Flashback (revisited)

This prose piece could be triggering for readers with a history of trauma and flashbacks.


It is the flood of emotion that always makes me flee.  I am scared, angry, unsafe, fighting panic and the need to flee like a wounded gazelle being chased by a lion.  The triggers are unpredictable but the reaction is not.  It is like someone is ripping my chest open, using a rib spreader, exposing the fragile membranes around my heart to the glare of light.  I clutch my hand to my chest, as though I can hold the gaping edges of my body closed the way one would the sides of an unbuttoned shirt.

Gratefully, I make it to the sanctuary of the bedroom before the tears start to escape.  I do not turn on the light.  The key is to make myself small.  I sit on the floor, back against the bed, feet under the dresser and pull my knees to chest, hugging them tight.  I envision the weight containing everything that is currently threatening to spill out.

For a while I simply sob, inconsolable, all of my emotions bleeding out onto the floor.  It is almost a howl of despair, at least to my ears.  In calmer moments I realize that I have mastered the art of crying almost silently.  But this audible expression of this grief, this raging tsunami that can hijack me and destroy my careful control is almost unbearable to my ears.

I dig fingernails hard into the palms of my hands, hoping that pain will be grounding, try to calm my breathing, quiet tears, regain some sense of mastery, of ownership.  I don’t try to draw blood but sometimes it happens.  The pain does break through chaotic emotion enough for chest pain to start to ease, for breathing to become easier.

There is a tentative knock on the door.  I am not sure how or if to respond.  We are new together and he is not familiar with nights when the wolves howl and throw themselves at my door.  He does not understand that it is nothing that he said, nothing that he did, but simply the threat of our growing intimacy that leaves me emotionally open, vulnerable, that triggers the flashbacks, sends body and mind into this panicked state that it is so hard to come back from.

He slowly opens the door.  It takes a moment for his eyes to adjust to the dim after the brightness of the hallway.  He is more shape than substance.  I think he might speak but instead lowers himself to the floor.  When I remain still, silent, he crawls cautiously over.  Approaching me as if I am a trapped, wild animal that might bite.  I am momentarily panicked but I calm when he does nothing but slide next to me, joining in leaning against the bed, our shoulders lightly touching.  I allow him to put his arm around me and in a rush of released tension lean my head against his shoulder.

© 2017 Christine Elizabeth Ray – All rights Reserved

How do you spell that again?

As some of you may be aware, I have been struggling with some very frustrating and disruptive physical symptoms since January of this year.  I am one of the lucky ones.  I work in a world-class medical system and have had access to great care over the last nine months.  But even those fabulous doctors were baffled after sending me for three MRIs, 2 CAT Scans, an EMG (NOT a treat– take my word for it) and drawing at least 28 tubes of blood.  Words like “enigma” and “mystery” have been thrown around a lot the last nine months.

Good News:  I finally have a diagnosis.  Bad News:  I have a chronic condition with no known cure that I still misspell on a regular basis.  I am more grateful than I can say that I don’t have a brain tumor, ALS, MS or a host of other scary conditions that my doctors ruled out.  But learning that I need to make my health my number 1 priority and pace myself has been tough.  It is also tough to live with an invisible illness-  I don’t look “sick” so it is really hard for the people around me to understand that I am not being lazy or difficult when it takes me a long time to do something I used to be able to whip out.

A dear friend sent the link for this fabulous article that is spot on about what it is like to live with an invisible illness.  If you are struggling with an invisible illness or care about someone else who is struggling Christine Miserandino’s The Spoon Theory is a MUST read

Peace and light friends

Christine/Brave and Reckless

 

Feline

We never talked about the monster inside me.  Crouched on the bed, cold white skin, dark pupils dilated like dinner plates, your bodily fluids fragrant on my tongue, feral and remote, licking my own blood off my fingers.  Repulsive and enticing in equal turns.  Never knowing if I would fade into the night for days or months, or pounce like a panther, holding you hostage on the edge of pain and pleasure, making you moan deep in your throat, your fingers knotted in wrinkled sheets, relishing your scream of release that I alone owned, finally settling down like a contented house cat, licking cream off both our mouths.

