A Long Forgotten Fay

There is a creature, a Fay nightmare long forgotten by us regular folk, who only comes out at night and haunts the dirty streets of Dublin in the wee hours. No one has said his name in 300 years and no one has believed in him since the industrial revolution.

But he is still very much alive.

He sneaks down cobblestone alleys only venturing into the rural areas when desperate. He skulks in the shadows and appears to bend and shrink into the corners moving slowly, his every step deliberate. He can only ever be seen from the corner of your eye, disappearing when you look straight at him in a trick of light and magic that has allowed him to survive. He feasts on garbage, rotted food, and the occasional hapless drunk.

Hidden from view by a magic older than the written language the only sign that he is nearby is the smell of carrion as it drifts up on an evening breeze. Though you cannot see him your body can sense the danger causing your skin to prickle, your hairs to stand up in warning, and your feet to pick up pace.

This is how he chooses his victims. The more imagination you have the more likely you are to be caught for only when you believe in him can he be truly seen, his greatest survival mechanism becomes your worst nightmare.

His muscles bulge unnaturally and his skin is all sinew and rough leather. His bones protrude at odd angles, the elbows always curved and his neck bent forward at a disturbing angle. He is grizzled and worn with a stooped back but nothing about him looks weak. He radiates a terrifying strength despite his odd and haggard appearance.

If you are ever unlucky enough to truly see him he at first appears short, stooped in the corner by a trash can all sharp angles and low to the ground, but when he stands up tall cracking his bones and stretching he is nearly 6 feet.

He smiles when caught, his two rows of teeth gleaming in the light of a nearby streetlamp. They are stained the rust of blood red and half rotted but still sharp.

There is hatred in his hungry eyes, a deep loathing for mankind that instantly petrifies anyone who makes eye contact, forcing even the strongest man to become a deer caught in the headlights of a superior predator. Once powerful and now reduced to eating scraps he relishes any instance where he can eat a common man, silencing his victims by slicing out their tongues with his long fingernails and slowly picking their bones clean, sucking the marrow while his prey still lives and writhes in pain.

He may be long forgotten but he does not forget.

Instead he bides his time.

He will become known again.

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An Echo of Me

I told myself I would never write a biography, and this isn’t one. It’s just a story about a girl. She’s the same height as me, and looks the same though perhaps she is slightly thinner. We have the same hair and eye colour, and skin tone. We have the same mannerisms and speech patterns, and even the same first name. But she is not me. Or, rather, I am not her. Have you ever stood in a tunnel and shouted out just to hear the echo? The echo is not the same as your voice, the pitch is off and it sounds distorted. Well, that’s what she is. She is an echo of me, a distorted version of reality.

Though our experiences are very similar, they are not the same. Instead, she is the ‘me’ I could’ve been had I made different decisions. She is a creative way for me to revisit my regrets without permanent damage to my current lifestyle. I suppose there is still enough of me in her to make you call this story autobiographical, but I would argue that you’re wrong. Some of my real life and real decisions will be stealthily woven into the story. After all, without the real lead up, how can you revisit the regret? You can’t. You have to have the truth to create fiction.

 

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Lucy

I do not look like a Lucy. I know this because everyone is always telling me “You do not look like a Lucy.” Even my parents, as if it’s somehow my fault they named me incorrectly. They could have gone with Lucille that might have worked. But no, they had to go with Lucy. I once considered legally changing my name to Lucille, or even becoming a Jolene or an Emily, but I’ve stubbornly held on to Lucy just out of spite.

I am not petite like the name would suggest. I stand tall and straight at 5’9 and I am definitely not thin, my diet of burgers and beer have thickened my waistline and fleshed out my cheeks and it is only the Zumba classes I take three times a week that stop me from becoming completely round. I do not have blonde locks and there are no strawberry tones in my hair. In fact, my hair is a rather dull ash brown with no sparkle or glimmer added and I always wear it pulled back in the same mid-length pony tail, never high enough to suggest any kind of perkiness and never so low as to appear lazy.

My features are not pretty or even unusual. They are just simple features, not even plain and simple as plain might at least be interesting. Eyes, a nose, and lips all nothing special. One summer I got freckles which sent me over the moon but it never happened again.

