At the Movies

September 29, 2009 § 1 Comment

(partially reconstituted from my old blog)

The plain and simple truth is that ever since the age of nine, or maybe even before, I’ve been living my life as if it’s being filmed, or more broadly, as if I’m being watched, monitored. To some this may translate to self absorption, but to me, it’s a journey through great directing and cinematography. The key to it is…I don’t really care if anyone really IS watching. I’m living my own Truman Show. And in fact, the majority of my performances are ‘filmed’ in solitude. Very often, when I’m alone (and thank God Marge or Todd could never speak and report these things), I narrate my life in a sort of Morgan Freeman-esque style, as if everything is a flashback.

She made chocolate chip cookies that day…golden brown and chewy…not knowing that the biggest phone bill of her life was waiting in the mail box. Not knowing that things would never…be…the same.

Sometimes, if the soundtrack to my life dictates it (a certain song comes on the iPod or the radio I mean) I will stop what I’m doing and stare wistfully in a mirror, remembering that trip I took to Manhattan, where I met Michael and Roger and we were roommates, just trying to make it in this crazy town. Or I’ll break down and cry at the kitchen sink at the loss of my twin brother Gareth who drown off the coast of Nantucket so many years ago. It’s like…it’s like he’s still with me. And then I’ll pick up a little spoon or a glass and ‘remember’ the good times we had with a pyrex measuring cup. Or wait…what was that sound? Has the murderer I’ve been tracking for the government (because I’m a world famous profiler/model/mother/novelist) finally found me in my remote cabin in the forests of Maine? I’ll creep around on the sides of my socked feet to find out.*

But really, some of my best performances are on the train. I’ll gaze out over the racing landscape, wondering if I’ll make it to the hospital in time to see Vincent before he’s gone forever, and will he forgive me for shutting him out of my life. Then I’ll do the slow motion blink/eye shift (and I do it in slow motion) that movie makers are so fond of, and see Mitch…who’s been tailing me since I left New Mexico. What does he want? It doesn’t matter, don’t make eye contact. Check the doors, the exits, listen for the next stop, fiddle with your gloves, sunglasses. Tuck a stray lock of hair slowly behind your ear. Stay discreet and he won’t know you’re there. Then I get off the train and walk briskly (if I’m wearing brisk walking high heeled boots), and look over my shoulder to make sure I’m safe. It’s also fun to pretend to be blind, deaf, foreign or my favorite, JUST A TOUCH INSANE. I’ll stare at people with kind of a steely gaze, out from under the eyebrows, or I’ll grind my teeth or crack my knuckles. At the very least, I give people something to talk about.

“I saw a fairly nice looking profoundly retarded girl on the train today, rocking back and forth and counting the stitches in her scarf.”

There’s an off chance that a lot of people think I’ve got some sort of Annette Funicello Slow Motion disease or something because I really like to use the slow blink, the slow “flashback” smile and laugh, and when I’m walking the dog, I like to do my slow, turn around and smile over my shoulder move. I only do it in the dark though, so some young Hispanic Gang Members don’t think I’m ‘taunting’ them with my middle class sensibilities.

I do a LOT of musical montages. Getting ready for work, I do a lot of laughing and smiling in remembrance of a failing romance. In the shower I do theatrical trailers for thrillers – FROM THE BEST SELLING NOVEL BY JESSICA MCCARTNEY….

I become startled and peek out of the shower curtain, or I splay my hand out and slide it down the wall as if I’ve been stabbed to death…or I’ll bring a real after school special aspect into it and slide down the wall, naked, and fake cry beneath the warm water, either because I’m a pregnant teen, or a bulimic, or I’ve been abused or something. I also like to do the afterschool special when I’m taking my pills in the morning (or any of the other sixty times during the day). I’ll put the pills on the bathroom counter or I’ll hold them right in the middle of my palm like on a commercial and stare at myself in the mirror, frowning at what I’ve become. Look at yourself. You can’t live without the smack, can you? You can’t even go to your own daughter’s confirmation unless you’re high, can you? And then I take the Fibercon or whatever other nerd medicine I’m taking that day and stare at myself again. Get a hold of yourself, junkie. And I splash water on my face and watch it drip off in dramatic fashion. Then I’ll finish the trailer with a big ‘chase scene’ through my house, hiding behind furniture, a hand closing over a doorknob, pointing an invisible gun down a hallway. Then I adopt a low, voice over guy tone and say,

Sometimes, the last person you can trust…IS THE LAST PERSON YOU SHOULD.


