HELLO CUPCAKE ITS ME

My Battle With Depression, Weight loss, and Diabetes

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Saturday, January 15, 2022

Remotely dealing with an aging parent

Its tough when you have to deal with a loved one being in the hospital. No matter what your relationship with that person may or may not be. Over the last week and a half, I have been dealing with my biological mother being in the hospital and drama of all that entails.

It started with a phone call a few weeks ago "your mom isn't doing to well" and went from there. For any of you who watch my YouTube videos, or have read any of my past updates, you will know that I have a strained but functional relationship with my biological mother.

My whole life I collected mother figures, and have never really considered my birth mother to really be my "mom". Nevertheless, I still don't really want to see her hurt, or being taken advantage of. So to get a random call out of the blue making blanketed statements about her and her health, really didn't surprise me. This considering that she has habitually used meth my entire life and probably for a long period of time prior to that. That in my 40yrs on this earth, I have only known her to maybe be sober from about 91-96. And even then I can not state my life on it. This is the woman that when I was 16yrs old, decided to chose drugs over me. To chose the drug dealer, whom I knew and was friendly acquaintances with. Not that I used drugs, but those who I chummed around with as a teen did. The man who I would watch snort up an entire 8-Ball of speed to wake up, and to go to sleep with. A man who when he wasn't smoking or snorting meth, was drinking 40's and partying with my friends uncle. A man that she married, on the heels of telling me that I was unwanted, unloved, and a mistake, should I not back her on her feelings and wanting's. A woman, who would go several long years without so much as a phone call. A woman who missed birthdays, holidays, and my high school graduation. 

So to say that there is love loss there is a bit of a dead fish in water. Its not that I dont love her, I just dont love this woman who I've come to know over the last 30 something years of my life. 
She was never the kind loving mother that television shows would make a mother out to be. Never the one to kiss a boo boo, or to readily tell you that she was proud of or that she loved you. Those were after thoughts. Like a period at the end of a sentence. like a child being reminded of "what do we say".
So it bewilders me that I would put in the amount of effort that I have making sure that all of her medical is taken care of. That she has a whole new doctor, and a doctors appointment set up for when she gets out of the hospital. But perhaps its my "fixing" nature. Perhaps its my way of trying to punish myself yet again in hopes that she will stay on the pathway that has been foraged for her. But logical mind knows better, but the heart still screams for this non-existent hope. Logic tells me daily, do not overly involve yourself, its going to blow up in your face. She's only going to do what she needs right this moment to keep her needs met.

The ultimate fear is that somehow, some way, she is going to be brought closer to my little Edan. That her poison is going to infect everything that I have struggled to create and grow. That my past, where I was Her son, awakens, and somehow her transgressions now become the crown that I bare. That those who dont know Her son, will pass judgement upon me, regardless of the years of knowing the person that I present myself to be. That her darkness will cloud an already cloudy day, and seep into every crevasse of a life that I built. I left "California" behind me. I tried to become someone new. Only to have "California" constantly on the horizon, like the sword of Damocles hanging over my head.
But one shouldn't feel this way about a mother. Yet this is what I fear. Having her back in close proximity to my fragile ecosphere. Thinking about what my exit plan would be, should she somehow darken my doorstep. Where is it that I would run this time? Where is it that would have me? That I could restart yet again?

So while other aspects of my life are good. There are those that I am trying to keep separated. Only to have real family drama unfolding in another part of my life. Trying to keep the ones that truly matter to me from falling apart, and to try and find the right words to speak, as to not cause the fault lines to further fracture. To not burden anyone else with my own problems, and my own short comings. Trying to be the rock, when my foundation at any given moment is build on a bed of quicksand. So it makes me thankful for those moments where I am not battling my own mental health. For should all of this be happening while im typically at my lowest, this would not be good. 

So I put on a strong brave face. I continue to be the "carefree" person that everyone expects, when just behind the mask, im screaming in silence and crying to the point of dehydration. But as long as the outer shell appears fine, then the dance can go on. 

Friday, December 31, 2021

2021 in Review

 As we count down the last remaining hours of 2021 I find myself reflecting over the last 365. I am reminded of the people who have left my life, as well as those who have come into it. The strain some relationships have undergone, and the strengthening of others.

I look back to just a few weeks ago when my depression was at a 30 on a scale of 0 - 10 and how shitty things felt and how hopeless I was. It seems like each depressive episode is getting harder and harder to pull out of. Perhaps I need a change of scenery, or to take some type of medication?
Its my familiar ties that anchor me to where I am at. The hatred of packing it all up and going. The destabilization of my roots to be transplanted in new soil in hopes of growing. Younger me craved such adventure. But as I approach my 41st year on this rock, I find that I am beginning to want less and less adventure, and just want safety and serenity. 

