"Son, you will be a fine young man one day." Mr. Bennett dusted off the shoulders of his little boy’s new tweed jacket. He tossed the empty Harvey Nichols shopping bag on the sofa and placed his hands on his hips. A pale young face looked up at him and a smile emerged in between flushed cheeks. "Do you like it, Theodore? You look just like daddy now." His son nodded. Theo looked at himself in the mirror. He leaned a little to the right and noticed he had the same jaw as his father’s. But Mr. Bennett was handsomer. With a stubble that still made him look fresh and the light wrinkles on his forehead telling tales of the life he has lived, Theo knew his father was all he wanted to become. He knew his dad worked at a factory because he often came home with soot on his hands. But he said this year was going to be better - he was going to be promoted. Mr. Bennet gifted himself and his son a new pair of tweed jackets, while presenting a fancy box of chocolates to Mrs. Bennet. She wore a smirk as if expecting a pashmina instead, but Mr. Bennet held her close anyway and planted a kiss on her cheek.
He took a step back to look at his son again. Mr. Bennet ruffed Theo’s hair, but it still remained in its place. He broke into laughter as he held his palm out in the open. "Again, Theo? You silly boy." Theo had developed a liking towards gel after seeing those commercials on the television. Mrs. Bennet often reprimanded Mr. Bennet for having kept the gel within his reach. He almost always seem to find where they were. He once slept with gel on his hair and woke to a stiff pillow the next day. Mrs. Bennet was not pleased.
It was a fine Sunday in Consett, County Durham. The wind was cold but the trees remained sturdy. Lone newspaper pages wobbled on the curbs and the distant sound of dogs being walked reached the open windows of Theo’s room. He rested his head on his folded arms. When he didn’t play with his toys, he often stayed by the windowsill and observed people. He knew the postman came at 3pm every afternoon to slip in thin parcels onto a big red box, excepting Sundays. He knew the ambulance passed by their street at least twice a week. He knew the milkman came at 11 in the morning to hand Mrs. Bennet bottles of milk and would leave by 2 pm. He knew his father always left for work before the sun rose and would be back as the sun is setting.
Theo heard arguments from the living room. Mr. Bennet just reached home, but he didn’t visit Theo’s room with a small present like he always did. He pressed his ear against the door and heard both his parents in a heated conversation. Turning the knob of his door slowly, he tiptoed to the beginning of the stairs and listened closely.
"I can’t believe you did this, Mary. Right under my nose. Right under Theodore’s nose. Our son! Has he seen any of this? Has he seen any of it! My poor boy! Our son! My son!" Mrs. Bennet sobbed amidst the raging voice of Mr. Bennet. He heard a screech as his father pulled a chair and sat heavily on it. Mrs. Bennet was whimpering. "What? What are you trying to say, Mary? What on Heaven’s name can you possible tell me?"
"I’m sorry, Thomas! I didn’t mean any of it!" Mrs. Bennet continued crying and Mr. Bennet’s voice took over again. Theo held the handrails of the staircase tightly until his palms went white. He heard more than he should. He quietly crept back to his room and took his pillow. He held it tightly as how his eyes remained shut. Theo opened them again, now slightly red. He walked over to his bed side table. He grabbed his unfinished milk bottle and placed it in the garbage.
… . .
It was Sunday. Consett seemed gloomier when Theo last remembered it. The streets were wet and the lamp posts reflected on them. He listened closely to the way the rain pitter-pattered on his window and onto the roads. He saw people running with bags over their heads. He heard vehicles honking from a distance. The mailman didn’t arrive today. The ambulance passed by every two days. The milkman hasn’t come by in years. His father hasn’t left for work about the same time.
