Month: March 2012

On Pride

I proudly bear your fingerprints as scars on my skin. Scars of a war I didn’t know I was fighting, and couldn’t win. Your essence wrapped itself around me like a cloak, tied me in a thousand ways, with knots no one could ever undo. And yet, I wasn’t trapped, I walked freely.

Now you are sitting here, in front of me, sip by sip drinking your coffee, and I envy the way your lips touch the foam cup. I envy it to the point of wanting to rip it from your entwined fingers and throw it away into the loneliness I am sitting on. I want the cloak back on me, I want the knots to be tied again.

You sneer at me like I’m a stray animal you want to scare. I’m not a child, I know you too well. You sneer when you are uncomfortable, when someone is reading what is inside your mind. You sneer at me because you want me back, yet it is your pride that is building the wall between us, brick by brick, until I have to climb to get a peek of you down there, on the other side.

Climbing, a rope between my hands, pulling my weight upwards to get to the top. When I make it, you are casually sitting on the edge, one leg hanging, a burning cigarette in your hand. But there is no place for me on the ledge because your pride is already there, and it sneers at me, and it takes its foot to my head and pushes me down. You take the cigarette to your lips, like the coffee cup, and take a sip. Meanwhile, I’m kicked numerous times by your pride. I lose my hold on the rope and fall.

“Are you going to finish that?” You ask.

I feel the cup and learn my coffee is already cold.

You grunt. “We are finished. Get it in your head.” You sneer at me once more.

I nod, tears welling up, and watch you take off while your pride holds the door.

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Myself

My knees shake as I enter the place reeking of cigarettes. The strappy stilettos that hold my feet don’t match with the black that repeats itself on every surface, contrasting with the colorful tattoos on everyone’s arms and necks. My fluttery silk skirt stays stiff, as if fearing its surroundings. I am not scared, not inside at least, because I am determined to do what I’m going to do.

I approach the pair of dark eyes framed by glinting silver piercings waiting behind the counter. He eyes my long hair from the top to the bottom, where it meets my hips.

“I’m here to get a haircut.”

“This is a barber shop.” He says reluctantly as his eyebrows meet each other on the bridge of his nose, which also has a piercing through it.

“Exactly what I need.”

He escorts me to a chair, crossing through the sea of estranged looks shot my way. I sit down and see myself on the mirror. Myself, something I had lost a long time ago and was here to reunite with. The chubby barber stands behind me. Everyone around freezes when he asks:

“What would you like?”

I think about it for a moment and remember why I’m here. I’m here because of him, the man that made my life a nightmare.

I throw my hair back on the chair for the barber to see it clearly. That part of me I loved so much, that he loved so much but also used to yank, to pull, to torture me with.

“Shave it.”

A collective gasp goes through the place like a wave.

“Excuse me?”

“Shave it.”

Because I want to be myself again.

Love Stabs

It was years since I saw Johanna, since I felt the butterflies in my stomach when her bright brown eyes met mine. That night she knocked on my door and made them come back.“Josh, I need your help.” Her voice trembled. I felt the air outside and it wasn’t cold. “Are you busy? Are you with someone?”

“No.” I hadn’t been with anyone for a long time and she knew it. “I’m alone.”

She stood silently under the door frame, shivering from head to toe. “I have to show you something.”

How could I resist a request from her? I walked beside her to the street where her car was parked. It was almost midnight, it was dark but I could see her profile clearly, it had the same effect as always: make my heart skip.

“Johanna.” She gave a fright jump with her hand already on the edge of her car’s trunk. “It didn’t go well the first time, but I have to tell you…”

“Josh, this isn’t the best time…”

“I’ve been in love with you forever. The moment I saw you walk into my office with that smile to introduce yourself as the new head of the Customer Service Department I fell for you.”

She popped the trunk open and I gasped.

“This isn’t the best time for that.”

“Who the hell is that?”

“A guy I met. He had a dispute with the company. I took the call, resolved it and we thought we hit it off.”

“But, what is he doing in your trunk?”

A groan came from inside. I took a step back in horror.

“I thought I killed him.”

“Get me out of here, Johanna.” The man pleaded.

