Dinner in Paris

Standing before a woman, tall, blonde, extravagant in her own profound way, I found myself looking hope in its eye. For so long I struggled through poverty and disease. My life filled with disappointments piled atop brutal injustice determined to stomp my very being beneath the ground I walked. But this woman, this blonde, confidant woman with her mischievous smirk felt like hope to me. 

“Would you like to be our family’s translator on our vacation to Paris this weekend?” 

Amongst the cardboard boxes and filth I felt a glow surround me. Hope. Such a strange feeling after all this time coated in the mud and the muck. I felt puzzled just as much as I felt joy. Why me? Why a homeless woman you just met on the street? I gazed up at this woman, my legs visibly weak. My eyes wavered hesitantly, her daring gaze staring me down. She was daring me to answer. But why? Did she really want an answer at all? I continued to stare at her questioningly until she casually signaled two men that helped me to my feet. 

I didn’t say a word the entire drive to their home. 

Soon, I found myself in Paris. The family graciously cleaned me up with a hair cut, makeup, clothes, and shoes of a wide range of styles. I followed them throughout Paris translating between them and shop keepers, hotel staff, waiters, and the like accompanied by their family assistant in charge of gathering supplies to take home with them and souvenirs as well as maintaining the schedule and such. A glorified servant. He was a slight Indian man, small in all ways.  But he had quite a large family he provided for and I sympathized with him. My father was a hard working man once, too. 

The trip to Paris seemed to pass too quickly. On the final night the family decided to eat out at an extra expensive restaurant and feed me as well as long as I took their order and translated it to the cook. I agreed, of course. 

After the orders were sufficiently translated, the wife and mother of the family stood up beside me looking around. After spending such time with the family I didn’t bat an eye at the gesture. 

“I wonder where Zamir placed himself.” 

My eyes lifted off the pad I was writing on and looked around cautiously refusing to meet her gaze. Why would she ask where he was? She never inquires to his presence or lack thereof. Before I could think much further she grabbed my wrist mildly and tugged me along behind her. 

We wove our way through narrow corridors until we came to a rustic back alleyway where various dealings were occurring. Zamir seemed to be in the midst of an argument with a vegetable salesman. He peaked up at the woman meekly. 

“These are good vegetables, madam.” 

Without hesitating she turned to me with my hands in her hands. 

“How would you like to be our new Family Assistant?” 

My mouth gaped in genuine surprise as I looked from Zamir to her and back. His face grew pained and white as if the Black Death had taken him in its grasp. I looked back at the woman my lips closed tautly without saying a word. A practice, I seem quite grand at performing. The woman nodded approvingly and walked away releasing my hands from her grasp. I looked back at Zamir sorrowfully before rushing after my employer. 

I found my way back to the restaurant without too much trouble and stood before those demanding eyes and long blonde curls once again. I too turned meek and submissive before them. Before any words could be exchanged, Zamir burst through the door filling the atmosphere with anger and a hunger for justice. I turned to stand beside my mistress and looked upon this under appreciated man with a mild annoyance but respect. 

“How dare you fire me! I have given this family my all!” 

Zamir rushed towards us with a fire in his eyes the Devil himself couldn’t conjure. For a brief moment I felt fear fill my body before I caught madam’s eyes. I suddenly knew just what to do. The knife in his hand would hold no meaning. My employer and I held hands and stared down the quickly approaching aggressor with a defiance befitting gods. Our stomachs ruptured revealing bottomless black holes that sucked Zamir inside to never return. 

Where he falls forever while we dine in Hell. 

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I’m Fine

Warm droplets cascade upon my face. Their warm, wet texture soothe my ache. Clear in color but red in perception, they blind my vision. One can only guess asunder as to their mission. The overwhelming agony dominating my heart, threatens to tear me apart. Waves of excruciating pain ripple throughout my form until every muscle spasms with their fury.  Tears begin evacuating at an escalating scale until every fluid runs dry. Every muscle aches with the disappointment. Every bone reverberates with the pain. Every nerve ending shakes with the tension destroying my soul.

Sunlight peeks through my thick curtains, blinding the darkness in my room. A sharp hiss escapes my lips and suddenly the blind can see. My face is wiped and my clothes are changed, a smile placed gently upon my lips. The door closes solidly behind me. The last air to escape my fortress of solitude licks my back in temptation. I know there is no going back.

My mind drowns beneath tidal waves of questions. It constantly swallows memories that slice through tissue like razor blades. The journey from point A to point B remains a mystery. How I arrived, I shall never know. Why I arrived, I will always question.

The pain squeezing bloody droplets from my heart threatens to suffocate me where I stand. Nothing compares to the utter agony echoing with each breath. A careless rattling within my being until the pain travels from every possible tissue and back. Each beat of my heart strengthening its resolve. Each breath filling my lungs validating its cause. Droplets rain down within my body as a hurricane of remorse swirls inside me. A smile upon my face, I walk.

