“The Tree” by Denise Boehler

The Tree

The tree, I look at Terry, needs to come down

She beams at me, awash in emotional light. Buzzed on Dale’s Pale Ale.

Let’s bring it to Cowie, she burps.

Can I give him back the Swarovski crystal snowflake?

He is standing there, the moment of presentation.

Reaching out to me, handing me the red foil-wrapped box with the gold bow.

To start, hopefully, that Southern boy charm kind of way, a new Christmas tradition.

No, Terry turns, You can’t. It reflects a beautiful, shining moment.

Plus, the depth of your sadness is the depth of your beauty.

 

About the author: 
Denise Boehler is a Naropa graduate with a masters in eco-psychology, and a background in law, real estate, and animal advocacy. She is always interested in finding ways to cultivate communication between people and animals, in being a voice for the voiceless. From homeless dog advocacy to wolf reintroduction to coexistence with bears to saving roadside wildlife, her passions derive from a lifelong love affair with animals. Visit her (wildsight.co or womensight.co) or connect with her on LinkedIn.
on Instagram:

https://www.instagram.com/wildsightbo/

“The Writer, the Magician, & the Psychic” by Alexandria Rose Rizik

The Writer, the Magician, & the Psychic

I looked at the sign — the word Spiritual lit up while Bookstore flickered until it completely dimmed. The inside deemed even more elaborately decorated than I expected — and by “elaborated” I mean foam angels covered in glitter hanging from the ceilings and crystals spread throughout the shelves. The metaphysical shop rested on the outskirts of town. I had driven by a couple of times but never had a reason to actually walk in until now…

“Welcome,” a woman with wide-spread eyes approached me as I entered just past the door. She was larger in width and depth and her hair was a mangy mess on top of her head. She wrapped her arms around me and pulled me into her as she said, “Heart to heart.”

I hugged her back, slightly taken off guard, our hearts lined up as one. Then she released me.

“What can I do for you, honey?” her voice was soft and clear.

“Do you guys do readings?” I spoke rapidly. I’ll admit, a part of me felt weird for even finding my way here — but I wanted to do it. I had to do it. I had to know.

“Yes, we do,” she wandered over to behind the cash register. “Durga Ma is here until three.”

I wanted to ask, Durga-what? But instead I just nodded my head.

“Let me go see if she has any availability,” she continued.

“Okay, thanks.”

She walked away into a small room on the side of the store. I looked around me; a painting of the Virgin Mary with double D boobs was plastered on the wall along with other pictures depicting heaven’s angels in an eccentric manner.

The woman returned a moment later.

“Durga Ma can take you now if you want.”

“Okay.”

I followed her back to where the room sat on the side of the store. It was dimly lit, the walls naked. Only a desk sat there covered in papers, and pictures, and crystals, and cards.

“Hi,” I said to the tall woman who sat in a chair behind the desk. She had puff pastry eyes and short blonde hair. I sat down across from her as — what I assumed to be — the store owner departed back into the store, shutting the door behind her.

“Nice to meet you, I’m Durga Ma,” she said in a quivered voice. But she didn’t appear terribly old.

“Nice to meet you too.”

“What’s your name?”

“Gemini.”

“Oh, like the Zodiac.”

I forced a smiled. I hated when people pointed that out.

“What can I do for you?”

I swallowed down my nerves. I wasn’t one to communicate my emotions or concerns. No. I preferred to keep them bottled up until they melted out of my brain underneath the Arizona sun.

“Well,” I started, figuring out how I address my problem without sounding like some naïve young girl, hung up on romance. “I want to know about a boy.”

I paused, still wondering where I even begin. She nodded at me as if to continue — but I thought she was psychic. Wasn’t she supposed to read my mind?

I’d come for a reason — I wanted closure regarding a situation that still felt up in the air. As human beings, we need closure in order to move on, or at least so it seems.

It all suddenly vomited out of me as if it needed to be expressed after holding it in for so long in order to feel the relief, “There’s this boy that I’m in love with and he’s in love with me too — I mean, he dumped his girlfriend to be with me, he has to love me, right?”

