Unfinished Stories – Give a Mouse a Cookie, by Dawn Locklear & Laurel Degutis

Dawn and Laurel created this fanciful entry.  Please enjoy and share!

Give a Mouse a Cookie

“Give a mouse a cookie…why would I do that?”  She asked the man in her dream.  “What the hell?” jarred awake and terrified as lightning struck the tree above her.  Cascading leaves and branches creating a soft cave over her.  ElizaMay sat stunned and shivered in the panic. 

After her thunderously wicked start, she began to calm because it was so quiet and there was such a sweetness in the air of cedar and vanilla.  Unfolding her knees from her chest, she felt the tingle that her arms had fallen asleep. She must have dozed off in that position and obviously stayed in her own clutch during the attack.  With hands dropped to the ground, she surveyed her encapsulated space.
It was cool and barely lit though the leaves.  Yet there was a dance and flutter of light that sparkled upon her in the tiny alcove.  As she started to relax, colours floated around her, small ones at first.  This made ElizaMay giggle.  Then ribbons of the rainbow spectrum swam in the area like the aurora borealis, and this tickled her into laughter.
Like magic, a tiny little man appeared and offered her a cookie.  Startled, she looked him up and down and took stock of just how dinky the cookie was in his hand.  Stunned and immoble, he offered it to her again.  So she took it and marveled as it grew in her hand.  When she looked back to him, he was gone, replaced with a very sweet poka-dotted mouse that stood at attention to her.
Bewildered and amazed, she indeed gave the mouse the cookie.  As the mouse nibbled, she noticed the eyes twinkled and this made her happy.  With this, ElizaMay was content.  She leaned against the tree, looked up in time to see a hole opening in the roof.  Standing up, she could look about and see that other than the broken huge branch, all was well.  With a tear of gratitude she bent back down, hoping to see the little man or mouse, only to find but a chunk of cookie.
ElizaMay cleared the roof away, stood admiring the incredibly massive tree before her.  It was always her favorite place to rest and now even more it would hold a most amazing splendor for her.
With her left over cookie in hand, she walked home.
The sun was warm in just the right ways, an occasional breeze lifting and carrying the heat if it ever dared to become uncomfortable. Though ElizaMay felt so comfortable, in fact, that she thought to herself about how one would never have guessed lightening had struck just moments earlier. As the cool breeze was about to lift that thought off her breath, ElizaMay turned around to look back upon tree. It’s leaves danced in the light, like flecks of sun bouncing off the sea, as if performing a ritual for their fallen brothers and sisters. ElizaMay smiled to herself, allowed the lightness of it all of fill her up and continued on the path home.
She felt so chipper that her arms swung a bit more freely with her steps and she rather absentmindedly ate the bit of cookie still poised between her fingers. With home in sight, and possibly the extra little kick the cookie provided, ElizaMay skipped the rest of the way to her backdoor.
The day carried on into the evening with a lingering kind of pleasantness, straight up until ElizaMay was tucked into her bed. She sleepily spoke of magic to her parents as they turned out the lights and left her door just barely ajar. She smiled and recalled the smell of cedar and vanilla.
ElizaMay was about to turn on her side when a tiny flicker in the doorway caught her eye. She sat up, but it must have been nothing. She moved to settle into bed once again and as she turned to rest her head—She gasped! It took a moment to catch her breath and focus. The polka-dotted mouse appeared on her pillow, at attention, just as before.
ElizaMay suddenly remembered her walk home—the cookie. What had she done with that cookie? Her stomach gave a small rumble as if responding to her question, and ElizaMay’s spirit sunk just a little. The mouse ran it’s paws over it’s head and ears then stretched them out toward ElizaMay, then back to its small snout. It did this a few times, gesturing for a snack it seemed.
There was only one thing to do. ElizaMay offered her hand out to the mouse; it stepped onto her fingers and found a comfortable grove in her palm to rest. The two slipped out of bed and made their way down to the kitchen. ElizaMay set her friend gently on the counter, she too then climbed up and rose to her feet reaching for the cabinet.
Even on her tiptoes, on the kitchen counter, the hidden box of cookies was still just out of reach. She was about to give up when the box started to inch forward on its own. ElizaMay grabbed hold of the box and realized with it came her polka-dotted companion, suddenly swept off his feet when he no longer had to push. She giggled, then caught her herself, before she made too much noise.
The box now torn open revealed what they had come for. ElizaMay reached in and pinched a cookie between her finger tips. She pulled it out and offered it to the mouse, but in a blink the tiny man had appeared! He swiped the cookie which immediately shrunk to a laughably dinky size and darted a judging glance at ElizaMay.
“What are you thinking?” he squeaked in a voice as dinky as the cookie. “Give a mouse a cookie…” he trailed off shaking his head then—POP! The tiny man vanished followed by—POP! The mouse was gone to with a shake of its fist. ElizaMay couldn’t help it: she laughed.
She laughed all the way back up to bed, and through her dreams. She may have even woken the next morning still laughing.
Dawn Locklear
Laurel Degutis – http://www.oscarordinary.com
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Unfinished Stories – Daughter/Mother, by Laurel Degutis & Jeffery Crow

