You Can’t Fix People You Didn’t Break by Melissa Cynova

Photo by Crossroad Images

One of the things that I often hear in my readings is heartache over the behavior of our loved ones. Our partner is cheating or emotionally absent. Our friends are neglecting us. Someone is being too smothery or won’t stop using drugs, or won’t pick up the phone or won’t love us back.

Someone is hurting us.

The first instinct in these situations is to try to fix it. We blame ourselves for our loved one’s indiscretions or their lack of attention. Clearly, we’re not doing enough to earn their love. We tell ourselves, in the words of Ani DiFranco, “Maybe if HE loved me, then I’d love me, too.” and we reach and pull and contort ourselves to feel worthy and ready to receive that love.

And what then? When we don’t get it? What if we lost weight or grew our hair out or stopped swearing all the goddamned time? What happens then? We expect/want/need the person to drop all of the previous broken behavior and come to us whole. After all, we’ve done so much to make them happy.

Why won’t they be happy?

Mostly? Because we can’t fix them and we can’t make anyone love us back. Unless our behavior has caused whatever the disconnect is – we can’t fix it.

If your partner is leaving the relationship, unless you have caused the absence, you can’t make them stay. You probably don’t want to, since that breeds resentment. If your partner has intimacy issues, unless you caused them, you can’t fix that.

Counseling can, but unless they want to go to counseling, you can’t fix that, either.

So what do we do? That’s the hard part. We have a hard conversation, and then we make a hard decision. If your partner is hurting you – in whatever way – it clearly can’t continue. So you have the very hard conversation that says, “This is unacceptable. I need you to stop.” If they don’t, or won’t get help to try to stop, you decide.

You choose living with them and this flaw, or living without them.

If you decide to stick it out in the same conditions, you’ve made a very clear choice to be ok with what’s going on. I know that some circumstances are appalling, but there is always hope. I had a client recently move herself and her children in with a cousin  – leaving everything – while her husband was arrested for domestic violence. She made a choice and got out when it was safe and she was able. There are always exceptions.

If you decide to go, then go. Flopping back and forth isn’t going to help in the long run, and it’s just exhausting. The wisdom here is realizing that the only thing you can control is your own behavior, and the only person you can change is yourself.

What if they change, though? In the future? What if they stop doing this thing that you’ve asked and asked them to? Well, let’s worry about that tomorrow.

After they’ve fixed themselves.

Photo by Crossroad Images

About the Author: Melissa Cynova

Melissa CynovaMelissaC_Bio is owner of Little Fox Tarot, and has been reading tarot cards and teaching classes since 1989. She can be found in the St. Louis area, and is available for personal readings, parties and beginner and advanced tarot classes. You can Look for her first book, Kitchen Table Tarot, from Llewellyn Publishing in January 2017.

Melissa lives in St. Louis with her kiddos, her partner, Joe, and two cats, two dogs and her tortoise, Phil.

She is on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram. Go ahead and schedule a reading – she already knows you want one.

Sunday Sanctuary: The Cracks and Creativity


I have stopped and started several versions of my November 2016 Sunday Sanctuary. My original intention for this month was to share a deeply personal experience in my creative life as we were on the edges of shifting our theme from “Wisdom” to “Mystic or Magic”. That isn’t what you’re getting today.

Modern Creative Life is about honoring the pursuit of joyful creation and celebrating what it means to live creatively. From before our inception, it was important to me as the Editor in Chief to make this a safe space – free from political discourse. I believe that each and every person, no matter how entrenched in the issues facing the world, needs a place to escape both the vitriol and the intelligent dialogue.

We all need respite and what better respite than poetry, stories, and beauty?

That’s why I’m writing to you two weeks early.

I switched places with another editor so that she could have more time to process what’s happening in the outside world. Part of the responsibility as Editor in Chief to is to step in when others have challenges and take the brunt of the burden. Even if that means discomfort for me.

Especially when it calls for me to dig into my own creative well when I am feeling parched one moment and somewhere-in-the-atlanticdrowning in ideas the next moment. As I shared with you in September, I am in evolutionary waters. I am adrift in a vast ocean of those ideas, but like being at sea, I can’t drink the salty water and have my thirst quenched. Evolution is beautiful once you emerge from the cocoon and your new wings are ready to soar. But this part? The middle part? It isn’t very pretty to observe.

