love

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Brisbane

Published Thursday, January 23, 2014 by Chasing Neptune

The first of a few pieces from last semester’s fiction writing class.

BRISBANE

“I tell you what,” Harold groaned, pulling himself out of the taxi, “Once I get home, I’m never flying in one of those glorified sardine cans again. I still can’t feel my damn feet.”

“Yeah, it’s a long flight, Mate,” the taxi driver said. He handed Harold his scuffed leather suitcase. “You from Canada?”

“America, thank you. And I tell you what, if I didn’t have to be back there in a week for my grandson’s wedding, I’d go home stowed away on a cargo ship.”

The driver laughed. “Nah, she’ll be alright.”

“Who? Who’ll be alright?”

The driver was pulling away from the curb. Harold gripped his suitcase and looked around. He gazed out over the Brisbane River, counting the bridges. Four. He could see four just from Kangaroo Point.

During the war, they had never used the bridges. There were only a handful, and when a man was bleeding out his ears, it was better to zip across in a ferry. There were still a few ferries on the river: red double-decker ones with kangaroos on the side and slim white ones bearing the name City Cat. But they were for tourists and commuters and were vastly outnumbered by yachts and sailboats.

Harold moseyed along the river, feeling the warm breeze on his leathery skin, remembering the way it rustled Gisele’s skirts, the way she would pat down the hems, her fingertips brushing against her nylons. Every time they walked, they would end up at Jubilee Bridge. They would stroll out into the middle, and Harold would stop, spin around to face Gisele, and kiss her lips. Gisele, looking up at the matrix of steel beams, would blush and say, “Isn’t this the most beautiful city in the world?” And Harold, always watching her bright green eyes, would say, “Yes.”

But that was nearly 50 years ago, and they had changed. Even the bridge had a new name now – Story Bridge – honoring a public servant who dedicated his life to the city. When he first learned the name, all Harold could think was, “That should have been me.”

As Harold reached Story Bridge, he felt eighteen again. It still arched up to two high points; its beams still crisscrossed like a steel spider web. There were lights now, outlining the bridge’s silhouette, and he had heard they glowed red and green at night.

He walked out to the middle of the bridge, fingering a bundle of envelopes in his inside jacket pocket. He remembered the words of the last one: I’ll be there.

And then he waited. He waited until he began to worry. Maybe he had gotten the date wrong: with the time difference, he could be a day early – or worse – a day late. Maybe he had misread the letter. Maybe she had lied, played him for a fool, revenge for breaking his promise all those years ago. Maybe she no longer loved him.

Then, as the sun dipped below the city skyline and the green lights lit up, he saw her walking towards him. She looked exactly the same, but instead of a pencil skirt and flowing blouse, she wore tight jeans and a striped sweater. She had the same hourglass figure, the same curly hair, the same green eyes – only, it couldn’t be her. As she reached him, she crossed her arms to shield herself from the breeze.

“Mr. Matthews?”

“Yes?”

“I’m Angela, Gisele’s granddaughter.”

“You look just like her,” Harold said. “I thought you were her for a minute.”

Angela smiled. “Thank you. Nonna told me I would find you here.”

“Why didn’t she come?”

“She couldn’t, she wanted to, she…” Angela looked up at the beams. Harold noticed that her eyes were puffy, red. He followed her gaze up to the beams.

“Isn’t this the most beautiful city in the world?” Harold asked.

Angela looked down at Harold. He saw the recognition in her green eyes.

“Yes,” she said. “Yes.”

 

How Daisy Loves

Published Friday, July 6, 2012 by Chasing Neptune

This was a draft that I wrote for my Creative Nonfiction class, which was passed over for We Ride at Dawn. Even though I did not choose it as my piece for the theme (time of day), this short still holds a special place in my heart. Enjoy!

Even if every clock in my house stopped ticking, I would still know when the five o’clock hour rolled around. At this time, I am normally lounging in my dad’s spot on the couch, munching on a handful of Cheezits to placate my stomach until dinner. Usually, Daisy curls up next to me with her head in my lap, watching the small, square crackers and waiting for me to drop one. However, the moment the clock reads 5pm, Daisy leaps off of the couch and trots over to the staircase.

She places her haunches on the second step and her front paws on the first. As she gazes out the window towards the gravel driveway, her back straightens and her ears perk up into high alert. She sits quietly, waiting for a grey Silverado or a blue Equinox to emerge from behind the row of evergreens. When Daisy finally spies one of these vehicles, she leaps to the floor. From my place on the couch, I can hear her toenails scrambling against the hardwood floor in the dining room, as she rushes to meet one of our parents when they come in the door.

