Five Steps Back To You

Breakups suck. They can take a lot out of a person. Another thing that sucks is the fact that we don’t allow ourselves the time to deal with them properly. Society today teaches us that when we go through pain we should put on a brave face and stuff those feelings into the very back of our minds. I’m an emotional person so that is difficult for me as it is, but I have followed suit over and over again. Granted, I was still showing emotion but I was holding back which caused me to have true breakdowns in private.

This time, though? No. To be fair, I am kind of numb to pain from this particular individual because he has let me down more times than I care to mention. Being that he’s someone I’ve held so dear for so long, I wanted to give him one last shot. Long story short, that blew up in my face.

Now, I could talk about everything that happened and what not, but we all know that that is an exercise in futility and it truly is no longer my problem. My only problem — or rather, concern — is dealing with my emotions towards the situation.

It’s okay to cry, as long as you know what it is that you’re crying about. I know that seems obvious, but on more than one occasion I’ve had to sit back and think to myself, “what is this really about? What are these tears really going towards?” You need to create a bit of an emotional map and outlet to navigate a breakup with a sense of control.

So, if anyone else is going through something similar, I urge you to complete the steps that I’m going to list below:

1. Make a list of things you love about yourself. We’re too hard on ourselves too often and rarely ever take a moment to appreciate how amazing we are. Do you like yourself? Do you even really know yourself? If the answer to those questions is “no” or “idk” then take some time to get in touch with YOU. If you don’t fuck with yourself heavy then once the right person comes along they may not be able to either.

2. Evaluate what this person really brought to your life. Obviously answers will vary here. In my case, it was a bunch of broken promises, instability & bullshit. When I reflect on it, I was the one really holding everything together only to end up being betrayed in the end anyway. I was beyond supportive in more ways than one. That support and love was met with lies and a giant lack of effort. Those are two things that I can do without and am happy to now be completely free of. The point here is even though you may be hurting, most of the time you’re better off. I was used & embarrassed at the end of the day. I couldn’t believe this person that had been in my life for so long could hurt me this way, but they did, and I have to remind myself that wasn’t my fault. That brings me to the next step. Which is…

3. Remind yourself that it isn’t your fault. This one is for the people that really didn’t have any REAL fault when it comes to the breakup. Sometimes people just don’t agree or work together, and that’s not necessarily anyone’s fault. Sometimes, one person is just a shitty individual and has a lot of issues that need to be addressed and instead of doing that they do things that hurt you. Please remember, that is NOT your fault. Humans are flawed. However, some people work on those flaws while others let them ruin a lot of the good things that they have in their lives. If you know that you did everything you possibly could to make things work then please, PLEASE find peace in that. If you know you poured your heart and soul into the relationship and they still couldn’t appreciate you, then find peace in that. Some people just don’t fit and it could be for any amount of reasons. Don’t beat yourself up over something that is two sided.

4. Be an emotional wreck if you need to be, but not forever. Seriously, stop feeding into the belief that you need to be “heartless” and show no sign of humanity when you’re hurt. BE HURT! Be raw and real. But be rational and fair to yourself as well. This rounds out what I mentioned before. When I didn’t make the dance team my eighth grade year, I was down about it for about two weeks. It was all I wanted so I cried a few times. One day, my mom came to me and said that it was okay if I cried about it, but that I needed to give myself a time limit on how long I could cry about it. After that, I needed to move past it and either forget about it or work harder for the next year. So, I gave myself another day, and then got to work making sure I’d be prepared for tryouts the following year. I was and I made it. With breakups, I now employ the same philosophy. I give myself a specific amount of time to be sad about it. After that, I move on. Replaying events in my head is torturous and we do that to ourselves so often. It is unfair. So give yourself some time to get over it. After that, never shed a tear about it again. Being able to show emotion is important, so throw the biggest tantrum you feel you need to in order to get that hurt out of your system, but don’t get so caught up in being sad that it becomes the only thing you know how to be. You will fall in love again whether that be with a person or just life. Lastly…

5. Distract yourself — preferably in a way the betters you in the end. Is there an old hobby that you loved but stopped doing for whatever reason? There is? Great, pick it back up. Do you like to read? Awesome. Commit to getting through at least one book every week. Does volunteering fill your heart with joy? AMAZING. Call your local shelter or any volunteer organization you know of. You HAVE to get busy living. It’s so easy to stay in bed with your curtains drawn for weeks on end, but easy ain’t always good. Excusing yourself from life for a long period of time is not going to help you. “When the going gets tough, the tough get going.” Be tough. Remind yourself of who you are and that life existed before that person and will exist after them.

