and rainwater is the nectar on which i cradle my temples, praying, praying for just the peace of mind their pulsing can never imagine. and the rain carries me thousands of miles away. and to think that this prayer would never share our lips if we were only the thousandth of a second next to each other. because prayers are the words i feel cooling my veins in surprising summer storms. and here they are, the strongest form of trust i can give you as these same veins are pressed up against your teeth because from them would not spill life if you so chose but secrets. but these secrets are life’s plotlines because without them we would have no connection. because without them i would not have lived and be a full-bodied form that cannot even stand before you now. but instead i sleep. and i sleep in hopes that one day, our rivers of rain will chance upon each other.
but the rain beats harder now, drowning any chance of your ribcage filled with air.
it was a drug by any technical definition and i lapped it up greedily, lapping around tracks, stealing time as i ran miles to nowhere. but was i running to gain time or out of it? every rush of endorphins was a reminder and forgetting all in one: a reminder of where i could go and a way of forgetting where i had been. but when did forgetting become obsession, with every hundredth of a mile a ticking time bomb? when did i stop running and when did those thoughts start racing through my head on my own.
i’m staring down at a spoonful of peanut butter i can’t even face and i’m scared.
To believe in oneself when
No one believes you.
In the same breath that you had told me that you had always loved her, always would love her, I dramatically declared my love for a friend. This became one of those statements that I had gotten used to making that summer, one of those sentences that I could only tell myself was true.
And I had hoped that it had stung. And yet for someone so weak you had developed either a tough skin or a tough mind to get through to.
But of course this meant you had tough words too. Tough words that seduced me again, so that I would up right where we began all the other times. Tough words that wouldn’t take a simple no.
You had birth control, you had said. That’s what you called it at least. I called it a last resort. You didn’t realize that this wasn’t safe even as I lay in your bed with all of the worst case scenarios flying through my head. You nudged and begged even more for anything, even if it wasn’t sex. You knew you were pushing me past my boundaries to a place we never should have ventured.
Finally you gave up. “Well, if you don’t want one in your mouth you’re not going to want one inside of you.”
There are words that bite. There are words that strike right where they shouldn’t. Words that are so artfully shot at their bulls-eye. But these words were parasites, digging themselves holes in my brain where they could sleep until I wanted them to leave. These were the words that would remain with me much longer than moans or declarations of how incredible I was.
These were the first words a therapist would hear indirectly from you a year and a half later. These were words that landed me in her office in the first place.
There would be more words to come. Words that would be thrown at me like coercion, manipulation, and emotional abuse. But the heaviest allegation was yet to come, and yet these are the words that I could never say to either you or myself.
And I sit here, looking back on months of notes about this whole affair and I remember thinking that maybe, maybe just by writing everything out I would understand what had happened between us.
But now I sit here and think: What have I become after this? What have you become, besides the monster inside my memories and nightmares? And where has this, this thought experiment, where has it led me?
stop writing him and breathe life into someone new
someone whose every movement falls easily into poetry
stop breathing life into someone who is already dead and trying to drag you down with him
with his knuckles wrapped tight around your ankles
begging the only living flesh off of you
stop writing the one no longer living because there isn’t a life to be imagined
and no combination of words can build this future, build his innocence
because in order to be built there needs to be sticks and stones and the strength of our bones
and not just the broken words in our foundation
stop breathing life into him, because that’s the life you have left
stop breathing life into him before you have nothing left to breathe.
And I’ve written you so many letters that have finally slipped through my fingers in shreds. These were the first batch written in the early breaths of our morning, still in memory of the evenings we had spent together. These were letters tangled in your lips, your thighs, your secrets. And finally I sent you the one that darted around all of our issues at 4 in the morning. Your words have racked my mind, and my calm was eaten in insomnia.
“Let’s meet up and talk about it,” you initiated.
My mind was racing me down three miles to Union Square in the rain. I stood in your arms drenched through, walking on puddles, practically on the bare skin. You placed your fist near by heart right under my ribs. My heart slowed down in anticipation.
And for some reason, this was the most intimacy I had ever felt.
Somehow we fell into it. Somehow we took the role of the rain against your summer-warm windows, as if it were the end of everything. And yet we were in control, we had every moment slowed down to our will.
But at one point we shattered. At one point you declared your love for someone else, even after I had laid my trust in front of you. “I think there’s always going to be a part of me that belongs to her.”
You couldn’t see the thrashing of my mind that night, but everything I saw was shaded. I lied to myself the next morning saying that the bruises were worth it, and that they ached so deliciously, but in the next few months I would only realize how much they could hurt.
