Okay. I know, I know. Calm the fuck down.
Yes, every writer knows the struggle.
There are too many things to write about but your hands aren't fast enough and your brain easily comes up with a new idea, lighting quick. Your whole body is a confusing paradoxical thing. Mine was, and is, no exception.
This isn't the first book that I wanted to put out to the world. But I can never find myself struggling to finish what I've started writing, I only end up writing a completely new chapter, a completely new book. I couldn't stay completely idle either (there's this thing that stops me from being completely stupidly still—it's called a brain.)
The whole process burned me out.
Someone suggested I try this site that gave out creative suggestions, it was to fuel the artist. "Draw something beautiful from something tragic," it challenged me. I didn't get to screenshot it but my mind already did that for me.
One day I scrolling through youtube [read: like a normal teenager with 36 essays due], I found a song so fucking beautiful that I hated how it broke my heart—it was a perfect fit. That's how I started writing these stories.
Each one is inspired by a song I would hear,
Every story takes me days to write because I wanted to make people feel what these songs make me feel. Creating a story is easy, making people interested is fairly easy too, but putting out stories that would make them feel exactly how you need to? That's the thing I struggled with, and god damn it, I did struggle. I hated writing without passion, and writing a whole book can really make you forget the whole emotion you're supposed to put out. A feeling is strong, it punches quick but it's the aftermath that breaks you—just like a short story.
So here they are, love.
Enjoy my writer's struggles and my human's emotions. I hope you feel the songs in these chapters.
I can almost feel her body on the satin. This dress used to be her grandmother's, she told me.
It's a cool summer afternoon but against my better judgment, I promised to never to wear black. Echoes of my sneakers chase after me as I run down the hall, out the front door; the sun was just starting to set and I hurry to my bike.
The sky is painted a warm lavender pink, drowning the beach town in a rose hue. It's been years and I've already memorized my path but still, I'm not used to being alone at this time of day. The ocean breeze brushes through and my dress starts to flow, mistaking me for it's previous owner. I pedal faster up a grassy cliff and there she was, the girl who tore me apart.
It was an afternoon like this when I first saw her.
She looked like an artist's greatest achievement. Her body was thick and big but as graceful as her movements. She was dancing on the shore. It wasn't because it looked weird, the sight got my attention because it didn't. I soon realized that she had the talent to make all her movements hypnotic.
"What're you doing?" I asked her, not realizing that I've walked straight to where she was.
Instead of answering, she asked me if her white dress was beautiful. I thought for a while, not being entirely sure if it was the dress that was pretty or if it was her whole being. I settled with a "Yeah, I guess."
She then told me it belonged to her grandmother, who taught her how to dance on the shore. Before I could respond, she grabbed my hand and said, "C"mon. I'll show you."
I turn around and see Mike. He looked older. He should. I guess I forgot that time passed even if my own world has stopped.
"Hey Mike. It's been a while." I greet him.
"Two years, to be exact." He says.
"That's two years of you never visiting her." I remind him.
He looks as me as if I punched him. I think that would've been nicer to do. I look away and he knows I mean well, he was close enough to know. Mike was, in some sort of way, mine. It wasn't love; it was just nice. I was the pronoun in his songs, until he saw her.
She was teaching me how to dance in the afternoon sunset again. We've done this everyday by now. Her movements were slow, we had just drank milk because she hated coffee. Mike was on the cliff over looking the beach, calling me and then he saw us dancing. He sat down and started to watch us, her.
He fell in love with her before the sun was out of the sky.
By the end, she would've fell for him too but I will be forever certain to whoever is up there that I-
"I loved her first."
Mike smiles softly. "I knew you were in love with her." He says.
I catch my breath, refusing to meet his gaze. "It doesn't matter now."
"You looked at her the way you never looked at me. I would know. She looked at you the same way." He quietly says.
Warm tears drop from my chin to the ground above her grave.
