Excerpts of Ricardo

Romance, Story

Chapter Four

Ricardo

I saw her on the first day of English Lit, she was sitting in the middle whilst I sat at the top row where nobody could see me, unless they were intentionally trying to seek me out. Her body was slouched and guarded as if she was trying to disappear, her body was frozen and still when Professor McCormick called out her name. Kalina is her name, I whispered her name in my mouth, played around with it, and emphasised the syllables, deciding that I liked her name, curious when she said that she didn’t know what she liked, and she wanted to be a poet, finding myself wanting to know more of her, enthralled by her. I was sitting on the bench near Washington Square Park when I saw her outside, she worn a smile which radiated her face, her body relaxed and happy as she talked to Micah, she was beautiful. I know of him, I see him all the time within the community, hanging out with Alejandro and Aphrodite. She was with Ezra and the three of them yesterday, she looked anxious and small around them, her eyes chaotically wondering everywhere and nowhere, her lips shaped in a thin line, arms crossed – a sign of discomfort. I saw her, she didn’t see me. Her long, black hair framed her face, her features were small and ethereal, her aura was mysterious. Seeing her again elicited a feeling of hope, but she didn’t see me not until now. Yet, that didn’t halt the pull of wanting to get closer to her and wanting to get to know her.

That moment when our eyes met, I knew she recognised me, that something foreign was happening to me when I felt nerves in my body and felt an unnamed emotion deep inside of me. There was no point though, there was no time for girls, I had to get my money, I had to get my life together. There were only two things in my life that mattered, and they were money and music. I didn’t have time for girls or feelings, I couldn’t, and I wouldn’t. I had a family I needed to take care of. Whatever it was, it meant nothing. Shit, maybe I need to have sex to get myself under control.

Chapter Six

“I can hear your music,” a deep voice said beside me, I scrunched my face in annoyance for coming in between my music. I paused the moment of Chester screaming in Lost in the Echo, as he stood on the side of the wall that I was leaning on. I was early for English Lit on the Friday morning, it was only me in the corridor until it wasn’t, it was the same nameless person that had piqued my interest. He smiled at me, my breath stopped momentarily at the sight, his eyes were crinkling, delving into his skin. The dimples deepened his cheeks which beautified his smile, enriching his face. I felt the warmth in my chest as his smile grew wider, I got caught staring which made me feel awkward and standoffish, “so, rock huh?” he began saying, the flutters inside my stomach intensified at the sound of his voice. His dark skin and kinky hair texture gleamed from the sunlight, enhancing his features. He was a beautiful boy, and he was smiling at me.

“Yeah, I like rock music, I like Linkin Park,” I said, my voice croaky in my ears, I cleared my throat and dipped my head down, the nerves amplified with each second passing by as we stood inches away from each other.

“That’s interesting, never have I thought you would like a genre so aggressive.”

“Hmm. So, you make music?” I asked changing the subject. He was quiet for a while, studying me, I felt his intense gaze in my stomach, and my heart was beating erratically, the sound of the rhythm drummed intensely in my ears.

“Yeah, I do,” he said slowly, trying to figure me out.

“I saw you in the event, you’re good,” I commented, speaking truthfully.

“Thank you, I saw you too. You want to be a writer?”

“Yeah, I do,” I repeated after him.

“That’s cool, are you going to the event?”

“Maybe, Aphrodite and the guys want me to go, I haven’t decided yet, I like spontaneity.”

“I’ll see you on Sunday, if you do end up choosing to come, say hi,” he said after a silent moment, leaving me stunned. I played our first interaction in my mind, releasing a smile from the memory, my body warm and fuzzy from his gaze and presence.

“All I need to know because that means the discussions, we will be having are going to be fairly easy. Kristen, I’ll start off with you, how do you define love and perceive the relationship between Romeo and Juliet? How does their family’s rivalry influence their love and romantic notions for each other?”

“Love is love, it doesn’t have a preference, ideals, concepts or social notions. Love is not something that can be controlled,” she ended, discussing, and evaluating the story in a three-minute discussion.

“Does anybody have anything to say against her discussions or add to it. Hmmm, I’m going to choose Ricardo. What do you think of love and the relationship between Romeo and Juliet?” I looked around the auditorium, trying to figure out who professor directed the question to, but I got nothing. Suddenly a voice bounded across the room, their gravelly, deep voice touched the base of my stomach.

“Love is freedom, love is liberation and harmony. Love can conquer all because it is an energy that vibrates with the purest essence of this life whether it is peace and joy, dreams, or hope, or a vessel used to detach ourselves from the ego. The depiction of love through Romeo and Juliet is that no matter how much hatred lives inside people, and where disharmony exists within the world, love can shine its light on the darkness and make you blossom, free you from the shackles of malevolent and poison of the humankind, and bind people through love, can bind humanity through love. The power of love, to feel that love sometimes you are willing to die with your love and for your love because there is no other, there is only truth and light in love,” there was a poignant silence infiltrating the space since his mouth opened. I felt the shock through my body, the curiosity that brimmed is now overfilling and consuming my body. Ricardo is his name and that just made him more interesting, it would be bad to say I never expected him to interpret the love tale like that but I am. He didn’t look at anyone since he started his perception of the story until he ended, when his eyes collided with mine and I felt like I could fly, my body felt light and heady, the longing for something I didn’t know of was weighing down my body.

Ricardo

I can see it in her eyes, the interest, and an emotion that I’m using my power to veil from her, I know the power of love, but that doesn’t mean I want to succumb or crumble in its will. I don’t want romanticism, and yet, I feel the pull of wanting to get closer, the drive reaching over my body, wanting to take me to her. What am I doing?

Chapter Seven

Ricardo

I strolled idly down the dark street, that one lamppost flickered its light for the whole street. A homeless man shouted after me for change, I brushed him off and carried on walking forward, watching my corners, turning my head behind me. One lone car speeded through the road, beeping, and calling out to a girl who had her head forward, eyes unblinking and body still and guarded, her hands on her pockets, walking breezily through the street. I shook my head at the misfortune of being a woman, it is only 10:00 pm at night, and woman are already being harassed on the street by low life men. I unlocked the front door and stepped inside the house, and it was hauntingly quiet. Father was out on his drunken stupor and Mother was lying down on the couch, no doubt waiting for him to come home. Not knowing why she bared him and continued the relationship even though there was no love in their marriage, it never helped anyone especially the children when the parent’s stay in a loveless marriage. “Hi mom, what are you doing here?” I asked her even though I know the reason, her face was forward towards the television, she was surfing the channels, but her eyes were elsewhere.

“I’m okay son, how was the event?” she returned, getting up on her elbows.

I leaned my shoulder on the doorway, crossing my legs together, and watched her flick through the channels, “it was fine. I found work I start work in a restaurant tomorrow so, I can help out.”

She looked at me briefly, before fixating on the television screen, her thin fingers staying on that one forward button, “that’s great news, are you sure? You don’t have to, and you need to focus on college, okay? Don’t get distracted by external factors, education is important, it’s the only way you can have a good life.”

“I won’t,” I reassured, “I love you.”

“I love you too,” I walked up the steps, the carpeted wood creaked loudly, the old paint in the railing pierced the skin beneath my hand. The distance was short from the stairs to my little sister’s bedroom. She was asleep when I peeked my head into her door, her bedroom was the only room that was put together and neat out of the entire house. I removed my shoes and tip toed to her bed, sat down for a moment, embracing the peace that comes with the silence. I closed my eyes and regretted it in an instant, her hair was blowing away from her face with the direction of the wind, her brown eyes illuminated from the dimly lit room, her form small and enticing, her brown colouring glowed and was luminous from the light, one small dimple deepening, her smile was beautiful and radiated her face, she’s an angel and I’m not worthy. It doesn’t matter what feelings or emotions get stirred up because of her, it doesn’t matter when my life isn’t the way that I want it to be. Nobody deserves to love a man that comes from a rough neighbourhood, a penniless man with a broken family. No point in loving a man who has pockets of dreams and still is so far away from where he wants to be.

“I love you, baby sister. I’ll give you the life that you deserve, the one that I didn’t have,” I promised, lying beside her, she moved for a moment and then stilled. A lone tear ran down the side of my face, coolness of the liquid wetting my skin. I’m sorry.

Chapter Thirteen

It happened in a slow motion, one moment we were talking, and the next moment I was on the floor, my butt prickling with pain, my palms burnt from the impact of the rocky ground. “Fuck, are you okay? Are you okay? Where are you hurt?” Ricardo frantically uttered, his words spewing all over the place.

“I’m okay, I’m okay,” I repeated, hoping he would hear me over his own voice. I lifted my palms to see the skin broken, scratched and red but thankfully, not bleeding, “see Ricardo, I’m okay.”

“Yo, the fuck was that? Can you not see where you are going you motherfucker?” He shouted, sprouted profanities at the passing man that wasn’t walking anymore. Ricardo stood up, striding toward him, “watch where you’re going, you hurt her,” he cussed, feeling tense at seeing his anger, his anger was rolling out of him.

“Who the fuck you think you’re talking to, what are you going to do, you little boy?” the man responded, shoving Ricardo’s shoulder, but he never slipped, he stood his ground, feeling a sensation at the pit of my stomach, Ricardo’s hands slammed against the man’s shoulder, roughly shoving him, the man lost his footing, the pit in my stomach intensified.

“Ricardo, Ricardo, I’m okay, see I’m standing up,” I hurried, rushing towards him, taking his arm to face me, “I’m okay, Ricardo, leave it alone,” I said, repeating the words over and over again.

“Watch where you’re going next time, you lucky she is here,” he darkly said, the man inched closer to Ricardo, bridging my body between them in an attempt to protect Ricardo. The stranger man stared blankly at him, then at me, shaking his head and then left. My stomach dipped at the sight of ruthlessness and aggression that was etched on the features of his face, his body tight and coiled, his intense energy was spreading and contagious.

“Come on Ricardo, leave it alone, I’m okay.” I didn’t know what feeling was inside of me, that sat inside of me, confused at whether that was anger, protection, or things to do with a male’s ego. “Why did you do that? You could have gotten hurt.”

“I don’t care, you were hurt,” he said in an instant, “are you okay, you hurt anywhere?”

I lifted my palms to his eye level, “just these, nothing ice or a packet of frozen vegetables can’t fix,” I laughed, trying to lighten the intense mood that had grown.

“You shouldn’t have seen me like that, are you okay?” he said, again.

“I’m okay,” I affirmed, “you were gonna get hurt,” I said, something akin to fear embedded within me.

“I don’t care, you got hurt,” he said as if those words meant nothing.

“Why did you do that? You should care about being hurt,” I emphasised, trying to understand the why of his response and actions.

“Kalina, you got hurt,” he said, his voice rising higher as if that made any sense and given a reason to go madman on someone.

“Ricardo, you could’ve gotten hurt, why would you do that?” I shouted as if that will help to get the words across to his face.

“You got hurt, Kalina. At the time, it made sense, I didn’t care about being hurt, because you got hurt,” he said as if I would understand. I don’t.

“But why would you want to get hurt for me?” I said, my voice getting lost towards the end, not getting any of it.

He came into my space, naturally I breathed him in, inhaling his scent. He cupped both sides of my face, he raised my head to his eye level, “Kalina, don’t you understand? I don’t want you to get hurt, I was hurting, seeing you hurt,” he slowly whispered, breaking down each word as if him saying it in a snail pace would make sense of anything that had happened.

“You were hurting because I was hurt so, you shouted and became aggressive to the person who hurt me?” I whispered, my mind repeated back his words, the emotions overpowering my senses. The liquid welled my eyes and streamed down my face, my breath coming out shorter, becoming harder to breath in oxygen, overwhelming me at the thought of his actions and why he did it. He did it because I was hurt, he defended me, he shouted at the man because I was hurt, he risked getting hurt because I was hurting, and he didn’t care about getting hurt. My eyes were blurry from the heavy set of tears, closing my eyes from the warmth of Ricardo’s fingers wiping each tear that had fallen from my eyes. “Why would you do that? I’m not worth that much, Ricardo,” my voice breaking in between words.

“You are worth it, you mean something to me, Kalina. You got hurt, seeing you like that, hurt me too, I don’t like nor want you to be hurt in any way.”

“Why would you do that though? You risked getting hurt.”

“I don’t care, Kalina, you are worthy to me, I would do it again, if I need to,” he said without hesitation. “I wasn’t exactly a good student in high school,” he added, a small smile shadowing his face.

“Ricardo,” I breathed, speechless, dazed, and confused, simply staring at him. He didn’t want me, he couldn’t, but he protected me, risked the chances of being hurt because of me, I felt lost, what did any of it mean? I drifted down his face, starting the journey at his forehead, moving to his eyes, such kind eyes, the ways he would look at me, those eyes gazed at me with acceptance. My eyes travelled down his cheeks, and those lips, the generosity of God’s work was prominent, but it’s not that, it’s the smile, so wide and wholesome and gave me so much life. My favourite was when he smiled whenever I did or said things in moments of dorkiness, it has given me so much pleasure and joy knowing I can do that. I didn’t even need to force the way I was around him. it came out naturally, the best part.

“I like you, Kalina, I can’t stop my feelings for you,” he whispered, somewhere deep inside of me believed those words.

I leaned my head on his shoulder on the train ride home, I found it sweet that he willingly dropped me off home, it was thoughtful, he was thoughtful, he was kind, accepting, funny, and beautiful. Universe must be playing with me because I didn’t deserve a boy like him, how did I get so lucky?

“Thank you, Ricardo,” I said.

“What for, Kalina?”

“For tonight, for everything,” I answered.

“Thank you, Kalina,” he repeated after me.

“What for, Ricardo?” imitating his words, both of us sharing a smile.

“For tonight, for everything,” the both of us laughing in unison.

“You gonna repeat everything I say?” I retorted lightly.

“Yeah,” he responded, like the last time.

“Shut up,” laughing at the same time, again. Ricardo’s raspy chuckle transformed into a deep, gravelly laugh echoing into the empty subway.

“Ricardo.”

“Hmm,” his eyes bored into mine, his smiley face staring at me.

“I like you,” I truth.

“Kalina.”

“Hmm.”

“I like you,” he said, I knew that there was truth in that statement. His arm wrapped around my shoulders, pulling me closer to his body, I drank in his presence, pushing my face into his chest. He was a beautiful boy and he liked me.

Chapter Fourteen

Ricardo

I took her hand in mine when we got out the subway, the crisp air was brisk, tickling my nose, tearing my eyes, and the condensation exhaled out of my mouth from the coolness. Revered by the sensations she provoked by her nearness and when our skin touched. Her tears, her being hurt and traumatised, the need to protect her even though I didn’t know what happened to her drove me up the wall, it wasn’t a curiousity, it was a burning flame of wanting to know everything about her. I didn’t need to think nor hesitate when it comes to keeping her safe, to protect her. I turned to look at her, her head arched up towards the sky, her skin glowed from the lit-up lamppost, her hair was blown away from her face, her face gave me a gentle smile, intaking a breath when the present resembled the same imagination I had when I was in my baby sister’s room. “You’re beautiful,” I whispered, saying it like it was the most natural thing. She smiled and I was content with her response, she came ahead of me, leading our locked fingers to the bench that sat two doors before her brownstone. I didn’t need her to tell me that she was well-off, or what her parents did when I found out where she lived. I didn’t care that she came from a family with money but when she did end up telling me the story of her father and her family, it made sense and all the more reasons to wait for her, to not be with her until I was able to stand on my two feet with success, taking care of my family and being able to be worthy of her. She doesn’t care where I came from, but it mattered to me, it mattered that my life was in shambles, and I’m not where I am in my life to be with a girl like her, she deserves the whole world, and I don’t have the whole world. Wait for me Kalina, wait for me.

