Letter to a Stranger No. 5

The Desperate Man

To You (whose is really me),

When I called, you didn’t respond. I asked questions, there was no answer. A deafening silence spreading from the top of my spine through my arms and legs down to my fingers and into my toes. Something was falling and I was bracing myself, as if an anvil or a piano were about to drop onto my head and squish me. I was underwater, drowning. I was pumping to the surface, fighting. I was waiting, waiting to catch up and we were separate entities running at different speeds, you a breath ahead, air streaming in the space between, floating with no destination, half blind and over stimulated. Continue reading “Letter to a Stranger No. 5”

Letter to a Stranger No. 4

It has finally arrived!

To Apologies,

I can’t say sorry. I mean it–the word. Sorry. It feels foreign to my tongue, looks like misplaced shapes on the page and feels as if tiny pools of water are exploding in the curve of my throat, foolishness buzzing from the bottom of my stomach. And why is it that I can’t say it. I can write it.  S-O-R-R-Y–a squiggle, circle, humpback, humpback–and what is Y? An upside down dunce cap.

Continue reading “Letter to a Stranger No. 4”

Letter to a Stranger No. 3

To My Dreams,

I wake up each morning, knowing very well that you had been with me. I wipe my eyes. They have crust under them, the crust of dried tears and I know I wasn’t even resting in my sleep, that you were keeping my brain awake all that time. I wake up sometimes with no recollection of what went on during the night and as I move through the day it comes back to me slowly. Real slow, in fragments and snapshots, some dark, others as clear and lucid as the sun. I remember one particular time you visited, not the whole thing, but part of it. I opened the thin drawer under the microwave in the kitchen, the drawer that houses all of the miscellaneous kitchenware like serving forks and measuring spoons and the cheese grater. A flashlight was in the drawer, but it wasn’t supposed to be there, at least not in real time or real life or whatever you call life when you’re not dreaming. The translucent blue shaft of the flashlight, illuminating the wiring inside the tube popped out against all the silver filling the drawer. The scissors that Grandma gave me with black finger hooks that are faded and worn from clipping coupons and fixing stitches made that flashlight seem like an artifact lost from a different time, like a time traveling flashlight or maybe a displaced image from another dream or reality.  This is all wrong I thought. I pushed the flashlight out of the way, revealing a forest green barbeque lighter with a rounded hole like a trigger to flick the fire on and off.  They are trying to burn down the house; this lighter should not be here.  I slammed the drawer shut and opened my eyes.  It was 10:22am.

I go to sleep and wake up sore.  My neck is sore. My shoulders were hunched for eight hours as I lay in my bed with my eyes closed. Every morning I discover a new wrinkle in my forehead. I am too young for this I say. You are saving me and killing me at the same time. I hear voices and I know they aren’t mine, I know they are not a part of me, but a part of you, pieces of you that you left as traces of yourself like footprints on my brain.

Thank you for the pictures you leave and the stories you enable me to tell.  But, I would like to remember you when you come rather than wake up with anxiety or be jolted from my sleep, feeling like I have just run away from myself or fallen into a hole or  lost my mind somewhere in my pillow.

Letter to a Stranger No. 2

To the Girl in the Cafeteria,

I saw you that one night and then you disappeared into the walls. This might be too forward, but I feel that something drew my eyes to you and caused them to stay fixed there.  I mean, maybe I have a starring problem, but I couldn’t help but watch you or maybe the better word to use is observe.  It was fall. I remember because my fingertips were frozen, not chapped like they get during the winter. They were stiff, like logs and I awkwardly held my fork as I pieced together bites of chicken and potato. The cafeteria was buzzing, people walking in and out, chatting each other up, rushing to eat before class. I looked up from my plate through the space between peoples’ heads and saw you sitting so cautiously. Your body was closed off to the world, knees touching under the table, thighs pressed tightly together and your shoulder’s hunched. You were wearing a wool sweater, the one with the thick black and gray strips and the scooping neckline. Your hair barely made it halfway down your forehead, bangs pinned back with a pink plastic beret that had a little yellow flower at the corner and your face was naked. I wonder, has your hair gotten longer since then?  Or do you prefer to keep it short?

I might have been the only person in the room to notice how peaceful you were, all alone with your tray, meticulously arranging your food, neatly organizing the plate, bowl and utensils, shifting your weight and staring at your meal, all the while gazing at it in appreciation.  Your eyelids fluttering like a butterfly, searching for a place to build your cocoon. As you settled into your chair, sinking into the background of the cafeteria, I saw a cloud drift over your head. It descended from the ceiling, casting a shadow over you with raindrops trickling down onto your shoulders.

You could tell me about it, if you want. Whatever it was that you were thinking or trying to tell your meal. I’d sit with you too, if you wanted. We wouldn’t even need to say anything if that’s what you’d prefer because I hate talking really and I’m pretty comfortable with silence. I just don’t think anyone should eat alone.