Featured

My Mexicanness

I’ve never been “that Mexican”. In both senses of the phrase. I was never that Mexican guy up in your face and confrontational about my heritage and my race. I was also never that Mexican because I saw myself as a darker toned white guy. Being Mexican was secondary to who I was. And if I’m being honest with myself, it was probably further down the list that that.

That is, until it was not.  My Mexicanness came crashing through one evening during an uncomfortable dinner date in West Hollywood.

West Hollywood (or WeHo), to many, in the early 1990s was and probably still is an elitist, predominantly white affluent neighborhood–the gay mecca of the West Coast, second only to San Francisco. It is here where only the physically fit, good-looking, and mostly white gay males enjoy their inherent privilege.

I was dating a gorgeous blond guy with impossibly deep blue eyes. Our relationship was in the beginning stages of a budding romance and we were on our way to a dinner at the French Market Place in WeHo so that we could get to know each other better. I picked him up and drove the fifty-some miles to the restaurant, excited at the prospect of falling in love.

We were seated by our waiter and that’s when the problem began. This waiter, an aging Twink with the receding hairline and clothes that were about 10 years too young and two sizes too small greeted Robert, my would-be new boyfriend, with a friendly smile. He looked at me with that disapproving look that I’m all too familiar with.

What’s worse is that he even outright refused to acknowledge me. All through dinner, he never looked at me and, instead, referred to Robert to answer for me, rather than speak to me directly.

Questions in the third person: “What does he want for dinner?” “Ask him if he’d like more Coke.”

With each humiliating dismissal, I shrank even more until I felt like I had disappeared. I didn’t matter and nobody cared. But I could feel the anger building up. It started in the pit of my stomach and rose up to the tips of my ears. In that moment, all those microaggressions I lived through but didn’t notice finally came rushing at me like fractured shards cutting into me and making me bleed.

“He speaks English so well.”

“Do you have enough money to buy that?”

“He’s not like the other ones.”

And then there are the eyes of the salesclerks—the look of fear and suspicion. They ignore, but they keep watch.

They al could have been that waiter…

I’d like to say that on that night, I suddenly felt empowered to speak up and be seen. That I stood up, spoke my mind and walked out of the restaurant, leaving Robert to find his own ride home.

I’d like to say that it was a proud moment for me as I headed out, head high and determined never to look back.

But that’s not how it played out.

Instead, I swallowed my pride. It went down like half chewed portions of the dinner I didn’t get to enjoy that night. It blocked my esophagus and lodged itself in my throat. The lump remained right there silencing my voice. It felt as if I was drowning in a deep ocean of blue, unable to gasp for air. Robert never looked me in the eye for the rest of the evening. It was a quiet ride back home, filled with unresolved tension.  

They say that to be silent is to be complicit. Perhaps Robert didn’t have the words to speak up for me.  I know I certainly didn’t know how to express the ache that was eating me from the inside out. In any case, Robert never called me again after that night. He never came looking for me, either. And I never felt the need to find him again.

I refocused my priorities. Finding my voice was the important thing now. Unfortunately, that doesn’t happen overnight. It’s a skill that is practiced and learned—much the same way that racism and prejudice is practiced and learned. It may take years, but it eventually gets learned. I’m further along now on my journey to be seen and heard. Now, if anyone ever makes me feel less than what I am, you better watch out, ‘cuz I have no problem being that Mexican up in your face.

Featured

Handshakes and Hostages

This friendship starts with a firm handshake. I never wanted a new friend. Especially this one who doesn’t speak a word of English and, worse,  a friend forced on to me by insistence of my mother.

“He’s new to our congregation and he’s new in this country and he has nobody.” She has the uncanny ability to make simple statements sound like commands.

Hanging out with him means that I have to speak Spanish, something that I, at the age of 16, am not willing to do. It’s not that I don’t speak it (in fact, Spanish is my first language), but I can’t be bothered. I associate the language with two things I hate the most: the conservative doctrines of our cult-like religion and my mother’s determination to uphold those outdated Old Testament views at home.

But I have no choice and I reluctantly agree to meet him. His name is Alex. Turns out we’re the same age, born a month apart. I ask him what he wants to do.

“You’re the expert, here,” he says. “Show me what the kids in America like to do on a Saturday.” His Spanish is thick with the Chilango accent of the uppity natives of Mexico City. Being the quintessential teenager, the only thing I can think to do is hang out at the mall and listen to music. So that’s what we set out to do.