Sometimes I’m not so much in the movie as talking about during a retrospective of my life. I like to do the E! True Hollywood Story of my successful marriage, my struggle with chronic pain, my battles with major publishers to get my controversial stories published. I also do testimonials when I’m wearing jeans and black turtlenecks, like hip people do.

“My name is Jessica McCartney. I’m an actress and a writer in Chicago and I’ve been using Apple computers since I was 12.”

While I’m talking to myself I pose in still shots from magazines: me waving to the crowd, me trying to hide from the paparazzi, me on the beach, shading my eyes.

“McCartney struggled with weight her entire life, and now she’s a stunning size six, strong and prepared to face the world.”

I’ll admit that this is all much harder to do now that i have an almost equally dramatic two and a half year old girl running around the house with me, but the way I figure it, she could be written into the script, a baby washed up on the beach and I’m the nun who adopted her – with hilarious (touching? world changing?) results. Or we could just build forts.

So if you’re ever wondering why I’m such a homebody and I don’t mind spending so much time by myself, it’s because I’m mildly insane – and I’m making a movie.

* Have you ever noticed this? Women “creeping around quietly” in movies, be they shoed or socked, walk around on the outsides of their feet for some reason. Jeanie (Shauna) from Ferris Bueller is an excellent example, when she’s trying to sneak up on Edward R. Rooney dean of students as he breaks into her kitchen. She walks on the outsides of her feet. Are these the “quiet” parts of the feet?


Can we talk? Now?

July 8, 2009 § 6 Comments

Can you turn off the t.v. so we could talk for a minute?

Thank you. Thanks. Hey, I love you. OK? I love you. You know that. And you know it’s hard for me to say this, but I’ve been, not a great, well, not a great…blog writer lately. And it’s not fair to you, it’s not fair to me…just let the phone ring…no, don’t get it…wait…

Who was that? Who? From work? Forget it.

The point is that I’ve put my own crap, my own issues and feelings and experiences before my relationship with you and that’s wrong. I’m wrong. Yes, ok? I’m saying I was wrong and I’m working on it. I’ve gone through some weird stuff, not wanting to do craft tutorials or write down recipes or tell you about the awesome Christmas when I got a drafting table and the first A-ha! album. I’ve been kind of dealing with some stuff…well…not terrible stuff, no, just “different”. A different PHASE. Yes. YES I’VE BEEN TAKING MY MEDICATION. That’s not what I’m saying. I’m just saying that rather than focusing on “lifestyle commentary” I’ve been writing more fiction, and focusing more on…

please don’t turn on Andrew Zimmern. Please? You know I get sick watching this show why would you turn it on? Just…no fine…just mute it and let me finish. I’m going to throw up. Is that a monkey head? I’m going to puke.

Anyway, the point is that I’m going to do better. I’m going to tell you about how I’m afraid the youth of America are turning into monsters, and also my ideas for cheap home improvements on our new place, and more pictures and stories of my long distant childhood that I dream about every day, and how no matter how much you may THINK you’re a gardener, if everything in your garden turns yellow and dies, then maybe you’re not. OK?

OK. I promise I’ll do better and you promise to read and say SOMETHING ok? Please? Just, “Oh thanks. OK. great, great story.” Whatever. Why do I even bother?


Yes ok. You can watch your SHOW.

FICTION: Lanie’s First Kiss – Part 1

June 9, 2009 § 1 Comment

Since I’ve focused most of my creativity on writing lately (happily), I’ve decided to put some bits of fiction up. They’re not necessarily full stories, just some clips and scenes and character sketches I’m working on as I put together an outline/timeline for a full length novel. I do it mostly as discipline check for myself. If people expect to read stuff, I’ll have to write it. But I’m not going to give a definite “every tuesday” or “a scene in ten chapters” type thing. When it goes up…it goes up. AND YOU’LL LIVE WITH THAT AND YOU’LL LIKE IT. So, let’s proceed.

When she was younger, her family took an annual vacation to a resort lodge in the North Woods of Wisconsin on the shores of Pine Lake. It was always the second week of July, the same room in the lodge, the same seats in the dining room. It was a tradition her parents kept to this day – their home away from home.

