Tag Archives: fiction

raspberries are red

It wasn’t a perfect day for weather — but it was a perfect day for Berlin.

 

Although, the rain did prove to threaten my plans for the day, you still wanted to meet.

 

I waited for you outside of our apartment building. Warschauer Strasse. One of the main hubs of Berlin, always bustling with busy bodies and enthusiastic drug induced tourists. The energy of the day was especially electric due to the kultural festival — an entire weekend filled with foods from all over the world and multiple music stages displaying local bands galore. I had been the previous night with friends, and ended up eating my life worth in Argentinian empanadas and pad thai.

 

My friends told me not to take you there, at least not to start off with. It was too loud for a first date — too chaotic. But I disagreed, I liked the noise, I liked the colors, the distractions from awkward conversation.

 

However, I took their advice. Instead, I suggested we started out with a photography exhibition from one of my favorite photographers, Mario Testino. I had already seen an installation of his in both Madrid and NYC.

 

So around 15:15 you finally met me outside. You were late, and I had counted on it. I was on time, and I’m never on time unless I’m nervous. But I needed the time to calm my nerves. Truthfully, I don’t know why I was wound up about it. I had spent time with you before, but in groups, and our flirtatious conversation and affectionate ambiguity had been taken lightly. I never let myself take romance too seriously. I don’t know if that’s because of my own insecurity or because I’m as laid back as I claim. Maybe, a mixture.

 

You looked nice though. You were in color — green and pink specifically. Mentally, I noted your favorite colors. I liked this about you, the vibrancy.

 

You smiled and we greeted, and then we were on our way.

 

The metro ride was particular. I couldn’t look at you, or else I would have just kept smiling like an idiot. So I never kept eye-contact with you for longer than normal. Plus, my uncomfortable habit of looking at someone in the eyes too long — I didn’t want to make things awkward within the first 10 minutes.

It took us about 30 minutes to get to the other side of Berlin, to the museum that hosted the exhibition. Turns out, the museum had the wrong address on their website and the installation was actually in a sister building about another 20 minutes away. However, by the time we would have gotten there, we wouldn’t have had enough time to see it properly.

 

“We’re going to laugh about this later in the future,” I noted, a bit disappointed.

 

“Why later? It’s funny now,” you answered back, with your dimpled smile.

 

So instead, we decided on having a drink, at a Mexican restaurant called Que Pasa.

 

Was I tempted to have a real drink, and by real, I mean alcoholic? Yes, absolutely. Especially since it was already 5pm. But I didn’t.

 

My desire to want to spend time with you sober superseded it. The times we had hung out together with our group of classmates had always somehow involved ending up drunk, and us walking home together. I’d walk you to courtyard between the both of our buildings just talking and star-gazing. Well, what little star-gazing you can do in a city of clouds — undoubtedly drunk. You even invited me into your apartment once, but I didn’t make a move. I didn’t want to and I also didn’t know what was going on. I just wanted to enjoy whatever was happening without moving too fast.

 

So I chose a Sprite instead.

 

You drank a hot chocolate.

 

And we talked about family and aspirations and school for a few hours over a loaded plate of nachos.

 

You told me you were a vegetarian for a few years of your life. So I found it ironic when you chose chicken to coat the chips. Well, we all have our guilty pleasures, I suppose.

 

Afterwards, I asked if you wanted to go to the festival and check it out. What I meant was — do you want to try all the food stalls with me and dance around and be fools together?

 

You aren’t originally from Berlin, but have lived here for a good four or so years, minus your year abroad in Korea. But you had never been to the festival. It’d be your first time too, and I was happy to experience this with you.

 

We walked around for an hour or so, before you decided on what you wanted to eat. A delicacy from Hungary — I can’t quite remember the name, but it’s their version of a pizza coated with garlic, a white yogurt sauce, and cheese — again, you also added meat: salami, this time. Said it reminded you of your father.

 

“You’re going to have to deal with me eating a lot of garlic… hope you don’t mind.”

 

I found the comment odd, but I didn’t mention it. Just said I wanted to try it how it’s meant to be eaten.

 

So we sat at the picnic tables put out beside the food stand, which was also placed right beside one of the many musical stages of the festival. It was a German group playing songs in many different languages. French, English, German.

 

We stayed watching them for 20 minutes or so, while you ate. We hardly spoke at all. But it wasn’t uncomfortable. In fact, it’s one of my favorite things to find in a person. when you can shut the fuck up with them and still have fun.

 

Once you finished, we got up to leave. I walked ahead of you into the crowd, while the band continued overhead playing a song. I didn’t understand the lyrics, but I figured it must be German since I couldn’t catch any French.

