Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Irene


A taste of the short story I'm working on:

She looked around this place, this open expansiveness of land that stretched beyond the horizon and below the earth and above the heaven. Things exploded with color around her—the ground, the buildings, even the sun. Everything pulsed with a life, a beat, a rhythm. She inherently understood that she was on a date, one of those realizations that only come in dreams. Carmen was there and she drifted about lazily, appearing in front of Irene’s face and speaking to her, but she could only see the shape of her lips moving to form what Irene assumed to be words; no sounds came out. The muffledness that seems to sometimes accompany dreams engulfed her, as if she were floating in a bubbleless underwater world where no sound could reach her. Irene saw a man come near her and instantly knew it was him. The muffled feeling left her, and suddenly all noise was crisp and clear. He said hello to her and put his hand out for her to touch. Her fingertips met his and the pads of their fingers pulsed in a rhythmic beat, and she could see the colors pulsing and radiating from their connection. First purple, then aqua, then indigo, then yellow. Like a rippled rainbow created by the joining of their souls. Carmen danced on the ripples, hopping from one to the other as they stretched out across the expanse of this dreamland. He embraced Irene’s hand then and they began to walk. Except their walk no longer involved their feet touching the ground; instead, they floated above the surface of the street, and it took four steps to cover the same distance as a real-life one.
Irene was consciously aware of the dream. As if she were watching a film, she saw the couple progress down the road to her home, to what really felt like their home. With each step, yellow pulses rippled from their feet, emanating from the tips of their toes and rippling out like water across the pavement. The longer they held hands, she felt an inconceivable joy, as if simply being there with him at that moment was all she ever need to sustain her. Forever.
She knew it was not real, yet the pure happiness she felt could in no way be fake. Her happiness grew with each passing moment, until at last she felt as though she would explode in a blissful euphoria. She could see Carmen in the distance now, still hopping on the ripples that grew further and further apart. She finally settled on a purple one, faced the couple and waved goodbye. Then she disappeared in only the way people disappear in dreams.
They stopped walking just then, and he turned to look at her. She could see herself through his eyes. She noticed the pulsing blue of her iris, bluer than any summer sky or any crystal lake, and wondered why they were not this blue in reality. As he leaned toward her she entered her own body again, just in time to taste his lips, his tongue, his essence.
Irene, you have to wake up, she consciously though. This is not real. This is not real. You have to stop!
But dream Irene was too engrossed, too enveloped in the taste of his kiss to realize the danger of her happiness. She returned his pressing lips with passionate ones of her own, and moved her hips closer to his. She wanted more. Had to have more. She wanted the pulsing to keep rippling out from their embrace, to fill this entire mystical place with a yellow ripple and to make their world explode with happiness and pure joy.
Irene, NO! This is not real. This is not real. This is not real!
WAKE UP!
Irene lay motionless, her eyes closed. She saw only a faint yellow ripple, and then darkness. She tried to momentarily grasp at the dream, but it was like grabbing at smoke in the air. It escaped her and lifted like the morning fog, and no matter how hard she tried she could not hold on to it any longer. She replayed the image in her head. His hand, his face, his taste. The sea of colors pulsing and rippling across the expanse of the horizon. The want for it all to be real in all its absurdity. The man she was falling so desperately in love with, and whom she truly believed was falling in love with her too. The bliss still anchored in her heart, heavy like an iron burden. She lay still, attempting to will her dream into reality.
Please be real. Please let it all be real. Let this be my life.
One minute later, a minute that for all Irene knew could have lasted an eternity, she came to the bitter acceptance that it was not real. It was simply a dream, and she opened her eyes and stared at the blank, white wall of her room.

Friday, November 12, 2010

My Lullaby


And I know all too well what it’s like
To have the tears dropping down be my lullaby.
The ghost of your memory haunts me at this time
No matter how hard I try
To erase the taste
To erase the touch
To erase the tears
Nothing’s ever quite good enough.

I’ve drowned them in whiskey,
I’ve smothered them with wine,
And the drink falls in drops
As hard as the rain from the sky.
The only thing worse
Might be a dry spell, a drought.
I can only imagine the absence of tears
Would be the result of a numbness felt.

So tonight I’ll lay down my paper,
I’ll lay down my pen.
I’ll give in to the sadness and let it all cave in.
Consume me, take me, rip me apart,
Anything to fill the gaping hole
Inside my heart.

Monday, November 8, 2010

He saw her there...

I wrote this about a year ago and felt like sharing since I haven't had much time to write anything new. But things are in the works so be sure to start following!