Laurel started it.  I finished it.  We both hope you enjoy.

Daughter/Mother

Mom was home. She knew not so much because of the sound of the door opening, like a vacuum seal peeled back from the edges of a prepackaged snack. And not so much because of the sound of keys jangling and clacking against too many tacky keychains. And not even so much because of the dart of light let in to the dark and cool apartment. She knew because she suddenly felt tired. She knew because Mom’s exhaustion hung and clung to all the crevices she passed, and the nature of an apartment two sizes too small meant that there were a thousand million crevices for exhaustion to crawl into and breed, and then for a girl to fall into like a field of Poppies.

She didn’t know it at the time, but all this made her sad, and so she didn’t look up or turn toward the door.  She continued to watch DuckTails with her legs stretched out, straight ahead, under the coffee table and her back posted up against the seat of the couch. She always preferred the floor. Mom left her things, including the clacking mess of keys, by the door in a clay dish the girl had made and painted at school. Mom came and sat on the couch behind the girl, a leg on either side of her shoulders, and touched her fine blonde hair.

“This is my favorite one. With the druids,” Mom whispered sweetly to the girl, “but it’s scary, don’t you think?”

The girl shrugged, pretending to be in rapture with the program, though she’d seen this one a thousand million times. It was a tape after all, and if she was honest, her favorite thing about the tapes was putting them in and out of the tape player they had.

“I brought you some chicken fingers from work,” Mom continued as she pulled her fingers through the blonde tangles, gently undoing the thousand million knots the girl had worked in on the windy playground.

Finally something peaked her interest. She turned toward Mom, ready to receive dinner, to participate in the necessary exchange of words in order to earn her feast. She looked into Mom’s face, hopeful.

“Can I have milk with them?” the girl managed to squeak, her voice breaking with an homage to the prior hour she spent in silence.

She watched her mother look towards the dark kitchen.  “Of course you can.  Why don’t you go get plates and forks and we can have a little picnic right here in the living room.”

The girl dragged herself out from under the coffee table and walked into the kitchen, her mother still sitting on the sofa.

– – –

Her daughter was home.  She could tell, not because of the lights turned off, or the sound of DuckTails through the thin door.  Really, it was the sense of relief she felt when she walked through the door.  She could breathe easy, knowing that her only daughter was safe, and that she had made it home safe to her.

The dim apartment had the smell of a small space closed up for too long.  She resisted the urge to open a window, hoping to keep the outside world separate for a few minutes more.  She placed her keys in the clay dish that was the product of a kindergarten project, presented proudly to her by her daughter.  The keys made a reassuring clacking, the handful of keys against a collection of key-rings, each a reminder of happier times and trips.

She walked into the living room, her daughter in her usual spot on the floor, legs stretched under the coffee table, back against the couch.  DuckTails played on the TV, an old VHS.  She secretly knew that her daughter really just enjoyed putting the tapes into the old player, but that was ok. DuckTails was one of her favorites anyways.

“This is my favorite one.  With the druids, but it’s a little scary isn’t it?” she asked, hoping that perhaps she wasn’t growing up as quickly as it seemed like.  The girl shrugged, seemingly taken by the animated characters on the screen.

Working through the tangles in the girl’s blonde hair, she said, “I brought you some chicken fingers from work.”  The girl turned quickly, at last that smiling face.
“Can I have milk with them?”

The mother looked at the kitchen, thinking about the last real meal she had eaten.  Of the last time she had been able to go to the store.  “Of course you can.”  She felt the day catching up to her.  “Why don’t you go get plates and forks and we can have a little picnic right here in the living room,” she said, hoping the excitement she tried to inject into her voice would cover her desperation.
As her daughter got up and bounced into the kitchen, she felt her throat closing with emotion.  Once she knew her daughter had walked into the kitchen, she allowed the tears to fall.

