Follow Me Through

Oh baby, I’ve proven
A thousand times over
That I am not movin’
When you push me away
I know that you’re scared, now
To enter the ruins
So, I’m reachin’ my hand out
Baby, I’ll lead the way

And I’ll bare the battle scars
As I fight like hell to save your heart

‘Cause babydoll, I love you the most
The menagerie of wicked animals
Inside your cryptic brain, so enchanting and strange
I want it all
Will you follow me through?

They’re lighting the torches
They know that we’re coming
But I’ve got my sword
And I’m ready to swing
The ivy vines tangled
Grid iron gate’s stable
But, I’m young and I’m able
Stay close behind me

And if the demons have a cost
That’s fine, I’ve got a heart of gold to pawn

CHORUS

And no, I won’t let you down easy
Because I won’t let you down at all
My love for you is amaranthine
My precious hands are yours to hold

Cause babydoll, I love you the most
And it’s killin’ me to see you skin and bones
Call olly oxen free, I’ll tear right through the trees
And bring you home
Will you…?

CHORUS

Copyright © Shonna Rae Bell 2017

In the time it took for me to get used to
You being around
You were already changing your mind
Just when I was allowing myself
To trust you
Again
You told me you were leaving
You filled my head with somedays
And plans of starting a farm
When the time is right for you
But you never asked me
You never asked me
Where I stood
And you would never meet my eyes
You would just touch me
And pull my hair
And breathe I love you’s into my neck
And I fell for it every fucking time
Because when I say those words
I mean them
When I say those words
They are solid and they are true and they are real
But you were caught up in a moment
With having a body to hold and a voice
To tell you that you were adored
I was there to fill the bored and empty minutes
That you lived in until you went
Looking for something better
And you never asked me
Where I stood
Because you knew that I was always in arms reach
You never even looked up to see
That every time your hands were
Sliding underneath my shirt
I was trying not to scream

Copyright © Shonna Rae Bell 2017

We’re tangled together in the bed that is temporarily mine. Your eyes are closed, my fingers are dancing through your hair in uneven lines. Our noses brush together every so often, making sure the other is still there. I can’t stop looking at your perfect and peaceful face, trying to memorize the way you look this close up. Then your brows furrow slightly, and suddenly your eyes are looking directly into mine for only a moment. You lean in closer, nuzzling your head into my chest.

“Stop staring at me, freak.”

I smile, plant a kiss on your forehead and feel your arms tighten around me. Then your mouth is on mine, your hand travels from my waist to my head and you’re pulling my hair hungrily. I can’t get close enough to you. Minutes feel like seconds and I want everything to slow down except for us.

Our mouths part. Your eyes are smiling even though they’re closed. I kiss your cheek and you bury your face into my neck, take one long inhale, and hold it in.

“I’m done. It’s over. I’m just gonna die right here.”

I land machine gun kisses all down your face. “Don’t do it,” I whisper. The air is still sitting in your lungs when my lips find yours and slide against them slowly.

A long, drawn out exhale. Then stillness.

“Saved ya,” I whisper with my lips pressed against the top of your head.
“She brought me back,” you mumble into my neck.

Our time is running out. The end is coming for us and we both know it. Yet, here we are, limbs wrapped around each other. Rapid breaths and shy smiles. My mouth on your neck and my eyes afraid to close, afraid to miss a single moment with you.

When the man you love is leaving, love him anyway. Steal every single second with him that you can. Be present and be with him and absorb what it feels like into your soul. Nothing else matters – nothing before and nothing after. Life is only a series of moments strung together with either anticipation or worry and it can all be over in an instant. So if you love him, love him. And if he’s leaving, let him. Either way, you win. You had him, you held him, you kissed him, you enjoyed him, and nothing that happens later can take that away.

If I’m being honest, we could have both died in that moment and I wouldn’t have a single thing to complain about.

twenty-nine.

On days like today, when the air is hot and thick and unmovable and the monsters inside my head are being fed by the voices of those around me, I think about what it would be like if I was gone. Absent. Vanished. Plucked from the fabric of this world and sent somewhere else. Would anyone look up? Would I have made anything better by being here? Would anyone feel any great loss? Or would the world just keep on spinning, everyone distracted by their own lives and the universes that they hold in the palm of their hands?

Don’t you selfishly feel the need to touch people and to know you’ve left a piece of yourself with them? Like you were two separate colors before, but a bit of you bled into them and now they’ll never quite be the same shade. We all crave that, the feeling that we matter, to some degree. Whether it be to one person or to a million people, we all have a hole inside of us that we need to fill. We all want to feel like we’ve left a lasting impression in some form. To look around at your life and the people in it and feel completely and utterly insignificant is quite possibly the greatest torture of all.

