Photo by Tim Peterson on Unsplash

My lonely highway, nothing but sky,
rocks and dirt, that’s how abandoned.

That’s where you find me, like a leaf in the wind.

With your hands, you dig a little place in the ground for my feet.
To keep me safe.
To steady me.

Facing west, you take my hands.
I give them to you, looking east.
We stare into each other as
I put my feet into the place that you made for them.
Now, dear, you are my everything.

And then.
A distant hum, from the west.
Behind me.

“What is that?” I ask.
“Nothing,” your eyes search past…

Photo via UnSplash by Tim Mossholder

A picture of his penis bloops up onto her iPhone. Marjorie has seen this penis before, in the flesh, mind you, so it isn’t shock value that has her frozen in this moment. It’s the expectation: Now it’s HER turn. Marjorie has been on this couch for over an hour now, engaging in a series of racy, back-and-forth “sext” messages, teasing him with the suggestion that she’ll reciprocate. That she’ll reply with a sexy photo of HER.

At 46, Marjorie’s new boyfriend, whom she calls “Dick” just for fun, has been texting her ferociously for about three months now. …

Photo by Егор Камелев on Unsplash

There it is,
the furry, black leg.

This is the way it happens.

Him, with his bright eyes,
high-pitched ebullience
pouring from his face.

Me, nodding,
feigning interest.

Then — a flicker.
What moved?

The long spindle, dark and hairy.
A spider’s leg
protrudes from the hole on the side of his head.

One leg,
then two —
now a retreat, receding
into the darkness of him.

That’s where it lives, the spider.
In the place oft referred to as “ear”
though I know not
whether ours can hear.

What are words when a spider might emerge?

Any second.

Photo by Kalea Jerielle on Unsplash

I smelled a stench.
It was…
Stencheus. Stenchy. Stenchful.
Green and vaporous, if it could be seen. But it could not.
I was never certain from where it came.

I emptied the trash, scrubbed the floors.
Yet the stench remained.
I preoccupied myself with sniffing,
certain I’d find the source.
Yet no matter how strong, it eluded me.

I asked you if you smelled the stench.
You shot me that look, brown eyes with flecks of green,
brimful of indignation.
No,” you promised, sniffing wildly to prove it.
“There is nothing.”

Photo via Unsplash by Anita Jankovic

For most of my adult life, I’ve had an unhealthy relationship with the word “trauma.” I thought of trauma as horrific or murderous events in a person’s life, so I didn’t put much emotional weight behind what I considered to be a few tough times during my younger years.

Recently, however, after a series of difficult events, I enrolled in a healing program that required excavating some personal history, and I uncovered the root of unconscious beliefs that have been driving some of my decision-making— some trauma. …

Photo via the author

My first child was born in 2008, and I was living very far away from my family at the time. While I was still pregnant, I started a blog to share all of my *expectant* news with everyone back home. I posted ultrasound photos, weekly pics of my naked, growing belly, and of course baby shower “thank you” messages and the like.

Once the hero of the story arrived, the blog took a different tone. Inspired by my son’s larger-than-life personality, I often wrote in the first person, as if the baby was speaking. It was silly. …

Photo by Jordan Whitt on Unsplash

When I was about 10 years old, I was tagging along in the grocery store with my mom, walking down the aisles and retrieving items off shelves as directed. Along one aisle, there was a boy shopping with his mother who was slightly older, probably about age 12, who had a significant neurological difference. I stared at him as he galloped along next to his mother, and I was lost in a cloud of guilt and pity for this boy. I didn’t know anything about him, but I assumed his difference was sad. It made me sad.

As my mother…

Photo by Anthony Intraversato on Unsplash

A few years back, I canceled my evening plans with some girlfriends. In actuality, I had a feeling I wouldn’t go even when I accepted the invitation, but I said yes anyway and then cancelled at the last minute.

My avoidance was because my son Rory was among the oldest of our children, and most of our previous evenings were spent sharing stories of all the “cute things the kids were saying.”

I both loved and hated these stories. They filled me with — not exactly jealousy — it was more like, grief. To hear of other children moving forward…

Photo by JE Schoondergang via Unsplash

As the mom of a boy with autism, people often try to encourage me by sharing the stories of remarkable people who have lived with autism, many of whom achieved the kind of notoriety that we are taught gives us value.

For example:

  • Winston Churchill had a conduct disorder and a speech impediment
  • Henry Ford had learning disabilities
  • Thomas Edison had signs of ADHD
  • Agatha Christie had dyslexia
  • Albert Einstein is thought to have had autism

The list goes on and on.

And sure, maybe my son will go on to be President, or cure cancer, or discover life on…

Caterpillar Talk

Short stories, poems, and personal essays about relationships, parenting, autism, and tainted love.

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