choices

I’m stuck on the transport bus next to this crazy mother I did time with in Juvie. Ohhhhhh what memories.

“This guy?,” I think. “Really? Of all people I never thought I’d see again and here he is, just like me, cuffed, shackled and in a metal box, I mean bus.”

I turn my head away hoping to stay inconspicuous, leaning against the area where a window would reasonably be expected, except, not here. This is a prison transport bus and nothing opens or shuts without assistance. Windows? I wish. Doors. Cuffs. Shackles. Our minds.

We were young, Derrick and I, when we robbed that jewelry store after finishing our last day of tenth grade. I’ll never forget his enticing smile and beguiling words, “C’mon, what can happen?”

Nineteen long months in Broward Juvenile Detention Center helped me re-assess the effectiveness of some of my behaviors and attitudes. I probably wouldn’t have finished high-school and definitely wouldn’t have graduated law school. Conversely, Derrick, I heard, took a detour straight into a “dead” end.

I wonder, “Does he recognize me? How could he NOT?” I knew him immediately. Those eyes, still warm and brown, only now, hard as diamonds.

I feel something poking my side that I try to ignore. I just want to sleep until we get to Gates Correctional Institution. After booking and processing, we’re gonna be locked down in the medical unit for twenty-three hours a day while being evaluated and oriented; the first week is nothing nice.

Again, poke, poke, poke. No longer able to feign ignorance, I slowly open my eyes and actively shift my body, indicating potential waking behavior. Peering out narrowed eyelids, I gaze upon Derrick’s familiar smile and brown eyes. Again he presses his index finger into my side, this time holding the pressure point until our eyes meet.p

We have an entire conversation in those twenty-five seconds.  Shaking my head, I look away. I know what I heard was true.  Derrick was sentenced to death row for shooting someone during the commission of a robbery. In the process of defending his own life, he inadvertently took someone else’s, capital murder.

He’s twenty-seven years old. So am I. I’m looking at my three to five year bid for embezzlement with the possibility of parole in eighteen months, a year and a half total. Now I’m looking at Derrick. I want to switch places with him, save him, hug him, cry.

We do not move. Still looking into each other’s eyes, we smile. Some minutes pass and a few highway exit signs go by in succession. A deep rumble sounds out, a lot like distant thunder, startling the bus occupants into communal silence. Again.  Louder. Closer. Rumbling. Rumbling, rumbling, rumbling like an avalanche, but, from where?

Everyone is on their last nerve, including the driver and two armed U.S. Marshals. As we round a bend and begin the last twenty-mile stretch of roadway until we arrive at our destination, we feel the entire bus lift off the ground, as if by a tornado, front end first, spinning. Rather than a whirlpool-like circular motion, we are moving forward and revolving in a perfect spiral, as if an NFL quarterback tossed the bus. We are traveling at such high speeds, it feels still.

The other passengers seem frozen in time and space. Derrick elbows me in the side, making and holding direct eye contact.  The driver’s head is stuck to the ceiling, and the two Marshals locked in the front cage with him are also suspended in space, physically frozen and visibly unable to move. Derrick and I maintain eye contact throughout this ordeal. No one knows what is happening. Even more curious, no one seems to notice or care. As the bus careens forward in this spiraling manner, I practice the meditative breathing I learned from my mindfulness coach, keeping myself grounded long enough to see a spinning vortex out the front windshield. “A portal?” I guess.

In an instant, everything becomes pixelated. From it’s hind end, the bus and all of its contents and passengers start to disappear in front of my eyes.

Wait, what is going on? Where are my legs? Where is Derrick? I’m me and I’m conscious of that fact, but I don’t seem to exist anywhere, when suddenly another portal opens, spitting me out whole and fully formed.

It’s sunny, hot, actually. What happened to the suit I was wearing in court? Where’s the unfinished dragon tattoo on my forearm?

I’m wearing acid-wash jeans and a fluorescent tank top? Nothing is registering. I begin to pinch my skin where my tattoo had been moments before, when, who drops out of the sky in front of my feet? Derrick. He starts walking next to me as if we had started out together and talking to me as if we had already been involved in a discussion about what a dick Mr. Landsman is for giving him a “D” in chemistry.

“Summer is starting, let’s make some fast cash. I know you want to take your girl out tonight. The Galleria Mall is three blocks away with a jewelry store that’s got a back entrance into a secluded area of the parking garage. We can catch the owner as he’s leaving with money and diamonds he locks away every night,” Derrick suggests.

