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I tell him I want one more round before we go. Sometimes I wonder if my drinking disgusts him, most times I could care less. One of the televisions behind the bar plays a football game. Thankfully, the volume is low. There’s a commercial for pizza on another one, a shampoo commercial on a third one. The fourth one is too far out of my line of sight to tell what is playing on it. I briefly wonder if cartoons are on that one. I would much rather be watching cartoons than anything I can see on the other three.

The bartender keeps calling me this guy’s girlfriend and I cringe inwardly every time I hear this word. I live in a generation where relationships mean nothing, even to me. I cannot bear the thought of being tied down to someone, of being responsible for someone else’s happiness and well-being. My date doesn’t seem to mind. Maybe it’s because he knows I’m not that type of girl and because he also knows that I know that he’s not that type of guy.

I know my breath reeks of dark beer by now. I try to remember the last time I’ve eaten anything and briefly wonder if it’s in danger of coming up later at some point in the night. I sit still for a moment and try to decide if my stomach feels queasy. For now, it doesn’t.

He’s sitting on the bar stool next to me, his body turned towards mine but his attention on the television in front of him. I appreciate the fact that he doesn’t have a cell phone. In a world that’s obsessed with technology, it’s nice to know that your shining personality and conversation is enough to hold a person’s attention. Even so, we’ve known each other for close to a year and have barely said more than five words to each other. I can’t say that I mind the silence. It’s better than rattling off words that mean nothing. Words that I could be using on something more important, like my writing.

I dip my hand in the bowl of cocktail peanuts on the bar in front of me and pop them in my mouth, one by one, sucking the salt off of them. My mother once told me that bartenders place peanuts at the bar because they make you thirsty and then you end up ordering more drinks. I think about this for a moment and then ask the bartender for another dark, Irish Car Bomb and a glass of water. He gives me a funny look and briefly glances at my companion but ends up bringing me what I ask for. I find myself wondering what time it is. I’m so sleepy.

Eventually I realize that all of the Irish Car Bombs have upset my stomach and I can feel it gurgling. I halfway turn to him and mumble something about getting food later. I don’t feel bad for all the money he’s been shelling out tonight because in reality, he hasn’t paid a dime. I’m a working girl. I’m as independent as I can be. I can afford this. I wonder if that knowledge makes him feel threatened. I doubt it does. He’s probably just another moocher like all the others. This doesn’t bother me either and I wonder if it should.

My eyes get heavier and heavier and I’m ready to go to sleep. I yawn and don’t even try to hide it. I lay my left arm flat against the bar and rest my head on it while simultaneously pulling out a cigarette and a lighter. I attempt to light it sideways and he laughs and pulls the Marlboro from my mouth, pulling out his fancy, silver lighter and sparking it for me. He inhales deeply and I watch the smoke rising in it’s intricate dance. I don’t know how many minutes go by but I become more and more frustrated that he still has my cigarette. I decide to start running a tab on him. While he has his own car, I usually do most of the driving and he lives out of my way- not near to me and not near to any of the bars I like to frequent.

We haven’t spoken since we sat down at this bar over two hours ago. We’ve both been watching the television, watching our hands, watching the bowl of peanuts and our glasses emptying and then refilling, looking anywhere but at each other. I love this pub. It’s one of my favorites and I wonder when the time comes when he and I have tired of each other if I will still love this bar stool, that television, that bowl of peanuts, my Irish beer. I imagine someone else sitting on his bar stool, a lot of someone-elses, and as I stub out my cigarette and he swallows down the rest of his beer, I don’t even flinch when he reaches for my hand and leads me to where tonight will end.

Onyx

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O

Onyx eyes watching dark happenings, in the darkness of course. Onyx eyes so hard to read, all the while they’re trying to get a reaction, trying to gauge what’s happening in that mind. A smile that doesn’t seem to reach those orbits, those swirling galaxies of mystery.

I hate watching their eyes watching mine. It’s painful to watch their eyes darting back and forth between mine, waiting. Observing. Hoping.

Be thankful I can still look you in the eyes after it all.

Be thankful my eyes are onyx and not the clear blue of the waters I love so much.

So clear that you would see everything I’m truly feeling.

Nova

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The stars in the night sky call to me. I stand barefoot on the beach, my toes sinking into the sand, gazing up at their magnificence. I know that if I was higher up, much higher up, their multitude would be much the same as that of the grains of sand I stand upon now. My lips part in awe and I watch them twinkling and shimmering. One of the stars seems to shine brighter than all of the rest- the North Star is what I grew up believing it to be, the star that I try so hard to find in the dark skies every night to make my wish on. When I was very young, I went to camp and at night a troupe of girls would lay out on the dam and watch the ocean of brightly shining stars. Even at such a young age, we understand the breathtaking splendor of it all, the truth that we were so much more insignificant than our adolescent minds allowed us to believe. I would watch for that one bright star every night, waiting to see it make it’s appearance so I could make my wish. The wish was always the same- for love. True, unconditional love. Now, as an adult, sometimes when I am about to leave the store at night, I stand and search the skies for that star, hoping to make my wish before it’s lifespan expires, before my chance for what I wish for expires.

Magnetism

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I’m drawn to him like a moth to the flame, seeking a little bit of light in a world of darkness. I think it’s the gentle beating of his heart, it’s hypnotizing, always consistent, always steady. It keeps me calm in my anxious states. When my mind won’t stop twirling around and around, the nerve-wracking paranoia threatening to overcome me, his touch, it’s what I crave. His scent- it caresses my soul and reminds me to breathe. He is my addiction, that which I come back to time and time again, pulled towards him by an undeniable urge. But sometimes, like magnets, I get flipped turned wrong side ’round and everything in me tries to push away as hard as I can for as long as I can. And when I have righted myself, after the moment has passed, I cling to him and realize he is clinging back with the same magnitude.

