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.

Sepia

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 coffeehouse

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.

Whirlpools

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.

Home

I walked down the cracked tar road, my weathered, once-white shoes making the only sound for miles. The smell of tea and samosas lingered in the damp air; a smell reserved for monsoon teatimes.  

The evening sky was cotton-candy blue, wispy clouds strung through it like streamers. The faint chill in the air teased my bare knees and caressed my ankles. 

The houses that lined the sidewalk all looked alike; ochre skin hugging square windows and a red tile roof. 

They had seemed so foreboding, so foreign on our first encounter. 

But the homesickness had been grudgingly replaced by familiarity. 

The smell of mud mixed with bleach and rain, the sound of the trees at half-past six, the corner window with it’s lights on till the wee hours of morning, the foggy beginnings of December days and the lights at night through a rain-soaked window. 

Slowly, through it’s bits and pieces, I’d come to call this place Home. 

Salty fingers

Our shoes splattered half-formed puddles, stray droplets striking the tips of our noses. Jumpy footsteps and eager laughter rang through the verdant canopy above us; the footpath our ramp, auburn car beams our spotlight.

We cradled a box of fries in our arms; crisp, yellow and finely salted. We nibbled on them, one at a time.

Hands full, hearts hungry, the buzz of our combined laughter filled our ears. We sang at the top of our lungs, only the trees bore witness; leaves rustling furiously, in tune.

The air was rich with the scent of pinecones and wet grass; it was filled with strings and confetti and the sheer childlike joy of our conversation.

Eyes wide and innocent, all 32 teeth exposed, we skipped up the stairs, arm in arm, licking the salty bits off our fingertips.