April

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , on June 11, 2010 by billalton

April is beautiful, short and hippy. Hair the color of fine grained oak hangs to the middle of her back. Her eyes are gray as wet concrete. She has tiny hands with pink nails. I meet her in a bar in Hillsboro. She orders a beer. I get a Diet Pepsi.

I met her through craigslist. She’s forty with kids at home, married but bored. We’re both looking for someone to talk to. We both get along better with the opposite sex. Neither one of us is looking for romance.

She tells me about her husband and kids. I tell her about Denise and the boys. She works for a bank, dealing with people all day. She doesn’t want anymore drama in her life than she already has. I don’t want any drama in my life at all.

She asks about my shakes. I tell her about my brother dropping a rock on my head from the roof of our house when I was a kid. She’s shocked. I reassure her that it was an accident. Even so, I nearly died. She shakes her head. She tells me about her sister slamming her hand in the car door, breaking all four of her fingers. She had a cast covering her whole hand for six weeks. She had to learn to write left handed. It’s the worst injury she’s ever had.

We go out for a cigarette. She likes the gray days more than sunshine. She says it makes her feel like cuddling on the couch, but her husband doesn’t cuddle anymore. He spends all of his time gaming. She says she thinking of leaving him. I hope this isn’t an overture. I don’t need a relationship right now. I’m still hoping to get back together with Denise. Messing around with another woman would completely destroy any chances of that. I start thinking this was a bad idea. You never know what you’re going to get when you meet someone online. I hope I didn’t set myself up.

April says she has to go now. She has to get home. It’s coming up on dinner time. I finish my Diet Pepsi and tell her that it’s okay. I tell her to email me; maybe we’ll get together again. She says she will. She says she had a good time. Outside, we hug and she goes one direction and I go the other.

I catch the bus home and think things went pretty well. I worry what Denise would think though. Maybe this was a bad idea. Maybe I wouldn’t see April again. Maybe I’d just stay in my apartment and work on getting back with Denise. But a year with no one to talk to seems an awfully long time.

Starting Over

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , on June 10, 2010 by billalton

I smoke a cigarette and watch the wind blow the petals from the flowering cherry trees around the parking lot. I’m smoking too much again. I need to quit. I can’t afford to be spending fifty bucks a week on a carton of cigarettes. But when I try to quit, I get all wired out and the only thing I can think about is the next cigarette. If I don’t quit I’m going to run out of money. I’ll go hungry for the last half of the month. I don’t eat much, but I need to have food in the house, just in case.

After my cigarette, I go in and do the dishes. There aren’t a lot of them, just a few plates and some silverware. I wash them and put them away. I dry my hands and go back out to the living room. Boredom settles in. I should work on my book, but I don’t want to. I surf the ‘Net and read some news. I re-watch some of my favorite shows online, just for something to do. Hours pass and I’ve done nothing. The sun is going down now. I take my pills and hope tonight I’ll be able to sleep through until morning.

I’m so tired of getting up in the middle of the night. I hate the darkness and confinement. There’s nothing open at three in the morning. There’s nothing to do.

In the morning, I wish I could sleep more. Time slips past nicely when I’m asleep. I don’t have to worry about money, food, or writing. I just float in my dreams. But I can’t sleep anymore. It’s time to start the day whether I like it or not.

The day is like any other day. I have more time on my hands than things to do. I smoke a cigarette and watch my neighbors getting ready for work. I kind of wish I had a job. It would be nice to have some kind of external structure. If someone expected me to be someplace at a given time, then I’d be there. But work is out of the question for now. I’m not stable enough. I still hallucinate sometimes. My mood swings from depression to mania over the course of days. I feel sick a lot. I don’t want to get a job and then mess it up. I don’t want to lose my Disability and have to go through the whole process again. So I watch people with real lives go about their business.

Depression comes with boredom. I go in and lie on my bed and think dark thoughts. I can’t sleep, but I can’t move either. I can feel imaginary cuts in my wrists. Imaginary pain shoots electricity into my arms. I am pathetic. I don’t even have the energy to kill myself. I could go lie in the street and wait for someone to run over me, but that would be rude. Suicide is private. It shouldn’t involve other people. Getting someone to kill me just because I don’t have the wherewithal to do it myself would be incredibly impolite. Why should I leave someone with that kind of memory? What did they do to deserve that?

I give up on sleeping. I give up on thinking. I take four Zyprexa and go out to my computer until they hit. It only takes a little while. My vision gets a little blurry and I nod. I can close my eyes without images of blood and pain invading my mind. I lie down again and listen to the white noise in my head. Sleep is only seconds away. I can feel it. Soon, I’ll be free of the day and ready to start over.

