To be Continued…

man-and-woman-driving-convertible-car-by-the-beach-at-sunset-vacation-girl-happy-wind-blowing-hair-summer-joy-holiday-happiness-romantic-couple-honeymoon-concept-drone-aerial_smgywxn9_thDo you ever feel like suddenly everything in your world is a competition but you don’t want to compete? Like things don’t hold the same meaning they did oh so long ago?

You’ve felt it too?

Wonderful, I’m assuming the suffocation that followed these feelings is natural too?

Well doesn’t this just keep getting better and better.

I probably sound like a cynic to you. I wasn’t one before I promise, but I think I may have morphed into one. I’ve recently been deemed quite unpleasant. A while before I was told my presence brought discomfort to someone’s life, so much so they had to stay away from me. I tell you, it’s been one hell of a year. Here I was thinking that renting a convertible and driving to anywhere would fix everything. Well the smoke coming out of my car’s engine and the abandoned road in front of me say otherwise. Did I mention life sucks?

So here I am holding my steering wheel, gawking at the speedometer hoping it will magically start accelerating me out of – wherever it is I am right now. Maybe if I flipped my pencil in the right way and really believed in myself I could ‘apparate’ out of here. If only I’d been born in the early 1980s, I would’ve gotten my Hogwarts letter before Voldemort wiped out the Ministry’s record of Muggle born wizards and never gotten into this mess!

I’m sure wizards weren’t awful to each other like muggles are. You know where this is going, I’m going to go on about everything that’s wrong in my story and you’ll have to pretend you care and listen – joke’s on you. You could just give up on the care façade like the people closest to me did.

Yes, I know I’m super sensitive and overly emotional.

Now how many clichés does this story have?

Lost friendships? Check. Betrayal? Check. Unnecessary drama? Check. Unrequited love? Check.

So yeah, clearly we’re not low on the clichés in this story. Don’t worry I’ll tell you all the details – hey I’m stranded in the middle of nowhere; I have all the time in the world, do you?

Ok. So where do I begin? How do I start?

“Just a small town girl livin’ in a lonely world” – fine maybe Journey lyrics aren’t the best way to begin. But you’d be surprised at how apt they are. The name is Ariana Fisher; I spent all of grade school thinking Fisher-Price toys were made by my daddy just for me. Obviously my incredibly colourful imagination attracted a lot of the best bullies in town. They were a real treat, made me feel like crap about myself. On the day I decided to stand up for myself, they beautifully showed me how horrible I was for doing so which in turn made me draw up an apology card for them.

Yup, I’ve been a sensitive idiot pretty much all my life.

Growing up was confusing, as it is for anyone but my best friends Linkin Park, Chris Daughtry, Three Days Grace and Evanescence were always there for me. Don’t get me wrong, I wasn’t a loner, but no friend was truer than these guys. I have a couple of ‘bosom buddies’ the disgusting label the world has given to childhood friends. We go back a good two decades. These three girls were the only girls farthest from girly I could find in a class of thirty. It’s still a sisterhood of sorts. They’re the ‘first’ friends – you know the friends that see you through all your firsts: first ‘F’, first smoke, first hair dye, first crush, first dump etc. Obviously we’ve also had our problems but they’ve never been THE problem, you know?

I met the human forms of headaches in various stages of my life. I’m surprised how many forms a headache can morph into, must be a Metamorphmagus.

My life was quite boring all through middle school and high school. The unnecessary drama began in college. Ah, the collegiate life. Those four years just flew by now that I think about it. But in that moment, going through it all, everything seemed like the end of the world. I wasn’t as invisible in college as I was in school. I wasn’t miss popular or anything either but a fair share of people acknowledged my existence because I was an extra-curricular nerd that stuck her nose in everything.

College is huge and all but its funny how you bump into the same faces at different and completely random accounts over the years in that place. Having different groups of friends meant I met a lot of friends of friends and there was one person who had a lot of mutual with me. Brace yourselves ladies and gentlemen, here enters my first bad habit – the boy.

I’m not going to waste time on describing what he looks like because really that wasn’t the reason he became ‘the’ boy. Maybe I should tell you his name, but I’m going to decide against it. Looking back, he literally came out of nowhere, I couldn’t understand how I hadn’t met or seen him sooner. It was like the wind blew him in or something – which from his built is quite likely. I always wondered how people spoke to one person day in and day out without running out of things to say, but experiencing it let me tell you it was the most comfortable feeling in the world. It felt like home. But people even move out of houses they’ve had for centuries right?

The boy took my hand and showed me what paradise looked like. His charm, care and concern were the three C’s that came in like Miley Cyrus on a wrecking ball and broke my walls down. He led me up on to the clouds and one fine day disappeared, leaving me up there without a ladder. That’s when it struck, the lightening that was reality. I had it all wrong, I got up on that ledge, holding his hand and said ‘You jump, I jump Jack’ like Rory did. Only when I hit the ground I was alone. I was the only one that fell and I don’t know who to blame for that. The boy? Myself? The other woman? Or just circumstance?

Any guesses? Circumstance.

I blamed circumstances. I wanted to know whether the boy had felt everything I had felt – I needed to know I wasn’t crazy. But the big unveiling of the emotional truth was dumbfounding for him. He said nothing – absolutely nothing. Maybe I had imagined all of it, perceived myself as someone of importance and significance, I really do flatter myself. I actually believed that in a sea of women he chose me. Crazy right?

27 dresses is my future, only Malcolm Doyle will continue to be fictional considering my brother is already happily married. Unfortunately, there is no wedding to be planned in this family.

