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She got the idea from binge-watching “The Office” two nights in a row.

Handing him a small, white candy-coated pill, she told him, “This is not going to make you feel better.”

He took it, popped it into his mouth, and swallowed it in all about three seconds. He cringed and made a face where his tongue pocked out of his mouth and his eyes crossed. She handed him a glass of lukewarm water that he gratefully took.

“Then how’s it supposed to make me feel?” he asked after gulping down half the glass. He always had really bad migraines and nothing ever worked, so she decided to at least try and make him feel better with a joke.

She shrugged. “I don’t know.” Taking out the packet she’d made for Mr. Fabuloso’s Magical Candy Pills, she shook it in front of his face for a moment before turning it over and pretending to read the content information. “This isn’t real. I got it off this weird-looking hippy dude downtown. He looked like Dumbledore. Said they were magical pills. So obviously, they’re probably drugs.” She glanced at him and smirked.

He rolled his eyes. “At least tell me it’s candy.”

“No can’t do. They’re magical pills by the infamous Mr. Fabuloso.”

“Were you watching your mom clean with Fabuloso?” His eyes darted down to stare pointedly at the cabinet they both knew contained her mother’s special cleaning supplies, all purchased from the local Supermarket down the street that catered especially to the neighborhood’s demographic of middle-aged Dominican mothers.

She looked away and pursed her lips at being discovered. “No.”

He sighed dramatically, lifted a hand in a half-assed wave, and turned around. “See you tomorrow. I’ll let you know how the magical drug pills worked out.”


The next day, she found him waiting at the bus stop with a very serious look. His hands were forced deep into his pockets, shoulders hunched over as he concentrated on the concrete cracks.

“Kyle?” she asked tentatively as she neared him.

“Dude.” He shook his head. “Whatever you gave me, it’s fucked up.”

She laughed nervously. “They were tic-tacs, man. Stole them off my little sister.”

He shook his head more vigorously. “No. No. I cut my hand yesterday, with a knife.” Slowly, he removed his hands from his pockets, palms up. They looked just fine, no cut in sight. “This morning, it was gone.”

“Oh, shut up.” She laughed harder, trying to still the sudden hammering of her heart. “I literally took the idea from The Office, when Jim gives Dwight those ‘magical legumes.'”

Kyle stood and gripped her shoulders. “I’m not kidding.”

“Are you trying to get back at me for the tic-tacs?” She smiled brightly, trying to avoid looking into the dark pools of his eyes. “Because it’s kind of working.”

“I swear!” And then he shrugged off his book bag, taking out a small dagger from the smaller zipped pocket. “Look.” He brought the blade down across his hand and all she could see was bright red blood pouring down his caramel skin.

“What the hell, Kyle!” She backed away, bumping into the glass that encased the bus stop. “What the hell!”

He showed her the cut, deep and oozing. “Just watch, okay? It’ll be gone.”

She shook her head, inching along the wall until she was suddenly free. “No way, man.” And then she took off running, back the way she came, trying to get as far away from her friend.

It was around the time she’d be coming back from school when the doorbell rang. Her stomach sank all the way to her toes as she walked slowly to the door, dreading who would be waiting on the other side. It was no surprise to her to see Kyle’s face, magnified by the peephole, staring into her eyes.

“Listen, you gotta open this door.”

She did so reluctantly, dragging the chain down and turning the knob with a shaking hand. Kyle stood there waiting patiently, imploringly. She almost felt bad.

He offered her his hand. The one he’d cut that morning. The one that had seemingly healed in just a matter of eight hours.

There was no cut. The deep wound she’d seen him inflict on himself had mended and the skin looked just like new. He held the packet of magical pills in his other hand, which shook slightly as he moved it towards her.

“You did something to them.”

She shook her head. “I swear, Kyle. It was a joke. They’re tic-tacs.”

“I’m telling you. There’s something in them.”

She looked over her shoulder to the living room, where her younger sister was coloring and happily munching away on the rest of her tic-tacs, which she’d kept from her older, thieving sister. When she looked back at Kyle, he was still holding the packet, only this time his hand was shaking hard.

“Take one,” he insisted. “Take one and tonight, just cut yourself a little and let me know. ‘Cause something is happening. I know I’m not crazy.”

She nodded slowly, taking the packet and dispensing just one white-coated pill that was really just a flavored tic-tac. She popped it into her mouth, swallowed just like Kyle had the day before, and coughed.

“Okay. I’ll let you know tomorrow.”

He stared at her for a moment longer before turning on his heel and stalking away, not turning to look back at her once. She watched him wait at the elevator, watching him as he stepped onto it and the doors slid close. She watched the numbers count down until it reached 1. She watched until she felt her little sister pull on the hem of her sweater.

“Did he like the tic-tacs?” her little sister asked.

