Your Hand In Mine
The beach was dimly lit. The lights that came from a distance felt like Christmas decor that should have been long taken down. I looked up and saw the stars gradually enter the scene. They looked like clusters of grain, like opaque light that hung from the sky.
I looked to my right and saw a dock. There were machines that stretched up to 40 feet. Merely looking at it left me a dizzy. I couldn’t imagine myself manning such heavy equipment at frightening altitude. But the view from up there must be breath-taking. Whoever took the evening shift that night had the best view. He could probably see people strolling down the beach like ants, watching the balletic sea careen towards the shore and back.
I looked to my left and saw a few silhouettes. I could hear laughter, but it was drowned out by the singing of the seas. The sudden waves sometimes felt like a wardrobe crashing its way down a staircase. It would then dissolve into a gentle fizzing sound as it creeps towards the shore again.
I went closer and felt the remnants of what was once a giant wave kiss my excited toes. I took a deep breath and felt my lungs jolt in sheer joy. The beach was deserted. I felt a certain kind of peace descend upon my tired mind and chest. I embraced it like it was a raft navigating me away from a persistent storm.
The sand was cold. My toes played with it. I felt small pebbles and shells from the soles of my feet. It didn’t hurt. But I liked the way its slightly sharp edges attempted to prick me. I sat on the cold sand and leaned upon a shoulder. He smelled like a meadow. I took a whiff of him and felt the hint of really good fabric softener. He barely spoke to me as I took in the magnificent beauty of the beach that night. But his presence felt like a security blanket. He held my hand in his and let me absorb my surroundings. I felt like a tired sponge. But I had enough spirit to consume this ephemeral truce with existence.
Leaning closer, I felt his innocent warmth complement the wintry breaths of the sea. It enveloped us. We allowed it. I closed my eyes and took another deep breath. I could feel a piece of the sea waltz with my feeble bones. My thrilled heart drummed against my chest. I was in between a beautiful moment and a beautiful soul. I held hands with both. Just like the salts and secrets of the sea, we became one.
It would be silly to deny the inventions of happy little winged things. They flutter around my head since we met. They resemble tiny musical notes dipped in gold. Sometimes I’d hear your voice. It would paint the floors of my mind with the prettiest sights.
If my mind were a tree, birds that have come to rest upon my branches brought with them the sweetest scented petals. Your whiff is strong like the ways of the wind, prevailing like the impact of an aged anchor.
My pillars crumble and my fears weigh me down. You are every weakness. But your gentle gaze blanket with me with strength to face everything else. Feeling you near leaves me floating. Your iridescence dissolves me.
You’re a lighthouse in the midst of unstable waters. You are the sole candle in a slumbering city. I like to watch you in your stillness. I like watching you watch me in your stillness. In our melodic quiet, my mind reaches majestic heights.
When your hand is in mine, I feel my feet lift off the ground. My dearest dose of warmth, how you sing to me. My lungs hurt. I think I am about to cough out stars.
Always be here. Always be near. In all this silence and solitude, I hold you dear.
I feel a little swallowed into the sea. My skin feels dry, but I take you in, breathing rapidly until my lungs ache. I am shaken as my bones wear me thin. If only I could hide the terrible notions of flowers in my hair, I would. If only I could tame my blood from the mere sight of what makes my heart drum against my chest rapidly, and slowly, and then altogether, I would. If only I could write it all down perfectly from the time my soul soared through your cerulean skies to this point when I’m as high as the perpetual moon, I would. But not even that could justify the song that you’ve left to play within my veins. We feel like a hundred houses apart, but like melody is to purpose, you belong with me. I am a thousand reasons to be left astray, but my demons are willing to play with yours. If it’s something you’d allow.
"Her voice rang like piano keys up and down my spine. Her skin smelled better than roses, giving flowers a run for their purpose. She was both light and dark to the shadows I keep. I feared being around her presence, but the sight of her encouraged symphonies to fill my head. Everything around us turned into an immediate orchestra. The breeze played with her hair. I squinted to tame the glow that surrounded her. She is lethal and I am drunk on her hungry, tired soul. What was once an untouched guitar were now strings that played beautiful music. I close my eyes and tapped my hand upon my chest to the rhythm of my fast beat. My lungs hurt from the excitement. My heart aches, but she makes my bones dance in time with hers. I’ve built my home inside her mind. There I know, I am in eternal warmth. There I know, I am hers to ruin and keep. Until forever tires."
