Cross-hatched lampshades, sunny orange walls and pastel tiles. An alcove of knit cushions and cane dividers, never short of steamed buns with toothpick flags or the carefully timed saffron kahwa.

We watched as swarms of people filed in on a weekday afternoon, clutching oversized purses and birthday cake.

A man near the door stood behind a counter stacked with yellow and blue jars, selling tea leaves.

We crunched on Burmese falafels and bits of gossip. We painted ourselves The Regulars and stumbled into the sheer joy of sharing a lovely meal. We fell in love with the details, like sprinkled black sesame or honey caviar on avocado ice-cream.

We had found the sort of place you could write about.

House Arrest

Heavy with sleep and layers of warm clothing, we woke up to an early sunrise, light filtering in through faded curtains and cracks in the roof.

We sat cross-legged on the edge of our mattress, warm teacups in hand, wispy breaths tinged with hope for a sunny day.

But as we watched, the clouds shifted, the morning light sped from orange to grey and sheets of rain outside the window spelled our house arrest.

Toy Shop

Today, we drove down the road to my old school and it reminded me of a game our teacher made us play in the first grade.

We were meant to name the things we crossed on our ride to school, and our answers swam the full range: from bus-stop to Methodist Church.

But all I could think of was the big, blue toy shop with squeaky clean glass displays and a broken neon sign.

The lights spelled out something different each day, but it’s broken positivity gave me unexpected comfort in my first few weeks as the new kid.

There isn’t a lot that feels familiar in a brand new playground with alien pigtails and broken teeth.

So I’d plaster my nose to the car window and look out for my sign each day, a morning ritual that stuck.

Now everywhere I go, I look for broken neon signs in the tinkling bells of a coffee shop, the tap dancers in crowded streets, a lone hat seller who loves to chatter and the raindrops that collect on the eaves of my porch, like Christmas lights in July.


Parched twine cuts the skin of my thumb as I carefully untie the thread around my journal.

My hand runs over the faded paper; like dried flowers from summer, swollen clouds to puncture with my pen.

I stumble through the silence after an avalanche, the twisting clothesline in my stomach and the bales of cotton in my head.

I run to feel the wind in my hair, my thoughts rattling like a badly driven car.

I miss the beat to an old, schoolyard song and hum in misshapen verses.

I sit cross-legged, the jute meshwork of the window seat painted onto my calf.

I stare at the geraniums on the other side of the glass, a dewdrop clinging to the deep purple of it’s petals.

It is elegant in the way it tricks you into believing it is ordinary.

Dusted with misty cobwebs and pollen grains like powdered sugar.

I watch the edges of each flower ruffle with the temperamental breeze, chiffon skirts protecting their modesty.

I look up to see that the clouds have turned more white than grey.

I wrap the twine around my journal.

The torrential rain has given way to a light, blue sky drizzle.


The air sang of yesterday’s rain and clouds bursting with thought.

I sat cross-legged on a wooden bench, absorbed in bits of conversation and quiet laughter.

I watched him spin his spaghetti into little knots on his fork, and wondered if I understood true love.

Our shared glass of lemonade had left it’s stamp on our table and the ice was dwindling in the summer heat.

His socks peeked above the hem of his faded canvas shoes; they were canary yellow with chocolate sprinkles.

I smiled because they reflected his soul.

Our conversation was scattered bits of memory and attachment, it spun around in the air till it formed our very own cloud of thought, full to bursting and floating above our heads.

I found connections so rarely, without physical contact.

And as unromantic as our Sunday lunch was supposed to be, the concept was a rather romantic notion.

I felt it under my skin, creeping to the recesses of my heart and pulling out secrets I hadn’t yet told myself.

The walls of privacy crumbled slowly, but crumble they did. And I did not try to build them back up this time.

With shaky smiles and nervous eye contact, I found that true love or not, with him, my actions did not need subtitles.

Sugar Clouds

I find, in my attic, a shoebox filled with memories like sugar clouds, caught in cheap trinkets and sealed in coffee colored envelopes.

It smells of Sunday mornings, with rolled up newspapers and maple syrup.

I sift through dried leaves and their cries of protest under the soles of my shoes.

I feel the subtle antiquity of vinyl records, 80’s tunes that are black and white and grey. Pages with yellowing corners and the click of keys on a typewriter.

I taste fresh lemonade in Mason jars and whispered lullabies; leftover cake batter and chocolate sprinkles.

I am in underground bookstores, oversized sofas and artsy movie screenings.

I walk through knee-high grass and fresh puddles; October rains with powder blue skies and rolled-down car windows.

Nights that are purple and out-of-focus, grazed fingers and cold bottles with funny labels.

Brave, uninhibited conversations and half-smoked cigarettes.

I find a dusty windowsill, breaks in the sidewalk, branching silhouettes.

Broken butterfly wings, ripples on a dead lake, rumbling train tracks.

Cotton shirts, daring sequins and braids that are only half french.