I look at late January of 2021 going into February when I was doing well on my walking, having had lost some weight, and feeling good about myself and then developing a kidney stone (of which I hope that was the first and last time that shit ever happens) to where I am now with my health. I allowed the ease of not doing to become my daily bread and butter. Where before, by 9am I had already walked 3 miles, come home and felt great about myself, and then by 6pm had gone out and walked another mile or two. Now being winded walking from my bedroom to the mailbox.
I hate myself for allowing this to transpire. But depression and health issues will do that. I look at my life and try to find where it made that "left turn at Albuquerque" instead of going the direction I had hoped it would. I recall as a  young teenager, thinking about how my life would be. I could see myself working at some Fortune 500 company in Marketing and Advertising. Being part of the Glam-arati and having a large home and flying home to visit with my parents and sister once a month or so. Not a depressed, fat, diabetic no body. 
But I have made peace with the cards that have been dealt to me, either by a rigged deck, or by my own decisions. And I fully admit that in some cases I held myself back, and didnt chase after some idea or yearning that I had. And maybe that is how things got off track? That I questioned myself instead of taking that leap of faith? But either way, im pretty sure that Ive got maybe another 30 - 35 years or so left (if the mortality rate of the males in my family are any indication) that I can maybe do at least one or two more things. Most have bucket lists and at this point I just have a fuck it list. Will I ever get to go to the UK? Probably not....FUCK IT! Will I get to go to Disneyland again? Probably not...FUCK IT! You know a "fuck it" list. 

But with all the ups and downs that 2020 and 2021 have given us. With the pandemic and which ever side of the coin you land on. We can all just agree, that we are doing the best we can, and to expect anything more than that is just, well, extra. 

So as you go into this new year, dont drag the mud of the last year into it. Forgive, make peace, reconnect with yourself and your higher power, whatever that looks like for you. And grab your new year by the balls and fuck it up!

Saturday, November 13, 2021

Depression - what its like

 

The last week or so has really kicked me in the balls. My depression has been at a 14 where it has been typically at about a 5.
It suck when your brain turns against you, and you know that its "not as bad as it seems" but yet you can not break free of the crippling sadness that holds you in place. You overthink, over analyze everything that is said to you, has been said to you, or could be said to you. You feel as if you are nothing in a whole world of something. Like you are just taking up space, and in everyone's way. Like you are their own personal cross to bare and that by saying anything about how you are feeling at the moment would only cause them to drown, so you let them stand on your shoulders with all of their BS while you suffocate under the weight of your own feelings of doubt, and inadequacy. You try to be there for everyone but yourself, because helping others helps you slightly forget about all of your pain and suffering. 
Then you take to social media, and you see what others are posting, and you relate it to conversations that you had with those people earlier in the week. Your depression and the darkness that it lives in, echo each typed word you read, as if it is a direct attack on you. That every word has a wealth of meaning behind it. You picture the people typing it, doing so with you in mind. And this could be the case, or this could all be fiction. But you hold back asking for clarity because you are afraid of the answer. Yet somehow the feeling of sorrow, and anxiety and the pain of it all is easier to deal with then hearing with your own ear the inflection and convictions of someone actually saying those things to you. So you do you best to brush it off and tell your rational self that its got nothing to do with you. Yet those dark echo's tell you otherwise.

You find no comfort in things that usually bring you some small ray of happiness. You go throughout your daily motions because your programming will not allow for you to miss a day of painfully smiling and joking, even though inside you are dying, and crying out for help. The darkness holds those words at bay, and puts on a mask of normality and makes you say things that are not true, because really who wants to be bothered with your problems right?
How are your trivial problems to measure up to someone who has real issues? And why should others care about you, even though whenever you post or hint at something being wrong on social media their outpouring of support is topically there, but in reality "thoughts and prayers" is the same as "shut up" and just as stinging. 
So you lay awake night after night, watching the marching shadows dance across your walls, from one side to the other. You dont reach out any more, only to find that it seems as if no one actually cares at all. Or you get mixed signals. People reach out to you, but only for a moment and then its back to radio silence and that voice. That horrid, cold, distantly and strangely welcoming voice speaks up "see, they dont really care about you, just seeing if they need to bare you yet another day" and then the little progress you made to getting back to happy is gone. You once again have been seduced by those horrible words. That poetry of lies. The heaviness weighs you down again. Its like a warm embrace from a lover. It hurts so good. You look at the myriad of  prescriptions within arms reach, and the cold sharp things even closer. You wonder. You scheme. You daydream. You think of how easy it would be to slip away and leave them with the pain of your passing, if there would be any true pain, and not the obligatory kind and "thought provoking" words said in your absence. You know, those "I wish that they would have reached out to me" and things like that. When chances are they were part of the ingredients that added to that final supper. That their actions are what turned bad into worse. Or that you tried reaching out to people, only to have your sadness throwing into your face or callous words like "others have it way worse" or "you have nothing to be sad about" or "just put on your big boy/girl panties and deal with it" or "you are in control of your emotions, so just man up and deal with shit you are an adult not a kid anymore." All words of kindness, all words of love, all words that inspire hope, no?

