Walls

Posted on August 14th, 2016

When the night comes, I can see you wrap your hands together in the darkness. Your grip is loose and thoughtfully gentle. It seems a heavily practiced gesture, though it always requires substantial imagination. And you can pretend we’ve both just fallen asleep like that, as if always. At some point, inventing was all our bodies seemed able to do. Our voices became torn out, edited, and disputably false. We were precise and dishonest in every word, in our choices, in our inauthentic way to make unraveled threads into a comfortable living space. The weight from this has made uneven fragments from history. Chapters of stories get shredded into moments, which blur into feelings, eventually evaporating into this barren vacuum. You said the hardest part for you were the failures – the running up, into, and through the walls of my insecurities.

You put your hand on my shoulder and you said, “Where do these walls come from?”

And I thought, They’ll fall right on top of you.

Les Corps Blancs

Posted on February 17th, 2016

“Your accusations have finally drowned me! Your words spin and twist like spears, your finalities whip my flesh thin and tear out my organs! You point and gawk– my supposed friends! – and hiss your allegations[1].” – La Blanche

 

La Blanche is at her fortress where the walls are formed from one-way, orchid glass. She sits at a square wood table adjacent to the window and questioningly glimpses out at those twenty bodies that have surrounded her. She defocuses their sneers, furrowed brows, barred teeth, and she distracts herself from their proximity by ripping her lose nails from their beds. She recalls a youth that welcomed pain therapy, but she tells herself now that she’s too grown up for teenage angst.

In her space, white cardboard boxes are bordered meticulously with duct tape of various hues and scattered as land mines. Her Blanche[2] boxes are various sizes, labeled meticulously by day. She tiptoes, but the floors still creak underneath her heavy, worldly[3] feet. Beyond the creaks, firewood crackles with life and warms her borrowed burdens. Above the fireplace, there is a portrait bordered with fake gold. In it, an elderly apple tree is centered and lonely in a field of grass.

She pushes her chair out loudly, lies on her stomach on the floor, and shifts her jeans uncomfortably, tugging at her arching, filled pockets. She watches her reflection, softens her eyes, moves the tips of her eyebrows up, and pouts her mouth sadly. She is _______[4] closing her shamed eyes as she hears the bodies hit the glass and mark the orchid glass with heavy breathing. The steam from their hot breath spreads and thins the glass walls. As their mutterings echo, she takes a small[5] box with weathered[6] palms, leaving a square skeleton marking the undusted floor. She lifts and drops it tenderly, then aligns it back onto the outline. With a beaten sigh, she reaches deeply into her crowded pocket and removes a sealed bottle of white ink. Her head tucks into her left shoulder, eyes squeezed shut, and her thick mascara scars her cheek as a single tear marks her. The other side of her remains blank[7]. She unbuttons her shirt, unzips her jeans, and slips out of her clothes. Each piece of clothing is placed as a centerpiece on the floor. Naked, she grabs the pile and tosses it into the fire underneath the portrait. The tree burns as the clothes catch fire, and the portrait empties.

Frowning at the ink in her lap, she turns to the blank painting, puts her finger to her lip and whispers, “Shhh[8].”

The painting remains silent, yet she nods while putting her fingers around the ink. With her eyes on the painting, she pours some ink into her palm. At first, the puddle sits in her hand pointlessly. She waits a few moments then clasps her hands together, white ink running down her arms. The bodies moan louder and shriller outside as she rubs her hands together and cleanses her wrists.

From the other side of the orchid walls, the bodies find an entrance and knock at the lines of the door with their palms. Their voices rise from the thrill, and the girl behind the walls starts humming a single note to distract herself from their accusations.

The white ink dyes her skin and thickens across her limbs. She rubs her elbows, then shoulders, then takes the bottle and starts pouring the whiteness onto her chest and neck. The dye takes her in and gives her a new skin, a camouflage[9].

The mutterings rise to screams. She can hear them clearly now. Their voices label, “Liar!” “Thief!” “Whore!”