You ask me how I am. I respond that I am just fine and inquire about you as well. Never once do our smiles waver. Never once do questions glance through our self-absorbed minds. What if you are not fine? What if I am not fine? I am not fine.

We are two passing souls on the journey through life. Our smiles plastered like make-up, applied each morning. Bleached white teeth glare back into my eyes, as fake as the taut lips around them. Muscles straining to hold the gesture as if I am even worth the effort. Are you worth the effort my muscles painfully exert? I do not think you are. I do not think I am.

Why must even our gestures lie for us? Can we not just be honest in even the most simplistic of fashions?

You pass by me with an air of relief and I sense your facade drop. My muscles relax and I am at ease again. The pain ricochets beneath my breast. I am continually surprised that no one hears the loud clanging from the pain impacting upon each organ. The resounding smack nearly deafens me each time. With each step I am forced to catch my breath in some desperate yet vein attempt to not faint.  I refuse to give in to such agony. I refuse to let some unwelcome pain dictate my actions.

Yet, here I am. Constantly berated with questions of my well-being, I am consistently unsure of the answer. Politically correct individuals would respond with a simplistic yet appropriate, “I am fine, thank you”. I adore much more honesty but detest emotional vulnerability. Cunningly I derail the conversation into something more interesting. Divert and redirect. James Bond would be proud.

Meanwhile, the longer I remain conscious, the stronger the agony grows. Until the moment I would give anything for a drunken stupor followed by an unconscious escapade into the land of nothingness. Pain never follows me there. Neither do questions.

“How are you?”

“I’m fine.”

The Hydrant

Pressure wells up beneath a busted fire hydrant, threatening to spew forth all the truth captured within for so long. A vulnerability arises with the frothing waters of awareness. People crowd to watch as the cool liquid spouts forth from the abandoned gates. The sun dances from droplet to droplet bringing each particle to life. Children dance beneath the glistening spray. 

Vulnerable. The fire hydrant stands ignored, out shone by the incandescent splatter of water upon a hot sidewalk. The people rejoice for the refreshing break from reality, the welcomed pick-me-up during a summer day. 

But where did the water originate? Who blessed the community with such a prayed for favor? Not a single thought passes through a child’s mind or an adult’s lips as cheers erupt beneath the raining joy. 

Vulnerable. The fire hydrant shrivels within itself, wounded from the ignorance so many seem to possess. All its hopes and dreams welled up and burst forth to rain such joy upon the people and still it receives nothing. Nothing for its pain. 

Vulnerable. The fire hydrant’s heart shatters. The frothing waves erupting from its gates shut off. Soon only drops seep through the holes where a heart once beat. Tear drops for every hope shattered and every dream broken. 

Vulnerable. The fire hydrant bends over upon itself to never spout again. Not another wave shall erupt from its trembling spouts nor another laugh slip through its cold, hard exterior. Reality reigns henceforth. 

Vulnerable. Broken. The fire hydrant dies. 

Life is not as simple as grown-ups pretend. Throughout childhood fairy tales mold our perception of life and shape our ideals for love later in life. But life and love are never as simple as any fairy tale or love song say. 

Love is sacrifice. Love erases pain. Love validates the past while providing hope for the future. Love is a battle. Love is a war. Love is a struggle promising the richest rewards. 

Life is a journey traveled alone. Each step affecting the next. Each foot traveled changing the destination. We each must read the signs and decide which path to tread for ourselves. Life is an empty book. With each choice we make ink befalls upon the page and so our memoirs are written. In the blood of our mistakes. In the tears of our heartbreaks. In the laughter of our joy. 

Nothing is ever as simple as someone wishes to believe. It is complex. It is wondrous. It is a dream we are all dreaming.

I am tired of dreaming my days away. I am tired of waking up to tangled sheets and empty space with the sun burning my face. 

I want to live. I want to love.

Lying in wait beneath the cold still moon my heart beating red and blue. My organs pump as my chest heaves and I wonder what my past leaves. There’s not much to me just my organs and hide. There’s not much to me, just the mess inside. Sometimes it’s hard to imagine a life of tranquility. Sometimes it’s hard to imagine a life of civility. Somewhere peaceful and loving away from the hate and lies. Somewhere love doesn’t so easily hide. 

Living through Generation X pretending technology cures the diseases ravaging humanity while watching society shrivel and die. I am tired of the lie. 

In a world where only my dog can understand and love me the way any true heart should creates a conundrum I have yet to undo. And that’s the truth. 

Lying in wait beneath the cold still moon, my arms spread wide, fingertips reaching for the emptiness surrounding me. I just want to be free. Free in love and in life with one special person beside me flying through the skies far above all of society’s lies.