Yellow Mama Archives II

Michael Steven

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Zimmerman, Thomas
Zumpe, Lee Clark

Heated Awakening

 

Michael Steven

 

    With his head hunched over the sink, Alistair could feel the sweat beading down his neck and making a home under his pits. He splashed a handful of cold water on his face and exhaled. He could still taste the eggs and bacon he had for breakfast on his breath. He leaned back and noticed himself in the mirror and was immediately grateful to have the bathroom to himself. He was red hot and dripping wet, the fluorescent lights only highlighted the look of worry on his face. At 265 and five-foot-eight Alistair was far from a thin man, he was big, too big for his own good as Dr. Sanger said with his own look of worry. You’re old enough to hear it straight. I’m giving you three years, tops. That was three months ago, and Alistair managed to gain six pounds in that time. His stomach did hot somersaults. He put both hands on his belly and rushed to the nearest stall.

    Last week Alistair became the unlucky recipient of the nickname when he had, without knowing, devoured the boss’s birthday cake at the annual meet n’ greet picnic. He told Dr. Sanger about the incident and so he had given him a generous amount of prescription pills and a printed-out meal plan he was to follow to the T, no deviations or supplementing. The more you fiddle with the diet the less effective it becomes. He had dieted hard for the past four days and with no budge on the scale he was frustrated. He bit down on his lip. Should I try him again? His hands made a move for his phone. No, you’re fine, breathe. His throat burned and his chest began to tighten so he gave it a hard thud with the palm of his hand.

“Don’t let em get to you big guy” a voice echoed from the adjacent stall.

    Alistair put his fist to his mouth and cleared his throat “just heartburn is all.” Was he thinking out loud earlier? He suddenly felt flush. Alistair craned his head forward, but it was no use, his enormous belly made it impossible to look under the stall divider.

“No peeking big fella, keep your eyes on your own surprise,” said the voice.

“I..I..I.. ahhhh” he stuttered, rubbing his neck in embarrassment.

“Relax my man, take a deep breath, I’m on your side” the voice assured him.

    Sides, he thought of his mother and the story he told Dr. Sanger during one of their lay down and cry sessions. They were at his uncle’s farm. There was a fence and pigs rolling in shit. His mother looked down and said to him with soft eyes “pick a side or the world will pick for you.” She drew a finger to the fence separating the pigs and his uncle. This was before she changed, before she became the hollow thing. “At some point boy your gonna have to get off the fence and pick a side. Not every side is right, some sides are dead wrong. Your poppa chose the war, I chose you and someday you will choose yours.” Alistair shuddered at his mother’s voice. The dead should stay dead and certainly not heard.

    There was a pause. The echoing sound of a dripping faucet made the silence seem long and drawn out: he thought about his phone, Dr. Sanger, his mother and the incredible heat building in his head. Alistair was almost relieved when the man spoke again, almost.

 

    Dr. Sanger gasped for air when he awoke, throat as dry as sandpaper. He had never had such a vivid dream in his life. He reached around the room in the dark, total darkness, he became very afraid. He held onto his blankets, my blankets, my room, he felt disconnected from reality. He put his head in his hands, he felt the beginnings of a headache coming on. Half his mind felt detached while his other half was here in his room, my room, and like a switch he was back to the present, safe in his bed. For a moment he had forgotten all about the dream. He was awake sitting upright in bed completely confused. He drew his hand to his throat. Jesus, was I screaming? He swung his feet out of bed and went downstairs. He turned on the kitchen faucet, tilted his head for a sip and noticed the blinking light of his answering machine. As a doctor who deals almost exclusively with mental health, he was no stranger to missed calls in the night. Granted in his early years he would have taken these calls by his bedside. His ex-wife put an end to that and when she put an end to the marriage, he had simply gotten used to the idea of it’s not life or death, get it in the morning, and so the phone stayed in the kitchen. A giant red three pulsed on the machine. He hit the button and each message started and ended the same.

“Hey Doc, It’s Alistair. Call me. I don’t feel right.”

    He considered calling back. His hand reached out then suddenly backed away. He thought better of it, after seventeen years of toiling over patient files had he not earned a good night’s rest? Get it in the morning. If he calls later today then he would pick up, it’s not life or death, so let it rest as he should be doing. Dr. Sanger reached above the kitchen stove, took two aspirin with a glass of water and went to bed. Then, the dream.

