I was scared of losing myself in this world I landed in
Now I worry about what would have happened if I hadn’t.
Trying to remember traces of the dreams I handed in
to my fears,
Now what I face is the task of re-beginning.

I can’t seem to find my way
Around these corridors.

I’m sneaking past the corner of my old life reinvented.

I’ve decided that the day I turn back to the shore is the day I’ll finally appreciate how
it feels
to be alive
.

Photographs upon the wall tell the story of a girl
Who dreamed of flying under sunsets and over the horizon.
She could finally tell herself, looking from above the world,
That what she’d yearned and fought and lived for
was worth anticipating.

I’ve decided that the day I turn back to the shore is the day I’ll finally appreciate how
it feels
to be alive
.

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Waking up to the delicious thought of cream cheese-filled, sesame-sprinkled bagels a block away.
Walking beneath colorful slates of brilliance at night’s old age.
The gasps of pleasure when dreams come true.
And the silent features of reluctant disappointment when dreams don’t come true.
Fighting daily for attention and the laughter of others.
Brushing shoulder against shoulder as weary bodies shuffle down the dirty streets in pairs; the fear of being alone hanging over everyone’s bare head.

The pains of inner icicles during the evening and turning from one form of entertainment to the next.

New York…
The land in my dreams and in my memories evermore. This was truly a dream come true.

Phantom of the Opera
.
Wicked
.
Anastasia
.
Waitress

Crossed legs, hidden feet.

A gray screen covers everything.

His face turns towards the voice, his good eye staring at the mug she holds in her hands.

A smile, a tumble of waterfall hair, blue-ish hues of roughened cloth

Wind, she turns, her ear memorizing the shape of the moans.

Hair in her face, rough, against a cheek of freckles. Her eyebrows and ears taut in understanding.

The wind moans.

The shoreline sings with no one to hear it, she stands, her clothes flying, arms crossed in front of her cabin of sins.

She stands and waits for the weather to change, waits for the ocean to crawl up to meet her.

He leaps from his place on the couch to encircle her ankles. She picks him up and holds him. He vibrates like her alarm clock. His fur smells like fresh laundry. She closes her eyes against his short fuzzy back and sighs. The air is a mixture of soft cat-like wrinkles and stone cold crisp air.

Her bare feet are rooted to the sea stones but her heart is airborne in the salty wind.

____________

I read an essay entitled “Vital Signs” by Natalie Kusz from The Threepenny Review which narrates the story of Kusz’s childhood in the cold yet familiar climate of Alaska. The essay follows young Natalie from a dog attack to a children’s hospital to learning to live with only one eye after the accident. A few paragraphs towards the end of the essay where Natalie describes her retreat to the coast from her writing career caught my attention and inspired me to write the word scene above.

____________

“…I packed some books and a portable typewriter, drove to Homer on the coast, and rented a cabin near the beach. … I liked it best when the wind was blowing and the sky was grey, and the sounds of seagulls and my own breathing were carried out with the water. … When the tide had gone far out, I climbed the bluff back to my cabin and sat writing in front of the window, eating cheese on bread and orange spritzers or tea. … When the tide started back in I took pen and notebook and sat on a great barnacled rock, letting water creep up and surround me, then jumping to shore just in time” (Kusz, pg. 169).

 

 

 

Confidently she walked up to the man. Her face dirty and bleeding from the battle. She glared at him, tempted to sneer, but instead she gave him a scornful look. He held out his hand.

“The key.”

With a face like stone, she slowly took her backpack off one shoulder and then the other. Still not looking away from the man, she reached her arm into her bag. She pulled out a small metal object and opened her fist to reveal a key. She held her arm out, the other hand holding the backpack. No one moved an inch. Not the man, not her, not her friends.

The man seemed to be getting impatient.

“Give it to me.”

He said menacingly between his teeth. She seemed not to hear.

“NOW!
He yelled, thrusting his other hand into a scabbard by his side. Quick as a flash he held a blade to her throat. Her breaths came out faster and louder with the metal to her neck, but her face still didn’t change its icy stare of loathing. The man’s outstretched hand came closer to her. With one final pause, she dropped the key into his hand. She lowered her arm. He lowered his sword, clutching his newly acquired treasure in the other hand. Turning his back to her, he walked away with a low and menacing chuckle.

Over a course of a week, Patrick and Rose began to develop a friendship. One day, Rose saw Patrick as she was heading out of the school building after her last class.

“Hey Patrick!”

She shouted and waved. Patrick waved, and hurried over.

“Hi Rose. How’s it going?”

“Good,” Rose answered. “I was just going to walk home.”

“Would you mind if I walked with you?”

Patrick asked shyly. Rose smiled. “Sure.”

As they were walking to her house, Rose brought up the topic of Beauty in their discussion.

“I think that one of my favorite kinds of Beauty is when I finally understand something.”

Rose said to Patrick as she was tiptoeing along the curb with her arms out to her sides as though she were tight-roping. She jumped down.

“Well, you’re understanding a little more and more of Truth.”

“Truth?”

Rose asked quizzically.

“Yeah, Truth. It’s the most valuable thing.”

Rose listened quietly.

“Understanding is discovering and comprehending Truth. So technically, you find beauty in truth. In understanding.”

“Hmm. I see your point there.”

