Run-run, sleep-sleep, blah-blah, repeat!

Like I’ve said, I’m really getting into this running thing…again. It is really interesting to me how the little tweaks I can do to my form and nutrition can vastly affect my performance. I like messing with it. One important tip I can give is never, never go for a run after eating pork chops, tzatziki sauce, rice and salad with a balsamic vinegarette. I knew this before I did it but thought I had waited long enough. I didn’t. My run was filled with unpleasant gaseous escapes. Have a small snack and if you’re going on a long run, take some small snacks with you. Oh, and electrolyte replenishers. They really help.

I’ve been reading more on endurance races for helpful insights. I read about this ultramarathon in the United States called the Western States 100. The stats for this course are incredible.

The following is from their site: Western States 100.

Beginning in Squaw Valley, site of the 1960 Winter Olympic Games, the trail ascends from the valley floor (elevation 6,200 feet) to Emigrant Pass (elevation 8,750 feet), a climb of 2,550 vertical feet in the first 4½ miles. From the pass, following the original trails used by the gold and silver miners of the 1850’s, runners travel west, climbing another 15,540 feet and descending 22,970 feet before reaching Auburn, a small town in the heart of California’s historic gold country. Most of the trail passes through remote and rugged territory. People who are unfamiliar with the area should use caution when planning training runs, especially in the high country. Before leaving, let someone know where you will be running and when you will return. REMEMBER THAT MUCH OF THIS TERRITORY IS ACCESSIBLE ONLY BY FOOT, HORSE OR HELICOPTER.

After reading this, I was like, what? People do this? Yeah, they do this every year. In order to be deemed a finisher of the race, you must run this 100-mile course in under twenty-four hours. Wow!

Jim Walmsley set a new course record in 2018 with the time of 14:30:04. That’s 100 miles through that terrain in that time. Mind-blown!

Even more impressive is that the oldest finisher in 2018 was in the 70 years plus age group. Over 70 years old and completing the course in under 24 hours. Makes my marathon look like a nice afternoon jog.

If this sort of crazy interests you like it does me, you should read this book:

Ultramarathon Man: Confessions of an all-night runner.

If it doesn’t, no biggie. I’ll be posting another short story soon.

By the way, there is a statistics page for my site that lets me know how much traffic it’s getting, who is following and where I’m getting visitors from. Most of my visitors are from North America. But I always have this one visitor from Ireland and I was like, someone is reading my stuff from across the pond? Cool. So hello Ireland and hello North America. Have a great day.

Please remember to comment, like and share and of course, check out my published works on the right. Thank you.

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Running is fun…sort of.

This week’s mileage: 22 miles.

On Monday, I ran four miles. On Tuesday, I ran four miles. Then my knees hurt. Not good.

On Wednesday and Thursday, the running plan I’m on tells me that these are cross-training days. Typically, I’d do the Crossfit workout of the day on Wednesday and on Thursday, I’d do the 100’s. The 100’s is a series of workouts where I have to complete one hundred reps before moving on to the next exercise. So, one hundred push-ups, then one hundred air-squats and…you get the idea.

On Friday, I was scheduled to run four miles and I was nervous about it. I was worried about my knees. I thought it might have something to do with my form or my new shoes. You know, the ones I was loving just last week? Still, if my knees were hurting because of one of the above reasons, the problem was at least correctable. I just needed to figure out which one was causing the problem.

On the Friday, I put on my old shoes and ran four miles. No problems. Knees were fine.

On Saturday, I ran ten miles in my new shoes, concentrating a lot on my form and no knee problems. I’m very happy about that. Once again, my form needs more work. I’m should get resigned to the fact that my form will continually be a work in progress.

The ten-mile run was fun. Exhausting but fun. Now, on Sunday, my calves are really, really sore. Still having fun though. And I know at some point, all of these aches won’t be so pronounced. My body will have adapted because that’s what bodies do.

Now I just need to nail down my long run nutrition. That’s what I like about running. The activity is not solely based upon running. There are a lot of variables that need to be considered to have a successful race day.

Nine weeks until my Marathon and so far, I’m on schedule.

