Sugar Sweet

Poking his head out of his little gray room, he notices that her bed in the room across the hall is a mess. It’s also empty.

Fuck. 

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Artwork by Frederic Forest

He throws on a robe hanging on the bathroom door, heavy from the humidity of his hasty shower, and catches a glance of himself in the hallway mirror. He averts his gaze, and makes his way down to the kitchen.

Though he tries to go unnoticed by his better half, she turns her pretty head immediately and catches him descending the stairs. Her hair is too immaculate for the early hours of a Saturday, and the ring on her finger is glittering too harshly.

“Good morning, honey.”

Continue reading “Sugar Sweet”

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Life Looks Gorgeous On You

When I sit on the train, I like to people watch. Their faces are like blank canvases to me. They stare with dead eyes at the advertisement that’s been plastered above a fellow transit passenger’s head, some pensive, some exhausted, others wearing a simply inscrutable expression.

To pass the time, I begin to familiarize myself with these strangers in my head.

I picture these strangers laughing. Crying. Sighing. Seeing a blue sky after a rainy week, the soft expression of surprise when they get an unexpected call from someone they haven’t spoken to in a while.

I imagine anger, how it colors some people red or blue or purple or white, how they might sob out of frustration, or assume a dead rocky silence in the face of giving up on someone after a fighting match.

blob of the day by henrik aa uldalen
Blob Of The Day by Henrik Aa Uldalen

I envision hope. How these strangers might perk up at the sound of a loved one’s footsteps as they finally get home, or become shy when they see someone after they had gone out on their first date. How they might bite their lip as they open a much anticipated email, or grind their teeth when their team almost scores.

And what of the triumphant smirk that graces these strangers’ lips when they make several people laugh, or the shared pointed glare at fellow colleagues when the boss is being ridiculous again? Consider, the way they close their eyes and take a deep breath as they hug someone they missed, or the swell of pride in their chests when they begin to understand a complicated lesson and answer a question right.

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Life Studies, Emilio Villalba

I think about how gorgeous these strangers must look when they’re happy. How heart-broken I would be to see them sad. I think about how these people care for others, how they have dreams, aspirations, how absolute strangers can become the closest companions after relating about something or other, how they develop relationships that last entire lifetimes, all by accident.

I watch, almost with a hint of regret, when my fellow transit passengers, strangers who I’ve got to know so intimately in my mind, get off at their stop. I never see them again.

I will never get to see these strangers again, happy, sad, angry, hopeful, triumphant. I will never know them beyond the picture I drew of them, framed neatly in my mind until they blur, like the landscapes whizzing past outside my train window.

I will never know these strangers so deeply. I have to remind myself that even though I have known some people this way, a lot of them have faded out nonetheless. A once golden tapestry now dusty in the basement of my memory. What’s the point? Even I am a stranger to myself. Though I should arguably know myself better than anyone, I haven’t witnessed these imagined moments on my own face either. That’s up to others to enjoy.

I usually sigh and return my gaze to an advertisement plastered above a fellow transit passenger’s head with a pensive, exhausted, or inscrutable expression.

Life looks so gorgeous on you, I think. I might have never seen it, but trust me.

I can imagine.

Strut

5. Look at me. Why? Because you insist on straight lines, north and souths, lefts and rights - directions always become a mess! Look at me. Stop strutting and stand in the middle of a straight line. Dare to make it go off course. It won’t, you see? Its direction is embedded into my skin now. It cannot go off course. You did this to yourselves, you’ve denied yourselves. This is it. It’s coming closer. It’s coming closer now. It’s going to hit you. Don’t move. Don't move. Don't -“Evolution has made us into machines,” you say. “We do not turn our heads at the scent of blood. We dare to stare boldfaced at the Sun and see a ball of gas instead of our Mother. She is a a scientific wonder we want to touch instead of a force of destruction that will burn us if we touch Her. What’s more, we hear sirens and crane our necks in the hope of catching a glimpse of a gasping victim. We turn our televisions off and listen to the traffic instead, wondering if other little heads are as mechanic as our own – ”

Oh, please. You are not a machine, child. You are flesh and blood. You are breakable, sometimes irreparable. Doesn’t the melody of the sirens prove that, in and of itself? Continue reading “Strut”

Jane Eyre

If strength means being unfeeling, I am weak.

