Stream of Consciousness

Therapy Session

—And then it stopped.

She took the long way home. Traveled the roads of endless fields, dried from the summer drought. The rains were still months away. The first of autumn baptizing the earth, washing it of sin. Erosion. 

The car sputtered, pulsed. She hoped she wouldn’t get stranded. Wouldn’t know how to even call for help. What the answer would be when they asked her, “What is your location?”

I dunno. The side of the road. There’s a field of tall, dry grass.

—And do you often refer to yourself as a woman?

—I don’t often refer to myself as anyone, actually.

—But you’ve used a female moniker in the past.

—I have gone by many names in the past. A couple were female, yes.

Continue reading “Therapy Session”
Stream of Consciousness

“Every single word of the conversation we just had”

The noise is suffocating. And I can see that her ear is bothering her. And knowing the looks and whispers that will come by us getting up together, I ask her if she would like to step out for a moment. Get some fresh air. Our friends share smiles. There is some egging on. Not sure if she sees any of it. And I’m sure there are some jokes passed around as we make our way through the crowd into the great outdoors. Our only company are the banished smokers. And we sit across from each other just talking. Nerd stuff. Our usual conversations. And then…

“Where did you go right now?”

I’m seventeen and it’s summer. The scent of Candies perfume fills the atmosphere of our bodies. She whispers all the dirty things we should be doing. And she looks into my eyes as she asks me her question. And I can see the pain that lingers behind them. And I can hear the words she’ll tell me when I inevitably break her heart in a matter of months. When I meet the sweet cheerleader girl who’d rather play guitar in a band. When I meet said girl’s best friend, the redhead from San Antonio.

“Are you even listening to me?”

We’re fighting again. And I know we’re at the end of our time, but both of us are still trying to wedge the puzzle pieces together. We’re just too afraid of having to start over. She’s made too many plans. She’s got it all figured it out, while I’m still struggling to find out who it is that I want to be. Though, deep down, I know it isn’t the person I’m growing into. And I turn to her, and I see the tears in her eyes, understanding the pain that I’ll introduce in a matter of weeks when I go missing. When I break up with her over a phone call because I’m the coward I deny being.

“Are you ok?”

Her green eyes inspect mine. She who watches me sleep whenever she awakes first. She who I long to hold on to even as she runs away from me. She keeps me centered. I called her my balance to my counselor. There’s so much I want to do for her, but can’t get past my own anxieties. We’re at the stop light and I know the words she’s about to tell me. She’s uncertain, but I know the truth. She’s pregnant. And my life is going to split into two. There were times when I wanted to leave because it seemed easier than remaining a slave to what I felt for her. But at that moment when the words slip from her mouth, I know that I want to stand by her side for as long as she will have me. And while the possibility seems endless, I began to wonder if she can see in my eyes the pain she will cause me. And I wonder if it’s with the same clarity that I have when I see it the pain I’ll cause her.

“I think it’s my mommy’s friend.”

Shaun and I lay in bed watching TikTok videos when the phone call comes in. And I ignore it because it’s late and nothing good can come of this. When I listen to the phone call, it’s from the hospital. The information doesn’t compute correctly. My mind doesn’t process it that I’m hanging on to the fact that they mispronounced Jeanna’s name. When I call back, I learn of her condition. Stable but critical. An oxymoron to put me at ease, I imagine. On the way to the hospital, I’m calling her mom. I’m calling her brother. I’m calling Izzy and Marci. When I get there, the nurse takes me aside and tells me she’s the only survivor. Her mom, Marci, and her nephew gone.

“Can you be strong?”

And I’m sitting next to my father. He has less than a day left when I tell him that there was a time when I watched him from afar. That whenever he visited, I’d hide behind my grandmother’s plants just to catch a glimpse of him. That in the sixth grade, I darted from the backyard to the front when I saw beat up Dodge pickup drive by. And I told him that there had been so much anger that brewed up inside me when he never bothered to look for me. But we are both adults now and we both share the blame for not having a relationship. Neither of us budged. And I tell him that I didn’t hate him. “And if you need to go, it’s ok. You can go. I’ll be ok.”

And I’m here. With her. Watching her hands. Watching her eyes. And I’m searching for myself in them. And I think about what I’ve lost this year. And all that I’ve gained. And I replay all the conversations we’ve ever had. And try to memorize all the words to each of them.

“But are you living in the moment? Or are you living just to remember?”

And every ghost I’ve held on to. Every moment when I looked over my shoulder to what I had and what I lost. The guilt I’ve carried for not being there, and not being enough. And the moments when I could have tried harder. It’s all led me to this. Now.

Personal

To the Blonde Girl

In the seventh grade, I fell in love with a cute blonde, nerdy girl. Can’t even remember her name; that’s just evidence of how fickle my heart was in adolescence. How fickle it remains today. Never spoke so much as a word to her during those days. Nothing that wasn’t classroom related. Science and English, if memory serves me. And it often doesn’t. Though, if I close my eyes I can picture her behind the lids. Plain, natural face. A gentle Jackson Pollock painting of freckles that starts at her nose and spreads out towards her cheeks. Her blonde hair, usually worn loose, falling just past her shoulders. A sense of style pulled out of a Pentecostal wardrobe, something akin to Mennonite-lite.  Long, unflattering skirt of plain color. A shirt or blouse loose-fitting, also dull. Calf-high wool socks worn bunched at the ankles with worn-to-the-sole shoes that brought the outfit together.

This mental romance didn’t run deep in the cerebral cortex. Didn’t graze the forebrain. Doesn’t compare to the feeling pooling through me during sixth grade when I obsessed over the Little Redhead Girl. And looking back on my crush on her, she doesn’t fit the mold of girls I’ve fallen for since. It just existed in this lapse of space. Something for me to reminisce as an adult facing existential crises on the daily.