Laurel Degutis’ blog – http://www.oscarordinary.com/
Jeffery Crow’s blog –  http://www.swordnquill.com

Unfinished Stories – The Headache, by Laurel Degutis & Dawn Locklear

Editor’s Note – I wouldn’t normally do this, but I felt it would only be right to warn: there is some adult language ahead.  Excellent, expertly crafted, adult language.  Proceed accordingly.  No bitching, you’ve been warned.

The Headache

The florescent light clashes with the sun streaming through small and high windows over the office kitchenette. That’s about the most interesting thing in the place, the rest is sort of painfully typical–disappointing. It’s a tight space. Secondhand appliances crowded the counter, and passive-agressive, coffee-stained notes about cleaning up after oneself are Scotch Taped about. We’re all hiding. Well, I’m not. I’m rifling through the first-aid kit that hangs from the wall opposite the microwave, searching, but it’s growing more futile.  Dan and Jen are hiding. Dan’s gaze is buried in his phone, but he still manages to match Jen’s fervency and disdain. They’re whispering loudly. Too loudly, but I don’t care enough anymore to suggest they keep it down.
Jen’s tote is slung over her shoulder, it looks uncomfortable, but she also doesn’t care. Her voice seems strained; she’s whispering so goddamn loud, “The upside to this is that she’s such a cunt she’s convinced me to go out to lunch. Either of you want to come?” Jen punctuates her request with a quick, tight-lipped smile.
I’m giving up on the triage through the first-aid kit, tossing pill packets aside when I blurt out, “This is all fucking expired. Do either of you have any aspirin?”
“Yeah,” Jen starts as she relaxes her shoulder to let her tote slide down. She’s digging through the special kind of abyss that is a woman’s bag, “I think I have some Midol in here.”
I must look some kind of way because Dan has actually allowed his attention to stray from his Galaxy and is eyeing me with concern. Or pity. Jesus, I think Dan pities me right now. God, he’s opening his mouth. I’m dreading this. “Are you OK?” That’s all he says and I’m kind of relieved. His attention quickly strays, which usually annoys me, but this time I’m grateful he doesn’t bother to wait for an answer. Aiming his question at Jen, Dan asks somewhere between a plea and a whine, “If I go, will you drink with me? To spite Cunty McCunterson.”
I shoot a hard glance at Dan, “You can’t say that.” He can’t say that. I don’t care how much of a cunt this woman’s being, he can’t say that.
“What? It’s true. You hate her too.” Dan doesn’t get it. Dan never fucking gets it.
“You can’t say ‘cunt’.” I try to simplify things.
“That’s bullshit. Jen just said it.”
Jen finally shakes out a few pills into my hand and I crane my neck under the faucet of the kitchen sink and turn the water on. The sink itself is tiny, like a water fountain and my hair touches the bottom on the basin. It grosses me out. I take a swig, get my head out of there and throw the pills back to wash them down with the water. As I’m wiping my mouth I reiterate to Dan that it doesn’t matter, he can’t say that.
“Yes, Dan I’ll surely be drinking.” Jen is trying to cut our tension and she turns toward me rather impatiently, “Are you coming?”
Dan shoves his phone in his pocket and they’re both squared up facing me, poised to get the hell out of this fucking kitchenette. But something doesn’t feel right. Maybe I’m just lightheaded from whipping my head out from under the faucet. I can’t tell, but something’s a little off.
Of course it’s all off, my head feels like it’s going to break off.   “You two go on, I need to sit down.”
They both roll their eyes at me and spin on their heels in unison to leave.  As my eyes close, I jump at the slamming door.  They are both the worst fucks, I gotta leave this place.   Eyes close again to still the headache.
What fucking dumb shits…BOOM, CRASH.
Horns blaring and cars collide jar me up and on my feet to the window.  All I can see looking down at the street is Jen’s stupid pink coat.  Oh geeze, they look dead.  Are they dead?  Sirens blare and my head is suddenly clear.  Do I go down there, do I stay?  Do I hide like them?
I hurry down the several flights of stairs and the first thing I see is blood draining from under cars and that awful pink coat.  Police are just at the scene to take charge and back people up.
I just stand there, staring.  I’m not hiding now.  As a matter of fact, I start to wonder how I can change the apartment around.  How getting rid of all their disgusting shit will be so good, even freeing.  Is that evil for me to think?  Especially now?
Damn it.  It is.  But I really hate them and I didn’t cause their demise.  Or did I?  Constantly fed up with them and pissed off…did I save myself from this crash on purpose?  Did my head really hurt that bad to stop me from going or was that feeling of something wrong making my head feel like it was going to fall off?
Panic sets in as I stumble up the stairs and my body starts to shake while bolting the door.
I barely make it to the window to look down again, WHAT THE FUCK?
They’re gone.  No blood, no bodies, no police, no commotion.   SHIT-FUCK…
Laurel Degutis’ blog – http://www.oscarordinary.com/
Dawn Locklear –

Vacation-gram: “What’ll You Have?”

