The Abandoned Station






Larry's Wad

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Here's a Thought




The Alarm went off in December



Kind of sounds like a plane endlessly plummeting to the never earth.

Rushing past the open window in the hallway and feeling a chilly nip of the late autumn air.

Fitting, really. End of the year adds a little bit of simple symbolism.

The buzzing cut through the apartment, bounding off walls and slipping through not quite closed doors.

Sheila rushed to the bedroom and quickly got on her hands and knees and began reaching under the bed for the More Important alarm clock.

An old shining blue digital numbers model running on old school clunky D batteries. Actually takes a moment to find the button to turn off the screaming.



Nice, but now it was time for action.

She tries not to think about Alexis and the thoughts behind her kind parting words. Playing the role of the supportive ex-lover (itself a rarity) as well as she possibly could, but Sheila couldn't help but hear concern and doubt when Alexis assured her that, 'you'll do fine, you always land on your feet.'

Not true, they both knew it, but it's the proper thing to say at moments like this, right?

Sheila doesn't land on her feet. She lands on her face, is slow to get up, denies she has an obviously bloody nose, and needs a concerted effort from friends and family just to stand and find a chair to sit down on and collect her thoughts.

And that was always there, this small community that pulled up her boot straps for her, but she noticed that this time around, after what happened, there were fewer people, and their enthusiasm was a bit thinner. Sheila found herself having to use a surprising amount of her own energy nowadays, physically and emotionally exhausted after crawling out of her own self-dug hole (and now her metaphors are blurring and she wished there was someone who would wrap her up in their arms and iron out the analogies).

Alexis did a lot of the heavy lifting.

That's a healthy and terrifying realization after the dust settles from an unfortunate turn of events (as if not calling it a tragedy is better and easier for moving forward). She doesn't want to sound like she's avoiding it. She addressed it again and again but one of the last things Alexis said to her was that she has to address it properly, which suggested that she wasn't doing it properly, which hurt.

Looking into the mirror and saying 'you did it', is close but not right.

Just say it.

Say it.

I did it.


It was stupid, so stupid, but not just what she did, but everything around it. And yes, sure, of course that's not an excuse, to say you were just caught up in the moment like everyone else, that you shouldn't be held completely responsible because it's not like anybody got really real hurt over all this.

She's gone over this line of thinking many, many times with friends, family and not-well wishers over the last five months.

It doesn't matter. Whatever goes viral is the story, the context stripped away, things she never really had to think about until it happened to her. What a way to become a more forgiving, understanding person. Only when the hatred and blame is heaped upon you.

I was-

I was...

Just say it.

I was trying to be cool.


Does that scan? It sounds so totally high school, so she didn't bring up that inner observation about it a lot. But everyone knows. That's the third biggest reason why people use the Internet (sex and money being the top two).

Maybe not cool. Edgy? Was it a sarcasm? Kinda. A joke? Well, maybe trying to be...

It could have sunk like a stone and disappeared into the ever growing heap of forgotten cyber misadventures, but instead someone found it and started passing it around like it was an ugly diamond in pile full of boring, broken glass. 

Her line was bad enough, but her post earlier that day could easily be construed as saying pretty much the exact opposite sort of thing than her quote-unquote.

From 'We should all learn to get along' to 'those people just suck so bad' in six hours.


Always ripe for easy sharing and mockery. Not much effort required to pile on in cyberspace.

The single screenshot documented the evidence completely, ignored the comment that she was responding to, and the fate of her online identity was sealed. Worse than death. Reading your own social obituary in real time. Ostracized and assaulted. It effortlessly leaked into her real identity. Her phone number was found and she got texts and calls (and messages when she didn't pick) telling her to kill herself. Alexis got texts and calls, too. Telling her that her girlfriend is a bigoted bitch and that she should cut ties now.

Now when she walked down her apartment stairwell she wondered if there would be protesters out on the street, which is insane, crazy, but people on the internet said they were going to shame her, attack her, kill her, do terrible sexual violence to her, and all of it is almost certainly a bunch of ranting on the Internet that everyone does...but it takes only one crazy person to make it come true.

Wearing a cap and sunglasses everywhere. Wondered if getting a wig was too much or not enough.

She naively hoped that they would let her work from home for a few weeks, until the incident died down a bit.

But no. Martin asked her into his office and no one made eye contact on the walk but she still didn't put it together until he delivered the words, 'we all think it would be better if we parted ways at this point'. It sounded so much more pleasant than 'you're fired', but it still meant the paycheque was being pulled out from under her, which meant her debt repayment plan was thrown into the fire.

It felt like it could possibly maybe happen, but tears were still shed. Not even begging Martin for another chance, she knows she suddenly made work more difficult for everyone else there in a way none of them could have expected. And inside Sheila knew was she good at her job, but not amazing at it enough to keep her through the storm.

Just another thing to lament over in the uber ride home, because why risk taking the bus?

It was actually nice to think about looking for a job instead of wallowing about the state of her current life in general, which was shrinking to the size of her apartment.

If properly disguised, she could always go back to behind the bar. Long-ish hours in mostly steady, smaller neighbourhood places. Make less than in the sweaty sardine can clubs but it took one week of very bad experiences at one of the up or downtown places (manager steals tip outs, co-workers steal your reputation, customer steals your soul) to swear them off completely.

That seemed like many Decembers ago.

Everything had become a terrible background noise throughout the fall. It wasn't like her relationship with Alexis was perfect happy harmony . Didn't want to peek at the Internet, but kind of had to find out if there's a change in the waters, a thawing on social media's collective feelings on the Internet.

Putting down the phone was change in itself.

To get something different you have to do something different, try something different, be something different.



Not exactly lying, but stretching a whole 'nother life out of a few strands of truth.

She missed those cheesy but slightly off-kilter turns of phrase that Alexis said to a room she thought was empty because Sheila was curled up under blankets on the sofa.

Like 'living from feast to famine when it seems like everyone around you is always flush.'

She thought about that one in this weather, when you could empathize with the sinewy, leafless trees. Naked branches. Everyone could see what you were made of.

It was worse when you weren't hiding something.

When that's just what you are.

And then you have to hide.

Peeking sheepishly out between the curtains.

Enough cranes dotting the skyline that it seems impossible they could have filled every position. She could put on a bright orange vest and hold a stop/slow sign even in the dreariest weather.

None of the construction workers would care, right?

Or maybe now she's somehow being dismissive of construction workers.

Maybe every thought now has to be a second one.

Chased out of the new world for a stupid comment that she thought of for less than ten seconds.

Has been persecuted, threatened, hated, ruined.

She's been treated


You can't say that. You can't even feel that.

That's the rest of your punishment.

Stopping yourself at every moment. That's what's been put inside of me. A buzzer that will go off because she will always wonder if this is about to happen again.

That's what will happen when you show your face or open your mouth.

She's clutching the More Important alarm clock as she thinks all this with a ragged moan.

It was supposed to be the happy moment, the arbitrary date that probably, by now, it's safe to go back, to pick up the pieces, that the exile which started as a publicly forced but then became self-imposed could end.

But it's all ruined.

There can't be a Sheila anymore.

I have to be someone else now.







It's the ugly hands of history