Other Than I Am

I’m not a Man. I never will be.

There is no dagger in my smile. When I smile, it’s just that- a smile. I smile when I feel joy. I can’t be anything other than what I am.

I am prey to the swaying of my thoughts, so I will bow my head. I will beat my fists against the tiled floor and curse the Creator for making me as I am.

I cannot be any other than as I am. I long to be a Man- to be free to do as I please with little to no consequence.

I long to walk alone at night, with nothing but the stars to guide me. I can’t, or rather, shouldn’t. It isn’t safe for me to do so. If I am accosted, it is my fault for allowing it.

I am not a Woman. I never will be.

I am not fierce; a fire burning brighter than the very stars themselves. I’ve never burned bright enough for anyone to notice.

There is no power to the sway of my hips. My smile does not hide secrets. I have no secrets.

I long to bewitch and ensnare, but I cannot.

I have neither a Man’s mind nor a Woman’s might.

I cannot be anything other than what I am.

Swamp Witch

And just like that, the sun rose.

I woke, slowly at first, then all at once. I woke as I fell asleep, with the ineffable feeling of falling.

Only this time, I fell. My knees hit the hard wooden floor of my one-room house, and for a moment, I regretted putting them in. The soft dirt would have been softer to fall onto.

I stretched and dressed in the dark. I did most things in the dark these days. The generator ran out months ago, and it saved me from looking in the mirror. It led to better days.

I always wanted to be a swamp witch when I was a kid. Somehow, I didn’t consider the mosquitoes in all my childish dreaming. The first summer I was burned and twisted and swollen from the elements.

I loved it.

I combed the swamp and slept beneath the willows until I found this little hut. It was abandoned, just like me, and no one came to claim it. Just like me.

The cot was already there and I bought the floors. Tourists with too much money like the things I find in my swamp; everybody likes a terrifying bog witch.

It’s quiet. Not peaceful-quiet.

Something’s wrong. Someone is in my swamp.

I resist the urge to giggle at the reference. This is serious. My skin crawls with worry and my stomach leaps to my throat when I hear them.

Poachers.

I slip out of my shack like a ghost- cunning and stealthy.

I creep behind the protected trees and over the protected land, carefully picking my way across the swamp. I resist the urge to retch when I find the first trap. It’s a snare, and I nearly get caught in it myself.

I crouch low and keep my breathing steady and my ears open as I untie it and loop the rope around my shoulder. I hope it’s the last, even as I find another and another.

When I find their camp, I am sick. Dead animals hang from trees and meat roasts on a dwindling, unattended fire. I put out the fire and take down the animals and bury them in the soft soil. I ask Mother Moon to watch over them into the next life.

I creep back into the depths of the swamp when I hear them again. I can’t hear their words, but I can tell their confusion bends quickly to rage.

I smile at their fury.

I spend the rest of the day stalking them and taking down their traps. When night falls, and the poachers return to their camp, I stay on the fringes and watch them.

I wait for sleep to take them. Then, it’s my turn.

I snare and trap them, one by one. My hands are deft, and they don’t wake. I make sure they don’t wake again.

When they aren’t a threat again, I finally hear the animals return, and the not in my chest eases.

I spend the night taking what I can use back to my home. They won’t be needing them again. I like the blankets best. They’re soft and as I snuggle down to sleep, I hear the birdsong.

And just like that, the sun rose.

Another Letter I’ll Never Send

Dear former lover,

I hate you. It has been over ten years, and I still hate you. I hate you for what you did to me. I hate you for what was and what should never have been.

I read the other day that on average it takes seven years for all the cells in a healthy adult to replace themselves. Seven. I hope this is correct because I long for a body that you never touched.

I hate you. What you did to me used to make me wish I’d never been born, now I wish you’d never been born. It has taken so many years of work on myself to love myself enough to hate you.

I don’t think I’ll ever let go of this anger. 

I think about you less and less as time passes, but every year your memory comes creeping back in. Every year.

December is haunted because of you. I’m haunted because of you. I hate you with every fiber of my being. I hope you suffer every day of your life. 

I hope your socks are always damp. I hope you have a million unfinished sneezes. I hope you forget a word at a moment that makes you look like a fool. I hope you itch on the heel of your foot and never really satisfy it.

