love

25 Years Together

True story.

This post is especially for my mom and dad, but it's a good reminder for us all.

Today (July 17) is my parents' 25th wedding anniversary. Twenty-five years ago, God brought the two of them together in love and today they are still holding strong to their vows to each other.

I have always admired my parents and have many times thought that a life even only half as loving and kind as theirs would be amazing. As a kid, I looked up to them for help, answers, protection, and love. When I got married, I looked to my parents for advice and direction as my husband and I began our way down our own road. They were there for me growing up, preparing me for my adult life, and they are here for me now - and today, they celebrate all the love and memories that they've shared while being there for each other.

You've always been the cool parents, Mom and Dad. Partially because you're funny, partially because you're smart and witty (sometimes almost too clever :) ), partially because you're tech-savvy and you can still kick my butt with "today's trends" trivia. But mostly it's because everyone who sees you knows that you're a great couple. You fell in love and you stayed in love and you keep working at it, growing, making your lives stronger and better together. God has blessed you in so many ways and has made you incredible.

Here's to 25 years together, and another lifetime ahead. Stay strong in your faith and know that God is always with you and that each day together is a gift from Him.

With much love and respect,

-Sarah

Meet Sam Kaplan

Remember Jean? Here's the scoop on her counterpart, Samuel Kaplan.  

Sam Kaplan

Age: 25

Profession: Bodyguard

Favorite Pastime: Brawling (Kicking Ass)

Notable Activities: Drinking, Gambling (moderately), Occasional Art Immersion

Languages: English (bits of French from Jean)

Sam Kaplan was born in NYC. His father is a member of the old NYC mob, a fact that only a select few know. Nothing is known about his mother – it is assumed she was a hooker. At any rate, Sam was raised to be a quiet, observant man with patience, confidence, and a large dose of kick-assery. Many people have (wrongly) assumed Sam’s quiet nature to be a sign of stupidity, and when they have attempted to attack him, they have paid in missing teeth, broken bones, and bruised egos. Sam is a small but very fit man who blends easily into the background – making him ideal as a bodyguard, hence his current employment to Jean. His previous jobs include Judo instructor, debt collector, taxi driver, and museum guard. This last job, particularly, gave him some insight into the world of arts, and explains why he was on his way to a gallery opening the night he met Jean.

He has told Jean very little about his background (for obvious reasons), but instead of putting her off, as his silence did most people, Jean became intrigued and asked if he would like to be paid to be her bodyguard. The pay was considerably better than his previous job and he accepted. He is now happily employed and is most at home when he gets to throw around people who get too close to his employer.

As far as romance goes, Sam has had two girlfriends, neither of which were very serious. One was shot and killed and the other left him for a very old, very ill, very rich man. Sam does not hate women but simply does not have time for a dedicated relationship. He knows Jean by reputation and thinks that, if anything, the talk about her does not do her justice. She is a very spirited, very beautiful woman. He has not admitted, openly or privately, whether there was anything more than professional interest when he agreed to hire on as Jean’s bodyguard. Speculations, however, are leaning toward yes.

Lamentations

It is autumn, and the forest around your castle is alive with color even now, in the early night. Licks of candle-flames sear through every leaf, bursting into colors as bright as the sun. The dark stone of the castle seems even more beautiful with the fiery frame of the trees surrounding it. Around your garden, the silvery ivy begins to slow its creepers, anchoring itself deep within the sleepy earth for the winter it knows is not far away. The few flowers you planted display their soft clothes in silence. Your fine horses prance around their pasture, stomping their glinting hooves and sending their mournful songs up to the heavens. They do not know where you have gone. They whinny anxiously, hoping you will answer their desperate call. I do not know what to do, how to tell them the truth, so I rub their velvety noses for a moment before returning to the garden. I can see my breath in little white wisps as I kneel down beside you, as I tell you all that has happened since you left. There is no comfort for me in this place, even in all the beauty that surrounds it. Like you, it will soon pass away into the dregs of winter’s memory.

But you know none of this, for you are locked away inside an iron box, forced there by others’ hatred. A white marble stone sits above your head, marking the spot where you lay, hidden from the world. How I wish I could have you in my arms, your head against my chest and your hand in mine, as I rest beneath this old oak tree! But, I do not have the key to unlock you from your prison of death.

