Amirah: A Short Story


il_340x270.457437592_au3mThe princess, a lovely girl of sixteen with long raven-black hair, a round face and slim frame, sat on the floor of her luxurious bedroom, enrobed in a silk dress and fur shoes. She was sifting through her enviable wardrobe, tossing old clothes into a large chest meant for the rubbish bins. She had never considered others might want or need these things; they were her things, even if she discarded them. All of her gowns, heels, boots, stockings, and jewelry were so lovely, and she would change clothes at least three times a day. As she rarely wore the same outfit more than once, the chest was soon overflowing.

“Miss Amirah?” a voice floated across the room.

Amirah turned and saw her hand maiden, Ruby, peeking her head around the partially opened door. She was just a few years older than Amirah, with soft curves and a full, kind face. Her red hair curled and twisted wildly, and her brown eyes were always smiling, even when her mouth was not. Amirah hated her. It wasn’t that she was beneath her in every way, but Ruby was just so nauseatingly nice. Amirah generally enjoyed snapping her fingers and making the servants bend to her every whim. The more ludicrous and difficult her request, the more her chef, maids, and other household staff grimaced and groaned. They tried to hide their distaste for their royal mistress, but it leaked out on occasion. Ruby was unflappable. Amirah saved her most malicious demands for Ruby.

“Oh yes, Rita,” Amirah purred, intentionally calling the girl by the wrong name. “I dropped my favorite ring into the chamber pot. Retrieve it.” Amirah’s amber eyes glinted wickedly as she watched Ruby’s face. A warm smile was all she saw. Ruby bustled over to the nearly full chamber pot, peered in, and then plunged her hand into the foul contents. She fished out the sapphire and gold trinket, and looked up at the princess.

“I have it, mistress! I will clean it thoroughly and return it to you promptly.” Ruby beamed at her accomplishment. Amirah was crestfallen, waving her hand in a dismissive manner. Ruby rushed from the room, cupping her apron under her soiled hand. Amirah returned to her sorting, every so often flinging an item into the box. She was so absorbed in her task that she did not hear her father enter her room.

“Amirah,” he addressed his daughter in a halting and formal voice. She started, sending a hand fluttering to her mouth. She dusted off the piles of satin and silk and jumped to her feet. She faced her father, the king, and bowed low, her jewel encrusted tiara slipping just slightly as she did. He towered over her, all sashes and buttons and fringe. He had a full mustache and beard that ruffled when he spoke. His deep brown eyes were small yet piercing, making Amirah feel ill at ease. He was a noble man that treated people, if not kindly, then fairly. “What did you do to the hand maiden?”

“I did nothing. I have done nothing at all to anybody all day long, Father.” Amirah gazed up; feigning innocence, knowing it wouldn’t work. She loathed the days her father was home in the castle. Long trips visiting foreign dignitaries, meeting with his generals, captains, and other military personnel kept him away for days and weeks at a stretch, and she could do as she pleased. As her mother had long been dead, there was no one but her father to outrank her.

“Chef told me she started boiling a ring in his kitchen, smelling like the pigs. Why do you suppose that is?” His eyes caught hers, peering into her soul.

With a sniff, she flopped childishly back into her silken heap, causing her heavy and ornate dress to billow slightly, as she answered, “It isn’t my fault that stupid girl dropped my ring into the chamber pot. Should I have had to recover it?”

“The girl would not have had occasion to be holding your ring. How many times must I tell you to be even handed and judicious with those that serve you?” The king was exasperated and wore a look of deep disappointment. His furrowed his brow, causing a well-worn crease between his thick, dark eyebrows. Amirah refused to meet his eyes, all too familiar with that note of frustration in his tone.

“I am sorry, Father. I will try to do better,” she said stiffly. Shaking his head, he left the room. Amirah was incensed, taking an armful of her fine things, marching straight over to her open window, and hurling the stuff to the grounds below.