Chapter Fifteen

Trigger warning: abuse, sexual assault.

Ricardo

“Hey Ricardo. Finish off with cleaning the tables, count the money in the till and then put the needed amount in. You can go home after, good job today,” my boss shouted as he went towards the back, to the kitchen.

“Thank you, sir,” I welcomed the silence, it was easy and peaceful. It was the calm before the storm, I embraced the serenity of being alone. My eyes closed and she appeared in my mind, her smile was wide, deepening the dent on her upper cheek, circles of small, small dimples dug on her smile lines, her eyes so bright that I could see the reflection of my face on her eyes, the dull ache within my chest had intensified. I didn’t know whether it was longing or the dilemma of my life. I miss her, I thought.

 

A loud bang resounded inside the house, it begun, and my body knew as the heaviness within my body provided me with company. “Stop it, please. I’m sorry, I’m so sorry, I’ll do anything,” the screams exploded across the house, the urge to escape was arduous.

“I hate you. I wish you were dead, slut,” he barked, my heart thudded laboriously against my chest, my head bowed down, internalising the shame I felt for my father. If hate was truly a feeling, then it was a sensation I felt for him. He thought I wasn’t here, he thought I didn’t know. But I did, I knew, I saw, I heard, and I felt, and I hated him for it.

It is a man’s job to provide, to love, and to show love, to be good to his wife and children but he was neither. He wasn’t a husband nor a father, he wasn’t a provider nor a saviour. He was a shell of a man. My mother was still whilst he screeched words at her, “I can’t wait to be inside of you, you don’t deserve nothing but terror,” he slurred, the alcohol in his system heightened his anger, a serum displaying his truth, of what he was truly made of.

“Please, Mark, please,” Mother pleaded. I wiped away the lone tear that escaped my eye, and walked into the room, intaking a large gulp of oxygen at the scene in front of me. God, did I hate him.

“What are you doing?” I said, intentional to not show the emotions coming to life beneath my skin. He looked at me, his eyes clearing the darkness that had consumed him. It was as if he was another man, as if he never realised the damage he does. He watched me, a look on his face, a face of shame, his secrets of terror he thought he hid so well was in full display.

“Nothing, I’m doing nothing son,” he voiced with loss, revolted by that word. At that moment Mother made a sound, her shoulders hunched down, and her knees and curls concealed her face. It didn’t matter because I already saw the blood, bruised up nose, eyes, and darkened cheeks.

“What are you doing?” I repeated, trying to wipe away the image of the front room from my brain.

“Nothing, I did nothing,” he returned, his eyes droopy, his pot belly protruded and his face wrinkled.

“My son, help me out,” Mother whispered, wincing with every move, clutching her night dress, her palm flat against her ribs. A surge of anger cursed through my veins but, I couldn’t react, Mother wouldn’t like it. It’s my fault, I should forget about working, and stay home so, nothing happens to anybody especially, Mother. Mark never touched me or my baby sister, Mother would hurry us up when he was home, she would hide us and shout at me whenever I protested. I know, there will come a time when something unforgiving would occur and I dread that moment because I am growing up, my responsibilities and role within my family has increased, now I’m not able to protect them.

“Let me say something to him madda,” I whispered, padding the cotton pads on her cheek, handing her a tissue for her nose.

“No,” she said at once. “Never say anything to him, it’s okay. I’ll be alright, it’s not about me, it’s about you and Samira, you two are my priority. You need to be safe and untouched, and allowing him on me will keep you and Samira safe from him.”

“No, madda. You leaving him, us leaving and going away would keep us and you safe and protected, leave him madda. Samira would appreciate it; you are keeping her safe and protected if you leave him. We can’t stay here.”

“With what money can I move away, son. With what money?” Mother whispered, shaking her head in disbelief, she didn’t have faith in herself, this is all she knew.

“I can help, madda. Let me help.”

“I can’t, you are my son. You are my responsibility, and this is my battle to deal with.”

“Madda, this had been going on for too long,” I said, her face filtered through my mind, pouring her soft, tender energy onto me, the peace of her aura washed over me like the holy water. Her being provided me with solace amongst the darkness around me.

“Madda, there is something in this world worth fighting for, waiting for, and having in this life. You deserve happiness and peace, madda. You need to do it for yourself, don’t stay in this space, don’t stay with him.” The face glimmered from the night sky, her face radiating joy and wonder as she viewed the night sky. I miss her, I thought. “There are people who you won’t know at first, who were complete strangers and then become nothing to something. Making life something greater than before. This life isn’t the only life you can have, don’t allow Samira to grow up with scars and trauma she doesn’t need, and you don’t deserve to hurt,” I whispered, wishfully hoping that the words are going through her somehow. Her body quaked with her cries, the wails ricocheted through the four walls of her room, bouncing onto me, and streaming through my soul. The boil of my blood was kept at bay as she graced me with her presence, dousing me with tranquillity.

“Everything will be okay, madda,” I consoled, the image that had calmed me disappeared as I am overcome with the need to protect my family.

Chapter Sixteen

“Would you wait for me?” Ricardo whispered. I stilled the movement of swinging my legs over the bench. The evening breeze was crisp, the air nipped my skin as it glided across my space, it was quiet between us, the both of us seated at the bench in the promenade overlooking the Manhattan and Brooklyn Bridge. I regarded him silently, wondering where that question came from, he hadn’t looked at me. In fact, he never looked my way, and he was unusually quiet, a dark aura masked over him.

“Why?” I asked.

“Wondering. I want you and I like you. But you don’t deserve to be in a life where I am not ready for you, physically, mentally, emotionally, and financially. Would you ever wait for me?” he softly whispered, having a feeling that the answer I say would shift something inside of him, that somehow the response would be important to him. I regarded him, his eyes that have been honest, soft, and kind from the moment we had seen each other, his mouth that filled me with words that had soothed me, that had made me feel confident, to his body that had continued to make me feel safe, wanted, and comfortable to his words being a melodious balm to my soul.

“Why does it seem like what I say to your question would be important to you?”

“I don’t know” he shrugged, a thoughtful expression on his face. “Maybe it is, you mean something to me, you make my life extraordinary simply by being here with me. Would you wait for me?”

“I don’t know,” I answered truthfully. “It’s a big ask, who knows how long that would be. You may never be ready, you may want more from life, you may find something better because there is always something better. There are better things, better experiences, better woman, better beautiful women. What if you’re never satisfied with what life gives you? What if you never want me after you discovered the greater parts of life? You never know where life will take you,” the words streamed through my mouth with ease as if those thoughts have been unconsciously inside of me since the moment, we had spoken.

“I’ll always want you. You’re my angel, the light to my darkness,” he lightly murmured. My fingers laid flat on the bench beside my legs, I felt the hot sparks as his fingers tenderly reached for mine. Each finger pressed between each of my fingers, I dipped my head down to where our fingers were, in between our legs, sitting on the bench. His long fingers blended with my short fingers, portraying an image of someone watching over me, keeping me safe. “I’ll always want you, Kalina because you became important to me, life wouldn’t be the same without you. I won’t get this with anyone, I won’t feel this for any woman, not every woman resembles Kalina. There is only one Kalina and she is sitting beside me now,” he whispered, our fingers laced into one, sitting on top of his thigh. Our shoulder and thigh touched each other, I looked up at him, at his eyes that glittered like the stars in the night sky. I knew in these moments, this union between me and him were more than like and interest, it was earth bounding, it was greater than life, it was my soul and his soul coming together, in sync and beating rhythmically with each other, with the Universe. He was my celestial light, my Universe. He had my world in his and I knew that he always will, even if we are never together.

“What happens when life moves forward, if life evolves for you, you’ll tell me? Promise me, you’ll tell me when you go?”

“I promise, I’ll tell you when I go. When life moves forward, I’ll tell you,” he affirmed, his eyes open and honest, his fingers squeezed mine and his face came close to me. His mouth tilted upwards into a tender smile, his forehead pressed against mine, “I promise Kalina, I’ll come back for you. I won’t hurt you. Do you trust me?”

“I do,” I said in an instant. “You trust me?” I returned.

“I do,” he smiled. “Kalina.”

“Hmm.”

“I think I feel more than like.”

“Ricardo.”

“Yeah.”

“I think I feel more than like,” silence gathered between us before we burst the silence with our laughter. “You promise you’ll never hurt me?”

“I promise, Kalina. Would you wait for me?” he asked again.

“I don’t know. It’s a big ask. I’m afraid I won’t be emotionally secure for that.”

“Will you tell me who hurt you?” the anxious feeling crept up as soon as he let out the words.

“I- I don’t know if I’m ready. It is still fresh in my mind.”

“Whoever they were, they don’t deserve to be taking space in your mind, to be hurting you. Someone said to me, ‘you may never be ready for life.’ Sometimes you just have to say it without the thought of being ready because we may never be ready.”

“I know,” I sighed.

“They are dickheads too,” he added.

“They are,” I agreed, perking a grin from his reassurance, and understanding. “You are cute, you know that?”

“Kalina, only you can say that,” he muttered. For more exaggeration he looked around him, a man was running along the promenade and there was a woman walking her dog behind us.

“Don’t be so dramatic, Ricardo. There is no one here,” I huffed with a sigh of a laugh, which he responded with a gruff of a laugh like he was a boomerang.

“Come on.”

“Where are we going?” I asked.

“Anywhere. Been to a fair before?”

“Of course.”

“Ever been to one in New York?”

“Aren’t they all the same?”

“Maybe, do you like fairs?”

“I guess so.”

“Why is your mood so low?”

“I was comfortable sitting on the bench.” I muttered, he didn’t say anything in response, but he did roll his eyes.

We went to the subway to Greenwich Village, the fair was in Washington Square Park, well that was what Ricardo said as he dragged me to the train. There were rows of people surrounding the park, the Ferris wheel was grand as it stuck out from the rest of the rides. The multicoloured lights bright against the dark sky, children ran around me, laughing, and shouting at their parents. NYU students littered around the park, cheering, and whooping as fellow classmates danced whilst some sung. Some skated with no care in the world whilst others watched, the air of sugary dough wafted through the air and the smell of grilled meat hung in the air, streams of people stood in the long lines of rides and food spots, children held their parent’s hands and music resounded across the park, transforming the greenery space into a magical, fairyland.

“Where do you want to go?” Ricardo started.

“I don’t know,” I said quietly, getting lost in the actions that are taking place around me. “This is amazing,” I breathed, at awe of how the place had mystified and humanised the people.

“Come on,” he shouted, dragging me to a cart where they were making pancakes and crepes. On one side they had sugary sweetness and the other were savoury, my eyes were in a whirlwind as I watched the spectacle of the fairyland. “What do you want?” He asked, bringing me out of the magical daze. I studied the menu which hung on the wooden wall of the cart, innumerable options left me indecisive.

“I’ll just have crepes with sugar and cinnamon on top please.” I reached for my purse from my backpack, hurriedly handing my card just in time as Ricardo stretched his arm forward to give the person cash, relieved when the card pinged approved.

“Can I have strawberry pancakes with white chocolate sauce and white chocolate swirls please, thank you.” Once he ordered, we moved aside for the other people behind us to order.

“Kalina, that is the only time you are paying, okay?” Ricardo whispered perkily.

“Mmm,” I sounded, “you genuinely don’t need to pay for me.”

“It’s not about need, it’s that I want to. I want to be able to pay for you,” he said. “You don’t need to pay when you’re with me okay.”

“You won’t let me huh?”

“No, I don’t want you to.”

“What if we share the expenses, so you pay for the next one and then I pay for the one after?”

“No, Kalina. When you’re with me, I want to pay for you. Let me have this?” He said as if he wouldn’t budge, and he never wanted to budge.

“Okay fine. You can do it,” I said in admission.

“Order no. 9,” the crepe maker shouted.

“I’ll bring it,” he said before I even moved from where I was standing. I shook my head, floored in how he was with me. I watched his back, his face smiling up at the lady with my order. He came back to me, both of his hands laid flat on the bottom of the paper. “Coming back,” he hollered over his shoulder. My heart was overflowing, pouring incandescently throughout my body. He came over to me, groaning at the stack of pancakes, his features loose and soft around his hard edges.

“Why are you so nice to me?” I voiced, questioning whether he was a manifestation that had truly become my reality or a fragment of my imagination.

“Why am I so nice to you?” he muttered back, his eyes curious and confused.

“Mhmm.”

“You have been nice to me,” he answered, but then paused, his brows furrowed and thoughtful. “When someone is nice to you, you are nice back,” he simply worded as if that was the logical reason.

“That’s not always the case, Ricardo. You can be kind-hearted, have good intentions and be giving, but they’ll still treat you unjustly.”

“That is true. All the more reason to be nicer to each other, kind hearts will always recognise kind hearts,” he murmured. “But that isn’t the reason why I’m the way I am with you. You mean something to me, you are kind to me, a beautiful soul that only deserves good things happening to her. I can never be mean to you, it’ll hurt me.”

“You talk about me not deserving you, but it feels like I don’t deserve you,” I said when we found an empty bench to sit on.

“Maybe we needed to find each other to show that we deserve good things happening to us,” he uttered with a faraway expression.

“Thank you for being good to me.”

“Never say thank you to me, Kalina. Whatever I do for you is because you deserve it, I want and need for you to be happy when you’re with me. I need your smile.”

“You’re so kind,” I sniffled, the tears worked their floodgates again, and attempting to consciously breath in a futile manner to control my emotions.

“They’re not worthy of carrying that pain, Kalina. Don’t let them keep hurting you.”

“It’s not that easy,” I said.

“I know. Kalina.”

“Hmm.”

“You’re beautiful,” he whispered, his words illuminating my soul.

“Thank you.”

“Kalina.”

“Yes.”

“No more, saying thank you.”

“Hard adjustment to make.”

“Then I’ll keep on telling you, I’ll keep on reminding you. Come on,” he started.

“Where are we going?”

“Somewhere.”

“Where,” I persisted, he didn’t answer me. He took my hand, halting at the queue of the Ferris wheel ride. “Such a cliché,” I laughed.

“I can be a cliché… sometimes,” he retorted, wearing a smile on his face. I looked up at the Ferris wheel, it was high up in the clouds, the lights were like the gasses and knots from the constellation of Aquarius. We stood there for what felt like forever, anticipation sunk into my veins as the adrenaline sizzled beneath my skin.

“Next,” the man held the gate to the entrance, calling out for the next people in line. Ricardo pulled us forward, crossing the barricade to the Ferris wheel, people who were on the ride seemed jovial – lovers, family, friends, and those alone were mirthful and young. We stepped into the empty cabin, nerves amplified, and the crackle of adrenaline heightened. The man put down the safety rail in front of us and locked the door, the music resonated through the air, whirring as the mechanics of the wheel worked itself. Then the adrenaline streamed quietly away into nothingness, replaced with the feeling of awe, bewitched, and captivated by the commotion happening below me and above me. Fireworks exploded, and reverberated, shaking the ground from the vibration. The crackle of the rockets oscillated through my body and bounced up to the sky. The pyrotechnics shot through the seams, flowing into each other and flowered the deep sky.

