Sydnei. Mumford











{04/04/2014}   Battell Park

Girl on a hill of concrete

the strange impasses we make

The water that weeps

The headphones tucked deep in her ears

Dyed hair she thought would erase those fears

Of being who she thought she really was

But she knows they’ll still stare

No comfort from the long night

or her kitchen knife

The voices that tell her it’s alright

It’s a “long and winding road”

to who she wants to be

 

Sitting here, further down;

along the river

4 years older; a little wiser; definitely fatter;

with natural hair

I realize

it’s not her I write about

But me; what feels like a lifetime ago

lost to the world.. at 13.

 



The Day I Stopped Searching for a Ghost

The other day as my family and I were driving down a country road my little sister Johanna asked, “Can I see Uncle Dan’s shoes?”

It caught us all by surprise because my Uncle Dan, my father’s brother, has been dead for 18 years.  Dan had jumped from the Golden Gate Bridge killing himself on June 24th, 1995, a little less than a year before I was born. His purple Birkenstock sandals were found on the bridge, his car parked nearby.

My mother and I had told Johanna about how Dan died because she had asked about the origin of her middle name, Danielle. Her question caused a pang deep inside my heart; I instantly could relate to her curiosity.  When I was three I was told of Dan’s passing by my aunt. Since that day Dan’s life and death impressed an impact on me that would shape my story and transform me into an adult. Unlike my sister, who is six, I was born less than a year after his suicide when my family’s wounds were still deep and fresh. However, like her I had no tangible object that would prove Dan’s existence.  So I had set out to prove it myself.

I spent many afternoons at my grandparents’ house after elementary school, pouring over family albums and trying to glean some sort of insight.  Dan looked like a regular boy growing up in the 1970’s.  He was lanky and freckled with brown hair much like the rest of my family.  I saw pictures of Christmases, birthdays, and weddings but nothing made Dan a real person, and I decided to take my search further.

I am ashamed of it now, but I began to look through boxes in my grandparents back basement hoping to find an article of clothing he had worn or maybe even something he had written as a kid.  I was somewhat successful in my search, but by third grade I actually began to miss Dan as if I had known him.

It was a very strange feeling. I felt as if by pure will maybe I could make him come back and heal my family.  At that point in time I did not understand that I was using Dan as an excuse for the real problem in my life.  The real problem was my own mood disorder which would not be diagnosed for another five years.  There was a void in my life, and I thought it could be filled by Dan. In reality I needed medication, therapy, and most of all social contact.

Still, my life went on and I was happy, albeit unstable.  Soon I found I was turning into a woman which was awkward and scary as puberty is for most people.  Even though I was not a child anymore, I continued to hunger to know more about Dan.  I was especially interested in the period before his life ended.  What was his life like away from boring old Granger, Indiana? (He was a student at Stanford at the time of his death.) I called upon the only person I thought might give me some answers.  I did not want to ask my grandparents because I knew it would bring back an enormous amount of pain.

I used social media to contact Dan’s boyfriend, Eddie, who was perhaps the person he had been in contact with most before he died.  On a calm summer day I sat on my back stoop and dialed his number all the way out in California, the longest distance I had ever called. That day would be one of the most important days of my life.

We spoke for at least two hours as Eddie explained to me the final days of my uncle’s life.  At times we were both in tears, but when I got off the phone I felt as though years of grime and dirt had been washed away from my heart.  For a long time, I sat in the grass and gazed at the clouds realizing that I did not have to attribute my problems to something I could not control.  Dan was never coming back, and I had found that that was okay.  I could live without false hope, and finally I was free.

Today, I still face challenges, but I understand the work that needs to be done in order to overcome those issues. Dan is still a central part of my story, but I am able to see past my family’s grief for him, and realize that although I can grieve for my uncle I do not have to own everyone’s sadness.  I have never seen Dan’s purple Birkenstock sandals and I probably will never fully understand his death, but I have also learned that it is okay for me not to know.  I hold onto the fact that my relationship with Dan gave me comfort when my life was chaotic as well as a hero to idolize, however troubled. I know now that Dan was human and although he is an essential part of my story, he does not have to define my existence. Though he is gone forever, the people most important to me now are the ones who are left.



Chapter 1

“So this is what it’s come to,” she thought as she stared down the barrel of her grandmother’s shotgun. “I always knew it would.”

She straightened and addressed the creature she was about to shoot in the foot. “Get off my property! You’ve done enough, you horrible bitch.”

