Registered & Protected
5 AM

moon above and streets below

this hand will always be here for you to hold

you hear guitar chords and your finger twitches in the ghost of her skin; she reincarnates herself in the hollows between your thumb and forefinger, your forefinger and middle finger, but never anywhere near your ring finger nor your pinky — promises do not exist because she never married you. your hand blurs and you are not sure if it is from fear or lost of vision or both. you think of kitchens and kitchen knives and kitchen knives in hands and hands dripping in blood and blood on your second favourite shirt. that is when you blacked out, (never faint) and you thought, “please take me with her” because everything everything everything is black in darkness.

she scribbles on the back of receipts that goes with the condoms they bought and again and again it is always the same, “please give me a refund.” her bangs are self-cut time to time and never admired as he musses it up with his hands when he forces her down and if she were to shave her scalp it still would not stop him from leaving his marks on her head.

she almost drowned once. walking away from a fight of which both parents cut ears off and shriveled rapid hearts. the water shivered across her shoulders darkly and her hands felt invisible under the murky surface. her body felt invisible. her eyes closed; she did not want to know where the soundless would take her.

she chokes and chokes and chokes until she frails about, arms moving but he would not take her and she drowns in him. they say it is more frightening than painful, this drowning business, but she hurts where her neck pulses, she hurts where she could not reach for anything with her hands, she hurts where she could not breathe.

he always wants a claim, wants property ownership, wants a right to what he does not have a right to. he fingers the collarbones of the trees like he would a lover, hoping to call it his no matter who it belongs to. he draws hands, he likes my hands the most. “they have knots in them,” he says and i wonder if i am a tree to him, wonder if he loves me as much as he does them. he takes my hands aggressively until the blood is squeezed out of that region, takes me and squeezes me until my body becomes silent. but my blood seems to pulse and i know he hates it, despises the fact that i am still here to witness what he has done to me, still here for him to be angry at, still here to love him.

When he types he gets everything out of his head first. “To make it pure,” he says. He constantly has to go back and fix his words and sometimes his words are jumbled and no one really knows what it means so he leaves it as it is. He always wants to be good, wants his thoughts to be the first bird of the spring.

"Charlotte," he starts, "I want to be real." I strum on my guitar and tell him I do not know how to make him real, I am not really sure if we are really real at all.

"I see you," he says earnestly, leaning in and breathing sweetly into my face. "I can smell the perfume you put on. I hear you when you sing." He kisses me and lingers. He lowers his voice and begins whispering hotly. "I feel you, I taste you. Am I not real?"

I cannot answer him, so instead I hum right on his mouth and both of our lips buzz with an intensity that would cause an earthquake for an ant had it lived on our faces. I ask him if that was real enough.

"For the moment," he says after thinking a little. "I wonder if we become real when we die." Well, I say. When you die, be sure to come back and tell me what it is like to be real.

He laughs and I smile, telling him pain was close enough to feeling real. He stops and looks at me. “No,” he says commanding. He holds me. “No.”

he has dark green eyes. his fingers are rather big, his knuckles are about one-and-a-half of mine. gets out his iPod, lets me look at it. plugs in one earbud, offers me the other nonchalantly. chooses a song, blasts it up. I have to hold the bud against my cheek. I wonder how he hears well. I awkwardly bend close for the maximum length of the cord. me: pause, scoot my chair over to the left. him: pause, scoots his chair over to the right. my favourite song, he says. I look at the title, make a note to remember it, forget it within a minute. we comment on the comments in his book, about his homework flashcards. his fingers are wide, freckles cascade lightly up his arm from his hand. I look at him. he has green eyes. I smile and so does he to ease the silence of our words. he studies, I look for songs in his iPod. I press “chasing cars”, snow patrol. I like this, I say, and he glances up in surprise. didn’t know I had it, said he. takes iPod from me, touches five stars. we listen. I sneak peaks at him from under my hair. his eyes are dark. he writes so childishly, a light scrawl from a careless first-grader. he stops and glances at me looking at his hands. I look up at him. he smiles, I smile. back to reading. I feel it. I feel a bursting sensation wanting to get out. I suppress it, keep it down. I calmly want him. I want him so bad. bell almost rings, I give him back his earbud and we look at each other. the close proximity doesn’t seem to bother him at all and I delight in it. closes book, off to class.

He wiped his glasses on my shirt. “I feel like a rag,” I complained. He put them back on and looked at me, turning his head to the side a little. “Maybe you should dress differently.”

I told him I was his Goodwill. “Anything you do not want, please give it to me, I would gladly take anything of yours,” I said and he laughed. A watch he thought was ugly, a money flower someone gave him and he had no use for, his ancient English papers he did not know he still had, a whistle, a book that he never bothered to read, a battered wallet — he gave them all to me. What I liked most were the old shirts he did not wear anymore and I slept with. Then one day he asked, “You are my Goodwill, right?” and I justified that and he then said, “There is something I do not want anymore, but I am not sure if you want it.” But I said I did, and he hesitated before placing my now disowned heart in his hands and walking away with his head down.

"I still love you," he said. "I still care."

No, you do not. I wanted to scream at him. I wanted to slap him until he finally felt some emotion, until he felt anything. I suddenly wanted to hurt him until he was nothing left but a pile of ashes. Like the dirt he is.

"Fuck you," I said coldly. I turned to stone. He turned into fire. We resisted against each other.

My mother asked my grandma if she dreamed of my grandpa often.

Yes, she said simply and I thought, of course she does.

What does he say? my mother presses, and I wonder if this bothers my grandma. He is taboo, he is not mentioned in any case.

I don’t know, I cannot remember, my grandma replied. They are only dreams after all.

“Excuse me,” he said softly and it was as if her body was a stove and everything inside melted like chocolate as she turned to face him on the river steps. “Do you have the time?”

“Do you have the time,” she repeated in some sort of a mix between a mumble and a praise. Do I have the time for what? I do have time for a date, I do have time to give you my number. “Nine thirty-six”, she replied, and then spotted the clock tower in his direct line of view.

“Thank you,” he said and went back to listen to the band playing on the floating stage. He listened with his eyes, which were wide open and his hands gestured as if he were the conductor. His ears tuned to the music, a paperback book stuffed in his back pocket, which he was reading earlier and sitting squarely on now. She did not catch a glimpse of the title.

She imagined scooting in closer and making small talk, and at the end of the show she would produce her lovely black pen out of her bag to scribble elegantly her number on his skinny hand. “You’re cute,” she would say with a wink. “Call me if you need the time again.” And then walk the other way. She would glance over her shoulder to find him looking down at his hand in amazement.

But she stayed put and so did he, and at the end of the show they departed ways. All she had was the memory of his soft voice saying, “Excuse me.”

“But he’s not in any of my classes. He’s in Biology with Anna.” Anna was a freshman, and Curly and Grace were sophomores.

“Aren’t you taking Biology?” I asked kind of confused.

“No, I took that last year.”

There was a little silence.

“Well, then I’m sorry your man isn’t smart enough to be with you,” I said, meaning it both ways. She laughed.

“Shut up and give them back to me,” Kohana said with surprising viciousness.

He backed up a step, surprised. “Whoa! She got guts.”

“That’s what will spill out of your body if you don’t give them back!” Kohana continued, feeling brave.

Shino looked at her in amazement and replied saracastically, “You wouldn’t dare!”

Kohana swiftly socked him in the stomach, sending him a few staggering steps backward.

“You-you…You punched me!” he gasped.

“I would’ve slapped you but maybe that’s too girly!” Kohana replied.