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Unfinished [A Thread]

EDIT: I'm finding more and more "Unfinished" things in my writing stash, and have decided to keep them in a thread with no ending. Like a fraying sweater, I'll tie knots where appropriate, before places where things unravel to the point that they start to completely lose their form or structure, but I'd rather keep my loose threads all in one place


*** Unfinished, 1 ***


There's nothing like finding yourself with your arms draped over a toilet bowl at 3am, hating your life and everything in it while a supportive cat watches you projectile vomiting up something that looks suspiciously similar to antifreeze. There's a reason bile and vile are almost the same word, and it can't just be my russophile brain reading it that way. I heaved again, praying that it would be the last time, then slumped against the porcelain. No wonder my mother was 5 lbs lighter after she had me. I closed my eyes, then cracked them open again as I felt a tentative tap from something small and furry against the back of my foot.


"Meeaow?" My plump, butterscotch kitty's eyes were wide, the same way they get whenever I run a vacuum or hairdryer and, in spite of my misery, I laughed at the concerned sounding intonation in her voice. She reminded me of myself the night I spent holding a friends hair for her in the bathroom after she'd had too many shots, wondering if we should take her to an urgent care. Human-animal communications fascinate me and while I don't know if they have language exactly, they definitely talk and this one uses distinct vocal cues. I guess it's nice that she cares.


"Do I look alright to you?"


I pulled the lever on the side of the toilet and slumped backwards, leaning against the bathroom wall and squeezing my eyes shut tightly before the tears could fall. I felt so exhausted and scared, but also relieved that I was experiencing this misery alone- sort of. The thought had terrified me once, but now it brought a panicky relief. My head ached. If only I had known all that I do now then. I'm so tired of crying. My nose was chapped and the circles under my eyes had gotten so deep. I still prayed that none of it was real, and I'd wake up at any moment to find it was all a nightmare. Maybe if I wished hard enough, I'd be back in my office, re-reading the message that could have saved me from everything. But it was too late now.


A soft purring filled the room and I felt 14lbs of fluff settle into my lap. At least she had figured out to avoid my stomach. I stroked her ears, enjoying how velvety soft they felt between my fingers. It seemed like she had somehow gained all the weight I had lost and I wondered it fat cells were somehow transferable. Maybe I was just a horrible cat mom. Hopefully I would be more adept at caring for dependents in the future, but seeing as I could barely make it from my bed to the bathroom, somehow I doubted it. I craved sleep so badly, but more than anything, I wanted Oblivion.


There's a quote attributed to Dostoyevsky that goes "The darker the night, the brighter the stars, the deeper the grief, the closer is God". I think it's horseshit. God never goes anywhere, but I feel sometimes I am more aware of His presence now, not because He's going to save me from my situation, but because there's simply nothing left to cling too. Without Him, there's just you, and the deep, and He's the driftwood that keeps your head over water. But God, how I wanted to sink.

I suddenly felt warm tears running down my cheeks, furious once more that I was now responsible for more than just my own life when I didn't even want that sometimes. I was so tired and felt completely, utterly broken. I missed my mom, and I desperately wished I could hug her.


Soft fur buried itself into my arm and I suddenly wondered if all three of us huddled together on that horrid teal carpet I'd spent so many nights on were aware of how fast my heart was beating as it crumbled within me for the hundredth time. My friends were right though, and as much as I wanted to drift away, my shoulders were plenty broad enough to carry this. Not that I had much choice. As much as my mind and soul ached, I was also genuinely relieved to not have my light stifled any further. I don't know how long it will take to coax my spark back from the ashes, especially after suffocating for so many years, but I'll be damned if I let some monster rob me of my fire, family, or future. "Healed" seems like impossible goal, but maybe real happiness could come in time. Somehow, even sitting on the bathroom floor with the taste of vomit in my mouth, it seems more attainable now. But I'm just too tired to fight for it.


I hate being strong, but I know I can be. And maybe, maybe I would look back on this someday and realize that I wasn't falling into pieces, but rather, my pieces were just falling back together again.


***


*** Unfinished (2) ***


We walked back to the car, air bristling as another flash tore across the sky, lightning up the stone path leading back to where the giant had parked. Warm raindrops felt in scattered wet plops and I noticed my companion glance at the sky briefly before quickening his pace. I don't think it was the rain that bothered him, but being 6'5 with at least an added 3 feet of carbon fibre was probably enough to make anyone nervous, especially after the incident in the fields a few weeks prior.


