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.

Celestial Light

Blog, Romance, short story

Chapter One

Walking through the woods, the trees swaying, the silence comforting and sound, hearing nothing but my footsteps. The breeze softly caressing my skin forming a small smile at the wonder that surrounds me, the serenity of nature surrounding me. I saw it, the opening of a mystified lake, sticks and stones scattered. The trees creating an alluring and picturesque scene, almost as if protecting their sanctuary, their safe place, their home; so hidden.

Calm and gentle waves flowing with soothing wind, the sound of the enchanting waterfall flowing powerfully yet feels tranquil and cathartic.

As I sit down near the water, I look up at the sky displaying the full moon, sprinkled with stars giving me peace, thinking this is it, this is my safe haven, my home. The breeze of the wind softly moving through my skin almost like gentle touches. Bringing my knees to my chest, I close my eyes. I see him, his wide smile revealing dimples on both cheeks one deeper than the other one, eyes twinkling “so beautiful” I thought.

Every time he was in my presence made me feel so safe and warm, so intense, butterflies swarming in my stomach needing to escape. Breathless. Ooohhh the little little ways he would protect me, not that I needed any, but it made me feel unknown feelings, feelings I couldn’t decipher. “Don’t do that” he would say when someone was laughing at me, “he shouldn’t have done that” he whispered, when a teacher was making fun of me. I could have sworn I saw him waiting for me after the day ended to go home. What an odd person, I said to myself. One whom makes you feel so safe, will protect or defend you over small things without thinking, and who brings out foreign emotions out of you and showers you with compliments: “you’re funny” “what do you mean?” scrunching my face “You’re you, I like it” still treasure those words till this day. But he would not talk to you, rather stay away from you then say something. How interesting.

I lay down beneath the grass taking in the night sky. My mind goes back to the last day, this is probably the last time I will see him, I dejected. There was no talking there was a boatload of unsaid things, there was pain for someone I could not grasp. He would not have liked me anyways, I’d reason, he didn’t say anything, what could I have done? He’ll be the one that got away, I know it. I remember that day, when he left, me running to the corridor to look out the window (yes, I freaking ran), gazing at him for the very last time, so pathetic and stupid, I chastised. Maybe I should have said something, it didn’t matter if he didn’t like me, nor did it matter if he didn’t want anything to do with me, I’ll get it. I would tell myself. It doesn’t matter now, he left and I am here with feelings I don’t know how to handle nor understand and things to say that may never be spoken aloud. It is okay. I will be okay, I convince myself, subconsciously knowing I was deluding myself. Something within me shifted, he did something to me, he moved me in such a way that is foregone, that will be hard to get past. Something heavy furled within my chest as he disappeared out of my view.

Chapter Two

Present Time

I hear rustling from a distance, the trees moving in motion, swaying rhythmically with the wind. I have been disturbed, someone is distracting me from my daydream. I begin to sit up and turn around being aware of my surroundings and alert knowing that anything can happen in the woods considering it is dark and I am alone. My eyes begin to adjust, squinting and continuing to wait. There is more movement, appearing to almost be like a figure seems as if they are heading towards this direction, towards me. As they walk out the shadows of the trees. I see him, I see Rico appearing, what a light, I joked. The moment he appears from the trees and sees me, he smiles brightly, gazing at me so intently, so intense almost as if looking into and through my soul.

“Hi” I exclaim, smiling,

“Rico” I say after a few beats

“Baby”

He sat down next to me, leaving no room between us. He looks around, perhaps thinking of something. Suddenly, he lifts me up by the hips and bridges me between his legs. “You should’ve just asked Rico” I laugh. He answers back with a deep chuckle, left dimple popping out. I lean my head back to his chest, grabbing both his arms and interlocking them around my stomach intertwining our hands together, sparks shooting through my body. I look down seeing our hands connected. I study both our hands, taking my fingers out of his fingers then in, repeating the motion couple of times, kissed his right hand in silent appreciation. My hands look so small wrapped around his hands, I wondered. But, they fit so perfectly. I let my eyes close, leaning back into his chest again, sinking into him and finding a comfortable position, taking in his presence. Something I never had once. There’s silence, not awkward silence but comfortable silence. Taking in our surroundings, embracing the feeling of being close to each other. Reflecting back on the imagination I had, appreciating his mere being, and feeling grateful that he is back in my life.

“I missed you” I whispered.

“I missed you” he replied. Burying his face in my hair, inhaling a deep breathe, pushing me into him as deep as he can. I have the urge to talk about it.