“It’s beautiful,” I breathed, enamoured by my surroundings.

“Yeah, she is beautiful,” he worded, I turned to him. His eyes caressed my face, wearing a light smile. The lights gleamed heavenly across his face and his dark complexion shimmered lustrously against the beams of colours. His eyes were on me for what felt like the longest time, the sounds of the people echoed through the atmosphere. I looked away, the intensity consumed me with electricity and flutters purring through my veins. Mesmerised by the pictorial views beneath us and above us, the lights blazed and alighted the dark clouds. The moon glowed her snowy hue onto us, the night clouds wrapped around her, cocooning her, moving her like the waves. 

“I’ll wait for you,” I whispered, the Ferris wheel stopped at the top of the circle. The sights of the buildings were stunning, the flickers of lights blinked, and the seas of skyscrapers seemed infinite. At this moment, life felt infinite, connections are infinite, and I know this connection would be monumental to my life.

“You will?” He murmured.

“I’ll wait for you, come back to me, okay?”

“I’ll come back to you, Kalina. I promise you.”

“Okay. Ricardo.”

“Yes.”

“You scare me.”

“You scare me too.”

Authors Note: These are segments of the character Ricardo Opheseus from the selected chapters that reflect his character development, his POV and significant moments that takes place in his life. I hope you enjoyed reading. Chapter six, seven, thirteen, and sixteen are my personal favourite.

Chapter Eleven

Romance, Story

I didn’t know how he did it, being around him felt like an out of body experience. The heaviness that had become too familiar, that had become my acquaintance was non-existent around his presence, surges of tumbled up giddiness, fluttering butterflies in my stomach and heated body has replaced the usual sadness, he made me feel renewed and alive. I felt light and free, I think that was the greatest thing to ever experience. Holding his hand, interlocking my fingers seemed like an innocent act, but it felt like he had my whole world in the palms of his hands, the intimacy, the gradual growth of synergy of our connection developing, feeling his touch all over my body. The simplicity of him feeling my fingers sent sparks through my veins, awakening something I had never felt. The nervousness kept me company briefly until we started laughing at the random conversations we would have as we sat down on the floor, looking over the view of Manhattan. People were coming and going, taking pictures and awing at the pictorial display that is Manhattan, and yet, that didn’t stop the bubble me and Ricardo had created. As minutes, hours passed by, our hands would get closer, our body brushed each other, the touch barely there but the heat and fireworks would work their way through my body.

“Tell me about your family,” I asked, aware of another boundary we were crossing, familial topics were personal and touchy for most people, and it seemed like it was for him too. His body was immobile, his eyes were looking straight out through the glass window, his eyes lost their sparkle I had become used to seeing, and now regretted even going there. “I’m sorry, it’s okay if you don’t want to talk about your family, I know it is a personal topic,” I whispered, running my head to find vocabularies that will lessen the developing tension inside Ricardo, and between us.

He sighed as he bent his head down. “I am not close with my father since he is not really home much. I am grateful for my mother, she has done so much for me and Samira, to make sure that we are good, food is restocked, that there is electricity and gas in the house, she is a superhero. I have a sister, my little sister, she is 10 years old. Me and her run this town, or so I say to her whenever she is sad,” he laughed at that, admiring the sound naturally bubbling out from him. “She gets bullied in school, and she just has this attitude about her whenever she comes back home. She would sigh and slump her shoulders, throwing her backpack away and asks why we even go to school and why kids are so mean. I do everything in my power to protect her, keep her safe and give her a good life. So, when she tells me what happens I do go into school and ask the kids who pick on her, what’s up, the next day she comes home and she is happy, that is comforting to know. Anything I do in this life will be for my family, for giving Samira a life I didn’t have, I don’t want her to be in a neighbourhood that doesn’t protect women, I don’t want her to be a broken black woman. It is a heavy burden to carry.” His eyes had a faraway look, his eyes looked dreamy, my heart bloomed at his openness, vulnerability, and his love for his family. I swooned at the way he talked about his family, his protective instincts towards his sister, and the need to provide her with a life that he didn’t have. Feeling his words inside my heart, and wishing I had someone like him in school. I did tell my older sister about the boy who would bully me, and she would pay a visit to the boy with her friends during lunch time, and he would stop for a few days, but then continue. It was hopeless to ask her, because it would happen anyways, my friends saw but they never said anything, they would stand there and be quiet, I know it wasn’t their responsibility, but neither is it my fault for being picked apart and bearing to tolerate terrible words that were thrown at me by people that never knew me or just because I existed.

“I pray that you get the wishes and desires in this life, Ricardo,” I murmured, meaning it.

“Let’s get out of here, let me take you to the promenade, the lights are coming on,” he suddenly said, rubbing off imaginary dust from his joggers and looked down at me with expectancy. “Come on, Kalina, let’s go,” he urged, I got up with my backpack at hand, I viewed the Manhattan view for the last time, I followed Ricardo out to the elevator, the both of us stealing glances from each other. Both of us brushed a laugh whenever we got caught, my body heated up from his nearness. I watched Ricardo through the mirror, he nervously rubbed the back of his neck, chuckling to himself.

“What are you laughing at?” I smiled at our own quirks when being in unfamiliar situations.

“Nothing, you are different, I can’t figure you out. You become more interesting the more I get to know you,” he truthfully let out, shaking his head as if in disbelief. My heart thudded against my chest, tears welled from the deep webs of my eyes, he didn’t know how much his words affected me, cracking the insecurities and words that have been said to me with harsh intentions for five years. He cracked something when he gave me an honest compliment. Hastily blinked my eyes so the tears don’t fall, what do I say in reasoning? I am crying because of your compliment, your words were a breath of fresh air from the horrible words that were drilled into me, that I was starving for someone to think of me differently and say nice things to me. I guarded my face, pushed my hair forward so, he wasn’t able to see my face from where he was leaning against the wall of the elevator.

“Thank you,” I croaked, he didn’t know how much his words meant to me and he wouldn’t know, I didn’t want him to know. “You’re interesting too.”

“Thank you,” he repeated, releasing a deep chuckle, the sound reached into my heart and blossomed. We walked side by side to the subway station to Brooklyn Heights Promenade, it was six in the evening, it was still daylight in the early September. People rushed to their destinations, cars honked profusely arguing with other drivers, the bustle of New Yorkers not dying down. Ricardo started to run down the stairs, “come on, Kalina, we’re gonna miss the train, come on,” he rushed, looking back at me as he ran. Too familiar with running for the trains, my life of running for the tubes on the underground in London flooded back to me. I broke into a smile, speeded with him for the subway, adrenaline bursting through my veins, catching up with him. We were both successful as we leaped inside the train, ignoring the weird looks and appreciating those who ignored us. Ricardo and I laughed whilst catching our breath, the subway was so full I felt like my body was going to drown, it was jam packed with people. The crowds of people pushed us closer, the adrenaline from running disappeared and the dull intensity from his proximity reappeared. My loose breath became choppier, his warm breath fanned over my face, closing my eyes instinctively, each jolt from the trains pushed us closer until my head was leaning on his chin and his arm wrapped around my back, closing my eyes and taking in the sensations that have risen from his closeness. I let go of him when less and less people were on the train and there was enough space to move away, avoiding his eyes, too anxious to see his expression. The fear of having crossed another boundary reflected the emotion I was feeling on my eyes and so, I looked to the ground, fixating intently on the old, plain grey tiles until we got off.

The gust of wind was refreshing, appreciating the gentle air as it caressed my skin, and blew my hair away from my face. I turned to Ricardo to see his eyes already on me, I sent a smile his way, but he hadn’t returned the gesture. A pinch clamped my heart, my brain over-riding itself, paranoia and insecurities turned its head, maybe he regretted asking me to come with him, maybe I overstepped when I leaned on him for support, should have used a pole for support instead, despite it never being on my mind at the time. “I’m sorry if I overstepped, shouldn’t have gotten too close to you, I am sorry for invading your personal space, and for putting you in an awkward position. I should go home,” I said in one breath.

“No, no it is okay. Don’t worry about it, I understand,” he returned, clearing his throat, “we are almost here so, might as well stay,” he whispered as an afterthought. I nodded in response, forcing a smile, the familiar sensation of anxiousness left me crippled, befriending me through the walk. I realised that Ricardo has stopped, lifting my head up, I regarded the barrier we were standing against. There was a sea of water in front of me, looking straight ahead, I gasped at the sight. I turned my head side to side, I didn’t know where to look, I could see the Brooklyn Bridge from here alongside, the view of the skyscrapers, statue of liberty was situated to the side, the sun beaming as the colour red cascaded around the star. My mind was loopy and airy, “wow,” I muttered, that one word repeated itself, the lights started to illuminate, they were shining, and blinding against the dusky skies. The mirage of buildings was merged in symphony, forming perfectly with the bridge, “wow,” I whispered, the words leaving in a barely their breath. We were silent for a good moment, taking my time seeing the city views, “it’s beautiful, Ricardo,” I finally differentiated, remembering that he was with me.

“Yeah, it is beautiful,” he whispered, rotating to the side to see his eyes on me. An emotion misted his face, my face warmed at the indication of what his words meant, when his eyes were looking at me instead of the skyscrapers. A low chuckle vibrated from his body, shaking his head the same way he did in the elevator, “you coming to the community?” Ricardo said after moments of silence.

“Yeah, I am coming. I like it, I like the way it makes me feel.”

“Come say hi, okay?”

“Okay,” our eyes touched together in a wordless conversation. No words needed to be said for what was happening in this moment and for what happened throughout the whole day. We liked each other, no amount of insecurities and paranoia could take away that gut instinct but, it never mattered for Ricardo didn’t want me, the tightness resurfaced itself. After exchanging words, we stood in silence looking out at the city’s skyline, once the cold had gotten harsher, we decided it was time to leave. We got back into the station to my home, Ricardo waited outside the edge of the stoop until I was inside the house, waving a goodbye and he returned it with a wave too, smiling whilst the heaviness stayed inside my chest. Whether we say or acknowledge it, something happened today, we were meant to meet each other, it was an inevitable incident, and it changed the way I saw the world, setting the tone for the rest of my life. My head fell on top of the pillow, grateful for a dreamless sleep. I just didn’t know how impactful our meet was going to be ten years later.

Chapter Twelve

Blog, Creative Writing

“Yesterday, me and Ricardo spent the day together,” I whispered to Micah.

“You did huh?” his voice devoid of emotions, watching me intently, “was he good to you?” he let out, after moments of silence.

“Mhmm, he was. He sat next to me in English Lit, we started having conversations and mini debates. He asked me if I wanted to eat out with him so, we did that with a lot of talking. He took me to the Edge afterwards to see the views of Manhattan, we had a moment,” I lightly said, my body warmed up and my stomach butterflied at the moment me and Ricardo shared, still feeling his fingers and hands on mine.

“You did huh?” he repeated, “what happened?” he asked, wriggling his eyebrows.

“Nothing crazy, we just held hands,” the giggly kind of laugh came out of me, shaking my head at the mess I was becoming over a boy.

“Awe,” he teased, moving his mouth to imitate a kiss.

“Oh, shut up,” I returned, pushing his shoulder. “He took me to the Brooklyn Heights Promenade to see the city lights afterwards, and dropped me off home,” I whispered, smiling at the remembrance, concluding that he is cute and my feelings for him are growing faster than anticipated.

“So, it was a date?” Micah smirked, “I knew what was up the moment you asked about him. Girl, did I know it,” he gloated, puffing his chest out, laughing at my expense. “As long as you’re good, then I’m good. Anytime it gets messy, shout me okay. Relationships and love are a whole ‘nother game ball, and fate can get twisted. Anytime you feel hurt, call me, text me, or come to my place, or you say the word and I’m coming to yours, okay? Don’t suffer alone,” he murmured. 

“You have experience with all this?” I asked, wondering where his train of thoughts came from.

“I do, with past relationships I have been in and seen how messed up people around me can get after a break-up, it’s not nice and doesn’t feel nice to see. You need people in your corner, always. So yeah, Kali, just letting you know, if ever anything happens you have me,” he shrugged, his eyes looking around the street, taking in the sun over the tall trees, my butt hurting from sitting on the stoops.

“Thank you, Micah and my butt is hurting, can we go back inside please and finish off the project?”

“Damn, forgot about that.”

“Yeah right, you’ve been avoiding it the whole time since you came here.”

Anemone Symbol - Flower Symbol

It was the third week of being part of the community, Aphrodite asked when I’ll be sharing with the community, the nerves creeped up at the idea of performing in front of people, I nonchalantly shrugged my shoulders “soon, maybe.” Aphrodite rehearsed her spoken word piece in front of the three of us, in our usual spot outside the gallery. Alejandro perceived her with lovey dove eyes, Micah’s eyes were closed as he listened to her work and I watched her rehearse, venerating the way she effortlessly put words together and was so confident in herself, smiling at her when she finished. “It’s powerful. Aphrodite. You’re gonna leave the crowd a mess,” I hyped.

“That’s the plan, Kali,” she squealed, her eyes beaming with joy. Aphrodite walked into Alejandro’s arms, her head leaning into his chest as he muttered in her ear. At that moment, I turned my head and I saw Ricardo with his usual hoodie, walking down the sidewalk leisurely, a mind of its own. He worn a jumper, which shaped his broad shoulders, his jeans fitted snugly against his legs, his head came up, his mouth forming a small smile.

“Hey, I started.

“Hey, are you okay?”

“I’m okay, I am with my friends, I saw you coming, and I wanted to say hey. Are you okay?”

“I’m good, Kalina.”

“Are you going to perform today?”

“Not today, I want to watch. Sometimes, it is nice to be away from home.”

“I get that, the stage is gonna miss you tonight.”

“That’s okay, it’ll understand that people need time to rest,” he replied, his grin widening, stretching his face.

“Want to hang out with me and my friends, or alone, or together?” I whispered, stammering over my words.

“Maybe, I can say ‘sup to your friends, I don’t mind. You busy afterwards?”

“No, not doing anything, usually after being with the community, I go home.”

“You got a curfew?”

“No, not really. As long as I am updating my Ma, I’m fine.”

“Any of your friend performing today?”

“Yes, Aphrodite, she was rehearsing in the group just before I saw you. I think she is in the third of the line-up today.”

“Oh, that’s cool, would you want to get a slice of pizza after her performance?” he slowly uttered, his eyes intently on me.

“Sure,” I said, making sure to not be quick with my response and keeping a cool collected face even though, my body was in a frenzy inside. We walked side by side towards the group, Micah was already looking at us, his eyes speculative towards us, the anxious feeling befriending me at the thought of eyes on me.

“Hey guys, this is Rico, we met each other in one of our classes in college, I figured he was part of the community when I saw him perform the first day I came to the event and then I saw him again in English Lit.” I said, tumbling over my words.

Micah started first with his staple grin, “sup Rico, I saw you around the community, your music is tight, Kalina did mention you here and there too,” he said, his eyes drifting to me. Alejandro came towards us with Aphrodite behind him, his hand falling on top of Micah’s shoulder, and then stretched his arm forward to shake Ricardo’s hand.

“Rico your actual name or stage name?” Alejandro asked.

“Ricardo is my name, I heard you last week, your joint is cool,” Ricardo complimented, bobbing his head with his words.

