Friday, August 7, 2009

These days I miss home so much it's a physical feeling.
It settles heavy against my back, making my skin crawl.
Thick with nostalgia and depression, it masks me from myself.
I spent last night snapping a rubber band against my wrist,
sending ripples of feeling down, down, down to the real me.

I miss you so much it's making me sick.
My stomach knots and twists, empty or full.
My head buzzes all day and all night.
I can barely get out of bed before 1 PM,
knowing I won't see you.

The silliest part is all the things I associate with you.
I can't move without running into a memory who's protagonist is missing from my life.
Someone coughs down the hall, and for a moment I think it's you.
My ears blend voices into yours, and my heart speeds up with hope and panic,
until I realize you're not here, and even if you were,
even if I emerged from the back room to find you sitting at the kitchen table,
I know you would still be missing.

There is no conclusion for this one;
I will be repetitive until you are here again.
I will be nostalgic until the voice passing through your mouth is your own.
I will hope until the weight of it crushes us all.
You will always have a home in me;
I'll see that promise stand the test of time and lonely nights.

You will always be waited for and welcome,
and you have no need to worry.

Copyright Abby Almon 2009

Thursday, July 30, 2009

It is 5:00 AM on a Thursday morning in late July.
I am typing this from the toilet seat, trying my damnedest to ignore that fact.
Even though I grew up with a brother who is all too ready to share things like this,
and I really don't care if I can hear other people doing it-
which I can, with the walls in this house-
because it's natural,
I'd still like to pretend the toilet is just a white, shiny novelty to me.

I woke up in the dark, with the fan off, and the TV playing a brightly colored infomercial.
What I first feel is my stomach burning, and I clamber out of bed to unplug the laptop cord
and plug in the lamp.
It's too complicated though, and I realize I can turn the overhead light on with a flick of the switch.
Then I grab the laptop and dash down the hall and into the bathroom.

I can see some people grabbing the laptop in a planned way, with business or entertainment to occupy their time in the commode.
Mostly, I grabbed the laptop anxiously.
I set it on the counter and feel a wave of anxiety sweep over me as my bowels do rather unmentionable things-
at least in polite company.
The wave breaks over my skin in a rush of heat and sweat.
It settles in my head, setting into cartwheels perfectly stationary things.

After a few minutes, I'm leaving again, too stressed to stay in a rather nice bathroom.
I go back to my bed, take two Imodium, and look around on the laptop.
Not ten minutes later, I'm taking another Imodium and a Xanax, a cup of water, and the laptop with me into the bathroom.
This time it feels a little more planned.
Sitting down, I chug water and the pills.
Yet again, instead of occupying myself with the laptop,
it sits on the sinks edge while I play around with a string inside my pyjama pants.
I admonish myself for eating ice cream last night, and thank whatever divine being that it's not worse.

This is the part I wouldn't tell a therapist if they asked.
The part where I get panic attacks in the bathroom, let alone actually facing the world.
But at five in the morning, my anxiety is what I'm afraid of.
It feels like a wild beast that might tear me apart if I'm not careful.
And I try, but it's temperamental, and foreign to me,
so it goes off sometimes without warning,
and I am stuck along for the ride, just a little bit terrified,
aware this thing is inside of me and that I am it's home.
If you can't escape yourself, you certainly can't escape whats inside you, either.

I leave the bathroom to the gurgling sounds of my stomach,
hoping I won't be making a third trip to the bathroom tonight.
I can only handle one epiphany a day, so another trip would really be a waste of my time.
I hope my colon gets the message.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

It's an awful, ever present sense of despair.
It manifests in the throat and the chest,
feels like drowning.
Lends itself to shuddering breath,
like the wind has just been knocked out of you.
Keeps eyes open late into the night,
minds endlessly reeling with regrets and apologies
and self-deluding, self-sustaining hopes.
And in the one moment when it's all taken as it as,
as a constant burden and {a hundred, thousand} flights of fancy,
the static settled in the temples increases;
jaws lock and eyes well,
and it is so honestly not a way of life to ever be wished on anyone.

© Copyright 2009 Abby Almon

Sunday, July 5, 2009

The Downfalls of Red Flash Drives

I started writing something the 26th. I was really excited about it, and I saved it on my flash drive. I opened it a couple days later on my cousin's lap top, and everything was fine. But, I tried opening it yesterday, twice on the computer, and once on the laptop, and it's gone. The first time I opened it on the computer, it came up as crazy symbol letters; then, I tried the laptop, and it came up blank. I went back to the computer, and opened it, and it shows as a row of squares. I'm a little bit devastated because I've no idea how to get it back, and I was kind of in love with what I had written. The first part had been based on a dream I had just woken up from, so I fear I won't be able to write it so nicely again. I am still hoping for someone to come up with a way for me to recover my writing. I just figured I'd make a post, as I feel bad about neglecting Blogger so. Cross your fingers for me.

Sunday, June 28, 2009

There's this window where I sleep,
and I open the blinds in the daytime to let a little sunshine in.
Lately, though, the light isn't as bright as it was,
and the room is grey in shadows,
reminding me of home and things she didn't like.

I am having a bad day.
It's too much to be gone for so long,
without visits or hope of going home.
It's too much to hold.

I took a nap to cure aching eyes,
trying to convince myself before I fell asleep
that I was home, in my bed,
laying on my side, delaying my life,
so that when I woke up,
I would be in my room, at my house, in Honey Creek.

Lately, I lose my head for nothing;
Go spinning dizzy, jumping out of my skin, at the littlest thing.
Drink tea and pace the room, cold
with phantom breezes turning to ice the heat settled at the back of my neck,
to try to settle myself inside again.

I just want to go home,
and I am helpless in getting there.
I don't want to do this much longer;
it makes me so tired.

© Copyright 2009 Abby Almon

Friday, June 26, 2009

This is one of those things that makes me hope everything will have a happy ending. Like after things get bad enough, and I'd like to say they are bad enough, that they'll get better and stay better. I hope. Anyway, check it out. A link to a poem and a picture.

Monday, June 22, 2009


I've just created a Flickr account. You should definitely go visit. It doesn't have a profile picture, same as here, because I haven't taken one I like yet. So far, it just has the same photos I've posted here. I'm planning on continuing to post photos here; I just may put the less 'artistic' ones up on Flickr as well. I'm excited about creating sites. That tells you how ridiculous I am. Anyway, shamelessly plugging my Flickr. Go look!

Saturday, June 20, 2009

I wish I was witty enough to put a line of something interesting/inspiring with each picture. Maybe sometime I will be. In the meantime, I could do lyrics; I don't know. Thoughts.

© Copyright 2008 Abby Almon

© Copyright 2008 Abby Almon

© Copyright 2008 Abby Almon

The Freelance Hellraiser

Yet again, I found a video on I like. It's the music video for a song called 'Want You to Know' by The Freelance Hellraiser. It's got this unique presentation I kind of love, and it actually makes me happy. Sadly, I still don't know how to show it here, as I can't seem to paste anything I copy onto Blogger. All I can do is try to compel you to go look it up. It makes me think of cool blue autumn afternoons and makes me want to spend time with friends; it's good for a smile.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Myspace 4

"Some of us are scared to death and some just don't believe in it."*
I am tired of feeling like this.
I am tired of spaces and structure and feeling at all.
I m trd f vwls and being what you want.
I want to be quiet for a while. I want to lose myself somewhere safe.
I want to go away to winter or ice or cold or anything beyond this stupidity, this repetition.
I know enough to know this won't last forever.
I know enough to know the good is better, is worth this bad.
I just don't know when this will leave and I can breathe without these feelings.
If you back off, I'd feel so much better.
If you'd let me alone, it would help.
I can't pull a decision from where I'm standing.
I can't do this, and I know I will regret it because I already am.
Don't guilt me over this.
I feel bad enough.
It takes too much to just sit up.
It takes too much to look at anything, to think, to breathe, to feel.
It takes too much right now.
Can't we put this on pause?
I don't know what to do.
I will regret anything I say.
I will regret any choice I make, or lack thereof.
I will feel bad if we stay or go.
The only thing to tip the scales is grades right now.
So wrong, so angry, so whatever.
Well whatever, never mind this bullshit.
I know enough to know things get better.
So don't worry just leave me alone.

