Present Tense

Here is a link to the video on Youtube. My daughter made the video when she was 10 yo. Thanks, Lil.


I am four years old.  They are fighting.  I don’t remember the words now, but they are yelling.  Fuzzy scenes, like cloudy dreams, blurring in and out of focus.  Down in the basement, in the laundry room, I hear hot voices and cold words.  I peek around the corner.  He pushes her down on the concrete floor.  She’s weak, flailing, grabbing with desperate hands.  She can’t resist.  She scrambles up when she sees that I’m there.  She stutters a lie through tears, “I’m okay.”  She says it certainly.  Forcefully almost.  But I see the truth in her eyes.  She’s scared and we both think she’s going to die.

My mother has long, dark hair.  She would look like a Native American mother warrior with her tan, lined face and downward-turned eyes/mouth except for her bangs.  She won’t wear her hair without bangs.  She fell out of a moving car when she was just five years old.

Her forehead is scarred from the accident.  It is a terrible mark.  It’s dull purple with blue and yellow streaks, permanently bruised somehow.  It has deep white ridges where the flesh comes together to hold back brains, blood and skull.  It looks as if the bone just under the skin is broken and could spill its contents from the slightest pressure.

I touch it as if it could bite me.  It is tough though, surprisingly and sufficiently.  It’s troubling, remarkable and totally unbelievable that someone could have such a scar and be walking around performing everyday tasks.

I’m staring up at her from the front seat of the car.  She’s seatbeltless.  Hair full of wind and eyes on the road.  Her fingers are wrapped around the thin metallic wheel.  Her forehead is rough, but her cheeks are feathery and thin, soft under my tiny hand.  When I trace her lips, she playfully snarls, bares her teeth and chomps at my fingers.  She has beautiful, somber eyes, full of pain and pensiveness.  She doesn’t often have a smile, but when she does, you know it’s for you and you know it’s for real.

She is five years old.  She is riding quietly in the backseat of the sedan.  She falls asleep.  Her hand, arm or knee gently releases the door latch.  Within a breath, she is inches from the road, ground rushing under her.  My grandmother, from the front seat, is holding her hand or arm so she won’t fall.  My grandfather is braking.  My mother will be crushed by the turning back tire unless Grandma lets go.

Grandma lets go.

Li’l Lil is taken to the hospital and that sickening cut at the top of her sadly-sweet baby face is her rippling flag of salvation.  Her never-ending experiment of bangs begins.  On some level, consciously or not, this must make her feel like a little girl for the rest of her life.  A scared, torn-up little girl who hides her secrets behind those bangs.  I know how she feels.

Dear Reader,

This is an excerpt from my book Present Tense.  It’s a very short, vignette-style memoir. Quick read with lots of imagery.  You can find the rest of my book Present Tense at amazon.com.  Here’s the link: Present Tense.  You can read for free with Kindle Unlimited.

Thanks for reading!


This was from Vol. 1. More of Vol. 2 later today!

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Vol. 2

The plan was always to release a Vol. 2 of my book Present Tense. But, as with most things, I was unable to complete the final version. I have many stories to publish and I thought, “Life is too short to leave them unread.” So I’m publishing them here. One by one. They are just little snippets of childhood. Sometimes, difficult to read. But all real, all precious. Mainly because they show my heart and where it’s been.


This new house is where I will spend the rest of my adolescence and teenage years. This is the house of sunken tubs and cigarette stains. This is the house of deep divides and dark, fake paneling. This is the house where I decide to kill myself.
I am lying in bed, shaking. I can’t stop shaking. I am some age between 5 and 15. I am scared. For mom and me. My parents are only 10 feet from my bedroom door. The door is shut, but it is cheap and he is screaming.
She is crying. She begs him to leave her alone. He keeps verbally attacking her, calling her a pig, threatening to kill her. I can hear him pushing her down. I can hear her land hard on the sofa. I can hear him hitting her. Spitting words through teeth. Seething, growling, possessed and angry.
I can hear every agonizing detail and only until I am shaking violently do I realize I’m shaking at all. I can’t stand it. I resolve to defend my mother and end the encounter. I walk quickly into the room and I scream at my father to stop. I can’t remember anything that happens after that.

