Thursday, April 10, 2014

The Quiet Room

The Quiet Room
by, Melissa R. Mendelson

August 21, 2050.  5 p.m.  They brought her in.  She was bloody, disoriented, and hysterical.  She mumbled incoherent sentences as they pulled her past me.  Like a doll, she was thrown inside, and then the white wall came crashing down, cutting her out from this world.  A hand print pressed against the panel.  Infinite, which was strange for the ones mostly brought here lasted anywhere from a day to a few years.  There was one that was of different circumstances that remained behind the white wall for over ten years, so was she the same?

I knew better than to ask questions.  I received their paperwork, and without a word, they left.  They reminded me of a pack of wolves but in corporate wear, so I definitely knew better than to ask them anything.  Sure, I wanted to know, but the last guy to ask questions was found shortly later in an alleyway with not only his tongue cut out but also his prized jewels.  I valued mine, so I would be quiet.  I would be as quiet as these quiet rooms.

Now, to business.  I dropped the paperwork for the newcomer on the nearly visible desk that liked floating right behind me.  I lost track of how many times I bumped or bruised into it.   It was better when desks didn’t float.  Computers were now the size of dimes, so why couldn’t desks be the same?  And the desk swallowed her paperwork and spit out those waiting to be released from confinement.

It was funny releasing those cut from this world.  They reminded me of children.  They all wore long, white gowns with fuzzy, white slippers.  They were clean from the condensing showers inside.  Not one germ touched their pale skin, and their eyes shined from the fluorescent lights.  They looked at me but didn’t say a word.  I gestured to the panel for their handprint, and they followed my lead.  And then I would lead them to the waiting area, where someone normally would await them.  If nobody was there, and there were those situations, I would have to call in Assistance.  And those people are never too friendly.  They acted like these lost souls were the burden of society and treated them as such, getting them ready to go outside just to throw them to the curb.  It was disgusting, and I despised them.  But I never said a word.

There were four today.  One was here for a day.  Another a month.  Two had been confined for almost two years.  I wondered what they had done to deserve that sentence, and like the newcomer, they came in wild.  And now they were porcelain dolls standing before me and hoping to be part of the world once again, and who am I to deny them that?  They suffered enough, so I led them to the waiting area, where all but one had someone waiting.  Great.  Now, I had to call in Assistance, and with gritted teeth, I did just that.

What else was on the agenda?  Nothing.  Once Assistance dragged off that last soul, I was left to do my normal routine.  The quiet rooms reminded of that labyrinth tale, the one with the minotaur at the end, Theseus, I believe.  I loved drifting across those jagged corridors, thinking nothing, listening against the soft, white walls for life inside.  Mostly, I heard nothing, and if I heard something, it was crying.  It was always crying.  They just couldn’t stand to be alone, and the thought of isolation shivered through me.  I would hate to be them.  Most of them came here because of drugs, and in this world, rehabilitation was a street hoar at the corner giving you the low dose stuff.  So, they came here.  The others were just crazy, but I know that you’re not supposed to use that word.  But I don’t care.  Which one was the newcomer, and like the others, she was crying too.

A month passed.  She would always be crying.  When she wasn’t crying, she was screaming.  Half the time, I couldn’t understand her.  The other half was crazy talk.  Murder.  Conspiracy.  Lies.  Betrayal.  It was the stuff of novels, and as I drifted around in-between errands, I found myself drawn to her room.  If I was a writer, I would capture her words, but I’m not.  I was never good with words, which was one reason why I came here.  They liked people like me.  They knew I would not ask questions, and I didn’t.  I might be curious but not dangerously curious, so they watched me less.  And when I did need something, I would tap on the security cameras twice, and someone would come.  But that rarely occurred.

Four months later.  She was the last newcomer.  That caused me to fear.  The last place like this that was shut down was covered in conspiracy.  The staffer, me had disappeared.  Some patients vanished too because the shutdown was prior to their release date.  Some whispered that they were all murdered, cleansed out.  Some whispered that they were dropped off onto one of those islands far, far out to sea to never be heard from again.  That wouldn’t be so bad to be stranded on an island, but I doubted those words.  They were dead.  If this place goes, so do I .

I had started checking her panel often.  She showered once a day.  She slept six to seven hours.  She read when she was awake.  The crying and screaming had finally ceased.  She seemed more hungry now than before.  Strange.  Their appetites mostly diminished here, but hers had increased.  It was like she was eating for two, but that couldn’t be right.  They do medical checks before bringing them here, but what if they missed something with her?

My curiosity itched.  Part of me wanted to open the white wall, but that was forbidden.  That was certain death, and her panel was red locked.  If I dared to open it, it would sound the alarms.  I wouldn’t even have time to run.  Her life was not worth mine, so I ignored the itch.  But it grew, and a few months later, I felt nearly consumed.