He saw her there, across the room. She threw her head back in laughter like she did so often. Some people said her laugh was obnoxious. He admitted that it was on the boisterous side, but he never tired from hearing it. The laugh was contagious really. Just hearing it made people smile and chuckle, not from amusement at her expense but because those who heard it couldn’t help but share in her laughter.
            He watched her over his drink as she leaned into the shoulder of the man standing next to her. She tilted her chin up just enough to whisper into his ear. Her soft, pink lips broke into a clever grin, like she had just stumped him with the riddle of the century. She touched the man’s arm gently, then slid off the bar stool and sauntered back toward their table. She looked up at him and he quickly turned his head in the other direction.
            “Isn’t this club amazing?” she shouted as she took her seat next to him. “I can’t believe how many people are here!”
            He nodded and took another drink of his beer to quickly recollect his cool demeanor. He had always been careful to act cool around her, never letting her see how consciously aware he was of her every giggle, the tilt of her head, or, like tonight, the hem of her very short skirt. Luckily the loud band and flashing lights provided enough of a distraction for her not to notice his minor slip.
            “Was that Jeff over there at the bar?” he asked casually. She didn’t really need to answer. He knew that it was Jeff—he had been the one to introduce them.
            “Oh, you saw us? Yeah, he actually came out tonight. It was really good to see him,” she answered, cool as ever. Her smile grew and her eyes sparkled just a touch more. He noticed her head turn to look at Jeff one more time, then she turned her back to him fully and faced her friend at the table. “He’s still single isn’t he?”
            The question was meant to be a whisper but came out quite loudly. It had to, or it would be lost in the bass of the band playing just across the room. Despite this, the question seemed to echo doubly loud in his ear.
            “Jeff? Oh, yeah, yeah. Last I heard anyway.” He drained the remainder of his beer, which was still half-full. “Are you interested?”
            “Maybe,” she said. A quick glance over her shoulder told him that she was more than interested. “We’re going out to dinner tomorrow night.”
            “Waiter! Another?” He raised his empty bottle to signify his want—no, his need—for another drink. Unable to compete with the noise in the room, a passing waiter nodded his head to acknowledge his request
            “You’re really throwing ‘em back tonight,” she observed. “Everything okay?”
            Besides the fact that one of my friends is taking you out, yeah, sure, everything is fine. He pushed the thought out of his head.
            “What? Yeah, yeah I’m fine. Jeff’s a really good guy, you two should have a fun time together.” He didn’t want them to go out together, yet at the same time he was endorsing their date.
            “He is a good guy.” She paused and looked at him somewhat quizzically. “You know, I was once told that I’m a really cool girl, too. Maybe it’ll be a good match?”
            He smiled wryly at this and said, “Hmmm, I’m not sure who would ever tell you that….” She hit his shoulder playfully, then said she was going to order another drink at the bar. The screech of the chair across the wooden floor was lost in the noise of the club. She stopped to say hi to some friends, then found her way back to the same bar stool she so gracefully left only a few moments before.

*  *  *

They had been walking for some time now and still hadn’t come across the trail. Thankfully, it was a gorgeous day outside. The sun was shining bright over the mountains, making it a cool 35 degrees. Sunlight seemed to reflect across the snow into every corner of the forest, and the cloudless sky was welcoming after the week of snowstorms.
            He looked at her as they made their way half-hazardously through the woods. He couldn’t believe how lucky he was to have met her. Her dark fair fell gracefully over her shoulder as she clambered over a fallen tree. She stopped then, and her hazel eyes met his.
            “I’m sorry, we’re lost,” she admitted. “I thought I went this way once but that was before the snow, and, well, I’m sorry.” She looked truly apologetic, as if getting lost in the woods with her wasn’t the best thing that had happened to him all week.
            “Well, maybe we should just wait,” he suggested. He sat down on the tree that she had just conquered and she sat down next to him, facing the other direction. She sighed heavily and shrugged her shoulders.
            “Wait for what?” she asked.
            “I think if we wait long enough something will show us which way to go.” They sat in silence for a few minutes. He was suddenly aware that she was staring at him. He turned and met her gaze. They smiled at each other, somewhat knowingly. A thousand thoughts raced through his head.
            Maybe this will be the day, he thought.
            She began tracing the outline of his hand, and that was all it took. He interlaced his fingers with hers. They sat there for what seemed like an eternity, holding hands, facing opposite directions.
            Suddenly, she jumped and let out a small shriek as a large branch snapped thirty yards away. She squeezed his hand tighter and he turned to see a 7-foot moose clambering its way in their direction.
            “Don’t make any sudden movements,” he whispered in her ear. She leaned against his arm and nestled her head into his shoulder.
            “That’s the biggest one I think I’ve seen!” she whispered back, but without any trace of fear. Instead, there was a tinge of excitement in her voice.
            The moose stopped moving and lifted its head to look at them. There the three of them sat, staring, no one willing to avert their eyes.
            Then, after only a few minutes, the moose continued on its path, moving away from the two. They both let out sighs of relief, and she loosened her death grip on his hand.
            “I think we should go this way,” he said, pointing to a spot in the distance.
            “Why that way?”
            “Because he went that way,” he explained, nodding in the direction of the disappearing moose.
            “Hmmm, excellent point.” She laughed and swung her legs over their tree-bench, still holding his hand. “He was so close, I can’t believe it! And it seemed like an eternity that he was just standing there, gaping at us.”
            “I was ready to throw you in for bait and make a run for it,” he joked. At that she let out a boisterous laugh, tilting her head back and running her free hand through her hair.
            “You would do something like that. Is that the trail over there?”
            It was. They made their way back towards civilization. As they did so, he realized there was still a hand in his own. It had happened, he realized. They had just made the transition into that grey area. That space between “friend” and “girlfriend” that made him nauseous. That area that had given him many headaches before, and had caused him to lose too many great friends. He looked at her. He couldn’t let that happen again.
            “Hey look, a penny!” he fibbed and reached to pick up the invisible coin with his occupied hand, instantly freeing it from its previous grasp. He clasped his fingers around the fake object and instantly jammed his hand into his coat pocket. He stole a side-ways glance and saw the quick glimmer of confusion cross her face. Just as instantly it was gone, and she smiled at him.
            “I hope it was heads up, otherwise that’s bad luck,” she said, looking over her shoulder, checking to see if the moose had followed them.
            It’s probably even worse luck if the damn thing doesn’t exist, he thought. They continued on the path, then onto the street and back to her apartment. They talked for a while, then fell into silence. He was still comfortable walking with her, even when they didn’t say anything. Time with her was never forced or awkward.
            They stopped at the door to her apartment. She turned to face him, and he felt she was expecting him to say something significant. He looked at her for a moment, gathering the courage to be the ass he knew she would think he was.
            “You’re a good hang-out buddy, you know,” he started. He could tell this wasn’t what she was expecting to hear, but her face gave no sign of discontent either.
            “Good to know,” was all she said, but with a smile.
            “Yeah, good to know,” he echoed dumbly. He had put girls in the “friend zone” a few times before, and this was going surprisingly well.
            “Alright, well, we’re still on for tomorrow night, right?” she asked.
            “Right. I’ll give you a call.” She smiled and took a step towards him, but only for a hug. The embrace was brief. Very friendly. Then she was on her heels and unlocking her door. She didn’t look back and the door closed with a gentle “click” behind her.

