Tag Archives: short story

Justice

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Robert Braxton anticipates the day like a newborn child coming into the world. He is aware that the only reason a crime extraordinaire like him would be persecuted on a pretty theft charge is simply the government can’t gather evidence on the larger crimes. Emma Poloski is his wet dream of all the district attorneys, not because she was the best in all of Chicago, but because he off-ed her little brother fourteen years ago.

 

Robert sits in his chair biting on the tips of his fingernails from anticipation and longing. As Emma strolls through the courtroom, the chattering of the jury members ceases. They sense her presence and she demands their attention without a single word. Her voice enters the spacious room and echoes off the ceiling. Robert searches in the depths of her emerald eyes for some sorrow, but he receives nothing. The usual determination the prosecuted face isn’t even present in her eyes. Her hair is down atop her head in a rigid bun, the black suit with a navy blue under top, and her flat shoes show a strong female, in a male dominated field.

 

Emma Poloski calls Robert to the stand. He tries to remain calm walking to the stand, but his stroll appears like a giddy, gallop instead. He didn’t care they would lock him up a pair of years. Quite frankly, the sentence seems like a reward compared to the sentence of life they should’ve given him for the death of Adam Poloski or the numerous drug deals he organizes and leads across the town. More over, Robert wants a reaction. Poloski fiddles around with some questions beating around the bush to the petty crime. She is agitated that the office even assigned her such a case. Her eyes show no recognition to the man in front of her and he is disappointed. He thinks to himself: “I killed your little brother, damn. How can you be so intelligent to lockup so many of my men and you can’t notice the king right in front of you?” Her strategic questions are just frustrated attempts to get the information. They lacked the drive and luster of her previous cases and Poloski really didn’t care to waste her time on such a case. She had made it obvious to her higher ups, but they didn’t seem to really pay much heed to her advice.

 

Emma knows any hardened criminal has a solid alibi. She leans over the stand trying to seem intimidating and says: “At the time of 2:03 am on the day of December 13th, who were you with?” Braxton exhales and rolls his eyes, because he realizes the case is a waste of their time and it is blown. He anticipated an emotional breakdown for nothing. As Emma winks coyly in his direction, he is enticed. “Is Emma Poloski trying to seduce me by blowing the case?” he thinks to himself confusedly, but quickly ignores the notion.

 

When Emma hears the verdict, she anticipated it. Climbing into her car, she inhales and follows Braxton. Braxton is knowledgeable, but he wasn’t against being followed. His men can easily defend him against a dainty, little female. She can dress, think, and work like a man, but she’ll never measure up. Clearly, she can’t even recognize the man who murdered Adam. Emma isn’t hiding her tailgating adventure and hops out of the car at the same instant.

 

She follows him to the porch. Her hands remove the hair tie concealing the true length of her hair. Her dark, chestnut brown locks flow to her shoulders messily and her emerald green eyes are enticing. She removes the black suit jacket and unbuttons her navy, blue top. “She’s sure not the little girl, she used to be.” Braxton thinks. He runs her fingers through her dark, distinguished hair.

 

            One of his men enters the room. Braxton looks sharply in his direction. He can see the look on the man’s face. His men are aware of his violent outrages and they don’t experiment to find out the breaking point, especially not with his lustful desires of women. Poloski submissively looks into his eyes like a doll. Her dominance fades into the background. He rips her shirt off hungrily and eagerly ready.

 

Carefully, Robert pulls her towards him and kisses her twirling her tongue around inside his mouth. She breathes into his ear and slowly kisses his neck as she reaches into her pocket grabbing a poisoned dart. Emma looks into his eyes and whispers: “Two years isn’t justice, life for a life. You should’ve known Emma Poloski is never dominated.” He gasps for air dramatically for a few moments and Emma Poloski leaves a picture of Adam and her business card in his hand.  She removes her shirt fiercely: “Is this what you wanted to see?”

 

Leaving the building,  the air breezed against her bare back and her breasts were a sense of pride and not shame. She stands facing the drizzling clouds. Instead of racing to the car, she stands abruptly until she hears a man exit the home. “You can never dominate my world.”: Emma declares. The poison was released from her kiss as well as the dart. She falls to the ground, before the trigger is even poured, and she vomits on the driveway.

 

Her body doesn’t want to accept the poison, but Emma Poloski decided what will happen in her life, even at death.

The Moss

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Without eyesight, the world enriches itself in so many other ways. It shouts from the ground and the wind whispers in one’s ear. I love the vibrations hidden within music few can welcome into their eyes. They waltze on by in a symphony composed within their minds because they can visualize it. But, do they truly see it? If they ignore, the grass beneath their feet because they’d rather just see it and walk on by. If they can feel it, then they truly are connected allowing that brief moment to grace their neurons and reach their being.  I’ll walk on out to the tree. I name it, Akash. Akash for open sky. It reminds me of an open sky even though it engulfs it. I can feel the intertwining roots that come in and out of the earth. The varieties of textures feel so wonderful. The moss against the dirt and the dirt against the rocks and it all against the bark of the tree root. All of it connected and okay with feeling and relying upon the next in perfect unison.

“Honk, honk.”, the taxi interrupts my thought.
My mom sends me off in a taxicab every morning off to school. I count the amount of steps to the cab and go within its passenger seat. Usually, to find some overtly, unattached driver that welcomes me or allows me to enter into the car. One, two, three……106 done. “Hello, how are you?”, I question the driver. He brushes off my questions, occasionally that happens. It’s rather off-putting. But, they say you get used to it. I wonder when that day will arrive.
The musky, old man cologne encircles the back seat coating my nose thickly. I feel the side of the cab for the window’s handle and bam, got it against the velvet a plastic handle. I twist and twist wanting some fresh air. Finally, freedom.

“Little girl, what’s your name?”, I’m far from little. I’m nearly 16. Ugh, at least he recognized my existence for some moment in this universe.
“Abigail.”, I say as if he may be sincerely interested and I can tell from his tone he’s fair from genuinely interested.
“Ok.”, he replies. Why would he ask if he’s not interested? I don’t understand. He’s so peculiar. I tried to at least give him the benefit of the doubt. “Your mom likes me, you know?”
“She never mentioned you, though.”, I state rather inquisitively.
“Do you recognize the smell?”, he asks matter of factly. I do. It’s that smell I briefly catch in the morning as I pass her bedroom to go to the bathroom. It’s distinct. But, when I come back around I don’t smell it. I smell some air freshener in place of it.
“Why didn’t she mention you?”, I reply hesitantly.
“Because, she didn’t want to confuse you.”, he says earnestly.

“It’s okay, I’m okay with it. I understand she wants a friend even if it may be a bit more. I won’t mention you told me. So, are you my taxi driver or a family friend?”
He pulls over to the side of the ride, before we’ve reached my destination. I hear nothing. The hustle and bustle of a gas station didn’t accompany the stop. He’s rustling in the trunk. Probably, not a taxicab driver, my mother trusted him or needed him financially. Either way is acceptable.
“You don’t need to go to school today. Your mother wanted me to get to know you. A family friend. I’m a family friend.”, whip, and he coaxes me on a sheet.

“Do you remember the sounds surrounding your father’s death?”, I feel a breeze and an unease. Then, he hands me a sandwich in a Ziploc baggy, a can, and some chips.
“I’d prefer that not to be asked. Get to know me the same way everyone else does.”, our connection was off from the start. As if he’s not connecting to me, but the idea of me.
His smell is closer. Why didn’t my mother mention this before I left the house? An arm grasps my wrist and I feel rope against my wrists. “What are you doing?”, I say standing to fight the sensation of helplessness. I step back and take off my shoes. It’s so much easier to read the surroundings without them. Maybe, if I find a road. But, I see nothing, absolutely nothing. The connections I once felt instantly cease. I can’t hear and my bare feet against the ground are just that bare feet against the ground.
“Ensuring my pleasure. You know that feeling of the meat in your mouth, that nice juicy, tender muscle where the blood once pulsed. Well, you know what’s better? The blood still pulsing. The connection of an impending death and the inquisition of something’s up. Something, not quite right. But, there and ignoring that signal for trust.”, he breathes the words down my neck.

Our connections. No mine’s better. No, no, no it’s not the same. We’re not the same.
I search inside for my ability, my ability to connect of what’s beneath my feet, instead I simply run. Run like everyone else in the universe as if nothing was beneath me. I instantly fall to the ground on a rock. A rock? How did I not feel it? No, I collapse under the weight of my body and feel him over top of my body.