Rose murmured. She walked along, letting her scarf fly behind her instead of wrapping it around her neck like she was supposed to. Her neck was getting colder, but she didn’t care. It was one of those bleak, leaves-blowing-along-the-sidewalk kind of cold autumn days. Rose squinted her eyes. Patrick had his hands in his pockets. They walked along.

“Why do you like Truth so much?

Rose asked. Patrick looked at her.

“Why do you like Beauty so much?”

“Well, I don’t think that beauty is the purpose of life. Because if it was, that would be too simple. Life is not simple, even though it is very fleeting.”

“Hmmm. I see your point there.”

Patrick replied.

“But you still didn’t answer my question.”

He interjected.

“I like beauty because it gives me pleasure, and it makes me think really deeply, and I like thinking deep. It also helps me to appreciate the world.”

Rose said.

“But I think there’s more to my answer than just that. It’s just that I can’t think of a longer one. Or a more clever-sounding one.”

“It doesn’t have to sound clever.”

Patrick advised thoughtfully.

“But it would sound really cool if it did.”

Two days later as Rose was at her locker once more, the NLG waved at her again. She waved back. After two weeks, their small encounters became more than simply waving. One day after the NLG waved at her, he walked towards her and stuck out his hand.

“Hey, I’m Patrick.”

“I’m Rose.”

Rose replied, shaking his hand. His hands were abnormally large. He looked up and began studying her face. She felt weird watching him watch her, so she decided to stare back at him. Like it was a staring contest. Patrick’s features were somehow familiar as though she had seen his face her whole life. Except for his eyes. They were strikingly blue and hard to look away from, yet at the same time hard to look at. After a few seconds of their heated staring contest, Patrick seemed to come alive again.

“Well, it was nice meeting you, Rose.”

He had said it in such a punctual way and walked away so… elegantly Rose couldn’t help but laugh. Patrick looked back and smiled, then resumed walking. So, his name was Patrick. Now she could call him something other than NLG. Rose watched him walk away. Suddenly she felt her cheeks getting hot. She had just stared at a boy for like, twenty seconds straight. What had she been thinking? Rose combed her hand through her hair. Now that she thought about it, those twenty seconds were the weirdest of her life. But at the time it felt completely normal even though she knew that it probably shouldn’t have felt normal. Slightly confused and embarrassed, Rose made her way to her class.

____________________

The next day Patrick caught up to her as Rose was walking in the hallway.

“Hi again.”

She said, slowing a little so he could match her pace.

His electric blue eyes looked rather thoughtful, almost as though he was trying to comprehend the universe. Rose knew that look well and could tell that he was deep in thought. After a moment, he spoke:

“Oh wait, did I ever tell you about the parachute thing?”

“Umm…. I don’t think so.” Rose replied, tapping her chin.

You’ve never actually told me anything before, she thought silently.

“Okay, so you know when you’re skydiving? The moment you jump off the plane, you have the rest of your life to open the parachute.”

Rose’s mind immediately went to picturing someone jumping off the plane then pulling the parachute, but Patrick’s statement didn’t make sense. She shook her head slightly.

“Wait, what?”

“No, think about it.”

Patrick stopped walking and faced her.

“The moment you jump off the airplane…”

He made a jumping movement.

“You have the rest of your life to pu—“

“Oh!”

Rose exclaimed in a half gasp as she stared into the distance. She understood.

“Isn’t that jut a… a beautiful notion?”

Patrick breathed.

Rose’s mind immediately began tingling, like it did every time she thought about beauty. She felt her tongue forming the words to tell him about true beauty – the real definition, the fact that beauty wasn’t just recognizing something pretty – but before she was able to open her mouth to explain to him, she decided not to. She had a feeling that he didn’t need an explanation of what beauty meant.

Rose walked down the school hallway. She felt oddly out of place. Not surprisingly, she nearly always felt out of place. At this particular moment, she was envisioning a scene in front of her.

She would be just staring at something and then bump into someone and her books would flop all over the place. As she would be frantically mumbling and picking her books back up again, the person who she bumped into would turn out to be some…

Rose itched her scalp. She couldn’t decide if the guy would be a really attractive teenage boy or some “nerd” with round Harry Potter glasses who would shyly hand her her book then walk away. Rose let her hand fall to her side. She would probably choose the “nerd” dude. Well, she felt rude actually calling someone a “nerd,” because it was always used with a negative connotation. But she couldn’t think of any other word which would instill the same mental picture, so she decided upon calling a nice “nerdy”-y person who isn’t really nerdy a… nice guy? No, it needed to be some sort of title. A … NLG. Yeah, a Nerd-y Looking Guy.

Perfect.

Yes, she would choose the scene where when she bumped into a dude, it would turn out to be an NLG and not a popular nice-looking guy. Suddenly Rose was aware of all of the people that were walking in the hallway with her. Cautiously she carried on walking. Someone bumped into her and she almost fell but caught herself just in time. Sharply turning, she glanced back at the person who had bumped into her. Could it be…? Another guy in the crowd whirled around. “Sorry” he mumbled. Then he smiled and waved. Rose smiled and waved back.

Nope, it was no hottie, nor was he an NLG. He was simply one of those kids that she would wave to whenever she saw them in the hallway. Rose recognized his face, but she never knew his name. Just one of those wave-in-the-hallway kind of connections. By the time lunch break was over, Rose had stopped thinking about the encounter.