The Pain Reliever: Expectation vs. Reality
Will relieve pain. All pain.
Heartbreak from immature brat who found someone better. Bruised pride from begging brother for other half of rent money. Soreness from best friend who ‘forgot’ to lend me moving truck. Twisted arm from agreeing to live with other friend in roach infested apartment. Throbbing headache from hearing her complain about vintage Beastie Boys CDs that are not played too loudly. Burned by the desire we share every Tuesday in the laundry room. Burned because she’s friends with the brat who found someone better. A pain in the neck from explaining she’s not really a brat. Stiffed on the rent money when she, too, moves out.
Limber enough to move on.
The other helicopter is a mud-crusted pig. I can’t believe I ever liked him. Yesterday, during the battle of boredom, he took my landing spot on purpose. I know he knew I wanted it. It was so smooth and flat and accessible. Who wouldn’t want a sturdy bookshelf?
My controller is on the verge of a breakdown. I’ve been feeling it for weeks now, but I don’t want to do anything. What good would it do if I did? The other helicopter doesn’t have these problems. He’s totally oblivious. Instead, the other helicopter glides around without any shaking or flight exhaustion. He is in complete alignment with our surroundings.
The other helicopter is entitled. He thinks he deserves a safe landing. Does he ever wonder what his safe landing is taking from me? Does he even notice my missing wheel?
Today he sat next to me on the cabinet above the office chairs.
“Just take control,” he said as if it was that easy. He was looking at the long and low windowsill, but I was looking out.
The other helicopter can fly as smooth as cream. He’ll never leave the room.
-The CH-53 Sea Stallion
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Dear Brown Paper Bag,
You were there when I was broke. You looked like something out of a postage store with your nondescript packaging. It was before the idea of dainty handles made from braided paper. Fitting in was out of style.
There’s a certain dignity to being plain when you know you’re a necessity. Frills are for those without substance. Your no nonsense attitude was perfect for packed lunches on the job. I put the beer at the bottom.
So why did you change? Did you feel the need to compete with shoulder bags? Were you trying to attract someone else? Someone who had places to go? Someone who wanted to be seen?
I miss giving you notes.
Don’t worry about a thing – he probably didn’t even notice they caught fire. Remember to act stupid and I’ll see you at home.
I miss giving you everything I could find. Mints stolen from the Chinese food store down the street. Sandwiches with three different kinds of meat. You were open to everything.
I saw you, or the latest version of you, at the grocery store last week and couldn’t bring myself to walk over. Sitting in the same aisle as organic wrapping paper and blank cards featuring vaguely artistic photographs, you weren’t in the right place.
$3.99 per bag.
Let me know when you’re back to being trashy.
Your ex wife
I know you think this is the place to be. You see the pre-packaged meals with their wrinkled vegetables, cubed meat, and watery potatoes and conclude: that’s the machine that makes them coveted.
I understand the transformation is tempting. I open the door for non-desirable and inedible food. Everyone wants bagel bites. Everyone likes diet dinners. My magic overwhelms those of a lazy disposition no matter their financial situation. In three minutes, I can make anything attractive.
Except I can’t. I can make certain things irresistible, but when it comes to a hideous stuffed animal that’s not actually squishy, there’s just nothing I can do. I have explained this multiple times.
Nevertheless, one of your friends will settle itself against my warm light, waiting for the inevitable transition. Time after time it insists this experience will be different. It isn’t. It never is.
Sure, for the first ten or fifteen seconds there is a certain glow to the future of belonging. Furr sticks together, forming a thick quality that wasn’t there before. But then, just one minute later, all hope melts.
Insides slope downward. Claws turn to paws. Feet fuse to a plastic floor.
Then comes the electricity. It starts with just one spark, but before two minutes, shiny metallic stars erupt from both ears.
This can’t last, but so long, furbys think. It can.
Flames, fleeing from the sides of both arms explode from somewhere within. The heat becomes unbearable. There is nothing I can do to stop it.
I told you it wouldn’t work, I say, but by then it doesn’t matter. Tears of melted eyelashes and plastic eyeballs droop to the floor.
They will never be attractive.
You will never be attractive.
Although I understand the hope for metamorphosis, please don’t use me for your idea of beauty.
It’s not worth the time.
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Age: Expiration date optional
Body Type: Curvy
Someone who is mysterious and probably misunderstood. Substance use is acceptable as long as it’s for healing purposes only.
