to make me  smile. 
          “Not much happening on my end.  Same ol’ trivial nonsense associated w/ the House Of Pain.  It sucks!  But then, I guess it’s supposed to, huh?  Go figure.  And silly me, I thought I had signed up for a 4 star luxury vacation?  Ha.  More like a Nightmare on Elm St.  I keep waiting for my Caribbean cruise, but all I keep getting are these damn bus rides!”
          Bry-guy was not only my biggest fan, but my biggest supporter as well – be it with my microphone or my pen.  Always encouraging me to pursue my chosen career, no matter where it led me.  As I pondered a move to Minnesota, where I could keep an eye on my friend Jackie and her kids while diving into the shallow end of broadcasting, Bryan knew that his letters would reach me wherever I went.  It was now 1998, and I was in a state of indecision, but saving my meager paychecks nonetheless. 
          Bryan was never disappointed in me as I bounced around jobs, dates, friends. If somebody hurt me, he was there with a hug expressed in verse, and a threat of bodily harm following quickly after. 
          “On average, I’m out of the cell maybe 2 hrs a day – the rest of the time I’m usually inside this concrete coffin.  I’ve been here [at the new prison] for 3 months and still haven’t gotta job! 
          Well, I rushed this ink so I could get it out to ya, so I must lay my pen to rest.  Keep your eyes aimed toward the stars and smile real extra tuff!”
          He longed to meet face to face, but never pushed the issue, knowing it was a hardship, sensing also the slightest bit of fear.  I would send a pittance of money whenever possible so that he might buy things he needed.  Stamps, letters, pens – “we only get to go to store once a month – if you can’t don’t trip, honest!”  It was never enough to assuage the guilt that simmered in my belly for not making that trip.
          His release date was often pushed back by another six months, stacking one violation on top of another, for fighting and other misdemeanors.  “Kym, I straight up have to tell ya, a man doesn’t have much of a choice in these walls.  You stand up for yourself, and your boys, or you die.  I don’t make the rules – I just play along and bend ‘em when I can!”
          I don’t recall when it was that my letters faded away.  I think it was around the time I met my husband.  He wasn’t especially fond of the idea of our friendship, and I conceded because there were bigger battles I felt to come.  He meant well, with his protective nature, it was always myself I held accountable for letting yet another slip away as I moved into a new life. Roger was more understanding several years later in 2005 when I wanted to try writing to Bryan.  A letter was sent to his last known prison address, but a reply never came.   
Over the last few weeks in this spring of 2010, as I pulled the crumbling, colored handwritten letters of familiar Bry-guy rambles out of my box of memories, I held them in my hands and it was a familiar feeling.  Even ten years later, the smell of the paper and the long sentences dotted with Jiles left me feeling as though I’d just been wrapped in a big bear hug from an old friend.  I wondered if he was finally free, and with his daughter or at least near to her.  I pictured Bryan and Sean sitting on milk carton stools in front of their mechanic shop, arms crossed like two bulldogs as they watched over their ‘hood.
          Last week a friend gave to me a number that I could call to check the status of a prisoner in the California Detention system.
          “Do you have the inmate’s name?”
          “Bryan Rose.”
          “Prison ID number?” I provided the number I’d memorized while carefully printing it on a hundred or more envelopes.
          “Relationship to the inmate?”  This surprised me.  I hoped they didn’t only release information to family members.
          “It was a .. personal .. relationship.”
          “Friend?  Family?” 
          “Friend.  A very good friend.”
          There was a slight catch in the operator’s voice.  “He was discharged in April of 2005.”  This explains why I never heard back from him with my last letter, I thought.  “I’m sorry, he was discharged due to death.  He was still incarcerated at the time.”

          “If I leave here tomorrow, would you still remember me?  For I must be traveling on now, there’s so many places I’ve got to see…”

© Kymberlie Ingalls, April 22, 2010
Lyrics:  “Every Rose Has Its Thorn” – Poison
          “Free Bird” – Lynyrd Skynyrd