*  *  *

“Want to dance?”
            The question catapulted him back to the present. He looked up to see those hazel eyes looking back at him, a curious glint in them that he hadn’t seen for some time. That walk in the woods was nearly a year ago.
            Electric Avenue was playing in the background.
            “Hell yeah I do!” He jumped to his feet and grabbed her hand, leading her to the center of the dance floor. He wasn’t a very a good dancer, but neither was much of the crowd in the club that night. Really, when they danced together, it was always more about having fun than looking good.
            “My signature move!” she shouted, and started doing the sprinkler. He reciprocated with “the shopping cart,” and they both laughed and continued moving and grooving to one of their favorite songs. He took a few steps back from her and made a move like a fisherman casting his line. She caught on, like always, and pretended to be reeled in by the imaginary hook. Once she was close enough, he grabbed her by the waist and pulled her close to him.
            “I always did like fishing, although I don’t think I’ve ever really caught anything good,” he said.
            “Until tonight, that is,” she added. They both laughed uncontrollably and she moved to take a step back. He didn’t let go. She slowly turned to look at him, and he held on a moment longer. This embrace was more than friendly. Then he dropped his arms, put one hand on the back of his neck and checked his other for the time.
            “Whoo, it’s late. Think we should call it a night?”
            She looked at him a moment longer, trying to read his face. He hoped she didn’t see anything there.
            “Sure, let me grab my jacket.” She turned and began walking away, looking back once with a quizzical look on her face.

*  *  *

At this point they had known each other only a couple of months. They had been out on a few dates and had a moment or two where he really thought they could have something special. Their latest encounter with a moose had left both of them wondering where things were going. He knew he had feelings for her, but at what cost was he willing to find out where things would go? At the expense of a friendship?
            The party was casual. A good-sized group of about 20 just socializing and playing some drinking games. Very much the college scene, in between the keggers and the frat parties. He hadn’t been to something like this in a while, but was happy she had invited him.
            It wasn’t long before they were both buzzed, sitting on the couch together chatting with some people about their summer plans. The two of them appeared to be simply friends most of the night. She was chatting with several guys on the basketball team, being borderline flirtatious. He didn’t like it, he decided, but thought it would be better to simply deal with it. He had, after all, called her a “buddy.” Did he really expect anything different?
            No, he decided. It was better this way. He got to keep his friendship and not worry about that gray area anymore. But maybe there doesn’t have to be the gray area, he thought. Maybe we could just, be together.
            The thought had crossed his mind. Several times. But he knew better. She was here for school, probably leaving in a couple of years once she graduated. He wasn’t willing to get into a complicated relationship.
            But she does look great tonight. She was in heals and a dark pair of jeans. Her black blouse dipped dangerously low, and her dark hair was pulled back at the nape of her neck, spiraling down around her collarbone. As if she was reading his mind, she looked up and saw him watching her. She politely excused herself from the two six-foot ball players and walked back to join him on the couch.
            “Hi,” she said.
            “Hi,” he replied.
            “Having a good time?”
            “I am. I’ve decided that you and your friends are a lot cooler than the basketball team, though.” She laughed her laugh, maybe not so much because what he said was funny but because she was drunk. Her face was flushed and her eyes sparkling. Her smile never left her face.
            “That’s because we are!” she concluded. Then, as if by instinct, she reached for his hand. He was acutely aware of her leaning in close to him, and in his best effort to be casual he took his hand back into his own possession. On a sober night, this would have been a clear signal that that was not okay; but she was persistent, and finally he just looked at her.
            “We talked about this,” he said.
            “No, we didn’t,” she retorted. She looked at him expectantly and reached for his hand again. He let her hold it this time, but continued talking.
            “Yes, we did. I just like the way things are.” She stuck out her lower lip in a pout at this comment. He chuckled and looked down. She wasn’t going to make this easy. She laughed as well.
            “So I’m officially being put in the friend zone then?” she asked. This caught him off-guard. He’d never had a girl simply ask that before.
            “Does that officially put me in the ass zone?” he asked. She looked at him for a second, hesitating, and he swore that she was going to say yes.
            “No,” she finally answered. “No, it doesn’t.”
            “You’re a really cool girl. I like hanging out with you.”
            “I know I am!” she exclaimed with a huge grin. She let go of his hand and reached for another beer.
            “So we’re cool, then?” he asked, somewhat shocked. If this was really how she was reacting, then she really was a cool girl, or she wasn’t really that into him to begin with.
            “Yeah, definitely.” She grinned, and got up to join her friends in the kitchen. He watched her walk away, wondering what she was really thinking at that moment.

