Scampy Mouse

Scampy mouse looked ’round his house,

But all that he could see

Were must and rust and cheese crumb dust,

And a cobweb; maybe three.

 

“I must have flask or wig or mask;

Or robes, or vampire teeth.”

Yet, high and low and to and fro —

“No costume,” Scampy squeaked.

 

Then, start’ling him, a *quack* *ring* *knock*;

He jumped. “Who could that be?”

He opened up to Tammy Duck,

Who asked him, “Trick or treat?”

 

She held a wand, a potion, bag;

Plus extra, long, white sheet.

“You wanna be a scary ghost,

For this year’s Halloween?”

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Photo Credit: Image by Free-Photos from Pixabay

 

Created for Susanna Leonard Hill’s Halloweensie Contest.

©2019 Chelsea Owens

Throwback Thursday: Midnight

Every year, I participate in Susanna Leonard Hill’s holiday writing contests. This is the first I ever submitted, inspired by some tiny candy corn men my son made -and inspired by his twisted sense of humor.

Chelsea Ann Owens

Candy Corn Men.jpgTick, tock, said Grandma’s mantel clock, pointing to ten.

Sadie watched it, frowning. It would never be Halloween at this rate!

She sleepily scrambled to the sofa arm. Perching unsteadily, she stretched shadowed arms to retrieve the clock. A bowl of candies knocked loose and spilled to the floor.

She stopped, listening. Only the clock said, Tick.

Prising open the monstrous, creaking casing; she nudged both hands to point up: midnight.

Ching, it said, then, tock.

“Hello!” a cheerful voice greeted. She looked down. The spilled candy corns were moving. A tiny hand waved.

“Hello!” It repeated, “May we eat you?”

Crafted for The 7th Annual Halloweensie Contest.

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Depression and Donuts (and an Elephant)

This morning, I sat in my car and ate a donut. I named it my 59 cent therapy. I forgave the tax.

I’d successfully taken the children to school -half an hour after the bell, and not counting The Child Who is Sick Every Day Ending in “Y.”

They were late because I was late. I was late because I woke up at my usual 5:30 too-early-to-do-stuff-and-too-late-to-sleep, but mostly exactly-when-the-baby-is-putting-too-much-pressure-on-my-bladder. After which, of course, I saw no point or purpose to life.

Some have expressed surprise that I am so candid about Depression. Why not be candid? You talk about your job, your kids, your hobbies -basically, your life. Depression is my life. It’s the cubicle I sit at, getting very little done because the computer rarely functions and the overhead lights have needed replacing for years.

Every day I either numb from it or succumb from it.

And I talk about it. Though not in person.

“How are you today, Chelsea?”

“Fine.”

I don’t earn an income, keep up on housework, raise the children without sarcasm, return library books before they’re due, or stay on top of budgeting or meal-planning. I’m fine, while some part that cares is yelling, “Everything is wrong, wrong, wrong.”

And that is why I’m honest about Depression: because the elephant’s in the room and I still haven’t figured out why I put it there or how I can get it out.

At least not for less than 59 cents.

Maybe you can relate. Maybe not. I’m told not everyone raises elephants. In that case, what animal won’t leave you alone?

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—————-

I wrote other stuff. Here it is:
Wednesday, October 23: Wrote “Parenting: The Fine Line.”

Thursday, October 24: Did a throwback to a post I wrote on JES’ site, “The Pit of My Mind.”

Friday, October 25: Winner of the Weekly Terribly Poetry Contest. Congratulations to Gary!

Saturday, October 26: Announced the 49th Weekly Terrible Poetry Contest. The theme is something SCARY. PLEASE ENTER!

Sunday, October 27: Shared “To My Guilty Pleasure,” a love letter to my charbroiled combo meal.

Monday, October 28: An inspirational quote by Someone.

Tuesday, October 29: “Since the Bombs Fell: Two,” the second in my dystopian, post-nuclear series.

Wednesday, October 30: Today.

 

Photo Credit: Unsplash

©2019 Chelsea Owens

Since the Bombs Fell: Two

Continued from One.

“You are a paranoid skinny,” Finn said aloud. His voice sounded both muffled and loud. He felt like a stiff fish, swimming through the driest ocean of death ever conceived. Stepping over the crumbling wall before him, he skirted a pile of charred remains.

