Life through a pencil
Slender fingers wrap around me and
With unsure movements begins a hand
That learns how to write with me.
Always there, for you to give your thoughts to until the end
In a journal that is written with me.
With words delicately chosen to reflect the heart of one to the expecter
On a paper that is created by me.
Promises that are written and rewritten before onto another person they endow
Planned by both you and me.
For those last moments of worry
Before you passed on without me.
And then another little hand grabs me.
I'm not going to ask you questions because I know that I will meet you one day. I hope you are happy but I don't want to know your answer. I hope even in the future, you never take the people you love for granted. I'm doing pretty good over here, I struggle sometimes but it is a good kind of struggle, the one that wakes you up to everything. I'm not going to ask if I fulfilled all of the dreams I have now because I know that if I didn't, I must have traded them in for something more important and therefore, I have no regrets. I hope you still make goofy faces when you look in the mirror and you still sing when you are in the shower. Most importantly, I hope that all those things about me that I love, I hope you keep them. I hope that despite anything that happened in the future, I can still see a part of myself in you. Until we meet again, I hope you always have a chance to make your own happiness.
"What is this weird leaf soup?" The lonely elderly woman asks while looking at me.
"It is a moment with someone, you sit down with someone you want to sit with and you drink this and talk. Find whoever you want, bring them here and drink this tea soup together. It can be whoever you want, a friend, a child, or even a stranger. It is a moment with them." I say to the woman. She nods and then leaves, intent on finding someone to spend a moment with.
"What is this leaf soup that takes so long to make?" The overworked businessman asks.
"This is a drink that helps you relax, so you can think of something outside of what stresses you. This leaf soup is a relief." I tell the man and he nods before leaving to find his own relief from the harshness of the business world.
"What is this ugly leaf soup?" asks the self-conscious teenage boy.
"This leaf soup is like a mirror, you look into the leaf soup while you drink it and as you drink, it makes you stronger. Not everything that makes us stronger looks beautiful when you first glance at it." I tell him and he nods before leaving, intent on finding something that makes him feel good.
I smile and begin cleaning my cups, tea is meant to be something different for everyone and just because it does not have the same name does not mean it is any less powerful. It is a moment, a way to relieve stress from life, and beneficial. Everyone has a different way of making their cup of tea and everyone needs something different with it.
I see them searching, yearning to find something that does not meet their standards. I keep my head down and walk faster until I hear them lock on a target, "Hey girl, how was your summer? I didn't see you at the gym as much as you needed to be." I blink for a second before taking a sigh of relief, they didn't pick me today, and I keep walking. As long as it isn't me today.
I see the yellowish- green and I know what is happening yet I convince myself that I am seeing it wrong. Deep down though, I know that I do not see it wrong. I don't want to imagine who it is, who hurts them when they go home from work. I wish they could hide the bruises better, hide their pain better so I don't even need to know in the back of my mind. They can get over it, as long as it isn't me.
I wake up the next morning and I sit to drink my coffee. I open my tablet and I wander to the news. All I see are articles of the increasing suicide rate, domestic violence, and abuse. What is wrong with people? How can someone do that to another person? Yet after drinking my coffee, I walk to my car and I notice the girl walking home alone, small tears dripping from her face and I say that it must be the wind. I see them with bruises on their arms and legs, trying to hide the discolorations yet it hurts everytime they pick something up or move. But at least it isn't me.
"Are you sure this is what you want to do?" My mother asks me over the phone, she does not want me to feel any pressure to do this. She forgot that I broached the subject to her myself several months ago.
"I do, this is one of the few things that I am completely sure of." I tell her and a smile comes to my face, he is going to be so happy. With that, I sign the last document and the lady congratulates me. I walk out with my new name and I go straight to the birthday party. My stepfather is turning fifty-five today. I hold the manila folder tight to my chest.
"Did you do it?" She asks me over the phone and I tell her that I did. She instructs me to give it to him last. I quickly wipe away a tear as I walk into the venue. He is opening everyone else's presents first. He looks up at me and smiles before motioning to a chair on his left.
"My beautiful daughter is here everyone," he announces happily to everyone, I just cannot wait until he finally understands how true that statement was. He unwraps every present and thanks the person that gave it to him. Finally, after all the presents have been unwrapped, I hand him the yellow envelope. He looks at me skeptically and I tell him to open it. He slowly tears the piece off and I am already crying. He looks confused but continues to remove the paper. He reads it with a look of confusion until he realizes what the paper means. Suddenly, he is crying and I am crying and then we are hugging each other like crazy. I hold onto him as I never want to let go. Today, he learned that I decided to change my last name to his. Everyone watches, confused, because no one has told them anything yet. Finally, my dad holds up the papers and says, "My beautiful daughter has decided to change her name and take my last name."
Suddenly everyone is congratulating him and my mom walks up to me, "That was a very nice thing that you did for him Lilly."
"Thanks mom," I say, still unable to stop crying as everyone hugs me.
I stand over the grave, finally out of my memories, "Hi dad," I say to him. "It has been a while, maybe about two weeks. I am sorry for not being able to see you. I got married recently, do you remember when I introduced Matt, I brought him here. Matt has three brothers and I know that you only had me, he decided to change his name to our family name. How is mom? Is she driving you crazy up there? I miss you but like you always say, I still have a good couple years until I see you again. I love you dad, I will come back here in a few days to check in again." I finish what I say and then I pick up my bag. I make sure the lillies, his favorite flowers, are well placed. I place my hand on the headstone and then I turn around and walk out of the cemetery. The sun is slowly starting to set in the west, casting shadows as I brush away my tears. I walk to my house, the home I grew up in and I step inside. I go to the refrigerator and I take out ingredients to make dinner. I make dad's favorite food. He would have turned seventy-five today.