I don’t have an “easy manner” and I am absolutely horrid at telling jokes. I usually forget the punchline or invert the words and I always end up laughing hysterically to myself before even finishing telling the joke which inevitably leads to letdown. Apparently the joke is never as funny as I think it is.

And even worse than my joke telling talents are my small talk skills.

I loathe small talk and envy to the point of disdain people who are good at having conversations about nothing. In my first year of university I actually carried cue cards but rather than being the endearing visual I thought it would be they just made every situation stunningly awkward, especially since I usually dropped them.

The only friend I made at university was the only person who stopped to help me pick up the cue cards. We still talk on occasion, though she is married now which somehow makes us lesser friends. There is some kind of barrier between awkward single girls and their happily married friends, a mixture of pity and envy and swirling discomfort that just makes it impossible to stay close.

But back to the inappropriateness of my name. Lucy.

In high school, when I got a job and was finally able to buy my own clothes, I went through an uncomfortable gothic punk phase, uncomfortable both because of the leather pants and doc martens, and because of how terribly awkward I was at being “edgy”. I figured if I couldn’t be the perky Lucy everyone expected at least I could be rockabilly cool. I was desperate to be the next Betty Page or … I actually don’t know any of the names of famous pin up girls aside from Betty Page.

The phase didn’t last long though I often think of it fondly.

Still I am a happy woman despite my misleading name and my social ineptitude.

Tonight I am even going on a date with a man I met online, Jamie Wardman. Jamie works in IT for a company I have never heard of but immediately Googled. He is thirty three which makes me wonder why he is still single (though at thirty one I suppose I shouldn’t judge) but he has a nice smile and, judging by his profile pictures, likes to wear plaid.

I love a man in plaid.

It is our first date and we are meeting for dinner at a brew pub close to my home. The location was a complete coincidence as Jamie does not know where I live (I hope) and I wholeheartedly approve of the choice.

More than I love a man in plaid I love a man who can appreciate a good brew pub.

We have been talking for weeks and I am actually looking forward to the date quite a bit. I have even memorized some conversation pieces, nothing too heavy like religion or politics and nothing too broad like sports or the weather, but a few gems I picked up while doing quizzes on Buzzfeed. Cute facts I can throw out into the conversation (“Did you know that platypus are actually poisonous?”) to make myself seem both knowledgeable and worldly.

I even printed off our emails for study earlier today, going over and over what we’ve talked about and analyzing each punctuation mark for its significance (He said: “I am looking forward to our date!”, that has to be good).

In short I am so ready for this.

I arrive right on time never quite sure of the protocol on first dates. Is it best to arrive first and be already seated when he arrives? Or should I breeze in a few minutes late to exude a busy and not-too-eager air?

Jamie is there, seated at a table near the back. He looks nervous and is fidgeting a bit. I smile and wait for his eyes to fall on me, walking towards him.

Finally we make eye contact and he half stands before frowning slightly, not his lips mind you, just that slight furrowing of the brow when you are thinking hard. I make it to the table before he has to decide whether or not to stand up.

I stealthily wipe my hand on my coat as I fold it before reaching over to shake his hand. There is nothing worse than sweaty palms.

“Hi Jamie,” I say as I take a seat. There is already water in front of us and I wonder how long he has been here and am thankful that I did not try to arrive early. That would have been awkward, both of us arriving ages before the date even starts.

Jamie shifts in his seat bumping into the table as he does and causing the water to slosh in the glasses. He flushes a deep red and stammers a quiet apology. I feel myself smiling.

This is why he is single.

My heart sings, he is like me!

After a few stops and starts the conversation finally starts to flow and it is like our email conversations, polite and exuberant. Jamie loves my facts about platypus and he tells a charming anecdote about his attempt at home brewing a nice Berliner Weisse.

“I would love to try it one day”, I tell him while attempting a coy smile that my subconscious is sure looks like the Station Inspector’s smiles from the movie ‘Hugo’, ill-fitted and slightly disturbing. I tell my sub-conscious to can it.

He smiles back.

At the end of the date we slowly walk towards to door of the pub, he puts his hand on the small of my back then pulls it back, then puts it there again.

