The Lives I Never Lived (aka Ophelia, Drowned aka A Preoccupation With Tragedy)

The Lives I Never Lived (aka Ophelia, Drowned aka A Preoccupation With Tragedy)

~ Adelia Hoff

 

I mean this:

When you see me again, it will be in the desert through the low-res camera of a errant traveler, hunched over the remains of an unidentifiable piece of roadkill, looking like a ghost. I will be tranquilized by a Park Ranger who mistakes me for a too-brave cougar and when they check my dental records they will find a dead man’s.

 

__

You were like something out of a fever dream-

An angel in sapphire and silver

That night, as you walked towards me, arm outstretched

I remember wanting nothing more

Then to let you utterly consume my immortal soul

 

__

Life-drunk on a siren’s song,

Scrabbling at sun-baked soil

The sky is falling and the numbers, six-seven-eight meters, count up to go down.

Distortion of mirage and heat of sun bring revelation of acceptance, promise of knowledge,

Look around.

What would you save?

What could you save?

 

__

Some nights I cannot sleep.

One time I heard a screaming outside. It could have been a coyote.

Every so often I remember the parable of the scorpion and the frog, and I wonder: am I the scorpion? I am not naturally high strung, but I am self serving and strong willed. Do I hurt people with that I cannot control? Do I really care if I do?

The coyote, if it was that, yelled twice during the night.

There is a gentleness that seizes you at dawn. The uncanny can be a comfort, strange as it may sound. That which has not been explained yet could be anything.

Does the coyote care who it hurts?

Was it ever really a coyote, or just a phantom of the self?

Do I really care?

 

 

__

The elk bellows,

“Oh king, oh captain, oh lover of mine, where are you?”

The forest whispers back,

“They are not here. Search as you will, but only echoes will come to you.”

 

__

The Reflection

 

I found you pale and afraid –

selenic and blind.

Should I have left you there?

I cannot say.

I am a selfish creature.

Then again,

so were you.

 

__

Sometimes it feels like driving for too long and listing to the same song on repeat for hours and when you finally get out you have to remind yourself how to be a human again

And sometimes it feels like getting pulled under by a wave with the immediate reconciliation that if you must go at least your body will be claimed by the ocean and that’s okay because you didn’t really care for the thing anyways

And sometimes it’s on the precipice of desert rain when you smell dust and creosote and the animals are quiet because the water here is no lifegiver

And sometimes it’s mania and the realization that there is no higher power or meaning and that means nothing can stop you from becoming something cosmic and holy and irreverently profane and powerful but you can’t bring yourself to carve away the undue flesh binding you to this condemnation

But most of the time it is simply the knowledge that something isn’t right and no one else can tell but you can and it could and would drive you mad if you payed it any more heed but that’s okay because you’ve gotten used to ignoring things and are pretty good at it at this point

So the numbness continues and the panic continues and you scream let me out let me out please please please I don’t belong here I’m not meant for this I can’t go on like this anymore but you have to keep going because the rest of the world won’t stop just because it’s too much and you can’t handle it

And maybe just maybe it’s not you that’s the problem

Personhood isn’t for everyone

 

__

I do not love you.

Yes, I care-

But love?

 

Never.

 

I adore the kitten, with its triangle tail and toddling steps.

I admire the wind, strong and unyielding.

I devote myself to knowledge, the true currency of power.

 

But I do not love.

 

 

__

This world is cruel

and unforgiving

to all soft things

So is it really so surprising

that being good

and gentle

and kind

Is inevitable replaced with jagged edges

(protect me, the thing inside cries)

(please, please don’t let me get hurt again)

(i might just break this time)

 

__

[you’re floating somewhere below the suface of the ocean. there’s nothing around you in any direction, and you’re not entirely sure how you got here.]

[you’re out camping in the mountains. night is coming. it’s probably the most content you’ve been in a while.]