“You denied the connection, silly child. You’ll soon learn we’re one in the same. We feel what the rest of the world denies. We’re different than them. You thought I was one of them. Never doubt your instincts. But, it’s too late now. Your fear got in the way of your connection. You’ll be my meal like the rest of it. My first human victim. I thought you may be different but there’s no second chances, only me.”, he declares as he binds me.
I laugh nervously. That’s insanity. I’ll survive. What’s that sound? I hear a sound? It could be someone to help me. I scream and hear the insane laughter piercing my ears. I’ll scream through the woods to someone’s ears that are connected to the world. The world I’m leaving and entering. A squirrel’s running. Why couldn’t I be a squirrel? Nooo, I can feel my blood pooling about my stomach, it’s wetness like a creek. I scream louder for the security I may survive. What’s that? I hear a cricket, maybe a locust, and perhaps the swaying of a branch. But the only human is the human whose teeth enter my stomach, clench, and yank. Like a steak, only me. It’s me. And I feel the world it becomes one, the sounds muddles about me. My screams increasingly faints until they mesh into the squirrel that becomes the cricket and the cricket becomes the person eating my flesh. I can feel the sensation of tearing. Everything stops. Yet, I’m it. I’m the only thing. The only connection between it all. It’s all there and it’s me. Yet, it doesn’t matter. None of it matters.  My body’s not on the sheet. It’s near the tree. It’s the moss. Aw, the moss. I reach my foot to that moss. If it’s the last thing, I do is touch my foot upon the soft, welcoming moss. Aww, pure bliss and silence of not feeling anything but that connection from that moss patch.
Foot steps approach. From who? A police siren, a muddle, and perhaps salvation, I think as I slip back into interrupting boundaries and the pain rushes back. The blood’s felt, my body’s mine, I’m separate. No, a snap felt from within the core of my bones. “You’ll realize, what I hope soon I will, too.”, he whispers through a strained crack.
Suddenly, it ceased within a nanosecond. Our last breath’s exhaled in a strange united ecstasy. The carnivore’s pleasure and mine ceased to be different and mold into one unit as I fade into the moss’ texture and his into the last bite of my flesh. It permeates to form one thing, the only Being in existence, Me.

Jack in the box

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Levi is my father. Usually, a young girl should call her father a dad. But, father is a more formal way of saying what he truly is. He is my father, not a dad. A dad is warm and loving. A dad puts his own emotions aside when his wife dies and his daughter is the only thing he has left.

Life is like a jack-in-the-box. We anxiously wait cranking the handle hoping for a pleasant surprise. Instead of a gloriously adorable head, its creepy eyes stare us in the face. The music is deceiving, you should not trust it. That is precisely what happened to my father.

He used to be a good, courageous man. At least, that is what I hear among the whispers behind his back. I hear what he used to be and what he could have been. But, I only see what he is: a goddamned coward. The jack-in-the-box’s handle was turned too many times for my father I suppose. I suppose he could have amounted to something. But, I do not know that man. I already know the present, the now, and the here.

Each morning, I see him hope to stuff the jack back in the box. But, Jack already reared his ugly face. Jack already existed and once he’s out there is no going back my friend. No going back for neither of us.

My father welcomes Jack into his world. He welcomes him as he fashions five metal coat hangers into a point. He opens the door in his mind and his breathing becomes paced liked in a trance. A calming smile spreads across his face as his Jack comes alive. He grabs the cloth resembling a head and placing it over the metal joined together at a point and the formation is of a dog’s head. Oh, how he loved that dog. At least, that’s what everyone tells me.

He loved that dog more than my mother. More than me. He loves that dog more than life itself. He grabs the contraption and tapes it to his chest. It is a rather time-consuming process, but do the mentally insane truly understand time? I doubt it, as they waste away life. I imagine within his mind he is running with that dog. The dog with the mane of a lion and the agility of a panther jumps to life. The dog he’s loved and nursed to health breathes.

Although, there is a twinge of pain beneath the insanity that knows the dog is dead. The dead dog does not live and that dog killed my mom. I call her mom and not mother, because I picture her as warm. Although, perhaps, she could have stayed alive for me, perhaps she gave up on life itself. I like to think she’d preferred to take me with her and she whispers for me to join her.

I watch as my father jogs down the street with the jack-in-the-box dog swaying back and forth. I want revenge for all those lost moments. The lost moments with my mom and my father are something I must retrieve. People whisper that Jack literally murdered that dog in front of my father’s eyes with a shotgun. They say the dog dropped instantly, but he licked my father’s tears as he took his last breath. They say he was a strong and loyal dog, that he resembled my father’s character and sustained them until his last moments. There lies the difference. He maintained consistency in his loyalty, whereas my father lost his.

My father waltzes through the door with a vacant look upon his face. He appears lost, instead of relaxed. “He’s back.” He whispers beneath his breath. He rips off the vest of the jack-in-the-box looking dog head. I don’t quite understand, because he always gently removes the contraption to place on a stand and speak softly to as if it where animate. But, this time he treated the head as if it were dead.

As I exit, I see people’s eyes on me. They are usually staring. But, this time there laid something behind them, something new. I heard them whisper a name and I saw the house that was for sale for too much money loses its sign. No one was going to pay that price. No one except someone buried in money, someone returning to a small town with no other available except for the trailer park around the corner. No one would move into that house except none other than Jack.

As the days go past, I watch his house. I observe who enters, how many times, how long they are there. I notice one consistent visitor. A woman with beautiful, long flowing hair just like my dad’s old dog. I watch as her curves are pronounced and she enters excited and leaves even more so. I watch as she breathes as he hugs her goodbye as they watch television and he wipes her tears from a sad movie, just as the dog did to my dad.

I never thought I would see the past so clearly. But, I was born for revenge. I was born to give my dad justice and punish the reason for his misery. I was born to return to my mom and I hear her whisper: “Come to me darling. “ I imagine her voice soft and smooth. It is a familiar voice, yet I have never heard it before.

Patiently, I cranked the handle of the jack in the box. Faithfully, I desire to see it rear its head. I am no stranger to it. It remains a friend that’s never failed nor abandoned me. Tonight, the time has arrived. The handle will barely crank and I will see the product in all those days of anxiously cranking. But, it won’t be Jack surfacing from the box to greet me. In the end, I shall see my mother’s face and right all the wrongs to my family.

false comfort

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            Tungu leaves his small apartment to escape his girlfriend’s screams. His relationship was not always plagued with such instability. But, his desire to please and not be lonely causes him to stay. He longs for a companion and to some degree searches for it beneath the poorly lit streetlights. He questions whether all the apartment buildings stacked upon each other are just as miserable as he is and he doubts it.

 

            Tungu stops in his tracks, when he hears yelling. He can’t comprehend the words leaving the abuser’s mouth. But, he did comprehend the bone cracking sound and a dog’s whimper shrilling the silent street air. He pauses. Tungu has never really been a fan of animals, but he visualizes himself bursting him and saving the dog from the physical pain and he wonders who will save him from his emotional pain.

 

            Through the metal fence, a puppy appears scared and distraught. Even beneath the streetlights, the puppy appears gorgeous with its fur in all directions and eyes that pierced the soul. Instantly, he snuggled up to Tungu and whimpered a weak sigh of relief. The whimpering continues from inside again. But, Tungu did not dare step forward. Tungu imagines his girlfriend’s response as he questions whether he should abandon the dog in a shelter or keep him. The feeling of his heartbeat made him feel a sense of comfort and a sense of need from another living being. Tungu’s lips spread out into a smile that came from deep within his beating heart and immersed in that of the little ball of unorganized fur.

 

            Tungu slowly realizes his pup does not like people. He appears to like people as they gravitate towards his unnatural beauty, but the instant they attempt to touch him he snaps. He called his mom for advice and she said to beat the habit out of him. But, he didn’t have the heart for that in the least. The pup already saw enough abuse in his days. When his girlfriend discovers the nasty little habit, she shrieks: “it’s me or the dog.” Tungu shrugs his shoulders, packs his bags, and thinks to himself: “I wouldn’t really mind living in the country anyhow and the fresh air could do us some good.”

 

            Tungu spent his days calling people late on their insurance car payments. He decides to not make the call to the business. They never cared about him. They never valued him and wouldn’t notice his loss. The barn’s paint peels into flakes and land on the floor. He inhales, smiles, and scoops his pup into his arms and like Lion King lifts him into the air atop a stack of hay barrels. Tungu is now the king of his palace and Victor became his prince.

 

            The bond grows betwixt Victor and Tungu. Tungu can snap his finger and along runs Victor, except in one case when Victor’s lust for blood outweighed his desire to please. The animals flee from Victor as fast as their three legs can carry them. All the animals upon Tungu’s farm had three or two legs and hobbled about. But, they learned how to hobble faster than the wind in Victor’s presence. It is no secret Victor would bite any living being encapsulated in his trusting personality, except Tungu.