It’s a shame too, he was a keeper. My parents loved him; my brother still hangs out with him. They go out for the occasional beer and football game. Sometimes I wonder what things would be like if I hadn’t told him or if she hadn’t entered the picture, because both scenarios are mutually inclusive after all. Do I regret it? No. No regrets. I was happier than ever then, a happiness I still haven’t been able to find. For once it seemed like fairytales could exist, but obviously life got insecure and simply popped my bubble.

Life is funny that way; its sadistic pleasure of dark humour really takes a toll on us all. One second you’re closing your eyes and imagining walking the corridors of 450 Serra Mall in red jerseys with the boy, the next you’re wondering if you could ever be the same again. Suddenly we’re passing each other like strangers in a sea of people, after all those days we spent hours laughing endlessly. I think I deserve some credit for swallowing the pain of his silence and going on like nothing happened. It wasn’t like the girl wasn’t nice, she was great. They were both great. I just wanted him to be happy – that’s what love is right? sigh. Sounds like I still love him doesn’t it? Ugh, this reality is a reminder of my weakness. Fortunately or unfortunately, this weakness is my biggest hope. Hope that maybe I might be good enough one day, hope that it really wasn’t all in my head and hope that it wasn’t just me who thought we were pretty great together too. There are so many songs and so many stories on the explanation of that connection between the person that’s right for you – the feeling of ease and instant compatibility. They sounded like a load of shit to me too, before this shit happened. Speaking of shit, this was how the story played out in my mind. The boy however, it seems, believes that the promises made and the things said were those between regular friends, so I’m supposed to digest that after all it was in fact, all in my head and that’s where I call bullshit. Every step of the way I warned him not to get me super attached, I begged him to not make promises he couldn’t keep. But he reassured me, kept telling me he was right there and nothing would change. So folks, you can imagine the constant banter playing in my head. The boy without a doubt broke my heart in ways I never thought he could. In the wise words of Adam Levine “you can’t expect me to be fine, I don’t expect you to care,” you know why? Because, love is like cancer, it comes out of the blue and kills you – morbid representation of love right?  But think about it, can you deny it?

I know my worth now – I think? He disappointed a person that believed in him, his abilities, his heart and his incredible future, someone who would always stand by him. Not that that would matter to him – or would it? I really don’t know anymore. “We don’t talk anymore like we used to” but because I’m an emotional idiot, I’m still always there for him and he knows that but he’ll never know, understand or appreciate what it takes for me to be the way I am. I repeat: I’m an emotional idiot, I know you can see that now, am I crazy though? Will I ever change? Maybe I could add a poll at the end of this for you guys to vote.

I know I’m asking a lot of questions, you probably even have answers too. You’re lucky if you do. My mind might be compartmentalized, but it’s filled with questions. Questions that have made me overthink every possible thing. It’s a disease, I need help but the trust issues really don’t make curing this any easier.

Not to mention the knives sticking out of my back. Initially I thought they weren’t visible to the naked eye, only those who felt could see, kind of like the Thestrals. Recently, it seems like everyone and anyone can see. Maybe I did something to make them more pronounced? Or maybe I simply couldn’t hide it anymore.

Love takes many forms. Love isn’t just between a girl and a boy, or a parent and a child. It’s the feeling that grows when moments bind people together. Friends have innumerable moments, inside jokes and so many secrets, so much to stitch the most beautiful and fragile love there is. Losing that is like losing a part of your soul – like the feeling Voldemort gets when Harry destroys a Horcrux. The void is unexplainably large.

Life’s given me incredible friends. Not just the “bosom buddies” but other than them. There are two idiots who are the only ones calling me right now, over and over again, worried sick because I haven’t been keeping in touch; ‘Code red’ they call it.  Then there’s the guy who’s my 911 any time of any day and the other one who literally drops everything the second I need ‘saving’. These people have kept me sane, kept me together.

Everything in this world needs to be balanced, equations, laws in physics – so obviously everything in the friend department couldn’t have all been good. It’s time to step out of the light and enter the darkness. There are people in life who are just plain toxic, who just cannot do anything to let go of their poisonous ways. I trusted a girl like that, gave her a second chance but she started lying to me. To end the facade I had to take drastic measures to untangle myself and the people I cared about from her web of lies. She’s ones of the only friends to date that I have properly cut off from. I trusted her and she lied about everything.

To balance this toxicity, I have friends who have seen hell just for befriending me, who have dealt with the inability to contact me but yet despite it all, still stand by me in ways the people around me never can.

People are very confusing creatures, I wonder if you’ve ever come across a person or people who you think care about you but in their care screw things up for you. They think they know what’s best for you but never bother asking whether what they think is right – is actually right. Their heart seems to be in the right place but man do they confuse you. It’s around people like these that I’ve seen myself become an inferior version of myself, justifying every word said or action taken. It’s crippling, it kills your self esteem. Once you put your foot down, the ones that still stick around and stop their suffocating ways are the keepers because you then know for sure that they were indeed doing what they did out of love and care.

It’s funny, sitting here in the middle of nowhere, writing all of this for possibly strangers or just myself, is giving me a new perspective on everything that was holding me back. The feeling is invigorating. I’m like a wounded bird that just got the ability to fly again. The sense of freedom is inexplainable. I still don’t have the answers for all the questions I’ve voiced and not voiced, nor do I have anything that I expected I would or should have. I’m still sitting in a beat up car in the middle of nowhere but “for the first time in forever” I’m not scared. I’m not afraid of what has already happened, what is happening or what’s going to happen. I’ll make the most of what I have and embrace the adventure. So whoever you are reading this right now, congratulations you found my car – you can keep it – I hope my words resonated with you. I’m leaving this notebook on the steering wheel as a metaphor – this story has given me the vigor I needed to steer my life back in the direction I need it to be. I’m leaving behind the person I don’t want to be and walking into the golden sunset in search of the path that will take me home.

