Creative Writing, Fiction, Life

Maybe She’s You

There once was a woman who was lonely. She had given up the pain which at one time promised happiness. Sometimes those scars from her past would bleed with tears. To help ease the loneliness, she would close her eyes and drift off into a world of comforting thoughts.

In the secure darkness, she painted sounds of the ocean, crashing waves, rippling water. Colors of aqua, green, blue, cloudless skies and the smell of salt filtered through her senses. The thought of sinking under water weightless, the outside sounds muffled, calming colors… With these thoughts a smile would pierce her lips. Instantly her body warmed with happy tingles that grew goose bumps on her arms.

There were also thoughts of the smell of skin, intimate thoughts of cheek to cheek, lips barely touching an ear, and drowning in the scent of a man. A foreign embrace, a kiss pulled away seeking a hunter. Come after me, the lips would call. The tracing of fingers over her body, smooth and slow… again would send frustrating tingles through her body, but the feeling alone was quite welcome. She often welcomed the thoughts of sex for not having sex made her detail all the intricacies of sex mankind never remembers in the heat and passion of it all. She felt almost blessed to be fruitless for so long, but more often, not.

There was the sound of laughter, the voice of her son, and her mother calling her name that in an instant made her feel happy. The giggle of her best friend, the gentle hug from her brother, messages and emails from her family and friends made her feel comforted. Memories of eventful mischievousness’ made her smile or laugh out loud. And secret dance offs in the privacy of her room were all too often not out of the ordinary. These things made her feel not so lonely.

The funny thing about thoughts, the woman would recall to herself, is that they are only thoughts. They come and go in an instant. The woman was right and again she would feel lonely. She thought it a cruel gift to have such a fertile imagination. She would cry and then laugh at herself in her moments of weakness. Stupidness, she gaffed and proceeded to find things to fill up her time.

Creative Writing, Food, Travel

247 Craven

We celebrated our anniversary with dinner at 247 Craven, New Bern, North Carolina. This is a true story.

The old city smelled of sea with it’s humid air weighing on the evening. As we walked to the restaurant, not far from our hotel, there was a nostalgia of remnant brick buildings, a tall clock tower overhead, and an unrelenting sun setting sky. I felt… in love.

247 Craven, a quaint restaurant with large glass windows was somewhat tucked away as if we happened upon it, like Lucy and her adventures in the wardrobe, when of course, we were intentionally seeking it out. Online, the reviews for 247 Craven were quite favorable and we were immediately drawn in by the advertisement of locally sourced fresh foods. 

Upon walking in, a young man with dark hair, dark eyes, and dark skin waved a handsome bright smile welcoming us into what was a very cozy space. Natural wooded furniture, white or cream colored walls with distinctive wall decor, I felt very comfortable. I felt as though, this restaurant will not disappoint me. My feelings of sentiment were right.

From a delicious appetizer of peanut humus and fresh cooked pork rinds to a beautifully slow grilled Angus hanger steak, we were impressed. The bottle of Bordeaux we drank was a delicious pairing to the steaks we had and the blueberry cheesecake we shared was absolutely lovely. The amazing food and quaint ambiance brought smiles and laughter, chatter about old memories, and subtle coquetry. We said, “I love you,” out loud, with our eyes, while holding hands… we were in love.

But if you happen to not be in it for the love, definitely go for the food because 247 Craven is worthwhile no matter what!

Creative Writing, Fiction, Life

Little Things

The sun glared across her brown body laying against the white sand. He, lying next to her counted the sporadic dark spots on her shoulders and neck. There were nine altogether, six on her shoulders and three on her neck.

“Stop staring at me.”

“How would you know I’m staring at you”, he replied.

“Because I can feel your eyes pressing on me harder than the sun”, she smiles and opened one squinted eye. She rolled onto her side to face him. He thought to himself, she’s so beautiful. “I can tell when you’re staring at me.”

“Oh yeah,” he snickered.

“Yeah,” she flirted, tapping his nose with her fingers, wearing a seductive grin. “It’s this sixth sense I have with you.”

“Only with me,” he asked. She leaned forward and kissed him softly.

“No, not only with you,” she smiled. He giggled and flicked sand at her as she rolled onto her back. He thought to himself, I know it’s not only with me. He hated feeling insecure about her feelings for him. When he was around her, he found himself intimidated and unsure of his words and actions.