 

            Tungu spent nights questioning whether Victor’s life was worth the pain he caused and the danger he posed to others. Yet, no one visited Tungu and Victor lay at the foot of his bed every night. Not even, his girlfriend bear to sleep with him every night. Tungu isn’t sure if the same blood lust lies in Victor’s eyes towards him. But, he accepts the risk.

 

            An old man in a pick up truck drives up the property. He exits and inhales a long, drawn out breath longing into the bright blue clouds. “I haven’t seen this farm in ages! I just came to see the new ownership.” Suspiciously, Tungu uneasily alternates between one foot and the other. The sun beats down and beads of sweat fall one by one down the old man’s wrinkly face.

 

            “You look thirsty, I’ll get you a glass of water.” Tungu says as societal courtesy reenters his thoughts. “Victor, no.” he says firmly eyeing Victor nervously. Victor obeys. “Whatever you do, don’t pet the dog.” He says hurriedly going inside.

 

            “All dogs love me.” The old man chuckled to himself with his raspy voice as the screen door drowned out his words. Victor wags his tail and as the old man gains trust the happiness crescendos in the dog’s hypnotizing eyes. Chomp! The agonizing scream pierces the air. Instantly, the old man’s cane hits the grass beneath it and Victor found the one victim who cannot hobble fast enough from him.

 

            Tungu rushes outside. “Will they make me put him down? Did the old man obey my wishes or did Victor attack first?” In frenzy, Tungu crouches down to pick up the cane and he stares into the old man’s pleading eyes and those of Victor. He raises the cane above his head and hesitates. Meanwhile, Victor sucks the blood from his victim’s finger like a straw.

 

            “He could’ve been just protecting me. Victor sleeps at the foot of my bed every night.” Tungu thinks to himself.  “If no one misses me, no one will surely miss an old, senile man.” He lifts the cane above his head staring down at two potential victims to his torment and slams the cane down. Once, then twice and the cracking bones pierce the air just as he heard the past year. Wildly, Tungu finishes the deed with repeated swift movements of the cane. The air swooshes as he increases his speed to eliminate his victim’s final breath.

 

            A blanket is sprawled across the green moss atop Tungu’s favorite rock. He stands; stretches, and his fingers grab tufts of Victor’s fur. A sharp splinter of wood pierced his finger in this ruckus and he plucks the cane’s small chunk of wood out, and then returns his hand to its previous location. Tungu’s worries dissipate in the thick summer air as Victor licks his finger in a display of loyalty and affection…or lust for the stray droplet of blood.  

Ying and Yang

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           Alyssa reflected a ying and yang through her identity. She encompassed two dual identities; they were like night and day. They meshed together to create one shifting person with a solid footing because she shifted with the environment about her.

            Alyssa had eyelashes that could make men line up, but eyebrows that furrowed in a certain frightening way. When her eyelashes fluttered the men stopped in their tracks. When her eyebrows furrowed, her daughters did just the same. Her long, willowy arms held hidden talents. Sometimes, they were tied up to a bedpost. Other times, they were enveloping Josephine and Nadia with a loving energy. Her voice sounded sweet like honey, unless Jo and Nadia failed to meet her expectations in school or clients refused to pay for her service.

 

            Alyssa waited for Jo and Nadia everyday at 3:05 sharp at the Roosevelt Elementary School. She was the mother that was expected to be the cover photo of Parenting magazine, if her profession was unknown. She wanted the absolute best and happiness for her daughters. Her desire shone through her eyes. She had dark brown exotic eyes that could whip men into submission as she swayed her luscious hips back ad forth hypnotically. Those eyes baited men in, but what they didn’t see was the desire wasn’t for lust. Alyssa didn’t work the streets for lust or drugs; she thirsted for something much deeper. She thirsted for her Josephine and Nadia from deep within her soul and within the blood coursing in her veins. A mother doesn’t only care for a human being in the world, but also an extra valve to pulsate a heart strong enough for their children.

           

            Tucked in her closet, Alyssa hid the tools for her trade: a pair of stilettos, makeup, lingerie, and an array of toys not available in Spencers. Most little girls swoon over their mother’s goodies and giggle as their tiny innocent feet waddle around in their shoes. Jo and Nadia were not meant to follow in their mother’s shoes. Alyssa wanted to offer an abundance of education she was never granted and would never see in her lifetime.

 

            The three were a dynamic trio that lived in Apartment 804 atop the Brooklyn Grandview Estate. Don’t let that name mislead you. The elevators didn’t function and the steps were home to enough Stuart Littles and Ratatouilles to make their own restaurant. As the trio fluttered up the stairs like butterflies, their minds explored new heights and surpassed the Brooklyn skyscrapers. Nadia and Jo had enough experience in museums and parks; they could give a Harvard professor a lesson or two.

           

            One day, the three floated up the staircase like usual. Alyssa was preparing for business. She possessed a few new VHS tapes in a plastic bag from the thrift store and Jo smiled at the thought of the surprise. She hoped it wasn’t a boring history documentary: Oh, I hope it’s a documentary about polar bears or cute puppies. I don’t want another black and white movie. Those are so boring. I hope it’s about an adventure. Alyssa drew the curtain up separating her room and the living room. Hopefully, tonight’s a short night Alyssa thought. She knew business rush was primetime to make money. When the entrepreneurs got off from work, she began hers.

 

            Reaching into the refrigerator, Alyssa pulled out some puddings and applesauce. The cabinet was a bit bare, but she found some stale chips in the back. I better not hear one complaint about these chips either…I still don’t know how I forgot they were there. There’s nothing in here! She said to herself. “Okay, you know the drill Josephine.”

 

            “I know, I know mom. Don’t come out for any noise. Don’t let Nadia do so either.” She repeated the phrase, she so commonly heard.

 

            “Okay, good.” Alyssa said ready to wait on the corner of afternoon traffic. Jo eagerly looked through the near videotapes. None of the tapes had a cover and they scurried to place each of the ten tapes in and play five minutes of each to reach a consensus. Milo and Otis sparked an interest in both the girls and they sat down.

           

            “Did mom make you do homework?” Jo inquired.

 

            “No, did she make you do homework?” Nadia responded with her innocent six-year-old plump face. Jo envied her hair curling around her face. She, too, had Goldie Locks hair, until she recently turned twelve and their mother made her donate them.

 

            “No, she didn’t. Did she seem sad?” Jo pushed for someone to agree with her.

 

            “Jo! I’m trying to watch the movie!” Nadia squealed. Jo succumbed to her wish, because at least she wasn’t griping for food. By the end of the film, Nadia ate two puddings and an applesauce. Jo ate two apple sauces and a pudding.  The school’s lunch was sort of burnt and had that weird meat loaf no one truly wanted to eat. The chips sat untouched. They concluded they didn’t crunch quite right and felt rather rubbery. Jo placed a Barney tape in. She knew if she didn’t keep Nadia’s attention, she would pay more attention to the grumbling of her stomach.

 

            These chips are chewy. C for chips and C for chewy. Nadia thought to herself hungrily, but she ate them. In Alyssa’s room, C stood for Cooperate. “You’re going to cooperate or your girls face your fate.” I swear I searched this man. I swear he did not have that knife before. Alyssa inwardly regretted. Her eyes filled with tears and passion. The tears tricked down.

 

            “Did you think mom will take us to where the water trickles into the stream for a picnic?” Nadia asked Jo.

 

            “I sure hope so.” Jo responded.

 

            Hope is an interesting concept. It can be a short, temporary hope or it can burn eternally. Focus on Josephine. Focus on Nadia. I hope they survive this. I hope they see their future. I hope they live a life where they are never objectified.  Alyssa visualized and her thoughts traveled to a place far away. She imagined holding them. She hungered for their survival.

 

            “I’m hungry, Jo! You are too I hear your stumble growl like a brown bear. Please let’s go eat some cereal. I don’t care if I miss dinner until my next birthday.” Nadia moaned. Moans can be innocent pleas for consideration. Alyssa moaned into the pillow as she called 911 and the client stabbed her. In a way, Alyssa’s moan was a plea for life. The man yelled: “You stupid, bitch!” covering her mouth to prevent her from alerting the operator back at the station. He was unaware of the speakerphone catching his voice into the phone. Alyssa grinned at the thought of having the speakerphone button broke, so that it was constantly pushed in. She was clever.

 

            Jo was clever as well. She popped in the favorite movie of her little companion begging for cereal: Home Alone. Jo hated Christmas movies in March, but she knew it would hold her off. “Just one more! Listen, if mom doesn’t come out after this movie. We risk her screaming and we eat Fruit Loops.”

