“You’re so big now,” the woman says to the boy sitting in front of her. Her voice is shaky and her old eyes, old not from age but from wear, are wet with tears. She wears a green knit cardigan that is also wet.
“Yeah… That happens—You know… With time and all,” the boy replies in an angry tone.
They have been sitting in the diner for about 3 whole minutes. It’s an American style diner with red booths and round marble white tables. The boy has kept the hood from his sweater on his head. Outside it rains.
A woman with puffy red hair, yellow cat eye glasses, and a blue apron approaches their table with an automated smile.
“Are y'all ready to order?” The waitress asks as she pulls out a small notepad from her blue apron and clicks her pen ready.
“I’ll have some pancakes, please.” The woman says. She’s very shaky and nervous-like.
“Just a coffee for me,” the boy tells her.
The waitress does not write this down. She takes the menus, that were never looked at, from the table and leaves.
“Have you missed me?” The woman sniffles and wipes away a running tear on her cheek.
Her face and hands have tiny cuts that one would only notice when up close in front of her. Her hair is thin and uneven. She’s ugly, really.
The young boy looks to the left, then to the right, then to the left again. As if he were about to cross a busy street. The question embarasses him. He winces a little.
“Not sure how one can miss someone they barely know,” he tells her this without looking at her.
He’s looking through the window across from them. He’s looking at the rain and the street lights. He always liked how the street lights reflect in the rain water.
“Oh… Salvador, you know me. You know me?” The tears reach her lips and smear her purple, velvety colored lipstick. Under her lipstick her lips are chapped.
“I go by Sal. And I’ve seen you a total of three times… In the last fifteen years. One was fifteen years ago when you gave birth to me. The second time was from far away in a court, and your attendance was mandatory. And the third is now. This is the only actual moment you’re voluntarily here” His voice grows colder, as it does outside with the pouring rain.
“It’s not easy being a single mother. You know your father left as soon as he found out I was… I had no financial means of keeping you alive. I couldn’t—How’s your uncle treating you? You like it with him?”
“Uncle Martín says ‘Fuck you.’”
The woman looks hurt. She frowns and shakes her head.
“No really, that’s what he said. He urged me not to come see you. Said you were a junkie.”
She buries her face in her hands and sobs loudly. Her elbows are on the table now. There is a small hole on her green cardigan, you can see her ashy elbow. The boy is embarrassed again.
“I’m going outside to have a smoke,” the boy says as he’s already standing up and making his way out.
For a moment he looks big standing in front of her, the woman sitting all hunched with tears in her eyes.
“You smoke?” The woman asks no one, as the boy is already outside lighting his cigarette.
The wind is piercing cold in his small pale face. But it doesn’t bother him. The wet wind keeps putting out his cigarette. He stole the pack of cigarettes from his uncle Martín who smokes a lot. His uncle always has multiple cigarette packs around the house. Sal concluded his uncle wouldn’t notice if he took a pack.
Inside, the woman waits for the boy with her pancakes and his coffee on the table. She runs her fingers through her hair, wipes the smeared lipstick off her chin with a napkin, straightens up her cardigan and waits.
The boy finishes his smoke and tosses the cigarette butt in the direction of a trash bin but he misses. He looks through the large window diner and sees his mother, a wrecked human. Their table is far from the window, and the woman is looking down so she does not see the boy watching her. He presses his lips against the cold glass and kisses her goodbye. He starts walking home.
Me regalas un cigarro
Una niña, de unos 16 años, disfruta un cigarro acostada arriba del cofre de su antiguo buick color azul. Está rodeada de gatos callejeros y un hermoso atardecer. A su derecha el sol es amarillo, amarillo como los mangos en el verano, y las nubes rosas parecen ser algodón de azúcar. A su izquierda los pájaros vuelan en su formación precisa sobre la blanca luna llena.
Una camioneta roja, con la cajuela repleta de herramientas de construcción, se estaciona a lado de la niña. El ruidajo del motor causa la niña a levantarse y sentarse en el parabrisas. De la camioneta roja sale un hombre, de unos 40 años, con una cara larga y triste. El cielo azul oscuro le da una apariencia aún más triste.
-¿Me regalas un cigarro?- Pregunta el hombre con una voz profundamente cansada.
Su voz contrasta con la de la niña
-¡Si!- Ella contesta con su voz rápida, llena de juventud.
Ella le acerca su cajetilla de Marlboros y el saca uno con una mano y con la otra se saca una cajita de cerillos de la bolsa del pantalón.
El hombre batalla con los cerillos mientras el viento sopla fuerte. Después de 4 cerillos por fin logró encender su cigarro.
El hombre se recarga en el carro.
-¿Qué haces aquí?- Él suspira el humo del cigarro y voltea a su alrededor examinando el estacionamiento vacío. El estacionamiento está en una colina y bajó la colina está una autopista ocupada con un vómito de luces rojas y blancas.
La niña encoge sus pequeños hombros y le sonríe.
El silencio de sus palabras está acompañado con ruidos lejanos de coches que pitan y cortan el viento con su velocidad.
-Me descansaron en el trabajo y mi esposa me pidió el divorcio.-
El hombre habla como si tuviera años de amistad con la niña y le estuviera confesando algo.
La niña lo mira con una cara de perpleja, como si el fuera de otro planeta. Por un corto segundo su cara refleja empatía y comprensión, pero rápidamente le regresa la perpleja.
La niña concentra su mirada en lo que resta del sol amarillo, como un mango, y las nubes de algodon de azucar se desaparecen. El cielo se ha comido el dulce atardecer. Voltea a la otra dirección a ver la luna, que ahora está más elevada y más brillante que la última vez que voltio. Ella profundamente inhala y exhala el humo del cigarro. El hombre se le queda viendo como si ella fuera un gran misterio.
-¿Me regalas un beso?- Le pregunta con su voz profundamente triste. La niña lo mira por un periodo de tiempo extendido y el se le acerca. La niña lo besa. El sol se ha metido. El cielo está oscuro. Y ella lo besa.
I have been making paintings for as long as I can remember. I am, however, not a painter. Despite this, it means a great deal to me when someone compliments my paintings. I don’t find them to be particularly good, I’d hate to keep them piled up in my room or elsewhere, so I try to sell them. Because people’s appreciation of my art is greatly valued by me, if an individual tells me, with their own original way of speech, that they find a piece pleasant to look at, I often gift it to them. I figure the feeling of being praised for my art is worth much more than the $20 or $30 I would sell it for.
I noticed a girl had posted a photo of a painting I was displaying at a show. That made me feel good. I must admit, I greatly dislike, more than dislike really, I am disgustingly disappointed at the fact that I only like my art as much as other people like it. I often catch myself influencing my own personal perspective of myself based on what others have to say about me. That, I know with sureness, is wrong. But because that girl posted that photo of my painting, I decided to message her, telling her that I’d gift it to her.
I step outside my house and start walking towards her parked car, wonder if I locked the door, walk back to the front door, lock the door, and proceed to her car. I decide to place the rather large painting in the back seat. I open the backseat door and find a child, no older than 5, and next to him a huge mess of clothes and toys and shoes.
“Hey! This is my son.” informs the mother with a soft smile, and I catch a glimpse of hopeful acceptance, almost like through her eyes she’s asking me if that's okay.
I didn’t know she was a mother, the girl was my age. The child points to the unplaced painting I am still holding in one hand,
“A baby!” he excitedly shouts and points.
The painting is titled “Tea Party”. On a cake-frosting-pink and a 7-year-old’s-room-purple background float an antique porcelain plate with sliced yellow lemons, a round baby head, a salter, and a penis cumming into a goldfish tank.
“Isn’t it pretty?” replies the mother to her child.
She tells me to place the painting on top of her “Mess”. I do so and close the door carefully. It makes me anxious to close the car door when someone is sitting right next to it, I always feel like I'm going to somehow hurt the person, like hit the side of their arm with the door or something. I sit next to her and she tells me I’m pretty. That always feels good. She’s pretty herself, tan, soft looking skin, with short curly brown hair, perfect teeth, the type that are very square-like, big red lips, and long black eyelashes that curl at the top.
“Let’s get breakfast.” she suggests, growing more comfortable.
It’s 12:35 PM. We drive to a small cafe that used to be a pasta restaurant. I enjoy not being the driver. I like looking at the world through a moving window, it’s almost like a film on fast forward. We arrive and order avocado paninis and coffee for ourselves and cinnamon toast for the child. We sit outside. The orange sun is hot but the breeze of the beach keeps the temperature cool, and we’re also shaded under a large table umbrella. The wind keeps shaking the umbrella and I’m almost sure it’s going to collapse on us. The waitress brings us, what is really, grilled cheeses with slices of tomato in them, no avocado. The boy sits quietly playing a game on his mom’s phone. She tells me about this book she’s reading, “The Science of Self-Realization” she excitedly runs to her car to get it. She comes back with the small blue book in her hand and begins to read. It all sounds ridiculously familiar, either my course textbook for my “World Religions” class I read last semester influenced the book or vise versa. She reads all about things my professor lectured for hours on, like an unpleasant deja vu, except she pronounces a lot of the terms wrong. I listen and nod and eat my avocadoless “avocado panini”. I feel like I’m being watched. I feel uncomfortable. On her pause of breath, one of the two women from the table next to us comments,
“That sounds so interesting. What are you reading?”
They’re white, middle aged women. The type that look like they go to yoga. I then hope, rather pray, that they don’t talk to us the entire time we are there. But of course, they, in fact, talk to us the entire time we are there. To make it further unpleasant they come off as rather unintelligent. They repeat the same vague, empty comments,
“That’s very spiritual.”
“That’s very deep.”
The girl, entirely unaware of and unbothered by their stupidity, keeps reading.
Eventually, I get up to ask for the overpriced avocado I paid for and never received.
Upon my return, one of them is talking about her dying dog and how she still talks to his spirit. After a short eternity, they leave.
