Life Has a Way of Drop-Kicking you. – Editor-in-Chief, Kelly Fitzharris Coody

I think you guys all remember the upheaval that my life has been under, right? That divorce from my children’s father, having to start over and try not to be bitter while all I wanted to do was scream after throwing away 12 years of hard work, good times, bad times, a love that I’d thought was there, and two malleable children who deserve the world. They are bright and wonderful people.

I got married again, on August 12th, 2017. I got married to a man with whom I thought I could share forever. At first things were good – well, actually, they were miraculous. I didn’t know how I deserved someone so loving and giving; someone who actually loved me for ME and wasn’t going to constantly throw my misgivings in my face. Someone who loved the kids and told me that he missed them when they were gone…

You know what they say about something that seems to good to be true, right? Well, it turns into a tornado of violence, manipulation, and blackmail. I’m 34 with a job and two children and it was not only the last thing I needed , but the last thing I’d ever expected from my new husband.

He and I lost a baby in December of 2017. I was probably 11-12 weeks along. The doctors did the DNA/ genetic / chromosome testing and found the baby we’d lost had had Trisomy 21, aka, Down syndrome. This past summer, we decided to give it one more go to see if we could have a baby. Now, this was the time that everything spiraled out of control. He’d stolen 71 pills from me the minute we found out I was pregnant. Before that, when I went back to work Feb. of 2018, right before my first day, I’d looked into a nearly empty bill bottle. So he had stolen pills from me for a long time and I guess I just wanted to make it work so badly that I couldn’t see how bad he was getting.

Flash forward with me. As the pregnancy went on, he could not control his anger. He became erratic, frightening, aggressive, and made my blood pressure rise to a place that it should never have to go. One night, after I’d begged him to just let me be and let me lie on the bed, he stormed into the bedroom and threw a steel cup that was full of water, all the way across the room, dousing everything and simultaneously skipping along the wall, damaging it as well. He punched an enormous hole in my wall that I’ll never be able to fix.

He started to get mean with my children too. He made them cry. There was a night that I was in the bathtub and he got mad about god knows what and started pounding his fists over and over again on the tile probably a foot away from where I was taking my bath.

Despite my better judgment, I kept trying to make it work. I tried so, so hard, but he just spiraled downward further.

As I looked through my bank transactions one day, I got sick to my stomach. I counted up everything he’d been doing for the past month; he’d siphoned 2000 out of my paychecks and used it to go buy drugs. There’s more than that 2000- I was too sickened to continue to look.

The last night that I was with him, he had agreed to pick my kids up from school because I was had worked a 12 hour day, on my feet, pregnant. I get home and my house had been RANSACKED. Purses, sunglasses, watches, glasses cases, were all gone. That’s what he was doing all day as I worked. All of the things he stole were either gifts, amazing finds in an antique store where they didn’t realize the item was designer and priced it low, or something I saved up for for a long time. And I’ll never get those things back. He even stole my 10 year old daughter’s saved up cash out my wallet while I was either asleep or in the bathroom or something.

Yes, I was pregnant again. I lost the baby last week and had surgery on Friday to remove the baby, which was about 14 weeks along.

Now that the new husband has moved out, he’s acting absolutely disgusting to me. He’d put our gas bill in his name because he said he would take care of all the bills. I can’t tell you how many times he’s threatened to turn our gas off. He’s not even having to pay the damn bill, I am. He’s only doing this to be mean. And I had to co-sign for him to buy me my engagement ring. Now that we’re splitting up, he’s trying to destroy my credit by not giving me the log-in information for me to set up automatic payments on my account. He’s deliberately trying to destroy me in any way that he can. Can he not understand that he was abusive? That my children were scared of him? That we want our lives back? Why is he withholding things that we need to move on?

I’m sure you guys can see why I haven’t had time to post in a while.

I’m up to my ears in to-do lists to try and get my life back on track, but it is a beast. I’m overwhelmed and frustrated. I feel like I just got hit by the abusive husband truck and am having to figure out everything on my own. I have familial support but at the same time, most, if not all, of what I need to do, is on my own.