Finally when we are outside the pub he looks at me and smiles.

“You do notlook like a Lucy.” Jamie says and my smile begins to falter. “I am so glad.” He whispers, leaning in for a soft kiss.

For the first time in thirty one years I am thrilled to not look like a Lucy.

Good Things

Good things don’t come to those who wait; they come to those who take initiative, those who are restless in the pursuit of happiness and who are not afraid to fail. Good things come to those who get up when they fall, who don’t fear life and living, those who jump in before testing the waters.

Good things are often masked behind mistakes and rash decisions, and they sometimes take a while to fully form – the silver lining on the rainbow – but they only come to those who pursue them like an eager suitor.

Those who wait for good things to come to them are often left stood up.

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a slight incident with bleach, pt. 2

Part 2 of 4. Click here for part one.

I have never been very good at making smart decisions. Mind you, I do try and I always start off with the best of intentions, but my kind of smart decisions always end badly. For example, deciding to dye my hair as part of my ‘new personality’.

To understand why this is a bad thing you need to develop a proper picture of me inside your head. Now, after reading up to this point you can already see my body type: fat. As a size fourteen, bordering on a size sixteen, I was a pretty ample woman. My ass should’ve been granted its own postal code, my legs rubbed together whenever I walked, and my stomach jiggled when I laughed.

I had the potential to be pretty. My eyes were a dark chocolate brown, large and inviting. People had always told me that I had warm eyes. I had the coveted type of perfect brows that never needed to be plucked or shaped. My mouth was average but despite the plumpness of my face my cheekbones were still pretty prominent. Even skinny I would never be stunning, but I certainly could’ve turned heads.

But that was not all. My one perfect feature, literally my crowning glory, was my thick ash brown hair. My hair had just the right amount of curl and bounce, with a natural sheen that belonged in Clairol commercials. I had always been proud of my hair.

Which leads me to my next point. Insanity.

What other reason would I have had to take a box of peroxide bleach to my gorgeous, gorgeous hair? I had been aiming for a nice golden sheen, a touch of lightness. Instead I got white.

My hair was white.

It was a disaster. My hair was a metallic, brassy white that left me looking like a strung out cocaine addict. A fat strung out cocaine addict. Now there’s an oxymoron.

And to make matters worse the damage went beyond the colour. Gone was my lush curl and playful bounce. Instead I was left with coarse, brassy white hair.

What possessed me next I still have no idea.

Instead of doing the sensible thing and immediately buying a box of brown dye to fix this disaster, I walked calmly to the bathroom and retrieved the scissors. Like a madwoman I chopped off lengths of hair. I angled it down (unintentionally) from the back to the front, taking off inch after inch of damaged hair.

When I finally stopped it was a full minute before the tears started. To me, at this moment, this was far more damaging than vomiting had ever been.

By some miracle the hair cut was actually quite even and the parts that weren’t at least looked like they were meant to be choppy.

Finally, when the dehydration from too many tears kicked in, my body aching from the force of my sobs, I stopped and stared in the mirror.

A strangled laugh escaped my lips, the sound completely foreign to me (I had not laughed in a long time).

I had accomplished one thing. This definitely was a whole new me.

Next I sold my car to an old man who pinched my ass and called me Daisy. (I believe he was referring to a cow, not the flower). Considering I live in the Prairies this was a stupid thing to do, but it was still a few months before the snow would set in and I would deal with that when it came to it.

I worked exactly 10 minutes away from my home by car. By foot it was a 45 minute walk. It took a lot of effort those first few days, dragging myself out of bed earlier than before (who knew the sun rose at 5am!) and forcing myself to walk those 45 minutes. This was the new me, I kept reassuring myself. The new me, complete with white, brassy hair, enjoyed walking.

The old me hated the new me.

In fact, the new me hated the new me a bit too.

You may be wondering what this has to do with anything. After all, the title of my story is “a slight incident with bleach” (please, no caps). Obviously that refers to my new hair. But it’s so much more than that. My white hair was the catalyst for everything that happened over the next two weeks which in turn was the catalyst for everything that has happened since.

