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.

Reflections

Friend-zoned and its Effects

We’ve all been there before: you like someone, they don’t like you back.

Or perhaps they felt some way about you, you about them, and it didn’t turn into what you wanted it to be because of outside forces or changes in one’s mentality.

Most-often enough you are, what society calls, “friend-zoned”.

Definition of friend-zoned: to be put in a place of being a platonic and non-romantically involved companion when there were, to some degree, romantic feelings before.

This has happened to me countless times, and it probably has plagued more individuals on this planet then anyone cares to admit: its a common and shame-inducing occurrence. People, saddened and angry that things did not work out the way they expected, deny having certain feelings or lie about being ok with just being “friends”. What the hell does that entail, exactly?

A bigger, more important question is how one really does be ok with just being “friends”. With having romantic feelings comes certain romantic desires and ambitions, and with desires and ambitions come certain feelings. Whether they be sexual or romantic and having to pertain to the word, “love”, or whether they be misconstrued perceptions of affection, feelings of intimacy have the power to change the hearts and minds of people. So when this friend-zoned situation comes along, how is it that one deals with it?

I have taken but two routes in my life:

  • The first way to deal with being “friend-zoned” is arguably the more mature, wise, and perhaps more “destructive”; one simply accepts how the other individual feels, and “lets it go”. Doesn’t mean that one stops talking or caring about this individual, but one accepts, both emotionally and psychologically, how the other feels and chooses to acknowledge those feelings and respect their wishes. This method pertains to teaching an individual that one is not the only person on this planet with feelings. However, this can have disastrous and destructive consequences; by accepting the notion that one’s happiness and wishes are more important than their own, one can possibly start to develop a mentality that their own self-respect, self-esteem, and self-happiness come second to others. While this may seem like some selfless and virtuous happening, one cannot help anyone else until they can help themselves. To have no love or self-respect or plain respect for one’s romantic and emotional feelings towards other human beings, one becomes quite unstable, emotionally distressed, and uncertain of what love, relationships, caring, and compassion mean.
  • The second way to deal with being “friend-zoned” is the more blunt, harsh, and unforgiving method(and perhaps the easier “bullet-to-the-head” way as well); one simply accepts how the other individual feels, and ends all contact and association with that person. No more “friends”, no more “buddy-buddy” hangouts; one stops being that person’s friend. Harsh, unforgiving, and merciless, one trades an eye for an eye in a Hammurabi-type of emotional resolution: if you cant be romantically involved, you can’t be friends. This method, tried and tested by yours truly, has its benefits and setbacks: the individual one was previously friends with might be left saddened and put into an awkward, guilt-ridden state, but eventually they will realize that they were most likely the one to have put up the “friend-zoned” wall in the first place; by not being friends anymore, they realize the extent of their actions against the individual, and hopefully do not let it occur again. Honesty and straight-forwardness are rewarded in this world, and in relationships they are duly appreciated.

With relationships and being “friend-zoned” there brings into light the question of, “Can a human (or humans) who had romantic feelings toward another be just ‘friends’?”

My answer to this is a most definite, absolute, and decisive NO. For to lower yourself to a level to believe that your feelings and your emotions can be cast away and suppressed simply for the reward of not having an awkward friendship is heresy and destructive to a human being. I have known it and seen it; I have lost friends, close friends, friends that I would have laid down my life for because of not being truthful in my feelings; because I was friend-zoned, and I tried to tell myself, “Hey, its OK, you can get over it.” No, it’s not OK. It’s never OK. Because in truth, everyone and anyone should have the opportunity to prove themselves in romantic relationships, and people should not lie or be confused or misconstrue how they feel towards someone and then regress on their feelings; there is no justification for such action.

I am dealing with one of these situations currently; there lies a question of whether or not to stop being friends with this person or to talk to them less or simply keep trying and be persistent in your desire to be their romantic partner. Reality and morality come face to face with me here, and I have yet to decide which route I am to take…

A.N. Lopez

Reflections

On Being 17

Well, it is December 21st, and I turned 17 years old just two days ago.

It’s strange, to tell the truth: in 363 days from now, I will be an adult; an adult with taxes and responsibilities and the ability to work at new jobs, make love to young women (and older), and buy certain things and go to certain places previously unknown to me. Kinda crazy thinking about all that.

The prospect of becoming an older person really tests your principles and outlook on the world; there are adults who act like children, and children who act like adults; there are men who act like boys, boys who act like men. It’s interesting to reflect on the idea of me, at 17 years old, already knowing about what I am going to do with my life and possessing the eagerness to carry out my ambitions.

But no matter how old are you are, whether you be a man or a boy, you always deal with the prospect of acting like a boy or acting like a man. There are teenagers who are young men like me who are scared shitless about the prospect of going out into the world as a legal adult. There are young men who think being an adult is another opportunity to practice their “YOLO-fuck bitches get money” way of life.