There were times, after seventh grade, I wondered what happened to the little blonde girl who smelled of essays and old books. It’s not as if she’s resigned to just memory. Her name available as I do own a middle school year book. Though, I wouldn’t want to learn how different our paths veered. Or worse: how similar they’d be.

There are reasons why she came to mind. Reasons I’m not going to divulge in at the moment. It’s just that on Saturday, I learn how two people who walked down different paths have managed to end up in the exact same place. How, despite our differences, we are near duplicates of each other. On this quest, I searched for someone—like Jeanna, like Jessica, like Mari, like Jenny, like Selina—who’s my equal but opposite, here I am spending my time texting and talking to a girl different yet exactly the same.

Go fucking figure.

Alternate History · Personal

Untitled Pt. 1

Nothing feels real in these moments. Staring at the face in the mirror, this familiar stranger whose eyes are bagged and drooping. Wisps of gray hair blending into the dark. It’s one of those dissociative moments. At least something in the hypnagogia realm. And my mouth cracks open. The question on my lips is, “Who are you?” But before any sound comes out, the alarm on my bed blares, shaking me awake. A dream. All of it. A dream.

I am seventeen years old. Outside breeze slips pass the curtain of my window, carrying with it the scent of rain. It’s expected. A drizzle. Something not uncommon in the month of January. The cold front they were expecting must’ve come in early, sometime in the middle of the night. Always prepared, I kept the window open just a crack so the stuffiness of my teenage bedroom didn’t choke me while I slept.

Dragging ass, I make it to the restroom where the day begins. Shower. Brush teeth. Comb hair, poorly. Rub the Avon-brand deodorant under each pit. Get dress. Leave the house. First day back to school after the winter holiday. Better make these last few months of high school last, they say. You’ll look back on these days, relishing in your youth. Remembering all the stupid things you did as fondly as do with whom you did them.

The halls of Edinburg North High School aren’t popping with life. Nobody wants to be here and nothing will change that. From the corner of my eye, I see Teddy lazily looking forward. He survived the break. When he approaches me, just in passing as we were never that close, he gives me that slight head nod. But some ass wad brushes up against him, knocking him into me.

His skin is cold; his hand grasping my bare wrist as he steadies himself. Fragments of a dream, like memories, pour into my head. “Wait,” I say before trailing off due to his interruption.

“Jesus fuck!” he shouts as the dickhead continues down the hall. “Sorry about that,” he turns to me. “See you around,” he says before leaving, mixing into the crowd of adolescents and vanishing from my sight.

And I whisper to myself, “Aren’t you in a coma? Aren’t you dying?”

“I passed Ms. Champion’s class last semester.” I’m speaking more to myself, but Miranda hears me.

“You seem uncertain,” she says.

“Nothing feels real,” I whisper. Either she doesn’t hear me, or she’s doesn’t care. Either way, my statement just floats in the air. For a bit before it fades in to the great unknown. Still, after lunch I walk by a Spanish classroom and take a peek inside. There are a few students already inside, but none of them look too familiar. Just faces in the crowd that sort of thing.

“Can I help you?” the teacher asks.

“No, I’m good, Ms. Ramos,” I say before heading toward my destination.

And once I’m in my seat, I wonder, how the hell did I know her name? I must have heard it after first period. Our classes are right next to each other, after all. In Media Tech, I work on a project Janie and I started before winter break. It keeps my thoughts in line, but even then something I can’t shake the thought that something if off. That all this is wrong, somehow.

After school, I head to my room and pop in the CD to the stereo I got for my birthday last year. Except, the stereo shouldn’t be here. I remember it was stolen in the break in several months ago. And that I wouldn’t get another until after graduation. After graduation?

The phone rings. It’s Kara. She’s at Jessica’s house, and thought she’d call me. Just to hear my voice. And I feign interest in her stories and words. And when she whispers “I love you,” there’s some hesitation on my part.

“It’s ok,” she says. “I already know.”

But she doesn’t know. She will in a few months when I admit my love for Jessica, instead. And she will become resentful towards us no matter how much she swears she’s ok with it.

The question remains, though. How do I know all this will transpire?

Personal

How did we get there?

Oops. I forgot to NaNoWriMo today. Instead, I spent most of the day (and taking a break from) cleaning my study and organizing my bookshelves. Ladies and gentlemen, I’m a hoarder. And it’s only a matter of time before you read about me.Better Days I managed to throw away several back issues of magazines and will attempt to throw away a few more after I shift through them and rip out any recipes I’d like to try.

I chatted with a friend (as in the ex-girlfriend type) and we talked for a good hour. So much to vent and so much to learn. Some secrets were shared, but I’ll not share them here because they’re too private. Advice was given, though I’m uncertain if I’ll listen to it. In the end, I noted that I’m not seeing any solutions to my problems. I’m pining for a girl who doesn’t love me (and I question the validity of her affection in the past), while having these feelings for another girl and flirting with another one. It just makes me long for better days when I felt a little more certain about my future. It’s cliché to say it, but my room has become a metaphor of my life. The more I try to clean it, the more stuff I uncover and the more of a mess I make. And now I’m wondering about other things because of all the things I’ve learned.

I uncovered several short stories, a novella, a handful of poems, and several scraps of unfinished tales or ideas that I jotted down. I threw away several repeat copies (done for creative writing courses), keeping only one of each (the ones with the better notes in the margins from peers). I found a few items from Jeanna, things she drew for me back when we were young and in love. I kept those, too. Because they meant something to me then, and continue to.

Break time’s over. I’ll write more interesting things later.