Cody Sexton “Diary in Reverse: Boys Will Be Boys”





Diary in Reverse: Boys Will Be Boys

By Cody Sexton

“Are you going to cry?”


“You know you are.”


The boy sat in silence not knowing what to say or do in response to this comment. He had fantasized about hitting the boy, several times, or any of the other children who made fun of him, but he knew he wouldn’t do it. Not really.

Another runner was batted home and took his place on the bench among his peers, being sure not to sit too close to the boy — the “pussy” — wearing the off-brand cleats.

He felt alone. He was alone. But it was the kind of alone where nothing anyone could have done would have changed anything, would have made a difference. He was just different, and how do you change that?

That boy was me. And this was the summer I, for whatever impulsive reason, decided it would be “fun” to play on our local little league team.

I’m still not sure why I decided to play. At the time the school I attended didn’t even have a little league team so I had to go to the next school over to sign up. I guess it just seemed like a good idea at the time, it’s what my “friends” were doing. I wanted to quit practically as soon as I started. 

“You start something you finish it.” My father told me.

I’m guessing he thought that it would help build or reinforce strong character traits? He couldn’t have been more wrong however. The experience taught me precisely nothing, except maybe how to hate someone properly.

Even the coaches seemed to not like me. I obviously wasn’t like any of the other boys, introverted, perhaps even a little shy, so they never understood know how to interact with me. Either because they didn’t know or simply didn’t care to know. With the other boys it was easy, with me it was hard. So they ignored me as much as they possibly could, silently wishing I’m sure, that I would quite the team.

Once during a particularly bad game for the opposing team, the pitcher had managed to walk the first two batters at plate, I was one of them, and as the next batter stepped up to the plate he caught a low one inside grounding it out to right field. That’s when I got the signal from the third base coach to run home so I took off, and crossing the home plate, managed to actually put another point on the board for our team.

However, back inside the dugout I was met with silence. My other teammates had ran the exact same play as I had, several times over throughout the season, making it across home plate either by hitting a home run themselves or were batted in as I was and whenever they did they were without fail met with applause from both the team and the teams coaches. Triumphantly greeted as hero’s with high fives and ass slaps. But there I was sitting at the end of the bench like an uninvited guest at a bridal shower. I actually began to question if I even made it home:

Did I even score?

Did I imagine the whole thing?

Had I never left the bench? 

As my doubt grew I sought to release it by asking our teams statistician if I had in fact made it across home plate, putting us ahead by another two points. She pulled herself away from the game long enough to say:


And then promptly returned to cheering for her son. (Who, surprise, surprise, was also our teams pitcher). She never even turned her head to look at me.

So much for team building.

So much for camaraderie.

I got the hint and found my spot on the bench again. I had expected as much from my teammates, but at that age was still too naive enough to expect it from the adults.

I’ve likewise been told for years to “be the better person” towards people who’ve treated me like this, like shit, most of them have been relatives. I get told this because they of course know the other person won’t do it for me. (And why is it that we always demand introverted children to be more outgoing? Why can’t the extroverts at least meet us half way for a change?)

Still, I stuck it out and when the season was finally over I was more relieved than I’d ever been in my life. As I said I learned nothing and never meet anyone that later became a “lifelong friend” as my father had assured me would happen. One of those friends with which to share a few beers and talk about the “good ole’ days” when we played out on the same field as our fathers had before us and as our sons would after us.

You might remember the quote about how parents will usually let their children become anything they want, except themselves? I think about this a lot. And I think this is maybe why I was always so ashamed of who I was as a kid. I was never allowed to be myself. As you might imagine this can lead to ever varying amounts of resentment over time and as a result anger has been one of the only guiding sources of encouragement in my life. I could always count on anger. Anger was the only thing that made me strong enough to leave the only home I knew. I held onto it and nurtured it every night, reciting the litany of offenses over and over into the darkness of my room. I needed to leave. I needed my anger to help me leave. Anger has been the only thing of use my father has ever given to me. (And I’ll be damned if I ever let anyone take that away from me).

Nevertheless, I never again played any other team sport, having decided instead to dedicate my life to more bookish pursuits so that one day I might be able to live life as I am.



About the Author: Cody Sexton is the managing editor for A Thin Slice of Anxiety. His work has been featured at The Indie View, Writer Shed Stories, The Diverse Perspective, Detritus, Revolution John, Due Dissidence, and As It Ought To Be Magazine where he is a regular contributor. In addition he is also a 2020 Best of the Net Nominee for his essay: The Body of Shirley Ann Sexton.


More by Cody Sexton:

The Body of Shirley Ann Sexton



Image Credit: “SINGLE BRACKET SIGN: “LITTLE LEAGUE FIELD #2.” – Hamilton Field, Base Street Signs, East of Nave Drive, Novato, Marin County, CA” (Library of Congress)


Revisiting 2020: Our 50 Most Popular Posts of the Year



Dear As It Ought To Be Readers,


Despite everything 2020 threw at us, AIOTB Magazine was fortunate to receive so many brilliant poems, essays, interviews, and book reviews from writers around the world. Below, I have assembled the 50 most popular posts of the year based on the amount of hits they received. I know that few people will look back at 2020 with fondness, but maybe reviewing these posts from the year is a reminder of the resilience people have to continue to create in a crisis, and to channel the anxiety of the world into writing that connects us.

