I grasped the caress of light
When I drifted and vanished
In the darkness of chaos
In the cold and wintry selfishness
It was then when warmth
Came in the form of a hug
When I broke myself with a man
I learned that love wasn’t about having
But giving despite having nothing
It never bothered me that I liked her for who she was. Despite always wearing her hair short, she was often referred to as my twin for resembling each other a lot. She had the brightest eyes for miles and her smile spoke of bite-sized philosophies that eventually became my official guide to life. I have always known that I loved her. I have always known that she loved me.
I love to cook. I’m led by the inspiration of her and my love for all things with flavor that when we do see each other, I gift her with pasta or lasagna. She shamelessly gobbles it all up the moment she gets her hands on them even when we’re seated at the food court, prying eyes giving her an odd look.
She often told me that I looked beautiful and that my eyes resembled the cerulean sea. I smiled and thought of how hers reminded me of lighthouses, calm and my sole candle in the dark. She brushed my hair away from my face, her thumb caressing the peak of my cheek. She offered to drop me home tonight. I nodded, even if my heart knew it was best not to.
We parked the car outside my house. I refused to go in for a while. She kept a hand on my nape, her fingers running through my hair. My vision started to fool me. Everything started to swim. She cupped my face closer to hers and kissed my salty lips. I remembered her apologizing and wishing things were different. Words barely left my quivering lips, knowing that I won’t be seeing her for long.
Her phone started to vibrate. It was Kelly calling. She looked at me sadly and said she needed to go. As she answered the phone call, her voice changed. It sounded sweeter, affectionate and she mentioned something about cooking dinner and meeting her at home. I got out of the car and went straight for my door. I slammed it shut and wept. After a few minutes, I took a peek through the curtains, wishing she was still outside. Maybe, she still was. After wiping my eyes dry, I focused on the space where her car once was. My heart sunk.
Months passed and I haven’t heard from her since. I have posed questions upon myself that I soon grew tired fabricating answers for. Whenever I walked, I took tiny steps and felt lighter, as if the wind could whisk me off my feet and trap me in a tree. I wished someone could make me smile during those moments of mourning, anything at all, even if it was the saddest joke on earth. But it took more than willpower to overcome the death of a hoping heart. It was about summoning a different kind of strength that only came the next time I saw her.
I sat behind my cubicle at the office, working away with the numbers. An accountant’s life isn’t the best but it pays for my house and funds my yearly visit to Holland to visit my mother. With a desk spilling with piles of papers, used coffee mugs and large binders, it wasn’t enough to block my view of her. I had to rub my eyes and make sure it was her. She was talking to one of my colleagues whom I’m not close to. They seemed to be engrossed in a business conversation, pointing at the statistics and newsletters that were pinned on the office board. My colleague excused himself for a while and she was left alone. She knew someone was watching her that she looked up and met my gaze.
There was a look of surprise on her face but got distracted by a figure that appeared behind her. Kelly too was dressed in business casual clothing. I saw them looking over to see if my colleague was on his way back to converse with them. Thinking nobody was in sight, Kelly quickly planted a kiss on her lips. I resumed doing my work in peace as their footsteps left the office.
In that brief moment when our eyes met, everything that was once alive has rotted and died. She held the grave of the person whom I once loved. Our dreams together have turned to nothing but dusty, forsaken blueprints. It was then and there that I decided to throw in the remaining flowers I’ve had every time I wept for her.
It felt like the death of someone close to me the when she sped off that night. I’m glad that after so long, I was finally ready and said my goodbye.
Fly Me To The Moon
We sat there in silence, forking my way around the beans on my plate. The steak was delicious but I was trying to watch my weight. Alex smiled at me and said that I looked great in my red dress. I told him he looked great in his suit. As he bowed down to take a bite from his plate, even the slightest movement he makes already made him glow. I know we’re all made of stars. But he was entirely one on his own.