The Five Pines Lodge was filled with other families keeping their own traditions as well, and seeing them at dinner on that first hot gold summer night was like a family reunion complete with hugs and tears and packs of glossy photos passed back and forth, holding memories of the same people in the same dining room, on the same kind of hot gold summer night the year before. But the year Lanie turned fourteen, that night was different. There was a hushed tone as the families gathered, welcomes were whispered in earnest, hugs held a bit longer than usual, heavy with a truer affection than before. As the room filled, more people shot sideways glances toward the table set yearly for the Harris family.

The Harris’ were a young sporty family of five, Michael the architect and his wife Amy were a few years younger than Lanie’s parents and they had a six year old boy and twins, aged ten. They’d spent the second week of July at Five Pines Lodge since Michael was a boy himself, never missing their week in the woods – even bringing their newborn son Ricky to the lodge when he was only a week old. Mr. Harris was always the one to organize an afternoon hike or a softball game, and was as popular with the kids as he was with their parents. Lanie’s father had jokingly referred to him as their dedicated cruise director – summer vacation wouldn’t be the same without him. But that night the cruise director’s table was empty.

It wasn’t until everyone had found their seats and began ordering their meals that the double doors to the veranda swung open letting Michael Harris step inside. Behind him were his twins, Max and Maddy wearing bright summer clothes that belied the gray shadows of their blank faces. Even now, fourteen years later, Lanie remembered the eerieness of that expression. They didn’t look sad or angry, they weren’t forcing a fake shallow happiness or stone faced bravery. They were just shells, like the neutral bodies and faces of the people in anatomy text books, eyes forward, brows relaxed, mouths a pale pink horizon – the subtle downward curve of the earth. Eerie, to be sure, but no one in the lodge expected them to be smiling.

Amy and Ricky Harris were dead. It happened not long after last summer’s trip, a well publicized plane explosion that killed 187 passengers three minutes after take off. Michael and his remaining children, an uncomfortable grouping, like a word missing letters but leaving the spaces, were supposed to take comfort in the fact that their loved ones had felt nothing. Take comfort in knowing that his six year old boy on his way to see his grandmother was most likely dead before he had a chance to know he was dying. These were emphatic assurances given by amateurs, school teachers, systems analysts, retirees, no one who had ever been in a plane crash and certainly no one who had ever died in a fiery explosion. That summer Lanie’s mother explained to her the term “cold comfort”.

Despite the initial shock of seeing the tragedy in the flesh, it seemed that this vacation was exactly what the Harris family needed. It wasn’t long before old friends, some closer than family, gathered around to hug and kiss them, to offer them the support and love that they’d waited a year to give, and before dessert was served, Lanie was surprised to hear little Maddy laughing at something her father had said. She turned in her chair to see the whole family smiling, heads bent close together in conversation, holding each other up. After all, they’d had a year to grieve their loss, to move ahead, to make their peace. It was everyone on the outside whose wounds were torn anew.


The Man Who Marks The Time

June 2, 2009 § 4 Comments

There are 2.8 million people in the city of Chicago and it covers a total of 237 square miles.  Come August, Brian and I will have lived here for 14 years, lived in five different apartments and I will have worked at five different jobs not including temp work and theatre.  During that time, I have encountered the same particular man, somewhere in the city, at some point, at least once every couple of years or so.  Were I not married I would honestly believe that God was trying to tell me something, trying to shove me into the path of Pepe Le Pew with a white stripe of paint down my back.

He’s a man a bit younger than me, not ugly, not handsome, not short or tall, just a guy.  I first encountered him when I started my job as an Executive Assistant for a brilliant but scatterbrained institutional investments consultant who rented space inside the Hancock Building.  I was a temp, and The Man © was a permanent employee in the office we rented space from.  He would run into me in the lunch room and give a nod, and a hi, and that was about it. 

Five or six years later, I started doing improvisational comedy at The Playground theatre on the North side of the city, and a few months into it I arrived at a performance only to see The Man© performing in the show right before mine.  I introduced myself and he remembered me from the job that I had just quit a few months before.  We laughed at how small the world was, and as it happened, I never saw him at the theatre again.  Time went by, we moved to two different apartments, and I got a new job in a completely different part of the city.  Shortly thereafter, I saw The Man© while at lunch in a food court somewhere near my building.  It was becoming something to take note of.

