Your dearest wish will come true
She sat in the backyard up against the broken wired fence while “Norma, Act I: Casta Diva” blared from the speakers inside her house. For miles and miles there wasn’t another soul. Deep in the desert, not one person could place their filthy paws on her rose gold and precious being.
So she sat in the baking sun just as she did everyday and thought about the time when she was a child with her family. They were gone now but no one ever really disappears inside our memories. Now she was a loner. No one around to ask if she was doing okay. Even better. Food didn’t matter. Sometimes she got up at 3 in the morning and had her lunch, other times she buried her 11 o’clock breakfast deep in the dirt.
The music carried out of the broken windows and made everything around her seem finer. The vultures who sat in the trees moved their necks in a graceful but quick movement not unlike the swans she had watched when her father had taken her to the big lakes in the big towns, with the big headed people. Thank God I’m all alone. No one can find me out here. Daddy, why did you take me there?
It had been a little over 2 years since she packed a suitcase of belongings, clothes and one small picture frame with the face of her lovely mother. Then the rest of the car was packed with cans which she had stocked up on at the Dollar Mart. Spaghetti sauce but no pasta was not a problem for her. The cashier had looked at her oddly, but just like the rest of the world, he had been too afraid of what the answer might be if he had asked the simple questions, “Are you okay?”
Are you okay? Are you happy? Tell me, TELL ME. ARE YOU HAPPY? The violins cut the desert sky and make her happy when she looked at the way the heat played tricks on her eyes. She enjoyed seeing the blue shake and tremble. She wished she could reach out and grab it. Immense joy came into her heart when the lizards danced to the master piece of Bellini. Dance, you bastards. DANCE. She didn’t hate the lizards. They weren’t like the snakes who made their own noise which always interrupted her masterpieces.
But she couldn’t stay in the sunlight forever like she wanted too. She had tried. The next day was a bad day for her when she tried and could feel a rawness in her burnt skin every time her hand brought food to her mouth. So she didn’t eat for a week and lost more weight. Not that she notice. She only notice how much closer the vultures seemed to come. She only noticed how graceful they looked when her music was at full volume and their large black and grey feathers stroked the air swift and mechanical, like giant machines waiting to work on her.
The sunlight was blinding, but she stared on out towards the hills even though it was slowly making her blind. On and on she stared waiting. For what? No body knew. She just knew that she was alone. No one will find me out her. They can’t hurt me anymore. Touch me with their dirty… Her whispers were lost in a stunning burnt sienna sunset. The surrounded hills were alive. Orange dunes, skies of fire. Flames of blue. She couldn’t see any of it, but she could feel the heat and remember when her family use to take her on road trips into Vegas, her father opening the vans door and the wave of heat flooding into her lungs and bringing her into a state of uneasiness and dread.
Finally, I’m at ease. The desert was good for her. As were the cactus’ that she liked to stop at and ask if they had seen her family and friends. Sometimes the cactus would answer her back with the reality of, You don’t have any family or friends. Most of the times she simply walked about, other times she would come back to that cactus and spit on it. But she was still human and would always regret it with tears that lasted into the early hours of the stunning dusk which swallowed her shack whole which she had found abandoned in the middle of no where.
No one will find me here. I’m free. She had found the end of the world, a place where not too many people see. Sometimes she was sure that they had found her, but she realized that the music helped to drown out the evil people who were after her. The music and love story within each note kept her safe from the tragedies other people had placed in her mind.
I’m safe. They left me. they can’t find me. I got away.
He stood right before the plexiglass and looked into the white room which held prisoner number 1268. She was beautiful and intelligent in ways he had never seen before. He realized this the first time he stood in her room and heard her have a conversation with someone she called “Cactus” and spoke of the different colors in a sunset. He had never seen such smooth skin and bright green eyes, cheeks that glowed with shade of peach, especially with the amount of meds they were giving her. Wild red hair only added to her loveliness, but before all of that, madness ruled her mind. She had committed a crime unforgivable, which he didn’t care about. If he had, certainly he was fool for getting a job as the Psychiatrist and Physician at the State Penitentiary. He only cared about making sure his patient was better. Sometimes he whispered into her ear because it calmed her down. Other times he played some of his favorite classicals; Vincenzo Bellini, Nocturnes, Piano Sonata No.14 in C- Sharp Minor. She seemed to enjoy it, except when she spat at him and called him a vulture.
