The scent of magnolias overcame me as I walked along home. It was a comforting scent that reminded me of nights with my mom. I would lie in her arms and she would tell me about the drama that happened at work. “I don’t know why Sharon would always think that I’m stealing from the office storage! What would I do with 50 boxes of paper clips?” my mom laughed and sighed. “I’m getting tired. You should head to bed, it’s a big day tomorrow!” Somewhere in my mind as a nine year old, I wanted to give her advice because when I was lying on her chest, I could feel her ragged breaths and skipping heart. I knew from my science classes that hearts and lungs shouldn’t make that kind of rhythm, but my mom’s did. “It just can’t be helped.” I said to myself. “You just have to keep going.” I said as I continued walking down the street back to my apartment.
The next morning, I woke up with a bottle in my hand. I don’t even remember going out to drink because I swore to myself that I wouldn’t have anymore alcohol in my house after what happened last time. I groaned and rolled over to my side. “Where is my damn phone? Please don’t tell me I lost it.” I muttered as I dug through a pile of my clothes. I managed to find my phone in the pocket of a pair of jeans I like to call, butt enhancers. I only wear those jeans when I go out. “Fuck. I went out last night. What did I do this time?” I said as I scrolled through my text messages. It seemed like my “friends” texted me right as I got home saying if anyone wanted to go out for a couple drinks and I was already regretfully too deep in my reminiscing to even realize that I was going to do more damage than intended. I laughed out loud and shouted to no one in particular. “According to this fucking group text, I hooked up with my ex-last night! Good thing I had the right mentality to tell him that I didn’t want to sleep with him! Goodness gracious!” Without realizing it, tears started flowing down my face. “The day hasn’t even fully started yet and I’m already crying! Wonderful!” I bawled and cursed as I struggled to get out of bed and make myself a little more presentable. In my frantic state, I somehow managed to drink 2 cups of water, call up my best friend from high school and get out the door to meet her at our favorite donut spot.
I arrived at the store and I couldn’t get out of my car. I pulled down the sun visor and stared at myself. I was still wearing last night’s eyeliner and my hair was so greasy that I could make fries from them. Usually I don’t care about what I looked like, but I just couldn’t stop thinking about my mom. If she saw my like this, she would tell me to get myself together and move on. “Mothers! They just know exactly what to say, don’t they!” I screamed as tears started flowing down my face again. “I hate this. I hate this pain I feel. Why does it have to be me?” I rested my head on the steering wheel and closed my eyes, comforted by the silence that surrounded me. A sharp rapping at the window startled me. My best friend was frantically knocking at my window and screaming my name. “I’m okay!” I called out and opening the door. “I was just so tired. I think I just fell asleep. Sorry about that!” My best friend rolled her eyes and said, “Cut the bullshit.” she reached over and wiped my eyeliner from my cheek. She pulled a hat from her purse and said, “Donuts are on me and let’s talk in the car, okay?”
I woke up with a start. Someone was getting murdered and I could’ve prevented it. The sight, the memory was so vivid that I was almost convinced that it had happened, yet no matter what I did to tell myself that it was just a dream, my mind wouldn’t rest. My eyes darted around the pitch black room, scanning the warped shadows as I tried to distinguish the shadows between reality and mind tricks. As I started to sit up to scan the room again, a soft snore startled me. I smiled as I saw my boyfriend sleeping peacefully, curled on the side. I crept out of bed without disturbing him and looked around in every corner. I made sure to check under the desk, but no one was there. “Honey? What are you doing under there?” a groggy voice called out in the dark. I crawled out from under the desk and saw my confused and tired boyfriend awkwardly standing in the shadows. “I had a nightmare and dreamt that there was a murderer, so I got really paranoid and wanted to look–“ my boyfriend wrapped me in a tight hug and kissed me on the forehead. “It’s okay. I’ll protect you. Let’s go back to sleep.” he said as he led me back to bed. He tucked me in and crawled in after me. Within minutes, we were fast asleep. The next morning, I woke up to the morning sun and my boyfriend’s bright eyes. “What did you dream of?” he whispered. “Eating endless chocolate cake with you.” I said with a smile. He closed his eyes and laughed. “Good, no more murderers.”