“Rico” I say quietly.

“Hmm”

“Before you came. I, I was thinking about the past. The hurt, the things that occurred to led up to this, but also the way I felt for you and still do.” I still for a moment, thinking of how to go around what I want to say next. Apprehensive for his reaction, I never knew how he will react, he was always full of surprises; I didn’t know he liked me until 3 years later. I ponder, if I didn’t confess would I have ever known. Would life have taken me towards this direction, the path with him in my life?

“From the moment I saw you to the moment I last saw you, so much had happened not physically but emotionally and mentally. There was so much unsaid things between us, the misunderstandings, the lack of communication and then this deep connection that sometimes made me feel like it’s bigger than me, then distance grew, and we parted ways. There was no name nor a way to word it. How was I to explain what I felt for you? There was pain before there was joy; there was distance, separation before unity, oneness and emotional shifts before any physical connection.

When I think about everything that occurred the past years in hindsight, it’s so crazy. Why did everything unfold the way it did. Is it to realise the depth, and intensity of this cosmic force I have for you and possibly you for me? Was we to seperate to realise that no matter how far we run, or how scared I am of the effect you have on me, you’ll always be here and it’ll come back to remind me that I can’t run away from you and this is how I truly feel? Because that is what happened until I realised that I couldn’t avoid my thoughts and feelings for you and I had to confront them.”

There was silence. A long silence left me feeling anticipated. Rico shifts his body to see my face, he studies my face heatedly for few moments. I study his face, his eyes, searching for answers and finding a cue to continue. I do as I gain the confidence to carry on.

“Then I think about the year that you were in my life, that year was the worst that I had in life. I wouldn’t even acknowledge that year if it wasn’t for you in it.” I say, laughingly attempting to shake off the unwarranted nervousness.

“I had unresolved issues, and they seemingly began to creep up again, it was impossible burying them in a subconscious box again. Thinking about life so negatively, not knowing life’s worth, not knowing the essence living had or the privilege it was to simply breathe. It left me quite depressed” I reluctantly admit, even to myself.

“I hurt you, I know it. I said and did things that caused you pain. I apologised. But it never feels enough. I did not want to speak about me until we saw each other, if we were ever going to see each other. I have questions that need answers. You did things too Rico. If you didn’t want me to be near you, you should have told me. You didn’t have to make people you knew at that time do it for you. That hurt, a lot. You got other people involved and they thought it was okay to do it. I wished you said something, when I spoke to you and you didn’t want me to. There were moments when you wouldn’t even look at me whenever I spoke to you, that hurt too. Was I so bad and unattractive that you couldn’t look at my face? You would run away whenever I got close. You seemed so disinterested. That was when I believed and convinced myself that you didn’t like me, you couldn’t. So, I stayed away from you including, your acts of chivalry. I couldn’t entertain it, Rico. It meant something, they signified something. When I declined them, I saw pain Rico. I saw it. When I mentioned it, you stared at me then you walked away. How did you think that made me feel? Why did you do it?” My voice breaking towards the end.

Uttering them words weren’t easy. The hurt associated with those words was torturous. So deeply embedded within, there was a sharp sting in the heart, needing an itch to take it away. I never glanced at him when speaking them aloud. I carried on staring forward at the water, afraid of seeing what emotions was coming out of his eyes. My lips began trembling. Not being able to control the wave of emotions surfacing that I was able to control when talking. Tears were welling around my eyes, knowing what was coming I look down. They flow with earnest. They flow. “Damn it” I whisper, frustrated that I can’t keep my emotions in check.

I was too in deep within my own thoughts to be aware of what was going on around me, that I didn’t see hands appearing to cup my cheeks. Forcing me to look up. When I knew what he wanted, I forced my eyes shut, not ready to see what was in front of me.

“Open your eyes Koni” he croaked.

His hands caress my cheeks, wiping the tears away. He brings his forehead to mine. Not saying anything.

Inhaling sharply almost, as if struggling to let out words.

“I’m sorry. I’m so sorry”

I’m not finished. I told him so. Bringing his hands onto my lap, intertwining them tightly. “I need to finish what I have to say, I don’t want to hurt you, I know you never meant it.” Putting my hand on top of his, I stroke his hand with my thumb, more for my comfort than his. “I’m sorry too, I’m so sorry Rico. Saying those words never feels enough to remove years of pain.” I whispered. If only there was a way to remove the years of pain, I would do it. I just hope the years ahead surpass and heal the past four years of suffering.