Side note: I got a lot of good feedback for Itsy Bitsy Betty. I have a lot of short stories that I couldn’t find homes for. If you wonderful people are interested, I could continue to post them from time to time. Let me know. And if you like my work, please browse through my published works on the right. If you have questions, please ask. Have an excellent day!

Itsy Bitsy Betty…the ending.

Here is the finale. Hope you all enjoyed. Click this link for the beginning of the story: Betty…the beginning.

Have a great day!

Itsy Bitsy Betty

I left my backpack and my books in the dirt and holding what was left of Betty in the palm of my hand I trudged home. My hand throbbed with every step. I could move my fingers and figured my hand wasn’t broken, just very, very battered. I couldn’t afford for it to be broken. I had work to do.

I went in through the back door and seeing my mom’s feet resting on the footstool in the living room, I tiptoed past her to my room. I didn’t want to be seen and the way it worked for my mom if I was out of her sight I was out of mind. She might remember to make dinner and she might not. She might drink herself into a coma and at that moment, I couldn’t give a crap if she did.

Closing the door to my room, I put Betty down on my dresser with care. I filled a shoebox with Kleenex, making it as fluffy and soft as a cloud. On this pillow I placed Betty. Then I laid on my bed, hands crossed over my stomach and staring at the ceiling I waited for night. I didn’t sleep. The sunlight changed on the ceiling, turning a brilliant orange before the silver light of the night moon shined on my wall. I waited until the sound of cars on the road ceased. When the house slept, my mother passed out on the couch and my dad nowhere to be found, I grabbed my knife and jammed it into my pocket and left through the back door.

I knew where Alex lived. In order to avoid him, one must know where the enemy lived. My feet slapped the sidewalk. The white tips of my shoes flashed in the moonlight. The night clung warm to me but I shivered. Quick electric pops raised the hairs on my arms. I didn’t see anyone on the long walk over.

Alex’s house was a single level bungalow. I circled it, peering in the windows and found him asleep with the covers off, mouth hanging open wearing white briefs that glowed in the night. Anger burned in my guts. I stepped to his window and cut the screen with my knife. I made a very big hole so all my friends could enter. They had followed behind me on the way here, knowing I would need them for the night’s dark work.

They crowded into his room, filling every space, the dark come alive and moving. They covered a Nirvana poster on the wall, the dressers, trophies, bedside lamp, a baseball glove on the floor, clothes, toys, Lego, everything crawled, a seething mass of darkness covering everything except for Alex. Stark white against the dark backdrop, he snored on, oblivious to my friends. He slept, content with his day’s work of murdering the only friend of a lonely boy. I visualized Betty reaching out to me as the fluids drooled out of her and my chest hitched. I choked down a sob and swallowed. Not the time for tears.

Standing outside the window, I said, “Alex! You piece of SHIT! Wake up!”

He turned his head and closed his mouth.

A little louder, I said, “Hey fucker! Open your stupid eyes!”

He jerked, surprised and with squinted tired eyes registered me outside his window. He sat up, and as he moved the spiders cleared a space around him, confusion a drawn line across his brow. He hadn’t noticed them.

“What the fuck? You didn’t get enough today? Get the fuck out of here you weirdo!”

“You killed her!”

“So?”

“So. Now I’m gonna kill you.”

“Oh yeah? How you gonna do that you little pansy.”

I don’t know how he didn’t notice the darkness of his room or his bed. The moonlight slanted across his bed in a rectangle of light. Only on his bed, there was no light. Maybe he was too focused on the strangeness of me being there in the night. I don’t know. When he did notice, a savage glee tingled in my body. Pointing into his room, I said, “My friends.”

When his eyes took in the living darkness around him, he curled into a seated ball on his bed pulling his knees into his chest, trying to be as small as possible. His eyes roved around the room, the floor, and every available space. Drool spilled out of his mouth. Around his lap, the spiders moved back from a growing puddle of urine on the bed. I laughed.

I said, “Cover him.”

