One Small Step

It’s been a while since my last Creative Writing Ink post, hasn’t it? So many things have happened since then, many ups and downs. But we’re not gonna focus on that, are we? No. We’re gonna focus on what’s really important, which is Writing. Writing, creating, and healing. Yes, healing. Because writing soothes me and it takes away all the awful things in (my) life.

Let’s get right to it. I’m getting so rusty here, so bear with me, people. I was in a romantic mood when I wrote this. Just a tiny warning for those who can’t deal with excessive romance 😉

OK. Without further ado, I give you:

One Small Step

Two days ago, I was staring at my computer screen, browsing through plane tickets. As I ignored the tiny voice in my head that tried to warn me, I entered my credit card number and all other stupid information that were necessary. The next thing I knew, I had booked a flight to London.

Ten hours ago, I was standing a few meters outside Heathrow airport, figuring out the state of my mental health. I knew I was crazy. I must have been. Because I could have just easily turned around and bought the next flight back to Chicago. But instead, I pulled out the National Express Coach ticket from my pocket and went straight inside that giant bus. The next thing I knew, I was on a two-hour trip to Bath.

****

“Just a few more minutes, I promise.”

Your voice pulls me back. You are a few steps ahead, smiling at me with guilt. The warm autumn sunlight falls perfectly on your freckled face. “Sorry?” I smile back as I shift my backpack from the left to my right shoulder.

“I know you’re exhausted, but we’re almost there. I’m going to make you a nice cup of tea, I promise.” You touch your right palm on your left chest, as if making a pledge.

“I’m not tired.”

You stop walking and raise your eyebrow at me. “James, we’ve been exploring every historical sites that ever existed in Central Bath for almost seven hours.”

“Yes, and as soon as we recharge out batteries, we’ll go straight to Wiltshire so I can finally see the Fox Talbot Museum.”

“You’re insane, you know that?” You shake your head as you adjust your pace so we are walking side by side once again. “We can go there tomorrow. It’s not like you’re only staying in Bath for a day.”

I swallow my words and pretend I didn’t hear that last sentence. I know that if you saw my face, you would realize in a heartbeat that I’m hiding something, so I look to my left instead and stare at the small lake on my left as if a fish monster would jump out and eat me alive. You must not know the truth. Not yet.

Your arm is linked around mine as we walk along the lake. The crackling twigs under our shoes are the only sound that penetrates the comfortable silence between us. I can stay like this forever.

****

Eight hours ago, I was stepping out of the express coach with my cell phone in my right hand.The coach took off a few minutes later and there I was, stranded alone in Bath with an empty stomach. My heart was pounding as I stare at my phone screen and went through all the names in the Address Book. This was it. There was no turning back. I felt like I wanted to throw up, and that was not because of my screaming gastric. I took a deep breath.The next thing I knew, I was talking to you on the phone and inviting you to brunch because I just ‘happened to be in the city’.

Seven hours ago, I was having the time of my life with you. We went through all the nooks and crannies of the city, observing and taking pictures like a proper tourist. You were smiling and laughing. I was bewitched by your beauty.

Seven hours ago, we were back to where we were a year ago.

****

“Right. Should I go first,then?”

Your voice pulls me back again. I blink and stare at you. “Go where?”

“Across.” You point at the stone footpath stretched in front of us. It’s long, winding, and –to tell you the truth – rather scary. Sensing my fear, you touch my arm gently. “I know it’s a bit tricky, but it’s the fastest way to get to my house.”

“Than what, swimming?” I respond sarcastically.

“Don’t worry, it’s not as dangerous as it looks. Here, I’ll go first.” And just like that, you’re standing on the first step. A second later you jump to the second one. Then the third. You move so quickly and lightly as if you were the fairy of the golden forest. I can’t take my eyes off of you.

Halfway down the winding steps, you stop and turn around to find me still standing on the ground and staring at you. From where I stand, I can see you carving a wide smile across your radiant face. With the yellow trees in the background and the clear water under your feet, you are the picture of the perfect autumn. The next thing I know, I’m taking a leap of faith. Then another leap. And another one. Every leap I take brings me closer to you. Then you start to jump again. “Wait up, Sarah!” I pick up the pace, trying to catch up. I can hear you chuckle and I can’t help but smile. Your chuckle turns to laughter, and my smile turns to a wide grin. Like a couple of eight year olds, we race to the other side of the lake. I want to beat you at your own game, but you’re way up ahead. By the time I’ve reached half of the footpath, you are already on the other side of the lake, standing safely on the ground.

“Come on, James! A nice cup of tea is waiting for you!” You cry, cheering me on. Seeing you there, waiting for me, my heart skips a beat and my blood rushes in my veins. I lose my breath in every leap, my chest tightens as I get closer to you. And closer. Your face is beaming. Your auburn hair is tangled because of the autumn breeze. Your smile is enchanting. Your laughter is contagious. I want you. Forever. Can I?