I’m just depressed. God, I’d felt so trapped for so long. While I’d be getting ready for work, he’d sit to where his face was a few inches from mine and scream at me as I was trying to put on makeup for work. And if he wasn’t screaming, he was dead asleep. It was one extreme or another.

Then it progressed to him screaming at me while we were waiting to see the OB-GYN. The front desk staff even informed our doctor what was happening because they were getting scared for me.

I would say, “Please, stop, you’re making a scene,” as merely a whisper.

He would come back with, “You’re the one making a scene, if you would just stop.”

Then I stopped replying to him. I tried to move chairs to get away from him and he blocked it so that I couldn’t get up and kept getting louder and louder and louder.

That visit ended with him saying through gritted teeth, to where the entire lobby full of people could hear, “And wipe that scowl off your face.”

Kelly

 

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SLM Interviews The Writer, Amanda McLeod – (Heads up – She’s Savvy and A Damn Good Writer)

Interview with the Writer 

Sick Lit Magazine: How long have you known , deep down, that you’re a writer?

Amanda McLeod: I always loved to read, and could read well before I started school. English was always my favourite subject and right through school I just adored reading and writing.
I ended up with a Bachelor of Arts, majoring in English, but was just a little too scared at that point to try and make a career of it. Later, I tried again – starting an editing course – but I had to move in the middle of the course, and external study wasn’t available so I had to withdraw. After my first child was diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder, I started studying child development and education so I could be the best advocate for him that I could be. This set me on another path for a while, supporting and advocating for children with additional needs. As I studied though, I found a passion for children’s literacy. The way young children are spellbound by books, and how beneficial reading is for children, really resonated with me. I studied writing children’s picture books – they’re much more complex and nuanced than they seem on the surface!- and have written a number of manuscripts. This led me to question why I shouldn’t keep going, and write the kind of literary fiction I loved so much in school (and still do, to this day). I sent out two pieces. One of them was rejected pretty quickly, which was really deflating. But I read it over again and I knew it was good. I believed in it. I just had to find it the right home – it needed someone who wouldn’t shy away from the grittiness of it. And that’s when I heard about an editor named Kelly, who ran a magazine called Sick Lit, which published material others would shy away from. I read some Sick Lit content and it felt like it might fit. Turns out, it did. The feedback I got from Sick Lit staff made me feel like I could back myself. So I dove in, and started writing and submitting in earnest. Recently I’ve had an opportunity to exercise my journalistic skills, which has been both challenging and enjoyable. I’ve ended up coming full circle, back to the reading and writing I’ve loved for so long – it just took me a while to get here.
SLM:  What inspires you as a writer?
AM: A lot of my work stems from asking questions like ‘what if…’ and ‘what about…’. These flights of fancy can take me in unexpected directions. 
The piece ‘Remains’ is a great example. When I first read your prompt, I wasn’t sure it was for me. I haven’t written or read very much science fiction. But I let the concept of ‘future’ sit there in my mind and incubate for a while. What might the future be like? It depends who you ask. I pondered today’s forward thinkers. People are planning for the colonisation of Mars. Space flight is coming closer to being a reality for everyday people. People will soon be leaving Earth, many permanently. Plenty of people have speculated about how intergalactic travel might look in the future. I started wondering, ‘what about everything that gets left behind?’ If in the future (and this is becoming increasingly likely) Earth can no longer support humanity, what might be left? Life almost always finds a way. If all the humans upped and left the planet, how might life change? 
And what if something, or someone got left behind? What if someone refused to go? How might it feel to wake up and find that the universe had moved on without you? Those were the seeds of thought from which ‘Remains’ grew.
SLM:  Tell me one thing that scares you and excites you all at the same time.
AM: Sharing my work with the world! It’s exciting to think that others might read my words and engage in deep thought or lively discussion as a result, as I have with the words of so many others. But it’s also terrifying to take something you’ve worked so hard to create, and share it with strangers. 
SLM: Name one of the WORST experiences you’ve had as an up-and-coming writer; I.e., submission disasters, strong personalities, etc.