[there’s a low fog over the city as you look off a tenth story balcony. you can feel a storm brewing in the distance, but for now you can’t tear away from the feeling of being above it all.]

[you’ve been traveling for days now. whose turn was it to drive? haven’t you seen this road before?]

[there’s whispering in your head. rationally, this should be a cause for alarm. you’ve come to the realization that you’d only be alarmed if it stopped.]

 

darkness outside

About the Author:

Adelia Hoff is a student studying the freshly dead. When asked about her personal life her only comment was, “I’m just visiting,” whatever that means.

 

From Juliette:

Thank you so much Adelia for sharing your words. It is an honor. Truly it is. You know I’m going to be asking for more in the future.

xoxo

~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman

 

Dark Waters

Dark waters

Behind glass

Dark shapes

Covered in spines

And slime

As cold as death

No pretty tropical pets

Are these creatures

From my nightmares

They tap the glass

Until it breaks

And wakes

Me from my

Cold blooded nightmare.

 

~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman

Call and Response

At 4:00 a.m. in the pre-dawn morning

the owls sing their songs

like a call and response in their oak forest cathedral.

A tiny bat speeds across the sky in front of

my bedroom window.

The cat sits on the window sill

watching beside me.

In a few hours

I’ll be at the museum,

sort of my own cathedral.

Yet, the woods are also mine.

A place of others.

The creatures of the night.

Those who do not create beauty,

but are beauty.

 

~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman

 

Short Story Sunday: A Man Should Have What He Wants

A Man Should Have What He Wants

A house full of books and the ghosts of what could have been.

What can be. Oliver Thomas thought as he sat on the edge of the bed.

He never let himself get close to those he visited over the years. It was easy to become detached just as one could be detached to an apple or a head of lettuce.

She slept quietly. On the nightstand were books, earrings, a clock set for 5:00 a.m., and her glasses. Her husband was snoring and slept in another room. Her children were tucked into their dreams. Oliver made sure of that. They’d all be asleep.

Oliver Thomas kept coming back to her. She was different, by her own accord. Chloe had always been different – the type who saw the world in visions and possibilities. Someone who overcame obstacles. If she grew to be old she’d be a sweet eccentric with her window boxes full of exotic flowers and vast knowledge of the obscure and unusual.

She had a hard time making friends due to her shyness and reluctance to follow up. Her fear of rejection paralyzed her in some areas of her life. Most of life was paralyzing but she seemed to thrive and succeed.

Yet, the woman could light up a room with her wit and charm. She was a success despite her low opinion of herself.

But he’d fallen in love with her in a strange way that someone falls in love with an idea of perfection and the ideal person to share life’s adventures with.

Her teenage kids still hung all over her like toddlers, leaning on her even now. They were taller than she was, dressed in their black band shirts with trendy long hair and black painted nails. Oliver had seen Chloe once, her son with his lanky arm around her shoulder, her daughter with an arm around her waist. How many women, he wondered, envied her for the closeness she had with her children.

If it wasn’t for her children she might have checked out and left the world a long time ago. Since childhood Chloe had been uncomfortable with life and the tremendous effort it took for her to live with herself and her failures.

Oliver saw that Chloe had failed to see her success, except with her children. He didn’t want to think of her marriage with Craig. It worked better than most. In fact, for the most part, her marriage to Craig was an uncommon success.

Craig, the handsome and successful husband, was the love of her life. Even in her dreams Chloe couldn’t cheat on Craig. They’d built a life together. For her that was enough. More than enough she told herself.

But Oliver knew it wasn’t enough. Chloe found her life in others but kept her secret soul and passions locked up, bound in shadows and secrets.

At one time, Oliver and Chloe had been lovers. The memory of her warm skin, her lips on his own, her hands in his hair and her passion haunted him. He’d come and gone from her life assuming she’d always be there.

Now he was only with her in the dream world of the night. She’d remember him in another time and place in long lost memories of centuries past. She’d think she’d had a life in another time with him, a past life of possibilities and promise and passion.