Durga Ma opened her mouth to speak but I was on a roll.

I continued, “Everything seemed perfect but now —”

Lealand’s eyes flashed through my mind, interrupting my train of thought.

I continued, “Now it’s not perfect at all. It’s so complicated that we can’t even talk.”

I finally took a breath… “I just want to know if it is really the end.”

I found myself actually tearing up. I never cried. Except once…when Lealand and I broke up the first time. But I hadn’t let myself cry since. I never even felt tears pooling in my eyes. Always just numbness. As a child, after my parents’ divorce, I learned the hard way that it was easier. It felt weird to feel. I was confused. I didn’t like it. But I did…

Durga Ma’s eyes were wide, probably trying to take everything in. I still was.

“Well then,” she began with an overwhelmed kind of chuckle. My confusion-induced silence was enough of a response for her to continue, “Let me ask you, what do you like about him?”

My mind wandered back in time, leaving only my physical being in the present moment.

 

***

 

Lealand and I had dated back in high school — senior year to be exact. And a big part of my feelings toward him stemmed from the history we shared; he was my first love. As everyone knows, there is something magical about firsts. It all started at a Junior Prom after party. I’d seen him in my creative writing class before — the only class I was exceeding in — but we’d never talked until that night.

Although we both had dates, we ditched them to hook up — I mean, not all the way, but farther than I’d gone before. Maybe that was the first red flag. I hate that term, “red flag”…but maybe it served a purpose.

Lealand and I spent our summer going into senior year as “friends with benefits” — wild nights and wild makeouts, but no actual commitment. I was his first call when he needed some sort of satisfaction. He was mine too. I lied to him when I said, “I’m down for just a fling.” The truth was I was madly in love with him from the very moment that our paths collided into one. And if anyone ever asked what I loved about him, I couldn’t say because I didn’t know. I just knew that I did. It was a connection I couldn’t deny. Sounded cliché, but hey, clichés are cliché for a reason, right? It was the first time that I could remember what it felt like to feel. Maybe that’s what I loved most. He made me tingle, ache, wonder, and think. He made my heart skip a beat now and again whenever he whispered sweet nothings, that felt like somethings, in my ear.

The hooking up, apparently, evolved into feelings for him as well and eventually he asked me to be his girlfriend. It’s funny the way as soon as you label something, it becomes complicated. The fighting was rough, but the sex was rougher — and worth the pointless bickering. I remember the first night we did it. Jesus Christ, I was so inexperienced and he was such a pro. We found ourselves cuddled up in my dad’s cabin up north. My dad wasn’t around growing up. He wasn’t around now either. But he knew how to purchase the love of me and my sister — sometimes it was a designer bag, other times a cruise. This time it was the cabin — since he and his wife were about to sell it, he offered it to Le and I for a night.

It was snowing, something we were not accustomed to in Douglas, so we didn’t exactly bring the proper winter attire. Our winters were more like 60 degrees on a cold day.

“I really liked your short story you shared the other day in class. The one about the teenagers going on a road trip before college,” Le said as we cozied up to one another.

“Really?” I smiled. I wasn’t really good at school stuff. But writing didn’t feel like work. It just flowed for me…

He nodded his head.

“I have this dream road trip,” I began. “I want to start here, drive up to California, up the coast to Oregon, Seattle, to Canada —”

“Canada?!”

I laughed, “Yes. And then from Canada I want to go to Alaska then Russia and tour Europe.”

“Wow. That sounds intense, woman! Maybe that’s why you’re such a good writer.”

“Why?”
“You have a very vivid imagination.”

“Yeah, but I wish I was better at things like math and science. Like you.”

“Eh. It just means I’m logical. That’s no fun.”

“But it’s useful.”

He shrugged his shoulders.

I smiled our lips met in the middle.

