I shoved random things into my backpack, a comic book, a highlighter marker, stickers, paper clips, anything I could find. I'm going to fly tonight, and I'll go higher than I've ever gone before. I'll tell Juni about the stars, I'll tell him about the planets and even the sun. I'll get close enough to the sun. That's where I've always wanted to go. I wanted to know if it was possible for me to be near it without burning up into nothing. I'll go there and come back to tell everyone, knowing they won't believe me. Maybe I'll see Dad. When he passed, mom said that if I looked to the starts I could see the shape of him. But the people on Earth are small, we can't see anything from the ground. Tonight, I'll see him. I slung my backpack onto my shoulders and tiptoed from my room to my little brother's.
"Psst, Juni? Are you awake?"
He was asleep of course, buried beneath a mountain of spaceship blankets, he was drooling on his astronaut pillow. My little brother is the only one who knows about my secret. He's seen me fly. He knows what I can do. I've never worried about him telling anyone, who could believe a nine-year-old kid saying his older brother can fly? Nah, this was ours to keep.
Placing a hand on the back of his Star Wars pajamas, I kneeled by his rocketship shaped bed frame and gently shook him awake. His eyes opened, he stared at me with his brow puckered in confusion, but then broke out into a grin. He was missing his two front teeth but smiled brilliantly nonetheless.
"Mikey? Are you gonna fly?"
He asked in small voice, using his little fists to rub the sleepy crust from his eyes.
"Yeah, buddy. I'm gonna go really high tonight, I'll be like a shooting star and when I come down-Boom!"
I pressed my hands into his stomach to tickle his ribs and he burst into giggles.
"Shhhh! You'll wake mom and Mr. Carson and then we''ll both be busted."
I whispered, covering my mouth with my hand. Juni mocked me and rolled his eyes before sitting up in his bed, I showed him the contents of my backpack and he nodded his head in approval.
"What's it like to fly?"
"You feel like a bird."
"I've never been a bird, so what does being a bird feel like?"
He titled his head at me, blinking his large brown eyes. He looked so much like Dad, but he never got to know him. Dad died before Juni was born, and every time I ask how or why Mom always gets angry and said it was something so stupid I'd never be able to understand. My dad was a scientist, he was always working in his lab and whenever he found the time he would let me sit and watch him work on his experiments. "You my son, are my greatest experiment." He'd say. Shaking the memory off, I swallowed the painful lump in my throat and put my hands under Juni's arms lifitng him up out of his bed.
"It feels like this! Whoosh! Whoosh!"
I tossed him up and put him on my shoulders running all around his room in every direction until he whisper-shrieked that he was getting dizzy.
"Flying is awesome!"
I set Juni back on his bed and chuckled, smoothing his crazy hair back away from his forehead.
"I'm gonna touch the sun."
I said, picking my backpack up.
"You can't touch the sun that's too dangerous, Mikey. Remember Icarus? He flew too closed to the sun and he died."
"Where'd you learn that?"
Juni wiggled his eyebrows at me in a way that I hadn't even known was possible for a nine-year-old to do. The sly look on his face revealed that since he'd been crushing on Sarah Baker for several months now this small bit of information made him feel both intelligent and empowered.
"Yeah, well, tell your little girlfriend Icarus had wings made of wax. I don't have wings, I've got a backpack."
I smiled, ruffling Juni's hair up as his nose and mouth scrunched together.
"She's not my girlfriend... yet."
Shaking my head, I pulled the spaceship blankets up over my brother and tucked him in again.
"Go back to sleep, buddy. There's plenty of time for girls in your dreams."
Juni's cheeks flushed red, he hid his face underneath the comforter as I stood up, preparing to leave. I made it to the door before he poked his head up and called out to me.
"Don't fly to close to the sun, okay?"
I squeezzed the doorknob and nodded my head.