“Thanks bro, yours is too, you performing today?”

“No, will be chilling today, want to be part of the community. You are Aphrodite, right? You’re pretty cool too, it’s dope what you’re doing and how you are using your artistry.”

“Hey Ricardo, thanks, I appreciate it. Your stuff has a lot of heat too, you’re talented and I am glad you’re sharing it with us. Nice to finally meet you,” Aphrodite smiled, quirking an eyebrow at me when he wasn’t looking.

“Thanks, appreciate it,” Ricardo returned, his face smiling too, feeling happy that the introduction went smoothly and that they seemed to like each other.

“Alright, let’s go in. It’s about to start,” Micah began, already headed towards the entrance door, we all followed suit, me and Ricardo behind them.

“They seemed to like you,” I whispered to Ricardo, admiring his features, especially the eyes that are on me now.

“I like them too.”

“That’s cool, do you have any friends or anyone you talk to here?”

“Yeah, his name is Timba and he makes reggae beats, we started talking about music and seemed to connect. Most of my friends are from high school, they make music too and some in college. I’m not really a people talker, nor do I like socialising, I like being alone,” he explained.

“I get that, I knew Micah from school, I met the rest of them through him when Micah invited me here.”

“You seem to get along?” he posed as a question.

“We do, feel like I am part of the group, I’ve never been part of a group before or had real friends, it’s my first time being around genuine people, I know in my heart that they are my good friends especially, Micah. He already feels like family.”

“You never had genuine friends before?”

“No, the friends from school, were only friends with me because of convenience and would use me, I stopped talking to them when I left.”

“There’s a reason why they’re not in your life anymore. It’s good you found yourself a trio.”

“Me too,” I ended, throughout the community event, we were standing next to each other, his hand around me at the times I was pushed, thanking him in response. Micah smiled at me, his head shaking, when Ricardo wasn’t with me.

Micah shouted over the music “there is more than what you’re letting on, the energy crazy around you two and the way he looks at you woy. He seems like a good dude. You doing anything afterwards?” Micah questioned as if he knows already.

“He asked me if I want to get a slice of pizza with him, we’ll be going after Aphrodite’s set so, we’re not out too late.” I responded.

“Alright, that’s how it is. Be careful sis, text me when you’re at home, let me know how it goes.”

The lights dropped low, the presenter came onto the stage, the crowd screamed back at him. Micah was quiet beside me, turning my head at Ricardo to catch him staring at me. He dipped his head closer to me, my breath becoming shallow with quickness. “You’re beautiful,” he whispered, shivering when his breath crossed my skin, my eyes watering, one tear dropped down my cheek, too late to catch it and hide it, bowing my head down a little from his curious eyes. “I’m sorry if I did something wrong, it felt right to say at that moment.”

“No, no,” I abruptly said, halting his thoughts “nobody said that to me,” I admitted, my eyes blurring from the unshed tears.

“You’re beautiful, Kalina” he repeated, his eyes fixed on mine, running his eyes softly over my face, a gentle smile tugged his mouth, returning his eyes on me. “You’re beautiful,” he affirmed, my heart pumped harder, my breath became heavier, and my legs felt like jell o by his words, and at the way his eyes seemed to believe his words. I tiptoed to meet his face, I pecked him, holding my mouth for a few seconds on his smooth skin, the butterflies overworking and my heart warming, the bravery dying down, when I came in face with his eyes. The dark orbs glittered like milky ways from the bright lights, the dimples on his cheeks dented and enhanced his face, finding it hard to look elsewhere, not wanting our bubble to plop.

I could hear Aphrodite’s voice on stage, her passionate voice travelling through the ends of the room, the silence from the crowd added fuel to the intensity sifting from Ricardo and me. I moved my head to the front, the need to shift my focus on Aphrodite was important. “I gotta support Aphrodite,” I said, reasoning my change in attention.

“That’s fine,” he responded, I watched her performance, admiring her tenacity, strength and confidence. She was meant to be on that stage, for people to listen to her words, and take in her presence. I praised and applauded as loud as I can once she finished, and then said bye to Micah.

“Text me okay. Let me know when you get home, see you tomorrow,” Micah said when I informed him that I’m leaving, his eyes kind and knowing. He gave me a brief hug and shook hands with Ricardo, I waved at him as I walked forward, trying to follow Ricardo out the floor. I pushed past the people in the crowd, my eyes became cloudy from the claustrophobic atmosphere, my heart working harder to bring in oxygen, feeling arms around me, pushing me through the rows of people.

“Almost there, stay with me, you’ll be okay,” Ricardo urged, he encased me with his arms, letting out a breath once I felt the whoosh of air on my skin. “I thought you were going to faint on me,” Ricardo chuckled, staying close to me “are you okay?”

“I’m okay, thank you,” I murmured, closing my eyes, feeling the oxygen come in and out of me, grateful for the cool breeze. “Where are you taking us Ricardo?”

“Don’t know, let’s see where we go,” he chuckled, watching me from his side with a smile.

“You have a nice smile,” I complimented, my face warming and hopelessly smiling at my courage.

“Weirdo,” he threw back.

“What!” I exclaimed in defence. “It’s true, it makes you look nicer,” he shook his head, letting out a raspy laugh.

“You’re pretty too, you’re beautiful and you don’t even know it,” he whispered, staring at my eyes like he wanted to see through my soul. I didn’t say anything in response, I stared back at him, the words he shared with me felt foreign to my ears and my soul. I didn’t believe him, I couldn’t, those words weren’t what befriended me for half a decade. Those words were seeking to replenish the evils that had hurt me, that I carried with me.

“Beautiful is an intense and a deep word, Ricardo. You shouldn’t throw it around to anyone,” I finally said, meaning those words.

“You’re funny, never have been ashamed of yourself, you’re you. That is beautiful, a soul resembling beauty,” he murmured, talking to me seriously, trying to draw out the lies and buttery words. But his eyes displayed earnest along with his face and mouth.

“Thank you,” I responded, moving my head forward before he could see the prickling tears. We took the steps down the subway, hopping onto it, and sat in silence, I embraced the comforting and peaceful silence, I embraced the inflaming intensity that constantly ebbed between us, making it insufferable, I embraced the energy that he brought out of me and the sensations that he awakened that I had never felt before. I took in a sharp breath, when I felt cool fingers taking strands of hair and placing it around the back of my ear, my eyes closed unconsciously at the fiery blaze he provoked from his fingertips. Turned to look at him, wordlessly watching him, my eyes wondering over his face, from his eyes, down his nose, to his lips and back up his eyes.

“There was a strand of hair stuck in your eyelash, I’m sorry if I scared you.”

“You didn’t. You make me feel safe,” I voiced, the words true and honest as my feelings for him, I trusted him. He replied to the words with his own caress to my face, a small smile curved his cheeks, he truly was a beautiful boy. What did he want with me? He didn’t want me, so why was he here? He didn’t like me. Why me when he could have anyone? The insecurities made an appearance, paralysing my mind, thoughts, and emotions. ‘Ugly, Kalina is ugly, he is playing with me,” my mind shouted, bringing the past and slewing insecurities into the mix. “You playing with me Ricardo? What you getting out of this?” my words lashed out harsher than intended, regretting saying those words because his eyes were penetrating. He succumbed me like a weakling who had no power over her body, mind  and soul.

“I don’t have no vicious motive, there’s nothing for me here. That doesn’t matter because I’m here anyways, wanting to spend my time with you, there is no game for me to play, Kalina. This is already getting me fucked up because I never planned for any of this. Who hurt you?” he said, without a drop of emotions.

“Nobody, nobody hurt me,” I said defensively, intentionally lying, he never needed to find out, he didn’t need to know the words that were mercilessly breached into me. He stood up, therefore I stood up, following cluelessly behind him. Hearing shouts and screams from the top of the subway, bowing my head down, all of a sudden feeling tired, my eyes on his Jordan’s, the only way I know that it was him and that I was behind him. “I’m sorry, I shouldn’t have said that, everyone has their own darkness they are dealing with, I guess I do too,” I muttered.

“Don’t worry about it, I know you are trying to protect yourself, I know,” he reassured, his eyes matching his mouth. We walked through Midtown Manhattan, the lights hypnotising and making me feel alive.

“Ricardo.”

“Hmm.”

“I like you.”

“I like you too,” he smiled, his eyes were sparkling like stars, the lights illuminated his melanated skin like the moonlight.

This will be the last Chapter I will be posting until I finish the story. It is so tempting to post all of it but it’s not the right move. I hope you enjoyed the five chapters that have been posted and I hope to see you again soon. Kind Regards, Konijja

Chapter Ten

Blog, Creative Writing

He changed his hoodie to a beanie, his beauty stark and enhanced by the small difference. I watched him as he went up, feeling the mesmerised pull, wanting to get closer. But then my heart stopped, my body warmed up and my heart thudded crazily against my chest. He pulled the desk upwards and sat down, his clean scent travelled to my nose, my eyes were on him the whole time, swirling in a whirlwind of emotions in my head. “Hey.”

“Hey.”

“Hey.”

“Hey,” he laughed, his smile drifted to my heart, warming the chambers and pumping blood through the body. “Is that how it’s always going to be?”

“I don’t know, can I ask why you are sitting next to me?” I asked, remembering what he said the last time, and the memory of using him as an anchor to find light too fresh in my mind.

“I don’t know, my body led me here. I was walking up but then I saw you, I think I was drawn to you,” he absentmindedly whispered, his eyes guarded and regarding me with an expression that seemed like he couldn’t figure me out.

“Interesting,” I commented, familiar with his dilemma.

“Yeah, are you okay?” He questioned, at that moment my voice decided to get stuck on my throat, my mind still trying to figure out how of all days he had chosen to sit beside me and ask if I’m okay was when I had a mental, emotional breakdown and used him to escape not too long ago. What kind of voodoo telepathic shit was going on?

“I’m okay,” I finally answered, “are you okay?”

“I’m good,” and that was the end of our conversation since Professor McCormick rushed into the auditorium, greeting us whilst he set himself up.

“Sorry for being late, traffic in this city surprises me every day, still getting used to it,” he chuckled, eliciting a light laughter from the most of us.

“At least you are here now,” a student said.

“That’s right, at least I am here,” he heaved, starting up his laptop and putting up the PowerPoint for today.

“I like him,” I whispered to Ricardo, I looked over his face, his aura putting me in a trance, finding it hard to pull away.

“I like him too,” he repeated, laughing at his response, now the both of us are sharing a laugh.

“You gonna repeat everything I say?” I shot back the words he threw at me earlier.

“Yeah,” he deadpanned, his face feigned seriousness but his eyes deceived him as the dark orbs were twinkling with humour. There was ease and comfort in his presence, his eyes kind and yet guarded, most importantly, he made me feel safe and secure in his space despite the handful of times we had saw and spoken to each other. We worked together throughout the lesson, savouring the feel of being in his presence, the feelings of intensity flamed between us, becoming harder to contain every time our eyes met.

Hopeless laughter fallen from my lips when he became engrossed in his beliefs and conceptual ideas, his eyebrows quirked up whenever I disagreed with his perspective. The current topic was society, “you can’t change my belief on this society being man-made, I don’t believe in it,” I said.

“We need a society to moralise us, and guide us through this life. You know a switch? Why do you plug your phone in the switch? Because that’s the norm, that’s how you’re meant to be charging your phone and using electrical devices,” he returned with passion, answering his own questions, his eyes widening, his face playful, wearing a smirk on his face, Ricardo was convinced that he is right.

“Just because we do it doesn’t mean it’s the right thing to do. We are conditioned to do things and this society is obsessed with values that doesn’t make any sense, that are limiting to our human bodies and minds. They have obsessions with identities and labels, just because they exist doesn’t mean it’s right, it can be restrictive and controlling. The whole system is used to control us, conditions us to a way of life that is unnatural whilst making us work to sustain an organisation that keeps us divided and disorganised. Divide and conquer is still a belief that they weaponise you know?” Using all of my competitive nature to win this heated discussion. “It’s okay to be wrong sometimes,” I muttered teasingly, observing his face and sneaking a smile.

“I’m gonna get you back.”

“I’ll be waiting,” I relished in this moment of simply talking, having a light-hearted debate. His eyes on my face made me feel giddy, there was something unfurling between us, it was too intense to hide or ignore. The growing feelings filled up my soul, wanting more of him. I know I am walking in a dangerous path that has too many uncertainties that will lead to me getting hurt, but at this moment as we are exchanging smiles and glances of eyes, the energised connection and our conversations became something more, it felt worth it, whatever was happening between us was real. I know it.

“Alright class, you can go. See you on Wednesday, stay safe and have a good day,” Professor McCormick shouted.

“I know you feel it,” I whispered as we walked out the class. Ricardo waited for me to go through the door he held open, his eyes were silently watching me, his hands holding the door wide open, “thank you,” I say at last. The foreign emotions heightened at his chivalry, I never had someone hold the door open for me.

“It doesn’t matter nothing can happen, too much is going on with my life. I’m not where I want to be in my life, please try to understand,” he said, his voice almost pleading.

“You don’t want me,” I murmured, the insecurities buried inside me slithering up.

“It’s not that easy, Kalina. Life isn’t always straight-forward, there are things I need to straighten out, I need to focus on my music, I want to make it in life. I’m not where I want to be, I can’t like you because I’m not ready for someone like you,” he slowly uttered, his voice asserting conviction as if he has been thinking about this for a long time. His hands disappeared inside his jean pockets, the beanie on his head framed his strong features, enchanting his jawline, nose, and mouth.

Not ready to take any of it in, I shake it off, “can we at least talk, nothing needs to happen but we can still talk right?” I asked, anticipating his answer. He didn’t say anything, he nodded his head, tearing his eyes away from me. I ignored the insecurities and devastating words from the past trying to inch up.

 “What are you doing now?” He suddenly said.

“Nothing.”

“Would you want to get a bite?”

“Sure,” we strolled side by side, the silence was comfortable. Even with the chilled breeze the sun was shining in the sky, brightening the streets, the colour of the trees was rich green, beautifying the pathway. I admired the city’s natural elements of the rustling trees, the honking and skidding vehicles as they wait in the long strings of traffic. NYU students and New Yorkers talked amongst each other, some walked alone, some with groups of people, the smell of various cultural food wafted through the air. “Where are we going?” I asked, watching him to already find his eyes on me.

“You try tacos?” He asked.

“No, I haven’t, I haven’t had a chance to explore food and restaurants in London.”

“It’s a Mexican and Caribbean food place, one of the best spots for tacos in Manhattan,” he said, distracted by his side profile, taking a glimpse of his beauty and slants that endowed his face.

“Are you Jamaican?” I questioned, scared I may get it wrong but I’m sure that I’m right.

“I am, how did you know?”

“United Kingdom have predominant Jamaican population, I grew up around them,” I said, relieved that I was right.

“That’s cool, I am aware. Many of my family went to U.K, many of them live in Birmingham and London, the ancestry before us moved around 1950s, after World War Two. Britain brought vast amount of Caribbean folks, mainly Jamaicans to do work for them, to build their economy, they were part of the Windrush era. My parents chose to come here rather than going to the U.K.”

