Wednesday, March 29, 2023



It’s been more than a year. About ten or eleven months longer. Give or take a few weeks. I thought about posting a year to the date last year, but why should I? It’s not going to make a difference. Time passes whether you are having fun or not. I suggest you choose how to pass the time in a way that works out best for you. I took a year off before & that was harder to do back then. Right now, it wasn’t so hard to take time off and I’m still enjoying my freedom which is hard to explain… you definitely won’t understand what I mean as long as you’re tethered to any daily habit. No judgments. I think everyone has an obsessive habit. 

Habits are tricky things. Good ones are hard to maintain and bad ones are hard to give up. Learning to adapt to change is how you survive. I’ve been though a lot of change, most everyone has, and adapting to the change was rewarding. 

Anyhoo... I’ve written new things and I've edited then rewritten things that I swore were finished. The creative process often leaves me nostalgic, which has presented the thought of sharing something from the vault. This piece is a bit of a continuation of an older short story titled, Reveal. You can read it in a post here

Do you take time off from anything? Was it difficult to quit? How did you feel when returned to it? 

kisses, m. 


“Let your mind wander,” he tells me with a whisper as he leans over my shoulder.

“It’s ok,” I gently rub his arm and look up into his eyes with a smile, “I don’t need her, I have you.”


It’s been several years since I said goodbye to emma. We didn’t part on bad terms. We just parted. I know how he feels about her because of what she did for me creatively. Yet he can’t help but encourage me to write. He knows that part of me is empty and lost floundering without the words even though they remind me of her. It’s funny but since we met, I haven’t lacked for inspiration. He’s everything emma wasn’t, supportive, trustworthy, gentle and kind. He brings balance to the darkness within me and I’ve never taken or used him for inspiration the way I needed her. I don’t need to. He gives to me so freely that I could never betray that trust.


“It’s taking shape well. Has the madman given up on him?”

“No. But, I am finishing the chapter tonight. And as a matter of fact the mad…”

“Don’t tell me!”

“Spoilers!” I nudge him with my arm.


“Quiet, I’ll be ready to read this chapter as soon as you’re done for tonight. Don’t worry about the rough draft and don’t keep me waiting.” He kisses my neck and quietly walks back across the room. It’s 3am but he’s still awake. I don’t mind him waiting while I work. In fact, I think I’ve come to enjoy it. Sometimes he works, sometimes he watches me while pretending to read and sometimes like tonight, he goes through old letters that accumulated at the PO Box.


“Anything good?” I giggle.

“Get back to work,” He playfully tosses an envelope at me. “Holy f---! Christine’s getting married!”

“No way! I thought they weren’t serious a few weeks ago. You told me…”

“I know but things change. They want you to shoot their Save the Date photo based on a old snapshot of yours. Is your camera still…” he trails off while reading the letter.

“What’s wrong?”

“Nothing, it’s just something about the notes she included. I didn’t think they were even that sentimental. Do you recall I mentioned that they didn’t believe in mementos or ephemera last fall when they met at the carnival?”

“Their second date! Yes! Let me see the note and the photo of this mystery man stealing your sister away,” I stop and wait for him to respond. He doesn’t so I resume with the madman’s confession.


After what seems like a half hour, he returns setting a photo next to my right arm along with a magnifying glass.


“Take a look.” He insists and looks like he’s seen a ghost. When he hands me the single photo reminiscent of one you’d see in strip of photos from a booth. I can see a couple kissing without using the magnifier. It’s emma. And me.


“What is this? She’s gone! This can't be recent.” I tell him.

“I thought there were no secrets. No silent things between us. I’ve never minded your former muses and welcomed the past openly in our lives, but if you’re hiding something from me…”

“Why would Christine send this?" I demand not understanding, "This is the photo she wants to copy. I don’t understand. Are you teasing me? I thought you wouldn’t joke about her. Why didn’t you just tell me there was a photo in the mail?!”

“It’s not a joke. This wasn’t from Christine. I don’t know what it is about. But the photo came from the mail and…. You need to look at it again.”

“I know what it is. It’s an old photo of me with emma. But I haven’t seen her in… years.” I am telling the truth but it feels like I’m lying. My ears are on fire, and I’m crying. I miss her and it’s been far too long.

“Yes. That’s what your saying, but I don’t believe you. I thought we were past this” he stares into my eyes with disappointment. “You know, you don’t need her.”

“I know. She’s in the past.” I try to get the words out but I do miss her.

“It’s hard to believe that. Take a look at the date on the back. Use the magnifier.”

“It’s from last month. This can’t be right. I don’t understand.”

“You don’t understand or you don’t want to tell me the truth?”


I stop and wonder if I’ve become the madman and this is my chance to confess my sins. Only I don’t know what to confess. The picture he has looks just like an old one that I distinctly remember we had taken in a photo booth. As I consider that she edited the photo to add the date, I start to realize, the significance of it.


“It’s our anniversary.”

“No it’s not.” He snaps at me and slams the stack of mail down on the table. 

“Not ours.” I say quietly, “It’s mine and emma’s anniversary. We took that photo years ago; the date on the back is our anniversary this year.”