 

Then I felt your hand on my shoulder and I turned around to look at you.

 

“Kiss me now, and I will be in paradise in Heaven.”

 

I am sure the look on my face betrayed me. I’m not that great of a liar. So after a few seconds of looking into each other’s eyes, I blurted out, “What?”

 

“It’s the lyric they just sang,” you said, as you smiled casually and then led me out of the crowd.

 

I closed my eyes and followed you, wondering if that was what the song had really said — wondering if I had missed my chance.

 

But let’s be real. I didn’t know if we were on a date or not, honestly.

 

A few days earlier, we had gone on a picnic with my group of friends. I had invited you, and you accepted. There was lots of food and lots of alcohol — two of my favorite things. So naturally, we got very inebriated.

 

Afterwards, we walked from the park to my friend’s house to continue our day of fun. While we strolled to theirs, you and I somehow ended up side by side. I can’t quite recall what got us onto the topic but we had both mentioned how we wanted to hangout, but not get super drunk. Since the past few times had all ended very drunk, but that’s what happens in large groups of socialization.

 

“We should make a date out of it.”

I was pretty intoxicated at this moment already, but I remember it. The “date” word. It took me by surprise.

 

“Yeah, okay, we should.” Then I asked when and we were trying to figure it out, but got interrupted by our friends and their intruding conversations.

 

So when we finally decided to meet up, just us two, it was never explicitly stated if this was our date or not. I wasn’t even sure you remembered what you said, or if it was just drunken words, so I didn’t bring it up. I just thought I’d go out with you and figure it out during. If nothing else, I wanted to be your friend at least. 

 

That was a dumb idea — but also very brilliant because it took the pressure off of a label.

 

After eating, we decided to check out the parade. So we followed the crowd into the fray. You put your arm on my shoulder to keep hold of me. I was too nervous to grab your hand. I had told you previously in a different hang out how intimate holding hands was to me, possibly more important than kissing.

 

So I didn’t want to make you uncomfortable — even though we had already held hands in the club, but that was different. I was drunk and friendly then.

 

Now, I was sober and interested — and that’s a deadly combination, for me. Once we got to the street the parade was on, the crowd tightened. So we crossed the street to the other side to be on the less busy part, or so we thought. Once there, we realized how packed it was, too. I let you stand in front to see, and I stood behind you.

 

One of the first floats we saw represented Ghana. The truck had a DJ and many dancers in the back. And there was a massive following of Ghanaians dancing around the truck to afro-beats and their own mix of reggae. This excited the energy in the crowd. People were chanting in solidarity and enjoyment, and dancing around with bottles in hand. You turned to look at me, with the biggest smile.

 

“This is awesome, look at all the colors and dress they’re wearing!”

 

I grinned back at you in response, and for the life of me, I cannot remember how it happened. I know for sure I didn’t exclusively go for your hand.

 

But I know it wasn’t just you either.

 

It just happened.

 

And there we were, in the middle of a huge raging crowd, looking at each other, our fingers intertwined.

 

You turned back around, and I expected you to let go. But you didn’t. Instead you gave my hand a small squeeze, and we stayed that way for a long while, watching the rest of the parade. I couldn’t concentrate much anymore though.

 

All I could feel was the heat between our skin, and how nice it was to hold your hand — but also how confusing.

 

We decided to cross and go back to the festival grounds to get more food — as I hadn’t eaten yet and was getting hungry.

 

There was a knot in my stomach, but it wasn’t from hunger. I realized in this beautiful moment that it was the first time I have ever held hands with another girl openly. Without shame, without secrets, without guilt.

 

I’m 25 and before that Sunday, I had never held hands with another girl so freely. Not with my fling I had before I moved to Spain, and not with my almost 4 year relationship. Not with any of the girls I “dated” in between, either. I hadn’t felt comfortable enough with myself yet.

 

And here I was, holding hands with a beautiful girl. A girl who didn’t make me feel like I needed to hide what I felt.

 

And you know, her and I can turn out to be nothing. We could stop talking today and never speak again — and I will always remember this moment, and how she was and always will be part of a very important experience for me.

 

Maybe this is why holding hands is so intimate for me. Because I’ve never done it before with someone and it felt so… normal.

 

No one gave us weird looks, or ridiculed us, or said anything out of the ordinary.

 

But it was you, too. You didn’t pull back, or make it feel awkward. Just comfortable.

 

I can’t describe it properly, how it made me feel. Just that it felt so normal. It’s the first time in my life, I’ve felt like a girl who likes another girl and that’s normal.

