Bullet Journal

One, two, three, four…  A small walk down to the streetcar stop kicked off Laura’s daily routine; her mind acted as its own entity and counted each one of her steps, avoiding the cracks in the pavement altogether. Specific holes in which dying weeds protruded evoked a frown from the peculiar girl, one nuisance of many that she would come across as the day proceeded. If she could somehow sweep and scrub the sidewalks of her town and keep them squeaky clean, she would.

 

The trolley nearly made her head spin, Stranger after stranger gripped the rusting poles and sat upon the wooden seats as if they could not feel the germs crawl over their bodies. Each morning, she equipped herself with a pack of sanitary wipes and hand sanitizer, using it religiously throughout the day. Albeit these did not mean as much to her as her bullet journal, she kept them close by her side with an unbreakable ardor.

 

The streetcar’s rickety path did not hinder Laura from further organizing her journal. She kept a itinerary that was set in stone; she’d guard that schedule with her life. A normal first impression of the uptight girl came with a sense of intimidation. Just watching her as she smoothly wiped down her seat before sitting and began to scribble neatly onto the pages of her journal left the other civilians with a nagging feeling that their life was an absolute mess, or at least, compared to hers it was.

 

Within the walls of each classroom, Laura’s professors looked upon her with great pleasure. They felt as if they had accomplished many things with her in particular, even though she had been this high-strung prior to middle school. The other students, however, developed the opposite perception of the young girl. Jealousy was the best word for it. As Laura recorded her sleeping schedule each day before the lecture began, squinted eyes and jutted out chins watched her, knowing smirks and snickers exchanged throughout the room.

 

Laura was not completely isolated and antisocial, but her close friends knew to keep their distance and abide by the tenets of her busy schedule. At a request for her to attend any type of social gathering, her fingers would flip through her journal and slide down to the specific date, followed by a solemn head shake, pointing to her plans which were mapped out months ahead. Study, exercise, study, sleep. Her guard was never let down.

 

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Character Development

 

Standing at a whopping 6’1”, the people around her could not help but outcast Fran right off the bat. Her fine, silky hair and ivory skin combined to evoke envy within her fellow female classmates; this resulted in a backlash like no other. In response to this, she resorted to books as a coping mechanism at a young age. As the years passed by, she quickly became thoroughly acquainted with nearly every book available at her local library; this warm place became her home. Dark circles made their home underneath her eyes due to late nights paired with an adventure or two locked within the pages of her current read.

Karma stood on Fran’s side as she grew older. Her senior year, she graduated as valedictorian and received an abundance of acceptance letters from universities that her mother described as “best school”, her finger jabbing into the paper, a slight smile on her face.

 

Ken Krueger’s appearance is that of an average, middle-aged, suburban father; this is what he appeared to be at first glance from all of his neighbors and fellow church-goers. His ability to relay an extreme array of puns at almost any time conveyed adoration from nearly everyone that acquainted themselves with him.

However, things are not always as they seem. Ken’s addiction developed at a very early age. Pringles were always available within his household. As he grew older, the addiction grew more severe. A basic supply of Pringles was no longer enough to sustain his hunger. Ken needed more. It began as simple theft; grocery stores, gas stations, etc.

Then, one evening, Ken spotted two cans of Pringles resting in the hands of his beloved neighbor. Peeking over the edge of the fence separating them, he waited for the perfect moment to seize his delicious drug. Gaining more stamina than that of a normal middle-aged man, Ken hopped over the hedge in one swift motion and pounced onto the back of his unsuspecting neighbor. With little to no struggle, he pushed the weakling indoors and proceeded to lock the door behind them, his clammy claws clinging to the Pringles can.

He could not help himself. His fingers ripped the top off of the can and he began devouring the scrumptious snack while simultaneously beating the family with the other metal can. This routine continued for years to come, the small town unsuspecting that he could be the infamous “Petrifying Pringle Phantom”.

 

The young girl grew up being known as “Cynical Sarah”. Very early on, she knew that she’d rather be alone than with anyone else. It’s not that she was an extreme introvert, or that she was extremely timid to the point of awkwardness; she simply did not enjoy being around people. Her cat is the only one she kept by her side throughout the years. The animal developed a sense of cynicism exactly like her; which is why they got along so well.

