LJIdol: True North

I was ten.
I looked up to my parents. I believed them when they told me things. I mean, they were my family and knew what was best for me, right? Surely they were right when they would tell me I was dumb. When they said I was lazy and useless. They knew what they were talking about when they told me nobody would ever love me. Or when they said I was worthless and would never amount to much of anything in life.

They knew things about the world and about people I didn’t know so I guess they knew better than me.

I was fifteen.

My best friend was closer to me than a sister. We did everything together. Went everywhere, shared everything. Then she got a boyfriend and things started to change. I tried to hang on to that friendship. Tried to hang on to that bond of love we shared. Tried to hang on to her.

She told me I was clingy. Needy. She told me I wasn’t a good friend. She told me to stop calling or trying to see her again. She told me that I was a freak. She said that I was obsessed and selfish. She told me I would never have friends because I needed too much from them.

She knew me better than anybody ever had, so I guess like my parents, she knew better than me.

I was twenty.
He was my first real boyfriend. Oh, I’d had plenty of hook-ups and fumbling, awkward sexual escapades in my life, but he was the first boy I’d ever called my boyfriend. He was the first boy I’d ever given my heart and not just my body to. He was smart and kind. He treated me like a queen. For a time.

But then I guess I got too needy. Too clingy. I guess I was as bad at being a girlfriend as I was at being a friend. He said I was crazy and would never find somebody. I guess I just needed too much from him.

I had given him my heart and he had believed in me once, so I guess like my parents and my best friend, he knew better than me.

I was twenty-five.
He was my husband. We got married after dating for six months. I was in love. I had never been treated the way he treated me. He was everything I could have ever wanted in another person and more. I didn’t think I could ever feel this way about another person.

Then things changed. Issues I thought long dead rose up from the grave, coming back to haunt me once more. I was needy. I was clingy. I didn’t understand him. Did not give him those things he needed to be happy. He cheated on me because my depression led me to be emotionally unavailable. His unhappiness was all my fault. I did not know how to make him happy no matter how hard I worked or what I did for him. I was useless, had no value, and was going to spend my life miserable and alone.

He was my husband and knew me in ways nobody ever had before. So I guess like everybody else that had passed through my life, he knew better than me.

I am thirty.
I endured several years of misery and loneliness. It was the darkest period of my life and the most attractive way out of it was also the most permanent one. I heard the voices of the people who’d been a part of my life -- the people who knew better than me. Worthless. Useless. Clingy. I couldn’t make anybody happy. I would never be loved. I would amount to nothing. I was nothing. Nor would I ever be.

It would have been so easy. A handful of pills, something to wash them down with, and then lay down and go to sleep. All of the pain I felt, all of the loneliness I’d endured -- I had the power to make it all go away. Just let myself fall into a dreamless sleep and not wake up again. I was tempted. I was close.

I will never know what made me put that bottle of pills down. But something did. Something told me it was the wrong path to take. And I listened to that voice. I’ll never know why, but I did.

Several years of therapy have helped me emerge from that period of darkness. It’s been a slow, painful process filled with many tears and setbacks, but the progress being made is tangible. It’s real. But it has not come without some painful realizations and times I’ve had to accept responsibility for my own faults and shortcomings.

I’ve learned that I’ve been looking to other people to chart my course for me my entire life. Rather than asserting my own control, I’ve let them lay the path I have walked. I’ve looked to others for validation and let them define who I am. What I never understood when I was younger, what my parents never taught me to understand, was to not follow the trails laid by others.

They never taught me that my true north was inside of me all along.

They never showed me that I had the ability to chart my own course and walk my own path. I never knew that I had the ability to follow my own star and define myself, rather than accept the definitions others had of me.

I am still very much a work in progress. It is a day by day thing. But with every day that passes, I walk a little more confidently on my own path. The way I define myself grows a little more concrete. And with every day that passes, I put that dark place a little further behind me.

I keep that pill bottle -- empty of course -- to remind me of the path I walked away from and to always chart my own course and never let others define me. It reminds me that I am not worthless. That I am not useless. That I have value and I am worthy -- worthy of friendship and worthy of love. It reminds me that I can make what I want of my life -- not what others tell me I can make of it.

