Thanks to Alistair Forbes for hosting the February 11th, 2018 Edition of SPF. This is a bit of a longer piece. Written for a writer’s course, around 500 Words as opposed to 200 Words or less. I cleaned it up and changed the original a bit.
Credit: J. Carol Hardy
Charlene twists her hair. The potent drink on the bar is her fifth tequila shot in an hour. The hazy, dreamlike atmosphere in the crowded town bar confuses her. Most of the crowd puff away, smoke lingering in the air, twisting above her, a toxic dragon of cigarette stench.
An attractive singer who isn’t local, belts out tunes while strumming his guitar. His catchy music has Charlene humming, her fingers tapping to the rhythm.
When he plays a soft song, the crowd boos. Some men throw beer bottles that smash and scatter glass against the small stage’s back wall. The singer peers around the room, his eyes darting back and forth. A bouncer drags away one of the offenders and the singer resumes his music, belting out cheerful tunes once more.
Charlene chuckles. As per usual, the town bar echoes with boisterous laughter and harmless drunks telling tale tales. Then, the creep beside her, pokes her arm. “Drink it, drink the shot.”
She peers up at him and his putrid breath makes her sick. “I don’t want it. Go away.” He leers and Charlene shivers.
She turns, stumbles towards the cracked vinyl booth where her coat and purse lay. Grabbing them she fumbles, zipping up her coat. The creep follows her and pinches her chin, trying to pour the shot into her mouth.
Warm tequila dribbles from her lips, acrid as she chokes. “No more, I don’t want anymore.” She cuts off his words, the poison of the creep’s lizard-tongue. “I’m going home — alone.”
Charlene teeters, leaning against the worn bar. She presses her hands against the humid backs of people waiting to buy more drinks. In open places, she leans on the bar, tracing it’s antique carvings, the dents on its worn surface. Jerry, one of the bartenders, slides her a glass of water. She nods at him, and swallows, her throat aching.
Past the bar, Charlene leans against a lone stool at a table. The stool wobbles on splintering legs. She grits her teeth, than sucks out a sliver of wood from her thumb. A gift from the table top.
Head spinning, Charlene lands in the quiet of the shuffleboard area, dizzy against the table. She presses her phone, fingers clumsy as she sends for an Uber. She downs more water from her purse. With some clarity, she wanders through sweat-soaked bodies towards the main door.
In the chill of the night, the creep is somehow beside her, waiting to follow her into her Uber. She ignores him, hobbling to a bouncer. “He’s following me, make him go away. He put something in my drink.”
The lie slips out; she doesn’t care. The creep who bought her five shots scares her. The bouncer’s blue eyes bulge. “No problem, Miss. I’ll ensure you get into the Uber alone.”
The bouncer offers the creep free beer to go back inside, and Charlene shivers, the wind biting at her face as flurries fly. She falls asleep inside the Uber, and the driver helps her into her apartment on the third floor. He takes the key from her hand and unlocks her door as she offers him a scrunched five-dollar bill.
“It’s fine. I don’t need help.”
The driver shakes his head. “That man you were running from, he’s bad. He has a different woman drunk each weekend night; he drugs many of them. The bouncer’s my friend, and he made sure you got into my Uber. We’re trying to catch him, but this a**holes too experienced to leave much evidence.”
The fact that the creep could’ve drugged her for ‘real’ makes Charlene ill. She rushes to the kitchen sink, throwing up multiple times.
The Uber driver ‘Ahems’ behind her. “I’m going now. Will you be okay?’
She nods. “Thank God, you’re a good man.”
“Stop accepting drinks from weird strangers. Don’t lead guys like him on. You have to think before you accept more than one drink; especially, in a small town like ours.”
Charlene nods, collapsing on the floor. She knows she’s asleep, but a sharp tempo beats against her temples. She’s half-awake, restless, afraid of the nightmares seeping in; the creep’s leering grin and eyes of a predator.
Thanks to the ever gracious http://www.spillwords.com for publishing my new poem called “I’ll Fly Away, Oh, Glory.” The chorus lines are borrowed from the song “Fly Away” for by Gillian Welch and sung by Allison Kraus on the Oh Brother, Where Art Though? movie soundtrack. It’s an awesome movie too!
