Tag Archives: love

Just letting You Know

21 May

Just letting you know I’ve washed the thought of you down with down with leftover birthday cake vodka while lying on the floor of my room with a blanket full of sorrows. I wasn’t celebrating shit but you know it goes trying to get through life without a crutch. Bad times call for a get together minus the actual party because you’d need friends for that. I wanna know if you still stare at the moon pretending it’s a pearl you want to pluck out of the sky for me because I swear I won’t fall back to earth. I’m slurring my words and crying to myself at 4:00 am about the same boy, the whirlwind that swept me off my feet. I’m sprawled out staring at the ceiling and there’s screaming SIKE WRONG TURN AHEAD. Fuck, I write about boys like I actually get any when literally I’ve been in love as many times as I can count on my hand. Just please don’t hook pinky fingers with mine and promise forever because I believe in stars  falling out of the sky leaving me with a pitch black hole in my chest when you walk away. I believe in roses kissed at by dew at 4:00 am. He’s my tsunami boy creating waves in my heart, the choppy kind like phone calls late at night. We compare lovers to the weather because they are unpredictable. I want to know is he the sun because my head spins circles around this boy. Most of all I want to sleep at night and not hear the rustling of the trees outside my window because they remind me of crumpling paper and me writing a boy I’m trying to forget back into existence.

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Right From Wrong.

11 Nov

“This is wrong.” I thought I had purged my mind of my mother’s voice, yet her strident tones still echoed through my brain, muffled but not silenced. At 14 a fuse had been ignited, my mind tented like the Petersons’ house last spring, but the chemical I used was 14 years of commands coupled with scattered Christian infomercial perspective.

Brush your teeth, clean your room, go to bed, and other orders ingrained in my head during my childhood had ceased to resound through my skull, yet one phrase remained, preserved.

“This is wrong.”

Wrong means bad. Wrong means red X’s scattered across your test like caustic confetti. Wrong means the hellfires of damnation, which I stopped believing in (along with God and heaven), but which still have the power to frighten me, like the chainsaw-wielding villain I saw on TV when I was six, who I knew wasn’t real, but was really cackling manically before me every time I shut my eyes.

“This is wrong.”

SHUT UP!

Wrong is the look of pain and confusion in the eyes of the boy who slipped a note through my window at five in the morning because he wanted me to know he was thinking about me, who sat through 10 showings of Harry Potter the day after my grandmother died because even though neither of us liked the movie, for one moment Maggie Smith’s mouth tips up to one side just like Gram’s did and I knew I wouldn’t be able to stop grieving until I could watch that with a smile instead of a sob.

Pain and confusion cover his face. Pain facing rejection, confusion as he feels my body tense, my hands shift restlessly, everything moving with want, yet held back by something he cannot hear. How can a mere whisper contain me? Reins to yank back my body, a bit to prevent explanation to the troubled eyes before me, yet no blinders to spare me the sight of the darkness clouding his face.

“This is wrong.”

A gradual change, imperceptible to the unperceptive, a change in lilt, in tone, in meaning.

A silenced tongue is wrong, not the feelings it might expound if freed.

A bound body is wrong, not the movements it may make unshackled.

Cloaking an atheist in the robes of a sister is wrong.

Hurting someone who loves you is wrong.

The words have not changed; my conscience is preserved, the influence destroyed.

This is right.

Obsessed.

11 Nov

A thin stream of light has poked through my curtains, its straight path cutting across my face. I sit up groggily, glancing at my clock. 6:43. Six plus four plus three.Thirteen. It’s going to be a long day.

I stumble into the bathroom, locking the door behind me. My little brothers have yet to learn the fine art of knocking. I jiggle the handle, opening the lock,and then lock it again. I do that a few more times, just to be sure. I pick up my toothbrush and carefully apply toothpaste. One, two, three drops. Three is a good number. Three is safe. The third drop slides off the bristles and lands in the sink. Sighing, I rinse the toothbrush in hot water and start over. One, two, three.

I’m late to school again. A brother touched my glass of orange juice, the side of his fist rubbing against it as he reached for a napkin. My mother begged me with her sad brown eyes to ignore it. I didn’t look at her as I poured the full glass into the sink.

I spin the lock on my locker one, two, three times before opening. Carefully, I arrange my books in height order, facing the same way. My jacket drapes over my algebra textbook. I readjust it, only to find it rubbing corners with Shakespeare. The bell rings and everyone around me rushes to class. Move to follow, then stop, as if tethered by a leash. Resigned, I turn back to my jacket.

