Comatose– Flash Fiction

Aida could feel the slow unhinging of her jaw and the ease that overcame her muscles as they slowly melted toward the soft cushion of warming sand at her back.

The rhythmic hum of the waves lapping gently nudged the thoughts of her day further and further from her conscious mind.

Called to respond, her eyes flapped open- struggling against the glaring orb directly above her in a fleeting and futile attempt to resist slipping into the numb embrace of relaxation- just as they always had and felt obligated to since she had started this work nearly twelve years ago.

With a deep sigh, the air wafted the familiar scent of warmth and fish and the soothing taste of salt to her body. 

Delivering the final numbing blow- her mind succumbed to the spiraling grip of sleep.

One last thought remained, echoing like a taunt: I wonder… could they feel the pain?

 

~Fioza Leigh

 

Photo by Mink Mingle on Unsplash

 

Flash Fiction– Revolutions

         Revolutions

 

          It was an unseasonably cold morning for May. Snow stood– frozen… suspended in time as long as the boy’s thoughts hung in his head. Both were cold to the touch but unable to be thawed away. The winter that eclipsed his heart had gone on for much longer than a season. How long exactly, he could no longer remember; he had kept count once in that journal– the one his mother gave him– but his father had not liked it and burned it as feed for the fire. Keepsakes from his mother made Atticus uncomfortable– they always had. The boy stared ahead, his pace halting ever so slightly before he drew a sharp, unnatural breath and shook his head from side to side as if willing the thoughts to fall from the walls that caged them.

          The sound of crunching sand and stone caused his heart to flutter even higher as he traversed to meet the curious gaze of the gruff man. The man whistled a command to his horses, willing them to bring the stagecoach to a halt.

         “Fixin’ to go somewhere?” the man asked, eyes searching the boy up and down. The boy only bit his lip and averted his eyes in response. A moment passed before he started shifting his weight nervously and sneaking glances in the direction he had come from. “I’ll tell ya what,” the man said “I could really use some help unloadin’ those boxes in the back once I get to the docks. Would ya mind lending me a hand?”

          The boy stared silently for a minute, meeting the man’s gaze with an intensity that caused a shiver to run down his spine. The man waited patiently, allowing him to weigh his options. One more sidelong glance down the road outstretched behind them and the boy hurriedly hid himself away in the back of the cart.

          “What’s yer name?” asked the man.

          “Don’t got one” responded the boy. “What’s yers?”

          “Gabriel” he replied, turning his head to meet the boy’s. Not knowing what else to do, he smiled and fought the tears from showing in his eyes.

          I like that name, thought the boy. He would adopt it as his own in the life that lied ahead. The stagecoach wheels began to turn, pushing the dirt and gravel further and further away with every revolution.

~Fioza Leigh

 

Photo by Ron Smith on Unsplash

Begin Again- Flash Fiction

         Begin Again 

 

          Stupid cat, thought Akila as she glared glossy eyed at the last thing her father’s hands had held. She had screamed at him that night… screamed at him for the thought that this plush, stuffed, fat, cotton thing could possibly fill the hole left by her other dad. How could he possibly think this inanimate toy could replace the role of his now ex-lover? 

 

He had to hate her for it. That was the reason she was alone now, right? Getting juggled between aunts and uncles and friends of other relatives who would debate if she would be more happiness or more burden if added to their day-to-day lives? Now she sat in her uncle’s house– her words echoing… ringing in her ears. Just like the slam of the door that followed that night– and the shot of the gun that would tear through her house and Eurin’s head the day after that. 

 

          I wish you weren’t my father, she had said. And just like that, he was no longer. He shut the door on her… and on Eurin. And now Eurin was dead and it all her fault. It’s all my fault… it’s all my fault… it’s all my… 

 

          Ding! Ding! The sound of the doorbell shot through her mind, cutting the images of what shot through her father’s from view. She sniffed, running to the mirror in a frantic effort to make her face appear like a more normal, less swollen version of itself but soon gave up. She swung the door open with her best attempt of a smile only to realize she was putting on a show for no one. 

 

Instead, covering the tauntingly cheerful welcome mat, sat a very plain and simple dark oak box the size of her hand. She leaned over and picked it up, examining it for a note or engraving– any clue to where it had come from– but found nothing. Frowning, she took one last glance up and shut the door behind her. 

 

She continued to turn the box over that night as she sat by her bedside, opening it and closing it but still finding nothing. Confused, she turned out the lights, lay in bed, and turned over. 

 

Immediately the thoughts came rushing back. 

 

          If I hadn’t said that papa wouldn’t be gone. 

          I didn’t mean what I said… I’m such a bitch… he was perfect and now he’s gone. 

          They’re both gone… it’s all my fault… 

          It’s all my fault… 

          … 

          It’s all my fault. 

 

A rumbling seized the house, rolling deep and low… threatening like a hungry beast. Akila sat up in her bed and looked out the window for lightning but found nothing. She tiptoed down the hall, looking to see if anything was out of place but again nothing. Uneasy, she crawled back into bed. 

