The Truth About Goodbye [A Narrative]


I love when you say goodbye in the morning; your kisses soft,  your voice warm and milky. You say silly things like you smell this morning my princess, which I can only assume means that my morning breath is both repulsive and cute. I know that you don’t want to leave especially since I’m only most affectionate when I just wake up, when I’m still cozy and in the mood to cuddle. I wish we could lounge in bed and hit the snooze button as many times as we want…

I love when you say goodbye in the morning not because I like to see you go but because I can hear the adoration in your voice. I can feel the warmth of your body beside me and see the smile on your lips. When I wake up with tired eyes an hour after you’ve left, I can still hear you whisper the word goodbye.

Love Always,

Vanessa Xo

The Bus Stop [A Narrative]

From the Madai Website

From the Madai Website

She stands at the bus stop on a busy, yet small, highway on the first warm day of Spring. Her auburn hair is neatly curled, recently cropped short at the nape of her neck. She looks at her freshly painted red nails, walks her index finger up her chest to finger her pearls delicately. She catches her reflection in the bus shelter and grimaces at her dress; what once tickled her figure and hugged her in all of the right places now stretches around her mushy flesh.

When she takes her seat on the bus, she knows that she is over-dressed compared to the early-morning commuters. She cares but not enough to run off the bus and head home; in thirty minutes she’ll be sitting under the sun on the lush grass, talking to the man she loves most.

He won’t care about her weight gain; men never notice petty things like that. He’ll watch her strut toward him in his favourite black dress of hers and suddenly space and time will have no meaning. She is his happiness. Sitting on the bus, wearing the pearls he gave to her for her 30th birthday, she is anxious to see him. Little does she know that he already sees her and she is his beautiful, glowing widow.

Love Always,

Vanessa Xo

Into the Fire, No Burns to Report [A Narrative]

From Beautiful Decay .com


He woke, his chest made of flames, burning into his heart. Smoke swam up his throat, choking him until he let it out. He was a dragon made up of fear. Nerves. Fear. Anxiety. They caused this paralyzing fire that interrupted his dreams, his sleep, his every waking hour. It hadn’t always been this way, when youth and innocence were on his side, Sylvester was feared nothing. Before the heartaches and senseless blunders, before his girlfriend’s abortion, and epic failures, Sylvester LIVED. He allowed and even enjoyed getting thrown into the fire, flames of all kinds. He tried anything he could and never looked back. His answer was always YES. Before, he jumped into the fire with both feet and came out with no burns to report. He relished in the notion that he was a survivor and that the fire could fuel him.

That was before, before his parents’ divorce, before his professor tried to touch him, before he saw the effects of chemotherapy, before school became difficult and failure a constant. Before he got fired for the first time, before his effort began to yield no results of success. Before it all seemed pointless.

Now, he’s burning on the inside, in a senseless, restless sedation.

Love Always,

Vanessa Xo

On Writing [About Life, Online]

Fiction, Lifestyle/Personal

I find writing about life, blogging about life, and dreaming about the future more difficult than actually living it. When I try to do all four, sometimes it’s impossible. I can’t say that I write to remember, I write to share, to express, to create, and most days to forget. When I sit at my laptop I often catch a glimpse of myself in the screen and I wonder about her. Who is this woman (that looks like a teenager) trying to fool? Her words could never express the amount of confusion that goes on inside her head, the fear in her heart. I don’t know if she’s more afraid that things won’t work out, or just scared that they won’t work out the way she thought they might.

I think myself an imposture. Writer’s write and some days I just can’t. I won’t. Who really cares what it feels like to be me at almost thirty, or ever for that matter? Who cares that some days my confidence sinks so far below the surface of my skin that I can’t quite remember who I am or what my ambitions are? That I’m suddenly anxious, afraid, and completely downtrodden by my own crippling doubts. Who cares that I suddenly feel lonely? Who notices that I put up brick walls and allow the doors, windows, and tiny cracks of light to be shut up with thick plaster? Who cares that I’m trapped with only the stench of my own morning breath to keep me company?

Who cares that I don’t feel strong enough to break the walls down?

Probably everyone, most likely no one.

Perhaps it’s only me and my fingers tapping at the keys.

Perhaps that is how it will always be.

*Excerpt from my next book This is Almost Thirty

Love Always

Vanessa Xo

Connecting Moments [A NARRATIVE]

From Pinterest

From Pinterest

Connecting Moments

Written by Vanessa Grillone on December 21 

When I awoke on Christmas morning, I pulled the black covers over my head and marinated in the stillness of the house. I breathed heavily, inhaling the stench of my own morning breath, bouncing off the covers and onto my face. I thought about my friend who had gotten engaged the night before. While she and her boyfriend of ten years skated hand-in-hand in the park, he faked a fall. Just as is started to snow, she leaned over to help him up. He got to his knee and pulled out the ring. I was there and it was magical, filled with kisses, hugs, tears, and giant snowflakes stuck on our faces. It made sense, it felt right. They were in love, they both had great careers, and they were old enough to know that their kind of love happens only once.