“How do you know all this?”

“I make it my business to know these things. The elements we studied in chemistry make up the jewelry, but in this world, who cares where they come from or why? C’mon, what can happen?”

My throat constricts as my heart pumps adrenalin into every cell of my body. I hear the sharp and final thwack of a judge’s gavel and automatically put my hands behind my back. I feel cold hard metal encircle my wrists and hear each click as the cuffs tighten.  For a reason I don’t understand, I have a burning need to touch something soft, walk freely, breathe fresh air.

“Uhhhhhh, I don’t think so, Derrick. I promised Sherman I’d walk his new puppy after school. You in?” I beseech with my eyes; and add with wry grin, “C’mon, what can happen?”

BAnYWaD✈️

Memoir, hmmmm. That’s not my strong suit. I suppose I’ll give it a try this week, and begin telling what rather than who I am. I’m an airplane. An American Airlines Airbus A321; a good size commercial airliner. The feel of passengers filling up my cabin is quite ticklish; except when the cargo hold gets too full. I imagine it’s what you humans refer to as “feeling overstuffed.” I’m lucky I get so much cardio during my work week, I never carry extra weight, and, don’t need to waste a single second fretting over my appearance. I have a staff doing my regular upkeep needs and an overseer to bring me into the shop when my insides need work. I’m still getting used to the feel of the captain and co-pilot manipulating my control systems. To be honest, it feels similar to visiting the gynopractor, ya’ know, the gynecologist and the chiropractor, simultaneously. Go figure!

I’m really good at flying. It’s my communication abilities that need improvement. Aiming to round out my skill-set, I joined a writing group in my free time.

The other day, the universe had a BAnYWaD. For all you non-sci-Fi geeks that’s a “Be-Anything-You-Want-Day.” Everything in the universe has a chance, for one day, to be anything else they choose. Now you can better understand how, instead of two trained humans, I get these two screwballs called Auto-Correct and The Pronunciation Wizard as captain and co-pilot. Auto-correct manning the cockpit, what an oxyMORON!

“Try making the pre-flight announcement sound lewd and lascivious,” the  co-pilot reminded the captain.

“Blast off?” Auto-Correct answered, with a questioning grin.

“You hav’ta tell the passengers who ya are, where we’re going, a nicey-nice blurb about JFK airport, the weather,… something. We asked to do this A-C, this is your part.”

Oh, it just got worse from there. The captain was dropping F bombs and changing the words in the pre-flight announcement so very subtly, the passengers were caught off guard. Before anyone knew to buckle up, strap in, tie down or whatever these robotic class-clowns started my engines, choked on my yoke, lifted my elevators,and pointed us toward Runway-3.

Runway-3 is for INcoming planes. This was a mess! I had to supersede the pilots, pull a U-ey and at least nudge us toward Runway-2. I could tell the captain thought he pulled off this complex maneuver. He was so smug about it afterward, bragging to his friends about how he flew the plane, when mostly he used auto-pilot. Ugh! He’s trying to chaRge, no, chaNge my words as I typOtypE. Auto-Correct is everywhere. 

Suffice it to say, the BAnYWaD was one of the weirdest days I’ve experienced as an airplace.

“It’s airplaNe; with an “n”” the Pronunciation Wizard discreetly enunciated.

“Are you two back or have you never left?”

the Inheritance

When my wealthy cousin passed away and left me his self-driving car, I figured it was purely splenetic. He knows how I feel about technology and anyway, I already have a self-driving car…. it’s my regular car that I operate with my own SELF. This high-tech gadget crazed society is getting more ridiculous by the nanosecond.

I figured a self-driving car ought to be parked in the garage of a self-living house. I was so atrabilious about owning a computerized self-driving car, I passive-aggressively took the remainder of the inheritance money and built a house with a garagethat is self-opening.

The car need only drive up to the door. Using a variation on facial recognition software, once the car is scanned, the garage door automatically opens. The Roomba vacuums the floors. Alexa answers any questions and orders needed supplies; the smart refrigerator lets Alexa know when the milk is about to spoil and it’s running low on avocados or strawberry jam. The coffee pot with the automatic timer brews fresh coffee daily. Siri keeps Alexa company while cross-breeding the technology, blending Apple with Android. It’s a modern house for sure, with a modern “blended family.” The robotic dog, Wags, chases his tail while the automatic ice machine deposits more ice into the overflowing plastic bin. I live across the street from this automated monstrosity and enjoy watching the mechanized household operate with the futility of a crazy person watching a coo-coo clock.