Present Tense (Excerpt 3)

Work-Around (Chapter 1)

This is the house of my first through fourth Christmases, shark-jumping Fonzie, corn-eating contests, black vinyl swivel chair spinning, lipstick wall drawings, measles and melee.  This is the house where I ironed my fingers, melting the baby flesh from my tiny knuckles, forever scarring my left hand.  This is the house that leaves many wounds and scars.  This is the house where I came into being, came to my conscious mind, came to the realization that I was in danger from the people who loved me.

I like to hide.  I hide in an accordion trunk.  I hide in the dryer.  I hide in a closet.  I hide in a hole in the yard by the basement window, dug by my mother.  Because it’s there.  I hide inside a plate of food and I eat all my peas because it makes their voices stop.

If I eat enough, deep down inside, I can’t hear their voices anymore.  I feel peaceful.  It’s quiet.  I’m happy.  The pathway to perceived happiness gets laid by the chemicals in my brain and I am helpless to stop it.  I’m not even aware of the biological processes that are creating a life-long addiction.  It has formed and that path will be worn over and over and over again.  Food equals love.  To survive this chaos, I have found my work-around.  I will survive this.  But just barely.


Read the rest of the book here. If you’re a member of Kindle Unlimited it’s free! It is free for everyone from time to time, I’ll let you know when it is. Or if you’re an impoverished author like me, email me at martha.maggio@sbcglobal.net for your free copy. But you have to share your story with me as payment. 😉

Last Day for Free Stuff!

Remember, free download of my book ENDS today! Thanks. 🙂

Crafty Beaver

My book, Present Tense, is available on Amazon tomorrow for free. February 9-13! Normally $2.99. Check it out. It’s a quick read; probably finish in one go. Or if you have Kindle Unlimited, it’s free anytime. It’s a vignette-style memoir with a glance at PTSD and how it starts. It does not answer the question of recovery, but it gives an emotional starting place.

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Present Tense

My book, Present Tense, is available on Amazon tomorrow for free. February 9-13! Normally $2.99. Check it out. It’s a quick read; probably finish in one go. Or if you have Kindle Unlimited, it’s free anytime. It’s a vignette-style memoir with a glance at PTSD and how it starts. It does not answer the question of recovery, but it gives an emotional starting place.

Paranormal Revenge Fantasy (Cont.)

