I am a young poet who informs students at my school that they aren’t alone. My words have let people know that it’s going to be okay no matter what. In summary, I love to help and inform people that overall things will be okay.
Excerpts: My Brain in Poem is a collection of poems that I have wrote over a period of time. These poems show how my thought process goes, and the racing thoughts in my head. I wrote these poems in the times I felt at a lost. At times where I felt like a million thoughts were racing though my head, and the overwhelming feelings of being sad. And through it all I end up to be okay because nothing last forever.
My Instagram handle is @hellitsblu
Shut the fuck up please!
The constant thought of...
READ THE REST IN CORPUS CHRISTI WRITERS 2022
Bob James spent 24 years as a teacher in the fields of Special Education and Technology. All of his work can be accessed through his website called "Bob James – The Author." More about Bob at the end of this scetion.
The dulcet tones of “Morning Flower” rudely interrupted my sleep. Which meant that they weren’t so dulcet this morning.
I rolled over and slapped my phone. And missed. I slapped at it again, and then I remembered I needed to slide the off button over, which I did, finally turning off that godawful noise. I picked up my phone and squinted to look at the time. Yes. Four freaking o’clock. Exactly the time I needed to get up to meet at Ratcliff’s house.
I rolled to a sitting position, and scratched my belly and then my head.
“Ranch, water, bird shoot,” Miranda mumbled and then fell back asleep.
I rubbed my eyes and let out a deep breath. At least she fell back asleep. The night light in the bathroom gave me enough light to enjoy the peaceful look on her face. I shook my head, hoping to loosen the cobwebs—but alas, no cobwebs can be cleared before five-thirty in the morning according to federal law or something. I headed to the bathroom for the quick version of my morning routine.
Enough of the sleep had dropped out of my eyes that I saw the clothes I now remembered laying out to make getting dressed easier this morning. I applauded myself for my foresight, if not for my sense of fashion. I consoled myself that even if not fashionable, they’d keep me warm as we trudged through the wetlands on our way to the blind. I tried not to make any noise that would wake Miranda. She’d surprised me when we first married. I’d always heard about men snoring, but no one ever talked about women doing so. Still, I smiled as I thought of our many years together and plodded toward to the kitchen, hoping we had a biscuit or two left over from last night.
I rubbed at my eyes as I walked into the kitchen and realized that the light on the coffee machine was on. That dear, sweet woman, who can’t stand the smell of coffee had a pot waiting for me. I smiled as I poured my cup. Then, three teaspoons of cream, and three, no make that four teaspoons of sugar today, and I began gulping it down as I got ready to go. Gathering my materials became a labor of love as the coffee began to energize me and I began to smile at the thought of today’s shoot. Michael Ratcliff had been bragging for years about the sight of all the birds flying over his land in the morning. When he asked me to join him, I accepted the invitation. The contract was important.
I pulled down a to-go cup from the cabinet and poured an extra-large cup of coffee to take with me. I loaded my gear into the car, locked the door to the house, and headed toward Michael’s ranch on the west side of Oso Creek. We’d be shooting into the sun, but if we got there before six, or so Michael said, we’d have some great shots in the dawn light before the sun came out. Staples street was practically empty this time of morning, so I breezed down the road, smiling as the anticipation grew.
Then, the traffic lights gathered their forces and made sure to turn red as soon as I approached. It wasn’t cross-traffic tripping the lights, there was none. The lights were obviously conspiring against me. I laughed at myself. “Maybe I should have had another cup of coffee,” I said to the vacant seat next to me. I passed the last light and breathed a sigh of relief. It was still too dark to see much as I drove across the bridge, but I slowed anyway, opening the window in case any birds were calling and looking around hoping to see the white of an egret against the dark water.
Sadly, the only thing I saw was the reflection of the headlights from the car in my rearview mirror. Given his speed, I didn’t think he’d take too kindly to waiting behind me while I observed nature, so I exhaled loudly and pushed the car back to the speed limit. I looked to the left and saw the housing development. Over to the right lay the Botanical Gardens. The next left after the housing development would lead me to Michael’s ranch. I slowed since caliche roads are hard to see without lights. They guy behind me was considerate; he flashed his brights at me instead of honking and waking up the neighborhood. I turned on my blinker, hoping that he knew what it meant. Apparently, many drivers from Corpus Christi don’t know.