AM: I’ve been focusing really hard this year on paring back. For a long time I was multitasking to the point of ridiculousness, and it was draining. I started really cutting back on everything – stuff, engagements, responsibilities – so I could dig deep and make real, substantial time for the things in life that truly bring me joy. And I really notice it now when that overwhelm starts to creep back in – because I start making really careless errors. The worst was a competition entry I sent, rushing to beat the deadline when I decided what I’d written was good enough to enter, and promptly submitting the wrong file because I was trying to balance too many tasks at once.
SLM:  Favorite book. Or books. And go!
AM: Take a seat, we could be here a while… I have a beautiful illustrated collection of Jane Austen’s work that my husband tracked down for me. I had a copy of Bryce Courtenay’s ‘The Power Of One’ that I read and read until it fell apart, and each individual page was loose inside the cover. I have a book by Norma Johnston called ‘The Potter’s Wheel’ that I have dragged to every house I’ve ever lived in – it resonated with me when I was younger and I’ve kept it with me ever since. More recently, ‘The Handmaid’s Tale’ by Margaret Atwood really got me thinking and sparked a lot of intense conversations, which is something I believe books should do. And a marvellous book called ‘All Cats Have Aspergers’ by Kathy Hoopmann holds a special place in my heart. 
SLM: Is there a novel in the works for Amanda McLeod? If so, tell us about it. And then send it to me so I can mark it up and encourage the hell out of you!
AM: There is a novel! It’s in the super early stages of development. I’ve written about three chapters. I’ve got it planned out, but structuring it will be challenging – the protagonist is unravelling a family secret that only came to light after her mother’s death. There are two people who know the whole truth, and one has just passed away. I need to make sure that it peels like an onion, and as the layers come away, new meaning to old events becomes clear. I’d be honoured for you to read it Kelly, when I get more of it written! There are also a number of children’s picture book manuscripts I’m working on, and a series for early readers. Children who love books grow into adults who love books and sparking that passion for literacy early is something I really feel strongly about and want to be a part of.
SLM: I got over 200 rejections before my book was finally published in 2016. I still take rejection to heart and sometimes react very poorly. How do you deal?
AM: Nothing rips the base out of your gut like a rejection, does it? The disappointment still stings me every time. Depending on the situation, I think I react differently. If it’s a straight up ‘no thanks’ and nothing else, I go back over my list and remember all the pieces I had published that were initially rejected. Just because they weren’t right for one publication, doesn’t mean they won’t be great for another one. I cast a critical eye over my work again – have I missed something? – and then just keep looking for the right home. If I get feedback with the rejection, I look at it as an opportunity to improve it, and hone my skills. Another great consolation is to look at acceptance rates. A lot of them are really low – I figure a 5% acceptance rate means 19 rejections for every acceptance. And finally, I tell myself that the sting is because of how much I value my work. 
# # #
Amanda McLeod Headshot
Amanda McLeod is a writer and artist, currently based on the east coast of Australia. Her fiction has appeared in Sick Lit Magazine, The Scarlet Leaf Review, OJAL: Open Journal Of Arts And Letters, and elsewhere. She enjoys good coffee, rainy nights, being outside, and almost anything to do with cheese. Her plans for the future include finishing her novel and publishing a children’s book.

Remains – by Amanda McLeod

Remains

The first time I woke up after, I headed out to the well like I did every morning. I was surprised to find the well full of stars. You couldn’t drink stars when I went to sleep. The stars were in the sky then. But the world is different now.

Now, the sky is filled with other things I don’t recognise; and around those things smaller things wheel and skim like the insects used to around the porch light at night. I still put the light on each night. I don’t know why. I haven’t seen anyone since I woke up. Where everyone went is a mystery, but I suspect it has something to do with the things in the sky.

I still am not sure how it happened. I went to sleep, then woke up, just as I always do, only I woke up to this instead of the world I was expecting. I’m not sure how much time passed while I was asleep but the forest had come back which suggests several hundred years. The house still stood, though somewhat rickety, and the concrete well remained, full of stars instead of water. Although time has clearly marched on without me, I feel as though I have gone back in it rather than forward.

