Literature / Poetry

The Saint

This is a short story written for my college creative writing class.


 

She wasn’t like the others. She wasn’t like Stacy or Sarah or Maya. She was something else. I’ve been through six states in eight towns in twenty years, and I’ll never meet anyone like her again. Every coffee shop, every gas station, every damn restaurant: I see her face.

I met her in college: she was the manager of the first campus job I ever had. She was a Latina with dark brown hair and fair tan skin, her eyes a chestnut hazel. There was a tiny gap in between her two front teeth, and her nose was small and pointed. Her hair was down to her shoulders, soft to the touch and smelling of shampoo.

She had the name of a Roman Catholic saint; I asked her one time if she knew what it meant, and she replied that she did not. Curious and interested, I researched her name: it is Spanish for the Virgin Mary.

But it wasn’t just her name that she had in common with Mary: she was angelic, timid, innocent in a way that my eyes and words almost can’t explain. She never yelled, never cursed; her presence would brighten up the room, and her smile made you joyful and exuberant; you could talk to her in Spanish and tell her dirty jokes and the other students would wonder what it was you guys were talking about. She was a woman, older than I, but at the same time she was also a girl, as young and as virgin as any could be.

I loved her. I loved this woman, and she is gone and I will not find her again. I cannot tell if I pushed her away or if she was always far from me.

*

School had just started, and a strapping, tall young man had walked into her café looking for a job; he had light short brown hair, thin and long arms, and was wearing a three-piece black suit in hope of an interview.

She saw him, and he saw her, and there was a connection; he was attractive, as was she, and for a moment the young man forgot he was a college student looking for a job and felt like he was a stud looking for a date. He approached the young Latina woman, who had on a suit herself, and spoke about a job.

He was hired on the spot.

They worked together in the late nights after closing time: they brewed the coffee for the next day, swept the floors and sprayed the windows, and counted the money in a small manager’s office in the back of the café.

It was in that small box that they made love for the first time.

It was hot, passionate, emotional lovemaking, the black oak desk being the surface upon which the young Latina saint had known a man for the first time in a long while. The young boy had felt he scored a touchdown and won the game-winning basket: he felt on top of the world.

It all came crashing down on him.

*

Things progressed like it was the typical young-man-hooks-up-with-an-older-woman story: the boy and the saintly woman knew each other often, their meetings secret from the world. Sometimes she would instigate the passion, and sometimes the young man would make the move.

It was sometimes at her house, and sometimes at his dorm; she looked young enough to be a student as far as anyone could tell. The lovemaking was fierce and determined, and they both enjoyed the circumstances.

But the weeks turned into months, and the months turned into a year, and the young man felt more and more like he was falling for the saint. There was more than just body: there was spirit and heart and mind. He thought about her all the time, fantasized all the time, and more and more his heart wanted to know what existed between them.

But she resisted, and would not let out her feelings. She would not tell him how she felt, and she would give him no closure or satisfaction.

*

            You must think I’m crazy: any guy would kill to be where I was. Attractive older woman flirting around with a young college kid, it’s right out of a 1970s John Holmes pornographic film.

But there is more to it than that: time has a way of teaching the young man to grow up, and the older woman to long to be young again.

As time wore on, I began to love this woman.

I imagined a whole life with her; I imagined finishing my studies and marrying her; I imagined having kids and a mortgage and a car payment with her, paying off my student loans and perhaps inheriting what she had from her younger years; I imagined her little Chihuahua becoming my little Chihuahua, her house becoming my house, her heart becoming my heart.

But it was never meant to be.

*

It was raining on that particular day; the sky was black and it was well into the night. The young man and the saint had finished their duties, and he walked her to her car in the pouring rain.

They drove in silence, her hands gripping the steering wheel tightly and her body slightly quivering. The windshield wipers went back-and-forth, the heater blasting warm air onto their faces.

She did not smile; she did not joke or turn on the radio or call him chico; she did not punch her knuckles into his chest or touch his broad shoulders or glide her fingernails across his blond arm hair. This day was different, and he could feel it.

It was warm inside of her house; the little Chihuahua rushed at him with the same affection as always, licking his hand and running in between his legs. She walked to the kitchen to put down her things as always, and asked if he needed anything.

He didn’t have the guts to say the word love.

They proceeded upstairs in the dim light, her buttocks close to his face in grey trousers: it didn’t stir in him the same feelings as before.

They got upstairs, and she went to the master bathroom as always to undress and spruce up; he stood by the door in front of the big dressing mirror on the wall and looked at himself: he saw a tall, empty young man; he saw a young man who felt like terribly old, who felt like his relationship had lost its flame and he didn’t know how to keep the embers smoldering.

But then he remembered: there was no relationship.

She came out of the bathroom in black undergarments, her legs sleek and attractive; her hair was longer now, down to her breasts, and she held her hands on her tummy. She looked at the young man, passion and longing in her eyes, but there was something else he had not seen before.

Anger.

She approached him, her walk like that of Marilyn Monroe. They stared into each other’s eyes, and although a part of his body was speaking to him, he knew it wasn’t a part that mattered.

