‘Jay’ : through Alexis’ eyes

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HIS touch was silk trailing across my skin. I ached for him – only him.

The woody smell of the fireplace lingered in the air ; their flames reached through the room and breathed onto my hair. The wine spill buried a deep, bloody stain into the paisley rug. My hips caressed the edge of the study desk, as my fingers traced the silver band on his left hand which symbolised that he was mine.

We were one ; our souls intertwined like the remnants of old history that linger on castle walls. My lips laced with his, creating a pink tapestry of flesh. I knew his breathing ; each rise of his chest was as familiar as my own. His scent I caught even in my most distant dreams.

How unfortunate that it had taken us this many years and mistakes to love each other. How different would life be had we found each other in the younger version of our youth. My love was dark and overbearing. My love was madness – and it was madness that kept him intrigued. A touch of his fingertips: his skin set my heart alight. I was no longer my own. His body was warm, and my soul craved the heat.

“Alexis,” he whispered, “we have to be quiet.” The sound of longing and intensity mixed in his husky voice just fuelled my craving stronger from within. I felt guilty, that I could desire someone that much – but like the kind of guilt that stained so deep, that it only romanticised the secrecy of what lay between us ; that only our senses would ever behold the intimacy of what we shared.

“I love you,” I sighed, and even then, I knew, that what I felt in that moment was a lot more than love.

  • Spin-off the character-based short stories of Alexis

Honesty from a Second-hand heart

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DON’T go.

I know I’ve said this one too many times, but I will change, I will be better. I will be what you need.

I used to think that Love was selfless, but I have often been faced with the reality that what I feel for you comes strangely close to greed. You are mine, you were always mine – even when I thought that I had lost that right, your kiss reminded me that our hearts were indebted to each other. Neither of us can deny that we found in the other something that we had been missing. No amount of goodbyes, tears or anger can take that away. We know what we are, but we’re still here.

I don’t think I can lose you. Or maybe I can – I just choose not to. I would need years to recover from the part that is You. I don’t want to recover. I don’t want to forget. Help me to be okay. Heal my insanity, calm my demons ; I’m sorry that I’ve allowed them to get into your heart – they whispered that I didn’t deserve you.

You’re the only man I have truly loved – you don’t believe that, I hope one day you will. There are parts to my soul that I could never let another being into. I could never divulge the sins I have revealed with you, with someone else ; they took me just 22 years to let them out to you. You always had a way about you that made me feel myself, that made me feel alive. But there were also times I wished I’d never let you in, moments I wish I could erase that part of my memory where we broke each other. I didn’t expect to feel this way, I didn’t think I’d fall in love with the boy who became my best friend.

I’m sorry. I’m sorry for what I am, and for what I am not. I’m sorry that my capacity to self-sabotage has cheated you of your happiness. I’m sorry that many times I couldn’t be who you needed me to.

I don’t know my heart anymore – perhaps you don’t recognise it either ; but I’m in here, somewhere. I’m still the girl you fell in love with at eighteen, I’m still the woman you’ve grown to know. Don’t give up on me, don’t give up on her. I’d go back and love you right, if I could.

Don’t leave me. Don’t say goodbye and mean it.

Human

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Have you ever felt as if you were sometimes suppressing Human? Leah often did ; yet, Pain held onto her like a lonely friend who just wanted to be loved. It followed her through her childhood, and eventually, they became synonymous ; the one not being able to survive without the other’s warmth.

There was a comfort in Pain, that only self-sabotagers would understand. There was also a freedom in transparency, and sometimes Life is generous enough to hand you the people who somehow accept you in your brokenness ; the ones who stick around and remind you that you are only just human, and invariably still worthy of love.

This rawness of her heart was one of Leah’s prettiest features. She did not want to be tormented by her insecurities, her flaws, the things that kept her up at night ; but at the same time, without Pain there to remind her, she was afraid that it meant she was beginning to stop caring – to become numb. For her, there were few worse feelings than complacency – but there was a fine line between vulnerability and masochism. Leah often blurred the two, and that instability was what she feared would lead to her unraveling.

The air in her bedroom felt heavy. She stared into her bedroom mirror : how different she was to the one who looked back at her 10 years ago. A part of her craved the innocence and naivety of her youth, her ignorance to how much she would see, feel and witness in the years to follow. For a moment, the girl looking back was almost a stranger to her. She had always been her biggest critique. How awful to fight the only one you truly have in this Life!

The girl in the mirror spoke back : “I want you to know, I get it. There’s a cold and soulless corner of your mind, buried deep beneath the mistakes, undisclosed longings and fears. You shy away from it – don’t ; I respect you for it.