But he didn’t care, because he was a good man and he loved what he did. His job was to make sure his patients were comfortable despite the circumstances. After all, they were human beings. Crime or not, as long as he could feel the beat in their hearts he would love them.
She stared at the sun and noted that it had been brighter than the day before. It reminded her of the day her baby brother had been born and all the light in the world couldn’t amount to his laugh and sunshine. But now she was alone, with nothing but the cactus people, the beautiful vulture, and wired fence that was her only comfort.
She fell asleep in the sunlight, the sound of piano notes drowning out her miseries.
Lilies & Wildflowers
Instead of waking up to the sunlight showering in from the window, she woke to lips tracing her spine. Fire and ice, coffee in the morning. One thing on her mind. How soft things could be, how far gently things could push her. A skip and a hop off the face of the Grande Canyon. This notion went in and out of her mind like the parting of ships and the eyes of lovers sealed to the coast. She closed her lids, tight. I don’t want to wake up…I ain’t never going back.
But it was real as he turned her over and finally she looked him in the eyes. Whiskey in a teacup.
We’d be better as friends, she whispered into his ear the last time they had been together and hugged as if something big was about to happen. He had never said he loved her, and if he had, she might have laughed. But they both knew, despite the random insecurities that sprang to life which sang that they had been imagining everything. Not her love for him, but his for her. Sometimes it made her sad when she forsaw the possibilities of destruction. Someone always got hurt. She’s be damned if it was her. Black Heart Baby, what one of her exes use to call her. All in and all out was her moto, fighting off the sensations that were screaming at every corner. Three little words which in history had started wars, killed millions, and also created millions more. 143.
She didn’t love him. There were too many in the world who she hadn’t yet met. How the hell was she supposed to find the “One.” As if one existed in a mass of billions. She was sure that she’d find the one and that another one would be just as good and waiting for her. These are all things she had once told herself. But she liked how his lips felt at that exact moment pressed against her cheeks. A flower petal came to her mind. That of a little white orchid, like a ghost. How soft it was and how nice to touch. What would his face look like? She sank into the pillow and could feel how badly he wanted her, all in the motions on a gentle kiss. She sank further and thought about a dark concrete road curved and lined with smooth sands, how much it resembled their skins as he cupcaked her.
Soon she would be 40. That number scared her but not nearly as bad as the thought of someone unforgettable. The way he had kissed her, like a flower petal brushing against her, like a river taking her under, something she had never felt since. 1 year passed, nothing. 5 years passed, nothing. 15 years passed, still nothing. Yet she couldn’t forget how he had kissed her shoulder blade all the way to the curve in her hips and in those brief moments she wondered if he had also sent a message to her mind which made tears come to her eyes and force their way down her cheek rolling deeper and deeper into the white cotton pillow.
I love you. He loves me? I love you. I love you. And I’ll love you forever. She told herself that she didn’t believe his bullshit, phony attachments, just as she had done with the others. The only difference with this one was that she wasn’t listening to false words but instead to his lips touched her skin and the pauses in between as he sank down to the dimples of her back. She could feel within those brief moments that he touched her, indeed he loved like madness and chaos. Like a crowd too excited, loss of all control. Words were not needed.
They had all wanted her. Their flaws had made her better, even stronger. So she spit them out like a mouth full of chewed gum.
He was different like a metal that never dulled. A sharp hook that would kill her if she tried to pull it out.
So she left it in and felt its tug every time she moved.
Now she was 64 years old and still waiting for the One. The one that would never be better than he who has kissed her so nicely and made her hear unsaid words which even today made her tired and weary, wishing for that moment when she had felt fire and ice.
Heiva i Tahiti
Take out my soul from my body. Now lay it out on a fine Tahitian Tifaifai quilt and look at its composition. As you peel away layer after layer; patience, understanding, resilience, ignorance, fury. Among those ingredients in a deep red, you will see the words, HEIVA, sketched and tangled with roots that were attached to the chords of my heart.
What is it about the Heiva I Tahiti that makes me feel so much more alive? I think about this question a lot. Especially when I speak about my experiences with other people on what it was like to travel to Tahiti and start preparing for a huge Ori Tahiti Competition and Cultural celebration. Why does it make me feel so alive, so fulfilled, so different from my day to day self? And why does it feel like there is nothing else compared to it in the world?
Because there isn’t.