When my parents and I first brought Daisy home, I didn’t love her. She was a replacement for another dog, who had passed away just two months before. I felt that to love Daisy would be to betray and forget my Annie, who was like a little sister to me. However, watching Daisy day after day, as she patiently and loyally waits on the stairs for my parents to return from work, and knowing that she still sits in the same spot on the staircase, waiting for me to come home from a week at school, makes me love her, too.

Every day at 5pm, Daisy reminds me that loyalty and love do not weaken when given to more souls, but rather, when shared, become deeper and more meaningful.

If I Am the Ocean

Published Tuesday, July 3, 2012 by Chasing Neptune
If I am the ocean, with caverns
deep and unexplored, with waves
only a ripple of my world’s shifts, with creatures
who have never seen
light
 
you are the sky,
 
hovering above me: always looming,
ever lurking – sometimes forgotten,
but never gone.
 
I am your victim.
 
Sunny, you suck up my waters,
and I dry the throats
of millions. Rainy,
you fill me up, and I wash away
sheets of rock. Windy,
you churn my belly, and I drown
Japanese fishermen.
 
You hold my sun, dragging it
over my waves, trickling
golden glitter across their tips.
You hold my moon, gliding it
across my surface, painting
me black.
 
If I am the ocean,
seemingly bottomless,
you are the sky,
infinitely boundless.
 
If I am the ocean,
cerulean blue,
you are the sky,
powder blue – a pale,
 
shallow reflection
of my own colors,
                     my own soul.
 
Without me, no child
would ask of you, no sunset
would change you, no one
would see you.
 
Without me, you wouldn’t
exist.

I Am Emma Bovary

Published Friday, June 29, 2012 by Chasing Neptune

I would be happy…

in Lawrence – constructible

cupcakes, graffiti coffee shops, space

cat comic stores, hipster shoes

and antique malls.

I would be happy…

in Jersey – boxcar diners, second-hand

Italian food, big apple skylines,

grungy dive bars, El Toro

and Kingda Ka.

I would be happy…

in Florence – Pizza Margherita,

Carrara marble God, golden paradise

doors, panoramic piazzales, lovers’

locks and rusty keys.

I would be happy…

anywhere

but here, everywhere

but here, no where

but here.

In case you are not familiar with the work, this piece was inspired by the novel Madame Bovary by Gustave Flaubert. The protagonist, Emma Bovary, believes that happiness comes from location, thus the idea behind this poem. I also find it important to note (as I neglected to last night) that these poems are a part of my Week 12 Challenge, which is to write one poem per day. Two down, five to go!

My Favorite Poem I Have Ever Written…

Published Sunday, November 27, 2011 by Chasing Neptune

How to Love the Ocean

Do not dive. Plunge feet-first

and kick the undertow. Tie

knots in seaweed. Shatter

glass into sand.

Breathe in salt and wind

and mist. Slide your fingers over sea

shells, and do not trust

blue eyes.

Worship the night sky: stars

and sails and wisps of smoke. Hunt

creatures in the deep — when their

scales brush your skin, whisper

                                                I will fear no evil.

“Before the Wedding” – A Poem

Published Saturday, June 4, 2011 by Chasing Neptune

“Before the Wedding” is the English translation of the poem & painting title.

— denotes stanza break, because this has been unclear in previous posts.

Antes de la Boda

           from the painting by Antonio Muñoz Degrain
 

The bones of her corset creak against her

ribs as she breathes, Necesito un momento,

por favor.

Eyelids drooping, she dreams of salt

water dried on her skin, of the warm breeze

tangling her curls. Of Valencia.

Home.

She clasps her right hand, wrist

bruised and aching from her father’s

demanding grasp. Wrapped tightly in satin

and trimmed with ribbon,

she is the gift. White and soft,

she is the dove. Her bouquet,

the olive branch.

A Message to Love-Struck Girls & A Writer’s Secret

Published Wednesday, June 1, 2011 by Chasing Neptune

Before I begin, I find it only appropriate to set the scene for you, my invisible 30-some readers. I cannot decide whether to be flattered or irritated by the traffic my posts have been receiving. You all sit there in front of your computers and your smart phones, silently running your eyes over my naked soul, and then you leave without a whisper. But it is okay, I do the same. In fact, I almost like that you all are nameless, faceless ghosts. It almost makes me feel less exposed, almost. But I digress.