Don’t you know you’re human? Ah, being human is a marvelous thing. Don’t hide from it. It’s okay.


This is your war.
This is your rebirth.
Do not be ashamed ; I get it.”

 

All is Vanity

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ALL is Vanity. I gave my heart to know wisdom, and to know madness and folly: I perceived that this also is vexation of spirit. 

Vanity was the most gorgeous woman I had ever beheld. She adorned herself in the finest silk ; pearls and diamonds glistened off her pale, icy skin. She dominated the attention of any room she strutted into. Every eye that gazed upon her wanted a part of her. Her voice seduced the hearts of men, and women alike. She had  a way about her that made you feel alive, but this was short-lived. She lured her victims in with promises of eternal fame and happiness, and left them desolate on the bathroom floor once she had sufficiently drained them for her amusement. Her strength lay in knowing her prey better than no other. You could not trust Vanity, and those who did, felt her wrath in irreparable ways in the years that followed her arrival.

Beauty, however, was remarkable in ways often misunderstood. Her face glistened with a compassion that could only come from the Heavens, and her touch remained on your skin long after Age took residence. She was precious, but not often discovered. Those who dirty to find her, would cast her aside on the premise that she was too simple, too common. People did not want common, they craved indulgences that fed their greedy egos, and desires that rotted their souls. Humans rejected the effort that came with attaining her, yet she was worth the reward for those who sought-after her. Beauty watched the lives of men silently, for centuries. With each new generation that roamed the Earth, came a new form of self-obsession and lustful narcissism ; each period worse than the walkers before it. Beauty was not for everyone. It was for the kind-hearted, the honest, the loving. 

For years, I watched Vanity control the lives and minds of women around me. She peeked into my own life, too. Every so often, I’d sense the chill of her bony fingers across my spine, clawing at my skin, begging to be let in. The spicy foul odour of her breath filled my nightmares.  Her nails dripped with the red of my fears ; she played on the loopholes in my mind. She snaked through my childhood ; she was not going to have my womanhood too.

Beauty, she came with Age. You could not chase her, for the harder you tried, the further she ran. She came to you when she believed you were ready, when she was convinced that the sincerity of your searching was true. At the end of 22, she made her visits more frequent, more long, and more lasting. I see her in the little changes I make to my lifestyle everyday. I see her in my Mother, my Grandmother. She is as soft as a petal, if you know how to handle her.

And Vanity : I do not know how, but one day, I will conquer her : just like the women before me, and those who will follow after me.

You should clothe yourselves instead with the unfading beauty that comes from within.

Seek, and you shall find.

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WE are all searching. The only difference lies in where we choose to look.

Much of my college life was spent trying to figure out what was missing. And then, in my Third Year, I began to write again ; small passages, hidden notes that exposed my vulnerability, but also my soul. Things changed after that. My oldest memory of writing is standing in front of my Grade 8 English class, reading out a creative essay I was succinctly proud of. I still remember, it was called The Key’. My teacher, Mrs Hutchinson, doesn’t know how much she impacted my life, just by encouraging me, as it was after that, that I learned that I was good at it. After I finished school, I pursued a career in Law – possibly the most contradictory profession to the freedom of creative expression. The irony is uncanny. There were no longer any creative-writing exams and talks about poetry’s beauty and hidden meaning behind the words. I lost that, for a while. And it’s good to have found it again. It has been all technical jargon, deciphering what’s right and wrong and legal loopholes – and trust me, there were a few of those, and I suppose that was the fun part of the degree. Law is a very crafty profession, mind you.

Halfway through the year, I got a part-time job at a mall down the road from me, where I learned how to balance the art of studying, and using my minimum wage on partying, food, and black friday shoes. So now I can add ‘Professional gift-wrapper and soap-seller’ to my resumé. No one could understand why I was doing it, I just knew that I needed to. It tested my patience, my pride, and now I’ve closed that chapter of my life and am happy I did it anyway. It’s taught me humility, tolerance, and also how to go nine hours standing on my feet (I mean, you never know when that might come in handy).

The point is, we are all searching. And we will always search – that comes with the territory of being called Human. We will never know why a path may lead us somewhere entirely twisted and seemingly off course. But sometimes, it’s important that we go with it. Surely happiness does not have to be a constant pursuit – not if there is something within us to keep us grounded ; something that stands through the storms of life, the wandering, the fear of not being okay. We need that. Surely there is a meaning to everything ; the problem is finding out what that is. What makes us alive, what makes us different? Different. I’ve grown old enough to admit that perhaps we will never truly feel set apart from everyone else. So what is it that gets us through that reality of commonness? What is it that makes us feel beautiful when society dictates what is, and when age touches us and paints us into something else?

