Monday, August 17, 2009


Note: on June 11, I began an experiment. I wondered what it would be like to try to write a short story using my status updates on Facebook. I wrote the first entry that day with a vague idea of what I wanted the story to happen. What follows is the end result of this experiment, presented in the way it was posted, each entry separate from the next. I finished the story with a mad dash of updates on August 16. Also, this is how it actually appeared. No editing has been done. Hope you enjoy.

Once upon a time... (no, wait, this isn't a fairy tale)... In a galaxy far, far away... (what? not scifi either. just start it already)... as the early morning rays of sunshine began to peak over the edge of the horizon, craig lay blissfully asleep, dreaming of a better world, a world in which he and holly had the true dream -- careers, kids, cars and a nice house in the suburbs. beside him, holly dreamed of nothing.

holly's lack of dreams was unusual. she, too, often dreamed of having a good life, sharing time with craig minus any worries. however, on this morning her dreaming had ceased. while it was apparent to no one at the moment, the sunlight creeping above the horizon would soon make its way through the slits of the window blinds and shine down upon the bed. the rays would illuminate the small bedroom and its contents.

and the morning's shine on the world would betray the night's events. the alarm sounded, the usual 6:15 a.m. wakeup call to signal the beginning of the couple's day. craig, as always, barely stirred, still deep in the world he created for himself each night. holly, who normally was quick to slam the snooze button and try to steal a couple extra minutes of slumber, lay silent.

only when the incessant buzzing of the alarm blasted its way into craig's brain did the day truly begin to divulge its news. craig, bleary eyed and trying to focus through his near-sighted haze, leaned over to reach for the clock, not registering that holly remained motionless. as he reached over holly with his right hand, he braced himself with his left. And he was surprised to feel his hand sink into liquid warmth.

"what the hell?" craig said as he began to nudge holly awake. "holly, what's on the bed?" she didn't stir. and the alarm continued its annoying buzz. craig reached for his glasses, and as he put them on, he held up his hand and saw, thanks to the shine of sunlight coming through the blinds, blood. he jumped from the bed, blood dripping down his arm. he saw the bed covered in it, and holly's clothes soaked in it.

just like that, the dream turned into a nightmare. for craig, the next few hours were just a blur. from screaming at the top of his lungs while cradling holly's body (the shell of her former self), to being questioned by police to being interrogated by police to being released back out into the cruel world on the promise that he would't leave town. Thirty-seven hours after waking from his perfect dream he returned.

he returned to an apartment with more questions than answers. an apartment he would never be able to live in again. an apartment that once signified a future of possibilities, but now signified great loss and tragedy. the bed was still covered in holly's blood. the blinds let in the light of a new day, shining down on the bed-side table and the blood-stained photo they had taken earlier that summer at the museum

craig wondered why the police hadn't taken the photo since they had taken nearly everything else. and still a crime scene in which he was told to touch nothing. his job... notice if anything had been stolen, moved or added? "wait," craig thought. "that photo used to be on the living room coffee table. why is it on the night stand?" of course, he had no immediate answer, nor any idea how he would live without holly.

leaving the apartment for what he thought could be the last time hurt craig more than he imagined. carrying two suitcases of clothes, and a box of photos. the blood-stained museum pic had to stay. police detective said it was evidence now. "i shouldn't have told them about it," craig thought. "of course, there are a lot of things i shouldn't have done, a lot of things i should have done."

it wasn't one of those classic boy-meets-girl-boy-loses-girl-boy-gets-girl-back-and-they-live-happily-ever-after stories. craig and mike had gone out for drinks after a trying week of long meetings and longer days, a couple of guys wasting a friday night. but it turned bad when craig spilled his drink... on holly. though the incident became fuzzy, craig was certain it was an accident. even mike would back up that up.

however, holly, who was about a bottle and a half into the evening, did not. before craig could even begin to say, "i'm sorry," she turned and landed a right hook squarely on craig's jaw. mike was stunned, but no more so than craig, who actually was only stunned for a second. before he could hit the floor, the lights were out. mike would later tell him, that holly even kicked him some before traci could get her out.