It is in the midnight hour, and roughly 30 minutes ago I finished a Nicholas Sparks novel, Nights in Rodanthe, to be specific. As any one with a heart can tell you, reading Nicholas Sparks nearly always provokes some sort of emotional reaction. However, I am proud to admit that I did not cry this time around, a rare feat. For those of you who have not read this novel, the main theme is finding strength after the loss of a love and having the courage to carry on. Instead of leaving me feeling lonely and heartsick, as many of Mr. Sparks’ works have done, this one actually made me feel proud of myself and the independence I have enjoyed for the last year and a half. It is with this pride that I extend a message to all love-struck girls, or more accurately to you, my translucent peepers.

Whenever we did exercises in high school that forced us to recognize that our peers were human beings, aka give them compliments or describe them, my adjective was almost always smart. Not that my arrogance didn’t love this title, but if I am being completely honest, it made me a little nauseated to think that this was the only word these kids, who I had known for over a decade, could use to describe me. Looking back, I find this absolutely hilarious. In high school, I was an idiot.

As my ex-boyfriends (and the friends brave enough to listen to my incessant whining at that time) will tell you, I was a dreamer, to put it nicely. I like to pretend that this stems from my overwhelming imagination and my tendency to turn everything into a work of fiction. I mean, I am a writer, after all, whatever that means. Essentially, I wanted to be in love, and I would do everything possible to convince myself that I was in love, even when I wasn’t. For some reason, I felt this compelling need to have my life figured out – grab the guy, get the ring, get the degree, success. Of course, most guys, make that 99.9% of guys, my age aren’t exactly keen on emotional intimacy. Physical intimacy? Hell yes. Emotional? See ya.

This was a concept that I knew, but from reading love stories and watching romantic comedies, I thought that I could change the guys in my life. Obviously, this is an impossible task, and looking back, even if I had been able to change them, I would not have liked what I would have created. To wrap this up, I was a dumb, love-struck girl. I was convinced that I needed my Prince Charming in order to be happy, and that I had to find him in the shallow gene pool of my high school, and fast, before I became a spinster, which clearly happened post-graduation. Needless to say, this is the most blatant form of idiocracy I have committed in my life, and I am extremely ashamed of the girl I used to be. What I wouldn’t give to go back to one of these relationships, as the girl I am now, and just have fun without the pressure I put on them and myself. But again, I digress.

My point in all of this is that the media drowns us in romantic love, almost as much as it drowns us in sex. How in the world anyone is supposed to know how to function in society after watching an hour of television is beyond me. Most of this is geared towards adolescents, specifically girls. Unfortunately, girls take these fantasized messages to heart, whether they want to admit it or not. But I am here today to say, as many others have said, that despite the insistence of the media and your “friends” and whoever the hell else, you girls do not need a boyfriend or girlfriend to be happy. Trust me. It is more important that you are happy with yourself, as an independent person. This is a lesson that I had to learn the hard way, a lesson that I didn’t learn until I was already a legal adult.

I wear a ring on my right hand, middle finger. It is a simple, cheap piece of jewelry from an unexciting department store. It is plain silver, a heart whose ends overlap, sort of like the Breast Cancer and Support Our Troops ribbons that people plastered on their cars for a while in the early 2000’s. If any of you ghosts actually know me personally, you probably know the ring to which I am referring.

Quite a few people have noticed that I always wear this ring, and being curious, they have asked a simple question. “Who gave you that ring you always wear?” The questions vary slightly, but they are always concerned with the who. When I reply that I bought it myself, the glimmer of romanticized hope in their eyes quickly dwindles to disappointment, and the subject is completely dropped. They never ask why I never take it off or why I bought it. They just assume that it is from some love interest, and when it is not, they disgard it as merely a worthless trinket.

This is disheartening for two reasons. First, because it shows just how obsessed with romance our society is. And second, because it gives me the distinct impression that no one gives a shit about me if I’m not attached to something with a penis. I almost wrote that I apologize for the vulgarity, but you know what, I don’t.

If any of my ghosts are still devouring my words, I am sure by now they want to know why I never take off this little piece of jewelry. Well, if you ask, I may tell you. But considering it’s lack of romantic glamour, I doubt that you will.

It is now nearing one o’clock in the morning. I no longer feel the restless panging of words bouncing around inside of my head, a most welcome and regretful sensation, so I believe that I may actually be able to sleep now. I will step off my soap box and hope that my tireless ranting’s message has stuck with at least one of you, my dear apparitions.

For now, I shall go to bed. Another time, in another restless urge, I will cloudedly write of another secret, divulging everything and nothing in an urgent gasp. As I do, I will imagine your nameless faces, as you read my words in time with the clacking of my fingernails on the keyboard.

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