My Other Half

Did you know that I am married? That I share my life with a wonderful husband, and father of our five boys?

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I write about me all the time, even when I write about other people. I’m inside my head; seeing my distorted, depressive view of things, and that’s what ends up painted all over this blog.

But… there are more sides to this story than mine. I owe my lavish, stay-at-home lifestyle and this very blog to my husband. He is my patron. He’s also a devoted spy, reading what I write and ensuring no one’s comments get too frisky.

Yet I rarely specifically mention him.

Me: “Did you see what I wrote on my blog?”

Him: “Oh. Yeah. That story.”

Me: “…Sorry.”

Him: “It’s okay. You always write about me after we fight.”

My one-sidedness has been niggling at me. I haven’t been fair. I haven’t been honest. I love the guy, after all, and think he needn’t be misrepresented.

I’ve loved Kevin since we were 16 years old. One month or so after my birthday, I came out to the front porch of our house to find it decorated in paper cutouts. I knew the signs, and yelled inside that my sister must have been asked to the upcoming school dance. I was wrong; I’d been asked.

Amongst the paper décor was a page of instructions: to sing “Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star” at the top of my voice, say the alphabet backwards, go to a Geocities website, and call a phone number at the bottom if I needed ‘technical support.’ He’d also included an envelope of the letters of his name.

I ended up succeeding in solving the puzzle, thanks to a little reverse phone number searching in our school directory. They wouldn’t have that these days…

The day of the dance, we played Capture the Flag in the school hallways, ate in our finery at a friend’s house, and attended the dance itself at the State Capitol Building. Neither of us could actually dance, so we talked a lot and pretended we could.

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By Andrew Smith from Seattle, WA, USA – Utah State Capitol, Salt Lake City, CC BY-SA 2.0

Although Kevin and I attended the same junior high school as well, that date was our first interaction. I went home, determined to set up that LAN party he’d proposed during our pretend-dancing. He went home and told his sister he wanted to marry me.

Kevin’s an interesting person: extremely intelligent and analytical to many extents but also creative and artistic. His sense of humor is a lot like mine -or mine’s like his.

My mother: “You two have the same odd sense of humor. Do you know how I know?”

Me: …

My mother: “When someone says something, you both crack up, but no one else is laughing.”

She’s mostly right. Kev and I diverge a bit with morbid humor (him) or slapstick (me). We’re both right up wry alley, however, and enjoy intelligent observations.

Star Wars Text

From April of 2016, shortly after Disney released the first “Star Wars” film they made after acquiring the franchise rights.

He’s an excellent singer. His main career is a software engineer; his side, the dice business. In his free time, he likes computer games or interesting shows and films.

Our talents and interests crossover more often than complement, but it makes choosing a movie to watch easier. After all, what other guy choosesPride and Prejudice,” or what other gal choosesThe Matrix?” I believe our disagreements stem from the similarities; but maybe all couples fight, and fight over other things.

On the whole, I sure love my Kevin. And now you know a little more about him; about us.

This is the point at which I tend to ask the audience a question, like What’s something you want to know about Kevin? but he’s mine mine mine and so you can’t.

Instead, who’s your other half? Who supports or shares your writing journey? Does he or she read what you create?

—————-

Check out what I wrote this week:
Friday, January 3: “Old Year, New Year – Old Me, New Me,” an update on what’s been goin’ down in the last month, and some resolutions.

Saturday, January 4: Announced the 53rd Weekly Terrible Poetry Contest. The theme is a commercial jingle. PLEASE ENTER!

Sunday, January 5: “Memories Within the Old Hutch,” in response to Carrot Ranch‘s prompt.

Monday, January 6: An inspirational quote by Thoreau.

Also, “Postpartum Depression: Why Mental Health Surveys Suck” over at The Bipolar Collaborative Blog.

Tuesday, January 7: “Baby Blues (Eyes),” a poem.

Wednesday, January 8: Today.

I also posted on my motherhood site. I wrote “I Had My Baby” and “Sharing, a poem.”

 

©2020 Chelsea Owens

Wilhelmina Winters, Ninety-Three

“‘Bout time, Mina Late,” Jacob said once Wil entered the car. His breath came in puffs; Rob had started the engine as soon as she’d opened the door to the backseat and they must have been sitting without heat until then.

Wil did not see fit to answer such rudeness even if he were cold. She turned away from the scoffing youth, settled her purchases near her, and closed the door.

“Get buckled, Mina,” the driver gruffed. He grunted and engaged their vehicle in a backwards, then forwards motion.