“I love you,” he said softly.

She stopped dead in her tracks, her mouth opening slightly. She looked at him in the eyes for a moment, and then stepped back and sat down on the bed. She stared at the ground.

He could not move or think or talk, and sadness slowly began to creep over him. There was a dead silence in the room, and they sat there for what seemed like a thousand years.

“Why are you doing this to me?” she asked him.

He looked for the words to answer.

“What is it I am doing to you, Lupe?” he asked softly.

She turned and laid down on the bed; she crossed her arms and stared at the wall. The young man approached the bed and laid down with her, putting the blanket over her soft skin. He put his hand over hers and stared into her eyes.

She began to cry.

“Why don’t you love me, Lupe?”

“There’s someone else… He’s a chef in Southern California.. he comes here on the weekends sometimes… We’ve been together for eight years, and he wants to be together forever. I love him… How could I love you?”

The boy couldn’t believe what he was hearing. He felt like he had been used.

“Then what was all of this for, Lupe? Why have you been lying to me for so long?”

She stared into his eyes, her eyes red and puffy and his becoming the same. He stood up from the bed and walked to the doorway; he turned back around and stared at the bed and the girl who was laying there, weeping and sorrowful. He walked out of the house without another word, the rain pouring down on him.

*

            You might be wondering, why do I care about a girl who did all of this to me? Well… I ask myself the same question. I have yet to find an answer. It’s not easy to just forget and go on.

I loved her. She was my first… and she will always be my first.

She quit her job at the café and moved to Southern California with him. I didn’t hear about it until I went back to work. I didn’t even get to say goodbye… For how long we were… together… if that’s the word… I didn’t even get to say goodbye…

I wish I could’ve told her I loved her… just one more time… I wish sometimes that I could go back in time and make things different. I sometimes wish I didn’t go into that coffee shop and ask for a job in a three-piece suit; I sometimes wish I didn’t want children or marriage or a mortgage with her; I sometimes wish I was dead, because that’s how my heart feels after all of this.

I can’t blame her completely: I was the one who loved her. I like to think, in some way, she loved me and she just couldn’t say it. She didn’t have the words to say it.

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Literature / Poetry

An Excerpt: Res Publica

The Etruscans were a unique and strange peoples; they lived north and north-east of Rome in the Po valley and Etruria. They spoke a foreign tongue and yet were so close to her dear Rome; they fought with an army consisting of Latins and their own, able-bodied Etruscan men. We have heard stories of them battling and fending off the barbarian Celts to the north of Italia’s peninsula, but we have yet to see it first-hand.

I recall my first battle with the Etruscans, and I was disappointed at their lack of ferocity and valor. Our legion was under the command of Legatus Aurelius Spartonius, and we marched north from Rome into the heart of the Po valley to encounter an Etruscan force of ca. 4,000 Italian spearmen, 400 citizen cavalry, and a ghastly sight of disorganized Italian militias who numbered around 1,000 men. Legatus Spartonius had asked the Senate for a command of 10,000, but received just shy of 3,000 hastati, 1,000 principes, and the famed Legion of Mars, which was a veteran regiment of 1,000 triarii. We also had the usual assortment of the baggage train and the flanking regiments of velites and equites¸ and I cannot forgot my own incorporation into the army: I was part of the speculatores regiment. My job was to screen and explore ahead of the main body to attain the enemy’s positions, find useful flanking and attack paths, and warn the body of any natural and unfortunate obstacles that would hamper our ability to attain victory.

We equaled the Etruscans in strength, but the fortitude and discipline of the hastati was enough to break through their front lines. We had marched onto the field just before dawn. The crop was a pale yellow, and the sun in its wee hours illuminated the sky in a pink-violet tinge. There were young ripples of clouds sprawled out in the air, and it looked as the eyes of the Gods smiled upon the sons of Rome to attain victory against the Etruscans. The night prior to the battle me and three compatriots had rode, silently, ahead of the camped legion to discover the Etruscans foolishly lying on a gorge of small hills. Their fires were easily visible to us, and we could discover their numbers and order of battle without much difficulty; they had the militias and spearmen on the immediate right flank, and the citizen cavalry on the left, for we could hear the rearing of the horses and the banter of the militias in the nighttime atmosphere.

The rising of the sun occurred just as we had finished our battle deployment. I stood to the far left of the line behind the triarii, and inspected our force; it was a terrifying and superior sight to see. The glazing of the bronze and iron on the bodies of the soldiers, and the firmness and fearless pose in which they stood, would have scared the Gods themselves. The hastati stood as the first line in the order of battle; they are young, strong and able-bodied men equipped with the gladius, two pila, and a large, rectangular shield that came to represent their rank. Behind them stood the majestic principes, who were the more seasoned and mature of the legion. And at last stood the famed and feared triarii, the heaviest infantry in the Roman realm and a force that could crash and fight against death itself. It is not often that Rome, or a legatus, fights a battle to the triarii, but certainly a battle would end in decisive victory.

Literature / Poetry

An Excerpt: Requiem for a Man

“Can I help you, miss?” I asked nervously.

She sighed heavily in relief.