I keep that empty bottle so I always remember to find my true north inside of me, rather than in anybody else.

Holy Smokes

I always feel like I'm teetering on the edge here and getting my entry in at the very last minute. But at least I'm getting it in, right? I can't believe I'm still around, to be honest but I'm super glad I am. I'm having so much fun with this game and am enjoying reading so many talented people! 

LJIdol: Feckless

“You son of a bitch.”

“Calm down --”

“That was my story,” I spit. “You stole my story you feckless piece of shit.”

“I did not --”

“You know damn well that you did. Almost word for word --”

“You’re hysterical,” he says. “Is it your time of month or something?”

“I came to you with this article yesterday,” I seethe, ignoring his sexist jab. “And you told me you weren’t going to print it.”

“And I didn’t print it.”

“You made a few changes and printed it under your byline,” I spit.

He sighs and sits back in his chair, looking at me smugly. “Your work wasn’t good enough,” he tells me. “As usual. Honestly, sometimes I don’t know why Marcia keeps you on.”

“Gee Vic, if she fired me, who would you steal your work from?”

“Cute.”

“Marcia is going to hear about this.”

“Plagiarism is a very serious charge,” he says smugly. “I certainly hope you have evidence to back it up.”

“I have my original story.”

“Which as I said, wasn’t good enough. And as the lead editor, it is well within my discretion to make that call. But go ahead. Go to Marcia and accuse me of plagiarism,” he taunts me. “See what happens.”

We all have an arch-nemesis in life. We all have that one person who seems to delight in tormenting us, revels in our misery, and does everything within their power to prop themselves up while keeping us down.

Vic Sheldon is my arch-nemesis and has been since high school. And he’s every bit the piece of shit today that he was back then.

“Now, if there’s nothing else, you are dismissed,” he waves me off.

I stand my ground, glaring at him. If looks could actually kill, Vic would be dead a hundred times over. He just looks at me with that smug smirk on his face and I’m nearly overcome by the urge to murder him myself. Maybe even write the story on it.

“That means you may go,” he sneers.

“I’m going to talk to Marcia.”

“Good luck with that.”

I stay where I am for another minute. “You’re going to regret this, Vic.”

I leave his office, slamming the door behind me on the way out. I see all of the eyes in the news room on me as I huff my way back to my cubicle. I turn and glare at the people staring at me and they quickly turn away, suddenly finding something on their desk infinitely fascinating.

I’m the only reporter assigned to the town’s crime desk. The problem with a small town newspaper like this is that the vast majority of our column space is dedicated to bar fights and the occasional acts of vandalism. Once in a while, we get a particularly nasty domestic violence call. But very rarely, do we get a bona fide murder in town -- and when we do, it’s a big story. The kind of story that can help build a career.

I sit down in my cube and wake up my computer, calling up my email program with every intention of emailing Marcia with my complaint. But I stop before I even begin typing. As much as I hate to admit it, as the lead editor, Vic has the power to spike any story he sees fit. And I can’t make a plagiarism charge stick because all he has to do is what he said -- claim it didn’t meet standards.

The bastard changed just enough in the piece he published to make it adequately differ from mine that my claim of plagiarism won’t hold water.

“You okay?”

I look up and see David looking down at me from over the wall of my cube. He’s worked for the paper since before I was even born and knows how things work around here. He has a sympathetic smile on his face, having seen plenty of guys like Vic filter through over his tenure at the paper.

“Yeah. I’m good,” I tell him.

“Don’t let him get under your skin. He rides on the coattails of real journalists because he doesn’t have the chops,” he says. “He’s gonna wash outta this gig long before you do. You got it in your veins. He’s just a poser.”

“Thanks David.”

“Hang in there, kid” he says, giving me a nod before he walks away.