I’ve been the person that beats herself up over a relationship not working out. I’ve made myself physically sick from not eating and just checking out of life as if that was going to heal me. This time, I plan to actually heal myself. You should too. You deserve happiness and love will come. When it does, it will be the RIGHT love. Of course everything isn’t black and white and these tips may not apply for everyone, but I happen to think it’s a petty good general guideline. I hope all those broken hearts get healed soon. ❤️

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The Tales of Briggs & Bales: Zaida — Part I

Chapter 1.

I hated Friday mornings at the bank. More specifically, I hated Friday mornings at my bank. The Bank of Briggs & Bales was the largest financial institution in Briggs & Bales City. That really isn’t saying much given the size of our city. It was incorporated by the families of — you guessed it — Elijah Briggs and Tom Bales. They founded our homely little town 168 years ago with only a stick to draw dirt borders and a couple of dreams. There was a bit of gold involved too. The bank was put right in the center of the city making it easily accessible to anyone with a car, a bus pass, a bike or just two legs. It’s so prominent that the shopping center was built around it which allowed people to buy groceries, clothes, get a hair cut and withdraw money without ever having to leave their original parking spots. Naturally, this resulted in it being particularly busy on most days, but nothing was quite like Friday because that was paycheck day. This particular day was no different so I was no less annoyed. The line took up the entirety of the lobby area. With the building being as grand as it was, that meant there were at least 80 people in there waiting to be called. I looked around instantly regretting rolling out of bed to go there without a care in the world. I had on sweat pants, and not the cute fitted kind. They were baggy even though I had rolled them a good three times. I had on my Briggs Varsity Football t-shirt which had long been faded from the dryer. My ex boyfriends last name was printed across the back in iron-on letters. It was a shirt that I told myself I would burn years ago but I had never gotten around to it. My curls were turning into dreads on the top of my head due to not having touched them for a week and I was out of contacts so I was sporting my very large, very round frames. Before you think they were trendy — they weren’t. Lastly, my boots had salt stains all over them from the half an inch of snow we got and my North Face was a bright red making me impossible to ignore.

People watching at the bank was a favorite activity of mine. It brought back memories of when I would go to the bank with my parents when I was little. We would play games like how many people are in green shirts and how many kids are picking their noses. That day, I decided to play count how many people I saw in black. First I spotted Mrs. Johnson who smiled at me from across the room. She was that church lady, you know the one. She was like everyone’s grandma. She was in all black which led me to believe she had just returned from a funeral. Next I saw my cousin Ivy. Normally, I’d go and say hi but it was an unspoken rule that you didn’t get out of line on Fridays at the bank. The eye contact and nod she gave back let me know that she was familiar with that rule. As I continued to look around, I noticed two men dressed in all black. and made sure to count them. They weren’t in line and were having a hushed conversation in the corner near some of the plants. My gaze lingered on them a bit until I saw one of them look up and across the room at two more men. They were dressed the same, only they had masks on their faces. Confused, I stopped counting and hurried to look away. At this point, a small panic began to set in. I looked at the other two corners of the bank which were behind and to the side of the tellers’ counters. Sure enough, there were men there as well. They too were dressed in all black and with masks on their faces. The panic that had only begun to set in a few moments beforehand had now made a nice home right in my gut. I needed to get out of there, but I felt bad not warning everyone else. I knew that the odds of someone actually getting hurt were slim to none. Honestly, when was the last time you saw someone get injured in a bank robbery either in a movie or in real life? I said a quick prayer and turned to make my way out of the building making a silent promise to myself to call the police as soon as I got out of the doors. I made my way out of the crowd of people masquerading as a uniform line and that’s when it happened.

POP!

A gun shot. I dropped to the floor and swung my head around frantically checking to see if it had hit anyone. I didn’t see anyone bleeding, limping or lying the ground so I figured it was fired into the air. The hysteria was instantaneous. After the gun shot, there was a lot of yelling and a lot of movement. Being that I was in front of everyone else since I was trying to leave before any of this popped off, I was the first to meet the guarded doors and the feet of everyone trying to get out.

Everyone was climbing over me making it difficult to breathe. The screaming coming from all around was starting to make me dizzy. I wasn’t good in situations like this and a full scale anxiety attack was headed my way. Reaching up, I grabbed hold of something metal to pull myself off of the ground. I felt it being jerked away from me and looked up just in time to see the barrel of a gun and the scowl on the face of the robber that was holding it. He did a double take and his scowl quickly went to a look of shock. “That was weird,” I thought to myself. Shaking it off, I stayed low and weaved my way out of the crowd and back towards the room. He turned his attention back to everyone else and began to order people away from the doors.