It was one night when we were sitting on our usual beach spot, watching the moon instead of the stars. We were inseparable, more so I was inseparable from her. She got up and I naturally followed. We walked along the shoreline. She began singing a song. I don't remember the lyrics, I only remember making it my favorite. And I remember finally kissing her.
And running away. Thinking that I stole something from her, knowing for certain that I shouldn't have and I wasn't worthy. Shame washed over any feelings I had of wanting to turn back.
"She fell in love with you and that's all that mattered." I bitterly say.
"She fell in love with me. But she didn't need to fall for you." Mike says, "She was already in love."
I start sobbing, digging my fingers to the ground, digging for something I don't know. I begin hoping for something, like she was still alive in her coffin, some sort of buried treasure I could get back.
I'm sorry I'm sorry I love you I'm sorry I love you I love you
With my chest collapsing on itself and nowhere this could lead to, I give up.
I can't stop crying.
"If you want the rose bush, it's yours. She was always yours." Mike says.
She said she wanted a rose seed buried on top of her grave. It grew even if nobody watered it. At first, I thought it was Mike who took care of it but going to her grave everyday made me realize that he never visited her. He couldn't.
"It grew because of you." He says.
"How?" I murmur.
He wiped a tear from my eye and let it drop on a little rosebud. I've been watering her roses with my tears all along. I gave her the flowers I should've given when she was there to receive them.
I kept silent for a while. "No. I want them here. At least Georgie could see it someday."
"You never visit him either. But I'm guessing it's for the same reason why I couldn't visit her too." He says, looking at her gravestone.
It's what she would've wanted, I know. But I couldn't bring myself to see the life I could've had with her. And Georgie. The son we could've had together.
I don't answer and Mike kisses my forehead and walks away.
He left a rose for her and I bury it in the hole I dug.
Three months later and I hear a little boy running to get the door. He opens it and sees me. "Dad, there's a lady at the door." He calls out.
Mike walks out and sees my face. His face was a picture worth a thousand emotions.
"Hi," I quietly say.
"Who're you?" The little boy asked.
"Georgie," Mike tells his son, "This is your Aunt Akoya. She's very special to me and—"
Little Georgie looks at me and grins. "You're the girl that mom loved."
I look at Mike with tears threatening to fall from my eyes. He told his son about me. About me and Rosie.
"If you don't mind, miss Akey, I have a billion jillion questions to ask you," He proudly says.
I kneel down and embrace Georgie. I have missed so much. For two years, I wondered what would it be like if I hadn't ran away that night. But now I realize that doesn't do anything. Like planting flowers for someone who will never see them. If I couldn't be there for Rosie, then I'd be there for her son now.
"You have her smile." I whisper, "Do you want me to teach you how to dance on the shore?"
It was raining outside that day.
The warm orange glow of the lamp lit up the white walls. School was cancelled and Macy was quietly studying. Having an attention span of five minutes, she'd look up or start folding paper airplanes ever so often.
One airplane got off-course and the quiet music from the small living room stopped. Jeramy's head popped out the doorway and said, "Hiiiii Maaacyyy."
She smiled as he handed her the paper airplane. There it was again. A number on the back of his hand. It was a '2' this time. She used to think nothing of it, thinking that maybe he just had the habit of putting his favorite number on his hand. It took a while for her to realize it kept changing.
If now wasn't the time to talk about it, then it would never be the time to talk about it.
"You know, I could use some music while I study..." she said.
Jeramy smiled and sat down on her bed. He started playing his guitar in the quietest way, his singing just as soft.
And she listened. He sounded like a gentle gloomy day. "I know what the numbers mean." Macy said, not looking up from her History book.
Jeramy didn't stop playing either. "You tell me, then."
"It's Monday and you have a '2' today. It's a countdown. Always leading up to Tuesday." She told him.
He continued to play softly. For a minute, Macy thought he wouldn't say anything; maybe she went too far. "Three months." he said, "Three months of me being in this school and the only person who realized is my roommate Macy."
She didn't know what to make of that. He didn't sound condescending or sarcastic. She decided to keep quiet.
