Of true submission

“Most people think the best way to live is to run from pain. But a much more joyful life embraces the entire spectrum of human feeling.” – Lee Holloway, Secretary

I gave you a copy of Secretary. Said you were my E Edward Grey. You watched and said I’m not sure how I feel about that, because you thought I meant your kinks, when what I really meant was how you feared them.

I recognised the concerted effort, the slight tremble that comes with pushing it down. The hardened surface, the closing off. And the way it would all suddenly crack apart when it became too much – this strange tenderness that grew in the dark between us.

You were my Mr. Grey. Battling hard against the force of my submission. Only a fool would think it wasn’t brave – this laying down, this baring all. The way you said it’s different with you, and I could finally get you to make that rare sound of ragged breath, and your return.

(Only, I wonder now you are gone. Just where did my surrender take you?)

I kept my hands flat on the table for as long as I could, you know. Like the fierce and determined Lee I was completely sure of my love. I thought it could play in the shadows, give off a different kind of light. The hardest thing I ever did was finally lift my hands.

It remains my one act of true submission.

Maggie Gyllenhaal Secretary

Reposting one of my very early pieces that helped me map out the relationship between Maggie and Mack. As I send off a submission of a different kind today, I feel some kind of wonder at how The Memory of Stars grew out of these interludes, and just how much history this little blog contains.

With my body (lay me down)

The only truths I ever told were with my body, Mack.

Every time I laid us down.

The sincerity of the body has been much maligned by the idea that words are more honest than a beating heart. This is what I have learned since then, that my body knew us better. Every confession it ever made, those revelations in your arms. That was the truth of our seven years together.

The history of us that deserves to be told.

(Can I lay by your side. And make sure you’re alright)

So much art that comes from the breaking ~ just look at what you gave me.

Things already broken

“The first kind of woman? To deal with the fear, the loss of control – well, she sets about breaking things, herself. Before anything can break around her. She does the breaking, so that she is never, ever let down again. She builds a life around broken parts.

The other kind? Well she looks for things already broken. She only ever sees the damage. And she spends her life trying to repair it. To repair people, their sadness and their grief. She puts people back together, creates a mosaic from their stories and their sorrow. She finds broken people and tries to love them back to something whole.

That’s her fear, her control. If she can love something back together, it means nothing is lost, nothing is too far gone for saving.” ~ Alice, Into the After

Shelter from the rain

Image: Beth Priestly

Until I wake up


It is something to watch a man die. It is something to have been the last touch, the last      connection to life. I don’t think I believe in God or heaven. But I feel that I’m tied to Benjamin Mackintosh all the same. When he interrupted Adam’s assault, he traded his life for mine, and that makes me responsible for the life Benjamin will not get to live, as much as for his death. I talk to him about this as if we are old friends, old souls who have found themselves with an odd, explicit connection. When I talk to Benjamin, I feel like I just might make it through the day.

I want to know more about him. I have the images and stories that have been shared by the press, stories of a man who loved sports and good wine, and his family and faith. But those things I could have guessed, they could be attributed to any man of his age and standing. I want to know why he stopped. I want to know what he was thinking as he rounded that bend, what last thought gave way to instinct when he saw Adam close his fingers on my throat. Was it work, love, sex? Some dream or some regret he’d slept over the night before? Was he happy in those last moments of his life? Before he gave it over for mine? These are the things I want to know. These are the things I would ask of his grieving widow, or his mother, or his stoic, sharp-nosed brother who shows up in the news so often now.

Tell me something about the man you loved. Let me hold on to who he was, so that I can let go of what it was to watch him die.

Benjamin, what do you say? Are you ever going to answer me? Were you a good man, a happy man? I have known so few in my life. I have messed everything up, I don’t think I even know what a good man is, let alone a happy one. I have hours and days to consider this now, as I wait for my body to heal. My mother retreats to her books and soap operas each afternoon – we don’t talk, and she doesn’t ask questions, not even the ones I might like to answer. So I think about you, Benjamin. Correction. I think about us. The pair we have become. I dress, and then slip back under the covers to think about us, until it is late enough to take another blue pill. And then I dream us. Those last, suspended moments played out over and over. Until I wake up and begin again.