About Artfully Adelie

"Each morning we are born again. What we do today is what matters most." ~ Buddha's Little Instruction Book, by Jack Kornfield I spent many years running from my story, and only recently found the courage to share it. My passions are writing, animal welfare, my family and friends, preserving the beauty of nature, reading, running, making a positive impact in the world, and eating ice cream. If you truly desire to learn more about me, my ideals are easily summed up in the works of Henry David Thoreau and Taoism.

Do You Remember?

 

PHOTO PROMPT – Copyright – Adam Ickes

Do you remember that time when we sat in the sand and watched the sun fall beneath the waves?

How about that time we slept beneath the stars…until the June bugs nearly dive-bombed us to death?

Or when we went sledding down the dunes and had sand in our hair for days?

…I still have my scar from the accident…

And if that’s never enough to remind me of you…Well, I still have this goat mask you wore when we got kicked out of the zoo for public intoxication.

You said our love was infinite….timeless…

But now…

You’re gone.


It’s been quite a while, but I’ve finally returned to the fantastic Friday Fictioneers, a group of writers from all corners of the world who write 100-word flash fiction based on a weekly photo prompt (many thanks to the wonderful Rochelle Wisoff-Fields for hosting and to Adam Ickes for this intriguing photo). I really appreciate you reading and hope you enjoyed my little *ficticious, of course* bit of nostalgia here. Please give the other fictioneers a read by clicking on the blue froggy link below!

Happy Wednesday to you,

Adelie

 

 

Easier Said than Done

Embed from Getty Images

 

With a headache that’s been riding me for days, there really wasn’t anything I felt like doing after making dinner and cleaning up the house. Only on the rarest of occasions have I actually went to sleep when the sun was still up, and I decided tonight would be one of those times.

I gave my husband a kiss before leaving him in his office and trailing off into our bedroom with our girls (a husky and beagle). But as soon as I closed the door behind me, it was as if this heavy, bone-crushing awkwardness filled the room.

You know that excruciating discomfort you feel when you’re stuck alone with the one person you’ve betrayed time and time again and cruelly abused mentally, physically, and emotionally?

It was crazy, really. As I brushed my teeth and set out my clothes for the next day, I avoided making eye contact with myself in the mirror.

With myself.

After coming to the realization of how dysfunctional of an internal relationship I have, I knew that the probability of gently gliding into dreamland was highly unlikely. So, like every other time I have some aching I don’t know exactly how to process, I pulled out my laptop.

 

And that is what led me here. It’s no secret that my bipolar has gotten the best of me lately. When that happens, I feel nearly every emotion under the sun, to the extreme. After the manic dust settles and the waves of depression have calmed, I’m left with the painstaking task of sorting through all of the debris. I have to distinguish legitimate thoughts and feelings from those that were fabricated symptoms of my illness. In order to do this, I must resist my urges to give up. After all, what’s the point of rebuilding everything, if I’m just going to tear myself back down again?

One helpful step in recovering from detrimental episodes (and I believe this goes for people without bipolar as well) is allowing yourself to grieve and fully process the pain, to forgive yourself, and to actively practice self-love and kindness.

I don’t doubt the merits of those steps for a minute. It all makes complete sense, and deep down, I know that’s what I need.

But I’m finding it nearly impossible to give that monster in the mirror who betrayed my body, my morals, and my principles the time of day.

Granted, it takes time to heal….but there’s only so much time left to give.

I’m reading books, exploring my thoughts, and attempting to reconnect with the essence of who I once was (I’m pretty sure she’s still there). Though, it feels like I’m trying to climb Mt. Everest in flip flops- I’m totally overwhelmed and fear that every shaky step forward is in vain.

Being kind to yourself is a necessity. It is a process, a daily practice. And this applies whether you’ve been consistently giving yourself the love and respect you’ve deserved for years, or if (like me), you find yourself back at ground zero.

There is no sufficient alternative to self-kindness. Filling your closets with expensive clothes and drowning yourself in doughnuts won’t do the trick.

Though it seems like being kind to yourself should be the easiest, most natural feeling thing to do, it often isn’t. A large part of that is due to our misguided evaluations of our self-worth and comparing ourselves to artificial standards.

