brunch and brotherhood
"you never cease to surprise me, do you know that? i never thought you'd actually meet me here."
"and turn down some free blueberry pancakes? you must not know me very well at all then, little brother."
"oh please, of course you'd get the most childish thing on the menu. besides, i never said i was footing the bill."
"oh? i mean, it's not really a problem, is it? we could just light this whole place up once we're done, y'know, end things with a bang like the good old days."
"because theft is so below you you'd automatically resort to murder? please. plus, you know i've left that life behind me."
"i'd resort to murder, little brother, because it is fun, which is something you need to be reminded of. honestly, i've never seen someone with such a large stick up their- hi, darling, we'll get two plates of blueberry pancakes and the sweetest coffee on the menu. yeah, that'll be it. big guy over there's paying today so i'm gonna eat good!"
[pause as the waitress leaves]
"i'm not paying."
"ha! you will if you know what's good for her. matter of fact, you will if you know what's good for everyone in this restaurant right now. it'd be such a shame if the whole thing went up in flames, now wouldn't it?"
"i came here to talk you out of all this, jeremiah. after all this time, you're still right where i left you, a pawn in dad's game. aren't you tired of all the killing? after everything that happened with susana, i thought you'd be-"
"big words! didn't know you could speak this much in one go, color me impressed!"
"i can get you out of it. i have the resources now, you can join me and have a fresh start. what-what you're doing is wrong, jeremiah. you know it, susana knew it-"
"i don't know what you're talking about. susana died because she defected, the same way you should've died three years ago. if our father knew where i was right now, there'd be a bullet in your head, and that would be a mercy compared to what he'd want to do to you. you're fucking lucky i didn't rat you out, do you realize that? there is no starting fresh for us. you think you can just ignore your past? ignore everything that the midnight reaper did? you were almost as vicious as i was, little brother. all throughout the city, people would whisper about you in awe and fear. you don't get a fresh start just because you grew a guilty fucking conscience. you still killed upwards of 600 people, and you can never outrun that. i know you still hear their screams and their sobs, and even more, i know that you enjoyed ripping them apart. you're a fucking killer through and through as much as i am, as much as dad is. this heroics act is not only bullshit, its fucking pathetic."
"thanks for the pancakes, dear! big guy over there's gonna give you a nice big tip for the stellar service you've provided, i just know it."
"anyways, you've gone and pissed me off now so i'm gonna need you to try to convince me not to blow this place up as soon as i'm gone, preferably while you're still inside."
"you know you wouldn't. if you wanted me dead, dad would've been here by now."
"...fine, but that's not saving that lovely waitress of ours or the dozens of others in this stupid fucking brunch place, now is it? if you know me at all, you should know i came stocked, so..."
"jeremiah. i know you're upset. and that's fine. i'm not saying i'm fucking perfect, i know i'm fucked up. i know i'll have to atone for centuries before i can wash all the blood out of the past. but i'm trying. if i got you away from dad, i really think you'd be able to see-"
"ha! you want to get me away from dad. that's fucking rich. you never witnessed dad at anywhere near his worst, do you realize that? i made sure of that. i made sure he didn't beat the shit out of you until i was sure you can take it. i made sure you were able to make it out by keeping his attention on me, you massive fucking moron. i can't leave because he's got eyes on me constantly. i can't leave because if i do he's coming for your ass first to hit me where it hurts. don't talk to me about our dad because you don't even know him. not the way i did when we were kids, and not the way i do now."
"i have the resources now-"
"your resources won't do shit to him. maybe you think they will based on the version of dad you knew, but they won't. by the way, are you finishing those? because if not i'm taking them. you have two seconds to decide, and... yup, they're mine now. fucking delicious."
"if my resources won't help then explain it to me. tell me what i'm missing and i'll find it."
"can't hear you over how fucking good these are. we should've gotten three plates, but oh well water under the bridge i guess."
"the coffee's kinda shit, but i guess i asked for the sweetest thing on the menu so that's on me. do you still hate coffee by the way?"
"i- i do, but back to the subject-"
"black tea, right? shoulda known. oh well, give me your shitty coffee too then. looks like this brunch is ending up as a feast for me on your dime, isn't it."
"what do i need to change before i can get you to agree with me? you need to give me something, i'm risking everything to meet with you right now and you're throwing that all away-"
"i didn't ask you to do any of this shit. don't try to guilt me for something that's not my fault. but anyways, duty calls and i have a detonation sight to check up on in an hour, so..."