Now I am a classic victim of “Van On The Corner Syndrome”.  I learned about this via The Straight Dope, a Chicago newspaper column I’ve been reading for about twenty years now.  VOTCS happens when you start spouting off that there’s ALWAYS A VAN ON THE CORNER AT THE END OF OUR STREET!  ALWAYS!  The problem is, you only think of mentioning this when you notice a van on the corner, which means that you’re blocking out all the times that there ISN’T a van on the corner, therefore making your argument invalid.  So I began to say that The Man was THE GUY I SEE EVERYWHERE, when really, I’ve only ever seen him in about seven different places.  But it seems strange to me, that I see him in each of the neighborhoods I’ve lived in, each of the areas I’ve worked and at the theatre where I expressed myself creatively.

I had nearly forgotten about The Man© when I saw him standing on the corner of Wells and Hubbard, making his way to the same train that I take home from work.  I audibly guffawed, shook my head in disbelief, and then my eyes widened in horror.  His hair was going gray.  I’ve only lived here for fourteen years, but that means I’m fourteen years older, just like him.  And just like it’s hard to notice weight loss or gain when you see someone every day, it’s hard to notice fourteen years of aging.  I remembered back to the first time I saw him, and I thought he looked like a kid fresh out of college (not unlike myself).  I thought back on all the milestones of my life over these years – birth, death, gain, loss, struggle, success, friends made and treasured, friends lost or outgrown.  And even though I’ve only said about three sentences to him in my whole life, it felt important to see this man at the corner, hair gray at the temple, but still truckin’, still strong and relatively young.  I wonder if he saw me, and if the look of my face, my skin, my hair, had marked the time.

Returning to Kindergarten

May 21, 2009 § 2 Comments

I’m still having a hard time with my creative “flow” if you will.  You’ll remember that a few months ago I sprang forth with some sort of Inspiration Fountain of Arts and Crafts that lasted for a good two months and cost me hundreds of dollars at Joann’s and Michael’s – but don’t worry.  I managed to get my hands on a 40% off coupon.  I hear they’re rare.

Anyway, that slowly trickled away, what with the preparation for moving and a two and a half year old running around at top speed, telling me “Mommy, no sit down…let’s clean!”  (I don’t know how she got this sickness, but I will work tirelessly to find a cure.) I have a lot of craft projects left undone, a lot of fabric organized and uncut, a list full of tutorials I really want to follow, and I keep planning to do it tomorrow, this weekend, when I get home from work.  But I’ve always been tangential like that.  I pick up hobbies in the blink of an eye, devote my life to them for two weeks and then pack them up for a year until the tangent grips me again because I saw a woman painting in a McDonalds commercial.

But I guess what worries me is that I’ve never been tangential about writing.  Ever since I was a child and wrote a gripping ten page novel about a bug family that lived in a bush that caught fire, I’ve been in the clutches of the gentle madness of writing.  All through highschool I filled notebooks with plays and short stories and movies and novels, wasting study hall on developing the relationship between a teenager and an evil (yet sexy) Missionary rather than, you know, study for the classes I was getting Cs in.  Writing was my companion, my therapy, my diary in a way, and even when I took classes or workshops on writing and got negative feedback, I didn’t care, because I knew that my writing was good and I loved it.

But you know what happened? I started trying to make writing my career in earnest.  I finished a manuscript, edited it until it was air tight and started sending out query letters.  Editors called back asking for more pages, only to tell me that “It’s really great but…”.  I was told that my story was too strange, unmarketable, that I’d need to change giant plot points or characters or motivations in order to sell the book, but I wouldn’t do it.  I loved that book like it was a living, breathing creature.  I wrote the book I wanted to find in the bookstore, but it was unmarketable because it wasn’t like the other books in the bookstore.  So I put that airtight book in a box on a shelf and started writing a new book.  But this time I wrote “by the book”.  “Sum up the novel completely in the first paragraph,”  “no sexual content until at least page 72,” “only two adverbs per page”.  I dreamt up the story I wanted to write and then wondered how I’d have to change it in order to sell it.

That’s when I stopped loving writing like I did in high school.  That’s why I quit acting, actually.  When I started having to network and schmooz and ‘glad hand’ people in order to get to act, I lost my passion for it.  And I’ve made that same connection with my crafting/art/collage work.  Over the past year or so, I’ve only wanted to do crafting or art in order to blog it, or see if I could sell it on etsy, or MAKE SOMETHING MORE OF IT.  Something in my brain says “if there’s not more to it, it’s a waste of your time”.  

But Art for Art’s sake is important.  Drawing and coloring and painting and sculpture and collage are important to keep our minds sharp, our hearts open, our imaginations active, especially when you’ve got a two year old wanting to “DO SOMETHING” all the time.