She bends down and pours the remaining liquid wildly on her stomach, legs, and feet. Flustered, she calms only as her skin whitens. Taking in a deep breath, she goes to the collapsing door, puts her hand on the cast iron doorknob and tugs vigorously.

The outsiders’ screams pierce as they fall into the room, their body parts molding into one another, eyes passionate with animosity and confusion. The four glass walls shatter, allowing all the others to enter. La Blanche waits as they brush past. She eyes one of the bodies—the eldest woman wearing a lace apron. The woman grabs the largest white box, the size of a coffin, and rips it open. She takes a handful of blue marbles and clutches them to her cheek.

Another body, a man with burnt skin, has torn apart a box filled with feathers, which he gathers and spreads onto his blistered body. The feathers attach to him, and his hands cover his face as relief spreads through his body.

She watches this and notes[10] that no one has noticed her. She looks at the floor, at herself, and sees that her skin is anew. Taking large steps over her friends[11], she walks out the door into a fresh, quiet world, and journeys to find new boxes.

——————————————-

[1] provocations

[2] white – (one of the 56 French words in her bank)

[3] (Mexico. Three days.)

[4] practicing

[5] (and heavy)

[6] un-weathered

[7] stony

[8] Can you hear me?

[9] Tell me I can still escape her if I tell the truth.

[10] is satisfied

[11] victims

Toxin

Posted on August 19th, 2015

At the apple’s noisy core, there are seeds of arsenic. Not a fraction is left for the nosey flies because at the end of my life – at the close – the world will know my worth.

There is a woman whose thoughts are the most alone. I have watched her throughout the days, walking the hallways, chin angled at the floors as she stops a door with a hesitant toe. Giving frail handshakes, her uneasy eyes squint out the bright window. She prefers the world clouded. When she sits, she keeps her unscathed feet on her heels so that her thighs appear thinner, and keeping her eyes at her scaly nailbeds, she avoids the reflective metal doors in the elevator on the way down.

At midday, out of the bustling cafeteria, she leaves a spoonful of peas and carrots on her plate as she tips the tray with a crash. My imagination follows those sad, blurry greens and oranges hurtling towards waste. We’ve all been left to rot, I try to convey to them, and the earth will soon need you.

It makes me yearn for the woman with her pale, flashing looks. My imagination takes her arms and stares into her until some emotion builds in the corners of her eyes. Then, as she melts like warmed candlewax, my needy hands try chaotically to contain her. I cup my hands, breathing in her aroma, and I taste her frail bones and drink in every ounce of distaste she has for herself from her blood. You’re worth every minute of this universe’s time, I whisper, and everything you touch needs you. I want to show her a reflection and twist her dark hair into a braid to admire those purely beautiful cells. She shall come here too, and we will see a seed of worth in the scraps that I call myself.

Close

Posted on November 12th, 2014

Lessons have slipped my mind and gravitated elsewhere. Some place mysterious, I hope. I couldn’t process how the earth – the clumps that I mashed between the crevices of my boots – was ultimately a sphere. There was nothing round at my core, certainly nothing as stable as a circle. As it became darker, I walked the midnight forests. I took the soil and rubbed it between my fingers and fleshed out my nail beds. I took muddy leaves and laced them between my toes as protection. I masked my face and thickened my clothes to eradicate my humanness. Smelling of the fleshless soil, I took handfuls and fed myself, sucking up the mud, blowing wiggly earthworms out from my nostrils. I let the ants crawl up my feet haphazardly, just as lost as I had forgotten I was.

At dawn, I would go to the creek to collect more mud from the edge of the water. The wildlife didn’t seem to care for or against me. Except Crow, who wasn’t actually a crow, but a shadow of one. Sometimes, I would stare at Crow, reach towards his face, and draw in his imaginary beady eyes. His outline would sit on my shoulder and shout an empty, “Caw! Caw!” The flora awakened, detected, and hid from my tampering, closing its petals. I realize now that cloak helped me stalk myself, even though I believed there was nothing left to me.

