“You no longer know the ocean. You do not remember running after airplanes taking off by the sea. Bare feet burning on the asphalt, laughing as we sped up, believing we would also take flight if we went fast enough. “
Years ago, on that sweltering summer day, we ran into the sparkling ocean, shrieking and splashing and living. Today though, I’m drawing starfish and seashells on the corner of a letter that will never reach you. Even so, I’m writing to you about how the ocean calls your name. How I wish every seashell I put to my ear would echo the sound of your laughs. I wish the ocean we shared before didn’t have to be the one thing to separate us now.
But do you remember what summer was like here?
The sun heating our faces, turning our shoulders red. The shaved ice coloured pink, green, yellow and blue that would melt on the stick, dripping down our hands. The wind filtering through the locks of our hair stiff from dried salt. The cold water we would drink straight from the coconut, heavy in our small arms. Do you remember that even then we held hands? Back when we knew nothing about the world, and it seemed the most natural thing to do?
Do you remember? But they tell me you’re trying to forget. I can’t bear to ask because I’m always hoping I’ll hear the sound of your feet on the sand, sloshing against the welcoming waves. Always imagining you will return to the ocean and dare call it home. But home is no longer the space between our intertwined hands. Home is now an apartment building squeezed in between two others, right? Home is a grey flat lost in the metropolis, a shrub of greenery peeking out of a tiny, stuffed balcony.
There’s no point, right?
You no longer know the ocean. You do not remember running after airplanes taking off by the sea. Bare feet burning on the asphalt, laughing as we sped up, believing we would also take flight if we went fast enough. No, the city is yours now. This little village by the sea is nothing to you. Only a dot on the world map. A bit of green drowned in all the blue. You’ve outgrown the ocean, I guess. So I can only understand that if you’re big enough now to cross it, the only reason you are not here yet is because you don’t want to be.
I finish off the seashells with a golden pen. And the rest is muscle memory. Fold the letter in the envelope. Push it in the back of the drawer. Place it on top of the stack. Try to forget.
Note: This is Day 18 of my NaNoWriMo Writing Challenge. You can find the entry for Day 17 here.
“How many more times do you need to ache to understand that this isn’t normal?”
“How long has it been since you’ve been loved? Since you’ve been seen for who you truly are? How long have you been hiding—cutting off pieces of yourself and burying them in places no one would find them? How long have you been scared of people finding out about your story? How many times have you wished they would? How many more times do you need to ache to understand that this isn’t normal? These memories, these bookmarks of your story—if you bury them, they will only grow. And like baobabs, their roots will find their way to your heart. They will entrench themselves so profoundly that they will take over. Until one day, you will not even see the blueness of the sky. How long until this carefully constructed lie falls apart and you realise how empty you’ve made yourself?”
Note: This is Day 17 of my NaNoWriMo Writing Challenge. You can read the entry for Day 16 here. If you enjoyed this, I’ve also written about similar themes previously.
There is a scent of vanilla floating in the cold, damp night.
And a warmth like a fireplace beckoning me over. One by one, everyone is pulled out of their rooms like moths to a flame.
If the kitchen was warm before, it is much warmer now with all these bodies so close together.
Without warning, the stove is on and the smells of tea and hot chocolate are suffusing the air. If it was almost uncomfortably warm before, the kitchen is now sweltering. Nevertheless, hot mugs are being passed around. Chatter is lighting the small kitchen up.
And the cake that brought everyone here in the first place is being sliced, the delicate fumes wafting in the air.
And as I take all this in: these content faces, the gentle laughs, the simple happiness of it, all I can think is how long until this all ends?
If the kitchen was sweltering before, it is much colder now.
I was a little stunned by the cold droplets hitting my skin, but you darted right away under the almond tree. And I followed you, somehow I always did. We had umbrellas in our backpacks because we knew the weather was capricious. But we didn’t use them. We were young and foolish, and maybe we wanted a little Time.
When you are as young as we were then, you want to devour Time.
Not a drop, not a morsel could go by unsavoured, untasted. I realise now that you either devour Time, or you don’t. Time is not something that you can save up, it is either now, or it will be never. It is like a flower that is left to wither if you don’t pick it.
And it was always now. Back then, it was always now. Always now.
We were not in love, but we were young, we were laughing, we were sharing fears, as though the rain had melted our feeble adolescent walls away. Our dreams were bubbling to the surface—loud,unashamed. Our vulnerable hopes were shining bright under the canopy of leaves. Our thoughts about Life floated like mist all around the tiny bubble that had formed around us and that somehow contained our worlds.
We were devouring Time, you and I.
I swear, in that moment, Time did not own us.
And that’s how I want to remember you, that’s how I want to remember me: Devourers of Time who didn’t even know what they were. We were too busy living to question what it meant to live.
And we never even noticed that the rain had stopped, and that the sun had started shining again.
I don’t want to see you as the sum of the numbers that make up your life.
The likes on your selfies, the number of followers you have on Instagram,
how many girls you’ve kissed
or the number of times you’ve held a cigarette between your lips.
I want to know you for all the parts of you that don’t make sense,
for the mess of thoughts you are before the ink bleeds from your pen.
I want to hear all the things you hide
when your friends ask you if everything’s alright.
I want to touch that mark on your skin you got
one day when you thought you weren’t enough.
I want to feel the words she tattooed on your wayward heart
before she upped and left you in parts.
I don’t want you to strut your stats
(5o likes for a photo of your feet in blue waters)
and think that I care for your numbers.
I don’t care; I’ve never been good at maths.
No, I want to see that beautiful mess of a soul,
and lose myself in all the mysteries it holds.