Things Are Violent
A Short Story by K. L. Tabor
Written using the suggestion "Mind"
Originally featured on 03-10-2010
As part of our series "The Things We Change When We Want To Make That Big Change"

Fourteen and things are violent; at school, with friends, in life.

At large.

Just not at home.

Only not at home.

Things are violent to me.

Thoughts are violent to me.

People. Thoughts. I’m drinking now.

Not drinking much. And smoking.

Not smoking much.

But a bit more than before.

And then more again and other things. Lots of things. In attic rooms with our

Feet on the wall, with holes in our socks and nails painted red.

I look at you and you’re high too. And with you I fit.

I don’t fit. And the world doesn’t fit, and it’s in my head.

But that’s not the excuse. I’ve just been dumb.

Drink all the time. And now other stuff too.

Being a kid.

Cutting class.

Kissing boys.

Fucking boys.

I’m pregnant.


Smoking sherm and getting wet.

The baby dies.

School is gone.

Life is gray.

One job. Two jobs. Three jobs. More.


The apartment is new.

I’m fucking up.

Burns in the floor.

Did I pay the rent, or did I forget?

Things are gone. That couch is worn.

Another baby. I won’t fuck up

One boyfriend. Two boyfriends. Three boyfriends. More.

More jobs and more houses. The baby grows up and is gone. The years between go as well. And I only remember them by the mistakes.

Some good times too. But mostly not.


It took thirty years to get here. Will it take thirty years to undo?

I think and put the clothes in bags and clothes off the floor.

Bottles in bags and clean up the floor.

New job tomorrow and new shoes to wear.

Job training.


Counselor services are free at the Y

I go one time. Two times. Three times. More.

And then AA

I don’t like to pray.

Three more times

And call my daughter.

She lives in the south and cries when I call.

She comes for Christmas.

And this man is good. He goes daily to work and remembers to call.

New apartment, new job; no burns in the floor.

I look older than my stated age.



Counseling again.

Go four more times.

And make a new friend two buildings down who reads like I do and talks about stars.

And we sit in our socks on the porch, with our feet on the rails and watch cars go by.

And with you I am happy. And with you I am calm.

I don’t feel calm.  At life, at work.

At large.

Four more years. Five more years. Six more years. Ten.

And the old counselor is gone and another one comes who wears yellow shirts

And talks with a lisp.


My daughter is pregnant and calls daily from Texas.

One grandbaby. Two grandbabies. Three grandbabies. More.

Laid off from my job

And pains in my back.

From the things that are violent.

A life that is violent.

And shaded in grey.


Tired I lay down.

Alone in my bed.

And stay in my bed.

One week. Two weeks. Three weeks. More.

And say to myself that I must be all done.

Everything finished. And all years undone.

All better now.

I must be all better now.

I say from my bed

With my toes on the wall.

Read More By K. L. Tabor

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Portland Fiction Project

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