“Wow. I always wondered why my grandfather chose to settle there after working as a labourer in British ships during colonial Singapore,” the questions and thoughts kept nagging at me, wanting answers but finding none, simply trying to justify his reasons at the time. “I came up with the answer that Bangladesh was unliveable with famine, war and devastation and living in Britain was a safer option, especially more so because he was a British citizen since he was a labourer, working on the ships in Singapore, for the British empire.”

“I can see that, racial disparity and diaspora is always a challenging aspect of history and life to navigate and adding slavery, colonialism, and imperialism. The British empire is disgusting and it should be acknowledged. That’s why we can relate and connect with each other in some way despite our differences. Communities for our people are fundamental, essential part of life, community is a way of life,” he expressed.

“I can see that,” imitating his earlier words, both of us laughing at our constant repetitive responses. “Community is important, our people only had each other, we always have been for the people. Even when we are living in an individualistic society, in a space where we need to make something of ourselves, fighting for our dreams, we always come back to the people, paying them back and taking care of them. Community is our ancestry and, in our blood,” I muttered seriously. He simply nodded, his eyes regarding me with his twinkly, celestial eyes, feeling his stare on the seat of my stomach.

Waiter came to get our order, giggling as I realised, we hadn’t been looking down at the menu because of our conversations, wincing at my unusual behaviour. Ricardo said some food options to the waiter, taking the time to observe him, the urge to sink into his presence was onerous. “For Kalina, can I get the shrimp tacos with mango salsa and fried plantains, beef patties and fried dumplings please,” he listed, looking at me “you want a drink? What drink do you want?”

“I’ll have a coke please,” I requested towards the waiter, Ricardo repeated the drink order to the waiter and ending it with a thank you. Both of us shared a smile, falling back into our conversations, “what are your dreams, Ricardo?” I asked, wanting to know everything about him.

“I want people to listen to my music, being an artist, a musician is all I know, only thing I want to do. I want to buy a nicer home for my family, to leave my neighbourhood and give my little sister a life I didn’t have,” he responded solemnly, his eyes avoided me, his hands played with the napkins on the table.

“That’s a nice dream,” I simply said, hating the logical side of me, who understood why he didn’t want me. Nonetheless my heart tugged at my chest, the sensation not lessened it’s clenching on my heart at the thought of him not wanting me. He had a face of conflict when his eyes were on me.

“Not everyone is fortunate to be born rich and with money, most of us have to work for it and sometimes we don’t even get much.”

“My father lived in a two-bedroom house with his parents in Bangladesh, my mother married him, and he came to United Kingdom with nothing. My  mother grew up in one house with three other families in Birmingham. She didn’t finish her education, she stopped after secondary school, she had my eldest brother after a year of marriage and all followed through, I’m the youngest in my family. Most of my siblings are spread out, my eldest brother still lives in London, he already has a life there, so he didn’t come with us, my second eldest brother is currently in Tokyo pursuing engineering, and my sisters are mostly working so basically, I’m like an only child. My father worked two jobs whilst getting his degree in business and economics, he went into real estate, tearing down redundant businesses and put them together and sold them at a higher price to companies to invest in. He worked for a company that are located in London, New York and Singapore, he had worked most of his life to get here so, I understand Ricardo. You’ll get there, you’ll achieve all things you want, okay?” I said confident in his ability, he blew me away the first time I saw him perform, he has enough passion and fire to get what he wants, throughout the conversation. A soft hum streamed tenderly to my heart, the acceptance of him not wanting me whirred, making peace with it.

Ricardo   

I watched her with wonder and confusion, how did she accept it so easily? Waiting for her to switch up on me. But as I study her sweet, sweet face, I know her words were as real as her aura. I didn’t know why I had chosen to sit beside her in class, something heavy has been wearing my body down from the moment I had woken up, I couldn’t shake it and then I walked towards her as if it was meant to be. Not expecting the excitement, I would feel of sharing a space with her. Every conversation tugged me to her like a hypnotising bell ringing and the only direction to go from here was forward, towards her, I didn’t want her to leave. Maybe it was selfish of me to ask her to hang out with me when I didn’t want anything happening between us but, I couldn’t help it as if I had no control of my heart and mind.

Watching her honest eyes paired with a mouth filled with understanding and truth, I felt compelled to think about her and me in the future, the visions coming to life and rushing through me, driving the emotions I felt for her. Her smile on my face, viewed me with pride and adoration as she watched me on the stage, seeing her with my family, spoiling my little sister, having a loving relationship with my mother, her coming to the studios to see me, her eyes on me when I’m recording on the booth, the smile on my face getting bigger as I spot her with my friends. I imagined her and I alone in our own home, she was wearing my clothes, laying back in our bed and laughing, her ear on my heart as I sing to her. Living life with her, creating life with her and until we’re grey and old. I could see it as I sit opposite her, her smile gentle on me, her eyes caressing my face and her chest going up and down evenly with her steady breath. What do I feel for you? I wondered to myself, imprinting her face on my mind, to my memory. The way her eyes see me, her mouth called out my name, her body relaxed and at ease around me, the way I feel being around her, “have you explored New York yet?” I asked her when we finished eating, paying for both of us which she protested against and gave me a stink face, opening up her own purse and pushing twenty-five dollars to my face, kept talking about paying me back and not accepting it. There will be a day where I can buy her all the things she wants, but now I could only afford to pay for her food when she’s with me, and that is exactly what I’m going to do.

“I’ve been to Chinatown, Greenwich Village, east Harlem, through the Brooklyn Bridge and Jackson Heights, Queens,” she said, our arms touching from time to time when we strolled down the sidewalk.

“Okay, I have an idea of where I am going to be taking you,” I said.

“Where are you taking me?” she returned.

“Don’t worry, you’ll find out when you see it but for now, it is a surprise,” satisfied with her pouted mouth, and scrunched up face, making me laugh as a result.

Her voice released a gasp, her eyes widened, her mouth shaped like an ‘o’, looking back at me in shock. “Ricardo,” she whispered, liking the way she said my name, the gentleness of her soft voice saying my name was addictive. “I heard of this place, they say you can see the whole of Manhattan at the top of the building, is that where we are going?” She squealed, enjoying her goofy and loopy excitement, it made her even more cute, finding it hard to grasp the overflowing emotions that are surfacing because of her.

“Yes,” I said, too distracted by her enthusiastic facial expressions, stepping into the building. I guided her to the elevator, tapping the button of the elevator, taking us to the floor that will show us the city view. “I would come here as often as I can, or I’ll sit on the Brooklyn Heights promenade, the views of the skyscrapers make me feel infinite, extraordinary as if I mattered, as if I am valued and needed in this world,” I lightly muttered, finding myself relaxing in her presence.

“I felt that way when me and my parents drove through the Brooklyn Bridge, the sight of Manhattan made me feel as if I’m bigger than life,” she murmured, waiting for the elevator to reach our floor. The ding indicated that we are here, waiting for her to go first, I followed after her, slowly observing and assessing her facial expressions and body.

“Oh my God,” she gasped, her breath coming out shorter, her body still as she watched the view, captivated by her form, finding it hard to keep my eyes off of her, her aura and being leaving me dazed, sweeping me closer to her. The sun was out, shining radiantly in the sky, overseeing the city but I watched her face, my heart clamped as the sun glistened graciously and delicately over her skin, her brown complexion festooning a golden hue, flattering her already natural beauty. I can’t have you now, I can’t do it, I don’t deserve it, Ricardo can’t want Kalina, I’m not worthy of her, and yet it didn’t stop me from stepping into her space. I returned her confused gaze with my heated one, reaching for her hand, feeling the soft skin of her fingers, curious if all of her felt this way. I caressed the arch of her pinkie finger, and then intertwined her fingers with mine, welding our fingers together and making us become one, her fingers fitted smoothly with mine. Her breath flittered over my face, taking in this moment, embracing her innate reaction to my proximity, of her fingers stroking mine, of her looking down at our joined fingers and looking back up, her mouth giving me her sweet, sweet smile.

I’m excited to see where this story goes. I hope you liked it if you read it and I hope to see you soon. Kind Regards, Konijja

Chapter Nine

Blog, Creative Writing

Trigger Warning: Bullying

15th October 2013

The sounds of lockers clanked and slammed synchronously, holding my school shirt in front of me to hide my chest as I change to my sports uniform. I put on the oversized top over my head, hastily changing my school trousers to my sports one, and my school shoes to my sports trainers. I looked around me to see if anyone was staring, relieved to find nobodies eyes on me. Silently sitting down on the changing room benches and I waited for the sports teacher to come in to indicate the start of the lesson. “He cheated on me, I just found out before the lesson, I don’t know what to do with myself, it’s so embarrassing and hurtful,” a girl near me cried, sniffling and blowing her nose. She wasn’t loud nor was she whispering, she was loud enough where I was able to hear her from my seating position, a girl beside me snickering “shame,” as she laughed, her eyes somewhat gleeful about the girl’s current affairs with her boyfriend. Her friends circled around her, keeping her hidden from starving eyes and ears, muttering words of consolation “he was a prick anyways, he didn’t deserve you.”

“What a dickhead,” another passionately said.

“It’s okay, you got away, you’re lucky and now you know better. No boy is worth your tears Katie,” a girl muttered, placing her arm around her shoulder, the three of them feeding her words of positivity. At that moment the teacher came in with her whistle instructing us to go to the gym, following the crowd to the gym, the cool air prickling my skin. The girls in the class were in their own cliques, I didn’t speak to anyone in this class so, I walked towards the teacher and sat down near her, watching her look over the students, waiting for them to be silent so she can talk. I hate physical education with a passion, from the locker rooms, changing in front of the class even if they are minding their own business to actually participating in the class. I hate it all, surrounded by snarky girls who pass their times judging and putting down other girls, thinking they are above everyone.

“If anybody talks while I am talking, you’ll be staying after school for half an hour,” she strewed, her eyes razor focused on all of us. Miss Riley proceeded with telling us what we will be doing in class, conveniently at the same time the door creaked open with pool of boys from my year. My nerves went in an overdrive at the prospects of boys, having to deal with the magnitude of being around so many people who will surely see me make a fool of myself and pick on me like it’s their sport. To make matters worse, Miss Riley said that we will be doing trampolining, I didn’t look around me, I couldn’t, my body was immobilised, caving into my safe space, guarding myself from the atrocities another school day would bring. “Come on, go and stand around the trampoline, don’t talk,” she demanded, clapping her hands when people weren’t listening.

I stood up, keeping my face smooth with no lines and emotions and walked to the only free space “butters,” he said, my skin tingled from the unwanted attention, keeping my heart guarded. I turned towards the voice inherently, “ugly, you’re ugly,” he tantalised with contempt, demeaning me, his eyes dark and vicious. “Ugly, Kalina, look at you so butters, so ugly,” I didn’t react at this point, I was used to it, it was a visit I faced everyday but that didn’t stop the pinch in my heart and the tears surfacing. He called me words of savagery the moment he found out I had a crush on him, he was in my design technology class, his teacher called out “Zain,” as he did the register, he was talking to the boys in his table, glanced at me and smiled. It was a stupid crush and now the brutal words have been his greeting to me and his parting farewell whenever he saw me, he was still looking at me as I stood beside the trampoline, “ugly, so butters,” he disparaged, a boy beside him smacking his shoulder, snickering along with him. It was a pointless action to ignore him, hoping he would stop and leave me alone but it wasn’t working so, I did the thing that made sense. I took in the words targeted towards me and believed him, he has been repeating those words for four years, there will come a point where you believe words that are said to you even if they aren’t true. “Kalina so ugly.”

“I am ugly,” I believed, ignoring the looks from the girls, they heard and snickered along with him. I stepped on the stool, pushed my body up and over the trampoline, following the teacher’s instructions, jumping ten times, doing star jumps ten times and then brought my legs out as I landed on the bottom of the trampoline. The bounce pushed me up straight once I pulled my legs to a standing position, lifting me forward, I counted the minutes until class was over, dreading the next class, the next person, wanting this hell to be over.

Anemone Symbol - Flower Symbol

The blackened space encased me, drowned me “ugly, look at your long hair, your hair and skin so oily, your skin so dark. Ew, look at your face, your nose, eyes and mouth. Kalina is so ugly,” the laughs pulsated through my body, the dark space intensified the shrill words which are becoming louder and louder. The vociferous sounds pierced my ears, the sharp sensation heightened with the raging voices. I instantly got up, my breath harsh, ears wet, eyes sensitive, the tears rolled down my face, soaking my skin, rolling down my neck and moistened my clothes, my hair sweaty and wet from the hot tears. The trembled lips, heavy heart, and ringing headache not halting the echoing words of the past, too far gone to stop it. I curled my body into my chest, pulled my legs up and bridged my face between my knees, hopelessly covering my ears, shutting my eyes closed in a failed attempt to stop the words. The cries of my body and hurt too strong to quiet the voices quaking in my head. “Stop, please stop. Stop, please stop,” I pleaded my body to listen, my tears stopped, my body halted their rocking movements, silently taking in the screaming words, listening as they cause mayhem inside my head, desperately reaching for something, anything I can hold onto.

My eyes instinctively closed as an image merged through the chaos, calming my frantic heart. I see him, his eyes on me, his body close to mine, his presence making me feel safe, embracing his acceptance of me. The two dimples that dug into his cheek, one was deeper than the other, the calmness of the vision washed over me, and stilled the erratic energy. “Ricardo,” I breathed, replacing the darkness with the likeness of his being, waiting in the dark for morning to come and for another day to start.

From the story in writing progress: Celestial Light.

Chapter Three

Blog, Creative Writing

Standing in front of the mirror, I studied my clothes, hair, face, and body, the insecurities crawling up the longer I stare at myself. “You’re not pretty, Kalina, your bullies were right. Your hair is too oily and long, your skin is too brown, and you smell like shit. Your friends left you, look at you so crippled with anxiety, a disease that controls your every move, creating paranoia around you, from all the people judging and cursing you with negative intentions.” Letting the tears roll down my cheeks, the tear from the left eye wetted my lips, the first set of tears stained my face and the second set of tears streamed down my neck and teased me. The thick façade crumbled my exterior, rivered through my body and into my inner being, the voices echoing and thundering inside my ears. I rushed my hands to my ears blocking the screeching voices, the mascara scarred face reflecting back on me, laughing, and mocking me. Disgusted by myself, my reflection that is utterly worthless.

I closed my eyes, slowing my breath, allowing the tears to run down my face. My stomach turned in becoming in tune with my deeply inhaled breath, intentionally keeping it in for ten seconds, feeling the inside of my body vibrate and then exhaling the sadness. I inhaled, the anxiousness dissipating and I exhaled, the energy within me renewing, resigning the melancholic feelings. Inhaling and exhaling. Inhaling and exhaling. Inhaling and exhaling.

Opening my eyes, I stared back at myself in the mirror “I feel pretty,” I whispered to myself, the quiet words dying out the screaming of my worked-up mind. Hearing the ping on my phone, I reached for it “hey Kalina, I’m on my way to the gallery now. Let me know when you’re here. See you, Micah,” it said, I grabbed my things and speeded down the steps of the house.

“Ma, I’m heading out. I’ll text you when I’ll be back because I don’t know when the event finishes,” I shouted across the hallway.

“Don’t think you’re going to leave without giving me a kiss. I’m glad you’re going out so, I’m assuming that you have made a friend,” mother voiced, quirked her eyebrow, and slanted a small smile.

“I guess, you can call Micah a friend.”

