Picture this.

Picture this.

You’re walking down a freshly groomed trail in winter, it’s a crystal-clear calm night, just below freezing. Your breath dissipates in the air.

It smells like Christmas and it reminds you of exactly that. It reminds you of when you were a kid, full of awe and excitement about the morning you got to open presents…whereas now you just think “where the hell am I going to put this stuff I’ll never use?”

The cold air mixed with pine and fir trickle down your lungs and settle. It’s a special feeling…amplified by the purity of the moment.

The moonlight bounces off the snow so hard you almost think you should wear an SPF-something-or-other. She doesn’t always make an appearance, but when she does damn does she shine.

The trees crack and moan like they’re sick and tired of standing in line and waiting, but like models, they’re so beautiful to look at. Unlike models, though, they’re much more inclined to stand in the cold – they look amazing no matter the season – and they get better with age.

The air tastes like the harsh undertones in an elders warning. You appreciate their candor, but you’re satisfied to keep moving, confident and cocky to the point of desolation.

The snow crunches beneath your feet, your boots leaving tiny rutty villages behind. It feels all the more apparent that no two snowflakes are alike.

You’re almost home now. You hear the streetlights buzz before they come into full view. The cars whipping by on the highway, a dog barking in the distance.

Thanks for walking with me. Somehow it makes me feel less alone.


SOUNDTRACK: Pictures – Benjamin Francis Leftwich

The Ocean’s Soul

The mist lingered on top of the water for 15 minutes longer today.

He took another sip of coffee and rocked slowly in his chair on the front deck of the cottage they once coined their poets nest.

He thinks back to a time when they would comb the shoreline every Friday for debris released from the grip of the tides. He remembers this one day when she found a large black feather, a raven’s feather; it was weather-beaten but she thought she had found gold.  He remembers so clearly taking it from her soft hands and weaving it in the locks of her long dark hair.

“You’re my Pocahontas,” he said. As soon as the words escaped his mouth she started running. She ran and ran until she reached the end of the beach. He followed her, as he always did, and they sat dipping their toes in the ocean and talking about the future.

“You’ll always put feathers in my hair, won’t you darling? And paint my funny looking toes, and read me your beautiful words?”

“Yes,” he replied, “For you I bare my soul, just as surely as the ocean reaches yours.”

He remembers that long, bittersweet kiss they shared in that moment.

He looks around him and remembers the nights they lay underneath the scratchy plaid blanket, just over there beneath the picture window, searching for Ursa Minor in the sky.

He takes another sip of coffee.

He clutches the raven’s feather tightly in his hand.

“The mist lingered on top of the water for 15 minutes longer today my love,” he whispered, “I hope that you can feel it.”


Breaking Bread.

The sunlight tangoed across the dusty dashboard. Her fingers tapped to the tune of “Crazy,” by Patsy Cline.

“No one sings it quite like you Patsy,” she said aloud to no one in particular. Her window was down, the dirty western air clambered in to greet her skin.

“You’ve got a lot of nerve showin’ up here miss,” said a stranger across the way. He was sitting with his blue ball cap draped crooked on his knee while he wiped his greasy hands in a rag.

“Oh, why’s that?” she sneered back. She was not one to shy away from a good fight. He spat towards her truck. She just glared.

He stood up and turned on his heel and headed into the old excuse of a store. She clutched her .9mm hidden beneath her jacket on the passenger seat.

She’d been running now for eight days. Her cash was as short as her temper and she knew neither was going to get her much further.

She sat in complete silence for another five minutes, an eternity in doubt and fear. A bead of sweat left her brow as the sun continued to burn her arm, dance up her shoulder and melt along her chest, visible in her low cut tank top.

“If you’re going to do this, do it now goddamit,” she mouthed to herself. One of her ‘fuck it’ moments.

She simultaneously put her gun in her ass pocket and closed the door behind her. Her legs were buckling like a daisy worn out from the heat of the sun and the lack of water.

She made her way inside the store, not before noticing the wanted poster with her face and name on it taped to the inside of the scratched up storm door. She swallowed hard.

She walked calmly to the cooler and grabbed a six of Bud and a pound of hickory smoked jerky. She knicked a loaf of white bread that looked a little stale off the shelf, not really knowing why. It wasn’t her ideal meal but it would get her through a tough night in hiding on the back of Pine Ridge, away from invasive eyes.

She laid her items on the counter, along with her gun. Her hand was trembling, her finger anxious on the trigger.

The blue capped stranger behind the counter took a step back and folded his arms.

“What are you proposin’ to do with that?” he asked.

“Nothin’ if you don’t give me no trouble,” she replied.

He glanced at his shotgun atop the Coke crates under the counter. Before he could give it another thought she raised her gun and took aim. He glanced at the register and she nodded.

He stuffed the fifties and twenties in a brown paper bag, along with jerky and bread she had hesitated to put on the counter before. He folded the top of the bag properly, taking his time, and he put a single staple in the top.

“Nice package for you now miss, probably the prettiest thing you seen in a while by the looks of your hair.”

She couldn’t help but laugh despite the intensity of the moment they were sharing. She glanced quickly at the clock on the wall. It was just after three.

“You best be on your way miss,” he said, “I called the cops while you were takin’ your sweet time decidin’ to step foot in here.”

She grabbed her beer and the brown paper bag and rushed to her truck. He followed her, not really afraid of getting shot, as she threw the goods in the back seat and slammed the door behind her. She took a quick glance at him before she started the ignition. Something seemed a little familiar about him but she couldn’t place him.

She started to back out of the parking lot but she put her foot on the brake quickly. She looked back up at the door and he was still there. She doesn’t know what came over her but she yelled out to him and said, “Are you comin’ or not?”

And as if they were two little kids playing pretend he put on a devilish grin and ran for her passenger door.

It’s been a few days since they’d done this. Everyday monotony was sucking the life out of them, they did everything they could to take a break from reality. They had to get their kicks somewhere.

As she pulled out on to the highway and pressed the gas to the floor, Jeremy told her that the shop owner was in the back tied loosely to the deep freeze with the sock from his left foot stuck in his mouth. They laughed together the rest of the way home.

As they approached the driveway Jeremy unloaded her gun and locked it in a fireproof case and put it under the passenger seat.

“What do you feel like doing tomorrow Mary?” he said.

“I haven’t got that one figured out yet Jer,” she replied, putting out her cigarette on the ‘objects look closer than they appear’ line of the mirror.

She moved the shifter into park and got out of the truck. She pulled a red blazer from behind her seat and put it on, buttoning it up quickly and then put her hair up in a bun. On her way toward the door she fumbled with the lipgloss in her jeans pocket and tried to make herself presentable.

“You go on ahead Jer, get Wesley’s head out of the tv and make him clean up for supper.”

She turned back toward the truck and grabbed the brown paper bag from the back seat.

That night she cooked spaghetti for supper, and the three of them sat down and ate as if life were normal. As if the .9mm wasn’t locked in a box underneath the passenger seat of her ’88 Ford. As if Jeremy’s hands weren’t stained with grease, and the old shop keeper wasn’t mortified by the taste of his own feet.

That night, breaking bread, they were about as happy as they could be.