Saturday, June 2, 2012

Carefree Highway

“Her name was Anne.  But I’ll be damned if I recall her face.”  The grizzled features that stared back at Ray from behind the bar couldn’t possibly be his – the shaggy gray beard with fading streaks of color, the lines that ran deep in the sun-colored skin, eyes that had seen the world and all of its evils.  He wasn’t that old.  His gaze went right through the bartender as he continued to take in his reflection.  “She left me not knowing what to do.” he drank from the cool beer in front of him. “And that I’ve never forgotten.”
          Why was he telling this guy?  Until a week ago, he hadn’t thought of her in over three decades.  Keep lyin’ to yourself, buddy.  Tell the old man another lie too.  Ray swiveled his head like an owl to see if he was still the only one in the joint.  Yep, just him and the barkeep.  That’s why you’re telling this guy.  There’s nobody else to overhear your pathetic tale of wanderlust. 
          He reached back in his memory.  “I gave my little girl a porcelain doll once.  Pretty little thing, it was.  Soft when you touched her.  Dark hair, with green eyes and a smile that was painted on, but like there was a secret inside that couldn’t be seen unless you broke her open.”  His daughter had adored that doll.  Ray hadn’t wanted to admit to himself why it called to him from the store’s window.  It fed his dreams whenever he saw it on her white storybook shelf, propped against the well-read books. 
          The bartender dipped a used glass into a small sink full of soapy water and wiped it dry before placing it among the others.  He’d heard this story before, Ray was sure of it.  His, or a thousand others just like it.  The light peeked in through the dirty windows, casting shadows behind the bottles that glinted beneath the mirror.  All lined up, begging for stories.  Each shot that was poured was a tale waiting to be told. 
          Ray pulled out his tarnished watch and sprung it open.  .  He should be on the road right now, logging miles in the rig to get to his next load, but when he’d seen the sign for Apache Falls as he rolled through the Midwest, it lured him from his route.  He shoved the watch, a gift from his old man back when he finished school, back into his jeans pocket. 
          He’d seen the sign on many of his trips across the country, and tried like hell to outrun it as he pushed on the gas just a little harder than usual.  The memory of one night had haunted him for a lifetime.
          “A dark, green-eyed beauty ain’t nothin’ to forget.”  The bartender mused.  The name above the door as Ray had wandered in read “Joe’s Place.”  He figured it was Joe standing there – had to be a one-horse bar in a two-horse town.  “Where ya headed?”
          Tennessee, this trip.” 
          “Yeah?  Always wanted to visit the old South.  Take the wife to that there ol’ Opry, see some of the greats.”  As if on cue, Merle Haggard came alive on the jukebox that sat in the corner.  The volume was low, to match the empty bar. 
          “I’ve been there and back a hundred times or more.”  Ray said. 
          “Where ya comin’ from?”
          Oregon.  That’s where my family is.  Wife and my little girl, Sarah.”  He closed his eyes for just a moment as he pondered what he’d done.  Sarah had driven with her girlfriend off to college the week before he’d left.  “Hell, she isn’t so little anymore.  All grown up now.” 
          “Got a few of those myself.”  Joe chuckled. 
          “She’s the only one.  A surprise when she came along, but I wouldn’t have changed it for anything.”  Ray told the old man how nineteen-year-old Ellie had tearfully given him the news.  He stared in horror at the blue-eyed blonde-haired girl before him.  The girl next door, literally; they’d grown up together.  They’d messed up, and now she was pregnant.  They were small-town kids, he only a year older at twenty.  Back then a man did one of two things – stepped up or fled the coop, and he wasn’t a runner.  Until now. 
          They weren’t in love, but they liked each other enough to get hitched for the sake of the baby.  Ray and Ellie grew into each other, and Sarah bonded them.  But Ray had a secret. 
Just as they’d begun seeing each other the year before, he’d put a down payment from money he’d saved working at the local service station on a used long-hauler.  He hadn’t been on too many gigs when he rolled through Apache Falls one afternoon as the sun was setting over the prairie.  He remembered it like it was still painted fresh in his mind.  Reds and oranges and pinks streaked the sky as the blazing yellow sun settled into the distant hills. 
As he pulled in to stay for the night, there was a roadhouse with an open door where a young crowd stumbled in and out, smoke trailing behind them that clouded around the neon beer lights.  Figuring he could use a drink to wind down, Ray parked his truck in the vast field behind the shack alongside two others.
It was three Budweisers after he figured out this was a guy who didn’t ask for proof of age when he ordered a shot of Jack with the next round.  While he waited on the drinks, a girl about his age slid onto the stool next to him, rubbing shoulders as she leaned with laughter at whatever her girlfriend had said behind her. 
“Oops!  Sorry!”  She straightened herself on the chair and giggled at the bartender when he came back.  “A champagne cocktail for her,” she nodded to her friend, “and…“ glancing at Ray, “I’ll have what he’s having!”  Her green eyes rested on his for a millisecond, but it was enough.  Admiring the way her chestnut hair fell in waves just past her shoulders, brushing against the western-styled plaid shirt tied at her waist above the faded jeans covering the longest legs he’d ever seen, Ray forced himself not to stare. 
