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“…he smiled at how two reckless kids whose paths kept crashing into each other, and other things after that too, had put together something beautiful…”

I was able to write more material than I had in quite some years during 2011. Though the focus is Blue Lines, it was a welcome and needed break from the editing process. I period that mixed both muse inspired writing and free writing on subjects that ranged from the past, to myself.
“Automatic, Devotion, Redemption, Masterpiece,” is a work that over four parts utilized the short story, and different types of poetry, to tell the story of young couple in works that are based on words supplied by friends on facebook. I wrote each piece of the story serial style that describes the evolution of their relationship over time, and during different periods.
“Automatic” is the first piece that begins with a change in their relationship, written as a simple straight forward short story.
“Devotion” is my favorite piece. This piece of prose written to sound as if it begins directly after “Automatic,” utilizing elements that are meant sound similar to the opening story. It is two poems weaved around each other to tell the story through two different voices, to culminate to a story eventually answers questions left in “Automatic.”
“Redemption,” continues their story utilizing a fragmented short story initially told from their different vantage points. It occurs much closer in time to “Devotion,” than the first two pieces. It answers some questions that the poem “Devotion,” could not explain.
“Masterpiece,” is a story, that I feel the picture in my head was not fully realized in the end result. It maintains the essential elements that I wanted to convey. Again, a short story that tricks the reader in to believing they are witnessing an event, that is actually something much different. In “Masterpiece,” the names of the characters are revealed.


Walking through the threshold, he vaguely remembered the house. Something had led him to board the flight and fly to his hometown, and aimlessly return to his childhood home. The woman allowed him into her home, though slightly wary of this stranger. Gone were the trees hiding the house from the street. The kitchen had been renovated, and the wall that separated it from the dining room that ran the expanse on the entry floor, was removed to allow for a modern update with stainless steel appliances and tile walls. Wood floors replaced the linoleum that greeted at the entrance, during his childhood.
“You used to live here son,” she asked trying to look into his weary eyes. A slight pain was evident in his eyes, yet she noticed a calm that settled him.
“Yes,” he answered. “The kitchen was half this size,” he admitted as he waved off her offer of a drink. He did not know what brought him back to this house that he had not visited in over the 20 years since they had moved away. Glancing toward the den, he recognized the floor to ceiling windows as they still looked out to familiar trees and Lake Lucerne. He grimaced remembering the adventure he and his friends would have running through the woods surrounding his home. He remembered the cold winter day that they took old wood planks that they had found and wrapping them with grocery bags thought they could create a floating raft. Within seconds the sinking at the crest of the lake proved them wrong.
“We used to feed to ducks,” he reminisced, and then recoiled. “I apologize ma’am, something drew me here, and my family no longer lives here. I will not take up more of your time,” he retreated making his way to the door. He extended his hand, to shake hers, and she returned a hug to him.
“I know you will be okay,” she offered. “I can see that you are fine with whatever it is.”
“Thank you again,” he smiled. He righted himself, and walked toward the familiar street, grabbing his phone and calling for a cab. The cool chill of October air, brushed against his face, as he waited at the street, not really cognizant of thoughts of the familiar homes.
“Airport,” he simply offered sitting down in the taxi, he leaned toward the window thinking of last night in Chicago.
“You know what,” she smiled sadistically, “Fuck you,” she smiled. “Fuck everything about you.” He did not know what to think of this latest outburst, her eyes were too inebriated to read. He was tired of the repeated inconsistency and settled into the lobby chair, grabbing his Belvedere martini just watching her.
It was always the same, he thought, he wasn’t worried whether he feel right in this relationship, because this would end tonight, she just did not know as of yet.
He motioned to the server, and paid the tab. She navigated the dark hallway to the bathroom, as he rose and made his way to W on North Lake Shore Drive. The air was refreshing as he had already made sure that her room was paid for, her drinks were paid for, she even had her return flight “home.” He just knew that was no longer home for him. He could not like her, but he did not hate her. Pulling his collar to his neck, he walked the slight expanse of East Ontario to Mag Mile to hail a taxi and head away from Chicago. He stopped for a moment at Timothy O’Toole’s, to grab a Sam Adams, and standing at his favorite Chicagoland pub, reached into his pocket and looked at the ring. He knew better when he purchased it, but he did “love” her, he thought he could believe the words she offered, the actions she showed him…but he had taken his last “mother fucker,” from her, and realized she would never be where he was. Again, he smiled, knowing that there was no pain.
“How ya been,” Sully asked, remembering him. “Where’s that pretty little thing of yours,” he asked. A shaken head, quickly answered the question.
“Thanks Sully, always good to see you,” he closed his tab. Walking up the stairs he made his way toward Mag Mile again. He did not know where he was going when he got to Midway, it was just away from her. Again, he was not going to leave her in a lurch, but he was leaving. And finally, she would have a reason to leave him alone…for good. He smiled again, feeling slightly guilty. “She probably doesn’t know I’m gone,” he whispered to himself. He was not worried, she would not care.

