The Other Girl – 27 October 2015   2 comments

I can’t believe it’s been three years since I posted something here. That’s about how long it’s been since I really wrote a short story that wasn’t mostly just a journal entry. Maybe I’ll post some of those here at some point too.

This is a very important story for me. While it’s very much a fictional story, there are definitely elements of it that I have drawn from my own life. It’s a story about depression, and definitely became part of my own healing process as I was writing it. I hope that regardless of how people feel about the writing style or the character they share the story (or their own story) to raise awareness about what depression is really like. How it isn’t definable as just feeling sad or being unproductive.

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THE OTHER GIRL

“So long for now! And remember, if you liked this look, have suggestions or questions, please leave a comment below. Like and subscribe to see more weekly tips from me! Always yours, Mel!”

Melanie waved at the camera for a few seconds before reaching over and stopping the recording. She let out a sigh and looked down at her desk. Glitter eyeshadow and loose powder covered just about every surface, including her keyboard. Mel had a feeling that if she ever took apart her laptop it would look like a pixie had hemorrhaged to death in it.

Leaning back in her chair, Mel stretched her arms and stifled a yawn. She had been up all the previous night practicing her Halloween cat eye for her channel and then had wanted to film while the sun was coming through her bedroom window at a good angle. Part of her wanted to just edit the video and be done with it, but she knew it would end up looking like crap if she did that with no sleep. She would end up putting the video up at like one in the morning on Friday instead of Thursday afternoon like she was technically supposed to for her schedule, but none of her regular viewers seemed to care. It had almost become a running joke with them taking bets on when she would finish.

A smile crept across her face for a second. Mel’s following was small, but loyal and very vocal. She had about 30,000 subscribers, but only averaged 5,000 views per video. It wasn’t the most popular channel, but Mel considered herself lucky to reach that many people. The smile slipped away though as she mentally began to prepare for the barrage of hateful comments. That was the downside of the internet. Some people just wanted to make other people feel bad about themselves.

Mel sighed again.

She got up from her chair and walked across the room to her wardrobe. The doors were stuck open from the pile of clothes at the bottom that had begun to spill out onto the floor. Grabbing an oversized shirt off the top of the pile, Mel pulled off the tight black t-shirt she wore for the video and replaced it with the more comfortable top. As usual, she hadn’t bothered putting on pants to film. No one saw her standing up anyway.

The light was still on in her bathroom even though the sun was fully risen. Mel flicked it off and ran warm water into the sink. She ran a make-up removing wipe over her face before splashing it with the water. The exhaustion really kicked in then and she fumbled behind her for a towel to wipe the running mascara out of her eyes. She finally grabbed one and patted her face dry before looking up.

Meredith stared back at her from the mirror.

“Oh no, not you,” Mel said to the other her. Meredith just sneered at her, long trails of black make-up running down her face and onto her neck. Mel scooped up more water and scrubbed at her skin, but when she looked up again Meredith was still there.

“Pathetic,” one of them said, Mel wasn’t sure which. She turned away and went back into her room. The sun was suddenly too bright and she crossed the room to pull the curtains shut. Meredith grimaced back at her in the window reflection right before she tugged the heavy blackout curtains across it. Mel flopped onto her unmade bed and pulled a blanket over her head. She curled up in a ball, the air quickly becoming too warm and humid from her breath, but she dared not uncover her head. She knew Meredith was out there. Just biding her time.

“How’s it going?” Meredith asked.

“I’m not talking to you,” Mel replied and pulled the blanket closer around her head.

“I’m just here to help, though,” the other girl replied in a wheedling voice.

“I don’t want any help you have to offer.”

“Well, maybe just listen to me then.”

Mel was silent; trying desperately to block Meredith out.

“How many people do you think are going to watch that video?” Meredith asked after a few seconds of silence had gone by, “I’m guessing not very many. What like a few hundred? Maybe a thousand? Pfft. Who would want to watch a video about makeup by a girl no better than average? You can’t even do anything cool like SFX or body painting? What’s the point?”