An unlikely candidate this middle aged working mom, too tired and busy to think of herself except when she let her imagination fly as she commuted to school and work in her car each morning, or when she dozed off at night in her own secret places.

The passions were still in her, as it had been when she was young. How could that be? He kissed her then buried his face into her neck and when he’d had enough of her he silently left her with dreams of passion and desire.

The following evening Oliver looked up from his desk and there she was, standing in the doorway. Black dress, apple green sweater, black heels. The blue Coach bag, a 50th birthday present from her husband was slung over her shoulder. She looked she owned the world, but she still didn’t think she was beautiful.

How did she find me here? I never told her where I live?

“Chloe.” He said her name as if in a dream.

“Don’t Chloe me Oliver. I want you to leave me alone.”

He stood and approached her with his hands held out. “It was always the wrong time or place for us.”

She stepped back ignoring his open arms. “Don’t even start with me Oliver. It would have never worked. You always said I was too independent. Then you turned around and called me needy.”

“I never said any of those things.” He was shocked by her accusations.

“You didn’t have to say it. You made it obvious you were thinking it.”

He didn’t respond. This wasn’t the time for the witty dialog they’d shared in the past, the long talks through the night or the sweet lover’s words.

“Chloe, you can’t stand there before me and say that with a straight face.”

She looked at the floor then looked up straight into his eyes. “You never told me you loved me.”

“I didn’t have to.”

“Bull shit. You just expected me to hang around and wait for you to come in and out of my life. It got old Oliver. But it doesn’t matter. I’m married to a man who loves me the way I am. I’m successful, happy and I love my life.”

“I doubt if Craig realizes what a fortunate man he is.”

“He knows.”

“Did you ever tell him about me?” Oliver took a step forward. Chloe folded her arms as if to shut him out.

“I haven’t told anyone about you. They’d all think I was nuts. Just like my Aunt Margaret when she talked about her Vampire.”

“You still love me Chloe.” Oliver said those words quietly with such passion that almost no woman would be able to resist. No woman except Chloe.

She turned and left, slamming the door behind her.

Oliver watched from the window as she got in her car and drove away. The slightest hint of regret surged through his dark thoughts. He’d never meet another who captured his heart and his passions like she had. He’d never meet anyone who made him laugh or feel the joy of being like Chloe had.

Oliver heard the steps behind him but didn’t turn around. A warm hand caressed his shoulder.

“Is she gone?” The speaker was obviously annoyed.

“Yes.”

“Does she have any idea I’m here?”

“No.”

Craig looked out the window. “Good. Where do we go from here?”

“Are you absolutely sure you want to do this?”

“My son is an Emo freak who acts in plays and writes poetry for fun. My daughter won’t talk to anyone unless it’s a text. My wife is never going to lose the baby fat or stop telling stupid jokes or snoring or complaining how hard she works. This wasn’t what I signed up for.”

“I understand.”

“Just for once I want what I want. I don’t want to go home to a woman who is tired all the time and can’t even comprehend my needs.”

“What about your children? You must care about them on some level.”

“They’ll be fine without me. Chloe will have two million dollars in life insurance to get the kids through college. There’s another 10 million in assets she can sell off if she has to. She’ll make sure her children have wonderful memories of me.”

“The news of your death will break her heart.”

Craig scowled at Oliver. “Chloe is already so miserable she won’t even notice. She’ll be happy to be the unfortunate widow and bask in the glow of her own sorrow. I’m doing her a favor by dying rather than divorcing her.”

“And your girlfriends?” Asked Oliver.

“They’re whores who think they can get ahead by sleeping with the CEO. They’ll both get their pink slips next week. So now what?”

Oliver went back around to his desk and sat in the antique leather chair. “Your car will be found in the river and it will be assumed your body was washed away with the currents. Your wallet and a few clothing items will be found washed up on a beach. It will be assumed that you died.”

“So when do I change?”

“Change?”