One of those nights, wrapped up in my camouflage, I went down a route to capture Crow’s shadow. Fly and Seek. It was exhilarating to run full speed after him, using the sun, that unreachable marble in the sky, as a guide. I spotted the winged patch of darkness turning its head at me from a high branch.

Caw! Caw!

Excited, I was about to wrap my hands around the trunk when my foot knocked something over at the tree’s roots. A colorful box was tossed on its side. I knelt immediately, grabbing hold of the heavy box, red with royal lines of gold. As my muddy hands slightly smeared the edges, I shook it and felt the weight inside shift.

“There’s something in here! A present?”

Even Crow’s shadow came down from the tree to see what I had found. Hanging over me, he pointed with his beak to a side of the box.

We noticed a wind-up handle with black markered-in letters saying, “Turn me”

Caw! Caw!

Clockwise, I moved the handle. It started vibrating and I dropped it.

Dum Dee Dum Dee Dum Dee Dum Dum

The box was playing music. I couldn’t remember the name of the tune, but it was a nerving song, one that grew threateningly towards the conclusion rather than fading.

Yet, that was all. It was an empty box with a haunting song. There was nothing more to fear, except the new quietness of the box. I tried turning the handle again, but slower. My heart naturally moved with the rising of the music. The song grew and faded. That was all. And though Crow was there, the box made me feel lonely. I started to put the box back in its place when I was interrupted.

A voice from inside vibrated and told me, “Try again.” I lifted the box up, looking at the bottom for a hole for the voice to emerge from, but everything was shut, “I’ll do better this time.” I shook the box, but nothing happened.

“Who are you?” I asked, feeling even lonelier for speaking to a box.

“Good question. If I told you, I wonder if you’d believe me. Would you? Believe me? I mean, you can’t see me, can you?”

“Well…do you lie about who you are?”

“That’s not a very good question, is it? Would it validate you if I said, ‘No, I never lie.’”

“I think it would. Maybe. Probably not now though.”

“Well, I live here in this music box. These walls protect me. I came here out of confusion, but I’d like to leave.”

Caw! Caw!

“What are you scared of?” I asked, “And how long have you been there?”

“I don’t recall.”

I thought about the calendar I once made, the one I etched into a tree when I first arrived to the forest. As time went on and those etchings began to feel pointless, I couldn’t remember which tree was the calendar.

“Would you mind turning the handle once more? You try on that side and I’ll try on this side.”

I hesitated, wondering if it was worth the effort. Why save something to bring it here? But I heard the voice had a shard of sadness in it, and I couldn’t leave him alone in there to battle solitude. I started turning the handle again, imagining a friendship with a fairy. The music rose and fell, and still nothing escaped.

“Did I do wrong?” I asked.

Caw! Caw!

The lid popped open slightly, leaving a crack of darkness looking in and a spurt of lights looking out.

I opened the box and looked in. Gold shined outwards, blinding me. The voice, it seemed, was a ring. I picked it up, holding it with my fingertips and bringing it closer to me. On the inside of the ring was an engraving, etched into the side like I had done with the calendar on the tree.

Inside the box was a note reading, “We will dream of the day when we can wake up with hearts that are open.”

Gently, I placed the empty box on the bare roots beneath the trunk. I walked away silently, avoiding sensitive twigs so the voice didn’t have to hear, though I wasn’t certain if I had just imagined it. I moved farther away and stopped beneath a cylinder of light that broke through the trees. I looked at how the mud on my hands had hardened. I took my nail and dug deeply away at the thick flesh I had made. I needed to see what had become of me underneath. A layer was removed, and the pinkish skin on my hand looked the same, but paler from a lack of light over the years in the forest. I moved away from the trunk, away from the trees I had grown accustomed to living besides, and the crow was still on my shoulder. I found the creek as it had away been, but it seemed wider, more like a river. I dipped my toes in the water and ripped off my shoes, the dried leaves. Then I went further, standing in the water and feeling the rocks underneath push deeper in the soil. The water came up to my knees and I washed away the mud. I ducked my head underneath, watching the fish swim away and my cloak cloud the water. I thought about the music box, about filling it with water. Maybe the water would rot away at the edges and I could drown the voice inside. I held myself under, wondering if I had the capacity to stay, to breath in this new place. I looked at the ring, the words glowing NEVER ODD NOR EVEN. I thought about the ones I knew before the forest, the reasons I was hiding. Faces burst through my retina as pressure built in my ears. Blinding smiles, not one frown, not one speck of sadness, and that made me dig my hands deeper into the soil, hoping that I could feel that bout of happiness in those faces. The pressure behind my ears grew stronger, I sucked in water, hoping to be free of the forest, but it filled my lungs, and my body alerted itself to the danger. I sprung up, coughing out what I had tried to breath in, and the Crow was perched on a rock, and realizing I wasn’t his old friend, he flew away and disappeared in a cluster of billowing trees. I could hear the voice asking me to free it as I walked out of the forest and into the arms of warm skeletons, and it was the lonely voice that kept me from going back there.