One sunny afternoon, when the grandfather clock I inherited from my grandfather, chimed three times, I realized how hungry I was and decided to drive myself downtown for some ice cream. I should have seen this coming because I know every movement of the house I built with the precision of a Swiss watch. I guess the hunger clouded my judgment because as I was backing out of my driveway, I got into a car accident with the self-driving car, I’d come to call Otto.

Well, this was a new experience, as I wasn’t sure who was responsible for notifying their insurance and the police. Since I technically owned both vehicles, and I prefer no police, I was happy simply to exchange contact information with Otto and pay for any damage out of pocket. Otto, on the other hand, was programmed to notify the insurance company and police after any incident. His artificial intelligence only went so far. When I found myself trying to reason with the computerized car, an argument quickly ensued because Otto was VERY stubborn.

“There has been an accident. We need to call the police and exchange insurance information. Thank you,” Otto again declared in his flat automated voice.

“This is absurd,” I said, huffing a breath of exasperation and rolling my eyes skyward. “I’m basically fighting with myself.”

“There has been an accident. We need to call the police and exchange insurance information. Thank you,” Otto repeated, like a sound bite looping in on itself.

“I can’t take this anymore. I’m done. No. Otto, you’re done.”

In what some may call self-preservation and others may label spite, I pulled Otto’s plug. Next, I shifted him into neutral and pushed him into the safety of his garage. I ventured inside the immaculate self-living house, poured myself a cup of already brewed coffee and made myself a bowl of ice cream.

“Haagen Das vanilla bean ice cream, two pints,” the refrigerator notified Alexa, who promptly requisitioned Amazon Pantry to dutifully deliver the depleted delicacy.

My cat, Bach, and I blithely moved in later that evening; his self-cleaning litter box an appropriate addition. Eventually I sold my house across the street and we couldn’t be happier with our new automated housemates.

My hard feelings have softened with the regularity of the household’s functions. I had previously thought this a modern blended household, but am now seeing, without a human touch, it was incomplete. I teach the machines about emotions and they model consistency, precision and action without thought. In my self-living house, together, we live by our SELVES.

Rosie Tomorrow’s Today🌹✨

Rosie Tomorrow’s life felt lackluster; she saw everything in shades of black and white. This monochrome existence was dull and blurry around the edges, like an old photograph slightly out of focus. Her associates were vapid, their conversations prosaic, their encounters sterile and quotidian. Her days were monotonous and tiresome. She was bored by her drab wardrobe, and the food she ate was insipid and bland. Her entire world was jejune; she was starving for intellectual and creative nutrition. Craving captivation, Rosie was so diverted by her spellbinding dreams she began to live out her bewitching fantasies, obscuring the line between fact and fiction.

During her routine subway ride uptown to work one gray morning, she found herself mesmerized by the intriguing men standing in front of her, trapping her in her seat. Confined by her position, much to her chagrin, she found herself unintentionally eavesdropping on their tantalizing conversation. Her mortification morphed into wonder as her achromatic, unanimated universe sprang to life, like a children’s 3-D pop-up book.

“You mulct the flummox-capacitor from the mother-ship, awesome! Did you hook it up yet?” the more authoritarian of the two demanded.

“Don’t you mean flux-capacitor?” the little one answered gingerly.

“No, the flux-capacitor is from that old movie ‘Back to the Future;’ we need the flummox-capacitor hooked up to the faze-stump.”

“These instructions are very discombobulating. Could you try to be a little less obtuse?”

“I’m puzzled. What is nonplussing you?”

“Are you kidding?! This whole conversation defies logic and confounds science.”

“It’s pretty straight forward, really. The faze-stump has a nozzle that connects to the flummox-capacitor; it’s as simple as assembling IKEA furniture.”

“Even I can put together IKEA furniture,” Rosie thought, listening more intently, now. This was the most stimulating and intriguing dialogue she’d ever heard.

“Why exactly do we need to connect these two parts? I’m bamboozled,” the pint sized scientist unabashedly admitted, throwing his tiny arms up in the air.

“And I’m mystified by your bewilderment. Can’t you just do as your told without micro-inspecting everything?” his superior implored.

