every now and then the stars collide

maybe if i string this word to that i'll finally understand what the universe is supposed to be about

Sky Full of Stars

He was a sky full of stars. He was so full of it that some of them hang from the tips of his long eyelashes that tilt up to the heavens, as if his eyes are long lost pilgrims that fall to their knees in prayer every time they close, brushing the sweet apples of his thrillingly flushed cheeks.

He’s a sky full of stars and it’s evident every single time your eyes meet his, like the entire cosmos reside in the sparkling pools of his beautiful brown orbs. His eyes are meteor showers the moment they’re alight with any kind of emotion; they shimmer with euphoria, glimmer with sadness, spark with anger, and positively twinkle whenever it’s directed at you.

He’s a sky full of stars and his mouth is the universe, and you are the lone astronomer that will ever get to explore it. The moment his rose-red lips part to bare the secrets of the existence and let you in, the sweet breath of his life slipping and mingling with yours as you stoop down to meet his kiss, it’s magnanimous and astral it rocks your world. You drink up his sighs and gasps, and it’s like feeling his starburst seep into your blood veins, the very essence of him tangling with yours, rendering you cosmic.

He’s a sky full of stars, and you’re willing to combust for him, to be inside him, to turn into shrapnel of the universe so you can be with him, one with him.

He’s a sky full of stars. And he’s absolutely, wondrously, beautifully made of them.

I’m sorry

This morning you woke up normally. To the sound of your mother’s footsteps fretting around your room, getting your clothes ready for the day all while trying to rouse you up to eat breakfast. So you sit up and carefully climb down your bunk bed, grabbing your phone off the vanity table before heading out to the dining room. As you eat, you check the notifications that have accumulated during the time you were asleep, and pore through them lazily and sleepily. One particular link, however, captures your attention more than usual. 

It’s heartbreaking. People deem it unimportant, trivial compared to the actual problems and issues the world face today, but to you it’s a become a constant influence in your everyday life. You cry. Your sister asks you what’s wrong, watching worriedly as you sob into your bowlful of centra that all to suddenly taste more like cardboard than a combination of sugared cornflakes and stars. You mother and father ask what’s wrong but they won’t understand. 

You want to miss school but it’s not a viable reason enough. You soldier on through the day, avoiding talking about the dilemma even though almost everyone around you know and want to ask you about it, eager to hear the opinion of the few people they know that we’re affected by the issue. Your friend goes out of their way to make time for you and comfort you: eat with you, hang out with you, listen to you, talk to you and keep you distracted until you feel like the heavy weight hanging above you has finally been put to the back burner. 

However the night comes and there’s a lull in the household, everyone asleep and it’s only you and your mind awake and reeling, still processing and trying to make sense of everything.

And suddenly it’s gotten so hard to breathe, like the anvil above your head had migrated to your chest cavity and is therefore, weighing down on your lungs and crushing your heart into your vertebrae. Your nose stings and you can feel your eyes welling up with tears but nothing comes out. You want to cry so hard and so bad and so desperately but your body does not want to cope, resisting the need to let go. 

But maybe it’s because you don’t want to let go. Maybe it’s because you still hang onto that slim chance that this may all just be some nightmare you haven’t woken up from. That you’ll wake up and everything would be back to normal and you can breathe easy once again. 

It’s all just a pipe dream, though. The reality is that we are all human and have our breaking points, kind of like you with your overwhelming emotions and anchor-heavy heart. It’s true when they say that bands save lives, but they never said that they devastate too. But then, isn’t that also human nature?  We make things strong only to break them down only to know that we can. 

And I’m sorry for that. I know you are too. And I forgive you. 

Cry It Out

One day — it isn’t even a rainy day, or a day where the sky looks like it’s seen better days what with the amount of clouds donning their colours of mourn. It is a usual day with the usual weather, a bit on the cold side with the springing bite characteristic of the coming of Christmas. The sun isn’t shining, but you know it’s there. You have your favourite breakfast served in front of you, and you eat while your mum peels sweet potatoes next to you, discussing gardening with your dad. You’re in between them but they aren’t talking to you, and it’s how it’s always like. They aren’t ignoring you, but that’s just how it was. You stand up because you’re finished, the plate scraped clean — a habit brought upon by the resounding echo of your grandmother’s voice saying waste not, want not.

