Friday, December 21, 2012

sleeve.

there's no such thing as wearing a heart on a sleeve. you wear it in your eyes. it trembles with the shake of your voice. or hides behind the sharp, shallow breaths you take between sobs. maybe it even hangs off the pout of your lips. but not a sleeve - never a sleeve.

Sunday, November 18, 2012

like vines.

(as found in Offbeat: Volume 10: Noises from Typewriter Keys)
it was three am. her eyelashes fluttered into a suddenly-wide stare. a creak was heard beneath her feet.

slowly she moved out of and away from her room. one foot in front of the other, she conquered the ancient stairway and groaning floorboards masterfully. the house was nothing like she'd ever known: it was quiet, with intricate details and deliberate patterns twisting like vines about the walls, doors, and ceilings. the furniture was dusty and worn, there were no soft carpets to lay a foot on, and yet still, it was home.

peacefully he slept, a portrait of serenity with his soft brown hair that curled at the edges. one arm was thrust over his features - over his hidden eyes and sunburnt lips - and lay limp against the armrest of the old sofa.

she watched his chest rise and fall for a moment, her own breath stolen by the sight. it had been far too long since she'd touched that skin or tousled that hair or brushed those lips with her own and the urge overcame her like a violent wave.

soon she was at his side, kneeling, of course. her delicate fingers trembled as she reached to brush a tendril from his unknowing forehead. the face was so familiar - the asymmetrical wrinkle that graced his brow, the forty-something freckles that danced across the bridge of his nose, the dark eyebrows that peaked and arched midway to create a constantly amused expression.

as she lay her lips against his, he stirred, mumbling inaudible phrases from exhausted vocals. his own eyes revealed, he found his hands, found his strength, and found his voice, "who's there?"

but he found himself alone.


---

(a continuation not-yet-published)
"hello?" he said, to no one.

momentarily, he was frightened. he had been dreaming again. he sat up quickly, throwing both bare feet to the cold floor and shoving the ancient quilt to the opposite end of the couch. a warm breath escaped him as he struggled for balance and fought to stand.

as he walked the perimeter of the room, his senses caught a floral scent - faint, but familiar. there was warmth, excitement, intrigue flooding through him. the old house had character, he knew, but seldom was there life.

thomas knelt beside the banister of the old stairwell. his hand traced the aged wood - etched beautifully with subtle intricacies. he was searching for some sign of contact - something purely.. alive.. that he could grasp onto. his brow furrowed when he found nothing. outside, the wind whistled a deliberate tune.

autumn was both his favorite and loneliest time of the year. the colors that cascaded through the trees and the smell of dead leaves and wood-burning stoves brought him back to a less senseless time. things had been different so many autumns ago, and he missed her even now.

twisting.

Carol sat nestled into the worn synthetic cushion of aisle seat 3B. She flipped nonchalantly through August’s copy of Good Housekeeping, although it was already November. Every so often, she would adjust her bifocals, intent on gaining better insight into ‘Homes, Gnomes, and Garden D├ęcor.’ She sighed as the other passengers boarded around her.

Fifty-six years had been unkind to Carol’s body. Her face was weathered from the sun, and her skin bore liver spots she could not remember having in her youth. The lines beside her eyes tugged downward in a sad and deliberate sort of way, and when she smiled, her teeth were yellow from many years of coffee and tobacco.

She hadn’t always been this way. She married Sal when she was only nineteen. Thirty-seven long years later, she was boarding a plane from Cincinnati headed towards Detroit, while Sal basked in the sun down in Boca Raton. She absentmindedly twirled her wedding band between sandy, worn fingers.

He arrived suddenly and without warning, like a hurricane of wit and charm. His baseball cap was set high up above his brow, allowing the dim cabin lighting to dance across his twenty-something-year-old face. Around his neck was a worn silver piece in the shape of a cross, hanging haphazardly against his chest. Though it was merely fifty-seven degrees outside, he was dressed in green canvas shorts and ancient black flipflops, with only a thin white t-shirt to shield his torso. He glanced quickly around the snug interior of the tiny plane.

“I think I lucked out. I’ve got the window seat,” he said finally, addressing Carol with a smile.

Carol leaned forward impulsively to move into the aisleway, but she was stopped by the cool wave of a hand.

“I’ve got it. No need to move your pretty little feet,” he spoke brightly, surprising Carol with the lightness of his words.

Swiftly and with a grace Carol had never seen, he scooted over and past her, settling down into the faux-leather beside the window.

