The Beginning of the End

The Beginning of the End: Or is it? Erin Murphy Have you ever went out to eat alone? If so, did you ever notice right after you tell the host “Just one,” and you’re led to a specific section of the restaurant (which is most likely an area designated for new members of the waitstaff due to their lack of experience and incapability of handling large parties) what happens next? Most often than not, the host will remove the other place setting and silverware from the table. They’ll perform this action violently almost, and it’s not because they’re angry. It’s because they’re focusing on advertising the current restaurant specials. They’re focusing on delivering the dialogue correctly, just the way their manager instructed, and they are completely unaware that even the right words still make them sound robotic. So they rip the other place mat away, attempting to maintain their integrity as a hard worker while conserving place mats and silverware, and they fail to notice your reaction. I remember one time specifically, I was on my way home from a coworkers house in Haledon, New Jersey. Working odd restaurant hours myself, I used to forget necessities of living like eating on a regular basis. It was 3 A.M as I pulled out of my work friend’s neighborhood and I realized I was starving. Well fuck, I can’t go home. There’s nothing but UTZ chips and refrigerator cereal at my house. For those of you who don’t know me, my Father […]

Continue Reading →

Passing out Flyers

Passing out Flyers Downtown on a Saturday Erin M. Murphy On the night I visited 11 Walton Street for the first time (the same night I agreed to rent a $400 tiny room in a ghetto neighborhood), the dog behind his fence and Michael Tree weren’t the only living beings I met when I arrived. Steven was also here, and I learned later his father is the one who actually owns the Walton house. Steven stood there on the back porch in darkness with his long black hair and checkered pajama pants. Even with the lack of lighting (which is more eerie now looking back than I remember it feeling then—considering I was standing with two strangers…in a junkyard…in the ghetto…) I could still make out traces of mysterious hair attached to his pants. They were thick, white, animal-like hairs just dangling there against the patches. As far as stereotypes go, Steven looked like a stoner. Back then I wasn’t aware that most people here in Asheville rarely fall under stereotypical categories regardless of their appearances. They’re all different from what one might initially suspect, yet they’re all the same too. Despite these facts, I was right. Steven is most definitely a stoner. “Hey, if you’re not doing anything tomorrow and would like to hand out flyers for me Downtown, I’ll get you a free ticket to my show tomorrow night.” Steven told me. Being that he just witnessed me agree to rent a random room after only three minutes […]

Continue Reading →

My Cousin’s Wedding

My Cousin’s Wedding Erin M. Murphy I arrived at Cocoa Beach around 5:30 A.M and the sun was just about to rise. Sitting there on the beach, watching the birth of a new day set me into a trance. I thought about how many people, even me, often fail to appreciate the beauty of this world we inhabit. I thought about photography and how it might be the hardest form of art known to man. It’s nearly impossible to recreate something as beautiful as an ocean’s dawn through the snap of a picture. It would take an extremely talented photographer to recreate even a fraction of the feelings I felt sitting there in the sand that morning. Watching the clouds trail across the horizon in thick puffs of patterns shaped like people, it reminded me of “heaven”. It made me think of my friend who passed away. I imagined him up there amongst the puffy pattern people and I fixed my eyes on a cloud that could have resembled my old friend if I squinted my vision hard enough. I wonder if that’s how it works. I wonder if the ones taken away from us spend the early morning hours sitting on the horizon waiting to greet the sun. Then when it finally rises, they float upward away from the golden light and yield to its every need. Maybe the temporary shade of a summer day on the beach is merely the sun taking a lunch break and the clouds […]

