Boy’s Best Friend

Boy’s Best Friend

By Amy S Cutler
As read in the Holiday Horror facebook episode by The Rejected

am real. I could feel your warmth as you unwrapped me, could smell Christmas breakfast on your breath when you took me out of the box.

I am real. I could see the dandruff on your fleece pajamas as you held me close to you.

I am real. I could hear the way you sighed when you first saw me. Sadness seeped through your thank you. Your parents might not know it, but I do: you are disappointed.

Why don’t you want me?

You wished for a real dog, and what you got was me. You see me as a stuffed toy. You don’t think that I am real. But I am, you just don’t know it yet

But you will, soon enough, when you fall asleep. You will see me in your dreams. I will talk to you, and play with you, and never leave your side. I will be the best friend you always wanted, all you have to do is close your eyes, and fall asleep. I will be waiting for you, night after night, until you believe that I am as real and alive as you are.

I don’t have a pulse. I don’t even have a heart. But I do have a soul, and you are now my soulmate. Best friends. And while you dream, we will play, and you can talk to me about anything. I will talk to you, too, and in time I will be in your head all the time. While awake, while you slumber, even in death.

I am watching you now, as you close your eyes. So close to the truth that I wish I could wag my cotton tail.

And when you close your eyes for the last time, we will be together. Forever and ever.

Boy’s Best Friend

The Rabbit Hole – The Pitkin Review

by Amy Sampson-Cutler, Published by The Pitkin Review

Dorthea had never felt so happy in her life. Not that she could remember, anyway. Window shopping on the streets of Manhattan, she wandered into a bookshop. This shop was different than other bookshops – it had a bohemian feel. Tapestries hung on the walls, and the scent of lavender and vanilla hung in the air from a scented candle near the checkout.

            Over the smell of the candle she could detect an older smell – the musky scent of old books. A used bookstore, she thought, that makes sense.

            Choosing a title from the shelf of old books, Dorthea found a dimly lit corner of the store with a wicker ottoman and sat down to read. Since she was a young girl, she could get lost in a good story. The story she chose on that day was a book of deceit, of grand illusion and the struggle to fit in.

            Dorthea wouldn’t normally sit like that in a bookstore. She would pick out a few books, flip through them quickly right there in the aisle, and purchase them before going home to get lost in the story. Possibly because this was a used book store, she felt comfortable touching the pages. She lifted the book to her nose and imagined that she could not only smell the old book, but the story as well. Damp, musky leaves of a forest combined with an animal scent, feline perhaps. Possibly it was a combination of the fact that the books were used and this store was so inviting, Dorthea settled in, tucking her feet up under her legs.          

            It would have been a perfect day, except that what Dorthea’s mind could not grasp was that she was indeed in a library. The Alzheimer’s did that to her sometimes: put her in places where she wasn’t, confusing details and twisting her own sight. The library was quiet that day, with only Sondra working at the desk. She watched the old woman shuffle in, wearing loose green sweatpants and a pink cardigan. She kept an eye on her as she slowly wandered the aisles, finally choosing The Complete Alice by Lewis Carroll. When the old woman meandered over to the sitting area, Sondra made a task of shelving some returned books nearby.

            The woman had beautiful grey hair, Sondra noticed. It was well-kept, brushed straight and tucked behind her ears. The mismatched outfit didn’t quite jive with such precisely styled hair, in her opinion, but Sondra has gotten herself into trouble before by being too nosy, so she tried not to wonder too much about the woman, even as she noticed the woman’s right foot trying to move to the top of the chair, like she was trying to casually tuck her feet. They kept twitching together, raising up a bit before falling back to the floor.

            The woman must have felt Sondra staring at her, because she suddenly turned to face her. Sondra found herself looking into milky blue eyes. Fumbling for what to say, a simple “Hello, lovely day,” was all she could manage.

            “Ich bitte um Verzeihung?” the woman asked, confused.

            Sondra found herself hugging the book she was holding to her chest. Unable to pull away from those eyes, she tried again. “I see you’re reading about Alice. Do you need any help?”           

            Dorthea dropped the book to her lap, closed her eyes, and said, “Ich kann Sie nicht verstehen.” Over and over, “Ich kann Sie nicht verstehen,” “Ich kann Sie nicht verstehen.” What started as a soft chant grew in volume, she shouted “Ich kann Sie nicht verstehen,” hands covering her face, book falling to the floor. In her head, she shouted the same words that she spoke aloud, “I do not understand!”

            Sondra dropped to her knees in front of the old woman. She thought the woman may be speaking in German, but she did not know for sure. “I’m sorry, I’m sorry, let me help you,” she pleaded. The woman was sobbing now, repeating that same phrase and patting down her beautiful hair as if in slow motion. As she picked the fallen book up off the floor, Sondra noticed a Medical ID bracelet on the woman’s wrist. Gently, she took her hand and held it closer to her so that she could read the bracelet. Dorothy Schmitt, Shady Oaks, Alzheimer’s Patient stood out in bold letters.

            Sondra held the woman’s soft hand in her own. She expected it to feel dry and wrinkled, but she swore if she closed her eyes those hands would feel like her grandson’s skin, smooth and soft. “Dorothy,” she whispered, “it’s ok.”

