A Short Story: The Plasticity of Adolescent Shame by Kelli Reilly


I feel as if the cocoon that I have built has turned into a sarcophagus suffocating me with delusion. I beg:

Am I true? Is anything that I say or do real? Have I ever actually felt or just acted out the motions? What am I I protecting myself from? Where am I trying to go- what am I attempting to achieve?

I rile others to be exposed, yet I am terrified of being so. The poet's heart but none of the grit. What does it mean, what does it unequivocally mean? So many ideas of life as we “know” it that I cannot even conceive. How am I going to be able to do this… Often, I feel as if I am in one of those dreams where you try to scream, but no sound resonates. When I am asleep and dreaming, I am stuck with such paralyzing terror and horror that I do not know what is worse: the dream I live in or the dreams in which I involuntarily conjure. I do not even have dreams about him yet, strangely.

I do not know if any of this means there is impending slumber suffocation or haunting or that my brain is attempting to let me know that it does not want to operate on the sole purpose of hurting me. I would rather have dreams of monsters chasing me than the unknown wilderness of crippling emotional entrapment each night. Where is the relief? I think it is that I do not deserve assistance. I am not concerned if that is cruel to myself. I have lied, cheated, indulged far beyond all boundaries. Consequences are never a stranger in such cases. A part of me believes that the art of necessary punishment and ultimate damning for indiscretions is quite archaic. However, life is just one long bout of consequences, good and bad. I understand that if I choose to wallow, that will lead to no higher ground yet if I do not digest my actions vis-à-vis my emotions, where will I go? I mustn’t pillage anything else. I am terrified.

Being reminded of the lies I have told and tell is like being induced by the most painful barbiturate. I do not know that person. I want to run away just like the others before me. They were smart. I do know my power and wonder, and I do know that I have worth and all of those things we all have, however, that does not mean that I have not left an unsavory, malignant taste in my mouth.

I hope that I am a sort of unpolished silver that with the right amount of patience, attention, and determination I can be as I am supposed to be.

I am compulsive. My neurons fire from the recesses of my brain that otherwise should not exist. What a joy it would be to change the plasticity of those throbbing lobes. I must uncover and resuscitate that happiness. The Jekyll and Hyde tug-o-war is a game I must quit. I understand that I so desperately crave a kind of love and attention that must be earned not just given yet I keep expecting it. Nothing comes without the necessary work that is attached. I have made myself aware that my compulsions in all of their respects must be laid to rest. Otherwise, I may never actually experience anything true in my life. Appearances are much different than actualities. I smile in the photo; I hug a so-called friend, look at all my great things- does not mean any of it is so. A true reality must be created not expected. Lies get you nowhere even the white ones.

Disloyalty only brings shame. I have realized it is more terrifying to deal with aftermath than if I were to be upfront. Most of us find it excruciating to be forthright when it is most vulnerable yet only later will you look like an utter imbecile. We protect nothing when we do that. A lot of hurts could have been avoided long ago if I knew even a fraction of this.

I miss you so bad I think I might die.

Jane by Kelli Reilly

She told me I was beautiful like a Renaissance painting and that she would splatter her brains out like the dripping paint of a Jackson Pollock for me. She stopped saying that after her Uncle actually did. 

She was Jane. I always wondered why such an intricate girl like her had such a simple name. Then again, it was fitting. She was a mystery. Nobody really knew she was; Not even me. 

Handstands & Glitter by Kelli Reilly

You look really good when you put the hoodie over your head. I do not know why you just do. I like that it obscures you and at the turn of a glance I can see your tenderness as the creases of your eyes smirk in a way that is more beautiful than any smile that I have ever seen. I tell you, you look good- you laugh and agree, which makes me laugh. Whenever I laugh with you, I become hyper aware. I think, better yet, wonder, if you are watching me laugh and thinking thoughts similar to mine. Not too long ago, you told me that you think about my almond shaped eyes. You even once told me you could never forget the way my hands looked. You could pick them out of a lineup. Even remembering you say such things could flush my cheeks for hours. To even be on your mind in such a way rings my heart. I feel swollen even reaching toward that memory.

