Keep Your Head Up

Thank to Kate for suggesting Ben Howard’s “Keep Your Head Up” (yes, I used the song title as my own…I’m lacking creativity 😉 ). I hadn’t heard of Ben Howard until now. It’s always great to find a new, brilliant voice.

#AtoZChallenge 2019 Tenth Anniversary blogging from A to Z challenge letter

Keep Your Head Up

In college my best friend, Tina, a girl who smoked pot then wrote poetry because that was the only way she could get in touch with her voice, told me, “You’re too touchy-feely for a guy, but I respect that. You wear your heart on your sleeve and write love poetry for women who are bitches and who will never even with their last dying breath respect you. You gotta write for you, dude. And maybe fall for a nice girl once in a while.”

Ten years later, as Giselle stomped out of the apartment, managing to slice her stilettos through my heart in the process, she said, “You’re such a girl, Jake. All that flowery word crap isn’t romantic. It’s pathetic. Grow a beard. Get tats. Be a man. If you weren’t good in the sack, I wouldn’t have lasted this long.”

Giselle was beautiful in that way that women who spend too much time getting manicures and pedicures and spending hundreds on the salon and spray tanning and then thousands on the clothes are. All beauty, on the outside, and no heart, on the inside. Yep, I thought because she was so beautiful that she would have a beautiful soul, but I’ve been slow in that regard, and I think about Tina who told me the truth and still does when she and her girlfriend, Adrienne, sit on my couch eating greasy pizza, drink Dark and Stormys, and smoke pot.

Tonight, Tina was by herself since Adrienne was working the late shift at the hospital. “You look better.”

I raised an eyebrow. “Thanks?”

“No. You know, you were looking so bad, unhappy for so long. That Giselle was trouble. She was like some incubus sucking your dry.”


“What have you written?”

I shrugged. I didn’t really want to show Tina my latest, less than greatest, poem.

“Oh, crap. You don’t want to show me what you’ve written? You’ve never done that. You’ve got to show me.”


“Show me. You know I’m a bulldog about these things.”

She was. A typical dog with a bone. She’d be relentless and I’d get a headache before finally caving. I decided to avoid the headache.

Defeated, I went into my study and grabbed my notebook. I tossed it onto her lap.

Her grin was like a kid with a hand in the candy jar. She immediately opened to the last page of writing and began reading. Her silence jabbed at me.

“Well?” I asked.

She looked at me and then smiled. “I hope these words are true, Jake. If they are, you’re finally home.”

I smiled. The words were true. I’d found my soul, my voice, and knew I didn’t need a woman like Giselle tramping on my heart. Maybe someday, I’d meet a woman who’d love me for me, the poetry geek guy, one who wouldn’t think that wanting love sounded feeble or “girly”.

We all deserve love and that’s not a weakness; it’s not something designated for one gender or the other. Isn’t it weaker to not admit that you need and want love? What’s the use of hiding it all away?

Tina pretended to wipe tears away. “My boy has finally grown up.”

I laughed before I tossed a cushion at her. “It’s about time, yeah?”


Sascha Darlington

One thought on “Keep Your Head Up

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.