    He was standing with his feet in the grass and the sun on his face, he felt good. He was at a BBQ or maybe a picnic, yeah it was a picnic. There were lots of people, was it a birthday? He saw a cake full of candles on a picnic table, chocolate cake with sprinkles on a big white plate, birthday, it was a birthday party. He didn’t know these people; their faces were strange and muddy, and their voices buzzed like a swarm of bees. A boy pulled at his shirt, his mouth moved up and down under his blurry face, his voice buzzed in loud loops like a revving engine. The crowd swayed around them, their summer shirts and long sundresses mixing to make a colorful image. A little girl with a pinwheel ran across his feet, her mother gave chase in a snug yellow sundress that hugged tight in all the right places. The boy hooked onto his arm. There were long folding tables topped with various pies and cold salads. A man in bare feet with his hands in his pockets was leaning over a plate of fried chicken, his shirt read WTF where’s the food? The boy tugged again at his sleeve, his mouth moved up and down like a fish. He wanted something, but what? The boy tugged again and pointed into the crowd. There was a spike in the ground, like the ones on cartoons with the big flat top from being sledged in. Tied to the spike was rope and tied to the rope was a pig. Was he the main course? Dr. Sanger felt his stomach tighten. The pig growled like a wolf. Painted in red, on his side, was the number 3. The rope pulled tight, and the pigs mouth bloomed into a wide snarl. The little girl with the pinwheel stumbled into the crowd, her mother dipped below one of the tables in search for her. The rope around the pig’s neck stretched and began to tighten under its hulking shoulders. Shoestrings of snot and drool fell to the grass as the pig bared his teeth and flexed his hind legs. The pinwheel spun and shot little rays of light forcing Dr. Sanger to shield his eyes. The rope cracked like a whip and the pig was loose. He screamed as the pig leapt into the crowd. There was blood and bodies and clothes torn and thrown in every direction. The pinwheel spun in the little girl’s hand as she hid under a nearby table. WTF’s shirt hung around his waist as he lay motionless in the grass. The pig climbed the picnic table, he was covered in mud and guts. The giant red 3 pulsed in the flaming sun. The pig punched a hole in the middle and laid waste to the cake. The boy clawed at Sanger, his buzzing voice dive bombing his head. That was when he woke up.

A mosquito swooped down like a fighter jet and buzzed in his ear, “What the hell?”

    Dr. Sanger swiped at the air, the sun had cut through his bedroom blinds and sent him reeling. What time is it? He glanced at the clock 1:26pm, that was some night but already the dream was slipping away with most of the day. He got out of bed and made his way into the kitchen; he was starving and a little shaken. His answering machine read zero messages and for that he was thankful. He poured himself a large bowl of Wheaties and sat on the couch. It’s a real cooker today, I wonder how hot it will get? The couch was sticky from the baking afternoon sun and would only get hotter as the day went on. Heat like this made people crazy, tempers rose right along with the thermometer and Dr. Sanger knew when people got the heat in their head there was nothing you can do to stop them.

 

    Alistair’s hands felt hot and swollen, the metal on his watch stretched and bit into his fatty wrist, it read 1:30pm. Each slamming hand of the watch felt like a long drawn-in breath building itself up to deliver bad news.

“So, what now?” The man’s voice asked.

    Alistair felt his heart slam into his chest. He went for the bottle of pills in his jacket pocket. “I don’t know what you’re talking about” he replied to the muffled voice on the other side of the stall divider. Alistair fumbled with the child safety lock. His hands were nervous. But he managed to pop the top and dry swallow two pills.

“You know damn right what I’m talking about. Its time to slide your ass off the fence post and pick a side. Like I said, what now?”

    His ears began to burn up. He suddenly felt so stupid, the butt of the joke all over again. Name calling had been nothing new. Kids, just like adults, never grew out of it. A simple joke, harmless to so many and hurt only the few. Those kids sang circles around young Alistair, fatty, fatty two by four couldn’t fit through the kitchen door! They pushed him to the ground and kicked dirt in his face. He always had dirt in his face. Even now sitting in this stall hiding away covered in that same dirt. His mother would haul him by the arm and shove his face into those dirty clothes. Look what you fucking did to your new jean’s piggy! Piggy.... The nickname. Her eyes, they were coming back to him.