Theo visited his father’s room. A pale, thin man raised his head as he saw his son enter the room. "Theo.." He wheezed. Theo sat beside his father and stroked his forehead. His skin felt cold and ill. He looked around the room and was no longer surprised of the clear absence of Mrs. Bennet’s things. The coat rack that used to overflow with her coats were bare. Her mirror usually stained with lipstick was dusty and unclean. Her slippers remained untouched by the door. Theo’s eyes landed on her picture that remained by Mr. Bennet’s bedside table. Mr. Bennet coughed heavily for several minutes. Theo reached over to pass his medicine onto his shaky palm. He tossed it in his mouth and wore a displeased look. Theo held the frame that had Mrs. Bennet’s picture in it. He looked up at Mr. Bennet, expressionless. "Son. I know it’s been a long time. But we wait for the people we love. She will come back, Theo." Theo placed the frame back on his bedside table. He didn’t know what to feel about Mrs. Bennet. Or Mr. Bennet.
"I have a gift for you, son." Mr. Bennet coughed. Theo hasn’t received a present from him in the longest time. Mr. Bennet pointed under the bed. He retrieved a box beneath the thick bed sheet and told him to open the lid. In it rested an expressionless maroon teddy bear, wrapped in thin white paper. "Your mother and I used to call you Teddy when you were a baby. You used to loved teddy bears." Theo attempted a smile but placed the lid back on the box. He no longer played with toys. He kept them all away.
Theo held the box in between his arm and hip as he stood up to leave the room. But Mr. Bennet suddenly held his hand. “Son, isn’t it time for that show? Switch on the television for me, will you?”
Theo couldn’t hide his smile. He ran towards the television and clicked it open. Hopping onto Mr. Bennet’s bed, the reflection of Charlie Chaplin reflected on their identical black-pearl eyes. Theo laughed as Mr. Bennet imitated several of Chaplin’s comical movement. It has been a long while since they both watched their favourite show. The same goes for Theo’s smile. Remembering his present, he took the teddy bear out and held it close to him. Theo rested his head on Mr. Bennet’s pillow and both continued laughing. After several minutes, Mr. Bennet started to breathe uncomfortably. "Son…" he said, "I will rest for a bit. Father feels a bit unwell." Theo nodded. He held Mr. Bennet’s hand. It was cold, but it still clung tightly around his fingers. Theo continued watching with his teddy bear.
Charlie Chaplin went on for another 15 minutes. Theo laughed, almost having to turn away to catch his breath. He knew he was fidgeting a lot and it must have bothered Mr. Bennet. The show came to an end. He wondered why Mr. Bennet didn’t reprimand him for laughing too loud and for being too fidgety. He normally told Theo to keep it down.
Theo noticed Mr. Bennet’s hands were colder and limp. He looked over and saw his eyes were closed but almost open. He shook his father’s wrist first, and then his arms. With tears in his eyes, he leaned closer to hold his face. Theo knew that something always moved below his chin, a sign of life and warmth. It was gone.
… . .
Everyone wore black that Sunday. People familiar to him and strangers gathered around the casket. There were distant sobs and frequent small talk from people around him. Theo responded with a nod. Someone arrived in a white dress and a small book. They said a prayer for an hour until the people paid their respects to Mr. Bennet. Mrs. Bennet approached Theo with someone he hasn’t seen in years. "Theodore… Honey." She held her arms open to embrace Theo. He stepped away and went closer to Mr. Bennet’s casket. Her eyes were red from crying, the collar of her coat damp with her tears. The milkman grew weight from the last time he saw him. Theo winced as he held Mrs. Bennet’s hand. He watched them turn away. He felt a surge of anger rest between his chest.
A man in a loose suit approached Theo. "Theodore. Your father has left you several things in his will." Intrigued, Theo ignored everyone and sat down with Mr. Townsend. This was the only time since Mr. Bennet’s passing that anyone had anything worth knowing to tell Theo. Mr. Townsend handed a Charlie Chaplin poster, a watch, several books, an envelope with several bills and a teddy bear. Mr. Townsend said other things. They seemed important because they included the words "legal", "law", "stay elsewhere", "come of age" and "sorry". But Theo wasn’t listening. As he held the remnants of Mr. Bennet close to his body, he shut his eyes tight and waited for Mr. Townsend to move away.
Everyone wore black that Sunday except for Theo. He wore the the tweed jacket that still fit him perfectly, along with the red tie Mr. Bennet always went to work in. Everyone parted from the funeral. Theo went closer to the casket. After hours of keeping everything, he placed his head and hands on the surface and cried a silent one.