© Copyright 2007 Abby Almon
*Lyrics by Straylight Run

© Copyright 2008 Abby Almon
© Copyright 2008 Abby Almon

© Copyright 2008 Abby Almon

Myspace 3

Your Favorite Weapon;
'Failure by Design,'
'Logan to Government Central,'
and 'Last Chance to Lose Your Keys'
make me think of where I used to be
and where I am.
It sucks
to be so conflicted,
to get so attached to people.
Because it's been years, right,
and I'm still lost in my head.
Maybe movies this weekend?
Sunday afternoon/night.
Call me, okay?
I don't bite.
There's these lyrics that go
'So you know that you're never on your own'*
that keep playing in my head like
'Don't you know that you're better on your own.'
Writing to waste time. Sometimes I still rattle off the words
I think keep you safe.
I think something got crossed along the way,
and I feel like I'm going over the same things again and again, forever.

© Copyright 2007 Abby Almon
*Lyrics by Hellogoodbye
Sometimes, I like to crawl around and take pictures. Most of them come from my front yard. They're not particularly breath-taking, but I like something about them anyway. Enjoy.
© Copyright 2008 Abby Almon
© Copyright 2008 Abby Almon
© Copyright 2008 Abby Almon

Myspace 2

We are not a generation.
If I said I wasn't a good person,
that would be conceited, right?
I'd be slip-dripping into old times that I don't need.
But my head is so heavy,
and I think I caught my own tongue.
There's too much silence that seems sudden.
I'm not articulate. Sometimes I can write,
but I sure as hell can't speak.
Where my money goes or when there's too many people around me.
When I'm sad, I can't say a thing. Even when people ask.
It's default and mandatory that I deny or distract.
Cut off my tongue; I've got buttons for eyes.
Wish I could read Howl,
but the closest I've got right now
is Mexico City Blues.
Which might be appropriate.
I spent eight sentences begging for things
I can't remember.
Tell me that's not bad.

© Copyright 2007 Abby Almon

Myspace 1

I used to write things with rhythm, formatted in columns, on my Myspace. Maybe they count as official writing. I feel sleazy about posting them because they're from a time I took a lot of things for granted, in a situation I would love to go back to. Regardless, I figure I ought to post them here to see if they're worth something. Will try to remember to title these posts 'Myspace' to keep it organized.

It's this house that brings me down
and freaks me out.
Makes me sick at everything.
Drills to temples;
I've got panic crawling up my spine.
I was fine half an hour ago.
It's the dark and the sick and the sad and the hurt
that I can't fix.
Not going anywhere.
Taking deep breaths, but I've got this cracked hurt under my ribcage.
My head is starting to spin.
This isn't right.
Bugs under my skin
crawling home, burrowing holes.
I don't want to be special.
I just want to get by.
Not up for stilted conversation,
so don't call.
See you tomorrow.

© Copyright 2008 Abby Almon

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

I found this video as a prompt on a Livejournal community. The dancers are Ben Susak and Pam Chu; the choreography is by Wade Robson. The song is Slow Dancing in a Burning Room by John Mayer.
This is one of those things that makes me feel too much to put into words; it's the combination of the dance and the closeness of the dancers with the music. It makes my heart ache and my eyes tear up. Not because I'm a lover of dance, though I have no problem with it. Why it makes me feel so brilliantly is inexplicable. I'm just rather in love with it, and I thought I'd share it with whoever comes by.
I tried valiantly to find a way to link it for the past half hour, but Blogger is thwarting my attempts. Look it up on You won't be disappointed.

Saturday, June 13, 2009

I love the way you wear
your indie love
like a well-worn jacket.
Like a favorite hat
that spends half it's time
hanging out of your back pocket.
Like an old plaid shirt
that's growing holes
and growing threadbare.
I love the infinite
declarations of your heart
that you make
with an easy brush off.
You say
"I live to make you love me,
And that is why I love you.

© Copyright 2009 Abby Almon
I don't actually believe in anyone.
And all my friends have gone away
to lives outside of computer screens.
It hurts more because I've got nothing besides my thoughts and this keyboard.
I spend my time
remembering home and friends and the feelings of last fall,
and spinning stories to myself about how great it would be if I was home again.
But I fear quite strongly
that if I go home
whatever hole I left in the group of my friends
has grown closed and tough,
like the skin where my snakebites used to be.
And I fear more that that is for the best.
That I am just a ball of pessimism and poison,
and it's better to have friends that don't flinch
every time the word 'love' is thrown around.

© Copyright 2009 Abby Almon

Prayer to Saint Dymphna

'Be resourceful.'
I'm using up my resources;
I'm using what I've got to get you back.

'Write what you know.'
I know very little these days.I
feel lost in an ocean of empty space
Without you.
I know that I can't find a point to it all
when you're gone.
I know I tear up,
and I have to struggle to keep
my face from crumbling when I think of you.
I know I miss you terribly,
I know if you got better,
I would be better for you.
I would go to church and doctor appointments with you.
I know if you said,"I think I'm sick. I'm scared."
I would fight tooth and nail to be with you and support you while you got better.
I know that all the formalities of life would be easier if you were around
to smile at me
to talk to.
I know that you are sick.
You have delusions.
I know this isn't your fault,
and I hope you know I would never blame you for it.
I know you don't think you're sick.
I know where you're coming from.
When I was depressed, I couldn't see it.
When you tried to talk to me about it,
I thought you were blaming me for it.
I was sick,
and I couldn't tell because it was twisted up inside my head.
But you were watching out for me,
and you could see it.
I should have listened because I know you'd never lie to me;
you'd never set out to hurt me.
I hope you know I'm not lying to you;
I would never hurt you.
You are sick, and you can't tell,
and I'm just trying to look out for you.
I know that you took the medicine once,
and called me to talk about your father,
After that one pill,
you sounded eerily like the mother I have been missing for months,
I think you took the medicine
five times at least,
nine times at most.
I know you promised me
you would take it for a month on Friday.
I know by Wednesday of the next week
you weren't taking it.
You told me so;
you told me you didn't like how it made you feel.
I know the medicine was working,
and I know it was bringing you back to me.
I think if you were to take the medicine for a month,
you would be yourself again;
you would be the mom that I adore.
And if you took the medicine for a month,
and you still wanted to wear
a ring for every finger,
five bracelets on each wrist
If you wanted to wear my clothes
or get piercings
or play your music loud all night
I would support it
because it would be You doing it,
and that's really all I need.
I know if there was a deal I could make
with you so that you'd take your medicine,
I would make it regardless of the terms.
No Xanax for a month- Done.
Clean the whole house- Done.
Summer school- Done.
Get a job- Done.
Anything you ask of me to do
while you get treatment,
I would do.
Anything to have you back.
And if we were together again,
I know I would be better.
I wouldn't take you for granted.
I wouldn't be so angry.
I wouldn't shut you out.
I wouldn't make you worry.
I know if you said
"I'm checking into the hospital.I'm getting treatment."
My world would start spinning right again.

