Haunted

You were never afraid of scare houses.

“It’s only scary if you convince yourself that it’s scary.”

You used to say to me.

//

You were always good at looking at something and seeing something completely different.

You would call your step-father “Dad,” and your birth-father “Jim.”

You would see a yellow light, and continue to accelerate.

You picked berries, and tried to convince me they were vegetables.

You would look at me and say “forever,” but whisper “unless” underneath your breath.

//

Whenever a demon would pop out of a corner

You would scream just to entertain me.

“They’re just people behind a mask.”

Almost as if you were in on the joke.

//

Sometimes you would look back at me and tell me that
there was nothing to be afraid of

As if this scare house was your home

That hiding behind masks was something you were so used to

You were so good at facing the demons that weren’t yours to face

Everything that was scary to you were the things you knew weren’t coming

//

The only reason you ever invited me to come with you was

because you knew I couldn’t see past masks as easily as you did.

You consciously prepared yourself to expect fraudulence that hid

between rooms

//

“You should act scared, so that they feel like they’ve done their job correctly.”

As if they should be awarded.

//

You would tell me that if you just ignored them

they would leave you alone.

That showing that you’re not afraid would

make them lose interest.

//

When you left me it took me

4 rooms

11 green bottles

3 beds

and 7 ignored phone calls

for me to realize I wasn’t the one who was really afraid.

//

I was nothing but a seasonal convenience.

You would pick me up from October and then shove me back

into the corner of your attic once December came around.

I was nothing but decoration,

an arm to hold onto

//

But don’t try looking for me when the leaves change again

Don’t try to ask your Starbucks barista to make a bootleg Pumpkin Spice

it will never be the same once it knows that it’ll be gone from your life

indefinitely.

//

You never saw us for who we really were.

You put a cover between what was there.

When you left, you left me alone to my own demons.

For a while I thought it was my fault, my cowardice is what made you

run away

It is only now that I realize that I was only in

for the ride.

“Sure”

She pulls on my hand, giggling while she does so. She leads me down a dark hallway with framed pictures of people I’ve never seen before. All of this seems familiar to just her. She seems like an expert at this, I think to myself. I feel like I’m in one of those funhouses, where you’re put into a narrow walkway, with a spinning vortex surrounding it. I stumble and try to keep balance. I’m losing it.

“Hurry! Hurry!” she says to me while she keeps tugging at my arm. She tries to pull me closer to peck me on the lips. I pull in to satisfy her, only to retreat back to my comfort zone. My ears were still ringing from the nightclub I just drove from.

What time is it? Should that even matter right now? I have her. All these things come to mind. We eventually come to the end of the hallway, and she clumsily crashes into the wall at the end. This cracks both of us up. We both stop in front of the door to the left and have a giggle fit together. She has one hand on the doorknob and one hand on my pants while she buries her face into my chest, all the while she’s laughing uncontrollably. Her laugh is wildfire.

“Where are you leading me to?” I say to her in a flirtatious tone.

She just giggles a bit, and sings Blink 182 “Keep your head still. I’ll be your thrill.” She opens the door to reveal a room that seems to be emptied and packed. “The night will go on.” She begins to tug on the collar of my shirt and begins to kiss me without a second thought.

I’m surprised she even knows that song. I think to myself.

I hold on to her face while both of lips continue to touch. I try to assess where I was while this happens. I open just my right eye to notice the suitcases ready to be packed into a minivan this Sunday. I see the plain bed that lay just five feet away from us. Her plain bed sheets that are just a temporary fix until she officially moves to her new bed in Arizona. I notice the Seventeen magazines and the four wrapped textbooks to the left of her bed, and realize that this will be the only night we’ll share together.

She begins to take off her white cardigan that reveals just the little black dress that she’s been wearing this entire night. She takes the white cardigan and without looking, she throws it perfectly into a corner of the room.

How many times have you done this? I remember why I don’t do things like this.

We move our overnight adventure to her mattress that squeaks to the touch. She begins to take off her black heels and lay them to the side of the bed. I do the same with my shoes.