The remains stayed inert.

“But then,” Patrick’s voice came to Finn’s memory, “An arm moved.” Finn felt his heart rate rise; heard his recirculated air pass more rapidly through his mouthpiece. He forced himself forward while his eyes roved over every broken beam, body, and nuclear shadow. The emergency room entrance loomed closer, its automatic door frame hanging at a skewed and jagged angle. Its filthy and cluttered foyer stood in full sunlight, thanks to the shattered glass roof and upper floors.

“I ran over t’side,” Finn remembered his brother describing. “That was the wrong way, but I didn’t know. There were …swarms. Swarms of them everywhere, pouring out the door…”

Finn stood, hesitating. He knew they’d decided the front would be best. He knew his goal ought to be just beyond the foyer. Yet, he also knew how he’d found Patrick, gasping at the last of his air, struggling against a crippled limb, fighting them from within a fallen shack a few meters away.

Mary had saved him. When Patrick didn’t show, she’d looked round the shelter and commented, “Where be Patrick? Shouldn’t he be back now?”

A movement caught Finn’s eye from the hallway past the bright, open entry. He squinted and walked closer. His hand reached back and pulled down the Laserlock. The gun felt solid and reassuring in his arms as he walked. He ducked beneath a bent piece of sliding door. Paused. Did a full sweep. Now fully inside what remained of the hospital, he couldn’t help but feel trapped. He swallowed and forced himself on, toward the movement he may or may not have seen.

There, in the dim light and falling dust, a bent wheel spun atop a smashed, half-buried wheelchair. Finn found himself mesmerized by the spin. How could it do that in this silent, still world?

And that was when he noticed them.

 

©2019 Chelsea Owens

 

To My Guilty Pleasure

Dearest Combo Meal,

How long has it been since I last saw you? How long has it been since I last smelled you? How long has it been since my lips touched your face? If only you possessed the anatomy to speak, I know the answer would be, “Too long.”

I remember, Dear, the first time I held you. My fingers caressed your top bun; my thumbs, your bottom. Your succulent, savory middle oozed; temptingly tantalizing. “Sense me,” your sesame seeds whispered. “Breathe me,” called your charbroiled meat. “Crush me,” cooed your shredded lettuce. “You’ll never need another,” the tomato slice promised. What your special sauce said, however, will stay between us forever.

“But don’t forget,” they all reprimanded, “Our friends sitting there, nearby.”

“I wouldn’t!” I promised. “I couldn’t!” I swore. To prove my word, I retrieved a golden spear. Tenderly, lovingly, I dipped it in light orange heaven. I ate. I savored the sauce, the salt, the crunch, and the piping-hot innards beneath.

Of course, my darling, we both know that was not all. Subtly, smugly, silently making table rings beneath its cup sat your final piece: a shake. If perfection was not achieved before that point, your frosted cylindrical container’s contents were there to oblige. What wondrous elements lay within? Ice cream? Fruit? Whipped cream? Yes! All those elements embraced each other in a swirl of frozen flavor, igniting passion as they froze my eager taste buds.

Surely, Dear, you recall that first time? Surely you felt the same as I.

Those thoughts crossed my mind, my mouth, my gastrointestinal system just this evening. For, unbeknownst to my resistant will, my errands took me past your residence. I smelled you before I saw the familiar neon sign: a mixture of flame, meat, oil, and Greek wallpaper. Your beefy goodness wafted through my air conditioning, beckoning to me like a cartoon smoke-finger.

“Remember…” whispered the scented smoke, as my mind fought a losing battle with my appetite.

“I do,” I replied. My children stared.

What could I do? Who could resist? Even my offspring knew the irresistible draw of your charms. They knew the indefinable pleasure of unwrapping your crinkling papers, retrieving your deep-fried goodness, and drinking your creamy richness.

I found myself turning the wheel, entering the parking lot. There, my jealous heart nearly failed. How many poor fools had you drawn in besides me? The line of cars stretched around the building; engines idling as stomachs rumbled. Nothing, save a fry sauce memory and the tick-ticking of the dinner clock, could have induced me to face you with such a voyeuristic crowd.