Doesn't matter what the teams of medical professionals have said about you and your "conditions" as long as you "buck up" and dance in choreographed movements with what is acceptable for their world and for the societal standards. You are not allowed to burden others with any emotion other than happy, and on occasion anger. You are never ever to answer truthfully when others ask "how are you" you have to give the canned robotic "Im doing well and yourself" and never leading in with more pressing questions or things that would over extend the topical salutations of "good" and keep it moving. Because "time is money" and because you are "worthless" you have no value, so therefor you can not have my time. So then once again comes the dulling of the colors, that bitter voice from within the shadows, and all the nuances that go with being "good" and keeping it moving. 
No one celebrates seeing you the next day. No one acknowledges your invisible war, nor does any wish to see those scars, both visible and not. Only judgement that they will give, is in how you act at that moment they interact with you. If you fall out of sync with their timed dance, and offend their sensitive natures, then you are shunned yet again. They are so quick to see all the flaws that you cover with the makeup of humor and out going personality. They are so quick to say the key phrases, that like Alibaba's command, opens the floodgates that just barely holds everything in. 

How is it that we give so much power to people, that with an almost effortless gesture, they can build our whole world or destroy it within a second. How is it that they've gained so much sway? Why is it that they wield it so carelessly, like a toddler with a gun. Why is it that their words invoke love, pain, or wrath? How did we become such creatures that need these interactions and crave their presence?  

Sunday, October 31, 2021

Apache Moon - short story

First I must premise this by saying it is an LGBTQ+ story. It is not graphic. But a story none the less. I hope you enjoy and let me know what you think.


Apache Moon by Michael Peterson



Back then the love between same-sex people was taboo and almost outlawed. One could be beaten to death or tried for crimes that we're not committed simply under the suggestion of a sexual perversion. For those of us who found comfort in the arms of those who look like ourselves, the world was a very different place. It was the fall of 1991 when my whole world changed.

I meant a young Native American man called Dancing Bear, but his government issued name was David. Dancing Bear had long jet-black hair, high set cheekbones and Sun kissed skin in the most beautiful bronze-color you ever saw. More like a walking statue carved from some unworthy piece of mahogany. His voice was soft and melodic. Though his laughter was loud and booming, full of life and cheer. People flocked to Dancing Bear like moths drawn to flames. All the girls swooned over him, and the men touted him as a lady killer, wishing they had only a part of his natural charm and charisma.


But I knew his heart. A thing many claimed to know and understand. In Native culture they call it Twin Flame. The banter between us was always topical and child-like in its innocence and always in good humor. As I said we lived in a time where being attracted to anything other than what was "the norm" could cost you your life. Not that either of us had terminology for what we felt. We were just really good friends and talked alot about our childhood, the poor decisions our parents made, the hardships of being a kid, and school, you know, the meaningfully and important topics of "serious" youth conversations. 

We didn't attend the same school, as he went to school on the reservation. But I always rushed home to just spend as much time with him as I could before our parents called us in for the night.

Growing up I was bullied alot as a child. I came from a very small town, and was ignorant of the city and the life of the kids therein. My limited education of bigger topics, terms, and going on's, were not up to date with the more mature children of the big city school that I was forced to attend after my parents divorced. My only saving grace was Dancing Bear, and our friendship. 


On my way home from school one afternoon, my bullies Tom Fredricks and Scott Newland found me and beat me up and tore my shirt, for no other reason than the sport of it. After the assault, I gathered my few things and shuffled home whimpering and feeling sorry for myself. When I came into the apartment complex bloody and crying, Dancing Bear was the first to meet me. He asked me what had happened and I told him the whole affair. 


He walked me to my door, and gave me a hug. That was the first time he had ever hugged me. I felt his strength and his warmth. I felt a strange attraction that I had never felt before. It was like two magnets pulling, trying to unit themselves. An almost supernatural force.

Later that night I heard a tapping on my window. In the pale moonlight I could see it was him and I opened the window quickly. 

"how you doing bud?" He whispered. His voice gave me goosebumps. I dismissed the feeling and thought it must have been the cold fall weather. 

"I'm ok. My mom said she's going to the school tomorrow to talk to the principal. I asked her not to, but she's really mad" I trailed off. 

He smirked at me and said "well I think tomorrow is going to be much better. You have a good night bro." I could see that he had dirt on his face, which was unlike him to even have a hair out of place. But he ran from my window and I heard his door slam shut. 

That next morning my mother took me to school and had a meeting with the principal. When I was allowed to return to my classroom, everyone was whispering as I walked in with my pass from the office, and I took my seat. 

At break, several people came up to me and asked me about the fight that I had with Tom and Scott. I recanted the story to my small captive audience. Then I saw Tom and Scott. Both with swollen black eyes, and busted lips. Apparently the school yard thought that I did that to them, and was all a buzz about it

At lunch, I had to stand behind them. All eyes examining us. They turned to me and Tom said "bout yesterday, sorry man" and then Scott quickly added "no hard feelings" and they got out of line and cut in front of the people at the front. I didn't know what to think. Hushed whispers rang out when they quickly walked away. I felt really insecure about all of it. I was always the type to try to stay out of sight, for fear of being on some bullies radar and getting beat up, even though many times I was much larger than they were, and more stronger physically. 


