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.

Advertisements
Uncategorized

Lament

This is an excerpt from a new novel I have begun to write. Comments appreciated.


I

     I didn’t see it on the news. None of her friends called me, and I didn’t hear from it at school. Two policemen showed up at my front door in Antioch. I answered the door on a particularly normal, humid summer afternoon. I saw the police cruiser outside, and the men took off their hats and asked if I was Adrian Lopez. When I replied yes, the tall, bearded cop on the left of the doorway said that there wasn’t any easy way to say this, so I’ll just say it. Your friend Maya committed suicide this morning. She left a death note on her desk: it’s got your name on it.

I was in a state of sheer shock and disbelief. It took my brain a few seconds to comprehend the words that just came out of the man’s mouth. The policemen declared that they would have to take me to her house and have me answer a few questions. I sat in the doorway for a moment; my eyes glazed a bit. And then I followed them to the police cruiser, and I didn’t say a word. I got in the back seat, and I pressed my forehead against the window. The car rocked back and forth as we sped off toward Concord, where Maya’s father lived. I looked up outside the window into the clear blue summer sky, and I could’ve sworn I saw the eyes of God staring into my soul; he was laughing.

We arrived outside of her father’s house in exactly 12 minutes and 13 seconds. That was the longest 12 minutes of my entire life. The bearded policeman opened my car door, and I stepped outside to a funeral-type scene of medical technicians, the coroner, and Maya’s father standing outside the front porch of the house. He looked at me with his swollen, bloodshot red eyes; a look of fury and depression was infused in his pupils. As I approached the house, the plethora of people split from the stone walkway and allowed me to pass onto the porch. Maya’s father, the disdainful and violent man she would always talk about, was a pathetic and unworthy sight. He had short cut black hair, and was carrying a Giants snapback in his hands. He wore a white wife beater T-shirt, and sagged his pants a few inches below his waist without a belt. As I stepped onto the front wooden porch, I turned my head and glared right into his eyes. Not one word was spilled from his lips, but I heard everything he was trying to say.

The bearded policeman told me that Maya’s body was found in her bedroom: she had hung herself. He say that If you want to go inside to see her and read her note, you may do so; but please don’t touch anything, for the room has already been detailed. A look of suspicion and pity was upon his face; I could see it in his eyes. I trudged slowly up the staircase; there were exactly 14 wooden steps, and the last 4 to the top creaked slightly. The walls of the house were painted a pale yellow, and there was a crucifix upon the wall at the top of the staircase. A picture of Jesus Christ himself was on the hallway wall before the door to Maya’s bedroom. It was a picture of him and his disciples at the Last Supper. I glared into the picture for a moment; a sense of sadness and anxiety zipped right through my body. My hands began to shake, and my eyes began to tear up. I was not prepared for what I was about to see.

I slowly creaked open the white door that led to Maya’s room. I closed my eyes in fear of seeing a horror that I could not handle. Once I had the door pushed up against her bedroom wall, I slowly opened my eyes with my hands covering my face. She was hung in the middle of the room from her black leather belt that was attached to the plastic chandelier in the middle of the ceiling. Her eyes were closed, but she was looking right through me. Her crispy brownish-blonde curly hair was banging down the sides of her head. Her lips and skin were pale, and her body was motionless. There was a detesting and foul odor in the room: it was the smell of death. I was overwhelmed with terror, sadness, and rage. I began to cry hysterically, and I slowly slumped down to the floor holding onto my knees. I covered my face with my hands, and rocked slightly forward and backward. I sobbingly spoke the words Why, Why, Why to myself in my fit of emotion.

After a good four minutes, I composed what little I could of myself to approach her pink mahogany desk in the corner of her bedroom. There was a piece of binder paper placed directly in the center of the desk, and written upon it in pink pen were words that will haunt me for the remainder of my life:

 

Adrian,

I’m sorry things went wrong between us. I was wrong to not realize how great of a guy you are. You never betrayed me or lied to me or tried to take advantage of me. You never gave up on me and you were the only one who was there for me when even I wasn’t. I am sorry that I have tortured you for so long. I have neglected you and your love, and I have caused you unspeakable amounts of pain. I am sorry. I am sorry for everything I’ve put you through. This will be the last time I talk to you. I don’t deserve you. I am not good for you. I can never forgive myself for pushing away the one guy who was my best friend: you are my best friend. And I turned you away; I neglected how perfect our lives could be together. I love you, Adrian. I always have. I always will. I’m sorry I didn’t realize that sooner, but I am not going to hurt you anymore.

Love always and forever,

Maya

 

 I stared at the letter for a moment, and I lost it. I started screaming and crying in a state of sheer delirium. Why Maya? Why? I screamed. I’m sorry! I’m so sorry for everything! The policemen rushed inside and pulled me out of the bedroom and out to the front porch. I collapsed on my knees and sat there on the grass. A female medical technician kneeled down beside me and rubbed my back slowly, saying Its going to be OK. Shhhhh she said quietly. I hugged and cried into her shoulder.