Thanks to MindLoveMisery’s Menagerie for hosting last week’s Tale Weaver prompt having to do with the importance of sight, physical, spiritual, or beyond. Also thank you to Linda J. Wolf of the blog Urban Poetry for the new poem format. Rictameter verse had 9 lines and the first and the last line repeat. The syllable count for each line is as follows: 2,4,6,8,10,8,6,4,2.
Also, I know many of you are doing the A to Z Challenge for April. But if anyone’s interested in poetry, join me in NationalPoetry Writing Month (NaPoWriMo). A poem a day for 30 days. You can sign your blog up atwww.napowrimo.net. Each day in April, return to the site for the daily poetry prompts and remember to link back to the website when you write your poems and to tag your work #NaPoWriMo so other bloggers can read your awesome poetry. Looking forward to reading everyone’s poetry takes. If you are REALLY up for the challenge combine NaPoWriMo with the A to Z Challenge 🙂
It’s the lushest rainforest I’ve ever seen. If one could say Mother Nature had a life force it would be here, hidden within this vibrant foliage. For me green is the color of life and I think of the exotic creatures found here and I understand why environmentalists are vehemently protecting a forest full of wild animals and their habitats.
To imagine this brilliant life force gone would be painful. There is an ache in my heart picturing the dustlands of a destroyed forest, where nothing can regrow because of how horibly the soil has eroded, stripped of trees. Seeing this century old car buried randomly makes me curious of how the car ended up here; I imagine it’s a fabulous tale. But there’s no one here to tell that story, only me, and miles of greenery. Here in the womb of Mother Nature, one could disappear.
Welcome to another biweekly interview on Mandibelle16. I’m hoping where ever you are the weather is nice and spring is on its way or summer isn’t too hot. This week I interviewed the impressive and talented writer Jasminder Bainsfrom the United States. You can check out her blog here: Confessions Of A Reborn Girl
1. Hi Jasminder. Please Tell Us About Yourself?
Where to begin…I live to write because it’s my form of therapy and I love weaving words into stories. I’m a full-time dream chaser with a knack for crafting things and philosophizing and overthinking when I can.
I’m two years clean and keeping it that way.Psychology fascinates me; hence, I’m majoring in it. You’ll find there is a lot of psychology based posts on my blog. I love to sing and dance to KPOP when nobody’s around, or at least when I think nobody’s around. I had to run up three flights of stairs because I got caught once.
Also, I’m obsessed with green tea and I like to meditate because it clears my mind. I prefer video games and Doc Martens to dresses ( I only own one dress) and makeup. The only makeup I wear is eyeliner and it’s about as good as my sense of direction. I get lost even with a GPS to help me find my way. I’m an aggressive middle-class minimalist who pillages anything I can get my hands on; this is why I have a ring of rocks sitting on my dresser.
I have moments where I’m incredibly with the times and others I’m not. I set up a Twitter account recently. I have no idea what half the buttons mean. But I can give you Excel pointers and talk about ‘markdown formatting;’ I can’t tell you much about Facebook.
2. When Did You Begin Writing and Blogging? What Does Writing and Blogging Mean To You? What motivates and inspires you?
I started blogging last July, but I’ve been writing since I was in fifth grade. Poetry and blogging are how I vent as well as defeat stereotypes. I write because I want to heal other people and because I love doing it.
I find inspiration from my life because I’m an avid people-watcher and I overthink everything. I find new material is as simple as walking into the middle of a cafeteria and sitting down. I learned so much about human interaction by doing this. I make time for writing whenever I can.
“I live to write because it’s my form of therapy and I love weaving words into stories. I’m a full-time dream chaser with a knack for crafting things and philosophizing and overthinking when I can.” – Jasminder Bains
3. What Are Your Most Current Writing Projects? Any Future Projects You Have In Mind?
I’m planning on participating in the2017 Kindness Challenge!The link to sign up ishere if you’re interested. I’m also hosting my own blogging challenge, it’s called the ‘BoundlessChallenge.’ The premise of the challenge is to share a #boundlessmomentfrom the past week where you did something that you thought you weren’t actually capable of doing.