This driver seemed to know, because he stopped flashing his brights and he didn’t zip around me. I’m sure he was losing any patience he might have had left, because I kept decreasing my speed as I looked for the road. Just as I was beginning to think I’d missed my turn, the road appeared out of nowhere. I slammed on my brakes and turned sharply to head towards Michael’s ranch.
Only, I had to make a stop. Red and blue lights flashing on the car behind you are a pretty good indication that you did something wrong. I looked at the clock in the car. As long as the officer didn’t want to talk too much, I’d still be on time. I’d hate to have to go through this early wake up business again. I snorted a bit, exasperated, as I rolled my window down to await the cop.
I figured he was taking his time because he was running my plates, but I willed him to hurry so I could finish my business with him and head out to the blind. I kept looking in the mirror, hoping to see the officer get out of the car. My patience was rewarded as he eventually got out of the car and started approaching mine. He held his flashlight about shoulder height and ran it around my car and the surrounding area, then he walked up to my door and looked in the window.
“Son, do you know why I stopped ya?” he asked.
I looked at his nametag. “Yes sir, Officer Herrero. I made that hard left right in front of you.”
“Well, there’s that and there’s your erratic driving. When I first saw you, you were moving at the speed limit, then when you got to the bridge, you slowed way down. When you saw my lights, you picked up speed until about 75 yards before this turn, you slowed down.”
I nodded my head. “Yes, sir, all that’s correct.”
He glared at me. I hadn’t thought he’d mind an interruption that agreed with him. “Then you braked suddenly and made that hard left instead of slowing properly for the turn over a longer stretch of road. Mind if I ask you how much you’ve had to drink?”
“About two cups of coffee, sir,” I said as I pointed at my coffee cup. “I’m going to a new place to shoot birds and I wasn’t sure where to turn until I almost missed it. I was hoping to see or hear some of the birds when I crossed the Oso.”
The officer tensed and swung his flashlight around the interior of the car. “You got your gun in the car or in the trunk? Oh, and need I tell you this isn’t hunting season? I want you to get out of the car, nice and slow now, ya hear? Keep your hands away from your body. Back out and then put your hands on top of the car.”
I tried not to laugh. “I’m going to do that officer, but I think I used some wrong wording. The only ‘weapon’ I have to shoot birds is in the bag on the passenger’s seat. If you look at it, you’ll understand.” I started to get out as he had instructed me.
“Son, I ain’t playin’ games with you. Grab the bag and hold it away from your body, then set it down on the ground as you come out.”
I nodded. “Yes, sir,” I said and followed the officer’s instructions.
“Just so you know, two cops have been shot during traffic stops this month, so you get no benefit of the doubt. I want to go home and see my wife and daughter in about an hour. You put your nose on that car and don’t move. If you move…” He didn’t finish the thought, but he didn’t need to.
“Sir,” I mumbled into the car. I heard him working the straps on my bag and then I heard a chuckle.
“You’ve got to be more careful with your words. You could get into trouble some day.” He laughed. “Stay there,” he shouted as he saw me start to relax. Then he frisked me. “OK, now you can turn around and relax.” As I turned around, he was still chuckling. “Good thing you didn’t tell me you had a Canon. That would have really freaked me out.”
He examined the camera. “What kind of glass you got for this?”
Now it was my turn to be surprised. No one but serious photographers called lenses glass. “I got a 300mm lens I use most of the time and a 600mm lens for special occasions.”
“Nice set up,” he said. “How do you prop the 600? Those things are heavy.” He paused. “Oh, I tend to take pictures of all kinds of animals in nature. And in the future, you might want to describe what you do as ‘taking pictures’ not shooting.”
“Yes sir.” I laughed. Then, I surprised myself with the words that came out of my mouth. “I’d love to share pictures with you sometime. Maybe we could do coffee? Another day? I’m running on a sunrise deadline.”
“Oh, yeah, that makes sense. Be a little more careful as you drive. There, that’s your warning. We could meet at the Starbucks on Saratoga, some day. I’d love to see the pics you’re gonna take today. Would Thursday at ten be OK?”
“Sounds wonderful, Officer Herrero.”
“Good. See ya Thursday. Now, get in your car and take some good pics.” He put my camera back in the bag and handed it to me. Then he started walking back to his car.