 

            The client looped Alyssa’s hair around his hands three times, until her scalp was against his knuckles. He began scalping her. I have the note. It’s tucked in my hand. They will always know I loved them. My spirit will live on in their souls. Forever and warm their existence in the coldest of nights. What is that star Josephine? My love will fill the big dipper and the little dipper for you both. Alyssa dreamed and delved into unconsciousness from the pain. In her hand, the note lies safely with the dots of the big and little dipper.

 

            Like the emptiness of the dippers, Jo’s stomach rumbled before the movie even began. She turned the television up louder just in case her mother questioned their obedience. She led Nadia into the kitchen. She pulled the chair to the cabinet and reached up for the Fruit Loops reserved only for Mondays to start of the week “Fruity” as her mother would say. She handed the box to Nadia. They delved their hands into the box and devoured handfuls of cereal. In the middle of the feast, the client walked out zipping up his pants. He glanced frantically at the pure innocence before him. He left.

 

            Jo sensed something was wrong. She reached for the doorknob and turned it. As the door opened up, Jo and Nadia glanced to the red room. Nadia screamed a scream so loud that it penetrated the walls and echoed back twice as loud. Her soft-soled feet scurried across the room collecting a mixture of scalp and hair clumps. It created a squishing sound across the wood floor. Nadia fell briefly and her knees collected the mess. She held her mother’s heart with the valve of strength only a mother could grow. She mimicked the CPR actions and placed the heart back in, pressing strongly. “I love you, mommy! Say it back to me. Don’t you love me too?!” She screamed as if she honestly expected her trick to revive her mother.

 

            Jo observed the blood pooling around her mother. She didn’t picture so much blood in a human body. She placed her fingers in her mother’s hand. She took the fingers with her left hand to strategically put them where her mother would have placed them one by one. Then, she put her other hand in a similar position discovering the note. She saw the dots and didn’t quite understand.

 

            Two exhausted police officers barged through the door. “Holy Mother of God!” Officer Watson yelled in disbelief. The two officers observed the scene and ushered the Jo and Nadia away. Officer Watson was an experienced police officer. He had seen many bloody scenes, but known with a heart removed from a chest cavity and a scalped mother.  If that were Jacob, how would this scene affect him? He’d never be the same. Watson thought imagining Jacob’s big innocent eyes reflected in Nadia’s eyes.  

 

            Nadia cried softly in the officer’s shoulder.

 

            “Let me have, five more minutes. I need to hold her hand five more minutes. I will never see her face. I didn’t get to kiss her. I want my mom. Don’t take me away!” Jo punched, kicked, and bit the officer. The situation overwhelmed her and the permanence of death entered her soul. The blood on the walls was her blood and her genetics. The blood on the walls flowed within her and her feistiness fought back. Eventually, the officer escorted her out.

 

            The officers looked at each other solemnly when exciting the scene. “Only a daughter could love that mother.” Officer Watson said.

 

            Josephine handed Nadia the crumbled up piece of stationary pointing to the smoggy sky. “You’re my little dipper and you’re my big dipper. I’ll always fill you both up with love, so the darkness of the night never fills you up.” They both sang in unison imagining their mother’s voice filled with genuine love. 

The Noun is Black

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The noun is black. Black is never a noun. It’s always an adjective. But, some things defy reason. An adjective is a word’s attachment with no separate idea with a larger meaning. But, not for me, the noun is black. It has a separate meaning and identity all its own. At times, I believe black is my friend and other times I’m sure it’s my enemy. Real or fantasy, friend or enemy, independent or dependent of me for existence. I can not say with 100% certainty. Although, I can say with 100% certainty with all my being: the noun is black.

My sister Elizabeth has shared a room with me, since I was born and never complained one iota about it neither. She’s one of the most beautiful people I’ve ever known. Her hair shines like the wheat in the field and it flows against her freckled complexion with perfection almost heavenly.  Her eyes complete it with a deep understanding of a million lifetimes circled about in an ocean of blues. Not one, but a myriad changing without the slightest invocation of the surroundings. They were independent of the surroundings and dependent upon themselves. But, then again, at 13, how many people has one seen? Her friend Anna is coming over today. Usually, I hear people at school discussing how cruel their older siblings are leaving me with nothing to talk about. She is 16 going on 17, but that makes little difference.

Today’s weather is nice. Nice meaning cooling my feet against the gentle creek under the bridge I created was going to be astronomically amazing. I walk the same worn path and beckon the path into reality. Black settles itself beneath the bridge. Black hides in cracks, shadows, and those dark empty spaces such as beneath the bridge. Black doesn’t describe this being. Black was this being: it belonged to me and only me for no one else could see it not wandering eyes or family or kids at school. Sometimes, I wished I could share black with someone or hear someone talk of its being. Maybe, it is best for me to see Anna and my sister. Why put my sandals back on for fear of a bee at the price of the grass’ sweet texture against my flesh? I’ll accept the risk for the reward.

I should surprise them. Usually, they laugh at such childish attempts. I gently open the door. But, the scene that played out was not reasonable. But, eyes never lie. Eyes reveal what actions conceal. Sometimes, a fake apology contains a tear or a smile is withheld through sadness. But, eyes paint a veil of truth even over a falsehood. The hands gracefully willow out of the long lush hair of each other and the eyes look randomly bouncing about the room, as if hoping for some explanation other than the truth.  Anna’s eyes never met mine. My sister frantically begun reassuring her it was okay and that the one and only soul they should tell was mine. I shut the door and chimed in, “Your secret is safe with me. Elizabeth’s secrets are still within my mind.” But, my words were hollow to her ears and she continued to cry.

I recalled my initiation into womanhood by my mother. The scene replayed itself mentally.  My mother was in the bathroom. A package came from my grandparents for Christmas, out of my excitement I burst in. Instead of combing her hair or brushing her teeth, she was applying aloe juice to each individual mark. Marks from an obvious hit, like hitting your knee against a chair, only they did not match those marks. She whirled around and smiled with her lips while her eyes painted a different story. She explained the job of a true lady was simply to conceal the truth of pain and anguish. It was as simple as hiding “Christmas presents” she said, only for you to see and no one else ever especially with family, because if she’d allowed the truth to be revealed sooner. My opinions of my father would be negative and we wouldn’t want anyone to think anything negative of those we loved. She said I was old enough now to see: you hide the bad and reveal the good. At that instant in my life, dots connected: my sister silently crying in the night and the forceful command to go back to bed amidst odd sounds in the house. Nonetheless, black was my “Christmas present”. It projected its voice into my mind, probably recognizing its identity. It played with me, despite other kids avoiding my company.

Reality of the moment now snapped me back from the flashback. Anna was crying and Elizabeth was explaining how I knew about her secret psychology class. Dad refused to sign the schedule and demanded she take home economics, because it was more suitable. But, my sister knew how to thwart rules. But, I believe she was a man. Her “Christmas presents” were never wrapped too long around me.  She said it was because I was an accepting soul, so her information was for me and me alone to hold to my heart. She coaxed me on saying she, too, was an accepting soul.  Anna was a lady and tried to hide the secret from me. But, Elizabeth wouldn’t accept such a thought. If I did not tell on her class, why would I tell on this? The penalty for both secrets would be the same horrendous action taken against our mom. Dad raised us to be ladies not gentlemen and our mother would pay for it most assuredly behind closed doors in a wrapped box with a pretty bow. During the winter, she sewed us snow pants to go sledding in. Sledding was great fun, but my mother was scared and she was rightfully so at the end of the day. Elizabeth cried that night like a dog with a broken limb longing for the use it again and later explained when I was older.

Once again, Elizabeth thrust me into the truth. “Anna is my girl friend as a boy has one. What do you think?”

My eyes wandered searching for an answer from a dark crevice holding black….nothing. “I like it as much as I like anything. You both want it, how can something you both willing fully want be bad? Your secret is safe with me.” There was nothing more to say than what I thought. Anna’s eyes went from scared like a cornered bunny before death to a relieved peace. They entered the door of our room for week burdened and now they looked like a baby blue bird whom first takes flight. Is that the price we pay for being a lady? Being like a caged bird only able to sing and never fly?