In the hallway I had to tiptoe past Mom's door to make it downstairs. They creaked and stuttered with every step I took. My spine stiffened on the last stair, I paused, holding my breath. When nothing happened, I slipped out of the backdoor into the cool midnight air. From the upstairs window, I spotted Juni watching me. I walked to the center of the yard and leapt up into the air, floating above the grass. Giving him a salute, I raised my arms and propelled myself deep in the black sky. The wind rushed all around my body, I could feel it's crushing force under my ribs and reached into the sky with both hands out in front of me. The sensation of floating had a dizzying effect on me at first, but I balanced myself out and pushed for higher, higher, and higher. I could see the sun from here, orbiting on the other side of the Earth. I looked up, craning my neck back to soak in the view a billion galazxies, a billion stars, shining above my head so close I could reach out and touch one. The problem with Icarus was that he got greedy, he'd achieved the hard part of flying but he wanted more. For me, right now, this was enough. The presence of my dad in the stars among me never felt stronger.
The Shadow of death
"Though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, the sheapard is always by my side, a lovely scripture isn't it?"
This priest is boring. His tone is nasally and congested as if he might sneeze at any moment and ruin the whole sermon. Lord forgive me, I didn't mean that. I'd like to be in heaven within the next 60 minutes, don't hold that against me. Secretly, I wished that he would sneeze and interrupt himself so that I could be alone for the first time in 2 years since being diagnosed with acute lymphonic lukemia. But no, he dragged on about living and dying and Mama squeezed my hand so tight I thought she'd take it clean off my wrist. I didn't mind though, I'd be leaving her with Daddy in just a short while. They'd have to get along without me and get along together. They'd have to love each other like peanut butter and jelly even without a cold glass of milk. I wondered if they would have another kid. A daughter, like me, with pretty blonde hair my grandmohter loved to rake her wrinkly fingers through as I sat on the corner of her lap when I wasn't feeling well enough to stand beside her. I've only got an hour left. Or that's what Doctor Williams said.
Mama's voice sounded tiny and pinched in comparison to her round, busty frame.
"There's nothing more we can do, Mrs. Patterson."
"Just an hour?"
"If I were God, I'd give her more."
He replied in a soft tone as sweet and delicate as can be, searching every inch of Mama's face as if invoking his sympathy into her smooth pale skin.
"I thought this was the best hospital in the country! You're all just a bunch of med-school degree-waving buzzards!""
Mama snapped, but the bitter-hurt was her showing in her violet blue eyes as Doctor Williams placed his cleam-smelling hands on either side of her arms and led her out of his office, whispering that he was sorry. When she slipped back into my room her tears were big and floppy, balancing on the ends of her long eyelashes. She was a beautiful woman I realized when looking a her full heart-shaped face. My mama had the same long blonde hair sometimes worn up in style with a hair tie, or a barette clip. Her clothes were always pressed, she smelled like the wind through a tree and the cinnamon in an apple pie. My heart ached as I would never smell it again. I'd never be able to feel her crushing hugs, or sit with Daddy while he read the newspaper comics to me and sipped black coffee he knew he didn't like the taste of.
"Did you eat?"
Mama asked, forcing a smile and pressing peppermints into the palm of my hand to help with the nausea of throwing up. After Mama told me I had only an hour left to live, she and Daddy went out into the hall to "Discuss" their next moves but I knew they were hiding from me. While I watched the rain drip down the side of my foggy window, I could hear them crying out in the hall together. They'd been trying so desperately to be strong for me, but they didn't have to be. I imagined death like I imagined a very long nap. Falling asleep forever like Rip Van Winkle. Even now, thinking of it I was tired. Exhuasted, but happy. Mama and daddy would be okay my soul whispered faintly, they have each other.
"You doing alright, honey?"
I heard Mama's voice and nodded my head. Though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I shall not be afraid is how the scripture really went.
The feeling was almost ethereal. Magical, like flying or walking on water. Something that could be posessed, embodied, but was yet still fleeting. Jackson had only experinced it once in his life. Mallory had been his first love, the daughter of one of his father’s close golfing buddies. She had seen him only as a play thing, and once he realized his feelings for her had swollen to an ungodly size she had moved onto her next suitor. For all the heartache he suffered, Jackson would only blame himself. Mallory wasn’t the loving type, her ice blue eyes, blonde waves, small 5′2 structure, pouting scarlett lips, and insatiable hunger for competition and fashion gave that away. For 2 years, Jackson had given up on love, what it was supposed to mean, and feel like. Until It happened again. His skin tingled and the heart that squished with rhythm in between his ribs was ignited, set abalze with electricity so powerful it could only be contained within his mind. The deepest parts of his brain where it existed between only two people.