After the coroner had taken away Maya’s body, the medical personnel began to leave. Maya’s father shook the policemen’s hands and went into the house, and I had pulled myself together just in time to see the female medical technician get into her ambulance. She waved for me to come to the window. Are you OK? she said. I nodded slightly, my eyes looking down to the street. She took her index finger under my chin, and raised my eyes to meet hers. You’ll be alright, hun. she said. I backed away from the ambulance and she drove off slowly down the street. I couldn’t forget the look she had in her sparkly greenish-bluish eyes. It was a look of hope. I trudged over to the police cruiser, and the policemen and I got inside and began to drive home. I looked through the rear windshield and saw Maya standing in the middle of the street, her curly crisp hair waving slightly in the wind. She had her glasses on, and she was waving goodbye to me. I turned back around, looked out the window, and did not say a word to anyone.

II

     I didn’t talk to anybody for two weeks. My mother called my work and told them to give me time off. It was summer vacation, so I didn’t have to go to school. I just stayed in my room. I didn’t eat much. I didn’t go outside or watch TV or play video games on my computer. I had the window closed most of the time, the blinds all the way shut. I would put on a apple cinnamon candle every night, and stare at it from my bed while it glowed in the darkness. My mother would open my bedroom door every morning before she went to work, and would say she loved me and that she hoped I feel better. My older brother didn’t talk to me much or see me; I think my mother told him not to. I just sat in my room, and did nothing. I didn’t have it in me to do anything. It felt like I was the one hanging in that bedroom. It felt like dying.

One day, I decided to go for a walk. I put on some blue PE shorts, a white plain T-shirt, some black slippers, and started walking. It was maybe 10 o’clock in the morning. The birds chirped as they usually did. The sun and the sky were out, bright and shining. I don’t know how far I walked from my home, but I stumbled upon the Antioch community park. It was a luscious, expansive patch of grass and redwood trees. I followed the white stone pathway to the center of the park: there was a colorful play structure with a sandbox in the middle of the field, a softball field to the far end of the park, and a few metal benches hidden in the shade of the trees. I sat down on one of the benches and listened to the rustling of the leaves; the chirping of the birds and sounds of the wind’s breeze. I watched the flies dance and celebrate in the sandbox. A crow flew onto the pathway to the right of the bench. It croaked several times and stared at me. What do you want? I said. It croaked again, and walked to the left side of the bench.

Maya was there sitting next to me. She was staring at the crow.

“I think he just wants someone to talk to.” She said. She looked at me, the rim of her glasses reflecting the leaves of the redwood tree.

“I don’t want to talk to anybody right now.” I replied. I looked away from her, for I couldn’t bear the thought of staring into her green eyes.

“You can talk to me. I will always be here for you. Always have been.”

I looked at her, a small smile on her face. Her pink, soft lips. Her cute little nose. It brought a lonely tear to my eye, and it slithered down my cheek.

“Why did this happen, Maya?” I asked.

“You should think about that.” She said to me. “I want you to think about that really hard. Where did we go wrong?”

“I don’t know where to start, Maya. Things were complicated between us.”

“If you don’t know where to start, why not start from the beginning?” She said. She stood up from the bench, and looked out onto the field. She put her hands on her hips, her curly hair blowing in the wind. I closed my eyes for a moment, and I felt the window blow against my face. The crow croaked again, and I opened my eyes in a shock. The crow, and Maya, were gone. I was left in the company of my bench, the redwood tree, and the wind.

III

     I first met Maya in 6th grade at Pine Hollow Middle School in Concord. She didn’t look much different than she did now. Still had glasses, the cute little nose, and the soft brown freckles on her cheeks. She had braces, and was about my height. The only real difference was her hair; its more curly now than it ever has been.

We didn’t have any classes together, though I would always see her in the halls. Never really thought anything of her. We weren’t the best of friends in 6th grade; as a matter of fact, we never really talked that much at all. We had been introduced before, but we didn’t hang out or talk very often. I was oblivious to her, and she was oblivious to me. That’s probably the one thing about 6th grade that I regret: I didn’t know who Maya was. I didn’t get to know what type of girl she was, what she was like. I didn’t pay attention to her. I still think about what life could’ve been like if I had. If we had been better friends, things could’ve been different. But life is the way it is, and it was not our time.

I remember a particular incident in Mrs. Kahl’s class. We were in the middle of Language Arts and were about to transfer over to World History when Maya, who was the office TA in 6th grade, came in with a note. Mrs. Kahl was just about finished with reading a passage from the textbook, and Maya came strolling down the aisle toward Mrs. Kahl’s desk in the front of the room. I don’t know how it happened, but a boy stuck his foot out in front of her; she tripped and nearly plowed onto the concrete floor if I had not caught her in time. Some of the boys in the class giggled, and some of the girls sneered and glared. It happened so quickly, and yet it was like I saw it coming. I jumped out of my desk in a flash and caught her with my arms in a hug-like fashion. Are you OK? I said. She nodded slightly, her cheeks red with embarrassment. I smiled slightly, and sat back down. She gave Mrs. Kahl the note, and exited the class in a hurry.

