Short Story: The Dinner Party: Conclusion

Emily awoke at some point, from what felt like a truly horrible nightmare, and stared at everything that was around her, noticing that she was in what appeared to be a hospital room, all white and shiny, everything smelling clean and new. That dream, she thought, it felt so terribly real, so present, she felt as if she could still smell the smoke that had been billowing around her. She remembered being in Yorkshire, the smell of Yorkshire on fire, how it all seemed so tangible, like an alternate reality. But where was she? Was she in Yorkshire? She could still see the faces of all the people from her dream, but she couldn’t remember any of them, they seemed like ghosts of some nightmare she was glad to have exited. It was all too strange, really, how alive everything had felt. But it couldn’t have been real, we’re not at war, England is safe and sound, for the moment, she thought to herself. It made her worry that her mind might be going to places she didn’t wish it to go, yet she was unsure of how to stop it from drifting away. Everything from the dream had begun to feel like it was fading, slowly, and she had trouble recalling key moments, which she truly believed had been real. Yet, she couldn’t shake the feeling that the dream, the nightmare, would haunt her future somehow, in some way. She couldn’t recall how she had gotten where she was, or why she was there, all she knew was she felt calmer and more at peace than she had in ages.

She got up from her bed, and began to look around at everything that was there. She saw a small sink, several pillows sitting on a chair, what appeared to be a collection of poetry, and then she saw it. She saw the copy of The Bell Jar, resting on the desk that was in the corner, by the window. She picked it up, and thumbed through it, looking at her favorite novel, and feeling comforted by its presence. Something familiar, something that she was connected to in some way. She remembered purchasing it last year, around the time it came out, February, maybe March, of ’63, a somewhat sunny winter day, especially for London. She remembered returning to her flat, and reading it as quickly as she could, connecting with the main character in such a powerful way. She wondered why it was there, in that room, that hospital room, and then she began to wonder why she was there as well. She had had a nightmare, but why was she not in her bedroom at home, in her flat in Knightsbridge? That’s when it occurred to her that hospital rooms do not usually have desks, writing desks, where people work. She turned to face the window, and saw the familiar sights of London in front of her eyes, and yet that’s not all that she saw. To her shock and horror, she realized very quickly that they don’t usually have bars on hospital room windows, at least the hospitals that she had been in before. She felt the panic in her chest begin to rise, and she began to have trouble breathing. She swore she could smell the smoke in her nose again, feel it burning her lungs. Emily lifted her copy of The Bell Jar again, and was stunned when she smelled the faintest traces of smoke, confused, since she herself was not a smoker. She flipped through the pages, wondering, and that’s when she saw it. When she saw the publication page. There it was, a single sentence, written in a lovely hand, and that’s when it came rushing back to her.

“Emily, darling, I promise to read this book, your favorite, even though I think it’s still a great trick that the publication page says 1963, I love you, William. xx”

She felt sick. She felt disturbed. She felt unhinged. It was all a dream, she thought, it had to be, none of that had been real. October 13, 1944, what bollocks, she thought to herself. Someone is playing a great trick here, trying to confuse me, make me feel like I’m losing my mind, she thought, with great fire burning in her chest now. That familiar anger began to rise, and consume her, and although she hated it, it felt better than pain, or loss, or grief. She threw the book down, not wanting to hold it in her hands again, not wanting to see that sentence anymore. William, she remembered him now, the only one she could place from that dream. He was her husband, or was he? She wasn’t sure if she remembered a wedding, everything feeling so fuzzy and lost again inside of her mind; it felt like all of her thoughts were swirling around, mixing and confusing her, and making her question herself, and her existence. She then spotted the other item that occupied the desk, and realized it might be time to look through it.

The small leather notebook sat carefully on the writing desk which had also held The Bell Jar. She was terrified to see its contents, but knew that she inevitably and no choice, she had to look. She ran over and tore it open, desperate to see what was written inside. That’s when it all came crashing down. All of it. Every moment came flooding into her mind, and she felt as if she might drown, suffocated by all of the memories she was forced to relive. The first date in the notebook was January 1, 1945. The last date was yesterday, October 13, 1964. But it was truly the title page that destroyed her, and cracked her mind open like an egg, all of the contents spilling out everywhere, until she felt like fading into nothing but a memory.

