1. Status Update (Godalming)

    I’ve come to the point now where I feel it necessary to mention this. Awhile ago, I quietly started a series, Godalming. I didn’t announce it, I didn’t talk about it at all really aside from simply posting the pieces.

    Then life happened. I haven’t written anything for the series in about a couple weeks, although I have at least a dozen serial posts outlined. Initially I wasn’t writing it because I wasn’t in the headspace to write it, due to loss. Then, because I also wasn’t really in the headspace to do anything else, I got swamped with work since I’d taken a few days off of everything to deal with that loss. So.

    For the half-dozen or so of you who are really keen on the series and waiting with bated breath for the next chapter (I feel you, especially knowing my own penchant for leaving things hanging off a cliff) — the next chapter should be ready in the next week or so.

    After that, I’m going to set them up on a regular schedule (which I probably should have done from the first, but I was excited about it). I don’t plan on letting you know what that schedule is (unless you ask me privately, in which case I probably will tell you), because I don’t like to intrude on the story. But I did think in this case it was warranted.

  2. I don’t know why my hair decided to fade from that dark burgundy to this lavender-ish color in less than a month, but I’m alright with it. Hi.

    I don’t know why my hair decided to fade from that dark burgundy to this lavender-ish color in less than a month, but I’m alright with it. Hi.

  3. History is a burden. Stories make us fly.
    Robin Hood, in Dr. Who, Robot of Sherwood
  4. The Art Lesson (Short Story by Jen Mueller)



    I was grabbing some lunch and checking messages on my phone when I looked up and saw her. Just two tables down from me, a red ribbon holding her blonde hair back from her face but not from her shoulder. It spilled over, getting in the way of whatever she was feverishly working on. She brushed it back and sighed, her brow far more knitted and serious in concentration than that of the typical little girl her age — or what I assumed to be her age. I’m terrible at guessing ages, particularly of children — if you ask me, they’re either around four or around ten. I was an only child, and I kept to myself, and I had more friends between the covers of books than I did on the playground.

    This may have been part of the reason I decided to speak to the little girl as I walked past her table to toss my empty cup and sandwich wrapper in the bin behind.

    “What are you drawing?”

    She put her purple marker down on the table and picked up the green one without looking up. “I don’t know yet,” she said, more to the paper than to me.

    Somewhere inside I smiled. “Then how will you know when it’s done?”

    At this she looked up at me with an expression more of exasperation than anything else. I knew her feeling well — the eye-rolling, mind-numbing chore of trying to explain your process to someone who existed outside your own mind. “I listen to it,” she said, with far more patience than I possessed myself. “It tells me when it’s done.”

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  5. Just Dance

    What else, now we needn’t search
    for beams and drafts to know
    there’s light and drift ahead? Shall we
    write poetry with words like heart
    and love? Shall I bring along
    moonlight so we can bask,
    or dance, or glow?

    ‘Cause I imagine us dancing,
    even as everything crumbles
    to dust around us, even as earth
    quivers and quakes, even as torrents
    drown conflagrations. The hopeless
    dredging of daring’s bones — the unmasking
    of all we ever sought
    to become.

    Of course I imagine us surviving
    every apocalypse. We live
    in hope despite delicate lack
    thereof. What else does it mean
    to want for nothing?

    Of course we’ll dance.
    I don’t know what song they’ll play,
    but baby, we’ll dance.

    What else, now we needn’t search
    … to know?

    © 2014 by Jennifer R.R. Mueller

  6. Leafing Through

    Come night, and I am trembling, I am
    just barely hanging on. As light exits
    and the earth exhales, I quiver. When
    soon next breeze may come, pray
    loosen me for sodding fodder. The end
    is nigh, but I — I’m still

    hanging on. As they gather
    with varied measures of distraction,
    admiring my beauty, my life
    withdraws to its source.

    Falling; I nourish my roots
    that they may flourish and prosper
    long after I am ground to dust.
    Beneath your heel I am no more
    than your pressing — I am detritus
    disturbing your passing, I am nutrients
    feeding futures unbreathed. I am

    more than I am less. I am lessened,
    that I may become. Through falling,
    reborn. The arms I nurture
    twist and sway unbroken to embrace
    another night, indifferent to the trembling,
    to the barely-hanging-on of us.

    Dew-filtered morning pierces
    bent shadows of blazing siblings,
    brothers and sisters fated to fall
    as swift and as well as I.

    The redundant terror
    of beauty. This is what I know
    of love, that it is turning,
    falling, ending — again.
    And again.

    © 2014 by Jennifer R.R. Mueller

  7. Noticeable Absence

    After they’re gone, loved ones have a way of remaining with you, like the thick silence that settles after an unwelcome question. Even what should be happy, relieved thoughts become heavy and fraught.

    She always hated when I sang. I always took it as an editorial comment, but I sang anyway — and prepared for the onslaught. Today, as I was doing dishes, I started singing along with the song playing in my headphones. About 30 seconds into the song I stopped and looked around. That was usually about how long it took Sadie to appear out of nowhere and start attacking my ankles and shins with claws sharp enough to scratch diamonds.

    She wasn’t there, because of course she wasn’t. I thought briefly about turning the music up and singing loudly, since I was free to do so without fearing the painful, annoying, and often bloody consequences. Instead I stopped the song, pulled the headphones off my ears, and continued washing the dishes in silence.

    © 2014 by Jennifer R.R. Mueller

  8. Suddenly, Sadie


    “Mama’s cat had kittens, you want one of ‘em?”