“Go away,” Mel said, her voice muffled by the blanket.

“No,” Meredith replied with vehemence and threw back Mel’s covering, “look at me.”

Mel sat up and looked in the full length mirror next to her wardrobe. Meredith glared at her.

“What do you want?” Mel asked, exasperated.

“I want you to stop trying to be something you’re not,” Meredith said, “it’s just pathetic. You have no right to try and teach other people how to do something you’re barely skilled at. It’s disingenuous. You’re lying to these people. Acting like such a big deal when the most basic girl can do the “tricks” you teach.”

“It’s not like I tell people I’m a makeup artist,” Mel replied, “it’s just for fun.”

“Fun? You’re a fraud. An ugly fraud who has no right to tell other people what to do!”

“Shut up!” Mel grabbed a pillow and threw it at Meredith. It hit the mirror and fell to the floor with a soft thud, but Meredith was unphased.

“I’m not going anywhere!” Meredith grabbed a red lip liner from the bedside table and began to write.

“Fraud,” across Mel’s arm.

“Fake,” down her neck.

“Bitch,” on her stomach.

“Slut,” on her thigh.

“Worthless,” across her chest.

“Stop it! Stop it!” Mel screamed and threw the liner across the room.

Meredith grinned from the mirror, but said nothing.

Mel got up and went into the bathroom. She ran some hot water into the bathtub and got in when it was only half full. It was too hot, but she didn’t care. Pulling her knees up to her chest, Mel sobbed into the words on her thighs. The remnants of black eye makeup running into the red scribbles, creating messy streams. Mel grabbed a washcloth and scrubbed at her skin until it was raw, but she could still see the words.

“It’s not coming off because it’s true,” Meredith said from the bathroom mirror. Mel rubbed harder until it hurt too much. She dropped the washcloth in the water and leaned back in the tub.

For just a second she let water cover her head. For a second time stopped. For a second everything was quiet.

Mel came back above the surface. Her sobbing renewed as she added more hot water to the tub and it made her skin ache where she had tried to rub Meredith’s messages away. The water came up just below the rim of the tub. If Mel moved too much it sloshed over the sides a little. A mess to clean up later. Or not. She didn’t care.

“Betcha can’t hold your breath for a minute,” Meredith says.

Mel takes a defiant deep breath and sinks below the surface again. It’s quiet; just the sound of her heartbeat in her ears. After ten seconds her chest already hurts. She knows the water ends just inches above her face, but it seems like a mile. Twenty seconds. Meredith is right. Everything is so pointless. Just like this game. Why should she hold her breath? Thirty seconds. Just breathe the water in. Do it! Do it! – her head breaks the water and she gasps for air.

“Chicken,” Meredith says.

“No!” Mel stands up and water courses off of her, running red with the leftover lip liner and maybe a little blood from her scrubbing. “No. No. No. No. No!” she screams and steps out of the tub and rushes to the mirror. Meredith is there; glaring as usual.

“No,” Mel says and picks up a tube of lipstick from the side of the sink. She draws a heart around Meredith’s face which begins to soften. “Not today” she intones as she writes it on the mirror.

Mel stares at herself through her drawing. She turns away from the mirror and sighs, whispering to herself again, “Not today.”

Posted October 27, 2015 by vitanienna in Short Story

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Kaleidoscope Bottle – 17 March 2012   Leave a comment

I have barely written anything recently. There has been too much to do. This is the first thing I’ve written since a piece on faith that may one day be up here. Kaleidoscope Bottle is a lot darker than the name might suggest. Anyone who has read my work knows that dark is kind of what I do, but I was sick of angst dark and fantasy dark and even film noire dark. I wanted to write something about the real demons in man’s soul. Regretted moments and poor choices. The things that we do even though we know in the moment that they are going to weigh us down for the rest of our lives. I ended up with this. It needs work, but it’s a start.