April

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , on June 8, 2010 by billalton

April is beautiful, short and hippy. Hair the color of fine grained oak hangs to the middle of her back. Her eyes are gray as wet concrete. She has tiny hands with pink nails. I meet her in a bar in Hillsboro. She orders a beer. I get a Diet Pepsi.

I met her through craigslist. She’s forty with kids at home, married but bored. We’re both looking for someone to talk to. We both get along better with the opposite sex. Neither one of us is looking for romance.

She tells me about her husband and kids. I tell her about Denise and the boys. She works for a bank, dealing with people all day. She doesn’t want anymore drama in her life than she already has. I don’t want any drama in my life at all.

She asks about my shakes. I tell her about my brother dropping a rock on my head from the roof of our house when I was a kid. She’s shocked. I reassure her that it was an accident. Even so, I nearly died. She shakes her head. She tells me about her sister slamming her hand in the car door, breaking all four of her fingers. She had a cast covering her whole hand for six weeks. She had to learn to write left handed. It’s the worst injury she’s ever had.

We go out for a cigarette. She likes the gray days more than sunshine. She says it makes her feel like cuddling on the couch, but her husband doesn’t cuddle anymore. He spends all of his time gaming. She says she thinking of leaving him. I hope this isn’t an overture. I don’t need a relationship right now. I’m still hoping to get back together with Denise. Messing around with another woman would completely destroy any chances of that. I start thinking this was a bad idea. You never know what you’re going to get when you meet someone online. I hope I didn’t set myself up.

April says she has to go now. She has to get home. It’s coming up on dinner time. I finish my Diet Pepsi and tell her that it’s okay. I tell her to email me; maybe we’ll get together again. She says she will. She says she had a good time. Outside, we hug and she goes one direction and I go the other.

I catch the bus home and think things went pretty well. I worry what Denise would think though. Maybe this was a bad idea. Maybe I wouldn’t see April again. Maybe I’d just stay in my apartment and work on getting back with Denise. But a year with no one to talk to seems an awfully long time.

Depression and Boredom

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , on June 7, 2010 by billalton

I smoke a cigarette and watch the wind blow the petals from the flowering cherry trees around the parking lot. I’m smoking too much again. I need to quit. I can’t afford to be spending fifty bucks a week on a carton of cigarettes. But when I try to quit, I get all wired out and the only thing I can think about is the next cigarette. If I don’t quit I’m going to run out of money. I’ll go hungry for the last half of the month. I don’t eat much, but I need to have food in the house, just in case.

After my cigarette, I go in and do the dishes. There aren’t a lot of them, just a few plates and some silverware. I wash them and put them away. I dry my hands and go back out to the living room. Boredom settles in. I should work on my book, but I don’t want to. I surf the ‘Net and read some news. I re-watch some of my favorite shows online, just for something to do. Hours pass and I’ve done nothing. The sun is going down now. I take my pills and hope tonight I’ll be able to sleep through until morning.

I’m so tired of getting up in the middle of the night. I hate the darkness and confinement. There’s nothing open at three in the morning. There’s nothing to do.

In the morning, I wish I could sleep more. Time slips past nicely when I’m asleep. I don’t have to worry about money, food, or writing. I just float in my dreams. But I can’t sleep anymore. It’s time to start the day whether I like it or not.

The day is like any other day. I have more time on my hands than things to do. I smoke a cigarette and watch my neighbors getting ready for work. I kind of wish I had a job. It would be nice to have some kind of external structure. If someone expected me to be someplace at a given time, then I’d be there. But work is out of the question for now. I’m not stable enough. I still hallucinate sometimes. My mood swings from depression to mania over the course of days. I feel sick a lot. I don’t want to get a job and then mess it up. I don’t want to lose my Disability and have to go through the whole process again. So I watch people with real lives go about their business.

Depression comes with boredom. I go in and lie on my bed and think dark thoughts. I can’t sleep, but I can’t move either. I can feel imaginary cuts in my wrists. Imaginary pain shoots electricity into my arms. I am pathetic. I don’t even have the energy to kill myself. I could go lie in the street and wait for someone to run over me, but that would be rude. Suicide is private. It shouldn’t involve other people. Getting someone to kill me just because I don’t have the wherewithal to do it myself would be incredibly impolite. Why should I leave someone with that kind of memory? What did they do to deserve that?