Journalism is a competitive field and you have to be on top of your game at all times. It’s even harder for a woman. Oh we like to pat ourselves on the back and pretend we’re making progress on sexual equality in the workplace. And sure, some progress has been made. But if you really believe there isn’t still a massive disparity in the opportunities for men and women, you’re either high or not paying attention.

That’s why as a woman, I have to seize every opportunity that comes my way. Like this murder. Doing good work on it could help not only raise my profile but add to my portfolio of clippings -- a necessity in this game.

My plan ever since I was a kid was that after getting my degree in Journalism from Virginia Tech -- go Hokies! -- I came back home to get some experience at the local paper. I know if I’m going to catch on at a reputable national paper, I need a solid base of clippings to show a potential editor.

And reporting on hard-hitting scandals like high school students filling the school pool with Jello, or a group of drunks spray painting penises on a church wall with slogans like, “Waiting for the Second Cumming,” isn’t going to get me noticed or taken seriously.

Sometimes, making a name for yourself in this game is a combination of hard work, dedication, and pure dumb luck. But sometimes even that’s not enough and you have to make your own luck.

Vic has his eyes on Marcia’s job when she eventually moves on -- or is forced out. But he’s trying to get ahead on the backs of other people. He wants to be the top of the totem pole so he takes credit that he doesn’t deserve.

And it’s going to bite him in the ass eventually. I’m going to see to it if it’s the last thing I do.

******

I stand behind the yellow caution tape, the blue and red lights strobing, cutting through the darkness. It looks like every cop in town is here tonight. The squawk of the police radios and the buzz of conversation from all the people standing behind the yellow tape is louder than the hum of the generators powering the lights.

The red Prius sits alone in the lot, the shadowed figure of the occupant visible in all the lights from the activity going on around it.

He was drunk and had problems at home. Lots of pressure on the job. Couldn’t take it anymore. Killed himself.

This is why I’m great at what I do -- I care enough about the story to not buy into the rumors and get actual details. The man behind the wheel of the car didn’t drink. He had no pressures at work. His marriage was picture perfect -- he and his wife were very much in love. And contrary to the rumors burning through the crowd like wildfire, the man was far too narcissistic to ever consider killing himself.

I watch the EMT’s pushing the gurney loading the body into a black body bag. The crowd fell silent, gawking at the grim spectacle. Billy Hamilton -- a pot smoking burnout back in high school turned town cop I dated long ago -- walks over to me. He looks down at the press badge hanging on the lanyard around my neck, the tape recorder in my hand, and gives me a smile.

“I guess you’ll be gettin’ a promotion at work,” he grins. “Looks like your boss put a gun in his mouth and pulled the trigger -- sorry, I guess I should say your old boss.”

“That’s horrible,” I say.

He shrugs. “Not for an upwardly mobile woman like yourself. Besides, it ain’t as if you liked the guy.”

I give him a rueful grin. “I guess sometimes we’re blessed with a stroke of luck then,” I say. “And sometimes, we make our own luck.”

Whew

I finally got through all the reading for LJIdol this week. I didn't get to comment as much as I wanted to but there are some really amazing pieces that I really enjoyed reading. I'm having so much fun doing this game and am so glad I decided to do it.

LJIdol: Solvitur Ambulando

“Two seconds,” he says. “That’s all. Just two seconds. We’ll start small.”

I shake my head. “No. How many times do I have to tell you no?”

We’re sitting on the edge of my bed and he takes my hand, giving me an encouraging smile as he squeezes it. I know Aaron is trying to help me but forcing me to do something I don’t want to do isn’t the way to do it.

Aaron stands and walks to the lamp sitting on the bedside table. It makes the adrenaline flow and my heart race like mad. His smile is gentle as he reaches for the switch, confident he’s doing the right thing for me.

“No. Stop,” I tell him.

Click.

Shadows rise like malevolent specters, making my heart jump straight into my throat. I feel them reaching for me. I feel their hunger. I feel her. She’s cloaked in the shadows, but she’s there. She’s always there. Watching. Waiting.

Solvitur Ambulando. I remember it from one of my old philosophy classes,” he says. “It’s a problem that can be solved with a simple experiment. In this case, the problem is your fear of the dark. And I’m going to show you there really is nothing to fear.”