That story that I long to share with you is about a pinnacle moment in every evolution, but it needs more time to incubate. So that draft is squirreled away until next month when it’s had it’s incubation time…and when I’ve had the time to get a little more support from my friends. I’ve told two by voice, one by email, but only just confessed the moment in a letter, which wasn’t mailed until yesterday.

It was back to the drawing board yesterday.

I wrote about the late arrival of autumn here in Ohio. No matter how I tweaked it, that story was boring, especially in light of the most recent Sunday Salon.

Our chipmunk experience is a story I’ve been wanting to share here as it’s the trifecta of perfection for what I want to write about as a part of Sunday Sanctuary. Charlie, our resident chipmunk, antagonizes John and he now identifies with Donald Duck. I downloaded a few screen shots of Chip, Dale, and Donald. But I don’t have the flair for humor you get to witness in Sunday Brunch and knew that that story will have to wait until I have time for it to be edited by another before I polish and share it.

I have at least three other drafts here inside the circuits of my computer and none of them are ready, either.

I went to bed last night hoping that by morning, I could breathe a bit more life into one of the pieces sitting in the limbo of creativity: draft mode. I woke at 1:30 this morning and was sorely tempted to come downstairs to my office and take another stab, but instead laid in bed and read The Little Paris Bookshop until I was sleepy again.

For the first time since we launched Modern Creative Life, I missed my deadline. That’s not my norm and I promise bananapancakesyou it won’t become my norm here.

As I made banana pancakes for breakfast, I pulled at my own threads of wisdom. Though he doesn’t quite understand my creative brain, I was able to share my challenges with John over those banana pancakes, topped with more bananas and walnuts and maple syrup. As I cleaned my kitchen, I made the decision to come back to the page and share some straightforward advice as my last column in the Wisdom issue.

As a creative being, you have a sacred responsibility to your creativity.

I have spent many years giving up creative endeavors due to the influences of the outside world: ballet, singing, crafting, and acting to name a few.

I have witnessed multiple times that when creative souls don’t create, they wither and become dry and brittle.

In her research on what it took to live a wholehearted, authentic life, Brene Brown discovered that the opposite of creativity is depression. So, when we feel depressed, we have a responsibility to ourselves to create.

When you are too distraught to paint, you need to paint. When you are too angry to write, you need to write. When you believe the world is an ugly place, you need to make your immediate surroundings as beautiful as possible.

This does not mean that what you paint or write or sculpt or play is ready for public consumption, but the process of creating will always be healing for the person creating.

Even when it feels hard and even when, like me, you feel as if you are dying of thirst, surrounded by water that you are unable to drink.

You may not be able to change what is happening in the world, but what you can control is how you use your creativity to enhance your daily life. You can bring flowers into your home, create a delectable meal for people you love, and be kind to strangers in the grocery store. You have the power to cultivate rituals to nourish yourself and your own creativity. You can choose to turn away from vitriol and anger and deepen your understanding of your own gifts.

As the great Leonard Cohen, may he rest in peace, wrote in his song Anthem

Ring the bells that still can ring
Forget your perfect offering
There is a crack, a crack in everything
That’s how the light gets in.

Everyone, no matter what side of the aisle they are on, feels as if the world is full of cracks. That’s why you must honor your responsibility to your creativity.

letting-the-light-inWhat you create in the coming weeks will likely not be a perfect offering, but by creating it, you will allow the light into your own soul.

About the Author: Debra Smouse

debra_Smouse_mclDebra Smouse is a self-admitted Tarnished Southern Belle, life coach, and author of Clearing Soul Clutter: Creating Your Vision.  She resides in Dayton, Ohio where she practices the art of living with the Man of Her Dreams. When she’s not cleaning the shower drain as a way to avoid writing,  you’ll find her reading or enjoying the antics of her neighboring chipmunk. She’s the Editor in Chief here at Modern Creative Life. Connect with her on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram.