"Tell me about yourself," he said, twisting his body to face her. The smile he flashed was crooked and endearing, but the expression was honest and expectant. Carol chuckled aloud and as she opened her mouth to speak, she felt the deadness in her chest jumpstart to life.

---
(a little about Sal)
Sal was a good man.  A little gruff, often unshaven and without social graces, but he was a good man nonetheless.  Carol knew she had been lucky to find something so stable at such a young age.  He had never made her heart race or head spin, and she had never experienced “butterflies” – whatever those were, anyway.  But she knew that he would take care of her for all her life and that had been more than enough.  She had married him on a Sunday in June, not six months after they had met.
           

easy.

She watched him with tired eyes.

"Where are you going?"

His breath caught in his throat - she could tell. He straightened himself, running a cool hand through his pillow-stressed hair. Mouth open, gaze cast up into eyelids, he exhaled loudly.

"Out. I'm.. going out."

And with that, he picked up two mismatched, dirty socks off the floor and exited the bedroom.

They'd been seeing each other for several months now. Unwilling to categorize the relationship as anything official - friends or otherwise - they'd kept things casual for simplicity's sake. No strings attached... no answers to be given. It was easy.

At least, it was supposed to be.

Tangled in the bedsheets, Jessie hoisted herself off the bed and stepped towards the sheer-curtained window. Through it and just below, she watched him climb into his beat-up little Honda and start the engine. She lifted her left hand and, without his acknowledgment, gently waved him off. When he had finally driven out of sight, Jessie moved back to the disheveled nest they'd created and crawled in. She reset the sheets and smoothed the silken comforter back over her.

She wondered where he was going. Back to work, or out to lunch, or to the gym. But it didn't matter - it couldn't. Casual. Easy.

Jessie reached across her pillow and felt around the smooth surface of the bedside table. Sitting up, she found what she had been looking for and hesitantly brought it to her chest.

She slipped the ring back onto her finger as though it had never been gone.

rousseau.

(written december 7, 2007)
The sounds of city life bounced around inside her head as she moved down the busy street. She drew her chin to her neck, nestling into her scarf to fight the wind as it bit at her bare skin. Around her, snow whispered its metamorphosis from white to black, beneath the tired tracks of taxicabs. Weathered men and women sat huddled in between buildings and at doorframes clambering to the feeble hopes that someone, maybe even Nathalie, would ease their pain. But still she walked on.

She soon came to the large brick building she had been seeking. For a brief moment, she took in its looming physique, admiring the icicles that hung off its window ledges like sharp, frozen tears. Freeing a gloved hand from her right jacket pocket, Nathalie buzzed up to 36C like she so frequently would.

After a moment, a scratchy mumbling could be heard from the speaker beside the buzzer. The door clicked as it unlocked, and Nathalie let herself in. The stairs in the old building creaked as she moved up them, fingers trailing lightly along the railing as she ascended.

Three flights later, doorknob met fingers and there she was, breathless but triumphant. Warmth enveloped her as she entered the apartment. Her eyes skipped across the room, from the old suede sofa to the armchair it coupled to the cluttered coffee table between the two. Books were scattered across every surface and the stale air smelled like coffee. Nathalie found her voice.

“Bon soir,” she said. “Hello?”

Yet there was only stillness.

The lines across her forehead deepened as she turned to shed her coat. But before she could realize it, fingers not her own forcefully entwined themselves in her dark hair and stole place around her waist, and Nathalie found herself peering up into dark, cerulean eyes. There was no hesitation now, as there never had been. Her mouth found his as his shirt found the floor. In moments, the old books would share their homes with the fallen garments. They sat patiently.

When it was done, Nathalie settled up against the edge of the sofa. She twisted her body uncomfortably for a minute then pulled something bound in vinyl out from beneath her lower back.

"Oh, Christ,” she muttered, struggling to hold the book and get to her feet. Lachlan shoved a stack of papers to retrieve his boxers. He paused to glance at Nathalie.

“What?” he asked, giving the boxers one last tug. They were free.

“Huck Finn.”

“Oh man.”

“I feel bad.. you know, it’s the great American novel.”

“He doesn’t mind. Most action he’s gotten in what, 120 years?”

“Oh stop it.” Nathalie gently placed the novel back on the sofa before adding, “Are you hungry?”

Lachlan shrugged, now fully clothed. It was classic Lachlan, Nathalie thought, carefully observing his nonchalance, in both attitude and attire. He wore frayed, color-stained jeans and an old Motley Crue t-shirt. Dried paint concealed the true skin tone of his hands. Black– now sweat-soaked – tendrils fell haphazardly atop his head and over his eyes - evidence that his hair hadn’t been cut in months.