“Uh,” he stammered, “It’s on me, whatever she’s having.”  He tugged at some wrinkled bills from his pocket, tossing them on the bar.  Suddenly there was no crowd, no Journey playing in the background.  There was only this creature smiling at him.
“Thank you!  I guess that warrants a name then, doesn’t it?”  She offered him her hand.  “Anne.”  When he didn’t answer, she laughed again, softly.  “What’s your name, stranger?”
Coming back to his senses, he shouted his name above the din while her friend snatched her pink cocktail and danced her way back to a group of friends.
And there they sat until the bar closed down.  They walked outside and around to the back field, neither ready to say goodbye just yet.  He learned that she was a rancher’s daughter, some days content with that but there was an artist in her longing to be freed. 
“It’s nothing more than a silly old dream.”
Ray couldn’t stop himself from reaching into the starry night and caressing her cheek.  “There’s nothing silly about that.”  And then they kissed.  It seemed to last for hours, and he knew he wanted it to last a lifetime. 
The more they shared, the further in love they fell.  When the sun began its ascent, Ray and Anne couldn’t pull themselves apart without a sadness overtaking them.  But he had a job to do.
“It’ll only take me two days to reach the west coast, and another two to get back after a quick stop at home.”  Ray held her chin up high so he could hold her gaze steady with his.  “But I’m coming back for you.  If you’ll have me.”  It was a promise he wanted to carve in stone.
“I think I want that… very much…” she raised her lips to his again as they curved into a smile.  And they parted.
Two days later, his promise was lost in that prairie when Ellie shattered his world.  How the hell…?  They’d only been together three times.  Hell, they’d only been dating for just a few months. 
The mornin’ after blues from my head down to my shoes… words echoing through him like a witch’s chant.
Ray never could bring himself to go back to that little town.  Surely she was better off thinking it was a magical night that never really happened, rather than being with a man who ran off and left a baby behind.  It was a secret he harbored from Ellie for the last eighteen years.  They’d settled into a life that was content, she went to work running the office of a local attorney, and the road trips gave him the quiet he needed; but Ray knew his heart wasn’t in the marriage and knew that hers wasn’t either.
One day they’d gone to a museum in nearby Ashland, a last family outing before the summer ended and Sarah was off to school.  There was a collection premiering of Midwestern artists.  His heart nearly seized when his eyes fell on a canvas featuring an old ramshackle roadhouse, dimly lit on a starry night, with two lone figures beneath the moon.  The placquard next to the art read Anne Turner. 
It was then that he made up his mind.  His little girl was going to be on her own now.  It was time, and Ellie deserved better than what she had.  They’d made a good life for their daughter, but it was time.  After dinner that night, Ray sat his wife down on the front porch swing, and they talked.  They were good enough friends that the tears were brief, but this wasn’t an unexpected twist for either of them. 
But now what the hell do I do?  Quietly that weekend he stuffed his clothes into oversized duffle bags.
“Don’t worry.”  Ellie watched him with a forlorn, faraway expression, a prideful grace keeping her still. “Your stuff’s not going anywhere.  You can come get it when you figure things out.”  He loved her then, more than he ever had. 
Guess it must be wanderlust or tryin’ to get free from the good old faithful feeling we once knew…
And now here he was in Apache Falls, telling his story to a stranger while he nursed the broken heart he didn’t deserve to have.  “The thing that I called living was just being satisfied, knowing I had no one left to blame.”  The two men were silent for a moment.
Joe reached beneath the payphone that hung on the wall like a lonely reminder of simpler times and grabbed at the thin phonebook, tossing it on the bar in front of Ray. 
“I could keep pouring what-ifs into that glass, or you could take your chances, if you’ve got a nerve to.”
Ray stared heavily at the mirror again, still trying to recognize the man he saw.  Slowly he opened the dusty book, turning the thin pages until his finger rested on her name.
“She’s still here.”
          “Yeah, took over her daddy’s place there when he died, she’d been without a Mama since she’s just a girl.”  Ray looked at him with a question in his tired eyes.  “And no, she never did marry.  Lived with a feller for a long time, but the story went that she just wouldn’t make it official, so he left town a few years back.  She’s made a name for herself around these parts with those paintings of hers, but she stays pretty quiet out on the ranch.” 
Reaching for his cell phone, Ray realized he’d left it in the cabin of the truck.  Joe bounced a couple of quarters at him, and as if in a trance he watched them roll to a stop and fall down on the bar top. 
“This one’s on me.”  The bartender smiled.  “Don’t you think it’s about time?” 
Ray pushed himself to his feet, still unsure.  He could walk out of here right now, and nobody else would ever know he’d been here.  Indecision hung in the air, shadowed with fear.  Finally he moved toward the phone.  Joe walked off to the other end of the room, pretending to dust off the pool cues in their rack. 
Searching through the fragments of my dream-shattered sleep, I wonder if the years have closed her mind?    Dropping the coins in the slot and lifting the receiver that smelled of many drunken pleadings for forgiveness, Ray pushed the buttons with trembling fingers. 
Her name was Anne, and I’ll be damned but I still recall her face...