Scoff

Posted on October 22nd, 2014

I love when people make the scoff face – the nonverbal scoff, the one you make when you’re in a heated argument, and you realize you have a valid point to add. But when you open your mouth and start with, “Well honestly…” the person you’re arguing with cuts you off with a, “Excuse me, let me finish!”

You see they’re hell bent on getting their whole point out in one spittle. Damn you for not knowing they weren’t finished. So you close your lips, lean your head down, and turn a little to make it appear as if you want to hear them clearly.

Yet all you’re really thinking is…“This bitch interrupted me. Look at me being the bigger person and just letting them say their peace.” And you applaud yourself while memorizing and repeating whatsoever it was you were going to argue. And you get this smirk in the corner of your mouth, feeling like you’re sitting at the big people’s table.

This other person is still blowing bubbles and building mashed potato fortresses at the crayon decorated plastic picnic table set out for the kiddies on holidays. And at some point, they do stop talking, and you realize you haven’t listened to much of anything they’ve said, but you continue on with your point and you still wear that smirk. You look at them and see a desperate kid trapped under a layer of ice. You hear the freezing water moving underneath, billowing molecules and cold air bubbles. You want to help.

Skeletons

Posted on May 25th, 2014

Tut, Tut, Tut. I’m too easy to get along with. I think this is because my smiles are autonomic blinks. The walls of myself, transparent as they are, keep people in and out on command, for they are there for protection. I think I’ve decided what to do about her.

Last night, in the dead of it, I was cleaning between the cracks’ cracks. The windows were closed and the ammonia began to become the air, flooding my body with each sweaty breath. In my dizziness, I knocked over the lamp, my only one, and it smacked the wood panels and flickered off. The darkness began to frighten me. I bravely swiped the floor around for the lamp. The bulb was hot and burnt my fingers, which I stuck into my mouth to soothe.

I liked to keep the room dark so that visitors never came, especially her, even though I knew people had stopped coming years ago. But without my one source of light, the darkness filled my chest with emptiness and fear. I started to imagine figures sneaking up behind me and knocking me down. Then I started to imagine a man’s fingers around my throat, choking me, and I was still alone. I swayed my arms, using my hands as eyes in the blackness.

I found the drawer, took out a few candles and a matchbook, and lit them immediately. Tut. No flame. Tut, Tut. No Flame. Tut, Tut, Tut. At first, the fire frightened me and I blew it out. I had gotten used to the darkness so much, I suppose. My heart started to beat faster after experiencing the light. I waited for my calm heart.

I never once took her for granted, so why is she in my dreams. Unwelcome with warm hugs. I tell her, don’t cry. It’s not the season. You shouldn’t waste it on the barren land. But she can’t help it, it’s just the hormones. You can save the teardrops in a flask, drink her up or feed the selfish land. I mostly remember the times when she was bored, and that’s what was most interesting. I told myself, if I love her, don’t comfort it, don’t fix it. Just bear. I had control, I told myself. Tut, Tut, Tut.