Black’s voice dominated my thoughts for about a good month and a half.  Not playful, helpful black but evil, sadistic black. Elizabeth and Anna went to go gaze at stars. But, I was too tired to join. Tired of voices, tired of black’s haunting presence. There was no peace or alone time, I was owned and I sensed its presence always there. As if it, engulfed its life in my breath and never allowed me to escape like a tick on a dog. Only a dog may be free at one point, I was never to be free. Why must it be here kept in a closet or a box? Its voice crescendo-ed back into existence. “I know you see Me.”, it’s voice encircled my thoughts like bees to honey with no intention to abandon the prize they sought to conquer. But, it can only conquer something that pays attention to it. “There’s only one solution to your predicament: death. We’ve reviewed this time and time again.” Perhaps, that is the sole solution. But, black is not above tricks. It promises to leave yet comes back again. Promises to be nice and sweet one day and that exact day threatens me before I close my eyes to sleep to gouge them out and display them on a sharp stick that way I’ll never see anything but black. I know black is ever present, ever growing, I’m never free. Never, it’s doesn’t go away, it’s not an adjective belonging to something for it belongs in my breath in my life. It doesn’t have to follow me because it is in me. It is me. Black is the noun. The noun that I am. The noun giving me solutions that turn into demands, I accept them. I accept them, but it won’t allow me to curl into a ball and cry. I just can’t cry alone, even under the blanket it grows engulfing every shadow and crack and crevice. Black is the weed in the sidewalk, you’ll never see it die because it feeds on the cracks and uses them to take root. The roots go everywhere and escape no slight darkness for food. Even when I close my eyes, it’ll make a permanent root there never to permit my sweet longing for freedom even in a dream.  Black takes the darkness in the room and whirls it around over and over and over chanting: “Life is such an easy price to pay for one’s freedom, it’s not difficult.”

“Go, please, go. At least be nice, remember the sandbox how we played? Have mercy on me. Please.”, my tears could not conceal themselves nor my voice. I never vocalized to black because black was my “Christmas present” never to leave the box.

 

The door creaked open.

 

 

“I heard it all, don’t deny. What do you wish to prove? Do you want a body part you were born with or a listening ear?”, Elizabeth said as she wrapped her willowy arms around me. Her eyes were caring and concerned.  I didn’t want to be a caged bird any longer. I wasn’t meant to be caged. I realized that the “Christmas present” of my sister was never truly diminished. Sharing it with me reduced its burdened. But, a reduction was like a weight lifting off my shoulders.  Even, if it was not the entire weight, baby steps taught someone how to walk. We taught each other how to be open.  Slowly with age, we broke the cage we were placed into. There were no more Christmas presents to be unwrapped. The house we were born in is not the house we would create. We accepted each other. Not some false acceptance to force a person into submission. But, truly accepted. I never thought it was possible. The baby blue bird never flew before, but he knew there was a time to fly. The caged bird realizes that is overdue. A time to spread wings openly to chance a death of falling or a chance to fly. We learnt to fly together as one weaving a pattern never before there but always present within us.

The Right Away

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My mom had eyelashes that could kill. She’d whip those puppies towards the sky in some seductive trace, men would line up, and they did just that. I never noticed the connection when I was younger, but age has a way of stealing your innocence in multiple ways.

My mom was wonderful to my sister and me. She would tuck us in at night with a gentle kiss on our foreheads. I still vividly recall those eye lashes brushing me gently, before I dozed off. Once a week, she would plan an excursion to the museum, the library, the zoo, or literally any other place her creative mind could conjure up pertaining to education. She emphasized school. People stereotype Asian parents. They clearly never had the pleasure of meeting my mother. A’s and nothing less. She wasn’t physically abusive about it, but she didn’t accept anything less. I got a B plus once. I waltzed around with a big red B on shirts for weeks, until that grade rose. Fifth grade was a bitch. I could’ve gotten that A the first time around, but some crush preoccupied my mind. I wasn’t telling mom that. She despised boys more than she despised F’s and I’m sure you can imagine that was a lot.

My mom had her closets. Every body has their closets. Some are filled with an embarrassing baby doll decaying they can’t let go of and others are filled with stripper heels and an array of toys. Her closet wasn’t the one where you try your mom’s shoes on in. It was an off limit closet just like her room for when her eye lashes made boys line up.

My mom worked. My sister and I were watching cartoons with the volume way up. You know the volume where the volume feels like it’s preparing to escalade to choke your ears out loud. It was mom’s rule, when those boys lined up. No matter what ruckus resonated from her room were we allowed to enter. We heard all kinds of things: screaming, blow horns, slapping. But, not one sound could break that sound. If we broke that rule, we would skip dinner and breakfast. I broke it once, but prevented Peggy from breaking it. I’d pay along with her. Peggy’s only five.

The television program lasted way into those infomercials. I wasn’t quite sure what to do. Peggy was squalling for food at this hour. To be honest, I wanted to imitate her. Repeatedly, her eyes pleaded with me. Nonverbally like sisters do, we stood up simultaneously to push our boundaries into the unknown together. “Together we stand, together we fall”. But, we fell before anticipated without even turning the doorknob.

At this point, I decided to make the food. I pour us both a bowl of cereal. The man comes out completely disorienting zipping his pants up glancing side to side. He darted into the kitchen spilling the cereal all over the floor and ran out. We knew mom’s work was done. Inwardly, we were hoping it was going to be a starlit dinner outside in the park. Our mother was infamous for that after working so long.

The door creaked and we peered in. Blood smeared the walls. It penetrated our veins that had our blood still coursing. Peggy ran faster than her legs could run. Her bare feet collected a mixture of dampened hair from scalp tainted by blood. Peggy placed the heart back in silently, her innocent round eyes hoping for a miracle. She pushed harder with each action tears streaming with more intensity as she was losing hope, as if she truly believed placing a heart back in a dead corpse would work.

People collect souvenirs from their loved ones. I found mine in a bible. It was my mom’s chopped off hand. I enlaced my fingers like a connection. A connection that I knew I was never going to have again. My mom’s hair coated the floor. Her heart lain carved out, but pressed into her body from Peggy. Her severed hand was hidden in my pocket. It was cold and without feeling. It didn’t move, when I put my hands into between her fingers like they once inched closer and closer as if our hands would mold as one.

The police came. They entered the room with a look of horror, but not from what happened to my mother, instead from what we witnessed. The only words they muttered concerning the situation in a personal light was: “Only a daughter could love that mother.”

 

            Twenty Years Later:

I’m successful. I own a doctorate’s in business and my CEO position proves it. I don’t have to worry about some cheap dinners and a chair that doesn’t recline. I can tell the world that reclining in my flowery chair is a luxury. My mom would’ve liked that chair. But, she was too unselfish. Unselfishness bites you in the ass in the world. It really truly does. Nice people own community business. Smart people are CEOs. The world follows the same model.

I need to pick Lucy up from the baby sitter’s house. Sometimes, our instinctual urges take over in life. I love her, but it’s not the same love my mother demonstrated towards me. It’ll probably never be that love. I’ll never put someone first. Why should I? So, I can silence my screams and have my heart carved out. I think not.

She hops joyfully in the car. “Sarah loves my drawing I made at school. I made a turtle. Turtles are so cool. What’s your favorite animal, mom?”

“I don’t know. Does it really matter?”, I reply.

“Oh come, mom, everyone has a favorite animal.”

“I suppose a wolf.” A damn car cuts me off. I have the freaking right away! God bless America. I don’t understand where they’re passing out driver licenses today. I freaking Cracker Jack box. I’ll show this disrespectful ass. I push the gas just to challenge them and show I will not be driven over like a deer caught in the headlights. Lucy slides a bit in the leather seating in the back.

“Pay attention, mom!”

“They didn’t have the right away. Sometimes, you just got to assert what’s right in the world and defend yourself. Take notes. You tend to not handle Ms. Elizabeth Smith so well at school.”

“Sarah told me to ignore her.”

“Mommy thinks Sarah is an idiot.”, I say. The SUV decides to cut me off and slams the breaks. A crack penetrates the air. An eerie crack and one I hope came from the car. I look back. Is this a game of hers? She’s always trying to get more attention. I sigh heavily. My car spirals out of control and rams the wall.

The EMT asks: “Are you all okay? I should just take a quick look at you both.” He looks at Lucy. “She’s not responding.”

“She always is playing this game. Aren’t you, honey?” I remark playfully. He doesn’t appear convinced and starts trying to get a response. He loads her into the ambulance. My world freezes and I run into the back with them. He diverts his attention from me and devotes it to Lucy. I had the right away, didn’t I?

She awakens and peers up at the EMT. “Where’s Sarah?” I want to scream….HERE I AM! Your mother! I’m your mother. Don’t you see me? I exist. My favorite animal isn’t a wolf. It’s really a squirrel. You like them; too, I’m sure. Wolves are mean. My tears fall on her precious hands, as I cry relentlessly.

“I can’t feel them. Can you mommy?” The medic tears up. He balls his fists up. He grabs each finger then pinches himself. I see the blood accumulating under his nails, as he angrily glares at me.

