Taking a Break Behind the Building of My Photo Ops
It’s cold, he shivers, struggling to find warmth in the February air.
Huddled in the corner he looks over his shoulder,
eyes darting around the leaf covered patio.
He knows better, he has an image to maintain
but the weight of performance leaves him numb,
and this is his only escape.
He digs into his pocket and grabs his pack, about half are left.
His friends don’t know, they think he quit,
but it’s the only thing that makes him him.
He tabs the tobacco on his hand, lights, and hits,
letting the smoke fill his lungs.
He exhales, eyes closed,
meditating on the idea of a well-deserved nap.
When he comes down, he inhales again,
chasing after the feeling that is long lost.
It’s passed and the ashes are shaken away,
leaving him unsatisfied.
Gripping, clinging, lips pressed against the filter again,
he inhales until the colors of his mind change from black to blue,
and the waves subside and the chatter quits.
Trapped, forced into the most perfect moment.
“I need to stop this.” He exhales, shaking the ash from his bud.
“Clint, they’re done.” The tech hand shouts, from behind the cover of the cracked door.
“Okay.” Rushed, he kills the light, tucking it back into his pocket. Thirty minutes until show time, six hours until the flight lands, one-hundred and sixty-one hours of filming, endless weekends of tours, forty-three months left on the contract. “I’m finished,” he whispers, but there is no one around to hear him.
Pet Your Cat Like Today is Their Last Day
A cat died today, and it was not her death that was profound to me, but the fact that I had petted her only a few hours before. Just this morning I was walking by and saying hi, checking to see if she pooped out of the litter box. I fretted, and problem solved and decided a plan. I placed it into action and reset and moved on. I wonder though if she knew. If she knew that today was her last day what would she do? What would you do? What would I do? I wondered if I could go back in time with the knowledge that I know now would I try to stop them from taking her. Would I have pet her more, told her I loved her? There was no last meal, no goodbye, just a message from my boss and she was gone. Never to be heard, purred, cuddled again. So young. I wonder if her owners knew perhaps maybe they’d let her stay or perhaps there was nothing stopping this fate and today was her day. Her last day on Earth and I wonder if there was anything I could have done to make it better.
There are women with children, young people and old, people in suits, and people in uniforms all gathered in this place. Families of four, families of ten, there are so many people here I can’t even count. On both sides they’re gathered, standing, looking over the edge. It’s so deep and black. It’s not like a trench in the ocean or a canyon in the desert. It’s fate, its change, the destruction of your comfort zone. It’s dark and intimidating, stretching for miles. It divides A and B, but neither are the goals, because the only way forward is down and down is scary. Down is unknown, uncertain, and unpredictable. Down is the valley of darkness where hope is tested. Down is every fear, every tear, every setback, but down is ten times, no twenty times better than here. It’s a one in a million shot dead in the dark for every dream, hope, and aspiration you want. Down is both success and failure, where a leap could put you farther or sink you deeper.
But she just jumped.
That single mother with her children, three strapped to her back. She jumped with no guarantee of her future. Then a child all alone, he jumped too, arms open into the blackness, followed by six suited dudes.
What the heck? How can they be so sure? How can they know what they know when there is so much unknown? Then I realized my legs were moving, carrying me to the edge, reluctantly to show me in the foggy darkness of my fear a dim orange light, like a call box on the street. There’s a dim orange light. I squint and what do my eyes see? At the bottom, there’s a bridge to not A or B and it feels so much better. It feels like air from the air conditioner, refreshing and cool like the springs of my childhood. This feeling is hope, tiny but thriving. It is the lighthouse or siren, fifty/fifty, but it’s ten times, no twenty times better than here. Better than the dead arid desert, the hopelessness in your life, the stagnation of your progress, and depression of your future. Raw in the mines is the hope of something better. Deep on the floor of every fear you’ve ever dreamt of. Now you have a choice. Jump or stand still, because they aren’t going to push you, only you can make the commitment, only you can make the decision.
Let me tell you about my cat,
My dearest friend, my Emily.
I adore her, with big her green eyes and striped fur.
I love how she kneads and I love how she purrs,
But tragedy follows where ever she goes.
The first guy, it was tragic what happened to him,
He died in a fire alone in his home. The next in an accident on Ackles & Main
And the last in a park on a sunny day and those are a few that I can recall.
I know this because she tells me it all,
With a warning every day she whispers:
Treat her right and you’ll live many days,
Treat her wrong and you’ll hear from me.
In her eyes I hear this
And every time I re-confirm,
No harm will come to my Emily,
As long as my dearest is here with me.
On occasion though, a little after three, she shows with a story to tell to me.
It’s our secret, our fun, her morbid tales of what could come.
This time it’s owner one, about the man who burned alone.
He was awful, a brute, a slimy fiend,
And a gift for the blonde he needed you see.
You see this blonde, she loved tabby cats,
And the man knew this and where to stop.
So my dearest was placed in the care of the man,
With hopes she’d never leave again.
It was a treat, the blonde I mean,
She pet her and pampered her like a queen,
And loved her more than anything.
She’d have her as hers, but her mom you see,
Was very allergic to the tiny thing.
So Emily stayed alone with the man,
Unloved and mistreated,
Waiting for the girl to return again.
That’s when from the shelves she appeared,
Seething and brooding at the sights she’d seen.
He has to go, this I know,
In a manner that fits his blown ego.
So a plan was struck,
Like the match she lit,
And back at the shelter Emily found herself again.
I laughed, a bit nervous, at her might,
But knew I was safe for now this night.
The mood changed, Emily settled.
She stared at me, her eyes tranquil.
“Donald” she whispered “I like you a lot, so I’ll tell you how this all came about.
I was sick,
Confined to bed,
When my father,
A good man,
Got me a pet.
I loved her,
My dearest friend,
But my day nurse,
She loathed her,
And cursed her pelt.
I got worse,
One Fall night,
My time was near,
With my last breath,
To protect her.
And that I did,
With this curse:
Treat her right and you’ll live many days,
Treat her wrong and you’ll hear from me.”
A chilling laugh, crawled beneath my skin,
As a ghostly wind blew through my things.
I smiled and looked at my Emily,
The promise you made,
Is the promise I will keep.