I heard the masked men make attempts to calm and control the crowd. The people that were gathered at each exit were being ushered towards the center of the room and forced to sit down. I crawled towards the teller stations and curled up. Placing my head between my legs, I made sure to keep my breathing under control so that I didn’t pass out. “You’re going to be fine Zaida,” I told myself. I looked around to see where Ivy and Mrs. Johnson were. Thankfully, they were seated next to one another at the other end of the tellers stations. They were holding hands and had their heads bowed in prayer. Seeing this gave me a sense of calm and having them both in my sight made me a little less uneasy. As I reached for my phone to quickly call and text my parents one of the masked men stood on the table in the center of the room and started speaking to us with a bullhorn.

“Attention fine citizens of Briggs & Bales City,” he started. Too scared to look up at him, I jammed my phone back into my pocket and stared at my feet as he continued to speak. “Now, we really hate that we have to interrupt this fine Friday morning with such unpleasantness, and we’d like to get out of y’alls hair just as soon as possible. But that means we need a bit of cooperation.”

A woman near the table he was standing on began to scream bloody murder which prompted nothing more than a loud sigh and an eye-roll.

“Ma’am, that is the exact opposite of cooperation.” Bullhorn snapped his fingers towards one of the other masked men and said a quick demand in what sounded like latin. The man proceeded to walk over, snatch the screaming lady’s head back and place duct tape on her mouth. The fear in her eyes reflected that of mine. With tears streaming down her face, the woman continued scream. Her muffled shrieks were now the only sound in the room unless you counted the loud silence of trepidation.

“Now, does anyone else feel the need to holler? If so, we’ve got some duct tape with your name written all over it,” announced Bullhorn. He took a moment to survey the room. Silence. “No? Okay, then. Moving forward.” His country drawl almost made his threat seem sweet.

I mustered up a bit of courage to look up and that is when I noticed that everything else in the room was still moving. Only we were stagnant. The rest of the masked men had continued securing the doors and placed small pods in front of them. They beeped every 30 seconds or so and were emitting a red light that went from the top of the door way to the bottom. I knew that they weren’t bombs because that would have been counterproductive, but they were still unsettling.

“We’re ready sir,” said one of the masked men.

“Alrighty then,” said Bullhorn. He muttered something else in latin and his men began to move. Turning back towards us, he started to speak again. “Let’s get started, shall we? I’ll talk you all through this so that you don’t need to be frightened. As you’ll see, my men are headed to the tellers stations. There they will politely collect the requested funds. I don’t mind if you all want to pull out your phones and text anyone. Just a fair warning though, you’d be better off playing a quick game of Bejeweled. Nothing you try to do while still inside of this building will get through. If you’ll take a look at the doors you’ll notice the devices we have placed and those pretty red lights coming out of ’em. That lets us know that all signals are being blocked — both incoming and outgoing. As a bonus, it reinforces the glass. Technology, right? Ain’t it a wonder? The reinforcement means that if anyone tries to break down or through the doors that they won’t be able to penetrate the building. We don’t have to worry about that, though since we’ve perfected our craft and will be out of here within the next 180 seconds. It pays to work at your craft people, always remember that.”

This guy should have been an entertainer.

Everyone continued to watch in horror as Bullhorn finished his informative speech. His nonchalance towards the subject of crime — one that he himself was committing at that — was not something that us B2 City folks were used to. Sure, there were occasional crimes in the news, but nothing big. I looked around to see what the rest of the men were doing. Some of them had already emerged from the tellers stations with brief cases and were standing near the exit. I counted a total of 10 including Bullhorn when this all started. He was on the table and five men were near the back exit nearest to me. I watched as they stood at attention. One of them looked down to adjust his weapon and when he went to look back up, his eyes locked with mine. At first it seemed that he meant for his stare to be intimidating, but then he looked at me the same way the scowling one did after a moment — shock tinged with fear. Hurriedly he turned away and I saw him whisper to the rest of the men that were standing with him. By this time, another had emerged from the tellers stations. I averted my eyes, but saw them all look at me in unison in my peripheral. They seemed to be studying me which clearly wasn’t any good. Uneasy, I shifted under their gazes and looked back down at the floor. I peered down the length of the tellers stations line. Mrs. Johnson and Ivy were still praying so I took a cue from them and silently prayed for the situation to please be over soon.

I kept praying until I heard someone clear their throat. Right next to the table that Bullhorn was standing on, a man had stood up. He looked to in his mid 40s. He had a beer belly, a receding hairline and a red face full of what I was sure was instant regret. He didn’t look too brave either, so I felt both terror and embarrassment for him.

“My name is Officer Garrett of the Briggs & Bales City Police Department,” he said pulling a badge out of his jacket pocket and holding it up. He made a semi circle to make sure everyone in the room got a good look. “I am ordering you to drop your weapons, drop to the ground and place your hands behind your heads.”

I watched in awe. Clearly this man was crazy. There was only one of him 10 of them. I looked back and forth between Bullhorn, the rest of the masked men and Officer Garrett.