The medic rushes her into the hospital, despite the predetermination of her diagnosis ringing in his mind. “I’m so sorry, honey! This is all my fault.” I fall to my knees briefly. Wobbly, I stride to keep up with my Lucy. My little ray of light Lucy.  My throat is closing in on me and I desperately gasp for air.

My mom understood the world. The world doesn’t revolve around us. It revolves within us, as we expand our world to encompass and enhance the lives of others. We live to let live. We live to embrace the pain of ourselves to witness the lives of those before us flourish. Life is like walking barefoot. There are rocks. Sharp jutting rocks. Rocks ready to slice your foot. But, there are patches of moss with their wondrous fibers ready to welcome our feet. The moss doesn’t exist without the rock. We can wear shoes to protect us against the elements or shout: Here I am! World give me everything you got. We have the capacity to feel and let things be felt just as we have the ability to be in people’s lives and let their lives be ours.

My daughter taught me a lesson. I denied Lucy the right away into my life, but never again. I will take my second chance and cherish it fully. I will give Lucy ever second of my existence.

The medic explains to the doctor, he walks away. He turns around and approaches me interrupting my apology.

“Only a daughter could love you.”

“It’s okay mommy. I promise everything will be okay.”, Lucy reaffirms me after my apology.

Friendship

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                      An area the world lacks is reason. But, who am I to judge? I, too, lack reason. Life lacks reason, except the grass, the wondrous clovers, and dandelions beneath my naked feet. The grass in-between my toes shout to the people who ignore their existence with a fast paced life. I promised myself I’d tell Julie, after the 1st day of high school on the 1st day of summer.  Yet, here lies that day, with my war-torn arms as a tribute to the battle of my mind.

           

                I recall the day I met her with vivid clarity. During the spring, we got new neighbors. Not the typical grandmas with flower gardens and grandpas with a goofy dog yipping at the nearby children. But, her family. Just that morning my mom caught my stress reliever. I wasn’t allowed to wear a long-sleeved top. My nails could dig and with enough forced pressure cause blood and pain. It would be a measure to cover up the pain of the hatred in the people on the playground’s taunting voices. They just wouldn’t cease, even when they weren’t there, like a bad CD repeating the same old verse. My arms were an escape, since the 4th grade, but I could hide everything so well. My parents decided not to buy into any attention ploy, said it’d go away like a bad phase. I didn’t want to be a selfish burden, but that’s what I was at that point in life.

           

       
               In the bathroom during recess, I avoided the physical people just not the relentless echoing of their voices. Why couldn’t I be normal? Acceptance is all I wanted, not sympathy nor pity. I was meshing into the pleasure of forgetfulness and ecstasy as the blood trickled and scabs lost their place on my arms. Julie entered and I tried to shamefully conceal my actions. Her eyes were not judgmental. But, they looked full of sorrow and concern as a tear progressed into a caring waterfall.
Those mystical deep eyes, now, turn me on. I shouldn’t think that, perhaps, it’s a phase that’ll soon fade. Oh, who am I kidding? I’m a freak. If this attraction were a phase, it would’ve stopped in 8th grade. Phases end, this aspect is more than thumb-sucking. But, Julie walked into that bathroom to help me and she accomplished much more than mere help. My parents thought ignoring me was “help”. Julie’s luxurious black curls perfectly situated about her face, as they continued to do today. She dominated the situation, as I saw her warm, caressing eyes glancing painfully at the blood. I tried to brush her off. Yet, she rejected my reaction and forced her help upon me. So, I stood there in the once empty bathroom and poured out my soul to someone who already saw it. Her mother moved to start anew. Her father left a tinged family name and a forever-scarred elder sister. But, she was taunted in school for another reason that was “none of my business”. I’m okay with that because I don’t tell her everything obviously. Julie stepped in and made me cut my fingernails every few days. She got to the root of the problem by making me write down my feelings and read them aloud to her daily. Although, I dreaded this, I dreaded ruining a friendship more.

           

     

                        The tree house and friendship crescendo-ed into existence as my desire to forget faded. It was more of a fort, but Julie demanded it be called a tree house because all the materials composing it were from a tree. She believed a tree was a living thing and deserved to receive credit. Here, I sit in our tree house, despite the fact repairs must be performed. My eyes love the sight of dandelions, clovers, and grass. Julie’s thoughts are dynamic and I craved their explanation. How do I risk our friendship? Sometimes, a dandelion must choke out grass to exist and survive. Maybe, I, too, must choke something out to allow the friendship to exist.

           

         

              I’m sweating profusely and yet, I wear this thin long sleeved shirt. Julie won’t notice. But, if she does, she’ll demand I explain my feelings. I hate feelings. I wish I were a robot. Oh, how life’d be better as a robot. Then again, it wouldn’t be life. I can’t tell her and I’ll suppress the feelings. Maybe, they’re a phase and the cuts are a phase. I’ll ignore they exist. Oh, here comes Julie, I love how we meet still at the same tree house.

           

               

          Her smile welcomed me. Although I’m the person waiting for her, I believe she welcomed me. Her curls were confined in a bun atop glistening face. The tank top collided with the array of sunlight sprinkling her collar definition begging my eyes to lower. “Melody! I brought water, nice cold water. A long sleeved shirt?”, she looked at me puzzled and tossed me the water.

“Yeah, I like this shirt.”, my eyes slowly lowered at the lie and my eyes lowered but not for the vanished desire. My face and eyes were not like a mask to someone who was a mirror.

She quickly advanced and said, “Would you like to reword your lies?”, calmly because she took the control, I never had at this time.

           

                     
 
“I believe now is time to clean my room, Julie, you know.” , my legs started to exit the scene.

“Sit.”, my arms would give me away in a heart beat. Scabs were formed and slits were writing a story on my arm. The story of how to forget how I can destroy a beautiful friendship selfishly. She intersected me and her hands pushed my sleeves back, as if they were her own. She stared and tears begun to form. 

“I always cause pain to others, distance is best for now.” She pulled all her tactics demanding I tell her what was wrong. I don’t need help. I need to forget. “Back off and give me space for once.”, her control was lost and she cried intensely. She was forced to be my friend. Look, at her other options, an elderly old lady.

           

           

       I look at the common surrounding of my room and wish it weren’t 2 pm, so sleep could aid the forgetting. The lighter on the candles and the razors in the rest room scream to be used, but for Julie’s sake I must resist. I wish I were a robot, a lifeless, emotionless robot. I’m not like the tree who deserves to turn a fort into a tree house. I’m like the ice that causes a tree branch to break just like I did to Julie.

           

                 

 Sometimes, I wish Julie controlled me in other ways. I hate the desire. But, why should I not embrace it for once, before I abandon emotions permanently? Her soft, delicate, moisturized flesh as it graces mine. The rope used to tie the tree branches for support is used to tie me to the bedposts. I succumb to the dominance surrendering all the pressure, control, and responsibility of life to Julie. Her skin removed my clothing, but her hypnotizing eyes engulfed me in the moment. My breasts heave up and down increasingly, as I realize my complete submission. A feather is used to send sensations against my sensitive skin sending impulses up and down my spine. When she observes the reaction, she causes the feather to spiral about my nipples while my mind enters the yearning mind frame. She gracefully with complete control and calmness inserts her tongues without hesititation. My body is set afire like a thousand suns on infinitude of planets. Her hand forces my body into severe ecstasy. Every last ounce of control is lost in an instant. Nothing could remain hidden as my body gives way to its feelings.  Her victorious smile reveals how she enjoyed the forced pleasure and dominance. What the hell is wrong with me? My best friend, my poor Julie. How would she react to such information? I’ll never have to worry about that again or be another burden: a tree and a rope will find a whole new meaning.

           

                   
  I can skip dinner.  Why waste food on a damn robot? “Mom, I’m going to meet Julie at this time.” The feelings won’t end and no one will care for my worthlessness, after they discover my desires. I climb the tree and grasp the rope.

           

     

                  “Melody, don’t act like you don’t hear me, I spied on your room with binoculars.”, you’ve got to be kidding me.

           

           

     “You creeper.”, yeah right, that’d be me.

         

         

           “Talk, don’t divert attention.”

    

        

“Why am I the only one speaking?”

           

“I have nothing to hide.”

        

    “Why were you mocked in school, then?”, her sobs climbed the tree instantly.

          

                           
 “I’m coming up against your will.”,  I’d rather go down, it’s not like I can accomplish being a robot like this.
“No, I’m coming down, willingfully.” Then, we sat silently for a few seconds barefoot in the tree house for it was habit to remove shoes in the warmth of summer. Julie lost control her eyes hit the floor and her confidence vanished. Her mind spiraled in a frenzy connecting a million dots to allow help by explaining her “weakness”. 
“I prefer girls over boys. I’ve already lost friends, once. I couldn’t bear to lose you, too. Especially, when it could be not sure, it could change, things change.” She instantly glared demanding a response.