Lustrous

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Lustrous, dark lashes framing twinkling, hazel eyes. I love to watch them flutter as he blinks. Longer than should be legal for a man, they curl up slightly, nearly brushing his eyelids and my attention is held captive. I try to think of thought provoking questions to ask him because those lashes work overtime when his brain is stimulated. I come up short, my words a jumbled mess on my tongue, my mind a blank. Those strands seem to move in time with my pounding heart that I struggle to keep steady. Each bat of those lashes sends my heart racing and I am mesmerized.

Koi

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The beautiful fish swirl and twirl ’round and ’round in their little man-made pond. Their gold, orange and black patterns are hypnotic and I gently slide my fingers through the water. They dance and dip and shoot fast as lightning through the gently rippling waves they make as they chase each other back and forth. As I watch them, my heart aches to experience the freedom they must feel in the water, even inside a private ocean with barriers. A group of lily pads float serenely on the surface, swaying gently as the Koi dart to and fro. The sun catches the small waves the fish make and send a kaleidoscope of colors shooting to the depths. How wonderful it must be to glide and dip and dive- such freedom even in captivity.

Java

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Java Hut to be exact. That was the name of the cafe. Maybe “Hut” had two T’s to be fancy, it’s been so long now that I cannot remember. It was a little cafe on what we called The Strip in a long line of smoke shops, an old theater that had tables and chairs instead of rows of fold down seats and served actual food and pitchers of soda instead of just junk. The pizzas were my favorite.

The Java Hut’s sodas were the best. They could add nearly any type of flavor to your Cola and I became partial to the vanilla syrup. The boy I was dating at the time got me started on dumping salted peanuts into my Coke as well. It added a nice touch. I remember wondering who introduced him to this, just like I wonder how all of my partners learn little things that they come to love and if I ever got them hooked on anything.

This guy I was dating at the time, the one who enlightened me to this theater and the joys of salted peanuts in my Coke, he decided one day to invite two of his friends, Justin and Jenna, along with us on a double date. Man, those two were a wreck. From the time I met them their relationship was turbulent, but they were both awkward and perfect for each other in their own way until Jenna became pregnant and Justin bailed on her.

Right before I met him I had started hanging out with a girl I had known since middle school and a friend of hers who was a year older. We thought we were so fancy sitting in a local coffee shop restaurant, smoking our Marlboros and caffeinating ourselves well past our curfews. The friend of my friend, her name was Rita, and I found ourselves in some trouble not long after and not to my surprise, while I was doing community service I ran into this guy I had only recently started dating. It felt like such a terrible thing to me that I was required to service my community because of one dumb mistake. Honestly, when I found out Jenna and Justin were going to have a baby at the ages of sixteen and fifteen, i felt a lot better about my community service.

Dysfunction is what held our friendships and relationships together back then and I can’t say I was sad to hear a year ago that the Java Hutt had closed down some time ago. While the memories of the time spent there were pleasant enough, I know they were empty just as the relationships were, just as the building of the old Java Hutt probably still is.

Incense

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The stuff is burning in a fancy holder somewhere nearby but I cannot seem to open my eyes to find it. It’s a light woodsy scent, or maybe that’s just how all incense smells, I’m not really sure and my eyes feel so heavy, as though they have glue in them. A million pins prickle my skin and waves of air blow over my naked body breaking me out in goosebumps but it’s one of the best feelings in the world.

The darkness reaches out and envelopes me, caresses my skin the same as when my foot falls asleep. It’s not unpleasant and makes me even more sleepy. I turn my head and watch the ribbon of smoke snaking it’s way towards the ceiling.

I can hear a television playing softly somewhere and my arm attempts to reach out and find him, but he isn’t there. Slowly it all comes back to me, the lovemaking, the words he spoke afterwards, the way my heart stopped and if I was sober I probably would have started crying. Instead, I gather my clothes up and put on as much as I dare to stay for before heading out of the bedroom, through the living room and out the front door. I stand for a moment on his porch and watch as the sun rises, turning the sky into pinks and purples. I am tired of this but I know in two weeks, I will be right back here.

When I’ve reached home I lay in my king sized bed alone, staring up at the ceiling in the darkness of the early morning hours and wonder where I will go from here. Something hurts inside of me and this is a new feeling. Rolling over, my hair falls across my face like a curtain and I can smell the incense woven into each strand. I inhale deeply and wonder if I will ever be able to smell that smell again and not wish that I could change that moment.

Heavenly Hellish

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Tender fingertips reach out to draw him near. Soft lips caressing his cheek. Everything in me submits to him.

Jagged claws and bared teeth, a low growl when he gets too close. Seeking solitude I try to hide, but it seems he’s always near. Feeling cornered, I am ready to pounce.

Delicate kisses and whispered affection, fingers gliding softly on silky skin. My hair a halo against our pillows. My eyes watch him as though in a dream.

Blood red nails tear gashes down his back. Teeth clamping into his shoulder. Fingers tangle in a mass of wavy, brown hair as I remind him that all of him is mine.

Heart opening up to let him see the brokenness. Allowing him to mend me piece by piece. Allowing us both to learn to trust again, showing him everything I am.

Walls slamming down with angry permanence. The woman he knew yesterday a faint memory. I know he’s used to the two sides of me. How heavenly hellish it must be to love me.

Goosebumps

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Fingertips gently trailing along my belly, eyes shining bright with anticipation. Lips slightly parted, his breath cools my blushing cheeks. Mouths caressing, teasing, tempting, longing. The scent of his shampoo, like a waterfall after a summer rain. Hearts beating out of sync, each one pounding out desire. He leaves me breathless and my body prickles from my head to my toes.