The Beach

Twirling the grains of sand between his fingers, Mark sat on the beach with an eye for the ocean.  It was a warm Saturday and there were many people on the beach but he sat alone, the feeling of isolation undoubtedly surrounding his parasol. He was debating a child with his longtime girlfriend but was unsure if they would cope with the pressures of raising a baby, juggling a job and sustaining a healthy marriage. He hugged his legs as he sat upright, his chin resting on his knees.

He watched the families planted on various parts of the beach, the young couples, the wild teenagers and concession stands filled with ice cream and treats. He decided to head to the boardwalk, leaving his towel and possessions beneath the tilted parasol. He walked the wooden dock in search of nothing in particular, catching sight of postcards, flashy t-shirts and beach paraphernalia. He missed having his girlfriend along for the day trip to enjoy the warm weather.

The boardwalk was a throwback to Mark’s past. He remembered running the strip with his friends, annoying the older visitors with their unpredictability and making new friendships at every turn. The soft serve ice creams, the souvenirs, and the jaw dropping pretty older girls that walked past without noticing him.  The times had passed and life had changed for Mark. He knew well how to deal with his nostalgia. He smiled to himself, cherishing the ridiculous memories that he had formed on the trips to the beach.

Upon returning to his towel, Mark noticed a couple of children nearby playing in the sand. He wondered how life may turn out with two children, thinking through his readiness to handle the responsibilities of little versions of himself. With buckets in hand and little shovels to dig through the wet sand, the children explored the bounds of their creativity, eventually tiring and looking around for further entertainment. They locked in on Mark, who was now reading a magazine under his parasol. They approached him hastily, one falling flat in the sand at Mark’s foot.
“Be careful!” Mark uttered, standing up to help the child to his feet.
The child, smothered in sand, smiled as his friend chuckled, covering his laughing face.
“Can you help us build a sand castle?” The boys asked together, competing to see who could get the words out quicker.
Mark put his magazine down.
“Let’s do it” He stood up, brushing the sand off his shorts and walking over to the dug up area.

With the use of the buckets and tiny shovels, the three set off on making a sand castle. Within a few minutes, a monstrosity of a sand fortress stood on the beach, without much shape or hope of making it through the next wave that swept inland. The young architects, pleased with their work set about chasing each other around the construction. The children’s parents appeared next to Mark, apologizing for their kid’s disruption of Mark’s day at the beach. Mark refused the apology, citing he was enjoying himself and assuring the parents not to worry. The family left soon thereafter, leaving Mark at his parasol again.
He looked over at the imperfect castle, heaped together by furious hands for the sake of recreation. He was happy to have built something with the two children.

The Party

Tina decided to walk home from her friend’s party. A young lady with broken ambition, given more to sipping wine than working day in and day out, she was content in the way her life was going. She remembered the days of youth looking at magazines, watching television and intending on becoming someone important. Along the way, she had replaced the stresses of ambition with a bottle of wine and a great group of friends whom she visited every weekend. Her work life balance always found itself tilting to more play that grind, just the way she appreciated her time. She had settled well into a life of relaxed endeavors.

She skipped the buses and trams and let the taxis pass her by as she waltzed the couple of kilometers to her apartment. She lived alone with her dog, her pet proving a great source of her pride and joy. Laboring through the sidewalks of the big city on a Saturday night was an adventure she was prepared for. The groups of people similar to her finding their way through the city and the open air cafes added an electric atmosphere on a summer’s eve. Strutting past the clubs, she was offered free entrance but she politely refused. A couple of drunken young men approached her, one falling over and the other taking the hint upon realizing Tina would not be wooed. She giggled at the ridiculousness of her suitors as she continued through the street shaking her head.

The emptiness of the night life inched into her thoughts. She was by no means extravagant in her nighttime activities and preferred a calm night with friends to spending an evening in a night club. She noticed the people in the cafes drinking, loud and boisterous in their dialogue. Maybe there was more to life than drinking and friends? Perhaps she was living life wrong. She calculated her life in the final minutes of the walk to her doorstep. Was her life emptier than she anticipated? Did she give up on her ambitions and settle for mediocrity? It was certainly a burdensome process to debate the entirety of life on a Saturday night.