Yet there was something she couldn’t quite put her finger on. He was captivating as he crossed the room back to where Nathalie was sitting, still naked. His lips discovered the cavernous area between her neck and her collarbone and traveled upwards. She craned her neck as his mouth danced across her skin. Unable to control herself, she placed one hand against his chest and urged him backwards, away from her. Once again, Nathalie’s eyes locked on his and she labored to sit upright.

“I love you.”

Lachlan ran a tarnished hand through his mottled hair, looking momentarily pensive. He gave a little laugh before bending down to kiss Nathalie on her worried brow. Wind whistled against the dirty glass window.

“Then show me,” he said with a chuckle. And outside the snow stormed on.


---

(written march 6, 2009)
She had met him on the monkey bars twelve long years ago.

With knobby knees and knotted hair, Nathalie had patiently waited her turn while Tibby Upstyle glided from one side to the other at least ten times. When Tibby had finally begun to whine about the blisters forming on her fingers, Nathalie had clambered to the stoop beside the first bar and started to cross.

Four bars in, and she could remember this distinctly, her hand reached forward and caught warm skin where cool metal should have been. Intinctively she gasped and released, and in effect, lost her balance. The playground woodchips sought shelter beneath her clothes. Shocked and furious, embarrassed and incredulous, Nathalie glared upwards to where she had just been.

And there he was, still hanging - dark, untidy hair falling into the dirt-smudged forehead above those blue, blue eyes.

Immediately, her rage dissipated and was replaced by something unfamiliar. Her heart rattled against her ribcage, and she could feel all her blood rushing to her ears. Her vision blurred as she rolled onto her stomach to escape his piercing gaze.

Like a wild animal, she had thought, free and wild and beautiful.

She twisted around to look at the boy - still immobile - and her stomach wrenched. She thought she might vomit.

Then she did.

Without warning, he was there, holding her tangled hair in his gentle hands, guiding her away from the mess she had made. He touched her chin and tilted it so she faced him once more. Nathalie's heart pounded in her throat.

"Don't worry," he said sternly, "I'm a doctor."

They both laughed, and she had loved him ever since.

 

circa 2004.


Her ivory teeth flashed beneath curled lips.

"Be patient," she said coolly, scarcely more than whispering, "Be still."

The trees around her whooshed their concerns, chattering as the wind danced past them. It had been years since she'd felt a breeze against her skin.

A tremor skipped down her spine. The earth stopped, and there he was, as promised, emerging from the brush. His teeth were bared, eyes narrowed, sending an unspoken warning to the Two-Legged that stood before him. His grand paws landed softly as he crept closer. A low growl rumbled from behind his clenched jaw.

"I knew you'd come," she breathed finally, opening her arms in recognition. With a sour glare, she added, "Cool it, Skinwalker."

The bold move was enough for him to tear her to pieces, but he resisted, balancing steady on lithe limbs. Wait, wait, he repeated internally.

"There's trouble even we can't suppress anymore. We need your help."

The urgency in her voice calmed the carnal instincts screaming inside of him. Even the putrid scent of human flesh settling in his nostrils would not push him to attack until she'd made her case. He remained, coiled - ready, desperate to succumb to his most savage instincts once her pleading was decided unworthy. But that time did not come. Not this time.

Liam's snarl faded.

"They're back."

--
Liam's long, lithe limbs carried him gracefully through the dense wood. What little information he had been given was enough to send his most primal senses soaring. Without thinking - for in his animal form, he could scarcely reason - he let out a low growl - a threatening presence rippling through him. Barely skimming the ground as he moved, he made no sound. He was invisible amongst the trees.

When he reached the edge of the woods, he drew to a halt and sat back on his haunches. The fur along the scruff of his neck stood on edge as he gazed out into the open suburbs of his hometown.

Old rusty bikes lay strewn across carelessly overgrown lawns. The houses were small and close together, with few windows and poor paint jobs. A few driveways had cars in them, but not many.

After a moment of watching, listening, waiting, when he was convinced he was alone, Liam turned his back to the quiet street, and he Shifted.

Where wolf had been, boy now stood. He crept over to an old evergreen tree where his clothes hung, and he dressed quickly under it's immense branches. His fingers subconsciously reached for his throat. Knotted around his neck was a suede string with a single charm dangling down against his chest. He touched the tooth, just to check - to make sure it was still there.

