She was there first, she beat the waves. Her hand brushed the rough, splintered wood of the beachside rails before the urge of Poseidon crashed against ragged, stubborn rocks tamed by weather. The conflict roared and tumbled into a froth of old selves in sediments. Her sentiments? Untouched, her hand merely smarted as she continued her faithful watch.
In a distance, the sky and sea felt obliged to fulfill clichés and merged together in song, a tune without words but could still be sang, stuck at the regular beats of water against earth like a catchy tune’s persistent grasp upon civilization. She felt obliged to be moved by the ocean’s persistence, but cynic’s eyes read only ignorance appeased temporarily by the justification of God’s design.
The next wave crashed; she did not realize how slow the wave was or how fast her mind raced. Only then did she notice the way the seas bury the sanded reefs with such deliberation. A deep draw of breath as though it finally understood the magnitude of the downward strike — should I? Can I? — before bringing it all down in a fatal bloom.
Drama, she scoffed, before lifting her chin off the wooden rails and tore herself from the scene, all in Gaia’s two heartbeats.
The air stank of cut grass and the fumes belonging to the author of the stench. ‘Tis the smell of uniformity, the blood of rebels who dared to outgrow the concrete bonds of humanity.
I tried to focus on the cracks on the floor, stretching across each rectangle aiming my steps beyond those lives to test my stubby little legs that carried me on, weaving in and out of sleepy high schoolers hogging the majority of the width of the sidewalk in a line of chattering friendship. The wind tried to chatter to me, but I needed coffee to maintain an intelligible conversation. I prefer to seek my silence, tainted by random blurbs of others’ words.
It’s not eavesdropping if I am not deliberately trying to get information, right? In fact, I merely chanced upon the conversation.
That teacher did it again! Everyone got C’s. She got asked to prom, they datin’. He called her, they hung out. Drunk? Nah, they higher than her grades. Did you see what she was wearing that day?
A cop yelled into his megaphone: helmets are more useful when they are on your head. A kid was grateful, for we would all choose a savage comment over a hundreds-dollar ticket.
The light turned green, the seconds began to trickle down. I walked between the white stripes wondering what of this will I miss and I looked down at the cracks upon the brick sidewalks. A hint of leaves reached out and said hi.
I saw your daring brilliance that morn’, shortly after the rain. God cried in my place and I thought I would hike a mountain to pretend that the elevation would bring me closer to Him, Her, It…? They, now that’s a more progressive term to appease my soul tainted by liberal rhetoric.
But political turmoil was shoved to the back of my mind that morn’, for my heart was a drama queen and my brain an ancient cynic too blinded by its devotion to logic to know whatever blubber of reasoning only gives the heart more woes to weep over.
So I distract myself, marveling alongside my mother the Renaissance of wild grass and flowers the seasons and rain and dew wrought forth in a Monet of lights and greens and warmth. Then I saw, amongst the dust yellow roads the splotches that are no rocks, but crawling or dead. What a scene I’ve never seen! What seems to be a battleground, a massacre, hope and life crushed but twitched incessantly. The raindrops drumming against the dusty roads were the heartbeat of the war, and trapped by the treachery of their enemies the snails had dragged their trails of slimy mud to the middle of the road. Some crossed, it seemed, their later comrades took formation.
Then the men came, carelessly breaking, crushing whatever their feet landed upon. I flinched at every crunch, every splatter of remains. How did you persevere? You tugging at your burdens and pulling alone, alongside me. So, I paused my hike to look at you, admiring, reminded of love.
I thought I was done being vulnerable. That if I pull up a GDocs and fill it with writing that I can pretend that I’m proud of, hiding metaphors and symbols and allusions that all points to…you, I will be distracted from the problem.
Yet from the corner of my eyes, amongst the sea of disorganized tabs, I saw the flash of movement. My naive heart thought itself a lioness, tugged at my brain to click it, to see it, to read all that you have to say. A question about homework, probably, or about that club or this. I can pretend you merely give small talks to most people, I can pretend that I don’t miss those conversations when you are being vulnerably philosophical.
I can pretend to be indifferent.
Can I? So I add “lmao”s and “lel”s in my sentences to pretend that I don’t delete and type and delete and type again just to give an adequate response. I stop reading because there are simply too many hopes I knew false. Songs not meant to be. Do I cry to God or Cupid, since the former I don’t want to trifle with such a trivial thing and the latter I envy for his love immortalized by marble and artistry on display?