Passionate. Emotions burst out of me unwarranted, words pour out of my mouth like a bazooka, and I? Tend? To invest myself in objects. Objects. The objects are made of muscle and sinew, a void missing the “chip” that “makes us human”. Are we ashamed to be human? is that the root issue? Do we wish to be the animals we document on TV, the unfeeling wolf who snatches at a baby doe without the sensitivity of a French savoir, without the delicacy of a marinated sauce simmered to perfection and drizzled over our amuse-bouche to disguise the baby animals we snatch as well?

 

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“‘British Birds: the King Fisher'” [Jane Eyre, 2011]
If strength means lacking human quality, I am weak.

Even a wolf has a family, a litter of doe-eyed pups looking to grow big and strong like their mama,to grow into “unfeeling” killing machines. Unfeeling? Please. I run barefoot and tear myself to shreds in the process, but I grow a thicker skin, I glow with hotter blood, I smile with a metal fuckin’ smile and I love it. I love it with all my intensity and without apology.

If strength means holding back, I am weak.

I cry over a sink a couple times a week and my eyes are puffy and pink, but hey, you know what else is puffy and pink? My hair. I laugh really loud and I talk a little shrill and I lose my mind with a kind of liberty I can never control, but hey, you know what else is loud and shrill and free? Songbirds.

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“I’m not in need of tea, thank you.” [Jane Eyre, 2011]
If strength means not caring, I am weak.

I sing with a broken voice and I fly with snapped wings, but I do it all anyway. I twirl and I twirl until I’m seeing stars and depending on how I’m feeling, I’ll either bump my head and cry a little, or start laughing really hard cause man, I can see my house from here! Space is wicked and I love it and I’m not even sorry.

If strength means keeping my head up, I am weak.

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“You would rather break my heart than break some human law?” [Jane Eyre, 2011]
I fall. I break. I lose hope. That happens, but don’t be fooled. It doesn’t scare me. Beyond rock bottom is hell and… I have a timeshare there. Eventually, the same passion that betrayed me and made me crash down like a meteor? It will lift me up again. I’ll lift me up again. Because without the capability to thirst for something better, without the emotions that chatter and tell me better, without the feelings that burst through my body and electrocute me in the heart to revive me for the better? I am a stone. I am a rock. I am an island. And those guys sure as hell don’t have the strength to get themselves out of a stagnant pace.

If I am weak, then fine. I am weak.

Because if that’s is what strength is supposed to be, I’d much rather be weak anyway.

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“Awaken then.” [Jane Eyre, 2011]

The Canary

I am no bird; and no net ensnares me: I am a free human being with an independent will which I now exert to leave you. ― Charlotte Brontë, Jane Eyre

A fat yellow canary stretches its wings with the intention of preparing for a moment that will never come: free flight. Liberty. Escape.

The bird’s human is shaky. Her shoulders shake and shake and shake. It’s rather troubling, isn’t it?

Never mind. The blonde human continues stuffing things into a canvas sack as the canary edges closer to the window. He listens to his shrieking kin outside, whizzing between the trees like fleas. Oh, how he wishes the human would quiet her sniffling so he could eavesdrop on their barbaric conversations!

The human is grabbing everything around her to take along. She doesn’t seem to consider the canary though. This is worrying to say the least, as this particular human is quite nice. Her significant other doesn’t pay nearly as much attention to the canary as he would like, but would rather stumble about the house with an empty bottle in hand, yelling obscenities at flower pots.

No, the canary prefers this human. She lets him out of the cage sometimes, to flit about the living room before she captures him again, to stuff back into depressing paradise.

She has stopped now. She steps towards the window, the canary’s window next to his gilded cage, his only link to the world that his pea brain sometimes doubts actually exists.

She pushes open the window and breathes in. The world outside is immersed in a wash of turquoise and bulbs of yellow luminosity. The canary shudders when he hears a cat meow. His kin are suddenly silent.

She sighs, before looking at her pet.

“You are intelligent, chéri,” she cooes, stroking the cage, “but I must… escape this life. Je suis fatigué… je suis fatigué.”

She wears a drained expression, her dark eyebrows pulled together.