*  *  *

“Hey! Sorry, I know you’re ready to go but Jeff just asked if I wanted to dance.” He snapped back to reality. He had always wondered how things could have been different that night. Maybe, just maybe if he had been honest with her, things would be different.
            “Wait, what?” he started.
            “Jeff,” she said a bit louder. “He wants to dance. It’ll just be a few more minutes, then we can go, I promise. Unless you really want to go, I could probably have Jeff—“
            “No, no, I can wait,” he interrupted. If he had told the truth that night, another guy wouldn’t be asking her to dance right now. Then again, maybe they wouldn’t even be speaking. Regardless, Jeff taking her home was the last thing he wanted at that moment. She flashed her brilliant smile and turned to meet Jeff on the dance floor. Much to his irritation, Jeff was a much better dancer than he was. Watching him with her sent a burning hole through his stomach. Every time he touched her he wanted to storm over to the pair and, quite frankly, punch Jeff squarely in the jaw. Instead, he turned his back on them and once again turned to his drink.

*  *  *

She leaned back on the couch and rested her head on his shoulder. He didn’t mind. He finally felt as if they were in a place where their friendship could really take hold, and he didn’t have to worry about crossing any lines anymore. There was no gray area. They were friends. Period.
            He interlaced his fingers with hers just then. He felt her body relax into his. He felt an inner comfort. With her, he could reach a peaceful place where it seemed nothing could go wrong. He closed his eyes for a few minutes, then looked down at her. Her soft brown hair fell across her face. The curve of her cheek rested softly on his shoulder, as if they were made to be next to each other. Her lips. She had the most amazing lips…
Stop it, he told himself. You’re buzzed, that’s it. Stop.
            “I think its time for bed,” he said. He looked down to see if she was still awake. Her eyes stayed closed, but he stood up anyway.
            “Aw, no, one more beer!” she said. He recognized the agitation in her voice but passed it off as her being drunk more than her being upset that he had moved from their comfortable position.
            “You’ve had enough, I think,” he laughed. He stretched as he stood, a giant yawn consuming his face. “Are you crashing here tonight?”
            She stood, mimicking his stretching arms and reaching for his hands. They locked together and he caught her as she stumbled to the side. She was still drunk, he realized. Probably the only reason she’s being so flirty, he thought.
            “You’re not driving, that’s for sure.”
            “Well, am I staying here,” she gestured to the couch, “or here?” She wrapped her arms around him and buried her face in his chest. He chuckled and kissed the top of her head. This was exactly what he didn’t want to happen. He slowly saw the gray trickling in around their seemingly perfect friendship. The problem was, he was having a hard time letting it be that way.
            “I think you know the answer to that question,” he simply replied. He waited then, anticipating her reaction. In all reality, he didn’t know what she would do. He wanted to take her to bed with him, but he knew better. He had set the ground rules a long time ago and didn’t want to cross those lines.
            She stayed where she was for what seemed like an eternity. In reality, it was a fraction of a second. Then she suddenly pushed him away and turned, walking into the kitchen.
            “I’m going home,” she said. He was caught off-guard—this was the reaction he would have expected after he initially told her he only wanted to be friends a few months before. Bewildered, he stared after her as she walked away. He cautiously followed her.
            “Well, okay. Let me call you a cab then,” he said, much more quietly. He saw her at the kitchen counter, fumbling in her purse. “Whoa, whoa, whoa. You can’t drive, babe.” He walked briskly to her side once he saw her keys in her hands. He tried to take them from her. He touched her hand and to his surprise, she pulled away.
            “Don’t” was all she said. He tried to look at her, but she was staring at the floor. He saw her eyes watering and a tear fell onto her cheek. No, please don’t cry. This is exactly what I didn’t want to do. I don’t want to hurt you.
            “Hey,” he whispered. “What’s wrong? I thought we had a good time tonight?”
            “We did,” she whispered back. “I just really want to go home now.” He looked at her then. Really looked. He finally saw what he had been missing this entire time. As strong and steady as she made herself appear, she was still fragile. She could still be hurt. He felt an overpowering urge to make her pain go away. He never had intended for this to happen, his reasoning for only being friends with her from the beginning. The exact thing he tried to prevent had happened anyway. And now, he wanted nothing more than to hold her and make everything better. He drew her in for a hug, but she jerked free from his arms.
            “Stop it! Just stop it! You can’t keep doing this to me!” she yelled as she walked away from him. “I can’t do this anymore. You know how I feel about you and you can’t…you can’t just decide, you know, when it’s convenient for you, to keep me around! You can’t!”
            “What the hell are you talking about?” he asked, instinctively becoming defensive at her attack.  “I haven’t done a damn thing to you! We went out tonight and had a good time, what’s so wrong about that?” As the words left his mouth he could taste the sour lie.
            “It’s not just tonight and you know it. The flirting, then shutting me out. The ‘friendship’ thing. ‘I like the way things are.’ It’s all bullshit and you know it! God, just admit it already.”
            “I do like things the way they are. We have fun together and sorry I don’t want to ruin that!” He walked towards her. If she wanted to fight, he wasn’t going to stand down. She stood her ground. “Dammit, don’t make things complicated.” She took a step towards him, and fought to control her voice. She was inches from his face.
            “Make things complicated?” she said as evenly as possible, lowering her voice to just above a whisper. “Make things complicated? What the hell do you call it when you hold my hand? When you call me ‘babe’? When you kiss me on the forehead? Who’s the one making things complicated? Who’s the one afraid of how they really feel?” Her eyes pierced his, and he knew that she saw him then. He couldn’t hide the way he felt anymore. He saw the flicker in her eye as she saw the realization in his. She knew she was right.           
           “My cab is here,” she said, glancing over his shoulder and seeing the bright taxi sign out the window. She slipped between him and the kitchen wall, grabbing her purse from the counter as she gracefully made her exit.
            “Why can’t you just stay here?” he grumbled as she walked away. He saw her stop and for a moment thought she was going to unravel into another yelling spree. Instead, she turned around and calmly walked back to him. She took his hand and his heart began to beat faster. He was terrified. Here she was, ready to risk everything. She leaned towards him, and his lips yearned for hers. But his mind spoke louder than his heart. He turned his head. He watched her as she closed her eyes for a moment, and then looked into his. He knew she saw his fearful eyes staring back at her, despite his efforts to hide them.
            “That’s why. Goodnight.” He watched her leave his living room, careful to shut the door behind her. The door gave a gentle click. He heard her heels clack across the pavement. The cab door shut with a gentle thud. He stared at the door for a minute, and then walked up the stairs to his room.