-Lots of Love

Ariana Fisher

 

 

 

Advertisements

Chicken Soup at the Bar

I still couldn’t see how this was a source of enjoyment for people: a hazy, stuffy room full of booze, loud music and a thousand strangers, where was the fun in that?  Irritated I placed the glass of Coke back on the bar table and started to scan the room. There was no sign of any of them, they ditched me – again. I sighed and pulled out my wallet getting ready to pay and leave. That exact moment my neighboring stool was occupied. Hosting a wild mane of hair and a huge grin she banged her hand on the table trying to get the bartender’s attention, he looked at her, smiled and nodded. She was alone, no sign of any girlfriends or a boyfriend. I couldn’t help but stare, there was something peculiar about her. To prove my point, the bartender walked up to her stool at that very minute and handed her a plate full of limes. “You’re going to get me in trouble for this one day,” he smiled at her as she picked up a slice, “how much trouble could you possibly get into?” She raised her eyebrow at him. He shook his head and walked away. She bit into the lime and made an awful face, then she picked another and did the same.

I didn’t realize how obviously I was staring until she turned to me and said “it’s ok, you won’t understand, don’t torture yourself,” and went back to the limes. Taken aback I instantly started rambling “oh I’m so sorry, I didn’t mean to stare but I was just trying to place you, I think we’ve met before.” She gave a loud sarcastic laugh “you’re going to have to come up with something more original pal,”

That was embarrassing, I really wasn’t flirting I was pretty sure we’d met before but after that burn I wasn’t going to try to defend myself and make things worse, so I just looked away. She started laughing again “relax, I’m only kidding. You’re Diya’s friend, we met at Sarim’s house.” I vaguely remembered that day, my idiot friends had spiked my drink. “Yes! I remember, you were the only one sober and actually dancing,” I piped. She grinned nodding “yup, that was moi,” and did a little hair flip.

“Yo! you’re on in 5 minutes,” the bar tender shouted out to her from across the bar. She waved him off and turned to look at me again “So will your name come with another cheesy pick up line, or have you given up already?”

I don’t know why I laughed but I did before I replied “hey I’m not that guy, the name is Sam.”

“Wow another desi embracing a western name, tsk tsk how disappointing,” she shook her head playing with the lime carcasses. “I resent that, my name is Shameer and people have called me Sam since I was 2, what about you huh? I don’t remember your name being Umrao Jaan.”

“Anaya. No one is allowed to shorten it to Anne or Annie or any other slightly westernized name. I am who I am and my name defines it,” she said matter-of-factly. Her tone was like those staunch political figure supporters – all determined and firm. There was something about that presence that both irked and intrigued me, I could sense a story but did I really want to uncover it?

“ANAYA FOR GOD’S SAKE GET YOUR ARSE ON THAT STAGE!” The bar tender yelled in a thick British accent. She rolled her eyes, shrieked “alright” back at him and jumped up. “Well Sam, this was certainly bizarre yet oddly interesting,” she announced before disappearing into the crowd. My gaze was locked on her empty bar stool flabbergasted at the air of craziness she spread.

The room was suddenly applauding and hooting, people were pushing and shoving their way to the stage as the spotlight fixated itself on Anaya. So she sings and dances I thought, must be a groupie or wannabe superstar or something. But there was nothing but a single microphone and stool on that stage. My mind instantly thought If she starts reciting poetry I’ll throw the limes at her – how disappointing would that be.

“Ahh so most of you remember me,” she smiled “Tonight will be fun then. For all you first timers my name is Anaya Hassan and I am a storyteller. People prefer to use weird words like life coach and counselor but I think storyteller fits me more. My nephew likes to call me the ‘people fixer’ but my sister greatly disagrees – ‘if she fixed people, she’d fix someone up for herself.’ You all must be thinking why I’m doing this in a bar, why must you hear my pathetic story and subliminal techniques of motivation while you’re just trying to enjoy a nice neat whiskey. Well, funny thing there’s a story behind this too.  You see that surly, crew cut boy with the obvious abs and fabulous dishrag on his shoulder, that is Jared, owner of this great place and one of my best friends.”

“Stupid arse,” Jared whispered, I didn’t realize he was leaning on the table right in front of me, listening to her intently.

“He’s going to hate me for this but before he owned this place we used to drop by here in our collegiate lives every other week to sit around and judge people.” The crowd laughed and Jared smacked his head with his hand muttering ‘here we go.’

“I was yapping on and on about something or the other because it’s the only thing I’m remotely good at and he gets annoyed, slams his coke on the table and yells” (she tried to deepen her voice for effect) “‘why must I be the only one to bear your nonsensical theories and perceptions of the world? If you feel so strongly about these things and you believe your thought process is bloody exceptional, get up on that table and share them with the world.’ and guess what, I got a standing ovation that night. Thus began this tradition – or should I say my way of life. Once Jared bought the place , I was unstoppable because if you haven’t realized yet I drive him insane – it’s brilliant!” They made eye contact and Jared rolled his eyes before going back to wiping glasses with his ‘fabulous’ dishrag.