Tiffany Heuercherlin stood on the stone path looking at the young woman on the porch. The young woman with the gun. Her sister’s daughter. Tiffany’s eyes were wild as she searched the porch for a weapon. She had been cast out of her childhood home. Alone and angry she resolved to bully her way back in. Tiffany was used to getting what she wanted. She had never been stopped. Allowed to bully her parents into submission and turn her children into monsters like herself. Now she was standing between the only home she’d ever known and the only person who had ever stood up to her.

Tiffany spotted a two by four resting against the front bay windows. She lurched into action, first smashing the front window, further destroying the house she had already brought so much pain to.

The girl with the gun knew Tiffany was insane. She also knew Tiffany expected her not to shoot. To lie down; just like all the others. She took the safety off.

. The girl remembered every injury, every abuse, every life Tiffany had ruined. She closed her eyes and quivered. Then as if she was possessed by some other spirit; she pulled the trigger.

The barrel vibrated. The sound rang through the cornfields. The blackbirds swirled through the trees. The stray cats cowered in the broken down barn. The wind whipped and electricity crackled through the air.

The status quo had been reversed.



I wake up in the morning and before I know it I’m standing in the kitchen with a bottle of Jack that I half drank last night or some night, but maybe I didn’t and I can’t remember but it’s early in the morning and the stars are still out twinkling beyond the kitchen window that someone never closed last night. It’s cold and the Jack’s looking really inviting and so are my pills ‘cause I don’t want to be in this fucked up place anymore. I don’t want it anymore ‘cause there’s no way to escape, and in my mind I take the bottle of pills like a shot and guzzle down the Jack Daniel’s and float off into a dreamless twilight forever, but I’m really still standing there. I can hardly hear Dally snoring over the buzz of voices in my head. Voices in black cloaks, some fucked up shit I made up in my mind. They’re telling me, “Go ahead do it, do it, fuck everything and just do it. You don’t deserve to be here. Just end it all,” they whisper it seductively until they start screeching, screeching real loud and somewhere in the distance the basement door opens. I know Dally’s coming, but my feet are stuck and my arms they’re moving but not fast enough but the Jack Daniel’s is an anvil now and I can’t move it any further. Dally walks up to me and the voices are still screaming and screaming at me to off myself. Oh God, he’s with one of his goddamn friends and they’re saying something to me but I can’t hear and oh, it is so very hard to think because of the cacophony in my head until it hurts and my ears start to ring pleasantly and the world goes black and I don’t have to think at all.

When I wake up again that evening my face is in the musty den carpet that’s gone in places so it looks like a dog with mange and smells like one too. My head throbs and I roll over and see Dally’s friend laying naked in the half light. That’s when I realize my clothes are torn and I guess I know what happened, but I try not to think about it.

Regardless of the not thinking about it it’s still there and I don’t know if I know the bastard, but it’s all so fucked up I can’t tell anymore. All I know is that he hurt me in that blacked out time and space I wasn’t there, and I want him dead for that, but I get up softly wondering what’s happening again. There’s a light on in the kitchen so I limp in there ‘cause I’m kinda shaky and I don’t know where my glasses are. I see a smashed bottle of Jack Daniel’s on the floor liquid amber against the white of the tile, and I figure it must of smashed somewhere on me, but I don’t know where because every nerve ending in my body just hurts a deep aching hurt. Damn it, I just cleaned that floor I think and stoop down and start to clean. There are little white pills in the puddle, and I’m guessing Dally poured them all in there just for meanness after he smashed me with the bottle. He knows if he keeps me without my pills, and not thinking straight like this he can do anything he wants to me. My brain is all scrambled and the pills are all stuck to the floor and disintegrating and I want to take them, not all of them this time, just some of them so I feel better, but I can’t take them because they’re all ruined and shit.

Something red is splashing in the pills and booze and at first I think it’s kinda pretty. The crimson, and the golden brown with little white dots. Kinda looks like modern art. Kinda looks like the painting in the psychiatrist’s office that Dally takes me to sometimes. Sometimes is the key word; if it was all the time then I wouldn’t be so crazy and moronic and people wouldn’t think I was “special” ‘cause I’m not.

I see the adult’s whisper when I walk by at school, “Poor girl. Mom killed herself…heroin addict you know. Dad stuck in an institution…lost his brains to that new LSD. Brother’s a no good druggie. I think there’s abuse going on. Someone really should do something about it.” But they never do anything about it. And the children of these “concerned adults” are worse than anyone I’ve ever met, even Dally. They look at me like a genetic experiment, prodding me and poking me to see if they can get me to react. I am an animal in a glass cage, but I would never join them even if they gave me the chance. I am above them in so many ways.