As one, the spiders surged over Alex, covering every bit of skin. Alex pinched his nostrils and clamped his mouth closed. Within seconds the only part of him visible were his eyes, pinballing in his head. With every part of me, I hated him. All I had to do was say, take him and they would. They would fill his mouth, scurry into his nose and up into his brain. They would dig into his anus and fill his guts from the outside in. He would suffocate from the masses inside him. It would be so easy. I saw him shaking, absolutely terrified and I pitied him. And then the spell broke and my stomach surged and I spat bile over the grass. I couldn’t kill him. I shook with dumping adrenaline, shocked and sickened by how close I came. I spit the nasty taste out of my mouth, straightened and looked in at my petrified prisoner.

“After you killed my friend you told me not to hide from you anymore. Well, from now on, you better hide from me! I don’t want to see your stupid face. If I see it, I might remember how angry I am and send my friends on a night errand. You get me? You goddamn piece of shit. You listening?”

Afraid to move, he blinked tears at me.

“Stay the fuck away from me. Don’t look at me. Don’t be in the same hallway I am in at school. Do those things and I might let you live.”

He closed his eyes, afraid to look at me.

“C’mon, guys.” With that, the spiders crawled off Alex and marched out of the window to disappear in the grass. It took awhile. There were so many. When the room emptied, I stared at Alex, holding his knees to his chest on the bed, leaking eyes closed, the bed vibrating with his shaking body.

I said, “You fucker. You’re so lucky I’m not like you.”

I left him, crawled into my bed at home with the box Betty rested in beside my pillow. Goddamn. Even now, I still miss her.

Incredible huh? It wasn’t until puberty or a short time after that my friends somehow lost interest in me. Slowly and over time, I had no more visits through my window, no more rides around the racetrack and like all memories, they faded like a photo exposed to too much sunlight. The details became sketchy and things that used to be so clear now blurred. Sometimes, for brief moments, I even doubted it, thinking maybe I was just a lonely kid with no friends and so I had to invent some.

And then I would see Alex and he would flee from the room, making sure to keep his eyes glued to the ground, a big hulking lad terrified of little me. Even now, when I would see Alex at the Wal-Mart, he would push his half-full cart into an aisle and leave the store as though the devil were poking him in the ass with a pitchfork. It had to be real right?

It makes me sad to think whatever had been special about me disappeared with the onset of pubic hair. I wished I could’ve held onto the magic. Even if, as an adult, we’re not supposed to believe in it. I wish I could talk to someone about it. Funny, the only one who would believe me is terrified of me. My mom has cirrhosis of the liver and has been hospitalized. She might have believed me if she were drunk. My dad? I don’t know where he is right now. Probably with a new family in a new town, starting over. I guess writing it down will have to do. Too bad there weren’t iPhones back then. I could have recorded Betty and uploaded her to YouTube. She would be famous. I wish I had at least taken a picture of her. I’m glad I didn’t kill Alex. I have to admit though, even after all this time, I’m still mad at the fucker.

More Betty.

Hello peeps! Here is more of Betty. Be warned. There is some profanity. The start of the story can be found here…

The beginning of Itsy.

Links to my novels and short stories can be found on the right under Published Works.

Have an excellent day!

Itsy Bitsy Betty

In the warmer months, more spider friends visited me. Sliding through the slit I cut in the screen, wanting a turn on the track or just someplace warm to hang out in the night. I would find them everywhere. In my sock drawer, in the closet, on books, on my walls, on the ceiling, on my headboard and anywhere they felt comfortable. I liked it. I liked the company. These friends, like Betty, always had time for me. A couple of times, waking up in the night with a full bladder, I would find my entire bed covered with them. A mass of blackness all the way up to my chin, resting on me and my comforter. They would move in a synchronized fashion, opening up for me to get out so I could use the washroom and when I returned and snuggled under the covers, they would cover me again. Amazing, my little friends.

On the last day of school after the lockers were emptied and all the kids were sitting in the last class of the day with their knees jerking up and down anticipating the final bell to ring, they sensed the impending freedom. My math teacher lounged, with his feet up on the desk and hands behind his head studying the ceiling. I suspected him of sleeping with his eyes open as sometimes when in class and heads were bowed in silence over tests, a snore would rumble from the front of the room. The teacher’s gormless expression would be fixed on the ceiling, eyes open, chest slow to expand, like someone in a deep sleep.