Plants have reclaimed much of what was taken from them, and in turn animals have followed. I suspect, given my solitude and the strange happenings in the sky, that this planet was left to heal itself. It has done a spectacular job, and what anomalies I have noticed, such as the well of stars, are not unpleasant. As to myself being the only person here, I was already old when I went to sleep and I had no family and few friends. I believe I was simply overlooked.

My daily existence is as simple now as it was before. I wake in the morning and go to the well, where I draw the stars I need for my day. Then I set about the routine of staying alive; fixing and repairing, growing and nurturing, harvesting and storing. I try to learn from the unknown mistakes of a past that passed me by. I make myself part of this place, a strand in the web rather than an apex predator. When I am out foraging, I sometimes see animals. Some I know, and some are slightly foreign, as evolution slowly works its magic. By unspoken treaty we live in harmony; both they and I neither fear nor are feared.

I am unsure whether anyone knows I am here. I would like to believe those things in the sky are aware of my presence. Should they come for me, however, I do not believe I would go. The universe out there feels too big. The familiar strangeness of this place is comforting. Should it ever come to that, I will tell them politely that I wish to stay here, and I will advise them to leave this world alone, as it finds new ways to heal old wounds. If they return, they will need to bring with them a different way of knowing, lest this become a circle. Perhaps it will happen while I am alive, perhaps never. Either way, I will spend my last days in this wild beautiful place, drinking from my well of stars.

***

Amanda McLeod Headshot

**Amanda wrote this piece of fiction for SLM’s writing prompt for 2017: You wake up 500 years in the future. Describe what you see, hear, smell, and how the passage of time has changed your surroundings. Be creative. Be different. Be daring.**

Amanda McLeod is a writer and artist, currently based on the east coast of Australia. Her fiction has appeared in Sick Lit Magazine, The Scarlet Leaf Review, OJAL: Open Journal Of Arts And Letters, and elsewhere. She enjoys good coffee, rainy nights, being outside, and almost anything to do with cheese. Her plans for the future include finishing her novel and publishing a children’s book.

Gather Around, Guys. You Might Want to Read This One Sitting Down. SLM is Closing. – Editor-in-Chief, Kelly Fitzharris Faulk

Loss, Life, and the Aftermath

I’m hopelessly transparent in all of my editor’s letters. I owe it to you guys; the ones who are putting your hearts and souls into your submissions. You’re baring everything to me on the blank page and in the bodies of your emails.

My husband is more of a private person than I am. He doesn’t quite understand the fact that I need to share my pain, my loss, and my grief in order to truly heal.

Back in June I suffered a miscarriage.

I am currently suffering from another miscarriage.

Two losses this close together are two too many. I can’t even begin to explain to you the myriad of emotions and hormonal fluctuations I’m going through – there are times when I flat-out feel like I’m losing my mind. That, coupled with the workload of SLM, the fact that it’s grown into something that’s beyond me is something that I can no longer control.

Honestly, as I combed through submissions and saw that about 90% of them were addressed to Nicole, I slammed my laptop shut and I think I even went so far as to scream into a pillow. Here I was working my tail off, yet again, trying to revive the magazine, working all alone, and I couldn’t even get any submissions that were addressed to me. I make no money doing this, guys. Nicole didn’t make any money. Melissa didn’t make any money. This was absolutely a passion project; and if I don’t even recognize the magazine I worked so hard to create, then it’s no longer fun. It hasn’t been fun for a long time. The accessibility aspect that I strove so hard to uphold; the fact that I wanted that open line of communication between the writer and the editor somehow made me into everyone’s favorite doormat. That’s not who I am. That’s not why I created SLM. I could go on and on and on and on, but the point of this letter is to convey to all of you that I’m officially closing up shop. 

