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The Watchmen – Part V – A Horror Novella

Part I

Part II

Part III

Part IV

 

I stood in the frigid air for several moments, stretching my arms and legs. Dallas had gotten colder since I left. My hand found the door and I was able to walk into my home again. I’d barely been here a week and it was already feeling like a place I could relax in. I threw my clothes in the wash and then walked into the bathroom. Thankful for a tankless water heater, I turned the handle all the way to the hot side. I stepped into the steaming waterfall, sighing as the stinging waves washed over my skin. The gooseflesh on my arms and legs quickly subsided. My skin was an angry pink from the heat, but I paid it no mind. It was a good sting that warmed down to your bones. 

 

I wasn’t ready for what the day held. It was the first time in my life that I had to face something this real. A lot had happened this past week, way more than I ever wanted to deal with. Suddenly I was very envious of people that lived in blissful ignorance. Why was I chosen to be a part of all this? In ways I felt thankful, I at least am able to spare myself the horrific death I was shown, but in other ways it was a burden that no person should have to bear. 

 

I didn’t even believe in whatever all of this was. I was so sure of all the articles and scientific journals I poured over. In all the witty talks I listened to detailing evolution, it left me hanging with the burning question of why─ why in the hell is it possible for any of this to happen? Sure, we could chalk it up to some sort of freak phenomenon that I experienced by myself and question my mental state. Yet that leaves out the fact that Zedd saw it too. He believed it so much that he had ended his life over it. I looked over at the cool tile on the floor, the pattern somehow soothing against the morning light. We couldn’t have both fabricated the same, exact thing. 

 

If this were true, there had to be others.It’s a shame I couldn’t find them.

 

I finished hooking the last button on my slacks and stared at my reflection. I frowned at the obvious dark circles beneath my eyes. I looked like hell. I dabbed on some under-eye concealer and brushed a little blush across my cheeks to liven up my face. Not that I was really trying to gain anyone’s attention, I just wanted to appear functional. Not like some sleep-deprived lunatic. I hated being in this position, it was my worst nightmare─ just the thought of having to approach all these people with an air of confidence I’ve never possessed in my life. I often wondered what it would be like to be someone else, comfortable in their own skin. I sigh, frowning at my thin frame. I never seemed to grow into my body. I’d hoped as a teen that I would fill out a little more, but in the end I was stuck in this childish body. Barely any hips, and small, humble breasts. My face didn’t do me any favors, I had wide eyes but a narrow jawline. I was as baby-faced as they came. I got carded everywhere I went and they would eye my birthdate and then study my face dubiously. I suppose I would have learned to enjoy that, if I was going to live past another week.   

 

Just the thought of how I would be ending my own life was making my chest tight. Sure, I can fantasize about it, but the truth was I didn’t want it to hurt more than it had to. A gun sounded so harsh and so awful for anyone that found me. A knife sounded─ painful and what if I missed my heart? No sense in any of that. I had done several hours of research and decided that I was going to go with pure nitrogen. All I needed was an oxygen mask, some good, strong tape to seal it around my face and I would drift away into nothingness. Death in my sleep. That sounded much better. Way better than being tortured alive.

 

I hopped on the next train and sat quietly through the next few stops. It may have been cold, but the sky was bright and blue. Even through the tint of the train I could see just how blue it was. Blue like a dream. I blinked as the wetness gathered in my eyes, and then tilted my head to dab at them with my finger. I was going to have to be strong today, and even stronger later when I live streamed all of this. People needed to believe that I had my shit together. I couldn’t become overly emotional. This wasn’t a foreign concept to me, but it was especially important given the gravity of the situation. Time to put on my big-girl breeches. 

 

I crossed over to the building and gulped down as much air as I could, suddenly feeling very nauseous. By the time I was on the elevator, full-blown panic mode was edging its way closer to exploding from me. I bit down on my lip as the doors opened to at least a hundred people, if not more. I swam through them and made my way over to my desk, careful to not make eye contact. I needed to steady myself before the service. The email had mentioned that we were going to meet here first and then travel over to the service at ten. I imagine it was probably a way for people to remember him, but not have to attend the service. It was uncomfortably quiet as I logged in and checked my email. I frowned at the screen as an instant message popped up. It was from Devon.

 

Devon: Hey, can you please meet me in my office asap?

I hesitated, then responded: Sure, be there in just a minute. 

 

I quickly made my way over to his office, then stopped at the door. I knocked quietly and waited. 