“Despite, the hurt that we inflicted towards each other. In that period of life and even now, you were the only good thing that happened. I can’t regret meeting you because you were something, I looked forward to seeing. Every day I would wake up excited knowing that I was going to see you. We didn’t have to talk, just being in your presence, in your space was enough for me. It made me feel happy, to see your face look out the door every time I entered the room, it made me happy. It made me feel okay even if it was just for a couple of moments. The small moments of being in your proximity, the little conversations that we would have was the only thing I wanted in my head for days. Even after we went separate ways, you continued to be my light, the only thing that made me feel safe for the last four years. You protected me just by thought, by feeling. My light. I missed you, I missed you alot. Even with distance, when I was growing and moving on in life, the only place life wasn’t moving on from was with you and I never understood why.”

Chapter Three

Needing to feel closer to him, I move not looking at his face but finding comfort that he is still here. I shuffle myself towards him, finding his shoulders to hold onto while straddling him. Wrapping my legs around his waist hoisting myself up to be in level with his face, bringing my face close to his until we were a breath away. This newfound courage making me feel brave, I put my hands behind his neck bringing it close until our nose are touching. Not having the intention of our mouth connecting together, but just having the want of being in his energy. Needing him to know how much he means to me, the significance of my words that are for only him means to me, that being vulnerable isn’t easy for I never was vulnerable for anyone. I didn’t need to be because he was the first of many things for me including intimacy and romanticism. He did not just come into my life, but he left his imprint, he left his presence inside my soul and the longing never stopped. Not for one moment. Rather, intensified and the intensity of those feelings was something I never knew how to handle. It is something I have just begun to welcome.

If only he knew I never wanted to hurt him. I want his happiness and for him to open himself up to infinite peace. Even if we never were to be together or see each other again, I knew he was always going to be connected to me somehow, someway. The very thought does not scare me, not anymore. My Rico. My beacon of light. His light kept on shining even after we parted ways. His being, his existence was what kept me protected even without his physical spirit. Just the very thought of him and keeping him alive within, during times of struggles; in times of hardships gave me solace, alleviation.

There’s peace and clarity in the finality of speaking those words, especially saying it to him.

The hands that were placed in his jawline, begin their journey around his face. Starting at his forehead, moving to his eyes, such kind eyes. The way he would look at me with those eyes like he is looking deep into my soul, those eyes gazing at me with acceptance, no judgements. I missed them. My fingers travel caressing underneath his eyes. His eyes close at that one, a small smile bounces around my lips relishing that I can do that to him. I move a finger down his nose, then stroke his cheeks I stay there for a brief moment, wondering how he came back to me. My Rico. Shifting my fingers to his lips, running my fingers around them. These lips. The generosity of God’s work is prominent but it’s not that, it’s the smile. So wide and wholesome, gives me so much bliss. My favourite is when I bring a smile out of him when I do or say things in moments of dorkiness. It has given me so much pleasure and joy knowing I can do that to him. I didn’t even need to force the way I was around him; it came out naturally. The best part.

The more I stare at his mouth the more I feel the need for oneness. Without thinking, I move my pointy finger inside his mouth. Rico opens his lips in open invitation. My eyes goes to his eyes and he keeps me there, frozen. Feeling his tongue wetting the pad of my finger, sucking the tip sending shockwaves of pleasure through me, envisioning those lips in hidden parts of my body gets me heated. I add my middle finger and he treats it the same way, biting the pad of my fingers. So hot. I take my fingers out of his mouth, needing to taste us together, I put them inside my mouth, licking it clean. Savouring the way we taste as it sends another rush of arousal to the lower part of my body.

“Fucking hell, Koni. What are you doing to me?” He utters, fingers digging into my hips, bringing his face close to mine.

I place my hands against his chest, feeling his heart beating fast knowing that my heart is moving in the same rhythm. His hands cup my head, running his fingers through my hair. My eyes involuntarily close as the tension between us grows, moving me so powerfully leaving me breathless. Overcome with the need for a taste I wanted him to kiss me and I told him so. With his mouth hovering over mine, the anticipation was torturous, needing to know how it’ll be like to have our lips connect so intimately with imaginations the only thing I am running with. “Say it again, baby. I’m not going to hold back.” “I want you to kiss me, please I need you” I plea, wanting, waiting.