I struggled with loving myself long before I accumulated a hefty collection of mistakes and shameful embarrassments. I inherited my family’s faulty thinking that all of the “touchy-feely” stuff was a disguise for unhealthy narcissism and dependence. Despite all that I know now, it’s still difficult to shake that ignorance and misconception.

While I’d love to finish this off with a list of five ways you can be kind to yourself, I believe you deserve more than hypocritical advice. Instead, I’ll leave you with what I’m sure of, right now.

You know the idea that the best things in life are worth the effort? Well, being kind to yourself is one of them. Sure, you might have a chance at attaining your goals while in a state of self-loathing, just getting by to prove your self-worth to everybody but yourself…

But imagine how much more enjoyable and effective it would be if you followed your dreams because you really believed in yourself? Because you knew that you deserved to be happy?

Well, my friend, you absolutely deserve to achieve your wildest aspirations and to live a life full of passion, happiness, and peace.

And whether I want to admit it or not, maybe I do too.

 

Be kind to yourself,

Adelie

What are you meditating on?

Embed from Getty Images

Worry is just a meditation on shit.”

Thanks for Sharing

Just a quick thought here. The husband and I went to the store to rent a video this weekend. I felt like choosing a movie just by its cover. This cover had Gwyneth Paltrow and Mark Ruffalo on it. They were smiling while looking at eachother, which in my mind is a symbol for romantic comedy. The rational husband said I should research the movie first, but I felt like being a little spontaneous.

Long story short- it is not a nice little chick flick that one can easily watch while drinking a glass of moscato and spooning a tub of Breyers ice cream their significant other.

Nope. This was a drama about sex addiction, with tiny bits of comedy sprinkled throughout.

Despite some of the slightly uncomfortable moments, it was a decent film. Though, I highly doubt I’ll be itching to watch it again.

Sometimes when I’m a little dissappointed, I search for the hidden gems. To me, this quote was a hidden gem.

I’ve worried my entire life, and as we all know, worrying is a complete waste of time. When I catch myself worrying, I try to tell myself the whole song and dance about me losing the gift of the present by focusing on something that may or may not happen. No dosage of meds has magically wiped away my ability to worry about whether or not I’ll make it to work on time, how healthy my parents are, or if I’m going to live long enough to have children.

So maybe, I need to be a little more direct in reminding myself about the uselessness of worrying.

I’m going to take this little mantra for a test drive. This one might be a little harsh or blunt, but I think it might be what I need, and I wanted to share it in case you might need it too!

And a happy Monday to you,

Adelie

 

Self-Censored

 

I’m breaking my silence. Though I’ve resolved not to return to my blog before I’m recovered from my recent bipolar breakdown, a post… a purpose…came to me that is much too urgent to put off until my outlook on life is all flowers and sunshine. This is even a type of post that I’ve never written.

It’s controversial. It’s blunt. It’s unsettling. It’s opinionated. But it’s important.

I’ll do my best to keep this PC and avoid overgeneralizations, stereotypes, prejudice, stigma, and all the other misdemeanors I might commit while trying to strike the shaky balance between expressing my views and going on a ceaseless tirade.

I’ll do my best not to offend… but then I would be an incredible hypocrite, regarding the whole point of this piece. So, let’s see where this goes…

 

A couple of the many things I love are music and dancing.

One of my favorite artists is Sia Furler.

I love her so much that I named my dog after her…..kind of an odd way to honor an idol, but I don’t have any kids yet. 🙂

Anyway, along with her incredible vocal and songwriting talent, she is a visionary who totally owns herself and her work.

In regards to my passion for dancing, I was in a ballet academy for eight years of my life. I still dance today, but it’s usually while I’m brushing my teeth or making breakfast.

I typically despise (harsh word, I know) “reality” shows because, in my opinion, they often feature ideals and behavior that are capable of contaminating people’s minds and souls (in my opinion, of course). Also, I hate being lied to. Just don’t call your scripted shows “reality,” and I’ll have a more open mind.

That being said, I stumbled upon the show Dance Moms this past winter. I truly thought I would hate it—all that drama with the moms and the instructors. And I did. But greater than my disgust in the petty drama that these adults drag the children into is my immense admiration for the skill, talent, and dedication of these dancers. It just blew.me.away.

I haven’t watched the last season or so of Dance Moms because it was kind of a crutch I used to get me through a cold winter and a long recovery from my running injuries. So, once the snow stopped falling and I was able to move around better, my nightly admiration of those spectacular girls fell by the wayside.