And I keep thinking these thoughts as I’m scrubbing and the red keeps dripping from somewhere and it still looks pretty until I realize the red is coming from my head. And I think that’s a pretty cool rhyme, but it’s also not pretty cool that I’m bleeding from my head.’

That’s when the puddle of Jack stares to spin and bend back and forth mixing like wet paint. The blood streaking down my head forming pathways in the booze. It looks like the light shows we used to have so long ago when dad played gigs all over. I remember the smell of the Flo Master ink and  crowds in smoky rooms. I was usually behind the stage playing the guitar when everyone was too tripped out or drunk to remember the chords. Dad would finger sync as best as he could, which wasn’t well at all, but the audience didn’t know any better.

That was the beginning of the end. Mom, Dad, and Dally fell apart and now the leftover bits of our family are decaying and putrefying in a puddle of alcohol and violence just like my pills. I could take them now and never see this place again. Never have to live with the pain of knowing any more. I am 16 and I feel as though I have lived a thousand million years in the marsh and the desert and the tundra. All those places are one. Decaying and stinking; dry and parched; cold and blustering. All those places, this place, invite death very close. The voices in my head, one from the swamp, cloaked in black, pulls me deeper into the muck; one from the desert, lips cracked and dry ; one from the tundra, stabs icy knives at my heart. It doesn’t seem to matter what I do. Dally is sick and I am too and I can’t possibly make any of it better.

“This is your house man?” I hear in the distance. Oh, shit another friend and what the hell time is it anyway?

“Hey bitch,” that’s Dally trying to impress his friends. He’s 25 so you think he wouldn’t glean satisfaction from bossing around a 16 year old, but they are practically neanderthals so of course they think it’s hilarious.

“Hey bitch! I was talking to you!” Now he’s standing in front of me again and I think I might upchuck on his shoes so I stand up and walk away. I’m not going to answer to bitch even if it means getting hit again.

“Uhh…what’s going on? She looks hurt. Are you ok?” says the other boy. Ah! So he’s playing the sensitive, bravo I think. Really he’s not half bad looking. Kinda short with pretty eyes but he’s got atrocious hair that looks like it hasn’t been combed in a week. But who cares? If he’s hanging out with Dally he’s definitely a honest to god slime ball. I look up at the clock 2:24 A.M. the fuzzy green letters read.

“I’m going to the hospital not that you care,” I nonchalantly tell Dally as I pack my school bag. “If I go now I’ll have enough time to get to school.”

“What the hell woman? You think I’m made of money?” he shouts and his voice starts to crack.

“No one said I needed your money! I’ve got royalties.”

“So you’re just going to spend all mom and dad’s money on yourself?”

“Dude! She’s bleeding!” the other kid says indignantly. “What the hell’s gotten into you Dally?”

“Fuck off, Nick! Don’t tell me how to run my household!”

I just snort and walk towards the door. His household. That’s hilarious. I think my whole life is just some big cosmic joke. I am feeling pretty light headed but this has never stopped me before. I am what you call a frequent flyer at the hospital. They know me pretty well and disdain me just as much. We live in the growing metropolis known as Wyatt, Indiana. My parents decided to move here for fresh air and country living but they neglected to quit shooting up and tripping on acid. Consequently we were fodder for hellfire from the start.

Pretty much everyone knows what’s going on at my house. They just choose to blame it on me instead even though they hate Dally just as much. It’s one of those blame the mentally ill girl cases.  It makes me want to throw up, but I have also lost a lot of blood so you know, it could be that.

It’s not until I get out the door that I realize Nick or whatever has been following me. I turn around and he stops wide eyed like a deer. Whatever, I can’t let this guy get to me. There he is though on our rotted out porch and I have to say something so I put on my best poker face. “If you want to rape me go ahead and try, but honestly it will be pretty shitty for you because that already happened…happened…well within the last few days or something and I’m really not in the mood. I am honestly not very stable and I am going to kill then next motherfucker who does it.”  My voice cracks at kill and pretty soon I am sobbing.

He doesn’t approach me but says, “Err…do you need a ride?”

“Fuck no!” I’m yelling and snotty now. “Do you think I’m stupid?”

He doesn’t say anything and walks away. I just sink down to my knees in the gravel and lay there for a while with the rocks digging into my knees, hands and face. “How the fuck did I get here?” I think.