While I have no apt artistry or pedestal I will still display on the small stage that is this screen, since if I am never going to be done being vulnerable I might as well get used to it.
She rises early from bed, for those in her profession needs to seize the day before it breaks. Dressed, washed, ate and drew from the most meager tasks. She put too much water with the coffee this morning, so her mind and nose had to work to convince her tongue that it was not completely tasteless.
Then she got to work. From the world she collected things deemed worthless, yet she thought could be the limbs, the facade, or the torso of her creations. So she smelt her iron the fiery pits of her personal hell, the self-doubts, the questions, stripping the worldly things away until she looked only at her own soul. The holy water of companionship quenched the heat, allowing time for thoughts to liquify in the hiss of cooling metals, translated onto a mold, a page.
She had no hammer, but a pen will do, to carve with carrot marks or slashes. A shape to be found. A keyboard to refine the final thoughts.
And here, you read, the sculpture stands.
My mouth and nostrils burnt: the former from coffee and the latter from air occupied by too many people (plus a caged cat) and too little space. But this wasn’t bad, most of the times it’s been worse, and my mother was already thoroughly impressed by the efficiency and professionalism of the flight attendants.
This was a much shorter flight than I am accustomed to, anyhow. And being a high school senior — whose occupation of being a student of learning has been replaced by a brief period of false freedom, soul-searching, and sorrows or satisfaction, or both — my job is to find the most logical and jaded explanation to all that is good.
“Less people and distance, smaller plane,” These are the important segments one can excavate from my Chinglish. “More order. Entropy is pissed.”
But, now that I sat in one of the rows of three seats, serving dutifully as the divider between my mother and a young white stranger girl married to her phone, my eyes cannot help but wander as my mind wondered. The cat meowed, I disliked the sound because not only does it destroy the parallel I was going to make with Schrodinger’s cat (a dead cat doesn’t meow, duh) and the uncertainty of my future that made this trip in the first place, but also it tempted me to throw myself in that general direction to pet the thing.
So instead of mourning the death of my parallel, I chose to study heads instead: there were so many of them, bald and brunette and blonde and black and bristled, some alliterated combinations. If I just sit up straight my 5’2″ height allows me view of enough variety for me to imagine.
I imagined if these people would turn around if I start sobbing like I used to on airplanes since I didn’t want to leave my dearly beloved country. Perhaps they would react better if I just throw myself in the general direction of the meowing. Then I got distracted by the shiny handle holding the drop down table immediately before me, the grey plastic surrounding it had battle scars telling of past passenger’s anger issues or mere carelessness.
Then I started questioning myself: since when had I become numbed by the horrifying prospect of stuffing myself amongst hundreds of others onto a gravity-defying (or manipulating, whichever sounds more scientific to you…perhaps neither) machine that launches us thousands of feet into the air at speeds unsalvageable? Maybe at around the same time I started filling my writing with long-winded rhetorical questions? That could be it. Despite the lack of merit in long-winded speech — understanding that “brevity is the soul of wit” — it does take some proficiency in the language used. The growth of the proficiency of my English is directly proportional to my departure from missing Taiwan. It’s been a long enough time that I don’t look upon the sun or the moon to comfort myself in that the little tropical island is basked in the same shower of radiation, or that it’s phased by the same reflection of the former radiation.
I yawned, tired of sentimental recollections, and directed my energy to the bald head before me. It’s not nearly as shiny as the handle holding the tables, and it’s dressed in patterns and dents and a few scabs disguised as moles, or vice-versa.
Goddammit, its craters just reminded me of the moon.
So, back to sentiments I sank, interrupted by spurts of panic about the weather in Baltimore and whether if I know how to deal with a transfer flight and if Pittsburgh is going to be as intimidating as any city that I’ve never been to.
The cat meowed to defy uncertainty.
Now I am ready to confront love. What is it but the hue so dreamy, framed by lights and lack of light to complete each delicate petal?
The outermost petal threatened to fall, my muse drifted in the wind, hanging by a tangent. Despite the tug and pull, the hopes and hurts, I know the outer shells would go only when the most tender heart is ready to face the world.
My love is also a rose that time my curse, though opposite: for when the last petal struck the floor I shall be liberated, strengthened since even the unrequited pains cannot quiver in the wind and is no more.