It was a night of bones shaking and ratting to the sounds of the evening. The racket from the speakers hopped into the air and danced among the skins that glittered under the moonlight. Breaths were exchanged, saliva dripped from lip to neck and the spirit of alcohol lived strongly amongst everyone. It started to drizzle and the cold crept through my jacket and vest. Everybody else jumped liked beasts when the dj fist-pumped the air, signaling everyone to get their feet off the ground. The place where I stood shook for a while and it left me dizzy. I was under a tree, the farthest area from the concert stage, yet there were couples all around me who had their mouths glued to each other. Each person that passed by reeked of booze. The people I came here with were nowhere to be seen. I found myself creeping into the small of the tree’s space until I can move no more. Even if the sounds from the stage raged all of a sudden, it gathered the crowd once again and I was left in solitude with my tree. My ears were starting to get numb. I can hear the sound of my blood rush through my head as I squinted, trying to focus on the blur of luminosity before me. The violet lights drowned everyone. It was close to impossible to see the night sky as everything was lit, and it was starting to hurt my eyes. I sat on the ground and adjusted my jacket as the drizzle started to double its pace and content. A shadow sat next to me and he didn’t smell like booze. I knew it was a he when it cleared its throat. He did so because he accidentally breathed in the exhaled smoke from a topless man who walked past by him. A quarter of the male crowd had their tops off. The images that flashed in my head were tattoos, violet lights, the moon and glinting beer bottles. I was starting to doze off when the stranger next to me patted my shoulder and asked if I was okay. I told him I was in between fine and not fine, which was just about right. I didn’t know how I was feeling and how I ended up there. I wasn’t into EDM or being around crowds, but I needed to get out of the eerie silence that took over my house. I needed sound. Any sound, but silence. The stranger handed me an unopened bottle of water and told me to drink. It felt cool on my lips as the water passed through my tongue and throat. It had been several hours since I last drank. I was starting to see clearer, even if the concert grounds were starting to become a liability. I couldn’t remember how the stranger looked, or if he said anything else after he gave me that bottle of water. All I know was that we sat next to each other, shoulders touching, watching the rest of the world drown themselves in the noise and clouds of light.
I’ve passed this very road on the way to work a thousand times, yet it feels different today. The sun shines beautifully, the wind is in my hair and smiles come my way. It’s a good day generally, but not for me. I feel as if I’m trying to balance an apple on my head and in any moment, an arrow would zing towards me, missing the part between my eyes with just a breath. The confusion buzzing in my ears turn into a song. I find myself humming to its tune, chuckling at how I’ve found rhythm in the discomfort.
I asked a friend if there was something wrong with me. He crossed his arms, bowed his head towards his drink and took a long sip from his straw. "There is always something wrong with people. Which is just about right. We love, we hurt, we thrive in hope; it’s how we’re meant to function. I guess where you are is that place in between change and sticking to what’s familiar to you. You may feel different, but you’re really still the same. Just this time around, you’re being careful."
I can still remember that night quite well. It was an unfamiliar bottle of booze that I drank like water. The next thing I know, my vision was blurry and I was on the floor. Tears rolled down my face. I tried to shake off the hands and arms that were trying to wrap themselves around me. I heard whispers of it’s going to be okay, everything is going to be okay, we’re here for you and the occasional let him go. I looked down, allowing the loose strands of my hair to cover my face. I was ashamed, but I didn’t do anything about my breakdown. My tears clouded my glasses. All I could see were moving silhouettes. There was laughter in the air. Some were already drunk. A few continued to hover around me to make sure I was okay. I was sniffing and weeping in silence. I demanded for someone to light me a stick. Someone hid the box away from my sight, pretending that we were out. But I knew we weren’t out. I just didn’t have the energy to go over and grab the box. I continued to sit where I was, head bowed and still, holding the hand that was upon my shoulder. I was whimpering. The voices started to comfort me again. I patted the back of whomever’s hand was trying to reach over. I nodded my head; a poor execution of okay-ness during my murky, drunk moment. Sweet and Low echoed in my head again. I started to pull at my hair. I excused myself from everyone and entered the unlit room. I sat on the edge of the bed and started crying. I sang to myself, unaware that I was, until someone told me I did. I felt weight next to me. Someone put an arm over my shoulder and extended a small towel. I wiped my eyes with it and continued sobbing. My chest felt tight. I couldn’t breathe right. The light-headedness took over all possible control I had over my actions. I didn’t scream or throw things about. I wish I just did that. Instead, I sat still in my place. I allowed the pain I’ve endured for months to leak through my tired eyes. It was a tough night. I was fortunate to have the murmuring voices and comforting shadows to look after me. I was lost and terribly broken. I got drunk and shattered my walls. After several months of denial, I was finally honest with myself.