Bullhorn held the device to his mouth and let out a low chuckle. “Officer Garrett, please take your seat. We’ll be out of your way in just a –”

Sirens. First the sound was faint. I could tell that everyone in the room was having the same thought. We weren’t sure if what we thought we were hearing was the real thing. It was almost as if we hoped we were hearing them. Then they started to get louder. Getting louder meant that they were getting closer. Bullhorn looked at Officer Garrett.

“You see,” the officer started, “I alerted my team a little bit before you put those uh, contraptions on the doors. Now, it would be in your best interest to come on down from there, round up your men and drop your weapons. I will not be asking again, ya hear?”

Murmurs came from the group of people gathered in the middle of the room. Murmurs turned into shouting. As the sirens got closer and louder, so did the shouting.

POP!

Another gun shot sounded. This time, it hit the chandelier right above where I was sitting. Fearing shards of glass would fall in my hair and eventually slice open my hand when I went to tame it, I took off my jacket and placed it over my head. When I looked up, Bullhorn was staring at me. His eyes were wide. I stared back and swallowed hard. I looked around to find that the remainder of the masked men had returned from behind the tellers stations and standing with the others. They were drilling holes into me as well.

SKRRRRRR!

The sounds of the police cars skidding into the bank’s parking lot broke their gazes. Hopping down from the table, Bullhorn bounded over to the door and began to shout out orders. Officer Garrett took a step towards them and Bullhorn held up his gun in defense. The getaway car had arrived by then and was at the backdoor. Masked men were filing in one by one. Suddenly, I felt a large piece of the chandelier fall onto my head. I looked up in time to see it dangling by a thin string of crystals. Frozen like a deer in headlights, I watched as the string snapped. Everything after that seemed to happen in slow motion. Shards began to fall all around me, the chandelier inched closer and closer to the top of my head and I prepared to let out a ear shattering scream.

Before it could rip through my body, I felt an arm wrap around me from behind and snatch me out of the way. I was in the arms of one of the masked men. He had thrown me over his shoulder and was making a mad dash back towards the back door. The police could see that the robbers were making their way out, so they were outside of the front doors preparing to rush in. Officer Garrett was scrambling to find a way to disable the devices and move them out of the way. By this time, I had found my voice. I screamed at the top of my lungs for my captor to put me down. I was grateful that he had saved me, but it was his fault that I was in this situation in the first place. Plus those looks that they had all been giving me were making my stomach turn. I scratched and kicked and punched. He handed me to two more men who duct taped my hands and feet.

“Get her mouth too,” exclaimed one of them.

“Are you stupid? We already almost killed her. If we bring her to him bound and gagged that’ll be the end of us.”

“We shouldn’t even be touching her. Didn’t you see the fear in our eyes when we realized who she was?”

“Bring me to who!?” I shouted in protest. “Please, put me down. I promise I’m not who you think I am. I hold no value for anyone. My family isn’t rich and I’m in a ton of debt myself.”

“Oh God. Please duct tape her. PLEASE!” I snapped my head to memorize that one’s eyes and mouth so that I could snap his neck later.

“Let me go!” I screamed one more time.

“Are you sure that’s even her? It doesn’t look like her.” I’d be sure to thank the skeptical one before I murdered his friends for this.

“ZAIDA!” I heard my cousin scream from across the room. I looked over to where she was standing. Mrs. Johnson was standing behind her every bit the image of a worried grandparent.

“See, it is her,” said Bullhorn.

Dammit Ivy. By this time the two men that were holding me, The Skeptic and Bullhorn were the only ones left in the building. I turned back to Ivy with panic in my eyes.

“HELP ME!” I screamed. Then everything went black.

Chapter 2.

When I woke up, I was confused. I didn’t know where I was at, and I had no recollection of traveling there. My eyes were only slightly open but I could tell that the room I was in wasn’t mine. I shut my eyes again as worrying about it was only producing a headache. All I knew was that I was relaxed and exhausted. Those were the only things that mattered in that moment. Drifting back to sleep, I did my usual routine of feeling around for my phone. The more I felt around, the more aware I became of how different this bed was from mine and the fact that my phone was nowhere near me. Suddenly I shot up. Memories of that morning’s events came flooding back and hitting me like a brick. I began to hyperventilate and cry. It was now many hours later as the sun had already set. The fabric that had been placed over my head was gone and so was the duct tape. But I was in a bed. At this realization I quickly looked down at myself checking to make sure I hadn’t been taken advantage of.

