Are You for Real?

If love is the light that dissolves all the walls, why did it make these ones thicker? What you did was ultimately love, I know. Well, mixed with the quiet desperation of never making it outside the realms of Almost There. You wanted out so badly that you made love up. Love was going to work for you so well. You told me that so many times. But it’s made me like you less and less as I witnessed it all. I couldn’t help it. I feel bitter, resentful, and downright upset, even though I know the truth – that this love isn’t real.

There is nothing to be jealous of. This is all make-believe, I know. And yet here I am, standing still at the door of your made-up world, gathering my strength to knock, be let in, and not let it show; how jealous I am. How mad I am. How unforgiving I find it all, and how beautiful I find it all, and how unbelievable I find it that you went through with it all. I’m standing in front of it, trying to get myself to believe in the lie you turned into truth in front of our eyes. I just can’t get over you making the ugly this beautiful.

Continue reading “Are You for Real?”

Some Words, the Way They Look at You

Picture this: there is an empty space next to you at the table. You make it the shape of everything you need. Now you say hello. This is you at your best, also known as Your Strength, but you haven’t been properly introduced yet. You don’t know what it is, and you don’t know it’s yours. You just know that you like its presence. You let it vanish as you keep doubting your power.

Or you walk to work, heels echoing on the pavement, still a bit of warmth from the bed clinging to you. You take a seat on the bus and fall asleep to the sound of traffic. The night before you were at your desk, hoping it would knock at your door, take off its wet clothes, and sit with you by the fire. Add a glass or two of red wine to the picture.

Continue reading “Some Words, the Way They Look at You”

Love on Toast

I curl up in the empty bed. I can’t get warm. When I don’t write, the warmth trickles out little by little. My body keeps the score. ‘Have you expressed yourself lately?’ it asks. I sigh. I can’t write when I can’t feel. What am I supposed to do? My heart is elsewhere, and I don’t always know how to bring it back home.

I was told there is a hardness to my eyes where there once used to be light. I curl into my shell like a snail. The words hurt then, and hurt now. I remember the way I felt those days – desperate not to be the girl with the soft eyes and the even softer heart, ashamed that I was – and I just want to melt back into them. But the trouble now is that I can’t. One summer there was no girl left in me. Whatever has grown back since simply doesn’t feel the same.

Continue reading “Love on Toast”

Say Hi to My Feelings

Sure I’m mad – but behind the anger, beyond the frustration, underneath the hate, there’s only sadness. The other layers aren’t even real. I made them up to cover it up. Boredom is rage spread thin, and sadness is grief the same way. There’s just so much love inside me, and it’s got nowhere to go from here. I’ve got nothing to do with it. I spend my days watching it die.

I press Replay like a maniac. It tricks my brains into thinking we’re working on it. In the background there’s always me screaming ‘can you still love me, despite of this’ where this is me, followed by a pause. I wait to hear yes like a blessing, like permission to rest, like forgiveness for being the way I am. But the answer remains radio silence. It sounds like no even when it doesn’t sound like anything at all, and it’s making me bitter and mean and impatient.

Continue reading “Say Hi to My Feelings”

Taking Shelter

It’s been another year. Let me pull you gently now and take one good look. You are vibrant and gorgeous, and your mind is insanely cool. But you say, ‘I am trying to be you, but I am not you,’ and your hands are cold and don’t remember how to rub together, and your legs are restless and follow imaginary circles on the kitchen floor. I swear I don’t know what to say.

The right thing would be, ‘But you are me,’ but I know that you wouldn’t believe it. Not now, after the year you’ve had. You think you’re light years away from what you’ve dreamed of becoming by now. I get it. You need more time to come back to yourself. You need more time to come back to me.

Continue reading “Taking Shelter”

You Call That a Knife? This Is A Knife.

I write fiction because it feels less intrusive. We invent the worlds we need to make sense of reality. It’s a safe space to taste the juicy goodness of the present moment, or stretch your heart open to let the vague foggy sadness out. No one has a clue what you’re doing, and it looks interesting and fun to watch. But writing is always confessional. The need to hide always gets crushed by the weight and weirdness of the need to confess. And suddenly, your characters start talking to themselves, or to each other; and there lies everything you want to say.