“Yes, Jeff I’m sure. Look, we’ll talk about it later─ hold on a second. Come in” he called loudly. I waited half a beat and then opened the door. He muttered something else inaudibly and then hung up the phone. I promptly blushed, “I’m sorry, I didn’t mean to intrude” I offered quietly. “No, no” he said waving his hand, “please, have a seat.” I eased into the chair and smiled nervously, “you, uh, needed to talk with me?” He nodded, absently running his hand through his hair. His gaze was fixed on the shelf behind me. I glanced over and smiled at the picture. It was Devon and Zedd holding up an award. They both looked to be at least a decade younger. Devon hadn’t changed much, maybe his hair was a tad longer but he still had that youthful smile and sparkle in his eyes. But Zedd, though I recognized him, looked completely different. His beard was missing and his hair was nearly to his shoulders in the photo. He wore a black hoodie and there were several piercings on his face. He was thin before, but he was impossibly thin in this photo. Like, unhealthy thin.

 

“We hadn’t slept in three days,” Devon said quietly, “it was our first real competition and we were graduating during the recession. No one was hiring and we were fighting to find a place in the field.” I turned back to him and smiled. I remember my dad mentioning it happening a little over a decade ago. “Instead, my dad co-signed on a loan for me and Zedd and we opened our own company.” Devon stood and then walked over to the photo. He picked it up, rubbing across the frame absentmindedly. 

 

“The thing is, I know Zedd. He wouldn’t have done this unless he had a reason. A big reason.” He set the picture down and turned toward me. His face was calm, but I could see a strange fire building in them. “I hope you’ll forgive me, but I got curious the day before he called in and checked the cameras.” My mouth went dry. It would have shown me and Zedd talking and then leaving the building together. Devon was quiet for several moments. “I don’t think you did anything to him, Kate.” I relaxed a degree, but my shoulders were still tense. “But, I would like to know what the two of you talked about. You left in his car, so I assume you at least rode home with him.” I sat up and shifted my legs to cross in the other direction. I fidgeted with my fingers, unsure of what to do with them. 

 

His voice came out calm, soothing, “you don’t have to answer me if you don’t want to. I just can’t imagine what he could have been going through to make him do this and you were the last person he talked to. I’m asking as a friend, Kate. Not as a boss.” 

 

I look up at him and nod. I’m not sure what my plan is here, but I can’t just keep things from him. It was very apparent that Zedd meant a great deal to Devon. They graduated college at the same time, they started a company, they had to have gone through a tremendous amount of life together in that time.

 

I chose my words carefully, “We went out to eat that night and he seemed pretty upset,” I paused, searching for the right words, “he kept pointing out that our drawings were very similar even though I hadn’t seen his before later that day. When we had met earlier in the day, he wanted me to use my character as a main, which I said someone else should do it,” I add hastily, “but he said that it wouldn’t be an issue and that he had decided to keep me as a lead designer.” Devon smiled and nodded, “Zedd has a good eye for talent, he was right in deciding that.” I flush and look at the ground, “but─ I dunno, he just was fascinated by the fact that ours looked nearly identical and asked if we could talk more about it over dinner.” Devon raised a brow, “were you two─” I blinked a few times and then my eyes widen as I realized what he meant, “oh goodness no,” I say quickly. “I see,” he says, “did he say anything else at dinner?” I’m really torn, I’ve never been good at hiding the truth. I’d be a horrible poker player. I bite my lip and shake my head, “not really. I mean, he did seem like something was bothering him.” I trail off and look at the ground. 

 

Devon is quiet for a while. He’s so quiet that I sneak a peek at him. He’s turned to the side and looking out the window. His eyes look misty, I’m starting to lose my nerve. I want to be strong but I hate lying to him. I know he won’t believe me though. Just like the waitress he would rationalize what I tell him and he would definitely look at me different. Somehow the second part stings worse than the first. “I’m sorry, I wish I could be of more help,” I offer quietly. He turns back toward me and smiles that gut-wrenching smile. I can feel my stomach turn in knots. He deserves the truth, that’s why before I blurt it out I stand and excuse myself from the room. 

 

I can’t bear any of it anymore. The look on his face, the betrayal and hurt so wildly apparent. I want to throw up at my lie but I manage to push it down and walk over to my desk. The service will be in less than an hour and I needed to pull myself together. 

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The Day Alice Arrived – A Fantasy Short Story

The rain pounds, like thousands of toy soldiers beating on their drums. The wind moans off-key between the screen and my window. The swoosh of the oak tree beating against the house drones on above. It is the second night of the relentless March drench. I hate this time of year. I am unable to pry my eyes away from the evil face that lives in the ceiling as I lay in bed. Its mouth stays in a permanent howl of agony, and its eyes are small and beady. Sometimes I swear it moves to different parts of the ceiling. It is probably waiting for the perfect time to snatch and gobble me up. That would teach them. Why grandpa won’t just hurry and scrape the popcorn off of my ceiling, like he did for everyone else in this stinking house, I’ll never know. Mama teases that it’s because I don’t listen.

