Spoons

It is said that those with chronic illness or mental illness only have a certain amount of energy with which to do tasks, needful tasks, like personal hygiene and housekeeping. That is why so many with such afflictions either can’t work or perform poorly when working or attending school.

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I personally struggle with several debilitating illnesses and afflictions. Some days I can’t brush my own hair, other days I can’t shower. The sicker I get, the more often these days occur. I need help preparing my food. Some days I can’t even feed myself and I need my husband to spoon my food into my mouth.

It’s too much.

But other days, like today, I am capable. I can write, I can think clearly. These days are gifts and I take advantage of every single one.

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A messy room. A dirty kitchen.

Lessons in tidiness never heeded.

She stepped over the piles of clothes on her way to get a glass of milk.

It had gone sour.

Of all the reasons one might have to keep a house neat, she possessed only two that kept it filthy.

Her mind. Her sorrows.

Should she obtain a way out of the muck that grimed the kitchen countertops, she would feel a new sort of responsibility. To keep it that way. The thought exhausted her.

The burden of freedom. ‘Twas too much to bear.

She resigned to her suffering.

 

© 2017 Heather Stephens

 

To Fly

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Whenever I’d ask her about her hopes and dreams, she’d always say that she wished to fly. But women are not made for the skies. They must be grounded, sincere. That’s what

I

told

her.

She never wanted to hear it. She would brush me off, telling me that I didn’t understand. So

I

told

her

that she would never be happy until she learned to choose happiness. She discarded my advice like it was irrelevant to her. When, finally,

I

told

her

that I wanted to marry her, she laughed. She walked away as if she couldn’t hear me.

 

 

 

©2017 Heather Stephens

Adventure

I can’t find my antidepressants, so I felt I should write this little beam of positivity to try and fake it ’til I make it, so to speak. So it goes. The prompt was “Adventure”.

 

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Where should she go?

She has her whole life ahead of her. Never felt better. Armed with a degree and a car, she can only move up from here. Crippled with debt she may be, but she is young. She can crawl and claw her way out from under the mountain of obligation sitting on top of her.

She just has to figure out what she wants to do with her life. The life that belongs to only she. She, the arbiter of her own destiny.

She’ll find her way, eventually. She’s always had the knack.

Where should she go?

 

© 2017 Heather Stephens

Trust

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Another dollar, another toy.

She was spending as fast as she was earning. Her husband hated it. He knew she thought she was being careful, but the finances just didn’t add up every month like he wanted.

But she was kind. She was determined. She worked so hard and chased her dreams like everyone should. Hard. Unrelenting.

He never mentioned the money. It was hers to do with as she willed. He trusted her, knew that if circumstances should change, she’d adapt.

Mutual trust. Mutual respect. He didn’t have to agree with her choices to love her for making them.

 

© 2016 Heather Stephens

Words

For this prompt, I decided to go autobiographical.

There has never been a time in my life when I didn’t want to be a writer. I wanted to do other things too, but always be a writer. I’m not very good at writing, but I’m passionate about it. I put it here online in the hopes that my voice will be heard. I don’t need to be famous or paid well to love writing. Writing itself is the joy.

 

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It’s always been my dream to be a writer. For many years I have felt that it is important to tell stories and have your voice be heard. That is all I really want. Not money, not fame. Just to be heard.

It’s difficult, however, to defeat the nagging voices that tell you being a wordsmith is not your calling. To struggle with your own mediocrity is painful. Heartbreaking. But the secret to being a writer is having the passion to do it anyway. To keep learning to perfect your craft. To write, even if no one will read it.

 

© 2016 Heather Stephens

Justice

The prompt was “Justice” and I feel like  I believe it doesn’t exist. Life is not fair, but we can find beauty nevertheless.

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She wondered where she stood. What had been done to her was not technically a crime, so there could be no perpetrator. If she felt violated, it was because she was sensitive. If her professor had gone further than he did, it would have been because she led him on. By not taking action to stop him sooner, she revealed that she had been asking for his violent attention.

Where did she stand? What doors would open for her now? Two years from graduating, but a stain on her name before she reached the door. What choice did she have?

 

© 2016 Heather Stephens

Cat

Going back through old prompts. This one was “Cat“.

 

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He hadn’t seen his daughter in months.

The war had sent his career in the most skyward direction, and he was never home. A legitimate arms dealer, he had governments to seduce and deals to be made. Whenever he was home, it was after his princess was already asleep and he was gone before she rose, sleepily, to eat breakfast.

But he was home now. Or almost. The little cries from the box on the passenger seat sounded as eager to be there as he was.

At 5pm, he opened the door. At 5:03, the three-year-old opened her box.

Meow.

 

© 2016 Heather Stephens

 

Reality

I couldn’t write for a long time. I could blame NaNoWriMo, but I didn’t finish that either. A more accurate excuse would be the election. It broke my heart and anxiety over the nuclear arms race that is coming has rendered me virtually immobile. But I am surrounded by people who claim that while things look pretty bad, there is hope. Their strength has melted the ice of fear that has gripped my heart for the last month and a half.

I’m back.

This week’s prompt was “Reality”.

 

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The truth of it? She didn’t want to know where her girlfriend had been for three days. She’d do this—start a fight for no logical reason and then disappear for a few hours. This time she’d been gone long enough for her partner to be worried. But there was no apology when she returned. There was no reconciliation. Just more excuses.

Someday, she’d find the courage to make her own life away from the perils of loving a woman so broken. She couldn’t find the strength to do it now. Too many bad habits barring the path to freedom.

 

© 2016 Heather Stephens

Surprise

The prompt was surprise. Inspired by the terrifying results of the 2016 election, but I don’t think surprise is quite the right word. Shock is definitely apt. Fear as well. I wrote this piece as my reflection on what the election revealed about America and what the violence in the proceeding week set out to prove.

As a disabled LGBT mother to a child that is a WOC, I am scared. What happened on November 8th proved to me that my life doesn’t matter to nearly half of America. And nothing will ever make it right as long as that administration is in office.

America is no longer safe.

 


There are no words for the political horror America has unleashed. People of color are dying. Lesbian, gay, and transgendered people are being assaulted. There is no end in sight for the trauma we have done to ourselves.

America is broken. A flawed, unjust system gave rise to the greatest threat to peace and prosperity, and some celebrate it. The death of the American Dream is imminent.

Many may not survive this. But those that do must maintain their memory, fight for their legacy. The survivors must not simply rebuild what America was, but what it always promised to be.

 

©2016 Heather Stephens

Novel

This week’s prompt got me thinking about our current political climate. The clock is ticking, counting down to the most important election in our lifetimes. Will America choose fear and hate or will they choose experience and tolerance? I chose to be hopeful for this piece despite my fears of a Trump presidency. I am not very hopeful about this election, but I need to hold onto whatever positivity I can. As a disabled, LGBT woman who is mother to a person of color, I fear what a Trump presidency (and Trump-appointed justices) will bring.

But here’s to hope. Here’s to choice.

Good luck, America.

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“We have only taken a few writers in this niche,” the man said, “but you are by far one of the most original.”

She smiled. She was grateful for the opportunity, but she wondered if she would live up to the reputation her agent had created for her.

“I just want to give people the chance to see things from more variable perspectives,” she said, belying her reticence.

“It’s a brave new world for diversity, and I am sure you will be just fine,” the man said, patting her on the shoulder before walking away.

She knew she would be.

© 2016 Heather Stephens