I thought about my other friend, living in Brooklyn, following her dreams. She’s living alone in a tiny apartment, trying desperately to become the well-known photographer she deserves to be. We had Skyped a few nights ago, she was on the brink of tears, sipping spiked coffee out of a chipped mug. She cried over the hours of work she did for free, over her rude boss (she is currently assisting one of the top magazine photographers in New York), over how lonely she felt, over how unhappy she was. She could barely pay the bills and had to ask her parents for money, which they happily gave her. She had always been independent but now she was alone and that was an intensely different thing. I did my best to make her laugh, to tell her that I’m just as alone as she feels, that I miss her and think about her all of the time. I reminded her that she is literally living the dream she talked about while we were in high school. I told her to go out and make friends, to get a part-time job at a pub and stop hiding from her new life. I told her that I envied her bravery and that if she gave it a chance, she could fall in love with Brooklyn.

I thought about my sister. The new(ish) mom with another one in the oven. I remembered how frightened she was when she found out she was pregnant for the first time. It was an accident, she told me. She wasn’t ready, she pleaded. She wouldn’t be a good mom and her boyfriend acted like a kid himself. She was inextricably wrong. My beautiful nephew was born and my sister and her now husband grew up and grew together. They became the parents they never thought they could be. They became the parents I knew they would become; loving, honest, and completely fair. They fell in love again and with the beginning of their own little family came a new chapter in all of our lives. My sister became a more thoughtful person, a more generous member of the human race.

My mind wandered to my parents and how much they’d given my siblings and I. Food on the table, hot water spewing from the faucets, an education, and love — things taken for granted in today’s society. I reminisced on all of the stories they told me, from the moment they met to the strict rules my mom’s parents had, to their wedding and financial scares. From their best moments to their worst. I thought about all of the sacrifices they made that I didn’t understand until recently. I contemplated on how many hours my father spent at the office and how he felt about missing some of our biggest moments. I wondered if he had regrets, the distant look in his eyes at the dinner table and the sad twinkling smile he gives to his grandson make me think that he does.

Just as I heard the front door open downstairs and let the smell of coffee enter my brain, I thought about myself and my future. I’d been complaining and crying over my lack of career, about allowing my life to become stagnant. I had suddenly, at the age of 27, become afraid of life. Afraid of applying to jobs because I might get rejected, afraid of taking the next step with my boyfriend, and agonizingly afraid that I made the wrong choice to follow my dreams. It’s interesting that when you look at someone else’s life you can bring clarity to their various moments, you can see how things are connected and appreciate them, but you can’t do it to your own.

I walked down the stairs on Christmas morning and picked up my nephew, who had been calling my name at the bottom of the stairs, I chose to appreciate that moment. I chose to understand that whatever happens next, that moment was important. And suddenly the idea of a new year and new opportunities filled me with excitement rather than the paralyzing fear I had gotten used to.

Vanessa Xo

*Connecting Moments is a work of fiction*


Hashtag First World Problems [A NARRATIVE]



Hashtag First World Problems

Written by Vanessa Grillone on December 8th.

It wasn’t until I discovered the hashtag FIRST WORLD PROBLEMS that I realized this world has some serious issues.

Public transit is so unreliable #firstworldproblems

Too tired to get up, too hungry to sleep #firstworldproblems

Hungover at work #firstworldproblems

When your favourite purse is sold out in store and it takes 3 weeks to ship to you #firstworldproblems

When your fridge is full but you have nothing to eat #firstworldproblems

The real first world problem is that all these first world countries are filled with a bunch of whiny complaining infants who spit out their milk when it’s too cold, instead of appreciating the fact that their parents could actually afford milk in the first place. People love to complain, I know that for a fact. We love telling people how difficult our lives are, how we’re “too busy” to make time for anyone else, how our lives are just one colossal disappointment after another/

I don’t want to go to work #FirstWorldProblems

“This is fucking ridiculous!” I protested and slammed my laptop shut. This outburst caused other four-eyed writers in the dimly lit, ironic coffee shop, to give me the stink-eye. I smiled shyly until they turned back to their screens. I am not a writer, I am a business student, studying the ways of social media marketing. I come to the same coffee shop every Sunday, ordering a black coffee, and sitting on one of the stools by the window. I don’t believe in online branding, I don’t understand how stupid the world has become. Who the fuck cares what this blogger or that influencer thinks? Why can’t people make their own choices?

I let my eyes wander out the window in front of me. I knew what lay behind. A few gentlemen baristas standing behind the excessively large counter, discussing their latest short story or science fiction novel as they serve gluten-free muffins and fat-free scones. On the couches sit students, writers, and bloggers, all pretending to write while constantly checking their social media feeds. There are a few of the more experienced salt-and-pepper writers with unwashed hair and heavy bags under their eyes, who actually have notebooks beside them filled with character notes and sketches. And then there are a few groups of women, sipping  sweet drinks with gossip dripping from their insecure lips.

This normally busy Toronto street is ghostly on Sundays, especially in the winter. Street cars trudge by, pedestrians walk sombrely, bikers barely pedal as they enjoy the Sunday slow-down before Monday comes and the rush of a new week begins. What would happen if people stopped complaining for twenty-four hours?