Good children are supposed to be in bed after nine, Mama says. Good children, like Mary, mind their mamas. And good children most certainly do not go adventuring in their best clothes and blame it on following faeries, gnomes, and other such nonsense into the woods. I get so mad when she says this I could split a coconut in two with my mind. Just because her old eyes can’t see it, doesn’t mean it isn’t there. How would mama know anyway? She’s never gone farther than twenty steps from Sir Brisbane’s dog house. Mama keeps calling him puddles. I worry for her. Sir Brisbane does not take kindly to such insults and has been known to take a bite out of calves. Particularly plump ones like mama has. He is, after all, part of the high court of Chauncey and a knight to boot. He’s been keeping the dark faeries from creating mischief in the human world for thirty plus years now, and he believes my mother should be more respectful to him, thank you very much.

I’ve long since known that animals can speak. You just have to have good listening skills. Their voices are on a different frequency than humans and much more soft, too soft for adults to hear. Once, I had a most delightful conversation with a sewer rat about the art of balancing on pipes. The trick to keeping yourself up is to swish your tail quickly from left to right. I try telling mama about this, but she just spanks me, yelling, ‘stuff and nonsense’ then sends me to bed hungry.

My eldest sister, Mary, is a yellow-bellied chicken. She’s seen things, just as I have, but keeps it quiet. And she never stands up for me around mama. Mary’s a bit of a pushover but we get along okay. Alice, the youngest of us, just ignores everyone and plays in the attic with her dolls. A real creeper, that one, I once found a whole trunk of headless dolls. Mama’s seen it too, but I think she’s too afraid to ask. As a matter of fact, we never talk about her. I’ve tried a few times, but Mama just changes the subject and Grandpa tells me to go to my room. Cowards, all of them.

During last year’s drench, after the third night, I heard strange thumping sounds outside of my door. I was too scared to open it, so I crawled on my belly and peered beneath the crack. I remember it like it was yesterday. Two glass eyes and stringy blonde hair stared back at me. It was one of Alice’s doll heads. I’ve never sprinted for my bed and leaped beneath the covers so fast in my life. I recited the Lord’s Prayer until dawn. That did not work. The next night I heard more thumping, followed by swift pacing on the other side. I was glad that whatever it was couldn’t come inside.

From the third night, until the very last day of the drench, the thing kept up the pacing and thumping last year. Then, as soon as it came, it went away. All that remains of its existence today is a faint groove in the wood. I, of course, got blamed for it and received two nights without supper, a firm talking to, and a whooping. I suspect now that it might be Alice− or something wearing Alice’s skin. I haven’t ruled out the theory of a body snatcher yet. Sir Brisbane tells me they’re as real as Mama’s mustache. I hope that it at least keeps the trend of not coming back until the third night. And I keep wishing this, as I stare up at smiley-mcbeady-eyed-creepy-pants, and hear the thumping outside of my door return. I may just wipe that stupid face off of the ceiling myself since no one else will. Bang, thump, scrape. I let out a yelp and pull the covers over my head. Alice is starting early this year. After several moments, I sneak a peek out of the blankets. The sound is finally gone.

Peeling back my blankets, I tip-toe over to the window, and pull back the curtains. Sir Brisbane Pettingsworth is huddled to the back of his house and panting as if he’s run several laps. When he notices me, he smiles, then bows. I roll my eyes at him. Really, being cordial at a time like this, how silly. I motion that I’m coming out and lean down to open the window. Forget staying in this house, I’ll just keep him company until dawn. Let Alice bang, thump, and scrape her little heart out. My hand touches the latch and I nearly jump out of my skin when the high pitched voice squeaks above me.

“Would hurry if I were you dear.” I gape at the ceiling, unsure of what to do.

“Who said that? Alice?” Bang, bang, thump, scrape is my only answer. Something scratches at the metal part just below the doorknob, and it sounds impatient. Tiny, perfectly pointed nails waiting to−I try not to think about it as a lump forms in my throat. Where is mama anyway, can’t she hear any of this from down the hall? I know she keeps her door open at night. They’re a bunch of sissies, all of them. Then I remember we are still in the middle of the storm, the oak tree is probably drowning out the noise. I decide to heed the voice’s warning and I undo the latch and pull on the window. It doesn’t budge.

“Nailed shut I’m afraid.” The voice chirps.

Annoyed I look up, “well then, how on earth am I supposed to hurry?” It’s a peculiar feeling, talking to the ceiling in the middle of the night. Mama must never know. I already see some quack twice a week for the faerie and gnome remarks.

“Break it of course.” It says.

Naturally, let me just pick up my vanity chair, and we’ll make a game of it, I think. Mama would just love me to pieces then. Bang, bang, bang. Alice is getting more creative, the banging almost taking on a beat to a song. I cross my arms and tap my foot. This is ridiculous, why am I hiding from my little sister? What’s the worst she can do bite and scratch me? I need to stop being a ninny and open the door. I march three paces and then halt. The beating has ceased, replaced by complete silence. Even the rain has softened. I know why I can’t open the door. Alice is anything but a normal little girl. I can’t explain it, call it intuition, or whatever, I just knew.