I give up on sleeping. I give up on thinking. I take four Zyprexa and go out to my computer until they hit. It only takes a little while. My vision gets a little blurry and I nod. I can close my eyes without images of blood and pain invading my mind. I lie down again and listen to the white noise in my head. Sleep is only seconds away. I can feel it. Soon, I’ll be free of the day and ready to start over.

Alone

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , on June 6, 2010 by billalton

To me, this separation is only a break, a chance for Denise and me to spend some time away from each other every day. But a year’s a long time. A lot of things can happen in a year. Denise could meet someone new. I could. What happens then? The longer we’re apart the more likely the chance that one or both of us will find someone new.

Denise starts school in the fall and there are men there, men who are better equipped to provide a life for her that she wants. They wouldn’t have the issues I have with crowds, or pills. They’d have their own money. They’d be able to take care of themselves. They’d be nothing like me; they’d be better. Denise would be a fool not to fall for someone like that. But if she does, I’m out. We’re over for good and there’s no way for me to come back.

I’m terrified of being alone for the rest of my life. I could die today and no one would notice until the neighbors complained of the smell. I don’t want to die alone. I want to die at home with my family around. The darkness can take me as long as I have people around me easing the way.

I guess I should want what’s best for Denise and I do. That’s part of the reason I didn’t fight the separation. I wanted her to be happy and if she’s happier without me, then so be it.

I don’t think Denise is actively looking to replace me, but she is beautiful and talented and in a position for someone to come along and fill the space she has at her side. These things happen. She wasn’t looking for a relationship when she met me, but she wasn’t looking to get pregnant either and that happened too.

She’d be a fool not to take advantage of someone offering her happiness.

Getting Out

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , on June 5, 2010 by billalton

My therapist says I need to find something to do outside of the house. She thinks I should volunteer somewhere, or take a class. But I can’t. I don’t know how to interact with people anymore. I’m convinced they hate me, or look down on me because I’m crazy. My therapist says no one would know if I didn’t tell them, but all the scars on my arms tell the story for me. No matter what I make up, people know. There just too many scars to cover up with lies.

So I sit in my apartment and listen to music, wishing I had some kind of musical ability. I could put my poems to music and then maybe they’d sell. Right now, all they do is bring in credits on my resume and contributors’ copies. I’m not famous enough to make money from my poetry.

Somewhere around four o’clock, I take my evening pills, hoping they’ll knock me out, but it takes time for them to get into my system, so I sit in my chair and write the same line over and over. I give up and go online again.

The sun’s going down now and my meds haven’t kicked in yet. I walk to the store for another Diet Pepsi. I wonder what the guy behind the counter thinks of all the sodas I drink. I shouldn’t care, but I do. He doesn’t say anything. He asks if I’m enjoying the weather. I want to tell him that the only time I’ve been outside today has been when I walk down for a soda or go out for a cigarette, so no, I haven’t enjoyed the weather much. But I don’t. I don’t want him thinking I’m some kind of freak. I say the sunshine’s nice, that it beats the hell out of the rain we’ve been having lately.

I feel like I should stay and talk with him for a while. I mean, he started the conversation, but I can’t. There are people in line behind me and I just want to be home as soon as I can get there. It’s not even a five minute walk to my place from the store, but I feel exposed out in public. A man walks past me going the other direction and I tense up, waiting for him to come at me. He doesn’t even meet my eyes.

Back home, I lock the door behind me and put my soda in the refrigerator and take a shower. I sit in the tub, trying to relax. It’s time for me to be in bed, but I’m afraid of lying there thinking suicidal thoughts. When the hot water runs out, I towel off and curl around my pillows, waiting for sleep. It comes faster than I thought it would. One minute, I’m lying there, focusing on my breathing and the next, I’m dreaming. My dreams are easy dreams. They play through my mind without scaring me, or pushing me out of bed for a cigarette. I sleep through to morning.

The sun is only barely up when I go out for my first cigarette of the day, but the birds are singing and I notice that I feel okay. I’m not thinking of cutting, or stressing about money. I feel like I might live after all.

I write some and the words come like water flowing on the screen. I like what I read and write another. It’s not as good, but I keep it anyway. I’ll come back to it later and fix it up. Sometimes poems are like that. They’re either easy or hard. Sometimes the hard ones are better than the easy ones. Sometimes not.

I need to start a writing group. I need input and it wouldn’t hurt to have people I meet up with. My therapist would think it’s a good idea. She would like the idea of me getting out of my apartment and talking to someone. She thinks I spend too much time alone.