 

I’m sure at the end of the night, I could have tried to kiss you.

 

I didn’t want to though. Why ruin the moment? It was enough for me, to have your hand in mine.

 

A little after midnight, we decided to go to a bar. One of my favorites. Madame Claude. I only had one beer — one. That’s it. At a bar, filled with alcohol. Guess I was enjoying you so much. You intoxicated me.

 

We stayed until about 4:30am, when we decided it was time to go home. Time had escaped me. I couldn’t believe we had spent nearly 14 hours together. I had mentioned it to you at the bar. How I had other plans just in case our hangout was awkward, and you told me the same. You had been out until 4/5am the past few nights and were really tired. And had you not been enjoying yourself, you would have used this as a reason to excuse yourself earlier.

 

We both laughed harder than we meant to, I think. It was good to know I wasn’t the only one nervous.

 

As we walked home, some random drunk guy asked you for sex in German. Said you guys could do it really fast. You scoffed and turned him down. But he kept trying to talk to you. I really didn’t understand anything at the moment, with my limited German skills.

 

But then I felt your hand slip through my arm, and you pulled yourself closer to me. I knew that feeling perfectly, without you having to explain. You felt safe around me, and kept your arm looped in mine. You walked close to me, on the way home. Eventually, dropping your arm to hold my hand instead.

 

“You’re comfortable to be around.” You said, before letting go of my hand so I could open the door for us.

 

We stood at the base of the stairs. Normally, I would walk you to the courtyard between our buildings up to your door to your building. I don’t know why, but I didn’t this time.

 

I just hugged you, and you held on to me for longer than a regular hug.

 

“I know you’re tired, so I’ll let you sleep.”

 

You smirked at me, and said breathlessly between us, “I had a really good time.”

 

“Me too.” I held your gaze for a few silent moments. Even in the dark, your blue eyes were crystal clear.

 

And then I watched you walk away — and I couldn’t help but wonder, if it was a date or not.

 

But I knew, even if it wasn’t, I’d always remember it for more important reasons.

Orion’s Belt

Tender

Art hated her name. It was a reoccurring thought she had many times, as daydreaming always seemed to lead back to this point. She couldn’t help it; she wasn’t one for attention — especially as a painter.

“You create art, yet hate Art.”

“Is that your real name, or some sort of starving artist alias?”

Once a boy had tried to charm her with, “You are Art.”

Regretfully after, she had let him kiss her.

Ironically, in one of her sketch journals, she had begun writing down all the quotes she had thus far heard from her name. On the cover, she had painted in angry bold blocked letters, “NOT ART.”

*****

Art sat in the bus, nervously. Her glorious yellow chariot seemed to be taking longer than normal to get to her destination. She rolled her eyes, half annoyed at her self, half impatient with the uncooperative weather. The rain drizzled patiently down the window beside her. She leaned her forehead against the cold, damp glass and watched each droplet race downwards. She tried to choose the bead of water that would make it all the way down the window first.

After a few unsuccessful attempts at trying to distract her thoughts, Art wondered what her visit to the doctor’s would entail.

She felt awkward about the situation. It wasn’t like she hadn’t been to the gynecologist before, for her annual checkups. But this was different. She thought further back to two weeks ago. The weather had been the same, it’s the only reason she could recall the memory so vividly. Embarrassingly enough, it had been her twin brother who had convinced her to take a pregnancy test. So there she was, locked up alone in his apartment while he was away at work. He had bought the test for her and had it set on the counter inside the bathroom.

Why the hell am I doing this? She had been repeating the question over and over to her self. But she took the test anyway, because she was sure of her virtue. Above all else, Art loved experience. However, her idea of experience seemed to differ from others. She admired the experience of not experiencing. Defiantly enough, she had initially rejected her brother’s help, claiming her status as a virgin proudly.

But the test came up positive, and her brother became negative about her declaration.

*****

“Nice book you’ve got there, Not Art.”

Art blinked over her dried eyes a few times, so that the person in front of her came to focus.

“Can I sit by you?”

Art nodded nonchalantly, and scooted over for her friend, Hades.

“What’s up Hade?” Art asked automatically, absentmindedly, anxiously.

“Going in for work, actually. This weather is kind of suiting, don’t you think?”

Art thought about it for a silent moment, and began laughing hysterically and uncontrollably.

Hade was a mortician — and he loved his name.