"i just want to get you out of all this."
"we both know there's no getting out of this. you might think you're out, but you're not. anyways, i wish i could say it's been fun but its actually been atrocious, so. hopefully this is the last time i'll see you little brother, i'd suggest you get out of this building in the next fifteen minutes, you never know what might happen."
i'm good at laughing. i'm good at smiling and deflecting and pretending nothing's wrong, but sometimes i toss and turn in my sleep once the lights are off and the camera flashes have faded from my memory. once the words have made their way past my thick skin and straight for my heart.
that's the thing about having thick skin that no one tells you: you can put up with a lot, but once the armor is broken you feel every single thing, all at once. you feel not just the verbal assault that broke the armor in the first place, but everything else that it had been holding back, like the double take someone did to you at the mall, and the embarrassment of wearing the wrong thing, and the realization that maybe you're not as okay with being second-best as you thought you were, and- and-
and its all too much, all too quickly, so you shut down. you toss and turn and wonder if anyone has ever loved you at all because if they did then how did they let you get this bad? do they even realize how they hurt you? is your façade really that good or do they just pretend to believe you so they don't have to deal with the chore that you have become?
you'll never find an answer to these questions, though, because you'll never ask. instead you'll just patch up your armor where it broke and go out to do it all over again, fighting in battles you are not equipped for with armor being held together by nothing more than a sheer force of will. but it's fine! after all, you'll be doing it with a smile on your face and a laugh at the tip of your tongue, so no one will ever be the wiser, including yourself.
a lazy saturday reminiscence
the sun filtered through the blinds of the bedroom, dragging her from her slumber. her lover slept like the dead beside her, an image of a good night's sleep: her hair was strewn across a pillow, her mouth was agape, and her snores echoed amid the otherwise silent bedroom in a reminder that it was teeming with life despite its softness. it was a saturday where they both had the rare luxury of sleeping in, something that was few and far between these days, and they were going to take solace in it. as quietly as she could, she made her way out of the bedroom and into the kitchen. her plan was to make breakfast, but after pouring two steaming mugs of coffee she was inevitably sidetracked by a pair of arms snaking around her waist and a muffled "'morning," being whispered into her back. a grin broke out on her face as she turned towards her lover, who was drowning in an oversized green hoodie and an old pair of boxers. the jungle of bedhead atop her sleepy face was a sight to behold indeed.
honestly, with a view as lovely as the one in front of her right now, breakfast could wait. she could stare at this woman for a century without realizing that any time had passed at all. in fact, she'd be happy to do it in the first place.
all of a sudden, her eyes were watering and she couldn't help the way that her breath had escaped her lungs in that very moment, despite the soft mundanity of the scene before her. then again, she had never thought she would make it this point, and the vibrant reality of it left her not just at a loss for words, but with a knot in her through and a struggle to breathe. after all, here she was, standing in a kitchen of a house she owned, with a beautiful, sleepy woman at her side drinking coffee she made the two of them on a lazy saturday morning where there was nothing to do but enjoy the simple pleasure of being alive. the rawness of the moment hit her like a shot of adrenaline - a reminder of not just the struggles of the past but the hopefulness of the future.
that said, there was no time to get sidetracked reminiscing - not when there was a present to live through right then and there. instead, she shook her head, took a deep breath and smiled down at her lover before ushering her towards the stool.
"sit tight, i'm making pancakes!"
in the end, she knew that not every day would be as sweet as this one - some days would be stormy and sometimes breakfast would have to be spent separately on differing commutes. but she would always cherish the moments of togetherness that exist tucked away between the chaos of life because sometimes a shared pot of coffee and some pancake batter is enough to prove that life is worth living.
a conversation with the future
“Will it all be okay in the end?”
“I suppose that answer lies in who you ask.”
“Well… what about me? For-For us?”
“... We survive.”
“Well, I don’t like the sound of that at all.”
“Trust me, we get the better end of the deal compared to the others. You’ll find out in due time, I can assure you of that at least.”
"But I want to be happy! I don't... I don't want to just live!"
"I'm sorry, kid. I don't know what you want me to tell you."
"I want you to tell me that it gets better!"
"Alright, alright. It does get better. F-For a little while, anyways. Then we go and mess it up again."
"Is there anything I can do to stop it? How did we mess it up?"
"We messed it up like we always mess it up, kid, we just- we wanted to prove everyone wrong, and it just ended up proving them all right."
"The future sure isn't sounding like what we envisioned it to be, huh?"