The lights dimmed at the restaurant. With a glance, everyone else around us were dressed simply but fancily. I could spot the sharp glimmer of a ring from a porcelain white hand that belonged to a tall, slender woman with red hair. The other table entertained three sisters who were in their mid-40s, catching up on stories and tales yet still sounding ever so polite. Right across us sat a couple about the same age as Alex and I. Their plates were almost empty except for a fashionably placed salad with sprinkles of cheese and pepper on the side. Despite looking like two models ripped off of a billboard, they looked uncomfortable in each other’s presence. The woman decided to leave after finishing her glass of wine. She was then followed by the man shortly after.
I was about to raise my hand at a table attendant for a refill of water, until a white sleeve with a hand holding a bottle already beckoned my call. I thanked him with a slight bow of my head. It was ridiculous how you can barely spot any of the attendants, only because they’re always just a step behind. The restaurant’s smiling service made me jolly. I finally gave in to the smell of the steak finally and ditched my diet. Alex suppressed his laughter as I finished my plate in merely minutes.
I’m stuffed, Alex whispered as we left the restaurant of dim lighting, sparkling glass and delicate silk. I was still surprised why we went for fine-dining. It was a slight change from the usual takeouts on Friday evenings. The leftovers that greeted us on Saturday left us excited. It was a tough battle with laziness. Getting dressed just to get packed dinner was tedious. It was hitting two birds with one stone. And in our case, two dinners with one visit. Of course, there was always the delivery line. But Alex and I aren’t the smartest people.
He held my hand as we walked to the car. The evening was pleasant. Fall was just around the corner. Summer was getting ready to pack its bag and head on for a holiday. The lights of the city were beautiful from where we stood. Vehicular and edifices blinking always fascinated me. They were like fabricated stars dispersed across the city.
Alex usually opened the door for me but this time, he took my hand and led me to the back of the car where we rested our backs. He seemed extra fascinated with the city lights than usual. He used to tease me for being such an old lady, giving meaning to nothing but artificial lights. Nevertheless, he always made sure to replace the christmas lights that hovered above our bed when several of the bulbs have bid goodnight.
I don’t really know how to say this but um…, Alex whispered. He took out his phone and played the song Fly Me To The Moon by Frank Sinatra. Making sure to mould the moment perfectly, he decreased the volume but still making sure it was audible.
He went down on one knee and as the lump in my throat grew bigger, he fished out a tiny box that held a magnificent silver ring with a bright stone on its middle. He said, almost choking, Will you fly me to the moon for ever and always?
I was fighting back tears, also because my feet were hurting from my heels. Honey, I told him softy, you could have done this inside the car you know. Alex stood up and tackled me with his strong arms. Woman, I am bearing my heart and soul to you right now. And you said you liked these silly light things from up here! We were both starting to laugh and cry at the same time that it was getting ridiculous. Okay then, I said, one more time on your knees.
As he knelt down, I knelt down with him, cupping his face in my hands. His beautiful dark eyes were only accented as his hair drooped slightly over his forehead. He was close to crying as I was just. I pressed my lips softly against his as he held me tight and close. Yes baby, I whispered, let’s fly to the moon together and always. With snot ruining our attempt to look red-carpet classy, he wore the ring around my finger.
He broke into a large cry of “whoo” into the distance that I had to tackle him from the back to shut up. An hour was spent outside the car with the city as our witness to a new chapter of our lives that was about to unfold. I held his hand tight in mine, caressing the ring with the other. With those countless dinner takeouts, sloppy living and playing Playstation games after work, we both probably knew all this time that the ring was always meant to be there.
I could remember the way the empty, flavored tea bottles glistened under the last sun’s ray before it completely settled in the West. Packs of chinese leftovers littering the patio always left the neighbours disgruntled. The stain on the wide, porch chair was when Igo knocked over some soy sauce, which Jim tried to remove. I remember it splatting all over Hem’s new purse as well. The evening would consist of talking about plans after college and traveling to Taiwan, where the lush trees and hued flowers made you feel like jumping right into a storybook. Gary was able to make everyone envious with his four-day trip to Taipei. Most of all, the food was enticing that we had to order another round of packed chinese dinner that evening.
I haven’t heard from Igo, Hem and Gary in years. Even Jim misses the spritely bunch. We miss the way the skies laughed with us. Sometimes, I could hear the echoes of Hem’s gentle laughter, Gary’s snoring and Igo’s ridiculous hiccuping. Maybe the stars that night were able to pocket a fraction of those beautiful moments. For which I’m heavily thankful for.
