Peaches and Strawberries: A Short Story


61352-Reaching-OutI used to watch my sisters as they made pastries in the kitchen. As I looked on, they would create a well in a plot of dough and fill it with strawberries or, should inspiration overtake them, peaches. When I was little, these fruits seemed immense––an unending pile of goodness, bigger than my hand, bigger than the universe.

I’m big enough now that those fruits dwarf in comparison to my palm. My sisters are gone, and sometimes my heart is, too. Drowning in coursework and life decisions, I try to rediscover the meaning I believed the universe had as I stood barefoot on the clean, cold tile, observing my sisters’ fairy-like fingers float between ingredients. They were like goddesses to me, so tidy and precise––deities that I wanted to watch forever and ever.

That was a different epoch, when angels were real, when my sisters were there and I could watch Genesis from the comfort of my kitchen. Sometimes I want to run away and meet them again. Other times I wish I were a fruit––so small, yet larger than everything; I wish my sisters were folding me into soft dough, tucking me in, keeping me warm. I wish they were here to wrap me up in themselves, a soft pastry of love and togetherness; I wish they were here to tell me which decisions are the right ones, to decipher both algebra and fate.

I never ate their pastries. They must have been infused with Ambrosia, or pixie dust or the gold at the end of the rainbow––things meant for my sisters, things that were too good for me.

Every so often, in the middle of the night, I tiptoe across the house and stand in the corner of the kitchen, just inside the door––exactly were I stood years ago––and watch the glittering ghosts of my sisters turn the counters into oracles of their craft. Their hands are still as graceful and effortless as ever, still as ethereal untouched, untouchable; and they still comfort me, even when they are little more than spirits. They are too perfect to be of this world, and that’s why they left it.

I never said that I wanted to be like my sisters, just that I wanted to witness their superhuman beauty.

No, I never wanted to be like my sisters.

No, I never wanted to grow up.

I am a peach, awaiting a sister’s inspiration, eyeing the well that lies ahead. If only Hera or Persephone could coax me, I would have the courage to leap.

I am small, and the strawberries are endless, and we are a pastry, in heaven, together at last.

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These Lightning Fingertips: A Poem


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I dreamt once of laying under the strobes of heart

in that dream

the atoms of my body rolled to distant starlights

distant rests

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I felt my toes vanish into the electric sparkling

(peace finally after the struggle) and

that silent firework twinkled its way up

my ankles,

my hips

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When the dissolve (resolve)

hit my lungs

it took my air and broke it up

when it took my heart

it stole my blood

filler!

it hit my eyes and I

gave it my brain

filler!

and when finally, finally

I was scattered

across infinity finally, finally

my useless body knew peace

among the starlight

filler!

A dream indeed

The All-Consuming Black Hole: A Short Story


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Dan is at the foot of my bed. “I know you’re asleep, Ellen,” he says. “But I’ve got to talk to someone.”

I am not asleep. As a matter of fact, I am too lost in dreams to even consider sleeping. Lost in dreams. And there is Dan, at the foot of my bed.

“I’ve been thinking a lot,” he says. “And not just about anything.” He sighs, like someone who is disoriented in a vacuum. “I’ve been thinking about death. I do that a lot. It’s kind of a problem.

“The thing is,” he continues, “I’m terrified of what’s coming. Because I don’t know. I just don’t know. Nobody really knows. And that’s the issue.” The bed shifts as he readjusts his position. “And what does anything mean, really, if we’re all going to die anyway? Is it worth the effort?”

Still pretending, of course, to be asleep, I shuffle my elbow.

“And damn, Ellen, I’m so scared. I’ve always been scared.” His breathing is damp, muffled; he’s crying. “Everything is terrifying. And apparently pointless.” He chuckles at himself, in the forced way the damned laugh at their fate. “And I’m sorry to be bothering you, even though you’re sleeping. I’ve just been thinking too much.”

At this point, he begins sobbing––big, agonizing sobs. The bed shakes, but it’s like rocking; had I truly been asleep, it would have comforted my dreams before it woke me. I get up and hold him from behind, my head on his shoulder, and I whisper in his ear. “Dan,” I say, “Dan, I don’t know either. Dammit, Dan, no one knows. But death isn’t the all-consuming black hole. That’s life. You know it as well as I do.”