She noticed a beautiful car pass by as she approached her building, the picture perfect people smiling and laughing as they whizzed by. Maybe it was drive she was lacking? Maybe she was not good enough for her work to promote her. There were questions and red wine floating around in Tina’s head that caused an unusual swirl in her thoughts. Arriving to her home, she looked up to the window to see her dog, his tongue hanging out of his mouth and tail wagging furiously. The disconcerting thoughts calmed as she opened her apartment door.  Her phone buzzed, a picture of her nephew flashed across the screen, bringing the certainty of her focus back to Tina. She was relieved to have her mind back concentrated on the things in life she valued by choice. Her dog had already pounced on her as soon as the door had been cracked. As she put her phone down on her entrance table, it vibrated noisily, the words “Mom” blinking on the screen.  Maybe I am important after all, she thought to herself.

The Compartment

Nora was a regular passenger on the intercity train that took her from her company’s base to their field office.  The remote town was a pleasant getaway from the monotony of her city schedule.  Being a single working lady in a city of a million people presented its challenges but Nora, young and healthy, maneuvered through her life as calmly as she could.

The stresses of her job seemed to be left on the platform, a suitcase her only luggage as she climbed onto the express train and find a window seat with a table near the diner compartment. She got a seat quickly, placing her luggage on the overhead rack. She slouched in with a book and turned her head to look out of the window to the platform of the city station. This was another trip to what was becoming her favorite destination. She had decided to spend the weekend there and explore the surrounding area.

Day dreaming of biking, hiking through trails, and enjoying a few quiet meals passed an air of excitement in Nora. She loved her routine trips and the thought of this magic getaway city only strengthened her spirit. The train departed slowly from the station and the relatively empty compartment had a crisp, cool air flowing through it. Nora decided to purchase a drink and a small pack of peanuts. She slumped back into her seat, the joy of comfortable travel running through her bones.

Just as Nora opened her book and began reading, a young man sat across from her at another table. He was appreciating the landscape that was passing them by. Nora’s eyes lit up at the sight of the man but she swiftly turned her attention back into her book, unable to read the words but making sure not to examine the young man too closely. He was sharply dressed, well groomed and appeared to be enjoying the view equally to Nora. He had no reservations about looking at Nora, who was well hidden in her book.

As the minutes passed, just as Nora was regaining her attention and absorbing the words in her novel, her reaching hand tipped over her cup and the dark soda liquid splashed over onto the table and her dress. She was slightly jolted and embarrassed at the mess she had made. Before she could stand up, the young man appeared in front of her with a stack of napkins. Nora smiled, dabbing her clothes with the white paper.
“That is a great book you’re reading” The young man noticed her embarrassment and tried to deviate her attention
“Do you know it? I thought I was the only person that read these” She was surprised, looking up at him
“Yes, I have her mystery collection at home” The man sat down beside her, the aisle between them.
The two began talking about books, their hometown and their trips on the train. His name was Nick; he was a business consultant but preferred being outdoors and partaking in his leisurely pursuits to being in an office. He had a similar job to her but his trips were shorter on the trains. Nora forgot about her spilled drink, her attraction growing to the man who sat beside her, side to side with only the walkway separating them.

Nick and Nora marveled at the view, talked about their favorite authors, and decided that their trip through the lush countryside was perhaps one of the best trails in the hemisphere. What had started as a helping hand and a few kind words grew into a passionate conversation. It was easy to talk to Nick and with each word, their passion for conversation grew. They spoke at length about nothing in particular and laughed together. Aside from the server at the bar, there was no one in the compartment left within an hour of departure from the city station.

Nick’s stop arrived sooner than Nora liked. He wished her a continued pleasant journey, removed his suitcase from the rack, and slowly made his way off the train. Nora watched him leave, disappointed at their parting. She made her way to the bar for a last drink before her station which was fast approaching
“I’ll have another Coke” Nora sighed, looking at the bartender, who was dressed in a retro uniform.
“You want some chips or more peanuts?” The bartender asked politely.
“Let me check if I have some more coins I can use” Nora dug into her purse.
“No need. That gentleman paid for it when he picked up napkins for you” The bartender smiled and began wiping the countertop as the train pulled into its final destination.

The Fisherman

Diego stood alone on the pier, the cold wind cutting across his frosty face. The glow had disappeared from his dry cheeks, his cracked skins bearing the brunt of winter’s harshness.  The cold and lonely world that Diego found at the end of the wharf was a hard vision to swallow. The seagulls had vanished, the boats stood stagnant, and he felt as though he had walked to the end of the earth. He did not have the energy to walk back into the world and face another day in his condition. He was depressed and he was angry, he had dealt with the blows of life; family tragedies, girl problems, and financial woes. Although he refused to feel sorry for himself, he was overcome with the process of his life.