To those of you who have been with me from the beginning: Kate Jones, C. C. O’Hanlon, Gene Farmer, Chris Iacono, Tom Gumbert, Nicole Ford Thomas, Scott Thomas Outlar, Melissa Libbey, Jayne Martin, Steve Carr, Dee Lean, Mickie Bolling-Burke, Katie Lewington, Steve Cooper, Sebnem Sanders, Don Tassone, David Cook, Jamie Andrews, and so many, many more of you that I know I forgot to name because I’m literally thinking off the top of my head at the moment: Thank you. You were my biggest cheerleaders. You all believed in what I did and wanted to be that change on the literary horizon with SLM.

And to those of you whom I wrote an acceptance letter to: I’m truly sorry. This is a ship that is simply not navigable by one person. I thought I could start things back up and it would be just like riding a bike, that everything would click and I’d get back into a groove. But that wasn’t the case. Those acceptances I sent meant that I saw brilliance in your work and I still see brilliance in it and potential in you. I’m just so sorry that I can’t be the one to display your work. 

After a long talk with Nicole, we named all the things that were going on in my life that were out of my control, that were stressing me and pushing me to my boiling point. Having two (almost) back-to-back miscarriages has done a number on my body and my mind and it has been the most god-awful, harrowing experience I’ve ever gone through.

I’m remarried to a wonderful, wonderful man who loves me and my children and would do anything for me.

But it doesn’t erase the horrible year I’ve had. It doesn’t mean that I don’t get a pang deep inside my chest of sadness every time I have to hand my kids over to my ex-husband. NO mother wants to see their own children only 50% of the time. That part will never get easier, I’m afraid.

There are still many aspects from the divorce that I’m bitter about and I’m angry about. I might always be bitter when it comes up. Who knows? A lot of wrong was done to me. I was stepped on a lot. And then there were those of you who either stayed with me during that time or who left as the world as I’d known it crumbled around me. That speaks louder than any words you might muster up as an excuse.

I’m not just a caveat for your limelight and a bullet point for your resume or a passionate letter-writer when you need a recommendation. I’m a real person who has real, devastating, life-altering issues going on at the moment. I’m a writer, too. I had a book published about a year ago.

To those of you who are regular readers and contributors, who know me well, and who care: I’m sorry. I truly am. You are the ones I was doing this for. Even the new contributors who have taken the time to comb through this site and find out what I’m really about and wrote about it in their emails: I was doing this for you, too. And I’m sorry.

I’ve poured my heart, my passion, my creativity into this web site and devoted countless hours to this project. It includes so much work that it’s laughable how simple some people think it is. I created this web site. I bought its domain name. I go through every submission and read it and contact that writer myself. After that, I have to go into the web site, format that writer’s work, ensure (maybe this is the fifth or sixth time) that there are no typos or grammatical or punctuation errors, insert their author photo and bio, put a category with it, choose a cover photo, and then I can schedule it for publishing. I also have to send the writer an email letting them know the date and the time that their work will show up on the web site. It’s work. It’s a lot of damn work. And it’s too much to be doing alone. At the moment there are over a hundred unanswered emails in the submissions inbox and it makes me CRAZY. I can’t do it anymore. And I certainly can’t do it alone.

I need to close this down and do something for myself for a while.

Nicole and I are very good friends. She no longer works for the magazine in an editorial capacity and hasn’t in a long time. So I meant  no disrespect toward her as I told you that when I saw all the submissions were addressed to her, that I sort of lost my shit. We talk frequently – and we also can’t ever seem to get off the phone with one another – because we’re essentially the same person. Our friendship and working relationship mean a great deal to me and whenever I start up something in the future, you might see her there with me.

But as of right now I need to do right by myself and take this albatross off of my shoulders and remove it from the string it’s attached to around my neck.

I need to do some work on myself and stop trying to distract myself away from my feelings.

More than likely, I will keep the same web site, but the URL will change. I’m a writer. I need to get back to my roots and I need to do so in order to stay sane.

Feel free to leave any and all comments, concerns, and questions below. I invite your input. Please. This is the one time you should speak freely.

Again, I’m sorry. I’m sorry that we couldn’t make it work. I’ve failed a lot in 2017 – but that doesn’t mean that I’m a failure. It means that I dared to take a leap of faith. I dared to do what no one else was willing to do and I failed. But if success isn’t a destination, then neither is failure. It doesn’t mean that you won’t see me again in another capacity. It means that this isn’t the creative outlet that I set out for it to be any more.

