The Things I Will Miss

In the end, reality is as cliché as Hollywood. When little green men fly over in their souped-up Frisbees, I can’t muster up any surprise. All I can do is wonder if they ever go cruising for chicks in those things on a Saturday night. I drop my gaze from the sky and walk into the house. I just hope I’m not their type.

“It serves all of us right, I guess,” I say. My giggles echo off the empty walls. I can’t bring myself to regret that I have no one to say goodbye to. “But I have never been lonely,” I say out loud.

The air in front of me ripples; a man-shaped shadow materializes. “You have never been alone,” he whispers. I can’t discern his features, but I feel the resonance of his smile.

I sit for a long while, my hand in his, and listen to the pandemonium. Frantic shadows scurry by the windows. I am entitled to join them now; indiscriminate tragedy is always a good icebreaker. They are going to congregate in designated shelters. Safety in numbers, and all that nonsense. The masses have never made me feel safe.

“The sad fools,” I say with a sigh. Their panicked stampede is as predictable as a Bruce Willis blockbuster. It will be a bitter betrayal when he doesn’t show up to save them.

After nightfall, we wander the vacant streets. We watch the horizon, as the radiance from distant cities is extinguished one by one. My insignificance, something I’ve forever detested, isn’t such a bad thing after all. They will come for us loners last. The meek have inherited precious last moments.

The Shadow Man takes my hand and leads me uptown, to the mansions. Jubilation wells up in me like effervescent pearls. No place is forbidden now. The imposing iron gates are thrown open like welcoming arms.

A warm glow appears amid the blackness; rays of light rain down from an upstairs window.

I whisper, “How can a light still burn? There has been no electricity for hours.” I am more intrigued than afraid.

We enter the house. It is completely still, except for a diffuse luminosity. Golden light streams from a bedroom. I take a tentative step inside. A little girl emerges from behind a large doll house. A shimmer from within her opalescent flesh. She is the source of the light.

“We just want to look, honey,” I say.

She nods and leads us through the labyrinthine hallways. The Shadow Man disappears down a dark alley. The corridor opens into a cavernous bedroom. I gasp at its opulence. A chandelier shines rainbow prisms in my eyes. My head swoons with the rich scent of fresh roses.

“They have left me behind,” the Light Girl says; her voice is metallic indifference. “Will you take me with you?”

“We are going up to the mountains. It will be cold, dark, and dangerous. Why would you leave all of this?”

I look around at all of the feminine, superfluous things. The shoes of every style and color, the perfume and jewelry-littered dresser, the flamboyant evening gowns that were worn only once. Superficial, tactile things. The things I will miss. I finally understand that worn-out platitude — you can’t take it with you.

“Stay here with me,” says the Light Girl. She puts her small, warm hand in mine. “We can play dress up.”

I reach out and stroke a green silk gown. Such luxury has never touched my work-battered hands. They are going to come for me, eventually. I will not prolong the futile charade of survival in some dank cave.

The Shadow Man pokes his head in the closet. He’s wearing a black tuxedo two sizes too large. “I have something for you.” He holds out a corsage of pink orchids. “Get dressed, my darling, and let’s dance.”

The Light Girl giggles and claps her hands.

When they come for us, we will look smashing.

This little story was published over a decade ago in Bewildering Stories, which is one of the longest-running speculative fiction Ezines. It was reprinted a couple of years later in the now-defunct Atomjack. Before I began this blog, I had published in numerous places and much of it was fiction. It’s been years since I’ve sought publication. The blog now holds my heart. Many of these early stories have slipped far to the back of my memory. It’s almost as if I’ve forgotten the years when I was teaching myself how to write and searching for my voice. So many of the stories, like this one, were dictated to me in dreams. It came back to me last night in another dream. Remember these words. They came out of you. I know better than to ignore the Mothership.

So I present them here as a testament to perseverance. Over the past few weeks, I have been working on the memoir, which I began writing over a decade ago. It is so close to being done. A couple of days ago, I was overcome with discouragement. It was all I could do to not delete it all. I want so much for it to be finished, so that I can move on. It doesn’t matter if no one wants to publish it or read it. Thanks to the nocturnal nudge, the despair is shifting into discernment. The process of creation is part of the journey. It is our imprint upon this world, whether it reverberates far or not. Enjoy it while it lasts.

64 thoughts on “The Things I Will Miss

    • Thank you, Robin. I’m pleased that I was reminded of it. I think I need to dig up more of my old fiction. Most of it is pretty weird.

      I will keep on going until the memoir is done. I don’t really have a choice. It will nag me until I do.

  1. There is little that can match the ability to make the reader jump straight into the story as you did here.

    When I first began writing I told myself it was for me, and that I didn’t care whether anyone read what I wrote. To a large extent, it was true but not completely.