“But, of course,” she replied, securing her person. Who knew what bandits or ruffians they might encounter on their return trip? She sighed and rested her dainty chin upon her dainty fingertips as she gazed out at the passing landscape.

The world had changed.

Centredom hadn’t always been so dangerous. Even Wil could remember bright, sunshine mornings, laughing brooks, singing fairy folk, and trusting villagers. Then, out of nowhere, The Thing came. The Thing was everything and nothing; but, most of all, it was everywhere.

Sunshine turned to windy grey. The laughing water suppressed itself to a muted murkiness. Fairies disappeared. And, as Wil had just witnessed at the market, weary villagers interacted in wary ways.

“Didja remember to get dinner this time?” Jakob interrupted her thoughts to tease.

Wil continued to study her memories and outside view. It wasn’t the young man’s fault, after all. She knew his pointed sarcasm stemmed from The Thing. The Thing touched the hearts of all that lived and felt.

Night and lighted night panned across her pensive, regal face. They moved quickly. She felt fortunate in not meeting with any delays, particularly any influenced by The Thing.

Just as she thought to thank The Goddess for their safe arrival home, she heard a loud *pop!* from quite near. Immediately thereafter, the even gait of the vehicle she sat within altered to a wobbling sashay.

Their destination arose just ahead. Wil glanced at their driver as she attempted to keep her seat. His jaw set. They were going to make it. Another lurch, many bumps, and a sharp turn landed them beneath the shaded corral: their goal.

“Well,” Rob said after a few seconds. “Let’s see about making dinner, huh?”

 

Continued from Ninety-Two.
Keep reading to Ninety-Four.

Wilhelmina Winters, Seventy-One

Blinking away a world of sunsets and wings, Wil snuggled her arms free from their blanket cocoon. She groped into an outside coat pocket, searched, and removed her thin, black gloves. The other outside pocket produced a few wood chips, and a remembering blush. The inside pocket held lint and a rather bent novel. She frowned, hoping her teacher wouldn’t be too upset at the state of her loaned material.

Wil reached into her last pocket. This held a crinkling wad of official paper folded over a handwritten letter: her goal. Wil spread them out as best as she could and read them over again.

“Mom,” she said. Her fingers traced the looping flourish of Guinevere Greene’s signature. The title of Mother belonged to Cynthia; there had never been any thought or chance or wish for Wil to believe otherwise. She’d read stories, of course, of children with awful parents who wanted more than anything to be cared for by someone else. Wonderful, loving Cynthia, however, had always been so sweet. If they hadn’t had limitations like health and money, the mother she and Jakob had known for most of their lives might have spoiled them.

As such, they were only ever spoiled with affection.

Once when Wil was quite young, she remembered, she got into Cynthia’s makeup. Staring at her tiny, painted self in the mirror, Wil had realized that her mother was standing right behind her. Arms crossed, face frowned, Cynthia had not been pleased. “Now Wil,” she’d said. “This is my makeup and you need to ask permission.” She’d come forward and sat right next to poor, apologetic Wil. “Now,” she’d added, “Let me show you how grown-up women put on their lipstick.”

Wil’s lips pursed forward, remembering the way she and her mother -the mother she’d always known- had made kissing faces at the mirror after painting their lips. Anytime she’d wanted to after that, Wil had joined Cynthia at the mirror to get made up for the day.

Wil stared down at the cursive again, trying to picture its author. Was Guinevere the sort of mother who smiled with love when her daughter blurted out whatever came to mind? Did her laugh or smile light up a room? Would she have asked Wil about her day, every day? Would she have shown Wil how to put on makeup from her own supply?

Maybe.

Maybe not.

Wil had no experience with how a real mom might be. If anything, her reading had taught her to fear a stepmother, but Cynthia was nothing like the cruel stepmothers that stalked the pages of fantasy stories. Given that, was Guinevere the evil one?

She had left Wil behind. She had insisted on Rob’s never telling Wil about her.

And yet…

—–

“Whazzinit?” Syl the pixie paige asked, ever the nosy sprite.

Wyl Winterling cast him an imperious glance, her coils of dark hair shifting across her featherlight wings with the movement. “I believe that is none of your business.”

Syl drawled a disappointed, “Awwrr.”

“Still,” Wyl interuppted. “I may tell you that I’ve learned I’m also daughter of The Great Lady of the Greene.”

The effect of her statement was instantaneous. Syl drew breath in, and was blessedly speechless. The Great Lady existed in forgotten ballads and old stories, and was whispered amongst the branches of the magical elder boughs.

