The Man Who Waited (Fiction)

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        Alan had always loved Ethel. From the moment he stumbled out of Murphy’s and saw her face, he knew that he loved her. Usually, he didn’t just walk up to beautiful women, but with Ethel it was different. He had liquid courage in him and he had gone for it. He ran across the street without looking for any traffic and asked her out. She blushed and turned to laugh with her friends, but eventually she gave in. He had taken her to a movie and had spent over five dollars on her, which was more, than he usually made in a week. She was worth it though.

They dated during the year of 1931, so neither of them had much money, but they’d been happy. As the years went on Alan thought about proposing many times, but backed out because he was too ashamed to do so without a ring. He hadn’t worked a steady job since before the depression and he didn’t think it right to commit himself to her, when he couldn’t even support himself. Still Ethel had stayed around for several years because she loved him, but times only got worse. She told him many times that he only mattered to her and that she didn’t care about money. Eventually, she grew impatient of her pleas falling on deaf ears and left him. His pride had always been his downfall and forced him to watch his love walk away from him down Broad Street.

Ethel dated many men after Alan, but for awhile she refused to settle down, hoping, deep in that secret part of her heart, that Alan would make a grand gesture and propose. It never happened though. Her parents began to badger her after she turned twenty three and she settled down with Mark right before he was shipped off to Germany. It was a marriage of convenience, but she believed that she could learn to love him. Alan received an invitation to the wedding in the mail, but he didn’t go. He could have stopped it, if he had been able to afford a ring, but he was still bouncing back and forth between any odd jobs he could land.

During the Battle of the Bulge he was kept warm by his memories of Ethel, while he sat in the dark frozen mud of the trenches. The bombs exploded around him, like some perverted version of the Fourth of July and he vowed that if he made it back to America he would tell her how he felt. Surely, Mark couldn’t also survive the war.

The first day he was back in Hempstead he drove his car to Ethel’s house. He waited outside, in his parked car to work up the courage to see her. He thumbed the simple gold band he had finally been able to afford. Just when he had gotten up the courage to walk up to the door though, Ethel and Mark walked out. Ethel cupped her swollen stomach and Alan had driven away.

He bided the years by focusing solely on his career, determined to outlive Mark and finally be given a second chance. Years turned into decades and Ethel’s family continued to grow. Occasionally, Alan would drive past her house, just to see how she was, but he never went to the door. He didn’t know what he would do if he had. He couldn’t proclaim his love; it wouldn’t have been fair to her.

Decades turned into half a century and Alan knew that his second chance was just around the corner. They were both in their seventies. Alan felt evil for wishing Mark dead, but the years had turned him into a bitter old man. He’d never married and was satisfied to stay faithful to Ethel and forever alone.

It was a Wednesday when he got the call. He always screened and had let them go to voicemail.

“Alan, its me. I looked your number up in the phonebook. I know we haven’t spoken in decades, but I still love you. I just got home from the doctor. I don’t know how to say this, but I have cancer. I don’t have long so I just wanted to say goodbye,” the voice echoed through his empty house. Alan was paralyzed in his chair. He should have gotten up and picked up the phone, but he couldn’t.

Surely, she wouldn’t die. It’d be to cruel of God to have allowed him to survive for so long and never having the chance to be with her again. He’d lived his life for her, although it seemed she would never know. He put off calling back for weeks. He knew he was probably hurting her, but he couldn’t bear to say goodbye.

He finally picked up the phone on November 15th, the anniversary of their first date. He slowly punched her number into the phone and then waited as it rang. No one picked up and he was forced to leave a voicemail. How he had wished he would hear her voice one last time.

“Ethel, its me. I know I should have called sooner. I should have called years ago, but I couldn’t do it. I still love you. I never stopped loving you. I thought about proposing hundreds of times, but I never could afford that damn ring. I’m sorry. I hope you make it because I can’t imagine life without you existing in some way…” he was just about to hang up when the phone clicked to signal that some one had picked up.

“Who is this,” said a gruff voice.

“I’m Alan,” he responded.