Continue reading “You Call That a Knife? This Is A Knife.”

I Miss, Therefore I Am

I want to believe in God, but I doubt that He’d believe in me if I were to make Him up again. I’ve been staring into space for so long now and not once have I had the feeling that we may get on good terms, even if I let Him exist again out of sheer desperation. It wouldn’t be like when I was little and He was bigger than the world, which, even for an imaginative child, was hard to picture. Hell no. It’d probably be more like, ‘Ok, you can come out of the bottle now, I’ve got my three wishes, you ready?’ I shake my head – in disbelief, may I add – and laugh to myself, and it rattles something awake inside me. It’s bittersweet to let myself feel something, no matter how small. I remain loyal to my tendency to shut down in moments of crisis. It’s just that I’m not sure this, too, shall pass.

Continue reading “I Miss, Therefore I Am”

Getting Ready to Meet the Devil

from a work in progress

Towns at rest, people going home, intermittent patches of glitter and dark everywhere, all the little things that make life up were dancing restlessly through her lashes. Head leaning against the car window, Kara felt wide awake with fear and curiosity. Houses rolled past her like a tracking shot in a film, blurring and disappearing from view the very next moment. But they didn’t hold her interest for long. The passenger seat (the safe haven) and speed (a delicious break from the reality of the moment) were half-assing their jobs too. On the other side of the car, Tomás kept giving sighs of helpless irritation, distracting her from her attempt to stay distracted.

Damn you,’ she mouthed silently to herself, and buried her face in her coat.

Continue reading “Getting Ready to Meet the Devil”

How to Be Your Own Story

When you fictionalise your life you have to make up some of the words yourself – the way they taste, the way they sound in the air – and twist them until no one can tell what hell you dragged them out of. When they ask, you tell them you read a lot as a kid, then you let them poke at your surface to give them some kind of clarity. They don’t need to know how you encouraged yourself to leave the mind and step onto paper, with all your words held tightly in your arms. How you were careful not to drop them and break the memories you got them from. How long you spent reorganising them until they looked nothing like the story underneath the story. No. They don’t need to know the words are you. You must tell them that you were inspired by books and films and general knowledge, and carry on with your life as if art was merely an insignificant slice of it, and the first time you tried it you inexplicably ate it whole. No big deal.

Continue reading “How to Be Your Own Story”

The Storm Before the Calm

Takes a deep breath and exhales. Pauses for a moment. Then begins to type.

It’s been months now. It feels longer, like this has always been my life. If you knew what rages inside me, you too would see the flat cloud formation at the top of the storm. I rain over myself, pull up all the roots, violently sweep everything out of my heart. Something’s got to give. I’ve always been the kind of girl attracted to darkness like mosquitoes are to light. I like a good fight with life. You can never win, but you can’t get any closer to sharing the reins with God, either. Even if you know you’re going in the wrong direction and will have to give them back.

What can I say? The voice of reason is soft, and my heart is so fucking loud.

Continue reading “The Storm Before the Calm”

Writer Girl, Interrupted

From the height of my balcony the world seems smaller, easier to tame. Easier to love. Sunlight lay across my knees. I feel like an episode of my life, one that keeps repeating itself. One I can not bear to hear myself typing alive and place on an imaginary shelf. ‘This past doesn’t need to be reused in the future,’ I repeat like a mantra, biting my lips and my fingers and thoughts. No blood comes out, only hurt. I am not even brave enough to bite hard.

I sit there quietly, late into the night. I’m feeling everything, everywhere. My intensity is both a blessing and a curse. It comes with great responsibility, and a greater need for transparency. Not for the faint of heart. I love with both my hands and all of my fingers. When I hurt, I hurt in every colour, from every angle, in any lighting. Other feelings are bland, beige, tasteless. Mine grow into a thick, coarse darkness I have to keep kicking until it bleeds daylight all over again.