She’s a glowing mess
She stole my favorite pants
Daylight grew tired of her hype
Rob me off my peace
She’s a riot, she will kill me
But I’ve never felt more alive
Foreheads touching. Noses shyly kissing. Hands gently upon each other’s cheeks. Swaying slow to the distant sound of waltz in the next room. I think that is the only way to dance.
The cold of her skin was sharp
It made bones softer than water
Her fingertips were flakey yellow
Eyes sunk deeper than the couch
There were noises in his ears
He didn’t know if it was more auspicios
Than the silence that roosted in his heart
His black lips sealed tight his cigarettes
The windows knew not of the sun
The moon hid itself under the tiles
She refused to wear slippers
Frost from the floor cut her toes
There is a room amidst the stars
Full of drunken darkness and oblivion
And he didn’t need to stray too far
To find this room and lose his soul
Her breath felt like sad fires
Blankets stained with saliva and ash
Her gaze was always at the door
Waiting for nothing, for nobody
His eyes were colorless storms
Tired from sleep and poetry
He stands with wuthering patience
Waiting for nothing, for nobody
- - -
artreture | fato-profugus
She told me, "Let go of comparing." I contemplated for a while as the reflection of the sun on the glossy wall hurt my eyes. I felt the bumps on my wrist. It’s been over a year since I played with the blade, but I meant to keep it that way. It was long gone. Everyone has moved forward. But my scars, these cuts, will always remind me that there’s someone out there better. What do you think?
She told me, "Let go of competing." It gets under my skin seeing other people have at things they want so easily. I am part of the percentage who gets the realest piece of how the world works. Loss. Loss is inevitable and getting back up is not really a choice. What is your “level best” if there’s always someone stepping on you to get to the peak?
She told me, "Let go of judgements." I’ve gotten into many fights, even as I was a child. As I grew up, I either kept my emotions in and curled into a ball in my room or flood the room with sheer sarcasm until it repels everyone. It’s easier to speak your mind than to pretend that you’re thinking of something pleasant. The world is not ugly, but the people in it are. Wouldn’t you agree?
She told me, "Let go of anger." He left me for a reason. A reason I never got to know. Maybe it was a story that was about endings, but I didn’t know that at the time. I was left in a room, with the key to it stolen and running amok. I was left to craft my own key to get myself out of the room that swallowed every bit of light through the window into the shadows. My mind was clouded with rage. But rage only happens when the sadness is too much to take, right?
She told me, "Let go of regrets and worrying." Back in 4th grade, I regretted being nice to these two girls whom I wanted to befriend. They only wanted my sticker collection which I came to know several weeks later. After being bereft of my collection, I cried in a corner. People say I don’t care much about people. but I do. And that’s what worries me. Despite my pains and scars, I still care. Do you think I do?
She told me, "Let go of blame." There is a point in time when we suddenly keep hitting a brick wall. The determination cannot change the existence of a boulder. And sometimes, that boulder exists because we believe it is there. As I held my wrist upon my lap, the scars hurt no more but are very visible. The vulnerability and weaknesses come to me when I try to be happy. To give is to lose. To love is to hurt. To become is to wilt away. The constant conflict I have within between being safe and giving it all keeps me up at night. Is that how I’m supposed to feel?