Good Help is Hard to Find by Briana Saussy

Instrumental_Care of Creative Soul

We often talk about resistance in terms of creativity and creative life. Many of us are aware of how resistance creeps in through the muffled voices that say your work is terrible to the undeniable external realities of needing to go to work, do laundry, and feed the cat. And because more of us have started having a conversation around resistance in our creative lives, more of us are able to identify and properly banish resistance and get on with the work that is calling out to us.

Today I want to look at a different form that resistance takes, especially among women from what I have observed, and this is the resistance to asking for help.


I see it everywhere: at my child’s school where asking a parent to volunteer or give to the annual fund feels like a huge burden, in business where asking for a person who has a specific skill set to come on board for a limited time can feel like an insurmountable task, I see it in our spiritual lives where we are always looking and turning away from offers of help – sometimes simultaneously, and the list goes on: money, health, self-care, relationships and so on.

To say what wisdom is truly is beyond the scope of my abilities but I do think that knowing how to find good help calls upon a practical wisdom that we all carry within us even though it sometimes feels like we don’t know how to access it. So let’s find out together!

As I have been studying and watching this I have found that there are four big challenges to asking for good help, here they are:

One: Knowing what you really need help with.

It is a truism in business that if you don’t know what you don’t know then everything you do from that point of ignorance will at best be wrong and at worst create all kinds of unforeseen complications. You have to know what you don’t know, or, to put it another way, you need to know and clearly understand where you need help and what kind of help you need.

In my experience this knowledge is possible for all but it is also hard won and often gained through experience.

How often have you sought out help for something and even after receiving the help did not get the outcome you were hoping for? Such an experience makes us less likely to ask for help and usually more likely to blame the faulty outcome on the assistance we received. But think back to one such time in your life (we all have them) and ask yourself: going into this did I know what I needed? Did I know what I didn’t know?

Two: Help (usually) does not appear magically.

Have you heard the saying that when the student is ready, the teacher will appear? Maybe. Sometimes. But most of the time you have to go looking for the right teacher or learning community just like you have to go looking for good help. Finding help is an activity and so requires you to be an active participant.

Even in the most luxurious situations – like getting a massage – you have to book the massage and probably you will need to try several different therapists before you find the one that is the just right fit for you. There will be false starts and misfires in most cases when you are seeking out aid and assistance; don’t let them deter you.

Three: Good help carries a cost.

There is a cultural attitude that many of us have been exposed to that tells us that help should always be free.The web night-office-shirt-mailand the culture that has grown out of it, encourages the same attitude as we are always enjoined to write “good, free, helpful, content”.

The fact that there are so many sources to turn to for free help is a cause for celebration for sure, but we should also remember that many places, people, and resources that can provide us with good and needed help are not going to be free, nor should they. Even all of that “free” content available on the web is not really free: at the very least it carries the cost of your time and in many cases the content is not available until you sign up or opt-in to something specific.

Sometimes we can feel resentful about the fact that the help we need carries a cost but when you get right down to it and you look at the real cost of going forward without the proper help you will quickly find that the check you write out to your helper is the one you should be most delighted to pen.

Four: The work begins when you find the right help.

Finally, many of us feel (hope, anticipate) that once the right help has arrived we can sit back and sip our latte’s or margaritas while the sunsets. But you know what I am going to tell you, right?

Good help is not the end of your work; it is the beginning of the work that you are best at and most ready to do.

Any kind of good help: be it a person, resource, or tool does not show up to make your work go away, it shows up to make your work (and life) better. YOU are the unchanging constant in that equation. When the right help shows up, the real work can get started, so be ready to participate full on.


Whether you are looking for the right massage therapist, financial planning tool, magical candle, or business assistant you can apply these challenges above and discover which one(s) you get most easily stuck on. Give yourself a break, get up, and go find that good help – you will be so happy when you do.

About the Author: Briana Saussy

briana_bioHi, I’m Briana! I am a writer, teacher, and spiritual counselor, and I am part of a growing community of soulful seekers, people who are looking for wholeness, holiness and healing – for better, more rewarding lives.

The best way to work with me and begin living an enchanted life right here and now is to register for a year of lunar light devotionals.