That sniveling, whining COW! Running to that boorish chef to tattle. So what if her filthy hands got a little filthier doing as I ask? She’s just a worthless servant, Amirah’s thoughts screamed inside her head. She fumed as she paced up and down the length of her living quarters. She stumbled over a large shiny golden locket. She reached down, and angrily pitched it at the wall. It hit its target with a jingling thud before finding a resting spot back on the hardwood. The hinge had burst open, revealing a lock of blond hair. Amirah approached it slowly, her ire draining. A streaming wisp of smoke erupted from where the locket lay; it began to take on shape. Amirah realized with a rush of horror that some spirit must have been released. She turned to run, to scream, to quickly put as much space between her and the malevolent specter as possible, but found she was frozen. Before her stood a tall, beautiful woman. Her hair was fair and cascaded down her back. Her features were sharp and feminine. She had one hand held high above her head, her lithe fingers curled, as though holding a marionette’s strings.

She examined Amirah with harsh eyes, tilting her head from side to side. “My, my. What a delicious little imp you are!” The woman’s voice was cold, her words hitting Amirah’s ears like shards of ice. Amirah strained against this magical hold, trying to spit curses at the witch, but to no avail. The woman took two nimble steps and was inches from Amirah’s nose. She traced Amirah’s chin with her pointer finger, chuckling lightly. “You are a naughty thing. Aren’t you? I can smell it. You reek of it.” She circled Amirah, swishing her velvety robes. Coming to a stop, she placed both hands on Amirah’s cheeks. “I have been trapped in that horrible locket for too long. Thanks to you, I have my freedom. I owe you a debt, dear child. How shall I pay you?” The witch tapped her finger on her soft pink lips, as though actually considering the options. “I will take your place here, unburdening you from the heavy crown you bear,” she suggested, her voice oozing venom. Seeing Amirah’s panicked expression, she continued, “No thanks necessary. And you, darling girl, will take my place. Won’t that be delightful? And no one will ever know!” As she spoke the last few words, she leaned down, and kissed Amirah’s forehead.

The room swirled and rocked, throwing Amirah off her feet and hitting her head. When she opened her eyes, she convinced herself she was dreaming. She was in a spacious circular room, the walls lined with crimson drapes. There were several plush cushions littering the floor. Amirah was situated directly in the center, atop a lush bed bedecked in thick blankets. There was no door. Amirah launched from the bed and searched for some exit. She found none.  There was only a mirror hanging just a few feet up. She touched the gilded frame. The contact seemed to breathe life into the reflective glass. Her face faded away and the room she knew as her own bloomed in its place. It wasn’t a dream; it was a nightmare! The witch she had liberated was frolicking about the place. She’s wearing MY clothes!

Amirah banged her fists against the mirror, screaming. “Help! Please let me out! Anyone! Can anybody hear me?” The sorceress continued prancing in stolen garb as Ruby entered the room once more. Amirah squealed with excitement, “Ruby! Oh you daft cow! Look here! I’m trapped! Get me out! Call the guard and throw that horrid beast in the dungeon! Ruby!”

But Ruby did not hear Amirah. Ruby walked toward the imposter, and handed her the ring.

“All better mistress? Anything else I can do for her highness?” Ruby asked, curtsying. The woman cast a sly glance in Amirah’s direction as she dipped, taking Ruby’s hand, raising her up.
“No, thank you, dear. I am perfectly content at the moment.”

Amirah balked, stepping back from the magical mirror. She was horrified, bewildered, and utterly hopeless. As Ruby took her leave, grinning bigger than ever, Amirah’s heart sank. She drooped onto the bed and felt the tears overwhelm her. She cried like the child that mourned her mother so long ago. She sobbed herself into oblivion, waking what seemed like hours later. Her eyes red, swollen with sorrow, she sat up and once again looked out upon the world from which she was forever hidden. The room was empty. With the witch wearing her face like some costume in a bizarre masquerade ball, Amirah assumed no one would ever know she was gone, and, even if they did, since she had always been so retched to them, they would not care.

Days went by as Amirah moped around her strange prison. At first she thought she would starve or die of thirst, until she had said out loud that she was hungry. As she said the words, a hot meal appeared on the bed, served on a highly polished silver tray. She soon learned the room made available the things she needed to survive, but nothing more. She had asked for a new dress, but nothing appeared. She asked for a door, but she was again denied.

