Alyssa's Personal Writing Samples


13 March 2009
bleeding into sovereign silence
bleeding into sovereign silence
the surrender of sound, of color, of vivid truth
when I'm bleeding into sovereign silence
silence that sacrifices
silence that brings peace
like a river.
raging peace.
I surrender to the overwhelming love
without a sound. It is well
with my soul. On my face
a raw desire to press myself
beyond the ground
where I transcend the fade
and bleed into the sovereign silence.

04 March 2009
green means go | pt. 1
April 17, 1968. The kitchen light laid its square beam on the hallway carpet, exposing a mess of pebbles, cheerios, and dog hair. I was supposed to vacuum yesterday. I guess I forgot. I stand in the dark next to the doorway, my hair plastered to my forehead and cheeks from a nightmare-induced sweat. The wallpaper absorbs the heat. My mother is sitting at the dining room table sorting through the newspaper. She always skips the police reports and obituaries. "Too much problems in the world as it is. Don't need to read about it." I can smell the bacon crackling on the stove. The boiling water for the eggs sends the pot into a seizure. She gets up and turns down the heat. Her shadow floats across the wall across from me and stops halfway. I hold my breath and close my eyes, still half-believing the childish idea that if I can't see me, neither can she.

 06 March 2009
green means go | pt. 2
I am sitting in the driveway with a bucket of chalk and jeans streaked with it, yellow and blue to match my hands as I attempt to outline my skinny legs and naked feet. I have been abandoned by my best friend who is now racing her bike up and down the street, making regal noises, "da da-da da, da la!", and waving at the mailboxes as though she is the queen. She thinks she's hot stuff since she got a purple Schwinn for her birthday: glittered frame and a banana seat. Who wants a dumb bike anyway? We're not even allowed to leave the block. I'm trying to keep my right arm flat against the concrete long enough to outline my fingers. It's hard, and my pinky turns out too long and too fat. The summer sun is pressing the sweat out of my hands while I twist on my back to pull the chalk up the length of my arm. I relax my head back and start at my neck, the cool piece skimming my skin. I hear the car first. End of the block. Screeching tires, quick horn. Metal on metal. Crunching. Stand up quick. Chalk falls. Shatters. End of the driveway. Black car. Purple Schwinn. Blood. People running to the intersection. Police. Ambulance. I cannot leave my place in the driveway until my mother has rushed past me and returned, picking me up by the armpits and holding me tight against her chest. My heavy legs swing against her thighs. My head lays on her shoulder and she carries me inside. My best friend is dead. Red means stop. Green means go.

10 March 2009
green means go | pt. 3
I'm laying flat on my back. The red digits on my alarm clock say 10:18. I can hardly believe I'm still awake. My eyes have adjusted to the fog of light that reaches through the curtains. My room emerges gray from a deep black. My hands are clammy and I press one gently against the wall, tracing the rough textured wallpaper, letting it absorb my heat. The lump on my floor rolls on her side. My second-best friend is sleeping over. My mom thought it would make things easier. She hasn't talked much. Neither have I. I suppose now she's my first-best friend.

"Lucie?" I whisper; my breath is still sleeping in my lungs and I can barely hear this word myself. I swallow and at the slightest movement, I exhale, "Are you awake?' I hear her breathing heavily and I sigh. My mind feels as though it is going to explode. Maybe I'm going crazy. I'm too young to go crazy.
The clock advances to 10:29 when I finally push my blanket off of me. I can't think. I just need to get out of here. My closet door groans when I pull it open to retrieve my tennis shoes and a jacket. I leave it open, nervous closing it will wake Lucie. I tiptoe around her to pull a small wooden church from my desk. There's five dollars of offering in it. The steeple slides off and I work out the bill with my fingers. It crinkles like a brown leaf when I push it into my pocket. I turn to leave. Lucie doesn't move on the floor.

In the hallway, I can hear my parents' TV exploding with late-night comedy and canned laughter. Their bedroom door is shut and I shuffle past. In the kitchen, the light is on above the sink. I feel like it's watching me open the back door and slide out, holding the knob to the left as I press the door closed behind me. Without a sound. Back into darkness. My eyes struggle to adjust until I round the corner of the house where the streetlight exposes a vacant street.

Suddenly I'm standing frozen at the end of the driveway. My heart is pounding and I close my eyes. The night is spinning and I'm on my knees. I have to stand myself up and keep going. It's been a week, and everyone else has returned to default, as though nothing has changed. But things have changed. And I can't be here anymore. Not now. So I walk. I don't know where I"m going, and my throat gets a lump and I begin to feel the hot tears roll down my cheeks. The streetlight splits into a rainbow of colors, and I walk away.

26 February 2009
Funeral for Yesterday
We gathered in the garden where the morning glories popped their blameless faces into the early sun – blanched white, streaked with tears of blue.
        When the people stopped looking at their shoes and digging trenches in the grass with their toes, I picked up my guitar and began to sing.

              We’ll dress in black and hail the rain,
              and when it falls, we’ll mourn and pray.
              Time shows no mercy to those who wait.
              A funeral for yesterday.

        The people here are sheep, a congregation of uncomfortable nervousness. Their big eyes are watching for something they do not know. Each one’s instinct suggests that all is lost. They bleat, unaware of what exactly for.
I cry for them. Then I hold tight to my guitar and sing.

              Here is the spot we will surround
              as daylight fades into the ground.
              Our candles light the solemn shroud.
              A funeral for yesterday.

        Four years ago I stood in this very place. It was different then. I knew nothing of the dulling ache when seconds, minutes made things change. The manmade pond held its breath when it slept. I might have mistaken it for fresh plot of fertile earth. The stars were loyal companions for a time.
        My cell phone interrupted the scene, a single beep. The soft glow of the screen attracted a solitary moth that tapped, tapped, tapped into the firm surface. It would never learn. I swatted it away and read the text that told me of her end. After that night, I picked up the guitar and sang.

