Perhaps it’s the gallon of coffee shooting up your veins, but you swear the blank page mocks you. You wait for a newfound sense of inspiration to hit like an in-denial alcoholic waits for liver disease: sluggish yet inevitable. Your chipmunk cheeks rest upon the calluses of your hands as you wait patiently for that eureka moment to kick in. Or the two Advils you took for the tension headaches plaguing your temples. Whatever comes first. Pouting, your exhausted eyes register the only two words remaining on the document. In all your unadulterated glory, you manage to type out your full name and the date in a size twenty Comic Sans font.
Regardless if it’s the growing shadows under your eyes or the usual insanity, you know one thing for sure; Mark Twain would and could kick your ass for calling yourself, this five-foot-two failure of a Filipino, a writer.
In an attempt to lift the fog, your solution to this early mid-life crisis involves more coffee than necessary. Your taste buds can’t help but crave that familiar aftertaste of Guatemalan beans and Splenda. The aroma of roasting coffee beans give you some semblance of hope that maybe, in your twenty-four years of life, everything will turn out fine in a typical sitcom kind of way. However, this is reality, and you’re old enough to understand not everybody gets (or deserves) a Prince Charming and a happily ever after.
You pour yourself the coffee until it’s filled to the brim and ready to spill on your alabaster countertops. Whispered prayers leave your chapped lips that this will be the spark to an eternal flame, the first page to a novel long overdue. The drink kisses at your lips, shy and steady before emptying its content into your throat. Boiling coffee settles inside your empty stomach and sloshes around with a half-eaten sesame bagel from dinner. For once, you’re not satisfied by a mere sip of the drink but more barren than the Sahara.
The ends of your long sleeve rub against your mouth like sandpaper to a shoe to remove coffee stains. In God’s perspective, your issue as a failing author is but minuscule, a speck of stardust floating in the vast galaxies beyond you. At the end of the day, you chose this life with the idiotic idea that you could write; that 11th grade English teacher of yours fooled you into picking up a pen to write angsty poetry. But, before figuring out how not to bury yourself deeper into a grave, this is all you can do now: coexist and try not to interfere for those with excellence running through their veins.
Never did you imagine yourself here, sipping coffee that’s as mediocre as yourself and debating whether to steal a car. Or run as fast as your stubby legs can move and hide in yet another metropolis under a different alias. Oh, who are you kidding; your career drowned itself in a puddle before anyone realized you lacked everything to enter the sea of novels. Because, if you’re being honest with yourself, a rarity of sorts, you’re a writer that never quite grasped the ability to write well, which is a slight hitch in becoming an aspiring author.
Fate, what a funny, funny thing.
It’s quiet—the kind that swallows you whole and spits you out with nothing more than lethargy and brittle nails. These days, you are exhausted of being exhausted. Collapsing into your single sized bed, the fake silken sheets wrap around your legs like pythons to prey. The pillowcase soaks up the oils from your skin and salt-water tears dripping down your acne-scarred chin.
A bottle of cheap Pinot Noir rests upon your nightstand, waiting to rid itself into your empty stomach. Your fingers wrap around the bottle, sudden as if your body depended on it. Cocking your head back, you press your cracking lips to the opening as the drink burns your throat dry. You didn’t want to go to bed like this: (somewhat) drunk on a half-opened bottle of Pinot Noir with waves of pity lapping around your ankles.
Why did you want to do this alone? Why did you want to drown in debt in a New York apartment? Why did you want to kill the spiders without Mom’s guiding hand? Why did you want to be twenty-four and unhappy?
The bullet-shaped raindrops bang on your window, almost asking permission inside the apartment. Maybe they can keep you company before the roses fade from your cheeks and light disappears in your eyes.
Your tongue jumbles into cherry knots tangled at the seams as your mouth opens. A soft sob escapes your throat before placing a shaking hand over it. You can’t speak as if you swallowed the ocean whole, painful like salt burning your throat dry and bleeding.
You hate to admit it, but you miss your mom; you’re twenty-four, and it’s unbearably clear that you still can’t function without her arranging the sock drawers. It’s been an eternity without her as the distance grows larger with every mere step away from your past life. But, she’s not the one that left everything behind; you did.
After everything—hair dyed platinum blond, crooked teeth whitened to blind a passerby, six-inch heels to appear more regal than before—deep down, you’re still you. You can reduce the size of your nose, buy denim blue contacts like the sky, pretend your name is Karen Rose to a new boyfriend, and still be you. Because no matter where you go, your shadow follows, and everybody knows a shadow can’t lie as well as a smile.
But you failed, and now everything is falling apart at the seams; your facade is breaking, your walls are shaking, and God, that one sitting on cotton candy clouds, knows the person you need doesn’t want you anymore. The ghost of your past self rips off these masquerade masks, nails clawing at the disguises hiding whoever the hell you’ve become. Until it’s gone—all of it. Now, lying in the bed with dirty tissues and golden satin sheets is a hurricane where a person should be.
After everything you’ve done to leave, your fingers tremble and dial the number you’ve suppressed for too long. Then, you hear it; the voice of a woman you thought was dead in your life.
“Hello, who is this?”
“Ma, it’s me-“
The line ends, static fills your ears like unwanted thoughts and Elmer’s glue, before you can breathe another word, another cry.
Alexa Malto is currently a sophomore at Bishop Moore Catholic High School residing in the sunshine state, Florida. She has had no prior publishing other than the Blue Marble Review. Other than writing, Alexa’s free time consists of re-reading her favorite novels, sipping coffee at midnight, and eating leftovers with her family.