Personally, I cared very little about the storm, but instead felt an electric giddiness akin to childlike glee welling up inside of me, and a lightness that made it feel like my feet were skimming just a few centimeters off the ground, and I could tell another grin was tugging across my lips in the darkness as I jogged to keep up with my companion.


Hehehehe. I caught a fish! I caught a fish!


I wish I'd taken a picture like he suggested, but it felt too silly. Now I felt even sillier for not doing it. I'm pretty sure the fish and I had the exact same expression looking at each other: eyes wide and mouths gaping open in shock as we stared at each other.


I think I must have been 7 the last time I went fishing. I don't remember where exactly, but my brain wants to say somewhere in Colorado, or maybe Ft. Laramie, and I think it was with the cub scouts, which I'd somehow become an involuntary/honorary member of. I do remember the fish though. It was really pretty; yellowish with an orange belly and a big spot near the gills. I seem to remember either the spot or the hook being blue. Dad said it was a sunfish. I remember being horrified that something so beautiful had been mutilated by some twisted piece of metal (and even worse, by me) and hating everything about boys and their silly organizations with their ugly uniforms the color of paper bags and goofy bottle-cap badges. How times had changed!


Memory is an odd thing. I swear I remember blue fireflies somewhere in the summer at night and I can see it so clearly in my head but it can't possibly be real.  Blue fireflies are, but they are supposedly very specific to a region in the Carolina's. Not Colorado. It can't have been real, but I remember it so clearly...but so fragmented too....


*** Unfinished 3 ***


I saw on one of my friend and former professor's social media that my second hometown had another cute little toranado a day ago.  It reminded me of one in 2018, especially after it moved Northeast of town and closer to the mountains. At that point, it had waned into a thin rope-like wisp of blue clouds, and had drawn quite a crowd. Sometimes it still surprises me that I've seen more tornadoes in Wyoming than I ever have in Kansas or any area in the Midwest. That's probably a good thing since the ones in Wyoming tend to be almost whimsical and cute, and typically do very little damage, unless they bring hail with them.


I think about home a lot lately, and I wonder how K. is. During graduation here, I couldn't help but remember my own at my alma mater, 5 years ago now. I still have the beautiful picture book that my mentor gave me during commencement. Graduation wasn't one of my happier memories, especially knowing things now that I didn't at the time, but I still look back on parts of it fondly. I never finished painting my cap; pehaps I should.  I still remembered the design I was going to put on it:  our signature Steamboat with a cosmonaut on his back, waving a cowboy hat, and "Поехали!!! '18" scrawled on the side in gold glitter.


I miss that place. Sometimes I think about moving back, but I have my friends here now, a job I'm good at, and wonderful people around me. I miss UW, and the warm, mild mountains summers there, but most of my memories of my adult years there are less pleasant in retrospect. I don't think there are many places there where 'It' wasn't with me at some point, but least I have over a decade of happy memories before that.


I still remember my first experience with the little mountain town when I was very small and my parents used to compete in the annual snowsculpting competitions. To me, it felt like a city filled with ice and magic, and I still remember the excitement I felt when we first pulled into town and the awe I felt upon seeing the outline of the cathedral clock tower on the horizon, starkly silhouetted and proud against the grey winter sky. To me, it felt enormous, like a vampire's castle. I don't know how old I was that first year- probably not more than six or seven. I want to say the first year they held the competition was 2001.


It had to be before third grade, and I remember that the second year, Dad was still on his crutches from the accident. They held the contest at the Ivinson mansion that year.  That didn't stop him, of course, and he wielding saws and currycombs in one hand while hoping around on one leg. They always placed, and eventually went to nationals. Erica was right though: snowsculptors are special, and special is just another word for stupid. I would find that out years later in Jackson that it was a lot of work. I would do it again. Maybe the gypsy would join me. Someday maybe...


I miss our aesthetic tornadoes and snow. Even more, however, I miss feeling like small things were somehow bigger, instead of the inverse, where I am constantly trying to convince myself that all the overwhelming things are manageable and I can carry whatever life throws at me. On the bright side, I'm bigger now too, so some part of me honestly believes it.