I helped him out. He stumbled all the way into my house, keeping a hand holding the back of his head.

“How could you do this?” I sat the man on the sofa and turned abruptly to Johanna.

“One moment we are making out in a parking lot after some drinks and the other I’m inside her trunk.” He hissed in pain.

“He bit my lip. You know I hate that.”

“That’s your excuse for hitting a man and throwing him inside your trunk? How was he supposed to know?”

“I drove all the way from New York for this? Fuck my life.” The man grunted. “I’m Mike, by the way.”

“Josh, nice… well, you get it.” He dismissed me with a wave of his hand. His skin was turning pale.

Then I remembered why I hadn’t seen Johanna for so long, even when I loved her with every bit of my heart. I peered into her eyes and a rush of coldness overcame me.

“Don’t tell me you…”

“I did.” Her eyes welled up with tears. “I stabbed him. I couldn’t help it.”

The blood had stained the black shirt under his jacket but he hadn’t noticed until then.

“You fucking stabbed me?”

“I’m sorry.”

“Don’t just stand there, dammit. Take me to a fucking hospital! I can’t feel my legs, I can’t fucking feel my legs!” His screams of desperation pierced my ears. “And I didn’t even get to have sex with you, crazy bitch!”

“Don’t you insult her like that!”

“For fuck’s sake, don’t defend her, she’s nuts!”

“You see this?” I pulled my shirt up and showed him a three inch scar on my stomach. “I know what you are going through, pal. So shut up.”

“She’s a schizo!”

I ran into the kitchen, frantically searching through the drawers until I found my chef’s knife.

“No,” I towered over him lying horizontal on the sofa “I’m the schizo for loving her.” And I slashed away my anger on his skin.

Josephine

I am eight years old and already know what hate feels like. It burns like fire, it stiffens me like hard wood, it makes me choke with tears every time I see her.

There she is, kneeling over her pet chicken. A voluptuous, heavy-feathered, white chicken. Her skin is as white as the chicken, her hair dark brown, loose on her back. I hate her and hate her chicken even more.

Mr. Elliot doesn’t let us be together much. He knows how I feel for her. “She is the daughter of the ranch’s owner, so it is as if she owned it too”, he says. I don’t believe that. Children own nothing, I know I own nothing ‘cause my mom told me so.

But Mr. Elliot isn’t here and I’m wearing my black boots, the ones that were my brother Johnny’s and now are mine. Mom pulled my hair into a ponytail this morning, so the wind doesn’t blow it into my face like hers does. It blows it down her shoulders and upwards, floating over the chicken inside her hands. The hem of her dress almost touches the mud under her pretty white shoes. This is my territory, this is my playground, the muddy side of the ranch. She doesn’t belong here.

I think she can’t hear my steps as I’m approaching, because she doesn’t look up from the white blob she is holding. “Josephine”, I call her by her name, like I do to everyone I walk into. Slowly, she turns her head to me.

“Marie”, she says my name, I hate how she says my name. “I want to play with your chicken, Josephine.” I say, her eyebrows come together and her upper lip curves up on the side. “Let me play with your chicken, please.” I ask politely so she understands.

I know she doesn’t want to let me borrow it, and yet, her mother always taught her she has to share her things. She’s my age, but my mom always tells me not to share things with her because she has it all already. Maybe that is why I hate her.

She smiles with her perfect white teeth, her arms shudder as she hands me the chicken. I feel it, measuring it, it is warm, her dark eyes looking up at me, expectantly. I wait to see if she pokes me with her beak, but she doesn’t.

The chicken’s head fits perfectly inside my hand. As I close it on the dark bulging eyes, Josephine squeals. Then, she screams, as the fluttering of wings goes on between us. The chicken’s body turns in perfect circles in front of me, just as my grandfather taught me to. With one hand, I keep Josephine away, with the other, I feel the chicken’s neck breaking, the flesh opening, blood starting to drip.

Josephine drops to the ground when the body of her chicken does. The head still inside my hand, I put it over her head as she cries over her dead chicken. Her dark brown hair is now dabbed in red. Her powder blue dress and her white shoes splashed with mud.