Somebody told me that it was important to understand ourselves before we could attempt to understand others. I think I’ve lived my life by inhaling fabricated truths enough to blend my coffee breaths with it. Words didn’t break me like how sticks and stones could, but at times it could be fate worse than a regretted tattoo - a permanent scar under the skin, visible to nobody but your own. I think it’s magical to witness when two people are able to exchange their tales, or better yet take their hidden demons out on a play-date. The world functions through norms and wrecks itself in its pursuit, but just like the unnoticed rising and setting of the sun, something so common and ignored actually adds up to why we’re here. Certain anxieties like bullet holes to a steel-plated wall reverberate voices that sound like your own but aren’t. They can keep you up at night, until it steals you off the hours of the day that should have been a brand new page on your disheveled book. But we can never control the shadows that lurk and sequester themselves in corners we’ve involuntary crafted through time. I wish I could keep count or validate which of the connections I’ve made in the past and still have will make sense tomorrow. It is a fright to embrace here and now, because even as the clock strikes the next day, here and now only means being stuck in the moment that will eventually fade. I look way ahead until the disillusion of an abyss frightens me. But I’d rather look ahead than to tame my walls for what’s in these moments. Moments are fleeting, but the verity of their power to destroy is what will always remain. Various truths and acceptance come with terms and conditions that won’t always agree with us. It’s like forcing a sack of new truths into a peanut-sized hole that is our mind. Our minds are like caves - some have open doors, some require some sort of password. Their existence is known to us, and by some. But whatever lurks inside is a mystery, a risk that nobody dare takes. I think it’s a wonderful thing to witness two broken creatures in unison, than to resolve to acceptance just for the sake of. There’s always something beautiful in broken things,especially when they’re the two pieces that equate to a whole.
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 was subtle and sweet with barely a line of her story visible on her face. Her skin lit up as if she stole a piece of the sun, with her gentle stride resembling the moon’s subtle glow. It was only her pink cheeks that made her look a little like the rest of us - she would have resembled a mythical creature. She was a dose of your favorite cookie, and you had to lick the side of your lips to make sure no crumbs were left. Her whisper and delicate giggle was like bathing your mind in a crystal clear stream. She was a tall glass of the sweetest water, inebriation beyond antidote.
I think we were our best selves when we were just strangers.
I met you at a playground while visiting a relative. I was 12, and you were 13. Family gatherings weren’t my thing. I used to sit on a swing and draw images on the sand with my shoes. I was keeping to myself up until you came up to me out of nowhere and showed me a page. There laid on the center of the page was a triangle - and you asked me what I thought of it. I said it was a triangle. You said no. You said it was a portal to a different world. I nodded and agreed. You then explained for the next 23 minutes why that triangle was a portal, and how most of your shirts had prisms in them. Right then and there, I knew your difference from everyone else would always stay with me.
Visiting my aunt was finally something I looked forward to. You lived next door to her and you were always ready to show me new diagrams you made. You didn’t use crayons or color pencils. You used a lone, black marker and never drew more than one object on a plain sheet. I then realized that minimalism was your style. You repainted your room and had almost everything in brown, except one side of the wall. You said the brown of your room reflected your love for warm colors, yet the white space was something the universe could tamper with. You were hoping for a portal. You said you believed in portals - portals that will take us to a different dimension, yet one that won’t feel strange or misplacing. You always hoped to be sucked in into a wormhole that is cluttered with your ideals and desires. I smiled and thought that if that were to come true, I hope this world’s gravity lets go of me.
You taught me a lot of things. I never did anything good in particular, but I did make a simple but good batch of cookies whenever I came over to my aunt’s. You always ate them only when there was a glass of milk to have. You said the taste of my cookies were probably what stars would taste like. I smiled and knew that not even the stars can define how this friendship has left me bright.
Just like every young heart’s fear, years happened and took away even the most familiar of things. You grew up and forgot about your portal. You found friends that had similar shirts with prisms on them, but they never really got you. We barely talked and space took advantage of the silence, like a tiny rip leading to a big tear. Seldom talks led to not talking completely, until I sat on the swing I used to and cried a little about it.
I can still remember the day you showed me that page where you did the triangle. I have it tucked in inside my wallet still. It’s crazy how time flies and how it teleports when its drunk. I feel a sadness in my chest that I cannot grasp fully, like a dying light begging for a voice. The truth is you’re out there, but beyond reach. Yet looking back, the gentle moments of innocence and thirst for adventure are enough to make my wrists weak with wistfulness.
I think we were our best selves when we were just strangers. And it will always will be the moment I wish I had a portal for.