“It’s really great in today’s day and age to feel heard, understood because we really seem to be doing very little of that. I’m grateful that I’m able to do that as frequently as I do. If not through these talks then through my writing. Its the time of the texting mania, the communication technique that has no amalgamation of the emotions behind the words written which completely unhinges the context its written in. We’ve given people the permission to assume things – to assume how we’re feeling, to assume how we’re sounding and assumption my friends is the poison that ruins human interaction. My theory – the more you assume the less information you consume. For example, a couple of my friends at college and I got into this misunderstanding – Jared’s not a part of this story so don’t go hating on him – there was miscommunication and a lot of assumptions. Things were said, a lot unsaid all because we thought they said one thing and meant the opposite etc etc etc. This my friends is not healthy. The assumptions increased, the trust decreased, the gap quadrupled and a rock solid bond was reduced to dust. It doesn’t matter how I feel about them, they still don’t trust me the same way. It’s essential that you accept that no matter what you can never tell people how to live their lives, even parents’ today refrain from doing so, why? because we’ve become resentful. We start believing the people preaching are diminishing our individuality, they don’t understand us, they have some ulterior motives, they’re jealous – the reasons are innumerable.  But watching a friend making a stupid mistake silently is violating the friend code, so where do we stand? There are boundaries – there is asked for advice and uncalled for advice. The problem usually results from the latter, when we assume we know best and are the only person on the face of this planet who can  lead our friend in the right direction. People, you can never know what’s 100% right for a person because you are not standing there in those circumstances in that situation. But you know what you can always do? Be honest, share your experiences, talk but don’t impose. You never know your story could maybe even inspire someone somewhere. Please remember this, I cannot stress on this enough: friendship demands loyalty, it is built on trust and it remains in tact with acceptance. My best friend from college has an incredible heart, she is one of the few people who has upheld every friendship pillar exceptionally. Anyone in the world could come and tell her I said something about her or create a story about me or her and she would simply ask me about it to my face. She has faith that I would never lie to her and if the hearsay was true there had to be more to the story. She displayed true loyalty always – never discussing me with others – trust and acceptance – That’s saying something because trust me I’ve done some stupid things over the years! If you have to worry about your friendship faltering on a disagreement or on the basis of hearsay than my dears you were never friends. Fear of judgment and fear of abandonment are concepts foreign to friendship. It’s toxic if you start assuming scenarios and destroy whatever bond you have with your bare hands.”

“Let’s take another example everyone in this room would have had a crush on someone sometime in their lives – If you haven’t I’m sure your UFO will come to pick you up soon – we flirt, we drop hints sometimes they understand, reciprocate and we increase expectations and sometimes they don’t . Until you downright tell the person you like them, you’re assuming everything. Why live in that world? Why torture yourself like that? If you had the guts to like that person have the guts to admit it, what they do with that information is the same as in every other normal human conversation – their choice. If they reciprocate hooray you’ve won the lottery, struck gold even, but if they don’t at least you can stop wasting your time assuming and move on. Oh, another must remember point: never ever regret anything you do, you told him/her – super, that’s great; he/she listened to what you said and evaluated their response, totally acceptable; he/she did not feel the same way – no problem it happens you shall just remain friends; he/she begins to start treating you like you’re crap and like you’re totally beneath them – boo them, rise above and forget it – but don’t regret it because you got to see the real side to them, the one that was hiding behind that perfection portrait you’re brain had created. Just breathe, this too shall pass. That’s my mantra, because nothing my friends, good or bad lasts forever. You know what they say every song ends but that’s no reason to not enjoy the music.”

She paused for a second, her smile still in tact, looking down at her shoes gathering her thoughts. The crowd was patient, everyone was eager to hear what else she had to say. “You know all these years I tell people things that sometimes I need to hear or once needed to hear, I don’t want any of you to ever feel small or insignificant in front of those you love the most, nor do I recommend losing yourself in doing everything it takes to make other people happy. Despite what you have been made to believe you matter, you are important and you are not inferior. I’m an expressive person, not everyone is but that also means I’m super sensitive, minuscule things hurt me. There are people who know how much they mean to you and they exploit it. You do whatever it takes to make them feel special and cared for but they do absolutely nothing to make you feel the same way. On the contrary, they take you for granted, use you as a scapegoat, bicker and soon enough they develop an attitude with you. It’s soul crushing. Just like watching the guy/girl you like with the guy/girl they like and encouraging every fiber of your existence to be happy for him/her. The haunting feeling of rejection must not be allowed to linger, you must force yourself to remove yourself of that funk, it must be diminished. we’re constantly searching for perfection or at least our version of it, but sweetheart you don’t love someone till you know they have flaws, you accept it and you love them anyways. When you encourage or force someone to change you do not love them but your version of them. People have the ability to hurt you in ways you cannot fathom. Remember it’s the ones closest to you that hurt you the most because it is from them you expect it the least. When I think about pain I’ve been caused I remember a horrid sleepover, a betrayal from a friend, the disappointment in my parents eyes, a horribly awkward conversation on a staircase, the hallowed halls of my alma mater, the death of a friend and endless pointless arguments.”

The more she spoke the more mysterious she became. I wanted to hear these stories, I wanted to know more but not because I suddenly fell in love with this girl, but quite the opposite. The aura of ingenuity, trust and loyalty she radiated made me realize how desperate I was for a real friend like that. She was someone I knew I could befriend  and not regret. It felt as if the world had dealt her the crappiest cards on life’s poker table just like it had for me. But instead of demanding a reshuffle, she was enjoying the rest of the game.

