Thursday, February 12, 2015

It's All Because of You

"People would always ask me why I decided to join the Navy. " I began.
"Well, why did you?" The tired face of my patient looked back at me helplessly.
"There are many reasons, actually. There are the ABC reasons, the XYZ, and the LMNOP's. The ABC's are what you tell to the people that don't matter much. You're just giving them an answer to be courteous, anyways. So you say you joined because you wanted some adventure and why the hell not?" I reached for some alcohol, and he winced as I used it to clean out the large gash on his shoulder.
"I say the same thing, haha." He gave a weak laugh.
"But then there are the XYZ reasons. Those are for the people that matter a bit more. Maybe you tell these reasons to your family. You say you wanted to become a part of something- you want to travel- you feel like it's your duty to serve. You want to make it up to some people, help the world, die honorably. These reasons are satisfyingly true, but can be ultimately meaningless to you. It's the LMNOP reasons that matter most. You tell those to the people thatreally matter. I've never told anyone those reasons because I've been saving them for you." I put down the gauze and looked him straight in the eye.
"Do you remember when I told you I loved you when I was sixteen? You were eighteen and told me I was foolishly too young to know what love was. You broke my fucking heart." He discontinued our eye contact and looked away and tears welled up in his eyes. He was sorry, I could tell, but I kept talking anyways.
"You blew your high school education and felt like you had nothing else going for you except the Navy. I still had my education, so I used it to my advantage. I applied for scholarships and made my commitment to the Navy. They sent me to medical school and I graduated top of my class. Before you broke my heart, I didn't know that I wanted to go into a field where I fixed people for a living. I thought I wanted to pursue my art, but then I thought about you being all alone in the Navy." I looked back at him and he was making eye contact again.
"I chose nursing in hopes that one day I might be able to save you. I wanted to know what I had to do in order to keep you alive. Even if it wasn't you who I was directly helping, maybe I could know what to do to save one of your friends and they'd know how to save you if I never got the chance. But here we are and here I am. I know how to save you, and it's all because of you."

Sunday, February 1, 2015

Just Me and Her

Ah, open mic night once again. It was a casual activity that I'd take part in with a few of my friends. Sometimes we'd do duets with each other or dedicate songs to one another. Normally, I'd play my guitar and sing back up for whichever one of my friends wanted to sing lead that day. Tonight we decided to all do our own thing, just because we hadn't done that in a while.

My friend William went first. He sang a Train song and played his ukulele.  The customers in the venue were usuals, and so were we. Right away, they had all greeted us when we walked in with our instruments, excited that the music had arrived. There was one waitress who was in her twenties and wore a little apron with several safety pin buttons on it, each for a different band. Her blonde hair looked darker in the cool lighting of the  coffee shop we were in. There were nine tables, each occupied, and a small stage in the corner. Microphones weren't required or necessarily needed because the audience was usually respectful towards whoever was playing, which was why my friends enjoyed playing here so much.

But I had a different reason for always coming here. I didn't just come on the nights that we were playing. I'd come here several times a week, actually. Whenever I had time, really. I wasn't even that great of a musician, but there was a dark haired girl who always clapped for me.

Yes, the dark haired girl . The girl who would sit at the table right in front of the stage. She was gorgeous. She had this short curly black hair and these big brown eyes. I'd get on that stage every time, purely with the intention of just singing to her. The coffee shop could be full, but as long as she was sitting in the front, it was just me and her.

Something told me she was close to the people who worked there. Maybe a daughter of the owner or something like that. She had such a positive attitude, always clapping for everyone and smiling.  She'd order the same thing every time she came, too: a chocolate chip cookie and whatever tea they had featured that day. She'd wait for whoever was playing to finish before she'd take a sip. It was her way of making sure it wasn't too hot. I wondered what other little habits she had.

Like most of the people in the coffee shop, I assumed she had just come to enjoy the music because she never said much. Maybe she was shy? Unlike some of the other regulars, she would never approach a musician after they performed to tell they how well they did. Once everyone had played, she'd just collect her things and go.

