Strange Impulses

Sometimes, strange impulses struck her. Once, a man got on the subway and stood in front of her. She couldn’t see his face, but saw his suit, the details of his waistband. She was suddenly aware of his cock, exactly at her eye level. She was reading but became distraught.

When the train rocked and his body shuffled with it, she imagined that he was tantalizing her, daring her to reach out. No one would have noticed. She could have touched his thigh and moved her way up. She could have pressed her face against him.

If he met her eye her cheeks would have flushed red. Her body would have trembled. When she reached her stop, she didn’t know if she was relieved. The man moved aside to let her pass. He didn’t look at her.

Another time it was a man’s wrists, his muscled forearm and his fingers clasped around the subway pole. She imagined the hand and the arm and the fingers inside her. The fingers had the look of violence, a raw force in the bones of the knuckle, the tension of the wrist. She felt aching hotness between her legs. She glanced up and saw his face, a kind, meek face, with soft eyes. He did not look like a man who deserved those fingers, not a man who could use them.

She held these disjointed body parts, divorced limbs of men within her and carried them home. In bed, she pulled the covers over her head and breathed in the animal scent of her own body. She breathed fast and came in catastrophic spasms. 

You can read the rest of this story (and many more besides), download my story collection, Uncertain Hearts, here (& you’ll be entered for a chance to win a handmade, watercolor postcard from the West Coast!). 



Dearest readers, 

I’m so excited to announce the release of my first story collection: Uncertain Hearts. You can download it here as a pay-what-you-want eBook (that means that yes, you can read it for free!). 

It’s a collection of 16 short stories about longing and loss, lust and disappointment, melancholy and little moments of brightness. Some stories are brand-new & some stories are much (much!) improved versions of stories you may have seen & loved before.

It’s available in MOBI, EPUB and PDF formats—so you can read it on any smart phone/tablet/ebook reader device you’d like. 

The Tumblr Postcard Giveaway

To celebrate, I’m sending two lucky readers a handwritten, hand-drawn, watercolored postcard from somewhere on the West Coast. I’ll be traveling next week and I’d love for you to have a little piece of the journey. You’ll be automatically entered when you download the book. Please enter by midnight PST on April 7th, 2014.  

Thank you all SO MUCH for reading & supporting my writing. 



The Collector

She was a collector of secrets, but she had none of her own. She kept the secrets in a heavy mahogany chest in the attic. She liked to spend afternoons sitting cross legged before the chest, reading and reorganizing. There were illicit lovers and forbidden desires, wretched betrayals and bitter disappointment. There were names and names of places and memories that she could touch. She could lose herself for hours.

She liked the collecting, too, the actual work. She wandered through the city and sat on sidewalks and looked into windows. Sometimes the secrets came easily, fluttering out like butterflies through a break in the curtain. Sometimes they took work. Good morning, she would say, and a woman with sharp cheekbones would glance up quickly and say hello. She knew the question to ask with the right intonation, and she could read the secrets in the woman’s hesitation, the defensive edge of her tongue. The exchanges took no longer than a few minutes. Sometimes secrets came at odd moments, from the writings on bathroom walls. Sometimes the secrets were grand and horrific and sometimes they were gentle and precious. To her, the collector, it was all the same.

Her favorite kinds of secrets were the ones that came unexpected. Once, she clinked wine glasses with someone at a party, a man wearing heavy glasses with a weak laugh. When their glasses touched his secret ran through her hand, up her arm, and struck her like electricity. She gasped aloud. The man looked at her, his head tilted, concern tugging on his lips. Oh it’s nothing, she said, such lovely wine. Inside she felt as if she had won something precious.

She kept very good care of other people’s secrets. She combed through them to get rid of old secrets, secrets that had been spoken, secrets that faded into acceptance. She polished the ones that required attention with a soft cloth, and sharpened the secrets that remained burning. She took solace in the secrets that would forever remain untold.