Walking on two legs now and with half the grace, he ambled along the sidewalk towards a shanty gray house. The outside garden was rich with color, though you could hardly see it in the moonlight. The weathered burgundy door creaked eerily open, and Liam slipped into the darkness of the foyer.

"Mom? Alyssa? I'm home."

--
His mouth twisted into a wry smile. The crisp air around him carried with it a distinct scent of Man – of mortality. Perhaps it was his instincts – his heightened senses – the call of whatever it was he’d inherited – eating away at his humanity.

Liam was, by no means, a unique person. He was average at best, and ordinary in every attribute. But when he Shifted, he was strong; he was powerful, graceful and fierce. He became a Protector and a soldier as he became inhuman.

Months ago, he had been “normal.” He had been a mediocre student with no athletic capabilities and a handful of average-seeming friends. The Change had terrified him when it had come. He had awoken with a start as the clock had read 3:12 am and the city lay sleeping. Burning sought shelter in his throat as his vocal chords were shredded and regrown. His gums ached as teeth tore through the soft flesh. A shudder rippled through his body while his bones extended and warped, facilitating the shape of something unfamiliar and new. An animalistic strength surged through his veins, pulsated with the steady beating of his enlarged heart. After the pain had subsided, Liam found himself inexplicably canine, and inexplicably alive. Where fear had settled in the pit of his chest, relief now swept through. He felt peaceful – subdued.

Just as quickly as it had come, the metamorphosis dissipated. Exhaustion swept over him instantly, and he lay against the cool wooden floorboards drenched in his own sweat. Liam soon drifted off into a strange, dreamless sleep.

In the morning he had awoken to find his sister standing over him, screaming, mortified at the sight of his nakedness. Try as he might, he could not explain his peculiar state, or the shredded clothes around him, and so his mother, sister, and doctor attributed it to sleepwalking.

Friday, November 9, 2012

between.

and they would remember it again tomorrow. and the day after that. and the day after that. for all the time in the world could not change the memory of the twisted flannel bedsheets, the salt on their skin, the snow in the air, or the moment when they realized it was love that bounced between them.

Monday, October 29, 2012

memoir of a serial monogamist.

Perpetual dating since you were sixteen years old and you’re twenty-four now.  It’s time to put pause to the vicious cycle.  You know.  But you meet a boy.  Know that he’s barely a shell of what you want in a partner.  Date him anyway.  Date for a long time.  Date for so long that when you break up you wonder  how long you’ve been in a coma.  Realize that it’s been years.  You spent years with a person you didn’t feel crazy about from the start.  What is wrong with you?

You need to be with someone.  You need to find someone to spend Sunday morning farmer’s market runs with.  You need a warm body in your bed.  You need a mutual TV show – one that’s been canceled and is now on Netflix, so you watch episode-after-episode, laughing together under a blanket.  You need hope.  Hope that there is a perfect fit somewhere.  Even if you have to make it fit.

You break up.  You cry even though you’re not sure you feel all that sad.  Your heart feels heavy in your chest but you’re pretty sure it’s more from withdrawal than anything else – like that time in college when you tried to stop drinking coffee and ended up in your dorm, curled up in the fetal position with a raging migraine. Yeah, like that.  You don’t know what to do without another person so get busy.  Swear off men again.  You don’t need them.  You’re free – single (!) – now.

Meet a boy.  Call him a rebound.  He’s too tall or too young or not rock ‘n roll enough but you don’t care because he’s warm and his mouth tastes like spearmint all the time.  He’s good enough for now and soon you find your own TV shows.  The sex is boring and he’s still too tall but it’s something and you know it’s gonna be okay.  Two years later the rebound is over.

You cry again.  This time it’s because you didn’t end it.  And that hurts.  You don’t miss him but you wanted to win.  How could you lose?!  He was your rebound.  It’s not fair and so you cry.  You cry until you’ve cried off the ten extra pounds you’d put on during your “relationship.”

You keep it off for a while until you meet a boy.  Maybe it’s right.  But of course, it’s complicated.  He’s dating someone.  And he’s moving soon.  Wow, you know how to pick them!  So that’s exactly what you do.  You pick him.  He leaves his girlfriend and now you’re in a relationship that is built on a lie.  You wonder if this condemns your relationship. But this is different.  It’s beer and video games and wine and art galleries and mutual friends that you actually both like.  You call them “our friends” and mean it.  You spend whole days in bed and switch between fucking and reading to each other and it feels more real than anything else ever has.