`  

I woke up with that pain in my joints that you only get from sleeping on the floor and that ache in my head that you only get from red wine. I stretched catlike and opened my eyes. A dark glass bottle was staring me in the face; it was empty, as was its brother lying a few feet away. A testament to my previous days’ activity. The darkness outside the window was more difficult to interpret. It could be the same night, it could be the next morning, or maybe an entire day had come and gone and it was night again. Honestly, I didn’t care.

That $40 bottle kept staring at me, wanting me to remember what I had been trying to forget. Not one day’s worth of memories, but a lifetime’s. There were pains and joys, men and women, sickness and celebration, and over it all a dark and stinking gloom. I don’t remember where that gloom came from, but it had invaded even my happiest memories. Even the memories where I knew that it could not have been, still the gloom covered and smothered them.

I considered getting up and getting on with the day or night or whatever it was outside, but I was paralyzed by that bottle. It was like looking down a rabbit hole, or a kaleidoscope designed by Tim Burton. The bottom of that wine bottle contained my fears, my memories, and the reminder that there was no escape. And as I lay there, I felt sucked into my past; forced to recall moments I had tried to drown in blood red wine the night before.

There was quay. I was standing on the edge and gazing down at where the water should be, but there was a thick mist that clung to the ground like a creeping moss. The quay, my feet, and the water had all been swallowed up by the cold, wet miasma crawling up from the river. Suddenly my legs were not the only ones sticking out from the fog. I looked up and found a familiar face; one that had been so joyous and comforting throughout my life. It was a face that I loved dearly, but it was changed in that dark night.

I saw in that face all my own pain reflected. Years of sorrow and burdens that had never been there before were etched in lines that stood out like india ink to me, and I wondered how I had never noticed before. She was probably just better at hiding it than I was. She was always the strong one, so maybe being strong had its own set of problems that I had never considered. I reached out to grasp that hand that went along with that face; it felt cold, like something that had never known warmth before. A trace of the smile I had relied on so often flickered across that face as the hand was pulled away, and then it was gone.

Someone was screaming out a name I had once known, and then I realized it was me. The floor was hard but free of mist and there was no face; just the bottle. I sobbed a little into the carpeting and stretched out my arm to swat that goddamned bottle away. All I managed to do was tap it slightly and swirl the kaleidoscope into a new pattern.

I was in a room full of faces that I knew and faces that I didn’t know. One of them that I had known since childhood was draped in white and saying some stock words that generations of faces had said before her. The face across from her repeated them, and I hated him. I hated her too for no reason other than the alternative was to hate myself. The faces around me seemed to press in on me, but they were really pressing towards the two faces in front. Mouths full of congratulations, hands full of blessings, and eyes full of love overtook them; swept that face I had always loved away into a life I could not be part of.

There was a champagne glass in my hand, and I wasn’t sure if it was being refilled for the first time or the fifth time. I glared at the tiny bubbles that were clearly too cheerful to properly drown my sorrows, but swallowed them anyway. Feet that apparently belonged to me were lurching and stumbling towards a raised table; a table that held two faces that I hated at the time. A mouth that I wished wasn’t mine said words that could never be taken back. Those words burned a bridge and a bride that I would always regret losing. I longed to reach out my arm and take those hands in mine once again.

I grasped something in my fist, but it was just the empty glass bottle. Tears ran down my face for so long that I eventually realized there just weren’t anymore tears to be cried. I was bone dry inside, and no amount of liquid, alcoholic or otherwise, was going to fix that feeling. I felt all my years of trouble become petrified like my bones had to be. I was a desert. With what I was sure was the last of my strength I lifted the bottle to smash it against the floor. But then I was sitting up with it cupped in both hands, staring once again.