“I’m happy for you. Stay safe and have fun but not too much fun okay. Use your common sense when you’re out, you’re new to the city and text me when you have reached and when you’re on the way home, I’ll be waiting,” mother sterned.

“Okay, Ma, I love you. Bye,” I shouted after kissing her on the cheek.

“See you later, my dear,” I took the subway to east Harlem, the sun was still out, gleaming and radiating heat through the windows that burnt my skin. I welcomed the heat from the sun, enjoying the lightness and happiness it brought to the streets. Stepping out the station, I walked to the gallery. I saw Micah with a male and a female, my stomach dropped from the unplanned interaction I will be doing, Micah turned around once I’ve reached the group, a smile curling his face.

“Hey, Kalina. What’s up? Let me introduce you to some of my friends – this is Alejandro, he is a musician, he’ll be playing and performing this evening, and this is Aphrodite, she is a poet, does spoken words and is a community activist. Guys, this is Kalina, she goes to NYU with me, studying English Lit,” he started, his eyes big and excited.

“Sup Kalina, cool meeting you,” Alejandro began, Aphrodite smiled at me with a wave, her expression was warm and welcoming. I relieved a small grin in return, somehow feeling comfortable within the group. The four of us went inside, the hall was already packed with people, Micah carried his arm over my shoulder, bringing me closer to him. The floor vibrated under my feet, the music ricocheted through the room, bouncing off the walls, already feeling overwhelmed, regretted saying yes to Micah’s persuasive words. I blindly followed Micah’s body, my head tilted down, trying to gain control of my beating heart and nerves, walking through a narrow hallway, the space between me and the loud crowd distinguishing, I brought my head up to see where we were. Alejandro and Aphrodite murmured amongst themselves whilst Micah and I were walking quietly side by side. Alejandro turned a corner which had now become a wide room, loitered with people. Some were talking in groups whilst, the others were seated silently with their heads down, on their phone, or leaning back with their eyes closed.

“Where are we?” I whispered.

“We’re in the back room with the people who are going to perform this evening,” he casually let out, making it seem like this was normal for him. Aphrodite called out Micah’s name, beckoning him to her and he responded with a nod, dragging me with him. Aphrodite grinned towards us, her gaze staying on me for a while.

“Kalina, I want you to meet the man of the hour, the one who brought the community together through art: Ezra Rashid. I’ve been coming here for a year, I met Micah and Alejandro through this community. Since I have started coming here a year ago, my art had become more refined, I have found the people I resonate with and found a space where I felt like I belonged, I became more confident with my art and myself and met incredible people who are part of the creative world because of the community that has been formed. It couldn’t have been possible without Uncle Ezra,” she let out, her form oozed with gratitude and respect. He returned her response with a ruffle of her hair, he released a laugh, his head going backwards and his eyes sparkling.

“I’m simply a person who had a dream to bring communities together.” He turned to me, regarding me with an intense gaze, I felt like I’m at the edge of crumbling under his orbs, wanting to say something crude in defence.

“Micah says that you are a writer, that you want to be a poet. I have a sister who is a writer and a wife who owns a publishing house, so you could say that I am familiar with the writers and publishing world. This is a great place to discover yourself, find like-minded people, and become inspired,” he voiced, softly. “Welcome to the family, Kalina. I hope you feel at home here.” I didn’t say anything in response, I nodded my head as a form of acknowledgement and averted my eyes in an attempt to lighten the brewing feelings inside me that he sparked by his words. “Alright, it’s going to start now. Micah, go and stand upstairs, you’ll get the best views from there,” Uncle Ezra advised.

“Yes sir, come on,” Micah began. He grabbed my arm and pulled me through the swarms of people crowding over the makeshift stage.

“Why exactly did you invite me here?” I said once we were upstairs, with a clear and centred view of the stage which overlooked the people.

“I wanted you to see yourself in others. We’re all similar than you think, everyone is fighting their own darkness, overcoming their darkness and found the channels of art to express themselves. I want you to know that you are not alone, and to feel a community here. Some of the realest, authentic and creative people I’ve ever met are from here, we created our own family and I want you to be a part of it, to feel the greatness of connection, belonging and humanity,” he earnestly expressed. “You ready to get inspired?”

The words whirred something deep inside the canvas of my soul, I didn’t know what it was, but the emotion that stood out was gratitude and an inkling of joy “thank you, Micah.”

“What are friends for?” he shrugged with a crooked grin.

The crowd cheered, I looked straight ahead to the front of the room, the stage lights highlighted Ezra’s form, his face smiling and his body open and expressive. “Welcome to Tranquillity, we have a great line-up for you today. Are we excited community?” Ezra roared out to the crowd. The cheers boundlessly ensued with whops and cheers, the buzz in the air was infectious. “Thank you so much community for continuously showing out, supporting, and loving those who share their art. I’m so grateful for the community we have built together as well as, the supportive and empowering energy you guys always come out with. The first performer is an activist, an intersectional womanist, and a poet with a few words to share about gentrification. Show her some love,” Ezra boomed. A small smile shaped my face, feeling the exhilarated energy exuberating from the crowd to me, feeling the contagious energy wanting to burst through the seams of my body from the responsive crowd.

“A country, that is home to immigrants, travellers, settlers, and dreamers.

The organisation that brought us to the land, giving us scraps of rights and freedom without the liberation. Without giving us compensation for the mental suffering they had caused the generations of families who were hurt and traumatised. To immigrants figuring their lives from the diaspora, disparity, racism losing their homeland to white supremacy, colonialism, imperialism, wars, and slavery. Taking our livelihood, pockets of dreams, hopes, and home with them.

Feeding it to the rich, whilst the poor scrape by, their bodies tired and old. Fighting to live for one more day. A system that is built to break us…”Aphrodite looked powerful, her dark skin bright under the lights, her body and movements exuding passion, her fluffy, kinky curls fanning over her face and body moving in rhythm with her words, her stance strong and straight, her passionate words reaching every corner and rugged edge of the room. The room silent as they drink in her words, my heart beaten in sync with her words, her words resonating with my soul. Micah was beside me listening quietly, his face was serious and regarding her with reverence as he took in her piece of art. Aphrodite bowed her head once she finished, the room shaking with cheers, screams of support, love, and encouragement, my hands were hurting from my hard-slapping claps.

It took a while for the presenter to calm the crowd after she left the stage, still feeling the corollaries of her art piece. Once they calmed down, the presenter introduced a musician to the stage, his face couldn’t be seen from where I was upstairs. His hoodie covered half of his upper face and the sunglasses hidden his eyes. As soon as the beat dropped, he began rapping, his rhymes and flows slick, clever and clean, he seemed to be in his own world, his body moved frantically with his voice, feeling his voice in the base of my stomach, entranced and mesmerised by his presence, his words and music. Curious at who he is, the curiosity burning under my skin, “you know who he is?” I questioned to Micah, who was bobbing his head to the music.

“No, I don’t. But I know that he has been coming here quite often recently, he usually keeps to himself though. Nobody really knows him since he is pretty much silent and doesn’t mingle with anyone. No-one knows his name either, he calls himself Rico.”

“Huh, interesting.”

“Why, you interested?” he smirked, a knowingness in his eyes.

“No, his music is cool though.”

“Yeah, it’s pretty sick. What the scene needs, real and naturally talented musicians are hard to find now.”

“Yeah,” I agreed, watching his body move with the music, admiring his sound.

Wanted to post a lighter chapter. I haven’t set out a concrete plan of how this is going, nor do I know how it is going. I have imaginations and stories in my head and simply going with the flow. If you see this, thank you for reading it. I appreciate it and it means a lot. I hope to see you again. Kind Regards, Konijja

Chapter One

Blog, Creative Writing

The lights were everywhere, flashes from the camera were blinding, gnawing at my face, “we’re close,” Micah said. He grasped my arm firmly with his hand, holding my body close. I leaned my head down, the long strands of hair cocooned my face, keeping my face hidden from the greedy, seedy cameras.

“I hate this,” I whispered already wanting out of this. I exhaled a breath once we’ve reached inside the hotel, calmness cascading through me. The anxiousness slowly seeped away, surrounded by throngs of people speaking loudly, huddling in circles with people they know. I looked around, staring blankly at the unfamiliarity, the agitation creeping up as I stare around me to be enveloped amongst strangers. “I hate this,” I repeated.

“I know you do. This is for the greater good. Once you’re not needed, once we have shown our appearance we’ll be gone, okay?” Micah said.

“Yes please,” I returned. For the first time, a small smile shaped my face since I showed up to this event. My skin crawled at the fake glamour, happiness, love, this farce game deluding us that we’re doing the greater good, that we’re part of something extraordinary, when we’re just money makers to them. Nothing is real about this world because everyone is dealing with their own form of darkness. The smiles revealed nothing but fakery, hidden behind their expensive clothes, jewellery and pinned up hairdos, shaping up a face of their suffering and toxicity.

“Come on, let’s find our seats,” he urged. He lightly pushed me forward, guiding my body with his hand on the small of my back to our table. I looked straight ahead, ignoring the greetings from strangers passing by, dismissing their offensiveness of being ignored. Nobody cares about your little feelings being hurt, why should I care when nobody cares about me? It takes two to tango, baby. “It’s no harm to say hello and how are you, you know. It doesn’t indicate any interest, nor does it open the idea of a friendship or acquaintance. I think they don’t bite,” Micah whispered as he pulled my chair out, waiting for me to be seated until he took his seat beside me in the circular table.

“It’s all fake. Doesn’t mean anything,” I let out. “Not like I see them on a regular basis, it’s small talk. Who likes small talk please? They don’t really care Micah.”

“Were you always such a pessimist, how are we friends?” he laughed.

“Because you love me,” I countered.

“And because you love me too,” he quipped, his eyes light and humorous, his expression warm and kind.

“Yeah, I do,” I shrugged, releasing a second smile of the evening.

“Good evening, ladies and gentlemen, it is lovely to see all of you. Welcome to the Golden Gala event, thank you so much for taking the time to attend it. In this event, we raise money annually towards a charity that resonates with us. This year it is raising money for orphaned children who are left without a family. We will donate money to an orphanage that we believe truly serves in the right interest of the children and the children only. We will donate to Haven Orphanage. I would like to acknowledge the dedication and hard work of our talented volunteers, committees, and team, this event wouldn’t have been possible without them.” The audience erupted in cheers and claps, displaying thankfulness towards them. Mr. Malcome smiled and relieved a laugh in response, slowly indicating to the audience to be quiet so he could continue with his introductory speech. “Thank you again for attending the Golden Gala of 2020. I am certain you will be glad you did. Now, I will welcome the stage to Mrs. Simone Montgomery, the founder of Haven Orphanage.” The servers were working swiftly as they placed down the food and drinks on the tables, asking me if I needed anything, I responded with a ‘no’ and ‘thank you.’ Playing with my food as the hunger was non-existent. Micah openly helped himself to my food, shrugging his shoulders when I stared at him with a questionable look.

“We shouldn’t be wasting food,” he simply commented. Pushing my plate towards him, grateful that he has a big appetite to eat for two. I pushed my chair backwards, I get out of the hall, the toxicity within the atmosphere was too heavy on my chest, walking up the flights of stairs towards the rooftop, the more I walked up, the quieter the space between me and the loud people drowned out. Silence. I enjoyed silence, it’s simple, and quiet. There is only me and my company in silence, there is no other second person, chaos, ache, or complications. There is only me, me and aloneness is simple, easy, and painless. I let out a breath when I found it was only me in the rooftop, relieved to find it empty. I watched the burning lights illuminating brightly from the buildings as they floated with each other. The sky-scraping buildings varying in shapes, widths, lengths, creating infinity with the buildings which were luminescent and contrasted vividly from the dark sky.

Leaves that had fallen on the floor from the chilled breeze were crunching, the footsteps weren’t heavy nor light, rather sounded calculated and hesitant. Turning my head to the sound, to see a person, the figure stayed behind the shadow, but I knew from the build and form it was a male. “Who is it?” I let out, portraying a hint of annoyance, he never responded. The vellicate of my impatience was rising higher, more annoyed than unnerved, “do you understand English? I said who is it and what are you doing here?” I pressed. I kept my gaze on the figure that was hiding behind a dark shadow of the towering plants and flowers.

“It’s me,” he said, he came out of the bleak shadows. I recognised the voice even after years of not seeing him. My heart constricted against my chest and tears welled up in my eyes within seconds of seeing his face. The potty words disappeared and fallen short from my mouth, the silence between us was deafening. Heaviness of my sorrows pushed against my body, masking the intense sadness and devastation with my anger.

“What are you doing here? Why are you here?”

“I was invited to come here I didn’t know that you were here until I saw you come in. You’ve been avoiding me for years, I have been looking for you, but I couldn’t, until now. I want to talk to you. How are you?” he began as if we could continue like the old times.

“Fine, you don’t need to worry about me. There is no need to want to talk to me, there is no reason to talk. If you didn’t want to talk then, you don’t need to talk now. It’s okay, I’m okay, you seem okay, and that is great,” I expressed with sarcasm, trying to keep the sadness at bay but seeing his face, hearing his voice, being near him after so many years that passed, I didn’t know if I could control the emotions searing inside of me.

“I’m not okay, Kalina, I think about you since that day, I regret it every day and I’m sorry for everything.”

“You shouldn’t lie, Ricardo. Don’t you know lying is a sin? I should have known better, but I didn’t. I don’t want you here, it is what is it, and you’re forgiven, you can leave now,” I said, my heart hurt from all of this, my breath became shorter as the familiar anxiety arose beneath my skin.

“Come on, don’t be like that, what I said all those years ago was the truth, it is still the truth now. I have never lied to you, believe me, Kalina.”

“How dare you?” I started, tired of being civil, of being patient. The top of the sinus tickled as the tears have started to prickle my eyes, blurring my vision.

“Kalina, stop it. Stop trying to avoid me, please. I don’t want to run from this anymore, I don’t want to run away from you anymore, don’t run away from me.”

“Yes, yes, I can, and I will run away from you because I can, I want to, I need to. You’re not safe for me or my heart. You hurt me, you hurt me and you knew what you did would hurt me.”

“I thought I was protecting you. I didn’t mean to hurt you, I’m tired and I don’t want to run away from you anymore. I want you to talk to me.”

“Nothing to talk about here. What is done is done, I didn’t need you to protect me, I wanted your honesty and your truth. I put so much into you I didn’t have anything for myself at the end. You’ve hurt me, you knew I was hurting, and you did it anyways. Get away, go away from here,” my voice got higher with each octave, the relentless tears streamed down my face, my heart burning and squeezing, the pain becoming unbearable. Needing him out of here so he doesn’t see my resolve shatter “go away, get out of here,” I shouted into abyss, nobody here to save me from myself, from him. Beating at his chest, going crazy, wanting him to see me crazy to drive him away. Him being here opened my heart wide open, the pain fresh and my mind travelling back to time of me and him. Pounding my shaped fists against his chest “get out, I don’t want you here. You hurt me,” I cried.

“I’m so sorry, I’m so sorry. I didn’t mean to, hurting you hurt me too. I’m so sorry,” he chanted, his hands covered my fisted hands, stopping their attacks on his chest.