I reach for my wallet in my small black handbag.
“Do you smoke?” she asks me.
I assume she saw the pack of American Spirits in my opened bag. I reply yes.
“Do you want to smoke a joint at the beach?” She casually asks.
It becomes clear what kind of smoking she meant.
“Sure.” I respond rather bummed and discouraged. It upsets me greatly that she smokes weed in her child’s presence.
I’m very much over smoking weed. It was something I did a lot late highschool, almost every weekend. You get over those things. I think having a child is a really valid reason to get over it.
She drives to the beach and carelessly parks at a public place. She takes out a jelly sized jar of weed and rolls a joint. I find it interesting that she double rolls it (used two rolling papers). She shows me a song she made with a friend, it’s one of those passionate raps about how unjust life is for minorities, and how oppressive the filthy government is. The ones that have been written many times before. We get out of the car and walk to a small playground in front of the beach. We watch her son play. I’ve always enjoyed watching children play, it fills me with a sense of calmness.
She tells me about the difficulties of being a single parent and having to depend on only herself to provide care for her son.
I find it interesting she confesses, "I often have no one to talk to, just my five year old son, imagine the conversations we have." We walk to the sand and at first I am hesitant to untie my shoes and take them off and hold them, I’m that lazy, but as soon as I feel the warm sand and shell pieces massage my naked feet I realize it was worth it. The child runs to the water, fully clothed, with the only type of freedom you can feel when you're five. The young mother struggles to light the joint with all the beach breeze. She plays calming melodic spanish music. The kid asks us, rather insistently like children often do, to go in the water with him. As soon as I stand up, I feel much lighter and I realize how beautiful the song is. I almost feel like dancing, but I physically cannot dance unless I’m drunk, so I keep it to myself, but I’m almost sure I’m swaying my body from side to side.
She points at the sky and says with a dreamy voice, "Those clouds look like a painting" and I look up and point at other clouds and add, "So do those." and the kid knowing, understanding, as if our three minds were occupied with the exact same thoughts, points at a different space in the sky and says "And look at those!" And those, precisely those are the prettiest clouds in the entire sky.
The blue, salty, foamy, water reaches my feet, I feel its coldness all over my body. My feet sink further and further into the possessive sand. For the following moments life feels absolutely beautiful. It was as if my purpose is to simply exist. The waves come and go to the rhythm of the song, and the sound of the crashing waves and salty wind become part of the song. Every color around me exists perfectly, the sky’s lively blue reflects in the water, and the white of the clouds is also in the bubbly foam of the ocean. The sand is light brown like the three of our skin tones. And I watch the girl dance with her son and suddenly age ceases to exist and they are just two humans, two souls, dancing together under the sun.
The bliss begins to fade, as all good things do. I think about having a simple life, a small cozy beach house in Mexico, a lover and a child, smoking natural homegrown weed and eating real mangos, dancing to the song of life.
She drives me back home and the feelings and images float in my head like bubbles rising farther and farther until they pop and disappear.
The Day Off
Unconsciousness. Darkness. Light. Consciousness. Anger. I wake up filled with anger and rage. It angers me to be awake. I roll over and reach for my phone from my night stand. 1:00PM. I slept through most of the day. Today is my day off, I don’t have school or work and I want to finish To Kill a Mockingbird I’ve been reading it for months. I should have finished it weeks ago but I cannot commit to finishing anything. Unhappy and bored with myself I decide to finish reading it today.
My mind contains vague images of last nights nightmares. I was lost in a room with light blue tiles all over. Light blue tiles on the walls, on the floor, on the ceiling, on the doors, on the furniture. It was frighteningly confusing. I was bumping into objects I could not see. The room seemed to shrink. And so did my lungs. Then, rather suddenly, I didn't see a single blue tile, all I saw was the color black. I began to fall, I was falling for a very long time. I was falling for forever it seemed, deeper and deeper into vast nothingness.
I convince myself to get out of bed, as I often have to.
I’m not hungry but I walk to the kitchen and open the fridge, by habit, rather thoughtless. I reach to open the cup cabinet and it’s loud rusty screech does a good job at waking me up. The only thing clean is a chipped porcelain mug. I got it from Disneyland on my 7th birthday. The picture on it has faded and now it just looks like a smudge of colors. I pour milk in it only to cringe at the thick blobs that come along with the milk. Expired. I feel pretty expired myself. Like my time is up. Like I’m rotting. I pour it all in the sink and watch the white disappear into the drain. Through the window I see my brothers and cousins playing soccer outside with the remainings of what used to be a soccer bar.
I notice one of the kitchen paintings has been flipped backwards, my uncle has been doing that, flipping all our paintings and portraits backwards. I think he’s losing it. I can see myself turning into him. Old, alone, insane. I keep having this recurring scene play out in my head, I'm in an empty white room holding a hammer, and I destroy the walls until everything becomes rocks and dust.
I climb up to the roof of our small apartment building and have a cigarette. The day is gloomy and the air is cold and sharp, but it feels good. I feel the coldness creep through my thin white shirt. The view isn’t necessarily pretty but it’s plentiful since the apartment has eight floors, the horizon is wide, I see other shitty apartments of Hunts Point, NY and dirty barefoot children in their bikes and women with many children and other rather unclean sights. Sometimes I wish I could watch the world, the way you watch things on T.V, as a simple observer without existing in it. I want to jump in the ocean and turn into ocean. I want to stretch my body infinitely into all directions until ceasing to exist.
I climb back down to my apartment, desperate for a shower. I shower with burning hot water and wish by body would evaporate with it.
I take a bus to a coffee house since my house is too loud to read in and I am easily distracted. I feel determined to finish my book. There’s a bum outside the coffee house and he’s mumbling some incoherent stuff about the war and the economy and he tells me he’s wired me and will be reporting all the information to the FBI. It leads me to think about how everyone's reality is different, and that there isn't necessarily something wrong with this man, he just has a different reality because his mind has been altered or “ruined” in some way or another. And how easily I can switch perspectives and see him as a victim of this cruel world. Switch perspective, a sad man who gave up.
I pull my altoids box out of my jean jacket pocket, I keep my cigarettes in it, to keep them in good condition. I also keep a photo of my father in there, he passed away a few years ago. I have brief flashbacks of all the arguments and fights we got into, we didn’t get along and we weren’t close, but he was the only parent I had.
I am brought back to present time when a kid, around my age, 16 or so, directs his pale blue eyes at me, “I’ll trade you a joint for four cigarettes.”
Maybe I responded without really thinking about it, or maybe I was just bored, but I pulled four cigarettes out and I made the exchange. I’m on the verge of becoming an alcoholic and I smoke turkish silvers until I feel sick, but weed never really got my attention, I’ve never really felt the need to “alter my mind” it’s like my mind is naturally altered by my inescapable insanity.
I walk inside and sit as far away from people as I can. I got used to isolating myself. It seems simpler this way. The receipt I was using for a bookmark fell out and I struggle to remember what page I left off on. I contemplate starting the book over since I now realize I don’t really have any memory of what I previously read. I feel someone's eyes looking at me. I grow uncomfortable and self conscious. I cautiously look up. It’s a girl and she’s kind of pretty. She has short black hair and a blue dress, she's drawing something in a red moleskine. I feel less ugly when pretty girls find interest in me. I’ve always believed I was unattractive, I’m tall and scrawny and my nose is too large for my face, and my cheeks are really pink and it always looks like I’m blushing. She keeps staring at me. I feel my body get up and my legs walk over to her, but it doesn’t really feel like it’s me walking up to her. Very out of my character, I go and sit with her. Maybe she was pretty enough to do it or maybe I was just bored.
“What are you drinking?” she asks, as if it mattered, her voice soft and smooth, like a child’s.
“Just black.” I respond, rather bored and unenthusiastic.
She’s much prettier up close, her skin is pale and she has small freckles spread evenly on her cheeks. Her finger nails are the exact same blue of her dress. I look down to see what she was drawing. I think it’s me. I stare at it for a while but she doesn’t seem to care. She very confidently proceeds to tell me she owns a copy of To Kill a Mockingbird and has read it seven times. I’m terrified that she’ll ask for my opinion on it, since I obviously don’t have one. We start talking about music and she keeps mentioning artists I’ve never heard before. I think she realizes that and I keep thinking she thinks less of me. I realize I‘m thinking too much and I’m not listening to what she’s saying. Did she just invite me over to her house?
“So do you?” She asks. Her eyelashes are long and curly and her lips are dark sunset pink.
“Do I what?” I ask, like the idiot I am.
“Do you want to come over and I’ll show you my records?” She laughs a little. Her bottom teeth aren’t straight but they somehow suit her smile.
She gets up and asks if I want to drive or if I want her to drive.
“I parked far.” I lie, I took the bus here and decide not to tell her that. I’ve grown accustomed to keep information to myself, to exclude others of what goes on inside my head.
She drives a beige 1985 Buick LeSabre. It smells like candy and cigarettes.
She offers me a cigarette, I open my altoids box and pull out the joint. She laughs and takes it from me. She plays all sorts of shoegaze and 80’s rock and we smoke the joint. She pulls up at this apartment complex, much nicer than mine. Her house is filled with plants and religious figures. She leads me into her room, it’s filled with elaborate paintings of nature and the human body and stacks of books and records. One painting really gets my attention, it’s a naked woman floating in the ocean with fruit surrounding her, it’s very beautiful and precise.
