Meeting Chuck Palahniuk

IMG_0953Way back in 2013, when my husband and I first got together, he introduced me to Fight Club, which led to an almost immediate obsession with the man behind it: Charles (Chuck) Michael Palahniuk. As someone who’s obsessed with psychological movies with crazy twists, it was only natural that I wanted to find out more about the author. So, I looked a little more into him and bought my first novel: Diary – which follows a young artist who “finds herself in pawn in a larger conspiracy that threatens to cost hundreds of lives.” Needless to say, the book itself was enough to follow through with my research on him, which all started with:

Where does he get his ideas? What genre is he writing for?

So, after finding the answers to these, Chuck quickly became a staple in my life. I started researching everything about him and it wasn’t long before I learned that the man behind all of the novels was actually a pretty great guy. For his novels, he gets his ideas from actual people and situations in his life. Then, he actually gives credit where credit is due and acknowledges where he got his information from. Luckily, all of his ideas fall under the transgressive fiction genre because they’re not for the faint of heart.

Including Chuck, there are only 6 other authors in the entire genre, and Chuck quickly made his way into the same genre as his idol Bret Easton Ellis. Now, the primary idea behind transgressive fiction is to break societal norms and push against them. The narrators aren’t usual people, they don’t have filters, and Chuck creates plots that are twisted enough that you want to keep going. Well, with the introduction of Fight Club 2 (his first graphic novel), the group that religiously followed him quickly became known as “Chuckleheads,” and I’m honored to be a part of them.

To refrain from sounding a like a creep, meeting him became one of my bucket list goals. After diving into the world of Chuck, I decided that I had to meet the man behind the mass amounts of transgressive fiction on my shelves. So, after building up quite a collection of his books (22/25), following his web-page, and finding an event going on in Denver on Facebook, my husband and I finally got to meet him.

On February 16, 2019, my husband and I decided that meeting Chuck would make the perfect Valentine’s Day date. Over the past six years, we’d usually just go out to eat, or maybe make a day of it, but this year, we got to meet our idol. Chuck is not only a staple in my life, but he’s also a staple in my husbands. So, we woke up earlier than usual and went to I Want More Comics in Thornton, CO. They were celebrating their 10-year anniversary by having Chuck and other artists in their store. Which, I’m not entirely sure how they managed to get him there, but I’m extremely glad they did.

Now, Thornton is anywhere from an hour to two hours away from where we reside depending on traffic, so we couldn’t have gotten there right when it started with my husband being on night-shift, so we arrived a little later. Luckily, they had a system going. When you walked in, you got a ticket stub with numbers on it and they called 10 people to stand in line at a time. So, by arriving a little late, we managed to get a measly two-three hour wait time. Although, I guess it’s only measly depending on the event you’ve signed up for. Needless to say, those two-three hours were filled with anxiety, and we managed to go eat lunch and buy stuff for my reading nook from a nearby Target.

 

After the wait was over, we nervously got in line to meet him. Obviously, in my excitement, I had to document almost every step with photos:

While in line, I thought about all the things I wanted to say to him. How he’s become such a huge inspiration to me, how I dedicated an entire blog to his works, and how I was a writer as well, but when I finally got up to him, I was star-struck. So star-struck that I could barely speak. We got up to him, shook his hand, introduced ourselves, and he signed quite a bit. There was so much going through my head that I just didn’t know what to say to him. Everything that I rehearsed in my head ended up completely disappearing. THE Chuck Palahniuk was standing in front of me, and I actually shook his hand.

Luckily, I brought something to give to him  – my digital drawing of an Archerized Chuck.

IMG_0962.jpg

With the drawing, also came his birthday the following week. So, I asked him, “Isn’t your birthday next week?” like a total creep and finally gave him the drawing. It was pretty cool because he said he’d set it in his office, where all his other fan-art is, but what was cooler was how casual he was about me knowing his birthday. All he said was, “ya know what, it sure is” and took the drawing. If a year ago, anyone told that my drawing would end up in the hands of Chuck himself, I would’ve said they were crazy, so the very idea that it actually ended up with him is pretty amazing.

During the whole debacle of my mind going completely blank, he signed a few books, my laptop cover, and gave us two of his infamous severed arms (pictured below).

Then, after the long wait, the signings, and the awkward discussion, we got to take photos with him. Now, when you take photos with Chuck, they’re not the usual “stand here, say cheese” kind of photos. Chuck makes the whole thing an experience and he poses you in a very particular way. Well, for my photo (that was at the beginning of this), I chose the choke pose, where he was supposed to “choke” me in a photo. However, with Chuck being as ripped as he is, instead of pretending to choke me, he accidentally cut off my airway a little. So, I literally got choked by Chuck. For my husbands stance, he chose the fighter pose, where they pretended to fight. Chuck posed him to a point where his feet were aligned in the specific way he wanted, and he had my husband flex and look at the camera.

After we left I Want More Comics and Chuck, I was still reeling. I couldn’t shut up the entire way home and I immediately edited and posted all of the photos, told all of my friends about it, and frankly I still can’t believe it happened. Now, I’m not sure what else happened that day, but I’m pretty sure we ended the night with Red Robin burgers and ended up back home playing video games. Needless to say, this was the best Valentine’s Day we’ve ever had, and my new goal is to meet him again so I can actually pick his brain like I wanted to initially. To me, Chuck is an enigma. His works are mind-bending, full of twists, and 100% totally original, one can only hope that one day I can finally sit down with him over a cup of coffee after I publish my own novel.

 

 

Getting to meet Chuck was one of the best days of my life next to meeting Dance Gavin Dance (read about that here), and it wouldn’t have been possible without our big move to Colorado back in 2016. 

Contact

You Can Keep Up With Me On These Sites!

Blogs:

AllBee There For You – A psychology-based advice blog on real situations. 

Keeping Up With A SkillingsMy personal blog on all of my projects and posts about my life.

If The Review Fits – My book review blog.


Etsy:

Danielle Skillings Art – You can purchase all of my art here!


Instagram:

@allbeethereforyou – An IG platform for my advice blog.

@themeowseveltclan – An IG specifically for our animals.

@keepingupwithaskillings – My personal blogs’ IG, full of bookish posts.

@stretchears.notvaginas – My personal IG.

@allbeedamnedphotog – Mine and my husbands’ photography page on IG; he takes them, I edit. 


Facebook – pages are synced through Instagram: 

AllBee There For You

Keeping Up With A Skillings  

AllBee Damned Photography

Danielle Skillings Art

 

Not Enough Time

To anyone who’ll read this,

I’m sitting here next to my bookcase full of unread books, looking up and down at it while the inevitable looms in the back of my mind. It’s no wonder I have anxiety. There’s not enough time.