Thank all of you for your support.

Signing off,

Over and out,

Kelly Fitzharris Faulk

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Pop Culture Got You Down? Politics? Let’s Party Like it’s 2005. Also, Your Favorite Editor is Checking in ;) – Kelly Fitzharris, Editor-in-Chief

Here’s to New Beginnings!

 

 

A lot of you have emailed recently, asking me how I’ve been doing and checking in on me. Please know that it hasn’t gone unnoticed and/or unappreciated. 

Switching gears just for a moment (bear with me, I have a point to make):

Ever spend an hour scrolling through your Facebook-Twitter-insert-social-media-app-slash-web-site feed only to feel like an empty, hollow, lifeless loser? And then regretted that hour so much that you vowed never to tell anyone you just actually wasted an hour (or more…) scrolling through Facebook? Have you ever stopped to question the content that you are allowing to play on a loop from your phone, PC, laptop, iPad, other device, etc.?

Well…if you answered no…Question it!

I can tell you: spending all of your time on Facebook reading what everyone else is doing can make you feel depressed. Also, spending time on Facebook playing negative videos over and over and over again will also dampen your spirits. Doing both for a solid day or so is nothing short of insanity-inducing.

As human beings, we aren’t meant to be cooped up with an electronic device for hours on end, hunched over, reading canned and regurgitated garbage that may or may not come from a kernel of truth, letting that fill up all of our free time.

The same can be said for trolling a person on the web as opposed to taking the time to get to know them in person. Reading everything that, let’s say, I’ve written or tweeted or even a few of my published works (including an article I co-authored with Dr. Jeffrey Toney, PhD on The Hill, Congress Blog) is no way to get an idea of my character, my current life situation, nor is it an appropriate way to wrongly judge a person.

Here’s the thing about judgment: it’s a lot like assuming. And you know what they say about assuming.

I was raised by two, good, God-fearing parents who, yes, raised me Catholic, and simultaneously raised me to be open-minded, open-hearted, loving and forgiving. And I was also raised never, ever to judge a book by its cover. My father is a graduate of USAFA (US Air Force Academy), won a Guggenheim fellowship scholarship (with which he used to procure his Master’s in engineering from Columbia University in New York City), before he started out his first assignment as a fighter pilot at Langley Air Force Base when I was only 2 years old. He served as an officer in the US Air Force for 22 years before retiring as a Lieutenant Colonel and Senior National Represent for the United States. My mother has been a licensed LVN (nurse) most of her life, practicing in both Florida and Texas over the years.

While it’s true that I’ve been through my own personal brand of hell this year and last year, I’ve also recently been absent from this site because, SURPRISE, I’ve been happy for the first time in a long time. I’ve met someone who loves me, loves my children, and who supports me endlessly.

After our first date, about a couple of weeks later, my dog got out of my fence. I called him flustered, driving around shouting the dog’s name with my two kiddos in the backseat. He came over that day with tools, wearing a white shirt and jeans, and met my children. My son went out and pretended to help him fix the fence, carrying his own “tool kit.” It was that day that I knew; I knew it in my heart that this was it. He was the real thing. And he has been ever since.

We’re engaged to be married in August of 2017.

Here’s the thing: you can’t schedule falling in love. If you try and micromanage it and interrupt nature’s way of doing things, that’s a surefire way to ruin it. To kill it. Instead of living in the past and waking up daily with hate and anger in your heart, why not celebrate the present and look forward to the future and hold happiness in your heart for your family?

Life is too short not to.

I recently got back from a trip to see my best friend from high school. I went to visit so I could help her while her mother was in the hospital. Unfortunately…sadly…her mom passed away while I was visiting. As devastatingly sorrowful as that visit was, it has given me a different perspective on life; on family; on, well, everything. My friend’s mom was the same age that my mom is going to be in August.

