Authors: Blair Mastbaum
“Hello?” his mom answers.
“Uh… is Clay there?” I ask in a dumb deep tone.
“No, Sam. He’s out surfing. Do you want me to tell him you called?”
“No, please don’t. Tell him to fuck off.” I hang up quickly, already feeling stupid about doing that to his mom. God, I’m a stupid little fuck. I roll off my bed onto the floor, which makes blood rush into the swollen areas of my beat up face. It lie on the floor and feel the strange sensation of my eye and nose throbbing just like my pulse, but harder. My face feels hot. A thin film of sweat coats my entire body. I never felt this alone before Clay. I never knew this feeling existed even though I complained constantly about feeling lonely. This is something different, this is deeper and I’m not sure I can escape it. I reach for a thick messy folder of haikus that I’ve written throughout the last couple of months, through the spring, then summer and up to now, except for the ones I wrote in my head on the way to see and on the way home from the horrible thing with Clay. I’m not going to record those. I don’t think my hand could actually form the word to write them down. I might stab myself in the eye with the pen. I guess this is what Sylvia Plath felt like. At least I know a true poet’s sadness now. Yeah, it’s so fucking great.
I look through all the haikus--most are hopeful and about nature and the weather and the pure beauty of Clay’s body and face and spirit and my spirit under the lame spell of him and me feeling horny in nature and wanting to do it outdoors like rabbits and the one simple leaf that falls and the one spring blossom that lasts only minutes and how scared I am that I’m a part of this vast system that renders everything ephemeral. Well I sure as hell fucking am part of it, because whatever stupid thing Clay I had was surely ephemeral, if not just a searing flash, like a strobe light in the big old world. It was an illusion, not that everything isn’t I guess. We just believe what we want to no matter what the signs and the earth and out friends and parents are saying from the outside. We just veer into danger like a drunk driver on our own blind paths of least resistance steering toward tragedy, heartbreak, and being totally alone so that no matter how hard I scream, no one will care. We’re able to ignore everything we ever learned and just abandon our intuition and just careen into the face of hell.
I fall asleep and then wake up as it’s almost getting dark outside and it’s cooled down, too, so I feel like I can cry and the tears will evaporate instead of just running down my cheeks and dripping off my chin with 10 hairs on it onto my smooth bony chest. I load my black backpack with my notebooks and all the folders of all my haikus about Clay and the time we spent together and jump out my window. I grab my board from by the front door and jump on it and glide down the smooth black asphalt. I cry as I push off and glide and I almost feel all right for a second. I love crying right now. The cool evening air makes my T-shirt flap across my chest and dries the tears as they flow. I skate down the main street and there are hardly any cars since it’s Sunday evening and I hardly think till I’m walking, carrying my board, up the little hill that leads up to the old stone marker up to Lanikai, where Clay hit me. As I walk out through the right-of-way onto the beach, the last of the Sunday beach crowd is going home to have dinner with their families. It’s getting dark now and I walk down the beach to try and see if there are still indentations in the sand where I fell after the punch. I can’t find any evidence--today was too crowded--and the tide is coming up erasing the weekend’s footprints and sand castles and complex roadway systems designed by younger boys who don’t know the pain I know. I sit down for a while and read my haikus, especially the ones that really are 5-7-5 syllables, when I cared about sticking to the formula, when I thought some sort of formula existed and things in life made sense.
His beautiful lips, I kiss and in return, I get a boner
I look in his eyes, my heart races, I get hard,
really love him. The boy I love has perfect imperfection, Am I his equal?
I read till it’s too dark to read. I walk up into the yard of a big house to look for a kayak or some kind of canoe that I can steal to take a cruise around, maybe out to the Mokes if the waves aren’t breaking over the reef. I sneak up into the dark yard and look under the house, where most people keep their canoes and there they are. Five or six of them in a row. I drag the smallest kayak out by the rope attached to the front of it and shove it into the gentle water and hop on with my backpack. I paddle out as fast as I can, just in case the people who live in the big house heard me. I stop paddling once I’m as far out as the first coral heads and I lean back and stare into the stars. I see my favorite constellation--the Seven Sisters of Pleiades--seven bright bluish-white stars in a cluster that have always drawn my eyes to them, maybe because they’re not lonely stars in space, they’re together and each ones has six other sisters to talk about their problems with. I sit up and feel sort of dizzy from my black eye and swollen nose. I’m in the blackness that I usually only stare at from shore. It’s comforting and I always thought it would scare me. It doesn’t at all. Maybe Clay made me stronger, braver. How could I not be braver now? I fought for every word I ever said around him, fought for every verb I performed with my parents, my friends and him while I was with him.
I take my beat up, sticker-coated folder of Clay haikus out of my backpack and watch the papers flap in the gentle breeze. If I didn’t hold onto them, they’d blow away, skip across the surface of the ocean till the water weighs the paper down and sinks them, taking them. I open the folder up and let them fly. A gust blows like nature is again on my side, helping me. Months of haikus scatter into the ocean. As the last gets pulled from the blue paper folder, I lie back and stare at Pleiades and cry. The salt of my tears stings my swollen nose. I sit up and look for my haikus in the dark blue water. The last of them sinks, waterlogged, into the ocean and begins its gradual process of decomposition, returning to dirt or scum or biological matter till the words are meaningless, which I guess they always were. I paddle out even farther till the shore looks like a double string of white lights--the real lights and the reflections on the water. I squint and the island looks so small, so insignificant in this huge universe. I’m a tiny piece of dust--God, I never wanted to think that. I’m not some hippie Hawaii boy, but fuck, I’m small and I know it.