The Door

Avid

Uncertainty was her only certain emotion at the moment. Delphine stood stoic and still outside the familiar house, just a few steps away from the front door. She had been here plenty of times before, in her youth, and what to her, seemed like an imaginary lifetime ago. Her fingers nervously fidgeted with the hem of her shirt, unsure of what next to do with her hands. She had options: she could knock, or perhaps ring the doorbell, neither of which put her at ease. Instead, Delphine lit a cigarette. She turned her back on the house to face the street and inhaled her first drag of smoke, while closing her eyes. The taste lingered until it left her mouth dry, then travelled down her throat, finally coating her lungs in a warm blanket. Once she exhaled, she felt much noticeably lighter. She could do this, she thought, as she squeezed her eyes closed tighter, she could —

“Delphine, is that you? Hey, Delph!”

Delphine’s eyes fluttered open confused, as she dropped her cig. Shit, she muttered under her breath, while using the tip of her boot to smash out the ashes. When she finally looked up, there leaning against the old wooden mailbox was a familiar face she once called friend. Delphine attempted a sardonic smile, and waved him over excitedly, “It’s been awhile, Oliviero.”

He scoffed playfully, while walking up the driveway and towards Delphine with his arms open, “Oliviero huh? Who am I, my father?”

Delphine laughed and hugged her old neighborhood best friend, “I would have never recognized you, Oli. With your tie and suit! When did you become so serious?”

Oli took a step back away from Delphine, her shoulders still in his hands, to get a better look at her up close. He wanted to answer, “When you left.” But immediately decided against it, and instead responded with, “What are you doing back? Never thought we’d see you again.”

Delphine noticed the masked pain in his voice, and put her hand over Oli’s. She gave the back of his hand a small squeeze before both his arms dropped back to his side. Solemnly, Delphine answered instinctively with the first thought that came to her mind, “I never thought I’d be back either. Not — not, after Finley… well, you know.”

Oli winced at the surprising mention of Delphine’s deceased twin brother’s name. He managed a small forced smile, and rubbed the scruff on his face out of habit. Of course he knew, everyone knew, it was the tragedy of their small town. He could sense Delphine’s growing discomfort and redirected the conversation, suddenly realizing whose house they were lounging in front of, “So have you kept in touch with Catherine then?”

Delphine laughed nervously, and dodged his stare. She could hear the teasing in Oli’s tone of voice. “Not as much as I should have, apparently. What about you?”

“I’m actually working for her father’s firm, now.” Oli paused, and watched Delphine sway side to side, shifting her weight from one foot to the other. He wondered what she was thinking about. He wanted to ask, but he didn’t want her to shut him out so soon… again. However, he wanted answers, and he knew how to coax Delphine into giving them. “She’s getting married, you know.”

At this, Delphine perked up, a pang of pressure in her chest waiting to erupt, and met Oli’s crystal blue eyes. So it was true? Oli hesitated for a moment in the silence, and then asked what he had been itching to ask since the moment he saw Delphine, “She’s why you came back, right?”

Delphine opened her mouth to protest, to reassure herself she was only back in town to salvage her brother’s possessions before her mother sold her childhood home — but nothing came out. Instead, the creaking sound of the front door opening, interrupted the stillness, and Delphine heard Cat’s voice for the first time in three very long years.

“What the hell are you doing with her, Oli?”

lukewarm regret

Lukewarm

Cecilia stepped off the airplane and mindlessly followed the stream of travelers. The delay of her previous flight had given her more time to prepare for the inevitable family reunion, and thinking about it made her throat tight and suffocating. As she waited in line to pass through Passport Control, the last phone call with her dad resurfaced and repeated, echoing between her ears in earnest.

“Lia, baby, tell ya what, I’ll make your favorite pie and we can go for our morning walks like we used to if you just come home next month in August. I’ll even buy your ticket home. Don’t say anything yet, just think about it.”

She remembered the boyish pleading in his voice, combined with his uncanny knack for making her feel guilty. Unsuccessfully, she had tried to cut him off between each word, but his voice never faltered, and overpowered her own. The knot in her chest strained at the thought of her father’s incessant persistence. He had been calling so much lately, and it had resulted in her ignoring her phone for days at a time.

The officer waved her up next, and she fumbled with her passport in her hands before handing it over to him. His friendliness unsettled her, as he casually asked questions about her stay. He flipped through her passport, and stopped to look at her picture, then peered at her for an uncomfortable amount of time in silence. She was sure he was comparing the 2D version of herself with the dismayed person standing in front of him. For a moment, she forgot the jumbled mess in her head, and became impatient, unintentionally letting slip the annoyance in her voice of being stared at, “It’s me, I promise.”