    J.D. was my landlord. I was living in a house in a small town in Alabama just outside of Huntsville. The house and the land had been in his family for generations. The house was a former foreman’s house. It was rumored to be haunted. J.D.’s mama lived just down the road from me and her cat was, frankly, a slut. Her cat had kittens at a frequency I suspected was the height of biological possibility. It wasn’t her fault.

    J.D. wore overalls a lot. He also hated cats. When I’d moved into the house, with two, he’d forbidden them from living inside. They’d both gotten run over by cars. I’d adopted two of his mama’s cat’s kittens since then — and they’d both been killed. Sure, I’ll take a kitten off your hands, but I have to set some parameters. “I’ll take one, J.D., but you gotta let me keep it inside,” I said, laying on the accent as thick as I could, trying to match his Alabama drawl with my more subtle North Carolinian one.

    “Whaddaya mean inside? Like in the house?”

    “Yes, J.D. Inside the house. At least while it’s young. You give me a kitten all by itself it won’t survive. You gotta let me keep it inside ‘til it gets big enough to fend for itself.”

    He relented. “I reckon s’long as you keep it in the kitchen there, in a box. Don’t let it get all over the house. Mama’s gotta get rid of these kittens.”

    I agreed. When I went to look at the kittens, I purposely chose the smallest and most timid. The one least likely to make it alone. The one least likely to be a farm cat. She was a tiny calico, quivering in the back of his mama’s stand-alone garage, and I walked back up to my house with her. I named her Sahara, but she never quite grew to fit a name so grand as that — I always called her Sadie.

    She was four weeks old when I took her from her mother, and I cared for her as best I could, keeping her inside. J.D. got a bit ornery one day when he saw her roaming about in the living room — “I thought you said you was gonna keep it in a box,” he said. I talked him down. I’d been practicing the charm.

    When I left Alabama, Sadie moved back to my parents’ house with me, saw me graduate from university, and then moved with me, again, to law school.

    Moving in, we thought we lost her. My family had come up to help me move in, and someone left a door open. We thought she’d gotten out. My dad called for her up and down the strange apartment complex, looking in bushes and up trees. Finally my parents called it a night and headed to their hotel, but my sister stayed with me. We went and got some beer and set to unpacking the kitchen. I couldn’t concentrate. I was beside myself. I wasn’t sure if I had the confidence to start law school without Sadie at home. I didn’t tell my sister that.

    We talked and unpacked boxes — if for no other reason than it was something to do, that had to be done. A few beers and a few boxes later, we discovered Sadie hadn’t ran away at all — she’d been hiding under one of the kitchen cabinets because she was scared of the ceiling fan. She’d never seen one before.

    She was always scared of ceiling fans.

    I graduated from law school and Sadie moved with me to Nashville. She didn’t get fake-lost this time — I was extra vigilant. We weren’t going through that again.

    And she saw me through so much. She was always there. Granted, she wasn’t the sweetest cat you’ve ever known. You’d think she’d be grateful — you’d think she’d realize that without me she’d be dead. She took it in stride. She spent more time grooming than she did sleeping — she was a beautiful cat, and she fucking knew it. I took pictures of her constantly because she virtually posed for them. She knew how to work a camera.

    She loved Jon Hopkins. I used to think she loved Coldplay until I realized the only Coldplay albums she liked were the ones Hopkins had produced — she was indifferent to the rest. Play Jon Hopkins and she’d come and sit next to the speakers and purr with that benevolent Buddha-cat smile on her face.

    Sadie Face. That, among many other things, was what I called her. She never grew into Sahara. She never weighed more than 11 pounds. She was tiny and she was pretty and she didn’t like for you to touch her. She didn’t even like for me to touch her — not really. Any interaction we had was in her time and on her terms. I loved her.

    She hated when I sang. If I didn’t know where she was, the quick and easy way to flush her out was to start singing. Sadie’d come running, claws flashing. I swear that little girl left me with scars. Don’t they all.

    We had a rapport. Our delicate balance was honed over more than a decade of trial and error, and it was seldom upset. She knew when I needed her, and I knew when she needed me. It worked. Last night, she didn’t need me — she needed me to let go. And last night, I didn’t need her — I needed her to let go as well. When her body failed and she lacked the strength even to raise her head, she needed me to let go. But still she stayed.

    As I watched her slip away, I realized sometimes letting go is the hardest part. As her breathing slowed, I stroked her head between her eyes, the same way I’d pet her to ease her to sleep as a kitten. It’s okay, I whispered. You can go.

    I love you. It’s okay. I love you. You can go.

    You can go.

    © 2014 by Jennifer R.R. Mueller

  9. Sadie | October 20, 2000 — August 31, 2014

  10. Familiar Views

    Because sometimes we imagine
    this all is a dream, believing
    the likes of us couldn’t otherwise be
    so fortunate to find
    each other — and in each other,
    to find something so real.

    We spend our lives searching
    for something so true,
    and in absence of hope — we dream.

    Here we stand. We have names
    not our own, names carved
    from conversations and crafted
    by the breaching bursts of held-back
    laughter whimpering behind pursed banks,
    quivering and bitten.

    If I made you up, it was so I’d never forget
    to hope, to search, to reach, and to dream;
    and if you made me up, it was so
    you’d always remember to strive, to thrive,
    and to love.

    If we made each other up, it was so
    we’d never be alone — and what is real
    and what is true are in yours, and in mine,
    and in their reflections.

    © 2014 by Jennifer R.R. Mueller