There was a white room that was far too bright. Tubes, cords, and funny sounding machines seemed to be everywhere. There was a face there close to mine. It was begging, pleading even. It was the face of someone who had recently had some joy smashed to bits. I tried to remember why the face was so unhappy. It was in pain, and that made me sad, but I didn’t care. Why didn’t I care? I reached out a hand that had belonged to me and saw a tube sticking out of it. The voice that went along with the face was saying something about a new lease on life.

But I didn’t care about the face even though I loved it. A brush with death did not make me glad for life. Some doctor playing God had only stayed the inevitable. The face near mine was crying now; he didn’t understand. I couldn’t really say I understood either, and I knew that we would both go away and never understand one another. All that I wanted was to pull that tube out and hope that my life would go with it.

There was a dark room. An empty, kaleidoscope bottle and a body that had been mine. That body was dry, soulless. Unsavable. It cried tears of dust and pounded its hands of sand on the ground. It screamed, but only air came out. There was nothing left to give or to waste. Lying there on the floor with a bottle in my hands I felt for one last time. I dared myself to feel anything. Sorrow, joy, and guilt began to bubble up, but in the end anger was what won out. The madness of unchecked rage bubbled over and, with no other outlet in sight, it smashed that bottle against the wall and receded back into oblivion.

Splinters of glass and splinters of life were all that remained.

Posted March 17, 2012 by vitanienna in Short Story

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22 September 2011 – The Bell   Leave a comment

The bell tower was quiet. It rose silently above the desolate town, looking over the surrounding sea; its one window long boarded up. There had been neither cheery chimes nor mourning melodies in that tower for generations upon generations. A thick, choking dust covered the floor and stairs, and the only sign of recent disturbance could be read in the tiny rodent prints. As I threw open the trap door a cloud rose up; obscuring the room and erasing years of isolation.

When the cloud finally settled, I poked my head back through the opening and saw the magnificent bronze bell. Of course it was no longer rigged to ring. In fact, it was lying on its side like a giant, discarded Christmas ornament. That did not lessen the awe inspired by a bell large enough for me to sit in with room to spare.

I climbed up through the trap door. Above me bats took flight, disturbed by my unforgiveable presence upon this long untouched scene. My footsteps were muffled by dust, but they sent echoes through the forgotten times of that tower.

The metal of the bell was cold beneath my trailing fingers; it had been absorbing the chills and winds, high above the town for too long. I gently brushed aside the dust on the surface, and discerned that there was writing on the bell.

When bells do sound

And winds have ceased

The lady crowned

Will meet her beast

 

In times of trial

And times foregone

This troubled isle

Shall meet the dawn

            The words were seared in cold upon my heart. There was ice in my chest and my breath came in a cloud when I exhaled. I sank down next to the bell. Across from me was the window that had been boarded up for years, and as I stared at those splintering planks I felt the tower begin to sway.

A whistling sound rose from outside the tower, and I covered my ears for the pitch was so high. The planks which had remained strong through years of storms gave way. The gale blew through the room; upsetting dust, flinging debris, and forcing me to take shelter inside the bell. When the howling stopped I opened my eyes again.

The room was much the same as before, only the dust had been blown away. I stepped out onto the now spotless wooden floor, and a glittering caught my eye. The boarded window had become a mirror. It shone of its own accord for there was no other window or lamp within the room. And as I stared at that glinting glass, I was inexplicably drawn towards it.

My footsteps now echoed around the tower walls as I took slow steps toward the mirror. I kept my eyes downcast, fearing what might come next. At last I stood before the mirror. I set my hands upon the cold, stone sill and looked upon my reflection.

There I was, staring with frightened eyes, in the darkened tower room. There was a crown of bronze upon my head. Behind me, in that other world, the bell was righted once again. I could feel in my bones an anticipation; an expectation to at last be heard again. To at last ring again.

At first that was all I could discern, but I could not turn away nor remove my hands from that window sill. The ice in my chest spread through my veins, and I looked again into the gloom of that mirrored room. And in the shadows, ever so slight at first, there was a movement.