Stranger things happened outside the locket. One evening she went to bed after gazing longingly at a young Ruby, prodding embers in the large fireplace in the corner of her room, the fake Amirah relaxing on a mound of fluffy pillows in the center of her goose down mattress; when she woke, the room had changed – furniture moved and replaced. When Ruby came in to dress the other princess, she was many years older. She still had the fresh face and same unkempt hair, but her body was fuller and swollen about the middle. She’s with child? How?

Time moved in crawls, then leaps, leaving Amirah feeling lost. The face in her mirror never aged, never changed in the slightest while the world beyond spun riotously forward. When the castle draped itself in black, grieving the king’s death, Amirah could take no more. She asked the room for a blade. It obliged. She picked up the sharp janbiya, and admired its lethal beauty. The smooth rhinoceros horn hilt and the curved Damascus steel came together as a perfect dagger. She knelt before her magic window, said a prayer for her long-lost father, and plunged the knife into her belly.

“I am so sorry father,” Amirah whispered, and she meant it.

 

Why Being A Junkie Is Easier Than Being Fat


Now, before I get a bunch of nasty comments and messages, I want to preface this by saying: I am not making light of those who struggle with addiction. Whether it be heroine, alcohol, or cocaine, or what ever else, it is not easy. It’s not easy to be using. It’s not easy to quit using. It’s not easy for the rest of your life – for you and/or your family. I am not saying that unequivocally being fat is the hardest thing to be. It all starts with choices. An addict first chooses their poison, including food addicts.

Ok. We good? May I continue?

Thank you.

When I was in high school, I was skinny. I mean proper skinny. Think blonde Olive Oyl, but with hips and a big butt and “the Rachel” hairdo. What happened? Life. After my first son was born, my figure didn’t change that much. I was 18, though. I could even fit in size 6 Tommy jeans. Yeah…. It was great.

Son number two came along, pregnancy problems, emergency caesarian and my shape when from hot to not so much. I was still in the healthy weight range, though. For about two years, I maintained a good weight. I was no longer Olive Oyl, but on the thin side of chubby.

Well, when you are married, you get comfortable. When you get comfortable, you think that second piece of cake is a good idea. That fifth can of coke is a no-brainer. Then, somewhere between kids, comfort, and simple denial, and now, you realize you just can’t look at yourself in the mirror anymore.

Some days I think, “No more. I am not going to be afraid of the scale. I am going to go shopping again one day!” Others I just want to give up, go plop on the couch with a whole pizza and two liter coke, and do all I can to emulate Jabba the Hut. Then again, there is the occasional day where my hair fixes nice, my makeup looks ok, and I can breathe in my jeans where I think, “maybe it’s not that bad. Maybe I am just seeing a fat girl where there isn’t one.” Of course, that’s a lie to myself. If I felt ugly every single day, without reprieve, I’d kill myself (figuratively speaking).

I now have three little boys. My youngest will turn three this August, so I can no longer claim it’s just the baby weight. Although, in the wrong shirt, I see a faux baby bump. When I see this awful thing, I cry inside.

I’m not morbidly obese or anything, but I’m not on the fat side of chubby. I also don’t buy in to the Victoria Secret idea of sexy. Honestly, I’m really concerned because the extra weight has caused some alarming health problems. High blood pressure, zero stamina, and getting winded doing minor activities are just a few issues I face.

Now, so far I haven’t actually lived up to the title, but I’m getting there. Stay with me.

I know people who struggle with addiction. I have known alcoholics. I’ve known people that have gotten clean, kicked the habit. I applaud them. My heart goes out to those haven’t been able to do that yet (if ever).

That is the big difference, though. You can quit a drug. You can quit alcohol. You can put that stuff down and never touch it again. You can stay out of bars, bad neighborhoods. You can say goodbye to the people in your life that still live that life. You wind up saving so much money that otherwise would have been put down a bottle or up your arm. You can start rebuilding relationships that were torn apart by your ugly habit. You have more time and can get your life back on track. Just by stopping, you start becoming healthier, looking better. No extra physical effort is required after the initial withdrawal. An elliptical is not a necessity for staying sober. Finally, with the exception of alcohol, abused substances don’t have million dollar ad campaigns trying to get you to buy their product.

