I say, I communicate, and all the while being responsible makes my heart pound so, so hard,
my trust in you breaking into shards,
my body rejecting your touch on impulse while my brain struggles to figure out what went wrong under the spell of your siren song and the feel of your mouth in the crook of my neck, neglecting the boundaries my body brought up so
While my chest aches and my confidence breaks, my brain bisects into pro-you and pro-the truth, one side claiming I enjoyed it while the other whispers, “you had to”
I wonder what would have happened if we had been in your room instead of under the stars.
Would you have convinced my core that it needed you while my heart broke into two?
Would I have believed I wanted it because you told me to?
Would I have given myself up to give in, or given you the truth that I couldn’t handle your touch, that it became too much, became a curse instead of a comfort because even as I try to remember how much I used to yearn for your company all I can think of is how I’d hate to know your lust again and be undone by your words—
If I could see how happy you were, all the time,
I'd give you a soft touch at 99
A hug from 98 to 95
a kiss with every percentile because it's worthwhile
to keep you at 100 percent and any time
spent on your smile is more valuable than diamonds.
Your smile, that divulges dissent and desire,
with eyes that dance with daring fire,
All the feelings fueled by yearning and ire
Felt so openly that I need not open up chambers and ventricles
To understand what's beating beneath the surface.
I would embrace you at 79,
Write you love letters at 68 and bring you all the stars in the night sky at 56.
I'd wrap you tightly in my arms from 40 to 55
even if recharging your happiness took all night.
I would buy you the world at 30 and
burn it down for you at 20
19 18 17 16 15 14 13 12 11
10 fingers to paint my love on your skin
9876 through thick and thin
54321 no zero because this will never end
I would give all of myself to bring you to 100 again.
Against the Odds
Initially, Robert's form on the bed appears lifeless, one arm slung across the empty side of the bed and the other one hidden by the figure standing over him, and I think that I've come here too late, after the deed has been done.
It's only when I force my projection to float slightly to the side that I can see his chest still rising and falling, with the man standing over him rubbing his chin as he stares down. A blade catches the light of the moon coming in from the open window as the stranger's gloved hand spins the knife slowly.
He's not someone I recognize. Robert had many enemies, with me being one of them. And as someone who loathed him, I could confidently claim that I was fairly aware of most of his other enemies, as well; the enemy of my enemy is my friend, after all. But this man eludes my knowledge.
I wonder what Robert did to him. I look at the drool running down a side of Robert's face, at his potbelly straining the fabric of his T-shirt, even asleep, and think about all the times I wished this man were dead. When he stole my plans for a merger and successfully marketed them to the CEO. When he got promoted to COO right after. When he blamed me for a deal bust resulting in the loss of millions of dollars, which had actually just been him embezzling money.
When I got fired for something I didn't do and lost custody of my kids.
Each one of these times made me picture, with embarrassingly vivid detail, the ways I could kill this man. I had imagined how his face would look as the life slipped from his body, the jowls of his repulsive face going slack. Blood would drip from a bullet wound, or a stab line, or from his mouth, depending on the scenario, and in a matter of minutes, the world would no longer need to put up with Robert Shaly ever again.
Those were only wistful thoughts. Yet, here I am (or not quite here), watching my darkest fantasy about to come true. The stranger moves about the room slowly now, looking through drawers and tables. I decide to do some examining of my own throughout the house, though not in pursuit of something like the stranger seems to be; I want to see what Robert has bought himself with the life he stole from me.
It's quite a lot. The house is large for someone who is twice-divorced with no children. The foyer has crystals dripping from a ceiling chandelier, and marble floors I could probably see my reflection in if I had a real body. I move into the kitchen and see the same type of clinical cleanliness. He must have maids that come in to tidy up.
He has a fancy automated fridge system that I can't hope to figure out, so I stick my head directly through the fridge door and peak inside. Vegetables rot in the bottom drawers of the fridge, and the rest of the shelves are filled with Budweisers and a half-empty, open box of McDonald's chicken nuggets. I guess he hasn't really needed to use the kitchen if he can afford to dine at New York's finest restaurants, anyways.
The next four rooms look almost indistinguishable from each other; beds with only slightly different comforter patterns, and an armoire/desk/side table combo that is positioned the same way in relation to the doorways.
It's only in the fifth room that I see a change.
An old man lies on a hospital bed. I count three—no, four tubes exiting his body and disappearing either into the IV stand or to places under and at the top of the bed. The man's feet stick out from under the blanket on him, and they are swollen, with bruises all around. A full tray of food sits on the table next to him, with a few flies already claiming it as their meal.
My projection flies back into Robert's room before I can even think about it. The stranger is immobile, holding a binder open, and I float directly in front of him to see his eyes move across the page.
NOTICE OF OVERDRAFT, the top of the page says.
I don't get to read the rest of it, though, because the stranger is back in motion. He sets the binder down and starts spinning the knife again.
There still isn't enough that I know about Robert to decide if his actions are justified. There's barely enough for me to know that he doesn't deserve what is about to happen to him.
But what I do know now is that he deserves a fighting chance against this.