'Write what you want to read.'
What I want to read
is a letter from you from the hospital
saying you're getting better,
saying we'll be together soon.
I want to read
court papers
transferring custody of us
back to you.
I want to read All the Hits So Far
But Don't Expect Too Much
in the back of your car,
as we are driving home.

© Copyright 2009 Abby Almon
I know most people die unexpectedly, and I worry I'll die that way, too. Not that I think a long, drawn-out death by way of terminal illness is any better. I'm just afraid I might leave behind unanswered questions. I'm afraid people will miss me and hurt with regret over things they didn't do or words they didn't say. I'm afraid people won't know I love them. I'm afraid they won't know I understand.

© Copyright 2009 Abby Almon
4. Come Fall
I hope to be home.
Coming off a summer of
fruits and vegetables and sunshine.
You and me- we'll be Kings again
of tired feet and night time streets
and walking along the side of the road.
This year will be better than the last,
better than the past.
We'll radiate hope and
the world will know us.
The world will smile and hold out a hand.
A continuum of our lives.
Feeling free, breathing crisp cold air.
Imagine us
without the fights and secrets and tears.
Come Fall
We will be happy.
It's written on our bodies.

© Copyright 2009 Abby Almon
7. Sometimes in cartoons it replaces the falling anvil.
The fuse-lit bomb that's just gone off in front of you.
The damage is arbitrary. You just dust yourself off and put your head back on.
You shake it off, look forward to later
when you're packed shoulder to shoulder
in a line with your friends
singing; you don't mind the wait.
You stay up late in good company.
Playing seventh grade honesty games
and watching too much T.V.,
You fall asleep in a pile like puppies without the fur,
You sleep in, covers discarded in the summer heat.
You wake up to noontime sunshine,
"Days are only rumors we've wasted. Have a good one."

© Copyright 2009 Abby Almon
6. I'm sitting on your back porch
with a Citranella candle unlit in front of me.
It's evening in the summertime.
I've taken pills to make it sweet.
Stood outside five minutes today,
and I've got roses blooming on my cheeks.

I won't be seeing friends this weekend.
We won't be huddled on crates
talking the night away under spotlights come Saturday;
but I've taken pills to make that sweet.

I know a guy that's got flavors of the week.
I try real hard not to be one of them.
But I still feel weak.
I've taken pills to make me sweet
so that I'm calm
sitting on your back porch with a Citranella candle in front of me.

© Copyright 2009 Abby Almon

The Soft Parade

Getting thrown through a window takes strength on the part of your attacker; takes a moment when self-restraint and fond memories disappear, and all that’s left is the pumping of blood and the tightening of muscles.

You’re angry and fierce, fighting with your husband in your living room, yelling like it’s routine.

It’s not routine; this hand holding a gas can, pouring it in a pathway through your home. He empties it at his feet, face marred by a twisted smile, and strikes a match. You grab it without thinking, without feeling the fire bite the soft skin of your palm.

His eyes change, black with anger or a trick of the lightning flashing outside. Your purple blouse is fisted in his hands; he’s pulling you off your feet, and this night is not routine.

You feel breathless flying through the air. Your back at the glass is a momentary relief, but then it cracks, shatters behind you, and you’re still falling.

You hit the grass on your back, head turned to the side, black skirt ruffled up at your knees. The silk and nylon, black heels; on this night, you look like a fallen twenties starlit.

With your cheek against the wet grass, the rain is bringing a brief respite from the hot humid air every time a drop hits your skin. The night insects chorus around you, and you can hear someone’s voice entwined with their cries, whispering “Accident, accident.”

The sound turns to a rattle and hiss, like the snakes you avoid in the summer, then to a ringing in your ears, a bell chorus of your very own. Then, it’s the sound of ice cream trucks and bikes of children coming to buy a treat.

But that’s wrong. Your head is throbbing, and it’s so hot, heat waves engulfing your body. Your husband, he lit the fire. That sound, it’s not the soundtrack of your life here, but sirens. Fire trucks and ambulances, flashing colored lights added to the orange waves and white-bright lightning.

You’re fading out of consciousness; the last thing reaching your ears is your husband whispering above your head, and the bass rumble heartbeat of thunder, and the reassuring wavering sound of sirens coming. You hear the Soft Parade.

© Copyright 2008 Abby Almon
'Body language is something that you feel
It's just too real to be concealed.' - Cute Is What We Aim For
Stop relating children's books to current events.
Stop comparing science fiction to reality.
Don't teach children about environmental ruin
through bright-colored pictures and rhymes.
Stop. Don't. This isn't working.
People pledge, daily, rarely, never, to stand together.
Divided we fall?
Divided we are.
I feel it in parking lots, moving to avoid mothers and young kids.
I think they don't want their kids to see black pants and chains.
I'm tired. I won't change the world.
Who decided the world needs to be changed?
Freedom is theoretical.
You've got me choking on words.
China. Communism. Tiananmen Square protests of 1989.
But there's also the Green Student Forum.
More than I'm doing.
There isn't a line dividing us.
There's just emotion and a need to blame someone.
You can't change the past, so shut up.
Focus, now.
You won't save your children by telling them they're failing.
You won't save anything if you don't start to move.
I don't believe
that anything can happen
without hurting someone.
Despite any good intentions, pain is still there.
I'm tired of seeing adults as robots and kids as the ones that breathe.
You can keep yourself from dating someone
to keep from hurting your friends,
but then you hurt yourself,
and you hurt who you left.
You can make a movie,
documentary, reality, about
hurt or self-harm.
and you'll hurt people.
Even when you're trying to show them
they aren't alone,
that other kids have toughened skin under their clothes,
good intentions cracking your voice.
You're still taking away their secret,
their privacy,
sometimes, the thing holding them together.
And parents; they love, but they'll
tear their kids apart when they're hiding something.
They don't understand, so they won't listen when kids try to explain.
They ask if you're stupid, but there isn't an answer to satisfy.
This isn't a warning, but an anecdote.
Flashback to the industrial revolution.
Work was faster, easier, better.
But now we've got pollution,
and so many people unemployed.
Move forward to help the economy,
to feed, to live, to have more.
But to do it, you tear down the environment.
Drown trees to build a dam.
This isn't fiction. Rhymes won't help.
Get down on your knees,
put your fingers in the ground,
and try to keep on breathing.
Everytime you exhale, you ruin the environment.
and you're cutting down trees,
lessening the oxygen.
Atleast, be worth the damage you create.
You can't follow the rules to live.
You can't live for long, if you keep breaking them.
Who said we were what the world should
aspire to be?
What are we, here?
Tell me.
I see divisions. Living statues.
Desperate kids waiting for a savior.
Hopeless parents, distraught over money and houses and pets.
Robotic adults, spitting out practiced lines, talking in circles, leaving lies.
This isn't right.
Tell me if I'm wrong.
I want to underline words from books,
write them down very carefully,
and send them to the president,
envelope stamped 'URGENT'.
We aren't tribes or nations or peoples.
We aren't united.
We can leave and go far, far away,
where colored codes don't mean our lungs have to work harder.
Where it doesn't feel like everyone
is lying or hiding the truth.
Where touch means more than grades and school.
Nothing gets fixed until all the cards are on the table.
You want to be better
so you hold what you know back.
This isn't a game.
You have to understand.
We've got kids starving because there isn't enough food,
stomachs bloated, malnourished.
Unwitting stars of documentaries made by withered white men
from places with surplus's of food.
World's with so much to be eaten
that game shows are formed around it.
World's with so much food being trashed daily,
with the rich buying five different houses,
small islands, useless cars
World's where
no one is looking at skeletons walking.
You should be a skeleton after you die,
not while your hearts still beating.
In that world with too much food,
there are kids starving.
Self-induced. Thrust a finger down your throat.
Brag when you hit three days empty;
pinch your skin and call it fat.

