And I oop…

I accidentally went on a tangent this morning, starting with a thought about sex to past trauma and the toxicity of narcissists. So here, my thoughts.

I was feeling warm and fuzzy feelings this morning after being intimate with my partner last night, and I thought, “Wow, it’s great that I feel so good every time we have sex.” Then I realized that’s what it SHOULD be like.

It was an obligation, a chore, a necessity for peace regardless of what I wanted with my ex. And then there were the psychological gymnastics I had to perform to keep him happy. Even if I wanted sex, even if I physically got pleasure from it, there was this rift between us–he didn’t really care if I enjoyed it, he enjoyed the power he had over my body, the way it felt for him. That was all that mattered to him. I’m still haunted by the way he looked at me when he feigned affection while performing foreplay or anything that would bring only me pleasure. It hid the absolute boredom he was feeling.

The toxicity of narcissists leaves deep wounds. They’re black holes that will suck you in and twist you into service to their egos before you even knew what happened. All they need is a foot in the door–playing the part of what you want, saying the things you want to hear. Sometimes they’re indistinguishable to the untrained eye, and they rarely seek out victims with an intention of malignancy. They’re looking for you to validate the person they want to be because they are terrified of the person they might actually be.

The hallmark of a narcissist is the unwillingness to be introspective. They build a wall of projections against the subconscious knowledge of who they are, they exist in an internal reality of cognitive dissonance. They don’t begin as monsters though. Underneath that facade is someone broken or damaged, but instead of addressing that injury, they cover it up. Some convert that damage to a victim complex, luring in caring individuals to pity them and try to fix them. Others hide it behind vibrant plumage of wealth or beauty or perceived intellect, weaseling their way to positions of influence to lure in others with the promise of being just as rich or smart or beautiful as them (but you’ll never reach their splendor, they must remain on top).

Which brings me to what’s most surreal about narcissists. Their reactions to those who break their spell or reject their power. If you see through their facade, you can clearly see how broken they are underneath. This is how you know that on some level, they are self aware. When you reject them, they will project all the things they refuse to consciously acknowledge about themselves onto you. Because deep down, they know what they hate about themselves, but they can’t admit it. Instead, they hurl all those things at you, as though they are exorcising their own self-loathing, and for a time, they’ll feel vindicated because the problem was you, not them. They get to deny their damage for a little while longer, safe in knowing that it’s yours now. But it will always come back because it never left. It was only ever their own.


            He’s looking for a new car. Not really new per say, but the one he wanted to buy after graduating college and landing his first tech job. Honda S2000, a rare, sporty little convertible that he had test driven once and desired ever since.

Instead of his dream car, with his first weighty check in Kansas City he bought an Acura RSX Type-S in blue. A few years later, he drove back home to the west coast with all his meager bachelor belongings packed into it. It was the car he took me out to the movies in on our first date. I grew to recognize the deep thrum of that engine coming down the road, the downshift as he approached the driveway.

            We had our first kiss standing behind that car. Our third date, after dinner in the parking lot, before he went to his door, I grabbed his hand.

            “Sung, wait,” I said.

            He turned, unsure of what I was asking. I pulled myself closer to him and laid my hand on his cheek, staring into his eyes as he caught his breath, realizing the moment I had suddenly arranged.

            I leaned in for the kiss, my hand sliding from his warm, broad cheek to the back of his head, the thick black hair between my fingers. His arms wrapped around me, pulling me closer. He gave into the kiss, and for a moment, seemed to forget we were standing in a parking lot.

            As we parted, his cheeks glowed with a barely contained smile. “Thank you,” he breathed, as if I had taken a burden of responsibility off his shoulders and given him an affirmation that he desperately needed.

            The Acura is in his favorite shade of blue, and no other blues will do. After a dinner, both of us mildly drunk on cocktails and collapsed into a hotel lobby’s couch, we held hands and he examined my painted nails.

            “You should paint them blue, to match my car,” he suggested with an amused smile, his cheeks flushed with color. I laughed, but I later found a shade in my collection close to that deep cobalt blue with a light shimmer and painted my nails as he suggested.

            That beautiful blue Acura with all the labor and time and money he poured into making it what he wanted it to be was a portal to a better life for me. To building a relationship. To recovering from abuse. To escaping poverty. It took us to the places and experiences we shared, that loud, high-strung beast contained in a sleek blue shell. I loved the way the vibrations traveled through my core as he revved the engine.

I get sentimental about these things. The ritual of doing my make-up, my hair, dressing up, and slipping on high heels to see him, even if all we had planned was some takeout and watching Netflix on his couch. When I moved in and we settled into domesticity, I missed these things. I even miss his one-bedroom apartment where we first made love.

It isn’t that we lack love or peace, but the raging fires of passion have settled into the smoldering embers that warm a hearth. He bought me a Toyota RAV4 Hybrid, a practical car for commuting, for getting groceries, and for dirt roads to adventures he wouldn’t risk his beautiful blue Acura on. A practical car to load a car seat into and protect our future family.