“Phew,” I sighed. “Still fully clothed.” I nodded looking down at myself. “Good.” I wiped my face with the end of one of the pillow cases and started to devise a plan. In the back of my mind, I knew I should have been more scared than I was. But, I kept remembering the look in Bullhorn’s eyes when he saw me as well as the fear in their voices when he ordered them to take me. It seemed to be pretty much agreed upon that I was not to be harmed. At that time, I was sure they had the wrong person. Then Ivy called my name which apparently confirmed that I was indeed the right person. I was valuable to someone, but I didn’t plan on sticking around to find out who or why for that matter.

The room that I was in was something straight out of ELLE Decor. The bed was easily a California King if not something larger and custom made. I bounced a bit. Yup, it was definitely memory foam. It was the expensive kind, though — nothing like the one I got at BB Mattress Depot that was too soft and suffocated me when I slept the wrong way. I couldn’t tell what brand the sheets or duvet were but sitting on them gave me the feeling that I was draining my bank account. Taking a second to really look around, the first thing I noticed were the floor to ceiling windows that took up an entire wall. The bed was facing the windows so I could tell I was in a penthouse due to the large lack of greenery and the abundance of skyline I saw. Sliding off of the bed I tiptoed over to the window to get a better look. There was another apartment building directly across from the one I was in. It was dark outside, but it must not have been that late because almost all of the lights in the other apartments were on. If I could get something written on the window then maybe someone would see it.

I looked around the room for anything that could be used. Rummaging through the dresser drawers proved to be fruitless and there was nothing under the bed.  I walked over to the bathroom and switched on the light. The medicine cabinet and vanity were both empty. No shampoo, no conditioner, nothing. It was as if the room was there for show. I felt myself getting overwhelmed again and ready to panic so I sat down on the edge of the tub. I knew that I wasn’t to be harmed some hours back, but that could have changed since then. I quickly reminded myself that either way I needed to remain calm and keep a clear head if I had any hope to get out of there. I walked back into the bedroom towards the window. Next to the window there was a small sitting area consisting of a leather chair and a table with a lamp on top of it. I noticed a small drawer under the table that I completely overlooked during my first sweep of the room. I tried to open it but it wouldn’t budge. I gave it a little wiggle. Still nothing. Finally, I snatched at it and it flew open making a loud noise. I paused and backed away looking towards the door. It sounded like foot steps were coming near so I hopped back onto to the bed and laid back down. After a few minutes, no one had opened the door. I took this as a sign that no one would be coming in if they hadn’t already entere.d

I walked back over to the drawer and took a peek inside. With relief and a bit of a smile, I pulled out a sharpie and a large, unopened pack of jumbo post it notes.

“Good job, Zaida,” I said to myself. Pulling the sticky notes out, I arranged them to spell out H E L P on the floor of the room. I made sure to make the letters E, L and P backwards so that they would appear correctly to the person that saw the message. I took the Sharpie and drew a thick black line through the center of each one to spell out H E L P again as a reinforcement. That way anyone looking would see it formed by the sticky notes and written on them too. Then I went to work arranging them on the window. I used the leather chair to give me height. Once I was finished, I turned on the light to illuminate them. It was a good plan. I waited near the window to see if someone would notice. About half an hour had went by until I saw something moving in my peripheral. I turned towards the window to see a girl waving at me. Hopping up I waved back and her and mouthed “HELP” repeatedly. The girl showed me her phone and pointed at the building to let me know she was calling the front desk. I put up the praying hands to thank her.

A minute or so later, the door to the bedroom flew open. I whipped my head around to see a tall, muscular man walk in the room. He smiled as he looked at me. “It’s Zaida, right?” It wasn’t a smirk or anything, and it didn’t even seem sinister. But I couldn’t let him take me. I looked back towards the window to see that the girl was no longer standing there.

“Yeah, we really wish you wouldn’t have done that,” he said. “If the police come here it’s going to be a big mess.”

He began to move towards where I was standing. His movements were slow and nonthreatening, but I didn’t care. The girl saw me, so by now she had alerted the front desk, the police or both. I just needed to stay away from him and the other men long enough for someone to come up there and rescue me. As he got within five feet of me, I jumped and rolled over the bed.

“Hey!” he shouted. I made it to the bathroom door and ran in. I turned around to shut it but he was right on my heels and was pushing it open as I was trying to close it. Next thing I knew, there was another man and he was reaching into the bathroom for me as the other held the door open. He grabbed me by my wrists and slammed me down onto the bed.

“Would you stop it!?” He yelled shaking me. “No one is trying to hurt you!” I bit his hands and kicked him which made him let go of me long enough for me to run to the bedroom door. I made it down the length of the hallway with both of them chasing after me. I rounded the corner and ended up in the kitchen where I grabbed a knife from the counter. They caught up and I held it up at them. Both of them put their hands in the air when they finally saw me. I didn’t say a word, but I backed out of the kitchen towards the room around the corner. I continued walking backwards until I felt sure they were no longer following me. I kept my back turned, but took a moment to look around. I realized I was in the foyer and the door was just a few yards away from me. That’s when I heard his voice.