*  *  *

The drive home went quickly. She talked most of the way, and he only caught bits and pieces. Not that what she was saying wasn’t important—he simply couldn’t help but let his mind wander to that night. He remembered thinking he would never see her again. He had never felt so terrible in his entire life. He pulled up in her driveway and put the car in park.
            “Thanks for coming out with me tonight,” she said. “It was really nice, hanging out like we used to.”
            “It was. Let me walk you to your door?”
            “Um…sure.” She was caught off-guard by the request and didn’t hide it. He realized suddenly that he wasn’t exactly sure what he was doing. She hadn’t talked to him for a month after that fight. It was one of his loneliest months ever. She had finally returned one of his calls and they met for lunch. She insisted that she was fine, but he had still felt as if she was hurting. They both felt a slight awkwardness between them, even now.
            “It was a great club,” he said to fill the void, something he had never had to do with her before.
            “It was,” she said. They stopped at her front door and she slid the key in the lock, but didn’t turn it. She sighed and turned around.
            “Do you think Jeff will like me?” she asked.
            Oh, that’s what she’s thinking about. Of course…
            “I don’t see why not. Besides, I’ve heard that you’re a pretty cool girl,” he chided.
            “Yeah, I remember hearing that once.” She took a step towards him and looked up at him. “Do you think, you know, the person that said that, still feels the same way?” He put his fingers under his chin and pretended to think long and hard. She recognized his joke and kicked him in the shoe.
            “Oh stop it!” she said, laughing. He put his hands on her shoulders and looked her in the eyes. She stopped laughing and stood, waiting for an answer.
            “Yes, I think it’s safe to say that he still feels the same now,” he said, “as he did then.”
            Then he saw it. It was the expression he must have missed that night at the party. It was only there for a moment, even less, but it was there. The fleeting look of disappointment. Just as quickly as it had appeared a smile replaced it, and she stepped in to give him a friendly hug goodnight. When she went to pull away, he held her tighter. His fear had allowed her to walk out his door that night they fought. He wasn’t going to let her walk away through another door for the same reason.
            “Except this time,” he whispered into her ear, “I’m not going to be afraid to feel that way.”
            She pushed him back and for a moment he thought she was going to hit him for being an idiot for the past year. Then, she melted into his arms and looked at him with that glint in her beautiful hazel eyes.
            He tilted her chin up with the tip of his fingers, and kissed her.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Through My Eyes


This is for a girl I know. She thinks she’s clumsy, awkward and lost. But I know better than that. I’ve known her my entire life, and sometimes I like to think that I know her better than she knows herself. She sometimes tells me that she doesn’t know what she would do without me, but honestly I’m not sure what I would do without her. She is oftentimes my inspiration; the person I turn to for guidance, advice, and reassurance that I am doing the right thing. And when I’m not, she’s there to tell me that too. When I help her, I’m only trying to return the favor.

I think the reason she inspires me so is because she has been through so much. Much, much more than I ever have. She experienced a broken family, and the heartbreak and confusion that brings. She’s let herself love and be loved, something I have yet to do. She’s experienced the loss of love and a broken heart. She knows all too well what it’s like to have a friend ripped from this world too soon. And she knows of the deepest loss I think any woman can ever experience.

But through all the pain and obstacles, she still manages to throw her head back in boisterous laughter. She finds a way to make those around her smile, to be crazy and young and in love. She knows the fragility of life, and how it can go wrong. But she also knows that hope exists, and she strives to make those around her happy. She takes care of her family and friends. She stands up for what she believes in. She doesn’t let anyone push her around. She’s passionate, loyal, and quite simply amazing. And she still finds time to enjoy the little things in life.

I know you’re reading this, because when it comes to my writing, you are my confidant. My vault. My locked journal of feedback and encouragement. You have no idea how much that means to me. And my hope is to remind you of these experiences to show you how far you’ve come. How amazingly strong you are. Just when you think you cannot take anymore, know that you’ve encountered so much adversity that absolutely nothing is capable of standing in your way.

I wrote this poem this past February, during a time I knew you were struggling because of a number of things in your life. I post it here now to show you just how truly amazing you are. Let the tears flow, and let all your frustrations and fears escape you one tear at a time; when you are done, you’ll be stronger for it.

Through My Eyes

Through my eyes you light up the world,
You can reach as high as the stars.
Through my eyes the sky’s no limit,
You’ve already walked through so many doors.
Through my eyes
You’re never weak.

I could not endure the broken you’ve felt.
I could not survive the empty bottles.
I could not handle all the houses
That never were really home.
No, I could not be you—

But through my eyes
I see someone you cannot:

Through my eyes I see a girl
Whom the world has torn apart.
But she wakes up each morning
And stands on her own two feet
Because of those around her.
Through my eyes you’ve carried burdens
Much too heavy for your shoulders;
Atlas himself could not carry what you’ve held
As you’ve danced your way through a certain kind of hell.