I want to know you and love you. I know that is not so simple. I am aware we are distant lovers. When I remember all is not so simple, I do not want to look your way; I do not want to look into your eyes; You do it as well. This pattern has become bizarrely comforting as it is apparent that we both know and are trapped in the same glass box. At least there, we are together. 

My efforts to not be driven mad are frail. The reels just hit me. Flickers of images. The light. Even the light reminds me of you; those moments in the magic hour where we would just smile and our tongues would slip into words we step around so cautiously, those moments do not escape. Each moment encapsulates my entire being. 

You grabbing me and lifting me up. Laying me down. Grabbing my hand and holding it tight. Me leaning into your chest, never looking up, only in. I am attached and hollow. It stings. To merely sit next to you is a divine pleasure, the sweetest of kinds. I never want to leave your orbit. 

You have the kind of sweetness that makes me drunk with childlike desire and darkness that sucks me into oblivion. We share a beautiful and gregarious detachment with the rest of the world. We float in stillness when we are one. We are never void. I want to be where you are. 

You are the handsome and alluring that stretches beyond composition. Your vision, your art, your composure, your humor, all of its nuance; I am dizzy. I did not know that I was going to love you. Love has never existed like this to me. I have only known something much different. I jumped into your water.

I know that I need to be careful. Self-preservation one may say. I know the stakes, the risks, the circumstances. It is all a bit unsavory; Undeniably so. But if I get to catch the glimmer of your smile at any moment of time, here and now, far and distant, I will not look away. I will always turn back. 

For now, I am saddled with the independence of my feelings. We are set free to manage all of life and its expectations. Perhaps, in the end, you will float back to me and I to you. We will walk down the street; you will not pull up your hood but grab my hand instead. 

Did we ever say no?

Let's All Go to the Movies by Kelli Reilly

The other day I went to go see a movie in an actual movie theatre. I should not even have to qualify that statement with "actual" because yes, movie theatres are a place LOTS of people still frequent all the time; I am going to take assumption that you can infer what I meant before I chose to qualify it unnecessarily. Those who still find themselves moseying on over to the ole theatre, are what I consider elite because we pay upwards $15 a pop to watch Amy Schumer's sexual follies. Anyways, the story here starts with me going to the movies like any old bloke, alright? Enough contradictory over-inflated philosophy & lexicon. 

Listen to this, right off the bat, I did not even get carded to watch a R-Rated feature. The bumbling, apathetic booth attendant did me a real solid because the time it would have taken me to fish out my California and/or New York ID is about the same amount of time it would take me to go to the market next door for some theatre contraband. I cannot even remember a time ever when anyone in the army of bumbling, apathetic theatre employees ever checked mine (or anyone's) IDs in addition to their bags for outside snacks. Funny, because at this rate there must be more movie theatre shootings than Snickers and Shasta hoarding pre-teens...that is a discussion for another time. Anyhow, men, women and nightcrawlers alike schlep movie totes filled with anything from popcorn and candy to full blown lobster dinners because we may be elite enough to buy an inflated movie ticket but Jesus, we aren't the 1%. I am not in the business of buying $45 hot dogs and there is no way in hell Regal Cinemas would ever abide by the Poor Relief Act of 1601

So yeah, now that I discovered I had some extra time, I went next door to Westside Market which is now on the East Side as well- who knows what that's all about? Immediately, I was doused in sensory overload. I felt as if Mensa had stocked the store as some sort of societal-consumership experiment. Sushi and Deli Meats were prepared behind the same counter, chips were hanging and cascading from the rafters and there was cheese everywhere I turned. It was as if I was riding the Tube and every single person was in fact wearing Burberry Khaki Trench Coats- a glitch in the Matrix. Amongst the chaos, I am making darty eye contact with my fellow vigilantes; We are all searching for the best snacks- crunchy  but not too loud, sweet but not sickening, and cheap (at least cheaper than our original offerings). At this rate, I am already missing Jason Bateman trailer #1. God knows: I DO NOT WANT TO MISS ANY MORE JASON BATEMAN TRAILERS. I needed to make a swift decision. That is when it happened; I found through the Bristol rubble and noise my Prairie Home Companion: The most fucking British chips that have ever existed. 