Returning from the restroom, she had planned to apologize. She had enough of her bearings she had faculties about her, she just always felt that the things done in the past, had threatened their future. When she did not see him, she sat believing he was in the bathroom. She motioned to order another drink, and said, “put it on our tab.”
“That’s closed,” she was answered. Fear shook her. “Closed, what are you talking about.”
“It’s closed, he left…and not going upstairs, he walked out.” Fear shook her again, her phone was upstairs. “What did I do,” she asked rhetorically remembering what she said. Just when she had thought she had got it right, she had possibly messed up again. She was not a person who showed her emotions publically, and luckily made her way to the empty elevator before the tears began to stream down her face. In the elevator and hotel that was made for initiating a night of hot steamy passion, she was racked with pain, fear, and regret. She could not even bring her mind to think ill of him, just about what she had done. She made it to her room, down the darkly lit hallway.
“Wherever, Whenever, Whatever,” she muttered, “FUCK YOU,” she yelled eyes still full of fire and tears. She opened the door, saw his bag still there, and had hope. She felt the cold room, and knew better as she stripped from her shirt and jeans, forgot her night clothes, and wrapped her nude form under the comforter around the brown furry pillow cube that he had laughed and called “fudge’em’s,” from an old Dominoes Pizza commercial during the mid-2000’s. Her tears ran uncharacteristically. Furious warm tears soaked the bed as she cried herself to sleep. She finally worked up the words.
“Fuck him,” she cried.

He was mad that he looked at his phone. He did not want to talk to anyone, and just looking to see whether he missed a call from earlier, irritated him. As he made his way back home, he was mentally formulating his plan to go home, gently pack her things, and take them to her place, put them away, and grab his stuff, leave her key and move on. He boarded his plane, feeling impatient. He knew that she had four more days in Chicago according to what he had set up. She would find someone new, and they would not need to play this game again. On the plane, his marathon two days allowed him to drift off to sleep. The Makers Mark, did not hurt. Finally making it to New York, he made his way to his condo, grabbing all her stuff, and packing it into his bag.
“I bought this,” he smiled grabbing her undergarments and laughing. Still he felt uneasy.
Taking a cab over he thought of the finality. He took solace that he did not have to deal with her after their last night together. He used his key, and took the stairs while unlatching her key from his ring. Still wearing the clothes from the night in Chicago, he traversed to the 8th floor. As he made it to the 6th floor, calm in his decision, his phone rang, it was her and him answering the call was automatic.
“I’m sorry baby,” she surprisingly apologized. He shook his head, relieved she was not in New York. He would drop her stuff off, go to The Smith, then intelligently go home alone.
“Yeah, okay, that’s fine. We just have proven we don’t belong together.” He shook his head, still annoyed he answered. He thought that at least leaving her thing there, with her key, he could move on. He would let her keep the key, he could change the key, and take her off the list for his doorman.
“No, I’m serious, I was wrong, I love you, please lets fix this,” she tried not to plead.
“I’m done,” he admitted, “I’m dropping your shit off now,” he refrained from censoring himself.
He unlocked the door, and she looked up at the threshold wearing his Adidas shirt and shorts. She placed her phone down, without disconnecting, and jumped into his arms, it was automatic. He dropped her bag and instinctively accepted her.
She wrapped him in her fresh body. He, still grimy from Chicago and surprised by her being home accepted her into his arms. He removed his shirt and shorts, and breathed in her scent. He threw her against the wall. This woman he was over, he took her automatically. She cried like she had only once in front of him. He stroked her hair and neck as he knew that everything he told himself was gone right now, as he made love to the woman who still did not know that he was on the verge of proposing to her.
Their love was unfortunately real and automatic.