2. Let’s Party

*MATURE CONTENT*
Hy slogged across the room. The pieces of fabric tied to her coat jumped up and down, they danced like wooden wind chimes clacking together on the breeze. Dark hair oozed out of her hood and swished around like ink on marble. When she passed the window, he noticed that she was just as tall. She had to be almost 7 feet. Her legs were long enough to step onto the dresser, turn and squat with her black boots tucked under her, supporting her body.
John realized as she sat that he was free and scrambled on all fours through the sheets to the cell phone on his night stand. It was off. He pressed the power button and nothing happened. He slammed the phone down and called for someone, “Deana??! Are you still here??!” No answer.
He got up off the bed and walked quickly to the door. Before he could reach the hall, Hy silently flicked her finger and slammed the windows and doors shut without even looking up from her task. John stopped. He turned to Hy with his fists formed, not angry, scared. Hy swiped her finger across the small screen of a handheld device.
“This Deana? I’m looking at your Facebook, Johnny. She’s cute. Professional cheerleader, huh? And what else does she do? Professionally, of course. On the side? She’s pretty. How long before she cheated on ya, Jaybird?”
Hy vacantly blinks and smiles for a few moments at John. He has no response. He walks slowly towards the dresser and pulls out a black pair of shorts, unsure if she will allow this.
“I’m at least going to put on some clothes.”
“Oh, yeah, please do. I don’t wanna see that. Can I even see it??” Hy giggled. “You know, that always was a lot like your height and personality. Always coming up short.” Big smile.
John sits down on the foot of the bed to face Hy. She turns her face back toward the screen in her lap as she stretches out one leg and sits on the other. She shifts; gets comfortable. “Yeah, Deana won’t be back.”
“Why, what did you do?” He was angry.
“Oh, I didn’t do anything. It’s what you did. When she walked out of here last night, it was for the last time.” Back to the screen. “Looks like you have a successful company. How much do you owe to the banks? Or this guy?” Hy showed a picture of El Rey, known in Miami as a big-league businessman with ties to the drug cartels, a money launderer. No doubt he washed some of the money in John’s cars.
“Oh, here’s a fun picture. The sweaty, beer-stained collar of your shirt really catches the light in this one.” She laughs. “It’s starting to catch up with you, John.” She continues to swipe the screen, flipping through pictures and pages.
“I can’t see how old you are, Jooooohn. No birthday? By my calculations, you are, let’s see, 45 right?” Hy closes her eyes and then pops them open with the answer. “No! My bad. 46. I missed your birthday this year. Sorry ‘bout that. Happy birthday.” Hy is sitting on the dresser, kicking her dangling leg with absolutely no trace of a smile.
“What do you want?” John asked.
“Yay! I finally get to kick you in the proverbial balls. Here’s the real gut-punch, John.” Hy rose into the air. She floated above the dresser with her arms stretched wide. She was done playing around with her mouse. Her voice consumed most of the air in the room and John’s lungs.
“I am righteous anger. I am vengeance. I am every single girl, woman, person you ever violated. I am the pooling blood of the innocent. I am violence. I am justice. I am the voice of the girl you raped and killed. I am the dark angel formed by all the pain and suffering you have left in your life. I’m here for that life, John.”
“I never raped anyone! I never killed anyone!” John gasped.
Hy raised her hands and pushed an invisible force toward John. He was thrown against the wall, pinned by his wrists to the white suede headboard. She seethed and spit through teeth. “You had sex with a drunk, unconscious woman. Remember Rachel? Maybe you don’t remember her name? Maybe you never knew it. That was rape. Your friend took pictures of you having sex with her. He shared the pictures of you raping her with everyone.” Hy clicked her tongue, “Real sloppy, John.”
John was ashamed, afraid, confused and in pain. He started to cry. His chin dropped to his chest along with small streams of tears.
“Rachel saw those pictures being passed around at school. She was taunted by your friends. But you wouldn’t know that. You never went to college. You simply hung around at the parties, preying on girls. You didn’t know that Rachel was mentally ill. She’d have to be mentally ill to sleep with you, honey. Believe me, we all were.
“You also never knew that she stopped taking her medicine because she ran out. She was too afraid and embarrassed to even walk to the pharmacy to refill her prescription or ask for help.”
Hy swooped down and raised John’s head. She whispered the rest into John’s face, her eyes darting back and forth between his, searching for any sign of recognition or remorse.
“She stopped going to class. She stopped eating food. Rachel killed herself because of what you did. Do you remember Rachel now? She sliced her wrists open in the dorm bathroom while her roommates were at a party. You were even at that party. Her
blood is on your hands.”
She removed the force from his hands and his palms landed limply on the bed. She glided to a stand at the edge of the bed. John could not speak or move. He was motionless with fear and shame. Hy stared into John’s eyes for a moment and then returned to a chair near the window. She sat and folded her arms and crossed her legs.
“You didn’t know that did you? You never called her or spoke to her again. You never picked up a newspaper or watched TV. You were too busy fucking someone else to notice.”