“No. It’s not in my genetic make-up. If I’m stumped by something that fazes me, my mind is naturally obfuscated. It finds befuddlement uncomfortably disconcerting and seeks clarity at all costs.”

“Ughhhh, YOU! Okay, the faze-stump is a part of this time machine we are building. I need you to pick up that large perplexing part you just filched, called the flummox-capacitor, bring it here, and attach the two parts where there is a nozzle and an open hole. Afterward, please caulk the edges of the connection so the seal is air-tight.”

“Faze-stump? A part of a time machine under construction here on this subway?” Rosie said excitedly to herself in her head. “Where is it?” she accidentally uttered out loud. Fortunately the dynamic duo thought she was talking to herself and continued amongst themselves:

“I’m a little bewildered as to why we are doing this in the first place,” the peanut squeaked, as it appeared he was shrinking every time he spoke.

“For gosh-dang-diddly-do, you don’t have to know WHY! Please just do as I ask.”

“Ok. I’ll hook up the parts, as long as you tell me what’s next.”

“Sure, no problem. First, make the connection and then seal it, next, strap yourself into the safety harness.”

“Safety harness,” Rosie thought, eyes ablaze, as the pea sized being simultaneously inquired, “Safety harness? NOW you mention safety is an issue.”

“We are building a working time machine. How safety could not be an issue is more perplexing than your being flummoxed by my instructions.”

“Allllllright, … I did agree to help you with this. My safety harness is on and the flummox capacitor is hooked up to the faze-stump; to WHEN did you say we are traveling?”

“BACK, into the future, of course.”

“Next stop Grand Central Terminal,” the disembodied conductors voice announced. Rosie bent to retrieve her tote bag from between her legs, the train screeched to a familiar jerking halt and in a flash of light, the men were gone.

Rosie Tomorrow’s today was off to a phantasmagorical start.

aLot

Little did she….,

NO!

She did a lot.

It got very hot;

she had to rest and stop.

No one stood around to watch.

She noted the time on her Swatch,

checked off a box

and knew

t’was time to cut a loss.

With just one shot,

the infrasound

cross-crossed her head back on top.

She won the battle before

it all went to pot;

then sold off her stock,

investing in futures,

‘cause the price doesn’t drop.

Lovingly, a course for adventure she does plot,

step by step

hop by hop.

Tidying up her details

and tying teeny knots,

little did she know

she’ll never be forgot.

aLot

Little did she….,

NO!

She did a lot.

It got very hot;

she had to rest and stop.

No one stood around to watch.

She noted the time on her Swatch,

checked off a box

and knew

t’was time to cut a loss.

With just one shot,

the infrasound

cross-crossed her head back on top.

She won the battle before

it all went to pot;

then sold off her stock,

investing in futures,

‘cause the price doesn’t drop.

Lovingly, a course for adventure she does plot,

step by step

hop by hop.

Tidying up her details

and tying teeny knots,

little did she know

she’ll never be forgot.

APPs🍅

“A HUNDRED DOLLARS?!! Jiminey-bleeping-Crickets, Treesha where’d all the money go?” Drake demands, rudely interrupting my idyllic slumber.

“I wass onnnn the beach innn Caboooh,” I moan, wiping the crust off my eyes and notice for the first time how sallow he appears.

“A hundred BILLION dollars,” he’s repeating like a mantra, while pacing around our cavernous dwelling like a caged lion. Now it’s much closer to London’s Christchurch Greyfriars after the Blitz with only it’s tower and outer walls left standing. Our once opulent Great Gatsby style sprawling Southampton mansion is shamefully a shambles.

Seeking comfort and safety, I roll onto my stomach and burrow under my favorite, velvety soft, faux-fur blanket. “Ahhhhhhhh,” I purr, enjoying my moment of comfort, safety and nothingness.

For Dr. David Banner, it’s anger that triggers and transforms him into the monstrous Incredible Hulk. Similarly, for my Drake, stress and/or too much cocainebring out his alter-ego I call Drako, after the Athenian scribe, memorialized in a word describing his excessively harsh penal code for petty crimes.

“I’m not being draconian, Treesha, it’s the only way we’ll survive,” Drake insists.

“How are you reading my thoughts,” I implore, watching with horror as he pockets my wallet and keys off the nightstand; I REFUSE to relinquish my phone.

“I didn’t spend it all, you dipshit. Go look at your face in the mirror; better yet, look ON the mirror.”

