Maisie lay in her bed, sweltering under her powder blue comforter, but needing it’s softness and weight to soothe her.
A soft rain pitter pattered against her window, and she tried to focus on it’s rhythm on the glass.
Her head throbbed and pulsed, her thoughts burned bright and angry, her chest choked and numb.
She just wanted peace and sleep and quiet inside herself. To feel something sweet and warm.
She focused again on the rain, on its soft tapping, and imagining that cool water on her skin, putting out the fires inside.
After a long time, she finally slept.
Maisie was sitting in her seat, with her soda and hotdog, at Charlotte Stokely Athletic Center, settling in to watch a women’s volleyball game.
Sometimes she liked these outings alone, to be in her own head space, her own world. Sometimes she liked being a ghost.
Today, though, she felt lonely. A couple was sitting a few rows ahead of her, touching, flirting, kissing, in their own sweet and sacred world.
Maisie looked away, sipped her soda, waited for the game to start. So many good things always seemed out of reach.
But once the game started, she would lose herself in the excitement, and it would slip from her mind for a time, consolation of a kind of forgetting.
Perhaps she’d a happy ghost, as she waited for her ride to pick her up, as the afternoon storms rolled in, with the hope of something new growing.
Maisie was 5 years old, and her kindergarten class had taken a field trip to the zoo.
She loved lynxs. She had a picture book about them, and articles cut out from nature magazines her mother bought.
Maisie held her teacher’s hand as they stood in front of the lynx enclosure, the big cat hidden in his concrete den.
It was late August, sweltering and humid, and the animal kept to the cooler dark.
Maisie leaned against her teacher’s leg, trying to see into the dark, to catch a glimpse of something wild.
A few minutes and the class moved on, the children growing restless and bored, and they went to the reptile house.
Sitting in the patch of woods now as an adult, seeing the world slip away, all that wildness taken, she know knew what that moment meant.
Maisie sat on the grass of her backyard, the fresh shoots of grass tickling her bare legs, as she sat crosslegged in bright boy’s swim shorts and tank top.
She watched a big beetle in his obsidian shell crawl through the grass and dirt, and over her naked toes, making her giggle.
A little creature going about its day, awake now that spring was over, and life, in all its lushness and blood, had started again.
The beetle wandered on to the small patch of woods, out of sight. The sun was hot on her shoulders. A lazy breeze blew on her face.
A rare good day, Maisie was reminded of childhood, when it seemed she was always happy, before corruption, illness.
She would go upstairs to her room, and write a hymn for Sophia, while she was still in the light, a moment of purity, when she could give love so easily.
Maisie dreamed of her true love, back in a sweeter spring, Junior class trip to.Dollywood, the swings they rode over and over again.
Spinning in their seats above the crowds, Maisie and her love reached their hands out to each other.
Spinning side by side, trying to touch in the air and warm sun, eyes locked like infatuated angels.
They could never reach the other’s hand.
Maisie awoke, her true love long lost to her, her friends moving on without her as she struggled to beat the brokenness.
Still, she couldn’t reach their hand.
Jocelyn sat on the roof of her house, a bottle of red wine beside her, feeling even more caught between heaven and earth.
Would her lover stay? She’d begun to slip, the fear and paranoia returned, the shadows of a broken mind, a broken heart.
The warmth of her hand in theirs, the solace she felt in their embrace, the sacrament of their kisses, that light could no always extinguish shadows.
Would she become too much for them, too angry, too unsure, too suspicious? Would the deny her those sacraments of affection? Excommunicate her away?
She hugged her knees, let the wine grow warm and bitter. She wanted to be her best. She wanted them to stay.
Spring had brought bright mornings and honey suckle blooms, and she’d take them to that place from childhood, for all was beautiful there.
I think of her as I drift away to sleep, with her long, black hair always in a ponytail, with a few whisping, ghostly greys coming in.
I think of her soft and plump body, round belly and thick thighs and heavy breasts, her khaki shorts and black shirt of her waitress uniform.
I think of her smile, and soft voice, and bright eyes beneath thick glasses, and how she makes my belly flutter, and a sweet tenderness rekindle in me.
Barmaid royalty, I hold onto these things, these sweet and fine feelings, the softness returned to my heart, the love for another, even if unrequited.
The demons have been winning for so long, making me bitter and mean, so like them, but passing moments in a crowded bar brought me back to light.
I think of her, and hope I dream of her and all her angels, all her kindness, and not of my own broken flesh, or the perdition I fear is to come.
I hope love can save me.
I saw a very pregnant mermaid sitting on a jag of ancient and black volcanic rock, in the clear and blue lagoon.
She looked out upon the sea, the endless water, while softly stroking her plump belly. She was sorrowful, and her tears held great wrath.
Her aquamarine tale with it’s rainbow of sparkling scales, was gashed with old scars and some fresher wounds. Her back, too, showed the marks of our war here.
These warm, southern seas, our warships fought and burned and darkened the seas with dead and wreckage and spilled oil.
We knew the merpeople were here, that this was their home since time out of mind, we just hadn’t cared, we’d just carried on as always.
The mermaid turned, and she saw me, and she opened her mouth to howl at me. She twisted her face in hatred and rage, obscene curses of an eternal tongue.
And she was gone beneath the sea, her and her child to be, to her blasted and wrecked home, and I was filled with shame.
Maisie lay upon the roof of the house, outside her bedroom window, the shingles still warm against her back from the summer sun.
She looked up at the thin smattering of stars that could be seen so close to the city. They offered solace and soothing, reminding her of her sweeter childhood.
Out here, she didn’t moon over her true love, or fret over finding another, or feel the emptiness in her arms that closed around no one.
Looking up at the stars, she was angel, above the world and at peace, and even her voices and turmoil might cease.
The Demiurge could not take everything.
Maisie hated talking to Rev. Bradley, even if he’d buy her an RC Cola and a Moonpie for her afterwards, like when she was little.
Rev. Bradley was almost kind, a certain kind of loving, but like the God she’d been taught about in Sunday School and Sermons, he was aloof and distant.
Maisie just let him speak now, his useless admonishment to prayer and to trust in God, all the Christianese he said to anything, that kept him from coming close to her in the darkness.
Her prayers never escaped her head, her heart was never stilled by a holy embrace, all her fears were smugly disregarded by the good people.
They always knew better than you.
Now, with the Rev. gone, and her alone, Maisie sat alone in the church cemetery with her sweating can of soda, and sweet cake, content in the summer sun.
She was alone with her demons, and she feared the future she saw coming. She would have to fight all of it alone, as she always had.
But the cemetery was peace and safety; dead people don’t give you any shit.