I hear footsteps and I hope it’s like the grim reaper or something, but it’s that kid again. He’s talking to someone, but I have no idea who that could be.

“Hey, what’s your name?”

I don’t answer.

“Ummm… I’m talking to you with your face in the gravel.”

“Emily Barnett,” I mumble.

“Date of birth?”

“What the hell? It’s 5/12/96. I don’t need your help. I’m fine. I just…” I say as I try to stand.

“It’s ok Em,” he says. “Just stay down. The ambulance is on it’s way.” When he says my name it reminds me of someone else; someone else that cared very much about me but those days are over. Still I wouldn’t mind hearing his voice again I think as I slide off into oblivion.



{31/12/2012}   Recurring Dream

I had a dream of you last night.

Us in the dark room, blind tentacles reaching for me.

Me shrinking away

Up against the wall, no where to go

Tidal wave of fear,

“No,” you disgust me.

You don’t love me,

You know I am weak

Reaching, reaching

Muscles tighten, broken strings wound too tight

The line has been blurred

between what is love and what is sickness.

And then I remember the other room

This time it’s blue

And he and I are young

And I don’t know what to do

It goes blank, was it me? was it him?

Sometimes I recall death, and sometimes love, but always I am sick

Just like I remember you sometimes

In those days I was your ghost.



{29/12/2012}   Me, Myself, and I

I am a bi-polar, brie addicted, slightly OCD  teenage girl with a wanna be badass alter ego.

Contact info: hippiechick24@comcast.net

The Twitter: @MrSydneiMumford

Photography Blog: cassandraselsor.blogspot.com



{29/12/2012}   A Little Personal Essay

In January 2011 my life began to change when a young man in need opened his heart to me. This boy, Matthew, had been a long time acquaintance. We played cello in the same Orchestra since sixth grade. I thought he was a sweet but unorthodox kid, and I never gave him much thought until that fateful Saturday morning in January of last year.

Both of us were attending our local youth orchestra that year. The meetings were Saturday morning at eight o’clock sharp, and lasted until noon. I walked into youth symphony that morning feeling like I’d been run over several times with a Mac truck. I was emotionally and physically winded. This was somewhat due to the fact that I was first chair in the cello section, which was not an easy task for a girl like me who had visions of becoming the next Yo-Yo Ma. But the biggest contributor to my melancholy mood was the fact that my current boyfriend stressed me out to unbelievable degrees. He was mean and shady but I somehow convinced myself of his value in my life. I felt like absolute trash that morning for sure.

But it seemed that Matthew was much worse off than me. I immediately knew something was wrong; it was glaringly obvious. He looked like a raw open wound. He was so upset I could almost see the anger and pain rising up like a tide behind his green eyes. Normally his eyes were soft and welcoming, but today, they were hard and full of angst, but most of all frightened. But the most striking difference of all were the scabbed over but still fresh gashes on the top of his forearms. I knew those cuts were no accident, and that he had made them. He was quite literally bleeding for the world to see.

I had never seen someone in so much pain and anguish. It gushed out from his pores, and I felt like I had to stop the bleeding or at least slow it in some small way. I wanted to wrap him in my arms and help him forget all the hurt. It was not because I thought he was attractive and it was nothing sexual; I would have felt the same way about anyone because I have been on the other end of scenario. I have felt that damaged and that raw. In any case, I knew it was impossible to comfort Matthew physically, but if I did not do something I felt as if I would regret it for a very long time.

So I did the only thing I could. I asked him to talk and to my surprise he obliged. We spoke the whole morning, and by the end I did not feel as angry and scared and it seemed like Matt though, of course not a great deal better, felt like he had someone to confide in.

Little did I know the simple action of reaching out to Matthew started a chain reaction of events that resulted in a relationship that is deep, loving, and meaningful. It took many months, and a great amount of hard work from both of us to get out of the deep well of depression we were in, but we did it together.

When I look at Matthew I see someone who has so much potential and goodness in his heart as I always did. But now I also see a boy with sparkling green eyes that let in the light, and do not have a fear of losing everything in an instant. And of course there are scars, but they are barely visible against new, strong, and healed skin.

 

 

 


I wrote this story as an alternate ending to Edgar Allen Poe’s famous story, “The Tell Tale Heart”. Of course it’s not Poe, but I hope I paid homage to him in the best way possible! 

NOTE: My story starts with the last line of “The Tell Tale Heart”

The Tell Tale Heart Revisited

“‘Villains!’ I shrieked, ‘dissemble no more! I admit the deed!—tear up the planks!—here, here!—it is the beating of his hideous heart!’” (Poe, 306).