The beast rose up from its hidden corner, and took his place beside the bell. He raised his left hand and struck the ancient bell with his palm. The sound was tremendous and was accompanied by a blinding light, but I could not cover my ears or shield my eyes. I grasped the sill harder and squeezed my lids shut until tears rolled down my cheeks.

I opened my eyes as the bells last toll died away. The light had faded to a subtle red, and I heard other bells begin to answer the ancient’s call. The ice within my heart and veins melted away back into blood that matched the dawn. And there behind me was the beast. Waiting for his crown. Waiting for his due. Waiting for me.

Posted September 22, 2011 by vitanienna in Short Story

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18 September 2011 – Split   1 comment

The little mermaid dove off a cliff to save her true love, and turned into sea foam. But what did she become when the sea foam disappeared? Did she become water or did she become air? Out of all the characters of fairy tales, I believe, she is the one who knew true suffering; the one who was doomed to be split between two worlds no matter what she did.

People are not built for suffering. We break so easily. Half the people in America are on some drug that will stave off mental collapse for one more day. People all over the world are dying for lack of something. Food, water, shelter, love. So, how is a person supposed to survive the suffering of a split soul? Not just in half, but in many pieces.

I left my heart in England. Her foggy cities, dreary moors, and taste for Earl Gray with milk took hold of me and said they would never give me back. Yet, I do not live in England. An ocean lies between us.

I left my heart in Turkey. The history wrapped itself around me and whispered that it could teach me forever. It would never leave me with nothing to learn, nothing to do, or nothing to be awestruck by. I am not in Turkey.

I left my heart with a friend. I never meant for him to have it, but he snatched it up and said “I’ll keep this now; you can have it back one day.” He never told me when that day would be. Our paths do not run parallel. Where will my heart go?

I left my heart with the elves. Truly it was always theirs. They always said I was not part of this world. That I would have been happier with them. There was a mix up somewhere. Who knows what they have done with my heart?

I left my heart with God. I told him it was His to clean, to nurture, and to love. He has kept it since even when I forget He is there. He has kept it even when I have consciously ignored Him. My heart is with Him in heaven, but I am not there yet.

The little mermaid was torn between two worlds. Her doom was never to belong. What am I to do? Two worlds would be a blessing because my heart has been torn so many times it is becoming hard to find.  WANDER is buried in my soul. It took part of my heart too. And a person should always follow their heart.

Posted September 18, 2011 by vitanienna in Ranty Pensive Essay

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9 June 2011 – Every Good Story Needs a Bar Scene   1 comment

Bar scenes are one of my favorite ways to put a little action into an otherwise dull section of prose…they’re my kind of cliche. They’re also really good for getting a feel for the general population of an area. Drunkards are either too radical for everyone’s comfort or too talkative about the way a town really feels. So, enjoy these 508 words about the Sun Flower.

After tying his horse to the post in front of the inn, Dariel walked through the bright red door which was open to let in the summer breeze. It still smelled like the storm from the night before and the scent followed him through the short hallway. A different odor of meat and wood smoke met him as Dariel ducked through the low doorway that led into the main room of the inn. There were a few other patrons seated at tables scattered about the large room. A few nodded, but most of them kept their eyes on their food. A short, red-faced man waved at Dariel from behind the bar.

“Milord it has been far too long since you graced my humble establishment!” the inn keeper bellowed at Dariel. He walked out into the room and firmly grasped his countryman’s arm. “What brings you here after all the long months of summer?”

“I’ve been delivering messages for His Royal Highness for far too long and I am in need of some real food before I head back to Highrend,” Dariel replied with a smile for his friend. “But, it has been too long, Orenhal, I had meant to visit on my way out of the city if there had not been so many damned delays,” he cringed slightly at the memories. “I swear stable boys used to know a thing or two when I was a young lad.”