From the Diary of Mrs. Emily Jane Turner, Widow, Patient Number 13, Bethlem Royal Hospital, London, England.

She knew it all now. The word Bedlam was scrawled all over random pages, and she felt herself sinking into the ground, quickly, losing herself and her sanity once again. The first page, January 1, 1945, tells the tale of what happened on October 13, 1944, in North Yorkshire, England, and the bomb that destroyed David and Margaret’s home. She remembered now. She remembered that last night wasn’t a dream at all, it was a memory. Every single page in this diary, this journal, was riddled with memories that she had written, over and over again, as if they had just happened for the first time.

Each date for the last 20 years was filled with the mad thoughts of a mad woman, on the brink of always losing her mind again. Her wedding day to William on April 15, 1942, their weekend in occupied Paris where they made love as gunfire went off outside, the summer of 1943 when she suffered a miscarriage, the time they spent in Yorkshire, older memories of growing up with her mother, father, and brother in her lovely family home in Cheshire. The accident that took her parents, the battle that claimed her brother. William fighting in Italy, and Poland, and everywhere else on the continent that the war waged on. The time she thought of having an affair, but decided against it. Time spent in pubs with friends and her husband, especially the one they loved in Bloomsbury. Memories of moving into their flat in Knightsbridge, the one she remembered still living in today. Although, from the looks of things, and where she was, it didn’t appear she had spent any time there recently. Memories of a life lived, of love lost.

After 1944, everything seems to have simply stopped for her. There are no entries in this journal, no matter the date, that mention anything happening, other than what had already happened in the past, prior to October 13, 1944. And then she knew. This wasn’t a journal of events that she had kept. This was the journal she wrote in every time her mind slipped, and she fell back into the past. That’s what she did when she lost her mental footing; she sat down at the desk, and wrote about where she was that day, whether it was her wedding day, or some random day in 1943, it didn’t matter. She had lost herself to her memory. And last night, Emily Turner lost herself to that fateful day, October 13, 1944, when she lost everything. Emily realized quickly the reason for this. Because yesterday was October 13, 1964, the 20th anniversary of William’s death. Of everyone’s death that was in that home in North Yorkshire that terrible night. She had been the sole survivor, and yet, she couldn’t explain how she could still smell the smoke, or how that sentence was written in The Bell Jar, in William’s handwriting. She had lost too much on that day, and all the time before, and it was clear that her mind had refused to ever let her move on from that point. That’s why she was there, in this institution, clearly recovering from another episode, another breakdown. Maybe she checked herself in because she knew it was the 20th anniversary, and she had assumed that she would breakdown again. It appears that was the right call in the end. She was stuck in a loop of memories and nostalgia, of mental instability, and debilitating grief. She realized from this notebook, that maybe there was no real way out. Maybe, she would be fighting this for the rest of her life, like a disease, a disease of the mind, her mind, so riddled with holes from the poison that had been eating away at it. She felt fine now, as the day had passed, October 13, and she felt well, as long as she didn’t read that sentence on the publication page of The Bell Jar, the one William had written, which she still couldn’t explain. Her hair still smelled of smoke, as did her skin, something else she would never be able to explain. But maybe that was ok. Maybe some things weren’t meant to be understood, maybe that had to happen for a reason. Maybe now she would be able to let that memory go, at least until the 30th anniversary, in ten years time. She looked back at the title page of the journal. Patient 13. Fitting, she thought, as she remembered that night; 13 sets of eyes, 13 people, 13 strikes on the clock, October 13…it all made sense. 13 strikes must have been the hint her mind gave to itself that it was all a memory. Yet, how could it all have been just a dream, when William wrote in the book? She decided to stop wondering, and accept it, accept that she had gotten to see her husband again, no matter how it had happened.