“My wife died this morning, Alan. I’m sorry that I won’t be able to pass on the message,” the voice said twinged with emotion.

“Oh… that’s alright. I should have called sooner. I’m so sorry,” Alan said after a moment’s hesitation.

“The service will be this Sunday at St. Mary’s. I hope you come.” The voice said.

“Sure I’ll be there…” Alan’s voice trailed off. “Well I have to go. I’m so sorry for your loss.”

“Me too,” said the voice and then he hung up.

Alan slumped back into his chair. He felt hollow inside. He couldn’t muster one tear, but instead sat in his chair in a daze. It was over. He would never be with her. He slowly got up and walked to his bedroom. Opening the closet doors he pushed aside what little clothing he had and opened his safe. He kept the German luger he found at the Bulge inside and all of Ethel’s letters. He pulled the shoebox out, which he stored the letters in. He grabbed one and pushed it to his nose. It still smelt like her. Lifting the shoe box over his head, the letters rained down on him until they blanketed the ground. He placed the luger in his mouth and pulled the trigger. Perpetual darkness followed as his blood soaked the love letters through.

His body wasn’t found for weeks and no one claimed it. The only item of value that was found in the apartment was Ethel’s engagement ring; it was used to pay for his burial.

First Chapter of my newest project… let me know what you think

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The Crew: A Millennial Confession

Draft 1

 Anticipation:

          I pull the collar of my blue polo up out of my Tegan and Sara t shirt as I bound off of the bus. Dave and I are the only seniors who still have to take it, we’re scholarship kids, and the only twins in our grade. The collar has to be showing or I’ll be written up, like yesterday, I wore cords on a chapel day. At Pinegrove that’s the equivalent of a crime against society, they’re of the belief that enforcing obscure, meaningless rules some how makes the school that much better. I’m not good at following rules, most of the time they slip my mind and the rest of the time I just don’t give a shit. Only two more months and I’ll finally be out of this hell-hole. Dave looks back and waits for me to walk towards Lane Hall.

            “Courtney has yet another paper in the window,” he says as we pass the office to get to our lockers. It’s kind of like a walk of shame, every morning. Whenever someone is accepted to a college, their name and the university’s is printed onto a piece of paper and taped outside the office for all to see. Pinegrove believes in “healthy” competition.

Dave applied to a few schools in New York City. NYU responded last week, but he didn’t get a scholarship, so he’s holding out for Fordham. I’m taking a gap year or at least that’s what I’m calling it. I’d much rather work at a coffee shop and read and write whatever the hell I want, than run after some ivory, white tower, which will eventually make me too educated to be happy with the dead end job and endless debt I’ll get in return.

            “Yea you’ll be up there any day now,” I say, I can feel that he’s nervous, not that it’s a special twin skill, he’s just so obvious about it.

            Luke runs up behind us and punches Dave in the shoulder.

            “How does it feel that she is better at absolutely everything?” he questions.

            “Michelle isn’t good at anything,” he shoots backs.

            “Hey I’m great at a lot of things,” I reply.

            “Like…” Lana jumps into the conversation.

            “Poetry,” I say defiantly.

            “If you mean clichés then yes,” she says with a smirk.

            “You’re not even part of the paper. Are you sure you actually want to be a writer?” Luke asks. He wraps his arms over her shoulder and hangs off of her like a goof.

The bell rings and I slam my locker without answering her. It’s confusing, she teases, but I don’t think she likes me. Well, you know like that.

            I am a walking cliché though, she was right. Although I haven’t kissed a girl, I’m pretty sure I’m gay. Thursdays aren’t complete without watching My Drunk Kitchen. Anyway I mean I’ve kissed boys, but I just didn’t like it. I also can’t stop thinking about Lana.

“Are you coming?” questions Dave, we’re the only ones still standing in the hall.

“Yea sorry, got lost in my thoughts,” I say.

“I know, its been happening a lot lately,” he replies.

“Yea well a lot’s going on,” I say.