They still shone as bright as they did that first day,

She curled in the chair Sunday morning,
His old shirt wrapped her so,
Pulled down wrapping her legs, stretching,
Unseasonably warm rain rapped her balcony window,
Sipping her coffee,
She with eyes closed,
Glancing at the tickets lying on the floor,
She remembered, looked toward her bedroom door,

The setting surprised and amazed her, he, unaware that night,

The night, a faint memory this year and a half later,
He took her like he never had before,
And never would again, did he hate her,
Time allowed her to enjoy, but she knew,
She had finally been ready,
Her new place allowed freedom, something new
Their love right,
Silenced that night,

She had not touched it in some time and wondered whether he knew,

The sun had set, like her glow before,
He grimaced while sipping the bitter tea,
As his last day here ticked for-ward,
Thinner than when he arrived,
He was less adventurous eating here,
Content when he had to decide,
His happy solitude was immense,
Soon this excursion would end,
Returning “home,”

The light made it sparkle brilliantly, she noted the care in design,

Something was different today,
Told him he could take the tickets,
She cancelled her date,
Barefoot, she walked and leaned looking searching,
She had not spoken to him since that night,
Stubborn, Proud, Strong…longing,
The sky still misty, two hands wrapped her coffee, now cool,
Pale from no sun, at the window, standing,
Strangely, she felt, anticipation, hope, even fleeting happiness,
Today something was changing,
Her heart lifted, her thoughts pleasing, she smiled full of giddiness,

Opening a box with weathered edges, peering at it, she marveled how she here with this gift, but not the giver,

Quietly he ducked into his old haunt, The Smith fully packed,
Hair long and bushy under his hat, beard full,
He found a nice place, incognito, eyes lowered, hidden in the back,
Happily familiar, after his long voyage,
He settled in for a quick meal,
Oblivious to the world around him, on no ones stage,
And then,

She placed it on her finger, it overwhelmed her, he never asked, she never answered,

Hi, she greeted, her heart full of,
His eyes were deeper, even in the dark,
His surprise more evident,
Placing her hand on the table,
Revealing her theft, though she had repeatedly stolen more,

The ring was perfect, as he had planned that time long ago,

How did you know I was coming,
How did you know I was here,
Your eyes are beautifully shining,
Unexpectedly, I’m glad that you’re here

She simply answered


To an unasked question,
Chicago a memory,
He thought back to the inscription,
Vaguely remembered,

Wearing it for the first time she read aloud the words he had thoughtfully had inscribed,

He said them aloud from memory,

“My heart and Devotion are only for you.”