Outlets, Time Limits, and Fellow Travelers: A Few Guidelines for Writing about the Hard Stuff by Andi Cumbo-Floyd


I’ve been at this long, wooden desk for hours. My neck is sore, and I’m chilled by the climate-controlled air in this bunker of a space. My eyes burn from trying to read 19th-century handwriting. But it’s not my body that hurts the most; it’s my spirit.

After six hours of searching hundreds of documents for tiny mentions of people who were enslaved by other people, I have exactly two pages of notes, and I know exactly six names.

One man named Peter owned two chickens.

I don’t know who they loved, what their favorite food was, or favorite color. I don’t know what they thought about their awful situation or whether or not they imagined they’d ever be free. I know almost nothing, and this reality could break me if I let it. But these people survived profound horror. I cannot let words on pages break me. I won’t.

The research and writing about people who were enslaved in Virginia is not easy work.

It’s soul-tearing, heart-rending labor that zaps me physically and psychologically. But I have learned – in over five years of doing this research as a total labor of love – that I need some guidelines to help me, to keep me from being broken.

Five Things Help Me Keep Going

  1. Outlets. I need places where I can put the pain and stories I immerse myself in. For me, that place is my books. I imagine these people on the page. I try my best to tell their stories. I create new stories that are drawn from the real-life ones, filling in silences and embodying people who, through the violence of history, have been made invisible to many of us.
  2. Time Limits. Through practice, I have learned that I can only do this work – particularly the research – for a few hours a day. I cannot work 40 hours a week on these stories, as much as I’d like to, without doing some real damage to both my spirit and my perspective. I need to limit myself so that I can do good work for the long-haul.
  3. Systems. I have found that systems – for tracking information, for sharing what I find, for filing my notes, for writing from those notes – are crucial for me. They keep me moving ahead when the weight of these stories threatens to crush me. I use careful spreadsheets and timelines, organized photographs and photocopies, and immaculate files of notes to help me keep some distance from the stories, not so I don’t feel but so that my feelings don’t overtake my ability to tell the story.
  4. Escapes. Sometimes, I just have to step away into another world entirely, move out of the antebellum South and move into a place where a man travels in a phone box or where a team of FBI profilers solves crime. I may need to dive into a story of mythical sirens or climb into the pages of a mystery set in a cheese shop. The deeper I am into the work of researching and writing about enslaved people the lighter my reading and watching need to be.
  5. Fellow Travelers. By far, the most important resource I have when this work is so hard and painful is people. My friends who also research slavery, my friends who understand the legacy of racism, my friends who are activists and historians – they are the ones who keep me going. They get it. They know the way stories wrap around us like hugs that squeeze too tight. They know the way elided information can break your heart. They know the way someone saying, “Why can’t we just get over it?” can bring up a rage so fierce it could burn the paper at my fingertips. I need these folks to keep me going, and they need me, too.

I don’t know what you write – stories from trauma, personal struggles, injustice writ large on the lives of people we know – but I expect that at some point in your life you have written or will write about something really difficult. If you do, be wise my friends.  Protect yourself with limits and tools, people and escapes that will keep you strong for the journey.

We need your story.  And we need you healthy enough to tell it.

About the Author: Andi Cumbo-Floyd

andibio1Andi Cumbo-Floyd is a writer, editor, and farmer, who lives on 15 blissful acres at the edge of the Blue Ridge Mountains with her husband, 6 goats, 4 dogs, 4 cats, and 22 chickens. Her books include Steele Secrets, The Slaves Have Names, and Writing Day In and Day Out.  The next book in her Steele Secrets Series, Charlotte and the Twelve, is available for pre-order.

Connect with Andi at her website,, or via Facebook and Twitter.

Creating a Sanctuary by Bella Cirovic

Instrumental_Care of Creative Soul

The clocks have just moved back an hour. Dusk and darkness settle in much earlier than what I am used to. This time of the year always feels like a season of preparation for the cold months that are inevitably coming. Before winter arrives, I want to prepare my nest so that I am comfortable. I begin with that intention: comfort. My surroundings must be plush, soft, and supportive, so that when I am feeling internal discomfort, I have a sweet landing spot.

I feel like creating a sanctuary, a haven to hold me all winter long. This work of caring for myself is non-stop and I find myself constantly modifying my surroundings to best suit my mood. “What will the cold months be like?” I wonder. This is how I am prepping for their arrival.