She pulls her lips away from mine to make her way underneath her bed covers. I look at her struggle to take her black dress off of her body. I can hear her giggle and struggle to unzip and loosen the dress off of her. She finally manages to get it off, and presents herself to me. With just the bed covers covering her. She stares at me with intensity.

“Are you coming to bed with me?”  She says to me.

In that moment, all I wanted to do is tell her how I wanted to know the rest of the story she told me in that nightclub. The story of how her and her father once went ice fishing, and why they had to move three times to find the right spot to fish. She never finished it.

I wanted tell her how exciting your first semester is, and how I still remember mine from three years ago. I wanted to ask her how she managed to capture the sky in her eyes, and how I wanted to fall into them until I found a way to her heart.

She won’t understand. She wants something different.

I take one look at her and without flinching, I tell her “Sure.”

***

I wrote this one shortly after writing Eye of the Storm f0r my Creative Writing course last spring semester. I like pairing this piece with Eye of the Storm whenever I present these for Open Mic Nights because in that piece it shows the characteristics of two people who shared so much after having sex, while this one is clearly shows signs of no commitment or attachment to each other at all.

Unlike Eye of the Storm the narrator focuses more within the actions and literal motions leading up to his one-night-stand, while in the other piece the narrator is very much lost within the setting he’s put himself into. I believe I wrote this at a very correct time in my life as well, and I hope that I can continue to convey certain elements of tension between these two nameless characters in this piece.

The dialogue itself is very sparse and somewhat vanilla, but it’s mostly the internal dialogue that drives this story forward. Although we know that this guy is slowly falling for this girl he just met, we are unaware of her feelings toward any of this.

“Sure” is a short story of a man who slowly falls for the girl he met at a club, where she is looking for one night while he is looking for a future. She is moving out of state to college soon, and he figures that one night is better than not having a night with this girl at all.

Some real Drake shit.

– Chris

After Our Showers We Heard Waterfalls

For the longest time

I did everything by myself.

Only dividing myself by one.

//

Before us,

I would hear only but the rustling of leaves

against my heel.

//

I never thought of the word “Hello”

as a lightning rod before,

waiting for a spark.

//

Without you,

I only saw the gaps between my hands as just

empty spaces.

//

I believe we were always waiting to be added.

X’s looking to be found.

One thing leading to another.

//

When I was just one,

enough was always just enough.

I never saw the sky as something the sun swallowed.

//

I never saw dead-ends

as a place to find each other.

But a gathering for the lost.

//

When we collided

We were everything at once.

Multiplying what we both had.

//

We would step upon the autumn leaves

and bring about igniting cannon balls

brushing against our soles.

//

We were a sun shower

Clear enough to see but

ravenous amongst the painted orange clouds.

//

I never knew my hands could be filled

with your shampooed hair

against the thicket of my palms

//

After our showers we heard waterfalls

Before it was just water against my skin

falling into place

//

Before our silence

I heard our hearts beating.

//

During everything

I learned nothing.

//

Along the way,

I was complete.

***

I literally got out of the shower today and felt like writing this poem. I stole the title from the poem After Making Love We Hear Footsteps by Galway Kinnell however the theme and structure of that poem does not lend itself to the one I’ve written today.

The poet begins describing his life as taking one thing at a time, where things are simple and not filled with imagery, but once this person comes into his life things become more than what they seem.

It’s a simple, straight-forward poem that doesn’t use too many huge and broad metaphors but at the same time the reader can see how life can become a lot more beautiful and vibrant once we find a person to do that for us.

-Chris

Light Pollution

she drowned the stars,

darkened the moon,

and silenced the sky.

never within grasp.

she may even linger

between the spaces of

constellations.

she competed with the night sky,

people didn’t understand.

many thought she was intrusive.

that she cluttered the sky with light.

many wanted to escape her.

people looked to her as distraction.

she was salvation.

wanting to look past the sky glow.

i however could have lived in it.

inside the light no one else understood.

we both could have lived in the house of her light.

the roof sturdy,

the windows glared,

the walls bricked and stout.

it could have been our home,

the stars would have shut out

we would be together,

forever wading in

her celestial soul.