“Better hurry.” It taunts. I want to slap that voice from the ceiling, but I know it is right. I dash for the chair and smash it against the window. The glass showers the floor in tiny, clear crystals. I tense at the horrible screeching outside my bedroom door. She knows I’m trying to escape. I hear her footsteps descend down to the living room. What was Alice doing?

“Now you’ve done it.” The voice sounds like it’s enjoying this a little too much.

“What have I done?” I ask.

“I didn’t say break it loudly.”

I want to strangle the ceiling, and then I realize how mad that sounds. Oh well, I’ve gotten this far. “What do you mean break it quietly? There’s no such thing.” I say. The front door creaks open. Each pop and groan feels like a nail pounding shut the lid on my coffin.

“Oh, there’s always a way.” It quips. “Like a well-placed glass cutter, had you have had the sense to look around.” Ignoring the insult, I glance around the room and see a silver glint in the moonlight. There it is, on my vanity. I can just scream. The screech bellows from the right of my window. Then Alice begins to climb up the drainage pipe.

I don’t have time to think. I wedge the chair in the window and pull the curtains shut. I charge toward my bedroom door and twist the doorknob when I stop. Something isn’t right. I plunge to the floor and peek out. I freeze.

The cold, dead stare of Alice’s eyes look back at me. Her grin twists upward in a sea of black─ no teeth, no tongue. Just dark and nothingness. My eyes linger on the swirling soot that inhabits her insides. It is busy, flitting uniformly about as if a swarm of insects would. I jump up from the floor and slowly back away from the door. How could she possibly be two places at once? The chair wiggles behind me as the scrapping continues under the door. I pray that I am able to make it until morning. The doctor will be there.

I don’t know why, but Alice always disappears after the doctor gives me the burning medicine. Alice has not moved from the floor.  There must be something keeping her back. I pray to whatever would listen and squeeze my eyes shut. When I open them, Alice’s shadow has moved away from the door. I no longer hear her scraping, or footsteps but the rattling at the window has gotten louder. I take a chance and look beneath the door. Alice is gone, now is my chance to run to Mama’s room. My hand grips the knob.

“Not very bright are we child,” the voice states. Now it’s just being rude.

“And just what do you mean by that? I’ll have you know that I am top of my class at Bishop’s Middle─”

“School,” it interrupts, “has nothing to do with your predicament.” It yawns loudly. “You need to get outside to your friend. I thought we had discussed that already.” We most certainly had not, but I let this one slide. “Yes,” I say playing along, “but how would one do such a thing? You have clearly made it known that I cannot go out the door, though goodness knows why not.” His next sentence flies out, “goodness knows why─” he pauses and takes a breath, “listen here, you insolent child, I’m trying to save your life when all you’ve tried to do is have me removed from the ceiling.” He sputters something unintelligible and then shouts, “I’ve half a mind to up and leave you to your own demise.”  I stand by the door with my mouth gaping so wide I could catch a school of fish. This guy is a total loon. How am I supposed to know what to do? It occurs to me then that the chair has stopped jiggling in the window.

“Where did she─”

“Go?” The voice interjects, “she’s right where she’s always been. By your bedroom door.”

I’m tired of him cutting me off. Maybe I will have grandpa remove him in the morning.

“Well excuse me for not knowing that,” I replied gruffly, crossing my arms.  Then it clicks, the chair has stopped rattling. Why didn’t Alice burst through the window when she had the chance? I turn my gaze to the ceiling at Mr. Beady Eyes, hope starts to well up. I hope that it is not misplaced.

“Alice didn’t break into my room. Why is that?” I ask. For the first time I take a look at his face, I see his prickly mouth curl into a smile. “Why my dear, surely you have figured out some things along the way.”  His eyes shift over to the chair lodged in the window. Quiet as a church mouse I creep over to the window and peer outside.

There he is, not ten feet from the house─ my golden friend. There is no sign of Alice. I look down at the chair, it has fused perfectly with the glass. I feel like my friend has done this. I smile and look up. He is gone. A slow scrape sounds outside of the bedroom door. I wonder why she hasn’t come in yet. This thought troubles me so much that I have to know.

“Sir,” I hesitate, “why hasn’t Alice come in yet?” His response sounds dangerously close to an answer. “If you’d cared to glance at the knob you would know.” “The knob?” I ask. The ceiling lets out a long sigh, “must I tell you everything?” he drawls. I nod my head, inches from the door. I try a different approach. “Please. I’m running out of time. How do I get out of here?”

“I’m afraid I can’t help you there. I’m neutral.” he says softly.

“I─beg your pardon?” I stutter.

“I’m neutral dear. Which means I cannot meddle in your affairs.”

“But, you just─”

“I most certainly have not. I’ve only given you clues. Now, if you’ll excuse me. This has gotten rather dull.” I hear a crackling as the popcorn draws back into its original shape on the ceiling.

“Wait!” I yell. He shifts back into a face. “Well?” he asks impatiently.

