Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Love is like Drinking Alcohol © 2013

Love is not a choice.
Love is not a curse.
Love is a fair game,
Until the other team takes the ball.
I repeat the same stanza in my head as if my mind is a television set and on constant rewind. I sit in class, Mr. Jay acting as if he is actually grading when in reality I can see the reflection of the solitaire game pulled up on his computer from the whiteboard. I am not really the poetic type but I am being forced to write a poem by the time the bell rings in exactly eight minutes.
I don’t know what to write. My pencil is hovering over the lined paper, hesitation reining over any slight creative impulse my mind might encompass. As I begin to doodle little hearts and flowers on the side of the page, I notice that the third line from the bottom is a much darker blue than the rest. Was it an accident? As all of these things randomly pop up on the surface of my mind, deeper inside my head all I can think about is Brock. Promise me we’ll be friends were the last five words he spoke to me. I nodded at his question that was expressed as a statement because if I talked, the lump in my throat that I was trying to swallow down would explode making the tears that I was holding back pour out. That was a week ago and we haven’t talked since.
Love requests of us to be loyal to thy partner.
Thy? That doesn’t sound right but Shakespeare uses it a lot, doesn’t he? I wonder if Brock will take the usual way up the stairs, the same way he’s taken all year. The way where we run into each other right between room 105 and 107. The way where we stop to talk and kiss and laugh for almost five minutes leaving us with barely thirty seconds to get to our next classes. What if he takes a different way today? He didn’t last week because he was sick- well besides the day we broke up. Maybe he is just as upset as I am. Or maybe I am letting hope get in the way of reality.
Love is like the ocean,
Just when you think it’s calm a big wave will come crashing down on you.
How cliché does that sound? I don’t know what to say. Four minutes remain and I still have a whole stanza left. I know what love is but I don’t know how to describe it. I remember the first time I knew I was in love. Brock and I were at the drive-ins. He brought a twelve pack of Budweiser that he snuck from his dad’s fridge.
“Two tickets for The Town,” he said to the woman at the ticket counter we pulled up to.
She handed him the tickets and we drove to screen five. It was extremely crowded. Brock put the back seats of his truck down so there would be more room for us. He turned the station on the radio to 109.3 just like the lady at the ticket counter told us to. We weren’t watching the movie though. Come on, two teenagers in a drive-in theater with a whole pack of beer to themselves? We kissed and cuddled and drank our happiness away until we reached all of our miseries and then drank that away too. Brock told me all about his parents’ divorce and his dad’s alcohol problem. I listened. I listened as he slurred on about the truth that he would never bring up to me again.
We began to play 21 questions in our tipsy state of mind.
“You first,” he encouraged me.
“Alright,” I don’t even remember what I asked but I remember being so numb that I forgot how to swallow down the last sip of my fourth beer.
When Brock asked me the twenty-first question what has been the happiest moment of your life so far? my buzz was beginning to fade off.
I thought about the question as much as I could for a lightweight who had just consumed four beers. I knew it had only been five months, but I loved Brock. I really did love him. It wasn’t a drunken decision. I had chosen to let him into my life and being with him was when I felt the happiest so that is exactly what I told him.
I notice the first line of my poem, Love is not a choice, and quickly erase it. It is very much a choice.
One minute until the bell rings. My mind is drifting off into memories that make realize I have known what love is all along. Screw this literary “thy”, “thou”, “tis” bullshit. 
Love is a choice.
It comes along with this sort of feeling that is indescribable.
It differs for every animal.
It is not always blissful.
It is sure as hell not always fun.
It isn’t a roller coaster ride.
It isn’t an onion.
It isn’t an ocean.
It is just a part of life.
Just like eating and drinking and breathing.
Just like drinking alcohol, being in love is the best feeling.
But the hangover sucks.
            The week that Brock and I broke up the drive-ins closed down. His father went to rehab. I got into college. He had to move in with his grandmother. My dog had to be put to sleep. Even with all of this change, time does not stop. It will never stop. Life goes on and it keeps moving. Brock said that when we broke up. With life comes changes but we must move on and leave the past where it belongs so that time does not leave us behind.  

Friday, September 20, 2013

Floral Wallpaper © 2013

Floral Wallpaper © 2013
Alexandria Rizik 
Word Count: 2306
            I waited silently. Women that had many years on me stared at me as if I was some kind of Cyclops. I knew I didn’t belong but who said they belonged either? I felt my shoulders tense up and reminded them to relax. My stomach’s loud growl reminded me that I needed to eat. The last thing I had time to think about was eating. The thought of food made me sick to my stomach. Water made me regurgitate a little.
