Silence

Silence, when it came over, was noisy. Ringing in my ears, clacking unceremoniously, making itself known as if I’d somehow, god forbid, miss its entrance. As if it’s so easy to remain impervious to the raging, galloping rush of nothingness as it tumbled its way into my bare room. It pressed itself on me, pushing my face from both sides, trying to squish out whatever remained of my pale tear-dried cheeks. Compressing them as though they were a petty jpeg image of something larger, more significant than they seem.

Silence, when it came over, was unkind. Grabbing my ears by the edge, it pulled, tugging hard to make sure I strained. Fresh tears drained. It waited for the drops to drip, just long enough for them to solidify before forcing my eyes to renew the flow. Invading my comfort, it pulled the wind out of my lungs, extracting all joys, twisting, as it went, words that rumbled deep within my belly, croaked in angst, and crouched in agony.

Silence, when it came over, was swift. In one flawless motion, she swerved out of the road, and my world blackened. Cars don’t make good presents.

Stories

Lights flickered. Like a butterfly out of a cocoon, fluttering gingerly, like a new born testing their blurry vision, in a soft, delicate motion the street lights flickered, and with it ran a shiver down Anya’s spine. It was a warm spring night, and the little hand of her wristwatch crept towards twelve, mere minutes away.

A pin drop would’ve thundered. So quiet was the street, the last car having wizzed past the bus stop, where she now stood, over an hour ago. A dreary downside to living in a small town of a few thousand. In the dim yellow glow of the street light, Anya shuffled closer to the pole, looking up again to check if her bus would stop there. It would.

She looked at the watch. A knot churned in her belly, tightening with every breath, twisting her empty stomach. Perhaps the last bus was long gone? A warm breeze slapped her face, as if reminding she still had a phone, dying almost, subsisting still. Twenty percent—a lifeline—should be enough to phone a friend. If only she had one. Damn, being a new migrant was hard.

The knot snaked towards her throat.

Just then, she saw in the distance, two headlights heading her way. As hot scoop running down frozen ice cream, tender warmth washed through her. Finally. Safety.

As the bus jerked to a halt, she gasped in glee. A large pair of sunglasses sat on the driver’s shiny head, and he nodded in solemn silence to her toothy grin. No bald bus driver had ever seemed so welcoming.

Snuggled in bed, thirty minutes later, she mused letting the soothing gin drip down her throat. The world didn’t lack stories of terrifying experiences. It lacked good stories of friendly bus drivers.

“My inspiration?” Sitting cross-legged on a raised dias, Anya smiled at her interviewer, having just received an award for her bestselling novel. “Real life.”

To me you are,

Have you ever washed a coffee plunger?

The jug is the easy part. The filter, however, is a wet mess of clingy dregs that’ve made their way into the tiniest of pores, overstaying their welcome like guests who’d muddied your carpets, who’d forgotten what cleanup meant, or how to spot the puddles of molten wax on your table cloth.

Like the soothing trickle of coffee embalming sanity on dry days, the aftermath of coffee also stays with you. Look at that filter. Really. Look at it, the triangular spaces of mesh running underneath the metal that holds it together. See the spring around it and the leftovers of your medium, double-roasted finely ground comforter. Good luck rinsing it out.

Then flip the filter over, and raise eyebrows at the stains, the tell tale signs of your addiction. Scrub it, harder and harder, and you’ll wish you hadn’t clipped your nails that morning. And when you’re done, when the lemony foam washes away in the steaming water foaming your glasses, you’ll see, like a curious case of cavities on clean teeth, that stains remain.

Honey, you are coffee to me.


This piece was published in the Elephants Never magazine. One of the rare occasions in which someplace other than my own blog houses my ramblings. Check out out here: https://elephantsnever.com/to-me-you-are/

Outside

Bright green leaves nodded, agreeing with the wind whispering in their ears. Like a million marbles rolling under the sun, in yellow and pink and white and blue, flowers shone in her face, showing off their sheen, manicured petals pollinated just in time, having lent shoulders to younglings experimenting wings.

They rest a while, but in the end they always take off. For blue skies beckoned them, casting their puffs of cloudy distractions aside, bringing sunlight to the spotlight, inviting explorers, the adventurous blood-eyed magpies and chirping berry eaters.

What a shame to be indoors, Hope wondered rolling her wheelchair out.

Mentality

Lights blind my eyes as an onslaught of motorists zoom past, unaware of the lanky thirty-year-old in tank top and teared jeans, dragging feet along with ice coffee in hand.

Unaware… or uncaring.

It takes me a while to recover, but I don’t stop walking. There was no reason to halt in my tracks, shuffle to a corner, and lean by the railing as a boat or two bellowed from the river running below. 

I’m used to it. 

Chicago never sleeps, and neither do the millions of ants that crawl its streets night and day, heels tap dancing on metal bridges, tongues clicking in response to a muffled voice on the phone, and laughter echoing, reverberating along every alley.

I take another sip from my crush-after-use cup, the weight of which was slowly crushing the earth. I can’t afford to care anymore. I am no longer the save-the-planet idealist I used to be. 

That mentality dissolved with my business, my income.

Seven-Eleven has the best ice coffee. It’s so good that you can sense it trickling all the way down your throat, before plopping on the surface of your empty belly and filling it right to the brim.

Refreshing.