I lit a match again and saw the inside of my room. It had been awhile in darkness that I noticed how changed it had become. No longer was my leather reading chair as big as it had once looked. My perception of the ceiling had changed as well, it appeared lower, and I had to duck to get through the doorways. I lit one of the two candles and walked around, looking at the photographs on the wall. There was one of her and I. I said aloud, there’s me on the left and you on the right. Just like the way we slept at night. And that’s me holding the fish you caught because you were too scared to touch the scales. I thought we were such a team. I looked at another photograph. It was only her on a bench, sitting far from me, reading a book. I remember we were eating brunch, but you had lost interest in the food in me. Simple as that.

I looked at the candle in my palm. The wax was blood red and the wick was white and lonely. I set it on fire. I watched the relationship build, the fire engulfing the wick and the wick sucking in the fire. The time passed outside, the winds grew and became soft again. The rains and snow came and left and came again. Then the candle finally shortened and I had been so happy watching the development that my misery was not a surprise. As the light began to flicker and fade, so did the existence of the wick and the flame. Only the wax remained, the outer layer that the wick had escaped. And then, there were only skeletons.

A Charnel House

Posted on April 19th, 2014

The willowy thief, long-legged and tactile, moved her hands across the aluminum shelves of the misty greenhouse. Her greedy nose moved towards a fully blossomed flower, which she didn’t know the name of. She took a deep breath in and out against its stems. She continued her routine down the aisles. On her shoulder, staining the t-shirt she wore, was an olive tree frog beside the nape of her neck. His large eyes were closed, looking as if he was napping as lazily as possible. The floors were completely covered with a thick soot. Underneath the dirt was a rubber mat which caused her already light steps to bounce slightly, and she welcomed the lack of gravity to the greenhouse. The thief had lived here for its protection, each plant providing its own form of nutrition. The garden was unattended, and if not for her slimy, cold shoulder companion, she would have sometimes felt as abandoned as the greenhouse was. She nourished the plants with her oxygenated ideas and the plants in turn nourished her with the chemical basics of our carbonic survival. She wore gloves, a thief’s commodity, but with a snicker, she brushed her fingers to the heavy leaves and gathered thick dewdrops. Then, she moved them on one round stone.  She forced the water on the stone to become thicker until it would eventually waterfall onto the floor, and this inevitability would always sadden her.

The frogs, the worms, the ants, and the flies had been cohabiting with her, and she often found herself talking with them. The frogs were always her favorite, for their wide faces and large eyes spoke more than she could, and she appreciated the honesty. She had only to tell them once why she had come to the greenhouse, that place of vitality and visceral independence.

She was sitting cross-legged in the middle of the afternoon and had moved some of the plants in a circular arena around her. Various frogs had joined in the geometry and rested in the soil of the pots. They watch her as she took a deep breath and said, “Where I come from, they call me a thief. Honestly, I think we were all thieves. What I did,” she paused here and took a deep breath, “was not right, I guess. I stole someone—I mean—something that didn’t truly belong to me, or to us. Something inhuman.” Her olive companion who usually stayed on her protecting neck hopped on the floor and turned to her, his big eyes asking What was it that is inhuman?

“The things that I’ve stolen were difficult to attain. It takes months to take things that aren’t yours. You have to do your research, you have to really think on whether or not you really need that part of someone,” She pushed back her thick hair and looked around at the frogs and the plants, “You see, where I come from, we all take something from people in order to create the person who you want to love forever. Everybody does it because it’s what everybody needs to do. So, for example, you may take from one person their sense of humor and from another, you may take their intelligence. Whatever you take is partially stolen, so it is important that you only take a single thing from a single person. In some ways it is counter-intuitive. Many things are partially stolen and we inevitably become “half-who-we-were” in a way. Half of our traits or more are suddenly taken from us. Sometimes, we can rebuild ourselves, but that takes time.

Anyways, because we are human, we can never fall in love with another real person. Not wholly. Nobody’s our “perfect.” So, what we do is take certain characteristics from people and we later build our perfect person.”

Some of the frogs made belching sounds that they understood.