And just like that you had caught me in the grip of your teeth. I was dangerously teetering on the edge of safety, and yet the pressure on my throat was enthralling.
I wasn’t the prettiest girl you had had in this position (according to you). I wasn’t the most splendid, or the smartest. And yet right now hearing a faint sigh or giggle from me was all you could care about.
And how had I come this far? How had I made these decisions with you? Perhaps you were behaving like a perfect gentleman. Paying for cabs, rushing me home mysteriously at two in the morning, wind screaming in our ears, and wasn’t this a song, a poem for us? You would never make the connection, but for me this song from years ago would come back and haunt me in the most innocent of situations.
You kissed me in front of my door, something I’d never let you do years ago. But now you were the proper gentleman I would never let you be back then.
This would be the perfect ending to a date, but what were we?
“If it was going to stress you out you didn’t have to come.”
Didn’t have to come. You didn’t want me there and every bead of sweat making it’s way down my back with anxiety made my heart burst out of my chest. I was set up for emotions
“But…I wanted to.” I had wanted to. I had wanted to see if everything that had happened the last time was just my imagination, if the early heat waves of June had polluted my memory and judgement. But your fingers still pressed their way into my shoulder blades with such accuracy.
You welcomed me inside, and I faced a crowd. Sometimes, you know, my breathing gets heavy with all of your people. And there they were, talking as if they had so much wisdom that only 365 extra days could hold. And I panicked. I never knew what a panic attack felt like, and I could only count myself lucky that I didn’t.
But the fact that I removed myself upstairs to read War and Peace, and willed myself to read French, a language I never knew, was probably a bad sign.
And all I could see were possibilities. The possibility of you and that girl, that girl I always found sallow and distant. The possibility of losing something I had only so swiftly gained. I could barely feel your fingerprints before you placed your hands on her.
I only found myself in the company of false friends until you came to lend your hand. I don’t remember what we talked about exactly, it was just one of the moments where there are no holds on anything, no holds on words, tears, and as you soon founds out, even kisses.
You offered to close the door. And just like that we were no longer to the confines of you ripping holes in your sheets in frustration.
And yet, wasn’t the anxiety supposed to come after the beginning? And yet, why could I only feel my sandpaper mouth and neuroses bubbling in the back of my throat?
With this many terrible signs this early on, it’s a wonder we even tried at all.
Anonymous asked: Hi, I was wondering if you folks had any resources that describe different grieving processes people go through? I think most everyone has heard of the ‘stages’ process (anger, denial, bargaining etc.), but it’d be awesome to have something that goes into greater detail about it, or offers some sort of alternative. :)
The stages of grief are actually pretty standard. There’s really no need to search beyond them for alternative methods of examining grief, though of course you may look into the books in our further reading section for more strategies for understanding and coping with loss.
We, however, are going to focus on the Five Stages of Grief, also known as the Kübler-Ross Model. For the record, these stages are:
- Denial. Blankness, numbness, disbelief.
- Anger. A sense of betrayal, of abandonment. Maybe blaming oneself, others, or even the deceased for the loss.
- Bargaining. Trying to reason away the loss or else buy a respite from it.
- Depression. The full weight of the loss. Desolation, heaviness, terrible sadness.
- Acceptance. The loss is a part of the self. Internalization, incorporation, moving on.
This list isn’t meant to represent the proper emotional journey of grief. There is no normal way to grieve. These stages may be of uneven length or create a loop to repeat until there is some epiphany and the sufferer can move past it; some stages may come out of order or not at all. But mostly, this is a pretty decent angle at which to start examining grief.
It’s easy to look at those five stages and think of a list like that as limiting, boring even. Each grieving process will be unique to the character going through it, as will the feelings and actions of the character at each stage. Characters exhibit grief in myriad ways. They are not limited by the most obvious clichés of denial or depression.
- A gritty, hardened character can beg and sob and be overcome with fear of a life without the object of their grief.
- A timid character might cope by being the shoulder for others to cry on as they deal with their loss; they may gain closure by affecting strength until they actually feel strong.
- A sexual character might do exactly as one would expect and lose himself in the arms of another.
And, of course, there is everything in between. Messing with the reader’s expectations for a character’s reaction can yield powerful results. As John Green wrote in The Fault in Our Stars, “Grief does not change you, Hazel. It reveals you.”