She nodded and closed the door.


The next morning, she found Kyle waiting at the bus stop, looking even more troubled than the day before.

“So?”

She showed him her hand where she’d carefully cut herself with a small kitchen knife. She’d waited till way past midnight, when she was sure her family was asleep and wouldn’t be awoken by her yelp of pain as the knife sliced through her skin.

But what Kyle saw wasn’t a cut. It was her newly-healed hand, with nothing but the lines of her palm that told her about her future love and career choices. The cut that had throbbed painfully as she tried to sleep had disappeared by morning. She’s stared at it all throughout her morning routine, during breakfast, as she walked to the bus stop. She stared at it waiting for the cut to reappear and start bleeding again, like it was supposed to.

“You were right.”

“Holy shit.” Kyle stood up and started pacing, ignoring the disapproving look of the elderly woman sitting down on the bench. “Holy shit!”

She nodded, trying to keep herself from smiling when the elderly woman grunted in disgust. “What should we do?”

Kyle stared at her incredulously. “We? Not we. You. You’re gonna steal more of your sister’s tic-tacs, do whatever magical nonsense you did before, and stick em in this packet. Or I don’t know. I guess you can try magicking something else.”

She scoffed. “I don’t have magic.”

He looked affronted. “Uh, what the hell do you call this then?”

“A fluke.” She paused for a moment, thinking. “A placebo effect?”

“Whatever it is, we gotta figure it out.” He took her hand–the one she had cut the night before–with the hand he’d cut the morning before. “You ready?”

She was.

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Person X Day

Kim did not know Person X personally–actually, no one really did. Person X existed long before their time, did something extremely heroic, and now a day existed in their honor. She was sure that whatever they did–it was written in one of her textbooks, she was sure, or maybe she could look it up on the NetXGear–was truly an amazing feat. It had to be, since they had a whole day dedicated to them.

Person X was actually one of her ancestors. She didn’t like telling anyone. It would be so embarrassing to admit that she didn’t even know what Person X had achieved so bravely and in the same sentence let someone know she was actually related. What a terrible family member. But it wasn’t her fault. Her mother didn’t like talking about it. Her mom was convinced Person X wasn’t actually that great at all and whenever Kim asked about it she would purse her lips and refuse to speak about the topic any further. Come to think of it, Kim should have looked Person X up on the NetXGear ages ago, but her mom’s refusal to spill the beans always kept her fingers from typing away at the name.

Mom must have a good reason, Kim supposed.

Kim wondered what she would have to do to get a day named after her, and if her descendants would hate her just as much.

Moved to Tears

The town was old. Grace didn’t like it very much. There wasn’t a lake or a river or a puddle of water anywhere for miles and miles. They had the audacity to call the town Tears. Maybe it was talking about all the tears that were shed at the prospect of moving to such a crappy town. She’d cried about it for hours. It didn’t change her parents’ plans at all but she felt better when they cringed at the sight of her swollen eyes and bright red nose.

Served them right for moving her to Tears.

There was only one high school for the whole town. Her mother had pointed it out to her on the drive through the dingy streets. Just the sight of the rundown building with its old red paint was enough to send her into tears again. Her father sighed in exasperation as her mother tried to calm her down, promising ice cream and lasagna and a trip to Disney! But Grace wasn’t ten years old anymore. Ice cream, lasagna, and Disney weren’t enough incentives to forgive the travesty her parents had committed.

They said it would be good for them. Fresh air. Quiet living. Her own room. She would’ve picked living in a closet under the stairs for the rest of her life over moving to the middle of nowhere.

Grace wanted to remind her parents that “middle of nowhere” was usually the setting to scary movies and while she didn’t want to be insensitive, the color of her skin would surely lead to her dying first in the case of a ghost or serial killer. Her father, who’s skin was as deep as hers, would survive only because he wasn’t even part of the movie. But Grace? Angsty black teenager angry at her parents? She was a goner. Scary movies told her so.

Her parents didn’t find her ghost slash serial killer movie plot very compelling. In fact, it just made them take back their offer of lasagna.

That first night was the hardest. She had a giant room full of sunshine and a big old tree with branches that occasionally scratched at her window. She could imagine filming some youtube videos in her room and all the comments that would express jealousy at the size of her bed or the walk-in closet. But nothing made the move to Tears any better. So she lay in bed that night, the moon lighting strips of the floor, the branches scritch-scratching at her window, and cried again.

In the morning, after rubbing her swollen eyes and removing the crust that had settled on her eyelashes, she took a look at her window. Then, when she wasn’t sure she was seeing correctly (had she really removed all that cry-crust?), she moved closer and cursed her bad luck.

There were scratches on her window. Like sharp fingernails had dug into glass. Like some serial killer had seen her driving up with her parents and seen ANGRY BLACK TEENAGER tattooed on her forehead.