Theo felt his heart break from his chest, his entire body giving up on him. He wanted to scream. He wanted everything to end. But a kind whisper cooed at him. It came from the ground. Teddy looked up at him with a gentle smile on his face. Theo picked him up and they both kept Mr. Bennet company for a little while longer.
Teddy (Mr Bean’s backstory)
Her skin felt like it was lit up by fire. I held her close and cried silently as I looked upon her pale face. The previous nights, she was stricken with a very high fever. Confined at the hospital for a few days, I barely slept as I chose to watch her at all times. Witnessing a little girl at the age of six suffer weakened my heart. I recall holding her close and rocking her in my arms when I could. The medicines finally kicked in and I was glad to see her eyes rid of pain. Colour was back on her soft cheeks. She was back home.
"It’s alright now mom", she crooned. “You didn’t have to cry you know. You didn’t have the fever.” Putting her hair into a braid, I whispered, “Pain happens when we see the ones we love have a difficult time, my love.” She nodded in agreement but continued to question me.
"How does it feel like," she asked, “The pain. You didn’t have a fever. But I saw it in your eyes” I took a moment to process her question. How could I describe how empathetic pain felt like to a six-year-old?
"I’m guessing honey," I started, "It would feel like… Let’s say you have a drawing you did in art class. You drew a pretty unicorn on it, with your favorite flowers and all. But someone suddenly came up to you and scribbled on your masterpiece." I saw her wince and I chuckled. "It’s just an example, honey. It only means that we usually become a part of what we do."
"But I’m no drawing. I’m your baby. I’m human, see. My teeth." She sunk her baby teeth playfully onto my arm. I giggled and said, “Now that is real pain. My daughter is half dinosaur, I think.” “Rarrrr!”, she cried out.
I took another moment to give her an explanation. “Okay, how about this,” I started again, "Let’s say we got you a puppy. And you named him Rover. Rover is a cute little puppy and you love him dearly. But one day, he suddenly got lost. What would you have done?" She stood up with a worried look on her face and placed her hands on my shoulders. "Poor puppy, mommy. I would look for him. But I think I would cry first." I stroked my daughter’s face and shushed her. It looked like she was about to cry over a fictional puppy.
"So what did you feel?" I asked again. She pursed her lips and replied, "I felt sad. I think I would have loved the puppy. The puppy is mine. He shouldn’t be lost. I’m sure he would be looking for me too."
I nodded. "That’s how it felt like for me the other night, my love. You were like the most precious painting I could have ever done, but something or someone tried to spoil it. You’re more precious than a puppy, but seeing you in pain made me wish it was me instead." She hummed.
"It’s confusing," she giggled. "But it’s okay. I would have cried too if you ever got sick too. So don’t get sick, mom. I forbid you to be sick." I laughed at my daughter.
"Mommy won’t be sick," I kissed her on her forehead. "I still need to come up with better stories to tell you, my love."
I waited by the sea. That was where we first met.
With hair all over my face, he came over to ask for my name, asking if it was my book that I dropped on the sand. I nodded. It was our favourite book. He went on length about the author and the significant parts of the book. I nodded enthusiastically, even if I only bought the book the day before.
We spoke of sunsets and how it was a beautiful introduction to the night. The night was black and full of dusty stars that pranced around each other. The breeze tickled spines and sent invisible spiders crawling upon skin, yet I enjoyed every shiver. He told me of tales when he won chess tournaments. Rubbing my arms as we rested on the sand, he told me it was in the tournament when he felt like he was a king. He won more than he lost, yet he took his losses as a symbol of advancement. He said in winning, nothing is gained. But when you lose, mistakes are highlighted and that is where scrutinisation comes in. He pressed me closer to his body and had my arms wrapped around my shoulders. I could smell the scent of his skin and hair. Leaning backward and gently nudging his cheek, I continued listening to his stories as he opened a chapter of how he got to learning the violin.