    Those black eyes, dark places she would lock him away in. Her eyes, as black as they were, had a sparkle. Little white specks that seemed to shine bright at the height of her torment. My fat little piggy, what do good boys do? she said, with a handful of his skin. The speckles in her eyes danced back and forth with excitement. I said what do good little boys do? Alistair nodded knowing the answer but unable to speak. Her light dimmed and brightened with the rhythm of his heavy breath. That’s right piggy, they eat all their food. And what happens when fat little piggies don’t eat their food? She was so close to him now he could smell her breath and her skin, her Noxzema-soaked hands burned his nose as she forced a spoon of hot mush towards his mouth. You’ll die! The spoon connected hard with his teeth. You’ll die piggy, die! She forced the spoon deep into his mouth, along with her fingers. Her eyes burned white. She was now deep inside him, exploring his mouth like a tentacle, forcing mush down his throat. He choked and gagged as she pulled back and forced another spoonful in. Her eyes glowed like high beams on a truck while something inside manned the wheel. That something liked to watch and now wore his mother like a shell. Mother, Alistair thought, she was dead to him long before he stuck her in the ground.

    Harsh memories were being pulled out of some dark pit of his mind and brought to the front. His head began to boil and jackhammer with pain. They pointed and laughed at him, they made him feel so worthless. His heart went from a sweaty two-step to a cocaine-fueled Mambo that he could feel busting against his chest-plate. The veins in his head pulsed with anger.

“Fuck em” Alistair whispered under his breath.

There was a slight knock on the other side of the divider “What’s that big guy?”

“I said fuck em all!” Alistair snapped, slamming his fists against the dividing wall. He was burning up, he felt nuclear and ready to blow. His nostrils began to burn, that smell.

“Now, what do good little boys do?”

    Alistair pressed his ear to the stall divider, that voice. His head began to nod to the sound of metal sliding and locking into place.

“That’s right, they eat.”

 

    Dr. Sanger glanced over again at the answering machine; his mind tiptoed trying to remember just what his dream was about, but it was too far away now. He turned on the television and began to hunt down the news channel. Was it 13, or channel 6? He couldn’t seem to remember; his head was still fuzzy. With nothing on channel 6 he tried 13, an aerial view of green pastures fills the screen.

    “Let’s face it” a low voice with southern drawl said as the camera panned overtop of rolling green hills and fenced off farmlands. “You could have the best or settle,” a long dramatic pause, “for the rest. Here at Roger’s Sausage, we never settle, and neither should you.” Queue the stereotypical farmers family with straw hats and wheat sticking out of the corner of what he presumed was supposed to be Roger the farmer’s mouth. Pinwheels stuck to the top of each fence post added a flair of color. “Our families expect the best so why not feed them the best. Nothing says America like Roger’s Sausage.” The young daughter and wife hung onto Roger’s arm in matching yellow sundresses, fucking U.S. of A. baby.

The dream was starting to come back to him like the rolling reels of a slot machine: sundresses, pinwheels and oh god…. Jackpot.

Breaking news

Tonight, out of Central Montana where there has been a mass shooting at a business complex. It happened in the town of Ridge Port near the Lucan border. Police say several people were shot and there are reports of multiple fatalities, but they also say the situation has been stabilized. What we don’t know at this hour is how many people were shot and why.

The deceased gunman, Alistair McKay, was in his 40’s and had mental health issues. The FBI and ATF investigators are now combing the scene for clues.

Some of the employees we talked to said “they didn’t know what was going on until at least an hour after the shooting stopped. We just started running, everyone was.”

Kristy Hinks said “people were shouting, shooter shooter. We ran and ducked into a bathroom. I mean, we didn’t know if people were dead or alive, there were people just laying everywhere.” It took more then an hour for Hinks to find out what happened.

Some employees stayed in their cubicles, others remained crouched behind tables and chairs, but no one understood why.

“I knew the shooter. I looked up and saw Alistair coming at me with the gun raised, I thought it was a joke at first, then I didn’t” Ralph said. “He was one of the nicest guys in the office, I can’t imagine why he did this.” When asked what went through his mind, Ralph replied “my family, the thought of not going home tonight to see them.”

Ralph also stated that he learned something that day about Montana and its people. “There is still good in this world, even when it’s at its most evil. People reached out to pull us to safety, they risked their lives for mine and I am just really thankful.”

At tonight’s briefing Mayor Ronald Blair thanked the officer who took down the shooter. I first want to say thank you, a deep thanks to the officer who was able to save lives. I know there are many questions, and I will save them for when we know more at that time.