It’s been less than a week since I returned from Tahiti to compete with the group Hitireva under the direction of Kehaulani Chanquy. I can’t believe the life I just traded in for the last. Goodbye humidity, goodbye people with neverending humility. I stayed in Tahiti for three months and I would be lying if I didn’t mention that from start to finish it was a struggle for me. Emotionally, physically, I went to sleep tired, somehow waking up even more tired. Which is only normal if you think of the number of hours we spend training per week, the heat, and the pure flow of dedication to learn the dance moves, the words to the song, always with an intense concentration to go beyond your best. When it comes to the Heiva I Tahiti and stepping on stage to perform in front of thousands of people, you are led to the path of excellence. Anything else just will not do.
A doctor once estimated that the average dancer spends more than 500 hours preparing for this grandiose event in Tahiti. He started his study when he began to notice how many young beautifully fit specimens came in fatigued and sick. ” You dancers are all crazy,” said the French doctor behind the desk on my third visit. It’s true; I was madness trying to hold everything together with a nose which refused to stop running. My bones ached. It hit me deep being so far away from my immediate family and trying to cope with the nights of dancing for three hours, completely drench, then getting cold when the sea breeze mingled air hits you as you start to cool down. Everything is Go! Go! Go!! And then the costume making creeps up behind you and shouts, Stop! Stop! Stop!! There is nothing like sewing shells to a costume to make the resemblance of a baby turtle to teach you patience. But it’s the passion that stops you from rolling your eyes and makes you concentrate like your life depended on this little baby turtle tail.
So many times I whispered to myself, this is my LAST Heiva. I’m sure I wasn’t the only one who spoke those words. Yet, I knew one minute after I finished performing our one hour show on Toata stage, that I wanted to do it again and again, please let me do it again! The group I prepared with for the past 3 months became my new family. Kehau our Queen and mother. Only they understood my biggest fear of not getting all my costumes on in time. We learned our dances and became so in sync with each other that I could make eye contact with the Vahine besides me and read her mind as she could read mine. The bonds had already begun. When you take that first step on stage, dances that you can now do in your sleep, costumes that fit a body tanned and trained, you are engulfed with an absolute feeling of magic. It’s not only in the air, but it’s also in your heart.
Dancing in the Heiva is magic. In the past, our ancestors had another word for this magic. They use to call it MANA. For this word, I’d do it again, again, and again.
When they put the handcuffs around his wrist, he realized for the first time that this was the most painful sensation human beings could live through which had nothing to do with how tight the officer in blue tightened the metal, click after click.
He could smell the smoke in the humid air and liked feeling how it wrapped around him as he sat on his simple porch which he had built with his own hands. Trees, greenery, lush surrounded him on all sides. When the wind picked up the green slowly shook, and he thought about how his daughter use to shake when she was cold in the night until he would bring her closer to his body between him and her mother where she felt safe and he felt his purpose. A bird above him pecked away at an insect in its claws. It was getting colder than usual, but not cold enough for him to go inside his little hut where his family waited. He stayed on the porch and smoked a cigarette that he had rolled. Everyone else on the island stuck with cigarette cartons prerolled because they were ready to go and easy. Light, inhale and forget. Not him. He liked taking the time divide the tobacco, carefully placing it inside the delicate sheet until it was ready to be tucked in and secured. He wet his fingers and sealed his work. Slowly he admired his creation and wondered if this had been better than the last. He lit a match and brought it to the tip, slowly inhaling once the burning began. The first hit was always the best. He wondered whether his last cigarette would be the worse.
His belly started up again and he remembered he was hungry. The papaya and banana trees around him dimmed one notch when he remembered that he couldn’t pluck a single fruit from their leaves. Quickly he shut the hungry away and focused on the smoke that surrounded him. It came from leaves burning in the garden next door and from his tobacco burning between his lips. He wanted his wife’s lips, just like he always wanted her lips. But she could wait. They would all have to wait. He looked beyond the green and saw the sky. Overcast but bright. It made him think about the time when he walked on the beach and how much darker the overcast made him compared to when the sun shined in full force pushing everyone back inside their homes or in the waters. Overcast wasn’t so bad he thought. Rain was nice too.
He wished it rained hard so he could walk outside and feel the drops fall on him. He would pay better attention this time. He’d open his mouth and close his eyes. As he imagined himself soaking in the rain with a smile on his face, one drop shed from his left eye in response to an emotion that welled up deep inside of him which he fought off with all his life, as if it would make everything better. He brought the tobacco back to his lips and focused on inhaling the smoke that curled inside of his lungs lovingly.