Not enough time to play all of the video games all the way through, finish all of the puzzles that surround my room, to finish writing that book that’s in my drafts, or to read all of the books that are piling up. The end is inevitable, but I choose to fill it with mind-numbing hours on my phone and in my laptop doing homework.

Graduation is in December, maybe May 2020, but that’ll be a year (or year and a half) until I can have all the free time I need (barring any part time job of course). Yet, I can’t help but feel like that year is just going to fly by and I would’ve wasted it.

Having ADD is a lot of work, my mind is always in overdrive and I can’t sit still. The only things that’ll turn off my thoughts are puzzles and sleep. Yet, here I am. Typing up a blog on my phone, when I could be journaling or reading. Oh well, at least this is an entry! So, my time wasn’t wasted.

2019 is going to be the year of creativity whether I realize it or not, I just have to keep fighting and focus on the right things. No longer will I wait around for replies or notifications on anything. I need to focus on me, and me alone.

So, I’ll continue to date myself this year. Figure out who I am. The creative person is inside me, I just have to meet her again.

Thanks for reading,

Love, Danielle

Record Collection

img_2845There are 330 records in my collection as of January 9, 2019. This list includes Alternative Rock, Christmas, Classical, Comedy, Country, Dance, Folk, German, Hip  Hop, Jazz, Kids, Metal, Outlaw Country, Pop, Rock, Rockabilly, and Soundtrack.

To organize and keep track of all of these, I use an app on my iPad called MusicBuddy and it catalogs and organizes all of my records for me. So when I get more records, I’m going to continue to add to this blog. This collection is a conglomeration of records given to me by my mom, grandparents, friends, and records I’ve found at local thrift stores.

They’re organized first by genre, then by artist. If you see any that are in the wrong category, feel free to message me so I can fix it. Like I said, my app placed them into the genre Discogs placed them into.

KEY: Artist – Album Name 1, Album Name 2, Album Name 3, etc..

All records that are underlined are the ones that are photographed.


Alternative Rock: 7 records

img_3079Dance Gavin DanceArtificial SelectionInstant Gratification (signed), Mothership, Summertime Gladness/Pussy Vultures (7″)

David Lee Roth – Just Like Paradise

Jefferson Airplane – The Worst of Jefferson Airplane

Pink Floyd – A Momentary Lapse of Reason


Christmas: 15 records

img_3083Andy Williams – Merry Christmas

Charles M. Shulz – A Charlie Brown Christmas

Elvis Presley – Elvis Sings the Wonderful World of Christmas, Christmas Album

Floyd  Robinson – Charlie the Hamster Plays Christmas Songs With Floyd…

img_3086Jim Nabors – Jim Nabors’ Christmas Album

John Denver – A Christmas Together, Rocky Mountain Christmas

Johnny Cash – The Christmas Spirit

Luciano Pavarotti – O Holy Night

Richard P. Condie – Christmas Carols Around the World

Tennessee Ernie Ford – O Come All  Ye Faithful, Sing We Now of Christmas


Classical/Easy Listening: 17 records

img_3087101 Strings – Henry Mancini, John Denver

2Cellos – Score

Arthur Fiedler – Arthur Fiedler Superstar

Boston Symphonic Orchestra – Appalachian Spring/The Tender Land – Suite

Clarinet Kings – The Best Polka img_3088

Copperas Cove Bands – The Proud New Generation Band ’74

Engelbert Humperdinck – King of Hearts

Ferrante & Teicher – Moonlight Melodies

Heintje – “Mama”

Hollyridge Strings – The Beatles Songbook

Jean-Pierre Rampal – Fascinatin’ Rampal

Mannheim Steamroller – Saving the Wildlife

Richard Clayderman – Love Songs of the World

Royal Philharmonic Orchestra – Hooked on Classics

Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart – Die Zauberflaute, The Magic Flute (box set)


Comedy: 8 records

img_3092All in the Family Cast – All in the Family

Bill Cosby – 200 mph, Bill Cosby, Bill Cosby ‘Live’ Madison Square Garden, For Adults Only, When I Was a Kid, Wonderfulness

Various – The Watergate Comedy Hour


Country: 40 records

img_3093Alabama – Just Us, Mountain Music

Barbara Fairchild – Kid Stuff

Barbara Mandrell – He Set My  Life to Music, Love is Fair, Meant for Each Other

Buck Owens and His Buckaroos – The Kansas City Song

Charley Pride – The Best of Charley Pride, The Best of Charley Pride Vol. III, From Me to You, Pride of Country  Music

Conway Twitty – By Heart, I Love You More Today

Don Francisco – Forgiven, Got to Tell Somebody, Holiness, Traveler

Don Williams – Cafe Carolina, Greatest Hits

img_3096Freddie Hart and The Heartbeats – The Pleasure’s Been All Mine

Glen Campbell – Galveston, Glen Campbell’s Greatest Hits

Jean Shepard – A Real Good Woman

Kendalls The Best of the Kendalls

Kenny Rogers – The Gambler

Loretta Lynn – Coal Miner’s Daughter, Entertainer of the Year – Loretta, Here I Am Again..,  Just a Woman, You’re Lookin’ At Country

Moe Bandy – Rodeo Romeo

Skeeter Davis A Place in the Country

Sonny James – The Sensational Sonny James

Statler Brother – Bed of Roses

T.G. Sheppard – Perfect Stranger

Tammy Wynette – The First Lady, Just Tammy, Tammy’s Greatest Hits

Various – America’s Greatest Country Stars Live and In Person, Country Girls


Dance/Electronic: 4 records

img_3098Crystal Fighters – Cave Rave

Devo – Oh, No! It’s Devo,  Q: Are We Not  Men? A: We Are Devo!

M|A|R|R|S – Pump Up the Volume (7″)


Folk: 29 records

Albert  Hammond – The Free Electric Band

Andy Williams – Andy Williams’ Greatest Hits, Moon River and Other Great Movie Themes

Cat Stevens – Foreigner, The Very Best of Cat Stevens

img_3102Dale Evans – Heart of the Country

Jim Nabors – Everything is Beautiful

John Denver – John Denver’s Greatest Hits Vol. 2, Poems Prayers & Promises

Johnny Cash – America: A 200 Year Salute in Story and Song, Any Old Wind That Blows, At Folsom Prison, Believe in Him, The Gospel Road: A Story of Jesus, Heroes, I Walk the Line, Johnny Cash at San Quentin, Johnny Cash’s Greatest Hits Vol. 1, Look At Them Beans, Ragged Old Flag, Starportrait

img_3101Johnny Cash & June  Carter Cash – Carryin’ On With, Johnny Cash and His Woman

Johnny Horton – Johnny Horton’s Greatest Hits

Marty Robbins – Greatest Hits Vol. IV

Peter, Paul & Mary – Album 1700, The Best Of…

Simon & Garfunkel – Parsley, Sage, Rosemary, and Thyme

Various – Zenith Presents Hootenanny Special


German: 20 records

img_3105Extrablatt – Vico Ganz Neu!