“When do I become like you? A Vampire.” Craig asked this impatiently almost sounding like a spoilt teen.

Oliver took a deep breath and answered him. “Tonight if you want, but I’d rather wait until tomorrow.”

Craig leaned on the desk close to the Vampire. “I want this Oliver. I want my freedom.”

“You’ll get what you want Craig.”

“Oliver, I’m telling you…”

Craig started to speak but Oliver held up his hand. “We’ll take my jet to Rome in the morning. By the time we get there you’ll be a different man. The old Craig will be gone forever. In the meantime, you need to see your children one last time.”

Chloe sat in the high school auditorium waiting for the play to start. A Midsummer’s Night Dream. Her son played Lysander.

Craig had called earlier to tell her he was working late. He’d been sorry to miss the play but said he’d see it on closing night next weekend. She thought she was going to throw up. She pulled out her phone and listened to the message she’d received right after she’d seen Oliver.

A sing song girlish voice said “Chloe this is Trinity, Craig’s assistant. I wanted to let you know that I’ve been sleeping with your husband for about two years. He asked me to do all those crazy nasty fetish things you wouldn’t do and I would do anything for him. I really really loved him and would have done anything at all for him but he dumped me for Tara Hall. She’s like the VP of Marketing. They’ve been doing it since October so he was two timing on me too. Stupid puke. So when he says he is gone on business he’s really with her. I just thought you’d want to know because you seem like a nice lady.”

It was the fifth time she’d listened to it. Each time she’d hoped she’d heard it wrong but that wasn’t the case.

A text came in from Craig saying he had a change of plans and was on his way.

Concentrate. Don’t think about him. It isn’t true. He’ll be here any minute. Don’t cry.

The house lights went down and the play started.

Oliver Thomas stood on the side of the river and watched the emergency crews on the opposite shore drag out a sliver convertible, the headless body of the driver still strapped in the seat. Some unfortunate member of the police department would find sightless eyes attached to a severed head staring up at him from the floor of the passenger seat.

Witnesses said the car had suddenly gone out of control, like the driver was trying to avoid hitting something. The convertible rolled and went into the water. It had been too dark to get any useful details.

Craig wanted to be free of his wife and children. A man should have what he wants after all.

Now Oliver would do it right. He’d wait a few months, he had time and he’d be there for Chloe and her children, like he should have been all along.

 

~ End

 

~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman

(first posted April 2013)

And don’t forget Morning at the Vineyard – a collection of tangled tales is FREE on Amazon.com through Tuesday. Click here for details.

Standing on the Edge of the Earth

I close my eyes and I can hear the waves hitting the beach…

I often write about the beach, but yesterday I was there. My daughter Clara and I escaped for a few days and drove three hours to Santa Cruz. We went down the old River Road, past the home of Tellias and Eleora (the ancient Vampires), down through the old Chinese town of Lock.

We went over draw bridges and past sloughs, and vineyards, through small towns like Lock and Walnut Grove that seem to still have a foot in the 19th Century, then through the rolling green hills surrounding the Silicone Valley, and on to the coast.

It was a long drive, and we talked the entire way.

While I drove, Clara looked up information on her phone. We discussed Alexander Hamilton and his interesting life. We discovered that he has a son who died in Sacramento. I never knew that. We might go look for the grave tomorrow.

We talked about music, we talked about the election, we talked about the history of the areas we drove through. We talked about college.

The first thing we did when we arrived in Santa Cruz was go to UC Santa Cruz. The campus is spectacularly set on a hill overlooking the ocean and rolling hills. The buildings are set among the redwoods, almost more like a National Park than a university. Yes, she would like to go there. They have a stellar biological science program with human biology and biochemistry studies my child is interested in pursuing.