Continue Reading →

Couch Surfing vs. Feeding the Homeless

Couch Surfing vs. Feeding the Homeless   It’s Thursday night and I just walked through the front door to find a young girl holding a guitar in her lap sitting across from a tattoo faced man with half his ear missing, both on the kitchen floor. “Oh good you came! I’m Erin,” I shook their hands. They were finishing up the dinner my roommate cooked. “Should I go out to pick up some beer?” I asked. “We were just talking about that. I was saying I think I’m too full to drink anymore,” the young girl was sincere as she looked up in the direction of my face. “Well, I’m going to run out to get some. I was gonna on the way home, but I got distracted. Do ya’ll need anything else?” Did I just say ya’ll? Fuck, I did. “No, we’re okay!” I walked across the front junkyard to my car and thought about how different it felt, actually EXPECTING guests for once. It was nice, almost. Hours earlier, my roommates told me they invited some random street people over for dinner on a whim. These people had a sign that read: “We’re hungry.” There’s a difference in EXPECTING strangers to be in the middle of the house when you arrive home, and there’s a difference between offering dinner to the homeless and hosting couch surfers. My brief education on couch surfing has taught me that those sort of guests, the “couch surfers” that is, are expected to […]

Continue Reading →

Full Moons and Fickle Hearts

Full Moons and Fickle Hearts “I saw you there the first night, and I wanted to know you. Ask my roommate. I said, that girl dancing, I need to know her. Then you came again last Sunday and I couldn’t believe it. I was nervous. It took me a couple of drinks to gain the courage to talk to you. I don’t even remember what I said.” “You sat down next to me and I complemented your tattoos. Tattoos aren’t my thing. But you have one of a tree on your forearm that reminds me of home. It’s beautiful and detailed and real.” I traced his forearm with my index finger. “And you have another tree on your leg, a Truffula tree. Dr. fucking Suess. It took me a few minutes to notice that one too, but once I did I thought to myself ‘shit. this guy might actually understand.’” He laughed. He didn’t understand. “Then what did I say?” “You showed me the other one you have on your chest. A girl’s name. Jade. Inside a heart on top of your heart. Then I ate the pickles off of your dinner plate.” “I’m sorry. Did I tell you the story behind that?” “Sort of, but I was a bit distracted by the dancing.” “Well…” “Shhh. Here, hold on. I have this thing in my purse. Here. Write it in here.” I sat there for a couple seconds watching him write an answer to a question I wrote in one […]

Continue Reading →

The Beginning

“Well that’s what they get for moving into a black neighborhood.” I woke up hearing talk between two men in a yard across the street. They were cleaning the front lawn of the previous tenant who had recently been evicted for “gang violence”. I thought Asheville was made up of a bunch of drum playing hippies. I parted the blinds with my right index and middle finger (GREATER THAN. That’s what my fingers look like, if I remember correctly, although math is one of the things I’ve always failed at), as I squinted through tired eyes to get a visual. Bryce. One of them is Bryce. I just met him a couple of days ago when I was sitting on the porch reading Bukowski. He’s from Burlington, Vermont. “Oh, are you the artist?” Bryce asked. “Uh, I don’t think so. I just came here from New Jersey yesterday.” “Look at that mess over there.” He said, referring to the pile of garbage left behind by the evicted. “It doesn’t bother me that much. I’m an easy neighbor to have around. If you need anything, let me know.” I said. “You like to party?” Bryce said. “Sometimes.” “Well then, if you need anything you let ME know.” Wait, what does that mean? And that was the last time I heard his voice until now. I watched them lift the trash for half a moment, then let both of my fingers relax against the blinds so they could get busy rubbing at […]

Continue Reading →

A Prologue to the Beginning of the Beginning

A Prologue to the Beginning of the Beginning I just drove eleven hours away to become something extraordinary and I’m sitting inside The Waffle House wiping boogers with my sleeve, trying to stop myself from crying. What the fuck is this, I kept thinking to myself while I combed my fork through an unknown substance at the corner of my plate. The bacon and two eggs over-easy appeared normal, but I was too distracted by this gray, foreign, gunk to take a bite of anything. My stomach continued to shoot vibrating ammunition up and down the right side of my torso which I was sure could be heard by everyone in the restaurant. I’m starving but these are not hash browns. Whatever they are, it reminds me of all the terrible infections I’ve googled throughout the years on nights I believed I was dying. Poking at the diseased plate, I kept choking down tears and hoping that the waitress wouldn’t recognize my misery. But she’s a waitress. She knows misery. I ate all of the bacon and some of the eggs, then paid eight dollars. Jumping down from the counter stool, I pulled at my sun dress to make sure my ass wasn’t showing. “Oh you mean that twig of a thing from New Jersey that cries like a baby and prances around half naked?” I envisioned them saying in their southern accents after I left. I got into my car and started the engine as if I were in […]