Flotte Franz Und Seine Bierbrummer – Ja Das Haben Di Madchen So Gerne

Gaudeamus Igitur – Romantic Old Heidelberg

Hoffbrau Singers – Ein  Prosit! A Toast!

Ivan Rebroff – Kosaken Mussen Reiten

Johannes Heesters – Da, Geh’ich Ins Maxim

Lucie Baierl – Wine, Women and Schrammeln

Paul Horbiger – Servuswein img_3104

Peter Alexander – The Golden Album of Peter  Alexander, Peter Alexander Prasentiert Walt Disney’s Welt

Robert  Stolz – Ein Shoner Herbst

Serge Jaroff – The Best of Serge Jaroff and His  Don Cossacks

Various – A Echte Gaudi, Ein Heurigenabend Bei Toni Karas, Music of the Austrian Alps, Musical Memories of Germany Vol. 2 “Auf Zum Oktoberfest”, Schenkt Man Sich Rosen In Tirol

Wiener Schrammelguartett –  Erinnerung An Wein

Winer Terzett – Tanze Aus Dem Alten Wein


Hip Hop: 6 records

Boogie Boys – City Life

LL Cool J – Radio

New Kids On The Block – Hangin’  Tough, Hangin’ Tough (Calendar Pack 7″)

Snap! – The Power

Various – Electric Breakdance


Jazz: 12 records

img_3108Dean Martin – Dean Martin Hits Again, Gentle On My Mind, This is Dean Martin!

Frank Sinatra – I’m Glad There Is You/You Can Take My Word for It Baby (7″), Strangers in the Night, Ultimate Sinatra

Jack La Forge – Unchain My Heart

John Tropea – Short Trip to Space

Paul Winter – Common Ground 

Various – Happiness Is (Box  Set), Kings of Swing

Winter Consort – Road


Kids: 20 records

img_3115Al Smith – Happytime Songs for Children

Candle – The Music Machine

Carole and  Jimmy Owens – Ants’hillvania

Children’s Television Workshop – Songs From Sesame Street 2

Disney Choir – It’s A Small World

Disney – Walt Disney Presents Mickey Mouse and His Friends

Ethel Barrett – Children’s Stories: The Mysterious White  Envelope

img_3112Marcy Tigner – Sings Nursery Rhymes, Wear a Smile

Nancy  F.A. Woolnough – The Adventures of Raindrop #3

Peter Pan – Popeye the Sailor Man 4 Exciting Stories

Richard Wolfe Children’s Songs – A Raggedy Ann Songbook

Sesame Street – Sesame Street Gold! The Best of Sesame Street, Sleepytime Bird, The Year of Roosevelt Franklin: Gordon’s Friend

Sharron Lucky – Follow the Clouds

Singspiration Trio – Songs for Children No. 2

Strawberry  Shortcake – Strawberry Shortcake and  Her Friends (photo disc)

Susie and Johnny – Sings Stories by Susie and Johnny and Their Singing Pals

Thomas Moore – Sleepy Time


Metal: 10 records

img_3116Bloodrock – Live

Jethro Tull – A Passion Play 

Metallica – The Good The Bad & The Live: The 6 1/2 Year Anniversary Collection,  Harvester of Sorrow, Jump in the Fire, Kill ‘Em All

Motley Crue – Girls, Girls, Girls

Slayer – Hell Awaits

Twisted Sister – Love is for Suckers, Under the Blade


Outlaw Country

img_3119Johnny Rodriguez – Foolin’ With Fire

Kris Kristofferson – Border Lord, Me and Bobby McGee, The Silver-Tongued Devil and  I

Kris Kristofferson & Rita Coolidge – Full Moon

Merle Haggard – Amber Waves of Grain, The Best Of The Best Of Merle Haggard, It’s All in the Movies, Same Train Different Time

Tanya Tucker – What’s Your Mama’s Name

Waylon Jennings – Wanted! The Outlaws

Willie Nelson – Willie  Nelson’s Greatest Hits

Willie Nelson & Family – Honeysuckle Rose


Pop: 38 records

img_3122Connie Francis – The Very Best of Connie Francis

Cyndi Lauper – True Colors

Debby Boone – Surrender

Eurythmics – Greatest Hits

Gene Pitney – The Many Sides of Gene Pitney

Go-Go’s – Beauty and The Beat

Halsey – Badlands

Helen Reddy – Long Hard Climb

Johnny Mathis – Close to You, More Johnny’s Greatest Hits

Maureen McGovern – The Morning Afterimg_3123

Michael Jackson – Thriller

Neighborhood – I Love You.

Neil Diamond – Classics The Early Years, Gold, Hot August Night, Tap Root Manuscript

Oh Wonder – Ultralife

Olivia Newton-John – Olivia’s Greatest Hits Vol. 2, Physical

Panic! At The Disco – Death of a Bachelor, Pray for the Wicked

Paul Anka – 21 Greatest Hits

R.B. Greaves – R.B. Greaves

Ready for the World – Oh Sheila

Rick Springfield – Working Class Dog

Righteous Brothers – Back to Back

Sonny & Cher – All I Ever Need Is You

Sylvan Esso – Sylvan Esso

Toni Basil – Word of Mouth

Various – 24 Groovy Greats, From Broadway to Hollywood, Love is Blue (box set), Super Stars – Super Hits, They Come to America, Zenith Presents The Hit Makers

Wayne Newton – Summer Wind

Wham! – Make it Big


Rock: 54 records

img_31294 Skins – A Few 4 Skins More Vol 2

AC/DC – Fly On the Wall

Adolescents – Brats in Batallion

Alice Cooper – Alice Cooper’s Greatest Hits

Animals – The Best of the Animals

Bad Religion – Against the Grain

Bauhaus – Mask

Beastie Boys – Licensed to Ill

Beatles – 1962-1966, Introducing… the Beatlesimg_3139

Billy Joel – An Innocent Man

Blood, Sweat, and Tears – Blood, Sweat, and Tears

Boatz – Boatz

Bob Seger – The Distance

Bobby Darin – It’s You Or No One

Camel – Breathless

Chuck Berry – Chuck Berry’s Greatest Hits

Circle Jerks – Group Sex

Cliff Richard – Two a Penny

Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young – Deja Vu

img_3141Cure –  Boys Don’t Cry, Japanese Whispers

Dad  Punchers – These Times Weren’t Made for You

Everly Brothers – Everly Brothers’ Original Greatest Hits, The Golden Hits of the Everly Brothers, Very Best of the Everly Brothers

