"Now I feel as if I’m dreaming,” she thought, “a beautiful, confusing dream!"

stories

Kathleen Marasciulo

Of herself and her life, Kathleen writes: “We are all lucky enough to be unique individuals, and it’s a gift that no two people are exactly alike. What makes me unique is my colorful personality. I am very ‘chameleon-like,’ in that I am able to easily adapt to my given surroundings. I also have a heart that stretches beyond my body and is full of overflowing love. I treasure love and naturally gravitate to positive thoughts and energy. I enjoy meeting new people and have even been told that I am a great listener. I find myself fascinated by the wonder of the world, and people surely add to the beauty and uniqueness of it. This is especially true considering [that in] the vast scheme of things, we humans are just a small part of the enormousness of this home we call earth. With my colorful personality comes a love of writing, reading and listening to music. I’m proud to be an English major at West graduating by fall next year. I’m grateful to be a mom of two beautiful boys and a wife to my beautiful wife. We all happily reside together with our dog Trixie, our cats Scout and Dasher, our two turtles, two toads, four fish and a frog.”

Other Work:


Melissa & Jen

Oh the air is finally crisp! It’s been far too hot for fall. This is such a nice change from the way it’s been. Melissa felt the cool air coming in through the window in the dressing room as she applied mascara to her lashes as she got ready to go dance.

She’s a bank teller by day and a dancer at night. She had to figure out some other way to pay off all her debt while raising her daughters alone. She wasn’t proud of this job by any means and only her best friend Sam knows about it. Everyone else thinks she’s bartending like she did back in college. But as she puts it, the girls will have a proper education and the bills will get paid long before her looks fade.

As her cigarette burns away in the ashtray, Cindy boastfully talks to some of the other girls about where she’s been and who she’s been there with; insinuating it’s been the high-tipping guy who’s been frequenting the club. The bragging and embellishing continues as the girls get ready. Melissa listens at a distance and knows this is a path of destruction because she’s witnessed it before with Jody. She was a dancer at another club who started seeing some of the customers only to end up dead by some crazy drug lord from Vegas. “This business is crazy, and thank goodness I’m not in it forever!” she thought. Ted, the owner, yelled through the door, “Five more minutes, Cindy, and you’re on.”

“Oh, alright Ted ,and fuck you, too,” she replied.

The group of girls with Cindy giggled at the wisecrack. “He thinks he can come over here and demand that I jump through hoops whenever he says; he’s got a lot to learn about me!” she tells them.

“It’s not going to be funny when your ass gets canned,” Melissa chimed in.

“Oh please, Melissa, just because you’re screwing Ted’s daughter doesn’t give you any authority,” Cindy whined.

Jen was already in the dressing room and overheard the whole conversation among the girls. “Hey, Cindy, you’re on,” Jen said. They all looked in bewilderment as if a ghost were in the room, obviously not expecting Jen to have heard every word. “And for the record, there is no dating the customers! Got it?” exclaimed Jen.

“Oh yes, thanks Jen, I’m going on now,” Cindy hurried on.

Jen was rubbing Melissa’s shoulders as Cindy passed by to head on the stage. The rest of the girls dispersed and continued getting ready at their stations.

“I want to take you out to lunch tomorrow. What time can I come by and pick you up?” Jen asked Melissa. “Call me in the morning. I’m not sure if I’m going at twelve or at one tomorrow,” said Melissa. “Okay, sounds good—love you,” Jen said as she kissed her on the forehead. “Love you too,” Melissa responded.

Jen left. She has another job at another club her father owned. This is not the life Jen wants, either. By day she’s a graphic designer, and by night, a dance wrangler at two clubs. She’s not as feminine as Melissa, but she’s not butch either. Neither of them would classify themselves that way. It’s just love. They were attracted to each other immediately from the moment they laid eyes on each other.

When Melissa’s shift was over and it was finally time to go home, she could hardly wait. It’s an exhausting couple of days when she pulls two jobs and also juggles being a mom. She undresses, takes off her wig and her press-on nails, and removes her make-up at the club, and then throws on some sweats for the walk over to the bar where her car is. She parks two blocks away at the pseudo bar she works at. This way if any of her friends come by looking for her at the bar, her car is there and the bartenders got her back and they know to call her. It’s close enough that she could always play it off if she had to.

* * *

You could see that the black nail polish on her fingernails was worn and chipped as she pressed her small hands up against the wall adjacent to the alley. She wasn’t sure what he wanted or was going to do to her, but she listened to his instructions so far. “Stop moving around,” he instructed. “I’m not exactly comfortable here!” she screeched. Then she felt the cold barrel of his gun push up against the side of her neck, and he asked if that was any better. The thoughts in her head were racing around as pellets of sweat dripped from her hairline as she got increasingly more and more nervous of what was going to happen next. He smelled of gasoline and cigarettes, and his voice was dry and agitated.

