Off Beat Memory Play

[This is an old story I unearthed from my files, bare with me as I share a few paragraphs at at time]

It was in the sadness that I found myself most comfortable in. The breath of absence was felt–thick among the things that were no longer there. I could not remember how everything happened. All that is left is a memory of the strong perfume he wore and the door closing.

I find myself empty with tears, like nothing happened. I cook pasta. I wait for it to boil. I take out the can of crushed tomatoes and found a piece of him hiding: an open pack of red Malboros. He was still smoking. I poured the linguine into the pot of angry boiling water and waited.

Waiting is like meditation minus the goal of emptying oneself. It is just that space that fills time where a few thoughts lurk. Right now though, it is just empty space carefully being filled by boiling pasta and simmering tomatoes.

K and I met years ago in a cafe across the university. I served him his tall non-fat extra hot vanilla latte. While I barely remembered his face or name, his mouthful of an order and his bright yellow smiley shirt stuck.

It was a week before Christmas when I first served him his tall non-fat extra hot vanilla latte and the only exchange between the two of us was a ‘thank you’ and ‘enjoy you’re drink.’

TBC

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I Never Knew

“Like air” he said as he raised his hand in a graceful surrender to the breeze sweeping through the tiny hill we stood on.

“You want to be like air?” I asked as I watch his hair fly in disarray. He hadn’t cut it since September, and now it was a mess of brown curls sweeping across his face.

“Yes, then I’d be essential to you.”

I laughed and stared into the horizon he had been staring at since we started this absurd conversation.

“You already are. You always have been.”

I feel his eyes on me. I keep staring into the horizon, wiping my mouth with my hand and feeling the growing beard I was too lazy to shave this morning. I look down and watch our shadows meet as the space between us fill with the words we kept inside.

“I never knew.”

“Now you do.”

The Weight of Memories

Memories, what are they for?
To him, they were ghosts plaguing his mind. For there was no choosing. The happy recollections came with the painful ones. He despised it.

At night he lays staring at the empty space beside him. He hears laughter and feels the tears well up in his eyes. His stomach turns. Anger seething beneath his chest. Running to the kitchen, he opens a can of beer and gulps it down. One after the next.

Six empty cans on the sink. A few sleeping hours free of memories.

Four hours later, he wakes up to the sound of an intruding alarm clock. He throws it across the room. Silence, then throbbing. His head pulsating with its own heartbeat. Splashing water on his face, he stares at the mirror. Black circles, swollen and empty eyes stare back. The mirror breaks, shattering to a thousand piece. He washes his hands, watching as the water turns pink.

He goes down for coffee. Opening cupboards in search of the cereal box that was usually in the middle of the breakfast nook when he wakes up. The sound of cabinet doors opening and shutting, rhythmically mimicing a man’s angry heartbeat. He throws the cereal bowl on the sink. Breaking. He drinks his coffee. His hands still bleeding. He wraps a towel.

Sunlight streams through the glass doors. He hears that soft voice speaking out his name before that light giggling laughter. Stillness. He drowns himself with his coffee. Then, brings himself to the shower. Soaking himself beneath it, muffling the sound of his wailing.

A robe would do. He wraps himself in it and begins to sort. Each piece of clothing warm to his cold skin, burning him with fragments of a fast fading memory. Each piece perfectly arranged in a box marked with bold letters STORAGE at its side. The rustling sound of clothes hanging in the closet echoes the sound of a wedding train dragged across a church. He stops midway. His hands sliding down the garment he held. His knees giving in. A silent scream leaves his mouth. He curls on the floor, fetus-like. His breathing short and rapid. His eyes sore. His heart heavy.

The phone rings. The answering machine takes it.
“Hi, you’ve just reach Dave and Joan. We aren’t here right now, please leave a message.” Her voice reverberated through him. Freezing every inch of his body, then breaking it. “Hi dave, i heard the news. I’m so….”
He pulls the cord, as life had pulled his.

Holding on to a piece of white satin, he mourns.

Original written in 2008

Exactly

She told me she falls in love easily, it could take a short glance, a brief conversation or a meal shared. She tells me this in between drags of her slim cigarette. The words ‘shared’ hang between us.

Leaning back, crossing her legs, and after two drags from her Virginia Slim, she steals a glance–catching my eyes, asking for me to look, as if there was something between us. When all there was, was smoke shrouding her.

Like a heavy sigh escaping her nicotine lips she says: “It’s the case with you.”

I look at her mouth as it forms those words only to hear them a beat after. I watch her go through her purse in search of another stick. Catching her wrist, letting my eyes focus on hers, letting my thoughts run free and words slip through my parched mouth.

“I’m a girl.”

And she lets her head fall forward, hair covering her face, exhaling softly she whispers,

“I know.”

In that moment, I leaned my head back, let go of her wrist and stared into the starless sky.

“Amazing.” I said.

She found her cigarette it seemed, as I witness a cloud of smoke hovering above my face. I reach out with my hand touching it. I hear her say, “It really is.”

Cutting through the silent cold air, I let my words fill the space, “I am not like you. I don’t fall easy.”

“I know.”

I let the words guide me back to her face. Searching her beneath the evening sky, I catch the moonlight’s reflection on her wet cheeks.I make no move to comfort her. I stare at her tear-stained face, her trembling fingers wrapped in smoke, and continued speaking.

“It takes me at least a year and two months to fall in love, and we’ve known each other for only, what?”

I let the words float into the evening sky, leaving her to complete the statement, “…one year and two months.”

Stillness.

I draw close, entering her cloud of smoke, held her gaze with mine and smiled.

“Exactly”

“But, I’m a girl?” She says.

“I know.”

original written on 13 Sept 2016