 

© 2017 Christine Elizabeth Ray – All rights Reserved

My Attic Room

You and me in my attic bedroom in Somerville.  Green and tan striped wallpaper inexpertly hung on deeply slanted walls.  Futon on the floor, the smell of warm cedar, window fan lazily stirring the air.  Dust particles floating suspended in golden light that falls across the hardwood floor in a diagonal.  Your eyes the bluest I have ever seen.  Your skin so pale it is almost translucent. Your short hair black and curly, surprisingly silky to my touch.  Your mint fresh breath against my mouth as if you could breathe for both of us.  We try to stay away from each other but we are the drug the other is always craving, we are the hum in each other’s blood. You don’t tell me how you explain your absence from home and I don’t ask—you are the only thing that makes me feel alive.  Your soft breasts visible under ribbed white men’s undershirt that sticks to your skin with summer sweat. You  twist your fingers in the belt loops of my shorts, pulling my hips closer to yours.  Our mouths always hungry, our bodies straining to meld into each other through layers of thin cotton. We are liquid fire in each other’s arms.  The feel of my hands tangled in your hair, the hitch in your breath when I trace your throat with my lips.  We tell ourselves that it is just kissing, that as long as our shirts and shorts are on this is not an affair.  We rationalize this wildfire passion to ourselves, to each other, even when we arch our bodies into each other, even when you give me your gentle and your fierce, even when you call in the middle of the night to say that you can not stop thinking about me, that you can’t live without my apricot kiss.

We Danced with Fireflies

Speak to me of summers past

when cool, damp grass reached for bare feet

with long grasping fingers

as we ran through the night

quicksilver

chasing fireflies through an indigo sky

living completely in the moment

us, on the cusp of adulthood

you, innocently offering cupped hands

to hold moonlight for me

the radiance you captured

carved your image

into my night

me, changed by sudden awareness

of your beauty

and how dear I held you in my heart

 

© 2017 Christine Elizabeth Ray – All rights Reserved

Image by Gregory Crewdson

 

After

Our breathing is still rapid, labored, but starting to calm.  Your hands are entwined with mine above my head.  Your lips look bruised from our passionate kisses when you lean in to kiss my lips again, then my forehead before you carefully untangle yourself from me.

I don’t know what comes next.  This is the first time that we have made love and everything is new, unfamiliar.  Our bodies are relaxed but the emotional intimacy between us is still fragile, as delicate as a globe of hand-blown glass.

You lay yourself next to me on your side, facing me.  I rotate my body toward you, now on my side as well. We are inches from each other.  I am aware that this almost feels more naked than when our bodies were joined.  I can feel the warmth coming off your body, the dampness of your skin.  Our scents mingle together in the air.  You must notice my goosebumps, my skin chilled without your enveloping warmth.  You pull the covers up to our shoulders and under the sheets you drape your leg over mine, offering me your body heat.

Your head is cradled on your bent arm.  I have never had this opportunity before to look so directly into your eyes. They are a startling blue, even in this low light, your lashes almost colorless.  Your reach out and touch my cheek, caressing it with your palm and then with the back of your hand. Your hand then moves slowly down my shoulder, brushing my arm, searching for my hand under the covers, which you clasp.

You bring my hand to your mouth and kiss my knuckles one by one.  You have not broken eye contact with me and I wonder idly what you are thinking right now but decide not to ask.  I will settle for the mystery and warmth in your eyes. Your hand again starts to travel up my arm slowly, resting on my shoulder.

I reach out and touch your face.  Your beard is surprisingly soft.  I trace your cheekbone, finally feeling at liberty to really look at you, to explore you.  There is a new knowing between us but so much we still haven’t learned yet, despite our coupling only moments ago.  I want to memorize you with my eyes, smell your skin and breath, paint you using all my senses, create muscle memory in my palms, in my lips so I will be able to recall the feel of you, the taste of you, the way you look right now in this moment.  In this after, when the rest of the world has fallen away and there is only you and I.

3rd Place Moon Ate the Dark Challenge: Ash Cheyne /Bang Bang Theory:

My guest judges and I have read an incredible amount of innovative, diverse and thought provoking entries in the Moon Ate the Dark Writing Prompt Challenge.  Now we will announce the 3rd place winners, which were split in a two-way tie.