“Three junior burgers, three fries, three shakes,” I ordered, once we finally had our turn. How; when did I need a speaker-toned man to bring us together? When did we drift apart and become so formal?

My fingers drummed the dashboard as I waited. My anxious appetite watched eager hands take bags into vehicles before me. They stole you, my love, for under $10 apiece. My heart ached as my mouth salivated. Would you leave any there, for me?

Not soon enough, we arrived at the window. “$28.80,” droned our go-between. I paid. I reached through and accepted the proffered paper bags. I peeked inside. Your heavenly goodness clouded our car, enticing and embracing in one.

I looked at your minimum-wage deliverer, now sainted in my eyes. He met my gaze. As if to confirm his deific status, he added six golden words, “I put extra fry sauce in.”

I drive home, impatient. With literal bated breath, my love, we await our communion. If only there were not so many traffic lights ‘twixt your home and mine. Once there, as you know, we will finally be together again.

 

Until then, affectionately,
Chelsea

 

(Written for an assignment to address a love letter to an unusual love of ours, for my Pathways class.)

 

©2019 Chelsea Owens

Carrot Ranch Rodeo #4: TUFF Beans

Charli’s presented her most challenging contest yet, one utilizing a writing process called TUFF.

TUFF is The Ultimate Flash Fiction; wherein you, the writer, submit a 99-word flash, then parse it down to 59, then parse it down to 9, then rewrite a 99-word iteration showing how the story improved in this process.

Here’s what she says about it:

Now things are going to get TUFF. Our final contest of the 2019 Flash Fiction Rodeo is all about having the guts to revise. As if writing weren’t challenging enough, we also have to know what to cut, what to add, and how to improve our stories. Revision is where the work happens. TUFF is an exercise in getting to the heart of a story and rebuilding it with that understanding. TUFF stands for The Ultimate Flash Fiction. In this contest, you will be asked to write one story with several reductions and a final revision. Your revision should be different from your initial draft. That’s where a writer has to gain courage and insight. TUFF will help guide you if you practice it.

Keep in mind that the TUFF contest is all about process. So far in this Rodeo, writes have tested skills of storytelling, craft, and creativity. Now it’s time to show how you approach revising an initial story idea. Your first 99-words should be a first draft and your final 99-words should be polished and improved. The word reductions in between help you find the heart of your story (59-words) and a punchy line (9-words). Judges want to see how you manage the entire process of TUFF.

And yes, beans are involved.

CRITERIA:

  1. Your story must include beans (go where the prompt leads).
  2. You will submit one story, retold through varying word counts: 99 words, 59 words, 9 words, and 99 words.
  3. Your second 99-word story should show the evolution or transformation of revision. How is it different? How is it improved? Did the TUFF process lead to new insights that changed the final version?
  4. The story can be fiction or BOTS (based on a true story).
  5. It can include any tone or mood, and be in any genre, and don’t forget the beans.
  6. Make the judges remember your story long after reading it.

CONTEST RULES:

  1. Every entry must meet the word count requirements exactly. You can have a title outside that limit. Check your word count using the wordcounter.net. Entries that aren’t 99-59-9-99 words will be disqualified.
  2. Enter this contest only once. If you enter more than once, only your first entry will count.
  3. Do your best to submit an error-free entry. Apply English grammar and spelling according to your country of origin style. As long as the judges can understand the language, it is the originality of the story that matters most.
  4. If you do not receive an acknowledgment by email WITHIN 3 DAYS, contact Charli at wordsforpeople@gmail.com.
  5. Entries must be received by 11:59 p.m. EST on October 30, 2019.
  6. You may submit a “challenge” if you don’t want to enter the contest or if you wrote more than one entry.
  7. Refrain from posting your contest entry until after November 28.
  8. Use the form [on Carrot Ranch‘s site] to enter.

2019 JUDGING

Charli Mills, Lead Buckaroo at Carrot Ranch, will collect stories, omitting names to select the top ten blind. Please refrain from posting your contest entry on your blog. A live panel of judges from the Keweenaw will select three winners from the top ten stories. The blind judging will be a literary event held at the Roberts Street Writery at Carrot Ranch World Headquarters in Hancock, Michigan. After selections are made, a single Winners Announcement with the top ten in each category will be posted on November 28. All ten stories in each contest will receive a full literary critique, and the top winner in each contest will receive $25 (PayPal, check, Amazon gift card, or donation).