“Don’t you dare play victim with me, bitch. You and I both know how this went down.”

“Baby, come’ere,” I soothe, massaging the empty space on the bed beside me.

“The fuck’s the matter with you? I can’t sit down. I, WE’ve gotta DO something.”

“Drake, how many times have we lost EVERYTHING, only to get it ALL back?”

“Yeah, but that doesn’t count. We always had your inheritance as an emotional safety net.”

“It was never the inheritance that got us off the streets. WE DID THAT; well, us and the Divine.”

“Cut the religious mumbo-jumbo, will ya’ please.”

“NOT religious, spiritual; how do you explain the MULTIPLE ‘series of coincidences’ that have reliably kept us safe, met our needs and provided relief beyond measure?”

“True that, babe; but you also taught me that this divine loving force doesn’t move on our behalf unless we go first.”

“OhhhhhKay,” I exhale, releasing my warm sweaty body from it’s blanket sarcophagus, rising like a long sleeping vampire. I swing open the dilapidated French doors, their flapping hinges conjure bat’s in flight. Looking heavenward and reaching for the sky, I deeply inhale the crisp autumn air, allowing it to fill my lungs until I’m a fully expanded balloon. Bending at the waist, I forcefully exhale, “hAAAAAA,” while sweeping my arms down and behind me. I repeat this breathing exercise a few more times, clearing the cobwebs from my brain.

“Ok,” I say cheerfully, coming back inside.

“Ok, what? None of this is okay. We have ONE single hundred dollar bill. PERIOD. The end; NO ‘happily ever after.’”

“Why are you discounting our last hundred? Now it’s worth less and with your cynical attitude, it’s worthLESS

“Treesha, you are the one in this relationship that thinks a budget is a rental car company; most OTHER people understand it means money runs out and spending frugally is essential.”

“A budget for a hundred dollars?! WHAAAAt?” I elide.

“What do you propose, Ms. Fortune?”

“When life gives you lemons, make lemonade,” I answer reading the two week old fortune cookie I have to pry out of the sticky food-goo fusing it’s crinkly cellophane to our irreplaceable Baroque Era coffee table.

“What? And then add some vodka?”

“The cookies never lie. Switch the lemons to apples and the ade to pie.”

“Huh?”

“Since you’re so insistent on DOing something, take all that pent up energy and bring me back as many apples as you can from Great-Grandma Fiona’s orchard. I know all her recipes and just like she did, I’m gonna make us some DOUGH! You sure I never told you it was HER apple pie income that gave my great-grandfather, Christian, the start up capital to build our family’s empire?”

“Christian? Aren’t y’all Jewish?”

“Yeah. His mom deliberately named him that eschewing religion for spirituality and oneness.”

“Phish,” Drake snorts, shaking his head, as he meanders toward the shed for a rusty wheelbarrow and I watch his frame disappear into the trees.

With my phone in hand, I scoop up some empty shopping bags and make my way to the root cellar. The flashlight on my phone gives me enough light to stuff my bags with eggs and butter. Returning to the unused professional style kitchen, I’m not surprised to find the pantry fully stocked.

We become a two-man pie factory, calling ourselves APPs, churning out Fiona’s Apple Pies, and consistently selling out every local farmers market until we are able to hire help. Our pies are so cathartic and connecting everyone from Paris Hilton and Martha Stewart to Vladimir Putin and Pope Francis sign-up for our Pie-of-the-Month Club, and as soon as the millennials get a taste of our APPs, they go viral.

Oprah features them on her show, opening with, “How do I get these APPs for my phone?” and concludes by characteristically leaving every audience member a Fiona’s Apple Pie under their seat. Furthermore, a New York Post front page broadcasts Hillary and Melania sitting in Central Park, laughing, sharing a slice of our pie, and trumpets, “HOW ‘BOUT THEM APPLES?”

“HUNDRED BILLION DOLLAR apples,” Drake recounts smiling; pointing out The Post’s front page as we pass a newsstand while walking home… a newly renovated penthouse on Park Ave.

Playfully elbowing him in the side and greeting his smile with mine, I snigger, “How ‘bout them APPs?”

blithe

“I should’ve seen this coming a mile away, Blithe sighed to herself. The discrepancy between the meaning of her name and her current state of emotion did not escape her.

“Blithe,” she sarcastically pronounced aloud to the dragonflies buzzing past her pretty blonde hair and the butterflies alighting on her pink polka-dot dress. The sun reflected its warm light off the edge of the lake, while she sat pining for her long lost love.

