The Girl

She had a monster, and he agreed to tame it.

He heard the door ring and knew it was her and opened the door. His sister showered him in thanks, made promises of her child’s angelic qualities, hugged said child, hugged him, and was gone.

“So, it’s just the two of us,” Only several hours, but he grumbled to himself. “Stop staring and get your ass in here.”

The little girl blinked at the harsh tone of voice, glared at the language by narrowing her large almond eyes, a splitting image of the mother that just left. “A true gentleman invites his guest into his household.”

Ah, it’s been a while since he’s heard that tongue he hated; so he turned, left the door ajar and her with the decision to follow suit or not, “That was an invitation, enough,” He added. “And, I am no gentleman.”

She pouted.

****

She evolved. It only took a month.

“Uncle, uncle,” She would call in her sweet voice, musical like her father’s. “What are you doing?” Her small chin would then place itself upon the edge of his table, her small hands grabbing the sides to see.

“Work,” He grunted just beyond the patter of keyboard. “Go and finish destroying my living room, please.”

For a six years old, she was quick to catch on sarcasm, “I didn’t destroy it last time, it was just…furnishing.”

“Wow, ‘furnishing,’” He angled his laptop just enough to meet her demanding gaze. “Such a big word. Do you even know what it means?”

“Of course!”

“Well, the random paint splatters don’t seem to agree.”

“The walls were too boring!” She crossed her short arms. “Just like you.”

“Oh, too bad that this boring uncle was going to take you out for ice cream, but since you think it so boring — ”

“ — Yay, ice cream!” As she dashed out of the room, presumably to get her purple boots even though it was the middle of summer, he couldn’t help but smile.

But that simple exercise stung, smiling took too much and he just opted to press the knots in his back and hand.

****

“What’s your favorite color?”

“Don’t have one.”

“Why?”

He regretted his honesty, didn’t think that would call for even more questioning. “Don’t really have time for that kind of things?”

“Then what do you have time for?”

He opened his mouth to speak, the hand in his doesn’t seem so small all the sudden.

He wanted to snap, “Walking annoying children across the street to sight see,” but blurted instead, “You.”

It’s the same thing, same idea, he just didn’t want to waste that many words on her, that’s all. She smiled and pointed at another fluffy puppy.

****

Her condition made her older than her age. She knew she was special, that she was born with too much power, that her existence was unusual.

“Mommy said she named me after a bright star,” The girl was proud, musing in childish existentialism wrapped in blankets, staring at the stars hiding behind storm clouds and flashes of lightning. “If I die, I can be a supernova.”

“You won’t die,” His voice demanded no argument, though the words were nothing that he expected to pair with a cup of chocolate as he handed her her own mug. “I will make sure of it.”

She whispered a small thank you, snuggled with her blanket until that was insufficient and she went to him, stared at him a little before demanding a warm hug and fell asleep in his arms.

****

He knew all would come to an end, eventually. As he watched the girl levitating his living room’s sparse decor with the latest spell he taught her — also to be his latest regret — he caught himself beaming idiotically with stupid pride. He was grinning stupidly, and it was less painful now, he scoffed at himself, continued reading.

“Uncle, uncle!” She sounded far, probably strayed away to the dining room to steal some cookies on his unawares. “Uncle!”

The last call was too shrill to be playful, and he shot out of his seat to her in a panicked tumble, tripped on a dangerous chair and slipped on coloring pencils. God, his apartment was turning into a kindergarten, he forgot fear like this until now.

She curled into a little ball on the kitchen floor, a shattered jar of cookies next to her. She used her spell, he guessed, and that was the limit. So small, sobbing, he lulled her in his arms and convinced her that all was just a well-timed shadow, an imagined face she often pointed out within the tiles or towels and no ghosts plagued her mind.

“They said such horrible things,” The tears washed his shirt. “They were here.”

He knew this day would come, and that her visits were all for this day, anyway. Only a couple of months, a child take so little time to trust and attach. So, she, too, will forget. He, again, would live but be forgotten; but, he learned to smile and that was enough, “Forget, then, my sweet star. Sleep and dream, for the nightmares would be gone when you wake and see.”

And so she closed her bright, teary eyes, dreamed.

****

“So, you’ve done it?”

“Sealed her powers, and she should be fine as long as she doesn’t remember.”

“I cannot express my thanks.”

Nor can I, he watched the woman turning to her love, who carried the sleeping child in a careful cradle. They paid their respects, but he was simply paying his dues. They left just like the way they came, silent.

He was left, again, just like the way before, silent, though the corner of his mouth curled rebelliously.

Fireworks

He didn’t use to like it, the forceful explosions of colorful flames were but yet another science phenomenon coinciding with human standards of beauty. What’s so exciting about polluting the world with smog and noise and litters of food wrappers and cans and frightened pets running astray?

But, this year is different.

As he found himself perched upon a blanket too colorful for his usual palette surrounded by a crowd too plentiful for his preference, he didn’t notice the two extremities, but a third: the head resting at his shoulder was too heavy, too casual, too smitten. And when he protested, the lazy voice merely pointed out that no one would see much in the dark before resuming the light nap as they continued to wait for the spectacle.

“We could’ve seen the fireworks perfectly fine from the window,” He wasn’t letting this go, the purpose of pointlessly subjecting themselves to the torment of impending traffic was beyond lost to him.

“But, you hardly go out besides for work,” A purr, a smile; he could not help but smile, too, despite his irritations. “The festive air is a nice change of pace.”

He wanted to point out the third red baseball hat he read today and his dislike for jingoes, but thought better and allowed himself to indulge in the weight that has now invaded a good half of him, found its usual place in his arm, “What’s the point of bringing cushions if you are just going to sit on me, anyway?”

The pretense of innocence that pouted at him made him chuckle, “I just thought you would feel less left out if I brought my cushion, too.”

As though attuned to a natural pause of their conversation, an announcement shushed then riled up the crowd, dimming the stadium lights as cheap speakers paid their patriotic dues in sacrificing their short lifespans in blasting one ‘Murica songs to another at a volume not meant to be so. Soon enough, the ink black skies above them erupted into blinding hues, and as the masses around them “ooh”ed and “ahh”ed he already picked out a set pattern and wished that there were more colors than flashes of blue, white, red, green or a rare treat of purple.

“I am bored,” Hair tickled his neck, someone had decided to lean back and deliver this shared message.

“It’s been less than five minutes,” He was merely being informative.

“Oh,” The pang of disappointment was too obvious despite a denial for an offer to go home. “We’ve waited for so long.”

So they watched, traced the thin lines of sparks before each dull bloom of sounds and fury and colors. The culmination was but a combination of the fireworks released in the past twenty minutes.

“They could’ve done that in the beginning,” A bubble of laughter at the babbling sky in its maelstrom of smog and dying sparks; he agree, all was too messy, too loud for his taste.

But still, despite his habitual cynicism the only extremity that he cared for was that his arm rested too naturally around that waist, and the lips curled by a smile more splendid than any exploding skies that came up to greet his was too perfect.

Waves

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.

Morning Walks to School

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.

The Snail Crossing the Road

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.

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.

The Smith

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.