“There are a few people in your lives who really effect your thinking, whose opinions matter to you, fortunately or unfortunately they have the greatest power to hurt you because they mean more to you than anyone else, therefore what they say to you really bothers you. Except my parents, everyone I’ve given a spot there has broken my heart into tiny pieces and I haven’t allowed many there for this very reason. I think what hurts is that they know they’re there yet they say things they know will upset you. When the little voice in your head says how would they know they upset you, tell it to go take a hike since it’s constantly going on about how you hurt someone saying that comment you said a few days ago. We all have that voice in our heads. If they choose to ignore it, they never cared about you in the first place. It’s time you stopped making excuses for them and gave your heart a break. These things are hard to hear, hard to accept but trust me remind yourselves of this, these are things I’ve learned the hard way. I’ve wasted too many tears on people who did not deserve them and I do not want any of you to sit around doing the same thing. Always hope for the best, but don’t expect the hope to be a seed germinating into your heart’s desire. Be realistic without losing sight of the good in the world, the positive possibilities. You can do what you put your mind to and you deserve whatever makes you happy. On that note I’ll leave you with one of my favorite quotes  ‘People get lost when they think of happiness as a destination. We’re always thinking that someday we’ll be happy, you know, we’ll get that car, or that job, or that person in our lives that will “fix” everything. But happiness is a mood, and it’s a condition, not a destination. It’s like being tired, or hungry… it’s not permanent. It comes and goes, and that’s okay. And I feel like if people thought of it that way, they’d find happiness a lot more often.’ Find your happiness, embrace the light before we become the generation engulfed by darkness – Just breathe, this too shall pass.”

She smiled at the end and gave a tiny bow, the crowd went wild. People were on their feet, jumping up and down, clapping as hard as they could, chanting things like ‘people fixer’ ‘Anaya the Amazing.’ She gave a flying kiss to the audience and become one with the darkness around her spotlight, nowhere to be seen. I waited for the crowd to thin but kept my eyes at the door ensuring I wouldn’t miss her if she tried to leave. I hoped I could ask Jared some questions but he wasn’t behind the counter anymore, there was another bar tender there – when did that happen? I called substitute bar tender and hesitantly asked “do you know where Anaya went?”

“She always  leaves from the back way after a talk,” he answered casually. “Do you know any way I could contact her?” I asked hopeful. “No, Jared would but he left in between the talk for some family thing.”

Damn it! There had to be some other way “She said she held these talks regularly, they’re tradition, do you know when the next talk is?”

“Anaya decides a day before and the regular customers who have membership cards get a heads up, its word of mouth or a game of chance for non members ,’ he smiled sensing my eagerness.

This mystique was edging me to find out more. It sounded like the world had let her down, really disappointed her and I understood that all too well. I was homesick and missed all my friends back home. She was real and a breath of fresh air. Her outlook on life was inspiring, the sort of energy I needed in my life right now especially in the weird phase I’m in. If only Sarim and Divya hadn’t broken up in such an uncivilized manner, it would’ve been a piece of cake meeting her through them. Sigh, fate I guess.

“Sign me up for membership too please, I’ll be looking forward to the next talk,” I handed him my ID all set to become a member of a bar – my mom would be ecstatic when word got back home.

This mystery will be solved, Anaya Hassan we will meet again and soon.

Unhinged Realities and Unfortunate Expectations.

 The deafening silence was broken by his exasperated sigh. It was the kind of day where you were done with the world and it’s impatient, judgmental people. “They look at me and see the me they want to see,” he whispered to the silence taking a long drag from the burning cigarette in his hand. “No one will see you like I do,” his reflection replied. He stared harder at the mirror before him and gave a bitter laugh “and they call me narcissistic for believing that.” His smile was sarcastic. “Even if someone does see through the facade, how can I believe they would be strong enough to stand by what they see?  I can’t control what people think but I can control how close they can get to understanding me. I refuse to hand over my reality  and my emotions to someone else so they have a hold over me. I can’t create weaknesses. I don’t need anyone else, they need me,” he thought aloud. He took another drag and stared up at the ceiling hanging on to the words he’d just uttered. “Look at me, what do you see?” The man in the mirror asked. “The real person they refuse to believe exists” he answered without looking. “There’s a man of many talents, with a misunderstood heart and an underestimated mind. Eyes that wander, keeping the doors of the soul locked. A human, like any other, but extraordinary at numerous levels” the reflection reflected. “You’re opinion doesn’t count, it’s biased,” he laughed out smoke and turned to see his reflection laughing with him. “Life is like a song – the pitch changes according to the melody. I’m adamant to ensure the composition of mine is balanced and not auto-tuned.” he smiled a sad smile and exhaled the smoke of his troubles away, preparing for another day of the same, unhinging reality.
                                                                               ~.~.~.~
Music had lost its ecstasy, the fiction writers had lost their fixation and people had lost her trust. She lay in bed, mind overflowing with the thoughts of a woman on the verge of collapse. She stared at the white ceiling hoping to see beyond the paint, bricks and cement. The chains she threw around the arising emotional conflicts broke, unable to tame them. “When will I start enjoying my own company?!” she exclaimed in frustration. “Ok me, lets have it, ambush me with your degrading questions,” she thought out loud. Instantly the demons awoke, all set to pounce. “You can never be like the other girls, you’ll never be worth it, you were made to be emotionally exploited – your heart was created to be broken,” whispered the demon of insecurity formulating out of the darkness. “That’s what makes me different – I’m not like the other girls, my heart makes other people’s lives better – so what if I have to endure a little pain it’s worth it in the end” she defended herself. The empty room erupted into laughter and the sinking feeling in her stomach started to grow. “You? Making lives better? Don’t you get it, they’ll all be better off without you, no one is irreplaceable,” fear chuckled. She shook her head hoping these words wouldn’t take refuge in her mind. “Who said happiness awaits? This is the best you’re going to get, now watch it slip away,” piped in uncertainty. The demons were clearly having a ball, circulating her mind giving her their worst. Then came the evil of all evils, expectation. “Funny isn’t it? The pain of crushed hope, the destruction of optimism? You really started to think those people cared? That they had made a special place in their hearts for you?” He gave a loud sarcastic laugh “whoever comes close to you realizes what a waste of time you are and starts to pull away. Yet you still expect someone will suddenly love you more than anyone else? How stupid are you?” She wasn’t stupid, she thrived on hope –  hope that was being murdered by the hands of expectation and fear. “When will you learn stupid girl that you’ll always unintentionally expect things from people and break your own heart. You make it all too easy, what with always looking at the best in people and thinking they’ll do the same for you? They’ll believe your honesty, trust your loyalty and appreciate your friendship? Naive stupid girl.” She burst into tears as expectation gaffawed in satisfaction. Curled up into a ball, she cried her eyes out unable to fight off his control. The fear of living had taken its toll, she had been destroyed by the hands of unfortunate expectations.