“So,” Queen Wyl’s paige squeaked out, “Will she be comin’ for a wee visit soon?”

 

Continued from Seventy.
Keep reading to Seventy-Two.

Skinwalkers, XXXVI

“Nathaniel? NATHANIEL?!”

Nathan pawed at the blackness around him but his actions revealed nothing. He felt like a blind man with a cowl over his head. His breaths came in short, restricted gasps as he tried to move in the direction he thought was forward.

“Nathan-yieeelll!” he called again.

Little by little, he was drawing near to his goal. Despite the dark, he could feel it. And just as much as he wanted to find something –anything– he also strained against himself to turn away from the inevitable.

His feet dragged on.

A jiff and forever later he saw a shadowy shape ahead. The shape hung just out of gravity’s reach yet twisted slowly and obediently in its greedy pull. “Nathaniel?” Nathan whispered. His feet crushed over broken capsules and kicked empty bottles into an unknown abyss.

And still he walked forward. He was nearly to his brother’s dangling, turning, suspended feet when Nathan’s view shifted. Now he saw his own scared, pale face peering up in horror as his perspective twisted around and around a blank, expansive waste.

A noise; an irritant, incessant sound came from far away. Black mist thinned to a comfortable, familiar reality and his dizzy twisting resolved to a stationary side-lay as the repeated noise grew louder.

*Bee-bee-beep!* *Bee-bee-beep!*

Nathan realized he was staring at a pulsing light; that it was his comm that had called him back from the twisted memories within his mind. He breathed true, dank air in deep draughts, just for the reassurance that he still could. “Light,” he croaked. The comm and the apartment obliged and he squinted in the rapid difference.

The comm was still beeping and pulsing, along with pointing its light skyward. He pulled it to him and manually deactivated each application. The wristwatch beeped. “No, it can’t be,” he told it, yet checked the comm’s display. It confirmed his watch’s warning: merely two ticks till the second interview.

“Lepros!” he cursed and flew from the bed. He sprinted the short space to the bathroom and set the shower to its hottest. Hopefully, he thought, as he used the other facilities, that would encourage the cheap heating system to bring hot water to his apartment faster. He ran to the food station and returned with a drinkable snack. Wishful thinking led him to believe he saw some steam forming and he closed the door to encourage an extended stay.

Nearly a moment later, the room was swimming in warm, swirling currents. He adjusted the water temperature back to midhot and began a vigorous rubbing of his skin. Certain he’d agitated all he could reach, he turned and started pulling at the seams of the Skin Conditioner. He couldn’t afford to wait another jiff.

The casing hissed open as it had the last two times he’d activated it. Unlike the previous times, however, Nathan was not reassured by what he saw. He stood in shock as the steam billowed and bounced around him.

The skin was there, yes, but nowhere near as whole as it had appeared just a halfcycle ago.

 

Continued from Skinwalkers, XXXVI.
Read to Skinwalkers, XXXVII.

Wilhelmina Winters, Sixty-One

“So,” Jakob began. They all turned to look at him; he fumbled a bit as he read their expressions: Rob’s warning, Cynthia’s trust, and Wil’s emptiness. He cleared his throat, in a way that sounded surprisingly like Rob’s. Cynthia smiled slightly. Jakob looked at his hands.

“So,” he said again, “We’re all adopted.” He tried a laugh; glanced at the picture on the wall. He sighed, looked back down, then remembered how to grin his characteristic smirk. “Who knew?” He joked.

“We’re so very sorry this all came out this way,” Cynthia said. “You know that we wouldn’t have sprung it on you. We’ve always told you about Jakob, for example. Wil’s mother was adamant that she never be told -even threatening lawsuits against Rob..!” She faltered a bit and glanced at Rob to be sure she wasn’t saying too much.

Rob’s head jerked up when she brought up the legal issues, but then he shrugged. “It doesn’t seem to matter now,” he admitted. He ran his right hand along his jaw, and glanced nervously at Wil. Wil felt lost.

“I, uh,” he began, and paused at her blank look. He swallowed. “I won’t keep any more secrets from you.” He looked at his work boots, and scuffed the floor with their toes. “There really aren’t any more, anyway.”

“Rob,” his wife said, and held her right hand out to him. He took it, and caressed it carefully around the tube taped to the top. “You did the best you could. You’ve taken care of everything.” He sought her face and she smiled at him.