Then he leaves. Long distance is a bitch.  You cry again.  Mostly you cry because you know you can’t handle it so you decide to stop handling it.  You break up over the phone one Sunday afternoon and never speak again.  It’s too sad.  You’re too sad.  Wasn’t he “The One?”  So you’re sullen for a while.  Hurt.  Empty.  It feels sad and lonely and just a month later you’re dating again but it never feels right.

You’ve stopped jumping, finally.  You realize that all you needed the whole time is to be alone and find yourself (!!!).  Get a hobby.  Hate the hobby.  Quit the hobby.  Find a new one.  Write a lot.  Cut off half of your hair and paint your fingernails a new color every other day.  Wear scarves and hang out at Starbucks on the weekends because nothing says “I’m single and not interested” like a cup of steaming Americano and a garment that resembles a noose.  You start to feel fine.  You are fine.  You don’t need a man.  It’s been three months – the longest you’ve ever been without one.

And then you meet a boy.  

september 18, 2009.


Tears streamed down her face as she clung to the bottle of cheap tequila in her hand.  Underage and overdramatic, she screamed and sobbed and cried.  She begged and lied and wheezed an asthmatic’s wheeze.  Emotion seeped through her pores.

“I’ve been thinking about this for a while now,” he’d said plainly when he walked in the door.

It was two hours after he had said he would be home.

During these two hours, she had been sitting, thinking, in his living room, taking shot after shot of tequila to get the courage to confront him.  After he arrived, and when she finally did, he had responded by saying he was leaving her.

It was ultimate humiliation and devastation.  And she was going to be sick.

“Is there someone else?” she pleaded, “Say there is and I’ll go.. I swear.”

“No there isn’t,” he replied curtly.

“Then st-stay,” she sobbed, pulling her shirt over her head and throwing it to the floor, “C-come upstairs with me then.”

His mouth twisted into a smile briefly, but it faded. He shook his head.

“No, Lyss.  It’s tempting, and I would – God, you are sexy – but I’d still leave anyway,” he finally managed to say.

“Is there someone else?  Honestly.  Tell me the truth!” she demanded, still standing half-naked.

“No.  Of course not.”

But his eyes met hers and she knew deep down that it was yet another lie.  Alyssa grabbed her shirt off the floor and wrestled it back on.  She stormed out the door and into the darkness to call the only person she could trust, leaving her clothes, laptop, textbooks, dignity, and heart behind.

He fingers fumbled for speed dial – for Grace… for the help she needed, the answers she knew she’d never get… for protection, for strength…

Inside, Jack opened the refrigerator door and drank straight from the soda bottle.

richard's duality.



shackle upon shackle
trading sweet, honey whispers
for ball and chain;
for illiterate moments;
for bitter but sugary
coffeecake kisses.
he'll break you if he can,
from the walk
to the dress
to the sidewalk
until there's sick in your hands
and your mouth and your hair.

day after day
pricing marketplace smiles
worth two dollars;
worth ten;
worth only what the
courting fools will pay.
they'll bargain if they can,
from the door
to the street
to the vendor,
and when there's nothing left to
buy, go home to their wives.

Sunday, October 14, 2012

original inspiration.

i find myself an inspiration to others, but yet so few things inspire me. the only time i feel like i can write is when i'm sad. or lonely. in this state of less-than-subtle ennui. i find myself nostalgic and pained, and then i begin to write.

the truth is.. i feel like my writing is a trade-off. i don't write unless i'm unhappy. either i'm happy, but unartistic, or unhappy, but a writer. where is my creativity? where has it gone? i want to be a writer, in lieu of my sadness.

whenever i read back on some of the things i've written, i'm overwhelmed with how raw it is. others probably miss that rawness, because they don't necessarily see the personal connections i've made, but i surprise myself with how honest i allow myself to be. i'm not talented by any means, but i sure do feel. a lot.

i want to curl up in a corner right now. i've always had these ideas of sitting in my one bedroom apartment, with a typewriter, stationed on this messy awful big wooden desk. i'd be armed with a steaming cup of coffee, except i would never say "cup" - only "mug" because, mug sounds more artistic. great works of literature would be scattered around me, keeping me company as i worked. and i would write.

i would gaze out my apartment window into the busy city (probably new york or boston or chicago or seattle.. some wildly amazing place) and i would feel the energy of the pavement, of the buildings, of the life around me. i would draw on the beauty of all those millions of bodies, faces, heartbeats in one place. and i would write.