"Some are dying for a cause, but that don't make it yours."
A few people care.
Even fewer famous care.
It's not an army or a generation.
It's not even a group.
Miles and years to separate.
If you get out there, to dry hot places,
dripping tree leaves, green fog,
hot sand, salted oceans.
If you talk to the leaders,
ask them what they want.
Languages and generalizations,
mistakes you won't get past.
Suck it up.
Sit down.
We're the same blood. Same hurt, same smile.
Same world.
If you can't do it,
step down.
Call for someone who can.
Pacts and treaties only last so long.
Words don't mean a thing
when your hearts not in them.
We won't be getting anywhere
until you know.
I could quote books I've read,
lyrics from songs,
to show you what I mean.
but what makes me feel
isn't the same for you.
I could ask you to forget about oil,
disregard money and power,
but you'd laugh in my face.
'The world has worked this way for many years,
for too long to stop now.
Besides, it's worked in our favor.'
I could say forget about tongues,
and the languages you use them for.
You wouldn't listen.
You need your language for your identity.
I'd ask that you put aside religion,
because I don't believe you do.
But you're an actor, and you can't break character now.
They wouldn't, either, I think.
But in other places, hearts beat harder with religion.
With gods and prayer and afterlife.
It means something more
than fables told to children.
I could quote Fight Club or Fall Out Boy,
Blue Like Jazz or Envy on the Coast,
My Ishmael or The Academy Is...
We don't know the feeling of dirt or bark.
We can't climb trees.
We don't live to appease gods.
I can press my heart into words;
I could even send them out into the world.
To leaders with power threaded through their fingers,
but I don't believe a thing would change.
I could write my heart down,
lined with colored pencil illustrations.
I could make a video,
earnest and honest.
I could try my best, and I could put it on the Internet;
I could send it out to every kid I know.
If you want change, you have to make it.
Hearts can't be switched, emotions don't project.
You won't understand until you see it, feel it.
You have to bleed a little, risk a lot,
if you want to get beyond this place.

© Copyright 2008 Abby Almon

"The folksinger said his friend was performing a covert operation, freeing hostages from a building in some dark part of the world. His friend’s team flew in by helicopter, made their way to the compound and stormed into the room where the hostages had been imprisoned for months. The room, the folksinger said, was filthy and dark. The hostages were curled up in a corner, terrified. When the SEALs entered the room they heard the gasps of the hostages. They stood at the door and called to the prisoners, telling them they were Americans. The SEALs asked the hostages to follow them, but the hostages wouldn’t. They sat there on the floor and hid their eyes in fear. They were not of healthy mind and didn’t believe their rescuers were really Americans.
The SEALs stood there, not knowing what to do. They couldn’t possibly carry everybody out. One of the SEALs, the folksinger’s friend, got an idea. He put down his weapon, took off his helmet, and curled up tightly next to the other hostages, getting so close his body was touching some of theirs. He softened the look on his face and put his arms around them. He was trying to show them he was one of them." -
Blue Like Jazz by Donald Miller