Paranormal Revenge Fantasy

1. Time To Wake Up

The room is white. White, sheer panels over the windows. White sheets on the bed. White carpet, white furniture, white trim. The only bit of color is a tan, overweight man sleeping peacefully on his stomach in a twist of wrinkled cotton ridges.
And…
There is a dark figure sitting on top of a dresser in the corner. Its legs are folded underneath. It is motionless and silent. The white panels ripple in the breeze and rising sun. The shadowy form flaps in and out of focus behind the curtains as they fly. The almost stillness hangs on for several moments.
The black figure leaps.
“WAKE. THE FUCK. UP!”
John was immediately awake. Barely able to inhale, John struggled for his breath, partly from the terror running through his body, partly from the pressure of something very large on top of him. John could not move. Only the figure’s sick-red lips and milky chin emerged from the dark hood surrounding its face. It whispered wetly in John’s ear.
“Rough night? I know you’re awake now, right? I’ve been waiting for this moment for a long time, John. I’m going to enjoy this.”
There was a long pause. John was terrified. He didn’t bother to ask the question of who the figure was. He understood. This was a person that he had wronged. His lifestyle and work placed him next to dangerous people. He ran a successful car service. Most of the people in Miami who used his company were powerful men who played terrifying games. Drugs, sex, crime. He had arrangements, entanglements, loans with these men. His success had come at a great price, his freedom. It wasn’t a surprise to have someone threatening him, but an invasion of his home was new.
The voice on top of him sang sweet like a woman, but the body was very large and heavy. Even if he had wanted to ask some question, he was not able to speak. He had just enough air to keep from losing consciousness. His mind seized as well. He could simply listen and wait for the next moment.
“I know you didn’t expect to see me. I know you thought you would never have to think about what happened again. Oh, you thought about me for a couple of days. But you didn’t worry about how I felt. You only shuddered occasionally thinking I would show up at your door. But how could I? I only had your number and you took care of that. But you didn’t need to unplug the phone, I only called that one time.”
John’s mind immediately flooded with memories of many girls from the past. He tried to place the arousing lilt and scratch of this voice, but it vibrated with echoes and harmonies. He thought of how many times he had unplugged his phone. Avoided the calls of those girls he wanted, slept with and couldn’t bear to see again. John always looked for girls. Women.
He couldn’t help it. It was a habit. Like chewing gum or biting fingernails. He didn’t sweat over it. He did it unconsciously. Involuntarily. Like bleeding.
“I’m Hy.” She placed her elbow in John’s back as she steadied herself to stand. John yelped and squirmed in pain. “Sorry, John.”

Present Tense (Excerpt 1)

I am four years old.  They are fighting.  I don’t remember the words now, but they are yelling.  Fuzzy scenes, like cloudy dreams, blurring in and out of focus.  Down in the basement, in the laundry room, I hear hot voices and cold words.  I peek around the corner.  He pushes her down on the concrete floor.  She’s weak, flailing, grabbing with desperate hands.  She can’t resist.  She scrambles up when she sees that I’m there.  She stutters a lie through tears, “I’m okay.”  She says it certainly.  Forcefully almost.  But I see the truth in her eyes.  She’s scared and we both think she’s going to die.

My mother has long, dark hair.  She would look like a Native American mother warrior with her tan, lined face and downward-turned eyes/mouth except for her bangs.  She won’t wear her hair without bangs.  She fell out of a moving car when she was just five years old.

Her forehead is scarred from the accident.  It is a terrible mark.  It’s dull purple with blue and yellow streaks, permanently bruised somehow.  It has deep white ridges where the flesh comes together to hold back brains, blood and skull.  It looks as if the bone just under the skin is broken and could spill its contents from the slightest pressure.

I touch it as if it could bite me.  It is tough though, surprisingly and sufficiently.  It’s troubling, remarkable and totally unbelievable that someone could have such a scar and be walking around performing everyday tasks.

I’m staring up at her from the front seat of the car.  She’s seatbeltless.  Hair full of wind and eyes on the road.  Her fingers are wrapped around the thin metallic wheel.  Her forehead is rough, but her cheeks are feathery and thin, soft under my tiny hand.  When I trace her lips, she playfully snarls, bares her teeth and chomps at my fingers.  She has beautiful, somber eyes, full of pain and pensiveness.  She doesn’t often have a smile, but when she does, you know it’s for you and you know it’s for real.

She is five years old.  She is riding quietly in the backseat of the sedan.  She falls asleep.  Her hand, arm or knee gently releases the door latch.  Within a breath, she is inches from the road, ground rushing under her.  My grandmother, from the front seat, is holding her hand or arm so she won’t fall.  My grandfather is braking.  My mother will be crushed by the turning back tire unless Grandma lets go.

Grandma lets go.

Li’l Lil is taken to the hospital and that sickening cut at the top of her sadly-sweet baby face is her rippling flag of salvation.  Her never-ending experiment of bangs begins.  On some level, consciously or not, this must make her feel like a little girl for the rest of her life.  A scared, torn-up little girl who hides her secrets behind those bangs.  I know how she feels.

