Catalyst - The first time he saw her she had dirt smeared across her cheek, pale pink dress covered in October leaves, her hair all bright and chaotic around her face like a halo. She smiled her gratitude once he licked his thumb and rid of her stain, tiny palm reached out asking for a handshake. He didn’t know her name, but she had the kind of smile that no one could lie to. He ran off with no words and disappeared behind a big white door, leaving her big eyes and confused. His new neighbor was going to be the end of him.
When he was ten years and eleven months old, he witnessed his first tropical storm. He jolted up on his bed, resisting urge to run into his mother’s arm when a tree had crashed into electric poles outside his bedroom, sparks flying and his house went dark like the rest of the neighborhood. She was in third grade. She stared at him across his window, yellow beam of her flashlight caught his eyes as she waved it around. She wrote on a paper and pushed it against the glass. He squinted to read her weird looking handwriting. Are you afraid? - she wrote. He huffed, what kind of question is that? Of course he’s afraid. He hated darkness; but she did not know that. God, she cannot know that. So he shrugged nonchalantly. He watched her writing another note - I’m scared too - Suddenly, he felt a whole lot better.
When he finally got her to understand the meaning of ‘no’, he wished she hadn’t cried in front of him. “I just want to make it pretty,” she said. But you see, ‘pretty’ was not what he wanted on his surf board. ‘Pretty’ would not win him a competition or bring home prize money. ‘Pretty’ is only for girls. “Quit buggin’ me or I’ll tell your dad you used his car last night,” he threatened, eyes never left his hand full of wax, scrubbing his board back and forth. “But I have acrylic paint. I just bought them yesterday. Please, let me draw on it?” she tried again. He shot her a look and she must knew that was the end of it. So she gathered her brushes, wiped away her tears and marched back to her backyard.
When she turned seventeen he came by her house at midnight, hours had passed since her party died down. “You’re late,” she muttered. “Too many people,” he argued. “Where’s my present?” she asked. He felt his palm clammy, of course he knew she would ask. Before he changed his mind once again, he quickly pulled her into his arms and hugged her tightly. “Happy birthday,” he whispered into her hair. She smelled like jasmines. “Best gift ever,” she whispered back and sighed into his shirt.
On one particular summer break, she honked three times and waved ecstatically as soon as she saw him. His suitcase was no where near as full but he never owned that many shoes anyway. “Where are we going?” he asked, glaring at her. She grinned, looked way too happy with way too little words. He should have said no when she invited him last night, but seeing her devious smile and her free floating hair blown by the warm summery breeze as she accelerated her Volkswagen, window down, he thought maybe…just maybe, this was the best decision he had ever made.
There are people who like facts, information, the kinds who ask questions like, Who created the universe? or If I mix this and that, would it catch fire? or Where are we going? They move like frequency wave, you see their patterns and passages and they go so very far. There are people whose souls are scattered like sands when the wind blew, the kinds who say things like, Let’s go to Rome tomorrow! or Yes, I know that light is blinking, so what do you want me to do? Goddd! or Please, I just want to make it pretty! They die fast and are unconditionally late, no low too low, no high too high. He always knew she was a distraction, a chaos; a catalyst. She would challenge him and made him mad. He would revive and made her cry. She said left and he went right and then they argued about it for the rest of the day. Together, they were a disaster.
The first time they made love he whispered her name over and over. They were somewhere in Prague - or was it Vienna? He couldn’t care less. She sprawled on the bed below him, bright hopeful eyes and swollen lips. A droplet of sweat ran down her heaving chest, glistening under the moonlight. “I chose you,” she said, smiling again at him - that very same smile no one could lie to, no one wanted to break her heart. “Always,” She cried out his name when he bucked into the waiting universe of hers, “- always been you.“
When they returned home everything was volte-face. Life moved on, seasons changed, friends drifted apart and people grew up. His kind of people wanted things like health insurance, or to grow old together sitting on the porch sipping sweet ice tea. But he always knew, she was not his kind of people. She was the kind who believed in astrology, who wished to draw on things like surf boards and white empty walls; the ones with too much feelings and change like the wind. See, he supposed people get lost in their own different ways, some just blaze away the days. But to make her commit? Lord have mercy on those who try.
She moved away and stopped sending him letters. It was his fault, really, he never returned any of them. She said she loved him in her last one; the only one he always carried around in his wallet. But life moved on, seasons changed, friends drifted apart and people grew up.