***

This piece was written about a girl I had the pleasure of dating this Summer. I experienced and learned a lot of new things from being with her for the short amount of time I was with her, but this Summer is really one I will never forget, and I was glad that I could share it with her. She’s now in Ecuador serving a mission, but I wrote her this poem as a farewell gift and we still remain close friends.

As you can see from my other pieces, light is a huge theme I enjoy writing about. It seems very common to just call a girl “like light” and just get away with it. Not further explaining your intentions, context, or meaning behind what light means to you. I, however, really wanted to be all Jesse McCartney Beautiful Soul type shit about it.

The idea of light competing with other light intrigued me as well. The fact that artificial light drowns out the brightness of other stars in the sky was an idea that included extensive research with one Google search, which was incorporated into the poem to the best of my abilities.

This notion of light is different because people see light pollution as an inconvenience, where the poet sees it as “misunderstood” and lively. However, we can all interpret light in different ways. I could call a girl “weightless” and “empty” comparing to light, or I could call a girl “bright” and “exuberant” in another instance.

It’s definitely okay to contradict the way you see the same things in your different pieces. In one of my other poems, I talk about artificial light in a very shallow context. Explaining how natural light truly shows someone’s true colors, while artificial lighting covers what is truly on the surface.

I wrote this poem for a girl who I felt was a flickering flame on Earth, but burned brighter among the rest and managed to dim the bright sky. Thank you, Sarah.

– Chris

Eye of the Storm

I believed every word. Every syllable that escaped  her lips. “How did I get so lucky?” She said to me, with her pale fingers just grazing over my cheeks. “I’ve been given something that should only be given to someone only once in their life, and I’ve kept it for 4 years now.” She said to me, with the sunlight from the window across the bed hitting her freckled face. I smile like an idiot, and she waits for her turn to do the same.

We stayed in bed for what seemed like forever. Both in our most fragile and vulnerable state. Our clothes lay on the floor, and our eyes lay on one another. The blue bed sheets that covered just two-thirds of our bodies were wrinkled and weren’t being tended to. There was no noise, except for the wooden ceiling fan above us flying that crackled every second.

Our bodies were facing each other so that we could both admire the one thing we’ve been looking at throughout most of our high school years. The room was illuminated by the 5 o’clock sun peering out through the one window in the room. The sunlight pouring through the cracks of the curtains made it seem like even the sunlight wanted to come into the room and see how beautiful she was in this moment. I was the lucky one.

Everything stood still for just that moment, and everything seemed so safe and guaranteed. We were in the eye of the storm. It seemed like everything in the world was moving and being thrown around us. All the while she and I were safe. We were no longer a part of something big, but something that had a mutual promise. I could wake up tomorrow, and have this all over again. Isn’t that what we all look for? Isn’t that something worth living for?

“Stacy.” I finally said to her. “Please don’t ever leave me.” This wasn’t a demand, but an innocent wish. “I could have everyone else in my life leave me, but if you left me I wouldn’t know what I would do with myself.” I told her while I buried my face into the right side of her neck. “Please don’t leave me. I don’t want to leave this.” She began to caress the back of my head, and cradled me to reassure me.

“I won’t leave you. I won’t leave you.” She replied back to me, kissing my forehead.

“I love you so much. Don’t leave me.” I said to her, kissing up and down her neck. She kissed me on my lips.

“I’m here.” She said to me.

To this day, those two words ring clearly within my mind. I’ll always remember that day. That one day out of the many where we both lay in bed, and forgot about the world outside of us. I’ll remember the days that she stayed. Looking back, I never thought that the words she said to me were ever potential or temporary. Everything seemed so promising. Even when I draw back to these moments in time, I can mostly remember the silences that were exchanged between the two of us. All I could think of is how I could have filled those silences with words.

I remember the way she breathed. It was as if she could exhale between the spaces of stars, and all of the stars would align to form a pathway home. I’ll always remember that afternoon of just us. I’ll remember that feeling she gave me. I’ll cherish it forever.