Days that are neither hot nor cold, the crackling of a car stereo and the tragic sound of your laughter.


We stood side by side, hands buried into our pockets, the cold biting into our oversized sweaters.

Ochre sand dunes stretched on either side of us, the road leading to a patchwork settlement with blue and red houses and cross-hatched vegetation.

Silvery scrubs spread their curling fingers over the edges of the dunes, overbearing but delicate at the same time.

It seemed like the sort of place where the sky was a different color each day.

That evening, there was a sepia filter on the world.

Our fingertips were grazed mustard, the fleeting wind tickled our bare necks and the clouds were deep orange wisps of setting sun.

The road seemed to stretch on forever, I could only wonder where it would take us.

I also knew we would never find out.

We were lost, we had to find our way back home.

But the beauty of it all was quicksand to our raging hearts, and perhaps we stayed longer than we should have.

Things are rarely beautiful when they are stretched to the point of distortion.

And I know I should have turned around and walked away, left you to breath in the fading sunlight alone; but I couldn’t bring myself to.

Not even when the air was sepia no longer and the sky turned frigid and my breaths were wispy and visible.

It was too late then, I knew.

The cold braved my woolen armor and sank it’s ice-cold teeth into my skin and I, I crumbled under the heap of forbidden beauty and my unwillingness to let it go.

Strangers In A Coffehouse

Roasting coffee beans and the smell of a working oven greet me as I enter the coffeehouse. A brief, but definite tingle of excitement dances down the back of my neck: something’s different.

I wait in line for my hazelnut latte (I am predictable to a fault), and notice with some annoyance that my window seat’s been taken.

A young woman, seemingly in her 20’s, braided hair down to her waist, with topaz cat-eye glasses and a septum piercing that I secretly thought was très chic.

The more I look at her, the more it feels as though she is frozen in time.

But not the present, no.

She is far too entitled for the present.

I feel a little tug, gently grabbing me by the finger and pulling me to a different time, a time where I’d sit across from her and we’d discuss the pile of books on our coffee table; a pile that only grew higher with each passing day.

A time where her hair would be pulled back in an effortless bun that I could never, ever perfect and she’d have little half-moons below her eyes because she’d stayed up all night, perfecting her essay on Homer.

She would clutch her tenth mug of coffee so tight, her knuckles would turn bloodless and she rarely smiled because she didn’t like her teeth.

Her gray eyes sort of defined her; she wouldn’t stray far from a bleak existence.

But now, I see an almost firefly-like twinkle in her eyes, still grey but with little ripples breaking the surface, as she looks out the window, amused at something she’s read in her novel.

Her smile is wide and disarming, with dimples I’d never known about.

There is a pink in her cheeks, like she’d forced the color into her life.

Traces of the person I knew still lingered: in the earnest tightness with which she clutched the pages of her book and the peach iced tea on her coffee table.

But there was an air to her that made her seem almost foreign, unreal.

When she looks up a second time, she finds me staring and my cheeks flush with embarrassment.

Her smile appears almost as quickly; she calls my name, waves me over and wonders if I’d like a hazelnut latte.

I realize then, what is so different about her: she is unmistakably happy.

Ice-cream Parlors

Ice-cream was just an excuse.

It was one of those study days when conversation was a patchy, red tan suitcase bursting at the seams.

There was jazz on the radio, muddy orange lighting and pink guava waffle cone in the air. The cozy little parlor was it’s own little bubble of hope and flurry, within the bustling everyday’s of a city.

We sat on the faded blue wooden benches, our chests exploding with the delight of sound and silence that actually held meaning.

Grey skies turned a violent blue, shades of green turned darker still. Few people came by.

And we talked.

We talked about people; those we cherished and those we were better off without, those who changed our lives for the better and those who made us who we are.

We talked about places; places we’ve seen, heard, lived. Places we’re yet to see, hear and live.

We talked about times in our lives that left it’s pearly white watermark on us, showing us what we’re made of and changing us in ways we cannot fathom.

We talked about lessons we’ve learned the hard way; our tiny dreams in a big, scary world and the carousel of fears that runs our lives.

We talked about the essence of everything that was important to us.

It was terribly hard to stop, to not feel the buzz of a thousand lightbulbs and the tingling excitement in our fingertips.

It felt, for the first time, like things were not merely said, but understood.

And as we walked gingerly down the stone steps, trembling and scared to touch something so surreal, you said you finally understood what it meant to feel infinite.


The rusty brown of your eyes has tiny whirlpools with hidden depths.
They’d glow like new year firecrackers every time you laughed.
But your smiles no longer bear the comma-shaped creases by your eyes I once adored.
You wear your hair shorter and cover fresh scratches with make-up now.
I try to find the childlike innocence in your laughter, but I no longer can.
You’re older, more sober now.
You clutch your wine glass tighter and like your music louder.
I worry that if I touch you, you’ll crumble into a heap of stardust.
And all that I’ll have left of you will be the tiny whirlpools in your rusty brown eyes.