The door closes loudly and I turn to look at her. She’s staring at me and I get really nervous. I think she wants to fuck. I’ve only had sex a couple of times and I didn’t really like it all that much. I guess I never really fucked anyone I truly wanted. She plays a Slowdive record, then stares at me some more. She starts dancing and pulls off her dress. I stand in front of her awkwardly. Her body is really small and her waist is tiny, she's not wearing a bra and her tits are small and perky. She also has some freckles on her chest. She’s fucking beautiful just standing there all innocently. I have a boner and I’m trying to decide whether my body is trembling or if there’s an earthquake going on. She reaches for my hand and and puts it inside her pink underwear, it’s wet, like really really unusually wet and warm. I pull my hand out and it’s dripping red. I think about her red moleskine and the drawing of me in it. She puts her hand in her pink underwear and the dripping thick red looks really nice on her small pale hand. She has many rings on her fingers, with gemstones and pretty figures. She starts finger painting on my body with her period blood. Unsure of what to do, I do the same, I paint swirls and hearts on her chest and stomach and back. Her ass is a work of art, it’s round like two bubbles put together, but it remains petite like the rest of her body. I look at my body and it’s covered in tree branches and flowers and the moon over my chest. She touches my face and I touch hers. I feel something I’ve never felt before. Is it happiness? Genuine desire to fuck someone? Am I high? An elaborate combination of all? She stares at me with her child-like eyes as I take my clothes off. I lay her down, her small soft body. I pull her underwear off and I start to fuck her. I fuck her all sorts of ways and lose myself in the sound of her moans. If I could only listen to one more thing for the rest of my life it would be the melody of her moans. It feels really real, like I suddenly understand what sex is, two people connecting, sharing, taking, giving. I have no sense of time so I don’t know how long we fuck for but at one point we both kind of just hold each other. I stroke her hair and she strokes my cheeks. In her light brown eyes I see a lot of things.
I take a bus home, it’s dark outside and the lights and the people and the motion around me are filled with beauty I’ve never noticed before. Like people’s actions and words craft the work of life. Existing feels like a form of art. I feel different. Maybe I’m just not bored anymore.
The Skeleton Man
A tall slim man, about 35, is shaving in a badly lit bathroom. The faded dirty yellow paint is peeling off the walls. He closes his eyes and listens to the sharp blade cut through his thick prickly face. The faucet squeaks when it opens and a small straw of water washes away the white shaving cream. On the old porcelain sink sits a dead rose inside a brown glass beer bottle. The dry red rose curves downwards, as if ashamed of its own ugliness. The man stares at himself through the cracked mirror. Emotionless.
With his heavy hands he opens the bathroom mirror cabinet, revealing a series of small black and white paint bottles. He twists a bottle open and dips his large index finger in the paint. The man carefully paints his face, almost ritualistically. Slowly rubbing the black paint around his eyes and on his nose. Then the white everywhere else. On himself, he has painted the face of a skeleton. He stares at himself once again, his eyes blue and wicked. The light flickers three times.
He gets into his old minty-green truck and changes the cassette. Beethoven’s Piano Sonata No. 8. He drives over an endless bridge with endless lampposts illuminating his face every few seconds.
He parks in front of a two story house. The decaying porch and angel statue give the house an antique feel. The street is silent and his footsteps are loud.
He carefully twists the doorknob, the door is open. He is greeted by a woman in a witch costume, who offers him jungle juice from a giant pumpkin.
Meanwhile somewhere in San Francisco…
In the corner of what looks like an abandoned room with faded pink peeling floral wall paper, two kids sit ever so casually on a hard, thin, worn out mattress, with historical stains of all sorts of different shades of yellow and brown. The blue of the sky and the outside sound of chattering everyday passersby and children running around with their vast imaginations is coming in through an broken glass window, along with the warm scent of a summer afternoon. The boy, 16 years of age, with long, brown, uncleansed, unbrushed hair sits in an upward position firmly holding his aged guitar with half peeled led zeppelin stickers. His fingernails dirty his mind concentrated on playing a song just right. Entirely unaware of his struggle, the girl, 17 years of age, with curly waves of blond hair and smeared mascara, sits criss cross trying hard to blow bubbles with crappy tasting 15 cent pink bubble gum from the corner store. In her mouth with the center of her tongue and her palate she presses the hard mush into her best attempt at a circle, then wraps it around her tongue, holds it with her top and bottom front teeth and blows. It pops loudly. Almost but not quite the size she was going for. It’s a difficult task because the bubble gum isn’t large or stretchy enough. It’s only been a few chews but it’s already running out of flavor. The boy has a good rhythm going and the girl begins to sing out of tune.
Waves of Madness
This is a collection of interrelated short stories about a group of kids in high school; I wrote these when I was 15.
“I roll my thumb through the flint wheel, I can feel every gap between it. I attentively watch as the sparks turn into fire, as the cold wind sways the bright orange flame. The tip of my thumb burns along with my soul, but the bench that I sit on is very cold. I lead the flame to the tip of the cigarette and allow it to do its harm. I suck in the poison, is this why I’m filled with poison? I blow out the smoke, it forms a pale face staring back at me, or maybe it’s in my head, I can’t tell the difference anymore. I don’t remember when my addiction to cigarettes began; I don’t remember when things got this bad.”
My neighbor narrates to me. He comes and goes from an asylum a few miles North. He serves as a constant reminder that I need to get my shit together, or I’ll end up like him.
I fucking hate school. I want more hours of sleep. I want to learn things I care about. I want to learn about Philosophy, Literature, Art, The Human Mind, Astronomy, Film, The Earth, Music…I want to learn how to live. I want to learn how to understand. I want to paint murals. I want to donate my time to an orphanage. I want to go on long road trips. I want to love someone. I want to be loved. I want to feel something, something worth feeling, something worth staying alive. I constantly get this feeling that there is something great out there waiting for me, but I am stuck here. Far away. Distant.
School makes me feel like trash. I am surrounded by athletes, attractive people, honor roll students, over achievers etc. My first class is math. I drag myself inside. The sound around me slowly fades out and I see the teacher’s mouth move, I see her scribble numbers on the board, I see hands rise.
It’s getting late,
there’s this hole in my chest
that I can’t fucking explain.
School bores the Hell out of me,
and it takes up all my time.
Memorizing all this irrelevant shit numbs my mind.
I’d rather climb a tree.
I’d rather write a story.
I’d rather seek a greater glory.
I walk to my next class, Newspaper, this one I can tolerate. Mr. McKee walks in wearing his usual attire, worn out overalls with a faded red shirt under, the left strap is torn. His beard is grown out and his hair looks like it hasn’t been washed. He resembles a farmer.
He clears his throat, “You all must turn in the column that was assigned to you yesterday by the end of the week.” With that said, he walks out.
Spencer speed walks towards me, “Let’s get creative,” He tells me as he pulls out some pot from his pocket.
Spencer is wearing a distinctively green shirt with ripped jeans and faded yellow converse that were once white. He’s tall and has long dirty blonde hair. His eyes are a blue that glows, although it’s hard to see it because he has huge pupils. Spencer is adopted. He’s best described as an adrenaline junkie.
He passes the blunt to me, “I don’t know exactly what I’m going to write but I know it’s going to be big.”
Valeria tags along.
“What’s up Val?” I exhale.
Val is short, skinny, tan, and has long brown curly hair that falls to her waist. She’s wearing a white shirt with banana yellow flowers, and pastel purple shorts. She greets us with a warm smile. Val is a vegetarian and a pacifist and has the weirdest parents I’ve ever met.
Everyone excitingly starts jotting things down, as I stare at my blank paper and think of what to write. I get tired of staring at the white paper so I look out the window, but the sky is just as white.
I walk from class to class feeling purposeless. Next is Physics.
“Danny, wait up!” I turn around. It’s Ed.
Ed is, without a single doubt, the strongest individual I know. He takes good care of himself and his parents. Ed’s mom has terminal lung cancer. Ed’s dad has depression. He speaks of his mother describing her as an inspiration, an example to follow, a guide. I remember when we were children; I perfectly recall the smell of her voluminous black hair and her contagious smile. She kissed Ed’s belly with red lips and left smudged kiss marks all over. I remember feeling the sincerity in her hugs. I clearly visualize the happiness she propelled in him. Now he wishes to do the same for her. It hurts watching her decay in pain; it hurts even more watching Ed collapse into pieces. It’s frustrating because there’s nothing we can do to stop it, nothing but stand by his side holding his shoulder, sharing the pain, so the doses doesn’t hit as hard. Despite all of this, his eyes are filled with hope, hope that his mom will get better. No matter how many people around him stop believing, he holds on to that hope.
We greet each other and walk in together.
I never knew how it got there. I just remember finding it one day, when I was seeking peace in the forest, years ago. It’s a beat up, old, pale orange couch. Counting the stains on it is an impossible task. It has blue and green patches on it and some duct tape that seem to serve no purpose. Of the many holes it has, one of them is large enough to hide items in it. Items. We’ve had so many memories on this couch, all a bit blurry, because we use that couch in the woods to smoke pot. Next to our couch is a big aged tree, with a vast amount of carvings in it. I’ve engraved small stick people in it, Spencer has engraved words he likes, Val engraved a peace sign and everyone else has engraved random figures. The small forest is almost two miles away from my house, but only one mile away from school.
There’s a creepy old man that seems to always be following us in the forest. He has a long, white beard and wears a brown leather sleeveless coat, with a dirty white shirt under; I know he always wears the same shirt because it has a large hole near the lower stomach. He always holds a gun or a knife and he hides behind trees, carrying an expression of anger on his face.
“Do you think psychopaths are victims of their own mental disease? Or are they monsters doomed to hell?” asks Sophia.
Sophia has a pale, skinny face with an endless amount of freckles, rosy pink cheeks, red heart shaped lips, and long black wavy hair that is always out of place, she has a flat chest and a small waist, and her eyes are grey and sad.
As we wander into the empty streets, we find something quite amazing, an abandoned graffitied highway. Colors and shapes of all sorts fill the dark gray road.
“This is wicked.” Josh smiles enthusiastically.
One of the pieces is so detailed and well done, it appears to jump out at me, or maybe I’m still a little high. These days I can’t tell.