 

          If I wasn’t such a horrible daughter, my dads would both be here and I could snuggle with them right now. 

          Maybe papa wouldn’t have hated himself if he hadn’t adopted me. 

 

A schism tore across the ceiling of Akila’s bedroom, revealing a deep indigo 

sky, dripping through the space like blood. 

 

How did this happen? Akila thought. What did I do to cause this? 

 

The far side of the bedroom collapsed in on itself, narrowly missing the bed where she sat. Debris and rubble fell, threatening to destroy everything in its path. Horrified, she ran. 

 

I destroy EVERYTHING! 

            Why in the world would my uncle want me? Now I’ve ruined his house! 

 

Another wall crumbled, leaving the front door standing alone. 

 

I don’t bring anything good to this world! 

 

The foundations shook. 

 

I hate myself! 

 

The ground broke loose from under her. 

 

This world would be better off without me in it! 

 

The rubble crumbled until there was nothing left. 

 

Just as she was about to hit the ground, she jolted awake. Sweat filled her sheets as she gasped hollow breaths to stop the quaking. The room, the house, the walls were all intact. And still on the floor next to the bed laid the small oaken box. 

 

Akila picked it up and turned it over once more. Nothing had changed, that is until she looked inside. In the space lied the dust of drywall, a container of Spackle, and a putty knife. She looked up at the ceiling and found a small crack had begun to form above her bed. Slowly, she climbed up, took out the putty knife and started to fix the damage she had done.  

 

Photo by Ksenya Drozd on Unsplash

~ Fioza Leigh

 

“She”

La mémoire se Fane she whispered… and then whispered she

This life is not mine and you are not me

Perhaps just a fraction… perhaps just a start

A small tiny fraction of what makes the whole heart

 

She did not like she but she adored she

She wondered what time she stopped being “me”

When she laid forfeit to this life of her own?

To be Eleanor Rigby every time she left home?

 

Hiding behind this mask she called she…

When, she wondered… will I become “me”–

 

~Fioza

 

 

 

Image

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Hardest Part

believe

… It’s truly the hardest climb, or at least for me it is…

 

Four years ago I started my first semester at college studying illustration and animation– and I truly was unstoppable. With a dream in my head and a fire in my soul I ran forward without hesitation, without doubt. I was young and dumb, which made me dangerous if you ask me.

You see, the longer I attended college… the more I heard of the stress, the difficulty, and the impossibility of becoming a storyteller or artist for a place like Pixar– the job of my dreams. In the beginning, I paid no heed. Sure it was going to be hard, I knew that. But I felt I had something that no other human being on this planet had– my own unique experience and therefore my own unique story to tell.

As the years went on… I gained a plethora of invaluable skills and knowledge. However, what I lost was, in my opinion, the most valuable thing of all– belief and confidence in my own goal… in myself.

I’m gaining it slowly but as I look at the long road ahead with my comic Shattered Mirror, I face my most challenging enemy… doubt. “Doubt kills more dreams than failure ever did”. It used to be my screen saver and perhaps it’s time I revisit that now (maybe that will pound the reality of this journey back into my brain).

So what I really wanted to say I suppose is this… never stop believing in yourself. If you’re out there and feeling like me… like you’re not good enough… your story isn’t interesting or original enough… or that the road is too long ahead and you’re too far behind… just keep moving forward with a fire in your heart. Live passionately and never let anyone squelch that flame.

Keep living the dream loves,

~fioza

Walking a thin line- my battle with PTSD

The title’s ridiculous to me. I mean… It’s normal for us to be our own worst critics in this life so I usually have a hard time loving my work, but PTSD? I thought that was only for men sent to war and scarring images that could never be unseen…

And yet, I can’t explain it any other way. I find myself waking up this morning not knowing if my partner in life will ever be my partner again. It’s something I’ve done, something in my personality. I expect too much. I appreciate too little. I’m as harsh on others as I am on myself and I’m incurably needing to be by the side of those who I love.

Last night as we talked things over trying to see where things went wrong he asked me…

 

“Why can you not be ok
without someone by your side?”

 

…A fair question. He’s not wrong. But it was a question that spiralled me into what I can only describe as a panic attack. He was right… everything he was saying was right.

I panicked because I knew where the issue started… It started five years ago when I left to attend Central Michigan University with my best friend. I didn’t know it at the time, or perhaps didn’t want to admit it… but she was also the love of my life– A fact I wasn’t willing to accept. To this day I have no idea if she felt the same way about me.

But it wasn’t just that whole cliched “living with your friend can drive you crazy and make you drift apart”. I wasn’t good at looking inward back then– I was a homophobic homosexual for crying out loud but I guess that’s a cliche too now isn’t it? It was more than that.

I have no idea how crazy this sounds to a fellow group of writers or if it’s something more normal than I realized… but the characters in my head are very real to me. I don’t make characters to write a story– it’s the other way around. My characters write me. Little pieces of me… a part of a whole but also separate and people of their own. It’s been that way for me since I can remember.