You may think I’m overreacting, but I would swear on my own grandmother’s grave that everything that has happened, every detail no matter how large or small, happened because I didn’t watch the clock and let that peroxide sit far longer than it should have.

My life is completely changed and my hair is completely white because of a bottle of peroxide and distraction caused by a Pinterest addiction.

Casual Interest

I sent the Friend Request three and a half days ago.

The first day I checked my phone every half hour while I was awake eagerly waiting for the notification that he had accepted my request, butterflies filling my stomach and a constant knot of worry in my throat, insecurity mingling with excitement.

On the second day I reasoned that he must have been “unplugged” that first day (which is so admirable and obviously marks him as very down to earth), and I checked my phone every hour while I was awake trying to follow his example of “less screen time”.

Towards the end of the day the knot grew bigger and the butterflies all died, one at a time and slowly leaving a sick feeling of dread in my stomach.

Now, partway through day four, I am assuming he is dead. His untimely demise sudden and cruel, robbing us of the inevitable future we were to have (marriage within the year, two kids after five years of bliss, and a lasting love peppered with occasional bitterness and resentment). I keep looking at his friend’s Time Lines to see if his death has been announced yet or if there is a Memorial Page I can join.

So far there is nothing.

I suppose it is his loss, but I can’t help but dissecting every moment of our encounter.

Lucas and I met at a party and even though I hate the name Lucas I fell pretty hard. Originally he was talking to my roommate but I think she is too pretty for him so he didn’t last long in that conversation. Obviously he noticed the discrepancy in their looks, she is a knockout.

After an hour or so of mingling he made his way over to me we chatted over beers. He was drinking a nice Stout and though all of his beer facts were wrong – I should know, I brew my own – he was still endearingly pretentious about it.

I flipped my hair once and told him some wry jokes, always maintaining a half smile so as not to appear too eager but also not wanting to project disinterest. This is a look I have perfected after hours and hours spent starring into mirrors and really any reflective surface in my home. Sometime before parties I even practice in the camera on my cell phone. You know, just to make sure my expertise has not waned.

Lucas seemed really into me, touching my arm twice, brushing a lock of hair behind my ear, and even telling me he was really into me.

I don’t think I read the signs wrong, but perhaps I will ask my roommate. She is good with men.

Still, into me or not, it has been four days and he has not responded to my friend request. I should give up and pretend that I haven’t already picked out the colours for our fall wedding, but I meet so few men these days it seems a shame to give up.

I have been invited to another party on Friday and I have a feeling Lucas will be there. Perhaps until then I will practice being casual?

Casual. I can do casual.

I hit refresh one more time on the screen and sigh at the lack of notifications.

 

a slight incident with bleach, pt. 1

Part 1 of 4.

It’s an addictive feeling, the tickling of fingers at the back of your throat. The air that comes up before the bile hurts a bit but the release you feel as your stomach empties is almost euphoric.

The first time I made myself throw up was disgusting. Vomit coated my hand and the site of half chewed McDonalds fries floating around in the toilet emptied the rest of my stomach without the aid of my fingers. I sat there on the bathroom floor with tears streaming down my face in shame. The shame hurts worse than the vomiting.

After the first experience it was several months before I tried it again. I can’t begin to tell you when it became a habit. It was just something I did after too much junk food or after stuffing my face with that second or third helping.

In the span of five years I’ve done it less than thirty times. That’s not so bad. It’s less than once a month. It wasn’t until I moved out on my own that it started up regularly. And even then it wasn’t my fault. After eating I would start to get a heavy feeling deep in my stomach. It kept me up at night and made me feel absolutely revolting until I purged myself. The relief that came each time was where the addiction began.

There is something extremely satisfying about being able to eat that double cheeseburger or chow down an entire bag of Salt n Vinegar chips all the while knowing at least half of it isn’t going to “complete the journey” as it were.

It did not make me skinnier and that was not why I did it. Not really. I didn’t have the dedication of a bulimic and nor did I want to develop it. And I couldn’t purge after every meal, only when that heavy feeling settled into my stomach. It also wasn’t something I set my mind to. It was just an addiction that grew stronger each time. A release and a relief granted every so often.