    Nobody is going to read what you write in the beginning, unless you have a very kind family and very supportive friends. Unfortunately, I always lacked both. So I didn’t show anyone my work, convincing myself I would always be satisfied with that. The reality was that I was afraid any harsh criticism would stop me doing something I loved so dearly. When I finally did allow a few friends to take a peek, I realised I’d probably been very wise not to. By that time I was ready to take it on the chin. Even though taking it on the chin means being prepared for a lot of pain.

    Eventually, I came to look at writing in the same way I look at theatre and film. In both the audience is an essential part of the work. To be complete, writing also needs an ‘audience’. But that doesn’t mean lack of appeal to a wider audience is a good indicator of a work’s quality. If we were to judge how good things by how popular they were McDonald’s hamburgers and fries would be the finest vittles on the planet.

    Enough about me, I feel you to be one of the most gifted writers I have come across on the internet, and it amazes me that publishers aren’t queueing up with advances to encourage you to write more. You have a magical way with words that I envy like crazy and that I know I will never be able to equal. That isn’t necessarily a cause for sadness for me, because I enjoy and appreciate your work so very much. Please continue the giving. You have a duty to the world of literature to continue writing, and I mean that with all of my heart.

    • This brought tears to my eyes, Bryan. I have been writing « for the love » since the beginning, but I feel like time is running out. My living situation is shifting and it’s possible that I will no longer have the time or energy to devote to writing. Survival must come first. There are so many writers out there clamoring for attention. I don’t have the energy to try to be heard over the cacophony of desperation. Those who are the most successful tend to be those who are the loudest and exude the greatest sense of entitlement. I guess it works that way in all facets of life. I’m so grateful for the audience that I do have. Thank you so much for your kind words of support.

  2. I echo many other’s comments….I cannot wait to read your memoir!! I’ve always felt that writing is the best therapy there is! I’ve written many pieces that were for my eyes only but the relief I felt afterword and the weight lifted, were all I needed. Just the same, I’m sure that reading your writing is therapy to many others as well! This last entry you wrote had me captivated from the beginning! I love your writings! You bring joy to so many people!! Keep on, keeping on with that memoir!!! You can do this!! Love ya!!
    Shelly

  3. On my brief sojourn into memoir, I commented in a postscript, “This began as a writing exercise. But memoir, I’ve learned, is like a trapdoor: once you trigger the mechanism you don’t know who or what will be waiting at the bottom when you land.”

    Julie, perhaps you’ve hit bottom, after flailing with arms, legs, and heart during the descent. Like your ‘light girl’ you may be about to illuminate the darkness.

  4. know what you mean about feeling insignificant. I am currently developing my lesson for astronomy and the universe, which in itself can make you feel pretty small, but I am also delving into parallel universes to teach the kids about; which when you really think about it leaves us as not even as large as an atom in the grand scope of things…..

    ________________________________

  5. Thanks for sharing your story. You have a gift, Julie. Whether it comes to you in dreams, in quiet moments of solitude, on busy streets in foreign lands, you always find a way to give it a voice, and in such a beautiful way.

    Your memoir deserves your attention. Please don’t let it slip away. And a decade worth of effort ? I, and so many of us here, would love to see it come to fruition for you. I know how very therapeutic the writing process can be for us all. And I’m often struck by the idea that our words, no matter where/how they are published, can be of help to those who might not have the voice to acknowledge.

    You will find a way, and we’ll be watching for it.

    • Thank you so much, Van. 💗I won’t let it slip away now. Or rather, it won’t let me slip away. There’s a reason that I am compelled to write it, even if it turns out to be just for myself.

  6. It’s totally okay to be exhausted. It’s totally NOT okay to delete. Your writing is musical. I understand that you’ll sometimes feel the need to tweak the notes, but never discard the score. Waiting. Patiently.

    • Thanks, Peggy. I know better than to delete it. I just felt the need to share the discouragement that I believe most writers go through at one time or another. It seems to be the worst just before a project is finished.

  7. As always, your writing is lovely. I cherish every word & anxiously await the next chapter. Your fantasy fiction is sadly a part of your memoir. It is not always fun to travel in time. My “memoir” is complete. I think I will continue to write only fantasy.

  8. If you only knew what joy you have brought me, with your writing. I have always thought you were a great writer. So much of it has been a part of me. So many emotions come when I read your work. This world is a better place with you in it. Don’t ever stop.

  9. Keep your chin up on that memoir, Julie. If anyone can transcend the Facebookish, “I did this then I did that” and move it into a finely crafted story, it’ll be you.

  10. “There are so many writers out there clamoring for attention. I don’t have the energy to try to be heard over the cacophony of desperation.” <– I write and will always write in spite of this fact; I do it just for the love of it, as you also say. I think the Light Girl returned to you in the darkness of your discouragement to show you the way to the end of your project.

    Is that Kutna Hora? I didn’t make it there, and I’m not sure if I’m sad or happy about that. It always gives me the shivers to see the photos!