She told me, "Let go of fear." They say fear is a good motivator. You can control anyone once you instill fear inside them. I think that’s true. I’m kept up at night because of my fears. Fears that I have given to myself and are now my puppet-masters. But I slowly try to drain it from me. I need to take control. But a little dose of fear isn’t so bad. I need to remind myself why I am who I am. After all, the heart does what it has to do to protect itself, right?
I designed the jersey for this company’s basketball team and even though the colour requirements that were white and gray didn’t seem that appealing to me, he stood out in the court with the number 15 on his back.
He wasn’t much of a talker or had the stunning of looks, but his silent and timid nature left me blushing. Hank kept nudging my ribs with his elbow whenever Kian held the ball and made a three-point shot. The nudging hurt, but I was too busy clapping furiously as Kian sped to the other side of the court as if nothing happened, even if the crowd cheered louder.
Kian was almost always inside the court and not a hint of exhaustion rippled across his face. If there was a foul or fault while in the game, he simply gave a half close-lipped shrug and signaled towards the referee. There were times when a couple of the opposing team would purposely bump into him with full force, but he remained calm and focused. A couple of his team-mates were short-tempered. And from the looks of the way their lips moved, you can tell they were saying nasty things towards the opposing team. Kian scored over 10 points during the game. I’m not a basketball junkie so I don’t know if scoring 10 on your own was worth rejoicing about. After all, I’m only seated here because my cousin Hank works for this company and he wanted me to check it out since I did design the jersey anyway. This was the second time I saw Kian and I could feel my spirits soar when he scored the last three-pointer shot that made them win. There was a gentle grin resting on his soft lips and he broke into full cheer as his team-mates playfully tackled him. He was the youngest in the team, and one of the best.
As the game concluded, Hank and I stood up from the bleachers and headed towards the parking lot. At the corner of my eye, I could see Kian being attended to by Clara, his long-time girlfriend. She was preoccupied too with recalling the game with his other team-mates as she wiped Kian’s forehead. She offered him his favorite Gatorade, the pink one. Out of the two times I’ve witness Kian playing for the team, he often consumed 3 pink Gatorades at a time. I could hear Clara’s shrill voice in conversation with his team-mates, right from the other side of the court. She was the complete opposite of Kian, being the reserved and quite soul that he was. But I guess that’s why they were a perfect fit.
"Mom? What’s a les bien?" my son asked me as bits of cereal hung from his lips, traces of milk smeared on its sides.
I was frozen in my place and scrunched one sneaker on top of the other. Fortunately the breakfast table kept my shoes out of Jayden’s sight. He knew my mannerisms whenever I got nervous and I didn’t like seeing that mocking smile on the face of my 6-year-old.
I tried to keep my cool as I continued to eat my salad, "Where did you hear that word from, honey?" I knew this conversation between us was going to happen someday. I just didn’t expect it to happen while he was still in size S pants.
"From some of my friends at school, mom" Jayden replied. "They were teasing me about you. But it didn’t really matter." He smiled at me, with eyes twinkling. He dipped his strawberry into his bowl of cereal and milk before taking a bite out of it.
There was a forced smile on my lips but deep inside, I was enraged. The neighbors alone wouldn’t give me a break. I tried my best to shield my son from the close-minded perspectives and hurtful judgements everyone had but I couldn’t possible follow him everywhere. Just because you didn’t understand something doesn’t mean it’s wrong and just because you know a lot of things doesn’t necessarily mean you’re always right. Didn’t people get that?
I’ve always known that the life my son will have won’t be an easy one, but I won’t give up without a fight. His father didn’t hesitate to leave us when he found out I was going to have Jayden. It happened over a drunken night. I cried when I found out I was pregnant. I weeped not because I didn’t want to have a child, but because I knew what the child was going to face. His father was a wealthy man who was already engaged to someone else. I just got out of a relationship and had lost my job. Having nowhere to go, I succumbed to drinks at a secluded bar blocks away from my apartment, and everything else happened so fast. That night was a mistake, but my son wasn’t.