If there’s anything to be learned from this, it’s to shelve the judgments and relish the fleeting happiness that can sometimes bury itself beneath the monotony of our day-to-day grind that most often leaves us feeling empty inside. Acknowledge your own suffering; acknowledge and learn from your own failures before you point outward to project it onto someone else. Someone who might, just might, be a decent person.

***

The future of the magazine is still up in the air. As I’m sure you can probably imagine, my life is filled to the brim with activity, which includes getting married and getting my children registered for school and getting settled back into a routine.

I can promise you that once the dust has settled, I will be in touch.

 

Cheers,

Kelly Fitzharris

Editor-in-Chief

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I Want a Wife – by CONNIE BEDGOOD

I Want A Wife

By

Connie Bedgood

 

Men want wives.

As I mow my back yard, I, too, would like to have a wife.  Why do I want a wife?  She can help do the yard work.  In fact, while I go to the gym, she can put out the trash a couple of times a week

I want a wife who will work and send me to school.  Going back to school would give me a real break, and make me economically independent, able to support those dependent on me – like my two cats, Polka and Dot.

While I’m attending school, I want a wife to take care of my cats; to keep track of their medical appointments (mine, too); who makes sure they eat properly and are kept clean.

I want a wife who is a nurturing attendant to us; who insures the cats have an adequate social life with their peers, cleans out their poop-box, and keeps them in up-to-date flea collars.  I want a wife who arranges to be around when they need special care, because, of course, I can’t miss classes at school.

I want a wife who will wash, dry and hang up my clothes and press them if necessary.  I want to look good at work.  My wife must arrange to lose time at work and not lose the job.  It may mean a small cut in her income from time to time, but I guess I can endure that.

I want a wife who will take care of my physical needs, keep my house clean and dusted and pick up after me.  She will see to it that my personal things are kept in their proper place so I can find what I need, the minute I need it.  She will plan the menus, do the shopping, prepare the meals, serve them pleasantly, and clean up while I am studying.  She will care for me when I am sick and sympathize with my pain.

I want a wife who will not bother me with rambling complaints about her duties, but will listen to me when I feel the need to explain a difficult point in my studies.   I want a wife who will take care of the details of my social life.  When I want to entertain, my wife will prepare and serve a special meal and not interrupt when I talk about things that interest me.

After I graduate with a degree and I should find another person more suitable, I want the liberty to replace my present wife – who will take and be responsible for the cats, so I am left free for a fresh new life.

Now, who wouldn’t want a wife?

***

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Connie was published in Screamin Mamas, Conceit, and Good Old Days in 2016. Also Connie has written stories for The Penman Review, Nostalgia, Changing Times, Quail Bell, Section Eight and Indiana Voice online magazines. In 2017 she will be in The Sacred Cow, Screamin Mamas, The Dead Mule Magazines and in 2018 The Stray Branch will have one of her strange tales in it.

 

 

Love, Life, and the Aftermath – Editor-in-Chief, Kelly Fitzharris [Coody]

February!

 

 

It’s the shortest month, the most romanticized month, and it’s also…just…a…month.

 

2017 was a false positive for the vast majority of us; what I mean is that we had inflated, unrealistic hopes of what the beginning of this New Year would bring.

 

 

2016 was hard on a lot of us for various reasons.

 

But our body clocks don’t understand or work like the calendar reads in terms of distress, healing, and even these new beginnings that we paint for ourselves.

 

The start of a new calendar year simply is what it is. Nothing more. Waiting for our circumstances to change, waiting for those clouds to part so we can see the figurative sun unfortunately relies on us and us alone.

 

Let all of this negativity, anger, frustration, and heartache fuel your writing. Write about it. Get it out of you and onto paper!

 

Which brings me to my next point: my personal life. 

 

So, how does one begin the healing process after the demise of a 12-year relationship?

 

I have no clue.

 

I have even less of a clue on how to handle it when there are two children in the mix who always see mommy crying.

 

Of course I’m sad. Of course I’m depressed.

 

Divorce is never easy…and I know it’s especially difficult for the so-called wounded party. That isn’t to say that the other person isn’t experiencing their own roller-coaster of emotions. I just, unfortunately, wouldn’t know.