***

I consider this piece my first ever “good” short story I’ve written. It was for a workshop for my Creative Writing course last Spring Semester and before that my two other pieces I consider complete and utter shit.

I wrote Eye of the Storm going in knowing that it will be very simple and short. Of course, my professor eased us to only write up to 2 pages per workshop, I wanted to really get the sensation that I can sort of write down what I have to say, then quickly wrap it up. That’s one of the biggest reasons why I love writing short stories as well. Quickly getting a point across, while at the same time giving character arcs and flow.

I also went in knowing the message I wanted to convey as well, with the setting being just in a bed shared by two people on an ordinary afternoon. You’re not given any history or any pre-determined way to judge this couple, but the reader knows that they’ve shared a lot more things than just that day in particular together, which is something that I hope translated well through words.

I wanted to focus mainly on the narrator and his experiences with this girl he’s lying next to as well. Honestly, I really really fucking hate how I had to give the girl a name because I feel like names should only be used when presented in constant dialogue, and this piece I feel didn’t necessarily call for that. In many ways, the dialogue is short burst, spontaneous, and messy. But honestly, after having sex you say some stupid shit. But in reality, it is honestly the feelings and emotions that drive this piece into what it really is for me.

The idea of where they were being an eye of the storm is just a simple metaphor where there was chaos between them, then calmness, and then chaos afterward where the narrator insinuates they begin to drift apart. But also, the eye of the storm was always worth returning to and remember because we always seem to look right into the middle of things when we ponder back to the past. Looking right into the eye of the storm is a lot clearer and easier than seeing into the murky storm that we all had to fight through.

– Chris

12 Times I Thought About Calling You

  1. I was drunk.
  2. It was your birthday.
  3. It was my birthday.
  4. It was Tuesday.
  5. I was watching Kill Bill Vol. 1 and I watched the scene where Lucy Lu beheaded the businessman for undermining her authority. You always hated gore in movies.
  6. I forgot what your voice sounded like, and for a second I wanted to hear your automated voicemail and see if it was full or not.
  7. For a time my car would sputter whenever I drove uphill, and you said it was a problem with my engine. I just had to get my tires rotated. I wanted to tell you that you were wrong. That I was finally going uphill correctly.
  8. You were right about my friend Jason.
  9. I was walking around Winter Park, and they chopped down all of those big trees that you were able to walk inside and climb. I remember one time we were climbing and I scraped my knee and I desperately wanted to find it, because what’s the point of feeling pain when you don’t have the evidence of it being there in the first place?
  10. I finished the entire series of “Dexter” by myself, and I had to find something else to do.
  11. I slowly grew my collection of vintage Tomas the Tank Engine metal figurines that I started 6 years ago during sophomore year of high school. I found every set, every engine, every locomotive, every track that I needed. I sold it online to this man that lived in Deltona. It’s gone now. I didn’t need my collection once I found all the pieces that I needed. My collection grew too quickly. I found everything easily. I’m trying to find something to spend the money on. It was supposed to be for an engagement ring. It sounds a tad ridiculous: a child’s play thing helping me purchase a symbol of marriage. But aren’t we all constantly sacrificing a piece of ourselves that seemed juvenile, only to obtain something that seems much more mature and lasting? But how can we forgive ourselves when we lose the person we used to be, and begin to hate the person we thought would make us happy? What do we do when we regret the things we left behind to become who we are now?
  12. The other day I bought your favorite book, and placed it in my bookshelf. It sits there waiting to be read. One day, I’m going to forget about it and find it covered in dust. I hope that sometime in the near future, I’ll take it out of the bookshelf and say to myself “Why did I even buy this book?” and then I’ll throw it away along with the rest of the dusted forgotten things that reminded me of you.

The Definition of Us

Begin [bih-gin] verb – to proceed to perform the first or earliest part of some action.

Beginnings are the only things that ever make sense. It’s the middle that always complicates things, and endings always make you think back to where it all began just so you can try to make sense of it again.

I remember us, and how we began. I remember the words “Yes” and “Finally.” Those words are the ones that began us. I remember the words we shared together. The words that I let hit my eardrum and run through my veins. Words that pumped blood into my heart. Words that kept me warm at night before the lights turned out. Words that brought me back home.