A few beats of silence later, he spoke again. Barely a whisper. "His name was Asbørn. My little brother. I lost him around last year. I couldn't go home for Christmas. I didn't know it would have been the last time I ever saw him."
Macy's heard that Jeramy lost someone. It was a casual sentence thrown around the school. Little talks, Jeramy's brother died, oh how tragic, a moment of silence, oh hey did you finish your science homework.
She didn't know him back then. A name is just a name until you see the face behind it, the person who owned it.
And he continued. She's never heard him without even a hint of a smile in his voice. "I just. Lost purpose. The psychologist told me to have little things to look forward to. Just some temporary thing to get me through. I decided it would be Tuesdays. That was the day I was supposed to go home."
She didn't know what to say. "So, uh, what happens on Tuesdays?" she asked.
Jeramy shrugged. "Nothing. I trick myself to looking forward to nothing."
The girl wondered how that felt. Living your life, looking forward to nothing. Just as good as being dead. When his brother died, maybe Jeramy died with him.
But that was ludicrous, wasn't it?
He was still here, playing his guitar, talking about his brother. He wasn't looking forward to nothing, Macy decided. He was waiting for something to look forward to.
"You've never visited his grave?" she asked.
He shook his head.
"Don't you want to?"
He answered with a shrug. "Graves are for the living. He won't be there."
"Unless he was a ghost or some shit," Macy said. "What if he doesn't like how his grave looks? Or what's written on his tombstone? What if he attended his own funeral and didn't like the songs?"
Jeramy stopped playing. He stared right at her for the first time. His mouth was a straight line, showing no signs of wanting to speak. But it did. "Well, he hated numbers."
"There might be numbers on his tombstone!" she exclaimed.
Putting down his guitar, Jeramy's voice got steadier. "Yeah. And he hated slow songs. The only ones he could bear to listen to were from Highasakite."
"It's like a play on words. High as a kite. They're this indie band from back home. The kid's got decent taste even for a thirteen year old." he said, proudly.
Macy snapped her fingers. "Oh—oh! Well what if they played crappy funeral music on his funeral? And what if he wasn't wearing a Batman costume when they buried him—does he like Batman?"
Jeramy laughed. "He hated him. He loved Storm. Y'know? From X-Men? He thought she was so cool." Macy smiled at him. He stopped laughing as he thought about how he should have been there. "You think he hates me?"
"I think he'd want to punch your face. But he'll never hate you." she answered.
He nodded. "He totally would've punched me in the face even if I was there."
Macy scratched her chin thoughtfully, "Yes, yes. A good way to ascend to heaven is by punching your brother's face with your ghost hands."
They stared at each other.
And broke into grins.
Macy's phone suddenly rang and she answered it grudgingly. It was her friend Kate telling her that Professor Mosby was taking attendance in their online classroom. "Get your face ready and your webcam clean. Class starts face-timing in five." She could tell that Kate was in the middle of putting on make up.
She hung up and said, "Welp, turns out I have to Skype my whole Lit class." she awkwardly told Jeramy.
He got up and held up his guitar. "I'd be playing in the living room if you'd ever need me," he said, starting to leave.
He looked back. "Yeah?"
Macy took out her planner. "Be here by tomorrow and next Tuesday. We need to plan a decent funeral for your brother and ways to rob some banks because wow, the plane tickets already cost so much." She began writing down.
The boy in the gray sweater blinked.
"Well?" Macy said, "I'm not taking no for an answer. Looks like we need to plan each week. How 'bout, let's say, Tuesdays?"
Jeramy smiled. "I, um, I just—" He climbs on her bed and hugs her tight. "You mean it? You'll even come with me?" he hurriedly whispers, his voice trembling with a new hope.
"Well of course! I need to talk to your brother. He might need me to do some face punching." she replied.
He loosened his hug and abruptly got up. He grinned at her. Pointing his finger he said, "Tuesday. Be here."
Macy rolled her eyes. "It's not like I live here or anything."
They share a smile and that was that. Until Tuesday.