We put on a fire. The internet didn’t work and the cable had been disconnected. All we had were conversations and kisses. And kisses turned into nudity. Nudity turned into firsts. Like, I said, there is something magical about firsts. But was it as magical for him as it was for me since it wasn’t the only time he’s done this? But maybe “first” could mean the first time he did it with me. Maybe that made it magical. My over analytical thinking sure hoped so.

But we all know behind every magic trick is a magician who made it look real when, in reality, it was just an illusion. That seemed to be the case.

Time went on, the fighting progressed and the lust, or whatever you want to call it, couldn’t overpower that anymore. We parted ways as we both started college, although maybe our feelings never quite did the same. Lealand got out of here. He’d always wanted to leave this town — and he went as far away as he could. He studied abroad in Europe and no one really heard from him. I stayed in state, only a couple of hours away from home. But I moved on. I met Bryce. He was everything any girl could ever ask for — charming, intelligent, athletic, driven. He had ambition, the kind that everyone knew would take him far one day. As perfect as he was, he wasn’t perfect to me. I didn’t like the way his flawlessness made me feel so insecure. I couldn’t relate. So, I broke up with him and after college, I moved back home and I got a job at the local bar. I didn’t do much with my degree — it was Creative Writing. I wanted to get my Masters but I didn’t have the money — and I didn’t want to ask my dad. I didn’t like the feeling of “owing” him anything as a grown adult. The goal was to write a novel in the free time I had away from the bar. Although, I wasn’t sure about what yet.

Fast forward in time, Lealand graduated and somehow returned back to our big-small town of Douglas, Arizona too. Coincidence? I think not. Fate? Potentially…

It was a Tuesday, Taco Tuesday to be exact. The bar was packed, the whole town splurging on two-dollar tacos and five-dollar margaritas. We were low on staff and I was feeling overwhelmed. Everything was so fast-paced…until I saw him. Suddenly time froze. Everything and everyone around me disappeared. Like I had tunnel vision. He sat there, his hair shorter, his baby face more defined now. Like, he was so built and structured, and had a defined jaw line. I felt like I was dreaming. Like, I was in some sort of time warp that took me back to a time that felt as if it never even existed. But suddenly it was real again. The magician was back and full of new tricks…time travel.

I’ll admit, I was about to turn my head, hide behind the other side of the bar and act like he was a stranger to me. It sounded easier. But my feet guided me toward him and our gazes had already met.

I approached him, a smile made its way to my face and he mimicked. As I got closer, I could see him more clearly now. My body tensed right up as deafening thoughts rushed through my chaotic mind. He was different. Older. More mature. And facial hair. But his eyes — those were the same.

“This is so weird,” I giggled.

“I know, right?” he agreed.

I was slightly embarrassed that our first run in since breaking up was me covered in taco grease, working at a local bar in the same town he left me in. I brushed the hair off my face.

“How’ve you been?” I asked.

“Not bad. You? Still writing?”

“On and off.”

Why was this so awkward? How do two people go from being so intimate to total aliens? I suppose it was all in our heads.

With the expression on his face, I could tell he was just as nervous.

“Can I get you a drink?” I asked.

“Uh, I’ll take a beer.”

I got him whatever was on draft and handed it to him. He went to reach into his wallet for money.

“It’s on me,” I smiled.

“You sure?”

I nodded my head, very sure.

We got to talking. Catching up. He told me he was dating someone but she was still studying abroad in England. She sounded so intelligent and sure of herself. So perfect for Lealand. She was going into law. Lealand was a political science major. All he ever wanted to do was change the system. He loved politics — and was just opinionated enough to fit into that world.

“What time you get off?” he asked.

“Like, three.”

“How about I buy you a drink after?”

“It’ll be really late. You sure you’re down for that?”

“I think you and I have a lot more catching up to do.”

I smiled and agreed.

When I got off, we walked back to my mom’s house. She was working the night shift at the Urgent Care down the road, so we were completely alone. The situation loosened up with a glass of wine intervening our blood streams and suddenly, nostalgia was able to do all of the talking. He sipped on a red blend that I took out of my mom’s wine cabinet, while I found pleasure in a chardonnay, in an attempt to avoid bloodsucking vampire lips.

