Unconfined Thoughts 22 – Haunted Notions

Your fingers trace my face’s features from the stray strands of hair to my chin, sending chills racing up and down my body. I gaze into your eyes, a warm brown color and I find my heartbeat racing to meet yours, so I take a deep breath and my heart skips a beat. You whisper something mundane to relieve my butterflies, something irrelevant before my lips meet yours in an inaudible vow. We dance around making promises that are true for the moment, no matter how long they last. We pull each other closer, no pushing because that’s rude. Without warning, my heart aligns with yours but I allow it. It’s okay. It’s necessary. And when we’re forced to separate from bliss (oftentimes I worry about plunging too deep into the sea of bliss because we aren’t trained to swim in this mess), we illuminate like lighthouses, proclaimers of a saving point. An overwhelming feeling of sadness floods my body, replacing the hormones that were supposed to help me stay afloat and you whisper, “how was it?” and all I could manage was to direct my gaze to the only light source in the room, a dim glow. I finally respond with a smile, sigh and seek the warmth that I desperately lacked again. He draws close to me and I anticipate it, hoping that this will cure my sudden sadness, the explosion of future worry threatening to drown me. Our promises never collide, but they compliment each other. Our grip tightens on each other like a curse to the looming future and we can soon claim to love and move on from the phase, like. It’s okay. It’s necessary. In this short period of time, there are no glimpses of the future even if it frantically tries to signal us. Instead, we hold each other’s hands tightly and avoid the haunted notions.

Written: 2/28/17 1:40pm

PS. I submitted this piece to a literary magazine – wish me luck!

In the Moment | Poetry Breakdown

Hello everyone,

I hope you’re doing well!

In the Moment

I wish I could be swept away
through the bright, white clouds and
up into the massive blue sky, never looking back
and never holding tight.
The breeze in my face, so I close my eyes
and lie back onto a pillow of nothingness.

I wish I could be stagnant when you are by my side
with just the sound of your voice and your gentle
“I care for you a lot.”
Nothing more, nothing less –
everything expected.

I wish I could dive right in
to the clear blue sea with the manta rays
and grey dolphins keeping me company.
Feeling invincible, like a ruler of all –
nothing dragging me behind
so I can keep going.

I wish I could hold you tighter when we’re together
so that time has nowhere to go and all it can do is stop.
My arms circle around you and I feel your heart
reverberate through my chest –
nothing in between us.

This poem is full of wishful thinking with the narrator wanting something they can’t really have. When I wrote it, I wanted it to be relatable but personal at the same time. Each stanza rotates around a dream-like state and a scene with someone with a sense of longing in each stanza. The meaning behind this poem is actually pretty similar to another poem I wrote called, “Natsukashii” — check it out if you haven’t read it already!

The first stanza was a lot of fun to right because I used to have this reoccurring dream where I would be flying around. I loved it so much that I would construct my daydreams around them, so that I could continue flying around. I wanted this stanza to give a sense of freedom through flight and as every student wants, some adequate time for rest. The second stanza is a reassuring moment with someone. I tried to pay close attention to physical attributes to make people more dynamic in my writing and I think I captured it well. Also, like previous poems, I’m not going to delve too deep in this poem because of the personal relations with it. 🙂

In the third stanza, it’s about diving into the ocean. When you submerge underwater, have you ever felt a sense of quietness that comes over you, like a silence that only you hear? It’s the type of peace that’s very soothing and with these majestic creatures of the sea, it makes you feel kind of fearless. Personally, I’ve never scuba dived before nor have I seen manta ray or dolphins up close. If you have, please share your experience with me!

Have you ever had a moment that was so great that you never wanted it to end? That is exactly why I wrote this poem and why I gave it the title, “In the Moment” because rather than constantly dwelling on these moments, live and make some more!

Thanks for reading!

Alice

A Slice of Cake | Quick Piece Breakdown

A Slice of Cake

When you think of a slice of cake, happy thoughts would usually flood your mind. I decided to take a spin on a simple idea and flip it. What if you got sad thoughts from eating cake? What would be the cause for the sadness? As I continued writing it, more ideas started flowing in. Have you ever noticed that you would eat cake on special occasions and then transition to eating cake whenever? It’s an interesting concept of adulthood and simply eating something as enjoyable as cake.

