At Leakycon we don’t say “I love you” we say “WE’RE WIZARDS WE’LL PARTY FOREVER TURN AROUND BRIGHT EYES HARRY I’M COMING HOME I...
I have a request
related to a post I just saw about cashiers asking “Did you get everything you need today” or somesuch
my request is this: when...
As you can see, for my post today, I wrote a little play. I didn’t know how else to post it except in screenshots. If you’re interested, the read more link below will whisk you away to the rest of it. (It’s really short, promise.)
A cross hangs on the wall, right between the line of blow-up Letter People and a bulletin board full of finger paintings. A man hangs there, blood blowing from his hands, caked into his hair. I’m surprised the same people who banned books in the library asked for this to be hung here. It could be traumatizing for a kindergartner, but we’ve all grown up around bodies like these, and no one bothers to look for too long. It watches us as we play, as we learn to share and count to one hundred. It follows us as we age, as we learn algebra, physics, The Great Gatsby, until we are old enough to hang one for ourselves, until we are the ones showing corpses to kindergartners and saying they are beautiful.
You tell me that you’ve never been in love, not really, and I feel an overwhelming sadness for you that makes me want to take you into my arms and kiss you until you can’t breathe, to bring you to an Italian restaurant and refuse to let you pay the check, to write you poems and songs and letters. I want to make you fall in love with me, just so you could feel the warmth it brings. But that’s not fair to you. I’m not one you would want to love.
I think how easy it must be, to have never been in love, to not have little snippets of yourself scattered all over, and to not have little ghosts of others inside you. And it must be beautiful, to be waiting patiently to finally be swept off your feet, to fall in love correctly, in perfect form.
But I couldn’t give up the feeling of intertwined hands, the blues and browns and greens of their eyes. They are a part of me now, as I am a part of them, and I know what it’s like to be in love.
Before I can stop myself, I lean forward and kiss you.
you light me up
like a string of christmas lights
on the winter solstice.
and sometimes when you smile,
i see spots behind my eyes,
like i’ve been staring at the sun.
i can’t help but fear that i’ll hurt you,
that i’ll dim those bulbs in your eyes,
but they’re what i see by.
they’re what keep me
from losing myself in the dark.
and i would do anything
to bask in your rays
for a bit longer.
I never believed in ghosts until I met him, until he showed me the way the pantry door opened by itself, the orbs he insisted I’d missed because I’d chosen the wrong moment to blink.
I suppose I didn’t believe in them, but I humored him, and that’s almost the same thing.
If he thought there was a spirit about, he would call out, asking its name like an old friend. I would kiss him, closing his lips, because I didn’t want to know if they would answer.
Ghosts float around, trying to make an impact on the natural world but always coming up short. They strive to be noticed, to be heard, by someone, anyone. They are shadows of their former selves, not realizing that their state of matter ever changed.
I realized he was so fascinated with ghosts because he was one of them.
We were once the aurora borealis,
Shimmering above the night sky,
Our bodies intermingling, our colors blending.
You were the purples, I was the oranges,
And together, we made fire.
But you took the purples away,
The flames too hot and the tundra too cold,
Too much all at once.
Without you I only burn,
Obliterating everything I touch.
I need someone to slow me to embers.
I thought we were the northern lights,
But I was just a spotlight in the night,
And you were just smoke.
you don’t believe that i have baggage,
because i don’t wheel it behind me,
opening it up and handing out
bits like party favors.
i hide mine close to my person,
secured with zipper after zipper.
if i let it free, i imagine
it would consume the entire room,
and would never fit back inside,
and you’ll never get it all off your walls,
or off your mind
or out of your hair.
you have your own burdens.
you don’t need mine caked to your skin.
A thousand layers come between us,
And no matter how many hours I spend peeling them off,
You’re always bundled up again in the morning.
You tell me you need retouching,
Blurring yourself so profoundly
That I don’t always recognize you in a crowd.
Your saturation is high, beaming reds and yellows,
Your curves to die for,
But you can’t see it, even when it’s magnified.
I wish I could erase your background,
Render you a new one where you’ve always been loved,
Without the heaviness, one not confined to greyscale.
But all I can do is hold you while you shake,
Bake you sugar cookies and let you dictate the Netflix queue,
And hope that maybe I can add some hue for a while,
Some pinks (#F52887) or greens (#57E964) for a change.
A thousand layers come between us,
But when you shed them,
You are radiant.
You are chocolate-covered espresso beans,
And pages read by flashlight in the middle of the night.
On some days, we’re Lucky Charms marshmallows,
Bass beating in your chest cavity at a rock concert.
But sometimes we’re the smell of wet paint,
The feeling in your feet before you fall down the stairs,
The interminable pod race in Phantom Menace.
And that’s okay.
You tell me that without drops,
A roller coaster is just a track.
You grab my laptop, hold it behind your back, and say,
‘Kenzie, get off Tumblr;
Let’s go outside.’
We are Holden Caulfield gallivanting around New York City,
Scoffing, complaining that the lights are too bright.
The blinking red hands shout at us, begging us to stop,
But we run through the intersection as cars slam on their brakes,
Our laughs grotesque and cold.