Betty squirmed around in the bottom of my bag, sensing the budding excitement in the room. The bell rang and chairs scraped back. The teacher dropped his feet to the floor with his mouth open, bug-eyed and surprised. The students bunched up at the door, desperate to get out and taste summer freedom. The teacher managed to yell at the retreating backs, “Have a good summer kids!”

I was one of the last ones out, not big enough to force my way through but it didn’t matter. The school couldn’t hold me any longer. Well, at least for the next two months.

The straps of my backpack dug into my shoulder, heavy with books. I stumbled down the steps past lingering groups of friends making plans on what to do in the summer. My plans were already made. Avoid my mom, avoid Alex and hang out with Betty. I had a new contraption in mind for her to play on. Built up out of Lego, Erector sets, Hot Wheels tracks, I envisioned the Frankenstein monstrosity taking up a large part of my room. A theme park for my arachnid friends.

A trail had been worn in the dirt adjacent to the backyard fences of houses. I put my hand out letting it trail behind me as my fingers bounced along the surface of the different fences. Chain link to wooden slats to picket fences under my hand, I constructed the contraption for my friends I had planned in my mind. A path cutting through the houses broke up the fences and my hand danced over emptiness. I looked down the path. Alex Cobb leaned against the side of a house with his arms crossed not more than five feet from me. He grinned when he saw me.

“Oh look! If it isn’t Fairy Houdini. Think you could avoid me forever?”

I stared at him, my mouth a black hole, backing up on the dirt.

He darted forward and grabbed the strap of my backpack and yanked me forward, the toes of my feet skimming the ground, “No, no. You’re not going anywhere. Not till I’m finished with you.”

I bit into his hand. My teeth met under the skin and a salty warm liquid squirted my tongue. He screamed, letting me go. I kicked him in the balls but my foot hit his thigh first so most of the energy had been deflected. He dropped to his knees, face ballooning red. I ran, crying, feet jarring over the uneven ground, thinking it would be just my luck to twist my ankle and fall on my face. I imagined I looked a sight. A slight kid with an oversized backpack running through the grass, tears coating his face and blood on his chin.

Footsteps sounded behind me. Grunting breaths gained on me. I snorted back panic and refused to look back. I didn’t want to see how close he was. Then the ground up and punched me in the face and I rolled, the books in my backpack stabbing me in the back, knocking the wind from me. I thought of Betty in the backpack, being tossed around and my heart squeezed like a fist. More tears poured out of my eyes.

Out of breath, Alex stood above me and crushing my hand under his shoe, said, “Are you fucking crazy?” He paused to suck in air and said, “What’s the matter with you? Think you can bite me and kick me in the bits and get away with it?” He lifted his foot and before I could pull my hand back he slammed it down. I heard something crack. Moments later, the pain swelled from my knuckles like lightning under my skin and I screamed.

Dirt became mud in my mouth. Snot trailed out of my nose and my face was coated in dust and grime. Pretty sure some part of my hand was broken and still, all I really cared about was Betty, hoping she was safe, hoping she’d stay inside the bag if she were.

Alex squatted and pulled my head up by the hair and said, “Where the fuck you been hiding at school huh? Jacking off in the washroom? You do that yet ya little freak? Jack off? I bet you do. Probably got a bunch of gay magazines in your bag there to jerk off to whenever you get the urge. Is that what you’re doing fairy? Let’s have a look-see.”

He opened the flap to my bag. I squirmed, pushing up on my hand and it protested with pain and Alex chuckled and yanked on my hair, “Got some guts to you.” He moved his face closer, squinty eyes emanating anger and said, “Now don’t you fucking move.”

He slapped my face, a hard crack with an open hand.

“Got it?”

Slap.

“Don’t” slap, “fucking,” slap, “move.”

My face stung as though sunburned and I envisioned a handprint etched in red on my skin.

I nodded. What else could I have done?

He reached for the flap again and I prayed to a god I didn’t believe in that Betty would stay hidden. I closed my eyes, muttering under my breath, “Please, please, please…”

Alex tossed my school books, one by one, into the dirt still holding tight to my hair with one hand.