Hello All!  I am still on vacation this week.  I am now sitting on the beach, enjoying an iced coffee and some sun.  Or sitting in my room playing Cities: Skyline, which is much more likely.  Anyways, I wanted to make sure you still had something to keep you busy.  This was written for a Writer’s Challenge; the prompt was “What’ll you have?” I felt I took it in a different direction.  Hope you enjoy!

“What’ll you have?”

To most people, it would seem like such an easy question, but I wasn’t most people.

I was born 86 years ago yesterday. I had started a shop in my hometown when I was 19, and turned it into a multinational business. I had married my high school sweetheart and raised four children, a boy and three girls. I was now the proud Grandfather of 8 grandchildren. I gave to the arts and tried to do right by my employees, friends and fellow humans.

And now I was facing death. Literally.

I stared into his kind eyes; they were green, with specs of gold. A faint smile creased his genteel face.

“You’re really not at all what I expected.”

“I appear as what you’ve lived. You’ve lived a good life and have little to fear, so I appear to you as this. To those that cause evil in this world, I appear…” He considered his words. ”…differently.” The smile came back.

He adjusted his cufflinks, and leaned back in his chair. The leg he had crossed lazily over his other bounced nonchalantly in the air. He fixed his unblinking stare on me again. ”So, sir. What’ll you have?”

“What are my options?”

He grinned. ”Spoken like a true business man; wants to know what it he can choose from. You and I will chat here for a while, and then we will leave together, and at 6:15 this evening, your secretary will walk in and find you in that chair. Dead.”

The last word was like a door slam. Not scary, but final.

“What will we chat about?”

“Whatever you like. Any secrets you’d like to know? Any tales you’d like to hear? Any point in time you want to hear about?”

“Who really shot JFK?”

“Lee Harvey Oswald, but he was just a pawn.”

“Jimmy Hoffa?”

“Amazingly, he fell off a bridge and drowned. Mob wasn’t involved at all.”

“Was my father afraid when he died?”

This question gave him pause. He frowned and looked at the ground. I saw him considering, then he took a deep breath, and looked up at me, tears in his eyes. ”He was worried about his family. Worried that you would think ill of him.”

I stood up and walked to the sideboard, pulling out a glass and ice with the bottle of scotch. Looking in the mirror, I raised my eyebrows in an unspoken question. He nodded affirmative, and I mixed two glasses. I walked back to my desk, handed the glass across to the figure, and sat down. I took a sip of the woody liquid and held it on my tongue.

Taking a deep breath, I swallowed. I looked at him. ”Can I write a letter?”

He smiled gently. ”No. It would look like suicide.”

I nodded. ”Can I make a phone call? I promise not to say anything.”

“There’s nothing you could say in that phone call that hasn’t already been said. She knows you love her, and you know she loves you. If you haven’t lived your life like that was the last day, a phone call now won’t change anything.”

“What comes after?”

He laughed, “Adventure, sir. The next part is an adventure.”

I looked at my wall clock. 5:13.

“Almost ready to go. Just need to do one thing…” I pulled out my phone, and wrote a quick text message. ”Okay, let’s go for a walk.”

We both stood. I looked around my office, at the assorted awards and memos, at the plaques and declarations. Then at the photographs of my family and friends. I smiled. ”It’s been a great adventure already.”

Her phone buzzed at 5:14 with a text message from her husband. She smiled as she read the words. 67 years of marriage and he could still make her smile. She got up to start dinner so it would be ready when he got home in 45 minutes. She looked at the message one more time before she set her phone down.

“Can’t wait to see you. I love you more than life itself.”

Vacation-gram: Airport Adventures

Hello All!  I am on vacation this week.  And while I am off having fun, or sitting under a fan watching The Avengers (don’t judge), I wanted to make sure you had some enjoyable things to read.  So, here is something I wrote after a trip to Seattle.  Enjoy!