Five more steps. The words are clogged in my throat like a giant fist.

Three more steps. My heart is about to explode into million little pieces. I look down, to the water. They’re clear as day. I want to drown myself. Drown with you.

“Almost there!” Your voice pierce through my inner thoughts.

Two more steps. I look up to find your green eyes looking into mine.

One more step. We’re face to face. You brandish your hand. I take a deep breath and spill the truth.

“I’m getting married.”

For a millisecond, it’s as if I have never uttered a word. You’re still smiling. Genuinely so.

Then the colours drain from your face. And my heart plummets to the deep, dark water. Your eyes are still fixed on mine, but they’re no longer alive and bright. Your brandished hand is now stiff instead of warm and inviting like it has been all day in mine. I can feel your heart shattering, just like mine. I bit my lip and gulp what’s left in the air. “I’m getting married. In a month.” I repeat, as if that would make things a tiny bit better.

Your jaw tensed as you look away. Your hands are on your sides, awkward and idle. You stare at the leaves, the water, then back to me. “Why did you come here?”

“I wanted to see you.”

“Then what?”

“I…I don’t know.” I falter. “I haven’t thought this through.”

“You’re bloody right you haven’t!” Your face redden, anger boiling on the surface. A single tear runs down your cheek, but you quickly wipe it away. My fingers twitch. They ache to touch you.  I’m suffocating, trying hard to fight the urge to pull you into my arms. You look away again, arms folded in front of your chest to protect your heart from me. You shake your head and let out a bitter chuckle. “Of course you’re getting married. I’m such an idiot.”

“No, I am.”

“I didn’t say you’re not. You definitely are.” You retort with a quick glance. Despite myself, I smile. For a millisecond, you return the favor. We faintly smile at each other, before you look away again. An uncomfortable silence stands between us like a barricade. You look up to the sky, close your eyes, inhale deeply, then turns to me. No matter how many times I’ve seen those green eyes, they will always make me weak at the knees. The next thing I know, I blurt out that single question that’s been ringing in my head ever since I laid my eyes on you this morning:

“Did I make the right choice?”

I don’t know to what extend the question goes. Did I make the right choice by coming to Batch? By seeing you? By getting married? The voices in my head are throwing me off course. I hold my breath as I wait for your answer.

Your arms are still folded in front of your chest, but they’re no longer tense. You let down your guard, even just for a fraction. I can feel your glance slowly soften. You crack a weak smile as your eyes glimmer with tiny tears.

“Congratulations, James.”

You didn’t answer anything, but you told me everything.

And just like that, with just two little words, I’ve fallen in love with you all over again.

Maybe all this time, I’ve never really fallen out of love with you.

I look over my shoulder, to the winding footpath that will lead me back to Chicago. Then I look down to my feet, to that one small step that separates me from you.

“James?”

I look up. Your arms are on your sides now, letting go all your defenses. I take a deep breath.

***********************************************

Before The Worst

Greetings!

It’s been a while since I posted something for Creative Writing Ink. In fact, I’m getting rusty, so bear with me 🙂

This week’s picture is intriguing. I’ve always pictured a couch (or bed) as a symbol of the comfortable domestic life. A symbol of settling down, per se. So when I see the picture of a wrecked and disheveled couch, I immediately thought of a relationship that’s hit a wall. The kind of relationship that has become so sour that the only way to fix it is to end it before it takes its tool. Before it gets worst.

As always, constructive criticisms are always needed, expected, and welcomed. Thanks for dropping by 🙂

Before The Worst

Just turn off the lights

Don’t expect a spark

Can’t be a perfect sight

When both of us are in the dark

 

Pull the curtains down

Take a look around

We are the wounded ones

In a raging war that can’t be won

 

Tried our best to stand

But our hearts won’t mend

No longer can pretend

Better let the story ends

 

Before we turn to dust

Before the dawn arrives

Give a kiss goodbye to the chapters of our lives

 

Before it leaves a scar

It’s best to let it go

Let this be the greatest story the world will never know

***************************************************************

Stay

April 17th, 2012

Dedicated to December and January of 2011.


Stay

It feels like a lifetime has passed by the time I finally step out of the bus. Everything around me is alive and busy. The streets are jam-packed with people walking in a fast pace, as if the asphalt road would collapse any second and swallow them whole. The sound of cars blowing their horns fill my ear like an annoying song while several people are shouting and waving pamflets to no one.

Just another day in the Big Apple.