I started the challenge not too long ago so it’s relatively new. My goal is to inspire people through this prompt. Maybe they will believe they are capable of doing much more than they think they can do. Check out the sixth #boudlessmoment challenge on my blog HERE.
4. Can You Tell Us More About Your Blog and Why You Started Blogging?
When I founded @Confessions (Confessions Of A Reborn Girl) I had one goal and one goal alone:to teach others about human potential. Too many times I’ve heard stories of people who gave up on their dreams because they didn’t think they had it in them or someone discouraged them from their path. I’m here to tell you thatyou are good enoughand that nobody can tell you otherwise.
“The most common way people give up their power is by thinking they don’t have any.” – Alice Walker
That being said, [my blog] would qualify as a lifestyle blog, though I focus more on mentality and mindset rather than fashion or food. My blog categories are different takes on that ‘boundless lifestyle’ if you will.
Life, as the catagory name states, revolves around my everyday thoughts and experiences. [As I noted above] you can also find my ownblogging challenge, the Boundless Challenge, which is devoted to inspiring the WordPress community to achieve their full potential. At the end of each week, I share #boundlessmoments of my own and from across the internet. . . Who knows? Maybe next week you’ll be featured!
Writer’s Corner is [a segment on my blog] where I analyze social norms and American culture along with occasional philosophizing.DIYis exactly as the name states. I have this category because crafting opened up my thinking in a way nothing else could. I believe that it can do the same for you. [Lastly, my] meditation journal [catagory]stems from my adoration for — well — meditation. [Since I] over-think, meditation is the perfect counter to my habit and it helps me analyze my emotions and inner conflict.
“Too many times, I’ve heard stories of people who gave up on their dreams because they just didn’t think they had it in them or someone discouraged them from their path. I’m here to tell you that you are good enough and that nobody can tell you otherwise” – Jasminder Bains
5. How Does Your Blog Tie-In With Your Stance on Mental Health?
I continue to challenge thestigmas and negative stereotypes surrounding the field of mental health. There’s so much more to psychology than depression or schizophrenia or bipolar disease; [these are] only a small branch of [what is called] abnormalpsychology. In order to understand the abnormal, we must first understand the normal.
I hope that by being open about my own experiences with mental health challengesand triumphs, I can give others the strength to do the same.There’s nothing wrong with having a bad day, month, or year. There’s nothing wrong with having things that keep you up at night. There’s nothing wrong with being broken.
6. Do You Have Any Other Projects On The Go? What Is Your Writing Process Like? Do You Have Any Genres of Writing or Reading that You Prefer?
I’m planning on writing a fiction book called Project Rebirth. I’ve no details other than that because I hardly know what the book is about myself. 😛 For me, writing is painful.Writing is life. WHAT WAS I THINKING WRITING THAT?!! Editing is painful. Editing is life. Rinse and repeat.
Fantasy is my FAVORITE genre. None of this 21st-century teen smut fantasy romance. I mean classy fantasy like Cornelia Funke’s Inkheart series or Harry Potter by J.K. Rowling or The Ranger’sApprentice books. I prefer these types of books so much more than teen romance novels.
“I hope that by being open about my own experiences with mental health challengesand triumphs, I can give others the strength to do the same.There’s nothing wrong with having a bad day, month, or year. There’s nothing wrong with having things that keep you up at night. There’s nothing wrong with being broken.” – Jasminder Bains
7. Do You Have Any Helpful Tips for Other Writers? Is There Anything Else You’d Like to Share Pertinent to this Interview?
Keep writing. It’s the only way you get better (and shameless). Also, I want to fight the negative stigmas and stereotypes around mental health because it’s vastly misunderstood and generalized which is dangerous for everyone.
8. What Are Your Three Favorite Blogs You Follow Of Any Kind?
What’s this? My insides feel like they’re tearing apart.
Something’s wrong, I should take some medication.
