I want to know why we are fools for love, why love strikes when conditions are unfavorable, and why two unlucky lovers are left tangled, caught like puppets in a twist of fate.
I want to love and love again, but I also want assurance that I will need never to cloister myself away from the world, after surviving – just barely – the pain.
I will keep my heart strong, its gates wide open, for the next person who enters -- willingly or unwillingly.
She walks and talks, her hand jostling a jangle of keys strung from a lanyard. Her other hands holds a sweating coolata. She's wearing sports shorts, her hair is tied back, and her watch is water-resistant up to 100 feet.
She doesn't look like you're average philosopher. But when she turns to you, she meets your eyes head on – like a collision between a porche and an SUV – it's ugly, painful but reality.
He asks you again.
You can't answer him. You feel ashamed because of it. Why can't you think of a happy moment? Is it because you've only been content throughout your life and not elated?
What about that time when you won the science fair – no, that's too simple, too silly. When you got accepted into college? No, that was more like excitement rather than happiness.
The paint on the walls isn't even the same; it's an off-beige, the color of hospital corridors.
You try to get up, but your hands are handcuffed to the headboard. Your heart begins to race, and you pull and tug, but all that can be achieved are scratches and burn marks on your wrists.
You are going no where.
The door slides open. Two guards enter the room, followed by a smiling technician.
You wish you were back in high school again, on summer vacation, with not a worry in the world, with the skies clear and the weather sunny.
Instead you ring up another customer at the cashier. The machine beeping with each accurate pass of the barcode across the infrared bed. You can't imagine anything more meaningless.
"The total comes to $55.90."
You couldn't understand why she resigned for who she was.
You told her that politics was a dirty job – barely public service anymore.
She told you that she made the decision after much thought and came to the conclusion that America was not ready to accept her. Just yet.
The Republicans had privately cheered; you could've sworn you heard the chinking of champagne glasses.
Boston is cold in the fall without a jacket around your bare shoulders. The streets are literally dangerous to your bare feet. You had cut your heel on a shard of glass once, and you learned to watch where you're walking.
You see the mothers pushing their children in strollers. They sip hot coffee that smokes spirals into the air. Forty-five cents won't buy you a coffee, and the managers won't let you find a job.
It's a house specialty. Would you like some?
And would you also like whipped cream and sugar on top? Confectioner's, cinnamon or plain old sugar?
Yes, the biscotti come with the meal, along with the chocolate sauce on the side. If you want sprinkles or jimmies (depending on where you're from), they're twenty-five cents extra.
Would you like a drink?
That comes to $6.98. Thank you and have a nice day.
You think about all the places you've never been, all the foods you've never tried, all the people you've never met. If you had a thousand years to live, would you be happier at the end of life than you are now, middle-aged with graying hair and unaccomplished?
The sky rumbles, and you're caught outside waiting for the bus in the rain.
But you are resilient.
You are being hunted, and you can hear the breathing of your predators, the crinkling of the leaves beneath their horses hooves, and the whistling of the arrows shot at you. You hit the earth, ducking.
The hunters know where you are, and there is nothing you can do but wait. You concentrate on your breathing. Where are the others? They should be here by now.
Your pulse races. It will only be a few moments before you're caught.
Every shuffle of the papers is too loud, every screech of the old metal drawers is too loud, your every breath is too loud.
You worry that the flashlight is too bright and that it might attract too much attention of the cars whizzing by, and maybe even a policeman.
He knew it was a beautiful day because of the warm sun on his face and bare forearms. A year ago, he would've wished to see the sky – please, please just for a moment – but now he is content to just lie in the field to feel the trickle of wind across his skin.
The sound of a dog barking made him sit up. He was afraid.
The universe hates me.
I have no deity to blame or curse
because anthromorphizing the universe is the second greatest sin,
the first being torturing fellow humans.
Why should you gouge out the scab of my just-healed wound and
slice the stitches of the suture?
Can you not let peace simply be?
Why knot my mind in a game of what-ifs?
Life is too short to live in pain.
I am my own greatest downfall,
trembling before the altar of my blind, muted heart.
I loved too much
and believed too much in the charity of others.
I popped one in my mouth. Instinctive reaction: crunch crunch, except not so loud, more muted, but still that distinctive jaw reaction. I tasted sweet tang of fruit and milky chocolate, nothing more.
I bought an iced mocha next. Coffee poured onto chunks of ice, mocha flavoring added, whipped cream cloud cover. With my straw I sunk the clouds.
Tie me to the length of that lightning rod, and whip the thunder around my straining body. I will scream if it doesn't hurt: nothing in life is worth doing if it doesn't make you cry.
But now, I want only to close my eyes and dream utopias into existence.
You understand the complexity of the human anatomy. Each bone must have a certain shape, strength and composition. The brain is the most difficult. Too many neurons, too little myelin, or misplacement will ruin your creation, making your dream addled and limping, a quiet tragedy of the human form.
They stand outside the area of fallen rock columns and watch.
She restacked the white paper into their neat piles, dusted the entire desk area including on top of her computer and around her printer. She borrowed a vacuum from the janitor and sucked away the corn chips, crackers and dust bunnies from the carpet. She windexed her dusty photo frames and computer monitor until everything shined and gleamed.
Sue stopped by her cubicle. Mary could smell the coffee.
But instead, your fingers stay silent, the waters still. This glass of water will not become a harp under your mastery.
You close your eyes, withdrawing your hand from the table. There was a time when just the sight of water glasses made your fingers itch, but now there is nothing.
You feel the loss of that thrill of anticipation and that shrill of excitement bubbling.
There was blood on the pavement.
There was a shriek from bystanders. "Call 911!"
Then there was a whirl of the ambulance, flashing red and yellow lights, screaming a siren that warned all New York drivers to beware or get run over. The ambulance crushed the ping-pong ball under its front left tire.
CRICK. The ping-pong ball deflated.
The pedestrian was zipped away to the hospital and pronounced brain dead from excessive bleeding from a concussion.
One by one, the people died, in car accidents and fires, by explosions and drowning, a few even by suicide.
I still have the list in my head, so with each death, I cross out the name and enter a date. I attended the funeral services for the first one on my list, but didn't go to anymore.
I have read the obituaries daily for the last ten years. You owe me five more.
You still feel empty. You keep thinking about that novel of yours, how great it was going to be, how much money you were going to make, how many rewards you were going to receive.
You sit in a corner café and sip at an iced mocha latte, pondering fate. So, what are you going to do now?
"I don't know."
"Sit," Thomas said, and she sat.
"Stand," he said, and she stood.
Mariana was a good girl and liked to please others. She wanted most to make her older brother happy – he was all she had in the world now that they're parents were gone.
"Smile," he said, and she smiled.
He brought his friends whom she did not like very much to their home every weekend. He was different when he was around them, drank and cursed more.
He lost at a card game and said, "Take Julian to your room. Be nice."
I had to make it to glorious California where my mother was living in San Francisco in an artist's flat. Arizona had no charms for me – it was home no longer. Father kicked me out, screaming "Bitch, slut and whore," and I've been on the road ever since.
I dip my toes in the water, letting the ocean lick my feet. The blue sky is like a perfect crystal dome, and I don't mind being trapped underneath it. I ponder what would happen when school starts.
I forget the flickering light of my ceiling fan beating to the thump of the bass because this air-conditioned room is my savior, asylum and death wish. In here, it is still winter with its sharp arctic air biting my skin. Only in the cold am I content.
I cherish the delicate slide of worn typing keys against my fingers.