reading

There has evolved a different kind of reading. We read books still, but now we also read screens, pixelated concentrations on a blank sheet, glowing like a billion fireflies all at once; faces, curious and also disinterested; the eyes, as they say: a window to the soul, and who else but we proud humans could say that we have discovered the secrets of the universe?

# 19:09 AYE (17149)

the sky and white buildings
are dyed in the same colour,
same shade of blue.
on one spectrum of softness,
both sad and comforting,
the clouds shift slowly.
supermarket flowers plays in my ears,
and i think of what lies beyond
the ever-changing layers.
an angel, a miracle mile away.

a 4/4 rhythm calls out memories
of me, an infant in the arms
of my mother, now wrinkled in face
and in blue jeans—
“unforgettable” thomas says,
and i shake my head in disagree.
as what thoughts of her i have left
are locked away in a chest
—impossibility upon theft—
guarded by the naturalism
of passing childhood.

Magic

I remember, once upon a time, you said the real world had a magic of its own. “Why bother searching for magic? The earth is already plenty magical enough.” And once upon a time, I laughed, and agreed with you without truly believing it.

But from that day on, my world changed- as if an illusionist was warping my thoughts, adding a shimmer of things never-before-seen. At first, I had no idea why. But the world appeared fresher, more verdant to me: the leaves of shrubbery and trees seemed to shine emerald green, brimming with the unseen forces of life that, as you said, worked in truly mysterious ways. The sky didn’t just appear blue anymore- it was a bewitching azure, promising hidden secrets within its heavenly realms. And the wonders of life! The chatter of the people, the unexplored back streets of housing areas… Everything seemed, after that day, to hold its own source of wonder and awe- the earthly magic that life promised, I saw it all.

It would have been truly wonderful, if you hadn’t slipped away years later.

After you had pulled that vanishing act, everything lost its veneer of glittering fantasy. I needn’t explain how the leaves lost their colour, turning from emerald to the green that only centuries-old, moth-eaten cloth seemed to possess, nor how the sky had lowered a curtain of musty cyan over its formerly sapphire stage. But all you have to know is, I demanded an answer from the heavens, why such beauty was taken away from me- why I was locked out of this Garden of Eden. Nothing came, of course. No sign, no booming voice telling me an answer to my burning question.

And yet, there was a solution I kept at the back of my head.

I drew up magic circles until my hands burnt with the effort of writing a thousand different characters, hoping at least one would illuminate the way to returning colour to my now desaturated universe. Out of the million incantations I had pored through, I fervently prayed for one that could restore the vivid rainbow that was lost to me forever- the beauty that your existence granted me. I turned to Agrippa, Bacon, and all the old masters of that arcane art you denied the existence of long ago, searching for the chapter that could tell me what I wanted to know.

Finally, I found it in the shape of a devil that appeared in a circle one night- a grotesque creature that was more dragon than human, one with a multitude of eyes covering half its body. It wasn’t you- but it promised magic. It promised to return the sparkling beauty of the world to me, to see the magic in everything on this earth once more- at the price of my soul.

And now, I’ve found you in my arms again.

How strange it should be that a demon should grant me my happily ever after- but I’ll take it.

After all, the world is iridescent again.

Time.

Monochrome

This bitter tone

I’m all alone

Desolation perched itself atop the slope of my shoulders whilst a growing emptiness welcomed itself within the confinements of my chest, calmer than the lowest tide and stiller than a silent corpse. I could muster my energy and scream into the endless void yet I know my cry would reach no one. Amidst this abyss, I spared myself a moment, pausing my mind to question when or why such bitterness has manifested yet all the answers were far out of my grasp… all but one: the sin of existence weighed heavy like shackles on my wrist and chains on my ankles. Perhaps, for this reason, the silence that encased me resounded in such a deafening beat. My blood a deadly poison and my veins a network of thorns yet my flesh remained smoother than the nape of a newborn’s neck. Deceptions and lies became my forte, shrouding who I was in an opaque fog. It was far too easy, I thought, far too easy to lose myself in this inescapable void. Surely my vile and revolting life was born out of evil’s meddling.

All my sins dyed monochrome

All my sins I… should have known

That for my existence, I must atone

Time was the Anthea to my loom of despair. She tugged at the strings of broken pieces, weaving them to form her very own Marionette. She painted a picture of glazed over eyes and a hollow smile, more captivating than sweetest doll yet more empty than a cloudless sky. It was time that nurtured me to veil this hollowness in a network of facades yet it was time whom I was forever enslaved to. I blindly followed the motions of this spinning globe thinking little of life’s bleak meaning. After all, I am a mere puppet and time is my master. These strings my life and this cotton my flesh. From dust I was created and to dust I will return.

Blue

#escapril day 9 submission
Prompt: Focus on the Colour



“Tell me a story!”

“No.”

“Please? Pretty please with a cheeerry on top?” My brother whined in my ear.

I rolled my eyes. “I said no. I don’t have any.”

“Please? Please, please please please please please please.” My brother punctuated each “please” with a jab to my side, reducing me to a writhing mass of gasps.

“Oh ma gawd! Stop okay okay I’ll do it. Have mercy, young sir!” My brother ceased trying to kill me and leaned back on his bed, looking at me expectantly.

I thought for a moment, before adopting a storytelling voice (I just deepened my voice, if I’m being honest.) 

“I’m saving up for a trip around the world. A cruise, to be exact. I’m going to sail the seven seas like Sinbad the sailor, and I’ll get to see mermaids and hippocampi and fall asleep to the rocking of the ocean -”

“Oh! What does the ocean look like?”

“The ocean is blue, blue as a Mentos packet, blue as glaciers. It’s blue as baby’s breath, as concentrated watercolour-”

“And how blue is that?”