“I need─” I trail off, looking at the floor. I don’t want to say it, but I know it’s my only hope. “I need a clue,” I mumble. It will stay like this forever until Alice finds a way break through. If things have escalated this far in just a year’s time, there’s no telling what she will do. I can’t stay locked up in my room forever. What I can’t figure out is why she wants to get to me so badly.

“Ah, a clue indeed,” he says smacking his lips together. Beady eyes sounds like he’s savoring a bit of candy. “If I were you,” he whispers, “I would try looking at a dead end.” Bang, thump. Alice is back to her pacing.

“What does that even mean?” I ask impatiently. I know what is coming next.

“Neutral,” we both say at the same time. “Figures,” I grumble.

I jumped as something large crashes into the door. Alice is becoming bolder by the second. I cannot wait any longer. The next blow would shatter the door. Mama, where are you? I wonder. I run to the only place I can think of as the next crash splinters the door. Huddled inside I pull shut the closet door, and back against the wall. A series of metal clicks sound behind me. My eyes widen as the wall gave way and I fell into a vast pit of darkness. The only sound I hear is the loud screech of Alice having lost her prey.  Her disembodied head hovers above me, then slowly disappears in the distance. The ceiling’s voice sounds around me, sounding rather proud, “there now, I knew you would understand.”

I tug at my nightgown, placing it between my knees. I begin to think this fall will never end and then─ it happens. I plunge into the frigid water, the force hitting me like a ton of bricks. I tumble head over heels in the frozen depths. When I finally stopped spinning, I look around and panic for several heartbeats. I’m unable to orient myself to where the surface lies. I had not taken a deep enough breath and my lungs already feel as if they are about to burst. A twinkle catches my eye and I flip my body around. I claw toward the light with all my might. How far had I fallen in? More than anything I wanted to hear Mama’s stern voice. I wanted to hear her calling my stories nonsense as she pressed the cool cloth against my forehead. I sputter and choke, releasing the last of the air from my lungs. Where is my furry friend now? I want desperately to feel him by my side. These last few moments I think of his warm eyes and wagging tail.

The twinkle from above seems  as far away as it was before. I make a last ditch effort to reach the top. Nothing happens. There is only the icy liquid between my fingers. I fall down further into the cold. I do not want to think it, but it creeps into my mind as the water seeps into my lungs─

I will die alone.

#

I wake to rocky pebbles pressed against my face and water lapping at my legs. I try to stand but only managed to get onto all fours. Water retches from out of my lungs and then I collapse on the shore, too tired to move. Finally I am able to sit up. I rub my eyes, blinking a few times. The cavernous room is vast. There are openings and tunnels that snake in and out of the walls. It is cold and damp. I rock back and forth, crying into my knees. How will I ever get home and if I do, will Alice be there? If only I could have made it to Mama’s room. If only the doctor had came on his usual day instead of coming tomorrow. His medicine would have made Alice go away for a while. I want to see my friend and run my hands through his feathery-soft fur while we gaze at the stars above.

There is no grass in this room─ only dirt. I lay on my side and curl my legs to my stomach. I had always been told if I got lost to stay where I was but who would ever think of looking for me here? I close my eyes. Maybe I should just sleep until someone gets here. As soon as I think this, I’m surrounded by warmth. He says nothing, but I feel him there. My friend has come for me. I open my eyes and stand. My lungs for the first time in years feel whole again. His fur is more golden than usual and he stands upright like a human. His armor, which he has never worn before, shines bright. I can’t help but reach out and brush my hand against the glittering surface. A gentle breeze carrying the scent of our garden rustles my hair. He smiles down at me and for the first time, I notice the vibrant flecks of color in his eyes. His muzzle has been replaced with a golden, crinkly smile. His paws have grown smooth and fleshy. I blink, realizing they are not paws at all but large, strong hands. The room brightens like the surface of the sun and I shield my eyes from its brilliance.

Reaching out, he gently grasps my hand and we walk down the stark, white corridor. I look down, marveling at the golden silk sash that crosses just above my belly. I wonder when my nightgown has become such a splendid garment, but I quickly forget about it. That all seems so trivial now. I try to turn my head to look back at where I had fallen in the water but my friend gently wraps his fingers below my chin and turns me the other way.

“Best not to look back child,” he says. I smile nod, walking hand-in-hand with my best friend.

 

 

 

 

I will be posting this on my Royal Road as well.

xoxo Grey

 

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Handmade Mini-Book Giveaway

Hi guys! My birthday is next Thursday and to celebrate I wanted to give away a hand drawn, hand written fantasy mini book. If you would like to enter, you can enter here. 

I’ll announce the winner on my Birthday!

The story will be all fantasy and done in mixed media. I will hand bind it, draw it, paint it, and write it. I’ve always been a lover of making things and especially for other people. If you know someone that also may love this, send them over to Twitter~

Have a wonderful, glorious Friday dears. ❤

Grey

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How To Beat Going Back To Work Anxiety

Ugh.