“…you don’t, you don’t, you don’t see me
At all…”

The music played in the background, as she returned from upstate New York. She needed a break after the last few months feeling as if she had prove herself everyday to make him believe her. Although peaceful, she slowly began t realize that she knew so little of him. They spent time together, granted years off and on together, but he seldom spoke of himself or work.
Their previous relationship consisted of fights, her exasperation, and him questioning her. But the one constant was his interest in her, what she did, how her days went. Upon his return, and her happening across him at The Smith, he had been at peace. She still did not know why he had not called, or where he went. She glanced upon her finger, remembering the one night she had worn the ring. The dreary northern day did not agree with her disposition as she traversed back toward the city and her apartment. His ring tone came up and she answered.
“Hey,” half-heartedly, “how are you?”
“Fine,” he answered in a tone she found cold, “where are you?”
“Just took a drive, I’m on my way back now. I miss you,” she offered in a tone that she felt he did not believe. It was disconcerting to her to feel this way. His devotion to her was always evident. She knew she could do no wrong by him, in the past. Now he seemed so distant, like a stranger, yet so peaceful, and easy with her…non-committal.
“Alright, I’ll be late tonight. You can come by my place, if you want, and then we can grab a bite.”
“That’s fine,” she replied while disconnecting. Her eyes weary, burning wanting to release tears, though she knew she would not. “I don’t know,” she questioned herself as reached for her Starbucks mug. She had planned to stay home.

He continued to plug away in his office. Her voice was a nice reprieve, though he was not sure of their future. His wants remained the same, but those few months made him a different man. He knew that he had abandoned her, twice actually, but the man he was today was contingent on it, and it depended on whether she could understand that who she was, allowed him to leave, and who he is now, was something he needed. He smiled at their picture, at a game, that still sat on his desk. It was from before, her smile wide, he happy with her. He still not regained much of his weight, his time overseas had taught him to eat better, and with his workout regimen, he could not put weight back on.
“I have to get this settled,” he whispered, knowing he did want to see her tonight. He buried his head into his computer, knowing that he was preparing for more time for them. He reached for his coffee, and glanced out the window. New York was cold and ugly today.

“Hey,” the phone answered with a familiar voice. “I still don’t appreciate how you left me ass sitting out there,” was the first thing she heard, she did not even know why she answered.
“What do you mean,” she answered irritated. “Those were my Giants tickets, and I still gave them to you. Fuck is your problem?”
“They’re not even yours,” he responded.
“No they’re not, they belonged to my man, and he wasn’t here, which should make you feel like more of a bitch telling me why you don’t appreciate me. You know what, why the fuck did I even answer this call.”
“He must not have done his job, if you came to me.” She listened to those words and thought.
“I’ve been fucking this up,” she whispered barely audible on the call. She looked at her reflection in her rear view mirror, and she realized prior to his leaving, she had put in little work. He was still here for her now, but she knew he could easily leave. He left her alone in Chicago, though she realistically knew she was taken care of, she knew that he left her in New York, and disappeared with out a trace. She questioned whether they would last, so now she knew she had to fight. It shocked her that he was not mad about the ring, however it also shocked her that he still had not asked her to marry him. He was what she wanted, and she knew it allowing her to smile widely. She sipped her coffee again.
“So why you gotta be like that, wanna meet up?”
“I didn’t make a mistake when I met you,” she admitted, “it was fun, and something was missing.”
“What you man, being a man,” he chastised. She sat back, and took solace that she never told him about their relationship.
“My man was gone, did you ever see me needing anything from you? Did I ask you for money, could you pay for game tickets? We were friends, while he was gone, and I didn’t know he was coming back. We had fun, but you were that, fun.”
“I need to come…”
“No,” she interrupted. “He’s a man, I messed up enough times, but you can’t even measure up. You can understand this, we’re not going to speak again, you just showed me what I did wrong. Bye,” she disconnected. Her smile widened.