I keep having this day dream. In it I see myself in a classroom with other students. The school is in a lockdown, and a girl our age breaks into the classroom with a gun pointing at us. I look her in the eyes, and I can read her, her eyes tell me she’s doing this because she’s never felt loved or appreciated, she feels isolated and vulnerable. I slowly walk towards her, not breaking eye contact. I grab her face gently and begin to kiss her, my hands slide down to reach hers. I effortlessly take the gun from her fingers. I am now holding the gun. I feel my arm elevating towards her head. I stop kissing her and I stare deeply into her hopeless eyes. The blue in her eyes is the ocean I’m swimming in, I pull the trigger.
“School tells students facts and formulas to fill them up, and make them believe they are filled with knowledge, knowledge they never actually acquired,” Sophie tells me. And I believe her. She’s endlessly fascinating.
“I believe we don’t know anything, but knowing that is enough,” I share, hoping she understands.
She smiles and nods. She understood. I feel this connection I’ve been feeling towards her, but before I can put my thoughts together Spencer barges in.
“Have you guys ever stood in the middle of a room and listened to other people’s conversations?”
“No not reall-“
I give in. I try to focus on one of the many conversations going on. I hear a girl’s voice, it has a distinctive high pitch,
“It was dead quiet; all the classmates were doing class work, or pretending. I felt the mucus coming up, the itchy burn in my throat. This cute guy was sitting right in front of me. Don’t do it. Don’t do it. Don’t do it. I told myself. My chest was on fire; my lungs were going to bust. Don’t let it happen. Don’t let it happen. Don’t let it happen. Jesus Christ! I began having a cough attack! I was choking with the mucus in my throat. He stared, bewildered, like the rest of them. I went to the hospital that day; doctors were unsure what it was exactly.”
“That was quite a story,” remarked Sophia looking at Spencer , who was already preoccupied with something else.
The last bell rings. The last bell is the most soothing sound there is, the sound of freedom. We head out. I see our friend Sky in the distance. She sees us too. Sky is bony, and has big brown eyes and small lips. Her self-esteem is surprisingly lower than mine. As we walk to the forest together, it starts sprinkling, sprinkling turns into pouring rain. Sky begins to dance in the rain and claims to wonder what the rain would feel like on her bare feet. Sky is odd in a mysterious way. She takes off her shoes and her socks. She skips and jumps barefoot under the rain.
“I feel so alive!” she declares, “You guys need to try it!”
Without a thought I take off my shoes and socks. The first few steps are the coldest. The crunchy leaves massage my feet as I continue walking.
We reach the mystic couch and sit on what are basically soggy cushions. The wind lifts Sophie’s shirt and reveals a big bruise on her waist, the purple and pink blend together to form what looks like a galaxy.
“Sophie what happened to your waist?” I ask immediately.
“It’s nothing,” she mumbles.
I accept her answer but remain worried. I really truly care for her.
Sophie held my hand and we ran, we ran, and we ran. The wind was cold, pure and fresh, I felt the bones inside my legs and my arms and the connection between my hand and hers. I felt my heart beating and my blood rushing. I felt every part of me all at once. With her I felt alive.
I saw your face in a pink cloud,
on a bright blue background.
I reached out to hold your face,
and I found myself holding the entire outer space.
In my hands, I held everything that ever existed,
planets unknown of,
species unheard of.
Curious looking purple creatures caught my eye.
They told me about machines that did things I didn’t even know were possible.
I told them about the satisfaction of sleeping in cars and setting things on fire,
about drugs and coffee.
I told them about rain and bruises and Art.
They got lost in my words,
and I got lost in my thoughts.
I told them about you,
but they didn't believe me.
They said someone like you couldn't exist in a planet like mine.
I let go of your face and everything disappeared.
And I was back to where I once was,
staring at your face in a pink cloud.
I’m watching my friends; they’re sitting on a bench. I’m not too sure why, but I prefer sitting on the floor. We’re observing all the people walking around us. It seems simple but it’s fascinating. Every individual has their own life, their own problems, their own thoughts. It’s interesting how someone’s whole entire life is but a small detail in the background of another’s.
“Our life is meaningless to so many people, out of seven billion humans how many are unaware of our existence?” says Sophie, but all I hear is “I’m depressed.”
I see a lady with bright green hair and tall shoes yelling frantically on the phone. I see a fat man shoving a large burger in his mouth. I see a man walking his dog, or the dog walking his man. I see a woman holding hands with two happy kids. All these people surrounding us. What do they see when they look at us?
We end up staying in this spot longer than we thought we would. We’re hungry now.
“There’s this really good pizza place across the street,” Announces Ed.
I dig my hands in my pockets, “I have three dollars and fifty cents.”
“I have a nickel,” Helps Spencer.
“I have two dollars,” Val says.
“We need three more dollars,” Says Ed.
Spencer’s blue eyes open wide and he directs his head to a wishing fountain next to us. The idea is completely bizarre and we could just take a bus to someone’s house and eat there, but at this point I am way too tempted to get in that fountain and take the coins.
“You idiots can get in, I’ll wait here,” Remarks Sophie.
I turn around and Spencer already has one foot in the fountain. He folded his jeans to his knees but that looks uncomfortable so I just take my pants off. We hand the wet coins to Ed so he can count them. Spencer casually lights a cigarette and continues to take handfuls of coins, he runs his wet fingers through his long blonde hair, “How much is that?” he mumbles with a cigarette in his mouth.
“Four dollars and… Ed finishes counting eighty-four cents.”
Spencer leaps out of the fountain and splashes Sophie with dirty coin water.
“What the Hell!” she screams. Spencer laughs hard and I kind of do too.
“We stole people’s wishes.” Val looks at me.
With nothing to dry myself with, I put my pants back on my wet legs. We walk over to the pizza place, but I guess it’s too late because it’s closed.
I constantly get stuck in my nightmares. My mind is aware I’m dreaming, but my body doesn’t wake up. It feels like someone is pushing my face against my pillow and it’s hard to breathe. It can last seconds or minutes and it’s pretty fucking terrifying.
I woke up from the oddest dream. In it I saw my elementary school librarian. She gave me a card; it was a thick, white card, with a shiny colorful square in the corner. She explained that with the card, I’d be able to leave my nightmares. She told me when I had a nightmare all I had to do was rub the shiny colorful square on the card and I would wake up.
I wasn’t close to my elementary school librarian at all. One thing I clearly remember is her fascination towards frogs. Her library was filled with frogs. She once confessed to my first grade class that she hated books.
At school the first thing I notice is Sky’s hair. It’s much shorter than mine.
“A child with cancer will enjoy my hair more than I ever could,” she says.
“I like it,” I admit.
“I thought you would” she answers.
I smile. She’s such a kind human.
I walk to class with her. She tells me about the organization she donated her hair to and how she wants to start an organization for teenagers with eating disorders. She speaks with words filled with passion. Suddenly before I can react, some asshole in the hallway hits her shoulder.
“Dike!” he snorts.
“What’s your problem?” I grab Sky and walk faster.
“Are you okay Sky?”
“Yea I’m fine!” she yells.
I go to class. I walk in late. Everyone’s standing doing the pledge of allegiance. I don’t do the pledge of allegiance. I never believed in it. One time me and my friends stole an American flag and burned it.
I sit down and have a thought. To get money you need to go to college, but to go to college you need to get money, so I applied for a job, but to get a job you need working experience, but to get working experience you need a job.
In class I read about the Gaia Hypothesis and it makes perfect sense to me. That everything is connected; the thousands and thousands of species in the planet are just one, one big organism, that every individual, is not an individual, for we are earth’s cells, and the roots of its trees are its veins, and the water that flows is its blood.
I want the dreadful day to end; I’m going to a concert after school. I wait and wait and wait, and then the last bell finally rings.
Outside the concert, someone is handing out acid, we take some. We wait in a disorganized sloppy line to get in. The wait feels like hours. I glance around and I see violently excited people and partly developing mosh pits. The savage people are about to knock the fence down. I can begin to faintly hear music softly playing. But that’s all it took.
The music gets louder,
My heart’s beating faster.
Spencer says, banging his head against the floor,
“What the fuck are we waiting for?”
Sky springs in and out,
Waiting to suppress the crowd.
I lay in vast emptiness,
As I fall towards the fence.
I shout in anger and scream in pain.
The drugs kick in, I feel insane.
We made it in, the music and the lights blur in together and I search for a feeling of bliss.
I was watching him. I saw him. He would enter his parents’ store and rob from them. He would, constantly. It hurt him; he was disgusted with himself, every time he did it. He thought to himself that it was the worst part of him that did this. He felt as if he was living the same day over and over again. One day as he went through the regular routine of entering his parent’s store, a sudden noise struck his reflexes. He ducked behind the counter. Someone was outside insistently knocking on the door. The lady behind the door was crying hysterically informing the parents that owned the store that their son was dead. His heart sunk, only until he realized he didn’t have one. He was dead. He lived his most dreadful day every single day. He was in hell. Hot burning tears rushed down his face. I woke up with a wet face.
I wake up with the biggest pain in my head. I don’t remember getting into bed. I feel a combination of a hangover headache with bruising pain. The last thing I saw was red and blue flashing. The last thing I heard was Spencer frantically shouting. I was in the passenger seat and he was driving. I touch my head, excruciating pain, I remember I banged my head on the car window. Now there’s blood on my shirt. What the fuck happened.
My mom walks in mumbling and crying, “This is my fault,” she blames herself.
“No, I’m sorry.” It can’t be.
What the fuck happened? My facial expression asks a million questions.
“Your friends are okay,” She says.
My million questions seem to be answered.
My side aches in pain. Then I remember, I was knocked to the floor and handcuffed, the floor was wet and cold, I was blinded by the lights. The pain makes me remember what I have forgotten. More pain but now it comes from my chest. Val was sobbing. A mistake.
The sky is ever so gloomy. Sophie’s laying on a bench having a smoke, ashes of cigarette are falling on her face, the wind is blowing them away. It’s very cloudy; the sun is not at all visible. And under this ever so gloomy sky, a gentle sob transforms into a drastic breakdown. She pulls her hair until pieces fall off and beats the floor until her knuckles bleed. Life was in its simplest form too much for her.