The Color of Absence

It’s cold. The sky is endless black, punctuated by barely visible stars. The city is dark, too, despite all the light glowing inside buildings, and the wind is up, rushing and biting at her skin as Nikki hurries down the sidewalk toward The Dive. She’s been cold for the two days because business has been slow, and she wants to have a chance to revel in the warmth of the building before she gets on stage. This is her first gig this month, and she's glad for the extra money.
Once she's inside the club, she heads toward the backstage area, slipping through the crowd, and nodding to the greetings sent her way, Nikki knows most people here solely from playing at the club or seeing them on the streets. She borrows a guitar from the owner, and plays her songs acoustic when there's an open slot. It’s fun, and she gets paid a little from the Ray, and it's warm. Ray tends to look past the fact that she may smell like she's been sleeping in a garden- that thick smell of soil- because he likes to help out the street kids. He’ll open up odd jobs to them first; Nikki sometimes wonders if he's been out on the streets himself.
It’s not until she's actually on the stage that Nikki takes off her jacket. It’s a brown hoodie with a little bit of raggedy fake fur lining the collar. It’s a size or two too big, but it's a lucky find, and she doesn't put it down much, afraid of someone stealing it. As she's turning around from laying her jacket down on the stool set up on the stage, Nikki catches sight of a group of kids who look familiar. After a few moments of staring, she realizes that, fuck, these are her friends. Or, they were her friends, before she was on the streets. She’s struck cold for a second, because she never thought she'd see them again.
Their houses aren't near here. Their school isn't nearby. Turning her attention back to her guitar, she takes her eyes off her old friends and quickly finishes tuning. As she steps up to the mic and clears her throat, she feels their eyes turn to her. At least, she thinks she does, but there's no way to know, and there isn't enough of her that cares to make her turn her head in their direction.
Nikki plays a thirty minute set and gets a decent amount of applause at the end. She heads back stage, tugging her jacket on, and deposits the guitar in the changing room Ray keeps. Then, she drifts out into the crowd, searching intently for Ray; she wants to get her money and get out, fast. But Life is being a bitch, and Ray is standing less then six feet from the kids Nikki knows. She walks over, hands stuffed into her pockets, and doesn't look at them once.
“Hey Ray,” Nikki says, sidling up to the aging man.
"Hello, Miss Nikki. You want your money?"
"Of course not, I just wanted to bask in your company,” she says, a grin tugging at her mouth.
Ray snorts, reaching into his pocket for her money. He knows to only give her cash.
There's some commotion off to their right, and Ray quickly excuses himself to see what's going on. Nikki is mid-turn when one of her friends calls out her name. She turns back in their direction, cursing her lack of bitchy attitude and her inability to just ignore them.
"Hey," she says, giving them a small nod, a small smile.
There are only four people standing in front of her. Jenna, who used to be one of her closest friends, two others that her just part of their general group of friends-a guy and a girl-, and another guy Nikki doesn’t recognize. But that figures, since it's been over a year. The three people she does know, Jenna especially, are staring at her, blinking a few times too many, like they don't recognize her. Nikki takes a second to inventory herself and compare it to how she was before she left.
On the outside, not too much has changed. Nikki is scrawny, from the lack of steady food, but she doesn’t think it's as noticeable with her jacket; her red and brown mess of hair is cut short, close to her head, and she's got a bruise on the underside of her jaw.
"Where did you go?" Jenna asks right away. Her voice is tight, angry underneath the surface. “One day you were at school, and the next you weren't, and we couldn't get in touch with you. What the hell happened to you?"
Nikki shrugs, swallowing. She glances from the ground to her friend's face and holds her gaze. "I got kicked out."
Jenna stares at her, then lets out a sharp,” What?"
"I got kicked out of my house. And I couldn't really stay up there. Homeless kids would really stick out in a neighborhood like that."
"Who kicked you out of your house? Why?"
Nikki shook her head easily. "It doesn't matter who or why. But I’m sorry I didn't let you know I was alright. That was pretty shitty."
Jenna's eyes are back to the angry glare.
"You're shitting me, right? You're homeless? As in, living on the streets. What do you do, hustle for money?"
Nikki's face cloud over at that, and Jenna spots it.
"You fuck people for money?"
Nikki can feel the disgust about to enter the conversation, the lecture about how dangerous and awful it is to prostitute. As if she didn't know firsthand. As if there was any other way to get by.
"Look," Nikki says, abruptly,” I’ve got to go find my friend, alright. If you come around here again, you'll probably find me." She pulls away from the group, quickly, unable to see another part of her life turn into a mess, unable to have that weight on her shoulders. She moves straight for the door, letting herself out into the cool night.
There are people milling around the parking lot like it's and outdoor extension of the club. Nikki walks to the corner of the building, to rest against while she smokes a cigarette she had bummed off another performer earlier that night. As she's settling her back against the brick corner, she hears muffled noise come from the small alley way directly to her right and behind her. She turns her head to look, briefly wondering if someone is having sex back there. She's not at all prepared for the sight she sees, dropping her cigarette and feeling like her heart has stopped.
Lying on the ground, just barely in the light, Nikki could see Izzie. She would know that blond hair anywhere; Izzie had refused to cut it because it had reminded her of her home. But, now the golden white color is tainted with red. Nikki's chest constricts tight, her hand applying a death grip to the brick corner, before she pushes herself off and over to her friend. Nikki drops to her knees next to Izzie, alternately shouting her name or shouting for help. She fumbles for Izzie’s hand, runs her fingers across the wrist for a pulse; Izzie's eyes are closed, her mouth slightly open.
The air feels like it's getting colder, and Nikki keeps shouting. People are coming there way, and she faintly makes out the sound of someone calling 9-1-1, but most of her attention is focused on Izzie. She shakes Izzie's shoulder gently, calls her names, ignoring the fact that someone behind her is saying her name. Nikki pulls Izzie into her lap, cradling her head and repeating her name in hushed tones. Club patrons are still watching, and behind Nikki, Jenna is wondering who this person is.
The ambulance arrives fast, pulling Izzie into the back and tearing off towards to hospital, the EMTs not seeing Nikki when she asks if she can ride with. Instead, she's left standing on the pavement, watching the flashing lights retreat.
"Hey," someone says softly.
Nikki looks at the hand on her arm, then the face it belongs to. Jenna.
"Look, I'm sorry about what i said in there. We can drive you to the hospital. You don't have a car, right?"
Nikki shakes her head, and is led into the backseat of a green car. She sits there, boneless in the seat, staring fixedly at the handle to open the door. As soon as the car pulls in front of the hospital doors, Nikki bolts out of the seat and into the hospital, straight for the front desk.
"Is Izzie Santinaro here?" she asks, eyes wide.
"Are you family?" questions the nurse, eyes flashing to her computer screen.
"Yes, I am. Is she here?"
The nurse nods, moves the mouse a few times, then nods again. "She's in room 205. The doctors probably still in there so-"
Nikki is already running toward the stairs, up to Izzie's room. She slows outside Izzie's door, peering into the blue-wash room. There's a man in a white lab coat standing next to the bed, writing something on a clipboard.
'Is Izzie alright?" Nikki asks the doctor, walking into the room.
The man looks up from his papers. "Yes, she'll be relatively fine. She was beaten. As far as we can tell, that's the only thing that happened. It wasn't severe, but whoever did it did knock her out, so we'd like to keep her over night. She should wake up soon from the medication, if you'd like to stay."
Nikki nods, stepping around the doctor and pulling a chair up to Izzie's bed. The doctor quietly leaves the room, hanging his clipboard at the end of the bed. Nikki tangles her hands with Izzie's, watching her friends face. She can't understand how Izzie got hurt. Or, why.
They were just kids, in ratty shirts and jeans. The shirts were almost always too big, because they got the majority of them from strangers who tended to buy the shirts in impersonal fashions and sizes like that would make the kids they were giving the shirts to less real; or, the got them from older women who thought that fitting shirts exposed them to men, and therefore enabled the men to 'demean' them. Nikki always wanted to argue that it was up to her what was demeaning, but she didn't want to chase away free clothes.
Besides not looking particularly fabulous, the area around The Dive wasn't known for its violence or crime rates. Nikki sniffles, trying not to cry. Even though the doctor had said Izzie would be fine, Nicki was still scared. Izzie and she were the last of their little group of gutter kids. There used to be ten of them, squatting together near and abandoned park with metallic rusting slides. Now, Nikki just had Izzie.
"Please be alright," she said softly, her voice coming out a little horse. "When you get better, we can look for real jobs, okay? And we can try and find an actual home. We'll be better, just make sure you wake up. We can clean ourselves up and get some decent clothes. Maybe start school again, or something. Find you a boy to fall madly in love with."
Nikki imagined Izzie rolling her eyes and laughing at the last statement. Izzie was a firm believer in finding somebody to love and be loved by, somebody cool and fun. She'd always laugh, saying she could find a Prince Charming to take her away from that shit hole. Nikki didn't want the same; she wanted to be able to not touch and not fuck for a long, long time. But she understood Izzie wanting to, and they drew imaginary dream-guys on the sidewalk with chalk or rocks when they were bored.
Nikki dropped her head to the edge of the bed, letting her eyes close. Outside of the room, Jenna and her friends had caught up to Nikki and had watched the whole exchange. After a moment, Jenna pulled her friends away, back to their car to go home.
In the morning, Nikki is woken up by harsh voices. She raises her head, looking around the room, then at her friend; Izzie is still asleep, so Nikki stands up and walks out into the hallway. The doctor from the night before is standing a few feet away, talking with two people who look vaguely familiar. The doctor spots Nikki out of the corner of his eye, and waves her over. She looks at the two people standing with the doctor, both looking older than him, a man and a women, one with blond hair, one with brown.
"What's going on?" Nikki asks the doctor.
"These," the man says, motioning to the people in front of him," are Isabel's parents. They would like to take her home."
Nikki's stomach drops out from under her, a miniature repeat of the night before.
"What? They can't do that!."
The woman turns sharply towards her. "Oh yes, we can. Our baby has been corrupted and beaten on the streets. I will have no more of this happening."
"It's your fault she's on the streets," Nikki snaps, her insides twisting with anger. "You kicked her out of your house."
"But we never knew she would become a-a-"
"A hustler? What else do you think we can do to survive? Do you think some homely little church go-er is going to come and take us into their home?"
Both of the parents are slightly open-mouthed, the mother nervously fingering a cross she has around her neck.
"The most they ever did was throw pamphlets in our faces about saving our souls and re-virginizing ourselves. They never offered food or shelter and even spare change. What did you think you were sending your daughter off into?"
The doctor clears his throat, trying to dispel the tension. "We can address this later. But, in the examination it was noted that Isabel had bruises around her face and neck at least a few days old. Do you know where they came from?"
Nikki turns to the doctor, flexing her fingers. "Me."
"You?” the mother gasps, her voice haughty.
"Yes. And she gave me these," Nikki replies, gesturing to the few bruises scattering her own face and neck. "It's better to look worn down on the streets. The creeps tend to go for the pretty kids, so if you have bruises, or short hair, or whatever, the usually stay away."
"Creeps?” the father asks, tentatively.
"Yeah, you know, the guys the cut you open once they get you in their car. We try to stay away from them." Nikki can't keep the sarcasm out of her voice.
The mother's face is shocked, and she’s about to stomp off, when she catches a glimpse through the window of Izzie waking up. She quickly hurries into the room, pulling her husband with her.
Nikki clenches her teeth as she watches the reunion. It's not that she doesn't want Izzie to have a good life, but she doesn't trust parents that can be so unloving and kick their own kid onto the streets. Plus, Izzie is her best friend, and she doesn't want to lose her. And, that may not happen, but you can't say for sure when you're on the other side of the state from someone, and one of you is homeless.
Nikki is numb, later, when Izzie pulls her into a hug and tells her about going home. She holds on tight through the hug, and takes the phone number Izzie presses into her hand. Izzie promises to visit soon, with this unbelievable grin on her face. A Nikki smile back, nods, and tries not to feel it when Izzie walks out into the parking lot and gets into a car with her parents.
Once the vehicle is gone from sight, Nikki's insides collapse, and she sits down on the curb, pulling her knees up to her chest to keep all the hurt in. Nikkie sniffled, keeping her eyes low. What did she do now? There wasn't anyone left. All of the kids in their group had gotten out. Some had found friends to take them in, some had found group homes. Others had gotten sick, or hurt by stupid men. Now, Izzie had left with her parents. Nikki let out a small whimper, pressing her fingers against her legs, feeling cold and hopeless. What do you do when you're the last one left?