Through my eyes,
You grew up too fast.
Through my eyes,
You’ve put others first.
Through my eyes,
You can accomplish your dreams.
Through my eyes,
You deserve everything.

So I’d just like you to know
You’re a hero
Through my eyes.

I love you. I hope someday you can see you.

Monday, November 1, 2010

Perceptions

I imagine myself as Ian McEwan’s Briony. Not in the sense that I was a childish girl (although I may have written childish na├»ve stories) or in the sense that I mistakenly sent my sister’s lover to prison on false accusations (I’ve never even met one of my sister's lovers); but I could be Briony at the end, after her atonement, as she awaits death to publish her written novel. Me, the writer, struggling draft after draft, edit after edit, to get the most wonderful, complete, fully written novel I could have ever written. Then, awaiting the precise moment when I could publish it and forever be immortalized in the pages of a masterpiece, in the hardback copy of a novel to be read and studied around the world, praised and adorned by The New Yorker.

Yet the basis I’m lacking to be Briony is in her story; the story that makes McEwan’s novel so compelling and gripping. I have no such stories to write about, and can only imagine the banality of what a story of my life would be like.

But that’s the beauty of it. The writer of Briony’s story is not even Briony at all. It is, in fact, McEwan. The novelist. And the writer has the wonderful freedom to create, to expand, to emphasize. I have the power to conjure up stories of fantasy, fiction, and fatality that never need be based on my own experience. I could draw on my life, I suppose—yet that seems risky in itself. Imagine the recognition someone might find, the relation to my life, and the sure to follow assumptions that my novels are nothing more than autobiographies with changed names and places. Even more, what if a person were to recognize themselves as one of my characters? Maybe I could avoid all ambiguity and simply use real people and places, and avoid the firestorm of assumptions. Would they believe my story? Would they accept it?

The fact of the matter remains—there is no way to know. So I will write a story—not necessarily my story (or maybe it is) or the stories of people I know (but they might be), and I’ll leave the rest up to you. Fact, fiction, real, fake. In the end, we have all interpreted the events differently, and there is no sure fire way to know, in Burke’s words, whose terministic screen we are viewing events from. And in the end, that will not matter either; for by the time the words have left my keys and entered the page and then left the page and entered the reader’s mind, the screens have been overlapped and changed; and things have been perceived. And perception is everything.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Meant To Be Lonely

She puts on a smile for the rest of the world,
Greets all she meets with “Hello.”
She wears this mask from eight to five everyday
And no one even knows.
They all see what’s on the outside,
Like she’s got the world in her hands,
But they don’t even know…

When she goes home her smile fades away,
And tears fall more often than not.
So she asks God every day
Why her life has turned out this way.
She’s finally come to believe…

Some people are meant to be lonely.
Some people are meant to be alone.
Some people are meant to be lonely.
Some people are meant to grow old alone.

She punches the clock and walks out the door,
Her heels click across the floor.
All their heads turn and wonder just who
The lucky man is waiting at home.
And no one even knows
The truth is there’s nobody there
And a single tear falls into her single glass of Champaign.

Before she crawls into bed, she gets on her knees
And she prays to Him every night,
“God, oh please, send him my way,
Because I can’t live this kind of life.”

Some people are meant to be lonely.
Some people are meant to be alone.
Some people are meant to be lonely.
Some people are meant to grow old alone.

It’s a sad prospect indeed
Because we’d all like to believe
There’s someone for everyone out there
And someday we’ll find the one who completes us.
But she knows the bitter truth.

Some people will always be lonely,
Some people will always be alone.
She knows she was meant to be lonely,
She knows she’ll grow old alone.

Tonight, she gets off her knees.
She won’t pray anymore.
The chair slips from under her feet.
And she is no more.

Realization

"So how has work been going?" he asked, casually. The beginning of a conversation caught me off-guard, but I proceeded nonetheless.
"It's going well enough, I suppose. I really like working with the kids, but I could use more hours," I said, just as casually back.
"I always knew you'd be great with kids," he remarked. "You'll be a great teacher."

And with a simple conversation—a casual exchange of words, syllables, sounds—he ripped my heart in two. The casualness of our interaction, like we were old school mates reminiscing about the sandbox or simple church-goers making small talk after service, completely undermined our past and my feelings for him. I wanted to scream, to shake him, hit him until he realized what he’d done, to let the whole world know he had broken my heart. Instead, I smiled my casual smile and made a casual joke. I acted indifferent to his sappy one-month anniversary with his new girlfriend. I acted like he acted—like nothing had happened. Outside, I was casual, cool, collected. Inside, tormented, twisted, torn. I kept trying to end our flippant discourse, the rhetoric trying to convince me everything was fine when it really wasn’t. But he kept talking. Kept tormenting me. Kept hurting me.
            And I let him.
            Because the elation I felt while I could stand and look into his eyes, see his face, hear his voice, made the pain nearly worth it. For a moment, I could pretend that nothing did happen, or that everything had happened. Everything that I had ever wanted. That maybe we still had a chance. That you hadn’t torn me to pieces.
            But we both knew better than that. The unspoken, unmentioned uneasiness lingered between us, as solid and real as the front of the Durango that physically separated us now. The only real thing that kept me from tearing you apart, piece by piece. Or from loving you, touch by touch.
            I looked down. I fumbled with my keys. My casualness was wearing thin as my feelings came rushing back. Feelings I first had a year ago, exactly. I took one last look at him, I smiled. I laughed. I said goodbye. I felt outside myself. The car door opened. In right foot, in left. The door shut.
            Instantly, the tears came. The engine started, and left that place of torment as quickly as possible, as if vacating the area where this all took place would alleviate the pain. I tried to run, but I can’t run from my heart. I cried the whole drive home.
            He broke my heart and he didn’t even know it.