The night ended with a hug goodbye, but the stars weren’t quite finished with us. We went two weeks without talking and nothing was thought of it. But after I returned home from a trip, something struck me — maybe Cupid’s arrow — and I decided to text him. One thing led to another and he asked to hang out. So, we did. A bottle of wine into the night and next thing I knew, we were two teenagers again, making out on the swing set that sat in the center of my backyard. It was old now and never used. Rusty. But no one ever thought to get rid of it. It was occupied by cockroaches and rodents. Thankfully, we were drunk enough not to care.

“What about your girlfriend?” I asked as he reached his hand down my pants.

“She doesn’t need to know.”

And suddenly, the magician had taken me back to the first night we met, hooking up the night of Prom.

After that night, it was as if we began our little fling all over again while he still had a girlfriend — that he was supposed to go visit for two months. Movie nights, adventures in the park, and staying up late on Facetime was how we spent the next month together.

The day he was supposed to leave to go see his girlfriend was nearing and I knew I couldn’t lose him again — facing the reality that I had never really gotten over us. So, once upon a Friday night while Mercury happened to be in retrograde (which is said to be a time when people from your past can resurface), I asked him to talk.

“Okay sure!” he agreed.

We went to the park — the park that was covered in memories of our past — and talked, but I still wasn’t ready to tell him. So, we went back to my house and had some wine on the infamous swing set.

“Can you tell me now?” he asked as we sat atop the jungle gym, sipping on wine.

Without responding, I gulped down the rest of my wine.

“Okay, keep drinking so you can tell me,” he said.

I laughed, nodding my head.

Within fifteen minutes, we were in my bed and the alcohol was beginning to settle in, intoxicating me with liquid courage.

“Can you tell me now?” he questioned.

I looked at him, my hand on his chest.

The truth was I was scared because although there were obvious romantic feelings between us, he and I had managed to stay friends after everything. After dating and breakups and years and miles, we stayed friends. That meant something and I didn’t want to ruin that.

I swallowed down my nerves and spoke, “I think I’m in love with you.”

His bloodshot eyes were focused in on mine.

“You think you’re in love with me?”

“Yes.” My heart sat in my stomach as I awaited his response.

“I think I’m in love with you too,” he smiled.

And three days later, he broke up with his girlfriend and cancelled his trip across seas. Usually, this is where you’d cue the curtains or read “and they all lived happily ever after” but it didn’t end there — it wasn’t that easy. It never was. The sex was rough, but the fighting was rougher. We were older, not just two puppy-love-struck teenagers without any responsibilities…

“This just isn’t working,” he said the last time I saw him. Just thinking about those final words makes my heart drown inside of my stomach. His logical senses always had a way of resurfacing and crushing my hopeful heart. And just like all magicians, he walked away after the performance with no explanation…

 

***

 

“Four years apart proved that life had taken us through two different tunnels,” I explained to Durga Ma. “We were fighting over things that didn’t even make sense.”

Durga Ma’s eyebrows furrowed in confusion. She shook her head and I knew what she was thinking; I was just some stupid girl who believed in love and wishing upon stars and happy endings.

“I can sit here and tell you the future, if that’s what you want, but the truth is, the future is always changing — because we’re always changing.”

I looked at her with saddened eyes; I had come searching for an answer that she couldn’t give me.

“What is your biggest dream?” she leaned forward, her elbows resting on the desk. “Like, if you could have anything in the world what would it be?”

I thought about it. For the first time, I said it out loud, “To write a novel. A successful novel.”

“Well, that’s what you should focus on and if it’s meant to be, everything else — and everyone else — will fall into place in the proper timing.”

I was upset…she didn’t give me the answers I was searching for. Maybe no one really knew the answers though. Even this proclaimed “psychic”.

After my reading, I drove and drove and drove.