She cries, that I don’t hate. I like to see her cry. Mr. Elliot comes running, he heard Josephine’s cries. “What have you done?” He asks the moment he stands beside me. If Josephine says one word I’ll kill her also. “She killed my chicken!” That is it, you are dead meat, as my brother Johnny would say.

I want to pounce on her but Mr. Elliot pulls me away. He takes me to the stable, where he works, and tells me all about being good and being bad, all I’ve heard before and don’t care. All I wanted was to kill that stupid chicken of hers.

Since that day, I’m not permitted even near her. I’m eighteen now and work with Mr. Elliot. I love horses, I hate Josephine. She rides her stallion, her hair blows like a flag behind her. She is graceful and handsome, she has a boyfriend also. I don’t care for boyfriends.

Today I know she’ll run down to the river, she does it every Friday after riding her horse around the ranch. Evan, her boyfriend comes and they do their devilish escapades. I hasten to take the horse for the cooling off while she giggles some steps away. How I hate those giggles.

I follow them through the trail of trees and bushes. He pushes every branch gently away for her. I watch behind the bushes how they strip naked, and dip into the cold water of the river. He swims, she dances. That same grace she shows while on her horse now riding on the water.

Without a word or a sound, I wait for them to stop playing. Evan carries her around the water, kisses her every inch, takes her up and down and splashes, drawing ripples all around them. She moans, he groans, she screams his name and declares her love. If only anyone knew, if only her dad knew.

She gets out of the water first and goes for her clothes on the bush I’m waiting. “Josephine”, I call her by her name. “Marie?” she looks at me with estranged eyes, “What are you doing here?” “I saw what you did down there.” “How long have you been there?” “Long enough.” “Are you going to tell?”

I take her hand and pull her near. Her whole body covered with cold drops of river water. I caress the soft skin of her face with the back of my hand. She smiles, that smile I hate so much. “I never knew” she whispers. She knows nothing at all. As she leans forward with her lips puckered, as she brushes them gently against mine, I realize this feeling inside me is not to be ignored.

And I take my hands into her hair, holding the back of her head, pulling her face against mine. Evan calls her name from the distance, but she can’t respond to his cries. When her tongue slides into my mouth, I jerk her head back. Like the chicken, only quicker, I break her neck and let her fall.

Shot at First Sight

I sat in the train and saw him, just as it was taking off. I looked at him as if not wanting to.

He looked at me from under his eyebrows.

His eyes had a tingling effect on me, the most gorgeous man I had ever seen. Neatly combed hair, dressed to impress. He looked so clean, and don’t even ask about how he smelled.

The train stopped and I was surprised to see him in the queue behind me.

I smiled, he smiled back. I tucked my belly in and straightened my back. His briefcase touched my leg.

“I’m sorry.” He said.

“My fault.” I couldn’t make him feel guilty for having me mesmerized.

“Andy, by the way.” He stretched out his hand as we walked through the station.

“Diane.” He had a strong, firm handshake.

He rummaged through his pockets and gave me a business card. Said to call him anytime to have coffee or talk.

He kept smiling at me and I felt like melting more every time.

“Sure, thank you.” I managed to say before he opened his briefcase, took out a gun and killed the man standing beside me.

Everything turned to chaos as people ran and women screamed. I followed him with my eyes until he was gone.

I read the business card.

Andrew Garrett, Hitman. I was in love.

Stabbing Spree

Many times my mother told me: ‘Do not run around with scissors.’ Well, this isn’t a scissor, this is a knife.

And yes, I’m running. Running and painting the floor with the tiny red drops of warm liquid that drip from my hand.

I stabbed him. I didn’t mean to. It wasn’t what I thought would happen. We argued, we always did. I had a knife with me, I always did.

Maybe he is not dead. I stop. What if I didn’t kill him and then he’ll call for help and the police will come and he’ll say it was me.

Not that they’d find any motives. Or could they? No, no, impossible. Everybody knows I’m a…clean? Well-kept? Normal? A person, yes, but…

Oh God, I can see it now: Mayor’s daughter stabs boyfriend, flees the scene. Damn! Dad will kill me for sure. What was I thinking?