Wholly Broken


Have you ever felt your life in a thousand different ways pulled?
Like you can have my heart, and you? You can have my soul.
I’ve just been stretched so thin I don’t know if I’ll ever be whole again.

I gave you my sight
Because of the beautiful things you had.
I gave you my hearing
Because of the wondering songs you sang.
You took my gentle touch
When you were gentle no more
And you took my virtue
When you said I was a whore.

Now I’m patiently waiting—crumbled, broken, and tossed—
For the you I haven’t met yet, to gather all the things I’ve lost.
Bring back my sight so I can see you,
My ears so I can hear you,
My touch so I can feel you.
And maybe then, whole again,
I think that only then,
With all those things restored,
Will my heart and soul rejoice and
Love can be reborn.

I'm Fine

My life passes me by and I don’t even realize this dream I’ve dreamt is actually my real life. All these strangers are familiar faces. They ask me what’s wrong but I can’t relate to them. They think they know the real me, but none of them know my demons. They eat the inside of me and the irony is that I need them, because as much as they tear me apart, demolish me, consume my soul, they’re the only ones that have seen me bare and whole. They know the secrets of my heart—my desires. The things I cannot tell you or anyone. They’re the reason I feel pain, hurt, anger, and, the most powerful of all, love. Something you know nothing of. You know you’re the reason I’ve locked my soul up inside myself, like a vault, twelve clicks passed the twenty of a combination lost. So deep inside myself, it’ll never be unlocked. And even though you and me, we could never be, I’ve still got my demons to rely on, to fuel me. So you go on and live your life just like you never knew me, held me, took me. I’ll be fine. I’ll be broken, but that’s all right. I’m strong and I’ll move on from this pain and maybe some fucking day I can begin to live my life.

Fade


What is tired, what is sleep?
The present fades into yesterday.
I don’t remember what I did today and like a dream it slowly comes and fades.
The people are never who I think they are, and scream my name like they want to know my heart.
But I walk through this purple haze,
Caught in the world of yesterdays,
Where I slowly decay and patiently wait,
For my life to start
As I fade away.

Frozen Heart

She once believed in love. She always wanted one of those stories—the ones about love at first sight or an accidental bump-in at the grocery store, right in the aisle between loneliness and love, surrounded by the frozen foods witnessing the immediate thawing of two frozen hearts. So much so that she found herself running into potential husbands in the market or always telling herself that he was “the one” before they even exchanged phone numbers. These strangers were polite enough, often apologizing and scuttling off to what she believed were their love-filled lives. They didn’t need to thaw their hearts because they were already ablaze with passion and desire. So she would slink back to aisle loneliness, where her frozen heart had nothing to offer them. She knew it was silly, but the fairy-tale believing part of her wanted so badly to believe it all: love at first sight, prince charming, and a thawed-out frozen foods section.
            After years, that part of her was nearly dead now, and her heart stone cold. She no longer believed in happy endings, and scoffed at those who said it was love at first sight, those who proclaimed they knew he was “the one.” Liars, she thought, there’s really no such thing. She figured they were all like she was, telling themselves this fair tale any time they had a new lover, on the off-chance they could actually put up with one another long enough to think they were in love and get hitched. Then they had their story. They lived on the blindness of desire and societal pressure—this is how it’s supposed to go. College Job Boyfriend Marriage. The order or necessity of all seemed irrelevant. Afraid of being alone, they had settled, and they now tell all their friends the lie about how it was love at first sight, when that’s what they had told themselves hundreds of times. In truth, they were miserable, wondering if they really were in love. If love was even real.
            She knew. She no longer wanted the fairy tale. No longer wanted love because she had learned long ago that love did not exist.           
            She wanted real life.
            And to be completely real, she stopped believing in love.

From Him


From him:
I watched the tide roll in
And it felt like a sin.
I should have been home with you,
But, see, I wasn’t sure what to do.
You’ve made yourself quite clear,
You said you didn’t want me near,
So when she came strolling by
I couldn’t help but say hi.
She was young, she was fun,
And her soft red lips,
I only wished that I could kiss…

But then there was you,
And our little girl.
Our home. Our room.
Our life.
I didn’t want to have to apologize
Yet I couldn’t tell her goodbye.
I never knew where to draw the line,
Don’t I deserve a happy life?