Light [lahyt] noun – something that makes things visible or affords illumination.

She was light. She lit up the corners of a dark room that the sun missed. She enters my room at a time when it was at its darkest. She follows along the walls of picture frames that are shadowed. She brightens and shines on them to reveal the faces of unknown people that were photographed. She gives them purpose and identity. Distinction and recognition. She walks around my room, and reveals things I never noticed before she came. Like extra space that could be used for blanket forts, some more space where she can linger for a time, and the scent that follows you after you blow out a candle in the dead of night. She does this, before moving on and giving light somewhere else.

Us [uhs] pronoun – the objective case of we, used as a direct or indirect object.

See also Home.

Home [hohm] noun – the place in which one’s domestic affections are centered.

You said you never had a stable one. I said to you “I’ll be your home,” even when I was shifting sands. You brushed against my shoulder, like a wave crashing onto rocks, and you laid your head on me. The tips of your long hair met the front of my eyes, like a sunset over the horizon that never fell off the edge. In that moment, I realized that you were my shoreline. You were my promised sunset and collection of calm sands. You were my home too.

Smile [smahyl] verb – to assume a facial expression indicating pleasure, favor, or amusement.

You had a tooth you always hated. It was a slight displacement and sharpness of your right front tooth, the one that haunted you every time you looked in the mirror. It kept me in your orbit. All other smiles that were given to me were full of security and confidence, but never honesty. I see the way you present this imperfection to me, and I couldn’t feel more at peace.

I remember always saying to you how not even our Solar System was perfect. The planets are never aligned, comets and asteroids become lost, and stars fade once they’re dead. But we always find beauty in the things that are imperfect and don’t make sense.

Laugh [laf] verb – to express mirth, pleasure, derision, or nervousness with an audible, vocal expulsion of air from the lungs.

Her laugh was wildfire. She could fill an entire forest of green with her laughter. It was uncontrollable and beautiful. Destructive and intrusive. It would spread and recede. Grow and develop. Her laughter opened the doors to desire, and closed the windows to wisdom. Because after hearing it, you feel as if you could read the periodic table forwards and backwards by heart. You felt as if her laugh had its own place on the periodic table. After hearing it once, you feel as if you knew everything there is to know in one lifetime. I still hear her laugh through the wind that passes through trees, and I find calmness in it. Even though it burns me.

Kiss [kis] verb – to touch or press with the lips slightly pursed, and then often to part them and to emit a smacking sound, in an expression of affection, love, greeting, reverence.

You said you were having a bad day, and I wanted to make it better. We only just kissed each other’s cheeks for two weeks because we wanted to take it slow. You said “Bye” to me as you were leaving for your next class, and I pecked you on the lips unexpectedly. You were surprised.

It hit me like lightning. I felt my dead bones come to life. Veins I never knew that ran through my body filled with blood. I became conscious to the dew on the grass, and I found new colors in the spectrum. Your kiss contained oxygen, carbon, hydrogen, nitrogen, calcium, and phosphorus: all the elements that make up the human body. It wasn’t until that day that I realized that I didn’t just need those six elements to live my life completely.

Forever [fawr-ev-er] adverb – without ever ending; eternal

We promised this to each other. It was the night after our second homecoming dance. I was driving you home. We were both just 16 and 17 years old. We thought forever existed outside of the Beach Boys song we sang to each other that night. We felt like forever was guaranteed through words that we said to each other every day, and the way we smiled at each other after we would take turns biting out of a Cuban sandwich we were eating and some of the toppings would leave residue on the side of our mouths. We found it in each other.

Trust [truhst] noun – reliance on the integrity, strength, ability, surety, etc., of a person or thing; confidence.

Something I wish you gave more to me.

Your last relationship ended in you being hurt. I let things slide for a little bit, but I felt prisoned. You kept me in your sunlight, but never let me out of your orbit. At times, I felt like your gravitational pull pushed down too hard on me.