A few dreams ago,
I was lost in a dark forest,
with pine trees that extended farther than my thoughts,
and a black sky that blinded me.
I was the only human there,
Animal noises surrounded me.
When a girl held my hand and showed me the way out,
she said follow me
and together we will see.
Doubtfully I grabbed her hand,
this girl showed me another land.
One with blue skies and flowers colored every shade of pink imaginable.
She handed me a smile,
and I kept it for a long while.
I don’t feel like I belong to an existing religion. I feel the God I believe in is different from the God everyone else believes in. I’ve tried several religions but I feel I don’t fit. The God I believe in loves everyone unconditionally, gender, race, where you come from, who you chose to love, those things don’t matter to the God I believe in. I believe it’s not okay to do bad or harm and go “confess” or apologize and then redo the same bad or harm and reapologize again over and over. I believe that’s lying to God, because when you truly feel sorry or remorse or regret you won’t ever do it again. But until you are sure of that, you cannot claim to be sorry. Honesty is crucial. When you lie you cease to exist. You are your words and your thoughts. If your words and your thoughts are not true, your existence is not true. If you’re living a lie, you’re not living at all.
Be truthful about what you say.
Be truthful everyday.
Be truthful about who you are
or you won’t go very far.
Upon failing to do so,
your existence will become a lie.
Your heart will beat,
but every part of you will die.
The God I praise is the most powerful force of purity and goodness. I believe he put us here to learn, to discover, to live. I stay close to God by talking to him; I talk to him about everything and anything, anytime and anywhere. The God I believe in hates war. This is why I come to understand why I don’t understand war. He wants us to help one another, in order to help ourselves. I don’t believe in karma, if you do good because you want good back you’re not truly doing good. You’re thinking about yourself and what you’re going to get out of it, instead you must be good because it’s a choice you make, because it’s who you choose to be. You decide who you want to be, you find yourself, and if you don’t like yourself, recreate yourself. I don't believe in a heaven or a hell. It's not that simple. There is so much more than simply good and bad. Minds are elaborate and complex, there's good, bad, everything in between and everything outside. How many bad things can you do until you're still a "good" person? Eternal happiness wouldn't be happiness it would be a feeling you would become accustomed to. Happiness has value because it’s scarce. The only reason you can feel happiness is because you also feel sadness, you can feel the change in the levels of dopamine in your head and that's how you feel high. Hell only exists on earth. And when our bodies decay our souls go away, not to a heaven or a hell but somewhere else, somewhere we couldn't possibly understand as human beings living on earth.The God I believe in is simple. Truly being good at heart, loving him, and striving to make a positive change, not only for yourself, but for others, is sufficient. It’s a religion of my own. I don’t have any prayers, I write God poems instead.
You are everything good,
We are made up of you.
You love us endlessly.
You paint skies full of life for us.
We sing for you.
You lead the way,
And we take pride in taking it.
You teach us value and kindness,
You catch us when we fall.
I devote my existence and myself to you,
My lovely God.
I love you from here to the end
I love you without a single pretend
I’m just trying to make sense of it all
Without you, I know I’d fall
You make it whole
The human anatomy and the soul
You glue it together
I know our bodies are not here forever
But I know our souls are free whenever
I believe in you wherever
I throw myself with open arms
Because with you there are no harms
I decide to ask Sophie to hang out. I like being with her. I enjoy her presence. We climb the side of her house and sit on the roof. The sky is a mystic black decorated with small shiny crystals. I can find the same shiny crystals in Sophie’s sad grey eyes. I admire her face. We’re drinking cheap coffee and smoking pot. I love this. I love pot. I love coffee. I love Sophie. And for a brief moment, I feel like I have it all.
The freckles on your face
Take me to outer space
I hear a distant drum roll
I paint my face pink
I hear a loud drum roll
I feel every stroke on my face
I hear a furious drumroll
The beat gets quicker
I break the paintbrush in half
And my tears wash the pink paint away
The drumroll is the beat of my heart
I’m outside my house, and I can feel something behind me. It leaps at me, it’s a demon creature, about six feet tall, its rough skin is bleeding, its eyes are the size of bowling balls, and it stares at me without blinking. It stares and it tells me with its deep raspy voice that it can see my soul. It has long long sharp dirty finger nails. I run to my front door, but I’m running in slow motion. It scratches my back, I try to run faster. I try to close the door but there’s a huge gap between the door and the door frame, a gap big enough for a large body to fit through. The demon gets closer and I have nowhere to run or hide. I am completely exposed. I feel one of its long nails stab into my stomach, and another one break through my leg, it stares at me smiling, with its pointy yellow teeth. It notices me staring at its teeth, it bites my face. I’m dreaming, I know I’m dreaming. Then why does this terrify me so intensely? Then why do I feel pain? I remember. I reach for my pocket; I feel it, the card my elementary school librarian gave me. I pull it out and rub the shiny colorful square sticker.
I open my eyes. I hear a police siren. I jump out of bed, but my body wasn’t ready, I fall. I get up and struggle towards my window. I see the police lights. They’re taking my neighbor to an asylum again. At this rate, that’s where I’m headed.
Some kids from school are throwing a Halloween party at an abandoned house.
“The story goes…” Spencer starts
“OH Please!” Sky interrupts with a disgusted expression.
“THE STORY GOES… there was a teenage cult, who praised Satan, every 3rd of every month they found a young soul to sacrifice. They would wait outside a church and capture the young pure souls. They drowned them in a hot boiling tub and performed rituals around them. In the end the cult decided to sacrifice themselves in order to be in Hell with their beloved Satan. It is said that still today, every 3rd you can hear the teenagers shouting in different tongues and the victims begging for mercy. People have said that in the windows you can see the crying faces of all the victims.”
“That sounds like some scary shit,” Ed claims.
“That sounds like some bull shit,” Sophie replies.
We all admit it’s a stupid idea but decide to go anyway.
Spencer comes up to me with a small plastic bag filled with little colorful pills.
“Where’d you get this?” I question.
“Some wild dude with tattoos, piercings and aids!” He mocks, “Just fucking take one!” Spencer demands shaking the bag in my face. I take the bag from him and take a pill.
Girls take advantage of Halloween to dress like whores, and guys take advantage of them, a vicious cycle of abuse.
The house fills with people. Every time I blink another flock swoops in. Everyone is dancing, jumping and shouting. I can feel sweat drip down my cheeks. Soon the house is packed, I can’t find my friends. I’m only half conscious. Where did my other half go? I feel much lighter now. I must be floating, floating in a mystic land, in another dimension. All the colors blur. The thick air is suffocating. I must exit. I cannot exit my body. No not my body the house. Right, exit the house. I need to breathe. Fresh air sounds great. I can’t find the exit. I see a hallway. I enter the hallway. I see what looks like a little girl in the distance. What the hell is she doing here? What the hell am I doing here? Right, the exit. Why can’t I concentrate? The little girl is staring out the window. I cautiously walk towards her, measuring every step. I tap her small shoulder. She begins to turn her head slowly. She reveals her face and it’s scarred with severe burns. I run faster than I ever thought I possibly could. That did not just happen. Or did it? Fuck. I can’t tell real and not real apart. My neighbor no! I continue looking for the exit. I open a door. This cannot be I cannot breathe! I see the demon from my dream.
Some drunk guy pulls Sophie in a room. He throws her on the bed. She has no idea what’s going on, the poor girl’s drugged. He rips her dress off. She tries to push him off but her physical strength is not great enough. He rapes her.
Sophie wakes up and realizes what has happened. She is left torn to pieces so small no one could ever figure out how to put them back together. She walks to the bathroom. She stares at herself in the mirror. She desperately searches the cabinets and takes out a bottle of painkillers. She shoves all of them in her mouth, turns the faucet on and drinks the water. She walks back to bed.
When the news came to me, my insides shattered. Every part of my body collapsed. Every inch of me ached.
My mom told me Sophie’s uncle had stopped by and left a box for me. I build up the courage to open the box. It’s filled with drawings I made her and her favorite books. I take a book out. I open it and a flower falls out. It was pressed in the book, perfectly preserved.
I close my eyes and remember. Sophie was laying down on very green alive grass. She looked so comfortable. I picked flowers and put them around her face, they were purple daisies, her favorite. Then I began placing them around her body. I outlined her body with flowers. She laid there staring at me. I stood there admiring my art work. I closed my eyes and preserved the moment. I open my eyes now I am back to reality. Pain, inescapable pain flows through my veins. I close my eyes and try really hard to go back. But it doesn’t work. I can’t do it. I can’t go back. I’m trapped in the present nightmare I live. I want to rip my veins out. I want to be a flower pressed in a book. My vision blurs with tears.
In school rumors about how or why Sophie killed herself spread faster than possibly understandable. Hours grow into days, days grow into weeks, weeks grow into months, and she is never seen again.
She wanted an escape,
her soul ached.
She thought the pills could take her pain away,
she said, “This is the only way.”
I stared at her pale face,
the image I cannot erase.
Her eyes were grey,
there was nothing I could say to make her stay.
Bruises looked like galaxies on her skin,
the pink and purple seemed to spin.
I saw her put them in her mouth.
She heard me scream and shout.
She reached out her hand and gave me a flower.
I think of her every hour.
I am a miserable piece of shit laying on the couch. The phone rings. The ringing bounces back and forth in my ears. Such a deadly noise, I’d rather get up and answer it than hear that damn thing ring one more time.
“Hello,” I groan.
“It’s me,” Ed cries on the phone.
“What’s wrong Ed?” I worry.
“She’s gone.” His voice breaks off with a cry.
I don’t know what to say. It’s been a lot of seconds. “Ed I’m here for you, always.”
“I held my mother’s hand and sang to the rhythm of her chest rising and falling, and after a long exhale her chest no longer rose, right when I finished the song.”