With hair all over my face, I drew on the sand as I waited for him. He was supposed to be here an hour ago. My watch has grown tired and refuses to move. The sun was almost gone and the moon was shyly presenting itself in between the clouds. The sea was calmer tonight, but the waves danced like younglings taking a swim for the first time. They crashed upon the shore, attempting to drown the distant vehicular notions with their songs. The lighthouses in a distance started to signal to each other. They reminded me of christmas lights. It was a beautiful sight to see. But I felt cold without his presence. The moon and stars are finally out. He is still absent.
I continued to wait by the majestic sea. The sea continued to wait with me.
I was eight when my grandfather took me in for the summer. The fields of green were too pure for my sight as the sun shone bright and high up in the sky. I took off my sandals and ran through the gravel and sand to greet my grandmother. She held me close before inviting me into her kitchen with freshly baked batches of cookies. My grandfather would breathe heavily on his rocking chair before he’d take me to the field with him. My boy, he would wheez, today we will be planting bananas. I gobbled up as much cookies as I could and raced to the door. He laughed at my enthusiasm. He slowly walked towards me and held my chin as he pressed the lips of the glass upon mine. Drink up, he said, today is a hot summer’s day. The water trickled from my mouth down my neck and I giggled.
We carried on for several blocks and sweat beads were gathering on my forehead and upper lip. Grandpa, I asked and held out my hand. What my child, he replied. I extended my open palm closer and motioned for seeds. Don’t we have seeds for growing bananas, grandpa?, I asked in all my innocence. Grandfather guffawed into the gentle summer breeze and rubbed his fist upon my scalp. Child, he said, we are gathering a bark from somewhere down the road before we plant it. I rushed to his side and continued walking next to him.
I couldn’t remember if we ever did get to plant those bananas. All I could recall was the pain that struck me as I carried the corm bark between both of my shoulders. My grandfather knew I was bound to abandon the idea of planting anything and proceed to engaging myself in activities that wasn’t as feasible in the city. I had my kite strapped to my back the entire time. A wire bent due to the weight of the corm bark but I was able to restore it. While my grandfather disappeared in one of the sheds, he left me in the fields as I flew my red kite up in the powder blue skies.
The plastic on my kite hit against the wood and wire furiously as the wind danced with it. I noticed heads from the nearby houses peer from their windows at the noise. They shook their head but smiled - They knew that I was my grandfather’s boy and that I was back to annoy everyone with my kite.
When my arms grew tired, I would crawl my way around the fields and trees with an empty jar in hand. I was always fascinated with insects and that day, I was hoping it would rain. The rain brought out my favorite type of beetle, the ones that seem to be coated in gold - Gold-coated beetles that were brought out of their homes because of the damp grounds and petrichor. My grandfather called out to me and said it was time to plant bananas. I told him that it’s a pass for me this time. I heard him chuckle coarsely and set the corm bark several steps away from the shed.
I sit here today in front of my porcelain white desks, juggling two giant monitors in an IT centre that I now call my own. The summers spent in the town my grandparents called home was a memory I keep coming back to. My kite didn’t survive that summer and all I had left were its mangled pieces. One of its pieces rests at my desk in front of me. Like a fruit to its bark, I knew I would flourish best from the city. It was where I was meant to bloom. Despite the white-washed walls and shiny gadgetry that is programmed to be the solution to every being’s beck and all, the simplicity of the town is an experience money can ever replace. Sometimes, I wished I had enough money to relive that memory.
I Feel Beautiful
He caressed my hand in silence, his fingers gliding through mine. I imagined that if comfort had a sound, it would be his silence. Even in those moments when our warmths embraced each other, the existence of the cold was a significant component to our strengths. We were frail, but we held each others bits and pieces. Sometimes, I’d feel like I’m sawdust. He told me that was how he felt whenever he saw me. I liked using the warmth of his skin as if it were a cloak upon my own. It felt as if the sun gave birth to the happiest children and they took the form of invisible things that suddenly made you feel as if everything will be okay. He makes me weak in the knees, but he makes me strong. It was once said that "A life unexamined is one not worth living". It is always beautiful being a witness to the unfolding of something from a person or moment. It is also beautiful being caught unexpectedly in an unfolding of your own. He helps me everyday, even in the littlest ways. He taught me that in just being, the life that is worth living examines you in return. I feel beautiful, because he’s beautiful.
