"Hey loverboy," she says. I don't respond.
A rough draft excerpt from my story, Fictional Truth.
“Hey loverboy,” she says. I don’t respond. I enjoy ignoring her for a moment after I come out of a day dream.
“Hey. Jake. Snap out of it boy. Time to come back to earth,” she says with her usual tone of pleased annoyance. This time I leave the world inside my head and return to reality. Slowly turning my head to the right, I can see those deep blue eyes gazing up. I never get tired of her eyes.
“Come on, you said you’d help me here.”
“Sorry,” I say with a half grin and my best attempt at contrition. I look down to the papers in her lap. Right, math. I was helping her with calculus. She was really very good at math. We were in the same class, but she was two years younger than me after skipping two grades in elementary school.
“This one you just take the derivative of your function and plug in these two values.” I can remember these things effortlessly now, which was a huge accomplishment for someone who doesn’t particularly like math.
“See, this is why I keep you around,” she says, those rosy lips that I so adored pulled into a little smirk. She reaches up and kisses me. She always seems to find an excuse to kiss me. “You can go back to daydreaming now.” Indeed I do, retreating back to the dreamscape inside my head. This time I think back to when I met Clara.
I had just arrived on campus, a bright eyed college freshman. There I was, lost in a sea of more beautiful women than I had ever seen in my life. Small private schools had never been kind to me in that regard. Everything on campus was a wonder. Nobody from my high school had come here and I was very much alone, but I didn’t mind. I had outgrown most of my high school friends long ago. It was long past time for me to expand my horizons.
I found myself standing in front of a massive glass building. I wasn’t past checking my reflection in the glass windows. Had to make sure my hair still looked as good as it did when I arrived. Who knew when I might run into some attractive young lady? Opening the doors I caught a waft of the bookstore smell, unlike anything I expected. At home the bookstores were small, with dusty leather covers that begged to be handled and old people that smelled like coffee. This was completely different. The odor of panicked freshman and newly bound textbooks permeated the air. I decided right then I wouldn’t be spending much time there.
There was a long line extending towards the back of the building. Not knowing better, I assumed it was the line I was supposed to be in and slowly made my way to the rear. This would take forever. I pulled out my phone and started on another game of Angry Birds. I had been killing evil pigs for almost five minutes when I began to feel like I was being watched. Sure enough I glanced up to see a large pair of deep blue eyes looking at me.
“You know, some psychologists say that technology is making us less social,” said the girl looking up at me. I couldn’t respond. She had straight black hair pulled behind her in a long ponytail. She had a small, perfectly formed nose with what seemed like a sea of freckles on it. Even more freckles danced on her cheeks. She was several inches shorter than me, maybe 5’9” and had on tight jean shorts and a black tank top that exposed only the most tantalizing amount of cleavage.
“So I’m just starting to feel a little uncomfortable with you undressing me with your eyes like that,” she said with the smirk on her face that I would soon come to know.
“Sorry,” I said, a tiny grin tugging at the corner of my mouth, “You surprised me a bit.”
“I’m Clara. This is the point in conversation where you tell me your name.” I liked her already. She had confidence and wit that was both abrasive and attractive.
“I’m Jake, pleased to meet you.” Damn I was smooth. Almost as smooth as a wagon over rocks. “Are you a freshman too?”
“Yep. Just got here. I don’t think this line is moving.” I really liked the way little dimples appeared at the corners of her mouth even when she frowned slightly.
“It really doesn’t seem to be. At least I have pleasant company,” I said. Oh man I was so smooth! I was really proud of myself right there. It was hard flirting with such a beautiful girl. She seemed to throw me off balance.
“Well, that was the least offensive flirting I've heard all day,” she replied. Good gosh this girl was straightforward. “It’s a good thing you’re cute or I might not have accepted that.” Cute. Okay, I could work with cute. “So you’re in psychology 1000?” she asked.
“Nope, I took that during high school.” I replied. Why would she ask that?