AIOTB Magazine was perhaps the only constant I had in 2020 that began and ended the year exactly the same, and completely intact. I have all of you contributors and readers to thank for that. Thanks for keeping me sane and connected to a community of writers when I most needed stability, creativity, and human connection in my life.

I have no idea what 2021 will look like, but if you keep reading and supporting each other’s work, you’ll at least have three new pieces a week on AIOTB Magazine to count on.


-Chase Dimock
Managing Editor



Omobolanle Alashe:

Jason Baldinger:

Rusty Barnes:

Jean Biegun:

Victor Clevenger:

John Dorsey:

Ajah Henry Ekene:

Loisa Fenichell:

Jeff Hardin:

John Haugh:

Mike James:

Jennifer R. Lloyd:

John Macker:

Tessah Melamed:


Hilary Otto:

Dan Overgaard:

Rob Plath:

Daniel Romo:

Diana Rosen:

Damian Rucci:

Leslie M. Rupracht:

Anna Saunders:

Sheila Saunders:

Alan Semerdjian:

Delora Sales Simbajon:

Nathanael Stolte:

Timothy Tarkelly

William Taylor Jr.:

Bunkong Tuon:

Peggy Turnbull:

Brian Chander Wiora:




Chase Dimock:

Mike James:

Arthur Hoyle:




Chase Dimock:



Brian Connor:

Cody Sexton:



Micro Fiction

Meg Pokrass:

AIOTB Magazine Announces our Nominees for the 2020 Best of the Net Anthology



As It Ought to Be Magazine is proud to nominate the following poems and essays for the 2020 Best of the Net Anthology




Rusty Barnes: The Act of Working

Caroliena Cabada: True Story

Leslie M. Rupracht: Hess Trucks and the End of the Double Standard

Anna Saunders: The Delusion of Glass

Dameion Wagner: I Have Returned Home

Brian Chander Wiora: We Might Have Existed





Cody Sexton: The Body of Shirley Ann Sexton

Carrie Thompson: I Don’t Want Your Hug



Thanks to all of our nominees for sharing their work with As It Ought It To Be Magazine!

– Chase Dimock
Managing Editor




Image Credit: O.F. Baxter “Pointer Dog” (1860s) Digital image courtesy of the Getty’s Open Content Program


Cody Sexton: “Heathen”




By Cody Sexton


Here’s my problem. I want to believe in God and religion. I do. I want the certainty that comes along with it. I also want the comfort in knowing that when I die, I could be reunited with the ones I love. But I can’t. I’ve tried. I have prayed to God for years to help make me believe. But all I’ve ever received back is silence. Which can mean only one of two things, so far as I can tell. That I am either damned and have been from birth, or, and more likely, that God doesn’t exist.

I tried to be a religious person. The impulse lasted approximately one year before it one day vanished. I went to sleep one night and when I awoke the next morning the capacity to believe was gone. It simply wasn’t there anymore.

The way I look at it is that I didn’t have the talent to believe. I’ve always had a hard time getting past the obvious fiction of the whole thing. Having grown up in relative poverty, religion held complete irrelevance to my life. I had no time for it and the religious leaders had nothing to say about it either and if they did it was only to say that suffering, on the whole, was a good thing. Which only infuriated me. Which is probably one of the reasons I was so angry as a young man. To a large extent I still am. As a result I lost all respect for any type of authority. Which has both served me as well as handicapped me in life.

Religion proved to me that authority was impotent when faced with real problems. So my eventual atheism had as much to do with human reason, as it did with a rejection of authority itself. But, digging deeper, I realize now, that my eventual atheism, had just as much to do with a rejection of family itself. Continue reading “Cody Sexton: “Heathen””

Revisiting 2019: Our 50 Most Popular Posts of the Year


Dear As It Ought To Be Magazine Readers,

As we enter the next decade, I want to thank all of the writers and readers who have made our tenth year so successful. I take enormous pride in working with so many talented and inspiring writers. Without your brilliance and generosity of spirit and intellect, none of this would be possible. It has been a great privilege to publish your work on our site, and I hope to continue featuring diverse perspectives, challenging ideas, and unique voices for years to come. As a way to look back on what we accomplished in 2019, I have complied the 50 most popular posts of the year based on internet traffic and clicks.

Thank you again to everyone who wrote for, read, and promoted AIOTB Magazine in 2019. Let the 20s roar again!