So tonight, as I was discovering more music (an effective tool in recovery), I stumbled upon Sia’s new music video for her song “Chandelier.”

I wasn’t even five seconds into the video when I paused it, ran to my husband in the other room and said, “You won’t believe who is in Sia’s video- Maddie Ziegler from Dance Moms!”

I was just uuber stoked because at only eleven years old, Maddie has made a tremendous, and well-deserved, jump in her dancing career. So, although the video was slightly odd (as most of Sia’s are), I was smiling the whole way through because I could only imagine how exciting and rewarding it was for little Maddie to have this opportunity.

Then, I did the thing one should NEVER do when they truly enjoy a video on Youtube- I scrolled down to read the comments. While I expected to read ceaseless praise on Maddie’s skill, it all became a debate about her skin-toned leotard.

Yes, this girl has impeccable talent and is finally being recognized worldwide, but more people are actually focused on what she’s wearing.

Basically, many people said they felt uncomfortable by her flesh-colored leotard because it was “bait for pedophiles.” They even said the video made them like the song less.

Excuse me, but this girl is amazing, and these people are ignoring all of her talent and basically criticizing her! Most likely, they’re making her feel ashamed for having a particular color of costume, which I’m assuming wasn’t even her choice. Whether the costume designer chose this nude-like leotard as a symbol of the character’s vulnerability, poverty, or illness—  is a completely separate subject and should not alter the reviews of this young girl’s performance.

This is an amazing success in her life, and if she’s catching wind of any of this controversy, and I’m sure she is, she might be (wrongfully) feeling guilty and embarrassed. To steal joy from a child’s accomplishments by saying “Well, you’re just encouraging the perverts out there,” is wrong on so many levels.

Coincidentally, I also read an article today on how women have to censor themselves— How we don’t have the same freedoms as men for fear of being sexually, verbally, physically, or emotionally assaulted.

This is a topic that deserves far more than one post from me, and like I said, I’m not one for standing up and shouting my beliefs, but perpetuating the idea that women (no matter what age) are responsible for not drawing unwanted attention to themselves is completely ludicrous. At all of our societal successes, why is gender inequality (on many more levels that just this) still existent?

Like any cause, there are several ways to address it on several different platforms.

I’ll admit, I haven’t been helping the cause, myself.

A couple of months ago, I went on the exhausting search for a new pair of work pants. Now, I work in the office of a manufacturing facility with only one other woman and a whole slew of men. Also, prominent “bubble butts” run in my mother’s side of the family, and I am no exception to that inheritance. I’ve been working at this job for a little over a year, during which I’ve heard some pretty vile things said about my body and what particular people want to do with it.

But I’m used to it.

Isn’t that sick?

And yes, I’m aware I could accuse the forty-or-so of them for sexual harassment, but (sadly) that wouldn’t really solve the problem that spans across societies. This happens everywhere. I just hear about it more because I work in a less-professional environment. While I’m used to being a subject of crude male conversations (as are most women), I don’t like it. In fact, when I really think about it, I feel a sort of disgust and shame for my body. As if it’s my fault for having those men say such rude things to and about me.

Anyway, being only 5’2, my selection for pants is even further limited. Trying to find a pair of pants that I wouldn’t have to hem but weren’t practically a second layer of skin was difficult. So, I finally found a pair that was “ok.” It was the loosest fitting pair I could find that still had the pockets I wanted and that didn’t hang off me like a pair of pajama pants that are six sizes too big. The downside, I would have to hem them. I tried them on for my husband at the store, and while he’s incredibly supportive, I could tell by his face that he wasn’t completely satisfied. He had a pretty good idea of the things guys would say about me before I even started working there. Before buying the pants, he gave me the usual, “If you’re comfortable with them…” agreement.

As we drove down the road with my new pair of pants in the back seat, there was palpable tension. To sum it all up, there was a lengthy discussion filled with yelling, swearing, and tears (all on my behalf, by the way). He wasn’t comfortable having my coworkers think dirty things of me (who would be, though?), and he felt these pants accentuated my assets more than my preexisting pair of pants (which is a single pair of pants I’ve been wearing for three years and is finally coming apart at the seams). I cycled through anger, embarrassment, shame, resentment, and hopelessness, as I felt I couldn’t please anyone.