            The receptionist, young but not as young as I, filed her nails occasionally taking a bite out of her lunch between each nail. I envied her. She was just an innocent bystander watching pregnant women come in and out all day long while she carried on without any responsibilities. Maybe she lived with her handsome boyfriend and they intelligently decided that they would save having a baby for marriage. Maybe she lived with her strict, Catholic parents who watched out for her. Maybe she chose to live on her own away from anyone that could get her into trouble.
            A nurse dressed in scrubs walked into the waiting room and called a name that wasn’t mine. It was Amy or Allie or something like that. I stared at the floral wallpaper that covered the walls. A brown stain covered one of the flowers and I wondered how it got there. Did someone spill their coffee? Or maybe it was chocolate. The flowers reminded me of mom. Oh, mom. If she only knew the predicament I was in. The thought of the disappointment I knew she would have in me gave me a pit in my stomach. Or maybe that was a kick. I thought of flowers. Flowers were beautiful and calming. Maybe that’s why the doctor chose that as her wallpaper. They had all different meanings. For example, a red rose meant passionate love where as a pink rose meant friendship. That’s why men always gave their sweethearts red roses on Valentine’s Day. Stephen and I were somewhere in between the pink and red rose. Like a hot pink on the verge of red. But then again if we were close to red, why wasn’t he here with me?
            The thing about a flower is that not only are they symbolic of how you care about someone, but they can change your mood. Their sweet scents and their vibrant colors can make a dull day just that much more worth living. You can give them as a gift or name your child after them even. People wear them to proms and weddings. Flowers are unisex. Flowers are metaphors, like the one my mom used once. She said that true friendships blossom into something beautiful just like flowers. She was right. The only thing is, she left out that sometimes they could blossom into something even deeper. Things my teenage self was way too young to handle. Thinking of flowers got me to thinking about more floral metaphors like being “deflowered” and that was the last thing I wanted to think about.
            I gazed around the room some more. A woman, around 30 I’d say, with perfect, brown curls that bounced whenever she would look up, read a parenting magazine. At that moment, I wished she had been my mother. I wished someone could help me. I wished someone with experience could give me the right answer on what to do. But, the only people old enough to help me would be so furious that they would only give me a scolding because that’s exactly what parents do. They don’t give the answer they would give to the neighbor kid down the street or their brother’s kid. They’re harder on you because when you fail as their child they feel like they have failed as a parent. I could lie and say they are harder on you because they care and because they have put higher standards on you, but like I said, that would be a lie.
            I checked the time on my watch. The watch my dad had sent me from Paris. He was living a sophisticated lifestyle there with his perfect girlfriend and their perfect child. Mom said that once a cheater, always a cheater, and dad would eventually leave his new girlfriend too. Even though I couldn’t stand his girlfriend, I wished that my mother’s words weren’t true. I wished that I knew what a real relationship looked like. Were all marriages doomed from the start? I stopped myself from getting too deep into a topic that was quite a distance away. Well, hopefully. Lately there had been a lot of things that I wouldn’t have expected to go through until I could at least, I don’t know, maybe drive. I didn’t even have a license. I wasn’t even allowed to buy cigarettes or alcohol but I could make other mature decisions and I did. I was beginning to realize why sixteen year olds weren’t allowed to vote.
            I assumed the doctor had been running late since my appointment had been scheduled for noon and it was already twelve thirty. I was going to miss history. Oh well. I picked up one of the magazines sitting on the coffee table in front of me. It had a picture of a sweet, soft looking infant with these big, sparkling blue eyes and dark hair. I started to imagine what my baby might look like. If it had Stephen’s eye color and my hair color it would be the cutest baby on earth. Maybe I could put it in baby modeling. That’s it! Then I wouldn’t have to drop out of school and my baby’s modeling money could pay my way through college. But how was I going to go to school if I had to take care of a baby? There was no solution.
            The same nurse that walked into the waiting room before, returned once again, a chart in her hand. She looked down at the paper on the chart.
            “Demetria,” she called my name but I stayed silent and seated. She looked around the waiting room waiting for one of us to claim the name.
            “Demetria?” she said again. She shook her head, when I once again stayed silent, and proceeded back to the exam room area.
            I looked around for a moment. My mind said to stay seated but my legs didn’t listen. Next thing I knew, I was standing outside the office. I started to walk with no particular destination in mind. Men in suits. Mothers running with their babies in strollers. Musicians playing their guitars and saxophones to make ends meet. The city was lively but I felt dead.
            I continued down the sidewalk but decided to take the bus when my legs began to feel sore. I sat down at the bus stop. According to the sign, it wouldn’t come around for another fifteen minutes. There was a man next to me. An African man dressed in a decent looking suit. He smelled of piss and rum. He held a sign that read, “Handsome, Hungry, and Homeless.” I couldn’t help but laugh a little. He turned to me.
            “Shouldn’t you be in school?” he questioned, his words slurred.
            “Shouldn’t you be at work?” I answered back. After I thought about my response for a moment, I realized how harsh it probably came off. But he bellowed a happy, heavy laugh.