After wandering around the mall and flipping through albums at Rhino Records, I sense Alex’s boredom. Yet, he hesitates to say anything. I’m sure by now he’s feeling like a hostage to the American youth culture of the late 1980s. Annoyed that he can’t understand that this is what teenagers do, I ask him if there’s anything he’d like to see.

“I would like to see the beach.”

I roll my eyes and off we go. I have a great distaste for the ocean. Ironic, since I live forty-five minutes by freeway from the so-called beautiful Southern California beaches.

I tune into KROQ, the premier new wave/synth pop alternative radio station in the Los Angeles area. I turn up the volume as high as I can and get lost in a pollution of synthesizer rock. It’s always been a great pleasure for me to drive around town listening to music without any real destination. It’s something I still take pleasure in doing now.

We say very little to each other in the car. But I do notice that there’s a big grin plastered on his face all the way there. We arrive at Newport Beach. I park as close to the water as possible and we get out of the car. I have to catch up with him as he instantly gravitates to the lazy waves that roll up on to the beach.

Five minutes later, I call to him to get back in the car. I’ve got better things to do. On our way back, I decide I want to make a pit stop at Tower Records in Hollywood. It’s out of the way, really, but it’s a great excuse for me to continue listening to my music. And still, we say very little to each other. We do briefly stop off at Tomy’s Burger and continue on our way. I see Alex’s eyes widen with excitement as we turn on to Hollywood Blvd. Looming over to our right is the Hollywood sign. Still, he says nothing but cranes his neck to get a better view. We drive past the Hollywood Walk of Fame and Mann’s Chinese Theatre…

The rest of the day is uneventful. We head home. Before I drop him off at his place, I ask him if he had fun. His face lights up.

“Yes,” he says. “I’ve never seen the ocean before. Thank you. I’ll always remember this day.”

My heart sinks.

“Look,” I tell him in Spanish. “We have nothing in common, but my mom wants us to be friends, so… Let’s give it a try. I can’t promise anything.” I extend my hand out. He takes it firmly like businessmen striking a formal deal. “If it doesn’t work out, no hard feelings, OK?”

“OK,” he says. And we leave it at that.

In the following 10 years, we become closer than brothers. In a way, I become a hostage to his charming personality. We were inseparable. A handshake sealed our association and a decade later, a handshake undoes the bond of friendship we effortlessly worked to build.

Featured

Legacy

real-estate-signs

I could feel my cheeks getting hotter by the second as blood flowed to my face turning it red. The culprit?

My father.

I was about to start middle school and he was on the school grounds digging through the trashcans looking for cans and plastic bottles. I hoped I didn’t see any of my friends. If that wasn’t enough, I had to accompany him on weekends to his job cleaning offices in the industrial part of our town. Suffice it to say I did not look forward to my teen years.

I never thought of us as poor. After all, I was the first kid in the neighborhood with a brand-new Atari 2600. I can’t recall one single day that we went without food or had to worry about sleeping in a warm bed. And when I turned 16, I had my own car—all thanks to my dad.

A 10-year old can never fathom the extent of sacrifice parents will make for their children until it’s too late. My father was building some sort of legacy for his first-born son. It was measured in things he never had growing up in Mexico. I can’t believe this isn’t something all fathers want for their own children. I know that he started to look towards the future in America just as soon as I was born.

My earliest memories are made up of visits to the Immigration Center. The building was situated in a park with a small lake with geese. I suppose the trauma of being chased by domestic fowl can leave a permanent mark on an impressionable toddler. By the time we were granted permanent residence, my father and mother were leaving their homeland and heading to California with, not one, but two children.

When I was about to start high school, my father had just purchased a house and me and my sister welcomed a new sibling. Our family was complete. My teenage years turned out to be filled with teen angst, dating, partying, and contempt for my parents; in other words, I was a typical American teen.

In 2014, my father called: our usual bi-yearly phone call. I live about 600 miles away now and it’s difficult to visit frequently so we do the usual phone call. This time he called to say he was deeding the house to me and my two sisters.

“I want you to know that this house is yours whenever you need it,” he said. A small lump gets caught in my throat. He knows how much I’ve struggled to make ends meet since I moved away from home so many years ago.

I visit my parents in 2017. We talked about me moving back into the house since everyone else has moved on to form their own families and mom and dad plan to return to Texas.

As we say our goodbyes out on the porch, he grabs my hand.