She cried all the way to the bathroom for good measure.

second time around

A recent book I’ve read (and re-read… twice) is Cinder by Marissa Meyer. I’m a big sucker for young adult books, especially in the fantasy genre, partly because I’m trash and partly because I just love the “first time” experience that usually accompanies young adult stories (like first kiss, first crush, first love, first kill, etc.). So I had been seeing the title floating around on Goodreads for ages but every time I read the synopsis, I just wasn’t feeling it. Maybe because it had a hint of science fiction and I really, really dislike science fiction. But finally, I decided to force myself to read it and man, oh man, was I unprepared for the amount of love that developed in my small, five-foot-two body.

This book messed me up. I became obsessed. I couldn’t stop talking about it. I made my boyfriend read it, even after promising him that it was totally not his style. Like this book possessed me in a way I didn’t know I could be possessed. I’ve experienced my fair share of obsessions (Final Fantasy, Hana Yori Dango, Harry Potter, Two Dots) but this love was on another level. My whole life suddenly revolved around Cinder, Kai, and Lunars. I needed to read every book as quickly as possible. The devastation I experienced after discovering the final book of the series was not to be released til 2016 was indescribable.  Just kidding. I can describe it. It was awful. I cried. I went and found fanfiction. I was so unsatisfied with the fanfiction I found that I contemplated writing my own. Instead, I went ahead and messaged my friend in New York to tell her she absolutely had to read the book because I had to talk about it to someone or else I would die. She took her sweet time reading it and if I’d been true to my word I probably would have died before she finished but I’m a liar and I desperately wanted to talk to someone about it, so I waited.

The story is easy enough to guess through the first few chapters. The characters are relatively refreshing but nothing inspiring or innovative (except that our heroine, Cinder aka Cinderella, is a damn CYBORG). The setting is interesting but not so elaborate or well-painted that the images appeared like paintings in my mind. Nothing like that. But it was so good. I was hooked. I was rooting for my main girl Cinder. I even liked the antagonist, badass Levana. Like I was all over the place with this book. I wanted to know every single detail about every single character on every single page. I could not have enough.

Consumed my life. Could barely teach my students without wanting to fall to my knees crying about Kai and Cinder. I wish I were exaggerating. I might be a little. I can’t really remember because those few days I first spent reading the series are a serious blur of emotion.

Anyway, I recommend the book. Don’t think it’s gonna blow your socks off, but man will you be entertained. And slightly invested.

If you’re crazy like me and want to talk about the awesomeness that is The Lunar Chronicles, please comment below because I’ve read the book about three times and like I still have a lot of emotions. Can you tell from this rambling garbage?

Stranger

He is not surprised he has found her.

He has found her in all of his lifetimes–in all of hers. He has found her as a woman, as a man, as something in between; married, single, a little of both; dead, alive, barely surviving. He has killed her. He has loved her. More often than not, he has only watched her from afar, because sometimes the way destiny works is unfair, and he cannot approach her.

This is one of those times. He is a tourist in Milan. She must be one, too. She sits a few feet away from him, talking animatedly to her partner–her husband? her boyfriend?–and the sun catches on the diamond ring she wears on her left ring finger. He knows it’s her just like he’s known all the other times too. The ache in his heart, as if suddenly squeezed tighter by a string that has been wrapped around the middle. He cannot concentrate on his friend’s words because he is too busy staring at the woman’s mouth, wondering what her lips would feel like against his, knowing he would never find out.

She catches him staring, forcing him to look away. His friend is shaking his head and he has to excuse himself in order to regain some kind of control. The worst times are when he can never truly meet her, when their lives are too distant and the oceans between them too wide too cross. This ocean in particular is painful, because he knows she is with someone else, and he knows that someone else will never truly love her the way he does–not all of her.

When he is returning from the bathroom, he accidentally bumps into her. Her small hand rests against his chest in an effort to keep herself from falling over, and his hand is wrapped against her elbow. She looks up at him, eyes sparkling, strands of dark hair falling across her face. She stares and stares and he is staring back.

“It’s you,” she says.

“It’s me.”

She nods and lets her hand fall to her side. She walks away without another look back and as he walks back to his seat, he wonders how he will meet her next.

listing

  • I promised myself I would write today after playing eight hours of Final Fantasy XII.
  • Those eight hours reminded me why it took me eight years to start playing again.
  • The game is basically 2006-high-def-torture.
  • I read through some of my college assignments and I was pretty great at bullshitting my way through every argument.
  • How on earth did I manage to do well in school?
  • I know I studied hard but when I think about it, my work ethic could absolutely do with some improvement.
  • See: playing a video game for eight hours.
  • It rained tonight and the air smells so fresh.
  • I truly wish the weather would finally, finally get warmer.
  • It isn’t.
  • My boyfriend has spent about eight hours trying to catch up on Game of Thrones.
  • He is on the last episode of Season 3
  • “Well… that was unnecessary,” he says about a certain death at a certain wedding.
  • Isn’t it all unnecessary?
  • I’m trying to read more but, again, my time has been absolutely and utterly wasted playing this stupid video game.
  • I SPENT LIKE SEVEN HOURS GRINDING, I AM SO UPSET.
  • This has been a far more person list and post than I intended.

