August 31, 2009

Origin of the Longest Breath

You did not look up as I passed. Your eyes were concentrated on your homework, and I could only see the top of your head and your jeans, but I knew it was you. I was humbled in your presence, lowering my ears and tucking my tail away. Without a word I excused myself and continued on towards the restroom.

How long ago was our last civil talk? How long had I been deprived of your smile, voice, and witty ideas? Too long. It was so sad that the silence between us remained as solid as a titanium wall, separating us with a breadth of three feet. Unconsciously, my feet skirted the outer rim. My steps became slightly absurd, adding a little bounce so that the zippers on my backpack jingled against each other.

Look at me! Look at me! They whined. Forgive me and return. I am so lonely.

However, you seemed to be busy, your icy blue eyes refusing to give even the slightest joy. In two more steps I stopped bouncing. A heavy weight of disappointment left bitter tastes of anger and embarrassment rotting in the back of my throat. My face flushed, but the turtle-neck shirt I was wearing was very warm. That was it. In the bathroom, I washed my face and pumped myself like a fighter in the ring. I was preparing myself for the next round.

I pushed the door of the restroom open and exited, my heart steeling itself. It was ready to see you again, to ignore you like you did to me for a year. My resolve met nothing.

I paused and stared at the seat cushion. Just air? It can't be! I whipped my head back and forth in a frenzy of hair and rubber bands. I was only in the bathroom for a couple of minutes! But no matter how I reasoned that a body absorbed in an important activity would never leave that said activity so readily, you were not there.

A cold, discarded cushion remained, the heat from your touch dwindling until it was a cushion without a purpose. An upholstery. No one finds an interest in just a seat cushion, and it didn't even look comfortable. Already, people regarded it as useless without a person of interest occupying it. It was the scenery. No. Even less than the scenery, an object taking up space that could very well be used by something more flamboyant or charming. Instead, they were stuck with a stupid, cheap, brownish-red seat cushion.

I sat down. In one moment, I had been struck dumb. Everything I had learned up 'til that point in time was forgotten, except you. How much I missed you, thoughts of how you were feeling whenever you saw me, and the pain of your neglect mixed together in a bitter emotion that was too big to describe, still is too complicated to represent accurately. You no longer cared about me.

That was what hurt more than the arguments we had and the angry emails we sent to each other. That was what stapled my feet to the ground, stuck between a Heaven of possibilities and a Hell of doubts. Flipped upside-down on a rotating platform, I was burning in Hell.

It was the longest second of my life, followed by the longest breath--spanning the subconscious, the Higher Forms of things, the mechanical restrictions of society, the delicate fabrication of the universe, the indistinct realm of fantasy, and at last returning to the lungs of a young woman wishing she was three hundred miles away in a land of certainty and love.

With all the riches of Life, the breath rejuvenated my spirits. God was saying, "Drink." And I drank. My aching muscles leapt forth and I stood, taking a step away from the seat. It was a husk of a chair now, leaving the Idea of Chair to wander about in the minds of man forever and ever.

I was free. Amen.

August 30, 2009

Dejected Corpse

A body lays on the side of highway 131, which stretches from Northern Michigan to the Indiana Toll Road. Already three days past its last breath, maggots and flies feast on the punctured rib cage, broken by the force of a warped society. Such a quick ending it had been, but without the body the bugs would've had to eat leaves for dinner.

The Catholic school uniform with horrid pinstripe socks have been worn for the last time, bloodied and fraying at the edges already. The victim of a cerial killer, Michigan's temperament, and human carelessness all at the same time. Evergreens wilt, and after the last rain fall, the skeleton is half-submerged in mud. Pine needles decorate its grave. Its bony knees drag down centimeter by centimeter, back to whence it came.

The color of freshly revealed bone is not white, but ivory like freshly-grown wheat, with skin of beet sugar and hair of corn fields. With the stench of sulfur mines and blood of rusted automobile parts. Seconds after death, it expelled its last remains in a small puddle that mixed with mud and cigarette butts. The shit of the country.

And still no one comes looking for the bones that had once been a person. The crapheap that had once been a home. The state that had once been respected.

The only ones who are thankful are the maggots and the flies.

August 29, 2009


There you are. You knead my arm with your little paws, your pink tongue scratching skin. The purr you make melts into your breath, escalating and descending in a loud rrrr... rrrr... Your body is an engine, and your legs the wheels. After doing donuts on the carpet, chasing after your own tail, you are tired. So, you rest beside me. Of all places.

You're half awake, eyes black lines against puffy gray fur. Claws half outstretched in pursuit of your dreams. Body curled up in a crescent shape, the dark side of the moon. Out of your ears sprout white hairs and I poke them just to be annoying. Your ear flicks back but you don't lose concentration from your well-deserved rest. Don't disturb me, I'm sleeping.