I did not even taste these chips to know, I just knew how fucking British these chips were going to be. I do not even have an affinity for British paraphernalia but I knew it would be an utter mistake if I did not partake in the most fucking British thing there ever was. I am not talking British things we all know like Scotch Eggs, Earl Grey tea, the abuse of "Keep Calm and Carry On", this is spiritual.

If the essence of Great Britain could be captured, if you could imagine how Great Britain tastes and feels, it is these chips and I am the only one who knows this. I do not want anyone else to catch wind of my discovery so I coyly grab a bag of $27 beef jerky and Lufftwaffe-free German Raspberries- just your average grocery store purchase. Nobody asserts suspicion. I am about to miss a Kevin Hart trailer so I head out without taking my change. 

Garbage city by Kelli Reilly

Garbage City: because NYC is garbage at this point- physically, existentially, complete and utter rubbish. It is a disgusting by-product of pro-tourist, consumer bullshit. It is as if it has sold itself to a lesser devil; one that revels in the destruction of spirit that this very city needs to survive. The gilded cloak has been removed and all this place is, is a glorified egocentric swamp. Welcome to Garbage City, go home please, there's nothing to see. 

Fickle: A Short Story by Kelli Reilly

All of the sudden, I did not want my friends any longer- well this group at least. Frankly, I was not so sure if they even wanted me around either. I knew when we started hanging out the way we did with fickle libations and hourless evenings that we would peak and plateau almost all at once. Well, I can only speak for myself. 

Everyone was filled with such ecstasy and over-emphatic enthusiasm I wondered how could this be sustained? It is not that I fall in an out of friendship easily, it is more so that I fall hard but under separate pretenses. Once I sense even the slightest bit otherwise from even just one person, my fortress is built. I will say, I am not without guilt. I certainly know I could be seeing all of this through fogged lenses. I have spent many a night being too loud, too brusque, too inebriated, too unconscious, even too boorish yet we all said it was "ok" and embraced the personalities that comprised the band.

One day, I began to sense I had been "kindly invited" rather than integral to a plan. By all means, I see friendship as a casualness of allowing friends to do as they please however I detest the feeling of never being "needed" and "wanted." I truly feel as if I were to disappear (or never call back) that I would be mourned with a mere shrug. This type of thinking lead me to more terrible thoughts. I became angry- thoughtfully volatile. I thought about my "so-called" friends and their faces, their laughs, their style, etcetera. It all made my stomach churn. I feared if one of them touched me I would turn into a pillar of salt. Perhaps, I was a bit absurd. I had already sat well with my desire to no longer vie for their presence but it was not until one day in the efflorescence of Spring they decided we were all to meet in Central Park. 

I had no intentions of joining on any outing to the park that be yet four train transfers later I was headed to my handcrafted sarcophagus. After a combination of delayed contact and abysmal directions, I slithered throughout the western to eastern pockets of the man-made trough. Mind you- I also despise this place. It is no park. It is like an amusement park without the roller coasters, all the smells and even more people walking with no ambition. The better half of my brain told me that although I had already come thus far that it would be better for me to return home than to deposit my attitude of dismay on top of some idle hill among idle company.

Anyhow, by the time I made it, it became quite clear within the moment of a mutual hand wave that I was no more wanted than I wanted to be there. I cannot even recall if I received a "hello." I can attest that I did not receive any remarks from my fondest friend yet I believe I am at fault for only making mention of the faulty directions and a bevy of my frustrations- all with a smile but of course! Silence fell quickly and was only broken by a weak offer for me to join on the overcrowded blanket. In these moments, I could have still walked away unscathed. Nobody would have given notice. Oh, did I fail to mention the buxom, raspy toned friend of a friend- a stranger!- that lay with them? I digress...

I sat on the remaining slivers of sunlight; A reminder that there are good things everywhere no matter how tight a grip my mind has on me. All I crave is to be free of them and for them to not even bother. But I may change my mind. For all one knows, one day less trivial matters will crowd my conscience and I will laugh at all of the follies of yore.