“Let it go,” she said without movement. He turned his gaze towards the ocean afraid she was staring right through him. He pressed the bits of sand between his fingers rolling them together as he watched the waves form and crash… form and crash… repeating its cycle. He noticed each wave was different, smaller or larger than the next, breaking at different times.

“We lay out here any longer, we’re closer to becoming cancer candidates,” he said while lying back down.

“Even cancer has the right to live,” She said softly.

He huffed, “Well, that’s one way to look at it.” They lay there for awhile and she began to feel lonely for him. She slid her hand across the sand and reached for his. He squeezed her hand then rolled his head over to look at her. He said, “I love you.” She didn’t return the sentiment.

“I’m not uncomfortable with saying it,” she knew he was waiting for her to say the same words back, “I think I said it when I reached for your hand.” He smiled and squeezed her hand again. “Sometimes moments don’t need to be caught in photographs and sometimes words don’t need to be said to express emotion.” He laughed loud and hard and she looked at him puzzled. What’s so funny, she thought.

“What are you today, the Dali Lama or something?”  He continued laughing. She thought about what she had said and then joined him, laughing out loud.

Creative Writing, Fiction, Life

The Edge of a Cliff

It was only for a second, perhaps a split second, but the moment lingered on in slow motion forever. I saw my hand clenched into a fist. My arm moving forward. I saw my fist make solid contact with her nose. Her head jilted back. With her eyes closed, she reached for her face. Blood began to run out from her left nostril. She didn’t scream. She didn’t cry. She opened her big brown eyes, looked at her blood now on her finger tips. Then she looked at me. She didn’t look confused. She looked calm and collected. So it took me by surprise that she would ball up her fist, bend her arm back, and throw a punch right back at me.

But she never landed that punch. Not in the way I hit her. Truth is: I never hit her. I wanted to… I guess. I felt some type of way after she stated in a sympathetic tone, “I don’t think I’m in love with you anymore.” That’s when I imagined punching the shit out of her nose. It was instinctive. I couldn’t help it. It just came to me, but it didn’t happen in reality. Instead, I was the one being gutted. She was standing over me, punching me over and over and over again. My face swollen, my cheeks gashed, and blood streaming from my nose; I was silenced. I felt the punches and it stung, but the pain would drift away as I stared up at her beautiful face. Her dark long hair sliding over her shoulders with a solemn look on her face… And I loved staring at her. I loved staring at her so much, I think I could’ve stayed there taking the punches like a champ if I could just be with her always, but in her one statement, it was worse. This pain was going to be permanent; a permanent fucking punch in the face.

I told her I couldn’t look at her and made my way to the shower. You probably think I went to take a shower because I was crying. Well, hell yeah I was crying. I was fucking balling. It was the worst pain I had ever felt. I wanted to crawl into the fetal position and stay in bed, but I wasn’t going to let her see me that low. So I took a shower, but she still came in to check on me. And I was happy to have her near me seeing her silhouette on the other side of the shower curtain.

“Are you ok?”

“I’m fine.”

“I can hear you crying.”

“Well, I’m fucking hurting. My heart is breaking.”

“Oh… I didn’t know you were hurting that much. I just thought you were angry. I never said I wanted us to break up. I told you that because I want us to work on us.”

“Do you remember what today is?” Silence. “It’s my fucking birthday.”

“Oh shit! I’m so sorry, babe.” I watched her silhouette as she stripped off her clothes and entered the shower. She came up behind me and wrapped her arms around my waist. “Babe, I’m sorry. I’m a bitch. I’m an asshole. I forgot. I forgot.” She kissed my back, pressed her body up against me, and held me tight. I realized it wasn’t the end of the world, it was just the edge of a cliff. I turned around to face her, and held her close to me. As the warm water hit my back with her face pressed against my chest, I felt a soothing feeling. Hope.

For two years I hoped. Even though I told her I didn’t want to work at it anymore and ended up dating multiple women. Even though I began a somewhat serious relationship and she ended up meeting someone that eventually became somewhat serious too… I still hoped. Sure we were seeing other people, but there were a few times over the two years that we slipped up and I slipped into her. Her sex was an aphrodisiac for me. I lost myself inside of her, feeling her body, and lingering in her scent… vanilla and lavender; the scent of hope. The best sex we had during this time was when I walked two miles in the middle of a tropical storm to get to her.
I remember answering my phone, “Hey, what’s up?”

“I hate to bother you, but I’m horny.” She took a long deep breath.

“Oh really?” Inside I was ecstatic.