Emily was feeling well, until she look down on the desk, and saw the thin gold band, the one that had been on her finger last night. It made her throat catch, and she reached down, picked it up, and placed it back on her left ring finger. She felt it in that moment, the tight, tight string pulled once again inside of her head, as hard as it possibly could. She smelled the smoke again, wafting around her, as she inhaled strongly, allowing it to fill her. And that’s when she was gone. Gone again, the poor, mad woman from Cheshire. Emily Jane Turner was lost to the ages.

And finally, that last string snapped, and Emily awoke, groggy, and a bit lost, on what appeared to be a lovely spring day, at a charming registry office in Chelsea, London, that had a calendar on the wall that read April, 1942.

Written By:
Kelsey H. October 2014

Working Title: Sweet Home Chicago

INT. OFFICE BUILDING IN MANHATTAN – DAY

(A very loud, intense office, an office where many people work in the same large room, not exactly full cubicles but smaller versions. Like a large office from an 80’s movie, but it’s set in modern times. Everyone in the office is going crazy, papers are flying, people are running around, people are on the phone screaming, everyone looks frazzled and upset, its utter pandemonium. A lot of wide angle shots. Slowly, the noise of the large office begins to fade, and the action begins to happen in slow motion. We see many more closeups of the people going crazy, and they are moving in slow motion, as classical/instrumental music plays in the background over the scene. Camera pans, as it moves through the people, still manic, and works into a large office at the back of the room. The camera moves inside, and we see a large chair turned backward, facing the huge wall of tall windows that cover the entire back of the room. Through the windows we see a view of the Manhattan skyline, including the Empire State or Chrysler buildings. Everything is still in slow motion. The man is sitting in his large chair, and we see him stand up, we still haven’t seen his face, only the back of his head. He moves to his left and walks closer to the windows. We see his full body, his hands on his hips as he looks out the windows. The camera moves in, zooming in slowly, on the back of his head, we se his hands move up from his hips, and they’re then placed on his face, and then they work around onto the back of his neck, appearing almost as if he is slightly choking himself. Everything is still slow motion, the music is still playing. The camera slowly pans around and we see the right side of his face, backlit by sunshine as his nose is nearly touching the glass of the window. Suddenly, over the music, we hear very mumbled words, its hard to tell at first what that new noise of, it’s extremely muffled and fuzzy. Then, the music begins to fade, and a voice becomes clearer, and clearer, it’s a woman’s voice, and she starts to get louder and louder until it breaks through the music completely (which abruptly stops) and we hear all of the madness of the office once again, and her voice gets even louder and clearer, and she screams

(The song that plays over the entire intro of Jimmy Lewis, up until his arrest and the cut to black should be Jean Richie’s “Hangman”)

INT. JIMMY LEWIS’S OFFICE – DAY

Secretary
Mr Lewis!

Jimmy
(Jimmy’s head turns slowly as he faces his secretary, his eyes slightly red and manic looking.)

Yes Sarah? Can I help you with something? (said sarcastically and rudely)

Sarah/Secretary
Mr. Lewis we have to get rid of this stuff! You know we have to start shredding, why are you just standing there, what are you doing!? We don’t have much time left!

Jimmy
Why should we Sarah? Seriously, why? Why do you care? And why should I? This are obviously rhetorical, since I’m not going to be doing any shredding anyway.

Sarah
Damnit Jimmy, I seriously wish you could stop being an asshole for even one minute. Just one. This is out last day together ever, and even now you’re still like this, I just give up with you. You don’t want help? Fine. Enjoy your court hearing.
(Sarah storms out, leaves the film for good)

Jimmy
Love you too Sarah.