In this story, I wanted to include three memories that had bittersweet connotations. The first instance was the narrator’s memory of going to his grandmother’s house to have cake, but not going there anymore because of a dispute between the grandmother and the mother, so every time the narrator eats the particular cake, he’s reminded (or forced to) of his grandmother as well as that things can be too temporary. The second instance was an interesting one to construct because I didn’t want it to be too lengthy, but at the same time, have enough substance to evoke emotion. It was basically about peer-pressure and the narrator’s friends started bullying this girl for her size as the narrator looked on, doing just as much damage. He’s forever haunted by a simple choice he could’ve made, but instead, chose not to.

The third instance was about a strong friendship that fades away. It’s obvious that Lisa has some sort of influence on Cameron’s life since they were already studying together and would hang out together. I would have put more indications on their friendship, but I ran out of time. When Lisa transferred school, they lost touch and when Cam looked back, he felt very regretful. At the end, he doesn’t regret each memory that much anymore. Instead, he is appreciative on the fact that he is able to learn and reflect on the memories.

Have you ever had a revelation moment or do you have any regrets that you wish you can let go?

Leave a comment below and tell me about it!

I hope you enjoyed the piece!

Alice

A Slice of Cake | Quick Piece

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I stared at the slice of cake in front of me, feeling tears starting to brim. Throughout my life, cake has always been some sort of indication in my life whether it was birthdays, graduation or weddings. Sometimes my friends and I liked to get cake because we finally realized that we didn’t need any specific occasion to get cake, so we would make constant trips to the bakery to try out their newest cake. Our stresses from life would melt away as we took our first bite of German chocolate cake or decadent lemon angel food cake. The vanilla wafted to me, instantly bringing back memories of when times were simpler.
When I was little, I loved desert and whenever I went to my grandmother’s house, she would make me cake. My favorite cake would be classic yellow cake with chocolate frosting. My grandmother would give me two slices of cake and a tall glass of cold milk and she would sit across from me and eat cake with me as we looked out the window, keeping watch for the neighbor’s cat. “Look! There she is.” my grandmother remarked. I quickly turned my head and sprayed crumbs everywhere. We watched the cat chase squirrels as we laughed hysterically. A couple months later, I noticed that I hadn’t been going to my grandmother’s house in a while. “Mom? How come we’re not going to grandma’s house anymore?” I asked. I really missed her cake. My mom never answered my question until I found out that my mom and my grandmother had an argument and my grandmother never wanted to see her again. I sighed as I took a bite of the cake. The rich chocolate would usually take away my stress, but this time it reminded me of more pain.
In middle school, all of my friends started to realize that they had some authority now that they were twelve. I would constantly hear my friends talking about how they got in a fight with either their siblings or their parents. It seemed like everything they did was right and the world was against them for some reason. We always had terrible lunches from soggy burgers to pizza that was too greasy, but what redeemed it and what made us buy it was the cake that came along with it. It was a light chiffon cake with simple whipped cream and strawberries decorating the top. My friends and I would always try and trick the lunch servers to try and give us another slice of cake, but it would never work. The lunch servers would bat her eyes and wag her finger at us. One day, my friends were bored out of their minds and decided to pick on a girl who always sat by herself during lunch. She was a little chubby, but to me it wasn’t a big deal except it was exactly what my friends were looking for. “Hey Luanne, how many slices of cake did you have?” Mike teased, squeezing himself next to her. “I bet you that Luanne already ate a pan of cake.” Rob said while sneering. Luanne put her fork down and looked down at the table, her hands trembling. “Yeah, she’s as big as a whale!” Mike said. Rob started to laugh, “A whale that loves cake!” My friends continued to tease Luanne until tears silently rolled down her cheeks. I would never forget the look she gave me, eyes full of tears and anger as she saw me stand in silence, too cowardice to stand up for something so obviously wrong.
I was already halfway through my slice of cake and I started to shudder from all the nostalgia. As I noted the coffee in the cake, I started to think of my friend, Lisa.
Lisa introduced me to the notion of having cake whenever I felt like it. In college, we were studying for our finals when she suddenly looked up and said, “Hey Cameron, wanna get some cake?” I remember giving her a confused look and she stifled her laugh, but I could feel her quivering from across the table. “Cam, you can get cake whenever you want. It doesn’t have to be for any special occasion.,” she said and it was like someone gave me the answer to the meaning of life. Immediately, I started packing up my stuff and we jumped into her little passenger car and headed to the nearby grocery store. With my new mentality, I browsed the pastries and saw new opportunities pop up in front of me. Every time I thought I was settled on what I wanted to get, Lisa would whisper facts about each cake, making me second guess my decision. Thirty minutes later, we were back in the library, but with cake. We savored each bite of the mille-feuille, each layer melting in our mouths. The following week, I found out that Lisa was transferring schools. She didn’t want to tell me because she wanted to experience every moment with me as wholesome as possible. On the last day we had together, we picked a cake recipe and made it, our sadness an extra ingredient in the batter. When we tasted it, we erupted into tears and started blabbering about good memories we had. After she moved away, we talked for a little but sooner than later, we lost touch. It was painful when I realized what had happened, but by that time, it was already too late.
I stared at my empty plate littered with crumbs as these memories passed by. It almost was like the crumbs represented my life, leftovers of good moments and as a whole, it was good and decadent even though things had to be lost.