Comfort during the cold months will look like empty counter spaces that hold only my coffee pot and jars filled with tea bags, homemade marshmallows, and caramel nut popcorn for snacking. I truly feel at home with a warm drink and I need these items to be out in the open; a visible invitation to warm the belly. Within reaching distance will be the milk frother, cinnamon, and my favorite mug.

The corners of my living space will hold baskets filled with yarn, journaling supplies, books and magazines. My favorite way to spend the day is to be active in the morning by getting some cleaning done, having dinner prepped for cooking later on, and then relaxing on the couch while watching a show or a movie. The time is best passed with some knitting or if I choose to forego the T.V, I’ll spend some time reading. This feels so calming to me.

I will make a special trip to the store to stock up on church candles and incense. There is a divine feel to a room that is surrounded in candlelight and smoke swirls. Having these items close to me make me feel supported and safe. I also keep crystals for clarity, like my quartz chunk or my smokey quartz point nearby for comfort and as allies for my meditation time.

Music and the flow of soothing sounds are a grounding and necessary part of my day. I will browse for Pandora stations and Spotify playlists that compliment how I’m feeling and turn the speaker up high. For me, there must be a soundtrack playing in the background almost all the time. Music allows me to move and break up stagnant energy. I dance it out hard to warm up my blood, kick up my circulation, sweat, and to wake up my cells. Dance and movement are a must during the winter.

I keep the refrigerator and pantry shelves full of fresh fruits, veggies, and all the add-ons for delicious and colorful soup and salad making. This season, I have given up my beloved wine, so I am trying mocktails with fruit flavored sodas and bitters.


Finally, I created a perfume oil that feels like home to me. I created it during a time when I wasn’t feeling particularly at home in my skin. Each component of the oil evokes a sense of confidence in myself, trust in my own intuition, and space to show myself some mercy. The scent is called Sanctuary, a perfect compliment to the space I am carving out for myself during this season.

Are you creating a special space to expand and relax in for the cold? I would love to hear more about it in the comments.

About the Author: Bella Cirovic

Bella Cirovic BioBella Cirovic is a photographer and writer who lives with her husband and daughter in the suburbs outside of NYC. She writes on the subjects of self care, body love and nourishment, crystals, essential oils, and family life. Catch up with Bella at her blog: She Told Stories

Note: Bella is offering Modern Creative Life readers $5 off their order of this perfume oil using the code: MCLfive. Read more about Sanctuary here.
*Coupon will be good through Nov. 30th.


Thudding by John Hulme

The Dee Estuary by John Hulme

The Dee Estuary by John Hulme

A summer night. Half-lit

stillness where the stars

ought to be.

Clouds curl at the edges,

billow catches fire, and a

small lake of leftover

tidewater sketches ripples

along the edge of the beach.

A pipistrelle hunts over the


A kestrel swoops over the

grassland, hovers, shifts

suddenly in the breeze and

drops onto a meal.

An eerie thudding echoes in

from the sea.

The lighthouse refuses to


Somebody is planting more

wind turbines –

or perhaps flowers.

Giant ones.

Petal sentinels.

Perhaps a welcoming beacon

for container ships, as they

glide in from the sacred

waters of the outer galaxy.

Perhaps my imagination has

waded out to sea with a giant


I promised you a sunset –

and a small token of my


I’m afraid I can’t give you any

more than that. Not until I

figure out what I have been

waiting for all these years.

It’s not in the clouds tonight.

It’s not in the breeze.

It’s not in this heart.

It’s not in the thudding of

angry seas.

So why does it haunt my

ragged soul? Why is its

name written across my


Why do I cradle your smile in

my hands?

I will stand here forever now…

just a breath away from

spaceships and sea monsters.

The full truth of everything

that can’t be written in books. A smile.

A kiss.

A long and badly-timed goodbye.

A small child walking home

across the grassy dunes…

knowing that there is no


There is only the silence…

the whisper…

the distant thudding of the


This is my story, my rallying

cry, my farewell sermon from

the shoreline.

I crumble.

The sun burns away my voice.

I write my most enduring

masterpiece in the stillness of

a world without sentences.