I pressed my ear against the white wall, wishing I could peer inside.  I could feel her on the other side.  Did she know I was there?  I could talk to her or at least try, but I was never good with words.  I knocked once against the soft surface, and then I glanced anxiously at the cameras overhead.  They were watching.  I knew better, but I couldn’t help it.  Something was off.  I felt it.  Since she arrived here, it wasn’t right, and even if they never returned, I knew they were close.  One wrong move, and it was all over.

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Tuesday, April 08, 2014

Alternate Prism

Alternate Prism
by, Melissa R. Mendelson

I live and breath
I dream as the day goes by.
I wait for the
bus to roll in,
and as I wait,
I realize now
that I am not alone.
She turns to me,
and her mouth falls open.
It was as if she knew me,
but it wasn’t me.
It was another,
a touch of alternate reality,
but I just step aside.
I shake it off
when I realized how
he stared at the birds nearby
like two stars dancing
toe to toe,
an alternate Reality show.
They were all staring off into space.
At least, most were,
catching a glimpse of a world
beyond my own,
and I no longer live and breath

Wednesday, April 02, 2014

This Isolation

This Isolation
by, Melissa R. Mendelson

My life is lived 
in isolation. 
I'm alive, 
and I'm not. 
And I want to be seen, 
so I stand upon this stage, 
ready to take on the world. 
But I choke 
on strings 
I pull, 
a porcelain doll 
threatened to break, 
but I want to be heard. 
I want to live, 
be alive, 
and escape 

Five Years Gone

Five Years Gone
by, Melissa R. Mendelson

Five years ended
with a push
of a button.
Fade to black.
The past is gone.
Vacant is the chair,
and the ghost of me remains,
haunted in
this space
to mingle among the other ghosts.
Forget you
will not,
and darkness
moves in.
So long.
my friends. 

Friday, March 28, 2014


The glass door whooshed open, and sunlight slipped in.  A smell of chemicals mixed in the air with blood, sweat, and maybe even tears.  Dirty footprints marked the tiled floor right up to the mat under the glass window.  A pad and pen was ready for the visitor, and she signed in.  As she signed her name and time, she grimaced at a broken nail, making a mental note that such a thing had to be fixed and could not be ignored.  As she moved away from the glass window, she made a fist so as not to see such a flaw, but then she saw those in the waiting room staring back at her.

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Monday, March 24, 2014

The NY State of Mind Does Not Brake For Enlightenment

The NY State of Mind Does Not Brake For Enlightenment
by, Melissa R. Mendelson

George Carlin had this joke. Take a pad and paper with you every day.  Count up to ten.  That would be the number of assholes that you would encounter in a day, but sometimes, you would even get past ten.  I personally lose count every time I’m behind the wheel going to work or coming home because drivers lately have the need for speed, and as another car cuts me off, missing me by an inch, I glance down at the book beside me.  It’s ‘A Simple Path’ by the Dalai Lama.

Consciousness.  It’s an entity in itself.  Does it stem from emptiness within?  Does Karma factor into its role?  If anything, Karma is based on the cause and effect of decisions made through consciousness, but I have to wonder if the drivers playing Frogger before me are aware of their dangerous actions.  I was just going to the vet’s office for my furball’s annual shots when Mr. Purple began to erratically flash his headlights.  Either he was having a seizure or he really needed to call his proctologist, but he was not the boss of me.  And he would not be the first nor last road rager that I would encounter.

It’s the true lying game.  We tell ourselves that we are in control, but are we really?  One wrong move, and it’s all over.  And do you think that they would tell the cops the truth?  No.  They would lie to cover their ass, and then after everything is said and done, they would do it all over again.  It’s a vicious cycle.  It’s like my brother, who is incapable of telling the truth.  Granted, that might be part of his Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD), but even when cornered after throwing out an important document, he still cannot confess the truth.  You know that he did it.  He knows that he did it, but that is as far as you go.  And drivers play the same game.

It was a quiet day at work last week.  I decided to leave early and have my blood drawn.  The parking lot was a zoo, but I finally found a space.  The wait was brief, and the labwork was done.  I was ready to go home, but as I slowly pulled out of my space, loud honking ensued.  I braked, looking over my shoulder to see a woman bent over her steering wheel and going berserk.  I waited until she was done spewing curse words muffled by her raised windows.  Once done, she merely glared at me, so again, I backed out.  And then she went berserk again, screaming curse words that only she could hear, and finally hitting the gas like a bat out of hell, and then she stopped at the STOP sign, waiting for her turn to merge.