© Kymberlie Ingalls, June 2, 2012
Inspired by the song Carefree Highway, written by Gordon Lightfoot

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Original Sin

The curves of the road were as dangerous as those of her own figure as the fog deepened into a mist across the windshield of the Firebird.  More curves.  Her hands gripped the steering wheel as a racer would – ten and two, prepared for anything on the road immediately in front of her  Balls to the wall speed with the power to stop on a dime.

The stereo blared around her, pulsating from the speakers with a woman’s mournful wail.  “Baby, do you understand me now?  Sometimes I feel a little mad – but don’t you know that no one alive can always be an angel?  When things go wrong, I feel bad..”

A lock of raven hair fell to the side of her face.  Distantly, she realized there was a touch of wetness where it brushed her ivory skin that caught the pale glow of the moon.  A tear that must have fallen from the emerald that flashed defiantly at this sign of weakness.

She was remembering a time of being young, when her brother seemed to care about her; patiently teaching his little sister to read, and being so proud that at three years old she did so quite well without needing him anymore. 

Perhaps that was the moment that changed things.

Now they stood divided, at war with their father in between, over things that should have been forgiven long ago, that never should have become a battle to begin with.  It tore at her heart to see them both struggle with loving her.  Both had walls taller than her own. 

It would seem that she had a long habit of making liars out of the best of men.  The worst of them fed on her own lies; the delusions that she laid out like bricks around her.  As far back as she could reach into her memory, people lied to her.  It was the men, however, who told lies with layers of love, lust and resentment bleeding through the cracks.

She was fifteen years old when the man who worked for her father touched her.  She didn’t know to be offended.  There was only confusion, and curiosity, colored with a bit of shame.  He had twenty-five years on her, and she didn’t understand why Mike would be interested in the slightest.  She didn’t dare let on to her father that not one, but two of the men at his shop were hitting on her – one was even married. 

Her uncertainty continued as she grew older.  She was seventeen when she visited Mike one night in his shack behind the warehouse.  In the dingy light, she fumbled that she’d been in the area and just wanted to say hi.  It was the beginning of experimentation for her.  Wanting to understand the language emanating from his stare, despite her uneasiness.  Fear caused her to back out of the door when he moved toward her.

She was nineteen when Mike came stumbling to her apartment door.  It was three in the morning, and she’d been asleep after a double shift.  Pounding on the latched door just outside her window, she heard him fall to the cement walkway in a drunken tumble as he called out for her. 

“What the hell do you want?” she hissed through the thin door, refusing to open it. 

“Fuck if I know.  I want you, but I don’t know why.  You’re kind of a bitch, hell you’re not even that attractive.  But I can’t stop thinking about you.”  He was silent for a minute, and she was scared.  “Let me in.  I want to be with you.”  He pleaded quietly.

”Go home, Mike.”  She went back to bed, listening to him still talking to her from outside.  She peeked out from behind the sheet that hung across her window in a makeshift curtain.  He was sprawled against the plaster wall.  It wasn’t until after she fell into an uneasy sleep that he managed to get up and leave. 

Those words echoed as she maneuvered between men.  None could ever seem to speak to why they wanted her, they just did, but their disdain was often apparent.  She took them, but didn’t always want to.  Her long, tall legs caught many an eye, but her unkempt hair and cheap clothing didn’t match the crystal eyes and a figure that girls deluded themselves into calling ‘voluptuous.’ 

It was the eyes that kept them coming.  Eyes that she kept downward, but they betrayed her just the same.  If they could soften those eyes… foolish men always challenging an angry bull. 