You then head off to the bathroom to shower, and it’s routine with the way you place your clothes by the sink, the way you shed off your pyjamas and fold them properly before putting them in the hamper like how your mother taught you to. Muscle memory the way you drape your wash cloth over the knob of the bathtub tap, the way you squeeze some toothpaste on your pastel pink toothbrush and start brushing it with timed and counted strokes — ten, twenty, thirty, rinse. You turn on the shower and the water is cold you flinch. You take the time under the showerhead, making sure you’re completely drenched and slick with water droplets rolling down your skin and dripping from your hair.

In the middle of squeezing some shampoo onto the palm of your hand, you stop. The orange liquid suddenly doesn’t look so warm in your cupped hand, the water clinging to your skin doesn’t feel so cold, your yellow towel doesn’t seem so vibrant in your periphery anymore — you just don’t feel anything. Then you feel it, a little itching at the back of your eyes, your view misting up, and your sight looks watered down, like you opened your eyes while the showerhead was open.

You don’t know when your started crying but you are, and the sobs wrack through your body like it was hollow and the wind is breezing through it, rattling your ribcage and past your lungs to chill your heart down to your spine. You hunch over and you’re still crying, and the shampoo is dripping forgotten in your hand, along with the reason why you’re crying in the first place. It’s an ordinary day with you doing your ordinary routine — nothing out of the usual — but here you are crying your eyes out into the bathroom tiles. At one point you open the shower to drown out the way you’re choking on your sobs, the way your lungs try to wrestle as much air in as possible, as if it’s trying to blow itself up big enough to cushion your heart beating erratically and painfully in your chest.

Eventually you get yourself back on track, coughing and hiccuping like your insides want to escape your body, but you swallow them down and keep them in. You scrub at your skin harder than usual, wash up a bit too forceful than necessary, like you were trying to berate yourself for letting yourself go those few moments. But the world continues spinning and you do as well.

However the whole day the feeling follows you, all throughout your make-up class and even when you’re with your mum and sisters and family, and you realise that even with all these people at arms’ length they still feel far away, because your heart is cowering somewhere far in the recesses of your body. Your sister asks if you had something in your eye what with the amount of times you tried blinking back your tears, and you just excuse it to your allergies when she follows up with an inquiry on your pink nose. The ride home is suffocating, the way you’re sat sandwiched in the middle, and you’ve never complained about it before but it feels different now, like it’s doing nothing to stop the amount of tears trying to break down the dams of the waterline of your eyes.

The moment you get home you head to your room, climbing up your double deck and throw yourself onto your pillows. You don’t cry, you don’t let yourself to, so instead you force yourself to go to sleep. And you do, the exhaustion of trying to keep yourself stringed together crashing down. You let yourself shatter on your mattress in a mess of limbs, tangled around your blanket and spooning a pillow. In the cusp of awake and asleep, you think you’re finally ok. When I wake up tomorrow I will be.

You are not. You wake up just before midnight with tears streaming down your cheeks, and your hands are bunching up the pillow you were spooning, shoving some of the fabric and cotton in your mouth to muffle your sobs. It’s disorienting and scary, the room is dark from when you forgot to even turn on your night light, and it’s like waking up from a nightmare. Except you know you had a dreamless sleep, and you still don’t know why you’re crying.

Of things you’re scared of the most, one of them has to be not being in control of yourself. Another one is how you’re so insecure that at the moment of weakness you suddenly remember all the moments of your faults, the memories flashing behind your eyelids like a head film made especially for times like these. All the times you got called stupid, immature, weird — all the times your flaws were outright pointed out suddenly fluxing out of your subconscious until it’s tangible in your crystalline tears. You pray for it to go away, for the tears, the memories, the pain, the horrible hollow feeling in your body cavity — you’re not sure. Maybe everything.

Maybe you wish for the universe to just swallow you up and turn you back into dust or the materials of stars. You feel the grip you have on your emotions slip away with every minute of lost sleep that ticks away, but it’s calming, therapeutic even, as the tears continue to drip. It’s not like the peace you get from listening to a good mixtape, or when you’re knitting, or listening to a good mixtape while knitting, but it keeps you moving and thinking and, eventually, you think maybe it’s ok. Maybe this is what you need.

Maybe you just need to cry it out.

Captivating

There was something entirely captivating about her eyes. There was something in the way they looked at everything with unguarded curiosity, with unadulterated genuineness. There was something in the way they shone, the way they seem to zero in on just one thing every time she casts her gaze upon it, like she’s focusing all of her attention and pouring it out all at once.

