Below is your reminder to keep trying.
I love writing. I love how it makes me feel. I love the freedom it gives me. I am also a perfectionist. Meaning, I feel like I have failed if I don't exceed mine and other's expectations. If I don't become a best selling author, then I should be embarrassed for even trying to write.
But- that's just simply not true. And I bet I am not the only one out there who feels this way. What matters is that you try, and that you do it for yourself. Trying and failing is still a form of a success. Real failure only happens when you don't try at all.
So whatever it is that you are thinking about trying- running a marathon, a new job, learning a new language, writing, going back to school, playing an instrument- just DO IT! You'll never fault yourself for trying, but you will regret letting self doubt and that little self-deprecating asshole in your head tell you your not good enough.
So with all that in mind, I am going to do my part too. I am going to keep writing about the calamity of errors and anxiety that is my life. I am going to tell you about my successes and my failures. Because we all succeed and we all miss the mark from time to time.
Earlier this year I decided to enter a short story contest hosted by a bad ass Canadian woman who has written thought provoking and ground breaking short stories throughout her entire life. She is 92 and still going strong. They received over 300 entries this year from all around the world. Surprise, surprise- I was not short listed and didn't place in the top three this year. But, I TRIED. And I am proud of the short story I wrote. So instead of allowing that little nitpicking ugly voice rattling around in my brain tell me that I should be embarrassed- I am going to share it here.
Blinding sunlight revealed a smattering of red mist across a young girl’s alabaster cheeks as she staggered from her grandfather’s barn. Listless, she dragged a rusted pair of garden shears behind her, scraping the dilapidated concrete. The girl stopped and looked down at her summer dress. Splashes of crimson blood covered the delicate lace. Her gaze drifted towards the farmhouse standing stoically across the yard. It’s time, a menacing voice breathed into her ear. As if on command, the small child took a step forward.
The silence in the farmyard was deafening as the sweltering sun beat down on the lush green grass. The hum of a busy working farm had given way to an unnatural stillness. No whir from the running engines of trucks or tractors. The clucking of the chickens had ceased, and the pastured cattle fell silent in the stagnant air.
The girl stumbled barefoot across the rough gravel of the empty yard, her steps becoming purposeful as she lost herself to the darkness climbing up her spine and overtaking her senses. Despite the harsh stones slicing into the tender flesh of her small feet, the girl continued forward with a vacant stare. Come to me, a voice from deep within the farmhouse lulled. Her one-handed grip loosened, and she dropped the blood-soaked shears in the overgrown sweet grass surrounding the house.
The farmhouse loomed over the small girl as she approached the weathered front porch. The crisp white siding and green shutters dulled by years of wind, rain and sun. The wooden steps creaked as the child was drawn closer to the heavy Dutch door nestled between two worn rocking chairs. The girl let out an involuntary breath, reaching her hand for the cast iron latch. The door swung open at the brush of her fingertips, beckoning her to step inside.
The air in the entryway was thick, scratching the back of the young girl’s throat as she drew in a long breath. Leaving the door open behind her, the girl continued forward into the familiar space. Walking past the muddy work boots and holey plaid jackets strewn across the mudroom, involuntary goosebumps formed along the child’s lean arms. The long narrow hallway leading toward the back kitchen showed a glimpse of the joy that used to fill the family home. A new skipping rope lay on the floor beside a lumpy dog bed covered in stray hairs. A coffee mug full of bitter brown liquid, forgotten in a rush to start the day, was perched precariously on the windowsill. Smiling faces in family photos that hung stiffly on the walls were covered in a thin layer of dust. As the girl continued down the hall toward the kitchen, running the tips of her fingers along the dated paneled walls, she left a trail of blood-stained footprints across the tightly woven rug leading the way.
The kitchen stood desolate. The smell of freshly baked oatmeal cookies and peach pie replaced with an acrid musk, causing nausea to burn the back of the girl’s throat. A puddle of thick maroon seeped onto the floor of the kitchen galley from the other side of the pantry door. The child closed her eyes tightly as tears streamed down her face and terror flooded the back of her eyelids. Garden shears. Grandma humming to the record player. Blue veins crisscrossing under tissue paper skin. Blood. An incoherent scream. Grandma falling to the floor.
Now! A voice hissed in the little girl’s ear. She continued through the kitchen, passing the pantry where her grandmother lay silent. Good girl, the voice encouraged as the child moved towards the cellar stairs.
A white painted door hung stiffly in the back corner of the empty kitchen, yellowed by years of sitting in the harsh sun streaming through a narrow window. Come, the raspy voice lulled through the keyhole. The girl reached out her hand obediently, surrendering to the devilish croon luring her closer. The cold metal doorknob groaned as the girl’s delicate fingers grasped the knob and turned it slowly. The door’s hinges scraped together as a gush of damp air collided with a bead of sweat forming on the girl’s upper lip. She glanced down at the dainty lace of her dress, turning up at its edges where her family’s blood was beginning to dry, and took a step forward.
Light from the desolate kitchen cast heavy shadows over the young girl’s shoulders down to the landing. The splintered oak steps heaved under the child’s weight, sending a sharp echo through the cellar. Don’t be afraid, the dark voice whispered as the girl began to descend the steps. A tear grew in the corner of the child’s eye as her fingers grazed the tiny scratch marks that peppered the banister guiding her down the old stairs.
A mismatched rug handmade from old tea towels lay at the base of the cellarway and softened the cold hard floor. The girl reached out her small hand- searching- heart pounding in her ears. Lub-dub, lub-dub, lub-dub. A lone lightbulb, marked in the darkness by a single fraying string hanging down from the ceiling, dangled just out of her grasp. Lub-dub, lub-dub, lub-dub.
Pale yellow light from the filthy bulb cast long devilish shadows over the cement room. It’s almost over, the evil voice hummed into the girl’s ear. She walked forward in a trance, stepping along the cracks in the concrete floor. Lub-dub, lub-dub, lub-dub. An ominous figure stood stiffly in the shadows, hiding in the contours of the dimly lit room as it watched the child. The roar of the wood furnace pulled the girl’s gaze to the corner of the room where smoldering orange-yellow light spilled across the creature stalking her.
Fear bit at the back of her neck as the girl began stumbling backwards through the cellar, desperate to escape. No! The voice boomed, lurching forward towards the child as the lone lightbulb shattered to the floor. The young girl turned to run, frantic to reach the sunlight of the kitchen. Despite her desperate attempt, paralyzing pain coursed through her body as she stepped on shard of broken glass. Without a word, she fell to the ground powerless. Through strands of hair pasted to her face by hot tears and sweat, the girl saw the creature moving towards her. Lub-dub, lub-dub, lub-dub. And then, a scream.
At the top of steps, the painted wood door swung shut, swallowing the girl’s final plea. Dust bathed in the evening light swirled in the air from the open kitchen window as darkness settled over the cellar.