All I wanted was to have a pair of work pants that was comfortable, professional looking, and didn’t bust apart at the seams.

But I wanted to be invisible. I didn’t want these pants to draw attention to me or to make my husband uneasy.

This all resulted in me screaming about how much I hate my body. How I wished no one noticed me. How the only way to avoid this entire situation would be to work from home or wear a burlap sack to work.

 

That was over two months ago.

Those pants are still sitting in my closet…tags still on…still unhemmed…

So, in essence, I’ve surrendered to the very monster I despise.

I do my best to wear loose clothing and extra layers, to avoid eye contact with strangers and to rarely smile when conversing with men, in order to avoid stimulating, or “inviting,” sexual advancements.

Writing this out makes me realize how completely insane it all is. But the truth is, I’m not alone.

Not at all.

I find it easier to stand up for others than myself, and the intention of this post was focused on the importance of teaching youth not to hide their talents or their passions for fear of how others may respond.

And yet, here I am, realizing that I’ve done nothing but perpetuate the problem by altering the way I dress, speak, and communicate.

So what now….?

 

Well, I’m going to sink back into my silence and continue addressing my “me” issues before I return to my usual postings.

But before I do, I’m going to offer my deepest, most profound gratitude for the heartwarming and encouraging support you’ve all given me, even when I sincerely asked you to give up on me and to go on with your lives. I promise I’ll return soon, not because I feel I’m that tremendous of an asset to the blogosphere, but because I hope that by publicly confronting my ugliest demons, maybe people with similar struggles will have an easier time coping. We’re all so comfortable to share our brightest moments, but our darkest ones deserve attention as well. I’m by no means a perfect being, but to remain authentic, I must share the good, the bad, and the bipolar. Thank you so much for not giving up on my and for giving my words the opportunity to be part of your life.

With true love and gratitude,

Adelie

Don’t Forgive Me

 

Have you ever watched a series and wondered why a certain character continues to be in the episodes, that character that serves no purpose and is just a waste of space and attention? Well, that character is me.

I’m not writing this to gain any sympathy, compassion, understanding, or the like- because I truly don’t deserve any of that. I’m writing to tell you the truth, that I am, in every sense of the word, worthless. Yes, my bipolar is behind this all, but I’ve realized that bipolar is just trying to weed out a bad one (me) from the good. I’m not writing this from a state of self pity- that would imply that I’m worth something, that I deserve to be happy, which I truly don’t. This is my permanent, accurate state of self loathing and just trying to do the right thing by sparing you from my presence. I’ve realized that no matter how much I accomplish in life, no matter how many people I help, it won’t change the fact I’m a monster and a burden to everyone I come in contact with.

Do not worry about me taking my life, I’m not worth your time or your prayers. I wouldn’t do such a thing because it would be selfish and just be a greater disappointment and burden to my family. So I’m telling you this because I don’t know if I’ll ever be back here, and I’m not worth you worrying or wondering where I went. I’m just being upfront and telling you honestly that I’m not even worthy of a thought in your head. This doesn’t change how much I’ve truly appreciated the generous support and kindness I’ve received from everyone here. But, I was never truly deserving of it, and so I’m leaving to save your time and energy. I considered keeping this ugly truth to myself, but it would be greedy to allow you to think I’m something I’m not.

I have no place being in your life. If I ever do return, it will be once I’m “well,” but what’s really the point of stringing you along with me further? I send you my love, for what it’s worth, and my sincere wishes and hopes for your happiness, peace, and success.

 

*If for some reason you’re unwilling to believe this, please just trust me and don’t offer any sympathy, empathy, compassion, or anything else I don’t deserve. Don’t waste your time leaving a comment, and don’t waste your time un-following me because I doubt I’ll comeback. Please don’t waste your time trying to comfort me or convince me otherwise. I know the truth, and I won’t be looking at any comments that are left because I don’t deserve to be comforted or made to feel that I’m anything more than the utter waste of space I am.  Heeding my warning doesn’t make you a bad person, it’s doing yourself a favor. Thank you, and I truly and sorry.

 

Washed Away

 

Embed from Getty Images

 

 

 

Blankets of tears slam against the window,

 

Alabaster clouds weep for me.