Eight years later they met again at a train station, she was wearing another man’s ring. She wondered if he’d ever missed her. He wondered if it was all too late.
The Night Patrons
And at the bewitching hour they would start to march, roaming around the manor to seek the unexplainable. They swayed their hips and their hands moved like the waves of the ocean, twinkle of lights playing shadows in the darkest alleys. They whispered softly to the walls. They searched every corner, they knocked every door. Nothing but the deafening silence answered their call. Then suddenly, the oldest one wept, with her lantern shattered to the ground. A drop of tears glistened on her hollow cheeks.
“Why are you crying?”, the young ones pried into her sense, their perplexed eyes begged for some answers. Why are the pillars all chipped and crumbly, they also wondered. It was not long ‘til all heads finally turned, all sense finally gathered. How their manor seemed to have aged, their halls were unkempt, their gowns had faded. All the searching were meant for the years snuck up beneath their wings, for all the memories lost in a maze of 360 degree turn. Their gaze met in the air, the unspeakable were loud and clear. Then the oldest one answered, turning despair into a naked truth,
“Because we’ve been here for way too long”
L is for Lethal, not Love - The silver moonlight seeped through her curtain drapes, making silent entrance into the pitch dark room. She sat on her bed with her knees up, touching her chin. Mind wandered as he changed his sleeping position. Why did I cave in, she asked herself. After all these years she struggled to forget him. She was doing so well until last night, one single phone call and her wall shattered to the ground. She is weak. She is confused. Did he deserve her? Probably not. He was beautiful, more than everything she has ever seen. He said things like, let’s go swimming in the sky, he changed like the wind. He would find a bridge from which he would sit and watch the city roll on. Then he would point at the tallest building and said to her, “I would build that for you so we could climb up there and sit down like this”. She would ask him what they would do next, and he would tell her he would find her the next taller building to build. He thinks two steps further than everybody else.
On their first date, he drank all her whiskey, threw up all over her dress and told her he loved her. That moment she knew, he was all she ever wanted. What they had was like a glitch in the matrix, it was all rare and bizarre. But to her, it has to be rare, beautiful, and bizarre, otherwise she doesn’t want it. They were how she imagined connoisseurs to be. Days blazed into countless dusks, spent in confined rooms. Waking up too late, waking up too soon, who cares as long as the sun is still shining? They had each other, he had his way of a lover. He said when he loves someone, he’d do it in little pieces like a puzzle. When they made love, it was like an applique of interlocking souls. They could go for days, turning hunger into perpetual and sleep into an anomaly.
One day, they fought and she left. Her heart was sliced, diced, and divided into million bits, packaged, conveyed to the highest highs and lowest lows; a construction of one solid principle. The spaces between them should be appreciated, but she always hated the way he lingered, even after he was gone. Bedsheets she had to wash. Screw him, screw these last remnants of his scent. Screw the songs that all sing out his name, his face, his jet black hair. Screw him for the lost memories, they made their way home at the most convenient time. She decided, when he wakes up she would tell him their love is done, it had been, it had passed. To her, their love was like a fairytale, but you see, fairytales aren’t real. He is always two steps ahead, like he’s always been. He would break her heart once again, and this time she would never recover from the pain.
Just Like A Star - Once there was this girl whose smile as bright as the sun. Her beauty would turn your head, her innocence would melt every heart. She was told she should be a star, carrying her young mind full of hopes and dreams. She was happy as her smile never left her face. She was lonely, but even that too, she kindly embraced. She spilled her heart on an empty canvas, through every bit of the ink and every drip of the paint. She had so much love to give, not enough to get.
Soon she realized that her time has come. She needs to understand the world, to find all the answers to all her questions. No one would do it for her, everyone was alone in this cruel cruel world. There were no rules, no guidelines, or anyone telling her what to do. She ventured forward, pouring herself into the great big sky and the infinite possibilities. The open roads ahead held for her.
She walked away from those she loved, she wiped their tears as they waved goodbye. She said sorry, for the choice she made. For how she is, she was, and she has ever been. Her light dimmed just right before their eyes. But when she let go, they hugged her for the once last time. They thanked her for the joy she brings, for showing how life could be so exciting.