Tonight, I wanted to stop her and ask her if I could buy her some tea or a cookie. As a musician, I'd like to say I'm pretty good with controlling my nerves. But tonight I couldn't help but get knotted up on the inside. Butterflies hit the walls of my stomach, and my hands trembled as each one of my friends got on stage and played because I knew that soon I'd be going next. I'd be singing for her again. Just me and her.

The waitress called my name. I took my guitar out of its case and made my way towards the stage. Dark haired girl was in the front again, her eyes following me as I passed by. I introduced myself to the audience, as if they didn't already know who I was, and then began to play my version of "Hey There Delilah". Not once did my eyes look anywhere but right at that beautiful human being right in front of me. All of my nerves fled because once again, it was just me and her.

Afterwards, I stepped down and walked right up to her table to shake her hand. She seemed surprised that I had finally come over. I asked her what her name was, and she just looked up at me with a frown. I tried asking a little slower and louder in case she couldn't hear me over the people in the shop that were probably talking about my song choice. Her eyes were fixated on my lips. Did she have the same urge to kiss me as I did her?

"I'm Rachel."  She said. It was the first time I had ever heard her speak. She sounded different than I had expected, like she didn't know where to put her tongue when she spoke.

"I'm deaf." She explained. Oh my god. She was deaf. Everything made sense now. I looked up at my table of friends who had been encouraging me to make a move for weeks and they all gave me thumbs up. Man, if they only knew.

Every song I sang, I always chose in hopes that it might impress her. And hear, she couldn't even. But as I looked back at her, and those big brown eyes, whether she heard the songs I played or not didn't even matter. She was still beautiful, that's for sure.

"Can I buy you some tea?"

Just me and her.

Saturday, December 20, 2014

Meeting Five Versions of Me

An angel appeared before me as I sat up from my position on the floor. Somehow, I had managed to get myself into heaven, despite all of the stupid shit- sorry- stuff I've done. I probably shouldn't cuss considering how I'm suppose to be modest and all. The angel looked at me, and his thoughts flowed into my mind. He didn't speak, but he said a lot. "When a leaf falls and lands in a stream, it's done for. The waters carry it from that point on. There are different currents, though, that can pick it up and change its course. Easily, almost instantaneously, the leaf can be sent into another direction. And you, my child, are a leaf. You became you by choosing certain currents. Part of what we do here is we like to introduce you to the different versions of yourself, the leaves that chose other paths. First, let me introduce you to Peter, the assistant manager of McDonald's."
A scruffy young man of about twenty came out of an unnoticed door that was behind me. He looked generally shocked to see me. He was me, but he looked different. The sides of his head were shaved and on his arms were several tattoos and needle scars.
"Peter, meet Peter. He is the third alternate you." The angel addressed the young man. Peter started to weep uncontrollably.
Utterly shocked at the loss of control of the young version of myself, I spoke. "I'm Peter, but you probably already knew that. How old are you, son?"
"Nine-teen." He managed to squeeze out. The angel was gone now.
"Alright, Peter. I guess I'll begin. I never got that job at McDonald's all those years ago because I never turned in my application. I actually lost it at the library when I was studying with my best friend, Henry, for finals. I thought about filling out another, but I ended up getting an internship for an engineering company instead."
"I remember Henry. One of the other guys said he lived a good life. You're the third me I've met, though, and each version I keep trying to tell myself sucks. I want to be able to say that I lived life to the fullest. I had several girlfriends and was sort of successful in my career. Assistant manager, that's something right?" Was Peter trying to convince me or himself?
"But I used all of my paycheck to buy the next best drug available." Peter looked down at the holes in his arms. "The last guy I met had four kids and was in his nineties. He died because of old age. You'll probably meet him. The first me was six. Got hit by a car because he didn't look both ways at the bus stop. At first, I thought that my life was good compared to both of theirs. Little Pete got to die innocent. He didn't experiment with the wrong drugs or end up working in a grease bin. And the old me. He died loved and surrounded by tokens of his success. He had a caretaker and a big mansion. I- I had nothing except what was in my pockets."
"I'm sorry," I said. "For me, it was almost my 45th birthday when I died of cancer. I took up the horrible habit of smoking, which led to my eventual decline. I have three kids. We hadn't planned a fourth. I didn't work much. I invested in real estate when I was younger and started renting out my property shortly after. I guess we're the same in the way that we gave into our addictions and they took our lives."
Peter cut in. "But my addiction didn't take my life. I did. I was tired of the same old same old. My family was disappointed in me and had disowned me. I lost everything so I became nothing. I don't need you telling me how wrong of a job I did. I know I screwed up."
"Time's up." Interrupted the angel. Young Peter shook my hand, forcing manners out of himself. Then he went back through his door and closed it behind him.
"Are you ready for the next Peter?"
I nodded and another door appeared. Out stepped a man in high heels and drag. This was going to be hell.