 

It’s that day when your spouse comes to you in a moment of calmness and clarity, and tells you that they resolutely want a divorce, that you no longer make them happy, and that they don’t love you anymore that bubbles up in your mind’s eye over and over again. It’s impossible to shut out or to forget.

 

I am Daniel (Robin Williams’s character) in Mrs. Doubtfire. When he and Miranda (Sally Field) are standing there in the kitchen arguing, until she just can’t take it any longer and shouts out to him, “Daniel, it’s over! It’s…it’s over.”

 

He comes up with some solutions, all to which she shakes her head.

 

“But we love each other…Miranda? Right? We love each other.” And he says it with such sincerity and pain in his eyes.

 

She shakes her head. “I want a divorce.”

 

And just like that, it’s over.

 

When we (my spouse and I) had our discussion about the divorce, my response was, “You’re the love of my life.” I said it through teary eyes and with a strained voice as he simply said, “I’m sorry,” and walked out of the room.

 

Divorce “ruins” a lot of people – ruins may not be the right word, but it certainly smashes their world apart for a good amount of time.

 

A lot of people are never the same after their divorce; they put up walls that are unable to be climbed by others who attempt to get in and get to know the person while dating. Others do that and more; they turn to alcohol, drugs, any outlet they can get to that will relieve the absolute, utter devastation that the rejection of a divorce brings. This deep level of personal rejection can sit with someone for a very long time; it can stew, it can fester, and it can breed a lot of hate and anger. It can make a person go crazy. And it does.

 

The truly sad part about the majority of the people who are on my side of the glass, the hurt side, is that we don’t even hate our exes or soon-to-be-exes; not at all. In fact, it’s quite the opposite. We still love them and can’t seem to reconcile this cold, unfeeling person in front us who looks a lot like the person who used to love us and be there for us, with the one we knew in our not-too-distant pasts.

 

I remember how I felt any time I went through a break-up with a boyfriend while I was in college; I went through a myriad of emotions, including incessant crying and screaming into pillows before violently throwing things across the room in a torrent of anger.

 

But – it always would dissipate. I would always feel better pretty soon after all of that happened and would simply move on.

 

However; 12 years is different. 12 years, two children, many, many moves from apartments to houses, a dog, a life, and a wife who thought that this was her forever is different than a boyfriend-girlfriend relationship. Because I’d always blindly believed that he was “the one.” I really did. From the first night we met, I thought, this is it. That’s him.

 

Marriages go through their fair shares of ups and downs. It’s life. Especially with two children. It just is what it is.

 

I thought that this was just like any other time of our marriage that wasn’t all sunshine and rainbows…because life isn’t always sunshine and rainbows. If it was, then that’s a lie. That’s not reality. Reality is that there are ups and downs, fights, times where you might look and think that the grass is greener on the other side. But it’s not. It’s just not.

 

“All that matters are the children.”

 

“Take care of yourself.”

 

“Don’t let him win.”

 

When I hear things like this, I think, what the hell are you saying to me? I don’t want advice. I don’t want canned, regurgitated garbage that’s applicable to every divorce where there are children involved.

 

My reality is that a little over a year and a half ago, I quit work so I could stay at home with my children full-time. Within this time, I finished my book, was picked up by a small publishing house and published, started this literary journal, and have met some amazing people along the way. I wanted to be the next great American writer. I guess the joke’s on me.

 

Some of my posts relating to my personal life have been rather middle-of-the-road and painted me as “the bigger person.” But I don’t know if I am this bigger person – I am sad, broken-hearted and desperately trying to crawl out of this hole that I am in.

 

I may not be okay right now, but I know that I will be in time.

 

And so will all of you, no matter what your current circumstances might bring you, no matter what you face each day as you walk out your front door, ready to face the world and give it your all.

 

We all face battles. But putting yourself out there – as you are – is the bravest thing that a soul can do.

Keep Writing.

Keep Submitting.

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Your Favorite Editor,

Kelly Fitzharris [Coody]