I cast my eyes around the sterile white room, looking for something blue to throw in his face. The only blue things in the entire room are: wires that connect the monitor to the power cables behind his bed, and the baby-blue blanket he clutches like a lifeline. Oh, well. 

“It’s blue as … the ocean.” I give a helpless shrug.

“How about “blue as sapphires”, or “blue as corn silk”, or “blue as a summer sky”?”

“Yes, yes, Mr poet. It’s all those shades smelted together into a kaleidoscope that paints the air with colourful shades of mist-”

“Is that even possible? Like, air is composed of molecules that are spread so far apart -”

“Gosh, Fats, you’re so freaking annoying. Another peep from you and no more story time.” I give him a noogie.

My brother leans back on his bed, waving at me imperiously to continue.

I give mock curtsey. “Where was I? Ah, yes. The ocean is blue. Moving on. The sky is cloudless, and also blue, and it seems to meld with the ocean, until you’re surrounded by a blue dessert that never seems to end, and everything is so bright that it feels like you will go blind. And every day, the boat will stop at somewhere new. New sights, new sounds, new foods to try.

I’ll watch a sunset from the peak of a mountain, with its vivid hues of red and champagne and tangerine. I’ll roam the gothic streets of Prague, with its tall steeples inky-black and stark against the silver, starlit sky. There will be waterfalls of crystal and forests of emerald and sage, and ancient museums of intricately carved stone, and deserts the colour of dusty gold and markets speckled with every colour of the rainbow until from a distance the long meandering streets look like strands of friendship bracelets that catch the light and glint.

And through it all, even as the skies change colour and the scent of the air morphs and the winds that blow grow hotter then colder and you feel like the world is too vast and it’s eating you up, there is always the blue of the ocean, connecting, binding everything together.” 

My brother is quiet for a moment, before cracking a smile. “Is the world as big as the pimple on your nose?”

I gasp in mock outrage. “Shots fired! Shots taken! I’m dying, tell mom and dad I love them…” I fall dramatically to the floor.

My bro peers over his bed. “Are you dead yet?”

In a small voice, I croak, “Almost. And the pimple has a name. He’s named Bob.”

My brother starts to laugh, but he breaks down coughing. I haul myself up again, and hold his hand as the coughs rack his small body.

I hold his hand long past the coughing fit, feeling my heart break as his body drains of energy.

If I hold it long enough, hard enough, maybe he’ll get better. Maybe I can transfer the strength of my conviction into actual strength for his body to keep fighting.

“Skinny?”

I force a nonchalant smile, my reverie broken. “Yeah, Fats?”

“Will heaven be as nice as the ocean?” He asks quietly. 

I make myself snort. “Where did you even hear of this heaven?”

“The nurse says that I will soon transfer there.”

I make a mental note to go have words with the stupid nurse.

My brother continues, “ She says that over there, I can have a big house all to myself, and I can do anything I want in that room, and I can eat anything I want, and play anything I want, and I won’t hurt anymore.”

Tears start to creep into my eyes, tears of frustration, or despair, that this idiot’s given up already. I ruthlessly push those tears away, burning them with my conviction. My brother will be alright. He will, he will.

I shove him gently. “That sounds pretty nice alright. What are you so worried about, wimp?”

“I don’t want to be stuck in a room again. I want to play at a playground. And I’m scared. I don’t want to be alone.”

“You won’t be alone. Heaven is a pretty nice place, I hear. It’s beautiful up- over there. Though not as beautiful as the ocean. You can … make new friends there. New family too.”

I look away. Go away, tears. I’m not a wimp.

My brother sniffles. “I don’t want a new family. Will you and mom and dad come visit me there?”

I laugh sadly. “Oh, Fats, that’s the one place I can’t ever follow you.”

My brother looks down. When he looks up again, he is uncharacteristically solemn. “Thank you, jie, for everything. Take care of mom and dad for me.”

I bite back a hysterical laugh. His words, they sound too final, too much like a goodbye.

Why? Why does he lack faith? He will get better, he will!

Wildly, I grab my brother’s hand. “Stop! Stop it!” My voice comes out as a desperate, crazed half-shout.

My brother starts, and I try to soften my outburst with a smile. “I’m not just saving for a ticket for myself, you know. You can come with me to explore the world! Together, we can… we can eat baguettes in cafes in Paris, we can ride the world’s longest slide, we can do anything! It’ll be so beautiful and everything will be sunshine and summer. Heaven can’t compare. Come with me, and I’ll spoil heaven for you.”

My brother cracks a wan smile. “That came out almost-poetic, Skinny.”

I clutch his hand. “You stupid wimp, promise me you’ll come with me. Saving money is hard, and I don’t want to waste all my effort.”

My brother looks away. He whispers, “I promise.”

I make a finger gun and press it to his head. “If you break your promise, wimpy Fats, I’ll teach you the colour of the ocean all right. I’ll give you a ton of bruises, and for your info bruises are blue.”

My brother shakes his head. “I’ll do my best. But unfortunately, most people are not as strong as you, Skinny. Me included.”

I pretend to shoot my finger gun. “There, I’ve transferred all my strength to you. Now I’m a stupid wimp, and you’re a warrior.”

“Thanks,” My brother says drily.

I order him to bed, and pull up his covers. He curls arounds his blanket.

“Story time is over. Night, Fats. Dream of the ocean.”

As I leave the hospital room, I continue to think of words to describe the blue of the ocean, to share with the sweet, stupid child the next day.

 

 

He broke his promise.

I have the perfect description for the blue of the ocean now.

It’s the blue of a blanket left on a casket, soaked with tears and rain, a blanket of a child who never got to see the ocean.

It’s the blue of sorrow, of conviction proven wrong.

I just don’t have anybody to share it with.