stories

The One I Let Go…

At sixteen we inked our skin in matching tattoos, tripped on the music of all kinds, rock, the blues, the jazz. We smoked blunt after blunt, drank till I smelled death on my breath. We made love everywhere, in the alleys, in the unfinished buildings. We taught each other to speak in tongues. My obsession with that perfect Spiderman kiss had you hanging upside down from the branch. We pierced tongues, wore more bracelets and wristbands. You took pictures of everything, videos, and commentaries on your clunky camera. The Enfield from 1965 that you neither had the papers or even a driving permit. The scar on your nose etched by my nail.

This one evening where we sat by the sea, and I tell you, I am confused about who I am supposed to be. You asked me to close my eyes and visualize where on earth do I see myself at the age of thirty. ‘At my book signing,’ I replied without a moment’s hesitation. You always saw me as a Bohemian writer, reading cards for people, learning esoteric arts, worshipping the nature. I saw you as a travel photographer, filmmaker, non-committal, traveling the world.

Our travels were a classic comedy in itself. That day on the bus where you turned up stoned, and I was a clown on a sugar rush. We struggled to convey the ticket collector our destination between my splits of laughter. That other time when the bus was full of transgender folks and only us. The man/lady turned to get a good look at us several times because she was distracted by our crazy conversations. On the bridge, you challenged me to be quiet till we crossed the other river which was ten minutes away from the current one. I lost that challenge in a couple of minutes only to laugh louder. I don’t remember a word of what we said to each other, but that laughter still rings in my head.

The 18th birthday you turned up in your beat up old Zen which is our all-time favorite car. You still tease me about how I drive a Zen even today. I wouldn’t still let my folks sell it. You went on about how you believe women can do anything, and you didn’t like it when I called myself a ‘chick.’ ‘You are a woman, now drive this car,’ you said. I wonder if you remember how I over-sped on the national highway then 17. You screamed when I kept overtaking at close gaps, you were freaked out, and I clocked 25km in 25min. We almost died that day when you passed a bus, and there was a truck ahead of us. You forgot to maneuver because you got distracted by ‘oh my god, we are dying’ expressions. You kissed me on my cheek as I left for home that night.

Three days later, you disappeared. There was no way to reach you, and as much as I tried, I couldn’t get a hold of you. All my calls went unanswered, messages unread. I soon left to another city without a goodbye. A few weeks later I learned that you lost a friend to the sea at your birthday party that I skipped. We were so young; I didn’t know what to say. You didn’t want to talk, and you were always angry, and I moved away.

I started writing a few years later, and I wrote a story about us, and you called me as you read it. You were a major in communications, and I was a reluctant engineer. I moved back home 8years later heartbroken, miserable and lost. You turned up again, and we were on the road still on the NH -17 now renamed to 65. Why would they change that?

We drove along the entire coast, and at the delta point, you broke the news of your wedding. You had a steady desk job because you wanted to be responsible. You took me home and showed me your room. It was full of your paintings, believe me, I’d have bought every one if I only had the money. You hugged me, held me tight when I was about to leave. I crashed into a million pieces at that moment. You were that rest house amidst the storm that was drowning me.

Six months later, a night before your wedding we sat on the roof again ready to get wasted. ‘Your writing lacks that passion now,’ you said, ‘that fire that burned.’ ‘Well, what the hell is this desk job nonsense?’ I counter-accused him. ‘You were always that daredevil, I am not’ you said.

You asked me about my tattoos. The mini-spacecraft we had in common on our left arm, on your wrist and my ring finger. We were going to fly out of the town, weren’t we? Wasn’t that the plan. I had one more that went down my spine, Veni.Vidi.Amavi etched in precise italics. I took off my t-shirt to show you. You moved your finger along my spine, like the old time and we almost kissed. ‘Come with me,’ I insisted, whispered in your ears, ‘No, I can’t leave this town,’ you said. ‘Stay back’ you insisted, whispered in my ears. ‘This town makes me want to run away,’ I said.

I sleep on the roof that night, and I don’t know when you left. I wake up at four the morning of your wedding, and it hits me. There is no way to make this work, and I leave the town all over again. Only this time, I will not return.

They tell me, ‘but you are still young, you could find a way to make it work.’ ‘TRUE, BUT I AM NOT 16 ANYMORE,’ I only scream it out loud inside my head.

stories

On the verge…

We lived on the hill; the plains were already flooded. The house suddenly looked like a riverfront. Electricity was knocked out to avoid hazards. The rain started the day I was packed and ready to leave. He had nothing to say. I didn’t want him to say anything, that was the thing about me, I’d annoy people for explanations until I didn’t. Then, I’d stop engaging. No questions, no conversations. But the flood situation was getting worse forcing us to coexist but in silence.

We hadn’t spoken a single word to one another, and this somehow baffled my dog Caesar who kept looking at me as if to ask if I had lost the ability to talk. The cat sprawled as usual at the sofa, both of my pets were agitated and wanted to go out for some air, but the rain was just relentless. Caesar wanted to hunt all the reptiles it could see from the window and kept barking at it while I sat with it and stared at the waterfall outside my window. All that separated us from what we wanted was a massive life-sized window.

He slept through the day making appearances only at the table for food and some evenings we’d read in silence. He was reading ‘Analog Electronic Circuits,’ I hated that book. Hate is a lesser word to magnify the degree of dislike I had for the book. The book was pure evil. It took me three attempts to clear the subject. It reminded me of the dark time where I almost chose to instead sell my soul than to writing that paper again. I wanted to snatch the text and hurl it down the hill so that the floods could carry it away. I always stared at him with more disdain. He knew it would get to me and he exactly wanted that. He wanted me to react, and I wasn’t going to walk into the trap.