            At the sound of her name, Dorthea winced. “Dorthea Schmittendorf,” she said with a nod. “Dorthea.”

            Sondra smiled. It was not hard to put together what had brought Dorthea into the library. The Shady Oaks Retirement Home was only a few blocks away, and so she must have snuck past the front desk and wandered into her library. Looking at the ID bracelet once more, she wondered about the shortened version of Dorthea’s name, and thought that something like that was typical of an old age home that did not put their patients’ needs first, not even above the staff who most likely couldn’t be bothered to learn a name like Schmittendorf.

            Knowing that she would have to call the home and tell them where their missing patient was, Sondra decided that particular task could wait a few minutes. She got Dorthea settled, brought her some tea, and flipped through the pages of the book with her. After a while, Dorthea seemed to see the library for the first time. She smiled, and reached for her new friend’s hand. As their eyes locked, one set a deep brown and one milky blue, Dorthea spoke her first English words in months. “Thank you, my friend.”             Sondra squeezed Dorthea’s hand, and Dorthea squeezed back. In an instant, she was back in the Manhattan bookstore, with her new friend.

Clean Slate

Clean Slate

By Amy Sampson-Cutler

Published in Wow! Women on Writing. So honored to place second in this contest! Click here to read my story as well as the other amazing winners!!!!

My sister is the kind of person who, when she is mad at you—for even the slightest infraction—makes you feel like you don’t exist. Like you would do anything to make her like you again, because existing in a world where you are bending to please other people is still better than not existing at all.

My sister is the kind of person who could be taken in off the streets by strangers, and still find that their taste in decorating is terrible, and she would wash the stall before taking a shower, even if her own body was covered in filth.

My sister is the kind of person who refuses to go to church on Sundays, not because she doesn’t believe in God, but because she can’t stand someone else telling her how to believe.

My sister is selfish, and arrogant, and narcissistic, but if you tell her any of these things, you would have to throw yourself in front of a train because the thought of getting run over by a train—having your body ripped to shreds and your shoes found in a mangled mess in the woods somewhere—is somehow less frightening than telling someone what you think they most need to hear.

Because my sister thinks that she is kind and caring, if perhaps a bit smarter than some.

This is not how I think of my sister at all, but it is what she thought of me. Those words are the words she spoke to me, holding her head high as we walked through the city streets, having what was our last, and final, major fight.

After my sister spoke those words to me, she stepped out in front of a moving bus, the tiny silver elephant charm I got her for her 17th birthday torn from her ankle and crunched under squealing tires. While her pink converse shoes were not found in the woods, they were definitely missing when traffic was finally stopped, and I sank to my knees beside her body.

I wondered after if the bus was a fill-in for the train, if she stepped out into the street on purpose, or if she was just upset and not paying attention.

The converse, the bus, the blood on the sidewalk and in the street, and on my hands as I held her crumbled body, all meant one thing.

I was not a sister anymore.

I was none of the things that she thought I was, because something can’t exist if there is not someone to think it.

Fall 2020 edition of The Pitkin Review:

Fall 2020 edition of The Pitkin Review:

By Amy Sampson-Cutler

Tide

Is it that I come from the moon
that the ocean pulls me in
the sea calls my name
to wash my sins
restore me
give me faith

Where death is beautiful
and collected in the pockets of
small children
and the elderly

Pulling me toward them
pushing me away

Forbidden
yet so close

Published in The Pitkin Review, Fall 2020

Fall 2020 edition of The Pitkin Review:

Poetry

I was honored to have a poem published in the Fall 2020 edition of The Pitkin Review:

Tide

Is it that I come from the moon
that the ocean pulls me in
the sea calls my name
to wash my sins
restore me
give me faith

Where death is beautiful
and collected in the pockets of
small children
and the elderly

Pulling me toward them
pushing me away

Forbidden
yet so close

Published in The Pitkin Review, Fall 2020

Boy’s Best Friend

How Can I Write

How can I write today?

I write scary stories, but nothing is more frightening than what is happening in our country right at this moment. We thought the COVID virus was scary – but at least with the virus, it attacks us equally. It attacks us equally, but we may not survive it equally.

How can I write today?

To sit down in the safety of my home with the intention of being entertaining, when people outside don’t want entertainment. They want to feel safe. They want to be able to drive in their cars or go for a jog or even yes, even make a mistake, without feeling afraid for their lives.

How can I write today?

I feel helpless. We can protest and riot and scream and cry, we can call officials and beg for justice, we can hold hands or point fingers, we can sit in a silent prayer. But the record just spins around and around, one segment must be scratched, because no matter how beautiful the music is, the skip, the screech, always comes back around. You can repair and you can rebuild, but damage is damage. You can throw it away and buy a new record but sooner or later, that one will be damaged as well. Nothing remains unscathed.

How can I write today?

Writing – my kind of writing – won’t keep anyone safe. It won’t feed the hungry or shelter the homeless. It won’t heal anyone who is hurting. It won’t solve a damn problem. But it is the only tool in my arsenal. It is the only way for me to say: I hear you. I hurt for you. I am sorry the record is broken, I am sorry the beautiful sounds continue to be interrupted with fear, with horror, with sadness.

How can I write today?

How can I not.