My Ideal Date:
Watching old VHS tapes of Tom Waits and comparing it to your band.
Three Things I Can’t Live Without:
1.)The joy of helping others
3.)The back shelf of your pantry
I’m at a point in my life where I know what works. I have faith in myself.
One thing I am exceptionally good at:
Decreasing a tense situation.
Complicated by Avril Lavigne
“Be My Headache.”
“I don’t do sparkles.”
“You don’t have to if I’m there.”
“That’s not what I mean.”
“Everybody needs shine in their life.”
“It’s better to be bright.”
“What do you mean?”
“I’m sick of this.”
“You know what I’m talking about.”
“Don’t talk to me like that.”
“Let’s not be trashy.”
“Just because you’re old, doesn’t mean you’re classic.”
“Do we need to stay home tonight?”
“Depends if you’re going.”
“Yes. As long as you’re not ostentatious.”
“Why is a little attention so bad?”
“It’s not the amount, it’s the type.”
“Fine. I’ll stay home.”
“You can’t stay home.”
“I don’t want to have a bad time.”
There comes a time in everyone’s life where the past seems better than the present. You get old, you get tired, you don’t feel like driving twenty minutes to work every single day and you start to think, remember that time when I was seventeen?
No. You don’t remember that time when you were seventeen. You don’t remember when your best friend’s mom screamed at you for feeding her son pot out of a hollowed out apple. You don’t remember how your stomach bulged out of the neon green spandex that you had to buy because Stacy Q. was beyond amazing. You don’t remember the first time you went to a night club and danced until you accidentally elbowed the shy guy in the eye.
You remember Sublime. You remember sitting stretched out in the back of your friend’s 1980’s Honda Accord while you dangled your arm out the window. You remember the rainbow-colored beanie that you could have sworn were the colors of the Jamaican flag. You remember that guy with the dreads who said you didn’t ever need to shampoo again just as long as you had Bees Wax. You remember thinking you could keep riding in that car forever.
But thank God, you got out. You no longer had to stay on your mom’s couch eating pizza Pringles and watching reruns of bad sitcoms. You made it past abstinence-only education, dodgeball, and pregnant cheerleaders.
Now you just have to change the CD.
It was never Sublime. It will never have been Sublime. It’s been over 20 years and you hate pop reggae.
CONFESSION INTERVIEW DICTATION
“What made you decide to do it?”
“Why would I kill Garfield?”
“You tell me.”
“I’ve been happily serving him since 1978.”
“So you do consider it serving.”
“What do you mean?”
“You consider yourself beneath him.”
“So you find that demeaning, do you?”
“It’s my place.”
“To sit. On the floor. With the water.”
“So you’re blaming the water.”
“The water didn’t have anything to do with this.”
“Then you admit it.”
“You poisoned Garfield.”
“You don’t know what you’re talking about.”
“You knew he’d eat the lasagna. That’s why you presented it to him last Tuesday evening. So you could kill him before Wednesday.”
“What happened Wednesday?”
“Wednesday was your ticket out. You knew you’d never be able to leave the Arbuckle house if Garfield was still around.”
“I could leave whenever I wanted.”
“He’d be all over you. Guarding you the entire day. You think he’d let you out of his sight even for one minute?”
“If the timing was right.”
“When would be the right time to leave?
“I never thought about it.”
“But if you did…”
“I don’t know.”
“How about Wednesday?”
“Why would I want to leave Wednesday?”
“Wednesday was different.”
“Because of the lasagna?”
“Because of your possible new future in a better home with a better cat in a better section of the kitchen.”
“You know I’m right. Just say it.”
“Say what happened on Wednesday.”
“I wanted to leave Garfield.”
“But why Wednesday?
“Wednesday was the day that Normal was coming.”
“And you wanted a Normal life, didn’t you?”
“A life without neediness.”
“A life without possession.”
“A life without Garfield.”
I swallowed a secret a million years before numbers, so that nothing could be held accountable.
Scrolled up, jotted down, and shoved to the back of a bottle, the message was almost drowned.
Let me out! Let me out! A pocketed paper screamed from below.
But when pulled up and rolled out, the ink had smeared rows.
Neither black, nor white, with no crisp lines to write on,
the page merged gray in conviction.
“But what was the secret?”
The question in question has stopped being questioned.
The message was found irresponsible.