My apartment building is only a few feet away when I suddenly feel my phone vibrating. “Shoot!” I quickly rummage through my stuffs to find that blasted thing and shift to the less crowded side of the street so I won’t bump into anyone. The phone screen is blinking furiously when I finally pull it out of my bag. An unknown number is flashing on the screen.

The first thing I notice is the calling code. 353. It’s not from New York. Not even close. It takes a milisecond to realize where the call is coming from. And when I do, I can feel an invisible hand wringing my beating heart.

Hands shaking, I press the green button and place the phone on my ear. “Hello?”

“Hello. Is this Ms. Alana?”

A girl’s voice. An unfamiliar one.

“Yes, this is she.”

“Hi, Alana. I’m not sure if you know me, but my name is Pauline McCarthy..”

Just like that, my heart plummets to the ground. I can feel my face turns red, then pale.

McCarthy. After all that have happened in the course of nine months, I’ve never thought that name would come back to my life again.

The caller seems to notice that I am drowning in my own thoughts, because I can vaguely hear words such as, “Hello?”, “…still there?” and, “….hear me?”.

I close my eyes and massage the gap between my eyebrows with the tip of my fingers. “I’m still here.” I finally gain my voice back. I continue to walk to my apartment building, only now with a quicker pace. My apartment keys are jingling inside my shaking hand as I try to open the door. The second I get inside, I instantly feel nauseous as if the room were shrinking.

“Alana, I was wondering if I can talk to you about something. It’s really important.”

She sounds serious and anxious. I have to swallow before I can muster a single, “Okay.”

“Look, I know you must be surprised to get a call from the other side of the world like this, especially from someone you don’t even know…”

“I know who you are.” I take a deep breath and lean on the wall. The white ceiling is staring back at me. “You’re his sister.”

She heaves a sigh. A faint one, yet it echoes in my ear. “He tells you everything, does he?” . Somehow I can hear her gentle smile, if that’s even possible.

“…We both did.” I look away from the ceiling, to the window on the living room. The sky outside has turned gray and turns everything into gloom. I can’t delay the question any longer. There must be a reason why his sister, whom I’ve never even talked to before but have heard a lot about, suddenly decided to call me. All the way from Dublin. So I take a deep breath and brace myself.

“Is everything alright, Pauline?”

Another minute of silence. When she finally opens her mouth again, her words are filled with pain. “Nothing is alright.” She whispers. I can feel her every word scratching my lungs, my throat, my heart. “It’s Gary, Alana. He….he was in a car crash. God, it was horrible. His car was wrecked to pieces…”

Nothing Pauline’s saying is making any sense. Not a single thing. It’s as if my brain has stopped functioning the second she said ‘car crash’. My whole body feels numb, and my chest is burning. Breathing suddenly becomes a strange concept.

“Oh God…” is all that my mouth can pronounce. And I repeat it hundreds of times until it, too, starts making no sense. “Is he…is he…?”

“He’s in a coma ever since.” Pauline finishes it for me. “He’s been on life support for more than two months, Alana. And now the doctor’s talking to my parents about shutting it off and….and letting him go…”

I grab hold of the windowsill to prevent my body from hitting the cold wooden floor. Shaking like a leaf, I sit on the couch and cover my face with my free hand. In no time, my face is wet with tears.

The sound of our sniffles echoes in my quiet room, muffling the sound of the pouring rain. In the roaring silence, seconds feel like hours and blisters feel like bloody wounds. I have all the blisters in my heart, and my salty tears is brewing them slowly.

“I’m standing next…next to his body right now. I can still…I can hear his heartbeat from the monitor. It’s not fair…” Pauline tries to speak between her sob, which makes me fall apart even more. I press my palm against my eyelid until my head hurts and my ears ring.

“You have to help me, Alana. I can’t lose my own brother…”

“But…how?”

“Talk to him. Wake him up.”

I slowly lift my face from my palm, unsure. “I…I can’t…”

“I’ve seen the way he was when the two of you were still together. His face lit up whenever he mentioned your name or read a text from you. Please, Alana… I’ve tried everything else. You’re my only hope. His only hope.”

And just like that, everything Gary and I were nine months ago comes rushing back in a tidal wave. The way he whispered that he loved me when we were in the middle of casual conversations, the way our fingers intertwined when we danced in the rain, the way he smiled at my ridiculous jokes, and the way he teared up when I told him how much he meant to me. Everything we were, until distance took its toll.

I can’t lose him. Not again.

“You know what to do.” I finally whisper. As crazy as it may be, I can feel her nod through the phone.

There’s silence once again. I wait with my free hand clenched on my thigh. A few seconds later, I open my mouth.

“Gary…”

A simple name. But there’s nothing simple about the effect he has on me. And now, knowing that he is on the other end of this tiny phone, I can’t help but crumble into a million pieces.