The Weekly Terrible Poetry Contest

Come here, my poet, and prepare to enter the Weekly Terrible Poetry Contest #49! You’ll find a basic outline on terrible poeting here. Ready?

Here are the specifics for this week:

  1. Our Topic is Halloween. Write something SCARY!
  2. As is usual, the Length is up to you.
  3. Rhyming is also up to you. Frighten us with what you do.
  4. Just Make it terrible! Make the very souls of the Wal-mart imps moan in agony and terror at the thought of your verses.
  5. The Rating’s fine at PG-13 or cleaner.

You have till midnight of All Hallow’s Eve, 12:00 a.m. MST next Friday morning (November 1) to submit a poem.

Use the form below to be anonymous for a week.

For a more social experience and immediate fame, include your poem or a link to it in the comments. If you do not see a pingback within a day, drop a comment as well.

Roll up your casting sleeves, and have fun!

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Photo credit: NeONBRAND

WINNER of the Weekly Terrible Poetry Contest

Well, partners, it’s been another rough ride on the prairie. I weren’t so sure we’d be able to rustle up a winner this week, what with how many terrible entries came ‘cross the line.

But a winner there needs to be, and that is:

Untitled piece

by Gary

Out in the dust field prairies of Dewsbury and Pontefract
The Yorkie badlands with rhubarb laden scrub tracks
Where scary predators stalk lonely unsuspecting riders
Those ferrets are deadly once in your trouser insiders
Old Cowboys on the trail for one last ride
Trying to avoid those wannabe Bonnie and Clyde’s
Clinging to a dying way of life like a stubborn Rooster Cogburn
Taking those pills for the constant bake bean farts and heartburn
Singing stories of the wonders of this cowboy lifestyles
While fighting the urge to scratch those lingering piles
Carrying the sweetheart photo of the long lost cowgirl
Forgetting she left you for an Accountant who could afford a pearl
All the ranches and rodeos have long since closed
Now 24 hour Big Macs are juxtaposed
Getting back in the saddle you do it for glory and the life which is true
But really the only excitement left is a solitary campfire game of Buckaroo

—–

Congratulations, Gary! Yer the most terrible poet of the week!

As is the case most times, I had a nail-bitin’ time namin’ just one poet as best. Mostly, I thunk, this was owin’ to how very diff’rent y’all took the prompt. I saw right smart ‘pproaches, dern awful ones, and many ref’rences to beans an’ how rough that old saddle is on a cowboy’s backside.

Gary’s poem won, overall, fer ramblin’ meter, ramblin’ subject, and fer those darned trouser ferrets. Trust an old cowpoke: you never wanna mess wit’ ferrets.

A’ course, this old judge really wanted to shake the hand of all the rest of these here poets. Go ahead; you’ll see what I mean:

Me & Fred

by Abject Muse

I’m ridin’ the range

that ain’t never gonna change

with my horse named Fred

Fred is red: Red Fred.

He’s my best friend

til the very end.

We set up camp

when nighttime comes

Fred can’t help

for lack of thumbs —

but I don’t mind,

that’s common in his kind.

I cook some beans

an’ throw in some greens

while Fred eats oats

that cause him to bloat.

And later on when coyotes howl

our camp is smellin’ foul

cuz beans an’ oats make us fart

it’s methane  art

an aromatic symphony.

I’m a cowboy, see?

Red Fred an’ Me.

What people think, I don’t care

Long as I got clean underwear.

Fruit of the Loom is what I like

Cuz Jockey briefs are too dang tight

for ridin’ the range —

Just outside LaGrange.

—–

Wild West

by Pensitivity

The theme this week is Wild West,
OK then, I’ll try my best,
Saddle up and trot my horse
Heading West is best, of course!
Bump along in landscape sparse,
Get blisters on my sorry arse,
Campin’ rough in a makeshift tent
Moaning cuz all my money’s spent.
Coffee brewing on the fire
Tastes like mud, so really dire
Watch for rattlers, injuns too
Tether my steed, his name is Boo,
Scared of shadows but loyal to me
Dang it, I need to have a wee……
Ain’t got far, but I had a go
We’re not used to the life you know,
Central heating, warm beds and such,
Don’t really care for this very much,
Yet starry skies and open air
Are pretty and cool when you’re out there.