At lunch I somehow struck up a conversation with this woman. She started talking to me about this cruise she just went on to Australia and New Zealand. Then she casually mentioned that she had a space ship.

Cue Comedy Record Scratch.

That’s right kids, an actual, honest to God Flying Saucer.

I’m going to let this sink in for a second. She is waiting for a plane at Seattle/Tacoma International but she has a Space Ship. Does she have proof you ask? Of course! Video, in fact. She shows me a video of two people on the deck of a ship. Then the camera pans to the sun, lens flare ensues and she makes sure to point out that her ship is the pink blob on the left. In the lens flare. Wait, did I say in? I meant THE lens flare. That’s her ship. Oh, and see this ray? They’re going into the ship. And now they’re coming back, in free fall. And now they’re back on the deck. In the same place they were. Like they never left.

But don’t worry folks, she’s going to tell NASA all about it. And show them the evidence.

Thank God she’s not on my…wait, why is she waiting at my gate?

I’m drunk

I start with that because I think we should be honest with each other. I fly better when I’m a little tweaked. It’s not that I’m a nervous flyer, it’s just that flying makes me nervous. It’s a sense of impending doom when I board. And to be honest, why shouldn’t I feel that?! Not to mention, theres a crazy woman on board with me. It’s voodoo magic that keeps us in the air anyway.

So I’m drunk. Ive already had 2 beers before I boarded, and I just sucked down a double Jack and Coke. I think the people next to me are talking about me…

That’s not really what this post is about, though. Really what it’s about is this; I lie when I travel alone. Here’s the conversation I just had:

“Are you from California?”

“No, I live in Seattle. I’m a writer and headed down to LA to meet with my editor.”

“Oh! That’s exciting! Is this your first book?

“Yes. It’s been a long road but totally worth it.”

I know what you’re all thinking, but stop judging. It’s fun and harmless. They were excited! They believed they had met a real author! And now they’re waiting for my novel. By the way, I’m debating who to sell the movie rights to; the Weinstein Brothers really have a great vision for the story, but Spielberg is the bigger name.

I know. It’s awful. I feel guilty, but it’s a little fun too.

This trip was an adventure. I saw some of the most beautiful country I could ever imagine. I got to meet my niece, who I love more than I thought was possible for something that does nothing but eat, poop and sleep. I went to Seattle, which has somehow hoisted itself to the top of my favorite cities list. And I’ve flown alone, which is a first. I’ve also done battle with mental illness (not my own, shut up), and have managed to prove to myself I can write and take pictures with some ability. All in all, I would call this one of my favorite trips I have ever been on. And I can’t wait to do it again.

Wonder what I will be next time…

Well, this whole writing thing has not gone well for me since I got back. I keep trying to find time, but then exhaustion or NyQuil takes over and I’m asleep with my phone in my hand. FYI, I seem to have picked up some sort of plague from the airplane. Or maybe from a Lens Flare Spaceship. Anyways, I didn’t want anyone to think I was just taking NyQuil recreationally. I don’t do that anymore…I mean, crap.

#UnfinishedStories

Hello Everyone.
So often we have stories that we leave unfinished; whether we lose interest, or run out of time, or the story just doesn’t go anywhere else for us.  These stories just sit, languishing in our subconscious or our hard drives (which sometimes are the same thing).  What if we could finish each other’s stories?
It was this question that inspired a little project; a little writing challenge.  And I have invited a couple of friends to join in.
On week one, we will write a Part 1, a beginning.  Then we will switch, and for the next week, we will finish each other’s stories with our own Part 2.  This will carry on for eight weeks, giving each of us 4 complete stories, each with 2 authors.
I will include links to everyone’s blogs, and I want to ask and encourage everyone to visit.  I have some incredibly talented friends.
Thank you, and I can’t wait to share this with all of you!

For the Love of Language

My son is starting to talk.

This is no surprise, as this is generally something humans do as they grow up.  It is a normal part of speech.  But, as a lover of language, this provides an interesting look into the process of learning a language.  I haven’t spent a ton of time around children, prior to having my own, and so I was mostly unaware of the various stages that children go through as they learn to communicate.  So it is amazing to see him learn his name, and point to his eyes.  To see him name things and decide on his own name for things.  But as he goes through this process, so do my wife and I.