He pauses, his tears suspended with his breath, the whole room hovering for the moment. “You don’t know, either?” he murmurs. “You don’t know what life is? or death?”

I shake my head into his. “There’s no way to know.”

“Then what does it matter, Ellen?”

“It matters because I love you.”

He smiles; I know because I can feel his cheek. That’s the only way to know. The only light in the room leaks from the door, and, for the time being, neither of us is leaving. It’s dark here, at the foot of my bed. We can only know from touch, from contact.

“Then I guess it matters because I love you, too.”

I brush his short hair from his ear, and I’m crying alongside him, and neither of us understands anything.

Gray: A Short Story


IMG_20141212_042618The sky is like nothing else. It is gray; it is dark; it sinks low with an impending storm.

The same could be said about the hollow eyes of the boy who sits next to me on the couch. He says very little. Around a warm and freshly empty mug he wraps his chilly, colorless fingers: fingers I have known well. I have known them on my shoulder, on my cheek, embracing my back. They are poised, and posed: so very, very still.

I can hardly see him breathe, and hardly believe him to be alive. Only for those split seconds when his eyelids allow themselves to be heavy, does he regain his color. His eyes were a different flavor of gray, once.

It seems all of him is gray now, from his frosty lips and dry skin, to the pale, distressed hair he attempts to keep hidden. The bags under his eyes hold the only color on his person.

As his gray body concentrates wearily on the world outside, his mind plays with the thin slice of paper that sits in front of him, crinkling it and throwing it away. Words are asleep on that paper, words scrawled with skinny lines in a faint manuscript. They are words that will not wake again for a very long time; the eyes that were meant to read them have closed.

I move closer to him, inches at a time. Although my focus remains outside the window, my cornerstone is next to me, on the couch. He offers no response when my arm, cautious, folds around him, but he lets his head lean into mine when it lands gently on his shoulder. He is so very still, contemplative and drowning in an ocean I cannot know. My empty hand finds his fingers, pulling them away from the cup, which has lent them no warmth. With every candle in my soul, I try to burn through to him.

“I loved you, you know.”

He cries now the way he has always cried: slowly at first, and then like a storm. He is an ashen raincloud, dropping his elixir to tap on my windows, shaking me, bleaching the whole world gray.

For the Boy Gone Too Young: A Poem


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It’s a strange sensation when someone you barely know

(knew)

dies.

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Because you never spoke

and you never said hi

and you barely even saw each other in passing.

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Once you read all the stories

and warm wishes and prayers

for the family,

all the RIPs,

and all the I’ll miss you

and I love you,

it strikes you that they were only a little older than you are,

and you’ve barely started your own life.

filler!

Your day-to-day won’t change much.

filler!

But in your inner eye

you witness people you care about

weeping for the ache.

And you find yourself

doing the same.

fille

Because there is one less happy life on this earth,

and that is a terrible loss indeed.

Free as a Bird: A Poem


We gave you wings so you’d be free as a bird,

Now fly far from here, fly strong;

We gave you a voice so you might speak your mind,

Now sing to the sky, sing long.

We gave you a heart so you’d explode with your love,

They filled it with lead, sing long;

We gave you a life so they’d take it away,

Free as a bird now, fly strong.

My New and Improved Bucket List for 2014


It was in 2012 that I first published a bucket list, and, after much deliberation, it does not honestly reflect the things that I want to do before I die. So, without further ado, here is the new and improved list (in no particular order whatsoever).

1. Have a jam session with my favorite band, New Hollow, or, at least, attend one of their concerts.

2. Look Paul Simon in the eye and shake his hand.

3. Write a book. Or several books.

4. Talk to an attractive stranger.

5. Release an album.

6. Fall in love.

7. Have my picture in the Rolling Stone.

8. Be worshiped the way J.K. Rowling is worshiped.

9. Work at a library (it will probably fit in here somewhere).

10. Visit every continent at least once, or travel the world.

11. Cross this off the list because everything else is done.