The Sidney Sendoff

You were half sitting, half laying on your old futon sofa with your bodies mangled together like a newspaper in the rain. You remember your hand finding its way to hers, and when your fingers laced you felt a light squeeze. It was a silent admission: the only way she could ask ‘what took you so long’ without having to. Her hair was a frizzy and a mess, makeup faded and runny, nails uneven with the dull remnants of last weeks violet pink.

She was radiant. You felt your eyes linger, wanting to tell her all about the quiet storm brewing inside of you. You cleared your throat.

“That nose piercing looks ridiculous.” Was what you said, reaping your reward: a hard-ish slap across the face. But she was smiling, though. You always made her smile.

“Well I don’t care. I’ve always wanted one but I was afraid of how I’d look, or what people would think. I finally decided to get it just for me, just because I like it.”

You were never really a romantic, never saw the point in things like marriage or family, relationships or even friends. You figured them distractions, momentary lapses we make to forget one cold and lonely truth. Life never made much sense to somebody like you, but when you watched her name a falling leaf Al-fall-fa, or count the tiles on your bedroom floor, somehow it kind of did.

“In that case, I guess I like it too.” You said. She tilted her head and flashed a wide grin, one of her favorite movements. It was her special grin. Her ‘You-think-I’m-so-amazing-and-I-know-it’ grin.

“Because now it has personality?” she asked, and you nodded slightly. When you do, something makes her eyes go soft.

“Let’s kiss.” You start to say. “Let’s kiss, but not right now. Let’s kiss right at midnight. What? Stop laughing, it’s romantic. Isn’t this what romantic people do?” She’s half amused, with a wonder in her smile that has holds you like a fire, and you are Joan of Arc.

She shifts her gaze to the clock. It responds 11:58PM.

“Why wait so long?

It’s The Stars Fault

The moonlight reveals me for what I am and I find it hard to dream, endlessly silent nights spent idling in the darkness of myself. No choice or having a say when Regret decides to visit on you, only a sudden thumping on the chest and lungs surging with anxiety. An avalanche of emotions I am not willing to let back in, but the knocking keeps growing louder the longer I ignore the door. Half-finished sentiments are inconsiderate like that. They never call ahead and show up unexpected, when you’re most vulnerable and, if anything like me, raving mad and stark naked.

“You should text her,” I hear in a whisper.

I know that, but my voice still cracks.

I guess 4am is as good a time as any, better a modest breakdown in my own apartment than in broad daylight when I’m making a clown of myself with the guys on game night.

There’s such a small difference between a living hell and being bored, one degree and direction away from another weekend slamming beers and pretending to give a damn about the Yankees. I-Could-Be-Doing-Something-Else and other lies me and the boys tell ourselves. Like, if you tap a beer twice at just the right angle, it won’t suddenly freeze and spill over. And they do it, and then it does, well that’s just because you didn’t do it right, you dumbass.

My phone hums softly and chest leaps before I can read whatever it says. Do I look and become depressed, or glance and turn the color of the sun? Should I enter this devastating charade we call modern love? Neither, I guess, and in the absence of fact I remain neither and both; like Schrodinger’s text.

One day she could wake up and barely know me, or this may be the start of the end/rest of my life.

I know that, but my voice still cracks.

Cassie, Episode III (aka Baby It’s Cold Outside- So I Hope You Called An Uber)

Most people are barely people and I’ve met everyone twice. Personalities copy and pasted from recycled memes you can find on Reddit, who pretend to exhibit behaviors they borrow from social disorders on Wikipedia. Give a hungry man a fish and you’ll feed him for a day, but give him the internet, and he’ll probably spend it anonymously calling other fish faggots right before his 10AM Sociology class.

“Gotta light?” She asked me outside, with peach mixed moscato on her breath and the feint scent of burning incense lingering in her hair.

She had a way with people- even in my heightened state of over compassion I could tell as much. There was a manner she looked your way that was so notable, that felt like suddenly hearing your name in public, but with eyes. Disarming and little captivating; how being noticed always is. And yes, it helped that she was beautiful. An all-American vee’d chin with an uncle named Chip, that mythical half they must be talking about when they mention two point five kids and a picket fence.