Fleetwood Mac – Fleetwood Mac, Greatest Hits, Rumours, Tango In The Night, Tusk

Free Beer – Highway  Robbery

Grateful Dead – Touch of Grey (7″)

Green Day – Dookie

Hard-Ons – Dickcheese, The Worst Of…img_3135

J Geils Band – Freeze-Frame

Jerry Lee Lewis – By Request: More of the Greatest Live Show On Earth

Jesse Colin Young – Love On The Wing

Journey – Escape

Kenny Loggins – Nightwatch

Kenny Loggins & Messina – The Best of Friends, Native Sons

Lee Michaels – 5th

img_3147Mike & The Mechanics – Mike + The Mechanics

Pat Benatar – Crimes of Passion, Get Nervous, Heartbreaker, Live From Earth

Stevie Nicks – Bella  Donna, Rock a Little

Tom Jones – Live in Las Vegas, This Is Tom Jones, The Tom Jones Fever Zone, Tom Jones Live! At The Talk Of The Town

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img_3146Rockabilly: 12 records

Elvis Presley – Almost in Love, Aloha from Hawaii via Satellite, Elvis Now, Elvis’ Golden Records, G.I. Blues, How Great Thou Art, Let’s Be Friends, Pure Gold, Rock ‘N’ Roll, Welcome to My World, Worldwide Gold Award Hits

Ricky Nelson – Legendary Masters Series


Soundtrack: 24 records

img_3145Burt Bacharach – Lost Horizon

Dory Previn – Valley of the Dolls

Isaac Hayes – Shaft

Jack L. Warner – 1776

Leonard Bernstein –  West Side Story

Mary Martin –  Mary Martin Sings The Sound of Music

Mr. Pickwick – Mr. Pickwick Sings Songs from Mary Poppins

img_3144Neil Diamond –  Jonathan Livingston Seagull

Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky –  Suite from “The Nutcracker”

Ray Parker Jr. – Ghostbusters

Rossini – The Barber of Seville (box set)

Simon & Garfunkel – The Graduate

Unknown – HearSeeDo: Hanna-Barbera Record of Safety, Superman

Various – 2001 A Space Odyssey, 50 Happy Years of Disney Favorites (1923-1973), Fantasia, The Fox and the Hound, Grease, Song of Norway, That’s Entertainment: Musical Highlights from Camelot! Sounds of Music! etc., Top Gun, Urban Cowboy

Vince Guaraldi – Selections from the Soundtrack ” A Boy  Named Charlie  Brown”

Catharsis

Why do we do it?

Why do we put ourselves through things like catharsis just so we can feel? We deliberately listen to songs that hurt us. Songs that remind us of pain from our past, songs that we listened to when we were with someone we no longer talk to. It isn’t just music either, we watch TV shows that make us cry even though we know it’s coming. But, why? (Looking at you Grey’s Anatomy!) woman-sad-near-water

Well, I can’t speak for everyone, but I’ll tell you why I do it. Currently,  I’m listening to a
playlist I made. It’s not even supposed to be as deep as I made it, but somehow it came out that way. There are 30 songs, and eleven of them are indeed that deep. In fact, all day, I’ve felt myself on the verge of a breakdown and here I am. Listening to those ten songs, that now have more meaning to them than I originally planned.

I’m not sure if it’s a good thing that  I made the playlist that deep, or maybe my brain is just in overdrive from recent events, but either way. While I’m writing this blog on catharsis, I’m putting myself through it and honestly it feels a little fucked up. My eyes hurt, my fingers are shaking, and my heart feels shattered. Plus, blowing your nose with a septum ring in is just a pain in the ass.

Also, I should’ve mentioned this earlier, but for those of you who don’t know by know, (or haven’t gotten from the context clues I’ve loosely provided), catharsis is the process of releasing emotion… on purpose. The fact that we even need to push ourselves to release emotions like that is just insane and this is coming from someone who builds up emotion like a pro. Wow, while I wrote that, even I knew it didn’t sound healthy yet here I am with almost twenty-two years of pent-up emotion.

Let me say this though… I’ve been working on it. While some of my nights still consist of crying on the bathroom floor after a day of difficult emotions and stressful moments, I have managed to fight the urge to do it alone. Even though it’s been a long journey to get to where I am now, I’ll forever be proud of the fact that I’ve shown at least a little progress… even if it did take quite a few years to get here.

Tense

The midsummer sun was pounding down on me while I dug my hands into the dirt. I could feel the wetness in the layers of mud as I kept sifting through the moist soil. My daughter’s voice ran through my head after every rinse in the water hose, just wear gloves, Gideon, but I never listened—why would I? I liked the feel of it. The grunginess of my hands after a long day outside, they made me feel like a mechanic. At first, I thought it was unusual that planting flowers and various herbs was my way of escape, but it felt right. So, I quickly got over the judgmental stares of passersby watching a six-foot-tall man with his knees in the dirt because I kind of had to.

Today though, it wasn’t about the flowers or the herbs. Today, I was tasked with tearing apart the dirt in front of my daughters’ home. Tasked to destroy what was once beautiful, but it had to be done. There were unwanted dandelions, chickweeds, purslane, and bluegrass interrupting the growth of the sunflowers and morning glories I planted a few months ago. These pesky weeds were relentless; they kept coming back, even over the summer. Although, I could never understand why she couldn’t do this herself. All it took was a good pair of gloves, and a little patience. The task was easy, but ever since we buried her husband a couple months ago, she wasn’t motivated to do any of the outdoor chores. Although, I was amazed that she even invited me over—my wife must’ve had something to do with it. We never got along, even before my grandson’s father died. Our relationship was fine, but it was always uncomfortable. The tension was inevitable though; she’d never forgive me for what happened.

My thoughts were quickly interrupted by a checkered ball hitting the window and landing in the array of weeds in front of me. Soccer. They were playing soccer. My grandson quickly rushed over, apologized, retrieved the ball, and ran back to continue playing with my daughter before I could respond. I looked over and she didn’t acknowledge me; she was still mad. She’s lucky my wife was persuasive enough to get me here.

Last time I saw my daughter was a week after the funeral when I let slip that I thought his son should return to his biological mother. I’ll never understand why she couldn’t let him move back. She always had this way about her where she just had to control everything; including him.