Continue Reading →

A Bloomsburg Story (The Only One I’ll Tell)

  A Bloomsburg Story   “Oh, you went to Bloomsburg? My nephew goes there.” Some bald-headed man questioned as I was about to exit the deli. Other than the bleach stained Bloom-U sweatshirt, I was wearing the same lime green leggings I woke up in that morning along with paint covered boots. It was near noon on a Tuesday, but I looked like the product of a sloppy Saturday night. Devouring the bagel sandwich tucked under my arm was the only concern on my mind and I almost pretended not to hear the strange man. But I’ve never been any good at ignoring people and even a deep love for bagel sandwiches couldn’t change this part of my character. I turned and told him, “Yes but I transferred sophomore year. Back in 2010.” “Well why’d ya do that? My nephew loves it! Beautiful campus.” I listened to the brown paper bag crinkle under my palm as my nerves took over. I stared at the little bald stranger’s face and tried to remember. *** We were walking back from the Bloomsburg Fair as I crossed my eyes in an attempt to see the surface of my nose. I wanted to know if the sun was casting shadowy patterns through the holes of my new cowgirl hat. I could have asked Robert but I didn’t. I preferred the unpleasant sensation of making my eyeballs go crooked into my skull over such a thought. We walked next to each other on Main Street. […]

Continue Reading →

Allergies before Alligators

Allergies before Alligators As soon as winter ends and the first bird begins singing, the rest of the world slowly starts to join the song. You begin noticing people outside of their homes, wearing gardening gloves while tending to yard work. Soon they are everywhere, teaching children to ride bikes and going for jogs on the main roads. It’s fascinating what a season of bitter coldness does to society. Hibernation becomes necessary because freezing temperatures cause discomfort. Then as soon as the sun decides to share its warmth again, the world comes back to life. My allergies have been bad the past couple of days. I’ve never had allergies before, or maybe I was just too distracted to ever notice. But since the weather has changed and the air has grown more inviting, the pounding in my head has grown too. I’m allergic to sprouting life. I’m allergic to the world’s blossoming beauty. Perhaps that is the purpose of allergies. Physical consequences of a new season that force us to remember the one that came before. Maybe allergies are the world’s way of reminding us that even in the dead of winter we were still alive. The cold didn’t make our brains pound, or our insides itch. It simply made us uncomfortable, and we chose to hide from it. *** Levon just messaged me and asked what I was doing before our plans this evening. “Writing.” I told him. “I should have known.” He wrote back.  Tonight we are going […]

Continue Reading →

Levon, Andrea, and a Disney Princess

Levon, Andrea, and a Disney Princess   I arrived late because I spent the majority of that day trying to write a story. Levon invited me to drink beer at the fire pit by his lake around 6 P.M. It was now 10, and I fumbled as I tried to carry two six packs while navigating. Where’s James when you need him?, I thought. I was wearing the same outfit I’d been wearing that morning, the same pair of jeans I’d worn all winter, and a faded green button-up that my Mom may have purchased for me back in seventh grade. I was also wearing glasses that I recently bought but had already been scratched. I have terrible vision along with no sense of smell and trouble hearing, and sitting in front of a computer screen all day made my contact lenses prune out of my head. So I squinted out of my glasses that were scratched, while I carried the six packs. I wondered if the scratch was as noticeable as it seemed. “Whoa, why is there a huge mark in the shape of a tree on your glasses?” I pictured them saying. “Sex. I wear a lot of bracelets and sex.” I would answer. I stood in front of the house. I was sure it was the right address, but I heard whistling from somewhere else. “Come down by the lake!” shouted Levon’s voice. Hoping for the best, I walked through the woods without most of my senses. […]

Continue Reading →