He chirps. Her puckered mouth shapes itself into a lopsided smile, before she opens the door of his cage. She then turns, grabs her bag from the floor, and flees the room. She’ll continue to flee until she returns to her own kin, in a distant land.

The canary regards the open cage door. Fear rocks his chubby body. His paper thin wings are suddenly heavy, and he wonders if he can ever really leave this wonderful, miserable haven. But the wilderness… it’s irresistible.

With this, he propels himself from the cage and out the window, the lace curtains shifting silently in his wake.

His fear is overcome by the ecstasy of freedom. Liberty. Escape.

He hears that cat meow again, and he knows that he will not survive for long. The turquoise world beyond will give way to lilac then navy then black, and he’ll not live to see the white brilliance of a new sun.

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(x)

However… he will have lived a life. He couldn’t have stayed back there, wondering, regretting what could have been.

This is free flight. Liberty.

Escape.

 

Perspective of Love, Perspective of Hate

 

The prince is not a hero. I am half man, half beast. I navigate dim lit streets like a nocturnal creature, the eyes shimmering like rough cut diamonds as I float down the steps, farther and deeper into my own tangled mind. I find myself in a tight black box. I can’t breathe here, I can’t think here, I am forever trapped in eternal freefall here. I am secured only by the tethers of my own mistakes, their ropes wrapped around my throat. I can bite them away and swallow them whole, so they coil at the pit of my stomach like cobras. The enormous thorns which erupt from my chest are the color of night, the color of rot, the color of blood on snow. I am obscure, I am desperate. The apple doesn’t fall far from the tree, after all.

The prince is not a royal. I sit at a table with quiet countenance, the feast of my victims spread out before me; the flesh of myth, the drink of elderflower, a table shrouded in white cloth. I bite into people’s trust in me and keep it caged behind my teeth, so that my grin remains crooked. I am the fly in the ointment, the chink in the armor. I am an eyeball, bloody and shriveled but forever unblinking. I sit amongst the romantics. The gamers, the lovers. The goddamn haters. My lips are thin, drawn, and pale. My hair is sleek and twisted. My nose is curved like the beak of a predatory eagle. My brain is sheltered from the maggots whizzing around my head, but they are nothing compared to the monstrosities that I keep safe in a bomb shelter. My ribs are a cage to a wild hairy animal. It is savage, relentless, wicked. No one wiped my tears away except dead men. So I decided: a dead man I will be.

The prince is not a martyr. I did it because I could. Behind me there is only a jagged cliff, steep and sharp and insistent and appealing. My wrists smell faintly of iron, my breath reeks of red wine, and my tongue is sleek and smooth and silver. I direct bodies because they’re cargo, my sadistic nature is what renders me a double edged sword. My voice is baritone, deeper than the gashes in my torso, more piercing than the toxic knock off words I use to trick the shadows onto my side. I keep quiet and sneer instead, my dirty hands shake, my conviction wavers, my kneecaps knock together. The knock, knock, knock will haunt me forever, echoing in the ant hill of my mind: I am a coward, I am a coward, I am a coward. The ants eat me alive.

The prince is not lenient. I am a master of strings. I manipulate children and old men alike, and my grudges become tools I use to hack away at the ice that has enveloped my secrets for so long. I am paranoid, angry, deserving. I am determined to be the better one. I am determined to win this boxing match to the stabbing sound of the bell. I am determined to make sure that my grave is unmarked, that the memories that seep like ethereal pearls down my sallow cheeks are gifted. They are presented with the bravado I always sought.


He’s a silly little man. He lives freely in glittering caves infested with the roaches of desire, so he immunized himself from germs with a vodka shot of vengeance. He cracked open his rib bones between his fists and built a bridge across the universe to find an oasis of silence, of peace, of sleep. One can finally tell him that his enduring pain and his tarnished legacy is worth the glory he stole from the demon who murdered them.

He’s a naïve man. He loved with all his heart. His spirit is a delicate doe, skipping ahead over icy lakes and tilted mountains that stretch around him, encompassing him like the arms of the companion he never had the chance to cherish.