The humidity made the windows of every shop in the city square cry amidst the moist. Passers-by dragged the back of their hand across their forehead as the rushing of vehicles drowned their blurted profanity. It was eight ‘o’ clock on the dot. Everywhere continued to teem of steam like a vast open sauna. The moon was almost full. It seemed exasperated in the warmly damped sky. Or my judgement was made due to utmost discomfort from perspiration.
I sat outside the cafe to accompany friends who went for a smoke. I allowed my mind to drift off like the vapour that rose from their pursed lips. The city was beautiful - but only if you watched it from a screen, in the comfort of your own home. Being in the scene itself is voluntary torture. The weather is too warm. It allows one to witness their fats crying out of their skin. Despite wearing summer clothing, I furiously tried to fan myself with my wide palm. I was desperate for the rush of air. Most of all, I was getting impatient with time. I wanted to see him already.
Time came and went. Lights were slowly leaving the city square, allowing shadows to emerge until it formed a giant blanket of black on the concrete. Cigarette butts laid on the trays. Traces of ash on the rim were being toyed with by the momentary gush of warm winds. My acquaintances have left. I was left alone with the almost-full moon that resembled a massive uncooked pancake.
He arrived with a smile, eager to hold me in his arms. I wanted to respond a similar reaction but I felt the muscles on my face stay in its place. As we walked to the car, I resumed fanning my face with my hand. The entire ride back home was silent. Every now and then, he would brush his hand across my arm. I could feel him and his hurtful stare scanning my face for a clue of what’s going on.
I wanted to stroke the back of his hair like I always did. I wanted to hold his hand as it rested on the shift knob. I wanted to look him in the eye and melt mid-gaze. But I remained in my seat, expressionless and mute.
Almost every stoplight we approached was on the red. I knew he particularly liked that because it prolonged him from dropping me home. But I didn’t feel anything as we took the several stops by the stoplights. I aimlessly looked outside the window, shifting my focus from blurred buildings to faceless strangers walking at the side of the streets. I felt the cold knot in my chest tightened. I chose to ignore it.
The night came to a close but my quiet longing only got stronger. The icy sadness that rested in between my throat and chest led to making my eyes moist. I got out of his car with my head bowed down, dragging my feet until it reached the doormat. I wished I stayed a little longer. I wished I was strong enough to admit that in all my coldness, all I needed was his warmth.
My dreams taste like sugary snowflakes. They melt upon my excited taste buds, the sensation being a thousand tiny feet skipping on my tongue. But the fear I’ve always had creeps up on me from my ankles to my spine, like determined vines aimed to suffocate me from my breaths. It is like the relationship I have with the waters. I am in love with the sea, but I am afraid of it. Its cold surface entices my body to immerse itself in it, but my toes are always frantic to remain on the ground. The skies are blue, titanic and almost endless. I wish to fly, but I have no wings. Sometimes, I tell myself, it’s okay to have feathers than to have wings. At least I can dip those in ink and write on paper, taking flight through words, soaring to souls who feel the same frustrations as I do. Sometimes, instead of feeling I can do so much more, I feel as if I’m engaged to doing less. It is about perspective, I know this. But I am either overpowered by the weakness in my heart or clouded with skepticism in my mind. Hard work pays off even if sometimes in exchange for thrusting yourself off of a cannon, you get a piece of chocolate in return. Sometimes, even if you sweat blood, tears, or even the steak dinner you had last night off of your exhausted skin, the gratification of achievement makes you feel like you’re King. I rush for progress and success, praying it comes in like a big oversized slushie cup that I will swallow in one go. But life isn’t like that. It hands you a small straw, with its hole smaller than your nostril. It’s just about right; Discipline and thankfulness controls the aggression from within. Even if my impatience gets the better of me at times, I eventually cool off and sit down to enjoy the tiny sips I get from my slushie cup. Turns out that with every sip, I savoured it all the more, knowing that I deserved every bit of it.
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.