A joyful couple passed, giggling before making their way past into the city night. Diego watched the girl, her happiness, her arm around her boyfriend as they reveled together. Diego was not jealous.  He had experienced these moments himself and observed young love in delight. A smile came across his face but soon disappeared as the clouds rumbled above threatening rain. Diego sat back under cover of an outstretched awning, lighting a cigarette and reclining back to inhale the puffs that were proving costly to his healthy but relief to his mind. He decided he would quit the following day but quickly shook off the tedious occurrence of this particular thought.  Diego did not want to stop smoking, quickly deterring the urgency of ill health as he finished his cigarette.

Diego flicked his cigarette butt, locking his hands on the back of the head. He debated his hobbies, none of which he had followed through into young adulthood. He wished he had paid attention in school in hopes of a scholarship, he wished he had pursued a passion. Diego wished many things but did not wish to be where he was at this point in time. He eventually gathered himself from thought, happy to have had a moment to think about his life. Maybe he would stop smoking after all? Perhaps a new job was in order. He was unsure about how life would turn out but willing to attempt an escape from the clutches of self-loathing.

Diego started feeling better and breathed a sigh of relief. He was feeling optimistic and turned his head to notice a man waving at him.
“Can you give me a hand with this rope”
Diego stood up.
“Just put it around that dock anchor” The fisherman threw his rope to Diego.
“You got a smoke?” The man asked.
Diego accommodated the fisherman.
“I haven’t had one in a couple days. I can’t hold out anymore. Well to be honest, I can’t really afford them either” The fisherman chuckled without embarrassment
Diego stood in awkward silence, lighting another cigarette as the fisherman puffed away his own. The two men soon started talking about the sea, girls and the world. The man’s life was a mirror of Diego. The fisherman removed his cooler from the boat, along with two fishing rods. An impromptu hour of fishing and drinking ensued.
Diego decided to make a change. He would invest in a fishing rod. He walked back into the city with a smile on his face.

The Bench

The bench located in the middle of Corner Park was now a greenish-grey tint. It had survived many winters, placed in memory of an old upstanding citizen that died years before Denis ever sat on it for the first time. Denis had lived around the park since his birth and spent a great amount of moments during his youth near the park bench.  His first beer, his first passionate kiss, and his first break up all took place in this park, near the bench.

As an adult, he still visited frequently, although the circumstances around the park had changed over the years. The chess players no longer came, there were fewer playing children, and the young people that spent time there seemed to disappear overnight. The bench, along with an old statue, was the only remnant of the park that once stood.

The leaves drifted down to the grass in autumn, the snow fell every winter and the park remained sparkling with sunshine during the summers. Eventually, there was no sign of the past left, aside from a couple of old timers that would nod at Denis before continuing onward through their day. Nostalgia grew at times within Denis but quickly gave way to the present.

During the spring and fall, Denis would visit the parks and spend time in the cool nightfall. The park of his youth was still a place of relaxation and comfort. He would feed the geese pieces of old bread, attempt to strike up meaningless conversations with the occasional visitor or just read the newspaper while seated on the chipped bench that had given way from its green color to plain brown.

One day, he met a young lady and struck up a conversation that would lead to him courting her and eventually affording company to the lonely evenings. They spent their time together in the spring and summer having picnics, laying on the grass, and conversing about the universe. Their hours together were greatly pleasant and during the weeks, they met for a few hours and returned to their homes, only to see each other at the park again within a couple of days of saying goodbye.

They spoke about life, love, and expressed their lust for each other. They laughed seated on the bench, their arms around each other, and on a few occasions, she shed tears of sorrow recounting past stories. Their picnics would end sprawled on the grass, giggling while sipping wine. They poked and prodded each other, the relationship blossoming and breathing well into the nights. There were happy and sad moments alike, the bench their favorite place to indulge each other.

Eventually, autumn came and the leaves began to fall again from the trees. A coat of brown covered the park before the leaves were finally cleared for the winter months. The couple began to communicate less and eventually, their contact completely seized.  She had seemingly moved on and Denis visited the park on rare occasion in the winter. The bench was covered in snow around the cold season, unusable and therefore, he knew to wait until the spring when the weather was warm and the snow had thawed.