Still I have no idea what to say.
“My mother said it would be like a scar. She said when you first get the cut it bleeds and hurts. After a while it heals, but the scar is always there. Eventually the scar becomes less visible, but it never leaves your body. You won’t feel pain anymore, but the scar is something you will have to forever carry on your body,” He sobs, “That’s what my mom said to me, after she told me she was going to die.”
I’ve never been in so much pain before. My chest burns. I begin to cry. I cry with Ed, we cry together.
“Danny if I didn’t have you to share the pain with I'd kill myself. I was going to kill myself, but then I decided to call you.”
Eddy, I’d kill myself too, but I’m already dead. Can’t you see? I’m living in hell and you’re in here with me.
Ed constantly flakes on us, and when he is with us, it seems as if he’s not. He seems to always be zoned out. He smokes a significant amount of pot and spends most of his time in bed. He cries and I cry with him.
“Do you think when people die they can see us from above?” Ed asks. The question seems to be for himself, “I hope not. They say you can, but I really hope not, because seeing your loved ones suffer isn’t a heavenly place.” His tears stop his words.
“My mom died, my mom died Danny! MY MOTHER IS DEAD! WHAT THE HELL AM I SUPPOSED TO DO?” He really truly cried. He shouted. He yelled. He mumbled about his heart aching in a deep pain until he fell asleep. His pain exhausted the fuck out of me, so I fell asleep with him. It was a different kind of pain, yet we understood each other so well.
“I’ve hit rock bottom,” He mumbles half asleep.
“That means you can only go up from here,” I assure him.
School added to my stress, yet served as a distraction.
“Daniel I’m feeling worried, you’re falling behind on your school work and you’re really lacking class participation, is everything alright?” faked Mr. McKee.
Is everything alright? I can’t feel anything anymore. I don’t know where I stand or who I am. I don’t know where I’m going, fuck I don’t know where I am. Why am I even alive? I cannot put my thoughts together. I keep forgetting to breathe.
“I’m fine,” I lie.
“If there’s anything I can do to help you out Daniel, feel free to come talk to me.” We’re both lying to each other at this point.
I’m choking on my words, suffocated in my thoughts.I manage to form a barely audible “Thanks” from the air I push out of my lungs.
I’m losing my fucking mind. I can no longer distinguish real from not real. My biggest fear, turning into my neighbor and ending up locked in an asylum narrating what once was, is coming to life.
Events. Places. People. Words. Nothing makes sense. Am I really in Hell? Or am I just weak and can’t handle the hardships life has to offer?
I feel suffocated by everyone around me. I am mentally claustrophobic and no one seems to understand. Life is exhausting, a type of exhaustion that an endless amount of sleep cannot cure. How I wish to be a bear and hibernate for months, to have a much simpler task, to stuff myself with food and sleep an eternity, to have no worries or duties, to be all alone and isolated in an empty cave, to have a much simpler purpose.
As I walk home from a long, hard, exhausting day all I could possibly think about is sleep. I half struggle to open my front door and I find a surprise awaiting me. My Mom is sitting in the living room staring at me. I think of all the unacceptable things I’ve done lately. What could it be? I walk towards her. Did she find pot in my room? I keep walking towards her. Fuck I took a bottle from the house last week. I’m a few steps away from her. I flipped off my neighbor this morning because she lets her dog shit on our front yard. I stop right in front of her.
“Daniel…” My Mom starts off. “I just got off the phone with Mr. McKee, your Newspaper teacher”
So that’s what this is about. I hold resentment towards my parents. When I was a baby my mom left me. My dad kept me for five years then decided he didn’t want me. So he threw me back to my mom. She felt she didn’t have another choice but to keep me.
“He told me you’re falling behind in school,” She scorns with a disapproving look.
I am infuriated. “When did grades become more important than my mental health?” I am pissed off. “Everyone I care about is either dead or depressed! I am dead and depressed!”
“Fuck you! You abandoned me remember?”
I walk out of the house. I speed walk out of the street. I jog away from houses and people. I am running towards nowhere. I am sprinting towards the forest.
I run until I feel like my lungs are going to burst then I collapse to the floor and I cry. I see the couch, the couch where I once felt alive. I tear it apart; I push it down a hill. I watch it roll down, by the time it reaches the bottom it is in pieces. The tree, the tree filled with magnificent carvings now serves as a reminder of what once was. I take a lighter out of my pocket and set the tree on fire. I sit. I’m exhausted. I watch the flame climb to the top of the tree. I can feel its warmth.
As I catch my breath I spot the creepy old man. But this time I am alone. I must get up and start running again. I run for my life and he runs behind me. At this point I am terrified. I feel my foot get caught on something, and I tumble down. The man has a gun. This is it. This is how I will die. Then Eddy will commit suicide. Then Sky will never get through her eating disorder. Spencer will be a crack addict living on the streets. And Val, oh Val-
“Hey kid! Are you okay?” The old guy is panting as he offers me his hand.
I stare at it for a moment before I take it.
“I was out hunting and I saw the fire, are you hurt?”
Hunting. Of course.
I start from the beginning. I tell this stranger my story. From when I was five to a few minutes ago when I set the tree on fire.
He gave me an understanding look. “Listen kid; let me tell you a story. There were three friends, Johnny, Sarah and Becky. They were having ongoing problems. The three of them viewed the friendship differently because they were different people, experiencing different feelings. Johnny wanted the three of them to work things out; he believed it was a valuable friendship that could be restored. Sarah wanted to walk out of the friendship; she believed it was stressing and unhealthy. Becky only wanted to be friends with Johnny, claiming the friendship didn’t matter to Sarah. Tangling, isn’t it? They all wanted the best for everyone, yet they all wanted something different. Who was right? There’s no such thing. Beliefs are based on individual perspectives. To see from someone else’s view, you have to stand where they stand. From where you are standing there’s only one view, yours. What’s a view worth when we all have one? If you just see it from a different angle, the whole picture is different.” He paused. “Your parents had their reasons” He smiled. “Forgive, let go of all resentment, and forgive.”
I stare at him and think for a while.
I walk back home and think of a worthy apology for what I said to my mom, but I reach the door sooner than I can think of how to even start it. I walk in and she isn’t in the living room anymore. I find my mom laying on her bed with an empty tissue box next to her. I hug her for a really long time, and she hugs me back.
“I forgive you for abandoning me mom.”
“Thank you Danny, I think now I can begin to forgive myself too.”
Forgiveness is beautiful, the way you can accept the fact that someone harmed you and move beyond that. Hand them back the knife that they stabbed you with, and trust that they won’t do it again. I think it is a beautiful act of courage.
In English class we are assigned to do an inspirational piece of writing. I could probably write so many things yet I chose to write nothing. Sky is called up to the front.
“You’re not a height, a weight or a gender. You’re not a race or a religion. You are the thoughts inside your head. Your mind defines what you are worth. What are you worth?”
Sky walks back to her seat with a confidence that could kill.
“What are you worth? You’re rags and bones!” Marcus, an asshole, shouts across the room.
And with those words she fell right back in. Everything went to shit. She shrunk. Pain, frustration, anger boil inside of me. Spencer leaps from his seat, stomps towards Marcus, who is laughing hysterically revealing his gruesome uncleansed mouth, and before I could see it coming, punches Marcus in the nose. Dark red runs down to his lips. Everyone stares in silent amazement. It is so silent I swear I hear Marcus’ blood drip on the desk.
How are we ever supposed to heal? It seems as if as soon as we recover, as soon as we get back up, we are knocked back down and in deeper. You need to want something, to use as a motivation, otherwise there is no reason to get up. Overcoming her eating disorder was Sky’s. Overcoming his violent impulsiveness was Josh’s. Overcoming his anger with the world was Marcus’. Overcoming depression was mine. We’re just some screwed up fucking kids in a screwed up fucking world. Nothing special, nothing new, nothing much we can do.
After telling Val what had happened in English class she seems to be more upset about it than I was.
“Sometimes the human race disgusts me to the point where I cry. I cry frustrated and confused and mostly sad. How can people be so selfish and cruel? And the worst part is that they don’t even realize it. They are savages by instinct it seems. I think that’s just an excuse, I think they know what they are doing and they simply don’t care. How can they live with themselves? How can they sleep at night? I want to throw up.”
Val is genuinely kind at heart. But because of that she suffers a lot. A type of pain I understand, a pain caused by confusion. When nothing makes sense.
“I think I’m doing good then I get sad or mad then that fades into horrible anxiety then that fades into depression, then the cycle starts again. I fake laughs to fake normality. I’m sick of this shit,” I pour out in rage.
“I sincerely hope one day you fall in love with being alive,” Responds Val.
Lately Ed has been disappearing every Thursday night without any explanation. I was worried he might be doing some dangerous drug or something so I asked his dad about it, it turns out he’s going to a therapy group and is too embarrassed to let his friends know. I decide to be supportive and go next Thursday with him.
I take a bus to the address Ed’s dad gave me. I walk through a dark and cold alley, the only source of light is above a green heavy metal door. I guess this is it. I push the door open and it creaks loudly. Everyone in here is young like me. They all sit in a circle. There’s a gap in the circle, right next to Ed, I sit next to him and fill in the gap. In the center is an old black lady.
“How’d you know I was here?” Ed seems surprised.
“I asked your dad, I’m so relieved you’re not doing heroin,” I smile.
“Ed, who’s your friend?” The old black lady asks, her voice is soothing and peaceful, every word glides through the air.
“This is Danny,” responds Ed.
“Welcome Danny,” says everyone in unison.
“Let’s begin by getting everything off our chests. Does anyone have any heavy weight they would like to release?” asks the therapy lady.
A girl raises her hand. The lady looks at her and smiles and nods with her eyes closed.
