The Hundredth Post! Excerpts From “Timber” And Short Story Collection

This is my hundredth post! As of yesterday, you all have blessed me with 2,000 visitors to this website in 2020. Because of this, I figured I would let my readers choose the content of my hundredth post, so I held a poll to let everyone decide what this post should be and the option selected by popular opinion was an excerpt from a work in progress. I have multiple works in progress, so I decided to include a scene from Timber and one of the short stories, Moving On, from my upcoming collection to be released at the end of this year.

For some context, Timber is a book that follows the main character, Sarah, through her divorce, loss of her existing friendships, and change of identity as her perceptions of reality are challenged and reconciled. The scene I picked is from the middle of the book.

Enjoy!

Photo by Hisu lee on Unsplash

Excerpt From “Timber”

Charity smiled sweetly as her large pale blue eyes with opalescent pupils caught Sarah off guard. She never noticed Charity’s eyes before, or the eyes of any other zombie for that matter. Her extremely pale skin, a deeper blue at the tips of her fingers, had been rarely this visible. She rolled up her sleeves and lovingly arranged baskets filled with children’s books and miniature prints of famous art.

“What will the children do with the baskets?” Sarah asked as Charity’s careful and loving movements prepared each basket.

“They’ll eat them and become smarter. It will help their brains develop and they will better be able to communicate with the world around them.” Charity responded with a hint of exhaustion at having to explain.

“Why not just give the children adult books. Wouldn’t that be faster and better?” Sarah inquired while reaching for her own stack of baskets to begin filling.

“You can’t just give a child a book at a higher reading level! Our brains develop similarly to humans – the solid foundations for learning must exist before we can advance. When a child tries to eat books more advanced than they can handle they get very stressed and sometimes sick. Sure, they might regurgitate the material, but they could end up confused with disjointed information because they couldn’t digest it properly.” Charity handed a stack of children’s books to Sarah.

“So, zombies eat in order to learn?”

Charity stopped filling the baskets and looked up at Sarah, her direct eye contact forcing Sarah to shift weight between her feet. “We do not call ourselves ‘zombies’. Humans came up with that term and forced us to take it with the addition of bad literature and even worse movies.” Charity cleared her throat, took a deep breath, and continued. “And yes, we must physically consume material to learn new information.”

“What do you call yourselves?” Sarah asked, apologetically. Momentary silence stretched into an eternity between tics of the wall clock’s second hand.

“Phagoneurites” Charity sighed. “Individuals are Phagonuers.” She paused and pointed to fabric basket covers. “Hand me the wraps, will you? These are ready to be sent to families.” She indicated to the full baskets now covering the table.

Sarah grabbed the wrap and started helping Charity enclose each basket. “If Phagoneurites learn information so efficiently, why aren’t more in higher paying jobs?”

Charity paused in silent contemplation as her posture and face saddened. “Take that question to your politicians, your judges, your lawyers, and your education system.” She tightened her jaw with a deep seething breath, “The way things are now, we can’t. There are policies against us everywhere, both written and unspoken. The written ones are carefully worded as to prevent us from challenging them. So, we have our own universities, but most businesses refuse to accept degrees from them. The human education system refuses to give our programs accreditations.” Charity began picking up baskets from the table and shifting them into the large bins labelled “outgoing”.

Sarah chewed her mouth, trying to understand her desire to argue with Charity’s words. She’d learned her whole life that the policies were ‘anti-discrimination’ and that it was a choice not to attend human schools. Her brain tried to understand the words Charity said while she kept silent. “I’m sorry,” Sarah managed to say before she even realized she spoke.

“You’re here. That’s a start.” Charity looked at the cleared table and opened a box of books labeled ‘Young Adult’, grabbing more baskets. Her blue lips pursed as she closed her large eyes, appearing to be weighed down by the long white eyelashes. “What was your favorite book as a kid?”


Moving On

The crisp fall air ebbs with the emerging early winter’s night, whipping my hair into my face. It is too cold to meander lost in thought, but too comfortable to be set on edge. The familiar streets twist and turn while the sidewalk cracks etch their places under the moonlight. Hands in my pockets, I fiddle with the once broken necklace. I trace my path with the motion­ sensor front porch lights and barking dogs from across the brick-paved streets.