I nodded my thanks and put the bag in the passenger’s seat. I looked at my watch and decided that I wouldn’t be late if I could navigate this road in ten minutes. I sat there waiting for the cop to leave. Then, I snuck a glance at the gun in the glove compartment and breathed a sigh of relief. “Well Michael,” I said quietly as I put the car in gear. “You get to live another day.” That cop could finger me so finishing the contract today wouldn’t be a good idea. Besides, I need to take some pictures for my date with the cop.
Writing haiku for
The Writers’ anthology
In Corpus Christi
The great blue heron
Always looks magnificent
So does the water...
Jason Riordan looked at himself in the mirror, using an eyeliner pencil to make the last adjustments to his makeup. He had to support his right hand with his left to quell the shaking. “That’ll work,” he said out loud, even though no one could hear him. He still had a private dressing room, in deference to his past greatness. He might not have the starring roles anymore. He might make more mistakes in his lines, but he still commanded the respect of audiences and directors because of his reputation and his perseverance in the face of Parkinson’s. There was a knock on the door. “Ten minutes, Mr. Riordan,” the assistant to the assistant director called as he opened the door just a crack to deliver his message. Jason smiled. His timing on getting his makeup done was still perfect. Ever since he’d started in theater, he had done his own makeup. “It helps me as I become my character,” he had told countless makeup artists. And now, his routine to get into character would continue. He stared at the mirror, inspecting his makeup one last time. Satisfied, he slowly closed his eyes and went over the play in his mind. He muttered softly, reciting his lines, and telling himself where to make his entrances.
He wanted this performance to be perfect and got so wrapped up in his preparation that he realized he must have missed the underling’s five-minute call. As the first notes of the overture sounded, he cursed silently. His routine called for him to be ready in the wings before the overture started playing. Now, he rushed to get to his place, so he could take his centering breaths a few seconds before his entrance. His first starring role ever was with this director as “George” in Our Town and now, knowing Jason’s condition, this same director had made a special accommodation to allow him to begin this version of Our Town, as the Stage Manager, with the freedom to look back on his career and give the audience a chance to acknowledge their appreciation for the retiring actor. They had flocked to see the once-great Jason Riordan in his last performance. Those who had acted alongside him including the first Emily and Stage Manager were in the audience, actors who had worked with him in the performances that had earned him his Tony nominations, and various assorted fans who wanted to pay their respects to one who, even in his ongoing illness, showed grace and respect to his fans. He got to his spot on the wing with a little over a minute to spare, and he took a couple of cool-down breaths. Then, he did that which he had never done before in his career, he pulled back the curtain and peeked at the audience. The stage lights kept him from seeing much, but the memories he had made with those people he saw and recognized overwhelmed him and left him with a slight case of stage fright. He closed the curtain and took another deep breath, and then, he was on. From that first, special monologue to his final line, he was perfect. He didn’t suffer from the dropped lines or cues that had plagued him in recent years. His swan song performance was amazing, and the audience recognized it. Decorum was thrown to the winds as his fans screamed his name and he took bow after bow. The stage hands picked up flowers that were thrown in congratulations. He left the stage triumphantly after one of his finest performances ever. He walked back to his dressing room accepting handshakes, hugs, and pats on the backs from the cast and crew. He kept looking at the floor, lest they see his tears. He arrived at his dressing room and lay his head on the makeup table to rest for a few minutes before taking his makeup off one last time. He didn’t want to take it off just yet, because that would make his retirement final.
The assistant to the assistant director knocked on Mr. Riordan’s door. “Five minutes, until you go on Mr. Riordan,” he said, opening the door just a crack to deliver his message. He waited for the customary acknowledgment. There was none. He knocked harder and called out louder. When he got no answer, he ran in and saw Jason Riordan slumped with his head down on the makeup table. He checked for a pulse. When he didn’t get a pulse, he ran out in the hall and looked for a stage hand. “Get the director!” he yelled.