Suddenly, I was sparked with an interesting revelation. I found myself at a coffee shop down the road from my house. I realized I had a story all along. I just didn’t have the nerve to write it down. So, I sat down with a notepad and I began…

Once upon a time, in a very magical kingdom, there was a peasant girl who fell in love with the town magician —

I tried to think of the words, tapping my pen against the table. Not all psychics can predict the future, not all magicians can put your heart back together, and not all fairytales have happy endings. But I guessed I could rewrite the ending to this story with a little help of my imagination and this ballpoint pen.

 

About the Author: 
Alexandria Rose Rizik is a published writer and award-winning director, born and raised in Scottsdale, Arizona — where she was brought up by a large Armenian family. 

Her love for writing began when she was a young child and her aunt bought her a journal. She told Alexandria to write her a story and the rest is history. Her favorite part about writing is being able to write the ‘happily ever after’ that doesn’t always happen in real life. 

She received a degree in English from Arizona State University and has contributed articles to publications such as TheBeautyBean.com and a community post to Buzz Feed. She won best female director at London Independent Film Awards for her short film, “Contentment”, in 2017. One of her latest projects is a short film that she wrote/directed titled, ‘The Middle’ — which was accepted into Festival De Cannes’ 2018 Short Film Corner. 
She published her first children’s book, ‘Chocolate Milk’, in 2017 and expects to debut her first novel, ’21 Questions’, in 2019. She also has a published short story, ‘Floral Wallpaper’, in Junto Magazine that she would love to eventually adapt into a film.
Besides writing, Alexandria loves yoga, wine, and family time.  

“Deafness” by Denise Boehler

Deafness

He couldn’t see her

For all she’d come to be

It was all she ever longed for

And with him not to be

His vision his life so complete

Without her he now lives

It was the life she always longed for

And the one for which she grieves

All she asked for was his opened heart

The intimacy lying within

All she wanted from devotion

Was loneliness to leave and nurturing to begin

Something deep inside his being

Blocked the pathway to her calls

Now she walks alone

Feels the pain in her interior walls

She works ever so diligently

At looking deeply, shredded remains

Her constructed self she’s dissecting

Deep beliefs once holding her in restrain

She knows not the direction of her future

Nor the counterpart with whom she might share

She knows the one tender heart held for herself

Is not an organ she can continue to tear

For its ripping open leaves only pieces

Drowns her in her own despair

And as she calls for him, return to my life

In the silence of her mind

Her voice he’ll never hear

For it falls unto ears blind

It is her voice she needs to hear

The one she is making loud and ever so true

The one that calls back to herself, I love, and I see YOU, I am always here.

 

 About the Author: 
Denise Boehler is a Naropa graduate with a masters in eco-psychology, and a background in law, real estate, and animal advocacy. She is always interested in finding ways to cultivate communication between people and animals, in being a voice for the voiceless. From homeless dog advocacy to wolf reintroduction to coexistence with bears to saving roadside wildlife, her passions derive from a lifelong love affair with animals. Visit her (wildsight.co or womensight.co) or connect with her on LinkedIn.
on Instagram:

https://www.instagram.com/wildsightbo/

Editor’s Note: June is worth celebrating!

TROU is turning one and I’m so excited. I am over the moon that this little space in the universe is still here and that you have decided to join in. When I started this magazine my

_Happy 1st Birthday to TROU!

[Image Description: On a pink background a rainbow heart wears a party hat. In blue it says “happy 1st Birthday to TROU” There is also confetti. ]

mission was to provide a safe space to explore love, in it’s many forms, shapes, and sizes. It warms my heart that you have found this space and that you have shared a piece of your love story along the way.

I want to say that we are doing something big here, even though it is still small. Declaring to the world that we are worthy, in whatever way we choose to do so, is important, is daring, is changing the world. You dear reader, are changing the world. I hope these love stories have brought you comfort, made you think, and made a shift in a world that is cruel and unkind toward a more accepting and welcoming place.