Real Power

I discovered my ability on my 21st birthday. I laid in bed that morning in my small studio apartment and expected the day to go about as miserably as all the rest. Except, when I sat up on this cold morning, and I reached for my slippers, they came to me. I held my arm out as if to pick them up, but they levitated right over to me instead. Initially, I was shocked, and figured I must still be dreaming. Most dreams only last a few moments, so I took advantage of what little time I thought I had. I wanted to learn how to control my fantasy.
But it didn't end. I didn't wake up from some awesome dream. I was living it. I began documenting my progress in a journal, so that if one day someone were to try and convict me of losing my mind, I'd have evidence in my defense. However, my writing soon ceased when my mother called me late at night about a month after acquiring this skill of telekinesis.
"Honey, your father has taken ill. His heart gave out earlier this morning, and it looks like he won't make it for very much longer." My mother's voice was tired, and I could sense that there was more.
There was. Soon, more of my relatives began to suffer heart conditions. Everyone assumed that it was brought on by some virus. Doctor visits proved to be of no avail. I moved out of my small studio, and went back home to help take care of everyone. I thought my ability might be of use to them.
Moving heavy objects seemed to be piece of cake, and the larger the object the more I enjoyed influencing it. Because everyone else was too weak to do much, I became their hands. Reorganizing the guest bedroom? No problem, I'd just have to look at the bed and it would shift to where I wanted it.
But the more I used my powers, the sicker everyone got. At first it was just the heart conditions, but now it was osteoporosis and organ failure. My dad passed a little less than a month after I moved in, and my mom was hanging by a thread. I dreaded the days when another relative would call and complain of chest pains.
I had to put two and two together. Before I moved in with my parents, I had lived a few blocks away. From there, they went into heart failure. When I got closer, that's when things got worse. Even our dog felt the effects of my power. I was doing more damage than good. . . .
So that's how I got here. I calculated the greatest distance I could be from them in order to avoid hurting them. My power isn't as useful to me anymore because of the consequences that it is acquainted with. I'm afraid to use it around anyone and everyone. Using it drains the people that are most important. It takes all of the good within them and turns it into evil.
Power is only selfish, never generous.

