Short Story: Oliver

This story came to me while I was showering one evening, as I was thinking about strange signs life can give us sometimes, and how we come to realize things too late. The end might seem a little dramatic, but isn’t that how it feels, when we are too late to grasp what could have been? So here I present, “Oliver”.

He chews the antacid as he closes his briefcase. The quarterly reports nestle between thick manila folders, loose pens, and a calculator. He adjusts his sweater and heads out the door. 7am skies on a spring day, dew still lingers, and the sun hazes caught between gossamer clouds.

Routine as railways, his feet the unwilling steel tires effortlessly gliding through, passing coffee shops and their inviting aromas of freshly baked goods. A sign sways lazily on a light pole, almost falling from the clear striated tape:

NEVER HIDE TWO EYES

SEEN AND HEARD

ALWAYS

He smiles at the inanity of it and continues, checking his watch now and then, knowing the train arrives at 7:30am every weekday morning. He sees another sign stamped on another light pole:

IF YOU SEE WITH TWO EYES

NOT HIDDEN

MAKE WISH

He scoffs, “yea, I wish” and laughs quickening his steps not wanting to miss the train -a few more blocks- he thinks to himself, egging himself further down the avenue.

He spots another sign:

MAKE WISH—->

His curiosity peaks and he veers away from the routine for a few minutes. He looks down the alleyway and decides on an impulse to follow. He wipes droplets of sweat off his forehead and smacks his chest gently wondering why the antacid isn’t kicking in yet.

A door is ajar, and he looks in. A solitary, wooden chair is off to his right, the room appears empty. Just as he is about to run back to his designated tracks, seeing there’s only five minutes left until his train arrives, something emerges from the shadows. He is momentarily taken aback as a small creature greets him by nodding its head. He notices the deep wrinkles on its face and within each fold, small mushroom like moles peek through. “I will grant you one wish” and it extends its arms towards this man.

He in turn watches before him, in his mind’s eye: a football game he played when he was in high school; playing a piano in a recital as his father records it with a video camera; a kitchen where his mother stirs a pot smiling at him; walking across a stage where a woman is holding a rolled up, ribbon tied paper; and a woman pulling away after kissing him, cheeks flushed, lips stained by the cherry soda they were sharing, the taste lingering on his tongue and her words echoing, “I think I love you Oliver”.

Before he could formulate his wish, a pain strikes him, his arm goes numb and he falls face down. He watches the creature disappear in a plume of upturned dust, the woman still in his mind’s eyes, “I think I love you Oliver” smiling. He could never bring himself to say them back. All the things between them seem trivial now. What was he looking for in life anyway? There was something strange happening between his mind and his heart. But as the blood slowly spills over the corners of his mouth, he could only taste the cherry soda.

I Break My Own Heart

Reminding myself that I break my own heart
I’m cruel to my delicate sentiments
following whims for fun
disregarding the pain along the way
disrespecting my own soul
just for the sake of an emotional high
that catapults from the deepest wells
and lands into the orbit of nothing
dissapating and dissolving into the ether

Where are the loves lost?
never gained in the first place
but fisted mouth first
the purple and the blue
reminds me of dark matter
and the tittering glittery stars.

I break my own heart just to soar
I break my own heart just to feel
the coldness of the universe.

You Pulled Me Out of the Sky

Eventually falling forward
fist in mouth, heart seeping through fingers
and you want me,
you called me out from the sky.

Full forced wind tunnels like guns shooting
swept by your tongue, and eyes like dandelions
I’m burned as I look away
even though you called me out from the sky.

I said- I love you back– in whispers
but you sold my gaze to the trees
they tuck them in each leaf
and they fall colorless…
but you called for me,
you pulled me out of the sky.

Basin of Illusions

I’ve broken my own heart
I looked into the basin of illusions
Handpicked the words
Re-arranged the pictures
And filled a book
With your name

I’ve taken nothing in
And yet I feel so full
My heart is a talented little thing
A magician of sorts
An alchemist
To re-arrange what “could be”
And place the “should be” heavy
Until it couldn’t be
So, I’m suffocating
In a love I made up
All on my own

Well, what else can you do girl?
Cry and cry and cry
How else are we to live?
But what if the strings you see get cut?
Why don’t we follow them?
I don’t care to find out why
I’ll cut myself free
And run the other way
But you loved him, did you not?

Oh, how cruel the sound of nails
Reaching into a waterless basin
Thirsty for water
While the tears won’t dry