He admired a large Monstera Leaf that shined like silver in the overcast sky. Water dripped from it’s pointed tip. He thought of his grandmother who loved making the Monstera Quilts which she had wrapped around him when he was a child. His favorite had been the blood red and white. A good child. Now he was an adult, maybe not so good. His wrist hurt and he wondered if they would hurt forever. He exhaled a smoke cloud and for a second his vision blurred. Smoke was beautiful in its transparency. It could never be contained or captured. It was simply there and then it vanished. It did as it pleased, and then it went free. He wished he could vanish and that his wrist would stop hurting. He wished he couldn’t feel the hunger. His wishes were neverending these days.
He looked back into the sky and saw that the sun was finally starting to come out. If it had been a normal day he would take his babies to the beach and hold his wife’s hand. It would surprise her because he never held her hand, but she deserved it. She deserved more than what he had brought into her life. The trees around him started to shake when he thought about his gratitude for the people who had never left his side. He shook back and concentrated on his tobacco. One last hit, long smooth, deep in his belly.
A baby started crying somewhere in the distance. He wondered if the neighbors had finally given birth or if a child had been adopted by a woman who made it her life to take care of others. He wanted to call his wife and have her sit next to him. He would have just stared at her and her beautiful thick black hair. The dark mole above her lip that gave her face so much character. He wanted to hear her voice when she laughed and sang. He was tired of hearing her cry. He was tired of the cries, and all the yelling. the wind picked up and shook the green surrounded him. He started to feel like he was sitting in white noise. The tobacco in his lips slipped and disappeared. He could no longer smell the smoke but instead, the smell of urine underneath some type of sanitation came back to him. Hunger overcame him and all he wanted was silence, sleep. Everything was too loud, too bright. He wanted darkness. He wanted to close his eyes and never open them again. Nowadays it pained him to wake up from the few hours of sleep he had. He prayed for peace of mind with his eyes closed. When he opened them he saw a dirty eggshell white wall. He felt his hunger more than ever.
Shibasan kept a close eye on number 1098. He didn’t like how he spent his days staring straight at the wall without noticing his meals or medicine checks. That was usually the first signs. Shibasan could tell that he would be another prisoner lost. Some of them just couldn’t handle the isolation. That wasn’t his fault though. He would never feel pity for the people that ended up in here. They were animals who deserved to be locked up. He was just here to give the order when these types finally lost their minds. He’d give 1098 another month. Then they’d start the punishments to make him eat. Right now a little weight loss might be good for him. As he passed the cell of 1098 he wondered what was going on in his mind to make him smile at the eggshell white wall carved with initials and markings from past prisoners. This one’s a goner.
Just because today I’m feeling rather sentimental I just wanted to say,
Don’t give up.
Even when you think you’re cornered, if you keep pushing forward, I promise a trap door will come out of nowhere and you’ll see that there was a choice, a plan, something that will save you from sinking to the bottom, all along.
But if you give up, you’ll never know. Even if the answer comes to you in 5 to 15 years. It’ll come like the first sunset. Like the first kiss. Like the taste of a cool strawberry on a hot day. Like looking into the eyes of someone and knowing for once, they’ve been looking for you their whole life.
Don’t give up.
Things get better. Only if you keep pushing forward. Be the train that carried on despite war and weather. Be the heart that loves despite its cracks and floods. Be the hero that save with nothing in return.
Be good baby, and don’t give up.
Give or Take
The world is a bright place if you take away the dark shadows that are cast down behind human beings. I think about this because of all the times I’ve been used. I believe we’re all users in one way or the other. Your soulmate, for example, you need him or her. Why is that? Because of how they make you feel. Happiness, love, hope, all those good things bundled up in one complex creature of mankind. The boss you admire and adore? They lead you in the right direction, they bring something out of you which you never knew you had. They make you feel respected. We are using these people to better our lives and in return, you are bettering their lives since you bring something of equal value to them. Whether that’s an equal amount of love or dedicated work force.
And the other type of users?
Those make me sad, tired, drained from deep to shallow. Even if they haven’t touched my life, I feel them sucking the life out of others. These are the user that take advantage of people without giving energy or anything in return. They live off of kindness. They feed off of the givers. They are the neverending takers.
Which role do you live? The givers or the takers? Is there a fine line between the two and why would it matter which side of the pendulum you end up on? Let me tell you, if you’re a giver it doesn’t mean you’re never the receiver. In your lifetime you will receive a monument of A LOT. But if you’re always a taker without gratitude for how people bend over backwards to make you happy, just know that your heart has a hole in it. the sands of the times are slipping out. Each grain represents a piece of happiness and content. You may not notice each output but at the end of your life, you will be filled with only foolishness.