About the author, John Hulme

John HulmeJohn Hulme is a British writer from the Wirral, a small peninsula near Liverpool in the North of England. Trained in journalism (in which he has a masters degree), John’s first love was storytelling, trying to make sense of the world around him using his offbeat imagination. Since the death of his mother in 2010, John’s work has grown increasingly personal, and has become heavily influenced by Christian mysticism. This has led to the publication of two poetry books, Fragments of the Awesome (2013) and The Wings of Reborn Eagles (2015). A mix of open mike performances, speaking engagements and local community radio appearances has opened up new avenues which John is now eager to pursue. He is hoping to go on a kind of busking road trip fairly soon, provisionally titled Writer seeks gig, being John.  Find out more about John on Facebook.

Sunday Salon: Natural Artist

Sunday Salon with Becca Rowan


My living room is bathed in golden light.  Relaxed in my favorite chair, a cup of fresh coffee waiting for my first sip, I am surrounded by the  vibrant colors of autumn. The trees in our backyard are at the peak of color, so bright I want backyard-treeto put on sunglasses. The sky is a blue so sharp, it almost hurts my eyes. The contrast of crimson, gold, and russet leaves outlined against the blue makes a palette any artist would die for. Later on, when I go upstairs to my desk, my window is filled with the outline of orange leaves pasted against the background of azure sky. It’s tough to get any work done with that amazing vista right in front of me.

In Michigan we’ve had an exceedingly beautiful autumn, warmer and drier than most. The leaves have taken their time in changing and maintained their beauty far longer than normal. My morning walks are a feast for the eyes, even here within our neighborhood. When I’m out and about, one of my normal routes takes me through a hilly landscape with a river running beside the road, a landscape so distracting I have to consciously pull my eyes back to the road. Talk about distracted driving – fall foliage is as dangerous as the cell phone!

In autumn, nature is truly a work of art. And though I personally don’t have any natural talent in making visual art, I am grateful to be enriched by the spectacle of this natural art all around me. It’s like living in an art museum and being surrounded by nature’s inspiring palette.

For me this has been a year of looking for refuge, of desperately seeking beauty and inspiration and a sense that -as the Christian mystic Julian of Norwich wrote –  “all shall be well and all shall be well and all manner of things shall be well.”  My pantry of creative ideas feels bare, the river of inspiration runs rocky and dry. Yet the trees outside my window only have to BE and they are beautiful. They stand rooted in their space on earth and allow nature to work it’s artful magic. Then they simply glow with radiance.

Could my own glowing come that easily?

The poet Mary Oliver writes:

I try to remember when time’s measure
painfully chafes, for instance when autumn

flares out at the last, boisterous and like us longing
to stay – – – how everything lives, shifting

from one bright vision to another, forever
in these momentary pastures.

Maybe I search too hard for my bright visions. Maybe all I need to do it is live in the momentary pasture of autumn and the bright visions of life will find their way to my feet. Life offers so much inspiration all around, free and easy for the taking if we open our eyes and hearts to it.

Like the leaves that fall in a sea of color all around me. Naturally beautiful. Naturally inspiring. Naturally art.


About the Author: Becca Rowan

becca_rowan_bio_may2016Becca Rowan lives in Northville, Michigan with her husband and their two dogs. She is the author of Life in General, a book of personal and inspirational essays about the ways women navigate the passage into midlife. She is also a musician, and performs as a pianist and as a member of Classical Bells, a professional handbell ensemble. If she’s not writing or playing music you’ll likely find her out walking with the dogs or curled up on the couch reading with a cup of coffee (or glass of wine) close at hand. She loves to connect with readers at her blog, or on Facebook, Twitter, or Goodreads.

Dear Life by Lisa Zaran


It’s time to let the drunken nights
forget their intellectual ease.
Who cares, except maybe that guy
you were appointing loopy wisdom to,
with spit no less.

A thousand normal days and one lonely
evening just happens to catch you off guard.
The bar is a semblance of Paris, tiny glasses
and bites of cheese, boys with allergies and

On Monday the world will be a different place.
Traffic, obligations, friends. The boss
will come across articulately. You will do
what you need to do, desiring a good life.
God awful what’s happening to you.

Isn’t it?