“What do you want?” she demanded. He burst out into hysterical laughter that was both shocking and nauseating, and she could feel the unsteadiness of his hand as the gun moved haphazardly around her neck and head. “Stop it!” she cried as tears mixed with sweat ran down her face.

“Oh, shit lady, I’m not going to shoot you. Just stop moving around, and as soon as my bros get back we’ll be out of your hair,” he said in a rather disgruntled tone.

“Just let me go now! I don’t know anything! Let me go! I want to go home!” she cried.

Suddenly her world went black, and she was in and out of consciousness, lying on the ground. She was afraid to move. “Am I alone? Am I wounded? Is there blood?” She could hardly open her eyes, and she wasn’t sure she wanted to. “Hello,” she managed to utter, but there was only silence. “I want to,” she said, and her world turned black.

Obviously the sitter was concerned about where Melissa was and called the bar when she wasn’t home on time. This alerted her friends to contact Jen, and immediately a search was on. With her car still at the bar, she couldn’t be far away, they thought. Ted left the club to help Jen search for her, too. Within ten minutes they found Melissa lying in an alley about half way between the club and the bar.

“Melissa, can you hear me? Melissa, wake up, can you hear me?” Jen nervously tried to revive her, but to no avail. She lay there lifeless, and as much as Jen spoke to her, there was no response. When the paramedics arrived, they took her vitals and quickly loaded her in the vehicle to get her some much-needed attention. She was taken to the nearest hospital, where she remains in critical condition with severe head trauma.

She woke from the darkness to an unfamiliar place. A beautiful, cloudless blue sky was above her as she lay in the grass so vibrant and green. “Where am I?” she thought. She looked around, and nothing at all was familiar, but it was breathtaking, like paradise. There was a lovely breeze with hints of floral. Over to her right she could see what appeared to be acres and acres of endless fields. “Are those flowers?” she wondered. As she stood up, she wiped off dirt and debris from her clothes and took in more of the scenery all around her. Wherever she is, it is truly spectacular; so beautiful and so very tranquil. Melissa racked her brain to remember what she was doing before she awoke.

She walked forward a bit only to be completely captivated by all the amazing surroundings. Still puzzled, she kept walking, trying to remember anything, or find something remotely familiar. As she walked, she noticed she was being followed by nature. A family of deer and rabbits was cautiously trailing her as butterflies and dragonflies seemed to dance around her head. “So bizarre!” she exclaimed out loud. “Where am I, and what is going on?” she cried. Her journey continued with the animals and insects in tow only to see she had been joined by even more creatures. Now there were beautiful colored birds, raccoons and bullfrogs. “Now I feel as if I’m dreaming,” she thought, “a beautiful, confusing dream!”

The air was so heavy and hot as she continued walking. There was no one else in sight, and the fields just continued for miles. Up ahead there was shade from some welcoming trees. As the heat became increasingly unbearable, Melissa reached the white light and disappeared.

* * *

Jen juggled watching the girls, working and visiting Melissa as often as she could. As hard as it was for her, she knew that she had to do her part in helping out wherever she could. The girls were young and didn’t totally understand what was going on, and Jen tried to reassure them as much as she could. She was scared and didn’t want to believe that she could lose Melissa. But Melissa was in a coma, and the doctors were extremely concerned about her grim condition.

“Dad, I just can’t stay here tonight. I have to go and be with Melissa,” Jen said. “Please understand I could lose her!” Ted shook his head and told Jen to go and do what she needed to do. Jen left and drove to the hospital to be by her side as tears ran down her face. She remembers all of the wonderful times they’ve spent together. They’ve known each other for over ten years now! Jen remembers seeing pregnant Melissa working at the bank years ago. They have been friends for so long and only just recently lovers. Hopeful but worried, Jen is uncertain what the future holds as she continues to drive.

In the field, Melissa thinks the colors of these flowers are so vibrant and unlike any other colors she’s ever seen before. “I’ve never seen colors so incredibly bright that they actually look fake. Wow, yes, that’s it—it’s like fake color; and everything else around me—from the sky to the grass to the animals and the insects. They all seem perfect; too perfect. I must be dreaming! But it’s so amazingly beautiful and peaceful here. I feel great! I just don’t know what I’m supposed to know—I can’t seem to remember what I was doing before I was here, or where I am, or who I am. This is so frustrating. But it’s so peaceful and beautiful; I’m just going to sit down again; I’m so tired and confused. Where am I supposed to be? This thinking and wondering makes me so sleepy.”

Her eyes appeared to be moving under her lids, Jen thought. She’s been watching every part of her body for the last two hours, and she’d swear she saw her eyeballs moving, but her eyes were closed. That’s the only sign of life, she thought. This simple gesture, if only in her mind, left her with hope that Melissa was still with her.