Continue reading “Writer Girl, Interrupted”

In Praise of Blood and Noise

The morning was only growing colder. The streets were still dark. He crawled down roads, staring, as if looking through a window; drenched with old, haunting images of days that now seemed to never have been.

He stood waiting, coughing. The chill of the night had entered him. The lamp by the bed was broken so he lay in the dark for the best part of the night, counting the hours until dawn. There was a strange rage inside him and it was fascinating being so angry.

Continue reading “In Praise of Blood and Noise”

On Fire, But Not Burning

Melanie is the product of somebody’s imagination, a character in a story still being written. As she develops – as she is being developed – she begins to question her existence in between her maker’s writing sessions. Why can’t she remember her childhood? What do the blank spaces mean? Why does she not feel free in the world? And, most importantly, what if she wrote a book where the main character is far better, stronger, and more beautiful than she could ever be? After all, books are written all the time, and always for the same reason, she suspects.

Continue reading “On Fire, But Not Burning”

Just Another Love Letter

this post was published in Letters of Love

I hope this letter finds you alive – all senses and engines burnings – and well. It might find you waiting in line at the Christmas market. It might find you taking a break from sitting in the sun. It might find you in your most uncomfortable outfit, a little too full of life to start cleaning the kitchen and a little too empty now that everyone’s gone. It might find you in the light, in the dark, in the back of his favourite café, in foreign places, in your parents’ car, in between her cream-coloured pillows, before, after, in the midst of chaos – only, I hope, not too late.

Continue reading “Just Another Love Letter”

I Am a Work of Fiction

Every second of the day is a question that only I can answer – and, because it keeps asking, I am no longer giving it the truth. I say this, but it could have easily been something else, and the best part is that no lighting strikes me down when I push back my sleeves and craft a different answer from the day before. Nothing actually happens at all if I get bored of repeating myself. I am inventing, creating myself one hot minute at a time. I am rarely who I say I am for much longer.

Continue reading “I Am a Work of Fiction”

No Matter How Many of My Cells are Replaced

I write because nobody listens’ was the first thing I noticed about her. She had scribbled this phrase on the first page of a notebook left open on the table. She had fiery red hair, wore little make up and had on a loose black dress. There was a homemade sign up on the wall saying We serve freshly grounded coffee, and a mild smell of cinnamon in the air. I quickly ordered an espresso and couldn’t think of anything anymore, but days with her. It wasn’t long until the lights in her eyes turned off. Ah, the implications of a smile.

Continue reading “No Matter How Many of My Cells are Replaced”

Badland

“The world is not made up of atoms; it’s made up of stories.” – Muriel Rukeyser

“A week? A whole damn week?” she complained.

That wasn’t what she had planned for. Then again, it wasn’t her who planned it in the first place. Rolling her eyes at the sudden, unpleasant thought, she walked slowly across the room, towards the window. Staring out absently, she wrapped her arms around herself, feeling the unease settling in.

“Ah, she talks! A week indeed,” Tomás nodded in agreement in the back.

Her new place was clean and cold – like a cell. You could feel like a queen if you lost your bad thoughts, she lied to herself. But you just had to make them known to everyone, didn’t you?

Continue reading “Badland”

Here Be Dragons

One day, you decide to take the lead ropes to your life back. To do that, you need to go up to the top floor of the building that is you. You need to knock, say your name, make friends with your inner dragon, and ask him to share the power. It’s terrifying, but it’s the only way in.

And so you draw a breath and leave, ready to fight with all your little might. Sure, you know that he’s the source of all your strength, but what else do you do on the way up to visit a dragon, but talk to your own reflection in the lift mirror about how you’re the baddest?

Continue reading “Here Be Dragons”

Nothing Is Ever the Same As They Said It Was

The street shines glossy black after the rain. Pavement cafés are crowded, and vehicles hiss by – their roars constantly approaching, breaking, receding. I watch them holding my breath, forgetting to blink. I am alert, but null. The restlessness of the city mirrors mine tonight, and slowly tempers it.