“Brighter than you know,” I replied, and struck a fire for her.

“You’re funny,” She said grinning, smoke and hair billowing from her nose. “You look unmade, and a little dangerous. But I can’t believe you smoke this menthol crap.”

She played it loose and hated slow songs, always kept a 20 hidden in her bra because mama didn’t raise a sucker, and she’d herded her own fair share of douchebags. Ink resembling May 2nd with a year I can’t remember occasionally trailing from out her sleeves.

“If I’m going to slowly kill myself, I’m going to do it right.” I said.

Her name was Cassie, not with a y, and it was short for Cassandra but don’t you fuckin’ dare ever call her that.  Stacked to a low 5’4″ on her tippy toes- beautiful skin tinted in a blushed red, lips curved like a sunset or rose tinted Cupid’s bow. She had it going on, beautiful, but basic at best, eye shadow of a modern fashionista, but not the kind daft enough enough to romanticize vogue models or an eating disorder.

“I can’t handle it, I’ve got a VSD.”

“What’s that?” I asked.

“It’s like a hole in your heart,”

“I’m so sorry,” I replied. “What was his name?”

She was not a miserable person, nowhere near delicate- only threaded, maybe. Overexposed like an electric wire in the rain. A victim to the elements and boys who swear they’re different. With a hot heart for the coldest matters and a gentleness that feels more earned than inherent, she cried when she missed her train for work just like any body else. That bitter and hardened exterior only a New York experience can make.

“Who you here with?” She asked, squinting at something other than the smoke in her face.

But I’ve been wrong before.

When You Reach The Last Stop, Show The Grim Reaper You Have A Transfer Card (aka Subway Soliloquy)

STAND-CLEAR-OF-THE-CLOSING-DOORS-PLEASE.

Crowded, packed and stuffed with no AC.
Doors close, open, close, open, close, open, cl-
open. Somebody sucks teeth and the whole train sighs.
An afternoon turning evening ride home, ten stops away
from Wednesday rituals and the nonsense we do to get
over the hump of a work-week. Walking starts looking
like an option from all these delays. And if this
old ladies bag pushes me ONE MORE TIME I swear I’ll-

LADIES-AND-GENTLEMAN
PLEASE-GIVE-UP-YOUR-SEAT
FOR-THE-PREGNANT
AND
THE-ELDERLY
IT’S-STANDING-UP-FOR-WHATS-RIGHT
AND-COURTESY
IS-CONTAGIOUS.

Sweating, hot and suffocating in 9 to 5 company.
Undone ties and tired eyes fanning magazines,
smearing makeup, grunting offhand conversations,
complacent and wailing for home. Singing to the rhythm
of train tracks and middle class disappointment.
ka-kun ka-kun…ka-kun…ka-kun…ka-
A Game of Thrones Ringtone plays and somebody sneezes.

LADIES-AND-GENTLEMAN
FOR-YOUR-SAFETY-PLEASE
DO-NOT-BLOCK-OR-HOLD-THE-CAR-DOORS
WHILE-THE-TRAIN-IS
IN-THE-STATION.

Two men argue over who touched who first,
but it doesn’t matter and devolves to racial slurs.
Fingers, movements, violence vibrating in IF YOU COME
ONE STEP CLOSER
and voices getting louder
and louder and louder and louder and
more uncomfortable the longer neither of them backs down.
Then one says F**K THIS and starts reaching in his bag and

THIS-IS-A-SOUTHBOUND
SIX-TRAIN
THE-NEXT-STOP-IS
SAINT-LAWRENCE
AVENUE.

Crowded, packed and stuffed with no AC.
Doors close, open, close, open, close, open, cl-
open. Red floor, red doors, red rails, red everything.
Red advertisement on prescription acne treatment
on sale with Dr. Zimmerman, blood blushing his smile.
People running. Screams. Yelling. Shoving. I TOLD HIM
HE SHOULDN’T. I TOLD HIM. I TOLD HIM.
Sirens.

STAND-CLEAR-OF-THE-CLOSING-DOORS-PLEASE.