© Copyright 2007 Abby Almon

Human Aid

Really, you want to blame it on the scene. All the stupid talk of Truth and Beauty Bombs and all the stupid sayings -"You can't hug kids with nuclear arms.”; you never thought it would lead to this. You think back on it, all these kids turning away from the love that started it all, turning away from trying to help people, trying to make it one world. How they all fell apart into this hate mess. It was like the Holocaust all over again, you think, only with a better soundtrack and no stopping it. Now, if you even think of Alive with the Glory of Love, you feel your stomach clench, and you have to make a mad dash to the nearest trashcan.
It was supposed to be about cleaning up the environment; about helping people and showing them that they weren't alone. About ending so much starvation. About creating better things for bettering. But then it fell apart. Maybe you all shouldn't have started with such a big goal - "Our eyes are bigger than our hearts, heads, hands." Maybe then it wouldn't have gone from labors of love to lip service. You joined because you wanted to feel like you belonged somewhere, like you weren't so alone; you figure that's how Hitler started his army, too.
There was this big poster at the register office, saying how the ultimate goal was World Peace. The idea always seems so beautiful. You never think how there's never peace in the world, or how it's not just a human thing. You go outside, and you could see cats fighting in the yard. It’s an Animal thing. You fight because it's in your blood, because it’s Animalistic, and you’re all animals. Sure, you'd like to cut down on the violence and blood shed, but now you know it won't ever go away.
The Army, though, it was so horribly wrong. They were supposed to help, be a relief force. They weren’t meant to kill everyone who didn't agree. They were so technologically advanced, though, they barely had any trouble. With the bodies posed where they had fallen, the Army would lay a white flag with a heart imprinted on it over the chest of every bloodied corpse. Now their mission was to control everyone. You had nightmares about their stupid love songs and awful flags and all the blood you could see soaking into the dirt.
You remember hearing stories about the Crusades and Joan of Arc. You remember in the beginning, how all your favorite bands played concerts to raise funds to help you. You remember authors like David Levithan, Francesca Lia Block, and Art Spieglman would come out and talk, with everyone gathered around them. There were talks about peace movements from the past, and t-shirts passed out on street corners promoting the right to Speak Up and Do Something. It was all to set the mood for something that was never supposed to be what it became.
Tonight though, you can feel it in your bones. Most of the world is laying in destruction, and this theory has been pouring from everyone's lips. It’s like a sudden sixth sense, like cats and tornadoes. It’s like the whole of humanity can feel the end now, weighing down on them. You’re sure the people in the Army feel it, too. Even though they've been denying it with vehemence, you know that they aren't left out of this sudden transformation. They feel it; they know it; they're the honest to god cause of it. But, still. They deny it, and they'll let it happen. Maybe, they could stop it, if they can even stop at all. But their so drunk with their control, no one within their ranks will even consider it.
Tonight, or today, really, because it'll be day soon, with dawn hovering just on the horizon, you know something big will happen. You’re huddled under a blanket on your ratty couch in your tiny sixth floor apartment, with your cat curled against your side. Your TV is directly in front of you, playing footage of the War, the Massacre {which is what it is, despite what the Officers say}. Every news show, people are talking live. It’s like the whole world is afraid to go to sleep, afraid they won't wake up, and determined to see what happens. There are windows on either side of your TV, and you've taken off the curtains and blinds. The city- your home- is stretched in front of you. You can feel it holding its breath; you can feel every person's eyes on the clock. On the newspaper next to you, there's the estimated time of Sunrise, Six-Forty a.m. You watch the neon numbers of your clock change.
Your cat is purring loudly, and you're counting her breaths in and out as the green changes from six-thirty-nine to six-forty. As soon as it changes, your bones start thrumming. The people on your television, their voices sound like music, and everywhere you look, there's a faint glow of color to everything. Suddenly, the sound of your TV get's louder, and you look up; they're saying Something's happening. Something is Happening. You change your view to outside your windows, and there's no sun in the sky. You know the sun won't be coming up just like you know this is some kind of End. At least you're not alone.
You watch the sky take on a red purple tinge, but it's not from the sun or any kind of rising. There’s something in the sky causing the colors. Something coming towards you, towards Earth. Your cat moves closer to you as the knowledge hits you. They’re angels. They’re floating angels, the kind you read about. You watch as these things move closer, seemingly growing in numbers. They don't stop over you, though. They don't stop over the city, but fly past you. Footage of the creatures from below flashes onto your television screen for a moment, before turning into static. It’s not until the reporter returns to the screen that the static clears.
You listen all day as information is fed through thin black wires, into the ears of the reporters. They talk of the 'beings' and what they are. There seems to be a consensus that they're some type of merci, yesha, angel. The sun never comes up, but the stars and moon are gone. The sky is still a swirl of red and purple, and the lights of the city never go out.
Then you hear news of what the angels are doing. You hear that they're all congregated over the Army, that the sky is a violent, rolling red nearby. You hear that the ground is burning, that the angels are screaming. You hear that they're yelling what these people have done. They’re yelling that the Army knows nothing of Love. You hear that they're ripping the Army apart, biting into their skin, tearing their flags and choking the Army with them. There’s no footage of it, but you know it’s happening.
Outside, the sky loses its tinge of red, turning to a deep purple. All the noise from your TV is suddenly cut off; all the noises everywhere seem to be gone, like someone muted the world with a giant volume control. You move to your window, looking out. Everything looks brighter and cleaner; healthier. You watch the sky grow to a blinding, golden light, and the floor drops out from under you. The last thing you register is the heat, so big that it feels like there's fire running through your veins.
There will be no great judging. You will not stand before an almighty being, reviewing your sins. You will not be punished as a whole race. You will not be anything, because you will stop existing completely. After the light and the heat, once the humans are gone, the angles will wipe out every trace of your existence.
The paved roads, sky scrapers, and monuments will all vanish. Mount Rushmore will be returned to the state it was in before faces of men were carved into the stone. The broken ships lying at the bottom of the ocean will be gone. The air will be clean; the trees, the water, the whole environment will be remade without the pollution from cars and oil spills. The species on the verge of dying will be able to replenish their numbers.The Earth will get a second chance, with its biggest problem starters taken out of the equation.