“Aaron, stop. Please.”

I hate the pleading whine in my voice but I can’t seem to stop it anymore than I can make him stop what he’s doing. Aaron’s knee brushes mine as he passes me, heading for the lamp on the other nightstand. I reach out and grab his hand, pull it tight and refuse to let him go.

“Stop Aaron. I’m begging you. Do not touch that lamp.”

He pulls his hand free and I feel the tears spill down my face as he reaches out for the second lamp.

Click.

The room is markedly dimmer, the shadows grow thicker and I tremble. I see her face in the darkness and see that wicked smile. It’s ghastly. Terrifying. And it pulls me straight back to when I was seventeen years old.

My friends and I had been out at a house party after one of the school’s football games. Because that’s what you do in Smalltown USA -- watch high school football and drink a lot if you win or drink even more if you lose.

None of us should have been driving. I close my eyes and I can still hear the shattering of glass and the screech of twisted, tortured metal. But worst of all was the screaming. It pierces my brain and my heart as deeply today as it did back then.

“Ivy, you’re thirty-years old,” he argues. “Don’t you think it’s time to stop being afraid of the dark?”

I glare at him, my vision blurring with tears. “You don’t know what I know. You haven’t seen what I’ve seen.”

Somehow my friends and I survived the accident with barely a scratch. But the man behind the wheel of the other car -- he didn’t make it. I remember the blood. There was so much blood. I can still see it. I can still smell it.

It was his wife, an unassuming grandmotherly type, who was screaming. She was screaming so loud and I didn’t think she’d ever stop. But eventually she did. The old man was ruled to have fallen asleep at the wheel. My friends and I escaped justice but not the old woman’s wrath.

After we were cleared, she found us. I can still hear her voice as clearly right now as I did the night she cornered us at the ice cream shop. The night she cursed us. I don’t mean she said some bad words to us. I mean an actual eye of newt, wing of bat, Eastern European witch curse.

“Honey, I don’t think you’ve actually seen what you think you’ve seen,” he sighs. “I mean, do you even know how --”

“If you say crazy, I swear to God I’m going to slap you senseless.”

He quickly closes his mouth and looks away. I see the frustration and concern on his face and I can’t really fault him for feeling either way. I know how this must look to somebody who hasn’t experienced what I have. And I can’t really make somebody who hasn’t gone through what I have understand. But there are reasons I refuse to turn the lights off at night.

“You don’t understand, Aaron.”

“I do though,” he replies. “I understand there was some childhood trauma that left has left a scar on your psyche and --”

“Shut up, Aaron,” I hiss. “Shut up. You don’t get it. You’ll never get it.”

“Then explain it to me.”

I sigh, knowing there is no explanation I can give that he'll accept or understand. It started when I was twenty. The whispers. Voices in the dark, that whispered the most vile, hateful things. Even worse, I felt something in the darkness and I knew it was coming to devour me. It was like a physical weight pressing down on me. I felt it creeping closer and closer, ready to consume me.

And when I felt it spring, when I felt it rushing for me, I managed to turn on the lights just in time. Bathed in the light, I was safe. But that night, my cat went missing. She was lounging in the shadows at the end of my bed. I know it wasn’t a coincidence.

That was the last time I ever slept without the lights on.

“Ivy, look at this from a practical perspective,” he goes on. “If we’re going to move in together, I can’t sleep in a room that has a hundred lights on.”

“Then maybe we shouldn’t live together,” I snap.

“Ivy,” he gasps. “You can’t mean that.”

I don’t want to mean it. But maybe I shouldn’t have agreed to move in with him to begin with. Not with this curse hanging over my head. Not after -- what happened.

I was twenty-six and in love. His name was Donovan and I thought we were going to spend the rest of our lives together. But one night he stayed over and I fell asleep first. Donovan, apparently without thinking about it, turned off the lights.

I woke in total darkness. I heard the whispers and felt the presence looming over me. It was inches from my face but before I could reach the light, it struck and when I finally got the light turned on, the bed was empty. Donovan, like my cat, went missing. Never to be heard from again.