Hazel Rims

I felt myself leave, and suddenly I was floating in the corner of the room, spying on a girl who looked and sounded like me, but wasn’t me. She had an unmistakable cool about her, slipping on a pair of aviator sunglasses and laying on the bed next to him.
            He propped himself up on his elbow, and his peppered gray hair fell across his brow. He couldn’t have been more than 26. The color of his hair reminded me of a rabbit I once had, called Pepper. It was grey, but not the grey of an old man. More the grey of a mysterious stranger, clouded in dimmed lighting of the club and now in the dim lighting of his hotel room.
            The girl that was me and was not me touched his lips with the tip of her finger. Surprisingly, I could feel them. They were soft, and I wondered if he would kiss me. The girl that was me and was not me looked into his eyes. The pupils were large round orbs, barely making his dark hazel irises visible. Hazel rims surrounding deep, black holes in the universe.
            He pulled the girl that was me and was not me closer, and touched her chin with his fingers and met her lips in the space between them. His lips were sweet, and he enveloped my soul—our soul, the girl that was me and was not me—in that kiss. I knew then that I had been missing this before, this charismatic explosion of lust and passion and love that should accompany a first kiss, and had circumstances been different we could have been soul mates.
            He pulled away, looked at the girl that was me and was not me, and stated quite frankly in his Canadian Irish accent, “Wow. That was awesome. I mean, if that hadn’t been good that would have really sucked. But no, no…that was awesome.”
            I liked the way he said “awesome,” elongating the “a” sound into a long vowel so it sounded like aaawesome, like when the doctor makes you say “Aaaaw” when he’s checking your tonsils, only in a sexier voice that I had never heard before. I laughed and we kissed again, with the same desire as before, and again I thought I had been missing this feeling that should accompany a second kiss, and had circumstances been different we could have been soul mates.
            We would lay there, the three of us: him, me, and the girl that was me and was not me. Our bare bodies touched, and he would talk to me about people I didn’t know as if I did, and I sometimes wondered if he really knew who I was. Regardless, we talked, then we kissed again, each time the little explosion of could-have-been love escaping his lips and charging mine. We would talk more, he would move my hand to touch him, and knowing his drunkenness prevented any type of an erection, I would move it back behind his head and kiss him more. That seemed to satisfy him.
            I looked over his body. He must have once had an amazing body, but time and age had definitely done its part. His left shoulder was covered in a finished tattoo, and the right was the canvas for a work in progress, one that would eventually look like its counterpart on the left. I traced the lines of the unfinished masterpiece with my finger, and he watched me do so.
            He then grabbed my hips, my bare, white hips, and flipped me onto my stomach. I giggled as he did so, touching my sensitive spots that rarely get such attention. He sat on my back and began to massage my shoulders, moving down my back and rubbing his well-worked palms over my body.
            “Gawd. You’re such a skinny bitch!” he proclaimed, and slapped my left cheek playfully. I snorted at the ridiculousness of such a statement. The girl he was touching, the girl who was me and was not me, was far from being what anyone would consider a skinny bitch. Not because she was fat, but she was hefty, and not because she had never been a bitch, but because she usually was not. Regardless, it was the last thing I expected him to call the girl that was me and was not me. He may have said it sarcastically, may have said it to get his piece of ass. He may have meant it. The girl that was me and was not me really did not care.
            He laid down on top of the girl that was me and was not me, and I half watched from the corner of the room and half felt him on the bed as he breathed lightly into my ear. He rolled over onto his back onto the bed, and I laid my head on his chest. He stared at the ceiling.
            “Do you ever look at the ceiling and see the little lines start to move?” he asked, seriously. I propped my head on my hand and laughed.
            “No,” I said. “But then again, I’m not on any drugs.”
            “What? Neither am I.” A pause. “Okay, maybe I am.”
            “Ecstasy?”
            “How did ya know that?” He was baffled. But from the moment I saw his pupils that were discs inside his irises, I had a feeling.
            “Your eyes. They’re dilated.”
            “Oh.” A pause. “Do you want some then?” Again, I laughed. The girl who was me and who was not me had only smoked a bit of weed in her life, and mostly stuck to alcohol and never had taken any other drugs. The only reason she knew anything about ecstasy was from what she had been told by her college roommate: you can usually tell if someone is on X if their eyes are dilated and they love touching and being touched. He seemed to fit the description quite well..
            “No thank you. I’m drunk,” I replied, assuming this would be good enough reason not to. He seemed to think so, and didn’t ask again. I moved to get up, and he pulled me back.
            “Where are you going?” he seemed concerned.
            “I’m just going to the bathroom,” I lied. In all reality, I had floated back down from my corner and reentered my body. I was whole again and the girl who was so cool and collected was gone, and I had really got up to redress and leave the room. Leave the hotel. Like a hooker after she was done earning her pay. I felt dirty. Used. But somewhat elated at the experience I had just had with such an attractive, foreign man.
            I switched on the light in the bathroom and looked at my naked body. I touched my breasts, my stomach, my love handles. Skinny bitch, ha. How ridiculous. How funny. How much I wished that I really were. I sighed heavily and went back to the bed. I was now fully myself, and switched off the lights. I checked the clock. 3 a.m. I needed to be up in three hours for the conference. The reason I was in Canada in the first place. Or maybe the reason I was here was for this. To meet my could-have-been-soul-mate and have fireworks pass between our lips the first, second, third, fourth, and every time we kissed. Maybe that’s why I went. To experience what it should be like to love and be loved, by my could-have-been soul mate, as the girl who was and who was not me.

Jeremiah


I think my heart beats to the rhythm of your soul. This occurred to me on a brisk autumn day. The sun still shone but the chill of winter was approaching. The rays warmed my skin through my white cotton blouse, yet the breeze sent a bone-chilling frost to the tips of my fingers. I pressed my hand to my chest to warm it—and that’s when I felt it. A rhythm so distinct yet so unfamiliar it could not belong to me. The steady beat reminded me of a bass drum, deep and full of warmth. I listened to it for a minute—a minute that could have lasted a lifetime—and instinctively it came to me: This is Jeremiah. If ever there was a sound that could encompass all you are to me, this was it. My hand was warm now but I left it lingering on my breast. The sound, the beat, the feeling—it all reminded me of you. Then I finally came to a realization. The rhythm was not just you but you within my heart. It was us. My heart and your soul in a rhythmic dance, mingling and swaying and stepping together. Not two separate entities, but one cohesive entanglement of heart and soul, bound together by love.