His son’s life was never just his, just like my daughter’s was never really hers. After my son-in-law was six-feet-under she had to start anew. Discover who she was, where she belonged, and what she needed to survive. She barely scraped by after his passing, it’s no wonder she never let his son leave her side. Don’t get me wrong, I love the kid; he just doesn’t love us. The word grandpanever came out of his mouth, but collectively we were a familyfor over a decade. It wasn’t his fault though, it was his fathers. He alienated them from us, and if I hadn’t have done what I did, I’m not sure how much longer it would’ve been before I lost my daughter completely.

It’s Okay.

It’s okay to be sad.

It’s okay to let your guard down once in a while and to just wallow in your emotions.

It’s okay to express how you feel.

It’s all okay.

Because you’re human.

Hi, I’m not sure if you’ve read my resolution post for 2018 yet aptly named The Year(s) of Growth, but if you haven’t, then these were my top ten resolutions:

  1.  Stop comparing
  2.  Break my bad habits
  3.  Leave the house more
  4.  Eat healthier
  5.  Listen to more music
  6.  Read more
  7.  Produce more art, whether it’s paint on a canvas or a new blog post — writing is an art too
  8.  Make it on to the deans’ list
  9.  Stop letting people take advantage
  10.  Ignore the insults

It’s a long and hopeful list, right? I’ll dig into them in December, so for now, we’re only going to focus on number two; “break my bad habits.” I didn’t discuss this in that blog, and I’m not sure I’ve talked about it yet (maybe I should “clean house” and check all of my blogs), but my all-time worst habit is not letting people in. For some reason, there has just been a mental blockade around that portion of my brain, and I’ve just discovered how to cope with it.

Today, I had what I like to call a Twitter Episode, which is where I air my “dirty laundry” out publicly, with hopes that my tweets get lost in the abyss of memes and self-deprecating humor. Yet, today they didn’t. I was seen, heard, asked about, and apologized to. No one knew exactly how to fix my problem, but I was still seen. A few people reached out and they helped me realize that it’s not going to be the end of the world–at least, not yet anyway.

But see, that’s the thing. As I write this blog about opening up, I’m still extraordinarily closed off. I’ve closed myself off from those that care about me, and today I realized just how self destructive that can be. Not only for myself, but to everyone else around me.

It isn’t fun seeing those you care about be sad or upset, but you have to remember that if they’re hurting, don’t ignore their cries for help. Don’t let them do it alone because if you truly care about them, you’ll help them in any way you can.

Honestly, the hardest thing to do, is to ignore those posts that tell you how toxic you are when you are upset, because those are complete bullshit. It’s not okay to build a fortress around how you feel. If something’s bothering you, don’t just let it pass; TALK about it. TEXT about it. WRITE about it. Do anything you can to get those thoughts out of your head and into the world. It doesn’t matter if it’s going to be written in a note on your phone, in a Word.doc that you never open again, or even if it’s in a diary that’s closed off to the world… as long as it’s written down, it’ll help.

Also, I realize how this must sound coming from me of all people. Like I said before, (or did I?), I’m an expert at bottling things up. I have almost twenty-two years of it under my belt, so you might be wondering; “Who are you to give me advice on letting people in?” Well, my dear reader, I can only write how I personally feel, and you can take from it as you please. It’s entirely up to you and you alone. However, with as much experience as I have, I can say for sure that one thing helps when it comes to opening up, and it only takes a few steps:

  1. Get. Out. Of. Your. Bed.
  2. Move.
  3. Don’t slow down.
  4. Find a friend(s).

After you’ve established some sort of trust with said friend(s); open up. Let people in. Don’t let your anxiety, inability to trust because of your past, or your overthinking affect the fact that there is someone out there that will listen. They may be hard to find, but they are out there. Somewhere. You just have to go out and look. You honestly just have to trust me.

Once you find your person, or what us Grey’s Anatomy fans like to call “your Cristina,” never let them go. Your Cristina might not always be the same person as your Derek, but if they are then that’s great! It’s much harder to find two people who care about you as much as Cristina and Derek did for Meredith, but if you’re as lucky as I am; you’ll find them both.

Chapter One: Commute Home

Before reading, see: Prologue//Flashback: Maddy’s 

Disclaimer: This is a revised version of chapter one! I workshopped the hell out of it in one of my classes this semester, so I thought I’d update it here too. Thanks for reading! I hope you guys like these characters just as much as I do and that this is the start of something worthwhile. 

Chapter One: Commute Home (Revised)

Today, I decided to walk home a little lackadaisically. It wasn’t my usual speed, but I knew it would get me to where I was going — especially since I wasn’t in much of a rush. For some reason, this particular Friday just felt different. It was nicer outside than it had been this past week, so I decided to take it all in. The cool spring air was slowly caressing my bare legs with each step. It was chilly and almost unbearable, but I didn’t mind. After all, it’s my fault that I woke up with hope that the Texas weather would stay consistent throughout the day. The mornings were always deceiving compared to the afternoons.

With each step, I noticed the trees were coming back to life, the grass was slowly becoming greener after each watering, and the animals were thriving off it. It’s sort of ironic to see all of the animals coming out of hiding, as if Texas knew what the winter season was. Here we just get a handful of freezes and a bunch of cold wind. We barely get any snow. Most birds even come here from up north to avoid their states’ weather, as if the sunny beaches of Cancun were too far of a flight.

As I walked, I counted the steps between each sidewalk crack. “One-two-three, one-two, one-two-three-four,” it was almost like a dance, albeit an unusual one, but the counting came naturally. I started to imagine a polka band playing at each step. The casual “oom-pah-pah, oom-pah-pah,” that was filling my brain took me down my path. I took this course home every other day, so I was bound to get there eventually.

After quite a few “oom-pah-pah’s”, I turned the corner next to my family’s old diner and knew I was almost home. Or rather… I thought I was, until I bumped into something sturdy. I should’ve looked up, god damn it, I thought to myself as the man I bumped into started to turn red.

“Shit! Watch where you’re going!” he exclaimed, holding his cup away from the damage I just caused. He didn’t notice I was watching him until he started wiping off his laptop bag and flannel with his hands. With just a quick glance, this man really had a lumberjack thing going on. Beard and all.

“Oh my god, I’m so, so sorry. Please let me help you,” I said to him, while I opened up my backpack to find my pack of wet wipes.

“Thanks, but I’m fine. It’s fine,” he said kind of aggressively, but his expression softened when he finally looked up; his light brown eyes pierced my greens. “Ugh, I’m sorry. I’ve just had a long day,” while he held his hand out, “My name’s Alexander, I didn’t mean to frighten you.”