That day after school I walked home as fast as I could. But I was met by Dancing Bear about a block up from the school. “Hey dweeb, how was school today?” he called out. It startled me and I got excited and replied “It was strange. Scott and Tom had black eyes and were all busted up. Everyone was talking about it. Like I did that to them. They even apologize to me.” I said as I looked over to him. He had a big grinning smirk. In the full light of the day I could see that he had a few scrapes and what appeared to be a bruise on his jaw. But with his dark complexion it was hard to tell.

“Oh good they said sorry, not that it makes up for the fact that they touched you to begin with but…” he stopped. “Did you beat them up?” I shyly asked. His smirk turned into a full smile, and he scrunched his face “I dont know what you are talking about” he snorted. No one ever did anything like that for me. Mostly I was just a wallflower. Something that was in peoples way, not something that would be noticed or even made a fuss over. “Well whoever or whatever did that to them I’m thankful for it” I said sarcastically. It was now summer and my mom found a new house that was cheaper than the apartment we currently lived in and wanted to move us away. Even though it was only a few miles away on the other side of town, it might as well been the seventh moon of Jupiter. I protested the best I could, but she had already signed the paperwork and told management that we would be out within a few weeks. 

The last night in our apartment, Dancing Bear came to my window. “Hey you.” his voice was falsely upbeat. 

“So tomorrow is the big day huh?” 

“Yeah, I dont want to go. I like it here. I dont want to leave you behind.” I confessed.

“Its not that far, we’ve walked further together. Its not like its a state away or anything. We can still hang out” he said. The thought of us still being friends and hanging out somehow made it easier to leave. But those were the promises of children. Children who had no control over where their lives would take them. After a few days of getting settled into my new house, I got on my bike and rode over to the old apartment to go see Dancing Bear. When I got there, and knocked on his door. His grandmother answered the door and said that he had been taken by Child Protective Services and placed back out on the Reservation.
My heart broke. The Reservation was twenty miles away and quite literally two cities away. Sadness and grief filled my little heart. 


Some years passed, and I had made friends with other people and had even moved back in with my father after my mother made a series of really bad decisions that affected my safety. It wasn’t until the summer of my high school graduation in 1999 that I returned to the town that I had once lived in. I still had a ton of friends and people who lived there and would come back every few weeks and visit with them when I lived with my dad. But the day after I graduated High School, I went over to my friends house, where they were having an end of the school year/graduation barbecue to celebrate. When I pulled up to the house, there were tons of people standing in the yard. Music blaring and the smell of a cook out in the air. Everyone shouted out my name as I pulled in. All but one.


A tall young man, with jet black hair down to his waist, slowly turned, as my heart dropped when we locked eyes.It was Dancing Bear. I dropped my overnight bag and ran to him and we threw our arms around each other. It had been ten long years since we saw one another. And it was just a coincidence that he was here, at my new friend's house. It was like the music and everyone disappeared. Holding back tears in my eyes I whispered into his ear “where have you been? I’ve missed you so much.” He squeezed tighter “lost until now.” Those familiar goosebumps returned to my skin, like they had that night at the window.
The onlookers were confused, as they watched this familiar intimate embrace. He wrapped his arm over my shoulder and grabbed my bag off the ground. “How the hell do you two know each other?” my friend Justin asked. We both laughed “We’ve known each other for a very long time, and its a reunion long past due.” Dancing Bear said. 


I watched him dancing, singing, fooling around, carefree and happy. Like we did growing up.How the whole world seemed to be caught in his orbit. My heart was happier than it had been in years. As night approached, we “had to go to the store”, so we excused ourselves and went for a walk. We caught each other up about what had happened over the years. What adventures we went on. And how there always seemed to be a void in our lives because we were not able to stay in contact. 

It was a full moon that night. The air was thick, but cool for a summer evening. There was an outlook that had an old grove of olive trees on it. A place that I went to many times throughout the years when I needed to get away from everyone. We sat down in the thicket of grass and just looked at the rising full moon coming up over the horizon. In the dim light, I could still see his bronze skin, and long black hair. He was outlined in pale golden yellow. It was like a dream. Us sitting together, talking, laughing the way we did when we were younger. He looked over at me and smiled. “What?” I asked. “Nothing, just looking at you. Seeing the kid I knew looking back at me from a mans face. Its nice.” I was caught off guard by this. “I love you. I have since the moment we met. You are seriously the only person who kept me sane living in those apartments. And when you left, it killed me. Part of the reason I went to live on the Reservation. I couldn’t stand being there without you” he stopped. “I came back a few days later and your mom had told me that CPS took you. I think I cried the whole way back to my house.” He put his strong arms around me and hugged me. “Well I am here now, for tonight anyways, and with you and that is all that matters. I forgot how much fun it was to be around you.” Then he kissed me. A deep longing, passionate kiss. The type of kiss that had more than love behind it. It was my first time ever kissing a man. But instinct took over and I returned it. It wasn’t ‘kissing a man’ to me, it was like kissing my other half. That part of me that had been missing my whole life up to that point. My heart, my soul, my spirit connected with his, like the magnets finally embraced. Like all that was wrong in the world, all that held us back, went away and we connected deeper than anything I had ever felt before. We laid in the grass, embraced in something that transversed the mundane. It was more than two bodies in the thralls of passion. It was the reunion of two halves made whole. It was a spiritual intimate connective bond. To call it anything other than love would be to cheapen and prevert what was taking place.

