Day to Day Writing, Flash Fiction, Short Fiction

#7 Revision

Guilt kept our apartments clean.

It was the monster that pushed me into back-breaking labour; the frenzy that possessed me to keep scrubbing until our little cave reeked of bleach and disinfectant. Our cat yowled scathingly, perched on top of my bookshelf, watching me from afar.

It never calmed my guilt – the routine just buried it. My guilt was insurmountable – a Goliath I could never keep quiet. It walked with me every step I took, and sat on my shoulders until the burden kept me from ever being able to look anybody else in the eye, because I was no longer upright. I forgot how to detach myself from it; it is always inside me, at the forefront, right smack in the middle, centre stage, hidden by layers and layers of masks I’ve learned to put on through the years, until  I’ve forgotten where polyester ends, and my skin begins.

I can pinpoint exact moments in the life we once shared together where we made wrong decisions. We wasted so much of our youth. An entire decade of missteps and dead ends.

That one sunny afternoon when I was curled up beside the dormitory phone, legs tucked underneath me, you said, “This is what you wanted, right? It’s better this way, right?” Your yearning for my approval came through more clearly than your voice fighting static over the phone.

Kneeling over you in the hallway of your mother’s house, while you tied your shoes, and you looked up at me and whispered so your family won’t   hear, “You don’t think I feel bad about this? Don’t you realize how bad this makes me feel?”

Waiting for you in a coffee shop in the frozen tundra that was Mississauga, sipping on on watery, tasteless coffee I spent our last $2 on, and everything we ever owned packed inside a single suitcase I kept beside me, everything depending on this one job interview, and you came into the cafe, with a grin on your face, sat down in front of me and said, “Got it,” and I immediately burst into grateful tears.

Lying down in an empty apartment I was so proud of, dazed and confused, looking at my laptop with ever widening eyes and mumbling, “It was today.” “WHAT,” you jumped in from the kitchen, your pupils as wide as the sun – “It was today,” I repeated, sinking, “I missed it. I fucking missed it.”

Rolling a joint while the television blared, and I looked at you and said accusingly, “You haven’t gone home in days.” And you smiled back and said, “That’s because I live here now.” – “About fucking time you admit it.” – “This is what you wanted, right? It’s better this way, right?” “Yes,” I said, my heart in the palm of your hands, “Much better.”

Clutching each other on a single bed, trapped inside a room for days, and half-teasingly, half-threateningly joking about the landlord that was waiting for us outside the apartment for not having paid rent.

“Don’t be like that,” she said, her hand extended, about to reel me in for an embrace, “I’m your neighbour now. You HAVE to say hi. You can’t avoid me forever you know.”

“Where were you?” I hissed from our room. “Upstairs,” you said, avoiding my deathly glare. “It’s our FUCKING anniversary.” – “I know, I know, but you know how they get – it’s hard to get away”. I threw a pillow your way. You dodged it as smoothly as you held my hand on so many of our lazy afternoons – “If you fucking cared enough, you would have come home!”

Leading me through the frozen lake, our skates ripping on ice, stars never shone as bright as they ever did for us in Port Credit, and you said, “We got it all figured out, you know. This kind of thing doesn’t just happen twice.”

You opened your eyes to my worried face towering over you, shaking, our vicious argument forgotten, and you reached out and held on to my shoulder, like a frightened child and said, your voice trembling, “what happened? Oh god, what happened?”

Sitting across from me in the hospital, cradling hands, smiling awkwardly at each other, and you said, “Things are going to work out. It’s going to change. Things will get better. Promise you won’t give up yet.” – “Okay. I promise.”

Standing by the front door, your hand gripping the doorknob, half-facing me, half-turned away, and  you said, “This is all because of you. Because of a stupid decision you made that changed our lives. We had it good, you know, it wasn’t perfect but it was good! Why couldn’t you have just been happy?” – “You said things would change. You’ve been saying the same shit for 10 years! 10 years! I’m not waiting another 10 years just hoping things would change.”

“Well, I would’ve,” you said, opening the door for the last time, “I would’ve waited forever.”

Standard
Day to Day Writing, Short Fiction, Uncategorized

#2 Epistolary

My love,

When I was young, my mother bought me a dress to wear to church. She thought it was beautiful. I hated it with passion. When we got home, I ran to our backyard, tore the thing off in half, made it into a cape, climbed the roof, yelled that I was Superman and jumped.

I think even then, deep inside, I knew that my self-made cape would not keep me afloat, but I jumped anyway – because I felt invincible – because I felt hopeful – because I was so sure, as sure as I knew that I would hit the ground – that the pain that would come from that fall, would be worth it.

For a while, that’s what you made me feel. That feeling of hope and invincibility that I thought was long extinguished inside me, suddenly came back full force – it clouded my vision, diluted my mind, stormed on my defenses. Liquefied – I was liquid with you, malleable, absorbent, transparent and destructible.

We once talked about superpowers. You didn’t know what yours was.

Remember when I asked you to tell me a story from your youth? You were always so convinced that the stories we tell are random and meaningless – that anecdotes from our childhoods bear no significance nor mark in our lives. But we tell the stories we do for a reason – and this was yours:

You said that when you were young, while you were in the scouts, you saw your father baking treats for the other members of your group. You asked if you could have one. And your father vehemently refused. No matter the tantrum you threw, your father  remained steadfast in his decision of not giving you a treat. It was the first time, you said, that you realized, your parents do not exist solely to please you.