“You live on this floor, I hope?” She inquired softly.

“I sure hope I do; got keys, furniture, and rent.”

“Which apartment do you live in? I think Gloria gave me the wrong key.”

“I live in apartment 27.” I walked closer to her and stood in front of the door to my apartment. I pointed my index finger toward the door, and prepared to get out my keys.

“See, my key doesn’t open the door to apartment 25.” She demonstrated that the key would not permit the door to open.

“Did you want to come inside my apartment? Figure it out later? Can’t stay out her alone, and you look exhausted.” I said sincerely.

A surprised look came on her face. She contemplated my question for a moment, and slightly nodded to me in compliance. A small smirk came upon her face. I opened the door to my apartment, and I picked up her trunk with my left hand and motioned with my right for her to go in before me. She proceeded slowly into my living room, and I followed her inside and shut the door behind me.

The small dim of light from the sun was slowly coming in through the balcony window. The rain persisted, and gray overcast clouds covered the New York sky. I set the trunk down by the front door, removed my jacket and belongings, and sat down at my kitchen table. She removed her scarf and sat down on the opposite of me. It was quiet for a moment. The pat-pat of the rain continued, and I breathed slowly in and out, exhausted.

“Thank you.” The woman whispered quietly.

“You don’t need to thank me, its fine. Do you want to get some rest? You can sleep in my bedroom if you like, I’ll stay out here on my small loveseat. I don’t sleep a lot anyway.”

“What’s your name?” She asked solemnly.

“Vincent.” I replied. “And yours?”

“Victoria.” She said. She was staring right at me. I felt some sort of negative vibe within myself that inclined me to not look at her in any way; I stared at the middle of the kitchen table.

“What is your profession?” I inquired.

“I am studying to be a schoolteacher.” She whispered.

“Didn’t answer my question.” I replied.

“Oh, you mean my line of work right now?” She asked. A look of slight guilt came upon her face. “I don’t know whether to tell you the truth or lie to you.”

I looked up at her. I stared into her face for just a moment, and looked back down at the table.

“I’m sorry, I didn’t mean to embarrass you, Victoria. You don’t have to respond if you don’t want to.”

“I’m a prostitute…” She replied quietly. We both looked down at the table in silence. I didn’t know how to respond.

“Did you want some coffee or anything?” I asked apologetically.

A small grin came upon her face.

“No thanks.” She replied sweetly. “You know, you’re the only man in my personal life that hasn’t judged me the second I revealed myself to be an escort.”

I looked up and stared into her eyes for a moment.

“I am only but a man.” I replied softly. We stared at each other a little longer, and then she got up from the table, looked back behind her toward my bedroom, smiled slightly at me, and continued toward my bedroom. She opened the door and went inside, but left it slightly ajar. I contemplated in silence what she was asking of me. I stared at the ground, and then got up and moved toward my cushion loveseat in the living room. I sighed a heavy sigh, stared at my bedroom door, and slowly fell asleep. I remember the light of the sun was shining dimly through my balcony window, and the rain had stopped. It was quiet, and there was peace.

Literature / Poetry

An Excerpt: Aetas

Prometheus awoke. The sky was covered in deathly overcast gray clouds; there were raindrops that sprinkled from the heavens and did not touch the ground; the air was cold and crisp, yet possessed no scent; a blanket of mist and fog rested upon the land, yet obscured no vision; the willowing of the wind could be felt across the skin, and yet made no sound. There was a small river by which Prometheus had lain; it sat perfectly still, yet curiously had flow; the ground was of a gray, soft sand that held no texture and possessed no weight; there were not rocks on the earth, nor birds in the sky; there were not weeds in the ground, nor trees in the far; there appeared no Sun to cast light, and yet it was day.

Prometheus stood, bare-naked and of a superior height; broad, firm shoulders and strong, muscular legs; a skin not of complexion, yet not of rough or grainy feel; black crew-cut hair and small, reserved ears; a moderate nose, serious puffy lips, cheekbones of perfection, a neutral chin without flaw or hair; the archetype of a man.

Save for his eyes; pupils as dark as night, and retinas as red as blood; his gaze and firm eyebrows possessed a powerful, almost furious look; there were eyes that had seen lifetimes, and yet had not gazed upon a day; they were the eyes of a child, teenager, and elderly man all at the same moment; they were eyes of emotion and passion, peace and ambition; they were the eyes of no man.

There was frost in his breath, and yet Prometheus felt no cold. He examined his surroundings, finding not life or activity; he strolled slowly to the side of the river calmly beckoning to him; he took his small, plump toes and dipped his feet within the water. Ripples radiated across the surface and slowly reversed back to their origin; the water was a glowing warm sensation, exhilarating and soothing. Prometheus retracted his feet from the river, his toes possessing no moisture. His feet did not dirty or foul from the earth beneath; Prometheus scooped up a clump of dirt within his veined, manly hands; his fingers retained not dirt or texture.

Prometheus gazed down the land where the serpent river flowed; small hills and dunes rolled up and down the landscape; Prometheus began to follow the river’s path, not knowing what lay in the distance.