Sweaty tomato date

I went on a date once.

Didn’t know it was a date until he told our server that it was.

If I had known it was a date I would have taken the extra two minutes before leaving my house to take off my fleece-lined tights before putting my jeans on over top.

Since I thought it was a casual thing, I didn’t care so much about looking good. That’s why my face looked like a sweaty tomato on our “date.” Because I was wearing jeans over top of my fleece-lined tights and was rapidly overheating as we talked about Earnest Hemingway and Charles Bukowski.

If I had known it was a date I wouldn’t have ordered two eleven-dollar drinks.

Sure, they were smooth and delicious and possibly the tastiest drinks I’ve ever had, but twenty-two dollars is a hefty price for two drinks.

And he paid.

Leaving me feeling awful for my twenty-two dollars worth of non-refundable liquid delight.

If I had known it was a date I would have put in a little more effort – acted a bit more feminine and less “Aw hey thar Pete, pass me them there brussel sprouts, please and thank yeh.”

Alright, it wasn’t exactly like that, but I still could have acted a bit more lady-like.

Perhaps it was the combination of my pseudo-hick-ish behavior and my sweaty tomato face that prevented him from calling again. I suppose I’ll never know.

S marks the spot

“Miriam! Come ON!” I mouthed the words intensely at my big sister, waiting for her to follow me towards the looming stone wall in front of us. 

Barefoot, with chocolate smears on our cheeks, we crept along the outside of a tall stone wall towards a tree with low lying branches. I’d previously selected the tree and marked the dirt with an S.

X’s that “mark the spot” are for chumps. Or so I had thought.

I scrambled up the first few tree branches with ease, childish limbs mimicking monkey movements. Miriam followed, giving me her best “Sarah, we shouldn’t be doing this” face.

Couldn’t she see this was a mission? A mission to find out what was behind the stone wall!? 

Dogs barked at the street kids playing soccer in the dirt. Glass bottles clinked together as the pop man (yes, that was his official title) replaced the empty crates outside our house with full crates of delicious carbonated beverages. The thought of Orange Crush from a glass bottle was enough to make me tip my head in distracted thought. Miriam’s rustling below brought me back to my senses, remembering the mission.

“Can you see anything?” She asked, a 50/50 mix of curiosity and skepticism in her voice.

“Hmpf. Too short.” I grunted.

Reading my mind, as sisters often do, she lifted herself up and climbed past me with a magical sort of grace. She’s always been like that. Far more graceful than I. Taller too. If only she would trade me some of her grace and height for some of my math skills like pokemon cards or pogs. 

Placing her hands on the top of the wall, she hoisted herself up and out of sight. Eyes wide, I waited, the dramatic Jaws film score pouding inside my head. The world went silent. I was frozen in a half crouched, half extended, really awkward pose.

Seconds felt like minutes. In what felt like twenty minutes, but was really twenty seconds, Miriams face popped out over the edge of the wall.

“Well? You coming?” She asked, extending her hand.

Slightly disgruntled at the fact that she’d been the first to climb the wall, I grabbed her hand and walked my feet up the wall till I was high enough to hoist myself onto the ledge. It took me a minute to register that I was now on top of the stone wall and not still on the tree below. 

I looked at Miriam. Her sweet little Miriam smile made me excited.

“What? What is it?” I said, eyes wide once more. 

“Look.” She said, pointing down. 

Turning my head felt like a slow motion sequence. Turning. Turning. Turning. And stop. (No hair flip necessary – my parents had given me what my mom said was a “darling” mushroom cut). 

That’s when I saw it. The sight of it made me clutch at Miriam’s hand beside me, tugging ever so slightly in silent excitement. Liquid gold sunshine fell through the trees, landing on it in such a way, making it look magical. 

In the far corner of the large property sat a house. It was peach coloured and looked lived-in. Between the house and our perch on the wall lay a cluster of trees and vines, and what may have been a haphazard attempt at a garden. Empty pop bottles and pieces of cardboard littered a corner of the “garden” and spilled into a small pond. The pond was directly below us.

Two objects floated in the pond: a pelican and a pedal boat.

Both pelican and pedal boat were beautiful. Beautiful and magical, and I found myself happily dazed.

“Giiiirrrrrlllsss. Time for supper.” Mom’s call for dinner broke my pelican induced daze. 

Miriam glanced at me with a triumphant look on her face.

“Lets come back tomorrow.” She said.

We scampered back down the tree to the ground below, careful not to step on the S scratched into the dirt, and raced each other into the house for dinner.

Our adventure had been hugely successful. And the next would be even better. We’d befriend the pelican, feed it fruit and brush its feathers with our fingers, all the while enjoying a leisurely cruise around the pond in the pedal boat.

Best of all, no one would know but Miriam and I. Miriam and I and the pelican.

Sloko Lake

Shotgun shells
painted the dirt.
Only the pine trees
knew the story.

The story of the pair of bodies
found face down in the lake,
angering the fish
with their cold eyes
and colorless skin.

It’s all fun and games
until someone points a gun at you.

Falling pinecones
echoed in the forest.
A Black Swift flew silently.
Smell of cedar smoke
on the air.

Grey clouds
closed in on the lake
as the bodies slowly made their way
to rock bottom.

All was quiet, and snow began to fall.

Dream-like

Little girl footsteps,
thumping with enthusiasm,
down the hotel hallway.

She knocks and runs,
quick as a flash,
giggling
and eating mouthfuls
of flyaway hair.

The hotel has a
palace-like quality to it.
Life-sized chess set,
caged Hawk
on the roof,
Mango lassie’s
on underwater bar stools,
Dutch baked goods
at the breakfast buffet.

This palace is not her home.
Oh no.
She lives down the hill,
in the small village
by the Nile.
With street dogs
and bread baked
by the sun.

No concept of what would come.
No hint of hardship
in her bright eyes.

Perhaps the scorpions
could have told her,
told her what life
would be.

Teach me this game!
She said insistently
to the man with
the long finger nail,
curled shoes,
and kind eyes.

And he did.