But there was something especially unique whenever she looked over at you. There was something in the way she tilts her chin up and lifts her face, as if she’s basking in the presence of your person even when you think it should be the other way around. There’s something in the watery sparkles of her eyes that draws you in, akin to the bending of the moon around the earth as you stoop down, and she stands on the tips of her toes like a bird about to take flight. And you and her kiss for what seems like infinite seconds, in those spaces you feel like her starburst is filling up your empty, and your moonlight is keeping her in place.

When you part, you watch as her dark eyelashes brush the apples of her cheeks, dark crescents that wax to reveal beautiful brown eyes that shimmer like the clear water under the summer sun.

And her eyes won’t stop collecting light.  

Change My Mind

He was never your friend nor enemy. He was just one of those people that you see around school, the campus, when you go back to your locker to deposit your books and call it a day. He was one of those people that you only knew by face and name, that and nothing more. Maybe the fact that he takes AP Calculus with you, and is your seatmate, and the occasional clipped sentences here and there. But that’s not really much, and not really something to hold onto.

So when he invites you to his house for his eighteenth birthday, you are surprised. It is during your Calc class, while the teacher in front drones on and on about second derivatives and dy/dx , that he passes you a slip of paper, his address and home number scrawled in his hardly discernible handwriting with the words I’m having a bday party tomorrow night it would be nice if you came scratched somewhere at the ripped bottom. You feel the blood creep up your neck to colour your cheeks, and you look over your shoulder to peek at his face. He is staring at the board uninterestedly, giving no signs of embarrassment or importance to your attendance. You end up rather disappointed, but you decide to come. You tuck the note in between the magnet bookmark of your planner, raise your hand, and answer the teacher’s question. You are correct, and it’s not really a surprise.

What surprises you, though, is the fact that he is waiting for you on that aforementioned Friday, leaning on the locker next to yours with his head downcast and his fingers twirling his phone in his hand, the other rubbing at his nape. You approach warily with light footsteps. You clear your throat as you work on your locker’s combination, but that’s all you can do. The air is immobile in your lungs and the words are stuck in your throat and all you can do is wait for him to say something – anything – to you before you spontaneously combust.

He tells you that, if it were ok with you, he’d escort you to his house for the party. He says he found out that your houses are located on the same block, with his house a few lots farther than yours. It’s all a conflict in your mind as you arrange your books back to their original arrangement – biggest to smallest, notebooks by order of subject time – and think about his proposition. You end up agreeing, and you see him smile for the first time.

His smile is the type that can never be considered a smile by normal standards for it’s only a slight lilt of the right corner of his upper lip, an aberrance on his usually stoic face. But that little quirk of muscle has your heart picking up and pumping a mile a minute, and it changes everything entirely.

He has a lot of friends. That is confirmed by the sheer amount of adolescents partying and drinking all around his living room and backyard, the music oppressively loud to your ears. You are sipping on a combination of mango juice and diluted vodka, while the others chug on beer and tequila and other things you cannot spell, much less pronounce.

He attracts people the way a light attracts moths. He blankets the people around him with his own special bubble, and makes them all feel especially important with the way he looks at them intently and seems to hold on to every word you say. And you find yourself doing the same, leaning in whenever he laughs as a sunflower bends towards the sun, looking up at him with awe and undivided attention written all over your gaze as you drink up every syllable he enunciates.

You see him dancing for the first time that night. He is surrounded by a circle of people and, as the track dissolves and picks up into a dubstep score with heavy drops and twinkling synths, he’s dancing and popping and locking as if his life depended on it. There is a distinct laziness in the way he executes every manoeuvre, but his precision and sharp agility is so clean and powerful it takes everyone’s breath away – including yours. There’s something in the way he moves, the way his hips oscillate as the track intensifies with scratches and a loud pounding bass, that has the image of him pirouetting ingrained in your mind.

He approaches you sometime when it’s nearly the cusp of dawn. The people have long started disappearing, and you are helping clean the mess. You don’t know why you are even doing this when you could’ve been at home and potentially sleeping in. He makes his way towards you while you stack the red cups on themselves and let them tower on the countertop like scarlet buildings.