The guards opened the door and a man walked in with the same terrified look, a look worn every time he came to visit her in prison. He tried his best to hide the stress behind his eyes. But she had a gift of feeling him. His best days, and especially his worse.
Do you love me? He had asked because he could no longer stand it. This woman had stood by his side for years, looked him in the eyes and told him the truth while the rest of the world lied to him. Sometimes he couldn’t shut her up. Philosophy, controversies, content in every shape or form blurting out of her mouth like her life depended on it. Yet he could never figure out where this women’s passion came from. When she felt, which was all the time, she sang, she spoke, she whispered. Fear of a topic was unheard of. With one exception. Never once had the word Love spilled off of her satin painted lips. Before she answered he wondered if the word no would feel like sitting at the base of a fresh avalanche or whether his heart would burst with lightning bolts if she said that lovely syllable; yes.
Do I love him? Do the birds look to the heavens before they take their flight? Do the priest hear their callings in the rhythm of their pulse or the devil in a thunderstorm? Do the lost never get found? Does the light never illuminate the darkness? Does the deep swallow the shallow? Does the whole devour the halfhearted? Her mind thought about that first question followed by a thousand more and wondered what it would be like if she loved him, and him only. Would she strike him down in his tracks and use every reason known to man to love him, to just be a woman, his women. That’d be nice. His woman, just like mama said I would have to be when I was all grown. But what mama don’t now doesn’t hurt. And what he doesn’t know will stroke his tenderness lovingly. Maybe I do love him…
I love you just like I love the stardust and eclipses from my past planet, she said as she looked him straight in the eyes. Neither blinked.
She was always saying weird shit like that. But that’s why he loved her. The way her mind worked, like she came from somewhere else, far, far away from any being on earth. Otherworldly, he use to whisper in her ear. When she said she had loved him like the stardust he pictured white sand placed in the palms of her hands slowly running through the cracks between her fingers into the space of emptiness, nothingness and black. He wished she had said she loved him like she loved the sun or the moon. But he was stardust and an eclipse.
Catch & Release
The order to release number 1041 finally came. When the message was received from the top ranks, officer Kanto couldn’t believe it. 1041 had been one of the good ones in a place where everyone was bad. He trusted none of them however because he saw like he could see the sun shining in the sky that when you dig deep enough, bad was waiting for the opportunity to show itself. That’s why these scums deserved everything they got. But Kanto had spent many times examining 1041. Something was different. He had never snapped, not even risked talking back. Even when the Chief Commander had kicked 1041 in the ribs for slipping in the shower, he hadn’t cried out like some of the cowards would have done. He simply picked himself up and stared at the commander’s shoes. Kanto could hear a thousand accusations in the silence. Somehow they weren’t pointing at 1041 but instead, the Commander.
Please God, help me forget how cold this world is. He missed the sun like he missed his mother. He missed homecooked meals that his wife use to cook after long hard days in the office. He missed hearing a good song on the radio. He missed feeling like he was alive. He missed and then there was nothing. Meanings had all changed the first day he walked into prison. 30 years was the number tattooed on the back of his brain, the remainder of a sentence given in exchange for one second of a mistake. He didn’t regret anything though. He was too far deep in his misery to regret. All he could do was accept and walk the tightrope of choosing life over death.
Kanto walked to the cell which was the cleanest in the prison. Probably even cleaner than the officers quarters, which didn’t say much since it was cleaned by the prisoners themselves. As he went he passed the bottom floor which was full of lifers and those on Suicide Watch. Some type of shadiness was always happening with these folks. Throwing shit on walls. Skin and bones refusing to eat. Animal noises all throughout the day and night. This was the floor that made the ranks grow cold in their hearts. Years on the first floor would change a man straight into a maneater. He thanked his ancestors for the luck of being a floater instead of a babysitter for these crazy crooks. Kantos mind wandered to the many times when they opened a cell door to a dead body suffocated with clothes, bedsheets, or smuggled plastic. Sometimes he wondered if his brother officers had any influence on how that plastic made its way inside those cells. But that was just one of the unspeakable topics, and there were many… He reached the 3rd floor and went to the room of 1041.
