The mist [short story]

The mist was quite comfortable really, a relief after the scorching midday sunshine the two of them had been walking in for so many hours. Nicer, sweeter, a relief. Or so it seemed to Ella; Kit was not so sure.

Ella opened her arms wide and twirled, shaking loose some of the droplets that had settled in her hair. Grinning wolfishly, she pounced and seized Kit in a bear hug, squeezing the raindrops from her face and clothing onto Kit, making her squeal in dismay. In spite of herself, Kit laughed. And then she regarded Ella seriously.

“Ella, look. Just be careful ok? I feel like I’ve been here before, somehow. I’m just not sure it’s so safe here.”

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What is this

The thing is, other people seem to have things to say. I mostly just like to arrange the words on paper.

And what’s worse is that now I’m aware there’s a formula, or recipe, or something, only I don’t know what it is and I didn’t know I needed one, and now I don’t know how to do the thing that I thought I was already doing, and have since confusedly stopped, and don’t quite know how to start again.

Is there definitely a right way to do it? Am I definitely doing it wrong? What if doing it wrong was my object? Why do I even need to have an object?

Lydia says that you can’t just put something on paper and get people to decide what it means, because that’s lazy. You’re supposed to let people know what things mean.

But what about when singers garble words so that they sound like they could be several words at once? What if I’m just curious? Maybe I want to write in conversations, rather than in bulletins. But then, I suppose that only works if someone responds.

I’ve probably wandered somewhere I don’t quite belong.

I’m staying, though. This is sort of fun.


While crying, some of the punishment washed away.

Some of the anger turned outward
And, as it was fire, it shed some light.

This is a lot, isn’t it?
A reasonable, long-silent voice asked, sounding sad.

A lot?

It is, I suppose. It’s my lot.

Like anyone else’s lot, it counts.

Yes. This is a lot.

Standing up amongst the rubble,

I feel something begin.

A letter to never post – Lady on the bus

Dear Lady on the bus yesterday, the one who was crying,

I’m really sorry I didn’t ask if you were ok. I could see that you obviously weren’t, I mean. And I know you got on the bus near our local cemetery, maybe you were visiting a loved one’s grave and struggling with missing them? Maybe your stupid boyfriend was mean to you and that made you cry, it doesn’t actually matter why you were crying. I could see you were hurting and I really wanted to acknowledge it, to let you know that I saw you and that I cared that you weren’t all right. I’m so sorry that I didn’t. I hope that that didn’t make it worse for you, being among a big bunch of people for a good 20 minutes, none of whom said a single thing to you about it.  Continue reading

Baby, Bathwater

This is something I repeat to myself on occasions when I feel like packing it all in.

When the perfectionist in me suddenly decides that not only is everything unsalvageable and imperfect, but that we must immediately destroy it all (in case we ever get any bright ideas about trying again).

The perfectionist in me isn’t big on logic.

And when it kicks off like this, I calmly murmur “baby, bathwater” as I coax it down from the high place it’s climbed to, persuade it to drop the flamethrower, and gently lead it back into its pen.

I remind myself, in other words, not to throw away the good, the necessary, because of the inevitable (and sometimes, also necessary) bad. Continue reading

Looking Back

It is not a kind thing we do to ourselves – the pretense, or maybe sometimes sincere belief, that what has gone was better than what we have here, somehow.

The psychic distance we glean from the passage of time, and our own forgetting, lets us access the yesterdays without the nuance. Sometimes this is a mercy.

When I was younger, I was happier.
A year ago, things made sense.
I had it so good then, I didn’t even know.

These sorts of thoughts are almost cruel, in the haven they promise, hazy times-gone-by, keenly sweet like a childhood film that touched us; offering solace in a past that isn’t a place, in a thing that isn’t real.

Change is awful.  Continue reading