            “Touché. What’s your name?”
            “Oh. Demetria…the goddess of fertility.”
            My heart fell down into my stomach. How did he know?
“What?” I questioned the stranger’s accusation.
“Demetria. The Greek goddess.”
“Oh. Right.” I was beginning to overanalyze everything.
The silence between us was so uncomfortable it seemed obnoxiously loud.
“What’s your name?” I decided to break the awkward tension.
I just nodded.
“So why aren’t you in school having fun with all of your friends, Demetria?”
“It’s kind of a complicated story.”
“Well, the bus won’t be here for another ten minutes.”
I looked at him for a moment and then at the clinic.
“I have this friend, for now we’ll just call him S.”
“Alright so S is a boy?”
“Yes. S and I have been friends for as long as I can remember. Like, if we don’t have dates to a dance we’ll go together or if I’m sick he’ll do for my homework for me and vice versa.” The Handsome, Hungry and Homeless man would nod his head every so often as if he was thoroughly into the story.
I told him about that night. The movie. The empty house. The dark room. The first kiss.
When I finished the story, The Handsome, Hungry and Homeless man just kept nodding as if I was still talking. His eyes were empty.
“I wish I could go back to prison.”
“What?” Did he miss everything I told him? Was he even listening?
“Yeah. You get your three meals a day, you work out a little here and there, and if you’re lucky you get assigned a job.”
We were silent for a moment. A person walking by handed him a five-dollar bill.
“God bless, ya,” he thanked the person.
I wondered what I was missing in history.
“Have you ever been to prison?” Darian interrupted my thoughts.
“Have you ever been arrested and gone to prison?”
“Oh, no. I haven’t.” Did I come off as the criminal type?
“You meet some quality friends in there. People you can relate to.”
“I’ll take your word for it.”
The bus then pulled up.
“Looks like your ride is here.” I looked at the bus and then back at Darian. My new confidant. I grabbed my bag and started towards the bus.
It was half full. I took a seat in the second to last row. I put a headphone in one ear and let my mind drift off for a moment. I gazed out the window, as more people filed in the bus.
“Can I sit here?” The woman who had been reading the parenting magazine in the clinic asked.
“Oh, yeah. Sure.”
She took a seat next to me. I stared out the window again, curious as to where I would end up. I glanced at the woman next to me through my peripheral vision. I wondered where she would end up too. I thought that maybe I could offer her my baby. But, why would she want my baby if she didn’t even want her own?
After several stops, the woman next to me stood up and exited off at West Avenue. As I watched her and a mother of two get off, something possessed me to follow.
I exited the bus, looking both ways to see which way the mother went. I spotted her crossing the street with her two toddlers. I followed them. Their trail led me to a park. There were swings, monkey bars, and swirly slides. Flowers were in full bloom. The mother pushed her children on the swings. Their smiles made you believe that this park was Cloud Nine. It made me feel like I was three again. I took off my shoes and buried my feet in the sand. The woman pushed her kids, both of them hysterically laughing over nothing. They then jumped off their swings and made their way to the swirly slide. I remembered when I was younger, that slide seemed so big. Their mother chased after them slowly, letting them believe that they were sprinters in the Olympics. As I watched her interact with the little people she called kids, I wondered if I could ever come to love and accept my own. What if they turned out to be mass murderers or rapists? How do you love them then? It seemed so scary. I closed my eyes hoping some kind of answer would come to me.
My thoughts were interrupted by the woman’s loud ringtone. She answered.
“Hi, honey. Yeah. We’ll meet you there now, okay? Love you too.” When she hung up, she gathered her two kids and began walking. I slipped my shoes on and followed once again.
Fifteen minutes later I walked into a restaurant. The woman and her children walked over to a table where a man was waiting for them. She kissed him and they sat down.
I looked to my right at the bar. There was a middle-aged woman in tight clothes that probably fit her when she was in her twenties. Next to her was a couple that seemed far from in love. At the end of the bar, a guy was sitting there, his hair disheveled, his eyes red and glassy. He was probably no older than 21 or 22. He caught me staring and responded with a smile. He looked me up and down and then waved me over. Without even thinking, I did as I was told and approached him. 
I stood there waiting for him to direct me on what to do next.
“I saw you staring,” he said with an abundance of confidence. I didn’t know how to respond. “Can I buy you a drink?”
A drink? Did he realize I was barely 16? The most alcohol I had ever consumed was a sip of my mom’s champagne at my cousin’s wedding last summer.
He got the bar tender’s attention and moments later a glass of something that smelled like the disinfectant doctor’s use before they give you a shot sat in front of me. I stared at it and it stared back.
“You going to drink it or what?”
I took the drink in my hand. He clinked his glass to mine. I put the drink to my lips when my stomach suddenly began to cramp. I looked at the drink again and decided to set it down.