Something’s wrong, it’s 3 A.M. and I’m awake again. Did I ever fall asleep? I feel like I’m dying.
I’m frozen, I feel like screaming, is this really real?
Maybe this is the dream I have to wake up from, I don’t remember falling asleep so maybe I never woke up.
Something’s wrong, it’s 4 A.M. and I’m still here. I should just close my eyes, I wouldn’t be able to sleep if it was appendicitis….would I?
Something’s wrong, it’s only 7 A.M. and I’m already awake. No, mum, don’t leave for work just yet. There’s a patient lying here in bed who needs to be seen.
Mum is gone. My brother needs my phone for school. It’s low on battery because I stared blankly at music videos and funny vines for half the night unable to react thanks to the burning sensation in my stomach.
Dad wants to know what’s going on so I spill my guts on him. It’s time to try another medication, stay hydrated, and ride things out.
Mum says book an appointment if it doesn’t get better. I wonder if it will get better.
I’m a statue, unmoving and emotionless. I thought today was yesterday. Guess my brain didn’t register that I ever went to sleep.
Should I feel crooked that this pain is now who I am? I don’t want to do anything let alone go the hospital. It could be nothing. Just like me.
Dad wants me to make him lunch if I’m able. Fine. The pain is mostly gone and I can wait 10 minutes to pass out.
There are two types of naps: the kind that make you feel worse than before, but you know you had no choice, and the kind that make you feel energized. Mine was the latter. Maybe it’s because I slept two hours instead of 20 minutes. Oh well. At least the pain’s almost gone.
All I’ve had to eat today is half a bagel and a tin of Chobani yogurt. I should eat something else. A salad sounds divine only I’m not sure if I’m strong enough to eat the croutons and leaves yet. Only one way to find out. Verdict: I can chew a crouton. I can’t chew a spinach leaf. I’ll just have a burrito.
Something’s wrong, it’s been 18 hours since I laid awake in bed screaming in my head and I’m doing it again. Except this time in a chair with a plate of food in front of me. Forget it. I’m not eating if it’s gonna sting this bad. Time to take some more medication.
I don’t want to be a physical embodiment of pain, I want my life back. I want to feel joy again, I want to listen to music that lifts me up again, I want to write a blog post ahead of time again, I want to have faith again, I want to feel healthy again, I want to have both feet planted firmly on the ground again, I want to be me again.
Love is all you need? Whoever said that perhaps was in the first stages of love.They hadn’t seen the nittygritty yet, what separates those we love and those who truly love us from those who are but memories or experiences in our lives. To be honest with you, I’ve realized what I’ve felt of being ‘in’ love was so short it was hardly there. But I know what it was because I know what love’s not. It hurts thinking back to that time even though it was barely real.
I was also with a guy much longer and the love I tried to convince myself I felt, didn’t exist. In a sense I’m glad it wasn’t authentic because love is painful. It doesn’t mean because you’re in love with someone everything’s suddenly perfect. Love in relationships is a ton of work combined with trust which takes time to build. It’s a given your other half will do stupid and thoughtless things at times and so will you. Whatever the relationship, we’re all human and make mistakes and sometimes those mistakes are huge and hurtful.
But in the spaces in-between are these perfect moments of sometimes physical but always heartfelt gestures of love, fleeting but memorable; these are the moments lovers live for. Love is being unselfish and it’s difficult for any human to consider someoneelse before themselves all the time. It would seem to me we need so much more than only love. But I know lasting love is possible because I know my Lord who says: “We love, because her first loved us.” With those words in my life, I feel this whole ‘true love’ thing might be a possibility someday.
“I know that’s what people say– you’ll get over it. I’d say it, too. But I know it’s not true. Oh, you’ll be happy again, never fear. But you won’t forget. Every time you fall in love it will be because something in the man reminds you of him.”
Thank you again to the gracious SpillWords for publishing a piece of my poetry. This is a brand new recent piece, never published anywhere before the SpillWords website. The poem is called: “Almost Lovers.” Both based off my own experience and the song of the same name by the band A Fine Frenzy.