—–

Gold Digger

by Matt Snyder

gold digger jigger fa shizle yo

“This old wildcat’s as bad as Sal.

Now keep your shirt on! I mean… don’t get yourself in a tizzle.”

Spoken spitting like a true wild west un

That’s Gabby Hayes our high falooting pal

His only weapon the bottle

His breath knocked me dead full throttle

Hunting the yellow the specks worth a hundred

“All right all right don’t rush me, I’m-a-thinkin’ … and my head hurts”

Said Sam short on words

Wiggle my wiggle this poem’s a turd

—–

Campfire Quite, and Then…

by Trent McDonald

Quiet on the Plain
Gentle noises
From the lowing cattle
Cook takes his tin pan
Makes some noises
As he strikes it with a ladle
I wince in pain
My stomach makes noises
Slop and beans do rattle
Another cowhand shouts out profane
Screams with noise
The beans are ruining his saddle
No longer quiet on the Plain
Loud toots and other noises
The racket disturbs the cattle

—–

Yeehaw! Yippee yi yo kayah!

by Bruce Goodman

My horse’s gone lame
So I’m ridin’ a kangaroo out west
It’s a bit boing boing boing
So goin’ clip clop clip clop gets a bit messed.
Yeehaw! Yippee yi yo kayah!

My kangaroo’s gone lame
So I’m tryin’ to sit on the back of this hippopotamus
It’s a bit plod plod plod
So goin’ clip clop clip clop is a bit preposterous.
Yeehaw! Yippee yi yo kayah!

My hippopotamus’s gone lame
So I’m ridin’ a rockin’ horse through the desert
It’s startin’ to squeak something naughty
So I’m givin’ it a squirt of WD-40.
Yeehaw! Yippee yi yo kayah!

WD-40 worked like a charm
Now it ain’t sqeakin’ and rowdy
I’ll just tie up my rockin’ horse on this hitchin’ post
And go into the saloon and say howdy.
Yippee! Yippee! Cheers!
Yeehaw! Yippee yi yo kayah!

—–

The Cowboy Life

by Denny K

There once was a cowboy named Rex,
Who really preferred to be Tex.
This life with his horse,
Was special of course.
And easier to love than his ex.

—–

The Mad West

by Ruth Scribbles

West got mad
And sang
Don’t call me old
Yer mama taught u betta
Mama taught u betta
Mama taught u betta
The west ain’t old
Just mature in nature
Mama taught u betta
Go rope a cow

—–

The Internal Thirst

by Tiredhamster

sand…

sand…

dust…

The sun hangs over
As I ride my steed
Deeper into the valley
Hungry eyes lingering
On my head, wishin’
I was dead

sand…

sand…

so much sand…

This is the life
Of a desperado, an
Outlaw, a man without
Name or country, all i have
Is my horse, Larry, and the
Birds that fly over, taking
Bites out the sky, all because
I forgot to pay my tab

sand…

sand…

too much sand…

I’m no drunkard though,
I’m a free spirit, but sometimes
I gets a bit thirsty is all, not always
Sure for what though. A pain that
you can’t lasso or shoot at sundown
or avoid like Injuns in the night…
Maybe one day I will finds out
What this thing inside wants, maybe
Out here in the dreaded beige yonder…

sand…

sand…

more sand…

sand…

—–

Wild Wild West

by Deb Whittam

High noon
Whiskey swilling yokels
Voices breaking the shotgun silence
Painted floozies trip in the gutters
As dust hangs untamed
High above an eagle floats
Eyes seeking vermin
Even as a distant whistle of the train
Breaks his reverie
For a moment eyes strain
Horizon bending in the piercing sun
Then he spits his wad of tobacco out
Rubbing his brow as tumbleweed
Scatters down the street
Time to round up the brumbies
His gloved hand closes over the handle
Of the Walmart trolley
He turns

—–

On the Trail

by Michael B. Fishman

When ‘yer on the trail a-pushin’ cattle,
makin’ ‘yer way up to Seattle.

When saddle sores a-pop and ‘yer eyes start to droop,
and yer butt’s so sore it hurts to poop.