Today, however, I decided to clean the room finally and entered what used to be our bedroom after months. I sat around layers of dust as it poured outside. There was a musky odor to the room. The books shelves had changed colors. Only two things were spotlessly clean in the room, our picture and the bean bag on which he was fast asleep with the same book on placed on his chest. I took a cold hard glance at him, he who used to be my husband. I wondered if I could strangle him at the moment. I bent over very close to his face as if to read it.

The thing with men is no matter how fearless they look when they are conscious; are just harmless and naive when asleep as if they transform into the little boys looking for warmth. Their hearts beat at a faster pace as if they are anxious about their mothers leaving them behind. I suppressed the urge to feel his face. I was angry and cold but somewhere deep within I wanted to hold his face one more time.

He woke up startled to find at proximity to his face with a broom in one hand and a duster in another. ‘Am I going to die?’ he quizzed. ‘You wish,’ I retorted as I snatched the book and flung it across the room. He grabbed my hand and twisted it until my palm changed color due to the blood block. I continued looking him in the eye. The battle was on, and I wasn’t going to let him win. I had learned this when a dog chased me on my way home because I looked it in the eye. I saw the rage in its eyes and was petrified. It was later it hit me that I was the intimidating one whereas he was the reactive one. It feared me. It changed the way I looked at humans. I provoked them whenever I felt like it. Provocation brought forth vulnerability, in this case in the form of anger for anger was blind, blinder than love.

Does love turn toxic in the long run or is that which turns toxic is not love. The idealists define love as something that is immortal whereas the dreamers don’t think the golden days ever end. What about us cynics? The romantic cynics that idolize love but don’t trust people.

When we started, we were both young, ambitious, like water, tearing apart anything that’s in our way. We were elemental souls, the one that could either light up the sky or destroy the world. They envy us because we smell all lemongrass and honey on good days. But on the days we remain concealed from the world, we reek of alcohol and gunpowder, some TNT and nicotine. While we look all rainbows and butterflies, we are just playing a deadly game of Russian Roulette. I mean we chose this. We talked about this, and we wouldn’t settle for anything less. So it is choices and consequences.

He held my throat and pushed me down the bean bag. ‘Enough,’ he said as he applied pressure on my throat. My eyeballs looked like they were bursting out of the socket, so clear from the reflection in his eyes. ‘Close them now,’ he screamed in a manner that threatened Caesar who started barking at the door. I smiled at him seconds before gasping for breath. Caesar had sharp ears like any other canine. It started howling and barking louder coming for the door.

As I opened my mouth for air, he breathed into mine releasing his hold, and at the moment all the oxygen I needed came from him. He tightened his grip over my left ear and the edge of my face as he felt insides of my mouth that were now as dry as my throat. He flicked his tongue as if it were a magic wand, several swishes later it slowly started coming to life again and I could feel his lips over mine. It hurt as they bled through the cracks, he tasted everything that flowed at the moment. I wondered if it burned his throat as it did me. I slowly shut my eyes as my lips twitched and bled as if it was an orgasm of my face. They say you don’t realize the extent of heat until it pours and you see smoke emanating from the tar on the road. Only as it pricked, I knew how I much I longed for a touch. Caesar somehow seemed to be embarrassed and retreated.

He pulled my sleeves off my shoulders and dug his teeth into my skin till I pushed him away. He always clenched it around my skin as if he was asserting a point. He moved his tongue around the teeth marks, that was when it hit me that he was trying to suggest that he knew his way through the most intimate crevices of my skin. I curled my toes around the ties of his lowers, as I slid them down. If it was a fight, I wanted to ready for combat, even if it meant throwing the first grenade. He pulled the fabric in one swift motion as its palms rested in the center of my chest to keep me steady as he buried his face between my legs.

Sex is a physical manifestation of a soul connection that transcends the mind. It is better known as making love, where two or more come together to blend with the universe, maybe that is why sex is about breathing deep, all the way in and out. It is where two energies collide to form a formidable union that connects sacral bonds that also connects the life that is born out of this meeting. But the challenge is dissolving resistance between minds. When it came to us, it was always me, the resistant one and he was the voltage that kept the current flowing.

His stubble pricked around as he paced around my being. I anchored partly to his hair while my palm pushed him away. More I wanted him away, the more I wanted him closer. He persevered until I clenched my legs together and finally threw him out. He could sense at the moment that I was losing my strength, the power was on the verge of surrender. I struggled my way up and pushed him on the bed as the dust flew like phosphenes around the room. It was my turn at the wheel, and we were going to cruise all the way up the sky. Somedays it’s either space or crash-landing, nothing in between.

‘You know where you belong?’ I whispered as he raised his eyebrows. ‘In the void,’ I said as dragged him all the way in like a strong blunt that hits you right in the throat. We swayed as the rain lashed outside the window, and broken twigs flew around, and the water level rose. Now musky odor of our bedroom just mixed with sweat, blood, a tinge of death combined with a brew of life that was in the making. My body controlled his; his face went pale as his hand gripped mine and he rolled his eyes up and hid his face in my hair as he shook. So close, so close to an actual stroke.

It all felt as if contact had been made with space and security clearances had arrived. He took flight as I shuddered partly in coming and partly in the cold. We lay there for the rest of the morning. The water level was rising at an alarming rate, and there was no way to escape other than being airlifted. But with all the communication cut off and being the only residents on the hill, there were fewer chances they’d come looking for us. But then and there, it didn’t matter, we had survived before, and we’d survive again.