Even when the lights are out and there is no sound, I find myself dancing in the dark.
"reeled in" | © artreture #collage #art #books #love
Wrote. Doodled.. Suikoden 2’d.
Today was a good day. Positive vibes, synergize!
Let our hands do the talking
May all the words take flight
I can feel myself sinking
Into your abyss - oh, the white light
Anonymous said: Hi Janine! How are you? Hope you're doing well! You're still beautiful. :)
Oh hello. Leave a name behind, please. Let’s be friends. And thank you. :-) Hope you are doing well at your end too. x
The snow storms were unforgiving each time around. Being frostbitten was no longer a casualty. What they would leave behind were battle scars I was going to be proud of. Every time I would inform people that I was "heading up", I was bombarded with messages to not go incase something happened. I still braved Mount Everest every year anyway.
Considered as one of the most dangerous places to climb, Mount Everest was, ironically, named after George Everest who never got to its peak. In a remote region away from the technologies of the world that left things impaired, the Nepalese pride themselves for their Sagarmatha. Also known as Chomolungma by the Tibetans, meaning “mother goddess of the world.” A number of people fail the conquest to stroke the crowning glory of the highest mountain in the world. But not even the deaths can waver me from climbing up.
The weather and obstacles along the way are clearly not for man to encounter. The unpleasantness of witnessing corpses that once hoped their fires could power through the cold were now merely remnants of that bravery. Frozen limbs can be unearthed from the snow when trying to retrieve a dropped item. But it was just like sifting through dinosaur bones. It was right then and there where they were meant to perish, in the presence of the madness that drove them to test the prowess of the mountain.
Days of wind, cold and rock tested me. I was physically capable and very determined to make this my fifth claim of overcoming the mother goddess’ tests. Every step I took made me feel stronger and the farther I got away from the earth, it was a testament to my would-be victory.
After a week of climbing, sweating and shivering, I felt like I owned a piece of time for a while and everything became still. I looked over the mass of rock and snow I went through. It seemed like infinite proportions but it was not impossible to conquer. I planted my flag next to the ones of those who have been here before me.
I sat there for a while and took in the reality - Only a handful of the earth’s population can muster to climb these heights and witness the world from up here. I looked inside my soul and knew that the places with the least amount of people were where I felt my best. I always looked forward to that time of the year when it was time, once again, to leave everything behind. And to embark on a journey that always felt different every time.
I took a photograph of Fiona out of my pocket and looked at it for a while. It was time to bid her farewell and to let go of the frost that has homed itself within me for years. I watched the photograph leave my open palm and disappear in the white mist.
"It’s just you and me again, old friend," I said to the white, titanic cloud that was all around me. I patted the snow again and knew a snow storm was coming. I didn’t want to leave. I have nothing and nobody to go back to, as I have always done every year. This isolated pile of rock was a companion I looked forward to conversing with every year. I can feel myself weep for the remains of the good thoughts that I forced to carry with me during my conquests through the years. As I grow older, the warmth of being human slowly leaves me. I soon realized that it is within the ice and rock where I find solace and peace.
I decided to head for cover, hoping the snow storm wouldn’t be as extreme. Climbing down Mount Everest would make my heart sink as I descend to the grounds where I feel less great. I blew a kiss to the wind and bid Chomolungma goodbye. I promised her I would come back.
With all the strength I can muster for next year, I’m looking forward to traveling home to her again.
I felt a thirst from within even after chugging down two bottles of water. There were still droplets above my upper lip. I took a walk today and noticed that the flowers from a park I usually bypassed bent towards my shadow. I stood there for a while. I watched the freshly cut grass bed the foundation of these delicate, hued creatures that had enough vigour to remain as they are. Summer breathed all its energy around with one last hurrah as the sun was about to set. Steam trailed the corners of my spectacles as I tried to examine the jolly petals that caught my attention. I suddenly felt a little grateful about this little distraction. It was hot but I ignored it. The flowers felt like tongues whispering to the little beast inside me. They told it to resolve in slumber and the rest will be taken care of. I closed my eyes and breathed in scent of the petals. The delicate perfume tickled my nose and a smile broke on my lips. I continued walking to where I was headed and instead turned around. I ditched going to my meeting. It was the weekend and I felt my bones grow heavier as sleep slowly eluded me because of work. Not even three mugs of coffee could shake my cells to wake up. I headed back to the park and nested myself on a bench that was cozily set up under the shade of a nice, large tree. I looked at the sky. The clouds seemed to have shared a conversation with the flowers. The sun descended and the evening breeze made its entrance, whistling at the back of my neck. I was kissed by the sun today and sung to by the moon and stars. Today was a good day.