“I like you. Ok? A lot.”, my hands covered my tears breaking the robot, I so badly longed to be. Her hands pushed mine away to engulf and hypnotize me with her grass colored eyes. Nothing needed choked out for our survival of friendship. Growth needed permitted for the grass. Her wild, dominant nature leaned forward welcoming my pleading lips. She leaned back confused and her curls followed sadly. I nervously stared, as I realized neither one of us knew what we were doing. It didn’t matter, I wanted her, I wanted life, I wanted the sensation of pain to beckon forth growth. Slowly, my desire dominated the awkwardness and I assumed her role. Her lips accepted mine once more and our tongues swirled in the midst of the sun weaving its way through the tree house’s sticks.

      

       

    The friendship ended, but it evolved and it grew. Growth required pain and awkwardness. But, it was my duty to welcome it forth and allow room in my mind for all the grass blades, dandelions, and clovers to coexist.

Written in the Stars

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          The message has a set destination. Within a piece of paper, a direct message that contains no irony, sarcasm, or fancy language like a metaphor hinting at uncertain meaning. My simple job was to take the worn road through fairy forest and unicorn meadow to the emperor to handle some political matter most likely. As a bird, even one such as myself who can not fly, destiny predetermined us to deliver paper. Lack of curiosity or at least denial of curiosity got you higher up jobs, but regardless being a bird always equaled delivering papers. Curiosity never prompted me to be late or destroy secrecy with wandering eyes. Horses were destined to carry loads with more weight. More weight didn’t necessarily mean more weight, though. Paper could contain the most threatening item scrawled by a writing utensil with a questioning hand rendering a once blank, obsolete space fatal and dangerous within seconds. Seconds that could alter the world. The papers within my cotton knapsack were probably concerning the Elf Revolt. The dirtiest, most vile jobs are given to the elves. But, that is their lot in life. I should not ponder such matters. My duty is to deliver the message, not question its content. Questioning leads to job destruction and it’s just paper, after all.

                  

           The ground is familiar with its soil texture and random pebbles every now and again. But, the trees were peculiar today. Their shadows seem to stalk me like prey, unlike their usual guiding warmth. Anyhow, the fairies pollinate the trees and flowers. Spring is approaching. Plus, imagination is apt to toy with one’s mind when a task is repeated like an endless melody in a common tune. The sun appears to be lowering. But, the path takes exactly two days. Today is the second day, I daresay. My destination should have been reached. The surroundings say I have a good 4-5 hours to go and the stars are unwelcomed; yet dominating the sky.  I have no choice, but to sleep. Sleep and not ponder too long on the unforeseen oddity. But, I’ve traveled the path all my life with my grandparents and parents and now, it’s changed.

 

           Hopefully, today shall introduce some normalcy. But, it’s dark, damp, and the ground I woke on is not the ground I slept on. It’s rock not soil, rock like a tunnel or a cave. In a crevice, a wax candle illuminates the face of an elderly, female elf. Her eyes spoke of a thousand sorrows and this instant, too, was a sorrow. “Give me the paper, you shall see, one has nothing to fear in old age, when death is welcomed.”, the woman declared.

            “No, no. This paper contains my life and it’s my duty to give it to the emperor unread.”, the candle lowered, as I spoke to reveal a lion. Lions were known for one thing: war. Trained and disciplined for nations not individuality nor themselves. But, this lion possessed a scar that ran across its forehead and down a space an eye ought to be and a once flowing youthful mane was tinted grey.  His eyes roared with an intensity that saw a goal not in battle any longer, but in something deeper like justice and equality in any cost.

           

          “Death or the paper.”, the lion commanded with one claw against my thin throat to the stone wall. The elf looked away painfully. The lion roared, “Your grandchildren and their grandchildren, you know they rebutted your pleas with threats.” His one eye gave a message few were willing to ignore and none lived who did ignore it. “Here’s the paper, just take it.”, no choice and my whole life destroyed. Tears flowed freely, as the lion placed the paper into the flame of the wax candle. Who knew a wax candle would destroy my life?

 

                 “You shall go now, your decision was wise and helped our plight. May your assistance give your soul flight.”, the elf said, as the lion escorted me through a series of passages leading into the open space of the meadow. Flight?! Oh, flight never will be seen my soul. Sufferings shall be all it can see. My soul was burnt with that paper containing my destiny. All I’ve ever known up in flames. I can not return to my old life, no one will hire a betrayer of the emperor. No one will accept a threat upon society.  I will wander aimlessly. I’ll travel somewhere I’ve never been, different and untouched by my feet. Meet beings barely touched by the curse of life’s complexities in the areas under populated with little outside influence. Oh, darkness approaches yet again. Darkness is all I feel so why sleep, because the pattern has progressed into night? Hell, I have no  letter to keep or loss of life to fear.  Time quickly passes in my agony. My footing is lost in the process. Solid rock ground until I reach a space and stumble into nearly oblivion. But, the empty worn, cotton knapsack caught a branch and oblivion was not met. Perhaps, my corpse shall dangle and all shall assume the letter fell into that oblivion. Oh, then my reputation, my duty, my life had honor and meaning. But, not much time passed before, a beast ruined such a grand illusion.

 

           I did not want help nor need it, especially not from such a creature. My death would be torturous with such a creature. What even is it? I don’t recognize such a thing in all my years of traveling. The wings of a dragon, the ears of a bunny, horn of a unicorn, trunk of an elephant, a lion’s tail, a horse’s hooves, and that dreadful horrid color of nothingness. Every being has a color and an identity, but not this beast.  Even if life were to enter my mind again, I would not in all the world want to live through what this would inflict upon me. Hopefully, my heart will implode inside my chest with such an impossible pulse.  Radiating out of each strand of fur was an aura of every color imaginable swirling in and about each other like water flowing with the intense sensitivity to each strands’ movement. The eyes are empty like they possessed no individual soul. They reflected the surroundings back like a mirror, a mirror, mirrors with no individual identity, no meaning, no life, no soul. If something with a soul could perform atrocities, imagine the damage this beast could impose on me. Perhaps, the beast is from the stars and possesses its identity.  “What are you?”, if I can discover an identity, perhaps I shall feel some peace, even if it’s false. “No, no, don’t you touch me, first tell me what you are.”, I shall die, oh I shall die. I can’t even decipher a gender or an origin. How can an empty being radiate color? Reason is gone. I contorted my body into a ball to die without the sight of how I shall die. My pleas are nothing to something without a soul, it won’t even answer my question before death.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                           

                The beast thrust me into the air leaving me stranded upon its back. The fur was luscious and engulfing, even against my filthy feathers. The colors swirled in and out of each other, but I could not feel them, they were like water. Water without feeling. “What are you?”, I inquired, perhaps the beast does not speak. “WHO are you?”, the mouth spoke I didn’t think could. “A bird, of course.”, such a ludicrous inquiry. Gently, the beast placed me on the grass.

 

         “That is what you are. Of course, you are a bird. Oh, a bird, So limited and refined in a word and a category, I asked who are you”, it never answered my question. “What are you?”, I pushed trembling.

 

             “What am I? You suppose, I, too, shall limit myself. Your words overflow with folly. You quiver and shake in fear at someone who saved your life.”,  the beast searched my eyes. “I don’t know what you are.”, I answered back.

            

           “Well, you don’t know who you are, I believe that is more frightening.”, the beast responded and left leaving me searching for who I was.  I shall never see it again. That beast was everything and nothing, it permitted everything to flow through it and gave back everything in return like water and a stream. The identity was never obtained for I do not think the beast possessed one. It saved me in more than one way. It’s being thrust my eyes open beyond what I was. Who I was is certainly a more frightening question to thrust myself into. Those eyes like a shallow puddle reflecting myself leading to the beginning of a new journey.

 

A Tree’s Swing

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            The world is an interesting place. I appreciate the soft cool grass beneath my feet and that tree. The tree with its intertwining branches and its beckoning hope gives way to my optimism. The roots peek through the dirt offering an engaging pattern for my toes. I start college soon again. My parents are loving. You know the stereotypical “Honey, I’ll give you the world because I love you that much.” parents. Perfect parents who care nothing more than to see me succeed. I’ve been grateful for them. They paid for my opportunity. I don’t mean to brag it’s just I am aware not all of my high school friends were left as lucky as I. I am lucky. I didn’t earn nor not earn what I have today at this given moment. I just had to be myself. My parents paved the way. Just as a swift push on the swing attached to the branch above will ease me into sweet oblivion as the breeze brushes against my hair.  They were that swift push.  Swift pushes I hoped to achieve for the world to equal out how high someone so young can fly. Through a few years in Peace Corps, I should be thoroughly prepared to teach an inner city school. I want the world to know I care. I want to not wear my false t-shirts claiming I care about homelessness, but I want to clean the puke from the sick and wash the feet of the shoeless.