“Yeah… But I know it’s storming so can we just talk it out?”

“I’m coming over.” She laughed. I just have to say, she had the sexiest laugh I had ever heard.

“Whatever.”

“I’m serious.”

“Didn’t you say, your roommate borrowed your car for the night?”

“Yeah. I’ll walk. It’s only 2 miles and it’s warm out.”

“Um… Aside from the Hurricane!” Her voice raised.

“I’ll be fine. It’s just wind and a little bit of rain.”

“No…,” I cut her off and hung up on her. Next thing, I was at her door. She opened the door and stepped inside quickly. I shut the door behind me and then turned around to grab her. She looked amazed as I took her face into my hands and pressed my lips hard against hers. At that moment, it was worth every step through the rain, the wind, the harassment I received from my friends when they found out what I did to get laid… laid by her. We made love and we slept through the night together. In the morning she climbed on top of me and we made love again. I remember her riding me facing the opposite direction. She looked over her shoulder at me and it was so hot. She was so hot. I fucking loved her.

Creative Writing, Fiction, Pho - Memoirs of a Vietnamese Mother & Daughter

Pho

I loved my grandmother; who was my mother. If someone were to ask me, “Who is your mother?” I would respond, “bà nội” which means “grandmother” in Quoc ngu (Vietnamese). I miss my grandmother’s arms wrapping around me. In her arms I would feel safe. Though I am old and withered, even now I long for the days when my grandmother would hold me. Warm and secure were her arms from the gun fire and eminent danger in the distance, during thunderstorms on hot sticky nights, whenever I needed her. I long for my grandmother’s arms because there was always peace there. For a long time in my life, there was no peace for my country and no sự an ninh (peace) in my heart.

All of my children hold a special place in my heart. Each of them hold different parts of me that I can clearly see now. I wonder if the same fondness I have for my grandmother my children share with me. Did I hold them enough, love them enough that they will miss me when I’m gone? Did my children feel safe with me? Was I their great protector at one time or another? This makes me think about my daughter; the daughter I lost so long ago.

My husband and I worked very hard to ensure they had food to eat, a place to live, and clothes to wear. This wasn’t easy in Vietnam during the 1960-1970’s. My husband was a fisherman and I worked various jobs; mainly as a seamstress. In 1970, I took my two youngest children (6 & 3 years old) to live with my aunt for a few months because I needed help with taking care of them. During this time, war was all around us. We were lucky enough to live in a US Army base through American connections my husband made through working various jobs. With my husband away on a fishing trip, the fast pace of everything around us made taking care of my youngest children very hard. In those times, you hesitate to send your children away for fear of losing them to the horrors of war. But when you send your children to your Aunt’s house or a close relation, there’s a feeling of security your children will be safe. Two weeks later, I received word that my youngest daughter had drowned in the river near my Aunt’s village.

Nothing can prepare a mother for the death of their child. When I saw her little body lying so still, my heart shattered into millions of pieces. I wished for her to open her eyes, smile and laugh, get up and run off to play with her sisters, but she didn’t. Did she cry for me as her body slipped into the currents of the river? Did she imagine my arms holding her as she let go of life under the muddy water? As I cried over her little body, I gripped my shirt so tight I could have ripped it from my body. The emptiness inside me was filled with tears and pain. To this day, I never mention her name because I think, maybe it was not her destiny to be mine. I think, maybe she left us so soon because she was born in such an unlucky year, the year of the Tet Mậu Thân 1968. Weeks later, when my husband returned from sea, I was ashamed to tell him one of our daughters had died. When I did, my husband went into silence, mourning for our loss. He could barely look at me or speak to me which made my heart again, shatter into a million pieces. This was a time of so much pain.

In this same year my daughter passed away, I was pregnant and gave birth to a baby boy. This made my husband very happy. The birth of my son made me happy because my husband was happy again as we had no living sons. My very first pregnancy was a boy, but he did not live very long after birth. I think, maybe all my pain for losing my little girl made me give birth to a little boy. My son brought our home so much joy… And just like that, life went on. After my son, I gave birth to three more girls. Our family was lucky enough to immigrate to the United States as refugees from the war. We raised our children the best we could in the US, trying hard to give them what they needed. At long last, my children have grown and moved on to their own lives and their own families. And yet, the daughter I lost so long ago pains me still.


The Pho Series are based loosely off  memoirs of a woman and her daughter of Vietnamese descent.