"What’s your secret?" A man asked her once, on a date. He had curly golden hair and very straight teeth. Oh, she started to tell him that she didn’t have any, but then the weight of her chest dragged her down. She thought she didn’t have secrets but then maybe she had all of them, all of those secrets piled and folded and tucked in that heavy box.

She wondered what it would be like to have her own secret, something that was just hers. Would she store it in the chest, on the very top, in the left corner? Her secret would be folded and soft, she imagined, something small and adaptable. She supposed her collection might have been considered a secret, only it wasn’t, not really. It was simply there, growing, and waiting. She hoped one day that someone would point to the chest. “What do you have there?” He would ask, and she would smile wide, “Oh, all the secrets that no one else wanted to keep. Would you like to see?”


They meet on a Friday afternoon outside the museum. They’ve forgotten that it is the most crowded time. They wait in line. It starts to rain, sprinkles from a light gray sky. Behind them, a family from Spain talks rapidly. In front of them is a tall, silent woman in black. She admires the woman’s coat and he nods. They do not talk much.

Inside, they go up to the third floor, to the painting. They stood in that same spot two years ago. Then they held hands and laughed easily. He leaned down to whisper in her ear and she shook her head in false irritation.

It’s my favorite painting, she told him. Later that night, in his dark room, she tried to explain again why. Perhaps in that delicate, serious intimacy after sex she could get him to understand. He nodded and murmured agreement, but slipped into sleep quickly. She closed her eyes and settled her head close to him.

Then she could forgive him for not trying to understand, and he could find it endearing, how fervently she loved a painting that was just circles and dots on a white background. I don’t have an artist’s eye, he said.

She sketched his portrait on a page from her journal and gave it to him, and he was startled not by her skill but by some quality she captured that he himself could not have defined. She took off her clothes and stood before him and handed her the journal. Now you try, she said.

He did, and the body he loved, the curves and balances, turned into something childish and ugly in his hands. She laughed for a long time when she finally saw it. It’s a masterpiece, she said, I’m keeping it forever. Thank you.

It was not surprising that it ended, but it is surprising that they ended up here, again. He isn’t sure why she agreed to come, isn’t sure why he asked to begin with. He does not imagine that there will be a reunion. Perhaps he is hoping to really see, this time. Or maybe he wants to see the inevitability of their failure, in that he cannot ever see what she sees.

The dots, she says. He looks at her. Her eyes are focused on the canvas. Can you see the path they follow?

He looks. The dots are scattered haphazardly around the circles, multicolored and playfully bright. He can’t see a pattern.

You just have to look the right way. And then it’ll be there, and when you see it you can’t unsee it. It like an optical illusion.

The painting doesn’t change, no matter how hard he looks. It seems as ridiculous as the first time. Only this time he feels a sting of disappointment, that he can’t even pretend.

We should go, he says.

They go to a cafe. He watches her stir her coffee, slowly, deliberately. She tells him about the man she met, a Swedish pilot. He said he’ll take me on his plane one day, she says, and what about you, are you seeing anyone?

He shakes his head. Oh, he’s had his flings, as usual. Short romances, unanswered texts.

She leans forward and looks at him, an old, teasing light in her eyes. Oh, the poor, unlucky dears. The Swedish pilot is a nice change, she says, he asks and listens and touches with delight. He doesn’t tire of me.

Suddenly he feels very tired, tired of how easily she slips into her old role, how easily he recognizes her version of himself, how much he resents her for it. He tries to make a joke of it, but the air between them is brittle, charged.

Do you miss me? She says.

He imagines her sometimes as she was, draped across his couch, barely clothed, eyes closed and the window wide open, the breeze on her skin. He imagines kissing his way down from her throat. Other times he remembers the ways she ripped him apart, her taunting laugh, how much pleasure he felt watching her face shatter, watching her cry.

Yes, he says.

They go back to her apartment. Its familiarity fills him with a kind of dread. He tells himself that he wants this. Her moans, her fingers digging into his back. It is so easy, all of it, how she settles against him, how he can kiss the top of her head, the back of her hand. He doesn’t want to linger. But it is she who gets up first. She ties up her hair before the bathroom mirror.