“I was banned from my world and now I am here. When I created my final person, I instilled an ability to steal characteristics from other people. So in that way, my person is forever becoming something rather than being one thing. They are, in my opinion, evolving,” she smiled as she looked in the distance, noticing the fragment missing in the plastic walls, “Unfortunately, this is against the rules. When we create a companion, they are supposed to remain the same, never evolve. It is considered too greedy to expect our people to change. So I had to run, and I had to leave my person to their fate. My fate would have been execution. My companion’s fate, who knows, you know?” And at this, the thief took her little frog from the stands and went around to another side of the greenhouse, the one where the cactuses had long survived. She pricked herself on a leaf, and satisfied with that, she fell asleep in a softened layer of soil.

A few nights later after her honest speech, a mistake was made. Her black jeans had turned brown from the dirt and the mud, and she was sitting in a corner against the leg of one of the tables. Her hands were cupped horizontally and carefully she opened her palms as a clam does and revealed the miniature olive frog that had been her companion. As she opened her palms, the frog jumped at her face, and she shut her eyes automatically and smiled. She would then clasp him in her hands again and continue the game. Both enjoyed the nightly activity. This particular night, the winds outside were especially demanding, whirling their strong trombones and crinkling the plastic insulated walls wildly. Her and the frog were playing the game, she opened her hands, but a loud thunderclap distracted the frog and he jumped against the plastic walls, escaping through a small quarter-sized hole that had been pried open by the thief. She stuck her eye to the hole, the one she had made so that she could see how the outside world had functioned without her.

It was too dark, the rain had become fuller, and only the flashes of lightening showed how the rain fell even thicker. Rather than run after her friend, she waited for him to return because she had become scared of the world in that month in the greenhouse. As she waited for her companion, she blinked her own foggy eyes. Heavy water dropped onto this dry soil, making some muddy unwanted thing.

Guts

Posted on February 19th, 2014

It was a walk the length of their lifetime, and still they weren’t able to get comfortable. The moon was daringly high, calculating their speed, and it noticed how the man didn’t have the limp-like saunter the woman had. She was holding back just a fraction, observing the weightless shoulders of her companion which led down to his spine. She raised her hand, then her finger, and drew a capital T from his left shoulder to the other and right down to his tailbone. Taylor! Did you know that, Taylor? Did you know your bones spell you out? She watched his bones through the back of his white shirt, which had an upside-down heart sewn into it with red fishing wire.

Silently pulling at his chin, he focused on the boat in the distance across the sea. Tiny, old thing. He put his hand to his outside pants pocket, wondering how much it could sell for. He wondered if he could manage a creaky cot on the inside. Nothing too grand would do. Maybe he could get a fishing rod and teach himself to catch something. He began to wonder if he could really do that. Catch something, cut it up, and eat it. He doubted himself. He knew that he was the kind of person who would catch and then let go. The slicing part was the most gruesome, he imagined.

It looks so beautiful on the outside, the fish. Sequin-colored, rubbery flesh. Then, rather than savor, we eat it. Grasping the tail, we take up our saws and slice our ways from the belly to the gills, remove the entrails, those nasty guts. The blood, the brain, the personality – everything that makes it what you loved. Then wash up. And depending on how well you opened them up, there are bound to be some bones left remaining to choke on. Then, the filets – the actual edible pieces – were so little compared to his hunger. He disliked the idea. He wondered who would really be interested in such an endeavor. Who wants to ruin such beautiful things? What a waste of time.

The woman behind him shaped him with circles. She drew one around his head, then hers. She made eights with her eyes and hoped they would connect equally instead of having one larger circle and then one smaller, even though the smaller one was actually fuller.  The night was becoming day, for their lifetime was beginning to come to an end. The moon was slowly settling towards the other side of the earth as the sun was beginning to greet them. She drew a circle around the moon, around the sun, around his head, and around hers. Then she sighed deeply and remembered when they were here before.