The nosy neighbors not only knew of my affair but of something else. Years ago, a close friend of mine and I sort of dated for a while. Not exclusively, but she was there to help me out during Jayden’s younger years. Eventually, I couldn’t commit to the relationship, with the shifts I’m working at the cafe and always putting my son first. Since then, I’ve been doing it all on my own.
My son’s my blessing. But this life, his life - I’m afraid that he may not love it long enough to realize its worth because of my decisions.
Grabbing a tissue, I gently wiped Jayden’s mouth clean. "What did they tell you, honey? Do they tease you? You can tell mommy everything. I’ll do everything to make it all okay." I was tempted to get off my chair and kneel in front of my son so I could embrace his tiny little body over mine. But I knew it would be suspicious and he would just pull a mocking smile at me again.
"They tease me. The neighbor’s kids are in my class too. But I’m really fine, mom. My friends Gavin and Sally think you’re wonderful no matter what. I agree!" He smiled yet again, a dimple on his right cheek appearing deeper than ever. I was about to sigh in relief, thinking that the conversation was over until he asked another question.
"Mom? Do you really like girls?" He was munching on his last strawberry, milk dripping from his lower lip and into his bowl of soggy left-over cereal.
My heart pounded loudly in my chest. I wanted to be completely honest with Jayden, but this was too much burden for him. Most of all, it was too early. Self-loathing began to well up inside me. I must have not done a good-enough job to shelter Jayden. I must still be such a stupid woman to have not been prepared for this. I didn’t know how to shape my words right for fear of losing my child’s respect and love for me. He was my world, and I was already terrified.
"Jayden," I started, kneeling in front of him as he sat on his chair. My voice quivered but I went on. "Mommy is… a little different. But you don’t have to worry. I will always take care of you. I will only love you alone. Nobody else." I kissed his cheek and embraced him.
He nodded and wrapped his tiny arms around my neck. Just as I was about to well up, he whispered, "Just so you know, I think I’m happy about being the only man in your life." He kissed my forehead gently, his breath of strawberry and traces of milk damp on my skin.
It’s like drifting with the stars
When I bathe in the pages
Of your soul and its symphonies
The sands of time and the sea
Tickle me down to my toes -
You’re the subtle secret I keep
Soft as water, you’re my incomparable;
Even if tomorrow takes us
We’ll stay in this coldest night forever
If you’re going to love her, make sure you send her letters. Write them in your handwriting, even if she comments that it seems as if a 4th grader wrote it. Bring her soup and bread, if that is what she wants for dinner, even if she should be eating her vegetables as her mom advised you about. When the wind blows through her hair, gently take the strands off from her face and kiss her blushed cheeks just because. If you wish to keep her, make sure you’d never forget the facial expressions she’d wear: the disappointed look? Take her to the park and share a corn-dog with her. The sad look? Rent her favorite film and sit on the floor with her while eating pizza. The its-one-of-those-days look? Cuddle with her and massage her head until she falls asleep in your arms. She may complain most of the time, but know in your heart that it is you that makes her happier with every minute that comes and goes. She may pay attention more to her whines, but she holds you so dear to her that she doesn’t want you to be aware of it. If you’re going to fall in love with her, make sure that your only intention is to fall deeper as you get to know who she is behind the quiet smile that’s set on her lips. If you want to make her happy, make sure that despite giving you a hard time, if it was your turn, she’d give you the world if she could.
