• Meghan Hurley

The Rule of Thirds & The Fugitive

In photography, the rule of thirds is a composition guideline that places your subject in one third of an image, leaving the other two thirds more open. It’s an imaginary grid yielding nine parts with four intersecting points. When you position the most important elements of the image at the intersection points, you produce a much more natural image.

I used to get mad at people around me who’d constantly try to talk me off a ledge, I wanted my time to be upset and I knew I deserved that.

I’ve begun to question the optimists, you know the "always sunshine, never rain" people. I wonder if they feel it too but they just know better than to acknowledge it.

We could learn a thing or two from the idealists, but you’ll learn three from me.

I allow myself to sit and sulk for one hour a day, 3 p.m. It’s not morning, so it doesn’t start your day and it’s not nighttime, so there’s plenty of space for damage control to prevent nightmares. It's the perfect hellscape for wallowing. It leaves the other two thirds more open.

When you think of your feelings as a grid, intersecting and overlapping, it’s easier to understand why.

I know that’s complex and unnecessary, I know. But I’m not the sunshine girl, I’m the find the lesson girl. I’m the “why” to your “what” and I only want to help. Feelings are confusing and they’re ever changing, so for me at least, it helps to have an origin point to anchor onto.

Turbulence is going to last as long as it can until you call it what it is. Once you’re out on the other side of the clouds you can stop white knuckling the armrest next to you, the worst is behind us. I try to be as transparent with my feelings as I can because the only way out of the clouds is through. Identify your intersections, realign and produce a natural image.

I want to tell you the story of a woman I met in a church, we’re going to call her the skin of the stars.

She was older— I’d age her mid to late 70s— and she had a thick Scottish accent. She was warm, maternal, and eloquent even though much of what she said was lost on me at first. I reminded her of someone.

She was alone just like me, but under very different circumstances. Her husband had died a year ago and she was finishing their bucket list. It was a pilgrimage they had penned together when they were young and freshly in love as university sweethearts. She told me that he had begun to cross adventures off the list with her but as they became more fantastical, his health declined. Barcelona was supposed to be their last stop, they even had reservations.

She still went.

The crowd was silent, my phone was dead, the doors opened and the line started to move towards the entrance. I had tears pouring from me like they had somewhere to be.

She took out an orange rosary and put it over my knee as she knelt down beside me and began to pray.

“I miss him so much,”

She took a deep breath in and starting picking at her fingernails.

“I miss all of them,”

She breathed out, ripping the hangnail from the inside of her thumb.

“I didn’t know it would be like this.”

I didn’t say a word and the inside of my cheek started to bleed.

“I used to try and get him to pray with me but he never could remember the words. He’d come along with me every Sunday and just sit silently.

He’d lay his head on my shoulder and just listen to my heartbeat.”

She looked up at me again, clutching her rosary she said,

“You don’t have to know the words dear,

go easy on yourself.”

Be fluid.

Every couple of months I’d reinvent myself until whoever they were pointing fingers at simply did not exist anymore. It was extreme and it did a lot of damage both to myself and to people around me as I tried to learn who it was that I needed to be in order to be the least abrasive version of myself.

Not to mention this little internet diary of mine has become quite the endless stack of firewood to fuel my imposter syndrome.

Who the hell am I.

So while I’ll try to teach you as best I can, this is a narrative of me getting back to my roots. Surely something will be misspelled and sometimes I forget to indent at the beginning of the paragraph. I don't even know if this is the same font I've been using in the rest of my little brigade, some of them were bolded I'm pretty sure? Who knows.

I feel strange right now, don't you? It's a terrible recipe of growing pains, but from my own surveying, no one is feeling spectacular right now.

I’m here with you,

I feel it too,

I want to talk about it,

I’m going to talk about it.

And hey, some of you out there might have no idea what I'm saying, you might feel great right now and that's awesome. What do you have that I don't? What am I missing?

I won't call you a liar, but if it walks like a duck and talks like a duck...

Just kidding.

No I'm not.

Who wants to see some range? For this next act I’ll be playing all the parts. Don’t be afraid of the wizard, he’s just a mirror. We’re going to heal the only way I know how, let’s pull the curtain.

It’s picture day,

say cheese.

I hope I can make you proud.


The Fugitive

Anger- resentful, frustrated and jealous

Joy- proud, hopeful and excited

Rather than cultivating the flowers I have, I wonder why the fallen die.

Not enough water.

Not enough sunlight.

Not enough attention.

I’ll do better next time.

When it inevitably erupts in flames, will you take the bridge or jump in the water? It says a lot about you, choose wisely.

Everything around me has felt so fragile that only a small prick would pop every last balloon. When I’m finally at my breaking point, I lock up. Instead of picking up the pieces or replanting the flowers, I’m completely avoidant of the mess.

So there I sit dull and disillusioned but I can’t bring myself to care because of the voice in my head constantly telling me that I don’t deserve to complain about a mess I created.

It wasn’t always this way, was it?

Being in my own company for all this time has totally blurred the line between being alone and being by myself, and I really struggle to tell the difference between the two. When being alone isn’t a choice, naturally we ask why we feel unnecessary to people we find so essential.

Are we too much?

Are we not enough?

