When I’m Not Around

Dec 28, 1991
Saturday

It’s such a silly thing to love.
Believe me, no one is missing anything. You pour your heart out to someone and then—snap! Love is a parasite. It consumes your whole being and lives in your core to suck out the splinters of your fading false hopes just to replace it with worse ones. You become so used to the pain you’ll think it’s a good thing. Well, here’s the truth. Love resides in you to pester and paint your panting heart a plagued gray sky. It eats you up until you become nothing but a dark, unforgiving entity stitched up with regret.

May 28, 1992
Thursday

I can hear them screaming again.
They stopped paying attention to me when I was seven. I was playing by the fireplace with Waddles, my stuffed pig and only friend. They were arguing about money when she put my hand in the fire. It didn’t seem to have any effect on him, though. He stood there blankly as if nothing happened. Then he burned Waddles. I remember that because it was my birthday.

Nov 9, 1992
Monday

No one has initiated any conversation with me for 139 days. I walk alone. I eat alone. 26 of us are cramped up in 1 classroom. 3 windows. 4 walls. 350 square feet of space.

Someone talked to me today.
He said his name was Crest/Chrest/Krest. I said I don’t care and why are you talking to me. He said that he has read all the pieces I wrote for the school paper. That’s odd. No one has ever talked to me outside of my club before, not unless I talk to them first. He told me he was willing to pay me for every poem—at any length—for ten dollars! This slick must really be desperate. I don’t know what it’s for. Anyway, I don’t care. As long as there’s money involved, there won’t be a problem.

Nov 11, 1992
Wednesday

Fasten Your Neck Belts

You feel too much, young girl.
Nobody ever fathoms the shallow sense of emotion you have.
They all look at you with amusement and pity;
whoever notices seems apathetic anyway.
You are in your self destruct mode,
please do not go haywire there.
Because they will not care
or will be too busy to even see.

You are not alone, young girl,
but others are hard to find.
They crawl beneath their own skins
to satisfy the guilt of being alive.
They scream in shades of fervor and anguish,
but you see, others don’t listen
even if their tear-filled eyes continue to glisten…
just like you, they retreat in their shells.

Stop asking why, young girl.
They do not feel what you feel because you are special,
and you deserve to be punished
for being who you are.
Yes, they see that rope too.
Don’t be afraid to wear it,
no one will ever notice even a bit
of how swiftly this will go.

Alas, they will now be asking questions, young girl.
And then they will suddenly care.
And then blame themselves for not realizing
how you were so different
and special
and unique.
They will put on their plastic frowns—
the same ones they wear twice a week.

After the years have passed they will not have known,
how you cared so much
you’ve seen the trees all grown.
They will visit your grave
but it will be too late.
You once tugged your mother at the hem
and you feel nothing now, just like them.
Aren’t they proud?

Jan 8, 1993
Friday

I am a product of love.
And as you see, I’m nothing exquisite. I am a bland mix of broken promises interwoven with ragged demeanor and I live in a house near the river. But a goof named Crest (he turns out to be a Crest, not a Krest or Chrest) insists on walking me, a bad news, home. I don’t mind, he makes me rich anyway. I have exactly sent him 17 poems. I didn’t get the reaction I wanted to get from him on my first one; he finds it appealing. It’s entitled as Fasten Your Neck Belts. It was about suicide.

June 11, 1993
Friday

I know what it feels like to be loved.
Love is when you lock yourself in your room for 28 hours, eating only your salty tears for the day. Love is holding back your whimpers while storing the fear of being slapped by your father inside a gray fanny pack. Love is when he shouts at you with boiling rage as he plugs off the computer from the socket while you’re busy with it, leaving your work unsaved. Love is stopping by your parents’ room at 3 am when you can’t fall asleep because of your allergies, then your mom tells you to fuck off.

Love is a lot of things.
Love is strange.

August 5, 1993
Thursday

Someone gave me a gift.
I find it quite amusing to think that someone (who may be entirely nuts) had the guts to waste money on me. It seems that I have been given two cotton hankies and a bandana. “Lana,” the note says. “These are for your tears when I’m not around.” -TSERC

August 8, 1993
Sunday

Apparently TSERC backwards is CREST.
It has been three days. Still no word from him. “These are for your tears when I’m not around.” Makes much more sense now. This weird sensation keeps on crawling inside me again. Why do I long for someone I don’t care about? What is this? And why hasn’t he called back?

December 7, 1993
Tuesday

I am not insane. I am not insane. I am not insane. I am not insane. I am not insane.
I am not insane. I am not insane. I am not insane. I am not insane. I am not insane.
I am not insane. I am not insane. I am not insane. I am not insane. I am not insane.
I am not insane. I am not insane. I am not insane. I am not insane. I am not insane.
I am not insane. I am not insane.

I am falling in love.

February 20, 1994
Sunday

“I love you,”
were his last words
to me.

April 7, 1994
Thursday

There are times when I can’t prevent myself from thinking about his bright cocoa-colored eyes that seem to always tell the truth. When someone passes by with the same flimsy hair-do and an identical back, for a split-second I swear it’s him. Then I’d see that the guy’s hair was more blonde than brown. I can’t help but think about how every random passerby reminds me so much of him it feels like I’m about to erupt a thousand fragments of a sunset’s hue.

September 3, 1994
Saturday

Of course, I changed. I finally had the courage to step out of the rims of my abusive parents’ war zone. It’s breathtaking to see how your life suddenly redirects, as if an invisible switch is accidentally flipped open.

August 26, 1996
Monday

A beige notepad sits in front of me.
The package arrived two days ago, two minutes after noon. Before I opened the carton box I remember scooting over the wooden chair near the mirror to catch a glimpse of the bandanna wrapped around my head. I tried hard not to remember him. I tried. I recollected all my remaining courage to unbox the parcel and two seconds later I was lying on the floor with a notebook on my chest.

1 notepad.
31 pages.
23 poems.
1 name, 5 letters, and a handwritten note.

“I’m coming back,” it says. “Wait for me.”

.
.
.

((Inspired by Tahereh Mafi and Jean Webster))

The tax collector

The deafening roar of the engines silences me. I’m walking down the pavement in my usual way. Eyes down and lips shut, too careful not to unleash my thoughts inside my pockets. I ignore countless of silhouettes that pass me by. But my body comes into an abrupt halt when I see a familiar figure.

There he was, the tax collector.
His lips are as thin as the last ray of the sun when it sets. He has a weird posture, but it isn’t out of normal. His arms are crossed. I tap his shoulder with my left hand. I look up. My thoughts scatter around me and I’m thinking that he would look the other side.

But
our
eyes
meet.

And so the collection of taxes began.