And now, he thinks it’s time to get himself that dream car too. Maybe he’ll sell the Acura, it would be the practical choice. I want him to be happy, to get this car he’s dreamed of since college that he can now afford to buy. But selfishly, I don’t want him to sell the Acura. It hurts my heart to think of letting this thing go where we made so many memories. It’s only an object and the memories are in my head. We can make new memories in a new car, as we have in our home and our practical family car and everything else we’ve done. But perhaps, I fear letting go of the things that encapsulate these memories, because without something tangible to hold on to, something to anchor them too, they will fade into the aether of memory and I will never feel them again as I felt them when they were new.

The original version was written as an exercise for a non-fiction writing class. A little something between the concrete details of objects and the abstract of memories. I get sentimental over objects and the memories attached to them.

When I wrote this, Sung was debating purchasing the S2000 he wanted and found a seller in Alabama, of all places. We took a weekend trip down to Birmingham, checked out the car, and he decided to buy it. It was shipped home, and a few weeks later, we drove it home from the place it had been delivered. We still have the Acura! Sung still dithers on his choice to get the S2000, and if we sell one, it may actually be that one, once he fixes it up a bit more. Maybe dream cars aren’t all they’re cracked up to be.


When I fell in love
I looked at your stars
The year 1982
9 Fire in Feng Shui
I realized that you are like fire
You came into my heart
A slow burn, an ember
And throughout the four chambers
You grew to an inferno
You burned away all traces of those who came before
Those who haunted those rooms
Like cobwebs that hung in the rafters
I was renewed
I was free
And in the ashes of former loves
Only you remained

This poem was written for my partner. It was an idea I had held onto for awhile. Before him, I was carrying torches for a number of people but when I fell in love with him, I felt such a warmth in my heart and it was like a purifying process. None of the others mattered anymore, I was free from all those old ties to start fresh.

Life’s Jester

At seventeen, you called yourself "Life's Jester,"
Saying that you were "playing the part of the fool for the gods."
As though some archaic deities
would deign the mundanity of your life
worthy of their interest.
At fifteen, I was the fool.
Your delusions of grandeur
convinced me, in my naïve adoration,
that you spoke deep, irrevocable truths;
that you alone were a font of wisdom
I could never aspire to compare to.
I spent thirteen years under your spell,
my own wisdom suppressed,
denigrating myself to you,
never daring to eclipse you,
but if I ever did slip,
you were quick to subjugate me again
beneath your ego.
I never played the part of the fool for any gods.
I was only my own life’s jester.

Another poem for class, this one written as a response to one my ex wrote a long time ago.


              The farmer’s eldest son paused from his work to wipe the sweat from his brow and appreciate the rising hum of crickets in the mid-spring dusk. Another song was brought to his ears, however, carried on the wind from the woods across his family’s fields. It drew him to a golden-haired maiden, clad in white, who, against all better judgement, was entering that dangerous wilderness. And so, the young man pursued with the purest of intentions.

              As the maiden glided across the forest floor, her gown and hair fluttered behind her on a nonexistent breeze. The young man struggled to keep pace with her and pleaded with her to return to the safety of the hamlet, but the maiden only smiled and beckoned wordlessly to follow.

              A glowing bonfire invited them to a space filled with laughter and music. The young man only had eyes for the entrancing maiden and was oblivious to the strange beings celebrating around them. The maiden offered him a silvered chalice and without hesitation, he imbibed of the ambrosic wine she offered. Suddenly, the maiden was in his arms. They laughed and danced together and the night faded into a delirium of pleasure.

* * *

              “It is a boy, I am certain,” the wife confided in her husband.

              “A son,” her young husband breathed softly.

              She wore a gentle smile on her lips. “What shall we name him?”

              He laid his hand on the rounded rise of her belly. The child within stirred, pressing against his palm. “Ewen. For my brother.”

              “The one who disappeared?” the wife asked. Her husband nodded solemnly. “Very well, he shall be Ewen.”

* * *

              As the child was brought forth into the arms of the midwife, the exchange of baby boy to otherworldly girl was unseen to human eyes.

              The midwife laid the baby in the farm wife’s arms. “A healthy girl,” she declared.

              The mother put the baby to her breast and it quickly found the teat with practiced skill. “A… girl? I was certain it would be a boy,” she breathed. As she looked down at the child, the suckling baby’s eyes opened and looked into hers. The golden down on the baby’s head darkened to match the mother’s brown hair, her facial features changed ever so slightly, pointed ears became round, but the shimmer on her skin remained. The mother, though she watched, was oblivious to the shift. “A girl,” she cooed, now in love with her new child.

* * *

              “The child is strange,” the elder woman argued in a harsh whisper.

              “Mother!” gasped the younger woman. “She is my daughter and I will not hear this.”

              “This is the work of the fair-folk. Her skin—”

              “Enough!” the younger woman hissed.

              The child overheard this exchange and looked at her arm, shifting it so that her skin shimmered in the sunlight that came in through the window.

* * *

              “Cambria, use the poker to break up the logs, like I showed you,” the farm wife told her daughter as they hovered over the hearth. The mother’s belly was round with child again.

