work

He rubbed his temples but the pain didn’t subside.  It never did and yet he persisted each time his head ached.  He never really thought about it either, it was just something he’d always done, some habit picked up along the way.  He did, however, force his jaw to relax because he knew if he was grinding his teeth his headache would never go away.  The clenching always come about involuntarily but with concentrated effort he could make it stop.  Most of the time.

Sometimes only sleep would provide him relief.  Most of the time sleep was a luxury he could not attain.

At the moment it felt like someone had taken a hammer to his head.  Though, in truth he didn’t really know what that would feel like and only could imagine.  He seriously doubted he wanted to know what it actually felt like but since his jaw and cheek bones already throbbed as if broken, perhaps he could at least guess.

He sighed and pushed the pain away.  It didn’t work completely but it was enough for him to get back to work.  The promise of his bed at the end of the day helped some too.  The mind, as always, was his strongest muscle.  Exercising it could help him power through everything else that needed to get done.  And there was a lot he still had to do.

The bed would be there but not necessarily sleep.  Good sleep.  Dreams.  He didn’t always want the dreams anyway.  The things he had done haunted him when they came.  He let the doubt and self-loathing consume him during his awake hours too much already to also be happy when that aspect of his psyche took control of his sleep.  Sleep was restorative and essential but he found himself pushing it off for longer and longer intervals.

He couldn’t actually remember the last time he’d slept.  It didn’t matter, though, he had work to do.

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norm

dav

The green hills whisper their secrets of rain and sun.
The char from the summer fires isn’t gone or forgotten.
It rests beneath the lush grasses and vibrant bushes
And whispers its own secrets of flaming touches.
It pokes through here and there to ensure it is seen.
To be seen is to be remembered and that is everything.
For the summer winds will come again like always
And all it takes is a spark and the hills will be ablaze.
When the hills go up, some homes will surely follow,
They line the ridges and fill the canyons and hollows.
This cycle repeats every year, from green to brown to fire.
We sacrifice much to the pressures of the social norm pyre.

rain

The ground was slick from the nearly invisible drops.  They were so light and tiny that he could barely feel them.  It was more like walking through a mist than normal rain but still was falling enough to accumulate on the concrete at his feet.  It had been a wet winter and he had been thoroughly enjoying it.  Rain was a special thing, a rare thing in his opinion, meant to be celebrated and enjoyed.  Perhaps that was a result of growing up in the desert where rain was scarce or perhaps that was just part of who he was, who he would have been regardless of where and how he was raised.

He used to go walking in the rain, let it pour over him, drench him, and exalt in the experience.  Then, frozen and dripping, peel off his clothes and take a warm shower.  Afterwards, he would curl up in a chair near a window and spend hours watching the rain, watching it catch the light, watching it slash sideways in the wind, watching pool.  He was enchanted by it.  In truth, he still was but no longer had the leisurely hours to spend in such a manner.

The sound of his steps echoed in the narrow corridor.  He walked under an awning, sheltered from the drizzle.  He longed to step out into the open and once again revel in the feeling of the water soaking into him but his responsibilities came first.  He had to finish his day at work.  Had to get home and spend time with his family and get his chores done.  Then, if it was still raining and all went smoothly, he might be able to carve out a few minutes to sit by the window and listen and watch.  In the meantime, his short walk around the building would have to suffice.  He was close enough he could reach out and touch the storm, even though he kept himself from it.

distance

The lights bobbed in the distance, as if the land had turned liquid and they were beacons moving up and down with the swells.  Blinking my tired eyes did little to stabilize the view.  This was nothing new, though.  My weak eyes had long had problems with lights at distance in the dark.  That sentence would remain true if it had just been distance.  The dark only made it worse.  Lights were a trick I would always fall for, a riddle I could never solve.

The lights continued to bounce and I carried on, trying to ignore them and their trickster commentary on my shortcomings.  The day would come and the lights would fade behind me and out of my memory while the sun took its place in my horizon.  The distance would solidify once more.  My sight would improve.  And the two, intertwined, would improve my mood even if only for a short time.  Sometimes that is all that is needed, a small moment of hope and brilliance, of clear sight, to fight against the darkness of our days and thoughts.

The lights crashed and retracted.  My mind raced.  The road beneath my tires slipped by from the darkness ahead to the darkness behind, the dashed yellow line ticking off the miles.  The lights, moving unnaturally in their swaying, hypnotizing, distracting way, tried to grab my attention, tried to suck me into their depths and I ignored them.  But, not entirely.  They held too much sway in the way they moved, like buoys on a rising sea, for me to forget them entirely.

safe 4

Well, what do you know, I found some more to write in this safe series.  I’d say “enjoy” but I’m not sure that’s really the point…

…..

She had seen the patrol car pull into the parking lot and knew they were coming for her so she had already begun to walk away when the officer called out to her.  She was loath to talk to them.  Sometimes, most of the time, they just wanted to make sure she was okay but that didn’t make up for the few times where they hassled her, threatened her, and treated her like less than human.  Those interactions always left her worse off and she didn’t need that at the moment.  It had already been a rough week.

They called out a second time and she didn’t feel like she could ignore them anymore.  She hoped that the edge she heard in their voice was from nerves and compassion rather than nerves and frustration.  She turned towards them and smiled.  “Good afternoon, officer.”

“We received some complaints that you were harassing the customers here.”

That was a common accusation and she had learned of all the ways she could respond that silence was the best.  If she denied it, the officers would scoff.  If she admitted to it, they would scoff.  If she said nothing, they would usually take a minute to study her and then she would see what kind of officer they were.  The good ones would see she wasn’t a threat to anyone, including herself, and then would ask if she was okay.  The rest would threaten her with jail, put her in handcuffs, search her, or worse.  She didn’t like to think about the worst of the worst.

“You have someplace warm to get to?”

She breathed a sigh a relief, “Yes, officer.  I’m headed there now.”

“You want a ride?”

“No, thank you.  I like getting my steps in.”

The officer chuckled a little, seemed to study her for a moment longer and then shrugged their shoulders.  “Stay safe.”

“Thank you, officer.”

She turned away and carried on, not yet sure where she was headed.  She had options, of course, that was the only way to survive long term on the streets.  But, that didn’t mean any of them were good options.  That depended on the day and who else found their way to the various spots that offered shelter from the cold and the rain.  Sometimes the streets were safer because the people you didn’t want to meet found their way to the shelters when the weather turned sour.  She was cold, though, and would risk it for a couple hours just to get warmed back up.

Which one to head to, though, was the question.  She stopped on the corner of the grocery store parking lot and looked up and down the street, gauging her options.  The rain picked up and lashed against her face, driven by a brisk wind coming in from the coast.  Each dropped pricked at her exposed flesh like the tiny sharp icicles they were.  Still, things could have been worse.  The officer could have been one of the bad ones.