In shock, I asked, “How old were you when that happened?”

You replied, calmly, “About ten. Eleven.”

I could barely keep the awe from my voice when the words slipped out of my mouth uncontrollably: “You’re very lucky to have held on to that idea for so so long, to not have realized otherwise until you were 11 years old.”

And you held me closer to you and said, words that melted my heart, “Well, it doesn’t matter now – you have me – and that’s how I can exist for you.”

Here’s a gift, from me to you – a lesson you can keep in your pocket when there’s nothing else worth taking.

Your superpower is your narcissism. It keeps you optimistic, hopeful and invincible. There are those who can only feel this indestructibility in very rare moments in their lives, if at all. Most of us are terrified, every hour of our day, every second. We feel vulnerable .We feel defeated. When we meet someone like you we feel elated. We feel protected just by being around you. We feel content, we feel stronger.

Because of your overflowing confidence, because of your optimism that things will always work out for you, things do work out for you – maybe not for us, not those around you who either figure in your life as accessories, or automatons – things you can use to fill gaps in your time, in your identity. But that’s the power of a narcissist – that you can turn people into weapons, and sidekicks. Always secondary to you. The upside of not feeling empathy, is the limitless ability to keep self-preserving.

Good luck my friend. And a fair warning to use your power responsibly. A string of broken hearts lined across the paths you’ve taken doesn’t make for a relatable, nor sympathetic superhero.

Before I go, let me give you one last story:

Throughout my high school years I collected rocks. Every place I went where I felt happy, I took a rock home with me to commemorate that day. My room slowly transformed into a room full of dirty, strangely-shaped rocks to anyone that entered it. No one knew the meaning behind them but me – but that was enough, it was all that mattered. I had grand delusions of becoming the world’s largest rock collector and surround myself with memories of happiness wherever I go.

But one day, I came home from school and saw that they were gone. It was all thrown away – just like that.

I cried for days – sadness that paralyzed me. I felt every part of my body slowly being destroyed. How can something be once there, and then be gone? How can something you love so much be taken away from you without your say?

How do we forgive ourselves for the things we did not become?

 

Standard
Character Portraits, Day to Day Writing

#67

Here are simple tricks to make people like you:

1. Don’t shame them when they laugh too loud – join them in their candid laughter, even if you don’t find the situation humorous.

2. Listen to their secrets, and never argue with what they feel. Everyone’s emotions are valid and legitimate, they’re not talking to you to tell them how to feel rightly, they’re talking to you to listen to themselves narrate the story and meaning of their own lives, and to include you in that epic.

And 3. When they talk to you about what makes them passionate, about dreams and wishes that bares their naked excitement they can’t hide in their eyes, don’t interrupt them – encourage them to tell you more, and join them in their wild, pounding passion – be the listener you would want another person to be, while you tell them your own story.

Standard
Day to Day Poetry, Day to Day Writing

#66

I met her again, a creature I once lost, re-united in the early hours of the morning, stretching on a blue bed with the sunlight kissing her cheeks, optimistic about living her afternoon, her world now divided between the present and the future, no longer existing just for today — there isn’t a single tale from her past you could ask her to retell or recount for your sake, she is only capable of desire, so uncontrollable that it is barely legible, and today I captured it, even for just a moment, I caught her at a standstill, so completely different from her continuous fluidity and ever-changing identity – today I knew what she meant – having shaken off the dust and grit of ten dry years, obliterating the fog that consumed my mental capacities and shouldered my anxiety, today and always, however she speaks to me, in half truths, single stories, contemporary jargon, in microscopic signals on her eyes, lips, or hands, however inexpressible her thought, however deep into the crevices of her mind she hides in, straight from the surface to the depths – today I knew, even standing on the extreme verge of self-love, destruction and sobriety, I knew what she meant.

Standard
Day to Day Poetry

Day to Day Poetry #49

I thought I was done
with parties in tiny houses
where you decorate red, plastic cups
with black markers,
where you gather around in circles,
your feet tucked underneath your legs,
because there aren’t enough chairs
for everybody,
where bags of chips lay untouched,
and empty pizza boxes
litter the floor –
the floor wet with muddied shoes and
melting winter,
where midnight sets the toll
for swinging hips and spilled beer bottles,
where bodies brush against each other
in the middle of drawling conversations
by the narrow hallway –

I thought I had graduated to
adult gatherings during holidays,
holding wine glasses against the light,
while eating little food set in tiny plates,
wearing high heels clicking against marbled floors,
laughing dryly at jokes aimed at
managers and executive directors,
reaching over to shake invisible dust
from your co-worker’s blazer,
just to briefly relish
the closest thing you can get
to human touch.

But last night I jumped at the opportunity
to throw a used copy of On the Road across the room,
to someone eager to take it home –
despite warnings from everybody
that it was a “masculine, self-indulgent tripe”
because I would take
casual discussions of literature
on a stomach empty except for Heineken,
any day
over ceviche and antipasto skewers
served on golden-lined plates
meant to be admired
rather than devoured.

Standard