Tag Archives: short story

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.

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? 
  

You became my Renaissance. 

I lacked the courage and the inspiration to become a great pianist, and perhaps laziness has played a fault in my decline of musical aspirations. It’s funny to me, I’d rather be surrounded by the successful and bask in their glory and accomplishments. 

Because being part of that meant everything to me. It meant being allowed in their presence sufficed my mental state of failure. The triumphs and prosperity of the company that allowed my presence enveloped my being with envy. 

My organ was just beating for the sake of motion, and my mind played tricks that I am victorious by association. A toneless instrument I had become before your harmony. 

And so when I met you, realize you came into my life at the most darkest of times in my composition. If my life were sheet music, I’d be the tone of minor; dark and melancholic. You, with your strong affirmation of living — my major. I was merely a shadow of the person you desired, and there are no words for the mask I used daily upon your grazioso. 

It was as if I celebrated Halloween every fucking day of my life, and let me tell you, dressing up for an unknown audience gets really old after awhile. 

So you began my change of tempo. I cannot tell you how grateful I am for the feeling of vulnerability. The idea that everyone is in love with, but is too scared to actually feel — because it’s the most frightening experience of your life. To let someone control every thought, every emotion, every breath of your being and hoping they don’t wrap their hand around your throat and suffocate your last dying breath of optimism, but instead — to feel the warmth of their palm against your steadying beating chest, and for once in your life, your mind can’t fathom the physical, musical response of your heart, if it’s slow or fast.. you just know you’re on a high, and while the world is spinning in allegro like a merry-go round, you take the advice of Snow Patrol and forget everyone around and life becomes adagio.. but us. 

I like to hide beneath the name brands of clothes because they make me feel like I’m more than just a mannequin — and no one questions what’s underneath. 

But you — you make me feel naked, and I can’t remember the last time I loved the laziness of my bed more than when you are in it.. because there I am successful; it is there that my fingers perform my greatest works of art. 

  

  

Friends, Romans, countrymen, lend me your ears — er, eyes. 

The clammy feeling between my fingers began to spread to the middle of my palms. Diabetes was common in my bloodline, but I had a notion this was not the particular cause of my current shakiness grappling my body, the experience of an uncommon and uncontrollable nervousness exciting my bones. The physical response of my body however did not mirror my state of mind. I was, to be honest, extraordinarily scared of what this ordeal could become. I could feel every palpitation of my heart beat, as the sound of a bass drum engulfed my ears, steadily rising in tempo with each short breath I inhaled.

I needed a moment to myself, to drown out the rising hysteria in my throat, so I closed my eyes and did what my mother taught me to do. I imagined all the birthmarks along my body, and instinctively connected the dots. As a child my mother would call me her sky, and I would pretend I had great stories written across my skin as constellations, holding every galaxy possible within my fragile soul. The stories she would make up about each new picture we found on my freckled body had been her attempt at planting a seed of faith within my ribcage.

The nostalgia of the memory brought me back to reality as I opened my eyes not realizing how odd I must have looked sitting alone across an empty chair in an unfamiliar restaurant with eyes shut and my head slightly bowed. I played a different game of connecting points of line as I scanned the room right and left, momentarily locking looks with others. To my relief none took notice to my eccentric behavior. A sigh of comfort passed between my lips as I noticed the waiter walking hesitantly towards me. 
“I didn’t want to disturb you from your prayer, so I had your guest wait.. but if you are ready now, I can seat—” 

“Excuse me, what did you just say?” I asked abruptly, trying with all physical force possible to suppress the rage of laughter that was triumphing my anxiety. 
The young man, looked very embarrassed. I had a bad habit of making people feel unnaturally uncomfortable. I didn’t mean to sound rude or mockingly, but it sort of blurted from my lips before I could catch my breath and suck the words back in my stomach. My uncanny knack of speaking before thinking would get me in trouble some day — I had to remember this as I composed my face back into a kinder mold. It was just very, ironic.. I hadn’t spoken to God since my 16th birthday. 

Smiling away my impoliteness I addressed the waiter again with a whim of laughter hidden amongst my voice, “I’m sorry, it’s my stomach talking, I swear! And yes, please, do bring my guest. That would be lovely of you.” 

He walked away briskly, and I knew the moment of truth would arrive quickly with him. My nerves began to return with the idea of actually letting my mother set me up on a blind date. Just the thought of it.. why, why had I agreed to this again? No time to argue with myself, as I saw the waiter return towards me with a brunette walking steps behind him. 
“Your seat, dear. Your server will be right with you two to take your order momentarily.” 
Before I could get the hi off my breath, I noticed with surprise the necklace she had decorated herself with. A simple silver chain, with the fish cross as the charm dangling upon her neck like it was Jesus himself hanging on the cross. 

A disappointing sigh escaped like a prisoner between my lips, “You are exactly the type of person my mother would set me up with.” 

Again, I had given into to my natural ability of saying inappropriate things to people I hardly knew. I had to also remember to work on first impressions, as I smiled at the end of my statement to make it seem much more friendlier than I intended it to be. 

She laughed lightly for a moment — her smile connecting with the wrinkles of her eyes. I couldn’t tell from her expression if she was offended or amused, and I partially didn’t care. The ring of her laughter was like church bells, predictable, always sounding at the strike of a new hour. Hopefully, this lunch date would pass fast. 

She then extended her hand for mine, as an introduction, as a different persona overtook her voice. 

“Don’t let my appearance deceive you, I am much more efficient at nailing people than the Romans.”