When yer bored watchin’ dust a-startin’ to twirl,
then y’all write a poem to yer old cowgirl.

Like I done did.
And I’ll demonstrate –
So you may equate –
And mebbe get yerself an idea that’ll pollenate –
One in which yer brain can lubricate –
And you can fay-ber-i-cate.
(Cuz you have my permission to do so)

Oh Maybelline, my horse needs a shoe.
Oh Maybelline, I smell like mildew.
I just a-wanted to tell ‘ya your love is overdue.

Oh Maybelline, I got a fever fer you.
Oh Maybelline, I smell like a gym shoe
I just a-wanted to tell ‘ya that first I’ll need a good shampoo.

Signed,
with aller my love,
Your luvin’ Cowboy guy,
Earl E. Earle

XXX (Them X’s, they’s kisses fer you, Maybelline)

—–

The Wild West

by LWBUT

Oh, give me a home where the kangaroo roam
and the beer and the and the Swan River flooooowwwwww.
Where jackaroo’s*  herd with a helicopter or whirlybird
a fifty thousand strong head herd of emu’s!

Home, home on the plains
where the dust storms can last fourteen days.
Where the koala and wombat get ready for combat
with the crocodiles, dingoes and snakes.

The Australian outback, ancestral home of our Mad Max,
has a beauty that few ever find.
And at night after sundown, when you’re feeling totally run down,
looking upward will so blow your mind!

Home, home on the plains
where the dust storms can last fourteen days.
Where the koala and wombat get ready for combat
with the crocodiles, dingoes and snakes.

All these wide open spaces almost devoid of friendly faces
seem to stretch out for mile after mile.
The hot burning sun will fry your brains just for fun
and make you mad as a cut snake after a while.

Home, home on the plains
where the dust storms can last fourteen days.
Where the koala and wombat get ready for combat
with the crocodiles, dingoes and snakes.

If you lower your defences while you’re out fixing fences,
although you might start to feeling quite chuffed.
When you realise that you aughta have remembered to bring water,
but you forgot and now you know that you’re stuffed.

Home, home on the plains
where the dust storms last fourteen days.
Where the koala and wombat get ready for combat
with the crocodiles, dingoes and snakes.

* (jackaroo = Aussie cowboy, jillaroo = Aussie cowgirl)

Little known bit of trivia:  My home state of Western Australia is over three times the land area of  Texas.

—–

High Plains Drifter

by Jane Basil

A drifter came whose hooded eyes
bore a hole through town-folks faces
and though the distant cloudless skies
revealed no darkening, shadowed traces,
and dusty streets withheld a warning,
the tides of change were set that morning.

Puffed up folks with secret past
came dressed up all respectable,
but in his soul, his truth held fast
he knew they were despicable.
They placed a star upon his chest
and paid him well to do his best.

He vowed that he would free the gang
of an opposing, greedy clan,
then chose a stunted, clownish man
as deputy, to serve his private plan.
Yet no-one but this man could see
the mist that held a mystery.

Though no-one guessed his hidden aim
his friend came close and boldly did say
“Stranger, you never spoke your name.”
The drifter squinted and turned away
towards the boneyard on the hill,
where recall held his gaze so still.

The townsfolk rallied to his call
to learn to shoot a rifle straight;
he fooled the people one and all,
and then he ordered scarlet paint.
They dipped their brushes when he said
that they should paint the buildings red.

A heavy gang rode down the hill,
and stared upon a scarlet joke.
They came to raid and maim and kill;
amid the mayhem, the foreshortened bloke
recalled the townsfolk’s shameful past
and recognised the drifter at last.

Some years before, one rain drenched night
a man was beaten in the square.
Although he begged with all his might,
he could find no mercy there.
Declared as dead, they buried him
beneath the bone-yard on the hill.

Corpse and drifter were one and the same;
vengeance was wrought by the man with no name.

—–

I’m much obliged to y’all. Come on by the house after sunup, and we’ll fix you up wit’ another contest.

cowboy-746992_1280

Gary: D. Wallace Peach created this graphic that you can use (if you want) for a badge of honor as the winner:

Throwback Thursday: The Pit of My Mind

Originally posted at The Bipolar Writer Collaborative Mental Health Blog in April of 2018. If you think it’s depressive; yes, it is.