 

No barrier between man and nature,

 

We’re the same suffering being.

 

 

The sun shimmers behind brooding captors,

 

pleading for a softening smile.

 

I turn away, clutching a silver blade,

 

thunder argues in denial.

 

 

With a deafening crash and blinding flash,

 

my heart floods with devastation.

 

No remedy for this violent storm,

 

embracing my only option.

 

 

A bolt of lightning, I rush out the door,

 

Slick grass dragging me to my knees.

 

White dress clinging, a body done breathing,

 

pain streams into rivers and seas.

 

 

Steamy Saturday: No Rest for the Wicked

 

Copyright- Artfully Aspiring

Copyright- Artfully Aspiring

*Note: This is Part Three of a continuous Steamy Saturday series. Please visit Part One and Part Two to ensure ultimate steaminess.*

The subtle movement of the bed pulls me out of my sleep, as Mitch lies down next to me. I keep my eyes closed and struggle to keep my breathing shallow. I’m sure he’s too decent of a man to try anything while I’m sleeping, but I partially wish he wasn’t.

The screams of my body, aching for his touch, go unanswered. Eventually, I accept the reality that he fell asleep as soon as he hit the pillow.

But then I feel the slight bowing of the bed as he rolls on his hip, moving closer to me. Though we’re not touching, I can feel the heat of his body filling the gap between us. My pulse quickens, and I suddenly feel the jolt of energy to make the next move. Before I can, his arm encircles my waist. Mitch pulls me against him, and there’s a frenzy of excitement in my body, making it impossible to suppress a smile. He buries his head into the side of my neck. The stubble on his chin tickles me, while his sultry breath invigorates my tender skin.

You need to wake up,” he murmurs softly into my hair. I press myself into him further, fusing every curve of my body to his. “Come on, Abby,” he says, and I can hear the smile in his voice. I giggle under my breath and intertwine my fingers around his.

Abby, we’ve got to move!”

My eyes shoot open, and Mitch is standing by the door, with the black bag in his hand. My heart drops. I scramble off the bed and try to pull myself out of the dreamy fog. I look down to see that I’m still fully dressed, shoes and all, and I suddenly feel incredibly gross.

Can I shower, at least?” I quickly comb my fingers through my knotted hair.

Not here.” He grabs me by the hand and pulls me against the door with him. “A couple of them just walked into the motel office,” Mitch says in a hushed voice while scanning through the side of the window.

How could you see them?”

They can change into practically any form, and right now, they’re humans so they can track us easier.”

What do we do?”

Well, I’m guessing they’ll get the guy to rat on us, one way or another, and we don’t have enough time to book it to my bike, unnoticed.” He looks back at me, his eyes steady. “They’re going to ambush us.”

So, we’re just going to let them?”

He grabs me by the hand and takes me to the bathroom. “You need to stay in here, and I’ll take care of them.”

Can’t I help?” Is all I manage to ask before Mitch closes the door between us. I hear heavy scraping across the floor and then a thud against the bathroom door. The fact that I’m barricaded-in answers my question. With nothing else to do, I lean against the door to listen.

Nothing but subtle clicking and metallic popping sounds, as Mitch loads whatever weapons he’s kept hidden in the bag….And then, silence. Though I can’t see him, something between us tells me he’s collected and prepared, and that comforts me a little.

The crashing glass and splintering wood rip through the silence. Instantaneously, gunfire pierces my ears. I jump and trip backward into the shower. As I slam into the porcelain, I hear a pause in the chaos. Then, heavy footsteps approaching the bathroom. The ground shudders as the dresser separating us is shoved to the side. I press myself further against the wall and reach to pull the shower curtain closed, but I know it won’t save me.

Mitch!” My voice trembles and cracks.

The doorknob violently shakes, and my eyes lock onto the little button in the middle, praying it doesn’t give way.

Mitch…Please!” I scream, tears streaming down my face.

I watch as the knob loosens, weakening with every rattle. And then a heavy force slams against it. Two more gunshots just outside the door and then a strange sizzling.

Abby, unlock the door!” Mitch yells between labored breaths.

I gain stability in my quivering legs before running to the door. As soon as hit the button, Mitch pulls me out with one arm, wrapping it around me and pulling me through thick smoke. All I can see are the several writhing bodies sprawled across the room and the morning light guiding us outside.

