Category Archives: Prose

Adventures in Counseling

(Disclaimer: All accounts are purely fictional, highly dramatised, and do not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of the author. And anyone who says and believes otherwise is an idiot.)

~*~

It’s so exhausting, having to play pretend and act normal. Having to pretend to be mentally stable and mimic the actions of someone who’s having a ball of a time, as the smiling fucker, oh sorry, you meant counselor—honest mistake—grins as she dissects your brain with your fallible lies and a razor glint of her diabetes sweet teeth, faker than fucking plastic surgery. The wall clock ticks softly in excoriation, and with each tick you die a little inside, bit by bit, nerve by nerve, line for line.

You don’t know why you were called here in the first place, but shit, somehow it’s inevitable, and here you are now, caught up in the viscous web, sitting in the red plush couch of a pastel-drunk room with pleasant hues, looking at a hulking woman that looks like she’s going to bite your head off if you dare even move as much as twitch your eyeball to the left. This sucks bollocks. Now you have to have to act, smile, play nice, calculate your answers, and take precaution in every word and letter, because a single minor slip-up and congratulations, you’re fucking insane! You win an all-expenses paid trip to the asylum, and please take a complimentary straitjacket on your way out! Them’s the breaks, you mentally incompetent loser.

But despite everything else, you’re still trying to be as truthful as you can be, giving her a predisposed glimpse of your personality without showing the grotesque, starving, slobbering, hideous monsters that are itching to unsheathe its fatal claws and spring on her. Surreptitiously hiding and suppressing all the possible yet cunningly undiagnosed anxiety, depression, bipolar tendencies, borderline symptoms, insomnia, paranoia, apathy, psychopathy, insanity, and the mixed-up mental maelstrom that’s rampaging and crashing internal systems within you as you forcefully laugh along with her and lock your glassy dead eyes upon her taunting stare; judging, scrutinising, analysing, like a blinded omniscient deity, all-knowing but never truly seeing.

So, how are you today? I’m fine, thank you. How’s school? It’s okay. How’s life? I’m doing great. How about your family? Four siblings, one parent, we’re all good. You are? I am completely fan-fucking normal. You’re supposed to fill in the blanks but it’s all multiple choice. Nothing but lost question marks, rising intonations, spat inflections, blah, blah, blah, and all the other prompted scripted questions, cliche and well-practised, disgustingly clean. The interrogation is designed to intimidate, blasting and shot off like machine gun rounds, jarring your senses, making you duck, tattering you with bullet holes. The professional iciness sending shudders down your spine, chills through your nerves, and profanities ricocheting off the back of your gritted teeth and lips. It’s nothing but insipid, asinine, fatuous inquiries that make you want to answer badly with a mockingly loud tonsil-performance yawn and a crooked middle finger raised proudly like your personal country flag.

But no. That’s unacceptable. And frankly, doing what you believe to be right at this point will get your foot sinking further in the shit you stepped upon. So you smile, faker than the reality you’re facing right now. Flash, flash, flash, smiles colliding against smiles, expert lies rolling smoothly off your numbed tongue like honey, and she’s the childish bumblebee suckling on the pistils and unwittingly getting corrupted by the words, your parasite infestation transferring under her skin without her consent. It’s hilarious, almost enough for you to drop your charade, but you fumble, fix your mask, and regain aplomb and composure, continuing to answer her with a placid expression that tells all but gives away none.

You know you’re a fantastic fucking actor, but somehow you still can’t help occasionally avoiding gazes and being at a loss for words and substituting lame sceptical replies for rational answers that never present itself in your mind. You try in vain to stop yourself from impulsively raising your jumper’s sleeves in trepidation of the idiot in front of you spotting the crisscrossed scars on your arms that cover your skin like a sculpture design and declare you a threat to yourself and legally wacko. You nervously making frenetic titchy motions and fiddling with your hands in order to prevent an oncoming thermonuclear meltdown from dislodging itself out of your suffocating throat. Suck it up, you can get through this. Stay calm, and countdown. One, two, three…

After what seems like an eternity of awkward silence and a gazillion fucking questions and omitted details and convoluted conversations, she finally sets down her pen and her scribble-filled paper and ends it. That will be all for today, thank you. No, thank you, you reply automatically like the perfect little demon you are. You amble away and let the door hit your ass on your way out, but before you carry on, you come to a halt at the doorway, grip the doorknob into a crushed metal lump, crane your stiff neck backwards a-la Exorcist, and ironically grin back at her just one last time, shockingly faker than your fucking will to live, a derisive leer that screams a silent “fuck you bitch, I’ll see you in hell”, and you finally saunter out, feeling no better, feeling even worse.

So you slowly walk back to class, half an hour late, plagued with clashing negative emotions and cynical thoughts, feeling more vindictive, more depressed, more fucked-up than usual, and ultimately wishing badly to slit the throat of the tattletale asshole who ratted you out. You’re hating yourself for no particular reason again and at the same time congratulating yourself victoriously because you successfully managed to deceive and manipulate someone who deserved no less and even more. You smile, but this time a twisted, deranged, maniacal one, undecipherable as either a smile of jubilance or a grimace of agony, but unsurprisingly realer than all the smiles you’ve ever outputted combined. You can breathe easy now. you can breathe now. You fucking did it.

But inside, your acidic guts still churn like a heavy washing machine load, and you’re unable to pull the plug, so you short circuit and burn out, and you head straight to the bathroom to try to put out the fire that’s threatening to spread in your body. You grasp the porcelain sink, splash water in your face, heave once, twice, thrice, but nothing comes out, only spit and empty tears, but not from sorrow, rather only from triggering and abusing your gag reflex. Within the furthest reaches of your mentality, you’re still rational, but it’s all discordant, damaged, deranged. It will take a miracle and another universe to salvage what’s left in that chaos. “Guidance counseling”, yeah fucking right. More like 30 minutes stuck in purgatory, sleeping with your worst nightmare screwing you against your goddamn will.

Your heartbeat finally slows after a while, and ragged breaths resonate from the tiled walls of the solitary room that you’ve confined yourself in as a temporary solace. You raise your head, touch the cold glass of the mirror, and shut your eyes once to blink away the fear, before you finally have the courage to look at yourself in the stained mirror. What returns your stare is a hollow vessel, all skin and bones and muscle and no soul, devoid of life, nullified of any joy, pessimistic, sunken, washed-out, sleepless, depleted, useless, tired as all fucking hell, uncaring, pathetic, apathetic, lost, cliche, inhuman. You know you’re fucked-up, too far gone, you’re not and you’ll never be o-fucking-kay, you get that, and that’s exactly why you hate being psychoanalysed. You sigh in defeat. It’s exhausting, pretending to be human.

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Wild One

It’s been a year, kid.

I don’t have to constantly check up on you anymore, and be paranoid whether you are still breathing as you slumber, unknowing, naive, innocence in its most delicate form. I can only count your heartbeats, slow and steadily warm, whispering reassurances to me, making me believe still in a transient hope on a world so lost and pitifully dark. All the nights I’ve had to give up, interrupted sleep I’ve had to bide my tired mind by, the erstwhile activities and further indulgences I’ve had to forego to help in taking care of you, the stress, the weeping, the spewed bodily fluids, the horrid diapers, the sacrifices ventured and risks undertaken, everything and nothing all at once…I suppose it was all worth it in the end.

You’re still here, after all, breathing, laughing, crying. Living. One year in. It’s crazy to think just how much has changed, how everything has been elicited by insignificance, how everything slows down yet speeds up at the same time, nerves racing clockwork ticks, how much has changed, how far you have grown. It only feels like a trembling fingertip away when you were a newborn infant delivered from the hospital, and, lying there, ensconced in white silken sheets and resting with umber eyes wide shut, I saw a part of the universe that was apt with the stars in the sky. I basked in the warmth of someone who doesn’t have to be arrogant and jaded like the rest of the heartless horizons, a soul, that was a diamond moon, uncarved, pristine, an enigma. An incandescent light that catches the sparkle in every worthwhile heart. I left the room dazed that day, with ink all over my hands, holding a crumpled piece of paper, unsure of my own senses, pensive and ocean-deep.