***Unfinished 4***


I gazed absently at the digital numbers on the clock, my feet resting on the dusty window ledge as a metallic echo clanged several feet below me. I had one hand poised over a grubby lever, while the other held my phone. A few more measured clangs rang out below me before Andrei shouted again.


"Engage!"


I pressed the button and pushed forward, the lever still stiff under my fingers. It barely budged.


"Disengage!"


Obediently, I pressed the button and pulled the lever back again. There were several more loud whacks followed by another shout.


"Engage!"


I pushed forward. The lever was slightly less resistant than it had been, but still reluctant to move very far. More metallic clangs ensued and I yawned, wondering how much longer I'd be stuck up here. Maybe my aunt was right and I should have been an engineer or some sort. It seemed like a lot of it boiled down to simply banging on things until they did what you wanted. Sounded almost cathartic.


"Disengage!"


More clanging. The rust must be coming loose because the lever was starting to have more give.


"Engage!"


"Disengage!"


"Engage!"


I leaned forward to peer out the window and grinned at Andrei.


"You sound like a youth pastor."


Somewhere below, I heard Cole laugh. Andrei wiped the sweat off his forehead with the back of his hand and stared up. at me with a halfway amused expression on his face. "Don't tell me this isn't the most 'engaging' thing you've done all day."


Cole snorted. "Badum tssssss."


I rolled my eyes. "Booooo."


More clanging.


It was a nice afternoon. Everything felt sepia tinted in the late afternoon light and the dust glittered as it drifted lazily through the golden rays that filtering through the skylights above us. It would be serene, were it not so noisy. A nice place for a nap maybe.


My eyelids were growing heavier, and for a moment, I felt myself slipping. For the thousandth time, I wondered if I were awake, or if I'd just been dreaming about all of this after all.


"Disengage!"


I blinked, and felt the lever slip from my grasp.



*** Unfinished 5 ***



"Are we taking my car, or yours?"


It was a good question.


Mine had been repaired, but the long drive last time had made me a little nervous. Driving doesn't scare me anymore but drastic changes in elevation and long trips seemed like a poor decision. The old, dented lump of metal had handled it like a champ on multiple occasions now, but I still didn't trust it completely and I wondered how long the pink line of what looked like chewed bubblegum on the bottom had been seeping. The wind also whistled through the seal on the driver's side window and I couldn't see him surviving that for more than an hour. But I liked my car.


I stretched and rubbed the back of my neck, still stiff from the night before. Twitch streaming was fun (and BG3 is the greatest game ever invented), but I needed to stop slouching like an orangutan. "Probably yours. I'll drive though."


In truth, I was a little worried about my passenger in any car for a trip that long, especially if we decided to stop and see everyone in Colorado, too. I had long overdue invitations to visit friends there for a while, but now that extended family had moved both north and south to settle in the Denver area, it would be nice to see everyone and get those introductions out of the way. The problem was I doubted my traveling companion has any idea how vast the distances are. More than likely, most of our vacation would be spent in a car. It's probably better to fly in for a separate visit.


So many people were excited to meet him and I couldn't wait. I just hope we have enough time.


*** Unfinished 6 ***


I've gotten surprisingly good at card tricks.


I flicked my wrist and sent a card spinning across the lobby, just barely missing the empty water bottle. The next card sent it toppling over onto a pile of magazines and my coworker let out a whoop next to me and gave me a fist bump. Slow days were long, but good for honing impractical ninja skills.


My hobbies had taken a very odd path over the last year- if you can call it a path at all. It feels more like random spawn points all over the map after jumping into a long-forgotten savepoint, and I constantly find myself spontaneously deliving into into something new. It's about as linear as the process of healing, which makes sense; the two definitely go hand in hand.


A lot of recovery has less to do with waiting for physical damage and changes to heal and more to do with recovering identity. It's a long process, and it can be scary, because the more normal and happy your life becomes, and the better the people around you, the more clearly you see the extent of damage done by abusive people and patterns. There is a huge grieving process involved with that, because you see just what was stolen from you, and there's a lot of time that cannot be returned. I suspect that there are some mental scars that will always ache, but there's also a profound joy in rediscovering yourself and knowing that whoever tried to take that from you will never succeed completely, nor will they be able to experience that kind of genuine happiness. I truly don't think evil that people can.


