Authors: Tiffany Lovering
2012 by Tiffany Lovering
This book is a work of fiction. The names, characters, places, and incidents are products of the writer’s imagination or have been used fictitiously and are not to be construed as real. Any resemblance to persons, living or dead, actual events, locales or organizations is entirely coincidental.
All rights are reserved. No part of this book may be used or reproduced in any manner whatsoever without written permission from the author.
Dedicated to the one who left without saying goodbye.
Without you, this book wouldn’t have been possible.
1. The Box
2. The Wall
3. City Woods
4. The Girl
5. Jace Patterson
6. Sweet Sara
9. Prep Work
12. Wonderful World of Willow
15. Sucked In
16. Letting Go
APTER 1: THE BOX
Hello again. I'm sitting underneath our trees as I always do when I write to you. I can't believe I started this journal for you over a year ago. I thought it would help stop the pain, yet I still find myself tripping over paintbrushes and canvases in search of that box hidden in the darkest corner of my apartment. That box holds every emotion I have ever felt. I promise, I'm trying more and more every day to open myself up to you. I know that you haven't come across my path just yet, but whenever we finally meet, I want you to know about my past and what I want in the future. I want you to know everything. I don't have anybody who really understands me, but you will. When you are finally in my life, I will hand this little book over to you and you will know more about me than anyone ever has. You will understand why I do certain things and hopefully the truth won't cause you to run away. More than anything, I want your acceptance.
I caught myself yesterday, over-analyzing words again. What certain words like, hate, love, happiness, anger all truly mean, not just what society has accepted them as. Like most people view “love” as an intense emotion where it's possible to get hurt by it but somehow it makes life worth living. I see “love” as an illusion in one's mind, completely controllable and although it would be nice to have, life is not unbearable without it. I'm usually quite good at this, but I got stuck on that one word like I always do, “crazy.” What does “crazy” really mean? I see it as a compliment but society sees it as an insult to one's mind.
The first time I was called “crazy,” I was thirteen. I had just chopped my hair and dyed it bright red. I saw it as a personal expression of who I am, an extension of my internal feelings; a little wacky but lots of fun. I was finally starting to accept who I was and what I was becoming. I was getting out of my mother's clenches and I was doing something I could be proud of, regardless of what anyone else thought. The kids at school thought I had lost my mind. Even my best friend stopped talking to me. My art teacher called me into her office and asked me what was going on. She thought I may have been angry or even suicidal. I laughed at her and casually walked out of her office. Even though that was ten years ago, I can definitely say that was the best day of my life.
Seeing peoples' reactions to what I had just done to just my appearance, really woke me up. All I did was change my hair, not my personality and no one could accept it, but I was okay with that. I was actually more than okay with that, I was happy. I saw that I was truly unique and with that epiphany, I flourished.
Every free second I had, I'd paint, write, sketch or do anything that would expand my horizon in the world of art. That's when I first stopped letting external things influence my work. I stopped watching television, stopped listening to music and stopped reading books that had nothing to do with art. I wanted what I was doing to be truly mine, and if I let outside things influence what I was doing, somehow it didn't feel like it was mine.
It was very hard to adapt to this new way of life at first. My mother didn't understand it at all. She'd throw a fit every time I'd come home from school and lock myself in my room. She thought I was doing drugs, snuffing to be exact. She thought I was purposely getting high off of the paint fumes. It didn't take long for us to really part ways. She was never the perfect mother, but when I secluded myself, she almost seemed to welcome it. I think we may have said a total of a hundred words to each other up until the time I moved out at seventeen.
I have always thought I was complete in myself. I was wrong. Eventually, not having anyone to talk to, no one to care about, really made me quite sad. I wasn't about to change who I was or what I was doing, but I didn't want to be alone either. I still don't want to be alone. All I've wanted is for someone to understand. I realized that was never going to happen and that's when it first started . . . when I acquired the box.
I'm sorry. I'm letting too much out right now. I've gotta get out of here.
You are and forever will be my serenity.
When I finished writing, I closed the journal a little harder than necessary and shook my head with the realization of what I was about to reveal. The reality of what the box is has always repulsed me despite the comfort it brings. After brushing off the orange and yellow leaves that clung to my jeans, I walked out of the wooded area and proceeded down the main drag in New Jollie, New York. Haskell Street was always busy with tourists walking from one local shop to another. Most of those who visited were in search of some peace and relaxation and the art galleries and small shops that lined the town provided just that. New Jollie had certain features that attracted tourists from around the country. Some of the best blues clubs, the art gallery that featured only local artists, including myself, little shops filled with handmade trinkets. There wasn't a Big Box store for miles which made New Jollie truly a special place.