He actually looked forward to meeting her tonight. She had left a note at his condo directing him to meet her at The Smith. He knew that she questioned herself now, but looking at their past, only she could rectify that. As he navigated to the table where they had happened across each other those months ago, he sat and smiled.
“Hey,” Carly, their server greeted, “good to see you guys will be her tonight. Where is she?”
“On her way,” he grimaced. He thought about how Carly had not worked their prior to his research trip with his job. But she was there the first night he came back from Japan.
He looked up, and like a fallen angel, she walked back through the door. Their table was directly in sight of the door, to the back, on the side of the bar. The room was dark, and he looked up at her.
“Hi,” she greeted with a kiss, her girlish grin renewed. Her hands looked preoccupied as she smiled at him. “Are we okay,” she asked without the timidity of the last few months. “I’ve been with you, but I miss you,” she admitted.
“Do you miss the fights,” he asked evenly, “do you miss the sex,” he smiled, “no you don’t miss that. Do you…”
“I just miss you,” she interrupted, “I just want to know that I can still be who you loved…who you love. I’ve made a lot of mistakes. You didn’t stop me.” He smirked. “I just want,” her voice broke, “I just want to know you. I know where you work, I know where you’re from, but I realize I’m, more …”
“You didn’t want to know before,” he offered. “You don’t have to worry about me,” he smiled. “I learned some things, but I’m here.”
“Do you love me,” she asked bluntly, fortunate the dark hid her simmering emotions. “When you were gone…”
“When I was gone doesn’t matter. Whatever we have, began when you found me here, and whatever we have continues or ends starting there,” he offered in a way that made her believe him fully.
“I love you,” she offered.
“I know,” he responded content.
“I wouldn’t be here if I didn’t believe you. I was here when you screwed up bad enough that I left you…alone. I was surprised you recovered from that. I wasn’t willing to give you what I had in the past, and left with my job after you surprised me at your old place.
“What you don’t realize is that you have found your redemption. Your confidence may not be where it was, but that is because you did that to yourself. I love you,” he admitted. “You are my heart, you are redeemed. You have to carry that, because if you don’t, your failure is on you.” She did not know whether to smile, or frown. “This isn’t another chance, this is believing you’ve grown up.”
She had a tinge of irritation before Carly returned with two glasses and a bottle.
“I know you have been wondering about this for some time, especially since I came back.”
Confusion filled her mind.
“May I have the box you brought back,” she shook that he knew what was concealed in her pocket. She had planned to pull a surprise on him, however reluctantly handed him the worn box.
“When I first wanted to do this, we were not ready. I wanted to save you, you wanted to be married. You were willing to continue to be wrong, I thought I was happy to have you, and could take it…I could not. You wanted to be married, you knew you could marry me, I just wanted to save us.
“I still want you, I still love you, but now is right. You have walked a road, and found redemption in my heart. You can still mess this up, but I believe in you, and that you won’t. Will you…”
And like she had said those months before, she answered before he could finish his ask, “YES.”

Lynn reset herself, she had been around this before, and knew to let the experts do their jobs. The planner had everything set. The flowers were fine, the timeline was moving along, she had no worries. She glanced over as the photographers snapped away with impunity, a laugh settled in her stomach, but she chose not to voice it.
“Tonight will be everything we planned for,” she smiled widely.
“Are you okay,” Rosa burst into the room, baby in arms, surprised at Lynn’s calm demeanor.
“I’m perfect,” she responded holding Rosa’s hand in hers. “So is Elena, I’m just going to need you to be calm,” she smiled taking the child from her arms. “Maybe you need a glass of wine.”
Lynn, smiled, while thinking back those few years, reminiscing on the happy moments, the breakups, the arguments, her slight proposal, and his real proposal some time after. She marveled at New York, and their favorite haunt The Smith, and now the realization of everything they had wanted materialized before them. She sat back amazed. She and Anthony had succeeded she smiled again knowing that today was evidence of that.
Anthony checked his watch again, as he sat with the tuxedo pants, suspenders and a t-shirt on, he would wait until closer to the ceremony to redress. It was seasonably warm, and he had finished his first series of photographs. He thought of how this moment may have been missed, and about how Lynn had fought for him after just being along for the ride. We were kids, he laughed. Thirty year old kids.
“Would you like some water,” he was asked and gladly accepted. He stood up to peruse the expanse outside.
“Nothing more beautiful than an outdoor wedding,” and as the sun shone brightly over the lime green grass and hills he realized that weather would not interrupt this day.
“Here you are,” he accepted the water, sipped it and smiled. “I wonder how Lynn is right now,” he whispered not expecting a response.
“Fine,” he was answered. “You know her, she’s so calm.” Anthony laughed at that description. He remembered a time that calm would be the last word one would use to describe his beloved. Her eyes were once so full of uncontrollable fire, the two of them both were, just in a race to find themselves and realize their shared wants, needs, love. He smiled broadly again. It was as it had been, and always seemed to be, they were always in tune, always had the same wants and needs, it had just taken some time to fine-tune them.
He sipped the water again, smiling at this thing they were putting together. He looked at the watch on his wrist, and decided to redress just in the case that something unexpected arose. “Wow, here we go again,” he smiled on thinking of this next step.