Here are some assorted tips and observations on writing grief. Do with them what you will, but remember that these are not universal:
- Strength and weakness are relative terms. The distinction, for instance, between crying as a testament to the strength of a bond between two characters and crying as a method of making others feel sorry for a character’s loss is palpable. Decide for each character what constitutes “strength” and “weakness” and show the reader the difference. Grief is a good time to do this because it is typically a process where a character’s true colors are bound to show themselves eventually, even if they try to hide their suffering or their process is more nuanced than other characters’.
- Grief can come with nostalgia. A grieving character may look with a kinder eye on memories that include the person they have lost. They might long for those days, focus on them to the detriment of their present and the people in it. They might put the deceased character up on a pedestal, refuse to hear anything negative about them, or decide that their not-so-great experiences with that character were actually better than they’d remembered.
- Memory loss isn’t uncommon. When a character is first told about the death of another character, he might enter a state of shock. While in this state, the character might be so overcome or so numb that he cannot recall later what he said or did while in that state. He might not even remember that the other character has died. You can read a bit more about this here.
- Loss makes people uncomfortable. Like, really uncomfortable. When characters who are not grieving or who are grieving to a lesser extent encounter a character who is very much in mourning, they are often afraid to say or do the wrong thing and cause more pain. It is awkward to say the least.
Characters may not know how to treat a grieving character because that character isn’t behaving as he normally does, whatever that means. When you write about loss, it might be a good idea to write about how other characters perceive the grieving character, how they react to him and speak to him while he is grieving. You could tell the reader a lot about a character’s grief by describing the reactions of the characters around him.
- Grief can be stifling. It can remove a character from their routine, even make that routine seem pointless, selfish, or absurd. It can stomp on convictions, creativity, and relationships with other characters. Deadlines might be missed. Children may go uncared for. These are usually earmarks of the Depression stage of grief, and this period of apathy or listlessness might be a good way to slow the pace of the narrative you’re writing. It may create an interlude between spikes of action, sort of like the quick breath taken by swimmers before plunging again into the water.
- Grief isn’t neat. It doesn’t decline over time in a smooth slope. A character doesn’t have to recover from a loss gradually or at all. Grief isn’t something you get over; it’s something you accept. The acceptance of a loss might look more like a seismograph than a bell curve. Keep that in mind as you write. Feelings of grief may surface unexpectedly.
- How dead is dead? Did the person die right in front of the character or was the character just told of the death? If the character wasn’t present at the death can she take another person’s word for it that it even occurred? If your character could get away with denying the death even happened, would she? For how long?
The sliding scale of physical proximity to the death of another character could play a huge role in how your character will react to their death. Shock might be a more appropriate first response for witnessing a death, whereas denial is more common if the character is not physically present when the even occurs. Shock and denial tend to blend together after a while, though it’s up to you to figure out the exact measurements.
- When was this person supposed to die? Before or after the character in question? A father or grandmother is supposed to die before their daughter or grandson. This dynamic, the dynamic of perceived inevitability, could create subtle differences in the way a character copes with a loss. A character will grieve differently for a child than for a parent. The grieving process could be longer with a child because parents do not expect to witness the sudden death of their child. This dynamic might also be affected by prolonged illness. If a character who has been ill for a long time dies, the grief a character feels over the death will be different. Different how, you ask? Well, that’s up to you.
- How much death has your character seen? If your character has experienced a lot of death in her life, you can be sure that she will handle grief differently than a character feeling loss for the first time. You can play with desensitization by creating a situation where a particular death was special and triggered a pronounced grieving period. It could be a stranger or a best friend, a lover or an enemy; that death was special, and the character’s grief shows the reader a different side of him. Alternatively, a character who has never grieved before could play into expectations by mourning deeply or freak the reader out with a minimal reaction to death. And everything in between.
- Rituals can help some people cope with loss and may disgust others. Many people mourning a loss have expressed feelings of comfort and closure connected with carrying out the religious rituals associated with the death of a loved one. Other people find no solace in ceremony and prefer to grieve in their own way. In either case, it’s good to know about these rituals because they tend to encourage behaviors that might be useful to apply to your characters. Check out an overview of some death rituals at these links:
- The surprising twist is not always stronger than the expected reaction. Sometimes the reader just wants the character to be plain ole sad, to mourn as they mourn the death, to be the cliché. You don’t always have to write the jarring, betcha-didn’t-see-that-coming reactions and emotions for your characters. Sometimes the common sadness, the anger, the fear of the unknown that humans tend to feel in response to a death is enough. There’s something to be said for tapping into the universally-acknowledged emotions people feel as they grieve. Again, how to interpret this advice and when to use it is solely your decision.