I’ve always enjoyed lights, noises, explosions. They came to me like divine permission to sit back and enjoy the ride. The world was happening. I wasn’t in charge of firing it up or holding it together. What a relief – for the shortest amount of time, not needing to be in control.

Continue reading “Nothing Is Ever the Same As They Said It Was”

Where I Hide Secrets

Sipping on coffee, I look at the bunch of contradictions screaming at each other on the paper in front of me. Some tell my stories with more detail than I’d prefer, while others tell me the stories I’d like to hear instead. Good. It means I wrote it all out, and now nothing makes sense. I laugh, quietly, at the mess.

But the work isn’t finished. Now I need to group and edit and re-work every single paragraph, until no one can tell what’s real and what’s not. This is how you write a book. You hide yourself behind your own words, between your own lines, until they catch a glimpse of you, but can never be quite sure. When it’s relatable precisely because of its vagueness, you can rest. Your world is safe from harm, and people will want to read it.

Continue reading “Where I Hide Secrets”

Following New Love Out the Door

He still thinks this is how I was born. How terribly naive. At times, I wish he’d realise that my cells didn’t decide to man up and learn some coolness as they were putting me together. That was my mind, many years later, laying out in front of me a detailed plan to make me good, and easy, and loveable.

“You are like a beautiful tomboy, bold and real and, at the same time, pretty and sensual,” he tells me, and I know that he is fascinated with what he sees.
He just doesn’t know I’ve made it up for him, to see exactly this and nothing more. I want to tell him that, but I instinctively put on a small smile and keep walking. A little longer, I think. Just a little longer, ‘till I tell the truth. 

Continue reading “Following New Love Out the Door”

Sneaking Out of Your Second Story’s Window

November rain is cutting through the stillness of the day, like a reminder to be present – a reminder that they are finally together, even without much to say, and that maybe they shouldn’t drift apart from each other yet. It’s still early, and conversation is hard to hold. Their voices are breaking too often. They sound nervous and uneasy, clinging to their comfort zones. Nobody can tell they used to be lovers, and they can’t tell if they are going to be lovers again.

Continue reading “Sneaking Out of Your Second Story’s Window”

A Scene That Should Have Been

The old wooden staircase, the black bricks in the wall and the large plants on the sides of the stairs, all gave her the chills when she first entered the building. Her body felt heavy, as if wrapped in layers of questions and blank spaces she couldn’t shed for she knew she’d find them again at the top of the staircase. The questions, wearing his perfume, and the blank spaces, hers.

“Are you trying to figure me out as we speak?” he laughed on their first date.
He was tall, had short brown hair and green eyes, intelligent eyes, the kind that were hard to read because they were always happy. But his laughter was the first of all things that she would grow to love about him.

Continue reading “A Scene That Should Have Been”

Alegoria

It was late November. Or April. Or August. I guess it could have been Christmas, but most cafés would have been closed – and where else would I have run into him? I’d say it was New Year’s Eve, but that would create too much pressure for one day. What is the best time to meet someone who then proceeds to change your life repeatedly? Is it January? Is it March? Is it a lazy summer day that doesn’t promise much otherwise? I don’t know, so I’ll just go with February. It was February, then.

If it was February, then there were still blankets of snow on the sidewalks, which always makes for a nice detail in a story like this. People walked hurriedly, with coffee and phones and shopping bags in their hands. I need you to know that, despite this is my story, I was never alone in it. Not until very late anyway, when it was all reduced to what I wanted from life. I know, you don’t get many happy endings like that, do you?

Continue reading “Alegoria”

Waking Up With Stories on My Mind to Tell Nobody

There are nights when I’m still burning with passion for all the things we did and all the more we could have done. These nights I don’t sleep at all. I toss and turn in my bed for hours, ardent and wanting and alive. Other nights I sleep well, and I wake up laughing at all the others when I don’t.

What am I losing sleep over?’ I wonder every morning. ‘There is blood singing in your veins. You can do so much more, you can be all that you want. Move on from the stories you knitted with theirs, for they belong to neither of you now.’