Journey to Destiny

I used to believe I was very aware of my surroundings. The same to-do list, the same locations under the same sky everyday. My routine was set – simple and redundant. The sun was shining bright on a regular Wednesday morning. I was sitting on my bench waiting for the bus I took everyday. My nose was buried in my favourite book while the breeze played around with the pages. The regulars passed and we exchanged pleasantries, insignificant and extremely artificial, as always. The sidewalk started to fill with the usual bus travelers all gathered to get to the same destination. I couldn’t help but get distracted by that thought. All these people waiting for the same bus to go to the same place. So many walks of life, joining at a single point to embark on the same journey. The depth and emensity of this thought stretched farther than that of the mysterious sky. So much unknown so much uncertain. Surpassing the chill of such thoughts, the bus arrived on schedule, as always. I got up, bookmarked my book and took my place in line. Somedays, I would be right in front, others right at the end. That was the only unforeseen event of the day. But today something different happened – I tripped. The contents of my bag spilled all over the sidewalk. Carefully gathering my belongings from around the feet of others, I fixed myself and walked towards the bus doors. The man in front of me climbed in and the doors closed before me. I stared at the driver slightly betrayed, as he accelerated the bus ahead.

 I had never missed that bus, what was I going to do now? I looked around me and nothing looked the same. I had never been in this spot, at this time ever before, I didn’t know what happened next – I had no control. Was there another bus that passed through here? Should I wait or turn back? Was there someone I could turn to for help? The uncertainty was heightening and the confusion increasing. What was happening?
The sound of an engine was coming closer. I turned to the left and saw another bus materialize from around the turn. It looked like the bus I had missed but there was something different. It was more pronounced, more noticeable, like it demanded your attention. The bus stopped in front of me and the doors flew wide open. The driver looked tall and extremely lean. “You don’t seem like a regular, you must be one of the ‘bus-missers'” he smirked. I looked right and looked left. There was no one else around, this bus couldn’t have been scheduled. My attention went to the steering wheel, there was no GPS like in my usual bus. The driver clearly didn’t follow any of the extra rules and regulations. Was this bus trustworthy? 

“Miss?” He stared at me. Startled, I realized he was waiting for an answer. “Umm yes, I don’t know what happened, I somehow missed my usual bus.” 

“No surprise there, I’ve never seen you before – I don’t forget faces. Where you headed?” 

I looked inside the bus, it was pretty much empty, but most of the seats were occupied by females. There were a couple of men scattered here and there, some obvious couples but nonetheless it was pretty much empty. 

 “450 Serra Mall,” I answered. He grinned and looked behind at his passengers. 

“Well ma’am, that’s not an official stop but that’s where I’m heading myself. I’ll drop the rest and get you there, hop on,” he ushered me in. My brain began hyper analyzing options. I looked around again and seeing no harm hopped on. I sat in the second row behind a young shy couple that secretly stole glances at each other time and time again. 

The people were generally friendly and well spirited except for a few that occupied the back row. I chose to ignore them. The chirpy girls got up after a few intervals to speak to the driver. It wasn’t anything like my ordinary bus ride. Soon the sun disappeared behind angry grey clouds and  it  started to rain  fast and hard. 

The bus emptied as we drove on, a few passengers joined for a stop or two but the bus never filled to capacity, the same seats were recycled. Soon it was just me and the group in the back I had decided to ignore. 

“How much longer?” I called out to the driver. 

“We’re heading to your stop now.”

“Didn’t you say you’ll drop all the other passengers first since this isn’t an official stop?” I asked confused.

“That’s what I did,” he turned giving me a weird look.

“No there are still passengers in the back!” I gasped thinking he hadn’t noticed.

He laughed a slightly painful, slightly evil laugh. “Those in the back? They come and go as they please. Just ignore them.”

This day was getting absolutely bizarre. How did I even get here? I thought to myself.  

“You alright miss? You look like you’ve seen a ghost?” The driver called out.

Startled I looked up and shook my head “no no, everything is fine. I was just surprised at the weather and the randomness of this day.”

He smiled. “Look closely through the rain. Only then can you see the rainbow. Sometimes you set out on the same journey with a particular set of people because they are to be a part of your destiny or you are to be a part of theirs.”

His words took me by surprise. I sat in silence absorbing the depth of what he had just said. Maybe uncertainty wasn’t to be feared, it was to be marveled at. The element of surprise did create the most beautiful and worthwhile memories. I took a deep breath and smiled. Maybe this different, unexpected journey was some sort of an infinite destiny.

 

Murder, she spoke.