I could go to the college and start a group. They would all be a bit younger than me with different agendas, but they’d be people and I need people right now. I could go online and start a writing group there too. I wouldn’t have to face going out. That kind of defeats the purpose of socializing. My therapist thinks I need to spend time with people in person. She says it would alleviate some of my social anxiety if I forced myself out of my apartment more. She calls it de-sensitivity training, like getting past an allergy.

I give it some thought, but always find a reason to stay home. I tell myself there’s plenty of time. There will always be people in the world. I can meet them some other time. Right now, I’m busy convincing myself that my neighbors aren’t spying on me.

Fear

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , on June 4, 2010 by billalton

I’m scared. My son has a concert and I need to go, but there are going to be a lot of people there.

Used to be, I had pills to help with this, but Denise dumped them when we separated. She was afraid I’d overdose. So I deal with crowds on my own. Most of the time, I don’t have to worry about it. Most of the time, I’m alone in my apartment, safe and secure. I make sure the doors and windows are locked and I’m okay, but I need to go to my sons’ events. I need to support them.

All day, the fear rides me. A couple of times, I puke. I try to find things to fill my mind, so I won’t stress so much, but I can’t stop thinking of the concert coming up. I shake and try to think of ways out of going. I could say I’m sick. I could just tell Denise I can’t handle it and she’d accept it, but she’d look down on me. Not going would be a weakness. I can’t be weak. I’ll go, even if it means panic and vomiting. I’ll make do. I always do. It’s never as bad as I think it’s going to be. No one attacks me. Denise is the only one to say anything to me. We’ll talk about the minutes of the day. She’ll tell me about work and what the boys are up to. I’ll find something to say to her, even if my life’s gotten small and boring.

Denise picks me up and we ride to the school. She notices my shaking.

I try to still my legs, but the bouncing always comes back. I breathe and tell myself no one is going to hurt me. I tell myself this is just a concert. People are here to listen to their kids play music. They don’t even know me. They don’t care that I smoke too much, or that I’m scared silly.

At the school, I find the exits and pick a seat with my back to the wall so no one can get behind me. Denise shakes her head. She asks if I’m okay. I tell her it’s just nerves. She knows what I’m talking about. She’s lived with me for twenty years. Nerves are just another way of saying the crowd is too much for me.

She says it’s going to be okay.

But I’m still scared. People file in and I watch as many of them as possible. There are too many. I can’t find the threats.

Denise puts one hand on my knee. I’m rattling her teeth out.

I breathe some more and plant my feet. I try not to bounce, but every time I relax, the jumping muscles come back. I think of moving to a row with no one in it so I don’t bother Denise, but I like having her next to me. She makes me feel better. If something happens, Denise will be there with me. She’d back me up. Denise knows how to take care of herself.

The concert starts and I relax a little. Everyone’s focused on the stage. They’re listening to the music and watching the band. I’m just a guy in the back. Again, Denise puts a hand on my knee and I force myself to be still.

The concert is good. Some of the music is bombastic and I like it. I like music that crashes on the audience like a wall. My son plays a solo and I’m nervous for him, but he does fine. He always does. He’s quite talented.

When the concert ends, we wait for the crowd to thin out a little before leaving. When we get to the hallway, people wait for their kids and I have to force myself to not shove them out of my way. I weave my way through the throng and go out to the car for a cigarette while Denise waits in the courtyard for our son.

I made it. I didn’t have to take pills to get through the concert. I didn’t hit anyone. I didn’t run. I did well and I tell myself that I should be proud. It all seems silly to me now. What was there to be afraid of? No one even noticed me. I was just another parent. No one cared that I was scared stupid. They didn’t notice my shaking.

Denise comes out with Ethan and I grind out my cigarette. All the way to my place, we talk about how the concert went. Ethan’s not happy with how his solo went, but he never is. We talk about Confirmation. It’s coming up soon. Another event with a crowd. I tell myself I’ll be fine, but the burning fear’s already started. I’ll be fine, but I don’t really want to be there and I feel guilty about that. This is an important part of Ethan’s life. I need to be part of it, even if I’ve fallen away from the Church.

We pull into the parking lot and Denise says she’ll call me with details. I say goodnight and tell Ethan I thought he did fine. As soon as I’m upstairs in my place, I kick my shoes off and go out to the balcony for a cigarette. I’m alone again and wish I could’ve just gone home with Denise and Ethan. I miss the quiet hours. All I get now is events. There are always so many people around when I see my family. We don’t ever get a chance to just talk about what comes to mind. I don’t know how the boys are doing in school. I don’t know if they’re helping Denise out with the chores. I don’t get to be a dad. I’m just a visitor now.

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