A spotlight coming from a hole in a dark underground cave in Minorca

“Chelsea? Chelsea?” I don’t look up.

Wendy the counselor waits; I assume she waits patiently. She’s going to have to wait for a while, if she thinks waiting will get a response from me. I may be as mentally distant from her, the room, and life as possible; but, I smugly acknowledge, I still have my stubbornness.

“Chelsea?” She tries again, though not pleading or cajoling. The woman is too good at her job. Her paid job. The one I’m paying her to do. “I can come in there after you, if you need me to, but I want you to find a way out on your own.”

Fat. Chance.

I’m ugly. No one actually cares about me, least of all her. I’m paying her; she’s a paid friend. She doesn’t want to to see my face; my red, splotchy, tear-stained face, with stringy, greasy hair and imperfect, crooked teeth…

“Whatever you’re telling yourself right now is not true.” I hear, from a distance. “You need to stop listening to that voice, and meet each untruth with the more positive truth.”

Whatever. I’ve heard aphorisms before. know that my “voice” is the truth: the UGLY truth, yes; but the HONEST one. No one really cares. No one really cares. No one. People standing outside my pit, calling to me, don’t really want to be there. And, they are ignorant twits.

Whenever someone leans over the edge of The Pit I wait. “You don’t actually care!” I yell, from somewhere near the bottom, out of sight of any penetrating light. Occasionally, they take the bait; they lean closer. Grabbing them like a mud-pit crocodile, I drag them down with me to their doom.

“Wha-?” They manage, before getting a faceful of mud, moss, roots, overplayed apps, and wrappers from an entire package of Fun Size Snickers.

Believe me, that size of chocolates was not as “fun” as they said.

Soon enough, I have amassed a small pile of hapless prey. Almost all of them are not strangers; they’re me: Optimistic Me, Tried That Day Me, Motivated Me, lots of Medicated Me’s, Broke the Habit Me, and even Did Something Worthwhile Me. They’re not as big or strong as Me in The Pit, of course, which is why they’re lying, broken, at the bottom.

Balancing carefully, I decide to climb atop the living pile of bodies. They moan slightly, too down-trodden and depressed to fight back.

Knowing me, I’d probably kick them if they did fight. It’s easier to kick another down than help myself up.

Slowly, precariously, my head reaches sunlight. I climb higher, ignoring the complaints below. Helpful Me, the poor sucker, proffers a handy boost with her unbroken leg. Soon I see the top of the hole; I’m looking at ground level.

“Wow,” I breathe.

A slight, sweet-tasting breeze tickles my exposed face. A completely careless birdsong whistles down from a nearby tree. I see light, clear skies, beautiful landscapes. I can almost touch rough twigs and mossy ground. Almost.

A low shot of green underbrush in a forest under a bright sun

It’s not real, someone I know, inside, tells me.

“Come out,” my counselor requests. Still waiting. Perhaps she’s eyeing Medicated Me, just beneath a dirty sneaker, when she adds, “Medication is never meant to be taken on its own. Studies are clear that any treatment must include therapy.”

The breeze tastes of rain, as well. Storms will come, maybe soon. That whistling bird is a sitting duck for a hawk or fox, singing so anything can hear it. The impending storms will mar the sky -look! See? A cloud is already blocking the sun. The twigs and moss are not actually there. I’m sure they’re just fake craft-store props.

It’s too much.

I climb or stumble or intentionally fall back to the dark comforts beneath me. We all roll or crawl or drag ourselves to muddy positions as I select the easiest numbing solution nearby.

“Don’t do this,” I think I hear, from far away. Wendysomething?

You didn’t, Depressed Me says.

“Let’s play Fallout,” Addicted to Apps Me suggests. A few others perk up a bit in agreement. I acquiesce, and we all wait for it to load. We really ought to fix the WiFi in The Pit, but Motivated Me is still recovering from a concussion.

“Can I have a Snickers?” Pig Me asks. I hand her the bag. Thank goodness for home delivery, otherwise we might starve.

 

Photo Credits:
unsplash-logoJez Timms
unsplash-logoDeva Darshan
unsplash-logoIan Chen
unsplash-logoJanus Clemmensen

 

©2019 Chelsea Owens