I never take the time to really look at the beauty of New Jollie anymore. It's getting more difficult to find. I guess when you live somewhere long enough it just seems like the negative aspects are more prevalent. Over the years New Jollie has become an extremely poor community with an abundance of homeless youths running the streets. There were at least five homeless shelters and soup kitchens in this tiny town that I tried to volunteer at whenever I could.
As I got closer to my apartment, my eyes fell upon a girl who was obviously once very beautiful, huddled in the corner of an alleyway. She was undoubtedly another street kid with her greasy hair and torn clothes, yet I was able to see the beauty within her. Both her eyes were blackened and she was shaking. I wondered what could have happened to her. I couldn't help but stare, she was so beautiful but she looked so lost. Her eyes were so blue, I could see them from where I stood, and they seemed to hold all the innocence of a child.
As I walked closer, the girl raised her saddened eyes and took notice of me. Suddenly, she shot up and ran around the corner before I could even call out to her. I tried to run after her but she was gone. It all happened so fast, I almost wondered if I had imagined her. As I pondered that idea for a moment, I heard something from above me. When I looked up I couldn't help but notice the intricate details of the architecture on the building that stood before me.
The arched windows had to be at least eight feet high, the first two floors boarded up because they had been broken. The stone steps that led to the door were all cracked and falling apart from no maintenance after several years of the harsh upstate New York winters. I knew the building used to be an apartment building for upper class citizens, but that's all I knew. I must have walked past the building a million times since I was a child, but I never really noticed just how beautiful it was until now. I wondered what it might look like inside. I wanted to go in but I knew I shouldn't. There was no way I could go in today, the cops liked to wander this area too much. Maybe sometime when I was down here at night I'd take the chance.
As I continued walking past the building toward my apartment the church bells started ringing. 1, 2, 3 . . . all the way to twelve then the noon whistle blew loudly. That was something you could always count on in New Jollie, the sound of church bells and the noon whistle. Sometimes if the tourists were lucky, just after noon Mrs. Schneider would be playing the church organ at St. Mary's Assumption, and today happened to be one of those days. The notes carried throughout the small town effortlessly. Those who have heard the small, blind woman play have said it's the most beautiful sound they've ever been blessed with hearing, and those who know her story says it's the closest to God they've ever felt.
As I walked toward St. Mary's, I could feel the sense of peace that was always around me when I was near Mrs. Schneider. As I opened the large church doors, I immediately turned to the organ. There she was, a tiny woman that appeared even smaller in front of the massive brass pipes of the organ. Her long white hair was pulled up in a loose bun at the top of her head. I sat in a pew in the back and watched Mrs. Schneider work her magic on the organ. As the final note of Glory to God resonated throughout the building, I wiped away a single tear from my eye. Mrs. Schneider's playing always brought out the most difficult emotions for me to face.
"Aren't you going to come up here and say hello Willow dear?" Mrs. Schneider called out.
"Yes, of course, I just . . . I didn't want to interrupt. How did you know I was here?” I walked up to the organ's platform and sat down next to Mrs. Schneider on the long wooden bench.
"You have a presence about you Willow. It would be difficult not to know you were in a room. So tell me, what brings you here today?"
"Nothing really I just realized it's been awhile since I've talked to you."
"Or to anyone."
"What?" I asked slightly surprised at her comment.
"I just mean, you lock yourself up in that apartment, keep the world out and you paint."
"I don't just paint," I mumbled, unable to defend myself in any other way.
"I'm sorry, Willow. I just don't want life to pass you by. You have such an amazing talent but that's not all there is."
"Mrs. Schneider, that’s really nice of you to say, but how do you know I have talent you can't. . . " I stopped speaking when I realized that what I was about to say was probably disrespectful, although honest.
what you create?"
"I'm sorry Mrs. Schneider, but how could you know if I have any talent if you can't see it for yourself?"
"Yes, it is true, I cannot see with my eyes, but I can see with my heart. When you lose your eyesight, other senses become much more perceptive to your surroundings. Sometimes, when you visit, no matter how upbeat you may sound, I know that you are exhausted from working on your most recent project. When I am near you, I can feel the intensity running through your veins. You spend day after day creating, I don't know anyone that dedicates as much time and emotion into anything they do. With those attributes, I do not believe that it's possible to create anything less than beautiful."
I didn't know what to say. I shifted uncomfortably in my seat. I hated when I was the topic of conversation. The truth of the matter was that I never knew for sure that anything I created was beautiful. It was either a work in progress or finally complete. There was no denying that I put in a lot of time and emotion into every one of my paintings, poems and sculptures but even so, I never got attached to any of my work. I never had a favorite so I was never upset when it was time to for it to be sold or put away in storage. I wasn't sure that time and emotion was enough to label something as beautiful.
"So tell me Willow, what made you come to me today?"
"I told you. I just heard you playing and well I knew that it's been awhile since we've spent time together."