“Sir, everything is fine. You can come up here and take a look if you’d like. The person the young woman saw in the window is just Mr. Kasey’s daughter. She may have appeared to be in her 20s, but she’s really more like 16. She’s on punishment and was just trying to cause a scene.”

It was Bullhorn. I heard his steps getting closer and his voice, but there was nowhere for me to hide and I knew that he was coming from a hallway that was closer to the door than I was. Deciding it was now or never, I sprung out in front of him with the knife and held it up to his throat. Eyes fixated on mine. He let the person on the other end know that he had to go, hung up and then lowered his phone.

“I’ve gotta say Ms. Williams, you sure have caused us a lot of trouble today.” He shook his head and let out a low whistle. “The boss always said you were tough, though. Smart too. Clearly those weren’t exaggerations.” He stopped talking and just stared at me. I wasn’t sure if he was waiting for me to talk, but at that moment the two men that tried to take me from the room earlier came walking in. I turned around to look at them. Their hands were still up.

“Oh, Ms. Williams!”Bullhorn dug around in his pocket and pulled out my phone. “Here’s your phone back. You had a lot of texts and phone calls from family, but we assured them that you were safe.” He extended the phone out to me. I looked from his hand, to his face and back to his hand again. I snatched my phone and put it in the pocket of my sweats.

“You’re free to go,” he said.

“Just like that?” For the second time that day I rediscovered my voice.

He nodded. “Just like that.”

I shook my head in disbelief and opened my mouth to speak.

“Are you kidding me?” One of the men standing behind me whisper-shouted. This girl has been on the boss’s no harm list since we started this operation. She happens to be in the bank that we rob today. Not only do we almost harm her, we almost kill her, we kidnap her, and then the boss doesn’t even want to see her? Also, we’re going to let her go in the hopes that she won’t reveal anything to anyone? She’s seen our faces.”

His confusion mirrored mine. I had all the same questions. His voice sounded familiar too. A second later I realized that he was The Skeptic.

“Yeah with all that wailing she was doing I feel that we should get to see this little reunion as pay off.” And that was the one that wanted me to be quiet.

I spun around. “Your mouth could actually use a little duct tape right about now. I was wailing because I was being kidnapped for whatever fucking reason, or did you conveniently forget that part?” He scowled at me. “Maybe we should put something over your face too. Not to knock you out, but just to cover it.”

Bullhorn snorted so I turned to look at him. “What was that anyway?! Chloroform!?”

“Chloroform doesn’t knock you out for long,” he replied. “Besides, too much of it can kill you. We don’t like to mess around with that stuff.”

“Oh, no of course not. Just other drugs to kidnap innocent bystanders, right?” They all stood there silently, watching me. I walked towards the counter to set down the knife. The Skeptic and Scowlface backed up a bit. Walking back towards Bullhorn I whipped out my phone to check my texts. I saw that I had 30 missed calls from Ivy, but that they had conveniently calmed her and the rest of my family down. I quickly skimmed my texts. Apparently I was just trying to collect my thoughts and wanted to be alone since I was so shaken up. I promised to call them by 10 that night because I wasn’t going to stay home alone. The kidnappers only took me to make sure I wasn’t hurt because if they got caught that would be another lawsuit. Reading this trash made me furious because 1. it was trash 2. my family believed it. What if I had really been hurt?

Placing my phone back into my pocket, I realized I didn’t have my North Face. “Where’s my jacket?”

“Oh, the boss took that to be thoroughly checked for glass and washed. It should be dry by now,” answered Bullhorn. “He will be having it mailed to your home.”

I pursed my lips and nodded. Completely confused, I walked towards the door and turned the handle. Whoever this person was they must have trusted me immensely. I was still going to tell the police everything I knew. He had to know that. I sat there for a moment deciding whether or not to open it until I couldn’t take it any more.

Spinning around, I sucked my teeth. “So, I think I should go ahead and meet this boss of yours now. Take me to him. Please. He knows my name, he doesn’t want me to be harmed and he has my home address. I need to meet him.”

At that, Bullhorn smiled. “He’ll be very pleased to see you. It’s been years.” Without another word, he did an about-face walked towards the way he had come from with myself, Scowlface and The Skeptic all following.

Chapter 3.