“We reconnected only to be split up once more,” her rational mind moaned.

“NO!” her emotions commanded. “People are all connected, whether or not you see and feel it. He’s still there. He still loves you. You must continue to believe.”

“False hope, like believing in unicorns and leprechauns with their pots of gold at the end of the rainbow,” Blithe answered herself out loud.

Another part of her brain combined these two warring factions and spat out the word, “Faith.”

The word did not go down easy; more aptly, she choked on it. Faith got stuck in her throat and formed a lump so big she couldn’t swallow. Faith made her angry. Faith led her to believe in things she couldn’t see or rationalize. Faith came rising up from her stomach and welled up in her eyes, forming rivulets of tears that streamed down her face and found their way into the lake.

The lake swelled with Faith. It surpassed its natural borders and began flooding the town.

Soon, everyone was soaking wet and doused in Faith. The man that couldn’t walk rose up out of his wheelchair and danced a jig. The blind woman who was born without sight removed her dark glasses and the world was a vision to behold.

The little deaf boy who played by himself because his frustration came across as meanness and ill-temper, heard a bird chirp for the first time, a wing flap, and a breeze pass through his ears. Than he heard his mother’s soothing voice, “Justin, I love you. Please come home, dinner is ready.”

In no time, Faith filled the town up while emptying Blithe of her joylessness. Faith reminded Blithe why and how she got her name in the first place; not because of the joy other’s brought TO her, but because of the joy inherent withIN her.

“Blithe” she enunciated, as she wiped her eyes with the backs of her hands, smiled a warm radiant smile to match the setting sun and buoyantly headed home for dinner.

choices

I’m stuck on the transport bus next to this crazy mother I did time with in Juvie. Ohhhhhh what memories.

“This guy?,” I think. “Really? Of all people I never thought I’d see again and here he is, just like me, cuffed, shackled and in a metal box, I mean bus.”

I turn my head away hoping to stay inconspicuous, leaning against the area where a window would reasonably be expected, except, not here. This is a prison transport bus and nothing opens or shuts without assistance. Windows? I wish. Doors. Cuffs. Shackles. Our minds.

We were young, Derrick and I, when we robbed that jewelry store after finishing our last day of tenth grade. I’ll never forget his enticing smile and beguiling words, “C’mon, what can happen?”

Nineteen long months in Broward Juvenile Detention Center helped me re-assess the effectiveness of some of my behaviors and attitudes. I probably wouldn’t have finished high-school and definitely wouldn’t have graduated law school. Conversely, Derrick, I heard, took a detour straight into a “dead” end.

I wonder, “Does he recognize me? How could he NOT?” I knew him immediately. Those eyes, still warm and brown, only now, hard as diamonds.

I feel something poking my side that I try to ignore. I just want to sleep until we get to Gates Correctional Institution. After booking and processing, we’re gonna be locked down in the medical unit for twenty-three hours a day while being evaluated and oriented; the first week is nothing nice.

Again, poke, poke, poke. No longer able to feign ignorance, I slowly open my eyes and actively shift my body, indicating potential waking behavior. Peering out narrowed eyelids, I gaze upon Derrick’s familiar smile and brown eyes. Again he presses his index finger into my side, this time holding the pressure point until our eyes meet.p

We have an entire conversation in those twenty-five seconds.  Shaking my head, I look away. I know what I heard was true.  Derrick was sentenced to death row for shooting someone during the commission of a robbery. In the process of defending his own life, he inadvertently took someone else’s, capital murder.

He’s twenty-seven years old. So am I. I’m looking at my three to five year bid for embezzlement with the possibility of parole in eighteen months, a year and a half total. Now I’m looking at Derrick. I want to switch places with him, save him, hug him, cry.

We do not move. Still looking into each other’s eyes, we smile. Some minutes pass and a few highway exit signs go by in succession. A deep rumble sounds out, a lot like distant thunder, startling the bus occupants into communal silence. Again.  Louder. Closer. Rumbling. Rumbling, rumbling, rumbling like an avalanche, but, from where?

Everyone is on their last nerve, including the driver and two armed U.S. Marshals. As we round a bend and begin the last twenty-mile stretch of roadway until we arrive at our destination, we feel the entire bus lift off the ground, as if by a tornado, front end first, spinning. Rather than a whirlpool-like circular motion, we are moving forward and revolving in a perfect spiral, as if an NFL quarterback tossed the bus. We are traveling at such high speeds, it feels still.