He thanks you for attending the party, though he may have sort of forced you to go by waiting on you as he did earlier. He apologises for making you clean up even if you did it on your own free will, and he apologises for not spending the evening with you. He says all this and more with a hand on his nape while the other holds open a black garbage bag where you dispose the used napkins and plastic wrappers.

You tell him that it is ok, that you had fun (even though not really), and that you understand. You lapse into a silence that can be considered somewhat comfortable, and your hands brush when you reach for the same bottle of Jack Daniel’s. You feel this bolt of something akin to electricity that runs up your arms and down your spine only to make your toes curl into your socks. It’s such a foreign feeling that it makes you pull your hand away abruptly, face giving in to morph into a mask of shock as he drops the bag and comes closer to you.

You step back with every step forward he takes and it’s a dance of who can reach the closest and who can go the farthest. It escalates to the point that you slip on a puddle of spilt alcohol and you’re tipping backwards and he catches you in a dip with no space in between you and him. The music has long gone, but you can hear and feel the melody rocking inside your veins and shaking your core with every hum and inhale and exhale and interlude.

His breath is on your neck and your mouth is on the brink of converging with his. You can already feel the shadow of it on the tones of your lips with every breath he chances to take from your exhales, taste the sweet nectarine of his sighs as he internally deliberates on finishing off this dance like this or give it the grandeur an exhibition of raw feelings like this deserves by eliminating the space between them.

Everything is hovering in the space between your mouths, incarnated as oxygen and carbon dioxide that you both exchange and let sink in your life blood. You’ve never felt life this before: the white-hot rush thrumming your entire being as if you’re a live wire; the tingle in your toes as they hover centimetres above the hardwood floor while he holds you up with his strong, lean arms; the want – need – to be taken and kissed hard and held close as universally possible. It all overwhelms and underwhelms you – the wait.

But as fast as you fell you picked yourself back up.

You pushed him away and let yourself back on the ground, the lingering press and warmth of his fingers on your waist a fading reminder of what-could-have-been. You tell him hastily that you are sorry for the bother, that you will go, and that he should forget what just happened.

You tell him I’ll be going now, have a good day, and I’m sorry before gathering enough strength to turn away from him, bolt to the front door and run all the way home.

You think if you both are friends still, or something more. You’re not sure of where you both stand now, and the uncertainty frays at your resolve and all you want to do is get out of here. But there’s this niggling hope that somehow he’ll stop you, make you change your mind, and sweep you off your feet.

Then, as your fingertips ghost over the cold surface of the brass doorknob you hear him.

Stay.

It’s only then do you realise how the permeating soft heat lingering along the expanse of your back reminds you of home, and how his body aligns with yours perfectly the moment you turned around to look at him.

His fringe falls over his beautiful dark eyes that are boring straight into yours.

He opens his mouth to say, I want you to stay, don’t walk away. Please be mine, please don’t go. Change your mind.

And he means everything with every fibre of his body and you actually feel and believe it. He brings up his much larger and warmer hand to cup at your cheek, the roughness of the pads of his fingers and the petallike softness of your flushed cheek a deep contrast that makes him and you want each other all the more.

He bends down towards you, much like the way the moon bends to pull at the tides, and asks permission to kiss you. This in itself destroys and cuts all of your doubts into a hundred thousand dazzling stars that solidifies into a galaxy of what’s-to-come and the surety that this is right.

So you tilt your face up to be kissed.

Holiday

He was always the wild one, they said.

The type that would always get into fights and ran away, only to be found by the authorities his parents hired. He’d be discovered sleeping underneath the stars and hitch hiking with wandering souls that have nothing but want everything. He’d be found smoking and drinking and playing guitar, singing as if it was his last performance on Earth.

They say he’s as wild as an elephant’s child: with no sense of self-worth and no moral compass pointing him north. His arrow is spinning – always has been spinning – and it’s never stopped. Not once. A lot of people have tried to keep him down, to make him stay. Reasons such as family, love, life and obligations were used as if it’s the only thing important in the world and should be held above everything.

But he saw through all of this and it’s never made him stray from his supposed life’s purpose; anything extraneous never seemed important to him anyway.

However this all changed when you came along. You were the new kid in the block: the newly bloomed flower that drew every bee in town in with your life story, the youthful freshness of your face, the thrilling flush of your pure face, the innocence and wetness of your wide doe eyes. No one is an exception of this charm you beheld upon these strangers, not even him – the delinquent punk with iridescent hair and steely grey eyes.