The verdict was still out in my mind as to whether or not I was fat. Sometimes I could look at myself, all 200lbs and think that I was the most gorgeous woman in the world. I had wide brown eyes and perfect brows. I was also tall, so while I still looked a bit chunky I could at least carry the extra weight with dignity.

It was the other days, the days where the heavy feeling set in, I looked in the mirror and saw Shamu. How could I have let myself get to this point? Did I not have any self-restraint? Did I not have any self-respect?

The truth was I didn’t.

I never knew why there was such an emphasis on being a size four, but I wanted to be one. It was ridiculous. After all, size fourteen is just a four with an extra ten. Or it could be two sevens. Two sevens sounds much better than fourteen.

And size fourteen is actually quite average. Granted, the average North American is grotesquely overweight, but average is still average. Isn’t it the same as the grade curve in college? If everyone is at the same level shouldn’t that be the level that people aim for?

Of course not.

I had other addictions too. Coca Cola, a drink I didn’t even really like. I drank cans and cans of it, never really enjoying it but still not able to stop drinking. And fuzzy peaches were another one. Now that addiction I liked. The sweet and sour taste that makes your mouth water, God it was delicious. If I let myself I could eat and eat those luscious candies until my mouth bled. They were my biggest weakness.

I had never been one for McDonalds until I got a car. But food ordered through the drive-through tastes so much better. I always hated ordering in the store, limiting myself to a single snack wrap and no fries, perhaps a small coke if it was hot out. Now by going through the drive-through I could eat a Big Mac, a large fries and a milk shake. It’s easier to pig out when you don’t have to face a restaurant full of people who could be judging you. When you order through a machine there is no shame.

I didn’t even notice the weight packing on again until I tried to put on my summer pants. Had my ass really grown that large? How was it even possible that my gut had expanded over my toes? I was disgusting.

It’s quite a vicious cycle. The more disgusting you become the more you eat. And, in my case, the more you eat the more you vomit.

I suppose my addiction could be compared to bulimia, though I will still deny that. Aren’t bulimics supposed to lose weight? Besides, I know we’ve already established that I don’t have the dedication for bulimia, but if I was going to continue making myself sick, shouldn’t I at least benefit from it?

I would like to stop this story right here. End it now and say that I am really smarter than that. Instead of resorting to the easy way out with diet pills and purging I made smart choices. I changed my lifestyle, began to exercise more and slowly eliminated the foods that caused me to balloon. I would like to say all that … but I can’t.

Instead, I have to tell you that the first thing I did when my pants didn’t fit was walk to the drug store (this sounds better than it actually is, the store is literally 54 steps from my back door) and buy a package of Slim Quick Cleanse.

I was so excited about my new ‘journey to lose weight’. I loaded my iPod with all kinds of inspirational tunes and went to LuLu Lemon to buy some proper and drastically overpriced exercise clothes. Slim Quick Cleanse promises to help you jump start your weight loss and I am sure it works if you follow the plan.

I didn’t and it didn’t work for me. You see, the plan consisted of a strict meal plan and an exercise routine that grew more difficult each day, designed to challenge the user. This was not what I had signed up for. I wanted an easy way out. A quick fix. Purging wasn’t really doing it for me and I was far too lazy for real exercise.

So instead I took the pills and failed miserably. The only thing I did right during the seven day cleanse was drinking plenty of water. I didn’t feel any better, and I ended the cleanse still fat with the added bonus of a stomach ache and frequent bathroom visits.

Three weeks after doing the cleanse I was back to where I started. My hair tied back with one arm clutching the porcelain throne and the other shoved down my throat, fingers tickling my tonsils. The addictive rush was still there but the shame came back tenfold.

This was truly disgusting. It was one thing to be fat, but it was another thing to be lying on your own bathroom floor, your arm covered in bile because you couldn’t bring your hand out fast enough. This was the rock bottom I had been careening towards for the last five years, though I couldn’t have known it back then (or, at least I had ignored the signs).

This was the moment where everything began. I hadn’t decided to change my life, that would have been far too mundane. No, I had decided to scrap everything all together. This moment, this perfect and disgusting moment, I decided to become someone else altogether. Out with the old and in with the new. Isn’t that how it goes?

And so it begins.