Admittedly, I’m not the best babysitter. Sometimes I’m clumsy and end up panicking amid bloodstains and scarlet bumps. Sometimes I get vexed and irritated by your inability to act and your constant incessant shrieking, for heaven knows what reason. Sometimes I snap at you for your tantrums and for the things I know are not under your control. Most of the time I don’t know what the hell I’m even doing when I hold you. I know I’m a child-hating misanthrope that doesn’t take any shit from any other snot-nosed bratty brat that dare crosses my path, and I should be a choking hazard, kept fifty miles away from any person under 5 years old. But you are the exception.

Your shrieking laughter trumps all the crying and wailing I’ve endured from you. Your adorable cooing and chubby tottering alike, the fact that I was there for your initial steps, your first word (“Wa-ta.”), the numerous milestones that can’t be replaced by a million million-dollar paintings. The jubilance and uplift your cloudy childish curiosity banishes my demons temporarily and ties my emotions to a raspberry red balloon, sends me shimmering against your diamond moon, providing me an ephemeral glow, enough to get me though the day. You make me this incredibly maudlin and histrionic, hell, not everyone has the ability to do such a thing. And yes, I may have lost my room when you arrived, true enough, but I found a home in you.

To my sister’s chubby little child, stay wild and have fun, not only in your jungle themed party (which somehow has a clown?), but in this jungle of a life as well. True enough that your untainted whims may not last forever, but the memories remain like butterflies in my tongue, fluttering, tinting my lips with chromatic stained glass artworks, tasting of fairy dust and sweet sugary candy and an indistinguishable distinct bitter undertone, a hueful transfer with every cuddle and pinch and peck. You’ve got no reason to be sad, you need no reason to be happy, which is why you’re smiling all the time. You’ve got many people who love you unconditionally, so beat your chest and swing on the vines, you’ve got a lot to roar about. Don’t grow up too soon now. You deserve that much, at least.

Happy birthday, Gianni-ya.

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On Account of Accounting

Accounting lessons; 1:00 PM. There’s a dull humming invading every comatosed whim of my numbed-down senses, as my wandering stare loses its attention from the blackboard and stays to the harshly glaring rays of the stupor-inducing sunshine. Perspiration trickles solemnly down my neck, a steady saline river of liquid ennui, scribbling fluid retrospections on my scoliosis-slouch back. Nothing else makes much sense but senselessness. The discussion goes on, and the teacher, god bless her, but her voice is beginning to melt into the sound of the faceless grownups in a classic Peanuts movie, and I’m the exasperated Charlie Brown looking comically tired and uttering my disappointed interjection of ″Good grief.″ I sigh inwardly at the depressing thought. A speck of dirt flies past my jaded drooping eyes, almost taunting me as it basks in all its glorious and dignified freedom, and I can hear a squeaky voice at the back of my head blowing raspberries and chanting ″You’re stuck and forced to endure this torture and I’m not, suck it loser!″. I send it away with an aloof glare and a whiff of carbon dioxide from my dry cracked lips, and the high pitched voice trails away with an indignant Darth Vader yell of NOOOOOO, as the dirt speck finally disappears from my line of vision. Yes, I am seriously picking quarrels with infinitesimal matter. I am either very much insane, or have transcended all the limits of human boundaries and am, in fact, an omniscient god who can communicate with inanimate objects. An audible laugh accidentally escapes my throat in a choked hiss at such ludicrousness, and I hastily attempt to cover it up with a weak and pathetic cough. I clamped one heavily-doodled hand to my mouth to prevent any further unfortunate situations, as the teacher’s pupils (well, the ones on her eyes anyways, not the students) twitch in suspicion and scan the tepidly simmering room, ears perked up and nostrils slightly flared in alarm. I duck, scratch on my soaked neck awkwardly, and feint nonchalance by pretending to copy down notes in order to avoid her accusing eye contact, earnest visage etched on my face as I am actually writing this down. The sunlight tears against the glass panes more invasively than before. The room grows stuffier and unbearably hot, the students sliding into a gregarious and palpable grudge, the teacher’s voice sounding more and more like a drone of disturbed angry wasps, buzzing and incoherent. There is nothing else to do but further degringolade into the void of boredom as my neurone flickers off and commits suicide one by one. I hang my head back and absentmindedly gape at my besmirched hands, the vantablack Sharpie ink on my tanned skin shimmering as it separated itself from the dermis and began to float upwards like helium balloons, calligraphic band member names and splintered song lyrics dancing and fusing in an amalgamation of odd letters and incomprehensible symbols, right before my delirious hallucinating eyes. The sky grows temporarily dislimned as the vicious sun gets blocked off and hides behind a passing temperamental cloud. The students become a caricature tableaux of a cautionary cry for help, melting into human puddles along with their creaking plastic armchairs. The unknowing teacher rambles on, lost and deafened by her own static white noise. The cycle continues. It’s official: I am clearly very much insane.

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Fly Me To The Moon

12:35 AM. She took a long drag from her cigarette, Sinatra’s smooth timbre crooning about love in the background, as thunder rumbled heartily outside, accompanied by jagged flashes of sharp lightning that streaked the rainy midnight skies.

Sitting alone on a tall creaky barstool and leaning by the countertop almost choreographically, cigarette held quaintly on one hand and poised with a radiating air of regality, the intriguing charm and the allure of the mysterious woman had an effect that made heads turn, eyes pop, and hearts beat out of their chambers. She had a stunning slim figure, the short black silk dress that she wore flattering her form breathtakingly, fabric glistening with water droplets that shimmered under the low sodium lights. Her usually cascading honey-blonde hair, now pulled back in a tight bun, dripped water onto the dirty black-and-white checkered linoleum floor; the occasional stray strands she blew away from her porcelain-smooth face. Her delicate hands were quaint and slender, her glinting sharp nails painted a perfect cherry-red. Her flawless lissome legs were crossed quite exquisitely, bright five-inch scarlet stilettos almost—but not quite—touching the floor.

With smoky grey eyelids, thin streaks of perfectly applied eyeliner that ended in a slight curl, and pencilled eyebrows arched ever so slightly in a manner of allusion, she observed with drooped caramel-coloured eyes, scanning heedlessly in a state of curious ennui, her sophisticatedly jaded gaze passing all throughout the small room, before returning to pay attention only to her cigarette and ignoring the simmering brewed coffee that sat on the marble countertop, waiting patiently in front of her.

The old dingy 24-hour diner, as the woman noted, was virtually empty, some worn-down plush red chairs and neon decorated vinyl booths that have already lost their colour occupied by a small motley crew of shady figures, nocturnal regulars, and one or two lost souls that got caught in the unpleasant weather and found no other roof to huddle under, simply waiting for the rain to pass. A green and yellow broken fluorescent sign flickered tepidly by the glass door, inviting everyone that might pass by the diner that the said establishment was “_PEN”.

The barkeep, a hairy overweight man in his late 50’s, with thin wispy hair and several balding spots, a gruff military demeanour, and a permanently stained white apron, was sitting hunched in a dimmer corner of the place, scratching his liver spots while absentmindedly flicking through a day-old newspaper. Occasionally, he would also chance to shoot the mysterious woman quick furtive glances, then he would resound a guttural harrumph from the back of his gravelly throat and resume turning the pages, as if she wouldn’t have noticed.

She merely disregarded the barkeep’s lewd pervading eyes, very much accustomed to the uncalled-for attention, and continued occupying herself with her cigarette, taking a prolonged drag, breathing in the fumes deeply, and, upon exhaling, blowing plumes of smoke out of her puckered ruby lips, the grey tendrils curling up and creating intricate abstract patterns before dissipating into thin air. She peered at them with daydream-gloss eyes, as if lost in a train of thoughts.