and despite the pain she caused him on that initial meeting, it was still a fond memory for craig. thinking of that night while surrounded by the bloody mess of a bed and the tangled sheets in which he last held holly's body, was nearly more than he could stand. so he simply left the home he and holly had shared for three years, the home where they had hoped to start a family, the home where they started a life.

the home where that life ended. the gloom of the day promised rain, but craig walked the sidewalks with no regard to the impending weather. he found it difficult to walk with a box under one arm, a suitcase in the other hand and tears blurring his eyes. he always thought of himself as a strong individual, capable of handling just about any crisis. he was like his dad that way.

but his dad's toughness was not shining through then. if his dad had been there, he would have told him to stand tall and quit the damn crying. "what's done is done," he would have told craig. yet, after that, he would have hugged craig for as long as he needed to. he would have calmed him and told him then that it was horrible and would be a pain in the ass to overcome. he would hold him and guide him through.

but his dad wasn't there. on that lonely curb, outside the apartment that once was home, only he stood. the box of memories under his arm would mean very little in the coming days. there, wondering where to walk, where to go, he realized he was not like his dad after all, not even close to being as tough. certainly not tough enough for this situation. so, instead of choosing a path, craig sat down and cried.

"it's going to be okay," holly said to craig then as she wrapped her arm around him, joining him on the curb. she leaned into him and hugged him tight. he cried harder. "it's not going to be okay," he said. "someone killed you and i have no idea why." he looked over into holly's tear-streaked face and gazed into her eyes. as they sat there crying and staring at one another, he leaned in to kiss her. but she was gone.

"come on, craig. let's go." craig looked up to see mike reaching for his suitcase. "you can't sit out here forever." craig didn't move. i can sit here forever, he thought. why the hell not? i've got nothing else to do, actually, nothing else to live for. so why do i have to do anything. "dude, really, let's go. you'll stay with us until you get back on your feet." craig saw traci get out of their suv. she was wearing

the awkward smile of a friend who had no idea what to say in this situation. and it certainly made craig feel no better. as a matter of fact, it made him feel worse. she feels sorry for me, craig thought. i'm so pathetic. "come on," mike said. he reached down to grab under craig's arm to help him up. traci walked up to him then, wrapped her arms around his neck and said, "i miss her, too." and they cried together.

the ride home was quiet. craig simply sat in the back seat clutching the box of photos. traci looked back at him and wanted to say something but couldn't. she'd turn back around and them moments later do it again. at this point craig was inconsolable. mike would check him out via the rearview mirror, but he had no words either. craig was nearly catatonic and fell asleep instantly once hitting the guest bed.

"what are we going to do?" traci whispered. "don't you think this is going to get out of hand?" mike sat at the kitchen table looking through the box of craig's things. he didn't look up. he didn't answer. "mike?" "what? quit worrying. we're going to do nothing other than help craig get through this. he deserves that much." traci leaned against the counter and crossed her arms. "i'm just not comfortable with this."

"traci, this isn't about comfort. it's about doing what needs to be done." mike stood and walked to traci. he placed his hands on her shoulders. when she looked away, he grabbed her chin and made her face him again. "this isn't a whim or a game. we thought this through and now there is no turning back," mike said. "but..." "but nothing, traci. please don't do this now. we are almost there. can't you see it?"

"i see trouble," traci said through tears. "what are we doing? this isn't right and you know it." traci cried harder when mike squeezed her face. "now, you listen to me," he said. "you wanted this as much as i did. as much as we all did. and now you have to live with it." mike released his grip and sat back down at the table. "i know you love craig, and i do, too, traci. but we're doing this for holly."

"holly?" craig was tossing and turning in the guest bed. "holly?" he could see her running away, her gown red from blood. but running away. "holly, come back. why are you running?" she looked back to him, tears running down her cheeks. she was reaching ahead of her, not back. why is she running from me? craig thought. "holly? holly! holly..." a hand grabbed his shoulder. "hey, it's okay," mike said. "it's okay."