I am often stricken with the feeling that I have nowhere to go. That there’s nowhere to run. There’s no place to escape to. There is no one out there that would cross heaven and earth for me. I would be ready to lie down and die for the people that I love in an instant, because I often feel that the air inside my lungs would be of better use in someone else’s. But I wonder about the roles being reversed and if there would be any hesitation, a moment of second-guessing whether or not it would be worth it to keep me breathing for just a little bit longer instead of themselves, and that thought keeps me up at night. I’m not saying I want everyone I love to be willing to die for me, but I would like for one person to love me that much. Just one.

I suppose I’m just feeling like I’m not doing enough. I’m not giving enough. I’m not laughing enough. I’m not sharing enough. I’m not dancing enough. I’m not reading enough. I’m not inspiring enough. I’m not exploring enough. I’m not creating enough. I’m not contributing anything to anyone and if I were to disappear, it wouldn’t be a loss that anyone would really feel. It might even be a relief. And what do you do with that?

I am in the desert. There isn’t a soul around. I’m standing in the middle of a crossroads, four marked paths stretching to the ends of the earth. Which way do I go? Straight? Left? Backwards? Or should I just step off the road and run into the nothingness, dodging the unforgiving needles of the cactus plants while trying to outpace the coyotes? Does it matter? Does anything matter so long as you just keep moving?

ephemeral.

I want to live each day like I’m
stealing it from death.
Instead of bobbing my head to
the sounds of being alive,
I want to thrash and scream with
wild abandon
to the feeling of being here
with you
right now.
What’s the benefit of
sitting pretty and
keeping it together?
I want to be consumed with
the knowledge that this
will all be over
very soon.

Copyright © Shonna Rae Bell 2016

twenty-eight.

I was standing on the porch when I felt you move from beside me, straight out into the pouring rain. You got about 10 feet away, threw your arms out around you, and looked back at me – wet hair covering your eyes and a smile that I was just getting to know. My heart felt like it was beating with the rhythm of the rainfall, quick and uneven. I ran after you. We danced and screamed at the sky for what felt like hours and minutes at the same time. Thunder crashed and I fell to the ground, my back on the wet grass, letting the earth swallow me whole. You were laughing and saying something to me, but I was watching the water drip from your hair to your mouth and wondering where you came from. You reached for my hand and pulled me up to you, mumbling something about lightening. I followed you inside.

The cold hit me so hard I almost ran back out into the rain, but you had already scurried off to a room I’d never seen and left me dripping wet in your doorway. I felt awkward as I stood there shivering, wondering if I should stay put or try to follow your footprints to wherever you went. But you returned, a ball of fabric in your hands, hair pushed back from your still-boyish face. Your voice was soft and off-balance and you wouldn’t meet my eyes.

“Here’s some clothes. The bathroom’s down the hall on the left.”

Purple sweatpants and a light green community baseball league t-shirt. Red socks. I didn’t even bother looking in the mirror. I pulled my hair into a bun, left my clothes in the sink, and followed the noise to the kitchen. You didn’t notice me right away, so I watched as  you moved around the tiny room. Gray sweatpants. White t-shirt. Black socks. One of your sleeves was pulled up to your shoulder and I remember watching your muscles move as you poured two drinks. Your hair was still dripping water down your neck.

I cleared my throat as I crossed into the room and you looked over at me, your eyes starting at my feet and making their way to mine before you smirked.

“You look great.” Your voice was huskier than before. “Do you like whiskey?”

I told you I had a rule against drinking with people who own purple sweatpants and you said you didn’t own any, that these were your sister’s clothes. I asked your sister’s name and you hesitated just a beat too long. Caught. I took the whiskey, anyway.

We sat on a blanket on the floor in the living room and played “Go Fish” while we talked about James Taylor and how you broke your arm at a skating rink when you were seven. And I told you about the time the ice cream lady was giving away free kittens so I took one home and was banished from the ice cream truck for the rest of the summer. We played “Slap Jack” and you made fun of me for slapping the deck every time, regardless of what card was on top. I told you to stop being a sore loser.

It felt like there were bats flying around in my chest – an excited nervousness that I forgot existed and wasn’t quite expecting. I felt a small thrill every time our hands touched or our eyes met. Like we were 16 years old, flirting at a friend’s birthday party. But then the cards got boring, as they do, and we just sort of sat there in a silence that wouldn’t have been uncomfortable if we knew each other better. But silences are always filled with an unforgiving pressure when you’re getting to know someone, and realizing you’re at a loss for words incites a type of panic. Our eyes danced around each others. You kept pulling at the bracelet around your wrist. I pulled my legs to my chest and rested my head on my knee, eyes still cast in your direction, waiting for you to say something. Anything.