She loved this walk. Sunday mornings, we dabbled in conversation. She beamed, with those golden curls framing that face – emerald eyes the hidden gems beneath. Her shoes clipped those cracks; she faltered and tripped. Calling herself clumsy, she would hit herself if she stumbled. If she didn’t catch herself, I tried my best to be the arms where she fell. Each time her face reddened: rosy cheeks and the embarrassed grimace. She glossed over that fluttering heart against my chest by enveloping me in a desperate hug. So many surprises emerged from her square, youthful features. I somehow forgot she stood two inches taller. Then again, in those days, I never stopped smiling like an idiot.

At the end of the road, a park hides among an old orchard once part of a larger estate. I approach it as my thoughts flash pleasant autumn days against my will. Under that tall one. They pull me, pointing. The one with the spread branches and the old board nailed to the trunk. My imagination carefully fills in the apple load that weighed down the branches. The scene bleeds memories. The apples from that tree tasted best. She stole apples. I stole a kiss.

I roll the memory around on my tongue. Her eyelashes caressed against my cheekbones. The sound of her soft breath and the rapid beating of her heart against my own as they synchronized: everything I wanted, presented to me with a button nose.

She smiled with such serenity. I boosted her into the tree. Her necklace, the little gold filigree cross pendant on a delicate chain, snagged on a branch, breaking the clasp. In a surprise, she slipped, and I caught her. Through her tears, I held her promising to retrieve and repair it.

Under that tree, in the darkness, I pull the necklace out of my pocket, tracing my fingers along the charm’s sides. Looking up to the branch, I see the stars on the other side of the barren branches.

The pendant was a gift from her parents. While repairing the necklace, I stared. I longed to meet them every time she chose never to invite me to join her at a family dinner or event. I sought out pictures to prove to myself that they looked like her. I fantasized about which bits of her personality she inherited from whom. I wondered if they ever knew my name.

I lost my taste for apples. She disappeared. She never really loved you. Answering machine messages blinked in and out of existence without response. Notes I left under her door sat in my mind, their words echoing my insecurities from inside their sealed envelopes. Why did you ever think you were deserving of love? Why did you think you’d be more than someone’s phase or experiment? Removing the repaired necklace from my pocket, I kiss the pendant one last time. I loop it on a tree branch and turn to leave – following the brick road to a home of boxes and goodbyes. In my periphery – my mind playing tricks – I glimpse her walking our path alone.


Thank you so much for taking the time to read this hundredth post. If it speaks to you, please let me know by liking, commenting, or sharing. This helps me know which posts my readers like best.

Publication Announcement: Waking Up – Part 5

Deidre faces her mother in Waking Up – Part 5.

To read parts 1-4, visit my author page here.

**Content Warning:** This story contains depictions of and allusions to the abuse of vulnerable populations, such as those with disabilities, LGBTQA+, and children of abusive parents, and may contain content that some may find disturbing. Reader discretion is advised.

Remember where your happy place is!

The Bamboo Forest – A Poem

The Bamboo Forest

We walk through the side yard
Cut along the back fence ravine
Avoid the property line
Wherever my sister goes
I follow
She knows how to play the way I do
Unlike other kids
(I keep making mistakes)
We explore the dense poles
Green stalks transporting us
Foreign Land
My sister teaches me friendship
My sister teaches me
That someone understands
She shows me her treasures:
Newly discovered places
Secret grottos grown ups pass over
We are the wealthiest kingdom
I am a princess
But she is a Queen

The Poetry Of Jordan Pace

I’m excited to share and feature 4 poems by Jordan Pace. You may know him by his Twitter or his new book Perfectly Imperfect. I’ve had the pleasure of working with Jordan as a fellow author in the Writing Community and through Coffee House Writers. I love these poems, and found myself paying special attention to A Serpent’s Kiss as I broke down the complete experiences described. That said, I’m going to save my personal interpretation of each poem and what I took away from it until after. Without further ado, let’s begin.