“Got caught in the rain, dintcha, hun?” A voice suddenly interrupted her convoluted reverie, a silky baritone voice, almost purring and sounding ever so close to her right ear. Alarmingly close.

Startled by the intrusion, she snapped out of her slight trance and swiveled her head towards the distraction, gossamer flaxen tresses fanning softly with loose strands of hair, chin tilting up haughtily in slow motion, welcoming the intruder with her finest chatoyant glare. What greeted her sight was a lanky and weather-beaten man with a comical wolfish grin, possibly in his mid-40’s, donning a grey flannel suit that was even more so drenched than she.

Strange, she thought warily. This man snuck up on me. She hadn’t noticed that he positioned himself next to her. Matter of fact, she didn’t even hear the rusty wind chime by the door tinkle to signify his entrance. She shook her head infinitesimally to clear her mind, and glanced at the man unsurely. He looked back at her with one brow raised and a half smile, as if expecting an answer.

“You did, dintcha? Caught in the rain, I mean?” He repeated.

“And so were you, my dear gentleman.” She pointedly replied, speaking for the first time since she entered that diner, her voice husky and sweet, like soft cream dissolving in hot coffee.

He simply laughed heartily, either failing to catch, or choosing not to notice, her indignant tone. “That obvious, huh?”

Setting his wet trilby hat on the countertop, the man ran a rough hand through his slicked-back salt-and-pepper hair, drops of water mixed with greasy hair product falling from the tips, and shook himself off like a newly-bathed dog. With that, he sat next to the woman, the barstool making a groan of protest under his heavy weight, and began telling a story that frankly, no one asked to hear.

“Yeah, we got some real nasty weather outside. Been livin’ round these parts for what, a year now?, and I haven’t this dammed town pour down like this in ages. And I was just coming home from business. Usually don’t stay out this long, god knows how terrible overtime can get, but that damn Andriacchi, ballsy as ever, took long strides that w’aint even in the contract, making it take far too long to seal the deal. Had to wait the entire thing out, nearly whacked Andre, as we called him in the office, several times, but he thank his God I didn’t, and by luck of all bad lucks, damn rain had caught me before I could even attempt to catch a bus.”

The woman smiled politely at his lengthy narration but said nothing in reply, looking down and pretending to be engrossed in her cherry-red nails.

But despite her blatantly-obvious disinterest to carry on the conversation, the man still persisted. “And how about you, my dear lady? What were you doing before this raging storm came to claim the land?”

The woman sighed inwardly. This man is becoming a bit too nosy for comfort, she thought. But she didn’t wish to come off as rude, so she decided to play along.

“Oh, I was waiting for someone. Nothing much in need of attention.” She replied, waving her hand with the cigar airily, fingers passing through silver smoke, her sultry voice slightly accentuated now. “My, I don’t have to tell the whole thing, do I?” She asked, placing a hand softly on her bosom and feigning slight horror at the discourse.

The man laughed his booming laugh once more, clearly amused with her little playact. “Not if you don’t want to, of course.”

The barkeep, who had been sneakily eavesdropping in their near one-sided conversation for a while now, set down his dogeared newspaper and decided to intervene. He set a meaty hand down forcefully on the countertop, rattling the cups and coasters placed on top of it, and brashly interrupted their chat. “Ey, look ‘ere man. Ye come ‘ere lookin’ fer pur’ty ladies te bother er ye gon’ order sometin’? If ya ain’t, then imma ‘ave ‘te kick ye out. I needa make ‘e livin’ here, an’ not simpl’y serve ‘es people’s glor’fied ‘mbrellas.”

The man raised his hands up in a sign of good faith and apologised in surrender. “Oh, I’m so sorry, my good man. I meant no harm, after all. I suppose I’ll have a cup of Joe, make that black. And nothing else at the moment, thanks very much.”

The disgruntled barkeep grumbled an undecipherable snarky retort in annoyance, mumbling profanities all the while, but grabbed a dusty chipped cup off the shelf and poured man some stale coffee anyways. Taking a brown-tinted towel that was hanging limply from his hulking shoulder, he started wiping the puddles of water off the countertop, very much tempted to knock off the man’s sodding hat onto the floor in the process, but he didn’t.

After pausing shortly to take a careful sip at the scalding black liquid, the man piped up once again, restarting his and the woman’s hanging small talk. “So…who’s this guy you’re waiting for? Someone special?” He smirked cheekily, as if thinking of insalubrious entendres, and teasingly suggested with a playful glint in his cold sapphire eyes, “Ah, your lover, perhaps?”

The woman nearly choked on the cigarette smoke at his brash rhetoric, but she managed to return to her insouciant composure. Exhaling trails of steam, she scornfully shook her head, perhaps a little too defensive in her denial, and blots of water flicked from her hair and dotted the recently-wiped countertop. The barkeep snorted disdainfully at this and roughly wiped off the quivering drams with a flick of the wrist, making his action prominent and loud and accompanied by more cussing under the breath and obnoxious muttering.

The woman ignored the irked barkeep and finally replied, “Oh no, no. Heavens, no. Nothing of that sort, thanks very much. Just an old relative who came to town, and I simply wanted to say hi. He wasn’t all too pleased with the prospect of seeing me though, and after a bit of bickering between us about petty things, we got into some exaggerated quarrel and a disagreement, and he hurried away to god knows where, leaving me to catch pneumonia in the rain.”

She said those last words lightly in jest, yet still with noticeable spite and suggestive bitter undertones between her gritted teeth.

Bindle stiff didn’t even give you a ride home. Pigheaded uncultured prick.” The man only replied, his tone surprisingly dark now, his reddened hands slowly clenching tightly, the initial cheery ebullience in his personality gone and replaced with a furious seething vendetta. “What gives him the nerve to be abandoning such a beautiful lady such as you to get caught in such a harsh rain? If I ever see that guy’s face here, hell, he better run for his life ‘fore I go give him a good taste of this.” And he punctuated his sentence with a strained fist slammed loudly on the counter.

The plangent bang of his terse hand, accompanied by the clangorous rattling of their disturbed coffee cups, rang clear and sharp throughout the small space of the diner, throwing the midnight’s peace off its momentum, making everyone stop with their static chatter and grow suddenly quiet.

“Oi! Watch ‘de mahog’ny!” The barkeep scowled, waving the besmirched towel at the man threateningly. “Unless ye plan ‘te pay fer it, dun’ break it, ye snot-faced bast’erd.″ Some off-put onlookers glared at the man disdainfully and huffed rather condescendingly before going back to their meals and drinks.

The woman snuffed out her cigarette, faint traces of ashes adhering to her exquisite fingertips, and stared at the angry man almost frightfully. “Oh, dear me. I didn’t mean to upset you. I’m quite fine, really.” She said softly, her sultry voice dropping an octave, barely above an audible whisper.

The sound of her hushed tone immediately relaxed the man’s rage and pounding heart, and his sudden burst of anger died down. Removing his agitated fist from the countertop, he shot a sincere apologetic glance at the glaring barkeep, who was wiping some crystal glasses and muttering spitefully about the man (“Bad enuf’ ye’ swagger ‘ere an’ only order coffe’, naw, but ye gotta break sumthin’ too…”), before turning to look at the woman.

″I guess I should explain.″ The man said in an equally quiet voice. He sighed heavily, cleared his throat, and began to relay another tale again. And this time around, she decided to listen.

“I didn’t mean to—I, um, I’m sorry. I shouldn’t have lost control. It’s just, my wife, she, uh, she recently…um, how’d you say this politely…right, she just recently passed away. And I was a wild man back then, I’d left her alone until the dawn breaks, but she’d keep waiting for me, waiting while I went on drinkin’ and having the time of my life with my buddies and messing around with chicks and all that. She was persistent, Katherine was. Waiting, waiting outside, peerin’ and lookin’ and starin’ out the windows hopefully to see me return, until one day, well, hah, one day, she were home alone, and some damn burglars burst in. Those thieving sons of bitches took everything. Even her life. And the bastards didn’t even leave her untouched.”