“Well, you’re standing in the psychology book pickup line.” She said with a slightly puzzled look on her face. I definitely was not in psychology.
“Oh, Psychology! I, uh, I thought you said, uh, philanthropy. Nope, I’m definitely in the right line. Okay, that was a lie and I was at least 100% sure philanthropy was not a class. But hey, I was under pressure and I needed an excuse to keep talking to this girl. She looked at me like I was slightly on drugs but moved on without hesitation.
We talked about various meaningless things while the line crept closer to the back of the store. I was constantly mesmerized by the deep blue in her eyes. I had always been attracted to blue eyes for some reason. When we got to the pickup window, she paid for her book and stepped to the side, watching me. I decided to bow out of buying a several hundred dollar book just so I didn't look like a complete idiot. I comforted myself with the fact that she might think it was funny.
“Soooo. I’m not really in philanthropy. Or psychology. I just didn't want to stop talking to you just yet.” I said with a sheepish grin. Luckily for me, she laughed right there.
“Alright then Mr. Jake, what books do you really need? Maybe we can go stand in line again.” I listed off several books that I needed for classes.
“Calculus. I need that one as well. Come on silly.” She turned her back and started walking. I followed right on her heels, a goofy grin plastered all over my face.
That was my first interaction with Clara. We spent the next two hours gathering all of our books, and at the end I carried her rather large pile back to her dorm room. I was promptly rewarded with her phone number and some cookies that her mom had packed. Normally I’m very pleased by cookies, but the phone number was worth so much more.
“Hey. What about this one?” Clara’s voice comes from beside me. I lean over to look at the paper again.
“This time just take the antiderivative of cosine and solve for x.”
“Oh right. That's the last one.”
“What do you want to do now?” I ask.
“How about we go to your room and see if we can make your roommate uncomfortable enough to leave?” She says with a mischievous grin, bringing those deep blue eyes nearer to mine. She always seems to find an excuse to kiss me.
Lydia is quiet
going down the slope
by Arrol House
Benedict says nothing
he thinks it best
to let her brood
until she’s ready
he's seen it
in the films before
where the female
opposite the cowboy
has her moods
or quiet times
and the cowboy
lets her get on with it
while he rides off
into the sunset
to fight the bad guys
or have a shot
of Red Eye
in the bar in the town
watching the dancers
on the makeshift stage
he gives Lydia
a side on gaze
her straight hair
her dress is creased
and the cardigan
has a hole
in the elbow
they walk up
towards Draper Road
by the blocks of flats
were rowing last night
something to do
or the lack of it
I could gather
through the bedroom door
lying in the dark
seeing the thin line
from the other room
the old man hates
his best suits
and brown shoes
saw something odd
Lydia says suddenly
looking at Benedict
odd? what was odd?
her thin hands
the nails chewed
my big sister
and her man friend
your sister's always odd
she made me sleep
in the tiny cot bed
which I haven't done
for years as its
too small for me really
she made me sleep there
so she and her man friend
could sleep there
he's been turned out
of his digs
as he calls them
and Mum didn't like
the idea but Dad
in his usual drunken state
said O let him stay
a few days
until he gets himself
so there am I
stuck in the cot bed
over the ends
just about room for me
except my backside
when I turn over
than a cold backside
after the lights were out
and she thought
I was asleep
I heard this noise
like squashy sound
and I lay there
with my eyes open
at the dark shapes
these odd sounds
and the giggles
and snorts and such
Benedict gazes at her
her thin lips
like the goldfish
he had which fell
into the sink
out of the fish bowl
and its tiny mouth
upon the wet
then the bed springs
were going gong gong
as if they were dead
and I never got
to sleep in the end
what with them
and the cold
on my backside
and the trains
the railway bridge
and the shunting
of coal wagons
so you're tired
that’s why you
were quiet just now
thought I'd done
when I first met you
outside your flat
and you came out
with a face
and they walk along
to the Penny shop
where he treats her
to a penny pop drink
fruit salad sweets
and they stand
by the penny
ball game machine
on the wall
and watch some kid
press the buttons
and the ball
until it disappears
in a slot
and Lydia thinks
sipping her drink
are an odd lot.