Sometimes 1041 couldn’t remember what it was like to be free. The other day an officer had asked him if he had a wife waiting for him. Wife. Did I have a wife? He said yes, but with all the mental effort going on he could not remember what her face looked like. Neither the smell of her hair or if she had been soft to hold or an absolute bitch. Yes, sir. I have a wife. She’s waiting for me and she’s beautiful. 1041 carried on doing all his choirs and duties all the while putting together the image of a woman who might or might not be his wife. When he was stressed or sad he liked to clean. He wasn’t supposed to be cleaning all day, but the guards were tired of beating him for something they couldn’t quite justify. So instead they let him clean and only gave him a few licks when the higherups were in site. Although he cleaned like his life depended on it, he always felt dirty. He could feel the stink and decay deep in his bones, surrounding him on every single surface.
Kanto looked into the cell of 1041. Spotless with not a cup or plate out of place. The bed could have been a perfect example for any military barrack. The floors actually shined as if he had used a cleaning product instead of a simple rag and water. Sadness overwhelmed him and for the first time in his career, he wondered if he had lived his entire life wrong. He thought of the thousands of times he had made this trip to an inmate who was about to be released. Sometimes he felt disgusted because some of these animals didn’t deserve to be pardoned. They’d be back in a heartbeat once they got caught stealing food to survive or cash to get high. Other times he actually felt happy. Last week he had given the good news to a young kid who was in for Grand Theft Auto. He wasn’t a bad kid. Misled, but he had the potential to go out and start a new life for himself. It was really unfortunate when less than a week later that same young man’s body was found in the Shinano River. He had hoped things would be different, but no matter how much you hope, fate happens.
Nowadays he couldn’t remember much. The only thing he knew was that he was a dirty person in a dirty place. He was 1041 and he had to clean. Sometimes things would flash in his head. I remembered. He remembered things that could have been from books he had read or it could have been his life. Beautiful things that made him cry and hope that he had been so lucky to have a family and times which would always be greater than his hardships. These remembrances were random but when they hit, they hit harder than any storm mother nature could throw at him. When they hit, he lost it. My lady. How lovely she was with her dark brown hair and light almond eyes. She used to sing while she took a shower and we use to walk our kids to the park every Friday. But they stopped coming and then the letter came. Dear Frank, I’m sorry but we’re starting our life over. We love you but you should also do the same. No. When I remember how she use to touch me and how my kids use to smile, how the hell was I suppose to start over? No. No. No. But I’ll forget about them tomorrow. Then they’ll come back and haunt me. I’ll rot here from the inside out, and always they will haunt me. 1041 thought about whether life was really worth it. He remembered that he had many, many years to go and the number 30 burned like blue fire on his brain. I won’t let these bastards have me. They might think I belong to them but I am free. Free in my mind. I am not an animal. I would rather kill myself than let them kill me. It was a very bad day when he remembered his name because he remembered everything else. He also remembered that eventually, he would forget. And the day before the commander released his number to the officer Kanto with orders to be brought back to his country and freed, he realized that he was done walking the tightrope. 1041 was no coward. He was no sheep. When he remembered, he also remembered that he was a man who lived above the influence of others with core values that could be traced back deep in the roots of his family tree. I’m a good man. I’ll die the best man I can be. 1041 stopped cleaning.
Kanto looked at the floor and stared at the pale face of 1041 who was looking straight ahead. He wondered how long he had been dead and what kind of reaction 1041 would have had if only he had been alive to receive the news that today he had been giving a special release because evidence had been found which had brought light to the real killer. A man who was already on level 1. He was sad and after 45 years of working for the prison, he decided that today he would put in his resignation and live a life that had more meaning than seeing dead bodies pile up in prison cells.
1041 was named Frank Tam. His last thought was the skin of his wife and how he loved when she kissed him on his neck. Before that, he thought of sunshine and the smell of the sea.
Before her mind wondered off into sleep, he came into her thoughts…
He looks at me when I’m trying to hide behind my hair and I know no matter how long it grows, his sight will always see farther. When he wakes in the morning his arms automatically reach for me like my body is his alarm clock. That first touch, his first prayer. That first kiss, the first sunray. When I drive us in the night with the city lights bright and the moon big, he’s sitting beside me studying my silhouette as if I was a star in a constellation. I can feel his satisfaction in the darkness. The curve in his ears, the shape of his neck. Not an inch too small, neither too big. You heard me, I said, perfect. No push and shove. How does he know exactly when I want my hand to be held? Suffication isn’t his specialty. He is my love, and still, my love has given me freedom. Side by side our bodies fit. Just right. Not like a puzzle, but like a pretzel. One into the other. Do people see the symmetry when we’re walking down the street? I can feel it in my heart, regardless. The reflection of my laugh can be seen in the apple of his eyes. I’d rather look at those than 42 rainbows dancing in the sky. Fruition, shine, mine mine mine. In his presence, I’m home. Safety is resting my head on his shoulder. Luckily, I snapped the wishbone. How lonely “Hello” sounds when he misses me. How much I can tell he cares when he speaks with his soft voice. Strong grip, sweet kiss. One look and I can tell, he loves me. How much I’d do to keep it that way. How far he goes just to make me smile. How much I smile just so he knows. He’s doing things. Things that excite me.