The man swallowed hard at the final word, his steady booming voice finally cracking and choking him up. The dark implications quickly dawned on the woman, the staggering impact of his story rendering her dumbfounded for once. He merely looked down at his coffee in shame, trying to hide his pained tears unsuccessfully, as she stared at him in surprise upon the revelation, her scarlet mouth slightly gaped, her almond-shaped eyes now rounder than an orange.

“And at the very end of it all, I was the one that was left waitin’.” He scoffed hollowly, sneering at his own morbid joke. “Karma, huh.”

“But it wasn’t…it wasn’t your fault.” The shocked woman tried vainly to console him, but he only buried his etched stone face deeper in the shadows and shook his head stubbornly, refusing to look at the woman’s glistening umber eyes.

“No. No matter how hard you try’n to spin it, it’s still all my fault, miss. I left her alone. I let her die. I let her wait forever. I let her be desecrated and killed by some filthy ten-cent thieves.”

The woman fell silent as he recovered from his despair and slowly straightened up, looking outside the windows, into the clashing darkness and water of the distant fallen night, remorseful regret replaced with newfound determination. “And now I swore to myself that I would protect any lady that I could, no matter what it takes. And I ain’t leaving no one waitin’ anymore.”

The woman finally managed to purse her hanging mouth closed, and she bit on her lower lip as she gazed at him with pitying yet understanding eyes. “That’s…tragic. It’s not much, but I’m very touched. Really, I am. I’m very sorry for your loss.” She didn’t know what quite to do, so she reached out a hesitant porcelain hand and patted his back comfortingly.

“I’m afraid to say though, that you can’t protect me anymore. It’s quite a bit too late for that, now. And you can’t be everyone’s avenging angel, you know. But that’s okay. You’re a noble man with a noble cause, that’s for sure.” She sincerely assured, then paused to consider. “If not coming off as a little nosy at times, that is.″

The man burst into a warm chuckle at her little chide, and the woman, glad to have lightened his spirits, smiled brightly in return, her ruby lips splitting open, showing him her perfect row of gleaming white teeth, smoky eyelined lids softly winking in assurance.

With that, the high-strung tension that initially enveloped the atmosphere was instantly broken, the casual background ambiance of the diner quickly returning again, with the pattering rain, amicably chattering costumers, and the hissing sizzle of the greasy grill accompanied by the starting drumbeats of Frank Sinatra’s Fly Me To The Moon.

“Oh, I absolutely adore this song.” The woman gushed sultrily in awe, as she closed her eyes and started humming and swaying her head along to the jazzy tune, her comely countenance wistful as she listened intently, lost in the haze of the blaring trumpet notes.

The man smirked in affirmation. “I agree. Lemme tell you something, this Frank guy, everyone thought he wasn’t gonna be nothing, but now he definitely got his steppin’ stones on stardom out there. And he deserves it too, oh yes. Ol’ blue eyes’ voice is simply absolutely great, and what’s even better is that all the ladies love him.″ He stopped his tirade momentarily, derailed by an amusing thought. ″Y’know, tell you what, I could actually sing too.”

The woman only looked at him with coalescing disbelief and challenging eyes, a hint of a smile playing on her carmine lips. Without a moment’s hesitation, the man stood up and cleared his throat grandiosely to get the small crowd’s attention. Heads turned and watched as modulated his voice in faux preparation, placed his soaked trilby hat back on his head and tipped it angularly for an added jaunt and flair, and he gently took her elegant hands in his, suave as he gazed at her meaningfully and winked. The flustered woman couldn’t help but blush, her usually pale cheeks now a pleasant shade of tickled pink.

And with that buildup, the man opened his mouth and finally began to sing along.

“Fly me to the moon, let me play among the stars…let me see what spring is like, on Jupiter and Mars…in other words, hold my hand…in other words, baby, kiss me…”

And indeed the man sang. Horribly off-key. Trying absurdly hard to imitate Sinatra’s sonorous smooth melodies, but utterly failing to do so, and instead ending up wailing like an insufferable beached whale, and once again causing a slight disturbance among the diner, not for the first and the last time in that rainy night.

The quick-tempered barkeep, vexingly exasperated and finally done in with the man’s bamboozling antics, heaved the dirty towel directly at the man’s face and, shaking a threatening meaty fist, hissed indignantly at him to “Pipe ‘de ‘ell down, will ya?!”. Several straying onlookers laughed under their breaths at the comical scene, welcome at the break from monotony, and more amused than annoyed.

The woman could only giggle at the man’s poor attempts to sing, and she laughed even harder at his slapstick attempts at removing the disgusting towel from his face. She pulled her hand away from his grasp to nudge him scoldingly as he stumbled backwards and nearly tripped, still partially blinded by the foul-smelling cloth.

“It was absolutely perfect until you opened your mouth. How could you do such a terrible thing to such a good song?” She chastised playfully, tutting disappointedly and wagging one painted finger at the man.

He joined in with her mirth and let out a small cheer as he finally managed to remove the antagonising towel from his visage, the woman clapping jestingly at his mini success. He tossed it away onto the counter, accepted her offer of a crumpled tissue, and wiped his face thoroughly with it, before returning to his seat and finally settling down. “Hey, I did say I could sing. I didn’t say could sing great.” He quipped.

With nothing else left to say, and lulled by the song’s instrumental interlude, they sat taciturn for several minutes, letting the song continue to play in peace, her eyes closed in contemplation and tapping her long cherry nails on the counter, him whistling along to the tune merrily as he drained his coffee cup to the very last drop and asked for a refill from the disgruntled barkeep. Finally, the woman decided to break the comfortable silence, and grazed the man on the shoulder.

“Here. Keep this for me, would you?” She requested, removing a simple golden ring from her hand and dropping it on his palm. “It was my grandma’s. I inherited it from her, and I was very dear with her, so this quite special to me. But well…call me absolutely mad for giving it away so easily, and to a complete stranger too, but somehow…I just really want you to have it.”

The man gaped blankly at the ring flashing back at him on his palm, unable to digest the news. “But…I can’t…I can’t accept this. What—what’s it for?” He blanched, trying to return the ring to her. She simply waved away his futile endeavour and took his calloused hand with the ring, balling it into a tight fist and patting it in finality.

“Oh no, don’t worry too much about it. I have no more use for this ring, honestly. And it’s highly possible that we never cross paths again, so I give to you as a present, as a memento, from the girl that you saved, to my avenging angel.” She said with a curious wink of her mocha eye. “Just trust me on this one, okay?”

Before the confused man could muster out a reply of thanks, the door of the diner suddenly opened with a prominent tinkling sound, interrupting their conversation.

Both heads turned to look as a stern-looking elderly man wearing a brown suit stepped in, tossing his soaked tweed jacket on the coat rack carelessly and placing his wet umbrella by the side of the doorway. His brown oak walking cane, lined with a streak of affluent gold at the side, made a rough tap-tap-tap sound as he walked briskly, impatiently making his way towards a nearby formica table, as if even the tiniest milliseconds of time was something he did not wish to waste.

But as soon as the old man spotted the woman staring at him very intently, he immediately stopped walking, his black beady eyes widening and threatening to pop out of their sockets, his wrinkled face turning deathly white, his austere personality morphing and revealing his vulnerability, as if he had seen a ghost.

The man noticed his startling expression in contrast the woman’s equally-terrified one, and his breath hitched at his windpipe at the realisation. He cleared his throat quietly, as if wishing to dislodge the growing hard lump in his throat, and leaned in closer to the riveted woman.

“…Is that him? The man who stood you up?” He asked cautiously, his voice low and urgent. The woman could only nod stiffly in reply, skin quivering faintly as her worried eyes were still locked upon the old man’s glare.