(Jimmy begins to walk out of his office, right toward the camera, and suddenly everything is in slow motion again, and the music starts up again, the same music as before, and we see Jimmy walk through the office (cuts can be made so we can see him get through the office quicker) and he ends up in the hallway, after he’s worked his way through all the crazy people, and he goes down the hall. We see him go into the bathroom, everything is regular speed again, the music is gone, and we see and hear him throw up in the stall, and then he walks to the sink, rinses and washes his mouth off, splashes cold water on his face, and he starts to cry, and falls down with his head against the sink counter, a close up on his face as the sobs. Everything is really quiet, but then suddenly, three cops bust into the bathroom, and go after Jimmy. He tries to fight them off, he gets punched, he punches one of them in the face, and he is then subdued (taser?) Cut to Jimmy being treated like an average criminal, getting mugshot taken, holding the info thing with his name etc. He has a black eye and a bloody lip, and his tie is extremely disheveled, shirt is partially unbuttoned, he is a disaster. Takes mugshot from front and side.

Fade to Black, Title Card Appears
Fade back in, a time jump appears on the screen

Ext. NYC Courthouse Steps-Day

8 Months Later
Jimmy Lewis exits the NYC Courthouse, cleared of any wrongdoing and charges.

Reporters
(A ton of reporters swarm Jimmy as he leaves the courthouse. Start shouting questions, making accusations, etc.)

“Mr. Lewis! Mr. Lewis! Please, can you tell us what happened in there? How were you cleared of charges Mr. Lewis!? Don’t you feel remote or guilt about your role in the collapse of your firm!? Mr. Lewis! Mr. Lewis!

Jimmy’s Lawyer
“No comment, no comment, no comment, no comment…”

(Jimmy gets into the waiting town car with his lawyer, and they drive away from the courthouse, we don’t see where they go, there’s a cut, and then a pick up shot back at Jimmy’s apartment, where we see that all of his stuff has been packed up. He walks in, throws his keys on the little table that’s still by the door, and he rubs his hands on his face as he walks into his living room, opens a box where he keeps his liquor, and takes a glass out of another box, and pours a large glass of scotch, as he stares out the window onto the city, it’s a magnificent view, but it’s no longer his, because he has lost all of his money, and has to move out. He still hasn’t fully accepted that fact, and looks very sad, when the camera shows the side of his face as he looks out the window.)

Another fade to black, and then we see a plane landing at O’Hare Airport in Chicago.

We see Jimmy in a cab with all of his stuff, driving from the airport out to a suburb. We see that he is heading to Evanston, through his POV from inside the cab, looking out onto the passing by storefronts and Northwestern campus, there are cuts between seeing from Jimmy’s POV and seeing him from outside the cab looking at the buildings. It is significant that no one picked him up from the airport.

(Jimmy’s coming home song is “Butchie’s Tune” by the Lovin’ Spoonful)

To Be Continued…

Written by

Kelsey H.

Short Story: The Dinner Party: Part V

Emily could see all of the people standing over her, looking down at her, trying to figure out what had happened, what was wrong. She didn’t want to see any of them, she didn’t want to be where she was, she wanted to be with William. He had been in the house, he had been there when the explosion occurred, and there was nothing that could be done, no way she could save him. She tried to run but she couldn’t; there was no escape from here, she realized, deflated. Her arms seemed to be pinned down in some way, and no matter how hard she tried, she couldn’t seem to free herself. Where was she? She had little recollection beyond the explosion, and no memory of getting here, wherever here was. Emily closed her eyes, and smelled smoke, and there she was, back again in Yorkshire, that night, tonight, or last night, or whenever it happened. She saw the house, smoldering, burning, destroyed; she saw herself on the moors, running toward the house, hoping for a miracle, hoping for anything other than what she saw right in front of her; the devastation, the pain, the loss, the overwhelming grief that choked her, suffocated her, until she was on the ground again. She rolled onto her back and looked up to the sky, trying to understand how, why, this had happened, why so much pain must live her heart forever. She had lost everyone now, no one remained, except her. She flashed to the white room; she flashed to the moors and the smoldering house. She no longer knew where she was, where she had been, nothing, it was all chaos and pain swirling around inside her devastated mind. When was this? Where was this? This white room, this damaged land, all of it lost to her slipping mind.