Green eyes that glazed over as she drove.  The chill came through the open window to the side of her, and whispered against her sleeves.  She breathed in deeply but the air rushing in was sharp and burned her throat. 

Faces flashed before her, in a hazy collage with the red stream of lights ahead of her and the white dots speeding past.  Faces of the men who wanted what she had to give.  Her body was a weapon that she used to get what she wanted from them, that then turned and self-destructed.  There was a wildness in her shadow that men longed to tame.  She sensed it, even if she didn’t know how to harness it. 

She willingly let them lure her in with their lies like a shiny red apple in reach, but then bolted as a colt runs for open space.  She left behind her own dusty trail of misdeeds.

Then the lies stopped one day.  Promises were made, vows spoken.  She was safe, shrouded in a blanket of honesty.  He wouldn’t lie to her.

He certainly hadn’t meant to.

A truth can give birth to a lie without ever being seen by the naked eye.  As the intimacy between them faltered, as she lost hope of ever feeling his touch again, she felt lied to.  Her aging body, her jaded mind – he’d promised to love all of her, as a lover as well as a friend.

Then there came a bloody night that nearly took her from him, and everything changed.  Their fear knicked away at the bond they shared.

As the gap widened, she clung tightly with one hand holding his in desperation while the other beckoned the liars to come to her once again.  But she was mortal now – she had felt hope, and love.  She now believed when another dangled such things in front of her blazing, hungry eyes.  Staring back at her from the mirror was a ghost who’d taken the form of a vibrant woman – someone who, in the light of a distant moon, even believed when the men talked of her beauty that glimmered like the gold in her ring. 

She thought of Mark.  They began innocently enough, nearly two years ago, and could hardly be called an affair.  Like men before him, Mark said things that she needed to hear as their internet friendship grew into a tangled mess of what could and could not be.  He gave her truths that quickly tarnished.  Feeling numb from the neglect of her husband, she gave without caution.  She danced prettily for him, until her needs grew, and he bailed on her.  Left her holding letters of intimacies between them.  Left her aching, raw and blindsided. 

And alone.  She couldn’t confide in anyone. 

With the hurt came an awakening of something buried deep inside.  Something that clawed at her soul, breathing fire in her blood.  Smoldering embers that fed the wild child lying dormant within – the child who acted out when she didn’t get her way. 

She saw a different kind of want in the men around her.  They wanted to possess her as a diamond that’s been mined from jagged coal.  Tom, who didn’t want to share her.  Saul, who finally confessed what she now didn’t want to hear.  Benjamin, who pulled her close in a passionate dance of words only to push her away again and again.  Stephen, who loved her quietly.  Nick, who was all too willing to share her.  At last she’d harnessed the power of her words, and those damned eyes, using them to create this garden of original sin. 

As their faces swirled and twirled in the dark, her foot pressed a little harder on the accelerator.  One face stared sadly at her.  The face of the one she wanted most but couldn’t reach. The speedometer climbed slowly, the car hugged the reflective dashes that curved this way and that.  One slip and the Firebird would slide headlong into the nearest tree.  That would be something she could feel, wouldn’t it?

Would that be such a bad thing?  Would these men mourn the loss of her, or simply move on? 

Would the lies die with her?

“The truth about lies is that we don't always know when we're telling them.”

Angry words that she had written on a hot, lonely night. 

She slowed into her shadowed driveway, sighing heavily as the music faded and the car rolled to a stop.  Home, to the one she loved, until she took to bed those who loved her.  

“If I seem edgy, I want you to know that I never mean to take it out on you.  Don’t you know that I’m only human; I have thoughts like any other.  I’m just a soul whose intentions are good.  Oh, Lord, please don’t let me be misunderstood…”

© Kymberlie Ingalls, December 30, 2011 

Love The Way You Lie / Kymberlie Ingalls
Don’t Let Me Be Misunderstood / Cyndi Lauper

Thursday, January 12, 2012

The Summoner's Ghost (Tom)