“You can talk to me you know ,” he raises his eyebrows and gives me the look

“I will. Eventually, just sorting stuff out,” I say as I walk towards him.

I haven’t told him what’s been going on in my mind. I’m still not alright with it, so how could he be. I follow him down the hall and slip into homeroom. The morning announcements are playing on the television, but no one is paying attention. We walk to the back of the room and sit next Lana and Luke. She’s wearing a Death Cab for Cutie t shirt over her orange polo.

Courtney walks in and sits on the other side of the room. She shoots a glance at us, but doesn’t come over. Its been weird since Dave and her broke up. It happened back in January, but her new boyfriend doesn’t like it when she hangs out with us.

“She’s such a dick monkey,” I say as I turn back to Lana.

“A what?” she questions.

“A dick monkey, you know she swings from dick to dick,” I say. Everyone starts laughing and she throws a look over at us. Mrs. Thompson walks into the room and the conversation dies down. The bell rings and we shuffle out. I have to get across campus within the next five minutes, but I’m really not feeling class to day. Lana walks past me and I grab her arm.

“Let’s ditch and go to the willow tree,” I whisper.

“Sure,” she says smiling. I can see the pack of cigarettes bulging in her back pocket.

Pine grove has a huge campus, kind of like a small college. It takes about ten minutes to walk anywhere, but its pretty isolated. In fact it was the last plot of land that William Penn sold. I learned that in history last week. We sprint from Lane Hall until we get to the tree line at the edge of campus. Dave and Luke run after us and my heart sinks a little bit when I realize, we won’t be hanging out by ourselves. I’ve wanted to talk to her for a few weeks.

“Wait up!” Dave calls. We stop just within the trees and wait for them. Lana reaches into her pocket and produces the pack of vanilla cloves. She hands each of us one. I walk with it unlit, dangling from my mouth until we reach the willow tree. Its bark is littered with lover’s carvings. It’s been around for a long time and is legendary on campus. If a couple ends up down here their names or initials end up on the tree. Luke climbs onto a branch and lights his clove.

“Only three more weeks,” he says as he puffs out a smoke ring.

“It’s gone so fast,” I say.

“Right! I’m going to miss you guys,” says Dave.

“We’re all going to be in New York though, right?” questions Lana as she takes a drag.

“That’s yet to be seen,” says Dave as he produces a small baggy of weed.

“Stop, you know you’re going to get into Fordham,” I say as I lean against the tree.

“But with a scholarship? I thought NYU was a done deal,” he says as he rolls the joint between his fingers. He passes it up to Luke to light.

“Worst case you can be a gypsy with Michelle,” says Lana as she sits crossed legged under the tree.

“Bohemian,” I shoot back.

“So hipster,” snorts Luke. Every one starts laughing and I feel my face fill in with heat. I know I’m blushing, which only makes them laugh harder.

“Oh fuck you guys. We’re all smoking cloves, I think we’re all one at this point,” I respond.

“Everyone is a little bit hipster,” Lana says.

“Avenue Q reference?” questions Dave. The conversation is quickly devolving as the joint makes a full circle.

“Maybe. But seriously, the word doesn’t mean anything anymore. If anything I think you’re brave by not buying into the whole college idea,” says Lana as she takes a long drag from the joint and then returns her clove to her mouth.

“At least not yet,” I say, I’m smiling.

 

The next week passes in a blur and Dave has basically given up that he’ll ever hear from Fordham. Its painful, watching him walk out to the mailbox every day after school, and returning with only the magazines that Mom loves so much. It’s Friday and I know its going to be a long bitter weekend if Dave doesn’t get an answer today. We hop off of the bus in front of our small Cape Cod house.

“Do you want me to walk with you?” I ask as the bus pulls away and disappears down the road, behind fields of corn.

“Kind of,” he says as he kicks at a stone near his feet. I jog across the road ahead of him and open up the mailbox. Inside there is a large white envelope. He got in.

“Dave!” Dave!” Its here!” I yell as I run back to him and shove the package into his hands.

“Its heavy,” he says as a grin takes over his face.