Finally, you grabbed your phone and I reveled in the way the screen lit up the imperfections of your face but somehow made you look even better. I figured you were texting someone, momentarily bored with the lull in our evening, so I stood up to take my glass to the kitchen. Instantly, I felt the whiskey in my face. And I heard it. That song I was telling you about the night we met.

There I was, standing in an unfamiliar house wearing a stranger’s clothes and trying to will myself to stop swaying (Was I even swaying? I felt like I was swaying). And when I turned to look at you, you were just standing there. Looking at me. A dumb closed-mouth smile spread across your whiskey-flushed face. And that song was playing. And none of it made any sense. But then you moved closer to me, your hands tugging at that ugly green shirt I was wearing, pulling me closer. And you kissed me, nervously at first. Testing. Seeking permission. And then without restraint.

We kissed until I couldn’t remember what my body felt like without your arms around it, until we didn’t know how much time had passed. “When did the song stop playing?” You asked. I wrapped my arms around your shoulders and pressed my face to your neck, not wanting the moment to end. Your body felt so solid against mine.

I thought about how I almost told you no when you asked if I wanted to come with you to see your friend’s band earlier that day. The first time we met was so weird, and you were so cagey and hard to understand, and I wasn’t in the mood to meet anyone new. I had just moved back to town and you had shown up while I was away. And somehow we ended up alone on your friend’s kitchen floor and you asked me if there was a song I loved and hated at the same time, one that I would listen to even though I knew it would make me sad. I remember the feeling of your eyes on me. Expectant.

“‘She Belongs to Me’ by Bob Dylan.” I said, finally. You waited.

“Why?”

“The way he seems to be in awe of her, of the fact that she’s his. I’ve always wondered what it would be like to be seen that way.” I immediately felt silly and pulled myself up off the cold floor. “It’s stupid.”

You didn’t say anything. You just watched me walk out of the room.

And somehow that random moment at a party I didn’t even want to be at led to a thunderstorm, a deck of abandoned cards scattered across the floor, and a whiskey kiss with a boy that looked at me with purpose, like I’d disappear if his eyes left me for too long.

You truly never know when your life is going to change.

Yelchin.

anton2

We’ve lost a number of artists this year, and while each death has been sad and tragic in it’s own way, none of them have knocked me off balance quite like the death of Anton Yelchin. Typing that just now made my throat constrict and my eyes burn. And yeah, some people think it’s silly to mourn the death of a “celebrity” or an “artist” because we don’t know them personally. I beg to differ. Artists create art that impacts us in different ways. As an actor, Anton used every part of himself to create art. His body, his mind, his face, his voice… every part of him was art. You can’t enjoy his art without enjoying him. You can’t be impacted by his art without being impacted by him. And honestly, a big fuck you to anyone who tries to dictate how people grieve.

I was watching TV with my mom yesterday and the trailer for Anton’s new movie with Zooey Deschanel was on. I made a comment like “aww, lil Anton” and made a mental note to see the film because I enjoy everything he does, and my mom made a connection to his movie “Rudderless,” which she saw and loved. And we moved on. And then I woke up this morning to a text from a friend breaking the news and I feel kind of like I’ve been in a haze all day and I can’t really explain why. I wasn’t obsessed with him. I didn’t have his pictures plastered all over my wall. I didn’t have delusional dreams of marrying him. But he was an actor I respected and admired and I’ve always appreciated that he somehow always manages to make me cry when I’m watching him on screen.

There’s something so magnetic about him – so genuine and vulnerable and kind and it’s like, no matter what role he’s playing, his soul shines through it and you’re just drawn to him. He’s exactly one year older than me, and I think seeing someone your age creating things and being successful always inspires this sort of feeling of kinship. He seemed like someone I would have been friends with, and I always rooted for him. I always got excited when he had a new film coming out. And my heart physically hurts knowing that he won’t be making films as we get older. It fucking sucks.

The nature of his death is something that is so baffling to me I can’t even put it into words. A total freak accident. I read he was checking his mail? He was checking his fucking mail?!? And his car was faulty and he fucking died? Just like that?!? I’m so angry that something so….. stupid can happen, and then someone is just gone. I can’t wrap my head around it at all. It doesn’t make any sense. He wasn’t murdered, he wasn’t on drugs, he wasn’t doing something he shouldn’t have been doing. He was checking his fucking mail and now he’s dead. And that makes me question everything.

I don’t really know what else to say other than I’m sending all the love in my heart to his family and friends. Thank you for sharing yourself with us, Anton. Your work has brought so much to my life, I feel blessed in a way. You may not have known me, but you moved me, and I think that’s all we can hope for in life. To move people. To make people feel things. And you were so, so, so good at that.

RIP.