Most people are addicted to illegal drugs or prescription drugs obtained illegally. Alcoholics tend to drive drunk. Getting clean and sober eliminates a large possibility of jail time.

You can’t quit food. You stop eating, you die. You can’t stay forever out of restaurants, kitchens, etc. You can’t rid your life of people that eat. You can’t eliminate other fat people from your life. Eating healthy costs more money than eating whatever is quick and cheap. Fixing healthy meals at home is time consuming, usually inconvenient (especially if you also have a job), and, again, costs more money. In addition to eating healthy, you also have to exercise. Not just once, but on a regular basis. Also, any time you forget to DVR a show, you are bombarded by commercials showing you every food you know you shouldn’t have. Not only do the commercials show you the food, they show you some ten pound stick figure just shovelling down bite after bite. That’s just at home. Billboards hit you on the road, print ads in your magazines, pop ups on your computer. Then, the hardest thing is going grocery shopping. Delectable little no-no’s every two inches wink at you from their shelves. It’s every waking moment you battle not just yourself, but everything in your life. You have to eat. You have to drink. If you “overdose” on chocolate cake, you don’t risk death. You don’t have to have your stomach pumped for too much pie. The risks are more subtle, take longer to see the effects. You don’t wake up one morning at a buck ten, go on a bender one weekend, look in the mirror Monday morning and suddenly get fat.

I’m not giving up. I’m not going to kid myself into thinking every day will be a win. There’s no “falling off the wagon” for those on a diet. People don’t have interventions for those on the plus side. Family and friends are actually more likely to encourage you to “go easy on yourself,” “give yourself a break or a cheat day.” They will tell you that you are beautiful just like you are, don’t change, and other obvious bull crap to make you feel better.

So, in the end, yes. I do believe, in some ways, trying to no longer be fat is easier than trying to no longer be a junkie.

Lucy


Lucy

Lucy that never was,
And Lucy will never be.
I will never have Lucy snuggled right next to me.

I will never see her little hands
Holding mine so tight,
Never sooth her crying
In the middle of the night.

I will never take her picture,
Or see her smile so wide
Never have her in my arms,
But oh my child, I tried.

Please, little one forgive me.
I couldn’t bring you here.
I wanted you so much to be,
But I know you belong where you are.

 

Fat


It’s been a while since I have posted anything new (with the exception of the short poem posted last week). I want to say that I’ve been too busy to post or write, but that’s not true. I could have. I just didn’t. Call it laziness or lack of motivation, but it doesn’t matter. This is going to be part of my attempt to get healthy. I want to be healthy in mind and body, but I can’t seem to get the motivation. I wouldn’t necessarily categorize myself as “fat” but I am definitely overweight. I used to be a rail, a stick figure, but then I had kids. I was married (still am married, actually), and we got comfortable. We liked to eat, and I didn’t like to exercise. Well, here it is almost 10 years later and I’m paying for a decade of poor health choices. I am trying to lose weight and quit feeling like a beached whale. So far, I can’t leave the cokes alone. It’s the only addiction I own. I work, come home, take care of my wonderful boys, eat, sleep, etc. Do I have time sometime in the evening or on weekends to exercise? You bet! Do I? Nope. Why? Part of it is that I am simply too lazy to get my butt up and get on the elliptical or go outside for a jog or whatever. Another part is the time it takes. I have to prepare for exercise. I have to put on exercise clothes and shoes, make sure that the kids (including my 7 month old) will be ok during the duration of my activity, and then I can actually work out. The kids part is usually the hardest. Since my husband and I work different schedules, he’s not always home when I am. So the baby has to be taking a nap while I work out on those nights I am alone. Naps aren’t always a sure thing either because I never know exactly how long I’ll get. He’s on a schedule, so the nap time is pretty steady, it’s just the nap duration varies. Some days he gets really tired and will take a solid nap, but others he’s just not and I get maybe 15 minutes, especially if my older two are loud – and they are loud more often than not. If I was really determined, these would be minor obstacles, but I can’t seem to force myself to be that determined. My brain keeps nagging at me to strengthen my resolve and soldier on, but then everything else says I have so much time later. I have the infinite world of tomorrow. Yes, spoken like a true procrastinator. Tomorrow is a lovely place so full of promise and possibility. Tomorrow I will conquer the world, but today… Today is a nasty little place where promise and possibility come to die. Today is always where I get hung up. So maybe, tomorrow will be a better day than today. Here’s to hoping…