“My mom passed away. My dad is never home, he spends his time with a whore. My only brother is a crack addict. I crave a family. I crave those family activities everyone my age seems to detest. I crave that tight hug and that concerned look parents give their children. I crave a home. While everyone my age craves sex, drugs, and popularity, I crave a real family.”
“Thank you for sharing Anne,” says the lady.
“We all have addictions, all sorts of addictions that sometimes we are not aware of.” The Lady explains with her sweet voice.
“Danny” fuck, “We haven’t heard from you yet. Confess your addictions to us.”
I never thought of myself as addicted to anything. But I remember Ed is sitting next to me. I remember the reason why I’m sitting here. So I think really really hard. “I’m addicted to pot, coffee, and bliss.”
Are you blind?
Or are your eyes closed?
It's not what it used to be.
When you silently shout,
choking on nothingness.
From the depthness of the universe,
I hear them coming.
No harm beats fun.
I’m the happiest unhappy person you’ll ever meet.
They cut down the trees,
and the children cry.
When I’d rather be gone than here,
then I’ll know
I walk down a road made of ashes,
wondering where it’s going to go.
Forget everything you’ve ever been told,
and form ideas of your own.
And when the Earth dies, take me with it.
On Sundays I like to get stoned, brew some coffee and paint. Today I paint an orange sunset on a big canvas. I enjoy simplicity and carelessness. I like Sundays for myself.
Listen to me,
my materialistic friend
who can’t remember his own address.
You lose yourself the second that you think you’re found,
you’re bound to be drowned.
Life is hard when it becomes a series of things you don’t want to do.
Your face looks like something I drew.
When you make friend you can’t keep.
When your job makes you weep.
You sing meaningless songs about silver spoons,
about the moon in mid June.
Your mind like twisted vines,
looking hard for signs.
You try really hard to forget your crimes,
you drive away to familiar times.
Spencer’s garage has become our hangout place since I burned down the other one. Sky is laying on a dark red velvet couch. She’s wearing black leather boots and a jean jacket. Val is laying on the floor playing with the cat. Ed is stacking empty beer cans on top of each other, he forms a cool pyramid then it falls. I’m sitting on a stereo. We’re listening to Spencer play the drums, he’s pretty bad. Spencer gets tired so we listen to some of his dad’s old records, smoke pot, and talk about how life makes no sense to us.
“What if you made every word count? What if everything you said was to serve a definite purpose? What if you really thought about things before saying them? How different would it be? How many smiles would you have caused, and how many tears would you have saved?” asks Sky.
And I think about that for the rest of my life.
There’s this wicked cool dam that not many people know of filled with great urban art. We go there sometimes and spray paint our ideas away. I love street art. There is a certain satisfaction in rebelling against the system. There is not a single spot on the wall of the dam that doesn’t have paint on it.
I scratched my arm jumping a fence to get here and the blood that has been dripping has formed an alien looking face.
I notice Spencer staring at it; he says it’s cool looking.
We’re listening to Nirvana in Spencer’s garage. I didn’t bother to wash off the blood in my arm from yesterday. I think about taking a hot shower for a second.
“I want a tattoo like the alien face on your arm,” Declares Spencer.
Maybe if I wasn’t stoned I would’ve said no. Actually I would’ve probably done it anyway. I use the ink in a pen and a lighter. I do it on his shoulder just in case I screw it up his shirt can cover it. I periodically look down at my bloody arm for reference. After grunting and moaning, to my surprise it comes out better than expected.
Spencer looks at it for a long while, then finally looks up at me and says with an Italian accent, “Your artistic skills impress me.”
School work really fucks me up, when I’m not doing school work I feel like I’m wasting my time, but when I’m doing school work I feel like I’m wasting my time.
Although Thursday nights have actually been helping Ed and I, for the most part, I still feel like I’m drenched in an everlasting electric liquid of pain. But every day I figure out a different variable that helps me solve the equation, the equation of life.
There’s a huge empty pool we like to skate in. It belongs to an abandoned house, there’s not much left of the house. Every object seems to be faded, torn, or broken. We’re walking over the crumbs of the house and I see something not destroyed. A picture frame with a really old black and white photograph. In it a woman poses with a serious face, almost frowning, her hair is puffy and she wears what looks like an apron. This photograph must have been of great value to the people that lived here. Until this very moment I had never really thought about the fact that an actual family used to live here. A family used to swim in the pool we now skate in. I stand in what used to be someone’s home.
“Danny!” my thought breaks.
I turn in the direction my name was called in, “Are you coming?” Spencer is eager.
I take the photograph out of the frame and put it in my pocket.
“Yeah,” I respond.
During lunch I lay in the grass area with Spencer. I’m convinced heaven smells like freshly cut grass. He’s eating a peanut butter and jelly sandwich. I haven’t been feeling hungry lately.
“If there is a God, why do bad things happen?” Spencer asks me.
I love Spencer, but he’s so fucking ignorant.
“Because God doesn’t control us, we control ourselves. You and only you can control you. If I shoot you in the head with a gun, it’s because I chose to, a choice I made, a choice no one else can make for me.”
He doesn’t respond and he doesn’t look convinced. Maybe I should elaborate.
“I want people like you to understand. I’ll give you an example. Have you ever had a teacher that was really good? Like really good at teaching their subject.
“Yea I had one,” Spencer answers.
“Okay now recall the students in that class. Was there anyone failing the class?”
“Yea,” He squints and remembers.
“Okay so then the teacher was bad, the teacher was horrible. Why would they ever allow their students to fail the class?”
“Well no…” he starts, he pauses, he gets it now.
“God is real, God is good,” I assure him.
My mom picks me up today after school and drags me along to her job. She’s a real estate agent. She drives to an old worn out house. The floor squeaks, it’s tired of being stepped on so many times. The windows tremble, the wind makes them cold. In it there’s a lady who seems puzzled.
“Ms. Jones, they say you’ve changed your mind about selling the house, how so?” my mom asks.
“How can I leave this house, after having it for so long?” The puzzled lady answers the question with a question.
I interrupt, “This house is just an object, a really large object. It’s not an object you can hold in your hand, but it’s still an object, it’s a material thing. You don’t love the house, you love the memories in it, and those are yours to keep. They’re inside of you, they belong to you, not to the house. You can’t hold on to material things. Let go of the house. Make more memories somewhere else.”
My mom looks at me and smiles very hard.
“You’re right,” responds Ms. Jones.
“You have a really wise kid Ms. Parker,” claims Ms. Jones.
“I know,” Says my mom proudly.
This makes me feel very good.
“Before I would ask myself, why me? But now I ask, why not? What guarantees me an out on the suffering? I’m a human being like any other, playing the same game.”
Ed’s humbleness is beyond admirable.
Thanksgiving in my house is a combination of a bunch of awkward family members that are practically strangers to me and to each other. My anxiety level decides to triple today. I feel like utter shit. As long as I survive dinner, I can lock myself in my room the rest of the night. I help my mom set the table and everyone gathers around.
“Who would like to start off the giving thanks?”
My very drunk uncle raises his glass.
“I… am thankful for having the wonders of the wonderfulness!” He spits.
Everyone claps respectfully even thought that made no sense whatsoever. I guess he could have said something worse.
I space out through everyone else’s bullshit speech.
“Any words Danny?” My mom asks.
Uncles, aunts, cousins too, I fucking hate all of you.
“No, it's fine.”
It’s so silent at the dinner table, I can perfectly hear the fork rising and clashing against my teeth, the crunching and munching inside my mouth, my hand is so sweaty the fork keeps sliding off. Then I begin to feel it, the food rising. The food was traveling backwards, from my stomach, to my throat, to my mouth, back to the table again. Splash over the turkey, over the mashed potatoes, some reached the bread on the corner. Happy Thanksgiving everyone.
After telling my friends what happened, it feels so much better to just laugh at it.
“My family probably thinks I’m shit,” I admit a bit carelessly.
“You can attempt to please the unpleasable, or you can please yourself,” Says Spencer as he runs his fingers through his hair.
You can attempt to please the unpleasable, or you can please yourself. I’ll keep that in mind.
“I’ve been writing quite a bit lately,” Says Spencer shyly.
I constantly picture Spencer as a journalist, traveling the world, doing crazy shit almost getting himself killed, just to make a good story, but his claim still strikes me as surprising.
“Really? I think that’s awesome,” I cheer him on.
“Yea I’ve been working on something.” He sounds more confident now.
“Can I hear it?” My curiosity gets the best of me.
Spencer digs through his pockets, a cigarette and some coins fall out, he’s holding a crumbled piece of paper folded into what was probably meant to be a square.
He clears his throat, “Life is joy, life is pain. You need one, to feel the other. Because without pain, you wouldn’t know joy, and without joy, you wouldn’t know pain. So appreciate the pain as much as you appreciate the joy.”
“That was the realest thing I’ve ever heard.”
“Thanks,” Spencer grins.
“No, thank you for sharing that with me. You’re going to be really successful. You know, I’ve been thinking a lot about success. Growing up and becoming ‘Successful’ most people think of success as having a nice house and a nice car and nice clothes. They relate success to a high salary and luxuries and fancy shit. Why? Why does our social status define our success? Is that really what success is? Surrounding yourself with expensive items? Success isn’t based on material things, success lies beyond that.” I share my thoughts with a glimpse of inspiration after hearing Spencer’s piece of writing. “I feel like I’ve been blindfolded all this time and now I can finally see.”
Spencer understands, “I want to change things for the better. I want to write books. I want to travel the world. I want to meet amazing people. I want to talk someone out of suicide. I want to experience joy and pain and write about the endless beauty in both.”
“That is real success,” I finish.