I didn’t expect him to take such a turnaround, but I closed my bag and shook his hand anyway, “Maddy, my name’s Maddy. I’m so sorry.”

“Please, just stop apologizing. It’s okay. I said it’s fine, and I meant it,” he said more calmly while he put his hand on my shoulder.

Almost immediately, I shrugged his hand off, “Okay, are you sure you’re okay? That coffee had to have been really hot. Please, let me buy you another one.”

“Alright, alright, you can buy me a new cup. Is the diner fine?”

“Actually, would it be okay if we went down the street to Starbucks instead? I don’t really want to set foot in there.” Immediately, I mentally crossed my fingers and hoped he wouldn’t ask why. Especially since Gordon and I haven’t had time to fully evaluate it.

“Umm, yeah. That’ll be alright. I’d actually prefer it if that’s what you’re more comfortable with. Just lead the way,” he said.

* * * *

On our way to Starbucks I realized that there was more to this guy than I thought. He wasn’t just a tall, rugged man, but he had quirks of his own. Not only was he avoiding the sidewalk cracks as he stepped, but he kept the same number of steps between them too.

“What on earth are you looking at?” he asked.

“Oh, nothing,” I laughed nervously. “I just noticed that you never step on any cracks. I do the same thing.”

“Were you counting? I try to keep at least two to four between each crack. I’m not superstitious or anything,” he chuckled while he rubbed the back of his neck, “I just kind of kept the habit from when I was a kid.”

“Oh, I suppose I was,” I blushed, “I do the same thing… except I imagine polka music playing.”

“Polka, huh? Care to elaborate?” he asked, and I reluctantly let him in on my little secret, because he let me in on his. And to my surprise, we ended up walking my weird, and quirky way all the way to the coffee shop.

* * * *

When we got to Starbucks, I ordered my usual iced green tea latte; the matcha was my favorite part. It made me feel as though I was actually taking a step towards something healthy. I didn’t even know Starbucks had this drink until a few weeks ago, but I fell in love at first sip.

“Your total is $5.75,” the barista said. So, I quickly went to search my backpack, but noticed my wallet was missing. I could’ve sworn I had it earlier, and it wasn’t long until I started shaking in panic.

“Um, Alex? Do you mind getting this?” I asked nervously, “I can pay you back later. I promise.”

“It’s Alexander, and are you asking me to pay for your coffee after you spilled mine all over me?”

I couldn’t read if he was serious. All I could get out of my mouth was, “Oh, yeah… I’m sorry. Um, I might have some kind of cash in this bag somewhere,” and I started to search again.

“Nooo, stop! I’m kidding,” he smiled and put his hand on mine. “It’s really no problem, I swear. You can get the next one.”

We went to a table in the back corner of the cafe to wait for our order, and I still couldn’t stop thanking him. He even pulled my chair out for me, and suddenly I couldn’t remember the last time I was ever out with a guy. Clearly, I wasn’t used to this kind of chivalry.

“Maddy, it’s fine. Stop thanking me,” he said. “But, if you don’t mind me asking, what was that back there?” he asked.

“What was what?”

“Why couldn’t we go into the diner? I mean, I prefer Starbucks, but you seemed a little reluctant to go in there.”

“Oh, it was nothing.” I could tell by the look on his face that he didn’t believe me, so I quickly added, “I just have a few bad memories there, that’s all.”

“Yeah? If you don’t mind me asking, what are they about?”

“That depends,” I said, “Why Alexander? Why not just Alex?”

“I just don’t like shortening my name. My mom gave me my whole name for a reason, ya know?” he said, while he messed with the straps to his bag. He was fidgeting, just like what I do when I’m talking to new people. This is insane. We really were so similar.

“Oh,” I said. “So, I suppose you’ll just call me Madeline then?”

“Madeline, huh?” he winked, “Would it be alright if I called you that? It’s so beautiful.” Suddenly, I could feel my cheeks turning red, this guy really had an effect on me. I couldn’t believe how easy it was for him to make me blush.

“No, I suppose that wouldn’t be a bad thing. So, now I guess I have to tell you my story then,” I started, right before my order was shouted out to the whole café.  “Well, that’s me,” I moved to get up, but Alexander stopped me.

“I’ll get it, they just set mine on the bar as well.”

“Uh, alright. Thanks.” I shot him a smile and he went for our cups, but on his way back, I noticed that he was looking at my drink like it was a foreign object.

“How on Earth do you drink this stuff?” he asked, while holding up my drink and inspecting it. He looked like he was looking at an undiscovered object. Like matcha was the strangest thing ever.

I laughed and asked him, “What do you mean?”

“This dark green stuff… it looks like there’s dirt in your drink.”

“Uh, have you ever tried matcha before? It’s ah-maaaze-iiing,” I informed him.

“No, I haven’t. I don’t tend to drink or eat food that looks like dirt,” he said, and I immediately felt myself start to shut-down. We just met, and he was already criticizing my drink.

“Well, it doesn’t taste like dirt. I’d ask you to try it, but you probably don’t have fantastic taste buds considering you got a grande black coffee at Starbucks of all places,” I snapped.

“Woah, woah, woah… calm down. Madeline,” he grabbed my hand, “I was just kidding.”

I quickly pulled it away from him. “Well, it’s really hard to tell if you’re kidding Alex. I don’t read sarcasm very well with you apparently and I don’t know how to deal with it.” I slowly started to scoot my chair away from the table, “Maybe I’m overreacting, but you’re not great at being facetious.”

He threw his hands up in defeat and said, “Okay, okay, okay. I’m sorry. I’ve been told that my face isn’t very great at expressing itself.” I could see the remorse in his face, and I felt horrible. I really need to stop doing this to everyone. “So, what is it about the diner? I know we just met, but I wish you’d talk to me. There’s just something about your eyes that resonates with me. I want to know everything about the girl who spilled coffee on me,” he said, while rubbing his finger along the outside of his coffee cup lid.

I could feel a wave of warmth wash over me, I seriously needed to interact with more people, I thought to myself. It shouldn’t be this easy for him to make me feel this way. Reluctantly though, it was only fair I told him a little bit about myself, so I decided to tell him, “Okay, well since you told me your weird name thing, that diner actually used to be my parents. The place was originally named Maddy’s after my grandmother, who was also my namesake. At first, it was awesome. They bought it when I was around eleven-years-old. I spent all my summers there, my first job was there, and it was great… until they sold it. Now it’s just a run-of-the-mill restaurant. I’m just glad the new owners kept some of the nostalgia intact even though my parents’ menus aren’t there anymore.”

“I’m really sorry to hear that, it must’ve been hard having to adjust. Have you gone in there since?” he asked, and this time I let him grab my hand. First, this man is everything. He was complex, but I could still understand his quirks at the same time. Second, how did this all come out of a spilled coffee?