You’ve had basically two weeks of a whole lot of nothing and suddenly, boom, responsibility hits and you’re stuck with two more days of hell before the weekend. What do you do? How do you cope? Does anyone at the office follow your Instagram because not even you can remember what you posted the night before last and it sat on there a whole day before you deleted it.

Your emails have piled up, you’re dead tired, and why the hell is Carroll breathing so loud today? And for the love of everything why are we the assholes stuck working this week when half the building isn’t here?

Well at the very least let’s try not to worry about all that and focus on the positive, right?

Please stop cussing at me mentally, I’m here to help.

I get anxiety (like, every few minutes a day and it gets 10000XFUCKINGHELLMF#%! worse during certain times along with my awesome IUD creating more)  so I totally get the backlash from you right now. But let mama bear share what really helps. ❤

No. Thinking positive does not always fix the problem. Over an extended amount of time, and if you make it part of your daily routine, yes it will slowly start improving your mental state. But it doesn’t help the physiological problems that come with it.

Tightening of the chest, shallow breath, increased heart rate, and the feeling that makes you want to tear off your meat suit and fling yourself from the highest building, unfortunately, is still present.

And while hating on the staff and holing yourself off from the world may keep you safe for a moment or two, you’re going to have to face reality at some point.

Especially after every boss in existence is on dat New Year’s high where they drag all of you down with them with these big plans of really shaking up the department.

So, how do you do it? How do you face the mornings after your big break?

You aren’t going to like me with this next sentence. If you stressed the night before or the next couple of nights before and didn’t get a lot of sleep─ avoiding too much caffeine may be a good way to go. Multiple studies have shown that consuming past a couple cups of coffee can increase anxiety. While one or two may be beneficial (dare I say healthy) more can cause heart palpitations, fidgeting, uneasiness, and dehydration. Which causes headaches, ironic since a little caffeine can be used to treat migraines.

Get sleep.

Go to bed early if you know your anxiety is getting the better of you. Try giving yourself an additional thirty minutes up to an hour to sit comfortably in bed. Watch a show, play on your phone a bit, or read a book. I know every story out there tells you not to do anything in your bed but sleep, but that has NEVER worked for me.

My anxiety goes through the roof if I have nothing but me and my brain alone.

That’s not to say that you just distract yourself enough until you’re tired, you still need to face what’s causing your anxiety, but now you have more time to ease into the bedtime.

Which brings me to schedule, schedule, schedule.

Girrrl, I know you can’t be caged and you a wild animal and all─ but if you wanna get paid and not have a mental breakdown, get your sleep schedule on track.

Ready to put on your big girl pants?

Breathe. Just focus on drawing breath in and drawing breath out. Feel the air moving in and out of your nose. Breathe deep and long with a rush of aaaahhhhh when you breathe out. If you’re familiar with yoga, they call this ‘lion’s breath.’

A key element for beating anxiety for me is focusing on this and nothing else. Take a minute (or two), go to the restroom or shut the door to your office.

I have an app on my watch that I use once a day working on my breathing for two minutes. It’s glorious.

When I say this, it doesn’t work for everyone but can for you─ try and clear your mind of your daily routine or what you have going on that’s stressing you. Focus, instead, on things that bring you peace. Whatever that may be and breathing.

 

Next, give yourself a little pep talk.

“I know you feel shitty, but you handled that email like a boss.”

“Damn girl, your booty don’t quit.” Alternatively: “Damn man, your booty don’t quit.”

It’s the current year─ men can be booty positive too.

Make it a habit to give yourself a pep talk every day. It really does make a difference.

Drink loads of water (like, way more than you think you should) because that will keep your energy up instead of tons of carbs. And, often times you’re not hungry just thirst confused for hunger.

I learned that ages ago when I was (omg) 100 lbs heavier. Not joking. Don’t eat when you’re bored/depressed, you make horrible decisions.

Most importantly, when you walk out that door at 5:05 p.m. work stays behind those doors. Never mix life with work, they need to be kept separate. Another hard lesson Grey had to learn the hard way.

Love yourselves ❤

Grey

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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The Fat Man – A Christmas Poem (funny)

So for those of you that follow my Twitter, you saw my Christmas tradition of ‘Battle with the Fatman’ I do every year. The tradition continues with this year’s shenanigans. For those of you that missed it, here it is:

Twas the night before Christmas and all through the house,

I was waiting alone for him to come out.

The stockings were hung by the chimney with care,

I’d lined them with noise makers to know when he’s there.

The family was nestled all snug in their beds,

Unaware of the battle that was ahead.

 

 

My dog Ketti laid in my lap, And had just settled in for an evening nap.

When out on the lawn there rose such a sound she leaped from my lap and barked very loud.

Away to the window I rushed to see,

If the fat man had finally gotten to me.

The moon shone brightly on the new fallen snow,

As I waited impatiently for him below.