“You’re older in the picture, it's not the same. I have seen the original. You have it in your scrapbook, in the bedroom. This is not a duplicate of that photo. It is another photo taken later in a different place.”

“Please stop! I don’t need to examine a picture to know my own mind. I haven’t seen her… or been with her. I love you. I’m here with you.” I reach to comfort him but he pushes me away.


I’m alone. A feeling I know all too well from my time with emma. Except now, I am desperately begging with the man I love just to believe me.


“Have you seen her while you’ve been with me? Where? Here? Was she in our bed?” He walks into the kitchen and pours himself a neat whiskey while interrogating me.


I start to say no, but something in me stops the words, because it’s a lie. I realize that I know I’ve seen her since he and I have been together. There’s a part of me that doesn’t want it to be true, but it is. So I tell him what I know is true, “she hasn’t been here.”


Like the wonderful muse that she is, emma always creates chaos then disappears.


His anger continues to seethe. “You need to tell me. Whatever this is between you or I’m leaving.”


A flood of nostalgia passes through my mind as I think back to when I saw her last. It was years ago when we’d recreated the photo in my apartment and made it look like a photo booth. I’d only been with him for a few months, long before we lived here. That last night I saw her, she snuck in to my place. I’d never taken her key, and she took it as an invitation to visit. I wrote and she tried to seduce me, but there was no fight or passion that night. She was gone in the morning, slipping out as quietly as she slipped in. I finished my short story and he thought it was because of him. I have never lacked for inspiration with him, but I could never tell him about that last time with her.


Knowing I can’t tell him this,  because of the fight that will ensue, I remind him of my lack of work, “I haven’t written in several months.”


“But you started last week, and haven’t stopped. It’s because of her.”


“It’s because of you. I didn’t even know that photo would be in the mail. What else came with the photo? A letter?”


“A notecard, saying she wants to see you. But does she mean again? You’re hiding. Always hiding how you are.” He pours out the whiskey, slamming the glass down in the sink. He stares at me, like he’s giving me one last chance to confess before going to the bedroom to pack a bag. I don’t want him to go, but I don’t want him to feel like his accusations are acceptable.


Although it seems like it is just a card, in the back of my mind, I know emma has let herself back into my life, disrupted my happiness, and this is a declaration of her intent to stay. Even as I listen to him in the other room slamming drawers and throwing his things around, I know that I have to finish writing. At least complete enough work to get the madman out of my mind so all my rational thoughts will return. I can’t think clearly enough to keep reassuring him or even fight with him to stay while my mind is full. So I set back down to let the madman in, and let my love walk out.


After several glasses of wine, sunrise is nearly upon the horizon, and the madman has confessed then killed again. Coming out of my creative trance, I realize I’m not alone. I hear footsteps crossing the threshold of the living room, “Are you back to apologize?” I speak into the stillness.


“Not unless you make me,” says a voice I haven’t heard in quite some time. “I hope you don’t mind I let myself in yesterday when he picked up the mail.”


“Your note wasn’t in the mail, was it?” I stand and turn around to see my former muse, looking far better than she should.


“No, I dropped it in when he set the letters on the console. He was very trusting to leave the door unlocked when he went to relieve himself.” She says walking toward me until she’s close enough to touch me, then stops. “You know your guest room is far more inviting than it seems.”


“You knew that photo would upset him.” I hiss into her face even though I know better than to provoke her.


Instead of reacting with words, she pulls me against her and whispers in my ear, “I’m not trying to do anything to him. I thought you'd see it before him.

Why are you here?” I try to object and pull away, but she pulls tighter. 

I'm just here to help you. I missed you…. and you know how you get. But he’s wrong, you aren’t hiding anything, anymore.”


I want to give in, because I miss this. I miss her. So I let my hands slide around hers and she leans in to kiss my neck.


“What if he comes back?” I interrupt her slowly moving lips with a twist of my head.


“He won’t.” She says and looks into my eyes. “At least not right now. Always worrying instead of giving into the rhythm of living. You aren’t disappointed he left, or you would have stopped writing.”


I know she’s right, I didn’t stop him from going, just like I don’t really want to stop her from coming back into my life. 

Slowly stepping backwards, she slinks away from me with my glass of wine. “Come, forget your mind, let your heart wander. Let’s talk.”

“But I need to finish…” I try to make an excuse. 

“You’re already finished.” She sits down on the sofa and taps the seat next to her with a smile. 

“Playing the game?" I ask walking slowly towards her, mostly because I think she’s provoking me.

“No, I just like you this way. You’re unveiled and unguarded without your mask. It’s been a long time. We have a lot to talk about.”

Unmasking myself for her was always the fun part of our game. It was ours and no one else's. Removing the mask is unnecessary now because she knows me all too well. There's nothing hidden between us. But she still wants to play.

“Shhh,” I say as I sit down next to her. “Let the feelings and words fall into place. Enjoy the rhythm. They will come when we are ready.”

Just as easily as I let her wander out my heart and my mind, I let emma back in.

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