I hope you rot,

Tiger

Woori’s Magic

Woodrow “Woori” Wilson chewed on her bottom lip and thought about how much she hated her name. Firstly, it was a boy’s name. She was not a boy.

Her parents may disagree, but she was definitely a girl.

There was a trio of other girls laughing behind her. It reminded Woori of monkeys in a zoo, inhuman and cruel. Their cackling and mockery seemed distorted as the world tilted.

This always happened when she got angry. The world didn’t turn red; it just tilted.

Woori tried to keep her cool. If she gave in to her anger, the world would tilt until it went black. Then, something awful would happen. And, she would have to face the consequences of that blackness.

Heather, one of the trio, reached out and shoved her. As soon as the girl’s fingers made contact, the world went black.

Finally, light filtered back into the world. The three girls were bloody and crying on the ground behind Woori. She looked down at her hands, but they were clean.

My powers.

Woori blanched and fled. She had only made it off of school grounds when the first bell rang. She kept running until she could be sure that she was alone in the woods. A scream bubbled up from her stomach and rang through the trees.

Why did they have to hurt me? Why did I take the bait?

Hot, angry tears rolled down her face. For the thousandth time, she cursed her ancestors for giving her this curse. Women in her family possessed a deep, dark magic. Her father and brother were blessedly normal.

It should have been more than enough to tell them that she was a girl. The magick didn’t lie and it didn’t like boys, and yet here she was- powers and all.

Woori sighed and sunk down the trunk of a tree. She’d stay out here until after school let out, then she’d head home.

A Letter I’ll Never Send

Dear Grandma,

I miss you. I really miss you. I’ve seen cute frog things that remind me of you lately. When you were alive, I never saw very many, but now that you’re gone- I see them everywhere.

I wanted to cry when I came to your page in my address book. I was making up my Christmas card list. I wanted to surprise you with a gift card for a nice dinner out. Instead, I turned the page.

It hurt. I feel like there’s a part of me missing.

I want to call you and talk about the weather and how the changing seasons affect your plants. I want to get you a hand-blown glass plant mister. I found one online in the most beautiful shade of violet. It reminded me of the curtains you had up at the Park.

I got another cat. I think you’d like him. I know you wouldn’t admit it, but I think you would get along.

I miss you, and I love you.

Love,

Tiger

An End to a Sabbatical

I’ve taken some time away to get my head straight. It’s been one thing after another in my personal life, and I’ve still got a lot going on.

I guess I just realized that it won’t stop. I’ll always have my mental health issues; meds help but they don’t entirely solve the issue. I am committed to a return to posting my writing.

I haven’t stopped writing. I can’t stop, but I’m ready to share again.

Rats and Sinking Ships

In these uncertain times, I find myself taking a risk. I am leaving my current day job for a new one. There are many reasons, but chief among them is the perceived value of human life.

My soon-to-be former employer has seen fit to assign a price to human life. The price, you ask? Three dollars an hour over three months. Before taxes.

I thought this was an odd amount, so I did a little digging and a little math, and it just so happens that that “bonus” is the virtually the same as the cost to train a new person.

We aren’t really an essential business and everyone involved knows it. It is only by the grace of a loophole that we are still even open. That and corporate greed.

The higher ups are still pushing sales numbers and the people who don’t meet them are now on the chopping block. That was not the case before. Our numbers have always been a coaching and development move. On top of that, corporate is hiking prices.

We, as employees, asked them to consider us, to value us, and they did. They assigned us a dollar value. Three dollars an hour is the value of my and my family’s lives.

I know not everyone has a job right now, and while I am grateful to be to be working, I don’t appreciate them not allowing us the option of safety. We are required interact with people from out of town and a lot of people coming in are sick.

On top of all that, we’re being phased out anyway. They want to eliminate my position and at least half of the next rung up from me in the coming months.

This ship is sinking and I refuse to play music on the deck while I wait for the inevitable. I’m jumping ship with the rest of the rats.

New Venture

So, I’ve taken a break from my writing to focus on my new business. I’ve been wanting to start my own business for a while now, but I just wasn’t sure how to go about it.

Doctor Who wrap skirt I made

But, then I just jumped in feet first. I’m still getting it off the ground and still working my day job, but things are taking a good turn. I’ve made a few sales and gotten a lot of traffic.

Beauty and the Beast inspired ball gown

You can see my store here.