The moon now in all of its full glory swon down on us. The stars, our blanket. The earth, our bed. I laid there listening to his heart, and to the breaths he took. I never wanted it to end. But like all good things, it had to. We realized that we had been away from the party longer than was acceptable. 

“Do we have to go back?” I asked. “I dont want to either but I think its best we do” he said while putting his shirt back on. We slowly walked out of the old olive grove, this time holding hands. Another first for me, but it wasn’t strange, or unusual, it was comforting, it was home. When we got within a block of the house, we could still hear laughing and the smell of burning wood in the bonfire now. He looked at me and kissed me again. As he let go of my hand and we walked up the driveway to mingle back into the crowd. We sat around the fire listening to Art Laboe's top 40s. We all eventually made our way into the house, and into our respective sleeping areas. I laid on the floor in the den by myself, staring at the ceiling. It was dark, and cool. A shadow appeared. It was Dancing Bear. He laid next to me on the floor and draped his arm around me. He looked up at me and again our lips met. The whole dance began again. And when it was done. We held each other for what seemed like forever. And he said “I have to get back to my room, otherwise im going to fall asleep here and we’ll have some explaining to do in the morning.” And of course I protested. But I understood what he meant and didnt want to have to answer those questions when the others woke up and found us laying together. By the time I woke up that morning, he had left again. He was never one for goodbyes. But I still felt him. Like a fresh kiss was on my cheek. My Dancing Bear had returned to wherever it was that he went when we were not around each other. My heart hurt as I didnt know when or if I would see him again. 


But to this very day, full moons hold a special place in my heart. Over the years, I’ve heard through the grapevine here and there that he is doing well, or that someone spotted him in this town or that town. But I still have yet to see my Twin Spirit. But every full moon, I look up and say a prayer, that he is blessed, well, and loved.