              What’s gone is gone and we’ll survive.
              This gathering’s for those alive.
              We leave it there and go inside.
              A funeral for yesterday.

        We gathered in the garden where the flowers did not grieve. Here the people missed the past and dwelled, determined to pull a lesson from the forgotten and futile incidents of their grade school years. In vain. They all looked up when I paused the melody. I slowly sipped the water from my cup and thought on what had still remained.
        I cannot play guitar at all. My fingers fear the nylon string; but without it I’d feel too alone. So I just hold it here and sing.

              The dawn’s a shaky lullaby
              that no strong will can yet defy.
              We’ll make amends to the infant sky.
              A funeral for yesterday.

29 January 2009
Socially-Acceptable Emotion
A Written Guide to Social Conduct Concerning Emotions
(An Excerpt of Draft #2)
There is one, and only one, socially-acceptable emotion, and that is happiness. Everything else is permissible, but only under controlled, careful moderation (See Figure 1). All emotions can be classified under the following groups and should be handled accordingly: anger, grief, sadness, silliness, and happiness (default). A detailed list of sub-groups will be included at the conclusion of this report.

ANGER If your co-worker is a jerk , you may be angry for 72.5 hours or until you have attained a reasonable level of revenge , whichever comes first.

GRIEF The grieving period upon the loss of an immediate family member is exactly six months maximum, or up to ten months if the cause of death is any of the following: murder, suicide, accidental food poisoning, injury by an animal, or terrorist attack.

SADNESS A two-week time is allotted for emotions related to sadness, regardless of the cause: depression, disappointment, discouragement. Anyone expressing these emotions longer than 14 days are strongly encouraged to maintain the default (detailed below) and/or take necessary steps to achieving the default (also detailed below).

SILLINESS Concerning varying degrees of silliness, whether by immaturity or romance, persons under the age of twenty years and four months are permitted 24 hours of excessive, unrestrained nonsense per 1,128 hours (47 days) of the default. Persons above the age of 20.33 years may be silly for six minutes at a time, and only on special occasions: birthdays, government-recognized holidays not associated with a religion, and upon the announcement of upcoming engagements or grandchildren. During these times, silliness may only be expressed in the presence of members of the same sex. Silliness induced by romance is permitted for a female only among her closest friends, and only during the first ten days of the causal relationship. If she violates this rule, her friends are authorized to express verbally and in writing both their jealousy and/or annoyance. All persons who wear light-up sneakers or who are unable to dress themselves are excused from all codes regarding silliness.

HAPPINESS (DEFAULT) Now, the rules for the socially-acceptable emotion of happiness must be followed precisely if one desires (and one should) to avoid possible (and almost certain) consequences including but not limited to chastisement, judgment, shunning, ridicule, flogging, and (on the occasion of multiple offenses) the appropriate loss of appendages. Happiness shall be regarded as the default emotion. When not expressing (appropriately) any other emotion, all persons shall default not to indifference, but to happiness.

Happiness is generally characterized by an optimistic attitude, a smile, and a gentle tone of voice. Laughter is often a display of happiness; however, laughter is not neglected from this code of conduct. Persons must not allow laughter to be too loud or lengthy, at which time it shall be considered silliness (see above). If a person finds a situation or conversation to be humorous, he is permitted to laugh at a volume just slightly louder than the level of the surrounding environment. Any laughter slightly or very accurately resembling a donkey – or any other farm animal for that matter – is too boisterous a display of enjoyment and should be strongly discouraged. Circumstances deemed slightly funny by the observers shall be responded to with a quiet chuckle or silent smile.

The default emotion of happiness is actually quite simple; after all, it should come naturally. The monotony of everyday life is a source of abundant joy and contentment. The very state of living is a blessing, not a burden. Regardless of one’s situation, even if he believes he is experiencing great suffering, one must find happiness in the simple truth that there is always someone who has it worse.

NATURAL DISASTERS In the event of circumstances beyond the control of ordinary citizens (namely, natural disasters), it is to be expected that persons may experience a plethora of unanticipated emotions such as grief, sadness, and anger, upon which all rules may be disregarded for a period of two days, after which all persons must return to default.

FAILURE TO DEFAULT Any and all persons unable to successfully and consistently maintain a default state of happiness will be subject to any or all of the following possible strategies: individual therapy, group therapy, horticulture therapy, mood-stabilizing drugs (commonly for depression/ADHD), shock therapy, solitary confinement, or spiritual guidance counseling. Also, and most preferably, a person may choose to deny or stuff his emotions down and carefully portray a sense of the default (in such a manner that another person would not be able to distinguish this false default and a true default). All persons failing to maintain default and resorting to a suggested solution must be careful to never discuss emotions varying from default, as doing so is undoubtedly a sign of personal weakness and/or abnormality.

. . .

16 January 2009
The Hanging
The darkness is a slow fade. Evening seeps in through the windows so subtly that I don't even notice the light's absence until my ink begins to blend into the air above it and my head subconsciously falls closer to the page. As far as I'm concerned, we'll leave the lights off. There's a calm in the room, like sleep -- that hidden gas that slows our breathing and pushes down on our eyelids. Outside, the bass of a passing truck reverberates and echoes off my heart, making it all tingly. It tickles. There is a plant that hangs above the kitchen sink. Does it feel unnatural, suspended above the ground in such a manner? Does it feel different? It can see all the other plants outside tied firmly to the earth. "Jump," I whisper. The aftermath would be a mess to clean up, but I care more deeply about its liberation. "Jump!"