Goodbye, she says, at the door. He looks at her, and she looks back, her eyes calm.

Bye, he says. He feels a heaviness in his throat that sinks into his stomach. He watches her shut the door. The rain is heavy outside.

The Doll

I’ve always liked stories about creepy dolls. Thought it was time for an update. 

The doll was very old. Her skin was yellow and falling into pieces. Her eyes were muddled. She had been waiting for many years, and still she waited. She was patient. She had nothing but time, nothing but eternality in the darkness and silence around her.

Once, a little girl had carried her everywhere. Her hair was golden and curled and her eyes so brilliant and blue. Her painted lips were coquettish. They said the little girl looked just like her doll, and they admired the two together. There was an old family portrait somewhere, the doll on the little girl’s knees, the little girl’s proud, tall parents behind them.

Then the accident came. The little girl with her eyes sewn shut. The red blisters all over her body. Her meek, terrible cries, like a lamb without a mother, her voice that disappeared little by little, her fingers that could no longer curl around the doll. Her skin was so pale it looked like it would burst at the touch. Her breathing was shallow and her mother and father cried next to the iron hospital bed. The doll was demoted, locked away in a heavy chest. The doll cried, too, with her open eyes.

She hadn’t meant to do it.


cantbetoohood asked:

god damn.. invisible bodies is so fucking sad!! but i loved it. i really really loved it


thank you! xx

Winter Song

December was the loneliest month
Her plastic tree wilted in a cardboard box
A dusty coffin for a dead moth

The waiter’s eyes so eager and warm
He took her hand and later unzipped
The desperate need between her legs

He said, your walls are bare
Her mother called her plain at sixteen
She never forgot the sting

You look well, her mother said
Her father was dying in a hospital gown
He called the nurses his children’s names

Once he gave her a fountain pen
How he laughed, how his belly shook
As he watched her spill the ink

I can read your history in the leaves of tea
Said a fortune teller with golden teeth
Soon it would be spring. 


We tiled the floor of our bedroom with a map of the world, and every night we kissed in a new country. In the bookshelf above Antarctica we displayed our collection of crystals from Peru, Chile and Guatemala. We dreamed with our heads over Europe, and we felt the heat of Morroco beneath us as we fucked. The language we spoke depended on the day of the week. French on Fridays and Spanish for Thursday afternoons. Some Sundays we didn’t speak at all. We lost ourselves in dreams of somewhere even further away.

Outside the world went on without us. Someone’s sister got married, barefoot by an aqua colored sea. Someone published her novel, glowing as she signed her first copy. Someone broke his heart, and someone else sewed the pieces back together. My mother’s voice grew frail. His father’s heart was failing. Clocks ticked on hospital walls.

Inside we were safe. Our bags were packed. Our souls were wandering. We had our memories. The suffocating heat in a Vietnam summer. The Alaskan ice that bit through the gloves to our fingertips. We had the stories of our journeys. We had the road before us.

One year we forgot to celebrate our birthdays. Our library was full of authors with names no one could pronounce. Our silences felt more like home than the languages from our tongues. The empty spaces, the oceans on our map were where we belonged. We sat cross-legged on the Atlantic and the Pacific. With our eyes closed we could taste the salty air. His caress came from the calloused hands of a mariner. Mine was the kiss of a siren from the sea. Every night we watched the sunset from an imaginary ship going nowhere.

One night the storm came. The lightning struck. The wood splintered. The salt water filled our mouths. One night we finally spoke the right language. The language of hate. The language of despair. One night I bit his lip and blood came out. One night he left bruises that sank deep into my arms.

One day we sold the apartment and left the world behind. We joined the other world. The world of the dead, but maybe it was really the world of the living. We were alive, breathing, books folded on our laps, on a train that took us nowhere extraordinary.


This blog is four years old today! Thank you all for reading & following. It means the world to me. ♥