“I won’t have it happen again,” I tell him. “Not to you.”

“What are you even talking about?” Aaron shouts at me, his frustration boiling over. “You know what? I’m done indulging you in this. It’s time to show you there’s nothing to fear in the dark.”

“Aaron no!” I scream.

He heads toward the switch for the overhead light, flipping off the other lamps on his way.

Click. Click. Click.

A strangled cry bursts from my throat as I jump to my feet and chase him. I crash into him and we wrestle for control of the light switch -- the last remaining source of light in the room. The only thing keeping the darkness at bay.

Aaron roars as he pushes me aside and cries out in triumph as his hand falls on the light switch. He looks at me like he’s about to show me the greatest thing ever.

“I’m going to prove it to you now Ivy,” he says.

Fears and phobias are often irrational. I get that and know I have a lot of irrational phobias -- giant spiders, dying in a fire, flesh eating cannibal clowns. Like most people, I have a million fears that don’t make sense to anybody but me.

But I have other fears. Fears that are grounded in something that’s all too real. I’ve seen what lurks in the shadows. I’ve seen what prowls in the darkness. And if those people who tell me I’m crazy had seen what I have, they’d sleep with the lights on too.

I get to my knees, pleading. “Aaron, stop. Don’t. Please.”

“Two seconds. Just two seconds.”

And then he flips the switch…

Click.

…plunging us into darkness.

Whew

I don't know how some people do it. I barely got my LJIdol entry in this week after completely missing it last week. I'm so impressed by the people who are crazy busy but still write amazing work week after week. I have not mastered the art yet! But I'm trying!

LJ Idol: My Enemies Used to Be My Friends

To Whom It May Concern,

I don’t know what happens next or what is to become of me and so I write this letter to you. I write it not to justify my actions. I’m sure most would say there is no justification for what I did. I guess I write it so that you might understand. Or maybe I’m just trying to understand it myself. Either way, I’m writing my story and will as they say, let the chips fall where they may…

See, I loved a boy once. He was beautiful. Funny. Kind. Compassionate. We loved the same books and the same movies. We even loved the same food. He checked every box and we clicked on so many levels, it seemed like we were tailor made for each other.

And this is how I learned one of life’s hardest lessons – if it seems too good to be true, it probably is.

It was the tail end of the summer before my junior year and his name was Elijah. He’d just moved to our tiny little town from an even tinier town. He had brown hair and deep, soulful brown eyes. He was strong and well built with old school Hollywood good looks. Think Marlon Brando or Gregory Peck back in the day.

I remember seeing him for the first time at Carsten’s, a diner that’s been in town since the dawn of time. My friends and I were busy stuffing our faces with banana splits covered in chocolate ice cream and hot fudge. It was something of an end of summer ritual for us.

I don’t remember what we were talking about but I do remember hearing the bells over the door chime and seeing him walk through the door. It’s silly as hell to say but it was like something out of a Hollywood movie.

Time seemed to slow down, my heart practically stopped beating in my chest, and I swear to God a spotlight came on over him as violin music filled the air. The whole world seemed to fall away and there was nothing but him.

“Go talk to him,” Amy said and gave me a firm nudge.

Yeah as if it was that easy. She should have known better. No, I should have known better. That’s not the way it worked. Not where we lived. I’d known all the popular kids, the jocks and the cheerleaders, and everybody else in their circles since I was a kid. Growing up and going to school with all the same people, year after year, is one of the curses of small-town life. Once you’re seen as one thing, getting people to change their opinion about you and see you as something else is about as easy to do as forcing the sun to rise in the west.

But Elijah was different. At least, I thought he was.

He approached me as we were leaving Carsten’s and I’ll never forget the way I felt when he spoke to me. To this day, my heart hasn’t beat as hard as it did when he smiled at me for the first time. Thinking they were doing me a favor, my friends left me with him and I have never been as terrified or excited in all my life as I was in that moment.