The old man’s cane made a startling clattering noise as it fell on the floor, resonating hollowly and juddering every patron’s soul. This sound seemed to give the old man a start, as he mustered up enough courage—or foolishness—to make use of his voice. “You…! But-but how could this possibly be—?!” The old man stuttered out. He pointed an accusing tremulous finger at the woman. “You’re supposed to be dead!”

The barkeep, whose mind was on automatic and had been rather engrossed in carrying on with his torpid tasks, finally took notice of the disturbance and stopped rearranging the newly-washed plates. He glowered in irritation at the old man. “Wossa big idea’r, eh?!” He snapped angrily. “Get de’ ‘ell outta ‘ere an’ bother some’un else, ya nasty geezer!”

Ignoring the frazzled barkeep’s immediate demands, the old man hastily reached for his back pocket, pulled out a .45 calibre gun, and pointed it directly towards the woman, trembling and continuously babbling some undecipherable chants, occasionally mumbling a more coherent death threat like “Dead!!! The dead should stay dead…” in a fit of insanity.

The usually-tough barkeep stepped back in alarming surprise at the procurement of the weapon, accidentally dropping a newly-washed plate, which shattered loudly on the linoleum floor.

The sound jolted the entire diner into action. Commotion and panic immediately arose. A morbidly obese woman wearing fake jewelry pearls clutched her purse and shrieked in fear. A worn-looking businessman snatched his briefcase from the floor and held it defensively. Someone, in their haste to try escaping from the madman, accidentally bumped into the still-playing jukebox, ceasing Sinatra’s croons at “Fill my heart with—”.

As the delirious shivering old man cocked the gun and fumbled with one unsteady hand to clutch the trigger, something in the man’s mind instantly snapped, and he stood up and fearlessly faced the armed old man with his chest puffed out, filled with a mélange of sheer bravado and unadulterated rage.

“Dead?! I’ll show you dead, you disgusting old creep!” He yelled out boldly, advancing aggressively towards the old man. With a strength he didn’t know he possessed, the man harshly pushed the gun’s muzzle away from his face, which, fortunately, was quite easy enough, for the old man was so severely shaken that he had trouble gripping it tightly. The man then pulled for the gun and yanked it out of the old man’s hands, dropped it cautiously on the floor, and kicked it away. He grabbed the insensible old man by his collar forcefully, lifted him a couple inches off the ground with one hand, and with a final burst of power, knocked him down to the ground with one swift powerful punch straight to the jaw using the other.

The old man lay there unconscious, and didn’t stir for quite some time.

The man, rubbing his sore knuckles gingerly, turned away from the knocked-out fellow and saw that the woman was already gone. Hearing the backdoor slam open, he impulsively grabbed at his pocket and threw a couple dimes at the countertop, grabbed for his still heavily-soaked tan trenchcoat—which made the coat rack fall loudly and spill its contents, and ran towards the sound to find her, ignoring the other fleeing customers’ frantic discordant shouts and pushing past the shocked barkeep, who was reaching with a visible shaky hand for the telephone to call the police.

His boiling blood was rushing wildly, his panicked heart was pounding deafeningly in his ears, his coursing adrenaline working its way to his body and legs as he ran against the frigid hurricane winds and the stinging blades of the raindrops, resolutely fighting against the chasm of the hysterical storm. He wanted to shout out to her, to call out her name, but much to his deep chagrin, he realised that he never asked her for it, nor was it given to him.

“Where are you?!” He bellowed in a fit of desperation, rain blurring and impairing his vision and seeing only occasional flashes and glimpses of the woman’s black dress, or her blonde hair, or her red shoes, teasing him, tossing him, taunting him to deliria, as he twisted left and right, darted down the abandoned streets, and crossed through dirty suspicious alleyways relentlessly.

After what seemed like hours of chasing mere spectres and thin air, the man finally came to a literal screeching stop, nearly slamming headfirst upon a tall graffiti-infested wall, and found himself standing in front of a dead end, quite literally. Mottled hairy rats scuttled about the blind alley harriedly, bits of trash and dust blew everywhere as they were caught in precipitous winds and torrents of flooding water alike, and a conglomeration of filthy skittering cockroaches were congregating by a soggy pizza box.

Panting, frustrated, drenched, worn-out, and severely tired, the man can only groan disappointedly in defeat, carelessly leaning his hand against the grimy wall to catch his breath and rest. But in doing so, he accidentally kicked aside a pile of waterlogged newspapers, and something that was just a little harder than paper.

Looking down at his ruined muddy pennyloafers, he saw shreds of torn paper, an empty plastic bag from a local grocery store…and a withering slender hand with a pale circular ring mark on one finger, long nails painted a perfect cherry-red, and fingers clutching a snuffed-out cigarette, sticking gracelessly out of yesterday’s headlines.

He threw his head back and screamed in consternation. The rats squealed. The cockroaches scattered. Thunder boomed angrily overhead. Shrill police sirens abruptly pierced through the soft pattering of the dripping water, as the dying rain slowly came to a tranquil stop, leaving only the echoing howls of both man and shearing wind.

~*~

And indeed, the dead woman who had been found under day-old headlines had become the new headline for the newspapers the very next day. WOMAN FOUND MURDERED IN AN ALLEYWAY, they all announced in bold and bright red uppercase letters, baiting for curious attention from the rushing passersby, tabloids and reliable sources alike propped up on newsstands and magazine stalls on every busy street that morning.

Supplying the specifics, the tawdry detail for detail articles mentioned that the victim’s name was Christine Emica Evans, 30 years old, an out-of-work actress from lower downtown. She was brutally raped before being finally murdered by her own uncle from her father’s side, Thomas Elcott. Elcott, 67 years old, was a ruthless and renowned businessman, infamous around the city and, according to several unaccounted rumours, a suspected honorary member of the Mafia. The dry monotone narration included snippets of quotes from the police, including one that stated the assumed reason for the crime was that Christine’s deceased father supposedly owed Thomas a huge sum of debt and she was not able to pay it under the given deadline, and they failed to talk it out and settle on a peaceful negotiation, instead getting on each others’ nerves and having a fallout.

Forensics estimated that she had been dead for about five hours before she was found. She was instantly killed by a bullet that entered her frontal cranium, passed through her brain, and exited the back of her head, at about 11:30 PM on Sunday. The suspect was found also dead inside Good Joe’s Diner in 6th Avenue, leaning against a wall, with a broken jaw, a .45 gun clutched limply in his left hand, and a bullet in his head. Several reliable witnesses attested that it was suicide, carried out by Thomas in a fit of madness after rousing into consciousness, only several moments after the anonymous man who broke his jaw fled from the scene.

Detectives interviewed all the scant customers and the shaken barkeep thoroughly. The barkeep, who was brought in for further questioning, recalled an unknown grey-suited man coming inside for some coffee, slamming his fist on his “preshu’s mahog’ny an’ marble count’er”, and singing rather horribly. He also gave the whole story of the incident, starting with Thomas entering the premises, pulling out a gun, the anonymous man punching Thomas in the face, Thomas falling unconscious, and the man paying for his drink before running away. He also conjured up some other distorted hazy recollections of “sumthin’ ’bout ‘e cigarette ‘er ‘e black dress, I t’ink, I ain’t sher”, and nothing more.

~*~

6:00 AM. A lone unnoticed figure was lingering around the recently-discovered crime scene, hunched behind a corner, a burning cigarette dangling loosely from the side of his cracked lips, peeking out by the side of the wall occasionally.

He silently watched and smoked from afar as the police worked at the cul-de-sac, taking notes, searching for further evidence, poking and prodding and taking photos of Christine’s cold lifeless body before carrying her away in a gurney unceremoniously. After several minutes of staring blankly, he finally managed to tear his eyes away from the grotesque scene, and, blowing smoke from out his nostrils, gazed down melancholically at the muddy tarnished golden ring that he was clutching in his hand.

Words failed to find themselves in his tongue, and he stood there silently, contemplating, assessing the ring with utmost concentration like a pawnbroker, until he managed to conjure up what he thought was a decent farewell.