 

My characters write me

 

Jessie came to me when I was four years old and there were hundreds more to come. As a child, it didn’t seem weird to let my characters overcome me. To “let them come here” as I would say. But even by the time I was in elementary school I felt that if anyone knew about my fluid personality… of these other people I shared a life with… they would say there was something wrong with me. So I hid it. It was a game. That was how it was with my first best friend Kate and in that way, she was ok with it. She actually thought it was a lot of fun. But elementary left and junior high came and we grew further and further apart.

That was when I met her– Jennie. With the separation from my best friend, a new school, and most of all puberty I was feeling more down in the dumps than I had experienced before. The other kids would look at me weird. Why did I have black, boycut hair? Why was I wearing Tripp pants and all black? They saw my depression and stayed far away. But Jennie didn’t. She saw my sadness and came to help. With her friendship I could finally burn that suicide note that I had flipped over in my hands countless nights before… regain my confidence… and have a sense of safety.

But with any time I became comfortable, my characters were there. Begging to come out. They had been suppressed and ignored for over a year, and now they wanted that to end. It was painful… painful beyond belief to hide away and deny that larger part of myself, so I took a leap of faith and confessed to her everything about them… about me… how I was.

 

…and she stayed…

 

She stayed and I was free. Free from the chains I put on myself. For seven years I lived unashamedly, with purpose and pride in who I was. No more fear… no more doubt… just acceptance.

But times changed… high school neared its end and I began to worry again. How could I balance all of this when we both got married? How could I explain that I wanted so much alone time with Jennie? I only felt that I could be me around her… I couldn’t see myself ever telling anyone else.

I decided that on the day of graduation… they must go away… forever. If I was going to become an adult, I would have to start acting like one and stop playing pretend. I don’t know when it started but those logical years of getting older set in and there was no more magic in them to me. They were once again shameful… just a pitiful game of make believe that I created in order to comfort myself.

For a while… it worked. But within a month I couldn’t help myself anymore. They were there and without them I wasn’t myself. I slowly reintroduced them into my life and Jennie was as confused as I was– about what they were. About how things were going to work.

We got into a terrible fight in the middle of campus… and I broke down saying the only thing I thought I knew at that time. That they were fake. That my characters weren’t real and it had all been a lie. I didn’t understand myself at the time… and I was hoping she would tell me she believed that they were real… that they were a part of me… but she didn’t.

 

She told me to kill myself…
walked away… and never looked back.

 

I tried to talk to her… but she shut me out. All at once I was realizing my feelings for her… what it meant if I lost her… but it didn’t matter. She left our room… locked herself away in friends rooms down the hall… told people about my secrets and reported to the RA that I was suicidal. They forced me into counseling and put a note in my record that I would need to be watched.

After that… she moved schools… she talked to me once more to let me know that I had destroyed her life, was a terrible friend, and never once made her happy. Then she blocked my number and my social media accounts and went away to Western Michigan University. She went on to pursue her dreams and live a life happier without me… and I dropped out of University… enrolled in a community college and lived back at home where all my friends were gone away.

It took years to move on. To ever feel like I could trust someone again… I had nightmares every night. I would sleep on the bathroom floor because I would rub my eyes raw and throw up from the tension of sobbing. That went on for about half a year… but it felt like a lifetime.

I still have dreams about her every now and then… but they don’t affect me the same. I came to realize that during our time as friends… there was a lot that was screwed up about our relationship. I became much more grateful for those I still had who had stuck with me through it all and proved to be better friends than she had ever been.

But now… Five years later as Greg uttered that phrase to me, I realized that the mistrust… the hurt… the pain that that event caused in me is not over. I still battle with it every day… waking up in the middle of the night thinking he wont be there by my side… not trusting the words he says… not trusting when he says he’s happy… just not trusting.

 

I feel poisonous

 

I feel poisonous and I don’t know how to heal this hurt. I don’t know how to take back what I have done to the person most dear to me. I really can’t be ok without someone by my side… and I’m not ok with that.

 

Coming soon: Comic Pilot in the Making

In 2014 I travelled to the southern United States with inner-city youth from Detroit. Before that trip, I knew that racism and inequality of all kinds existed– but that experience opened my eyes to a whole new level that I had not been exposed to before.

During that trip, the concept for my graphic novel Shattered Mirror was born– a story of nonviolent living and fighting back against social inequality.

pilotPlotting

With my recent internship completed, I came to a realization that commercial art, while lucrative, is not what I need to do with my life. I want to feel my art… to raise my voice toward a higher cause and use what little influence I have to make the world around me a kinder place.

Join me as I launch Shattered Mirror!

To new beginnings!

~Fioza

The Bright Side

Akakios gagged at the stench of rotting flesh and feces that permeated his very being. He crawled desperately in an attempt to reach the food package at the other side of the cage…

…too late. His insides rumbled like a quake of the Earth. How many days, he wondered, had it been since he had fed? Since he had eaten? He flopped his wings heavily just once in an attempt to shake off the grime from the following week. Tomorrow would be bath day… he was almost sure of it. At least that was something to look forward to.

 

 

PenguinPrompt