A Recovery Blog

This blog is about my continuing recovery from severe mental illness. I celebrate this recovery by continuing to write, by sharing my music and artwork and by exploring Buddhist ideas and concepts. I claim that the yin/yang symbol is representative of all of us because I have found that even in the midst of acute psychosis there is still sense, method and even a kind of balance. We are more resilient than we think. We can cross beyond the edge of the sane world and return to tell the tale. A deeper kind of balance takes hold when we get honest, when we reach out for help, when we tell our stories.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Short Story Excerpt: "Mary and Jake"

Today has been a very productive day for me.  I started drinking coffee early this morning and began to work on "Cold Comfort" then I took a break and started thinking of another segment of my autobiographical novel.  This excerpt is about me as Mary Kelly and a boy I grew up with in Brooklyn.  I am so happy that I may have found my calling because these stories are coming out of me quickly and easily.  It's been a long time coming.  I wrote several short stories in high school, but since then very little. Now, after almost half a century of living, I feel as if I have something to say and a way to say it.  I know this creative streak won't last, but while it's here I will enjoy it.  The hard part is sticking with it for me.  I have a pattern, as you know if you've kept track of this blog, with starting creative endeavors very enthusiastically and then losing interest after a month or two.  What I want above all is to be dedicated and to have a good purpose in life.  This might be it.  God I hope so.  I've been drifting for so long now.

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"Mary & Jake"

Mary Kelly's parents had given her her own phone earlier that year.  So when the phone rang and woke her out of her sleep, she thought it was probably one of her friends, but instead a male voice said slowly and precisely, "I have an aching stick I want to put inside you."  There was a slight pause and then a click and then a dial tone.  The caller had tried to disguise his voice, but Mary knew who it was.  It was Jake Markowsky and it was his sweet sixteenth birthday.  He was probably drunk.  She couldn't imagine him making an obscene phone call to her while he was straight.  But, to Mary, his call wasn't obscene at all, even the language was gentle.  She felt an instant empathy for him.  She knew what it was like to sexually yearn for someone who was unavailable.  She had had a crush on him for years.  They almost became a couple when they were only twelve, but she had pulled away and let him go.  There had been too many available girls and not enough boys which made Mary feel badly about all the attention she had been getting in 7th grade.  That and her best friend Amy, who had gone out with Jake in 5th grade, still had a crush on him and Mary felt torn between having a boyfriend and having a best friend.  She chose the best friend mainly because Jake had not come forward enough, had not fully claimed her.  They were very young and Jake was still obsessed by his childhood love of sports.  If he had to choose between hanging out and playing basketball with his friends or getting his courage up to ask Mary out, he obviously chose the former.  He wasn't yet ready for the real deal, so he settled for a puppy love that fizzled out as Mary gave him the cold shoulder the next year.  The year after that they went their separate ways, she to a private school in Manhattan and he to Brooklyn Technical High School, which she later found out that he had hated; he wound up going to a private school called Friends in Brooklyn.

But here he was calling her up a couple of years later, not to ask her out, but to perversely ease his sexual frustration.  A weird kind of birthday gift to himself.  Mary had the urge to call him up right away at his parents' house, but what could she say to him, "Jake, did you just make an obscene phone call to me?"  She hadn't talked to him or seen him in a long time and she wasn't close to his family.  She didn't even think to call and wish him a happy birthday.  It just didn't work.  He had set them both up to fail by not coming clean to her, by not telling her that he still thought about her, still wanted to know her.  Mary thought about the call for several days.  It was bittersweet, sweet because she now knew that he was attracted to her, but bitter because she was pretty sure nothing would come of it.  He lived really close by, the next block down, but she avoided walking past his house ever since she had started high school.  That was her personality, to let people go and to avoid emotional conflict at all costs.  That and she was an awkward, self-conscious teenager who liked to pretend she was at least partially "cool", a weird kind of cool perhaps, but worthy of a certain amount of courtesy, even courtship.  She knew Jake wouldn't court her properly, instead he'd call her by her last name and nervously poke fun at her.  That's the way it was with the guys, they'd get into ranking each other out and then ranking the girls out, anything for a laugh and to get out of saying plainly:  hey, I like you, would you be my girl?  So, yes, Mary was disappointed with Jake, but she was also disappointed in herself.  It was the mid 1970s and feminism was still flowering.  She thought she should have had the courage to ask him out, the courage to at least walk by his house and say hi to him, but she was stubborn and maybe even a bit lazy.  Too much time had gone by and instead of hanging out in the neighborhood in Brooklyn, she was hanging out with a close friend in Greenwich Village after school and on the week-ends.

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Okay, that's it for today.  I don't think this piece is as strong as "Cold Comfort" mainly because it is autobiographical and I seem to be doing the telling thing instead of the showing thing.  But shit, it's a first draft and it gives me something to work with in the future.  So I'm very happy.  May it last....
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