You said that you just never wanted to share me, in fear of losing me. You never had to share me. Nobody shared the sunsets that radiated off the tips of your hair, or the lightning that pulsated through our veins.

Family [fam-uh-lee] noun – a basic social unit consisting of parents and their children, considered as a group, whether dwelling together or not.

You said you were jealous of mine. You wish you had one yourself. I wanted to tell you that you did have one. It was one phone call away, and can easily be found again with an “I’m sorry.”

End [end] noun – the furthermost imaginable place or point.

We said we would see a lot of things together, but never the end.

Time [tahym] noun – duration regarded as belonging to the present life as distinct from the life to come or from eternity.

Something I wish we had more of. We had a lot of it together. Too much sometimes. But it was our time, and it ended because we both lost that spark. Maybe we’ll find it again, or maybe we can both catch lightning in a bottle with someone else. I just hope my lightning passes through your subconscious every once and a while. Even if it’s just momentarily when you’re eating food at the dinner table, or if it’s for hours on end when you lay in bed.

Change [cheynj] verb – to make the form, nature, content, future course, etc., of (something) different from what it is or from what it would be if left alone.

You were changing. I wasn’t. You changed without me. It was like a star dying. When the Crab Nebula exploded, many people on Earth still perceived it as a dot in the sky. It took astronomers many centuries to later discover that the star had imploded and become weightless light, travelling now on its own. I didn’t see you collapse.

Loss [laws] noun – deprivation from failure to keep, have, or get.

Forward [fawr-werd] adverb – toward or at a place, point, or time in advance; onward; ahead.

It’s hard to move forward when there’s so much to look back on. I look back and try to see where it all went wrong. When did the sun finally set? When did the spark fade? When did the lights go out? When did the sands begin to shift?

Conclusion [kuh n-kloo-zhuhn] noun – the end or close; final part.

Endings are never how you picture things to be. Endings are the only thing we have no control over. I remember one time we both said what would happen if it all would end. We were sitting on the hood of my car after our high school graduation dinner. We had parked in front of a lake, where the stars were looking down at us. The only thing that was visible was the glare from the lake that came from the headlights of my car and the lightly painted coat of white on the grass that came from the moon. We were still in our graduation gowns, but we decided to throw our caps into the lake together, so that someday we could come back and try to find them again. I like that word: Again.

We stayed underneath the purple Indian-Summer night sky and talked about the potentials and inevitable. The impossible and the nearly forgotten. We were together for 3 years at that time, and we promised that if things ever became different that we would still be close, and we would never hate each other. I kissed her on the lips, and I opened my eyes to see my sunset again. I tell her I could never hate someone that I shared so many years with, and that The End is far away from us. I draw in closer to her, while we both still sit upright on the hood of my car. I put my arm around her, and say “I never knew how forever felt like, until I held it in my arms.” She buries her head into my chest, and I make sure her ocean waves didn’t recede from me. I kept her close and never let her go, like wind being caught into a sail on a sailboat.

I told her that I sometimes forgot what the moon looked like. I tell her it’s because the moonlight was always too busy lighting up her face for me to pay enough attention to it. We both look up at the moon and see that it was crescent. We both begin to talk about how we shouldn’t have thrown our caps in the lake, but we should have thrown them high enough in the air so that the moon would catch them and land perfectly on its pointed end. If we did this, then we would have to go to the moon together one day and get them back. She looked at me, and said “Someday, we’ll find them together.” I like that word: Someday.

She kisses me on the lips, and she began to laugh with her lips still touching mine. When she laughed, the wind began to pick up. For the next five seconds all I could hear were the trees rustling, the grass grazing, and her laugh. It all seemed orchestrated together to make the perfect sound.

I wasn’t on Earth anymore. I wasn’t in the Milky Way Galaxy. I was far away from anything familiar outside of us. I was watching the sunset gazing at the night sky. I have never felt so bright in the darkness. I was there. We were together. We were home.

Stranger [streyn-jer] noun – a person with whom one has had no personal acquaintance.

See also Us.

Euphoria [yoo-fawr-ee-uh] noun – a state of intense happiness and self-confidence.

See also Us.