"Ha! You can say that again. But we do get to be happy for some time in the middle. That has to count for something, right?"
"I-I suppose. If its all we get then I guess it has to count, doesn't it?"
"Yeah, I guess. Hey- maybe we'll get our happy ending one of these days, right? Life's not over yet."
cycles, changes, and the beautiful dead
the heat of the sun slowly rises from the earth, forsaking the living. in its place is the slow surge of cold, yellowing the greenery and coaxing nature into a seasonal sleep. of course, that's putting it ominously. in truth, the oncoming cold is a breath of fresh air - the skies clear up, rainstorms roll away, people pull out their dark-toned clothing and smile as they wait in line for steaming mugs of hot coffee. the trees begin their cycle of sleep by shedding their yearly leaves, showering the world with reds and oranges that blanket the floors. plaid patterned long sleeves and fuzzy lined socks become a norm, and the clear blue sky reminds everyone that the day can still be worth living as the temperatures slowly plummet. yes, autumn is a time of death and sleep and changes - but it is also a time of red leaves when trees are usually green, a time of black coffee warming up cold hands, a time where people can go outdoors without sweat dripping down their backs. the cycle is beautiful because of its brevity, and soon enough it will be gone, so enjoy autumn while it lasts or you'll wake up with sweat on your back and summer rain showers tackling an earth with green trees against instead of red ones.
loving the wrong person
his laughter, sharp and bright
filling the air with the love inside it,
reaching out to keep me in its confines
it was love, i am sure.
i am almost sure.
was it love?
her body on top of mine,
filling the air with a sharp tension
i had never before felt
such a rush
like a gasp of life when your head comes out of the water
she was a stranger
he was my friend
it was not love with her
but it was certainly not wrong
loving him was
fast cars and loud music and quick motions
battling to prove ourselves in the circus of life
loving him was not wrong
but it was not right for me either
he loved me more
than i ever could have returned
because my body and mind betrayed me
and i ran him through the rings
in the circus of life
just so i could discover that i was wrong
a promise of perfection - verdict: fail
promise #1: i'll be the best daughter you could have asked for.
sleepless nights, falling onto a tearstained pillow
fake smiles, frigid stares, feared and dreaded disappointment
bad decisions, a perfect record, lies lies lies
promise #2: i'll stay with you forever
happy beginnings and hopeful first dates
discussions of a future years ahead, already in the making
open conversation curling in on itself
forgetting who you are and who you want to be
arguments and frustration and the inability to accept reality
bad decisions, perfected smiles, blank eyes, lies lies lies
promise #3: i'll have my life figured out and planned like you wanted
goals and dreams and ambition
late nights mapping out your life
feeling like its actually someone else's
finding things you love and hiding them
shame and worry and fear and lies lies lies
perfectly planned agendas open and unchecked
finding solace in what does not fit in the plan of a life that's not yours
finally escaping, trying to figure out who you are
who are you?
promise #4: i'll love only who the world thinks i should love
going out with a boy
laughter and jokes and what could have been love
overthinking, overcompensating, overwhelming
perfect presentation of a picturesque relationship
fighting, avoiding your thoughts, avoiding his body
being both ashamed and so so relieved
her, in the back of the car
faceless, and yet so so much more right
puzzle pieces properly in place
going back to perfectly pretending
lies lies lies
promise #5: i'll be perfect
picture perfect people
It... well, it wasn't about me necessarily.
It was about everyone like me, everyone who didn't fit their picturesque description of what a person was allowed to be.
It was the late-night, mental-claustrophobia-panic-attacks of "I can't do this, I can't do this, I can't do this..."
It was the fake smiles and the forced laughter when someone said a harmful joke.
It was the hypocrisy of worshipping loudly in public to stave off the breakdown that was going to happen a few minutes later.
It was the "God is tempting you, don't look at girls. It's disgusting and it's wrong and if anyone found out they would hate you."
It was seeing your friends make fun of the boy who liked to paint his nails and the girl who wore short skirts because they were sinful and immoral, and laughing alongside them even though all you wanted to do was go up to them and ask, "How do you do it? Where do you find the bravery?"
It was coming to the realization at a young age that God loves everyone except girls who like girls and boys who like boys, everyone except people like you.
They wanted a picture perfect person, but they got me instead. They wanted to change me and "fix" me and cut off all the pieces they didn't like, but I am not dough for them to take a cookie cutter to and create what they want. I'm not done hiding, but one day I will be, and that's when I will shine.