Sunday, March 18, 2012

Fiction exerpt: Marla's Beauty

She sighs, as she wakes, thinking that she is still alive.

Last evening, Harry changed his approach. He did not like to ask his clients about their past. To him, everything is will and following small simple steps. But since she kept giving in to the temptation of eating, and nothing was changing, he also gave in and asked her about the history of her weight and about her family.

When she was 13, Marla’s parents divorced. Mark, her older brother by five years, took care of her. They kept in touch with their dad, Gregory, while their mother, Jasmine, disappeared with a South American younger man.

Marla was a model at 16. Slim, sexy, with intense big brown eyes, and slightly asymmetrical eyebrows, few men could resist her, or women. She had been on the front cover of several magazines and already made quite a fortune by the time she was 18. People were attracted to her and she enjoyed the attention. She had been on dates with more people than she could remember.

At 20, she mentored the newest girl, Cath, who was starting at 16 as she had. Marla saw in Cath her competition and her ruin, but also what she used to dream. She knew the lifestyle would soon swallow her alive and there was nothing to be done, except help her get the best possible memories and pretend that all would be wonderful, a Cinderella type experience.

At 22, she and Cath had a fling. She shared Cath and did drugs with Mark when things got tough with his wife, Sam, who was seeing Gregory secretly.

At 25, Marla was bored. Alcohol, drugs, food, sex had taken a toll on her spirit. Her eyes were dull; she looked absent. She had started to gain weight.

At 30, she weighed 250 pounds, give or take.

Mark calls her every day. Sam left him. June, his newest sweetheart, is clean. He wants to try and be clean with her. June could no longer keep Hank’s stories straight and left him. The way she puts it: “He is a successful gambler as long as he isn’t drinking, whether he lies about it or not, which he is.”

Marla felt numb as she was throwing up these memories to Harry. It was as though all of this happened to someone else.

Now, not wanting to wake up, the memories hit her by their stark darkness. She feels nauseous. Suicide is on her mind but a part of her has not completely given up. She did not want to remember the past. She liked Harry until last night. Now she feels lonelier than ever. Even in her stardom days as a model, she was lonely. She escaped it by partying, by thinking she belonged to that world. Reality had finally caught up with how she’d been feeling all along.

(soon to be published in a collection of shorts called CONSTELLATIONS)

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Fiction: Smoke and Mirrors

About my invitation to the funhouse … the word ‘invitation’ is rhetorical. You cannot escape. This is experiential. A journey into the spirit of Edwin Markham’s words: Alegerile sunt balamalele destinului (choices are the hinges of destiny). And my own, in due time. 

You have entered my antechamber. Please remain quiet. Talking distracts from what’s essential. The music? It’s Funhouse Entrance from The Caravan of Thieves:

It's a beautiful world if you look
At a glance it's a dream if you stare it's a scream
If you wait in the line every time
By the day that you die you'll have waited your whole life…

I present you with mirrors. Many. You do not need to count them. Just observe with all of your senses. Observe with your skin. I am one of the mirrors. Of course. Please, don’t look away, yet. It would cost you. Allow the experience to sink in. Slowly. Thoroughly. Taking a hold of your whole being. Beyond orgasm. Do you recognize me? Do you know who I am?

There is a gun on the table. I am not asking you to use it, merely to experience it. There are two lovers about you. You only see them through the mirrors. You feel them. They are a part of you. If they had a hue, one would be red and the other blue. That is only an experience, not a visual. They are real; your heart is anguished over them, and your mind is under their spell.

Look again. What do you see? Look through the fogged up looking glass. Feel through your own daemons’ heartbeat. Stop projecting. Be. Without masks or screens, without protection or defenses. Authentically.

This antechamber is an introduction to what’s real. What no one can know but you. Get acquainted with your inner universe. Your inner stars. I have my inner stars, my inner Astrology. My sign is the phoenix. Yes, I have risen from the ashes. Many, many times. It attuned me to wisdom, to pure reflection. As I said, I am a mirror.

As a mirror, I am neither round nor square.
I don’t have fancy, oriental designs or gold trimming.
I am jagged, like the rays of the sun.
I have scuffs, scratches and dents like a chrome bumper.
I am fogged, warped and faded like the mirrors of a funhouse.
I am aged, but with a beauty that only those with a true gift could see.
I am unique, standing out amongst all other mirrors.
I have seen time pass, reflecting shadows across my glass.
I have been loved, forgotten, given away, sold and even tossed.
When people look, I don’t seem very special.
And it is always their loss to walk away without peering in once.

