His eyes were as calm as unstirred waters, as if it never saw the loud cities. His knuckles that grazed through my knees resembled little, majestic hills full of breaths from the wind. His hair played along with the breeze, skin glowing gently from the sun’s last rays. We were inches apart, but our souls already took flight and danced with the kites. I held the moon’s whisper close to my heart as I searched the skies. I’ve always had a faint one for a heart. My feet would freeze to the ground when fright took over my shoulders. But as warmth encumbered my cold back as it pressed against his body, I saw lighthouses and felt the rhythm of the sea dance on my skin. I turned to face him, his grin planting seeds of gold in between my ears. My temples throb as my body is filled with excitement. I’ve already traveled the world with a single moment of staring into his brown storms for eyes. We were an uneven ocean, taking turns from disappearing into the clouds and floating in thin airs. He is my calm and my storm. I close my eyes. I blink. Even in that brief moment of dark, he is still what I see.
She knew she didn’t have much time. Jade’s fingers sped through the keys on her laptop, finishing off 4 pending articles for the newspaper. It was her last week before her resignation. She was terrified about being jobless but she knew that her part in the newspaper industry was over. Scanning through the hills of papers that rested on her desk, she sighed and continued typing. She heard the front door open and close itself shut. A heavy bag was heard hitting the living room’s sofa with a thud. Footsteps were drawing closer. Jade continued to face her laptop as a shadow appeared on the wall, blocking the light that shone from the outside room. A pair of arms wrapped themselves around her shoulders, a nose sniffed at her neck. "Hi, baby," Jade said cheerfully, "Welcome home." Without turning around, she lifted her arm, grazed her palm against Adam’s cheek and ran her fingers through his hair. Adam had been away for several weeks on a business trip. Turning around to take a look at her fiance’s face, Jade could see he was evidently tired. But she smiled as his playful eyes remained untouched - they still twinkled in all its purity. She stood up and gave him a tight embrace. "I missed you," Adam murmured. He buried his face in her neck and held her tight. Jade hummed in agreement, stroking the tight muscles on his back. He was stressed. She knew he had been lacking sleep. She broke off from him and told him to prepare for bed. He nodded, gave her a kiss on the forehead and went to get changed. Jade sat back on her chair, now distracted from her pending articles. She sighed and got herself a hot cup of tea. She continued typing, shaking her head now and then with disagreement with herself. She was not motivated. She was exhausted. It was almost 2 in the morning. Sleep was starting to rest itself on her eyelids. She heard Adam leave the bathroom. She wanted to sleep too, but the days ahead were keeping her awake. Jade was clouded with her worries when Adam sneaked up behind her, planting a kiss on her nape. Shivers went up and down her spine. She stood up from her chair and accepted defeated. Jade wrapped her arms around Adam’s neck and kissed him softly. When she pulled away, she gently blew the breath of Listerine that she got from his kiss. Jade and Adam got under the sheets and slipped into slumber right away, after a long while of being sleepless and apart.
It came over her like a flu. Maybe it was the flu. The weather was fine in the morning. But her usual cup of tea wasn’t enough to chase away the chills. There was a lucky feeling resting in the back pocket of her jeans. But she refused to use it today. The cubicle she’s in at work was far from the sun. She loved daylight and believed the sun followed her around for a reason. There were rolled up tissue pieces on her desk as she stood up to leave. She headed to the park, watching trained dogs walk leash-less next to their owners. The smell of corn-dogs wafted in the early evening air. She smiled as her blocked nose still took in the delicious air. She rubbed her palms together in time with her foot that bunny hopped in its place. She was starting to feel too warm, still she wore her pastel brown coat. She held it close to her body. The skies were painted in acrylic purple and orange. She took out her camera, peeked from the viewfinder and clicked the shutter. She placed the Kodak camera back inside her bag and rubbed her arms with her gloved hands.
I Wanted To Tell Him
I wanted to tell him the little secrets that writhed in my bones. They were stories that clawed at me when my skin was rid of its defenses. I hid my thoughts carefully in my hair. Every time a hair strand fell to the floor, I felt like my own body was giving up on me. My face wrinkled each time I made a sigh in front of the mirror. Seeing who I was made me turn away every time.
Moonshine that crept in my room both caressed and burned right through me. The sheets in my bed are never in place as I slither in and out of them. I was barefoot to the kitchen and back. I carried a small cup of hot chocolate in my palms, hoping the chill that resided between my ribs would thaw. I drank the sugary liquid and felt it burn my throat. I shook my face and felt a tear drop from my left eye. I sat on the edge of my bed and grazed the spot where his shadow once was.
It was two in the morning and I could hear cats squealing from a distance. As I placed my hand on the rungs of the balcony, I took in a deep breath of the evening. I could see the stars prance every so lightly in their home. Their shimmer distracted me from my gloom for a while.
