The Keyhole

He sat in his small room with the bare walls closing in on him as his thoughts tried to escape out of his mind,  looking for a place to thrive and grow and expand.

Slowly he picked up the purple crayon and started drawing a keyhole on the floor beneath his feet. His shivering hands made it hard and the crayon fell several time before the jagged keyhole was complete. He put down his crayon on the ground, where it slowly disappeared into air.

He peeked through the keyhole, knowing very well what he would see on the other side of the world. He didn’t want to look, he had no right to look. He had lost that a long time ago. But he couldn’t help it. He needed to see. He needed to be close again. Even if he was on the other side of the world.

All he could see was a thick darkness that seemed to solidify into black pearls in his eyes. Then slowly, as his eyes adjusted and the tentacles pulled away, he could make out a silhouette at the end of the room. Her silhouette.

There were spirits dancing around her. Trying to pull her closer, trying to slip into her and become one with her. It took little effort from her to keep them at bay. She just wasn’t interested.

Bony fingers crept out of the ground, trying to pull her down and break her. They hated the way she whirled around, unbound by the primitive rules that ruled their worlds. She had set herself free from it all when she threw it all in the wind, leaving the jingling alarms behind and only hearing the serenity inside her. She floated in the bloom, unaware of anything but.

She danced on through the void she’s stuck in, never noticing the spirits or the dead fingers. She was distant, detached, and depraved of most of life. She was the void. She was eternal. She was the dreams and nightmares of a thousand different souls yet none could ever get close to her.

I called out her name through the keyhole and for a second it felt like she heard me – she almost broke out of her trance and stared at the empty air, never seeing me but almost seeing into me. It lasted for a fraction of a second,  but I could almost swear I saw the shadow of a smile before it all faded away.

The monster spoke the words and the keyhole disappeared, along with that last glimpse of a smile. So much was left unspoken, so much still lingered in the husky air. The dream still lingered undreamed, a future was left unhoped, a vision was left unseen.

It all disappeared with the keyhole.

The snow

It only snows when I’m walking alone. I’ve never shared the snow with anyone. I don’t want to either. Somehow, if I ever do, it won’t make sense anymore.

That loneliness is the only way to hold on to those thoughts, those dreams we shared. It’s the only way to grasp the elusive rays of hope we once had, all the silly stories we faked together.

I miss you.

And no it’s not getting any easier with time. I don’t share it with anyone, how can you share a nameless emotion that is as unique as each ray of sunlight falling on your face in the morning?

I miss you.

It’s in the little things they’ll never notice. Like how your coffee mug doesn’t smile anymore. The wrinkles in your favorite chair miss you, you know. The birds pecking at your window know there’s something wrong. Even the silver rain crackling on the old floorboards are lonely without you.

There’s something special about throwing the snow in the air and watching the drizzle fall to my face. It makes me feel alive, when most often I don’t anymore.

The mountain often calls out your name. I never know what I’m supposed to say. It stands resolute, watching over the debacle around and wondering where the stars go to hide. The climb will never make sense again, because the stars and distant night lights only cared for you, never for me.

And I still miss you.

It isn’t even a little bit easier. They say that time heals all wounds, but the scars never stop bleeding when the monsters are out and about. I try to paint with my blood, to tell stories of you and I, but it never cuts it. Maybe the words are lost in a song, somewhere I cannot reach or, maybe I am too scared to reach.

I shake the snow out off my hair, engrossed in the numbness on my cheeks. The little flowery crystals fall down everywhere around me, settling quietly in the emptiness. I never shared the snow with anyone, but I’ve always shared it with you.

A broken kite

“It just won’t fly. Don’t you understand? Can’t you see it’s broken?”

We didn’t need to hear it. We could see it just fine. Yes, it was broken. What they don’t understand is that we just don’t care.

Who are you to decide what the kite can or can’t do? Who are you to decide what we can hope to do with it and what we can’t?

It was never about the kite flying, it was always about us flying the kite. It has always been just about us. We loved the kite for all its faults. We were happy even if it never flew as long as we were together.

The problem is you can’t understand that. You think it’s worthless because it won’t fly. We think it’s worth the world because we are together.

So like little school kids with tangled hair who skipped school to hang out together, we giggle and laugh as we run around trying to make it fly. We jump and we dance and the kite falls to the ground. We run to it, pick it up and get ready for another go. We’ll scribble our names in air and laugh at others who can’t read them.

And throughout it all, we’re together and we’re happy. We’re senseless, and we know it, and we couldn’t care less.

We don’t let go. It won’t let us down. You can make fun of us and point the obvious, you can make the kite feel bad about itself. But you know what? We really will never care. We will run, jump and chase each other in the sand just the same. We will still love the broken kite for all it is, for it is worth much more than its ability to fly.