My lungs fight for oxygen as we run to the bike. Mitch promptly sits me on it and intently straps on my helmet. I want to help him, by my fingers refuse to move, and my trembling lips refuse to speak. He presses his hands against my cheeks, as his eyes dart across my face.

Are you alright?”

I part my lips, but nothing.

Abby?” His voice waivers.

Mitch’s eyes widen, as his hands frantically pull-off my helmet and slide to the back of my head. The soothing rubbing of his fingers as they examine my skull enlivens me. My nerves begin to weave back together.

Yes,” I murmur loosely.

His hands jump to my face again.

Are you ok?”

I nod my head.

Alright, you’re riding up front.” He slides me to the front of the bike before sitting behind me. Mitch places my feeble hands on each of the handles before pulling a combination of switches and levers and placing his strong hands beside mine. We fly out of the parking lot and harshly turn onto a main road. My body jolts around with each bump until Mitch slides further into me and presses his thighs against mine. I feel secure, but I also feel…

Abby? Abby, stay with me! We’re almost there,” his voice cuts through the rambling of the bike.


I hope you enjoyed this week’s Steamy Saturday. I posted it a bit early because I’ll be gone for the weekend, while traveling across the state for my first 5K since my significant running injuries last fall. So, while I may not respond to your comments promptly, I truly appreciate them and would love to hear your input!

Keep it steamy,

Adelie

*P.S. In case you’re wondering, I’ve decided to use personal photographs for Steamy Saturday posts from this point on. I wasn’t finding the photos I was looking for online, so I decided to take matters into my own hands. I am by no means a model, so take it easy on me! Also, these images may not be reproduced or redistributed, not only because it is my body and my property, but because no one wants to see that! 😉

 

Up in Flames

 

PHOTO PROMPT Copyright -Mary Shipman

 

It’s a great fixer-upper…perfect for newlyweds,” the realtor chimed as I scribbled my signature.

With naivety and honeymoon smiles, my husband and I gazed at the crumbling castle that we vowed to make our kingdom.

Only two weeks later, I came home with paint and paste to find him drilling something other than the floorboards.

There comes a point when you can only repair something so much.

Despite his praying and pleading, I knew there was no way to restore this to its original beauty.

No more wasting time with tools.

 

With gasoline and a lighter, I make my final improvement.


 

I truly appreciate you taking the time to read my contribution to this week’s Friday Fictioneers, hosted by the magnificent Rochelle Wisoff-Fields. I’ll keep this short, because I’m sure you have better things to do than read my blabbering- like checking out some other stories from fellow fictioneers!

Eternally grateful for your love and support,

Adelie

Steamy Saturday: On the Run

Copyright- Artfully Aspiring

Copyright- Artfully Aspiring

I don’t know about you, but it’s been a while since I’ve steamed up my Saturday- a month-and-a-half to be more specific. It’s been rough, but I think the chaos has died down enough to let the steam roll in again. In case your memory is a bit fuzzy, please visit the first post of this Steamy Saturday series. And if you’re new here- well, you don’t have much catching-up to do!

 

 