So I started my Art Journal.  Not for the blog, not for a homework assignment, not for an editor or a boss or anyone else’s approval, just for me.  It’s a book I can paint in and sketch and put together collages and inspiration boards.  I’ve only done two pages…but I don’t care.  I only work on it when I really feel like it, and I when I’m bored, I stop.

It’s so simple.  But I think it’s a step forward.  I hope and pray and wish that this acknowledgment of creating for my own fulfillment will help me regain my love for writing.


So I can make it my career. D’oh!

Life in Progress – Spring has Sprung

March 26, 2009 § 2 Comments

Although I have made dire predictions in the past, I do believe that Spring is here. I know this because I finally looked at my collection of silver trees and snowmen and thought “that’s ridiculous”. I finally got the urge to redo the decor, open the windows and get out the fresh, clean, floral-y candles.

But along with that, Spring brings the return of my “single motherhood” as Brian started rehearsals and performances for his show, Lend Me A Tenor up in Arlington Heights. He was gone every day from 6 pm to 11 pm, and after Charlotte went to bed, I was left to my own devices, finally able to delve into some crafting once again.

Charlotte began complaining that she missed Daddy. It occurred to me that I hadn’t done any straight up scrapbooking in ages, so I followed the lead of Art Junk Girl and decided to alter an old board book into a Daddy and Charlotte book. She has 5,000 books and FOUR copies of Goodnight Moon, three of which are board book versions (which aren’t even the full story). So I took the one that was in the worst shape, applied Gesso to each page and the covers (it sounds so easy, but trying to keep all those pages apart so they don’t become one giant Gesso block is a reeeeal logic puzzle.)








After the Gesso dried, I painted over the pages in a white/gray acrylic paint coat just to give it an artsy look, not so screaming white. More updates as this book grows.


Charlotte, no doubt taking after her mother, has grown quite fond of setting herself up in boxes. She puts the box where she’d like it to be (in my bedroom while I’m putting on makeup… heretofore referred to as MAYMUK, which is her pronunciation), then she gets inside and asks for someone to bring her a blanket, a binky and some juice. I mean, let’s lay our cards out on the table here…it looks cozy.

I haven’t sewn in a while, but when I saw the super cute, super easy Kid’s Kimono over at Habitual, I knew it would be my first foray. I wasted approximately a yard and a half of fabric making that first kimono, screwing up the binding, the neckline, I tried to put a lining in it for the chilly spring and ended up making a twenty five pound kimono that was so stiff that Charlotte couldn’t put her arms down when she tried it on. I publicly laughed, privately swore, and tried again. BECAUSE THAT’S WHAT WE DO, RIGHT?T TRY AGAIN. You know my motto kids:

If at first you don’t succeed, try again. But then give up, there’s no point in looking ridiculous.

I trimmed the pattern and made a summer wrap shirt out of it with velcro closure instead of tie closure. I like it, although it’s a bit low cut for a two year old. It’s a bit low cut for a thirty year old, but maybe she’ll grow into it.  I must give credit and laudation to one Ms. Angry Chicken, whose tutorial on attaching bias tape without swearing is what got this shirt made. 


I have also started working on the world famous Twirly Skirt from House on Hill Road, but from the looks of it so far, I doubt I’ll be posting any pictures. They say practice makes perfect, but really, all I’d like is for practice to make half way decent. I’ve never asked for much.

The Crafty Crow is an awesome website, an aggregate of all the children’s crafts and art projects in the history of the world.  And pal, I’m not talking about macaroni necklaces and paperchains for Christmas.  This stuff is off the hizzy as far as learning, fun, creativity and originality.  Charlotte loves her some bathtub fun, particularly tub crayons and tub paint.  I bought her the Spongebob Squarepants soap paint set for christmas which she used up entirely in about two weeks.  It was 8.00.  So I took a cue from Wee Life, featured on the Crafty Crow and made up some homemade tub paint from cornstarch, clear dish detergent and food coloring. 


I chose the new Palmolive Pure & Clear not only for the color purity, but because it’s gentle and fragrance free and all that.  I was temporarily stumped on how to store the paint.  I had a set of six mini gladware containers in my grocery cart until I got to the beauty needs department (which I never skip.  EVER.  I always find a beauty need I need.  I could shop the cosmetics/bath/hair section of a drug store for three hours).  There I found a travel kit of four three ounce plastic shampoo containers IN A CLEAR PLASTIC ZIPPER POUCH for only 2.00.  Score.  The paint stays nice and neat in the containers and the containers stay nice and neat in the pouch.  Hooray!