© Copyright 2007 Abby Almon
The sound system had finally been hooked up right, and the music was loud enough to rattle the windows. The outside walls of the house had mattresses against them as makeshift soundproofing. The house had been empty for a few years, but now, almost every night, it was filled to the brim with kids. Regardless of school, the same faces showed up. It was a cathartic thing, at first.
Before anyone knew anyone, it was just to get away and lose yourself; pretend you didn't exist at all. But then the blue lights were added, old mattresses dragged in, lists of bands scrawled onto the walls, and it turned into something better.

Hey Mr. DJ (Hey Mr. DJ)
You gotta put a record on, yeah (You gotta put a record on, yeah)
We're gonna dance tonight (tonight, tonight)
Dance tonight*

The cathartic thing, that was the beginning. A bunch of kids sprawled out across the house, cigarettes burning, skin burning, hiding from people who tore them apart. It helped, as unlikely as it was, to be there with so many people. Then the music started, and it was fighting to a beat. Kids could go home with black eyes and bruised ribs and know, just know that they were at least doing something. That they had some control somewhere. Everyone, all their parents, it seemed, were so unhappy and completely miserable in their age. They made old age seem awful, with their hopeless mindset. With a house filled with tension, you just have to get away.
When people started talking, they ended up finding people who understood the mess of emotions sitting inside them, and that became the help they needed; the fighting turned to dancing, and the cigarettes were put out.

Just let me ask you:
Hey, have you heard of my religion?
It's called the Church of Hot Addiction
And we believe that God has lust for everything*

The sex, that came later. After you knew everyone in the place, knew their names and what their scars meant. When it stopped being a bunch of strangers; when it was like a house full of your best friends.
It wasn't sex like in porn movies. It was more like knowing you were alive, feeling alive, really. Letting the person know you were there, and showing them how you felt, because no one believed in words anymore. It was sex like laughter and holding hands and breathing easy. And it was lust too, and a little bit of love. It was around that time that the blue lights were added in the overhead fixtures. Christmas lights were strung up on the walls. The building thrummed from the electricity, the light, and the music.
The first time you showed up, it was just before the music started. You were angry and disgusted by most of the world, and you were planning on suffocating everything bad in the smoke and the dark. You didn't expect to find someone who wanted to talk to you. You didn't think they'd see you, talk to you, and there would be this understanding in their voice. You didn't get why they cared at all, but you talked because you were always good at spilling your guts. You’d been feeling out of control for the past month, and, honestly, you were a mess of anger and raw skin. You figured the things you said would make them go away; you didn't know that you'd end up with someone to curl up against and fall asleep with.
And it was funny, because making one friend turned into two and four and ten. It was like people lost their walls when they came into the house. You'd spend your nights dancing, laughing, and making out. It was how you all got through the world that had suddenly become impossible. It was something that let you know you were okay.

It was surprising, you thought, that no one had reported any type of disturbance to the police. You weren’t hurting anyone, but it was still better to be left alone. No one, besides those that were there, seemed to know about the late night parties. Not even the parents noticed. Sometimes, kids would crash at the house when the sun came up. They’d pull the mattresses off the walls and curl up on them. Their absence at school didn't make any difference.
The kids that slept there, if they stuck around until nightfall, would set everything up. You’d all run around, playing hide and seek with the world. You were always winning, in the night when you were all kings.

So leave us alone
When we're riding high
Mister police
Ain't hurting no one

The city's asleep
And the world is mine
We hide and go seek
And you know they'll never, ever, ever find us*

It started when everyone was fucking buried under the regret of the people who ran their lives. Parents wielding power they shouldn't have, leaving bruises or tears or empty ribcages. These kids, they were the end of what their parents held dear. Because they knew this, they became the end of broken hearts. They were young and alive and on fire. Better than the listlessness every authority figure seemed to embody. They cared. They could have been a movement, could have moved the world.

It's the end of a broken heart
I went on without you
I was lost from the start
I did what I had to
All we are is too fast for love

We're too young
I hate to love you
The night sky
Hangs above you
But you can't be missed
If you never go away

You don't know what I've seen
You can see that I've been damaged*

© Copyright 2007 Abby Almon
* Lyrics belong to Cobra Starship
Almost every night now, you climb out of your window and onto your roof, sprawling out across the shingles. It’s too late not too contemplate the stars, or wonder about them and the trees and the wind. It’s still warm out, but you wear your thickest hoodie like some security shield. You watch the lights go out in the houses around you; you take note of the house that has lights that never go out, at least not before the sun has made the sky a cool blue again. You ignore your homework or thoughts of sleep, reminding yourself if you're too zoned out in the morning, you can always grab a cup of coffee. You always have the right excuse to justify the things you do.
There’s a faint scratching at the window behind your head. It’s your cat, you know, because she always wants to accompany you outside. You don't let her though, because you don't want her to get hurt. Even though she prowls the top of your bunk beds with ease, you aren't sure how she'd do out here. There’s a difference between six and a half feet and twenty-five feet, so you keep your window closed, save for an inch or two of space for you to open it again.
With all the open space around you, you’re thinking about what would happen if you were gone. If you disappeared, or something happened, and the people in your life were left behind. You’re wondering if they would go through your things, looking for insight or answers. Looking for who you are. You think of all the objects -notebooks, clothes, books, CDs- cluttered around your room, and you wonder what people would think of you if they just had all of that to go by to define you.
You wonder what they would think of the books that you have, the words you've underlined, or your CDs and notebooks. You think if they went through your stuff, they might find pieces of you, but mostly, you think, they would get it wrong. Unless they had some special technology, they wouldn't know what the books really meant to you, or what you saw in the words. They wouldn't know which CDs you loved, which songs you played and played until even a line of the song written on a page could get you singing its entirety. And they wouldn't understand the words in your notebooks, how everything was filled with meaning at the time it came about, and how it changed still, in notebooks you kept in boxes. They wouldn't understand.
The only times you really wonder what people would think is times like these, in a detached sort of way with hypothetical situations. If they went through your stuff, you decide, still watching the sky, they would think that they knew you and love you and miss you, but all it would be is a projection of the things you never measured up to.