I had a fish once called Louie.  He was always mouthing off.  He loved to swear just as much as I did, and that fish swore up until the day when the cat ate him.  It strikes me funny that no matter how much I like to swear, I rarely do that when I’m driving.  Sure, I get those that hunch over their steering wheel, mouthing infamous words that only they could hear, or I get those that make the bird signal.  It doesn’t faze me.  Only in the rarest situation do I let those certain words course through the air.  One situation would be when I was merging at the top of Route 6, and this guy with a car full of people drove right alongside my car, trying to force me over into the barrier or opposite lane just to cut me off.  He nearly drove himself and those people with him into a ditch, but lucky for him, he was just able to squeeze his ass in front of me to avoid disaster.  And the boy in the backseat glared at me like I was the villain, but that’s just the sweet lie that they would believe.

We are our own worst enemy.  We are marionettes, and our puppeteer is that voice inside our head.  We tell ourselves that we have the right of way, ignoring that YIELD sign by Exit 15, and then we brake hard when a car flies by, missing us by only an inch.  We tell ourselves that yes, we can merge, but that other car stays beside us, blocking the merge, and causing conflict and confusion.  Why are they still there?  You are in control.  You own the road.  You tell yourself that, feeling the need for speed, dodging in-between those that would slow you down, and nobody better stand in your way.  Or so that voice tells you, pulling those strings, and laughing silently at the thunder of collision.  It’s a lie, a lie that we will always believe because that voice shapes our reality, and we see its perfection not its flaws.  And then we press the pedal to consciousness, making rash decisions based on what we believe to be true, but we could be dead wrong.  Luckily, that is rarely the case, but some come close.  And when we need that voice the most to guide us out of harm’s way, it falls silent.  You are on your own, and your strings are cut.  Et tu Brute?

Life is far from a simple path.  Its jagged turns leave us bleeding, broken, and jagged ourselves.  Our mentality is not programmed for peace, love, and understanding, at least not here in our New York State of mind.  We are fierce creatures especially on these roadways, some as infamous as Route 6(66).  We cannot be courteous when we don’t even observe and obey basic road signs like YIELD or STOP.  We’re consumed with thought, one thought in particular that we are in control.  Resistance is futile, and we will never change.  I see that every day as I scribble down on my mental notepad the assholes that I encounter.  George Carlin was right.  You could count up to ten in a day, but I seem to lose count after awhile.

Saturday, March 15, 2014

How Do You Say Good-Bye?

How Do You Say Good-Bye?
by, Melissa R. Mendelson

Five years. It hardens my heart that I lost ten in retail. If I had listened to my father then and not been so stubborn, I might have come here sooner, but that falls under shoulda, coulda, woulda. Once that pendulum swung, I knew my time here was done, and April would be a whole new ballgame. But the farewells come first. The hugs, tears, and warm wishes wait at the end before the next beginning, but how do you say good-bye?

I remember saying good-bye to Ann Marie, John, and Frank at Birch Lane. By the time I graduated high school, there were no friends left to say good-bye to, but I said good-bye to Dave as I packed myself up and moved to Long Island. I never said good-bye to the ones I met out there and hope never to. Those I met in retail were quickly forgotten except for a few, and those memories haunt the dreams worried of me returning. But I’m done with retail. Wherever I go next, it won’t be there, so that place, that time, I will say good-bye to.

But the good-byes have not arrived here. The clock is counting down. Two weeks. Then, I’m gone. I’ll drop in now and then, but as time moves on, I might do the same. I never know how the month or year will go, and I’m tired of repeating an endless cycle. I’ve dodged the bullet too many times now, and it is time to go, time to start over. I just wish I knew where or how, but this move is certain. I’m going, so good-bye. But good-bye is not so easy. The memories are there, the laughter and tears, and letting go is not such a breeze to drift by. So, how do you really say good-bye?

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Under White - Finale

Under White - Finale
by, Melissa R. Mendelson

“You speak now?”

It should not have been such a strange question.  I used to speak a lot.  Words would just pour from my mouth like a waterfall, hoping for those nearby to come and drink, but my words always seemed to fall on deaf ears.  Until I died.

We must have walked a long time.  The police came quickly, and so did the Emergency Medical Technicians.  How do you explain a dead girl to them?  I couldn’t.  We couldn’t, so we ran.  That nice, wealthy guy tried to stop us, but we still ran.  And we haven’t stopped until now because he was out of breath, but I do not breathe.  But I could still feel some glass left digging in my skin, and as he grabbed his knees and heaved, I swatted at those fragments as I would a fly.  And then I thought about what he said.  Do I speak now?

“Do you?”

“Pen and paper.”