I am back in my corporeal body within seconds, but every movement feels sluggish from sleep. Even so, I make myself dial Robert's number, and as the line rings, I hope that at the very least he has a chance to fix matters.
Whether or not he survives, is now up to him.
Leaving Love Behind
First, there was a smile.
I'm a sucker for smiles, and maybe you picked up on that,
or maybe you know your smile gets you anything like the drop of a hat
It's kind of sad how quickly I fell into a spell of anxiety,
but your magic works quietly
and the inquietude you created was exciting.
Excited to see you
excited to leave you because that meant
I got to experience seeing you again and I lent
So much of my time to thoughts of you that I was caught in you
And you knew, you knew just how to get through
To me even when I had guards up for the whole year.
The year I had gatekept unlocked
Easily, unnoticed, under your dextrous hands,
And looking back I would have done anything at your command
If only you had known that I would have done anything on your whim
That while you were still looking at other girls I only had one "him"
That you manipulated me just the way I wanted you to.
And looking back,
That was exactly why I loved to love you so
Like time away was a blizzard and you were the only home
for miles because I couldn't see how many others
had pulled themselves to your hearth, but now I stutter
a good bye to you,
a good luck to you,
an I loved to love you the way you loved for me to do
but I finally see the other people,
so to find myself, I choose to lose you.
One year ago, the world had been full of life for Ana. Each leaf was a distinct hue different from the last on every tree, and the path ahead of her was painted gold with the affluence that comes with being in love. After finding her soulmate, the static grays she used to see before the First Touch became such vibrant colors that she had been momentarily blinded by what the world really was when her hand first brushed against Isaac’s on the sidewalk; she’d wept right after she could finally process it all, and she and Isaac had spent the rest of the day looking at all the colors they couldn’t see before of mundane objects. The impossible blueness of a perfectly clear lake; the red on a pair of ladybugs that had landed on her sleeve; and the flush of pink on Isaac’s cheeks when she looked at him were all things she couldn’t have fathomed before.
It was a beautiful time to be alive, but like with all beautiful things, they became accustomed to it. The vibrance that had once seemed opulent to them became commonplace, as did the arguments they would have. Ana hadn’t caught on to how the world was slowly being leeched of its color until one day, when Isaac was standing in the doorway with a suitcase, she realized that she could see the glistening of tears on his lashes but could no longer see the blue in his eyes. Just a shining gray, like graphite that could never become diamond.
Ana walks down the path she had met Isaac on, her jacket already soaked through with rain. The lake behind the trees glimmers, but the water is black under the night sky and the plants surrounding it are just different shades of gray. Three years ago on this day, she and Isaac were huddled under an umbrella trying to comprehend the world that had just been painted before their eyes.
Now, Ana just pulls her jacket tighter around herself and walks straight down the path back to her house without another look around.
When I close my eyes, I pray that I fall asleep immediately, that the blackness fades to darkness and that darkness turns to enigma. I force my mind to enter sleep as quickly as possible by exhausting myself throughout the day, because if I had the time to think, I would have to face the reasons for exhausting myself.
I would have to consider why I don't want to think about my actions, why I don't want time to consider their consequences. I would have to think about the future, about the barrel run I'm taking towards it, about the destination I don't even know I want to reach.
So when I close my eyes, I shut down my mind, and I try to settle into the journey instead of the end.
That little dimple is ridiculous.
Absolutely loathsome, when I'm out here preaching the meaning of vitality so vehemently to you and you have the audacity
I see four realities transposed over-under overlays of fifty ways the future might play out, and I articulate as such so succinctly, subverting all circumventions so that we may
Understand the point of partisanship and parting gifts in the guise of white flags on inbound ships, on the horizons of hell helping heal sinners sunk just under the surface.
Thousand fixes flood my mind with every sip of expensive wine and how do we define expense? Is it not subject to intellect and how we choose to count our cents?
I see your smile, you know. Ode to the dimples that chose to grow and to your teeth that shine under fine-dining light and to crow's feet by twinkling eyes that leave me
If I'm drunk, I promise it's not only on the wine.
hug me and hold me, heart in your hands
fingers intertwined, our toes in the sand
your smile errs leftwards and that seems so right
your eyes shine with laughter even without light
a safe place, a haven, a home on two feet
warm skin on warm skin and i feel complete
my worst critic, best fan, and honest observer
i've come so far now, and with you i'll go further
i think about you in all the little things
i'll face life with you in whatever it brings
we planted a future, nurtured the seed
now i walk through our garden, and it is all that i need.
I think your hands speak louder than your words which you
eras— fuck, um, sorry. I'll start saying that again.
Your hands fold into each other, bitten nails pressing into the skin between your pointer fingers and your thumbs, pushing pushing pushing
all the words you can't say back into your skin as you smile nervously at me
t tutter tering while your hands eloquently narrate your emotions
while all the uncertainty and pain and truths are bitten off your tongue
you give a sugarcoat to the speech you memorized while your hands dance, naked.
As my world burned, yours rose from the ashes. The smile spread across your face, the same too-wide smile I thought was overflowing with the love you had for me. It was only now that I understood that you could only thrive when I suffered, and that's why your smile grew a little bigger with every heartbreak you gave me.