I lay a single, red rose on your grave. The moonlight illuminates each droplet of dew on the rose’s petals, turning them into shimmering tears. They are not the first tears that have been shed over your grave, but I worry that, after I am gone, they will be the last.

For Her Brother's Sake

Here's a character intro about a girl with a bit of unknown magic.  

Danny was awesome. Annoying as hell sometimes, but always there when it really counted. That’s what big brothers were for, right? Like the time when I was five, and we were climbing trees in the backyard. Dad told us not to but we did anyway – like we gave a damn what “Dad” said, even back then. And when I fell out of the tree and broke my arm, Danny scooped me up and took me in to the ER or wherever, but he teased me about my crying the whole way there. Or when I was fourteen and had my first boyfriend ever – although calling him a real boyfriend now seems like a real joke… honestly, no one can seriously date at fourteen. You’re so confused about too much stuff, like starting high school and being one of the “young adults” of the world, and finally getting privileges from your parents (if you’re lucky), and learning to drive, and figuring out just what the hell it means to actually be mature (and meet other people who are just as “mature” as you are).

Anyway, the point was, when we broke up, Danny listened to my sob story and then promptly told me I was just being an angsty teen and that sooner or later I’d better get a grip on myself and realize that there were better people in the world than scumbags like that who would dump me for some sleaze. Later, I saw my ex with a black eye. I laughed at him and thought about kicking him in the shin, but decided not to (not because I was too mature… because my teacher was standing about four feet away from us and I probably would have ended up with a detention).

Yeah, Danny was awesome. He was the golden child of the family. My parents loved “their Daniel”: he was all A’s in school, played center on the soccer team in high school and got a full ride to college. Strong, handsome, smart, and just great. Girls couldn’t get enough of him, but he never dated anyone, that I know of. He knew they were all just shallow, sleazy girls who wanted a piece of the stardom. Danny was better than that.

He was better than anyone I had ever known… he was the only one who ever acted like they really loved me. I was the “oops” child, and my parents always regretted not having an abortion. Danny was twelve when I was born, so he was always looking out for me. Mom and Dad never cared about what I did – they just didn’t want to hear about all my screw-ups. So when I broke my arm falling out of the tree, Danny said we had been playing at the park and he pushed me too hard and I fell. He knew he’d never get punished, no matter what… and especially not for something as trivial as breaking the oops child’s arm. And when I got into a fight (that I didn’t start) at middle school and the principle sent letters home to the parents, Danny got the mail and stole the letter so they wouldn’t find out and punish me.

He never, ever left me alone with them if he could help it. I even started staying at college with him when he moved away, because we were afraid of what Mom and Dad would do to me if I was always alone in the house with them. Danny told everyone I was his niece that he had adopted because her parents had died. Everyone there loved me… it was weird, but nice. I had a family of college guys, and they were cooler and way better of a family than my “real” parents had ever been.

And when the strange stuff started, Danny refused to look away. He said that no matter what, he was going to stick by me. He wasn’t some crummy shithead like Mom or Dad who would dump me on the street because of some weird-ass vibe I had. He was going to try and help figure out what was going on… no matter how creepy it felt.

I was so glad to know that. The strange vibe, the “feeling” that had been surrounding me had been getting more and more potent, and it was starting to creep out some of the other guys. I remember one of them, Mike, I think his name was, coming by Danny’s room and saying, “Dude, you’ve got some major psycho thing going on here. What are you doing?”

Danny’s answer was that he was just tired and cranky because of some project or other he hadn’t gotten done yet that was due soon. Mike seemed to believe him. But as soon as he left, Danny closed his door and sat down next to me. “Millie,” he said, using his nickname for me (my real name was Amelia), “do you know what’s going on? What’s with this ‘Danger’ aura you’re sending off all the time?”

I had no clue. Apparently, I was surrounded by this feeling, this aura, that I was dangerous, and everyone else was picking up on it. I was nervous – what if I got Danny in trouble? Or if I got kicked out? I’d have to go back and live with Mom and Dad – and I sure as hell didn’t want to do that.