most likely, i would be dressed in an oversized sweater, probably cream-colored or gray. of course, i would wear a scarf because i, like all starving artists, would be broke and have no heat. i'd be sitting cross-legged in my chair, hair curly and wild and unkempt as usual. i'd probably be wearing those gloves with the missing fingers, so i could keep type-type-typing away. i'd have papers everywhere. a pencil set between my incisors. and i would write.

one day, i'd like to be this person. but for now, i'm a ghost of that. a slave to a system that is weighing me down. a shell of that beautiful vision. my words, for now, are so muffled that i can't even hear myself anymore. where is my voice? i think i hear it asking, asking questions like: can i ever be an artist? is that even in me? where did my soul go? who am i? i find myself straining, straining to hear.. so i sit down, here, in my one bedroom apartment (the one that looks nothing like my dream and has no desk or typewriter.. but there is coffee, so i think it's okay), and get ready to listen. i turn up the volume.

and i write.

what he said.

‎"we all have that one person.. you know, that one 'what if?'.. 'the one that got away.' for me, that's you. and - don't look at me like that - i'm not looking for any closure or anything. i've already accepted things as they are. all i'm saying is that for you, it's him, and for me, it'll always be you."

still friends?

"can - can we still be friends?" she pleaded, grateful for the dim lighting that hid the wetness of her eyes, "i - i don't want to lose you completely."

for a moment, he thought about all the things he wanted to say: that he just wasn't in love with her, that he was suffocated by her, that he wished he'd never crossed that line.. but none of those words came. he stifled them, refusing to consider himself so hurtful.


instead, he reached across the table, took her hands in his, and lied, "of course we can be friends. you'll never lose me."

sleep on it.

They always say to "sleep on it" (whatever "it" really is) - that things will be clearer in the morning. Yet as she swung her legs off the bed and let her feet hit the cold hardwood floor, she was struck with an overwhelming realization: the morning light did nothing for her clarity.. it only served to illuminate just how blurred her peculiar little life had become.

may 21, 2012

I had fought so long with the artist in me. She clawed at the rationalist's subtle anxieties, stripping away the neuroses and filling the empty space with unwavering calm. I had always thrived on my stresses, thought they motivated me somehow - made me more productive. But as I sat that morning, piles of ignored work atop my desk, scribbling furiously in the crisp pages of my leatherbound journal, I realized this artist was an integral part of me. The truth hit me: deep down, I was not just a bundle of nerves with a deadline; there was more to me. Somehow, that tightly-wound core I had always reveled in having had become unwound... and in that moment, I was a writer with a story to tell.

shared.

His legs moved beneath the soft cotton sheets, grazing her backside.  She’d been awake for an hour – maybe more – listening to the sounds of fall just outside her window.  The rustling wind caught against the glass, sneaking in through the tiny gaps in the panes and giving the room a cold chill.  And so she shuddered, despite the warmth of the man beside her.
Sunday crosswords and farmers markets were not their style.  They were both writers with inkstained hands and hidden tattoos, poor but happy in their own respect.  The love they shared was strange, but familiar, and neither would have ever willingly left their muse behind.
The sex was as inspiring as their work, and when his hands moved quietly, hungrily, across her porcelain skin - pausing at every bulge and crevice - she too felt like poetry.  It was never outright wild or frenzied but always passionate and unexpected, and for the most part, that was enough.
She turned herself so that she was facing him, his open mouth inches from her forehead.  Burying her face in the cavern between his shoulder and jawbone, she let a sad breath escape her.  She closed her eyes, capturing the snapshot of their crumpled bodies one last time, ready to remember their last day shared alive together.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

not real.

i felt his poetry
as he sauntered into the room
disguised in a tattered t-shirt
and acid-washed jeans:
it took me by surprise
how ugly they were.

rhythm but not rhyme from
his electric hair and
ink-stained skin and
dirty fingernails
drum - drum - drumming
against the side of his arm.

i clawed at my insecurities
pouting my lips and
flipping my hair and
sticking my chest out
but i was invisible
or he was immune.

it was not real love,
i told myself for
the third, tenth, twentieth time.
because real love is flannel
and wool socks and a cup of
hot coffee on a sunday morning.

it was not real sex,
i assured my aching body
one last time
because real sex is salt
and breathlessness and teeth
burrowing into my skin.

this is something else.
something that covers,
encases, weighs
heavy on me although
i mostly can't say what it is,
only what it isn't.

.....

Monday, April 23, 2012

emily.