“Mom and Dad aren’t home yet. Should we wait?” I ask.

“No, I can’t wait any longer,” he says as he drops his heavy book bag to the ground and tears at the paper envelope. He pulls out a folder that has a huge ram and Fordham University printed on it. Flipping it open, he quickly scans the acceptance letter.

“So?” I question. I’m scared that there’s no scholarship.

“Oh my god. Holy Fuck! I have a full ride!” he yells and punches the air.

“Shit Dave! You’re getting out of here,” I yell as I pull him into a hug. We don’t usually touch each other, but I’m so excited I can’t help but show it. After a second we remember ourselves and back away. He pulls his phone from his pocket and quickly types out a message to the crew. He even included me in thread, within a second my phone buzzes with the message.

“We have to celebrate tonight,” I say as we walk down our gravel drive way and into the house.

Thumper leaps off of the kitchen counter and greets us at the door, she’s a strange cat. I kneel down and rub her black back for a few moments before standing up and opening the fridge. I grab two beers and hand one to Dave. He pops his open with a lighter and then does the same to mine. I clink my bottle against his.

“To New York,” I say.

“Next year is going to be a shit show,” he announces before taking a swig of his beer.

            “So tonight, we should go to the path,” I say as I place my beer on the counter and pull out my phone. I type out a message to see if every one is up for chilling.

            “Yea, get some lokos and chill,” he takes another swig. “Luke probably still has some weed too,” he adds.

            “Sounds great!” I say as my phone buzzes in my pocket. It’s Lana.

 

So we’re all going to be NYC. This is going to be awesome! I smile as I realize she didn’t send the message to the thread, just to me.

Yea I haven’t decided which borough I’ll be in yet,” I shoot back.

Brooklyn? She answers

Probably I say.

I slip the phone back into my pocket, grab my book bag, and head upstairs to my room. Dave follows behind with the acceptance letter held tightly in his fist. I toss my bag on the floor of my room and cross the hall to his. I still think of it as my room, we shared for the first twelve years of childhood. I’m still not used to sleeping alone, not having anyone to talk to until I pass out. I sit down on his bed and sip my beer. He plugs his ipod into his speakers and puts the Mountain Goats on.

            “So what’s the plan?” I question after a few minutes.

            “Luke said he’d swing by in an hour and get us. Lana is coming too. He’s stopping by the Root Club and picking up some lokos for us,” says Dave as he taps out the beat of the song on his desk.

            The crunch of gravel drifts in through the window. After a moment a car door slams and Dave and I lock eyes.

            “Shit,” I say as I look at my half empty beer.

            “Bottoms up,” says Dave as he chugs his down and I follow his lead. We ditch the bottles in the crack between the eves in his cubby hole at the corner of his room. If my parents ever renovated the house, I’m sure they find at least a hundred empty packs of cigarettes and empty beer bottles down there. Within a minute the kitchen door slams shut down stairs.

            “Anyone home,” my mom calls out.

            “We’re up here,” I yell back. I push myself off of the bed and head downstairs, Dave trails behind.

            My mom is already fiddling with the coffee maker and filling it with water. Its her ritual everyday after work. My dad should be home any minute. He’s a professor at the local college and is always home by five every night.

            “You two look suspicious, what have you been doing?” questions my mom without even turning to look at us.

            “I got in,” says Dave.

            “Fordham,” she asks as she turns away from making coffee.

            “Full ride,” I blurt out.

            “Honey!” she pulls him into a huge hug and he squirms to be let go.

            “We’re all going out to celebrate tonight if that’s alright,” he says finally.

            The coffee is trickling out into the pot and the smell is quickly enveloping the room. Maybe that’s why my dream is to work in a coffee shop, I’m practically a junkie. My dad walks through the door and straight to the pot. He pours himself a cup before he acknowledges any of us.

            “I got in,” says Dave once more. My dad smiles and slaps him on the back.

“I told you,” he replies and takes a sip. For the briefest of moments I feel a pain of jealousy. I know I made the decision not to apply to college, but I feel like Dave has one upped me, at least for now.