(Adapted from AP:

Do you recognize me yet? Do you know who I am? I love any writing. I write like a chain smoker. And I read voraciously. Do not use lipstick, if you wish to write on me. Use chocolate. Only. Good quality chocolate. Or blood. Your own. Otherwise, you may experience the world of ashes. No excuses and no exceptions.

Let me distract you from your obsession. I want your unfrazzled attention. I will keep you until you finally see through the smoke and mirrors. Perhaps you will come to your senses. Perhaps you will surrender and let the spell dissolve. Remember this is a funhouse. I offer darkness merely so you have to make a choice. Your own. I only offer you options. Illusions are part of the experience. How else would you discover your desire to shake yourself off of your complacency and discover your inner jewels?

Ah! You are starting to bleed. Love is cruel. The two lovers are tearing you apart. Don’t you see that one leads you to your life and the other to your death? Death is a choice, it’s true, but I do not recommend it. Life is a video game. You die over and over until you find a way out. To the next level. But you don’t have to die this time. You can still find a way out. You still have time. I believe in you.

You are in my antechamber. I can see your mind is still in the gutter, but your heart is rising to the light. This is just the beginning. I am Airicka Phoenix. Your host. Your conscience. Your true mirror. When you succeed, more rooms will open to you, and, with each room, new experiences await you.

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Fiction exerpt: Anaïs and Ray

It’s early March. Still in bed, he opens his eyes to the wonder of winter: the familiar yet always surprising beauty of the sharp contrast between the fresh snow covered branches and the darker shade of the bark of the trees. Rays of sunlight knock at his window inviting him outside. He is filled with a sense of calm, a sense that something was rest to peace.

Anaïs got up early. She had a meeting with the organic farm coop group.

Checking on the maple trees, he collects several gallons of sap.

He feels a pinch in his heart; a desire to go on a long hike.

Anaïs’s ring comes from his cell phone.

“It’s Dad,” she says.

“Do you want me to meet you somewhere?” he says.

“It’s not pretty.” She is crying. “Even though he was mad at me for loving you, even though he was grumpy and miserable, I loved him just the same. I’ll miss him. I’ll miss him. I guess what I miss is what could have been, the love we could have shared.”

“He did not make our life easy.”

“You know what I want?”

“Wait. I’ll take you to some place you’ve never been before for a few days.”

“Would you do that?”

(soon to be published in a collection of shorts called CONSTELLATIONS)

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Fiction exerpt: Strangers

Fields and trees go by rhythmically, infinitely, hypnotically. Richard is staring out the window, mesmerized by the view out from the morning train that left Atlanta, Georgia, for New Orleans, Louisiana. The trance he’s in reminds him of the cawing crows swirling incessantly above his head years before.

“Do you take the train much?”

“Huh?” Richard says, coming back to his senses. “No, you?”

He notices he’s been traveling over three hours already.

“No,” the lady says. “I’m Evelyn. I just got in at the Birmingham station.”

Her light brown hair has red reflections and her green eyes are bright. She wears a long dress with a peach-colored flower pattern.

“I’m Richard,” he says.

“Are you going to New Orleans?” she asks putting her luggage down.

“Mardi Gras …” 

“Me, too. It’s my first time.”

“Yeah! Me, too! Do you like jazz?” he asks.

“Zydeco. It gets under my skin like nothing else does. And I like the French culture. How about you?”

“I just had a conference in Atlanta, and I thought I’d take a break before going back to work.”

“What kind of conference?”

“Biostatistics for the pharmaceutical industry. I have a reservation for lunch. Do you care to join me?”

Walking together to the dining car, she continues the conversation. “You mean, about getting FDA approval for drugs?”

“Yeah and vaccines. But there’s a whole lot of statistical stuff that comes before FDA negotiations. We work on scientific models and animal studies, before we start tests on human beings. Then we set up standards and make sure different labs perform up to those standards. It’s a huge machine and there’s lots of competition.”

“You like it?”

“You’d think … I always thought I’d follow my heart.”

“What happened?”

“It’s strange. I loved psychology. My dad encouraged me to do psychiatry, but I was not interested in medicine and meds.”

“And now you’re working for a pharmaceutical company?”

“Ironic, isn’t it?”

(soon to be published in a collection of shorts called CONSTELLATIONS)