As if compelled by the pulsating heart I fell to the floor, and the last sound I heard was the thunder! – the thundering of his hateful heart! I awoke on the floor of a small cell. Looking through the bars I could hear the constable fiercely debating with another personage of whom I could not see.

“He is absolutely mad! To chop up a man into pieces? How does one reconcile that?” the constable began. But no! He does not understand! I was very careful about the whole thing! I am not mad. It was a very well done crime, except for that old man. His heart!—it would not stop!— my demise is the old man’s doing!

“Well then what do you suggest we do with him?” the other voice inquired.

“Just get rid of him. I see no point in a trial. We have a full confession, and witnesses to the scream of the old man. I suppose we will have to go through with it, but that man is not fit to stand trial. Just make it quick and painless so we can hang the demented creature as soon as possible. I do not want any fuss about it.”

“Hang me?!” I cried out. “But it was the old man who made me do the deed! His ghastly eye beckoned me! Can’t you see? He drove me to it, so terrible was his eye. And, then, his heart—it drove me to confess wrongly when it was the old man himself that bademe into the room to kill him!”

“Quiet in there!” said the old constable, and nothing more.

I called again and again to the constable proclaiming my innocence, but I heard only silence in return. Dreadful, terrible silence, until after sometime in the dank and windowless cell I began to hear it again. First softly like the buzz of a fly, then louder, louder, until the tympanic sound of the terrible heart deafened me. Suddenly, the old man was in my very cell, a dismembered vision face down on the floor. His arms began to move, reconnecting with his body–struggling to attach to his shoulders. I shrank back into the corner, fearing for my life. As I scrambled back my hand caught a nail in the floor boards and I began to bleed, but it did not matter! All I cared was to get away from the old man! The old man’s arms reached for his head, and I watched as the grotesque vision labored, head beneath its arm, and rose to its full height in front of me. There, staring back at me was the eye! The filmy, disgusting vulture’s eye sneering at me!—while the rhythm of the heart still pounded in my ears! It knew who had slain it and it wanted revenge. The gnarled hands of the old man pointed underneath me, and that was when I saw it. A crimson pool of blood, and the heartbeat grew deafening, as if it was underneath my very body. I ripped up the floor boards and there it was! The beating heart before my very eyes!

In an instant the light went out in the cell, and I was sucked away from the scene and bathed in blackness. In that in between stage I cried out to anyone, to save me from the hideous creature. But my fear was waylaid at last! I awoke in my own chamber to the sound of the clock striking four A.M., but there in my hand I felt the warmth of the beating heat.

 

Bibliography

Poe, Edgar Allen. Complete Tales and Poems of Edgar Allen Poe. New York: Random House,

1975. Print.

 

 

 

 

 

 
 


{28/12/2012}   I am Still Alive

Hi, all four of you followers, I am still alive contrary to what this blog might show. I have been listening to a lot of Leonard Cohen, and this poem sort of ‘happened’….tell me what you think?

NOTE: This is definitely not as good as Leonard Cohen, who is the master, this is an attempt!

I called your name and you came to me, blank and broken and  in misery.

I knew the wounds on your arms far too well,
I knew them because they scared me as well.

I knew the guilt; I’d seen it all
The rage, the fear, the crimson floor of the bathroom stall

My love was bent,  and frayed, and torn.
And so you and I we came to mourn,

All that was and all that is and all that will never be again.
In between the waves of pain,

We screamed ourselves to sleep at night
And beat the walls until they gave,

And when it all came crashing down
The walls, my cherry, and your silver crown

We lay in the darkness, or was it the light?
Making love and holding each other tight.



{08/03/2012}   Teenage Love and Sex

A whispered copnversation in a back basement…

“Do you want to?”
                                       “You know we can’t”

“But I want to”

                                       “Me too”

“But we shouldn’t”

                                        “But I want too!”

“Your parents could come down at any minute”

                                        “I know”

“So we shouldn’t”

                                    “Ok, we won’t”

Silence, hugging, kissing, more silence

                                  “What if?…no…”

“What? You want to now?”

                                    “No…Yes…I don’t know!”

“Such a simple thing and so conflicting…”

                                    “I know, right?”

Silence

“Well, it’s 8:15…”

                                   “It’s too late now”

“Shit…”

                                 “Oh well”

“We don’t need to do that to say I love you”

                                  “I know”

“I love you”

                                “I love you too hunny”



et cetera
Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.