“That is how you found him?” the director asked, trying to find a pulse. He teared up a little when he realized that Riordan was gone. He walked behind the body to get to the other side and looked at his face. He wiped away his tears and smiled himself when he saw Riordan’s smile. It was that shy, after-performance smile that he used when he’d look at the director and ask how he’d done. “It would have been one, great, last performance,” he said as he closed Riordan’s eyes.
copyright Bob James
Read more great writing like this in Corpus Christi Writers 2018: An Anthology
Bob James is a native of the Chicago area, growing up in Oak Park, Ill. He currently lives in Corpus Christi, TX. He recently retired after 25 years in the education business—one year as a sign language interpreter followed by 24 years as a teacher in the fields of Special Education and Technology. All of his work can be accessed through his website called "Bob James – The Author." He writes daily devotionals, Science Fiction and Thrillers, and is also working on a book about the journey that he and his wife went through during her battle with breast cancer. Bob has been married to his wife Lucy since 1979. They have two sons, one daughter, two granddaughters, and one grandson
Branson Smith grew up in a Ingleside, Tx. After a 5 year hiatus, he’s back to writing when he’s not working his full-time job. More about Branson at the end of this section.
Jimmy entered the coffee shop. He hadn’t been back in his tiny hometown of Ingleside in ages. It was like a long-lost friend he was rediscovering. He was filled with anticipation to see his old pals from high school. Those days were filled with wild times, mischief, girls, and fast cars.
“Jimmy!” he heard a voice yell from the opposite end of the coffee shop. He looked over and saw Dan “The Man” Schmidt.
Dan used to be a hotrod king in these parts. He always had a different car or truck each year since he was sixteen years old. The other guys looked up to him since he was a year older. He’d been held back in the seventh grade. Now, he was an engineer on the West Coast—Southern California if Jimmy remembered correctly.
Dan had thought it would be a great idea if they all came back to Ingleside for a “boy’s trip.” Dan, Bill, and Craig lived out of state now, only Jimmy remained in Texas. He lived in San Antonio, which was about three hours away.
Jimmy waved and headed for Dan's table. He made his way through a maze of tables and chairs to get to his old childhood friend.
“Dan, how are you?” Jimmy greeted as he approached. He extended his hand.
“Get that shit outta here!” Dan said, pushing away his hand. “We give hugs after years and years, ‘Slim Jim’!”
Dan brought Jimmy into his arms and gave him a firm hug.
“But I’m good, Jim. Thanks for asking!”
They both sat down.
“Where are the others?” Jimmy asked.
“I’m sure they’ll be here in a minute.” He looked around. “Isn’t it weird being home again?”
They hadn’t been in Ingleside since graduation. They all went off to different colleges throughout the country. Jimmy went to NYU, and Dan traveled California and the Coast for several years before settling down and attending college in California.
Jimmy said, “Yeah, it’s strange, but it feels like I never left. What about you?”
“I could burn this place down,” Dan said, “And never look back. It wasn’t exactly my Golden Years. I wasn’t like you, Jimmy. I didn’t have all those friends like you had. You, Craig, and Billy were my buddies. Plus, my stepdad was an asshole and beat the shit out of me any chance he got. You know that. I had to leave. I left as soon as I got away from those high school doors. I couldn’t stay. It was hell for me here—besides the three of you guys.”
Ingleside was a small town. It had two gas stations, three fast-food places (including a Whataburger), and a tiny HEB grocery. It wasn’t much. But growing up here was everything to Jimmy.
The plan was to meet at this coffee shop Dan had heard of. It just opened a few months back. They would then go out for the night. Later, they would talk about going to the river near Garner State Park. Jimmy was familiar with it since he lived in San Antonio. They would rent a cabin and have the best weekend of their middle-aged lives. They all needed it. Whether it was divorces or bad break-ups near forty-years-old, they all could use the trip out of town.
Dan had flown in from California earlier that morning. He was jet-lagged, but was as brash and outgoing as always. Jimmy knew Dan had a bad childhood. But he also knew that Billy, Craig, and he were family—much more than his old man. He understood and nodded at Dan. He knew his old friend had it rough growing up. His stepdad, Lyle, hit him with the belt any time he slipped up. Jimmy always felt bad for Dan. But at sixteen, what could he do? He was nobody but another kid then. Now, at forty-two, he just wanted to console his friend more than ever.
Jimmy did have a lot of friends growing up—Dan was right about that. Maybe not all close, but many acquaintances and friends of the family. He knew the whole town pretty much. That’s why Ingleside felt so much like home to him.
A tall man with a belly that protruded outwards walked into the coffee shop about five minutes after Jimmy had arrived.