As I flip the page, your ear twitches again and you open your eyes a sliver, enough to see glints of dusty yellow.

What are you doing?

I am looking at you. As my hand cups around your head and scratches behind your ears, you purr again. The ends of your whiskers brush me and you fall back asleep.

August 28, 2009

Heading Home

Using the same road, I cut through five different towns in thirty minutes--Sandusky, Perkins, Milan, Avery, and Norwalk.

In Sandusky it was surrounded by old residential houses, with a rundown recession look to them. The buildings were mostly white and decrepit, except for the Firelands hospital. That building preened its pristine glass windows at the neighboring hovels, a skyscraper among bamboo huts. Then I passed the hospital and the road split into two.

Perkins started at Perkins St., a heavily congested road that intersected with another. The way was packed with Cedar Point tourists bustling about to get to cheap restaurants before heading back to the roller coast of Ohio. I passed a fellow CP employee blasting his music out of his red sports car, and a mom shouting at her children to stop hitting each other. Bikers roared by, turning in front of traffic moments before the light turned red. Both lanes were backed up past three lights. Most cars got into the right lane to get around the traffic heading to the mall, but I knew better than that. The right lane headed to the highway.

After crossing underneath the highway, the speed increased from 40mph to 55mph. Cars heading to the turnpike jumped ahead of the pack, mine among them. We were in Milan now. Nothing but plains and trees as far as the eye could see. The only major building was Kalahari Resorts, a dangling limb of Sandusky that vied for the tourist's attraction. An indoor water park simulating the hot African savanna. So out-of-place compared to its countryesque, cornfield surroundings.

Then the wheels change their tune as they crossed a wide bridge, heading into Norwalk. They hummed. Countryside gained more and more buildings until it became a large town. A post office sprouted up, and then a bank, followed by a small grocery store. The city library napped right across from a local auto-repair shop. The Office Bar, home of the best Karaoke in town, was just down the street from Brian's Buffet, the best Chinese buffet in town.

Swinging with the rhythm of the tires, the turtle-shaped air freshener exuded an intense scent of artificial sea. Boxes in the back shifted as the car stopped abruptly at a light, knocking one of them over with a loud thud. Whistles from the air filter and the sputtering of the exhaust pipe echo the car's new song. I am home, it said. The light turned green and the tail lights flared out like red butterfly wings. I am home.

August 25, 2009

Back to Books Blues

The summer has ended. U-Hauls across the world are revved to head over to colleges distant and near, dodging congested city traffic, crossing exotic countryside, crunching gravel, and treading water. Friends met three months ago say goodbye as quickly as they said hello. In between cornfields and a beet plantation, a moving van exits a little town called Auburn--not Auburn Hills--jumping onto M-20 heading West. It was followed closely by a squat 1998 Oldsmobile Cutlass loaded with various odds and ends. The two vehicles swerve in and out of lanes on an uninterrupted path to Grand Rapids.

" 'You had better get everything out of the basement and into your new house,' " her mom had said.

Easier said than done. Nine boxes, four totes, a set of shelves, dresser, bed, bed springs, bed frame, lamp, suitcases, and various loose articles had to be sifted through, organized, and loaded onto the truck. Once reaching Grand Rapids, they had to be lugged off the truck, up a flight of stairs, and down the hallway to her new room.

A bright yellow room. It has only one window that took up one-third of the far wall, facing out onto the street. With brown carpet it looks pretty drab, but it is clean and big.

C'est la vie! She drops the first box of many, letting gravity do the rest, until an abrupt collision with the ground stops it cold. It produces an echoing thud. Crossing the room in five strides, she opens the blinds and lets the late summer sun shine through. Sickening yellow turns into rich creamy butter, and she decides to leave the blinds open forever.

"Mom, you don't have to help me unpack, you know." She slides a book from the top shelf to the middle shelf to make room for more books, "You won't make it back in time for dinner."

"I know. Oh well, the boys will have to survive without me."

Another box is opened with a house key. It is more books. She sets them over by the shelves and jumps over the rest to get to the closet. The clothes are in the totes, and they still have an entire car filled with junk.

She sighs and checks her cell phone. It was past five o'clock. Austin was working already. It took thirty more minutes to get everything out of the car and into the house, and by then both mom and daughter were sweating and aching to take a shower.

"I guess that's it."

"Yeah, you better be going, Mom."

The mother hugs her daughter and kisses her on the cheek, "Be careful."

"You too."

"Oh, I know how to drive. Don't worry about me."

The daughter waves farewell and before the moving van is out of sight she turns to walk down her driveway to the back door. She could never watch them leave. When she had to part with someone she loved, her back was turned and her face hidden so that they couldn't see her cry.

C'est la vie.