This year, I want to learn that I am enough. I want to do things that not everyone does. I want to feel fulfilled by extending beyond myself and my own desires. I want to travel the world and experience the lives of others in 20 different countries. I want to learn their languages too. I want to live and feel young even at 30. I want to write, and write a lot, about memories that matter, and not an 8-5 job.

I like to believe that one day, I’ll be sitting on a porch in a tiny cottage, with the sea spray brushing up against my cheeks, and a copy of my published novel on the bookshelf by the fireplace ; content, and worthy, and I will think, “This is why.” 

A traveller’s eyeview 

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Her streets are lined with stories from faraway lands. The cobble stones have heard the echoing cries of sorrow, war, disaster, but also love. The walls of Gaudí have beheld the prayers of desperation, and overlooked the grief of its people. On a lone hilltop, the symbol of the Messiah watches over the city.

Red and yellow silk caress the glass peering over the allies. Tourists bustle in its shadows, their cameras stealing the history engraved in every crevice. Raindrops cling to the slippery lanes, travelling with the gypsy to her flamenco performance, with the father to his family of three. Mystery floats through the land, from one town to the next – like a lonely spirit looking for a place to rest. The smell of tapas and wine brush against your hair ; the scent of weed and flavoured cigarettes linger over your clothes, and entice you into shadowy walkways. Picasso leaves his touch in the hidden galleries and books in the bags of college art students.

In the Gothic part, a humble woman sits. She is wrapped up in wool and cotton, geared for her day. Her voice flows through the antique flea-market, down the path, and bounces off the wrought iron protecting the homes above, until it settles in the darkness. People rush past her, distracted by man’s architecture. They smile when they hear her – but very seldom stop. She is just a poor lady, filling the city with her harmony, and also, a bit of sadness.

An hour drive away, lay a medieval town. Castles reign from every mountain, peering over the valleys of the once Ferdinand and Isabella. Cruelty and beauty mingle in the paintings lining the palaces and cathedrals ; you can almost touch the remnants of pain staining the fortresses.

Ávila, Segovia, Toledo : may my memory never grow dim of your worlds. May I always remember the colour of your tiles, Casa Batlló ; the silence of your wooden chairs, Sagrada Familia ; the sincerity of your touch, Casa Milà ; the exoticism of your paths, Park Güell.

You have imprinted on me, in just ten days. You have given me a quiet hope, broader horizons, a wandering spirit. I have seen the stories of others who have suffered before me, the work of those who believed that life was defined by the legacy you leave behind. You have inspired my dressing, my desire to discover new cultures and languages, and my writing.

You were my muse – perhaps that is why I have left a part of my heart with you.

This is my Land of Art ; this is España.

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Authenticity

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My heart grows like the flowers in my Mother’s garden at Springtime. It blossoms with cherished friends and close love. Its vines envelope beloved pets and good memories. The petals bloom in the sunlight of religion and inner peace.

My heart roars like the waves that ascend into the heavens, reaching higher, leaning towards the hands of God. And then it crashes, heavy, and with a force that can extinguish the fragile life beneath it. It heaves with power and tranquility, all at the same time, until the next moment it caresses Shore’s skin.

My heart is the art I have fallen in love with, the words I’ve fallen asleep to, the love I have contained. Its valves pulse with lands I have travelled to ; its veins clotted with the pain Life has brought me, too.

My heart is the crack in the window, where the smallest light can creep through to warm up a room. It is the lone bird in a cage, who forgot how to fly, but is still hopeful that one day it will be free. It sings because it loves to, it plucks at its feathers for sometimes, Rage beckons. Passersby have stopped to admire it, claimed they know it, understood it. They saw what I allowed them to see, they have loved only what I revealed. But my heart is raw and ugly and bruised. It is not loveable. It is dark and real, and afraid. It is my fears and unfulfilled dreams, it is the nightmares I never dared utter out loud. My heart is the girl inside that relished in solitude, but also needed to be loved. It is my furthest memory of a piece of writing, by an optimistic, 13-year-old me. It is the moments I have felt truly alive, truly beautiful, truly cherished.

My heart is the whisper that tells me to keep going. It’s the fire that consumes me, but also calms my storm.

Be still, dear heart, for you lie in the hands of someone greater. And you will always be okay.