She pokes the back of his white shirt and asked, “Why is the heart upside down?” He shrugged and nodded, only in agreement. She accepted his silence because her palms could only face upwards towards him. Her aged hands had dried and wrinkled through the night. She was feeling the sleep and imagined lying in her bed, warm and damp from the humidity. She wrapped the blanket at her hips and looked down at herself from the ceiling. Her torso was bare with her breasts exposed. She placed her hand over her stomach and her other on the blankness to the right of her. These big beds, she thought, these big beds lie. I’m hardly comfortable, a queenless king, stuck in the gravity of a mattress.

She welcomed a pressured pillow over her head. She did not classify such a greeting in the necessity cabinet. The boy, she knew, was not able to be in that blank space next to her. He would always be in front of infinity. She sighed the depth of a cloud and breathed out a mist at him. He lifted his hands and waved her away. So, she took in a deep breath, the weight of the ocean and spewed the cold seasons into him, which he guided back to her heart. She broke herself in half, a piñata of sweets and he dug a shallow, unmarked grave for them. She turned her head, spun it upside down and tried to imagine how the heart really was.

It was your eyes that received the image and the brain that adjusted it 180 degrees so that we saw what we saw that we felt. And she was the type of girl who took solace in the rotation that the sun and the moon had agreed upon. And she did not find it even remotely sad, as he did, that the moon and the sun only briefly saw each other in their circular romance.

 

Your Rant

Posted on December 16th, 2013

Let’s talk about something else for a minute. Let us finally think about that thing that doesn’t really bother us. Because from the second you wake up to the moment you put your head back down again, your thoughts are so predictable. They’re these personal things, things that we may not share, but understand. And when you think about all those people in the world and how much you want to unravel their masks, you wonder, really wonder, if the things that baffle you, baffle them. Makes you feel closer and farther. Makes you feel small and centered. You think of what you are, what you’d like to be, then what others are, and you realize that change is this simple bend of the knee and yet a difficult shattering of bones. How is that even possible? How is it that you play the guitar, but hate to sing? How is it that you love the beat of the drum, but hate to dance? Do others hate as you do? At what point do doorways of solitude transform into cemented walls of loneliness? You could climb them, those cement walls, lick the top of the corners as a fuck you and struggle to roll across, sprain your ankle on the way down, and limp your way to the finish line. Count insecurities. Avoid all opportunities where chance exists. Look towards the floor during those awkward moments. She moves closer to you and you think. You hate thinking until your regret slips from your fingertips on the way to your single room. With your posters, your bottles, your television set that you left turned on because no one else turned it off for you. Light a cigarette, a wish that death would come closer. Then in the morning, it starts again. Eyes open, thoughts pour out from them. You know this because people often ask you what’s on your mind. You think your eyes are too telling. Maybe it’s not the face, cause I think it’s pretty plain. The worry. The confusion. The hatred in the mirror.

Tuna

Posted on September 15th, 2013

The cat thought it the most interesting thing, at that moment, of there being food left in front of an unguarded door. There was nothing to discourage him from trying the tuna, which naturally discouraged him, and he didn’t feel hungry, which only left him unsatisfied and insatiably needing something.

His diamond black eyes wondered occasionally at the balcony from the other side of the complex, knowing he was nearly 500 feet from where the can had been mysteriously placed. He was perched on a thick, white rail, which swayed heartlessly, but he managed to balance himself. He was a cat and he was light.

Pst, pst, pst. C’mere, pst, pst, pst.

He could hear the rattle from the bottle. His food — brown and tasteless pellets — was crunchy and stale and would be waiting for him at the top of the refrigerator in a little blue plastic bowl. The pellets had a soft fish smell, but the most repulsive thing would be the pungent stench of the dog, which would transfer from the master’s fingers to the bowl, to the pellets. The mangy dog was quicker on his feet and always hungrier than the cat, and he’d slobber it all up if the master didn’t put the food where only his nimble limbs could reach. He was lighter than the dog.

The cat gathered that she, the master, would always feed him, therefore the tuna became the interest of the morning. It wasn’t far, he pointed out to himself. He calculated a merely three minute hop through the mildew. He classified himself as free and adventurous, one who could intelligently roam wherever he wanted. Sometimes, he’d even go to the neighbor’s house to meow at their window. Then he cocked his head to the left and wondered why they would never offer him food. Bewildered, he considered his appeal. He must be a handsome cat, clearly a clever looking cat. Perhaps it was the presence of the master that intimidated the neighbors.