Continue reading “Waking Up With Stories on My Mind to Tell Nobody”

Piece of Mind

There is a nice apartment above the bakery. It is inviting, relaxing, with an air of elegance and sophistication. It’s where he first said those magic words to her, and she first touched his face with new love on her fingers and let warmth spread throughout her body.

The whiteness of the kitchen’s walls holds a painting of a dark blue river running wild over black rocks, covering a fist-sized hole. She thinks of it as her life flowing, fighting, freezing and unfreezing. As for the hole, she thinks of it as him, then thinks of it no more.

Continue reading “Piece of Mind”

Warming Me Up

He’s been staring at me for a couple of minutes now and I’m getting uncomfortable. I tried to make a joke to show him that I’m fine, but he didn’t believe me. Of course he didn’t believe me.

“What did he do to you this time?”

“Who’s him?”

“I don’t know,” he shrugs. “I never know this.”

I give him the look, then look away.

“Nothing,” I say and take a deep breath.

“Oh. Then what are you doing here?”

Continue reading “Warming Me Up”

Mindscapes

It’s summer, dark and quiet up here. Imagine the heat, the lights, the noises – and the girl, curled up on the black wooden chair, chin on her knees, absently looking out over the city. I bend over the table for the pack of cigarettes and take one out. I’d ask her to join me, but I’m not in a rush to get her talking. I know we have all night, which is strange and exciting at the same time.

Exciting, because she has that je ne sais quoi that can only be found in someone’s eyes, or sadness, or intensity. I look at her and it’s everywhere. It’s my second nature to watch people when they’re out of their comfort zone. That’s how I get a feel for my stories. But with her, the more I try to catch that something to put on paper, the more I end up caught in that something else. What something else? Je ne sais quoi, honestly. As for strange…

Continue reading “Mindscapes”

Sharp Prose

He said he was going to write a story about us. I took it seriously. Later, I found out it was. I was excited to hear that we could inspire someone to turn us into literature, even if nobody would ever read it. Maybe some stories aren’t meant to be read.

The man didn’t even have a name. I asked, because I wanted to find him on the way back. He laughed at my plan and said that we should come back to the village and ask anyone for the craftsman; that was what people called him. I turned to Kevin, but he wasn’t paying attention.

Continue reading “Sharp Prose”

Filling Up Gaps With Cotton Candy

I know you’re real, but you have imagination stains all over your face. I’ve filled up all the gaps with cotton candy, and fell in love with a man who brings me poetry and mystery and desire. It’s everything I’ve ever wanted from you. I just wish I could be sure that it’s you.

I’m trying, I’m trying so hard to let you shine through. I do my best to listen to you, to feel the taste of your every word, your every experience, your every state of mind. I’m just overly excited at the possibility of having found someone beautiful that I’m afraid I also made up miles of you.

Continue reading “Filling Up Gaps With Cotton Candy”

Swallowed Whole by Life, Not to Be Spat Out

It was summer when, night after night, we fell asleep with fast hearts and hurried dreams of sunlight, fresh air and new adventures. You kneading my spine and pulsing through my veins, me telling myself that happiness never hurt anyone and, if worst came to worst, misery is always refundable. 

Seconds diffused into days and memories in the making as I was holding your hand, growing luckier day by day. One morning, you said that you had never seen a spark before, that most people don’t sparkle. I knew I was light years away from what you saw in me, but your eyes were so used to darkness that even a shred of light like mine could blind you.

Continue reading “Swallowed Whole by Life, Not to Be Spat Out”

Soulshine

In my world, I let you see right through me. I listen to my truth on every radio, I decorate the walls with beautiful paintings of my most precious memories, and have large windows in every room. From here, you can see right into me. Those trees over there? I have so many stories about those who planted them. And the pool? I made it myself, out of all the times I wanted to drown in. The mountains at the back? Ah, that one’s for later, much later. But if you stay, I’ll stay with you and I’ll tell you everything. It will just take a little longer. Are you ready?