Before answering his question, I decided that it was time to leave before things got a little too personal. “Actually, I hate to cut this short, but I should probably get going. Swanson needs me. We can always dig into this later, if you want?” I scooted away from the table.

“Wait, who’s Swanson?”

“My cat. He’s very particular about when he gets his food,” I said while I stood and started to put my backpack on.

“Oh, you have a cat? That’s another interesting note on Madeliiiine… what was your last name? Mine’s Woods,” he said.

“Alexander Woods, huh? That sounds fitting,” I told him. I almost had to stifle a laugh to cover up the irony. This man looked like a lumberjack, and his last name was Woods. He was definitely going to hear about this later; if there is a later. “I’m a MacCarthy. Not like Melissa, more like the usual Scottish last name.”

“So, Madeline MacCarthy. That explains your hair and eyes. Are you Scottish?”

“You know what Alexander, seriously. Let’s save this for another time. I really need to get home to Swanson.”

“Alright, alright, alright. Let me give you my number and we can meet again? Maybe next time you won’t get my shirt dirty,” he joked.

I pulled out a scrap of paper from my backpack and a pen, “Sure, actually, here’s mine. Don’t lose this,” I grinned.

“Oh, trust me. I won’t.”

 

Molly

“Mom, where’s Molly?” I asked. Molly was my favorite stuffed bear. My parents made her for me at Build-a-Bear when I was only one.

“I just got her out of the dryer,” she said, “Here she is! All clean.”

“Thank goodness, night mommy. Love you.”

“Love you too, Char,” she said, while she closed my door, leaving a crack so the hallway light could seep in; her version of a nightlight.

She thought that if I had a real night light, I’d be up all night reading. I kept telling her that I needed one to scare off the monsters, but she didn’t believe me. All she said was, “You’re nine-years-old now Charlotte, I know your tricks. You’re not getting a night light so you can read all night.” Little did she know, I wasn’t lying. I did need one.

See, things often weren’t what the seemed in my house, but I was the only one who noticed. I’d wake up screaming for my parents nearly every night, just to have them check my shelves and find nothing.

“No! There’s something over there I know it!” I would tell them, in a pit of frustration.

“There’s nothing over here, honey. You’ve got to stop doing this every other night, just go to bed,” my dad would say while shuffling me back into my loft bed.

After he left, I barricaded myself with every stuffed animal I could find. Making my bed a safe space filled with a variant of critters surrounding me while I slept, but the only way I could, was if I got as far away from my shelf as possible. So, I scooted into a corner, shuffled everything around, curled myself into a ball, found Molly, and managed to squeeze in whatever sleep my brain would allow.

Now, you might think I was being ridiculous, but there was just something about that area of my room that made me uneasy. My loft bed was sitting just a foot away from my ceiling, so I could see everything in my room; including that shelf. The shelf. It was a little 1×4 shelf that my mom hung up in my room to hold all of those items off of the floor, made out of nothing but a piece of wood held up with four pieces of really strong rope.

Yet, every night it sounded like something was falling, but I’d wake to nothing on the ground. I’d wake to crashes, bangs, and thuds that seemed like they were only a foot away from my pillow. I kept telling my parents all about the noises, but they never believed me, and they never would. It got to a point where we had to take the shelf down altogether after a while because they were tired of my paranoia. So, they set the American Girl dolls safely in their boxes, along with all of the ceramics and little trinkets I’ve collected over my eight years of life.

There was no way those noises would come now, I thought while I was brushing my teeth, hoping I would get more sleep than I have been.

I finally settled my head down on my pillow, my stuffed animals back where they belonged, squeezed Molly, and everything felt lighter. It wasn’t long before I drifted off to sleep and let my dreams take ahold of my subconscious.

“CHARLOTTE, WAKE UP AND GET OUT OF THIS ROOM,” my mom screamed and shook my bed, and suddenly I felt hot.

“Mom, what is it?” I asked her, still groggy, but she left the room before I got the whole question out. What time is it? I thought to myself. The sun was just starting to seep in through my windows. It had to be early, but what was going on.

After I finally got up, it wasn’t long before I saw what freaked out my mom so much. The shelf was back up. With everything in it’s place.

This had to be a joke. I thought to myself. A sick joke, but who would’ve put it up while I was asleep? Dad’s in the field, I don’t have siblings, and my mom always slept through the night… I kept staring at the shelf dumbfounded. I still couldn’t believe it.

“Mom! Who did this??” I yelled for her.

“It doesn’t matter Char. Just get out of there, I’ll deal with it later!” She yelled back.

I kept staring at the shelf, at the dolls, and all of the trinkets, and suddenly, a wave of panic ran through me. I knew what was making the noises.

The realization flooded through me as I saw what it was. What put the shelf back up. It wasn’t my mom; it wasn’t my dad; it was the dolls. Their expressions weren’t smiling anymore, and they weren’t alone.

I kept eye contact with them while their faces changed. Their brows became furrowed, and their smiles turned to something I’ve never seen before. They weren’t American Girl dolls anymore; they were monsters.

Similar faces came between the two I had on my shelf, they bared their sharp teeth, and looked almost real. I could still see the pink wall behind them, but they appeared as solid as the dolls. I couldn’t help but watch them uncover. My body felt paralyzed while they came out of hiding. I tried to scream for my mom again, but my mouth wouldn’t move. Stricken with fear, I started to look around the room at my other shelves. Hoping there wouldn’t be anymore, but I was mistaken.

There were around fifty faces staring back at me with their angry, terrifying expressions, and they were scattered all around my room. It wasn’t long before I saw them everywhere; I was surrounded, and the only safe place was in my bed.

I scooted back into my corner as quickly as my body would let me and closed my eyes tightly. In my cocoon, I started to say the “Now I Lay Me” prayer to myself until the I could feel the individual hairs stand on my neck. Something was breathing on me in long, hot breaths. Slowly, I turned around, and Molly was tucked between the bed and the wall. Her face was the same as all the others.

It wasn’t long before I started to scramble out of my bed. I turned to put my foot on the ladder so I could get down, but my foot didn’t touch anything. The ladder wasn’t there anymore. It was just gone, and my bed was too tall to jump off of, so I tried climbing over the side. After a slow descent, I felt my toes touch the cold tile, and started to run towards the door. There were faces everywhere I looked, and the door wasn’t getting any closer. The small hallway that led to it kept expanding, I would never reach it. I was trapped in my own room.

