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.

Image result for emilio villalba gallery
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.

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1M&1

“Hold my hand,” he said to me.

“Be the granite foundation on which I can lie and stare at the sparkled sky,

The dark lines like ribbons across my thighs that give me such release.

Be the return of a distraction from a life spent under the thistly wing of a vampire bat.”

We are standing in the flickering gas lights on a park path, chilled by the green moonlight which mask him like the desolate Phantom.

“Hold my hand,” he told me.

“Engulf me like the dead sea

Salt, cling to my skin like the desperate claws of a child

Suffocate me in the hydrogen peroxide of your breath.”

I am twelve, a couple months. He, sixteen and light years ahead with long hairs on his forearms and dark freckles that splash like acid across his wolfish, effeminate complexion.

“Take my hand,” he demanded.

“Tell me you will devote every particle of your essence to my philosophies,

And carry me home tonight when I become the full bottle of whisky I had drained;

Trade saliva with me for the first time like the burning kiss of the alcohol which has left me so goddamn empty.”

I can smell his spit from here, I can trace the hazy outline of his ginger stubble from here, I can breathe in the sharp smell of his cologne so that it splices my unquenched throat, so pieces of glass pile at the bottom of my gut.

“Take my hand, take my hand, just take my hand, just take it!” he snarled,

“Or my eyes will ooze something like that of the man who makes up a half of you.

You’ll smell the ozone electrodes of my desire for your purified body

Like you could sense a storm rolling over the hills. Looming, bristling.”

I am trembling, my knees knocking, my teeth chattering, whispering words that this is a true man, this is the only man, he’s all I will ever have and he loves me too.

I am wearing nothing much more than knee high socks and plaid dress, ribbons in my hair caught in the naked branches of the pine trees that guard him on either side.

In determined silence, I take his hand,

My lips are sealed, sticky with the grey honey of his words

And in this instant, this moment which dictates the most horrible of first,

I don’t know

That the zeal of his tongue picking out my teeth isn’t a justice, a privilege granted onto me, the grateful citizen of his metaphysical propaganda

But rather

It is the taste

The taste

The taste

The taste of a million girls before me.

Their shrill screams and defeated grunts and silent pleas –

As they all hold each other, linked at the pinkies, quivering,

Dragging Lucifer out from the pit

A million young girls, a million Eves, a million brown dotted does, sacrificed to his cause.

A million girls.

A million girls and one.

(x)