Her parents were lost, to an accident. Her brother was lost, to the war. Now William was added to the list of those lost to the ages, where they would live forever in her mind, and nowhere else. You can create eternity in your brain if you let yourself lose reality along the way, something Emily knew very well, and had accepted, embraced even. William had survived his time fighting on the continent, fighting for the right cause, fighting for King and country. But now, home on his own soil, far away from the bombings of London, and Europe, and everywhere else the war waged on, William had been lost. Sheer bad luck, bad timing, bad life, all of it an absolutely unbelievable mess. She should have taken him up on his offer to walk with her, he’d still be here then, she realized; and that realization was nearly too much to bear. She felt ill, very physically ill, and could barely even keep her eyes open. She felt a searing, sharp pain in her right arm, and began to feel quite tired almost immediately. She wished to return again, to see the house, see what remained, but she knew that would all be for nothing. Emily didn’t need to go check on the house, and see if anyone had survived. She’d been in London during the blitz, stayed hidden in the Underground during the bombings; she knew that no one could survive a hit like that. So she lay there, on the Yorkshire moors, staring up at the dark, English sky, filling with smoke, and wondered how a person could come back from all of this. The odd thing about that moment, though, was how it felt familiar, normal, as if she had experienced it before. As if she had thought that before, wondered how a person could survive. She felt as if she had been there at some point in her past, lying on her back in the countryside, seeing this house smolder and burst into flames. Why? How did it feel like she was having déjà vu? She let the smoke engulf her, inhaling it, allowing it to fill and burn her lungs, not caring about the damage to her organs, or her inevitable fate. She wished to burn. She wanted to burn with William, so she allowed herself to smolder, a mirror image of that house on the moors.

Emily still felt that throbbing pain in her arm, and felt another string pull very, very tightly in her head, that familiar pulling, that familiar pain that she had grown accustomed to, welcoming it into her mind, to set up shop and stay. Then suddenly, it was too much to take anymore, too much to accept, too much to live with. The string snapped, harder, and with more ferocity than ever before. This wasn’t like it had been the first or second time she felt the snap, where it was manageable, and she was able to maintain her surroundings and mind. Each string had snapped with more fire than the one before, and now it had reached the peak of its strength. The string snapped loudly, and began echoing, booming, shaking her head, until she was rolling, hands over her ears, screaming at the top of her lungs. Screaming from pain, from grief, from loss, from everything. She couldn’t stop screaming, her mind and heart overwhelmed by everything that had happened, and she continued shrieking and rolling and shaking her head until she felt another sharp pain in her arm, and suddenly felt tired all over again. Although this time, she gave in to the exhaustion she felt, and finally fell asleep, and she smelled the smoke wafting around her, and all the hands on her body. Those hands, whose hands? Where did they come from? She felt herself grow weaker, and her body fill with smoke, and she welcomed the slowing down that she felt, she welcomed the smoke as her savior.

Home

Personal identity, and its connection to the idea of “home”, and what “home” actually is, is a concept that I think about quite frequently. What are the different elements that combine together to create a sense of identity? How does the concept of “home” and where “home” is, fit in with that idea of personal identity? At times, I’ve felt like I lack a certain part of my identity, and honestly, I’ve never really been sure why I feel that way. It wasn’t until very recently that I discovered how truly lost I feel most of the time, mainly because I’ve never really felt at home anywhere. Home, and one’s understanding and interpretation of what home is, is a big part of one’s identity, in my personal opinion. I remember in college, I was in a class and we were all talking about home, and where home was, and I told them where home was for me, but added a footnote to the discussion by stating that I’d never actually felt at home anywhere. Most people didn’t understand what I was saying, but a few nodded in agreement, and empathized with that missing piece of identity. I believe a feeling of home, and understanding where your home truly is, is a big part of understanding one’s identity. Home, whatever or wherever that may be, seems to be a factor in how people see themselves, and how I see myself, and who I am, as well. I guess I’ve never found the place where I feel like I belong, where I feel like I’m myself, where I feel like I’m home.