The penthouse was huge. When I escaped the room, I passed about two other rooms. The foyer area opened up to other rooms that we didn’t explore, but with following Bullhorn I was able to see more of the place. The entryway that he came out of was really just a small hallway that led to stairs. We walked up them to the other part of the house. Bullhorn, Scowlface and The Skeptic were all silent as we took our 90 second journey through the house. I walked between the three of them which made me regret leaving the knife in the kitchen. At the top of the stairs, there there was another kitchen and a very large living area with a double sided fire place. Everything in this area was white. The floor was marble as were the countertops. The furniture, the walls, everything. It was so clean, and so calm. It was also incredibly familiar. It was like seeing a place that I had been to before only on a much larger scale. I took a moment to take in the smell of pine needles and jasmine flowers which was also all too familiar. I was struggling to put my finger on it when we rounded the corner that the double sided fireplace sat on.

That’s when I saw him.

He was sitting there every bit as handsome as he was the last time I saw him which was years ago. Dressed in navy blue slacks and a white button up that was unbuttoned at the top, he had a headset in his ear and was on the phone. I wasn’t sure if he had heard us come in or not. The conversation looked intense. His face was one of focus. It was an expression that I had seen many times and was one of my favorites of his. It reminded me of how smart he was and when he clenched his jaw, his dimples made a special appearance. That look made me come undone countless times before, and I could feel it doing it to me right then.

“Snap out of it!” I thought to myself. I watched him lean forward a bit more. He ran his fingers through the dark blonde curls on the top of his head and sighed. He had grown a bit of a beard since I saw him last. It looked nice on him. I saw the fire in his hazel eyes intensifying. That’s when he spoke.

“I understand your concerns Mr. Williams, Sir. I can assure you that she’s fine. I was just as upset to hear about it, and I will be speaking to my family about increasing the bank’s security as soon as possible.”

My eyes widened. Was he on the phone with my dad?!

“Yes, I know what she means to you and Mrs. Williams. I hope she is doing fine by the way.” He paused. “That’s great to hear sir.” Another pause. “Yes, sir. I will have her call you as soon as I speak to her and good evening to you as well.” He hung up the phone.

Bullhorn was the first to speak. “Hey boss,” he started. A lifted finger was the reply as to signal that he needed minute. “Just a sec, Kasey. I have to make sure everything is in order with these numbers and that there is a car to bring Zaida home when she wakes up.”

“Ms. Williams is already awake, Boss.” Bullhorn shifted a bit and looked over at Scowlface and The Skeptic. They all looked nervous, but also excited. I felt like I was going to vomit any second. I held my stomach.

“Oh, great! How is –” he looked up and locked eyes with me. “–she.”

He — Alexander — looked as if he had just seen a ghost. I could tell he wanted to say something, but wasn’t sure what. Meanwhile, I was kicking myself in my mind. I thought I had regretted my outfit choice earlier that day, ha.

All I could do was stare back. I had lost my voice so many times that day that I was starting to find comfort in it. Breathing and just being as the world around me got scary and ceased to make any type of sense was my new thing.

The silence was becoming unbearable and as much as I wanted to run away and hide, I needed to say something, anything. I opened my mouth, but he beat me to it.

He stood up, shakily, and placed his hands in his pocket. Letting out a low whistle he shook his head and laughed nervously.

“What’s up with that shirt, Zai? I thought you were gonna burn it.”

I had been glaring at him up until then. That laugh. It disarmed me.

“It still looks perfect on you, though. I always liked seeing you wear my numbers and my last name. I seem to remember trying to give it to you officially.”

I smiled back at him, full teeth. He took a step back and lowered his head. When it came back up he was smiling. That had always been his favorite thing about me. My smile ‘could lead 100 ships to shore in the darkest night’ he would say. I needed to make sure he was disarmed too before I replied.

“I still plan to burn it. But now I have a question for you, Alex.”

He cocked an eyebrow. “Shoot.”

“What the hell type of crazy person kidnaps their high school girlfriend while simultaneously robbing their own family’s bank?!”

 

To be continued… 🙂 Hope you all like it!

 

Creatively Bankrupt

I used to be struck with sudden inspiration all the time. I could hear a song, read a quote, smell something, see something, etc. Off of one of those things, I’d already have a chapter written out in my head. I find it so strange that now that I really want to write and post short stories for others consumption, I’m creatively bankrupt. It’s frustrating too, and I’m not sure I can even call it writers block since I haven’t really begun to write. Lol.

Oh, well that actually isn’t completely true. I’ve played around with a few characters and a few story lines. Thus far though, I haven’t gotten more than one or two paragraphs into anything. I’m not sure how to feel because this is all really new to me (writing for others to read outside of a classroom) so of course I thought I’d ask everyone that reads this and happens to write themselves how they do it. I know that everyone lacks inspiration at times but my well is DRY and its becoming alarming. Haha, no not really. It’s annoying, though.