Switching off the lights feels
like a gate has been opened,
Echoes of the past haunt the room,
Hearing clips of the past
over and over
Like a bad rerun of a sick show
I saw on TV 30 minutes ago.
I see an old monster peering its eyes
From the corner of the room.
I think of closing my eyes to escape
and pretend it's not there
But even the monster knows
how to cause me more
Advance or attack.
It sits there
And I remember
closing my eyes forces me
to look at the darkness inside.
The pain is so strong that I can’t bare
It’s clear God isn’t answering my prayer
Another pitiful attempt to clear my head
My tears stain the silky material of my bed
No one listens, no one really cares
I have been damaged beyond repair
I know my parents won’t care if I’m alone, crying
I’ve tried to be a good daughter; yes I’ve been trying
I ball up in the corner of my darkened room
My face stiff and my eyes full of gloom
Suddenly my heart gives way and I feel numb
I knew I was through; I knew I was done
I’ve had enough pain, rage, and fright
I’ve decided it all ends tonight
I got up to my desk to write one last note
What I felt is what I wrote
I wrote how much I loved my Dad and my Mom
I never knew I could be so calm
I stumble to the bathroom door
Not before opening up my drawer
And picking my amazingly sharp knife
With this I will end my life
I locked myself in the bathroom and filled the bathtub with water
By midnight, this family will have one less daughter
I did what I had to do with my note beside me
My blood level dropped to a serious degree
I died that night in a bathtub of my own blood
I never noticed how much my bathroom could flood
My parents came barging through the door
In my blurry vision I saw my mother drop to the floor
My father scooped me up and tried to bring me back with tears in his eyes
His eyes held worries and so much love; no lies
My mother was besides me; screaming, I could tell she was scared
They were both crying, I never knew they really cared
The pain is so strong, it’s almost relieving
I know my soul fading away; I’m leaving
I whispered, “Mom, Dad … I love you so much”
As I felt my last touch.......
When someone tells you something’s wrong; please don’t let it dismiss
Please, listen to them; don’t let it come to this
You had me by the hands and you pulled me closer
So I could feel you crying.
Lost for words I pulled away
And I kept on driving.
"There's nothing wrong", I said. For a couple days.
You suspected something.
We laid there beneath the sheets on the same bed
but I kept my distance.
We both had been through the same mess
But you came out lonelier
Than I did cause there's no room
For despondence in my calendar.
You stocked up on splinters when I pulled mine out.
I'll take advantage of my chances before they run out.
We're not like trees. We can't wait till spring
To grow some brand new leaves.
Bottle in my mouth
Whisky slides down
Sweet taste of shut up
My heart is aching
Hold in your pain
Push away your tears
Look in the mirror
All you see
Eating you alive
Cut your arms
Screams echoing across the street
Flash backs of where you went wrong
All those regrets
Pain seeping from your mind
The man who raped you
Who beat you
Who robbed you of your innocence
Fuck you, you scream
The color red
Flowing like a river
Guess who is your first visitor
Sitting by the window of an unfriendly room,
baffled voices surround an unquenchable core.
Digging my nails into flesh on my wrist,
I crack both big toes.
All the while, your limbs travel my inner eye lids.
Something simple as a blade of grass,
complex as The Birth of Venus cracking the surface of the sea.
Strings lace the cortex of my mind,
until all that remains are two puppets;
metal spokes force your eyes
to exonerate mine.
She couldn't stop throwing things out.
First, the this's & that's
her husband would not even notice:
old bras & panties,
buttons & bobby pins,
cans of okra and baked beans.
Her lens homed in
on stray packs of condoms, mooshed tubes of toothpaste,
china cups, slightly chipped on their rims,
a scrabble board missing its vowels.