I burst through the stratosphere engulfed by beautiful coloured light. So silent, yet my voice is loud and echoes back to me amongst the stars as if I’m talking to myself. I only have to think and it happens. Have I found God?  Maybe I am God out here. I make the stars disappear and they come back in a breath just as suddenly as when everything becomes brilliant white like the suits and masks they are wearing. Like the moon ate the dark.

They chatter loudly to each other and I wish them to be quiet and to leave me alone and they do for a few seconds, but they return and push me through the rapid light. Then the darkness. Nothing. No room for thought. I must be careful what I wish for out here in the universe. Then excruciating pain and a sense of blood and chemicals roaring through my veins.

It’s a familiar smell. I’ve been pumping gas for a while now, so it should be. It’s a long way from astro physics. You know; heavenly bodies, galaxies and cosmic microwaves. That type of thing. Need to pay the bills though and so this and my other two mind numbing jobs all help with my studies.

He pulls in on his motor cycle and stares me down. A beautiful piece of engineering it is. Too good for the likes of him. He probably stole it along with the expensive shades. Lobbing the keys at me, I am instructed to fill it up as he strolls to the kiosk. Pretty rude but I was used to it and besides, he looks dangerous so I don’t say anything. I had the keys so I should have just climbed on board and taken off. I imagine the exhilarating speed. The ultimate rush. The look on his face. Man, machine and technology as one.

I stand in space, my helmet and gear gone; floating. They have their backs to me, still chattering and I shout at them but they ignore me.  I look back at Earth and hold my hand out. So close I can almost touch it. They turn towards me and I see their faces for the first time. Oddly humanlike; I can make out traces of friends and family. I see my mother clearly. I wish for her to come to me; to talk, but she holds her head in her hands and screams at me. I’m not sure what’s real now.

I lose sight of him for a while and then I see him again in silhouette through the window by the counter. He’s pulled a gun on the owner who’s tried to empty the till and keep his hands up at the same time. Then a bang. Another bang and the door swings open. He strides towards me and everything goes from slow motion to high speed in a matter of seconds. I’m still holding the pump handle and look down at the large puddle circling my feet. He demands his keys and as I hand them to him, he casually finishes the last of his cigarette and flicks it at me. I try desperately catch it but as it hits the ground there is an ear splitting bang and a huge flash followed by intense heat.

The rapid lights have stopped but the white suits and masks are all around me again. Only one talks. He barks orders at the others and they mostly concur and hand him things. Everything fades until a piercing bright light propels me back to my reality.

The sun streams into my hospital room and the doctor tells me I had a very lucky escape. I don’t understand. I’m still here.


I am Scottish but I live in New Zealand. I write poetry, short stories and am working on a novel.  I blog at Write Away

Moon Ate the Dark Challenge: Ash Cheyne /Bang Bang Theory:

I am really excited and pleased by the amount of submissions I received for the Moon Ate the Dark Writing Prompt Challenge.   I intend to post all of the submissions on Brave and Reckless.  Please give a warm welcome to this group of new and experienced writers!


I burst through the stratosphere engulfed by beautiful coloured light. So silent, yet my voice is loud and echoes back to me amongst the stars as if I’m talking to myself. I only have to think and it happens. Have I found God?  Maybe I am God out here. I make the stars disappear and they come back in a breath just as suddenly as when everything becomes brilliant white like the suits and masks they are wearing. Like the moon ate the dark.

They chatter loudly to each other and I wish them to be quiet and to leave me alone and they do for a few seconds, but they return and push me through the rapid light. Then the darkness. Nothing. No room for thought. I must be careful what I wish for out here in the universe. Then excruciating pain and a sense of blood and chemicals roaring through my veins.

It’s a familiar smell. I’ve been pumping gas for a while now, so it should be. It’s a long way from astro physics. You know; heavenly bodies, galaxies and cosmic microwaves. That type of thing. Need to pay the bills though and so this and my other two mind numbing jobs all help with my studies.