"may I have a hot cup of Now What, please?"
Where have you been? The rounds of her eyes were dark from lack of sleep. Her lips trembled when I repeated my question. Where have you been? She turned around and lit a cigarette. I saw her blow smoke into the air like the amateur that she was. Flesh almost left her bones and her limbs sagged like tired pieces of branches dying to shake itself off from the tree. I asked her for the last time. Where have you been? She turned around and faced me wordlessly. She took another drag of her cigarette and blew smoke towards the window. I saw a mark on her neck. A kiss mark. My vision was turning crimson. I was about to advance towards her, fighting every urge to pull all that hair from her head. But she beat me to it and lifted a battered cake piece to my face. A melted candle with barely a wick stood pitifully on its middle. I turn 22 today, she said. Her cigarette lent its fire to the candle. A bright flame in the shape of a tear danced to the wind from the window. She giggled and clapped her hands, forgetting that her cigarette was in between her fingers. It fell to the floor and burnt a hole on the carpet. She picked it back up and rested it in between her lips. It’s my birthday, Shelly, she croaked. I was in a place where you wouldn’t let me be. Happy. She turned her back on me again and sat on the windowsill. Looking at her, I knew it was helpless. You cannot prevent love. Even more so when it’s forbidden.
The sound of a trolley crashing into a large plant display distracted me from listening to Frank Sinatra. As I took off my headphones, all eyes were on an European family. The mother was shaking her finger in the air, reprimanding her middle child for not minding where she was pushing the luggage trolley. Her other two children were engrossed in their father’s newly-purchased souvenir. I looked around and saw that the crowd at the lounge only grew in a span of an hour.
There was a food court on the next level up while I was below it. Kiosks were spread across the floor, selling novelty items to luxury products that would entice the jet-lagged or excited traveler. People had their passports and tickets on one hand while the other either pulled a wheeled hand-carry behind them or wrapped up Duty-Free bags.
I couldn’t grasp what I thought about the smell of airports. I liked how you could never smell anything like it anywhere. At the same time, I despised how it made my stomach tighten, resulting in flatulence. The same goes for airplanes. The winds won’t let me catch a break. I love airplane food but visits to the lavatory were never pleasant.
I enjoyed loitering around the airport lounge. My flight was still three hours away but people-watching is a great start to what would be a very boring flight. 30 minutes ago, I witnessed a man in his 40s jam a soda vending machine and realized he didn’t put any coin in. The pin that is on the collar of my coat was given to me by an Indian boy in exchange for my singing him a song on my ukulele. A Greek family handed me a chicken wrap that was specially made with herbs and spices only available in Santorini. It was the best chicken wrap I’ve ever had. I think I saw stars for a moment there.
In all its noise and commotion, I find peace in standing in the middle of it all and witnessing thousands of things happen at the same time. The hands of the clock must be trembling at this part of the country. With Frank Sinatra making every movement beat in time to its tune, it felt like a musical number.
To some, the airport was a portal to getting home to their warm beds and in the familiar arms of loved ones. For others, the airport was an escape from settling for a single destination, finding solace in always being on the move. I’m still figuring out at which end I’m gravitating toward. Meanwhile, it’s all about soaking all this in like a sponge.
Be still, dear child
There is still a petal left
Cry not for the winds
But drink the tears of their gods
Pray not to the unknown
But to the life in your skin
Every day is a losing battle
But you are the living truth
Lie onto the salt of the sea
Breathe the beginning of time
Dear, don’t shed a tear
Live your purpose, lovely stardust