“Jim, there’s Craig,” Dan said, and nudged Jimmy’s elbow. He lifted an arm and waved, trying to flag Craig down. “Over here, you big over-sized goof!” Craig saw them. “Come on! We don’t have all day!”
Jimmy was slightly embarrassed at how loud Dan was. He kept a sense of humor about it though and sat. He was all smiles as Craig walked up.
“Hey, boys,” Craig said and acknowledged the two men at the table. “Cold as hell out there. Isn’t it?” He took off his coat and placed it on the back of the seat. He nestled into the chair with his big bottom. “How are you two fucks doing?”
Craig had gone to college in Michigan. After his studies, he stayed and made a home of Detroit. He was now married with two kids.
“Craig, you son of a bitch!” Dan said and laughed. He pushed Craig’s arm and drew back belting out a chuckle. He was overjoyed.
“How ya been?” Jimmy asked him.
“Good. I’ve been dabbling in stocks,” Craig replied.
Craig was the youngest of the bunch, but by far the tallest and most robust. At fourteen, he weighed over two hundred pounds. He was large for his age—always carrying a snack and eating whenever he and the boys would venture out and look for trouble in tiny Ingleside. He was also the comedic sidekick really. He always had a joke to tell. He was the funny one of the four of them.
“They say you can make a lot from that,” Dan said. “Good thing to get into.”
“Yeah,” Craig said, “It’s proven true. I’ve prospered.” He then laughed.
Jimmy looked around hoping Billy would show up next, but he was nowhere in sight. Billy was shy and timid—always had been ever since they met in the sixth grade. He was quieter than the others, but he truly was a lady’s man. For some reason, Billy always got the girl. And he loved science. Jimmy remembered when they were all in the eighth grade, Billy entered his volcano exhibit into the middle school science fair contest. It would have been a winner—if it hadn’t exploded all over Mrs. Peabody, the Junior High science teacher.
“Jimmy, tell us what you’ve been up to these last few years,” Dan said. His squinty eyes beckoned him for answers.
“Well,” Jimmy said, “I was married for about eleven years and that just ended a few months ago. But it had been a long time coming. I guess we kind of fell out of love like some people do.”
“Oh, shit,” Craig said. “She messed around on ya?”
“No. It was mutual. Things got stale, I suppose, and we agreed that we just weren’t meant for each other. Nobody’s fault. She filed and I signed willingly.”
“Damn, Slim, I’m sorry to hear that,” Dan added.
“It is what it is,” Jimmy said, then lowered his head. “I just thought I would have a family by now.”
“It’s not all that it’s cracked up to be,” Craig said. “I have two kids. You can have one, if you want.” He laughed.
The coffeeshop door opened wide, and in came a slender fellow with blonde hair and pale skin.
“Holy shit! There’s Billy!” Craig hollered. “Billy!” he screamed.
Jimmy was sure the staff of the coffee house had had enough of the hysteria coming from them. But he didn’t say anything as his childhood friends stood and waved to Billy. He waved back and followed the trail to the table where the three men were. Jimmy didn’t get up. Instead, his posture straightened, and he waved slightly with the others. Billy made his way over and got to the table at last.
“Hey, guys,” Billy said, and took a seat. “How’s everyone?”
Billy had rolled in from Florida. He'd loved Ingleside almost as much as Jimmy did. But he wanted more. He wanted to see the world, so after high school, he moved to Florida for college, graduated, and traveled. He would send postcards to Jimmy and the gang. He had visited Spain, Italy, Ireland, and even the Middle East. Japan seemed to be Billy’s favorite, though. Jimmy remembered the postcard from there. It had a long message on the back and Billy’s signature. Jimmy wished he could be more like Billy and venture out, but Texas was home—Ingleside was home, even if it had grown in the last decade. It had been a safe place to raise kids. Maybe not so much anymore, but on the outside, it remained quaint and cute. It still felt like the quintessential town to have a family in.
“You look good, Bill,” Dan said. “And I’m fine. Thanks for asking! Jimmy was just telling us about his heart-wrenching divorce. Care for the details?”
Jimmy slouched. He was embarrassed.
Billy said, “I’m okay.” He grinned.
Craig looked around the room. “They don’t have any of those little sandwiches or anything like that for a big guy to eat around here. I’m starving! I could use a bite!”
Dan chimed, “Don’t worry, Craig. We’ll get a bite after the coffee. But later. Not right now.”
Craig looked disappointed.