Math is first period. The teacher gives me disapproving look as I slink into my seat, ten minutes late. He hands me a test, making it clear that I will not receive any extra time. I study the first problem: 2x + 3 = 25. I know the answer without even needing to consult my calculator. X = 11. My hand hovers over the paper, my pencil shaking. Eleven. Eleven is cold. Eleven is dangerous. I write down 12. My heart stops pounding. Twelve can be divided by three, 12 is safe.

We have a new student teacher in English. She’s beautiful, with soft brown skin and piercing blue eyes. Her hair is short and curly, pushed back with a headband, the sort of thing that makes most people look babyish. On her, it looks funky and professional at the same time. She writes her name in loopy cursive on the board.Miss Johnson. I close my eyes and imagine myself as she must be,carefree and confident, all her problems solved by the right pair of shoes and a double mocha grande. I wish I could leap out of my life and parachute gracefully into hers. I’d be fine landing anywhere other than where I am.

At midnight, my mom comes into my room. I am squinting at my homework rubbed raw with eraser marks. She begs me to turn off the lights and go to sleep but the letters won’t let me.The bottoms of seven R’s dip beneath the soft blue line, and none of the T’s seem to be crossed in the center. Reaching in my drawer for a new eraser, I get back to work.

The next day I hurry to get to English early, securing a seat in the front row center. I breathe a sigh of relief that Miss Johnson is still there. Good things usually tend to slip through my fingers. I knock three times on my desk. I see that my mind has not done much to fabricate the woman I spent most of last night thinking about. Smiling, she starts writing notes on the blackboard. I try to keep up, but the O’s keep bumping into the P’s, so I put my pencil down and content myself with watching her talk, attempting to commit everything to memory.

Somewhere in the middle of the lesson, Miss Johnson is done writing notes. She places the chalk on the tray, carefully aligning it with the other pieces.Largest to smallest. She reaches into her bag and pulls out a wipe,furiously scrubbing chalk from the creases of her large hands. Although no on else notices, my shock blazes in strobe lights flashing above my desk. Her blue eyes see me staring. They also see my pencils, lined up perfectly. Largest to smallest. They see the way my hands are rubbed raw, like hers. At the end of class she pulls me aside.

“I’m here when you’re ready,” she says.I rush away without saying a word. Maybe she knows. I knock three times on the door frame. Maybe not.

I am supposed to be babysitting,“supposed” being the operative word. Everything was going fine until a brother threw up. He looked so pale and helpless as he sat there crying. I am his big sister. He needs me to take care of him. Haven’t left the shower in an hour and a half.

My mom doesn’t yell at me. She comes home and surveys the situation,which includes brothers sleeping in their clothes in front of the TV,and a mess fermenting in the kitchen. I am still in the shower. When I finally emerge, she just looks at me with those sad, tired brown eyes. I shake my head, and she leaves.

Now I am in English, hiding in the back row. Miss Johnson doesn’t have sad brown eyes. Hers are a strong blue. An understanding blue? I stare at my desk, afraid to find out.

The math teacher called today. My mother doesn’t understand how I can be failing math. I used to be the star student. I tell her it’s a difficult topic. She tells me I’m a difficult student. A dam inside of me breaks and suddenly I am crying,telling her that she’s the worst mother ever. I rant about her leaving me with the brothers. About how she won’t buy me a cellphone. About how I can’t have my own TV and am forced to wait for“Power Rangers” to end to watch my shows. I don’t mention why she never asks me why I’m like this. It doesn’t even cross my mind to ask her why she hasn’t done anything to help.

I have been thinking a lot about what I said to my mom. I’ve been thinking even more about what I didn’t say. I didn’t sleep all night. My room has never been cleaner. I must have napped for a while in the morning, though, because I open my eyes and it’s 6:21. Six plus two plus one. Nine. There is no stronger number. I know what I have to do.

Today in English I can hardly stop fidgeting. I rap my desk in intervals of three, but even the divine number seems to have lost some of its power. The bell rings and I walkover to Miss Johnson, then abruptly change direction and start toward the door. No, I can no longer deny I need help. Gathering all my courage, I walk to her. She senses what I am about to do and puts down her book. For a moment I look into her eyes. There’s no mistaking that there is anything there besides understanding. They welcome me.It’s usually hard for me to find things to say, but she has already given me my parachute. She smiles. I find myself smiling back.

“I’m ready,” I say.

Dating Is For Humans.

11 Apr

Slouching in the sticky seat tattered from countless moviegoers, I am aware of my incredible luck. Trying to preserve every second of this moment, I almost bounce out of my seat as I scan the theater, then check to make sure I have not disturbed her. I attempt to still my arms from any telling tremors as I reach for my soda. The screen darkens, bringing ads that announce their products with a cacophony of lights and sounds that dazzle my eyes and set my ears ringing, yet, oblivious to these sirens’ calls, my thoughts turn inward. With pounding heart and sweating palms, my arm reaches over to grab some popcorn, as if the familiarity of the gesture will make things normal and set me at ease. Yet, as if to mock my wishes, my stomach lurches, warning me that anything going down right now will most likely come right back up.