Pst, pst, pst! What are you doing out there?

He returned his focus to perching heavenly on the rail, pretending not to stare at the can of tuna, but from the tip of his eye, he waited to see if the birds or another cat took notice. He watched the shadows of the leaves change shapes on the ground, his way of watching the passing time.

He made his attempt, hopped down from the rail and down the stairs. It wasn’t a far walk, and he played with the butterflies that were attracted to the flowers. He didn’t wish to kill them, only to see how his movements affected their movements, which wasn’t much. It seemed that everything was brainless this day.

Finally, he made it to the other side of the porch, and he saw the can, resting on the silver floor, glowing as a prize. He stared some more, and thought how the butterflies were much more playful. They would spin around for him, he could chase them, but here, this circular piece of metal just sat still, doing just as much being as a blade of grass. He laid by the porch entrance, calculating the interior. The three walls were covered with hung bamboo curtains, barely masking the light silver paint and there were three mismatched chairs all across from one another, in a sort of circle. The cushions on the chairs didn’t appear damp or moldy from being outside, but fresh and hardly sat upon. There was a table at the side of one of the chairs with an empty ashtray. From afar, this seemed very similar to his master’s porch. There were even plants hung from the roof, dangling down so that he could swat at them. He stretched himself and carefully eased into this new territory, hopping from one foot to the other without moving a speck of dust. The can of tuna was by the door, a very unsafe place, he knew. He stopped a foot away, waited for some sort of signal that the door was to be opened.

A softened pink butterfly fluttered smoothly towards the cat, who was now lying on his stomach, and stooped by his paw, “I’ve never seen you here before.”

“That’s true,” the cat rolled on his back, feigning interest in the ceiling.

“So what do you want?” his wings slowed, as if his heartbeat was calm from being stationary, “The tuna, right?”

“What tuna?”

That one by the door. The one you’ve been staring at, hoping for, right?”

“I don’t have that thing you say, hope? How silly. You’re mistaken.”

“I have better eyes than you do. I am not mistaken.”

“What do you need, bug? Want me to try to smack you?”

“I want you to know that if you want that tuna, you can have it. No one will stop you. But for one, it is not yours. For two, you are insatiable.”

“Is there a three? I do not like even numbers.”

“For three…I can make a three for you.”

“Yes?”

“This will hurt your master.”

“I don’t care about her.”

He imagined the door opening and him crawling through the small space with a pst pst pst. He imagined being lead into a room similar to his master’s. The stranger was a man in a black suit and tie, with a white smile and straight teeth. He wore alligator shoes and wouldn’t mind if he scratched the chair because he could very well find a new chair and leave this one to the cat. Then each day would be a new one because there was always a new can of tuna, chicken, maybe even lamb, and everything would feel like a comfortable adventure.

The door remained closed. The cat meowed to see if the stranger inside would hear him. The butterfly lifted his wings and began his flight around the neighborhood again, trying to imagine the cat staying still because that’s what he hoped would happen.

The cat moved in towards the can quickly and sniffed. He took each nibble at the pieces with nervousness, and thought about how moist they were from the humidity. The flies had moved away, and each bite was tender, trickling down his throat. His taste buds screamed irresponsibly. He indomitably recalled the hard food, tasteless and crunchy, such opposites. He finished the tuna, licked it until the bottom of the can was merely a reflection and he felt this strange ache in his ruthless guts. He looked into the can, and saw himself, as if he were looking into the chlorine stimulated swimming pool. He saw his orange flakey hair, matted down from playing with the butterflies in the wet grass. And he saw how his colors, orange, white, and black, seemed to go in patches rather than collective swirls, like normal. His eyes were black, an unlucky thing for a cat. No one can tell the mood of a cat whose eyes don’t change shapes. And he thought how terribly unlucky he was to be the nomad, the cat thief.