NIGHTSPEAK

 

Michael Steven

 

    Flesh to bone and back again, death feeds life and with every blemish on her face a new creature is born. We cannot conquer, master, or tame such a beast. To overcome we must abandon our ways and walk and play by nature’s rules. In this place no man has ever stood or cried out of fear, here we are the first.

     I do pray for sleep, like our path it eludes us. My compass has been set upon my hired hand to which I heard he is the best, for that I have become unsure. The mangey hill that overlooks the swampy land beyond disappears as we venture forth, only to return at days end. I have gone as far as to count my strides and leave rocky formations, all of which are no longer present the following day. As if matters could not be more dire, my companion has developed the oddest of nightly habits. He chatters you see. I can hear his tongue and teeth clicking away an awful sound. At times I swear I can hear him just outside my tent wandering the night chattering away. Like a child, my hands grip blankets tight as the seconds tick away. Dawn was near.

    “Morning.” Simon greeted, his mouth full of morning stew that made his words come out wet.

    I returned a nod of agreement. The sun rose steady, its creamy glow laid a soft blanket of warmth giving comfort against Simon’s beady eyes and dark stubble. Sunken, he rocked in his seat looking more insect than man.

    “Did you sleep well?” Simon asked, his mouth now empty, voice sounding hoarse.

    Hoarse indeed, perhaps my companion’s throat has fallen victim to his own chatter. “Did you not hear the commotion?” I asked, hoping to shed light on the situation.

    Simon stirred his stew a bit, keeping his eyes down. “Commotion? Can’t say I did. Slept right through the night I’m afraid.” He broke eyes with his meal, “perhaps a dream?”

    “Perhaps.”

    With the sun hanging low in the sky, we thought best to pack camp while the day air still cool. Civilization according to the map was seven miles due north through thick brush, this news would have been welcomed if not for earlier failed attempts. Simon revealed that ‘we should arrive at Ft. Jackson by midday. Long before the night falls’ but this, like before, held little weight. The forest thick, pressed our shoulders like the weight of the ocean, claustrophobic and exhausted we ventured forth. Only feet away he would dart in and out of sight only to reappear to my left then again to my right, he was all around me and yet nowhere to be found. Ancient trees with their long branches tore holes and jagged scars in our clothes, their wandering fingers felt purposeful as if to deter us from moving further, yet we pressed forward, and I too pressed my question.

    “Are you feeling well?” I could not see his face, only his torn pants and shirt were visible.

    “Well? I feel fine, why do you ask?” His shirt rippled in the wind but there was hardly a breeze.

    “Your throat this morning.”

    Simon returned silence; his shirt continued to dance in the breezeless forest air. Something lay hidden, almost visible through the gashes in his shirt. Things with far too many legs and eyes crawled on his skin I am sure of it. I could almost see them scurry in and out of his torn flaps. There for a moment but gone before I could catch sight. His body had become an upturned log, a hiding place for the forest floor. I feared his presence, yet I needed him. Simon’s head bowed from side to side before craning up towards the falling sun. His body creaked like old boards as his bones became too big for his skin, it was a horrible sight. Then it began, his teeth clicked away a dreadful tattoo that stirred the nature of the forest. A spider spun strange geometry above my head as if to catch the very sounds radiating from Simon’s mouth. Two birds fought mid flight as something large in the distance called our attention with outreached hands. I felt faint, my eyes rolled back, I staggered and clung to the nearest tree. Simon turned on his heels, his eyes now colorful flowers blinking with every exhale of his sunken chest.

    I reached out a hand “Stop, please stop.” Pointless my pleads became as Simon picked up pace in my direction, the pedals on his face blinked rapidly. I fell to one knee with outreached hands, “No!” my screams echoed as the pounding of feet in soft dirt closed in. I shielded my eyes as darkness took hold.

    I awoke in night; the day had passed without me. Simon sat on a rock toying with small branches, his face sullen and wandering. A dream is all, I took comfort here and simply fell asleep. “Simon? Where are we?” my voice soft and confused.

    He pointed to a path of moonlit darkness. I squinted trying to shake my hazy mind. Just through the break in trees the hill appeared. Its wide shoulders and deep crevices displayed a ghastly face with little emotion.

    We were back to where we started, there was at this point no where left to run, another day walking in circles with no hope of salvation. I gathered to my feet and dusted myself off, “Now what?” I feared his answer.

    “We make camp.” Simon replied with an empty tone. His now relaxed shirt brought no comfort.