 

               I see the world. It screams of injustice. I have the opportunity to change that one step at a time.  I was put in a position to make the world pivot about my goals.

             “Jenny how was your summer?”, I inquire to the little girl I’ve been tutoring since the start of college for a volunteer opportunity. Her hair whispers about her face. Her innocence seems dissipated in a sense.

            She cowers back a bit and whimpers, “It was okay.”

            “Honey, you know me. What’s wrong?”, her eyes are becoming detached and her tears trickle down her soft, untouched skin.

             “No, no. It’s okay, no need to talk about it. Want to come hang out at the tree swing after tutoring? I can call your parents.”, she is well dressed. Her hair is settled in a styled mess upon the top of her head like the models in a magazine with a dress loosely flowing around her. I know her parents. Was there a family death? I’m sure I can coax such painful information out of someone I’ve helped for a few years. She trusts me. Gaining trust is crucial in helping people; they realize you are there for them, not to betray something so fragile.

            “I’ll come to the tree swing.” , her lips say but her face conveys avoidance from something. I can’t quite put my finger on it. I call her parents and ask permission. I finish her tutoring and she slowly distraughtly tags along as we work our way up to my house. Little Jenny is here, but not. I love her like a little sister. What could be so bothersome she couldn’t tell me? Her feelings all bottled up and wanting an escape. I’m that escape! Yes, I will cry with her as she leans against my weak shoulder. But, I, too, am weak. But, weakness together doesn’t cause more weakness; it gives a human bonding that can lift together above the inward pain. She gently approaches the swing without the slightest inclination to smile. Space will give her room to grow like this tree was given room to grow with its dancing greens. I push her gently to coast through the air with ease. Physically, I am successful for dear Jenny. But, her face hides the tears that slowly fall and she withdraws more as each push goes. Silently, I walk her back to her house not knowing what to say. But, the look on her face increasingly becomes more pained. I knock on the door and her parents accept her willing fully just as mine accepted. They hug her with kind eyes and open arms.  Nothing is wrong, perhaps some bullying at school that will hopefully quickly end. I talk to her teacher.

            Her teacher is aware now to beware of bullying. But, she claims it does not prevail in her classroom. I walk down the road to campus from home. I’ll do whatever I can to help people and my grades are just the beginning of a long journey. Mouths will be fed, children will be clothed, women will be given education, and the sun will not miss a face. The tree spreads its oxygen. I am a tree. The branches I do not need will be shed with the storm. Jenny will be happier today I am positive.

            “Ms. Monk, may I come to your swing today?”, thank God she’s showing improvement.             “Of course.”, I reply. I am so glad she is more cheerful perhaps some bullying got put at rest. We walk to the swing, the tree smiles at our familiar faces almost. “Time to go home, honey.”, her eyes are tearing up again. What happened? Why an instant change? I made so much improvement. But, now it’s gone in one second.

            “Please let me stay with you.”, I look at her with sadness. She can’t stay with me. Why would she ask such a question?  She must miss her parents. Her loving adoring parents. The closer we approached her house the quicker the tears came one after another. No no, don’t feel pain. This isn’t how it works. I helped her. She accepted it. The bullying ceased. “Keep me safe.”, she whimpered barely audible above a cricket.

            “I will I’m returning you home, safe to your parents.”, she stopped mid step. The truth came out. It can’t be she is so innocent, so sweet, kind, and young. Why? How? I can’t stand it. No, she will not return home. She will be helped. The doors of opportunity have been shut for love once and opened for hatred. But, it will be the first and last time. Not my Jenny, never my Jenny. “Don’t worry.” I must remain strong and she placed her hand within mine. A sign of trust, which, shows, I will help her. The soft, sweet flesh accepts mine. The world still shines for her and I will not let the candle burn out so quickly for Jenny. But, the scene quickly unfolded once I called the police. Jenny wouldn’t speak against her parents. She sat there denying every word she told me I repeated. The bruise on her knee her parents placed upon me. No, it was not I. Ugh, what is that? I am dizzy and my lunch wind up at the officer’s feet. I’d never endanger her, my intentions are pure, and her parents don’t deserve the dirt, which they walk on. But, they hold prestige. Prestige got them Jenny’s life and innocence. No one will never hear her pleas because she falsely admitted to lying this once. Her parents cleverly claim I must be under some distress due to college and will not press charges as long as their “dear daughter never see my harmful presence again.” I am not harmful. I am helpful. She’ll be placed in that situation forever. Her little knee is bruised neither from a swing nor an innocent tree of life. I played in that swing in that tree all my childhood and the moss strategically catches a fall.  Helpless. Corrupt. Ugly. Dark.

            Don’t you see the darkness? It echoes from the atoms within everything. Nothing is fair nor will it ever be. Caring alone will not change the world. Why buy books when the drugs of the world can cancel out the darkness with a shot? “Give me the best stuff you got.”, there goes my book money. “Odd customer, ha-ha.” I am nothing more than what everyone else is a contributor to the already prevalent evil. Evil that won’t be eliminated. My veins reflect the needle. It feels so good. I need it. I need it to escape. I can’t be an escape. But, I can buy one.  In, out, relax, block out, reality gone, a high. The intense sensation creeps up through your spine and goes into your brain. You can feel the happiness you never knew existed. Oh, that tree is beautiful. The stash gleams in the daylight and it offers an eraser for the evils of the world. Those roots that keep your feet from touching the ground offer the perfect hole for a hiding place. The veins don’t resist. It’s almost like humanity was built to eliminate pain with the press of a button. The syringe is so helpful. Jenny is nothing more than a faint memory that creeps upon my soul. Telling me her tale and rejecting my help for the love she wasn’t given. But, that ghost is gone with some liquid angel. Day in and day out. Who needs college with something so nice can surge through one’s blood? The colors swirl about like a rainbow and the reality fades into my fantasy and dreams of nothingness. I love heroin. Heroin offers me true love.

            “We love you, honey. Here’s an intervention specialist. If you accept help now, we can offer you college again. You still have chance for a future.”, my dad tells me. He cries. Guilt trip much? If he cared, he would have destroyed me sooner than let my dreams fall from a mountain than a hill. My mom’s eyes try to help her fade into oblivion and nothingness. She can’t talk her voice cracks when she opens her mouth nor is able to look at me. I see her eyes; they are with that sadness that burns in the chest. I can feel it. I need heroin. I need a needle. No, look at their eyes. I’m inflicting pain. Not me, never me, I want to help. Look at them, longing to help me as I tried to help Jenny. I can give them the opportunity I never had. The intervention specialist looks at me with eyes that say this is my job, but I’ve seen it all before please don’t fail your family. Ok, I can get over heroin just as quickly as the needle pierces the skin. For them. For those eyes feeling the weight of a punch upon their stomach enough to see the world spin and crumble. It hurts. They blame themselves just as I blame myself.

            My first night and my skin shakes all over. I need the needle. The pain is too great. My head hurts and my eyes can’t welcome sleep. Ah, the night is too long. I can do it for my family. They don’t know where the needle is. No, I know their pain and where it burns. How it’s branded like a hot iron upon their soul. Their eyes look hopeful. I’m giving hope I took away. The world pivots about my goals. My skin is crawling with anticipation for the next needle. My arm’s veins are bulging out of my skin. What have I done to myself and my family? I can do it, I can change things. I have control. I am in control. But, my skin tingles about like the bugs creep about my blood. Maybe, it’s an itch. Scratch, scratch, it won’t stop. What is Jenny doing? Getting beat about? Oh, Jenny. So innocent, nothing will change if someone so sweet can’t be protected. Stop itching! The bugs will not stop. Oh God, it’s cold. I need to cease the pain for them for me. I need to cease the pain once and for all. Once swift push. One swift push, it’ll be gone forever. Forever into the darkness. Death is the road to awe. I will be in nothingness. I want nothingness I want no more pain. Let it cease, oh let it cease. Let Jenny’s pain cease. I can’t help. Yes, I can. The tree is beautiful, the swing welcomes me, ah I am high like a little innocent girl. Push, push, push.

           “My innocent girl! WHY? I did all I could. I will never forgive myself.”, my mother said the world’s darkness circled engulfed me and her, and my arm mangled where the veins were so wondrously clear at one time.