Where the hell did that come from?  Pen and paper?  What was I going to do with that?  Write a book about being dead?  I shook my head and opened my mouth, but the words that I wanted to say refused to come out.  Just a small bubble of air escaped through my lips, and that was that.  I was speechless once again, and the only words left were pen and paper.  Did that voice just speak through me?  Was that it?  I hated it, but to think that this thing could talk through me was even worse.  I am not a pawn, some puppet to pull strings.  I am a human being, or at least, I was.

“Pen and paper?”  Jerome stood up straight and cracked his back.  “There’s a stationary store over there.”  He pointed across the street.  “Wait here,” and he sprinted by without another word.

“1408 Cemetery Lane.  Today.  One p.m.”

“Stop it,” I hissed.  “Just stop it.  Haven’t you done enough?”

“You played your part well.”

“Excuse me,” I hissed again.  “What is that supposed to mean?”

“It means that this is the end, so write your note for it will be your last.”  And those words echoed in its wake.

No.  I was going to die.  What am I talking about?  I was already dead, but I was still here.  I was still part of this world.  I was with him, and he saw me for the one that used to be alive.  I didn’t want to go.  I wanted to live.  I wanted to stay here, and a tear raced down my cheek.

“You okay?”  He raced up beside me and then handed me the damn pen and paper.  “You wanted this?”  I nodded but then frowned.  “What’s wrong?”

I opened my mouth, and his words came pouring out.  “1408 Cemetery Lane.  Today.  One p.m.”

“That’s less than an hour.”  He checked his watch.  “We need to catch the bus, or we’ll be late.”  He started to walk down the street, but I didn’t follow.  “You coming?”

Why was this being done to me?  What did I do to deserve this?  Nothing.  The word flashed in my mind, and then it was gone.  I looked down at the pen and paper in my hands, but I had no idea what I was supposed to write.  Who was the note for?  Would it be my last will and testament?  Was that it, another part of the monster’s cruel joke?  I wish I knew, but I didn’t.  Instead, I got onto the blue beetle as it pulled up beside the curb.

Less than an hour quickly passed by.  I had no clue where we were, but he did.  And he didn’t say a word as we passed by the large, iron gates.  It took me a moment, and then I saw the headstones.  This was someone, something’s cruel joke for where it wanted me to go, and it was not funny.  But it couldn’t get any worse.  I was wrong.  The funeral procession was just up ahead, and then I saw the picture near the casket.  It was my picture.

“Is this where you wanted to go?”

I ignored those words.  I was more amazed at the turnout.  I figured if I ever died, there would only be a handful of people present, but there were more than that.  I even saw my assistant manager there, and then I saw my parents.  If I had a heart, it would’ve broken in two, and then I looked down at the pen and paper still in my hands.  And I knew who the note was for.

“I’m done.”  Those words were mine, and they surprised me as they slipped from my dry lips.  “Here,” I forced out behind them, and I handed Jerome the note.  I was done.  I felt it.  “Thank you,” and I fell forward.  And he caught me in his arms.

I felt like I was drifting off into some faraway dream.  He carried me down the grassy knoll.  The priest stopped in mid-prayer.  The sea of mourners parted.  My parents gasped, and the casket was opened.  And I was placed inside with his hand still resting on my chest.  If I had a heart, I might have loved him.  If I had a heart, it might have broken in two as the policemen stepped forward and placed Jerome in cuffs, and if I had a heart, it might have soared as he begged for a moment to deliver my note.  And it was delivered before the casket slammed closed.

I would never know how my last words were met.  I imagined shock would set in at first, disbelief, and then love.  They would know it was from me.  How could anyone know the things written on that paper but me, and yes, I wrote from the heart.  Mine was gone, but the ghost of it was still there.  And I loved them, and I was okay.  And it was time to say good-bye, so here I rest, waiting to go to ground.  And then a funny thing happened.  The darkness shattered.

I was hovering over a crowd of people, who were cheering and whistling.  They applauded with such enthusiasm.  Their eyes held to the stage, waiting in anticipation, and then I noticed the two grown men standing up front near the stage.  They looked like Barry and Al, and one of them had a kid.  And then he took to the stage, ready to run for mayor.  Vote For Jerome waved in the air against black and white signs, and he raised his arms high in the air as if he wanted to wave to someone.  Maybe, that someone was me, but then I fell back against another dream.

My parents chased a toddler around the backyard.  It was a grandchild.  It was my niece.  My brothers hung back and gossiped, laughing at the good old times, and I laughed with them.  They were happy, so that made me the same.  I stood beside them for a long moment, and then my niece turned toward me and waved.  And I waved back.

“Ready to go?”

“Done playing games?”  He was a small man dressed in black.  “And go where?”

“Home,” and he held out his hand.  “I’m Mort, by the way.”

“Nice to meet you,” and I took his hand.  “Let’s go,” and we disappeared under the white.