Emily shredded a receipt absentmindedly.  Piece by piece she ripped her frustrations into smaller fragments until they became infinitesimal in size.  What had she done wrong?
A crooked, awkward smile crept to her lips – first tugging at the corners, but soon spreading wildly across.  In her mind, a quick image of a half-eaten apple flashed.
“I know,” she said aloud, finally scooping up the tiny shards of paper. “I’ll get to it.”
He was always bothering her – her father was, that is.  He was constantly showing her little reminders of things she had been forced to interpret from an early age.  Though he had died twelve years ago, he still had much to say.
Emily was by no means a normal child.  She began to quickly pick up on things that other children couldn’t – cold spots, indescribable lights, movements that were impossibly subtle.  Her dreams would include messages she never understood.  She had knowledge of things she couldn’t possibly have lived through.  And she soon learned she could talk for people who could no longer talk for themselves.
            They talked to her in pictures, or sounds – in otherwise unperceivable messages that illuminated in magazines, books, or television shows.  They communicated to her with whatever means was available, and she had to interpret.
            Now twenty years old, Emily was used to not being alone.  She became accustomed to the strange looks she received when telling a strangers that their dead Great Aunt Tilly had said “Hello.”
            Once, she stopped a tired-looking businesswoman at a Starbucks.  Emily didn’t like to interrupt the lives of strangers with her peculiar messages, but sometimes the spirit was too persisting, too intent on having itself be heard. Emily had quietly tapped the woman on the shoulder, and politely spoke, “I know this is going to sound weird, but your mom wants to tell you ‘happy birthday.’ She’s very proud of you.”
            The woman clear slapped Emily across the face, dropping her venti nonfat latte in the process.  After she recovered from her minor breakdown, the woman thanked Emily and began to cry.  This was not at all an unusual day.

ainslee.

The airport bustled around her as she waited.  From the uncomfortable vinyl seat at the terminal, she could see them all.
 
 There was the sleeping college student who sat approximately a meter to her left.  His hat had been pulled carelessly over his eyes so that his blond hair peeked out at the back and sides, and his hands lay clasped together in his lap.

There were businessmen and women who bustled about, hurriedly rushing to Starbucks for their hourly caffeine fix.  They all dressed similarly, and strode past with the same anxiousness. She could feel herself feeding off their restless behavior.

To her far right was a couple not quite newlyweds.  In contrast, the man had already grayed, not only in his beard but also in the sparse hairs that covered his shining scalp, which was crimson with sunburn.  Only a snug belt pulled two notches too tight contained his enormous bulging stomach.  His wife dressed similarly, though her face and arms had browned, not burned, from the sun.  She wore green Bermuda shorts and a pink t-shirt, stretched tight over her torso.  The two seemed happy, Ainslie thought quietly.

Every so often, a flight attendant or pilot would wander by, dressed impeccably.  Each wore identical leather shoes that gleamed in the dull fluorescent light, and suits designed for their gender.  The pilots wore ties and decorated caps, and when they stood within Ainslie’s field of view, she couldn’t help but feel as though they were important, watchful, protective.

Families passed by, children adorned in Disney memorabilia. There were people dressed in military uniform.  Young girls on their way home from Cancun.  A petite woman with wire-rimmed glasses, clutching a James Patterson novel. 

Ainslie didn’t fly much, but it didn’t stop her from enjoying the airport.  She still marveled at how many people passed through the gates each day.  Thousands of people with thousands of different lives were all around her all at once, and it sent her spiraling into a wild consciousness that she quickly became addicted to.

She pulled her mousy brown hair into a low ponytail and leaned back into her seat to close her eyes.  It never even occurred to her that something in the air was different.  So she never realized that her life was about to change.

It was quiet before the plane hit, but deafening after.  Men and women screamed, children sobbed – people ran on desperate legs, tears streaming down ash-ridden faces.  Flames danced across gift shops and kiosks, reflecting angry light from the tiny glass shards the shattered window had once been composed of. 

Ainslee rolled onto her side, pushing herself upright and examining the nose of the giant 747 blazing above her. 

Monday, April 2, 2012

mistakes (!)

Ah. Mistakes. We all make them. We all see others make them. We try to avoid them.. stop them.. regret them.. live our lives without them. We all feel the repercussions of them. We all live in the wake of them.

But it's how we handle them and, respectively, what we learn from them, that really matters. You can't undo what you've already done, but you can learn from your experiences. "Treat people better overall." -- "Don't mix too many types of alcohol; it makes you say mean things." -- "Apologize when you should." Wah wah wah.