 

When what to my eager eyes did appear,

but the fat man himself and nine tiny reindeer.

Faster than a bullets through the sky they flew,

And he yelled and snarled his commands to his crew.

On,dasher! On, dancer! On, prancer! and Vixen.

On, comet! On, cupid! On, Donner and Blitzen!

Rudolph guide us to that home, travel fast,

For this night we’re going to kick major ass.

So up on the house top the reindeer did fly,

& I reached under the couch & gripped my .45.

 

To my utmost dread I heard on the roof,

the scraping & pawing of each little hoof.

As I tucked in my elbows & was turning around,

Down the chimney ‘Saint’ Nicholas came with a bound.

 

He was dressed in armor from his head to his foot,

and his clothes were all tarnished with ashes and soot.

A bundle of guns he had flung on his back,

and he looked like Clint Eastwood but…really fat.

His eyes how they squinted,

His voice, how it scratched!

And he sized me up as he struck a match.

He lit the cigar that hung from his grin,

And he gave a hearty laugh whispering, “what trouble you’re in. ”

 

He reached behind him & drew weapons with a jerk,

And said not a word as he got straight to work.

The first shot fired mere inches from my head,

And I rolled to the ground thankful to not be dead.

I took a second to gather my wits,

When the couch in front of me was blasted to bits.

 

Quicker than lightening I aimed for his face,

but the asshole had teleported to another place.

Ketti stayed hidden as the battle waged on,

the coward, no doubt, was probably long gone.

My family was clueless, or they’re fraidy cats too,

but I won’t let that stop me from killing his crew.

If I can’t take him out with any of my moves,

then I’ll aim my next shot up toward…The roof.

 

With a massive grin as the fat man gained ground,

I squeezed the trigger and he froze at the sound.

His head shot up and his body went slack,

then I lowered my weapon, aiming at his back.

This was my chance, I must make it work,

it was time that he learned to stop being a jerk.

He’d terrorized this town for the last damn time,

and my finger found the trigger as the clock began to chime.

 

The blast was deafening, but my grin stayed fixed,

I’d finally got him that jolly little bitch.

But as the smoke cleared, my grin faded away,

the bastard had managed an impossible escape.

I roared at the magical lights that filled the room,

And swear to the nine hells that I’ll get him, soon.

This year managed to be a bust,

but next year, yes, next time he will be crushed.

 

You can follow my mini-campaigns weekly on Twitter as well for more awesome adventures. ❤ Greysanta

 

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Merry Christmas – Happy Holidays!

It’s that time of year, the one that makes you reflect over the past eleven months and wonder: How did I gain another ten pounds after eating so poorly for the past two months? smh, we’ll never know.

But what I do know is that it’s a mixed bag time of year for me. One that I usually find myself contemplating over the good and the bad. I feel somewhat accomplished in my writing endeavors, having completed a few short stories and almost finished with my next novel. If you’d like to check out my work, you can read it here. 

I’ll be slowly updating them on here too with links to the other parts. If you really are enjoying my work and would like to support me, you can here. I post my work free because I’ve always been torn over charging others over it since it really is a joy of mine.

One thing I am ripped up about is I didn’t get to send my work off to a publisher this year like I’d hoped, but my goal is to do that this coming year. There’s always this still-small voice in the back of my mind that says, “you’ll never be good enough.” She won this year, unfortunately. The depression was real this year you guys.

Not because of the fact that I don’t love every moment of my life and cherish those in it, but because I shut down. To add to that, I work something like 70 hours a week and creativity can be stretched thin when you get home at 6:30 and have to go to bed at 8 to wake up at 4. I got down because I need to do this in order to survive, but my heart has always been with writing and creating. I love sitting in front of a blank canvas, or a blank google doc and just─ going to town.

I know every artist/writer out there wants to do this, but I think it really is the most important thing to us. We thrive off of expressing that creative energy, it moves us. My guilt, and downfall, has always been being timid about asking people for things. Namely, money. And I wonder if every artist struggles with this very thing.

I think: “Ok, you are going to start promoting your work and stop offering it for free.”

Then, the evil half that takes up like 80% of my brain goes, “bitch, look at these other writers and artist out there, you ain’t shit.”

Then, it happens.

I agree with her and just keep throwing it up for free. I need to get to a place emotionally where I can view my work as worthy. And see, this is where I struggle.

Those of you that read my blogs know that I come from a past that is not exactly Disney movie friendly. I find myself pushing everyone away, yet feel sad that there is no one in my life. Depression does this to you. It makes you think, “I don’t need anyone in my life, and I don’t want to be in theirs” and then later you think, “I’m so alone and need someone, why doesn’t anyone care?”

Idk, maybe because you sit on your ass eating cheetos and ignore the 9,856,420 text messages at people’s attempt to get you to hang out with them? Then eventually they stop caring because it seems like you don’t.

It’s an odd mixture of being eternally hopeful, and completely hopeless. 