“Forgive me Father, for I have sinned.”
It was barely audible, but nonetheless I’d said it. I needed to go on and just say it all. But I was ashamed. That’s when the sobbing began. 
“Go on child, just let it out,” a deep voice startled me. It initially felt like the wall was impermeable to sound. 
Slightly spooked, I wiped my tears and took a deep breath. “I’m a murderer,” I confessed. That’s when the elephant walked in. The priest’s gasp was loud and unhinging. How was I supposed to keep going?”
Moments later he whispered “Dear child, who – who did you kill?”
“Myself,” I sobbed.
You could hear the confusion clouding his brain.
“I don’t quite follow, do you mean you tried to take your own life?” 
I shook my head as the tears fell fast and hard. “I killed myself, the real me, I’ve become a person I never was and never wanted to be. I was led astray. Everyday I look at myself in the mirror and try to find the person I used to be. It’s not like she’s hiding in a closet just waiting to be summoned. She’s slowly conformed, become a part of the people around her. Influenced by what they thought was right. But they didn’t smother her with a pillow every night or let her drown in her tears, that was me. I could feel her slowly leave me and I did nothing to stop it. I’ve lost faith in humanity and the concept of good people. The world is cruel and unfair is a very cliched concept, one I don’t want to believe in. Yet every time I look at someone I fear -” I stopped.
This was getting too personal and going off topic. He did not need to know the piles of insecurities and airport carousel worth of baggage I carried. I needed to explain my point through other means.
“The last year has been about change and loss. Loss in the hands of God and loss in the hands of people. I didn’t realize how I was making everything worse by not connecting with the rainbow of emotions the turmoil had brought out. I let it spread like a cancer bringing on my own destruction. So I sit here now hollow, void and incomplete. Missing the vital bit that made me, me and there’s no one to blame but me. I’m a murderer.” 
The priest tried to formulate words but he was awestruck. 
He took a deep breath and gave it his best shot “Dear one, clearly the person you claim you have lost for good is still there. You have come to this realization all on your own. Your heart is pure, your intentions good. You have not murdered, verily you have caused a mild concussion. Now that the dizziness has stopped and heaviness subsided, you’ll find the real you right where she always was.”
“That me was too nice for my own good. This me is guilty of a lot of bad. Clearly,  I live in extremes” I sarcastically chuckled.
He gave a pity giggle before continuing “for once look at the mirror and really look at yourself. Appreciate every pigment, curve – all of it. Embrace the reality of your inner and outer beauty because remember child – this too shall pass.”
In that moment, I took my leave.  I found the words that pushed me forward everytime my legs gave way:”This too shall pass.”

Denial

It was more than just discomfort now, she needed to see the doctor fast. Ignoring the other people waiting before her, she barged in. “Doc, the pain is unbearable I can’t wait anymore,” the doctor looked at his current patient and then looked at her “what seems to be the problem?”

She took a deep breath and tried to explain. “It started as a little pinch a few months ago, I couldn’t understand why so I turned to a friend. We spent a long time trying to figure it out. She even massaged the area that was hurting. But slowly the pain started to increase. I complained about the growing pain but soon that friend disappeared. So I turned to another one. The same thing happened and soon she disappeared too. This series of events repeated itself a couple of times till it reached this stage. I can barely walk, the pain is so immense. I don’t know what to do, doc would you have a look?”

He nodded and waved her in. It was when she turned to close the door did he see the protruding plastic. The patient in the room gasped. She turned to look at him but couldn’t understand the reason for his exclamation of shock. The doctor shook his head at the patient and returned his attention to her. 

“My dear, your friends seem to have been so helpful. Surely a sweet girl as yourself gave them something in return for their kindness?”

She smiled, “I gave them the only thing that I could, a little piece of my heart.” 

There was silence. The doctor looked at her fondly and asked “as priceless as your heart is, it holds little value in the real world. Do you realize that?” 

She looked down and sighed “but it’s all I have to give.”

He walked towards her and pulled on one of the numerous plastic handles sticking out of her back. She yelped in pain. “You gave your heart to those who left a knife in return. My dear each person you turned to stabbed you once in the back.” 

The doctor held out the knife for her to see, but she shook her head in denial. “That’s impossible, there has to be another logical explanation for this! They would never do this to me.” 

He pulled out another and again she shrieked in pain. “Can you count the number of people you turned to?”

“Five,” she answered after a brief moment of thought.

Again the doctor pulled out a knife and he did so two more times. Once she had stopped screaming, the doctor lay the five knives before her. 

“One from each friend,” he whispered. 

Acceptance

Reality.
You can’t find it in articles, on Google or in the words of those you care about. Reality is the pain you feel. The gut wrenching feeling you get when you wake up in the morning. 
It’s looking at yourself in the mirror and wondering -evaluating whether the decisions you’re making or the things you’re doing are right. When you suck your stomach in thinking you look fat, wear the world’s biggest smile to hide your tears and hug your pillow at night looking for compassion; trying to fill the unkown void; looking for something to fight the misery and loneliness you can’t help but feel. Loving someone who doesnt love you back, losing someone closest to you, being stabbed in the back multiple times: that’s reality. 

Reality must be accepted for what it truly is: real. The thoughts you push away in shame, the feelings you surpass out of fear, they’re all real, they all exist. The truth you convince yourself you aren’t a part of – it exists. No matter how much you deny it, they’re real. We look around ourselves and point fingers, casually singling out others as frauds. The truth is we’re all two faced. We all have a side that surfaces when we are alone. The parts that make us vulnerable. No one is as carefree as they think they are. We are all prisoners of our mind and our thoughts. The insecurities, the complexes and the innumerable heartbreaks are the essence of our existence. Those tears, those fits of rage and those bouts of strength build the backbone of our character. 

You know how you would give up anything to stop feeling alone, guess what? So would the person next to you, or in the other room, or in the other building and so on and so forth. We live in a world full of people yet we all feel alone. This is our reality. This is humankind. This is what we are, who we are. The truth is , the backstory behind freedom of speech, women’s rights etc is nothing but guilt. We don’t know how, or rather we’ve forgotten how to be human. Benefits, money, material goods; the never ending greed and competition, it’s all brought us here. Brought us right here where we’re standing today. The hearts we broke, the dreams we crushed and the hopes we discouraged all have left us with the pain we feel right now. That is reality. Happiness isn’t a destination. You can’t take a bus there. Happiness is making peace with yourself, your thoughts and accepting the truth – accepting  your reality.