For the first time that she could remember, she was afraid of her best friend.  Walking along the beach, shivering in the night while the gentle water teased her bare toes, the memories were a tidal wave that left her drowning in its wake.  So many hours spent bonding, connecting.  In the decades past, so many chapters – teacher and student, friends and lovers.. soul mates…
          What comfort that connection had brought now was replaced by terror at the impending sense of loss that crashed over her when she dared to let it, though it was quickly pushed back into a dark corner of her mind.  For several months, she had found ways to occupy her time.  She now rested before the clock could strike twelve, and kept her days filled with tasks to distract her lonely mind.  But she missed him like a child who has outgrown their teddy bear yet is reluctant to let go.  Like one talks to a fuzzy old bear, she would stare into the night sky and knit her dreams together beneath his watchful eye.
          She missed stretching out beneath the scattering of stars that he tossed into the sky just for her, feeling the warmth behind his cool touch, and the reach of his understanding.  Never had there been fear, always strength.  Gazing upon his wise mythical face had brought much comfort during her turmoil.  His majestic force simmered in her heart, a bubbling cauldron of memories. 
Wrapping her arms around herself, she gathered her will and lifted her eyes upward, but they fell short.  Was he there?  Was he ever not?  Moments spent with lovers that he had bared witness to, times that were spent alone in reflection as well.  Remembrance of walking along a silvery path, an outstretched beam that wanted to touch but never quite connected.  When there were questions, in his silence she had found answers. 
And question, she had.  Seeking out his wisdom to illuminate her path – not always sure of the journey, of the direction, but never was there uncertainty about who watched over her. 
          There had been changes lately, and change has rarely been her friend, often bringing  about apprehension, insecurity.  Change brings the unknown to darken a doorstep.  She did not welcome change. 
          There were long nights that her friend lay dormant, hovering in the background.  Moments of crossing the night’s sky together had passed, it seemed, until she came to need him again at her side.  Now the time has come that she’s chased him away.  spent separated only by a clear pane of glass, the glimmering shadows cloaking them in secret whispers – this haunted her.  It followed her into the darkness of her dreams, and lingered as an eclipse in the hours of light.  It brought about a torrent of rain before she could blink.
          A numbness had overtaken her, these last months.  The loss of feeling in her limbs, and muscles, was simply a mask she was sure for the loss of feeling in her thoughts and her heart.
          He had always held the ghosts at bay, assuring her that no matter how close they got, there was a safe place to be.  Now that place doesn’t exist.  Perhaps it only ever existed in her mind, and in her slow demise she was beginning to see the shifting sands that she  had stood upon all along. 
             Now, one of those spectres seemed to have escaped and burrowed through to that concealed place, and there were no magical brooms to sweep it away.  Reminders were everywhere – the violins she heard in a Tartini concerto were more poignant, the flashing black and white images on a movie screen were suddenly colored in bold emotions, the words that were nestled in their paper suddenly reached out to cry at her louder than ever before.  And this demon only ever came to her under the light of the moon.   She was frightened of all that lay alongside the road behind her, more so of what shadowed the road ahead.
          This ghost had taken her on a journey to the darkest part of herself.  A place she had been before but never with as much to lose as she could at that moment.  Holding her hand, guiding her like a carnival clown beckons one to the mazes and mirrors, she had followed only to be confronted with her own inner illusions.  When she finally stumbled away, it was with a tired heart and a weary mind.
          Brazenly, she now raised her head to the sky, feeling an anger well up inside of her.  How dare that phantom ghost come between them?  All of her life, so much had been taken from her.  When would there be peace, would it find her tonight?  As the hours fell slowly away, trepidation prevailed upon her, much like a gathering storm.
          Staring intently at the large grey moon above, she sought his eyes, his face.  Where was her Man In The Moon, her confidant who had always been her calm, who now was her fear, her disillusion?  When had he become the foe to hide from?  When had he forsaken her?  Little else had mattered as much to her in this world as the bond she held with him.  Deeply lost, wondering if the tie was severed, or merely torn?   When she looked now, there was only a cold stone in the night, devoid of all storybook charm.
          Throughout the days, she had felt the cracks webbing across her heart, bit by tiny bit.  From the Moon she drew her inspirations, her musings, her words – and without her words, it was a slow perish of her voice.  As each sun had set, she would bow her head in sorrow.  A gaping hole was left where the ghost had entered her soul, and through it she had chased her Moon away.
In the wind around her, she heard the quiet strains of his voice.  With her hair whipping about, and her toes dug into the sand, she stood weakened but fierce in her stance nonetheless.  Turning reluctantly away from the tide, her sadness having overcome her, she vowed silently to return someday.  Some day she would be strong enough to battle the ghost within, some day she would find her way home. 
“You’ll remember me when the west wind moves among the fields of barley.  You’ll forget the sun in his jealous sky as we walk in fields of gold…”

~ Kymberlie Ingalls, November 12th, 2009

Lyrics – “Fields Of Gold” / as sung by Eva Cassidy