Jimmy asked Billy, “What have you been up to?”
Billy replied. “Oh, the usual. Hawaii, China, and Ireland—trips around the world to soothe the soul, Jim.”
Billy had led a life of a bachelor for years. After he and his long-time girlfriend had split up, he decided to find himself. He had traveled after college, but he ventured out again—country to country—in search of meaning behind life. Jimmy wished he could do the same, especially after he and his wife separated, and finally divorced. He wished he had that kind of courage, but instead, he stayed put and worked. He put his nose to the grind so he wouldn’t think of his ex-wife and their failed marriage.
“Are you still working on cars?” Billy asked Dan. He shifted in his chair.
“No, not these days, Billy,” Dan replied. “I’m saving up for a boat. Might do a little traveling along the coast. See the sights and meet some people. You know? I’m sure you understand.”
Craig interjected with, “I understand being a starving man.”
Jimmy couldn’t help but laugh.
Dan said, “Alright, alright. We’ll grab a bit now.” He looked at Jimmy and Billy. “Are you guys ready to get out of here and begin the night?”
They were headed for a restaurant nearby and after, a few drinks at the pub.
“Sure,” Billy replied.
“Thank, God,” Craig said.
“Alright,” Jimmy said, and began to lift himself out of his seat.
The others followed suit and got up. They pushed their chairs in and took their coats from the backs of the chairs.
“What restaurant?” Billy asked.
“You’ll see,” Dan replied. “Some new place in town that I heard of. The barista here recommended it.”
The small town only offered three options for dine-in. The third was the “new place” Dan mentioned.
“Strip club too?” Craig asked.
Dan laughed. “We’ll see about that one. But a drink for sure!”
They all got up and headed for the door.
“It’s nice to see you guys again,” Jimmy said, with a smile.
“You too, Jim,” Billy replied.
“Yeah,” Craig added.
“This night will be a good night with friends,” Dan finished. “Then, we’ll head to Garner in the morning and set-up at the cabin.”
They left the coffee shop and entered the evening night. Each man had a story to share, and, in due time, they would reveal what life had been like since they had last seen one another. Old friendships rekindled over drinks and food. The four men celebrated their youth once again. It was a reunion for the ages.
Branson Smith grew up in a Ingleside, Tx. He is a high school graduate with excellent test scores in Reading and Writing, and went on to study English at Del Mar College for a few semesters before switching to Music. After a 5 year hiatus, he’s back to writing when he’s not working his full-time job. He’s featured in “Alchemy and Miracles: poems anthology” by Gilbert and Hall Press (available on Amazon), and his recent release is titled “Natural Things: poems (2023)”. He resides in South Texas and is writing his romance novel.
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Brenda's professor and classmates inspired her to create “Broken.” More about Brenda at the end of this section.
You’ve found me.
I’ll start with my name, and that’s Birdie. My father insisted on going against family tradition and not gift me his name. That’s what my mother wanted, but she had no choice; she was already dead. I lived the best childhood any kid could ever experience. I had CDs, VCRs, posters, and so many toys. Living my teen years in the 2000s was magical. I had the thinnest eyebrows and wanted to be Britney Spears every morning when I got dressed. I imagined that life would stay like 1998 and never be different. Calling my best friend on our landline and making my daddy mad when I would pick up the other phone while he talked to grandma. The good ole days, right?
Too bad she was never a mother figure but was always there for me. I never once heard from my mother’s family; it’s like they existed on another planet that wasn’t very far away. My life has been normal even without my mother. Her presence has always surrounded me and my father. He knew if he was too close to me and if he lost me one day, it’d be a repeat. We were close, but he always kept a distance.
This bottle is the last one that my father drank out of. He nearly drank himself to death on my mother’s anniversary. We longed for her, but now he longed for so much beer. It was his escape, and mine was writing. I wrote my feelings until my pages were soaked. I trash dug this bottle but wiped it clear with my tears and drowned it in my bathtub of sorrows. I tested out this experiment just for you.
I took myself to the beach, the edge of the water, and saw something.
I saw myself on the water, no, not my reflection.
I finally got to see where my tears went. Years of crying and years of mourning.
This morning I placed my hands over my heart and realized enough was enough. I crumbled my paper and attempted to throw it into the water. No bottle, no cork, just paper, and water, soaked like it would be on my desk anyway. This bottle was the last treasure of my father. I now have nothing that belongs to him. I have our memories and now your condolences.