“You still are a young lad by my count,” Orenhal replied, laughing. “Now let me go see about a meal for you. Go on and have a seat.” The inn keeper walked back to the kitchen, and Dariel took a seat at the bar. A man came and sat a little ways down the counter from him.

“So you’re from the king, eh?” the man said with a grin, “why don’t you tell us what the tyrant be wanting from us lowly working men.” He had a look of a vagrant about him, and smelled vaguely of the sea. Dariel gave the man a look that clearly was meant to silence him, but he kept on talking anyway. “Come on, you can tell us,” he hiccupped, “we’ll be quiet as a mole rat.” The other men in the room were looking pointedly anywhere but at Dariel’s inebriated conversation partner.

“It would be in your best interest to both refrain from speaking and, apparently, from drinking. You are bound to say something that will undoubtedly make you much less alive,” Dariel dripped threat from every syllable he uttered, and hoped that it would be enough to deter the drunk man from doing anything regrettable. He was incorrect.

“Hey, you can’t talk to me like-” the man started to say as he got up, but he soon found Dariel’s dagger far too close to his throat. “Okay okay, take it easy,” the man backed away, tripped over a bar stool in the process. The other men in the room chuckled as the drunk troublemaker righted himself and left the inn blushing.

Posted June 9, 2011 by vitanienna in Excerpt, Gray Area

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8 June 2011 – The Prisoner   Leave a comment

A little tiny short story today. I thought of this last night while I was trying to sleep, though, I really have no idea where it came from. It’s creepy and macabre, as usual.

The soot-blackened cave walls were uncomfortably close as the guard walked his prisoner towards the iron door at the end of the tunnel. It was damp and their feet made a thwacking sound that echoed on the walls, making it sound like a legion was making its way to the door rather than a small girl and a single man.

The guard remembered how he had helped make those doors that now blocked the cavern prisons. The heat of the forge, the clang of metal on hot metal, the smell of fire in the room and on his clothes. There were five hundred doors, most of them to keep prisoners in cells, but the one at the end of this tunnel was different.

Years before the war the guard had been so sure of what they were doing. Keeping the rabble at bay with a prison to end all prisons was the best choice. He liked working as a smith, and he had enjoyed his job as a guard. The important prisoners were always transferred under his watch because the higher ups knew he could be trusted. Granted they knew that because they used to work with him, but he had denied promotion after promotion because he knew that this job was more important that strategizing and plotting. Now the job had lost some of its chivalry in his eyes.

Glancing between the girl in chains and the door at the end of the tunnel the guard could not help but feel that something had been lost in the progression. He listened to the girl muttering the same four words in her own language over and over, and thought that she had a voice that belonged on the radio. They told him that she was a spy. A spy for the enemy and a highly trained covert agent. He would never have believed them if the girl had just denied them. But she spoke nothing other than her four words.

There were only meters between the unusual pair and the iron door, and the guard wished that he could slow the girl’s stride. She was so confident; she could not know the horrors that took place in that room. The interrogation, the torture, the screams. They echoed through the miles of tunnels. The girl would be sliced and injected and prodded and drowned and scorched and starved in that room until she confessed to whatever they told her to. Yet, the guard had a feeling that this girl was going to be one of the many who exited that room as smoke through the long, blackened chimney.

They had reached the door and the guard had no choice but to unlock it. He did so and gently pushed the girl into the room. She could not be more than fifteen, and he could not stand to look at her as he knowingly led her to her death. The guard could not see her, but he heard again, louder, the same four words which he did not know the meaning off. And once more he heard them as the door was close from the inside by unseen hands. “God take me home.”

Posted June 8, 2011 by vitanienna in Short Story

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7 June 2011 – Losing Time   Leave a comment

Oh the days that go so fast

A drop in the river of time

Slipping through my fingers

Running down the street

Though we’re hand in hand

walking parallel

on the ever going road of Time

our journey will end

With you right in my hand

Yet always out of reach.

Posted June 7, 2011 by vitanienna in Poem

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