I needed to get away for a few days. I still need to get away and clear my mind. Our children are often surprised that parents still have their hopes and dreams, both for their children and aside from their children. As I drove along and shared thoughts with my daughter, my mind split off to my own thoughts of people I used to know, dreams I used to have, lost love, lost opportunities, and then back to the present. In my one hundred and fifty six years I’ve been through so many worm holes, forest paths, warehouses full of nightmares and cobwebs. I’ve felt the sand between my toes and the waves on my legs, warm kisses on my neck, and cool sweeter kisses on my lips. I’ve read, and traveled, explored, discovered and created. There have been countless books, and discussions into the wee hours of the mornings. I’ve walked so many paths, driven so many roads, and waited in so many airports and train stations.

And now, I’m not sure where I’m going. It all seems to have stopped.

The calico cat is sitting in the window next to me, watching the rain.

I can hear the math tutor with her lovely accent talking about when she grew up in India, a Muslim girl going to a Catholic school, learning math and science. Yes, the politicians who preach on TV to all who will hear, are so far removed from real life and the wonderful people who populate real life. They give me a headache and a heart ache.

My children send me pee your pants funny political memes night and day. At least I have my sense of humor to laugh everything they show me. You have to be able to share all of the insanity with your teens.

On Wednesday morning we sat outside as the storm came in having coffee and laughing about how much sand we had in our hair, blown from the beach as we walked by. Again we talked, about Tolkien and C.S. Lewis, and Lord of the Rings. I don’t like the movies and told the child that she must read the books. My copies are almost worn out. The stories aren’t of battles and war – but of friendship and finding one’s way, and one’s true self. I told her to read it just to see how much her mother is like Pippin.

We talked about ideas and war. We spoke of World War One. It was the first modern war and a horrible war for those who returned, just as it is horrible for the men and women who are returning from war now. Clara told me about learning about Eugene V. Debs, a socialist who ran for office in the first decades of the 20th Century. He was imprisoned for speaking his mind, then released. Debs was forgotten, and now people are starting to remember. We spoke of women who fought for the right to vote and be considered equal and not property. I told her of times when women were not allowed to go to college or have certain jobs. I told her of brilliant women who were held in contempt and subjected to open hostility for using their God given brains. We both still find it surprising that so many people have been denied rights over the years, or held in contempt because of their religion or the color of their skin. These are smart people – good people.

We talked about surfing and seashells. We talked about music and coffee and my mind kept going to gray and fuzzy places. We watched birds and otters, and dogs playing on the beach.

We talked. Actually, I mostly let Clara talk and I listened. We laughed a lot. We found horrible songs on the radio and I sang along.

Clara said the kids in her math class all think she is smarter than she is. At the same time she thinks the kids in her AP classes thinks she is stupid. She feels trapped in between, yet she has no doubts about college.

She shouldn’t have any doubts and I refuse to plant any into her brain. I’ve told her to ignore anyone who does.

I haven’t slept since we returned, sitting alone in the night, listening to the storm.

History if full of negativity. That is why we need to keep it out of the minds of our teens and young adults. For once, lets creative a world that is positive and full of wonder. I want them to have a world where all things are possible. I want them to have a world where they always find joy in discovery and are challenged in good ways.

My friend Adam once said, “I could spend my time thinking about howling at the moon, or I could spend my time understanding the moon, then it isn’t so scary.” The wisdom of a Werewolf.

I love the energy of youth and the determination of those who dream. Let us make sure we never do anything to try to stop that.

May all of your adventures be good ones. May you learn something from all of your conversations with your kids.

~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman

 

Point Plesant

 

 

A Walk in the Woods

Lightly we tread in the woods

Along a muddy path

Fog blanketing the lake

I hold my skirt

To keep the hem dry

You take my arm

Your hand is warm.

 

So I pull you close

Whisper some lies in your ear

I see mistletoe

You believe me

And then

I do what all good Vampire girls do

And kiss you

 

Well, with a bite too.

So I’ll be warm

And happy despite the mud

While you

Scream out in the woods

Only to be silenced again

By a final kiss…

 

~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman

vm night woods blue

 

Note: Short Story Sunday will be posted later today. Have fun.