I should have learned to cook,

growing up in a house
where Gipsy Kings and Leonard Cohen echoed through the kitchen
and into cauldrons of soup
and crab
and pans of pasta
serving as the spice through which I’d remember what escaliabada was. Read more.

 
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I looked out into the distance

seeing nothing but the glimmer of the flat ocean. I slowly walked to the water, salt in my nose, board underneath one arm, hoping for a swell to pick up.

       As I reached the water, everything was motionless. "Strange," I thought to myself. This was unusual for the place I visited every morning. Read more.

 

 
 
 

Axl is nothing.

He has nothing, he does nothing. He lies on top of the quilt covering his bed, though it isn’t really a bed, just a mattress on the floor. He stares at the wall across his room. It’s empty just like every other wall in his apartment, except for a poster from a movie he's never seen. It was one dollar at a garage sale, and he got it because he liked the bright, retro looking colors. There’s a hole in the drywall across from his bed. He rubs his knuckles and stares at it, trying to remember what angered him enough to make it. Read more.

 
It was a dark day with large storm clouds pouring rain over everything. It seemed to rain especially harshly for a small grey house sitting on the corner of a small street. None of the houses' four windows were lit, and only one of them had their curtains open. Visible through this window was a young man, around the age of thirty, sitting at his desk surrounded by complete darkness.   Dim light was shining off of his face as he looked earnestly into his computer screen. Without moving his head, he extended his hand outwards, grabbing a donut before returning it to his face, putting it into his mouth. He mumbled something in a soft tone and closed his eyes, moving his head upwards toward the ceiling while leaning back in his chair. He put his feet up onto the corner of his desk, and let out a heavy sigh. He stretched out his arms above his head, and took a deep breath. He closed his eyes and tried to think of something else. He looked down and directly into the palms of his hands, his right hand shaking. He turned his left hand over, observing the backside and noted the length of his nails. They were dull grey shells with tiny white strings lining their edges. He wanted to like them. His vision trailed down towards his wrists. He frowned at the scratches and scars that were visible. He scratched his hair and stared back at the screen. He couldn't think of anything else. The screen changed colors as he closed the current tab he was on. He opened another tab and typed a small phrase quickly. He clicked twice and patiently watched. He waited for the sound of her favorite song to come on before switching back to the original tab he was on before. He continued to stare blankly at the screen, listening in silence to the lyrics of the music. His face was rough, with a week-old stubble, and his hair was an unkempt mess. He wore a jaded expression on his face, trying to show as little emotion as possible. The explosion of thunder crashed outside, and a flash of lightning bleached the inside of his house, bringing light to his room. His bed sat in the corner opposite to him, low to the ground so that if he ever fell off the bed, he wouldn’t hurt himself from the fall. His floor was meticulously clean, desperately holding onto the vibrant colors of his carpet, the only gift he’d ever received in his life. His desk was made of old mahogany, with many scuff marks and bruises visible. Parts of the desk were completely replaced, or poorly fixed. Below the desk was a small black rectangle, humming peacefully and blinking with light every now and then. He had built that computer years ago, when he was still a teenager, with everything he had at the time. He educated himself on how to do it, he earned the money, and he learned how to fix whatever troubled it. The walls of room were painted grey, with some areas chipping off, revealing the bright blue that it used to be. He hung nothing on his walls, and the curtains covering his window were broken. The man turned his head slightly towards the light, trying to look outside. His eyes passed a picture frame on his desk. She captured his eyes and his head stopped moving. He stared back. He looked sadly into her beautiful dark brown eyes and her wide smile. She was wearing a black sweater that had sleeves too long for her small arms. She was sitting at her desk, with her arms laid out on the table. Her tiny pink fingertips peeked out of her sleeves. Her long, straight, dark brown hair flowed downwards and around her shoulders. Tears clouded his vision as he began to remember. Carnival sounds and tacky music flooded her head, the same annoying repeated tones blaring over and over again. She swore to him that her head would explode if they didn't go to someplace quieter, although it wasn’t that bad, after all, the last time she saw him was Thursday. Occasionally she would hear his laugh and it would drag her back into reality. He also seemed to know where he was going in this large place he took her, so she followed him around. He kept trying to tell her something, but couldn't. They reached the bathrooms where he told her to wait at the bench for him. She smiled and sat down, pulling out her phone. The date read September 25th, 2011. and in the top right corner, the red of the battery meter glared at her. She suddenly inhaled sharply, covering her mouth. She began to tear up. No, she thought, Not now, please. She tried to breath, but it was too late. She began to cough furiously. She fell over onto the bench, dropping her phone. He walked past the bathrooms in search of a concession stand. I'll surprise her with something nice before I tell her, he smiled to himself. He lightly patted his pockets, making sure that it was still there. He walked around for a bit, before finding a small balloon stand. Next to the balloon stand was a well-dressed old man, being illuminated by the colors that poured through the balloons above him. He walked closer to the stand, where the old man greeted him kindly, smiling while he showed off his balloons. He pulled out his old leather wallet and opened it. On the right side was a smaller photo of her sitting at her desk. He smiled at the photo before looking back up at the old man, who smiled back at him. He couldn't decide on a balloon. She needed help. She couldn’t move. She couldn’t speak. Tears continued flowing. Nobody could help. Nobody but him. Where is he? Did he forget? He couldn’t have. Her chest swelled with pain as she fell over on the bench. Her face laid between the bars, looking towards the concrete. The sky’s bright light began to fade, and she no longer heard the carnival music, and she no longer was crying, and she was scared. She opened her eyes, her vision tunneling around her phone. It was face-down on the concrete, and she stared at the beautiful design on the case that he got her. The world began to turn grey. The man turned the corner of the bathroom wall, walking quickly towards her, his hands full with the strings of colorful balloons. He looked towards the bench and saw her. She was face-down on the bench, and there was a dark puddle below her head. He opened his hands, letting go of the balloons, screaming her name and running towards her. He knelt on the rough concrete, cutting his knees through his tough jeans. He grabbed her purse and opened it, going through its contents carefully. Where is it, come on, it’s gotta be here! He thought. He looked and looked, turning the bag inside out and upside down, but it was not there. He dropped the purse, looking for her phone while fighting back tears. He looked over and saw her colorful phone case, the one he had gotten her a long time ago. He grabbed at it and began to dial the three most important numbers of both of their lives. He pressed the cold phone against his head, looking at her hair. He heard a voice on the other end, and he began to speak. Tears formed in his eyes and his voice became louder and more urgent as he spoke. He had been speaking for a long time before he realized that both the phone died, and that they were on their way. The world around him slowly turned grey, except for her. He placed his arms around her. She was still breathing, but he didn't know for how much longer. He remembered what the doctor had told them. It wasn't long before they were rushed to the hospital. He never left her side, until she left his forever. Thunder cracked again outside, and the flash of lightning awoke him from his memories. He stared at the time displayed on the computer screen. It was September 25th, 2012, a full year after his world lost color. The picture on his desk fell over, revealing a familiar box, covered in a thick layer of dust. He quickly grabbed it, opening it carefully. Beside the ring was a note she had written long ago. The note contained an old photo of them roller-skating, and another of him with a broken arm afterwards. It's not the end of the world, now, is it? was written in blue pen along the edge of the photo. He smiled and stood up. He read it over and over again, hearing her beautiful, encouraging voice. He reached over and turned on his light, filling his room with vibrant colors. It had been too dark for too long.