© Copyright 2007 Abby Almon
1. He shakes his head, feeling caustic and angry, unable to find words for his feelings.
‘I just can't do this anymore. You never talk to me.'
Even if he did have the words now, there's a lump in the back of his throat causing him to clench his jaw. As she walks out the door, his mind is stuck on the ways he failed.
3. He thinks maybe it would help if he tried to talk. But then he knows his voice would crack, and he refuses to cry in front of someone so hurtful. Refuses to be that weak. He keeps his mouth shut, and the tension builds. There’s not much air left he can breathe.
4. When he gets inside, he throws himself into the mosh pit, actively seeking out the middle. He’s so tired of his home, so he loses himself in the music and the movement, careless of the bruises he'll see in the morning. He feels exhausted and desperate as he lets himself get sucked into the circle pit, moving more violently, all elbows and knees, forgetting himself more completely.
5. He stares into the mirror under the harsh lights, studying his pale skin and the way his eyes are scrunched up from just being opened. He moved the eyeliner back to his right eye, painting his face. Today he is someone else, and he will not miss his home or his family or his friends. Not right now. When he gets to the concert area he plays his guitar for all it's worth, enjoying the way the sound bounces off the shouts of the crowd. After he's done playing, he lets a nameless, loveless face shove him against a wall and kiss him. He’s got nothing better to do.
He glances down at the hands running up his shirt, over his ribs that he knows stick out, dipping into the cave between them. He can't remember the last time he ate- but who cares? He doesn't want to be in all the magazines he's in. He doesn't want to be at all. The only thing he's doing now is losing himself in the fame, becoming invisible under the spotlight.
6. He throws his head back and laughs, feeling the cool night air run down his throat. All the windows are open, and they're driving fast down an empty road. He’s pretending his problems don’t exist tonight. He hands his friend twenty bucks as they pull into the liquor store parking lot. Tonight, they're getting ripped wide open. They down the alcohol, get wasted, spill all their problems, and fall asleep in the car. The same thing that always happens. The same thing that manages to help.
7. He leans back on his empty bed, in his empty hotel room, on this empty, humid day. He lets his head loll over the side; the heat is pressing in around him, making his body sticky with sweat. He’s wearing ripped jeans and a ratty old t-shirt, waiting for something to happen. Anything, really. The past five days he's been feeling so numb.
Today, he's just waiting to feel something. Something real, even if it hurts, because now he's feeling less and less alive. Even if he's left screaming, punching a wall, he just wants there to be something in his life worth living for. Worth fighting for and worth breathing for. He just wants something.
8. Again, he's holed up in the small bathroom of the tour bus. Or, really, this morning; he knows the sun is starting to come up. He’s sitting in the little bench connected to the wall across from the toilet. His left arm is laid out in front of him, resting on his knees. His sleeve is pushed up past his elbow. In his right hand, he's holding onto a slim, shiny blade he extracted from one of his shaving razors. He holds his breath as he moves the silver object just above the skin of his arm.
He wants to see how far he can go. He wants to do something he's never done, something amazing or something repulsive. Letting out his breath, he drags the razor lightly across his arm. A thin red line appears, slowly starting to bubble up. He didn't press hard, so he's surprised, but he figures it's just because the blade is new. He moves the blade again and again, smiling at the little bit of release and control he feels.
At least he can do something right.
9. It's closing in on three a.m., but the traffic of people has yet to stop. There’s been a music festival in town for the past week, and the streets aren't clear until dawn. He’s sitting on the ground against a lamp post, watching the people cross the street. There’s a bottle by his feet he hasn't opened yet, and he can't take his eyes off a post on the building across the street.
His laughing face stares back at him, but he can't remember what made him laugh like that. He wishes he could because the world is feeling too cold and hopeless tonight.
10. She screamed at him in her angry way. Told him he didn't care about anyone besides himself.
He was fucking self-centered.
He was a waste of time.

He let his mouth move into a smirk, a grin, as she yelled, because it was the only thing he could do to keep himself from falling apart.

11. He was dressed to kill in an outfit he wouldn't be caught dead in, but it didn't matter since he hadn't been living much anyway. He felt sick at himself, but kept his smile on as he shook hands and made small talk in a cold hotel.

12. He had been avoiding everyone he knew, hiding out in parks and malls. Whenever they looked at him, he could see their pity shining out at him. He didn't want pity; sympathy, he would understand, but their pity was just sickening, even as they talked softly, creeping around him, they would throw back-handed insults into almost every conversation. He didn't need their words confusing him anymore than he already was, so he stayed where they couldn't find him.

13. In his small, empty hotel room, he looks out the window, into the engulfing blackness beyond. He can't seem to find his reflection in the glass, with his arms wrapped around himself. He wonders how hard it would really be to lose himself out there, to lose all the things attached to him, to become nothingness.
Tonight, he feels like inky black, poison, loneliness of the highest degree. He downs the rest of his water, letting the ice cubes clink back to the bottom of his glass. Leaning over the desk pushed into a corner of the room, he picks up his pen, again.

"Dear Universe,
I think there's this monster inside me..."

© Copyright 2007 Abby Almon

Needle In the Hay

She reached out and caught his arm, the sun glinting off the gold around her neck.
'Don’t run away,' she says.
'Don’t be like your father.'
But the kid is quiet, acting silent and stupid like she knew he would.
He walks out the door to catch the bus, body stiff in clothes she picked out.
'It’s all about outer image,' she says.
'It’s all about how the world sees you.'
When she tries to talk to him, he keeps his eyes trained on the floor. Too tired and nervous to look her in the eye. The mother sighs, not understanding- why is he so difficult? Regardless, she'd show him how to be.
He moves farther into himself on the bus, shaking from the heat or lack of sleep or the panic crawling up his bones. He wipes a hand across his face, feeling too visible.
He gets off the bus before he should, heading for a house he knows. He walks, ignoring the rising sun. Once he makes it to the house, he lets himself in and slips down the stairs to the right bedroom.
He would hide in this house today, with this friend who took the pain away, the friend wouldn't ask, only getting ice for blooming bruises.
He knew where the bruises came from.
'I can't beat myself,' the son would say.
The son and the friend would stay all day, watching old movies and breathing in the smoke from burning papers. The things that helped the son stay quiet.
The son wonders briefly if going to school and getting the right grades would get her off his back, but he used to do that, and he still wasn't good enough. In her eyes he'd never fit in; he'd always be the needle in the hay, too bright and sharp to get by unnoticed.

© Copyright 2007 Abby Almon
The SilverSun Pickups play steady on your radio.
It's fall out, September, closing in on October, and raining hard.
The past two weeks you've barely been breathing.
Just a ball of disgust or apathy.
Just a mess of nothing.
Today you've got this awful cough.
The kind that makes your throat feel raw and shakes you.
You're staying home because they made you,
Then left for their own lives.
You've been outside since nine, lying on the driveway, watching the sky.
You're soaked through now;
You're clothes are clinging to you like they're trying to steal your warmth.
This morning, you woke up for school, got completely ready, before you were stopped and deemed 'contagious.'
At first you were angry and frustrated and restless and just
Because that's just how you are now,
Without relent or escape.
But then you found this CD on the computer and downloaded it.
The first chords and you started to calm down.
Now, you're just breathing, un-thinking.
It's not until lightning flashes over head that you think maybe you should get inside.
Before your mom gets home, especially, because wouldn't it just be so awful
For her,
To find you outside,
Acting all 'abnormal', like you do.
Your fingers on your right hand press into the cement, scraping rough on your skin.
There you go again,
Losing that temporary calm.
Your eyes are shifting into a glare at the sky,
And this small part of you feels sad that you can't seem to not be like this.
You don't dwell though, because again you are
Repulsed by everything.
Angry and tired, you jerk to your feet and stomp inside.
Your radio is still outside playing the same song over and over again,
The sound coming out clear regardless of the towel covering it from the rain.
If you could find a solid calm...
'...Lost and loaded...'

© Copyright 2007 Abby Almon


It took me forever
to come up with the name for this.
Titles are very important to me.
It's a throwback to
my eleven year old self,
when I used to spend hours
leafing through baby name books,
looking for the name that sparked my heart.
It might have been because I wanted my characters to be unique right off the bat;
I stuck with names like Ivy and December.
I'm not sure what it says about my writing,
but I know what it says about me.
Because back then, I would have given
to be something other than the kid I was.

I was looking for a name
that said with one, two, three words
what I've been feeling.
A name that showed the brilliance of photos
of friends and birds and sunsets.
A name that told
how good it is to be alive
and how hard we all have to try.
I wanted a name that expressed things
that I don't have words for.
I guess that's what this writing is for.
Anyway, I think I came close.

© Copyright 2009 Abby Almon