So yes, the kite won’t fly. It’s broken. But we don’t see it that way. As long as we are together, we can just keep pointlessly trying, and there’s no place I’d rather be.

Pretend to smile

She smiled at them once again. Just one more time. That’s all she needed to do. She had to make it through one more time.

She grinned at their company, laughed at their jokes, and made a few awkward ones herself. She pretended it wasn’t raining inside, that things still made sense. She told herself she’s happy, satisfied, and magical.

But somehow, it all always fell apart. There was a part that’s missing…always missing – like that jigsaw puzzle piece that, when in place, the whole picture came to life. Without it it just didn’t make sense.

She still told them fairytales. She still convinced them dragons and elves were real. She still hoped for something perfect. Even though her whole fairytale had fallen to pieces, they needn’t know. They wouldn’t understand.

How can she explain that the sound her heart makes is different? How can she explain that her smile has stopped glowing? How can she explain that her wounds were gaping blood instead of healing into scars? How can she explain that her dreams of special were violently shattered?

She smiled at everything they said but could hardly hear a word. They could never understand her like he did before. They could never build her up, bit by bit, like he’s done before. They loved her, vying for her attention, but she would give it all up for one more starry night with him.

She grasped desperately at the darkness within, trying to tear its very fabric. She attacked it like a maddened beast, hopelessly hoping that beneath it she’ll find her light – his light – again. Maybe once she grasps it everything will be fine once more, she’d be complete like before. She’d find happiness sparkling all around her once again. But the darkness persisted, like a suffocating dress wrapped around her draining her life slowly.

Just one more time, that’s all she needed to do. Her tears came flowing down her soul once more, while she continued to pretend to smile.

Tea in the desert

He sighed as he sipped his tea. He looked at her as she brought the cup up to her lips and admired the little droplets it left there. She always spills a little when she drinks, he thought as her cup came down on the tray with a clutter.

He looked out at the rain falling in the creaking dry desert they sat in. Each drop of rain thundered down, crashing on the ground, hoping to give live to something but only dying in the end. Thunder came crashing down, splitting his thoughts into a million fragments that floated around them in the darkness of the sunrise.

He pulled one of them close to his eyes and looked into its clinking glass. He saw a floating colorful balloon with a monkey and a camel singing lullabies in the basket. They played with the drops of rain, balancing them on their noses and throwing them to each other. He pulled another piece and saw the monkey and camel sitting by the sea, listening to the lazy waves tumble into each other while a strange bird sang melodies to the sound of the rain.

The shards of glass fell to the ground with a bang, breaking into even smaller pieces that he could not make out anymore. He let out a helpless cry, there were so many more thoughts he would have liked to see. But even the rain failed to bring them life when they fell muted to the glass.

He looked across at her again and admired her distant look. Far out in the desert the clown became a fat cow, but was still dancing, and he was still not funny. How can he be funny when there is no living audience to laugh loudly to him wildly flailing his arms around?

Suddenly a huge worm broke through the ground with a deafening growl and swallowed the clown and the circus tents whole. He jerked out of his rocking chair, spilling the hot tea on his bare feet. He screamed in pain and threw the cup in anger. It landed lazily in the ground, with the rain falling around it until it just became part of the desert.

He looked at her but she did not move. She sat silently sipping her tea. He wondered how she could just sit there through the whole thing. She did not even blink. She turned slowly to look at him as she read his thoughts.

“Nothing here is alive, my love. Nothing is alive. That’s all there is to it.”

And she became part of the desert.

The circus

He was surrounded by faces distorted in laughter. A melancholic happiness seeped the whole place. Children were clapping and clowns were playing fools. Bright balloons floated in the air, dazzling and wicked. The lowly remembered, the lowly forgotten, just as they have always been.

Lazy applause rang out all around and crawled into his ears, mixed with the sweet getaway of loud obnoxious music.

He was out of place yet felt right at home. An emotion was raining, sending lightening bolts of icicles through his skeleton, confusing his senses and eating at his mind. A throbbing nerve spoke of a headache. An evilness slowly unwound inside, like a slumbering giant hungry for death.

All he could feel was pain. It was in his soul and span out like the tentacles of a sea monster to every limb. He tried to take a deep breath but little air found its way to his lungs. His fingers and toes became limp as the colors around flowed into each other, becoming a surreal portrait of his soul.

An outcast, hated and discarded. There was no way he could be part of the circus when all that was inside him was the blackness that overtook him, like spreading, climbing vines through his soul.

A large smiling face jumped right in front of him. It seemed like a dislocated head. The clown had an everlasting smile of makeup. Wild hair full of the broken dreams of hundreds of children and the slumber of adults.

He looked around the circus, looked at the colors, looked at the faces and finally at the clown, then he cried.