It’s Russian Roulette with a fully loaded gun.

Am I too much?

Am I not enough?

Please don’t raise your voice with me, I didn’t mean to make a mess.

Everyone has a carrying capacity and it has nothing to do with you even though it’s always going to feel like it’s your fault. When people set a boundary with you, that’s their attempt to continue a relationship —not to hurt you.

“For someone who acts like she hates herself, you sure do like talking about you.”

“You can dish it out but you really can’t take it.”

“You’ve changed.”

“That’s not who you are in person, you’re not really open like that when I talk to you. You’re just cold and like to play the victim.”

“You asked for it.”

“You’re not worth the trouble.”

I’ll tell you why I lit the fire, consider this my confession. I’ve been a fugitive for so long, I am so tired of running.


The last time I was in the greenhouse I over watered the flowers so I thought maybe this time I’d let them dry out. They needed more sunlight, more attention, so I put them in the window and kept careful watch with a magnifying glass. Each leaf stretched towards the light and each petal was washed with sun, but they were starving and I was just too close to even notice. I was tired of failure and tired of watching the flowers die so I set the fire.

I wanted a blank slate, but I needed somewhere to go, somewhere that wouldn’t burn me. So I ran, but not far.

Where would you have gone, the bridge or the water?

If you prefer to sever ties and never look back, you’re a bridge person. In my head, the bridge has always been the easier way out, but there’s always the chance the bridge will burn too and you’ll be stuck on the other side. Sometimes that’s what we want, we want to get away from it all with no turning back. If you get far enough from the problem no one will even know you were the arsonist.

I am not that kind of person. I need to have a way back, so I jump in the river and tread with my head above water. I’m on the other side of the fence, behind the boundary.

Remember what I said about boundaries?

Once the coast is clear you’ll march right back into the house won’t you? Gosh you’ll be soaking wet too! Don’t victimize yourself, we know it was your fault, you were the only person at the scene and we saw you in the water. You’re a liar, you’re manipulative, you’re a narcissist. You’re a terrible person.

It was just a big misunderstanding, I know you didn’t mean to make a mess, it’s okay.

But you didn’t go far, you just went to the water’s edge. You wanted to keep a close eye on the flames until they ran their course. You were going to come back when it was safe to replant, I know you were, it’s okay.

What will they charge us with? What burned in that house? Who burned in that house?

I used to be so petrified to be left behind it was crippling. It’s nice to make a good impression, and I wish I would’ve left it at that. I was so jealous of everyone who seemed to fit the narrative so naturally and effortlessly. I did so much to be noticed, so much to be seen, that before long I completely withered away for the sake of saving face. For a while I lived life snug in the notion that I don’t have to be the title of someone’s book, it was enough to just be a chapter.

Coming from a writer, that is no way to live. If I’m going to be a book, I want to be enough to keep reading. But when you flip my page and get a paper cut, I hope it scars.

I grew bitter towards the fact that I had run out of paper and I resented everyone who used up a page so I burned the forest.

It was more than just the house, didn’t you see it? Didn’t you dare to pull your nose out of the book long enough to see that the world was on fire?

Kick rocks.

I was going to come back to the house, I promised I was going to make sure everyone was okay, but then I saw you. I watched you watch me with your back to the flames, I watched you point your finger towards me and start to yell but I couldn’t make out the words, I was already gone.

Somewhere along the way I learned not to be bothered by someone else’s capacity to accommodate me. In fact, I stopped looking for accommodation at all. The best realization you can make as a twenty-something year old is to understand that who and what you are putting your energy into is only competing against your own solitude. Readjust accordingly, because the only person you’re inconveniencing is yourself.

They didn’t like when I did that, but you can’t expect someone to hold their shape in your absence. I guess that’s why I’d been letting everyone down, isn’t it.

There are parts of me that lived extremely understated because I was afraid they weren’t justified, they weren’t necessary. But every now and then they get a little bit louder and they fight back. Nothing unnoticed is ever truly absent. It was quiet for a while, well, it’s getting louder now, isn’t it?

Can you hear yourself think?

Can you sleep?

I saw a stranger I knew very well last night. Her shirt was tear stained and her nose raw from tissue. Her eyes told the story of someone who just said no to the very first person who made her feel as though she should say yes, I know that look. She dropped a letter, in pencil she had scribbled:

‘And if you think I don’t, well, that’s when I do.

I’ve said see you later to myself so many times but for the first time in forever we’re at a new terminal.

I’ll say it this time with a smile, because I know she’ll have so much to tell me when I see her again.

I suppose she’s off to find what she’s been looking for.

I’ll see her when I see her, and I’ll still love her when I do.’

Are you nervous? Surely you thought her book burned with the rest...

Let this be the last thing I say to you,

If I’m too much, go find less.

You’ll miss the way I missed you and I’ll be just fine.

If you ever need nothing, I’m here for you.


This is for us, because people who pray do not deserve the rain.

I have a crazy demon of a woman inside of me itching her way out, begging to move halfway across the country and just start fresh. Red flag? Absolutely. Am I going to do it? Absolutely.

You're never really starting from scratch, you're starting from experience.

Losing a place to sleep is not the same as losing a place to live.

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