Elijah and I spent hours together that night. We spent it talking and laughing. Learning about each other. Everything felt so smooth and easy that first night. It was like something out of a dream and I found myself waiting for the other shoe to drop. Because I knew it would.

See, I’m not the kind of girl who draws the attention of the popular boys. Or the beautiful boys. I don’t have a lingerie model figure or big breasts. I’m not one of the pretty people and there is nothing special about me. I’m plain. I wear thick glasses. I don’t have good hair, good skin, or a good body. I think ordinary would be a generous description of me.

But even knowing all of that, I let myself believe that things with Elijah were different. That he was different. That he saw me for who I really was and accepted me for it.

We spent the next few weeks together and he made me believe he saw me for me. That he cared for me in spite of how the social politics of our small town and smaller high school worked. It was only three weeks together but he made me feel special in ways nobody ever had before. In ways nobody has since.
He even got the popular kids to accept me. I spent time with the same jocks and cheerleaders who’d tormented me for so many years and they treated me as an equal. They treated me like a friend. I never felt happier in all my life.

It was my naivete that made me open myself up to Elijah. It made me cast off all the suspicions and caution that had kept me safe from heartache for so long. Years of bullying at the hands of the popular kids in school taught me to protect myself. It taught me to build walls that were high, thick, and impenetrable around myself. Around my heart.

But Elijah managed to tear them all down with ease. He demolished those walls little more than a smoldering look, a few sweet words whispered in my ear, and a brush of his lips upon mine.

The night before school started, I slept with him. It was my first time and he was gentle. Kind. He made me feel things I never thought I could feel. It was everything I imagined my first time to be and more. And it only deepened the love I already felt for him.

And that’s when the other shoe dropped.

I remember walking through the halls at school and feeling everybody staring at me. Everybody seemed to be switching from watching their phones to looking at me like I was some circus sideshow freak. And then the laughter started. The thing I remember the most is how loud it was. It was deafening. Louder than anything I’ve ever heard before. It made the cheering at a football game sound like whispers.

Their laughter and accusatory looks chased me to the bathroom where I hid in a stall until my friend Amy showed me what they were laughing at. Elijah, as some part of sick hazing ritual for the baseball team, had videotaped us having sex. It was all a joke. A dare. He played me to get into my pants, betraying my trust and breaking my heart into a billion tiny pieces, all to gain acceptance from his new friends and teammates.

I suffered through the first few weeks of school endlessly tormented by anybody and everybody who’d seen the video, which was pretty much the entire school. I have never been so humiliated or felt so cheap. The first few weeks of school were an endless cycle of tears, shame, and guilt. I’ve never been lower in all my life. But eventually, they moved on to tormenting somebody else and I was allowed to fade into the background.

It was over the Thanksgiving break I finally decided to do something about it and take back some of my dignity. See, there was an old cabin in the woods by the lake where people liked to party. I found out that Elijah and all his friends – people I’d stupidly believed were my friends too – would be having a party the night before Thanksgiving. And so I made a few preparations to give them a night that would never be forgotten.

It was about midnight when I arrived at the party. I felt the eyes on me the second I stepped through the door. Nobody even bothered trying to hide their smirks or laughter as I walked through the room and found Elijah. He was sitting on a bar stool with Annette Griffith hanging all over him. Gathering every ounce of courage I could muster, I walked straight over to him and kissed him.

Elijah pushed me away and Annette got angry. He held her back from slapping me and had the good grace to at least look somewhat ashamed and was unable to meet my eyes. That’s when the laughter started again and everybody started playing our impromptu sex tape on their phones again. Elijah just sat there, neither admonishing them or apologizing to me. He just looked uncomfortable and like he simply wanted me to go away.

And so I did. I turned and walked out, past the lurid glances, slut-shaming jokes, the whispers, snickers, and open laughter. I slammed the cabin door behind me. The music inside was cranked up again and I could still hear the laughter through the door – the only door in the place – as I ran the chain through the handle and padlocked it, trapping them all inside.