Tasteless Coffee

We sat side by side
It felt as if we were miles apart.
Our cups dangled
With our feet;
We watched as waves crashed against walls.
We talked for hours,
Our words felt like whispers
Was he hiding something?
I couldn’t tell
The breeze so strong
The faint smell of salt air
Losing my reason to care
I leaned forward, my full intention to fall
He caught me, his cup staring with an inviting glare
I arrived at it,
A feeling of curiosity washing over me
Why does his coffee have no flavor?
I look back again
I wonder
When did this space get so empty?
Who was I talking to all this time?


The waterside imagery steals me away and I, too, am sitting on that retaining wall, feeling detached from the person I am with – wondering if I knew them this whole time. The metaphor of time and conversation to waves eroding the relationship and details of the scene overtime hits me in a soft underbelly place I haven’t thought about in a while.


A Serpent’s Kiss

Lonely,
I am fine,
quiet inside.
a war rages on the other side.
there are cracks in my armor,
No perfect men wear armor.
You,
My imperfection,
a variable I cannot account for.
Your slithering, salty, sinking words burrow into me,
like a bullet lodged in a dead man’s chest
A bullet Cannot be pulled out without care.
I keep it there.
Holding fast to what remains of you,
unaware of its effects.
I see you in places you did not exist, a bad dream fades into reality.
As I lay on the bed,
there is nothing left to say.
I knew the risk and how it would end.
You watch over me, a serpent’s gaze.
Has the poison taken effect?


The narrator first begins with a self assessment – he is an imperfect man: a perfect man would need no armor. Worse yet, his armor has cracks that left him vulnerable to abuse in this mind trick of self blame.

As the narrator continues to describe this ex-abuser as a venomous snake, it becomes obvious how appropriate the comparison is. Some relationships are toxic like venom, leaving lasting wounds in the form of trauma. He holding it both intentionally and against his will.

But the narrator in the poem suffers the lasting effects of the relationship even if everything seems quiet on the surface. The lasting trauma is described as a “bullet lodged in a dead man’s chest” implying the depth of despair and destruction felt surrounding the trauma.

The last 3 lines may be the most impacting. “I knew the risk and how it would end.” The narrator describes the gut feeling paired with the inability to resist the relationship. It could be argued that with the comparison of the ex to a serpent, the narrator was hypnotized. “You watch over me, a serpent’s gaze.” The last line closes the poem with the hardest question of all – that of intent. “Has the poison taken effect?” Did the abuser intend this all along? Is this what they wanted?


Excuse me

Excuse me,
baby, I’m tired, your hips swing with energy to light my world for eons. Excuse my language,
But I think you’re a dime,
a definite “jack of all trades” when it comes to working
Excuse me for entering your life,
Then exiting, by mistake


Apologetically, there are short lived relationships that can feel bought or traded. The narrator then mentions leaving unintentionally, apologetically, even though there is nothing wrong with the other party. There are many layers of guilt here.


I WAS CREATED TO BE YOU

You cannot relate
to my pain-
molded by fires, created
through some ultimate desire.
A mold,
I was left to fill your desires
and when it did not work,
I was told to simply
“get over it.” My world
is torn asunder; my life
unraveled.

Years of work and effort made
to seem like less than
the step forward it truly was.

All because it didn’t work
for you? Was I never considered
in your equation? Was I even ever
a variable?

Lots of these things,
I will never, ever know,
but one thing’s for sure:
I may have to spend the rest
of my life defining myself.


To me, this poem screams of the struggles of the effects of a narcissistic relationship. I interpreted this as a parent-child relationship and what I call “bonsai children”. Bonsai children grow up with parents who carefully shape and mold every aspect of their lives so they are more like ornaments to benefit the parent more than individuals.


About Jordan Pace

Jordan Pace’s book Perfectly Imperfect is available for purchase here in paperback and on kindle. You can keep up with their writing on Coffee House Writers here. To keep most up to date, you can follow them on Twitter.

What did you think of these interpretations? Do you agree? Disagree? Did you find different meaning that I didn’t find? Let me know in the comments! Do you want to see more of these posts? Let me know by liking this post or commenting below.

As always, thank you for reading. Remember to keep supporting artists and authors during these crazy times.