My advice to anyone who experiences abuse, be it psychological, physical, emotional, DV or, Rape/SA is first to tell someone immediately, and not to wait to report it if it's one of the latter, no matter the circumstances. Aside from the obvious concern of public safety, the first step in recovery is putting it all into words, and not being isolated. It's an active process, and like an abscess or an infection, whatever pain is building up inside has to be addressed and let out so that it can be properly treated and or the infection can't be cured. Wounds kept silent do not heal.


Surrounding yourself with good people and having proper support will also help immensely, especially with processing and recovery, and it will also keep the broken pieces of your soul together while you wait for the wounds to scar over enough to function again. No one should ever have to fight alone and I know I would be lost and crumble completely without my friends and family, especially since people like that are the ones who will remind you who you are and help anchor you whenever things get overwhelming and you start seeping back into the Nothing.


The second thing I would advise is to make conscious effort and time to do the things you enjoy, and force yourself to engage with something new that interests you. Abuse messes with your head in ways that are hard to describe or overstate, and it will be difficult at first, but give yourself permission to do things just for you. If there's something you've always wanted to do or learn, pursue it, no matter how trivial. Go back to your comfort movies or books from childhood, get yourself lunch from a favorite restaurant, buy the pretty jacket you've been wanting, and get that tattoo or piercing you've dreamed about since highschool. Do things that are nice for yourself, especially if they're silly and serve no other purpose beyond reminding you of who YOU are and what you like or want. Over time, it will help (side note: I do also have a suggested reading list available on my socials that I can DM on request or share here if anyone is interested).


Some days are hard, and I don't know what "healed" looks like, but I do believe it's possible now, and that it starts with sharing your story, seeking help, and recovering your sense of self by getting back to the roots of your interests and pursuing things that you enjoy. Tattoos also work wonders, and I smile every time I see mine, but I'm sure that's a person preference rather than a


I'll continue perfecting my card tricks and cheesy magic skills, and rest easy knowing that no one is ever going to scare me into silence, take away my identity, or rob me of my peace ever again. And if they ever try, I like to think at the end of everything, God has my back, and Lady Justice will be there, her Ace of Spades card waiting.


*** Unfinished 7 ***


I love those strange, liminal spaces in the world where the soul stills and everything is frozen for a while. What I wouldn't give to never leave the boundaries and inbetweens, especially the intimate ones that exist in the pale blue of his eyes or when secrets are whispered under blanket forts or on shared pillows.


*** Unfinished 8 ***


Part of what's so wonderful about art is that it's okay to idealize the world or a subject and present it however you choose. You can fill the world with impossible colors, breathe life into dragons, preserve a person's likeness, or portray the impossible. Your only limit is your imagination. That's what art is, and its lack of boundaries are part of what makes it so powerful. Love isn't like art- it has to be rooted in something real, or it isn't love. It's just an illusion. Like Liv from iZombie said, "there's loyalty, and then there's being an idiot. Sometimes they can look the same. If you love somebody despite what they do, you're lying to yourself. You can't love someone you don't really know. But it can sure as hell feel like you do".


Real is scary, because it feels like getting your landlegs after being on stormy seas for years. But real feels good. There is no false hierarchy, no being cut down to size, no abuse. Real is honest and it doesn't hurt. Real takes your hand and looks at you in the eye as an equal, regardless of height difference. Real is safe, and patient while you heal. It will be there when you're ready.


Real is beautiful and I am so excited to see what life has in store for me.


***Unfinished 9***



I have a special fondness for flowering cacti. They remind me of a war that constantly battled inside my head


Being soft doesn't mean being weak. You can be both strong and gentle: fierce enough not to let the world bulldoze you, but soft enough lot to let the cruelty or unkindess of others make you bitter or sharp to the point you can no longer love or enjoy life. Fiercness, tenacity, and integrity are the sharp sides of beauty, while gentleness, nurturing, and compassion are the soft and beautiful sides. Cold pessimism will always be safer than risky optimism, but you don't want to let a bad experience ruin the rest of your life or rob you of more good ones. If someone complains about your spikes and only wants your flowers, don't waste any time on them. That is not a safe person to have in your life. They can go step on a cactus.


You can't go through life with no backbone, and I have no intention of ever backing down or letting anyone trample me or anyone else ever again. At the same time, I also never want to get to a point that the ugliness of the world and the monsters in it can successfully suck the kindness or courage out of me.


[Pending/In Process of Knotting]

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