"it doesn't mean anything," mike said. the three were sitting at the kitchen table again, craig having cracked open some bourbon in an effort to calm his nerves. it was a bottle holly had given him. of course it was. everything seemed tied to holly. but he couldn't grasp the meaning of the dream. "i just don't understand why she would be walking away," craig said. "she always, always came to me for help."

traci was drinking wine, trying not to look directly at craig. she didn't know what to say, because she knew too much and naturally didn't want to say the wrong thing. it had gotten this far, and they needed to carry it out to the end. she sat her wine glass down and picked up a small toy purple unicorn. it gave her something to do with her hands and focused her attention. it was better if she didn't talk at all.

but her nervous demeanor and apprehension was lost on craig. everything was lost on craig. he felt nothing, heard nothing, saw nothing. nothing but the pain that filled his soul overflowing. no words from mike would help, either. how does anyone get past this? craig didn't know and was worried he'd never know. he went back to bed. for days. he missed the funeral. he missed meals. he missed summer turn into fall.

lying in bed, not knowing anything about the world around him anymore, craig gazed out the window into the overcast autumn day. the trees were losing their leaves. the kids giggled as they walked to school. the smell of winter approaching was in the air. considering the events of the past few months, any normal person might have been more worried about craig. mike and traci did what they could, but they also allowed

him to wallow in him misery. sometimes craig would out of the blue begin to tell stories of his time with holly. his favorite thing to mention was her beautiful blue eyes. he talked about how those wondrous eyes pulled him into her soul. and every time he mentioned this, he cried. he wasn't getting better. he was getting worse. "how long do you think this will last?" traci asked mike. "i'm not sure i can bear to see

him like this any more." "it's almost over," mike said. "traci, just hang in there." "but what if we end up having to do what we hoped we wouldn't?" traci began to cry. "don't think that," mike said. "i have seen signs that he is going down the right path. more slowly than we would have liked, sure, be he has chosen the right path." mike hugged traci and prayed that he was right.

and he was right. as the snow fell in late december, craig surfaced from his bed and made his way outside. just skin and bones, but alive, he looked up into the sky, flakes falling into his face. he sat on the curb and lit a cigarette. he coughed from the inhalation of smoke that his lungs had gotten used to working without. he exhaled deeply, smoke mixed with his frozen breath. he sat on the curb.

craig looked around, taking in the winter neighborhood. he even waved as the neighbors. he didn't know them, of course. this wasn't his neighborhood, or his home, or his street, or his sidewalk. he was a stranger in this world. that's how he felt anyway. "so, holly, i haven't seen you in a while," he said. "it's like you've forgotten about me." he took another drag off the cigarette and blew out the smoke.

he looked straight ahead through the falling snow. "i haven't forgotten you," holly said. "how could you say that? you are the love of my life." he looked at her then. she wasn't actually crying, but the tears looked like they could gush forth any moment. "then why did you leave?" "it wasn't my choosing. but it's been long enough." craig looked away again. "long enough?" he said. "yes." she grabbed his hand then.

craig was confused. "long enough for what?" "for us to be apart. there's no reason for it, and you can fix it." craig stubbed the cigarette out on the curb and put the butt in his jacket pocket. he turned to holly again and gently placed his hands around her face. he pulled her close and kissed her. "i know. i know. and i'm now ready to fix it." holly kissed him back. she grabbed his hands and was gone.

mike was standing on the stoop, cold with no jacket on. "who're you talking to buddy?" he asked. "no one," craig said. "just myself. trying to work things out." craig turned to look at mike. he noticed traci looking out the window, and he waved. she waved back and offered a tentative smile. "why don't you come back in," mike said. "i will," craig said as he stood. "you know, i think everything is going to be okay."

traci set the table while mike put the finishing touches on dinner. in the guest room, where he had lost the will to live all those months previously, craig adjusted his tie in the mirror. he smiled at his reflection and felt good for the first time since that horrible day. in the kitchen, concern washed over traci. "this is not good," she said. "not good at all." mike said nothing as traci sat up on the counter.