As she proceeded into adulthood, she grew more and more lonely, which then developed into a fiery pit of hatred deep within her for nearly all of her college peers. She did not stay in a dorm, instead making the conscious decision to buy an apartment right away and live alone, the only exception for a roommate being her cat.

The Summer I Was Sixteen Vignettes

 

I discovered poetry hidden underneath crevices

With the pennies between the couch cushions

Drying along my skin with the sea salt

Dripping off of his eyelashes

 

Dry, sticky air whisked me into it’s embrace, unknowingly sparking my desire to remain cooped up in my bedroom equipped with half-empty water bottles and peeling, yellow wallpaper. My eyes stayed trained on the moribund walls, sweat beading along my skin in tiny droplets of despair. On a particularly dusty afternoon, my mother made her way into my hectic space; her adornments hung on her in threes for “good luck”, three necklaces, three bracelets, three rings on her first three fingers. Her eyebrows knit together at the sight of my languid face. I had torn various pages of prose and pretty words out of books, tacked them onto my walls, scattered them about and wrote them on my hands which begged to see sunlight. An earthquake erupted in her voice as she told me this world is made out of sugar. It can crumble so easily, but don’t be afraid to stick your tongue out and taste it. I knew the quote well, fought the urge to find it among my bookshelves, and let the flick of her hand pull me up and push me into the blistering sun.

 

Cool water beckoned me and I shed my pale, fifteen skin

Freshly pricked by rose thorns

We spoke in a new language of stifled giggles,

Fingertip touches, accidental

 

Chlorine burned my nose with it’s unique aroma and worked with the sunshine to bleach my hair back to it’s usual, bright blonde. Everything seemed to fit me in the wrong way. My mother’s light touch made it’s way across the outline that which the freckles on my shoulders formed, each of us dragging along two towels and the courage of a lion. Fighting for a chair at the community pool was World War 3 in our minds. Oily girls and sunburnt boys lined the water as it’s waves splashed up to my ankles. Talk of weekend plans and shiny hotdog stands buzzed in my ears with the honeybees, an obnoxious magazine resting in my fingers, a collection of poems hiding behind it. The soft afternoon wind blew in my newfound hobby of peeking over the brim of my sunglasses at boys, something I would have scowled at last summer. Slipping into the deep end, the water wrapped itself around me and in turn pulled my swimsuit closer to me, earning an eye roll from the brand new attitude that I wore like armor nowadays. A pair of squinty eyes and a red face made his way over to me; my head spun like a whirlpool.

 

Sticky gel alleviated mosquito bites, sunburns,

Bumblebee stings alike

Twilight– one sip of alcohol, only one

My mother floated everywhere in a day

 

On a Wednesday, he took my hand

A late night picnic paired with smiling stars

And the mundane moon, hiding behind unseen mist

My bare feet tangled damp grass

 

Nighttime was my favorite. Air conditioning swept against my blistered and battered skin, alleviating my aching bones like a panacea. Moonlight crept through my windowsill and tugged at my eyelashes, beckoning me to come and see all he had to offer, the stars scattered around the clear sky like Dippin’ Dots. A rare smile spread across my face without effort and soon I found myself, jean shorts and all, in the backyard chasing after fireflies and soon after, catching his hand instead.

 

Gas station slushies, an unlocked treasure

The girls stood tall, walking stormclouds of sunscreen

And sass, pinkies locked with a whispered oath, I swear to never forget

The summer we were sixteen

 

A bit more than halfway through summer, fortunate girls received their licenses along with a pair of keys and a heap of trust. Adventures were handed out like candy, the sweetest of them all. Our hands reached for the sun, waved at passing boys and covered our mouths as we giggled into them. Arms linked, we took Summer by the collar and made it our own.