How did you find me? Tell me.
Know that you’ve found me when I lost myself.
By this time, I’ve probably found myself again.
Tell me now; scream it to the sky or whisper it in the wind.
Tell me now who you are and how why you broke this bottle in half. Did you think you’d find treasure or money? You actually found a fortune, and that was this wine bottle. My father never drank cheap, and I didn’t recover a broken bottle either.
Now, this fortune is worth nothing.
You broke it. It’s your fault, but you didn’t know that.
A fortune could be even a dollar to anybody, but it’s worth memories to me. This was the last memory of my father, his last bottle. Perhaps it’s both of our lasts, his last bottle, and my last letter.
Wait, calm down; you aren’t in trouble; there aren’t any “cLuES” to my mysterious death or to my mysterious “RunAWaY” in this final letter. Because I didn’t.
I didn’t die or run away.
Well, I guess there’s a mystery, and that’s why I’m writing as if I’m still here. I decided to find myself and just let go. I let go of my troubles and left them to you.
I had a problem with my childhood home. The one I told you about and the one I grew up in. I treasured that thing because I could go upstairs and smell my mother anytime I wanted at her vanity. I could also play dress-up when my father wasn’t looking because he’d just cry, mourn and scream.
I only ask that you save it and bid on it. You better bid big, baby.
Are you broke?
Because you aren’t now.
Turn this page over —>
Here’s my last check and clear my name.
Take care of what was mine like it’s yours because it is.
Start over the way that I couldn’t.
I wasn’t strong enough to live alone in an empty, once-full home.
It’s not haunted or ghosted.
My name is still active, and you can live the double life that I wanted.
When you enter, walk ten steps up the stairs, and you’ll hear a creak. Trust me; you’ll hear a creak on that step. Lift the carpet and get what you can before it’s gone. Give yourself time to consider what you want to do. You want to renovate, redecorate, purchase a car? Do it; I’ll never know. Just stay off the streets and remain low, lay low and never speed. That’s all I did, and now you might pay the price for it.
Do you get it?
Do I need to explain again?
Here I’ll sum it up:
My mother died the moment I was born, and my father cared for me. We missed her dearly, and all my father ever did was hope to see her again. He would show me where he’d stand and watch her get ready at her vanity. He told me once to sit there so he could imagine my mother. He cried for days after that, and on the final day, he was gone the same as her twenty years later. I drank and sped up and down the street in frustration. I almost ended up behind bars for it. This was the last letter I ever wrote. I couldn’t bear to live to see the date my parents didn’t make it to. I couldn’t mourn the day of my mother without my father.
Go to my home and buy it. My father never finished paying it, and the government took it. Repurchase it. I can’t. I’m not strong enough to start over and begin a life of my own. Why not leave it to a stranger.
Go to the tenth stair and take my cash and identity. Don’t be scared, just live. Live the life that I couldn’t. You’ll find the home looks like I just cleaned and went out to the grocery store and never returned. In other words, it’ll feel like home. I snuck in last night and rearranged it the way I remembered it, not the way the realtor wanted it. For the last two weeks, I’ve unfortunately seen two families look and be interested. This check will let you bid the highest and get to keep my memories safe. Pay off my tickets and carry on. Carry that cash and live November 26 like it was my last because it’s your first.
Do you have a husband or wife, maybe a child? Whoever and whatever you are, look at the blueprints under the sink, and you’ll find all of the hidden treasures buried in the walls. I stand here twenty-one years later and must follow in my family’s footsteps. I don’t know any different and not any better. Don’t worry about our family coming for you; they’re on another planet and think I’m still living my sorry life.
If you don’t agree, just rebottle this paper and leave it in the sand, don’t throw it into the water because I didn’t do that. Make it look like it just came from the water so some other nosy person like you can find it, crack it, and get to live my fortune.
Birdie E. Lane
(By this time, I’m swimming in my sorrows, floating in my tears, and flying my spirit). READ MORE LIKE THIS IN CORPUS CHRISTI WRITERS 2021
Brenda Riojas is a graduate student at Texas A&M University - Corpus Christi. Her professor and classmates inspired her to create “Broken.” During her free time, she enjoys spending time with her parents, brother Ruben, and dog Rufus.