In the morning, the sun rises. At night, the sky gets dark. I haven’t felt the warmth of the glowing sun on my face nor have I witnessed the sun dip low across the horizon before the cloak of darkness falls for a long time. I still write about them. There are plenty of videos online to tell me about the life I’ve missed out. I can search, Dubai sunrise and sit with a traveling couple as they witness the beginning of a hot day. People have hailed me as one of the most notable writers because of how I utilize words. Words aren’t stagnant. They constantly flow all over the page and paint the colors. Little did they know, I’ve never touched the course beach sand fading into the fine and fragile ocean sand. I’ve never heard gazed upon buildings that seemed to tickle the sky. When letters flooded my door with encouragements to feel their corner of the world, I lied. Isn’t it easier to lie than to confront? I wrote back and told them that I was planning on taking a trip to their corner once I’m certain that my words will strike everyone’s heart. They kindly wrote back in looping letters, letters that didn’t flow, telling me places to eat, places to admire and places they once occupied. Their brochures, maps and directions give me a better picture of the world and I write and write and write more.
I used to have a friend with me. We used to dream of days where our bodies would never be in the same place. We dreamt of wonders that we needed to lay our eyes upon, but little did I know that one day there would be a space where he was. He struck my heart with his flowing words as he said, “Why do you call yourself a writer when you will always be a liar?” And with a slam, he disappeared into the night. From then on, I vowed to myself that I would preserve his space and protect my space by dreaming of what once was, what never would be and dreaming of irregularity.
It was 2am and we were at a 7-eleven. We woke up at 1am after an hour of tossing and turning and realized that we neglected to finish a task before going to bed. “We forgot to get slushies.” Gabe said after noticing that I was also awake and trying too hard to admire the ceiling. I turned toward him and I could still smell the toothpaste on his breath. “What are we going to do?” I whispered. That’s how we found ourselves under the bright lights of 7-eleven, surrounded by snacks that couldn’t be as colorful as they were at 3pm than they were at 2am. “Hey babe, look, they have Whatchamacallits.” Gabe said as he held up the candy bar. I darted as fast I my slippers allowed me and stared at the candy bar in wonder. “I haven’t had one of those since high school!” I said. “Let’s get it.” We wandered through the aisles and found ourselves accumulating a pile of nostalgic snacks and guilty cravings. When we finally made it to the slushy machine, the colorful frozen liquids no longer seemed appealing, so we sauntered to the check-out. There wasn’t a word exchanged, but his wide, confused eyes gave us a clear glimpse of a dialogue he was having with himself. “$13.45” the cashier said, breaking our train of thoughts. Sleepiness had started to settle. I started to fumble with my wallet, but Gabe just shook his head and took out his wallet, pulling out a 10 and 3 singles. Without breaking eye contact with the cashier, he rummaged through his wallet counting out exactly 45 cents. The cashier stuffed our goods into 1 bulging bag and we darted back to the car, clutching our precious cargo and laughing hysterically. By the time we made it home, we only had enough energy to open up one candy bar before passing out surrounded by sweeter dreams.