Most of the time we give more than what we can, and feel things more than what we can handle. Exhaustion is a state of mind so strong that it can affect your body. Sometimes, certain decisions we have to make makes us physically ache. But we know deep down that it’s the right thing to do. Greg told me one time, "You say you’re tired of people. Then why is it you still put them first before your own happiness?" Our expectations of people are directly proportional towards the severity of our feelings for them; the more we love, the more we expect. The more we expect, the more we hurt. Distance and time apart from attachment may be a long-term cure for the injuries that are self-inflicted. Time to think that over-thinking should be given a break is like a siesta to the soul that has been sleepless for decades. I often feel like an old tree swaying to the rapid winds that take over the evening. I have no choice but to let several leaves float beyond my reach, and for branches to lean closer to the direction that leads them farther from me. But it is a way of life. Change is inevitable. People grow up, and grow older. Companionship and relationships err through time and if a few remain untainted, bless you for having the good fortune of keeping them. More often than not, I know that I am an anxious and overly-attached individual despite my capabilities of bringing forth the world upon the feet of those I love. But it is only because I grab my worth from the genuine eyes that look upon me, and hold dear the warmth of hugs of those who are my world. If I keep up being this way, all I ever will be is a mass of feels that will break and regenerate once they are in need of me. It requires constant breakage and that slightly scares me. But if this is my fate, I have my whole existence ahead of me to outdo myself every time.
A Little Bit Of Okay
People drift apart in ways that are beyond our control. I told him that. I knew that my capacity to love and keep people would eventually break me. I pushed everyone away, and even him at times, because the absence and lack of living up to my expectations would turn me into the monster. It took me years to tame that monster. It was like dying in a pit of blackness that I created for myself. I am my worst battle, my worst enemy. As long as I possess will-power, the capacity to fear and tremble in its presence will remain. The mind is a scary place to be alone in. I can still feel the scars of the past days, months and years. Although they are no longer visible, I use my words, in hopes of pointing my scars to someone who really cares, despite my coarse and hoarse exterior. After hours of explaining experiences that I still cannot fully grasp, he looked at me warmly and simply nodded; his presence being all the comfort needed for me to feel a little bit of okay.
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.
The movement of pencil and paper was soothing to her, but she paused for a while and watched the clouds gradually move across the lavender sky. Her eyes drooped, her cheeks felt heavy and her smile was tucked away for the night. But her breaths were in time with the lights that slowly started to appear from below, from four floors up. The office was deserted. The last pair of shoes shuffled across the floor and left with the sound of a loud thud from the door. She took off her high-heeled boots and moved her toes, feeling the air it was deprived of for eight hours and counting. She continued to look out the window, and the remnants of the setting sun were no longer in sight. Stars were starting to appear from the far-right corner of the sky. A child from below pointed at the sky as he tugged on his mother’s skirt. It was a moment that happened everyday yet the sunset was a beautiful, majestic miracle from the universe. It was bound to happen, yet the colors of the sky or the shape of the clouds weren’t predictable. The mystery of its formation was intriguing and she always looked forward to its time of the day. No matter how busy she was at her desk, she ignored the piles of paper to embrace the moment. She took a deep breath and took in the panoramic hue of the day’s curtain-close as it solemnly welcomed slumber.
There was a faint mist of smoke that kept his shoulder warm as he crossed the street. If his mind had eyes, they would be cross-eyed with the cloud of chaos that twinkled with every breath. The trees swayed in a manner that made him remember something, but like a weak wick carrying a flame, it disappeared into oblivion. He couldn’t shake the throbbing in his wrists for several nights before she left for good, or the pressure of painting walls that were disappearing as the rain bathed its surface. He took deep, heavy breaths and stared wistfully at the moon, as if it now. It may have been her grip was the only dame that truly caressed the genuine story of his visible scars.
"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.
That Guy On Buchanan Street
It felt like he had the hands and fingers of multiple feathers that drummed against the surface of his guitar. But the way he compensated for percussion spoke of a striking force of a thousand strong men in those lapsing thumps and thrums. He was surrounded by a few individuals who had their phones out, taking a video of him as he ran through the frets and in between the strings to the awe of the rest of us. His bowler hat rested casually on the roof of his jet-black hair, complimenting the rest of his easy ensemble that made the gentle cuts on his biceps noticeable. I shifted my look onto the way the lights around him delicately bounced off the glossy finish of his guitar and his blushing porcelain-white skin. The rhythms he produced shunned out the rest of the noise that issued from passing vehicles, distant conversations and the faint bustling of people from the mall nearby. There were a lot of distractions as his soft but striking cadence pirouetted in the air. I didn’t know who he was, but everything to be known and should be known was in that moment; he was set free in time with his melodies, elegiacally beautiful in his mesmerizing muteness.