“Well, I may not have saved your life…but I sure damn well avenged you. I reckon that’s enough.”

“Don’t you come waitin’ for me now.” He said, and with those final parting words, he dropped the cigarette and stepped on it, stuffed the ring carefully into his trenchcoat pocket, tipped back his trilby hat ever so slightly, and slowly walked onto the taut horizon’s languidly rising sunlight, peeking out from under the gloom, the faint intrusive police lights dissipating into the cool wind, a faint giggling voice—husky and sweet like soft cream dissolving in hot coffee—echoing at the back of his mind, and his quiet voice mournfully whistling out the last coda of Sinatra’s Fly Me To The Moon.

“In other words, please be true—In other words…I love you.”

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I wanna be the tattoo ink that swims down through the needle in your skin

I wish I was poisonous
Like a bottomless sound
Like a violent drug
Do you remember the knife I kept?
The sharper it got, the more
You wanted me to use it…

~*~

The night sings in slow motion, a stagnant riot of a melancholy latin church chorus resonating past the intricate stained glass windows, the flourishing finale guitar lick of a spanish melody that makes one’s heart leap past the curtains of complete composure. It was a rare opportunity to pause from life and a welcoming silence to embrace, and I was taciturn and brooding as I rested leisurely by the window ledge, smoking a Cuban cigar and contemplating panoply discussions rather thoughtfully. The breeze pushed past my weaning figure roughly like an impatient passerby, and for a moment, I appeared to teeter like a child on a seesaw, yet the fall at the other end never arrives to weigh down and elevate me back into several tangible seconds of an innocent bliss. There was no avoirdupois balance to bring my poised dangling toes back to touching the soft cool earth, apart from my own sanity, which always felt to me as gossamer as Arachne’s bone-white sumptuous silken hair.

And that’s all it takes for me to fall.

You weren’t there. You were never there. Last night you awoke in a disgusting bathroom stall on the underground tube, heaving your guts out to the non-too-catchy tune of the robotic announcer’s grumbles of ″Mind the gap.″ blaring through ancient dusty static speakers. Today you clutched a lock of your chewed trichobezoar hair along with a half-full bottle of Smirnoff and fell asleep under the kitchen table, next to the cupboards containing the jar of my uningested sleeping pills and your used ammonia and muriatic acid. But I was there. I was always there. I was the one who drove all night to find you and ran through four red lights to get you to the emergency room, and I was the one who spent several nights in a filthy cell at the police precinct, and paid in cash for both hospital bill and bail alike. Tonight, I’m the one who delicately carried you up a flight of spiral stairs and tucked you in meticulously on the cool bed that I fixed, and cleaned up the mess you made on the checkered linoleum tiles downstairs. You wrecked, I repaired. We cancelled each other out.

Just another usual midnight scene in this household.

I took a long drag and blew a sophisticated whorl of hazy plumes in spiced smoke, as the stars behind their screen of fumes appeared to shimmer a faltering skeletal grey, like a waning spectral hallucination. I always pondered dear, why our tongues, once a tangled and byzantine affair wherewithal, akin to the finest spool of golden thread, are now mondegreen against silver blades, screeching as it collides with the other, unpleasant and tinnitus-inducing. I was a halcyon sun. You were a hedonistic black hole. Prayers against passion, felicity to furtive, love over lust, gambol or glamour, inspiring despotically versus indulging decadently. It was always imbrications of forbearance, an insalubrious provocation of two people on the opposite side of the boxing ring, fists clenched, knuckles raised, prepared to throw the first punch with a ring of the bell. I wondered why I was so attracted to a dangerous force. I wonder now if I am a magnet, repelled by the same force, gravitating towards my polar opposite, difficult to leave once it pulls me into its charms and mysterious allures.

…No more shall I be fettered to you.

With a lassitude I wasn’t quite aware I possessed, I senselessly bit down on the tattoo of your flowery name embedded into my dermis, tearing with crooked dull stares onto the unflinching moon and gnashed dull teeth tearing numbly at the surface. I kept at the insane task until all that’s left are rancid shreds of muscle and skin, a rusty stormed bleeding out of oxidised scarlet dissolving against indelible black, the wound gaping wide like a mouth frozen in a scream. I didn’t flinch nor whimper, neither yelled nor reacted, throughout the immense pain of it all. I may have cried, but only because the winds were getting pervasive against my trophy eyes, and every droplet of tears that fell on the raw savaged cut stung badly like the astringent words you slurred to me before you passed out. With every bite I tore out of my maimed arm, it felt like an absolution, the atonement of your sins on my understudy role. My redolence was always an envious fragrance, but somehow your alcohol breath and sultry sweat manages to linger chokingly, stubbornly sticking in my skin like this godforsaken tattoo. It was all for you, all for you and more, do you understand?

But not everything is permanent, sweetheart. Not this night, not your name writ in pain…not my blinded sentiments for you.

I finally ceased with my thermonuclear breakdown, quit rending myself apart, physically and emotionally-wise. It was no use, yet I felt strangely cathartic. The effect was a chill down my spine that jolted lightning and candy-coloured breaths through my frosted oxygen, a shudder of a bittersweet one-night stand under the deathless Vegas lights, a morbid fascination of an angel standing solemnly in the morgue. The searing pain began to settle tauntingly in my tattered nerves, and it seethed as I wiped the blood off my lips, quite familiar to the taste of it all, reverting the vibrant colour of my mouth into its usual sickly pale pallor, creating an eerie Rorschach test of a splattered heart imprinted on my ivory-washed sleeves. These wounds I inflicted on myself shall heal. This ragged white shirt you bought for me on my birthday two years ago, I can drown in chlorine and detergent to get rid of the stains. The scar tissue that will be left, I can learn to tolerate, to ignore, to simply accept and live with. I am, at the best of the optimistic prospects despite my elsewhere wayward actions, free.

So why does the thought of you still fucking hurt?

But no. You were still resting in my bed, corporeal and very much concatenated to reality, and I can’t erase you like I did so to your inked name ever so brutally. You looked so goddamn beautiful as you slept through everything cozily, soundly dreaming of a million raining halo lights of neon glow in oblivion; and I was bloodied, jaded, and sunken as I watched the remaining shards of my waxen mutilated skin flutter downwards like grotesque snowflakes in dessication. I leaned in closer for a better view, almost losing my hold on the ledge and falling, as the scintilla pieces of a fractal violence and shorn sadism began billowing downwards elegantly and dispersed murmurously into the open salty breeze. Soon it shall waft out and travel farther than I’ve ever been, to a faraway fantasy land where some foolish child will stick their quivering tongue out and catch the puzzle pieces of the letters of your name between their grinning teeth, a poetic crassness. Fragments of you, that’s all that remains.

And that’s all that’s sempiternal.

~*~

I was lying to you
But you were lying too
So what’s left to do, what’s left to say?
Stop making friends, just us
I’ll decompose with you…

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See Jane

Jane was taught many things throughout the course of her life. Jane was taught to be a good girl to mummy and daddy. Jane was taught to say her prayers and obey what she was told to do. Jane was taught to clean herself up and clean up after herself. Jane was taught to do her straight auburn hair up in ribbons and pigtails, polish her red maryjane shoes into a dazzling shine, and wear her best cotton pastel dresses. Jane was taught to walk with proper posture, smile gracefully, speak in a soft feminine voice, and to go about with tasks in an elegant finesse. Jane was taught to learn her academic lessons well at the private all-girls catholic school she was attending, and as well as her weekly lessons about faith and God at Sunday class in the town church. Jane was taught not to play too roughly, never to join the bad flock of black sheep, and to generally stay out of trouble. Jane was taught to be polite, friendly, amiable, and to be approachable and presentable. Simply put, Jane was trained to be a perfect girl, and she was taught to love it.

What was wrong with Jane?

