It’s my birthday! As my birthday is progressing, I have decided I’m going to talk about that which is my favorite to talk about. I’m gonna tell you all about the love of my life. This is a section of my autobiography. It is the third volume, and the thirteenth book of the autobiography titled Reality of the Unreal Mind. This section is called The King’s Concubine. It’s about the times when me and my wife almost got together spanning from the last day of eighth grade til six years later, when we actually did connect. So today we talk about the near-misses of love. This is the tenth post in this series. I will be releasing them all day.
Now we’re talking about my day, and I live on a 48-hour schedule. So a new one of these will be coming out every two hours and 45 minutes from now until 2 in the morning on the 24th, when I go to sleep.
“The Mind of Mark” was insane. It was an attack against all child abusers. It was the first time a nine-year-old character took a life in my writing. And it was the most brutal, most horrifying thing I had ever written. It broke everything. Shut everyone down. No one knew what to say or what to think. Except her.
Writers Club was the very pinnacle of my Thursday. It was the entire reason to be at school that day, and this time I had a show stopper. This time I believed in my piece. Waiting for the end of the day was impossible. I took Ty aside during lunch and sat him down in a quiet place.
“What do ya got?” he said. “Pull it out. I want to hear it.”
“How do you know that-”
“Look, it is Thursday. You have a big piece that you are reading in Writers Club, and you are nervous. Get it out and read it and let me tell you that you are awesome so I can quiet your fears and go eat.” He looked at me and smiled.
I pulled it out, read it, and he shook his head. “That is going to destroy that room,” Ty said. “You have to read it, don’t chicken out. That needs to be heard.”
So the time comes and I am nervous. This piece is so brutal, and I am not even sure Mrs. Hegg wants me reading it at all, but I need to try.
That is when she walked in.
I was pacing the floor, people were talking to me, and I could barely hear them. Bekah walked into the room and laughed.
“Jesse Teller, I have been looking for you everywhere,” she said.
She was the only person in the room but not really. The guy she was with paled and looked a little frantic.
“Well, I am right here,” I said.
“Well, yes you are.”
I walked up to her and hugged her. I saw Brett standing with her and decided to break him. He was the most annoying person I knew and now he was with Bekah. That would not stand.
The bell rang and I sat. Rapped my ring on the desk and everyone fell silent. “Let’s pull it out and burn it down. Who is first?”
Aimes read a heartbreak that almost had me in tears when it was done.
Jammy read a piece about a man being buried alive and crawling out of his grave. It was dark and gritty and beautiful, and I loved every word. “Shellac it. Print it out, no, written by hand is better. Take that piece of paper, shellac it and hang it up on a wall. Any wall. My wall would be best, but we will see.”
I clapped and everyone clapped with me.
“Brett,” I said, turning to look at him. He looked scared. “You’re up. You have something, I am sure. Read it, I want to hear it.”
Well it was exactly what I thought it was. It was a dry piece of dirt. A bit of ash from a cigarette that gets caught in the throat and makes you hack until you can’t stand. I nodded. I clapped. Everyone did.
Then I pulled out “Mark.”
So the story is narrated by a man fully grown with a terrible secret and shaking hands. I didn’t get into who he was talking to. It didn’t matter. His story is a confession.
He had a group of friends. One girl from one family and twins from another. One of the twins was named Mark and he was their obvious leader. We find out by the end of this that the little girl killed herself when she was twelve by drinking cleaning products.
Mark and his brother are horribly abused by their father. The mother is gone and all they have is each other in the face of this terrible wrath. But Mark has a plan and he puts it into action one day. Behind the narrator’s house is a small stream, and Mark decides he wants to build a lean-to between two trees blocking the view of the stream from the narrator’s house.
The lean-to is huge and spans the entire yard. It is made of various branches, logs, and boards that they gather from around the neighborhood. One day after they have it built, Mark calls our narrator and the girl, and tells them to come over to the house.
He has knocked his father unconscious and they are all made to tie him up. They bind him with rope, twine, sheets, a belt or two. A tie. Everything they have around the house that can be wrapped around this guy is. Then they struggle for hours but get him in a red wagon.
They take him out behind the lean-to by covering him with a blanket while they transport him. When they get there, they lay him in the stream and every one of the kids holds him down. He drowns with the surface of the water an inch above his face.
Silence. No one knows what to say.
Then Bekah speaks.
See, she has not been overwhelmed by my darkness. She has not been stunned to silence. She can look at what I have written and know exactly what to say about it right then and right away.
“That was chilling. Amazing, but chilling.” She looks at Brett, who is staring at me with his mouth open. Artist hopes she is gauging the difference between what he has written and what Brett had. She looks up at Artist and says, “I didn’t know that children were capable of murder.”
No one can talk. They can’t believe she can talk, but she is unfazed.
Artist is near the point of tears now. He can hear a soul wailing in the back of his head. He can hear two. He looks at her and she smiles at him.
“You’re alright,” she said. “That was amazing. Don’t forget it.”
Then the room bursts into applause.
“You have paper,” Artist said to Bekah. “You’re in a writer’s group. Did you come to read?”
“Not this time.”
“Well next week then,” Artist said.
But she didn’t come the next week, or the week after that.
See Brett was not her boyfriend, but they were officially talking. He met her at her locker Thursday after class. “You shouldn’t go,” he said.
“Go where?” The idea is so ludicrous that she can’t see what he is talking about. She has been waiting all week for this. She has her piece picked out. She is ready to read in front of Jesse Teller.
“Writers Club needs to be my thing,” he said. “You have a lot of different things that you do in school. A lot of activities that you are in that have you very busy. I don’t have anything but Writers Club. I need my own thing to do that you are not a part of. I need to be able to get space and be apart from you in some ways. You can have band, and all of the other dozen things you do, but I want this. Writers Club is my thing. I don’t want you there.”
And she agreed. She was used to being kicked. Told what to do. He had wormed his way into her life to the point where she was listening to him. It felt wrong. She knew that her work was good. Better than his, but she walked away. Let him have Writers Club.
And once again, Jesse and Bekah missed their chance. Brett did not want her seeing me again. And though they were not dating and though she did not want to be with him, he had worked on her enough that she walked away.
It was not meant to be for a few more years. But you guys know that story.