Saturday, December 13, 2014


There's a time and a place for everything. There's a time to smile and a time to hesitate. There's a time to question and consider your options.
"She would have wanted to go like this." Dad took mom's hand in his and comforted her as she wept.
No I wouldn't! If only there was a way to get them to hear me. I was in a nightmare and I couldn't wake up. I was screaming and screaming, but nobody could hear me. I screamed at my parents for being so selfish. Just give me a few more days and I'll figure out how to get out of this prison of a mind. But no, they couldn't bare to see me like this, so fragile and unresponsive.
Fuck! Mom, look at me! If I could express emotion, surely they'd see me crying. Why can't I cry, though?
"Are you ready?" The nurse asked my parents. My mother shook her head, and my dad requested a few more minutes.
Now's my chance.
Mom, Dad! I'm so sorry. I'm sorry for never being the daughter you wanted. I'm sorry for stealing that money from your purse when I was thirteen. I'm sorry I brought boys home to spite you. I'm sorry I didn't get to graduate college. I'm so sorry! But please don't give up on me now! Nothing I said was heard. I was talking to an empty room that my parents occupied.
I wanted to touch their faces and feel their gentle hands again, but both of my parents were too afraid of the supposedly empty body in front of them. But I'm not empty. I'm still here.
My dad got up from his chair and called for the nurse. She paged the doctor, and I knew I only had a matter of minutes.
I tried to lift my finger, but it was like the weight of the world was sitting on my hand. I tried to scream, but it was like someone had stuffed a sock in my mouth. I tried to cry, but it was like I had just been sucked dry of all liquids. Everything seemed impossible.
I could hear the footsteps in the hallway, each one getting louder and louder. An old man in a white coat entered, and shook hands with my parents. He walked them through the procedure, continually asking them if this was what they wanted. Each time I'd try and say, "No," it got translated as, "Yes."
The doctor reached for the machine and flipped a few switches, one cutting off my oxygen and one stopping the medications. I fought hard to breathe, but each inhale became more exhausting than the last.
Please! Please! There had to be some way for me to communicate that I was still here. I wish there had been some supernatural telephone that I could have called from. Maybe my phone could have died with me in the crash.
I'm still here, please! My mom shook her head and stepped out of the room. My dad stayed behind and sat at my bedside, where he remained for the next three and a half hours. He didn't even look at me, that hurt like hell. Mom would occasionally come and go, getting more hysterical with each glance at me. She must have known she was killing her baby, and that this was wrong.
I give up! I was done fighting my inevitable death. My parents, the two people in the world that were suppose to believe in me no matter the circumstances, had even given up on me. They knew what I was capable of, and fighting to live was not something I could do. Were they doing me a favor?
"You can go now, sweet heart." My dad brushed my cheek with his hand. Finally, I thought. Finally he had touched me and showed me that his humanity was still there. I didn't think I'd need his permission before, but I felt much more comfortable now for some reason.
So I gave up. No- I gave in. And each breathe became shorter, and the time between heart beats became longer. The sounds in the room got quieter and quieter, and eventually, my thoughts went mute as well.

Why My Coworker is an Extraterrestrial

I know a weirdo when I see one. My family is riddled with talented outcasts, but my coworker is definitely not like the others.

She's been working here for about two months now and has already been promoted twice. It took me two years to get promoted just once. I tried to consider that she must be sleeping with my boss, but my boss is married, and she has two kids.

This girl is just really good at everything- to the point where it's almost unfair. She picks up on things really well. You only have to explain to her once how to do something, and after that she's an expert. She'll watch you so intently the first time, like she's taking mental notes of every muscle movement and every step of the process. She just gets it. She can't be of this world.

I checked her Facebook and nothing exists of her before three months ago. Same goes for the rest of her social media profiles. She doesn't even have a cellphone. Who doesn't have a phone in this day and age? She doesn't own a watch either, but for some reason always knows the time.

One incident occurred just last week. I had just gotten to work, and she had apparently been there all day. Someone asked for the time, and she stared at the food she was preparing and said, "Seventeen-eleven." I looked at the clock on the wall, which couldn't have been visible from where she was standing and in fact, the time read 5:11. Nobody thought much of it, but I thought it was bizarre.

The store also has tile floors, each tile a couple inches on each side. She never steps on the cracks. She never even trips and happens to accidentally land on the lines. Her rhythm is just that good and she's so in sync with everything. I asked her about it once, and she just said, "I don't want to fall in." I laughed, but she was serious.

Her reflexes are great, too. I used to think mine were impressive, but she puts me to shame. When an object falls, she doesn't even have to turn her head to catch it. She just grabs it and puts it back, never looking up. Afterwards, she'll suspiciously look around, almost making sure nobody saw. Usually nobody ever does see, but once she caught me catching her. She looked at me with a look of horror and embarrassment rather than confidence and pride. It was like I had caught her with her hand in the cookie jar. Except... the emotion on her face made me uncomfortable. I was overcome with something like guilt. I almost felt sorry for seeing. When I went home that night, I didn't feel sorry anymore. Instead, I was confused as to why I was sorry in the first place. But she does that to you.