“Huh? Nothing in here. What the hell have you been doing-Ahhh!”

He released my hair and fell back on his butt. Betty scurried up his forearm, moving towards his shoulder. Alex waved his arm frantically, his eyes bugged out and his mouth a whitened thin slit. Betty flew into the air and landed on the dirt.

I scrambled over and placed my body over hers. A quick glimpse gave me the impression she was fine.

“What the fuck you doing? That’s a Black Widow!”

I tightened my body, expecting to be kicked in the ribs at any moment.

“Wait a minute. Why you protecting it?”

He nudged me in the side with the toe of his shoe and I flinched.

“Is that the thing you been hiding? What is it? Some sort of pet?”

He nudged me again, harder, “Answer me fuck-stick!”

I didn’t know what to say. If I said no, he’d call me a liar and do something to Betty and if I said yes, he’d call me a liar and do something to Betty. I kept my mouth shut and eyes closed hoping that when I opened my eyes the bogeyman would be gone.

Alex grabbed a fistful of my hair and pulled. My hairs strained at the roots. My whole scalp was on fire. He pulled me up by my hair, off of Betty. She sat in the dirt, little body quivering under the shadow of Alex.

“Holy shit. It is your pet! I’ve heard of tarantula pets but never a Black Widow!”

Alex stomped his foot down. Betty moved out of the way. I started swinging at Alex and I said, “Run Betty! Get out of here!”

She darted away, and Alex punched me in the gut and I crumpled to the ground, unable to breathe. Alex stomped after Betty, teeth gritted, eyes blazing. I couldn’t see her for all the dust being raised and for a second there, I thought she would get away and I would see her later in my room, crawling through the screen to sit on my shoulder while I flipped through a comic book and then Alex said, “Got ya!”

Tears flooded my eyes and even though I was still winded from the punch, I pulled myself over to my friend. Alex patted my head and said, “Losers don’t have pets. I just did you a favor. Next time, don’t fucking hide from me.”

He left but I didn’t care. I’d found Betty. She was a mess. Her deflated abdomen leaked fluids. Most of her legs were squashed flat to the ground. I couldn’t speak. My body trembled and my stomach heaved. Her front legs scratched at the ground as though she were trying to pull herself towards me. I remember saying, “Oh Betty. My friend.”

I stuck my hand just in front of her little head and moving forelegs. She touched my hand with her legs and through my blurring vision, she stopped moving. My chest shook with grief. All around me my spider friends came. They crawled on me, covered me and maybe in their alien way tried comforting me. When my red eyes had no fluids left I was filled with coldness. I was so angry I grew calm even though my body shook with the force of it. While in this cruel calm, I plotted the death of Alex Cobb.

Tiredness erodes form. Who knew?

Yesterday I finished my long run for the week. It was eight miles which is a little over twelve kilometers on a hot, hot day. Because it has been so hot, I try to do my running in the early morning. I couldn’t do that yesterday. My youngest had a baseball game at nine in the morning and I got off work at midnight and I like my sleep so I slept. I ran after the baseball game. In 28 degree weather (82 degrees Fahrenheit). It was hot.

Like in any activity, form matters. Some people believe running is just putting on some shoes and going. I thought that too. When I started running some time ago, I was a little heavier. I started to get pains in my shins and my knees. It was discouraging. I took up swimming laps to get rid of some of the weight so I could get back to running. I like swimming but I love running. So, I lost the weight and got back to running. Same pain cropped up. Finally, I did what I should have done at the start: I looked it up.

Running form is very, very important. Keep your hips forward, make sure your feet land under you and not ahead of you, try to land on the midsole, swing your arms forward and not side to side and don’t bounce, push forward. You want your head to stay as level as possible while going ahead. Lots of stuff to remember. I worked on them one at a time and away went the injuries. On a long run, keeping this form will prevent pain and keep you going.

For those of you who run outside, you’ll notice you perform better when the temperature is cooler. Performance suffers in great heat. I was aware of this and brought along enough water and two small energy snacks for the run. I put my headphones in, started my music and away I went.