“Remember when you got sick after New Year’s Eve, Gary? I was so worried about you, but you reassured me by saying that you were as strong as an ox, a fighter. Well, you are. I know you are…”

Tears are rolling down my cheeks for the hundredth times. My throat burns as if it was going to split into two, but I can’t stop. I will never stop.

“Gary, if you can hear me….please come back. Don’t let me go. Not again. Don’t go where I can’t find you.”

I take a deep breath. As deep as my wounded lungs can take.

“Stay with me. Please…”

****

“Stay with me. Please…”

Pauline stares at her cellphone that’s lying on the pillow right next to Gary’s head. She tries her best to keep her composure as she listens to her brother’s former girlfriend pours her heart out. She feels guilty for being a witness to what was supposed to be a personal moment for Gary and Alana, so she looks away, flusterred.

And that’s when her heart skips a beat.

Because there it is, faint, yet real.

A twitch from Gary’s right hand. As Alana keeps whispering the same word over and over again over the phone.

“Stay…”

****************************************************************

Once Upon A Night

Even when the nice people in Creative Writing Ink was kind enough to give an extra week for this prompt, I was late in writing a post. I’d blame my busy classes, but that would be too standard. So I’m blaming my piles of to-read novels that were screaming at me, demanding to be read before the end of the year 🙂

 

Anyway, here’s my latest try. Gonna be a really short one, but I hope you’ll like it. As always, comments and constructive criticisms are needed and welcomed with open arms. Hope you had a great Christmas and New Year’s eve party!

 

 

Once Upon A Night

 

I would be lying if I said that the person staring back at me is not pretty. Hell, she’s stunning! And she hasn’t even put the sexy red lipstick on! I’m telling you, that guy waiting outside my bathroom is one lucky man.

 

“Come on, babe. We’re gonna be late.” He knocks on the door.

“Five more minutes, darling.” I say as I pull my lipstick and mascara out of my purse. I can hear him sighing in exasperation from behind the door, but I don’t care. This is my only chance to have a fun and fearless night and I’m not going to let a grumpy boyfriend ruin it. I didn’t swallow all the bad lucks and fights I’ve had this week for nothing.

 

On my lips, the cherry-red lipstick looks like blood. Or maybe wine, depending on whether you’re an optimist or a pessimist. Me? I’m somewhere in between. A realist. It looks like wine now because I know I’m going to have a great time, but when I get home later, I’m pretty sure the same color will remind me of bloodstain. My blood and James’s, blending into one disturbing clot.

 

“Scarlett, please! I’m dying over here!”

 

My boyfriend’s annoying voice brings me back to reality. I stare at my own reflection, at my own conscience. “None of this would have happened if you hadn’t started it, James.” I whisper to silence.

 

I look down to the reflection of my hand. To the wedding band around my finger.

 

If you hadn’t stabbed me in the back, I wouldn’t have stabbed you back. And now our bloods are raw.

 

After one final look, I take the ring off. I walk to the door, a smile ready to wear.

 

“I’m coming, Wesley…”

 

 

******

 

This is a continuation from my short: Sixteen

 

Lose The Sun

I have finally found out why I’ve been having a tough time creating story lines from Creative Writing Ink‘s pictures for the past couple of weeks.  It’s because all this time, since the last time I posted a short story for the site, I’ve been writing poems and songs instead. No, this isn’t a new thing. Writing poems and songs have been my passion besides short stories and novels since I was little. Moreover, I’ve been listening to some songs that end up motivating me to write a chorus or two. Case in point: The Script and Adele.

 

So for this particular post for Creative Writing Ink, I’m going to use a picture from previous weeks because it’s the one that inspired me the most. When I look at this image, the first thought that came to mind is a broken life. Then my mind went straight to Love The Way You Lie, a song by Eminem ft Rihanna. To me, this image captures the abusive,  dysfunctional, and destructive relationship some people go through perfectly. It’s when you just can’t leave someone no matter how horrible they treat you.

 

To me, this is a song. But since you can’t actually hear it, might as well see it as a poem 🙂 As always, comments and criticism are needed.

 

 

Lose The Sun

 

Slam me to the ground

Drag me down, below the sea

All the pieces you have found

Just scatter them in front of me

‘Coz when you call me out, scream out loud

Start a fight, punch the light

All I can think is how much I need you

Slap me hard, break my heart

Tear me up, giving up

All I can think is how much I love you.

 

So watch me fall…

As I try to stand so tall

Come see me cry…

As I beg you to give this another try

 

‘Coz you’re what I want, you are the one

I don’t care if I lose the sun

You’re what I need, the reason I bleed

Can’t you see I’m on my feet?

 

Just take my hand, please understand

I’d take the pain, all over again

 

And again…

Until the end…

 

******

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