“Get out of here,” I whispered. “You’re dangerous,” the tears streamed down my cheeks, through my neck, and wetting my chest. Frantic footsteps and harsh breath appeared in front of me. The intensity of my emotions consumed me, shaking me to the core. A devastated gasp released from my lips as the moment sunk in, my body dropped to the floor, Micah caught my body before it collapsed, the shrill cries turning into silent hiccups and wheezing. “Tell him to get away, Micah. Tell him to go away,” Micah sighed, his hands wrapped around me, whispering consoling words of validation and hope.

“Go on Ricardo,” Micah said quietly.

“I’m sorry Kalina, I’m sorry for everything,” he ended, his footsteps pelted the ground, echoing in my ears as he faded away into the darkness.

If you see this, I assume you have come to the end of the chapter. This is a new story, inspired by heavy feelings and an overactive mind. It is a longer version of a short story I had created called Celestial Light, and it felt like the right time to give depth and substance to the short story. Thank you for reading, I hope you liked it. This is one of many drafts and hope to see you again. Regards, Konijja.

Talking to the Moon.

Blog, Story

The clouds cocooned the moon, the moon was lustrous like a fluorescent light illuminating against the darkness. Stars sprinkled amongst the sky, flickering their celestial galaxies. The ocean was luminescent from the burning glow of the moonlight. The ocean created waves as they hit the shore, the coolness washing over my sand pillowed feet. My heart full, my soul sound, enveloped within Earth’s nature. The crisp air clinched onto my skin, the waves moving in sync with the gentle gust of the wind. The silence comforting, the tranquil sounds of crashing waves stirred my soul, feeling lightheaded and hazy, from the peace of my heaven.

I brought my knees against my chest, wrapped my arms around my body with the wind blowing my hair away from my face. A small smile danced around my lips, gazing up at the moon, and the moon emitted brightly away from the clouds, whispering sweet sweet gratitudes to the moon and the celestial orbs. “Nobody really knows what it is yet, we do feel it. We don’t know what it means yet, we do seek it. We crave it. When we have it in front of us, we don’t see it. We yearn for love, regretting the missed opportunities and fearful for the future potentials. Unclear about what the future holds; hoping, wishing and wanting” I say absent-mindedly, the clouds circled the moon. The glow intensified almost as if my words were being heard. “We don’t know what love is still, we yearn it. The pangs of longing sharpening within the chambers of the heart. I miss him. He isn’t listening. Can you see him? The thoughts of him filling my head. The stars can see him too huh? We don’t know what love is yet, we yearn for it. Creating imaginations in our heads and being disappointed by our delusions. He doesn’t want me, wants me to wait for him.” I paused, gathering my thoughts. I looked up at the one star that is shimmering deeply than the others.

The ocean ricocheted in rhythm with the stinging sensation unfurling within my chest. “Waiting. The highs of your hopes and lows of your dreadful thoughts of insecurities and uncertainties. You are the sacrificial lamb, who has to wait until it is convenient for them to want you. Waiting is like the tones of sadness prolonging, not knowing when the next storm surges. I miss him, he isn’t listening. Can you see him?” I questioned quietly, my nose tickling from the cold. “Waiting for someone is like willingly pausing your life, at an impasse. Waiting for them to come back and press play for your life to resume again, from when they were in your life. It’s not his fault, I suppose. I have chosen to wait because these hopeless feelings never falter. Feelings another crazy notion” I murmured, my voice muffled from the notes of the fierce ocean. “Feelings… feelings… the unfamiliar sensations trickling through your veins, pulsing once it reaches your heart. The vessels of the heart pumping, thrashing against your chest and blooms. Coming alive once your eyes reach for the person that it desires. Galaxies intertwining and rejoicing from your reunion. Feelings are simple, delicate human experiences however, they can be paralysing and complicating when your being isn’t nourished. The foreign vibrations making you feel unhinged, crazy. The Universe laughing at our despair but, soothes us with unconditional kindness of our blessings that are yet to come,” I ended. My fingers played with the sand. The moon arose higher, the gleaming light glistened. The chaos was quiet as the being savoured Earth’s gifts. “I miss him,” I said, lightly. One lone tear travelled down my face, fading away into the sand. Staying still as the breeze tenderly touched my skin. My eyes closed, and body lax; a deep presence within me. Inviting his energy, a soul presence that never left my heart, the comfort and security enwreathed my body, gripping my heart. The moon hidden in behind the clouds, that one flickering star gone. The fallen, shooting star.

“He is listening,” whispered the Universe.

The Date

Creative Writing, Romance

Waking up to the birds chirping harmoniously amongst each other, the blinding sun seeping through the windows. A smile was worn on my face and my body singing lightly, humming with anticipation of the day ahead. My phone pinging with a “good morning. I will be picking you up at 10” text from Ezra. Browsing through my closet, at a loss of what to wear that is light, comfortable, and sexy. Deciding to pair a cream coloured bandeau top with a long red skirt, that had a slit stopping on top of my thigh along with, strappy brown sandals that are low heeled. My make-up lightweight and skin-like, designing braided strands to sit on top of my head and creating soft wavy curls. Accompanied by a plain silver bracelet, hooped earrings, diamond, chain styled armband, with simple, intricate stoned rings on my fingers and finishing it off with traditional anklets on both ankles. Feeling proud of the look I have put together.

With five minutes to spare, I quickly store away my products and go downstairs to drink water in an attempt to calm my nerves. The bell ringing in time of 10, walking down the corridor simultaneously, maintaining my controlled breathing, and open the door. He looked devilishly handsome even with, the simplicity of his clothing. His eyes bright, his golden pigmented skin glistening, glowing from the blazing, hot sun. Moving into his body for an embrace, circling my arms around his neck and resting my face on his shoulder, inhaling his clean scent. Ezra lifting me off the ground, tightening his hold on my body. Kissing my neck, murmuring “I missed you” into my skin. “I missed you too” I uttered, his body sensational against mine. Putting me down, he reached for my mouth, kissing me languidly, deepening the kiss. Freeing a moan from my lips as he snakes his tongue inside my mouth whilst, his hand squeezes my ass smiling against my mouth. Releasing my lips, he placed his forehead against mine “hi” he said.

“Hi” I replied.

“You look beautiful, Luna” he whispered, his raspy voice heating my body, warmness entering my heart.

“Thank you, you don’t look bad yourself” I returned, feeling my face burn.

“Ready?” he questioned.

“Yes, just need to grab my bag and lock the door” I answered. Once, I have grabbed my bag from the couch and locked the front door. We walk with our hands clasped together. Feeling blissful.

“No car?” I wondered.

“No, we will be using the subway and if need be, we will be using the taxi.”

“Okay,” I replied. With the sun looking down at us, the trees gently swaying in sync with the summer breeze. With the children loitering around the streets playing, people strolling and talking to each other, and smells of food drifting through the air. I just know, it was going to be the most perfect day and one of the memorable days that I will hold onto. Internally thanking God for this life, for this moment.

We took the subway to our first stop being the Time Square, the buildings and billboards surrounding me, making me feel alive, freeing me. Walking through the streets, never letting go of each other’s hands. Ezra narrating, telling me the history of the buildings along with, the infamous, touristy landmarks. Going towards Rockefeller Center. “You would love this” he stated.

“I would?”

“Mhmm” we walk towards the sky-scraping building, the elevator taking us to the highest floor. Stepping into the floor, my breath hitches, my mouth opening wide as I stare at the view encircling me. Speechless and completely in awe.

“Wow,” I whispered. Turning to Ezra, to find him staring at me with a smile.

“Beautiful” he uttered, knowing we are not speaking about the same thing, hugging my body to his in silent appreciation.

We stayed there for a while, staring outside at the view of New York City, staring at people going on with their lives and living their lives. Feeling like I am in the air like I am flying as if I am infinite. The first part of the day continuing to visiting touristy places consisting of me gushing and getting excited over anything and everything, and Ezra laughing at me.

We stop at a coffee place, the aromatic blends of roasted coffee salivating my senses. The shop was quaint, cute. The staff friendly and welcoming, people coming in and out. With our coffees at hand, we take a stroll to Central Park. The energies in the park were contagious and delightful. People milling in the park with their dogs, children, or with their friends. Some jogging, others sitting on the benches or the grass eating or mingling. Walking up the hill which overlooks the city, sitting in silence on the bench for a few moments, “I always come here. Every morning when I am on my run. I would come and sit on this bench, stay here for a while, and look out as the sun rises. Seeing the rising sun making me feel powerful, bringing me calmness, tranquillity. One of my favourite places in this city” he said. Staring at him in wonder, then staring at the pictorial display of buildings in front of me. The searing sun blazing, beaming radiantly amongst the clouds, the sky. Adorning the Earth with its presence, providing and gifting us moments that will be ingrained in our memories. Shining its light upon us.

“I get you” I muttered, my grip on his fingers tightening. Loving and holding onto each and every moment and coming alive.    

Following his lead, taking in the streets we pass, the vendors and pull-up trucks. Each area attaining distinct characteristics, telling different stories. The rowdiness of the crowds intensifying as people fight for certain items and negotiating prices for a discount. The silence between us comforting and peaceful. Looking up at Ezra to see him staring at me with a smile of his own. The pathway getting higher, the scenery changing from foods to clothes, to souvenirs and now arts. The stream of different arts, paintings from classical to contemporary abstract pieces. We take a taxi to Brooklyn Bridge, Ezra’s words “to have a mean ass pizza, that’s going to fuck you up.” I get it, I get why people become so awestruck, going through the bridge, the windows down and the wind blowing my hair away from my face. Overlooking the masses of buildings, the soaring creations merging and putting on a show. It was paradise. The embryonic, ancient pillars formed with elegant, soft arch providing an incredible experience with its beauty. The idea of living my imaginations, my dreams, the way it is playing outside my head making me emotional. My eyes watering, the happiness that is blooming inside me becoming indescribable. Looking over at Ezra, I reach for his hand and caress the skin mouthing “thank you. Lightly whispering “this is perfect” appreciation heightening for the man beside me.

The pizzeria was charming and cute, with the staff talking a mix of English and Italian. The fragranced aroma of cheese, tomato, and charred smokiness of dough permeating the air. The open concept kitchen, chatting, patting, and sounds of making pizza, the noisiness of people – the energy infectious and wholesome. The waiter seats us on a corner booth, direct view of the skyline making this happening more memorable and magical. Ezra decides on the pizza and their drink selection. Telling me to “trust him on this”, we aimlessly talk and look over at the Brooklyn Bridge, the sunset surface from the clouds, titivating the city’s skyline once the waiter took our order. “How many activities are left after this,” I ask.

“Two, if we have time maybe three. You wouldn’t know because it’s a surprise” he stated with an expressive glint.

“Hmmm. I wonder what they are” I feigned, curiously.

“Keep on thinking” he knowingly returned. A bottle of a bubbly drink and two glasses were placed on the table.

“Me too. What is your favourite known fact” I questioned?

“The Universe is 13 billion years old. That there are multiverses that exist other than this Universe. The notion of nothing is real. In actuality, there is no truth, there is no right and wrong. Necessarily, beliefs don’t exist, it is simply ideations we have created to make our lives purposeful, meaningful – it is man-made. There is no society, but a system that conditions us into a way of living, that controls us” he ended abruptly, looking nervous and shaking his head in an attempt to shake away the jitters.

“You want to continue” I whispered, smiling. “You don’t need to stop when you feel yourself getting in too deep. It was nice to see you become passionate, in the way you were getting lost inside your mind with your thoughts. Allowing them to run. I think it is hot too” I said.

“I usually don’t speak aloud about these notions. A lot don’t seem to understand, nor do they want to understand. Don’t wanna scare you off” he confessed,

“Not scared just, turned on” I laughed.

“Yeah” he countered with heated eyes. His eyes lowering to my mouth. Instinctively licking my mouth. Damn it.

“Mhmm” I affirmed. “Do you believe we were meant to stumble upon each other, I know you said that you felt you were supposed to meet me, that me coming into your life was fulfilling in some way. But, do you think we were put together through destiny or manifesting each other? I think some part of me did. You were exactly what I was looking for”.  

“I do. The first time I met you in that coffee shop, I dreamt of you in the night of. I was paralysed in my sleep and you were the one who got me out. You calmed me, bringing me back to life. When I talk about you, nobody understands the way I feel about you. With only having moments together, talking to each other once, nobody knew how you could feel the surge of energy, a deep connection with someone you just met. I didn’t know how and why either. But that never stopped thoughts running inside my mind, it didn’t stop the feelings of longing, hope emerging from within. I didn’t stop dreaming about you or imagining you during daylight. It never stopped the intense, growing energy within my soul that stilled until the moment I had met you again” he voiced. My heart heavy from his words, not from sorrow or pain. Rather, the words he uttered was what I experienced too, living in the same state, it was my life. I felt it too. Love is not conjured up to feelings, thoughts, or actions. It is energy so profound, so unheard of it will shake you, it will slam into your face and turn your world upside down. What you thought suddenly doesn’t exist, doesn’t mean anything. Love is an essence that binds you before you even meet, bonding and fusing two lovers together. Only essence that responds to purity and chasteness of connection shared by two beings, through vulnerability and appreciation. Ezra is my destiny. I knew that the moment we separated ways in London.

“I know Ezra,” I say with a shaky voice at the revelation I made in my head. The pizza arriving before I could say anything else. It didn’t stop us from looking into each other’s eyes and saying all the things that affirmed the words that were spoken and felt.

“I am thankful for you, Ezra. Thank you for coming into my life” I expressed.

“Thank you, Luna, for coming into my life” he returned.

Digging into a slice of doughy cheesy, flavourful goodness, each bite becoming tastier and mouthwatering. Confirming that Ezra knew exactly what he was doing, making me fall in love with New York through his lenses. Immersing ourselves with our talks and food, we stayed until the dusk. The sunset becoming starry, the lights bringing the city alive and the streets becoming busier. The brisk air outside crisp, washing over my skin in a warm and tender embrace. Brooklyn bustling, alive; the Bridge lit up, with the lights of the towering view of buildings. Displaying the magnificent vision of art.

“Ready for what is next?” he said with a smirk.

“Do I get to know?” I inquired.

“Nope. Not until we are there” he replied.

“Then what was the point of saying if I am ready” I jokingly, remarked.

“Well you are in for a treat” he responded. Waving his hand out to stop a taxi.

The streets at night was a different experience. The drive to Manhattan going smoothly, driving through the Bridge was euphoric, elation travelling through my veins. The driver going to the theatre district, I study the people in costumes milling in the corners of streets close by to the theatres. Lines of people waiting outside the theatres, the buzz in the air energising, invigorating. “Ezra,” I say, prolonging his name towards the end “what are we doing here” I questioned.

“You will find out soon. Sir, you can leave us here” Ezra murmured to the driver, paying him with cash and opens the door to his side muttering “wait”. He rushes to my side of the car, opening the door for me and offered me his hand. Smilingly I take his hand whilst giggling, couldn’t help it.

“Thank you. You’re cute” I gushed as Ezra intertwined our fingers, walking to the pavement.

“I have my moments” he returned with a radiant smile. He guided us through the crowd, shielding me with his body from the wild throngs of people. “It is Saturday evening, I anticipated this. But I guess something is happening tonight so, there are more people than usual” he voiced.

“I know, I am not worried” I responded.

“That’s good” he returned.

We stop at a building situated in the centre of the street. The huge pillars holding up the majestic, Victorian-like building which is swarmed with people. People outside waiting in line and those inside getting ready for the show. A poster of Hamilton stuck on the bricked wall “Ezra” I muttered, pointing at the wall and quirking an eyebrow. I didn’t need him to say anything with his smile becoming bigger, widening and his eyes shining brightly. “No way” I quietly shriek “what” I exclaim. “How did you know?”