Lynn sat as the finishing touches were applied. She pined for Anthony, as she had when they first met. His heart seemed to get more pure over the years.
“We’re ready,” her brief solace was interrupted. She stood, reset her dress and followed the wedding planner through the door and waited to be staged in preparation for the afternoon’s events. She gazed at Elena, who’s shared her calm. Rosa was still on edge, and Lynn kissed her cheek.
“It’s okay,” she tried to calm.

The processional began, as the family was escorted through the arch to the chairs draped in white lace sitting on pristine grass. The vineyard with accompanying golf course set the perfect placid scene for today. Moving like clockwork, the bridesmaids and groomsmen took their places. Anthony stood, and watched for her to appear. His heart had already jumped once today, and now he awaited the beautiful bride.

Elena, emerged from the grotto that sat near a pond a small distance from the archway. Walking forward, lucky enough to have both of her grandfathers flanking her sides she was escorted to the arch. Anthony’s chest was tight as he looked upon his elegant daughter wearing the dress that he marveled at on his and Lynn’s wedding day, he smiled at his father and father-in-law as he took his daughters arm. She smiled at him with her red lips, looking like the image of Lynn from their special day.
“I love you,” she kissed his cheek, and the two crossed the threshold of the arch.
“Setembro,” the Brazilian wedding song that they had entered to on their wedding was played by the band, as he thought about his “baby” girl being married. Rosa had gotten married 2 years ago, and today his youngest daughter would be. Ant Jr. was still in school, and far removed from this day. Anthony smiled, wishing the best for his daughter, and also appreciative that both of his daughter’s journey did not mirror that of he and his beloved wife.

Anthony looked across the seating area and caught the eye of his wife. Smiling at Lynn, and glancing at the youngest of his daughters he reflected on how lucky he was. Rosa was the intelligent conservative of the two, while Elena had been the precocious inquisitive little girl. He would look at her, always sitting swinging her little legs as they watched the game, and thought, “you are your parent’s daughter.” She was the perfect representation of both of them. When Ant Jr. was born, she grew to become more responsible. However, Anthony, though focused on Elena today, glanced at his son sitting behind Lynn, and over to Rosa crying as her sister’s Matron of Honor, he smiled at how two reckless kids whose paths kept crashing into each other, and other things after that too, had put together something beautiful.
And he looked upon what they had masterfully put together. Their beautiful family, their amazing past, and an unknown but stable future. He marveled at their handiwork.
Mind you, Anthony loved their journey, but would never wish their lives upon his children. He briefly sniffed, and regained his composure. As Elena saw her future husband, her steps became hesitant. He squeezed her hand, and she felt his strength and continued on. And as he looked up from his daughter, he caught the gaze of Lynn, and always in love with her, fell again as if it was that day many years ago.

Sitting in class, he looked up, and saw her eyes, they knew…their life was a Masterpiece.

The manuscript Blue Lines is the fictional coming of age narrative of a young California woman Key Yemaya Walker, and her 2 year growing journey through school, love, and life period piece, written by Kenneth Suffern, Jr., taking place at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill between the years of 1997 – 1998. Loosely based on true events, and experiences during that time, told through the eyes and voice of the main female protagonist, a freshman first attending the school.