Past the halfway point, the heat sucked the energy from me. My breathing was fine but my legs were not. I noticed I started to lean over, drop my hips and kept my arms still. No, no and no. For the rest of the run, I concentrated on my form. Even though I moved slower, I maintained the proper movement and consequently, was more efficient.

Still feeling good and having fun. On a side note, I bought a new pair of running shoes. I had been using the Newton which is a forefoot running shoe design. Now, I’m running in Hoka. They are ridiculously lightweight and so cushiony that it feels like I’m running on clouds. I can’t say enough good things about them.

With each run, I’m getting closer to the Marathon. I’m pretty dang excited!

So…random posts alert! Itsy Bitsy Betty continues!

Hello everyone and good day! I have been getting asked about when I’ll be posting more of my short story and all I can say is, I’m going to be random about it. I just can’t commit to an actual schedule at this point. But I am going to separate my running posts and story posts so you don’t have to scroll through any ramblings you don’t wish to read to get at what you actually want to read. If you get a chance, click on the links to my two novels published by Black Rose Writing. They are in the Published Works section on the right. They take you to my Goodreads page with all the reviews right there.

Below is the continuation of Itsy Bitsy Betty. The story started in the post titled “This is NOT a running blog…The Sequel!” From now on, I will let you know by title if it is a story post or a running ramblings post. Enjoy. Comment. Share. Or just chill.

Here we go!

IBB

Sunlight slanted into my room, heating up my face and demanding I wake up. Consciousness ebbed into me. Sweat dampened my forehead and my hair. I saw the red veins in my eyelids and picturing the spiders spinning around the track the night before drew a smile on my face. I sighed, stretched and blinked the fog away. When my eyes focused I found a visitor on my pillow. A Black Widow spider. Glossy black body with the scarlet blob on its back. Two inches from my nose, its legs twitched. I said, “Good morning.”

It bounced on its legs and then scurried away, running with great speed off my pillow, down the sheets, and onto the floor. I frowned. I hadn’t meant to scare it.

“Hey, don’t go.”

I climbed out of bed and searched the floor. I looked under my bed. Not there. Disappointed I moved to the washroom, my bladder demanding to be emptied and then I spotted it sitting on a race car. I laughed and said, “Give me a second. I’ll be right back.”

I opened my bedroom door and making sure no one stood in the hallway I rushed to use the washroom and returned to find the spider waiting for me.

I zipped it around the track and in a short time, more spiders crowded into my room, awaiting their turn. The Black Widow refused to get off the car to give others a turn until I admonished it by saying, “Hey. You gotta share,” and then it climbed off and stood off on its own, as though it were sulking.

I heard my mom moving about her bedroom and knew she’d come to check on me, wondering why I wasn’t eating breakfast in front of the TV so I had to stop. All the spiders crept out the window on soft feet. All except one. The Black Widow climbed back on a car after the other spiders left, bouncing on its legs.

“You like this game huh? I can’t do it now. I’ll play with you later.”

I went to the kitchen closing my door behind me. I passed by my parents’ room. My mom lay on the bed with a hand across her forehead and her eyes squeezed shut. The other side of the bed was empty. My dad hadn’t come home last night. It bothered me. I heard the word DIVORCE before. I knew it meant having two houses to live at. Sometimes one parent would get a new family and you would start to see less of them. I knew my parents weren’t happy with each other. But my dad always came home at night and had always been home on a Saturday. I remember being frightened by that empty bed.

Something crawled up my leg. I jumped and looked down. The Black Widow clung to my shin. I shot a glance at my mom. She groaned but didn’t look at me. I ninja-walked down the hallway, terrified she would see the spider and freak out. The spider crawled up my body and sat on my shoulder.

In the kitchen, I whispered to it to be more careful. It had to stay hidden from my parents. If it understood me, it gave no indication. I took a bowl of Fruit Loops over to the computer and after the dial-up router squealed and squelched I looked up Black Widow spiders on the Internet. The spider on my shoulder didn’t move. I studied it. Half an inch in length with the red hourglass spot on the abdomen. According to Wikipedia, the spider was female. Extremely poisonous, the venom could be fatal to the very young or the very old. If not fatal, a bite could be very painful before the poison exited the body. This factoid didn’t alarm me. I don’t know how, but I knew I had nothing to fear.  Now, if I was its mate, then, maybe I’d worry. Sometimes, the females ate their mate. Rare for the species, but still I frowned at the spider and said, “You shouldn’t eat your boyfriends.”