I look at her gorgeous blonde waves before looking back into the mirror at my mousy brown hair, not quite sure if it wants to be straight or curls. She uses her hand to flip her hair to the side, the fingers gliding across the strands. She then looks down into a small bag and carefully selects her tools of choice. Some powder and a dark red lipstick. I sigh, I wish I was as glamorous. She is the glamorous Marilyn Monroe, the gorgeous Grace Kelly to my Ugly Betty.
Natalie Cummins. I say to myself, not quite able to voice out her name. She is brilliant, everyone says that she is going to some Ivy League, she is the one that beat me out for valedictorian. She has everything from the brains, to the beauty, to the nice disposition, I swear the girl is nice to everyone, to the guy. Alexander Michaels.
Natalie and Alexander have been dating for about four years, since the beginning of high school. This is about the time that I started to have a crush/ unrequited love on Alexander. They met while participating in a scrimage to raise money for Alzheimer's research. They are constantly out volunteering. Sometimes I wonder if this is all a joke. To make my biggest competition in this school so perfect, there was no way I was going to win. No matter how hard I try, there is no way I would get the perfect grades, the perfect guy, the athletic body, and the time to be able to do that. I look over at her applying the lipstick and for a second, maybe I can just read the name of it. I lean forward a bit and the counter shakes a little. The lipstick moves over off her lip a few centimeters and Natalie stops applying it.
"I'm so sorry," I say to her and she smiles.
"No worries," she says before taking a slightly wet towel and carefully removing the line of lipstick before drying her mouth and beginning to reapply. Afterwords she leaves and I feel myself smile a little. Feeling better that maybe she doesn't look so perfect right now. I stop smiling as soon as I look in the mirror and realize that it doesn't matter if there is a small smudge in her makeup, she will still look stunning all the time. She will still always have the boyfriend and the brains. I sigh and begin to pack up my stuff to go to class when the bell rings. Maybe another day she will understand what it means to not look so perfect.
"What is love?"
"Love is the choice that someone makes that despite everyone saying it would never work, the distance between you, how different you are, etc. you two deciding to take a chance on the other. That's why it doesn't matter to me whoever you like, I must applaud you for your bravery because one of the hardest things in the world is to find the courage to not give up on someone when things get tough."
Every blink is painful, in those moments where
you cannot look into their eyes or smell their hair,
as if even that one small moment is worse than a stab
in the heart, as you try to grab
the hand that is not entwined in your own.
After all the years, when even the wrinkles have shown,
when the hair that was warm brown
has matured into a silver crown.
His eyes though, still look into your soul
his laugh still makes your whole
world seem a bit brighter,
your soul a bit lighter.
You know that those days will come,
but right now just his smile makes you feel dumb.
Your brain is stuck on that smile,
stuck on the sparkle in his eyes while
the seconds, the minutes, the hours turn
into years, decades, lifetimes, but those moments still burn
engraved in your memory.
Yet those eyes, lips, and smile in your memory
is what is making you fall in love with him,
while you wait to meet the future him.
I look down at him and I find myself brushing away a strand of hair. His hair always went into his eyes. I try to imagine what shade of blue his eyes would be. What I fear most now is the moment when I cannot remember that blue. I feel a tear slip down from my cheek as I remember the day we met. I try not to cry because I know that I must speak soon.
Too soon it is my turn and I walk to the small pedestal. I face all of our family and friends and another small tear begins to form in my eye. I don't allow it to fall though, he deserves more at this moment.
"I think you all know the story of how I met him. We were both standing at the platform, waiting for the train to come. I had just gotten off from work and I was tired, but I looked over and I saw him. He looked at me for a second before walking over. I was cold and wet and we were all alone on the platform. I didn't know what he was going to do until he handed me an umbrella. I still remember that ridiculous blue umbrella with the yellow suns on it. He always thought that the world was such a crazy, scary place that we all deserved a bit of happiness. He called it his 'microsmile moments'.
"I remember walking back to that platform the next day, even though I did not have to go to work. I waited for him to come so I could give him his umbrella back. I waited for what seemed like forever and then it actually started to rain again. I kept waiting there though until I finally saw him come off of the train. I walked up to him and I was about to hand him back his umbrella until he asked what I would use. He then refused to take it back, instead we walked over to a restaurant and we talked until the rain ended. From then on we talked to each other everyday as we waited for that train to come, it was late every time. Then one time he asked me to dinner and I said yes.
"I had him in my life for sixty amazing years. We had four children and ten grandchildren together. In four months, I will meet our first great grandchild. We had always lived together and I wish we had had more time together, to grow even older together. He was my soulmate and I was so lucky to have been able to watch him become a father and a grandfather." I say as the tear slips down my face. I look back at the man I know and have always loved. I walk back to my seat and soon I hear "Saturn" by Sleeping At Last playing along the room. I begin to cry, this was one of the songs we danced to on our wedding and our first date. This was the song I listened to on the platform all those years ago.
I open my eyes for the first time. The sun is shining along the water column and I am swimming. Today I do not need a mask or a tank. I swim up to the reef. Bright orange clownfish are swimming among the anemone. A green turtle is gently moving with the current, over the coral. The colored fish are swimming... rhythmically dancing... to the ocean's heart. Finally a shark drifts into the reef. It comes from behind my head and at first all I see is the shadow. He swims lazily, not hunting now. I lie down on the ground and I look up, the sun is shining down on me and I see figures of the fish dancing overhead, darting in an out. I feel the thrum of the ocean's heart. Everything is at peace in this moment. I begin to slowly move to the surface and soon I come face to face with a dolphin. I break the surface of the water and the dolphin is keeping me afloat. I watch as the sun is slowly dipping down over the horizon. The dark ocean is a silvery- blue as the sky is a masterpiece of colors.