    The thought of another night in the shadow of the hill brought gooseflesh and cold waves of anxiety. My mind, like Simon, had begun to spin towards madness. The moon bloomed with howling dogs that rattled my tent or were they cries of children? Night transformed simple things into unfamiliar creatures. I peered at my companion’s tent, it flexed and released like a lung echoing sounds of grinding teeth. His dreadful words were incoherent, I either could not understand or choose not to.

    I cried out “Simon!” The air became electric, the hairs on my arms and neck stood tall. I turned my gaze to the sky and cried out again, “Please God Simon!” My words lost on the moonlight highway.  

    Large, serrated clouds pregnant with lightning now loomed eerily atop the hill. The horrors I saw brought new fear to this place. Twisted shadows caught starlight and gave shape, savages danced on the ridge to the workings of Simon’s tongue and teeth. Man is the only animal to hide its nudity, yet these beasts danced as bare as the moonlight on their skin. I reverted my eyes to a flash of lightning that set the hill ablaze. Flames roared. An orgy of hands reached the heavens. Golden hair gave birth from flaming tips, its body now faces swallowing the hill and night sky. Tilted they did, turned and fed on each other’s mouths in a long kiss.

    Simon appeared at my side, his eyes sparkled silver in the night, breath hot as he chattered in my ear. I tried to pull away but like the clashing clouds and thunderous sky I drew near. He spoke of the world as if it were sentient. “We come from it and not it from us,” his hand pointed to the masquerade of creatures “we are no less natural than those who dance in the shadows. Flesh to bone and back again, God will hold your soul within the seed of life and from it a forest will grow.” Simon beckoned to the hill “the fire will cleanse this land and bring us back to the beginning, and so the cycle will continue.”

    My jaw grew tense and tongue new form. Simon’s starry eyes washed over me and so my teeth began to chatter as his did those dreadful days ago. My mind began to bend leading me to thoughts of a great oasis and words never possible and so I spoke with ease in this strange fashion “lead the way.”



Trans/figure

 

Michael Steven

 

 

    He’s here, always. He’s handsome, devilishly so. He’s dangerous and dirty. Delicious. Delightful and deranged. I need to get away from him. They say you can’t run away from yourself. I try, but he’s here looking down on me, whispering ‘Beth.’

    There’s no escape. He arrives at night, arms wrapped around me. Throwing me to the bed, hand around my throat. I want his lips, but I cannot have them. He forces me down. I want it, all of it. I push him away, but he returns, tighter. Forceful. He wants the belt; I know he does and so do I. His hands, rough, pin my shoulders back, deep into the bed.

    Morning comes, he’s gone. Damp bangs fall to my eyes, hair matted and rough at the back. Throat tight, bruised, arms ache and chest ravaged. My clothes, scattered like a picked over yard sale. The belt worn and faded, silver buckle stained red, sits discarded on the floor like a coiled viper. I cover my body with one arm as the other reaches for something, anything to cover the damage. A robe, virgin white on the outside and gored on the inside, we are what we wear, and I wear it well.

    Makeup: cover up, blush, eyeliner, dark colors, hair down, cover, undercover. Work is a cover. The house, shoes, friends, the way I laugh, all a cover. Hidden behind a computer at work with walls, hammering bruised fingers into white keys, dull. The days are as dull as the night is frightening. Would I trade one for the other?

    Home: lock the door, keeps strangers out. Locking the door only keeps the stranger in, close, at arms reach. I want the makeup off to assess the damage. Dull lights glow a sick yellow on my skin. Sick, if only there were a pill I could take and not a bullet. Could I get a prescription for a bullet?

    Our eyes are the same, his and mine. Dark chestnut browns flutter from side to side. I feel his eyes, always, they wash over my scarred skin like a dirty rag. When will he arrive? I feel him coming, not now but soon.

    I tidy the house, busy work to keep my mind at ease. Fold clothes, scattered remains of a harsh night. The belt he will find, no sense in tucking it away, he always finds it. It’s late but not too late. What if I went out, would he show up? One night wouldn’t matter, one night leads to another and another. My tongue flicks and mouth waters.

    A knock at the door. Someone I know, not him, but who? Strangers ring bells, friends knock. Should I let them in? What if he shows up? Last time it got ugly, last time should have been the last time. Another knock. Answer it, just shoo them away but answer it.

