By now dear readers, I hope you’ve seen my social media. Though I didn’t score one of the top three honors, I did manage to get published in a literary magazine! So exciting! This is the first time I’m seeing my work published anywhere other than my own site since I was in college! Hooray for me!
OK, so I entered this writing contest. The topic was rock bottom, and it couldn’t have come at a more appropriate time. I mean, everything in my life has changed, and even though we’re on the upswing, it was a pretty rough year.
All of us authors worked together in a special workshop the week prior to the deadline, critiquing and editing and proofing, etc. and now it’s over, congrats to the top three..,they actually got paid. (Not much, but chicken feed is chicken feed) to all the others like me, WE ARE PUBLISHED! Now that’s something to write home about.
To see it online at the literary magazine, access it through this link: http://www.wordhaus.com/rising-r/
Please enjoy my short story:
Rising from the Rubble
By Helene Furst
I lay awake each night, watching the darkness morph from deep navy blue to pale heather gray. How did it ever get to be this way? I never once imagined my life would be a constant, depressing descent. I had dreams, desires, and the world at my feet. Now the universe is dragging me by the heels into a vortex, spiraling out of control faster than I can keep up. My mind replays my life on an endless loop, like the old reel to reel projectors of my youth. Somehow, some unseen force has clipped the film and spliced in an alternate reality, and it’s going to kill me.
Raised by an overprotective but incredible woman, I believed I could conquer the world. She encouraged me to create, and I did. I drew the feelings we shared as two spirits, one adventurous and one more grounded. I penned our fears, or mine at least. She kept me warm, safe and loved, and I kept her company. My mother worked all year so I could have the best life had to offer. I rode horses for years, never wondering about the expense. I took art classes, piano lessons and wrote furiously in leather bound journals. I knew I was not in the same league as others in my private school, and I inhaled all the education and extracurricular activities as if I needed them to breathe. I understood that I was different. I was never included in their parties or vacations to ski resorts and Europe. But I was better off. I had a world open to me with my library card, camp and a road trip every summer.
My mother never let me know our situation. Proudly she planned events, went to work and scraped together a lifestyle I enjoyed. I was never jealous of those rich girls, and I never knew we were at poverty’s doorstep. Road trips meant silly songs sung off key, special times with mom, as I dragged her through kitschy monument. We ate lots of peanut butter sandwiches and drank thermoses of lukewarm water. It was the 1970’s and all seemed normal. We slept in small roadside motels with well lit parking lots, clean sheets and bathrooms. I didn’t want, because I had it all. But that all changed.
I moved on, got married and began the lie that will be my downfall. Insomnia forces me to relive it all, wondering where rock bottom really is, because it seems I am falling deeper every day. I wake and go through the motions of adoring mother and dutiful wife, while inside my mind there is futile screaming. I know where I am is toxic, and I need to move on, but I am frozen by fear. Fear of the unknown, fear of what I do know and fear of failure. I feel that I have failed myself. I was to be great, but I have made no indelible mark on the world.
I did not marry well. I should learn to listen to my gut more often. In this sad union, I walk on eggshells to please you. I am not Galatea to your Pygmalion, and that is the root of my sorrows. You charmed us all with your early successes and popularity. You fooled everyone, but I learned to live with your rage. The volcanic eruptions of anger misdirected, until you had nobody to blame but yourself. You have been reactive, never taking action on you own, and without living your dreams, you have reached your lowest point.
Your story began as a privileged first born. Your looks, your wealth and your brain helped you climb all the ladders of the world. But you misstepped. You did what was noble, what felt right. In helping your parents you harmed yourself. No longer the shining star, you took me and ran away. We struggled in a strange harmony until they followed us. Forcing us back into their world, we lost it all. Once you were the hero, and they cost you a marriage, a life of success and wealth. Once more they pleaded and now you have once again lost. They can’t see the truth, and you allow them and your feelings of inadequacy to destroy you, and us. We lost it all, the house, the shop, our trust and faith.
Rock bottom for you is here, but I will climb from the ashes. You live in fear, frozen by threats of financial attack, physical attack by a madman and you have given up. You tell me you’re damaged. You can’t see how you got here, how you dragged me along. I am working to rise above and soon depart. My children know angst and fear and hatred because you have shown them the horrors of your world. You feel you have reached your sad end, but I am just beginning to break free and finally live. My future no longer tied to yours, I lie in the darkness counting my strengths, my little victories. I watch the green digits turn every minute, planning my escape. I have seen the bottom of the pit and I am not ready to loosen my grip and fall. We are living on life savings and prayers. I envy your blind faith, but cannot trust it any longer.
Our current story reads like a bad B movie. Successful shop owner put out of business by national chain. Obsolete and over twenty, the job market swallows your resume like Jonah’s whale. You have lost faith in yourself. You underestimate your abilities, your worth and forget protocol. In helping those less fortunate, you anger a lunatic. Unbeknownst to us, he is a schizophrenic who has created a Stepford Wife. He threatens us and all we hold dear, but it is you he seeks. There is no connection or rationale, and we live in fear. Unable to focus, you are falling. I can’t save you anymore, but I will save myself.
See you guys around! My purple pen beckons.
Have a great weekend…
your almost famous blog writing author! ❤️❤️