Dear Reader,

This is an excerpt from my book Present Tense.  It’s a very short, vignette-style memoir. Quick read with lots of imagery.  You can find the rest of my book Present Tense at amazon.com.  Here’s the link http://www.amazon.com/Present-Tense-1-Martha-Maggio-ebook/dp/B00N6R7R8C/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1453328463&sr=8-1&keywords=present+tense+by+martha+maggio.  You can read for free with Kindle Unlimited.

Thanks for reading!

Martha Maggio

Survived By…(Volume 2)

One Month Later by Martha Maggio

“Hi.”

She didn’t look at me as she sat down at the table.  Syl had grown distant from me over the last month.  Understandably so.  I was of no use to anyone, including myself.  I did not usually even drag a comb through my hair.  I had cut it all off the day after the funeral.

I just took the clippers I used every month on Harold, our dog, and shaved my entire head.  No hair guides or tapering, just full on buzz.  That was the first time I hadn’t cried about an activity in several days.  I had always promised myself to shave it on some strange occasion and that day seemed like the exact moment to pop that cork.  It was intensely freeing and satisfying, just as I thought it would be.  With my preoccupation in crying and eating, I had no time for hair.

But this drastic measure had naturally disturbed my daughter.  We didn’t talk about it.  She casually rubbed my head one day and said with a small smile, “Feels like teddy bear hair.”  I returned her smile with a solitary wink.  And that was all the conversation we had regarding Mommie’s new do.

On most days, I would take a shower, towel dry my very short hair and collapse into bed.  I wore sloppy shirts and dirty yoga pants.  I waited around for breakfast time, fed Syl, walked her to the bus stop and quickly walked back home to take a nap.  Today was different.

“Hi,” she whispered.

“How ya feelin’?” I asked.

“Okay.”  And she immediately started eating her cereal.

We sat in the dining room for fifteen minutes.  Silently.  While she slowly ate her flakes.  I read articles on my tablet and I could feel her eyes scanning me.  But every time I would look up to catch her eye, she would automatically shift her eyes to the window behind me.  The last time I looked up, she had stopped eating and was frozen, spoon in hand.  Tears rolled off her cheeks and landed in the sweet milk.

“What? What is it?”

She couldn’t speak.  She just kept crying into the bowl.  Her hand finally released the spoon and it fell awkwardly to the table.  She grabbed her face and finally let out a whimper.  She sniffed and sucked the fluids escaping her face and hands.  She lost complete control.

“Tell me, sweetheart.”

“I miss Daddy.”  More sobs.

“Me too.”  I touched her back and ran to the kitchen for tissues.  I plucked one of the two boxes on the counter.  It was too light and I shook it.  Empty.  I ran my finger inside to make sure.  The other box was empty, too.  No tissues, as we had used them all very quickly.  I wasn’t ready to go out in public yet to get some and I forgot to ask my mom for more each time she brought groceries.  I grabbed the paper towels off the rack and ran back to the dining room.

“Here.”  I laid the paper towels beside her hand.  She didn’t take them.  She was sober and distant again.  I couldn’t help but feel like a failure about the tissue.

Dangit.  Dang Kleenex.  I should have a pack of Puffs strapped to my friggin’ wrist these days and all I can think about is taking my nap.

“Mom.”  she started.  “Mom, I love you.  But you’re making me miss Daddy more.”

I was gutted.

Oh my God.  She’s right.  I am a failure.  Get it together.  She needs you and you are freaking out.  You selfish, horrible mother.  You are letting your baby fall through the cracks.  GET. IT. TOGETHER.

I took a deep breath.  “Okay.”  I smiled.  “I’m sorry.”  I felt like dying inside.  I felt like smashing myself in the face a thousand times.  I felt like flipping out and bawling my head off.  But I just breathed deep and smiled.  The tears came to my eyes, but I held them back.

She got up from the table after holding my gaze for a few moments and then took her dish to the sink.  She went to the door, put on her backpack and waited for me.  I grabbed my keys and put my arm around her.  We walked together to the bus stop.  We sat on the bench just a few steps from the stop and waited for the bus.  We were really early, but we enjoyed just sitting together in the cool morning.  She touched my hair and whispered, “Teddy bear hair.”