I was born and raised in the Midwest, and to be honest, it’s never felt like home to me. My hometown has always felt distant; even when I lived there, it always felt like a foreign place. My parents are from Appalachia, as are my grandparents, etc. My family’s origins are mostly based in Appalachia, the Mid-Atlantic, and the greater East Coast. I lived on the East Coast for a couple of years after college, and I enjoyed it, but it never felt totally right to me either; it never really became home to me, no matter how hard I tried to make it feel like the right fit. I returned to the Midwest a couple of years ago, to my hometown, and it immediately felt wrong and off to be living here again. On top of feeling like a failure for returning, I felt angry and unhappy, and like something just didn’t fit. It was as if all of my teenage angst returned to me, with even greater intensity and passion, and compelled me to make my home elsewhere. As I’m sat here now, in my hometown, it feels like I’m a visitor in someone else’s home, and that I will be leaving any day now, which is truly an odd feeling, if I’m being honest. But that’s how it’s always felt, it’s never been home to me, so I don’t know why I expected it to suddenly change and feel like the place I’m meant to be. There is a somewhat strange thing that I do, and I’ve noticed that it happens quite frequently, more frequently probably than I care to admit. I’ve noticed, that when I like someone, or become friends with someone, and they’re from a totally different part of the country or world, I tend to become obsessed with wherever they’re from, and learn everything about it. I almost try to adopt it as my own place of origin, as if I want to be from wherever they are. To be quite honest with you, I don’t really know why I do that, why it’s become a habit, a compulsion, a need. Am I that lost that I cling to other people’s homes as a way to find my own? Am I lacking some part of my identity? Is that why I do that? Why has home never felt like home to me? And it’s not my parents’ fault. It has nothing to do with them, honestly. I come from a lovely family that provided me with a stable home and a safe place to grow up, for which I will always be grateful. I just feel like I’ve never found the right place to call home, where I’m happy, content, and feel like I am truly myself. They say home is where the heart is, but what if it’s not always that simple? My heart is with my family, but my home has never felt like home, so maybe that’s not true for me. Maybe I’m seeking something that exists elsewhere.

When I was in college, I studied abroad the summer after my junior year. I have a Bachelor of Arts Degree in English Literature, so I chose to study abroad in London. I had spent years working and saving, and I was thrilled to finally get the chance to go. I will admit, I felt homesick the first couple of days I was there, because I missed the comforts and simplicity of “home”. However, that all began to fade very quickly, and London began to take shape as something very different for me. It sort of became a lighthouse that was helping the lost ship that I was, find its way back to shore. Honestly, when I lived in London for that summer, the city began to feel more like home to me than my hometown, and that was both odd and comforting, and slightly inexplicable. How did this city I had never been to, start to feel like that place I was always meant to be? How was that truly possible? How had it taken me 21 years to find a place that felt like home, that felt like the place I had been searching for? I still don’t have an answer, but it remains very true. I returned to London last fall, and it felt the same to me. I remembered how to get around the city, where all of my favorite places were, my favorite gardens and quiet corners of London that few people frequented. That sense of calm, peace, and relaxation returned to my frazzled and exhausted mind, and I felt like I could breathe deeply again, in a way I hadn’t been able to since I had left four years prior. I remember, back when I was on my study abroad trip, my friends and I returned to London after a weekend trip to Paris, our train arriving at St. Pancras late at night, and I remember feeling so happy to be “home”. It felt like coming home. London felt like my home.

I don’t know why London’s always felt comfortable to me, like a place where I just felt calm, at ease, and at peace; a place where I didn’t feel consumed by the suffocating air of discontent that usually haunts me on most days. When I’m there, all the noise in my head gets sort of quiet, and I feel a sense of tranquility. Is that what home is? Being comfortable and finally at ease with your surroundings? I have no idea, but for me, that may be the best definition of home that I’ve been able to come up with. Maybe, that’s why London is the closest to home I’ve ever been. Maybe, that’s why I still feel so connected to London, like its part of my history and identity, because it plays that role of “home” that’s been missing from my identity, and how I see myself. I’m currently in the process of attempting to get into graduate school abroad, in Ireland or the UK, to obtain my Master of Arts degree in Creative Writing, and the school that’s at the top of my list is in London. Maybe this need to have a complete and clear sense of home, and identity, is why I’m always drawn back to London, even when it may not make the most financial sense to go to school there. My need to find home may be greater than the practical realities of living and working in that city.