His lopsided smile spread on the right side of his face lazily, “Welcome home then, Cecilia.” She couldn’t tell if she was being paranoid, but she thought she heard a hint of haughty sarcasm in his tone. Before she could respond, the officer had already motioned for the next person in line.

Her left hand gripped the handle of her luggage, as she followed the exit signs and passed through the doors beckoning her home. Her breathing was shallow, and her eyes darted around the area. She looked around nervously for whosever familiar face from her family was designated to pick her up.

She nearly jumped from the touch on her shoulder, and cringed from the unknown physical contact. Swiftly, she turned around and faced the person behind her.

Her defenses immediately dropped, and she found herself in the arms of her mother. The seasons of silence between them vanished, and a feeling of comfort warmed her shaking frame of a body. It surprised her how natural this felt. Cecilia’s banishment by her mother had been the reason for her long period of absence. However, if she was being truly honest with herself, it was her own lack of courage that had kept her distant. Neither of the two had ever quite figured out how to apologize to each other.

But with her father’s recent and untimely passing, Cecilia decided it was time to try.

Experience. 

I sat across from her over tea. The steam sneaking up towards the roof, a shroud of disguise for us both.

I couldn’t tell what she was thinking; and she wasn’t able to muster her thoughts into words.

We would always be like this, I concluded. A distance more terrible and miserable than miles and oceans combined.

Distressed, I shifted into my chair. When did we become this? Or is this how we had always been?

In the end, you tend to think about the beginning a lot.

And so the start is where we end.

“Time heals everything.” She managed to say softly across the table, her light ember eyes burning into mine.

It caught me off guard, still unabashedly astray in my own labyrinth of reflections.

That moment defined my heart. And I knew it instantly then — I could never be in love with someone who believes time is the great doctor of wounds. That all healing would pass with the motion of a second hand, on a mechanism that measures in circles. Because isn’t that ironic? Even time seems to end where it begins. Maybe it was time that would destroy us.

Sardonically, I contested with, “Only love can do that.”

We both laughed — feverishly hard. It was the epitome to our dual-sided relationship.

Heart deep, both romantics searching for the adventure of a lifetime — both too scared to be optimistic about an intangible force, so we feigned cynicism. Perhaps this was the reason we could never really work out, I knew — I wonder if she did, too.

My mind too wrapped up in the now, and her heart too obsessed with the future — a time and place that is yet to exist. And I didn’t do well with superfluous imaginations — at least, not ones of my own. We wanted separate things, and so our futures would undeniably find us separated.

And so I did the one thing I’ve only had to do once before.

I chose me — and time would not change that. 

  

I looked at her and I couldn’t grasp the disaster that had become us. I couldn’t understand and it was ironic because she was the one who had no conscience for her actions. I watched as her enraged eye lids fluttered and those devilish wrinkles around her eyes became valleys within the earth of her face. I wanted her planet to be filled with ever flowing rivers of water, but I knew it; and she knew it too; she hadn’t cried since she was 7, and a person like me wasn’t a god who could end a lifetime of drought. It suited her though, with her haughty temper and dry humor. I could tell from the way her skin moved across her face like an earthquake, an unsettling chain reaction that was both devastating and beautiful, that she was about to speak.  

“This world is not your permanent home, don’t get comfortable.”

Things she says I never can understand. She speaks as if she is Buddha’s mother, ’cause she enjoys my ill frustration with riddles. But one word did catch my attention. She had once called me home, her refuge, her safe place away from all the chaos. There were many things she once did in my name, but not anymore. The only time I hear my name now is after fuck you. 
  

Tone deaf. 

I held her hand throughout the ballet, whilst the soft melody of the piano turned the auditorium into a gloomy music box swirling with anticipation. A casual exchange of smiles passed between us in the darkness; and at that moment, my body felt like a burial ground and all my zombie like hairs were arising from their pore graves. I could only muster a tight clenched jaw and a polite nod back in her innocent direction. Happiness touched her bright eyes and and all warmth faded from my body. The experience of hypothermia of the heart is quite an exhilarating emotion.. because you feel none. 

But what I lacked in the perception of touch, I made up in far superior heightened hearing. Because of this I was accustomed to experiencing life in a much different way from others. Where they felt failure, the sound of opportunity called out to me, vibrations against my ear drums from a spinning fan in a living room annoyed me to no end on a daily basis, and simple sounds that soothed the soul like raindrops kept me on edge like gunfire shots. Perhaps that is why I was struggling to control my fright and excitement sitting here next to this devastatingly beautiful creature that I was about to ruin, holding her hand knowing I was going to destroy her smile.

Could you blame me, haven’t you too, ever wondered what sound a broken heart made?