Tag Archives: interpersonal relationships

The Downward Spiral: Chapter One


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The blank canvas taunted him, chided him. Whatever you do to me will amount to nothing. You can paint whatever you want, no one will want me. I’ll sit in the corner of this studio collecting dust until you paint over worthless little ol’ me.

He shut his eyes, listening to Seether—willing the music to drown out the negativity. He pursed his lips, raising his hand to strike.

You’re no artist. You’re a waste of oxygen.

He slashed the brush across the canvas and then diagonally upward, putting his whole body into it like a taiko drummer. He continued the wild strokes until the brush emptied of color. After dropping the brush in the black jar on the table next to him, he pulled one out of a jar of crimson paint. He attacked the canvas again.

Stepping back, he surveyed his work. A fucking trainwreck.

He threw the brush at the canvas in frustration, it hit with a dull thud. The brush fell to the floor as he dropped into his chair, spent physically and emotionally.


Kyra tossed her keys on the table in the entry, dumped her briefcase underneath, and thumbed through the mail. The house was quiet, absent the usual rock music playing and aromas of food cooking in the kitchen.

“Ky! I’m home!” she called upstairs. Her twin brother didn’t answer.

She kicked off her black patent leather pumps and climbed the stairs, entering the first room on her right. Three of the walls were set with large windows, allowing natural light to flood the room during the day.

Kyle was slumped in a chair, arms hanging at his side with a glass of red wine in his hand. His short burnt sienna hair was messy and his jeans and white t-shirt were spattered with paint. An easel with a large canvas, full of angry, dark brush strokes was in front of him.

“Hey, Ky,” Kyra said, leaning against the doorjamb with her arms over her chest.

He startled in his seat, almost spilling his wine, and then glanced at her. “Hey, Kyr. I didn’t hear you.”

“What’s up with that?” She gestured to the canvas with her chin. “It looks like roadkill.”

“Elisha broke up with me again.” He took a sip of wine.

“What was it this time?” She’d lost count of how many times Elisha broke up with him, and couldn’t keep track of the myriad reasons she gave when she did so.

“I don’t pay enough attention to her.”

“You don’t pay enough attention to me either,” she joked, smiling. “Maybe I should breakup with you too.”

“You couldn’t if you tried.” He chuckled. “We share too much DNA.”

“Lucky for you.” She paused with a slight smile. “I’m guessing you didn’t cook dinner.”


“Order some Chinese while I change and pay the bills.”

“What do you want?”

“Shrimp with snow peas. And pour me a glass,” she said, nodding at the wine. “No reason for you to be drinking alone.”

“You bet.” He grabbed the phone off the table next to him.

Kyra returned downstairs to the master bedroom, stripping out of her black pencil skirt and ivory blouse. She donned a pair of black yoga pants and a lavender tunic sweater—it was almost spring in San Diego and she got chilly at night—then pulled her hair into a ponytail. She sat at the desk in her office as her twin brought her a glass of Tempranillo.

They sat on the floor in front of the coffee table with their white takeout boxes and glasses of wine, watching a rerun of Game of Thrones. Kyle slouched and peered into his box of Beef Broccoli while Kyra picked out a snow pea pod with chopsticks from her box.

“Are you going to try to get her back?” she asked.

“I’m done with women.”

She laughed. “If I had a dollar for every time you said that.”

“I’m serious, Kyr. I’m tired of relationship drama. I’m going to focus on my art.”

She chewed her food, pondering his declaration. She had never been fond of Elisha, but she never voiced that to Kyle. He needed a supportive sister, not another person to question his choices. She wouldn’t argue with him focusing on his art though. Anything to keep him out of the clutches of his ex.

“How was your day?” he asked.

“The usual fun day of contracts and meetings.” She winked at him. She was a lawyer for a tech company, focusing on their contracts. She didn’t do litigation—it wasn’t her thing. Not every lawyer belonged in a courtroom. She preferred writing and pouring over legalese. Analyzing suited her.

He cracked a smile and snickered. “Want to go to the museum with me this weekend? They have a Picasso exhibit for a few weeks I want to see.”

“Sure.” She settled against the sofa, cradling the wine glass in her hand with the stem between her middle and ring fingers.

Kyle lifted his glass, stopping before taking a drink. “Do you think I’ll meet someone else?”

“Only if you don’t hide in your studio.” She sipped the Tempranillo, pressing her tongue to the roof of her mouth.

He refilled his glass and then hers. They sat in comfortable silence, nursing the wine and watching Tyrion’s trial.

Kyle let out a deep sigh and poured another glass, emptying the bottle. “Do you want more?” he asked Kyra. “I can open another bottle.”


She watched him stroll to the wine rack in the dining room. She knew he would be moody. After the other breakups, he hid in the studio most of his waking hours and then drank himself to sleep when he was done. This would be no different.

Being each other’s twin for the last thirty years was never easy. Where Kyle was emotional and given to temperamental outbursts, Kyra was rational and thought everything through before acting. Maybe it was what made him a good artist and her a good lawyer.

But others expected them to be the same, and that would never happen.


Kyle gazed at his twin as she sipped her wine. They looked enough alike that if someone was paying attention, they’d notice the familial resemblance in the shape of their oval faces and long noses. But no one ever guessed they were twins because they noticed the differences first—her darker hair and her light hazel eyes compared to his light brown eyes.

He slid his arm around her, resting his head on hers.

How can I have a relationship while working on my art? Will other women feel the same as Elisha about me and my work? Or will they be more respectful of my time and process?