He’s a poor man. He is bruised black and blue by the fists of a pure blooded father, he has scars left over by the screams of his mother that drilled into his head like five inch screws; and yet, he tries. He lost the path in a big bad forest, just a child himself, pink faced and innocent and alone, preyed on by a pack of unrelenting wolves. He became a feral child. He didn’t mean to become a grey miser, a fool with an irrevocably stubborn heart.

He is a lonely man. He is the sad sod sitting on a city park bench at two in the morning, twiddling his thumbs and watching yellow and orange passersby, hoping someone, anyone, would approach and understand the weight of his red sacrifices that shine in the endless pits of his eyes. He’s a trained monkey, a neglected member of the A-team, an undeniably sharp mind rusted by his exposure to doomed destiny. The yolk of his innate being spilled out the multiple rough cut holes in his body, which were poked and ripped by the pins and needles he stuck into his once sun kissed skin, hoping it would be enough.

He’s a fighting man. He’s a sympathiser for the clueless and the loveless, the wide eyed and the grappling; he was one of them. And yet, he sees light in the potential in those he detests, and he spins misfortune into gold with skilled craftsmanship. He knows that under layers and layers of security protocols and brick walls fortified by steel, he cares. He cares. He cares.

Make your magic, pretty man. Smell the incense of funeral candles, embrace the comforting freeze of wintery cold that trails you in your wake, and feel the harsh wind of your broken promises ravaging your face until you ascend clean faced and ready. Baptise yourself in the purity of mercy, and immerse yourself in the smothering aroma of lily flowers that are melted in the hot spring running through your veins.

Let Them Paint Rainbows

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We’ve watched you for eons.

You’ve untied yourselves from our careless fingers long ago, but the new control has made you falter. We immortals know that you lead lives like mayflies, seeking little things to make your confusion more bearable.

We watch you try to handle the mess you’ve created. The society that once thrived now hangs by a single string of sinew. We observe in determined silence as you gas each other in the name of new Gods, beat one another to a pulp, and kiss the blood on your bruised knuckles. Children are empty and bloated, crying for justice.

Sometimes we like to discuss all this like stuffy movie critics in an abandoned theatre. The tunnel, for example.

“Wicked,” breathes Persephone, flowers escaping every crevice of her body. She means “wicked” in every sense of the word.

“They are,” mutters Aphrodite while examining her nails, the faint smell of saltwater still clinging to her skin.

“It’s called a rainbow,” I explain self-importantly, “How quaint. Even the name tells us something about their nature: as it rains grey and the sky rips itself apart, a small ribbon of sunlight pulls the entire thing together like a present. Thus, a rain-bow.”

“It’s just a silly metaphor, Athena” says Ares to me, his voice which used to scream battle cries now cracked from disuse.

“For what?” ventures a humming Muse from the stage. Her sisters sit around her languidly as they play with each other’s hair.

“Themselves,” he answers with gritted teeth, “they make things pretty to ignore the world falling around them.”

“We disagree,” the Muses harmonize, notes dangling dangerously in the air, “they paint, sing, dance, and create, all for the strength to continue.”

“’Continue’?” Ares drawls.

“They chant your name as they march into battle, don’t they?”

“’Battle’?” he scoffs softly, “there is no ‘battle’. Only destruction. I don’t stand for that.”

“They seek hope,” the Muses continue, strumming chords on their heart strings, “they create beauty to assure themselves they aren’t responsible for only… destruction.”

“Their creation doesn’t outweigh their destruction,” Ares growls.

“Oh, come off it. They’re hardly living in the Garden of Eden anymore,” I sigh.

“Yeah, they screwed that up almost instantly,” Hera snaps from her dusty throne.

“Listen, it’s about their own concern for happiness. Look at this tunnel. It exists because a boy from Norway thought it was depressing that no one ever looked up as they walked through the city; he gave them a reason to.”

“What the hell is Norway?”

“Oh, never mind. You’re hopeless.”

“They’re going too fast, and they know it,” Ares grumbles, pulling his helmet visor shut as he leans back, ready to doze some more, “they don’t want to accept reality, so they make things ‘pretty’ for the sake of having something pretty.”

“They’re trying, though,” I whisper, peering again between the cracks in the clouds, “Humans are flawed because we created them. Let them have hope, at least. Let them paint rainbows.”