Danny didn’t get in trouble. I didn’t get kicked out. But I still had to go back to the house, because I couldn’t live at the college anymore. Danny was out late one night, at a party for one of his friends, and there was a party crash by one of the city’s local gangs. There weren’t very many of them, but they had been drinking… and they had guns. Danny took a bullet for the girl who had been having the party. She called an ambulance, but he bled out before they could save him.

The gang got busted and arrested by the cops, but I didn’t care. Danny was dead.

The girl came to see me. She was cute – pretty, even – and had puffy red eyes. She told me what Danny had done, how he had saved her life, and that she was really sorry for me. She offered to do what she could to help me, but there wasn’t anything to be done. She wasn’t going to be able to take care of me. Danny had been a part-time student and a part-time worker so he could earn enough money to take care of me. This girl wouldn’t be able to do that. I could tell just by looking at her. Plus, it wouldn’t be long before my “dangerous” vibe kicked in and scared her off, anyway.

I thanked her and left. Looking back on it now, I wonder if she and Danny were dating, after all… the way she talked about him, she seemed like she really cared about him, and that he was important to her. And I guess she must have been important to him, too, since he took a bullet for her and died for her.

Mom and Dad were pissed. They were shocked, of course, and totally upset and grieving that their son had died, but mostly they were pissed at me. They blamed me for Danny’s death. If I hadn’t been with him, he would still be alive. Why didn’t I use my freakish power and save his life? I was useless, completely useless. What a waste of a child. They couldn’t believe that their genes had made something so grossly pathetic and worthless. I should have died instead. Why hadn’t I died and let Danny live? I couldn’t even have done the only useful thing possible and traded myself for him?

Then they started to come after me with more than just words – and the words hurt bad enough. Mom got the first slap in, right across the face. I was a little surprised that she could hit that hard. I think that’s what caught me off guard for Dad’s turn. He landed a solid punch to my nose, breaking it on impact. It bled everywhere, making them yell and scream even more about how I was ruining the carpet and my clothes, never bothering to appreciate all the things I had before I just ruined them all with my useless, worthless self. As though I purposely kept the blood flowing, just to piss them off.

Of course, as soon as that thought crossed my mind, I decided to get a little revenge. I blew my nose into my hands and wiped the blood all over the front of Mom’s sweater.

Damn, but it felt so good.

The second punch to the stomach felt significantly less good. Dad stood over me where I’d fallen, winded, looking like his eyes were about to pop from rage. Behind him, I heard a drawer rattle. We were in the kitchen. “Here, honey,” I heard Mom say. “Use this, and finish the brat. I can’t stand the look of her anymore. The murdering, worthless bitch.”

She gave Dad one of the long, sharp, carving knives that you only ever see in horror movies. Dad stepped on my foot, pinning me down. He had this crazy smile on his face, like he was about to kill a fly that had landed on the wall.

I couldn’t scream; there was too much blood and I choked, instead. I put my arms up over my face, although it was a useless move because I couldn’t shield all the soft spots at the same time. I don’t know what was going through my head… something to the effect of Oh God, I’m gonna die. I don’t want to die. I’m gonna die. If I die, will I see Danny? At least I’ll be rid of these guys… I don’t want to die!

Dad swung the knife down…

…It shattered just above my face.

To say that it scared the shit out of all of us would be an understatement.

Mom stared. Dad kept driving the broken knife down towards me like some kind of deranged robot, but his fist kept hitting the air and stopping like it had hit a brick wall. I watched, frozen, my heart beating so fast I thought for sure it was going to break my ribs and beat right out of my chest. I do remember my thoughts then.

What. The Hell. Just. Happened.

I recovered from the shock first. I think it was my survival instincts kicking in (or possibly kicking me in the face). I screamed as menacingly as I could, waving my bloody hands in Dad’s face. It had the desired effect: he stepped back quickly, and my foot was free. I rolled to my feet and sprinted out the door. Behind me, I heard my mom screaming for me to get back here, and then for Dad to follow me and finish me off.

Bitch. I hated her then, and I still hate her now. Makes my power get all hot inside just thinking about her. Of course, back then, I had no idea what was going on. I reacted out of instinct. Protect myself, or die. Now I know how to use my power. I still give off that dangerous vibe, but there’s nothing I can do about that. Frankly, I don’t care. If people don’t like me, then they won’t get close enough to me to be able to hurt me, either. And since I seem dangerous, I’m not too likely to get jumped, either. And even if I did, I know how to take care of myself now.