Continue reading “Soulshine”

A Few More Bricks to Add

Our bodies brushed together. I was getting closer and closer. For a while I remembered what it’s like to be young and scared and wanting so badly to give yourself away, because you don’t know what to with all that’s been given to you.

You do it with your eyes shut and your mind on fire and a burning desire to never get yourself back. Not the way you were, anyway. There I was again, trying to negotiate a new, changed self with a man, since God, whom I had, at that point, turned into some sort of business partner – ‘I’ll be a good girl, just make this and that come true’ – seemed to have run out.

Continue reading “A Few More Bricks to Add”

You Don’t Always Want to Play Alchemist

Art, I suppose, is when you create life and meaning and intention out of nothing, and not everybody in the world hates it at the same time.

You take the nothingness, thick and sticky, and you shape it. It’s fun and wonderful and imaginative, and it caters to everyone’s fantasy of playing God. Creating new worlds from scratch is about recreating one’s own in the process, after all. Fiction is real life, if you know how to look at it. But for that to happen, you need to take little bits out of your dark days and turn them into soft magic. You need to make the black come out of your dark caves and turn into silver. You need to make emotions happen by trying them on first. And sometimes, those emotions wear you down before you have a chance to play alchemist. And then.

Continue reading “You Don’t Always Want to Play Alchemist”

There Is Another World, but It Is in This One

“There is another world, but it is in this one.” – William Butler Yeats

“It’s 3am,” I say.

What I really mean is, I want to go.

Even though that’s not really what I mean at all, but now is not the time. Not the time to make my way into his heart and forget that there might be something greater around the corner, and I should just keep floating. Not the time to want to swim deep, because the surface is getting cold and crowded. My head is spinning a little, but not enough to drown out the little voice that tells me how it’s too soon to be fragile, how everybody loves strength, and how showing anything less is a mistake that can cost me all future possibilities. And so, I want to leave, because I don’t want to stay only to play it tough. I’m never tough past bedtime, or around men like him. And there’s no way I’m going to let myself be soft tonight.

Continue reading “There Is Another World, but It Is in This One”

If Only You Could Put Your Fire Out First

In the beginning, he taught me about fear. I liked that one, so I decided to remember it.

“Why do you talk about fear in the third person? Fear doesn’t have an identity. You are the fear.”

He also taught me about the ugly side of love. I hated that one, so I can’t seem to forget it.

“I’ve never felt suffocated by your presence,” I said during a fight, saddened by his words.

He kissed me softly, and that hurt the most. I knew I had no power to upset him. I knew I had no power over him.

Continue reading “If Only You Could Put Your Fire Out First”

The Softness Still Seeps In

“How did you become you?” he found himself asking, rather out loud.

She laughed.

“What do you mean, me? What do you know about me so far, so I know where to start?”

He took his time.

She was the slightly unusual type – his type. She could probably open her heart as wide as it goes, and close it just the same in a matter of minutes. He could feel the intensity from across the table. He could have felt it from the other end of the room. It only took one good look at her to see it. He knew most people didn’t see it. Most people don’t really look. But it didn’t take him long from seeing her to wanting to see everything in her.

“Not much. You tell me.”

Continue reading “The Softness Still Seeps In”

Keen to See It All, Missing Only the Essential

I had a crush on your mind since I first walked through your doors, all marked Private. I liked what I found inside and didn’t think twice about the signs. Looking around hungrily, I pictured throwing out the locks, getting the Welcome Home mat out and, maybe, tidying up that corner. How did this happen? It’s simple, baby. I fell in love, hard, fast, at a time when I would have eaten love raw and off the floor if I’d seen it. And there you were, walking towards me. Making me feel wanted, when I wanted nothing more. You opened up a little and I thought it was a whole lot. You had gentle manners and rough edges and you showed me the world like I had never seen it before. I inhaled everything with the greed and thirst of someone who had never been on the bright side of life.

Continue reading “Keen to See It All, Missing Only the Essential”