    • That’s why I write, too. I have gone through phases of wanting more, but now I realize that’s not so important. If people need to find my work, they will find it. Even amid the cacophony. This memoir, more than any other project, is symbolic of moving on. That’s probably why it has seemed like a burden.

      Yes, that second photo is Kutna Hora, from my second visit. The chandelier was gone during my first visit, so when I took some friends there last June, I was delighted to see that it had returned.

  11. Well, I believe people have different motivations, and expectations for writing, and when those motivations turn flaky, or the expectations are not met, people confronted with reality, tend to have a clearer picture of what’s going on, add to that the vagaries of existence, always changing, and things going this way, or that way, and we all may decide one day to change.

    I am aware of my own motivation, knowing people may have numberless reasons for writing, mine come from reading, it always has been a passion for me, until I got to the point it was time to give something back, as simple as that.
    As to how many people would care to read what I write, the way I see it, that I cannot predict, or control, so I do not worry much about it, knowing most people are saturated with information from all sources, and had little time, or patience to read busy as we all are with life, however we know some few people do, and that is good enough, at least for me.

    Thank you as always, for being here. 🙂

    • It’s good to become acquainted with our own motivation for doing things, and to reevaluate it from time to time. You’re so right that people are over- saturated with information. And addicted to the type that is divisive and toxic. That’s why I value this little virtual home and neighborhood so much. In the midst of so much pandemonium and outrage and darkness, we share our individual illuminations and the light glows brighter. Thank you for being here, too. ✨

  12. In the end, all that will we remember will be the kindred spirits we meet along the way. We must document our life, in one form or another, whether, writing, music, photography, fostering a compassionate community, sharing and exchange knowledge and experience. I admire anyone who takes the time to write about life as they live with passion and courage. Our moments become who we are and what we have valued. I have enjoyed our conversations over the past five years and I’m looking forward to the many that will follow. Sometimes, there will be times that we feel lost, but as long as we are moving forward, we writing our story. Thank you for another great post.

    • « Our moments become who we are and what we have valued ». The story of our individual lives is in a constant state of creation. Thank you for sharing the road with me over these past 5 years. 💐

  13. I’m glad you didn’t delete your work. It is a part of you whether you like it or not. I hope the completion of the work brings you the end result you desire.

    Regarding the previous post: Thank you for telling us about it but I don’t think I could go on a tour like that. Scratches from a butcher is not something I could bear.

  14. I know well that “Please let this just be over” feeling while working on a project. The irony of it all is that writing requires so much patience. Wishing you fortitude as you attempt that very last and most difficult of hurdles.

    • It requires patience, for sure. Most of the work, as you know, is rewriting. I’m mostly in the line editing/copyediting phase right now, which is so precise and needs to be done over and over. Now I understand why so many writers have OCD.

  15. YOUR blog now holds our heart. 🙂
    Glad you did not delete the memoir. (Make a backup copy now please, pretty please please?)
    Look forward to reading it.
    A bientôt mon amie. L’hiver arrive sur l’Anjou…

  16. Some of the comments are almost as telling as the post, Julie. You write because you have to and you do it as well as anybody I’ve come across on here. That line ‘nobody said it was easy’ echoes in my head, along with the image of you dressing up for the final dance. Good luck to you! 🙂 🙂

  17. Remarkable writing dear Julie… You sound like a classic author… So many things to ponder here… Life, is trivialities ( that worn-out platitudes we can´t take with us). There is something elusive here, related to those lights that vanish…and that inner spontaneous spark that makes us acknowledge many important things in Life!… Thank you for sharing… Sending love & best wishes 🙂 😉

    • If there’s anything I’m happy to leave behind, on this earthly plane, it’s worn-out platitudes. 😁 The inner spark comes from some other plane, so it feels as though it will travel with us into infinity. Thank you for sharing your light, dear one.

  18. Julie!

    I cannot believe this post had been here since Nov. 4th and only today did WordPress alert me of its existence. And what a treat! I really, really, really liked the short story at the beginning, how it painted a story but left much to the imagination (who’s the Little Girl? How about Shadow Man, and what nice name is that?). It’ll give me something to think about whilst on the tube: possible endings, possible prequels, possible explanations. Love it.
    Please, please, please: don’t delete the memoir! And frankly, how can it ever be finished? I’m sure next year will have things worth remembering, and worth adding. A bit like a new edition of Branson’s autobiography, just not irritating like that sod.
    Personally, I’d love to read it.
    Fabrizio

    • Hi Fabrizio – I haven’t been getting notified of posts from some bloggers I follow, too. It’s a WP bug that happens from time to time.

      The memoir only goes until the age of thirty. If I included everything up until now, it would be mammoth. Post-memoir stuff has gone on the blog, which has ballooned up to full-length book size. More than 5 years of blogging. And I used to post a lot in the beginning. Anyway, thanks for the enthusiasm. 😁

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