“I’m sorry I never paid for your education,” he says. It’s the one regret in life he shares with me. “I wanted to make sure I could pay off this mortgage. You’ll always have a home if you fall on hard times.”

I feel a lump rise in my throat. I hug him as I get ready to go. I tell him I’ll be back in a month. That image of him sitting on the porch remains seared in my mind. It is the last time I will ever see him. He died just two weeks after myvisit.

***

My partner and I are about to close escrow on our very first house. This is made possible with my portion of the money from the sale of the house my father left us. It’s a bittersweet transaction. I have not honored my father’s wish of keeping it in the family. He worked so hard in his life to leave some kind of legacy firmly rooted in that house in California.

My sisters and I live in different states now. At last, we all own our own houses. The families we are forming are vastly different. We are well on our way to starting our own legacy first started by our father.

I don’t know if he realized that in all his sacrifice—collecting cans, random cleaning jobs, and hand-me-downs—his legacy has grown from the confines of one location in Southern California to a bigger portion of the United States.

 

Creative Non-Fiction, Memoir

I Want to Break Free

I was one of the unfortunates growing up in August of 1980. I was too young, and music was still about four years away from consuming my teenage life, to appreciate the game-changing influence of MTV. To exasperate the situation further, my parents didn’t see cable television as a necessity in our home. Besides, secular music was satanic. That’s not to say music wasn’t appreciated in our household. We attended church three times a week and we started and ended each session with songs written and approved by our religious organization. What’s more, we had our church’s catalog of over one hundred hymns conveniently pressed into a 10-vinyl record collection so that we could practice praising the lord from the comfort of our homes.

My aunt would come over to rehearse weekly songs. She would flip through the record collection, pulling out random records and checking out the back for the track listing. Eventually, she would find the song she was looking for and she would instruct me, my sister and my cousin to sing. The records contained just the music and we would sing the lyrics from our accompanying hymnal book, which was just a book of sheet music for each song.

Being kids and not trained to sing, we always delivered the songs in falsetto even if the song did not call for it. This always infuriated my aunt, who unleashed her rage on me and my cousin. Never at my sister. But, then again, I was male and so was my cousin.

“Stop! Stop! Stop!” She would scream. “Sing it like a man,” she barked.

Sing it like a man. At that age of about 8 years old, I had no concept of what a man was. I had an idea, which was drilled into me by leaders of my church, proselytizing from the pulpit, that men did not sleep with men; men did not answer to any woman; that men were masculine and put on this earth to procreate. My aunt was merely repeating the dogma with cultish fervor, never stopping to rationalize how this would affect these young children she was charged to teach praises to the lord.

Even then I already sensed that I was different. Gay is what I was, although the language wasn’t quite there yet. I knew it in the same way that straight little boys also know that when they like little girls, they chase them at recess around the playground and pull their hair as expressions of affection.  

It wasn’t until I was twelve that I was able to consolidate the conflicting feelings inside of me. On the one hand, I knew I was gay. On the other hand, I knew it was wrong because I was told all my life that it was wrong. This realization came in the form of a music video. Not from MTV, but from a public access TV station that aired Video One, an MTV-style one-hour program featuring the latest music videos, as well as videos from the recent past.

This particular day, I was home sick watching TV in my bedroom. Even in mid-1980s, the television set was already old—a Zenith black and white model with a 12-inch screen. I turned the channel to Video One and laid my head on the pillow. I loved the weird storylines that accompanied most of the music of that time. This time around, it was a video I hadn’t seen before: A camera panned in on a bedroom. It, then, cuts to a living room. Into the frame comes a hand pushing a vacuum cleaner. As the person is revealed, we get an image of a woman in a tight blouse and a leather mini skirt. But something was off. This woman had a full mustache. Then, that rich baritone voice proclaims, “I want to break free!” This was no woman. This was Freddy Mercury in full drag, shattering my concept of gender conformity. In that moment, I knew, deep down inside that I could not betray who I was. I would have to keep it to myself, but I would eventually break free.

Music has the power to liberate, but the images that accompanied that music brought the subtext to the fore. Video clips such as Queen’s “I Want to Break Free” and “Time Warp” and “Sweet Transvestite” from The Rocky Horror Picture Show helped me navigate my role in the context of masculinity and my choice to subvert it.

Memoir

Faith.

5c06a4db2ba8d8e959d2c5ab54b08afdb90e98b3Faith. George Michael.