Sometimes I wish we could just enjoy things
Instead of mercilessly picking them apart.
We are the jump-kick of justice,
Handcuffing criminals and kissing while police read them their rights.
People assume that you’re the hero and I’m your trusty sidekick,
But I know you see us as equals, partenaires dans le crime.
I get tangled up in your cape, trying not to fall behind.
You keep me on my toes, caffeinated into the night.
(This poem is a response to the 20 Little Poetry Projects writing exercise. Although it does not contain all 20, many remain intact.)
(Photo by my super talented friend Ella.)
I remember when Adeline was still here, when her house smelled of saltwater taffy and the leather of her riding saddle. Her hair, more raspberry blonde than strawberry, whipped through the wind as she stood at the top of the hill we loved to climb in mid-July, when it was covered in little blue flowers. We’d stay up there all day and fall asleep on a blanket in the dewy grass after reading Hemingway or Woolf by the light of a jar of fireflies.
Sometimes our hands would touch, or she’d kiss my cheek, or we’d lay almost overlapping looking at the stars. I realize now I lived for those times, for the flush on my cheeks before she moved away. I loved her before I knew what love was.
Of course, it’s easy to remember things through a beautiful haze that wasn’t there. I’ve blocked out the boys she’d sometimes bring up to the hill, the way she’d drag them into the forest and leave me to read alone. I’d forgotten the scars I saw when she wore a two-piece bathing suit, between when she uncrossed her arms from her stomach and when she made the plunge into the water.
I can even forget the towel bar, the yellow bruises on her neck that couldn’t quite be covered with makeup, the blue flowers I insisted on putting in her hands, if I drink enough cheap wine and am far enough away from that town, that hill, that night. I can forget that I never told her that I loved her, that maybe if she felt loved, she would have stayed.
I can sometimes forget, but I’ll never stop remembering.
It’s so cold outside that I can see my breath. I raise my face towards the sky, letting out all of the air in my lungs, pretending I’m a dragon or a chain smoker. I’ve been outside for probably a little over an hour. Maybe soon they’d let us inside, where I’d at least have some artificial light to keep me company.
I hear someone say “hey,” but assume it isn’t addressed to me until I feel a single finger tap my shoulder. It’s attached to a guy about my age, wearing a coat that practically devours him in its puffiness.
“Do you not have any gloves?” he asks, looking down at my hands, bundled up tightly in the ends of my sweatshirt sleeves.
I shake my head, and he unzips one of his jacket’s many pockets and tosses me a pair. I flash him a smile; he beams back.
“I’m Shelby,” I say. “I didn’t know we’d be outside.”
“Oh, you’re a newbie?” he asks, teasing. I nod. “Yeah, they always make us wait outside here. It’s probably masochistic that I keep coming back, but they have the best deals. Oh, and I’m Mark.”
“You come here every year?”
“Yeah, and usually hit up a couple of other places, too. I would go through hell for cheap electronics.” He sees the unpleasant look on my face. “What?”
“I hate Black Friday. I wouldn’t be here, but my mom got sick and begged me to get an Xbox for my brother.”
“Ah. Are you just here for the Xbox?”
I tell him I’m not; I’m probably getting an iPod for my mom too. He’s getting things in the same departments, but he says they’re on opposite ends of the store. He lays out a plan, sending me to the video games and him to the Apple products, to better the chances of getting what we came for.
The doors open, and I shoot up from the sidewalk. Once we’re inside, we part ways, quickly maneuvering through the crowd. I grab my Xbox and Mark’s Wii, and sprint away from the rack before I get trampled.
It takes me a while to locate him again in the throngs of people, all shoving elbows and angry shouts, but his coat is hard to miss, and we’re in and out within twenty minutes.
“Well that was relatively painless,” I say, and mean it.
“I’m glad your Black Friday experience wasn’t completely traumatic,” he says. “I have to get to another store, but….” He pulls a Sharpie from his pocket, takes my hand, and writes his number on my wrist. “Call me, okay? We can hang out somewhere that’s not twenty degrees or teeming with soccer moms.”
“Deal,” I say. He squeezes my hand—I didn’t realize he was still holding it—before turning around and walking to his car. I walk to mine as well, a spring in my step despite it being five a.m.
Maybe Black Friday’s not so bad after all.
Our fingertips are caked with powdered nacho cheese as we pile on sixth floor lobby’s couches, still wearing dresses from the ball. Too tired to keep dancing but too excited to sleep, we wait limbo, eating snacks and trying not to count the hours until we have to go home again. Exhausted witches and wizards trickle out of the elevators in various states of inebriation, and as they walk past, we ask, “Do you want some Doritos?” Some shrug us off, but most eagerly join our circle, and for a time, we pass around the bag, forgetting we’re strangers.
(Author’s Note: I wrote this about an experience I had at Leakycon, a Harry Potter convention that took place this year in Chicago. It’s for a flash-fiction contest for attendees of the convention. If you like it, you can go vote for it by clicking the heart here.)
UPDATE: This won the contest, and I received a Kindle for it! Eep!