"we are actually going to have to do it, aren't we?" mike looked at traci. "what am i supposed to say? he seems to have done what we thought he was not strong enough to do." "and we're screwed now, mike. i don't think i can do it. i really don't." mike went back to cutting the roast, the succulent smell the only that seemed worthwhile at that moment. "let's give it a couple more days. see what happens, and then come

up with a plan." traci looked down and shook her head. "i can't believe we have to do this. this is your fault." she hopped off the counter and set out the wine glasses on the table, while craig was combing his hair in the bedroom. craig was nearly giddy. he had suffered for so long, missing holly with all of his being. but light had been shed upon him and he knew it was time to move on. as he walked into the kitchen

mike was setting the food on the table. craig smiled and walked over to traci as she poured the wine. "traci. mike. honestly, i don't know how i could of gotten through this without you. of course, i nearly didn't, and i don't know why you stuck it out with me for so long. but thank you. it's a good day. i love you both." he hugged traci. she looked at mike and mouthed the words, "fix this." mike just shrugged and

said, "you know we would never leave you. you're family and always will be." craig released traci and walked to mike, hugging him, too. "let's eat," mike said, "and celebrate this, this, wonderful day." during the meal craig never alluded to the future, despite the many questions from mike and traci concerning what he planned to do next. he was caught up in the moment and didn't want to forget the feeling of release.

after two bottles of wine, a wonderful meal and nearly three hours of conversation, craig finally bid them good night and went to bed. mike began to clear the table. "mike..." "traci, don't. let's give it a little time. i mean, how could he possibly have made such a recovery just from sitting on the curb this afternoon?" "i don't know, mike, but we have to do something. this can't go on any longer."

mike leaned against the sink and sighed. "if this continues for two more days, i suppose that means something will have to be done. and don't worry, i'll take care of it. she was your sister, and it's probably best if you aren't tied to this any more than you already are." traci began to cry as she walked out of the kitchen. "one way or another, this will be over soon," mike said. craig lay in bed looking at a photo

of holly and himself sitting on the mall santa's lap two years previous. he remembered that as a good day: shopping, laughing, enjoying life. he certainly wasn't enjoying life any more. the pain was real and it was too overpowering. and he knew that there was only one thing left he could do. and then he and holly would be together again. he set the photo on the nightstand, took a last drink straight from the bottle

of bourbon and said, "see you soon, holly." hours later as the early morning rays of sunshine began to peak over the edge of the horizon, craig lay motionless. children ran around the street outside, playing in the newly fallen snow, but it was of no consequence for craig. while it was apparent to no one at the moment, the sunlight creeping above the horizon would soon make its way through the slits of the window

blinds and shine down upon the bed. the rays would illuminate the small bedroom and its contents. and the morning's shine on the world would betray the night's events. the knock at the door would have been enough to wake a normal person, but mike knew that considering the state craig had been in that he lack of response could be due to a regression into his depression. at least, that's what mike hoped that morning.

after another, more robust knock with no response, mike turned the knob and slowly opened the door. "craig? you okay, buddy?" mike peeked his head in. "craig?" no answer. mike walked up to the bed. craig lay motionless, a smile spread across his face. next to him lay an empty bourbon bottle and an empty prescription bottle. mike reached down and touched craig's neck. he found no pulse. he sat on the edge of the bed

and cried. "it's over," he thought. "finally." he stood and went back to his room where traci was beginning to stir. "mike, i had nightmares about this whole thing. what are we going to do?" mike laid down next to traci, grabbed her tight and said, "we don't have to do anything." "why?" "craig's dead. he killed himself last night." traci covered her eyes and cried. "now we can move on," mike said. "we can let this go

and get on with our lives." they held each other for nearly an hour until traci was able to calm down a bit. she wiped the tears from her face and looked at mike. "i guess it worked," she said. "i guess it did." mike grabbed her face and kissed her. a kiss of relief more than anything, but also a kiss full of love. "i'll make the call," he said. "and i'll let her know." traci grabbed her robe, for the news she had to

share did not require fancy clothes. she walked out of the apartment and stopped in front of the apartment next door. she knocked three times, waiting 10 seconds and then knocked twice more. she could hear movement inside and then the sound of the chain being withdrawn from it's slot. the door opened. "it's over, sweetie," traci said. "it's over." traci stepped forward and wrapped her arms around

holly. "it's finally over." and they cried. the end...