It was a dark day with large storm clouds pouring rain over everything. It seemed to rain especially harshly for a small grey house sitting on the corner of a small street. None of the houses' four windows were lit, and only one of them had their curtains open. Visible through this window was a young man, around the age of thirty, sitting at his desk surrounded by complete darkness.
 

Dim light was shining off of his face as he looked earnestly into his computer screen. Without moving his head, he extended his hand outwards, grabbing a donut before returning it to his face, putting it into his mouth. He mumbled something in a soft tone and closed his eyes, moving his head upwards toward the ceiling while leaning back in his chair. He put his feet up onto the corner of his desk, and let out a heavy sigh. He stretched out his arms above his head, and took a deep breath. He closed his eyes and tried to think of something else.

He looked down and directly into the palms of his hands, his right hand shaking. He turned his left hand over, observing the backside and noted the length of his nails. They were dull grey shells with tiny white strings lining their edges. He wanted to like them. His vision trailed down towards his wrists. He frowned at the scratches and scars that were visible. He scratched his hair and stared back at the screen. He couldn't think of anything else.

The screen changed colors as he closed the current tab he was on. He opened another tab and typed a small phrase quickly. He clicked twice and patiently watched. He waited for the sound of her favorite song to come on before switching back to the original tab he was on before. He continued to stare blankly at the screen, listening in silence to the lyrics of the music. His face was rough, with a week-old stubble, and his hair was an unkempt mess. He wore a jaded expression on his face, trying to show as little emotion as possible. The explosion of thunder crashed outside, and a flash of lightning bleached the inside of his house, bringing light to his room.

