Life Without Meaning

Jason trudged home alone, head low, hands in his pockets. No one wondered where he was or where he went.

He wished he was slender as the others. Perhaps then he could match their pace as they paced in line. He was the biggest and oldest of fifteen children, and his parents hosted hundreds of relatives, seldom noticing his absence.

It was yet another of those days, and they had found sweet merriment without him. He went into his room and shut the door. He hated his existence. He wished he had been born human; being an ant seemed meaningless.

What is—?

to write

If it’s not sitting

at the typewriter, bleeding,

what else is writing?

A Letter to Mom

Mom,

Don’t be alarmed if this letter isn’t as intact as it should be. They warned me that it would go through a standard screening process.

I hope you’re feeling better. Take your medication every day. Set an alarm if you have to, like I used to do for you. It may be a ringing pain in your ears but it’s worth it.

Dad wrote to me saying he’d come see me later this week, so don’t worry about visiting. I know you’re busy with work.

How’s Lisa? She hasn’t replied to my notes, so would you please tell her how sorry I am? I never meant to do what I did. I think about Taylor all the time and every time, guilt gropes at the inside of my heartstrings, and I can’t get rid of it. I’m sorry, mom, that you had to bear such an evil daughter.

I’m thankful that you don’t detest me altogether. That you read my letters at least. I wish I could take it all back — that night on the street. I wish I hadn’t taken Taylor for a midnight jog. He hated jogging, and I knew it.

I tried, mom. I tried understanding. I tried to accept that my little brother was better than I. You loved him more than you loved me, and that’s only natural. I know I should’ve understood. You were only watching out for him, and I had no reason to feel threatened.

But, mom, I did.

I loved him as a brother. I hated him because he came after me. You and dad cared about me before he was born. I remember the tap classes you took me to. I remember the cold coffee we’d get afterwards. Is that place still open?

But then Taylor came, and you stopped my tap classes. Dad told me I shoul focus on grades. But mom, I loved going to tap classes with you. I didn’t like math as much.

Yes, mom, I know grades matter, and that Taylor needed your attention more than I. And I don’t blame you. My brain knew it, but my heart remained ignorant. I just couldn’t understand why the attention went away from me.

I tried, mom.

I tried to clear my head of the madness that raked it. I loved Taylor. He was my brother, and I enjoyed helping you bathe him and dry him, and later, I liked helping him with his homework. Honest, I did.

But I hated that he came after me. And that night when the cars whizzed by us, I wasn’t thinking about anything. We stood there, laughing at a joke he had said — the one where the Ellipses sisters leave conversations hanging, remember that, mom? — and I punched him on the shoulder for making me laugh so hard.

I’m sorry, mom. I only meant to punch him, not to shove him onto the street. I didn’t notice the cars.

I’m sorry, mom. I know you can’t forgive me. I won’t forgive myself. But please, mom, don’t hate me too much.

Bess,
State Juvenile Prison.

The Master

musician

She left her spotlight,

for ‘twas time for young to shine.

She had conquered Time.

Majestic

atop

Basking on the glow,

and the splendour from atop,

sat the crow. A mute.


This is one of my oldest photographs. I stood on my terrace and happened to capture this crow trying to make up its mind whether to fly away or stay awhile. Perched on top of a pole, it looked as indecisive as I felt with my life.