“Hello. Hi, Dad, what’s up? What? Holy shit, are you kidding me? Okay, I will be there as soon as I can, thanks for calling.” Jen hung up the phone and looked back over at her lover’s limp body just lying there.

“Oh, Melissa, I hope you can hear me. I miss you and I love you more than you know! I have to leave you now, but I will be back. Can I bring you anything? Melissa, can you hear me?” Jen kissed her forehead and rubbed her arm gently before she left her bedside. She drove to the club to meet her dad.

“Cindy was badly beaten and left in an alley much like Melissa was,” Ted said. “Apparently there was video of the entire incident and the cops have a lead. She’s at a hospital on the other side of town and is conscious and will be okay.” Ted continued. “But Jen, I need you to secure the clubs and beef up security and get some quotes for security cameras at both locations. It seems as if the girls were targeted. I think these two incidents are related to the club, and I want to make sure nothing else transpires,” he concluded.

“Dad, I bet this has something to do with Cindy dating one of the guys that comes in this joint! She was just bragging today about the guy she’s been seeing. It’s her fault that this has happened! Shit. Remember a couple of years ago at Al’s club on the other side of town? That dancer Jody was killed dad! This is just crazy!” Jen yelled. “I can’t believe this is happening!”

“I know, Jen. We will do what we can to see that the girls are safe. Go now and see how Melissa is doing.” Ted said.

“Okay, thanks, I’ll check in with you later.” Jen replied.

As she drove back to see Melissa, Jen called Sam to check in on the girls. Luckily tonight they were able to fall asleep on their own. It’s the first time in the past few weeks since their mom has been in the hospital that they were able to actually stay asleep, too. Sam is staying with them tonight so Jen can stay with Melissa in the hospital.

When she arrived at the hospital, Jen slowly approached the room and stood in the doorway. From her vantage point, she looked in, and Melissa appeared to be levitating above her bed and was glowing. It was beautiful; almost as if she were illuminated by fireflies, Jen thought to herself. Fixated in the doorway, she was stunned, and she just watched her angelic lover slowly dim and lower onto the bed. Either something is truly happening to Melissa, or I’m really sleep deprived. She slowly approached the bed and called out to Melissa.

“Hello, can you hear me Melissa?” Jen asked.

She moved a chair close to the side of the bed. As she was adjusting herself and getting comfortable for the night, she heard Melissa whisper.

“Beautiful fake colors,” Melissa said.

Jen was shocked and rang for the nurse. She couldn’t believe that Melissa actually said something! When the nurse entered the room, Jen told him what happened, and he indicated that she had been whispering words now for a couple of days, but that was it; there were no other signs of consciousness. After hearing this news, Jen wondered if she should share with him what she noticed when she first arrived, but obviously she hesitated because she herself wasn’t exactly sure if she saw what she thought she did.

In the field, Melissa thought that it was hotter than earlier. There were flowers all around and the grass was a vivid green and the sky was the bluest she’d ever seen it. It was paradise. “How did I get here?” Jen wondered as she took in all the beauty around her. “I must be dreaming. Where in the world else could I be?” She remembered talking to a guy in the hospital before coming here. “Ah, that’s right! I must be sleeping and dreaming. But what am I dreaming about and where is this place? It’s so pretty and colorful,” Jen thought. As she walked she noticed many beautiful trees and plants and noticed all the wildlife so close to her. Up ahead in the distance she noticed the figure of someone.

“Melissa, is that you?” Jen called out. And she watched as this person turned around and ran closer and closer to her until she recognized that it was in fact Melissa.

“What are you doing here? I want you to come back home to me! The girls miss you!” Jen said.

Melissa was so beautiful, and she looked at Jen as if she wasn’t sure who she was, and gently spoke.

“Hello! Aren’t the colors so bright? Have you ever seen these colors before?” Melissa asked.

Jen was shaken awake by the nurse in the hospital. Melissa was sitting up in bed and smiling.

“Hi, honey,” she said.

Jen burst into tears of joy.

“Hello, how are you feeling?” Jen asked.

“I’m okay, but my eyes hurt. It’s as if I’ve been blinded by looking at bright light and colors for what seems like days,” Melissa murmured.

“I’m so glad you’re back. And the girls are fine!” Jen added. “Thank you so much! I love you so. Can you please explain to me why I’m here and what happened?” Melissa asked.

“Of course I can, baby,” Jen said.


Editor: LinckeN@WLAC.edu | West Los Angeles College | 9000 Overland Ave, Culver City CA 90230 | www.wlac.edu
Production Mngr: Michelle Long-Coffee | Web Design: Clarissa Castellanos