There is obviously a lot more we could say on grief, both in coping with loss and in writing it, but that ought to get you started.
Here are some links to further online reading:
- Severe Shock Causes Memory Loss
- Coping with Loss and Grief
- Grief and Grieving: The Process of Accepting Loss
- Elisabeth Kübler-Ross
- Wikipedia: Grief
- Grief and Grieving - Topic Overview
- Coping With Grief
- For Children and Teens: Death and Grief
- On Killing Characters
And here are some book lists on this subject:
- Best Books About Grief (GoodReads)
- Recovering from Grief and Loss (GoodReads)
- Best Books About Grief and Grieving (GoodReads)
- Popular Grief And Loss Books (GoodReads)
- Best Books on Grief and Grieving (Amazon)
- Excellent Books on Grief and Loss (Amazon)
Thank you for your question! If you have anything to add or any further questions, please hit up our ask box!
Leave a “Amuse Me” in my ask, and I will write a funny drabble about one character trying to cheer another up.
Leave a “Break Me” in my ask, and I will write an angsty drabble.
Leave a “Call Me” in my ask, and I will write a drabble about one character asking for another [be it at the brink of death/in a battlefield/knocking on the front door wounded, feel free to specify.]
Leave a “Drink Me” in my ask, and I will write a drabble about characters drinking, alone or with each other.
Leave a “Enamor Me” in my ask, and I will write a fluffy drabble characters trying to woo one another [be it out of the blue/Valentines Day, feel free to specify.]
Leave a “Fight Me” in my ask, and I will write a drabble out one character fighting with/or against another.
Leave a “Get Me” in my ask, and I will write a drabble about one character saving another.
Leave a “Haunt Me” in my ask, and I’ll write a drabble about one character watching over another [as a ghost, watching from a distance, or otherwise, feel free to specify.]
Leave a “Invite Me” in my ask, and I’ll write a drabble about one character asking another character to join them.
Leave a “Join Me” in my ask, and I’ll write a drabble about one character giving another character an offer [be it a proposal for an alliance, asking them to join them in an activity (you can get dirty if you want), feel free to specify.]
Leave a “Kill Me” in my ask, and I’ll write a drabble about one character killing another.
Leave a “Love Me” in my ask, and I’ll write a fluffy drabble about two (or more) characters.
Leave a “Mourn Me” in my ask, and I’ll write a drabble about one character mourning another character’s death.
Leave a “Nurse Me” in my ask, and I’ll write a drabble about one character healing another.
Leave a “Offer Me” in my ask, and I’ll write a drabble about one character giving another a gift.
Leave a “Paint Me” in my ask, and I’ll write a drabble about one character drawing a picture of another [like one of your french girls~ be it painting them or drawing them, maybe offering a picture of them as a gift, feel free to specify.]
Leave a “Quiet Me” in my ask, and I’ll write a drabble about one character trying to calm another down [be it from crying, from lashing out, feel free to specify.]
Leave a “Remember Me” in my ask, and I’ll write a drabble about one character trying to get another to remember them [be it from an accident, meeting them after years apart, feel free to specify.]
Leave a “Tell Me” in my ask, and I’ll write a drabble about one character confessing something to another [be it a love confession, a secret, feel free to specify.]
Leave a “Unbind Me” in my ask, and I’ll write a drabble about one character freeing another, or the other way around, or something among the lines [be it freeing them from jail, from handcuffs, from a trap, from a curse, feel free to specify.]
Leave a “Value Me” in my ask, and I’ll write a drabble about one character telling another how they feel about them.
Leave a “Wed Me” in my ask, and I’ll write a drabble about a character under the subject of wedlock [be it characters proposing to or marrying another, feel free to specify.]
Leave a “X Me” in my ask, and I will write whatever it is that you wish, [specify.]
Leave an “Yahoo Me” in my ask, and I’ll write a drabble about the specified characters celebrating something [feel free to specify.]
Leave an “Zip Me” in my ask, and I’ll write a drabble about one character dressing another, or the other way around [this can also be used for shutting them up as well, but feel free to specify.]
I’ve had writer’s block like nobody’s business the last few weeks, and I adore these prompts so I would be super grateful if you all would send me a few! Specify any characters from my fandoms (or hell, something else even if you think I know it), or leave them for me to choose if you like. Pretty please?
This sounds like a great exercise and I’d super appreciate some prompts! I’ll try to actually do them, too!