Five Milliseconds | Poetry Breakdown

Hello everyone,

I hope you’re doing well! Fair warning, this upcoming poem has notes of suicide in it. If you are sensitive to this issue, then I suggest that you don’t read it.

Five Milliseconds

I want to look death in its eyes,
the headlines boring into my chest.
My knees quake, but I stay standing
just so I could meet my fate.

I see this girl in the road, unmoving and unafraid
my headlines illuminate her and I come so close
so close, so near.
I stop and anger rushes and replaces the
bizarre wonder I carried for a millisecond.

I had already planned out who would have my
signed book I received last year, not my sister
because she would toss it aside like any other book.
I had already had in mind who would have my writings,
not my professor because they would wring it dry
and leave behind no substance.
I had already predicted who would cry the hardest
or who wouldn’t budge a muscle but be aching inside.
All in the moment I stared death in its eyes.

“What did you think you’re doing?”
I shouted. I wanted all of my rage to be evident.
I wanted her to realize how much trouble this would have cost me.
I wanted her to remember the fear and anger in my face,
as I stomped on the brakes, saving her life.
Yet she was smart.
She realized that I was only a stranger and
to her, a substance of her death.
In the milliseconds,
I became the substance of her life, no longer stranger
but as someone you could never look at the same again.

As I looked death in the eyes,
I noticed how afraid he looked
and how human he was
and how human I am.
In the milliseconds of processing,
I’m glad what he settled on
was to stop.

If you’re trying to guess how I got the idea for this poem, you’re most likely correct. I was crossing the street and a car was pulling up to the red light. If there wasn’t a red light, then I wouldn’t be crossing, but at that moment, I briefly envisioned what it would be like to have a car rushing towards you. Don’t worry, I don’t use my spontaneity when it comes to crossing streets. You probably wondered, “Alice, how did you construct an intricate poem from when you crossed the street? That’s really random.” I would shrug and say, “I like to be dramatic, not in real life, but with words. I’m a writer after all.” Sorry if that sounded really pretentious. I’m just really random. Trust me. 🙂 

Enough about me, time to break down this poem.

On a glimpse, this poem is an interaction between a driver and a girl. The girl crossed the road, like I did, but she didn’t wait for the red light. She just went for it. The driver freaked out and managed to stop in time and he called her out for it. The girl had many motives, one of which was definitely killing herself with the oncoming traffic, but at the end, she has a changed mindset.

I decided to write this poem with alternating voices from the girl to the driver, ending on the girl. If the voices get a little confusing in the beginning, it’s meant to be. Everything’s happening so fast, their emotions mirror each other’s even though it’s not evident to the other person. When everything stops, that’s when it starts becoming clearer.

While I was writing this poem, I wanted to play with strong emotions surrounding a small moment hence why it’s called five milliseconds. There’s a lot of things that can happen in a day and if you’re not careful, your life can change in a matter of seconds. What if the driver was malicious and didn’t stop? What if the girl had a stronger motive and decided to run towards the car? What if the driver couldn’t stop in time? What if the girl’s motives didn’t change and she tried to meet her motives again? There are a lot of chances that could occur, partly up to you, partly uncontrollable.

Imagine yourself in the girl’s shoes. She must’ve been going through something that made her want to do this and she was obviously scared to do so as stated in the first stanza. Yet, from what the driver sees, she looks unafraid. Her life is flashing before her eyes and she starts to accept everything that could happen until the driver stops and she notices kind of a reflection of his fear/anger with her own and her motives change.

Imagine yourself in the driver’s shoes. He wasn’t expecting any of this and suddenly, someone’s life was on the line and he could either be the cause of her life or death. I made sure to depict his emotions are very raw, but still reasonable and relatable. He sort of recognized what she was trying to do and he further goes on to reminisce that they aren’t quite strangers anymore even though they never exchanged a word. Maybe he has a deeper past.