Wil watched her parents distractedly, from a distant plane devoid of sensations. She read their expressions, and felt a slight stirring inside. Their love touched her distantly, like a comforting fire through thick glass. It began to permeate the fog and speak to her reasoning.

“Wil,” her mother beckoned -the one who had been her mother for as long as she knew. Wil stood and walked to the bed. Kneeling beside it, she lay her head at Cynthia’s side. Slowly and fondly, her mother stroked the dark brown hairs and pale face.

They all seemed to be listening outside the room; to the nearby physiotherapy, perhaps. Their actual thoughts, however, were simultaneously within and beyond the thin, neutral-colored walls.

Wil felt broken apart when she first understood the truth. She was still unsure where life would go from here. Would she meet this woman who not only gave her up, but demanded Wil never learn of her? Who does that to her child?

Wil looked up at Cynthia: sweet, understanding, patient Cynthia who had never had an easy life but almost always looked for the positive in it. They had all worked to keep Cynthia as long as they could, knowing Goodbye stood lurking around the corner.

This was the woman who deserved to be her mother, Wil decided: the one who stuck around and loved her. Wil had never even guessed she was not Cynthia’s, assuming lack of resemblance in looks and behavior to be a random genetic mix. In fact, Wil had always felt Cynthia treated Jakob well also, though his parentage had never been kept from them. Wil turned to Jakob, and caught a similar sentiment in his face.

Jakob, realizing Wil was scrutinizing him, scrunched up his features. She laughed.

“When we get home,” Cynthia declared, “We’re telling you all we know.” She smiled her full, exultant smile. Her family reciprocated. They could never resist.

“It’s a good thing it’s the weekend,” Wil said.

Just then, they heard a knock on the door. “Come in,” Rob gruffed.

A click, a small creak, then the usual clink of the curtain sliding to the side; and a woman in a white overcoat and an air of confidence walked fully into the room. She smiled professionally. “Hello. I am Dr. Sullivan, the respiratory physician on call today. You must be the Winters family.”

 

Continued from Sixty.
Keep reading to Sixty-Two.

Wilhelmina Winters: Eighteen

Jakob reached the stop just as the bus did, though the unusual exertion made him barely able to wave a hand to the driver. Luckily, another apartment tenant was getting off. Wil was able to catch up as her step-brother was paying. They were both puffing slightly.

“I guess it’s worth tuition to ride the public bus at a discount,” Jakob muttered sarcastically to Wil as they climbed aboard. Wil also got a student discount, although junior high school fees were much lower.

Wil felt too on edge from too many surprises in too little time. She merely nodded absentmindedly and followed him to a pair of seats. The driver lurched back into the light afternoon traffic and they lurched into the row they’d just reached.

“See?” Jakob joked again, to Wil, “Worth every penny to ride in style.” He looked at her to get validation for his wit. He instead saw worry and distraction.

“Sorry, Meanie,” he said. The twist on the name her father used for her caught Wil’s attention. She looked at Jakob, finally focused on him and this moment.

“I forgot to fill you in, because I was worried you’d get home too late for us to catch the bus.” He smiled at her to reassure the anxious look she bore.

They rocked slightly in the rhythm of the bus’ movement, as wintry sunlight wanly shone and shadowed them in turn. Their breathing returned to normal, though Wil’s heart rate continued its rapid pace at his news. She waited for him to continue.

“I was in class, and got a text from Cynthia,” Jakob began. “She said she was at the hospital and to let Dad know.” He leaned back against the seat and his large coat made a puffing, rustling sound. “I just got a text from Rob that she’s stable but still at the hospital. He wanted us to meet him there.”

Wil let her breath out, realizing she’d been holding it while staring at Jakob’s face. It was times like these that she felt the difference between them. Perhaps his use of her parents’ first names exacerbated the discomfort, but Wil also liked to blame any oddity in Jakob’s characteristics on their lack of mutual parents.

He was really her cousin, adopted by her mother when he was a young boy. The story she’d heard was that his mother felt too overwhelmed by a second unexpected pregnancy and knew Cynthia really wanted a child.

Jakob’s real mother, Wil’s aunt, had then been able to move away and pursue a career in performance. Wil’s father, Rob, always accented the word “performance” in an odd way when he spoke about it, but Wil didn’t understand why.

“Well,” Wil finally returned -but that seemed all she was able to get out.

Jakob laughed. “The great chatterbox silenced!” He looked at her almost fondly, and Wil realized his friendly jokes were from relief. Jakob had been just as worried as she’d been. He’d also thought today was Goodbye.

 

Continued from Seventeen.
Keep reading to Nineteen.