My mother screeched behind me, “Gross!”

I jumped and the spider scrambled down my chest and hid on my lap. Did she see it? Would she smack at it? Already feeling protective of the spider I put my hand over it, cupping my hand so as not to hurt it and my mother said, “How can you eat with that picture on the screen?”

I breathed out through my nose. Of course. The picture. On the screen, a close up of a Black Widow spider glared.

“I don’t know. They’re cool.”

“Ugh. Turn the screen off. They give me the creeps.”

“Okay.”

“You seen your dad this morning?”

“No.”

“Huh,” said my mom as she turned on the kettle. She shook out two aspirin and dry crunched them. Her morning ritual.

I escaped to my room, hiding my friend, hoping my mom wouldn’t turn around and see me with my hand over my lap. She didn’t. In my room, I set my friend down and she ran for the cars, scrambling on top of the red one. I leaned closer to her and said, “So. You’re a girl huh? I think I’ll call you Betty.” She clacked her legs on the car, a let’s get going type of anxiousness to her. From then on, we became inseparable.

I spent a lot of time over the next year avoiding my parents and I’m sad to say, I don’t think they noticed. They were too wrapped up in their own problems. Betty loved, I mean really loved that electric race track. She sprinted to it every morning, quivering with excitement. It made me smile to watch her fat abdomen jounce across the floor. I stayed up late most nights, reading comic books by angling them to capture the moonlight from my window and she would start walking back and forth across my chest, collecting the fabric of my shirt underneath her before she relaxed into it. The other spiders still came around for a visit and I would spin them around on the track and then they would leave. Betty never left me. Summer ended and school began.

Betty hid in my backpack and only poked her head out when I had lunch and hid out of sight of everyone in a little spot under overhanging evergreen boughs. I’d eat and she would rest on my knee and I would talk to her. I would tell her my fears. I thought my parents were going to get a DIVORCE. I told her why I thought my mom hated me and why my dad had no time for me. I also told her I wished my mom didn’t drink so much and wasn’t sad all the time. I hoped to one day become invisible and see how long it took for her to notice I was gone. Thinking about it now, I’m almost positive that Betty had no idea what I was talking about. But then, it didn’t matter. She stayed. She never left. She would even let me know when lunch break was over by crawling into my backpack even if I was in the middle of a sentence. How she knew the time, I have no idea.

When the colorful leaves littered the ground and the sky always seemed grey and a cold breeze somehow found a way to get inside my clothes and raise nubs all over my body, Betty stayed at home. Too cold for her. I worried mom would find her in my room and squish her. I pictured coming home to find a dark smear on my pillow and my mom with a glass of wine in her hand still recovering from the encounter with shaky hands. I couldn’t wait to get home after school to find her safe every day, crawling out of the garbage, out of my clothes or out from under my bed to greet me and zip up my body to perch on my shoulder.

I’d read they had a life span of two to three years. What if she were on the downslide? It could be we only have a few short months together and I would find her curled up in a ball, dead and lifeless. She could be dead the next day. I examined her to see if I could detect her age. No grey hairs or slowness of movement associated with oldness. Spry and energetic every day. That had to be a good sign. I decided to have fun with her while I still could.

She could do the most amazing things. Bored, I rolled a tennis ball across the floor so it’d hit the wall and come back. Betty’s head followed the ball on two trips and the third time I rolled it, she jumped in the air, landed on the ball and stayed on top of it as it rolled. Her little legs blurred as she balanced on top as it spun. It hit the wall, rebounded a bit and rolled back to me and still she managed to stay on top. I remember laughing and clapping my hands. Amazed and proud, as though I had something to do with it.

Snow fell, Christmas came. My dad slept on the couch and my mother no longer waited for lunch to consume her wine. I swear, with what she spent on booze she could have put me through college.