The reason that the knife shattered was because I had thrown up a shield, using the air around me and hardening it until nothing could get through to me. If someone attacked me now, I could use another one of those shields, or I could make the air take on any shape I wanted… a rope to tie them up, a knife to attack them, or anything else that could come to mind. I bet it would be really freaky to get tied up by an invisible rope… or to get cut up by an invisible knife.

I want to try it, just to see. But I’m not a monster. I am not Mom and Dad. I’m not about to go out of my way to attack someone just because I can, and I sure as hell am not going to start a fight just to have an excuse to beat someone up.

I was raised better than that. Thanks to Danny, I am a decent person… even though something about my power screams to the world that I’m dangerous. Well, I guess I am dangerous, but only if you go after someone I care about. Which would only be me, at this point, since Danny’s already gone.

Thanks, Danny, for raising me to be better than scum like Mom or Dad, for showing me that I’m worth something. Thanks for teaching me how to survive in this shitty world. Thanks for helping me understand that there’s more to people than first impressions and first feelings. Thanks for telling me that I was loved. You saved me from a lot of shit, Danny, taking me away from Mom and Dad. But you saved me from even worse by loving me even though I was different. I’m sorry I couldn’t save you… but I will do my best to live a life you’d be proud of, so that when I see you again, I can tell you, and you won’t be disappointed.

God, I miss you, Danny.

Happy Birthday!

Today is my husband's birthday, so I thought it would be nice if I wrote about it on the Internet. At night. While he is watching anime. And possibly pausing it now to take his present, our new puppy, outside for the last walk of the night. I'm so thoughtful. :)

Really, though, I do want to dedicate this post to my dear Adam - you have been with me for almost two years now as a husband, and much longer than that as a friend. Thanks for putting up with all my random insanity. Happy birthday, my love!

In honor of the occasion, I have collected various songs and sayings that have been sung to me on my birthdays and compiled them here for you to enjoy:

"Happy birthday to you, Happy birthday to you, Happy birthday dear Adam, Happy birthday to you!"

"Happy birthday - you're one year closer to being dead." (Technically, no one said this to me... I said it to someone else as a joke and it stuck around... so now I'm passing it on. :) )

"Happy birthday - how does it feel to Still be older than me?"

"I stopped celebrating other people's birthdays after they turn 21. No one gives out free booze for a 25th birthday."

"Hooray, you've lived one quarter of a century! That's like being worth 25 cents!"

--And perhaps my favorite birthday song, of all time:

"You're older than you've ever been and now you're even older, and now you're even older, and now you're even older. You're older than you've ever been and now you're even older, and now you're older still.     TIME... is marching on... and TIME... ... ... is still marching on... This day will soon be at an end and now it's even sooner, and now it's even sooner, and now it's even sooner, this day will soon be at an end and now it's even sooner, and now it's sooner still!"

 

:) I love you Adam and happy birthday! :)

--The Wife

 

Lost and Love

I got lost. Not just a little lost, pull-over-at-the-gas-station-for-directions lost.

Very, very lost.

My life kidnapped me back in March and just now dumped me back on Earth. Hence the long gap between updates. However, during that time I was able to work on a few things (several, actually, but only a few that pertain to writing/reading/creative stuff) - which means I can start posting again!

...Assuming I can reset my password. I'm writing this in Word at the moment, waiting for the confirmation email to show up in my Inbox so I can get logged on. Hopefully my life won't decide to kidnap that, too...

 

In the spirit of last week, during which time I attended a cousin's wedding, I have a new question: What is the fiction book that best captures the feeling of a new marriage? I'm talking about all the preparation, dealing with unhappy or unsupportive friends/family, the excitement, the nerves, and the rush of wedding-induced insanity often labeled bliss. :) Are there any characters that you remember standing out because of how they dealt with a marriage (their own or someone else's)?

And maybe I'll throw this one in, too, since it's waiting not-so-patiently: Is there a character that "in your other life, you'd like to marry"?

I'll start off the answer to the last question - When I was little, I was convinced that I would grow up and marry Robin Hood (the fox from the Disney film). I still love him. Luckily, my husband (who is not Robin Hood) accepts this. :)