The floor of my room was littered with unfinished books and creased clothes. I sat underneath them, stroking the spines of the novels longing to be read. I felt my eyes and cheeks get wet, dragging the edge of the bed sheet and quickly wiping my face dry. I kept my right hand dangling on the left side of my chest, patting it to the drowsy beat of The Cinematic Orchestra’s To Build A Home. Cradling myself back and forth on the floor, I buried my face between my knees. I could feel his shadow upon me. I could feel his smell on my skin. Like a ballad startling your soul, I was helplessly endemic to his parameters. Even without.
I could taste myself and I found it rancid. I was nectar only when he was around to consume me. His absence made me physically ache. I try to make my way in the dark until I fall and scrape my knees. The blood starts to feel like jam. My joints quiver. Like a whisper into lifeless walls, I call out to you in silence.
I wanted to tell him the little secrets that writhed in my bones. They were stories that clawed at me when my skin was rid of its defenses. I hid my thoughts carefully in my hair. Every time a hair strand fell to the floor, I felt like my own body was giving up on me. My face wrinkled each time I made a sigh in front of the mirror. Seeing who I am made me turn away every time.
There was a gentle calm in knowing that you don’t want to know certain things.
We sat opposite each other on the breakfast table with barely any words to offer the other. He toyed around with his cereal, his fingers drumming across the spoon’s stem. His jet-black hair hovered as he bowed towards his bowl, watching the soggy bits swim in a pool of murky milk. I sat in my place, feeling the warmth of the chair and the gentle greeting of the morning light streaming in onto the kitchen floor.
I didn’t spend the night at his place before. We were preoccupied with a design project for a client that took weeks to finalize. Last night was the last straw and we figured that it would be best if I stayed over so we could get it over with. The pay wasn’t big, but the challenge enticed the both of us.
We weren’t close, and still aren’t. We met at a petrol station months before when I asked him for change. He noticed my shirt that had a giant Hemingway head on its center. He found it amusing that led to an invitation for coffee. We barely spoke after, but did so occasionally. He would give me a call if he was bored or had a really good track to recommend. I would send him a message if I found out that my cake preference was better than his at a particular patisserie just around the corner. We weren’t close, but close enough to understand certain silences.
I took a sip from my coffee cup and realized that I haven’t drunk coffee for a long while. The caffeine got to me and didn’t help with my circadian problems. I switched to tea and was able to breathe easily thereon out. Most of all, I was able to sleep better. After the passing away of my younger brother last year, it was hard to cope with even the simplest hours of the day. It was one of the reasons why I took this client’s offer and his challenging task because it was still money – and I had no choice, being unemployed in my late twenties.
He called me up one day about the job, said that the client was a former co-worker. Turns out he regretted the decision more than he liked it, but the transition from planning to fruition tamed his anxieties. Our late nights consisted of empty noodle and rice boxes strewn on the floor, canvasses and papers overflowing on his couch.
The client’s message this morning signaled that our project was finally over. He was not pleased, but the both of us were. We sent the client a picture of the painting and mixed media piece we did and he finally gave in. We looked over at the giant canvas that leaned over his fireplace and smiled in unison. I made a sigh of relief that the stress was finally done with, but I felt a rush of something strange all of a sudden.
I spent most of my waking hours with this stranger I met a petrol station, discussing everything related to Hemingway, Alan Watts and even the importance of the shape of a circle whenever we took a break from our project. It would take a while before I could go back to the routine of not being in speaking terms again. I wonder if he felt the same way. I looked at him and noticed that his bowl was no longer on the table. Instead there laid a lyrical book on The Beatles, as he turned his stereo on.
My bare feet felt cold on his kitchen tile. I was shivering, up until a tail brushed upon my ankle. I bent over and sat the furry creature on my lap. It was odd that Lilly warmed up to him very quickly, having met him only for the first time last night. Seeing that my little girl’s paws were on the table, he leaned over and shook one gently as he wished her good morning. I smiled and he smiled back. The silence between us continued, with Blackbird playing softly from his stereo. I looked at him with a gaze I couldn’t describe. All I know was that I felt warm on the inside.
There was a gentle calm in knowing that you don’t want to know certain things. It feels like being in a strange place, yet you’re home.