Friday, October 29, 2021

The Waiting Room - short story

 The Waiting Room by Michael Peterson


It was a fun, beautiful summer day. My friend Stephine and I were driving along. Listening to music, laughing, and just enjoying life. In love with life but not each other. A rare platonic relationship between a man and woman. We were goofy and silly. People always made the assumption that we were together. But she had a husband and kids, and I had a proclivity to others like myself. It was our “therapy time”. Just getting in the car, with no destination, no plan, no expectations. Just get in, buckle up, and drive. We drove for what seemed like hours. Just enjoying the warm summer air coming through the windows. We pulled over to watch the sunset over a lake. Still listening to our music. The day was perfect. Just two really good friends, hanging out. As the light dimmed it began to feel like I was floating. I looked to where Stephine was and she wasn’t there. But there was a door. “What the fuck is going on” I said out loud. The music was softer now, more tinny. I noticed that the lake was nothing more than a mural on the wall. Confusion set in as I tried hard to remember what was going on. I felt drunk, and lightheaded. Like it was the first time I had ever stood or walked. None of the usual pains, or heaviness. Almost like gravity was somehow less, and that it was less effort to make simple movements. I opened the door and saw a small hallway with a few chairs and what looked like a woman with a clipboard. I walked up to her and said “hey how did I get here?” To which she said in a super cheery voice, “My name is Stephine, and you’ve been here for several hours now sir, just looking at a painting in the hall. What was it that you were looking at?” Puzzled, I said “a lake at sunset.” She smiled. “Where am I? I dont remember coming here, or where here is? Where is my friend Stephine?” my voice trailed off as I struggled to piece things together. My memory and thoughts were like trying to read a book under cloudy water. Bits and pieces came but it was fuzzy. “Oh, well this is a waiting room. A new corridor seemed to just appear to the side of her. That or I was just in so much of a daze that I didnt notice it. In this area with another set of hallways, one of them painted grey, the other well lit, and bright. There was what appeared to be a reception desk. There was an older woman with long grey, unkempt hair, in an old worn nightgown. She didn’t say anything, but anytime someone would come and write something on the clipboard on the counter by her, she would throw her arms up like she wanted a hug, and people would just walk by. She looked like she was straight out of a nursing home or an asylum. The lady behind me said “hospital! Poor dear has been her for years. This is kind of her job. Day in and day out she stands there and does the same thing over and over.” I turned to look back at her. The same repetition over and over. “Has anyone ever talked to her or asked her what she's doing here? Does she ever go home? What’s her story?” I questioned. “No. Just one day she was there. We just kinda let her be.” Stephine said. I noticed that sometimes people would come out of the Grey area and other times they would come in from the door that I had walked in through and just took a seat. But each person stopped at that clipboard, read it for a moment and signed it, and then walked past the old lady and either turn to the right or went through a set of double doors. I walked over to the clipboard. As I did I looked down the grey hallway but didnt see much as it made a right turn. There was a big picture window that I hadn’t seen behind the counter with the clipboard on it. I looked at the clipboard and there were all types of names, with little pictures next to them. Some of the names were in crayon, some fancy scrolled signatures with little doodles of a cloud, or a cat, or a heart. “You may sign it anytime you are ready to sir.” Stephine said. I looked at her and said “what is it for?” at which point a middle aged man about five foot five, heavy set, and naked and looking wet, came walking in from the gray hall. His bare feet slapping the floor with every step he took. “Excuse me” he said as he reached for the clipboard. “Um hey buddy why are you naked?” I asked. “Just happens sometimes. You never know, I guess.” And he signed his name, and drew a little car. Looked at the window, smiled and then turned to walk past the old lady, who like clockwork threw her hands up and smiled, he went over and hugged her, and continued on, and he stopped and looked at the other grey hallway, and then at the double doors like he didn’t know which way to go. “Sir” Stephine called “You want the hallway to the right.” He looked over his shoulder, and took a deep breath and sighed and turned and walked down the hall. “Is it ok for him to be naked like that?” I said to Stephine. “Oh it happens more often than you’d realize.” She said. “Well sir, its your time to sign the clipboard.” She smiled. “What is it for? And where am I? Why do I have to sign it at all? And where is my friend Stephine?” I demanded. “Sir, Im the only Stephine here right now. And this is a waiting room.” I walked over to the clipboard and the words had changed on it, but the signatures were the same. But it now said “Please inscribe your name,and draw a little picture of what makes you happy, doesn’t have to be artistic, just a doodle.” I looked at the window and it seemed to be playing a movie now. Some familiar scenes. My first dog. The christmas that I got a new bike. Swimming at a pool party. Sitting in history class doodling in the margins of my book. A dental appointment I had to get fillings. A balloon that I got at a circus when I was 5yrs old. Random unsequiencial images and events, that were personal to me. Things I had forgotten, things that had just happened. But how and why were they playing on this screen? “What…?” “You know hun” Stephine cut me off. My eyes began to well up. “You mean?” I forced the words, “but how? Why?” She furrowed her brow “why not?” I then heard a little voice behind me “‘scuse me” and a little hand pushing past me. It was a little girl about 5yrs old. Short blonde hair, and a little yellow dress with white flowers on it. She picked up the board and scribbled Sussie in a blue crayon and drew a little cat. She then went skipping toward the double doors, and the old lady crouched down and threw her hands up and Sussie went over and gave her a hug, and the lady walked her to the door and opened it for her “thank you nice lady” she said as she walked through. The old lady returned to her post, and looked at me. “Did she...was she…” my voice cracked as the realization began to set in. “Yes” Stephine said softly. “Did I ever have a friend Stephine? In the car? I mean…” again my voice left me. “You and your friend were together yes. But her name wasn’t Stephine. That is my name. And it was in the car too. I was sent to be with your friend Sarah that day. And for whatever reason you saw me and new my name, and didn’t see Mandy sitting there in the passenger seat, or standing with you at the lake. But I guess none of that matters now.” She said. “I began to write my name. And drew a balloon. I dont know why a balloon, but it was the first thing that came to mind. The old lady turned to me and threw her arms up. I knew it was now my turn to go. I looked at the elderly lady and smiled and hugged her. I got to the door and the hallway. “Oh sir” Stephine called out urgently as I reached for the door. “Apparently there's been a mistake. Not now.” I awoke. The light was blinding. My head was hurting. The beeping of machines, and the out of tune sound of voices. “Where...where am I” My voice was shaky and raspy. “You're at St. Peter’s hospital. You were in an accident over by Lake Pleasant. But you and your friend are going to be fine. You’ve been out for a few days. She’s already gone home. A car lost control while you were at the lookout and ran into the back of your car and pushed it over the embankment.” The doctor explained. Bits and pieces of those moments came back. Mandy screaming. That floating feeling. The dimming light and the muffled sounds of the radio. “You are lucky to be alive son. It was only a small drop but still someone was watching over you two that day. But now that you are awake, im going to keep your for observation for the night and you can go in the morning. Get some rest.” The doctor said. I fell back into a dreamless sleep. The next morning my discharge was early. I got up, and dressed. Still a bit weak. Mandy was there to drive me home. As we were walking we came up on a door that was opened. In there was an older woman hooked to all manner of machines. Long grey hair, and a worn nightgown. “It cant be!'' I exclaimed. “What?” Mandy asked. “I know this woman.” I went into her room. It was the same lady from the waiting room. The old lady who offered hugs to those who signed their names. I walked over to her, and took her hand in mine, and leaned over and hugged her and whispered “thank you”. For a brief moment it felt like she squeezed my hand. But she laid there motionless. A reflex perhaps. As we left the room, and nurse with a clipboard rounded the corner and cheerfully smiled “oh good morning, on your way home?” “Yes.” I quickly said “The lady in there, how long has she been here?” I asked. “Well I really cant say much, but its been several months. But I have the feeling that she is a lovely woman, who just feels that everything is better with a hug” she smiled. “Well you take care hun, we dont want to see you any sooner than you need to be.” And as she walked past I noticed her name tag said Stephine and there was a little red balloon sticker next to it. To this day I dont know if my experience in the waiting room was real, or just a delusion. I do know that Stephine and the old lady were somehow connected, and that I was changed for my interactions with them.