The bus pulled up and I didn’t want to let go.  She pulled away and I saw my hand flop back to the bench.  My hands.  They were so pale and thin.  They seemed just as old and wrinkled as my mother’s.  When did they age?

Syl looked back at me and knew that something had changed.  She knew that we could move forward now.  And that she could count on me again.  This seemed to make her happy.  She didn’t smile, but I could see the light had returned to her eyes.  She didn’t have to worry about losing her other parent to a mental breakdown.

“Have a good day, Sweetie.”

“Have a good day, Mom.”

A Pleasant Surprise by Lillian Maggio

I wasn’t ashamed to walk onto the bus, my face soaked with tears.  I got quite a few odd looks from my classmates though.  Even the bus driver seemed concerned.  I suddenly realized I might look like a mental patient ready to be committed, and felt a warm sensation crawl up my neck and onto my cheeks.

Holy moly, this might just be the most embarrassing moment of my life.

I walked down to the back of the bus and sat down. I pressed my face against the window and watched as my mother disappeared into the distance.  The moist, refreshing glass felt good on my embarrassed-hot face.  I wasn’t happy, but I was… almost relieved. Things were finally going to change.

I hardly noticed him sit down next to me.  “Hey.”  It was a boy that I had seen wandering around at my dad’s funeral.  I whipped around, hitting my elbow on the hard metal wall.

“Um.”

Stupid, careless, ridiculous.

The warm feeling came back.  I hoped he couldn’t see me blushing, then immediately pushed that thought out of my head.

Why do I care what he thinks of me?  I don’t need him.  I don’t need anyone.

But who was I kidding?  I would latch onto any friend I could find.  “Hi.”

He looked away.  It may have been the light, but I swore the tips of his ears were slightly reddish-pink.  “Max,” he whispered, barely audible.  So his name was Max, or maybe Maxwell.  I held back a giggle as I thought.

Maxine?

“Syl,” I stated.  “Short for Sylvestra.”  I made a slight gagging noise and pushed my tongue out a bit while I laughed to indicate my acknowledgement of my too-big, too-formal first name.  I shifted in my seat, studying him.  He wasn’t exactly cute.

His skin was pale, as if he didn’t get much sun (but how could anyone, here in Oregon).  He had shaggy brown hair and bangs that might have covered his eyes if he didn’t keep them tucked away behind his ears.  His round-framed glasses gave him an almost-comical appearance, but he wasn’t smiling.  I doubted he smiled very much at all.  Neither did I, though, after everything.  Only when I was nervous. Like now.

“Gum?” he offered.  I took it, the polite thing to do.

Tropical Mango.  Yuck.

I chewed it anyway, and was surprised by the taste.  As a little kid I had always hated anything mango-flavored, but it didn’t seem so bad now.

“Thanks,” I muttered.  “Can you keep secrets?”

His eyes lit up, but he didn’t smile.  “Sure,” he said.  “Can you?”

“One million percent.”  I mimed crossing my heart, and he did the same.  I felt about seven years old.  “You first, or me?”

“I don’t mind,” he mumbled.  He began absentmindedly tapping his fingers on the seat, in the few inches between the two of us.  Taptaptap.

“I like reading.  A lot.”  People thought it was weird that I loved books, but for me it was like a portal to another universe. Another way for me to ignore the problems of my real life.

He stopped tapping, and his legs began to swing back and forth, back and forth, back and forth.  “My mom’s in the army.”

“I still play pretend.”

“I sleep with a stuffed dog.”

“I’ve watched R-rated movies since I was seven.”

“My dad wouldn’t let me watch R-rated movies until last year.”

It almost became a competition.  Who has the most embarrassing secrets?  Is it Syl, with her weird addiction to grape soda?  No, here comes Max with his ten-second rule of picking up dry food off the floor.  It seemed to go on and on.  I didn’t care that he was almost a stranger anymore; everything we said somehow brought us closer to being friends.

It’s just like the pleasant surprise of mango-flavored gum.  Something you didn’t think you’d like, might actually be pretty good.  Someone you thought might be an idiot, could turn out to be the best friend you’ve got.  Who knew what curveball life was going to throw at me next?

I certainly didn’t.