He pulls in on his motor cycle and stares me down. A beautiful piece of engineering it is. Too good for the likes of him. He probably stole it along with the expensive shades. Lobbing the keys at me, I am instructed to fill it up as he strolls to the kiosk. Pretty rude but I was used to it and besides, he looks dangerous so I don’t say anything. I had the keys so I should have just climbed on board and taken off. I imagine the exhilarating speed. The ultimate rush. The look on his face. Man, machine and technology as one.

I stand in space, my helmet and gear gone; floating. They have their backs to me, still chattering and I shout at them but they ignore me.  I look back at Earth and hold my hand out. So close I can almost touch it. They turn towards me and I see their faces for the first time. Oddly humanlike; I can make out traces of friends and family. I see my mother clearly. I wish for her to come to me; to talk, but she holds her head in her hands and screams at me. I’m not sure what’s real now.

I lose sight of him for a while and then I see him again in silhouette through the window by the counter. He’s pulled a gun on the owner who’s tried to empty the till and keep his hands up at the same time. Then a bang. Another bang and the door swings open. He strides towards me and everything goes from slow motion to high speed in a matter of seconds. I’m still holding the pump handle and look down at the large puddle circling my feet. He demands his keys and as I hand them to him, he casually finishes the last of his cigarette and flicks it at me. I try desperately catch it but as it hits the ground there is an ear splitting bang and a huge flash followed by intense heat.

The rapid lights have stopped but the white suits and masks are all around me again. Only one talks. He barks orders at the others and they mostly concur and hand him things. Everything fades until a piercing bright light propels me back to my reality.

The sun streams into my hospital room and the doctor tells me I had a very lucky escape. I don’t understand. I’m still here.


I am Scottish but I live in New Zealand. I write poetry, short stories and am working on a novel.  I blog at Write Away

Flashback (revisited)

This prose piece could be triggering for readers with a history of trauma and flashbacks.


It is the flood of emotion that always makes me flee.  I am scared, angry, unsafe, fighting panic and the need to flee like a wounded gazelle being chased by a lion.  The triggers are unpredictable but the reaction is not.  It is like someone is ripping my chest open, using a rib spreader, exposing the fragile membranes around my heart to the glare of light.  I clutch my hand to my chest, as though I can hold the gaping edges of my body closed the way one would the sides of an unbuttoned shirt.

Gratefully, I make it to the sanctuary of the bedroom before the tears start to escape.  I do not turn on the light.  The key is to make myself small.  I sit on the floor, back against the bed, feet under the dresser and pull my knees to chest, hugging them tight.  I envision the weight containing everything that is currently threatening to spill out.

For a while I simply sob, inconsolable, all of my emotions bleeding out onto the floor.  It is almost a howl of despair, at least to my ears.  In calmer moments I realize that I have mastered the art of crying almost silently.  But this audible expression of this grief,  this raging tsunami that can hijack me and destroy my careful control is almost unbearable to my ears.

I dig fingernails hard into the palms of my hands, hoping that pain will be grounding, try to calm my breathing, quiet tears, regain some sense of mastery, of ownership.  I don’t try to draw blood but sometimes it happens.  The pain does break through chaotic emotion enough for chest pain to start to ease, for breathing to become easier.

There is a tentative knock on the door.  I am not sure how or if to respond.  We are new together and he is not familiar with nights when the wolves howl and throw themselves at my door.  He does not understand that it is nothing that he said, nothing that he did, but simply the threat of our growing intimacy that leaves me emotionally open, vulnerable, that triggers the flashbacks, sends body and mind into this panicked state that it is so hard to come back from.

He slowly opens the door.  It takes a moment for his eyes to adjust to the dim after the brightness of the hallway.  He is more shape than substance.  I think he might speak but instead lowers himself to the floor.  When I remain still, silent, he crawls cautiously over.  Approaching me as if I am a trapped, wild animal that might bite.  I am momentarily panicked but I calm when he does nothing but slide next to me, joining in leaning against the bed, our shoulders lightly touching.  I allow him to put his arm around me and in a rush of released tension lean my head against his shoulder.

 

© 2017 Christine Elizabeth Ray – All rights Reserved