Category Archives: relationships

Invisible Anna

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After the blinding light cleared, Anna tried to refocus.  Her head felt fuzzy, but despite being disoriented, she was able to regain her vision.  Directly in front of Anna was an ornate mirror hanging on the wall, with a wooden table and an arrangement of pink roses below it.

“This can’t be right,” she said, squinting to get a better look.

The reflection in the mirror was definitely Anna, only she looked as though she was in her thirties again.  She stepped closer to the mirror and touched her warm, soft cheek.  Stretching her hands out in front of her, she noted the smooth, slender fingers and glowing skin where age spots had been moments earlier.

Pulling at the neckline of her favorite t-shirt, she took a peek inside.  “Well hello girls, you’re looking perky,” she said, pleased that her body was back in place and not hurting anymore.

Anna’s daughter came into the foyer just then, her dark brows were pinched, lips set in a thin line, and her eyes had dark circles underneath.

“Allison, what’s happening?  How did I get here?” Anna asked.

Allison ignored her mother and disappeared through the double doors.  Anna followed behind pushing the door open, and the hinges protested with a creaky moan.  Anna’s three children and their families stood at the front of the room, turning to see what the sound was.

“There must be a draft,” Allison said.

“No, it’s just me,” Anna replied, but her family had already shifted their attention away from her.

Anna moved forward to get a better look at what everyone was gawking at.  Some of her family was crying, and everyone stood defeated, as though the weight of the world rested on each of their shoulders.  They were gathered around a casket.

“What am I missing?  Who died?” Anna asked, moving in for a closer look.

She clamped her hand to her mouth, stumbling back a few steps, swallowing the bile that was rising in her throat.  Tears filled her eyes as panic settled into every crack of her being.  It couldn’t be.

“Goodbye Mom,” Allison whispered into the coffin.

“I’m right here!”  Anna’s voice cracked, she shook her head trying to clear out the confusion.  “What the hell is going on?”

Anna backed up to put some distance between herself and the coffin.  She bumped into someone and, out of habit, turned to apologize.

“Man, I’ve missed you,” Jack’s familiar voice soothed her.

“Jack?”

Tears fell from Anna’s eyes as her late husband wrapped her up in a tight embrace.

“I knew I’d see you again, I knew it!”   She pulled back, stroked his middle-aged face, and squeezed his arms to be sure he was real.

“Is this a dream?” Anna asked him.

“I think you know it isn’t.”

“But I don’t feel dead.  I’m so confused.”

The funeral director began setting up a large picture on a stand next to the coffin.  Anna crept over to have a peek at her old, wrinkly body.  It was covered only by a clean, white sheet pulled up to her neck to conceal her nakedness.

“Just like I requested,” she noted.

The director gently closed the coffin as Anna examined the oversized picture of herself.  She looked at Jack with a sparkle in her eye, and the two of them burst into laughter.

“This is the one?  This is the best picture they could find of me?”

“At least they blurred out your middle finger,” Jack smiled.

“My gosh, I remember this!  I was drinking tequila.  Would you look at the hot pink lipstick on that shriveled up smile of mine?”

Jack winked at Anna.

“You’re eighty-five years old, get it together,” she yelled at the picture, smiling.

Her family slugged around the room, as guests began pouring in to say their goodbyes.

“This is depressing,” Anna said.

“Well what did you expect?  The world is a darker place without you in it, my love.”

Jack reached for Anna’s hand and held tight.

“Oh look!  There are Jenny and Mel.  I’m going to miss those girls.  Maybe I’ll haunt them sometime.”

More familiar faces piled in and a smile spread over Anna’s face.  “It’s good to know they cared,” she told Jack.

Anna’s youngest great-grandchild was Jill, a blonde hair, blue-eyed sweetie pie who just celebrated her first birthday.  She came toddling toward Anna on unsteady feet.

“Nana!” Jill babbled, pointing as drool hung from her lips.

“Nana’s in heaven with the angels now,” her mother soothed.  She swooped Jill up into her arms.

Jill’s chubby-cheeked smile flashed over her mother’s shoulder, as the toddler reached out to Anna.

Anna placed her thumbs against her temples and wiggled her fingers while blowing raspberries to Jill.  The sweet girl squealed and clapped.

Anna placed her hands over her heart.  “She can see me?”

“Sometimes they can,” Jack said.  “Especially when they’re little.”

Anna arched her brow as a new guest entered the room.

“And what is Ethel doing here?  She doesn’t even like me.”

Jack shrugged his shoulders.

“Look at her pretending to care.  Oh, I’m haunting this one for sure.  Books will be flying off shelves, and dishware will be levitating.  You can count on it,” Anna promised playfully.

Ethel made her way up to the casket, collapsing into tears and causing a scene.  Anna followed close.

“What a drama queen.  Would you look at this, Jack?  I don’t even think those tears are real!”

“Anna,” he said.