This, My Friend, Is For You
I remember witnessing the same grey sky under your umbrella. We were broken with sadness as we watched the other “special” people with their smiles and happy colors. I twisted my arm with yours, took your scent in and cried as I wept. My sharp edges kept giving me cuts in places I cannot dab with cures. I was told of stories, both whispered from land and sea, that everything will be okay. But the closest I got to “okay” was drifting off to dream. Like a cannon ball shot to the sky, the smoke blurred us from the clarity or cruelty against fragility. I held you close as your flesh shook from the cold. I held you tighter to chase away the wintry feel in your bones. Our eyes were deep-set and darkened from worry. We always slept but when we opened our eyes, they resembled disturbed, contaminated waters. I lived strangely, while you preferred to be buried in halls nobody knew of. I held your hand tightly and kept it against my chest. I knew that one day you will fade like the clear clouds on a Sunday evening. All I could see were patches of black and gray. I wobble, as I stand where both our soles once marked the ground. I’m not the same anymore. My face got back its color. It’s no longer deep-set, but my eyes mirror our days that once was. I close my eyes and beseech to the gods. If there are any, may they defrost the chills that prison his heart. May he be in a happier place with clearer skies. I raise a toast to those dark days for in those moments, having you by my side was the brightest I’ve ever been. I know you are elsewhere and happier too. This meager whisper into the changing winds, my friend, is for you.
I once knew of a man who knew everything. He learned how planes flew, why mice had pink on their feet and why compasses pointed North. He knew everything and to him, learning was breathing. But there was a void inside of him that nobody knew about. It was a certain portion of space that was always left hanging. He wished he didn’t know so much so he wouldn’t focus all the more on the emptiness. As his knowledge grew, he became lonelier and craved for answers he will never have. I last saw him slumped at a corner down the road, chanting to himself, "I would trade all this knowledge for the ignorance of a past I cannot remember."
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.
I sliced an apple into 6 equal parts and rested them onto a porcelain plate. Mother told me to never use them unless the Queen came over to have a slice of cake with us. I wasn’t quite sure if it was true that Mother and the Queen were pen pals. But the scare of that in the past few years was slowly wearing off. Just like the several times I have disobeyed her, I unearthed a porcelain plate and placed it on the center of our tea table. I sat for several hours and watched the 6 equally cut apple pieces turn from blush, to shades of beige and brown. I could trace the veins of the fruit with my finger. I took a whiff of a slice before grazing it against my wrist. I smelled it again - this time, from my wrist. It smelled good. I dabbed a finger on the spot where the apple slice came into contact with my skin. It felt sticky. I licked my wrist and giggled as I got tickled. I placed the apple slice back onto the plate, continuing to watch them in silence.
My brother came in through the door. He shot through the living room like a twister. He grabbed an apple slice and descended it into his agape mouth. I screamed as loud as I can. His eyes widened and stood in his place. I continued to scream until I could feel the veins in my forehead appear. I still didn’t pause. My scream passed its 15 second-mark. Mother came frantic into the room, demanding answers from my brother. He told her that he ate 1 of my 6 apple pieces. I was already crying and still screaming. I couldn’t stop. I screamed even as Mother covered my mouth with her Clorox-scented palm. I hated the smell of Clorox. I wanted to stop but I kept going. Drool oozed from my mouth. Snot rested on my upper lip. From my reflection on the kitchen mirror, I could see that I was red as a beetroot. I couldn’t breathe properly. Mother called Father. She said he was on his way.
Father came in with an ambulance. My brother held his knees as he hid under the table. I could hear him crying. Paramedics were carrying me onto a bed as I continued to scream. I was trying to squirm away from their grip. Mother tried to whisper soothing things into my ear. It didn’t work. I could hear and see my heartbeat. There were spots wherever I looked. When we reached our front porch, it wasn’t an ambulance that was parked in our driveway. I couldn’t tell what was written, but I read something that was on one of the medics’ uniform. It said “Psychiatric Ward”.
