The character Cherry’s point of view from S.E. Hinton’s “The Outsiders”
The ink is smudged on the edges,
my father’s finger prints left behind.
I pick up where he left off,
to read the obituary of a young man.
Shot down, not because of race
or because he was guilty.
But because he wanted to die.
I sit back and watch
one after the other suit up.
At the age of twelve
they are ready for war.
Should I pick a side?
Neither would listen.
I’m either a traitor or a fool.
They don’t wear suits of armor
and they don’t carry guns.
Cigarettes dangle from their fingertips
and leather lines their limbs.
They don’t remember why they fight.
I’m not allowed to have a say,
but I do, and it won’t help.
Ending the feud kills them instantly,
continuing to fight prolongs death.
It gives them the false sense
that their death is their choice.
They are but smudged names
on the edge of my father’s paper.
Not dying because they are guilty
but because dying is the only way out.
The flashes of light that glide past my window
remind me to flip the switch above my windshield wipers.
In an instant, the black road is illuminated
by guiding orange dots, every three or so flattened.
Most likely by a distracted driver like myself.
I scan the road sides, like one bad car accident
after the other. I know I should look away,
but I can’t.
The rubble of prized possessions,
sunken pay checks and saturated memories.
I roll my window down
and go cross eyed staring at the flame,
letting the orange embers fly behind me,
like tiny lumineers, left to warm the night.
A matted brown couch lays upside down,
dragged to the curb by evacuated owners.
My bright lights uncover
neon letters sprayed down its back.
“F” “U” “C” and a broken chair leg that hides a “K”
“O” “F” “F”, like the bug repellent.
I assume the concept is the same.
If those that paid for it can’t have it anymore
neither can the Vultures lurking to pick
from piles of hurricane stricken belongings.
“Are they that hurt?”
She askes as she follows my pointed finger.
I turn the car around heading back
towards a road with its own lights.
A small child waves a reflective flag as she crosses.
She surrenders for a town that isn’t ready.
The orange embers die as I turn into my driveway
and my gas light reminds me that I almost went too far.
I grabbed a lizard so fast that his tail fell off and continued to flop around.
That was before I found the sleeping mole and kept him in a box
under my ruffled pink bed skirt next to my Barbies. My mother told me when
we moved that I couldn’t kiss our neighbor in the box fort I had made.
I simply wanted him to know I liked him. I have trouble keeping people
out. That baseball boy was in my dream last night; we have never spoken.
His roommate rolled out of my bed as I mouthed his name in my sleep.
If I had the money, I would leave right now and drive to Maine, and eat
a lobster roll at 5 a.m. when I arrived. I didn’t get a job until I was 18.
And I gave away 50 dollars on my first day by accident. I’m not one for excising
in conventional ways, however, banging your head against a wall
burns 150 calories an hour so I’m still pretty fit. I’m a fish, I’m a Pisces.
I could tread water all day. I think cigarettes are disgusting, I still smoke
them once a month. If I’m drunk, I don’t turn them down either,
I’m ashamed but not enough to stop. I think clichés are a good thing,
because they connect us. But I pretend to hate them like Comic Sans
along with the rest of the world because I don’t feel like explaining.
I’ve been a coward. I’m not anymore. On good days I ride with the windows
down singing Journey songs to strangers I know I’ll see again. I don’t plan
on going back to where I came from. There isn’t anything left there for me.
I’m not a bird coming and going with the seasons. I’m a bird who landed
in concrete, the ability to fly but forced to be stationary. I’m not mad about it.
When I hear a song, I remember where I was the first time it came on.
My goal is to keep my life in an old karaoke machine, one with songs you know,
ones you can sing along to; no matter how much time passes.
Alone to together
Radio to vinyl
Vinyl to radio
Far to near
Happy to sad
Sad to happy
Green to red
Calm to nerves
Nerves to calm
Far apart to close together
Beginning to end
End to beginning
Lips to lips
Line to smile
Smile to line
Moment to forever
Memory to reality
Reality to memory
Goodbye to hello
Hello to goodbye
When you’re being
In a place you’ve always been
Do you ever sit
In a spot you always sat
Do you ever think about a thing
You always thought
Do you ever dream
A dream you’ve always dreamt
Do you remember who you were
The first time you sat
The first time you thought
The first time you dreamt
Do you remember the second
Or the fourth time
Do you remember all the times
All the times between the first and now
Remember all the times you sat
All the times you thought
All the times you dreamt
In just one place
Do you realize all the ways you’ve grown; changed
All the things that have been
All the things that now are
All the things that happened
In this place you’re being
In this place you’ve always been
I hope someday we get to know why it all happened.
I hope there is some one who is going to help us understand.
He will let us in on the secrets that made life a mystery at the time is was happening.
I wonder what he will say to explain you and I.
Maybe by the time he tells me, I will have already figured it out on my own.
The hurt will be gone.
I will have found a new muse to fill these pages.
You will just be someone I used to know, Some words I used to write.
I can't wait to love again.
The moment that I felt we really started living,
Was the moments when we started making some mistakes
We had the art of mistake making down to an almost science
From our mistakes we learned what the other side of life felt like
And we fell in love
In love with the idea that we could break and yet,
We could be fixed
Because that is when true living begins,
When you stop being so afraid of what you could become
And start dreaming about what you have the chance to become
The moment that I felt we really started living,
Was the moments we started making some mistakes
In a matter of seconds, we became a cliché
Screaming in the bed of his truck with our hair flying behind us
We were three teenagers,
Following in the footsteps of those who had come before us
Being undeniably unoriginal, and not caring at all
I felt incredibly connected
Looking up at the millions of stars,
I felt whole
It is a feeling that cannot be put into words,
But I wish I could
So that I could give it to you
So that you could hold it
In its entirety, in your hands
But you have to go out,
You have to find it for yourself
You have to experience it with the ones that you love
And I promise you
In those fleeting moments of invisibility
You will look up at the stars
And feel whole
You will pass by a million people in your life.
Some will become apart of you,
And some will leave and take a piece of you.
Some you will expect and some you will be surprised by.
Just like I was when I fell for someone I had seen every day and hadn’t thought twice about.
He was my opposite and so I had written him off.
But thinking about it, it makes senesces,
To become whole you have to find someone with the parts of you that you lack on your own.
But when it happens, you are taken by surprise.
Feeling whole is so unexplainable that even if you feel it a million times it will still come as a shock.
So you can imagine my emotion,
When having my head in a book or writing all alone lead me to the person,
Who would prove to me that feeling that rush of emotions was still possible for me.
She was falling
Falling with an intensity that sent her stomach into her throat
She was walking through haze
Her hands in front of her face
Hoping to prevent herself from walking into her own death
But she knew he death was inevitable in this place
And then she was falling again
The thought sent her back into the never-ending pit
She was reaching and screaming
Desperately wanting to go back to what she knew
Where she felt safe and loved and happy
She awoke with a jolt
Realizing that falling was simply a dream
But the fate that awaited her was no dream
And all of a sudden
She was falling