I clutch his jacket tighter with every bump and curve. He’s driving fast, and I worry that the moment I lose my grip around Mitch’s sculpted body, I’ll fly off the back of the bike and into the claws of whatever might be chasing us.
After following the shoreline of Lake Michigan for nearly an hour, we finally slow down as we turn into a small motel with a faded wooden sign that reads, “Whispering River Motel.” Without saying a word to me, Mitch parks and climbs off the bike. I quickly follow him into the main office. He speaks with an older man behind the desk, who’s warily glancing at the license and credit card Mitch hands him. Meanwhile, I pull my drowsy gaze across the lodge-inspired wallpaper and to a rustic, bear shaped clock that tells me it’s 11:33 pm.
Okay, so maybe we were riding for more than an hour…
Anxiety trickles into my blood as I realize that, wherever I am, I’m a great distance from my home…with a man whose last name I have yet to learn.
“Alright, Mr. Glazebrook. Will this be a standard room or the lovers’ sweet?”
“Standard with two beds,” Mitch quickly responds while tapping his fingers on the desk.
“All we have left are single beds, sir.”
“That’s fine.” He slowly exhales, but it doesn’t relieve the visible tension from his body.
“Here ya go,” the man says while handing a single key to Mitch. “Room thirteen, the last one on the right.”
Before we walk to the room, Mitch returns to his motorcycle and grabs  a small black bag from the hidden compartment. As we walk into the musty motel room and turn on the flickering wall sconces, Mitch promptly closes the door behind us. He tightens all three locks and then glances through the curtain at the nearly empty parking lot. After a few seconds he turns to face me, his furrowed brow softens a little.
“How are you?” His eyes are on mine, but I know his attention is elsewhere.
“I…I’m fine,” I cautiously reply while sitting on the edge of the bed. He slowly paces around the room as if he’s searching for something.
“Look, it’s been a rough night. You should get some sleep.” Mitch walks to the other end of the room and pauses at the large window, looking out into the woods behind us.
“Aren’t you going to tell me what the hell happened back there?”
Still facing the window, I notice the back of his head slightly pivoting as he peers between the trees. “There’s not much to say at this point, Abby.”
“What are you talking about?” I burst up from the bed and approach him. “We almost got killed…by things we couldn’t even see. You blew up the bookstore, for heaven’s sake!”
He quickly turns on his heel and, placing his hands on my shoulders, pushes me away from the window.
“We’re not much safer here than we were back there, alright? You need to sleep while I figure out what the hell to do next.”
“I thought you said this was your life. Why don’t you have a plan?”
“This life is too sporadic to allow for planning,” he snarls. I sit back down on the bed and watch as his skin reddens, his veins surface, and his pacing quickens. “You think I knew they were tracking me? Like it was my plan to get you in the middle of all this?” He runs his hand through his hair before tightening it into a fist. “Any other time, I’d be fine. But now that you’re here, it makes my job a hundred times more difficult. Not only do I have to find out what the hell is after me-us, but now I have to watch both of our backs.”
“Sorry I’m such a burden,” I snap, “Just take me to a bus station, and I’ll get out of your way.”
Mitch stops in his tracks and takes a deep breath before sitting next to me.
“Look,” his voice softens, “I’m not behaving like I should, and I’m sorry for that. Thing is, I wasn’t lying back at the bookstore when I said that anyone that get involved with me and this lifestyle always gets hurt. It’s hard enough trying not to get myself killed.”
“Okay, then I’ll just go home, and you won’t have to worry about me anymore.”
“That’s the thing, Abby…” He turns to me with a look of defeat. “You’re already in this. The second they saw us together, they branded you with a kill tag. Not just them, but all the other wretched things out there have just added you to their hit-lists. There’s no compromising or exceptions. Once you’re a target, they won’t stop until you’re dead.”
My stomach drops as I realize the deadly reality of everything. This isn’t just some fantasy or weekend fling. My fate is marred and in the hands of a complete stranger. Everything that I thought was myth and fiction is now a haunting possibility. Shivering, I wrap my arms around my stomach. Seconds later, Mitch takes off his jacket and places it over my shoulders.
“Am I ever going home, back to my regular life?”
Mitch doesn’t respond. All that’s to be heard is the faint squeaking of the wooden motel sign, swinging back-and-forth in the evening breeze. With nothing left to say, I move to the head of the bed and slide beneath the covers. Mitch turns off the light and sits in the chair beside the window, still facing me.
“You can sleep in the bed too,” I mention, noticing the faint glow of the street lamp accentuating his stoic features, which I strangely find comforting.
“I’m going to keep a lookout and determine our next move.” His eyes scan the parking lot before returning to mine.
“You’ve got to sleep sometime.” I worry that my persistence is exposing my desire for his body to be next to mine.
“I will when you’re safe.” I know there’s nothing left of this discussion.
“Alright…Goodnight, then.” I close my eyes and replay this awkward, yet intense, sequence of events with this mysterious man. My heart sinks as I settle in to this cold, lonely bed. I’ve always been independent, but this is a rare time in my life where I could really use some support. But then I remember that I’m nothing but a liability to him.
As I drift off, I peek between a sliver of my eyelids.
Mitch’s gaze drifts across my face, the hurricane in his eyes now turned calmed waters.

 


 

Thank you so very much for steaming up your Saturday with me! To be honest, I had to de-steam this post a bit to make next week’s even hotter! I truly hope you enjoyed this, and I hope your weekend is filled with steam, spice, and everything nice!