Wednesday, October 27, 2021

The Screaming Forest

 The Screaming Forest by Michael Peterson


In a land enveloped by darkness stands a forest that the people of the land stay far from. They say it was cursed by dark magics long ago. An army of twelve thousand soldiers, were commanded by King Rhinehart to invade the neighboring kingdom of Drask. The Draskan people heard of this invasion that was to come from Rhienhurst and sent their army of twelve thousand warriors to the defense. In the middle of this would be battlefield lived a man who was learned in the old ways, and his family. He longed for his solace and the happiness therein. He did not take kind to those who would happen upon him and his little family, especially those who would trespass and try to take from him. 

He would use his skills to help any who requested it of him, but at the end of the day, just wanted his little world to be undisturbed. His wife Lynn and his daughter Nasea, carved out a meager living. Lynn spoke to the earth and to the plants that grew, Ven to the Elements and spirits, and Nasea to animals. 

The great warring horns sounded from the North and From the West. The faint cries of blood thirsty men and the thundering of their running and their beasts filled the air like a violent storm.

Ven knew what was to come and wanted no part of this impending battle that was to take place in his valley. Both warring parties were soon in sight. The air thick with rage and blood lust. The commanders of both armies came forth to begin their campaigning and boastering of whose might was stronger, and whose cause more just. 

In their screaming match, it was as if Ven and his family did not exist. Ven shouted "I care not who you are. Nor why you would spill each other's blood. But you shall not do it here on my ground. I have lived here in peace, with my family, for longer than I have memory for. This land was worked by my father, and his father, all the way back for as long as time, it seems. You trespass, and may not make your war here, where my family and my home are kept." Ven declared.

The commander from Rhiehurst was a presence that commanded acknowledgement by lesser people, moved closer. A barbaric looking man, in bloodstained armor, sat on the back of a pure black horse. "I am King Rhinehart's General Franstrom the Black. No man stands before my lord's wishes. You are commanded to stand aside or you shall taste my blades wrath." Franstrom boasted. 

Another voice shouted back "I am Camore of Drask, my lord has commanded my blade to defend his land, and the Draskan people. You invade without provocation and this is where you shall be turned from your task." Camore said. 

"Did you not hear me? My voice I know, is not silent" Ven shouted at them both, this time with a loud booming thunder behind it that shook the very ground they stood upon. 

They gave him notice. "Stand aside you fool, you see the army I command, you will be nothing more than the mud beneath our boots." Franstrom spit. Lynn stepped around from the side of Ven, "Sir, you know not what you presume, the mud is mine to command, and this is our land! You, and all those who have rallied here today, are the ones that need to step aside." Lynn's hand began to glow a bright green color and with a gesture of her long fingers the land went soft and became mud. Nasea clung to her mothers dress peeking from behind her. "Witch how dare you" Franstrom shouted and threw a dagger that struck Lynn in the chest. The light from her hand, and eyes faded. 

Nasea let out a scream that caused all the animals on the battlefield to faint. Ven looked on in horror as his wife fell to the ground. He rushed to her side, pleading for her not to leave him. Growling under his breath. Nasea went silent. Camore held her by the hair and ran his blade across her tiny throat. 

Instantly a low thundering sound filled the air. Ven covered in the blood of his wife, watched as the now lifeless body of his daughter was thrown into the mud and her blood wiped from Camore's dagger. Ven let out a howling scream that caused Camore's body to explode. Visera splattered the men behind him. 

He turned his gaze upon the Drask army. Blood red lighting filled the skies above. Franstrom called for his army to attack. An arrow shot past Ven's face inches from his eye grazing his cheek. Ven let out a sound like a million lions roaring all at once. The spirits that he knew answered his call. 

They came forth from the ether and began violently ripping apart the army of Rhinehurst. Franstrom charged Ven and drew his sword. "You and what's left of your men shall stand vigil over what you've done here this day." Ven waved his hand and lightning melted Franstrom's sword. 

His legs froze in place. Panic struck his heart for the first time. A loud cracking settling sound could be heard from all around him as his men began to petrify and become gnarled twisted trees. Their horrified screams silenced. Franstrom began hitting at his slowly petrifying legs. 