I remember later that day at lunch she came up to me when I was sitting on a green, plastic bench in the quad. Thank you. she said to me. I smiled slightly, and replied No problem. We sat there for a moment, and glared at each other. Her group of friends came along and swept her away. I still remember the glance she gave me when she turned around before they went into the cafeteria.

After that, we didn’t talk too much. I didn’t see much of her for the rest of 6th grade. I always heard about her, though. An occasional rumor here and there about “Maya the weirdo”. Some girls would be talking about how she was a loner and how she didn’t really hang out with anyone. She just sat quietly in class and did her work. I never paid much attention, but its interesting to reminisce about it now. I think in some way, I should’ve paid more attention to Maya. Maybe she was a loner, and maybe she just needed a good friend to talk to. But I was too young and foolish and naïve to pay any real attention to her or anything in the world. I didn’t understand what love or friendship meant. I didn’t understand how valuable a friend could be. I just carried on with my day-to-day affairs, and I didn’t speak to Maya. I didn’t think about Maya. If I was to put it in a blunt way, I didn’t care all that much about Maya in 6th grade. But, as life would have it, things change.

 

Uncategorized

The Longest Stare

The Longest Stare

By Adrian Lopez

It was the greatest night of my life. When I walked on the stage, received my high school diploma with Honors, and looked out into the plethora of people in the audience, it was like I was looking out toward my future. It was such a rush of emotion and feelings. I picked out Samantha from the crowed, her bright and gleaming face smiling at me in her red cap-and-gown. The proudest moment of my entire life.

Later that night, I picked her up from her house and we went out for a night on the town. The city was bustling with life. Whenever we saw some friends packed four-to-a-car, Samantha would roll down her window and shout out at them. We went to the most expensive steakhouse in the city. I figured that the most important girl in my life deserved the best on the greatest day of our lives. We had just graduated high school, after all.

It was a particularly hot summer night. Well after two in the morning, it was still quite warm outside. Samantha suggested that we go to Ol’ Wilson’s Park and take a nice walk. We drove down the deserted city streets with the sunroof down; her silky brown hair flowed ever so elegantly with the wind.

We parked the car close to the dirt trail. I turned off the engine and lights, and we just sat ever so still listening to the tink-tink of the engine. I couldn’t have asked for a more perfect night. We got out of the car and started walking up the trail to “Ol’ Wilson’s Hill”. It was dark, and I could barely see Samantha walking beside me, but I knew she was there. Even in darkness, she glowed brighter than the heat of a thousand burning suns. We sat down on the old, rusted metal bench at the top of the hill and admired the bright, vibrant lights and scapes of the entire city. It took my breath away. I distinctly remember Samantha putting her soft, fragile fingers in between mine. We sat in silence, cherishing the precious and perfect moment. We had no idea what time it was, but neither of us cared. If I could give my soul for just one wish, I’d wish that moment would have lasted forever.

Through the silence, Samantha softly said, “I need to talk to you about something.” I turned to her, and an enormous smile came over my face. I was anxious to hear whatever she had to say on a night like this. In the back of my mind, I was hoping it was about our future together.

“Did I tell you I got accepted into Harvard? Full scholarship,” Samantha told me. I was shocked; a sensation of joy ran through me. “That’s incredible,” I said. “I am so happy for you, Samantha. Congratulations!”

The look on her face. The look in her eyes. Her eyes, dear God. That look will haunt me until the day I die. The joy immediately left my mind, and was replaced with worry. She stood up and paced back and forth a few times. I didn’t know what was going on. I knew she wanted to tell me something, I just wasn’t certain what. She said back down, took my hand into her lap, and looked down at the ground.

“I am sorry about everything that I am about to say. I got accepted into Harvard Law School, and you are going to UCLA for a film career. We’re going to be 3000 miles apart from each other, carrying out our own business and living our own lives. I think we need to end this relationship. I just can’t bear the thought of being so far away from you, my love; of making you give up on your dreams and your happiness to be my husband. I won’t let you do that for me. I understand if this breaks your heart, and I am sorry. You don’t have to forgive me for what I am doing to you. But if I may ask one thing of you, please: understand.”

I felt like screaming. I felt like crying and tearing my own heart out. The amount of sadness, dread, anger, and hopelessness that rushed into my head all at one time put me into a state of shell shock. I stared into her eyes, and she stared into mine. It was the longest stare of my entire life. The girl that I had loved ever since I laid my eyes on her in kindergarten, the girl I always thought about through middle school, and who finally loved me since my freshman year of high school was telling me straight and true that our relationship would end. I didn’t know what to think. I didn’t know what to feel. But in the end, I kissed her hand, wiped the small crystalline tear from her cheek, kissed her on her forehead, and hugged her ever so tightly until the crack of the sun came over the horizon. In the end, I forgave her. I accepted the fact that I would never put a ring on Samantha’s finger, or be the father of her children or the husband that would cherish her and take care of her. I accepted that we would not grow old together. I forgave her. I forgave her because I love her, and I would do anything for her. So that’s what I did: I forgave her for the pain she caused me, the long nights and waking moments of grief and sorrow that were because of her. I forgave her, and I moved on and carried on with my life. There is no greater deed she could have asked of me. I hope I made her proud.

Any comments would be appreciated!