We kicked hard on the swings and watched the blue sky drift towards us before retracting again. We pumped hard on the swings and found ourselves soaring high and feeling the wind on our faces. “You see?” I said. “I can control the wind! Every time I go up, the wind starts to blow!” I closed my eyes and I could feel myself getting higher, like I was flying away from the world. “You can be the wind-controller and I’ll control fire.” my friend said as he grinned at me. I laughed as I pumped my legs, pulling the sky closer to me. “Oh yeah? I’m going to tell the wind to blow against you!” My friend started to sway his entire body so that he was practically parallel to the ground. “I’m getting higher than you, beat that!” I rolled my eyes. “Just because your legs are higher, doesn’t mean that you’re going higher! See? My entire swing is higher that you!” We managed to synchronize our movements and we ended up swinging next to each other. “Oh yeah, you’re right. That’s not fair! You can control the wind!” my friend exclaimed. We continued to laugh and swing for the entire recess time. From a distance, a whistle blew signaling the end of recess. I heard my friend’s defeated sigh from my right as I heard him dig his feet into the wood chips, halting him to a sudden stop. I did the same and dug a track into the wood chips, feeling a couple escape into my shoe. I sprinted to meet my class, still feeling the swaying motion rushing through my body. Nothing can stop me now
He hurled the book at my head and shouted, “Take a look at this you pretentious piece of crap!” I picked up the book and read the title. “Really? Why do you even have a book called ‘How to be Less of an Ass’” My brother rolled his eyes and said, “That’s beyond the point.” He stormed over to me and started yelling at me about how I was incompetent, useless and just a waste of space all because I accidently left the milk out and it went bad. I’ve actually been living with my brother for about six months now and it seems like he has to pick on me every single week for some petty little thing that I did. I just learned to live with it. It’s not worth my time anyways and besides, it’s actually pretty funny when he blows up on me. It reminds me of a tiny Pomeranian trying to bite my toes. I started flipping through the book and said, “Hey, this actually has some pretty good points. Chapter 1 is about embracing how much of a jerk you are and chapter 2 is about apologizing.” My brother stormed over to me and whipped the book out of my hands. The book landed with a sad thud across the room. “You little turd. Why did I even let you stay with me?” I shrugged and simply said, “I guess you couldn’t let your reputation run into the gutter if people found out you didn’t let your brother stay with you because your brother did the best thing for himself by leaving his abusive girlfriend.” My brother stopped pacing and muttering to himself. “You didn’t tell me that. You just told me that your roommates bailed on you.” he said, utter shock draining into his face. It’s finally my turn to prove my point. I didn’t tell him directly initially since I was still grieving and trying to get over my girlfriend. It had been a rough couple of months, but I finally got it back together. I rolled my eyes and said, “My roommate was my girlfriend. Did that ever occur to you?” I started walking over to my brother. “She kept on calling me the exact words that you were calling me – dumbass, worthless, bitch, but she threatened to ruin my reputation if I ever left her. I was forced to call her my girlfriend, forced to kiss her, forced to make love with her and I finally got the courage to leave her and it cost me all of my friends. So, how do you feel after I told you all that? You’re no different than my ex, but I have to stay with you because you’re my brother.” Tears were streaming down both of our faces. My hands were shaking, but I shoved them deep into my pockets. “Family is forever.” I finally said. Without a word, he lounged at me. I thought he was going to smack me like he used to when we were little, but we’re not little anymore. I felt his arms wrap around me and he pulled me for a tight hug. We cried together and I heard him whisper, “I’m so sorry, bud. I’m here for you from now until forever.”
I felt the heat scorching my skin, but I continued walking. It’s been a week since I left home and I’ve come across this desert. Leaving home wasn’t a big deal, but I knew that once I reached this desert, the fight for my life would begin. The water in my backpack sloshed and I made a mental note in my mind. Just about thirty minutes ago, I drank about 4 ounces of water, which is about a quarter of a standard water bottle. I’ve got 2 more water bottles. “Crap!” I muttered to myself. “I better save my water or else I’ll run out.” The sun was bearing down on me and I felt my sweat run down my back. I pictured a bunch of sweat droplets landing on the sand and quickly being dried up by the sun. It’s almost as if a little part of myself was journeying to meet the sun and going back to the Earth again. Nearly three hours later, my eyelids were drooping and I was down to the final couple ounces of water in my water bottle. I had stripped down to my underwear and wore my t-shirt on my head to absorb some sweat. I fell down to my knees and started regretting my decision to leave home. “You bastard desert!” I cried out while pounding the soft sand. “I thought if I could take you on, then my life would be easier!” I sobbed into the sand and the sand clung to every inch of me. I curled into fetal position and saw the orange desert horizon hugging the blue sky one more time before closing my eyes and whispering, “You can take me now, desert.”