You find yourself drawn to him, too. He possessed this characteristic imbalance of nonchalance that was so him it surprised you. He was the type of person that did not care about anything at all, that everything he does is lazy. His moves are executed with precise, and slow twitches and glides, all done with an unbefitting grace and accuracy only he can pull off. He had you – hook, line and sinker – from the very moment he shot you that lazy smirk, an infinitesimal quirk of the right side of his red lips, as if it was already a ghost of what was a smile.

The way you fall for him is much like how rain falls from the Heavens – slowly, then all at once.

It’s a torrent of words exchanged, drizzles of stories unraveled, storms of tears as secrets are unearthed, destroyed, then buried again. It’s a hurricane of emotions as you say I love you, and wait for him to say it back. It’s a blizzard of kisses and hot fiery touches as you both map each other’s bodies and memorise answers you will never say, and never find. It’s the eye of the storm when his compass’ arrow finally stops moving and whirring, coming to a halt as it points at you.

Maybe you can keep him around.

Maybe you can change his mind.

Maybe you can make him stay this time.

But, really, it was only a matter of time.

You see the first sign after the first time you told him those three words. You see him hesitate, that arrow twitching slightly in the form of his fingers wrapped tightly around yours.

You ignore this, though, along with the second and the third and the fifth and the umpteenth sign – all seen after every single time you remind him of what you feel for him, and just how much he means to you.

He is gone one day, with you realising this as you wake up alone in bed, naked and spent with his side of the mattress still bodywarm and laden with his scent. There’s a note by his pillow, a blue sticky note pasted on the dent where his beautiful head used to be, where his dreams came alive.

A new start
I’ve broken too many hearts
And I don’t have any clue where to go
I don’t know
But maybe I’ll come back someday
After my holiday

I love you, too, but I don’t think I’ll ever change. I love you, but someone can love you better. You deserve someone better. I love you, and I’ll come back. Someday.

You cry. It wracks through your whole body, making your bare shoulders shiver as the sun rises and the heat bleeds on your back. It makes you clutch the duvet closer to your chin as you breathe in his smell for the last few beats of the morning as it dwindles into the afternoon.

He disappears just like how the rain disappears – slowly, then all at once. You regret not holding on to him tighter, not making yourself important to him enough, not changing him.

But you wait for him – the rain – all the same. You go back to your special place with him, and wait for his return.

All of the wasted time spent with him, all of the hours he left behind with you, the answers that you both will never find. You keep them in a box, ready for when he comes back and bounds up to you all windstruck and broken and beautiful.

When that day comes, when he deems you enough to be an anchor to keep him on the ground, they all won’t mean a thing.

Love You To Death

There’s something in the way he talks about you whenever he brings you to meet his friends. He has a possessive hold on your waist – or your hand but it doesn’t really matter because the grip is tight all the same – and he’s got you glued to his side. He introduces you with gloating in his voice and you, in all its sick glory, feel proud of yourself. You’ve just been paraded by him in front of his friends like some sort of trophy, and you think of it as some sort of achievement.

That night you meet so-and-so, his childhood friend and fellow office mate. She’s a good lady, awfully beautiful too. You know it, and your boyfriend knows it too. You spend the night with your boyfriend sandwiched in between you and her, and all throughout the night you feel as if you’re the third wheel. She’s much closer to him than you will ever be, and it’s a bitter pill to swallow.

So you gulp down your shot of tequila, suck hard on your lemon slice, swallow, and ask for another one. You find company in the man seated in front of you, talking in hushed undertones as he sips on his coke and whiskey.

When you’re deep in the conversation with John or Stephen or David or Alex – or whatever – and your eyes are sparkling and the alcohol is alive in your bloodstream, you are forced to come down from the high by a hand gradually tightening around your thigh. You look away and see your boyfriend seething, the jealousy evident in the way his dark eyes flash.

It’s unfair how he can be so free, how he can do whatever he wants. It’s unfair how you always end up following him, how you end up leashed and gagged and disciplined as if you’re his dog – his bitch.

And maybe that’s what you really are. But you don’t stop this bullshitry. Instead, you stop talking to what’s-his-name, and resort to looking at the fasten of the watch your boyfriend gave you years ago – back when he was still your lover and not your master, your owner.

You follow through with what he wants because you’re a good girlfriend. After all, you love him to death.