Oh yeah, I know what I was thinking. I was thinking that the little bastard wanted to dump me. And no one dumps me.

The dumpster! Yes, yes, like in the movies. I’ll go back, throw him in the dumpster, go to the police and report him as missing.

My tongue feels cold against my lips again, yes, that will do, the dumpster will do. Now I run back, I should clean this knife and hide it.

No evidence. The traces of blood on the floor? There is a storm coming in today, the rain will wash it away.

No one will doubt on me, I’m the mayor’s daughter. I’m innocent, I’m kindhearted, I’m amiable… I’m fucked! Where the hell did he go?

The alley is the same, the pool of blood is there, I can still hear the echo of his voice whispering for mercy. But…he…is…not…there.

A police siren? No, ice cream truck. Daddy always bought me ice cream, actually, he bought me anything I wanted. Where did this bastard go?

Hard, stiff, pressure, slowly penetrates, cold then warm. I am on my knees, repainting the pool of blood under me.

He leans over me, drops of his blood tapping on my cheek. ‘You can have a knife, but it’s another thing to know how to use it.’

‘Bastard’ it hurts to grunt when you are wounded. He flips me over so I can see how he shoves his knife, repeatedly, in me.

The Cat that Didn’t Run

It was like a vision. I gaped without blinking, without thinking. I couldn’t move, even when everything around me was chaos.

On top of a table with a white tablecloth, she stood, with all her grace and in all her glory. Her pointy boots, their impossibly thin high-heels, the blackness of the suede. Tailored black pants, almost man-like, with vertical gray lines, the hem fluttering with an unnatural wind.

A wind caused by the bullets flying around her. Her white blouse, tucked neatly inside her trousers, embracing her slim waist, her breasts almost peeking out through the open buttons and framed by the black steel of her Uzis.

That night I went alone for dinner, actually, I was hoping to dine with her even when I knew she wouldn’t want to. I was the only person in the world that knew she was going to be there, that knew what she was going to do there. The woman I loved, of whom I dreamt every night, whom I was infatuated with.

She was a hitwoman, she killed for a living. Every night I slept with one eye open, wondering, dreading where she was, what she was doing. With a knot in my throat, without breathing, I’d answer the phone late at night to her sweet sounding voice “I know you are worried, I’m all right.” And turned around, still not able to close my eyes. Torture, masochism, my own Calvary, whatever you want to call it, I was there to see her die.

The deafening sound of the thousand shots, all at once. Her poise, her strength, her torso rocking back and forth with the recoil of her guns, dancing to their melody. Everything slowed in motion, the air was heavy, gravity keeping me on my seat. I was a witness, not a part of it.

To my left the angel, he hair swaying back, her eyes fixed on her prey. Around, people ducking, crawling, screaming, food, wine, champagne flying to the air. Shattered glasses on the red and golden rug. I was the only straight face, I was the only one frozen in time as three men in suits tried to shoot my angel down. Her portrait, so beautiful yet so stern, one foot in front of the other keeping her balanced.

One man down, his bloody shirt and tie fell swiftly next to my table. Two to go, my angel, two to go, my love. She jumps off the table, her graceful movements just like a cat’s. Cats tend to run away when they know they will die, she was walking forward. There was no fear in her eyes, I was channeling that for both in my stillness.

One step at a time, towards them, another one down. A bullet cuts her arm, she keeps going, still far from the only man left. That we thought was left, or maybe it was me, because she seemed to know that a waiter shouting from the back of the restaurant was actually calling her name. Third man down, her feathery hair sticking to her face, she doesn’t lower her guns when she looks at me. A smile directed at me, a sign of life, she walked to me, I wanted to get up, pull her into my arms and run away from this.

I didn’t see it. With the strength I knew she had from the many times we embraced each other, the many times our love exchanges seemed to turn into wrestling matches filled with panting and sweating, she threw me off my chair and under the table. The tablecloth was blocking my view, I pulled it up in time to see the man fall face down on the floor five feet away, hear a hard thud on my table and see the stream of blood trickle through the fabric and into my hand.