About the Author: Lisa Zaran

LisaZaranBioLisa Zaran is the author of eight collections of poetry including Dear Bob Dylan, If It We, The Blondes Lay Content and the sometimes girl. She is the founder and editor of Contemporary American Voices. When not writing, Zaran spends her days in Maricopa county jails assisting women with remembering their lost selves.

Not So Traditional by Patricia Wellingham-Jones


She once had a man
who thought beyond the traditional
though he had nothing against
candles and moonlight and wine.
Yes, he could be contentious
but only for a good cause
(at least that’s what he said at the time).
He’d rather celebrate
(and they celebrated everything)
perched on rocks by the shimmering stream
with a bottle of champagne
poured in hand-thrown mugs.
If the thermostat didn’t cooperate
he’d gather blankets
and they’d cocoon
high in the mountains by a lake
or in front of a fire in a drafty cabin.
She got so she’d merely blink,
let herself enjoy the contrast,
and she’s glad she did
now that her favorite playmate is gone.

About the Author: Patricia Wellingham-Jones

PatriciaWellingham-JonesPatricia Wellingham-Jones is a widely published former psychology researcher and writer/editor. She has a special interest in healing writing, with poems recently in The Widow’s Handbook (Kent State University Press). Chapbooks include Don’t Turn Away: poems about breast cancer, End-Cycle: poems about caregiving, Apple Blossoms at Eye Level, Voices on the Land and Hormone Stew.

Always Have a Spotter by Selena Taylor

To an uninformed observer, it would have seemed that Death’s walk along the lakeshore was lazy, that his approach to the lady on the beach was almost casual.

“Good morning, 34,” Death greeted her.

“Good morning. You can call me Liana.”

“34, names are useless.” His tone was flat. Bored, even.

The lady formerly known as Liana gave Death a look that was about ten percent surprise and ninety percent disappointment. Then she sighed. “For a moment, I thought you were going to be nice.”

The other rolled his eyes. “I am Death,” he intoned. “When is that ever nice?”

“Point taken.” 34 dropped into a seated position on the beach, burrowing into the sand with her bare toes. “My stupid neighbor left his fishing line out. I couldn’t see it, and wound up caught in it. Tangled, really.”

Death’s tone remained detached. “You don’t say.”

Number 34 gave him a look that left no doubt of her mood. I am pissed off, her expression telegraphed. When the other didn’t bother to respond, she chose not to dwell on her mood. She looked back at the water. It had been still before, calm, but now a small johnboat was on the lake, moving toward the fishing line. “Looks like he’s going to reel in that line, now.”

“Looks like,” Death agreed. “He’ll find a nice surprise waiting.”

They both chuckled at his statement.

34 knew that her neighbor was about to fish her physical form out of the water, but if Death had no use for names, she had no use for the activity off shore. Instead, she looked to the sky, and asked, “What are those bright white lights?”

Death followed her skyward gaze. “Those?” he responded in a dry tone. “They’re souls about to be born.”

She accepted his answer. After a moment, she said. “I was a light once.” It wasn’t a question.

Death confirmed it with a nod.

“What about you?” she asked. “Were you ever one of those lights, Death?”

He was taken aback, but he didn’t bother to answer. Instead he redirected her attention to the water. “Looks like he has found you, 34.”

34 pulled her feet from the sand and stood up, standing almost shoulder to shoulder with Death as they both watched the scene unfold.

The fisherman’s apparently silent agitation irked her. “This would be so much more satisfying if I could at least hear him scream.” She paused. “He is screaming, right?”

Death smirked. “Oh. He’s definitely screaming.” He watched for a few seconds longer. “If it’s worth anything,” he told her, “it’s a high-pitched shrieking sort of scream.”

The lady now known as 34 cracked a smile. “Yeah,” she said. “It is.”

They turned around.

About the author, Selena Taylor

Selena TaylorSelena Taylor is a wife, a mother, and a woman who strives to tell the many stories that occupy her mind. She is active in the Rhett & Link fandomand appreciates dark humor.  She and her family live in Illinois, where she takes every opportunity to lose herself under the stars and let her imagination run wild. For more from Selena, check her out on Tumblr or follow her on Twitter.