Closet Know-It-All


Do you ever hear someone say something wrong, whether it’s a grammatical error, a misquote, or telling something as fact that is slightly to way off and have an almost uncontrollable urge to immediately correct them?  If so, you are not alone.  I am right there with you.  Yes, it may seem a little irritating, but if they are wrong and you are right that is all that matters in the end.  Some of my biggest pet peeves are as follows: 1. When you say the word realtor, please don’t add a vowel between the “l” and “t.” 2. It’s never “hisself,” it’s himself.  3. “Your” is the possessive form, “you’re” is the contraction of “you” and “are.” Please use the appropriate one when you write, text, etc.  4. Unless you specify that you are paraphrasing, don’t say you are quoting someone.  That means you are saying what they said verbatim, and it is even more irritating if you add to your paraphrase air quotes or say, “and I quote,” because you’re not (see I used the appropriate one).

Other than gramatical issues, I sometimes correct on trivia from movies, television, and music.  Please don’t mangle a quote or a factoid from a movie I love because I will call you on it.  Yes, this may make me the last person with whom you want to play Trivial Pursuit, but I am generally more concerned with being right than what you think, obviously.  Why would I want to hang around people who are always wrong anyway?  Geez!  (Just kidding.)  If you are like me, and are itching to comment on the error on this post, do so.  You can also like the blog, the page, etc.

Closet Addict


Yes.  I admit it.  As shameful and deplorable as it may be, I am an addict.  The object of my detestable addiction is coke.  How many times a day do I reach for it?  Relying on it to get me through the day?  Well, it’s more than I care to tell you.  I will devour it in any form, too.  Be it bottle, can, or fountain, I will partake.

Did I just confuse you?  Did you re-read that line to be sure you read it correctly?  You thought I meant cocaine, didn’t you?  Naughty.  No.  My addiction is to that carbonated caramel colored concoction, Coca-Cola.  (Not Pepsi.) I don’t know how many times I have tried to quit, but then you go to a restaurant, and what happens?  It’s Coke, tea, or water. Tea wouldn’t be that bad, but, since I order my drinks without ice, it’s always warm.  Can’t they put some in the fridge?  Anyway, completely different subject there.  Quitting seems so easy, just find something else to drink.  There’s juice.  I like juice – orange and apple.  Not very good with dinner, though.  Or lunch.  Or alone.  Basically juices are restricted to breakfast.  Of course the withdrawal from them makes it a less than pleasant experience.  The headaches, irritability, cravings.  They hit the moment I even think about quitting.  I have tried alternative no calorie drinks, too.  Coke Zero, despite the commercials claiming otherwise, tastes more like carbonated swill than the original Coke.  I don’t see how people can drink those diet or zero calorie drinks.  They all taste so funky.  Maybe one day I’ll quit for good, but until then, I will enjoy.  Aaaaahhh… Refreshing!

Closet Singer


How many people have dreamed of being on a show like American Idol, The Voice, or America’s Got Talent? Millions have. These hopeful visionaries will sleep on the street while in line with thousands of others all hoping to attain that same goal. You want to go, stand in front of those judges, do your best Mariah Carey, and blow everyone away! No one could doubt that you are a star. You are right up there with the greats. You know it; they know it. The only tiny problem is, you aren’t standing in front of Steven Tyler or Sharon Osbourn or even Adam Levine.  You are at home, in your most worn out pajamas, singing in front of the mirror in your bedroom. And, it’s true, you do sound like Celine Dion (as long as your ear buds are in, music is full blast, and you are listening to “My Heart Will Go On”).  But what your kids, roommate, spouse, etc hear is William Hung. I’m right there with you.  I get in my car for a long drive home from work (not to work because that is my Kidd Kraddick hour), put on my iPod, and sing until I’m hoarse. I don’t care. My fellow travelers will stare, giggle, or make fun of my out of tune screeching, but all I hear is fabulous-ness! I am Christina Aguillera, Whitney Houston, and Mariah Carey. I am Rachel Berry and Santana! I am Michael Jackson and all four of The Beatles.  I can go sky high doing runs all the way up, and my lows are smoky and sexy. Then I get home, turn off the music, and, magically, become me again. I secretly want someone to hear and think, “Wow, she’s great,” but I know that the only “Wow” I get is because I am singing so badly so loudly.  But sing away, my dear superstars. Sing to your heart’s content! Be out of tune, be off key, be “pitchy,” be YOU!