“What a fake…”

“Anna!” Jack interrupted.  He nodded in Allison’s direction.

She was huddled with her two brothers and clearly struggling with this event.  Anna floated over to her children, who were already wrinkled with age themselves.  She put her arms around them as best she could.

“Oh God, it’s like she’s still here, I can feel her,” Allison sobbed.

“Mom probably is still here,” Alan soothed.  “She’d never let anything keep her away from us.  Not even the Grim Reaper himself.”

“I can feel her too,” her oldest brother agreed. “Of course, it could just be gas.”

“Andrew!” Allison snorted at her brother’s weird humor.

Anna floated back to Jack’s side.  “I feel so helpless.  Is there anything I can do to comfort them?”

“Not that I know of.  This is their time to hurt and to heal.  It’s what life is all about.  They’ll be fine.”

Bob Marley’s “Three Little Birds” played softly over the speakers.

“They remembered!”  Anna clapped her hands together as a smile spread across her face.

“Don’t worry…about a thing…cause every little thing’s, gonna be alright…” Anna swayed to the music, memories flooding her soul.

Her family also smiled now, sharing their own memories of Anna.  Some memories were such a gift, and the most important ones never seemed to fade.

“I’m really going to miss the kids,” Anna sighed.

“We’ll stay close by.  They’ll be here with us all too soon.”

 ~*~

Anna and Jack stood side by side on the familiar grounds of their property.  In human terms, a week had passed, but time was different in this new reality.  For Anna, it had only felt like minutes.

Her children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren were gathered at the back of the property, just outside the tree line.  Allison and her husband had moved in to help take care of Anna during the final stages of her life, so Anna left the house to them.

It was a beautiful fall day.  The sun was shining, and the leaves were vibrant shades of orange, yellow, and red.  The smell of burning firewood blew in on the crisp breeze.  A small hole was freshly dug a short distance from the ten-year-old oak tree with Jack’s memorial plaque tacked to it.  Allison placed the bio urn, containing Anna’s ashes and an oak seed, into the hole.

“Rest in peace, Momma.  Hug Dad for us.”

Anna wrapped her arms around Jack.  “This is from the kids.”

He smiled and hugged her tight.

Allison furrowed her brows.  “Do you think that, somewhere out there, Mom and Dad still exist?”

“I don’t know.”  Alan put his arm around his sister.

The grandkids buried the urn, excited for the day they would have a picnic under their Nana’s living memorial.

That evening while Allison was in the shower, tears slid down her cheeks and she sobbed.  Thoughts of her own mortality, her mother, and the fresh empty void in her life consumed her.

“She’ll be okay, Anna.”

“There has to be some way I can comfort her.”

“Let her live, I promise she can handle this.  We’ll check on her in a little while, but right now, I have so much to show you.”

Anna started to follow Jack.  But then her eyes lit up and a smile played at the corners of her mouth.

“Wait, I’ve got an idea!”  She disappeared into the bathroom.

Seconds later she emerged, her features much more relaxed than before, and she took Jack’s hand.

Somewhere in the Universe, in a place so beautiful human language can’t describe it, Jack and Anna laughed and twirled in each other’s arms to a heavenly melody no human ear could comprehend.  Peace and love permeated every part of her soul.  She was home.

~*~

Allison stepped out of the shower and reached for her robe.  Her eyes widened, goosebumps tickled her skin, and her breath caught in her throat.  Then peace filled her heart, and she smiled.  She hadn’t heard anyone enter the bathroom, but in the fog on the mirror, in her mother’s familiar handwriting, were the words: WE STILL EXIST.

 

 

 

 

Eww, Valentine’s Day

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As a romance author and hopeless romantic, it comes as a shock to some people that I don’t like loathe Valentine’s Day.  But wait!  Hear me out.

So, I love love.  And I don’t like too many regulations.  As a compulsive rule-follower, too many rules are hard to keep up with and it stresses me out.

Valentine’s Day, which in my opinion should have no authority in our lives whatsoever, regulates how and when someone should love their significant other.  For example, you should love your other by buying them diamonds, chocolates, flowers, and of course, the master indicator of love…the greeting card.  Also, you should do it on February 14th. Every. Single. Year.

Come on, really?!  Who decided that’s how you show love on this pretend holiday?  If you want to show your love, do it whenever you want, and with your own personal flair.  Not the generic flowers and chocolate crap. (Unless the generic flowers and chocolate crap is your own personal flair, then please accept my apologies.)  My husband and I show our love by snuggling on the couch, having a meaningful talk while collapsing in an exhausted heap of tired parents, in the middle of the active conversation we are having.  But we do that all the time, so February 14th means nothing to us.