The other passengers seem frozen in time and space. Derrick elbows me in the side, making and holding direct eye contact.  The driver’s head is stuck to the ceiling, and the two Marshals locked in the front cage with him are also suspended in space, physically frozen and visibly unable to move. Derrick and I maintain eye contact throughout this ordeal. No one knows what is happening. Even more curious, no one seems to notice or care. As the bus careens forward in this spiraling manner, I practice the meditative breathing I learned from my mindfulness coach, keeping myself grounded long enough to see a spinning vortex out the front windshield. “A portal?” I guess.

In an instant, everything becomes pixelated. From it’s hind end, the bus and all of its contents and passengers start to disappear in front of my eyes.

Wait, what is going on? Where are my legs? Where is Derrick? I’m me and I’m conscious of that fact, but I don’t seem to exist anywhere, when suddenly another portal opens, spitting me out whole and fully formed.

It’s sunny, hot, actually. What happened to the suit I was wearing in court? Where’s the unfinished dragon tattoo on my forearm?

I’m wearing acid-wash jeans and a fluorescent tank top? Nothing is registering. I begin to pinch my skin where my tattoo had been moments before, when, who drops out of the sky in front of my feet? Derrick. He starts walking next to me as if we had started out together and talking to me as if we had already been involved in a discussion about what a dick Mr. Landsman is for giving him a “D” in chemistry.

“Summer is starting, let’s make some fast cash. I know you want to take your girl out tonight. The Galleria Mall is three blocks away with a jewelry store that’s got a back entrance into a secluded area of the parking garage. We can catch the owner as he’s leaving with money and diamonds he locks away every night,” Derrick suggests.

“How do you know all this?”

“I make it my business to know these things. The elements we studied in chemistry make up the jewelry, but in this world, who cares where they come from or why? C’mon, what can happen?”

My throat constricts as my heart pumps adrenalin into every cell of my body. I hear the sharp and final thwack of a judge’s gavel and automatically put my hands behind my back. I feel cold hard metal encircle my wrists and hear each click as the cuffs tighten.  For a reason I don’t understand, I have a burning need to touch something soft, walk freely, breathe fresh air.

“Uhhhhhh, I don’t think so, Derrick. I promised Sherman I’d walk his new puppy after school. You in?” I beseech with my eyes; and add with wry grin, “C’mon, what can happen?”

sense & sensivity

The princess ate a pea,

thinking it raw, organic, and gluten free.

Little did she know,

it was a GMO;

an inferior reproduction,

like man-made snow.

She had more than one sensitivity,

you see.

Rather particular she had to be.

Later that night,

turned green did she;

puked her guts out,

one,

two,

three.

She choked out a groan,

then wailed and moaned,

knowing the onus was all her own.

She cleaned up her mess

put on a new dress

and steadied her nerves to confess.

The sun rose

and next morning passed

leaving the princess to realize

she’s thought about last.

“Nobody cares,” she said with relief;

feeling other people’s thoughts

had stolen her peace.

Knowing her mind

was all that mattered;

determined she was,

though bruised and battered.

She kept at it day after day;

reading, writing, walking and play.

Little by little progress was made.

Until she felt ready

to rejoin her parade.

They welcomed her with open arms,

clothed organically, to do no harm.

So happy she was, she let down her guard,

loosened her knots and opened her heart.

She had the sense to see,

all along, her sensitivity

kept her comfortably safe,

and securely free;

so she thanked it and let it be.

Then,

she tested herself and ate a pea.

Does she turn green?

We will see.

The Original

The Carbon-Copy went around making trouble.

Looked so much like The Original,

everyone thought they were seeing double.

The Original receded into the shadow it cast;

remanded

to be a vestige of its past.

Overshadowed by its shadow,

The Original dulled,

tasted bland,

wilted; fell flat.

It looked in the mirror and said, “Who’s that?”

The Carbon-Copy stole its game;

took its life,

usurped its name.

The Original became jaded,

into the margins of life it faded.

This empty new existence bored a hole in its brain.

The Original will never be the same.

Faced with a choice

The Original paused;

avoided the violence,

and listened to the silence.

Day after Day, the sun came up;

followed by Night,

when the curtains were shut.

The decision became clear as time marched on.

The Original started to live

its New-Original song.