I continued to scream even when my voice was almost gone. I started hitting everyone that I saw. My hair was all over my face. I was made to wear a jacket where my arms couldn’t move. It felt coarse on my skin. I was told to lie down on the bed. Mother and Father sat next to me as the vehicle drove away. Mother was crying. Father was comforting her. I could see us getting farther away from our house, our front porch, our driveway. My brother was left alone in the house. With the remaining untouched 5 pieces of apple slices. The thought made me scream harder.
The Way You Look Tonight
A child from our neighborhood woke me up this morning. I was lying down outside my house, flat on my stomach. Beer breath oozed from my mouth. Drool was dried up on my chin. The child poked at my face with a stick and I woke with a yell. I shouted at him before he ran to his mother. She looked at me with a grieve expression before holding her son’s hand and pushing the trolley in front of her.
I tried to get up, but the pain in my joints and muscles stung. I cursed out loud, until a few other heads popped out from windows and doors to look at me. I flipped them the finger as I limped my way to my house. Fumbling for keys in my pockets, I blinked rapidly and tried to focus my vision.
The fridge was empty and the cat has given up asking me for food. The couch was disarrayed with food leftovers. Cockroaches took comfort in them and I let them. I looked at my reflection from the glass cabinet that once belonged to my wife. My stubble has made me look filthy and homeless. She always liked my face clean. I can still recall her soft hands cup my face as I lean in for a kiss. Her sweet scent remains around the house. I am left distressed. Grabbing a bottle of whiskey by the counter, I took a swig and dropped to the floor.
I miss her everyday. I’ve lost count of the days since she has passed. She used to do my laundry and do something to it that made them emerge as the softest things to wear. Breakfast would always be ready and she’d make smiley faces out of eggs, bacon and tomato bits. When I would oversleep due to tiredness, I’d find her slip in with me. Her arms would wrap themselves around me from behind and she would kiss my nape. She’d stroke my hair and say that it was okay to stay home. I was her home, she said. We would stay in bed all day, her warmth healing every pain I’ve ever felt.
There’s loud knocking on the door. In the sea of voices, there was a familiar one. I’ve misplaced my phone and didn’t bother looking for it. Friends and relatives are probably trying to reach me. I’ve abandoned my job and took refuge at the bar five blocks from here. I approached the door and clicked the two other locks shut and proceeded to my basement. I slammed its door behind me, drowning out their noise.
I sat on her favorite sofa. This was where we watched our favorite movies. She would always have her knees up to her chest, her toes curled in as she focused on the film. She wasn’t a fan of horror films, but she only agreed to watch them if I held her close enough that she could hear my breaths. The basement was our favorite part of the house. It was away from bright lights and people. The sole bulb in the middle of the ceiling allowed us to trace each other’s facial shadows. This was where I asked her to dance with me to a Sinatra soundtrack. She saw me cry that night and she kissed my tears away. I kissed her and tasted my salty tears from her lips.
Slumped on the floor, my back rested on the edge of the sofa. I patted the spot where her body’s imprint was. I found myself closing my eyes tightly shut and calling out her name. I clawed at the floor, hitting my forehead against it. I wanted her near again. I wanted to smell her, kiss her and succumb to the fires of her skin. I wanted to hear her voice. The only sound that made me calm. I wanted her back. I’ve lost her for good. The gods have forsaken every prayer I have offered them. There is no god. My pleas were left unheard. The winds have carried my woes until they’ve vanished to oblivion.
The pounding at the front door got louder. People found their way inside the house. I heard footsteps across the living room and ones approaching the basement entry. My brother slammed the basement door open and ran towards me. My body was on the floor, just as how the child this morning had found me. I cried silently as I was lifted up to the sofa. I closed my eyes and refused to look at anyone. I have lost my wife. I have lost purpose. In losing her, I have lost myself completely. It was meant to be that way or nothing else at all.
I love how the twinkle in your eye resembles the tranquil surfaces of a lake mirroring the gloss of the moon. I love how the sun appears to descend in between your flushed lips, like two rose petals enveloping an orb between each other. I feel a fragment of the universe settle itself inside me whenever our lips touch. If I were to explode, it would be the most beautiful way to be broken for eternity, the most beautiful way to go.
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.