Friday, August 26, 2016

on what it was like to hold on to you



“Where I’m from, they name storms after women,” I said to him one day. “It’s because only a woman can ravage so swiftly, so completely,” Years later, he would tell me this was when he first realized he was in love with me.

It was summer and you were sleeping when the first quake hit. I lay awake in bed, lulled by your sighs and snores. As the walls shook and the ceiling turned to powder, I realized every feeling of safety, of security – it all flew out the window as soon as the earthquake hit. I shook you awake and told you we needed to run but you just turned up the covers and went back to sleep.

I guess that’s what it’s always been like – me with my head in the clouds, you with your feet on the ground. I tell you what I see – rumbling in the clouds, howling in the mountains, a lone man screaming TSUNAMI!!! at the top of his lungs. You say there’s nothing there. That it’ll all pass. I come back down and put in one final protest. With a single kiss, you shush me and there is nothing left to do but be still.

You can prepare all you want for an earthquake – pack a bag, pitch a tent, stock up on canned goods and batteries, but you can never be truly prepared for when it first hits you. The ground shook violently giving birth to demons who didn’t know anything except to take, to separate, and to destroy.

The first fights shook us, as we thought it would. But we managed to survive them, hands clasped and ready. When the earthquake finally came, it brought us to our knees. I still see you, fear in your eyes, the veins in your neck bulging as you told me to hold on to you. I see your outstretched arms, your fingers far apart like a fan as you tried desperately to hold on to me. I somehow managed to cut through the crowd as I flung my body towards yours. We ran as far away as we could.

We thought the worst was over. We thought we’d found a safe place in each other’s arms. But it’s the aftershocks, not the earthquake, that are often more treacherous. They lasted for days. They threatened to destroy the little that remained. Many bridges and roads that survived our earthquake ended up getting destroyed by the tiniest quivers. The tremors began in equal intervals – one in the morning and one at night. A push here, a pull there, I believed we grew stronger each time. But anything stretched too thinly is bound to break apart. I pulled you closer to my body during each aftershock, resigned that if we were to die, at least we’d be together. I didn’t know that life had other plans; didn’t know you had other plans. That’s what it was like to hold on to you.

We were running, the air thin and crisp. Our lungs burned as we sped through the city’s broken streets. When you’re on the run, all you ever think about is how to make it out alive. Your instincts kick in and there is nothing but surviving, nothing but the next safe place to be. It was too late when I realized that you’d let go of me. For 4 weeks, I waited for you to come back for me but you never did. I searched the rubble for your scent, for our memories, for a clue.

I struggled to maintain my balance as the earth shook. Something told me I would find you buried beneath the rubble. My hands bled as I lifted broken pieces of concrete and my heart off the ground. Again. And again. And again. When my strength finally left me, I fell to the ground and closed my eyes. Then, as clear as day, your voice whispered in my ear. This was how you said goodbye.

You once told me they named storms after women where you’re from. But why don’t they name earthquakes? If they did, I’d tell them to name one after you. You who brought the tremors, you who shook me to the core – your fault line ran deep in my heart.

The ground shook violently, giving birth to the demons that pulled you away from me. There is anger. There is blame. There is jealousy. There is neglect. There is blissfully tender, angry fucking. As my heart shook and all the lives we haven’t lived turned to powder, I realized that every feeling of safety, of security, every happy moment we’ve ever had – it all flew out the window when you left.

Post: 0.1
Photo: earthquake
♫: Jewel | Enter From The East (1998)

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

on what it will be like



“You’ve changed,” he said, a sadness in his voice. He looked like he’d come home to open a present only to find that after the circus of ripped wrappers and ribbons pulled apart, there was nothing inside – nothing but an empty box with pieces of tape still stuck on.

“Have I? I didn’t notice.” I told him as I gulped the last of my black coffee, its warmth and bitterness like an embrace from a long lost friend. I wanted to sound cool and nonchalant but I fear that I came across as bored and drawn-out. And I’ve replayed this scene over and over in my head for the last 2 weeks wondering if I should have said what I wanted to.

That yes, I’ve changed and I was fully aware of that. But I didn’t change because I wanted to. It was because I had to. That day he packed his suitcase, he took more than just his books, records, and half the DVD collection. He ripped my heart away.

He pulled the smile away from my lips, the light from my eyes, the youth from my fingertips. It was as though something had imploded and I could feel my heart, my skin, my sex burning out and caving in.

Everything he ever touched, ever kissed, ever loved slowly fell away. For days, I walked around with what was left of me – an eyeball, half an arm, a fractured skull, various veins and tissues popping out.

I filled the void with whatever I could find. I rebuilt myself with the comfort of a stranger’s smile on the train, with work, with candlewax and some driftwood, casual encounters at the gym, some used up gum, and a pack of cigarettes.

In time, I grew back all that I had lost save one – you can never grow back a heart.

And so though I sat in front of him drinking coffee and acting cool, I’m afraid there wasn’t much left of who I was. Yes, I looked the same as I did a year ago when he last loved me but if he had come closer and pressed an ear towards my chest, he would hear nothing but the dull echo of his own voice telling me I’ve changed.

Photo: baby sunflower
♫: Isaac Gracie | Terrified (2016)

Wednesday, July 27, 2016

on how it ended



He says he wonders what you look like in the morning and you chuckle. His words, though sent through a digital screen, course little cackles of electricity from your fingers, to the backs of your ears, and down your spine. You say you look horrible – dried up spit, messy hair, morning wood, 5 o’clock shadow.

You ask if that turns him off. How could I? It's all I can think of. He yearns for you more.

You think about what it would be like to be intimate with him. Your body tenses as you imagine your hands on his back, his fingers through your hair, your lips on his.

Kundera once said that love is not found in holding hands, in kissing, or even fucking. It is in the desire for shared sleep. Beyond the need to touch and release, you too wonder what it would be like to wake up next to him. You imagine the sunlight dancing across his young skin, his disheveled hair in the early morning, his voice as he wishes you the first good morning of many mornings to come. Beyond his body, it’s these pictures, these future memories you’ve borrowed that send you over the edge.

I awake to find you glowing at your phone. I mumble incoherently, sleep clouding my speech and better judgement. You say it’s nothing, honey. Go back to sleep. That day, I learned the difference between faithful and loyal. Why couldn’t I find a man who could give me both?

♫: Sam Smith | Leave Your Lover (2014)

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

optimism



I was told that all lies are half-true and that the world’s greatest deceptions on the earth and in the heart all have a bit of truth laced in.

It was a warm August day when he said he loved me. He said he didn’t know how, why, or even when but I’d somehow struck his heart like a chord or a comet and for that, he was irrevocably mine.

I jumped right in. We fell too hard. In the morning, he was gone.

Optimists pride themselves in seeing the glass half-full. I pride myself in seeing your love half-true.

This and other 100-word stories in Project 0.1.

Photo: cabin
♫: Joni Mitchell | A Case of You (1971)

Monday, January 4, 2016

tokyo love



He shows me pictures on his phone – busy lights, views from the Shinkansen, a million strangers crossing Shibuya all trying to get somewhere.

It looks like you had fun, I say.

Yeah, but it was lonely. There’s something about Tokyo. You get these automatic faucets and dispensers, doors all opening by sensors. There’s no touching, no intimacy. It’s fucking depressing.

I nod but don’t say anything. How can I? He’s not mine. But my love for him is automatic. If he only knew how I dropped everything today just to see him. And all he had to do was ask.

This and other 100-word stories in Project 0.1.

♫: Barenaked Ladies | Call and Answer (1998)