The Draskan army turn to flee at the sights and sounds of what was happening to the Rhinehurst army. The blood red lightning struck the ground all around them, as if it were a cage. "Where is it that you would go that my power would not find? Stand your grounds oh brave soldiers! You followed these orders, and your commander laid waste to my life. And so from you, I take yours in unworthy payment..” he painfully looked down at his hands covered in his wifes blood as his voice trailed off “..for my broken heart” Ven looked up and fixed his gaze once again on the Draskan army “Let this to be where your lines end." 

Ven's eyes glared with hatred and heartbroken pain. "Your souls are mine" he reached out his hand and made a grasping motion. The flesh of the Draskan army fell like drops of rain with only an ethereal spirit of the men who once stood in its place now were. 

"I bind you to this land, never to return home, never to know honor, glory, or love. I take from you whatever afterlife you had been promised. I take from you the light of day, and the glow of the moon. Trapped herein for all time. Forever and always. Even longer than that. No man, woman, child, or god will ever bless you, save you, nor reverse what has been done to you here this day. Your voices lost among the screaming of the forest! Your spirits are the fog which arise from the ground." A tear ran down his face as the ground and air grew thick with mist, as the spirits of the fallen army collapsed into plumes of smoke. Ven walked to his wife and his daughter. His heart hurt. And the tears came now like rain. Beautiful Purple flowers grew all around Lynns body where her blood flowed. The creatures both great and small laid at Nasea's small body. Her hair stained with her blood. Ven dropped to his knees. In anguish he stuttered out "Not my loves. Please, not this! Oh death, could you not make an exception? Could a deal not be made? Oh spirits please, hear me in my time of need." He sat there on his knees weeping, holding them both. A hand gently fell on his shoulder and squeezed him. It was Lynn's spirit. "My love. My husband. You who have foresight of spirits. I will never leave your side" She said with a smile. "Me too papa, me too" Nasea's little voice sang. A fawn stood up from Nasea's side and walked over to Ven and nudged his hand. He gently caressed the velvety soft fawn. The other animals began to depart, and their spirits faded. 

Ven went back to his humble little cottage that used to be filled with love, and laughter, and shut the door. Spent, and tired from the pain in his soul. He fell into a deep sleep. So deep in fact that the vines and grasses grew over him, and entombed him. His body, soul, and magic fused into one being. In nature he could be with his girls again. His life wasn't forfeited however, just able to live on for all time through nature itself. Its conscious and heart. Its connection to the world of man. And the warning of the forest, and the screams therein. To any who should trespass there. Or to make war in peaceful lands. And that is the story of the Screaming Forest.


Monday, October 25, 2021

The Voice - Short Story

 The Voice by Michael Peterson 


A man tired from his day, wary of spirit and needing solace embarked into the wilderness. There he sat himself next to a creek. Around him the voice of the forest spoke. The chattering of chipmunks, the song of the birds. The ebb and flow of the wind rustling in the trees as the earth breathed. He sat for along while in silence and in awe. It was a place he had come to in the past. A sanctuary of primal energy, a wisdom beyond the ego of man. Each tiny thing therein a living universe. All interdependent of the next, a symphony of symbiosis. Here he felt connection. Here he felt understanding. Here he knew peace.

"Ah little forest, you have heard my confessions many times. Yet I wonder how many you've heard before me, and still yet how many you will hear after me? "

He closed his eyes. Fighting back his own little rivers. His thoughts turned to the natural order of things. Of the fish that swam in the waters next to him. Did they fight so hard to return to their spawning grounds because it was habit? Or did they do so in hopes of reclaiming something from their past? Or was it that primal wisdom that drove them? That in their hearts they divined some greater knowing and understanding? That their journey wasn't about them, but about those along the way. Those who would feed upon them. That their spirit passed into another. And that their life wasn't a sacrifice, but a service. That their purpose was to bring others what they needed?

"Or maybe they're just fish" he said out loud giggling to himself. A bird began chirping and it sounded like laughing as if nature was answering him. The sun began to shine through the treetops. He closed his eyes and drew it all in. Then a voice spoke to him in his thoughts, "the age of man is coming to an end. A new dawn comes." It trailed off. Visions of the forest growing thicker, and the animals becoming more populated. Of the little creek digging away at the bank, becoming deeper and further down in elevation. Of it becoming a river. The trees growing and dying, and re-growing. The sounds of the world changing from a modern roar to a harmonic song. Of names that had been given. Being forgotten. And new names bestowed. Of quadruped becoming bipedal. But this was not new knowledge. This was shared, yet forgotten knowledge. This was memory, and discovery. Past, present, future. A connection found in disconnection. An awakening or a momentary ah ha. The voice once again returned "a part of, not apart from. Though one age ends, another begins. Your form may not remain, but your spirit will."
He opened his eyes again. "Who are you voice, to proclaim such knowledge?" He demanded. A frog croaked. A bird sang. A squirrel chattered. A deer came out into a clearing. The wind gusted. Then all fell silent.  "Mother!"

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