Sometimes, you just “gotta have faith,” as the song goes. For an awkward teen trying to find his place in life, these lyrics really helped define the man he would become. For me, faith was tied to harsh fundamentalist ideologies that made no room for a young kid who was already questioning his sexuality.

George Michael’s Faith was released in late 1987. It is one of my favorite albums of all time. I was 15 when I first heard the first 2 singles from this album. “I Want Your Sex” was sexy and controversial and, perhaps, a little bit forbidden… Especially for a teenage boy who was not allowed to listen to mainstream music. My church held sermons on the evils of this song, along with the evils of other music from artists such as Prince, Madonnna and Cyndi Lauper. This faith left me in fear of being caught listening to this music.

It wasn’t until after I turned 16 that I gathered enough courage to buy the album at the remate (Spanish for “swap meet”) on Van Buren in Riverside. This was the place where a Mexican kid could roam the aisles of used furniture, second-hand clothing and knock-off fashions and feel a part of mainstream America at a discounted price. I purchased a bootleg cassette from one of the music peddlers and it cost me about $5–a lot of money back then… For a bootleg. But I ponied up the money and proudly held it in my hands. Little did I know it would go on to change my life… Literally. By then, at least 3 singles had already been released and were quickly climbing the charts.

George Michael hadn’t come out, yet… I hadn’t come out, either. But I knew we shared something in common. I knew (I just knew!) we were both gay and this album was trying to speak to me in some kind of code that I wasn’t ready to decode. If Madonna’s Like A Virgin awakened the gay in me, then it was George Michael’s Faith album that reaffirmed to me that I was, indeed, gay, and that I would be OK.

Music had a big influence on me as a teenage. My religious upbringing was telling me things that didn’t line up with what my heart knew to be true. They taught me that faith had the power to release me from the worldly decadence of the filthy lyrics that these bands espoused. It was faith that would lead me to the truth. However, these truths I would carefully cull from the lyrics found in the music that played on the radio.

“I Want Your Sex.” Boy, that started it all for me. It was late summer of 1987 and the first few chords of the sleazy electro-funk sounds sent electric waves through my body. Like the American Bandstand kids would say, “It has a good beat and you can dance to it.” It ignited in me something that started deep in my groin and emanated outwardly. Maybe it had something to do with the boy that captured my heart that late summer; the boy from the library with the tattered converse, the skinny black jeans and The Ramones t-shirt. I wanted to live the song. I wanted his sex, but all I got was a half-hearted, clumsy kiss in the magazine section of the library and an affirmation from him that he “wasn’t gay.” I wasn’t as persuasive as the song, but, it was the subtext that resonated with me the most, anyway:

“There’s little things you hide/
And little things that you show”

I had cracked the code! He wasn’t singing to a woman or about women! The ambiguity of the lyrics left it open so that I could pursue the sex of my choice, whether successfully or not.

The album produced even more hits: “Father Figure”, “Monkey”, “Kissing a Fool.” Gay anthems… In my mind, anyway. I don’t think he ever convinced me he was writing music about the opposite sex. I don’t think he was trying, either. I took it on faith that what I was doing was the right thing to do. I followed my heart and it felt good. I may not always get the guy, but that was OK.

Now, when I listen to this album, many years later… When I struggle to remember that age of 15 and 16, when time still marched at a slower cadence than it does now… I remember the first time I pop that bootleg cassette into my tape player, place the headphones over my ears and make my way past the swap meet shoppers. My ears fill with the sounds of the pipe organ intro of “Freedom” before the jangled chords of the guitar kick into “Faith.” I clearly remember each note and the weight it carries in my heart, even now. And the load it lifted off of me back in 1988.

Rest in Peace, George Michael.

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Writing Tips

The yeah write Journey

the-pesonal-essay-blogAs editors at yeah write, we’ve been given permission to violate the rules for this week. I’m given permission to violate the fiction-only rule at the speakeasy by posting this on here. And I’m violating the yeah write challenge by surpassing the 600-word limit, but it’s someone’s special birthday.

I was looking for something a little more than just a blog. I had read plenty of them to know what I didn’t want to do. I had a degree in Creative Writing, dammit. But even I knew that wasn’t enough. Anyone could go to college and earn a degree. All it really meant was that you can go to class and finish a course. I had written a few good essays, but that was it.

After college, I moved to Los Angeles and joined a few writing groups, but all I got out of it was an ear for those writers who had no interest in the craft, but were more fascinated by the sound of their voice. It was an ego trip after ego trip. The quality writing groups cost money I didn’t have, but I was tired by then. I put my writing away and focused on other interests. I was looking for a community that didn’t exist.