A Youtube Lament

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So I’m not very good at talking to a camera, but I want to get in on the conversation that’s been going on about youtube. First, a few weeks ago, SparkleofGlitter talked about the pressures of being a youtube celebrity and how foreign it was to her, whenever she went to a convention, then Ashley Mardell addressed the situation and I know countless have spoken about this, far more than I could list here, but the breaking point for me was Hannah Hart’s last episode.

It actually made me sad, and that’s saying something. MDK never makes me sad, in fact it’s usually the bright spot in my week, not to sound pathetic, but hey I’m living in a foreign country, dealing with the aftermath of coming out. Anyway, Hannah made a point this week of getting plastered, to almost prove she was still Hannah Hart. I never questioned this fact, but apparently more than a few people on the internet have. Towards the end of the video it turned incredibly poetic. She put a video of her sober self almost pleading to her audience, that she was still her, over the back drop of her drunk self.

Isn’t the fact that the past few months of episodes she’s produced been of  a sober Hannah, been more authentic than anything we’ve seen? And hey, we all know youtubers make a living off of ads. Hannah Hart however seems to always choose sponsors that would enlighten us. For god sake she has a book club. Other youtubers promote audible, but they don’t actually discuss the books they have been listening to with their viewers.

I know that there has been, for lack of better word, a rift forming between creators and viewers. As the audience of the site expands this is inevitable. I can’t even imagine the pressure that she and other well-known youtubers are under. They make a living by exposing themselves to the public, yet the public is always thirsting for more blood. In many ways I think the pressure they face is worse, than the usual trials a traditional celebrity has to face. They are their own paparazzi.

 We as a community should be happy that youtube has evolved into a forum that in some ways is being taken seriously by more mainstream forms of media. Youtube is democracy at work, we collectively have made all of these people “famous” and we should stand by them and believe that their integrity won’t be lost.

The website has exploded within the past four years and its evolving. I have no idea what it will become, but I still see it as a forum that can ignite change. I can’t tell you how many social causes I have gotten involved in because of some off hand comment or perhaps pre-moted soapbox: ie The Trevor Project, that a youtuber has pushed forth.

So let’s be patient as a community, I still have faith that this platform can be true and honest. We’re all figuring it out together, creators and viewers. Let’s not be so hard on them and let’s remember they’re people too. That’s all I have to say.

#YesAllWomen

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I’m a guy,

I see a girl and if I like her, its mine.

I’m a guy,

I yell at you in the street.

I’m a guy,

If you’re gay its just because you haven’t met me.

I’m a guy,

I’ve been taught the world is mine.

I’m a guy,

Even if you say no, I know its because you’re shy.

I’m a guy don’t hold it against me.

Society has told me its fine,

I’m a guy, please help me.

The Concussion

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There’s a large log that juts out of the ceiling and hangs over my bed. I’m short, so most times it really isn’t a problem. This morning though I woke up drowsy, had to pee, and stood up far to quickly. I smacked my face into the hard wood, which resulted in me biting down onto my tongue and passing out near the bed. When I came to there was dark, red, blood all over my shirt, sheets, and I had a throbbing head ache. I stumbled down to the bathroom, finally relieved myself and looked in the mirror. I had a bruise the size of a cherry and half of my face was swallow. That’s when I started panicking.

You see I’m used to medical problems, god my life is one, but I’m not used to having them when I’m living a lone in a foreign country.

I realized this morning that I’m mortal and that life can end very quickly. What if I had actually gotten a concussion? What if I had passed out, not onto the mattress, but down the stairs, I live in a loft. It was scary and it taught me never ever jump out of bed. Take a moment and just simply bask in the fact that you woke up to another morning, that’s how you avoid slamming your head into logs.

The Forgetful Man

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 I met him within the first three hours of landing in France. I’d just set down my one suitcase in my apartment, and decided that now was good a time as anyway to explore the small town, I had decided to make my creative prison, so to speak. Fighting jetlag, I wasn’ts particularily keen about my decision, but it was only one in the afternoon and although I’d been awake for almost twenty four hours, I still couldn’t go to sleep.

