I am grounded in naiveté: It took me six tries to spell it right. I can’t find Ernest Hemingway’s 23 quotes on writing in Pocket where I saved them. My anxiety combs the roof. No! I don’t have time to try and learn a new technology right now, right when I just need look to a dead author for comfort.

A dead man. Why do I do that? Because he’s been helpful to me in the past.

As soon as I decided to cut Steve out of my life (so I’d stop being wounded by his rejections), he asked me to have tea. But I take notice from my dreams: He’s not actually emotionally available, though he tries to connect. I can sip my own tea and be grateful I can learn a new boundary with the one who taught me much of what I know about boundaries, and just say no. Or more likely, I’ll say yes, but with a strong moat around my heart. I always joked that he and I would build a moat to protect our daughter, the princess. Instead I, as queen, take my throne on the other side of the villiage and build a moat to keep out he who would wound me.

I know he doesn’t mean to. As they say, you can’t love anyone else more than you can love yourself. I’ve been hurt most by these men who cannot love themselves, and their razor’s edge has been both a killing field and a learning curve. But I am done now.

I walk away and take my place at home, with my beloved, and let them go. I hope the princess will return as it’s in her highest good, and ours, but more than that I wish her health and happiness. If I could know she was both happy and healthy, I think I could let her go far and wide and not see her more than she wishes, even if it were not at all.

It’s not easy. I am not a plaything. But I am learning to let go and it’s marvelous. I let the past knock and breathe fire down the chimney, but we are secure here in our marvelous stone castle. Warnings have been heeded. I take a deep breath and I look outside for new beginnings.

They are everywhere. Spring demands homage with light that blinds our winter eyes. At long last, dough, fresh from kneading. All my complacency dwindles. The key’s sprung the lock. I am vaporized. I knead the Earth more and come out sputtering. How can they allow it all to die off? I wish I were a dragon or a magic super heroine with more power than all the world and that I could scare the pants off these greedy bastards and make them bow to my will.

Which is Thy will. Instead, I flounder in my extreme vulnerability, and our gentle Earth’s. We may die in our lifetimes.

My own reflection’s been strangling me. No more. I turn to the glass velvet castle mirror and I charge open from neglect all the monsters who have left me to breathe fire. Dew me. Wet me from your vantage point. Allow this flaming tendril to spark and rise and I along with it. We rise as smoke, pure flame, adjacent to all that’s ever been. I have been dying for so long I don’t remember when it started. But it’s time’s up. Today, right now, and for as long as I must, I must stay alive, breathing flames or licking up whatever the EPA has crushed us with under the monster this time. Whatever toxins will kill us slowly, I live.

My heart in my hand, a flame in my throat, and a belly churning with everything I’ve been afraid to become, I dare.

Whatever is there to lose?