Couples gone single:
one candlestick, one earring, a three-fingered glove,
a single darned sock,
one rubbery shoe.
She made one complete pass
from attic to basement,
then started all over again.
The designer tags her mother had chosen,
too loose when she looked
in her elegant floor-length mirror.
Parts of her functional world were next:
things for holding & measuring:
bathroom scales, adding machine,
the silver decanter & some of the silver.
Then even that floor-length mirror.
Noise was easy:
the telephone & stereo & especially the TV
set curbside one rainy day for Good Will.
On a third or fourth pass
a delicious silence was hers.
When she turned to the essentials
she knew she was on
an irreversible roll:
tampons & washcloths,
beds & plates,
the credit cards they lived on,
the pens & computer
that made up her mind,
the half-eaten bottles of Prozac.
Coins, first foreign mementos,
Europe, pre-euro, tossed in a bowl,
then jar upon jar
of pennies & dimes.
Things others had saved
were next on her list:
her grandmother's shower cap, for instance.
Things that reminded her
of what she couldn't hold onto.
photos & love letters,
beginnings of poems,
stale & spent.
Even her bookshelves
went Spartan & bare. She kept Joyce,
she kept Gluck, she kept Marquez & St. John,
until the fewest words possible were left.
When she was at a loss for much else,
she tossed Bitten the cat
because of her penchant for eating too much
& not being able to stop.
She cut her long, straight, luminous hair,
chewed her nails down to the quick, went on a fast,
lost pounds she couldn't spare, even her
pubic hair had to go.
Her husband, just getting in from work,
a look of relief on his face as he noticed his wife
wasting away, thinking they could finally start over.
"At last," he said,
his coat & hat still balanced on her arm,
a single mote-filled ray of light,
slipping across the empty room, slicing them in two.
"You're next," she said,
handing them back.
every time the bell rings for lunch
trying to escape the unavoidable eye contact with former friends
i find the farthest bathroom from the lunch room
lock the stall
and slide to the floor
i loosen my jeans in order to become more comfortable
because i know that i will be there for awhile
minutes pass in silence
as tears stream down my face
waiting, hoping that class will come soon
i slowly stand up
re button my jeans
wipe off the tears
take a deep breath
then smile in the mirror
as if practicing how to fake it
i go to class
pretending like nothing happened
and i repeat this
every god damn day
(Tue, Dec 3 at 7:13 am; )
((carride; half an hour to high school solemnly with your father who teaches there;
sing the Frozen soundtrack too loudly and slightly off-pitch with your headphones on
and daydream of her
while you shiver violently because there's no heating system in that old white volvo))
I'll laugh and say "the cold never bothered me anyway"
but it does and without you i'm frozen long after the light of day
(Sat, Dec 7, 4:46am)
((i was daydreaming and i never even finished my sentence.
i couldn't stop listening to Your Lips Are Red by St. Vincent.))
Your lips are pink
Your lips are pink from all the sweet words that you speak.
My face is drawn
(Sat, Dec 7 6:41am)
((the idea came to me like it was sung to me by some unknown voice, or whispered to me
it felt like much too strong of a suggestion to only be an idea
sort of an odd notion to receive while eating Nutella out of the jar with a spoon))
there are cafes in Edinburgh calling your name
(Sat, Dec 7 5:59pm )
((i'm not sure but i think the first line is Hole lyrics))
sugar comes from her arteries
pink and awaiting
(Sun, Dec 8 9:10am)
i want to lie with you quietly and feel you breathing
and make shapes together out of the shadows the daylight makes upon the crackle ceiling in my room
(Sun, Dec 8 5:54pm)
Fall into an endless abyss of you,
and fade forever
(Sun, Dec 8 7:28pm)
((i listened to too much of the Sweeney Todd soundtrack and most days the only line i really like out of "Pretty Women" is 'how they make a man sing proof of heaven, as you're living' but that day it wasn't))