 

 

 

 

 

Closet Narcissist


Being a narcissist means, in the simplest terms, that you are full of yourself.  It is the opposite of humble.  Deep down, most people are narcissistic. That’s why everyone has a Facebook and Twitter account or even a blog.  Yes, even I am full of…myself. You post your status because you believe that everyone is hanging on every word.  What is Random Friend on Facebook up to today? Well, she’ll tell you.  She is sick and tired of that boyfriend or is so head over heels in love with her boyfriend, depending on the day.  Of course some people will care, others try not to care, but get sucked into the emotional drama like a virtual soap opera.  Everyone believes they could be the next superstar, and, in this reality tv driven, everyone foaming at the mouth for the most outlandish, disgusting, or dysfunctional person they can watch 24/7 and silently pass judgement on (or truly wish they could be), could be. Talent has become less an absolute must-have on your resume to an interesting footnote (assuming it was there at all, which it wouldn’t have to be). Take the success of the Kardashians. (I could insert a lame joke there and say, Really, please take them, but I won’t.) What talent do they have? Looking good on camera? And…  …   … Nope that’s it, but they are A listers. What happened to the A list being designated for those celebrities that had actually accomplished something? That people admired for what they could do on-screen or with a guitar and a microphone. Those select few we all tried to be when we saw or heard them and it set a fire of desire in our hearts to make it big someday. The desire is still there, but the road to fame went from being a narrow and difficult path up a glorious mountain to an easy old dirt road that ends in a viral video on YouTube. But I digress. I don’t post this blog for a simple creative outlet.  I can write in a journal and keep it to myself.  I chose this public forum because, though I scorn others who try to take the quick road to fame, I secretly want it myself.  There are a few of you who are content just to live your life free of fame and notoriety, but the rest of us want it. Most will never come close (including me), but that doesn’t stop us from posting random and pointless comments on Facebook and Twitter (and on our blogs, which is the embodiment of our narcissism). We want people to notice, and more over think they should notice because we are special and more important, overall, than anyone else. So are you in the closet?  What are you hiding? We all hide something or somethings… Let it loose and embrace it!

Closet Personality


Every so often, when I become bored with the day, or have watched too much Kate Winslet or Harry Potter, I will start speaking in a British accent. I’ve gotten pretty good at it. It’s not the cockney or the more John Lennon Liverpool accent, and I don’t sound forced and overly comical like Dick Van Dyke in Mary Poppins. Although… I do love that movie – even Dick Van Dyke.  It was just an awful accent. The one I use is more like the incomparable Julie Andrews, but, alas, our similarities end there. It sounds very proper and elegant, very unlike me… So sometimes I’m not me. I am British. The British me is named Olivia. She was born in Manchester. She longs for the English countryside of her youth and her family lives there still. I don’t have DPD (Dissociative Personality Disorder, formerly known as Multiple Personality Disorder); I just have an overactive imagination. Although that fascinated me, too.  I have a Schizophrenic uncle, and that is easily the most extraordinary psychiatric affliction I know… More on that later… Do you ever pretend to be someone else? Use an accent? I have a few other characters I also let loose on occassion… The Scot (has my name) , the goofy cartoon nerd (Guthberta), my baby voice (Lucy), and I am working on my Irish… More on them later… Most people have dreamed of being an actor, but if you can’t, you can still play a part. Creat the role of a lifetime for yourself and see how many people you can fool! And watch the hilarity ensue! 

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