If you’re struggling with anything from a test to financial issues to personal struggles, then know that your struggles aren’t definitive. They don’t make you any lesser than who you are. Hang in there, hold onto the brighter parts of life and fight whatever’s pulling you down. You deserve a lot better. If it helps you, approach your struggles head on or sit in your struggles and truly feel them rather than run away. Everything may not always be alright, but don’t give up.

Anyways, I hope you enjoyed!

Alice

Supernova | Quick Piece Breakdown

Supernova

If you knew that you were going to die within 24 hours, what would you do? This statement randomly popped into my head and it sparked this story. I talked to my friend about this question and from there, I built a story about what would happen. It was a pretty interesting story to construct and in my opinion, I felt like it was one of my better pieces.

Throughout the piece, I really wanted to emphasize the theme of taking chances and making the best out of everything. Sometimes we can get too comfortable in our lives and it gets a little boring and monotonous. It sounds a little cheesy, but if you have an attitude about life where you live each day as your last, then I think you would approach life a little differently. I wanted to make this theme clear because I’m in that stage of my life, early 20s, when I can pretty much do anything and I have the opportunities laid out in front of me. I just need to take it rather than letting those opportunities slide.

This story revolves around Jay who has a good relationship with his family, enjoys his job and is satisfied with where he’s at in life. It’s only when things get shaken up does he see things for their worth. He doesn’t really delve into how he may die or if he may die, but that he doesn’t have much time left and he should take full advantage of it. In contrast, his sister starts thinking about the logistics of the text, but he gets straight to the point. Are you the sister of the story or are you Jay?

I decided on the title, Supernova because from what I remembered in my astronomy class, a supernova is an explosion of a star towards the end of its life. The death of a star is gradual build up where the star begins to expand until all the gases cause the star to collapse onto itself and explode as shown in the picture I put for the quick piece. Originally, I had One Day as the title, but that felt too typical. To me, a supernova would be a grand and interesting way to end. I’m not romanticizing death, but the opposite – I’m making life known more.

In this story, I noticed that I was trying to find a good balance between describing every little detail to only fulfilling what the plot needed and I think I found that balance. It just takes me a little longer to plan and construct the syntax of each sentence. Yet, another issue arises – I’m having trouble truly developing the characters in my short stories to be more dynamic and realistic. This is what I think of my writing even though I am my biggest critic. Let me know what you think!

Thanks for reading!

Alice

PS. Happy Valentine’s Day! Hope you find the time to appreciate others that you love and admire as well as yourself! 🙂