“I love breathing clean, fresh, air. I love the feeling of warm sand on my feet and the sound of waves crashing against the ocean. I love the smell of pine trees in evergreen forests. I love the sound of fresh water flowing in a stream. I love the sound of trees being swayed by the wind. I love the colors and the sound of crunchy dry leaves in the fall. I love snow, I love watching small bits of white ice fall from the sky. I adore the sky, especially when it’s gray, I love gloomy days. I love the breathtaking sunsets filled with the nicest shades of pink and orange. I love daisies and lands of green grass to lay on. I love the stars and the glowing moon that mysteriously holds the ocean and all of its belongings together. I love the smell and the sound of rain. I love natural fruits and vegetables freshly picked. I love the feeling of moist soil on my bare feet. I love animals, all of them. But the existence of my kind is destroying it all.” Val stops for a moment and appears to be deep in thought, “Maybe I’d enjoy being a photographer because their job is to look for beautiful scenery and capture it, maybe I’d like that.”
Earth is dying,
you’re not even trying.
you don’t care for a solution,
you don’t offer contribution.
The sky will turn gray,
the green will fade away.
Here’s your clue:
Earth isn’t entirely for you,
Chapter 1, here’s the introduction:
what we really need is reconstruction.
You can close your eyes,
you can look away.
But the truth that lies beneath,
is that your grandchildren’s children won't breathe.
I see beautiful things in everyone. Beautiful things I can’t see in myself. I’m not looking hard enough. I’ve been thinking a lot, about what I’m good at or what I like doing. I could lay on this grass and look at the sky forever. The bell interrupts my thoughts. I can’t lay on this grass and look at the sky forever.
I walk to History class. I take my time. The first thing I see when I walk in is Spencer with an arm cast. What the fuck did he do now.
“Spence...” I begin.
“I felt like taking a reckless risk. I rode down a steep hill on my skateboard. I felt the cold wind on my face, I lifted my arms, I closed my eyes… I was flying. I had never felt so alive. It was amazing,” He tells.
“And then?” I insist.
“I ate shit,” He says.
I’m always the last one to choose what I want. My friends are already making line at the register and I’m still standing in front of the Icee machine trying to decide what flavor to get. Pressured, I go with cherry. After I finish paying I find my friends outside. I open the door to join them and Spencer and Sky are pushing each other. Spencer bumps into me and my Icee falls. I’m upset. They forget what they were arguing about and start laughing. I look down at the splattered Icee and I cannot look back up. The icy red contrasts perfectly with the black concrete and blue cup; and the bright yellow straw lays right in the middle. It is a work of art. I never want to stop looking at it. I am in love with the way it looks.
“C’mon Danny I’ll buy you another one.” Val Kindly suggests.
“No, that’s okay.” I smile.
As I wash diced fruit I watch the water slowly rise to the top. I imagine each piece of fruit as an island and the water is rising and rising, and people are drowning. This process is taking years for the small people in my hands, but I watch it pass by in seconds. Now there’s only one island left. The remaining survivors drown as the water fills and pours through my hands.
“How did you get over Sophie’s death?” I question Sky.
“Simply by understanding that when someone’s life ends, another begins,” She helps, “To start a new chapter you need to finish the one you’re on, otherwise the book makes no sense.”
“Death has done bad to me,” I admit.
“The bad does more good to you than the good, because it takes shit to feel bliss. Without ever feeling helplessly depressed, you can’t appreciate feeling blissfully happy. There’s no such thing as eternal happiness, because it wouldn’t be happiness at all. It would be an everyday feeling we would become accustomed to. Happiness is found in moments and we have to live for those moments. Happiness is a feeling inside of you, it’s not a material thing you can see or touch, which is why you can’t buy happiness. You are not a helpless victim of good or bad luck, you are a powerful human with choices to make,” Sky stated.
“What are you doing when we finish high school?” I ask eagerly.
“I don’t know, I’m too stupid for college,” Sky says looking down.
“Well if my opinion means anything to you, I think you’re a genius.” I mean every word.
“If I met myself as a child, I’d think I want to be an architect. I spent a good amount of my childhood making tiny doll houses. I transformed tiny boxes into buildings. I made tiny beds and tiny furniture. I remember I even included bathrooms,” Sky recalls.
“Sounds like you were a cool kid,” I joke.
“I’m writing letters, I’m trying to get someone to sponsor the organization I’m starting.” Her eyes light up again, just like the last time she talked about it.
“That makes me really happy,” I tell her.
“I need to see some of your paintings!” She remembers.
“Do you?” I stall playfully.
“Yes.” She demands, “I must see what the artist has done.”
“I think we’re all artists,” I share.
“And why is that?” Sky asks.
“Living is a form of art. The world is your canvas, and you’re holding the paintbrush. Every step you take is a different stroke, and every choice a different color,” I explain.
“That’s a beautiful thought, but I think real artists are those that suffer. I think the more pain you feel the better your art. When do you paint?”
I stop and think for a few seconds, “When I feel depressed.”
“Exactly!” She loves being right.
“High school is coming to an end and I don’t know what to do with myself.” Other than just now I haven’t really directly told anyone this.
“Apply for art school,” Sky says.
Minutes, hours, days, weeks spin around me. Time means nothing to me anymore. It’s “time” to apply for colleges. Since I never really applied myself to school my grades are not good enough. I spent my days being depressed, smoking pot. What did I do? I made art. I have about 45 paintings. Most of them are abstract since I never really felt anything other than pain, and how do you draw pain? Maybe Sky was right. I apply for art school. I need to send them pictures of my two “most worthy pieces”. I send them a very detailed one of Sophie’s face and a pretty cool looking abstract one, it kind of looks like a bat eating a sandwich.
Ed on the other hand is a genius. He wants to get into Berkeley, and he probably will.
Everyday people die and people are born, but I am forever stuck with myself. I’m going to live for myself. I am too young to have death intimidate me. Life doesn’t come with instructions; I will draw myself a map. I am only a victim if I allow myself to be. It's only as hard as I make it, reality is how I shape it. And I leave it for myself to figure the rest out.
It’s a rainy day. I’m standing in the middle of a tall walkway bridge, looking down a long road. I watch the passing cars, on the right the lights are red, and on the left they’re yellow. The car’s lights are reflected on the wet street. The white mist blurs it all together. I very dimly hear the cars, some honking, a police siren and light chatter of passersby behind me.
Gloomy days are calm and still, the way I want to feel. The dim light provides a sense of relaxation. The lighting also makes my surroundings look much more fascinating. The wind sways the trees; the cold air feels fresh, pure and clean. The wind is loud and it whispers words of kindness to me. I’m comfortable in an oversized knit sweater, as if I’m hiding from something. The yellow light from a tall light pole illuminates the fog. The rain seems to clean everything. It cleans me, it gives me life. I can feel every cold drop fall on my skin and drip down. The smell of wet dirt, wet grass, wet pavement, I’m in love. It’s like the world is a reflection of myself, my feelings, my gloominess, my grayness, my yearn for a sense of calmness. My mind fills with philosophical thoughts and questions. I can think clearly. Everything is quiet. When it rains everyone is indoors. I picture these days alone. Absorbing the entire moment.
I’ve been going in and out of my house through my window. It makes life more exciting.
Whenever I’m anxious or depressed I go outside, breathe, inhale, fill my lungs with all the air that can possibly fit in there, exhale, look at the sky, look at the trees, paint the sky, paint the trees, put flowers on myself, write a poem, write a book, sleep, sleep plenty, drink coffee, drink tea, watch the sunset, watch the stars, listen to the rain, feel the rain, make a nice salad, eat the nice salad, walk, jog, run, feel the grass on my bare feet, feel the air against my skin, feel the warmth of the sun on my face, feel myself being alive, live.
I fell in love with Art
But she didn’t leave her number
I fell in love with Art
I painted her a thunder
I fell in love with Art
I crave her like hunger
We go to the town fair. Night time, neon lights, go carts, laughter, fun, last day before we know our future.
We agreed that we would all open our college admission envelopes together. We climb up to the roof of Josh’s tall apartment building. The sun is rising. We didn’t sleep last night. We all hold envelopes with our future inside.
Ed holds three envelopes so he should go first. “You start Ed,” I say.
“Alright, I’ll open my first choice first,” He sounds nervous. His hands are shaking he tears the envelope and tosses the shreds of envelope to the side holding a single paper.
“We need to recycle that, pick it up!” Val’s concerned.
Ed multi tasks picking up the shreds of envelope while reading the letter, “I got into Berkeley.”
I smile and my eyes get watery. Am I crying of joy? I hug him tightly for a long time and let go when I realize I’m suffocating him.
Sky seems eager to open hers next.
“Sky?” Ed asks.
Sky opens the thin envelope carefully. She stares at it for a while, scaring me at first, but then her big unavoidable smile carves into her face. “I got a sponsor for the organization I’m starting,” Sky says proudly.
“This is amazing,” I’m so happy.
“Were going to save lives Sky,” says Ed
“I chose Val,” says Sky. I wasn’t aware we were choosing who goes next. I guess after you open your envelope you have to choose who’s next.
Val holds two envelopes she begins opening one labeled UCLA. She studies the letter carefully. She looks upset. “I didn’t make it,” she says in a low voice. I’m expecting her to say she’s kidding and laugh, but it doesn’t happen.
“Open the other one.” Sky cheers her up.
Val takes the other one labeled UCSD. She opens it slowly, too slowly I almost want to take it from her and open it myself. She’s reading the letter. She smiles and nods. Yes. I feel relieved.
Val looks at Spencer.
“Honestly guys, I’m not going to lie, I couldn’t wait until today to open this,” Spencer admits.
Of course he couldn’t.
“I got the newspaper job.”
Ed slaps him in the back almost too hard.
“I knew you would get it,” I admit.
I held my envelope so hard I could feel the edge wrinkle. I could be Picasso or I could be a bum, but in this very minute I am filled with inexplicable happiness.
“We did it, we finished,” Claims Spencer .
I laugh at the thought of ever being done with anything, “Finished? We just started,” I declare, “We have only opened the door to the vast amount of opportunities we are about to step into.”
“C’mon Danny open your envelope!” Demands Sky.
“Not yet”, I take a deep breath and close my eyes, “let me preserve the moment.”