The eternal dine

They sat together to the greatest feast there ever was. Laughter rang out across the hall. Voices rose in singing, others in stories of valor. The faces around the table were familiar yet they looked very different. Young, vibrant and energetic. It was like the sun was always rising to their faces.

The stars served them, darting around in all their brightness to answer their every whim. The elements obeyed them and worshiped them. The wind darted around to hear their stories of valor while the earth sighed in satisfaction – even as it heard the tales for the millionth time.

Vastly different faces spoke with one voice. The scars were not gone, but became streams of bright light – tattoos of dignity. The rugs they once wore were adorned with elaborate designs of silk. The pain was forever gone.They spoke of their dreams and, unlike him, they laughed about it. They were, finally, happy. Did they know what he knew? Or maybe he didn’t know what they knew.

The eternal dance went on, threading like a golden needle in the fabric of black space. 

He entered the hall, humbled, and tears flew down his cheeks. At long last he was in good company again. 

Around the table

We sat down around the table. It was time for another jagged goodbye. Friends we were, comrades we became, humans we always stayed.

Sometimes, when I try really hard, I can remember when we first met. Carefree, young and reckless. We laughed loud, worked hard and learned much. It seems like a lifetime ago now – a vivid tapestry of a life that we swam in for a short while.

Then we fell through a loophole of wilderness. A lifetime of experiences every single day. Like some invisible being banging us repeatedly against an imaginary wall, breaking us, remaking us then breaking us again.

Were we the same people back then that we are now? Sometimes it’s hard to remember our faces – it’s like we are living in someone else’s body and dealing with fragments of their memories that pop up every now and then to remind us we weren’t always here.

We sat around the table but we were not loud anymore. We smiled less when someone mumbled something to try to make it funny. We told stories, tiptoed around others, and fell into silence again. I looked at the distorted faces of my heroes around the table and traced a single, thin, invisible thread weaving its way slyly amongst us all.

We were all tired. Very, very tired.

They’ve seeped that endless energy out of us. We just laid back – trying to talk when we had to, silent when we could and less eye contact whenever possible.

But yes, we may be older, yes we may be tired, and yes we may be weakened. Yet you are all that will ever matter. History will not write your names, but it is written inside of me. Weak, sad, desperate me is still proud to sit at the table with you.

You will always be heroes to me.

The walls and the sidewalk

It was the best of times, far from the worst of times.

I still walked with a limp then, an injury, a mark I bore with pride. That tingling pain in my right knee was proof that I had stood where it mattered. It was a reminder of the battle against Goliath, of the dawn that came up with a new sun – one that smiled down at us proudly while we bandaged our wounds and laughed.

I sat down to speak to the sidewalk and graffiti-covered walls of all I’d seen and all I dreamed. I could swear I saw them smile. They were a part of it as much as me – as much as any of us.

I told the sidewalk, as I fervently rubbed it clean, that I would never clean the blood spilled there. It has become part of the sidewalk – part of the legend – like little beads of pearls bursting with memories. I’m just cleaning away the dirt to honour that blood – ever precious to me.

I told the walls of the valiant stories and we laughed heartily together as we thought of all the little kids who’ll stand where I am now, and listen wide-eyed to us both tell them the stories of how we inherited a dead land and created life out of it. We would tell it over and over a thousand times – and love it just like the first time – till I fade away into song, soon to be forgotten. The kids would grow, and retell the stories a thousand times more with the walls – as passionately as when they were young.

It has been a thousand years since that day. I’m a much much older man, still trapped in a young man’s body. I smile less often, am harder to amuse and don’t find much in life I’m proud of. But I still remember that day. I still remember the walls and the sidewalk – and wish with a dusty heart they remember me.

I went back to where it all started. I’m not limping  anymore. Time may often heal some wounds of the body, hardly ever of the soul. There’s no tingling pain in my right knee, but my bandaged heavy heart is falling apart.

I sit down and talk to the sidewalk. I ask about those precious pearls weaved inside its very existence. But all there is is dirt, and piss and a thousand smashed dreams. I wipe at the dirt with my bare hand, but all I find is more dirt and more piss.

I lean on the wall and ask her to tell me the stories again. I beg her to remind me of the names, of Karim, Khalid, Mina, Emad, Bilal, Ahmed and all the others. She stands silent. My tears wet the graffiti but it doesn’t laugh. I look around but there are no little kids waiting to hear the legends. I trace my fingers across the cracks in the wall as I map the cracks in my heart.

I crawl up between the sidewalk and the walls and scream at their silence. I scream like a mad clown till my voice is hoarse and don’t stop. Nor do they stop their silence. I roll up in the dirt and piss, under the wet graffiti, till I fade away like the stories.

There shall be no more.