It was the perfect balcony, one that overlooked the sea.
Every night, at the same time she would stand there leaning on the railing and staring out into the distance, searching. Hoping, that maybe somewhere in the darkness a hint of light would appear.

The sea breeze would tickle her bare arms but it never distracted her. The cold wasn’t far, however that wasn’t going to change anything. Below, the strip of sand was a reminder of the awful night they said goodbye. “I’ll wait for you” she said to him, knowing that the date and time of his return was unknown. He looked into her eyes and knew, knew that she meant every word. He took her hands in his trying to find the right way to express the mess of emotions building up within him. He kept searching her eyes, there was so much love in them it was overwhelming. He couldn’t find the words, so he took her face in his hands and kissed her forehead. With that he turned around and walked towards the boat he was supposed to depart in. The motor kicked to life and slowly the boat began to descend.

She ran towards the edge of the pier and yelled “I’ll wait for you” waving her hand frantically.

The wind carried the sound of her frantic, desperate voice – a slight echo still audible, if you listened close enough.

Awaking from this haunting memory, she turned her attention towards the sky, wondering if they still shared the same stars; hoping he still remembered her. Disappointedly, she gazed out at the calm sea wishing that tonight the wait would be over. Darkness had swallowed the entire city, there was no sign of light anywhere. There were no boats, no ships and no people making waves in this sea tonight.

“Another night then”, she thought as the wind blew the sound of her ancient screams through her ears. She turned and walked back inside, “I’ll keep waiting for you,” she whispered, as hopeful as ever.

Self Portrait

I know who I’m standing here for. 
It doesn’t matter that the sea I stand in has different faces everyday. I attract the ones I want to attract, the ones whose eyes light up when they see me standing on the corner of the street. There are some who get the spark watching the silver joints move around mechanically, doing everything like a robot. Fulfilling their every challenge. Then there are those that see an art, something special through all the silver. Who don’t just smile to see if it’s reflected back, but because they spotted the person I am on the inside. Those are the people that keep this show going. I can bare the noise of all the honking cars around me, deal with the obnoxious children telling me “I stink”, accept the loose change they throw at me – for those who truly care. 
The routine becomes monotonous, the same performance each and everyday. I try to change it as much as I can, but as confined as I am, it’s pretty difficult. However, the food’s great. Every corner has a great place to eat and that is one thing that I greatly enjoy. The food, the music and the socializing people. In the rush of the corporate lunch breakers and the students I don’t feel alienated, I just mesh in with the crowd. No one cared what I was wearing, saying or even ordering. Of course, there are always on average one or two people who stare, but that’s inevitable. At times I sit at one of my favorite quiet spots and write about my experiences, hoping it could help someone not become like me. To avoid my mistakes. To learn what not to do and what definitely not to do.
It sounds lonely but honestly it’s not. This world is too big for me to be the only freak, there are a few more and of course since we have that strong trait in common we’re the best of friends. Although we’re busy making our place on the streets, we try to take time out for each other, to talk about the ways we survive. Over the years the bonds we’ve formed are quite strong. Our stage might be miles apart and our performances slightly different, but we could never forget one another.
As for the fans, there’s there only few who return everyday, who believe in my every ability. The people who stand by me. The people who see beauty in the differences that make me stand out. It is because of them I stand before the unknown showcasing what I was once ashamed of – myself. I recently got the ability to see that even though my robot suit is cramped and worried with work, it’s my key asset. It defines me, explains who I am and who I am is the robot man, a show performer on a stage that is life. 

Metamorphosis 

People say the woods are scary, I hear them whispering about it when they’re passing through. I never understood why, maybe it was because they didn’t know it as well as I thought I did. It was the only place I’ve ever called home. My daddy brought us to this part of the forest when the elder called for our species to grow. They used a very hard word, something like extension or extinction – mommy said he meant us deers were dying out. So I left my friends behind and followed my parents all the way here.

It seemed we were the only deers here, until my daddy went looking one day and came back with a few females. I didn’t like them, they made my mommy make angry and sad faces all day.
One day the three of us decided to search for something extra yummy to eat. I was so happy, jumping and racing both of them, chasing butterflies. Sometime mid dinner, daddy got up to check on something and didn’t come back. When mommy and I went back home, the female deers were whispering about him running away with someone. I really didn’t like them, I wish the elder hadn’t ordered daddy to find them. Mommy didn’t talk to me that night, she was very sad. She sat by the pond all day. I missed my friends, with daddy gone there was no one to play with here.
Days passed, daddy didn’t come back. Mommy tried very hard to play with me but it just wasn’t the same. After daddy, mommy was in charge, she went to search for more deers just like daddy used to. When she would be gone, she would tell me what to look after here. I felt so grown up, finally being considered a deer just like everyone else.

As time went by, I grew. I understood things better, met different creatures and animals, some I wish I hadn’t. One night, I accompanied mother on her expedition to herd more deers from other forests but this time we faced an unexpected surprise. He came out of nowhere, with big antlers and a mean, vicious face. He had captured her and there was nothing I could do. My antlers weren’t anywhere as big as his. So just like that my mom was gone.

I walked alone that night for the first time. The darkness was daunting, the sounds terrifying. I was alone, a lonely underage deer with no idea what purpose or existence meant. I stopped in my tracks and tried, tried to find an answer. But I was clueless, I couldn’t recall a single conversation with anyone about what to do when something like this happened.

This was it, this was what those people meant about the woods being scary.