Personal, Prose

What we always knew

Sometimes I wake up in the middle of the night with an emotional itch I can’t get to. My best friend got engaged last month and I’m already writing my speech in my head, every night, while the neighbour’s automatic flood light forces its way through our heavy curtains and everything still feels so immediate.

I always felt like the older twin, the one who came first but always had so much more to learn. We used to communicate without speaking—in raised eyebrows and head tilts; in wide eyes and pursed lips. She was a mirror, but always with a better brighter version of who I wanted to be.

The summer nights before fiances, between boyfriends, we took command of entire cities. Leaving artifacts ruined in our wake. We were just people but a force of nature together. Cap ou pas cap? Toujours cap.

Sometimes youth feels like invisibility and a platform all at once. Drapped in each other’s arms at the end of so many adventures, with all these stories to tell, secrets to keep, we were invincible in the kind of friendship that you can’t forge, but finds you when you least expect it.

Now all these responsibilities keep us grounded. Soon she’ll be married, a wife and then probably not too far along, a mother. Exactly like we always planned.

At her wedding I get too drunk, warming my wine glass between two sweaty palms—an offering to the gods of public speaking. In front of me on the podium my ring finger sparkles, catching the light and I lose my place for a moment and clear my throat, wings scrapping my insides as something struggles toward the light.

When I practised I couldn’t stop crying, it was alarming, a submarine filling with water, all of me leaking out onto the page. But the wine has made me calmer, my voice measured out two beats ahead of my brain. It’s over before I know it and her husband (husband!) embraces me whispering thanks into my ear and I hold on to him like the ground is shaking. This is all so new now.

They go to Greece on their honeymoon. I sit cross-legged on my dining room floor assembling the kitchen table my mother gave us. Inheritance hand-me-downs. It’s coming apart at the corners and I think about waiting but drag a chair to the closet and bring down the drill. Manage. On every surface I pile library books according to size and wait for the fees to accumulate. All these late notifications but I can’t bring myself to return what I haven’t read yet.

When we’re older, old, paper-thin. I’ll gather you in my sure hands, winding your white hair into the tightest of  buns. Like you always knew I would.

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Personal, Prose

In the end it’s all tides

tidesSometimes I feel in such a hurry to get life started. Like it’s not already happening, all around us. Like every day isn’t already a step closer to whatever is coming next. It’s not easy to sit still, though, when all these stars have aligned and I can finally see everything, all the tiny specks in the distance like they’re here, now, sitting right next to me.

“I feel like I’ve loved you all my life.”

And I have and I do—in whirlpools next to each other—time pools that can’t be differentiated anymore than I can tell when I stopped being the past and turned into present and future.

Late at night when I can’t sleep I see them—crawling on the floors of a house I can’t wait to own.

No pressure.

I used to be so scared. Of all these things I didn’t know, and still don’t know, but now I find I care less.

In the end it’s all tides and love is the moon.

 

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Prose, Writing

And now for something completely different…

Throwback Find

Once upon a time, several years ago I dated a guy who liked to write. One late night, to stave off boredom we started writing a story back and forth. Today I found that folded up genius in one of my shoe box memory collections. You’re welcome.

T – Awesomeness; a profound word that can mean so many things. To Bird it meant being awesome—at all times and whatever the cost. Bird was being awesome right now, sitting at the helm of the spaceship.

L – Captain Bird, he corrected himself as he glanced quickly at the control board. He was Captain Bird, now. He was the moment he had woke up that day, head pounding, empty bottle of the galaxy’s strongest tequila at his feet. And whose fucking spaceship was this anyway? Bird rubbed his temples. This would be Brown’s fault, as per usual.

T – If only Admiral Brown hadn’t been so goddamn awesome, Bird wouldn’t have ended up in this mess. “I shouldn’t always be trying to top that fool!” Captain Bird thought to himself, pushing down the bile that rose in his throat, which tasted like last night’s intergalactic tequila. Only a week ago Admiral Brown had gone rogue, pulling half of the fleet with him when he decided to desert. His escape had been daring and genius. It had left Bird’s own ship disabled, and forced him into this interstellar trash heap. Bird cursed Brown one more time under his breath, and set out from the port.

L – “The night must have been a rager,” thought Bird as he examined his clothing. The thing about the intergalactic space fleet was how elite the recruiting practice was. In order to have gotten into the uniform he was in now he would’ve had to either outwit or kill an intergalactic captain and take his position, there was no other way for a lowly space janitor like him to have got here. Course, now that he was… Bird straightened his gleaming badge on his chest and picked up the captain’s hat he had spotted on the floor, placing it on his head at a jaunty angle. The memories of last night were beginning to come back to him. He had been having his usual nightcap at the local bar, bit seedy, but they knew him there. Everything had been going good, he was even pulling this mildly attractive Venetian when that fucking Brown had waltzed in like he owned the place, bragging loudly about taking over the fleet like a right douche. It had been years since they’d last seen each other but Brown still hadn’t figured out a way to reattach his mangled eye. Bird chuckled. It all went south when he made that pirate comment. Brown always was a bit touchy about his patch. Still sore, too, that Bird had bested him in that last fight, exiling Brown to the outskirts of the universe. “I guess he figured out how to breathe without air after all!” thought Bird as he engaged the ship’s light speed accelerators. What he wouldn’t give to kick Brown out a space hatch one more time—flailing like a wounded pigeon.