Jane was the epitome of nice. Jane was the classic textbook example of the girl next door; charming, demure, a bonny maiden with a beautiful appearance and personality, living a scripted, sterile, storybook suburban life. Jane was a starchild, excelling in everything and anything, always at her best. Jane was sociable, had lots of friends and could easily make new acquaintances. In the morning, among the company of people, she was quite pleasant, a darling sweetheart in the glossed-over, uncrutinising eyes of the faceless neighbours. See Jane greet. See Jane traipse. See Jane dance. See Jane laugh. See Jane wave. See Jane smile. See Jane happy. But alas, that was the full extent of their limited perception. To them, Jane could be summed up in positive words less than three syllables long. They could never see the actual Jane, dark and complicated. They couldn’t glare past the cracks of the well-practised façade, and take a gander at the real version that’s not made of plastic skin and porcelain eyes, refusing to see the truth of the perfect girl that barely sleeps at night. See Jane depressed. See Jane grit her teeth. See Jane scream. See Jane self-harm. See Jane feel empty. See Jane strut mechanically. See Jane do drugs. See Jane muffle her crying on her pillow. See Jane as a complete fucking mess.

What was wrong with Jane?

Jane was taught many things in the course of her short life. Be this, be that, don’t do this, don’t do that, Jane never learned to think for herself. Simply put, Jane was brainwashed to be the perfect girl, and she absolutely hated it. In the end, it was not Jane with the fault, she was only the innocent victim. Rather, it was her guardians, her teachers, who missed a crucial lesson that might have saved Jane from self destruction. For Jane was only taught to exist, but she was never taught to live. Teeming alongside the controversy now, the very same life enveloping death that the multitudinous attendees are currently buzzing with. The haughty crowd, all clad in black garb, then proceeds to judge Jane with whispered huffs, gossiping under thin walls and blabbering behind paper fans hatefully, shaking their heads condescendingly with a chorus of tsk-tsk’s, saying stories and telling tall tales about how Jane was such an amazing girl, it’s such a waste Jane had to go this way, Jane always seemed cheerful and no one ever saw it coming, I remember that one time Jane…, Jane will be missed, nothing but senseless argot and unapologetic bereavement. Today, everyone mourned. But today, everyone also saw an accurate glimpse of Jane for the first time, and unfortunately, for the very last.

See Jane die.

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Cosmic Band-Aids

The coalescing Seattle twilight was an interplaying illusion of dusk and haze, warm colours replacing the pastel skylines, only to be painted over by the deep indigo eventide. The local rustic town café was already closing up, and they barely had time to finish the last bites of their chocolate bonbons and sip the remaining drops of their hazelnut vanilla frappé, before the intermittent barista ushered them out—quite literally, with a tremulous hand and an apologetic jilted demeanour. Now they stood outside the establishment in introspective reverie, dimmed bronze sodium streetlight the only solitary light source that resiliently pierced through the caliginous melancholy.

She was a blushing rose, liquid and pale, every infinitesimal detail somehow magnified to be remarkably interesting. Fragrance of baby’s breath and frankincense, posture of a regal and sophisticated monarch, delicate face as that of an angel’s glimpse of paradise, personality of an intricate vintage lock and a million exploding suns. Her companion, admittedly, was a person of less enigma, yet was still a character of significance, an oakwood branch, roughly-hewn and intense, simple yet charismatic. That svelte and cheeky-looking fellow had untidy coffee-tint hair, a discursive ironic smirk, an insouciant slouch, and a steely glint that, more often than not, signalled trouble.

As the fog and the regent shadows further intensified, the pauses and discomfited silence between them further attenuated. Moments passed. Her candyfloss-pink sundress fluttered like a jaded butterfly as she tucked a frayed bookmark behind her seashell ear, and her taciturn companion watched her intently, like an engrossed pawnbroker. Without permission, he began to remove his worn tan overcoat and gingerly placed the article over her cool shoulders, still warm and cosy by his own body heat. Flustered by the uncalled attention, she turned away to brush a stray raven hair back into her gossamer tufted bun, and lost grip of her book of poems, fragile pages yellowed and dogeared with age. Sylvia Plath’s ancient anthology dropped with a soft thump right side up, opening uncannily on the centre page containing Mad Girl’s Love Song, and both bent down and fumbled clumsily to pick it up in haste.

Fingers tangled. Glances exchanged. Blue eyes collided with green. Hands clenched. Throats choked. Hearts skipped. Breaths hitched. Souls shattered. Their blueberry-strawberry swirl ice cream melted absently like calligraphy on the pavement. The book now lay abandoned and forgotten, its unspoken poetry dancing alongside the breeze. No words were whispered. None were necessary. Overhead, the last of the brimstone shades faded away, and incandescent stars splashed the darkness of the falling sky. Below, firework eyes showered sparks, and skins intertwined. Witnessing it all, hiding behind the wisps of pewter clouds and overlooking the nocturnal planet, the glowing moon quaintly smiled.

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Incarcerated

He was tired of everything. He was trapped in a hellish predicament, and he was sickened ad nauseam by being abused by wardens and inmates alike. Today, he was once again thrown into a riot at the cafeteria, stumbling out with a split lip, a sprained arm, and bodily aches all over. But then again, he also managed to pickpocket one of the security guards and smuggle something into his cell, hiding it under his soiled pillow, so the pain didn’t matter anymore. Now, his prize rested patiently within his hands; bullets loaded, safety lock off, muzzle glinting mischievously. His fate was set. It was the first sound he heard, the sound that got him into this shithole, and it would be the last sound he would hear, the sound that will absolve him of all his tribulations. He shut his eyes. His fingers twitched. He pulled the trigger.

BANG.

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Mütter

This hasn’t been your year. Matter of fact, not a single year in your forty plus years of living, minus a several tenths for when we didn’t exist yet, has been quite too fulfilling. And understandably, it’s been a rough ride. You’ve been flying this journey Lindbergh solo for five years and counting now, and you weren’t always locked and loaded, and the machinery was not always all systems go, and the weather was not always clear. We’ve been ungrateful bastards who act like sweet-smelling pink roses intertwining around you with pretty innocent smiles, and then we bury our lacerating thorns deep in your steel-plated chest until we hit flesh and you bleed. We’re irresponsible lazy creatures, we get that, we refuse the simplest of chores, saying no to refilling the water bottles after downing the entire one litre liquid in one gulp, or slam dunking our filthy dishes in the overflowing sink and then denying appraisal over doing the washing-up. We grate on your nerves at the worst time when they’re already stretched to their limits, and we pull at them until you snap. We’ve been disappointing and apathetic, and you can only scream and reprimand so much before your worn-out voice and the fingers you crossed breaks. We’re no good, and vexingly frustrating, and annoyingly juvenile, and seemingly hopeless and futile…just like any other stupid nose-picking kid out there who needs guidance and care in the gentle yet sturdy hands of a parent. You simply wanted the best for the worst, and some due indemnity and pride, and to set your wayward children on the proper path, not into the ocean horizon to drown in sovereign failure, but onwards beyond the sunset to discover the way and amass all the lights in the sky. Someday, that’s a promise to be fulfilled. But for now, we remain your stupid bumbling companions, building bridges to last longer than London Bridge and making memories on a photo album (or selfies, as the cool millennials say or whatever, since you seem to be more connected with my generation than I can ever be). I feel faintly terrible that after all that you did for us, for me alone, I wasn’t able to get you anything decently celebratory or did anything to make this one hell of a day, except for a greeting card written with a dying marker on used tissue that says ‘congration you done it’, an IOU written on paper ripped off carelessly on the side of a notebook that entitled you to an entire day of my silence (valid on May 14, 2017 only), and doing the aforementioned chores which I should be doing on a daily regular basis anyhow, so I can only offer with what I do best—getting drunk. Oh no wait, that’s a different thing innit, that’s rubbish. I meant to say writing (although the best is not even good, to be bluntly frank). You out of all people needed a cheer upper and a break, and I out of all people should be the one giving you such things. So, here it is. And despite you begrudgingly commenting it several times today, no, the universe does not always conspire against you. Sometimes it’s me who does.