Pulling me close, our lips touch, stars are what I see, fireworks are what I feel. Taking my mouth in a slow caress, touching me so delicately as if testing the waters, with a gentle tug, I tilt my head, giving him permission to take control, for him to dominate. Giving him my trust and exposing my vulnerabilities. Taking my mouth into his so deeply our lips fuse together. Moaning into his mouth, his tongue sweetly invading my mouth, not holding back as he feels every corner of my mouth. His kiss was so exhilarating, so drugging leaving me restless and needing more. Gripping his shirt in fists, I return his kiss just as deep. sweeping my tongue through his teeth, biting his bottom lip, sucking it, revelling in the way his mouth and body feels against me. Our tongue seeking each other, going deeper and harder, teeth clashing with our tongues in a twist. Is this how it’s like to be kissed? For someone to want you just as badly as you want them. To refuse every other guy to have him in this moment, to wait for him. Worth it. My hands search for skin to skin contact, needing to be closer to him, I shift under his shirt groaning into his lips at the feel of his skin, so smooth and soft, brushing my hands against his abs. His hands reach down my back to my ass, squeezing it, pulling me so I hover above his erection. The contact so agonisingly intense, I grind against him. Without breaking the kiss, he takes me to lay me down in the grass with his body towering over me. Enjoying the thrill of his body being over mine rather, than being scared of the closeness. Safe.

We stay like that, exploring each other’s mouth. Catching up on missing moments. His hands start moving to different places of my body, getting restless. “I missed you” I whisper against his lips, my lips quivering. Overtaken with emotions. His face dips to my neck, nipping and sucking at my neck, I open my legs wide for him to nestle between them, wanting his body on top of mine. His hands travel underneath the hem of my dress, momentarily halting. Knowing what he wants “I want you to do it. Please.” My eyes close overcome with heightening pleasure, as his hands resume back to manoeuvring up my waist, to my stomach moving his fingers up, squirting around my bra. Internally applauding myself for the easy access. I press my breasts against his chest needing some form of friction with our bodies. He brings his face above mine, looking at me directly into my eyes. Our breath mingling with each other. “You mean something to me, and I don’t get it. No matter how much I would fight you never went away. You were always there, in my mind.”

Chapter Four

I look into his eyes. “I want you to get off of me, Rico” I utter, gently. He watches me with confusion, his eyes searching my face. “I want you to get off of me, baby” I start again. He did so, still having the face of puzzlement and looking quite aloof. Probably wondering what had changed between now and then. Still maintaining eye contact, I slowly get up, smiling and then walk backwards fixating on his face. “I want you to chase me” I say to his unspoken question. “Say that again” he responds, knowing that he heard me the first time. “I want you to chase me, for you to get up and get me.” Something light appeared in his eyes, silent laughter dancing around his eyes, finally understanding my underlying words. “Koni, make sure you know what you’re asking for because I will chase you and when I do get you, I won’t let you go.” My heart skips a beat accompanied with butterflies, treasuring those words. “Come on then, come and get me. I’m not scared of you” I laughed. With that, I turn and spring towards the woods to the cabin not looking back at him, the rapid footsteps behind me indicates that he indeed is running after me. I look back, smiling seeing that he is returning the same smile. I press my legs to go faster not wanting him to catch up, not yet. I keep on running overwhelmed with adrenaline, feeling so free and whole. Pain changing into something akin to happiness, content.

The beautiful man that is running after me is finally here in my presence, in my life. The man that my body and soul seeks for is here, in my life. My Rico. As I continue to speed through the woods with the man of my dreams and have been waiting for, the breeze is soothingly hitting my face with the moon and stars witnessing the hilarity of two hearts singing. Despite, my uneven breath, heated skin and tiring legs I keep on sprinting through the woods, the trees passing through me. I hear him closing in, not ready for this to be over, I force my legs to speed up. In a distance, I see our cabin in sight. I was so focused on running I didn’t hear the nearing footsteps, with two arms circling around my waist. “No no no no” I chant laughing, feeling him laughing into my neck.

Once I have regained my breathing “your legs are longer than mine” I reason.

“Yeah admit I got you” he said, rather proudly.

“You did” I close my eyes rubbing my fingers against his arms.

Peace.

Peace is what I feel, peace of having someone like him coming into my life to show me how it is like to feel so strongly for someone and willingly wanting him to have all of me. To give him a chance, to give him a chance on this namelessly deep thing that I have with him, for only him. All the years of confusion, pain, searching and trying to move on life still led me to him. Peace is what I feel for accepting what my being feels for him, the deep-seated longing that I have for him has been satiated as we found our way back to each other. Peace of having my happy with him. Two bodies, two souls, two beating hearts, two minds becoming one. Rico. My light. My guiding light. My celestial light.

To Be Continued…