I’m not stupid or naive. I grew up in a loving family where money problems never reached the surface. Although I’ve worked since I was sixteen, my parents paid for my schooling and some months they even covered my rent. I have nothing to complain about but I know that as a product of this generation I let myself fall into the moshpit of complaining brats.

What if I stopped complaining for one day? Stopped any negative thought from entering my head, trained myself to be better than my society? What would happen? I’d probably worry less and laugh more. I’d deal with shitty circumstances a little better without giving myself pimples or insomnia. I’d appreciate our shitty transit system since I would use my extra time waiting to read. I’d learn how to take my time and stop rushing life. I’d probably have more friends who like their lives instead of friends who can’t see the good things right in front of them.

If I learned how to complain less and appreciate more, I’d probably be the only one in my generation with a smile on their face.

I’d probably be the only one living.

– Vanessa

*Hashtag First World Problems is a work of fiction*


Photo courtesy of Pinterest

Photo courtesy of Pinterest

The End

Written by Vanessa Grillone on November 20, 2014 

As I typed THE END to another short story, that would more than likely get rejected, I exhaled fire. My hands stopped typing and rested just above the keys, trying to keep afloat. I looked up from my laptop to a wall filled with photos, newspaper snippets, goals, and dreams. A photo of my niece smiling tugs at my heartstrings, she’s standing by the oven, posing like she doesn’t have a care in the world. A printout from the Globe & Mail gawks at me, writers living in poverty is the topic, it was sent to me by a friend. Two subway tokens mock me, taunt me. They tell me that I’ll never be that downtown girl I thought I could be. Movie stubs and receipts from date-nights are the only thing on the wall that make me smile, make me feel okay.

I stare at the wall so long that my sight turns fuzzy and I feel out-of-place. Suddenly I don’t remember where I’m sitting or how I got there. I feel disoriented and lost, I don’t know if I should be sitting or standing, if I should be coming or going. I look at my dry hands with perfectly shaped nails at the tips, they’re still hovering above the keyboard. I blink and get my sight back again. I remember what I was doing, the story I was writing about love and acceptance. I remember exactly who I was going to send it in to and what I hoped would come from it. I let myself relish in the thought of winning that writing contest. I see my name in lights, or online at least, along with a photo taken from my Facebook page. I see my parents telling the family that I won, that they’re proud of me, that they knew all along something wonderful would happen. My heart bleeds for their approval.

The scent of coffee shakes me, literally. I’ve completely awoken from my daydream but an uneasiness lurks inside me. It’s as though I’m sitting where I shouldn’t be, I’m in a chair that doesn’t belong to me, a parking spot that doesn’t say VANESSA. Somewhere else is calling my name but it’s so muffled by space and time I can’t quite hear it. I can’t sense which direction it’s coming from — North, East, South, West.
I’ve never been good with directions 

so I stay,

in someone else’s chair,

writing someone else’s story.

– Vanessa

*The End is a work of fiction*

The Songbird [A NARRATIVE]


* This narrative is dedicated to my cousin Amanda. Thank you for always challenging my writing and inspiring me to write more, be more, be better. Enjoy! *


The Songbird 

Written by Vanessa Grillone on October 31, 2014

It is a dead songbird that I nearly run over with my car on Hallows’ Eve. When I notice it, I assume it’s a dirty old sock that fell out of my brother’s car. I’ll make him pick it up when he gets home. I collect the empty water bottles thrown around my car, a mountain of plastic polluting the earth. With my hands full I somehow manage to grab my purse and swing the car door open. Incessant chirping floods my ears while goosebumps prickle the back of my neck. I thrust my booted feet out of the car and watch my phone sail away, it hits the ground face-first.


I run to my phone, throwing the water bottles without care. My heart pounds as I flip it over. The screen is cracked in the shape of a lightning bolt. I press the home button in panic. It works. I cannot afford a new phone right now. I caress my fractured phone then stow it in my pocket and stand up. The clouds are dark and dreary even though it’s one in the afternoon. The cold runs through my bones, brain freeze strikes all of my limbs. The trees are fading around me, the bright fiery red leaves disappearing into a copper-orange and brown the shade of bark. The wind whispers, winter is coming.

The chirping gets louder. I look around and then up. I see thirty robins sitting in a tree, their shrill voices aren’t singing — they’re screaming. Squawking, judging, and belittling me. Oh fuck off you nasty animals and stop shitting on my car! They get louder, where is my stupid dog when I need him? 

I think about running inside, but I remember my brother’s sock and the water bottles that are now at the end of my driveway. One by one I pick them up and whip them into our dank garage. Next I walk around to the passenger’s side of my car, ignoring the party of robins hovering above my head. The sock is not a sock, but a dead robin. I step backwards slowly, trying not to show fear. I want to walk inside, to feel the warmth and comfort of my house, but I’m frozen where I stand.

He looks peaceful, sleeping with eyes open.

He’s almost beautiful with a deep orange breast, soft brown feathers, and a perfect tiny beak.

I hope he got to the end of his very last song.

– Vanessa

*The Songbird is a work of fiction*