More than a decade later, I moved up to Oregon and, by chance, ran into a newly formed writing group made up of professional writers and freelancers. What really excited me was the lack of ego and sincere feedback that was both constructive and encouraging. I was hooked. Then I got an idea: I wanted to write a memoir—not because my life had been extraordinary or because I had profound insight about the meaning of life. No, I wanted to write a memoir because that genre fit into my favorite style: the personal essay.

So, at the tail end of 2013 I decided to start a blog of my own. I wanted to fill it with personal essays. I wanted to gauge other’s interest in my writing, but not from friends and family. I wanted to send them out and see where they went on their own, without the positive feedback of a kind friend or sympathy of a family member. If I was going to do this, these pieces would need to stand on their own strengths or falter on the weakness of a first, second, or even third draft.

I dragged out that first essay from college and searched online for a literary magazine that would find it a home. During that search, I found yeah write. It took me a couple of days to read all the links—guidelines, tips, and rules. I read them again. And then again. I couldn’t believe such a place existed for blog writers. What appealed to me the most was probably what most writers were afraid of: rejection. If my piece wasn’t good enough, I would not be accepted and I would need to try harder. On top of that, I got instant feedback. It’s what makes a serious writer a real writer—the ability to hone their craft until it’s just right. That can only happen if you send it out and get honest critique.

This site is for bloggers looking for meaning in their writing. It’s a mentor for the writer seeking self-worth as a writer, and more importantly… It’s a community of writers.

I submitted a few posts and made it on to the grid! Then I got an email from Erica. Would I be interested in joining yeah write as a submissions editor? I panicked. I’m not an editor. I never considered being an editor. But I accepted. It would be a challenge (and it is!) but being my worst critic, it would offer me a chance to reflect on my own writing as I point out other writer’s flaws. By no means am I better than anyone. I will always be the perpetual student, eager to learn and grow. By no means am I a perfect editor, either. It’s a process I’m learning as I go. This is what yeah write has offered me. Happy birthday, yeah write!

 

 


 

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Poems

Whodunnit

Boogeyman3_02Rustling leaves
Dead of night
It lurks and waits
The dim of light

The child knows
The child fears
The thing that lives
But no one hears

A flash of steel
The red of blood
A silenced cry
And then he’s gone

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Poems

Wilde-eyed

Milky_Way_Night_Sky_Black_Rock_Desert_NevadaIt’s been said before.
It happens to all.

Down in that gutter – a moment of clarity
begins to ignite.

All hope’s not lost.
We strain to look up.

Those dazzling pinpoints
pierce the sky.

It starts there.
And we begin to climb.

 

 

 

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Memoir

The Kiss That Almost Was

doisneau_kissShe leaned into me, tilted her head to the side and closed her eyes. I did the same as I waited for the inevitable kiss. Under different circumstances, this might have played out like a Robert Doisneau photograph. But reality never plays out that way… Especially when you’re a teenager. In that mid-price range hotel room, I smelled the cheap perfume and felt her body heat wash over me. It was a strange feeling—an act of defiance against everything I was taught. To frustrate matters, there were about thirty college kids in the room with me, already pairing up into couples, each seeking out some sort of privacy that doesn’t exist in rented spaces. I saw them in my peripheral and heard the moaning in the next room. She trembled in my arms, this foreign body that triggered a cold sweat throughout my body. I felt her breath on my face. I braced for the impact… And then she burst into tears.

I’d like to say it was my manly bravado that reduced her to a blubbering mess, but the truth is I would have been the one bursting into tears if she hadn’t beaten me to it. What had taken over an hour to build up to this moment was quickly undone by an honest emotion. I spent the rest of the evening comforting her, all the while privately reconciling the moral dilemma.

It happened two months after my eighteenth birthday. We were in a city fifty miles from home. We walked out through the double doors like Jehovah’s Witnesses on a mission. In fact, we were Jehovah’s Witnesses, but we weren’t spreading the Good News at the Holiday Inn this late at night. Our mission? To get laid. Or, at least to get, Sergio, my best friend laid. The JW convention meant staying in discounted hotels. Sergio ran into a college group from Berkeley staying at the Ramada Inn. We were invited to our first beer party and there would be plenty of girls to choose from.