So I headed to the center of town, stopped at the first café I found, and sat down. A Scotsman was sitting to my right and noticed me immediately.

“I’m Stevie,” he said extending his hand to mine, before I had completely sat in the chair.

“Cait, just got here,” I said.

“Here as in the café, because I can see that, or Aups?” he muttered and then took a sip of wine. He was quite “refined.”

“Aups,” I replied. He flicked his hand up, as he gestured to the waiter.

“Une rouge pour la mademoiselle,” he says in a perfect French accent. The waiter hurried away and brought a glass of wine to the table. I pulled out a cigarette and lit it, I had a stash of Marlboro, that I brought with me.

“So they kicked you out did they,” he said as he motioned towards the cigarette

“Nearly, I actually came here to finish a novel,” I said.

“Fancy yourself a writer? I guess the young are allowed to have dreams,” he said as he downed the rest of his wine and once more motioned to the waiter.

“I suppose,” I replied not feeling like defending myself at the moment. I sat with him for over two hours, and learned that he was from Scotland, he loved the queen, and he thought that Julie Andrews had the voice of a fallen angel.

I left happy that I had made a new friend and passed out in my loft. The next day I was up early and went shopping for food. I saw Stevie across the street and waved at him. He waved back, but didn’t seem to remember me. I figured he probably had to much to drink the day before, he looked as though he might have been eighty.

Several days passed before I saw him again. I was sitting at the café answering emails and watching youtube, when he walked up to my table and asked in French, whether he could sit with me. Of course I said yes.

“I’m Stevie,” he said with an out reached hand. Its then that I realized he didn’t remember me. He may remember the past, but the present is covered in a fog that’s impossible to discern.

“Cait,” I said, not wanting to embarrass him.

Most times we talk, it’s about memories. He never mentions what he did that day, but he loves to tell me of the old days. When he worked in London, and had a secretary, when he was important.

 

I see him every day, but he never remembers me. Stevie, I promise I’ll never forget you.

 

*Names changed

An Execution Scene :

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In light of the botched execution of Clayton Lockett, that took place in Oklahoma, this past week, I feel that the need for a discussion of capital punishment is needed. I’ve been spending the past day and a half reading Insurgent, the sequel to Veronica Roth’s Divergent. One of the most touching scenes in the entire book is Tris’ walk to execution, on the cool, metal bed provided by the calculated Erudite, that would be her last. All that came to mind for me was the green mile that so many inmates, innocent or guilty, take in many states. Although her death is real for the reader for only one and a half pages, it is still poignant.

The clinical, unemotional, experimental death is one that our country seems to have gotten used too . If someone’s head isn’t being chopped off or if their body isn’t being fried by insane amounts of electricity, it is somewhat humane and dignified. The state has taken the place of God and has been given the right to determine whether an eye for an eye is the right path to take in light of murder.

I, personally, disagree. I am pro-life. Yes, I know commonly that brings to mind lunatics standing at the capitol with signs against abortion and women’s rights, but I honestly don’t believe in taking the life of any person, whether it be through war, capital punishment, or (until science proves when life begins) through abortion. Sure it puts me on the fringes of my democratic friends, but who cares.

Living in the mind of one about to be executed, specifically Tris’, humanizes the entire situation. If we as a society feel that murder should be dealt with retribution, then let the people effected by the violence pull the trigger, for really they were the one’s effected, not society. I think when you pin individuals against individuals the outcome, more than not, will be forgiveness not more violence, because honestly murdering a murderer will never bring the innocent back. Instead, it will only breed more victims.

Thanks for listening…

Death

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When I’m dying give me wine, or whiskey, or jack

Because there’s no point of ever looking back

I have my moment and my friends

But truly they can’t tell what is going to be the end

I just sit in here my warm bath, thinking of all the moments that have passed

Perhaps its to soon but here it is

No regret, no original sin

So I’ll lie here and be drawn away

Leave in peace that’s all I have to say .

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