Soon, the floor began to darken. The tiles were hot beneath my feet, and when I stepped, they disappeared. The floor was falling, and I was going to fall with it. I could feel my body tense up as I tried to figure out how to get out of this. I had two windows, but they were surrounded. The only other places to go were the closet, or back in my bed where the height would give me more time to think. Despite Molly, I chose my bed. I hugged the side while I climbed up the wooden posts, but when I got to ledge, my bed was covered in even more faces.

I held on tightly to the post while I watched them move closer and closer. They reached my hands and I tightened my grip. Their hands started to pry each finger off slowly, I cried and begged for them to stop, “Molly, please. Don’t let them do this. I’m going to fall!” But she didn’t care. Instead her face twisted into something even darker while she joined in. Molly wasn’t in there anymore, she was my sole protector my entire life, and she wasn’t in there.

It wasn’t long before the only thing that was holding me to the post was my arms. I refused to move them, but the creatures were persistent. I kept latching my fingers back onto the wood, but they pried them off again to a point that there were splinters underneath my nails. I won’t let them drop me. I won’t let them drop me, but they got smarter.

The creatures across from us started to pass my pink duct tape around the room and while they pried each finger, they taped it to the previously pried one’s joints. Leaving me with the inability to grasp. I felt myself start to give up. This wasn’t worth it. There’s no way I’m going to get out of this, and soon they were crawling all over me. I could feel their sharp nails penetrating my back, leaving bloody trails wherever they went.

My eyes started to water and I let out a piercing scream while they shoved my arms off of the post and tape them to my torso. I’ve become their prisoner, they were going to shove me off into the dark pit below me, and I was going to let them. As soon as they were content with their tape job, they let me go, and my body jolted itself awake.

“Charlotte, are you okay? I heard screaming,” my mom said. “What’s going on?” Immediately I started crying, I couldn’t believe I was hearing her voice, it was all just a nightmare. I was just having a nightmare. My pillowcase was soaking wet with tears and snot, and my sheets felt damp. I was sweating more than usual.

Quickly, I climbed out of my bed and hugged my mom. The floor was intact, the ladder was where it was, and the shelf was still gone. No more creepy faces.

“Honey, what happened?” my mom kept asking, but I couldn’t bring myself to tell her. “Did you have another nightmare again? I can schedule another appointment with Dr. Landcaster if you need. Would you like that?”

Dr. Landcaster was one of my therapists, except he was allowed to prescribe me with medication that would help my nightmares and daydreaming. Dr. Haslett was my other one, but he only let me play board games in his office while we talked about things. I liked him more, but I couldn’t have that dream again. “Sure mommy, thanks for taking the shelf down again. I didn’t like the dolls.”

“Char, what shelf? You’ve had your pink bookcase up for a while, why would we take it down?” she asked, puzzled.

NO, this can’t be right. “Never mind momma, it must’ve just been a dream,” I said while I hugged her tighter while fresh tears started to fall down my cheeks.

“Okay, well if you’re okay then get dressed. We’re visiting your dad at work today,” she told me, I loved visiting him. He always let me color on all of the old documents and sit in the big trucks.

“Alriiiiight. I’ll be ready in a minute,” I told her, knowing she already laid my clothes out for me. In a rush of excitement, I started getting dressed, but then I felt it. The hot air on my neck was back, and I slowly turned around. Molly was on my bookshelf, breathing hot, hot air on me, and suddenly, I screamed.

Disclaimer: This is loosely based off of things I used to see in the dark as a kid. It wasn’t as extreme, but the faces were just as creepy.

Prologue//Flashback: Maddy’s

I could still hear my mom yelling at me from the kitchen, Maddy! Come clear these tables, please! It was the early dinner lunch rush at the diner, so it was packed as usual. Every afternoon after school, I’d start my shift at Maddy’s, and every afternoon I got picked on over the fact I worked at a place that shared my name. I mean, it wasn’t my fault that my grandmother had such a huge impact on my family; kids were just mean.

Regardless of all of their mocking, I still came in after school and set all of the unoccupied tables and sat down in my designated “homework booth” that my parents made for me. It was set in the back near the kitchen and it was the perfect little nook. Complete with an outlet for my mom’s laptop, a printer in case I needed to print anything, and a booth that opened up like a chest, so I could keep my backpack out of the way. My favorite part though, was the window that overlooked the little strip we were on. This way, I could watch the outside world and all of the animals scattering around… although, I wasn’t necessarily allowed to keep the curtains open if I had a lot going on.

For a kid who gets easily distracted, working next to a window was definitely a no-go, but it was my favorite booth designed just for me. After all, how many twelve-year-old’s can say they have their own booth in a diner specifically for them? As far as they’re concerned, they can all suck eggs.

I mean, the last time I reached out and tried to make friends, it didn’t go so well. She was nice to me, until she wasn’t. She broke my trust and I wasn’t really able to recover—I never had time to. I just kept pushing past it. Reading was more important, school was more important, better yet, moving on was more important. So, I did.

My parents always seemed concerned that I never had friends with me, they always asked what happened to “whatshername”, but I just didn’t care to get close to anyone. Everyone thought I was weird for staying at home, but they just didn’t know how hard school was for me. No wonder my booth was my little sanctuary; it’s the one place I didn’t feel like the weird kid.

Yet, three years later, my parents decided to sell it. I can still remember just how devastated I was. “How could you?!” I screamed and yelled at them, I couldn’t believe the fact that they would betray me like that.

“Now what’s going to set me apart from all the other kids?” I asked. “I need a place to do my homework and God knows the house isn’t quiet enough with dad home all the time. High school has been kicking my ass lately, what am I supposed to do now?”

“Madeline Joanne MacCarthy! Watch your mouth! I realize you’re fifteen, but you cannot talk to me that way. You don’t need a booth to set you apart from them. It’ll still be there,” my mom told me in the middle of my breakdown. At fifteen I wasn’t sure what to call tantrums, so a breakdown would have to work.

“That’s not the point!” I let out an exasperated gasp. “I can’t believe you would sell it. What would grandma say!?”

“As far as me and your father are concerned, your grandma is fine with it. She wouldn’t want us to hang onto something that takes so much out of your father,” she said calmly. “So, you’re just going to have to get over it. Maybe I can talk to the new owners about you using the booth after school.”

“Whatever,” I said, rolling my eyes. “I’ll just go to the library or something,” I said a little too aggressively. I’ll never forgive them for this, and I don’t understand how my dad could just give up. Now my sanctuary was gone. My little home away from home practically demolished.


imageDisclaimer: I’m not sure if I’m going to keep this as a prologue, or as a flashback in another chapter. Alexander and Madeline are still VERY much a WORK IN PROGRESS, so stay with me! Thank you all for reading, I appreciate all of the support!