Summer break sure took its sweet time. I wanted the freedom to spend all my time with Betty, not worrying about my mom stumbling across her. With the warm weather, I brought her to school again yet still, hiding her stressed me out. Alex Cobb started getting curious about where I disappeared to on lunch. Some days I couldn’t go to my spot under the boughs as he’d tail me, sticking to the shadows and hiding behind crowds. He wasn’t very good at it. A big kid, dressed like a badass from a rap video, he definitely stuck out. I would catch him watching me, arms crossed with a scowl on his face, promising pain with his eyes. After school I would light out before Alex and run home, peering over my shoulder, fearing a big hand to appear and pull me to the ground. Other times, he waited for me outside, standing in a position where he could see the exits. I would either hide in the washroom, waiting until the halls were silent before I would get the courage to leave or find the spot where he hid for me and exit at the other end of the school. Some weeks, he would forget all about me. Those times filled me with hope, thinking maybe he found some other dude to pick on and then I would do something or say something or just look like I may be even happy and Alex’s attention would pivot to me.

The coldness between my parents didn’t thaw in the warmer months. My dad hardly ever came home and if he did, they ignored each other, my mother taking comfort from the wine and my dad? I don’t where he took comfort from. I spent the evening in my room, doing homework with Betty on my shoulder or spinning her around the track. Sometimes she would just sit on my hand while I read a comic book, turning the pages with her on my hand, clinging to it, looking relaxed and content.

More to come…randomly!

Itsy Bitsy Betty

Nothing new, just more of the story…enjoy!

Itsy Bitsy Betty

Later that night, after my mom sank into the couch with a bottle of wine on the table and a glass in hand, I snuck into my room. The moon brightened the sky and my dad still hadn’t come home. This must have been around the time he started thinking about leaving. A little seed planted in his head, being watered and fed by my mother’s continued deterioration. The TV droned nonsense and I closed my door on it.

I had an idea. I had an electric race car set. A black oval track with two lanes of metal rails running along it. Two race cars with metal pins fit into the rails and depressing the triggers on two handheld guns sent the cars zooming around the track. I had gotten bored within an hour of getting it and I relegated it to the space under my bed within a week. With my new friends on board, boredom wouldn’t occur.

I clipped the track together and wiped it clean of dust. I cleared the metal pins on the cars of debris and clicked the triggers, grinning at the free movement. I didn’t want anything to go wrong. I tested it out, got used to the controls, feeling out how much pressure to use for the speed I wanted. Although it could be fun to see, a car flying off the track didn’t fit in with my plans. Nodding, content with my preparations, I went over to my window and lifted up the glass pane all the way. Using my little red Swiss Army knife, I sliced an elbow line in the screen in the corner along the frame. You would have to really look for it to see it. I nodded at the slice and closed the blade on my knife. I moved over to my track, an excited tingle blossoming in my belly and I sat and waited.

At first, only two spiders trickled in the screen and trekked down the wall. I expected the four I had met earlier in the day but it seems the word had spread about me. Within a short time, a snake trail of moving spiders walked in the screen, down the wall and moved towards me across the floor. They moved in waves and encircled the track except for where I sat. Big, small, brown, black, a multitude of eyes and legs scrambled and jostled around me. I ate the sight with hungry eyes, smiling in delight. Two spiders jumped on each car. They craned their heads up at me, bouncing on their legs, like puppies expecting a treat, just as excited as me to try this out.

“Ready?”

They stilled, expectant. I guessed they were ready.

I depressed the triggers and they flew around the track, bodies flattening out as the speed pressed them onto the surface of the cars. I laughed and the circle of arachnids undulated with movement. I gave every one of them a turn. An hour blinked by without notice and I remember thinking I had never felt so good in a long time. Most of the time, I lived under an umbrella of disappointment, the product of my mother’s regret. I usually went to bed thinking of how I could be a better son and maybe my parents would be nice to each other again. All such thoughts vacated my mind with every spin around the track and when I finished being the ride master and the last of my friends climbed out my window, I climbed under the covers, teeth shining in the moonlight. The unsteady clop of my mother’s drunken feet traveled down the hall. I closed my eyes as the door opened. I heard her breathing and pictured her standing in the doorway with the hallway light silhouetting her. She didn’t come in. It felt like forever before I heard the door close again.

To be continued…