Chips, Fruit Shakes And Choking On Them
He would be persistent with the large bag of chips and two orders of my favorite mango shake every weekend. He was supposed to do an errand for his aunt, so I told him not to come anymore - even if my previous text message was ranting about my irrational cravings. Before I could persuade him to not come over anymore, he rang the doorbell. He sat next to me, in his navy-blue polo and black jeans, handing me my goodies. I quickly snatched one of the mango shakes from his grip and punctured a straw through it. I sipped and let out a satisfactory “ahhhh” as the cold rush of fresh mango shake bathed in my tongue, and into my throat. My favorite bag of chips were apparently “60% less fat compared to other chips” and was in sour and cream flavor. I knew the big, fat statement was a big lie because the first bite alone gives you a million phosphenes of joy, which I believe is just MSG. He pursed his lips and suppressed a chuckle as he watched me wolf down my chips while simultaneously sipping my drink. I choked for a bit and he rubbed the small of my back, before rushing to the kitchen to get me a glass of water. As I tried to cough the bits of chips caught in my throat, I thought how much of a patient guy he was. It wasn’t long ago when we had a spat about a comment he made about my preference in movies. It wasn’t a spat per se. I think I turned it into a spat with the way my voice was louder than his and I ended up being snappy throughout the rest of the night. I know this isn’t supposed to be taken advantage of, but I was having cramps. It was my “first day”. My moods were worse than a kid on sugar-high, violently playing on a swing. Yet, he remained quiet by my side and handed me a bag of Skittles when we walked to the train station. He was observant in ways I wasn’t. I always had a bag of Skittles in my bag incase I felt nauseated from excess computer-time or I simply craved to dissolve something saccharine in my mouth. We haven’t known each other for too long, but it didn’t take that much time for us to know each other. There were vast differences but the little things did amount to something genuine and worth keeping. I still can’t pinpoint where he is in my life. All I know that he is a good person, with a good heart. The last thing I want to do is cause him pain. I’ve been told that he may be experiencing a shift of thought and feeling but he’s chosen to keep quiet. I’m giving him the benefit of the doubt. We take turns taking care of each other, platonically. Maybe he tends to slip every now and then, but I admire him for the tremendous respect he has towards me and my past. He’s a savior and a friend. If every lady were a princess in her own rite, I’m just not quite sure that I’m ready for him to be my knight. I’m not sure I’ll every be ready for any knight. So until then, loud cheers to chips, fruit shakes and choking on them. Until then, I don’t mind being my own knight.
It’s been long gone
Months have slept
Weeks have forgotten
The quake’s come to pass
But the tremors remain
I feel them close, intact -
They are just remnants
Of the nightmarish aftermath,
Still it feels fresh and new
As if it never left
Just Like Old Times
The doe sat next to her furry little lion friend before setting the marshmallows above the bonfire.
"Do you miss him?" she whispered. The night was kind but she didn’t want to wake the slumbering trees. She promised to not make so much noise, which was why the trees allowed her to bring her lion friend into their premises. But there were times when she would get too excited that they would snap a leaf or two to remind her of her promise.
The lion friend pursed his lips and rubbed one paw against the other. "Perhaps. Just a little bit. I don’t know. It’s like the moon, I suppose. You want it. But you can’t have it. It’s a tease in the sky, but you eventually get used to it that you start to not care anymore."
"Was he your brother? The tiger?" the doe inquired, twirling their marshmallows sticks above the fire, hearing it crackle and pop. Her lion friend was silent for a while until he sighed.
"When you lose someone you care about, it’s natural to feel a little lost and all that." The lion friend realized that his answer was far from her question. The doe laughed. He scratched behind his mane and added, "Yes. He was my brother."
The doe handed a stick to the lion friend who right away devoured the marshmallows, and the stick too. Her eyes widened as she nibbled slowly on a mallow. "I guess that’s what’s up with losing something," she whispered, with her bright round eyes set on the trees, "When you lose something, you completely detach yourself from a whole lot of things as well. Without your knowing."
The lion friend didn’t respond but nodded in agreement. He eyed the remaining mallows on the doe’s stick, to which she offered to him. They both sat in silence around the bonfire and made shadow characters with their hands. Just like old times.