 

The Summer I Was Sixteen

I discovered poetry hidden underneath crevices

With the pennies between the couch cushions

Drying along my skin with the sea salt

Dripping off of his eyelashes

 

Cool water beckoned me and I shed my pale, fifteen skin

Freshly pricked by rose thorns

We spoke in a new language of stifled giggles,

Fingertip touches, accidental

 

Sticky gel alleviated mosquito bites, sunburns,

Bumblebee stings alike

Twilight– one sip of alcohol, only one

My mother floated everywhere in a day

 

On a Wednesday, he took my hand

A late night picnic paired with smiling stars

And the mundane moon, hiding behind unseen mist

My bare feet tangled damp grass

 

Gas station slushies, an unlocked treasure

The girls stood tall, walking stormclouds of sunscreen

And sass, pinkies locked with a whispered oath, I swear to never forget

The summer we were sixteen

 

Who Lives, Who Dies, Who Tells Your Story?

“Who lives, who dies, who tells your story?”

 

Pieces of the sky fell upon her pale skin in the form of snowflakes, an inward cringe erupting in her in response to the harsh, cold air. She had always been a summer girl, basking in the rays as if they were a spotlight shining only for her. Winter inclined her to become a sort of hermit, living underneath the protection of cotton blankets and hot chocolate.

 

However, winter never hindered her from her usual routine of rebellion. As her best friend’s car skidded across her driveway, she shook her head in awe, wondering how she had arrived in one piece after driving along the icy roads in their small New England town. Nightfall crept up behind her as she made her way toward the vehicle, the headlights exposing numerous falling flakes of snow. Slipping into the passenger seat, an aroma of alcohol and narcotics filled her senses immediately.

 

She thought nothing of it. Her strong willed and determined best friend had managed to drive them home safely after countless parties late at night. Her senses were foggy, yet she had always conjured up enough seriousness to spare them of an accident.

 

Immediately devoting her attention to the radio, the thought of a seatbelt never crossed her disoriented mind. The backseat eventually became occupied with numerous other girls, cocktail dresses, perfume, and lipstick alike. Obnoxious giggles were hardly audible underneath the stereo, windows rolled down for the effect, no matter how cold it was.

 

It didn’t take long for the girl to notice that all of her friends were plagued by various levels of drunkenness and she was the only one that had managed to stay sober throughout the night thus far. Reaching underneath her seat, her fingers gripped a small flask and soon enough the harsh liquid was making it’s way down her throat, leaving her with a fuzzy feeling and an indolent smile.

 

For one moment, everything seemed to freeze. In the most literal sense, the half-sober girl looked out of her window at one single snowflake falling, it’s edges seeming to twinkle just for her. Headlights came into view, paired with a sound of utter chaos. And then, darkness.

 

Amore Dolet

“…Love hurts,” his solemn stance on the subject filled the room with those simple words, hitting her like a smack in the face; yet she couldn’t help but smile.

 

 

Her hands ached and she silently cursed herself for writing long into the crisp autumnal twilight, her thoughts flowing like wine onto the pages, leaking without a sign of letting up. She felt things heavy, feelings never came easy and in a moment of turmoil all she could think of was the poetic nature that which she would hold tightly in her hands and splatter along empty pages later on. Sleep was a hopeless feat in this stage of her compulsive obsession.

 

Taking a small second to pop her fingers and feel the appreciation they spewed out over her calloused hands, the young college student leaned back onto her thrift shop sofa, the only piece of furniture in her bedroom besides a dirty mattress lying on the cold floor. The dim room lit only by the stars above suddenly felt smaller than ever as she thought back to the early morning. The early moon looked down and her laughed. Her eyes closed, slowly, so that she could tune him out.

 

It had been an unusually and harshly cold Tuesday morning, frost forming on the tips of her hair and the edges of her smile as her feet carried her out of the front door, causing her to clumsily run to her car. Tuesdays were the best days. The sky could throw rain, lightning, even hail her way, and she would set it aside to grieve over on Wednesday morning. The agony of Wednesday was much like the day after Christmas, leaving her longing for more.

 

On Tuesdays, she met with her favorite living poet. She was something of a protege; her only reason to keep writing. Sure, the poet was bitter, old, and always smelled of mothballs… but his words. Losing count after years of reading and rereading his published works, her generous life had granted her the opportunity of finding that he dropped in to her college often to conjure up speeches and seminars for the struggling, youthful writers. Mostly because he received payment, but that was besides the point. Nearly hunting him down to the point of harassment, he had finally agreed to take her under his wing. For that, she was eternally grateful.