“As long as you keep shining, my little star, we will always find you. No matter where you are, no matter how far we’re apart. As long as we look up to the same sky,
we will be here…
and you will be there.”
Omega - The sky is cloudless, still and white. His overloaded brain forced him to escape the king sized bed with sheets made out of Egyptian cotton. He had to run away from the woman sleeping in it, but above all he had to run away from himself. He knew he should never popped that bottle open, no matter how sweet she sounded last night. No matter how thirsty he’s ever been. He paced and raced until he saw water. He inhaled, he could feel his tiny heart imploded, leaving him with nothing at all. The unfriendly morning wind blew sand into his eyes, he rubbed them but no tears came out. He said, of course, tears are only for the weaklings. But something inside him said otherwise, he felt like the ground had sunk right below his feet. He is tired of playing her games. See, she liked making up stories, when they fought and she dumped him. She would make him promise not to go look for her until she comes to him. Last night she showed up on his door with a suitcase, smeared lipstick and fiery eyes. He remembered her looking that way, exactly eleven months ago, crying on his bed. He knew what she wanted, it was like an evil game he was always lost to. The worst part is he knew he had to play it over and over, just to be broken and torn apart. Today he decided he has had enough. He is done being dumped, he is done being toyed. Today he would end it, on his term. So he raced and paced with the same speed, hands in his pockets. He smiled, finding a cold rounded metal thing inside, his thumb searched for the gem sitting arrogantly on the tip. He felt it, he found it. He is happy. For once.
The Tale of 3 Brothers - There were three brothers I once knew. If you saw them you would know why they were inseparable. Their parents were long gone, their trousers were ghastly forlorn. Food and shelter, I offered them in all modesty. Soon after I only to perceive that it was I, who was given a favor.
The youngest one were the hardest one to approach. He refused a bowl of soup I put on his table, “I want you” as he grumbled from the darkest corner of that room. It was not a request. It was an order. His ego overshadowed his frail body, his lips were chapped against mine. As I left him I began to wonder why would such a young man know how to please a woman. But nothing could leave me more puzzled than his last few words, “When the night is silent and the moon is full, beware of my brother”, before he wiped the sweat across my naked chest. Oh, how I wish I stayed longer and asked him further.
The middle one was only a man of action. He was always out in the jungle, hunting wild lives. To his wondrous skills, we had the best feast I could ever remembered. On Christmas eve I gave him my gratitude. He scoffed and said “I have taken so many lives, I forgot how guilt feels like”. I remained silent, words were left hanging. “Look at the full moon. Soon the killer must kill again”, he continued. I looked over, his dagger was still dripping blood, his rugged hand terrified me the most. I remembered what the youngest one said that night and a chill started to creep behind my back. Wherefore I fled his side, his growly voice calling out my name as I ran further and further away.
The oldest one had the brightest eyes a man could possibly possess. I saw them gleaming in the darkest night. He asked if I was ok as I tried to catch my breath. He took me inside, a warm eggnog calmed my trembling hands. “Tell me, what’s bothering you?” he rustled. Something inside me wanted to trust him. His gentle smile, his eloquent words. I told him everything. Then he paused before asking “Did you like how my brothers touched you?”. I tilted my head, unsure of what I just heard. He repeated his question with a firmer tone, he pushed me up against the wall. His kisses left wet trails on my delicate skin, my head spun, there must have been something in that eggnog. I screamed as he kept pounding; the bed was soaked, the mind was blown.
My toes curled and he sighed, he cried, I died just a little and in the afterglow, while I closed my eyes and smiled, I felt a sting on my neck. I touched it and thought how sweaty I could have been. But even in the darkest night, under the brightest eyes watching me smile, I could see my hands turned bloody red. The moonbeam lit up the tip of the blade he held above my head, it was so bright, it was so beautiful. I wanted to say something, I wanted to ask him why. I tried and tried but no voice came out. He stood up and watched me in my death bed, his eyes had turned icy cold. He wiped his blade and walked to the door. “I am the one they warned you about”. That was the last time I ever saw him. That was the last night I ever saw all of them. They left me, or I left them, I could never be sure anymore.
Life passed by like stills in a movie, like wooden boards with painted scenery, projectors flashing photographs. I laid there in silence as my vision started to depart, under the silent night and the bright moon light. There were three brothers I once knew. When I saw them I knew why they were inseparable.
Or did I?