I think that in the week I’m going to take a new approach to it. When I was younger, I would come up with my characters first. Their names, physical appearances and backstories would always be incredibly detailed. Then I would move onto how they were connected. Next would be their homes. Then and only then could a story start for me. I’m not sure why I’ve shied away from that particular method. In my mind, I believe it seems like it isn’t the way to go because I was so young so I’ve equated it with juvenile writing. Why my thoughts are like that I have no idea because it doesn’t make sense. What works, well…works. That was working for me then so I don’t see why it wouldn’t work for me now. Also, I did start writing on actual notebook paper yesterday and got pretty far. That was an interesting find because for so long I have been exclusively drafting on computers only. I couldn’t tell you the last time I drafted anything on paper after the age of like 10 even for school. When I was writing on the paper, it seemed like the ideas were just flowing from my mind. They made a full circuit through my body, sat in my heart for a bit and then shot through my right hand, through the pen onto the paper. I haven’t felt that in so long, so it was like home. Sadly, I got interrupted (I was at work) so I stopped. I haven’t looked at my notebook since (this was yesterday), but hopefully when I do I will be able to pick right back up where I left off.

I also think that I’m going to try to write in some different environments and times throughout the day to see how that effects me. I know that I am in my zone when I’m in a quiet place, with something to drink like tea or a frappe and the sun beaming through the window that I’m writing next to. Unfortunately in Wisconsin that can only really happen for three months out of the year. So, while I’m still here, I’m going to have to figure out what my other happy places are.

What do you guys do to help you with inspiration? Please leave me a suggestion below. I can’t wait to get some stories up for you all. Also, what do you think would be better? One full short story at a time, chapters, etc? Let me know!

Good vibes to you all,

Jas

The Gems of Jas

I am not sure how many of you read any of my old posts or really keep up with me at all for that matter, but if you do you’ll notice that I deleted everything. I’ve always loved to write. Recently due to a lot of self reflection, I have come to realize that I feel the most free when I’m writing. When I feel free I am able to be a better me. I’m able to be the best me actually. Freedom for me is love. With that being said, writing is and always has been my one, TRUE calling. I want to be a writer and share all of these different parts of myself with the world through my writing. This is why I deleted my old posts. They didn’t feel free at all. They didn’t feel like me. Thinking about them even now has me tensing up because they were just so…off. The issue was that I was trying to write for others instead of for myself. That ultimately led to me creating blog posts that were incredibly generic. When I read them they just seem to try too hard. They weren’t representative of me at all. I don’t want to get too much into why that is or why I felt that I had to do that. That’s a story for another time. But I do want to declare that from this day forward I do consider myself to be a REAL writer. I will write with love and authenticity. I will write with care for the art and the heart of it all. I will write for me, and in turn I hope you all are able to get a few gems from it. After all, this is the Gems of Jas.

Thank you. Always.

Jas L. H.

To My Unnamed Angel

My heart aches for my little girl and what could have been or what could still be.

My heart aches for that perfect, round face. Those large, round eyes and that perfect little swoop that rises from that mess of hair on her head.

You see, my little girl is perfect. I know all mothers say that, but I think my case is a little different because I’m not a mother. But my little girl, though. My little girl is perfect. My little baby is perfect. Maybe she’s only so perfect because she only came to me in a dream. I only know her from my dream. My very, very VIVID dreams of my baby, my labor & pregnancy.

My pregnancy. Oh, how I long for my pregnancy. The dreams don’t make it any better. They’re so real. I don’t feel any of the pain of labor in them, but all of the emotion that comes with that first look at what you made. What you did. Your baby. My little girl. My baby.

Did I mention she’s beautiful? So alert. So smart. I can tell from her eyes. As I stared at her sitting up in her crib staring back at me, I noticed every detail all the way down to the little white nightgown she was wearing. My little girl was perfect. Is perfect? Will be perfect? Hopefully I get to even have MY little girl. You see, I love her so much already that it hurts. The dreams are bliss while they’re going on, but when I wake up I’m left with all the love and all of the empty because I’m not holding my little girl. My little girl. My little baby. My perfect baby. I hope that she is meant to represent what’s to come and not what has come to pass. Because oh how my heart ACHES for my little girl. I miss her when I don’t think I ever even knew her. I miss her face, how her weight feels in my arms, her cuddles, her smell, her smile and her laugh. I hate that I’m not with my little girl. I miss my little girl. I want my little girl. I want to be the mommy that I am in my dreams because I get to be her mommy. That’s why I can’t bare the thought of her being a relic of a past that never got to exist. I instead keep hope that she is a representation of the future. My beautiful baby, my perfect little girl. She deserves to live. She deserves to breathe & know my love because I promise it’s as deep as any ocean, as vast as any universe and as real as anything you can touch, taste, see, hear or smell. My little girl. She belongs to me. Then, now and always. My beautiful little girl.