 

They met at his small cottage home by the frozen lake wherein he lived alone, the indoors a mess of shredded papers and ballpoint pens, paper clips used for anything but paper, and himself: the biggest mess of all. She woefully attempted not to pity that he hadn’t been published in almost a decade. It had turned him cold-hearted. He spent most of her days spewing out ridiculous pieces of advice that which she tried to collect, but to no avail. She longed for him to read her work, review it, tell her what she was doing so wrong that she hadn’t won some sort of award yet.

 

As soon as she stepped through the front door without knocking, her mind begged her to turn the other way. Something is wrong here, something is different, get out. Her body stayed put, yet she cleared her throat unusually loudly and called out for her mentor. He invited her into his study, a room she had never been granted access to prior.

 

The study was warm and inviting, maps of the world plastered along the cream colored walls and a leather, brown couch sitting before his desk. She was keen to the design, yet it reminded her of a therapist’s room. She sat without being told to.

 

That’s when she caught sight of it; her work was splayed all over his desk. A gulp ran down her throat and she chased it with a hiccup, trying to hide her anxiety coating the situation. His rasp of a voice began to speak, yet she could hardly hear him. Her world spun upside down, so she thought, making note to use that cliche line within her writing later. Mud oozed down the walls of the enclosed space they shared, her fingertips reaching out to touch it, letting it run over her fresh skin. Her fists clenched with agitation.

 

“Emilia?”

 

She snapped out of her little nightmare and stared into his cold, harsh eyes; stubborn tears formed in her own, making everything seemed disoriented and foggy. She nodded with forced politeness, her mother’s voice ringing in her brain and reminding her to respect her elders. She fumbled with a lie between her teeth of needing to be somewhere else, quickly rising from her chair and gathering her work off of his desk. He attempted numerous times to get her attention back, that what he really meant was… yet she ignored him with all her might.

 

How could this man that which she idolized nearly to the point of blasphemy tell her that she wasn’t meant to be a writer? How could he place himself high and mighty above her when he was once in her position? His words pulsed with an attempt at comfort, relieving her of nothing. He told her she simply did not have enough life experiences yet, that she needed to go out and meet people rather than remaining the “homely hermit” she was.

 

After swinging the door open and beginning her dramatic exit, she felt a rough hand on her arm. The warmth of his skin seeped through the cotton of her sweater and she momentarily paused, wishing to hear his last words before she embarked.

 

“…Love hurts, Emilia.”

 

Not five minutes later she found herself in a downtown area she had never explored. The streets were nearly cobblestone and the shops looked threateningly aged, a complete wasteland topped with peeling paint and burnt out lights. The overcast sky did it’s job to make it seem even more gloomy. A tattoo parlor had to be here.

 

With a ding to celebrate her entrance, she made her way into the smoky space and cringed inwardly at the loud metal music hanging in the air. A large man looked down upon her with the question of her desire.

 

“Amore dolet,” her voice came out soft at first, thinking back to her minor in Latin and her constant use of it within poetry, something the bard had always labeled as cliche and try-hard. She then nodded, as if reassuring both him and herself. “Amore dolet, on my back.” Another cliche; meant for where he had stabbed her. The pain she endured to permanently stain her skin would be worth it.

The Concert

A Double Sonnet

 

Faded faces blurred into one within the crowd, each one standing tall to be seen

His camera shuttered and switched, floating through thin air, capturing the band and more

My eyes followed him with sugar pouring out of my brain, my friends dance as I lean

Away from the sweaty bodies, away from the crowd, arms dangling toward the floor

 

Violet strobes of light poured over my face, I felt them sweep across my cheeks, slowly

Reaching out to others, yet then the single soul behind the lense, eyes on the crowd

Turned and tipped his camera as if it were his own hand, his own body, unholy

Words spewing into my ears, lyrics of a song unknown; metaphor of a cloud

 

I pushed the poor cliche on the floor, let it roll over to him like a love note

Thinking surely it would knock him down, yet he kept pressing on and on, due to the

Determination which washed the walls he built around himself, voice caught in his throat

Yet then his camera dangled, twisted, turned toward me; I faced the stage, enigma

 

Near midnight I found my way outside, raindrops taking me in their embrace, but then

The camera next to me lowered, sifting through photos of me, smiling once again