Don’t be fooled.  I don’t all of the sudden love spring.  But for some reason, this spring arrived just in time with my creative energies and the bonus of having time to myself is allowng for some fun experimentation.  I think I’ve come up with my first product for Etsy (I’ve been stewing over what sort of shop I’d like to have over there), and i’m in the secret lab prototype stages of that, and the fresh air brought a new burst of writing energy that I’m trying to take advantage of.  I love crafting and cooking and sewing and drawing, but in truth, writing is my truest, deepest passion, and when I was without that drive to do it, I was lost.  So I hope this feeling sticks around.

Happy Spring!




The Cicadas

June 7, 2008 § 3 Comments

We watched you crouch on your grandmother’s patio, balancing on two tanned, calloused feet and squatting sturdily, feet flat on the floor, like only a young child can do.  You followed a shiny black ant as it struggled to find its way back to the gardens, its hill beneath the boxwood bush. Mulch filled with cocoa shells gave the garden an alluring smell that kept you beside it, looking for treasures like the shiny black ants, or chipmunk holes by the redwood fence. The poolside plants were perfectly sculpted, religiously groomed back then.  We watched your grandmother in the early mornings, her blue handled shears snipping away browned, sunburnt leaves and broken stems.  She hid all of those flaws in a brown paper lunch bag and threw them away before anyone came out to swim.  Each bush stood proud, a forced green sphere, all the same height, the same color, the same width.


It’s true that Nature favors symmetry.  You see it daily in the faces of those you deem beautiful, and the feather patterns of birds.  Look how the octopus is the same from every angle, the way a pine tree, unfettered, still grows into a soaring, majestic cone – a monolith in a field of pristine snow.


The shrubs.  They will find their own symmetry.  There’s no need for you to intervene.


You looked up when we sang out to you and your mother nodded from her poolside chair.


“You hear the hot bugs?” You said, one eye squinting into the sun, your head cocked to the side like a curious animal. 


“Mmm hmm.  Loud today.”


Your mother sat in an orange plastic chaise lounge that always looked dusty from its years of baking in the sun.  She was thin and golden tan, comfortable in a sun yellow bikini.  She was watching you as you soaked in the sun, but no worries about the pool only feet away.  You were an excellent swimmer, and even if you fell into the darker blue, deeper end of the water, she was confident that she could save you.  You’d been to the bottom when you were just a baby, your parents part of a ‘progressive’ generation that thought infants could swim by instinct.  You were gleefully tossed into the deep, sinking to the bottom and quickly bobbing to the top.  Is this why you love water now?  We don’t know.


We were loud that day, having finally been released from the cool, musty ground, our wings stretched out, while hot breezes raced across our backs.  Who wouldn’t sing?


And look at you now, still an excellent swimmer, although your swelling belly prevents you from diving or performing your kick turns at the end of a lap.  Instead, we crouch in the trees and watch you, slathered in sunscreen, floating, loose limbed in a bright pink inner tube while you talk to your mother.  Look how little you’ve changed in so long.  You assume the same postures, the tilted head and squinted eye.  It makes your mother nostalgic and a little bit sad.


“What about Downs Syndrome, have you been tested for that?” She asks, shading her eyes with one hand.  In seventeen years she hasn’t changed much, although it must seem to you that she has shrunk, since you’ve long surpassed her height by three inches.

“I guess.  They took all of the blood from my left arm.”


“All of the blood?” She asks, with a tone.


“Well, one tube.”


You are prone to exaggeration, and we think it’s to garner sympathy while retaining your sense of humor.  Our eyes are faceted, red, sharp.  It is not hard to see through you.  You laugh too often for someone so sad.  You laugh because it’s your weapon, a trick, slight of hand.


“They tested for EVERYTHING, and everything looks fine, but no one ever knows, do they?”


“It’s fine. I know it’s fine,” your mother says, just as easily as throwing you into the deep.


She knows you better than we do, of course.  She will not feed your fears like others will, like the books you read, the stories you hear.  She will not let you spiral out of control and play games of what if.  This has been her life’s work, to comfort and shelter you, to take the fear you radiate and absorb it.  It wasn’t until you were older that you wondered who took hers? 

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