Home, and how it’s such a real part of one’s identity, is a tricky concept, and maybe there isn’t a real definition of what home truly is. Maybe it’s an ever changing concept that means something different to everyone. Maybe my drive to be in London is based my obsession with trying to recapture some feeling of comfort, tranquility, and home. Maybe home isn’t where you’re from. Maybe home is elusive, and doesn’t truly exist. Maybe home is wherever your mind finds itself drifting on a busy day when you need calm. Maybe home is wherever your heart is. Maybe home is wherever your soul can find peace. Maybe home is with your family, or in your lovers’ arms, or on the streets of London. Maybe, life is a journey to find your home, wherever that may be.

Kelsey H.

City of Light

Paris rings
And Paris sings
A song for everyone who loves
Loves someone
Loves art
Loves life
Paris burns and lives
A beating heart on the map
Alive in every season
Morning
Noon
And
Night
Lights of the city
They sparkle in the twilight
Together we walked
Holding breath
Holding hands
My red lipstick
Your week old beard
Tangled in our cotton sheets
We bought at a market
In that arrondissement
We loved
Our bodies moved together
In perfect rhythm
With how Paris danced
At midnight when the lights go down
Yet everything is lit
By cigarettes
And my lips were stained
With red wine from dinner
I may have painted your skin
In special places
Sorry love
I know you love it
Crimson colored lips
Red wine tongue
The morning sun
Broke our heavy sleep
But you didn’t mind
I put the kettle on
You covered your hands in paint
As you worked the blank canvas
Like my body
You liked to run your colorful
Fingertips
Along my blushing skin
I said I’d write where Hemingway did
Along the Left Bank
Paris breathes
In
And
Out
It walks and talks
To those who love
And can hear it
Listen closely
For the whispers
Of a city
Built on the beating hearts
Of lovers
From the beginning
Till the end of time
Your heart will beat in sync
With the city of light
If you let in
To live inside you
Day
And
Night.

Original Work: KH 10/17/14

Fairy Tale

There we were
Standing at the edge
Of once upon a time
Basking in the glow
Of happily ever after
In the days before
The storms rolled in
And the world ended
In a crash of thunder
And a crack of lightning
There we were
Walking the pages
Of a fairy tale
Not knowing
How quickly
The book would be closed
On us.
Such is life,
Such is life,
You only live once
So make it right.

Original Work: KH 10/17/14

Lost

Every time I think I know what I want, my mind tries to tell me I’m wrong, that I want something else…I need to quiet all these voices that try to make me doubt myself. Every time I think I know where I want to be, to live, I doubt myself, and change my mind. I seem to be unable to decide the course of my life. Part of me wants to just try and live a relaxed west coast life, where I stop worrying about everything. But then there’s the part of my mind that keeps pushing me to Europe and grad school and adventure…I just don’t know. Maybe neither of these things will happen. Maybe I will end up living in New England near the ocean and a lighthouse and be a writer there. Maybe I’ll move to Los Angeles and eat organic food, do yoga on the beach at sunrise, and have a high powered career. Maybe I’ll go to grad school, and then move to Paris and work in a café, and become an ex-pat writer like Hemingway and Fitzgerald. Maybe I’ll move to Nashville and meet a musician and have some babies. Maybe I’ll move to a small fishing village in Ireland and fall in love with a local man. Maybe I’ll move to Seattle and find a life and career there. Maybe I’ll move to London, and find my heart, wherever I left it, and start all over again. I have no clue. All I know is, I want to live a life I’m proud of, that I am happy with, that brings me joy, and peace.