June is also a time to celebrate pride, a movement that protests marginalization and celebrates people for who they are and who they love. You know TROU is behind that 100%.

 

So from TROU to you, Happy Birthday and Happy Pride.

You are so loved.

-Whitney

“The Frozen Fool: of He and She” by Denise Boehler

The Frozen Fool: of He and She

Rumbling down Pearl Street, her hands wrapped around his soft, middle-aged belly, she could feel into a different moment in time. A moment where they were new to each other, fresh into the existence of them, an entity not yet formed.

This is how we began, she let slip out aloud. Despite the noise of the muffler, he had heard her. His usual frozen and stilled response: Absolutely, he sped them away.

She knew his refusal, to feel into the moment. Just like the millions before.

It was the reason for the breaking apart, of he and she. It was the cause, that they were no more. He could not allow himself to feel into the flow of her. It was what she needed most. It was what he refused to give.

She drove up the Canyon that night, breaking apart as she had done so many evenings before. Falling down, praying herself to safety before it all came undone. Wanting to reach out, knowing he would not be there. Never could be, that was her reality. Her open and flowing heart was always too much for him to bear.

How could she continue, after nineteen years of he and she, after three hundred sixty-five days a year, without feeling the absence of he? How could she see, into her future still unknown, without him in her life, how could she see, that he could find a life with another?

To have known another human being in this her life, the cells and the soul,

To bond more intimately than she had bonded to herself,

To the moment at arms-length, within sight yet not in reach,

To know it, to feel into it,

To sense and to smell it,

To intuit into her heart,

To feel it in the breath her soul,

To step away – be forced – time and again –

She could bear no more her broken heart,

She could feel no more, he would never trust her again

It was she who cried Uncle, it was she who broke –

To feel it all and the longing of their visceral bond, and know it could never be hers forever and no more –

I loved you more than anyone ever will in this short life, she cried.

And you, the Frozen Fool, could not reach deep into your heart at the moment of my asking, and find within it your love for me.

 

About the Author: Denise Boehler is a Naropa graduate with a masters in eco-psychology, and a background in law, real estate, and animal advocacy. She is always interested in finding ways to cultivate communication between people and animals, in being a voice for the voiceless. From homeless dog advocacy to wolf reintroduction to coexistence with bears to saving roadside wildlife, her passions derive from a lifelong love affair with animals. Visit her (wildsight.co or womensight.co) or connect with her on LinkedIn. On Instagram:

https://www.instagram.com/wildsightbo/

“Crowds Will Look” by Rhys Ramsay

Crowds Will Look

I hope the backs of our heads,
when they are nestled together,
cause offense to the gawkers
who, in disbelief stare us down.

I might choose to bare all for show
although, she leaves her hair covered
she, wears no doubt on her sleeve
when she walks arm in arm with me.

Artist Bio: Rhys Ramsay is a Scottish poet and short story writer living in London. Taking inspiration from a diverse range of writers and artists, both contemporary and past; he is currently working on his first collection of poems covering such themes as city life, sex, love, meltdowns on the tube and politics.

“Stay With Me, My Summertime” by Victoria Young

STAY WITH ME, MY SUMMERTIME
Rays jaunt through your hair,
        Creating whisps of cinnnamon
And warm strings of amber.

         Bathing in the light of the sun, I look down…
Hands enveloped, hearts relying on the haze
     Of the moment to guide
         Us through.

We flutter eternal through time,
         Destiny being our trail of stardust;
Cosmic crumbs in the forest of the galaxy,

“Misery” dimpled across the lips of the jealous
 As they watch us from afar…

My eyes flutter open…
       There you are…
Just as beautiful as I had left you

 

About the Author: Originating from Detroit, MI, Victoria Young knew she was destined to be a weirdo and an outlier. Growing up, she was an avid fan of comic books, video games, obscure music, and making silly faces in the mirror. In fact, Victoria is still an avid fan of those things.  She now resides in Southern Pennsylvania with her husband Jake and their incredibly soft and wonderful cat, Pecan.