Himself and that curly-haired girl from Carnation Cafe. He didn’t know her well, hardly at all. But he knew she never asked for a straw, there was always some type of library book, thick and heavy looking tucked under her slender arm, and her hair was a wild mass of sable black curls. Every day since their first meeting which wasn’t anything more than a mutual hello, he observed her from his usual corner booth, taking casual sips of the bitter black coffee that seemed to be an accidental buy every once in a while when he was overwhelmed with the anticipation of seeing the curly-haired girl again. He was drawn to the organic nature of her being. The way she walked through the cafe, bare faced, almost boldly staring into the gazes that greeted her unsual appearance with disdain. She was otherworldly. A girl who didn’t quite belong into this dog-eat-dog society. For as long as his sanity would allow, he traced her graceful movements with his eyes like a hawk, scouting its prey.
She came and she went, like a butterfly taking only what she needed before flitting off into the afternoon sunshine. Jackson watched her come and go, until his starvation for an interaction became gluttonus. And he had to speak to herfor fear of outbursting his new found feelings od admiration and desire. He forced himself to stand, shoving his clammy palms into the united front pocket of his sweatshirt, his legs somehow abled over to where she stood in the line. He had already ordered a coffee, but made a show of looking genuinely interered in the menu options displayed above their heads. Behind her, Jackson began having an out of body experince. His head felt light, spacey, the room spun with a slight tilt. I’m in love with you. He repeated amourously to her in his head. Her arrainment of curls blocked the shape of her face, but he had already memorized the angular shape of her jaw and how slightly pointed her double pierced ears were. The permanent sunburn of her cheeks even though he skin was more tan than fair.
The lined moved up, Jackson saw his chance to speak to her beggining to fade before his eyes. He then reached out to place his tremoring hand to place it on her shoulder. She turned, her eyebrows puckering with confusion. As he opened his mouth, the words emptied from his mind like sand through his fingertips. “Yes, can I help you?” she moved back slightly from underneath his touch, clearly uncomfortable. “Sorry, I thought you were someone else.” After the milisecond apology, Jackson slipped out of the line and back to his corner booth. From there he continued to observe her, and from time to time she would acknowledge him, but not with a warm smile or curteous nod. It was a reeling expression, as if she was always keeping an eye out for where he was in the cafe and to never go there. From there Jackson settled the feeling that crushed his insides to the point of no return. It was love, but also something else. Something worse than love. or hate for that matter. Something that was dangerous, unquenchable, jealous, and toxic. It was obsession.
Close the door
I don’t want you to look at me. Close your eyes. Close the door. And walk away. But remember the time I made you laugh so hard you peed. Remember when you pushed me down the stairs and I broke my ankle, but it was okay because you reminded me of the time I locked you in the basement on Halloween. I want you to stand back when they pick my lifeless body up, put me in a bag, and carry me away. Stand back and wrap your arms around yourself, remembering how I hugged you too tight and kissed you sloppily on the cheek with the insides of my lips because it annoyed you. No, don’t remember any of that. You’ll be sad. You’ll want to cry. I’m sorry, I was selfish. I still am. I’ve always been. But you knew that, and you also know you’ve never been able to accept my apologies. So, instead, you can look at me. You can hate my dead body. You can cry. It’s okay, you were never selfish and I despised you for that. But now I love you for it, because you won’t be selfish. You won’t hate me. Maybe you’ll forgive me. You’ll listen to me, you’ll remember me, and you’ll cry for me.
Lost and Solita
When I opened my eyes there was no sun warming the left side of my face, No hungry cat pawing at my shoulder. The air conditioner wasn’t humming quietly in the corner of the room, and when I wiggled my toes the sheet was not carefully tucked under them. My eyes flickered into my eyelids as I cringed at the peeling paint of the cieling with words like "Pendejo" and "Chulay Cinco" scrawled across it. A sickening dread began to fill the pit of my stomach like gasoline to an empty tank. Sitting up too quickly, I whimpered at the nasusea that rushed through my limbs and desperately tried to recall the events of the previous night. My lungs scraped in chunks of spiced air, there was a bitterly acidic taste on my tongue that brougt the bile to my throat. To my left there was a lamp with a ripped shade, 4 mini bottles of Tequila, a ticket stub for a night club called La Reina and my passport.