Chase Dimock
Managing Editor



Jason Baldinger:

Ishrat Bashir:

Jai Hamid Bashir:

Luis Cuauhtémoc Berriozábal:

Jeffrey Betcher:

Ace Boggess:

Daniel Crocker:

John Dorsey:

Ryan Quinn Flanagan:

Tony Gloeggler:

Nathan Graziano:

Cord Moreski:

Jeanette Powers:

Stephen Roger Powers:

Jonathan K. Rice:

Kevin Ridgeway:

Damian Rucci:

Anna Saunders:

Larry Smith:

Nick Soluri:

William Taylor Jr.:

Alice Teeter:

Tiffany Troy:

Bunkong Tuon:

Agnes Vojta:

Kory Wells:

Brian Chander Wiora:

Dameion Wagner:



Daniel Crocker:

Nathan Graziano:

John Guzlowski:

Cody Sexton:

Carrie Thompson:



Chase Dimock:

Mike James:


Photo Credit: Fire Works At New Year’s Eve via Wikimedia Commons, Public Domain

Cody Sexton: “The Body of Shirley Ann Sexton”


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The Body of Shirley Ann Sexton


She was no longer a person.

She was death. Staring back at me from a hospital bed.

The death of my Aunt was my first experience with death and dying, it was also one of my first experiences with cancer, which, as it turns out, ended up playing a recurring role in a number of deaths in my family.

I can’t recall my age at the time of her death or really anything else about my Aunt, but I will never forget walking into that room and seeing her reduced to flesh stretched across white bone, completely hairless, and yet so happy to see me.

She was living back with her parent’s at the end and hospice had her setup in the living room. She was married to my Uncle, my Dad’s brother, and I guess her father had wanted her to be home at the end, I’m not sure. Perhaps my Uncle was either incapable or even unwilling to care for her. My Uncle, I had always assumed, had by that time moved on anyway, their lives diverging. Hers toward oblivion and his towards a life without her.

I can never forgive people who choose to move on. Even if it’s at the bequest of the dying. I have always found the notion that one should simply move on with their lives after they have suffered through the loss of a loved one silly, but it also appears as if it is inevitable. Time unfortunately does heal all wounds. So it becomes a constant battle to maintain the memory of the value of what you lost. Which is why mourning is active. Grief comes later and if you’re lucky, never at all. Grief is ultimately all we are left with. I am told that she used to babysit me every chance she could. I am told that she loved me very much. I am told that she had wanted children of her own but those plans had been halted by a capricious evolutionary process. A process that cares little for the wants and wishes of its hosts.

But I will always remember her smile as we entered her room that final time, the last time I would see her alive.

Actually that same smile would later go on to shatter my understanding of the natural world all together and she passed not much longer after that visit.

At her funeral I remember listening to the ridiculous things people say about the recently deceased.

“She looks good.”

“She’s not in pain anymore.”

Or my personal favorite,

“She’s in a better place now.”

At the time I didn’t understand what place that even meant and even now that I do I still can’t think of it as a better place. And I doubt anyone else really does either, otherwise funerals would be a celebratory event instead of a somber one.

During her viewing she seemed unreal to me. The whole experience seemed unreal. How could someone who was once alive now be dead? I couldn’t wrap my head around it. I refused to believe that what was presented to me in this casket had ever been alive. She looked to me as if she were a doll. A plaster cast of someone I once knew. They even had her dressed in a wig on account of the chemo, in a fruitless attempt to present her here as she was in life, even though now no life existed within her.

Embalming, if you think about it, is really a cruel joke in my opinion. I don’t know which is worse, to have your loved one bloated and decomposing or to have them looking as if they could just be shaken out of a deep sleep. At least if they were rotting you could believe that they were dead. The embalmers job is to enhance the ‘memory picture’, which is a psychologically dubious concept to begin with, supposedly compromising the bereaved’s last glimpse of the deceased. But in reality it’s just a callous trick. So there she laid. A corpse. Displayed in a funeral parlor for all to see. Anyone off the street could have walked in, and people, family and friends, were mingling and conversing with one another as of it wasn’t there. People so determined to avoid any inappropriate response, whether it be tears, anger, or even helpless laughter that they would talk about anything to avoid the reality of this room, the reality that would soon be a burden, something akin to trash that would need to be disposed of before it started to stink.

And yet, her appearance, before the funeral, while in the process of dying, is now the face that I will forever attach to any abstract idea I have of death. Her face is now what I picture when I imagine death on a pale horse riding toward Armageddon. The memory of her body while alive, poised on the eve of a great journey, has made a lifelong impression.

Her death has actually come to mean more to me than any other, not because I was particularly close to her, I was very young at the time, but because it showed me that death is always present, embedded in every moment. Her death taught me about man’s fruitless attempt to find meaning in a world where no meaning exists.

But why was she smiling, I have always wondered. How could she possibly be smiling knowing that nothing may very well lay ahead of her? It’s a courage or stupidity that I will one day come to know.

My god, why was she smiling?

I still wonder.


About the Author: Cody Sexton is a book critic/reviewer and lead writer at where he chronicles his lifelong obsession with the written word. He has also been featured at and Writer Shed Stories and has won several blogging awards such as The Versatile Blogger Award, The Sunshine Blogger Award, The Mystery Blogger Award, and a Blogger Recognition Award.


Image Credit: Dorothea Lange “Funeral Cortege, End of an Era in a Small Valley Town, California” (1938) Digital image courtesy of the Getty’s Open Content Program.

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