Children don’t always use items proper name, and so we almost, most of the time, usually, are able to translate what he wants; avo, or cado, means avocado; peebee is peanut butter; beebee is belly button or baby.  These are the easy ones, almost anyone could figure these out.  But then we get into the next level; our dog’s name becomes Mimo, for Milo; Toodles for Mickey Mouse Clubhouse (it’s a character in the show), and the eternal PaBa versus Papa debate.  Then there is the downright hilarious.  He was toddling around one day saying, “beesch.”  I was confused, and a little concerned that my son was using words that were perhaps too far above his grade-level.  Turns out he wanted his beads.  Sometimes the mind hears things strangely.  He also has trouble with L’s; so “clock” comes out in a disturbing way; that one was figured out because he also said, “tic toc,” after the mildly offending word.  Context, folks, it matters.

What I’ve decided is that instead of spending all this money on cyphers and codes, the military should just pay some families; one feeds the story to the toddler, record what the kid says, send it to the other and let them translate.  The parents are the only ones who will be able to figure out what the kid is saying, and anyone intercepting the recording will be bored to tears trying to watch it.  It’s secure and unbreakable!

Which brings up one of the biggest things that has worried me about raising a child: how do I pass on my love of language?  We read a story every night, and it fills my heart with happiness when he brings me a book, even in the middle of the day.  I have made an effort to speak to him throughout the day, not just his level, but just out loud.  I watch shows in different languages so that he can learn the lyrical qualities of other cultures.  As he grows up, I want to continue to encourage a passion in reading, in music and theatre and art.  I want him to know about the classics of Shakespeare and Keats.  To find the joy in the sparse language of Hemingway, or the perverse humor of Steven King.  I want him to grow up with a love of language like I have.

Which, really, is the crux of it.  I recognize the power of language.  I recognize that language is a powerful tool.  In fact, it is the only tool that matters; if we are not able to communicate to each other, how could we grow together as a society.  Good storytelling is based on language.  Good theatre, or poetry, or music, is based on language.  Good public policy is based on language.  Good relationships are based on language.

Language is a powerful thing; it allows us to get our thoughts into someone else’s brain, to reach across cultures and time, to influence, and be influenced.  It conveys emotion and thoughts, truth and lies.  We name the unnamable, and conquer the universe, while sitting in our armchairs.  People forget how powerful language can be; we speak of Doctor King, but it is his words we remember.  We know of Hemingway, but it is his stories we retell.  Language gives us the ability to share our lives with others, and maybe we should all be better at listening.

How has mental illness affected me personally?

Last month was Mental Health Awareness Month.  And I missed it by a day.  Anyways, one of my favorite bloggers, The Bloggess, posted these questions, and I wanted to share my answers to them with you.  To read my past post on my fight with Depression, please see #IWishMyFriendsKnew.

HOW HAS MENTAL ILLNESS AFFECTED YOU PERSONALLY?  WHAT DID YOU LEARN FROM IT THAT MIGHT HELP OTHERS?

How has mental illness affected me personally: Some days it has made it hard to get out of bed.  Some days it has made it hard to go out of the house, or into my car.  Some days, it has been hard to not drive my car into a tree.  It has affected me in the most personal ways possible.  I’ve been hurting too bad to be a good son or husband or father or friend.  I’ve been hurting too bad to write or work or exist.  Some days, I am just too tired, too worn out, or too exposed.  Some days, I’m just angry or frightened to say hello, let alone do anything more than that.

But that’s my own battle with it, but I have friends and family whose battle with mental illness has affected me.  I have been scared of them.  Scared for them.  I have worried that I won’t be able to help.  I have felt held against my will by their battle; like a casualty in a battle I didn’t know was being fought.  I have been witness to addiction, to depression, to bi-polar and manic depression.  I have talked to friends in the middle of the night, and watched the downward spiral of a great guy because of alcohol.

Mental illness is intensely personal.

What did I learn from it that might help others:  I have learned to be patient.  To be willing to just be there.  To just be.  I have learned that sometimes it is ok to just sit in the sunshine and enjoy a gentle breeze.  That you should tell someone, not because they will try to make you better, but because sometimes, saying it breaks the chains.  If someone tells you that they’re fighting an inner demon, ask them what they need, tell them you are here for them, and that you love them.  Offer to let them hold your dog.  Go for a walk.  Drink some water, you’re probably dehydrated anyways.  Eat a chocolate chip cookie, stat.  Read a good book…but probably not Hemingway.  Watch Top Gear or Faulty Towers or Doctor Who.  Do not listen to songs from your childhood, unless it is a theme by John Williams.  Most of all, understand that it is ok to feel this way.  It’s not ok to stop fighting.  To stop believing that life will get better.  That you are past help.  You are worth fighting for.

Depression Lies.