According to the National Retail Federation, spending this Valentine’s Day is expected to hit 19.6 billion dollars.  What if I’m broke, and can’t afford diamonds?  I have a pantry stocked full of chocolate, you know, in case of an apocalypse, so I don’t need any more of that nonsense.  And while flowers are undeniably beautiful, in reality, I just have an overpriced glass of rotting plant in the center of my table, and the newly acquired chore of watering it as I watch it slowly die.  Nothing says “love” like more responsibility, am I right?!

What about those who can’t be with their loved ones on this day, or who don’t have a romantic partner for the occasion?  This commercialized, fake holiday just worsens feelings of inadequacy, loss, and depression.

Or what if I’m just crabby on Valentine’s Day, or something happens and my husband and I get into some kind of argument?  It’s, like, ten times worse if it happens on this specific day, because of the unrealistic expectation that everything concerning love is magically perfect on February 14th.  Suddenly, I’ve convinced myself that I’m a failure at love, when in fact I’m not, I’m just PMSing.

Real love is ugly, messy, and hard, and sometimes it hurts.  It’s also beautiful, fulfilling, and can leave you breathless.  None of that changes because someone (Hallmark) says love, somehow, should be extra special on this calendar date.  It’s too much pressure.  Love just is what it is, regardless of how you want it to be.

 

The Girl in the Rain

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She walked along the city street, in a sea of strangers, on a cloudy day.  Thunder crashed violently overhead, but she didn’t flinch.  In fact, she barely even noticed.

She was always disconnected from the people around her, never really belonging in any place or situation.  Maybe it was the way she viewed the world, or just the way the world viewed her.  Most of her existence was unnoticed and insignificant.  She was easily forgettable, which she tried to see as an advantage, but it didn’t feel like one.  All around her, people laughed and connected, but she always stood on the sidelines, just outside of the action, watching it unfold but never participating in even the slightest sense of the term.  She watched, and wished that she could find her place, but eventually realized there was no place for her here.

A stranger bumped into her without so much as an ‘excuse me’, and for the millionth time that day she wondered if she existed at all.  People often looked through her, and she worried that she had in fact died but not realized it yet, and that nobody could see her because she no longer existed.  She felt truly invisible, and the emptiness inside was so deep and so dark that even a black hole itself could be overtaken in the vacuum of nothingness that resided within her soul.

It’s not that she didn’t want to connect.  It’s that something inside of her, woven into the very core of her being, couldn’t connect.  She was one to ask, but never to be asked.  She was one to care, but never to be cared about.  She was one to listen, but never to be heard.  She was called mysterious, but she wasn’t mysterious at all.  She was practically screaming, “I’ll tell you anything you want to know!”  But that’s the thing.  No one really wanted to know anything about her.  She worried what people thought of her, but eventually came to understand that nobody thought of her at all.  She had so much to share, but nothing to offer.

Sometimes she hated herself.  She knew she was a broken-down mess of a soul. She just wished the others couldn’t see it so well.  If she could have cried, she would have.  But the emptiness ran so deep that she no longer felt sadness.  Just an overwhelming numbness overtaking her very essence, what made her who she was.  She felt nothing.  She was nothing.

She’d never been popular, and she pretended it was by her choice, but she knew that wasn’t the reason.  It was because no matter how hard she tried to connect, she just couldn’t.  Nobody really cared, not the way she did.  And in the end, maybe that was her own fault.  Caring too deeply and thinking too much.  This kind of existence could torture a soul.

It had been raining, but she barely noticed.  Even though her hair was dripping, raindrops hung off her lashes and her clothes clung tightly to her cold body, she barely felt it, had barely felt anything in so long she’d almost forgotten how to feel at all.

She stopped in her tracks, on the city sidewalk and looked up into the dark, gray skies.  The ice-cold rain slammed across her face, invoking a numbness upon her skin that matched the numbness inside her soul.

Maybe she wasn’t meant for this world.  Or maybe it was her purpose to walk across the Earth like a ghost.  Unnoticed, ignored and easily forgotten.  To be looked at, but never truly seen.  To be listened to, but never truly heard. To be there, but never to belong.

She closed her eyes against the onslaught of lightning, and as everyone else ducked for cover she held out her arms and prayed Grimm would come for her.  But in order for death to take her, she would first have had to live, and she never quite made it that far.  She rarely felt anything anymore, just went through the motions in a world that was too bright to notice her insignificant, dim light.

She would never belong to this place, to these people.  She would never be enough for this place, for these people.  Her quiet voice would never be heard among the shrieking of the others, and anymore, she wasn’t sure she wanted to belong here anyway.

She put one foot in front of the other, water filling her shoes and sending a chill straight to her tired bones.  If she felt anything at all she would’ve shivered.  But she didn’t feel anything now, and she didn’t shiver.

She turned down a dark alley, the grayness and rain obscuring the view of her silhouette as it disappeared around the corner, and just like that…she was gone and forgotten.

The hustle of the city street forged ahead, and nobody missed a beat.  One was left to wonder…did she ever truly exist at all?

 

 

 

 

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