I took the time to write all this down because (besides the fact that I am equal amounts bored and sleep-deprived, which is like 95% of the time, but whatever) despite all the bickering arguments and thermonuclear meltdowns and endless disputes we’ve rivalled against, we’ve also had amusing stories and extraordinary journeys together and silly banter over cups of freshly brewed coffee, and I would like you to know that there’s still someone who cares, that this anxiety-ridden, book hoarding, show obsessing, loud satanic music blasting, three AM screaming, rebellious blue-haired loser with the problem child attitude, a death stare and eyebags thicker than Billie Joe Armstrong and Gerard Way’s eyeliner combined, the general behaviour of a mental patient diagnosed with schizophrenia and severe ADHD, and having the irritating tendency to not reply unlike a complete rhetorical sarcastic twat without getting allergic to formalities, is, insert dramatic Psycho violin chord here, surprise surprise! A sentient being capable of being a sappy little bitch (you may proceed to gasp and wipe away your tears with my greeting card after scolding me for using an expletive). My particular thorn in question is a raging problem that has left a scar tissue in your heart more times than the other roses you’ve cultivated, and still you don’t water my roots with poison laden concoction and shear my stem off ruthlessly with my own disturbing scissor collection to off me and get rid of the nuisance; instead, you spritz my face with more fertiliser, tentatively remove the weeds that stunt my development as it chokes me, and you help me continue to grow. I’m beginning to stop making sense here, and this is getting too sentimentally personal, and you would most likely whale on me the next morning for staying up late because we have to go to school tomorrow to clean up or some crap, so I’m very sorry for all my tribulations and for a million sins (yes, the fact that I decided to tactlessly blast out Mama on full loudspeakers on such a particular day included, whoops), and a thank you, more genuine than pirate gold and your signatures in the excuse letters I forged, for being here all the while and being a total headstrong badass about it. Okay, no, I can’t say the god forbidding L word yet *shudders*, but maybe I’ll save that for a later, less awkward prospect (what is with all the excessive L words in that sentence though?!). Here’s me paying my side of the dice. Thank you for everything and a gazillion virtues, and then some.

Happy mother’s day.

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Stargirl and the Rocket Lights

You are a curiosity, or a mental case, as some called it rather crudely and dismissively, and you knew everyone noticed. But they didn’t care, and neither should you. One day, you impulsively proclaimed, whilst balancing on the top of a redwood tree branch, that disappearing acts never got old, so you said goodbye to your squirrel friend, clambered down the tree hurriedly, and dashed home. You burst into your room with a loud door slam, gathered up your paraphernalia, grabbed your half-full rucksack dotted with strange pins and souvenir keychains, which was patiently waiting by your ramshackle oakwood cabinet, and began haphazardly shoving various motley things inside. Once you were finished cleaning up and made even more of a mess in the process, you quickly plastered a teddy bear print band-aid on your cheek from where the rough wood accidentally scratched and left a thin red mark, clumsily tied your DIY pinstriped Keds’ purple and green shoelaces, stretched out—as if competing in a marathon—on an abandoned Twister board on your carpeted floor, and finally you left the house, chasing your dissolution without so much as a backward glance. The first part was easy. The next part was easier.

The nightwalking horizon was tinted virtually the same colour as your ripped stonewashed denim overalls, the reticulated stars were in implausible full burst and clearly visible, a myriad riot like the splattered black inkstains on your bohemian tie-dyed shirt, and the moon was shaded exactly and uncannily like your ivory silk flower leggings, the number of the craters perfectly aligned with the number of the frayed holes by your knees, the ones you tore yourself with zigzag safety scissors. The dreamy air tasted faintly like bubblegum ice cream, and the astral bodies were softly clicking into their designated places, a marvellous tableaux of God’s fanciful ethereal jigsaw puzzle. Nothing more was to be prepared; all you had to do was pass against the serendipitous turn of time. That particular task in itself was no difficult feat for your whimsical affinity. The other factor to consider was your destination. Invariably, it didn’t matter which bus you got on, if you were even waiting for a bus at all, for you have an overpowering ominous sensation within your heart that you’ll always inevitably end up on a wayward road, diverging on the intersection to nowhere. And in your own quote unquote words, as that one cliché that nobody says goes, signal for the universe and the galaxy will come.

Your vintage analogue Hello Kitty clock ticked sluggishly second by second, and the small candy floss pink lights by the side came to life and began to glow fervently as the hands struck exactly 8 PM. You had a lot of time to spend thereon and then, sitting prim and taciturn on the graffitied wooden bench, waiting for the longest forever. You intertwined scarlet camellias on your plaited geranium hair and held it in place with a gargantuan leopard-print scrunchie. You tapped your hands, plucked a few sweet and sour notes on your marmalade-orange ukulele, and hummed a Joy Division song melodically, and you laughed quietly when you flubbed the chorus with a splintered squeak. You counted the cheap glittery stars you stuck on your plastic journal even though you knew the number by heart, some microscopic yellow speckles transferring to your skin as you absentmindedly peeled one at the side with a polkadotted fingernail. You scribbled lines of guitar keys, and doodled literal intricate keys without paired locks, onto the slightly-torn cover page with a blueblooded space pen, and used the same pen to trace the wiry butterfly outline on your right ankle. You observed with childish wonder and twinkling heterochromatic dandelion eyes as prams, automobiles, taxis, and tallyho’s passed by you in an amicable whirlwind breeze and friendly engine revving. There were a billion tangible stars in this side of the dimension, just a little more than the glamorous stars shining on your notebook, and you can pluck each and every single one off their orbit. You had a lot of fun little preoccupations, and the time on your hands seemed almost eternal.

Time was up. When it seemed like the aberrant clocks hitched their breaths and you’ve done a thousand and one tasks to fill such a lacuna, finally, Hello Kitty’s spinning hour hand gingerly moved into its designated place. The moment it touched the notch and exactly as the pink lights began their little show, you tilted your chin until it was higher than your freckled button nose, and stared enthusiastically at the empty tranquil sky. As if on cue, your implausible carpool vehicle hurtled imperceptibly from beneath the atmosphere, burning the crepuscular firmament’s concrete shadows at light-year speed, and arrived with a dissuaded thump, to take you away from such a bland and diluted planet. Tucking a stray highlighted neon hair back in your pierced and heavily-ornamented ears, you cautiously replaced the overflowing tatterdemalion notebook back in your bag, bounced on your heels and stood up with lilting sneakered toes, and ceremoniously stepped into that rocketship invention calmly, without any nuance of surprise or astonishment. It seemed you would simply walk straight and be swallowed whole by the blinding flash, but at the last moment, you turned back at the dominating darkness and sent a quaint, fragile, almost palpable air-kiss flying from your painted ruby lips and painted dainty fingers onto the open space. The entire population of the world must have felt a faint zephyr graze their cheek softly at that very moment, but they were too naïve to even bother with noticing it. Yet you said your polite goodbyes, so it didn’t matter. You grandiosely waved a final farewell, the tattooed patterns on your arms spinning and dancing with pastel motion, and you smiled lazily, quite cryptically, as the metallic-gold doors closed in dénouement with a sibilant hiss and a burst of flourishing steam. The metaphysical vessel roared as it propelled into ignition again, shooting up into the sky immediately and billowing into evanescence out of peripheral view, and you were gone with it. Your wish was granted, and you permanently left behind the life you always tolerated with distaste, into a more interesting place with a better yesterday, and no one cared…except for one.

Stargirl, when you ran away and stole the cornflower moon with you from the midnight sky to elope, did you think no one would be interested? When you vanished and charmingly serenaded the sun into a retrograde motion, did you think no one would find out? Did you ever think, for a single heartbeat, that when your star, hiding in plan sight among millions of the other specks in the star-freckled sky, was quietly extinguished, I wouldn’t even notice?

I out of all people would hate to admit such a fact, but for once in your extraordinary yet ephemeral existence, Stargirl, you were wrong.

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Filed under Prose