Yvonne lay in her bed and tried to imagine a lover that would be good for her. She saw the silhouette of a man next to her thanks to the imagination. He wasn’t real. But he’s real enough, she pondered. Which only made her sad. He smelt like a charm and dashed words at her ego full of promise, poetry and especially big worded bullshit. He would patch together the ravished heart that had been stepped on, pulled and tugged at from all sides by all types of maniacs. He was real, maybe not in real life. But as she finally fell into the dreamland of Sleep, REM reached and prayer done, she started to imagine the one person who was out there waiting for her, like she was waiting for him.
One day…was the last conscious thought before her fantasy and dreams took over.
She hated when he commented on her looks, only because it made her feel different when she looked in the mirror. The first time they had lunch together he had walked her to her car to say goodbye. As she turned to open the door he spoke one word barely louder than a whisper. Beautiful. She didn’t dare stop in her movement but instead pulled the handle quickly, push start and drove away. Not even a single parting glance. But as she reached the 5N freeway she paid attention to the feelings swimming in her stomach and dangerously pulled down the mirror to get a quick glance of the face which she had looked at her entire life. Driving in bumper-to-bumper traffic she realized for the first time, indeed, she was beautiful.
The second time, he came so close that she wanted to stop breathing. Instead, she took one deep breath hoping to inhale his scent and keep it in her memory forever. Leaning in, he brought the tip of his nose to her temple and again, that one word slipped out of his mouth. Beautiful. As she heard each syllable she closed her eyes and wondered why no one else thought so.
Each time was a new time. Each time he says the word, she smiles. Each time she wanted nothing more than to believe. Her transformation truly was beautiful.
Why hadn’t the other men ever told her she was beautiful? What about her parents and family? Why didn’t they see what her lover saw? She was everything and more, even if it had taken a lifetime to learn it.
That was just how she felt. Before he started beating her. Before the other women started calling him late in the night and he whispered into the phone, Hey, Beauty.
She was beautiful. The blackeyes would never take that away from her.
Ever had a day where you just didn’t give a damn?
I looked in the mirror and felt it coming. Looked out the window and even though the sun was shining stronger than hades fire, I felt cold inside. People always ask me if I’m trying to die of heatstroke. Yeah, I’m the weirdo who wears turtle necks in summer, who wears a ball gown in the desert, who looks like an Eskimo in winter. I live in San Diego for chrissake. I get it. Still, I don’t give a damn. I like hiding my skin because I’ve gotten used to how the hardships of my life have kept me pale( yes, that’s my own inside joke that you almost certainly wont understand). I like being hot because I know what it’s like to be cold. The cold makes everyone harder. Warmth is happiness in my bubble. Don’t even think about poppin’ it. In death, I will leap into the fire instead of placing one baby toe into frostbite.
Cold to the bones. Have you ever felt so alone that you no longer want to feel the touch of another human being? Most people haven’t. I have. That doesn’t make me special. Regardless; I am special. I put that on my mommy.
I try to keep it classy. Every day is walking down the Victoria Secret runway. Grocery Outlet ain’t got nothin’ on this. My Angel wings are rose gold, and my nails are dipped is crystals. Except when I see chocolate chip cookies. Then I lose my shit and go into destroy mode. Little red darts shoot out of my eyes. Have you ever been hungry? Sometimes I see pictures of little kids who go beyond malnourished. They look like little fragile birds, but they make me think of very, very old people. Can you come back from that aging especially when you’ve aged a thousand years and haven’t even reached a quarter of a lifetime? But I wonder, do they feel hungry? Or is it just how they feel… Sometimes I’m hungry. But not little bird or old women hungry. There is no emptiness in my tummy. Only in the heart. As long as my hunger doesn’t reach the brain, I’m fine. But I’m lucky. I’ve had more full than hungry and I’m not ashamed to say it.