Henry stands in her doorway with a bottle of wine cradled in the pit of his elbow. She always thought Henry was handsome in the way a new dad is handsome. Reliable, stable, cooks dinner, makes love, dull but handsome.

“Henry? What are you doing here?”

“Well, it’s Friday and Tyson is already in bed so I thought maybe you would wanna?” rocking the wine back and forth in his arm like a new baby. “Unless of course you’re busy?”

He shouldn’t be here; he can’t be here. Send him away happy if you can but send him away. He’s cute yes, very cute in the fading sun. Would one drink be so awful? Perhaps a drink or even a few would lessen the later blows. “I’m busy. But I think I could squeeze you in.”

    Henry pours two glasses half full and swirls them around like he might know what he is doing. He does not know what he is doing. The kitchen is neutral ground. Sit across from one another, talk politely, discuss neighbours, discuss his neck and how it sticks out when he leans back for a sip. His neck; my belt, his body, my blood, his blood, our danger.

My arms prick with numbness, my ears ring with soft whispers “Beth” the voice calls “Bethany.” He’s coming.

I stand quickly against the kitchen table, knocking the glasses and a half bottle of wine to the floor. “You have to leave Henry.” My eyes strong push the information hard against him. He looks scared, he should be scared.

    His reply muffled by the sound of my feet connecting with the floor and the dull voice in my ear as I bolt for the bathroom. That dull voice dimming and glowing, dimming and glowing, soft then loud then louder until it makes me beat against my head to make it stop.

    I strip off my shirt, then bra, pants and anything else holding in the immense heat from my skin. My shoulders are soft and slim, riddled with blonde peach fuzz that dances on gooseflesh skin. My arms and elbows milky white from lack of sun, bruised slightly but still feminine with dainty curves. This is where my body ends and his begins. Powerful, leathery tanned forearms, covered in black coarse hair, bulge above my now giant hands. Not my hands, these are his hands, the hands of my tormentor. They reach for me, but I pull away, I know what they want.

    Henry is at the door, pounding furiously, screaming furiously. I cannot answer. I fear my voice will come out deep and vulgar, he weaves himself through me. Those hands, his hands, Hyde’s hands, now reach for the door. I can fight but not for long. I bite down, he loves it, he wants more. Pain is pleasure and how he loves to pleasure me. Fingers, his and mine, trace and pull at my skin. Around my neck and walking slowly inside my mouth. They pull and pry my mouth apart, one finger then two then many more. I choke back the wandering hand as I press my lips tight and force him out as he forces himself back inside. Inside, he is now outside as he bursts back through the bathroom door.

    Glasses shatter, tables turn and screams echo for help, no help will come, no help has ever come. Henry hides in horror as the muscle-bound hands pull and claw and drag him away. Kicking and screaming like a child, I was once that same child, he begs helplessly as the bedroom door slams behind him, behind us.

    I have lost control; I have lost the fight. Henry lies sprawled and bloody on the bed. Like a dog he awaits his command. He must obey or the belt he will get, I have seen it, I have done it. I become hot and flush and eager. Some part of me begs for punishment. Perhaps it is he who sparks this fire or perhaps he and I, these hands are more the same then I care to believe. The belt slips through the clasp and I moan with excitement and fear. I allow it around my neck. The length of the belt reaches and wraps around the pillars of the headboard. He and I pull down tight with leverage and feel the belt bite into my neck. I buck my hips as the tormentor’s free hand grasps the back of Henry’s head and pulls him in deep. His mighty hand and thick forearms grab without mercy as Henry gives up the will to fight his way out.

    Henry will join the others. Used and useless now, we have taken all we can from this dull man. The hands will discard him. Away he will go into tiny pieces, scattered among the others out back. Will his son know that each walk to school he brushes as close as anyone could against his father’s remains. Will he ever know that, I or us, forced him down and used all that he had to offer. That I will always offer a friendly smile in the day and a hidden toothy grin at night. None have.

    These hands, dirty and delicious, carry deranged thoughts and perverse delights. He’s here, always. I know what he wants, and I want them. They say you can’t run away from yourself. I try, but he’s here with me and I am with him too.



Michael Stevens’s stories have been published in Yellow Mama and Black Petals. Suffering from chronic anxiety and night terrors, Michael has found comfort in writing. It was through telling stories he was able to unburden himself of the fears that plague his sleep. What had started as a sort of therapeutic release has now been a 3-year journey of telling stories. With a nightmare journal bursting at the seams, he sees no end in sight.

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