His ex didn’t like his intense focus when he was into his work. It’s not that he forgot about her, it’s that he was driven to see his vision take form. Once the idea was in his head he had to get it on canvas, otherwise he ruminated over it.

Ruminating led to madness.

© 2016 Debi V. Smith, LLC

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Posted by on September 7, 2016 in Uncategorized


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A Time To Die ~ Part 5

bouganMyr stopped next to the concrete tombstone and knelt, laying the flowers on the grass in front of it then glanced at the inscription.

Mikhail Nikolayevich Dmitriev


Devoted to his family

Devoted to everyone but her.

She wiped the tears away. “Mama and Papa were right, you were gloop kak prabka, dumb as a cork.” She leaned over where his head would be. “I remember, Misha. But you forgot what love, family, and family honor really means.”

She straightened herself, still gaziing at the ground. “I wanted to come to the funeral but Natasha said you didn’t want me there.“ She let out a long sigh. “You’re going to miss your new nephew or niece. Five more months. And all three of us are fine.”

She stood and brushed off the grass sticking to her pants. “I thought I’d be visiting Chris’ grave first.” She took another deep breath to keep the tears at bay. She mourned the loss of him and his family since the day he disowned her. Now she grieved for the brother with whom she would never be able to reconcile. “Do svedanya, Misha. We’ll make sure Natasha and the kids are taken care of when they need it because that’s what family does when they truly love each other.”

She trod down the hill in measured steps until she arrived at the car. Chris leaned against the hood with his arms folded. He noticed the tears rolling down her cheeks and wrapped his arms around her. He could never make this better for her. She suffered one loss after another and he would be next once his body couldn’t fight anymore.

He made her a promise in Jeremy’s office and at their wedding. He intended to fulfill that promise with everything in him. All his attention. All his love.

“You still have me,” he said, stroking her hair and kissing her head, “and the baby.” Until death do they part.

©Debi Smith, 2014

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Posted by on August 22, 2014 in Uncategorized


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A Time To Die ~ Part 4

Cincinnati4Chris and Jeremy chased each other on the unblemished concrete in Jeremy’s driveway. Chris jumped, trying to get higher than Jeremy, and lofted the big, black ball into the air. Jeremy spun to watch the ball hit the backboard, fall on the rim, and bounce as Chris landed on his feet. Jeremy leaped for the rebound and took the ball to the end of the driveway; the agreed upon half-court mark. They faced each other eye to eye, stooped over and bent at the knees. Jeremy bounced the ball as close to his body as he could and Chris swiped at the ball like a drunken chimpanzee unable to move his feet.

“I need a break,” Jeremy said between heaving breaths, still dribbling the ball.

“Fine by me,” Chris answered and placed his hand on the cement to support himself as he sat. As soon as he let his body rest he couldn’t keep himself in that position so he rolled back flat against the ground and Jeremy followed suit.

“Did you tell your parents yet?” Jeremy rolled the basketball on the ground with his flattened palm.

“Yeah, last night after we left your office,” he answered, laying his right hand on his chest and his left arm on the ground perpendicular to his body. “During dinner.”

“Are you serious? What did they say?”

“Totally serious. After Dad choked on his steak, Mom dropped her knife, Tom spilled his milk, and Susanna stopped crying, we prayed. They support our decision.”

Four months before Chris was born, his parents moved into the house next to Jeremy’s family. Jeremy was three. Their families spent time together regularly and once Chris was old enough to play, he and Jeremy became inseparable.

“When are you getting married, Jer? Or are you going to be a bachelor pastor for the rest of your life?”

“I haven’t met anyone interesting enough. Got any friends like Myr?” He picked up the ball and rolled it up and down his chest. “You’re lucky to have her,” he adds.

“Yeah, I know.” He lifted his upper body and supported the weight with his forearms. “Will you take care of her when I’m gone?”

“C’mon,” Jeremy said, sitting up, “It might be a long time before that happens. Besides, she’s a big girl.” He tried not to worry. Chris detailed his doctor’s treatment plan, which he prepared in the event one of Chris’ tests returned positive so they could implement it right away, when Jeremy returned to his office. They felt confident in his doctor’s competence.

“I know, but I want to make sure she’ll be okay. That she’ll be taken care of and won’t be alone. I don’t want her brother to worry about her when he has his own family.”

“She is his family.”

“You know what I mean.”

“You know what I mean, too. She’ll be fine. She knows what she’s doing. She always has.”

“Is this a private party or can anyone join?” Myr asked, standing over them.

“Now that you’re here the party can start,” Jeremy answered with a grin. “Sit.”

“How’s your brother?” Chris asked as she kissed them both on the cheek.

“Stubborn as usual. He forbids me to marry you.”

“What did Natalya say?”

“She wasn’t there.” She sighed. “I know he’s been worried about me since Mama and Papa’s accident, but if he says I’m not his sister anymore, what’s the difference?”

“He didn’t know how to react and said the first thing that came to him,” Jeremy answered in an attempt to reassure her.

“You don’t know him very well, Jeremy.”

“You have me there.”

Maybe going through with the wedding was a mistake, Chris thought. Her brother will outlive me. Then what will she do? Stop thinking like that. Pull yourself together. She’ll be fine.

“You’ll find a lot of people reacting like your brother because they don’t understand,” Jeremy said.

Myr leaned back and lifted her face to the sky with closed eyes, letting the sun warm her and bring her the peace she longed for since she left Mikhail’s.

Everything will work out, Chris told himself.

©Debi Smith, 2014

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Posted by on August 15, 2014 in Uncategorized


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