With being 17, I see things more in a realistic, and perhaps blunt, way: I am a 17 year old junior in high school; no longer can one lazily or nonchalantly dream of playing the field at school with girls who are younger them; one becomes more inherently and curiously interested in the idea of almost being able to play the field with scores of older women who are 18 and up. That line really does push a stake into one’s brain and remind them: “You are to start thinking like an adult, or you’ll forever be a child.”

But women are but one aspect of growing up. There are virtues and principles, responsibilities and actions to be considered and prepared for. Working at professions that require employees 18 and up; being able to sign binding contracts, pay taxes and owe credit and monetary bonds to the State, being able to marry legally and travel and explore without permission from a guardian or benefactor. There are men who become 18 who sign their lives away by joining the military or who stay within the perimeters of their parents and avoid taking on the challenging and daunting reins of independence. There are men who rise up to the occasion and take on the world declaring they are ready to stand on their own and make their mark.

I still can only imagine what type of man I will be; I still struggle and reflect daily on who I am right now. Principles and virtues and responsibilities remain my fields of battle, and I have until I turn 18 to train and kink out the enemies of vice, laziness, and unpreparedness from my character. Once I turn 18, and really once all men and women turn 18, they are thrust into the “adult world”, ready for it or not.

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Time and Again

There was a boy

Love is what he sought

Women brought him joy

But love, he found not

 

In his mind he was lost

Confused and weak-hearted

His heart became chill and frost

His morals long departed

 

It was lust that tore him down

He was disturbed in all respects

In his world, he would drown

A world of women and sex

 

He read of great men

Paragons of honor

Asked God to help him then

No response from thy Holy Father

 

He looked at other boys

Who were children, disgusting

They saw women as toys

Wanting to be players, thrusting

 

Time and again

The boy would do all he can

“Don’t focus on finding the right women

Focus on being the right man”.

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On Wealth, Individuality, and Conformity

Photo courtesy of: SlashGear

Well, it’s official: the iPhone 5S comes in gold. Whoopie.

But what does this mean for the people who buy the iPhone 5S in gold?

Let’s face it: more people have iPhones than people in the world have drinkable water. That’s disturbing. But why is that? Why do people constantly upgrade their iPhones or purchase their first one or need a flashy, Apple-logoed phone anyway?

The answer: wealth.

It is a part of human nature for humans to seek out a reason to show themselves off or express themselves. Whether that be how they dress, how they talk, act, or by what they possess, its all in the same ball game.

And yet if you look at it, the way humans show themselves off is what makes up a person and their life in general. How one acts, talks, and by what one has materially is what life is made up of. Some people are poor, some are criminals, some are rich.

But that is a matter of “wealth”. Look at it from a side of individuality and conformity.

My woodshop teacher once told me a story of his friend: a twenty-five year old millionaire businessman. This man, dressed in cargo shorts, sandals, a gray T-shirt, and an A’s baseball cap, walked into a Mercedes-Benz dealership. He received no attention from any staff members or employees, and so he walked out. Came back the next day in a three-piece suit, and the staff fell over themselves trying to sell him a car.

“I will never buy anything from this dealership, and I will tell my business associates and colleagues to never buy anything from here either.” The millionaire told the manager of the dealership.

Wealth is a possession that some people like to make known, others not so much. The millionaire man can be called someone who, possessing wealth, walks softly and would rather not show it off. A humble man, if you will.

He can also be described as an individualist. He does not conform to the societal notion that wealth and class must be made a part of who you are. Because in society’s view, wealth reflects your class. That’s why the Mercedes employees did not talk to the millionaire: he did not appear to have wealth, which means he did not appear to be part of the class of people who buys Mercedes cars.

If you go back to the iPhone situation, its a line of dominos: society differentiates classes of people based on which people possess wealth. An iPhone has become a symbol of wealth, and so everyone wants an iPhone to show off and appear “wealthy”. They are conformists.

Individuality. Conformity. Wealth. Society. They are all interrelated, but we still always have the choice of who to be, who to follow, and what to show off.

My message:

Be humble. Have few desires. Walk softly in the world of wealth.

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Tough Guy

Ace is the leader

A big boy in his twenties

Baby-face

Pouty mouth

Cheeks so red

Sly little steely eyes

Ace of spades on his right bicep

Inky-black octopus on his left

 

Car circling the park

Nobody’s watching

Popping noise like a firecracker

Ace screams and claps his hand to his eye

Blood

Buddies just freeze

Staring at Ace not knowing what to do

Scattering like pigeons

Ace is left alone

 

Blood running down his chest

Friends are scared following along

Don’t touch me!

Cops stop him

Dazed and ashamed

Friends have disappeared

Can’t get his breath

 

Way you’d talk to a small child or an animal

Can’t hold still

He’s crazy with fear

O God O God O God

He knows he’s going to die

Pain, pain throbbing and pounding everywhere

Orderlies hold him down

 

Death creeping up his feet

And he dies; it’s that easy

But there’s a feeling to him he isn’t real

People staring at him like he’s a freak

Stands sullen and quiet thinking his own thoughts

Hides how he feels

Ace stops laughing

You don’t know shit