“You mentioned how much you loved Hamilton soundtrack when we were discussing current music favourites. Saying how you wished you could see it live. So, I had to make it happen” he stated. Making a beeline through the line reaching inside his jacket and handing the usher the tickets. When approved he moved to the side, Ezra and I step into the grand, magnificent building. Absolutely and awfully at awe as my eyes take in every display of art and the interior design. I am in love. I am in heaven, this must be what heaven feels like. Turning to Ezra, I hug his body tightly to mine. Running my fingers through his strands. Sinking my face into his neck, while he pulls me into him “thank you so much, Ezra. I won’t forget these moments ever” I vehemently uttered. Complete adoration and admiration for the man. Thanking the Universe, God, the heavens and high water for bringing him into my life.

“No problem. Anything for you Luna. I want you to have the best experience of this city” he expressed.

“You won. You won with me” I replied, pushing my body from his, caressing his skin.

“Come, let us go to our seats,” he said. Placing his hand behind my back and guiding me in the direction of our seats.  The theatre was constructed with timbers, the thick wood creating circular motions in the roof. Anticipation and apprehensiveness sinking into my skin with giddiness rushing through in love with everything surrounding me. My hands shaking and clamming up, breath hitching as the lights dim low and the curtains ensue, gradually revealing the stage. The chatter amongst people transforming into cheers, and clapping eventually, dying down. The floors vibrating as the sounds come alive, my hands slapping over Ezra’s instantly, shrieking with excitement. The play moving beautifully, stirring emotions as the plays progress the music making me feel high, unabashedly singing and rapping the lyrics. Trying to maintain quietness as I do, receiving weird looks and side-eyes from those around me. Filling my heart with inspiration, admiration for the play and love for the meaning of the play, for what it brings, what it stands for along with, the stories from different people and communities. Enthusiastically standing up from my seat, clapping my hands, whopping, screaming and cheering once it ended. Looking at Ezra, to see him with the same elation, the room vibrating with love and joy. The lights coming back on as curtain begins to close. People getting ready to leave, whilst I stay seated on my seat and take it all in. The overwhelming emotions wanting to be purged, to be released. Tears arise from the corner of my eyes, allowing them to fall. The whole day feeling like a floating dream, surreal with no words coming to describe the emotions rushing through me. Ezra quiet as he hands me a tissue, running his hand through my back muttering “it is okay, I think I did a bit too much today” he chuckled nervously.

“No, no you didn’t. It was perfect. Everything was perfect” I voiced, clasping our fingers and stroking his skin. Wiping away the remaining tears, I stand up to get ready to leave. Ezra following suit, going down the expansive, carpeted stairs, looking around me and taking it in for the last time. The chilly air rushing through the open doors as Ezra pulled the door for me to go first. Rain falls slowly, the air still warm with a hint of a breeze. Without thinking I turn to Ezra, and I kiss him. Fusing our lips together, gripping the material of his shirt, melding our lips, Ezra returning the kiss just as passionately. Wrapping my arms around his neck, gripping strands of his hair as he kisses my top lip then my bottom, sucking it and dragging it out, releasing a moan. He picked me up, wrapping my legs around his waist. My hands reaching, tenderly touching any skin that I can find as our tongues dance in a twist. The rain intensifying, welting down on us. Savouring this rainy dream-like state, feeling like the scene from The Notebook as I communicate my words of how I feel, the way he makes me feel. My hair sticking to my skin, not wanting this moment any other way. Breaking the kiss, I put my forehead against his chin. Regaining my breathing, my heart hammering against my chest, my body pulsing with pleasure, fire and affection for this man. Closing my eyes, as he kisses my forehead. My skin wet from the rain, but, uncaringly staying attached to his body as he sways his body, keeping me close to him. Ignoring the ways we’re seen in the street.

“Be my girlfriend” he bluntly said. Raising a laugh from me, quietening down watching his eyes displaying his emotions.

“Say it again” I whisper, running my hands through his strands, he puts me down, cupping both sides of my face.

“Be with me Luna, be my girlfriend” he gently murmured.

“Okay. Boyfriend” I breathed, not needing to think with my stomach floating with butterflies. Both smiling with our foreheads pressed against each other, embracing this moment and of each other’s presence. “Thank you, Ezra, this was everything that I dreamt and wished for. This was perfect, so perfect it will be deeply embedded within my brain. Seems like a dream” I voiced.

“Anything for you baby” he returned. “Still have time for another activity,” he asked.

“You can take all the time in the world from me, I feel like I am living pass time. I just want to be with you” I expressed. Tired of thinking of what to say, what not to say, wanting to talk freely and not be afraid. We hailed a cab to the next destination, my heart filled with fulfilment, peace and deep-seated, growing emotions.

The ride to the next destination was short. Aloofness sinking in, having no idea why we are here, at 10 pm with everything closed except, for the food places. People filling the street, the vibrancy intensifying as the night lived on. The taxi stopped and Ezra opened the door for me, stepping out with a “thank you”.

“You don’t have to do that every time, you know,” I said.

“I like doing it. When you’re with me, I will always want to open the doors for you, to treat you in a certain way. It makes me happy” he responded gently.

“Okay. Only for you. I’m just used to doing things on my own, so it makes me feel weird”.

“Well, you have me now” he replied.

Being so enamoured by his energy, I wasn’t aware of where we were, that I was taking steps in front of me. Studying the scene in front of me, the dim lights cascaded around the pillars, the classic, vintage-like architecture was stunning. Halting, my eyes widening, my mouth opening in shock, realising where he was taking me.

“Ezra” I whispered.

“Welcome to The Met,” he said softly.

“How. We can’t, it is closed” I responded.

“I have a close acquaintance with the manager of The Met, he owed me some favours, so I used one of them for taking you here. He relented, giving me the keys for them yesterday evening”.

“Ezra, this is amazing”.

“I anticipated we might be late, so, I couldn’t take chances”.

“Ezra, who are you” I uttered, so dazed with everything. Responding with his deep chuckle, which is becoming one of my favourite sounds. “Ezra you didn’t have to do all of this,” I said, meaning every word. He went above and beyond, leaving me stunned with how to respond, and amazed that a man like him existed.

“I wanted this to be special, memorable. To me, it is catching up with all the missing moments we didn’t get to share”.

Ezra opens the entrance door once we have reached the top of the steps. Once locked, we quietly walked inside, the hall eerie with its darkness.

“I am going to take you somewhere. Just trust me okay” he whispered.

“Okay,” I replied. Using the torch on his phone to guide us the way, we take the elevator to the top floor. We continue walking, passing a café to a rooftop view of the city’s skyline. Putting my hands on my mouth as I gasp, my eyes begin watering. In disbelief of what is in front of me. It was stunning, dreamy, and romantic. “Oh my god” I breathed, my breath becoming uneven.

“Ezra, this is so wonderful. How did you do this” I asked?

“I had my sister in law come up. She is a wedding planner, she knew about you. I described the way I wanted this to be and she knew how I wanted it. She came in the evening, right before The Met was closing”.

“Ezra,” I said, my voice weakening, tears relentlessly falling. The scene in front of me was gorgeous. Rose petals scattered around the floor, surrounded by small candlelit lamps, encircling a blanket that accompanied an enclosed basket.

“I was hoping to stargaze here, I thought this was perfect inside the city with the moon out” he whispered. Taking my hand, kneeling in the makeshift blanket. Ezra bringing the basket to us, revealing two glasses, a bottle of sparkling champagne along with, fruits and doughnuts.

“Interesting combination of food,” I commented.

“I knew we would be stuffed, only things I can think of that would be light. Doughnuts being the dessert for the day” he replied. Unscrewing the bottle, pouring us both a glass whilst, I bring the food to us and open the fruits. Leaving the doughnuts inside the basket for later. I look out at the breathtaking vision in front of me, the full moon glowing luminously against the dark, night sky. The stars glistening, twinkling, shining their celestial lights upon us with the illuminating lights from the buildings, bringing the city alive. The picturesque visuals making me feel light, infinite.

“Thank you so much,” I said.

“Stop saying thank you. I wanted to do this for you, for us. You being here, your reactions is all I needed” he responded, smiling, his skin glowing from the moonlight. My safe haven. Pulling me to his lap, between his legs. I push myself closer to his body, the warmth and safety of his arms were blissful. Looking out at the spectacular sight, I call my home, the Universe providing me with peace, stillness as they bless us with miracles. Feeling like Ezra and I only exist on Earth, cherishing this moment as we both sit in silence and gaze out at the scenery. Time is still, life is in a pause as we live in the moment.

“I like you a lot, Luna. You came into my life and changed everything. I haven’t been the same since I have met you” he voiced, against my ear. His breath fanning over my skin, closing my eyes as it electrified me.

“Me too,” we both discard the drinks and turn to lie down. Both inseparable, as I lay my head on his chest, looking up at the starry sky. Stargazing, talking about everything and nothing, stars enveloping us, the moon blessing us with her presence. Thankful. The end of a perfect day.

(A scene from the current story. Simply wanted to share for becoming attached to the characters. Living vicariously through the characters and how precious this story has become for me. If you have read it till the end, thank you so much. Truly appreciate it)

Fate

Creative Writing, Love

Ezra

My throat filled with fluid, reaching down my body. Keeping me down, leaving me fighting to get to the shore. In futile. Left paralysed, as my body is submerged under water. My body smothered with water, immersing deeply into the well of hollowness with no way to flee. “No. Help” I hear myself scream. The bleak darkness drowning, flooding me into a sinking void. “Please. Stop it” I hoarsely whisper, spiralling in and out of consciousness, trying to escape. My closed eyes swarming with bright light, leaving me momentarily hazed. My body tightening, seizing as I have become delirious. Feeling uncontrollable as my chest constricts with my throat compressed into knots unable to bring in oxygen. “Stop. Stop” I inwardly whisper, needing to leave this hellish trance. Beams of intense luminosity emerging in my vision. Glowing, brown eyes alighting, their breath exhaling. Yielding my body to arch, the heaviness of my chest relinquishing in sync with their breathing. Immersing me into calmness, oxygen coming back to me as my throat clears. The illuminating, brown eyes rising, providing tranquillity. Serenity washes over me as the feminine voice lulls “breathe” in a hushed murmur. “Breathe” the soft voice repeats again. My eye flashing open, unblinkingly staring at the naked walls, sweat gathering around my forehead and body. With a fast-beating heart and heavy breathing, I get out of bed and into the bathroom. Splashing water on my face, washing away the last remnants of the nightmare.

Anxiousness simmering inside my body, adrenaline bursting through my veins as I walk to my makeshift painting area. The blank canvas mimicking the end of the dream, creating the image that surfaced in my dream. Itching with dire need to be released and created. The dark sky, transforming into early morning with birds chirping. Not with the times and hours, as I sunk myself into running away from the hallucinating illusion. Turning the heaviness that is left in my body into a state of peace. Finishing the touches of the latest painting I have curated. With the rest of my paintings already in the gallery I am prepared for the exhibition. As I brush the last stroke, I step back exhaling at the wonder that my eyes lay on. As I let it sit for two hours, I begin to shower and get ready to convince the head curator to put this forward with the rest of the art.

Taking an uber to the gallery, my mind lingers on the stranger women I had the seconds with, lightly hoping I will bump into her again. Somehow not being able to forget. Walking with intention as I have reached the entrance, I see Miguel dressed in colourful clothing, an open chested red shirt, black artisan blazer and trousers with unique designs. Miguel was a European Spanish man whom I have met in New York art exhibition in my art gallery. Within seconds we hit it off, talking about the arts culture, our favourite artists and collections. Since then we have stayed in contact with each other and maintained a friendship relation.

He greets me with enthusiastic arm movements as soon as he sees me, eyeing the black bag in my hand. “I need this piece to be included in the exhibition” I demand bluntly. Miguel stares at me, piercing me with emotionless eyes that wants to tell me off for a cold welcome. But he needs to know my seriousness when I don’t have time to play nice. He signals for me to follow him, heading to his office upstairs. Once we have reached, he closed the door behind me, I lay the bag on the empty table, unravelling the painting for Miguel’s eyes. He stands beside me, taking in a sharp breath, without saying another word he turns towards me “is this who I think it is” he questions. Knowing what his underlying words mean “yes” I utter, “this needs to be in the exhibition, it completes the collection perfectly” I continue. With Miguel in deep thought, I shake away the jitters that comes with being patient, suddenly sighing in admission he says “okay, we can make adjustments. She must be beautiful, for you to be bothered like this” he jokes, but his eyes reflecting respect. Miguel was a person who embraced vulnerability, he never let the ego drive him into making his decisions, he enjoyed being in companies that think alike and who are not crippled by their ego, their identity and not being afraid of humanly feelings and desires. So, with him knowing who this was and me wanting to show this painting in public, he valued me and even more so, this friendship because of it.

Taking the painting in his hand, we go downstairs to the floor of the exhibition, placing it in the focal point of the collection, the centre wall. “Do you oppose” he prompts with one raised eyebrow.

“No, absolutely not” I affirm, feeling accomplished knowing the last art had finalised the collection.

Going back to my hotel suite, I make a start to get ready with spending the whole of afternoon in the gallery, preparing and organising the event, time flew by me. With Miguel picking me up for the evening, I pour myself a drink to remove the apprehensiveness that are rising.

Walking into the gallery, bustling with people and photographers. Grabbing champagne in the entryway, studying those who are looking at the art. The best part about being an artist and establishing your painting in art galleries is the anonymity from publicity. With painters, artists, art investors recognising you due to the close-knit community we have formed for ourselves. Diving right in as I start to talk leisurely with interested customers, negotiating prices with their likened art, positive feelings of success surging as one art had been sold. Long black hair in my peripheral vision convincing myself that it is not real and only imaginations that exist from my dream. Informing the staff that this painting has been sold, they begin to discuss buying the art with the costumers. The long-haired stranger stopping at the latest painting, moving closer and deeply analysing it. With my focus strained, I begin to watch her, her form, her skin and the stunning dress pulling me to her place. Instinctively, my feet walk towards her, eyeing the way she moves closer to the painting. Stopping just behind her inhaling a waft of her flowery, vanilla scent “No, it can’t be” I internally whisper to myself. Out of all places. She is here, knowing she felt my presence I move backwards only for her to turn around and bump into me.

Helping to balance her, I place my hand on her lower back. Silky smooth skin burning my fingers alive. Her scent engulfing me, her wide eyes blinking back at me in recognition and in shock. “We need to stop meeting like this” I mutter light-heartedly with a grin, simmering the feelings wanting to surface. “My name is Ezra” I prompt, waiting for her to speak.

She pushes back to maintain distance, “My name is Luna” she begins “you need to stop appearing where I can’t see you” she says. She studies me curiously. Looking at the person who inspired my painting, her alluring, mesmerising eyes, opening her mouth in futile as her words become unspoken.

“This painting was inspired by you” I mumble, “from the last time I saw you to now, I was not able to forget you. You came up in my dreams and you are what I painted. I want you.” I utter in hushed tone.

(Another part. Couldn’t help myself. Writing this got me excited of the prospects. I’m proud of the characters that are coming alive. Writings from a current story. Thank you for reading 😀 ).