It was sixth period. I sat in my seat, morosely sketching bad copies of my rejections on the geometry warm-up. My dismal humor took great delight in parading images of failure past my mind’s eye. I relived all the humiliating episodes as I put them to paper: asking Amy to the homecoming dance and Tami to a football game; inviting Becky, and failing that, Ruth, to the movies; offering to take Pam out shopping; nearly pleading for Madeleine to hang out at the mall with me. With that last effort, my grand total of depressing attempts had reached half a dozen. Why was dating impossible for me? Couples were ubiquitous. The unattached were all popular, attractive, or in-between significant others. They did not seem to mind being single. I did.

Was I out of place? Did a cosmic mishap deliver me to the wrong planet? I had always listened to classical while everyone around me jammed to rap or hard rock. I read romance novels and science fiction to the consternation of my friends and classmates. Not one to socialize in class, I felt no connection with the rest of the world. Was there none? The infamous “they” always said that “everyone dates in time,” but I did not believe it. Dating was for humans, for me there was nothing but a cold and lonely orbit around them. I knew better than to expect a happy ending to my story even though I wanted to believe I was special. What did “they” know, anyway?

The bell rang, signaling all good little boys and girls to take their seats and feign attention. As if to mock that facade of perfection, I heard the expected sound of Sarah’s hurried footsteps. She rushed in and collapsed into her seat under the scowl of our math teacher. Unrepentant, her eyes glowed with secrets. I wondered what drove her to mock our teacher. Looking over at me, she noticed my drooping head, how it seemed to hang under the weight of heavy thoughts. My face, though hidden from her sight by a supporting hand, reflected my misery.

For the first few minutes of class, I could feel Sarah watching me. Out of the corner of my eye, I saw her begin to fidget, swinging her head between the teacher and the with the regularity of a metronome. Knowing Sarah as I did, that could mean only one thing. I had become her new subject, to be poked and prodded until I relinquished all secrets, only to be discarded in the wake of another’s misery. Although little time had passed, she could take no more (or perhaps her neck had begun to hurt) and when the teacher turned to write something on the board, she hissed, “Hey.” I did not respond, “Hey, Tom! What happened? What’s wrong?”

I did not answer. Foolishly, I hoped that if I postponed the inevitable, maybe some lucky happenstance would save me from her clutches. But I was cornered. She began a lightning-quick barrage of questions about all manner of things that I would rather not discuss. They pounded against my ears like hail whenever the teacher turned her head. As the period ended, my ears were smarting and red; with an explosive sigh, I caved in and told her of my failure to date a girl. While we walked to our seventh-period class, I reflected sourly on my uncertain citizenship.

As much as I hoped telling her my troubled thoughts would end her interest and allow me to go back to the comforting obscurity of corner seats and back hallways, she was not content to leave me to my misery. She dogged my footsteps and transformed my welcoming corners to trapping corners in an attempt to fix the problem, fix me. She suggested friends of hers, friends of mine, even strangers to us both.

It became our daily ritual. From the moment she rushed in late to sixth period to that liberating bell at the end of the day, I would meet each suggestion with furious vigor and ironclad determination. However, she had been a general in this kind of war far longer than I and was willing to let me squander my energies. She was right. As my passion waned and my arguments began to lose their force, I saw a wicked triumph in her eyes. Every name wore at my defenses. Years in the making, they were toppled in a few short weeks.

Then came a day when I was slow to offer a denial. Sarah had mentioned Amber, a girl who nearly carried me through biology last year, and to whom I was returning the favor in English this year. She was smarter than most, had a dry, ironic wit, and was attractive in a quiet sort of way. My traitorous mind staged a slideshow: Amber and me laughing at the teacher, Amber and me discussing the merits of different authors, Amber and me sharing a fancy for comedies … was I actually considering it? Why had I never before? Sarah jumped at the opportunity, her eyes manipulating the wheels in my mind, rolling them off the beaten path and into new and unsettling territory. Just as she was about to finish me off, Mrs. Morgan passed out our weekly math quiz. She gave me a look that said, “This isn’t over,” and I knew she was right. While all the good little boys and girls were taking their quizzes, my mind was working to reconcile myself with the idea of asking out Amber. If I failed, it might ruin our friendship, which I treasured, as it was one of the few in my life.

My teacher would be confused upon seeing my quiz, for I had answered every question with the word Amber.

Just as I expected, the moment the quiz was over, Sarah looked over at me. Gathering herself, she went straight for the kill.