“I met this girl,” he said. “If I play it cool, she’ll be mine by the end of the night… Oh, she has a friend, so you need to come.” He assured me that if I didn’t go, I would be denying him a basic need. Besides, it was during these conventions, away from home, that we weren’t closely watched by the ever-seeing eyes of the congregation elders. So we lined our briefcases, not with Watchtower literature, but with 12-ounce cans of Miller Genuine Draft.

She explained the reason for her breakdown. She, too, had been brought along by her friend. She didn’t want to be here. To make matters worse, she only agreed to come along on this trip because she had a crush on a boy… A boy who was inflicting pangs of illicit pleasure to a nameless girl in the next room. Suddenly, she didn’t seem as foreign as I thought her to be. Still, I didn’t feel inclined to kiss a woman passionately on the lips for another fifteen years. And even then, I braced myself for the impact.

I was proud of the fact that I didn’t compromise the truth about myself. I was proud that I was honest with myself. But I worried that I could never live up to the moral standards I was brought up with. They teach us fundamental truths while they instill in us a list of what is right and what is wrong. Their list may not always be right, but I think I conquered the fundamentals.

 

Short Stories

Little Luke’s Tea Time

playground7Little Luke loved recess time. For this first grader – as is with all 6-year-old children in general, and especially for the boys and girls in his first grade class who never once gave him a second thought, recess lasted an eternity. The others quickly learned the value of cliques and groups, disdain and contempt while they played the usual games of tag, chasing one another, taking turns on the swings, or having it out with tiny fists over a disagreement, one thing they all agreed on was this: not one of them liked Luke. And if you were to ask them why this was so, they would turn their heads up at you with a puzzled look, shrug it off, and continue with their Lego projects. This never bothered Luke, who was too pale and too skinny. He simply went on about his own business; never once questioning the fate dealt him at birth. To everyone in the world, Luke was simply invisible.

Each day at ten in the morning, Luke hauled out his dusty, blue blanket from his cubbyhole, gathered his toys, and headed for the big tree at the far end of the playground. There, he spread out his blanket on the ground and carefully laid out his rag-tag team of Barbie dolls and stuffed animals that he’d collected from trash bins or stolen away from forgotten corners. Once they were set up, it was tea time. He served it with precision just as he had seen on TV, although his hands would tremble the slightest bit. He pictured his tea set to be exactly like the one he had seen and he imagined it to taste just as good, though he had never tasted it in his entire life.

He had invited, as he always did, the girl from his classroom who sat behind him two rows over. He always caught her looking at him and when he did, she quickly turned her head forward, suddenly engrossed in the teacher’s lesson on the correct way to write the letter Y.

Amy never could make it to tea time as she was always caught up in the games that the other children played. By the time she did, she was already running late. But Luke always placed an extra setting in hopes that she would make it to his side of the playground before eternity halted at the sound of the bell.

He did this every day for two whole months and she always promised she would come, until the day she stopped coming to school. A month, the teacher informed the class that Amy had moved. Her father had been reassigned to Fairbanks. She then pulled out a stack of letters from Amy to everyone in her class. Luke opened his and it simply read: “I’m sorry. Let’s have tea.” There was no forwarding address and he had no clue where Fairbanks was located.

His life continued as it had before. He went left when he should’ve gone right, said yes when he should’ve said no as if fate was playing a cruel joke with his life. Luke continued setting a place at tea time for Amy until he grew too old for silly games.He never forgot her.

It wasn’t until about twenty years later that chance encounter brought him back to Amy. She was in town visiting, when she saw a thin, pale young man across the street. She immediately recognized him and she waved to him. Luke, taken by surprise that anyone had even noticed him, waved back tentatively. They caught up with each other right there on the corner of First and Main. She was running late, but arranged to meet later that evening. “Take me to tea,” she had told him. She laughed and he smiled, finally knowing the warmth of being in on an inside joke. She hurried off, but not before scrawling down her address at the hotel… Just in case. He didn’t want to lose her again like he did in first grade.  It was a date twenty years overdue.

*    *    *

Luke sat on the comfortable couch of the Tea Tea Bar five hours later and ordered a pot of herbal tea. She was already an hour late. He poured it into his glass with the expertise of one who had been doing it for years. His fingers trembled a little, but he knew that would pass. It always passed after a few hours. He thought back on the menagerie of guests under the tree in the playground from years before. When he no longer had a need for them, he had disposed of them with his own hand. Sometimes he would use the butter knife from his mother’s kitchen drawer. But he always served tea with trembling hands right after that.

———-

This story was written for the Tipsy Lit Prompt of the week.

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