T – Brown awoke with a start, throwing the naked mildly attractive Venetian off his body and scanned the floor for his clothes. He pulled them on quickly, immensely happy to not be pulling on an imperial uniform. Brown had never been one for a uniform, his vagabondish spirit wouldn’t allow it. Dressed he pulled his eye patch over his head, covering his once useless eye. A surgeon on Nebula 452 had fixed it years ago, but Brown had grown accustomed to the patch—it suited his pirate image, and the ladies told him it was dashing. He had seen Bird last night. It had been years since Brown had laid eyes on that scum. The former janitor had rose high in the Starfleet ranks, it seemed that Brown would probably have to deal with Bird again in the near future. He relished the opportunity. Today however; he had more important issues on his mind—a cargo hold full of spice needed to make it to Napkin before the setting of the fourth sun.

L – Brown waddled over to the round mirror on the wall to admire himself. He grinned. Though, it was true, he had let himself go, he still looked damn good as far as he was concerned. Brown grabbed hold of his ample belly and lifted it up, giving the illusion of a much fitter man. Yeah, he looked good, alright. He flexed one flabby arm at the mirror and kissed the mound where his bicep used to be. Dead sexy, really. Brown glared as he remembered Bird’s taunts of “fatty fat pirate poo.” Not fat, he told himself, big boned. It only proved to irritate him further that Bird had only gotten better looking over the years. Shake it off, he told himself, looking over at the Venetian and shuddering. She was a long way from moderately good looking now, it seemed she got lost somewhere between horrendous and deformed. Bird had surely dodged a bullet there.

T – Bird heard a sound behind his head, this ship was really falling apart. His obsession with catching Brown had led to a more lax outlook on his personal safety. It was to be his undoing. He never noticed the small package that one of Brown’s innumerable spies had planted on his ship. Just as Brown’s majestic ship took off into the air, a beep signified the end of Bird. He didn’t even have time to scream as the ion bomb detonated, vaporizing Bird and everything he had ever stood for. Brown’s ship proceeded through the now empty space where Bird’s ship had just been, and leisurely made the jump to light speed.

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Prose, Writing

In the outline of everything left behind

It wasn’t that there were stars in your eyes, it was that it was all you could see. Twinkling lights and your own name blinking in and out like a vacancy sign on that old hotel that kept advertising colour TV long after it stopped being a selling point. It was like that with love—realizing everything I thought was special about you was just the basics for most people. Telling the truth and housing hurt for each other like old furniture with not enough room. That’s all I was, in the end. I was your storage facility. Your long-distance U-Haul. I was the place you put everything you had no immediate need for but didn’t want to give up. All those things that you thought you couldn’t part with, until parted, are forgotten. I don’t want to be the dust on your picture frames but that’s better than the dark, better than nothing at all. Better than the whispers of what once was—all your old suitcases packed full of ghosts, lingering like old love letters. Like the versions of ourselves we used to want to be. ‘Til we knew better.

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Personal, Prose, Writing

What it felt like then and other stories

There were things we wanted then that didn’t seem ridiculous.

Coffee without the grinds. Ice water just before it turns cool leaving wet rings that soak into the wood. We didn’t need the bad with the good, the good was enough, it was plenty. Maybe it was naive to think we could section off our emotions, corner our dislikes with barbed wire, “Stay! Good boy.” Until it leaked out and over and through again.

So, OK, we loved but we did it in our own way, reusing the scraps that kept falling to the ground. Ten-second, three-hour, four-year rule. Now we don’t even pretend to like the same things on Facebook. We keep twin tufts of hair instead—the scalp still on—all our secrets in shoe boxes.

Which feels more true.

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Personal, Prose, Writing

Copy that

I take a job copy editing and find comfort in the culling of words, the monitoring of space. It’s easy to love something until your flaws are pointed out to you—the things you let slip by.

I pull out errors in everything I read, feel thwarted, let down when something passes my scrutiny. We don’t all, apparently, make mistakes.

When the job ends, I bury with it my red pen; my compulsion to be right. Re-draft and revision.

I begin to build new dreams outside the wainscoting of words.

Maybe all disappointments are trials in disguise.

We sit at a tall table in a cafe listening to the cacophony of coffee-making beneath the music that plugs our ears, ideas budding above our own mindful detritus.

Throw it out, break it down, rip it all apart. Shed.

Then pull your wooly sweater around your shoulders as the breeze blows in.

It’s either that or close the window.

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Personal, Prose, Writing

Up Current

You finally surface, smooth as salmon, like you always do. Breathing just under the surface and I think for a moment that I could touch you without getting wet. Hover my hand over the skin of water just breaking, those ripples whispers of something more than movement.

In the belly of it, we were always backwards, and maybe now I still am. Turning, turning. No one’s broken rib.

I clean the dead flies off my new window. Reposition the plants. Throw up in the bathroom.

Grow up.

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