His bed sat in the corner opposite to him, low to the ground so that if he ever fell off the bed, he wouldn’t hurt himself from the fall. His floor was meticulously clean, desperately holding onto the vibrant colors of his carpet, the only gift he’d ever received in his life. His desk was made of old mahogany, with many scuff marks and bruises visible. Parts of the desk were completely replaced, or poorly fixed. Below the desk was a small black rectangle, humming peacefully and blinking with light every now and then. He had built that computer years ago, when he was still a teenager, with everything he had at the time. He educated himself on how to do it, he earned the money, and he learned how to fix whatever troubled it. The walls of room were painted grey, with some areas chipping off, revealing the bright blue that it used to be. He hung nothing on his walls, and the curtains covering his window were broken. The man turned his head slightly towards the light, trying to look outside. His eyes passed a picture frame on his desk. She captured his eyes and his head stopped moving. He stared back.

He looked sadly into her beautiful dark brown eyes and her wide smile. She was wearing a black sweater that had sleeves too long for her small arms. She was sitting at her desk, with her arms laid out on the table. Her tiny pink fingertips peeked out of her sleeves. Her long, straight, dark brown hair flowed downwards and around her shoulders. Tears clouded his vision as he began to remember.

Carnival sounds and tacky music flooded her head, the same annoying repeated tones blaring over and over again. She swore to him that her head would explode if they didn't go to someplace quieter, although it wasn’t that bad, after all, the last time she saw him was Thursday. Occasionally she would hear his laugh and it would drag her back into reality. He also seemed to know where he was going in this large place he took her, so she followed him around. He kept trying to tell her something, but couldn't. They reached the bathrooms where he told her to wait at the bench for him. She smiled and sat down, pulling out her phone. The date read September 25th, 2011. and in the top right corner, the red of the battery meter glared at her. She suddenly inhaled sharply, covering her mouth. She began to tear up. No, she thought, Not now, please. She tried to breath, but it was too late. She began to cough furiously. She fell over onto the bench, dropping her phone.

He walked past the bathrooms in search of a concession stand. I'll surprise her with something nice before I tell her, he smiled to himself. He lightly patted his pockets, making sure that it was still there. He walked around for a bit, before finding a small balloon stand. Next to the balloon stand was a well-dressed old man, being illuminated by the colors that poured through the balloons above him. He walked closer to the stand, where the old man greeted him kindly, smiling while he showed off his balloons. He pulled out his old leather wallet and opened it. On the right side was a smaller photo of her sitting at her desk. He smiled at the photo before looking back up at the old man, who smiled back at him. He couldn't decide on a balloon.

She needed help. She couldn’t move. She couldn’t speak. Tears continued flowing. Nobody could help. Nobody but him. Where is he? Did he forget? He couldn’t have. Her chest swelled with pain as she fell over on the bench. Her face laid between the bars, looking towards the concrete. The sky’s bright light began to fade, and she no longer heard the carnival music, and she no longer was crying, and she was scared. She opened her eyes, her vision tunneling around her phone. It was face-down on the concrete, and she stared at the beautiful design on the case that he got her. The world began to turn grey.

The man turned the corner of the bathroom wall, walking quickly towards her, his hands full with the strings of colorful balloons. He looked towards the bench and saw her. She was face-down on the bench, and there was a dark puddle below her head. He opened his hands, letting go of the balloons, screaming her name and running towards her. He knelt on the rough concrete, cutting his knees through his tough jeans. He grabbed her purse and opened it, going through its contents carefully. Where is it, come on, it’s gotta be here! He thought. He looked and looked, turning the bag inside out and upside down, but it was not there. He dropped the purse, looking for her phone while fighting back tears. He looked over and saw her colorful phone case, the one he had gotten her a long time ago. He grabbed at it and began to dial the three most important numbers of both of their lives. He pressed the cold phone against his head, looking at her hair. He heard a voice on the other end, and he began to speak. Tears formed in his eyes and his voice became louder and more urgent as he spoke. He had been speaking for a long time before he realized that both the phone died, and that they were on their way. The world around him slowly turned grey, except for her. He placed his arms around her. She was still breathing, but he didn't know for how much longer. He remembered what the doctor had told them. It wasn't long before they were rushed to the hospital. He never left her side, until she left his forever.

Thunder cracked again outside, and the flash of lightning awoke him from his memories. He stared at the time displayed on the computer screen. It was September 25th, 2012, a full year after his world lost color. The picture on his desk fell over, revealing a familiar box, covered in a thick layer of dust. He quickly grabbed it, opening it carefully. Beside the ring was a note she had written long ago. The note contained an old photo of them roller-skating, and another of him with a broken arm afterwards. It's not the end of the world, now, is it? was written in blue pen along the edge of the photo. He smiled and stood up. He read it over and over again, hearing her beautiful, encouraging voice. He reached over and turned on his light, filling his room with vibrant colors. It had been too dark for too long.