The end of winter jolted life into Denis for another spring adventure. He walked his way to the park for the first time in three months, the longest he had been able to keep away for years. Newspaper in hand and a cold drink in the other, he longed to make up for lost time at his favorite park, only to find the bench replaced with a flower patch.  As he made his way to observe the upheaval of his most desired location, there were significant changes, hardly any places to sit, the benches replaced with a few marble tops around the park. The familiarity was stripped and replaced throughout the interior. Denis stood and observed the surroundings. He decided to leave the park and return home for good.

Stay close

You sit tucked tightly on the couch to make an appearance for an evening, only to disappear at length with no sign of your return. How I await your entrance our home, how I yearn for your affection. You are the apple of my eye, the love of my young life. My world revolving around your warmth; you are the dessert to my dinner, the affection for my affliction. When you whisper sweet nothings, I listen intently in attempts to make out your mumbling. Although I do not always understand, I continue at your side. My head planted firm in your lap, your delicate fingers playing with my thick brown hair. I fall asleep only to wake up with you no longer near.

Abandoned in grief, I am a sick lover indeed. I must be strong but I remain weak for your touch. I pass my days with thoughts upon us. You come home to me when I can no longer afford to be alone, my uncertainty spent on the doubt of your return. Do not leave me again; do not release me into an independence I may certainly not manage evermore.

I search by day to find by night, you are the calm to my fright, the spark to my light. Ignite a fury of envy when others come into your sight, I am your jealous lover, but as your dog I refuse you spite.

Look

How you stare through me, your eyes piercing my sight so fragile. I refuse to fully return the glance. I wish not to be held captive. Your smile is met with a clench of my teeth, revealing little detail to a stranger. You stop to observe, I wish to hide, away from view, away from you. I can only look away so long before you turn my head and vision upon you without a word to lock into your gaze.
“What are you looking at?” I wish to shout but only my lip quivers. You continue to hold my eyes under a spell, continuing to walk past in slow motion, bringing my world to an irritating halt. Staring to satisfaction, you march onward, content in your upheaval of my delicate march.  I pause in my path, refusing to accept you passing by without drawing a firm conclusion. You may not impede on my life in such a manner. I refuse to let you look, how dare you shake my walk and stroll off without a word? I approach you firmly, with haste
“Excuse me…Do we know each other?” I ask
“No. I don’t think so” She states, startled
“Then why are you looking at me in such a way?”
“I don’t know what you’re talking about” She replies slowly walking away
I stand planted in the middle of the street.
She continues to the corner, stopping, staring once more, before continuing out of sight.

Body

A final line of defense penetrated by a fist of force so powerful, upending my world. Shattering the foundation, the busting seams cave in to crush the existence that once stood in pride. The pile owned by the hands of uncontested power bartering my home, piece by piece, to those who purchase for pleasure and for curiosity.  No more a sympathy shred for my disgraced house, discarded in haste, worthy of no less than a look of spite for what once dared exist.
The released pieces of my broken house are no longer clutched by purchasing hands, dropped back to the ground until their eventual disintegration into dust. Scattered, released by some, held onto by others as a mere souvenir.
How would I rebuild such a splendid home? The dispersed pieces of this puzzle no longer accessible to be reassembled by my weary hands. So I decided to build again, in time, and amass pieces to construct my home, brick by brick, until I created a similar habitat. Once recreated, the home stood taller, but was not the same. The home I mourned, replaced by one I created myself once again, filled with furniture but void of memories, holding promise but guaranteeing no more than a roof.
The house I built was a replica, but I added an extra brick; a brick for my troubles, a brick for the nature of my soul, a brick for the lump in my throat that reminded me that this home would never be the same.

Outright

Suspended away from a world so unstable
finding safety in an unlikely location
A thin layer sufficient to keep upright the weariest of legs
the perpetual peninsula outstretched
far out upon a ledge of solid stone
Reaching out to stand alone

Black

Flying to corners of the sky to fall off the earth
tumbling from the sphere, square into a deep darkness
illuminated by dots of old light, flickering to resurrect restrained minds
sleepwalking on starry stepping stones
swimming in the vacuum of space; a black hole of warping faces
an oasis of mirages on an interstellar adventure

An endless plunge through bottomless pits
undressing fears on the way down, clothes in range, off radars belonging to strange
crashing through thick emptiness on my fall
feet firmly planted in space clutching air for a grip on reality so forgotten