she held on to his hand. it was the first time someone held her. lovingly so. was this how it feels like to be touched? it was a strange feeling: being wanted, someone wanting to be close, someone this close. she became aware, all of a sudden, of the last three years he’d been at a distance, and wondered about that space. the space we put between ourselves and others. slowly and with every step up the stairs, one by one his fingers laced and intertwined hers. the space in between them becoming smaller and smaller. a breath with every inch of space they were closing in. he squeezed her hand. a reassuring, comforting, gentle force of skin on skin. human on human. breath on breath. he wanted to be close her, and she didn’t stop him. for the first time, maybe and only this time ever, she wanted someone who wanted her.

– an excerpt from the book i’m writing, a.m.


love with complications

Memory is a funny thing. When I was in the scene, I hardly paid it any mind. I never stopped to think of it as something that would make a lasting impression, certainly never imagined that eighteen years later I would recall it in such detail. I didn’t give a damn about the scenery that day. I was thinking about myself. I was thinking about the beautiful girl walking next to me. I was thinking about the two of us together, and then about myself again. It was the age, that time of life when every sight, every feeling, every thought came back, like a boomerang, to me. And worse, I was in love. Love with complications. Scenery was the last thing on my mind.

– Haruki Murakami, N.W.

001. z & g

Three things: There was something I wanted to tell her, there was something I didn’t want to tell her, and there was something I couldn’t tell her.
I wanted to tell her that she was the most beautiful girl to me. Her smile, the sweetest. Her hugs, the warmest.
I didn’t want to tell her about the rose I am desperately trying to keep alive in my locker. I carried all my textbooks and whatever trash I used to store in there for the whole day just so the rose can have its space to breathe. So that it can stay alive a little bit longer until I can tell her the things I wanted to say.
I couldn’t tell her I was afraid. I wanted to promise her the world, that I’d guarantee her happiness, that no one will hurt her. I wanted to promise her my life, but I only have one rose and some made-up words.
I wanted to promise her one special night.
She was just with her friends. She walked over to say hi and asked me what’s up.
What’s up was my heart about to burst because of the things I wanted and couldn’t say. But I kept my cool. I’m a cool guy, sure.
I nodded at the right times, said some words, and paused. I try my best to get it together, but there are moments when she makes me feel like I could be better, that I would want to be better.
I wish I could promise her everything. But best I can do at the moment was a secret promise: to keep that rose alive in my locker until 2 PM.
I saw him and walked over. It was always like that, like there’s a magnet that kept me wanting to be close to him.
I asked him what was his plans for the pep rally. He said he wasn’t sure whether to go or not. I shrugged it off.
There are moments when I want to tell him everything, every single feeling I have for him, but something always holds me back. Fear, or something. I’m also not good with words.
So I have two defence mechanisms: the shrug and funny gibberish sounds that guaranteed a smile on his face at least.
It was difficult, but I walked away. I had to. Or else, I would have hugged him in front of everyone. Sometimes I just know when he is trying to hide his heart.
I went to the pep rally with my friends. My feelings confused me a lot, it’s frustrating. Given the choice, I’d be with him. But I also know that most of the time, that’s not on me.
And I learned the hard way that sometimes you don’t always get what you want.
So I try my best not to want so much.
I knew it. I couldn’t even promise her one night, so how can I promise my entire life? Her happiness?
The words I’ve prepared, words I’ve saved only for her, were useless at this point.
I was trying my best to hide, but she saw me.
Game over.
What was he doing here?
And why does it look like someone broke his heart?
I have it, don’t I?
And I promised not to break it.
I’m sorry for everything I couldn’t do. But here’s… a rose. For you.
What’s it for?
It’s for the dream of a dance I would like to dance with you.
Just with you.
Only with you.
Come here.
How is your hug so warm?
I don’t know.
But, hey listen, your dream is enough.

to the room beside mine

In response to The Daily Post’s writing prompt: “Study Abroad.”

If you were asked to spend a year living in a different location, where would you choose and why?

In my brother’s shoes.

I would like to know what he goes through, what goes through in his mind, even just for a day. He is as elusive as the 29th day of February, as quiet as the sunset. I would like to know how he feels, his dreams, his anxieties. My brother doesn’t say much, and I am a writer, so his nods, shrugs, footsteps kill my need for words. I read somewhere that writers thrive more in silence, in gaps, because those are spaces we can fill with words. But my brother refuses to use words. He prefers charcoal and blank paper, lines and shadows, portraits and still images. I would like to know his world because sometimes–sometimes around 2 in the morning–I think I hear him crying out for help. But when I check in the morning, I see new portraits of women looking at a distance, women with eyes so defined that they look at back at me and I am forced to blink making sure they aren’t alive.

My brother is an artist; and the heart of one, often inaccessible.

Words are all I have; and I’ve tried many many times to slip words under his door hoping to reach out to him in a medium I will understand.

But he simply replies back with nods, shrugs, footsteps, and charcoal portraits. His room is beside mine; we are separated by a wall, and I feel like he is in a different world where his hands are tainted with lead and the sky has copies of faces as stars.

And I would just like to know, to be reassured, that he is happy.

the other two doors

In response to The Daily Post’s writing prompt: “Just a Dream.”

You’re having a nightmare, and have to choose between three doors. Pick one, and tell us about what you find on the other side.

The First Door.

It was a door to the past–but not just any past. A particular past. The kind of past worth cherishing, fondly remembered. There were four people standing beyond the door:

a friend who was happy and told everyone to be happy,

another friend who smiled to me and gave me that encouraging “Okay!” thumbs-up sign right before my speech,

a friend who stood beside me and stroked my back as silent tears blurred my eyes,

and another friend who took my hand and danced with me with the kind of dance that could have gone on forever.

To walk through that door would be a dream; to forever stay with them, impossible.

The Second Door.

It was a door to the present–but not my present. The other kind of present happening at the moment but outside my awareness. The tears my parents shed in darkness, the sighs of my friend giving up, the quiet prayers of another friend asking for hope against hope, a friend talking to a wall and asking questions with no answers, my grandmother calling out to me, a neighbour touching his wife with heavy knuckles and ringing slaps, my aunt wondering who the stranger sitting inside her daughter’s room is and who looks exactly like my cousin, and my high school teacher controlling but succumbing to that urge to touch those faces sitting inside the classroom.

The Third Door.

It was a door to an empty room except for a window that showed me what was beyond the first two doors.

The third door was the one I opened.