              The girl reached for the cast iron rod beside the fire. As she wrapped her hand around the metal, she shrieked in pain. The rod clattered to the floor. “Mama, it burns!” she cried, clutching her hand to her chest with tears rolling down her shimmery cheeks. Her flesh was as red and blistered as if the rod had been red-hot where she grasped it.

              The mother squatted on the floor to test the rod with her finger tips. It was cold.

* * *

              The other children would not play with the eldest daughter of the farmer. Whispers of the meddling of fairies passed between neighbors and filtered down to their children. Eventually, not even the girl’s siblings would play with her. At the edge of the family’s fields she found new playmates. When the girl’s family heard her speaking to her new friends, which they could not see, she was punished severely. She stopped speaking to her friends in the forest afterward.

* * *

              At the age of fifteen, the girl ceased to grow. The family did not notice, at first, but as the years passed her younger sisters grew taller and their comely figures took shape. When suitors came to call, the eldest daughter was passed over.

* * *

              At the age of twenty-five, the eldest daughter finally grew a single inch in height. Her hips rounded, her bosom began to blossom. Then, her growth ceased again. The girl’s once-adoring parents instead grew suspicious.

* * *

              The girl abandoned her home in the dead of night. Knowing she would find no peace with other people, she wandered. A disused hunter’s cabin in the foothills outside of the hamlet became her home. Her old friends returned and taught her many of their secrets. The girl learned to cultivate plants with special properties and brew potions from her friends. They taught her tricks and charms and illusions. With this knowledge, the girl survived. Time did not touch her, though decades passed.

* * *

              The young man awoke on the forest floor. There was no sign of the bonfire or the maiden or her strange companions. He began his shameful walk home but he found his surroundings both familiar and unfamiliar. Trees seemed larger than he recalled. As he came to the edge of the forest, the sloping farmland was familiar as the land he had worked his whole life. Yet, the fields had expanded and a stone wall now divided the farmland from the wilderness. He saw the barn his father built, but the house beside it was larger, as though rooms had been added overnight. The backdoor was the same as he remembered. It was home. It had to be.

              He startled the family within as he entered. Several unfamiliar women were working in his family’s kitchen. One was old, the others were adults and maidens. Some of the women looked as though they could have been his sisters or cousins, but he knew none of them. Children played about their feet. When the women spotted the interloper, they shouted at him to leave, which led to an elderly man charging into the kitchen, wielding a broom like a club, intent on defending his family.

“Father?” the young man spoke.

The broom clattered to the floor. Silence fell over those gathered in the kitchen.

              “Ewen?” the elder man finally spoke.

              “Yes, father, it’s me! Who are these women? Where is mother?” the young man answered.

“Ewen, you look the same as I remember. It’s been… what, forty years?” the old man responded.  “How is this possible?”

              The young man fell to his knees as the truth became clear. This old man was his brother, who had been a mere sixteen years old the night before. The women were his wife, his daughters, and daughters-in-law, and their children. The young man’s father and mother were long dead and three generations had come up overnight.

* * *

              The young man found no peace in the only home he had ever known. He left his family home and his wanderings brought him to a cabin in the foothills where a brown-haired maiden with shimmering skin tended a garden. She welcomed him graciously, as she rarely had visitors.

              “My name is Cambria. You are welcome to share my roof for I live alone.”

              “I am Ewen. I am grateful for your hospitality, as the world has become strange and unknown to me.”

              “The world has always been strange and unknown to me.”

              What was to be a place of momentary respite for the young man became a place of peace. Who was to be a simple visitor to her life became a companion to the maiden. The spring passed, then summer, and as autumn came the maiden of nearly forty who appeared no younger than twenty and the man of twenty who lost forty years had fallen in love, unaware of the sins their shared misfortune had led them to commit.

This short story was an idea based around the changeling mythology. I thought of basing it in Aserra, but I never specified. Just a little experiment, and getting an idea down.


I am intoxicated by the taste of his desire         
Legs pulled up in a chair, clutched to his chest
I feel my wings like never before and he feels them too
Truths laid bare and secrets shared
He bares his vulnerability to me and trusts me not to strike
Teasing kisses, my lip in his teeth
A cluttered car that smells of incense
His tongue out like Kali
My rose oil on his wrists
A casual touch on my thigh sets off a cascade of pleasure through my nervous system.
How do you consume me so?
Empty promises
Never enough time, too much time, the wrong time
My power is waning, his is waxing.
A stolen moment in the summertime
Mosquitos and cicadas
Golden light illuminates the pollen in the air, streaming through tree trunks
I lay in the grass on my sweater while he worships my breasts
Moments are not enough
Never satisfied, always wanting more.
An ocean apart
Sporadic messages, empty promises
Truth becomes clear
I will never be satisfied.

I wrote this for a poetry course I took as a requirement for my degree. I have rarely written poetry and it’s a written medium I struggle with. Most of what I have written is free-form. I had a handful of poem ideas that were floating around in my head for a long time that I was finally able to string together. This piece specifically was based on a short relationship I had that left me frustrated. I had written a piece of flash fiction in another class very similar to this poem, and I retooled it into this poem that I prefer.