Days like this, I picture myself back on that cliff in Ireland, staring at the sea, or in Hyde Park on a sunny autumn day, or at a café in Paris on a quiet Sunday morning. I never know where I want to be. Maybe my heart will never be satisfied in one place. Maybe I’ll have to find someone to give my heart to, and that’s where I’ll finally find home.

Chapter 1: Dublin on a Monday Morning

She woke up in a haze of last night’s perfume, her black lace bra, and very strong whiskey breath, that she could feel pouring from her mouth, and seeping out of her pores. She was sweating Jameson, and she only had herself to blame. She was there, in that ancient city, where she had wanted to be, and as she lay on her back, on that nasty bed, in that nasty hotel, looking at the old, cracked ceiling, she began to wonder why she’d chosen to go to Dublin at all. She’d been on a three day bender, to be honest, which began on Friday evening, and wrapped up last night, Sunday, she thinks? She picked up her phone from the bedside table, and indeed confirmed that today was Monday, therefore she had been drunk for three full days and nights; well, three and a half if you included this morning. She could say she felt ashamed, or bad about her decisions, but she’d be lying; quite frankly, she loved this version of herself, and she was excited to finally feel the freedom of being whomever she chose to be. And this past weekend, she’d chosen to be a drunk free spirit, and she embraced that new journey. She slowly lifted herself off the bed, and moved toward the bathroom, for a shower she desperately needed.

After she had cleaned up, Isla sat on the shabby bed in her hotel room, wrapped in a starched, white towel, and opened her leather journal, and decided it was time to starting writing some things down. She wasn’t even sure anymore why she was in Ireland, and she thought about that fact daily. She had decided to quit her job about 6 months ago and take her savings and tour Europe, as many of her friends had done. She realized it was kind of stupid and reckless to do that, making such an irrational choice, but it felt like something she truly needed to do, and she hated her job anyway, like everyone else, let’s be honest. The problem was, Isla felt like a living, breathing cliché; quitting her job and going to Europe? Truly, she was a mess like pretty much everyone else in her generation, and she knew it, and she figured the fact that she could acknowledge this was a real accomplishment. But, she thought, if not now, then when? She was 26, unmarried, no children, and wanted to make a career change anyway, so why not start now? So, she just decided to. Just like that. Gave her two weeks, packed up one duffel bag, and bought a one way ticket to Italy. That’s where this all started. That’s where all this madness kicked off, all the people, all the men, all the music, everything. She had plans to write while she was abroad, gain some life experience so she had more to write about, honestly. She just had been so focused on her career and education for so long, that everything else just seemed like it had been put on the back burner, and she needed to change that; she needed to feel alive for a minute. Just a minute, that ended up stretching into six months, and then who knows from there, truly. She just didn’t want to go back; she really couldn’t. That life she left wasn’t going to be waiting for her anyway, so why bother returning to it? Might as well leave it there, and continue on with this one now, a new, fresh path to make her own. She began to think back on some places she’d been, and wasn’t even sure where to start, in this journal, so she figured, might as well start from the beginning, when she landed in Italy six months ago. She picked up her pen, and wrote Rome at the top of the first page, and began to collect her thoughts, her memories, and her sanity…

Choking Stars

As the sun sets,
Oh and darker the night does get
Everything turns pitch black
That’s when I feel closest to you
When I’m suffocating in darkness
That’s when I remember us
When I can barely see the stars
The clouds are choking their light
Out of their heavenly bodies
And the moon has taken leave
No silver light to paint this dead earth
Blanketed in empty space
I think of you
As everything around me quiets
Except the wind whistling through the trees
Leaves rattling in the fall breeze
I think of you when the clock chimes 12
And every hour after
Until finally the sky begins to turn a lighter shade of grey
And the sun begins to take its first breath of day
Before then
When I am wrapped in universal darkness
Stretching into eternity
Yours is the face that I see
Staring right back at me.

Original Work: KH 10/14/14