Supernova | Quick Piece

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When I woke up in the morning, something clicked in me. It didn’t feel like my usual joints popping or a sudden epiphany, but rather it felt like a part of my fate had been sealed. I didn’t really feel like delving too much into these sudden thoughts at 7 in the morning, so I brushed it aside. After cooking myself breakfast and nearly burning my mouth from eating it too fast, I walked down the street to the bus stop. My phone vibrated in my pocket, jolting me awake. “Who the heck is texting me this early?” I muttered as I unlocked my phone. From an unknown number, the text read, You have 24 hours left, make the most of it. Tomorrow will cease to exist for you. My heart felt like it was doing summersaults in my chest and my mind started to race with infinite questions. My hands started to tremble as my mind started to settle on this what the text was telling me. I had to sit down at the bus stop so I wouldn’t collapse; I didn’t need further trouble. I tried calling the number, but the call wouldn’t go through. All I got was a low tone that reverberated in my head along with my confused thoughts. I called my sister and tried to tell her about the text, but she was too tired to even process what was happening. I even showed it to a businessman who was grumpily sitting next to me at the bus stop. He just shrugged and stared straight ahead again. At this point, I didn’t know what to do, so I ignored the text and focused on getting to work on time.
At work, my mind was too distracted from the text to even process what I needed to do. “Hey Jay, is everything okay? You look out of it.” Rob asked as he rolled his chair next to mine. I stuck on a fake smile and said, “Yeah, I’m fine! I just had a late night so I’m a little tired.” He winked at me before rolling back to his desk. By the time I had an idea of what I wanted to do for the new product design, it was time for lunch. My mind started to ease a bit after a couple jokes with the boss as he teased me, “Classic Jay. Always getting his ideas at the last minute, but your good ideas tend to be the ones that you think of close to the deadline.” I laughed and said “Well, that’s how things work out for me!” My phone vibrated in my pocket and my heart dropped, but it was just a text from my sister who finally understood what I was babbling about at 7:30 in the morning. Her texts didn’t appear to be very urgent, so I continued talking to my boss and co-workers before we had to go back to work.
I was starting to outline the logo for the design when my phone vibrated again. The sense of dread was still in my chest, but I checked my phone anyways. From the unknown number, the text read, 12 hours left, time doesn’t wait. I dropped my phone on the table and it landed with a loud clattering sound. I put my head in my arms and started to shake. Rob looked up from his computer and said, “Dude, are you okay? If you’re sick, you should go home.” His concerned voice and persistence struck me and tears started to fill my eyes. After all the years we’ve worked together, it was only on my last day that I noticed how much he’s been trying to be my friend and I treated him half of how he’s been treating me. I took a deep breath and looked up at Rob. “Hey Rob, sorry about that. I’ve been pretty stressed out lately. Thanks for always watching my back. I know that I don’t usually say it, but I really appreciate you.” I said before looking away. This was way too difficult to go through without having the constant need to burst into tears. He gave me the biggest smile and held out his fist, “Hey man, no biggie. It’s nice to work with someone who’s also your friend.” I smiled and reached out to bump his fist before going back to my project. While I was working, my hands didn’t shake because I was anticipating the worse, but I was thinking of everything I needed to do and if I had enough time. I concocted a list in my head, but I knew that I didn’t want to bail out on work. It was a rare occasion that I actually liked what I was doing, so I was going to do my best at my product design.
After work, I took the time to say good-bye to everyone at work and even though it took me nearly 40 minutes, it was worth the time. Seeing everyone’s smile and watching everyone drive safely away somehow warmed my heart. I walked over to my car and looked up, the stars were shining bright tonight and I spent the next hour naming all the constellations, surprised that I still remembered anything from my astronomy class that I had to take when I was in school. “Before stars die, it starts to collapse upon itself but it becomes the biggest and brightest it has ever been before exploding. When it explodes, it leaves behinds a bunch of new elements for all of space to discover.” I whispered to myself. Instead of being in awe of the life of stars, I could actually relate with them. I pulled my phone out of my pocket and called my sister. This time, she was more receptive and agreed to having dinner with me. I went to a restaurant that we had been to and enjoyed when we were little. She remarked, “This place was great. Why did we stop going?” I flipped open the menu and said, “It was probably too expensive for us as a family, but don’t worry about it today, I got it covered.” She raised her eyebrows at me and I laughed. I ended up ordering my childhood favorite and we ate and talked until our hearts were full. As I was walking her back to her car she said, “Wow Jay, that must have been the best night I’ve had in a while! Thank you so much for that.” When I didn’t say anything, but smile, she punched me on the arm like she used to when we were little. “Hey, you can’t still be paranoid about the text message? It’s probably some kid who’s messing with you.” I pulled out my phone and showed her the second message and she shook her head. “There’s no proof of anything!” she argued. “You don’t even know how you’re going to…” I pulled her into a hug and held her tight, feeling her soft sobbing pulse through me. “If it’s just a prank, then it doesn’t hurt to live life as if it’s my last. If it’s actually going to happen, then I wouldn’t be doing anything wrong or right for that matter. I’m just doing life.” I whispered into her hair. I continued to hold her and watched the stars flicker until her sobbing calmed down. She started to argue with me, insisting that she stay the night with me, but I wanted her to rest. I truly didn’t know what was going to happen to me, but I reassured her that I was taking all of my precautions and watched her drive away in to the night, the headlights like beacons in a sea of darkness.
I headed home and started making a bunch of phone calls. I called my parents and thanked them, trying to make my voice as calm as possible. I listened to my mother’s voice, a source of all comfort and in contrast, my father’s stern and steady voice. I bided them good-bye and wiped away some stray tears that had escaped during our conversation. I continued making phone calls while keeping track of the time. I talked with past classmates, past relationships and mentors who have motivated me throughout my life. After every conversation, I would end it by saying, “Thank you and have a good life! Take all the chances you have!” My heart was full, but at the same time, it ached. I looked up after saying good-bye to my best friend, my sleeve moist with tears of gratitude rather than sadness. It was 1:00am. I leaned back in my chair and sighed, my gaze resting on the ceiling and like a movie, my life played out in front of me. My phone buzzed, but I didn’t pick it up. I already knew what it said. Instead, I closed my eyes and waited.