I’ve had more bliss than blizzards and when I see the rainbow in the sky. The arch reminds me that I better take advantage while my rays shoot up. Eventually, They’ll shoot right back down buddy. Will you be ready? Or does the thought make you get a nosebleed?
I’m talking Sh*% to the ones that will listen. I come with the Heat. I’m still the same and I ain’t switchin’.
How Did Gauguin Do It?
She woke in the night and sensed her unhappiness standing in the corner of the room like an intruder watching in the dark. She wanted to say something brave to make it go away, but instead, lay completely still with heavy limbs. Her discontent washed over her body like a wave washes over a lone rock in the middle of the ocean. Her misfortunes mocked her, telling her that everything she had gotten had been well overdue and deserved. The body laying next to her made things even worse. When had they stopped loving each other? Or had they ever started… Suddenly a wish of being in bed alone made her feel the urge to get up, take her keys to the ignition, turn, and drive. Never comin’ back bitches. She was done. But she blinked in her bed and hugged the blankets hoping they kept her secrets safe from the rest of the world.
When did this happen? She wondered… The first child? Na, maybe the first slice of wedding cake when the love of her life had made a joke with the best man which was inappropriate just like the rest of his jokes and she found herself thinking for the first time as he brought a spoonful of wedding cake to her lips, I am swallowing the rest of my life. Fuck. Things weren’t so bad afterward. Kids came along and really made her work. Grey hairs increase as did her salon treatments. He found new hobbies to keep him the hell out of her hair. She praised the Gods for Golf and work conferences. From a distance she was happy. Under a microscope, she could have a made an onion cry.
But she had her own hobbies. Not like his. Her hobby was her imagination.
Walking away with one suitcase and not even a kiss goodbye. She had read about people who had beautiful lives and disappeared out of nowhere. It was hard for her to believe that these average Joes and Sheilas were kidnapped or killed and left in a ditch. But no body was ever found… No way. Those people weren’t dead, they were the brave ones who walked away. She could imagine thousands of the lost ones roaming the beaches of Bali, running their fingertip across the Colosseum, living lives that they had first dreamt and then followed.
How did these dreams even come to us?
Tahiti. It sounded so elegant and exotic when she let it roll off her tongue. That was always the destination in her fantasies. No one would find me there. She tried to calculate how long it would take her until she got bored. One year? Maybe two… She would be tan and feel free in her skin. Shed the pounds of childbirth. Beautiful with the sea wind in her hair, sunshine holding her tighter than a husband ever could. Every morning she would dip into the blue lagoons and flirt with the locals until one of them gave in. No more housewife ash and frizz. Her children had stolen her shine. Her husband had taken away the only fire that had once attracted him. Not anymore, suckers. Tahiti would make her beautiful again. Goodbye older, saner, plainer self. She envisioned the sun on a bright red horizon burning her soul like embers in the fire.
How did Gauguin do it?
She blinked again in the night, remembering that she had to wake up early to iron her husband’s shirt, feed the kids, feed the pets, feed herself, and feed her brain bullshit that tomorrow she was going to get on the flight to the South Pacific Islands and disappear to join the brave ones.
He made me remember how to love. That’s why I could never betray or hate him. They say never bite the hand who feeds you. And what about the hand who feeds your soul? I know sometimes it ain’t right. He had his secret and I had my secrets. Lots of secrets, which I think made us love even harder in the minutes of midnight. But damn I didn’t know that someone could hold them so heavy and deep, till when they came out, ties undone and you’re looking at that person like… who the hell are you? I’ve had that moment with him. Many times. But like I said. He taught me how to love again. I didn’t want him to come into my life. No one ever invites a storm, no one ever anticipates a car crash. Everyone feels it afterward only. At least those who survive.
He was so damn lovely the first time he came into my view. I remember thinking to myself, finally, the rumors were true. You could find someone and agree with every inch of skin, every strand of hair, every flick of the wrist which belonged to another human being. My fucking prototype. Welcome home, it felt like when he started to speak. Although that’s not what he said at all. What’s your name? I felt like he was messing with me. My name? It’s me dummy, the person who you’ve been waiting for all your life. Corny, I know. What do you expect? I follow in the footsteps on Juliet.
But we were strangers stranded on a deserted Dream with plush pink walls, sand beneath our feet, and cherry blossoms falling from the sky. No, not even that. Here we were just perfect strangers in a hallway and I had fallen for him before he even spat the word, Hello.
Hell, he had me at blink.