Third time’s the charm.

There were rumors of the witch in the forest, the evil that seemed to thrum in the air around the witch’s cottage, that those who struck deals with her were always left a little worse for wear (or dead). But there were deals to be made, because it was difficult for everyone, the rich and poor alike. After the war broke out, everyone had something they needed, something they were so desperate for they were willing to step into the dark wood, hoping to reach the witch before something else reached them.

Continue reading

He said

“What would I do if I had teleportation powers for an hour?”

The older man gave him a small nod, wrinkled hands carefully folded atop the glass counter. “Yes. What would you do if you had teleportation powers for one hour.”

The younger man looked down, staring through the glass at the gleaming gold rings and Rolex imitations that had been neatly arranged on velvet pads. He knew what his girlfriend would say: “Take a vacation!” He knew what his best friend would say: “Rob one of those big-ass safes in a bank. Maybe a Swiss bank or something.”

Of course, he pondered about the limitations. Could he only teleport to a previously-visited place? Did he have to know exactly what that place looked like, or risk getting ripped to pieces by a time-space vortex? Would momentum be a part of the teleportation risks? Or was the power limitless, and as long as he could imagine, he could go?

“I guess I’d go to space for a bit. Properly equipped, of course,” the younger man answered, still looking at the jewelry in the glass case. “Could I take someone?”

The older man shrugged. “Sure.”

“Maybe take my girlfriend with me. Propose by the moon. She’d probably rather go on vacation, like teleport to an island and then worry about a one-way ticket back.”

The older man nodded. “Seems sensible.”

The younger man lowered his head to stare closer at a particular ring. “Yeah, probably space. Maybe I wouldn’t even come back. Unless I was proposing in space. My girlfriend doesn’t like space.”

“Then perhaps a space proposal would not be best.”

“Probably.” He pointed at a ring. “Is it a real diamond?”

It was not. “Yes.”

“I’ll take it.” The younger man reached for the wallet in his back pocket, the movement slow. “Yeah, I’d probably teleport to space. And maybe never come back.”

Charitable

I don’t think I’m a good person all the time. I think I try to be as good as I can, sometimes coming up short when I have a rough day or something goes wrong. There are times where I’m just as mean spirited and spiteful as the worst of people, and I often regret my actions when I’m in bed at night. But I try my best to be kind to others, to give when someone needs it, to listen when someone needs to be heard.

When I was younger, I used to try and give the bit of change I had to the homeless I would see walking through the subway cars, sitting by the sides of buildings, resting on park benches. I remember one time I was going home very late and a boy my age with dirty blond hair long and unkempt stopped me and asked if I had a dollar to spare. I reached into my backpack to pull out the few singles I had and handed it over. He seemed so surprised when I gave him the money that he thanked me several times over. I smiled and went down the stairs, hoping I didn’t miss the train.

Although I grew up relatively poor, my mother always did the same thing. If there was money in her purse, then she would hand it over to someone in more need. She once met a man who’d been kicked out his home with his young son. She invited them to our home, gave them something to eat, and began to sift through the remnants of my father’s clothing, the ones he left behind with us. They were a little too big for the man but she packed them away in a little suitcase that he took with tears in his eyes. I looked through my clothes to see if there was anything simple and unisex I could give too. There wasn’t much but the man was thankful anyway. We never saw him or his son again, but I remember my mother waving goodbye from the door as I stared at my mother in awe.

I don’t have the opportunity to give back as much as I would like. Or maybe I just come up with excuses not to give back. I’ve got loans to pay. I live abroad. I can barely keep myself alive, how can I be expected to help others? But I guess I try to make up for my unwillingness in other ways. Give up my seat to someone who looks like they need it. Helping an old man find the cheapest laundry detergent at the supermarket. Answering a survey for a student struggling in their stats class. Donating my clothes as often as possible. Although my money is a little dry, I try.

If I had enough money to give away, I think I would take it back to my neighborhood, or at least my general community. Fight racism, inspire inner-city minority students to keep working hard, to break stereotypes, to prove people wrong. I would want girls to try even harder, to go even further, to be unbreakable. To be true to themselves, whoever that may be, and to fight for the right to be whoever they want to be.

I can’t save the world, and I don’t have enough money to save the world, but I could try. Going back to my roots, to my people, and extending a hand like my mother always has is a good start.