After that, I walked around the cabin and cranked open the valves on the propane tanks I’d hidden around the place, filling the inside with the stuff. That done, I walked out into the woods, sheltered behind a tree and waited. With the amount of propane being pumped in combined with the candles lighting the interior and all the people smoking out inside, it was only a matter of time.

Twenty-seven minutes to be precise.

The explosion shook the ground and nearly knocked me on my butt even as far away as I was. The next day, people on the far side of town said they saw the fireball that floated up into the night.

As I walked back to my car with a smile on my face, I could hear the screaming and the crackling of fire and debris crashing to the ground in the forest behind me.

Make of this what you will. Call me a monster. Hell, maybe I am. But see, I loved a boy once. He was beautiful but unkind. He lacked compassion and as it turned out, we were wrong for each other in every way possible. And he broke my heart.



*** Just in case it wasn't obvious, this is entirely fictional! :-)

LJ Idol Week 3: "Everything Looks Like A Nail"

Leading a revolution isn’t the easiest thing in the world to do. But if you ever want things to change, somebody needs to step up and lead the charge. That’s a lesson I learned in eighth grade and it all started with five fateful words that changed the trajectory of my young life.

“Somebody needs to take him down.”

I never meant for that person to be me. I never aspired to any sort of leadership role since that’s never been a part of my genetic makeup. If you knew my family, you’d know just how true that statement is. Coming from a gene pool that includes drunks, drug abusers, drug dealers, thieves, and even murderers doesn’t exactly set you up for success.

And yet, despite my genetic deficiencies, when the call for revolt swept through my eighth-grade class, I was the one who answered the call. Yeah I know, it surprised the hell out of me too.

See, if you looked up the definition of asshole in the dictionary, you’d see an 8x10 glossy color photo of Todd Lynch. Incidentally, you’d see the same picture if you looked up the word, “ugly.” And maybe most importantly to this tale, the same picture would be listed under the word, “bully.”

I grew up in a small town. And it seems like in small towns, schoolyard bullies are as common and as much a part of the community’s fabric as county fairs and mom-and-pop shops. In a small town, bullies are just a given. 

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LJ Idol

So, after everything imploding over the last few weeks, things have settled down enough that i got my first entry in for the writing game called LJ Idol that I'm participating in. I've never put my writing out there for public consumption like this — and to be voted on no less!

It's actually kinda nerve wracking watching the polls. I'm okay right now but who knows how it all ends up. Things could change by the time the poll closes tomorrow and I could be out!

I don't wanna be out this early though. This is kinda fun and exciting to me and I hope I can make it through this poll and keep on going.

But, I'll have to wait until tomorrow night to see what happens. It's scary and yet fun!

Living Rent Free In Your Head

Forrest Gump’s mother was an idiot. Love it not like a box of chocolates. It’s more like a carton of milk left on the kitchen counter – eventually, it’ll curdle, spoil, and make you sick to your fucking stomach.


That’s not the quote. She said life, not love is like a box of – 


“Shut up,” I scream, clapping my hands to my ears. “Just shut the fuck up.”


I pace back and forth in front of the window, his voice ringing in my ears. For three years, all he did was tell me I was wrong. Wrong about this. Wrong about that. Just plain fucking wrong. Nothing I did was ever good enough. I was never good enough for him.


Poor you. Oh poor, poor you. So mistreated. So abused. Cry me a fuckin’ river. 


I stop pacing and stare through the window. Lightning flares overhead, the world beyond the window captured in a staccato flash of silvery light. I let out a breath, doing my best to calm my racing heart and listen to the drumbeat of rain on the roof over my head. Ordinarily, the sound of the rain soothes me. It calms me. It fills my heart with joy


But tonight, it ain’t doing a damn thing for me. 


Maybe you should listen to some music. I have the world’s tiniest violin and – 


“I said shut up. Just shut up.”


Grumbling to myself, I angrily wipe away the tears that are sliding down my cheeks as I walk into the kitchen and grab the teakettle. I fill it with water and put it on the stove to boil. Tea helps. When all else fails, tea helps settle my nerves. 


Don’t think that’s gonna work tonight, sweetheart.


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