There are days when you will revel in your mistakes, claim that you "regret nothing!" But let's be honest: you do. You're only human. So you spill your guts to a good friend, pour over the "what-ifs" and "how-could-this-happens" and try to find a way to right the wrongs you've made. Sometimes, this works. Sometimes this gives you enough closure to admit your mistake, accept your mistake, and move forward.

Other times, you're fucked.

You spend days, weeks, months, maybe even years, dwelling on something you'd said. Or that "unforgivable" thing you did. You let it consume you. It eats away at you. Every lull in your thought brings you careening back into the abyss that is "The Mistake." How do you break this? How do you finally come to the point where you just let it go?

A few months ago, I made a mistake of this magnitude. I was making a clean, sensible beeline for "forevermore," and I blew it. I jumped ship the second it got a little scary and I've let that eat away at me for some time. Since then, I've been grappling with the idea that I might be noncommittal.

In high school, I had a long term boyfriend who, when mentioning the Future, would reference marriage and kids. I shrugged, accepting his vision for "our" life and carried forward. When we broke up, I transferred that vision to my next big relationship as "my own." After some time alone, thinking, and soul-searching, I started to realize that these things might not be for me. Despite the urging and coercing from my family and friends, I started to accept that I might just be a little odd.. too inflexible to share my life with someone, and too selfish for a family of my own. It wasn't until I met my last "Big One" that it hit me: I have no idea who I am, and I'm terrified of finding out.

That's more the problem than anything else. This time last year, I started dating a great guy. He was smart, and though physically the antithesis of My Type, I fell absolutely in love with him. We dated for about seven months, but when it came time for him to move out of Baltimore, I panicked.. realizing I could never follow him where he was headed. I couldn't even commit to the idea of maybe following him after some time. It was all I needed to check 'OK' and catalyze a break up.

Looking back on my last relationship, I may not know my lesson yet.  I've changed in the past few years.. but I think I've made one really huge mistake that's stuck heavily with me through it all: I've let myself be defined by my previous mistakes.

Perhaps that's the real mistake here.. not learning my lessons well enough.  Letting myself be weighed down by the baggage of a former Love.  I suppose I never really let myself "live and learn" enough, and so I let the struggles of my past relationships affect my most recent one.

This is hardly okay.  But this time around, I'm taking my time, carefully trying to feel out my lesson.  So maybe I just need to keep making mistakes.. maybe I just need to keep trying to learn. Because, maybe, sometimes, in order to accept your last mistake.. all you have to do is make another. And make it count. Maybe.

Monday, February 20, 2012

platonic, but curious.

startled, she sat upright, instantly noticing a disparity with where she was, and where she should have been.

panic flooded through her and onto the floor, where her clothes lay in a heap. her hand flew to her chest and she realized she was wearing a shirt not her own.

hesitantly, she turned her head and eyeballed the guy sleeping beside her.  her body ached with a delayed hangover.

"oh," she breathed, feeling a tightness in her chest, "oh, no."

derek lay sleeping, arms overtop his head, mouth slightly gaping.  he was shirtless, but not naked, yet she knew immediately that they both had been not long ago.

fuck.  fuck fuck fuck. she thought.  what have i done?

eight years and a collection of strange conversations had sparked a great friendship between audrey and derek.   their relationship had always been a solid one, full of shameless commiserating and genuine concern for one another.  a recent slew of mutual loneliness had even led to a "my best friend's wedding" style marriage pact between them.  they were each other's 'backup plan' and good friend.

they hadn't lived within close proximity of each other since high school, and so their reunions were far and few between.  however, as audrey had returned for the weekend to visit her parents, who lived relatively close to derek's new place, the two had decided to get together.  it was "as-friends" alone, and they both knew in their heads that it was always supposed to be that way.

but, with a few too many drinks in both of them, and the kind of love that only an eight year opposite-sex friendship could offer (platonic, but curious), they fell out of their right minds and into derek's bed.

now, in the morning light, there she sat, frozen like a deer in headlights, contemplating her next move in the wake of all that had happened.

i could run now.. avoid this.. we could not ever talk about it again. she glanced over at her friend, sleeping away his own guilt and awkward thoughts. but it's been eight years, and eight years from now, i want us to still be friends. i can't run out, no matter how weird it is.  we'll deal with the weirdness later.

with that thought, she sighed, and settled back down into the sheets.  still sleeping, derek sidled up next to her, his chin resting on her head, and slipped his arm around her.

and she knew he'd still want to be friends too.