It’s exhausting and annoying, even to you.

So for all my fellow sufferers out there, I just want to say that you are not alone. My Christmas will be quaint and quiet, but I’m going to force myself to have a good one this year and focus on the positives. Hopefully you will too.

 

Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays and love yourselves. ❤

Grey

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Tuesday Musings – Anxiety in Men and Women and How they Differ

stress

 

Before we begin, let’s just all take a breath. A deep one.

Ok, we ready?

Anxiety sucks. For anyone that has ever experienced it knows─ it is the worst.

From panic attacks to full-blown panic disorders many people in the U.S. (and in the West in general) suffer from this. It affects their daily life, and their long-term life.

It’s so prevalent in our society that many people affected by it are shown to take more time off of work, are far less social, and are less likely to finish school. Think about how that impacts their quality of life. 

Could you imagine waking up, your heart pounding for no reason as you lay in bed? Everything feels off. I mean, really off. Like at any moment, the world would explode around you and you just want to run away. But, you can’t. You are stuck in your own skin, feeling this miserably-awful gut-wrenching fear and that you are not ok.

Your skin is clammy, your fingertips like ice.

Your chest is tight and your heart just won’t stop beating like you’ve run a marathon, both ways, uphill in the snow.

It gets better. Many people that have crippling anxiety also win the genetic lottery with depression. Oh yeah, this girl right here knows.

Party at Grey’s place, wut wut

While mine stems from my childhood and early adulthood trauma (yay PTSD) many more are affected by this in some form or fashion. Women are two to three times more likely to suffer from anxiety than men. Why is this, I’ve wondered?

Well, there is some debate to this but many people believe it is due to girls and women experiencing trauma earlier in life. That, or if it is possible that it is inherently increased in women.

Oh great, thanks ancestors.

Another fun thing our brain tends to do is process serotonin release slower than our male counterparts. 

While we all laugh it up and drown our sorrows in wine and other recreational drugs

Molly-Percocet

Let’s be real.

Women tend to ruminate and medicate to cope while dudes get physical. Curiously enough, men also have the positive side of their brain light up when they are under pressure. Damn, I wish my brain got overloaded with serotonin and cortisol.

Ladies, we can learn from this. One of the biggest challenges I faced when going through treatment was to shut that shit down. My brain tends to do this thing where it loops all the bad things on repeat.

Oh, you don’t like that? It used to taunt.

Let’s turn this shit up to you crying in the shower for thirty minutes to end your day.

Yeah. My life was hell for the better part of fifteen years emotionally. I still get bouts of it, but I’ve learned a super secret technique I’m going to share with you:

It’s called keeping yourself busy, mentally and physically.

Get real physical guuurl. Because thinking is the devil.

No, not in an unhealthy way. Clearly if you have issues that you need to go talk to a professional about do that along with this. However, several studies have shown that as Westerners, we have way too much idle time and we also suffer from more anxiety and depression than those in other countries. I think if I had to work my fingers to the bone every day, I’d probably collapse in bed in a heap of exhaustion and not have time to focus on all my mental hang-ups.

Except─ hold on, I have.

This year, I quit my full-time job to help run a company. On top of all that, I write and stream. I started noticing something I never had happen before. My anxiety was easing because I felt like I had purpose─ which gave me drive. Something I haven’t experienced in a long time. My depression and anxiety have always centered around feeling worthless and that I didn’t feel accomplished at the end of the day.

It was something I always lacked because I had the same facts drilled in my head every day of my childhood:

you aren’t good enough, you never will be, you’re useless, you’re pathetic. 

It all goes on.

So, while our hormones react differently (and different centers of our brain light up during stress and anxiety) there are a few similarities between men and women with anxiety.

The major one that a lot of people report is the feeling of impending doom (yay flight center of the brain!) shortness of breath, tight chest, and the feeling of discomfort in their own skin.

Unfortunately, having estrogen and progesterone kind of plays havoc on our brain-place. Ugh, as if women needed more added stress to their lives.

Don’t fear, ladies─ there is hope! With a healthy dose of physical activity, cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), and daily mindfulness and rest, you can combat the daily demons.

Numerous studies have shown that taking as little as two minutes up to twice a day of breathing exercises and mindfulness of stressors/triggers(TRIGGERED) you can lower your stress (and blood pressure) to a healthy level.

I use the breathing app in fitbit. Some people love Calm

There are many others, but I’ve heard good things about these. I know they help keep me stay on track, just like having a regular daily routine and lots of sleep. (but damn, sleep is important.)

I think we can all take a little time to appreciate the importance of ourselves, and others and value what we have to offer each other. I tip my hat to the guys on this one, so far it’s worked for me and maybe it can work for you too.

But hey, just my thoughts on a Tuesday.

Take care everyone and feel free to discuss below. I’m more than happy to share my own battles and victories with anxiety and depression.

Love yourselves,

❤ Grey