She never speaks unless she's spoken to either. It's not a matter of being antisocial, though. It's literally like she can't hear you unless you invite her into the conversation. But then once you do she knows exactly what you're talking about, and more. She knows exactly what you're going to say before you even say it. It's a one sided conversation, and she's narrating both her thoughts and yours.

She can hear everything, too. She hears things we can't. She knows when my other coworkers come back from their pizza deliveries. She knows what customers are going to order before they tell her. She starts doing tasks before we tell her to. Today, I was going to ask her to restock, only to discover that she had already started doing so. Some of us have jokingly asked her if she's psychic, and she responded with, "I knew you were going to ask that."

Now, I know these things all seem like simple coincidences, but there are other things too that aren't can't be so easily dismissed.

For example, her first week working here she warned one of the drivers not to take the freeway because of an anticipated accident. He ignored her and went on the freeway anyways. He called in a few minutes after he was dispatched, he was all choked up because the car in front of him had gone off the road and caused a massive wreck. Luckily, he wasn't injured, but it was going to be a while until he got back to the store. My boss confronted my coworker about her prophesy, but after they spoke together, neither of them brought it up again. It was like it was erased from my boss's memory or something.

She's extraordinarily different. She's superhuman. I've tried bringing up my suspicions with other coworkers, but they insisted we change the subject right away. She has implemented some kind of fear among everyone. I'm afraid to discuss this with anyone. If I confront her, surely she'll brainwash me too. But by staying quiet, has she not already brainwashed me? Did I ever tell you about the time I got bit by a squirrel?

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Should Have

It's not fair. I know it's not. People should only get so many do-overs in their lifetime. I've taken advantage of your illness, and I am apologetic every second for that.

You hit your head a bit harder than a few doctors wanted to reveal. The accident stole your memory of me, which at the time was not very fond. I was unhappy with that.

When I answered the phone and was given the news of your injury, I was at first devastated. I knew not the severity yet. I knew not the benefits yet.

I gave you all of the love letters I had written to you. I convinced this new version of you that in your past life you had loved me so. The letters were evidence of my side, I had not evidence of your side other than the fact that you had a few journal entries of me. All of which were positive, because that's how you used to be.

I told you how much you used to "love me", and you guiltily followed, albeit hesitantly. I could tell love was not in your heart, but you had wanted so badly to return to the person you once were. You cared so much for the people around you, even though you knew them not.

You treated me kindly, because that's what you thought you were suppose to do. You tolerated my obnoxious friends and suspicious family. Ignorantly, I allowed this to go on for several months. You moved in and we spoke of marriage. I told myself I loved you, too, but my definition of the word was skewed.

You were disappointed with the fact that you could not fulfill this position that was once "so courageous." You aged, and time stole from you the motivation to learn of life anew. I told you how fantastic you were, and supported you, even though I was supporting a lie.

You never existed. Never a person like you did. The truth is, I was just the selfish friend who happened to be in love with you. You had never spoken to many people about me before, which made it so easy to get away with it for so long.

That is until you decided you were a failure. You became depressed, and started drinking. You gave up the image of the person you were once before, and I began to slip through your fingers.

I should have come forward sooner. Should have told you the truth, but I was afraid you'd leave me. I couldn't bare to be alone again, being the one who just watched the game from the sidelines. I couldn't let you go, but my tight hold suffocated you.

I found you lying on the bathroom floor. I had to shove the door open, which is what that big bruise is on your leg. When you wake up, if you wake up, I won't be here. If your mind returns to its previous state, before your first accident, then I hope you have no recollection of this whole ordeal. If you do remember, you know where to find me. If you become the failure you thought you were before, know that you never failed. I just set too high of expectations for you to fulfill. You won long ago, I just never told you so.

But if you are to awaken to a once again blank memory, take the power that that restores. But be mindful, I had that power.

And that's the whole reason why we're back here again.