“I could ask her for you. You know, if you’re too wussy!”

“No!” I shouted, the words tearing themselves from my throat. I had not expected her to be so direct. “No! I’ll do it. Just leave me alone!” I was amazed at my vehemence.

“A-hem!”

We sheepishly glanced over to Mrs. Morgan, and, after a quick apology, pretended to pay attention. For the rest of class, I tried to work up my courage. I now had a goal; all I needed was a plan and the will to see it through.

Later that day, as if a guardian angel were looking out for me, I happened to run into Amber on the way to the bus. Taking a deep breath and puffing out my chest, I told myself to say something before my fears could sabotage my resolve. After a brief hello and some shouted small talk as we dodged in and out of human traffic, my mind went blank. In the packed main hall, only a few feet from the exit, my brain coughed and I asked if she wanted to see the new Star Trek movie. She was somewhat confused and asked with a laugh if I meant Star Wars. Completely mortified, wanting to run and wishing I had brought my hat so I could disappear into the crowd, I nodded mutely and waited, my eyes riveted to her face. I searched for some hint of the reaction I so desperately desired. I was holding my breath as we pushed through the double doors to the front of the school and my fate.

“Yeah, that’d be nice. How about we go Friday after school? Just find the times and we’ll talk tomorrow. Bye now!” Amber called over her shoulder as she rushed to the bus.

Now halfway through the movie, I have controlled my tremors, and my breathing is returning to a more relaxed rhythm. The movie is interesting, now that I am actually watching it. I look around for what feels like the first time, and everything is in the proper place. People are focused on the movie, no one is staring at me; in fact, it is as if I blend right in. I loosen my clenched fists and settle somewhat more comfortably into my seat, one of hundreds, identical on the surface but each with its own story written in melted chocolate and soda stains. Everything has gone right so far, but I try to contain a feeling of overconfidence. My mouth opens to say something but I look over to her and the words just fade away.

Her face gleams with reflected light from the movie, and she seems different from when she was just my friend. It is as if an aura surrounds her, making her features seem more real, sharper. I shut my eyes and I can still see her; that aura gently tugs me, willing me closer. She laughs, and I hear bells ringing, awakening the butterflies in my stomach. I want to reach my arm over her shoulder but the thought terrifies me. What would Sarah think of me now? Getting so close, yet too wussy to make it definite. I reach my arm over her shoulder, tentatively, and breathe a sigh of relief when she does not pull away.

My shirt.

2 Apr

Love. It’s a simple but overused word. I love you. I love this song! I absolutely loved that movie! The word doesn’t mean much anymore, not to most. Some people scoff at it. We throw it around like a used shirt, wearing it because it’s comfortable, safe, and secure, but never truly understanding why we have it. We lend it out, forget about it, and years later, we think, “Hey, I really liked that shirt.”

But do we care? No. It’s probably gone now, thrown away because of a rip or sold for $3 at a garage sale. We forget; it doesn’t matter after that.

Then we see the world fall apart. From the safety of our living rooms we watch amateur video on the news or Internet, and sometimes we feel so helpless and alone we’re not sure what to do. We cry for the inhumanity, scream for the injustice, and wonder why the world is this way. We think we can change the world; we know we want to help those who need it most … then we remember that T-shirt we threw out years ago.

We want it back; we fight and scramble for it. We go out and buy new shirts, try them on, but none seems to fit. We’ve lost it – we’ve lost love. We are unnerved for a bit; we sit alone and beat ourselves up for letting it go. Then we just we shrug it off. We say, “I’ll do it later” or “I’m too busy.” I’m guilty of it too: “I don’t have the right resources” or “I’m too young” or “No one will care.” And it seems as if no one does. With high school students only bent on the next party or who’s dating whom, you wonder if, in the end, their shirts were ever worn.

Is my generation going to save the world? We try, a small group of us, but our shirts are faded among the bright colors of greed and the everyday and the wanting. We are pushed into the background. We try to push our way through the crowds, and we truly wonder: where has the love gone?

I don’t want my love to fade; though my shirt is tattered and worn, I wear it daily. I am honest and open, and when I say that simple, dead, four-letter word, I mean it. I know I’ve made mistakes with it in the past and I almost threw my shirt away; I carry it carefully now. It’s close to my heart, where it’s meant to be. I do lend it out every once in a while – I let those who need it try it on and feel the safety that I feel. I leave them pieces when I go, but my shirt never seems to tear. It stays just as simple as it ever was.

When the time comes, I will stand alone in this world and stare into the eyes of those with the shirts of greed and want and lust, and I will know that even though mine is not the most beautiful shirt in the crowd, it’s among the best.