She shuffled in her place, looking out the train’s window and witnessing the blur of trees, telephone wires and cottages whiz past her. Her mind was clouded with a wistfulness she could almost grab by the hand. Her latte had turned cold as it lay untouched on its holder by the seat. An old man opposite her watched as she fervently rubbed her palms against each other, brushing off hair strands off her face that was swept by the gap by the window. She was tempted to ask for a stick from someone in the train, but clamped her fists instead. She was dying to have a smoke, but it has been a week since she resolved to quit smoking. Her lungs were able to breathe easier, but the absence of smoke and its poison instilled a slight pain somewhere from within. “Of Mice and Men” by Steinbeck was a novel she found at a thrift store that also sold second-hand books. It was one of the many books referred to her by an old friend back when she was still taking her masters. After several months of putting off reading, she grabbed the novel and took it with her to the train. She was on route to visit a dying aunt, as phoned to her by mom a couple of hours ago. The aunt was one she wasn’t close with and even if she had multiple projects pending at the firm she works in, she filed an emergency leave anyway. It only took her a couple of hours to finish the novel, which triggered dark clouds to hover above her already disturbed waters. After twenty minutes of contemplating the blurry outside view and brushing her fingers against the rough, split edges of the novel’s cover, she finally noticed the old man that was staring at her. He had a wrinkly forehead and a couple of thin twig-like stuff for hair, but his smile was a kind one. His eyes had a ring of blue which was common within old people, but she perceived them to be an angel’s halo of some kind, except it was in their eyes. She was still five stops away where she should be dropped off, and the old man already got off the next. She continued looking out the window despite not seeing anything, hoping one day that her eyes would tell stories that spoke no words but the spirit of experience that almost only existed in books.
"A man’s death at twenty eight is as sad as the winter rain."
My mother always had the habit of buying me gray suits for Christmas. It started when I turned eighteen. I have eleven untouched suits in my closet, dancing with dust bunnies for eleven years and counting. It’s close to Christmas and I saved my mother the effort from buying me yet another suit. I already bought my own. A first too. It was for a funeral for a dear friend of mine.
Just like ears of corn withering in the drought, he faded from physicality to being somewhere out of reach. We often spoke about the differences of our beliefs back in college, but we came to the agreement that something majestic did exist out there, refusing to take any sort of form that is known to mankind. Man erred. We only excelled in arithmetic complexities, yet somewhere in those formulae alone exists an error or two that goes beyond our recognition. Probably. I may be biased in saying this for I never excelled in mathematics, but I did feel a heavy settling towards it. Ethan was a kind fellow, but just like things that come to pass, death isn’t always the reason why people grow apart.
I had the habit of standing out in the rain with a poorly constructed bonnet whenever I wanted to think about things. Said bonnet was a gift my grandmother attempted to knit. There is a gaping hole on the left side of it that made me apprehensive. But ever since I wore it, I never took it off. I remember her telling me, "Sometimes it’s the void that prevents you from being incomplete.” I never got around to fully understanding what she meant. All I knew was that I loved that holed bonnet, and I enjoyed being in the rain with just that. I never liked the rain in particular; the petrichor made me feel faint and the cold would urge me to consume cigarettes, which would later on result in some finger and knuckle rash. But whenever I could physically feel the weight of my head reach my shoulders, I knew I had to gather my thoughts, while getting soaked and risking pneumonia. I haven’t thought about Ethan in a while, up until when news of his death reached me. I never liked thinking about him, even when we were still good friends. Even in the comfort of my broken crimson bonnet, thinking about him under the rain was like seeking shelter in the eye of the storm.
He was not a tough puzzle to solve, but his pieces were crafted so ambitiously that you would think each piece had the will to shape-shift. We rarely got into arguments in the past, but we discreetly had aversive perspectives about everything which we tried to ignore over several glasses of beer. The distance between Ethan and I became so vast that I can’t remember how many years passed us by. It reminded me of a time when I tried to fly a kite. It was visible in the sky – up until I involuntary napped for a while, and the sky above me was totally different. The clouds shifted and I felt a bit shaken after realizing that my kite was nowhere in sight. Moments later, a stranger brought it back to me, saying that it got caught in a tree several blocks away, now unable for flight. I was sad. Ethan somehow resembled that kite. I knew his strengths, but it was also what broke him.
I wore my crisp new suit at his funeral. To this day, I didn’t know why he came to pass. Some said it was a heart attack, some said he tripped and hit his head. I didn’t bother clarifying and simply shrugged it off. I recognized familiar faces within the crowd. There were distant whimpering and sobs, but I still didn’t shed a tear. Everyone threw in a rose and a page with their sentiments written, upon the surface of his coffin. As it descended into the ground, the cries were getting more audible. I found Lisa standing next to me, who leaned her head against my shoulder, subtle tears soaking my suit. I didn’t mind. I had eleven other suits. I placed my arm around her and held her close. She closed her eyes and took in deep breaths, tears still rolling down her pink cheeks.
Ethan wasn’t the worst person. But he wasn’t the best either. Death is something that I cannot understand, for I do not see the answers it’s supposed to give. It feels like bringing a spark to the wick of the candle just to burn it beyond use. As the funeral came to an end, the sun gloomily descended and hid itself among the thick trees on the edge of the cemetery. It had a celebration of repose on its own. The dark skies somehow resembled the time when I first met Ethan. He was the one who gave me my broken kite back, attempting to repair it for me on the spot. I guess even if people submit themselves to you, there are certain cracks and holes that weren’t meant to be fixed.
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.